Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Musings - September 30, 2013

1. Today is the last day of the government's fiscal year. There may not be a tomorrow as the new year may begin in the middle of a budgetary impasse.

2. Birthdays, thankfully, only happen once per year.

3. It takes a village to complete a household move in a weekend. P and T's move is complete and now they can begin living in their own home--congrats to them.

4. Watching three deer eat our flowers in the middle of the night and deciding not to do anything about it left me wondering how effective I would have been trying to save the mums anyway?

5. The regular baseball season ended yesterday. The Orioles did not make the playoffs--but at least it was a winning season and they were in the race until the last week AND took the season series from the Boston Red Sox and the unnamed team from up north. Yes, I'm disappointed with the outcome, I had hopes for much more.

6. I wonder how much money is being spent planning for a government shutdown? Shouldn't we spend money on important things and not planning for the failure of our legislative system?

7. What happened to September? It is gone! Did anything memorable happen?

8. I didn't know that my birthday is on Johnny Appleseed Day! He was born on my birthday in 1774!

9. Avoid the redesigned A320 airline seats--they are small, too small.

10. What am I supposed to do with two World Series tickets to a game that will never be played?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Birthday Present

Riordin with the Polar Express
The first present of my birthday was delivered yesterday amid the chaos of moving Patrick and Tina into their new house. Well, OK technically it wasn't the first present of my birthday, but it was one of those "take me back to my childhood and to shut the world out and play with it all day" presents. 

I have wanted a Polar Express train to circle under our Christmas Tree for many years. I used to have a huge train collection when I was much younger. The Polar Express is special because I have been reading the story to the family on Christmas Eve for many years--like decades.

It seems that Patrick and Tina remembered that I almost bought a Polar Express train last year during the Christmas Season when they are about $300. Through the magic of eBay and Craigslist, they found it during the off season presented it to me yesterday as a  birthday gift. 

And it works, too!

The hardest part is going to be taking it apart--maybe I won't. Maybe I'll just put is in the office until Christmas!

At least for a while. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Autumn Breeze

Autumn Breeze

The cool autumn breeze rushed in the through the open window 
Caressing my face as I slept warm in my bed snuggled deep under my covers.
Summer had passed the baton while the night deepened
The warm air turning cold to grace the leaves and hasten their change
It's arrival not unexpected was just undesired as the joys of summer
Slipped into the memories of places visited like waves crashing on the beach.
I woke to the coolness, startled by its refreshing kiss
Wishing for the sultry breezes which had previously graced my slumber.
I piles the covers high on top of the spot where I strove to sleep 
Preserving my warmth from the breeze which would snatch it away. 
I could feel the summer pass, like a good friend waving goodbye before 
Entering the TSA checkpoint to board a flight headed for some exotic location.
I felt alone and abandoned by the passing season, autumn had arrived and
even the constellations in the sky affirmed the inevitable change
At my feet, even my dog nestled further into the rapidly growing pile of  bedclothes
Seeking to retain her warm nest and catch a few more precious minutes of sleep.
Although still dark outside, the dawn was beginning to grace the eastern horizon
With its brilliant hues of red and orange as if announcing the season's change
Another season in an endless string of seasons had arrived with its challenges
It was time to face the next chapter of the year once I decided to wake
For now, my eyes are heavy and I will return to sleep If only for a few hours.
There is time to find autumn’s secrets, later, before the winter arrives.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Boog's, Baseball, and Beer

Orioles Park at Camden Yards
September 26, 2013
I love Boog's barbecue, baseball, and beer. Last evening I made my last sojourn of the 2013 baseball season to Orioles Park at Camden Yards. It was a great evening, but there was a tinge of sadness in it. The finality of a baseball season that began with so much hope and is going to end with the Orioles just a few games short of qualifying for a post-season playoff spot has set in.

Chris snapped the awesome panorama of me in my seat for the game as a memento.  I was imagining last season as the Orioles closed in on their first playoff spot in 15 years and how the loud the crowds were then--this year, the finality of the the imminent end of the season made both the crowd and the team seem listless as they played through the innings in an eventual 3-2 Orioles victory. There wasn't much for either team to play for, it seemed. The Orioles already had wrapped up their second consecutive winning season and are playing to stay ahead of the team from up north which shall remain nameless.

