Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Take - I Don't have to Like it

The issues of the day have become emotionally charged and draw all sorts of rude responses from immature people seeking to ensure their voices are heard.

Too often in our country one group of people are working hard to reduce or minimize the freedoms enjoyed by another group of people even though we live in the same state and country under the same Constitution!

Founding Fathers
I used to believe that as a society, we were better than that. But recent issued thrust into the national spotlight, have made it clear that the petty desire to impose one belief set at someone else's expense is still resident in our country.

The gay marriage issue became a hot button issue for many people. But don't forget other similarly divisive issues that are in the news: marijuana legalization, gun control, Confederate banners, immigration, and the death penalty. Each of these topics were in the news this morning and our nation is becoming polarized by the emotional nature of these issues.
Supreme Court

The Founding Fathers got it right when they established the Supreme Court to protect our freedoms. Whether I agree with the rulings of the Supreme Court on a personal and emotional basis, I am comforted that nine detached judges hear both sides of the emotional cases that divide us and review the Constitution to determine whether something should or should not be allowed.

I don't have to like the ruling, but I have to abide by it. 

The Constitution and the Supreme Court are the last line of defense against the erosion of our personal freedoms and our civil rights. Sometimes, they point out that we are denying others of their civil rights through the imposition of our personal or religious beliefs--and that protects us all from the abuse of power.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Musings - June 29, 2015

Buck Showalter Garden Gnome
1. It is the last Monday in June. The transition month is almost complete with July poised to assume its rightful place.

2. The Orioles ascended to the top of the American League East Division over the weekend. During early June they were 5 and a half games out of first and now they possess first place by percentage points. I'm not cheering too loudly, however, four teams are bunched at the top of the division separated by one game.

3. Garden gnomes, who would have thought so many people would get excited about getting a garden gnome made in the image of the Orioles' manager.

Turtles at Timbers
4. I was amazed yesterday, on the 12 hole of Timbers at Troy golf course to see two turtles. I won't tell what I think they were doing when before I could get my camera ready to image them.

5. Trouble in space? There have been three major failures, two of them American, during the past few months in trying to resupply the International Space Station. Perhaps the idea of commercializing space is still a dream and not a reality?

Pre-game Shopping
6. I am glad they finally captured the second prison escapee in Upstate New York. People can finally sleep well again. I was reminded of how secure people live in that area when on a news report one resident was quoted as saying they had to start locking their doors.

7. How small the world has become. The Greek financial crisis is affecting all of us.

8. Don't forget ISIL. Their forces recently murdered about 150 civilians in a Syrian town.

9. What do you do before a baseball game? Shop, of course! 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Toaster Cookoff

Replacing a toaster is no small task. 

It turns out that $$ doesn't mean better. 
The Lesser

As we replaced our beloved toaster of some decades, we realized that the first toaster we purchased as a replacement, although a recognizable name brand, it was slow and cooked unevenly. 

I like my toast evenly cooked--on both sides. 

Being unhappy with the expensive toaster, we bought a competitor and decided to conduct a "toast" off.
The winner

The results were clear.

The Black & Decker cooked faster and more evenly. The almost twice as expensive KitchenAid did not cook evenly and it took almost one minute longer to toast bread to the same level.

We used some scientific rigor in the test: the same bread and set the toasters to the same cooking level--medium, and pushed the levers to begin toasting at precisely the same time.

In the end, the more expensive toaster was returned in favor of the less expensive toaster which had fewer bells and whistles. 

And in the end, we had four pieces of toast for breakfast!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, June 27, 2015

June, Rain and Baseball

Garden Gnome
The rain is falling again this morning. It is supposed to rain all day long--even during the Orioles game for which I have tickets this evening. And I am excited about getting the Buck Showalter garden gnome! Is that the only reason to go to a game? No--but I did change my tickets from Friday night to get the gnome!

Rain can be very depressing, especially when it fall all day during one of the precious weekend days. Weekends are those most precious of days, especially during the summer, when I plan outdoor activities.

June is such an important month. It is the official transition from springtime to summer--just a short week ago. I already feel the summer slipping away.

The rain just makes it a bit worse.

