Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spring Training 2012

Here it is the last day of November 2011, and I am excited because the Orioles finally released their Spring Training 2012 schedule yesterday!

But then, at this time of year I am all about Springtime anyway.

I am not entirely sure why it took the O's so long to get their schedule out because i was pretty sure that I could have put it together from the schedules of the other teams that had already been released. But it is finally out.

Now I can dream of baking in the heat and sun of a March afternoon in Sarasota, Florida watching the 2012 edition of the Orioles and wondering if they will be better than this season's Birds.

And they have new hats!

Something else to purchase.

I mean, I have to wear the latest, I don't want to get caught at the park wearing last season's gear, right?

Tickets and tours, here I come!

It actually warms me up a bit thinking of the O's and the baseball season ahead.

I think I actually just skipped over Christmas--wow, don't let my local retailers know!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Give Thanks--Breaking Dawn

I noticed it yesterday morning as I drove to work for the first time in a week. I am driving to work under the cover of darkness again. For most of November, after we had made the switch back to standard time, I was enjoying the sunlight in my eyes as I made my daily journey. Yesterday it was gone--I was mostly in darkness.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, which I lengthened by taking some additional leave, darkness gained hold on the time during which I make my daily commute. It is sad because I enjoy looking at the land along the way and watching the changing of the seasons--which has been fabulous this Autumn.

Here is the funny part though--and it only shows how desensitized to the seasonal change that I really am, I only noticed the change after I had parked my car and was walking to the building that I work in because there displayed on the glass structure of the buildiing in the reflection was the fire lit sky of the gathering dawn.

Maybe my senses had been dulled by a weekend of turkey.

The dawn was breaking behind me is spectacular fashion, and I only noticed it because of the reflection.

I took a moment to admire God's handiwork. The way He painted the clouds and the sky in colors that I have never been able to recreate in either my mind's eye or with a camera.

The blessing of the dawn is being able to appreciate its beauty and to give thanks to the one who created it. It keeps me grounded. It reminds me of whose I am.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Musings - November 28, 2011

1. Thanksgiving is over. And now, appearing everywhere is Christmas. The songs are already playing 24/7 on the radio.

2. The US launched a mission to Mars over the weekend with the rover Curiosity on board, Hopefully, it works a lot better than the Russian Phobos Grunt mission. So far so good. Arrival at Mars is planned for August 2012.

3. It seems that the Grinch is going to let the NBA have a season afterall--beginning on Christmas Day, no less.

4. We enjoyed an incredibly beautiful weather weekend. It really warmed my soul to walk outside without a coat on and feel warm on the final weekend of November.

5. For retailers and the economy, the weekend sales were promising--but nothing is new. We are continuing to delude ourselves into believing that things are getting better when, in reality, I'm not so sure.

6. Christmas is 28 days away. Think about it.

7. I read a article in the Baltimore Sun yesterday about how corporations are paying significantly less in taxes than they were many years ago, while private individuals are paying more. The article made a compelling case for tax reform.

8. I heard a great message in church yesterday about giving thanks and the difference between being thankful "for" and being thankful "in." I think I'll write my reaction to the message up and close out my mini-series on giving thanks with it.

9. I'm still living on left-over turkey, ham, and pumpkin pie. I hope I run out soon so I don't feel guilty about letting leftovers go to waste.

-- Bob Doan Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Decorations, food and Christmas

The turkey remnants are on their way to becoming soup and the autumn decorations have given way to Christmas. Christmas lights are evident throughout our neighborhood already as the transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas becomes nearly complete. It is a busy time of year.

I managed to crawl up into the attic again yesterday to retrieve more of the seasonal decorations to change our house into its Christmas form.

I am always amazed at the transformation.

It is magical.

I write a lot about the dark days, those days when daylight is precious and short. Christmas lights help to drive out the darkness when they are lighted.

Even in my own home, as I walked into the living room this morning, I was greeted buy a lighted tree and mantle to bring smile of joy to my face. We worked hard yesterday to begin the seasonal transformation which will continue for a few more weeks as more and more decorations are placed and the dark spaces become light--at least for a while.

The pace of the season will continue to increase as well. I already have obligations for parties and and shopping in addition to the normal things that I do. I noticed that the days are beginning to be named to help manage our shopping experience--Black Friday gives way to Small Business Saturday, and then Cyber Monday starts the week off. I wonder if every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas will eventually be named.

It is Sunday though and at least I can relax and enjoy some football--Oh yeah, I just remembered that even today is named, the First Sunday of Advent!

Have a great day--no matter the name.
-- Bob Doan Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Axis and Allies -- 2011, The Tradition Continues

One of the holiday traditions in our family is the day after Thanksgiving Axis and Allies game, which the guys enjoy while stuffing ourselves with leftovers and sipping beer or wine (or both).