Last night I enjoyed eating Boog's barbecue for the last time this season. Boog Powell was a great Orioles player from the past and I have had the honor of meeting him a number of times outside his barbecue place in the stadium. I watched some great baseball--OK, not so great, at times with all of the late season call-ups it looked like a spring training game complete with two errors. And, I paid way too much for a beer! Stadium prices!

I stood for a few moments after the game absorbing the atmosphere. I am already preparing for next season. A trip to Sarasota for Spring Training and another playoff run which will culminate in me being able to actually attend a World Series game in Baltimore. But, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. There are three games left before the Orioles' season is officially in the books. 

Let's Go O's!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Out the Hotel Window - Denver, CO, Late September 2013

Looking towards DIA on September 23, 20013
A return trip to Denver resulted in a different view on out my hotel window on two separate days. 

The first view is of the evening and the setting sun behind me in the west, hence, I am facing east towards the spired of Denver International Airport (DIA). 

It is a stunning scene in its starkness.
Dawn over DIA on September 25, 2013

The second view is the sunrise, with the rays of the sun gracing the clouds. I angled the shot a bit different to capture the clouds but DIA remains hidden there on the horizon.

I enjoy watching the changing day and knowing that I when I head out, I will experience life on the other side of the hotel window no matter the time.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My favorite caution sign

I saw this sign on the access road to Pearmund Cellars in Virginia. I thought it was funny and too true. 

 I need one of my own for my driveway on Friday nights after my friends have been partying.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

The Colors of Autumn

I was struck by this scene yesterday morning as I walked across the hotel parking lot to my car. Autumn had arrived and with it the green colors of summertime have already begun to change to gold. 

I had seen this field of sunflowers on previous trips and I was struck by the green foliage and the large flower heads of gold chasing the sun as it traversed the sky. 

Now, however, the greens were already fading into brown and the scene was becoming monochromatic. The mountains provided a stunning backdrop set against the blue sky--but the scene was still mostly yellow and gold.

Perhaps the colors were accentuated just a bit by the golden hues of the rising sun, but I think that it only served to highlight the scene.

On previous trips, I have had this view out my hotel window and been able to enjoy the openness, but on this trip my window faced a different direction with a different view of the just as stunning sunrise.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, Co

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sunrise to Sunset

With the available daylight down to less that 12 hours per day (from sunrise to sunset now counting twilight) it is fun to see the different sights along the path of the day. 

Yesterday, I saw sunrise over the Baltimore Washington International Airport, or BWI as we affectionately call it. It was pretty looking out of the terminal while walking to my gate for my flight. The dawn was breaking over the field and it made me stop for a few moments. The field was already alive with activity as planes were arriving and departing. People and equipment were everywhere in the predawn light going about their business on the first full day of autumn.

And then, later in the day, I was walking into my hotel and I spied a small rabbit--totally terrified, less than six feet from me. It did the usual rabbit thing--it froze. The rabbit sat there, terrified, while I got my phone out and snapped his image.

I didn't snap an image of the sunset--although I probably should have. But, then, I really didn't get to enjoy it.

Another travel day filled with transient memories captured digitally.

-- Bob Doan, writing from ?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Musings - September 23, 2013

1. Autumn has officially arrived, even though it has been around for weeks already it seems.

2. I am feeling the hope of baseball season slip away as the Orioles continue to lose critical games. It may all be over except for the math.

3. What do you do about a driver in another car driving with no lights on at night? Scary!

4. Birthday season is in full swing with the arrival of Autumn!

5. Why does the NFL start football games involving east coast teams 8:30 PM? Who watches the end of these games anyway? The only time I see the end of those games is when I'm traveling in a different time zone.

6. Rain, when needed is a wonderful thing. Rain in excess is a catastrophe, like the rains in Colorado right now.

7. Why can't we as a society understand that some people will always be operating outside the established norms?

8. Some people like the cool autumn days. I long for the warm days of summer and the smells of the fields baking in the sun.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Season of the Pumpkin

Autumn begins today at 4:44 PM EDT (8:44 GMT) and with its arrival, summer departs leaving only its memory behind.

