Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Legends, Memories, and Life Well Lived

A month or so ago, I wrote in a blog titled Zillbilly Losing Battle to Cancer,  that the usher who had created a unique persona at Orioles games to entertain the fans, was afflicted with stage four lung cancer.

Charlie Zill, that man who served the fans as an usher at Orioles games for 17 years, died over the weekend as reported by the Baltimore Sun. I also received a personal note from a family member as a comment to my blog about Charlie to let me know the news.

I was honored to have witnessed Charlie's rendition of Zillbilly. If you remember, the Orioles suffered through some 14 losing seasons and so often, his antics during the seventh inning stretch were the only thing to enjoy during some of those long losses that mounted against the Orioles during those years.

I remember looking over to section 244 from wherever I was in the stadium to see Charlie bring Zillbilly to life. I always smiled at his enthusiasm and creativity.

I was fortunate to be at Charlie's last game last week when the Orioles honored him. I remembered that he had wanted to see one more game and I enjoyed the seventh inning during John Denver's Country Boy when he reprised Zillbilly for the last time. Many in the stadium did not fully understand the legend of the man being honored that evening--but I did. And I was happy for him to be able to attend one last Orioles game.

Charlie--thanks for the memories.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Musings - April 29, 2013

1. April is almost over and springtime still is not assured.

2. Death and taxes are the only things we are assured of. Too bad we cannot reduce taxes.

3. Weather is changeable. The best weather forecast I've ever found is to look out the window to see what's happening outside.

4. When it rains it pours.

5. On this day in 1429, Joan of Arc lead Orleans of France to victory over the English.

6. Sunny days allow for more fun than rainy weather.

7. Wine is the elixir of life. Drink and be merry.

8. Baseball, lacrosse, and afternoons enjoying family. What could be better?

9. Sundays spent with family. That is what it is about, right?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"No New Taxes!" -- The dream and the reality

I remember those words uttered by then President George Bush (the first) which came back to haunt him when he actually had to raise taxes.

What I don't understand is that cry had changed for of our governmental bodies. Now I am hearing at every level of government our elected officials crying for "Let's find new taxes!".

Truly, I have heard about special taxes for certain sizes of soda, on square footage of billboards, and even now a new tax on rain, yes a Rain Tax--to name just a few. In addition to new taxes, I am being confronted with increased taxes on gasoline and even internet purchases and nearly every other of category in which I am taxed. Maryland already has a wine tax which is 3 percent higher than the sales tax.

Everywhere I look--taxes are increasing. And there are taxes on taxes, too.

What isn't increasing? My income.

At some point taxes are going to outstrip the ability to pay them. And the problem is that new taxes are everywhere and on everything.

The only good thing about new and increasing taxes?

I can't think of any thing good about increased taxes except they may be tax deductible--but by then the damage is done.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, April 27, 2013

It Will Be Better--I Promise

Geraniums out my Window on the Back Deck
Some promises seem empty.

Everyone who reads my blog knows how much I look forward to Springtime and rebirth and the world coming alive after the dark days of Winter.

And now, effectively, I am a prisoner I my house and cannot enjoy outdoors activities.


Allergies! I am in the middle of the worst allergy attack of my life. I am so miserable that I don't even want to be around myself let alone other people having to listen to me sneeze and cough, and sniffle. Yuck! To all of you who have put up with me thus far--I'm sorry. You have my admiration for not sending me off away from you.

My allergist promised this season would be better. It's not, it's the the worst. I'm totally demoralized. I have been getting shots at least weekly since June of last year.

We are going to have a short conversation during my newly scheduled Monday appointment--I'm going to say it's not working. I am miserable. I need the good stuff--if there is any good stuff? Claritin, Benadryl, and some nose spray are just not getting the job done.


Maybe it will rain and cleanse the air of all of the bad stuff.

But I like the sunshine!

I'm so conflicted right now. Looking out of my window, I want to be outside and not worry aobut the consequences.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, April 26, 2013

Some of My Friends are Birds

I have to chuckle each time I see the Orioles Bird in some location not at the stadium. The other night, it was outside my favorite pre-game watering hole, Pickles, that I ran across my new best friend.

