Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reflections of Memorial Day

The family gathered and we played and we ate.

We ate a lot.

Dinner on Memorial Day 2011
The day was hot, the water perfect and we gathered to celebrate the beginning of summer and to remember the service men and women who lost their lives in service to this great nation.

Country music was blaring on the radio and the day would have been perfect had only the Orioles been able to stop their losing streak. But they weren't.

Ethan Airborne off the Board
It was a full day of family and swimming and the pool got a great workout.

It was fun and hot and trying.  Jax took a header going into the house on a slippery floor.  Lucas again demonstrated his interior design abilities by rearranging the chairs, and Ethan really got the knack of swimming.

How Many Pool Toys do We Need?

 The drink of the day is something we call an Almond Joy--coconut rum and diet Sierra Mist. It goes down a bit too easy for some in the crowd.

Memorial Day 2011.  God Bless America.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Begins--Finally!

I decided to skip the Monday Musings this week--and to enjoy the holiday and write a bit about the weekend.
Lucas The Designer

The pool received a welcome work out yesterday.  I had it heated to 84 degrees and the water was simply awesome.

The day was bright and by the end of the day the entire family had visited to partake of the fruits of summertime. The pool has been open since late April but we just have not, with one exception, been able to spend much time and enjoy it.

Me in the Pool
Even I got to enjoy the pool--which was nice--since we had been busy planting and cleaning around the yard for the entire morning.

The heat of the day was very enjoyable after weeks of cold and dreary days--and today, with temperatures into the 90's promises to be even better. 

The surprise of the day was Lucas--who it seems has a knack for decorating--he spend quite a while arranging the three brightly colored Adirondack chairs that we keep ready for the grandsons. He never did seem to get them exactly the way he wanted them--maybe he will do better later today.

And so, as today begins with the promise of summer heat, the thoughts of vacations and time off and excitement also begins to build. The planned trip to St. Lucia is becoming more of a reality and is not only weeks rather than months away. And there are other trips and vacations planned.

Summertime--bring it on!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Coffee Crisis Escalates

It is amazing how a seemingly minor thing can really cause the day to get off to a bad start.

Coffee--or the lack of it.

As I rolled out of bed this morning Chris announced she was having an issue with the Keurig--it wasn't brewing. I made a glib comment about her always having problems with the electronics in the house and proceeded to the kitchen where I fully expected the sometimes temperamental machine to function perfectly.

It didn't.

It sat there humming--it sounded constipated.  But no coffee was coming out.

I ran through the short troubleshooting checklist--put it back together and expected success.



Time to bring in the serious guns--the white vinegar for descaling.

It remained constipated at which point Chris told me to go out for coffee since we were out of whole beans to press the old tried and true coffee pot into service. And out I went. To the Super Fresh store which will be closing in July to buy beans.

When I returned home--the Keurig was still constipated--seriously.  Nothing was running through it.  I was beginning to thing it was dead.

And then the next crisis--"Bob, what did you do with the plastic part that I told you went to some coffee cup?"

"Well, since it was broken, I threw it out," I replied.  Turns out, it was a critical part of the back up coffee pot which allows the coffee to flow out of the basket and into the coffee pot.  Ugh!  It isn't even 8 AM in Sunday morning and already I have two worthless coffee brewers and no COFFEE!

The crisis level of the day was reaching Cuban Missile Crisis levels.

And then, magically two things happened--

Vinegar began coming out of the Keurig (finally) and I figured out how to make the old coffee pot basket drain onto the pot.

The mood in the house improved dramatically and the sense of impending doom subsided.  Coffee began brewing in the old coffee pot and the smell of coffee began to help with the caffeine deprivation that was beginning to cloud our reasoning capabilities.

As coffee happily brewed, we began the four-hour (yes, 4 hour!) descaling process in the Keurig.

That first cup of coffee never tasted so good--actually it was awful! I was immediately chastised for the beans I bought with the statement--And when did Super Fresh become a coffee boutique?

But it was coffee!  And it smelled good.

Crisis solved!  And the Keurig should be back in service about noon!

And it is only 9AM--what is the rest of the day going to hold?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Sunshine Memorial Weekend Kick-off

The storms of last evening--which were at times ferocious, have given way to a beautiful dawn with the birds singing and the breaking of a great looking day to start Memorial Day Weekend.

We spent last evening with friends--after I arrived at the airport I went directly to have dinner and wine with our friends to start the weekend--I can't think of any better way to begin any weekend, let alone a holiday weekend.

I am becoming a bit frustrated with Southwest Airlines though because it seems the on every flight lately they are securing the cabin for landing earlier and earlier--meaning I can't read my Kindle or play on my iPhone.  I'm not sure it is really necessary. Last evening they secured the cabin a full 55 minutes before we actually landed--they said due to turbulence, but there wasn't any turbulence.  And I am also noticing that the seat belt sign is staying on longer and longer--which means that people are beginning to ignore it more and more.

But it is the weekend--the pool is ready, the lawns need to be mowed, there is mulch to spread, a dump run to make, and I am sure groceries to shop for.

