Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mary, or Well behaved women...

I wonder, when I get to heaven, if I'll get to meet Mary? You know who I Cher, only a first name is necessary...on second thought, NOTHING like Cher. I wonder if I'll recongnize her? My Catholic friends are probobally looking at me like I've lost my mind, "of course you'll recognize her, you know, the Lady with the big halo." I'm resisting the urge to be playful with that last's a more serious post. I imagine meeting Mary in an undramatic sort of way. Walking down a dirt path by a river at morning. A pleasant day with birds singing in the mornings song. We're in heaven. A woman approaches, she's pretty - not striking, but there's something about her that's too glaring not to notice. We sit together on a bench and begin to talk. She's humble, soft with her words and beautiful...I now see it. And then in a split second I know it's's Mary. "What was it like? I mean, what things did you treasure in your heart that night?" To my surprise she begins to talk...she shares all the things that night the Savior was born...The angel, the angelic chorus, the shepards, the delivery... I say nothing as she answers every question I have - though I never ask a single one. Then she stands and she walks away, leaving me with a Jewish blessing as she goes...

There's so much about Mary. Depending on your denomination I guess she ranges from Queen of Heaven to "just a woman." You can read about her words spoken in the bible, her position - or lack of position. But for me, it's intriguing to stop for a moment to just ponder in my heart who "she" was. A very young woman with a beautiful heart who has served and loved God from her earliest days. A thoughtful and contimplative woman. Listening more than speaking. Humble. Obedient and willing to do whatever her Lord requires of her. And this...this was a pretty big deal! An angel appears and tells her she's about to be pregnant. She travels while "great with child." The manger. The angel again. The angelic choir. The shepards...and all the while Mary simply treasures these things, and ponders them in her heart. That's what I wanted to know...what were those things she pondered?

In Seneca Falls, NY - two miles from my home, there's a sign. "Well behaved women seldom make history." They might be wrong. Merry Christmas...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ring bell for outstanding service

The sign might be a little tough to read given the poor camera on my phone, but this one was too good not to post. I'll try and get back with a real camera. Unfortunately, this bell is only good for the local store, if you want to let Arby's Corporate know, you have to dial 911. I wonder if they'll help you post bail?

Mary did you know

There's a great song they play this time of year...a Christmas song. Mary did you know. My oldest daughter is singing it as I write. She has a beautiful voice. The song is profound if you pause and really think about. "Mary did you know...the child you delivered will soon deliver you?" She couldn't possibly know. She couldn't possibly understand how the ancient scriptures would be revealed. She couldn't fully predict that in just 33 years from her pondering, that He, her tiny baby, would bear the sins of the world.

I know Kenny Rodgers has overdramatized the song, and everybody in the world sings it these days. But the next time you hear 'Mary did you know,' pause and reflect... "Mary, when you kissed your baby's face you kissed the face of God." Prepare your heart for a Mary, I mean Merry, Christmas.

Breakfast Losers

That's G to the right. E is to the left out of camera range. And me, I'm beside G. We don't know those guys across the room, which is OK, this blog is not about them...or us. We are definitely not breakfast losers! But we are breakfast goers many Saturday mornings. We know who has the best pancakes, who put's onions on the plate and the difference between homefries and hash browns.
It's hard to see, but there are three empty chairs at the end of our overlength table. The waitress, who we know well, asked, "would you mind if a couple joins you?" We were thrilled. We always welcome company. To steal my middle daughters words, "a stranger is just a friend we haven't met yet." She was willing (the wife), but he (the breakfast loser) decided to sit at the bar instead. "Are you sure," she said? He said nothing, but just sat. We were disappointed, but not that disappointed...we're good company, even if it's just ourselves! Withing a few minutes we paid the bill and walked out, whispering under our breaths as we passed, "Breakfast Losers!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Master Chef

Thanksgiving is a time for friends or family, and of course FOOD! Thankfully, this year for us was no exception. But this year was an exception. Typically we go to some family members house, hang out and make small talk, eat and then discuss the wine labels...last year it was "Running with Scissors." For me now, it's a toss up between which is cooler - "Running with Scissors" or "Mad Housewife Cabernet," but now I digress! This year we went somewhere truly special.

This year we were in the presence of a celebrity. A master chef. I watched in awe - that is - we watched in awe as he prepared masterpiece after masterpiece, each better than the last. Yams and sweet potatoes with pixie dust. Real cranberry relish with habenjaro peppers, oh my! Real NY maple syrup poured into something, and a turkey to die for. And when he was done...when the flury of whipping and stirring and roasting was complete, we stood in awe as if a great tornado has just passed, and delivered before us a priceless gift in return. The show was amazing. The food was fabulous. And was great.

You may think of him as Mr. Button, VP of something for Macy's. You may stand amazed to learn that the clown chief for the parade is under his care. But to me, he's much more than these. He's even more than brother. He will forever be, Jeff the Chef!

Monday, November 16, 2009

How can you not love a place like Arizona?

