Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pardon the Interruption

I don’t know how it happened. I am pretty sure it was a slow, subtle thing. I think it was the influence of the boys who would hide the remote control and then turn the TV away from the news to what they wanted to watch. Not wanting to fight a battle over something that did not matter, I began to watch “their” show. And now that show has become the closest thing I have to a regular TV show. Pardon the Interruption (PTI).

Why do I like PTI? Kedra was quizzing me on that the other evening. [She kinda likes it too.] I said that I like the interaction between the two hosts and the fact that they are discussing the most relevant sports new in a real, narrative fashion, fulling exposing their opinions. It’s fun, informative, and entertaining.

Kedra says the reason I like it is because it has a timer for each topic, so you know exactly how much time there is until the conversation ends and moves to the next topic. Hmmm. She’s probably right about that. I do think I am ADD, so I like the short segments that end and move to the next topic.

Kedra, the kids, and I were talking about the show and the countdown timer the other night, and I made the joke, “We should do church like that!” “We should put a timer on the songs, the prayers, communion, the sermon, the announcements, etc. If anyone goes too long, then the horn would sound the notice that it is time to move on.” Well, before you call me irreverent, just know that it was a joke.

BUT you should also know that on a visit last fall with my OCU-B students to Sherwood Oaks Christian Church we found out that every portion of their worship assembly is “timed down to the minute,” according to the man taking us on the tour. They have 3 worship assemblies and classes on Sunday morning, so timing is everything. One of my students had visited there, so I asked her if she noticed any rushing or if it felt too structured. She said, “no.” The tour guide told us that they work very hard for the timing to not be noticeable.

Building a Wall & Seatbelts

Yesterday I built a wall. I would usually advocate tearing walls down not building them. I am hoping that my sabbatical time is allowing God to remove some walls in my heart and in my life so I can be more effective for him. But yesterday I built a wall.

Why did I build a wall? For my small group that will begin meeting in my home sometime in April. I built a little wall in our basement to help “frame” some large, unstructured space. I think it is going to be a great place for the group to meet. Last week I finished painting the ceiling down there, and I hope to begin painting the walls soon. I find it all pretty relaxing and enjoyable. That’s a good thing.

I’m so glad Alan M. is OK. My parents told us early Tuesday evening that they saw a truck like Alan’s all smashed alongside the road and wondered if we had heard anything. “No.” But we began to wonder and to be concerned. I told Kedra, “There are lots of trucks like his,” wanting to believe, praying that nothing had happened. A little while later the phone rang; caller i.d. indicated what we did not want to see: David and Linda’s number. Linda told Kedra that Alan was OK and proceeded to tell the story of the wreck. Here’s that story, in case you missed it.

(ORANGE COUNTY) - An accident on State Road 60 near the Orange-Washington County line claimed the life of a young Henryville woman. State Police Jasper say 20-year-old Troy Montgomery of Henryville was traveling eastbound on 60 when, for reasons still unknown, he crossed the centerline and went into the westbound lanes striking the vehicle of 40-year-old Charles Morris of Orleans.

Neither Montgomery or his passenger, 20-year-old Lauren Hanner, were wearing their seatbelts. Montgomery was flown to University of Louisville hospital in critical condition with chest injuries, Hanner was reportedly found dead at the scene. Both occupants Morris's vehicle, Morris and 26-year-old John Stewart of Mitchell, were wearing their seatbelts and suffered smaller injuries.

Morris was taken to Dunn Memorial Hospital in stable condition with minor lacerations, Stewart was flown to University of Louisville hospital with leg injuries, but was also in stable condition.

One very interesting thing that Amy told Kedra was that Alan just recently started wearing his seat belt. Wow. Thank God. Indeed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Monday Morning

The Pathfinders came to our house last night. Troy and Jamie drove them out and did a great job of leading them in a meaningful discussion. It was great to see them all.

Go Giants! I wouldn’t call it hatred, but I really do not like the Patriots. It’s kinda neat to see Eli doing so well after being denigrated quite a bit earlier in the season by fans and the press.

Did you see/hear that the press has already prepared an obituary for Britney Spears? Wow, that’s pretty sad, but I guess her bizarre behavior leads some to think it might be needed before too long.

