Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Afternoon in the Airport

Yesterday afternoon, as I was trying to get home on an earlier flight, I got to spend some alone time in the Denver airport again. It is almost becoming a home away from home.

I love sitting in the restaurants looking out at the airliners coming and going and imagining that I was part of the operation going on out there. The activity levels are everywhere. Aircraft moving, baggage being trucked around, passengers being embarked and disembarked from the air vehicles.

I sometimes wonder what kind off wonder our forefathers would have at seeing what we have become as a nation. I used to fly United a lot--but now it seems I am a Southwest traveler.

I love saying that "I'm flying first class today" whenever I board a Southwest flight. It always gets a giggle from both the passengers in the area and the crew.

I guess I love being around air operations because it reminds me of olden times when I was a young lieutenant at a Strategic Air Command B-52 bombardment wing.

Those were the days. Like now, I knew that I was part of something important. God forbid that the bombers actually had to do the missions that the crews were trained to do--but if they did, I wanted to be sure they had every opportunity for success. That is what it was like during the Cold War.

I can barely believe that sitting in Denver, reminded me of all of those times. And friends long ago forgotten.

Thanks Patrick for posting that picture of me in my Captain's uniform with Nicole on my leg back in those good old days. I'm not even sure you were born yet when that image was taken. You have rekindled long forgotten memories of a different time and place.

And all while I was sipping a beer in Denver waiting as a stand-by passenger for a flight home that I made.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Standing on the Threshold of Tomorrow

What if?

I have been thinking about that question lately.

It is interesting to run down the possibilities of changing something in our past and then projecting forward.

What if, I had not joined the Air Force so many years ago? Where would I be? Heck, what if I could speak a foreign language and wouldn't have had to transfer to Syracuse to graduate from college?

What if--all of the things that make me who I am were different? What if I could change anything?

Well, I've been dealing with this question a bit--and wouldn't you know it, but some really good advice came my way on the radio yesterday in a song by Matt Maher titled Hold Us Together. I've added a link to a YouTube version if you want to listen to it.

The final chorus says it all about answering the "what if's" in life:

And love will hold us together
Make us a shelter to weather the storm
And I'll be my brother's keeper
So the whole world would know that we're not alone

This is the first day of the rest of your life
This is the first day of the rest of your life
'Cause even in the dark you can still see the light
It's gonna be alright, it's gonna be alright

I do not need to be a slave to yesterday by constantly asking myself "what if" because the "what if's" have made me who I am and my task--is to go forward from here into the future.  I may not ever have a dive boat in the Florida Keys--but I have so much more. And the possibilities? Well--they are not endless, but they are uncountable.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Out the Hotel Window - Denver again

Denver in the Morning
So I almost forgot to do the out the hotel window picture of the day. This morning the view was awesome. The sun rise in the east was reflecting off the western clouds over the mountains.

It is hard to see since my iPhone camera doesn't have great resolution.

It was 90 degrees yesterday when I arrived, but the breeze was cool even so because there is low humidity.

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Monday Musings - August 29, 2011

1. Irene, the hurricane, was not a very good house guest. But thankfully, Chris and I suffered little damage--mostly tree debris in the yard. I know many others were not so fortunate.

2. What a week it was--and I hope never to repeat. We had an earthquake and a hurricane packed into the week.

3. I was reading Aesop's Fables on my Kindle on the plane yesterday and ran across a few old lines to remember.

4. One of Aesop's stories reminded me of something so true--it is about how good, when connected to evil suffers the consequences of being associated with the evil. "Birds of a feather flock together."

5. I also enjoyed the story about The Flies and the Honey Pot--"Pleasure bought with pain, hurts."

6. I've been thinking about "joy" lately. And what is joy exactly as opposed to being happy or just feeling good. What really provides joy?  Is joy internal?  Can we buy or obtain joy, or is it a result of being satisfied with ourselves and our life?

7. I, for one, will be happy to see August slide into September.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Light after the Storm

Things are not too bad.

I've seen worse--but I don't see any trees down, yet. The wind is still blowing.

But I was reminded of the line in the movie Apollo 13, where after four tense minutes of reentry the cap-com controller continues to make the calls to the spacecraft fully believing that all hope was lost. And the crew responded-- "Yes, we are here!"

We are here, too.

