Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reflections of July

Paul Simon wrote a song many years ago titled "April Come She Will" which recapped the months of the year from April to September. The phrase he used for July went: "July, she will fly and give no warning to her flight."

July, arguably my favorite month of the year, has indeed flown by in supersonic fashion.

July 2011 came complete with five weekends--I was home only one and I had just returned from a two week trip for that one. Of 31 nights in July, I was away for 17 of them in three very different places--Ithaca, the Caribbean West Indies, and Ocean City.

Wow. And I think I even got the lawn mowed somewhere in there, too.

Last evening, we has a fantastic dinner at a marina side restaurant in Ocean City which really capped the month of July. It was an awesome way to wind up the best month of the year.

And alas, July has flown by and we are standing on the doorstep of August.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Notable quote

"No gramma, I'm not bored. I like picking the dead skin off your legs. It males me feel like a truck mechanic." - Ethan, while laying on the floor beneath Chris' legs.

We were having a quiet afternoon of napping and chilling at the time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Ocean City, MD

From Sea to Ocean

What experiences I have had during the past couple of weeks. From enjoying the Caribbean West Indies to returning to life at work and now spending time on that small strip of Maryland on the Atlantic Ocean shore known as Ocean City.

The view from the condo is fantastic, looking right out onto the ocean. I am sitting here listening to the waves crash just over the dunes and to the sounds of sea birds calling to each other.

It has been a very long time since I have been in Ocean City. Maybe more than 10 years. And I am such a beach guy, too.

I had forgotten how pretty the low sand dunes are as they strive to protect the land from the sea and provide a foothold for shore life.

The long open beach goes on seemingly forever until it slips beneath the waves of the unstoppable force that is the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

The air is clear, although it is already hot as the day is going to be a scorcher.

And I have escaped, once again. If only for a weekend.

What could be better?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Successes and Failures coupled with Ups and Downs

It has been a bit of a wow week, as I shake off the remnants of island time and get back into the grind and pace that is my life.

I have been able to celebrate successes with friends--and today I am celebrating another success as one of our people departs for a new assignment. I can say that I am a bit envious of his good fortune--which he totally made for himself, but that he and his wife are in a place to pick up their lives and go for their dream is reassuring and at the same time reminds me how entrenched I have become in this place where I live.

I confess, I really did not want my recent vacation to end. Often, I get to the point on vacations where I am ready to go home and leave the fun behind. Not so this year. I was in no way ready to step back into the complexities of my life. I could have used an additional week, or maybe a year.

And then, upon my return, I was greeted with a personal failure of sorts. One that I knew in my head was probably going to happen, but that I had convinced myself that this time--maybe this time, the outcome would be different and restore my faith in the system I work within.

But alas, I got the same narrow-minded response that I have come to expect and that I alluded to in a blog I published on September 25, 2010 about Plug-n-Play Leadership: The Wrong Answer.

But that is my own personal axe to bear. (It is axe to bear and cross to grind or the other way around?)

It just still hurts a lot when I take a big personal risk, lay it all out there and then feel as if the paradigm du jour was blindly applied for the sake of easy out leadership.

It took a couple days, but I am mostly over it. Spending time reviewing and editing the images we captured on vacation has really helped. I have about 930 already loaded into Picasa, and there are about 100 more that need loading, but my camera had the wrong date and I need to get the date fixed before I load them into the main directory.

The sine wave of life then is full of ups and downs.

The key is whether the trend is up or down. I like mine to be in a trending up kind of position.

And it is.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Evening with Josh Groban

Last evening, Chris and I headed off to downtown Washington, DC to listen to one of her favorite singers give a concert at the Verizon Center.

Josh Groban, with the help of his warm-up act, provided us with a pleasant evening of music and entertainment. I admit, right up front, that I am not a fan of this big voiced tenor who also demonstrated a musical talent on both the piano and drum set. But, he is talented and gave an entertaining performance which kept the evening moving.

