Sunday, August 31, 2014

Boy Eating Chair

Jax Folded in the Chair
I heard the weak cry for help across the room and out on the balcony. There was no panic, just a recurring call for, "Help."

I quickly scanned the area and didn't find anything too seriously out of place--until I realized that the chair folded against the balcony railing had moments before contained Jackson.

It was then that I realized that Jax was trapped in the boy eating chair with no hope of escape.
Jax in the Chair

Fortunately he was pretty good natured about it and allow a few pictures to be taken before he was released. After all, it was pretty funny. 

No panic, just frustration at being the unwelcome center of attention was setting in. 

But it made for a few laughs and some good natured ribbing. 

And then--he was freed.

I don't think he sat in the chair again.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ocean City, Maryland

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Birds on the Beach

Birds on Ocean City, MD Beach
Watching birds on the beach provides a great diversion. And the birds at Ocean City, Maryland, certainly deserve watching.  Close watching!

I had a great time watching the birds on the beach yesterday. They were everywhere and they were keeping a close watch on us as we were relaxing in the sunshine and listening to the waves crash onto the beach. 

One seagull in particular, deserved to be watched carefully. He had a unique personality and was not afraid to be relatively close to where we had set up on the beach.

He was fun to watch. So much fun, in fact, that I took a video of his efforts to arrange our sunbathing blanket for his own purposes. 

He provided a great diversion and was one of the most interesting things to watch until the beach got so crowded that the birds relocated elsewhere.

Beware the Ocean City seagulls!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ocean City, Maryland

Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day Weekend a Day Early

View from the Balcony at the Condo
This has truly been a weird summer for me. Until last night, I had not had my toes in an ocean on a beach. That is rare for me, I think of myself as the original beach bum and love being on a beach.

I had stood on a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean during July--but never made it to the beach to put my toes in the water. 

Yes, I am thinking of the Zach Brown Band song Toes.  

I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
Life is good today. Life is good today.

Starting a holiday weekend a day early is something that I have not done in a long while.  Beating the traffic and arriving a day early was a good move because this morning, instead of waking up an going to work waiting for the day to end early and then heading out on the too narrow ribbon of highway to the ocean with thousands of my new best friends, I am already here sitting on the balcony of the condo looking at the ocean. 

And--well, my toes have already been in the water and they have been in the sand too.

Life is good today!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ocean City, MD

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Today? Tomorrow? December?

Last Winter
I have to admit--I have been a little low lately thinking about the impending end to summer and the on set of the dark days.

These thoughts have been keeping me from enjoying the final days of summer and the resurgence of the warmth that has mostly been lacking.

I saw a weather report for this summer that indicated that while the normal number of days with temperatures 90 degrees or more to this date on average are 22, this summer there have been only 10 and none since July 23rd. 

Bring on the summer. I need to be in the moment and not thinking about the rotten, cold, dark, snowy weather that is looming on the horizon.

Jax on a Floatie
Last evening, I was on a floatie in the pool! Yes the pool. Enjoying the warmth of the afternoon thinking how great it was that summer was still in control of the weather. 

Today and tomorrow I will enjoy the summer. I will enjoy each day for what it is and when December comes, all too soon, I will smile as I face the snow and cold and think about July and fireworks, heat, and the pool. It is all a big circle.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

59 Years to Retirement

Yesterday, we celebrated the career of one of senior members of the organization for which I work. He has posted 59 years of Federal service and 55 years of working for the agency.

I can hardly imagine working for 59 years in the same profession.

Think about it. 59 years ago ballistic missiles were still much like the German V-2 rockets. Space was still not explored--it was about 57 years ago (October 1957) that the Russians orbited Sputnik.

Consider some things about 1955.

Cell phones? They were imaginary items in the Dick Tracey cartoons.

Microwaves? Really? HF was the best for radios. Nobody was cooking with them.

Man on the moon was a Flash Gordon Saturday afternoon movie. 

Color TV? Was a dream.

Computers? Very rudimentary room sized mechanical and vacuum tube affairs.

I was thinking of all of the things we use routinely today that didn't exist in 1955 when he joined the Air Force. Wow. 

I guess the biggest fear of retirement is missing all of the exciting things that have happened since he has been working. 