Indoors projects are for the wintertime, not the summer.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, June 26, 2015

What to do on a Rainy Evening

Chris and Lucas Watching the Storm
I love the sound of the rain on the roof. 

During some of the past few evenings, we have had rain and storms move through the area. Some of the storms were fierce, like the one Tuesday evening that seemed to hang over the house providing a continuous lightening and thunder show. It is especially exciting when the lightening flash and the thunder boom are simultaneous. The storm was right on top of us.

It was awesome. It was a true show. In advance of Independence Day, it was a great show. And it was free for the enjoyment.

It is even more fun to watch the power of the storm with someone. In this case, we were watching Lucas and he joined us on the porch to enjoy the storm. It was fantastic, until the wind came up and started blowing the rain into the porch which meant it was time to move inside.

Chris had Lucas and I had my trusty dog, Makayla, who did move much closer to me as the thunder got louder. Lucas's dog, Ben, was seeking shelter in the bathtub.

It was a great evening to watch a storm.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Take - Boston Bomber Sentencing

It happened as expected, yesterday. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston bomber, was sentenced to death for the deaths and injuries he caused.

I'm not sure how I feel about the death penalty especially given the long process that will ensue before it is ever completed.

Maybe it would be better to leave the convicted in jail without the possibility of parole to consider the crimes they committed for as long as they live, rather than risk martyring them.

The news of brutal executions in the Middle East attributed to ISIL, the most recent coming just days ago as reported in the New York Times article about Grisly ISIS Video Seems aimed at Quashing Resistance,  has caused me to evaluate whether the legal system of the United States should continue to levy a penalty that is being ever more frequently and brutally imposed elsewhere in the world. 

I was encouraged to hear the condemned admit guilt and apologize for his crimes. I had been conflicted regarding his role and felt that perhaps he was heavily influenced by his brother. But in the end it was a fact that he committed the crimes.

I pray that the survivors of the Boston bombing find peace, repair their lives and overcome what was violently taken from them on that day. Our focus should be on them, especially now that justice has spoken. We must assist them in rebuilding their lives and finding a way to live with the tragic events of that day and defeating the debilitating grief, injuries and losses they sustained.

The story should no longer be about the terrorist, it is about those who survived and remain and carry the emotional and physical scars of that day in and on themselves. Never forget, but overcome.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Take - Confederate Symbols are not the Real Problem

The reactionary mood across the country, and especially by both South Carolina and Mississippi, to remove Confederate symbols in the wake of the tragedy in Charleston seems misguided. A New York Times article titled, Protests of Confederate Symbols Spreads Nationwide describes the activities underway in many areas. 

Attempting to remove Confederate symbols represents a new wave revisionist history and will only serve to move that turbulent period of American history further from the memory of most people. It may also serve to make the Confederate banner a more divisive part of our present struggles for identity and unity.

An interesting opinion piece in the Washington Post titled Here's what the debate over the confederate flag and state's rights really means points out some critically important issues that need to be addressed and how this nation needs to come to grips with one of the fundamental issues which contributed to the Civil War--States' rights.

With that written, it is also important to note that the Civil War continues to be known as the War of Northern Aggression in some areas of the country. This characterization is far more divisive and destructive than the banners associated with the Confederacy.

Americans died fighting for both sides during the brutal conflict. Roughly 620, 000 soldiers died during the Civil War compared with 644, 000 in ALL other conflicts combined. 

Even Maryland will be Dealing with the
Renewed Efforts to Ban Confederate Symbols
Similar to the gun debate, the Confederate symbols themselves  cannot commit a crime. Banning them does not prevent the problems nor the divergent views of people who commit heinous crimes against their fellow citizens.

My take is that banning the symbols and removing them from sale, as some stores are doing, will only make them more divisive and those who display them more rebellious and potentially more exclusive. They will become symbols of an underground groups who are support discriminatory and violent views contrary to the norms of society.