Have you ever written your obituary? Back when I worked in hospice this was a common thing in the training process of volunteers. People who are working with the dying need to have confronted the reality of their own demise. It’s a good thing to do. What would people say about you at your funeral? Death is an interesting thing, but, thanks to our relationship with Jesus, is nothing to fear (Hebrews 2).

Tony is off today for Martin Luther King day, so we are going on a long run this morning. This is his last long one before the 50K on Saturday. I have 6.5 degrees right now, but I am hoping the sun will warm things up a bit. Actually once you get going the cold is not that bad. One neat thing that happens is that your eyelashes get icicles on them!

I am presently reading Islam for Dummies. It is very interesting and appropriately titled for me. I’ll share some of the more interesting parts with you at some point.

Check back some this week. I am starting to feel the urge to write.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

From The Home Office on Saturday Evening

Wow, the blogging bug has disappeared. I am really trying to do a lot of waiting right now, which I think is a key part of the sabbatical rest. I’ll keep waiting on the blogging bug, but in the meantime I will tell you that I am alive and well.

It’s been a good week of transition. The trip Down Under was full of activity and emotion. This week has been a counter to that. I have been doing a fair amount of reading, and I made a trip to IU’s library yesterday and checked out about a dozen books. They cover everything from life in Istanbul to the Graeco-Roman setting of the book of Acts to a book on church councils (many took place in present day Turkey). I am also reading a book on Islam and a little about Russian history.

I had lunch with Pat A. yesterday, and then I stopped by to see Todd T. Last night I went to the Mitchell high school basketball game. There I had nice talks with Bigg Daddy and his horse queen, the Eubanks, Troy, and a few others. Just call me Mr. Social.

Went for a run with Tony this morning; the 9 degree temp. kinda made me miss that Down Under summer. In related news, I have withdrawn from the Mountain Mist 50K. My knee injury took away 4 key weeks of training. I think I could do the deal, but it would be a struggle. Tony is going to go ahead, and I predict he will do very well. The run is on Saturday, one week from today.

I am concerned about the GE plant closing. Robin R. works there. Pray for him and his family.

Since I have been away from you I have worshiped with the church in Tasmania, in Auckland, and in Bryantsville (twice, including last Sunday evening). I am still trying to decide about in the morning. I am really enjoying seeing how others worship. It is very refreshing.

Well, here are a few pictures of where I am hanging out most of the time.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I’ve been doing a lot of staring at the walls for the last couple of days. I think I am coming around a little better today. My brain is still not fully engaged, but, hey, that’s not that unusual.

I just talked to Wayne a little while ago, and he wanted to know what I thought about this sabbatical thing. I said, “still trying to figure it out.” I explained that it started just a few days before Christmas, so there were lots of “Christmassy” things to do which meant there wasn’t much “down” time. Then as soon as Christmas was over we left for 18 days “Down Under,” which was full of excitement and stimulation. I think the resting part is just now starting. I have a little more than 3 weeks before I head to Russia, Greece, and Turkey.

I really enjoyed watching the snow yesterday, but when I went for a run it was a little shocking to the system. I had more than 2 weeks of running in warm “shorts and singlet” weather, and even though I was dressed for the cold, yesterday still was quite an adjustment.

I am hoping for a little snow tomorrow...

Check back here from time to time. I have lots that I want to say, but I am going to wait until I am a little more alert.

Thanks for all your support.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In the Air Again

I begin this as we await our departure from Hawaii. We’ll fly overnight and arrive in Chicago early in the morning; then a brief layover followed by a short flight to Indy.

Today we watched the sun come up from the side of Diamond Head, and then we made our way to the Arizona War Memorial. Both were moving experiences.

Something funny happened while we were waiting on the sun. A Japanese couple came jogging along. We thought they were there to watch the sun rise. I guess we were wrong. They jogged in circles for a little while, kinda high-stepping. Then they stopped. The man started barking out orders to the woman. We looked. He was instructing her in some kind of martial art type calisthenics. He barked the orders, did the moves, and she followed about a nanosecond behind. Maybe you had to be there, but it was very funny. I am thinking of trying this with Kedra...

I was moved and impressed with the war memorial. I’m not sure why I have been to it before. It was simply wonderful. Those of you who have been there know what I am talking about. The feeling is a little bit beyond description.

I guess I should feel a little sad that this portion of the trip is over, and I do in some regards. But I am also very thankful that we were blessed with this experience. I love my family beyond words, and it was such a pleasure to spend time with them.

