Monday, February 17, 2020

Monday Musings - February 17, 2020

1. It is already President's Day and that means that February is more than half complete. The year is slipping by. 

2. I noted that it was 60 degrees warmer when I arrived back in Elkridge yesterday than it had been on Saturday morning in Ithaca. The change was Minus 6 in Ithaca to 54 degrees in Elkridge. 

3. Yesterday was a tough day for the grandsons in the basketball playoffs. Both teams lost. Sadly. Next week are the consolation games.

4. Spring Training is underway in Sarasota, Florida. In less than two weeks I will be seeing the Baby Birds for myself and getting a feel for the upcoming season. 

5. It was great driving to Upstate New York over the weekend. We did not have to contend with crushing traffic either going up or coming back. 

Canada Geese on Cayuga Lake
February 15, 2020
6. Geese. We saw thousands of Canada geese over the weekend. Some were in Central Pennsylvania taking off on their journey north and others were settled on the shores and waters of Cayuga Lake near Sheldrake Point, New York. 

7. Of course, I visited two of my favorite Finger Lakes wineries over the weekend to restock my collection of Rieslings. Sadly, one of the wineries is closing, Americana Vineyards apparently has fallen upon hard times. It is unclear whether the financial difficulties are tax or strictly over extended business practices. 

8. Today in History. On February 17, 1904, Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly premieres at the La Scala theatre in Milan, Italy.
The young Puccini decided to dedicate his life to opera after seeing a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida in 1876. In his later life, he would write some of the best-loved operas of all time: La Boheme (1896), Tosca (1900), Madame Butterfly (1904) and Turandot (left unfinished when he died in 1924). Not one of these, however, was an immediate success when it opened. La Boheme, the now-classic story of a group of poor artists living in a Paris garret, earned mixed reviews, while Tosca was downright panned by critics.


S.C. authorities investigating death of 6-year-old missing girl - OAN 

Slowed by the Coronavirus, China Struggles to Reopen for Business - The New York Times

Fourteen Americans evacuated from another cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the virus.  - The New York Times

Hundreds of Americans flown home from cruise ship - Reuters

No let up in Taliban attacks, fresh orders awaited over deal with U.S. - Reuters

President's Day Quote for the Week

In celebration of President's Day, a quote from George Washington.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Coloring with Mom
Coloring With Mom
Hunt, New York
February, 14, 2020
Coloring Together
Mom, Dad, and Me
February 14, 2020
As I wrote, Valentine’s Day was special. I had the opportunity to spend some time with my mom and dad. We had an enjoyable time together. One of the really cool things that I did with my mom was coloring a picture. We spent some quality time together at the kitchen table selecting colors and filling in the blank areas on the picture. It was something I remember doing when I was a small boy.  She would help me stay between the lines and choose the colors. I always had some wild color combinations in my head, like why can't the sky be green? . 

It was a special time with Mom and Dad was right there watching over the production of the masterpiece. It was a creation and the markers we used worked better than Crayola crayons. I remember that when I was a kid and was coloring that the crayons would break, at least the tips if not the entire crayon, and when they got warm in my hand the wax begin to melt. The markers we used on Friday had none of those problems. 

We made a memory together. The picture we colored was totally secondary.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Valentine's Day to Remember

Hunt, NY
Temperature 3 Degrees
February 14, 2020
I hope Valentine’s Day was a good experience for you. I was able to have both lunch and dinner with my parents and Chris and that made the day perhaps the most special Valentine's Day ever.

The drive to New York was great. There was very little traffic and we made the trip in near record time. Driving is a lot of fun when the roads are open. Last evening, as we drove the last part of the trip and arrived in Ithaca the roads were so empty that they were eeriest devoid traffic. It was as if the Zombie Apocalypse had begun.  

Out the Window
Ithaca, NY minus 6 as dawn breaks
February 15, 2020
Just by way of update. It is minus 6 this morning when I woke in Ithaca. Cold only begins to describe the atmosphere. But it was clear and gorgeous. The sunrise stretched across the entire horizon over Cayuga Lake. 

