Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Musings - August 31, 2015

1. It is the last day of August! Wow. The year and the summer is flying by.

2. Sometimes what we think is fact is in reality interpretation based upon biases.

3. Mount McKinley is going to be restored as Denali.

4. Oil is headed below $40 per barrel. Rejoice for $2.00/gallon gas!

5. The Orioles have apparently packed in the season by losing 6 of 7 games on their most recent road trip, and 10 of their last 11 games. To say their performance is disappointing is an understatement.

6. NFL preseason football is an inferior product. The league needs to do something.

7. The tragic death of a fan at an Atlanta baseball game is a sobering reminder of the dangers associated with stadiums. Prayers for his family.

8. Interested in some of the history of birthright citizenship? Read about Wong Kim Ark, a cook during the late 1800's.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Don't Look into the Mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall--

I had a a sobering experience the other day as I happened to look into the mirror. 

What made this day different from others was that I had my glasses on and the mirror wasn't fogged over from a recently completed shower. It was afternoon and i had not shaved because I was working around the house doing projects.

When I looked into the mirror, everything was clear--clearer than it had been in many years. I could see details on my face that I had not noticed in a very long while.

I am not going to go into the long details of what I found on my face as I viewed it with increased clarity, but it was such a shocking experience that I have vowed to never again look at my self in a mirror while wearing my glasses.

Growing older is not something I think about on routinely and it is really difficult when I am confronted with the evidence that, despite my best efforts, it is happening. When I was younger, I wanted to appear and act older, that lasted until I passed the age that I always wanted to be. Now I want to be younger again. 

But, I still want to retain all of the my experiences!

Isn't that the way of life? I seem to have a  hard time being happy right where I am.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Snorkeling in the Caribbean

I never published the two other snorkeling videos that I made from our vacation this summer. 

One was of our first adventure on Grand Turk and the other was off a beach in Aruba.

Of the three snorkeling adventures we did this summer, I would say that the Aruba snorkeling off the beach was the best. It was also the least expensive since we just took a taxi to the beach, rather than participating in an organized tour.

I'm still playing with the color balance on my GoPro, but it seems to be getting better. There were huge differences in filming tactics between the Grand Turk and Aruba. For Grand Turk I had the GoPro on a head strap the entire time and it was mostly on. I couldn't aim it well and I got a lot of useless video.

For Aruba, I carried the GoPro on a strap and only filmed cool and interesting stuff. I made editing the collected images much easier. It took hours to reduce the Grand Turk adventure down to three minutes, and I'm sure it could be further slimmed. Editing Aruba was much faster, as was Curacao which I published earlier.

Starfish in Aruba
I like a few scenes in the Grand Turk video because the GoPro catches the the water entries off the boat and we did see a shark. The problem with the shark is that since the camera was on my head, I didn't capture the perfect images of it, at least in my mind. Additionally, every time I use my handheld camera, it shows up in the video, which is a bit annoying.

The Aruba video has a really neat scene of an eel trying to get at something in a hole at the bottom of the bay in which we were snorkeling.

And so, as summer comes to an end, I present the answer to every kid's first day of school question: What did you do this summer?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, August 28, 2015

Mid-Summer Pool Woes

It happened almost overnight, it seemed.

I have a nasty algae growth in my pool. It is worse because I misidentified it early on and theater it wrong. 

Now, it is everywhere and the pool is closed undergoing algae eradication.

Ugh. I've never had a problem this bad, but I have read this particular algae, mustard algae, loves rough surfaces and since my pool surface is old it can be especially favorable for the growth of this somewhat chlorine resistant type. 

My Pool Being Treated
Fortunately, I caught before it really took over and I should be able to get the pool reopened before the weekend. At least the pool color is not born or green. The image is of the pool after I brushed it down and applied the treatments. As for more pool activities, with morning temperatures in the 50's and afternoons in the low 80's, I'm not sure how much more swimming season actually remains.

I miss laying on a floatie in the pool--which, frankly, I have not done much of this year at all.

I expect a few more sunny afternoons are all that are left of the season.

I'm hoping for at least one more pool party.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Take: Signs of a Disintegrating Society

I know, the title is a bit ominous this morning. The news lately has really been in a downward spiral and it has caused me to pause and wonder, "How did we get here?"

Yesterday's senseless shootings in Virginia of the news team not only while they were on air, but also covered by the shooter on social media and then, I am told, he used social media to document his suicide is perhaps the most senseless act of violence I have been made aware of, and in a letter to explain or vindicate his actions he wrote, "Jehovah had told him to act."