I was driving down the road, looking for geocaches...what else. When I came across this sign. The irony is striking, and really really funny. At least to me. Before you consider the sign, think about the hundreds of animals...small ones...maybe even cats...that cross this busy desert road! (Make sure you see the white paint on the road)

Arizona was made for geocaching!

Tell me Arizona isn't made for Geocachers!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ahhhh... or Geocaching, it's what I do!

I was sitting in my office minding my own business. Reading a contract for a new athletics project. Pondering the conditions of lump sum agreements with guaranteed maximum prices. Contimplating steel order times and making sure the Letter of Intent for bleacher orders is in place so football can happen less than a year from now...and then I looked up. Ahhhh!!! There they were. Four of them in blaze orange, GPSr in hand photographing and writing down tracking numbers from coins in my window. What would you do if you were me? So I did the only thing I know how. I snapped a photo, put a funny caption on it and posted it on my cache site...and then on my blog.
PS-They said they were from Rhode Island and were heading for the Dinosaur...wish I was with them!


You know, Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Well, actually the photo is AchDEAD the non-terrorist. It's hard to make out, but the foam skull is crushed and now laying in state while we figure out how to ease the tears of an 8-year old. You may ask, "why is it that an 8-yr old knows who Achmed the dead terrorist is..." I don't have a good answer for that so let's just move on! Anyway, we don't approve of terrorists in this house, so my youngest simply decided that her new friend was Achdead the not a terrorist. A C H Phlem DEAD! (If you don't get it so far, just youtube Achmed...if you don't get the youtube reference ask an 8 year old).
I'll admit, it was my idea to have Achdead laid in state. I figured after playing outside for an hour she'd simply forget. Immagine my surprise coming home to a fancy box on the dining room table. "What's this," I said? There in a pirates chest... She gets it from her mothers side!

Thursday, October 22, 2009's what I do

I spent today at RIT at a sustainability conference. While there, I took the opportunity to get out and grab a few geocaches. I love fact, geocaching is one of the first things I've really enjoyed in such a long time. Why? I'm not entirely sure, but given the number of geocaching "addicts" out there, I'm not unique! It's the treasure hunt for sure. It's the challenge of putting your wits against another cacher in making the find - and some are really clever. It's collecting the finds...racking up the numbers. It's getting out and walking. It's being outside with something to do. It's doing it with my family when they'll come. Meeting other people with a shared interest. It's phoning a friend to do a web capture in front of a statue to log the cache; not caring how silly you must look posing in the crowd to a camera 300' away! But there's something more. It's self reflective for me. Driving down some forgotten road and discovering a place of tall oaks and granite stones of people who passed on a hundred years before I was born and just wondering...

It's those moments that really make it worth while...discovering myself. Today was one of those days, I chased a cached called the catecombs at RIT. The place was pretty cool, students painted the tunnels with whatever moved them. And so I wandered for ever, turning right at star trek, finding the Wolverine, so many themes. While I walked though, I realized that no one spoke my language. I heard grunting, screeching, unusual sounds - and hand gesturing. The deeper I went, the more pronounced it got. Somewhere I began to understand that I was among the deaf. I was the lone voice, the minority - and they were at home. Talking, moving, gesturing...and I would be unable to communicate with them. I was the one who was uncomfortable. For those minutes while the cache placer was illuding me, I stood in a world that was outside of my comfort zone, and I'm a better man because of it. I don't know what the lesson was/is, but I know there is one and I'll wait for it to be revealed. Until then, I remain thankful for that trip through the labrynth.'s what I do.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Auschwitz as the sun shines

Bear with me if you end up on this page. It may seam like I don't know where I'm going, and the path may curve and rattle like then trains that carried so many Jews, but it will get Auschwitz. I have a method for almost every entry - find a picture, write something. Simple. The problem here is...well, Google Auschwitz and see if you can post one of those pictures.

Ever since I saw that awsome movie (except for the predictable language), I've pondered my bucket list. Scuba dive - Check. Dozens of times...more than that. Pacific Northwest. It was amazing. Jump from an airplane. Check...more than 60 times. Find and marry a trophy bride. Check...did that at 2o something - figured I'd get it out of the way early! See the world. Does the Western Carribean on a Disney Cruise count? Write a book, find a thousand geocaches, buy a Harley...see Auschwitz. See Auschwitz. Can you feel the gravity of those words? I can barely breathe right now. It's heavy.

A friend of mine just returned. It crushed her for some moments...the shoes, the glasses, the hair, the chambers and the stack. The sunshine. Those words struck me. "It was a perfect sunny day," She said. "The sun isn't supposed to shine at Auschwitz." Like her, I had always imagined Auschwitz as it's supposed to be: gloomy, eternal black and white like so many photos, dismal, overcast and dreadful. But it isn't true, is it? The sun shines on Auschwitz, on Birkenau. Is it possible that even amidst the horror, that some found tiny slivers of joy in the sun when it shined? I guess I'd like to believe so. Words are not usually difficult for me... I don't know what to say. I'm thankful for that short vicarious visit through the eyes of a friend. I'm thankful for this deeply reflective moment. And I wonder this one more thing...on 9/11 after seeing Auschwitz, can a person whisper "Never Forget" the same way again?

