Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Musings - January 31, 2011

1. It is the last day of January 2011--it seems like just yesterday it was Thanksgiving. This year is taking flight just as quickly as 2010 did.

2. We had a family gathering to celebrate Nicole's birthday yesterday. It was good to have everyone together for the afternoon. It was funny how the noise level kept rising as we started shouting over each other. But the fun was in the gathering.

3. Although the temperatures were over freezing yesterday, I cannot see how any of the snow which ended up in my yard has melted.

4. Funny scene of the day: Jax in search of Ethan (who had gone out to the car for something) making the turn to head down into the yard without a coat on because he could not find his brother.

5. Ever notice how the next bad thing to happen in the world seems to come from out of nowhere--Egypt?  I thought they were a lot more stable than it appears that they are.

6. Snow days--and time off because of snow. We had a rough week last week with the snow. Hopefully this week will be more normal.  I get so far behind when the snow starts falling and we get some time off. I do like to sleep in, but I sure pay for it, double it seems.

7. Keswick Winery released the label with our picture on it for the Consensus Wine that the team we were on designed. The is being bottled today and tomorrow at the vineyard in Virginia. OK--it was cool to see myself of the label of a wine being bottled by a real winery and not by myself in my basement.

8. Note to self: summer tires are not for use during blizzards. OK, now if the 1,000 people in Baltimore who got stuck on the Jones Falls Expressway remember that, maybe it won't happen again during the next snowstorm.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Smart Phone vs Tie Shoes

In a revealing story from Time magazine titled: The Way We Live Now: More Kids Can Work a Smart Phone Than Tie Their Shoes it becomes clear that kids are learning the ways of technology much faster than they are learning the basic things we need to be able to so to take care of ourselves.

The article goes on to write: And not being able to dress themselves isn't the only problem facing these tech-savvy little ones. According to Mobilized, "Tech skills are outpacing life skills in other areas as well. For example, more of the kids can open a Web browser than swim on their own, and more can play computer games than ride a bike."

On one hand, it is really cool to see almost three-year old Jax, as he did yesterday, take Chris's iPhone and navigate to and open the particular app he wanted to play. 

But the downside is that parents must be wary of turning young children into technology savvy invalids who can do nothing else for themselves.
I am not worried about Jax falling into this trap--especially after the meltdown I witnessed yesterday when he could not open a drink on his own, but I can imagine many other children who never get beyond interacting with the computer screen for everything in their lives--rendering them technology induced invalids without the skill and socialization abilities to function in society (whatever that ultimately becomes).

Balance is needed in all areas of life. Including technology.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baseball is back

Orioles FanFest today. Spring can't be far off now.

January Moon

I looked out the window at 3am this morning and saw a clear sky illuminated by a sliver bright of moon.

The cold light it cast across the frozen, still snow covered landscape sent a chill through me, magnified, I'm sure, by the coolness of the house that we allow to cool to about 62 degrees during the night.

A bright star winked at me, and I sighed back at it.

There were so many other, warm, places I thought of where I could be standing and looking at this same star.

I was thirsty though and needed a drink and staring out the window into a portion of the world I had no intention of visiting at this hour made no sense to me.

So I turned away from the window and back into the house going about my business and trying to get back to bed before my spot cooled and I was too awake.

Probably a lost cause.

Makayla lifted her head to see what was up and whether she needed to move because she surely didn't want too--it was the middle of the night and the pack that is our family was supposed to be sleeping.

I slipped back under the covers and heard the cuckoo clock bong.  It isn't on time I surmised.

And as my head hit the pillow, I realized that I was fully awake and should probably just get up because sleep was going to be a struggle.

But it was cold and I was warming.

So I just laid there in the warmth of the bed and eventually drifted off to sleep, coming awake later shortly after the sun had risen and congratulated myself for a good decision on not getting up and allowing the moon to slide down over the horizon.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow--The Aftermath

The aftermath of the snowstorm which dumped about 8 inches of snow on us in five hours is incredible.  There are countless trees and branches down. Powerlines are still down--in fact they had the intersection of US 1 and MD100 closed last evening for a downed powerline.

The snow was heavy and fierce. The region is still discussing the 1000 (yes that is one thousand) car back up on one of the major arteries in the region which occurred because people over extended themselves and their vehicles--it was reported that some were driving their cars using summer tires--no wonder they couldn't move.

