Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Interesting Images of 2013

So there are a few more images that I want to share from 2013. 

Opening day for the Jax's T-Ball team that I had the pleasure of coaching along with Mike. They learned a lot and so did I. I was reminded that it is not so much the winning that matters, but the growth associated with the effort.

The Tigers on Opening Day--It was Cold!
Sand castles on the beach in Jupiter during July. It reminds me of warm/hot summer days and ocean surf and warm breezes blowing in off the water. Time spent with grandsons on the beach? Priceless.

The Sand Castle to Beat all Sand Castles
One of the last views I ever had of our car after the accident in PA. Up against the jersey barrier, drivable but not repairable. The car did its job, to kept us safe. If you look at the driver's side you can see Chris trapped and waiting. She was magnificent in keeping us safe. We still, even six months later, miss that heroic machine.

The Lexus Last Drive

One of the most awesome sights and sounds I have experienced. A real B-17 in flight above me. I never thought that I would ever hear one for real and yet, there it was!

B-17 Over Camden Yards
Saving a leatherback turtle hatchling on the beach in Florida. We are officially recognized turtle rescuers. Leatherbacks are hard to rescue according to the turtle center where we took this little survivor. They are treated differently because of their prehistoric senses which will not allow them to calm down in captivity. While other hatchlings can be calmed and rehabilitated, leatherback hatchlings must be taken out to deep water as soon as they can.

Leatherback Hatchling
One of the greatest places to spend a Friday evening, on the Annapolis waterfront! The food isn't fantastic, but the view is stunning! There is always something happening.
Annapolis from Pussers
My last snorkeling excursion of 2013 before leaving Jupiter. The water was calm and the fishes were abundant. I am snorkeling in about five feet of water and there they all are--looking at me looking at them.

Snorkeling at Carlin Park, Jupiter, FL0
Across from the Jupiter lighthouse. I snap this image from the Square Grouper every year and I never grow tired of it. The Square Grouper is one of my favorite watering holes. The view of the rivers of Jupiter is fantastic and the place is relaxing after a busy day of snorkeling and beach wandering. 

The Jupiter Lighthouse form the Square Grouper
Palm before the storm. There is something about a palm tree against a gray and stormy sky that is beautiful. Maybe it is different because palms are usually imaged in front of a brilliant blue sky. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday Musings -- December 30, 2013 Images of the Year

Continuing my review of personal images of 2013, Monday Musings is devoted to some of my favorites of the year. 

1. Riordin, need I say more? He loves to lay in the space between my arm and body because it is warm. Usually when I am trying to use my laptop.
Riordin in my Arm

2. Ever wonder what it looks like to finish a marathon? Remember, the first guy who did it in history, Pheidippides, dropped dead after delivering the important message of joy. Here are Jeremy and Mike nearing the finish line after 26 miles through Baltimore.

Jeremy and Mike nearing the Baltimore Marathon Finish Line

3. OK, so it is my favorite sports mascot, but I did get to see a lot of the Orioles Bird this year and he almost always makes me smile.

Opening Day with the Orioles Bird

4. Ethan was having some fun while we were waiting for lunch at an Ocean City restaurant during our Memorial Weekend get away.

Ethan getting it on
5. Birthdays are more fun at Dave & Busters. Lucas graciously invited us out to enjoy his birthday and walked away with a giant dragon.

Lucas and Poppop Leaving Dave & Buster's

6. The horseshoe crab rescuer. Ethan returned this crab to the ocean and we think he made it out alive! There were three big crabs on the Ocean City, MD, beach that day. One was a goner already and two may have been rescued.

Ethan with a Horseshoe Crab
7. You know what I found out while fishing off the Florida coast? I've never caught anything this big! And, I didn't know how to pose it for a picture. One of my friends asked if I was trying to play this snook like an air guitar. Maybe I was.

Me with a Snook, Catch and Release!
8. Although she is pretty quiet about it, Chris does not like fans who root for the team which will remain nameless coming into our ballpark.