There were many more women than men in the audience. I had noted this as we entered the arena--but Josh also made a comment about the men in the crowd being good for the next two hours and possibly being rewarded for their acquiescence. I did find that humorous. He also made a reference to the high ticket prices we paid for the concert and promised to sing "his ass off" for us--or most of it, and he did.

Josh sings in multiple languages--last evening, in addition to english, songs were sung in spanish, portuguese, and italian--and possibly others but who really knows?

He did cover some other writers songs--most notable being Neil Diamond when he covered "Play Me." Of course, he also covered "You Raise Me Up" which is aptly arranged to suite his uniquely big voice and broad vocal range.

The stage and set was interesting and dynamic. He used two stages during the performance--one in the middle of the audience, the other being the main stage. This afforded him better access to the attendees and showcased his style. His supporting orchestra was also fabulous.

As the concert ended, promptly after the promised two hours, I was left wising for a few more songs.

All-in-all, it was an enjoyable evening with good music in a first class concert setting.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Train Wreck Coming

I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering that will ensue if the President and Congress cannot come to an agreement soon on the debt ceiling impasse.

The game of budgetary chicken is not good for the country, is not good for jobs, and begins to relegate the US to the status of a third world country.

We CANNOT continue to spend more than we take in AND we must make good on the promises already made--such as social security and other entitlements. But, we must continue to operate the government. It is funny that none of us want big government in our lives, but yet we continue to vote for things that demand big government to operate, like Obama-care.

Cutting the federal workforce is also not the answer because too many things have been laid on the federal government through the social engineering programs of the past. Services will be destroyed for those who can least accommodate less availability of service like the disabled and the elderly.

Yeah--it is all gonna hurt--but it will hurt all of us a lot more if the US defaults.

I believe we, the citizens, need to write (email) our congressional representatives and the President to urge them to find a solution and a compromise today!  Before we wind up like Greece.

Remember--we the people are not powerless. We elected everyone in congress and the President as well. We must hold them accountable (as specified in The Constitution) for properly managing the finances of the country.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Catching Up--another post-script

The problem with vacation, it seems, is in trying to catch up after the time away is over.

Whether it is with house-related activities such as the lawns, gardens, pool or wash; or with work-related issues it seems that catching up after a vacation at times takes more effort than it should.

I also have hundreds (literally almost a thousand) images to go through and decide how or whether to display and add to my Picasa web album.

But taking the pictures was fun, catching up on the job and house issues is not so much fun.

It makes me dizzy just thinking about all of the things that I now have to do, yesterday it seems.

But life goes in and so do we.

As the vacation fades into memory, it will not be so foremost in my mind. Sadly, we planned this vacation for over a year; and now it is over.  The two weeks away passed so quickly that I am very melancholy about the whole thing.

And so I am left with memories, images, and a few stories about the places I saw and the people I met.

I will definitely remember the 6 foot Goliath Grouper for a long time. And Albert our driver. And Marek our Captain. And Nevela the woman working the desk at Oasis Marigot who made so many arrangements for us.

But the pain of catching up on the email is also very real, too.

No good deed, it seems, goes unpunished.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Musings - July 25, 2011

1. Digital cameras make taking too many pictures too easy--now I have to go through them all and figure out which ones to keep.

2. There is no way than individual Americans should be expected to be fiscally responsible given the example being set by Congress and the President right now.

3. During the past two weeks, I had my cell phone off more than it was on and I found it to be a freeing experience.

4. With the final touchdown of the space shuttle fleet--how many years do you reckon it will be until another manned space mission is launched from US soil?

5. Which are more Americans concerned about: ending the NFL lockout or the looming US credit meltdown? Sadly, the NFL situation seems to be getting more press.

6. The tragedy in Norway with the shootings and bombing just sadly reconfirms the idea that in every society there are scary, sick people who
have no respect for others and who may do things which defy reason. I grieve for the Norwegians and for everyone everywhere who have lost loved ones in terrorist/extremist attacks on civilization.