I would remind everyone that Memorial Day was a day to honor and remember those military men and women who died while in service to our country.  It used to be called Decoration Day. And while the scope of the remembrances have grown, and the activities associated with the day which really also marks the beginning of the best season of the year--Summertime, the holiday is a day to remember those who we have lost and to celebrate their accomplishments.

Last evening, as I was returning to Baltimore on the flight, the crew announced that there was an honored veteran of WW2 on the flight--and we all clapped and recognized his service. It was great the way the entire cabin of the aircraft took a moment to remember the accomplishments of this veteran while he was still alive.

I am still haunted by an image I saw in the paper a few weeks ago of a small boy--4 years old I think, hanging onto his Dad's casket at the military funeral. He was saying good-bye in the only way he could. It was a touching image--and I could not find it, to share it.

And so, I am reminded--there are lots of families in our country this weekend who are mourning the loss of sons and daughters, and husbands and wives, and brothers and sisters--and we need to keep them all in our prayers, for their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their loved one is far greater and more real than many of us can imagine as we stuff ourselves with hamburgers and beer from the grill around the swimming pool. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stuck in the Airport on a Friday

The one hazard of traveling is the inevitable delays which sometimes occur. Today is just one such day. I am trapped I'm the Denver airport waiting to depart thinking I would get home tonight on time for happy hour.

Probably not going to happen.

My flight is delayed over an hour.


I know it happens. But why today at the start of a three day weekend?

A Reminder of Days Forgotten

It was in another time and in another place. The past and the present mingled yesterday during a retirement ceremony for a USAF colonel who retired after 25 years of service.

The day was sobered by the arrival of the remains of  25 year old soldier who was killed in Afghanistan about a week ago enroute to his final resting place in Centennial, Colorado--a juxtaposition of time and space. On hero retiring after 25 years of service with his wife and family present--the other hero returning home after giving his all for this nation to be greeted by his family and friends and remembered for his sacrifice.

And there in the middle was me.

For it was 25 years ago that both the colonel who was retiring retiring and the general who was the officiating officer at the retirement ceremony were my students at school at the now closed Lowry AFB, and remembered me and the school to everyone during the ceremony. I felt very conspicuous.

I was at the same time honored and felt old.

For I too have served our nation, retiring after 21 years of service--and I still serve in a different capacity.

It was a very different experience for me to see students remembering me at the end of their first and the  beginning their second career.

I recalled those days a quarter century ago--of teaching and managing courses for the Air Force and trying to be the best instructor and instructor supervisor possible, while also being creative with the curriculum. It was during the middle of my career in the Air Force.

As I listened to 25 years of service recounted for the assembled people there to celebrate the turning of a page of life, I reflected upon my own Air Force career--it seems so long ago and yet it was only yesterday. My family was still young--and I had dreams of making my mark on the world without fully realizing then that making a mark is not something done in a splashy way--but by what we do every day.

It was truly another time and another place.

Memories and reality. Celebration and mourning. 

It was a very different day, after all.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Out the Hotel Window - Denver May 2011

It is amazing what a difference a few months make in hotel window scenery.  Of course--this certainly isn't Sarasota, Florida and I am not headed to the beach later today.

The last time I was at this hotel, though, I was treated to a great view of the bus station--which isn't all that pretty and of course was a bit loud.These pictures are from last evening when I arrived--the big black building is directly in front of  my view--blocking out the horizon even though I'm nine stories up.

And last time I stayed in downtown Denver it was really cold and all I could do was dream of going to a baseball game--I did go to a hockey game then though and saw the current Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks lose to the the hometown Avalanche.  That was memorable since Vancouver will be playing for the Stanley Cup starting next week. I remember I could just see Coors Field in the distance.And longed for the Boys of Summer.

This trip was warmer and I got the chance to experience a baseball game. And I do love baseball.

The two hour time difference is killing me. 

And wouldn't you know it, there are two clocks in my room and I didn't notice they were an hour apart. So I felt bad when I hopped out of bed at 6:15 thinking I had missed my morning check in with Chris. Then I noticed the clock I set the alarm on was an hour behind.

So I actually got up early and had my first cup of coffee in my hand earlier than I had planned.

Important safety tip--make sure the clocks in the room have approximately the same time on them.

So, now I'm ready for the day--earlier than planned.  And the dawn has broken--another day is set to begin.  And after peaking out my hotel window, I'm ready for it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rockies Basball

Coors Field, May 25, 2011
So I am at the stadium on Denver watching the Rockies and Diamondbacks play baseball. It is 50 something degrees but hey, it's baseball.


The Rockies lost to the visiting Diamondbacks 2-1. But a favorite former Oriole did his a double--Ty Wiggington for the home-team.