It is more important to educate people about the meaning of the symbols, their proper place in the American experience and as a reminder that we must be ever vigilant to ensure the strength of our Republic by balancing federal power and states' rights.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge. MD

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

When the Storm Passes, There is Light

Jeremy looking across a pond waiting
for our revised Tee Time
Saturday evening Tropical Depression Bill made its appearance on the Maryland region. That was concerning not only for the huge amounts of water which deluged the area and the locally heavy flooding, but also because we had a 5:45 AM Tee time the following morning.

The guys and I look forward to our golf outings. We get to spend time away on carefully groomed lawns hitting small white balls with impressive looking clubs. And we enjoy it.

I guess there is something almost prehistoric about it--using the clubs to bring home the prey.

Despite the heavy rains, which were just ending as we departed our homes about 5AM to head off to the course, we were undeterred. The weather report indicated that clear skies would develop shortly after dawn and the day would be fabulous.

It was Father's Day, after all. We just had to be able to play.
At the First Tee

As we checked in at the clubhouse, we were relieved to find the course was open, although there was some question as to whether the back nine would be playable. They asked us to delay about 15 minutes so they could finish ensuring the safety of the course.

By the time we teed off, the skies were clearing and the day was dawning perfect. And we were off for another morning of golf and competition.

Yes, there were some wet spots--and occasionally a ball hit into the middle of the fairway found a recently developed water feature, but all in all, it was a great morning for golf and we finished our round just as the day started to get hot and humid.

In retrospect, we made a good decision to head off to the course and were rewarded by playing a fun round of golf.

Sometimes we just need to press on with our plans and not worry too much about the weather!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday Musings - June 22, 2015

1. Happy Monday. Summer officially began yesterday at 12:39 PM EDT. It has finally arrived.
Father's Day

2. Happy Father's Day bleated wishes to all of the father's. I had a great day and even took a day off from my blog to play golf and spend time with my family. 

3. Druids--where are the druids when you need them to help celebrate the solstice?

4. The US Open, golf tournament, was been very exciting. Congratulations to Jordan Spieth on his victory.

5. The Orioles played one of those wild and crazy games where they blew a 7-0 lead and were losing 9-7 before finally winning in Toronto yesterday 13-9. There were a lot of hits and many exciting plays. Perhaps the O's are beginning to get into that winning form again.

6. Describe the perfect Father's Day? Get up early and hit the golf course followed by a day long celebration with all of the assembled family punctuated by a phone call from those who could not attend. 

7. Chris hosted an end-of-the-year party for her school on Friday. It was a great way to place the final period on the 2014-2015 school year. It was a good for me to reconnect with many of the people she works with.

8. Just a note, while the summer solstice is frequently referred to as the longest day of the year, the truly longest day is coming on June 30, 2015 when we will get to experience a leap second

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, June 20, 2015

We Are Different, because of Forgiveness

I grimly watched the bond hearing for the man who murdered nine people in Charleston, South Carolina. 

I, like many Americans, am in shock that someone could enter into a church, pray with people for over an hour and then kill nine members of the congregation in cold blood. 

But at the bond hearing yesterday, which was televised, I heard something that reminded me why Christ-following Americans, are different from much of the world. Despite losing loved ones in a violent and tragic way, many of the relatives who addressed the murderer forgave him and asked God to be merciful with him. One quote from the session as reported in the Washington Post article titled, From victims’ families, forgiveness for accused Charleston gunman Dylann Roof is below:

At Roof’s bond hearing, Nadine Collier, the daughter of 70-year-old shooting victim Ethel Lance, was among those who addressed him. “I forgive you,” Collier said, her voice breaking. “You took something very precious from me. I will never talk to her again. I will never, ever hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”

I was also amazed at the opening words of the judge who urged people to remember that there were victims and hunting people on both sides of this crime, those who lost loved ones as well as the family of the murderer.

We are different because we retain the concepts of mercy and forgiveness. 

I was appalled at the reaction of the Fox Newscaster Gretchen Carlson who seemingly could not comprehend the compassion that the relatives of the victims showed towards the killer. It almost seemed that she wanted them to utter forth the wrath of God upon his soul--but they did not. Even in the middle of their most personal pain and grief they forgave him.

And that is what makes us different from much of the rest of the world.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, June 19, 2015

School Year Endings

Today is the last day of school for Howard County, Maryland. While I no longer have any children actually attending school in Howard county, my life is closely affected by the schedule because Chris works for the school system.

