Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Musings - June 30, 2014

1. It is the last day of June--how fast did that arrive. We are half-way through 2014.

2. As I was driving through upstate NY this weekend, I realized that you know you know you are in the middle of nowhere when even the satellite radio goes out.

3. There are two things we try to give our children: roots and wings.

4. A lion does not concern itself with the views of sheep. 
Fly Fishing on a Saturday Morning

5. World Cup fever has gripped the nation. The bog match of the week is when the USA plays Belgium at 4PM EDT tomorrow to see who continues on. 

6. The chant for the USA team is really a fascinating and complex chant. Check it out!

7. Driving through Central NY on Saturday afternoon, i saw a man fly fishing in the river. I snapped a quick picture because that is something you just don't see every day. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day at the Lake

View from the Cottage
The drive from Schenectady to Ithaca yesterday was uneventful, but at the end of the trip was a fantastic day at a lake house on the shores of Cayuga Lake. 

Fortunately we got started early and were able to enjoy a full day on the lake. 

Chris and her first fish
The day included fishing, relaxing, some more fishing, a lot more relaxing, and even a brief swim in the sub-70 degree waters of Cayuga lake. I mean, how could I come visit the lake and not go swimming just to say I did. I actually wished I had brought my snorkeling gear so that I could have checked out the lake shore a bit better. The area where we were drops off to 130 feet in depth pretty quickly. It would have been fun to check out the drop off. Even better, if I had had my scuba gear--maybe next time, if there is one.

Looking North along the Shoreline
I guess I consider the day a mini-vacation surrounded in some of the beauty of Central New York. Truthfully, I love the summertime in the area, but winters are just too cold and snowy. And long. I am convinced that winter runs from October until May.

I have always been fascinated with the lake and actually have spent some time on and in the lake. I remember fondly going to Camp Barton on Frontenac Point for a week nearly every summer and then working at the camp for two fantastic summers. I have one staff picture showing with me holding my bugle hanging off the welcome sign. I was the bugler and the dining hall steward--what an interesting mix.
Looking south from the west shore of Cayuga Lake

Yesterday at and in the lake brought back a lot of fun memories and it was a relaxing day in preparation for returning to the complexities of everyday life.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Street Names

Wandering around Schenectady yesterday, I became aware of street names which are often used but probably not well understood by our history deprived society.

For instance, we dined in an establishment on Jay Street. Walked by an alley named Bradley, and walked along a street named Clinton; while also traversing more well known names such as State Street, Franklin Street, Broadway, and even Liberty Street. 

Why do so many upstate NY cities have a State Street instead of or in addition to a Main Street?

Jay street was very interesting. John Jay was a great revolutionary leader, who, admittedly made a bad decision to retire from Congress rather than sign the Declaration of Independence, but he became governor of New York, worked with Hamilton on the Federalist Papers, and helped establish the government of the State of New York. 

I do not see many Jay Streets in my travels and it was this street which began to get my mind turning about how many people even have a small understanding of the people whose names are remembered on our streets. 

DeWitt Clinton
Some are easy--Franklin for instance. Although there is confusion by at least one candidate for Congress about his contributions to the United States.

Others can be confusing. Clinton would be an example. No, this street was not named for President William Jefferson Clinton, but rather another famous Clinton named DeWitt Clinton. He was instrumental in the development of the New York and the nation. He was a US Senator, a governor of NY, and was instrumental in the development of the Erie Canal.

Bradley Alley was interesting. Surely, it must have been named for the great General of the Army, Omar Bradley--but it seemed a bit out of place given the other names surrounding the area. I like the Omar Bradley thought though.

What is my take away? We need to look at the street names we cross every day and, unless living in Columbia, Maryland, where they don't make any sense anyway, try to remember the history and the people associated with the names on the signs. We need to remember more than just the Kennedy's and Martin Luther King Jr. names, but people like Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland, and the industrialist of early Maryland, Richard Snowden

I will remember Richard now every day when I drive Snowden River Parkway. 

-- Bob Doan, writing from Schenectady, NY

Friday, June 27, 2014

Out the Hotel Window - Schenectady, NY

Schenectady, NY from my Hotel Window
Where? Yes, Schenectady, NY. A city in upstate New York in the vicinity of Albany. It is our first trip to Schenectady, although Chris and I have known of the city for a long time. 