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Location:Rainbow Dr,Elkridge,United States

Waiting for the Dawn after Irene

The wind is still roaring outside and the rain is falling, The sump pump comes on every 15 or so minutes to keep the lower level dry.

It is dark--I am waiting for the dawn so I can begin to assess the damage and to begin the clean-up after the storm.

Makayla is here with me on the sofa--with each renewed gust of wind we check the windows to see what is happening, but we cannot see outside, yet.

I have grown weary of the constant hurricane storm reporting that the local news channels are providing. How many times do I really need to see people standing in the wind and rain telling me not to go outside. Duh!

Why are they outside?

I saw one reporter yesterday trying to hang onto the railing behind him because the storm was blowing so hard. Go inside!

Although sunrise is still about 30 minutes away, I am beginning to see the initial reflections of light as the dawn attempts to break through the storm.

I am afraid to look--I expect debris, water, and probably downed branches to cover the yard and fill the pool.

Church was already canceled for today, due to the weather. Smart move on their part.

But--as I hear the wind howl, I know the storm is not over, but there will be so much to do.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Between the White Lines

I was asked a question the other day about the reference to between the white lines which I have on my masthead.

I thought it an funny question, because the reference seems so obvious to me--but upon reflection, I guess it may be a generational issue which created the question.

Roads have been a part of my life for my whole life. I am getting older--I still remember when yield signs were yellow with black letters.

The reference then, is to a highway. The white lines mark the edges of the road. On rural highways, there are no lines in the center of the road to mark lanes--it is just a ribbon of blacktop with two white lines. Drive between the lines.

Those who really know me, know that I am a country boy at heart. So I remember those roads.

When we lived in Germany, there was a back road I used to drive from the place I worked to the small base, Neubrueke, where we lived. It had white lines on the sides and one night, on my way home, I was driving a bit too fast and my old car, the only Mercedes I ever owned, slid off the road into the ditch while rounding a curve. I failed to keep the car between the white lines.

Finally, there is a Garth Brooks song: Much too Young (To Feel This Damn Old). There is a reference in the chorus of the song to a white line getting longer which I believe is a reference to the times before the roads were marked with yellow lines in the center. I remember when roads used to be marked with only white lines--the sides and the center.

And the white line's getting longer and the saddle's getting cold
I'm much too young to feel this damn old
All my cards are on the table with no ace left in the hole
And I'm much too young to feel this damn old

And so, there you have it. My white lines. I can still see that old green Mercedes off the road in the ditch. Fortunately it did not roll, but it should have.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Before the Alarm Went off

God woke me up this morning--He wanted to tell me a couple things.

We haven't been talking much lately, and almost never in the morning in a meaningful way. And my nighttime prayers have been really abbreviated or non-existent. So, He felt I needed to hear from him.

It wasn't real early--just a few minutes before my alarm and after one of the best night's sleep that I have had in a while because I finally went to the doctor yesterday for the headache which has bothered me for a week and got some medicine for the sinus infection that seems to be brewing.

So, I was ready to hear his voice before the noise of my life took over.

He told me that he loved me.

And then He asked me to tell him what was on my mind. And I did.

When I was done, He told to be still and listen.

And I heard the sound of peaceful breathing coming from the bed next to me where Chris was sleeping, as she has done almost every night for the past 36 years.

He reminded me that she loves me, too.

I pondered that for a while--as she continued her regular peaceful breathing.

I love her too.

God intervened in the moment to tell me again that He still loves me. So does Chris. So do my kids and grandkids. And it is not a shallow love, but a love that pulls together when one of us needs something. I heard Jeremy say: "Because, that's how we roll," in my head.

It is the love that had 14 of us praying in a circle in a hospital waiting room about two and a half years ago for Jax during his open heart surgery at the tender age of six days. "Team Jackson," I remembered Patrick said.

I am here for you too, God reminded me. My pillow was damp with the tear of peace that rolled down my cheek following behind the tears of shame and regret that had been trying to escape from my eye.

I remembered how the sun had suddenly peaked out from behind a dark cloud last evening after I had been drenched in a driving rain walking into the pharmacy. And despite being wet and chilled--the presence of the sun warmed me--not just physically, but emotionally, too.

God reminded me--that what is the most important to me is not always what I devote the most time to. And, sometimes, there are things in my life that I give time to that I shouldn't. I'm not balanced.