And so, it is with much relief and some trepidation that I announce that it is time for Summer Vacation! Eight weeks, a very short time, to plan and execute vacations and dreams that will last for another whole year.

I remember when I was in school and I looked forward to summer vacation. Actually, I looked forward to not going to school. Some summers the time off just dragged on endlessly, but I always found ways to fill the time and generally did not complete the list of chores that I was left with on a daily basis.
Summer Vacation 2013

It was a time different from today. There were no video games or computers and the TV consisted of four channels--ABC, NBC, and two CBS offerings. Staying inside the house on a sunny day was not an option. Exploring the rural countryside in which I lived was the plan of the day. Every day.  

The freedom of summers eventually went away during High School. I either worked at a camp or worked at a job. But even so, it was time off from studying and the grind of read, lecture, study, and test. 

To all of the teachers--enjoy the summer and may all of your dreams come true. Some of you are completing distinguished careers in education and will not be returning to the classroom during August, enjoy your newfound freedom! You have earned it.

To the students--this is the best time of your life. Make something of your summer. Don't lose it by believing that there will be time tomorrow.  Tomorrow is there for you to experience something different yet again.

Although I do not celebrate summer vacation anymore, I enjoy the memories and vicariously experience the joy of eight weeks of freedom through those around me.

Happy Summer Vacation. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Technology Creates Long Lunch Lines

The cafeteria at work experienced a technology upgrade two weeks ago. 

They received new computers, or cash registers I'm not sure which, that have created nothing but problems.

It is clear that the people manning the checkout positions did not receive any training before hand. The new systems, while shiny and new are slow and there have been long lines to checkout ever since they got the new computers.

I have noticed some other things about the newly deployed systems. They require the cashiers to move through multiple menus to document and record purchases. The old systems had everything on the same screen. From this standpoint, the ergonomics of the new machines seem bad. They are, in a word, cumbersome. I am afraid there will always be lines because more inputs are required to complete a transaction.

Sometimes the new shiny technology isn't better than the older proven systems.

I don't like standing in long lines for lunch because my hot food turn cold.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tiki Torch Statue

Lighted Tiki Torch Statue
Until last evening, I never thought of Tiki torches as art objects.
But now, I have my own Tiki torch monument. It appeared, magically yesterday afternoon. Chris had a great ideas and executed it as a tropical surprise.

And it comes in different forms--there is the normal appearance and the lighted view.

Maybe it is my own personal statue. I think it actually looks like lighted umbrellas in a stand. 

But it is a nice sight around the pool and it goes well with the beach decor. 

It was an interesting coincidence as last evening was also the first time that I noticed the fireflies were making their presence known. It was nice to see them back making the trees sparkle in the waning light. 

I hope the fireflies stay away from the Tiki torches.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Weekend Projects

In the middle of the project
New light fixtures to replace old and dated fixtures with new LED style lights topped the weekend list of home improvement projects.

The weekend was characterized by a relaxed, yet productive approach to routine maintenance projects. There is always so much to do around the house. 

Between the yard and updating the 24 year old infrastructure to keep it current, there is more than enough to keep me busy. 
New LED energy efficient light

I am truly amazed. I would love to laze in the pool all day, but the house would quickly become a maintenance nightmare.

It is better to keep up with it. 

I couldn't afford to get behind it. In thinking about it, home maintenance really fuels the economy. I just replaced the heat pump  and two years ago there was a new roof. 

I guess it all keeps the economy moving.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Musings - June 15, 2015

1. This is the week of the Summer Solstice. Next Sunday is Father's Day and the Summer solstice (for the Northern Hemisphere). Bring on Summer!!
Deer Walking Across the Golf Course

2. Golf can be a frustrating game, but it always seems that I run across wildlife--or they run across me. This deer walked across in front of me just after I had teed off.
Ethan at his Induction

3. Congratulations to Ethan for being inducted into the Elementary School National Honor Society! Good job!

4. The Orioles failed to complete the sweep of the team which shall remain nameless from the north--but they have won 5 of their past 6 and are playing much better. 
Around the Pool

5. What to do on a hot, steamy Sunday afternoon? The pool of course!

6. It is amazing how many projects need to be done around a house. The problem is that I have to be home to do them--and I was this weekend.

