Saturday, November 30, 2013

Riding the Polar Express into Christmas

The Polar Express
All aboard the conductor yells and with a clanging bell and a shrill whistle the dreams of Christmas begin and are fulfilled in a young boy's life--so the story goes.

Today is the day after Black Friday and the traditional Christmas decorating day for my family. Trees will be erected and decorated and the Thanksgiving turkey will make its last ride back into storage for another year. 
The Polar Express on the Rails

The Polar Express has become one of the iconic Christmas stories. We have been reading it on Christmas Eve for many years--since 1986 when the story won the Caldecott Medal. We ave loved the story and the magic which it recreates in our hearts every time we read it. Can you still hear the bell?

This year, I finally have my own Polar Express train set to set up under our Christmas tree. I also have these awesome images of a "real" Polar Express riding the rails sent to me by a friend from Colorado. This is the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad version of the Polar Express.

It is time to put away the turkey, make some soup with the leftovers, break out the cocoa and the Christmas decorations and get to work. The Polar Express is ready to ride the rails into my living room and my heart. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 29, 2013

Surviving Ravens-Steelers: The NFL Needs to Clean up the Fans

M&T Bank Stadium
November 28, 2013
It was cold. Let me start there. I was prepared for the cold and for the most part, except at the very beginning of the evening, I adapted to the sub-freezing temperatures and enjoyed myself.

The game was good--I have to like the outcome because the Ravens held on, literally, by stopping a two point conversion to secure victory on their home turf. 

Me and Jeremy before the Game
I was lucky enough to attend my first Ravens-Steelers NFL football game in person with Jeremy--a rabid, but reserved, Steelers fan. He had been there before and knew how the evening would unfold. I wore my venerable Todd Heap, number 86, Ravens jersey and Jeremy wore his usual Ben Roethlisberger, number 7, Steelers jersey. 

We had an awesome time tailgating before the game and met up with many other great people who were looking forward to the game. 

But, once we entered the stadium,  things changed. I feel compelled to condemn a significant, but small, percentage of fans who feel that they must abuse those wearing gear from the visiting team. It bothered me a lot. The slurs I heard directed at Jeremy and other Steelers fans were uncalled for--whether children were present (which they were) or not. 

I admit that the slurs and the nasty behavior of a few fans put a damper on my enthusiasm for the game. In one sequence of uncalled for nastiness near the end of the game while the outcome was still in the balance, a man in front of us grabbed Jeremy's Terrible Towel, uttered words about his parentage and how by waving his towel he was disrespecting his wife, threatened Jeremy when he returns next year to the Ravens-Steelers game, and threw the towel towards the edge of the stadium where another fan helped it to fall down from the upper level into the stadium below. 

Jeremy displayed an awesome sense of composure and we managed to get out of the situation without being surrounded by police and thousands of other drunken fans. 

I know how I feel when Yankees or Red Sox fans come into Camden Yards--but I never will abuse them nor do I tolerate those who do. They bought a ticket and they have a right to enjoy the game. I just hope the home team wins and they go home losers. Nuff said.

The NFL needs to get control of the unacceptable behavior. In baseball, there are ushers everywhere who help manage the rowdiness. That may be the answer. I did not see an usher anywhere all evening. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - 2013

Turkey and the Snowman
The Holiday to begin The Season has arrived. Thanksgiving dawned with clear and cold skies. The season of the Turkey comes to a gut gorging conclusion later today with dinner and football and wine. 

Thanksgiving is the holiday that every American can celebrate--there are no overt religious overtones to divide us from the celebration and it truly is--not a memorial or remembrance type of day. Thanksgiving is the holiday to give thanks to God for his blessings and also say thank you to the ones you love for being there during the past year through the good times and the not so good times. 

Thanksgiving is also a time to remember those from whom we are separated--but to give thanks for them and their love and support.

Thanksgiving is also a transition point. The time when the turkey and harvest decorations give way to the winter and Christmas decorations. The snowman is already trying to push the turkey off its briefly held perch in front of the fireplace. 

Give thanks. Have a great day and don't forget to phone home.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Snarled Traffic on the Rain Swept Roads

Last evening's drive after work was an experience I hope not to repeat soon. My usual 15 minute trip extended to almost 45 minutes because the snarled traffic. The Parkway was jammed and then my next road, Route 100,  was not moving presumably because I-95 was also at a stand still and there just wasn't anywhere for the traffic to go. 