The season of the pumpkin has already arrived. Yes--called Autumn, or Fall by many people, in my house it is actually the season of the pumpkin. I mean, think about it--pumpkins are everywhere. Even in front of my fireplace (or should I write, hearth?).

Pumpkin Muffins Straight from the Oven
Before long, pumpkins, real and artificial, will be everywhere. I will be strolling through cornfield mazes with grandsons, buying pumpkins, eating pumpkin pie, and making jack-o-lanterns. Just this morning Chris made pumpkin muffins for breakfast to celebrate the first day of autumn.

We celebrated the last night of summer by heading out into Baltimore for some evening enjoyment. And it was awesome. Even with the much needed rain complicating the traffic patterns, we rang in the autumn and the family the birthday season which sees a continuous stream of birthdays from now until mid-April.

After yesterday's rain the morning has dawned bright and crisp. Autumn is definitely in the air and swimming in the pool had become a memory of the summer passed. 

The season of the pumpkin has arrived and the season of the surf and sun has departed.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Here Come the Rains

Rainstorm over Stuart, FL
Sitting here this morning listening to the weather report, I was encouraged about the prospect of rain before the end of the day. Unlike some areas north of us, we have been in drought conditions since early August and things are getting really dry.

We need rain--even if it is going to fall on the weekend. I remember the daily afternoon rainstorms while I was in Florida earlier this year. They were little more than a nuisance--but a necessary replenishment of the water that we have seen little of here for more than the past month.

Things are very dry--everywhere. I think the significant stream behind my house had gone nearly dry which is why the wildlife is encroaching on my lawn more and more. 

The woodchuck paid an extensive visit to my yard to eat acorns yesterday. I considered loosing the dogs to chase it away, but decided to deal with it another day. What would I do if they actually caught up with it anyway? That would be a strange situation. And, if the woodchuck eats the acorns, I don't have to clean them up from the yard! 

Bring on the rain!  Maybe the lawn will green up and I will have to mow again.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Congressional Inaction

Another fiscal year is coming to an end--on the 30th, and Congress has yet again failed the American people who elected them by not doing their job. For the I don't know how many years in a row the fiscal budget year will end and there is no budget. The country is racing towards its debt ceiling and there is no action there, either.

 USA Today reports, in the article titled House heads to showdown over budget. Obamacare, that "President Obama will not sign the bill funding the government through Dec. 15 because "it advances a narrow ideological agenda that threatens our economy and the interests of the middle class," according to a statement from the Office of Management and Budget."

The threat of a government shutdown looms large, yet again. It should't be that way. It is not what is supposed to happen--Congress is holding the country hostage while attempting to implement policies professed by a minority of people. 

The article concludes with the following: "Treasury Secretary Jack Lew cautioned this week that waiting until the eleventh hour to raise the debt ceiling "could be very dangerous" and warned Congress not to "gamble with the full faith and credit of the United States of America."

Gambling!  Interesting thought.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Moon at the End of the Street

 After enjoying a heated 5-year old game of organized flag football last evening and then retrieving one grandson from soccer practice as evening fell too early it seemed, I paused for a moment and noticed the moon hanging at the end of the street. 

It definitely seemed to be a harvest moon--but maybe that is because it is September. 

But there it was--in the sky at the end of the street, laughing at me it seemed knowing that it was only about 7:20 pm and already darkness was beginning to envelop my life as the day slipped into the past.

I had noticed the trees along the roadside beginning to transform from the summer green into the golds and reds of autumn the other day. I snapped a quick image just to remind myself of the scene along my drive home before the trees lose all of their leaves in preparation for winters cold. 

I feel it will be a hard and cold winter this year. I want to remember the scene, before the green is whisked away from view, hiding until the springtime heralds its return to dominance.

That harvest moon though, it just seemed to laugh at me as I looked at it. It seemed that it was telling me to just go with it and find the joy in each season and not continually try to find a way to live in perpetual summer.