Something lighter next post...I promise.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life is about balance isn't it? We'll, I just finished writing about the left wing Antique Sandwich Co., and I felt this tipping of the scales, this lack of I thought I'd share this plaque. No explanation necessary!
Twenty-two years ago my friend and I went to this place. My Ranger Buddy. The food was good, and coffee was good, but what I liked the most was the irony of it. We were still in the army, paratroopers, patriots, adventurers...real men! And this place was filled with protesters, draft dodgers, free El Salvadorians. Folk music and Jonny Cash were mainstays. I'm not sure why we went other than when I look back, I think we both had (still have) the ability to hold opposing viewpoints in balance within our minds and hearts. Sure, we mad fun of the posters and sometimes the people, but still on occasion, we went. To this day, when I think of the Antique Sandwich Co., I think, "cool place." And it's funny that the place is so close to Defiance Point! I was reminded of it a few months ago. And again last week. My friend Gene was there...and somehow it's reassuring to know that The Antique Sandwich Co. hasn't changed. It's not El Salvadore anymore, but Johnny Cash still plays, and the posters are still on the wall. It's funny too, how life changes. I wouldn't call Gene "Ranger Buddy" material in the strictest sense. "Peace through superior firepower," are not words I ever imagine coming out of his mouth as he pulls away in his hybrid car sporting a Republicans for Obama sticker...and yes, I still wonder about that, and Gene for that matter. But his friendship means the world to me. The bible says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." I guess it's just nice to know that places like the Sandwich Co. are still out there after all these years!

Friday, October 2, 2009

You decide

"The intellectual vibrancy of adjacency..." I work at a liberal arts institution, and this phrase won the sound bite of the day. There are those of you out there who will swoon at the sound of it rolling off your tongue like a fine wine swirling at your nose. And there are some who will now be certain that a BS degree stands for exactly what it sounds like, and that PhD really means 'piled higher and deeper.' I'll reserve comment and let you decide!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The dark side of geocaching

A week ago I wrote about a statue of a lady in Chestertown, MD. This entry deals with that same steel lady...but in not so delicate of a way. I'm a geocacher. 170 finds today. According to my friend Gene (YowzaPA), 167 finds makes you officially no longer a rookie. As a now credentialled cacher, I now feel qualified to share the good and the bad. To share the depths a man will go to find that hidden treasure, to grab that cache, to log that find... I feel terrible. What your about to see violates everything my mother ever taught me. But then, to plagerize Dr. Seusse, 'A cache is a cache, no matter how small."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Oh I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner...

This is B O L O G N A !

Times is tough...

Only in the back woods of Upstate NY, or somewhere in KY, WV, or the Carolina's...! Actually, I guess you could see this in so many places, but this happens to be Magee, NY. It's the sign that creates the humor isn't it? FOR SALE BY OWNER. The local VFD is selling it's firetruck to the highest bidder...should I be afraid? Either way, I had to turn around to snap the photo...
Back to the truck... It's bright and shiney and looks new. I mean, who wouldn't want spiffy firetruck to park in their driveway? Out for a sunday drive, great for parades, or just show it off to your friends. With competition like this, it's no wonder I can't sell the 88 Lincoln Town Car parked in my front lawn!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Girl with cannonball

Chestertown, MD is filled with such wonderful history. It's an old town with beautiful old bricks and slate and iron fences. It's a step back in time in a modern way. Part of the charm of this old town are wonderful surprises in architecture, monument or art. When I was first in Chestertown, I met a girl. She caught my eye in an obscure alley, sitting casually on a circle of bricks. She's was young, beautiful and quite disarming as she gazed at a cannonball. I was immediately enchanted by her steely gaze. Though she's never spoken to me, over the years, we've become friends. Everytime I'm there I stop to see her. I wonder always what she sees. What she's thinking. And what's the meaning of the cannonball?

I know I could look it up with little trouble. I'm sure there's a story - but I don't want to know. I like to wonder. I like to ask her each year. Her answer is always the same...she simply smiles and looks on to places I cannot go. Her face is too happy for tragedy. Not joyous enough for play. It's something else that brought that cannonball, and the wonder is in the not knowing, isn't it. In the immagining. I make up a new story each year and now I'm afraid to know because the reality will be dull in comparison to the world I've created for her. And to think...I don't even know her name.

Harley Davidson... or, what's wrong with this photo?

