Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas for the Hotel Lobby

The lobby is decorated for the season at the hotel where I am residing. It is fun, I guess, to see the decorations placed about the lobby bringing their version of good cheer to the entrance.

I especially enjoyed the tree and the poinsettias strategically positioned to brighten up the lobby.

It seems I need to work a bit with my iPhone camera to take better images of lighted Christmas trees. This one seems a bit blurry--but maybe it adds to the ambiance of the scene.

I notes that the tree is very traditional, complete with a star on the top. The lights are white, and there are pretend presents around the base of the tree.

It is the season of preparation and shopping and so these decorations make the scene complete.

I can almost feel the hustle and bustle catching up with me.

-- Bob Doan, Writing from Tampa, FL

Thursday, November 29, 2012

KB-50 Aerial Refueling Aircraft

Is it a prop plane or is it a jet? Nope, it's a hybrid.
KB-50 Aerial Refueling Aircraft at MacDill AFB, FL

I saw this hulking aircraft on display across the field from the building where I have been working this week. As I looked at it, I at first thought it was a venerable B-29--but then I looked closer and saw the outboard jet engines on each wing and added fuel tanks.

I considered for a moment what this aircraft might be. B-50? No, they never put jets on the B-50's, I thought. A modified RB-50? Yes, as I crossed the parking lots and busy four lane road of MacDill AFB, Florida, that is exactly what I expected to see. It made sense--Cuban Missile Crisis, reconnaissance, Florida. Although the jet engines still bothered me because I didn't think the RB-50 ever had jets.
KB-50 Side View Showing the Outboard Jet Engine

People who know me, know that I am reasonably good at identifying aircraft--especially aircraft that were in service with the greatest command in history--Strategic Air Command (SAC). So when I arrived at the site and saw the aircraft was a KB-50, imagine my surprise--I had never seen a KB-50 before.

The last of these venerable aircraft were retired during 1965--what a great run.

I enjoyed researching the history of the aircraft and finding out how they were used. I think it was one of those really successful repurposing of old, but useful aircraft. Just a short walk away, and flying overhead I saw the current aerial refueling aircraft in the Air Force fleet--the KC-135R. It is good to get away to an operational Air Force Base every so often.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Tampa, FL

Red Dawn - Review

I was looking forward to a campy, remake of the 1984 cult classic.

I didn't get it.

This remake of Red Dawn lacks imagination. plot, creativity, and the feel good ending that the original movie had.  Mind you, the original wasn't that good, but at least it left you feeling good!

This version is just bad. It has no socially redeeming value and is not even worth the time to watch it when it comes out on Netflix.

The acting is bad. The character development is practically nonexistent. The rest of the movie is trite and superficial. From a technical perspective, the bad guys are using US equipment for their military forces. The plot is poor and unbelievable--another secret weapon, not further specified, has crippled the US military and left the entire country defenseless and open to assault by North Korea. The landing is done by aircraft--how were they refueled in getting from North Korea to the US and without flying over Japan? The geography just doesn't work nor does the apparent logistics to support an army large enough to capture most of the US.

Come on, the US is not South Korea--whom the North Koreans hate more than us.

And that is just the beginning of the movie. The inevitable inclusion of the Russians and the bumbling North Korean officer who is in charge of the occupation are just more bad movie ploys. Given that the movie had a $65 million budget, I wonder why they couldn't have done better?

Another reviewer wrote:

Red Dawn really doesn't offer too much more in the movie department. The fact that a technologically strong country like North Korea doesn't have better armor for their troops is complete fiction and makes the threat of the enemy a little less intimidating. Throw in the fact that the kids can shoot better than the troops, and well you get a classic American cowboy film that further pumps up someone's ego. Aside from American pride, this movie also has a vague ending just like its 80's precursor that sets the stage for both ending and opens up for another movie. Whether or not this sways your vote I can't tell, but I'm just warning you that there is no definite closure to this film. 

I concur with all of the above.


-- Bob Doan, writing from Tampa, FL

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Out the Hotel Window - Tampa, November 2012

Autumn's grip on the Northeast is slipping and I am in Tampa enjoying 70 degree days that Baltimore may not see again until March or April.
Looking West from Westshore Drive, Tampa

Out my hotel window in the distance is Tampa Bay just before sunset on November 27th.

