Thursday, July 18, 2013

Despite Facebook liar's claim, I am opposed to the death penalty

    I got defriended by a freenemy on Facebook recently, which is fine. Sometimes people disagree too much to be Facebook friends. He is a member of the George Zimmerman lynch mob; I think Zimmerman is a hero for stepping up to serve his community as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer.
   As part of the defriending process my freenemy posted on Facebook that "not to long ago" I told him I supported the death penalty: "Frank told me not very long ago that executing innocent Americans is just part of the price that should be paid to keep the death penalty."
    This is, of course, a lie that I was unable to counter since we were no longer Facebook friends
    Anyone (all two dozen or so of you) who has followed this blog knows that I oppose the death penalty on the grounds that too many innocent people are in jail. As I've said before, most prosecutors do their job fairly and ethically, but there are some bad apples out there who are in it just to win every case. Think Mike Nifong or Angela Corey.
    My views started to change some years ago, but the Duke Lacrosse case was the absolute turning point. It made be realize that too often unethical prosecutors act on political pressure and not facts. It's lynch mob justice. Since changing my mind on this issue I've also come to realize that even though most people in jail are guilty, we have a good number of innocent people in our jails.
    At any rate, to have someone just lie bothers me. As I told the guy in a message, I have enough views that are outside the mainstream for him to have to gin up false claims against me.
   Oh, and one final note. Most conservatives support the death penalty. I don't. I'm not going to get on a soapbox, but if you do support the death penalty, I hope you will take this opportunity to rethink it. There are simply too many convictions of innocent people for us to exact a punishment that can't be undone.
    Listed below are several posts I've had over the past few years concerning the death penalty. All of them express views that are exactly opposite of those that my former Facebook friend accused me of having.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 13, Dreisbach to Trier by bike

    July 13, Dreisbach to Trier by way of Saarlouis (again)

    The Dreisbach youth hostel had Wi-Fi available for three dollars. It wasn't the greatest signal, but I was able to get my email, including one from the Hotel Ratskeller in Saarlouis informing me that I had left my "charger." They offered to mail it to me.
    I needed the charger. I have a Galaxy Note, and like almost everyone with one of these phones my mini-USB charger has gone out, so I have to charge the phone with an external battery charger. So Lucy and I returned to Saarlouis to get the charger.
    We almost made a terrible mistake. Dreisbach doesn't have an active rail station, so we would need to bike to Mettlach, about four miles ahead, or backtrack to Besseringen about a mile.  I almost took the quickest route, but chose instead to bike on to Mettlach. Mettlach is less than a mile from Dreisbach as the crow flies, but as the bicyclist peddles, four miles. You have to bike around a long peninsula.
    The high-quality bike trail from Saarlouis to Dreisbach also peters out at Dreisbach. We were forced to use public roads for a short while, after which a more modest bike trail of hard-pack gravel appeared along the Saar.
    The ride from Dreisbach to Mettlach is simply beautiful -- the kind of natural beauty that is almost a religious experience. I've included a couple of film clips at the top of this post to give an idea of what the area looks like.
click to enlarge
    The train ride to Saarlouis took perhaps 20 minutes. We biked to our former hotel, picked up the charger, and then decided to get something to eat. We ended up having an ice cream lunch. Lucy had four scoops of chocolate. I had a waffle with ice cream, whipped cream, and strawberries. Mine came out after Lucy finished hers, and for some reason she thought I needed help eating it.
    After "lunch" we trained to Kanzem. This was only eight miles from  Trier, so it's not like we were doing an intense day of biking. I'd say we biked a total of 15 miles.
    When we started out the day, we quickly found that our muscles weren't sore, but our butts sure were! For the first few minutes we wanted to quit, but it got better.
    Shortly before we reached Konz the bike trails became more expansive, with the grass carefully trimmed and lots of park benches and so forth. The area along the Mosel from Konz to Trier is heavily used, by bikers, walkers, roller bladers, you name it. Oh, and there are a lot of ducks and swans to be seen.
click to enlarge
    We stopped to snap a photo of a couple of swans, and the big white one marched up to Lucy, stuck its head in the air and honked loudly a couple of times. We interpreted that to mean "get out of my space," so we retreated.
    Our hotel for the evening was again the Park Plaza in Trier, this time obtained solely through the use of 38,000 Club Carlson points. They didn't have the points and cash offer as there was a music festival in town. The festival included fireworks, so we weren't in Trier by accident. I love fireworks!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 12, Saarlouis to Dreisbach: a bit boring, but great bike trails and signage the whole way