Chris wearing a Yankees go home shirt
9. Ethan getting some air while jumping off the dunes on the beach in Florida. A wild afternoon of fun jumping down the relatively steep slope.

Ethan Airborne
10. Jackson getting through the Christmas Eve church service. I remember when I was a kid--just a few short decades ago, the Christmas Eve church service seemed to last forever. It was standing between me and Christmas morning. We went to church during the evening, at 7pm I think, so when the service was over it was home to enjoy a few niceties and then off to bed to wait for the sounds of bells and hooves on the rooftop. I never remember hearing the bells and hooves though.

Jax Sleeping through the Message
-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 In Pictures: The Family Potraits

Wow. I went through the over 1000 images that I or Chris or other family members took this year trying to narrow them down to a manageable number. When I was done, I had 51 images behind which there was a significant story or event during the year.

I had planned on showing them in the blog--but I think 51 is just a bit too many. I will have to make an album out of them, but I also want the stories that go along with them to be remembered as well. I decided to show a few, probably most, of them in a couple of themed entries.

So here is the first batch. I call them the 2013 Family Portraits.

Dad's Birthday, Jan 2013
L-R: Mom, Me, Nicole D, Luke, Jeremy, Ethan, Nicole H, Dad, Mike, Jax, Patrick, Tina, Chris

January brought Dad's 85th birthday celebration and the Raven's playoff run resulting in a Super bowl ring. We gathered together as a group coming right out of the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Easter 2013
L-R: Corey, Tina, Mom, Patrick, Chris, Nicole D, Lucas, Jeremy, Jax, Ethan, Me, Nicole H, Mike
Easter saw the gang together again to celebrate a holiday. Springtime and a magnificent Easter Egg Hunt!

Mom's Birthday June 2013
L-R: Stephanie, Jake, Tim, Mom, Kay, Dad, Pennie, Me, Chris, Emily

Mom's birthday in June was a beautiful weekend once we got there. We drove to NY with my two sisters for an amazingly fun time, with one small exception. We learned a lot about the kindness of rural Pennsylvania people in response to a fairly serious automobile accident that left our car totaled out by the insurance company. But blessed that there were no serious injuries, the weekend celebration went on as planned!

Halloween 2013
L-R: Me, Chris, Mike, Nicole H, Nicole D, Jeremy, Patrick, Tina
Halloween was a lot of fun. I had not dressed up in a costume in decades. Of course I had to be the Roman Patrician! The party, celebrated in Patrick and Tina's new house was fabulous. Sadly, the weather was really cold that night and many of their planned outdoors activities had to be accomplished around the fire pit.

Christmas 2013
L-R Chris, Me, Jax, Nicole H, Ethan, Mike, Patrick, Tina, Nicole D, Corey, Luke, Jeremy
And then there is the Christmas 2013 photo with the entire gang together again--almost. The year passed so quickly. The boys have really grown.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Reflections

What a year it has been.

It seemed, to me, to go screaming by faster and faster with each passing day. As of this morning I have created 391 blog posts documenting the year and my thoughts on what is happening. I know there are but a few more and the year will be a wrap. 

The year surged and lagged from day to day. There were highlights, like Opening Day for the Orioles when there was so much promise for the young baseball season. And, there were lows, like totaling our Lexus on a trip to Ithaca, which, thankfully, saw only minor cuts and bruises.  And there were birthdays--everyone had one! Only one!

There was the obligatory trip to Florida for sun, heat, and snorkeling. There were trips to wineries in FL, NY, PA, MD, and of course VA. 

There were house projects, new roof, staining the deck, wood floors in two bedrooms upstairs, and pool maintenance--the usual stuff. 

I mourned the loss of friends and family who passed too suddenly and unexpectedly during the year and they reminded me that every day is a gift and should be treated as such.

I rejoiced at the births and new beginnings and new homes for both of my sons and their families. I rooted for Jeremy and Mike as they crossed the finish line in Frederick's half in May and then Baltimore's full in October marathon. I cheered for my grandsons as they played sports. I cheered on my wife and daughter as they participated in running events as well. And I rejoiced with Patrick as he started a master's program.

