Monthly Archives: March 2009


London Tour: Southbank

The Thames Path along Southbank, from the London Eye (seen in the previous installment) to the London Bridge, is one of my favorite walking routes in Central London. At intervals, it gets very congested with tourists and other gawkers, but it is mostly tolerable. The views, though, are great. Here is an across-the-river vista with

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Family update, 03/30/09

Becky has left for China with her classmates. The itinerary will take them to the major Beijing sights, such as Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square, plus a day-long outing to the Great Wall, and a two-day trip to Xian. I directed her to take as many pictures as she can, with hopes

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A war poem

Becky’s history curriculum this year includes World War I, and as part of her coursework, she was supposed to imagine herself as a Wilfred Owen and write a poem about war. All I can say is that, parental bias aside, I find it amazing that such a piece can be written by a 14-year-old who

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London Tour: Thames and London Eye

Westminster Bridge is always chock-full of tourists and you often need to step into the roadway to cross it. However, it offers brilliant views over the Thames, so after walking past the Big Ben, we made the requisite effort. Here is what the river looks like.     And here is the view across the

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Quitting AIG: A banker’s tale

With a tip of the hat to Brian, here is a resignation letter from one of AIG bonus recipients that is very indicative of the overall mood within financial industry. I find these passages the most telling: I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that [AIG Chairman/CEO Edward M. Liddy] failed to stand

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London Tour: Parliament Square

Continuing with our walk around London sights (previous entry is here), we come to the Parliament Square. Despite the fact that it is one of the busiest traffic circles in central London, the actual square in the middle – obscured by the bus in the picture, unfortunately, – is a pleasant place to linger in,

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March movie roundup

You would think that after a short hiatus I’d come back with plenty of stuff to talk about. You would be wrong. I am not touching any of the current events or political topics (not that I have ever been prolific in that area), there is nothing exciting going on at home (only a couple

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London Tour: Buckingham Palace

We have seen dozens of royal palaces around Europe, and the Buckingham Palace in London is one of the outwardly dullest of them, grey, blocky, and all. (The interior is quite impressive, though, if you ever manage to visit it during the two months in the summer that the palace is open to tourists.) But

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Please go hug someone you love

And don’t forget to tell them that you love them. ————- A good friend expressed his concern for me and mine in an email, and that highlighted for me the fact that, if you did not come across my offline notice of yesterday and only saw the title and one line above, you might become

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London Tour: St James Park

Walking along The Mall (which we entered via Admiralty Arch) towards the Buckingham Palace, we leave the lovely St James Park on our left. Even in February, on a warm day, you’ll find people basking in the sun here. Imagine what it looks like on a balmy summer weekend (yes, those do happen occasionally even

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Homework on Fridays

I wrote in the past about my views on British education and its differences from the American brand. The main gist was that under the right conditions, British system looks somewhat superior, but in the state educational environment on grammar school level, I don’t see much of a difference. I kept forgetting to mention one

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London Tour: Admiralty Arch

One of the streets converging on Trafalgar Square (the previous entry in the series) is The Mall, which runs straight to the Queen Victoria Memorial and the Buckingham Palace. Access to The Mall from the square is through Admiralty Arch. Its name symbolizes solely the fact that it adjoins the Old Admiralty Building. It was

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Three hours under arrest

I only went back to Russia once in the years since I emigrated. Did not like that journey much, for a number of reasons. The pervasive state of dilapidation on Russian periphery at the turn of the century was the primary reason. The commonplace boorishness of service sector employees, from shopping assistants to receptionists, grated

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A travel quote

I’m reading a passage in a travel book that describes a little town on canals in Italy as “not exactly Venice, but rather Bourton-on-the-Water disguised as Portmeirion”. I realize that not only am I familiar with these references, but I can vividly imagine what the town should look like from the description. Which turns my

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London Tour: Trafalgar Square

On to more famous sights now (the previous entry in the series is here). Trafalgar Square, in my view, is the center of London, where every first-time visitor to the city eventually finds himself – and, potentially, lingers for a while. It can be insufferable during staged public events and it is always too busy

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On time travel

My brilliant brother pondered this thought the other day: If you had a time machine, where would you travel first? Assuming that you are universally invincible. He suggested several more or less obvious choices for consideration. Witnessing the Big Bang. Seeing the asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs. Witnessing the Exodus of Jews. Following Jesus to

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London Tour: New Row

The next installment of our virtual walk around London (the previous post in the series is here) has just one picture, of the corner of New Row and St Martin’s Lane in the West End Theater district. Seemingly nothing special here, but I find these kinds of streets irresistible.    

Mixed weekend

This has been one of those weekends that can be filed under the oh-so-frequently-used “the good, the bad and the ugly” label. Starting with the ugly. We decided to go out for late lunch on Saturday afternoon, to a place in Greenwich that Natasha had targeted for a while. The meal was quite nice, the

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