We are here this to celebrate a wedding and completed the thankfully uneventful trip yesterday. Although it looked like rain for most of the day, it was thankfully dry with the exception of a small stretch running through the Catskill Mountains as we were passing an exit marked for something to do with Rip Van Winkle. Aside form that, the weather has been outstanding and beautiful--which is especially important since the wedding is an outdoor ceremony this evening. 
State Street, Schenectady, NY

Our hotel is located in the heart of the business district. Schenectady is an old looking city which is desperately trying to reinvent itself to compete with the Shopping Mall society. 

Overall I have found the city to be clean and efforts to maintain it are evident, but there are many vacant business locations. But, there is an abundance to restaurants and bistros which offer an amazing variety of foods. While we were out walking last evening, we happened upon a small ceremony for one business and the mayor was reading a proclamation of service to the business owner--that was something I have not run across before in my travels.

We are looking forward to exploring the region today and learning more about the history and sampling some of the shopping possibilities. We have already noted that the unique Upstate NY practice of celebrating the Fourth of July on any date other than the date itself is alive and strong here. The small town of Scotia, NY, is having their fireworks display this evening. Scotia, lies between our hotel and the wedding location meaning that an alternate route must be found. Fortunately, I have discovered one.

I love a good adventure.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Schenectady, NY 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Olive Safari Explained

In reference to my posting from last week about trying to find olives in a grocery store, the error of my shopping expectations was pointed out to me.

While shopping for olives, I found three widely separated places in the store where olives were displayed--and of course it was in the third place that the specific type of olive for which I was searching was available. 

It turns out, as was postulated to me, that 3 persons in 100 probably are searching for olives on any given day. And these 3 people have different expectations for where the olives will be found. By placing olives in each of the 3 probable locations, these 3 shoppers will be happy and continue to shop at that store. The other 97 don't care and will buy olives wherever they are.

My problem, it turns out, was that I am a novice shopper and did not have the proper expectation with respect to the marketing scheme. Also, I was searching for a specific olive without fully understanding the marketing behind olives. No one actually goes shopping for olives! I, therefore, had two strikes against me. My third strike, as everyone knows, is that I am a guy and grocery stores are definitely not organized for guys. By placing olives in three unique and separate locations, they are more likely to satisfy the impulse shopper who sees them and thinks--I need olives, but really can't remember for what. 

To summarize,  I needed olives, a specific olive, and well, I'm a guy which is why my results were less than satisfactory.

Note to self--stay out of grocery stores unless accompanied by a competent woman.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Flowers and Bees

It is fun to always have a camera in my phone.

 Sometimes I find the coolest things while walking around and I can image them for use later.

Like the bumblebee on the flower. Not such a strange sight, but I was walking through the outdoor department at Lowe's when I snapped this image. The bee was just there, enjoying the flower on a beautiful pre-summer day. It was a perfect image in my mind--of course it did delay the shopping trip a bit.

And then, there is the Calla Lily in my yard. We have had this plant for  a few years, but this year the weather seems to be good for it because it has grown into a majestic plant with beautiful flowers.

On a normal day, I might notice it and then walk away and tell Chris about it. But the other day, I have my cell phone on me with its camera and I have now captured it for later enjoyment.

Enjoy the day and capture memories. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thrill of the Walk-off

Baseball is an awesome sport. There is no clock on the game. It is played until all of the outs are completed or until one team wins. 

That means that sometimes teams will use less than their allotted 27 outs (9 innings) to win a game and sometimes games will go into extra innings to allow a winner to emerge. Outs are allocated evenly, three per team per inning. In the classic Mensa question: How many outs are there in an inning of baseball--most people answer three, but truly there are six outs in an inning of baseball because each team gets three outs per inning.

The line from last night's game, which I had the pleasure of attending, reads fairly simply: "Davis' pinch-hit, three-run homer gives Orioles the 6-4 walk-off win over the White Sox." To say it was electric and exciting is an understatement.