I felt bad about cutting down my beloved but diseased plum trees and I was astonished at seeing and hearing a B-17 fly overhead.

I kinda hate doing lists like these, because I always forget something important--like a wedding or a trip or something. Sure, I took business trips this year--but none really anywhere exotic, if there is anywhere still exotic. Is Alaska in February exotic? OK, maybe Tahiti would be exotic. If only I could figure out a way to get there on a business trip. 

All of that written, I also survived the government shutdown and furlough! A definite low point in American history.

It has been a wild and furious year. I have been surrounded by family and friends and we have surged through the rough waters and paddled the then calm seas together. 

I wonder what 2014 will have to offer?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, December 27, 2013

It's Over? Really? No!

Jax listening to the Christmas Eve Message
 in Church
I remember back when I was a child that the time after Christmas was the most depressing of the year. The "Days Until Christmas" count was reset to 365, or even worse, 366. It was depressing. I was surrounded by all of the gifts that I had just opened, yet I was unhappy. It was a sad commentary on the meaning of the season.

Perhaps these memories are why I continue to write about Christmas even after the day has passed. Of course, it is still the Christmas season. I was out shopping yesterday doing returns and and still enjoying the ambiance of the season. Especially the traffic and the parking. I thought two black BMWs were going to crash into themselves as I pulled out of a primo parking spot at the Columbia Mall yesterday. It was a pretty ruthless situation. I almost got hit trying to leave.

Here are the boys, Lucas (on the right), then Ethan (in the center), and finally Jax (on the left) singing for the church on Christmas Eve. They can be a bit hard to find and who knows why they couldn't stand together?

I think Jax had it right on Christmas Eve. If we could only sleep through the boring parts until we got to the good parts.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thinking of Christmas Past

The Final Scene from It's a Wonderful Life
As the kids and the grandsons departed last evening after completing almost two days of Christmas celebration and family togetherness, I found time to finish watching the last half hour of Frank Capra's 1946 production of It's a Wonderful Life starring James Stewart. This movie is my favorite Christmas movie! 

The ending of the movie is especially poignant as the main character, George Bailey, played by Stewart, discovers with the help of his bumbling guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers), that despite how gloomy the present seems, our lives are far more than the circumstances we are presently facing. Most everyone knows the story of how George Bailey wished that he had never been born and how his wish was granted to allow him to realize how his humble life was world changing. 

As  I watched the uplifting ending of the movie last evening, I realized that I am equally as lucky. It had been a long tough two days getting everything together, planning meals, cooking, and bringing together all of the disparate things to make the family holiday celebration a success. Sometimes the activities and the planning get in the way of enjoying the celebration, but at the end of the day, or even during the spectacular meal that we enjoy together, it is all worth it. Like George Bailey whir he was in the middle of his crisis, I may wonder if it is all worth it, but by the end of the evening surrounded by my family the answer is clear--it certainly was!

I hope you had a happy Christmas celebration. Remember, it isn't over yet! I know I have some cool toys that need to be exercised!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013: As the Day Begins

Jax, Chris, and Ethan
I am sitting in my chair, next to the mountain of gifts which are awaiting the arrival of the family later today for the Christmas gift opening. Chris and I enjoyed traveling to be with Ethan and Jackson as they opened their gifts earlier this morning. There is something special about being with children on Christmas morning.

Last evening, I was surprised while at Patrick and Tina's to read again the Polar Express to the assembled group. That is something that I have done for many of the Christmas Eve's since the book was published. I enjoy retelling the story of the magic of Christmas.
The outlaw Haslup brothers!

So far, the gift of Christmas that is the most interesting is the pair of BB guns that the boys got. All I can hear in my mind are the words from the movie, The Christmas Story, "You're gonna shoot your eye out!"

Merry Christmas to all of you!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

Christmas Tree on the Christmas Tree
And it has arrived! The day before the day. Christmas Eve. 

