Monday, December 29, 2008

Marley & Me: A Review

I had the pleasure of viewing Marley & Me today as part of our Christmas vacation relaxation.

Now you need to understand--I am a sucker for dog movies. And this one is no exception. I love dog movies and this one especially hit home as I have just received a puppy for Christmas.

The movie is a joy to watch and is creative and funny. The acting is excellent--Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston in the leads. The children are cute and age appropriately during the movie.

So what is the movie about? The people who surround a rambunctious dog and we follow them throughout the dog's life. The movie is based upon a book written by John Grogan titled Marley & Me. John Grogan is also the name of the lead character in the movie.

David Frankel directs this movie and does a great job with the subject. The movie is funny and tender. It appeals the animal love in all of us and anyone who has owned a dog will be able to relate to the movie. The movie is not so much about the dog as it is about the family that tries to co-exist with the dog. The movie is about life. The ups and downs. The joys and the pain. The end of the movie brough back memories of all of my old and long gone dog friends and made me realize how lucky I was to have been able to share my life with them and all that each of them taught me.

RECOMMENDATION: See this movie if you love animals. See this movie if you want to get in touch with your inner self. You will probably cry--tears of both sadness and joy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Makayla Aroha -- Love on Four Feet

In one of the greatest and most secret operations ever conducted by the Doan family in advance of Christmas--an operation involving everyone, except for me, a four-footed fur ball of love was delivered as the "BIG" gift of Christmas yesterday morning.

Yes--it is time to go back to my puppy roots and start over again with one of the most beautiful dogs in the world.

Secret operations are a lot of fun. Especially when they are well planned and executed.

So now we are returning to our roots when we used to breed Keeshonden. (which is the plural for Keeshond) We had some great dogs in the past--with Nufi being the best Kees we had.

As puppies they are little puffs of fur that look a like little teddy bears--as adults they have a regal appearance.

But--enough of who she will be. A little about her name. Makayla means "who resembles God" and is a variant of an Australian female dog name. Aroha is Maori (New Zealand) and means love.

I want to thank each member of the family for this well executed operation. Chris explained how each of you participated in the selection and care of the young pup. And thanks--it was an unexpected gift.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Failure to Act--A Christmas Story with an Unhappy Ending

I had a significant opportunity to demonstrate everything I believe in last night--and I failed miserably.

After writing about the Christmas spirit and the time of year, when actually confronted with an opportunity to act--I was paralyzed by thinking about the consequences and let an opportunity to share God's love slip away.

The situation:

I'm standing in line at the local Safeway grocery store with two $25 gift cards to purchase for my office staff at work. I am not purchasing any food stuffs or other items. The lines are long and I'm in the 15 items or less line. The woman in front of me with 2 small children is buying $42.91 worth of groceries. The woman swipes her ATM card--it will not accept the transaction. Then after three different credit cards are swiped with the same result, I hear her tell the cashier--"I know I have a $100 on one of the cards." And seeing how the quick check-out line has grown while she was struggling with her cards, she runs off to the ATM machine.

I'm standing there, knowing I should do something but wondering how to do something and also being a little miffed about the delay in getting out of the store. I wondered if I would hurt her feelings. A random act of kindness was called for.

The reality of what happened:

So I did nothing--except feel sorry for the woman. I should have given her a Christmas present and paid for her groceries at the same time I was paying for my gift cards. I was buying presents after all and I was next in line. Then I could have whispered to her as she was fighting with the ATM as I walked by that her groceries were paid for, just go back and get them.

But I didn't. I could have been a point of light in the darkness--but I wasn't.

Next time---

God has impressed on me that I was given an opportunity and came up short. I've asked for forgiveness for my selfish reaction to a sister in need. I have resolved not to let it happen again. Since I believe that I am one of the points of lights, a true child of God living in this world and I need to start acting like it.

So here's my Christmas advice for you--don't be paralyzed by the "I wonder if I should. . ." phrase when confronted with the opportunity to act like you believe.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reason for the Season?

We've probably heard it said many many times: "Jesus is the reason for the season!"

And on the surface we think we a being pretty smug and smart about all of it as we respond to the nay-sayers who grind their own particular axes at this time of year. After all, this is our axe to grind. It is a national holiday after all. We even have a National Christmas Tree.
So to respond to people and remind them that "Jesus is the reason for the season" seems to be our own little effort at reminding people about this holiday and its reason for existence.

But you know what? I found out something recently. The statement is wrong!

Believe it or not, even though the season is named for Jesus--He is not the reason for the season. I was in shock because after all my smugness at thinking I knew all about it, there was more to understand.

So if Jesus is not the reason for the season--then who is? Or what is? Why am I so confused all of a sudden over something so seemingly obvious?

Turns out the answer is in Galatians 4:5, follow-on to my blog entry about the Christmas Story in one line from last week.

Galatians 4:5: to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights. - NET Bible

The reason for the season is, US!

Christmas exists because God sent His Son to the world to redeem US and make us His sons and daughters.

That is why it is so important for us to share our joy with everyone at this time of year. We are the purpose that Christ came into our world--to redeem and save us from ourselves and the darkness. And as sons and daughters of God, our task is to share the love that came down at Christmas with everyone who does not share the joy nor see the light.

Merry Christmas--you are special!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Flower

I love the Bird of Paradise. It is a flower which just screams--Bob, you are living too far north.

But it is a flower which hangs itself all out there for everyone to see. Proud and content.

This Bird of Paradise was blooming in downtown Sydney when I was there in September.

So, Christmas flower? Isn't it a bit tropical for Christmas?

Well yeah--but Christmas comes to the tropics as well as the rest of the world. And don't forget, when it is Christmas winter in the U.S. -- it is Christmas summer in Australia.

Let's go to the beach.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Before Christmas

There is an excitement as the last week before Christmas dawns. And there is panic too.

Are the presents bought?
Are they wrapped?
Are they in the mail?
Have the internet purchases been delivered?

Ugh!! there is too much to do!

And we have three parties tomorrow night that we need to attend.

And more shopping to get out of the way.

And the dog. Did you remember to feed the dog?  Do we even have a dog anymore, I haven't seen him in weeks?  Where is the dog?  What did the dog look like when we last saw him?  Was the dog a  him or a her? When did the dog become a cat?

Peace on Earth is all wrapped up in how much we are doing to please others and make them happy. It is the gift of ourselves to others and it is most noticable at this time of year as we prepare to recieve the gift that God sent to us--His Son.

I go back to Galatians 4:4--sent at the perfect time all part of God's plan.

