Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shoulders: Invisible until they Hurt

I have been going through a rough time with my shoulder. It is amazing how hard simple things can be--like putting a heavy bowl away on a shelf above my head, with a shoulder problem.

It has also dramatically affected my racquetball game.

I have been receiving physical therapy for the shoulder and I have seen some positive results. I guess I am experiencing some of the same problems that sports players experience when they get injured.

This is my first physical therapy experience.

I am learning how to take care of my "parts" and am seeing how important continued activity is to my health and well being. I was amazed at how much strength I had lost due to the injury.

I have renewed respect for my shoulder as a result of all of this. But I remain concerned at how long it will take to get it back to the way it was--and that is the place where I don't think about it and can ignore it again.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, March 30, 2012

Arcadian 2005 Syrah Westerly Vineyard

I haven't written much about individual wines lately. I have been recording my likes and dislikes and recommendations in CellarTracker, an application which allows me to manage my wine and do research. But, I have found a wine which is one of those very special wines that plays well above its weight.

The wine is Arcadian 2005 Syrah Westerly Vineyard form the Santa Ynez Valley in California.

I was introduced to this wine through an email offering form a respected wine agency and bought two bottles, sight unseen or tasted. I read the description an believed that if the wine was half as good as the write up it would be worth the price.

Turns out, it is far better than that. It is a great wine that one person I served it to remarked that it was equal to $100 bottle wines he had been served. Now I don't know who can afford $100 per bottle wines, but it is nice to know that I have one that is in good company with them.

One reviewer wrote: "Darn nice wine made even more impressive by the price. Rich but lively so it's not heavy at all with smoke, blackberry, earth and black pepper. There seems to be just a hint of brett (I could be wrong but myself and winemaker friend thought there was a bit) which added to the complexity without overwhelming. Good acidity and a nice medium length finish. Wish I bought more of this."

Another reviewer wrote: "Bright medium red. Red and dark berries, smoked meat and Christmas spices on the nose. Midweight raspberry and bitter cherry flavors are complicated by beef jerky and floral pastille qualities. This strikes me as a blend of pinot noir and syrah, with the former variety's finesse and sweetness and the latter's game and earth character. Finishes crisp and long, leaving a peppery note behind."

Recommendation: This is a great wine and I highly recommend it. At $26 per bottle it is a bit more expensive than most wines I buy--but worth the extra cost.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Rain

Although the temperatures have been cooler, the cycle of springtime rainstorms followed by piercing bright sunshine have begun.

I experienced it yesterday. A bright, sunny afternoon punctuated with thunderstorms. It has all served to bring the leaves on the trees from a bud situation into leaf.

It is funny how quickly leaves spring into view after the buds have started.

I love the greens of spring. The light greens of the new leaves are a splash of refreshing color after the gloom of winter.

And the rain just serves to generate even more leaves and springtime growth--I imagine that I can almost see the grass growing--and in fact the lawn does need to be mowed.

The first real mowing of the year, I can hardly wait to enjoy it. Although I have just discovered that I am severely allergic to nearly everything growing in the yard.

But I still stick my nose into the most fragrant flowers. I love the fragrance of flowers especially peonies. Although they are just beginning to grow after the winter, the thought of their full open flowers and sweet smell warms my heart.

And all because of the rain and the sun and the warmth.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Decisions, decisions, decisions

I make decisions every day. It is part of living. Some are pretty mundane like what color shirt will I wear. Others are a bit more important, for instance will I stop at the red traffic light.

Some people have difficulty making decisions. Really important decisions require thought and consideration. There really big ones fall into the category of things like am I going to buy a new car or change jobs. But most decisions do not fall into the same life altering realm.

I am convinced that for the majority of decisions in what I call the middle zone--that zone between life and death decisions (like stopping at a traffic light) and life altering decisions (changing jobs or buying a new home), the actual decision is less important than actually making a decision.

Decisions are points where I have the ability alter the direction of an activity. For most of the decisions we are faced with, the critical thing is to make the decision and not let fate or chance become the default decision maker. Whether the decision is right or wrong is not the best way to look at the problem. A better way is to look for opportunity.

Decisions are about opportunity. Each decision comes with opportunities gained and lost. Not making a decision or letting a decision point become "overcome by events" or OBE, is not taking advantage of the opportunities present in the situation. That is the definition of a bad decision because it allows inertia to be in charge.