The Orioles Bird always seems to be smiling. When he is waving the Orioles flag at the games after a win, he seems to be more than happy--almost jubilant.

But he never speaks.

He wears his emotion on his sleeve.

His expressions are in his actions.

He is my favorite team mascot, well maybe I appreciate the Syracuse Orange a bit more. Nope--it is really the bird.

I enjoy watching him at the games as he incites the crowds to cheer and motivate the Orioles.

Some birds are just good, but

the Orioles Bird is the best!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, April 25, 2013

As the Weeping Cherry Blooms

April 10, 2013 - The Buds Begin to Open

This springtime I documented the progression of Spring through the blossoming of the Weeping Cherry tree in my yard.

April 11, 2013 - Getting Fuller
As I reviewed the images, taken over a 12 day period, I noticed how not only did the blooms open on the tree, but how the leaves on the trees behind the Weeping Cherry began to fill in.

I guess the four images represent the 13 days of Weeping Cherry--or something corny like that.
April 13, 2013 - Full Bloom
It is fascinating to see the changes. I also noted how the lawn greened up during that two week period as well.

Springtime and rebirth are good for the soul. It reminds me that even though everything seems to be dead, life is contained within. 

The resurgence of the blooms and the green are a sign that the dark season is over.

I just wish the temperatures would start to climb, although yesterday it hit 77 degrees.

April 23, 2013 - Still Blooming but Fading Fast
Although the blossoms are fading fast, the tree is still a marvel to look at and admire. Why? Because I really have nothing to do with its beauty. God did that.

I just get to enjoy and appreciate it. 

Every day now for two weeks. And during the summer as I mow around the tree the image of its springtime beauty remains clear--until next year's image replaces it. Best yet, my Dad and Mom were here this year to enjoy the blossoming with me--and that is a memory I will never forget.

Maybe. despite Winter's best efforts Spring is really here.

What is next?

I only need to look and be ready to enjoy.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Springtime Fizzles

It has been unseasonably cold the past couple weeks. Spring's arrival was supposed to shake the world free from the grasp of Winter. It has not been a clean break. Blizzards and mounting snows in the mid section of the country continue on what seems like an almost daily basis. Cold temperatures continue to rock the East. Even freezing temperatures continue in my personal mecca of Florida.

I have attending baseball games wearing winter coats trying to stave off frostbite and it has been too cold to even drink beer. I think the vendors would do better offering hot chocolate and coffee as the walk through the crowd.

Summertime is on deck. Literally. The geraniums have been planted in the planers, the pool is calling to me that it is time to be open. I mowed the lawn for the first time last weekend. This is the first year I that I can recall not mowing at least once during March and then continuing weekly mowings through April. The pool deck area has been prepared for relaxation--if only the temperatures would cooperate.

I hear even the cicadas are on deck waiting for warmer weather to emerge. Although, the cold has kept the mosquitos in check--and that is a good thing.

So, in my estimation, Springtime has fizzled. I got excited yesterday morning when the pre-dawn temperature was 45 degrees. It was ten degrees warmer than the previous two days and 25 degrees colder than it should be, in my mind. This morning, however, ground was lost as the predawn temperature was only 41 degrees.

I am waiting for the warm-up to begin so that outdoor activities can get into full swing. Today's high is expected to be 75 degrees.


Still waiting.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Talking it Out

I had a talk with Makayla, my dog, last evening.

The house was quiet and I unloaded some of the cares of my day onto her. Why? Because she just loves being near me and I love looking into her big, brown eyes and seeing the trust and respect she has for me.

Confession is good for the soul. She never judges me--she just looks at me with anticipation and at just the right time, she licked my nose and made me laugh.

Of course the conversation was pretty one-sided. But, some conversations are meant to be one-sided. One party needs to talk and the other's job is to listen. She is a pretty good listener. Sometimes she even comes when I call for her.

Did I solve the great mysteries of the universe? No. Did I tease out some things which have been nagging at me? Yes.

Did she have to say a word?