He reminded me that He can help with that, if I let him. He also reminded me that while I feel that a lot of people depend upon me, and not just my family, I too, depend upon a lot of people if I would only notice them more.

Like I told Dylan and Rachel just two short weeks ago, we are not meant to go through life alone. Life is a team sport.

I've been playing like the basketball superstar that scores 50 or more points in a losing effort because I'm trying to be one man show.

Despite liking to lead, sometimes I need to follow.

I've got a lot to work on, things to repair, and others to face the consequences of poor choices and decisions. But there is good coach and a strong team to keep me between the white lines.

God reminded me that He is there for me, we just need to chat more.

And all I could say was, amen.

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Location:Rainbow Dr,Elkridge,United States

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good Morning Surprise

This morning, short already, has been full of not so pleasant surprises.

When I hit the door with Makayla for her walk, I expected to be greeted by cool, crisp air--instead it was the humid, heavy air of the on coming hurricane. Ugh.

And then, my laptop decided that it and Windows Vista were not working well together.

That, I guess is life. Surprises.

And, of course, it is really dark now at 5AM. Which means walking Makayla is just a bit more exciting and difficult.

But the day is dawning and my plate is full of stuff to do.

I will be busy and hopefully not too distracted by the those seemingly important things which crop up for a few minutes and then settle back down.

I pray your day is a good one.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquakes and Hurricanes

What a day yesterday was--the earthquake changed our collective view of the region and brought us a step closer to understanding how helpless we feel when the ground shakes and there is no place to hide.

For my part, I recognized the earthquake as the tremors built in intensity, but was really surprised at how much the building shook by the time it was over. It was weird watching the suspended ceiling move about on its own. I had a clock actually fall off my desk and break on the floor of my office.

And this was a relatively minor earthquake compared to the big ones of the west coast and the devastating one that recently occurred in Japan.

We will likely be talking about this earthquake for a longtime.

The news media was quick to press into earthquake coverage and there was localized damage--but mostly a lot of unsettled people. I came home to check on the items we have hanging on the walls--and we, fortunately, escaped with no discernible damage.

Next up--Irene. A hurricane taking aim at the Outer Banks or our weekend enjoyment.

Water, winds, loss of power, downed trees and a pool full of tree debris. What could be better than that?

I was reminded that one of the last hurricanes of significance blew through in 2003 and was named Isabel. What is it with "I" named storms?

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sure Signs of the Impending Demise of Summer

1. It was dark outside when I took Makayla for her morning stroll.

2. My favorite constellation, Orion, is creeping into the morning sky.

3. The outside temperature was 56 degrees.

4. The pool water is getting cold.

5. I had to use my poop-finder flashlight.

6. I turned the air conditioner off in the truck yesterday and was amazed at how much power that under-powered vehicle actually had.

7. Chris wore a sweater last evening as we ate dinner on the deck.

8. I haven't heard the house air conditioning come on in over 12 hours.

9. I'm heading off tis morning to risk life and limb playing racquetball again after the summertime hiatus.

10. The Maryland Renaissance Festival begins tis weekend.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Musings - August 22, 2011

1. I had never been on a cruise ship before yesterday when I was treated to a three-hour tour and dinner. Now I am beginning to understand the reason why cruise ships are so popular.

2. Makayla is doing better. The antibiotic and anti-inflammatory are doing the job of helping her to heal that very sore and ugly spot on her back. The vet thought it was a small puncture wound--maybe from a cat when they were playing.

3. I can tell that football is back and that the O's are sliding into their season ending slump. They have managed two wins in their last ten games. So much for the hope we all had at the beginning of the season that something new and special was going to happen this season.

4. The thunderstorms of yesterday really eloped bring my pool to overflowing! Unfortunately, I could not swim in it yesterday due to the pace of the day.

5. Well, it is the beginning of another week. This week should be better than last week.

6. All of the rain sure is making the grass grow!

7. We discovered last week that the county school board wants to build an elementary school on the main street near our house. It is almost within sight of another elementary school. And all because the community didn't want a school at a site near train tracks we're toxic chemicals are carried. Talk about the ultimate knee-jerk. Oh yeah--they want to open the school for the 2013 school year.

