Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Musings - Memorial Day May 31, 2010

1. Holiday weekends pass so quickly--and then it is back to the grind of daily living. It is good to have a respite to change up what we are about for a bit.

2. Note to self--wear sunscreen when driving for long periods in a convertible.

3. Flexibility in plans is the key ot a happy life. Don't get so wrapped up in what I thought I was going to be doing that I don't enjoy what I'm doing.

4. The distance between Elkridge and Ithaca varies by over an hour depending upon the time of day and day of weekend of the departure.

5. Confused priorities lie at the bottom of many controversy.

6. And here is a quote of the week for your consideration: "I was also going to give a graduation speech in Arizona this weekend, but with my accent, I was afraid they would try to deport me." -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, ribbing Arizona's new immigration law, in his commencement speech at Emory University in Atlanta.

7. Allowing diversity of thought and opinion is what sets this great Republic apart from so many other places during this time of radical conformism.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bonfire Evening

Last evening we enjoyed a bonfire and smores in Ithaca. The sky was
clear and we sat around watching the night fall while keeping warm
around a bonfire.

We saw a couple shooting stars and a couple satellites as well as
identifying Venus and Mars and Saturn.

We were also treated to the emergence of some fireflys and heard a fox
barking in the nearby field.

And so summer is officially underway.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trev and Cat

We have Cat out for it's first road trip this weekend. I can't begin
to tell you how it pains me to put all of the miles on it, but it sure
is fun to drive.

Trevar thoroughly enjoyed his trip in Cat. Radio up full blast with
the wind in his hair.

Makayla enjoyed riding with the top down, too. She was leaning ony
shoulder with her nose just below the windshield cruising down the

So far it has been a great holiday weekend. Still haven't made it to a
floatie in the pool with a beer in my hand--but I will.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer Pool Fun

It finally happened on Wednesday evening before I went to see the Orioles lose (again).

I made my initial entry into the pool for the 2010 Summer Season!!!!

Yup, I braved the chill and hits the surf, so to speak.

I had just finished brushing Makayla (outside) and it was really warm and i was hot and sweaty. A perfect time to check out the pool--

And I did.

It was awesome! So awesome that I grabbed a floatie and took a nap for about 30 minutes.

Yes, it's baaaaaaaack!

Since I was heading off to an Orioles game, I left the beer in the fridge, but clear water, the light smell of chlorine in the afternoon and lying on a floatie in the pool listening to the birds play in the trees.

It doesn't get much better than that!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Well--even though astronomically it hasn't happened yet and won't happen for another almost four weeks--the official start of Summer is here!

Yup--Memorial Day.

Break out the pools, the grills, the bikes, the Summer fun equipment because we are gonna have a party.

Memorial Day, although with somber beginnings, has become the start of the Summer season. Many municipal pools open on this weekend--and around here they should be fairly cold given the weather we have been having right up until this week.

A lot of people have forgotten the reason that Memorial (or Decoration) Day was established. Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 31 in 2010). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I.

And so from this somber remembrance, we also enjoy the start of a summertime season that includes Independence Day and ends on Labor Day in early September. More than 92 days of heat, travel, vacationing, and sunburn.

Take a moment though on Monday, to remember our fallen heroes--the men and women of the military services from all of America's wars who died while in service to this great Republic.

I will be traveling--so I am sure to enjoy spending time with family and friends this weekend. We are going to do a test run with Cat--to see if we really want to pack ourselves into the car for a long ride to Florida in July. I wonder how Makayla will do riding with the top down?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't be Afraid

I'm going to circle around to the Monday Musing today and explore that phrase I learned on Friday night:

"The entire world is a narrow bridge, but the main thing is not to fear" - Rabbi Nachman of Bretzslav.

Fear is after all the one thing that really paralyzes us when we let it.

These words by the Rabbi are similar to those of Jesus when he said:

Do not let your hearts be distressed. - John 14:1 NET Bible

The exhortations to "not be afraid" or "do not be afraid" are rampant throughout the Bible--and it is good advice. Hard to do, but good advice.

When I get paralyzed by fear, I am not only hopeless, but I am helpless. I become unable to act or react properly to the situation.

Yet, if I can hang onto my wits just a bit--I can react. And in the face of overwhelming odds, there is only one way not to be paralyzed by fear--and that is to trust in the Lord, who is bigger than any obstacle.

So the Rabbi had it right--the world is a narrow bridge which seems too narrow to cross if we actually look at the bridge. I've noticed that when I am trying to walk on a line or even a curb that if I look down at it, I lose balance. I find I need to keep my eyes up and looking forward and then I can easily follow the line or the curb without losing my balance.