And now--he is on to the next chapter of life. I hope to be there in the not too distant future. Writing the next chapter of life day-by-day, but still remembering and amazed by all that has happened since I have been a working-age adult.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

As Evening Falls

Watching the home improvement shows on HGTV always provides ideas for creating improved living spaces. Around the the house, Chris and I have created an outdoor living space that we truly enjoy being in when the weather allows. 

This summer, the weather has really allowed us to enjoy being outside for not only cooking and eating, but relaxing together around the pool. Now, as evening comes more quickly each evening, we are still spending time outside in the space we have created. 

It is amazing what lights--when creatively applied can do to drive off the impending darkness and help us hold onto the last bit of summer as the autumn breezes begin to foreshadow the dark days ahead.

At least for a couple more months, we will continue to enjoy our haven before the temperatures finally drive us back inside to weather the storms of winter.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Musings - August 25, 2014

1. The last week of August has arrived. This week ends with Labor Day and a planned trip to the beach to allow me to put my toes in the water and butt in the sand.
Jeremy in the Golf Cart on a
Beautiful Sunday Morning

2. I played golf again yesterday. I'm thinking there isn't a much better way to start the day than whacking at a little ball with a club and and talking to my son for over two hours while walking in the morning light as the day dawns. 

3. A couple of small projects on a rainy Saturday helps to keep everything in perspective.

4. I don't understand the news media creation of a story around the President's vacation. President's never vacation. The country isn't being run by the Vice President--the President is still running the country. There is enough real news out there to report, let's stop making up stories.

5. Three boys, a sunny afternoon, and a pool. Nothing but fun.

6. I sat outside the other evening and just etched into my mind the view of the trees around my yard in full leaf. As the summer drawns down, I know that the leaves will soon fall and the privacy we enjoy will be gone.

7. I wonder how many brown bats live near us--we only see about five at a time circling in the evening sky.

8. I can tell that summer is coming to an end, the number of frogs in the pool is declining.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Neighbors on the Move

Chris and I knew this weekend was coming when the For Sale sign went up in the yard next door a couple of months ago.

Our neighbors--who have been the most awesome neighbors in the world, are on the move. We have been talking to them about the process and the considerations regarding moving and the start of the school year. It is hard to relocate.

We have been there--during my Air Force career we moved more times than we care to remember. No move is easy--whether across the street or around the world. But as we have been stable for the past almost 14 years, we are finding that it is hard to be the ones left behind as well. 

Great neighbors are a blessing and they are hard to find. Unfortunately, much like our family, we don't usually get to pick our neighbors. 

And so as our neighbors depart to continue their lives in a new location, we wish them the very best as they relocate.  We will miss them. 

Soon, we will have new neighbors to meet. 

We wonder what they will be like.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Under the Cat's Paw

Riordin with Florence
We have been watching our daughter's Italian Greyhound, Florence, for the past week while she and the boys enjoy the final week of summer vacation at the beach. 

People always are amazed at how well our cats and dog get along--they are all members of the same pack, it seems. Well, now it is clear that Florence has made her way into the pack as a full member--as long as she understands that Riordin is the alpha male.

I caught them on the sofa this morning, relaxing together with Riordin keeping Florence under his paw.

It was just cute. And they were both very comfortable. 

It is gonna be a great day, I can tell.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cruising into the Weekend

Friday has arrived--for some it is the happiest day of the workweek, although, for me is is one of the busiest days as I try to finish all of the projects that I planned to accomplish. I often work later on Fridays than other days simply because so many others depart early to get a start on the weekend and in the quiet of the office I can finally turn my attention to he really important projects that have been languishing in my "to do" pile all week.
My Golf Team with two additions for Good Luck
Mike Kasel, Mike Haslup, Chris Doan, Me,
Jodie Meyers, Jeremy Doan

This has been a different week. I began the week, on Sunday, playing in my first ever golf tournament, the Troy Whittemore Classic,  and I have not been able to play racquetball--which I dearly hope changes next week and that I can get back onto the court.

Chris's summer vacation ended as she returned to work and that has added stress to life with the changing schedules. She will get into a groove soon, but probably not next week as the kids return. 

