Friday, February 22, 2019

A Fly? Really?

Fly on a Sprite Can
Elkridge, MD
February 21, 2019
During the middle part of my sick day yesterday, the weather cleared and the temperatures warmed. Chris and I went outside to sit in the warm sunshine with the intention of increasing our Vitamin D production and help me get over this rotten cold which seems to have settled in my chest. 

As we were sitting outside, on a late-February day enjoying the near 60 degree temperatures in bright sunshine, I noticed a fly had landed on the lip of my Sprite can. I was amazed that the fly was there since the day before had been snowy and cold. How could an insect survive such conditions. But there it was. Enjoying the sunshine and the sugar on the lip of my can. Fortunately, I was done drinking from the can and, for some inexplicable reason, I let the fly enjoy being on the can until I was ready to go inside and resume coughing and sniffling.

The respite in the sunshine was enjoyable. It seems that the Sun has become a stranger lately. The warmth provided by the bright orb in the sky only infrequently makes an appearance.

Maybe springtime is not that far away.

Here's hoping for warm days and bright sunshine wherever  you are.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Cardinal in the Snow

Cardinal in the Snow
Elkridge, MD
February 20, 2019
I am sitting at home today, suffering with a mid-winter cold that has me coughing, sneezing, and sniffling. That is one reason my blog is published later than normal. It is not the most pleasant way to spend the day, but in consideration of my co-workers I chose to try to recover at home rather than at my desk at work.

It was a good choice, I am sure. And so I am wrapped up in a blanket, sitting in my recliner watching the most repetitive news programs the world has ever seen. I, until recently, was unaware how news networks recycle news. I have been seeing news clips from two days ago and last night's reports recycled as fresh news for the morning shows. I know there is more news out there. I usually can find it by going to many different papers.

But that written, the local news of yesterday's snow was extensive in its coverage of the storm. I remembered back to when I was a kid, the snows came and we had no idea when it would end. Today, however, we have minute-by-minute coverage of the progress of the snow, then rain, then sleet, then freezing rain as it moved from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Yesterday, at the height of the storm, a cardinal perched on the back deck and posed for me. The resulting image captured the falling snow and its accumulation on the deck rail surrounding the bright red cardinal. It was my image of the day and memory of the storm.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Storm of the Century?

The Storm Begins
February 20, 2019
Actually it is just the storm of this week. We are planning to receive the complete winter mix--snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain during the next few hours. The storm will be effectively shutting down the entire region for the day by making travel treacherous. Travel is complicated by the number of drivers in the region who become paralyzed when they are confronted by a bit of snow and slush.
Squirrel on the Back Deck
February 20, 2019

I slept in this morning and when I awoke the snow had not yet started. But it has since begun in earnest. We are expecting 2-5 inches. That is down from 3-6 inches that called for last evening. Chris and I will be heading out in the middle of the storm to retrieve a friend from the airport who is flying into the middle of the storm. 

Condo in Florida with Palm Tree
Tequesta, Florida
January 29, 2019
As I sit here the snow has begun to come down harder. It is covering the surfaces and the ground. 

I wish I was sitting under a palm tree somewhere in the south, like Florida as I was less than a month ago.

I guess I just need to be where I am and be sure to enjoy the day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Three-day Weekend Reflections

When Monday falls on Tuesday, as it does after a three-day holiday weekend, it becomes almost impossible to catchup or even appreciate the correct day of the week. 

The Monday/Tuesday cross-over after a three-day weekend is one of the most difficult to handle. It seems as if everything that was routine for a Monday happens on Tuesday with everything that is normally scheduled for that day as well. 

The pain of holidays.

My friends and family who are retired do not seem to experience the same interaction between a holiday Monday and a mid-week Tuesday. 

On the other hand, do not misunderstand--I love three-day weekends and it would be great if we could adopt a four-day workweek to allow for more time off. 