Yesterday's game was a marathon as we played a new version of the classic game which had enough rule changes to make it seem as if we were learning the game all over again. And, in reality, we were.

Unlike last year, the Allies persevered for the victory in the longest game we have ever played spanning over eight hours. Unfortunately, I was playing the Axis and lost a hard fought game in which the Japanese owned the Pacific and were threatening Moscow, but the combined Allied weight in Europe was too much for Germany to overcome. Much like the real WWII events, Germany fell first and then Japan surrendered.

Fun, interaction, and of course problem solving and managing forces. It was all good.

Holiday traditions are fun. This year, for the first time, Ethan participated and so did Tina. Next year's event is something we are already looking forward to.

Friday, November 25, 2011

After Turkey Day Traditions

Black Friday.

For some it is the official beginning to the Christmas Season. A true shopping orgy of cosmic proportions.

It is an unofficial holiday of its own--one where those of us lucky enough to be able to set our own leave schedules can take the day after Thanksgiving and create a four-day weekend.

We transition from a holiday born of sharing the abundance of the harvest with our neighbors into one where the early bird gets the good deal and all-out sales and shopping warfare is practiced.

I am up early today, enjoying the afterglow of a solid Ravens victory last night and watching the women of the house prepare to set out in their vehicles to risk life and finances in search of the best deals on things they don't even knoww they want or need, yet.

Perhaps Black Friday is a social event. A sub-culture of its own created by retailers to separate normally rational people from their hard earned and over-taxed money.

Of course the alternate view to shopping is what the guys of the family do--Axis and Allies Friday. The guys in our family gather together on Black Friday to play recreations of WWII--either the whole war or the Pacific or European theaters. It is something we have been doing for many years, and although we are significantly smaller in number this year--with one guy in Guam (Jimmy), one working (Patrick), and one out of town visiting his in-laws (Jeremy), the game goes on. Ethan will soon be old enough to carry the hopes of a World War II nation on his shoulders.

Th best part of Axis and Allies Friday is not necessarily the game itself, but the left overs from the feast of the day before.

I hear day old fruit salad calling to me even now, early in the morning.

Have a great day, wherever you are and whatever you are doing today.

-- Bob Doan Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

It has arrived. Arguably my most favorite holiday of the year. A day to pause and give thanks for all that we have--most of which we don't really deserve.

I do enjoy the football and the food. I enjoy the family gathering around a large table to enjoy each other is a somewhat structured kind of way--but as it is a holiday, it is what we expect to do on this day. And that makes it even better.

We know that there will be noise and chaos and cooking going on.

But most importantly, there will be interaction between people--some of whom we don't see often enough. Thanksgiving is a holiday were we gather together with family and friends to celebrate. Some people travel hours or days to be together. Others travel just across town--but no matter, we are together.

The practice of giving thanks as a nation or community is a long one. Although we draw our current tradition from the 1621 Plymouth Pilgrims, Thanksgiving is a very personal holiday that families modify as they need.

And there is so much to give thanks for--even during these difficult times. I know there is a lot of pain for many people on this holiday--lost health, jobs, family; but there reasons to give thanks and take time to focus on the blessings despite the pain. Most of my blessings are contained in the people I will be sitting around the table with. And yes, I will be sad about those not here, but I am thankful for them, too.

The Apostle Paul reminds us to be “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20), and to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I will enjoy the parades on TV, the football games, and the feasting. But most of all I will enjoy family and friends.

The blessing of Thanksgiving is the ability to pause and step beyond my daily life to see all of the blessings that have been given to me and to take a moment, either in public or private, to thank God for the magnificnent way he has provided for me.

I thought I was done writing--but then I ran across the second verse of the great Hymn of Thanksgiving, Now Thank We All Our God by Martin Rinckart.

O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us still in grace,
and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills,
in this world and the next.

-- Bob Doan Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Give Thanks -- Pets

I am sitting here this morning with Makayla trying to fit herself into the chair next to me. We are dog sitting for Ben, Jeremy's Keeshond, and Riordin, the cat that returned is sitting across the room on Chris' lap. Only Louis, the white rag doll cat is missing from the scene this morning hanging out wherever he is.

It is a bit of a circus.

But, I love it. The pets provide comic relief and at the same time are somewhat demanding. It is like I have children again.

Makayla greets me at the door--not unlike the way that Dino used to greet Fred Flintstone in the old cartoon except that I don't get run over by her. I enjoy being greeted at my door when I return. Riordin tries to sit in my lap whenever I am on my laptop or iPad--just to make life difficult. Weekends like the present, when Ben or Patrick's Chewbacca are staying over, provide additional fun like separate walks to ensure bodily functions are complete.

