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.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rocky is gone

It is with great sadness that I must report the probable demise of our small friend Rocky. Many of you got to know Rocky this summer as she mooched peanuts from our hands and lounged on the railing while watching us party and swim in the pool.

Rocky was a Gray Squirrel. Friendly and inquisitive. She has been gone now for over a month and probably will not be returning. We have no idea what may have happened to her. She is just, gone. Sadly, my April blog entry was probably truer than I had hoped it would be.

I'm writing this though to help remember Rocky and the joy we got from watching her mooch nuts by climbing the back screen or jumping against the door to get our attention. It made us smile and brought genuine happiness to us as we made repeated trips to open the door to give the intrepid squirrel more nuts.

She was special. Although I have to admit I was worried about the winter time and how we were going to keep her out of the house.

She had become part of the family during the early part of the year. So, this small tribute will serve to help us remember the squirrel which made so many of us smile with her outgoing personality and persistent attitude.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Vandals plus thiefs and burglers equal security system

I sat the other morning and realized something pretty scary. During the past 12 months (since early October 2007) it seems we have become targets. In that time three pretty significant things have occurred requiring contact with the local police department: my beloved truck was stolen (Oct 2007), our house was burglarized (Jun 2008) and Chris's car was vandalized (Sep 2008).

Chris's car was vandalized while I was in Australia--and so it was an especially stressful time for her and it happened right in our driveway at home. Overnight. Without provocation. And they got her IPod.

Many of you know that I am still coping with the fallout from having my truck stolen from a repair shop in Glen Burnie, MD and subsequently totaled in Georgia. The replacement truck has required an inordinate number of repairs--including a new engine, and requires more repairs for an emissions related air pump. Yeah--the insurance gave me money for my old truck--but the repairs--out of pocket! And most all of the repairs are related to the care of the truck, that I could not know, prior to when I bought it.

And the house. One stormy day in June--the house was burgled and a number of items were stolen--mostly watches (including my Orioles game day watch), my laptop, my compound mitre saw, about $250 in small change, my underwater camera, and of course--we were rewarded with holes in the bedroom wall where the burglars tried to relieve us of our flat panel TV (say yes for security on the wall mount).

So--as I was thinking of all these travesties, I realized (along with a not so subtle hint from the wife) that we needed to do something--fast.

Welcome to the world of security lighting, security cameras, and a comprehensive whole house security system with monitoring from Vintage. OK--so we are going to be living in Fort Knox. I guess because we have the best in the world location: the pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow, a little rain must fall at some time. But we are taking action to protect ourselves and to hopefully preclude recurrence by ensuring adequate notification and documentation of any future travesties.

So be warned: when you are visiting, you are being monitored (and protected).

I know the police said a security system wouldn't deter pros--but what if they happen to decide to "hit" us again while Chris is "home alone?" I want her to be able to get the alarm out fast and not have to ask someone what the number for 9-1-1 is.

We've lived in our current house almost eight years, and in the not too recent past we didn't worry about even locking the doors. My how the devastating economic situation has changed things.

So to protect yourselves--what can you do?

Here is what the police have told us:

For Autos:

- hide valuables out of sight or better yet, do not keep them in the vehicle.

- park in well lit areas (like our driveway (yeah but that's secluded))

For Homes:

- Use the deadbolt--EVERY TIME!

- Ensure all doors and windows are locked.

- Make the home look alive

- Write down the serial numbers of everything you own--yes everything (watches, computers, electronics, tools. even the dog). Who knew that my DeWalt 10 inch compound mitre saw was a high theft item? Do not store the numbers on a laptop (duh!)

Security is not fun, it is becoming a necessity. Whatever the reason, right now we are clearly targets. And I know a lot about targets and don't like being one myself. Hopefully, these actions will stem the tide--which by the way is a concern because (unlike lightning) we have been told that they'll be back in six months for a return visit since the bad guys figure we'll replace what was taken by then. And insurance, while nice, does not begin to cover the true cost of being a target.

Hopefully--next year I will be able to report that Oct 2008-Sep 2009 was as quiet and boring as Mar 2001-Sep 2007 was. The difference being--I will be activating my security system every time I leave the house as well as ensuring every door and window is locked down tighter than a bank.