Good or bad, making a decision is always better.

Even seemingly, at the time, decisions which do not maximize opportunities may be the right decision or may work out in the end because the decision maker energized the organization, or family, in a particular direction and that provided the guidance to motivate and mold the solution.

The key to good decisions is realizing that making a decision is the first and most important step in the process. The actual decision itself sometimes is almost secondary.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Men's Room

Men are complex conflicted beings, that is all that I can surmise. I write this after witnessing the disaster in the men's room at work for another day in an unnumbered string of days.

It is not too hard to hit the trash container with the paper towels. Yet, it seems that many men don't understand the concept.

And then there are the newspapers left on the floor in the stalls, near unused bits of toilet paper.

It is a sad commentary on our society.

I wonder if it is just as bad in the women's rooms?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Musings -- March 26, 2012

1. Baseball, and its return, have me ready for outside living.

2. Home runs by Adam Jones and Nick Markakis during the game against the Red Sox on Friday were things of beauty to watch. The crack of the bat and the outfielders watching the balls leave the park added to the ambiance. So did the 6-5 win!

3. The limits of personal privacy continue to be stretched as employers are asking for FACEBOOK passwords. How can that possibly be right? Next they will want a key to my home's front door!

4. Flying continues to be a trying experience. I long for the days of relaxation and comfort.

5. March Madness is truly mad.

6. Note to self--when traveling, if the bag can't be lifted over the head, don't try to lug it onto the airplane as carry-on baggage.

7. It was hard to transition from 80 degrees and blue skies back to 50's and gray overcast.

8. I was thinking about the week ahead and realized that I'm actually planning to be at work five days in a row. How different is that for the month of March? I was actually traveling on 15 days during the month.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baseball Rocks!

Spring training weekend is something I have been looking forward to since the baseball season ended in October. It did not let me down.

Unlike last year when I came to Sarasota and saw them, the Orioles look GREAT!! The offense was productive and the pitching and defense was stronger than I expected. Despite ESPN's dire predictions of the O's season, I have returned to Baltimore ready for opening day in less than two weeks and believing that the Orioles Way has reemerged from hiatus and our team is ready to confront the beasts of the AL East.

I saw a quote from Rogers Hornsby that more than I could every believe stated my love of the game and the way I wait through the winter for its return.

I took an image of it in Sarasota where it graces the entrance to Ed Smith Stadium where the Orioles hold spring training. It reads:

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what
I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." - Rogers Hornsby

This weekend, I saw the O's win two games. I saw batters batting and pitchers pitching. I saw the fielders making plays and more importantly, I saw a tight baseball team that has improved on the fundamentals.

Despite the dire predictions, I believe in the Orioles Way and Orioles Magic.

I believe that 2012 will be better than 2011.

And more importantly, I believe in baseball, Mom, and Apple pie!

Maybe the cartoon bird has magic in the logo.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Awesome day at the park

We have had an awesome day at the park and the game has not even started.

I saw my favorite player, Brian Roberts, and he signed my hat. He says he is doing better and accepted my wishes for a continued recovery.

We have snared a couple balls and given most of the away.

Jeremy got Matt Wieters to sign his jersey. Mike also got Brian Roberts to sign his baseball.

Game on.

- Bob Doan, Sarasota, FL

Out the Hotel Window - Sarasota, March 2012

Sadly this was the view from the hotel window yesterday morning. I say sadly, because I was thinking about going out into the pool for a morning swim--but as you can see it was full. And I really didn't want to get into the middle of whatever lesson was taking place.

The scene is not nearly as awesome as the views of the wide open prairie from my window in Denver last week. I still remember the sunrises that I witnessed.

But despite the view, I am in Florida and an unexpected cool front has changed the forecast from sunny in the 90's to cloudy in the low 80's, meaning that my "still not acclimated to summer temperatures body" was not be too stressed at the afternoon ballgames.

The good news--baseball, sun, and warmth! As an aside, this is the sign at the entrance to the hotel--I feel so welcomed.

The bad news? I have to leave this beautiful place later today and probably not return until next year.

For now though, I will enjoy this foretaste of summer and savor the coming dog days while still being sure to enjoy the blooming springtime.

-- Bob Doan, Sarasota, FL

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sunny baseball afternoon

Sarasota and the O's are leading 4-2 in the 4th.

Awesome day.