The lights of the cars reflecting off the rain drenched road were strangely fascinating. I took the image while stopped on Route 100--waiting for whatever it was I was waiting for and for which I never discovered. 

The cars and lights were blurred in an almost impressionist painting style, except that I was expected to drive home in the storm. The dark sky of the early evening, it was only just about 5 PM, reminded me that this was winter's calling card.

Storms in Maryland bring out the worst in drivers. As I was waiting in the traffic looking at the long line ahead trying to merge, I was amazed that a mail truck, yup USPS, drove on the shoulder to until where the traffic was joining and then muscled into the lane. My guess is that the driver was late getting back to the post office and wasn't getting authorized overtime. The driver certainly was not delivering the mail.

Dangerous decisions fueled by frustration.

Be careful, its a jungle out there.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

'Twas The Week Before Thanksgiving Storm

The wintery weather is arriving and is already canceling holiday plans. People who had failed to include weather options in their travel plans are not going to be sharing Thanksgiving dinner with the people that had originally planned on seeing.

That is sad and serves to remind us that we need to be smarter and allow for rapidly changing plans. This storm did not just appear out of nowhere. It has been forming for the better part of the week. And we have been watching it come together.

And now it is here!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Who is the turkey now?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Musings - November 25, 2013

1. Why does cold weather make me ant to move further south? It is 20 degrees outside this morning. 

2. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the study of Apologetics until church yesterday.

3. The football season grown more interesting and complex with a large number of teams in the AFC sporting 5-6 records. Thursday's game between the Steelers and the Ravens promises to be interesting and cold. I will be there, freezing and cheering in the stands.

4. Snow is besieging much of the country. Winter is on the cusp of taking control of our weather.

5. On this date in 1949, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" appeared on the music charts. Tomorrow, two days before Thanksgiving, the TV adaptation of the song airs on CBS. Although it is my favorite holiday TV special, it is just a little premature.

6. While standing next to Chris's car pumping gas in the frigid, winter-like weather today I realized that no one ever fills my gas tanks. Later during the still too cold day, I had to fuel my own vehicle.

7. Leaves are ubiquitous. I removed them from the yards on Saturday and for a few hour everything looked very nice. Sunday morning, many of them had returned meaning I need to start all over again. It is a vicious cycle.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Sprint

My Thanksgiving Door Topper
It's the week before Thanksgiving and the stress is already apparent. The impending holiday season is no longer something to deal with in the future--it has arrived.

The first presents of Christmas have already begun arriving at the door thanks to the magic of Amazon and UPS. Snow has begun pelting much of the country with not just trace amounts but significant accumulations, just to add to the ambiance.

The Christmas decorations are beginning to shine on some houses in my neighborhood and on my house they are ready to illuminate Black Friday. 

The November race to Thanksgiving is nearly complete and then begins the shortest possible 3 week and 6 day final sprint to Christmas! This has been that unique year where the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving (4 weeks exactly) is longer than the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas! If the shopping hasn't been started, you are already late. There is a depressing thought.

So, let the partying begin! The elves are massing at the front door in anticipation of the season. 

BUT FIRST, take some time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday full of family, football, and fun! Then let the panic ensue, it is gonna be a crazy holiday season.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Inner Keeshond Appears

Makayla after Spa Day
Spa day was a success. The inner Keeshond has returned and Makayla is ready for Thanksgiving.

She smells better and is walking better on the wood floors. The groomer cuts her nails shooter than I am willing to risk. 

She is not much worse for the wear, I know she does suffer a bit of separation anxiety when she is spending the day at the spa, but they keep her busy.
Keeshond or Norwegian Elkhound?

She is a lot of work! 

My only complaint is that I think they trim her a bit too much and make her look more like a Norwegian Elkhound than the Keeshond that she is. 

But, she looks better and smells better than just a few hours earlier. And the inner Keeshond has returned.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Makayla's Spa Day

Makayla Before her Spa Day
Every few months, Makayla gets a spa day. I'm not sure she appreciates it the same way that many people do, but she gets to spend the entire day getting a make-over. 

Today is the day.

I just returned from dropping her off--she makes it so difficult. She looks at me with her big brown eyes and whines as if to say, "Don't leave me."
Makayla Waiting for Spa Day

Well, as you can see, she really needs a spa day. I've been brushing her, but sometimes I just need professional help with her coat. 