That's why dogs are man's best friend, they are short on words, long on comfort, and they are still there even after the cats have moved on to find a warmer spot in the bed.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Musings - April 22, 2013

1. What a week. Form the Boston Marathon bombings to West, Texas fertilizer plant explain and difficult weather in the mid-west.

2. Chris and I have done a lot of plantings in the gardens. I hope we continue to dodge the freezing temperatures--even by a couple of degrees.

3. Sunday's are for family--and yesterday was especially a family day. Thanks to everyone.

4. I am still waiting for the summertime temperatures. It is very chilly. I have slipped pool opening day by a week to the first weekend in May as a result of the low temperatures.

5. Candles, dinner, a nice glass of wine coupled with good conversation as evening falls. What could be better?

6. Night falls quiet after a busy day. Monday calls to start another week. Oh, how I long for Saturday again.

7. Why do weeks always seem busier on Monday morning than they do on Friday afternoon?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Baseball the Purest Form of Society

Yesterday reminded me of how baseball should can be representative of a perfect society. It had been many years since I coached youth baseball and T-ball, specifically, is where the emphasis is on developing skills, learning the game, and celebrating success--for both teams.

On a cold Saturday morning, the Tigers collected with hundreds of other children and adults to march through the neighborhood and open the springs sports season. During the parade I saw a lot of resemblance between our team and the Bad News Bears. It was funny (frustrating?) to watch 4-6 year olds try to carry a large banner along the parade route and stay in line and together. But we got them all to the parade's end without incident. Later, during the early evening was the opening day game for the Tigers.

The game was exciting and perfect because everyone cheered every good play--on both sides. The game was focused on helping the kids learn the game and have fun. I thought it was especially great when the other team made a good out at first--the only one of the day, and everyone cheered. It was a good play.

The only thing that would have made the game more perfect is if Jax could have been there rather than off to Texas for his uncle's wedding. But, I 'm sure he had a lot more fun in Texas--where everything is bigger.

In this iteration of T'Ball we do not keep score and I was asked by one of our players after the game-- "Who won?" I replied to him, "everyone did." It took his six-year mind only a few seconds to say: "So it was a tie?" Which made him happy.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Opening Day #3 - The Excitement Continues

Yes, it is opening day, again. April, it seems, is full of new beginnings and I am about to celebrate my third opening day of the young baseball season today.



My first was when the Orioles opened the MLB season on April 2nd in Tampa.

My second was April 5th, when the Orioles opened the season at home in Orioles Park at Camden Yards.

My third is today, when the GORC Tigers, the T-ball Team for which I am an assistant coach open their season this afternoon. The day will be full of parades and fun and I even get to imitate the coach since he is out of town. I wonder if I can keep 10 rambunctious 4-6 year olds focused upon baseball for an hour? Time will tell.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Frustrating NFL--let it go!

It is still the first month of the major league baseball season and football will not go away. Even before the pennant races begin to take shape, I have to hear about the upcoming football season.

Do I really care, at this point, whether the Raven are the first Super Bowl winners to start the season on the road? No. It will be there when we get there. Football is not an everyday sport--it is an 18 week sprint that becomes all consuming. The schedule is out! There is a sense of drama for the thrill seekers in life.

If baseball players made the same money per game that league minimum rookie football players make, then the lowest paid baseball player would make $3.78 million! That is based upon the NFL leaguer rookie minimum of $420,000.

All this and football will not go away. Let baseball hold center stage fro a bit to enjoy some of the spotlight. I can actually afford to go to a few baseball games. One football game would cost more to attend than my season tickets to the Orioles!

I like football--but baseball is an everyday sport. Once a baseball game is over we spend a few hours analyzing it and then it is on to the next game. Football seemingly spends a week going over the game just played and then at the last minute turning attention to the game ahead.

There is a reason that Baseball is America's pastime!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fly Away Day

I love that I am an early riser and usually get to greet the morning before the dawn. I love watching the world wake.