The still warm sun is hidden behind the clouds as it slips towards the horizon.

Yay for warmth and sun. I left behind gray, rainy, cold skies in Baltimore.

While the water seems inviting, it is a distance away and I have not had the opportunity to put my toes into its salty warmth.

The weather is definitely different here, I ate dinner outside at a local restaurant last evening! And it was enjoyable.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Tampa, FL

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Everything that's Wrong with the NFL

I can sum up everything that is wrong with the NFL in two words: Video Replay!

On Sunday, during the Ravens-Chargers game I was subjected to some of the worst officiating that I have ever witnessed.

Aside from the pass interference and leading-with-the helmet calls that weren't, the highlight of the game was the three-ring circus surrounding the Ray Rice pass reception for 30 yards on a 4th and 29 late during the 4th quarter.

Even with the assistance of video replay, the officials were hard pressed to make the right call. After determining that they spotted the end of the play wrong, they were then confronted with the problem that the first down chains had been moved and it was difficult to determine their correct placement in order to do a check for the first down. After a 15 minute, or more, delay in the game,  the end result of all of the video review and play changing was that the ball was repositioned about 12 inches and the Ravens still had a first down and the game continued. It was more likely that a truly correct reassessment of the ball position and first down markers would have resulted in a change of possession and the game being essentially over with the Chargers winning, 13-10.

Instead the Ravens scored the tying field goal and won the game in overtime, 16-13.

Please do not bring video replay to baseball. We don't need the delay and continued bad calls.

I continue to be amazed that even with video replay and the stoppage in play, officials still get the calls wrong. The TV announcers and even the coaches, apparently upon the orders of the league, cannot comment on the erroneous calls--but too many of them are too obvious to ignore. This is hurting the quality of the product being put on the field week-to-week.

Football, the king of American sports, has lost its competitive spirit. Video replay is not better than when officials were allowed to make the calls without the benefit of video replay. I think it is more fair and the games move faster.

BTW, when is CBS going to figure out that Sixty Minutes is not going to start on time when they are televising a 4pm game? The games have grown longer, it seems, from 3 to almost 4 hours.

And they are painful to watch, even when the my favorite team wins.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Musings - November 26, 2012

1. The holiday sprint has begun. Check out the parking lot at your favorite mall if you want to have a frustrating experience. 29 days to go until the big day!

2. I went to a movie at a mall on Saturday evening--big mistake both for parking and the choice of movie. Review to follow.

3. Eleven boxes of holiday decorations and one weekend equals one tired puppy.

4. I enjoyed a bottle of the first northern hemisphere wine of 2012 Saturday night--Beaujolais Nouveau from France. It was young but had a very nice color.

5. I wrote down a couple of ideas during Sunday's church message about giving:

    a. Relationship is the basis of gifting, without a relationship between the giver and receiver gifts are just things.

    b. When I am giving a gift, it is not me doing the giving, but God giving through me.

    c. God's generosity to me causes me to be.

6. At 5:30 pm, when it is dark outside and day has passed into night I remember the summertime and how our outside activities are just beginning around the pool with a glass of wine.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmafication--A House Transformed

Yesterday was the day to finish, mostly, decorating the house by completing the changeover from Thanksgiving to the Christmas/Holiday season.
Christmas Jeeps

It makes for a busy day and includes such strange traditions as putting wreaths on the boy's Jeeps. This year, we found a way to put Christmas lights on the wreath on the yellow Jeep. That should be interesting. Patrick and Corey posed with their Jeeps for this picture shortly after we finished the project. It was pretty cold but we were happy in a devious kind of way. I have heard that the orange Jeep is coming over today to be Christmafied, too.

We use a seasonal word to describe this day of decorating. We call it Christmafication, which is a derivation of the word Christmafied. Take a moment to Google Christmafication--it is used a lot even though it has not beed accepted as a formal word, yet.

Garage Staging for Christmafication
Christmafication Day begins in the garage by collecting the boxes of decorations from the attic.

These boxes, containing their treasures, provide the tools necessary to transform the house into a Christmas ready paradise. I lost count at how many boxes of decorations we store from year to year. But they make a nice pile in the middle of the garage staging area.

