Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Rain

I could not believe the weather report the other afternoon.

Six (yes: 6) inches of rain was expected in some areas. Coincidentally, that is the exact number of inches we are below average for the year. But trying to make it all up in one storm was a bit extreme.

Well the rains came--as predicted--and they kept coming--even beyond the intiial expecatations.

Plans changed. Baseball games were rescheduled.

And the rains came causing traffic tie ups and accidents. The rains caused flooding and all sorts of biblical oriented travails.

But the rain kept falling.

Not for forty days and nights--thankfully.

But the rains came and the floods rose and the cars stalled.

I just wish I didn't have to go to work!

Butterflies and Miners

I read an interesting story in the news the other day about a hwite butterfly saving the lives of two miners in the Chile mining disaster.

Ready the story at Did a butterfly save two miners' lives in Chile?

It is pretty interesting--albeit a bit confusing.

the article begins as follows:

In Chile's dry Atacama desert, folklore mixes with superstition and superstition blends with religion.
Scorching days give way to cold, foggy nights.
In the tent village christened "Camp Hope," at the gates of the San Jose mine complex, close-knit miners' families huddle together and light a fire.
They tell tales in the glow of red-hot embers. And the one everyone wants to hear these past few nights is an almost supernatural tale about the miner and the white butterfly.

I like the way it begins--in the midst of a disaster, there is a miracle. And that any of the miners is still alive seems to me to be a miracle.

But I like the premise--God provides a way for those who believe.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bat Dance

Dancing on a wing, the ballet in the sky was mesmerizing
As the orange-hued light from the setting sun silhouetted
Small forms performing intricate routines not only for my enjoyment
But in search of sustenance as they winged and turned and dove
Freely and effortlessly it seemed they were free of gravity
To fly where they willed as night fell and darkness gradually overtook the scene
Until I could no longer make out their forms in the waning twilight.
Were they still there, I wondered after I could no longer enjoy the dance?
Dancing, chasing a delectable mosquito or other flying insect
Unseen now and unheard, but probably more numerous than before
I briefly glimpsed one of them in the weak light of a lamp as it flew past the window
Its dark, featureless form reminding me why so many people fear them
Even though we are not in their food chain and despite the fact
That they actually serve us unselfishly by ridding the sky of the
Blood sucking vermin that make being outside after dark on a summer evening
An event that requires copious amounts of liberally applied foul smelling bug spray
To keep from becoming a banquet table for the bugs.
They try to make it smell good by offering scents of fruits and other flowers,
But who really wants to smell like a fruit bowl
Do I look like a strawberry? So then should I smell like one?
No—bring on the dancing warriors of the skies who live to rid the area of winged vermin.
I love seeing them dance in the twilight, knowing that they are there every summer’s night
Conducting the same fanciful flight routines for both me and for themselves.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Disciplined Mind

I have been thinking a lot about this lately as my frustration with my neighbors continues to grow again.

No, it isn't the garbage as I wrote about earlier in my entry titled Good Fences and Questionable Neighbors. The garbage is making it to and from the street, mostly.

But I have begun to notice other things around me that point to lack of a disciplined mind. And I am at fault too, as my loving wife will often point out.

The evidence of a undisciplined mind can be seen in simple things, like walking over or around the basket of clothes waiting to either go to the laundry or be put away after coming up from the laundry.

Seeing a cup fall out of the car and not stopping to retrieve it an place it in the trash. But leaving it to see in whose yard it will blow into.

Parking the car sideways in the drive--this one really amazes me because it may be easier to pull into, but it sure creates problems parking the other vehicle and then departing in the morning.

So what are the traits of a disciplined mind?

A disciplined mind closes the cupboard door after retrieving a measuring cup.

It puts the top down on the toilet when business is finished.

It picks up the tuft of dog hair on the sofa and deposits it in the trash.

It picks up the newly delivered phone book strewn around the base of the mailboxes at the same time as when retrieving the mail.

It recognizes that the Styrofoam Chic-fil-A cup lying in the drive is soon going to be debris in a neighbor's yard and moves the cup into a trash receptacle.

A disciplined mind takes the trash out instead of trying to cram another piece into the already overflowing receptacle.

And so, I think I have captured the archetype of the disciplined mind. As I pondered it more, I realized that one of the defining differences between children and adults is the transition to a more disciplined mind.

Can one therefore extrapolate that those who do not possess a more disciplined mind are still children?

I wonder.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Musings - September 27, 2010

1. I was humbled by all of the birthday greetings I received yesterday on the phone and via Facebook and in person. Thank you to all of you for taking a minute to send me a note. I was awesome.

2. It is birthday season again for our family. It started last Wednesday with Michael and will continue until April when Ethan celebrates his sixth birthday!

3. I heard an interesting study that found that September is the favorite month of the year for the majority of Americans.

4. July is my favorite month of the year followed by June, August, May and April in that order.

5. My four least favorite months of the year are: January, February, December, and November. I often refer to these as the dark months.

6. That leaves March, September, and October in limbo--but definitely not among my favorites. Although the grape harvesting of September and October sure are enjoyable and foretell good wines in the future.

