Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Musings - August 31, 2009

1. Summertime and fairs seem to go together. Hawkers on the midway add to the ambiance.

2. When August gives way to September, the cool breezes portend a weather change that ultimately results in Autumn frosts in the air.

3. The real end of summer is when the teachers return to school!

4. There is a satisfaction that comes with completing a complex project and actually being pleased with the results. It makes the heart yearn for something more, or what's next.

5. I had a racquetball heavy week last week--I played on five separate occasions including Saturday, I think it may be a new record. I feel it today.

6. The eyes of children at a fair reflect the chaos and joy that is surrounding them.

7. I had the pleasure of attending a birthday party for a 90-year old friend on Saturday night. That is not something you do very often. And it was great. I only pray to see 90 and still be able to enjoy it.

8. As of today, the O's have 31 games left to play this season. They can only lose 4 of those remaining games to achieve a at least a .500 season. They are currently the 28th best team in MLB. Even the Pittsburgh Pirates have a better record that the O's this season. The scary part is that they need to win 9 of the remaining games so they don't finish with a 100 loss season. It could be close! Hold your breath and put on your rally cap.

9. Someone told me that everything I wrote in item 8 doesn't matter because it's football season in Baltimore! Summer truly has left the building!

10. And speaking of summer--you want to know what it is really all about? California 6, Taiwan 3. Little League World Series final! I wish I was coaching Little League again--maybe soon I will be!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

State Fair Day

August, 30, 2009. The Maryland State Fair with the entire family.

A beautiful day in the mid to low 80's with a lot of sun and fun.

Cows and pigs and rides and fun.

Throw in some food (funnel cake) and a great time.

And watch Jackson dance or Ethan have a wholesome experience with a cow!

Who knew that's where milk comes from?

Cows--did I say cows?

Rides, fun and sun. We arrived as the fair opened at 10 AM and stayed until it after 3PM. It was good to be reminded that Maryland is a great agricultural state. Although I was distressed at how many of the hay entries were disqualified for infractions during the judging.

But it was a great family time together for part of the day. We enjoyed being together and traveling across the grounds in a big group.

Ah--the memories of summers past and present. That is what it is all about--really!

The Project - Final Picture

It is done and here is the picture to prove it as we are watching a replay of yesterday's Dallas vs San Francisco game.

We are officially ready for football season (and the end of baseball season, and hockey season too).

Very smooth and operating great! Our family TV room is back together.

Friday, August 28, 2009

It Happened--The TV is in the Hole!


It's nearly done.

The TV is in the hole--(I forgot to take a picture)

It works!

It looks good!!

There are just a few really minor things to do, like tightening up the bracket so it doesn't have as much range of motion and painting the door we installed.

We watched part of James Bond last night! And the sub-woofer shook the room and the TV was bright.

And it was good.

Thanks to all who have provided encouragement during this project.

And especially thanks to Patrick and Tina for their help--without them it would not have been done in such a grand fashion and in as little time as it was. The whole project was really Patrick's vision, and a good one at that. Maybe he can market it.

I still need to get used to the RF to IR remote--but it is kewl! I can tell you that.

No more ugly doors to open when we are watching TV. Which is how we used to access the components. Nice, clean lines. Looks like it has always been there.

BTW--donations are being accepted to help pay for it, if you are so inclined.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I've been meaning to show off this image since it was taken on July 15, 2009 by Chris.

I was so impressed by it. I remember it well--she took it while we were on the causeway off FL528 waiting for the Endeavour space shuttle launch.

This dragonfly came and landed near her and actually posed for her.

And she caught him.

A really good picture.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of different types of dragonflys. I tried to identify the specific type of dragonfly--but there were too many different types--who knew!
She has a great eye.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Project--Getting Close Now

Well--we are getting close.

This is the paint phase.

And it looks pretty good.

Another coat and it will be ready for the TV to be installed--Thursday, as planned.

It has been a long hard road--with many twists and turns. But with the end in sight, I am really getting excited.

The wall covers have been reinstalled, the fans installed in the hole, and the cables ready for a TV.