I hope my wife doesn't check my blog, because she definitely will not approve of this posting. In fact, when I took this photo her first reaction was to say, "that poor guy is going to end up on your blog isn't he." It wasn't really a question, but rather, a disapproving statement of fact. I took the fifth. Me, I don't own a Harley - wish I did. But there's Harley blood in our family of the rough tough kind. Leather and spikes and bandannas. Sturgis and going weeks without a shower. So, as the bike pulled up beside me, my first reaction was, 'nice sound.' Followed quickly by a, "What the...?" Must be a flood coming 'cause I see high waters. The velcro sneakers are classic biker and go perfectly with the light weight blue pants covering the frog like physique. Yes my friends, these are the cowboys who made the classic cast iron heads famous...wanted - dead or alive!

Children exchange

I love my kids. I will admit, they're trying at times...but I love them. In fact, the thought of really ever getting rid of them has never crossed my mind. But I'm from NY. In New York I guess we do things a little differently. You see, we were recently in Maryland and Maryland apparently has a way of dealing with difficult children.

You can even park in the rear!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Message in a bottle...Pinot Gris

Paris France is 3,931 miles and an ocean away. This week I spent nearly three days with two Parisians. We worked hard together, and we struggled through light cultural and language barriers. We all had dinner, then breakfast and then Pizza. It all ended with a visit to a winery. The red carpet tour...or is that, le carpet rouge? A walk through the gardens, a tour of the facility, and then the tasting. My new friend wanted to taste a pinot gris...but the winemaker said no. "It's not right, it's flat," he said. He wanted to try the wine...I wanted to try the wine for the sake of connecting. Instead, we left for dinner. On the wine list - Anthony Road Pinot Gris. It ended up on our table purchased by a friend who happened to also be there. It was a wonderful wine. Wonderful conversation. The world became just a little smaller for me these three days, and now I have friends across the sea. In this case, fthat riendship was the message in the bottle...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Re-activated ...or, why I geocache

We've been geocaching for about a year now, and it's been a lot of fun (at least for me). Mixed reviews based upon the day from the girls! Today I want to share again why we do this apart from the pure fun of it...

From '84-87 I was in an airborne unit stationed at Ft. Lewis, Washington. We were LRRP's. The unit was eventually deactivated and life went on for me for the next 22 years. But last month I "met" a cacher from Idaho whose son is now in combat. In our discussions we agreed that a travel bug I created to honor E Co. 109 should be placed in Afghanistan. Now it's there! And yesterday we agreed that the bug should remain with the Troop until their return home. I'm honored. I'm proud. And I'm proud of that young man who carries this tribute to my old unit as an encouragement to his unit.

Log into and put TB27GWP in the "search trackable items" box. I'll update as I learn more.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Brookgreen Allee

Allee is a French word that means, 'a walk lined with trees.' Three cheers for the French who've given us wine & cheese, amazing pastries and cool words! I was just in Myrtle Beach, SC, and at Brookgreen Gardens. If you get to MB - take the time to go to Brookgreen, and take some time when you're there. Wander through the sculptures and the gardens and reflect at the pools. Flirt with the green/brown bronzed naked ladies! Catch a tadpole. Experience the wonder and beauty of it...and then have lunch. When you're done, save the live oak allee for last...

I was debriefing a meeting with a recently found friend and she asked, "how was your trip." I veered away from business... "I was a Brookgreen... it's beautiful... and the best part is this path flanked with ancient live oak trees. It's just such an amazing place to stand, reflect and find yourself - or whatever it is that you're looking for." Her reply caught me off guard, though it shouldn't have, "So, what did you find?" My answer was lame, "I found an hour with no responsibility." We both laughed, and went on with our business - but my mind, or perhaps my heart, never left.

What did I find this time in my beloved allee? Peace and wonderful aloneness that some probobally call solitude. Communion with God that most would call nature. And a wonderful sense of my mortality...that knowlege that life is so much bigger than I am, and somehow that thought brings me peace. The knowlege that everything is going to be OK. That I love and am loved. That I matter, and there are those who matter to me. That life matters and that my contributions make a difference even if to only one at a time. Those trees, if they had souls, could tell me of the hundreds of men and women who have stood there before me, pouring out their hearts silently into the wind. Perhaps that's what give life to these ancient live oaks? Life is hard sometimes, it's supposed to be, but if she were to ask me again what I found, my answer would be a little more precise, "me." I hope you all have this experience in that place that's called yours, wherever it may be. And I hope you find that in it all, you matter.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What would the Lorax do? (...or Hitler's tree)

This tree was planted by Nazi's during WWII with great pomp and circumstance to honor Hitler on his birthday. Hitler sent the seedling from his hometown to be planted here, and likely many other locations. Bands played, a ceremony was held and the tree took root. Two years later the Nazi's were forced out of the town that the left in ruin. The tree however, survives...and it's in the way. In the way of progress - a traffic circle. And in the way of putting autrocities behind. Some say it's not the trees fault (as if it has a soul). Some say burn it to the ground and spit on the ashes. My burning question is this... "What would the Lorax do?"

