Sunday, January 31, 2010

Angeline Merlot 2007 Sonoma Valley - A Review

We had a bottle of the 2007 version of this wine the other night.

The nose was very fresh and light with hints of berries. The taste is smooth and light and continues the light berry flavors, and adds some cherry and a hint of vanilla and some mild tannins. The light purple color is very pleasant. I found the finish a bit weak however. It does not linger very long--and is too soon gone. I would wish it to linger a bit longer to add to the enjoyment.

If you are looking for a light wine to enjoy with some light munchies--this is the wine to try.

Don't look too close at the label depicted here--we had the 2007 Sonoma Valley wine--which has the same label except for it says Sonoma Valley instead of Russian River Valley. But the label otherwise is identical.

RECOMMENDATION: A good buy at $12 per bottle.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mid-Winter Splash of Color

As the darkness and gray of the winter drags on, I believe it is helpful to look at bright sunny scenes and remember warmer and brighter days.

I do not know what this flower is called--but the deep greens of the background and the bright pinks of the flowers are calling out to the Summertime which still remains in me despite the weather outside.

If you click on it--then there is a bug in the middle of one of the petals, sunning itself. I could be that bug right now!

Sunning myself, on a sunny beach, in a warm (even hot climate). Toes in the sand.

Smelling the sweet and sometimes musky smells of summer.

Hearing the dragonflies buzz overhead feasting on mosquitoes.

Feeling the sun on my face.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Out of the Mist

Yeah--OK, it is called the Maid of the Mist for a reason. But think deeper about this image of a minute.

Sometimes I feel as if the falls behind the boat represent the turmoil in our lives. Those insurmountable obstacles that always seem to arrive square in out paths at just the wrong moment.

There is no way we are going to succeed on our own--we will be pummelled into submission or, worse, destroyed. Yet, like the Maid of the Mist we continue to sail into the turmoil. Right into the very middle of the storm. We have to sail directly into the most violent part of the storm.

And when we survive or overcome the obstacle. it is because we are surrounded by a stout ship--even when sailing into the very middle of the fiercest storm.

Look at the calm waters in the foreground. Not so far from the falls and the rocks. We long to sail smooth waters and calm seas. And it seems we can always see smooth sailing not that far off in the distance. We want to get there on our own. We think we can. Even though we are exhausted.

I want to sail those calm seas, but I know that there will be storms and obstacles which are trying to upset or sink my boat. Sometimes they succeed. But--I am blessed in that there are always other intrepid sailors to help right my ship and get me back afloat to meet the next challenge or storm.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Morning Light

As I walked across the parking lot into work yesterday, I noticed the brightening dawn on the horizon--although the sun was still a long way below the horizon, it was beginning to illuminate the morning sky and drive the darkness away.

I could still see the stars, and yes it was a clear sky. But on the horizon--the light of the coming day was beginning to silhouette the trees and houses. I detected faint orange-tan colors in the sky which were preceding the coming dawn.

Another preview of the coming Spring when it will again be daylight when I arrive at work!

It made me smile--despite the gloomy weather forecast of snow for the weekend.

Ah--but as the weeks continue I will look forward to seeing more and more daylight as I arrive at work. Maybe even soon--I won't have to turn my headlights on to drive in and it will really be Springtime--that is, until Daylight Savings Time kicks in--and it is dark again!

But then--it will be March and Spring will truly be here!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sprintime, Hope, and the Orioles

I am getting excited.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 17th--and then, regardless of what our favorite February woodland creature predicts--it will be springtime!

Bring it on!

I wish I could go to Sarasota to ssee some spring training games--but, Tampa is a bit far for a weekend jaunt--prob 18 hours by car--each way. And Southwest just isn't offering those $49 each way specials, yet! But there is hope.

Fan Fest on Saturday revived me from the wintertime doldrums! Jeremy even said that he could feel the sun rising on the Orioles season.

It was good to be in a place with so much black and orange. Yeah, the O's are in the toughest division in baseball--but you know what--when we start winning this thing again the Yankees and the Red Sox will be wondering what hit them.

Springtime and hope springs eternal for the baseball world. Every new season there is the hope of a good year-- and here is my prediction: the Orioles will finish with a winning record for the first time in 12 seasons--and may be as good as 87-75 (but I'd be happy with 82-80).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fire in de hole!

Sunday was grandson day at Hacienda Doan.