8. To all off the teachers and staff of Howard County Public Schools--have a good year. I'm sorry the summer is over.

9. Smile. Some days are better and some not so much but a smile is like putting icing on the cupcake.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Flash of Light and a Kaboom

And that is how I woke up this morning with a ferocious thunderstorm dancing on top of my house.

Another thunderstorm.

Fortunately there was no wind. So the pool survived.

What a way to start Sunday morning.

The cat even jumped out of the window through the shade--just to add some excitement to the storm, as if it needed additional excitement.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Makayla's boo boo

Well here is the shaved spot. It looks bad

Makayla at the Vet

I found a small lump on Makayla this morning and so we are at the vet having it checked out. Initial indications are a small infection. But she is being clipped for a better look.

I'm a wreck.

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Location:Arundel Mills Cir,Hanover,United States

After the Storms

Ugh. I looked out at the pool this morning after the week of rain and storms.

I've got a lot of work to do.

Leaves and debris in and around the pool that are going to take up a lot of my day.

Ah, the joys of owning a pool--standing tall against the storms that come against it to maintain a small piece of paradise.

Of course the cooler temperatures are having an impact of the water temperature, too.

And people wonder why I'm not a fan of August.

I just heard on the Today Show that Philadelphia is going to set an all time record for rain--and I am sure we are not far behind. According to the paper we are 2.3 inches above normal for the month of August to date.

But now it is time for breakfast--then to the pool, but not for enjoyment immediately.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday and the promise of the Weekend

We all do it.

That irrational belief that Friday is the last day of the work week and that all we need to do is suffer through it to find relaxation a sanity on the other side. And then we find out that the weekend is even more crazy than the work week.

This past week--coming off a short vacation, has been especially trying. I'm still in my summer mode, yet the work load has soared to full bore with the start of the post-summer activities. I wasn't mentally prepared for the change occurring so soon and so it took me too long to ramp up and I felt as if I was drowning in administrivia all week.

So, as I cruise into the weekend--the next to last weekend of August, I too am hoping for a sane Friday and I harbor the thought of even bolting through the door a bit early to use some of the extra ours I've accumulated this week.

I can imagine it even now: a deep breath as I charge the door coupled with the wish for blue skies so I can ride with the top down and the wind racing through my thinning hair as I drive up the parkway and begin the weekend wit my friends recounting the fun we had together last weekend while alsovcelebrating the last weekend before Howard County School teachers report for duty on Monday morning and summer vacation officially ends.

So today is really special.

It marks another one of those endings--the lasts I wrote about earlier in the week.

And it will be followed by a first--the first day of the start of another school year.


Who knew?

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Newspapers and news

Do you read a newspaper everyday?

I don't mean online--but actual newsprint with the ink smudging off onto your hands. The unique smell of paper and ink chock full of words and images of what is happening around the world.

I do read the paper--my choice is the Baltimore Sun because it haas a lot of local news and coverage of the Orioles as well. I also read other papers on-line, for instance I get the NY Times delivered to my email--so I get that perspective on the news, too.

I had an interesting discussion the other day though about reading the paper.

When I say I'm reading the paper, I mean sitting somewhere with the physical paper in my hands poring over the words and stories contained within.

Generationally, though, that interpretation/vision has changed. I was conversing with the twenty-something crown and realized that when they said they were reading the paper, they were referring to the online approach only--and their dainty hands never tough the real article.

Check it out. The simple phrase "reading the paper" has two very different visual images associated with it depending upon the generation of the reader/speaker.

My version has someone at a desk or in an easy chair reading a physical document; while the other is of a person at a computer somewhere reading the electronic media.

Does it matter? I guess not.

But we need to wonder, what other common references do we have that have fundamentally changed with the advent of the information technology age?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday's Trauma portends a Wild Wednesday

Life this week has been off on an incredibly fast pace.

In addition to recovering from a four-day weekend it seems that as this is the last week before the school year begins, everything everywhere must be done.

I have been confronted with a lot of "the lasts" as I call them.

The last week of freedom for teachers.

The last week of vacation--and it seems that everyone is beginning to return from where ever they have been hiding out all summer.

The last weekend of freedom is upon us.

The last month of summer.

And the list goes on.

It is a bit sad that there are so many lasts and so few firsts.

There are a few, but they are more traumatic than memorable.

