Sunday, May 24, 2020

Golf with the Next Generation

With temperatures soaring to near 80, it was a beautiful day for golf. And Chris and I did not disappoint ourselves by missing the opportunity to get out onto the course and swing our clubs. 

Lucas at Carroll Park Hole 5
Baltimore, MD
May 23, 2020
We put together a foursome and obtained a Tee Time at Carroll Park for the afternoon. This was a special foursome, however, as it included for the first time the next generation of family golfers--Lucas. As it turned out, we picked a good day to golf with him because the golf was slow. Painfully slow. It took 2 hours and 45 minutes to play 9 holes of golf that should take not more than about 1 hour and 45 minutes. 

With the pace of play being painfully slow, Lucas was able to get some assistance in making shots and learning the game. We waited to tee-off on every hole and so there was a lot of time to talk about the game. 

Lucas did remarkably well, but the delay in play did not help my game at all. So it was a so-so day on the course, but still fun to be out there with Jeremy, Chris, and for the first time, Lucas. 

With temperatures soaring and walking a golf course on a Saturday, it almost seems as if life is becoming normal despite the safer-at-home suggestions of Maryland. Stores still have not fully reopened and the clubs and bars are closed. Although I didn't often visit clubs or bars, I do miss the crowded parking lots. Not really. 

Believe it or not, after golf I was actually able to dive into my pool to refresh myself. The water was up to 77 degrees and felt very refreshing on a humid afternoon. 

Saturday, normal activity. It is Memorial Day weekend after all.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Reacting to This Morning's Headlines

The rain has stopped and the sky is blue this morning. The sun's rays are striking the trees and the green canopy is nearly fully deployed on the trees and shrubs around my house. It is like a green face mask protecting my home from the world.  

The economic toll of COVID-19 continues to climb. I read that Hertz, one of America's largest car rental agencies is filing for bankruptcy. I understand it--if no one is traveling, then the need for rental cars is very low. But, Hertz? Wow! I consider Hertz to be one of the stalwarts of the rental car market. It could be the beginning of the expected major shuffle of companies in the travel services industry. 

The number of Americans filing for unemployment this past week was 2.4 million more, bringing the total to 38.6 million Americans who are jobless according to most major news agencies. I am quoting from The Washington Post. Despite this, the most important thing being reported by Fox News is Joe Biden's misstep which pales in comparison to some of the President's statements which were life threatening. When that is the biggest lead story, one wonders why they are trying to cover-up? The Wall Street Journal, conversely, led with a story titled,  The Job Market's Long Road Back

Remember, when we are talking millions, sometimes the faces get forgotten. Using my loose math, 38.6 million lost jobs equates to about 115.8 million Americans living in homes where jobs have been lost and that now equates to roughly 35 percent of Americans overall! 

It May Not Look Like It--but This Church is Open
And the most important thing our President is interested in is getting the churches open! Churches are important, but they are not going to get Americans back to work! By focusing on visceral issues that directly impact his a percentage of his voting base, the president marginalizes the remainder of Americans when he should be focusing on coronavirus testing, control, and tracking to help the governors get their states reopened and get people back to work in a safe and sane manner. 

The truth is that churches have not been closed during this crisis. No one closed churches! Large gatherings have been banned, but churches are still open. The effective ones are finding ways to bring people together via the web and many are thriving and meeting people's needs on a daily basis. The idea that churches have been closed is false. Faith and church is not something that can be turned on or off.

Let's focus on real issues with real solutions for a change. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, May 22, 2020

Daily Status Message

Here is the daily status message--it is raining again. The temperature is 58 chilly degrees and the day's high is expected to be 70 degrees. Every morning when I awaken, I look out the window to see the weather. I am more interested in the weather than enjoying my first cup of coffee. The weather sets the tone for my day. 

The Neighbor's Red Knock-out Roses
Elkridge, MD
May 20, 2020
If it is raining, as it is this morning, I expect slow traffic clogging the roads I travel on my way to work. 

