Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter Morning

Easter 2013 Crocus
Dawn is breaking and I checked out the flowers in the garden this morning as I walked Makayla. The daffodils and crocus are in bloom. It is Easter.

Yesterday, desperate for color in the lawns and gardens we bought pansies and snapdragons. Some color is beginning to return and the clear blue skies and bright sun of yesterday hastened the rebirth of the lawn and gardens. I noticed that the bleeding hearts are pushing up reaching for the light along with many other early Springtime perennials.

I reviewed some pictures from last Easter and I was surprised by how more advanced the Springtime had progressed. Last year our weeping cherry was in full bloom--even considering that Easter was about a week later last year, the blossoms this year are way behind as are the temperatures.

As I prepare to head off to church and fully begin the celebration of the day, let me offer a short prayer that I found written by Max Lucado.

A Prayer of Thanks - an Easter Prayer

by Max Lucado

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to earth as a baby so many years ago. Thank you that He paid the punishment for my sins by dying on the cross. And thank you that He rose again to prove that death was truly defeated. I place my trust in You to be my Savior. Guide me through the dark times of my life and give me courage to live for You. Amen

Happy Easter!!

He is Risen--He is Risen indeed!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Break Again

Although I have not been in school in over a few decades, I continue to celebrate the idea of Spring Break by taking a much needed week off from work every year.

The idea of getting out for a week and either traveling or doing work around the house is appealing. I had hoped to head off to Florida this year--but, I decided not to travel over Spring Break because I need to work around the house and Opening Week of Baseball is this week.

Some things that I have learned about Spring Break:

-- The last work day before Spring Break is longer than Christmas Eve

-- The week seems longer on Monday than on Friday when I realize that I didn't get nearly as many things done as I wanted to get done.

-- I sometimes work (or play) harder on Spring Break than I do at work

-- I look forward to springtime flowers, like these dogwoods from last year. Spring is way behind this year and only beginning to wrest itself from the grip of winter.

-- Sometimes I get to use fun equipment over Spring Break. This year I will be renting a chipper and a log splitter.

-- Enjoy the idea of the week, because it ends too soon.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, March 29, 2013

They're Here--a Sure Sign of Spring

The FEDEX truck left a present for me the other day. Contained in the package delivered to my door was one of the sure signs of Spring.

My Orioles Season Tickets and parking passes.

No matter how cold it is outside, the arrival of these few tickets  is a harbinger of baseball, summer, and sunshine!

It is time to start planning for 90 degree days. They may not be here for a couple of months, but they are fun to plan for.

Bring on Spring and Summer.

Home Opening Day is just a week away.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Happened to Springtime?

A friend sent me this.

It says it all.

Phil is no longer my friend.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Delivering on Promises

I ran across an article in the NY Times yesterday about the first rabbi to enter Buchenwald concentration camp and proclaim freedom to the Jews held in captivity there. Herschel Schacter died last week at the age of 95.   It was especially powerful for me to read this article during this week when Passover and Holy Week are being celebrated simultaneously. 

I re-experienced Passover and the Exodus Monday evening at a friend's home for dinner--and I was reminded about how God, through Moses, led his people to freedom after  centuries in bondage. Passover reminded me that God delivers on His promises.
And it is Holy Week as well, a period during which the ultimate sacrifice by a man provided the ultimate freedom from the slavery of sin and death for all. A price was paid for my freedom and too often I forget the price. And I also often forget about how God delivers on his promises.
The article about the first Rabbi into Buchenwald who was able to proclaim freedom to the captive Jews there reminded me of the prophesy in Isaiah 61:1: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. (NIV)

But he did so much more, he took action. The story in the NY Times recounts the story of Schacter meeting a small boy in the Camp.  