Well I didn’t do much reflecting in Hawaii did I? (See previous posts) Maybe when I get back home?

[Home now. Pretty uneventful trip.]


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Friday - Last Full Day in Hawaii

All good things must come to an end. This trip is no exception.

Today was our last full day in this paradise-like place. It was a good day. I got up early and waited for daylight. As soon as I could see I took off to run up Diamond Head. I was on the summit 1 hour and 8 minutes later. It was quite a climb and quite a run. On my way I got to watch the sun rise up out of the ocean. Stunning!

I took a longer route to get back “home,” so I had a nice time in perfect weather.

When I got back everyone was ready to go to the beach, and off they went. I stayed behind to clean up. I then went to the International Market Place for lunch. Today I opted for another chicken dish; well, at least it said it was chicken; it tasted like chicken. [Some have suggested I have been eating cat or dog; funny.]

I joined the crew at the beach for a while, and then we decided to drive for a little while. I took everyone about half way up Diamond Head to see the beautiful views. We then continued around the coast. We saw a whale (couldn’t get a picture) and a sea turtle (see photo in slide show). We didn’t get far, since we stopped to look at the sights.

We were back on the beach for the sunset. Sorry I have included so many photo of it, but it really is something special. After the sun disappeared, Maddie said, “I feel like we should applaud.” Indeed.

Tomorrow we plan to get up and watch the sun rise from the side of Diamond Head. Then we will make our way over to the Arizona War Memorial. About midday we will pack up and head toward the airport. We fly out late in the afternoon and arrive in Indy on Sunday a.m.

Here are a few photos for you. Remember to move your browser over the lower left corner and then click on the hyperlink (blue letters) to see it fully.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Honolulu Nights

We have just come in from our second evening in Honolulu. I have been here several times on my way to, or back from, Australia and New Zealand, but I think I am enjoying it more this time than ever. The weather is just so pleasant, and the atmosphere is so relaxing. We watched the sun go down this evening. Wow! [I caught a few photos for you.]

Maddie, Lester’s wife-to-be, joined us yesterday. She flew in yesterday afternoon, a few hours after we arrived in the morning. We are so glad she was able to join us for these last few days. I hope she still wants to marry Lester after spending the nights with us in a hotel! I guess it’s a good test of her love and commitment.

The last couple of days have been more about being than doing. When I asked the kids what they wanted to do they said something like this: “Nothing, just go to the beach.” So basically that’s what they did. I went for a run this morning, scouting for a long run tomorrow. I want to run to the top of Diamond Head. I think I have it figured out...

Honolulu is a good place for us to transition back into our culture. There is still quite a blend of cultures here, which I really enjoy. This evening we spent a little time in the International Marketplace. It is located right across the street from where we are staying. There is a great food court in there. I had some Korean spicy barbecue chicken. Yum. We also attended a free Polynesian show on the beach. It was so nice.

I guess that’s enough for now. I’ll try write some more tomorrow.

Here’s a slide show for you. If you will run your cursor over the bottom left corner the title of the show should come up. Click on the title to open a new window and see all the captions.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Greetings from Sydney (again)!

We’re back in Sydney, a slight backtrack on our way to Hawaii. We have about 4 hours to wait here, so I’ll try catch up a little. We have had to pay for internet access for the last few days, so I have been a little rushed in getting the blog and slide show together and uploaded. I do as much as possible offline, but a lot of it can only be done online. The internet in our hotel was 68 cents a minute (!), so we rarely used it. Instead we went down the street to one of several little internet “cafes”. No food was served, but there were lots of strange people around taking advantage of the $2 per hour rate. Interesting. We have not found free internet access anywhere in Australia or New Zealand. I am hoping for it in Hawaii.

Yesterday, Tuesday, was our last full day in NZ, and what a full day it was! We left before 7 in the morning and drove to Tauranga. There we found Julie, a dear friend from our past. Julie and her husband Greg were our closest NZ friends when we lived there. We spent a lot of time together, often going on “holiday” together. Greg and I would fish and golf the entire time, and Kedra and Julie would talk and do other things.

It was a little tough seeing Julie yesterday. Greg is no longer around; he died of cancer about 7 years ago. (She has remarried.) I fought tears as I left Kedra with Julie as the kids and I went on to do other things. I was able to speak with Greg a time or two before he died at age 43. He was cremated, so there was no grave for me to visit. It feels strange that he is no longer with us. I do expect to see him again, however.