Hopefully the image of my neighbor's roses will brighten the rainy, somewhat gloomy day. Rain and gray skies just make the day feel dreary.

When it is raining, I know that outdoors activities, like this evening's planned Happy Hour with friends, are likely to be curtailed. According to Weather Underground, the rain is supposed to stop about 3 PM--maybe Happy Hour can yet be salvaged.

The Maryland coronavirus Safer at Home Advisory has increased the importance of outdoors activities. Many activities we used to conduct in the house have become outdoors activities, like Happy Hour and this weekend's Memorial Day activities. Before coronavirus we would not think twice about re-hosting these activities into the house. But, while the virus is still raging, people and even family are not comfortable being inside where proper physical distancing cannot be assured. 

We each need to find our coronavirus comfort zone and respect the zones of our friends and family. 

While I cannot stop the rain, I can keep my spirits high and find a way to enjoy the day. It is Friday and a holiday three-day weekend is ahead!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Bamboo Wars on Another Coronavirus Day

Was yesterday really Wednesday? I remember something about "Hump" Day, but lately so many days are similar to Saturdays that sometimes they blur. Coronavirus stay-at-home and now safe-at-home orders make many days pass in a sequence of sameness. I sincerely hope that retirement is not like this.

The significant difference between the days has been the weather. This morning it is only 47 degrees outside of my window. It is early and still dark, but I hear birds chirping. I know that is five degrees colder than yesterday. I also noted that this morning's low is seven degrees below the normal low for the day. 

Bamboo Growing on the Edge of my Yard
Elkridge, MD
May 20, 2020
While mowing, I made a disturbing discovery. The bamboo that has been growing on the property of the condo homeowners association, which borders my property, has begun to encroach into my yard. Not a good thing since bamboo is difficult to control. Bamboo is considered an invasive species and should be controlled or removed. 

In reading about control measures on the web, the most effective, and easiest they wrote, is to dig a 36 inch trench and fill it with a concrete or very thick plastic sheeting. That does not sound easy to me! I have to protect my entire yard. So while working for a more permanent solution, I cut the bamboo stalk down, dug up the roots, and sprayed the hole with Round-up. I also cut a few of the stalks that were behind it and sprayed the stumps with Round-up. I do not know if Round-up kills bamboo--but hopefully it will at least slow the growth. I also wrote and mailed a letter to the condo association advising them of the problem and my desired solution. I further attempted to contact the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for assistance, but was only able to leave my name and phone number hoping for a callback. The callback will likely never come.

I do not want my backyard to become an Asian forest suitable for pandas. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

When May Feels Like March

It is cold again, cold like March. I awoke to 52 degrees this morning and the wind is blowing, still! The skies are gray and dark and it is definitely not going to be an in-the-pool day. The wind is generating a lot of extra pool-work for me.

Elkridge, MD
May 19, 2020
But, the flowers of late-Spring are in bloom. Yesterday our peonies were in bloom and we brought a few of the sweet fragranced flowers into the house to enjoy. The lilacs have completed their run and are slowly falling from the bush and their smell is fading. I will miss walking outside and immediately enjoying their scent. 

Flower Petals and Leaves in the Pool
Elkridge, MD
May 19. 2020
The Honey Locust trees are also in full bloom. While I usually enjoy these trees, the winds of the past few days are creating problems in terms of pool maintenance. The flower petals are falling at such a rate that at times it seems as if it is snowing. The wind is directing them into the pool and they then have to be removed. It usually takes two times around the pool to remove them all. And they keep falling!

Since the weather is cold I shouldn't mind being in the house riding out the coronavirus. I could be playing golf, but in addition to skimming the pool I made two trips to Lowe's yesterday for project supplies. One was to get the soil and seed to fill in the tree-stump holes in the yard. The four stumps that were removed were fairly large and it was no small project to fill them and get grass seed down. I only hope that it warms soon so the seed will germinate. The other project was reinstalling screen over the fireplace flue now that the birds have hatched and departed. 

So how cold is it? 