There are advantages to being an early riser and among them is that when family has an early morning flight to some exotic destination, like Texas, I get asked to shuttle them to the airport. I love driving in the early morning, before the traffic becomes crazy. And we are lucky in that we all live fairly close to the airport--so it is only a 15 or so minute drive.

So thins morning, I got to see some of my family and give them a send off in front of the terminal. Part of me always wished that I were flying with them to enjoy the adventure--but I know that someone has to stay behind.

And even after driving to retrieve them, and to the airport--now I am home for a moment, before beginning the crazed activities that have become my daily routine.

And they--are preparing to fly off on adventure along with my thoughts and prayers for a safe and fun trip.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Along the Roadside

Sometimes, as I am driving along almost mindlessly controlling the car and dreaming about things that I want to do or reflecting upon things I should have done, I get shocked back to reality about the circle of life.

No, it wasn't a particularly gruesome accident, like the one I passed last night just a mile from home in the middle of US 1.

I like birds--most of them anyway. Some of them are appointed to do jobs in nature that I would rather not think about. That is the scene I happened upon while rounding a clover leaf coming off a busy highway. Two, large, they are all large it seems, turkey vultures were alongside the off ramp, on the blind part of the curve, feasting upon the remains of some poor creature that was not able to safely cross the road.

It is a part of nature. Something needs to be there to clean up the remains of the unlucky. But to see the birds so close to the car--and they were fairly uncaring about the traffic as they tended to their job, was a sight that I don't usually witness. I see them soaring on the breeze or hanging out in a tree, but rarely if ever see them doing their jobs.

Can I fault them for doing what they were created to do? No. At least they know their jobs and they do them. They have a purpose--and they do it. Their survival depends upon being the clean-up crew of nature. Perhaps, I imagine, they even embrace their jobs.

If only people were so lucky to know their purpose and embrace their calling, no matter how it might appear to others.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

After Tax Day Blues

Thankfully, it is over for another year. The season of taxes has come and passed. I did not have to file for an extension, although I know some people who did.

I don't like paying taxes--although as my civic duty I recognize that I must pay taxes and settle up with the governments by every April 15th.

But I am always struck by the inequity of taxes and tax season. I woke this morning and read an article published in the NY Times titled A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent. I actually do not know anyone who is not in the 99 percent.

After reflecting upon the tax season I realized that tax refunds are a way that the governments (in this case the U.S. and Maryland) make paying taxes seem less painful, by collecting too much and then giving it back to the taxpayer like some great gift at the end of the tax year.

The real problem with our tax system is that corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes. According to the article, General Electric has become the symbol for multinational corporations that have their headquarters in the United States but pay almost no taxes — its effective corporate-tax rate averaged less than 2 percent from 2002 to 2012.  Think about it, if a company earning billions of dollars per year paid its fair share of taxes then personal income taxes might be reduced for all of us.

The article continues to postulate that if a majority of the people believe that the tax system is unfair, then our sense of national solidarity and cohesion will be harmed. It also postulates:

We could have a tax system that encourages good things like hard work and thrift and discourages bad things, like rent-seeking, gambling, financial speculation and pollution. Such a tax system could raise far more money than the current one — we wouldn’t have to go through all the wrangling we’ve been going through with sequestration, fiscal cliffs and threats to end Medicare and Social Security as we know it. We would be in sound fiscal position, for at least the next quarter-century.

I think I'd like to give it a try. Life during a sequestered government is bad and only getting worse.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Musings - April 15, 2013

1. It is tax day. I finally got mine done! Yay. Nothing like waiting until almost the last minute. I'll try to do better next year.

2. What a fabulous weekend. Although I didn't travel anywhere, a lot of productive work was done around the house and in the gardens.

3. It seems that every springtime I appreciate all over again how the green almost overnight fills in the bare spaces on the trees.

4. Sitting on the deck, sipping wine, talking to Chris and Mom and Dad as evening falls with a
roaring fire in the fire pit. What could be better?

5. Here is an interesting fact: on this date in 1964 the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel opened.

6. Lacrosse is becoming a very popular sport in our family. Not only does Ethan play, but my nephew Jake plays as well. I may need to buy a stick and learn the rules.