It is a price to pay.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Death of Summer

I'm standing on the back patio, under the deck, grilling a couple of awesome steaks and I look up into the towering trees to see the advancing storm begin to dance in the leaves. A couple of my evening friends, bats, are dancing in the air looking for a meal and reminding me that although the calendar says that autumn has arrived--my now old friend summer hasn't really fully departed yet.

The loss of summer, much like the loss of youth, makes me sad. Perhaps that's why I keep playing racquetball--to hold onto something which is on the verge of passing away.

The evening sky is dark--but the trees remain in full foliage. Thankfully. There is no color in their leaves yet.

The pool, while open is too cold to swim in and with the skyrocketing price of propane we've decided not to heat it for one last early autumn fling this year.

The nights are colder and it is clear that autumn is close at hand. The leaves should begin to clothe themselves in their royal colors soon. So many people love the colors of autumn--I unfortunately always see it as a prelude to the gray blandness that is winter.

But the bats remain this evening and the geese have not yet begun to gather and honk their way to warmer climates. But the other birds are beginning to gather into endless flocks ready to move south and escape the clutches of the coming darkness of winter.

You would think that I am an autumn person--my birthday is mere days after the autumnal equinox. But I'm not. I remember fondly the first 90 degree day of the year when people were saying--it's hot and I said: "bring it on!" And now I long for those hot, steamy days.

If it would only stay. But the days march on and it is for us to enjoy the blessings given to us for each day of our lives and to enjoy the seasons and the individual daily pleasures they bring.

The hibiscus we keep in pots near the pool are in full bloom and with healthy, dark foliage. Splendor. Soon they will be screaming for light and warmth as we bring them in to survive yet another winter and to remind us that there will be another summer. They look forward to summer as much as I do.

It all goes so fast. Too fast. Fast like my last glass of wine even though I was sipping it to make it last. It ended and I was left with a beautiful memory.

I hear the rain beginning to build in the approaching storm. Like the storm in my soul which would have the world be in summer all day and every day. But that would be boring some tell me--I'd like to try it sometime anyway.

What a great evening though. The steaks are done and it's time to eat and enjoy a glass of wine and some great conversation with Chris. And remember the joy of the summer past while looking ahead to the seasons to come.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Orioles Lay Down and Lose 2

Well, I attended my last major league baseball games of the season last night. I was accompanied by Jeremy and while we had a great father-son outing, the baseball being played by the O's at Camden Yards left something to be desired.

Now everyone knows that I am a relatively rabid O's fan. I admit, I love baseball more than football--which is good because there are about 146 more games per season for each team.

I did get to shake the hand of the Orioles Bird and, from the extremely low attendance, I bet the Bird could have shaken everyone's hand in the stadium during one inning. BTW--the official attendance at the first game was 0. (check it out if you don't believe me)

It was a doubleheader--now I've had a really bad experience with doubleheaders--having the fortune of witnessing last year's Texas Rangers MLB record setting 30-3 killing of Baltimore's beloved Birds. That to be followed by another ugly loss.

Last night--I witnessed another twin loss in both games. The team looked flat. They looked as if they are playing out the string of the season and tickets to warmer beach locations are waiting on their desks for the last pitch. The highlight was a great performance by a new pitcher: Alfredo Simon who pitched 8.2 innings of really great baseball and departed with a 5-3 lead and the bases empty. He was immediately replaced by Jamie Walker who promptly pursued changing the 2 run lead into a deficit. When the ugly 8th inning was finally over, the Rays had scored 6 runs and had a 7-5 lead--which was the final score. Another great starting pitching performance squandered by a bullpen which has not had any spark since Matt Albers went down earlier in the season.

I could question why Manager Dave Trembly went with Walker (I knew had the lead doomed as soon as he stepped onto the field) instead of the closer George Sherrill (who actually did pitch a solid ninth inning). But--another loss was the ultimate outcome and with the time approaching 11PM, after the top of the 8th inning--we departed. All this after watching the O's self-destruct during the first game of the doubleheader.

I love Camden Yards--and it makes me sad when the season comes to an end. It makes me even sadder to see a very exciting baseball team (the O's) have to listen to about 50 Tampa Bay Ray's fans cheer and outshout the Orioles faithful at the yard. I remember earlier in the season when I looked forward to singing Orioles Magic after another comeback win with the most exciting team in baseball--but

there's always next year!