Forecast for Elkridge, MD from Weather Underground

Here is the ten day forecast from Weather Underground. Three days of highs in the 60s, followed by four days of 70s before reaching the 80s again a week from now!

I am ready for Summer! Memorial Day Weekend is almost here and I want to enjoy steamy, hot weather.  I had originally hoped to be in Florida for Memorial Day, but because of the coronavirus, that did not happen! Maybe during July--and I love the heat and humidity of Florida during July!

For now, I am hoping to enjoy the final month of the Spring by watching the flowers bloom as they step through the month. 

-- Bob Doan, still in Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

What do you have to lose?

Some of the most frightening words that I have heard uttered from The White House have made the news again.

The phrase, "What do you have to lose?" was again used by the President when he was discussing his daily hydroxychloroquine regimen. 

"What do you have to lose?" Trump said. "OK, what do you have to lose? So, I have been taking it for about a week and a half. Every day at some point, every day. I take a pill every day." As reported on Fox11News. 

Frankly, decisions about courses of action should not be based upon half-baked ideas where the only reason for doing them is "What do you have to lose?"

The answer is simply--your life! You could lose your life!

Further on in the Fox 11 News article, it is reported:
The Food and Drug Administration last month issued a warning that it should only be used in hospitals because of a risk of heart complications. Several studies have also shown the drug has no benefit in treating coronavirus compared to patients who didn’t receive the drug.
In some studies, there were more deaths among patients given the anti-malarial drug than those who received standard care.
Hydroxychloroquine has a known history of serious side effects, including heart rhythm issues, severely low blood pressure and nerve damage.
It appears to me that the stakes can be very high for taking this drug without a good reason and a competent medical guidance. 
I do want to debunk a myth, however, about the President's use of the drug. It was rumored that he could receive substantial financial benefit if the drug was adopted as a standard treatment for COVID-19. I checked Snopes and found that this is mostly untrue. He does own, via some mutual funds, interest in multiple companies which manufacture the drug, hydroxychloroquine, but the holdings are insignificant when compared against his overall wealth. Increasing his personal wealth, then, does not seem to be a viable reason that he is promoting the drug.
So, back to the question, "What do you have to lose?" For the President, perhaps nothing although there are risks for his health, for him that risk may be acceptable. BUT, as a leader who many people follow, sometimes blindly, he could be needlessly putting their health at risk by professing use of a drug with dubious benefits in treating COVID-19 and known and sometimes dire health consequences.  Leaders need to consider their actions and the impact on others. Modeling good and reasonable behaviors are what good leaders are called to do. Leaders lead through conscious decisions and modeling of desirable behaviors.
Making decisions for good reasons and encouraging people to follow is leadership. "What do you have to lose?" does not inspire followership. It creates a conundrum that is the antithesis of leadership.
Another way of looking at it is, What do I have to gain? When do the benefits outweigh the consequences? Good leaders clearly outline the benefits or consequences for following, or not following them. 
"What do you have to lose?" 
The Fox 11 News item contained this sobering statement: In some studies, there were more deaths among patients given the anti-malarial drug than those who received standard care.
Maybe nothing, but then, maybe everything. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, May 18, 2020

Monday Musings - May 18, 2020

1. It is the third Monday of May and the month is slipping away. We continue to grapple with the coronavirus and the economy is only beginning to show signs of life.

Starfish in the Sky
Elkridge, MD
May 16, 2020
2. While out for a walk on Saturday, yes I went for a walk after walking a round of golf earlier in the day, Chris spied what she called a starfish in the sky. It was the pattern created by contrails and it did seem to be a starfish pattern. The beach, the ocean, and the surf are definitely calling out to us. 
Patrick on the Stump Grinder
Elkridge, MD
May 17, 2020

3. Yesterday provided a much needed opportunity to remove four tree stumps from the yard. Three of large stumps were the result of the China provided Emerald Ash Borer which killed the majestic ash trees and the last year's loss of our weeping cherry tree was the fourth. It was six hours of hard work in the yard and it would not have been successful without the great help of Patrick who shifted off with me manning the stump grinder. Thanks, Patrick! Next time, we will definitely rent the bigger one with the hydraulic drive. The manual one is not suited for the size stumps that we removed. 