I remember those first day of the school year days. There was excitement and trepidation and sadness. Excitement about seeing friends with whom I had lost contact with over the summer. Trepidation about the start of a new school year and the stress and learning that accompanied it. And then there was profound sadness that summer vacation had ended. I loved summer and summer vacation was the best. 

Summer is not over--I keep having to remind myself of that. Fortunately, August has turned up the heat a bit and reminded me of that with a bit of humidity to accompany the incessant rains we seem to be experiencing. 

Enjoy the day and the weekend. For those of us who work M-F, it is time for a Happy Hour to celebrate the arrival of the weekend with good friends!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Barbarism, Anarchy, and B-52's

James Foley
I was mesmerized by the news reporting about the barbaric execution of the American reporter, James Foley, at the hands of an ISIL murderer.

I watched President Obama's short address on Wednesday and wished he would have gone further in his remarks. If I were President for a day, and it is a good thing that I am not, my remarks would have been radically different. I would have said something like: you have spilled American blood in your lawless and barbaric march across the Levant, you have warned us not to get involved, but the brutal execution of this innocent American has done just the opposite. Do not believe that you can ever sleep restfully again--we will find you and hunt you down like the lawless dogs that you are. You will not be brought to justice on this planet--but you will stand before the God of creation to atone for your sins and we are going to arrange for and hasten the time of that meeting with every capability that we have.

I highly recommend reading the blog, When do you give the Terrorists Exactly What they Want? 

The writer of the blog, CDR Salamander, sums up my feelings pretty well with the following thoughts:

The tactical killing by drone, single drops of bombs, etc are good and important too - but we need to make a strategic statement.  

Two things that we can do quickly. 

1. Used to great effect in both of our Iraqi conflicts based on their superb use in VietnamB-52 carpet bombing
2. A few MOAB will do nicely as well.

MOAB, for those who don't remember is the Mother of All Bombs, one of the biggest conventional bombs ever used in combat.

And the video at the end of the CRD Salamander's blog about the best jet bomber ever produced is especially nice. A few long sticks of bombs dropped on a whole lot of terrorists should put a dent in their army and its will to fight. 

The only people with class in this entire mess are James Foley's parents. Their interview is a study in class, support, shock, grief, and the indomitable American spirit. 

I wrote last week in my blog titled Medieval Thinking and Modern Weapons about the barbarism of ISIL and the events of this week only confirm my feelings. The freedom of not only the region, but perhaps the entire world is at stake and we cannot sit idly by and wait for them to come and get us.

The time for talking and pacifying terrorists is over. It is time to use the technology and the capabilities that we have to defend the region and ourselves. The alliance forming in the region could become far stronger than the one the defeated Saddam and was arrayed against the Taliban. We have a real ally in the Kurds and joined with the Turks, Saudis, Iraqis, Jordanians, the UK, and even the Iranians--barbarism can be defeated and stability, potentially, can be installed in this region!

In the meantime, we should pray for the Foley's and their entire family and friends. We should also pray for the other innocent people in the region that they may be spared and protected from the lawlessness. And we should pray for the members of the United States military who are and will be called upon to deliver our answer to the challenge.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Anti-Harassment Harassment

True story--I felt like I was harassed yesterday.

Unbelievably, it was as I was both entering and leaving the cafeteria at work in search of lunch. 

There, at the entrances (or exits, depending upon your perspective at the time) were people pushing information for the anti-harassment campaign. And they harassed me!  The got in my way and attempted to give me free information. But I was better than they were--I avoided direct contact and successfully obtained the food that I desired.

I am all about working in a harassment free environment. Furthermore, I don't like drama at work. Ugh! Drama is the worst. It happens occasionally because it is a natural by-product of people working closely together. Drama can be handled.

But let's not block the entrances to the cafeteria with people pushing information about harassment--I felt harassed. I just want to get some food and get back to work.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Domain of my Own

Many of my faithful readers may have noticed that my blog has a new address.


For Father's Day, Patrick purchased and I finally got it fully integrated with my blog over the weekend. So instead of, you will now see when you connect to my blog.

My blog hasn't moved--everything is still there, except I finally got the DNS servers to recognize the alias. So don't be alarmed. The change was transparent to the user.

Yay--I have my own domain name. Like Pinocchio said, "I'm a real boy."