And all we need is a shortstop, a third baseman, a catcher, a first baseman, a starting pitching rotation and a complete new bullpen (except for Sherrill who should be the set-up man for Chris Ray).

This is Birdland

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Griffin Hotel, Canberra

This is an interesting hotel actually located in Kingston, ACT. The Griffin Hotel is a very nice place to stay. The rooms are suites and are very upscale. The inclusion of a kitchen allows for ease of preparing breakfasts or other meals--and there is a grocery store right across the street which enhances the whole food preparation aspect of the hotel.

The hotel is located in a residential area which has nice trees and is very quiet. It is a short ride to the capital area of Canberra, like about 7 minutes--so it is very convenient. When finding the hotel on Googlemaps--there is a street view but it is hard to distinguish the hotel as it blends well into the surrounding area.

The suite consists of a living room, dining area, kitchen, bed room (some suites have multiple bedrooms), and large bathroom. The digital TVs are a very nice touch and add to the experience. The suites generally have a nice balcony to overlook the surrounding region and there is a laundry facility and parking garage attached to the hotel.

The front desk is not staffed 24 hours and this is not a full service hotel--although the desk personnel were very efficient in calling for taxis and providing information on the area. There is a restaurant associated with the hotel (Vie) but given the number of other choices in the immediate area I did not sample the menu at Vie. It looked very upscale--and I was interested in sampling the great Australian Pub in the shopping plaza across the street and also the Thai restaurant.

The bed was soft and probably one of the nicest I have every stayed in. The suite was large and had everything expected--including ironing board and iron. It was comfortable.

The one negative: Internet service is expensive and the 50MB download limit is a joke. After 50 MB the internet provided charges $.10 AUD per MB but the provider severely limits the upload which makes video conferencing almost impossible.

Recommendation: This is a great place to stay. /there are a large number of restaurants and pubs within a very short walk--like across the street. The neighborhood is quiet and very pleasant. If you don't want that "hotel in the middle of the action" feel and really want a place to become a base for exploring and doing business in Canberra--I highly recommend the Griffin Hotel.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Holiday Inn Adelaide, Australia

So this is a really neat hotel right in the middle of the action in Adelaide. The Holiday Inn in Adelaide is located right near the action in Adelaide. It is situated on Hindley Street in the club district--so if you are into the nightlife--then this is the place for you.

The hotel is a short walk to anywhere in the central district of Adelaide. I walked to the National Wine Centre and the Botanic Gardens--which is at the other end of the district and it was only about a 15 minute walk at moderate speed.

The hotel is staffed by an extremely helpful concierge and wait staff. They are pleasant and very forthcoming with information. Check in was smooth as was check out.

The rooms are large and accommodating with plenty of space to work, for instance on a laptop, yet with space to feel unconstrained.

The rooms have high speed internet access, direct dial telephones, color, remote control TV, in-room fax and modem lines, individual climate control air-conditioning, mini bar, refrigerator, tea and coffee making facilities, iron and ironing board and hairdryers.

Everything needed to ensure a good stay. Even the elevators were responsive. The view of the city from the rooms is fantastic.

The bed was comfortable, the room was clean.

Breakfast, although not included, was spectacular. In addition, the closeness to the main shopping area of the city means that there are many options. I also ate at a pancake shop just up the street. And for those with smaller children--yes, there is a McDonald's less than two blocks away.

The one negative--internet service is expensive and the download volume is ridiculously low (50mb) after which the restrict bandwidth to what seemed to be dial-up speed. You can max out the 50mb in just over an hour of aggressive surfing and news reading. (I found this all over Australia--not just in Adelaide).

One caution: The hotel, while nice, has a sex shop located next door. This may be a problem for families with children--especially teens. Also, Hindley Street is one of Adelaide's active club districts--so don't plan on being out after dark with your family unless they are very comfortable in a Club scene. And again--many of the clubs have an advertised sex theme. This in not the Moulin Rouge area of Paris by any means--but after dark the clubbers are everywhere and according to the Adelaide paper of September 12th--there have been some problems associated with the area--again afterdark (I would guess in the wee hours of the morning).

Recommendation: Location, location, location make this hotel definitely a place to stay while in Adelaide. I would stay there again and recommend it for those who can handle the immediate area. The hotel is a grand environment of its own.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The longest day continued

Well the day just doesn't seem to end. I'm feeling every bit of the hours of travel. I am encouraged though as my watch, for the first time in two weeks is set to eastern daylight time.