Some of the stories are in the Baltimore Sun article about drivers retrieving their abandoned cars--Suffice it to write--the situation here was pretty grim as so many people were unprepared for the rapidly worsening weather situation.

I can report, however, that our family made the best of the situation, and in some cases the loss of electricity, and we all made it through the storm in a testament to creativity and perseverance.

Hopefully this is the first and last "big one" of the season.

And if you were wondering, there are about 51 days until Spring. And the worthless weather forecaster--the rodent of Punxsutawney makes his annual prediction on Wednesday!  Stand by for that one.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Painted on the Trees

January 27, 2011 - The Back Yard
I am amazed at how snow so radically changes the way things appear. Aside from changing the dreary landscape to pure white, it adheres to the tree trunks like a white paint.

For a while the trees appear as if they have been highlighted by the painter's brush.

I guess, in reality, they have!

Snow and Dogs

Makayla during Snowpocalypse 2010
Yesterday, as I was wrestling with the just over two inches of snow in the driveway before going to work, I discovered an amusing thing: Makayla loves snow.

She runs around in the snow like a pup just enjoying the clean--probably scent free, whiteness.

I really think she enjoys the feel of the snow between her toes and the way is collects on her coat.

I remember that during the snowpocalypse of last February that she likes the snow--but it was so deep she really couldn't run around it in. This is one of my favorite picture of her in the snow last year. I use it as a wall paper on my computer and iPhone.

Makayla in the Snow
It made me smile to see her bounding through the snow just enjoying herself.

I wish I could enjoy the snow the same way.

But--shoveling it, driving in it, and watching it fall wishing I was already in St Lucia on vacation (scheduled for July) certainly does not help me to appreciate the wet white stuff the way she does.

But--then again, her enthusiasm did help me to appreciate it--just a bit. Shhhh--don't tell Chris.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2 inches an Hour

Snow--it is falling at the rate of 2 inches per hour with 10 inches expected before midnight.


I think the beginning of Snowpocaplyse 2011 is under way.

The roads are pretty well shut, the snow, on top of the two inches we had this morning is already about 6 inches deep.

And we are experiencing thunder snow--lightening and thunder amidst the heavy snow.

We need to have a party.

Spring Training 2011 -- And so it Begins Anew

With the football season effectively over (I mean, who really cares who wins the Super Bowl anyway?), my mind has begun to churn on my favorite sport--Baseball.

I am in the midst of planning a mid-March trip to Sarasota to see the O's play baseball during Spring training. Additionally, this weekend is the O's fan fest--which I also plan to attend to shake off the cold of the winter and let my mind bask in the glow of the "Boys of Summer."

Getting away to the warm south will be awesome during March. I can almost feel the intense southern sun heating the skin on my back as I doze listlessly by the hotel pool waiting for game time.

Bring another beer from the bar while you're there, please?

The cost for this enjoyment--I have to sponsor Chris to San Antonio in June--not a difficult decision at all.

So with Fan Fest this weekend and the trip to Sarasota less than two months away, I think I can face the worst winter has to offer because I know that before too long--the flowers will be up, the grass will be green and the umpire is going to be calling out: 'Play Ball!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More About the Cold

There are so many cold jokes out there--I found a few that I thought were funny:

The local petstore is selling cats, dogs, and penguins.

It was so cold that the fog froze and we had to tunnel our way to work.

We are just not used to the cold here--and I am reminded that the high temperature in Key West is expected to be 73 degrees. So I'm wondering why I'm not there.

I would love to take Makayla for a walk--but it is so cold I start to freeze over before I get to the end of the driveway.

Fortunately there is snow on the way--I say fortunately because it is too cold to snow right now so I know it will warm up a bit.

So stay warm, break out the shovels and dream of warmer times. Spring is only 54 days away!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Musings - January 24, 2011

1. Well--it's the Packers vs the Steelers in the Super Bowl. This should be a high scoring affair in two weeks. The early line has the Packers over by Steelers by 2.5 points. After watching both games, I'm thinking Steelers 34-31 over Packers.  But, that's just me.