Warm Glow of Christmas Lights
By the end of the day, these boxes will be empty and the house will be Christmafied. I realize later that two boxes were missing from this image--those of the two Christmas trees. Only one tree actually was set up during the day.

The 2012 Edition of the Doan House
Christmafication is a process. Although everything is mostly complete by the end of the day--there are a few activities that need to be completed on subsequent days. The second tree and associated decorations for the basement Family Room comprise most of them.

But the main living room looks--fabulous!

And so does the outside, for that matter.

Welcome to the Holiday Season--let's rock!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Snow Village 2012

It is ready to help celebrate the Christmas season. Here is the 2012 Doan Family Snow Village--just completed!

On to decorating the rest of the house.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Conquering the World, or not

The Thanksgiving tradition continued. Another year and another failed attempt to conquer the world!  The Black Friday family Axis and Allies game ended with another defeat for the Axis--just like history. That's good--but Patrick and I were playing the Axis, so I lost again.

It goes with the territory, I guess. Just like last year  I just couldn't get the global war plan going with my Japanese ally. Maybe the German push into the Caucasus Region was a bit too far and stretched my logistics lines too much. Or the crushing naval strategy executed in the Pacific by the British and U.S. navies.

Crushed! My strategy was completely crushed by the Allies. Again! Ugh!

Face it--I don't make a good world conqueror, despotic dictator, or Napoleonic-style emperor. My Waterloo always seems to happen somewhere on the Steppes of Russia. I have that in common with a lot of would be world conquerors.

Maybe next year (or after Christmas) I will do better.  I need a do over.

On a positive note, the Thanksgiving left-overs were awesome. Cold turkey, cold stuffing, cold fruit salad (oh yeah, the salad is served cold anyway). Sometimes I think Thanksgiving dinner tastes better the day after.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 23, 2012

Season of the Turkey

It is over. Maybe today is just beginning for many people, but one of my favorite seasons of the year has just ended.

The season of the turkey is one of the shortest season's on the calendar beginning on November 1st and ending on Thanksgiving. It marks the time between rational thought and the insane sprint through the holiday season.

I have a small collection of turkeys which decorate our house during this all-to-short season. I enjoy replacing the garish Halloween decorations with their bright and happy faces and I am always a bit sad when I have to pack them away for another year.

Turkeys are inherently happy and are a great prelude to the day of thanks when we remember everything that we are blessed with--and I mean more than just good wine and mediocre football.

As Chris left the house this morning to sojourn into the Black Friday chaos, she reminded me that the season of the turkey is past and now is the time for snowmen, Santa's, and holiday cheer. I prefer the holiday spirits, but I guess that is becoming a bit more socially unacceptable these days.

For the next over 30 days, I will be listening to "Haul out the Holly" and other tunes on the radio many of them overdone so to the point of excruciating. But the memory of the unassuming turkey will get me through.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving - 2012

Today is one of my favorite holidays. A truly American tradition of giving thanks to God for prosperity even during the hard times and for the hope of better times to come.

Turkey on the Mantle
"What are you thankful for this year?" It is a question that millions of Americans will ask around their Thanksgiving table today.

It is good to take a moment to think about our blessings.

I am saddened that some unscrupulous retailers (K-mart, Walmart, Macy's, and Target to name a few) have decided that the pursuit of the dollar is more important that pausing to give thanks. I'd propose a boycott, but they never amount to much in a practical sense.

So what is Thanksgiving?

I was remarking that it is turkey and dessert!  But, I know that it is so much more than that. 

I give thanks for everything and everyone in my life--my family, my friends, my coworkers, my job, and every blessing that God has blessed me with. 

As the hymn goes:

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing; 
 he chastens and hastens his will to make known. 
 The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. 
 Sing praises to his name, he forgets not his own. 

Let us gather and sing praise.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Phone Booths

Coming back from upstate NY on Sunday I saw something that I just don't see too often anymore.

It was there on a corner--right where it was supposed to be and it was a telephone booth.

This one was in the town of Marathon, NY. Chris and I noted that we hadn't seen a real, full phone booth in a long time.

A 2007 article from the Washington Post writes about the demise of the once ubiquitous phone booth.