7. We have a new cat (actually a feline and not a Jaguar automobile) which has been turning the house on its ear. The cat, named Riordan, has established a pretty good relationship with Makayla. But Louis is a different story. So now at night the sound of cats screaming at each other is happening inside and not outside of the house!

8. Hockey season is underway this week. A welcome counter to the NFL.

9 Do you know what you get when you mix three dogs, two cats, three children under the age of six, NFL football, three TV's on different channels, a little bit of beer, and seven adults? Sunday at the Doan house.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Still fun

The pool may be closed but there is still fun to be had on nice days.

The grandsons, and Nicole, all in a row on the diving board dreaming about next season. And having fun together. Look ma, no water. And the pool cover is more like a trampoline than a cover.

You should have seen the dogs. They had more fun on the cover than they did all summer in the pool.

Who says the fun is gone?

Birthday Rememberance

Every year contains it seems a few days which cause me pause and to think about the past.

One such day is my birthday--and today is really a special one because it is one of those mid-decade buirthdays.

But I was remembering birthday's past and some of the really cool things that used to happen.

Like my 6th (I think it was) and a big birthday party at the old house in Danby where the guys wound up playing with trucks in the dirt pile. I have no idea if any girls were even invited to the party or what they did while the guys got down and dirty.

And my 12th when, though it was not my birthday gift, our very first color TV (yes--color) was delivered.

Or my 14th, when I received a special production (OK, made by Mom) Ithaca .22 Saddle gun rifle. It really is a one of a kind and I still have it. I wonder what would happen today if more parents bought firearms for their 14 year old? But, I was taught to respect and properly use this weapon, which I still proudly have. Actually this is a file photo not my actual weapon--I am keeping its secrets safe after all of these years.

I'm sure Mom and Dad remember many more birthdays--but for those before I was 18, these really stand out as special.

My 18th was my first birthday away from the family. I was at the University of Miami and in those days (or olden times as I call it) turning 18 meant you could buy alcohol--and so I did. Lots of it.

And so this year, as in years past, I think about my birthdays and all of the places I have celebrated them (Danby, Miami, Syracuse, Rome, NY; Denver/Aurora, Omaha, Neubruecke, Shreveport, San Angelo, Columbia, Elkridge, Norfolk, Pittsburgh, and sometimes on the road in places I don't even remember.

Surrounded by family, no birthday is ever alone. Apart from family--even then I was never alone for the family's love always found me and surrounded me. No matter where I was.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saddest Day of the Year

It is done. The summer pool season is over and the pool is closed. We just finished.

The pool is resting now. Waiting for April.


But the memories are great from the fun we had this summer. I cant wait until next year. Roughly 212 days until we open the pool next year.

Plug-n-Play Leadership: The Wrong Answer

I heard the following words the other day as I was receiving feedback on my recent nomination package.

"You are too narrow. Our paradigm is that senior leaders almost need to be plug-n-play--able to perform anywhere based upon their experience."


That, friends, is everything that is wrong with the current generation of leaders in America. To avoid having to take responsibility for their actions and to follow through to completion the implementation of their strategies, senior leaders are moved on a regular two-year schedule and never develop the full understanding of the organization they are leading.

I saw and felt it when I was an officer in the Air Force and now as a government "bureaucrat" I see the same thing.

Plug-n-play leadership is both wasteful and inefficient. It reduces leadership to concepts and strategies which can be applied impartially across the board rather than adapted to the strengths and weaknesses of the specific team or organization. It makes senior leaders effectively senior managers.

I work in a small organization that has a huge impact. Why? Because our leadership is more than just a decision-making manager down the hall. Leadership is intimate with the mission and understands, no, had a really deep appreciation of how the mission needs to be accomplished and how to take care of the people who are principally responsible for the getting the job done.

Do we get it right all of the time? No--no one does. But then we do not get enamored with the latest "fad" leadership term or style either. Everything can be carefully considered to ensure the burden on the mission staff is minimized and that they have the tools and encouragement to do their jobs.

I believe, because I have seen it in action, that mission savvy leaders have a disproportionately high positive impact on the organization when they use their skills properly. Plug-n-play leaders are quickly reduced to managers and depend upon others to do the real leading in the organization until they get the smarts to successfully represent and lead the organization.

What is the difference you ask between leaders and managers?

In its simplest form the difference is that leaders lead people and managers manage things. It is a lot tougher to lead than to manage.

Experienced in the organization leaders are a stabilizing force that helps the organization retain its focus in the face of turbulence.

Look at successful small businesses--the owners are the leaders. they are personally invested in the success of the organization.

Likewise, should it not also be true that when leaders are personally invested in their organization they are more effective?

Ineffective leaders need to be moved/removed--but effective leaders should be retained to ensure strength in the organization.

There is no such thing as plug-n-play leadership. Maybe plug-n-play management, but leaders can never be plug and play. There are emotions and investment to consider in effectively leading an organization.

A successful leader should be successful anywhere, it is not the number of diverse assignments that makes success but the character and capabilities of the person--but why risk organizational success in one area to fix another? And why risk the success of the larger organization just to move leaders around so they can have the illusion of plug-n-play?