It was one of those nights where although the Orioles only used 25 of their allotted 27 outs to win the game, they were behind going into the bottom of the 9th inning by one run and needed to play some good baseball to win. And with the team setting the table, so to speak, the acknowledged home run hitter came to the plate and delivered a win for the hometown team.

Early Weaver, one of the greatest baseball managers of all time has two colorful quotes about the situation last evening which sum the game up pretty well. 

Unlike some sports, there is no such thing as sitting on a lead. The other team gets its outs and the ball has to be thrown over the plate to give them a chance to hit it. Friday night, the Orioles lost a game exactly the same way that they won last night--a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth! It hurts, but it is baseball. 

Being there in person as Chris Davis, the the power hitter for the team came to the plate to pinch hit after having the night off, with the game on the line, in the bottom of the 9th, and delivered a monster home run is why baseball is the greatest game. Game over, let's go home!

Let's go O's!

And they get to do it all over again tonight.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Musings - June 23, 2014

1. I realized that the summer solstice marked the end of a six month journey--progressively longer days. And now that it had passed, the light is already beginning to wane.

2. I heard this: One difference between dogs and cats is that dogs consider us to be family, while cats consider us to be staff.

3. An open pool, a warm summer day, clear water and bright sun. Add to this a stunning win over the baseball team from up north that shall remain nameless by the Orioles and you have a perfect afternoon.

4. It should be a good day. Partly sunny and highs in the low 80's. 

5. World Cup Soccer can be frustrating. On Sunday the U.S. team snatched a draw from the jaws of victory. 

6. Next holiday up? Independence Day. And after that? Vacation. 

7. Summer is here! Enjoy it.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Politicians and Lies

Election, more specifically primary, season is in full swing in Maryland. On Tuesday we get to vote to select the candidates for the general election in November. We are fortunate to be selecting a new governor, a complete assembly, our congressional representatives, and numerous other state and local positions. It has been a busy election season and my phone never stops ringing with candidate robo-phone calls disguised as surveys. 

The newest wrinkle was a one question survey. I am amazed that the answer I want to give for the survey question never seems to be among the choices. 

In watching the jockeying between the candidates over the tax issue, I was reminded of a joke I once heard:

How can you tell that a politician is lying? Their lips are moving.

Politicians apparently believe they have to tell the populace that they do not want to raise taxes by telling us that once they are elected they will find ways to generate new sources of state income. 

Excuse me--those would be taxes, right?  By definition?

And then there are the politicians that want to generate new sources of tax income but no reduce the individual tax burden in the state. No one is talking about finding new tax sources, for instance legalizing and taxing marijuana like Colorado, and passing the results of that increased revenue onto the residents of the state by reducing the individual income tax rate.

One of the most creative and oppressive ideas that is gaining traction is to put a gps in my car to tax me for miles driven. Why? Well, fuel efficient cars are causing the road taxes to drop. So of course that revenue needs to be protected. 

My answer--OK, but only if the state taxes on gasoline are removed. Period. If we are going to level the playing field, then let's level it completely. Do not implement a new tax source and keep a legacy tax that penalizes other people. On top of that, I am sure that I will wind up being taxed to install the gps in my vehicles, too.

And it goes on.

One new tax generates apparently needs to generate more mini taxes and fees. When is a fee not a tax? Never!

We need candidates that will not conform to the way it has always been done and come up with some new ideas. 

We legalized casinos a few years ago to support schools. How come we still do not have enough money for the schools? Where is that tax revenue going?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Pool is Open

It is open! It is not fully finished, it still needs to be caulked, but the it is full of water and I was swimming in it yesterday afternoon.

After two weeks of work, a project that was supposed to take 2 days is finally complete--mostly. The full final completion is supposed to be Tuesday when the caulking is scheduled around a rainy forecast.

I'd love to scream that "surf's up," but I'll be happy just to jump in and take a nap on a floatie. Oh wait, I did that already. 

OK, I'll do it again. Why?


Because I can.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, June 20, 2014

Grocery Store Frustration--Part 2

Not satisfied with one frustrating trip to the grocery store this week, I opted for more fun last evening when Chris had a cooking emergency and needed one onion, two lemons, and quinoa

Now some may ask, what is quinoa? Well, it is a grain, but apparently it is more closely related to spinach and tumbleweeds than wheat and rye. That sounds appetizing.  Actually, I do enjoy it and she makes an incredible salad form it.

