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Going to the Fair

There’s something magical about a county fair. It has an innocence about it; it hearkens back to a time when people enjoyed games and events that didn’t involve a screen or computer in any form. A time of smallholder farming and pride in what people produced through their own labor. I visited county fairs in…

French Anti-Semitism

Visiting World War II sites made me think about the Nazis, of course, which made me think of the Holocaust, which made me think of anti-Semitism as it still exists in Europe. And that made me think of an incident – one of very few times in my life when I’ve experienced anti-Semitism firsthand –…

artificial harbor at Arromanches

Another museum review? Not exactly…

I wasn’t going to post anything more about world war museums or sites. I figured people aren’t too interested in hearing about them, so the two reviews I’ve already written would be enough. But when my oh-so-laconic son, coming out of a World War II-related site yesterday, remarked, “Even I found this one moving,” I…

Review: the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum

Since I reviewed a museum last week – the In Flanders Field Museum in Ypres – it only makes sense for me to review the museum I visited yesterday. Even more so because they are such comparable museums: the first was about World War I in the Ypres Salient; the one I visited yesterday looks…

Living Among the Dead

As we were driving through the countryside on the way to Gent from Ypres the other day, it occurred to me that these people – the ones who live in the houses we were passing – live among the dead. There are graveyards everywhere, for one thing. One website lists 160 of them in the Ypres…

Why do we go to the beach?

We went to the beach yesterday in Middelkerke, on the North Sea. It was one of those typical beach towns with rows of ugly concrete apartment buildings fronting a long, straight, not-particularly-scenic beach. As I watched the people around us, I was strongly reminded of something I wrote back in 2008 on a trip to…

How NOT to design a bathroom!

Look at the photo below. What’s wrong with this picture? We ate lunch yesterday at a café in Gent. Afterwards, I went inside to use the toilet, followed the signs upstairs, came around a corner, and saw this. Except it wasn’t quite this; there was a man standing at the urinal, making some very contented…

In Flanders Fields Museum: A review

An effective museum doesn’t just display items drily in glass cases; an effective museum gives those items meaning to the people viewing them. It entertains, but it also makes visitors think. It gives the items an emotional weight. The In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium, is one of the most effective museums I’ve ever…

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