Mist in the Trees

Driving to work yesterday morning, I looked out over the trees
Blue-tinged mist was hanging in the green leaves
As the humid day got off to a full throttle start.
The dampness was everywhere, palpable
the smells of the maturing springtime into summertime were sweet
to my nose as I noted that the fully now green trees
were standing tall against the gray dark rain swollen clouds
waiting to drench the land yet again with rain
which to vast areas of our country has reached damaging flood levels.
And I thought of the tornadoes which ravaged Missouri
my sister and her husband live there, not too near but still there,
the trees I am enjoying this morning would be reduced to toothpicks
in the face of these horrific storms.
The mist was still--hanging in the motionless air
reminding me that the days are longer now
a short couple months ago I would be driving to work in the dark
with my only my headlights to illuminate the world
I never would have noticed the mist hidden by the darkness of the night.
I snuck a final glance at the mist in the trees
as the road dove down taking me beneath the canopy
where I could no longer enjoy the rolling green
which stretched out to the horizon,
undulating, like waves upon the land
happy that the springtime was blossoming into summer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Poolside Frustration and Holiday Weekend Planning

It had a funny thought last evening as I was standing in a very long line at my favorite pool supply store on an emergency run to get the compound I needed to affix the couple of ceramic pool tiles that had fallen off during the winter. I had suffered though rush hour traffic to get to the store which is a few miles from the house and so I was not too amused by the long waits to check out.

It occurred to me that the line was far longer than usual and the store seemed to be amply staffed by eager assistants. Usually, there my be another one or two customers in the store on a week night, but last evening the store was full. The lines were ten people deep and the staff was clearly frazzled.

And then I understood--here it was, the Monday before Memorial Day and we were all trying to get the pools ready for that first big party of the summer. I turned to the guy behind me in line, who was loaded with pool stuff and made that very comment. He smiled and said, "You got that right, bub."

I felt validated.

To pool owners, Memorial Day is the beginning of the reason we all own pools anyway, to enjoy the summer sun in a cool piece of resort living right in our own backyard.

Pool ownership is not for everyone--it is a project that requires care and planning and effort and not a little bit of cost. But, I so enjoy my pool and watching the family enjoy it too.

But pool maintenance can be frustrating, too. After I left the pool store and began the trek through traffic back to home, I noted the clouds getting darker and more ominous. I really wanted to get the tiles done so I could mentally say that the pool was fully ready for the onslaught of family expected during the three day celebration of a holiday weekend. 

But alas--the rain started even before I got home. Not a lot of rain. but enough to make everything wet and to make doing the tiles an even more unpleasant job than it is to begin with. I decided to wait foer everythign to dry out--which it did by about 8pm.

But by then--I was at Best Buy and then Lowe's on another shopping mission and the pool work had slipped into today--ugh!

So, to borrow a line from Phineas and Ferb: I know what I'm going to do tonight!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Musings - May 23, 2011

1. Just as a reminder--I'm still here. The rapture didn't happen--I'm not sure if I'm happy or not.

2. I'm sitting here in front of a big bouquet of peony's--they are beautiful and fragrant. I picked them yesterday and they are still fresh looking today.

3. There was something not quite right when the phone rang as I was leaving the house 30 minutes before her scheduled arrival to retrieve Chris from her bus ride back from NYC. "Where are you?" she said. "Just leaving," I replied. "Well I'm already here so don't get a speeding ticket on your way." Really? 30 minutes early on a 3 hour 20 minute planned bus ride from NYC? I didn't know they made supersonic buses.

4. Just for the record--the O's beat the Nats yesterday 2-1 in a tightly played game that I was sure would wind up in the loss column for the Orioles.  Miracles happen and for the first game in a long time, the relievers did not give up a run. The game ended on a dramatic strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play. Which was very exciting, more so in that it was the second such play of the game.

5. Sitting around the pool last evening with a bottle of wine and dinner was probably the best meal I've enjoyed in over a week.

6. A busy week is planned--more travel, but the three-day weekend at the end will definitely be welcomed.

7. May is winding down.  It is amazing how quickly the month seems to be soaring along. All too quickly summertime will be upon us--and then gone.

8. The stinkbug plague is back. We found stinkbugs yesterday. They all met with a watery grave.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Warm Temperatures and Nice Evenings

I sat outside last evening and enjoyed the end of the day.  Good friends, wine, and munchies.  Even an occasional mosquito--which brought out the bug spray for the first time this year.

I watched the bats come out to play in the twilight sky and enjoyed the trees fully covered in deep green foliage.

It was the perfect ending to a great day.

It had been a day of mowing and cleaning and working outside even pulling up an occasional weed form the gardens. One of those early summer days which we usually have a few more of by this time of the year--but this year has been cool and rainy.

First Swim of the Season
Patrick, Tina and Chewie
I checked out the herb garden and determined that it actually does receive good sunlight during the middle of the day--which is why the weeds seem to be doing better than the cilantro and rosemary.

The most frustrating part of the day was my continuing battle with Comcast to ensure consistent internet service--they were having some issue and my internet kept dropping out, which really wasn't a problem because of everything else I was doing--but it was an annoyance.

We sat around late into the evening chatting about the day and the week and life. A fitting end to a day which saw sun, blue skies, and 80 degrees all on a weekend for a change.

Oh and did I mention that the pool even saw some action, too. Yeah--it has been open a month and this was the first swim.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Flowers of Springtime

Peony in the Evening Light
The flowers of late Springtime are now in bloom around the yard.

I love the smell of the peony, its sweet perfume like fragrance is intoxicating and the blooms are complex and full. I think many other flowers try to imitate the peony in terms of bloom fullness or fragrance--but truly, the peony is the the king--if only the stalks were stronger and they would stand straight up.

I can almost smell the one that is in the picture that I took last evening.