I don't know--traveling from the northern hemisphere to the southern to experience springtime followed by summertime then springtime again does not sound so bad. Maybe I could then laugh at the moon.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Autumn Evening on the Deck

Under the stars next to the fire table eating dinner with a jacket on to protect me from the chill. Although autumn doesn't start until Saturday, last evening it was definitely here.

The air was crisp, there were no mosquitos and sadly no bats flying overhead either. Sitting together, Chris and I, with a glass of wine just enjoying being together was a perfect ending to a hectic day. 

It was fun to spy satellites passing overhead in the small chunk of sky that we can actually see from our back deck. The trees are still full with leaves, although I can already see signs of the coming autumn as the canopy is thinning. I could see the moon shining through where before its cold light would have been obscured.

I felt summer's grip being lost on the season as autumn exerted its strength and the temperatures began to plummet. During the morning, I had noticed Orion's return signaling the beginning of the dark season.

The season is changing.

Life goes on.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Another Senseless Act of Violence

It happened again yesterday--another senseless act of violence designed to strike fear into the hearts of law abiding Americans. 

I find it hard to believe that it is happening agains and that 12 patriots are dead at the hands of a fellow citizen. It is a crime--and it should not happen. Yet, it does. The city was closed, civil liberties were abridged, and a manhunt was underway to find accomplices. 

And now, in the aftermath, instead of comforting the victims and the families of those who died, the hand wringing will begin afresh to "do something." As if something could be done to bring back those who died and who are forever scarred by the experience.

Worse, the media will begin dissecting the life of the now confirmed lone gunman looking for reasons which are clear in retrospect, but hidden with his personal demons in realtime and not easily discerned. As a result of the actions of the "do gooders"--more individual freedoms and liberties will be abridged in the name of public safety, when in reality it is a societal breakdown and systemic failure which may have contributed to the senseless act of violence to begin with. 

Now is a time to mourn, to pray, and to help the victims and their families reconstruct their lives. It is not a time to profess political agendas.

I pray for the victims and their families that they may find healing and peace and hope. I pray for our leaders that they may lead with wisdom. I pray for our country and our society that we may find hope.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Musings - September 16, 2013

1. The second half of September has arrived. Wasn't it August just yesterday?

2. Football Sunday's mean that precious little gets done around the house while the games are on.

3. Baseball is still king--some very important games are being played every day. The Orioles finally won a series again beating Toronto in Toronto. Maybe there is still hope for the post-season.

4. In a perfect world, I'd be driving under this sign, right now.

5. As the available daylight gets shorter, why does it seem that there is more than needs to be done.

6. Why do estimates for repairs sometimes seem to be for more money than a whole new item could be purchased? Chris and I were considering redoing the pool and for the estimate we received, we could dig a whole new pool. Back to the drawing board.

7. My yard is blossoming with wildlife--most of it unwanted. I have seen numerous squirrels gathering acorns, four deer eating my foliage, and most recently a woodchuck has taken up residence in the area. It is doing a lot of eating, too.

8. It is amazing how nice a freshly mowed lawn looks, especially during the late season when it started out strewn with leaves. 

9. Why does the completion of one project make the start of another seem imminent?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Last Ride of the Plum Trees

My favorite first blooming trees of the springtime are now gone from my yard. I used to be able to enjoy the massive blooms which adorned my plum trees as spring arrived. They occupied prime yard real estate. But they are both reduced to a small stump now--and gone. 

I snapped a quick image at the recycling landfill yesterday before off-loading the second tree to be recycled into mulch. I was saddened at having to remove them--they contracted Black Knot and died before I was able to determine a course of action to save them. 

I looked for an image of the plum trees in bloom and I found that while I have a lot of the weeping cherry, the plum trees did not make the picture reel. That saddens me a bit as I know their memory will soon fade.

The yard is very open now--it looks huge. 

I know that I will miss the trees next spring, but new opportunities arise from change--and I already know my next project is to remove the stumps.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Leaves in the Pool

My Pool with Leaves and the Fountain Head
It is that time of year, after all. The temperatures are crashing, it is 52 degrees at my local weather station, and the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees--and into my pool.

They make interesting patterns on the surface of the water extending to the pool bottom as shadows when the sun shines. Yet, they must be scooped out lest they stain the already stained pool bottom even more than it already has been through years of use and abuse.

