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small gray square That bully of a Belarussian dictator is at it again - it's really rather outrageous. Slobodan Milosevic gets all the copy, but this guy is just as creepy.

"Ouch! We're hurting diplomats!" Alexander Lukashenko said sarcastically when asked about the dispute by reporters.
Seems he's cut off the utilities to the diplomatic area.
Security presence in the area was also stepped up, with special passes required to gain admittance to the compound. German Ambassador Horst Winkelmann wasn't allowed to bring a guest into the compound, an experience he described as humiliating. "The situation is probably without precedent in the recent history of world diplomatic relations," said French Ambassador Bernard Fassier.
I think it's obvious at some point we're going to see real trouble from this Lukashenko thug. (The quotes are from this CNN article.)

small violet square As I begin writing this it's Saturday morning, 2AM local, 5AM Eastern time. I fly in 6 hours if the schedule holds, and I can't sleep, but it's okay: instant jet-lag adjustment. Day before yesterday, Thursday morning, for the first time I made that most common of on-line purchases, an airplane ticket: one of these "weekend deals", this one with United, so I should be seeing my Dad and the assembled family throng on Father's Day. The existence of this journal slightly complicates matters; to keep my appearance a surprise for my brothers as well as my dad, I won't be posting this page until after I arrive, since I believe only my mother knows of my itinerary. I haven't been able to reach a human at United to confirm this E-ticket, so I'm not completely convinced it's going to happen. If it does, this back-East visit will be almost as brief as my Christmas jaunt of 1989, when I flew a red-eye which took off near midnight of Christmas Eve, landing me in Baltimore at 7AM local Christmas morning. I flew home the next day, after nodding off at the cinema during our attendance of a screening of "The Little Mermaid" the night before.

small yellow square I misjudged the timing for ordering up a shuttle van, and was forced to use the more expensive alternate. The $50 cabbie who showed up was an elderly, be-turbaned Sikh with "ZZ Top" beard. Early into our journey he produced a large pill bottle full of white, tan, gray and crimson seeds - palming a hand-full, he ate them without chewing. Then, almost to the aerodrome, he interrupted our silence with a prayer, or song - two verses, I think, loud, in his native tongue. Auspicious? Walking out to the gate I inspected the seasonal display, this time it's cocktail shakers amid some deco furniture - shakers that looked like penguins, zeppelins, dumbbells, women's high-heeled feet, and lighthouses, some made with tinted glass. Since I had time I was able to inspect the collection thoroughly - good stuff. Then I joined 500 other travelers as we queued up prior to boarding.

small cyan square The coming meetings with family and old friends will conjure up comparisons and assessments of people's general dissatisfactions. Oftentimes my perception of this discontent people feel with their own lives is unavoidable, as is their looking upon my own with envy. Generally I'm thinking about my married friends, especially those with children, who I guess consider themselves slaves to their families to some degree, and they look upon my own life as free of all that. Naturally they have no way of experiencing my own inner desolation and loneliness. Just as they've learned to live with lives full of family activity, I've learned to cope with being alone. As is so often with humans, both camps look upon the other's territory and imagine that it contains that greener grass each needs for fulfillment... 'twas ever thus.

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