The kids and I went on down to the Agrodome , which is near where we were on Monday. This is a really neat place that provides an entertaining education about sheep farming in New Zealand. It was a great time.

Following the Agrodome we went to find some fish and chips (our fourth and final time). We found a little place on the edge of Rotorua. You can see the slide show for a picture of it. Inside we found a funny sign; we took a picture of that too. There is nothing in the our area that compares to fish and chips. Yummy!

After our feast we went back up and met with Kedra and Julie. Julie’s family runs a honey shop, so visited it. It is quite an interesting enterprise. We have a few containers of the heavenly goo securely stored in our suitcases. After saying good-bye to Julie we made our way back to Auckland.

Jean, Lynette, and Darryl had asked us to come for a final tea (supper). We were happy to enjoy one more scrumptious home-cooked meal with these wonderful people. After we ate we got into our big old van, and it started right up. But the lights would not come on. Hmmm. “We can get home before dark,” I thought, so on I drove. It was raining very lightly. I turned on the wipers, but there was no response. “This is not good,” I thought and said. Then I pulled over. I was not happy, but the boys thought it was a great adventure. They tore into the fuse box, and I started walking back to Darryl’s, which was less than a mile away.

Darryl is quite mechanical (reminds me a little of Brent F.). We drove up to the dead van. The boys had found nothing. Darryl looked at the battery; the cells were dry. Long story short: several phone calls (some frustrating) and two hours later, around 11 p.m., we were back in our hotel. I’m have not received a divine revelation about the purpose of the delay, but I’m sure there was probably something to it or something to learn. Patience?

We left the hotel mid-morning today (Wednesday) and have had no complications thus far. It is 4.15 p.m. Sydney time, which is 6.15 Auckland time, which is 12.15 a.m. your time. I don’t know what time it is in Hawaii, but I do know that we get there before we leave (at least on the clock).

This is getting a little long; sorry about that. I do want reflect a little on the kids and the whole Down Under experience. Maybe I can do that in Hawaii? I don’t think we are going to do much there. It seems that my kids are more into being than doing. This is a good thing, I think.

Love to all.

[This is being posted from Hawaii for free! I had trouble in Sydney connecting to the right websites.]

Monday, January 07, 2008

Steamy Monday

Today we went to Rotorua, which is about 3 hours from Auckland. We had a nice, pleasant drive there and really enjoyed seeing the beautiful countryside. There seems to be fewer sheep than I remember; seems like there are more cattle now. Another thing that struck me is the amount of corn being grown. I think this is in response to its use as an alternative fuel. I saw lots of Pioneer signs.

Most of our time was spent at Whakarewarewa (spell check does not like this word). It is a Maori village build upon a geothermal region. There is a lot of steam, geysers, and boiling mud. It is very interesting. We had a wonderful time. On the way home we stopped and got some Hokey Pokey ice cream. It was/is one of my favorite New Zealand foods. The ice cream here is amazingly good!

Well, here are a few pictures for you. They include some Maoris performing some of their cultural identity. The haka is my favorite. Here is a link to a video that some else made.

Tomorrow is our last full day in New Zealand. The time has flown!

Blessings to all.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Saturday & Sunday

The last couple of days have been diversely interesting.

Late Saturday morning we went to Darryl and Lynette’s to get organized for a bike ride. We had a bit of a Kiwi lunch: roll, butter, “salad” (lettuce, cucumbers, etc.), and some chicken; quite yummy. We loaded some bikes onto the back of the van and headed to Woodhill Forest (check out the galleries). Once there Darryl generously rented bikes for the 4 kids and me. We then set out for an hour of interesting riding.

Darryl is quite an accomplished rider. We were all impressed with some of things he did, e.g., flying through the air off narrow little ramps. It was serious stuff, potentially dangerous. The kids and I weren’t so brave, but we had a wonderful time. I managed to crash into a tree hard enough to bloody my cheek. Cool. Today I am reminded of how bike seats are not made for comfort, and, no, it has not affected my ability to think.

After the bike ride we came home. Darryl fired up his grill and commenced with a Kiwi Barby (we discussed how to spell this; it is short for barbecue.) He grill kebabs, sausages or “bangers,” and steak. We had a feast!