And believe it or not, the next project has already been queued up.

Project Update - The End in sight is not an on-coming train

Well--last night was an important night in the continuing saga which is the TV enclosure project.

Paint! At least some paint.

I did have to fix a small problem with dry wall tape in one area so the entire project did not receive paint--but--tonight the first coat will be applied to everywhere and the second coat to the area where the TV will actually sit.

TV installation is tentatively scheduled for Thursday night!!!!!

It looks good!

It feels good to see completion on the horizon.

It will be better to be sitting in the room and watching TV knowing that the project is behind me and the prospect of football season is ahead of me.

Heck--I'll even be able to watch the O's while Chris is watching some HGTV stuff about home projects that are going to cost me more time and money!

It is soooooooo close. I actually see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am pretty sure it's not an on-coming train, this time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Scenes to Remember

Did you ever go somewhere and see a scene that you just had to remember?

Sometimes I look at the sun reflecting off the clouds in the evening, as the pinks and reds are beginning to color them and wish that I could record how they appeared to me.

Not the way they look to the camera--cameras record the scenes as they are, not as we see them in our mind. Did you know that there is a difference?

How many times do you look across an open space and see a beautiful pastoral setting and then as you go to take a picture notice the ugly power lines running across in front of you?

We had a similar situation this summer driving away from Key West.

We were watching a water spout--which believe it or not is in the picture, travel just off shore along the road. It was fascinating. And there were two of them. We were so focused on the spouts, that we didn't even notice the power lines in the foreground of the picture.

But in my mind--I remember the water spouts. Not the power lines.

We transform scenes in our minds--removing the ugly and replacing filling the space with how we want to see the scene.

Like a beautiful day along the banks of a small lake in Florida watching the wildlife. It is something beautiful to remember. A happy place, so to speak. A place where there was joy and fun and excitement.

We forget the oppressive heat, the mosquitoes, the long walk. We remove the imperfections to make it a place to dream of returning to--on another day.

It has become another scene to remember in the movie of my life.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Musings - August 24, 2009

1. Wow--weeks do fly. I totally missed last week's installment of Musings because I was so busy with the TV installation/construction project. Ever notice how some people are just ready to pile on? I have already been asked what my next construction opus is going to be! Let me finish this one first, please.

2. This August is the first time in 28 years where we have not been sending one of our children off to school/college. There was one year when we had some time off--but this is really permanent. It is really different.

3. August has screamed by--after July and the great vacation, the pace of life has been really unbelievable.

4. Psalm 90. Yesterday in church it was the topic of the message. The comment was made--"that when we have nothing left but God, then we understand that God alone is enough." That kinda stuck with me.

5. An interesting thing happened with the Orioles yesterday--they won their first series since the All Star break by taking a series from the Chicago White Sox. It really has been that bad since early July!

6. Some would say football season is here--hurrah! But I hear those words and think of the end of summer coming too soon and with it the beginning of birthday season for the family. We have a lot of birthday between now and the beginning of next year!

7. I'm changing my racquetball schedule from T-Th @ 0530 to M-W-F to see if I can get in even better shape and improve my fitness level a bit more. Day 1 was OK. And I guess I will still do the league on Tuesday nights--if we have a league this season. The club is determined to mess with the schedule and screw even that up.

8. Know what really makes me smile deep inside? Hearing Jax say "pop-pop" over and over as he comes (runs) to me!

9. A good timeout is sitting on the sofa watching Transformers with Ethan! Yeah--go get 'em Bumblebee!

10. I saw an enjoyable movie over the weekend--Julie & Julia. I recommend it. There are slow spots, but I have always been fascinated with Julia Child and Meryl Streep does a great job. Turns out there is a whole section in this month's Wine Spectator about Julia Child! Awesome.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Project -- Some pictures

Well--I've been writing about it and I think it is time for some pictures of the project--which is nearing completion.

I did have a set back. I had designed the installation to with the idea of having air flow from the bottom to the top with a 2 inch spacing--but when we put the TV in the hole--it just didn't look right. So I am in the process of making the hole a bit smaller.