All three (Ethan, Jax, and Lucas) were present at the house for the weekly football and food orgy. (well, orgy may be a bit strong)

An interesting dynamic developed in the basement with the two oldest grandsons becoming involved in a major disposable drinking cup war! Yes--disposable drinking cups. The paper kind used for summer picnic activities and the red cups traditionally used for beer. They make great projectiles--similar to the "nerf" objects but far less expensive and far more numerous.

They throw pretty good, too. Especially sideways. And a four-year old can hold four cups in each hand and send them on their way towards the intended target with peals of laughter.
Even the 2-year old could play--although we did have to implement a "no head shot" rule for Ethan because he kept hitting Jax in the head and it began to hurt. Although, then there was the excuse: "Well I don't really aim very well" when a couple cups continued to hit Jax in the head.

And Lucas? Well, he was oblivious to the war going on in the basement as he slept peacefully in the arms of numerous family members.
Ah--the joys of children being creative with the most common items on a rainy, cold day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Musings - January 25, 2010

1. I woke up to an unexpected surprise this morning--56 degrees. Nice. Now if it wasn't raining at the rate of an inch an hour it might be something to get really excited about.

2. With only two weeks left to go, the football season is winding down and we will finally be able to get on with our regular sport--baseball.

3. And writing of baseball--the Orioles held their annual Fan Fest event this past weekend. We attended of course. Here is the truly amazing part--over 12,000 fans came out on a cold January day to see the Orioles and get excited about a baseball team which has not had a winning season is 12 seasons. There is a solid fan base here--imagine if we started winning more than losing. It was good to see orange and black everywhere. Jeremy remarked--he could feel the warm sun rising as we were watching the State of the Orioles--a presentation by the President of Baseball Operations and the Manager for the season ticket holders! Go O's!

4. We got a bit excited last night and finalized our plans for our Napa Valley spring break trip in April. But--I'm so excited I'm glad we finally got the reservations for air and lodging completed--now we can begin working on a winery plan.

5. All three grandsons were at the house yesterday for football. The family is continuing to grow. Who would have though two kids from Ithaca could be part of something so cool that started over 35 years ago and is still growing!

6. This is the last week of January 2010. And the year is already 1/12 over--Doesn't it seem like New Year's was just yesterday?

7. The pastor asked an interesting question of the church yesterday: What do you do when things aren't the way they're supposed to be?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Deep Pockets and a Giving Spirit

Haiti has become a daily concern for many of us. Not the country--but the people. The trials they face and all of their problems. We are all trying to figure out how we can help and support the restoration of life there.

Americans always come through for our fellow world citizens. We dig deep and provide not just aid--but our military--the best of our society, to help and reconstruct.

The concert on Friday night reminded me of how giving, as a society we are. We are willing to help everyone--even those who ideologically hate us and want to do us harm.

It is awesome that we can do this for people around the world--and we want to. I believe we recognize how blessed we are and are willing to share what we have with others.

Why are we so reviled then?

Do we make other people afraid because we have so much? Or are they worried about what we might do if we actually all agreed to do something rather than disagree among ourselves about everything?

Well--we need to continue to give and help everyone that we can--in the US and outside. That's how we roll.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Three Grandsons: A Recipe for Excitement

A long, long time ago there used to be a show on TV called "My Three Sons." It was a comedy and followed the growth of a widower and his three sons in many different situations.

Well--here you have-- My Three Grandsons: Ethan, Jax and Lucas.

Two has been fun--and I know that three will be four times the fun!
Lucas will learn very quickly how to keep up with the other two--just like Jax (at only 22 months) has figured out how to keep up with his almost five-year old brother!

I have to tell you--it makes me smile just to think about it now. And even more--I'm the grandfather. When I get tired--place a call to 1-800-hey-parents!

Lucas' birth has drawn the family closer-- and the pictures (thousands of them) are documenting every adventure in his new life and interactions with his family!

Bring it on. In an interesting side note--it is apparent that there is a hole in the birthday months that needs to be filled. That would be February! Lucas was born in January, Jax in March, and Ethan in April. I think the next grandchild (maybe a granddaughter??) needs a February birthdate. There's still time for next year!! LOL!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Winter Sky: A Love-Hate Relationship

I have a love-hate relationship with winter.

Basically, I hate winter. It is cold and snowy or raw and rainy. Yech!