7. The Magna Carta turns 800 today! It was signed on June 15th, 1215. Read about it in the New York Times.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Yard is Alive

Praying Mantis in the Grass
It was the motion that attracted me.

I saw something moving through the grass and I had to look closer. At first I though it might just be the wind moving the blades, but on closer inspection it became clear that the movement I was seeing was not the wind.

It was a small, maybe an inch a half long praying mantis. 

It was incredibly difficult to get a good image of the bug. It was small and green, and there was a lot of green in my camera's field of view. Trying to snap an image where the praying mantis could be seen too time--and I was afraid that the bug would move along. As it turned out, the praying mantis seemed to enjoy the attention and posed for me on the blade of grass for quite a wile while I clumsily took its picture.

While researching the mantis clan, I discovered that they make good pets! Really! Well, not in my house. We have a definite "death to insects" policy. Spiders, which are not insects,  are generally relocated and not exterminated.

I wonder if praying mantises [Thanks, Dick] eat stink bugs?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Lights on the Water

Lights on the Pool
Art, such as it is, can be found in many unique places.

Last evening I was sitting by the pool, contemplating whether I wanted to slip into the water for a late night swim, and I noticed the reflections of the lights on the water.

Our pool is surrounded by rope lights that illuminate the area. I had never considered the patterns that the lights make on the dark water.
Lights on the Pool 2

It was a continually changing pattern of reflected lights on the surface of the water as I slowly moved my feet to create gentle waves.

It was soothing.

It is almost summer!

What could be better? A lazy evening and gentle ripples in the pool.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Win is a Sweep

The Orioles put together their best three-game series of the season and completed a sweep of the Boston Red Sox last evening.

I had the pleasure of attending the game and was treated to a team that, at least for a few days, put it together with complete team wins. The pitching was solid, the batting was clutch, and the defense was spectacular. It was the kind of series which makes baseball fun and sweeping a perennial American League East rival makes it all the better. 
The View from my Seat
June 11, 2015
Orioles Park at Camden Yards

The game had  almost everything to please the baseball fan. There were home runs and there was an inning in which the Orioles scored a run without getting  hit.  For a team that over relies on the home run for scoring, that was an important development. 

The crowd was alternatively into the game, but the Red Sox did not go away easily. They continued to chip away at the Orioles leads, but in the end succumbed and the game ended--but not after a challenge which brought a fourth batter to the plate during the top of the ninth inning.

I hope that this series marks a turnaround for the team. They have been playing mediocre baseball and I hope that is a thing of the past as the team begins to play up to its potential.

The weakness at right field remains a big concern. The need for a solid defensive right fielder is apparent when late in the game the speedy Norman Reimold , who started the game in left field was shifted to right field and the light hitting David Lough was inserted into left field to shore up the defense. Reimold made his presence known almost immediately by shagging a well hit ball that just an inning earlier would have probably been a double!

Orioles baseball. The right moves at the right time and a one in the win column!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Speedy June and Temperatures Rising

Although it got off to a cold start, the temperatures are heating up and the month of June is transforming itself into "that" month. 

What is "that" month?

It is the month where activities shift from inside to outside. Where pool time becomes the norm and sitting inside watching TV is a distant memory associated with the frigid days past.
Rhododendron in Bloom

It is the month where when confronted with fifteen spare minutes, I grab a golf club and head outside to my net to try and learn how to swing more efficiently and make better ball contact. It is a process, but I feel like I am beginning to have small breakthroughs--I just wish I could get to a real range to help quantify these small changes and see if they are real. 

Today is June 11th! The month is flying by too fast! (I actually wrote June 10th and then realized that I had already completed that day!)
Poppies in Danby

Even the June flowers are passing. I enjoyed a second springtime while I was in New York last weekend, being treated to a rhododendron is full bloom and the poppies in my parent's yard. They reminded me of my own flowers whose time has come and gone.

