Friday, May 7, 2021

The Sky is Falling

People watch a Long March 5B rocket, carrying China's Tianhe space station core module,
as it lifts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China's Hainan province on April 29, 2021.
Getty Images

 It promises to be a spectacular show somewhere in the world as an expended Chinese rocket body makes an uncontrolled reentry to the planet form space this weekend. 

It has raised a lot of attention here in there U.S. and I have read storied in almost every major news paper including The New York Times and The Washington Post. 

This morning, however, I am going once again to Scientific American for their view on the problem. 

Falling Uncontrolled from Space, Giant Chinese Rocket Highlights Risk of Orbital Debris

First though, this is not as new problem. As Scientific American points out debris has been falling from space for years. And some of it is big and actually does make it to the surface of the planet. The problem is described below from the article:

“It really isn’t about this one rocket body … because every rocket body in Earth orbit is uncontrolled,” explains T.S. Kelso of CelesTrak, an analytical group that keeps an eye on Earth-orbiting objects.

The true magnitude of the problem can be identified by a quick check on CelesTrak.

“It shows there are 2,033 rocket bodies in Earth orbit … at least those that we have orbital data for, as there may be more classified ones. Of course, every one of them is uncontrolled. Of the 2,033, 546 belong to the U.S. and only 169 belong to China.

“Maybe we all need to be more responsible and not leave uncontrolled rocket bodies in orbit,” Kelso told Inside Outer Space.

But the U.S. isn’t even the worst offender in terms of orbiting booster debris. That would be Russia, with 1,035 rocket bodies.

“There are another 66 rocket bodies in Earth orbit that we have no data for, because they are classified,” Kelso noted. That is, there are no “where are they?” orbit elements available. “Most we have no idea what orbit they are in, so they could re-enter or just run into something else in orbit, pretty much without any warning.”

One of those is from a 1967 launch, and eight are from launches in the 1970s, Kelso added.

For the most part, we, living on the planet have been lucky. Most of the rocket bodies that make it back crash harmlessly in the ocean. Every so often, big pieces, like this one, generate some concern and then after nothing bad happens we quickly forget about the problem. That needs to change and all of the space-faring nations of the planet need to work together to remedy the growing space junk situation.

A good site to track the progress of the Chinese rocket deorbit is It could be a spectacular show somewhere on the Earth.

The sky really is falling, Chicken Little.

-- Bob Doan, ELkridge, MD

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Orioles Write History


John Means Throwing Complete Game No Hitter
Seattle, WA
May 5, 2021

It happened yesterday in Seattle--John Means threw the first no hitter of the 21st Century for the Orioles. 

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first non-perfect no-no in Major League history that didn't include a walk, a hit by pitch or an error. This marked the first career complete game for Means, who tied a career high with 12 strikeouts. (MLB.COM)

What kept the game from being a perfect game was a batter reaching base on a dropped third strike who was subsequently thrown out attempting to steal second. 

There have been 10 no hitters in Orioles history--6 since moving to Baltimore for the 1954 season. There is even a no hitter in Orioles history where the two pitchers combined for a loss. The last no hitter was thrown during the 1991 season.

Last evening, the Orioles won over Seattle, 6-0.

The Orioles are sitting one game under .500 and 3 games out of first place!

Congratulations to John Means on the game of his life!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Cinco de Mayo

 It has arrived again. My favorite foreign holiday. OK, maybe it is a foreign inspired holiday. 

I have written about the historical significance of Cinco de Mayo in previous blogs. 

This year, I offer the deeper view of why Cinco de Mayo should be celebrated more widely in the U.S. It is a article titled, How Cinco de Mayo Helped Prevent a Confederate Victory in the Civil War. It makes good reading and helps to demonstrate the global interconnectedness that we live every day--even back in the mid-1800's. It is impossible in the modern world to become isolationist.

Following on from yesterday, which was May the 4th Be With You, today is also Revenge of the 5th, or Star Wars Day 2. 

And so there is a lot to celebrate and enjoy as this Month of May begins. Coming up there are celebrations for Victory in Europe Day on the 8th and 9th, and then don't forget Mother's Day on Sunday the 9th. 

In my mind--everyone loves a celebration!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Just in Time, Isn't

New Ford F-150 pickup trucks were unableto be sold because of the global
 shortage of semiconductor chips
From the Wall Street Journal

Tuesday taunts me.

As I wake in the morning, Tuesday says to me, I am not Monday and I am not Wednesday--what are you going to do today? 

I struggle with that. 

This Tuesday is seems that the auto industry is struggling with something that the U.S. military did away with a decade ago--Just in time logistics. 

According to an article in this morning's The Wall Street Journal titled, 

It doesn't work during wartime because there are too many things that need to be controlled for it to work. 

COVID-19 has exposed the weakness in the system and that in resulting in production problems for manufacturers. From the article:

The hyperefficient auto supply chain symbolized by the words “just in time” is undergoing its biggest transformation in more than half a century, accelerated by the troubles car makers have suffered during the pandemic. After sudden swings in demand, freak weather and a series of accidents, they are reassessing their basic assumption that they could always get the parts they needed when they needed them.