Today is that day.

I expect her to come back home looking awesome. I always love the way her fur bounces as she walks after a spa day. I want to believe she likes the way she looks, too. Almost as if she is saying, "Look at me, I'm beautiful." No anthropomorphism here! (When was the last time you saw that word used?)

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wine Tasting Evening with Laurie Forster

While it may seem boring to some and it may seem I do a lot of of it, the most important thing that happens when I go out to taste wine is that I meet people. Wine drinkers seem to be a group of people who are willing to celebrate life and enjoy the fruit of the vine.

Last evening Chris and I along with two close friends went to a wine event (not entirely a tasting) at a recreational store in Annapolis and enjoyed not only an evening together but rekindled a relationship with a star of the wine world, Laurie Forster.  We first met Laurie about five years ago at the St Michael's Food and Wine event. I must have made an impression because she remembered me. How do I know? She told me where and when we first met! Wow.
Laurie Forster

During the evening, I had the opportunity to play a how good is your nose game--mine isn't very good because blindfolded I confused a banana with an apple and couldn't identify Old Spice aftershave, and wine a book written by Laurie while enjoying an evening of wine and learning. 

Learning about wine is what makes the whole process fun. It is not all about the drinking, but the learning to slow down and appreciate wine. 

Laurie has a great approach to help people learn about wine without that snobby approach that turns so many novices off.

Wine provides a means to meet people and to share experiences. Laurie has developed a subtle comedy act that helps to to educate while also encouraging the enjoyment of wine--and especially moderately priced, good tasting wines. 

Chris and I enjoy learning about wines from new places and even new wines from known locales. The best part is tasting them to appreciate their strengths and to enjoy their complexity.

Good wines, good friends, and meeting new people. What could be better.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Airport in the Morning

I had a unique experience yesterday morning. I was in Teminal C of the Denver International Airport as dawn arrived while waiting for my flight home.

The bright morning sun was pouring through the windows. The day was dawning and the terminal was empty, a prelude to the crowded bustling place that it soon would become.

Outside, the bright skies were changing to gray, snow filled clouds forecast to bring as much as four inches of snow to the area beginning overnight and into today. 

I was shocked at how quickly the terminal filled with people headed for planes and destinations across the country. Maybe, it seemed, they were anxious, as was I, to escape the gathering storm.

I did escape that storm, flying away on the aluminum wings to enjoy sunshine and accomplish some yard work once I arrived home. But, it all started yesterday in Terminal C.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Out the Hotel Window - Denver, again, November 2013

Looking East form my Denver Hotel
November 19, 2013
I come to Denver often it seems. Maybe too much and too often. I would love to go somewhere else on occasion, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards at least until March when I get to return to Sarasota for a few days and enjoy Orioles Sprint Training.

The views out my hotel window from Denver are, however, some of the the best I experience. While they often seem the same and I almost never get a mountain view, they are always different. Yesterday, I sat on my bed and watched the sun begin to rise in the east. It was awesome to witness the birth of a new day filled with hope and promise.
Looking East from my Denver Hotel
November 18, 2013

The day before, after arriving at the hotel I snapped an image out of the window--just in case I didn't find something better. Watching the dawn, however,  is always better.

Although I can see the lights of the airport in the morning picture, I can see the actual spires of the main terminal in Denver in the daytime shot.

Today is another travel day back to home.

But the memory of the dawn will remain.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Traveling Equals Fitful Sleep

Traveling across time zones really throws off my sleep cycle. I awoke this morning at 3 AM ready to rock and roll. Fortunately, I know that I do not sleep well "on the road." I checked my cell phone and forced myself to remain in bed for another almost two hours. Thankfully. 

I can sleep almost anywhere--just ask Chris. But when it comes to sleeping through the night when I am traveling--even though I stay up until my normal bedtime, it doesn't happen. Some of it may be the bed, the pillows, the new environment--it all adds up to a fitful night of sleep with less rest and more anxiety about not sleeping well. 

Tack onto that, usually when I am traveling that I am confronted with a string of meetings that I have to sit through the next day and the result is that the hour after lunch is a killer. Ugh!

Today should be a lot of fun trying to remain alert amidst some potentially boring discussions. I may be looking for intravenous coffee injections about 1 PM. 