But armed with the idea that it was a grain I figured, how hard could it be to find a grain that I can't even spell in the store? Three items should take five minutes or less? Right?

Not so fast!

I went to my neighborhood Green Valley Marketplace for this quick event. The time was late, almost 7:30 pm as I sojourned out. 

I quickly found the lemons and the onion--I knew where they were, although they have strategically placed the onions out of sight and I felt  moment of panic as I rounded the last row in the produce section to find the onion display. And then the hunt began. Another safari through the savannah known as another illogically laid out grocery store.

I looked for the quinoa in the grain section near the rice and other grain type products. No luck. So I had the brilliant idea to check out the pasta aisle--because there seemed to be some small glimmer of similarity. Nope, not there either. 

I looked through the grain aisle again--slowly and deliberately hoping for a miracle of revelation. No miracle. Back to the pasta. Nope. I looked down a few other assorted aisles--but didn't find it in the condiments nor the olive section. I gave olives a shot since they seem to be the catchall for everything else.

Panic! This simple, focused expedition to the grocery store was becoming another frustrating event. Arghh!

I went to the counter for help. The response scared me. Quinoa? What is that? I began to fear that I was going to have to drive five miles to the Giant where I was sure to find this grain. But, after explaining that is was a grain-like substance the manager seemed to understand and took me to the sugar aisle. I was thinking, she is clueless--but no--there, sandwiched between the sugar and the flour was a small section devoted to lesser known grains whose names I did not even begin to recognize and after searching this section we found one small row of quinoa! I was saved!

I accepted the bag from her hand, called home to confirm the price and substance and made my way to the checkout, happy to have been successful in my quest, but frustrated again by the illogical shelf management system.

Another happy ending suitable for the movies!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Highway Bumper Cars

I remember that a a kid, I used to enjoy the bumper cars amusement park ride. It was one of my favorites because I could drive a vehicle and hit people. Even then, I remember the ride operator admonishing people not to intentionally crash into each other, although that was one of the intended outcomes of the ride. I remember the electric smell of the ride with the metal floors and the grid above our heard and the long pole connected to the cars which provided the electrical current to people the car in the director desired. It was fun, then.

But that is an amusement park ride.

I have become more and more concerned every day as I ply the highway about competitive drivers engaged in their own version of bumper cars where they almost, but not quite hit the car in front as they force their vehicles into too small spaces and depend upon the drivers around them to make room. I saw a car change lanes yesterday and was convinced it was going to take the fender from the car it was passing with it as it went. 

Too many video games and too little respect for the power of an ensuing collision are, I believe, creating the illusion of invincibility in the minds of overly aggressive drivers. 

A slow moving amusement park bumper car ride is far different that an collision at 70 mph. Impatience is no excuse. I have driven by some horrific accidents lately and it is only because modern vehicles have so many built in safety features that people are walking away with only scratches and bruises. 

I do not believe that more laws or law enforcement is the answer. We have enough. I wonder why, though, I see multiple speed traps on a Sunday morning when traffic is light and not during the times of the day when the overly aggressive drivers are weaving their way through traffic to gain a few yards advantage. It makes no sense to me. Why ticket someone for going too fast on an empty Sunday morning road instead of doing the hard work of making the highways safer?

No, I haven't been stopped, lately--but when the road is devoid of the usual clogging traffic it is easy to coast up to a comfortable road speed which is 15 mph over the unreasonably low speed limit on some of our highways. 

But I never play the real life version of bumper cars. I've been through too many accidents in my life and those are experiences that I do not care to repeat.

Drive smart!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Grocery Store Frustration Overflows

I soloed at the local Wegman's last evening collecting the critical supplies for the house because we have been too busy to actually go shopping for the past almost two weeks. The most critical item was coffee! The day does not start without coffee.

I was amazed at the multiple frustrations that I experienced while at the store. 

Grocery stores are not organized in a manner which makes sense to me.

