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Michael Jarrell

Sunni: Hi Michael, and thanks for talking with me today. Is it still Indian summer there in Indiana?

Michael: Well, if the Indians in question are the Inuit, yeah. If they're my Aniyunwiya grandmothers then that would be a no. Winter is definitely knocking on our door this week. It looks like my fall crops are going to take a beating, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Collards for Thanksgiving or bust! Of course the Indian summer will be back next week; it is Indiana after all.

Sunni: Yeah; that's one of the things I liked best about the midwest. I imagine that many people who'll be reading this are familiar with your excellent Uncivil Defence blog, which was featured here this spring. Would you mind giving us some more background on yourself?

Michael: You're making me blush. Let's see. I've been around the world a couple of times and spent several years in some truly interesting places, including China, Japan, South Africa, Israel, and Egypt. Worked as a contractor in those countries and spent my spare time getting into trouble and learning the cuisines. I am a chef by trade and a political addict by choice. I'm trying to get better, though.

Sunni: Your blog profile mentions your extensive travels—how did that come about? Military family, or solo adventures once you were old enough?

Michael: Yep. I was a Navy brat till my mid teens and we moved every three years or so. When my father retired he joined the Diplomatic Corps and my travels took me overseas. When I turned 18 I found out that you could travel to exotic locations and easily find contract work with the US government. Seeing as how I was already infected by the travel bug, it just got worse.

Sunni: What's been the most beautiful place you've visited, Michael? And what's the saddest?

Michael: I don't know if there is a single most beautiful place, Sunni. Beauty is a often a single instance rather than a thing or place. Standing on the South African veldt during a thunderstorm is frighteningly beautiful. The sky becomes as dark as night and warm rains pelt you, while bolts of lightning strike nearby and send tingles through your body as they strike the iron-rich ground. That's beauty. The Cumberland Gap in the autumn is quite beautiful. The Pyramids at Giza during the full moon are a sight to behold, too. There's a lot more beauty in the world than there is human created ugliness.

There are so many places that reek of sadness. The dumps of Cairo where people live and eke out a living sorting the garbage of the city is one, but they have pride and dignity that offsets any sadness. The saddest place I can think of today would be Ground Zero in New York. It stands as a solemn testament as what happens when politics and religion are taken to their violent extremes.