We were joined at dinner by Jean Wheldale and Denise Roberts. Denise was a member of the church for a short time before we left in 1989. She is a wonderful, encouraging Christian woman. I asked her, “What is the best thing that has happened to you in the last 19 years.” She said, “The baptism of my son Peter.” Her son is now a young leader in the Morningside Church of Christ.

Today (Sunday) we made our way to the Morningside church. John Staiger, the minister, and I had corresponded. He asked me to teach the morning class and to preach, which I was honored to do. The church at Morningside is healthy and impressive. God has done a wonderful thing there. This morning there were people from every continent. It truly reflects Auckland and the neighborhood in which it is found. There average a more than 100 people each Sunday, and spirit of unity was wonderful, truly Holy. John is doing a wonderful job.

It was wonderful to see several people from our past. Others that we would have liked to see where out of town. It is peak holiday (vacation) season here, so many people are out and about. I found myself fighting tears during the singing. It was moving and heartfelt, and to hear all the different accents blend together was beautiful. I believe the church there is a good picture of the Kingdom of Heaven; “every tribe, language, nation...” It was so wonderfully moving to commune in that community of Christ this morning.

This afternoon we have been wandering around the bays. The sun came out fully, and it is simply perfect weather: low 80s and light wind. The last few days have been pleasant, but the sun was heavily filtered by the clouds.

We are getting ready to enjoy a nice evening meal.

We all love you and miss you very much. I am looking forward to getting home, but not before enjoying a couple more days in NZ and a 3 day stay in Hawaii. More tomorrow, Lord willing...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Reliving the Past

It’s been a good day, sometimes quite emotional. It began with a long run around the bays. This brought back a lot of memories; it is where I used to run with Lester Farrell, the person who talked Kedra and me into coming to New Zealand. He had a profound impact on our lives. I have talked about him some in my Sunday school class. The run this morning brought back many memories of him and others.

About midday we got in our mini bus (diesel; seats about 12!) and left the hotel and headed for the North Shore; this is where we lived while in New Zealand. It has changed so much since we left that it was hardly recognizable. First order of business was to find some fish and chips.


Off to Milford Beach to eat them. We had a wonderful meal! This beach is where we used to take baby Lester. I also use to run along it on a regular basis as well. It is less than 10 minutes from where we used to live.

We found our old house and the place where we met as a new church. So many memories: some tough, some pleasant. We have included a few pictures in the slide show, along with the shops that Kedra used to visit on a regular basis. This is where Lester spent the first several months of his life.

After wandering around the old neighborhood we wandered our way up to Jean Wheldale’s house. She lives in a beautiful sea-view cottage, near the beach. I left Kedra and the kids there and made my way to see an old friend, Grant Trevarthan.

I did not announce my visit, so he was quite stunned to somewhere that he had not seen for nearly 20 years. I fought tears during most of my time with him. Grant is a wonderful person. I have thought of him so many times over the last 20 years. We had a wonderful visit, and I wept as I prayed with him before leaving.

I went back to Jean’s for the evening meal (they call it “tea” instead of dinner or supper), which was simple and scrumptious. It felt so good being there. After some wonderful Pavlova, which is a wonderful New Zealand dessert, we made our way back to the hotel. The sun has now set, and I am about ready to get my beauty sleep. From the looks of my pictures below I need it.

You don’t need to email me about this.

Oh, thanks to those of you have emailed words of kindness and encouragement!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Zealand

We are now in Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud), the Maori name for New Zealand. We lived here for about 5 years (1985-1989). It feels strange being back. Rebecca asked me if it was a good or bad strange. I said that I wasn’t sure; just strange. After walking around a little this evening in 80 degree sunshine I am pretty sure it is a good strange. [Sorry ‘bout that - I’ve been following.]

As we flew from Australia to New Zealand, which was about a 3 hour flight, I was thinking about our time in Australia. It really was whirlwind tour of places I have been in the past. It was a wonderful time of resurrecting good memories and making new ones for the future. These new ones are multiplied by 6.

I wondered what it would be like to live there now and minister. I have changed a lot and have more experience and knowledge. Would God use me in a better way? I’m not sure; probably a different way. What I am sure of is that I don’t have the desire to engage that culture presently. I’m too busy trying to figure out ours. The more I observe the Australian culture (and ours too) the more convinced I am that we must listen to a voice outside ourselves. It is not within ourselves to direct ourselves. Seems like I’ve heard that somewhere else.