As he passed a mound of corpses, Rabbi Schacter spied a flicker of movement. Drawing closer, he saw a small boy, Prisoner 17030, hiding in terror behind the mound.
“I was afraid of him,” the child would recall long afterward in an interview with The New York Times. “I knew all the uniforms of SS and Gestapo and Wehrmacht, and all of a sudden, a new kind of uniform. I thought, ‘A new kind of enemy.’ ”
With tears streaming down his face, Rabbi Schacter picked the boy up. “What’s your name, my child?” he asked in Yiddish.
Lulek,” the child replied.
“How old are you?” the rabbi asked.
“What difference does it make?” Lulek, who was 7, said. “I’m older than you, anyway.”
“Why do you think you’re older?” Rabbi Schacter asked, smiling.
“Because you cry and laugh like a child,” Lulek replied. “I haven’t laughed in a long time, and I don’t even cry anymore. So which one of us is older?” 
Rabbi Schacter discovered nearly a thousand orphaned children in Buchenwald. He and a colleague, Rabbi Robert Marcus, helped arrange for their transport to France — a convoy that included Lulek and the teenage Elie Wiesel — as well as to Switzerland, a group personally conveyed by Rabbi Schacter, and to Palestine.
Isn't that really what it is all about? Being a representative for God to those around us and letting them know that He cares. It is about how we take this week of remembrance and move forward for the rest of the year in the confidence of knowing that God takes action and delivers on His promises.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dishwashers and Disposers

In a modern kitchen there is a dishwasher under the counter and a disposer at the bottom of the sink.

What happens when they both break within days of each other?


An easy thousand dollars of new appliances just waiting to be purchased.

Thankfully, with a bit of creativity and some insightful help from the internet I was able to return to service both of these critical modern appliances!  As I was adding up the dollar signs I saved through the two do-it-yourself repairs, I realized how much wine that money could buy. Or a new garage door, or some other equally as unimpressive object for the home.

But--at least I didn't have to buy a new dishwasher and a disposer.

I guess a penny (or dollar) saved is a penny available to spend elsewhere. Modern economics at work.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Final Snow of 2013

March 25, 2013, Baltimore Washington Parkway
Call it wishful thinking if you like, but the snow which fell in the Baltimore area yesterday may be the final snow of 2013. Yes, that means until January 2014!

The snow which snarled traffic and caused a relatively minor inconvenience in the flow of life was the last gasp of winter and now it is time for spring!

Even I had to appreciate the way the heavy wet snow clung to the trees leaving the road as a clear path through the wintery forest. It was hard not to appreciate the beauty--albeit it fleeting. The bulk of the snow has melted leaving again the brown colors of winter to reign for a few last days until the springtime can transform the landscape into a colorful palate of colors.

I know springtime is lurking out there waiting to chip out of the ice.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Musings - March 25, 2013

1. It is snowing and many schools have a two hour delay for starting this morning. What is wrong with this picture?

2. The joys and thrills of March Madness in College Basketball are in full bloom this season.

3. I notices a hint of green in the plum trees yesterday--Springtime is trying to arrive.

4. The tee-ball season is kicking off, I'm glad we decided to wait until next week to start practices.

5. This is the first day of spring break for many school systems--and they are being greeted with snow. Time to bail for Florida.

6. Holy Week and Passover coincide this year. Yesterday was the beginning of Holy Week with Palm Sunday and tonight Passover begins.

7. Trying to shake of the lethargy of cold weather, I bought the supplies necessary to perform the annual tune-up and filter change on the lawn tractor. When we got home, Chris talked me out of beginning the process right away by observing, "You're not going to be using the tractor anytime soon."

8. I opened a bottle of the 2009 Gold Medal winning Consensus wine that Chris and I helped blend a couple of years ago. I was disappointed at first with the nose and taste, but after decanting it for over an hour--a really awesome wine emerged. Good wines need some time to develop and often are not supposed to be consumed right out of the bottle.

9. Did I write that it is snowing?  On the 25 of March? Really?  Surely we can do better. On this date last year the high was 61 degrees. That was 20 degrees cooler than the day before when it was 81 on March 24, 2012.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, March 24, 2013


What an interesting word--repurposing. The online dictionary defines it as: To use or convert for use in another format or product. I prefer to think of it more as taking something useless and making useful.

Take, for instance, an old shoe factory rack that has been part of our household furniture for the past decades. This no small wheeled rack has been languishing without a well defined purpose in the basement as a collection locale for oversized dishes.