July 12, 2013: Saarlouis to Dreisbach, Germany

    After our night in Saarlouis, Lucy and I were ready to start peddling. We headed back towards the train station, and when we hit the Saar River we took a left instead of crossing the bridge.
    The bike trail from Saarlouis to Dreisbach is about as good as one could ask for. For 97 percent of the trip the bike trail runs right along the Saar. It's a nice, wide, paved, concrete, or bricked bike path. The worst that can be said of it is that a few of the joints are a little rough.
    But overall the bike path is almost all one could ask for.
    About five miles north of Saarlouis we came to a river lock and a sign pointing across the river to a biergarten. We stopped by and I had a baguette pizza and a beer; Lucy had ice cream. All of the customers were on bike.
    Lucy didn't know what a "lock" was. Back in the olden days we were taught this is social studies, but today they spend all their time learning about the Kingdom of Mali, which is about as useful as teats on a breastplate (or boar hog).
    The only downside to the Saarlouis to Dreisbach bike trail is that it is a little boring. The Mosel has more villages right on the river, with steep hills full of vineyards. The Saar actually has a substantial amount of river delta land. Of course, learning about these things is what the trip is all about; so if we had fewer opportunities to stop and more to just see farmland, that's what this type of touring is all about.
    When we arrived at Dreisbach getting to the local youth hostel required navigating a large hill. We pushed our bikes and were not ashamed.
    German youth hostels seem to serve everyone except for what we would tend to think of as "youths." They are open to and you will see lots of families with children, older couples, in fact just about anyone. There are lots of groups with younger kids. The one group you don't see much of is youths aged 16-25. I think these "youths" are looking for more of a party atmosphere, even though you can get a beer or glass of wine at a German youth hostel.
    The Dreisbach hostel had a very institutional feel to it, but everything was spotless. Our room was simple, with a set of bunk beds. Linens were provided.
    We had half-board at the hostel, which cost a few Euros extra. The supper consisted a nice salad bar with feta cheese, Kalamata olives, eggs and other good stuff. Lucy and I had a private table, and a bowl of reconstituted chicken noodle soup was served to us (the kind from the box). For the main course they served us a giant fish stick or fish cake and a bowl of potatoes. The fish cake was a bit greasy; the potatoes were in desperate need of salt and pepper, which was not on the table or readily available. Tarter sauce was on the table, but no ketchup. Fortunately we brought a bunch of Heinz dipping ketchups with us, so Lucy ran up to the room and retrieved them. Our beverage was some pretty dreadful Kool-Aid type drink. A great supper, no. But for the cost, it's hard to beat.
    The next morning breakfast redeemed the mediocre supper. There were hard rolls, ham, salami, cheese, jam, and American style coffee served in a "hottle" at our table. It's all we needed.
    Our total cost for one night at the youth hostel was 43 Euros. This included supper and breakfast. We had to be up and out by 10 a.m., but in a way this was a bonus, as it encouraged us to hurry along.
    For families wishing to tour Europe on the cheap, youth hostels are the way to go -- unless you can use hotel points!

Did I forget to mention the ice cream?

    After arriving in Saarlouis Lucy and I enjoyed a treat on the hotel balcony, overlooking an old market area.
    Lucy got an ice cream. I got a beer.
    The regional beer for the Trier area is Bitburger, a very foamy pilsner with a really hoppy taste; more hoppy than Stella Artois.
    Enough of the beer. I just had to share the photo of Lucy digging into an ice cream treat. These types of dressed up ice cream treats for children are common throughout Europe. Lucy is old enough to order one of the more sophisticated ice cream treats, but the kids' ice cream was cheaper and a lot more fun!
    The restaurant had one treat called the Mickey Mouse. I wonder if they are paying a royalty.