I'd much rather be on a beach somewhere. Toes in the sand contemplating my next diving or snorkeling adventure and working hard to somehow stay away from Orlando and the painted-on disingenuous smiles.

But--as I was taking Makayla out for her evening stroll the other night, it was one of those rare (at least this winter) nights when the sky was clear and I could see the stars. I looked up into the heavens and there was Orion, my favorite constellation. I look forward to seeing my friend Orion every autumn and saying good-bye to him in the springtime. It is just one of those weird things I do.

The most recognizable stars of Orion: Betelgeuse and Rigel, I have long considered to be friends because I know their names. It is amazing how comforting it is to look up into the sky and see recognizable forms and named friends. Even during the summer there are so many constellations and stars that help make the vastness and solitary nature of space closer and more friendly.

I remember once when I was in Australia, I had the opportunity to spend a moonless evening in the outback which was illuminated with nothing but the stars. And they are bright there. It was amazing, how bright the landscape seemed illuminated by nothing other that stars. I felt very close to them, and comfortable bathed in their light.

So--although I hate winter, I love seeing my friend Orion as the great hunter watches over me during his sojourn across the sky. I also enjoy it when he finally disappears from the sky, because I know that summer is upon me again. I admit though--I know that Orion's return signals the end of my summer, and that is the hate part of our relationship.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shopping with the "girls"

Can you think of a better way to spend a Wednesday evening than shopping?

Is this a trick question?

Welcome to Arundel Mills and the shopping capital of Maryland on a Wednesday evening and the mall is mostly deserted.

Note the different expressions--Chris is intent on the next purchase and the next store--and the next stop. I was accused of not showing enough interest in the clothes shopping event for Patrick in advance of him starting his new job on Monday!

Yeah--note Tina's expression. She's really enthused, too.

I was reminded of how much I just "love" to go shopping. I have to say--these two are fun to shop with--the intense one and the jokester!

Me? I'm just trying to find a way to get it over with and get home.

You know, "shop" is a four-letter word. Much like snow and rain and other detestable four-letter words.

Mother and Child

There is nothing more touching, I think, in all of the world than the image of a mother and her newborn infant.

The images are touching because of the hope and promise that are present at the same time in the image.

The hope--that the child grows up strong and healthy and achieves his or her dreams. The hope that the child is happy. Hope that the bond between the family remains strong and provides a solid foundation for this new life to build upon.

The promise--is love. Unconditional, eternal, unsurpassing love. A no "matter what" love that will work to ensure that despite every hurt, every tear, and every cut finger that there is growth and acceptance. This is a love that provides boundaries and discipline to facilitate growth. It is a love that recognizes there will be times when there will be shortcomings and consequences--but through love and understanding, they will get through them all.

So this is Nicole and Lucas--together. At the beginning of a new life--full of hope and promise.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

GOP in the Valley of the Bastion of Socialism?

Hold the presses. Caution--this is a politically motivated blog entry. Reader beware!

Can it really be that the great socialist experiment of cradle to grave entitlement is facing its first challenge--and losing.

Way to go voters of Massachusetts. Vote your mind and realize that we cannot afford the current democratic agenda. The New York Times article, G.O.P. Senate Victory Stuns Democrats is especially enlightening--especially for such a liberal paper.

The first causality may be the health care reform--which, as I understand it we cannot afford. I can't afford it. Once everything is said and done I am convinced that health care for Chris and I will be significantly more expensive and less comprehensive. That is a combination that makes no sense.

It is kind of like when new software or equipment is deployed at work and while it costs a lot and takes a lot to maintain--it doesn't do some of the simple things that the old stuff used to do. I haven't figured that one out yet.

I think that it is somewhat ironic that the seat vacated by the great social health care advocate is the seat that is signaling--we've had enough! It is time to restore a bipartisan approach to governing this great land. The year-long experiment in single party rule of the nation has failed and the voters--"we the people" are making our voices known.

God Bless America!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Baby? He's around here somewhere

Sometimes pictures just need a caption.

The look on Jeremy's face just begged for a caption.

And this one came to mind.

Lot's of crazy things happen in the hospital just before the birth of a child--things can get pretty crazy!
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Musings - January 18, 2010

1. I love holidays and days off from work. They allow me to recharge my batteries.

2. Lucas, my newest grandchild, is cute, is home, and is doing great. Amazingly, last week at this time none of us had any idea that his arrival was so close. Now, he is part of the family.