Although the water is crystal clear in the pool, being warmer that the surrounding air means that my days of lounging on a floatie with a drink in the hot afternoon sun are probably nearing an end. I may squeeze in another afternoon or two--but likely the pool will be closed before the end of September.

We were considering a pool make-over, but our Jaguar taste on a Toyota budget means the dollars and the desires are not congruent.  It has been a good year for house upkeep already--new roof, wood floors in two bedrooms, stained deck, and a shed to open up the garage for two vehicles. Maybe a pool make over is just a few dollars too far! 

I know though, I will be looking at the image in this blog during the dark and cold months wishing that I could be scooping leaves out of the pool in preparation for a party or lounging in the sun.

Once September ends, my thoughts turn to the arrival of April and pool opening which I have already penciled in for April 26th. Yup. Planning ahead for Spring Break, pools, and next summer!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Toilet Trouble--A Rant

I know that this is an unusual topic--discussing the potty habits of people at work, but this just has to be said: Guys Grow Up!

I was appalled the other day upon entering the men's restroom closest to my office and found that many (more than half) of the toilets had not been flushed after use..

What gives? That is just gross!

While I may be talked into a discussion of toilet paper being the greatest invention since the beginning of the world, I don't want the used variety floating in the bowl when I arrive.

Guys, grow up and clean up. Wives, girlfriends, kids, and housemates probably don't flush for you, so don't expect someone at work to follow and flush behind you!

And one other thing--lift the seat if you are not sitting when you use the toilet. That is gross too!

And we wonder why laws are passed governing the most obvious things, like not texting when we drive--if we can't get toilet habits down, how are we ever going to drive a vehicle?

Nuff said!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Reflection of Patriot's Day

Standing at the Orioles game last evening as the crowd sang along with Lee Greenwood and his classic song "God Bless the USA," it really struck a chord within me of how much has changed during the past dozen years.

Our lives and our country has been transformed. We no longer feel the safety of two oceans separating us from the turbulence that envelopes much of the rest of the world--but we, as a people, a society, and a country now wrestle with the chaos and conflict that lie our brothers and sisters see and live on a daily basis.

For instance, right now we, as a nation, are trying to determine a cogent course of action to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Before 9-11, there would have been no discussion, I am sure the that President would have already acted and not made the issue of a U.S. response one to be debated upon the world stage. Alternatively, Assad's use of these terrible weapons of mass destruction would never have even made the nightly news, much like Hussein's use of similar weapons against his own people barely made a side column in the papers of his time. 

We have learned that unilateral action can have multilateral consequences. We are also tired of war and conflict, and yet I am not sure the the struggle against the forces of darkness and chaos will ever end. 

Standing at the game last night I remembered that day 12 years ago when our world changed. And I was moved to sing these words along with Lee Greenwood:

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dawn for the Morning Commute

September is swiftly slipping away, even though the thermometer reads in the 90's during the mid-part of the day, I have begun driving to work as dawn breaks. The days are shorter. Darkness is lengthening its grip on the world.

The headlights are on now in the morning. I enjoy the rising sun adorning the eastern sky with its rays always wishing that I could stop to take a few images of it as it crawls across the horizon. Or better yet, wishing that I could just stop and watch the day dawn and then go for a walk or a hike in the hills to enjoy the fresh fragrances of the morning hanging in the air.

The weather this week has me believing that it still could be August, but by the weekend, I am told, I will know that October is merely a few short days away.

Autumn is in the air as the leaves are beginning to turn color, more from the oppressive dryness than colder temperatures, but nonetheless, they adorn my pool in ever increasing numbers daily.

I noticed yesterday that there in another critter munching on my foliage. In addition to the deer and the rabbits, we are now hosting a woodchuck who is growing fat for winter on my hostas.

The changes are happening as they do every year and for every season. It is just that the preparations for the coming darkness are not nearly a joyful as watching the first blooms in the springtime.