Reliving the past -- Lucy and I are retracing part of my 1975 bike trip

    I’ve been reliving the past for the past couple of days.
    Back in 1975 I went on a bike trip that included a ride up the Mosel and Rhine rivers. I blogged on this about 18 months ago.
    Jinny, Ash, Lucy and I recently visited Paris and London, thanks primarily to Hilton, Delta, and Club Carlson points. I’ve been wanting to do some biking on the Mosel and Saar rivers, so Lucy and I stayed over. Jinny doesn’t have much interest in outdoorsy things and Ash doesn’t travel well, so it’s just the two of us.
    Our trip started out with an all-day train trip from London to Trier, with train changes in Brussels, Cologne, and Koblenz. We arrived at about 8 p.m. in Trier and took a cab to our hotel, the Park Plaza, which cost us 48 Euros plus 10,000 Club Carlson points. We should have walked, but I didn't print out a map ahead of time.
    On July 11 we slept late and rented bikes at the Trier train station. The folks weren’t terribly friendly, but they have lots of bikes and sure are convenient. Our cost for four day’s bike rental was 39 Euros each.
    We left our big suitcases at the hotel for later pickup and just traveled with two small backpacks, which fit in a basket on the back of the bike.

    First stop, Saarlouis, about 50 miles from Trier. Our first attempt to board a train failed. It pulled up at the other end of the station and the doors slammed shut before we could board. The second time around worked. The German regional trains have a car in the front with places for bikes.
    We arrived in Saarlouis at about 4 p.m. and bicycled to our hotel, the Hotel Ratskeller. I confess that I had to push my bike up the hill to cross the River Saar. There was a large pedestrian area around our hotel, and we ended up pushing our bikes through it, too.
    Confession being good for the soul, I must also admit that I got a bit confused as to how to enter our hotel. The hotel is on the upper floors of a building, and where I thought the entrance should be was the sign for another hotel, the “Hotel Eingang.” Lucy finally pointed out that she thought “Eingang” meant “Entrance,” and what do you know, it did!
    A bit of history about the Saar and Saarlouis. The Saar was long squabbled over by Germany and France. Saarlouis is named after King Louis XVI of France, who built fortifications in the town to defend it. After World War II, France kept it as a protectorate, and hoped to keep it permanently. However, the citizens were eventually allowed to vote – with 90 percent voting tto rejoin Germany – and the region was returned by France only in 1957, 12 years after the war’s end.
    Saarlouis really doesn’t have that many important sites, but it is as fine a place to spend the night as I have encountered. There are literally dozens of restaurants in the pedestrian area to choose from. Lucy and I found a pizza place that wasn’t too expensive, so we both ordered a pizza. They forgot to cut it for us, but we just cut it with our forks and knives.
    Our plan for our first day of biking is to pedal our way to Dreisbach, a distance of about 15 miles. We're not trying to set any distance records.

    NOTE: I’m just kidding about the pizza. In much of Europe pizza is served as one piece, and you are expected to eat it like a steak or something. Next trip I’m including a pizza cutter.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Zimmerman show trial turns to farce as most prosecution witnesses support the defense

    The trial of George Zimmerman in the self-defense slaying of violent, dopehead-petty-thief Trayvon Martin has turned into a farce, highlighting the corruption in the Florida legal system. These are the same crooked courts which tried to steal the 2000 election from George Bush.
    Most of the prosecution witnesses have supported Zimmerman's version of events. The few who have supported the prosecution have lied and changed their story so often that they aren't very credible. And Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother, shows up on the witness stand wearing glasses for the very first time. What's with this? Do her handlers think it makes her look "smarter"?
    Some of the testimony has been outrageous. Some second-rate medical examiner reviewed photos of Zimmerman's wounds and declared them "very insignificant." Sorry, but the defense should have been allowed to have someone administer a good beating to her right on the spot to see how much she enjoyed receiving "very insignificant" wounds.
    There was a news story recently about a soccer umpire who died after receiving a single punch in the face from a player. One punch = death. Yet we have people testifying that such wounds when received by Zimmerman are "very insignificant." People die from such beatings all the time.
    The Zimmerman show trial continues this week, with corrupt prosecutors, a terrible judge, and a media that is slowly realizing that it's been had. All Zimmerman has going for him is the truth. I pray that will be enough.