For instance, why are olives in three separate locations? There is an olive bar, olives in the ethnic food section, and olives in the condiments section near the oils and pickles. I'm not sure of the relationship between olives and pickles. I needed a specific kind of olives for a recipe and the employee near the olive bar looked at me as if I had two heads when I asked for Kalamata Olives. I have no clue what they are, they were just on my list. I did finally find them next to a jar of kosher pickles. That makes sense, why?

And then, there was the excursion into the salad dressing aisle. Sadly, I knew what kind of salad dressing I needed. I also knew it was there, somewhere. And I looked, and looked, and looked for it. I finally found the brand name dressing on the bottom shelf near my feet.

The final straw, or so I thought, came as I was searching for the Sierra Mist. I never found it. I had a conversation with another evening shopper and we both agreed that stores hide popular products so that we will buy something else as we search. That is not how guys work. IF Sierra Mist is on my list and I cannot find it there is no substitute and I'm not going to waste my time trying to find it either. I left without Sierra Mist or any suitable replacement. Don't force me to go on an Easter Egg Hunt for a popular product!

Finally,  I was ready to check out and get home. Not so fast! Few checkout lines were open and so there were at least one, if not two persons already in line. I soon realized why. The checkout personnel were conducting a work slow down. Each item was painfully and meticulously scanned and bagged. A short few minute checkout turned into a painfully long event compounded by the fact that I really didn't want to be there in the first place. 

I noticed the questions. Did I find everything? I responded, "yes and then some," when I really wanted to unload about the Sierra Mist and the safari for the olives. But in the interest of getting out of the store, I gave the answer which allowed me to depart the quickest. 

I thought later about the question on the ATM card machine which asks: "Is the amount OK?" Two choices are provided: Yes and No. NO--the amount is not OK, I am paying way too much for this stuff!

Someone needs to construct a grocery store that makes sense and is efficient. Although I did not require any on this trip, why is the milk and dairy in the farthest corner from the doors? It makes no sense.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pool Update--Nearing Completion

At the Beginning
As I wrote yesterday, there is almost nothing sadder than an empty pool on a hot summer day--and yesterday was that hot summer day. I longed to be floating on the surface of my crystal clear pool in the afternoon sun.

But--the pool project continues. The coping and tile work are complete. There are a few small white coat repairs and the caulking which remain.

Coping Installed
But--water will begin returning into the pool today!  We should be swimming again by Saturday or, even possibly, as early as Friday!

Coping and Tile

It is looking awesome and I can hardly wait. The sound of dollars flowing through the water pipes of the house should be the next big event. For up to three days!

-- Bob Doan - Elkridge, MD

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Musings - June 16, 2014

1. I heard this yesterday and it is so true: Any guy can be a father, but it is much harder to be a Dad.

2. I cannot think of a better way to spend Father's Day than brunch with the family followed by a great afternoon of checking out new wineries.

3. Driving should be a cooperative endeavor where everyone is working to help everyone get to their destination and not a speed competition.
Ethan and Jax in the Empty Pool

4. There is almost nothing sadder than an empty swimming pool during the summer!  It is gonna be 90 degrees today!

5. I like rain, mostly, but when it delays my personal construction projects, I get frustrated.

6. The election season is upon us and it is clear to me that people want a change, again. It would not be good to be a Congressional incumbent this year. I think something radical is going to happen. I'm not sure it will be good based upon what happened in Virginia last week.

7. I read a study a while back that indicated that in states that raised taxed during the past four years, tax revenue had actually fallen. 

8.  I miss baseball when the Orioles are not playing a night game that I can watch on TV.

9.  In case you missed the news yesterday, Iraq is falling apart.

10. Congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs who were crowned the champions of the NBA last night by defeating the Miami Heat.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014

Father's Day has arrived. The annual event when the most underrated member of the family is recognized.

Take a moment to pause and remember Dad--give him a call and say thank you.

Honestly as a Dad I don't really need a gift or a card on Father's Day, nor do I expect one. Good Dad's are hard working guys who get their satisfaction from the happiness and success of their family. 

That written--Happy Father's Day to all of the guys who are Dad's If you get a gift, a card, or a call, don't forget to say thank-you. They mean it and it's ok to blush a bit and stop acting like the stoic stereotype we think we should be at times like these.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hockey, Basketball and Summer

Winter sports are finally ending and moving off the stage in time for summer.

Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with the Stanley cup after the Kings 3-2 double overtime victory over the New York Rangers in Game 5 at Staples Center, Friday.

Photograph by: Harry How, Getty Images , The Canadian Press

Last night, or more accurately, this early (as in wee hours) morning, the Los Angeles Kings won Lord Stanley's Cup and returned as Champions for the second time in three seasons. This would not hardly garner a passing mention in my blog except for my newly discovered connection to the Kings. Their Captain, Dustin Brown, grew up and played high school hockey in my hometown and is a huge local sports hero. He even brought the Stanley Cup to Ithaca during the last Championship and cemented his place as a true hero. And so--congratulations to the Kings, to Dustin and to everyone who follows the Kings, they are a class act. 

On to the other winter sport which is slowly and painfully grinding to an end, NBA Basketball. The San Antonio Spurs (often abbreviated SAS which confuses me because that means Special Air Service) have a commanding 3-1 game lead over the thuggish Miami Heat. A few weeks ago I read a story about the difference in support for the Sours versus the Heat. If this were an election, 49 states would vote for the Spurs and only one, Florida, would vote for the Heat. This series could, thankfully, be over Sunday night allowing summer sports to finally assume their rightful place on the pedestal before the monolithic and uncompromising NFL returns to suck the life out of fans everywhere.

I am satisfied with the Kings' victory and I can now completely focus upon Baseball--which is my true sports addiction.

Summer is here and it's baseball time. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, June 13, 2014

Politicians, Unions, and Child-like Behavior

So this will probably result in a rant by the time it is done--but there are just some things that I don't understand and if I were king for a day, I would change.

For instance, why do politicians feel that they are elected to find new ways to raise taxes? Maryland is talking about trying to find a new way to tax drivers for the number of miles they drive. Sound new? Really? What is a gas tax? The more miles you drive the more gas you use and the more you pay in taxes. Duh! There are just trying to find a new way to increase taxes.

Oregon and Washington State are already experimenting with this approach. It seems that the new environmentally sound cars are reducing revenue and so politicians need another source. I am sure the revenue hungry state of Maryland will soon follow suit, and this is in addition to toll roads and increased gas taxes.

And don't forget--Maryland taxes rain and soon, I am sure, will tax air. 

Politicians need to find ways to reduce taxes and not creatively develop and implement new and hidden taxes. 

Here in Howard County, the School Board, who are really non-partisan politicians, are refusing to negotiate with the teachers union and the result is chaos at the end of the school year. The article Teacher Contracts Stall in Howard County describes the impasse.

The childishness of the entire situation, as characterized on the news, is incredible. A bunch of adults with bad attitudes playing out their grievances in the press. Just what we need--great examples for the kids.

Bob's view? Simple. Teachers deserve raises commensurate with the continual rise in cost of living and taxes. They haven't had they in a couple years. They are behind. Howard county is one of the 10 best school systems in America. Unless we want to descend into mediocrity, we are going to have to pay for the education. That's why people move to Howard county. That's why our housing prices are so high. Yeah, we have high taxes--but penalizing teachers for the free-spending county executive is not the right answer.

The School Board and the Teacher's Union need to talk because there are some incredibly stupid things happening which are jeopardizing the education of the people who really matter--the students.

If I were elected, I would like to think I could fix this. But the reality is that I would probably be a lone voice of reason in a sea of insanity. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Burger for the Ages

The Tower of London
Last evening, I was out at a social for a conference I am hosting this week and was introduced to the largest burger stack that I have ever seen.

It is called the Tower of London and apparently it is a burger speciality at Union Jacks.

It was incredibly impressive. 

This was the most massive burger and is was filled, or stacked with an impressive array of meats and cheeses--multiple layers of all of the kinds of foods that cause permanent arterial damage.

I admit, when I saw this burger placed onto the table I, for a brief moment before considering the consequences, wanted to get one for myself. Common sense prevailed. It was getting late, I needed to get home to prepare for another exciting conference day, and I wanted to be able to sleep. I am sure that incredible sandwich would have kept me awake all night.