3. I never realized how jealous dogs are of other dogs. We have been watching Ben, Jeremy's dog and Makayla always works to be closest to me in every situation she can. It is pretty neat to watch.

4. Well the football season unofficially ended. Both the Cowboys and the Ravens lost this weekend. Interestingly, they each scored only 3 points in going down to lop-sided defeats. Just in time for Oriole fan fest! Pitchers and catchers report soon!

5. Haiti is in shambles. I urge everyone to assist in whatever way they can. Our church already has been supporting agencies shipping goods to Haiti with water, baby formula and other supplies.

6. The senate seat election in Massachusetts may provide a barometer of the mood in the country. I didn't realize that that seat had been held by Ted Kennedy since 1962. Tuesday should be an interesting day.

7. The weather has been warmer--and there has been more sun. Maybe we are finally moving into a time of more mild weather. Maybe we can get some outside work done yet this three day weekend--if the rain would just stop.

8. Still looking for a new rim for the Lexus. Who knew it would be so hard to find one?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You are what you eat--proven by science!

You better be careful what you eat!. I recently read a news item about sea slugs who get the ability to produce their own food from the algae they eat.

Yes it is true. Here is a link to the story: Sea slug surprise: It’s half-plant, half-animal

Here is an excerpt from the article:

The sneaky slugs seem to have stolen the genes that enable this skill from algae that they've eaten. With their contraband genes, the slugs can carry out photosynthesis — the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy.

"They can make their energy-containing molecules without having to eat anything," said Sidney Pierce, a biologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

So the phrase-- "You are what you eat" is really true, it seems. The permutations on this are endless.

I have played with sea slugs in the warm Atlantic Ocean waters off Key West. Who knew that such a seemingly passive creature could be so devious?

So next time you want to have one more piece of that high calorie pie--remember the sea slug--you really are (or become) what you eat!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Riding the Bull

Sometimes life can be like bull riding.

Ever think of it that way?

A bull rider only needs to stay on a bull for 8 seconds to win. That seems like a relatively short time. Most of the things we do--the activities of life, are of relatively short duration. Longer than 8 seconds--but still short in comparison to a lifetime of activity.

In the bull riding competition, the bull is trying to get the rider off him as soon as he can using every trick in the book to dismount the rider. The rider is hanging on just trying to stay on the bull.

In terms of relative size--the bull is many times greater than the rider--yet a good rider can actually ride the bull.

I noticed something interesting about bull riding while I attended the Professional Bull Riders Association meet in Baltimore a few weeks ago. Riders are not alone. It takes a team. There is a team of people who assist in getting the rider onto the bull before the ride and then there are some very specialized people who help the rider get out of the ring after he either successfully rides the bull or is dismounted.

Life is like that.

We are the riders hoping to hang on for 8 short (lifetime seemingly long) seconds. Life (the bull) is doing everything in its power to unseat us.

But we hang on. For dear life, we hang on. Better than to be trampled under the feet of the raging bull.

Successful "hangers-on" in life know they are not doing it on their own. They have help--family, neighbors, friends staying on top of the bull of life. Our team helps us prepare for the ride and then either picks us up after we are thrown or celebrates with us if we successfully ride the bull.

To take a snap shot from something that happened recently--Lucas' birth. Although it really was Nicole doing the work, she was supported by her husband and a larger family, and medical staff throughout the pregnancy and birth of Lucas. And from Lucas' perspective--he went from being uniquely bonded with his mother, to being part of a much larger family and it is a family that he will continue to be part of for his whole life.

Wow--I'm riding the bull!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lucas arrives

Well--here are some of the first pictures of Lucas. Above is of course the happy Dad and grandparents.
What more needs to be said.

We call this one--Baby burrito because he looks so happy all wrapped up

Nicole commented as she took the picture--this was a three generational picture.
Wow--who's the old guy?

Ok--here is the shot you've all been waiting for--Lucas Robert, after bath and just about 4 hours old.

They are from Nicole's blog since we didn't really use our camera.
There are a bunch more pictures out there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Luke, I am your father!

These were the first words that Lucas Robert Doan heard from his father (my son, Jeremy).

Born at about 1228pm today, January 14, 2010; Lucas weighed in at 8lbs 13oz and 20 inches long.

We still have not seen him as of 254pm since the birth was cesarean. We have seen pictures, but are still waiting for him to be allowed visitors.

Mom and son and dad are all doing fine. Reportedly.