Pets are work--but they are a blessing. Pets provide companionship just in being around. I am reminded of a situation in the bible when Job had just lost everything and his friends arrive and sit with him for seven days without saying a word. (Job 2:13) Now I am not equating Job's three friends with pets, but am illustrating only that sometimes words do not need to be spoken--it is the act of being together that is important.

Pets, well trained house pets like mine, are around and are part of life. Whether laying at my feet, or in my lap, or on the floor a short while away--they are with me and near me.

The blessing of pets is companionship. Walks are not accomplished alone and by caring for pets we practice the skills necessary to sacrifice of ourselves to care for others.

-- Bob Doan Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Columbia Mall Poinsettia Tree

And there it is. Ready for the season. The most fabulous Christmas decoration in any mall in America.

Give Thanks -- Peace

I was thinking about peace and realized how self-centered I was being. Sure, I can say thanks for peace because I am not deployed to some far off land where people are trying to kill me on a daily basis which is what many of our military and DoD civilians are facing as this holiday season approaches.

I am insulated from the violence and anarchy in those not so far away lands of Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran and anywhere else unrest happens on a near daily basis. I do not have to deal with the death and destruction and chaos that the people living in these places have to do. They, I believe, long for the peace that I experience on a daily basis.

I wake in the morning in a comfortable bed in a warm home with the prospect of fighting nothing more dangerous than Maryland drivers on the parkway. My closest contact with the Taliban is the news.

In my world, there is peace and it is a blessing. Peace is something that I do not think much about because I have it and it is a constant. In other parts of the world, peace is something they wish and pray for.

Because there is peace, I can focus on other aspects of life and living without fear. Peace helps me not to be afraid to live.

The real blessing of peace is in those who are on the frontlines around the world to preserve peace and our way of life. They are a blessing to each of us--and we need to remember them and to pray for them.

And we need to consider the gift that they give us--peace.

--Bob Doan Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Musings - November 21, 2011

1. The Christmas lights outside the house are in place and the Snow Village is set up. Thanksgiving and the slide into the hectic Christmas Season is ready to begin.

2. I cannot believe it is Thanksgiving already. Seems like only yesterday I was on a sailboat off the coast of St. Vincent enjoying the heat and humidity of summertime.

3. Sports in America requires a thorough review. The over paid NBA owners and players who cannot agree on how to split the treasure of Solomon are driving hundreds of lower paid ($10-20/hour) people into unemployment. And on the heels of this the Penn State scandal is continually in the news and getting creepier, people we have a problem--and it is us!

4. Did you note that although we still do not have a budget (U.S.) we at least have another continuing resolution. I dearly wish that Congress would reread the Constitution.

5. The weather hs been unseasonably warm the past few days. I even heard the peepers in the wetlands near me last evening. I figure they will soon go silent until the cold, dark days have passed and Springtime returns.

6. The travel season is in full swing. I know this because my family increses by one or two canines temporarily.

7. If you are traveling for the holidays, here is a prayer for safe travel: Lord, be with me as I prepare for travel.  Calm my fears so that I can begin this trip rested in mind and body.  Keep me alert for any dangerous situations I might encounter so that I might arrive at my destination unharmed and secure in the knowledge that, when my trip is over, You will always be there to guide me safely.  Amen.

8. Patrick asked me an interesting question the other evening. Considering the Presidents from Truman to Clinton, which was the best and which was the worst? Not an easy task it turns out. In my mind the best was easy--Reagan without a doubt with Truman close behind. But the worst? I found the competition to be fairly stiff. I entertained thoughts of Carter and Clinton. I also considered Johnson and Eisenhower and the crook who said he wasn't, Nixon. I felt quickly that Bush (the elder) was in the middle so that he was safe. In each case, I found something positive from their administrations. So I was left with Ford and JFK. Ford helped heal a nation with his bumbling ways after the debacle of Nixon, and that left JFK--who in my mind wound up with the title of the worst of the Presidents between Truamn and Clinton. I would be interested in your thoughts--this could be a lively discussion..

9. We have been adopted by a ferral cat--I am not sure if that is good or bad.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Snow Village 2011

Well we have set the 2011 version of our Snow Village up and are officially almost ready for Thanksgiving. The idea is to get the Snow Village set up on the Saturday before Thanksgiving--and we actually accomplished that yesterday.

This year it seemed to be a bit more difficult to set up since we used a new place and a new configuration. But, we got through it and had some fun while playing two movies in the background: The Santa Clause and The Polar Express.

I am continually amazed at how the city looks so real after we add the people to it. It really seems to come to life and provide that festive addition to the house for the holidays. 

This edition of the Snow Village will be with us from now until January. So I am glad that I like it. If only we can keep Riordan out of it.
-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Give Thanks -- Health

Wow, health is something I often forget about as a blessing. Why? Because I have health.