And the cascading clematis which we planted last year has not disappointed, either.

Its blooms are full rising up from the ground in a dark blue/purple mound.

I am enjoying the Springtime more and more this year as I experience again the rebirth of summer--and everyone knows that I am a summer-type of guy.

Clematis Mound May 2011
I am happy to be in Maryland--it snowed in Denver this week--twice.  Who really needs all of that in threir lives.

Although, I am sitting here waiting for the morning temperature to rise above 60 degrees so that I can begin my outside work after a week of storms and rain.

There is so much to do.

Butt the flowers make it enjoyable because every so often I can stop and enjoy their blooms and experience the moment just marveling at how diverse and awesome the world is--if only we allow ourselves to see it a bit.

I note that the magical temperature of 60 degrees has been met--and so it is off to labor in the yard and do the business of the day.

Happily--because good weather and the weekend are not terms which usually go together around here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thoughts and Musings

A home improvement project will always take twice as long as the guy thinks it will. Sadly, it will take four times longer than the wife thinks it should.

Why do cats always puke up their hairballs on the carpet and not the wood floor?

Who knew that my dog would hate getting her feet wet--except when she is playing in the stream behind the house.

Why did the house sound so empty when I came home yesterday--and it was the same as when I come home any other day? But I knew I was alone yesterday.

Darkness is not the opposite of light, it is the absence of light.

Cold is not the opposite of heat, it is the absence of heat.
Why do I worry about losing seconds when I am driving, but don't worry about losing hours when I am home?

New technology is fun--until it becomes enslaving.

Who developed that new car smell and why do we all seem to be infatuated by it?

We do not appreciate our health until we lose it, nor our lifestyle until it changes. I need to be content where I am and enjoy the now.

So what's wrong with dreaming about having a dive boat in Key West?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Storms and Sun

This week has been stormy, rainy, and generally gloomy.

And that assessment is not only for the weather.

As I write this, one member of our extended family, Troy, is recovering in a hospital in NYC after having extensive surgery in his battle with cancer. And this is not minor surgery. But he is doing well--and the surgery had better than expected results.

So this week has not been a lot of fun.

I know the sun still shines above the clouds--I have witnessed the impressive spectacle of breaking through dark clouds and into bright sun and blue skies. We need to keep ourselves above the storms in the sunlight.

But it is hard.

Slogging through rain drenched streets and paths makes me wet.

And muddy.

It is hard to keep the mud off when it splashes everywhere--and so I have determined that being in bright sunshine is a state of mind which transcends the mud on my shoes.

But every time I look down--I see the mud and forget the sunshine.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Early Morning in the Yard

She stood, still, along the edge of the lawn in the dawn light. Her dark eyes were locked on Makayla and me as we went about our business a short distance away.

She was so still--not even her ears twitched--every one of here senses were focused upon the dog.

Makayla noticed her standing there. Her brown coast almost fading into the green underbrush where the lawn turns into forest.  I thought for a moment she might begin barking and wake the neighbors--but as she was on a leash (for which I was thoroughly grateful), she turned away without making a scene at the deer--still frozen in place.

I know that had she not been on a leash--the chase through the brambles would have been on resulting in hours of cleaning her coat of the prickers she would have picked up. The deer would have crossed the stream and up the hill faster than Makayla could follow--but the noise of the barking dog and crashing deer would have broken the stillness of this early morning wake up slowly time.

I probably would have just taken her to PetSmart for a grooming.

I truly was amazed at Makayla's lack of interest.

I was more fascinated by this creature on the edge of the yard than she was--they are so beautiful when seen alive and not the mangled corpses strewn I normally observe along the highways.

She was so still--watching me watch her.  I wondered when she would make her move.

I looked down at Makayla and then back to where she was. Mesmerized.

I am glad the deer are still around the house--they remind me of my past and growing up in the rural area of Central New York State. Where I know life was simpler, the speed slower, and the wildlife more abundant.

The two-lane road that connected us to civilization was a lifeline and a a protection from the hectic life I now live.

I sometimes am reminded of those times by the scents--especially after the rain, like yesterday as the warm, humid air rolled up out of the small creek behind the house loaded with smells of plant matter and fresh growth.

I close my eyes, and remember standing in front of the house I grew up in looking across the fields to the hills in front of me and thinking they seemed so big (I had not yet seen the Rockies) and I had to conquer them (which I did). And seeing a herd of deer on the edge of the fields--just at the forest line.

And in the short time it took me to remember the sights and the smells, when I looked back to where the deer had been standing, so silently she had made her escape.

And I realized--so had I.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why are the Drawers Empty?

Mornings can be hectic--made more so when Chris is away. I gain a real appreciation for how many things just magically get done in my life--like laundry.  When the drawers get low, magically they seem to fill up.

It doesn't happen like that when she is away.

So this week I am again experiencing the joy of life alone--Orioles Baseball on the TV, laundry piling up in the hamper, cleaning the litter box, feeding the cats (why exactly do we have cats?), trying to keep a sense of normalcy in the face of abnormal activity.

The hardest part is trying to ensure Makayla doesn't have to goo too many hours without human contact--12 is about the longest I've ever pushed her bladder.

Wednesday could be a problem!  E-day.