2. We found new cold overnight--it was 7 degrees this morning.

3. I find it interesting that the NHL All-Star game is on the same day as the NFL Pro-Bowl game.

4. Traveling in America today is an ever changing event. I was amused that the newer the equipment, the more invasive the techniques. I experienced the whole body scan during my most recent trip. Unlike previous screening--I had to take my wallet out of my pocket.  I didn't know this and was duly chastised by a friendly TSA employee.  Do I feel safer? No, not really.

5. It is so cold outside that my shadow froze to the sidewalk.

6. This is one of those days that I wish I could just stay home and curl up next to the fire reading a book all day.

7. Well--I wonder what my electric bill will look like next month.

8. Stay warm and be happy.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grandson Saturday Night

Playing in the Play Tunnel
We had all three grandsons yesterday for a few hours to allow their parents some time off for good behavior.

We had them all, together at the same time--alone, unarmed and unafraid.  The key was to find ways to keep them happy, busy, and occupied.

The activities ranged from playing in the newly purchased play tunnel, to coloring, movie watching, and of course food including smores in the fireplace.

Walking the Dog
There was a bit of craziness--and a lot of fun.

It was amazing how well they all got along.

Even more amazing--the house, dog, and cats survived.

Coloring on the Floor

Let's Be Goofy

A Jax-o-gator
The three of them played extremely well together and we had a lot of fun interacting.

Think of it--grand parents on the floor playing with the grandsons. It was a sight to behold.

The food even worked out pretty well--better than expected.

The evening closed with a movie, helping the boys come down from the exciting activities of the previous couple of hours.

I suppose had the temperature outside been  warmer (it was on 13 degrees) we could have spent some time outside playing.  Maybe later in the year as this is supposed to be a monthly event.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cold, Colder. Coldest

I got the electric bill in the mail yesterday to greet me as I returned home from Denver.

Keep the Home Fires Burning
It confirmed my suspicion--The last month has been cold.  My bill more than doubled over the month before. Ouch!  We do not have gas heat--so everything is on that bill. Lights, heat, and Christmas.

The temperature as I sit here this morning is a balmy 15 degrees. The wind chill is 7 degrees.

I know it is colder elsewhere--but understand something. The all time coldest temperature recorded in Baltimore is minus 7--and we are only 22 degrees warmer than that.

My heat pumps don't work well under about 25 degrees.

There is already a fire in the fireplace and I'm hunkering down for the day.  Of course--the four letter word that I despise the most is also hanging out there-- S-H-O-P.  I'm going to try to negotiate not going out until the temperature is over 30 degrees.

That is probably a losing position.

Maybe I can declare it a movie day in front of the blu-ray player. 

Stay warm.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Out the Hotel Window - Denver, Part 2

Coors Field from the Hotel Window
OK--so the at night pictures are really cool--but you can't see much.

I kinda saved the best for last.

The daylight picture, at a bit of an angle, shows Coors field where the Colorado Rockies play major league baseball. The stadium is a short walk from the hotel. So although the view from my room does not have mountains, nor city skyline--it shows the most important aspect of this hotel--location, location, location.

So if you travel by bus and love MLB--this hotel is for you!

I continue to find it interesting what can be seen, or not, looking out of the hotel windows at the various places that I get to experience.

Look out the windows and see what you can see. There is a huge world out there--and you miss so much just staying inside with the curtains drawn.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Out the Hotel Window - Denver

So even in a nice hotel in the heart of the city, sometimes the view is not that exciting. Here I am in Denver--and what is the view? The Greyhound bus station.

And then there are buildings a buildings. This is an early morning shot. It snowed last night and it took one and a half hours to get from where I work to the hotel here in Denver.

Not nearly as much fun as the hockey game--it was a true game of bumper cars at 5 mph on Interstate 70.

Denver Bus Station
But we made it safe and straight to the hotel bar for drinks and dinner. Mostly drinks. It was good we did not need to travel on such a crummy weather night.

Ah--the joys of traveling.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Denver and Hockey

I love hockey. I am amazed that I never learned to skate.
Sculpture in Entry of Pepsi Center

I got to go see the Colorado Avalanche play the Vancouver Canucks last night and I had a great time.

The Avalanche are my second favorite hockey team and they won in overtime on a power play.  What is even more fabulous is that the Canucks are leading all of the NHL in terms of record right now. So it was a great win especially since it was an overtime win and I saw three NHL all starts play.