Fundamentally, it may be a conspiracy theory at work--the CEO may be afraid that the next tier of leaders are more capable and are therefore a threat so by constantly moving them to preclude expertise in any one area, the threat is diminished.

So--the bottom line--plug-n-play leadership is a myth. It develops a generation of leaders that have not had to accept the responsibility for their action and who know a very little about a lot and can be considered dangerous.

Deeper understanding of the relationship is better.

Just because a leader has depth does not mean that they cannot perform anywhere. That is a myth. Effective leadership is transferable, but good leaders are personally invested in their organizations.

And I will never be seen as a viable candidate for senior executive because I'm too deep (or was that narrow?)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Find a Way

I listened to an inspiring story the other morning on the way to work. It was about a football player who had his life changed by a cancer diagnosis sometime after his playing days were over. The intro to the book reads as follows:

"In 2003 former NFL player and current ESPN broadcaster Merril Hoge was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He's recently written a book entitled 'Find A Way', that chronicles his story, providing inspiration on how to navigate difficult times."

As I listened to Merril speak on the radio of his experiences as a boy growing up and then as a football player and father stricken with cancer, I was struck by the simple singleness of purpose that he followed embodied in three words--Find a Way.

He spoke about how when he was a boy and professed that he was going to play in the NFL, that people told him how hard it was and how few people made it to that level of play. Yet, that was when he discovered the phrase: Find a Way. And, he became an NFL played despite those around him trying to help break his fall should he not make it.

He then related how when he was depressed and down about the cancer and was telling his children about it, his daughter came to him and repeated the words that he had taught her about how to deal with life, Find a Way. It encouraged him to give 100 percent of himself to the fight and hold nothing back.

The interview resonated with me.


I feel that sometimes I forget to Find a Way when confronted difficult situations or problems in my life. I am content to find an excuse for less than spectacular performance in overcoming obstacles. I find that more and more I am not willing to expend the emotional energy to Find a Way.

I was so intrigued by the interview that I have purchased the book and will be reading it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dark Trees

I was outside Tuesday evening
looking at the night sky.
Chris bought a telescope at a yard sale--
I thought I'd try it out.

I saw Jupiter and three of its moons.
and craters on the Moon as well.

But bathed in the bright moonlight
I noticed the trees
towering above me still full with leaves.

They were dark.

The lightening bugs that made them shimmer
during the nights of summer--
were gone.

Dark and foreboding.
Silhouetted by the moon.

They were not yet autumn trees--
robed with red and orange leaves.
Nor were they the eerie trees of Halloween--
leaf-less, sketching scary shadows on the lawns
for the ghouls and goblins to dance with
in the moonlight.

No--these were still summer trees.
Standing tall against the winds and rains.
Reveling in hot summer sun
providing cool shade to travelers
pausing beneath their branches.

Yet, they were dark.

I imagined them gloomy.
As if they sensed the change.

The coolness of the still not yet autumn breeze
swept across my bare arms.

I paused, breathing deeply,
savoring both the musky scent of summer
and the sweet smell of recently mowed grass.

A dog barked in the distance
returning me to my driveway.

I had drifted off
to a summer-bathed sandy beach.

The light in the window reminded me
that the time for sleep had come.

And dreams.

The dark trees stood tall.
Nodding, it seemed
in the cool gentle breeze.

Autumn was at hand.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumn arrives

Good-bye summer--hello autumn.

At 11:09PM EDT tonight, summer will officially end as the sun crosses the equator not to be seen in the northern hemisphere again until March.

Autumn Along the Niagara River
October 2009
 Ugh! I can't believe it's over.

The pool is still open.

I had to mow the grass.

The leaves are still on the trees.

There are flowers! OK--mums!

Actually it seemed as if it was already here yesterday. The morning temperature was 48 degrees! I haven't seen temperatures in the 40's for a long time. I even put the top up on Cat to drive to work. It was just too cold and I'm fighting some respiratory bug anyway--no need to stress myself more.

The colors are nice--but transient. I took the image along the Niagara River last year in October. I guess it is something to look forward to before the white stuff decides to cover the ground.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Football Hangover

I noticed it at work yesterday.

All of the guys seemed to be moving a bit slower. Very sedate. Something was wrong.

And then i realized the source of the slowness of thought and action: Football Hangover.

Yes, that was it. After a whole day of NFL Football, it seemed that all of the guys were totally fried. The emotional ups and downs if the day had drained them, and me.

We talked in hushed tones about the plays of the day--or the plays that weren't.

It was quite a day! Ugly losses by the Giants, Cowboys, Redskins, and Ravens dominated the discussions.

And then there was the terrible call by the umpire at the Yankees-Orioles game on Friday night to discuss. Like the Yankees really need second chances.


Well--some got done. Quite a lot actually, but adjusting to football season is going to take some time before we are fully hitting our stride again.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Musings - September 20, 2010

1. Even notice how the moon sometimes is just there, lurking in the trees following you? I was at a birthday party last evening and there it was.

2. The pool temperature has fallen so low that it is too cold to swim in . But it is still relaxing to see and remember the summer of fun.