The plane has been airborne now for almost two hours. The end of the journey is insight.

If you think about it, travelers have longer and shorter than 24-hour days all the time. Just not to the extreme that I am experiencing today.
I am trying not to sleep to help drag myself through the 14 hours of time change easier. And its not that hard because it is 10am according to my internal clock. It took every bit of four days to feel normal when I flew out. Hopefully it won't take that long on the way back.

Just an aside. As I look at my watch in flight somewhere over the cloud covered U.S., I note that I boarded my first flight of the day in Canberra 24 hours ago exactly.

I think I will remember September 17, 2008 for a very long time.

But I know who is waiting for me at the other end, and it is all worth it.

Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

How to get more than 24 hours in a day! For Real!

So I've finally figured out how to get more than 24 hours into a day! I'm writing this as I sit in San Francisco airport waiting for my next flight to leave at the end of a 12 day, 9 flight trip.

It is truly magic associated with travel. Today is September 17, 2008 and this morning I woke up in Canberra, Australia. I left Canberra at 10:10 am aboard a Qantas flight for Sydney and I arrived there at 11:00 am. It was a short 50 minute flight.

Then at about 3PM I left Sydney aboard a United Airlines 747 for San Francisco. It was a 13 hour flight over the Pacific Ocean. I arrived in San Francisco at 11:10 am -- on the same date--September 17th. I arrived before I left. It was kinda funny, when they announced the local San Fran time of 11:10 am Sept 17th--someone (it may have been me) piped up and said you mean--still Sept 17th. Lots of laughs ensued in the cabin.

OK--but the day doesn't end there! No--another flight leaving San Fran at about 3 PM for Baltimore (and thankfully home) which arrives shortly after 11 PM.

So if you add it all up. I think that from midnight the start of the 17th, to midnight the start of the 18th, I will have experiences about a 37 hour day. And of that, I will have had an airplane strapped to my bottom for about 19 hours. That leaves 10 hours at the start of the day till the airport in Canberra, plus about 3 hours in Sydney waiting, plus 4 in San Fran, and then one to finish the day in Baltimore. I think it all adds up. With actual times it may be closer to 38 hours.

But-- the point is--when someone says that it is impossible to get more than 24 hours in a day--now you know the truth!

I'm hopeful of getting some reviews of hotels and restaurants completed in the next couple weeks. There are some definitely good places to stay if you are contemplating a trip to Australia--and the eating is really good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A couple more songs to consider--The Grip of Christ that won't let go!

I’ve been listening to two songs recently which are over a decade apart in age, but both speak to the same concept. That idea is that God is never too far away and that he has a firm grip on us.

The first is Sometimes by Step written by Rich Mullins in the early 1990's. One of the key lines near the end of the song is: “I may falter in my steps, but never beyond your reach.” He then goes on to write and sing: “O God you are my God and I will ever praise you.” (BTW--click on the link to listen to the song.)

The second verse contains these words:

Sometimes I think of Abraham
How one star he saw had been lit for me
He was a stranger in this land
And I am that, no less than he
And on this road to righteousness
Sometimes the climb can be so steep
I may falter in my steps
But never beyond Your reach
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

The other song, written by the Desperation Band in about 2007 is Promises. One key line in this song goes; “All of your promises won’t let go of me.” Later the song goes “I couldn’t walk away if I tried ‘cause your love is better than life.”

Singin' all your promises wont let go of me
Singin' all your promises wont let go of me
Singin' all your promises wont let go of me
Singin' ll your promises wont let go of me
I surrendered my life to your ways
I have learned what it means to obey
Jesus my heart has been changed by you
I am walking the path you have made
I am seeking the truth every day
Jesus my heart has been changed by you
I couldn’t walk away if I tried
'Cause your love is better than life
Now the suns shining bright
And it just won’t set
'Cause your love is a light and it lights my step
My heart is amazed every day to the next
Your joy overtakes and I can’t Forget about it

What is it about these two songs that keeps me listening to them? The whole concept that God’s grip on me is sure and he won’t let me go--no matter what. They both go along with the David Crowder song: Never Let Go that I wrote about last week. I guess I am just marveling in the firm grip that God has on me and each one of us.