I got there early, had dinner and absorbed the atmosphere. The Pepsi Center is a super place to watch a sporting event.

Of course with the two hour time change--I was exhausted.

And I learned a lot about Craigslist--I found really expensive tickets really cheap.
1st Period Avs and Canucks

A fun evening though and something different to start a business trip.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Slip Sliding Away

January Ice
Amazingly enough the world changed overnight--it went from cold and some fluffy snow falling form the sky and turned into an ice covered disaster area.

Nothing is worse than ice.  Especially ice covered with rain to make it extra slick.

I'm glad I don't have anywhere important to be this morning. I'm watching the weather reports tell me how it is going to get better in as few hours--but don't plan on going anywhere right now. Between the accidents and the ice, it is just not a pretty picture.

Schools are closed. Businesses are delayed. Governments are reeling.

But I'm safe and warm at home!


This weekend the dynamic duo were reunited--Ben and Makayla.  Amazingly enough, these two dogs seem to be real friends. I think they really like being together and Makayla always seems a bit down when Ben finally returns home to Jer and Nicole and Luke.

They are buds--and they are fun to be around, although, the amount of fur in the house really can get a bit suffocating.

What is most fun us watching Ben try to get involved in playing with Makayla when she is playing with me. It is almost as if he gets jealous and has to interject himself into the game.

But they are dogs.

And fun to be around and do things together--even chasing the deer that happened into the yard at a bad time. Fortunately, the deer quickly crossed the creek and both dogs decided they didn't want to get wet.

That would have been a bad thing.

Good dogs, good companions and good friends.

When they are together--since they are Keeshonds, they become my pair-o-kees.

Where is the vacuum?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Musings - January 17, 2011

1. Football is fickle--but losing still hurts.   I have a new favorite team after the Ravens: whomever is playing the Steelers! Go Jets!

2. Do you know what you get when you put two keeshonds (keeshonden) together in a house for a weekend?  A lot of hair.  Everywhere.

3. I cannot believe I watched most of the Golden Globe Awards last night! There was nothing on TV to convince me to watch something else. Look out--next I'll be in the geriatric ward!

4. We had three deer that used to live in the wooded area near the house and we had been concerned that they had been killed since we had not seen them in a few months. Makayla found all three of them yesterday. Alive. There were a few anxious moments as I tried to determine how far she would follow them as they ran off.

5. Bad weather is expected tonight and tomorrow--wouldn't you know it?  I am supposed to be heading out on a trip in the morning and I'll probably be treated to unending hours at the airport.  Ugh!

6. And as I was watching the Golden Globes last night, I found about three movies I need to see.

7. The little bit of snow we received on Wednesday remains on the ground as it has been so cold. And ice is expected tonight! Ice Snow and sleet is going to change over to freezing rain overnight.  Thanks!

8. And this in from Houston:  Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their "Feed a Friend" effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.  From my perspective?  How do you get a permit to feed homeless people who don't have a permit to be homeless?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fortunes of Football

What a game yesterday between the Steelers and the Ravens.

How I wish the outcome was different--and how it should have been.

I replay the game in my mind and I find just too many times where the officials made obviously bad calls, confirmed by the announcers on the TV, which put the Ravens at a disadvantage.

Of course--our offense surely did not help the cause giving the Steelers the ball deep in our zone, twice and allowing the Steelers back into the game.  The third quarter was probably the worst quarter of football I have ever seen.

But, still, having a touchdown taken off the board on an obviously bad call, and having a defensive holding penalty with the Steelers on the 4 yard line when the replay clearly showed a Steeler doing a take-down on a Raven really tilts the scales. And that doesn't even count the non-existent pass interference penalty that led to the first score of the game.

Admittedly, allowing a 58 yard completion with 2 minutes left in the game certainly did not help the cause. To their credit--the Steelers took advantage of every opportunity given to them by the Ravens and the officials.

So--to completely upset half of my family--did the better team win? I don't think so, but the team that got the most help certainly did score the most points.

It is sad that we watch a sport that allows the officiating crew to have such an impact on the game.

Go Ravens. Great season.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lucas Turns One

What a year it has been for Lucas and all of us.