Grandma, on the other hand, is a wreck. Of course she has been at the hospital since 1130pm last night.

More to follow as pictures are available--although some are already out on Facebook.

Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

What's New?

This past Sunday in church, the pastor suggested during his message that as we meet people this year we should greet them with "What's New?" rather than the more vernacular "hey" or "hi."

More importantly though--if you ask "what's new" you need to hang around and listen to the answer. How often, really, when you are greeting someone do you really want to hang around and hear what they have to say? Really?

So I tried this out this week on an friend who was walking the halls and who I had not seen in sometime.

It was amazing. We had a fairly lengthy discussion about what's new and all of the things going on--in both of our lives.

Suffice it to say, we caught up and know a lot more about each other and are more fully connected because instead of just a casual, "hey" I said "what's new" and then was prepared to discuss it.

Of course the theme of the pastor's message was that we should be prepared to say--why "I'm new," but you know what? If we can improve our personal relationships in this ever increasing impersonal world, then that is good, too.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I don't write much about Jax.

I probably should write more--he is an awesome kid and when I am reminded of how he started his life, I am reminded of our miracle baby who God protected and restored. Who demonstrates, just in the fact that he is living and breathing and playing, that God answers prayer.

Why is it so easy to forget that? Maybe because we see it every day and forget the miracle and the hours of prayer--by so many of our friends and family that accompanied this kid into the operating room at six days old to have his heart replumbed.

But--his blond hair and the way he looks at me always makes me smile. He has a temper--just like me and like throwing a switch he can go from laughing to screaming in mere milliseconds.

The hat he is wearing in the image is one of my favorites--I think it looks a bit like the hats that jester's wear--with the two ends and puffy balls.

His favorite word right now is: play. Which he says in increasing volume and rapidity when pop-pop is too slow getting the DVD to play in the player in the car or on the TV in the house. He knows what he wants. I wish more people knew what they wanted out of life.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

I periodically review images that I have taken because it seems that aside from wondering why I took a particular shot, sometimes I begin to see different things in the images than I remember. Also, sometimes I remember important aspects about what we were doing.

This image, for instance, was a shot in early autumn as Chris and I were walking off the Monticello grounds in the woods back to the visitor center. While it might be considered a throw-away image by many, I remember the day well and why I took the picture of the tree just beginning to be robed in the colors of autumn.

The sun was highlighting the just turning leaves in a bright kind of way. And while the day was warm, it was not hot--like summer in Virginia can be. It was a lovely walk down the mountain to the visitor center in the cool shade of the trees.

I remember the smells of the forest and the rustle of the leaves. And the quiet---because it was quiet. But the smells reminded me of my childhood.

Chris and I talked all the way down the mountain--and commented on how much walking that day reminded us of how we grew up--running around out in the forests of central NY under the canopy of sugar maple trees. Climbing trees and building tree forts. I always thought that the trees were my friends. In fact, I actually mourned the loss of one tree which died while I was growing up--an over 100 foot tall elm tree that stood proudly outside my bedroom succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease when I was a tween. I still remember the school bus drivers asking me where they needed to stop and I would proudly say: "just past the tallest tree you can see." Once that tree was gone--everything seemed so ordinary.

There was another other tree I loved--an old, majestic sugar maple which proudly stood over the backyard of our house and shaded our activities. I had a small dirt pile at its base where I played with my trucks and earth moving equipment. I also fought many WW2 battles there with my green and gray plastic army men and equipment. That tree had a trunk over six feet thick. That tree protected us from storms and provided shade the entire time I grew up. I heard that it has died and been cut down--but my memory of it still remains. And it was magnificent during the autumn!

So I guess that when I see trees, I look at them as friends. We are surrounded in our current house by tulip poplars, honey locust, and black walnut trees that tower over us. During the summer, I love to look into their canopies as see the fire flies shimmering in the night sky. During the winter I look at their bare branches and remember the green leaves of the summers I love so much.

And so this image says to me--in an old familiar way, "hey there, I know your cousins."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Musings - January 11, 2010

1. I wonder if I'm the only person still having trouble writing 2010 instead of 2009.

2. With most all of the Christmas decorations returned to storage for another year (except for the outside lights because it has been too cold to deal with them) the house looks empty and bland. It is amazing how seasonal decorations really spruce up a place.