I wonder where Superman is changing these days?

And how many high school seniors can really fit into a telephone booth?

It seemed lonely, standing there.

A throw back to an earlier time before cell phones and instantaneous communications around the world.

I'll bet there wasn't a phone book inside. Remember the phone books inside of phone booths? They always had ripped pages and were fat because of the moisture.

Phone booths always smelled bad, too.

I remember looking for dimes (yup, dimes) to make a call. And having people ask me if I had a dime. What do we use dimes for these days anyway? I remember collect calls! Especially from phone booths.

Maybe I don't miss them. Just the nostalgia of having them around.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Eric Scott and Naked Blue: Review

Saturday evening I attended a Cellar Music concert featuring Naked Blue and Eric Scott. In short it was  another home run from Cellar Music. A thoroughly enjoyable evening of friends, food, wine and fantastic music.
Naked Blue

Naked Blue led off the show with tightly crafted vocals and guitar riffs that were fun to listen to and accompanied by easy to understand lyrics. Having been performing for 20 years, the duo has everything, including great stories which punctuate the performance and provide a perfect backdrop to the music. It is clear that Jen and Scott know each other's music very well. The folk qualty to the music is enjoyable and the lyrics are very deep.

One of the highlights of the set was when Jen and Scott did their song We Will Fly, which has been recorded by Evangeline.
Scott Smith, Bryan Ewald, Jen Smith, Eric Scott Jamming

The second highlight occurred when they invited Eric Scott and Bryan Ewald joined the duo for some impromptu music. I have to admit, it has been a longtime since I have seen music made and not just performed--but Saturday night I was lucky to experience the thrill of watching music being made again and it was truly special.

Following Naked Blue, and an intermission, Eric Scott accompanied by Bryan Ewald took the stage and the crowd of about 60 were treated to Eric's smooth and accomplished voice and lyrics. Eric is not a small guy, but he has a special voice which is smooth and does not show the wear and tear of too many shows and too late nights. Eric's best song of the night was his song Victim.

The night ended too soon--even though it went late. The music was magical and the gathered people were into the songs--most of which were very singable.

Way to go Cellar Music--keep them coming.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Musings - November 19, 2012

Blow-up Turkey
1. The turkeys are warming up--ready for the upcoming holiday. I think I want to buy a big blow-up turkey! Just because.

2. "Excuses are tools of the incompetent used to build monuments of nothingness. Those who use them seldom amount to anything" -- actor Stephen Grayhm

3. Retirements are not endings--but rather they are new beginnings, much like changing chapters in a compelling book. I was happy to be at church with my family as my Dad retired (again) on Sunday. I wonder if I will be retiring (again) when I am 84? I wonder what he is going to do for his encore?

4. Driving long distances on weekends really puts a crimp in the time available for activity.

5. I am always amazed at how much colder it is in NY. When we left there yesterday afternoon, it was 37 degrees. When we arrived home near Baltimore, it was 50 degrees.

6. I noticed yesterday evening that the main runway at Baltimore Washington International Airport had reopened after months of upgrading. I noticed this because it was finally quiet over the house and I saw an arriving flight flying the approach to the main runway--finally!

7. Football is an exciting sport--but there just aren't enough games. Baseball is an everyday sport for everyday people.

8. We live in the information age, yet, it seems that when I really need information I can't figure out where it is on the web.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Big Rocks

Ethan on a Rock in Danby, NY
Sometimes I make big rocks out of small pebbles.

Sometimes I make mountains out of mole hills.

Sometimes I look at a problem and think it is much bigger than it really is and wonder how I am ever going to be successful.

Sometimes I look at the schedule for the week ahead and wonder how I am ever going to make it to Saturday.

Every so often though, the rock is really big!

And I still get through it. Sometimes it just takes a little help.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Danby, NY

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cold Evening Quandry

I was sitting, alone in the house last evening waiting to attend a house concert where I knew it would be toasty and warm.

I was cold! It seemed cold in the house even though the temperature read 69 degrees.

I had only a few hours before congratulated myself on a second straight month of sub $170 electric bills. Yay! My house is 100 percent electric, except for the wood burning fireplace which totally rocks on cool evenings. But, as I was departing in less than an hour, I really couldn't start a fire to leave unattended.