I will enjoy the dawn, because in just a few more days, the dawn will occur after I am already at work and I will miss the sunrise.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Playoff Run and the Hunt for October Baseball

Chris Tillman
Meaningful September baseball is really hard to stomach night after night when every pitch, hit, and play seems to make a difference. I want the Orioles to win so badly I sometime find it hard to watch every pitch just wishing each game could be an easy blow out and I could watch the game in the pleasure of knowing it was in the bag.

Facing the Orioles last night, the team from the north started their itching ace who was facing the Orioles ace, Chris Tillman. The resulting game had everything.

The game had drama--early between the managers and on the field between the teams. The unnamed team from the north had just come in suffering from losing three of four and scoring more than eight runs in each of their losses--the first time in baseball history that a team had scored more than eight runs in three successive games and lost all three. Most importantly, the game ended with a win for the Birds!

As for the Orioles, a pitching ace has finally emerged--the go to guy, the number one starter: Chris Tillman. The Orioles finally have a pitcher that goes out and wins the big games--I am expecting him to win every time he starts. There was in interesting stat that indicated that he is 7-2 in games he pitches after an Orioles loss--he is the stopper of losing streaks. If only we could put together a six game winning streak!

The playoff push is here--the run down the stretch. This is the exciting part of the baseball season when things begin to matter every night. Nineteen games to go and anything can happen!

Baseball, America's sport! Who needs Monday Night Football?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Musings - September 9, 2013

1. The first football weekend of the new NFL season is complete and things are not off to a good start for some of the family's teams. I admit, we had three TVs set up to watch the games like a good sports bar with the important note that one of the sets was tuned to watch the O's fail to complete the sweep of the White Sox.

2. September's weather has been fantastic. Warm and clear. It has invited me outdoors to enjoy the evenings as they fall, much too soon as the available daylight decreases every day.

3. Dogs are fun to have around--they provide comic relief when things get too tense.

4. With the deck finally completely stained, the next project is removing two dead trees. Why does it always seem that there is a next project?

5. I think this is going to be a long week of work. First I have to catch up from being gone last week and then I need to get ready for everything that is going to happen. It is a vicious circle.

6. I have noticed that changing time zones gets a bit harder every time that I do it.

7. The squirrels have been very busy. They are grazing their way through the oak trees we have in the front of our house. And they are noisy, too!

8. I am not sure which I appreciate more, waking to the Rocky Mountains in the close distance or to the familiarity of my own backyard. I think, like Dorothy, I like my own backyard.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Look--Up in the Sky a B-17 Apears

The Movie Memphis Belle B-17 over Baltimore
 on September 7, 2013
Imagine my surprise as I saw low in the horizon a flying silhouette that I had never before seen airborne. Yet, there it was, flying over downtown Baltimore--a blast from the past. It was almost as if a living dinosaur had come upon the scene.

Actually, Chris saw it first and asked me what it was--I could not believe what I was seeing: four propeller driven engines driving what is truly my most favorite airplane--yes, a B-17 Flying Fortress was flying over the city. Not once, but twice, which is good because the first time I was driving and could not stop to take a picture. The second time I was at the afternoon Orioles game and it flew across the sun almost blinding me.

There it was straight out of World War II. I knew in my heart that it must be operating out of Martin State Airport and I later determined that it was--The Movie Memphis Belle was flying above my head and into my heart.

The droning of the engines was powerful and awesome. I could only imagine the fear created by the raids of hundreds of these fearlessly crewed bombers flying together over Europe during the strategic bombing campaign of WW2. 

I was in awe of this flying piece of history. I was honored to see one of the last survivors of air armadas created during WW2 flying and treating me to a moment of history.

Its excursions over the city were all too short. But it was there over Baltimore and the Orioles game. 

How fitting, how dramatic, how historical. The bomber that was instrumental in winning the war in Europe was flying for me to see and appreciate. And I later learned that for a mere $450, I too could fly in this piece of living history. 

If only!

In the end, I realized that just hearing and seeing this magnificent aircraft in flight was truly a dream come true.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Beautiful Day For Flying

Denver International Airport September 2013
Sometimes, when I look out the windows in airports I am amazed at the scene. Expensive aircraft parked or transiting the tarmac and clear bright skies that I soon will be climbing into surrounded by a hundred or so of my new best friends.