The first day of school for the school year comes to mind.

We need more memorable firsts--but then, we have had a whole summer already to accomplish the firsts.

And then there is the pace--more requirements, shorter turn around times all complicated by malfunctioning or ineptly deployed IT equipment.


I never really used to look at Wednesday as hump day--except this week, it truly is the day to get over the hump and start the downward slide into the weekend.

I guess I should stop comparing last week to this week, because last week Wednesday was the equivalent of my Friday as I went off on my FIRST trip to Newport, RI.

Hey--there was a positive first near the end of summer.

Maybe I can find other firsts hidden in the agenda of today and then I can change the day from Wild Wednesday to Wonderful Wednesday.

Why don't you help me look?

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rhode Island Wines - Newport Vineyards

It was bound to happen. I love visiting wineries. Rhode Island has vineyards and a winery in Newport.

Therefore, while we were in Rhode Island last weekend, we had to visit the winery--Newport Vineyards which was less than a mile from our hotel.

The tasting room and winery are in a small strip mall with a very nice deli (which served us well for lunch).

For some strange reason, I continue to look for nice red wines in northeastern wineries. It usually doesn't happen. And Newport Vineyard was much the same. The reds were uniformly thin, lacking both body and complexity. I sampled five different reds and afterwards I felt they should have refunded my tasting fee. At one point the pourer asked what I was looking for in a red, and after I explained my perfect red wine he remarked that I should try Napa Valley wines exclusively.

So I was left with the question in my mind--if the winemakers knows the reds are inferior, why grow the grapes and produce red wine?

But hold the presses--because the white wines, and there must be at least twelve of them, were really special. The whites had body, complexity, and varied across much of the white spectrum from light easy drinking Pinot Grigio to the darker and more complex Gew├╝rztraminer with a couple of nicely done Rieslings added in for fun.

So, I heartily recommend stopping at the winery for a tasting, should you happen through Newport. But avoid the reds--drink the whites. And oh yes, we did buy a few wines to bring home with us, too. Don't miss the Hard Apple Cider, either.

Happy drinking!

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Musings - August 15, 2011

1. Traveling the highways anymore is an adventure in probability. Probably, there will be an extensive traffic jam. Yesterday a trip that too 7 hours and 15 minutes to complete on Thursday took over 9 hours. My travel advice--avoid the New Jersey Turnpike at all costs!!

2. Rain, rain, and more rain makes driving really hard.

3. Apparently someone shot the starter's pistol for the 2012 Presidential race.  And they are off and running looking for a challenger. I'm not sure they have a potential winner anywhere in the field yet.

4. The tragic collapse of the stage in Indiana begs the question about whether there are sufficient inspections of the elaborate sets and equipment being used by today's bands.

5. Weddings are a grand example of two people beginning a new life together. They also provide for a great weekend of fun and celebration.

6. I had the opportunity to consider other drivers on the highway this weekend--some drivers are too impatient and I wonder how they arrive alive at their destination, and even then, I wonder about ulcers.

7. It is always good to see my dog again after a weekend away.

8. And of course after a four day weekend, it is off to the grind again!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunset over Rhode Island

Another day, another evening, and another fabulous sunset after a great day.

The wedding day was perfect. The reception a grand party. The evening sail was relaxing and enjoyable. But it was all capped by another fabulous sunset.

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Is there a way to get a refund from the New Jersey Turnpike for a really long traffic congested trip?

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sailing Newport

We are sailing this evening on a 101 foot sailing boat built in 1947. We are out on Narragansett Bay for an authentic New England sailing experience.

More in Newport

Yesterday we took some time to do the sights in Newport. I admit, I had not really thought of this as a mini vacation, but I should have. This is an incredibly beautify place and it was totally lost on me that the uber-rich of the 19th century had their summer palaces here.

I used the word palace intentionally, these places are huge. We visited The Breakers, the summer home of the Vanderbilts. The tour was fabulous and opulent and very well done. I highly recommend it as it is on of the best self-paced tours that I have ever taken. The tour allowed for additional levels of depth and stories about the house and the family.

Following that, we walked part of the cliff walk behind the mansions along the bay. The scenery was beautiful, although the path is a bit narrow and yesterday there were lot of people on the walk.