3. Take two active boys under the age of five, add toys, DVDs, sugar and food and the result is total chaos.

4. We are on baby watch--who knew that unborn babies needed to be watched so closely and by so many people!

5. Football success inspires people to excel. I wonder how many people in the larger Baltimore region are feeling great this morning after their teams won during the playoffs yesterday and Saturday?

6. Below the Fold: "NBC Cancels Leno Show in Primetime" (Washington Post). If I got canceled and removed as many times as Leno has and still had a job, I'd consider it a miracle. I guess the old saying of "mess up and move up" really applies?

7. Did you ever take a picture, really work hard to get it all set up only to wonder later whatever possessed you to take the picture? In that vein, I present an image I have titled--Tulip Poplar Stump at Monticello. What was I thinking?

8. I wonder why it is that we cannot seem to buy a new rim and get the wheel on the Lexus fixed. I guess because it is on the "todo" list.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What if Dogs had Opposable Thumbs?

I was playing with Makayla a few minutes ago and she was mimicking my hand movements with her paws. It led me to wonder--what if dogs had opposable thumbs?

It made me laugh--just think--they could open their own dog food without chewing through the bag.

They could brush their own fur.

They could open door and go in and out on their own.

Put their own leash on--or take it off. And run in packs together?

They could grab your hand when they get tired of playing--or lead when I get confused.

I wonder if they would drive? Could it be worse than some of the drivers we see out there?

So if we extrapolate it all out--would our world be a better place if dogs were in control and we were the pets? Dogs, after all, do not hold grudges and they get most of the information they need about new acquaintances from a friendly sniff.

I don't know how it would all work out--but I think I would enjoy Makayla having an opposable thumb--then she could at least throw the ball back when we played catch.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

10 Things to do on a Too Cold Saturday

1. Complain about the cold

2. Wish I was on a warm beach somewhere (Hawaii?)

3. Look at the snow on the ground and make a snide remark about living too far north

4. Look at the weather map and take some small measure of satisfaction about it being below freezing in Houston

5. Count the days until Spring (71)

6. Curl up next to a warm fire with my dog and a good book

7. Decide not to get out of bed until the temperature outside gets above 50

8. Dream about summer vacation--or better yet, start planning it

9. Surf the internet for a two seat Jaguar XK8 convertible and dream of driving it to Florida during July with the top down so I can get sunburned on my nose and forehead

10. Suck it up and get on with life and be happy that I can get on with life even while complaining about the weather

Guess I need to focus more on my blessings rather than the temperature!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Integrity Lapses End Badly

The Baltimore Mayor is resigning. Despite how she may believe, she committed a crime.

Here's the rub--she gets to keep her pension in excess of $83,000 per year!

I wrote about this in my blog in December in an article titled "Me First -- Of Mayors and Travel. I wrote about the "me first" mentality and the problem associated with our society.

It was reported that when the judge asked Mayor Dixon if she agreed to the guilty plea she responded--"basically." A classic "me first" approach. I am convinced that the mayor believes that the only thing she did wrong, was to get caught! And she's not sorry for the indiscretion. She has totally lost respect for her position and the people of Baltimore, by whom she was elected to serve as their mayor.

Dan Rodericks, in an Op-Ed piece for the Baltimore Sun made the following observation:

And there you are, my fellow citizens - resignation by the mayor of Baltimore, and without a formal apology. But you can't always get what you want. Sheila Dixon was not about to say she was sorry for anything. If you were thinking that might happen, you need to see a doctor; your expectations are too high and you probably need to go on a reduced-Pollyanna diet.

I believe this case highlights the end result of integrity loss. The results, as in this case, are tragic. A competent public official becomes an bad example for others NOT to emulate.

Integrity is something to be valued and protected. It also protects us. Each small integrity lapse begins a journey that can ultimately end in disgrace or compromise.

It can be argued that an $83,000 per year pension is not much punishment for a series of integrity shortcomings (she could of and arguably should have been sent to jail.) However, Mayor Dixon was one of the most powerful political figures in the State of Maryland--and that is lost. Her loss of integrity and the resultant "me first" attitude demonstrate in clear terms the value of protecting integrity and not succumbing to the little indiscretions which make the slide to full integrity loss possible.

Leaders--take heed. Integrity is required for us to be effective. Without integrity, there can be no true leadership.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"To Do" or "Not To Do"?

Ever notice how the "To Do" list grows faster than items are removed from it?