Now imagine a narrow path over the world which is far below--looking down, I would get vertigo and be afraid of falling--but if I keep my eye on the horizon--I don't notice how far up above the world the bridge is and I am not afraid.

The Royal Gorge in Colorado is a great demonstration of this principle. The bridge is 955 feet above the Arkansas River--and if you don't think that is a long way down--you have never been there. But don't look down--and you won't be afraid.

That's the thing about fear--don't look at the object of the hear, but look above or around it.

So on the narrow bridge of life--do not be afraid--don't look down; look up.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oil and Politics: Food for Thought

I heard something pretty unbelievable the other day--and while it was true, the context needed to be wrapped around it a little.

I heard that of all the senators in the past 20 years, Obama while he was a senator received the most in campaign contributions from BP Oil.

While this is true--here is the context.

"During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records."
Now, does receiving $77,000 while in the Senate contribute to a lax response against BP in the oil spill follies? I'm not sure. But if you read the article, BP spends a lot of money contributing to the political leadership of our country. In fact the article says $3.5 million. Obama received about 2% of those donations. When compared to $3.5 million, is $77,000 really that much?
It is a bit hard to conceive--that the candidates accept money from all of these interest groups and are not expected to provide anything in return. Really? Really?
So here is where I wind up--yeah the statement is true, he did receive the most--but in the overall scheme, is it really that much? Slinging the fact around without the context makes it sound much worse than it is.
The bigger issue is--who got the remainder of the $3.5 million and is that why BP can take its time to clean up the mess while an ecological disaster continues virtually unchecked? Are all of our politicians on the dole from the oil lobby?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Musings - May 24, 2010

1. May has surely rocketed by--Memorial Day weekend is coming and I still haven't been brave enough to get into the pool. It has been too cold.

2. It was a graduation weekend--we spent time celebrating the achievements of a very special woman who is bound for grad school and ultimately who knows what. Go Danielle!

3. And the wedding approaches!

4. The guys survived the bachelor party--so one hurdle is crossed, next up? Rehearsal dinner in less than four weeks.

5. I wonder what the deer in my back yard was thinking last evening as I came around the side of the house with Makayla (fortunately) on a leash. But she didn't move--until we walked closer and then she just went into the woods with her traveling bud. Who both stood there until I actually crossed from the yard into the woods.

6. The wrens are back and furiously building a nest, again, in my portable heater.

7. I have a very big presentation today. I don't sleep well the night before big events--presentations, traveling, weddings. Maybe I need to be a bit sleep deprived to be on my toes.

8. The Orioles lost again. Not unusual for this season.

9. Yesterday was a two car battery day. I was able to save and recharge Jeremy's car battery; but had to replace Chris' battery. It had five years on it anyway. Batteries are getting expensive.
10. So if I buy water front property on the Gulf Coast will I be able to open an oil refinery on my beach?

11. I learned something uplifting at Shabbos on Friday night: "The Entire World is a Narrow Bridge, But the Main Thing is Not to Fear" - Rabbi Nachman of Bretzslav. We sang a song with those words and they stuck with me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Afternoon with the Bride and Groom

Chris and Tina Selecting Linen

We spent and thoroughly enjoyable early afternoon yesterday with the Bride and Groom finishing up some of the last items in advance of the wedding.

We were able to sample the food and drink which will be served at the reception and spend some absolutely awesome quality time with the two of them and were able to offer some prospective on the decisions they were making.

We were also able to get another view of the reception hall--I decided I want to make it my living room. The views of the harbor are stunning. I was reminded of how awesome a location they selected for their wedding and that as the day finally dawns, it is going to be one filled with enjoyment and celebration.

Patrick Gaining Perspective
Our lives get so busy sometimes that we do not get spend quality "alone" time with the couples very often and so it is especially meaningful when we do. Yesterday was that couple on couple alone time that is especially special when it happens. Where we experience each other on a very personal level and all come away better for the experience.

Patrick was playing with a new camera lens--and so he was experiencing the whole idea of perspective--it was fun to watch him and he took some really interesting pictures--including of the table napkins.

And the hours slipped by so quickly. I am always awed by how quickly time passes when I am engaged in something interesting and enjoyable. Of course we ate the entire time, but we talked and had a lovely time meeting the wedding coordinator and getting a couple more things accomplished in preparation for the coming celebration.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kids, Dogs and Tee-Ball Saturdays

So how many adults does it take to go to an late-morning Tee-ball game?

That depends upon what is being dragged along.

Last Saturday Chris and I were watching Jax and Ethan while their parents were out of town. And one of our tasks was to get E to get his tee-ball team picture taken at 9:40 am followed by his game at 10:30 am.