The deep understanding of God’s love for us--that love that sent His Son to die for us--before we even realized we needed Him. They both continue the theme of Romans 8:35-39 which reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. No matter how hard we try!

These can be hard words to accept--and perhaps that is why there are songs written about that strong grip on each of us.

So what is the bottom line, in terms of promises? I think Romans 5:6 kinda says it all: "For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly." (NET Bible)

What time is it? The right time. When is it? The right time. No matter when it is--and it is different for each of us, the grip of Christ on each of us is at exactly the right time.

We all falter in our steps on the path of righteousness. Get up! Look at Christ and follow Him and keep your eyes on Him. So when you falter--remember the promises of God--He dies for us at just the right time and nothing (and I mean nothing) can separate us from the love of Christ and all of His promises!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Alice Springs--Oasis in the desert

I was reviewing my blog this morning and realized that while I had included a restaurant review while in Alice Springs, I didn't provide any pictures or review the city. So here goes.

Alice Springs, or Alice as it is referred to is the largest city in the region. It is a central point for transshipment of goods and is a cultural and arts center. It is also small--less than 26,000 people.

There is a lot of natural beauty in the region. But on this trip I did not get a chance to go to the gorges and chasms that dot the region.  I am told the area looks a lot like the U.S. desert southwest--except no cactus.

The city of Alice has a central walking mall--called the Todd Mall after the Todd River which is nearby--don't get too excited about water sports the river is dry for most of the year. So no tubing.

At on end of the town is ANZAC Hill, the war memorial, at the other is Bojangles. Total walking time--about 15 minutes. That is from the base not the top of ANZAC Hill.

There are a lot of cool shops on the walking mall and the newest addition is a Target Store, which was not yet open--but was expected to open within a week. 

So there isn't a lot of places people can hide on the mall. I was a bit distressed on this trip with the number of unoccupied shops on the mall.  It seems that economic hard times have made their way to Alice as well.

I ma told that Alice and the area are great for families and for those who especially love outdoor activities--hiking and camping and going "bush."

The mall is generally not crowded--but there are lots of tourists. Alice is a tourist town and there are attractions and activities for the tourists to do while in town. While I was there,  an auto race across the desert was beginning and the contestants were arriving at the local race track for the start of the race. So it seems there is always something happening.

Alice has been called the oasis in the outback--and once you fly into the city, you will definitely understand. Three hours of flying over the Simpson Desert and then landing at Alice. But the city is very welcoming.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Canberra Arrival

After safely arriving in Canberra, I realized that I had looked at the maps, and I'm pretty good with maps, but I was totally unprepared for what I found in this unique city. Lots of open space right around the the government buildings in the ACT--Australian Capital Territory. Very unlike London or Washington D.C.

This shot is looking back at the city from a lookout atop another hill--it is nearing dusk, but the vegetation and open areas are readily noticeable. Hopefully, I'll get some better pictures the fading light really hampered the ability to get a nice "put it on the wall" shot.

But we had gone hunting for kangaroos--right in the ACT region as a park around the lake in the foreground. These are Grey Kangaroos and they were keeping their distance--so I maxed out the zoom on the camera, hence, the shake and bit of fuzz.

There were about six of the kangaroos, but they were a bit shy and were keeping in the shadows along the treeline, making it though to pull them out of the background in photography. OK--I wish I had brought Chris' really good camera no rather than my older less capable camera.

While walking across the open area to get to the kangaroos, we spotted these birds. They are Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. And they were also resting high in the trees.

They were fun to watch and to photograph.

I also spotted this Australian King Parrot (I think, I'm still trying to sort it out) Which was fun to see--but he only kept his back to me.

It has been a fun start to the last portion of my trip. The green forests and open spaces are a contrast to the hustle and bustle of Adelaide and the desert view of Alice springs.

Well a few more days to go on this adventure and I'll be winging my way home. Who knows what other adventures I will have.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Adelaide -- City Down South

OK--so it is a whirlwind visit, only two nights and a couple very busy days.  But on first blush this is one fun city. It is alive and full of things to see and do. And as an added bonus, the drive from the airport is mercifully short.This is the view out my hotel window. In the very far distance, if you look hard you can see the ocean.

There is a China Town, where I ate dinner one night. It is was also bustling and full of life.