I know mine does. There are a lot of things on my "To Do" list and they seem to languish there for a while as the list grows ever longer.

I ran across a truism about "to do" lists the other day while talking to a co-worker.

It appears, that in my case anyway, the things that go on the "to do" list are the things I don't really want to do--like paint the ceiling or replace the gas tank in the Jaguar. The items I want to do, or that need to be done whether I want to or not, are actually done.

My "to do" list is a parking lot for those things which need to be done, but which aren't critical. I sometimes use lists to map out my daily tasks if I have a bunch of critical things to do--but all of the things on that "to do" list are things which must be accomplished before I either go home from work or before I go to bed at night, else significant consequences will occur.

So in addition to the two items I've already mentioned here are my current "to do's" and a rough length of time the item has been languishing:

1. Clean the garage (waiting 2 years)
2. Build adequate storage in the garage for the junk (waiting two years)
3. Reduce the amount of stuff in the attic (waiting three years)
4. Order a new door handle for my truck (three months so far)
5. Replace/fix the passenger door lock on my truck (two years)
6. Put the winter mats in the Lexus (two months)
7. Stain the deck (one year)
8. Replace the basement door (two years)
9. Fix the family room French door so it closes smoothly (seems like forever)
10. Get the Jaguar a tune up so it starts easier in the cold (three months)
11. Buy Chris a new rim for the Lexus (too long)
12. You get the idea . . .

Now I admit--a few things have made it off the list recently:

1. Paint the kitchen and Family Room ceilings - took two months
2. Fix Nicole's laptop - took two months
3. Fix my laptop - took one month
4. Take down the Snow Village - got done on time on Jan 2

So, it seems, "to do" lists don't work for me. They become parking lots (or possibly auto junk yards) for projects I don't want to tackle.

So in answer to the question--not to do!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sleepless in Elkridge

I had one of those nights--the kind that I hate where I wake up and then cannot get back to sleep.

Last night!

The mind was on once the body was awake.

Why did I wake up? Well the new exercise program that Chris and I are trying really kicked my butt and I have a lot of sore muscles and some cramping. Yeah--it is a killer. Macho me, I thought with all the racquetball I play this would be a breeze--NOT! It hurt and we worked hard--which despite my moaning is exactly what I needed to supplement my racquetball. I could tell that I have not been working all of my muscles from some of my more disappointing racquetball results, and last night's exercise regimen proved it.

If I survive, I'll be better for it. (keep telling myself that)

So I woke up in a bit of pain and then--instant on with the mind. Ugh! I hate that. So I saw 1245 through about 3 AM. I did get to watch the hockey results on the NHL channel and was pleased to find that the Penguins broke out of their losing streak and that the US defeated Canada for the gold medal in the Junior World Hockey Championship. I started watching some of that game earlier in he evening, but turned away from it for the Orange Bowl for some stupid reason.

So now I'll be sedate and exhausted all day! Lucky for my coworkers.

And what do I have to look forward to tonight? Another brutal 20 minute workout!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

And it is out of the gate

And so, the New Year is off and running out of the starting gate.

Having the New Year start on a Friday allows for a three-day weekend meaning the business New Year doesn't really kick in until the 4th--yesterday.

And what a 4th it was.

Coming back after the being off for a week (I worked on December 28th) meant wading through mountains of email and associated nonsense searching for the gems.

It is amazing how many things get put off until later during the "tween" period. The days between Christmas and New Year.

Let's recap the first business day of the year:

the Dow closed up,
the temperature was below normal,
my truck started
I opened a good bottle of wine with dinner
work was crazy as always

all-in-all-- a pretty good start to the year. Hopefully we can keep it going.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Musings - January 4, 2010

1. A personal fan customized for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR), $10;
a straw cowboy hat, $25;
one 4-year old grandson watching the riders and the bulls at the PBR--priceless.

2. Sunday football at the house can be very nerve wracking when some teams are going to make the playoffs and some aren't. Go Ravens! (and cow-pokes, too)

3. During the past week Patrick and I completed repairs on two laptops--Nicole's and mine. Mine needed a new cable for the monitor--which we successfully troubleshot and subsequently procured for $35 and installed . Nicole's hard drive crashed--and we were able to recover all of her essential data and put a new drive in for $54. Total savings--well over $1400 to replace the two laptops! Now that's what I call a Merry Christmas.

4. Returning to work after the Christmas and New Year's holidays is an incredibly difficult thing to do. I am reminded that I "work to live" and not the other way around!