Sounds easy, right?

Hold on there tenderfoot!

It all went smoothly at the house--breakfast, dressing for the game, getting ready to go. But then a moment of panic set in. The dogs! Yes, Makayla and Flo(rence) usually accompany us to the games, too.

And somewhere in there we realized we didn't have a clue where the field was that pictures were being taken. Of course it was not the same field or even complex where the game was being played.

Another level of complexity just asking to be part of the mix.

I could see it now--two dogs, two children and two adults. It just did not add up.

And fortunately, we did the math before we left the house.

I determined, through an intuitive grasp of the obvious, that each child AND each animal required one adult for proper supervision. As there were two adults in this parade, two of something had to remain behind. Since at least one child was necessary--he was the participant in the activities and the other requires constant supervision; it was determined that the dogs would remain behind.

Both Chris and I did the math one more time, because really, we would have enjoyed the dogs.

But, as it turned out we both agreed on the answer and the dogs did not accompany us.

Which was a real good thing. Mass pandemonium ensued at the picture stop and not having dogs to amuse allowed us to amuse Jax at the game.

And so the answer to the question is:

One adult is required per kid or dog in attendance.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Home Projects--the Blood Factor

In a continuation of the pool lighting project, I discovered some truths about home projects.

1. They never are as easy as they seem

2. Flexibility in the plan will result in a successful completion of the project

3. Don't skimp on quality--even though its yours, well, its yours.

4. Blood must be spilled for the project to be successful.

It all seemed so easy to just continue the lighting project along the fence line. Until, of course, I actually tried it. The strands needed to go over top of an entrance gate and of course that doesn't work.


The easy approach would not work. A creative approach was needed.

The clock was ticking--a project that should have taken no more than an hour was now becoming an all day event.

At least the sun was warm.

Aha--run the lights along the main lower beam of the deck so they almost completely encircle the pool area!

And now more lights were needed so off to Lowe's. At least I got to drive Cat with the top down. That really made it all better.

The project now requires a ladder, a drill, and screwdrivers to put the clips which hold the lights into the wood. On the fenceline I was using cable ties, which although small actually were fairly easy to use one the tricks of installing them were discovered.

And blood--the requisite factor to ensure a successful project which occurred on the first clip and the screwdriver bit slipped off the cheap screw head and into my finger. This caused me to reassess the ability to just screw into the wood and now added another layer of complexity by needing pilot holes.

By now night is falling. I get my flood lights because I want to get this done to surprise Chris.

And then--the big stopper--somehow at Lowe's I had purchased a 24 foot long strand of blue and not clear lights.

I'm not going back to Lowe's tonight. I'll put up the other lights and exchange the blue for clear in the morning.

And that is exactly what happened. The lights were exchanged and the project finished in the daylight of the new day. Did I mention that the timer I was going to use didn't work?

No? Well that is a story for another day--but it is all up and running now and even got the Chris approves seal of satisfaction!

I love home projects. Really, really I do.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our Yorkie, Zachary Taylor-- A Rememberance

We did one of those real tough things last night--but something that was done out of love.

Our beloved Yorkie, Zachary Taylor had reached the end of his string. Quality of life was gone and he was just hanging on waiting for the end.

He was done and we could tell, so instead of waiting for him to suffer some kind of traumatic demise associated with pain and being uncomfortable we assisted him into peaceful rest.

And so we mourn the loss of Zach--who has been a faithful member of our family for the past almost 17 years. There is a spot waiting for his ashes on the shelf with our other faithful family members Hans and Meghan. He is the last of the gang of three that accompanied us 15 years ago as we moved from Pittsburgh to Maryland.

He had earned the names "auxiliary dog" and "skid mark in the tire track of life" due to his diminutive stature. He was nearly killed one day over twelve years ago when he was attacked by a Chesapeake bay retriever--but his tenacity overcame the size disadvantage of 4 lbs vs over 100 lbs; he defied the odds and lived.

He was a faithful companion to Chris for 16 and a half years.

His passing leaves a hole in our hearts and many tears in our eyes (like right now as I try to write this), but the memory of him is filled with joy and laughter.

You were a faithful friend and you are missed. Bye Zachary.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Orioles Baseball and Ethan

Ethan is a huge fan of Number 21, Nick Markakis--the right fielder for the Orioles.

Friday night I took Ethan to the Yards (as Oriole Park at Camden Yards is referred) to see Nick and the rest of the Birds.

It was going to be a great Poppop-Ethan bonding experience. One of our first outings alone in what I hope will be many more over the course of Ethan's lifetime.