3. I considered this week how traveling in America has changed during the past twenty years--it just isn't fun anymore.

4. After watching or listening to the Yankee games this weekend, I wonder why umpires in MLB feel the need to give the Yankees one more chance--both A Rod (Friday night) and Jeter (Saturday night as first base) should have been out. The additional chances led to runs and wins.

5. There are two great parts about traveling: arriving at the destination and then coming home. Everything in between needs work.

6. Football is a fickle sport. Subject to the winds and the whims of the players and coaches.

7. Hockey season begins this week with pre-season games! Summer must be over.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baseball Dream Crushed

With one swing on Friday night, my hopes for an Oriole victory over the Yankees were dashed.

It was a monstrous home run swatted by the Yankee slugger.

And the Yankees were down to their last strike when the blast happened.

But wait--there is more to the story.

With two outs, two men on and a 1 ball 2 strike count, the Orioles closer threw what appeared to the crowd to be strike three past A Rod. But no, it was called a ball.

Upon later review, both he and the Orioles pitcher knew it. The only one who didn't was the umpire who called ball two and allowed A Rod another swing to salvage the game for the Yankees.

A Rod accepted the bonus swing providing the crowd with a view of a monstrous 386 foot home run. Giving the Yankees a 4-3 lead which was preserved by their closer Mariano Rivera.

How quickly the fortunes of the game changed.

It gave new meaning to the phrase "it ain't over 'till it's over."

Despite losing though, it was exciting to watch the teams battle. Many of us get very wrapped up in the winning and the losing and forget that it is supposed to be only a game.

Entertainment even.

It was last night--a great game, which even in defeat I can accept that in sports, like in life--it matters more how you play the game rather than how you finished.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What Happens in the Local Airport after Midnight?

I have the opportunity, I guess more often than I would really like, to see first hand the answer to the title question.

The airport is Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood-Marshall Airport. Affectionately known as BWI.

BWI Concourse D after Midnight,
September 17, 2010

I live 10 minutes from the airport. I have realized that because I live so close, when friends or family are arriving all they have to do is call me from the aircraft when the plane lands, as soon as they allow cell phones to be turned on, and I have plenty of time to get to them before they deplane and retrieve their bags. I usually check into the Cell Phone lot and await the call that the bags have been found and they are ready to depart.

It is really convenient.

But after midnight--the bustling place that during the day is BWI--with often 30 minute waits to make it through security, becomes a ghost town.

It is really weird to be walking through the deserted concourses.

And I was arriving on a scheduled flight just a bit early--not even late! And because I was on United (my favorite airline) I knew from listening in on the pilots communications that there were about three other flights arriving within a few minutes of us.

The people in the image are my fellow fliers who also rode United flight 168 from Denver to Baltimore.

For over three hours, we had been confined in a close space. Closer than friends. But once the cabin door was opened,  all I saw of my flight mates was their backsides. Everyone was in a hurry, streaming past the closed and deserted shops to retrieve baggage and make their way home or to their true final destination.

I know some had a long trip.

I was lucky.

Withing 45 minutes of landing (not deplaning, but from when the wheels touched the runway) I was home.

I had passed through the ghostly empty airport.

I also got lucky on a shuttle ride to the parking lot. It is so rare when the shuttle pulls up just as I arrive at the pick-up point.

And the truck roared to life as I turned the key.  It carried me home to complete the trip.

I hope everyone else who rode Flight 168 with me into the deserted BWI had a smooth trip.

It is good to be home--because after midnight at BWI, nothing happens.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Out the Hotel Window, Part 3

Well, scary enough, it was a three day trip to two cities so I have three parts it seems. I took one image every morning to see if I could find something different to see out of the windows.

Denver Skyline September 16, 2010
from Aurora Doubletree

Yesterday morning, I moved over to one side of the window, in the early pre-dawn light and off in the distance I could see the skyline of Denver.

It was so far away--

I zoomed my iPhone camera to the max setting and snapped a couple images hoping to get lucky.

Maybe I did--

But I learned that when looking out the hotel window, move around a bit. This awesome skyline shot was obscured form the center point of the window by the corner of the building--but by moving a bit to the right, I was able to change the blah view of the day before into something that is etched in my mind to remember.

All too often when I travel, I just leave the shades and curtains closed in my hotel room.

I'm too busy computing, or reading, dressing, or catching up on the news to notice what is happening outside.

I guess, I've changed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Out the Hotel Window, Part 2

Sometimes the view isn't what we would like it to be. Just the same old stuff that even in the dawn light really isn't that different or unique.

Even so, the color saturation of dawn is just beautiful.

Yes, I forgot to turn my lamp off so there is a reflection in the window.

But still--I have to admit, the view from here is far better than the view from my office window.

Oh, I forgot, my office does not have a window.


We should enjoy what we have and what we see. I was in an office earlier this week that had an unobstructed view of Pike's Peak!

Can you spell j-e-a-l-o-u-s?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The View is Awesome

Traveling reminds me that I sometimes love to take a moment to admire the view.