Thanks Patrick. One of the greatest Father's Day presents yet. I'm sorry it took so long to get everything hooked up and working.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Clams, Beer, and Weekend

It is fun that families come together around the barbecue.

Over the weekend, while we were suffering through a cold weekend in upstate NY, we gathered around the "barbie" for some great food and conversation. 

The clams were spectacular--I haven't had clams in many years and these were very special. But what was even more important was the conversation, the memories, and the connections between people that were made as a result of gathering to share a meal and memories.

Perhaps it is the gathering and the sharing that defines family. We were blessed that people gathered from multiple States to share the weekend. 

And yes--there was some beer, too. 

And there was a lot of meat--I forgot to take an image of the ribs and chicken that found their way onto the table.

But it was the gathering, the memories, the laughter, and the sharing that made the evening and the weekend.

Times like these are special and deserve to be remembered.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Musings - August 18, 2014

Trumansburg Gold Course
One of the Holes
1. I played my first ever complete, 18 hole, round of golf yesterday. I was surprised that it took all day.

2. I took the Ice Bucket Challenge and was in one of the 1.2 million videos shared on Facebook. 

3. I felt that the Troy Whittemore Classic was a huge success. I only wish that I had won the Dustin Brown signed Team USA Jersey. 

4. There are 40 games left for the Orioles in this baseball season. I cannot believe how quickly the summer is winding down. 

5. Frustration is defined as driving at highway speed nearing your destination at the end of a five-hour trip only to become ensnarled in a construction zone traffic jam for 30 minutes. Each minute seems just that much longer trapped in traffic and once the road opens again all I can think about is that I could have been home by now.

6. Summer vacation is ending in many places and the kids are heading off to school. Drive carefully.

7. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz last night when I walked through the door of my house: "There's no place like home."

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gulf or Golf: My First Tournament

I'm playing in a golf tournament today. Yup, me! I'm not even sure I know which end of the club to use when addressing the ball.

Would that be, "Mr Ball?"

I am very good at gulf sports--like Persian Gulf, Gulf of Mexico, and Gulf of California.

Golf, on the other hand is something I have only infrequently attempted with far from satisfactory results.

Today, I am playing for a cause. I will be taking the course with many of my family and friends and a lot of other people that I do nor know to play in the Troy Whittemore Classic at the Trumansburg Golf Course. Troy was my nephew and the tournament is to benefit the scholarship fund established in his memory. Even a local radio station, WHCU,  is helping to spread the word and the tournament director told me last evening that the registration is closed with 32 teams registered for the 9 AM shotgun start.

Checkout the Facebook page at Troy Whittemore Classic

I expect to make Facebook updates as the day progresses. Wish me luck.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Danby, NY

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's Just Cold--Hit the Grill!

Dinner on the Grill, August 15, 2014
On the 15th of August in Ithaca, NY,  the weather was just plain cold!

It felt like late-September. Overcast, dreary, and cold. I actually had to put on jeans and a hoodie to head into town to do some shopping. 

What happened to summer? I don't think this bodes well for the winter--perhaps it is going to be a long, hard, cold winter. Like the one we suffered through last winter. 
Coppola Claret 2012

The high, in Ithaca, NY, yesterday was 66 degrees. Today is supposed to be much warmer (yes, those were the actual words used by the forecasters) topping out at 78 degrees. Point of fact, 78 degrees is the average daily high August 16th in Ithaca. Much warmer translates into average for this time of year! The low was an incredible 54 degrees--I can't even begin to imagine why it is so cold during August! Get this--yesterday was rated at 5 heating degree days. 

At least the unseasonably cold weather did not deter my date with the grill and a bottle of wine. The wine was a standby go to wine because the local wine store had a terrible selection of wines. Grilling some meat helped to restore a sense of summer to the otherwise autumnal-feeling situation.

Even though it may not feel like it, I can still act like it is summer! Break out the beach chairs, umbrellas, and sun screen!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Danby, NY

Friday, August 15, 2014

On the Highway MPG

Driving our vehicle last evening it registered an amazing, for it, mpg reading on the computer.