7. It is mid-April already and springtime is just getting started. I am going to need to pack a lot into the next six months.

8. Today is the 101st anniversary of the wreck of the Titanic.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, April 14, 2013

After the Party is Over

Yesterday marked the end of the family birthday season which began during late-September. We celebrate 11 birthdays during the seven month run--not to mention many more extended family and friend birthdays.

Tail end charlie, as we refer to him, is Ethan. We try to make his season ending birthday special and yesterday was no exception.

The day began on the ball fields--I was being an assistant coach for Jax's t-ball team, while Ethan was off to a lacrosse game. I was able to watch the second half of E's lacrosse and was very impressed. His team was playing on the main stadium field at Cardinal Spaulding--a long was from the back dirt lots of last year. Sadly, his team squandered a four goal lead and wound up scoring late to secure a tie. But he played well getting a few good stick checks and catching a ball on an attack. He is actually the player in the center, in green, mostly shadowed by the player in white. The sun was washing out my viewfinder so I didn't get a great shot.

Then, after a short break, the party convened--also wrapped around sports. The theme was Washington Redskins football and the family played a football game in which the birthday boy scored the winning touchdown during overtime to secure the victory.

The party has lots of food and munchies and was punctuated at the end with the Orioles defeating the Yankees!

It was a great sports and party day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dreaming Saturday

I ran across this image--and it just made me stop.

Despite the weather being so much better lately, there is something about palm trees, beaches, and a clear moonlit sky that just appeals to the beach bum in me.

I wish that I had taken this image--not so much because it is a great image, but rather because I would have liked to be on that beach at that time and I am sure I would have a great memory or a great story to go with it.

As it is, though, I have a great story about this image based totally upon my imagination of how it would be, if . . .

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, April 12, 2013

And it is Back to Friday

Weeping Cherry on April 11, 2013
My life continues to scroll through the cycle of the week.

It is hard to believe that last Friday I was attending the Orioles home opening day to close out a week away from work--and this Friday I am back to the grind again of turning over the days to seemingly get to the weekend.

Somewhere in there I forgot to get my allergy shot. Not a good move considering that Spring has arrived in force.

I decided to document the springtime arrival in the blossoms on my weeping cherry tree. Even though my Dad took a better image during the day, in the sunlight, I wanted one taken about the same time of the day from the same location. It will remind me that even though, sometimes, each day seems to be a dreary repeat of the one before that there are differences that need to be identified and appreciated.

During the past week, I have been incredibly busy with family and baseball, and shopping--but at least last evening I was able to settle up with the taxman. While I was on the losing end again despite making significant changes last year, I feel a bit better because the difference was smaller. I was astounded, though, that while my income was less--my taxes were more. I don't like that direction too much. My assessment is that Maryland is becoming too expensive a place to live given the weather and service provided.

But, now it is Friday and the weekend is upon me. Busy--but more "me" time, hopefully.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Flowery Explosion

Weeping Cherry Tree, April 10, 2013
Everywhere it seems, springtime flowers are bursting forth as if they had been at the ready line waiting for the command to bloom. Even the weeping cherry tree in my yard has gone from nothing to bloom in less than four or so days. While not in full bloom, peak as they call it, the blossoms are clearly visible as the tree dons its springtime colors for our enjoyment.

I looked at pictures of the tree on April 8 2012 and noted that it was in full and even past peak bloom.

Soon, I expect the wooded area around my house to break into full leaf and we will become, at least for the spring and summer, a secluded lot in the middle of suburbia.

It is astounding to see the world spring to life in color and blossom. The trees and bushes in bloom look like vanilla ice cream cones along the side of the roadway.

I have been enjoying my rides to and from work and the other places I happen to visit just because each new turn brings more of the flowery explosion into view.

I enjoy stopping, even if only for a moment, just to take it all in and etch the beauty into my mind.

You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry. Don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. -- Walter Hagen
-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Enjoying the Falling of Night

Sitting outside last evening after dinner was a pleasure. It was the warmest day of the year, so far, and I watched the evening fall, heard the peepers singing, saw the bats begin their acrobatics, and enjoyed the stars popping out in the sky. I was attired in a t-shirt and shorts for the first time of the year enjoying the still near 80 degree temperatures.