-- Bob Doan, writing from somewhere on the road!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Musings - November 18, 2013

1. Gloomy autumn days are best spent on the couch.

2. Football? I believe it may be on the precipice of a rapid decline into an also ran sport, like field hockey.

3. Politicians are not to be trusted especially with budgets and defense.

4. Why does the sense of reality change when economics are considered?

5. I was able to watch a couple of westerns this weekend. I had forgotten how much I like them. Too bad westerns aren't being madam much anymore.

6. Riordin, the cat, has decided that he must be sitting with me every time I sit down. That is just a little bit too much togetherness.

7. Will suspending the cancelation of health plans solve the problem or just kick the can down the road?

8. I am having a hard time believing that it has been 50 years since President Kennedy was assassinated. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Affordable Care Act Debate

I watched NBC's Meet the Press and the former Speaker of the House was trying to defend what happened in 2009 to get "Obama-care" passed in terms of the current crisis of people receiving cancellation notices for their current policies.

I am struck by a phrase that I have heard in the past: "How do you know that a politician is lying?"  Answer?  "Their lips are moving."

This politician redefined every major point under contention that for which the President has already apologized. Over one million people in California have received cancellation notices for their plans and she maintains that they really have not received cancellation notices. Somehow, the politician maintained that they really weren't cancellation notices.

I guess if the politician wants to say its not true, then it really isn't. I have heard other politicians around the world make similar statements about factually know historic events.

NBC played a clip from the debate to get the Act passed and it went something like: We need to pass this legislation so that we can see what's in it. I found it on You Tube.


Bob's view: We have the Affordable Care Act. It is not perfect, but we have it. Let's correct the deficiencies and make the act work for the American people rather than allowing it continue being another divisive issue.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gray, Fog, Autumn's Demise

Frost Nipped Mums
As I sat this morning watching the dawn break, because the cat decided to start knocking things off my night table at 5:30 AM, I realized that successive mornings of temperatures in the 20's had brought the colorful autumn season to a close. 

Crepe Myrtle Tree
The mums were showing signs of the freeze and many of the remaining leaves on the trees were brown and dry, waiting for their inevitable fall to the ground to begin the cycle of life over again. 

The day would be better with blue skies to highlight the remaining color and soften the stark grays and browns beginning to dominate the scene. 

I already long for the greens of summer, heightened by Chris being in Orlando for the weekend enjoying green and, well, rain. But warm.

There remains some color in the autumn berries, but even they are beginning to fade in preparation for the cold winter ahead.

Even as autumn begins its slide into winter, there remains some beauty to be found. I just need to look harder for it. Of course if the sun would shine it would be easier to find.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 15, 2013

Another Upgrade--Garage Door

I found out that garage doors wear out. They get old and they begin to separate and not only that, they look bad. New garage doors aside from looking good are insulated and should serve to help mitigate the cold winds of winter as well as the hot summer sun.

For all of these reasons, and mostly because the old door was beginning to come apart as the seams, literally, we had a new garage door installed. Another repair/upgrade/maintenance activity on a 20 something year old house.

The new door looks great. 

I wanted windows because I like the light in the garage. Doors without windows make it so dark in the garage. 

I was amazed that the entire demolition and installation took only about two hours.

And now--we have a garage door that will last for a long while and also looks good!

It is amazing the amount of work and upkeep a home takes to remain current.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Life Without Blockbuster

The stores slipped from the landscape almost unnoticed, until last week when the remaining 300 shuttered their doors and an era officially ended. With the closing of Blockbuster, the era of the movie rental store on every corner has concluded.

I remember driving to the local Blockbuster and wandering the aisles looking for a video to rent. Remember at first they were VHS tapes? And every store had the funky acrid video smell? I even remember the sign that reminded everyone to rewind their tapes before returning them. 

Patrick's first job was at the local Blockbuster--he wanted money to buy a computer and we told him to either share the family computer or get a job. In an exhibition of his entrepreneurial spirit, he talked the local blockbuster manager into hiring him.
Inside of a Blockbuster Store

The people at the local stores became almost like family. The managers knew our family and even when we moved, one of the assistant managers wound up managing our new local store and so it was like old times again. The stores upgraded from VHS tapes to DVDs and then to Blue Rays and they added an impressive array of games for every imaginable gaming system--but it was not enough. Our local store closed over five years ago and is not my our local liquor store. I had even forgotten that it used to be a Blockbuster until writing this article. 