We had a fabulous party for him last weekend here in our area, and he is off to more parties in the Pittsburgh area this weekend.

More importantly--he is one happy, loved kid.

Chris and I were reflecting on last year as he was being born and the family was assembled at the hospital where we were all waiting in anticipation.

The first pictures that Jeremy sent to us from the delivery room cheered us all as did our first eyes-on visit to greet the newest member of the family.

I cannot believe how fast the time has gone and how quickly Lucas has developed from the new baby lump, into a real boy.

Jeremy and Nicole--you are doing a great job.

Although yesterday was his "real" birthday--take a moment to wish Luke a very Happy First Birthday.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday Humor

I received the following in my email yesterday--and I thought these 23 really summed up some of those previously unnoticed truths about life.  I especially like 2, 5, 7, and 22.
1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

18. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said? 

19. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

20. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

21. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

23. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tuscon--the Heartland of America

I watched the President on national television from Tuscon on Wednesday evening as he spoke to the assembled masses reeling from the tragedy which occurred over the weekend.

The stories of the victims were compelling--lives extinguished or changed. I was moved that two husbands protected their wives from the bullets--even so, one of the wives died as did one of the husbands. They truly embodied the charge of Paul to husbands in Ephesians 5:25, Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. (NET Bible)  They both were willing to sacrifice themselves for their wives--no truer sign of love exists on this planet.

I was heartened by the stories of the heroes--those who ran towards the bullets and the shooter to subdue him, rather than away to safety. Those willing, without time to examine the consequences, to do what was necessary to protect others--they have true giving spirits.

The people were gathered on Saturday doing something guaranteed by our Constitution--assembling peacefully in public.  The shooter was striking at one of the very freedoms so many other heroes have given their lives to obtain and protect since 1776.

I admit--as I observed the proceedings, I was shocked by the celebration-like atmosphere instead of the more mournful tribute I had expected. I had expected tears and platitudes and eulogies. In reflecting on the event, though, I see how this was a celebration of life, of heroes, and more importantly the American spirit. We are strongest when we are united--and it seems we become united in the face of tragic adversity.

Continue to pray for everyone associated with this tragedy--

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Of Guns and Crazies

It is a tragedy.  Please do not misunderstand me--the shootings in Tuscon are the work of a crazed person who needs to have his DNA removed from the planet.

But then I read the following from and article titled: Congressman Pete King to Introduce Gun Safety Bill After Arizona Shooting

Rep. Peter King said Tuesday he plans to introduce a new gun safety bill in Congress in the wake of the mass shooting in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
King said his bill would make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within a thousand feet of "certain high-profile" government officials.

And, I think--really? Just what we need, another unenforceable law on the books which will only be used to pile on top of other offenses when someone does something stupid and criminal. And--how does someone "unknowingly" carry a gun?  Even better--who can determine if someone "knew or not" that they were packing a gun?  Really?

And if they were able to charge Jared Loughner, the shooter in Tuscon, under this law--who would benefit?

Would the injured be less so or would the dead be alive again?


The problem is not going to be fixed by another almost meaningless and unenforceable law passed by representatives out of touch with what is happening in society.

We have enough laws which are essentially unenforceable and it breeds contempt for the entire legal system of the United States. We need smart and enforceable laws--not laws enacted for special interests designed to make it appear someone is doing something to address a problem. What is really happening is that the deeper social and mental health issues become lost in hot button issues and laws.

For example--look at speed limits. Who of us would not be totally enraged to receive a ticket for speeding 1 mph over the posted limit?  We all believe, in fact the deployment of speed cameras in Maryland has confirmed, that we can be exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph before running a risk of a ticket.  Why not raise all of the posted speed limits by 15 mph and enforce them as stated?

We must impress upon our representatives that laws need to be sane, meaningful, and enforceable. If only criminals are going to be charged after the event has occurred--then what is the deterrent value of the law? What does it add to the betterment of society? 

Say a prayer for the victims of this tragedy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Too Cold to Think

January 11, 2011 Storm results
The prospect of another Nor'easter making it way through the region has everyone on edge. It seems at the hint of snow everyone in the Mid-Atlantic region begins to panic and there continues to be a mad rush on the grocery store. Come on people--we survived dueling blizzards last February. The Snowpocalypse should remind everyone that 1-4 inches is a mere nuisance. So get over it.