Ethan may have to take a ride with me to fetch the dog. He hates going places after school. He would prefer to eat and veggie out after a hard day of Kindergarten learning.

I don't blame him, either. I don't really like going out after work. I become the world's greatest homebody.

Absence makes the heart grow finder, they say.

I find that I just have to work harder.

Oh, and did I mention the blasted rain? What another downer on life.

But the pile in the hamper isn't going to magically disappear this morning--so I need to get moving or the cats will probably take matters into their own paws and the dog may revolt.  I sense a coup coming on.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Musings - May 16, 2011

1. Every week has its own rhythm--and this one is already off to a fast start.

2. It is sad that the weather has been too cold for pool activities--it is open and wanting people to play in it, but at 65 degrees--it is just a tad (OK 15 degrees) too cold.

3. Dogs are constants in life--they love and then they love some more no matter what craziness is going on around them.

4. The lawn got mowed yesterday despite the weather forecast--and I got sunburned, too.

5. The swing set saw some brief use yesterday--it still took me longer to trim around it than the kids played on it.

6. It was youth Sunday at church yesterday--how can I bottle some of that energy for later use?

7. Trains, planes, automobiles and buses--the winner in the NYC round-trip is: Bus at $17 each way. That is less than the tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Staying busy

So the question is..how do you keep a three-year old busy while working on the pool?

Let him chase the pool cleaner. Was good for almost 15 minutes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Something to brighten a gloomy day

So the day is pretty much a washout.

Rainy and overcast.

I saw this iris in my garden changing its whole area from gray to color and I realized that while the skies may be rainy and overcast, we still carry sunshine in our hearts.

Friday, May 13, 2011

O's Fantastic Finish

I just have to say--I had the joy of watching a 12-inning baseball game that lasted less that three hours Thursday evening which saw my beloved Orioles come from behind in the bottom of the 12th inning to win.

I saw, for the first time in my life live--two pitchers throw shut-outs for nine innings and neither got the victory or loss.  They were magnificent--although, and I'm biased, the Oriole pitcher Zach Britton was better facing only two batters over the minimum of 27 for 9 innings.

The game was scoreless through 11 innings.

And short--efficient and crisp.  I have suffered through nine-inning games that took longer to play.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Random Photos from Mother's Day

I Know It is Here Somewhere

Sharing!  Remember?

Got It Together

I Am Smiling

Don't Make Me Laugh--I'm Near the Water


Mother and Children

Thinking of Sailing Away?

And Poppop gets Stuck Carrying the Driftwood
I was reviewing the many photos taken during our Mother's Day excursion to the State Capitol and decided to share some of them. They are all pretty good--but these were special. Chris took all of the ones that she is not in.  I took those.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zero Tolerance is an Abuse of Justice

There, I wrote it.

I have written it before, although  maybe not so direct in Zero Tolerance is for Computers.

In the name of zero tolerance, mindless people in positions of authority blindly apply directives without regard for what makes us different from any other animal or plant on the planet: the ability to reason.

Today, I submit an article from yesterday's Baltimore Sun titled: Two Easton lacrosse players suspended under zero-tolerance policies.

Let me summarize the article for you--but I encourage you to read it for yourself.

Two high school lacrosse players were found to have contraband--a pen knife and a lighter in their lacrosse gear bags during a search of the players for alcohol before a game.  The items, as confirmed by the coaches, were used to repair their sticks during matches.  The boy with the pen knife, Graham, was handcuffed and charged as a juvenile with possession of a deadly weapon and suspended for 10 days.  The other boy, Casey, was suspended for one day for having a lighter which was classified by the school as an explosive device.

Another Baltimore Sun article summarizes the situation as follows:
"Talbot County residents are no doubt sleeping easier after the school system used a policy of zero tolerance for deadly weapons to crack down on two high school lacrosse players who were caught with a small penknife and a lighter used to repair their sticks. However, we feel it important to warn them that they still may not be safe. After all, we hear that the baseball and softball players bring dozens of long, aluminum clubs with them to games and practices. For that matter, children as young as kindergarten routinely carry sharp, wooden sticks, and there are even special machines in virtually every classroom to hone these "pencils" to murderous points."

Here is the problem--on the sidelines of lacrosse matches coaches and officials considered these to be tools of the sport. In the equipment bags on the bus headed to the game they were considered contraband by a school official.

The ramifications of the actoons of the principal on these boys' future college careers could be significant, by having to report a suspension on their applications.  Further aggravated by the school superintendent's letter to Graham's parents which read: ""Given the severity of this violation expulsion is warranted," she wrote to the family in a letter in April. But because of extenuating circumstances, she said, she would allow the student to return to school after 10 days."


This is mindless application of rules without engaging the brain.

And people wonder why educators (think about this for a moment), are held in low esteem by many people.  The very people who should be advocating for the application of reason and common sense are the very ones mindlessly applying rules without thinking--is a pen knife in a lacrosse bag really a dangerous weapon for which a high school senior should be suspended? Especially when it is used as a tool and has been approved for use as a tool by other educators (the coaches)?  And then the superintendent writes a letter like what was written.