Nor would I turn up the heat pumps to raise the temperature.

My Pittsburgh Penguin hoodie was looking pretty good at this point. So I went and got it from the closet.

How is it possible that a frustrated beach bum like myself can like a sport played on ice? I laughed at the paradox as I slipped the hoodie on.

And the warmth began. I even started to regain feeling in my fingers.

I heard the heating system start up and saw the cat walk over to a register to enjoy the warm air being forced into the room. I think Makayla was jealous. The cat beat her to the register to soak up the warmth.

Maybe I need an electric blanket for Christmas?

Nah, just a one-way ticket to Key West.

And a job there.

And a beach chair.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 16, 2012

Longer Evenings

The early darkness is significantly lengthening the time I am spending in the house--almost feeling trapped, during the evenings.

Where I used to be outside--even if only lounging near the pool with a nice glass of wine, I am now inside looking out of the windows into the darkness wishing for springtime and the return of daylight savings time.

I am afraid it is going to be a long winter.

Last evening, to break the boredom, I did a significant amount of Christmas shopping. It was almost surreal--a glass of wine in my hand and my trusty laptop in my lap while checking out sites and options for holiday gifts. Accompanied by Chris, who managed the Christmas lists, we scoured sites to find the best bargains and we made a number of purchases! Yay Amazon! Shopping without leaving the house. A great way to beat the crowds.

I can almost change the verse from 'Twas the Night before Christmas poem , by Clement Moore from

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"


Now Best Buy! now, Amazon! now Walmart and Sears!
On, Toys R Us! on, Target! on, Penny's and Macy's!
To the top of the heap! to the top of the credit limit!
Now spend it all, spend it all, spend it all now!

So, what fun did you have last evening?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finding Joy

It is there, waiting for me if I just pause for as moment to enjoy it.
Jax Showing Joy


A strange, small word that is easily lost in the hustle of my life. A word that is not often used by itself, but more often combined into other words like "enjoy" and "joyless."

Sometimes I find joy in watching others, like in the photo, I remember Jax rolling on the ground after a soccer game just enjoying life and playing with his grandma.

Yesterday I found joy in two seemingly small events.

First, my allergist told me that I could reduce my trips to his office for shots to once per week instead of the two times per week schedule that I have been on since June. A small thing, yes--but very freeing. And my arms are beginning to get sore as the dosage in each shot had been increased. And they itch. Do I feel better? I guess so--we will see in the springtime.

Second, Chris and I removed the leaves, again, from the front lawn as darkness was falling. It was good to be outside working around the house until dark. OK--5pm-ish. It would have been nicer had it been 9pm or so, but it was nice to be outside.

Joy in the small things.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sunset in November

The orange ball hung low on the horizon casting its red glow onto the still autumn clothed trees making them seem to be on fire against the crystal clear cyan sky.

I am not a fan of seeing the sun setting as I am leaving work, but I could not help but be awed by the colors in front of me as I was driving.

I had a hard time not looking directly into the bright ball of fire--I was almost mesmerized by it--seeing it for what seemed like the first time after a hurricane and seemingly weeks of gloomy weather.

I wished it was the hot sun of summer, baking the interior of my truck to temperatures above 100 degrees turing the cab into an oven-like place that I could crawl into like a lizard looking for warmth.

But it was not.

The day was cold, 45 degrees, seemed like colder, as I drove away from my place of work.

By the time I arrived home--the sun had set and all that remained of it were the oranges and reds of the sunset--a fading memory of the day as the stars began to illuminate the darkening sky.

I like dawn more than sunset because dawn offers the promise of the day ahead, while sunset is the period at the end of the day. Time has run out--like the final gun or horn at a sporting event. The day is over.

Not even an overtime period to try to correct the miscues of the day. Daylight is fading into black and with it, the promise of the light.

The sunset silhouetted the bare trees along the highway as I approached my home, bathing their black branches with the colors of the dying day.

Although the sunset was breathtaking in its diminishing glory, nothing good ever happens after dark especially during the morning hours right after midnight it seems.

Tomorrow the dawn comes again, with the promise of a new hopes for a new day which is then bookended by yet another sunset.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Do Fans Understand Sportsmanship?