On more than one occasion it has been considered for downsizing by earning an inglorious trip to the dump in the bed of my truck--which is sad because it is not only old, but somewhat unique. It is an antique? Probably not. It, for some reason, has been spared. Probably because it is old and unique--just not overly useful.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, as the rack was again being considered for downsizing Chris had the grand idea of repurposing it as a wine rack!  What a great idea. All it would take was to construct some shelves to hold wine bottles. Best of all, the modifications would not require changes to the shoe rack--it would remain in its original configuration, in case it has any intrinsic value.

The design was fairly simple since the rack already had shelves and so, with a little bit of construction and some relatively inexpensive wood and stain, the former rack of limited usefulness was repurposed and now has a definite role within the house.

What a great word--repurposing. Taking something useless and making it useful again!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Loneliest Flower

There it was--attempting to bring springtime to reality, alone in my still sleeping garden. A solitary crocus.

But, it did its job--it made me smile and think of warmer days.

What a cold early springtime we are having. I am not even really seriously counting the days until pool opening because it is so cold. (OK, 34 days).

Maybe I won't have to wear a parka for Orioles Home Opening Day on April 5th.

I hope.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, March 22, 2013

Springtime Held Hostage

I think that winter is holding spring hostage. Someone needs to play the ransom.

Although I noticed daffodils and crocus in bloom today--temperatures in the 30's and 40's do not make for inviting springtime activities.

Some of the trees are beginning to break into leaf buds, yet there is still the threat of snow in the forecast. Last year the high temperature on March 22nd was 76 degrees. Today's high is expected to be 50 degrees. Yesterday it was 48 degrees but it felt much colder and as I write this my thermometer is showing 26 degrees.

I am getting ready for baseball practice and may need to wear a parka! I'm gonna freeze out there as the assistant coach for a Jax's t-ball team. Although I do normally wear a glove I wonder if you can play baseball while wearing mittens.

I keep looking for signs of revival and green. There is precious little green yet.

I believe that when spring actually arrives, it is going to be fantastic. But, I could really use an 80 degree day--right now! I keep thinking that I was supposed to be in Sarasota, Florida, this weekend but plans changed. It is supposed to be 80 degrees there on Saturday.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Prescription Wars

Coming to a pharmacy near you is the latest assault on our healthcare system.

I am on a couple of maintenance medicines, which I have been on now for over 15-20 years. Due to recent changes in the healthcare system I have encountered problems when attempting to refill existing prescriptions for two of my medicines.

Overnight, it seems, the insurance company has deemed that the prescriptions needed pre-authorization. This means paperwork and delays in refilling prescriptions that my doctors deem necessary for my health and well-being.  That translates into frustration, and right now, being out of one medicine waiting for the process to complete.

In both cases my insurance company determined that the medicines that I have been taking for over a decade are no longer covered and that in their estimation, not my doctor's recommendation, I had to try a different formulations before the medicines which have been working so well for almost two decades could be approved.

I have questions!

Why did this all have to wait until I needed a refill before it was made known to me? Surprise!

Why didn't my insurance company notify me before it became a personal crisis that the medicines needed to be "preauthorized?"

How can something that I have been taking for almost 20 years be "preauthorized?" Time travel?

Why has it taken over two full weeks to resolve this situation and I still do not have the medicine? Recognizing that I began the process which what I thought was a valid refill which can only be refilled within seven days of running out.

Why does the insurance company believe that they are more familiar with my medical situation than the doctor I have been seeing for 15 years?

Why did this become "MY" problem to resolve? It has taken an appointment with my doctor, multiple calls to the insurance company and multiple visits to the pharmacy to get resolution even though I do not have the medicine in hand. I'm told by the pharmacy that it is on order. My insurance company has decided upon something so obscure that the pharmacy doesn't stock it!

Is this Obama-care? Everyone has healthcare but no one has health care from medical professionals? Insurance companies determine the level of care. Does the emperor have any clothes?

The story of my second medicine is not nearly so dramatic. The insurance company denied my claim despite documentation from my physician and so I am paying for it out of pocket rather than use the approved substitute.