May you find some peace in your life as you celebrate Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reconnecting at Christmas

Christmas, with its hope and promise provides an opportunity when people can begin the process of reconnecting. As we live each day of the year, things happen in real time that in retrospect needed more perspective. Relationships get torn apart or maybe just grow cold from lack of contact. Christmas is one of those seasons when we can and should pause, and reflect on where we've been and why.

I've written before that I believe relationships are the most important aspect of living. First and foremost--our relationship with God is critical. As is our relationship with our self. Are we happy with who we are. But, when you get right down to it, it is in the relationships with others around us that we can find joy and happiness.

Sometimes it is joy and happiness reflected back at us as others interact with us. Sometimes it is joy directed at us in our times of greatest need.

Yeah--I know it is not all roses and mush. There are some really hard times and we, each of us, deal with some really difficult issues and situations. And as we are walking along the path of our life--sometimes we feel alone, or in the dark. Yet, most times as we look back once the dark period is over, we see how others picked us up and helped us through--and in that is the joy.

Find a broken or cold relationship and reconnect. It may be your relationship with God that needs to be kick-started, or with someone in your family, or a former friend. Share the spirit of the season with them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Cards and Reconnecting

One of the greatest traditions of Christmas is the Christmas card. It provides a means whereby people can reconnect. It kinda flies against the trend of the fast paced, all in it for yourself lifestyles that many of us are living.

Taking some time to think about friends and family and remember the good times.

Christmas cards have been around for about 150 years according to the website devoted to Christmas cards. Although they were created as a means to expedite greetings to friends at Christmas-time, we must be careful not to reduce them to another piece of spam email. There needs to be something personal about the greeting, or the value and meaning is reduced.

We continue to write out each address by hand and sign each card by hand--to reinforce the personal nature of the greeting. It is way to easy for the gesture to be reduced to a mass production effort

I received my usual Holiday greeting from The White House this year as well as my favorite baseball team the Orioles. I love opening the greeting from The White House (which was postmarked Crawford, Texas) every year. It makes me feel like I have contact with the leadership of the country.

I wonder if I'll be on President-elect Obama's list next year.

I'm just happy to be on your Christmas card list--because, it is really all about the relationships and the friends. The best cards are from the people we know and love, because we know what is in their hearts.

Merry Christmas (OK, not politically correct, but I wrote it anyway)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Christmas Story in One Line

The service in church this past Sunday was special. It was a Christmas season service and it was fabulous in terms of both music and message.

As an aside--it is refreshing not to attend a liturgical church anymore. We attend one which is trying to be relevant to the people without holding onto traditions which have outlived their purpose. I mean, the whole concept of Advent is an artificial creation, it is not a biblical season specified by God. So adapting the church season to the world to remain relevant is important. Radio stations are playing Christmas music, there is no reason to exclude Christmas music from church just because it has been decreed that the season is Advent and Christmas doesn't begin until Dec 25th. By then, for most people Christmas is over. The church needs to work to remain relevant in peoples lives. Maybe the calendar needs adjusting a bit.

But that is not the topic of this writing.

The Christmas story in one verse--that was the topic of the message this past week. The verse is Galatians 4:4.

"But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law," --NET Bible

And that friends is the Christmas story.

And it turns out that the whole story is contained right there. Christmas was the action of an active and caring God. It happened at the perfect time when God had decided it was time. God sent his Son--who was with God before he was sent to earth and he was born fully man and under the law he came to fulfill.

And that is the essence of Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Fireworks at Disney

I love fireworks displays. And Disney has fireworks to enjoy. I finally am getting closer at capturing these transient events digitally to enjoy again. I wanted to share a couple of my favorite Fireworks shots from the recent trip.
These are from the display on Tuesday night, when it was cold. But as I was able to get the camera working to capture the moments.
The magic of Disney is in the little things and the attention to detail.
The park is clean and they continue to focus on delivering an experience.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More Disney Pictures

Who knew that Ethan is in love with Wendy?

Actually, none of us until we did the Peter Pan's Flight ride at least seven times. And then he got to meet her in person.

He is really smitten. We went back to visit with her one last time before leaving, but alas, only Peter showed. Although E learned a really neat way to do his shoes to ward off pirates. So now he has no fear of Capt Hook!

And then there was Jax. On Tuesday night it was cold. Really cold. We were in the Magic Kingdom until very late enjoying Mickey's Special Christmas Party. It was fun--but cold. Jax was bundled up like a bunny and I know he was warm.

I thought it was warm in Florida!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Signs in the Sky

Mankind, it seems is always looking to the heavens for some kind of sign. In olden times, man looked heavenward and thought that comets, or meteors, or conjunctions of the planets foretold important events. Many rulers and military leaders relied on the heavens to help them plan battles and invasions.

I guess that is a bit biblical. Thinking of the season and the Christmas Story when the star led the wise men to where baby Jesus lay.

So the other night when the Moon, Venus and Jupiter were dancing in the sky together, I was able to get a really good shot of them on the camera.

I wonder what great event they are foretelling?

Hopefully it is the end of the recession and the beginning of world peace free from the threat of chaos and terrorism.

May you have peace in your spirit, soul, and in your life as you prepare to celebrate the gift that God gave us on Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sea World, Orlando - A Review

I really don't know how to say it any clearer. A visit to Orlando, Florida which does not included a side trip to Sea World is a definite missed opportunity.

Sea World is fantastic. The exhibits are accessible and there is a variety of things to do. The pace was much more relaxed than Disney and the close tie to nature and our impact on the planet must not be missed.

Feeding the dolphins was fabulous. The feeding area is well run and the dolphins are in view from both above and below the water. The underwater viewing area was very nice and provided a great view of the activity. I never knew that dolphins play with air bubbles (kind of like smoke rings) until I saw a dolphin blow a bubble and play with it. Wow.

The Shark Aquarium is awesome and designed to allow viewing sharks and the other residents of the aquarium from all angles. Unfortunately they use a moving walkway to ensure a flow of people through the shard part of the exhibit so my pictures did not turn out too great--but it was inspiring to see a shark swim over top of me with a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. I also spies a nurse shark dozing on a rock.

The Shamu show was awesome and inspiring. I figured out how to get the camera to take fast action shots when I actually press the button, so I am especially proud of the Orca's jumping out of the water pictures I took during the show.

One place to definitely stop is the Budweiser Hospitality House for two free cold beers. Hey, they are free. And the Clydesdales are worth a gander, too. As we visited the beer wagon and Clydesdale team were on display in the park complete with dalmatian!

There is so much to do in a more relaxing environment. The Penguin house is very special and also a must see during the day.

We visited the Polar Exhibit where there are Beluga Whales and Polar Bears. It is a first class exhibit made to imitate top of the world to include the Aurora Borealis.