Everything started out great. We escaped the pandemonium of the house where Chris and I were watching "the boys." They may also someday be called the "gang of two" or the "Haslup Band of Brothers" the way they work together.

Ethan was thrilled to be riding in my truck--since there is no backseat, he gets to ride in the front seat in his car seat. This is a treat for him and for me. And we were going to see the O's--so much the better.

The weather, as we were driving to the Park was fabulous. Breezy, cloudy and not too hot. This continued until we actually got into the park--where almost like the flood of Noah's days, it began to rain and storm complete with thunder and lightening. Rain delay. Words that strike fear into every baseball fan's heart. You never know how long it will last.

But no problem. We met up with Uncle Jer and his friends and hung out while eating pizza and drinking lemonade that Ethan reported tasted like water. I sampled it and agreed, the beer I was drinking was a whole lot better tasting. We were in a small bar area keeping dry and having fun with the other fans.

And then the rain stopped. We watched on the monitors around the stadium and saw they began to remove the tarps from the field and begin to get ready to play.

So Ethan and I started heading out to our seats.

And then it happened as we were walking.

"Poppop? I have a tummy ache. I want to go home." Complete with a tear. I could tell he didn't want to say this to me.

"Really?" I responded. "Is it bad enough to go home?"

"Ethan looked at me with his ever so cute eyes which were very big and sad and said "Yes."

This began a conversation which also led to a trip to the rest room to try to relieve the pressure all ending with the same, "it still hurts, I want to go home."

I explained to my young baseball fan that once we left the stadium, we could not return so he needed to be sure about going home. And he said that he was.

So we began the process of descending from the third deck of the stadium to ground level. Upon reaching the ground and nearing the exit gate, I asked again about the tummy ache and reminded him that we could not return once we went out the gate. He assured me that he needed/wanted to go home. And so we left the park.

The finality of that action descended upon my five-year old grandson about twenty steps outside the gate: "I won't get to see Nick Markakis tonight." And I reminded him that we could not return to the park.

The walk to the car was a long one--and very quiet as I am sure Ethan wrestled with his decision and I wondered--well, let's just say I wondered.

I think Ethan sensed I was not happy--although I tried in my usually ineffective way not to show it. But, I rationalized, he said he needed/wanted to go home and that is where he needed to be. So we went home.

I still made a memory and had a memory.

And so, in the spirit of those great commercials:

Pizza at the ball game: $23;
tickets to see the O's: $40;
spending time with your oldest grandson: priceless?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Iron Man 2: A Review

I went to see the much anticipated Iron Man 2 on Sunday afternoon.

Here's the short version: good movie, I thought the story line was stronger in the first movie, but the sequel was a thrill to watch.

The Story: Iron Man becomes a household word and the self-appointed protector of the country. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is synonymous with Iron Man. A particular senator (how true is this) is not happy that Iron Man is on the job and wants to secure the Iron Man "weapon" for the United States. Of course, he wants to militarize it and there is a lot of intrigue associated with this and of course the obligatory Senate Committee is involved. But, there are a couple of evil characters who provide the spice for the movie--when sparks are not flashing between Tony Stark and his assistant/aide/part-time love/future CEO of Stark Industries: Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

The movie is a bit long, and the five-year old I went with found some of the non-action scenes a bit boring. But, the story line development was excellent. And needed.

The acting is great. I thought Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow reprised their roles in admirable fashion with strong believable performances. In addition newcomers to the script Scarlette Johansson who played Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff, Sam Rockwell who played Justin Hammer a villan, Mickey Rourke who played Ivan Vanko an especially nasty villan, Don Cheadle who took over the role of LtCol James "Rhodey" Rhodes all did great jobs and were very strong and believable. One of my favorites was Samuel L. Jackson who reprised his role as Nick Fury (from the trailer on the first Iron Man) and was especially fun to watch.

I was saddened that Terrance Howard did not reprise his role as Rhodey from the original Iron Man--but sometimes change is a good thing. Once I got used to Don Cheadle--it all worked for me.

The mix of action and story was good for adults. There are a lot of double entendre jokes and quips which make the movie just a bit more interesting. The interplay between Tony Stark and Pepper continues to be one of the highlights of the movie and provides a unifying theme.

RECOMMENDATION: See this movie. It is worth the time and the money. It won't win an academy award, but the thrill is back. And if you saw the first one--you will enjoy this one just as much.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Musings - May 17, 2010

1. Five-year olds and major league baseball make for an interesting mix--the unexpected always happens.

2. Glorious weekends make me wish that would never end.

3. Sitting around the table near the pool on a cool but enjoyable evening with family listening to the sounds of the animals in the forested area near us is one of the reasons we live where we do.