Despite the cold, it was good to see the sun, finally. I needed sunshine, and I could feel its warmth on my face even in the cold. Next, I need a palm tree fix.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Friday, February 14, 2020

It is cold

I just took this picture of the dashboard thermometer. We are a few miles south of the NY-PA border headed north. Ugh is got cold. It was 39 when we departed home at 5:20.

Welcome to the cold. We are also north of the snow line which began just south of Mansfield, PA.

— Bob Doan, somewhere in PA on route 15

The Flamingo

The Flamingo
February 13, 2020
Chris and I celebrated Valentine's Day early. We went to dinner last evening and exchanged cards.

In a great stroke of complete surprise Chris got me a flamingo that I had seen in Pier 1. I was very pleased as I love flamingos and we have a room in our Florida Home dedicated to the birds. Yes, they can be a bit overwhelming, but they are just the ultimate warm climate bird!

It was a great Valentine's Day celebration and now we are off on a journey to the cold northlands to bring some Valentine's cheer to a very special couple.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Body of Work

I have noticed a trend in reporting that focuses upon specific acts  or statements which are then used to arrive at a larger conclusion about that persons intentions. Often the acts or statements are out of context and when examined in the light of their "body of work" are clearly intended to portray an facade to a specific group of people, usually for the intention of getting reelected or encouraging support from their base of support. 

I have been amazed at how quickly people grasp at these singular acts to justify a candidate's position which, when examined further, are not supported by actions. 

Here is an example from the State of the Union Address. The New York Times reports

This is misleading. 

Not only has President Trump failed to strengthen Medicare and Social Security, but the financial outlook for both trusts has not improved or worsened. That is at least partly the result of Mr. Trump’s tax law, which has left the Treasury Department to collect fewer taxes from Americans and, in turn, invest less money into each program. Last April, the government projected that Medicare funds would be depleted by 2026, three years earlier than estimated in 2017. The report noted that less money will flow into the fund because of low wages and lower taxes. 

And interesting observation--what was said is starkly different from reality. 

And another item from the New York Times analysis of the State of the Union address.

This is false.

The nonpartisan International Trade Commission has estimated that the agreement would create about 28,000 jobs in the auto sector. President Trump’s own United States trade representative has a higher estimate — 76,000 new jobs in the next five years — but still one that falls short of Mr. Trump’s claims today. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement raises barriers to imported cars and car parts in an effort to encourage auto manufacturing in the United States, which results in some job gains. But in so doing, it will also raise the price of American cars and other vehicles, and lower both vehicle consumption and production, economists say.

Everything needs context. Especially in an election year.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

With malice toward none, with charity for all

The gray rainy days are making me want escape to somewhere with blue skies and bright sunshine along with warm temperatures. 

Oh wait, I have a place like that in Florida, but I have to work. And this weekend I am heading north to spend Valentines Day with a very special couple--my parents. I hope it doesn't snow. 

Baltimore Weather Forecast February 12-17
It is going to be a cold weekend in Maryland, but no rain. There is supposed to be sun, finally. And frigid temperatures. I guess it is good that I am headed north into snow and colder temperatures.

Today, however, is an important day--it is President Lincoln's birthday. He was born February 12, 1809. Of course he is famous as a president and for the Gettysburg Address, but one of his most notable quotes comes from his second inaugural address given March 4, 1865 on the eve of victory in the Civil War:  With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. 

Lincoln's words are a stark contrast from those which we hear on a daily basis it seems coming from the highest halls of Washington, D.C.

Lincoln is generally considered one of the three best presidents along with Washington and Franklin Roosevelt. He died just 42 days into his second term and just about a week after the Civil War was won. I wonder how different our country would be today had he lived to govern over the reconstruction and heal the wounds that led the nation to war. 

Our leaders need to take note of his greatness and his vision for the war torn country. True greatness is embodied in the words: With malice toward none, with charity for all.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Fun Fact--Guess which other famous person was born on February 12, 1809. Answer tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Vindictiveness and Crowd Mentality

As the days continue in the DC area since last week's acquittal, the intensity of the verbal abuse seems to increase exponentially. And with the abuse, it seems that rational people are being swept into the maelstrom.