I know there are major events looming in the future--like the end of school, end-of-the-year parties, and vacations; but the ever increasing pace suggests that these event will be over before I want them to arrive.

I am beginning to appreciate the planning that goes into making a trip successful, but I am really looking forward to the day when a vacation is not limited to two weeks during the summer--but maybe it could be four months during the winter!

I dream of renting a villa in Italy or Argentina and living there on a semi-permanent vacation.

I am enjoying life a day at a time--but, even then it is passing so quickly that just as I begin to enjoy a day, it is over and time to do it all again.

Stop to smell the flowers because they'll be gone tomorrow when you find the time.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dangerous Traffic Patterns

Walk at your own risk!

I have become aware of very dangerous traffic patterns--dangerous for pedestrians in parking lots.

I noticed the dangerous intermingling of traffic and pedestrians at the local Chik-fil-A where I dined (or ate) last evening.

The drive through line circles through the parking area twice meaning that people walking from their cars need to be extra vigilant to ensure they, or their kids, don't become a hood ornament. I visited the establishment at the height of the evening diner hour and was appalled at hour many drivers apparently did not recognize the dangers in the area--they sped through the lots as quickly as possible.

Let the pedestrian beware!

I believe that the designers of parking and traffic patterns need to become more aware of the dangerous conditions faced by pedestrians--more dangerous because of the dense traffic patterns and lots of moving vehicles and people.

More importantly, we drivers and walkers need to be aware of the dangers in many parking areas and not become distracted while walking or driving. 

It is dangerous out there.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Storms Across the City

Last evening, the entertainment consisted of watching and listening as the thunder storms rolled across the area.

Sitting on the covered porch with Chris and a glass of wine watching the lightening approach and the thunder grow louder is a spectacular reminder of the power contained in these storms.

It was especially exciting at one point when there were about five bolts of lightening followed by thirty seconds of thunder.

The temperatures were very moderate, near 70 degrees and the cool air actually felt refreshing in advance of the storm. 

I love the clean smell in the air after the rains have cleansed the pollutants and refreshed the day.

Makayla, my faithful Keeshond, doesn't really enjoy the storms the way that I do, but she faithfully took up her position next to me to watch and listen to the building storm. 

Another evening at home. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday Musings - June 8, 2015

Mom's 80th
1. Happy Birthday, Mom!  Today is the day.

2. I'm looking forward to a weekend at home--next weekend!

3. Family. It's the one to which you belong, own it!

4. Ever notice how every family has a drama that no one really wants to admit?

5. The Orioles won a series! They took two out of three from Cleveland!

6. And we have a Triple Crown winner! For the first time since 1978, and for the 12th time ever, a horse has won the Triple Crown! Way to go American Pharoah.

7. June's first week has been cold! Let's hope the weeks will continue to get warmer.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Chris and Mom
June 6, 2015
They happen every year whether we want them to or not, that would be birthdays.

Yesterday we celebrated a significant milestone birthday for my mom. The family gathered from across the country to be there for the matriarch of the family. It was good to see members of the family that we gather with only infrequently.

Milestone birthdays, like Mom's, remind me of the incredible ways in which I have been blessed.

And my mom is one of those rich blessings that I too often take for granted.

Thanks mom. You are awesome.

The picture is the two women in my life.

-- Bob Doan, on the road in PA

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dunkin Donut Morning

Dunkin Donut
Williamsport, PA
June 5, 2015
Driving to New York yesterday was a pleasant experience because we departed the house at about 5am. Early enough to beat traffic.

The only mistake was stopping for coffee in Williamsport, PA, about 8am at a local Dunkin Donut. Wow. Traffic was backed up into the highway in both directions to get in the drive through line and inside, the line was long and slow.

Deciding that coffee was worth the stop, we stayed and had a great conversation with the man and his grandson in front of us in line. Noticing all of the children, we inquired and discovered that it was the first day of summer vacation. Awesome.

Bring on the summer even if it is only 57 degrees. I probably looked funny in my shorts and sandals while they were in coats. But hey, I'm not going to give into the cold.

Did someone say picnic?