We were cruising along the Susquehanna River just north of Harrisburg, PA, and our Toyota Highlander registered 26 miles per gallon (mpg). It was an amazing time as we watched the effective miles per gallon climb into previously unseen territory. We are usually able to get it near 24 mpg when engaged in highway traveling, but at the display climbed towards 25 we began to take notice. And then as it crested 26 mpg, ultimately topping out at 26.2 mpg, we were really impressed. 

Unfortunately, the flat road soon ended and we came into a town. It was sad to see how quickly the mpg dropped as we slogged through stop and start traffic and traffic lights. 

The exciting part is the Toyota reports the official highway mpg for our Highlander is 25--it was nice to actually get more than the reported value. I didn't think that ever happened. I wasn't even sure real people could get to the reported value.

Yay, us! Thanks Toyota.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Danby, NY

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Medieval Thinking and Modern Weapons

Displaced Iraqi families from the Yazidi community cross the Iraq-Syria border.
CreditAhmad Al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The situation in Iraq, the confrontation with ISIL (or ISIS as at the US news media calls them because most Americans aren't familiar with the Levant) highlights a fundamentally medieval thinking foe armed with 21st Century technology and tactics threatening the peace of not only the region, but of the entire world.

The situation is truly a blast from the past and the barbarism being displayed is reason enough that these throwbacks need to be stopped to restore peace to the troubled region.

Already the ISIL is bringing together an alliance of enemies to be arrayed against them. Syria, Turkey, the Kurds, Iraq, Iran, the US, and the UK along with others I may have missed are coming together against them and trying to protect the innocent peace loving non-combatants in the region.

I have been appalled by the brutality and disrespect of life ISIL has shown. Just research some of the web sites to find examples of the genocide. There is a body of evidence that demonstrates that ISIL has executed unarmed men who were captured. This is a page right out of the middle part of the 20th Century associated with names like Hitler and Stalin.

The United States must use its ability as the last standing super power to confront these brutal people. It is clear the Russia is engaged in its own deception campaign to steal people and territory from another country and that China is trying to steal oil fields in the Asian region. They clearly are not going to get involved in stopping this medieval threat until it is upon their borders.

The following passage highlights the approach used by ISIL in dealing with civilians:

Christians living in areas under ISIS control who wanted to remain in the "caliphate" faced three options, converting to Islam, paying a religious levy—jizya—or death. "We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword", ISIS said. ISIS had already set similar rules for Christians in Ar-Raqqah, Syria, once one of the nation's most liberal cities.

This threat to peace is not going to go away. Americans need to take notice of this threat and realize that even though it is half a world away, this type of medieval mentality is alive and strong in the 21st Century.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Out the Hotel Window - Denver, August 2014

Sunset on August 11, 2014 looking at the
Denver International Airport Terminals
It would be easy for me to get bored looking out the hotel windows in Denver, since I seem to stay in the same area and have seen the landscape and the sights on so many separate occasions. But I don't! 

Yesterday I was reminded why I like to look out the hotel window, because I caught the sunrise--the actual no kidding sunrise as it was coming up right over the terminals at Denver International Airport. 
Sunrise Denver International Airport
August 12, 2014

On Monday evening, after I had arrived, I snapped a nice image of the airport terminals bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun. I also, apparently, caught an image of a UFO--because I have no clue what that thing in the top center of the frame is and I don't remember seeing it when I took the image. It is not present in the image I took a few seconds later. Hmmm. A good one for the conspiracy theorists. It is probably dirt in the window.

But yesterday morning, I caught the rising sun coming up over the buildings just to the left of the main terminal at the airport. The sunrise was, in a word, magnificent! As I have written before, I like sunrises more than sunsets.
Sunrise Denver International Airport
August 12, 2014 #2

And this sunrise was one to be remembered. I remain fascinated at how quickly the sun jumps up into the sky from being just below the horizon to being "up."

I didn't take an image of the full-up sun.   I was so caught up in the moment, that I missed it with the camera.

But it is etched into my mind!

Good morning world! Another day is at hand with all of its promise and hope. Make today better than tomorrow--that is my goal with each sunrise.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, Colorado (again!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Flying the Turbulent Skies

I did my best imitation of self-loading cargo (SLC) again yesterday as I carried my bag down the aisle into a Boeing 737 emblazoned with the markings of Southwest Airlines and after retrieving my electronics and reading material and stowing my carryon, I claimed my seat for an almost four-hour flight. 