And so--it is off to work I go this morning to face the challenges of Tuesday with a touch of Monday thrown in! Sadly, there is not another holiday until the end of May! Well, that certainly takes away the Monday on Tuesday dilemma.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday Musings - February 18, 2019

1. Happy Presidents' Day. Well, OK, it is really Happy George Washington's Birthday, the official name for the holiday.

2. Did you notice that the car ads on TV tell us that we can save more on a new car purchase than we used to spend on buying the car? I remember when a Volkswagen Bug was $1995.

3. Today is the last in a string of holidays which began six months ago during September with Labor Day. During that span we have enjoyed eight of the ten Federal holidays. There are only two holidays to enjoy during the next six months: Memorial Day and Independence Day. 

4. The return of the rain and cold forced us inside for most of the yesterday

5. Feeding the birds is a never ending process. It is fun to see them congregate on the back deck to enjoy the peanuts and birdseed. Sadly, the squirrels seem to enjoy the feast more than the birds. 

6. It is vacation planning season. Where are you heading this summer? 

7. Today in HistoryOn this day in 1885, Mark Twain publishes his famous–and famously controversial–novel The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnTwain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) first introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his tremendously successful novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). Though Twain saw Huck’s story as a kind of sequel to his earlier book, the new novel was far more serious, focusing on the institution of slavery and other aspects of life in the antebellum South.


Chinese and Iranian Hackers Renew Their Attacks on U.S. Companies - The New York Times

For Wall Street Banks in London, It’s Moving Time - The New York Times

In Indian-controlled Kashmir, unprecedented attack puts focus on ‘homegrown’ militants - The Washington Post

Trump policies unite allies against him at European security forum - Reuters

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week 

Every new day begins with possibilities. It's up to us to fill it with the things that move us toward progress and peace.      

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Out On the Wine Trail

Big Cork Tasting Room
February 16, 2019
Yesterday was a day to get get back out onto the Wine Trail. Chris and I joined with friends and drove about an hour west of where we live to the wine region of Maryland and Northern Virginia. The specific places we went were very close to the Antietam battlefield. We have been to the battlefield on a couple of occasions, but yesterday was devoted to wine and wine tasting. 

James Britton on the Guitar
Big Cork Winery
February, 16, 2019
We visited Big Cork Winery. We enjoy visiting Big Cork and we had a wine shipment to pick up. As members of the wine club we get to visit and pick-up our periodic shipment then enjoy tasting the wines and, like yesterday, listen to some live music. James Britton was playing the guitar. We bought a bottle of wine to enjoy with the lunch we had packed. We enjoyed live music as we drank wine and ate lunch. What could be better?

From there, we visited two other wineries, both in Loudoun County, Virginia, that we had not yet visited. The first was Doukenie Winery. We had a very enjoyable visit there tasting some very nice wines. Scrolling through the list of the recent Virginia's Governor's Cup Gold Medal winners we found one of Doukenie's wines listed there which we were able to sample. The winery is situated on a beautiful lake and even though it was February, the scene was pleasant. I  enjoyed the conversation around the fire pit after the tasting. 
Doukenie Winery
February 16, 2019

The final winery of the day before returning home was Two Twisted Posts. Another very enjoyable stop where we enjoyed the tasting room and the pourer at least as much as the wines. And we enjoyed the wines, bringing a few home to add to our collection. As the sun began to set over the vineyards it was time to make our way back home. Fortunately the drive home was made short due to the conversation among the four of us in the vehicle. It is amazing how quickly time passes when we are engaged in discourse.

During the day, I was reminded that winemaking is an art form. The winemaker is presented with the raw materials--grapes, which are different each year because of the weather and the season. The challenge is to turn the raw material into great drinking wines. Yet, it is not a mechanical endeavor because the process requires talent and artistry to create the perfect drinking wine.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Around the Fire Pit -- in February?