At some point I am going to try to package this situation for my Representative and Senators in Congress so that they can hear first-hand the impact of their decisions.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Under the Jeep in the Driveway

As I arrived home last evening from a hard fought racquetball match what did I find in my drive? Jeremy under his Jeep attaching running boards he bought off Craigslist. I almost didn't see my son prostrate under his vehicle as I started backing into the drive. He never works on his vehicle alone--until tonight. And he was doing a great job.

That he was nearly done was the miraculous part. That there was a crisis associated with the relatively minor project was operations normal. The guy at Home Depot had sold him the wrong bolts--SAE instead of metric, and they did not fit. Always something it seems with every project.

Lucas was in the house with Chris who was fixing stir fry for dinner wondering when we would be in to eat the fantastic dinner she had created, while Jeremy and I were out in the cooling evening temperatures with our hands getting increasingly numb.

After wolfing down dinner and sloshing through a glass of a really nice merlot, we were off to Lowe's to get the right bolts.

Upon returning, the bolts were installed in less than 10 minutes and the project was completed.

Why does every project never go as smoothly as it should? I guess that is just the price I pay for being a "do it yourselfer."

It keeps every project interesting and makes me question the cost-benefit of doing it myself or hiring someone. Thank goodness I hired professionals to do the roof.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Zillbilly Losing Battle to Cancer

One of the fixtures at Orioles games for the past 17 season has been an usher in one of the sections on the club level who dresses in county (or hillbilly) garb with a fiddle and plays along with the seventh inning stretch music. I myself, have enjoyed watching his antics as he incites the crowd and creates joy among those in attendance at the games. He always seemed to be there leading the section in singing along to the song--Thank God I'm a Country Boy by John Denver.

Kevin Cowherd writing in the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that his run is all but over. The usher, Charlie Zill, has stage four lung cancer. His days as an usher are over and his hope now is to see one or two more Orioles games in person as a spectator. He is hoping for a miracle as, according to the article, he was just evaluated for hospice.

I have never met Charlie in person, but I, like many thousands of others, have smiled and enjoyed his enthusiasm for life and baseball. They have dubbed his dance the Zillbilly and it was shown on the big screen at the games along with the crowd.

I know that during the seventh inning stretch I will always look to the section where he stood and remember him and his Zillbilly dance. And I will especially remember his final performance during the last playoff game against the Yankees where he willed himself to be Zillbilly, one last time, knowing that it might be his final performance. I was there, unaware of the battle with cancer that he was losing--and he knew it, as he led the sold out crowd in a most magical evening.

I pray that Charlie gets his miracle.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Musings - March 18, 2013

1. Having a doctor's appointment at 8AM on a Monday morning does not represent the best way to start off a busy week.

2. It is not that a person is as bad as they could be, it is that they are never a good as they could be.  - J.I. Packer

3. Heard in church yesterday: We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners.

4. March madness is upon us! It has overtaken us already. Which team will win it all?

5. It is time to tune-up the mower for another year of fun and dust in the yard.

6. Why does 34 degrees this morning seem so much colder than 34 degrees felt a month ago?

7. Spring officially starts this week--I sure hope the temperatures start to improve soon or Orioles Opening Day is going to be cold.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Misuse of Animals

People sometimes just do dumb things.
Shark in Swimming Pool in California

I was saddened this week as I read the account of the shark which was flown from NY to LA for a commercial shoot. The article Kmart Shark Dies After Being Placed Into LA Pool for Commercial details the event.

Why ship a shark across the country for a commercial? Even better--why is a shark being used in a commercial for a retail store? Despite the safety assurances, shipping a shark has to be a very stressful event for the shark. Not to mention the expense to the company.

The whole incident just doesn't make the common sense threshold.

And on top of the loss of the shark a report about the incident in the LA Times states: "When the animal died, Kmart asked that a second shark be brought on set, but the production company refused and replaced the animal with an animatronic hippopotamus, Gallucci alleged in her letter."

"Perhaps more maddening is that white-tip sharks are on the list of threatened species due to a decline in population following the popularity of shark fin soup, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)." reports Ecorazzi

This whole incident just does not make any sense to me on any level.