The door--didn't exist before the project began and it is used to access the area behind the enclosure where the electronics are being installed. We are using an rf to ir converter to make everything work.

I don't have a current picture based on what I did this morning--but the mudding is going really well and we should be painting by Monday evening or Tuesday at the latest.

We have already had the TV installed and test drove it. It looks great and the whole thing is really going pretty well. Patrick is the genius behind the electronic installation.

We have also installed electricity through the back wall and the HDMI cable to run the TV as well. Two cords is all it takes! Amazing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Leadership: Keeping the Strategic Focus

At times--we get pulled in many different directions. The senior leadership, likewise, may also be pulled in directions and into situations which, if not properly assessed, could be detrimental to the larger organization.

I learned many years ago that we need to recognize the three spheres of influence within which we work: tactical, operational, and strategic.

Tactical is the fight going on right in your face. It is the small scale skirmishes which occur daily in the work place and in office politics. In the military--these are the operations of units directly engaged in operations. There are life and death struggles--and it is though tactical operations that the larger wars are won. Sales are made, new clients found.

Operational is the collective of tactical operations as they relate to a unified goal or objective in a larger sphere. In the military this is a theater of operations. In business--this might be domestic versus overseas operations. It involves the synchronicity of multiple tactical operations in coordination to achieve the larger objective.

Strategic is the key. What are he grander goals of the nation, or the larger company. Blending the operational goals into a unified strategy and focusing that direction is how empires are made. it is how GM became GM.

But then it was all lost.

Business lost its strategic vision. Short term success (a tactical type of goal) overtook the strategic planning and business models. No longer was there recapitalization of capacity. The goal was short term market increase at the expense of everything else. That is what the investors wanted.

Gains, gains, gains!

It could only go on so long. At some point without reinvestment and recapitalization the strategic battle was lost. There was no basis on which to continue to innovate and develop. It had been sold to please the brokers and the investors.

The United States is facing a similar problem. We are pouring so much energy (talent and treasure) into Afghanistan and Iraq and we are drawing down the strategic advantage that we carry over from the past, but we are not reinvesting in our strategic advantage.

The well is going dry.

Just like in business when the strategic vision is lost, I worry that the U.S. may soon suffer a strategic surprise. We have mortgaged our future without any plan for payoff.

Leadership requires keeping your eye on the ball, whether you are the leader of a small team, a division within a company, a military maneuver unit, or of the free world.

Becoming focused at the grass roots level (tactical) when you are responsible for strategic vision is a recipe for disaster.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The project

The construction project is making great progress. I am amazed although I was at Lowe's at 930 last night for supplies.

When completed it is going to look real nice. I just hope the TV fits. There is only 1/2 inch clearance for the sides. That is total. 1/4 for each side. That was the size of the existing opening. So I'm worried about it until it is hung.

That size is only for the very front though. It is larger in the back of the opening. So I really shouldn't worry too much.

It has been fun but it is taking a lot of time. Almost every waking minute I have been working on it or planning it with Patrick.

Maybe Sunday we'll hang the tv.
Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Project: Install a New TV

It seemed so simple--buy a new big screen HDTV to replace our old, outdated 65 inch big screen TV.

Remove and replace!


Welcome to a major deconstruction/construction project--which has already netted me two new tools! One is a compound mitre to replace the one stolen last year--so the net is only one new tool. But you know--that is the part I like best about projects--getting new toys (errr tools).

Well--it turns out that once the big Mitsubishi was removed there is a large (read enormous) hole which needs to be filled. And with that the fun and enjoyment of of a new HDTV to watch all the best that sports the U.S. has to offer dissolves into an OMG construction project of mega-proportions!

So Patrick and I have been deconstructing and rebuilding for the better part of the week.

Progress is slow--but we are not trying to hurry. We are trying to do a first rate job.

I have some pictures that I will publish as the project matures--but we are really being creative and if the plan achieves only a small percentage of its goals--it will be awesome.

Anyone want/need and old TV?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

North Korea vs the Reporters Euna Lee and Laura Ling

OK--I've been simmering on this recent news issue for a while and I finally have to uncork!