And the having a means to record what the eye sees is the close second to the views--even if it is not going to be an award winning image--it reminds me of the great things I see along the way.

I have seen some great things. My iPhone camera really helps me remember them.

Like this shot from yesterday.

Pike's Peak is the mountain that every spot in the city is designed to be able to see--and they can.

It was a bright day--with puffy clouds and a hot sun.

Wish you were here with me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Out the Hotel Window

I often look out the windows of the hotels I stay in to see the area.

Usually, it is a pretty boring view--of the swimming pool or and expressway.

This morning though, from downtown Colorado Springs, I caught the sunlight and rays behind the buildings of the city.

I know if I had a better camera, I could actually capture the sunlight and the rays the same way that my eye see it--but alas, I don't.

But--I looked out at just the right time to see the sun's rays silhouetting the buildings--

Another day away from home. Although I'm in familiar territory, there is so to be amazed at like the first time all over again.

But the scene remains etched in my memory--just for a bit.

Perhaps it caught my imagination because I was on the second floor of the hotel--and not the eighth.

Who knows.

Ethan, Master Climber

To the top of the jungle gym!

Atop the world and to quite a line from a movie: "I'm the king of the world!"

He is getting to be so big.

I can't believe it.

And on this particular clear day, he could see forever from his vantage point.

I remember when he was afraid to climb up the jungle gym.

Now look at this daredevil.

Monday, September 13, 2010

History at O'Hare

Walking through the terminals of airports during lay overs can is usually a fascinating experience.

Here in Chicago's O'Hare airport is an F4F-3 which saw fame in action during the Pacific Campaign defending the USS Lexington from land based Betty bombers. Lt O'Hare became an ace in shooting down five bombers from one of these aircraft and damaging a sixth.

He was decorated with the Medal of Honor for his actions.

And now you know

Monday Musings - September 13, 2010

1. Patriots Day--a sobering reminder that the world is not the place we would like it to be. The forces of darkness and evil are still out there waiting for us to slip up, become weak, or believe that they've gone away. They have not!

2. I have discovered a corollary to the phrase: "A watched pot never boils." It is: A watched clock never ticks!

3. Owing no one anything other than to love them is really hard sometimes.

4. Despite what some would like to believe--the world is not a safe place outside the borders of the US.

5. Sometimes it is hard to do what is right or to say what is right; especially when it is unpopular.

6. Zealot. What is a zealot? Someone who believes more strongly than you do.

7. Quote of the day: "I figure the faster I pedal, the faster I can retire." Lance Armstrong

8. Rain finally broke the 19 straight days of sunny skies and the ground just drank it up. I don't think there was any runoff.

9. Traveling in America today really is a pain.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Going to the Dogs

So how did I spend the first Sunday of football season?

Well watching the Red Zone channel and serving as a warm lap for two dogs.

Makayla is pretty obvious in the front. But look to the right and behind Makayla and there is Florence my daughters Italian greyhound.

At least I'm good for a warm lap.

Summer Gardens

Summer gardens are the toughest it seems.

Springtime gardens are the easiest--there are all kinds of bulbs and flowers we expect to see in the springtime, but summer--well. the gardens take a beating and it is tough to work the blooms out so that something is blooming all of the time.

I especially enjoy the impatiens. Especially this years sine the ones pictured here were not planted by us--they came back after the winter and are now blooming merrily in the garden.

We have installed an auutomatic watering system to help keep these plants happy through the dry days of summer--and it apepars they are pretty happy. The hydrangea seems to have adapted to its location, although, if I were brave enough to take a picture of it, it would be clear that the hostas at the other end of the garden are getting too much sun and not enough water. Our watering system does nto reach them.

The joys of gardening--and springtime digging and moving plants from one location to another.

Gardens--they give us something to do and then enjoy. Our work and planning coupled with water, sun equals enjoyment.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Morning Glory on the Porch

They seem to be everywhere this season.

Some call them pests--but I enjoy their morning blooms.

The blooms are vibrant in the morning and most mornings I depart before they open to brighten the day.

Sadly, because we decided to let the vines run wild this year and they are adorning our porch with color and green.

Are they out of control? Probably--but who cares. When they die I will pull their dead vines off of everything and get ready for next springtime.

But I do enjoy the blue blooms that are so vibrant in the morning.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Argument about the Creation of the Universe

Not content with tackling one volatile issue this week, I thought I'd throw some kerosene on the fire about another issue: Where did we come from? God or a cosmic calamity?

Stephen Hawking, a renown and respected professor at the University of Cambridge has declared the universe created itself. His new book, The Grand Design, coauthored with Leonard Mlodinow, reportedly details the procedure for creating your own universe in a bottle beginning with nothing but the vacuum of space.

OK--I'm being a bit sarcastic.

In a Wall Street Journal article titled: Why God Did Not Create the Universe , excerpts of the book are published to give a flavor of the book. Of course the article is designed to encourage people to buy the book to read more.

I'm not going to buy into the advertisement, nor will I be purchasing the book.

I think I've read enough to make a decision based upon the following three paragraphs from the article I referenced:

The emergence of the complex structures capable of supporting intelligent observers seems to be very fragile. The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned. What can we make of these coincidences? Luck in the precise form and nature of fundamental physical law is a different kind of luck from the luck we find in environmental factors. It raises the natural question of why it is that way.

Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God. The idea that the universe was designed to accommodate mankind appears in theologies and mythologies dating from thousands of years ago. In Western culture the Old Testament contains the idea of providential design, but the traditional Christian viewpoint was also greatly influenced by Aristotle, who believed "in an intelligent natural world that functions according to some deliberate design."

That is not the answer of modern science. As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

I think it is pretty clear--man has again determined that there can be no other god than man, because if there were, then we would not be the masters of the universe!

Hawking says as much in one sentence, which is the final sentence of the Wall Street Journal article:

Although we are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense the lords of creation.

I think Stephen Hawking missed a fundamental underlying pivot point to his whole argument--and this is the reason that I will not buy the book and encourage the transmission of his modern humanistic view of the world.

Hey Stevie--where did the laws of gravity and quantum theory come from?

No matter how far back you go--you have to have something to start with and if all you think you need are these laws--then where did they come from?

Oh yeah, that would be God!

I was reminded of a conversation God had with Job, it could have just as easilyu been Stephen Hawking, when God said simply: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you possess understanding!" Job 38:4 NET Bible

There is a whole lot more to the concept of foundation than mortar and clay--it embodies the basic laws that govern life and the universe. The laws of gravity and quantum theory. The laws of life and light and darkness. All of these are needed to sustain life. They didn't just happen--no matter how many complex mathematical formulas exist to define them.

Sorry Steve--you got it wrong.

Something from nuthin is nonsense.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Church to Burn the Koran Part II

I received an email from a blog reader about my earlier post: Church to Burn the Koran.

Suffice it to say--we see the issue differently, which is really great. That is why I am an American because I love diversity and I love being able to have differing opinions without someone winding up dead.

The comments were as follows, with the identity of the sender protected:

Good morning Bob. Was reading your blog this morning, a couple of thoughts occurred to me. If all of these Muslims are so peace loving, then why are we there? If the general is so bothered by the burning of a few books and even now our President chimes in, and is so concerned of the safety of our troops I have a great idea. BRING THEM HOME !!!!!!! Why can't these "peace " loving Muslims govern themselves? Why don't we go into China, Russia, Somalia, Venezuela, or Cuba for that matter??? Bob, What does 2Pe. 2:10 say about despising government say! Didn't PRESIDENT HUSSEIN have his government? Why didn't we respect him, or at least respect his government? Shouldn't we as Americans have respect for our government! When we want a change of government, we don't go to any other country for their military help!!! Just a few thoughts. I know I am not in the KNOW, But I have a question. How many people were killed by drunk drivers in our own country, without one book burned?

I admit--I don't like it when people disagree with me, after all, who does? And I love a good battle of thoughts and opinions--so I responded. And I wrote the following (I have removed one phrase where the writer of the original piece could have been identified).

I responded:


You don't see the difference between drunk driving and intentionally doing something which endangers your fellow citizens around the world? I think you are being really cavalier about other peoples lives.

What kind of statement is this church really trying to make? If they really want to live free and be brave in the face of Islamic extremists, they should join the military and go to the front lines and fight Al Qaida and the radical Islamic terrorists face to face. It is real easy to stand tall and be brave from Gainesville--knowing that millions of US soldiers and the entire Homeland Security apparatus of the U.S. is protecting you.

This church represents everything that can be wrong with "Christians" in America today. And it is radicals such as these which are potentially going to cause the rest of us problems.

In some circles, burning a Koran could be considered a hate crime--the same as burning a cross or painting a swastika on a synagogue. (Happy New Year by the way)

And the threat to Americans this causes is not just in Afghanistan--but unless you haven't noticed there is a lot of the world that is Muslim. It endangers every American everywhere!

And you are also not really asking me about Hussein are you? He used chemical and biological weapons on his own people and killed thousands--if not millions of his people. In the annals of history--he is not far from being the Stalin or Hitler of our time. Using your logic, we should not have invaded Europe in 1944. Hitler had established his government there.

You misapplied 2 Pe 2:10 while you were at it. And you know that too. Return to Romans 13:8. And the entire first part of Romans 13 for that matter. We as Christians should be supporting our government and praying for it.

When you boil it all down, Paul said it best in 1 Cor 10:23--which basically says that even though things may be lawful, some things are not wise to do because they don't build others up (edify).

So in the end, this church will likely burn about 200 Korans--good for them. But, they are not going to be paying the consequences for their actions. Others are. It's their right, but is it a right that really needs to be taken?

This is the end of what I responded to the email with.

I know this is a hot button issue for many of us. I think discussing it openly and rationally is good. So, I look forward to more comments.

Church to Burn the Koran?

I read with interest the article in The Wall Street Journal titled: Petraeus Condemns U.S. Church's Plan to Burn Qurans.


Why would a church want to make a statement like that--burning a Koran?

The leader of the group, Pastor Terry Jones, is quoted as saying the following in the article:

Mr. Jones, head of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., said in a statement that "We understand the General's concerns. We are sure that his concerns are legitimate." Nonetheless, he added, "We must send a clear message to the radical element of Islam. We will no longer be controlled and dominated by their fears and threats."