I was lucky enough to get an abbreviated afternoon in the city on Friday so I was able to walk to two attractions--the National Wine Center and the Botanic Gardens. This was about a mile from my hotel, but the walk through the central business district of the city was fascinating--especially the sculpture I found on the maing walking mall of a pig in the garbage.  I'm not too sure what that was all about.  But it was cute.

The National Wine Center is a nice museum/educational center spondored by the University of Adelaide. It lays out Australian winemaking history and procedures. The map shows all of the winemaking regions in Australia--and yes there is one intrepid vineyard in Alice Springs in the center of the country.

After my educational romp, I was able to get educated up close and personal with a tasting. Yup--good Australian wines. I would have bought a couple bottles except the walk back was so far. This place though, is a must see on a trip to Adelaide. And, I highly recommend Adelaide as a stop.

As the National Wine Center abuts the Botanic Gardens, I was able to wander around the gardens for a few minutes. As it was getting late, though, I was unable to spend as much time there as I would have liked. But it was a nice stroll.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Who Are You Working For?

Well who? Consider this.

An elected representative believes they are working for the electorate. They enact legislation and develop bills to bring money and government support to their district. On the surface this seems to be good thinking. The representative wants to get reelected and by showing concern and support for the electorate it would seem that that is why the people elected them in the first place. But wait--if each elected representative is doing the same thing, then who is working for the greater good of the country and the world. It could be postulated that this is one of the problems that our government currently has--the elected representatives are thinking and working at too low a level--hence all of the "pork barrel" projects that plague our budget.

A couple weeks ago as our pastor was finishing a sermon series on Proverbs he posed this question to the congregation. He had discussed a number of important verses in Proverbs about work ethic (Prov 10:4, 6:10-11 and 21:21) and ideas about working first and playing later (Prov 24:27). It was the closing idea of the message and he only briefly addressed it--because the reference isn't from Proverbs at all, but rather Colossians. He referenced Colossians 3:23-24:

3:23 Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people, 3:24 because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ. (NET Bible)

This is an important issue for leaders. So I'm going to dig into the concept a bit deeper.

Knowing who are we working for is important because it is in knowing who we are working for that we will be able to determine what decisions and actions we should be taking.

There are a few answers to the question "Who am I working for?" Some of the answers could be: my boss, my country, myself, the stockholders, the electorate. How leaders answer the question is critical in evaluating success and in providing a context for decision making.

As in the case of the elected representative, the belief of who we are working for influences our on-the-job decision making.

So in answer to the question: "Who are we working for?" we draw from Colossians--we are working for the Lord. That, as they say, changes everything. The whole reason we go to work, the decisions we make at work and in leading our team, even the standards we use to evaluate success are cast in a different view when we accept and understand who we are working for in reality.

This may put us at odds with our earthly bosses as we make morally correct and consistent decisions.

But the up side is--we will be consistent and understandable--by our peers, our subordinates and our earthly bosses. Making decisions consistent with God's values, while not often easy, is why God called us to be in the professions he called each of us to be in. We are there to contribute in the manner God has called us. Sometimes that means we make correct decisions which may be unpopular with those who think they are our bosses.

But then--we'll be able to cut out the pork!

Bojangles Saloon, Alice Springs - A Review

An evening at Bojangles in Alice Springs, Australia is a great way to relax and unwind. You should check out their website and if you like log into their in saloon cameras to enjoy the nightlife vicariously.While at the saloon/restaurant call friends and have them log in an monitor your activity.  Could be interesting.

They say it is authentic Australian, and the interior is a visually stimulating and rustic place to enjoy just looking around at the displays on the walls and some which even coming out of the ceiling. Don't miss the big snake in the Bat Out of Hell display case.  Also--the restrooms are not to be missed. If you've been drinking a bit much, the placement of handles and knobs could become a problem.

Ah the food. Well, the portions are big and filling--just as you would expect from authentic Australian. The food was cooked very well. I had the mixed grill which featured five Australian meats: buffalo medallion, emu sausage, kangaroo fillet, camel kabobs, and crocodile rissoles.  Each of the meats has a different texture and taste and was cooked very nicely. The only one I didn't enjoy was the croc, as it was mushy and somewhat tasteless.  I don't think it cooked quite long enough. No, it didn't taste like chicken. The other diners, some who had eaten at Bo's before relayed that everything on the menu was good except for the barramundi fillet. Seems they tend to overcook fish a bit. However, the barramundi fish and chips, enjoyed by one of the other diners in my group, was excellent.