As I think back to the local business landscape, I remember many of the other video and game  rental stores which no longer exist. There may be a few dinosaurs remaining, but I would not invest too deeply in their future. On demand rentals via satellite and cable and even the Red Box videos have effectively terminated a once thriving segment of the market. 

Good-bye Blockbuster, and thanks for the memories.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Philippines Typhoon: A Chance to Come Together for Good

The countries of the world have another opportunity to lay aside their differences for a period and come together to render aid to the devastated Philippine people. The images of the devastation left by the typhoon leave no doubt that aid is needed, and now. It makes me feel good that even with a congress in disarray, the US is in the forefront of the efforts to assist survivors. 

I was appalled to read that the aid convoys are coming under attack even while they are attempting to help the people who have lost everything. But, no matter the location, there are always people who are only looking out for themselves or trying to get ahead at the expense of their neighbors.

Everything I read indicates the situation is dire and getting worse. An article from Aljazeera describes the early stages of the relief effort. It describes the aid efforts of the UN, US, Australia, Britain, Japan, the European Community, and even China. I read another item which indicated that Taiwan also had people on the ground providing assistance. 

The Philippine people are in desperate need and I am glad to see the world mobilizing to help.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Boys, Leaves, and Fun

Jax and Ethan in the Leaves
Proof that fun doesn't have to involve a ball, puck, or electronic device was the joy that Ethan and Jax had in a pile of leaves on Sunday afternoon. 

The leaves have been piling up in the yard and with the help of a blower Chris made a gigantic pile, which still remains, for the boys to play in. 

It is amazing how much fun kids can have in leaves. A number of the local kids joined in for a while. 
Jax watches E disappear into the leaves

And it was wholesome. No electronics were harmed in the making of the fun.

I remember raking leaves into a pile to enjoy when I was a kid. I never was able to get a pile as large as this one. I'm not sure I ever had this much fun in a pile of leaves wither. This was truly a huge leaf pile!

Fun on an autumn afternoon consists of sun, blue skies, kids, and leaves. What could be better?

Oh yeah, a glass of wine.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Musings - November 11, 2013

1. It is Remembrance Day throughout much of Europe. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month during 1918 marked the end of hostilities during WW1.

2. It is Veterans Day in the US. Kiss a Veteran!

3. The typhoon in Asia represents another opportunity for Americans to care for our brothers and sisters around the world who are facing devastation and destruction.

4. Here's one for the nightmares: Horrific flesh eating platypus once stalked Australia

5. The elections are over for this year and already starting for next year. We don't even get time off for Christmas.

6. What happened to Thanksgiving? The stores are already converted to Christmas. I admit, I am putting up Christmas lights today, but only because I have a day off and the weather is supposed to be nice. OK, I do it every Veterans Day to get it out of the way. 

7. I am disturbed by how many Maryland school districts do not celebrate Veterans Day. I tried to get it on the calendar for next year, but it was just too hard to overcome the inertia.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Doolittle Raiders Honored

I read this morning that a ceremony commemorating the Doolittle Raid conducted during World War II was conducted on November 9th in advance of Veterans Day at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Three of the four surviving raiders were present at the wreath laying ceremony. That caused me to pause and remember the heroic actions of those brave men who raised the sagging spirits of a nation that had just suffered through Pearl Harbor and been thrust into the middle of the World War. 

It was April 18, 1942, just four short months after Pearl Harbor, when 16 B-25 bombers launched in heavy seas from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to lead the US back from defeat and into the war. There is a great website, The Doolittle Raid, which provides a lot of history about the mission. But I also found another website which shows the actual video footage of the bombers launching from the deck of the carrier in rough seas and provides a better view that this mission was no cake walk. The bombers launching from the deck of the USS Hornet look like they are only slowly gaining speed and altitude and could fall form the sky at any moment.

As we cruise into Veteran's Day 2013, it is important to remember the sacrifices of our military members who struggled and died to secure the freedoms that many take for granted.

Thank you Doolittle Raiders, and every veteran as we honor you tomorrow!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Heavy Frost this Morning

It is cold but clear and bright as dawn breaks this morning. My sister noted my unpreparedness for winter in a Facebook post yesterday which made me laugh. 

The cartoon was even more true as I was looking to find some shoes to put on to take Makayla for a walk this morning because of the heavy frost which was coating the grass.

And now another fantastic piece of news--there is snow in the forecast for the coming week.

