Saturday, September 26, 2020



Broken A/C Unit
Tequesta, FL
September er 26, 2020

Some trips seem fraught with opportunities to overcome adversity. As I begin day one of my escape to Florida to enjoy the condo before the 
winter season Chris and I are again confronted with misfortune.  

It seems that the electronic boards in our air conditioning unit expired during the two week period since we were last here. So we arrived in Florida with our two dogs in 90 degree heat and high humidity without an essential creature comfort. 

It is not too bad. Our friends offered an air conditioned comfort bedroom for the night, but we wanted to sleep in our own place. We did accept an additional fan to supplement our ceiling fans. We actually slept very well. 

Fortunately, our friends went to the condo during the early afternoon to get the a/c cooling in advance of our arrival and discovered the untimely demise of the system. That allowed us to actually get a repair person in to diagnose the problem before our arrival--but, as with most electronics lately, the parts need to be ordered and the earliest we can expect repair is, well, Tuesday! But, possibly later. That is the earliest!

I am reminded that I grew up without the comfort of air conditioning. People until about the mid-20th century lived routinely without air conditioning. My sixth floor dorm room at the University of Miami did not have air conditioning when I arrived there. I survived.

The dogs are taking it in stride.

We have had quite a time lately. The electronics board on the refrigerator went as we departed the condo a couple weeks ago, the exhaust on the truck needed to be repaired before we departed, and now the A/C. That is just the way it is I guess. 

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, Florida

Friday, September 25, 2020


Chris and I have found the remnants of Tropical Storm Beta near Lumberton, North Carolina. It is slowing our driving a bit, but the weather radar shows we are just skirting the southern remnants of the storm. We have five hours under our belts and the trip has been smooth.

Seeing the signs for South of the Border makes me smile as they always have when I have make the journey on I-95. The signs are new and so it must be open again. I had heard they were closed a couple years ago. Who knows if that is true.

We expect to be in rain until Savannah and then, hopefully better weather. I had to do an emergency repair on the truck exhaust system when I got home from work last evening and was successful. It reminded me of how much I do not like being on my back under vehicles doing repairs anymore. I did get a new tool however. I have a Dremel again. I used it to cut an old exhaust strap off the muffler.

Well about ten more hours to go before we arrive at home in Florida. I am looking forward to being wrapped in the heat and humidity. The 40s and 50s of the past two weeks have been a reality check reminding me that the dark season is coming.

— Bob Doan, Southern North Carolina

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Friday Eve


I have been joking about how Thursday has become Friday Eve--well, I guess it has always been Friday Eve but we just considered it to be another Thursday. 

It must be a sign of the times that I am looking forward to the weekend more and more. If I could pull it off, I might consider a way to extend the weekend.

A few decades ago, when I was stationed in Germany with the Air Force I enjoyed being in a NATO staff officers position. I learned that the different cultures of the then 16 nation NATO had distinctly different ideas about weekends. The best example was from the Belgians. They would leave at noon on Friday, allowing them to drive home to Belgium for the weekend, and not return until noon on Monday. We joked that it was a Belgian weekend. While at times it was a bit frustrating that they could leave half-way through Friday, in retrospect it was a good idea.

I wonder if I could implement that where I work?

Probably not.

So, I guess the best I can do is foster the idea of Friday Eve for Thursday and get everyone in that weekend state-of-mind a day early. 

At the least it will get their minds off coronavirus. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Whose Fault is It?


Yesterday, I heard the most viscerally offensive defense of the failed governmental COVID-19 policy yet. 

It was simply, if nothing had been done then the projections were that 2,000,000 Americans would have died. And that is supposed to be a defense? The experts are saying that if something had been done sooner perhaps 60,000 less people would have died.

The Atlantic postulated that: 

A Failure of Empathy Led to 200,000 Deaths. It Has Deep Roots.

And I can agree with that statement. 

The article I referenced is eye opening and saddening as it recounts studies which help to understand why we have become less energized to the magnitude of the losses.

The article contains this paragraph:

It’s hard for anyone to comprehend the sheer horror of mass death. As I [Olga Kazan, the author of the article] wrote in April, “compassion fade” sets in when victims are no longer individuals but statistics, and few Americans have witnessed something of this scale before. But there’s an additional explanation for this empathy deficit: Part of the reason this majority-white, majority-non-elderly country has been so blasé about COVID-19 deaths is that mostly Black people and old people are dying. Eight out of 10 American COVID-19 deaths have been among people older than 65; the rest of the dead are disproportionately Black. White people’s brains psychologically sort minorities as “out-groups” that stir less empathy. Segregated neighborhoods have also helped insulate white Americans from the horror Black Americans face, because the ambulance sirens and the packed hospital wards are typically far from their own zip codes. “We literally don’t see those deaths in the same way we might if we didn’t experience segregation,” says Nour Kteily, a management professor at Northwestern University who studies hierarchies.

