08 Sep 2013

Belfast, Northern Ireland


Belfast is by far the most walled segregated city in the world. They have 45-foot “peace” walls all over town (Berlin was 14 feet) to keep people out not fence them in.


Allyn writes "Shalom" legally on the wall.



They have heavily gated areas that are only open during weekday work hours. Note here there are two sets of fences. Each side closes theirs at precisely the same time.



Even though the children play in the same park, they don’t know the others are on the other side. They go to different schools, and live with their own.

Ireland factoids -  One Island, 2 political divisions since 1921

Northern Ireland – 1/6 the size, part of UK, majority is Protestant,  (nominal) capital is Belfast, uses Great Britain Pound

Republic of Ireland – 5/6 the size, separate country, mainly Catholic, Dublin is capital, uses Euro.

The problems started in 1553 when Henry VIII taking over Catholic Ireland and gave Protestant privilege. It has always been about community and privilege not religious observation.



In 1964 things exploded with both sides murdering each other and martyring their own killers.

For example, McKeag murdered 17 known people, and never went to jail. He did Britain dirty work. Then they killed him when they felt it was time for peace. That is why both sides have issues with the Brits.



The 35 year ‘Troubles” in Northern Ireland stemmed from objections to British military presence brought in to protect the Catholic minority. It lasted until late 1990s. They couldn’t get work and moving south to the Republic of Ireland didn’t help because things were economically just as bad there.

Then the UK granted NI a devolved government where they are allowed significant self-rule.

There are two basic political ideologies. Unionists, mainly Protestants, want to remain part of the UK.  Nationalists, mainly Catholics, want a united Ireland.

Discrimination is absolutely forbidden now.  That is a start but not enough. Until a generation of kids grow up playing, schooling and knowing each other there is no shot at real peace. Only then will it be safe to bring the walls down.

05 Sep 2013

Invergordon, Scotland

 Nice day.
Nice walk.


Nice town.

04 Sep 2013

Edinburgh, Scotland


I wasn’t sure what to expect, but that is about what I got, only better.

It seems like every building in the city is important.


The castle is immense.

Factoid – Whereas US and Irish spell whiskey with an “ey”, Scotland and the rest of the world spell whisky. They don’t say Scotch here. They tend to just say whisky because of an almost fun arrogant attitude that all legitimate whisky is made in Scotland.

03 Sep 2013

Southampton, England

We started the cruise segment of our European summer leaving Southampton (south of London) last night on Regent’s Voyager.

Shortly after leaving we lost steering, the ship swerved, and it looked like we were heading for land. There was a lurch when they did something corrective with the anchors and we waited for a while learning that things were going to be fine.

The captain did a good job of updating us several times over the next couple hours and today.

There have been way too many cruise ship issues the last couple of years. I know nothing for sure but figure the reason has to do with some of the following:

1 .Maintenance cutbacks
2. More ships in the ocean
3. Statistical variance
4. Technology is ahead of the game and things take time to work out kinks.

I think it is the last item. Costs are too high for those type cutbacks. The passenger counts are way up but much of that is due to much bigger ships. Variance is too simple of an answer.

The newer ships have lots of high tech items. Whether it is sophisticated propulsion or just electric it is generally new and it takes thousands of iterations to work out all of the bugs.

Anyway, that is my theory.

29 Aug 2013

Barcelona, Spain


Love Barcelona. More than anything its architecture sets it apart, (JetSetWay, Aug 10, 2011) thanks to Antoni Gaudi, the famous Catalan architect.

This is the last of our five Mediterranean Sea resort cities, which wraps up the August portion of our 2013 summer trip. September brings a couple cruises and then October some serious poker events.

We had an outstanding dinner tonight at El Cangrejo Loco on the beautiful port exactly where the 1992 Olympic Village was located.

Why the picture of a wine bottle and bucket? Well I like my white wine extra cold. The waiter poured about a quart of rock salt into the ice water. That somehow slows down water molecules, which in turn lowers the freezing point. Note the ice that accumulated on the outside of the bucket. Those of you who make ice cream probably already know all about this phenomenon.