Although they are calling for the Chesapeake to freeze over if the cold weather continues. The last time that happened was 1977.

The temperature has been cold--just too cold lately.  It had to warm up to snow.

I know when I go outside I just prepare myself for a wintry blast. Not snow--just really cold. I am amused when Makayla goes outside how she fluffs her fur to keep the cold away. She becomes a real fur ball and is very pretty all fluffed up.  She doesn't seem to mind the cold too much.

One bright spot was the removal of Patrick's1996 Honda from the driveway on Monday. Now I have an open spot. I'm thinking of buying another Jaguar--just because.  Not really. It is weird to think that I have an open spot in the driveway after having it filled by a non-functioning car for the past year. Maybe I'll rent it out to someone who has a boat that needs a parking spot.

But it is too cold to think about that now.

Stay warm and go easy on the shoveling.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tell Me Again about Saturday

What a day it was.  It started early and ended late.  I worked harder Saturday than I did all week.

I look forward to weekends--I can get stuff done, and chill a bit too.  Of course an NFL Football Playoff Weekend also means that there should be some quality time with the TV urging on my favorite team.

0645 - Up for the day to catch up on the news and usual stuff--walk dog twice, get paper, read computer news and complain about the battery life on my iPhone
0740 - Out the door to a Men's breakfast at Bob Evan's
0800-0915 - Men's breakfast @ Bob Evan's --funny enough, our server was named Evan. Weird.
0930 - At the house to get tools
0950 - At Patricks to begin TV electrical project
1120 - Depart Patrick's to go home to change for Lucas' Birthday party
1200-1400 - Lucas Birthday party
1430 - Back to Patrick's to complete project
1630 - Home--assist with putting away last Christmas decorations
1800 - Complete the removal of Christmas decorations and put them away
1815 - People arrive to buy Patrick's old 1996 Honda (departed the driveway yesterday)
1930 - Run to Patrick's to help sell stereo equipment to the people who bought the car
2015 - Back home totally exhausted try watching Jets at Colts but can't keep eyes open
2020 - Eat dinner with Chris--pot roast that she started during the morning and slow cooked all day
2115 - Asleep in my chair
2130 - Awakened from my sleep and told to go to bed
2200 - Crawl into bed--fall asleep
2230 - Phone rings and the caller tells me that Colts are going to lose--64 seconds left in game. I decide not to turn on the TV
2232 - Snoring begins uninterrupted.

I hope your Saturday was nearly as much fun as mine. I never was able to carve out time for an afternoon nap--

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Musings - January 10, 2011

1. Wow--the second week of January already.  Time is already flying.

2. Strange week in the news--new Congress, new White House Chief of Staff, same old taxes though.  And it is tax season.

3. Be happy where you are.  It's hard sometimes because I want to be somewhere I'm not.

4. Do palm trees grow in North Dakota?  Answer. Yes, in a greenhouse.

5. Football playoffs have begun with some shocking surprises.  Won't it be sad next year after the NFL owners have strangled the golden goose not to have football? Way to go Ravens--the only favored team that actually won.

6. Saturday--a new definition: a day to accomplish all of those things that were put off during the week.  A 12-hour work day is anticipated so that returning to the day-job on Monday will seem like taking a day off.

7. Out of control. I dreamed the other night of sliding down a snow-covered hill on the old runner sled that I had when I was a kid. I realized that when I was a kid I loved that out of control feeling of careening down the hill barely able to steer. Now--I need to be in control and I don't think I'd find it much fun.  Sad.

8. The house looked empty yesterday when we got up and Christmas was all packed away. We are still finding the little things we missed though.

9. Quote of the week from Jax made while we were playing with a big truck during Lucas' party: "Poppop, you go hide and I'll get the gas." He was playing two games at the same time.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 -- Review

This is my first wine review of 2011, and it is also the first time that I will have reviewed a newer vintage of a wine that I previously reviewed.

I reviewed the 2006 vintage of this wine and that review at this link: 2006 MA Cab-Sav. I really enjoyed the 2006 vintage and highly recommended it. I was excited about sampling a bottle of the 2008 vintage.