ISIL's Plan to Take over the World
The killings yesterday in Virginia were even more senseless than the almost daily executions conducted by ISIL in the name of religious purity. Our news media is doing a great job shielding us from the reality of what millions of people face on a daily basis. We need to be more aware of what is happening across the globe rather than being so myopically focused upon a presidential election that is still over 14 months away. There are more immediate needs.

And then there is the loss of trillions of dollars of value around the world as the Chinese economy's bubble bursts and reality sets in that insular economics can no longer be sustained. The problem? Our economy is linked to theirs and we didn't even realize it.

Perhaps the fabric of society is unraveling.  People no longer are getting the moral guidance about how to act in trying situations. The "anything goes" approach has taken over and situational ethics has progressed to the point that if I can rationalize my actions in my head, then they must be justified.

The compass of life is spinning wildly.

Yes, I did just connect murder/suicide, ISIL, and China in one article.

People are searching, in the wrong places, to answer the timeless question about the meaning of life. Not finding a suitable answer, they are acting as if they are the center of the universe and no one else matters.

One of the lead articles in the Washington Post this morning asks: Will America Finally do Something to Stop the Gun-fueled Carnage? It proposes increased gun control laws, but I maintain that is not the answer.

People need to be taught to think about others and the impact of their actions upon those around them. Think before acting.

In Howard County, Maryland,  where I live, we have a program called Choose Civility. I have not been a big fan, especially when I get cut-off on the road by a car with the bumper sticker on it, but I am seeing the value in a program to begin to help people discover how to interact with others around them.

We need more civility to stem the disintegration of our society.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Orioles Grasping for Help

Mired in a six game losing streak which has seen them fall below .500 and move farther from the lead to 8 games out of first place, the Orioles' season is slipping away.

During this most recent stretch, the Orioles have lost 4, one-run games and have not had either the offense, defense, or pitching necessary to make a serious run in the division.

And it is not just the current losing streak that is rapidly drawing the season to a close. The Orioles have been terrible on the road this year, winning just 25 of 63 road games for a .397 winning percentage. That is not going to work, despite having a .597 winning percentage at home even after dropping their last four in a row coming off the last home stand.

There are just 37 games remaining in the season. The division is all but out of reach because they would need to win 27 (.730 winning percentage) of those games to have a reasonable chance at the division.  There is an outside chance at a wild card entry into the post season, as the Orioles are only 2.5 games out of the wild card. But in reality, none of that matters until they begin to start playing baseball as a complete team. gives them a 12.9 percent chance of making the post season.

To say that I am disappointed in the performance of the team is an understatement. This team has demonstrated a knack for late game heroics in the ninth inning which come up short, I am afraid that same thing may happen with the season--a late charge that sees them wind up just outside the playoffs.

But hey, it's baseball. I love baseball but get frustrated when good teams don't play up to their potential.

Let's Go O's! Make a run and make us proud, again!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

School Begins

The kids are back in school here in much of Maryland.
Lucas giving gifts to us as he
got off the afternoon bus

Yesterday was day one of a journey that will not end until June 2016. 

Jax and Ethan Ready for Day 1
It was also the beginning of a 13 year journey for my youngest grandson Lucas as he began kindergarten. One of those important milestones on the road of life. 

Ethan and Jackson continue their journey's in fifth and second grades. 

They are all getting so big. 

I was able to visit with each of them yesterday afternoon after day one and found them all excited about the beginning of the new school year.

Luke made some nice gifts for everyone. He rides a bus, although the school is close, it crosses a main highway and there are no sidewalks. 

Luke Fresh of the Bus with Gifts
Ethan is on the safety patrol this year. He remarked that he gets to open doors for people--he felt like a doorman.

Jax was just excited to be home and was recovering from having a wart removed from his foot. He had named the wart "Bob." I wasn't too amused and am happy not to be associated with a wart on his foot anymore.

The funniest thing that happened was when Lucas thought that he had forgotten his lunchbox. He turned around and was in a total state of concern. He put his hands to his face, similar to the scene form "Home Alone" and stated he forgot his lunchbox. It was safely in his backpack, however, and he was greatly relieved. 

Day One is over and now it is into the routine. 

Way to go guys!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Musings - August 24, 2015

1. The weekend is gone. Sometimes I think I work harder on weekends than I do during the week.
Makayla on the Couch

2. Makayla was on the couch the other day, relaxing. She gave me a look which seemed to say, do you really have to take a picture of this?
Patuxent Greens at Dawn
August 23, 2015

3. There is something mystical about greeting the new day on the golf course. Yesterday out Tee Time was before dawn and we arrived in time to warm up. It is hard to hit balls on the driving range and have no idea where they are going.