Chris by the Fire
February 15, 2019
The middle of February arrived yesterday with mild weather--at least for the day. 
Me by the Fire
February 15, 2019

It was another much needed mid-winter break and we did not miss the opportunity to enjoy both the day and the evening. With temperatures nearing 70 degrees during the day, Chris surprised me by cleaning my truck--outside and inside! What a nice gift and I really appreciated her selfless efforts to improve the environment inside of my truck. 

I was able to get Cat, my Jaguar, out of the garage and drove it to work to get the fluids moving and the battery recharged.

But, the great ending to the day occurred after we returned home from Happy Hour with our friends. Chris and I decided that it was warm enough, with the temperatures still holding in the low 50's, to head into the yard to the fire pit and enjoy the end of the day around a warm fire talking and planning for the future.

As the evening progressed, it got colder and I put on a warmer coat, but it was the first fire of 2019 and amazingly it happened during February! 

I am happy that we were able to take advantage of the respite from rain and cold to enjoy being outside. Here's hoping for many more evenings outside during the year ahead.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, February 15, 2019

My Valentine

Mid-winter holidays and celebrations are a lot of fun. They help to cast off the darkness of the season and bring some light into life.

Chris Checking out the Menu
February 14, 2019
Last evening, Chris and I did something we have not done in a few years to celebrate Valentines Day: we went out to dinner. 

I know that does not seem dramatic, but for the past few years I have treated Chris to a romantic dinner at home to celebrate the day.

This year, we rode off together for an early meal at a local Mexican establishment and dined on fajitas and chimichangas along with a margarita to mark the day. It certainly was not the planked salmon and the expensive wine of past years, but we were out together. And it is important to get out of the house during the dark days. Also, in past years Chris had worked late doing parent-teacher conferences and so I had time to prepare the meal in advance of her arrival at home. This year, since she is retired, there were no conferences to attend.

Chris was dressed in a festive manner and I wore a red shirt to mark the day. I was encouraged by the number of couples and families who were similarly enjoying the evening. We went early to avoid the crowds and I have to admit it was weird to get home after dinner and still watch Jeopardy. Wow, am I getting old or what? The world revolves around Jeopardy during the winter. The only thing that we didn't get was the early-bird discount! 

It was a great evening and a romantic way to mark the celebration.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

It is a great celebration for lovers and would be lovers!

I remember being in grade school and doing the obligatory Valentine exchange. I wold come home with a folder full of Valentines from my classmates, and I likewise would give a Valentine to each of my classmates. It was fun to go home and open each of the Valentines and realize that there were only so many different little Valentines in the packages--I would get multiple copies of the same greeting. I wonder if kids still do that in class today?

I'm not sure I understood the reason behind Valentines Day, but it was fun to give and get a folder full of Valentines. 

Here is a fun fact--there were multiple Christian martyrs that were named Valentinus! Wow, who knew?

Here is a paragraph Wikipedia about the day:

Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine,[1] is celebrated annually on February 14. Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine's Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.

Have a great day!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Big, Beautiful Wall

Hopefully the agreement to fully fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year will be inked today. 

The stumbling point continues to be the wall. The President emphatically states that the wall will be big and beautiful!

A ‘big, beautiful wall?’ Yeah, right . . . - The Miami Herald

It will be immovable. 

It will be a monument to 19th century thinking transformed into reality during the 21st Century. 

We there people will be spending our national treasure on a wall rather than actually doing some good in the world and even in our own country. 

The wall will not feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, nor heal the sick. 

The wall will not protect us from attack, deter aggression, nor stem the flow of drugs coming over the border through established ports of entry such as the recent largest drug bust in history.

An interesting article in the New York Times provides perspective of the magnitude of the wall project.

The Border Wall: WhatHas Trump Built So Far? - The New York Times

It appears that if the President wants a wall, he is going get a wall. I would rather build missile defense, or bolster the armed forces with the money--but the wall will certainly provide a fitting and historic commentary on the presidency.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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