And I do not want to forget the rides. We rode the Kranken--a really fast coaster complete with loops and twists. Early in 2009, they will open the Manta--which is a suspended coaster which looks to be really a good ride too. The Atlantis ride was open intermittently the day we were they so we wound up not riding it--but having ridden a similar (if not the same) ride elsewhere it looks to be a lot of fun too.

Recommendation: Definitely visit Sea World during a stay in Orlando. It is a top notch attraction and well worth a day. There are both educational and thrill adventures available.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Are Americans Getting Fat? A Bit of a Rant!

OK--here we go on a real sensitive subject.

Are Americans getting lazy and fat?

My recent experience at Disney for six days seems to indicate that we are and, worse, there are companies making a lot of money on the overweight disability by renting scooters to further assist in enabling our over-eating and under-exercising.
Disney is overrun with obese people on scooters. They are everywhere. And here is the problem. While wheelchairs have right of way over pedestrians, motorized scooters do not--but yet the pilots of these dangerous (more on that later) vehicles do not recognize the rights of way that pedestrians have. I was cut off numerous times while pushing a stroller with two children in it by these denizens of the walkways.
And here is the real rub. It appeared to us that many able, but heavy people rent these scooters at the park to receive preferential treatment. They don't have to walk and they get special treatment on the rides and attractions--like going to the front of the line.

Obviously, this is just an observation with no scientific basis to support it, but really, the number of people riding these dangerous vehicles is astounding. AND--it really rubs me raw when in one instance we have been waiting through three monorails to get aboard to get back to the hotel and one of these scooters was escorted to the front of the line and our party of four adults and two small children with a large stroller were unceremoniously told to step aside--again. Why can't they wait like everyone else?

As for dangerous. Don't get me wrong--there are people who really need these marvels of technology to assist with their living and enjoyment of life. But they need to be careful.

While at the Animal Kingdom we were part of a real world emergency associated with a scooter accident. An 80-year old gentleman weighing about 350 lbs toppled his scooter when it ran up the side of a walkway. The scooter was so top heavy that it went right over sideways with a crash and thud. The man was attached to an oxygen tank and unable to move once on the ground. Mike and I rendered assistance which included determining that he was not seriously injured and notifying the park staff of the emergency (Nicole did this). We placed a blanket under his head for both support and comfort (contribution of Jax) and helped untangle him from the scooter so he could be comfortable while waiting for the emergency response team. The man's family was concerned about trying to sit him up so we waited for the health professionals to arrive to perform this task so that we would not dislocate anything (either on us or him).

The scooter issue aside though. There are a lot of morbidly obese people. And children. Maybe they just tend to vacation at Disney, but we saw them in numbers that exceed what we normally see in our places of work. And we feel much sympathy for them on two points. First, they are products of our "more is better" society. Second, they are discriminated against and I feel guilty for how I feel about the scooter issue, but since they are products of our society I wonder what our medical and scientific communities are doing to help alleviate the hugely obese issue that we are creating. The strain on health care is going to be enormous (pun intended)--probably greater than any other disability at some point. We need to begin addressing this issue soon.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Disney Pictures of Note

Well, here are some of the best. I like this one--it is Ethan watching the fireworks our last night at Disney. We were at Epcot just chillin' and watching the fireworks.

The picture was taken on Friday night, our last night in Disney and we were all feeling the effects of  a hard week of vacationing in the land of Mickey.

This one kinda sums up the whole Disney experience--a lot of flash and fun and crashing and things to do and places to go.

The next two are from Day 1- Monday as we were getting started. I look at them as the beginning of the experience.
They give a great perspective on the adventure which is just beginning and also the great weather we had all week--except for the frigid tempratures on Tuesday night.

There are more pictures and I will get them in in a few more days.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Flying Home

It's over. Six days in Disney and we successfully navigated the process to checkout and made it to the airport.

We are on board AirTran flight 467 to Baltimore cruising somewhere over the Carolinas. Jax is asleep in Chis' arms and E is chillin' with his Dad in the row in front of me.

I got tired of playing poker on my blackberry so I thought I'd jot a couple more notes.

The time flew by. Incredibly it went by fast.

We hear the temp at home is 19 degrees. And to think yesterday I was laying in the sun soaking up rays by the pool for an afternoon nap. And it was awesome. Why can't I move to Key West?

I noticed something at the airport today. Mass confusion. Traveling with small children and gwtting through security and onto an airplane is no trivial event.

Think about people who do not fly all the time trying to navigate security. Yeah, I saw some today who didn't even know they needed to have their ID out to begin the process. Talk about overload. And there aren't a lot of signs to help.

And it seems people need to attend a class and get certifien in getting on board an airplane. They stand in the aisle for minutes trying to get their bags up or figure out who is sitting where. Plan a bit. Get out of the way. Same on the way out.

But we are beginning our descent back to the real world.

I guess the magic is gone or maybe itis still there and we just can't see it around us.

But the magic is still there. We carry it in our hearts to pick us up one those dark, cold winter days and remind us of places we've been and fun we've had.

Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Disney - The Saga Continues

Well I left our intrepid travelers feasting on a luau on Wednesday night.

Thursday and Friday turned into classic Disney adventures. We covered parts of three parks during these days and there was always another ride to ride or another attraction to do.

The highlights? Expedition Everest a way cool roller coaster in the Animal Kingdom. It is the first coaster I have ridden which changed direction from forward to backward and then back to forward.

Another highlight? The excitement in Ethan's voice as he was explaining the ride Soarin to chris before she was about to get on. He had just ridden it and was stoked about doing it again. The ride is at Epcot. And it is truly an inspiring experience.

A low light? How fat Americans are becoming. But I'm planning a special rant blog about that soon. But I will tell you it really hits home that we are becoming a culture of incredibly obese people.

Rating the Polynesian Resort. Great location adjacent to the ticket and transportation center. We generally waked there than picking up the monorail at the resort.

A must do? The meal plan. Definitely worth it. But people who like to plan their lives out in advance will do better than we did. Reservations are almost impossible to get same day or even same week.

Most magical moment. Watching Chris on Main Street USA at night with snow falling as part of Mickey's Magical Christmas Party. Oh yes. And Silver Bells playing on the speakers.

Second most magical. The look in Ethan's eyes when Wendy kissed him.
There is a lot more and I have some cool pictures to add when we get home.

See ya soon

Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Luau Disney Style

Nicole and Mike treated us to a luau on Wednesday night. It was a lot of fun and the weather was perfect.

The food was endless and tasty and believe it or not beer and wine was included

The service was prompt and the entertainment was enjoyable and good.