The 2008 vintage of the wine has a nice deep color, which is very pleasant to experience. It has a nose full of dark berries and cherries with a hint of vanilla for some sweetness. The initial taste confirms the nose--the berries and black cherries are definitely there as well as the vanilla and a hint of tobacco and pepper. The wine has a nice feel in the mouth, silky. The tannins are very light.  The taste, however, did not linger and the wine has no finish. It just ends after the initial excitement of the nose and taste.

I was disappointed with the finish and the overall balance of the wine. There is no complexity to support the taste and the flavors. It is an easy drinking wine, but there are a lot of wines like that for much less cost. I was not convinced that this wine would get any better with age. It doesn't have either the tannins or structure to perform in this manner.

RECOMMENDATION: At about $18 per bottle, I think there are better wines out there to enjoy. This is a nice, easy drinking wine but it lacked complexity and balance.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Taxing churches and non-profits?

Way to go Mission, Kansas.

An article in on the presidential prayer team website offers some insight into how the government of Mission, Kansas is trying to subvert the tax-exempt status of churches and non-profits  with a new "fee."

Churches being levied on their number of worshipers

by Diann Noles
Mission, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, has a new twist on taxes – a fee that charges churches based on the number of worshipers and their number of trips to church each year. In this mid-sized, mid-America city usually associated with conservative and pro-Christian viewpoints and policies, this fee has caused an uproar among area churches and other nonprofit groups, resulting in a lawsuit against the city by two of the churches.

Diann ends her article with the following paragraph:

Mission, Kansas is not the only city in America that has tried to institute such fees: the Idaho and Florida Supreme Courts have both ruled in similar cases that such “fees” are, in fact, taxes. “This case will boil down to whether the courts consider this a fee or a property tax,” Stanley told “We’re confident that, based on what the Kansas Supreme Court has said many times over and the difference between a fee and a property tax that, in reality, what the city of Mission has done here is to institute a property tax and subvert the property tax exemptions for churches, charities and other nonprofit organizations, simply because they want more money.”

I urge you to click on the title and read the entire article.

We live in an era , it seems, when local governments will stoop to new levels to improve the cash flow. Fees are not reviewable like taxes, but they are a tax just the same.  Be on guard!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Trees against a Fiery Sky

Some mornings now, as I drive to work after playing racquetball, I am treated to some breath taking beauty.

Tuesday morning it was a pre-dawn red sky silhouetting the bare trees.  I wanted to take a picture to remember this sight as there were also dark clouds reflecting the red rays of the still below the horizon sun which added their own unique beauty to the scene. The trees stood tall and black with the red of the sky filling in around them. They were still--there was no wind. It reminded me of a Wooster Scott painting. I think I know where she got her inspiration.

But I was driving at high speed on a busy freeway with too many other sleepy drivers to even attempt using the camera in my cell phone.

I found something similar on the Internet--but, alas, it is not my work--but it provides an approximation of what I witnessed.

But I have it in my mind.

If only I could paint--

but then, in a manner--I just did using words instead of canvas.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Updated Huck Finn?

Really? They can do that?  They can change a classic to make it politically correct?

I read the following in an article titled: Huck Finn will lose the "N" Word. I was interested in the reasoning behind the change--but I wonder what other classics will be next? And maybe as a result history itself will be rewritten?

Revisionist history and political correctness have gone too far this time.
The problem with changing the words to make the book more acceptable is that the greatest aspect of Mark Twain's writing was that it recorded the style of the day. It was in context with where we were in America at that time. How people spoke, interacted, and thought. Changing that, to make it acceptable to modern readers loses historical value. It is the same as retouching an old photograph to remove or add items or people and dubbing over an audio track.  Twain's writing is an image and a sound-byte into real America at that time.  It is gritty and real and we need to hear and read it to understand how far we have come in America in terms of accepting ethnic diversity.

I agree with the online dictionary that this word has become probably the most offensive word in English. There are lots of mundane and offensive words that I have, sadly, been known to use and abuse--but I would never consider using this particular word in any manner and I even refuse to write it for fear of the consequences and contextual extractions which might result. 

That written, however, I believe we lose more than we gain and future generations of Americans will lose touch with the real, earthy America of which Twain wrote. I also disagree with their updating of the word to reflect "slave" as I do not believe it is the correct word to use. Slave was not a definition listed in the on line dictionary. But, it has been a long time since I read the book.