And don't forget--Graham served the entire suspension (missing valuable teaching time) while his parents attempted to appeal after being given erroneous information about not being able to appeal. So whether he is cleared or not and ultimately gets his record expunged--the punishment was served.

Casey is also working to get his record expunged, too. The school handbook, reportedly, does not define a lighter as an explosive device.

What is the message here?

Maybe going to college makes people dumber?

No the real message is that we need to be able to apply rational thinking to situations and not hide under a zero tolerance policy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reflections on Annapolis

Annapolis Statehouse
Standing on the very end of the piers Sunday where Annapolis drops off into the river and out into the bay, I was reminded of the quaint beauty of the capitol city of Maryland. Looking back on the Capitol Building as the dark clouds were gathering behind it, yet it was still in bright sunshine we a scene to remember--and we snapped enough images of it to hopefully remember it anyway.

The streets were crowded with shoppers and walkers and the occasional Navy-whites clad academy students making their way through the crowd.

It was pleasant.

The traffic was snarled, as it usually is but no one seemed to mind to much--that is just the way it is. Annapolis is like that. Don't go there is you worry about getting snarled in traffic--you will.

Sunday, Mother's Day, a day to remember.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Musings - May 9, 2011

1. A day to remember Mother's.  And I realized--for a lot of people there is pain associated with the day. Raw emotions of loss and emotions of not being able to have.  Yet we are all children and it is a necessary time to remember Moms.

2.  A week later and he is still in the news--Osama bin Laden-that just tells me how much he affected all of us in his hatred for our way of life and the threat he posed.

3. I saw the locust trees were in bloom along the road and I remarked to Chris that I hadn't seen them around the house yet. But, as we returned last evening after the day in Annapolis, I smelled their sweet fragrance on the breeze and knew that while I hadn't seen them, they were still there.

4. Chris and I remarked while driving yesterday that the leaves have fully filled in the blank spaces of the trees. Spring has done its job and we are ready for summer. If only the temperatures would cooperate.

5. I have to brag a bit, as Chris and I were driving to Annapolis yesterday with the top down on the convertible, she looked at me and remarked: "I love this car on days like this."

6. I love the car every day--yesterday was just the icing on the cake.

7. Another reflection on yesterday's adventure: the day had every marking of a catastrophe in the making, nine people in four different vehicles with occupants on four different missions all coming together in a small crowded city to spend time together shopping and wandering around. BUT--amazingly, it worked, really well. Congrats to all. And dinner was a good choice, too. Next year, let's try to be a bit more green! But, maybe it worked because everyone knew they could pull out at anytime and no one felt trapped in a bad situation they could not extricate themselves from. And as it turns out--it wasn't bad.

8. Just a note on the Orioles. That sucking sound coming from Camden Yards is the Orioles season going down the drain unless they can figure out how to score more than 2.3 runs per game (last three games). For the season, the pitchers ERA is 4.77 and the batters are only scoring 3.91 runs per game--someone tell me how that is going to work out at the end of the season. I'm not a genius--but I can see that the math does not add up.

9. Discovered while shopping yesterday: there is one thing I do like to shop for and that is wine. Especially when samples are offered!

10. Coolest thing discovered when shopping yesterday--Himalayan Mineral Salt--it is a nice shade of pink.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Annapolis on Mother's Day

A Mom is Always "On Call"
The crew was together enjoying the day. I got to buy some wine as we enjoyed the city.

Cameras flashing and the mothers in the group were enjoying their special day.

It was a beautiful day

Mother's Day - 2011

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers everywhere.

I had the experience of going to the mall yesterday to get a gift for my love and the mother of my children--and I can report that even though I was there early--the mall was under siege by hundreds of other men, many with small children, who were similarly trying to find the perfect last minute gift.

The store I was in actually was using a sign in sheet to control the crowd and ensure fair service.

I got a bit behind the power curve this year and I was reminded why I like internet shopping better.  No lines and I don't have to leave home.

But I procrastinated.


Even so, happy Mother's Day to all mothers everywhere.

I hope your day meets all of your expectations.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


What is it about Saturdays?

They seem to be full of so much promise and potential that I hate to waste even a moment. But then, I also love the idea that I don't have to be anywhere in the morning and can watch the Today Show, drink coffee, rread the paper, surf the web, and take a couple hours to just soak it all in befire charging off on some mission to buy stuff to complete a project and keep myself busy the rest of the day.

Of course if i get bored, I can always go shopping. Like that is something I would ever look forward to doing.

But I am lucky.

The rhythm of my week is generally Monday to Friday with weekends off. So I can plan my weekend inactivity.

Others, do not have such a luxury. Someone has to work weekends, and nights. Their weekly rhythm is very different and perhaps changes every week or so. I wonder how they adapt to the differences and if they feel as if the world does not consider their contributions since they are outside the normal view of work and life? Although--from my experience being on vacation a couple of weeks ago I can report that shopping on a Tuesday is far more pleasant than fighting the Saturday crowds.

So as I sit here planning my Saturday, oblivious to the sacrifices of those who allow me to be relaxed and complacent, I need to pause for a moment to consider the health care professionals, the police and firemen, the military and civilians in the DoD who are standing guard or who are on watch protecting our borders, and even the postal person who will bring the mail later today so I can get my weekly edition of Time magazine before it goes on sale in the stores--I have it good.