Follow the link for the story

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Small world

Who knows where little events take us? I sent a travel bug out there. A set of my airborne wings from 20 years ago clipped to a modern army dogtag logo. I great friend dropped it in Tacoma Washington - it's mission was to go to Ft. Lewis, and then return home. If things go well, this bug is about to be Afghanistan! A soldiers mom picked it up - soldiers mom's are the best! She left a note that it would be fun to send, but safer to just move it to NY as planned. I wrote back..."send it overseas." So if the extraction mission goes as planned, the wings will be recalled to duty; HOOAH! I'm excited by this. I'm moved emotionally by it. And I'm humbled by these little connections my silly hobby sometimes makes.
More later I'm sure.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What the?

Call me old school...I just can't get myself to type the last letter of the modern WT* so freqently used in todays e-world. And if you don't know what the last letter is, your really old dirt old, like my father-in-law old. It must be a generational thing; gosh, I hope not. But it did make me think. I spent a lot of time with the Army. SNAFU was a household word. Did you ever stop to think what that really means? No one does. You hear it all over. Do me a favor, don't!

It's a struggle. I've got one of those senses of humor that enjoys a crazy photo with a thought provoking note that invites you to use you immagination, ponder absurdity, throw your hands up in hysterical confusion. I even tried a few on for size... WOE (what on earth), OMG (oh my gosh), etc. None of them really work. So let me leave you with this as I ponder what the civil engineer was thinking when he/she designed this thing somewhere over Baltimore, on the approach to BWI...



Prayer. Perhaps that's the answer to what fathers do best. Or at least that's what they should do. No, that's not his daughter - it's mine. He prays for her almost every day...and he prays for me the same. It's not her father - it's mine. She's comfortable on his lap, hands folded. And he's delighted to be with her. I think in this moment, there's no place either of them would rather be. Think of it from my perspective. My daughter, with my father, praying to our Father. For men of faith, there is no greater joy than this. If you don't share our faith, you may not get it all, but you surely must understand great love.

This is Father's Day, 2009. On the tomorrow of this day, they'll be leaving for Myrtle Beach. Rough life for a kid, don't you think. Today's an especially special Father's Day...can I share why with you?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jennifer Lin or If you don't have anything nice to say

I think you should listen to this young woman. The music is beautiful and moving and really quite amazing. What always amazes me (in not such a good way) is the need in others to criticize instead of celebrate wonder. I decided to post the following comment on the Youtube case it's too far down the list when you see this, here's my contribution. I hope I recieve hate mail!

"Loser prima donnas. Her talent is amazing and the piece is amazing. Appreciate it for what it is and keep your criticisms to yourself. Didn't your mothers ever tell you that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?"

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Giver

The cover is worn and slightly ripped. The Newbery Award sticker has seen better days. But isn't this what great books are supposed to look like.

"Sir?" Jonas said shyly.

"Yes? Do you have a question?"

"It's just that I don't know your name. I thought you were The Receiver, but you say that now I'm the Receiver. So I don't know what to call you."

The man had sat back down in the comfortable upholstered chair. He moved his shoulders around as if to ease away an aching sensation. He seemed terribly weary. "Call me the Giver..."

I've read The Giver a number of times now, and it gets better with each reading. The best times are when my bride reads it aloud to me...or to us. Today we all took turns reading to each other this provocative book about society and sameness and the the terribleness of conformity taken too far. Like Atlas Shrugged, but so much better. I hope you read it, or better yet, I hope you can find someone like my bride to read it to you!

The F-Bomb!!!

I know what you're thinking. Why is a good conservative man like myself throwing the F-bomb around anyway? Well, let me tell you... One isn't supposed to mix religion or politics into social setting. They can be real wet blankets on conversation right? Who cares. I was in a discussion with another man a few days ago, we might have been talking about coincidences or something equally preposterous. It was a fun conversation when I did it. I didn't mean just slipped out. Old habits are so hard to break... "Buddy, some times you just have to have FAITH!" No, I didn't mean the encouragement kind, I meant the God kind. He flipped, "I can't believe it. I can't believe you just used it. I can't believe you just dropped the F-bomb!" Somehow I think God will forgive me ;-)

Got the shoes... or Some Dads just get it - Part 3

I know the drill...find a picture. Write something that's hopefully meaningful. Post it on my blog... I would, but I don't have a picture - just a verbal account. As men societaly, were often distant from our families. Wrapped up in work, or football, or anything but our kids and our families. But not all of us.

My friend gets it. And he's got the t-shirt to prove it. He's got girls, and they dance. The girls dance, the dads hang out and act cool while waiting to pick them up. At least that's how it was. this year my friend talked the dads into doing a know, a routine...the dad's got up on the stage and performed for the girls. Choriography, costumes, practices and actual rythm (I'd of failed miserably!). Businessmen, engineers, truck drivers maybe - I don't know. What matters is they got up there and got involved in the lives of their kids...their daughters. Sons are easy (I think - I don't have any). But girls are wired differently. Girls take some figuring out. They're meant to be cherished and pursued and a little wrestling never hurts ;-). So if you ever run into a guy with a shirt on that reads, "Been there, done the shoes" get a visual of him in costume with ballet slippers (tutu optional!), and then pat him on the back and say, 'nice job!'