What I see is that the United States is the world leader in cases and deaths and that after a small dip in the positivity rate during the past few weeks the daily number of new cases continues to rise even as testing has been reduced or even strangled in some areas. 

We are going in the wrong direction and it appears that no one is committed to combatting the proliferation of the disease.

It is similar to the situation where the Congress cannot get relief to people in need from the economic disaster that COVID-19 has caused in the country.

Change is needed! We can argue about who is at fault, but it really doesn't matter--everyone is at fault. Each of us is at fault if we have not taken the time to communicate to our elected representatives that sober plans, answers, and actions are needed now. The time for partisan politics has passed. 200,000 Americans are dead and more are dying daily. 

Whose fault is it? 

It doesn't matter whose fault it is. What we need is leadership that will take charge and work to solve the problem rather than denying that there is a problem or blaming it on someone else.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Normal Saturday Returns


Chris and I enjoyed a more normal, BC* Saturday this past weekend. 

Ready at the Plate
Loch Haven Park, Maryland
September 19, 2020

We went to and enjoyed an autumn youth league baseball game. It was a clear, crisp, cold autumn morning with temperatures in the 40s as we woke and in the 50s at game time. We drove to the game, which had a 10:00 AM first pitch time looking forward to being back at a baseball field watching our grandson play ball.

Getting the Sign
Loch Haven Park, Maryland
September 19, 2020

We dressed warmly, but not warmly enough--I needed to get into the sun every half-inning to absorb enough warmth to enjoy the game as we were seated in the shade. I could have chosen to move to a sunny spot, but we were between the dugout and home plate on the first base side of the field right at the fence. It was a great position to watch the game that I used to coach.

The game started late and went the full two hours ending about 12:30 PM. It was a great escape from the news of the day which caused me to enjoy the outing even more. Jax had a frustrating day at the plate but pitched three solid innings allowing one earned run and throwing only 44 pitches. 

After the game, it was time to work around the house and enjoy the sunny, yet cool, day outside. I mowed the lawn and tended to some other minor projects ending the day, as Chris and I do, enjoying a glass of wine chatting about life, the future, and dreaming a bit about times to come while mindful of things past.  

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

*Note: BC is Before COVID

Monday, September 21, 2020

Monday Musings - September 21, 2020


1. It is the third Monday of September. There is one Monday remaining this month.

2. Does anyone else feel as if Summer just abandoned us and departed? The temperatures have really taken a fall this week. I am very glad that I closed the pool last week.

3. Saw this shirt on Facebook--I might decide to purchase one because it is too true. 

4. I ran across the above home COVID-19 test. I followed the instructions and took the test myself. It worked.

5. Yesterday was a beautiful Autumn day--wait, Autumn does not begin until tomorrow!

6. Family NFL Weekend Report
     Ravens (2-0) defeat Texans (0-2) 33-16
     Cowboys (1-1) defeat Falcons (0-2) 40-39
     Steelers (2-0) defeat Broncos (0-2) 26-21
     WFT (1-1) lose to Cardinals (2-0) 15-30

7. The Orioles have assured themselves of another losing season. They are 23-31, .426, with just six games left to play. I had expected them to win 21 games and at least they did better than my prediction. And they were even in the playoff hunt in September--well, until the Orioles annual September losing streak kicked in. 

8. Today in History. On September 21, 1780, during the American Revolution, American General Benedict Arnold meets with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British, in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled and Arnold, a former American hero, became synonymous with the word “traitor.”

Ronald Reagan Quote for the week

“Let me speak plainly: The United States of America is and must remain a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. Our very unity has been strengthened by this pluralism. That's how we began; this is how we must always be. The ideals of our country leave no room whatsoever for intolerance, anti-Semitism, or bigotry of any kind -- none. The unique thing about America is a wall in our Constitution separating church and state. It guarantees there will never be a state religion in this land, but at the same time it makes sure that every single American is free to choose and practice his or her religious beliefs or to choose no religion at all. Their rights shall not be questioned or violated by the state.

-- Remarks at the International Convention of B'nai B'rith, 6 September 1984” 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Rumors, certainty, and inclusiveness

I received an email the other day. It stated that because rumors of change had made it to leadership and to ensure transparency this email is . . . 

The email went on to confirm that potentially significant change is being planned, but the details have not been worked out.

It struck me then that: 

Rumors are the evidence for lack of transparency. 

Now I have also read that in the absence of certainty, rumors flourish.