I read an opinion piece yesterday by someone who is being victimized by the abuse. He wrote about the abuse from a different perspective, which sent me scurrying back into my memory for similarities that I remember from history. 

James Comey, former Director of the FBI was the author, but it was not so much about the abuse that he personally is experiencing, but rather the reaction of rational, Christian-professing people to the abusive vitriol. I know many will argue about Comey and what he did--that in not the point here. In, James Comey: As usual, Trump called me a sleaze. But the audience reaction to his rant was more upsetting, he writes:

The important thing was what happened in the audience, where there were plenty of intelligent people of deep commitment to religious principle. They laughed and smiled and clapped as a president of the United States lied, bullied, cursed and belittled the faith of other leaders. That was the deeply disturbing part of the East Room moment, and should challenge us all.

How it is possible that they didn’t get up and walk out — that they seemed to participate actively in something they should know was deeply wrong? How could they smile and laugh? Because they are people. And, like all people, they too easily surrender their individual moral authority to a group, where it can be hijacked by the loudest, harshest voice. I know because I’ve done it.

from Wikipedia
I was reminded of a confession written by Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoeller, which is quoted in part in the National Holocaust Museum:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Where are we headed? 

"Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

Where are we headed as a people, a society, as a country? I think we need to take a self assessment and pledge ourselves to show civility towards others and resist the temptation to become one of the crowd.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, February 10, 2020

Monday Musings - February 10, 2020

1. Mid-February is upon us. How quickly the days seem to be passing.

2. Baseball season is finally upon us. Orioles pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training tomorrow! And so it begins. My pre-season prediction, unfortunately, is for the Orioles to finish 57-105. It will be their third consecutive 100 loss season and their fourth consecutive losing season.

3. I am heading to Orioles Spring Training in just over two weeks to review the team's rebuilding progress in person. 

4. The weather was beautiful this past weekend. It was nice to enjoy pleasant February days while waiting for the big one. 

5. As the winter continues into the middle of February, I am thankful that it has been mild here.

6. Civility matters! We need to be understanding of each other. Disagree over facts, but do not attack the person.

7. Winners should be magnanimous, losers should be humble, and those on the sidelines should remember where they are.

8. Counting our blessings means that every day we recognize that we have more good things in our lives than we do negative things.

9. Today in History. On February 10, 1996, after three hours, world chess champion Garry Kasparov loses the first game of a six-game match against Deep Blue, an IBM computer capable of evaluating 200 million moves per second.  Man was ultimately victorious over machine, however, as Kasparov bested Deep Blue in the match with three wins and two ties and took home the $400,000 prize. An estimated 6 million people worldwide followed the action on the Internet.

Coronavirus deaths climb as China corrals sick in quarantine facilities - The Washington Post

Foreign interference in elections is unacceptable. Congress must make it illegal. - The Washington Post

Ransomware Attacks Grow, Crippling Cities and Businesses - The New York Times

3 Officers Wounded in Targeted Attacks on Police in the Bronx - The New York Times

China's coronavirus death toll surpasses SARS - Reuters

Iranian 'Victory' satellite fails to reach orbit - Reuters

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

The objective I propose is quite simple to state: to foster the infrastructure of democracy - the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities - which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means. - Ronald Reagan

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Vengeance vs Civility

The country is recovering from the events of the past weeks. We have arrived at the beginning of the new week and I have had the opportunity to process some of the recent events.

The biggest topic on my mind was how we ended the week. I am concerned about vengeance and revenge that has been and is being extracted from people. The playground mentality that we are living with right now at the highest levels of our government suggest that "to the victor belong the spoils" and that the winners get to set the rules. In my mind too many people are supporting this thuggish mentality. Too many self-professed Christian people, at that.

There is a higher authority who has delivered a very clear message about vengeance, retribution, and revenge. 

Romans 12:19-20
 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Leviticus 19:18:
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Deuteronomy 32:35:
Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’

Consequences? Yes, there are consequences for actions, but consequences should not be equated with vengeance or revenge. There is no room for playground thuggishness in our government. We must break the cycle of "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth." The language of our leaders sets the tone for the entire country. The consequences of inciting language and the liberal meting of vengeance will be suffered by us all.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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