But it was a sight to behold--and watch be consumed, piece by piece.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reconstruction continues

At the End of the Day
I was amazed, that despite torrential rain yesterday, the work on rebuilding my pool continues and the demolition was completed. It looks weird. I have been looking at the same pool for over 13 years and to see it without the tile and coping is definitively different.

I am excited about today's portion of the project. It should be pretty much completed today and ready to begin the refilling process. 

There is a lot less mess than I though I would see. I am also amazed at how white it looks. I am used to the blue water or the green cover filling or covering the pool. Seeing the white coat of the pool is definitely a different experience.  It seems so bland. 

I am anxious to get this project completed and to begin enjoying my pool again. It should be good for another 20 or so years!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rehabilitation Begins

The pool reconstruction project is underway--well at least it has begin. When I finally made it home yesterday, I found most of the water in my pool drained in preparation for the make-over.

My pool is 21 years old and in definite need of a make-over. It is showing its age and has lost its fun loving appearance. I know that it has experienced many years of fun in the sun and hosted countless parties, but after the difficult and very cold winter, the need for a reconstruction became very apparent. 

I am excited that soon the pool will be restored to its original splendor.  We often refer to our back yard as our private resort.

Last evening it was really strange to be sitting in the pool and dry. I was amazed at how steep the stairs are and how different everything seems without the water. 

I guess it makes the point that, for fun, just add water!

Hopefully, by the time I get home tonight, most of the demolition will be completed and the reconstruction will be underway--it is very sad to look at an empty pool and imagine what should be happening.

Even Riordin took a moment to check out the activity from the safety of the edge. 

Actually, I am pretty happy with how things look below the waterline. 

It is above the waterline that has suffered the most from the recent extreme winter.

Soon the water and then the fun will return!

And the sound of bodies jumping into the water will be heard again.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Musings - June 9, 2014

1. June 6, 1944--D Day. I cannot believe that it was 70 years ago. To the kids in school today it must seem like ancient history, almost like studying the Romans and the Greeks. But it isn't--much of our world is still shaped by that results of what began on that day.

2. When someone gives you permission to do something that you want to do, don't stand around waiting for them to change their mind.

3. Annual events help me make my way through the year. For instance, I have already begun planning our 4th of July Celebration, even though it is still almost month away. I don't really want it to arrive because it means that the summer is passing--but I do enjoy the festivities.

4. Pool rehab is slated to begin today. When it os over, hopefully my pool will be restored to its former elegance.

5. Morning seemed to come too quickly today. Can I get a do over of the night?

6. When the sunshine gives way to rain, my spirit seems to fall a bit longing for the sunshine and forgetting that the rain helps me remember how much I enjoy the fun that the sun brings.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Chrome Comes up Short

California Chrome
Being Stepped on By Matterhorn
A horse, a race, and an unsatisfactory ending. It was a thrilling chance for history and to end the Triple Crown drought--but alas, California Chrome did not have enough gas in his tank to overcome the leaders and claim the first Triple Crown in 36 years.

I had hoped to cheer for a winner.

I liked this gritty horse and its unlikely owners. 

I wanted a Triple Crown winner. I liked this horse and the story behind him. 

California Chrome in Purple and Green Silks
I was looking forward to a resurgence of a sport which is continuing to fall into irrelevancy with the exception of a few major events.

Chrome's Hoof after the Race

I saw the similarities to other Triple Crown winners, but in my heart I knew from the start that despite being the favorite the odds were clearly stacked against California Chrome.

Did he get stepped at the start of the race and did that cause him to run "flat" as his jockey reported? Who knows? But, victory was not to be had yesterday and we remain searching for the next great race horse to capture the Triple Crown and join the eleven greatest race horses of all time which include Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Citation, and War Admiral among others.

Maybe next year, a winner will emerge from the Run for the Roses who again will capture our hearts and become the next Triple Crown winner. For now, we are left with the what could have beens and the joy and excitement of he almost did it!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Traffic in Baltimore . . .

I had an experience yesterday. It centered around enjoying Baltimore afternoon traffic. It was not a good experience.

Baltimore, apparently, is one of those cities that continuously strives to confuse traffic patterns and drivers thereby snarling traffic for no apparent good reason. 

During my afternoon sojourn into the city, I experienced random lane closures which were responsible for a horrific accident which saw the back end of a car removed from the frame by a large tanker truck. I did not take an image of the accident because I was driving.