Flowers of Spring

They are accumulating in the yard, the flowers of springtime. The weeping

cherry is preparing to burst forth is its season of color, while the less noble but still beautiful bleeding hearts are also in bloom.

It is a fun time of the year to see the rebirth happening each day.

It is a season to enjoy and savor as it too quickly passes. While summer is fun and the pool will soon be open, this time as the flowers. Brighten the awakening world and the birds reappear is truly a time to enjoy.

I love walking the yard and seeing the new growth. I remember, just a few weeks ago when the land was dormant and asleep waiting for the warmer days and shorter nights. Everything was the same from day to day. But now, change and growth is everywhere.

So now is the time to enjoy and remember while looking forward to even more warmth in the coming summer sun.

-- Bob Doan, Sarasota, FL

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Grating Sound of Springtime--Ice Cream Truck

There it was the other evening.

The sound that makes me want to head inside and close all of the windows.

Yes, it is the sound of the ice cream truck winding its way though the neighborhood.

Were it in earshot for only a few minutes, I could accept its nightly rounds; however, it seems to linger in the evening like a visitor that will not leave even though their time has long passed.

It is not that I would deny the children of the area their opportunity to receive frozen delights, but rather it is the awful music blaring from the speakers which bring all rational thought to a stop which grates on my mind.

And it seems to continue for over an hour as the truck winds its way through the neighborhoods surrounding the house.

Sadly, it can ruin the best glass of wine (whine?).

I wonder how many children actually flock to this relic of Americana i the evening? I wonder how many parents cringe at the sound of its arrival in the area?

In reality, it is just another confirmation that winter has checked out and we are firmly in the season of rebirth.

If only they would change up the music!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Orioles Spring Training and the Season Preview

Tomorrow afternoon, I leave for a quick trip to Orioles Spring Training in Sarasota, Florida. Two games (Red Sox and the Nationals) and temperatures in the 90's. Not to mention a quick trip to the beach and roasting in the sun.

Yet despite the hope of another Spring and a new season, ESPN just dashed my hopes with the latest issue of their magazine.

In the magazine they provided the best and worst-case scenarios for every team in Major League Baseball.

Of course, I read the item hoping that the Orioles best-case scenario might have them winning the division over the hated Red Sox and even more despised Yankees. Even the Toronto Blue Jays got some issued a ray of hope as their best-case has them making the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Alas, the Orioles though were hammered by ESPN. Our pre-season hopes dashed by a dose of reality. ESPN wrote for the best-case: "Lefthanders Brian Matusz and Zach Britton make major strides before the team is crushed under the weight of a powerful division. For the sixth straight year, Baltimore fails to win 70 games, for the 15th straight year the team has a losing record. Yes, this is the best-case scenario."

The worst-case scenario, and I'm not going to quote all of it, ends by stating: "The O's end up breaking the club record (107 in 1988) for losses in a season."


Spring training is supposed to be about hope and new beginnings and not about dismal seasons and even worse finishes.

I have my tickets--so I will see, in person, whether the ESPN writers have a clue. For now though, it is off to Sarasota where hope springs eternal because as the season is set to begin, the O's are tied for first!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On the Trail of Springtime

Spring officially starts today! It actually began at 1:14AM EDT, while I was sleeping. The transition occurred silently as the grip of winter officially passed into a memory. The winter of 2011-2012 was mild in Maryland. Even so, I am glad it is gone. I look forward to warm days and sunshine.

The flowering trees along the roads look like ice cream cones--kinda funny, something cold to usher in the season marking the transition from cold to warm.

The cherry blossoms in Washington, DC are in full bloom.

Most interestingly, when I get to Sarasota on Thursday, it will really be spring. Although with temperatures expected in the 90's it will seem more like summer. And they call it, Spring Training.

The lawn was mowed on Sunday, mostly to remove winter's debris and I expect to continue to enjoy this newly dawned season with outdoor activity. There are so many things to do, in the yard and gardens.

I hope I remember the joy that simply being outside in shorts and a tee-shirt brings me when summer finally passes into autumn. But that is six long months away.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Musings - March 19, 2012

1. Another week another trip. Last week Denver, this week Sarasota for Orioles Spring Training.

2. Wars and rumors of wars. Who else is tired of hearing about Israel and Iran?

3. March Madness--basketball. Who will be number 1?

4. Have you noticed how tough flying is right now? Small space and no amenities?

5. March has a four day sweep of mini-holidays: pi day, ides of March, 3:16, and St Patrick's day.

6. It amazed me how quickly Spring showed up in Maryland while I was away. The flowering trees have really begun to flower. They look like snowballs alongside the road.