Monday, June 8, 2009

White's a French Thing

This is Fort Niagara in NY. The castle and fort were built by the French, but taken by the British - it remains at that point in history. Notice the flags to the right of the photo. The fort flies the British flag (right), the American flag (middle) and the French flag (left). At this time in history the French flag didn't exist as we know it...the French flag was...white. I leave you with this question: Is it a coincidence that the French flag and the flag of surrender are one in the same? You decide!

For those of you who are French and great friends (met or not yet), forgive me. For any corporate officers for the company I work for, I'M ONLY JOKING...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I'm proud to have served this great nation. Thankful for what willingness to sacrafice has taught me. Better as a man because I know the brotherhood of service. Today as we walk through the festivities of Memorial day, I'll stop and pause at the monuments with my three daughters and remind them of the men and women who have given their lives that we may be free. Reflect on the image and remember. And then thank the veterans you meet, pray for the families of the veterans you'll never meet, and pause for a moment when you walk past our flag... For those of you who don't share these thoughts - thank a veteran for giving you that right.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Some dad's just get it - Part 2

The school play was tonight and the girls have been begging me to go. We sat in the back together at first, then two of the three drifted over to their friends. I sat in the dark holding and roughhousing and hugging and snuggling with my middlest girl. We were in the last row, no one behind us...just enjoying the play, and enjoying each others company. Intermission came and I realized there was someone behind us. She tapped me on the shoulder, "I don't want to embarass you, but I just thought it's wonderful the way you're loving on your daughter." There was emotion in her face and she went on just a little more... "It's wonderful to see you, kind of a bear of a man being so gentle and loving." Hmmmm...I never thought of myself as a bear, and I'm not sure if that means I'm manly, or need to lose 50 pounds?! But it was nice to hear. I love my girls dearly, and I go to great lengths to associate with dads who "get it." Sometimes it's nice to be recognized as one of those men! Thanks...whoever you were.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Some dad's just get it!

Like this one. This very young lady, who will remain anonomous, did not learn this from her mother...Awesome!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trek

We just saw the new Star Trek. Ten years after wrecking the classic 'Vette, Captain Pike challenges James Tiberius Kirk... "Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including yours. I dare you to do better."
Awsome movie!!!

The Mom Song With Lyrics

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flew?

Some said a black man would be president when "pigs fly." 100 days into Obama's presidency...Swine Flu (say it outloud).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Stand by me (click this title)

I don't know how to embed this, but it's definitiely worth checking the link. Great song performed many artists across the world all together...Amazing!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

LEED AP - It's what I did

I've been either absent, or intolerable for the last 5+ days. Book in hand, printouts everywhere, flashcards, and a laptop permanently logged into the practice exam site. A USGBC class under my belt, and my head swimming with rainwater calculations, 14,000 CFM/SF, 95% FSC, 75-95-50, etc. etc. Little breaks to geocache. An hour drive to the test site and two long hours one question at a time. Check and recheck and know I failed too many times in those 80 questions. 8 seconds, 7,6,5,4,3,2,1...You have exceeded the time limit. Click "next." A long pause, and then the unceremonial screen. The number is burned in my head. The moment was surreal and euphoric at the same time. I wanted to laugh and cry and leap all at the same time. I passed. I passed the LEED AP exam! I know for those of you who passed the PE or the RA, this is like childs play. It's like flying the T-38 while the F-14s buzz the tower. But it's flying all the same! Who knows, maybe my perspective is wrong. Engineers and architects save the world from failure, rising heat, and bad design (most of the time!). LEED APs? Maybe we help save the world from ourselves...

My wife cried with joy (probobally relieved she wouldn't have to put up with another month of study!), and my kids... "Yeah dad, can we watch TV now?"

Friday, April 17, 2009


This is too funny to pass on! Click the BA-K-47 to follow the link.

I've got you babe... Letterboxing

We've been geocaching for several months now, and really enjoy it. Tonight we were FTF (first to find) at a beautiful cache that overlooked the lake, through a vinyard at sunset. Breathtaking. Geocaching is a family event, and mostly a 'dad and the kids event.' So two weeks ago I took up letterboxing with just my bride. It's a similar game, find a cache online; follow the clues; find the tupperware. Here's where it get's different. The tupperware contains a log book and hopefully a handcarved rubber stamp. You bring a find a stamp...and then you stamp each others logbooks. It's a treasure hunt, an artform and quality time with just my bride all in one.

That's us...we're Sonny and Cher. Look us up on And if you chance upon us on the caching trail maybe we'll sing a bar of "I've got you babe..." It's our song, after all!

NAVY Recruiting Poster

Through good guidance, and some abuse, I've found a blogging style that works for me. Flash a picture...write a few words and hit the "post" button. Today I'm going to let the picture speak for itself.