Yes, I am afflicted with NDPH, and I have a few other issues which require daily medications, but I am able to live and enjoy life and am not constrained from doing the things I desire because of poor health or long term injury.

You should have seen Chris and me hauling the Snow Village boxes from the attic above the garage to the family room in the basement yesterday as we set up the 2011 version of our collection. And I look forward to getting back onto the racquetball court when my gym reopens this week. I can do whatever I desire to do.

I am blessed with good health. Not perfect health, but good health that allows me to do whatever I want whenever I want.

Health is a blessing. I have friends who are not so fortunate.

The real blessing of health is being able to do what I want to do and to help others while doing that.

Happy Thanksgiving, I am a richly Blessed man living in a land of plenty.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Giving Thanks - Home

Drive around our area and it is easy to notice the homeless sitting on some of the corners asking for assistance.

One of the blessings I realize that I have this season is the blessing of home.

I am sitting here looking outside at the dawning day enjoying the blue sky and rising sun. Most importantly, I am warm. It is 24 degrees outside this morning, but Chris and I are warm inside with a nice fire already crackling in the fireplace.

I am looking forward to being outside today doing work around the house, which is my home, but I woke in a warm bed, not in a group home or a tent. I am blessed and for that I give thanks.

Home, they say is where the heart is--but as well it can be place from which to base life. The safe place to which I return at the end of the day and from which I depart when I launch my day.

I look forward to home when I am not there.

Not in a sappy way--but in a peaceful, purposeful manner.

The real blessing of home is peace. A place to reflect, and plan, and to be safe.

Welcome home.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 18, 2011

Giving Thanks -- Job

The stories in the news are everywhere about rising unemployment and companies closing and laying people off.

The times are tough and real people are facing real job loss which strikes deep into the heart of people who want to take care of and to provide for themselves.

I read a very hurtful email the other day which was from the ultra conservative right which clearly suggested that America should no longer be a land of generosity and where the idea of collectively providing for those less fortunate should no longer be what sets us apart as a people and a society. This email seemed to suggest that we could close our borders and our doors and become and island in the world.

The email was so out far from the attitude that we should have a people of plenty and covered with uncountable blessings. I felt bad for the misguided people who perpetuate that thinking and who sent me the email.

It suspect that it is easy to write such hard ideas when safely tucked into a warm home writing from the comfort of a chair in front of a computer. The email suggested that more people in America are getting free stuff than are paying for the free stuff. I wonder if people receiving Social Security were counted in the percentages of those receiving free stuff, or those receiving retirements. It is harder to write such things when living on the street, homeless, cold and wet. Life has not been good to a lot of people. And they rely on us, the rest of us, for support.

I am thankful for having a job. I am thankful that God had placed me in a position where I believe I am making a difference and am doing something important. I am uniquely suited for the job I have, but at the same time I am able to keep perspective and realize that I work to live and not live to work. I love my free time away from the job to do the things that are there to enjoy outside of work. I have passed up taking positions which would seem to require working 60 or 70 hour weeks, because I enjoy life away from job and I do not want my job to become my identity.

But this Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for the blessing of freedom that my job gives me. Freedom to be creative and to write my blog everyday whether anyone reads it or not. Freedom to critically read the email that I receive and not be so hard that I follow every whim that someone would have me follow.

The blessing of having a job is freedom.

Give thanks.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giving Thanks - Friends

With Thanksgiving upon me in a short week from today, I am continuing my examination, albeit a bit superficial, of the blessings in my life.

Today I am writing a few thoughts about friends. When I began this process I had separated friends from family, but upon further consideration I realize that the true blessing of friends is that unlike family, I choose my friends and they choose me, too. And becuse of this, my friends have become family.

I am very blessed by my friends and I hope that I am likewise a blessing to them as wll. In all of my adult life, I have not had friends like I have now. I was too much of a vagabond gypsy moving around the country/world in the Air Force to take time to haave friends until more recentlys as I have settled in this place called Maryland.

Thnksgiving allows the opportunity to appreciate friends and the unique things we do together which continue to build deeper relationships.

Friends are the spice of life and they are there before I even know I need them for support. I have enoyed the weekend trips and the wine tastings and the dinners, and the just gathering together at the end of a tough week just to relax and be with one another in a non-threatening and even encouraging environment. And as friends, sometimes we realize that the most important part is just being together--whether we talk or not. Just for support of not being alone in tough timees.

At Thanksgiving this year, I am thankful for my friends--and the increase in my family they have become and will always be.

Thanks to each of you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giving Thanks - Family

Thanksgiving is upon us. Next week.

I've been thinking about the blessings that I have received this past year--and for that matter during all of my life in an effort to better grasp how I take blessings for granted and despite my best efforts, I continue to receive blessings that I neither deserve nor have earned.

I have the usual list--family, friends, job, home, health, peace, pets, and love. And as the Apostle Paul would say, not the least of these is love.