7. I know it is springtime because I had the mower out yesterday getting the debris off the already green and growing lawn.

8. Sitting outside last evening watching the sun set and the world slow after a busy day was truly a perfect way to end the day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On the Wine Trail in Virginia

We enjoy the wines and wineries of Monticello Wine Trail of Virginia.

As a result, Chris and I have decided to embark on a new joint project. We have decided to attempt to visit each one and write about each of wineries and their wines.

We always have such a good time--and of course much of the fun is the journey to the winery and the interface with the people serving the wines. I most enjoy chatting with the winemakers when they are around.

During our most recent weekend, we visited 6 of the 25 wineries listed in the travel guide. Totaling with our past visits to the region, we have visited 11 of the wineries on the trail. We are, however, going to use last weekend as the start point and so there are six wineries that we are preparing to write about.

Given that we already published about Veritas, there are five more and then we will need another weekend away to the region to collect more information.

It should be fun. Especially when we need to head out again.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sunrise over Denver

I took this image yesterday morning from my Denver hotel window of the sun rising.

It was, magnificent.

Perhaps the only prettier one that I have seen recently was during our October weekend trip to the beach of the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean.

That was an awesome weekend and a great sunrise.

In love the promise of the new day that rises with the sun. Yesterday I woke up in Denver, and this morning I woke up in my own bed.

What could be better?

God sends the sun along with the promise of a new day to remind us of His greatness.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy 3:16 day

Heard this on the radio on the way to the airport.

Today is the day to share the most recognized bible verse, John 3:16, with everyone.

So what are you waiting for?

- Bob Doan, Denver, CO

Consensus Blending -- 2012

It was hard to believe that over a year had passed since Chris and I had the great experience of being part of the team that blended the award winning 2009 Consensus wine for Keswick Vineyards in Virginia.

But it had been. We were part of that team during early December 2010 and last weekend we headed back to the winery to defend our title, so to speak.

Truly, defending was a long shot. We were unable to attend on the same weekend as the rest of our team mates from last year, and history says that the winners of the previous year usually come in last. In fact, we had heard that the other members of last year's team had done just that on the day they attended.

The day though is not about winning, although I will tell you that winning is nice, but it is about time at the winery with the winemaker, Stephen, and the owners, and other members of the wine club devoted to blending a good wine.

This year was no different.

We worked through the morning trying to blend the 2011 Consensus. There was no 2010 release. The wines all had very different character. The wines this year were Norton, Merlot, Touriga, and Syrah. By noon we had gone through 12 different blends before settling on our final blend.

After lunch and a break we reconvened to judge the ten blends of the day. The judging was tense and we felt really good when we found out that our wine made the top four blends f the day--and then the top four. But, alas, our wine was judged only fourth best of the day. We of course felt that it was better--but the wine that won was a good wine too, in fact we had judged it better than ours. That winner is competing against the other three "day" winners to be crowned the 2011 Consensus wine. That decision should be announced soon.

So what is the day about at the winery?

Getting together with newly made friends to enjoy wine and learn more about what it takes to make wine. That, in the end increases our enjoyment of the final product that we select from the shelves of the stores and wineries where we buy them.

Thanks again to the great people at Keswick for allowing us to disrupt the flow life at the winery and spend some quality time with them.

-- Bob Doan, Denver, CO

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Out the Hotel Window, Denver -- March 2012

Looking off to the east the structure of Denver International Airport can be seen in the distance--the white circus looking tent like structure.

Denver Looking East
Actually, the scene is very nice to look at and enjoy as the day comes to an end and the colors begin to blend into the golden colors of the setting sun.

It was a good day, in that it ended and I am one day closer to returning home.

Traveling gets old really quickly--especially traveling alone so there is no one to do things with. Watching reruns of the Big Bang Theory on TV isn't considered enjoying the local nightlife. And the sports teams I like are out of town or not playing yet.

But at least the view out the window is expansive. The prairie is wide and open even yet, it still calls out to the adventurous spirit within me which knows that a long time ago I would have been one of those "heading west, young man!"

-- Bob Doan, Denver, CO

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I forgot to wish everyone happy Pi day.