Having been to luaus in Hawaii I actually had something to compare it to. This one is enjoyable if a bit Disney-fied. The entertainment had a story to go with it which the kids could relate to. But the dancing was first rate. And seemed authentic.

It was great fun.

Thanks Nicole and Mike
Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Disney Day 3 - Sea World

What a great day with the exception of the transportation from and to Sea World.

It was a cold morning with frost on the grass. But once it warmed it was fabulous. Sea World is a must visit. The pace is slower than Disney and the exhibits are devoted to the planet and our relationship with the sea.

The Shark aquarium is a definite place to visit. I wish I could dive it someday.

One of the highlights was feeding the dolphins and the underwater viewing. I had never seen dolphins playing with bubble rings before. Much like smoke rings they blow them and play with them. I have pictures.

Chris, Nicole, Ethan, and Mike actually fed and got to touch dolphins. It was way cool.

The shows were awesome too. Shamu did not disappoint. A seal show was really fun to watch.

The arctic display was one of the best. In a recreation of the top of the earth the aurora borealis was used to highlight the beluga whales.

This place is a must visit.

More on the end of day luau later.
Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Disney on Wednesday

Ok. It is cold. They had snow on main street USA last night for the special Mickey Christmas. Of course they were making it.

But it was cold enough for frost here last night. And I'm standing in front of Sea World waiting for it to open. At least the sun on my back is warm. My fingers are numb though.

Sea World opens in 25 minutes. We got here a bit early.

Disney is still Disney.

Kids are still kids.

The lines are long. But there sure are a lot of smiles

Peter Pan's Flight is E's favorite. We have done it four times.

The Christmas lights on the castle are fabulous. I'll add pictures when I can. Internet is $10 per day and who is spending time in the room surfing.

Another day of fun is about to begin.
Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Monday, December 1, 2008

Disney - The Flight

So there we were, trapped in a 737 at 35,000 feet with two energetic children. The three grandparents strategically seated behind the family. Well except for Jax who was in our lap.

Who knew a two hour flight could be like Gilligan's three-hour tour.

Jax managed to exhaust everyone before slipping into semi-slumber. Ethan sacked out for a bit. I tried to listen to my Ipod, but the interruptions were continuous.

A cell phone was lost and after an exhaustive search, which included the restrooms, was found under the seat where the owner was sitting.

The sun was shining at altitude. And it promises to be a great day.


Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Disney - The Flight

So there we were, trapped in a 737 at 35,000 feet with two energetic children. The three grandparents strategically seated behind the family. Well except for Jax who was in our lap.

Who knew a two hour flight could be like Gilligan's three-hour tour.

Jax managed to exhaust everyone before slipping into semi-slumber. Ethan sacked out for a bit. I tried to listen to my Ipod, but the interruptions were continuous.

A cell phone was lost and after an exhaustive search, which included the restrooms, was found under the seat where the owner was sitting.

The sun was shining at altitude. And it promises to be a great day.


Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Disney Adventure

Ok. And so it begins. We have successfully met up at the airport. A huge party of 5 adults and a 3 year old and a 9 month old.

Coming from three different starting points that was no small task.

But we have cleared security and are on the plane preparing for takeoff to Orlando.
Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Authenticity--Team Leaders

I read an interesting article on authenticity as it relates to leaders and leadership this week. It really got me thinking. The article by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones is Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership.

I've met a lot of leaders in my life and had the opportunity to work for some truly great leaders with whom I really connected. I had never really though about why we connected before, or why I really knew these leaders cared about me as part of their organization.

On the other hand, I have also had the opportunity to be part of organizations where it was clear the leaders didn't have it together and for whom I had no illusions that they were great leaders. They were just doing the job--and not that well.

It dawns on me that I was assessing the authenticity of their leadership.

What is authentic leadership?

Well, the Center for Authentic Leadership describes it as follows:

"The measure of a man or woman is more than the sum of one’s words or deeds. It is the impact of who we are being as we speak and act that leaves the greatest imprint on others."

Goffee and Jones stated it as simply as the following: "First, you have to ensure that your words are consistent with your deeds; otherwise, followers will not accept you as authentic."

You've probably been in the presence of leaders which make your "skin crawl" because you know that although they appear to be your best friend, you are convinced they really don't care about you and are out for whatever they can get out of you to advance their personal issues. They have a problem with authenticity. I call it something more obvious--they are flat out disingenuous.

Team leaders need authenticity. They need to be comfortable with themselves and also not be afraid to be vulnerable. Who they are deep in their very souls needs to be congruent with who they are as a leader. This does not mean leaders can't play different roles--we are all called to different roles as situations require--but the way the roles are performed needs a sense of consistency that can only come from internal congruence.

Great leaders are not poor leaders trying to be great. They are not insecure people acting out their part--they are congruent in all aspects of their life and they are comfortable with themselves and the role they are called to serve in.

Goffee and Jones kinda summed it up: "Authentic leaders remain focused on where they are going but never lose sight of where they came from."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Frenzy

Ready. Set. Start your holiday engines!

Yeah--Thanksgiving is here--with three NFL football games, turkey, food, family, and friends. And following that is a glorious week in the "real" south visiting the magical land of Mickey! At least it's still warm there.
And then back for the final two-and-a-half week push to Christmas!!!
And even here in beautiful, almost warm, Howard County, Maryland, there has been a small success--the Columbia Mall reinstated the annual poinsettia tree which they dispensed with last year. It is back by popular demand to brighten our holiday moods. And with the economy tanking--all help is needed to brighten our moods.
By the time January comes we are going to be really ready for a mid-Winter rest. But it is all good. And we have so much to be thankful for--especially the opportunity to travel and to be with family and friends.
My prayer for the season is that we would appreciate all of the blessings that God has given us and not become fixated on what we could or should have. Our glass is truly full and it is usually overflowing with blessings. This season, may we share these blessings with those around us. Share our laughter, our love, our time, our possessions as they are needed, and our hope in the future. And that hope is?

Hey--and while you are at it don't forget--Jesus is the reason for the season. Don't be afraid to say: Merry Christmas, God loves you, too!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Today is the Day--Get Started

I ran across a brand new song by one of my favorite Christian artists this weekend. The song is "Today is the Day" and it is by the usually high energy Lincoln Brewster. And this song is high energy--just the way I like it.

I've been listening to the song in the car ever since I found it because it really speaks to me. Maybe it is the culmination of a lot of things I've been through lately and a lot of baggage I'm hauling around.