But--I thought I might like to dig a bit deeper into each of these areas to discern the real blessings and not just the superficial, pass it off kind of acknowledgement that I usually do when confronted with truly deep issues.

Superficial is easy, and non-threatening. I have been thinking about some of these blessings and I have come to realize that they are not superficial. It is I who am superficial in so many things that I do. I am afraid to engage and to offer the best of myself to the situation.

Family. I have the best family in the world. They put up with me even when I would rather be somewhere else. (Like Key West) I love them. I wonder whether I deserve them. But, Sundays around the TV watching four different football games reminds me that we are a family and we are all better because of it.

But family is more than watching football games together. Family is the way we look out for each other and overlook our shortcomings to find the inner beauty in each of us. It is the unconditional smile of a grandson (since I haven't any granddaughters, it is OK to write it this way) when I arrive or when we communicate via the new Facetime technology. Family is saying, we've got your dog when we head out for a long weekend.

Family supports when one of us is down and thrives when we are all together. And family is larger than just the cluster of people living in Maryland--but it includes far flung brothers and sisters and parents and cousins and nieces and nephews scattered across America.

And I am stronger because of all of them. We get together all too infrequently.

But they are a blessing and I am thankful for them.

What is the real blessing of family?

The real blessing of family is that I never fear being alone in this world. In family, I have others with whom I am walking beside, or leading, or walking behind--but joined arm-in-arm as we make our way through the world. Although we are not all walking the same path, we are walking together, and we are stronger for it.

I am not alone--there are others with whom I can share my joys and sorrows, successes and failures, and just sit together sipping a glass of wine or a beer and enoy being--even if we are not talking, we are.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Time Is?

What is time?

I think of time as a well-defined measurement that I use to measure events and the interval between significnt occurrences in my life.

A while ago, I was involved in a radical discussion the about time. It was fascinating to think about something that while we spend a great deal of effort defining, but something we really do not understand.

Is there really time? Or is time a creation of man to help measure the days until we die?

Animals do not concern themselves with time-maybe because they do not understand that one day they will die. And so they live day to day without fear of their impending death.

God does not seem concerned with time to the degree that we people are concerned. We measure time to the nanoseconds. God moves within time in terms of eras and ages and millennia.

So, why am I so worried about time? Is it because each passing second reminds us me that I am that much closer to dying? But then dying is really not death, but only an address change. And in eternity I will not be concerned with time--I think that is why it is so hard for me to conceive of heaven because I think an eternity is such a long period of time, when in fact if there is no time, eternity just is.

I found the following on one website:

"There is considerable misunderstanding in society concerning the nature of time. Time simply is; it cannot do anything. Time provides the historical framework in which things happen, but time has no innate ability itself. To express the same thought in different words: time is quantitative, not qualitative. This is a most important distinction with several implications."

Is time constant? No. I can readily see how time ebbs and flows in my own live. Although I believe time to be constant, I think about periods when I am fully absorbed--time passes and I hardly notice it. Yet, when waiting for something to happen--like departing for a trip, time crawls.

A few months ago I blogged about nearly being in a traffic accident and how time slowed allowing me to act and react to each new event in the scene--and ultimately avoid the car that turned in front of me.

The answer to time-fright is to enjoy each day to the fullest. Enjoy each sunrise and sunset and each moonrise and set.

Yes, I look at my watch waiting for time to pass--but if there were really no time, what would I do to measure the progression of events? Perhaps, I would be free. I would be finished when the project was complete and I could depart when I am ready rather than waiting for the clock to announce quitting time.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Musings - November 14, 20111

1. This is the in between week. That is, it is the week in between Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. It may be the last sane week of the year.

2. I was shocked, this past weekend, when I visited the gravesite of a veteran and noticed that local veterans groups had not placed flags on the graves of all of the veterans buried in the cemetary. I bought a flag and took it back to mark the resting place of a hero.

3. It was a very different weekend in Ithaca. Varied in the people I met and the activities I participated in. I changed a door lock, visited, stood beside a grave after finding it covered with leaves, attended a memorial service, participated in a wine tasting, fumed at traffic, enjoyed the natural beauty of the Ithaca area, watched fire trucks responding to a horrific house fire that destroyed a big house in Danby, shopped (in Lowes), ate out three times, laughed at the antics of two small kittens, and watched more college football in a single weekend than I have in a long time.

4. Now is not a good time to invest in Euros!

5. Did you know the that the most recent Russian attempt to send a probe to Mars may come crashing back to Earth in January?

6. I had forgotten, but we have been having problems with Iran since 1979, when they stormed our embassy in Tehran and took 63 Americans hostage. It doesn't look to end anytime soon.