But as if that was not enough, on another of the major arteries into the city, Howard Street, lanes are closed and side streets randomly closed to accommodate construction of a larger than life casino. This situation turns the Baltimore-Washinton Parkway into a parking lot for the last miles as it empties into the city.

In my case, a trip that used to take 15 minutes, now needs 45 to ensure an on time arrival. And that, sadly, is not all!

I-95 leaving the city is fraught with lane closures which snarl even the lightest traffic into a maddeningly slow event trying to escape the city and return to the relative sanity of suburbia. 

And to complicate matters last evening, the closure of Interstate 70--yes a whole interstate due to emergency bridge repairs, left travelers stranded in with few options to get home.

Three major arteries into and out of the city: The Parkway, I-95, and I-70 were closed or restricted yesterday and for the near future. RECOMMENDATION: Avoid Baltimore or get a hotel room!

I have experienced insane traffic planning and patterns in other cities--for instance Ithaca, NY, but never on a scale like Baltimore.

The traffic in Baltimore is terrible.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Target for a Great Afternoon

My Floatie in the Pool, Waiting
There it was--freshly placed into the pool and reach for immediate occupancy. An anticipated source of relaxation and enjoyment. 

The afternoon was hot--which has been unusual this year. The temperatures were pleasantly in the almost mid-80's and the water was clear.

Time to enjoy the pool!

Diving into the cool water was a freeing experience. Floating, suspended weightless for the length of a breath of air was exhilarating. Even for the few moments suspended below the surface--I was surrounded and supported.  Then, to the surface and into the floatie for a few scarce minutes of relaxation. 

Beginning next week, my 21 year old pool will be undergoing a major maintenance project. It is showing its age and needs to be restored to its former elegance and functionality.  Yes, I am tired of reattaching tiles to the walls and picking up places of plaster from the pool bottom. We have decided to retain the current look of the pool

More to follow--but for this weekend, realization and enjoyment on the surface of the water.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lacrosse to Cello in Three Days

Being a kid in today's world seems like it is a great experience. Where else can a kid play in a lacrosse game on Sunday and follow-up on Wednesday as a lead cello player in the elementary school year-end strings performance.

Ethan would be that kid! Wow! 

And it was a lot of fun to be present at both events as a proud grandparent of an extremely talented child. Of course, I may be just a touch biased. Maybe more than a touch.

The school did a masterful job separating out the band and strings parent contingents by offsetting the start times. It was a pleasant departure from the previous performance and made the entire 30 minute strings performance very enjoyable!  Yay--and thankfully short.

I am so proud of Ethan and to document his performance I have a video.

Enjoy the Batman Theme as you have never heard it before, or likely ever will again.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Weekends Sports Warrior

Some people are weekend warriors because they participate in strenuous sports on the weekends and not during the week. I have friends who play basketball or football, or even baseball risking life and limb during the precious few hours allotted to us to enjoy the weekend.

I guess that is the exactly the opposite for me. I play racquetball during the week and like to relax and participate in sports differently on the weekends. 

On the Baseball Diamond--Saturday Morning
Last weekend was an example of my weekend warrior sports activities.  Saturday started off bright and early on the baseball diamond with Jax. I not only get to watch Jax play baseball, but I am one of the coaches for his team--so I get to participate as well. Trying to keep four and five year olds interested in baseball can be challenging when there are many more interesting things to do with the dirt on the ground. Jax is the player just beyond Number 5 in the foreground. 

It was an idyllic late springtime morning. Where better to be?

Sunday was similar, in that I got my dose of sports by watching Ethan play his final lacrosse game of the season--who knew it was over already?

Ethan is Number 21, and he plays an awesome defense. He got to play some midfielder during this game and he didn't enjoy that as much--he really enjoys the defense and it showed as they almost shut out the opposing team, allowing only one score. Usually he wears bright orange socks so we can find him easier on the field.

After the game? It was off to the pool for relaxation and fun during the sunny afternoon. And did I mention the Orioles? Well, they won and we watched the end of that game as well.

I am truly a weekend sports warrior--even though I am not playing, I am still participating.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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