The service was extremely quick and the food was served piping hot. Everyone in our party of six got served at the same time and the orders were correct.

The restaurant has an adequate wine selection, but I enjoyed a Victoria Bitter (a/k/a/ VB) beer with my meal.

Recommendation: A must visit and enjoy while in Alice Springs. Check out the website to get a feel for the rustic interior of the saloon. The food is tasty and not expensive. Bojangles is located at one end of the town and is easy to find as it is right off the Todd Mall.  Bo's is an icon in Alice Springs and with good reason.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wallaby Feeding Stop -- Nature Up Close

In terms of trip highlights, feeding the ragged group of Wallaby's near a resort ranks up there as a unique aspect of my trip. They are small and cute marsupials who have very soft fur--yup. I got to pet a couple.

They do have some social issues, however, as there was some fighting over the food that I was feeding a couple of them. Seems the dominate males like to remind others who is in charge.

They were very friendly and the resort sold bags of special Wallaby food--some dietary formulated stuff I guess, for crazy tourists to feed to the animals.

One of the Wallaby's has a Joey in her pouch--and I was able to get some pictures of them together.

As it was nearing dusk and the area was a bit dark, the flash wanted to go off--but it made their eyes red. Turning the flash off though meant that that I was unable to freeze motion --so here are the two extremes in pictures.

For the purists in the crowd--these are Rock Wallaby's, that is according to the sign at near where I had the opportunity to feed them. I guess, according to Wikipedia, there are some 30 species of Wallaby's. In Wikipedia they are listed as the Short-eared Rock Wallaby.
And yes--some of them are really scruffy. These are animals living in the wild--not in cages. Sadly, I forgot to image the hillside where they are living so you could see their preferred environment. It was a vert steep, rocky, arid area.
Enjoy the pictures though--and it's OK--they are cute!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You Never Let Go

I listened to a song on the plane the other day which made me stop. I listened to it many times and really had a Jesus moment right there in the middle of a 747 at 38,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean some 15 hours from home.

The song is: You Never Let Go by David Crowder Band. The lyrics were written by Mike Hogan, David Crowder, and Mike Dodson. According to "this song was written when the United States and world were watching the news after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, LA on August 29, 2005. In response to seeing those images and in prayer of thanks to God, David wrote these words because 'Ever faithful, ever true... in joy and pain, in sun and rain, [God's] the same. Oh, [He] never let[s] go.'"

I've added a You Tube clip so you can listen to the lyrics--but they really hit me square between the eyes as I was winging above the earth.

When clouds veil sun
And disaster comes
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
When waters rise
And hope takes flight
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul

Ever faithful
Ever true
You I know
You never let go
You never let go
You never let go
You never let go

And I realized that even though these words were written about a natural disaster they also applied to the disasters in my life. I was comforted and humbled realizing that no matter how hard I may try to let go of Christ and to hide in something else, or blame someone else for whatever is happening, that Jesus never lets me go. His grip on me is tighter than I ever could imagine. He knows my weakness and even before I start to release my grip on Him, He is tightening His hold on me. So that I will not fall.

When I rebel--Jesus never lets go. And despite my rebellion, when I try to separate myself from Him, when I try to hide or drown in the rising waters--He never lets me go. Nothing can make Him let go of me--no matter how hard I try.

The words of Paul written to the Romans comes to mind:

8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 8:36 As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 8:37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NET Bible)

And so, as the song ends--it remains and so does His love for me.

When clouds brought rain
And disaster came
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
When waters rose
And hope had flown
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul
Oh, my soul

Oh, my soul
Oh, what love, oh, what love
Oh, my soul
Fills hope
Perfect love that never lets go

Oh, what love, oh, what love
Oh, what love, oh, what love
In joy and pain
In sun and rain
You're the same
Oh, You never let go

Monday, September 8, 2008

Biking the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail

Chris and I, accompanied by friends biked part of the B&A Trail, twice, within a couple days over Labor Day weekend. It is a beautiful trail as it follows and old railroad roadbed--it is also relatively flat allowing for a very enjoyable ride.

The section we have been riding is seven miles long. Since we ride out and back it is a 14 mile round trip. Although the ride is relatively easy--its length adds a real workout to the entire endeavor. So it is not easy. But it is fun and at times relaxing.