You recall the heroic story of the two U.S. reporters taken hostage by North Korea? And that former President Clinton recently shuttled to Pyongyang and secured their release after they were tried and sentenced to 12 years hard labor for illegally entering North Korea?

The AP reports: "Lisa Ling says her sister [Laura] told her that she and another American journalist briefly touched North Korean soil before they were captured and detained for months in that communist country."

The great newspaper the Ethopian Review posts the following (a couple snippets):

"Euna Lee and Laura Ling were granted a pardon by North Korea following rare talks between Clinton and the reclusive leader Kim Jong Il. They had been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for entering the country illegally."

"Nobody wanted this to be a distraction from the more substantially difficult issues we have with North Korea," he said. "There was a desire by the administration to resolve this quietly and from the very beginning they didn't allow it to become a huge public issue."

Here's a thought--they were guilty of being terminally stupid! They probably ought to serve their terms here in the U.S. I mean, what did they expect? North Korea is not the U.S. where we just send illegal immigrants back home.

They did the crime.

And the U.S. and U.S. taxpayers have to foot the bill for their release.

This is really a big issue. Why? Because both of the reporters are going to write books about their experiences and make a lot of money--an our (the taxpayers) expense. And no one seems to care.

Let's look at how it plays out. The United States expends economic, political, and psychological power (three of the four elements of national power) to free the captive reporters. They were justly captured while violating the laws of North Korea. And it wasn't a violation of ignorance--but rather a cogent decision to touch North Korean soil--so they could in all good journalistic faith say that they had been to North Korea. I mean, how do you say--oops, we didn't see the boarder when the border is a frozen river?

And now--after all of the agony they caused their families and the distraction caused to the State Department in the conduct of foreign policy--they are free and able to write a probable bestseller about "how I spent my summer vacation in a North Korean prison."

What's wrong with this picture?

There are countries in the world which would take the stance that they were terminally stupid and need to pay the price.

Thank goodness we live in the United States--because everyone needs protection--I just have a problem with them getting wealthy for knowingly doing something illegal and the U.S. then having to bail them out.

I just hope they don't try to wiggle out of paying their taxes!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Musings - August 10, 2009

1. Returning to work after vacation is really a difficult thing to do. I liken it to being a kid on the day after Christmas and realizing there are 364 more days until Christmas! Only, there are only 330 more days until vacation!

2. Sunday afternoon. The smell of steaks on the grill, the sound of the O's losing another game coming from the radio, and I'm napping on a floatie in the pool. What could be better?

3. Doesn't two weeks ago seem like a long time past?

4. We had a really fun filled weekend--a party given by my boss on Friday night, a dinner/pool party we hosted on Saturday evening, and the kids and grandkids at the house on Sunday. No wonder the lawn didn't get mowed! Know what--it'll be there later today for me--I would not have wanted to miss the time with all of the friends we reconnected with over the weekend.

5. Anniversary season falls during early August for our family. My parents notched 55 years and Chris and I , 34 years this past weekend. Wow--in our case, few believed it would last when two 19-year olds got married on a hot August evening in 1975. I know from my stand point--I wasn't thinking about where I'd be in 2009, I was just trying to get through 1975.

6. Marriage is a journey. A journey begins with a single step and a marriage begins with a single day. Make each step and day the best they can be --and they start to add up. You almost don't notice them as they pass--but every year as you pause and look back on all that has happened before, you realize you're making progress.

7. Pictures are a great way to remember fond times and good friends. I think it is great the electronic media allows us to so widely share our experiences with others!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday and the Race is on Again

OK--it is time to start your engines. The weekend is upon us and there is way more to do than time to do it.

Where would you rather be?

Where would I rather be?

Then go there!

It is hard to imagine a weekend that is not chock full of projects and friends, and family. Not that it is bad--but sometimes I think it is getting all jumbled up together in an incoherent mess.

We need to be on guard of being too busy that we don't do some of the things we enjoy--like napping on a floatie in the pool. Or watching the O's take another frustrating loss. Or sitting on a beach listening to the sound of the waves washing ashore.