4. I have noticed traffic increasing as I head out for limited drives. People are moving around, finally.

5. We had two 80 degree days in a row--it was fantastic. But the weather gods are sending rain and cooler weather for the next week. Summer is only about a month away! Bring on the sun and heat. 

6. I am amazed at the numbers of nails and metal strips in the wood from the felled trees that my saw blade continues to get dulled cutting. We even found nails and metal strips in one of the stumps we removed yesterday.

7. Funny Joke for the Day. Why do seagulls fly over the sea? Because if they flew over a bay, they would be bagels.

8. Today in History. On May 18, 1920, Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in the Polish town of Wadowice, 35 miles southwest of Krakow. Wojtyla went on to become Pope John Paul II, history’s most well-traveled pope and the first non-Italian to hold the position since the 16th century. After high school, the future pope enrolled at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University, where he studied philosophy and literature and performed in a theater group. During World War II, Nazis occupied Krakow and closed the university, forcing Wojtyla to seek work in a quarry and, later, a chemical factory. By 1941, his mother, father, and only brother had all died, leaving him the sole surviving member of his family.

Kim Jong Un Disappeared From View, But North Korea’s Problems Never Left - The Wall Street Journal

On Furlough From the Kingdom, Disney Workers Try to Keep the Magic Alive - The Wall Street Journal

Where New Yorkers Moved to Escape Coronavirus - The New York Times

McConnell admits he was wrong to say Obama didn't leave Trump a pandemic 'game plan' - NBC

Hong Kong: Lawmakers carried out during parliament mayhem - BBC

China under-reported number of coronavirus cases, Chinese medical advisor says - Fox News

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

May 28, 1984 

The Unknown Soldier who is returned to us today and whom we lay to rest is symbolic of all our missing sons, and we will present him with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration that we can bestow.
About him we may well wonder, as others have: As a child, did he play on some street in a great American city? Or did he work beside his father on a farm out in America's heartland? Did he marry? Did he have children? Did he look expectantly to return to a bride?
We'll never know the answers to these questions about his life. We do know, though, why he died. He saw the horrors of war but bravely faced them, certain his own cause and his country's cause was a noble one; that he was fighting for human dignity, for free men everywhere. Today we pause to embrace him and all who served us so well in a war whose end offered no parades, no flags, and so little thanks. We can be worthy of the values and ideals for which our sons sacrificed -- worthy of their courage in the face of a fear that few of us will ever experience -- by honoring their commitment and devotion to duty and country.

-- Bob Doan, still stuck in Elkridge, MD

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Near Normal Saturday

There was a sense of rediscovered freedom yesterday as the Maryland Stay-at-Home order had been lifted by the governor. Although Chris and I wanted to go to a beach and enjoy the sand and surf on a beautiful day where the temperature reached an unexpected 87 degrees, we remained close to home and found peace in normal weekend activities. 

Chris on the 5th Tee Box
Carroll Park Golf Course
Baltimore, MD
May 16, 2020
The day began with a 9-hole golf outing to Carroll Park, a Baltimore golf course, where we met Jeremy for a round of golf. I was glad it was only 9 holes as we were behind a foursome that was clearly unfamiliar with the game and a round that should have taken less than two hours stretched to two-and-a-half hours. But it was fun and I played well as did Chris. We have become fans of walking with push-carts and Carroll Park is a good course for that activity. I do wish that was 18 holes, but 9 holes of golf is a lot better than no golf at all!