The ornaments are on the tree. The presents are bought and, mostly, wrapped, although I still need to wrap a few which are well hidden. I hope I can remember where they are hidden. Although, I am waiting for UPS to deliver the last gift of Christmas! They already delayed it once. 

The day is fairly well mapped out. Brunch a 9, church at 3:30, dinner at 5:30, crashing totally burned out at 9:30 and then waking early on Christmas morning to discover Santa's treasures and heading out by 6 to open gifts with with dinner at 2, and gift opening sandwiched in there somewhere along with smoking some meat for dinner.

Why is it so busy and preplanned? It is so tightly scheduled that is almost takes all of the fun out of the day for which planning has been underway since before Thanksgiving. 

I hope that you have a couple of great days. Despite all of the preplanning and scheduling, I intend to have a lot of fun while also finding some time to relax and enjoy being with family and friends. In the middle of all of the activity, don't forget the reason for the season. You can read about it in two short verses in Galatians 4:4-5.

AND, say Merry Christmas to someone you don't know. It will make them smile a lot more than Happy Holidays!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Musings - December 23, 2013

1. Counting today, there are two shopping days left until Christmas. 
Louis in Charge

2. Cats can be strange. Louis thought he owned my chair the other morning. I felt bad about moving him. But I moved him anyway after taking this awesome picture.

3. I heard the following at an official function the other day from a very senior military officer: "May the blessings of our Lord be with you this season and always." Wow! That was so awesome to hear.

4. Did I write that tomorrow is Christmas Eve?

5. Since when did it become legal to decide not to pay debts just because they get too expensive? I'm watching the games being played with the military retirement system in Washington right now. 

6. Happy Christmas, wherever you are. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Darwin Awards 2013

I love the annual Darwin Awards and I'm sorry I missed when the winners were announced during August. But, I have recovered and ran across the 2013 winners and want to share a couple with you. I found them as reported by a fellow blogger in My Underwood Typewriter.  

The 2013 winner, as reported in the blog was:

Yes, it’s that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.

Here Is The Glorious Winner:

1. When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.

I urge you to log onto the blog and read the honorable mentions--they are pretty funny.

My favorite is this one which came in at number 10.

10. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home’s sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he’d ever had and the perp had been punished enough!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Super Saturday Dawns with the Solstice

The last shopping Saturday before Christmas has dawned with warm temperatures and the promise of rain and the inevitable last minute dash to finalize plans for the coming holiday.

Coupled with this it is also the solstice. The shortest amount of daylight in the northern hemisphere of the year. I remember a few years ago traveling to the Tropic of Capricorn and straddling it for a few minutes thinking of the solstice, one day per year when the sun makes it southernmost journey and is directly overhead. I wish I were there today--enjoying warmth and daylight. The local weather station is reporting 9 hours and 24 minutes of expected sunlight today. All, of course, obscured by heavy gray rain-laden clouds. Today will have three more minutes of sunlight--we have officially turned the corner on the darkness.

And then, after saying the official good-bye to autumn, we gather ourselves and joining the newly dawned winter season soar into Christmas.

It should be a busy week. And it will be lighter, longer every day.

Spring is just about 91 days away! The grass will return, the leaves with blanket the trees and flowers will bloom.

But first, Christmas!

Ho, ho, ho.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, December 20, 2013