7. In a snub to the traveling public--did you hear that as some excise taxes ended on airline tickets that all of the major US airlines raised fares to compensate--so the only ones benefiting from reduced taxes is big business rather than the traveling public. Nice.

8. Lesson learned from my recent vacation--I am not cut out to be a sailor. There was a reason that I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot when I was younger!

9. And here is the latest twist on Obama-care: since employers are going to have to provide health care benefits to part-time employees, employers are reducing or finding ways to force part-timers to leave. I wonder what impact this will have on the employment figures next year?

10. Speaking of big business scooping up profits--have you noticed that gasoline prices are not falling even though the government is releasing oil from the strategic reserves?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunsets of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines

One of the things we enjoyed the most during the vacation were the sunsets.

Almost every evening we enjoyed the sunset usually involving the Caribbean Sea and boats or birds.

And so, here are my favorite images and memories of the sunsets we enjoyed.

Marigot Bay, the second night, July 10, sitting on the dock down the hill from our villa.

3rd night--from the the dock in front of a restaurant in Marigot Bay, Cafe Margot on Monday evening July 11th

Sunset from Julietta's on the hill above Marigot Bay on Friday evening July 15th.

Also from Julietta's that same evening, just a bit later.

Fire in the sky, our second night at sea, July 17th, between St Vincent and Bequia

Third night at sea approaching Tobago Cays July 18th. This is of the clouds reflecting the sunset which is behind the camera.

Our last night at sea July 20, our next to last night of vacation provided a couple interesting sunset shots. We are in Cumberland Bay, St Vincent and the boat is anchored and tied to a tree.

also from July 20 in Cumberland Bay.

The final sunset image of our vacation, July 20 from Cumberland Bay, is appropriately birds flying away in front of a setting sun. Much as the sun was setting on our vacation and our sailing adventure and we were about to begin winging our way back to our home.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lessons from St Lucia - A Postscript

During the course of the vacation, we learned some things that we want to remember for the future. Some of them are funny--and some, not so.

We heard phrases and we talked to so many people who left lasting impressions on us--two that come to mind are Albert our taxi driver and Marek our skipper. But then there was George the water taxi man who was there to help us board the Javelot when it was looking very bleak late on that Saturday afternoon after we had been sitting on the dock all day since about 10am.

Things we learned include:

Island Time -- a phrase we used when things took longer than expected or didn't happen when we expected them to happen.

"It is not a competition" -- a phrase that our skipper Marek used to describe his fishing (and in truth it really means he wants to win!)

"It is an obligation" or "It is not an obligation" -- translates to a requirement or not a requirement, again a phrase used by Marek.

We learned to wait -- There was lots of waiting. Waiting for water taxis, waiting for boats, waiting in lines, and waiting to get someplace.

The journey can be as important as the destination -- Whether driving or sailing, or walking sometimes we need to realize that the destination is sometimes just a means to help us appreciate the journey.

TSA has no sense of humor when it comes to liquids and aerosols.

Banana trees only grow one bunch of bananas in their life.

Bananas are matured in big blue bags right on the trees.

Life is too short to move too fast (and you get really sweaty when you do)

A good day for navigation (sailing) may be a bad day to be a passenger!

We learned all about how cashews grow.

"It's perfect" -- Marek's response to how things were going.

Important information can be lost in translation--like I was trying to find out how far away we were from something and I learned how tall it was.

Happiness is not found in possessions, but rather it is a state of mind. We saw abjectly poor people who seemed incredibly happy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rainy Departure - Day 14

We arrived at the airport a bit early, but better early than too late.

It is raining, almost as if it is the tears of the island crying because we are leaving.

We are all a bit melancholy at the imminent departure from the paradise we have grown to know called St Lucia.

Our favorite taxi driver, Albert, delivered us safely once again to our destination.

It was a bit sad to say goodbye to him.

As it is sad to say goodbye to our vacation.

Sailing to Tobago Cays - Day 10 continued

Once we departed Bequia, we headed for Mustique--plan was for lunch in Basil's on the beach and possible a short walk around and then snorkeling in the pristine waters of the bay.