7. Have you noticed that airline prices are very high in comparison to recent times?

8. It looks as if the only country in the world with an active, reliable manned space program, that would be Russia, launched an American to the International Space Station this morning.

9. Oh yes--and did you notice that the Ravens are the most inconsistent team in Pro Football? They lose to teams with losing records and win against teams with winning records.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Images to Remember

It has been a long holiday weekend. The images of the weekend are varied.

We stumbled into a wine tasting at a local wine store on Thursday evening which really improved our spirits. It is always fun to find wines and take a moment from life to enjoy the fruit if the vine with others who also enjoy a good glass of wine. It is amazing how we never seem to find repeats in the wines we taste--the store carried no wines that were familiar to us in Maryland. That of course, makes it all the more exciting to try and find new wines to enjoy. I am so glad that wines are so diverse.

Autumn is in the final stages here. The leaves have left the branches of the trees and found their way to the ground where the wind is whipping them into ever increasing piles and filling the low spaces. I remembered that we needed to be careful when walking on uneven ground because the leaves may be covering a depression and a turned ankle could result from carelessness.

And finally, so what did you do on Saturday afternoon? This kitten was making all of her own entertainment in and around the container. Her sister, not pictured, was not too far away partaking in equally creative entertainment.

It has been a weekend of varied activity--and a weekend to remember. These images obviously did not capture it all, but will help to document a small part of it.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ithaca, NY - Traffic Constipation

Ithaca is a crazy place. Home of the greatest population of tree huggers known to exist and a city dedicated to the idea that another non-synchronized traffic light to foster continual traffic jams is just what is needed to improve quality of life.

I have to admit, I do not recall ever driving in a place with more difficult traffic. I have driven in much larger cities and not seen such confused traffic patterns. And add to that, a train decided to drive through town at the height of rush hour the other evening which totally shut down some of the main roads through town. I was in a traffic mess of Baltimore proportions.

Ugh! Can't they do better than that?

Ithaca is not that large, in terms of people. In terms of ego though, it plays way above its weight class. Ithaca has a popultion of jut over 30,000 and the region has a popultion of about 101,000. And it is not served by a connecting four-lane highway from anywhere. Amazing.

I did search for this cities not served by a four-lane highway, but could only find big cities not served by an interstate--and Fresno, CA, is the largest of those.

And so my rant about Ithaca continues. Traffic always has been and likely will continue to be one of the most opprressive things about the area. As I drove down one of the hils last evening into Ithaca I saw ribbons of taillights, similar to I-95 at rushhour, stretching from one end of the city to the other. Not moving. Fortunately, I was able to take some side streets nd avoid most of the mess, but that kind of oppressive traffic does not belong in a place with as much natural beauty as Ithaca.

Millions of dollars have been spent to fix the problem. A limited access, elevated, four-lane bypass is really needed.

That aside--the beauty of the hills and Cayuga Lake filling the valley are world class.

But the traffic is totally frustrating.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day - 2011

The History of Veterans Day

November 11, 2011

Veterans Day falls on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In 1953, an Emporia, Kansas man named Alvin King, the owner of a shoe repair shop, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans.  President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954. For more information, including educational materials, visit VA's Veterans Day webpage, VA's History of Veterans Day, the Veterans Day site , the website, and the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Day webpage.

My Thoughts

There are forces in our Congress right now who want to minimize the sacrifices made by not only our veterans, but their families. Reducing benefits for veterans--those who selflessly answered the call of our nation, is the wrong approach.

We owe our veterans a debt that, for some of them, can never be repaid--those who have given the best of themselves--the best of their lives and their health.

So today--let's devote ourselves to remembering our nation's heroes, our veterans, and to continuing to honor their sacrifices by not reducing the benefits that they and their families are owed.

They answered the call when we could not or would not.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trucks and Open Road

We did the trip a bit different than we have done in a long time.

We traveled mid-week rather than the day right before a three-day weekend, which in this case would have been Thursday.

After clearing the traffic catastrophe, which is better known as the Baltimore Beltway, we were greeted with relatively open road. And I mean open road like we have not seen in a long time. As the day passed into night, at all of aabout 6PM, the road became almost ours alone--except for a huge number of trucks.

I remember years ago I use to love to drive with the trucks wide open on Interstate 95 heading through Florida. I remember getting behind a truck and literally hauling at speeds of above 80 mph crusing through the open flatlands in my big-engined Ford LTD. That car would didn't really start to cruise until 70 mph. It was built for speed and power.

Last eveniing, we were not cruising a 80, but we were making greeat time because the usual traffic congestion that we face on the trip never materialized. We gianed probably 15 minutes around Harrisburg and another 15 minutes around Wilkes Barre and Scranton.

It was pleasant drive--except for the trucks.

Has anyone noticed they don't drive as well as they used to? I witnessed many that were weaving around and performing fairly aggressive lane changes.