I had missed these evenings during the cold and dark days of autumn and winter.

A nice glass of wine was the exclamation point on the evening as the after dinner discussion continued around the table--while the darkness continued to fall, but I was not cold.

It almost seems as if the region has skipped over springtime and gone straight into summer. I'm not complaining, but it is almost as if I can see the blossoms bursting as I sit in the chair on the deck.

The pools remains shuttered, but I am beginning to plot its return to daily operation. The grass has greened up and the bleeding hearts are beginning to grow in the gardens.

I can smell the Spring. I can hear the Spring.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Stars and Peepers

Imagine, for a moment, walking in 70 degree temperatures under a clear sky full of stars with a chorus of peepers filling the springtime air.

That was last evening. Perhaps the first best evening of the year.

Springtime is here and I can almost see the flowers blossoming. The trees are full of flowers after only a couple of days without freezing temperatures. It is awesome how quickly it happens. It was a pleasure to walk outside this evening, after a long 11 hour day, and be greeted by warm breezes rather than the cold slap of just a week ago. I even drove Cat in expectation of riding home with the top down and my hair (what's left of it) flapping with the breeze.

And I did.

Except for the glass of dark red Fess Parker wine waiting for me when I got home, it was the best part of the first day back after a week off.

How I wish every day could end this way.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Musings--April 8, 2013

1. Beautiful days are upon us. I'm seeing forecasted temperatures in the 70's.
Orioles Park at Camden Yards, April 7, 2013
Me, Mom, and Dad

2. Afternoon baseball on a sunny day with my parents and wife. What could be better? Winning.

3. I am amazed how quickly our news media drops stories.

4. The weekend was a wasteland for my sports teams. The Orioles lost two and Syracuse was eliminated from the NCAA tournament after making the final four.

5. Spring Break is over. Ugh! I have to go back to work and face the world again.

6. According to my tax return, my income declined this past year but my taxes, health insurance, and cost of living increased. What is wrong with this picture?

7. I notice that gas prices are falling exactly at the same time that Maryland is planning to raise the gas tax. What a nice way to say thank-you to all of the citizens who have been suffering through rough economic times.

8. Full airline flights and small seats make passengers grumpy--so a study has found. Really? Anyone who flies knows that is true.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Remember the Thresher

One of those sad memorials happened the other day--a remembrance for the 129 crew members of the USS Thresher (SSN-593) which sank during diving trials east of Cape Cod. It was 50 years ago on April 10, 1963, that the USS Thresher sank, taking the lives of all aboard. The crew is now on eternal patrol. I urge you to check out the links to learn more about the tragedy.

It was the Cold War. We knew the Soviets (note: not Russians) were hanging out just off the coast ready to obliterate the United States. Times were tense.

The Cuban Missile Crisis had been resolved only about six months earlier.

I would like to write about how times have changed and peace has blossomed everywhere, but I know that it is not true. During the 60's we had one great enemy. We knew who they were, where they lives, and how they fought. Today, the world has devolved into chaos where the enemy of peace-loving people is right around the next corner or behind the tree ahead.

In these times of sequestration, reducing budgets, increased threat it is important to remember these heroes from 50 years ago who gave their lives to secure peace for the democratic way of life.

From the memorial service:

Vice Adm. Michael J. Connor, the commander of the submarine force, said the Thresher was built with revolutionary capabilities to prevent the Soviet submarines that were operating off the coast of the United States from “doing their deadly mission.” 
“The Thresher helped change the world because she, and ships like her, and the descendents of her, made the Soviet Union realize they could never prevail,” he said. 
For the Thresher families, Connor said, “I know that is probably a small consolation.” But, he said, the sacrifice made by the crew and the civilian technicians on board “will be carried forward by the entire submarine force as we do the nation’s business and the Navy’s business around the world, under the sea.”
The doing the nation's business never stops for the men and women of the armed forces and the Department of Defense. No matter where, no matter when!