The song opens with these words:

I`m casting my cares aside
I`m leaving my past behind
I`m setting my heart and mind on You
I`m reaching my hand to Yours
Believing there`s so much more
Knowing that all You have in store for me is good
Is good

What comfort these words are to people who are saddled with the loads and shots that life sends them.

But it is the chorus which rises out of the mundane, "stuck in the rut of life" situation that we sometimes find ourselves to proclaim:

Today is the day
You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
Today is the day
You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
And I won`t worry about tomorrow
I`m trusting in what You say
Today is the day

So, today is the day and as some have written--it is the first day of the rest of your life. It is not too late to turn around and start over. Will it be easy--no. But it will be worth it.

The song closes with a modification of the chorus which goes:

And I won`t worry about tomorrow
I`m giving you my fears and sorrows
Where you lead me I will follow
I'm trusting in what you say

And if you really want to know what it means--check out Matthew 6:25-34 and remember God said we are more valuable than the birds or the flowers and He takes care of them!

Today is the Day!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lighting the Christmas Palm

Alright--so most of you know that Chris and Nicole and Jax are in New Orleans for a conference/holiday. I have been playing the part of the bachelor and keeping the home fires burning. So last night Chris is out in New Orleans headed for dinner and sees a sight which causes her to snap a picture with her camera phone.

Now--you know I am a huge Palm Tree guy and that the thought of Christmas lighted Palm Trees is one of my favorite sights. So imagine my delight when I got the picture she took.

It made me smile.

And that is why I keep saying that I live too far north--no Christmas lighted Palm Trees on the street corners to brighten the holiday season.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jax and Poppop Steal a Couple Moments

Something rare happened on Sunday. Jax and I had some quality time together.
For some strange reason he parked himself on my lap and proceeded to play and coo and sing for over 40 minutes. He was relaxed and so was I.
He wants to be mobile so bad. He really needs some alone time on his belly--but he hates being on his belly because, I think, he feels isolated and he can't interact with everything around him.
He is so personable. And boy, does he like to eat. Anything. I just sense he wants to be grown up beyond his years--which is a good thing.
There is a little button on the top of the toy he is playing with and it causes the lights to light and songs to play. He figured out how to play the songs by hitting the button. And not just once in a random fashion, but in a repeated fashion he found the button and caused the toy to light and sing.  Wow.
Look out Ethan--your little brother in right on your heels!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Autumn's Last Gasp

Well--it is now over. The last of the leaves have fallen and I have even removed them from the yard. I took these pictures over the weekend and by Monday, all the leaves were on the ground.

But I have these images--the colors of the Autumn as it passes into my memory.

Clearing the yard of the leaves on Veteran's Day was a solitary experience. I talked with many of my friends at work to find that they too, spent their holiday laboring in their yards with mountains of leaves.

Ah but the colors were great, but now the trees are bare and ready for Winter's onslaught of cold, wind, and ice or snow. Because of our dry spell, some of the leaves never changed from green--and there were many green leaves in the piles I made on Tuesday.

Spring is not that far away--at least in my mind.
And it is, after all, mid-November. Thanksgiving is two weeks away and the Christmas season is on its heels. I'm even beginning to plan on getting out the Christmas lights for the house--to bring some light and color back in to the world after the passing of the colors of Autumn. And after that? A mid-Winter vacation to somewhere warm? Well, maybe.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bogle Vineyards Phantom 2003

We sampled this wine on Friday evening at a friend's house and absolutely loved it.

It was a very smooth wine with a complex and delightful nose that is stunning. It rolls onto the tongue with in a deep, silky manner treating the drinker to flavors of berry, steak, black pepper and other spices blended in a manner that is very pleasing. And the taste lingers on the palette. It truly envelopes your whole mouth in a sensory experience.

The wine is a blend of Petite Sirah 55% - Zinfandel 42% - Mourvèdre 3% and truly is designed to please.

Recommendation: Buy and drink this wine. At about $20 per bottle this is a wine that can definitely be used for special occasions and will definitely impress. And I hear the 2005 vintage is every bit as good if not better than 2003.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November arrives

Well, I think I'm finally recovering from the election hang-over. It was a wild ride these past few months as the candidates slung mud to get to election day and the American people finally could make their choice and mercifully end the campaigning which has been going on for almost two years now.

I urge each of you to sign up with the Presidential Prayer Team to pray for the transition and our new president.

I also urge each of you to visit the President-elect's web site to learn more about the new team headed for The White House.

Regardless of who you voted for--and I admit I didn't vote for the guy who won, we need to support the President-elect. Why? Because we need our President to be successful our President needs our support and prayers for wisdom and discernment of God's will for our great nation. We can disagree on policies--but on this we must agree--our President and all of our leaders need our prayers.

And finally--if you want to have some fun and become a bit more educated about our 43 Presidents--check out this Presidential rating website. I found it fascinating--especially the selection for number six!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weather Change

Ah, the cold winds of Autumn have finally arrived. The leaves are falling from the trees by the bushel basket loads. Pumpkins are golden in anticipation of the winter ahead. Snow flurries are becoming a regular sight on the national weather map.

We are currently doing our own version of the plant dance. Plant dance you ask? Yes. Moving plants indoors (to the pool house) to avoid the frost at night and then returning them to the nourishing sunlight and warmth of the day so they may continue to flourish before being trapped in the house for the next five months. Five months--is it really that long? Wow--it is. Until March.

Some have already been moved indoors permanently--the Angel-wing Begonia and one palm tree. It seems a bit earlier this year than last. I fear the cold grip of winter will be more severe that we would like.

Hawaii or Florida sure so seem inviting right now. The December trip to Disney World will be a great way to escape the onset of Winter--even if only for a week. And then zoom into the holiday season without looking back. Maybe we can slide through January and leapfrog over February. Until the lamb or lion March portends a return to the warm days and green trees.

So I stand on the doorstep, looking at the sky; much like I did this past May during the first 90 degree heatwave, and girding myself against the bone-chilling wind I say: "Bring it on.!"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hanging Out

Well--we were able to slow the pace of life down a bit towards the end of the week. We actually spent Friday and Saturday night, Chris and I together watching movies on the sofa.

That doesn't happen often.

Of course that was after a hugely busy week highlighted by going to Toby's Dinner Theater on Wednesday evening to see "The Producers," Chris' trip with Ethan to the ER on Thursday which came after a three-presentation day at work for me.

So we stopped the world for a bit and spent time enjoying each other.

But, and there always is a but--we did have time to redo one of the bathrooms--including primer and paint!

But today is Sunday and it's another football spectacular with the Cowboys, Ravens and Redskins all taking the field at 1PM followed by the Steelers at 4:15. We should be busy watching either the TV or the grandkids all day.