I'm going to boycott Kmart for a while, because they need to get their ecological priorities straight. This incident demonstrates a lack of awareness and concern for threatened marine wildlife and the environment. They should have donated the money used for this commercial to a charitable foundation rather than killing one and possibly another shark before someone with common sense stepped into the situation.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Traffic Reflections

Every so often, I am reminded about how the joy of driving a nice car on a fast highway, like I see in the commercials, is not my usual driving experience.

I tend to wind up driving bumper to bumper lurching along on a rain swept highway at speeds below a slow jog turning a normal fifteen minute trip into an hour.

Why is it that rain makes the traffic snarl?

IMPORTANT DRIVING TIP: The lever on the left side of the steering wheel is designed to let other drivers know what is being planned BEFORE executing the maneuver. I just appreciate other drivers who crash (almost literally) across three lanes of traffic to get onto and off ramp they almost missed without regard for traffic around them or even thinking about a turn signal.

I saw a deer standing beside a particularly dark section of highway yesterday morning. I wonder . . .

I have been seeing more vehicles on the highway with unrepaired damage. Do they have insurance?

Driving should be a pleasure, not a chore.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, March 15, 2013

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I have heard the saying that "no good deed goes unpunished" for many years. In fact, upon doing a little research the statement is attributed to Oscar Wilde. In my work worklife sometimes it seems to be the reality.  In my private life though, not so much--until yesterday.

How can two minutes doing a good deed turn into a fifteen minute delay? Fairly easily, as it turns out.

Heading out the door to take Makayla to the vet for her annual teeth cleaning I was asked to take a pie to the car to celebrate Pi-day. My hands were full and so I needed to make two trips. One trip for the pie and one for Makayla and her stuff.

That 2 minute delay leaving the house did not seem like a lot of time, but upon arriving at the vet to drop Makayla off another person with two dogs walked in just before me--maybe 30 seconds ahead of me. No bid deal, I was wrong!

Fifteen minutes later, the man was done checking his dogs into the vet for their procedures. It took less than 5 minutes to check Makayla in for her dental cleaning.


As the clock ticked and my blood pressure climbed I was in awe of how slow the checkin procedure was and how the man with the dogs found new and creative ways to lengthen the process.

The maxim about no good deed going unpunished was confirmed. Two minutes doing a good deed became a fifteen minute delay.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Pope for the World

I have been watching, fascinated again, as the Catholics select Pope.

It is a spectacle, complete with the Swiss Guards in full medieval regalia parading through the square.

I waited for the smoke to show like so many others looking at the most watched chimney in the world. I was also amused by the seagull perched in the chimney almost as if waiting for the smoke like the rest of us.

It is an exciting time. A rebirth of sorts--especially with the selection of the first Pope from the Americas. The transition of power--orderly and peaceful with reverence is a template for nations to emulate. I would not want 115 old men selecting the next leader for the U.S., but with that significant exception the selection of the Pope is a model process.

I watched the television to get the first glimpse of the leader of the Catholics. He is not my Pope, but still, I am interested in the process and the changes which will ultimately occur as the new leader takes control. I has been an interesting diversion from the murder-of-the-day news.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Governments and Furloughs

I read yesterday that Department of Defense employees will be receiving notices of impending furloughs as early as this Friday. I also read that the Senate has decided that Federal workers will not receive raises this year, for the third consecutive year.

I have lost about 5 percent of my income against inflation without the raises during the past three years, on top of that Maryland and federal taxes continue to increase as do healthcare and utility bills. I am losing money working.

And now, as a reward for my faithfulness, the DoD has decided to take another 20 percent of my pay for the rest of the fiscal year though furloughs. What a sweet deal!

What is wrong with this picture?

Under my healthcare plan,  some of my prescriptions are no longer considered necessary--and are therefore not covered. I love finding out about that when I go in for a refill and there isn't time to get a different prescription before running out. Oh, andI love it best when it is now "my" problem to solve even though "they" changed the rules and didn't have the courtesy to tell me.

Is the news getting any better? I think not. I am afraid to do my taxes for last year because I know I am going to have to pay the increases that Maryland levied mid-year that were not prorated. Politicians just don't get it.