They made me nervous--and I never used to be nervous around truckers.

November roads are dark though. I pity those who do not like to drive after dark because it is dark for so much longer.

And there are so mny trucks. Why aren't we using the rail system more instead of relying on so many long-haul truckers?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Near Full Moon

The near full moon was hanging over the end of the street last evening as I drove off to play a racquetball match.

It was there, bright and almost cheery in the clear sky which was just beginning to be populated with points of light.

The sun was in the final stages of setting--and so the sky was not completly dark yet--but it was coming, I could tell.

Many trees still retain portions of their autumnal robes and gave the scene some color--still visible in the just before the darkness waning light.

It was warm--yes warm with temperatures in the mid-60's just to remind me that even in November the weather can be nice enough to ride with the top down on he convertible.

But I was off on a mission--heading off to the court in the height of the evening rush hour traffic.

It seems that rush hour around here is reaally rush four hours as people scurry to and from their places of employment or education. And it happens twice per day.

The moon was hanging there--almost full, it will be full on Thursday and then I wonder whether it will become a true harvest moon. The big cool orb hanging in the sky illuminating the near bare trees and casting stark shadows onto the lawns that we associate with autumn. Maybe more yellow than white--low on the horizon opposite the just set sun.

The kind of moon that when we were kids we would look into its face and really see the man in the moon. Or maybe, if we were quick, we could spy a witch flying her broom across the broad face--but only for a moment.

But it is off for the new day and the coming dawn now. I wonder what is in store for today. Something magical, I hope.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

After Daylight Savings Time

Work week day one of the return to standard time has been completed. The sun rose shortly after I arrived at work and set as I was driving home.

My total exposure to sunlight amounted to zero minutes.

The dark days have officially begun it seems. Departing under the cover of night and returning home after sunset. If I were a vampire it would be awesome--but it turns out that I am a creature of the sun.

And it only gets worse from here.

Today the sun rises at 6:42 am and sets at 4:59 pm for 10 hours and 17 minutes of available sunlight. By this time next month, there will only be 9 hours and 30 minutes of available sunlight.

I need a trip south, south of the equator!

I guess that is my problem with coming off daylight savings time--the amount of sunshine doesn't change dramatically, it is just more aligned to when I am at work. And I work under the warmth of flourscent lighting in a windowless office so I don't even get to see the daylight when it is available.

I suppose that I don't need to listen to the weather for the next couple of months--my weather is darkness followed by brief glimpses of the dawn (or sunset).

It will get better, I kmow.

But in the meantime, gray skies and continual darkness just don't do it for me. I'm told that it is going to be 68 degrees today--if only I get a chance to enjoy it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Musings - November 7, 2011

1. It has been fun watching the long Autumn this year. The leaves are lingering on the trees.

2. The way the sun has been illuminating the golden leaves on the trees in the evening light has been stunning.

Autumn Trees in the Evening Sunlight

3. The ferocity of the presidential race makes me wonder why anyone would want to be the leader of this nation.

4. Fellowship is the desired state of life. To be in fellowship with each other is a state we should be working toward.

5. The fortunes of football, like life, are transient. Enjoy the winning to overcome the heartbreak of the losses. Tomorrow is new day and we get another chance. Win or lose.

6. The cold mornings are surely a shock to my summertime way of thinking.

7. Some holidays just seem to be rewritten out of existnace. I'm told that the Great Oktober Revolution is no longer celebrated on this day in Russia.

8. The is the week of Vereran's Day. Remember the sacrifices others make to ensure our ability to live as we desire.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Falling Leaves

I was out early this morning with Makayla--just at dawn which, according to the clock, was an hour earlier today than yesterday.

We were standing at the end of the driveway, next to a tree which still had most all of its leaves and in the quiet of the pre-dawn light I heard an interesting sound. Both Makayla and I heard the sound of something rustling leaves--or rather the rustling of a single leaf.

I looked at the tree to discern what was making the noise.

It was the sound of a single leaf releasing from the branch where it had been attached since Sping and then falling to each succeeding branch below as it made its way to the ground. And then it was on the ground, surrounded by its friends who all had formerly been on the tree.

Another leaf followed in the path of the one which had just made its way to the ground.

I had forgotten the sound that falling leaves make. I was sure that I could hear the leaf release itself from the branch and then fall from branch to branch until reaching the ground.

It has been a long Autumn and while many treees have already shed their leaves, many more are still preparing for the Winter ahead. But, I have heard the sound of leaves falling. I stopped for a moment, taking a break from my own self-absorbed life and listened.

There are many more things to see and hear.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wait a Minute--What Month is it?

Chris found this image on the web--and of course knowing that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, we had a good chuckle over this scene.