Wow--if we only could work it so we would get three-day weekends--then think of all the time we could have together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

V-No Wine Bar, Baltimore Fells Point

What a great find. Right on the water in Fells Point. And we enjoyed some great wine with friends last Saturday night before going off to dinner at a local restaurant.

OK--let's get to it. This is a real keeper. If you are in Fells Point definitely visit V-No Wine Bar at 905 S. Ann Street.

The wines are reasonably priced and the owners are enjoyable to chat with. The corkage fee is also reasonable and the munchies are great.

The wines are unique--I dare say you'll have trouble finding them anywhere else. And if you are unsure--ask for a sample. We wound up enjoying a bottle of an Italian light red wind which was fabulous as it was different. And the munchies list definitely compliments the wine selections.

If you are unsure about what to order--ask for help and they will steer you to the right selections. It was awesome.

Recommendation: A great place to start or end and evening. A great mid-day shopping stop. The wine prices are reasonable--many as low as $10 per bottle and most are less than $20. Figure out how many $8 cocktails or $6 beers that equates to.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Next President is . . .

What a weekend of politics. And no, I'm not in a predictive mode about our next president. There is still a lot that can happen between now and election day.

One of my heroes threw his support behind one of the candidates and I thought his reasons, albeit personal, made sense. He made a good argument for his personal decision. I disagree with him on a couple points--like the supreme court justice

Did/does it change my vote? I don't know. Believe it or not--I'm not completely sure how I'm going to vote. I'm still evaluating--but I am leaning one particular way. I could be convinced otherwise.

And then there was Saturday Night Live with the woman who would be vice president.

And both sides are talking about change.

Who is talking about the good that America is doing in the world? Who is talking about the strength and perseverance of the everyday Americans who go to work everyday and want to live their lives in peace and be protected from the forces of darkness and chaos that surround us?

Did you see that gas is down to $2.80 per gallon (and we're happy about it)?? Oil closed under $70 per barrel--gas should be below $2.00 per gallon. I don't hear either candidate talking about the gouging of America that the oil companies are doing.

And for all the money pumped into banks--did you notice that it is harder to get a car loan? Houses still aren't moving? Congress is still sitting on their haunches not wanting the current administration to get any credit for working through the economic mess and so they are sacrificing the middle Americans just to win an election.

What a great country.

Don't forget to be an educated voter and vote. And, before you go vote--pray hard for guidance that God will lead this country through our votes.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Short weeks seem so long

I know it is one of those mystifying aspects of life--but why do four-day workweeks often seem longer that five-day weeks?

I had Monday off and although I worked around the house, I still enjoyed the time off. But whew! This week has seemed to be the never ending week from the Black Lagoon where the creature lies in wait.

It is because we are trying to include five days worth of stuff into a four day week?

It is because with the extra day off we realize that there are a lot of other places we'd rather be?

I wish I knew--but I know it is a real feeling.

But, today is Friday and the weekend is upon me. The trees are beginning to don their autumnal royal colors for their final magnificence before the dark days begin.

And--there is another four-day work week coming in a couple weeks. I'll enjoy that one, too.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Connections Part 2 -- Getting and Staying Connected to people

I struck a chord with myself on this idea--and so I wanted to flesh it out a bit more.

How do we become connected? How do we stay connected? What are the advantages of being connected to each other?

I've thought about this a bit and it seems we become connected initially with our families. As we mature these connections change and sometimes it takes work to keep them strong. I am really bad at maintaining connections. It is an out growth of my innate hatred of telephones. But I am a huge email fan--and that is a way to stay connected.

I am reminded of John and Abagail Adams (the 2nd President!). During his worldwide travels and even his travels to and from the seats of government, John and Abagail remained connected through letters and these letters provide an incredible insight into their lives. They worked hard to stay connected.

Families need to work in the same manner to remain connected with each other. Our family has a series of events this past summer that reminded us that we really do care about each other and that we need to overcome the inertia of daily living and keep in closer contact. We have been trying, with limited success to do just that.

In addition to families, we become connected to others through work, and outside activities/groups such as scouting and church.

As long as the groups are functioning the connectedness seems to work. But as these collections of people begin to dysfunction--possibly at the core, there is a loss of connectedness. Members begin to feel disenfranchised and set apart for the group. They lose the connectivity which to them translates into a sense of aloneness. And then they are lost to the group. That is the sad part. It happens so slowly over time that no one is aware of it until it has happened.

The object is to get connected and to stay connected. It requires effort--connectedness does not happen by magic. Communication is a two part process: sender and receiver. Connectedness is similarly a multipart process where multiple people become and remain connected. The vectors of communication are personal face-to-face contact, email, mail, telephone, newsletters, meetings and a host of others. Good connectedness is based upon personal contact--not mass mailings. It is an effort. But a good effort. Communities are built on this type of effort--the effort to remain connected.

Get connected and stay connected. We are all working our way through life together--and we needs each other despite what we might like to believe.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Connections--how we stay part of the world

I've been struggling with the idea of connections--how we are each connected to others. Despite what I would like to believe about myself, I value connections to others. I would like to think that I am an island in the middle of the sea of people around me, but I'm not and island at all.

The idea that connections to other people were important to me crept up on me in a very unexpected way through the transfer of ownership of a Yahoo group. It really hit me hard when I realized that I was severing a connection with a group of people that I care about. I did not expect the turmoil that the severing of this connection would cause--even though, by my own choice, I am no longer a member of the ring of people who are represented in that Yahoo group. I felt the loss of the connection to these people deep in my heart.

Perhaps I just need to move on and keep walking down my own path--but I'd like to think that I'm not like that. Everyone I meet and especially those I learn to know and love leave an imprint on me. Like my profile says: "Just a guy. If I knew where I was going, I'd be there by now" A lot of us are traveling a similar path. And as we journey, we meet a lot of other guys and gals who are living their lives and it is through our connections with them that we grow stronger as people and as a larger community.

When we begin to care about others, we sacrifice of ourselves--our time, talent, and even money for the greater good and for mutual support with and for others. And not even because we hope that they will be there for us someday. We support other people because we can, and because as we are connected to others we care for them and help them when we can, rejoice with them when we can, and cry with them when they need us to.

When relationships go bad and we lose connections to someone there is a void. It would be nice if that never happened--relationships going bad, but we are people and these things happen more than they should. And the void that is left after the relationship has ended has a lot of pain associated with it. It demands to be filled--with other people, groups, or hobbies so we can grow beyond the lost relationships and continue our journey. But we never forget.