“The just-in-time model is designed for supply-chain efficiencies and economies of scale,” said Ashwani Gupta, Nissan Motor Co.’s chief operating officer. “The repercussions of an unprecedented crisis like Covid highlight the fragility of our supply-chain model.”

It is fascinating to watch manufacturing giants relearn what they thought they knew as the global economy becomes more entwined. 

The manufacturers are moving to a hybrid system where the most critical parts are stockpiled. Toyota, according to the article, is stockpiling a 4 month supply of some of its critical parts. 

"Just in time" is used by other corporations as well and the pandemic coupled with the Texas weather event is forcing a rethinking of how supplies should be stockpiled. 

Maybe "just in time" is finally becoming "in the right amount." Just a thought.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, May 3, 2021

Monday Musings - May 3, 2021


1. The first Monday of May has arrived. Wow. The year is 1/3 complete. There are five Mondays in May culminating with Memorial Day on May 31st. 

2. Friends and family make the weekend enjoyable. Chris and I enjoyed a great weekend.

3. The pool is open! The temperature went from 55 degrees to 64 degrees in one day. 

AL East Standings as of Games through May 2, 2021
4. My New York Times Sunday paper was delivered without a front section yesterday. How does that happened. It worked out though because I called the circulation desk and they gave me 50 percent off for the next 24 weeks. That works out to less than the listed price on the paper. Plus I still get full-time digital access.

5. With the loss yesterday, the Orioles manages to find sole possession of the cellar of the AL East. The good news is that they are only 2 games below .500 and they did win the series on Oakland, even with the loss. 

6. The weather has been great. I am guessing that we will get a bit of rain this week, but we need it. The pool is open, however, bring on the 80's and 90's.

7. Today in History. On May 3, 1469, the Italian philosopher and writer Niccolo Machiavelli is born. A lifelong patriot and diehard proponent of a unified Italy, Machiavelli became one of the fathers of modern political theory.

Machiavelli entered the political service of his native Florence by the time he was 29. As defense secretary, he distinguished himself by executing policies that strengthened Florence politically. He soon found himself assigned diplomatic missions for his principality, through which he met such luminaries as Louis XII of France, Pope Julius II, the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and perhaps most importantly for Machiavelli, a prince of the Papal States named Cesare Borgia. The shrewd and cunning Borgia later inspired the title character in Machiavelli’s famous and influential political treatise The Prince (1532).

Biden’s Proposals Aim to Give Sturdier Support to the Middle Class - The New York Times

At Least 4 Die After Human-Smuggling Boat Hits Reef Near San Diego - The New York Times

Police officers’  hesitancy to get coronavirus vaccine poses  safety risks - The Washington Post

How the global chip shortage might affect people who just want to wash their dogs - The Washington Post

Record Lumber Prices Lift Sawmills as Homeowners, Do-it-Yourselfers Pay - The Wall Street Journal

Biden, Republicans Set Talks Over Competing Infrastructure Plans - The Wall Street Journal

India’s COVID-19 cases near 20 million, peak seen nearingIndia - Reuters

EuropeGerman police make arrests over massive child pornography website - Reuters

Ronald Reagan quote for the Week

We went to China to advance the prospects for stability and peace throughout the world. And we went to illustrate, by our presence, our sincere desire for good relations. We went to meet again with the Chinese and review our concerns and our differences. And we went to China to further define our own two countries' relationship -- and, by defining it, advance it.

And I feel that we have progress to report. I had long and thoughtful meetings with the Chinese leadership, comprehensive meetings. We each listened carefully to what the other had to say. We discussed and agreed to cooperate more closely in the areas of trade, investment, technology, and exchanges of scientific and managerial expertise. We concluded an important agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We agreed that in this imperfect world, peace in its most perfect form cannot always be reached -- but it must always be our goal. And we, the people of China and the United States, must make our best efforts to bring greater harmony between our two countries.

It's a good thing for the world when those who are not allies remain open to each other. And it's good to remember that competitors sometimes have mutual interests, and those interests can make them friends.

Remarks Upon Returning From China, May 1, 1984

-- Bob Doan Elkridge, MD

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Beating the Flu

 I read an article in scientific American this morning that made an interesting point.

The public health measures that were implemented to stop coronavirus work really well on the flu.

That is actually the subtitle of the article:

Flu Has Disappeared Worldwide during the COVID Pandemic

And it makes sense. The flu spreads through person-to-person contact and through unclean hygiene. 

Here is the dramatic part. During the most recent flu season, the U.S. saw only about 600 deaths attributed to the flu when the previous two seasons saw 22,000 and 34,000 respectively. Wow.

Of course people were dying from COVID-19, but the double-whammy everyone was expecting apparently did not materialize. Thankfully. 

I'm not going to call it a silver lining in a dark cloud. But, it is something to be thankful for.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Pool Opening Day


The Cover is just off the pool
Elkridge, MD
May 1, 2021

The day has finally arrived and the weather is great.