Just laugh--summer is coming again, of that I am sure.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 8, 2013

Loss of a mini-ecosystem

I helped my son tear down his salt water fish tank last evening. He is moving and possibly taking a new position in his company and there just isn't time for the salt water tank anymore. There were only three fish remaining, two clown fish and one yellow tang.

We took 110 pounds of live rock and the three fish to a local fish store to be resold and recycled. That made me happy, although I did consider that the home that these fish have known for the past over five years was being destroyed. 

But then I got thinking about the rest of the mini-ecosystem that we were destroying. All of the microbes and smaller bugs, plants, and animals living in the water, on the rocks, and in the sand. 

Wow--in less than a couple of hours we destroyed the habitat of millions of creatures. And when the day started thay had no idea how their lives would end.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, Md

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Things I Saw On TV That I wish I Hadn't

Television brings a lot of things into our homes. Some of it funny. Some sad. Some interesting and newsworthy and some of it useless.  

Sometimes it brings in seemingly important things with an incredible "ick factor." I find items of this nature are usually associated with gender specific commercials. We have seen and gotten used to the many gender specific commercials for women oriented items, but now they are beginning to focus on the men and some of our unique issues and problems. 

Frankly, I wish they would stop trying to make a buck by airing ads for gender specific stuff, the ads are really disingenuous and often paint an unreal expectation of life and relationships. 

But one commercial on Sunday really caught my attention and ire. I have it below. 

A commercial for prostrate exams. Seriously! Sure these exams are important, but, or is that butt, on TV? Yes it is an important topic, but really?

How could I possibly top that? Well consider the commercials for ED aired during football games. It isn't funny that they run so many of those commercials  during sports events, especially NFL games which is a slap in the face to the guys they are trying to sell the products to? Just think about what the commercials are telling us guys: "look at these big studs, how about you?"

Maybe some of this stuff should be better left unaired. Or better yet--maybe we should just be turning the TV off more to keep this junk out of our homes.

Just saying. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dinner on The Porch

November Dinner--An Autumn Offering
I was reflecting upon the beginning of the month, and I remembered that on last Friday, November 1st, the temperatures were so mild that Chris and I celebrated the beginning of the weekend by eating dinner on the deck. Yes, it was that warm and clear. A great day.

At that time we noticed that the trees had really dropped most of their leaves in two short days. From peak color to no color in 24 hours. Autumn is progressing at an incredibly rapid pace. 

The seasons, in general, seem to be flying by at an ever increasing pace. It is almost hard to keep up with them. The food we are eating has also begin to transition. More creamy soups and harvest dishes like apples and squash. 

I guess we are hunkering down for the winter season which is too rapidly approaching. 

Dinner on the back deck was a treat--the moderate temperatures and the fire pit provided a special atmosphere to reflect upon the week that flew by too fast.

I am going to work in darkness and now coming home with the darkness as well as the daylight winds down towards the winter solstice. I wish it would come and be over.

But a nice dinner on the deck was a reminder of the good times past and the adventures yet to come. Maybe it helped that we were discussing our summer plans.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Season of the turkey

House Turkey

It is here. That short season of relative sanity between Halloween and Christmas--the Season of the Turkey. 

The season of Thanksgiving. The season of joy and realizing the gifts and blessings that we have been given. 

We have decorated our house with the mascot of the season--Elmer, the Turkey!

Elmer is the name my family has always given to our Thanksgiving bird. Tradition has it that it is the name of an old boyfriend from long ago--and that the relationship didn't work out because, well, he was a turkey. I really don't know if that is a true story or not, but it sure sounds like a keeper.

The topper over our entryway says it all about this season: "Let us give Thanks."

This is a good time of the year to pause and remember all of the things for which we should be thankful.
Thanksgiving Door Topper

I'm not going to tell you all of them here, but I urge you to pause, whatever your situation, and realize that there are things for which you should be thankful. Basic things like a warm bed in a dry room to sleep in to the extravagant things like three wild grandsons who always make me smile and laugh at their exuberance for life. 

And so, the season of the turkey precedes the season of the excess. Enjoy the respite before life gets out of control.

BTW--did I say that I love turkeys? 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday Musings - November 4, 2013

1. The brilliant colors of the leaves on the trees are fading as they fall to the ground leaving bare branches behind. 

2. The World Series ended last week with Boston as the champion. We are now into the in-between days when baseball is played in our memories waiting for its rebirth in just three short month as Spring Training commences. 