Winter Morning

Winter's cold wind blew through my room 
leaving its frost on the lampshade by my bed 
as I slept.
Where had the heat gone? 
I could only wonder
as I rose from my slumber 
and my feet touched the snow cold floor.
Where were my slippers? I thought, 
not remembering as I padded across the wooden floors 
to flip the light switch 
and illuminate the still dark scene that was my room
only to find that the reason for the frost on my lamp 
might be tied to the unresponsive light 
meaning that the electricity was off
and my attempt to drive out the lingering darkness 
was a failure.
Where is the dog, I wondered, 
not wanting to trip over her slumbering form 
and then I heard her stirring from her bed 
to join me in my pursuit of warmth.
A lone ember still glowed in the fireplace
and seemed my only hope of driving out the cold
before I succumbed to hypothermia
I needed my cell--to report the untimely outage 
and hopefully ease my distress.
But, looking out the window 
into the faint cold dawn's gathering light
I could see the likely cause of my current powerless state 
might be related to the heavy snow 
which fell overnight 
and blanketed everything in sight
with its cleansing, but freezing whiteness 
unspoiled as it was just now predawn
I found my shoes and coat and struggled outside 
against the cold wind blown drifts
trudging across the yard making a trail 
across then ubiquitous whiteness that 
seemed too bright even by the faint glow of the morning sky.
Arriving at the neatly stacked pile of logs 
which held the promise of fire and heat
to drive away the intense cold, 
I loaded and armful
in the orange-hued dawn which 
was brightening against the black sky 
driving the darkness away by each moment.
My breath seemed to freeze to my nose 
as I exhaled thinking of walking back to my house
with the wood and to create warmth from cold.
It was as clear a morning as I could remember.  
The  cold gripped me, 
shaking me from my momentary dream 
reminding me of my mission to find heat. 
Shuffling back through the snow and into the house 
I could not tell which was colder--the house? or the outside?
I had forgotten my gloves 
and my hands were numb as I laid the logs into the fireplace 
and tried to start a fire. 
I wonder if the water pipes would burst when the heat returned? 
Had they frozen? I went to the sink 
and turned the knob hoping 
to start a small stream running to save the pipes
And I did. Perhaps they would survive.
In a few minutes the fire was blazing 
driving away the cold and 
returning the room to a livable  temperature.
I needed coffee, 
and decided to heat water in a pan on the fire.
Three quick successes improved my mood--
the fire, the water, and the coffee.
I looked at my pathetically under decorated Christmas tree, remembering the trees of my youth
but thankful for the one that now, 
in darkness adorned my room.
Dawn had finally broken and light poured into the room 
with it, the promise of the day 
reminded me that this cold, winter morning 
was but another step in the journey 
and that with each obstacle comes the opportunity for success.
I was kidding myself. 
I should have stayed in bed and waited for the power to return.
Oh--I still hadn't called the outage in.
The dog joined me on the couch after the call, 
I sipped my coffee and we both marveled 
at the gift that we had been given that morning.
The gift of life and of each other
the promise of another day 
even in the middle of Winter's cruel cold grip.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cookies, A Christmas Tradition

On a cold Sunday afternoon, when most of the football teams we care about weren't playing, it turned into an impromptu Christmas cookie baking and decorating day.

Cookie baking and decorating day is a family holiday tradition, however, the day is becoming parts of many days as the cookie production line seems to be operating more often this year than usual.

I love the cookies, but I need to be mindful of how many I enjoy. I'm not sure I could play enough racquetball to maintain my weight if I consumed as many of the delicious cookies as I desired. I also get enjoyment watching others as they debate the relative merits of one, or two, or sometimes three cookies. 

It is, after all the holiday season. That time of year when we make a lot of decisions that have repercussions well into the next year.

Eat, enjoy, relax. It is just a few cookies.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Shopping Update

I ventured out last evening into the rush hour traffic and Christmas shoppers. I needed to finish up some shopping before it becomes a last minute crisis. It likely will become a last inure crisis.

The traffic was crushing; I-95 was a parking lot of red tail lights stretching into the cold winter distance. The on ramps were backed up. A haze hung around the lights illuminating the parking lots making it look a lot colder than it was. But, undaunted, I continued on, although I avoided the mall. IT is Christmas time after all. 

The most frustrating part of holiday shopping is knowing what I want to buy, but finding that the stores don't have it, or more correctly, the last one they have looks damaged.

Is there still internet ordering time?

I will continue my pursuit of the perfect Christmas gift--but time is drawing short. At least I didn't wait for Christmas Eve to begin my final shopping push. Christmas Eve is my favorite shopping day of the year, why? Because it is crunch time. Now or never time.  