Lunch was really expensive and we realized we were paying for the novelty of being on Mustique and the 15 percent tax on top of the 10 percent service charge really added to the total bill. The scene outside the restaurant was nothing short of interesting with birds, a working port, and fantastic colors and sunshine.

But it was fun--and a good break in the middle of another day of sailing.

After the snorkeling and the fun it was back onto the boat to continue to our destination of Tobago Cays. There certainly is a lot of ocean/sea and the boat can really heel around at times making it impossible to read or even think. The captain caught a mackerel which will become dinner tomorrow.

Another nighttime arrival and so the surprise of the morning should be really awesome--I counted 17 other boats moored in the harbor as we were laying on the deck of the boat looking at the stars after dinner. The stars were beautiful and bright before the moon rose and added light to the scene.

The scenery from the boat continues to amaze and inspire. I never knew the Caribbean islands were so rugged and beautiful. Maybe I have been spending too much time in too flat Florida.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back in Marigot Bay - Day 13

We sailed into Marigot Bay after a hard 8 hour sail through rough open sea. It was a hard sail and for most of the trip all we could do was hold on and trust our captain to get us through.

In the end we arrived safely and happily back in one of our favorite spots and checked into a luxury hotel for our last evening on vacation. Tomorrow we must face the hastle of flying, customs, and TSA.

Tonight though, we enjoyed a quiet dinner, shared some sea stories with our captain before he had to depart, and reminisced about a fantastic vacation.

The suitcases are packed and repacked ready to be returned to the USA.

Cumberland Bay, St Vincent - Day 12 continued

We arrived in Cumberland Bay fairly early in the afternoon and had an enjoyable next to last day at sea.

Cumberland Bay on St Vincent is an interesting stop--and it is frequented by a few vessels, but it is only a collection of bars and clubs (like 5) along a stretch of black sandy beach. One of the clubs/bars is done up in a truly amazing Pirates of the Caribbean motif, and we went there to enjoy one drink and marvel at the collection of movie memorabilia.

The club was interesting, but as we were really headed off to the steel drum band club--which interestingly has no electricity and was lit only by candlelight. We enjoyed the steel drum band and some dancing--I had a couple dances with a local girl (she was nine and I was carrying her) while Chris had a couple dances with a local guy who was putting the moves on her--humorously enough.

Earlier in the day, we of course snorkeled, but the fuel in the bay made visibility difficult and the odor in and close to the water really detracted from the ambiance of the spot.

Even so, we did see some really interesting sights along the shoreline to include an octopus and a wall of fish in the water.

And of course we were treated to another fabulous sunset--and a group picture courtesy of the captain.

Sleeping on the boat proved to be tough--the smell of fuel plus rain making us close the cabin made for a very hot, close night. But as it was to be our sat night at sea, we were still saddened by the impending end to not only our sailing adventure, but our vacation as well.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Return to Bequia - Day 12

We awakened again in Admiralty Bay, Bequia after a night of successive rainstorms. When the boat is closed up--as it needs to be during rainstorms it becomes quite hot and sticky--for those used to air conditioned comfort, as we are, it can be somewhat challenging to sleep. It was closed up most of the night because the main ventilation is directly above the bed, where the rain was falling, and the secondary portholes were also delivering spray and rain onto the bed.

By morning, the rain had passed and we were again treated to the picturesque Admiralty Bay. Today though, we actually decided onto to snorkel and decided to dinghy in and walk the streets of Port Elizabeth.

We were able to do some shopping and Scott and I took a taxi up to Fort Hamilton which commands a strategic position over the harbor. I hd wondered which admiral the fort was named for and could not remember an admiral named Hamilton--but as it turns out the fort is named for our own Alexander Hamilton who, as I remembered from reading a recent biography, grew up in the West Indies and was born on the island of Nevis, which I believe is the name of the main island of Bequia.