Ok, so this is a rant. Maybe someone in high places will listen if we start talking about the insanity of it all.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Return of the Peepers

One of the joys of living near a wetlands is hearing and watching the resurgence of life during the springtime.

Last evening it was the return of the peepers. They filled the early evening air with their unmistakable sound and in so doing made another step forward on the path to springtime. The signs of springtime are everywhere. The temperatures were again moderate--in the high 50's, the geese have been incredibly active, and the junco's have been migrating through spending some time at my bird feeders. But the peepers--they put the dot on the exclamation point that spring is truly here.

I am fascinated again this year, as I have been many years, with the process of springtime rebirth and reawakening. Life is returning, everywhere.

I reviewed my blog and I believe that springtime is about a month behind last year, although, it was very early. We had daffodils in February and I remember driving with the top down on the convertible. Not so this season. Things are slower, but I suspect they will be faster given the increased sunshine.

Nonetheless, spring is here and it is time to enjoy the ride.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Musings - March 11, 2013

1. Two successive days of blue skies and 60 degree temperatures make spring a reality.

2. Team USA amazingly moved on in the World Baseball Classic thanks to the player of the game--Adam Jones from the Orioles.

3. Working outside around the house is therapeutic and a great way to break out of the winter doldrums.

4. Sequestration continues with no end in sight--next up, funding the government, budget, continuing resolution, or shut down?

5. Check out the comet that is now visible in the Northern Hemisphere. Just barely.

6. What can be better than sitting around a fire as evening falls, watching the stars come out, sipping wine and being with the one you love? Two nights in a row?

7. On this date in 1847, John Chapman 'Johnny Appleseed' died in Allen County, Indiana. This day became known as Johnny Appleseed Day. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, March 10, 2013

First Flower of Spring

First Springtime Flower
While out and about yesterday, I happened upon the first flower of springtime.

It is a small Tête-à-Tête Daffodil which was growing in front of a door in a small garden.

Already blooming to celebrate the rebirth of life as the daylight lengthens and the temperatures moderate.

Given the time I spend outside yesterday, it was nice to see the small flower. My own gardens are not far behind, with lots of buds on the daffodils. I noted that the squirrels have decimated all of my tulips--there are none left to enjoy this year. But the patched of daffodils and crocus should be beautiful when they bloom in a few short days.

I also found buds on the plum trees--they are the first bloomers of springtime and I always enjoy their while, lightly fragrant flowers.

Springtime is here!  Bring it on.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Welcome 60 Degrees

Early this afternoon it hit 60 degrees!

Chris and I had been working around outside all morning and had already shed our overcoats for just our heavy shirts.

The blue sky, the sunshine, and the work on the house and gardens had begun. The grasses around the pool have been cut, the leaves removed from the gardens and reestablishing the pool area has begun!

It was great to feel the sun on my face. I may have gotten a bit of a sunburn!!


-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Blue Skies and Sunshine

The Leaves are Coming

Saturday dawned with blue skies and sunshine.

It is awesome to look out at the now desolate trees and imagine them covered in green leaves, soon.

It is a pleasant thought. They are bare now, but with the passing of the last storm and the warmer temperatures expected for the week ahead, I believe that buds will form followed by the green of leaves to clothe the trees for the coming summer. Within the next short weeks.

The official beginning of Spring is only eleven short days away on Wednesday, March 20th. Although there is still the chance for cold and even snow, the likelihood is reduced with every passing day. On the 17th, we should cross over and have 12 or more hours of sunlight per day.

But for now, the blue sky is stunning. And while it is still cold outside, it warms me to see the sun and the sky and to imagine the seasons ahead.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, March 8, 2013

Daylight Savings Excitement

Daylight savings time arrives this weekend for its 2013 run.

I'm not sure how I actually can save time. If only I could bank it and withdraw the daylight during the dark days of winter, I know I would feel a lot better.

But at least the sunset which has been happening shortly after 6pm this week, will "magically" occur after 7pm next week all due to the magic of saving daylight! Even the daily temperature highs seem to be affected by daylight savings--as I looked this morning every day next week is expected to have highs in the 50's or even 60's. Of course, this is always subject to change.