4. Watching Iron Man 2 on Sunday afternoon with the same five-year old grandson (Ethan) I took to the ballgame on Friday night, was an awesome way to close out the weekend.

5. Finding a car wash that is three dollars less expensive ($4 less with a fill up and the gas was $.02 less per gallon) than the one in Elkridge was one of the highlights of my weekend. Cat, my XK8, doesn't like to be dirty. That could be an issue as the summer progresses.

6. Summer vacation is coming. I can feel it. It is only two months away. Yup--July is only two months away!!

7. It isn't hot yet!

8. And the second swimmer of the year for the pool is none other than Louis, the cat. He fell in trying to get a drink. it was pretty funny actually he fell onto a step. It is true what they say about being "mad as a wet cat."

9. I got my electric bill the other day--I love this weather! Take that BGE!

10. And so another week begins.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jackson--Update and Frustration

Bring him right in we need to admit him immediately at 8:30 pm in infectious disease.

And so a two-day ordeal began for Jax (and his mother and father and the rest of the clan) as he became a representation of a human pin cushion.

Lot's of doctors and poking and prodding looking for something related to his frequent fevers.

But no answers.

And lots of tests confirming things he doesn't have--like really bad things we are really happy he doesn't have like leukemia. TB, DiGeorge syndrome and a bunch of other things.

But there was no Dr. House running in with the ultimate solution. In the end, he was released and they said he has a low functioning immune system, with some defects in some of his T-cells.

OK--that is great news!

It doesn't seem like it--but it really is great news. But our little hero was subjected to some horrific tests and blood draws. And of course doctors coming in at really weird hours of the night while he was trying to sleep.

And of course there will be more testing. Sometime.

The good news is that I spend a lot of yesterday with him--and he seems no worse for the wear.

I was humbled by the responses from my friends for prayers and I believe I can report that the prayers were answered.

Thank you all for your support to our little guy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Wonder Why These Things Continue to Happen

I read a terribly sad news story yesterday about a very cute four-year old boy who was brutally murdered by his step-father with the acquiescence of his mother.

Read the story at the link Ethan Stacy or here.

I was totally disgusted with the entire occurrence--especially how the mother went to marry her son's killer and kept the kid locked in a room at home because he was too disfigured to go out in public. And she took pictures of him on her cell phone.

And why was Ethan with his mother to begin with? Because the courts demanded she be allowed visitation over the protestations of his father who has custody--but could not protect young Ethan from his mother.

Why do people do these things?

Maybe I'm just very sensitive this week having been able to spend time with our own Ethan and watching Nicole and Jackson go through such horrific testing in the hospital. We are working out of love to protect and nurture our children and grandchildren.

Isn't that the way it should be?

This situation just sickens me and reminds me in no uncertain terms of the depravity in our world today that we must consistently be aware of.

Pray for all of those involved in this situation and especially for the father.

Then find and hug your kid/grandkid and/or loved one and make a promise to protect them against the deepening depravity in this world.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And That's how They Fall

Sports represents life.

You never really know how things are going to end and unless you actually play it out, you can only wonder at the outcome.

On paper--it may look like a certain outcome is all but assured; but when it all actually plays out something very different may be the result.

For instance, the NHL playoffs and the series between Montreal and Pittsburgh. Clearly, on paper the defending Stanley Cup Champions were the better more balanced team. But last night, Montreal proved that anything can happen during a seven game series and ushered the Penguins from the playoffs and off to an early Spring break. I was stunned. The Pens lost last night, 5-2 in the deciding game seven of their series.

Similarly, the Orioles, who have reached new levels of ineptitude this season ruffled their feathers a bit and actually won a game--with a combination of both good pitching and timely hitting. Both something that have not occurred simultaneously very much at all this season. As a result, the O's crawled over the Seattle Mariners to win 5-2. The O's now have 10 wins for the season--the fewest in the entire of major league baseball, but only one game less than their traditional rival for the worst team in baseball, Kansas City.

Two games in different sports ending with the same score with similar implications: the underdog won. While I would have hoped the Pens would have won and continued on to the Stanley Cup again this year--that is why the games have to be played and we don't use computer simulations.

Life is like that. No matter how much an underdog we believe we are--we need to play it out and do our best. Why? Because we may just surprise not only ourselves but those around us. And if the score ends in our favor--great; and if it doesn't, well at least we took the risk and tried.

I believe that half of winning in life is trying to convince the other side not to play. And so the odds are really in our favor when we walk onto what ever field it is we are asked to play on--be it the board room, or the briefing room, or the sales room, or the squad room.

It really only matters that we showed up, tried out and gave it our best.