-- Bob Doan, writing from Danby, NY

Friday, June 5, 2015

Overcast and Rainy

View up the Driveway on a
Gloomy and Overcast Day
It was another June day and another example of high temperatures in the 60's with overcast and rain. 

And so another June day is in the books--gone and hopefully forgotten. The temperatures need to start climbing into the 70's and then 80's to get us back onto track.

In the good news department, the Orioles managed to stop their losing streak at 5 with a 3-2 win over the Astros in Houston yesterday. The bats are still mostly missing. The season is going to get real long if the team doesn't heat up soon. They are on to Cleveland today. It is time to start winning consistently.

Back to the weather--the 10 day forecast is for more gloom but some moderation in temperatures.

I hope that is true.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Cool June Evening

Warming up the Fire Table
The promise of a warm June is waning as the temperatures have been significantly below normal for the pas couple of days, with the expectation of remaining cool for the immediate future.

Continuing the trend of running 15-18 degrees below the normal highs, today's expected high temperature of 65 degrees will be 15 degrees below normal.

In english that means, it's gonna be too cold!

I have made up my mind, I am not going back to long pants and have remained true to the promise of June by wearing shorts in the evening when I get home! 
Chris Around the Fire Table

What is there to do on a cool, wet June evening? Fortunately, nothing except slow down (which is something that I have needed to do for a while) and reconnect.

I did get the pool cleaned up and ready for the weekend, however, the cool temperatures are gradually lowering its temperature back into the "kids only" zone.

A nice bottle of wine, some time together around the fire table and watching a movie for the evening. Last evening represented a huge change from the recent activity pattern and a calm prelude to what promises to be a high energy and activity weekend.

Looking to the future, the temperatures begin a rebound during the weekend!

Bring on the sun and heat.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Presidential Circus

What else could it be called, but a circus? An electoral circus. That so many people have declared themselves to be  candidates for President and also because there is no clear heir apparent, it is clear evidence that there is a vacuum of leadership in the United States. 

I chuckle each time another candidate declares that they are running for the nation's highest office. By some counts, there will be 6 Democrats and potentially 15-20 Republicans running for the leadership of the nation.

The problem? No one seems to have the complete package of what we need to lead this nation .

Some are louder than others. Some funnier--but still serious. More than a couple have lost miserably before in the primaries and it makes me wonder what they have to offer now that wasn't obvious before?

And then there are some new voices out there. But there are so many voices crying out for attention that they are drowning each other out. 

A couple of the new voices have experience being governors of states--generally, history shows they make better Presidents than senators.

It all bears close watching. I do admit there are a few that I definitely do not support and two or three than I am listening to very closely and beginning to check their credentials. 

It is going to be a wild 17 months until the 2016 general election.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Adventure of the Ring

I was born from fire and shipped to a jeweler named Schooley's in an upstate New York city called Ithaca, some 40 years ago. 

Gleaming and gold, sitting in the display case I thought I was home. A few couples looked at me, but I was plain in comparison to some of my neighbors. I enjoyed basking in the bright lights of the display case during the day and then being safely locked up in the safe at night. Life was good.

One day, a young couple in their teens, barely out of high school, checked me out. And they found a mate from nearby that looked very similar to me, only smaller. They talked about a wedding, and tried us onto their fingers. But it was clear they had not nearly enough money to buy us both, but the nice man, named David, who ran the store made some size adjustments and inscribed initials and a date on us. Clearly, an important change was coming. The initials were RJD-CLM and the date was 8-9-75. Then he locked both of us away together in the safe. 

It was quiet and dark and I knew that something important had happened, but I was happy. A short while later, the couple returned and we were placed in a plush boxes and departed the store, forever.

A few days later, at a big ceremony, I was reintroduced to the finger that I had met a few months before. The finger belonged to Bob, and although I didn't know it at the time, we were going to be inseparable. My mate was placed on Chris's finger and we began our new lives as wedding rings.

Bob had some adjustment issues the first couple of days we were together. He was constantly taking me off his finger and putting me back on. It was weird. But over time, we settled in together and I am sure Bob didn't give me much thought. 