Really? That is how you are going to become and live as free people?

By burning a book? Get real.

These "Christian" zealots need to understand that they are putting a lot of Americans at risk by intentionally offending another group of people.

They have the right to burn the Koran--you bet they do. But it is ignorant (my view).

This is a 50-member church that is looking for its 15 minutes of fame. OK--they've had their fame, now they need to wise up and accept accountability for their actions.

I'm having a hard time reconciling what Paul says in Romans 13:8 with what this church wants to do. Paul wrote, "Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." NET Bible.

It appears to me that what they want to do is really torque-off (insert your own stronger word here if desired) a specific group of people which will potentially cause loss of life to Americans, when they should be praying for the very people they are trying to make a statement to.

We Americans are kind of numb and dumb to these kinds of statements. When someone burns an American Flag or hangs a public official in effigy, we just tend to brush it off and respect the emotion and rights of the demonstrators to be obnoxious.

Others in the world do not have this same view--and so we need to understand their reactions may/will be different than ours and consider our actions in view of the probable response.

So when the Commander of US Forces in the region says the following, quoted from the article:

"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Gen. Petraeus said in an interview. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."

This church needs to ask itself--do they really want all of that blood on their hands and is it what they should be doing? Starting wars that other people will have to fight.

It is pretty easy to stand tall and be brave in sunny Gainesville, Florida.

I wonder how brave they would be standing on the front lines in Kabul?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sunny September Afternoons

We made our annual trek to the State Fair on Saturday as a big, complete family.

It is something we do almost every year and believe it or not, it is something I look forward to doing.

Of course, I love the cows--but this year was really special. The weather was idyllic. The grandchildren are not only increasing in number, but their increasing ages make them more fun to be with at the fair.

Since I got to play with the camera a bit more this year, I do have a favorite action shot from the fair. It is Nicole and Jax coming down the slide together. Maybe just a bit out of control, but having fun together.

I enjoyed playing with the camera--because the sky was so blue and the colors so vivid.

We are able to expose the kids to so many different things at the fair--like baby chickens (chicks), or piglets, or lambs--all of the animals they read stories about and are finally able to see for real.

And of course we are all able to be together--which is also a treat.

The fair is fun and only a short drive from home. We assembled at 1000 and had a fabulous morning and early afternoon.

I hope next year is as much fun.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday Musings - September 6, 2010 (on Tuesday Morning)

Yes, it is a day late--but it was a holiday yesterday so I was busy.

1. Labor Day celebrations and family gatherings to celebrate together are really where it's at. I hesitate to call it the end of summer, but it surely is the last holiday of summer.  Of course, there is only one other holiday during summer anyway.

2. Busy days and busy nights lead to wanting to go back to work after a holiday.

3. I get exhausted during holidays making sure I see everyone and do everything that I need to.   Too bad I didn't get the things done I wanted to do like wash Cat, comb the dog, and mow the lawn among others.

4. Jax and I found a dinosaur nest on our walk yesterday morning. We were very quiet and departed the area to ensure they were not disturbed. I think we did OK because they didn't chase us!

5. Makayla was so tired from the weekend, she didn't want to get out of bed this morning. She's a dog, so she doesn't have to go to work. Lucky her!

6. I played racquetball this morning after the three day weekend--ugh!  It was really hard to get moving.

7. Sunny, clear, and mild. Who could complain?  Actually I did hear complaints about lack of rain. Someone please record those for later use as evidence against those complaining about the rain when it finally comes.

8. BP is still in the news playing with the oil well.

9. Hurricane?  What hurricane? Gaston fizzled. Earl missed. Fiona exhausted herself. Sounds like a bad "whodunit" novel.

10. Well--now it is full ahead into primary season, autumn, and Columbus Day. Remember Columbus Day? It is still a national holiday, amazingly enough!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day walk after breakfast

What happens after a huge breakfast? 

A walk. Especially on a beautiful day with cooler temperatures and bright sunshine.

What could be better?

Maybe a nap?

But the dogs enjoyed the long-ish walk to the playground.

On the way back Jax and I looked for acorns. And we found a lot.

I finally had to convince Jax to leave some for the squirrels.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Standing at the Door--Please Don't Knock, It's Open for a Reason

I work with some people who just cannot get used to informality.

They insist on knocking on my open office door before entering or even then wait to be invited to enter.

It really bugs me--because I do not like separating myself from my team with such trappings of either authority or power.

My boss does not require such from me--why should I retain psychological power holdovers from a previous era?

I want to be a member of the "team" and not just the coach/manager/leader.

That I am "management" should not be reinforced by holding on to the trappings of percieved power that separate us--but one of the strengths of a well functioning team is seeing that everyone has a job or position, they do it and they do it together.

I know when I hear some of the team some talk about "management" (or "them") they are referring to me and the office area I sit in, but still--I want them to know that when they say these things I understand that they feel disenfranchised and not part of the solution to the problem they are complaining about.

Teams are about shared responsibility and effort.