I have become a fan of Southwest Airlines because when you fly with them you have no expectation of anything other than a drink and some peanuts. I fly for peanuts!

I always make the following statement when I enter the Southwest jet, "I'm flying first class today!" It usually draws a chuckle from the flight attendants because there is only one class of travel on Southwest. Yesterday was special because as we landed we were serenaded by one of the flight attendants with a nice arrival song over the public address system. She had a nice voice which reminded me of Doris Day until she went horribly flat during one part of the song. I still applauded because it was a nice ending to an unusually turbulent flight across the middle section of America.

The flight was one of the most turbulent that I have experienced in quite a while. The seat belt sign was on for most of the flight. It almost becomes counter productive to have the seat belt signs illuminated, because over time, people begin to ignore the warning and do what they need to do--usually, use the restroom. It is to the point where the only time it is serious is when the captain suspends cabin service and orders the flight attendants to be seated and strapped in. Then, people listen.

Upon landing, I imitated SLC again and deplaned. Off for business after spending part of my life I can never recover strapped inside an aircraft over the heartland of America.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO (again!) 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Musings - August 11, 2014

1. It is only early August, but already the Halloween decorations are in the stores. 

2. Another idyllic weekend and I had one major project to accomplish--it didn't get done, I kept getting redirected.

3. I may have a potential buyer for Kitty, my first Jaguar. It will be sad to let the venerable old car go, but I am not spending the time maintaining it that I should.

4. In contrast to the Halloween decorations in the stores, I saw this butterfly on my Butterfly Bush on Saturday. 

5. The NFL began play this week. I don't even know what the scores of the games were. 

6. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy yesterday. It was fun, but not great.

7. It promises to be a very busy week ahead, I can't believe how quickly August is sliding into September--even the 62 degrees this morning sounds like a September temperature.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Flowers for the Day

Anniversaries are days for flowers and with the receipt of two bouquets yesterday,  I reflected on how our lives are filled with flowers. 

When we are born, often flowers are sent. On birthdays there are flowers. On our graduation day and our wedding day there are flowers. Special occasions get flowers. Yes, even on the day when we are laid to rest, there are flowers.

Yesterday was an anniversary day and there were flowers. Beautiful flowers. Some were brought in person and some were delivered. 

Regardless of the delivery mode, flowers are appreciated on special days and occasions. 

Getting multiple bouquets of flowers means the day is really special--and yesterday was really special.

Two bouquets to enjoy. As long as they are around, both the sender and the day are remembered. That is really cool.

What a nice way to remember a very special day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Interactive Baseball Map

I grow weary of all of the political maps of the country showing the red, blue, and gray projections for the upcoming election. I wish they would use other colors like green and yellow.

The coolest map that I have run across in a very long time is in this morning's New York Times online. It is an interactive map of the United States divided by baseball teams. The article, Up Close on Baseballs Borders, is an interesting and different look at how regions of the US follow major league baseball teams as determined from Facebook. 

From this map, I was able to determine that 62 percent of baseball fans living in Tompkins County, New York, are Yankees fans. But, I also discovered that 9 percent are Red Sox fans and that 6 percent are Mets fans. Interesting--maybe there is some truth to the Red Sox nation idea. Within just the 14850 zip code in Tompkins County, however, the percentage of Yankees fans drops to 50 percent and the percentage of Red Sox fans increases to 16 percent and the Mets fan base also increases, but only to 8 percent.

In my own Howard County, Maryland, I was distressed to learn that only 50 percent of the fans are Orioles fans, with 10 percent for the Nationals, and, unbelievably, 8 percent for the Red Sox. At least the Yankees got shut out of the top three. For my zip code, however, I am happy to report that 66 percent of the fans are Orioles but the Yankees have 9 and the Red Sox have 5 percent of the fan base. 

It was fun to troll around the country and find where different teams are the strongest. I found a whole swath of the western portion of the country in Idaho and Utah where the Yankees or Red Sox were had the biggest fan base. I was also surprised that most of Virginia are Yankee fans. 