By the way--the word is also used in Gone with the Wind--although not to the same extreme that Twain wrote it.  I wonder if that book is next to be revised.

Next, someone will be trying to update the language in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

World to End in May: On Prophets and Prophecy

As if we hadn't just started the year, now religious groups are predicting that there will be no Christmas in 2011.

In the AP article: End of Days in May? Christian group spreads word.  Yes, it seems that even after the movie 2012 predicted the end of life last year, now Christian groups want to scoop even the Mayan calendar.

So May 21, 2011 is it then.  Well--so was 1984, and 1844 and a lot of other times in between have been touted as the date of the end of the world.

Our world has so many prophets in it these days--it is hard to tell who is really a prophet and who is a fraud. Remember, true prophet has a 100 percent accuracy rate. I wonder what the accuracy rate is for the group predicting the end of the world on May 21st. You know the old saying--even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.

Good could  from this--but, more likely, nothing good will result and on May 22nd--these people will be lumped together with other Christians by the world and we will all be considered crackpots.

And I was just thinking the year had gotten off to such a great start!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Back to the Grind--some not so random thoughts

Wow--I really felt it yesterday afternoon.

The holiday let-down hammered my about 2:30 PM.

Back at work, the holidays behind us and nothing but a long winter ahead of us for the next 75 days until Spring arrives.  At least the daylight is growing longer every day and we are soon coming out of the "dark times."

I was even thinking of getting my passport renewed so that I could go to St Lucia later this year!

I've been putting that one off for a long time.

I was in the bookstore one day last week looking at Caribbean travel guides--but decided not to buy the 400-page volume with only about 20 pages devoted to St Lucia.

Soon enough it will be warm.

I think I will make my reservations for Spring training in Sarasota soon. That is March at least.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Musings - January 3, 2011

1. Happy New Year--I bet you haven't heard that before.

2. I have had most of the past week off to relax and do things around the house. It was nice.

3. Football is a fickle sport. The Ravens certainly did not deserve to win, but as it turns out, the Bengals did not deserve to win more.

4. With the arrival of the new year--we have begun to remove the Christmas decorations. The Snow Village has been returned to its boxes in the attic and the exterior lights rare down. We still have two trees decorated though--because the Christmas Season is not over.

5. I had the unique opportunity this past week to build a bird house with Ethan. It was good to smell the newly cut pine in the garage again.

6. Well--it is back to work or school for all of us normal working people. Ugh.

7. New Congress this week--wonder what they will do to us in the name of trying to make things better.

8. Banned words for 2011? Check out the list at Lake Superior State University. Viral and epic are two words on the list.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hockey Night in the House

Who would have ever thought that it might be too warm for hockey, outdoors in Pittsburgh, PA in January? But that is the way it almost happened as the afternoon game between the Capitals and the Penguins was moved to 8PM for hopefully colder temperatures and better ice.

It was a great night for the guys--jerseys, hockey, and beer.
But, alas, the Capitals wanted the game more than the Penguins and the final was Caps 3 - Pens 1. Although it was fun to see the Penguins goalie, Fleury, get an assist on the lone goal.

It was fun to relax with the guys and talk some trash though.

Patrick and I wore our game jerseys to see a movie earlier in the day and ran into some Capitals fans--the meeting ended graciously with handshakes all around. Good sportsmanship is essential at all levels of play--from the ice, to the stands, to the sofa.

We did muse, during the game, that this time next year if there is a lock-out in the NFL and a players strike in the NBA that hockey could be the only professional game in town.  You really have to hand it to the owners of the NFL teams--the are certainly trying to find a way to strangle the golden goose.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

And so it begins--

Full of promise, hope, and a clean slate.

2010 was quite a year and I know that 2011 will follow closely on its heels.

There will be changes and events that we cannot even begin to imagine.

As we slide across the threshold into the new year--stop for a moment and count your blessings. Hug your family. Kiss your significant other or spouse. Sip some wine to wash away the tears of last year and let the bubbles lift your spirit as we head off into the unknown.

And so for family and friends that I could not be with--and for those with whom I am present

Happy New Year 2011
God Bless You and Your Family
Tonight and all Through the Year
My Zimbio
Top Stories