Eat some Pi for me!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Springtime Arrives

I know that springtime arrived finally and that the dark days have passed for another year.

I know this because on Monday evening Chris and I began the process of cleaning out the leaves which collected during the winter in the area around the pool. The furniture was restored to operation complete with cushions and pillows that had been in storage over the winter.

A bottle of wine, cheese, and crackers were enjoyed to the sounds of music and the peepers and the birds.

It was an idyllic setting for the first evening of what I hope is a long an enjoyable season around the pool in the haven which is our backyard.

The first evening of the season is as memorable as the last, only the conversation focuses on the season to come rather the the good times passed.

This is the time I wait for and even the work clearing leaves and cleaning was enjoyable we watched the clock tick past seven and there was still daylight remaining to enjoy.

The lawn is greening and I can feel the tug of the mower coming. Even the plum trees are in bloom. I love those trees, they are the first blooming trees of the season in our yard. for some unknown reason, Chris desires them to be gone but I cannot imagine looking into the yard without them.

And so the season arrives.

And the promise of sun, pool, fun, family and friends.

Bring it on!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monday Musings -- March 13, 2012 (Tuesday)

1. Sometimes Monday comes too fast.

2. Defending a title is much harder than winning it for the first time.

3. Daylight savings time has arrived--could you just put the savings into my bank account?

4. I stood outside the other night and noticed it--the smell of springtime. Damp earth in the moist air. A sweet smell against the backdrop of the symphony of the peepers.

5. Warm weather with a bottle of wine with cheese and crackers consumed on the back deck, what could be a better way to usher in a spring-like evening?

6. Travel is fun, right up until it is time to actually do it.

7. March Madness is upon us. Get out the brackets and make your picks. Go Syracuse!

8. Bring on the beach. I feel like sitting in the sand, under an umbrella with my sun glasses on and being mesmerized by the waves on the beach for the whole day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, March 12, 2012

Veritas Vineyards and Winery -- A Review

Located in the western portion of the Monticello Wine Trail, Veritas seems to have developed a cult following. We visited on a beautiful, sunny, early-March afternoon to find the winery full of visitors. We actually had to stand in line for 15 minutes before we were able to be accommodated for a tasting. But that was not a problem. The room is visually stimulating and worth the extra time to enjoy.

Veritas presents itself beautifully. The large tasting room has a very different feel than traditional tasting rooms.The sofas and tables around the room provide for a personalized wine tasting experience. The picture is of the larger than life sculpture on the bar.

At $5 for tasting seven wines, the cost seems average and we did get to keep our glasses at the end of the tasting.

The grounds are very nicely maintained and the large building housing the tasting room provides a larger than life introduction to the wines.

Once we finally made our way to the bar for the tasting, unfortunately we didn't manage to get into one of the sofa groupings, we began to experience the wines. I was disappointed by the wines--they are very young and need time to develop. The wines lacked depth and complexity. Although the tasting notes provide an introduction to the wines, for the most part the wines failed to live up to the excitement generated by the notes.

The best wine of the day was the 2011 Viognier. The most disappointing was the Merlot. The Merlot was more akin to a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet Franc.

The winery shows a lot of promise and as the vines mature, the depth and quality of the wines should improve.

Recommendation: Visit and enjoy the beauty of the winery, but don't expect too much from the wines. Travel note--my GPS did not plot the position of the winery correctly, so be sure to follow the signs over following GPS directions.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Virginia Wine Country Weekend

We are in Charlottesville, VA for the annual Consensus blending at Keswick Vineyards.

A weekend away doing one of the hobbies that both Chris and I enjoy--wine sampling.

We have rediscovered a couple of wineries: King Family and Jefferson. We also sampled two new wineries: Pippin Hill and Cardinal Point. And for fun we stopped back by Blenheim, just to check it out.

I continue to highly recommend both King Family and Jefferson. They have nicely prepared selections of white and red wines which are nicely blended. We brought home not a few of their wines for enjoyment later.

Cardinal Point caters to wine styles which are a bit different and I could not fully appreciate them. I was intrigued by their white whine named Green, which does not age before being bottled.

Pippin Hill is very new and the vines are very young. The wines are young too. The facility is very nice and I believe this winery has promise for the future--especially as the vines mature a bit more and the wines begin to gain some depth and complexity.