Sometimes we just get a bit ahead of ourselves. Today the Halloween decorations go back into the boxes until next year and the turkey's make their appearance.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Battle Rhythm

Amazing. Early November and I am already going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. And we are not even to the end of daylight savings time yet.

I am so frustrated already by the oppressive darkness which is punctuated by busy days and busy evenings.


We have lost our access to the light.

I am becoming a meeting warrior it seems. I cannot believe it, but I am spending more hours than I could have imagined in meetings. Ugh.

I am a doer, not a meeting animal.

Meetings can be so unproductive.

And some of the ones I am in are really unproductive.

But it is my battle rhythm.

It is what I do.


My mind was fried last evening when I stumbled home after 7pm. Ugh. I played racquetball at 5:30 am and had no idea at that time I would be strapped to a chair until almost 6:30 pm.

Battle rhythm. It seems as if I have too much battle and not enough rhythm.

--Bob Doan, EElkridge, MD

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tailights in my Eyes

Driving home from dropping Ethan off at Boys of Grace last evening on I-95, I was struck by the ribbons of lights eight lanes wide. Red taillights in front on me, winding over the hills and points of white lights coming at me from the other lanes.

The sunset was dark and almost gone on the horizon. The deep burnt orange glow still visible, but punctuated by the airplane landing lights and the stars coming into view.

It was a beautiful scene in a funny kind of way.

Ethan and I had, a few minutes earlier, just finished mowing the lawn and blowing off the leaves. It might be the last mowing of the year.

November is rapidly moving into winter. The mornings are cold aand frost covers my windshield.

Butfor now, the road was alive with ribbons of white and red lights moving at speeds about 70 mph in opposite directions.

And I was headed home for the second time tonight to enjoy a meal and some wine and relax until the morning called me to start all over again.

Another day and then facing the ribbons of lights again on the road. It seems that the dark times are upon us. Head to work in the dark and come home after sunset. I long for soringtime--and the promise is there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Presidential Olympics


The race is begun and it is a marathon. The accusations and the counter accusations and sexual harassment allegations are flying.

Are we electing a saint or a president? Are we electing someone to lead us out of an economic catastrophe or some squeaky clean poster child for special interests? As I see it, a business man who has been out there with a proven track record is going to have been involved in the natural side effects of conducting business in America today--and that is people who are not willing to accept responsibility for their own actions or failures. Result? Allegations and accusations against him.

I don't know the or the facts, but I know that we have had many men with moral defects occupy the office of the President. One recent former President could likely get reelected if he ran again and he was the center of a huge scandal with interns. Why could he get elected again? Because he was a leader and people resonated with his messageand he deivered on his promises.

Let the cards fall as they may--but, let's not become so myopically focused upon one issue that we fail to elect the man or woman who can take this nation's reigns of leadership and lead us from the edge of economic ruin and back to the status of the only surviving superpower in the world. OK, maybe that was a bit over the top but you get the idea.

Jesus said something to a group of accusers loosly translated which encouraged any of them of who had not sinned was free to throw the first stone. And they all departed. Why? Because we have all sinned. Is one sin greater than another? Not really. Sin is sin. If you are perfect, well, think again. We have all sinned and fallen short of the goal. Daily, I might add. I love the ending to that scene in the Bible where Jesus tells the accused--and neither do I accuse you, go and sin no more. (John 8:1-11)

Let's not look for perfection during this presidential sweepstakes season, let us look for a leader with vision.

Personally, I'm looking for a Ronald Reagan type of leader who, btw, was divorced, was an actor, and still got elected when we were in a similar economic mess--double digit inflation and seemingly without hope. Why did we elect him? Because he helped us see what we could be. He instilled a sense of patriotism and gave us a common vision of the future. Oh yeah, and then he delivered.

I am looking for a leader who make me believe something like:
If you're afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.   Ronald Reagan

And then, let's make it happen, together.

- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November Dawns

Amazingly, October is over and it is now the most wonderful time of the year.

Yes, it is the Thanksgiving season!

One of my favorite holidays just because it is about giving thanks to our creator, God, for all of the blessings we have received during the past year.

A moment, a day, to pause and think about the things we've been given that we really don't deserve. That really is the essence of grace, isn't it?

Yeah--there are a few days till Thanksgiving--but with the too soon passing of October the spiral down toward the end of the year really begins to pick up speed. Veteran's Day, then Thanksgiving and into December with the horrific rush of activity and parties until we crash into Christmas and then dance our way into the New Year. I'm exhausted thinking about it.

Halloween was fun, but it is over. Makayla played her part well and putup with the little costume we make her wear every year. She is cute with the little pointed hat and dress we make her wear.

Well, good morning November and the Thanksgiving season and good-bye to October and Halloween.

Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment while I bring on the turkeys.

Remember, if you can't soar with eagles, you can run with the turkeys.
My Zimbio
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