Yesterday I drove to work with the sun in my eyes. I enjoyed the sun and the brightening dawn knowing that it will disappear again next week until about May.

Sunday will be the beginning of the springtime daylight extension and the revival of outdoor life. I have a lot of post winter clean-up work to do and I also look forward to sitting outside sipping wine and watching the evening come.

The dark days have passed.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Weather, Life, and Forecasts

The weather affects many facets of my life. The predicted snows of yesterday changed my plans for the day which created opportunities from the schedule change.

A number of small, annoying projects around the house were completed--or continued. Something which typically would not happen on a normal Wednesday.

Perhaps this same type of scenario played out many times in the region as thousands of other people realigned their normal work-day into a day off to relax and energize other areas of life.

Thank you weather forecasters for getting the storm so wrong!  I was lucky in that although I was expecting to struggle for hours with a snow shovel in my hands, I was spared the opportunity. And I had a day off to reflect and create as well.

I listened to the explanations last evening about why the storm did not materialize as the forecasters predicted--European models. needs for a new super computer, but in the end, for this area, I'm glad it played out the way it did.

I did not have to shovel mountains of wet, heavy snow from my driveway.
I was able to head out shopping to nearly deserted stores.
I worked on projects around the house.
I watched two movies with Chris and even enjoyed one of them.
I recreated, by not having a dozen preplanned things to fill my day.
And Makayla still got her shots--the only preplanned event that happened as planned!

Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans! - Allen Saunders

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow Event Fizzles

6PM after a Day of Snow
Despite the dire predictions, the inches of snow never arrived.

It definitely did not rival the blizzard of 1962 which produced 10 inches of wet snow in Baltimore.

The image is of my pool area at 6PM after a day of storm.

Lot's of wet and no snow.

I am not complaining--I at least got a day off from work.

And I saw the weather forecast for next week--60's on Monday!!!!!

Spring is on the near horizon. I may have a case of Spring Fever on Monday!  And the benefit is, I don't have to wait for the snow to melt before I enjoy the Springtime.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Still Waiting for Snow-quester

They say the snow is coming.
Waiting for the Snow Event


I see it on TV nearby, but here, we have rain and nothing significant.

I will continue to monitor, but so far, this is a yawner.

At least I am watching it from the comfort of my arm chair in my own house and on my own computer.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Waiting for the Storm

I'm sitting here, watching the local news which is all about the coming storm, wondering why it is that I am so fascinated with watching the television news report the very same thing that I can watch out of my window?

The storm even has a name: Snow-quester!

When I woke this morning the snow was only beginning to coat the grass and trees. Thankfully, I don't have to sojourn to work only to figure out later how to get home again. I remember the old days--long ago, at Griffiss AFB near Rome, NY. One day I drove the 10 miles to work in about 4 inches of snow only to be released about noon and then had to drive home in 10 inches of snow. It took over and hour, but I made it.

Ugh. I'm glad that sadistic kind of work environment has become kinder and gentler. But then, we were fighting the Cold War on a daily basis back then.

Left to my own devices, I would head off to work. It isn't that bad--yet! Maybe that is why the news fascinates me, the 5-10 inches of snow (according to WBAL TV at 6 AM) they are predicting will shut this area down, possibly for two days! The region is just not prepared to operate during heavy snow conditions.

I am conflicted about the area being paralyzed by snow. Philosophically, the region should be able to operate, but do I really want to pay the extra taxes to maintain the equipment and personnel to allow ensure operations when snow in this quantity is a once or twice a season event?

No I don't. There are enough other things upon which to waste my tax dollars.

Knowing that this weather was coming made me appreciate the exceptionally nice day yesterday even more. It was hard to believe that such a nice day was preceding the storm. The sky was clear, the sun shone, temperatures were in the high 40's. I saw many people celebrating by not wearing coats.

Yet today, the snow comes. A new day brings new challenges.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Two Scenarios -- No Winners, More Winter

With the arrival of March, I had thought the threat of snow and winter had essentially passed.

Turns out not.

They call it Winter Storm Saturn. I call it winter, ugh!  Winter is the season that starts too early and ends too late.