Checking out this map was a lot more fun than looking at political projections. I was intrigued by the breakdowns in Alaska and Hawaii--Yankees and Red Sox often have the highs percentage of the fan base.

It is a well done map and I had a lot of fun wandering around the country.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, August 8, 2014

Congratulations, It's Friday

At the End of the Day
Willamette Valley Vineyards
The first full week of August is coming to a close and it has been a hectic week.

I can hardly wrap my head around everything that has been going on--but, from where Is it hits morning I can see the weekend on the horizon. And that is a good thing.

I had the opportunity to reflect on my recent vacation last evening with the arrival of some my purchases. It is fun to reflect on the good times spent away from the duties of daily living. I am always amazed at how the days seem to fill themselves with seemingly important things, while others things just slip away. 

I have two huge events that I want to put create photo books for--the vacation to Oregon and the 60th Anniversary party. 

Maybe I will get to those during the coming week--I hope. 

The weather has been fantastic and being outside is something I enjoy. Even just sitting around the table on the porch annoying dinner, conversation, and a glass of wine.

That, I guess, is a thread through my life. I remember the adage that we need to take time to smell the flowers along the way. Sometimes I feel I just need to slow down enough to even notice the flowers first. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Highway Accident on the Way Home

Emergency Vehicle Responding to accident
I was not involved--but I saw the aftermath of the accident just as the first responders were arriving. The scene was a bit surreal, it appeared to be a single car accident where the vehicle wound up on its side in the middle of two lanes. Yes, on its side, specifically, the driver's door was against the pavement and the wheels were 90 degrees from the road surface. 

The road was collapsing from three full lanes of rush hour traffic down to one lane just getting by on the shoulder. 

It was refreshing to see how the cars parted on the traffic clogged highway to let the emergency vehicles by to get to the scene. Although, the vehicles had to come through the very middle of the clogged traffic.
Traffic as the Ambulance went by

And even more refreshing was the way everyone  came together so that we could snake by the accident. I maintained my mantra that drivers need to drive while passing the scene and so except for seeing the vehicle, I did not ascertain the extent of injuries to those involved. I needed to keep alert so as not to become involved in a secondary incident, especially since a large fire truck was ensuring that all of the travel lanes were closed and that the only way past the accident was on the shoulder.

Although it delayed my drive home, I was reminded that someone was having a very bad day, and but, by the grace of God, it was not me!

I prayed that they were OK and I proceeded safely on my journey home.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Training Wheels--The Simple Made Hard

Original Poor Design
It appeared to be a simple task, install training wheels on a bicycle for Lucas. Sadly, nothing, it seems, is as easy as it should be especially when the items being installed are poorly manufactured and the instructions were not clearly translated form the original Chinese. 

Amazon let me down, because the training wheels were supposed to be delivered on Monday--but they did not arrive. And then, when they did finally arrived yesterday, they were poorly designed and did not accomplish the task in a safe and consistent manner. They did not properly fit the bike and I had to make modifications to try and adapt the training wheels to the bike. After a few short rides, it was clear that they were not acceptable. 

Attempt 2: The New Ones
I was amazed at the poor quality and design of the wheels. In the end there was no was to properly fit them to the bike to make them safe for Lucas.

So off to the local store to acquire an acceptable set of training wheels. After a few more frustrating installation minutes, they were ready for a test ride.

Then the chain fell off the bike, during the first short ride. Another agonizing few minutes of backyard bicycle repair. Finally, for the third time of the evening, the bike was presented to Lucas--who had not yet lost interest, for a test ride.

Lucas was a bit wary of the bike and not ready to fully commit himself to the ride. Grandma walked beside him and help him gain confidence in the wheels, although after the failure of the previous set of wheels, this was not as easy a task as it should have been. 

And what a test ride it was. Within a short time, Lucas was riding the bike and feeling a bit too comfortable on it. 

At least the evening had a happy ending.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Trail Goes On to Where?

Trail in the Oregon Forest
Life is a journey along a path that sometimes goes on into the forest and often obscures the destination.

I experienced the reality of walking along a trail a few weeks ago while hiking through the forests of Oregon, where there was something new around every bend. One time I saw a huge elk crossing the path about 100 yards in front of me. I tried to get a picture of the elk, but he was too fast for me and all I got was blur and a great memory of the huge magnificent creature that graced my life with its brief presence.