Following this, we checked out a local winery--yes, they make wine in Rhode Island. Like most northeastern wineries, the reds were thin, but the whites were surprisingly good. Yeah, we bought a few.

I see now why so many people flock to this area for vacation. And it is even better if you happen to sail--the region is truly a sailing mecca.

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Location:E Main Rd,Middletown,United States

Friday, August 12, 2011

Newport at the Wedding Site

Here is where the wedding will be tomorrow morning. It is just awesome and beautiful.

Newport, RI

Well, it seems that as another weekend approaches that Chris and I are off on another adventure. This weekend finds us in Newport, RI for a wedding. We drove to Newport yesterday because we need to be here for a wedding.

It was a long drive, but traffic was moving and we made it across the George Washington bridge fairly easily even when there was a reported 40 minute back-up. Our friends George and Sue drove with us, actually, George drove and I navigated.

I had never been to Newport before and it is a beautiful, quaint oceanside city much like many of the places we have been visiting lately. Sail boats and sunsets.

The hotel leaves a lot to be desired--we made the reservations form and it just is not the shiniest penny in the bag, so to speak. I'll let the trip finish before I write my review on the place and publish it. The hotel recently became a Ramada--I'm not sure how, but perhaps Ramada is going to give them a year to get up to standards.

But--all of that aside--the sunset we beautiful, the company grand, and the time away exploring another new place is appreciated.

We are going to have fun.

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Location:E Main Rd,Middletown,United States

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stock Market Down but Orioles Up

The world economies need a lift--the trend for the past couple of days is down--which is not surprising given the state of the financial management we are witnessing by some countries, ours included.

France apparently has had the bubble burst. China is next, I believe. At least as I read the overseas news this morning it appears that the panic has subsided a bit and the markets are rebounding. We are being held hostage to investors--think about it, investors and businesses and not leaders and politicians.

They are looking for someone to hit a home run and lead them out of the darkness.

Last evening I experienced such a feat. After blowing a 4-0 lead to the Chicago White Sox, the Orioles managed to get the game into the bottom of the 10th inning. The Orioles have been losing twice as many games as they have been winning lately, so the mood in the stands was pretty negative.

A hero was needed.

And for one moment at least, a hero was found. That hero, in the form of Nolan Reimhold #14 who had been hitless in four previous trips to the plate, crushed a ball over the left centerfield fence for a game winning walk-off two run shot that for a moment soothed the savage fan in all of us. As we left the stadium to the sounds of my favorite baseball song Oriole Magic, spirits were soaring.

I wonder who the hero of the world economies will be? But, with all of the bad news, one is truly needed. Even one who has been hitless before can do some good and calm things down.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

36 years and the journey continues

Wow--last evening, Chris and I took an evening to celebrate 36 years of life together as a married team.

We decided to eat in and treated ourselves to a fantastic dinner with some of our best Schramsberg champagne and a great wine from King Family in Virginia and then a nice 1999 port from Upstate NY to close out the meal which revolved around a planked salmon filet and ended with a too large piece of key lime pie.

The best china and sterling were on the candle-lit table ready for the festivities when Chris returned from dropping Ethan off at his home after a day together.

We performed the usual anniversary ritual of remembering the years together and the times we were apart.

We talked of good times and rough times.

With soft music playing in the background, we were not bothered by the other diners--our animals in this case, and were able to descend into our own little spot on the planet for most of the evening.

I introduced Chris to a song that I have been listening to by Andrew Peterson titled "Dancing in the Minefields," which is about two people getting married too young and making it.

The chorus says it all:

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe thats what the promise is for

I admitted to Chris that telling people that we've been married 36 years scares me and makes me realize that I'm getting old. When we were married, we were only 19 years old and I couldn't even imagine being 30 years old, let alone being married for 36 years. In two years, God-willing, when we are married 38 years I will have been married two-thirds of my life on the planet.

To put it into perspective, my parents have been married 57 years. If you add the years we've been married with theirs together it is 93 years of marriage between the two couples.

We still have a long way to go--but then I have come to realize that marriage is about the journey and not the destination.

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Location:Rainbow Dr,Elkridge,United States

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stocks and Debt

Well yesterday was a wild day in the world stock markets--as expected. The US stock market suffered its biggest drop since 2008. And frankly, I expect more of the same for today. And the funny thing is that Congress doesn't get it. They do not understand the relationship between their irresponsible brinkmanship, the lowering of the US debt rating and the worldwide panic which has ensued.