Will we get many inches of rain or six plus inches of snow during the course of the next two days? Inquiring minds want to know but there seem to be no absolutes.

In usual Maryland style, the weather is the central topic of discussion for most people. I'm not sure if it is the prospect of a day off or just an inbred dysfunctional love of bad weather.

I took the image at the right this weekend while in Central NY. Looking out the window was like looking at total desolation. White, gray, and cold.

It is coming, I can read the weather reports.

I was looking for the scenario where the storm misses us. It isn't there. At least I have a new roof and don't have to worry about the winter weather.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Musings - March 4, 2013

1. I expect McDonald's to be fast. That is why they call it fast food! I Waited over 10 minutes for coffee at the McDonald's in Whitney Point, NY, yesterday. Really.  Waiting for a cup of coffee and then it was terrible. 

2. I forgot how bright new fallen snow is even on an overcast day. Break out the sunglasses.

3. The new 10 cent word: sequestration. (BTW, did you notice the old "cent" symbol is no longer on the keyboard?)

4.  Does anyone know why gas prices have risen? It isn't even summertime yet.

5. I am amazed at how quickly time flies when I am researching on my computer at home. It doesn't seem to pass at the same rate when I am doing research at work!

6. Maryland is panicked--a storm is approaching. I am very happy to have a new roof. It doesn't seem to be a snowpocalypse repeat though.

7. There is nothing worse than being away on a trip and having a brake pad decide that it needs to be replaced. I got to spend my first couple hours back at home replacing brakes and rotors on Chris' car. Apparently the pad sensor was improperly set or got knocked off alignment. 

8. I have determined that with the exception of sporting events, there is nothing much worth watching on television. The era of reality TV is a failure for people searching for meaningful entertainment.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Snow in Central New York

Apparently it snowed all night. I woke this morning expecting to load the car and head south to milder temperatures only to find more snow and a delay.

I listened to the local weather forecast and heard one common theme: "chance of snow 30 percent." For the next four days! I am reminded why I live further south.

I actually heard someone exclaim that they were at the point where they did not appreciate the snow and cold anymore. I wholeheartedly concur. Waking up and hearing the current weather being reported as "20 degrees and light snow" is just not conducive to getting outside and being active.

Sadly, I did notice that temperatures were in the 40's this morning in Tampa. So the cold is fairly pervasive throughout the eastern part of the US.

Yesterday it snowed all day and Chris and I found ourselves along the west shore of Cayuga Lake. Chris wanted to take some pictures of geese on the lake and I took a picture of her coming across the road back to the car. The lake is in the background. It looks cold. Too cold.

Who would have thought that I would think that today's expected 42 degree high in Baltimore warm?

Where are the palm trees?

-- Bob Doan, Writing from Ithaca, NY

Saturday, March 2, 2013

From Warm to Cold

Leaving Maryland yesterday, the weather was cool, but better than it had been a week or so ago. Along the route we watched the temperature drop degree by degree. We left Maryland with temperatures in the 40's and arrived in Ithaca with the temperature at 27.

We had to take our winter coats out of the back of the car and wear them.

And it was snowing. I despise snow.

This morning the evidence was clear on the car--snow.

On the trip though, the weather was good, even though snow lightly fell from the sky during most of the trip. The sad part was hat this trip marked the end of Mom and Dad's two-month vacation. Even though all good things end, it is still sad when thy do. But we are left with the memories and the promise of future visits.

For now though, the task at hand is surviving the arctic weather of upstate New York.


-- Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Arrives

As the government wallows in the self-created sequester crisis, February has ended and March has arrived.

Pool opening day is a mere 58 days away. Hopefully surviving March will be a breeze despite the best efforts of Congress to crash the economy and send us all back into the dark ages of economic disaster.

Or not.

There remains time to fix the budget and the economy.

But it is March and while I find it hard to believe that 2013 is already one sixth complete, I am looking forward to the resumption of daylight savings time in a short 10 days followed by springtime shortly thereafter. That means that green will return as the color of the day. And maybe blue skies will become more the rule rather than the exception as March turns into April and then into May.

Next up--daffodils and crocus.

Bring it on.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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