Blenheim has expanded their parking to accommodate their increased popularity. They have very good wines, but unfortunately, the one that I enjoy the most was sold out.

Well, today it is off to Keswick today to defend our Consensus blending title. Really, just to have fun and meet new people who also share our love of wine.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What I Saw--Yesterday

Drivers changing lanes so rapidly that I wanted to pull over and calm down as one narrowly missed my bumper.

Crocus in the lawn.

Blue skies and warm temperatures.

A bottle of wine waiting on the table for my arrival at the house after another 12-hour day.

My dog, at the door barking happily at my arrival.

The pillow on my bed and my head nestled into it.

Darkness as sleep came over me at the end of a long day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, March 9, 2012

History and Space

While on my trip to LA and Lompoc, I had the opportunity to visit some of the history of American space fight.

That would be some of the Space Launch Complexes (SLCs pronounced slick) associated with space launches from Vandenberg AFB, CA.

This was the second time that something named for the former Chief of Staff of the Air Force Hoyt S. Vandenberg and I had crossed paths. The first was the ship, named after him, that I had the pleasure of diving while visiting Key West a few years ago. And now, the Air Force Base which carries his name.

Although I drove by a number of the SLCs, I was able to take a couple images of two of them--SLC-6 and SLC-8.

SLC-6 is interesting in that it was constructed to support space shuttle launches, but shortly after everything was completed, it was decided that the space shuttle would launch only form Cape Canaveral.

The big white building is SLC-6 which is now used for other launches.

The smaller facility SLC-8, which is dark in the image, is for smaller experimental rockets.

Despite the belief that with the demise of the space shuttle program the US was no longer engaging is space--I witnessed a lot of activity at many of the SLCs and can attest that between the government and private industry we are still forging a path into the final frontier.

We may have lost the capability to put men into space for a while--but we are still alive.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Return of the Peepers

I heard them in the swamp the other night, the peepers singing.

Another sure sign of the return of spring.

The weather is warmer and the robins have returned. The grass is growing and Tru-green dropped by to get my lawn ready for mowing season.

I am so ready for the weather to get warmer.

I love the sound of the peepers in the swamp on a relatively warm evening at the end of the long, but mild winter.

Let's get on with life.

I did find some crocus hiding under a pile of leaves.

The temperature this morning is a balmy 52 degrees.

It is spring--really!

Let's celebrate.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sure Signs of Spring

Flowers are the way that I judge the passing of winter and the arrival of springtime.

It really does not matter what the calendar says, but rather it is the buds on the trees and the bright blooms of springtime flowers that really start the season for me.

And so, daffodils blooming in my neighbor's yard yesterday marked the passing of winter in my neighborhood.

I believe that I will be mowing the lawn in about two weeks and that I will be opening my pool in just a bit over a month.

The darkness has passed--we need to enjoy the sunshine and the flowers. And we can begin living outside again.

I was reminded of the old Beatles song Here Comes the Sun and the lyrics which are:

Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo)
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How Far Is It?

An interesting question.

Think for a moment, how far could you travel by driving for three and three-quarter hours and flying for four and a half hours?

One answer:

From Lompoc, CA to Elkridge, MD using Los Angeles International Airport (affectionately known as LAX) and Dulles International Airport.

As I realized a few minutes ago, I have been "up" for over 24 hours with only a few (four) hours sleep on a large airplane.

It is funny, I do not remember taking off from LAX. I did, however, see the sunrise over Washington as the plane landed at Dulles.

Ask me what kind of flight I had, and I will respond, restful. That is what a "red-eye" is supposed to be like.

The driving portion of my day led me onto the Pacific Coast Highway and roads known affectionately, to those living in LA, as "the 405", "the 101," and "the 105." On the Washington end--yeah I got to experience "the Beltway" during morning rush as well I-95 and US 1.

So now it is time to shower and sleep to force another 3-hour time change into my circadian rhythm.

So how far is it?

Well that's easy--all the way from the left coast to the right coast! Or, yesterday into today.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings -- March 5, 2012

1. Traveling provides the opportunity to experience a lot of good and not so good things.

2. During a wine tasting, I was treated to some of the most creatively named wine favors. The wines were reported to have flavors of black cherry cola, tootsie rolls, a pineapple sucker, and marshmallow. One reportedly had aromas of strawberry jolly rancher. These descriptions were hidden in among the more traditional descriptions of wines. I'm not sure I want those aromas or tastes in my wine.