Just like in sports--underdogs do win in life. But---

you have to play to win!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jax-Prayers Needed

I am putting this into my blog for all of you who follow my family. One of us needs your support--our little miracle baby is in need of another miracle.

What follows is the note from my daughter, Nicole about Jax:

I am a bit uncomfortable sending this out, but here goes. Jax has been having some ongoing health issues that have now required him to be admitted to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore for some tests. He is not super sick at this time, but as you can imagine this has been a very difficult time for our family and espeically Jax.
If you could please keep us in your prayers, specifically that we find some answers we would greatly appreciate it.
You can stay updated with what's going on via my twitter updates which I have on the right side bar of our family blog

Thank you!

Rain Delay

Nature provided a means of respite from the mini-projects last evening.

The unseasonable cold and rain precluded attacking the many projects on the list before the big day arrives in June.

But not to worry--they will all get accomplished.

It was kinda good that it rained last evening since I had a racquetball match and really couldn't devote my attention to any but the most menial of the tasks.

Writing of rain delays, the O's sure could have used one last night losing to the Mariners 5-1. Ugh. Is every team in baseball going to use the O's to get well? Except for maybe Boston which has a losing record against them this year-- 2-4.

Well, Friday night I'll be off on my own to witness yet again the "agony of defeat."

It is supposed to be warmer and a bit drier today cruising in to the end of the week. Maybe more will get done. But who knows. Life has a way of happening while we are busy making plans.

I heard that somewhere.

And here is the quote of the day:

The conception of two people living together for twenty-five years without having a cross word suggests a lack of spirit only to be admired in sheep. - Alan Patrick Herbert

I guess since we are getting ready for a wedding, this one resonated with me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lights Around the Pool

Well it is crunch time at the house.

Why, you ask?

We are in party mode!

Wedding in about 37 days--not actually at the house, but festivities and guests will be at the hacienda, as I sometimes refer to it, and so actions must be taken to be taken to spruce it up.

Call it more than Spring cleaning and routine maintenance--I have those actions too--like fixing the Winter damage to the pool and changing filters in the heating/cooling system (which I did last night, BTW).

No--now we have the upgrades--the little projects that make and transform the house form a home into a B&B.

Hosting events always gets those little upgrades done--and it really makes the house look better at the same time.

So the little upgrades include adding a fountain to the pool--all of the materials to complete this task are in hand; and adding lights around the fence line of the pool to make it nicer at night. Forget that we will be hosting the events during the Summer solstice period when the daylight is the longest and it doesn't get dark until after 9:30 pm (at which time I usually turn into a pumpkin anyway).

I actually got half of the new lighting installed last evening and I must say--it creates an interesting ambiance.

If only there were a way to get rid of the mosquitoes!

We have some bats--maybe we can import bigger bats from South America! No, some of the guests might get "creeped" out when they start dive bombing the pool for water--which is really cool to watch in the evening light.

I guess I will destroy the ecosystem and start spraying toxins into the environment to control those little blood-suckers during the festivities.

Bring it on though! Although it is work--the house really looks good after we get these little upgrades done.

Project one is 50 percent complete--lights around the pool. Next up--the fountain, which has been on my list for about five years (see my blog about lists). After that--it is anybody's guess (but Chris's decision)

Oh yeah, did I tell you, that as the time draws closer the list will grow exponentially?

Well, let me get the first one done and then I'll tackle the next one up until I get as many accomplished as I can.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Musings - May 10, 2010

1. In life, it is important to take time out to remember special people and events. This weekend we did both--remembered Mothers and also celebrated the 65th Anniversary of winning the World War II in Europe during 1945--also known as V-E Day.

2. Someone always has more toys than you do. Be happy where you are and don't throw sand in the sandbox because friends are more important than things.

3. Someone is always worse off than you are--help them!

4. Be in the moment--or you will miss life's small enjoyments.

5. Celebrate the small victories and then, when larger victories occur they will be more appreciated.

6. Quote of the week, from Ethan while examining the pool on Sunday: "It's not too cold for me, Poppop!"

7. And the first swimmer of the nascent pool season was Florence--Nicole's Italian greyhound. Apparently, although no one actually saw it happen but we surmise from where she was in the pool when we heard the splash, she jumped/fell off the diving board. She was quickly rescued and no harm done.

8. It was very cold this weekend--amazingly cold for this time of year. The cold made me really appreciate the week I spent in Tampa.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

What a great idea--a day to honor Mothers.

I wonder if the people who came up with the concept had any idea what it would grow into in terms of economic impact and stress on the communications companies.

Or on husbands who strive to make their wives (and the Mother of their children) feel special and honored.

It's more than a card and a quick gift. And it is more than breakfast in bed.