Some need to have the authority and responsibility to make decisions--but all should be invested in the outcome--personally.

Teams really work best when the team members care. One way everyone cares is if the barriers that separate team members are reduced.

If the leadership provides the general guidance and support that the team needs then there is a good chance the team will be efficient and adaptable to the changing stress of the moment.

If the door is open--come on in! We are all in this together.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday at the fair

Hurricane? What hurricane.

It is a beautiful day.

Seeing the Fair

What is the best way to enjoy the Maryland State Fair on a beautiful Saturday morning?

Ask Lucas.

The Hunter Returns

There he was the other morning. Right there in the 5AM sky for me to see.

My old friend Orion has returned to guide me through another winter season and then to hopefully let me loose to enjoy another summer.

I have written before about my love-hate affair with the winter sky.

But it is Orion that is my guide in the stars.

He starts out in the early morning sky in the autumn, and during the winter becomes prominent in the evening and nighttime sky.

Low now on the morning horizon, but soon he will fill the evening sky.

Another of those signs that summer is passing into autumn and all that goes with the season.

Harvest, pumpkins, feasts, trees adorning themselves in colorful robes, and frost are but a few of the signs of the trasition.

It is good and useful that we have signposts to guide us across the seasons. As well, to guide us through life. Inanimate friends who make the big places familiar and comfort us--even in the night.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hurricanes and Labor Day

I've spent most of the week watching Hurricane Earl and trying to determine if the weekend is going to be a wash out or not.

It appears as if we are going to be OK for the weekend.

Funny, how I was concerned about such mundane things as going with the entire "fam" to the Maryland State Fair--which is fast becoming an annual tradition.

Now with three grandsons it promises to be an interesting event to attend. I still love the cows!

I probably should've been a farmer, although I'm sure I'd have been bankrupt and out of business by now. I have no business sense and I do love my toys--the latest tractor or manure spreader probably would have broken the bank.

But at least I do get up early in the morning. I love seeing the dawn break. When we were driving to and from Florida this year I was reminded of how I love to see the first signs of the dawning day on the horizon. It lifts my spirits.

For me still--new days dawn full of hope and promise.

Opportunities to succeed, things to do and people to meet and be with.

They remain full of promise.

I know some don't look at new days that way, and it is sad. Depressing even and I truly hope that I do not become one of those people for whom all hope seems lost.

I want each new day to be full of hope and adventure. The joy of discovering something new or looking at something old and familiar in a new way.

Like Hurricane Earl. Could have provided rain on my parade--but I still would have smiled. Why? Ask Chris. She knows that the reason I don't carry or use an umbrella is because I love to walk in the rain! So even in the midst of the rains from a hurricane, I can find something to enjoy.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend. Don't drive too far and remember: even in a traffic jam, fun things happen!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

End of Summer

The pool chairs sit empty as the night begins to fall
Mosquitoes own the prime pool side spots
Darkness falls and silence accompanies it
The children have returned to the classrooms.
Where did it go so quickly?
Why did it have to leave?
The questions remain unanswered by the empty pool chairs.
Waiting for another season
Another time
Alone. Forgotten.

Hidden in Plain Sight

The image doesn't really do it justice--but the blue thing in the image is a Blue Hippo Tang hiding in plain sight in Jeremy's salt water aquarium the other night.

The tang was a bit freaked out as I walked over to the tank and it slid onto the bottom under some of the tank plant life and laid there until I left the area.

I did this a couple of times to be sure that I was the stimulus for this action and by about the third time, I was pretty sure it was me.

The other fish occupants of the tank looked on at the antics of the tang in utter disbelief. The clown fish and the yellow tang kept a close eye on me, the outsider, but maintained their ground.

I was, as you might expect, fascinated by the blue hippo tang though. Hiding in plain sight, but feeling safer.

Like the ostrich of the aquarium.

I think is was cute.

But I also felt as if I was seeing myself sometimes when I try to ignore the activities of the world around me. It is as if I am hiding in plain sight. I ignore the world--but the world is still there.

And the only thing that winds up happening is that what I'm ignoring and not dealing with, gets bigger.

I know someone who tried the ignore approach with a traffic ticket. And no--this is no one I'm related to, so everyone, breathe easier.

The ticket did not go away--it only got worse and when the ticket caught up with the person, it was a lot worse and a lot more embarrassing than just going to court and taking care of the problem in the first place. It is no fun to be handcuffed along the side of the highway because of a warrant due to failure to show up in court.

We cannot be successful in life by acting like the hippo tang in the tank.

Stuff will catch up with us and definitely, hiding in plain sight is not going to work.

Deal with it. Earlier is better.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Dreams

The summer sun sets now too low
Darkness falls so early
My time with summer grows too short
Cool evenings chill my pool
Leaves show signs of falling soon
Yet, mosquitoes swarm my arms
Grapes are ripening on the vine
And change is in the air
If I could slow the seasons change
Halt the sun's migration
I'd remain in light and warmth
It's something that I dream
A dive boat out upon the waves
A daily grind I'm sure
But tanned and warm I'll ever be
And cold not ever more.
My Zimbio
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