We arrived in Auckland mid-afternoon today. Auckland is 3 hours ahead of Brisbane. We are currently 18 hours ahead of you. It is 8.15 Thursday evening here, and it is 2.15 Thursday morning where you are. What’s neat is later on today (for you), say about 1 p.m., you can look at the sun and know that we will see the same sun at 7 on our Friday morning. Boggles my mind, really. I hope to be on a good long run about that time, covering old territory. I’ll be a little slower but I am still running...

We were met at the airport by Jean Wheldale, her daughter Lynette, and Lynette’s husband, Darrel and their three kids. It was nice to see them. We are going to visit with them the next couple of days. Jean lives on the beach evidently, so we’ll go enjoy that. Darrell wants to take us bike riding on some trails Saturday and then do a down-under “barby” (cookout) for us afterwards. Sounds good.

We are staying downtown Auckland, right on Queen Street, which the main street of the city. We are 21 floors up in a very nice place (you can see some of the views we have in the slide show below). There is a lot of hustle and bustle and people from all over the world are present. I ate at a little Turkish fast food place this evening. It was good!

Everyone is doing well. The first week of this adventure has been pretty quick-paced. We now are going to slow the pace and enjoy the beauty of New Zealand. There is very little on the agenda for the next 6 days. I’ll keep you posted on what develops and what we do.

I am thankful to the Lilly Foundation, to You, and to God for this wonderful experience. I am feeling new life and enthusiasm already.

Blessings to all.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Australia Zoo

Today we traveled north of Brisbane about an hour to visit the Australia Zoo. The Sunshine Coast is presently under the influence of a low pressure system that refuses to move on, so we had a mixture of showers, clouds, and filtered sunshine during our 6 hour visit. The unusual, damp at times, weather certainly did not dampen our enjoyment of the zoo. It was great! I liked to Koalas the best.

Ben from the time he was a little boy has wanted to visit this zoo. He was a big fan of the Croc Hunter, so today was a realization of a dream for him. All of us enjoyed the experience. I felt a bit of sadness that Steve Irwin is no longer alive. There were lots of videos of him, and it’s almost as if he is still alive. I felt really sad when we came across a memorial to him. There were 1000s of tributes in various forms. I have included a couple of pictures in the slide show; they don’t really do a very good job of capturing what was there, however.

It was neat to have Terri Irwin, Steve’s wife, host part of the croc show. Wes, Steve’s right hand man, was there along with her. Also present was little Bob, Steve and Terri’s son. We did not see Bendi Sue.

After we left the zoo we came home “through the country,” taking off the beaten path routes. We drove along the coast quite a bit. The sea is really rough due to the unsettle weather.

We travel to Auckland in the morning. We are really looking forward to getting to New Zealand. Some of our old friends are going to meet us at the airport. We really enjoyed our time in Australia, especially Tasmania, but it will be great to get back to more recent familiar territory.

Well, I am tired, so I will sign off for now. It was another great day, a gift from God. Please keep praying for us.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Riding in Cars with Iraqis

We had an interesting taxi ride to the airport this morning. Our driver, very helpful, friendly and talkative, is an Iraqi. I began a conversation with him because he had a picture of Mary on his visor. I asked him if he was Orthodox, thinking the picture might be a picture of an icon. He said, “No, I am Catholic.” Interesting.

As we chatted I asked him where he was from, and he told us, “Iraq.” We started talking about the war, Saddam, etc. Our driver and his family fled Iraq sometimes during the 90s after the Gulf War; they had very little money.

He was in the army during the Gulf War. He was in a tank. I asked him about what is was like when the bombings took place. He laughed. He said it was like the fireworks over Sydney Harbour during last night’s New Year celebration, but he said it just kept going and going. He then said, "It was better in a tank than not in tank." I asked about his wife and children during that time. He said they were in a house in Bagdad simply terrified.

I asked him about the current situation. He said the U.S. fails to understand the deep culture differences between the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. He is very skeptical that peace will ever come. He is very thankful to be Australia, “the greatest country in the world,” according to him.

We talked some about the Turkish invasion into Iraq to attack Kurdish rebels (PKK). He lived for a couple of years in Instanbul before making his way to Australia. I asked him about Turkey and learned a few things about Turkish food. "Kabobs are the best."

[Now in Brisbane - going to Australian Zoo tomorrow; too bad the Croc Hunter is no longer with us.]