Brown M&Ms

When I was a kid, Van Halen came to Syracuse, NY. In addition to trashing the hotel, David Lee Roth demanded M&Ms...with all the brown ones removed. I always thought that was funny. It's funny how it's stuck with me for so many years. Last week I was asked to speak to a small group of graduating seniors. A wonderful young lady sent me an email, "Is there anything you need for Wednesday night?" Without hesitation I responded simply, 'M&Ms, browns removed." I never gave it another thought...until Wednesday night arrived, and on my podium was a cup of M&Ms. I set up the computer, wondering who had left their candy there. The screen fired up and only then did I check the second cup out of curiosity...yes - filled with Brown M&Ms! I laughed outloud to myself, felt slightly embarassed, and really quite happy. I guess it's true what they say - you don't get what you don't ask for. Thanks Ashley!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter morning 2009

Easter morning, 2009. 6:15 AM I got my youngest up. "Wanna geocache?!" A groggy, "Noooo. I want to sleep." "But there's a frog coin in the cache!" She leaps out of bed, and we're off. I'm in shorts, T-shirt and a light coat intending to go directly from the cache site to the church to coustume up for the Easter play. She's dressed more warmly, but her tiny body doesn't hold any heat. I'm pressing the speed limit as she reads the GPS and is methodically counting down tenths of miles and minutes to the target..." 9.3, 9.2, 9.1. Daddy, why does the clock say 06:30?" Because we're on a mission darling, now tell me the distance again, and what direction is the arrow pointing - are you holding the GPS straight forward?"

6 minutes 35 seconds. I calculate in my head and jump on the clover leaf. I've been watching the hints of sunrise in the rearview mirror since we left the house...there's time - Barely. No traffic, the car whips to the wrong side of the road and we stop overlooking the lake and let the morning take our breath away. Roll, roll, roll - snap - window back up and we're off again; still enchanted.

We got to the cache easily. Finding the box was a little harder 30 degree weather, laughing at the random flakes of snow falling. My gosh, it was cold. But we found it - signed the book and dashed home. "E," I said, show me the coin! "You've got it," she said. Have you ever tried to argue with an 8 year old?

I smiled, and remembered on this wonderful day, He has Risen!

PS-We went back and found the coin that she lost!

Pirates in Somalia: Chess 2009!

Pirates board US ship...pawn move.

Captain trades himself for crew...strategic bishop move.

Pirates take captain on life boat...pawn move #2

US crew retakes ship...strategic knight move

Lifeboat runs out of gas...pawn move#3. Pirates are clearly playing move to move.

Navy SEAL team had parachutes in and takes up positions on the Bainbridge's back deck...CHECK,

The on-scene commander responds appropriately and decisively to clear and imminant danger by authorizing lethal force. The SEAL's deliver from 75 feet, with night vision on the rolling seas...CHECKMATE.

Appartently the negiotations ended at that point. Pirates flip the board over screaming that somehow they were cheated and that revenge will be taken. Good luck next time - Not.

Admittedly I stole this, and tweaked it. As a chess player I love the analogy. I love when the good guys win. And it really irritates me that the real tragedy here is the Myth of Jack Sparrow is being tarnished by these clown!

Monday, April 13, 2009

of Pirates and Snipers

This summer I struggled with our design team on a project. It was the use of a word...well, actually two words that caused the conflict. Body count. It must be a carryover from the days when I wore green and carried an M-16! I learned a good lesson that day; listing the members of the team is not a body count, it's a meeting attendance list - an attendance list - an attendance list...OK, got it.

Though I try to get body count out of my mind, I find in yesterdays news that there are times when that term is appropriate and perfect...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Once upon a time

Life for me happens in events, moments...chapters. At least that's how I categorize it. As my children grow we tell stories. Stories of growing up, stories of dreams...stories we make up. Life is a story. Life is so many stories that blend together, ever changing, always becoming new. And stories change with our memory, or new information - or simply convenience. The government changes it's story all the time so it must be OK!
A friend gave me sound advice. He said, "stick to the high ground." No, wait - that was Sun Tzu. My friend said, "Stick to what you do best Button - A photo and some words. You're writing your life for your kids to read someday." He's right. I find it interesting, I look at the statistics of the hits to my blog. It's interesting to me, but not necessarily important. I like to see a new state or a new country represented. I like to see the same city frequently. But in truth I know that I really write for me...and for them. With this blog I no longer have to wonder where I left my notebook, or that scrap of paper. It's here. And it's here wherever I am if I can find an access point. How cool is that.
Though I like the convenience of this keyboard, I still love the feel of real ink or lead on real paper. I like stories that start with, "Once upon a time..." I guess I really should think of how to create a backup though. Shane?

Geocaching in a nutshell

Though I'd like to, I can't imagine what I could say that would improve this...
Spyfox5 out!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Geocaching...It's what I do

Geocaching is a new thing for us. You take a handheld GPS device, look at a website for clues and coordinates, and then trek into the woods looking for a hidden treasure. I love the tagline on the page, "The sport where YOU are the search engine." We're doing it as a family and we call ourselves the Spyfox5. This day, Sunday March 8th we went out in the afternoon caching. The coordinates led us deep into a cemetary the snow had recently melted out this. It left me speechless, and the geo-treasure dimmed in comparison.