Face it--we have too much debt.

We do not have enough income.

We are or have become a debtor nation who owes the rest of the world. Just like we have lost control of our future through oil dependence, we have now lost control of our debt.

Change is going to be really difficult to pull off and we need to start changing our way and our debt-ridden lifestyle.

I believe that the debt rating services are just reflecting what we already know--there is tarnish on the US economy. And I also worry that there is tarnish on the Constitution.

I also fear, that we are headed for a really rocky road ahead during the FY12 budget negotiations. I remember the impasse that developed last year, and we get to do it all over again now--and soon, like beginning now.

So the wild ride, I am reminded of the name of a ride that used to be in Disney World--Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, begins now.

If we thought the past couple of months were exciting, I'm not sure nothing can prepare us for the ride ahead, compliments of a dysfunctional government.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Musings - August 8, 2011

1. Congress needs a lesson in money management. If you threaten not to pay your bills, your credit rating may be owe red. Wy is that a surprise? All of the rest of We the People have to deal with this reality.

2. Here is an interesting point on the lowering of the US credit rating by S&P: they must believe that the US could someday violate the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which states, "The validity of the public debt of the United States . . . shall not be questioned."

3. My thoughts and prayers today continue to be with and for the families, friends, and comrades of those heroic service members killed in the helicopter shoot down in Afghanistan on Saturday.

4. There was something really fun and special about pushing Lucas around the house in a child's shopping cart the other night and hearing him laugh continuously and demands more. Of course, Chris and the dog Ben were part of the action, too. Who knew that something so simple could be so much fun?

5. I finally got to relax a bit in the pool yesterday--it was fun just to nap in a floatie in the sun and shed the cares of the world.

6. Over the weekend, I reinstalled the TV in our bedroom--we had been missing it after the "While you were out" style makeover that Tina and Patrick did for us while we were on vacation. Suffice it to say--it was not entirely simple.

7. We had an interesting discussion about difficult questions in church yesterday. One thing to remember--always be sure that the question is understood the same way by both parties.

8. It came to me thin morning, I rally enjoy my morning time with the dog and cats as I write because it gives me a chance to organize my thoughts and to get ready for the day ahead form the perspective of the day gone by after a night's sleep.

9. I love the way my dog looks at me--total devotion and preparedness for whatever it is I think we should do.

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Location:Ducketts Ln,Elkridge,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Morning Haze

Well, for the second morning in a row, my faithful dog woke me earlier than I wanted. My bad this time though--I forgot to check the water dish and it was empty, which is never good. She was right to let me know of my shortcoming.

I also got to experience the sultry, damp morning that it is outside after the rains of last night as I took her out for her morning walk.

All day yesterday it seemed as if it was going to rain. The air was heavy and damp. I wished it would rain to cut through the closeness in the air. Well it did finally rain, but the situation outside was no better this morning--a damp smell of decaying plant matter fills the air--which must have been hovering near the dew point. The haze holding the smells and dampness was everywhere enveloping me in its grasp.

The grass was wet with the rain and I slipped on a patch going down an incline. I didn't fall, but I certainly could have.

I think it is going to be a great day.

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Location:Rainbow Dr,Elkridge,United States

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dogs and Saturdays

I don't understand Makayla, my Keeshond, sometimes. Like this morning for example.

I wanted to sleep in and enjoy waking up slowly and leisurely in the morning in bed. Maybe I think I had visions of even sleeping in until 8 or 9 am.

Makayla, however, wanted to play and made sleeping impossible. I looked at the clock which was blinking 6:30 and realized that on a normal morning, the dog would be crawling back onto the bed for a few extra minutes/hours of shut-eye.

Why not today, I wondered?

Alas, it was not to be--and for some reason, she has been glued to me, it seems, for the past hour.

I think she has missed me and she somehow senses that today, I am going to be around at least for the morning. And it really isn't so bad to have a dog that wants to be part of rather than a spectator of life.

I know some people who probably need to engage a bit more.

And so the weekend is off and running. I'm already on my third cup of coffee and the dog is walked, fed, and has two doggie treats in her.

Maybe I'll sit here and watch the Today Show for some amusement.

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Friday, August 5, 2011


Which one doesn't belong?