I have been amazed at the number of different people we find along the trail. All kinds of people take advantage of this trail--and not just bikers either.

We have also learned that biking is not about how fast or how far you ride--it is all about the experience and especially the experience of being together. We have seen teams of riders riding together, and they stay together in a pack. Or maybe in a school like fish.

Similarly, when we ride together we stay together and enjoy each others company. It is nice to be able to comment on the small animals along the side of the trail--or even the suicidal rabbits who like to dart directly in out path to see if we will crash trying to avoid them. Of course, it is a little worrisome to ride along the trail and have the turkey vultures circling overhead. Kinda makes you wonder who the next road kill will be.

But the biking is good and company is great. It is definitely something to do and to look forward to.

Where is Bob Now?

Half a world away—in a far off land with strange but familiar sights. That is where Bob is right now. He is spending Sunday decompressing after flying for almost 20 hours. And yes—the correct answer is Sydney, Australia.
The flights are long and tedious--what after all do you do on a 747 for 14 hours?  Sleep and watch movies. Although I did some Suduko, too. 
We took today to try and get acclimated to the 14 hour time change. Yeah--think about it. I'm getting ready to go to bed and you're just getting up. And the Sunday football games will still be being played when I get up tomorrow.
But each day is new with its own challenges. It is hard to be separated form our loved ones, but this time we are at least connecting via the magic of webcams!  Which has been a cool treat.

That said, and I'm getting ready to go to bed a 9 PM and struggling to stay awake.

I saw the Bird of Paradise and had to take a picture to compliment the other pictures.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

An Evening Under the Stars

Monday evening last week, amidst the business of life, Chris and I took and evening out to sit and enjoy watching night fall from the comfort of our back yard.

We have an awesome yard--complete with pool and deck and now a fire pit. We enjoyed a bottle of wine, listened and watched a Neil Diamond concert from 1976 on the laptop and lit many candles and as well as the fire pit to set the mood and to drive away the bugs.

It was an awesome experience it, to just take a timeout to reconnect about life. We listened to the night sounds and watched bats skim the pool for water.

Did life stop? No. But we connected on levels that we hadn't connected on in some time. We were able to discuss at length some things which we have only been touching the surface of due to our rat race lives--and it was good.

God provided a perfect evening, and we were able to enjoy it.

I highly recommend timeout evenings. We find time for so many things--it was really great to find time for each other.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

E Discovers the Hose

Sunday's which form the middle day of a three day weekend are a lot of fin. Usually, I wind up lamenting the end/loss of the weekend, but as the middle day of a three day weekend, Sundays are fantastic. Why? I guess it's mental because I know my time off from work isn't over yet. This Labor Day weekend, Sunday was no exception.

The day began in church where we were accompanied by our daughter and our two grandsons--E and Jax. They both love singing the praise songs with the band. Ethan brought a bucket into church with his--a standard beach bucket. We couldn't figure out why, but I offered that he wanted to fill it with God's grace and that seemed to work.

The real fun of the day though came while we were sitting around the pool during the late afternoon--after nap. OK--as an aside, how do you get a three-year old who doesn't want to take a nap to sleep and nap? Answer--you don't. They will outlast and outwit you (sounds like a commercial for Survivor doesn't it?)

Ethan was playing with the hose--taking it to the far side of the pool and pulling it back to him. The good part of this was we had already been swimming and were warming up after jumping in the frigid 75 degree water. As E became more comfortable with the hose he decided to get people wet with it--whereupon I kinked the hose to stop the flow of water. To the best we can remember, he never figured out I had done this.

And now the fun begins. Literally. As E looked into the end of the hose, I unkinked and quickly re-kinked it so water would shoot out--just a shot, not a steady stream. And the laughter began. Full deep belly laughter. We repeated this many times and in many situations--always with laughs. Of course some of the innocent bystanders (Chris) did get wet, mostly it was E who would look into the end of the hose and try to figure out how the water knew when he was looking to shoot out only at him. Never when he pointed the hose at anyone else. A picture would be graeat at this point, but we were all having so much fun playing and laughing with E that no cameras appeared to record the event for posterity.

E repeated looking into the hose in anticipation of that shot of water coming out many, many times. It was truly a highlight to be remembered.
My Zimbio
Top Stories