The flags were all tipped, we straightened as many as we had time for and then moved on...moved by beauty and reverence and patriotism. Tonight we met Captain Jon and First Mate - but that's a story for tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

5 girls and a grandfather, or Charlies Frogpond

I've wrestled with the title to this one for a while. Today I just decided to write it. Maybe I'll write another based on the same day, but a different theme. So many things can happen in such a short amount of time...memorable things.

I have three girls. My friend has two. Close in age...all five adorable. The get along - five girls who all get along; how amazing is that?! Breakfast is our thing, and we invite guests anytime we can recruit them. I managed to twist my friends arm to bring his Dad, the girls were a bonus! I wrestled with the place for a long time - it had to be right. Charlies Frog Pond in Rochester was perfect. We met on the street and headed in, my friend immediately took control of the place. Getting and arranging the table like a military operation. With all my good Army training, I'd never seen anything like least not at breakfast. We all sat, the men on the outside, the five girls like sardines by the window. The sang and talked and acted silly. We were much more refined, doing "Top Gun" stories and carrying on. We looked at the girls suspiciously - they looked as us and whispered. It's good to have a healthy distrust of the opposite sex...especially when they're under 12 (or over 40)!

The grandfather was strategically place between us, and the girls. That way he could divide his attention as grandparents seem so able to do. And then it happened. The old stories. The old memories. A story my friend heard for the first time. One of those moments you put in the memory jar to keep forever. I learned about hope and perseverance and forgiveness. About prejudice and overcoming. I learned about love, and a little about magic. The girls are special...really special. But sometimes, just sometimes, it's the grandfather.
(Photo withheld to protect the innocent)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Buildings speak to us - A comment on Louis I. Kahn

I just watched My Architect. Dull, but interesting movie (is that an oxymoron?). I'm fascinated by the notion that buildings speak to us. I find myself so often intrigued by the architcture of a city. The details, the shapes, the way the structure meets the skyline. Buildings do speak, and it's up to us to listen. They speak with their words - sometimes we need to understand the language...massing, form, use of light. But what is most moving is what buildings say with their soul. I realize this is a bit reaching, but buildings (in a non-spiritual sense) do have souls, don't they? Can't we feel them, or at least their presence? Or maybe it's more. Can't we feel the soul of the man or woman who created the building, the icon, the statement?

Louis I. Kahn was charismatic. Talented. Passionate. I should like one day to experience one of his buildings. I find them brutal and ugly and bulky. Not attractive. Dated. But I suspect that like the man himself, they have a nuance and a depth and intricacy that must be felt, not just seen. To experience a building you have to come with your heart - not just your eyes. But is L. I. Kahn and Icon? (Can't resist the play on words). I deeply suspect not. Kahn was a liar. An unfaithful man. A man who placed no value on family or committment. And a man of deep desire, but no committment. He had three families. Three women who idolized him - but none of whom he was committed to. He didn't comprehend night and day. Family. The stuff that matters. But he was provocative. He illicits deep emotion. I think I would have liked him, but I also believe I wouldn't have respected him. From a distance he would have bothered me - Close up I would be intrigued...even fascinated. But I also believe that the upon leaving his company - like I immagine leaving his building will be - I would find myself disturbed by his lack of fullness and committment.

Tomorrow I'm going to take my family to an intriguing building. I'm going to teach them to listen, and then I'm going to listen to what they hear. I'm going to chose the place carefully. Buildings do speak to us - but maybe not all of them are worth listening to?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Is this sacreligeous...or...the Church Brew Works

It's a simple question, that's gotten such wide answers...often either passionate or passive. The place is called the Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh, PA. So, whadda ya think?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A friend of a Rock Star's dad

I'm laboring over a title for this one. It has to do with growing up. With getting older, but not getting old. And it poses the question, what was it like to be a friend of Mr. Morrison, Mr. Hendrix or even Mr. Jager (that is, Jim's dad, Jimmy's dad or Mick's dad). At work during lunch, we often all sit at a table reserved for the "other group." For years I've eyed suspiciously the group of old guys who sit near us. Today I relized that we're those guys. We've been doing this lunch thing for a long time now. But let me skip to Rock Stars. The topic lately has been Milo. Milo's the cool guy in the red and white stripes. Though Milo is one of the original members of RaRaRiot, I usually just think of him as "Tom's son." It's cool to have a friend who's the father of a Rock Star. It's great to watch Tom's excitement as he talks about the next city, the travel van, the free sneakers and the latest copy of Rolling Stone, or when he shares the next video or song before it's released...shhhhhh.... As I write these words I can't help think that Mick's dad had friends just like us. Friends who sat at lunch or coffee and talked politics and current events and listened to him brag on his son. I love it! But even if RaRaRiot becomes the next Rolling Stones, I suspect I'll always think of Milo as "Tom's son."