A few weeks ago, when we visited Monticello, the Thunderbird collectors club was having a car show--and Patrick and I had the opportunity to see more vintage Thunderbirds in one place than we have ever seen before.

All of these convertibles make me want to hit the open road and drive down Route 66.

Built before interstate highways, these cars represented the ultimate freedom of the late 50's--a big engine and a fast car.

It was fun to see all of them lined up--ready to hit the road, which they did by the time we departed Monticello--it must have been really something to be along the road watching one after another of these classics motor by.

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Location:Monticello, Virginia

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beaches and Long Weekends

I considered sand this weekend while was at Ocean City. I remembered that during my recent vacation, we had to deal with precious little sand--because there were few beaches.

Ocean City is blessed with a long, wide, very sandy beach. Sand gets everywhere. Especially into places one wonders how it got there.

Much of that sand is kicked up by the tide and the surf crashing against the sandy beach--but still even walking along or over the beach--sand gets to be a nuisance.

Still--I love sand. I love beaches, too.

I was reminded how incredibly hot sand becomes during the daytime as it bakes in the summertime sun. Hot enough to blister the feet of small children. And then, remarkably, even remaining in the sun it begins to cool by mid-afternoon to a nice, soothing warmth.

I have seen that sand comes in many colors: black, gray, reddish, sand, and even pure white like the beaches of Sunset Key in Florida near Sarasota. It also comes in many textures--ranging between a very fine powder and very coarse.

Sand, next to water, may be the most voluminous substance on the planet--although I am not sure that this is fact, I sense it must be almost true.

And like water, sand can be a friend or a killer.

So as I sat on my beach chair firmly in the sand this past weekend thinking about the words to a song that goes--"suntanned toes tickling the sand," I realized that for all of its faults--I love sand. Sand goes hand-in-hand with long weekends, frozen drinks melting in my hand, and the sound of the waves crashing relentlessly against the shore.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Turtles of Tobago Cays

During our recent vacation, some of the most fun we had was snorkeling

with the turtles in Tobago Cays. Tobago Cays is a collection of small islands at the southern end of the St Vincent Grenadines. It is a marine park and accessible only via watercraft. Wikipedia has a good description of the islands and the park.

The most enjoyable thing we did was to snorkel with the turtles. The turtles generally do not mind having people around them--as long as we are just watching. They, like most other wild animals, do not like to be touched or bothered. They seem to have a live and let live policy.

As a result, I got some pretty good images of the turtles as they grazed on the grasses and did their thing. I have been doing some color correction on the images from my underwater camera--and some of the best images are provided to help document our experience.

I hope they will continue to remind me of a great vacation for a longtime to come.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August Blues

Although it is still summer--lot's of people I know are in a funk because of the recent passing of July.

But, things are looking up. Congress came up with an agreement on the debt limit that no one seems happy about--I think that is good.

And I still enjoy the pool--although I have noticed that it is getting darker, sooner.

The days are hot though and that is causing a lot of problems for a lot of people. Then, there was the afternoon thundershower yesterday that caused me to cancel mowing the lawn--so there was some good and bad. Sadly, neither the temperature nor the humidity seemed to notice the passing rain.

So as we struggle with the blues of August--heat, the impending end of summer vacation and the shorter days, let's remember--it isn't February!

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Musings -- August 1, 2011

1. July is gone, get over it--I had to. Summer is still here.

2. Finding 52 mole crabs before 11AM--how to keep two boys and four adults busy at the beach.

3. A little rain made my return trip yesterday mostly occur with the top up on the car simply because I didn't want to stop and take the time to put it down again after I had put it up.

4. Makayla and I had yet another happy reunion yesterday. I'm sure she is beginning to get a bit freaked out every time I go out the door.

5. Sand gets everywhere. Even places it shouldn't.

6. I wonder why the sand gets so hot during the day, but yet begins to cool even though the sun is sit shining on it?

7. I was reading movie reviews and amazingly, the Smurfs have returned in a movie. I wish they hadn't.

8. In an amazing bit of Post Office ineptitude, I had a package shipped Parcel Post from California and it took 17 days for it to get to me after the Post Office had the item.

9. Today is going to be hot. I have a lot to do--so of course it will probably rain while I am trying to do the outside stuff.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
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