The birds are cheering the dawning of the day outside my window--so I really need to get moving.

I love Saturdays.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Insurance--Legally Required Rip-off

I've been on a slow burn at my insurance company for a while now. It seems that despite the economic realities of recessions and declining income that insurers have decided that since insurance is required--home and auto, they can continue to raise rates.

I was shocked to find that my home insurance increased $200 last year AND they tacked on a surcharge for having a "history" of claims.  Really? Isn't that what insurance is for? Yes, we were vandalized in 2008--robbed even, although officially is it listed as being vandalized. We were the victims! And we are still being victimized--by the insurance company. That is the only claim I've filed on my homeowners insurance that I have had with them for over ten years.  Someone needs to explain how a single event becomes a history of claims.  Maybe a history of "claim" but there certainly can be no plural.

It really bugs me when I see ads on TV for my insurance company--and then realize that's what they are doing with my premium money--buying airtime to increase the customer base--which increases the risk and ultimately makes my rates continue to increase.

I called them to inquire about the surcharge and the rate increase. You know that I received that standard "blah, blah, blah" answer.

Here is the rub--when I surveyed the other insurers--I couldn't do enough better in savings to make it worthwhile to go through the pain of changing from the company which has insured my family for more than 30 years.

But they have broken the faith with me.

Then my auto insurance renewed.  Ugh. Another modest increase because the annual mileage on one of my vehicles increased.  Why does it never seem to go down?

I surveyed other auto insurers and found that my policy is the most aggressively priced--even Geiko couldn't beat it--if you can believe that.  And State Farm was incredibly high by comparison.

And so I'm trapped--stuck with a company which I increasingly do not trust and would dearly like ot stop doing business with, but economics keeps us together.

Kind of like China buying so much US debt--we would love not to have China buying our debt--but then we keep creating debt.

As long as insurance is required, I will continue to be a policy owner--but I will continue to aggressively search for he better deal. It is out there, somewhere!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

It is the fifth of May--and a huge holiday for North America.

It is my favorite foreign holiday--but in reality it should be a US holiday as well because of what our Mexican brothers did for all of us in throwing off the chains of colonial aggression in 1862.

Read about it at Cinco de Mayo.

Happy Cinco de Mayo--and may all your tequila be smooth.

Outdoor Living

It finally happened this year.

Martha Stewart Lily Bay Outdoor Living
We found an outdoor living suite which we both agreed upon and in a moment of insanity or lucidity, we purchased the outdoor living furniture of our dreams to install under the deck next to our beloved, albeit underused, tiki bar.

As some know, it arrived yesterday at the house, unannounced, in three huge boxes which I needed to zip home and get out of the rain. Yes it is outdoor furniture so that dampness should not be a problem, but I hate playing with wet Chinese cardboard. Yes, it was made in and shipped from China.

The area looks fantastic and if we can keep the mosquitoes away long enough to actually enjoy sitting out there when the temperatures finally begin to stabilize somewhere above 75 degrees, I can imagine bottles of wine consumed with friends under the dancing light from the tiki torches as the evening falls and the bats begin playing in the air above the open space the is the pool.

It was too cold last evening to enjoy the newness for more than just a few minutes.

But my mind was full of visions of the future and the pool is open. All that is missing is--warmth!

But summer is coming! At least that is what the calendar says and we are ready for its arrival a bit more each day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cindy's on a Tuesday Night

The local hang out in Elkridge, MD is the soft serve ice cream shop--Cindy's.

On warm summer evenings the lines can stretch to the street as the locals stand in line to get some ice cream or other frozen treat.

Last evening, Chris and I decided to make one of our infrequent visits to Cindy's along with the ever faithful Makayla.

The evening was warm--but not hot. Low humidity and of course the mosquitoes were not yet biting too badly.

It was busy--but not mobbed. I was amazed at how many young people there were--but Chris reminded me that the local school does not start classes until 9:30 AM.

The servings are ample and the prices fair.

We have been enjoying Cindy's for many years now and the opening of Cindy's in April is an event not to be missed. The closing in October is always sad as it precedes the coming winter.

But for now--Cindy's' is open and it is the place to be in Elkridge on a warm evening.

The kids were amazed at Makayla's fur last evening as they played and alternatively came over to enjoy her. And she them.

It is a sign that the season is changing from cold to warm. I was attired in shorts, sandals and a tee shirt--good mid-summer fare even though it is only May.

Cindy's--we enjoy it. And we can hang out with the other residents of Elkridge and enjoy a soft serve ice cream without the hassle.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Springtime Azalea

The flowers are out all over the area. Currently, it is the annual blossoming of the azaleas which is stealing the visual display around the area. The red, pink and white flowers are so pure in color and so full on the bushes that they look like brightly colored snow cones in the yards.

Mine are not large, but they do provide that splash of pizazz in the yard.

I have been fascinated by the size of the blooms and their pure white appearance.

All through the summer, I forget how beautiful they are during the springtime--but every year they remind me.
My white bush is just beautiful.

My red bush is just full of color sitting next to the already growing large hostas on the north side of the house.

I only wish they stayed in bloom all of the summer--the color is stunning!