3. The leaves are piling up on the lawn and I need to remove them, again. Funny how they fall so far from the trees. 

4. It got dark very early last evening. Daylight savings time has truly ended.

5. We, as a people and a society, need to be aware that forces both in the United States and around the world are trying to cripple us and how we defend ourselves from terrorism and anarchy. 

6. As darkness falls earlier each evening, I want to curl up and go to sleep earlier except that since I can't sleep any longer I get up earlier in the morning, which makes me want to go to sleep earlier in the evening. It is a vicious circle.

7. Why are all of the interesting movies released at the same time? There are many movies I want to see and I'm already two behind.

8. A hard freeze is expected this morning. The temperature is 30 degrees and falling in the predawn darkness. The dark season is beginning with a freeze to leave no doubt.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Soccer on an Idyllic Autumn Morning

Ethan in the Game
The day started cool, in the 40's, but soon warmed into the high 60's. The sun was bright and warm illuminating the colorful leaves on the trees. The sky was clear and blue, in the morning making a perfect day for outdoor sports. 

Soccer was the game of the day. It was Ethan's final game of the season. Ethan, wearing his favorite quarterback's number 10, was leading the charge against the undefeated opponents. The team performed admirably until midway through the fourth period when the other team unleashed their secret weapon who scored three quick goals to win the game 4-2. 
Ethan Playing the Ball

It was warm on the soccer field. I had taken a jacket, but did not need to wear it. We have been experiencing some beautiful days as autumn begins the inevitable slide into winter. 

I was chatting with someone who suggested that the colors of autumn were more beautiful than the spring, but I reminded them that summer follows spring and that the darkness and desolation of winter follows autumn. We laughed.

Tonight, we are expecting our first real freeze of the season with temperatures into the 20's. The fine weather may be over.

And, alas, with the cold weather comes the realization that the soccer season is now behind us and ahead lies basketball! Another day another sport.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ender's Game - Review

Disclaimer: I have never read the books that were the basis of the movie and therefore I cannot comment on whether the movie accurately represents the story or not. 

The trailers for Ender's Game intrigued me. They suggested a complex story set in a future time when the existence of the planet was at stake and the best and brightest called upon to defend civilization were our children. I decided that I wanted to see this movie on opening day because it had been a while since I had treated myself to being some of the first to see a new release.

The movie did not disappoint. It should be a blockbuster, but the difficult story and the mania surrounding the personal views of the writer, Orson Scott Card, will likely keep many people from viewing the movie. Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin and Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff created the intriguing interplay between characters that movies demand to be successful. The story is complex and the character development sufficiently detailed to make the ending of the movie not only plausible, but necessary.

The story follows Ender Wiggin, the hero, a newly recruited member of a battle school designed to train young people to prepare to war with a deadly alien force that 50 years ago almost destroyed Earth. Ender finds himself often alienated and must overcome incredible pressure from seemingly every person he meets. The development of his life and family relationship is provided in sufficient detail to understand the basis of Ender's unique personality. Colonel Graff is the driving force and authoritarian leader who recognizes Ender's genius and trains and motivates him. This is no Karate Kid mentoring relationship. This is a difficult and hard, extreme military relationship in which there is no tolerance for failure.

The movie is fast paced and filled with action. There are only a few moments where I felt that I could reflect upon the story as it was unfolding and prepare for the coming action. The imagery is compelling and at times beautiful.

RECOMMENDATION: If you like SCI FI, see this movie. The movie contains violence--the premise of the movie revolves around warfare and training for a major military campaign. Probably not suitable for the under 12 group due to the complex story and the violence, although the violence is not too graphic.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Hand of the Painter

Autumn colors have finally arrived in the Baltimore area. I noticed them this afternoon. The leaves on the trees are finally beginning to change and approach peak color. It has been a long, slow, tortuous autumn.

The hand of the painter was at last evident in the trees and the hills. 

I noticed the vibrance of the colors even though the day was foggy, cloudy, and gray. 

The painter of the universe was evident in the intricate colors which are adorning the trees and bushes. 

Although I am not a fan of autumn, I enjoy the colors and the leaves--right up until they need to be removed from my lawn. What a mess!

But, they are beautiful.

And bright!

And they remind me of the glory of the season before the leaves depart from their homes and become piles on my lawn and in the woods.

Next up? Bare trees, cold temperatures and snow.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

My Zimbio
Top Stories