After some wandering the streets it was time to return to our boat and begin making our way to our next stop, a short 16 miles away on the island of St Vincent.

As we were beginning to get underway, our captain discovered that one of our propellers was missing--so that saga becomes interesting. Thankfully, this is a sailing vessel first and foremost and a motorized vessel for navigating harbors second.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tobago Cays - Day 11

The adventure never seems to end. Another morning and another new port to view and explore. Today is a chance to really enjoy a destination.
the island in the image is of the island used during the filming of the second Pirates of the Caribbean where Captain Jack Sparrow was stranded.

Let me say it right now--I have never seen in person water the color of the water in Tobago Cays--rich turquoise against a blue sky is a picture post card memory.

We were snorkeling by 8AM, again, with turtles. We walked a small island looking for tortoises and iguanas, we found iguanas, everywhere, and some were not too happy to see us. One wanted to keep me off the path, but he heeded to reason when confronted with my diving flipper to make me seem larger than I am.

Snorkeling with the turtles was truly a highlight of the trip. At one point, I had 8 turtles in sight and s long as they are not approached too closely, they do not seem to mind the company. We spent a lot of time with the turtles and even came back after lunch for one last time with them.

But from turtles, we headed off to Horseshoe Reef for additional snorkeling both on the Caribbean side and then the Atlantic side of the reef. The snorkeling in the reef was also fabulous. The park--as it is of St Vincent and the Grenadines is accessible only by boat and is tricky to navigate into and out of. Once in Tobago Cays thought, everything is accessible by dinghy.

I learned how to get my snorkeling gear on in a dinghy with four other people and get out and then back into the dinghy at sea. It is humorous and hard. We tied the dinghy off at buoys in both spots.

The snorkeling was awesome and on the Ocean side we could see the deep blue drop off into the abyss.

We had lunch as a barbecue place which provided a sumptuous outdoor fish barbecue on the beach to enjoy. It was in my opinion the best meal of the entire vacation both in terms of variety and portions, and it all tasted real good too.

After swimming with the turtles again, it was time to begin the return trip to St Lucia--and about 3pm we headed off for Admiralty Bay, Bequia on an anticipated 4-8 hour sail, depending upon the winds. As I am writing this, we are making good speed of 8 knots so a 4 hour sail is looking good.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Morning - Day 10

I cannot believe it is Day 10 already and sadly our adventure is drawing to a close so quickly. But there is still so much ahead to enjoy.

When I awoke this morning and spied Admiralty Bay for the first time, I was awed by its beauty and also the clarity of the water. There are some long sandy beaches that we spent some tie on while the the captain cleared customs and immigration into St Vincent and the Grenadines for us.

The bay is surrounded by low hills and filled with boats. The harbor mouth is wide and looks out onto the sea.

So what were you doing at 8:30 this morning? I was snorkeling Admiralty Bay in Bequia having the first adventure of the day. The finds of the day were multitudes of trumpet fish, a flounder, an octopus, and a sand diver.

There is adventure ahead today--I can feel it already.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

The Sail to Bequia - Day 9 Continued

We had a beautiful sail of 10 hours when the story we all told. We arrived in Admiralty Bay about 8pm and Pennie and Chris had a great dinner ready as soon as the boat was secured at anchor for the night. It is very different sailing into a dark harbor not knowing what is in store or what is really there except for the lights of the other boats also taking refuge in the harbor for the night.

As we sailed past the island of St Vincent we were treated to fantastic scenery and even the location where the opening sequence of Pirates od the Caribbean was filmed. The sights, once the open water crossing was completed, kept our interest for the remainder of the trip.

We experienced another awesome sunset enroute to Bequia. We were sailing near Kingston, St Vincent at the time. It was awesome.

During the last part of the trip we were finally able to transition the boat from a motorized craft to a true sail boat as the wind finally came alive and we were truly sailing.

It was exciting and quiet to speed across the Caribbean under the power of wind--much like the sailors centuries ago did.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
My Zimbio
Top Stories