As a few years went by I was with Bob and Chris as the moved to different cities including Miami, Syracuse, and Denver. Life was busy and exciting. Small children arrived and we eventually found ourselves in Rome, NY. Bob was busy with his career and Chris was tending the children. 

One day, Bob was called out to do an important function and he had to take me off his finger for safety reasons. I was upset and so when the opportunity arose, I found a way out of his pocket and onto the active flight line at Griffiss AFB, NY. Bob didn't even notice me as I rolled away from him. I was free!

When I stopped rolling along the concrete I came to rest under a fire extinguisher near a B-52.  I realized that I was alone, cold, and had no ability to move.

I was afraid. Bob, it turns out noticed that I was missing and commenced a search for me. A big, burly Master Sergeant found me and we were reunited. I was happy to be back on Bob's finger where I remained, happy for another almost 36 years. 

During that time, we saw the world. We were never apart. He went to Japan, Korea, across America, all over Europe, and finally to his current home. He learned to dive, played racquetball, and learned most recently golf. I became covered with grease and muck when he worked on cars or in the garden, but we were always together and life developed a sense of normalcy. He has this weird habit of twisting me when he is thinking or playing games. It reminds him of how close we are and what I mean to him.

About a month ago, I felt the need to sample freedom again. Life, I guess, had been too good. 

I waited for my chance to head out on my own and it came one evening in Denver. Bob had a long day and didn't drink enough water. The combination of the cold and the elevation created a condition where Bob was very dehydrated--I saw my opportunity to  explore the world. While he was fueling the rental car, I slipped off his finger and he never noticed.

I was free! I had now wheels and could explore the world on my own. But I was on the floor and really couldn't see out the windows. 

I don't know when Bob noticed that I was missing, but I was in a car and driving around Denver without him.

Freedom came with a high price. I thought I would be happy, but I was cold. I had forgotten the cold of being alone. Bob's finger is warm. I missed Bob's finger, but was convinced that I would never see it again and so I began the prepare for my new life--whatever that would be. 

Would I be found and melted down into some other piece of jewelry? I hadn't thought of that before. Would I be discarded?  That would be terrible. 

Bob, it turns out, realized that I was missing the very next morning as he was preparing to board his flight at Denver's airport. He immediately called the hotel and the rental car company to report my loss and initiate a search.
Home, on Bob's Finger!

I can't recall exactly what happened while I was free for a couple of weeks in the car,  but after a while I was processed through an official looking place and placed into a dark package. The Fedex people over the course of about a week returned me to Bob, where I was happily reunited onto his finger. 

My traveling days are over. It was terrible being away from Bob. Although I was free, I missed my special place on his finger. When he slipped me back over his knuckle last evening, I knew I was home. I was back in the place where I belong representing 40 years of marriage and family. I'm glad he had not replaced me and never gave up hope that I would be recovered. 

It turns out that I am a bit thinner than when I first was united with Bob, as is my mate who is on Chris's finger, but I am happy to be back. One of Bob's favorite movies is the Wizard of Oz--and I remember at the end of the movie that Dorothy says that the next time I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with.

And now, for the next 40 or more years!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday Musings - June 1, 2015

1. May departed and June arrived overnight. 2015 is into its sixth month already.

2. Rain is forecast for most of the day and into tomorrow. It could put a damper on the GORC Pirates final game.

3. I am still amazed at the complexity of golf--it is far more than hitting a small white ball as far as you can. There is a lot of strategy in how each hole is played.

4. The Orioles managed to secure another loss with some uncharacteristically poor pitching yesterday. Even with the loss, they remain only 2 game out of first in the "up for grabs" AL East.

5. I am beginning to move into vacation mode. The final plans for the summer are almost completely in place. It is going be exciting.

6. There is something refreshing and reviving about jumping into the swimming pool at the end of a hot afternoon and then sipping a glass of cool white New York table wine around a table with some health conscious munchies.

7. I have been enjoying the dawn breaking earlier each day. The light is gathering by 5AM with local sunrise at 5:42AM this morning.
American Pharoah at the Kentucky Derby

8. The third leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, will be run on Saturday. Will American Pharoah become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978?

9. Get outside and enjoy the day. Each one is new and different.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
My Zimbio
Top Stories