3. Why do dogs seem to always have it together?

4. I have acquired some new wineglasses recently. The one with Daniel Boone's coonskin hat on it is my favorite.

5. Syracuse won the Big East regular season championship in basketball.
Yay, way to go Jim Boeheim.

6. The weather is awful this year already. Thunder storms and tornados have torn too many towns and cities apart.

7. Ever notice how a journey back seems longer than a journey out?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Finding New Places - Solvang, CA

During my travel yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend some time in Solvang, California.

I found it to be a unique town built on a Danish theme. I admit, I had a lot of fun probably because there are numerous wine tasting rooms representing wineries from the area throughout the town.

I found the windmill to be a really nice touch right in the middle of the town.

Walking around the town provided a great way to spend the afternoon and sample some great Californian wines at the same time. I was also able to enjoy some very nicely prepared food while sitting outside at a cafe in the bright and warm sunshine.

I am sure that I will return home with a case of Spring-fever.

-- Bob Doan, Lompoc, CA

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Out the Hotel Window--Los Angeles

It seems that sometimes the best image outside of the hotel window is really inside the hotel.

The hotel I stayed in in Los Angeles had a great atrium with a lot of space,
like a shopping mall, and animals, like turtles and fish. There was even a duck in the koi pond.

It was a huge hotel.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

The Sky is Falling--Chicken Little

Titanium Case for Solid Propellant Rocket
I remember the children's story about the little chicken in the barnyard who ran around screaming about how the sky was falling because an acorn fell onto her head. No one listened to the little bird because her warning of impending doom soon became more noise in the barnyard.

Well, sometimes, the sky really does fall.  I had a unique opportunity yesterday as I was leaving a facility to see some pieces of space junk--stuff that had been launched into space which made it back to the planet.
Stainless Steel Tank from Delta Stage 2

Most people think that such items are small fragments--but not true. Here are two fairly good sized pieces of rockets which were recovered and put onto display. The larger one, the rusted one,  was actually accompanied by many other fragments, one of which fell onto but did not injure an person in Oklahoma, I think. If it had been in Kansas we could have started singing about the Wizard of Oz or something.

Maybe Chicken Little knew more than we give her credit for.

-- Bob Doan, Los Angeles, CA

Friday, March 2, 2012

Delegate Counts for the Long Summer Ahead

Some days a much longer than others.

Yesterday, for instance, I was awake at 4AM and did not get back to the hotel until after 9PM. Ugh! It was a long day filled with information that I am struggling to remember.

Then this morning, my computer and the hotel network are not talking and so I lost my first blog post into the ether.


Not really, but it takes the joy out of traveling.

I did get an email from the Orioles that my season tickets have been shipped. Another sure sign of Spring!

The weather here was OK--I guess. I didn't really get to experience it too much yesterday.

As the country is ramping up for Super Tuesday, I feel the political timelines beginning to wind down for some of the candidates.  But when I checked the delegate counts from the completed primaries--I can see we are in for a long, hot summer.

As it turns out, 1144 delegates are needed to secure the Republican nomination. As it stands now, no one is even close. Here are the totals from the New York Times:
Romney - 150
Santorum - 85
Gingrich - 29
Paul -18

I don't think anyone has a lock on this yet.

I had no idea that we had been following so much ado about nothing.  No wonder no one is dropping out of the race yet. No one is really even in the race right now.

Stand by, it has got to get a lot more interesting as the days melt away into summertime.

-- Bob Doan, Los Angeles, CA

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Flying again

I was halfway into a six hour flight yesterday when the realization hit me that not only was I bored, but my butt hurt from sitting, my neck was stiff, and my sore shoulder was still, sore.

Ugh! The joys of being crammed onto a too small, fully loaded aircraft getting more familiar with my neighbor than I really cared to ever become.

I was tired of listening to music, reading, and playing sudoku.

I had bought a box lunch in hopes of killing time eating, to no avail. Not only was there not enough room to eat, but the meal consisted of a bunch of small items that needed preparation--but there was no where to put the pieces together.

Time was passing slowly.

I could feel each second ticking my life away trying to find a diversion.

If only . . .

I was traveling first class? Probably not much better.

I was reminded of my sailing adventure last summer where I learned that I'm more about the destination that the journey.

Beam me up, Scotty. I want to be there already.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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