It is something that should carry on beyond the day and into the weeks ahead as we remember all of the things that our wives do to make our lives easier and continue to care for our children even into their (the children's) adult years.

And so we gathered around the table today--with three mothers present and celebrated that special bond between Mom and kid.

We are all somebody's children--and call someone Mom.

What a great day to take time to thank them for all of the sacrifice and tears and support and sitting up through the sickness-filled nights making us feel better. I remember when I was a child, I would get terrible ear aches. And Mom would be there to warm my ear--I won't say how because I'm sure some agency would get their nose out of joint, but she held me and made me feel better through the pain.

Thanks Mom--

I love you and wouldn't be who I am today without your love and support.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hidden in Plain Sight

As I was walking around Fort Desoto Beach Park on Monday, I spied this
big egret standing behind a palm tree. Mow I thought that as I got
closer, he would fly away. But no. It just stood there not moving.

I got pretty close and took a couple of pictures. The bird was so
white against the green backdrop.

But it never moved. I almost thought that it was trying to be an

I saw the bird on my way to the beach. It was still there when I left
about an hour later.

Stamina. That's what it was.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sunrise Over Tampa

Out my hotel window this morning o was greeted by my old friend intent
on waking me.

Have I said how much I love my iPhone and it's camera? I do!

And so now I'm waiting for my flight home wishing I never had to leave
because I hear the weather this weekend in Baltimore is going to be
less than ideal.

Surprisingly, the airport is dead. I cannot believe how quiet it is at
noon on a Friday.

But, that is the way it is sometimes. I can relax and enjoy the

Pool Opening

Last Saturday we opened the pool. It is not swim-ready--but we are getting it stabilized and ready for the swimming and party season ahead.

It is always such a job to get the pool up and running--and Chris and I have gotten it down pretty well. I had the pump already running before we even thought about opening the pool--and that made the process so much easier.

So the cover is put away and the chairs are around the pool deck waiting for all of the sun worshipers in our family to come and enjoy the warm rays.

The place just cries out for heat, summer, beer, tunes on the stereo and sleeping on a floatie in the pool.

Yet the water is a shocking 5o-something degrees as it waits for the sun to add its warmth to the party in waiting.

Memorial Day is on the way and then the pool season will be in full swing--we can barely wait.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Perspective on the Oil Disaster--A Rant!

I like my cars.

I like cheap (less than $3.00 per gallon) gas prices.

My lifestyle will have to radically be altered if either of those go away.

Hello. I cannot believe the naivety of some public and private officials that an accident like the one in the Gulf would never happen. Everyone is screaming for heads on a platter--but it really is their own heads they are trying to save.

In every endeavor there is risk.

From walking across a street, to flying the space shuttle, to drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, there is risk. We can seek to minimize the risk--and in the case of oil drilling it has been pretty safe for a very long time, but the risk is still there and sometime the risk will become reality. As has happened now.

And so many officials are trying to plead ignorance and "close the proverbial barn door after the horses have escaped."


"Buck up" dudes. Say it like it is--Americans like cheap oil and our economy depends upon cheap oil and therefore we will be undertaking riskier operations to obtain the oil that all of us as Americans want.

It is that simple. We want to be green someday--but we are not there yet. Until then we have to recognize that oil drilling operations have a level of risk. Suck it up. Wringing our hands about it after the fact is disingenuous.

Oil spills happen and they are a disaster. Tornadoes happen and they are a disaster. Hurricanes happen and they are a disaster. The snowpocalypse happened--and we cleaned it up and lived.

Disasters are not pretty. Look at the Chinese ship that recently ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef--it too was a disaster.

But this is the bottom line. Until the US Government subsidizes significant research into alternate, sustainable fuels we are going to be oil junkies. This should not be a shock to anyone. It is a fact of life. I want my house cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and when I turn the key in the ignition switch of my car, I expect it to start. I do not have a hydrogen fuel cell--although I would like one. We are not using deuterium for fuel yet. Some day.

Right now--we are dependent upon the dinosaurs and the forests of millions of years ago to fuel our economy. Get over it. All of the easy oil (like what used to be in Pennsylvania) is gone. The US used to be the largest producer of oil in the world and a net exporter. That too, is gone.

We need oil. We need to be realistic about the risk and accept that, too. So when the leaders of the companies and the Congress try to deflect the blame--look them straight in the eye and ask them--why do you have to lie. You knew there was risk, you were just betting the odds that you wouldn't have to be the one to deal with the consequences. Now go face the problem and deal with it.