Without baseball and in the continuing wait for the hockey season that probably never will be, I have been reading deeper into some of the stories surrounding sports.

The following statement, reported on, was made by a player, Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears, on Sunday: "I could give a crap about what people think on the street. Get mad at me all you want, I could give ... I could give a crap about what people say," Urlacher told ESPN Chicago's"Waddle & Silvy" show on Monday.

The situation apparently was that Brian Urlacher congratulated a player on the other team for a great play--I believe it was an interception. Turns out that the other player, Daniel Manning, was a former teammate and friend. Brian demonstrated something that we rarely see in sports: sportsmanship. What a concept. And the fans could not appreciate the display.

I side with Brian in this one. I often acknowledge my opponent on the racquetball court after a great serve or kill shot. There is nothing wrong with appreciating a good play--even by the opponent. Why? Because it is just a game. Athletes are not gladiators in the coliseum trying to kill each other. After the game--they are still friends.

Brian goes on to say, "When the play is over, it's over," he said. "It's not like I have to go out there and be a jerk to him because it's during the game and I'm a tough guy. That's not the way it is. They're my friends. Between the whistles I'm going to try and get them, and when the play is over we'll go back to doing whatever."

Great sportsmanship. We need more of it!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Musings - November 12, 2012

1. Weekend trips are better when monday is a holiday to recover.

2. Who knew NASCAR was a violent sport with the crews of two teams having a brawl after a race.

3. I enjoy warm November days more than I might normally appreciate them because I know what is coming.

4. The fog drifting into the now bare branches of the trees this morning gave the scene outside my window an eerie feeling for the start of the day.

5. Why do holidays around the house seem to quickly become work days? My list of planned activities is huge--culminating with the hanging of the Christmas lights outside the house.

6. Traveling on weekends, while fun and enjoyable, always leaves me with more things to around the house.

7. Isn't it neat that our Congress and the President get to pick-up right where they left off? Staring at the edge of the fiscal cliff and neither side wants to give in. The losers? We the people.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Out the Hotel Window - Williamsburg, VA

I considered calling this autumn's last gasp. Out of the window this morning, bathed in the dawn's light was a stand of trees, still robed in their autumn colors.

A last reminder of color and life before the dark times begin.

It was an appropriate end of the season weekend at the Great Wolf Lodge resort filled with autumn colors.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Williamsburg, VA

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lost Weekends

Sometimes it feels like I am cramming three days of activity into a two day weekend.

Looking at my calendar, this will apparently be the norm for the next couple of weekends. Short trips to here or there coupled by intense activity around the house.

Weekends have become an extension of my too busy life and not a respite from the 5-day "rat race" that I usually look forward to enjoying. The time of rest, recreation, and recuperation that used to embody weekends has been overtaken by continuous activity and appointments.

It is sad that my weekends have been so transformed--although I do get to sleep in until 6 am, the around the house maintenance projects are not going away and the increased darkness associated with the season makes it harder to schedule completion of the outside projects. Take, for instance, the ornamental grasses surrounding the swimming pool perimeter. They are still there.

And then, on Monday the Christmas lights go up. I celebrate Veteran's Day by preparing for the day after Thanksgiving when the Christmas season arrives to light up the landscape. Turkeys to Santas! Sounds like a Rockefeller Center show of some kind.

Just another extension of the too busy weekend.

And "that" season is lurking right around the calendar preparing to suck all available time into shopping and preparations. I hope I can do all of my shopping via computer and Amazon this year.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 9, 2012

Rainbow in my Mind

Driving to work the other morning, in the cold dawn light beneath a dark, gray storm cloud filled sky I realized that at least it was morning.

I could see--thanks to the ending of daylight savings time.

But now it is dark earlier--and one day this week I have already both departed the house and returned in darkness.


I need a rainbow to remind me that even when everything seems gray and drab, there can still be bright colors to brighten up the scenery.

Rainbows, it seems, most often appear against the backdrop of gray skies.

So with all of the developing darkness--sunset occurring before 5pm and all, I really needed a fond memory and went into my picture file and found this one--from September, to remind me that even the darkest clouds give way to lightness.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election reflections

Yes, it is over--or is it just beginning? At least the robo-phone calls and commercials have stopped.