5. In the "closing the barn door after the livestock have escaped" department--TSA and the closer checks of travelers, interesting it takes a near disaster to get people moving forward. I admit I had become comfortable flying again and thought I knew how to expeditiously get through security. Now I have to start all over again.

6. Our New Year's Eve party with close friends was awesome--we began eating and drinking wine at 8PM and finished at 11:30 PM. Why is it that it will take more than 3 and a half hours to lose the weight I gained from that one night?

7. When I see my dog sleeping on the bed in the morning when I get up and she is unwilling to crawl out and join me for breakfast at 5AM, I wish I could live my dog's life.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sherlock Holmes - Movie Review

This movie is worth seeing!

The classic story of Sherlock Holmes takes on new life and excitement as Robert Downey Jr (as Sherlock) and Jude Law (as Dr Watson) display an interaction between actors on the screen similar to that seen between Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

The movie was fun, creative and a joy to watch. The scenes are full of action and depth which draws the viewer more into the movie and the story. Set in London of the 19th century, this is not your tourist view of London. It is the hard working, seeder side of the city and its environs. The action scenes are at the same time thrilling and fun to watch. The movie moves along nicely with few spots where the story drags--although the sotry is a bit complex--as one might suspect of Sherlock Holmes.

Robert Downey Jr is witty and cunning as Holmes. He displays the creative genius of Holmes without being boring or condescending. Jude Law is the perfect straight guy-the supporting cast behind the genius whether it fighting the bad guys or providing support in cleaning up the messes that Holmes gets into.

Visually, the movie is full of life and depth. There is always something deeper in the scenes which is worth seeing and enjoying.

RECOMMENDATION: See this movie. There is action, a bit of violence, but mostly a solid and entertaining story line.

Saturday Night in Baltimore? Whatcha gonna do?

Let's do something different! PBR!

Nope--not the beer, but Professional Bull Riding! the Baltimore Invitational. On a whim, I asked Chris if we should go and take Ethan to the PBR--she said yes and we did.

So our little cowboy experienced bull riding as a sport. And yes--the cowboy hat was added at the arena so he would fit in better with all the other cowboys. Although--he needed assurance that this did not mean he liked the Dallas Cowboys in any way, shape or form.

It was a fun evening watching the bulls and riders compete. It was nationally televised, so we also experienced many, many TV time outs for commercials.

I was surprised at how many other residents of the area--not normally known for its western arts appeal, ventured out on a real cold night to see the riders compete.

It was quite a show--complete with fireworks, and opening prayer and of course the National Anthem. The introduction of the riders was especially loud and accompanied by fireworks.

I was touched by the opening prayer--which asked God to protect the riders and the animals--really a nice touch.

I came away with renewed respect for how long 8 seconds can be--the amount of time a rider needs to stay atop a bull which is doing everything in its power to dismount him!

So our New Year truly has gotten off to a different start--and although only two days old--there still are a lot of new and different things to do.

Although--I was warmed by a sign we passed on the way home.

Spring is only 79 days away! Yee-Haw!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gourmet Shopping?

Sometimes we run across those funny juxtaposed items in life which just cause you to stop and really try to figure out what did they really mean?

On December 30, 2009 Chris and I were in our local Safeway store looking for items to complete our meal which was planned for New Year's Eve and as we were looking for items, I saw the sign for the gourmet market--right above the Tuna Helper!


Tuna Helper has made the realm of gourmet?

I had Chris take a picture of it with her camera just to record it for posterity!

And so, the next decade of the 21st Century dawns with a redefinition of gourmet!

Bon appetite!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010

Sailing into the New Year on Smooth Seas
Happy New Year

I hope and pray that this year is better for you and your family than last year.
That you will receive and recognize blessings beyond your imagination.
That you will find love, companionship, and fulfillment in all you do.
That you will be true to yourself, and to God in your life and your profession and in the decisions that you make every day.
Do not sell or lose your integrity.

May the seas of life be calm for you,
But when the seas are rough, may you be on a big ship firmly in the hand of God
And may you sail on into the future
with hope, and excitement ready for the challenges of the hour, day, week and month as they come knowing that in the end--you are never alone, no matter how lonely you feel and that we have all been there in some form before--so do not isolate yourself from friends and make it a task find a person who used to be a friend--and reconcile with them this year.
My Zimbio
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