Crushing traffic really takes the fun out of the season. But, I was humming Christmas carols through all of the hustle and bustle. 

Today is another opportunity for success and armed with my trusty internet access, I expect to complete my Christmas shopping and begin to focus upon other aspects of the too rapidly approaching holiday. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Concert -- It's Elementary

Ethan and his cello
It was a strange feeling last evening to be returning to an elementary school for a holiday concert. It had been, get this, decades since I last experienced the joy, the terror, the not nearly enough parking in a cramped cafeteria converted to an auditorium listening to motivated students demonstrating their newly discovered instrumental skills playing holiday music. And better yet, this was a joint band and orchestra concert.

Ethan was our star. He was one of two cellists in the beginning orchestra! How awesome is that? I'm a band person myself and I  played the trumpet (not very well) for a number of years until football got in the way. 

It was fun to see all of the children take their places with their instruments and begin searching the assembled masses for their families. They are too young to care about not being seeing trying to see and be seen.

The music was enthusiastic. I loved the introduction to one of the band pieces: "This piece is difficult because it uses all six of the notes we know how to play."  How cute is that?

Ethan on the cello! Enjoy it and remember when we were all younger and maybe, just maybe, we were sitting there terrified and proud!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Musings - December 16, 2013

Ornament on my Tree
1. Nine precious shopping days remain until Christmas. Ten days until the after Christmas blow-out sales start meaning you get less value for your return than the person who bought it paid for it. Eleven days until the checkbook balance hits zero!

2. Nothing shows how much you care, like being there. This was one of the themes of the message in church on Sunday based upon Luke 2:10-12.

3. I dislike the Christmas song "I'll Be Home for Christmas." It is the most depressing Christmas song ever conceived.

4. I wonder what 2014 will bring?

5. Freaky football Sunday again. 

6. It was weird. I wasn't really in the Christmas spirit until I began singing some Christmas songs in church yesterday.

7. The world was changed because of a baby born in a barn.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lost from the Doorstep--Gifts Disappear

A local news story highlighted the downside of holiday on line shopping. Thieves!

In a story reported by the local ABC News channel, It seems that an enterprising thief decided to steal Santa's gifts right off the front porch shortly after the UPS delivery. Unfortunately, even though caught on home video security, the perpetrator of this crime is still at large. 

I love shopping from the convenience of my easy chair with a click, but actions like this put a downer on the holiday season. It also reminds us that we need to be careful out there--and not just while away from our homes shopping, but even in our own yard. A related story reports that a couple was robbed while filling their car with gas.

Be aware and be wary.

Oh yeah-- and have a very Merry and safe Christmas. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Considering Olives

Olives. Mmmm.

I love olives and olive oil and many things related to olives. I have a hard time staying away from the olives once that are open and on the table in preparation for dinner. During Thanksgiving this year, I rediscovered that most of my family also shares the love of olives--we consumed five containers of olives--green and black; stuffed and whole with the pit.

It was during the final preparations for Thanksgiving dinner, however, that Ethan demonstrated a new use for olives. He discovered that they fit perfectly on the ends of his fingers.

While they probably are no longer useful as a supplemental food source for anyone, except Ethan, after this experience it certainly was creative. RECOMMENDATION: Do not try this at your table!

Maybe he can become a new super hero-- Olive Man!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, December 13, 2013

Straight No Chaser - Review

I attended my first ever Straight No Chaser concert at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore last evening and had great time. 

The Meyerhoff is a fantastic music hall and the group, in their third visit to Baltimore, knew the facility well enough to make use of it. 

Straight No Chaser is an a cappella group which attests to their musical prowess in being able to fill the evening air with wholly produced vocal music. Their harmonies were tight and the music widely varied from their own writing to covering and changing many songs including seasonal ones. They were funny and did not seem to take themselves too seriously, although music is a serious business.