During the course of yesterday, I talked to a few people about the election and the results and I found a couple of interesting themes.

The electorate voted for no change.

We continue to desire a dysfunctional congress, high unemployment. sporadic economic growth, a split congress, and a non-existent foreign policy.

The loser had flaws that he could not overcome, not the least of which were his loose tongue and out of touch with the voters demeanor.

Some memorable things that hurt the challenger: talking about buying a horse for his wife after the Olympics because she liked the equestrian events, talking about being friends with NASCAR team owners and selecting a running mate that "strengthened" the ticket by scaring the older voters which may have resulted in the loss of Wisconsin, Florida, and Ohio.

So now we get to watch both sides appear to be bipartisan while not giving an inch as the economy continues to sputter and the U.S. loses more ground overseas.

We did it. We voted for more of the same.

The reality TV show that is the our political leadership has been renewed for at least two more years.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And the Winner is . . .

The every four year race for leading the greatest nation on Earth has ended.

The people have spoken. The results are surely mixed, but the viability of our way of government and electing leaders has been reaffirmed.

That is most the important thing to remember, whether your candidate won or lost.

I watched CNN last evening as the polls were closing and they were covering the election much like a sporting event--almost like Monday Night Football. They even had a catchy title: "Election Night in America."

I'm not sure electing a president should be covered like a football game.

There were lines at our polling place for the first time ever! And I have voted in every election--not just presidential elections, since we moved here. It was awesome to see so many people committed to exercising their rights to vote.

But now, at least the robo-calls and election ads will end. I won't be getting five or six calls per night anymore. I wonder who I am going to talk to or what I am going to do with my time now that I don't have to answer the phone anymore at odd hours while I am either eating or doing projects around the house.

On one issue I do feel that voters in Maryland sold their souls--and that was the referendum on expanding gambling. The promise of more $$'s has clouded good judgement. Just saying! Welcome to the new Nevada. Legalized prostitution will be next, I'm sure.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Living for no Tomorrow

Does it matter?

Yeah--it does.

Driving yesterday, I heard a song on the radio. I have heard the song many times before and I usually sing along with it a that mindless way that I do while driving.

The song is Good to be Alive and it is performed by Jason Gray.

Yesterday was different. One part of the lyrics (as it usually does) really hit me yesterday--

I wanna live like there's no tomorrow
Love like I'm on borrowed time
It's good to be alive

I won’t take it for granted
I won’t waste another second
All I want is to give you
A life well lived, to say “thank you”

And I questioned myself for a long time in the heavy Maryland rush hour traffic.

Can I do that? How would things be different if I lived like that?

I have heard it said the "No one is promised tomorrow." By the way--that is not a bible verse although many would have you believe that it is--the concept may be there but the exact words are not. But, recognizing that tomorrow may be very different.

This brought me to another song--a country song by Tim McGraw called Live Like You Were Dying and a series of lyrics in the refrain of that song--

I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying.
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'.

And I wonder, 

I know a people who are there right now. Facing the "no tomorrow" who are trying to come to live like it is not going to be there. These songs suggest that it is a freeing experience. I see the hurt and the conflict in their lives and relationships. It is clearly not the fantasy land that the song writer's suggest.

But even with that in mind, and since I still have the belief that tomorrow is going to be there and be better, what is it going to take for me to crawl out from behind appointment filled schedule that I'm living and truly begin living?  Because, I think I will not only be a better person to be around--but I'll enjoy watching the sunrise over the ocean.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Musings - November 5, 2012

1. We had a true frost on the tops cars Sunday morning as the temperature dipped below 32 degrees. At ground level, though, it did not seem to be quite so cold, yet!

2. Saturday night, I saw stars and the moon in the sky for the first time since Sunday last week when the hurricane was approaching.

3. Election day is tomorrow--I wonder how our decisions in the voting booth will affect the future.

4. Do the commercials end after tomorrow?  And the stream of worthless, mind-numbing phone calls made by faceless computers?