I love that sound. Especially when it is a gentle roar across the beach.

God looks down from heaven at the human race,
to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God.
(Psalms 53:2 - NET Bible)

What is it that I am seeking when I surround myself with all of that activity?

I wonder. When do I leave myself time or energy to actively seek God? Thankfully, He is seeking me, too!

But--not it is time to race off on another exciting weekend of activity. Hope to cross paths with you, too!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Post-Vacation Blues

I think I have discovered a new malady: Post-vacation blues.

Yup--I think I have it--bad.

The root cause is returning to life after a two and a half week vacation to find nothing has changed! (I mean what did I expect?) AND--couple that to mourning the loss of some great vacation time in the sun and surf.

I keep looking at the vacation pictures remembering the relaxing (mostly) time had in places where I wasn't facing mountains of email and projects that I wasn't really motivated to tackle.

I mean--don't misunderstand--it was good to get home and back to life in Maryland (especially my dog), but wow, my head is still somewhere else and thinking about the next time I can do it all again.

Ah--but sadly, this too will pass.

Soon I'll get excited about the next email action item, or about cleaning the garage (for real this time) or swapping out the leaking gas tank in the Jag (it has two).

Although napping on a floatie in the pool helped a lot yesterday--then there was that accusing voice that reminded me that there is something fundamentally wrong with napping on a floatie when there is so much to do around the house.

But in my mind--I'm still on vacation.

And so what if I want to take a short nap after a long day catching up at work, drink some wine (although it was awful!), and then watch the O's finally win a game--on the road!

Who has a right to be so judgemental about what I do or don't?

Maybe I'll drown my sorrows and go purchase another big screen TV (like 55 inches) tonight so I can start another major project in the basement entertainment room. That will make me feel better. At least until the Best Buy bill comes in the mail next month!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Name That Fish!


I took a picture of this fish on July 22, 2009 in the Sambo Reefs off Key West, Florida. I cannot figure out what it is.

The closest thing I've come up with is an ocean sunfish--but I don't like the tail and the id seems a bit off.

I have spent probably four hours scouring fish ID guides trying to id this fish--so any help would be appreciated.

It was a good sized fish--but not huge by any stretch of the imagination. I'd say maybe 18-24 inches.

Thanks in advance!

A quick edit--this is most likely a Grey Triggerfish according to experts! Yay Mystery solved. It just didn't look right to me for a Triggerfish--but that was my first instinct. Should've gone with it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Musings - August 3, 2009

1. It's August already? Is it me or is this year rocketing by at an unbelievable pace.

2. Punctuality. Hmmm. Read an interesting article about it. Chronic lateness shows a lack of respect for those with whom you are meeting. Everyone's time is valuable.

3. Returning to work after almost three weeks of vacation is one of the toughest things I have to do in a year. I haven't worn socks in that entire time let alone shoes. Ugh--my feet are dying right now.

4. Why does it seems that no where sleeps as good as your own bed?

5. I watched what could have been described as the first professional football game of the season yesterday--if you only look at the score. The Boston Red Sox scored two touchdowns (one with a two-point conversion) and a field goal in beating my Orioles who scored a touchdown and a field goal; 18-10. Oops, forgot--it was a Major League Baseball game. Someone forget to bring pitchers to the game?

6. Why do vacations have to end? Especially, when they were great vacations.

7. It is reassuring to note that even now, after all these years, I can still pull an all-nighter drive across the country. It was fun to watch the sun rise again and be on the road. I keep hearing strains of Willie Nelson singing "On the Road Again" in my ears though.

8. You really learn a lot about people when you live with them for a week.

9. The beach in Cocoa Beach is a great swimming, surfing beach. It is also good for walking on and playing in the shallow surf. Unfortunately, though, there isn't any local diving or snorkeling.

10. Guanabanas in Jupiter is a really cool restaurant to enjoy. I highly recommend it.

11.. Poor visibility can be a real downer when snorkeling--almost as bad as when driving.
My Zimbio
Top Stories