View at the end of the trail

Although I hoped the end of the trail would soon come, I still found every twist and turn interesting. Much like life. Although I could not see the end of the trail, nor hear the end of the trail as it was obscured by heavy forest, I sensed that there was something special up ahead.
The view and the beginning of a new journey

When I finally broke out of the forest into the grasslands, it was worth the hike. The view was magnificent. 

And, reflecting upon the moment, I knew that although the immediate journey had ended, another journey was about to begin.

I guess journeys, like hikes, are both endings and beginnings as I take the things I learned form the experience past and apply them to the journey ahead.

Life is a journey, after all and that is what makes it so much fun.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Musings - August 4, 2014

1. The first full week of August has arrived, I guess there is not doubt now that the summer is winding down.

2. I noticed the stores are full of "Back to School" supplies yesterday. I remember the days of supply lists and the stress associated with the approaching return to normal day as school resumes.

3. I was successful in my plumbing project of yesterday! A miracle.

4. Charles M. Blow makes the following statement at the beginning of his NY Times OP-ED Column this morning: Congress is a joke. But the joke isn’t funny — unless, of course, you’re into dark humor.

5. The NFL Pre-season is officially underway. The Giants rallied to beat the Bills. I'm glad I decided to cancel NFL Sunday Ticket, I am going to get NHL Center Ice instead.

6. Rain and cool temperatures. Yup, summer is already giving way to autumn.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Weekend Weather Woes

Gray and Overcast Weekend
We have been blessed this summer, so far, with fantastic weather weekends. Rain has fallen during the week and the clouds parted to provide a stunning and enjoyable weather weekend. 

This weekend the weather pattern was broken and, perhaps, that is why I noticed it. It has been a rainy and overcast weekend with some significant breaks in the clouds which still allow for outdoors activity.

So much for the outdoors projects--although I was able to get the lawn mowed during a break in the clouds. 

Cloudy and overcast weekends do allow for indoor projects to finally get completed. For instance, today I will be playing plumber and fixing a leak under the sink. Ugh! There is a reason that I do not like doing plumbing work! But it needs to be fixed. I have already heard that there might be some painting and electrical work that needs to be accomplished.

Even rainy weekends are not total washouts.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Frogs in the Pool

Northern Green Frog
(not in my pool)
Some mornings, especially after damp and rainy nights, I find many frogs who come to my pool for a visit. This morning there was what I believe was a record number of 11 frogs in my pool. Five living and six expired visitors.

Sadly, for many of the frogs who visit, it is their last swim in the warm waters. I dearly wish there was a frog repellent that could keep these small critters for wanting to take a swim in my pool.

Most of the frogs are northern green frogs, I thing, I never rally take that close a loo at them, but I try to rescue as many as possible although I do not know how long in it takes to receive a fatal dose in the chlorinated water of the pool.

It is a daily task--but we do it saving as many frogs as we can. I wonder how many of those saved return for a fatal swim.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, August 1, 2014

Last Enola Gay Crew Member Dies

Enola Gay Landing at Tinian after Dropping Atomic Bomb
According to CBS News, Theodore VanKirk, also known as "Dutch," died Monday, July 28, 2014, of natural causes at the retirement home where he lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia, his son Tom VanKirk said. He was 93.

Why was this man significant? 

Theodore VanKirk was the navigator of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress aircraft that dropped "Little Boy" - the world's first atomic bomb - over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The bomb killed 140,000 in Hiroshima. VanKirk was 24 years old at the time of the mission. He was the last surviving crew member of the 12 men who flew the Enola Gay mission over Hiroshima that day.
Enola Gay on Display at the
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Theodore VanKirk was a hero. A man who was in a place in time and did his duty as he was asked to do. The discussions which have ensued in the 69 years since the bomb was dropped do not diminish what was done which saved millions of Japanese and American lives because an invasion of Japan was not required. The impact of the bombs dropped by his crew and the crew of the B-29, Bockscar, which dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki three days later, have so far spared the world from the destruction associated the use of these weapons of mass destruction in the decades since their first and only employment.

Thank you for your service and your life Theodore VanKirk.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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