Does time heal all wounds? No. It masks them but unless the wounds of the heart and soul are addressed--they don't heal. They fester and affect us in negative ways. The wounds can foster hate, despair, insecurity, anger.

So, this week I surrendered one measure of connectedness to friends. I will work to discover and create new pathways to be connected with the people in that group who want to remain connected. We all need each other--too often we just don't think we do.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jeremy's Move

Well--the past two days have been rough in terms of physical labor, but Jeremy and Nicole are moved! The old townhouse is clean and they are living in the next building over in a larger and nicer place.

This whole experience reminded me--it doesn't matter whether you're moving next door or around the world--moving is tough and a lot of hard work.

Yesterday we spend a lot of time setting up a new, larger, better salt water tank--it is beautiful but oh man is it heavy. Even empty. Ugh.

But congrats are in order to Jeremy and Nicole on their new home--it is beautiful and I do have fun with the alternate name for the "storage" room. Yeah.

I think the last time I came home after 11PM was New Year's Eve. And last night was definitely no party. But we all worked hard and the job is done!

Contact Jeremy and Nicole for their new address--you will just have to change the building and apartment number.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Christian in the Political Environment

Chris and I attended a small group session sponsored by our church last night where the topic of discussion focused upon Christians and politics. This entry is my personal (not the group nor the church's) view and take on what we discussed.

As you might suspect, the basis for the discussion centered upon Romans 13:1-7, where Paul reminds that God institutes governments and that we are to respect the governments God institutes by being in subjection and paying taxes.

But as Christians, what are we supposed to do? Be activists in politics or withdraw and be the best Christ followers that we can be? The Amish come to mind as an example of those who have chosen to withdraw.

If governments and leaders are instituted by God, then why bother to vote? God's got it in control! No matter whether Obama or McCain are elected, it is God's plan. (And that is more reassuring than you might think)

But wait! The expectation in the United States is that this country is "Of the People and For the People." We the People are the government. As Christians living to be subject to the government we have to accept this call and be involved--because if you read Romans again it is telling us not to resist authority and then by extension--we are resisting authority by not being involved in the government.

How can Christians be involved? The are many ways to be involved and they do not all require fanatical policital activism.

At the most basic level--be an informed voter and vote. On election day fall on your knees and ask God to guide your vote. This is the means through which God implements our Government--through us: We the People.

Live every day as a Christ follower. In that way you will affect others and potentially their votes and involvement in the government. Be a Christ follower first and foremost.

Then there is the extreme level--be actively involved in government and elections. Not everyone is called to do this, but some are. Be careful not to appear to be imposing your personal will on the system--because non-Christians are really good at identifying what Christians are against--but have a poorer grasp on what we are for. Personally, I'm a huge fan of eternal life.

We, Christians, need to do a better job helping non-Christians understand what we are for and what we believe and I will tell you it is certainly not a laundry list of "Thou shalt nots."

Be compassionate, respect others and understand that even as Christians we have different takes and views and that we are not carbon copies of each other. How boring would that be?

Being a Christian in the political environment is an important task that God gives each of us to, but we bring different talents and gifts. The only absolute about the task is that each of us as resident of the United States, are absolutely expected to be involved and as a minimum vote.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Playing not to Lose--implementing the Prevent Defense too soon

The debates last night treated the American public and the rest of world to more of the same: Two candidates who are trying not to lose the election in November and one of them is definitely going to lose.

In pro-football, near the end of the game, the team with the most points on the board sometimes goes into what is known as the "Prevent" Defense. The Prevent Defense is designed to bend but not allow a potentially winning score from the other team. The idea of giving up a lot of ground in the middle of the football field to ensure that a winning score does not occur often results in total failure. I'm sure it works in theory--but in practice knowledgeable fans know that the prevent defense is a recipe for disaster.

In the case of the debate--I'm not sure either candidate has a verifiable lead. Although, if you listen to NBC news, Obama will be our next president based upon projections showing that he has to win only one of the six states still up for grabs in the Electoral College voting.

Back to the debate--so what was new or different from the previous debate? Nothing. I was frustrated at one point when a question about Afghanistan addressed to Obama turned into a diatribe about how it shouldn't have been a problem if the situation had been handled differently.

Great--but it is a problem and how are you going to deal with it? That is the key part.

I don't want a President who is going to waste valuable decision making time reviewing why a problem shouldn't be a problem--deal with it! What are you going to do. And in the end, what he said was nothing. I felt bad for the person who asked the question as she never got an answer from the man who would be President.

Both candidates are trying to win by looking backwards. I want a President who is looking into the future. They spend too much time on voting records and all the has been stuff.

We're in a bad place, I get it. The economy is in trouble. I get it. Our foreign policy is in a shambles except for our real allies, I get it. Answer me this. What are you going to do about these things from this moment on? Focus in that. Yeah, it's important to understand how we got here, but turn around and look into the future.

I miss Ronald Reagan. He had a vision. He made me, a citizen of this great country, part of the means to achieve the vision.

I loved the question from the Internet, the last question of the night, "What don't you know and how will you figure out what it is" or something like that. Obama couldn't admit that he didn't know everything or had a plan for what he didn't know. It was way too much "I". McCain was clear about what he didn't know, and plausible, but again way too much emphasis on "I" and not the "We" as in "We the people . . . "

I wish one of these evenly matched men would decide not to worry about "not losing" and decide to win the election--for us, for the United States, for my children and their children, and for the world.

Take a risk--make us part of the vision of the future! And then let's not look back but always look forward.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2006 Four Vines "Heretic" Paso Robles Petite Sirah

Wow--we tried this wine at a local wine store wine tasting, bought a couple bottles and discovered that it is fabulous from the bottle during an evening with friends and food.

The wine has a superior nose and is extremely smooth on the palette with berry flavors and some black pepper. There is a complexity to the wine which makes it very enjoyable. Not over powering, but pleasingly complex with berries and some black pepper which gives the wine some zing. And then it lingers for a while so that the full flavor comes out.

This is no ordinary wine. I believe it would be excellent with a meaty, spicy meal like ribs--and it would hold its own.
As good as the wine is straight from the bottle--it gets even better when decanted.

Recommendation: A bit pricey at about $35 per bottle--but so pleasing to taste and enjoy. A great bottle of wine for that special celebration.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pool Closing

Well--it's done. The pool is closed for another season. It all went by so quickly it seems. The summer is gone and now the final vestige of the summer past is closed--the Doan family pool. Scene of frolic and fun. Of learning to swim and friends gathered for wine and social fun.

It was a great summer. And the pool being closed really put the reality of autumn into my mind. I can see the colors coming in the leaves and the crispness in the air means we will be soon raking the leaves and greeting the little goblins and ghouls on the doorstep as October changes into November.