The group demonstrated wide ranging talents, but they were best when taking known songs or music and adding words and feeling to them. Their Nutcracker Medley and their signature 12 Days of Christmas are funny, entertaining, and demonstrate a musical ability not often seen on the stage.

RECOMMENDATION: I enjoyed the concert and definitely recommend them to people looking for a great evening of entertainment. 

DETRACTOR: The City of Baltimore needs to figure out how to improve traffic flow around the Meyerhoff. The traffic lights are not optimized to bring traffic either into or out of the venue. Driving to the Meyerhoff, I spent 30 minutes traveling the last 900 feet due to poor traffic flow and as I departed last evening I sat at no less than four three minute traffic lights with no traffic coming across the side streets. I think they make computers that can optimize traffic flow.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Major Changes in our Favorite Sports

There it is--Major League Baseball has decreed that there will be no more home place collisions in the future. The home plate collision is one of the most exciting plays in baseball, but in the future all runners trying for the contested plate must slide. That is going to be funny when the runner thinks he is crossing the plate uncontested suddenly finds the ball waiting for him and it is too late to slide.

But wait, there is more.

It is rumored that the National Football League is considering outlawing tackling below the waist. That coupled with no tackling above the neck and no horse collar tackles transforms football from a game of hard hits into a laughable version version of ballroom dancing as the players must tackle each other, or dance, between the waist and the neck. This may be the result of last Sunday's hit by T.J. Ward on Rob Gronkowski. Ward reports his thought process in the referenced article:

There used to be an unwritten rule among players never to hit an opponent in the knee or from behind. But those unwritten rules have been trumped by the new ones from the league. Ward predicted last season that the emphasis on eliminating hits to the head would result in more low tackles and knee injuries. He repeated that position on Sunday. 

“When they set the rules, everyone knew what was going to happen,” he said. “This can happen if you have those type of situations. It’s pretty much inevitable. And they force our hand with this.” 

Ward could have tried to hit Gronkowski at the waist, but he’s giving up seven inches and 65 pounds to  the tight end. If he tries to make a high tackle and misses it, he loses his job.  

Finally, I have heard that the National Hockey League is looking to take the fight out of hockey because of concussions. On Saturday the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins played a brawl filled game that highlights the need for change. Although I do enjoy a good hockey fight, even I have to admit that things got out of control at the game on Saturday.

Maybe the games for all three sports will improve, after all we really don't need these highly paid and talented players reenacting the death matches of the Roman coliseum.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Cold is it? New Coldest Temperature Recorded

With the coldest temperatures of the season so far facing us later today consisting of an overnight low in the teens, I was intrigued by the report about the lowest ever reported temperature on the planet. 

Just so that you know, all of the temperatures discussed are in Fahrenheit (not celsius, or kelvin or any other unit of measuring heat)

Yes, it seems a record shattering, bone chilling 135.8 degrees below zero was recorded, or more accurately postulated, by space surveillance satellites for the great frozen wasteland of Antarctica. This discussion of the relative coldness of this temperature is in the USAToday article Antarctica records unofficial coldest temperature ever.

How cold is it? 

The coldest temperature ever officially recorded in the US is minus 80 degrees in some too cold place named Prospect Creek, Alaska during 1971. 

Something I find even more interesting is that carbon dioxide melts at minus 108.4 degrees and boils at minus 70.6 degrees. I bet pennies really squeal in Antarctica.

Ugh. I knew I had something better to do than visit these places. On the positive side, for those people who signed up to be the first colonists on Mars, the new unofficial cold is similar to a the temperatures of a balmy summer day there. I probable need to make sure that my name is not on that list.

It was 217 degrees warmer in Key West, Florida,  yesterday, coming in at a high of 82 degrees. 

Coldest place on the planet? Key West? You make the call.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

As the Storm Continues

The falling snow has begun to subside leaving the trees and structures covered with the pure white cold stuff. 

It is cold and wet. We had a snowman in the yard, but Lucas returned it to its original state.

The snow is now covering almost everything.

I really could use some blue sky.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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