There must be a way to bring both of these concepts together. 

In the article, Transparency, Certainty and Rumors, Matt Reed, the author, makes the point that one can be transparent but that the lack of certainty becomes the real problem. He writes the following:

Truth is like water. Still water is transparent. Running water isn’t. Right now, we’re in the rapids; the water itself may be transparent, but it’s rushing so fast that it’s hard to see what’s next. Will warm weather hit before the virus explodes, or will the virus explode before warm weather hits? I don’t know.

In the absence of certainty, rumors flourish. Admittedly, some of them are fun; I liked the observation on Twitter that ever since Ted Cruz self-quarantined, there haven’t been any more Zodiac murders. It’s technically true, though perhaps a bit misleading.

I understand his point, but in the description of the situation which caused him to write about certainty I believe that he was not being totally transparent, despite his assertion to the contrary. By not actively providing the information about decisions surrounding closing the college to the workforce instead of having them contact him individually, he turned the running water into swirling rapids through lack of transparency. 

Rumors fill the gap between known and imagined. When leadership fails to keep the workforce, including the subordinate leaders, informed then the resulting rumors can make it hard to implement a great plan before it even gets off the ground. Rumors call into question the leadership intentions before they even get a chance to socialize the reasons for change.

The problem comes when leadership is certain there is going to be a significant change, but because they have not fully characterized the details of the change they withhold the information.

That brings up inclusiveness. Why is significant change planned without including the workforce? That goes against every current leadership principle and hearkens back to the draconian management days of the 60's. 

Including the workforce at the beginning of the change planning is much better for the organization than dropping change on them. Surprise change sows mistrust

And let me add a point--mistrust at the operational and tactical leadership levels of the organization could transform into buy-in through inclusiveness.

Rumors, then, are evidence for lack of transparency. There are additional symptoms to be considered, for instance lack of certainty and inclusiveness--but together with lack of transparency these all point to failed leadership. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 19, 2020

A Pause to Remember


The news last evening of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the age of 87 was although not unexpected it was shocking and saddening. 

The headline from and NPR article provides a view of the impact that this Supreme Court Justice had on America. 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87

She was the second woman ever to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. 

Her marital advice, "It helps sometimes to be a little deaf" is important to consider and follow. 

The political ramifications of Ginsburg's death are huge and, sadly, already being discussed and debated. In my view, these discussions should be placed on hold to allow her family and the country to mourn her passing. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, September 18, 2020

Red v Blue


2016 Electoral College Results

America is becoming almost hopelessly divided between Red and Blue.

Yesterday, the president made a point of dividing the states between red and blue while speaking of the coronavirus and COVID-19. 

To what end?

Is he not the president of the United States? Listening to him it would seem that the is the president of only the red states? 

The New York Times reports on a statement he made yesterday:

“If you take the blue states out,” he said, “we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level.”

The statement was as jarring as it was revealing, indicative of a leader who has long seemed to view himself more as the president of Red America rather than the United States of America. On the pandemic, immigration, crime, street violence and other issues, Mr. Trump regularly divides the country into the parts that support him and the parts that do not, rewarding the former and reproving the latter.

  Source: For Trump, It’s Not the United States, It’s Red and Blue States, New York Times, edited September 18, 2020

The constant division of America into camps that are wither for or against the president is reminiscent of elementary school playground politics. Which are the "in" kids today?

The stream of "dissatisfied former employees," as Vice President Pence called them recently, coming from White House staff positions all telling similar stories should send off alarm bells that something is not good at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. No other administration has had such a stream of dissatisfied former employees in the history of the United States. And the story they tell is the same, I almost do not need to buy any of the newly published books to have the writings of previous authors confirmed.

We need to end the division of our people, our land, and our leadership. 

We must become the land of e pluribus unum again.

A "house divided against itself cannot stand." (Matt 12:25 and Abraham Lincoln)

Our nation may not survive coronavirus unless the we start working together.

Let's change the color of the election map to something like black and gray--which are shades of each other. We must find unity while celebrating diversity.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Happy Constitution


It is time to celebrate the document upon which our freedom and Republic are founded. 

The Constitution!

It is Constitution Day!

On September 17, 1787, the Founding Fathers signed the most influential document in American history, the U.S. Constitution. (Source: National Constitution Center)

It would be a good day to go to Philadelphia to enjoy the festivities--wait, except for coronavirus. But the festivities will be on line. 

A good reference for the celebration is the National Constitution Center

Lately, it seems, that the Constitution is under attack by people who should understand what is contained within it, but choose not to accept what is written. 

Take a moment today to read the Preamble to the Constitution and maybe review one or more of the articles and amendments. They are important!

Happy Constitution Day!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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