Ah the great memories. The clear blue water and the warm summer sun of 2008. Next time I peer into the water under the pool cover, it will be 2009--with another summer of fun ahead of us and memories to be made.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Debates? I Think Not!

I watched the Vice Presidential Candidate Debate last night. Ugh. I had also watched the first Presidential Debate last Friday as well.

OK--did you notice something. They are not debates. There is no debate going on, just a rehash of agendas and campaign promises. Everyone is sidestepping the concept of really debating and laying out objectives and policies.

The campaign strategies are clear (and if you loo at it are reversed between the Presidential and Vice Presidential strategies)

Obama is trying to make McCain look like he's old school and part of the problem.

McCain is trying to make us believe that Obama is inexperienced and doesn't have a clue.

Palin is trying to make it seem that Biden is looking to the past and is the problem

Biden is trying to make Palin appear like a country bumpkin from Alaska without a clue.

Ugh! Talk to the issues! I don't care about past voting records. Disjointed voting records and facts don't sell me, action does.

And here is the interesting part, thinking of action--the only one of the four who has actually governed anything and shown the ability to work within the boundaries of the governmental process is Palin--and people are afraid she won't be a good President? One of the best Presidents we've ever had was an actor who served as governor. In fact--as a whole I think former governors make probably the best Presidents because they have actually has experience working with legislatures and governing. Some of the great presidents: Jefferson, Monroe, Polk, Wilson, McKinley, Teddy, FDR, Reagan--all governors! (OK there were some slugs too like Andrew Johnson and Grover Cleveland). All in all, there are 16 Presidents who were governors, I'll let you find the rest and I figure you'll probably be able to name at least two (like the current and former Presidents).

I want to know--in detailed fashion, how the next administration is going to restore the U.S to preeminence in the Foreign Policy arena, successfully transition Iraq to a self-governing, self protecting country, fix the domestic economic crisis without raising my taxes, and clean up the mess in Afghanistan--for starters.

I want specifics to which the candidates can be held accountable.

Oh, yeah guess there is a wild card here--Congress. They have really made a mess of things lately. Did you see the PORK being added to the bailout plan?

But back to the debates. The moderators are asking good questions, but the candidates are so concerned about losing that they are not playing to win! Answer the questions with specifics and let me decide. I'm tired of lofty platitudes about change (BTW--both side are speaking Change as their mantra) couples with the appearances of plans which upon digging deeper really aren't plans and don't have a chance of passing in Congress.

The debates--they are not even good entertainment. Sadly, we are going to be electing a new President in 32 days and no one yet has demonstrated that they have a clear idea on what to do. Telling me they're going to do it differently is nice--but HOW?

So let the debates begin for real and let's stop dancing around the issues.

Who has a plan? And what is it? Let me know. I'll keep watching and waiting to hear.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reflections on a Birthday Weekend

Wow--and what a weekend it was. Chris planned a birthday celebration that spanned three days and left me absolutely amazed that so many people could enjoy a celebration like that and that my family could actually survive such a weekend.

So, in reverse chronological order, here are the salient events from the weekend.

Monday, my birthday gift from my loving wife arrived via FEDEX! She was crushed that it didn't arrive in time for my Sunday family celebration--but it's OK (and now I have some leeway if I screw up and miss her's some year).

The highlight was, of course, Sunday Football at the house (with new security system) and nearly everyone (except for Tina) in attendance! I wish it were warmer and we had been able to make it a pool party--but it is late September after all. It is always great when we all (the family) get together to celebrate an event and watch football. Ethan says it best when we get together--"my family is here!" I echo that remark to myself every time he says it. And somewhere in there I even got to eat birthday cake #2 Hawaiian Pineapple a la my childhood and enjoy some of the most creative birthday cards I have ever received.

Saturday was a prelude to the Sunday festivities--with Nicole, Mike, E, and Jax coming over for a celebration. Dinner was fantastic and the "boys" were great. We shared some fabulous wine and generally had a great time together. I also got to enjoy birthday cake #1 -- Pineapple Upside Down Cake. E had a problem understanding the "upside-down" part of the cake. But ate some of it anyway. I think even Jax got a taste to enjoy for himself (shhh, don't tell his Mom).

Of course, it wasn't all about Bob. Friday night I shared the spotlight with Fran and Sue as our Friday evening wine group went out for dinner and three birthdays to celebrate at a local restaurant: P F. Chang's China Bistro at the Columbia Mall. I may write a review of the restaurant later.

I also was able to chat with my parents on my actual birthday--and received their love filled rendition of "Happy Birthday"--which everyone in the family looks forward to receiving on their birthday every year! Awesome dudes! Thanks for starting a truly inspired tradition.

Gifts? They were all great. I'm officially armed and considered dangerous for Best Buy. I have expensive Tequila to drink. I received a really cool wine decanter, Riedel wine glasses, and a nice bottle of wine to enjoy. AND--on Monday, a Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Jersey to wear while watching the Pens play the season and hopefully win Lord Stanley's Cup next year. (I may have to sneak in a subscription to Center Ice somewhere, now that there is no Orioles Baseball to watch)

So--given the love of my family, my health and a lot of nice gifts--what more could any person want for their birthday. Actually? Nothing.

Wow--am I blessed or what? I pray your birthday is as celebratory and filled with love as mine was. And I say thanks to all of my family and friends who made it a birthday to remember.

Ugh, it makes transitioning into my mid-50's almost bearable!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reflections on the Baseball Season

As the "Boy's of Summer" gradually fade away into the Autumn, I was reflecting upon the season and something pretty cool that I witnessed from the outside deck of the top level of Camden Yards last Tuesday as I was watching the O's self-destruct.

In between innings I was walking around the outside of the bowl and was treated to a magnificent sunset alive with color and fire over the city. One bright star was already shining--probably a planet, but I was grabbed by the deep orange and magenta colors that filled the evening sky.

Wow--they were really beautiful and reminded me that I need sometimes to stop and take a moment to appreciate all of the blessings I have received and all of the beauty in the world.

Yeah--the O's are terrible right now. And the economy sucks. And it seems as if we are never going to get out of Iraq or that once we do then we'll be in even deeper in Afghanistan. And I truly wonder if there are any intelligent lifeforms working in the U.S. Capitol Building.

But--look up to the stars and the sky. Look down at the flowers. Appreciate the small victories. Recognize that my needs are amply provided for. That there is beauty. That the eyes of my grandsons are full of wonder, excitement, and a little mischief. And they make me smile.

Just like the awesome sunset did.
My Zimbio
Top Stories