And then vote them out of office for being disingenuous.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Immigration and Citizenship

OK--I'm going to tackle the Arizona Immigration Law and probably in my usual way get half of my friends afraid to talk to me and the other half agreeing with me but wondering why?

It is clear to me that this law indicates we've lost it.

Yup--totally lost any concept of personal freedom and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution which protects us from unreasonable search and seizure.

Let me remind you of those simple and direct words of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

While I believe the Arizona law will ultimately be found to be unconstitutional, I am very concerned about the mood in the country which so quickly gives away our basic rights as Americans believing that it is OK--in this case to do so. It moves the line ever so much closer to a totalitarian state.

I read what I believe is the law as it was adopter. Read it here Arizona Senate Bill 1070. There is a lot that is good and right with the law--it enforces federal code and law. But, here is the rub with the Fourth Amendment:

Article 8 Section E:


This allows the officer to without warrant ask people (whom do you suspect they will be asking) to prove they are lawfully in the U.S.

I remember when I was growing up--driver's licenses in the State of NY did not even have pictures on them. Theoretically, the only way to prove you were an American was by not having any papers to prove you were.

What about the jogger? Do they now need to have proof on them at all times else risk being arrested? Sure, they should be able to prove they are legal, but that, friends, is unreasonable search and seizure.

The Arizona law goes on--and here is another huge error--


The Constitution of the United States applies to everyone who is in the United States. It does not matter whether or how they or we are in the Country--there are protections.

Why do I care?

Simply, I have spent my whole adult life working, serving, and protecting this country and those who reside here.

The oath I took when I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force goes like this:

I, (state your name), having been appointed a (rank) in the United States (branch of service), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God.

When I became a federal employee, now 12 years ago, I took another oath, very similar which is as follows:

" I, (state name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.''

And so--now you know--I am a defender of the Constitution of the United States. Perhaps the greatest document ever created by man to govern men.

I have sworn to protect our basic freedoms, and yes, I am a renegade civil libertarian. When I see that we are rationalizing the loss of basic freedoms--I become concerned.

Is there a problem. You bet there is. Freedoms lost can never be regained.

Let's work to enforce the laws while protecting the freedoms that our forefathers, and fathers, and brothers and sisters have shed blood and died to give to us. It is the legacy which is the United States of America!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Florida, Tampa and the Beach

Well--you knew I would. I had been in town less than 12 hours and I already made my way to the Number 1 ranked beach in North America for 2005.

Fort Desoto beach in St Petersburg.

It was a longish drive in the afternoon--but I went looking for sea shells for Chris and all I found were pieces of sand dollars.

The beach area is very large and it is so pretty--especially mostly deserted on a Monday afternoon.

The drive is long from where I am staying--so I know I won't be going back--but it surely was worth the effort to get my beach fix for the week and to dip my toes into the Gulf.

The sun was still hot--even at almost 5PM.

Wow--but it was beautiful and so was the drive to get here over the bay.


I can't wait until July to get back to the beach on a daily basis.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Musings - May 3, 2010

1. Summer tugged at my heart this weekend with temperatures near 90 and
bright sun on Saturday.

2. The pool is open. It's green, but open. Not swimable just yet though.

3. I just want to make a note that the Orioles swept the Red Sox this
weekend and that with the four wins against the Sox already this
season they have doubled their win total against them from all of last

4. Today has dawned rainy and warm. We need the rain to continue the
strong start of the season and keep the green coming.

5. I'm off to Tampa for the week. I've never been to Tampa before.
Hopefully I will ejnoy the place and the conference will not be too

6. Makayla had a overnight with Ben the other night. That is pretty
funny if you think about it. Dogs having overnights.

7. I realized that one of my favorite country song titles is "Tequila
makes her clothes fall off" although I have never seen it happen.

8. Why do they still explain how to use seat belt on airplanes?

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Grandparents Day at Ethan's School

Friday was one of those incredibly busy days. Despite being underwater with work related activities, there were also family related activities which required attention. That would be Grandparents Day at Ethan's pre-school.

OK--so let me ask you--when was the last time you played freeze tag? How about freeze tag with about 20 five-year olds?

And while doing that and being part pf Ethan's day, also served as a surrogate grandfather for Matt--one of the kids in Ethan's class whose grandparents are out of the region?

Ethan was thrilled that all of his grandparents were present--elated would be a better word. We sang songs, and did crafts and had snack and recess--to include the no holds barred game of Freeze Tag. Who knew 30 minutes could be so long. And why was it that I was only on of two grandparents playing tag? The other of course was Chris.

Perspective--despite missing a really important session at work--attending grandparents day was by far the most important activity of the day! Ethan will remember that far longer than anyone at work will have missed me.
My Zimbio
Top Stories