Me and Finnegan in the Pool
1st Time this Year
Elkridge, MD
May 16, 2020
Once we returned home, the question was what to do next? The temperature had climbed into the awesome range (that would be above 80 degrees) and we have this really beautiful pool just waiting to be used for the first time this year. I checked the water temperature, it was a cold 71 degrees. I have not heated the pool this year because the nights have been too cold to retain any of the heat. Despite the less than optimal temperature, I remembered that as a kid 71 degrees was considered warm water, I decided to jump in and enjoy the sunny day while catching a nap on a floatie. As I surfaced after jumping off the diving board, I remembered why I like the 84 degree waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jupiter, Florida. Seventy-one degree pool water can be described in one word--frigid! But I lounged on the floatie, Chris joined me on a floatie of her own, enjoying the hot sun, napping, and dreaming of more warm summer-like days. 

I am seriously considering installing a solar heating system for my pool so that I do not have to burn propane raise the pool water temperature. I have found an interesting system at Home Depot which looks as if it will do the job nicely and seems easy to install. 

Chris and I continue to battle the coronavirus from home, but that does not mean that we are just sitting on the sofa watching Netflix. We continue to be outside to enjoy the good days that we are given and we go for our daily walk. Yesterday's walk took over an hour because we talked to a number of our neighbors while maintaining proper personal distancing!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Logic Free Zone

It is a logic free zone--The White House, I mean.

The statements coming from the The White House are sometimes mystifying. The most recent one about the coronavirus, reported yesterday in Forbes and attributed to President Trump really caught me by surprise:
“And don’t forget, we have more cases than anybody in the world. But why? Because we do more testing.” 
Next, he clarified: “When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”

So let me get this straight, if we didn't do any testing, and people continued to get sick and die and we didn't know why, that would make it all better?

The article went on to remind me of the now infamous and reclassified as sarcasm April 23 statement, “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?”  I remember as I watched it live it certainly did not seem to be sarcasm, 

I return to my post of two days ago--some people are worried about the "numbers," but it is clear that they have detached the numbers from the faces. 

The Forbes article contained an explanation of the president's most recent statement, Certainly, it’s clear that ignoring some problems can make them go away. For example, if your friends keep telling you to bathe more, ignoring that nagging will likely eventually make your friends go away. Problem solved.

Got it, if you can't see it then it isn't there, it is what I call the ostrich approach to problem solving--just stick you head in a hole in the ground and it will go away. 

What we have is a logic free zone. I am anxious to see what the "spin doctors" do with this one.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, May 15, 2020

Surviving Coronavirus with Squirrels

Squirrels are a fact of life. 

Squirrel at the Made to Scale Picnic Table
Elkridge, MD
May 14, 2020
We can love them or hate them--but no matter which, they will likely always be with us to either enjoy or be tormented by. It turns out that their antics are a worthy diversion from thinking about coronavirus and the uneven reopening of counties in Maryland which will begin this evening at 5 PM.

Chris loves squirrels, except when they are ravenously devouring the food from her bird feeders. I can enjoy them and I remember the summer we had a squirrel that, for a few months, seemed to be almost a pet--but, we went on vacation and never saw that squirrel again. We called that squirrel Rocky and I wrote about it in a 2008 blog titled, Rocky is Gone. I had first written about the squirrel in a blog titled Backyard Friends

We have reached the pinnacle of the Yin and yang of squirrels. We now have a made to scale squirrel picnic table. It was lovingly constructed by a family member in Upstate New York--where there also is no shortage of squirrels, and arrived Wednesday afternoon. It was christened with peanuts and squirrels on our back porch last evening. The table was also enjoyed by blue jays which enjoyed flying away with the peanuts.

There is the dark side to squirrel watching. I was introduced to the following You Tube video which shows an alternative approach to feeding the gray furry "tree rodents." 

Finnegan on Guard for Squirrels
Elkridge, MD
March 28, 2020
Of course I would never do such a thing to a squirrel, but it is funny to watch. I wonder how many times that squirrel came back to enjoy another amusement park-like ride on the catapult?

Chris now has a problem of conscience. Finnegan, our Yorkie, has proclaimed himself the protector of the porch and loves to chase the squirrels away. I wish I was going to be home today to see how she balances inviting the squirrels to dine at the picnic table and managing Finnegan's desire to chase them away.

It should be interesting and, yes, a great coronavirus, COVID-19 diversion. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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