Yesterday was just such a day. I looked out the windows onto the ramp and appreciated the crisp blue skies and white puffy clouds a short couple of hours before my flight. I was happy to be heading home, but would have preferred to be enjoying the great late summer weather. 

Yes, it is still summer!  

The trip home was uneventful--which is exactly the way I like my flying to be. I even had an open seat next to me which was convenient for the cat, in a travel container, that was able to occupy the space instead of being crammed under a seat on the floor.

And I'm home after a short trip to Denver.  Awesome.

As Phineas says, "I know what we're going to do today."

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, September 6, 2013

Thursday Night Football -- And so it Begins, ugh!

Despite the embarrassing outcome of the game for Ravens' fans, there were some good things that happened as the NFL season kicked off last night:

1. The Orioles won at home over the Chicago White Sox stopping a two-game losing streak, which is why the NFL opener was played in Denver to begin with.

2. I decided not to go to the game, even though I was in Denver.

3. I left the bar at halftime--when the Ravens had the lead 17-14.

4. I didn't wear my Ravens gear in public and therefore was not subject to childish ridicule.

5. I used to be a Broncos fan many years ago when Craig Morton was the quarterback.

6. Payton Manning did NOT set a new NFL record for touchdown passes in a game--he only tied the existing record last tied in like 1963 by Joe Capp.

7. Although giving up 49 points during a game was the most in Ravens history, they ONLY gave up 49 points. It coulda been worse!

8. There are 15 regular season games remaining.

9. The last time the Ravens lost to Denver during the regular season made them get serious and they wound up beating Denver in the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl.

10. Did I mention that the Orioles are in a playoff run and the outcome of the Ravens game last night doesn't really matter?

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver International Airport, CO

Out the Hotel Window - Denver September 2013

East of Denver looking South
I was back in Denver for a few nights and got to view the mountains again in the distance. Something new happened this time though, I was on a different side of the hotel from the views I normally get. I usually get a window view looking back across the great plains at Denver International Airport or directly west to the mountains in the distance. 

This time, I was treated to a southward view. The rising sun in the east made the day come alive, especially over the field of sunflowers near the foreground. The clouds reflected the dawn creating a beautiful effect.

Sometimes there is nothing to look at outside the hotel window except for a building, a street, or a parking lot. But during this trip, I was extremely lucky--the mornings provided stunning colors and a clear view from the plains to the mountains. Yes, that is Pike's Peak in the distance.

--Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Watching the Dawn

Pike's Peak at Dawn from Denver
Traveling across time zones reminds me that sleep is something to be enjoyed and savored. Whenever I travel west I wake early too early in the morning. While I love to watch the world awaken and shake the darkness, seeing the clock crawl past 4AM can be a bit frustrating. On one hand, I am usually awake by this time in the time zone where I live, but on the other hand, I face a long day ahead an hour further along in my awake cycle meaning I get numb mentally sooner.

But I do enjoy watching the day arrive. The darkness being chased from the sky by the arrival of the light--first the reds and then the golden rays as the sun climbs up over the horizon and into view. It is exhilarating to be present at the start of the day.

Today the dawn provides the beginning to a special day--it is the beginning of the NFL season with the Ravens facing the Broncos. It is too bad that football is so short when measured by baseball. But, it does generate a lot of interest. 

Go Ravens!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Traveling Hassles--United Airlines imitates Southwest

I was subjected to more fun with the air transportation network yesterday.

It seems that every time that I fly, there is a new wrinkle just to keep me off guard.

It isn't enough that the TSA is becoming slower and more inefficient as time passes. It seems there are always lengthy lines to get into the terminal during the middle of the day when there used to be none. And they move more slowly. 

I was amazed at the number of bags that were being pulled out for additional screening--it really slowed the process down. I think it is because the packing rules have gotten more complicated and the occasional travelers can't keep up with the never ending series of changes. I was fortunate--I made it through without committing a time wasting transgression.

But then, the change to top all changes, United is imitating Southwest. Really.

I still had an assigned seat--unfortunately in the next to last row of the plane where everyone waiting to go to the restroom congregated. But to board the plane they set up a confusing set of numbered rows corresponding to the boarding group. While that seems simple enough, United found a way to complicate the process. The lines were not straight because the area had obstructions that could not be moved, and there were two gates in close proximity.  