 -- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Day at the Ball Park

Orioles opening day was a huge success. The crowds for the pre-game festivities were crushing. We couldn't even get into Pickles--the wait to get in was longer than we had until game time.

We found a street party a few blocks away to celebrate before the game. When it was time we entered the ball park for the first time this year. The first time in the park every year is almost like coming home after being away for a long time. The last time I left, the Orioles had just defeated the hated team from up north in the Divisional Playoffs. That was during early October. It is now six months later and we are ready for another great ride.

The day could not have been more perfect. After a week of depressing weather forecasts for game time, the weather broke clear, cool, and magnificent. It was a glorious spring day in Baltimore when the birds return to their roost to hold court for the AL East.

Even in Camden Yards the crowds were crushing. The lines at the restrooms were almost non-stop and the lines for food and drink were even longer. All of Birdland, it seemed, showed up to celebrate the day and the team.

And the most impressive part of the day was the opening pitch. There wasn't one. The team chose to commemorate the late Earl Weaver with a silent opening pitch. Total class.

Opening Day 2013 Orioles Park at Camden Yards
The most exciting part of the day? Chris Davis' Grand Slam. How can you ever beat a Grand Slam to win the game?

BUCK-le Up!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Break STAY-cation

With the temperatures in the 20's to start the day most mornings this week and highs barely into the 50's some days and high 40's for others, my outdoors activities have been a bit limited. But today, the addition of some morning rain has helped the temperatures remain above freezing for the first time this week and looking at the forecast, I see, for the first time this year, a seven day period with no temperatures in below freezing and the first indication of 70's (Wednesday).

Because I did not head off to the land of warmer temperatures known as Florida, I did get a lot of projects done around the house to get ready for the warmer temperatures which are in the forecast. Yesterday, I even braved the cold and did a good deal of gardening including planting some grasses, two trees, and finishing the garden clean-up. Next up is the mulch! I'm thinking three yards this year.

It is good to take time off to do those projects for which there never seems to be enough time. Some nagging indoor projects were completed as well--for instance a broken shelf in one cabinet was repaired, the rope lights displaced by the winter storms were reattached,

I also assisted as a coach during Jax's first T-Ball practice. It was cold! Football weather not suitable for baseball, but the kids stuck it out like champs. Hopefully Saturday's practice is warmer and more Baseball-like.

Today, however, marks the end of the STAY-cation work and the beginning of the play portion. It is the home opener for the Orioles and that will consume most of my Friday. I hope to be in the crowd in the image by early afternoon. After a successful opening series, the Orioles return to Baltimore and I look forward to the greeting that they will receive.

Do I miss the thought of snorkeling or diving in Florida? Yes. But, that will wait for summer. Did I get everything done off my project list? No. I never rented either the chipper or log splitter--it was just too cold and the ground was too soft to have my truck and equipment driving around on it. More to do during the next couple of weeks.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, April 4, 2013

When the Field of Dreams becomes a Nightmare

New seasons are filled with hope of unqualified success. Starting off with a win only serves to heighten the expectations for the future. But with 162 games in the season, a loss is bound to happen in there somewhere. Like last evening.

A hotly contested game last evening in Tampa saw the Orioles take an early 4-0 lead which they relinquished during the 6th inning, subsequently falling behind by two runs entering the eighth inning.  After tying the game in the top of the ninth, a walk-off home run by the home team ended the contest.

What when wrong? Two things:

The bull pen had an uncharacteristic meltdown by allowing six runs. None of the relievers did their jobs. Each of the relievers had a job to do and they were not up to the task last evening.

I also fault the "shift" employed against left handed batters during the seventh inning. It seems Tampa's left handed batters are more capable of beating the shift than are the Orioles big guns.

What is the shift? It is a defensive posture where a portion of the field is left uncontested to move a defensive player into another area where a particular batter overwhelmingly hits the ball. In the case of the Orioles last evening, the third baseman moved to right short field in between the first and second baseman, leaving the area down the third base line uncontested.