And I am enjoying them every day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts of the Day - May 2, 2011 The Day After a Terrorist is Dispatched

Minutes later, more word came over the transom. "We've IDed Geronimo," said a disembodied voice, using the agreed-upon code name for America's most wanted enemy, Osama bin Laden. Word then came that Geronimo had been killed.  Time Magazine

And with those words--a ten year effort to eradicate the mastermind of 9/11 was concluded.

Said the president: "I think we can all agree this is a good day for America."  The Guardian

The woman who bin Laden tried to use as a human shield was killed in the U.S. raid, Brennan said. Whether she shielded him willingly is not known.   ABC News

What a brave terrorist! Afraid to face the sentence he exacted upon so many people who died far braver that he did.

"Thinking about that from a visual perspective, here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound; living in an area that is far removed from the front; hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield," Brennan told reporters. "I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years."  Channel 4 Nashville

And then the Toby Keith song: Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue

Hey, Uncle Sam put your name
At the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty
Started shaking her fist
And the eagle will fly
And it's going to be hell
When you hear Mother Freedom
Start ringing her bell
And it will feel like the whole wide world
Is raining down on you
Brought to you courtesy
Of the Red, White and Blue

Oh, justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
You'll be sorry that you messed
With the U.S. of A.
Cause we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way

Or maybe a bullet in your head!

Monday Musings - May 2, 2011

1. Yesterday was May Day -- a holiday in much of the world which Americans do not celebrate, yet!

2. When I went to bed last night, I had no idea what a band of brave American special forces had been doing earlier in the day. I was awakened about 10:30 PM to the sound of the telephone and Patrick telling me to turn on the TV because the President was going to make an announcement that Osama Bin Laden was dead. About an hour later--he did in fact announce the demise of the mastermind of 9/11.

3. As I watch the news about the death of Bin Laden--I am amazed at the spontaneous demonstrations that occurred across the United States--he is, after all, perhaps the most hunted criminal in the history of the United States.

4. We planted our herb garden yesterday, dodging raindrops to get the plants into the ground.  But, we got the plants planted as are anticipating fresh herbs very soon.

5. As we sat out by the pool Saturday evening with the grandsons, both Chris and I remarked on how great the area looks with the pool open as opposed to closed. Even though we have not been in it yet--the promise of fun in the sun is powerful.

6. Amazingly, the Orioles have climbed back to .500 at 13-13 and remain within striking distance of the hated Yankees. Even better--we are third in the AL East--crawling out of the cellar during the weekend.

7. The swing-set got its first workout, the boys played on it for all of about 15 minutes the other day. I've spent more time than that disassembling and reassembling it--not to mention transporting it.

8. It is going to be a cool and rainy week--a good week for indoor activities.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dynamic Duo Create Memorable House Concert Evening

Jill Sobule at Cellar Music
Friday evening, Cellar Music presented a formidable one-two punch of singer-song writers Ellen Cherry and Jill Sobule in what proved to be an enjoyable evening of music, wine and camaraderie. The venue continues to be an excellent and intimate place to enjoy music.

The crowd on Friday night was really into the music and allowed the performers to really highlight their abilities and their work. Both of the song writer-performers interacted well with the crowd and the closeness of the setting highlighted the well developed talents of both performers.

The wine, other drinks and the munchies that everyone brought also make this venue as spectacular place to interact with singer-songwriters. It is clear why the home concert venue is a superior place to support the arts--it is an enjoyable experience, not at all like being crammed into a stadium designed for sports activities and then trying to enjoy a performance at binocular range. Being able to interact with the performers on a personal level is what makes it all work.

ellen cherry
Ellen Cherry was a true surprise and a joy. She was the opening act of the evening and performed a single set of her own music. She has a clear, strong voice and her guitar work compliments her song style. Her music is very deep, and she touts the historical themes in her music which make her songs very meaningful and at times poignant.

Her guitar work was easy and smooth. The stories she told about each of her songs provided a great introduction to the songs--and her vocal work did not disappoint. I enjoyed her clear, strong voice coupled with her direct interaction with the crowd. She was a pleasure to meet and her music and personality fit very well into the house concert format.

Jill Sobule, the main act of the evening, performed two sets and demonstrated an innate ability to interact with the people at the concert. She has an easy personality which comes through in her music. Probably the highlights of the evening were the times when she got the crowd to sing along--even on songs that until she performed them, were unfamiliar to everyone.
Jill Sobule

Jill has a great sense of humor and her music reflects her unique perspective on the world. Her style is real--strong and self-assured. She interacted well with the people assembled to hear her music. She covered one song that she used to get the crowd singing along with her--and it worked very well as nearly everyone sang along with her. I think she truly enjoyed the response her music received from the crowd and she continued to make the evening an interactive experience through nearly every one of her songs.

Her songs speak to the pain and trouble she has experienced in her life. Her broken heart and the scars that she carries. She expresses her feelings in a sarcasm that while designed to make people smile or even laugh, but is is a thin veil for deeper hurt hidden in the song lyrics.

A great evening and a big thanks go to the hosts--Cellar Music--keep them coming, this was by far the best one yet.
My Zimbio
Top Stories