I figured out the game, only to find out that I was in the wrong line for my correct boarding group--being in the line for the adjoining gate. And then, because of the bend in the line, I wound up in the wrong boarding group--a later boarding group for the right gate. Fortunately,  others near me were dealing with the same problem and we collectively solved the problem. The lines were definitely not intuitive and, unlike Southwest, they were confusing and poorly executed. I'm not saying I like Southwest's approach to boarding aircraft--but it seems to work especially if I am in the "A" group!

United's execution of the "line up and wait to board" was a mess. I do not know who came up with this idea--but it needs work. If United is going to imitate Southwest,  they need to do a better job. I am hoping that this was a test of some kind. If so, it is not yet ready for prime time.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Orioles Update: As September Begins

Brian Roberts
It is here. September. And the Orioles are playing meaningful September baseball. They are 2-0 in September, which is a great turn around from August.

I wrote in April about the resurgence of the Orioles. In my entry titled Picking up Where they Left off, I stated: 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.

I note that to start their September resurgence, it was a 7 run 7th inning that turned the fortunes of the game around. Already having lost the series to the team from up North, who shall remain nameless, and playing to avoid a sweep that seemed imminent, the Orioles bats finally came alive on Sunday. On Monday, the bats remained active against Cleveland and the Orioles notched a win that helped them move close in the wild card standings and also closer to the Division, which I have not given up on.

It is September, and although football is in the air and snow blowers are on sale at Lowe's, baseball is king.

The stars that were injured last year are healthy and producing this year and although the team's play has been less than stellar, with 26 games to play they are definitely in the hunt and their destiny remains firmly in their own hands.

Orioles Magic. Now it the time to believe.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, September 2, 2013

Can't Believe I Saw This Today

Snow Blowers at Lowe's on Labor Day
Went shopping this morning to get some additional items to finish the stain on the deck and saw these lined up ready for winter.


Come on. It is just too early for some things!

Where did the tractors and the lawn mowing items disappear to?

- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday Musings - September 2, 2013

1. Happy Labor Day. The holiday associated with the end of summer has arrived--albeit too early for me. At least we are experiencing summer-like weather.

2. Stain is a fickle thing--we are not happy with the results on the deck floor and so another coat will be applied in just a few minutes.

3. I feel lucky not to be in this car in Taiwan, but wonder where I drive that could be this dangerous?

4. Sycamore trees losing their leaves prematurely are adorning my pool all too often.

5. Who knew that Black Knot would kill my plum trees so quickly. I will miss them as I have to cut them down this autumn. I was too slow realizing what it was.

6. I love all of the info about seeing Mars--it is there almost every night, how come it seems people need something sensational in order to recognize something that is right in front of them?

7. I actually sat down long enough to watch the Today Show this morning, unfortunately, the A Team were taking the holiday off.

8. I'm beginning to wonder why every weekend can't be a three-day weekend?

9. Three games out of the Wild Card, 8.5 out of 1st, 27 games to play--it is September baseball and the Orioles are in the hunt! Have you bought your post-season tickets yet?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Decking out on Saturday

Waiting to Stain the Floor
It finally happened--the weather, my schedule, and the desire to finish a project finally all came together on the same day.

Last summer we replaced the wood on our deck and waited for it to weather a bit before staining it to protect it. As it turns out, we have been waiting for a year to finally complete the project.
Before staining--During February Roof Replacement

While we did not complete the project--we did the hard part--the rails. Today all that is left to finish is the easy part--the flooring!  I can state that using a car washing mitt to apply stain to the rails is definitely the easiest way to accomplish the task. I forget where I saw that idea--but I am very happy that I remembered it--I highly recommend it.
After Staining on Saturday

It was hot--too hot almost to be working in the sun, but we took it slow and stayed hydrated. I did enjoy a cooling dip in the pool during one break.

Matching the stain colors took two trips to Lowe's and it is really close. After all, what did I expect, the other stain has been in place for a number of years now and we will likely stain all of the rest of the wood before we are through--but covering the bare wood is the most important part.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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