During the decisive seventh inning, two Tampa lefties in a row beat the shift for singles and were on base when a home run scored them allowing the Rays to take a two run lead.

What went right?

The team battled back. After the initial three runs were scored via home run, the other four runs were scores with timely hitting in each of the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. Still, 4 for 11 with runners in scoring position is a bit low.

So after two games, the Orioles are 1-1. Let's see how resilient this team is.

The bottom line is grab the handle bar and BUCKle UP! The season is underway.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Picking Up Where They Left Off

My blog gets a little boring at this time of the year for people who are not Orioles fans. I'm not sorry, it is just a fact.
Wieters rounding Third after and Opening Day Two-run Homer

I wandered off to a local watering hole yesterday afternoon to watch the first Orioles game of the season. The excitement of the Spring Training and the unsatisfying loss to the team from up north to end the 2012 playoff run were etched in every Orioles fan's mind and we wonder and hope that, no--we are convinced, this season will be even better than the magical 2012 season when Baltimore became the king of baseball towns again.

And we were rewarded during the first inning with a double from team leader center fielder Adam Jones followed by two run shot off the bat of all star catcher Matt Wieters. And the season was on its way!

Scoring in the 7th on an Adam Jones Double
The opening day game in Tampa had it all. Homers, great plays in the field, and even coming from behind after the Orioles has surrendered their lead and were behind 3-2 at the end of 6 innings. A five run 7th, ignited by two teal leaders who finished the season on the disabled list, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, put the exclamation point on why the Orioles did not need to make a flashy and expensive move to acquire outside help to cement the lineup.

Another perfect ending from the bullpen, including a save for Jim Johnson last year's league leading closer,  and it was over with a win!

Was it perfect? No. In Orioles fashion they left too many runners on base at the end of innings, they failed to score any runs after loading the bases with one out during, and the designated hitter, didn't.

The end result though was:

One down and 161 to go.

BUCKle Up!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Orioles Opening Day

Although they are on the road in Tampa, it is opening day for the resurgent Orioles who are expected to be a force to be reckoned with in baseball this year.

I am excited, my favorite player, Brian Roberts,  will be in the starting line up--although batting ninth he will be playing second base. I have to believe that the Orioles have one of the best infields in all of baseball. They also have three gold glove winners in the outfield.

It is time to rock the league. I am tired of hearing all about the teams from north of here (who will remain nameless) and their woes or successes during the off season.

I still remember the sound of the assembled masses on during the last home playoff game last season echoing off the buildings as the O's defeated the hated team from the north to even the playoff series.

I long for the excitement and enthusiasm to return. Although the pundits are projecting the O's to finish second in the division and earn one of the Wild Card sport, I am believing, as I do every Spring, that I am watching the next World Series Champion when they take the field.

It is time. Time for Boog's (a Baltimore thing), the national anthem, and the words that get the blood moving through my veins.


-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Musings - April 1, 2013 Addendum

8. Oops!  I forgot. It is baseball season. Let the good times roll.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday Musings - April 1, 2013

1. Yup, it is that day. April Fools Day.

2. I made an interesting connection in the Easter Story yesterday in church. Jesus was placed in a tomb and Pilate had the tomb sealed and guarded. The seal on the tomb was only to be broken on the order of Pilate. I had to giggle at the image of the angel breaking the seal, rolling the stone away and then sitting on the stone--probably on Pilate's official seal. Matthew 28:2 Suddenly there was a severe earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. (NET Bible)

3. I have been wrestling with myself over this image, but it is so good, I just couldn't resist. I probably should have. I found it on Facebook. I love B-52's--there is nothing like the raw power of eight jet engines to make your day. When I was stationed a based with B-52's I used to remark that I loved the smell of jet fuel in the morning.

4. The Final Four is set--and Syracuse is still in the mix.

5. The 135th Annual Easter Egg Roll continues on the White House lawn today.

6. 152 eggs were hidden for our annual family Easter Egg Hunt. Held in misty and wet conditions the winner was . . . everyone who participated!

7. The clear skies and sun surprised me this morning. It was a nice surprise.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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