5. What did I do with my extra hour yesterday?  I forgot.

6. The Dreamliner, Boeing's 787, made its first commercial flight for United Airlines yesterday.

7. Did I mention that it is cold outside in the morning when I take Makayla out for her morning walk?

8. I found out in church on Saturday night that I am part of the Justice League--well, sort of.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cold Saturday Morning

Where would you rather be on a 45 degree morning with a stiff wind making it seem more like 35 degrees.

Jax's Last Soccer Game of 2012 

1. At home, wrapped in a blanket drinking a hot cup of coffee while watching a good movie, or

Ethan and Makayla
2. On a soccer field watching Jax's final game of the season.

I chose correctly--on the soccer field.

It was a cold morning--and I was cold even with a coat, sweatshirt and shirt working together to maintain my body temperature. Makayla, however, enjoyed the morning on the soccer field with Ethan. She seemed especially renewed by the cooler temperatures. Or maybe she was cold and trying to keep warm herself?

The soccer game was exciting and Jax worked hard--but was not able to score a goal. He made some stunning saving kicks however.

Over all, the game was just--COLD!

It was so cold--how cold was it? It was so cold that the clock froze and the game lasted (it seemed) forever.

Not really, it just seemed that way.

I did get some nice pictures of Jax working the game to his advantage.

A fun way to spend part of Saturday.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Moments to Remember

I was at a local watering hole last evening with my nine best friends and I had an "aha" moment.

We were around a table celebrating the retirement of one of the group-and it hit me, it doesn't get any better than this.

The day had been a particularly rough day at both work and in the circumstances of life outside of work with bad news seeming to be the best that I could hope for. And it was sitting around that table, discussing life, retirement, travel, plans for the future, and Orioles baseball that it really hit me--these are moments to savor and remember.

A group of friends gathered for a time to escape the troubles of life and revel in just being together.

We were talking about the hurricane and the relatively minor damage, thankfully, we received especially compared to the people living in New Jersey and NYC who have been reduced to living like they were in the Middle Ages. Our thoughts and prayers went out to them.

We cheered when we realized that the NYC Marathon was canceled--because it was a recognition of the terrible conditions in the area and would keep thousands from sojourning there to make the situation even worse. But we also recognized that thousands of people had been diligently training for this event and they would not be happy that the goal of their training would be unrealized.

Sitting at the table we were able to discuss both sides of politically charged issues without the emotion that so often enters into such discussions.

Did we solve the problems of the world? No. No one seems to be able to do that.

But for a time, we escaped the problems in our own worlds and made them seem a bit more managable.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 2, 2012

Craziness and Phones

It happened with a few rings of the telephone.

A quiet evening, relaxing with a glass of wine became a mad fury of planning and preparation for the crisis which has just come through the phone lines and landed into our laps.

Off to NYC--to the hospital for another round of emergency care in the continuing battle against the foe that seemingly will not be beaten.

As rapidly as the ringer on the phone called us to action, we responded completely changing the plans and surging into action to support those on the frontline of the battle.

With every twist and turn--the foe is there goading us, probing for a weakness. Hoping that we have become weak and are willing to stop fighting and succumb to its control.

But no--the heroes in this battle are fueled by strong wills and supported by incredible love and prayer warriors.

There will be no surrender--only victory! Join the fight!

Victory will be sweet!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Arrives

And so, after the fanfare associated with Halloween, November has arrived to grace us with its 30 days of fun and preparation as the first of the final two months of 2012.
Makayla at Halloween

Halloween is the effective end of the active part of the year and the hibernation season, the season of darkness begins with the arrival of November and the end of daylight savings time. Unless of course I were living in the southern hemisphere or the tropics.

But alas, I am residing in neither geographic region.

I am stuck in the north--and too far north at that. Although I am only about 39 and a quarter degrees north longitude--sometimes it feels more like 60 degrees. I'm not even half way between the equator and the pole! But still at least 15 degrees to far north. I always joke that I will know I am far enough south when I see palm trees growing in the wild.

But back to Halloween, Makayla was a trooper last evening as she trick or treated with the kids in her costume.  I think that she actually likes her costume--realizing that it is something special and makes her look like the lady she is. I was happy that she just accepted it and did not try to get it off. I also like the compliments from the people we meet about her festive attire.

But it is, as they say, all history now. And it is on to November and all that it has in store.

Can you spell Turkey?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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