The pool is opened.


I had a bit of help and I am still getting it in shape for actual use, but the pool cover is off and stored and the pump is running. It is an exciting day. 

I realizes that this is my 21st pool opening day since we have lived in our house. It truly is exciting and with the exception of the very first year, I have opened it without professional help every year. 

It really looks very good. It is much greener in the picture than in real life. And the deep end is totally clear--all the way to the bottom!

I sense a great season of pool activity about to start.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, April 30, 2021

A Hero Passes

Michael Collins
Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot

 Wednesday, April 28th in Naples, Florida, a legend of the space program passed away. 

Michael Collins was the Command Module pilot for Apollo 11, the first mission to land humans on the Moon. He never placed a foot on the surface of the Moon, but he was definitely an integral part of the mission which occurred 52 years ago.

Of the three astronauts on that mission, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, it was Collins that I always admired most. I never felt that he was slighted in any way by not getting to walk on the Moon--he did his job and the mission was a success because of his contribution. He was an example for me demonstrating that success requires contributions form many people and while not everyone can be the center of attention; everyone has a role in achieving mission success.

Michael Collins wrote a book about the space program called Carrying the Fire. It was a revealing inside look at  what the astronauts experienced. I have read that book more than once because it was exciting to relive the experience of going to the moon but also learning about what it meant to be an astronaut in the 1960's. Amazingly, the first edition of the book which was published in 1974 is for sale on Amazon for $473!

In his obituary in The Guardian, Collins is quoted as saying: 

In 2019, on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, he said: “I may, in normal times, go a month or two without thinking about it. But when I do, it comes back with a great deal of clarity, more than I would have guessed.”

I, too, remember that great achievement of Apollo 11 and the ". . . one giant leap for mankind" that he helped make happen.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, April 29, 2021

The President Speaks

 Doug Mills/The New York Times

 I thought President Biden gave a great speech last evening that laid out a plan for the future of America. Let me start there. 

It has been 100 days since Joe Biden was inaugurated. America is a very different place that it was four years ago, but there is hope for the future. 

I reviewed the transcript this morning and continued to be impressed with the attempt at inclusiveness. I was impressed that there were cogent sentences that laid out complex policies without vilifying any particular group. There were invitations to join together and a call for working together restart America. The president laid out a Jobs Plan and called for the Congress to jointly approve the plan to move America forward. 

The president said:

We all know life can knock us down. But in America, we never, ever, ever stay down. Americans always get up. Today, that’s what we’re doing. America is rising anew. Choosing hope over fear, truth over lies and light over darkness. After 100 days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for a takeoff, in my view. We’re working again, dreaming again, discovering again and leading the world again. We have shown each other and the world that there’s no quit in America. None.  (from NY Times)

The president is calling for government to rescue Americans caught in the middle of an economic downturn and COVID-19. how can anyone be against that? Wait, this is still America and people are allowed to dissent.

And how to bring about renewal? I found the following to be especially exciting:

Look, think about it. There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing. No reason. None. No reason. So folks, there’s no reason why Americans — American workers can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries. There is no reason. We have the capacity. They’re best-trained people in the world. The American Jobs Plan is going to create millions of good-paying jobs, jobs Americans can raise a family on. As my dad would then say, with a little breathing room. And all the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: Buy American. Buy American.

As the president pointed out, this is nothing new and it was not invented by his predecessor. The president went on to say:

And I might note parenthetically, that does not violate any trade agreement. It’s been the law since the ’30s, buy American. American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products, made in America, to create American jobs. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, and it will be in this administration.

I was encouraged by what I heard. Sadly, the opposite side has not proposed solutions, only objections. My view is if you want to object that's fine, but what are you proposing instead? 

The president noted:

I have never been more confident or optimistic about America. Not because I am president. Because of what’s happening with the American people. We’ve stared into the abyss of insurrection and autocracy, pandemic and pain, and “We the people” did not flinch.

I hope the momentum of the first 100 days can continue and that more and more the opposition will decide that there is merit in the ideas. At least there is a plan to discuss and determine the future for America. I still cannot fathom how we can decide against helping Americans in need.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

As the Sun Rises

Sunrise through the Trees from my Drive
Elkridge, MD
April 22, 2021

 There is something inherently cool about waking up in my Florida condo, flying out and being at work by 11:30 AM that same day. That is, of course compared to a 15 hour drive. I did that on Monday and yesterday I retrieved Chris from the airport officially ending our Florida get away to reset the condo for our eventual full-time occupancy.

Thursday morning, as I was preparing to drive off to work and before I flew out for Florida, I noticed something as I was about to get into the car. It was the sunrise through the trees. But not just a sunrise as the trees have filled with leaves. 

They begin so slowly, the leaves, and then they are suddenly there providing shade and transforming the landscape from the bleak winter hues into the lush green. The canopy has returned.

I am glad that in the most of my busyness that I was able to pause for a moment and enjoy the sunrise through the trees. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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