4. The Orioles certainly did not help their quest to repeat as American League East Champions by losing four straight games to the Minnesota Twins at home over the weekend. They are now 6.5 games out of first and headed to Kansas City to face a team which traditionally gives them trouble because they match up well. I am feeling the post-season slipping away.
Orioles Park at Camden Yards
August 19, 2015

5. Continuing the baseball theme, I snapped a realign interesting image of a rainbow over Camden Yards last week. I had hoped it was a sign of rebirth and renewal, alas, it was not to be. 

6. It looks as if it is going to be another rough day for the stock market. I wish that China would get their act together. My retirement funds are taking a nosedive!

7. Here is an interesting read from August 18, 1939, the review of The Wizard of Oz. Hmmm.

8. On this day, August 24, 79 (yup that is 79 as in 79 AD), Vesuvius erupted. 

9. OK, I just have to mention the birth of the twin pandas at the National Zoo. Really exciting for panda watchers of all ages. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Replacing a Window

Completed and Installed Window
It is amazing how the plans for some days get changed.

Yesterday, I was going to fix the frames around some windows that had deteriorated with age, only to find that one was in such a bad state of rot, that I wound up replacing the entire window because too much of the window was constructed using untreated lumber which had come into contact with the ground and dampness.


I had never replaced a window before. It was a bit daunting, the idea of tearing out a window and making a hole in the house that either would need to be filled by the window that I was installing, or an emergency call to a professional installer.

One of the Old Window Trim Pieces
Did I mention that it was a basement window behind a bush? A lot of fun to deal with. 

But, after only two trips to Lowe's and Home Depot, the project was complete.


My first window!

Sadly, the reward for good work is more work and I have been informed that the other two basement windows must now be replaced in order to match the one that I installed.

Nice work Bob!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Americans Save the Day

I read a encouraging story in the Washington Post about three Americans who averted a huge disaster by tackling and tieing up a gunman on a French high speed train.


According to the story, "A gunman opened fire on a packed high-speed train running from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday before being tackled and tied up by three Americans, according to family members and French officials, who said their quick work had foiled a major tragedy."

I like reading stories about Americans doing great things while they are traveling around the world. Too often, I hear about the "ugly" Americans who do not represent the best reflection of our country or society. 
Americans — Anthony Sadler (left) of Pittsburg, Calif., and Alek Skarlatos from Roseburg, Ore., helped to overpower the gunman along with Spencer Stone, who is hospitalized. British national Chris Norman of France help to tie him up. (AFP/Getty Images)

"French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised the quick work of the Americans, whom he said had helped avert a far bloodier situation." He later used a word that I have never heard to describe their actions: sangfroid, which means coolness under extremely trying situations.

That two of the men are in the military, one is a National Guardsman and the other in the Air Force, just makes the story that much better because the other hero is a student and they are three friends from middle school.

We should always be prepared to lend a hand and avert disaster when we can and these three proved that they we more than ready to meet the task they faced.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, August 21, 2015

My Take--The Constitution Cannot be Unconstitutional

It was widely reported that presidential candidate Donald Trump has declared that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is unconstitutional.


That makes no sense to me on so many levels.

He is reported to have said that it wouldn't hold up in court. This is one of those concepts that amazes me. The amendment is part of the Constitution. It cannot, by definition, be unconstitutional. And, because it is an amendment to the Constitution it is the basis for court decisions.

Get a grip.

Do we really need someone with that much ignorance and lack of history to be President? If the amendment is deemed flawed, it should be repealed. A similar situation existed with the 18th Amendment which was subsequently repeated by the 21st Amendment. 

If the people of the United States feel strongly that the 14th Amendment, which confers citizenship uno everyone born in the United States, an amendment should submitted  to repeal it, but going around and saying that is it unconstitutional is just, in a word, ignorant.

If we repeal the 14th Amendment, then we have truly lost our way in the world and we should consider sending the Statue of Liberty back to France.

Did you see the latest poll that the U.S. is only the 21st most free country in the world? We thought we were higher. We keep falling down the list, and people are shocked!

Pop quiz--which amendment to the Constitution took over 202 years to ratify?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Loss of August

It is happening.

Bills are arriving with due dates in September. I am feeling the loss of summer more with each new September due date. 

The days are growing shorter and many of the evening have been cooler.

The precession of the seasons and the months continues unabated despite my best efforts to remain in perpetual summertime.

Too soon the trees will drop their leaves, my pool will be closed, and my private yard will again become more public as nothing but bare branches separate my neighbors from me.

I feel the loss already, yet it is still summer. I am beginning to mourn something that I still have in anticipation of its loss.

How weird is that?

I need to enjoy each of summer's remaining day to their fullest and then stand tall as autumn arrives and find a way to enjoy each if its cooler days as well.

Well, it's a plan.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Presidential Questions

I think it is time for significant changes to the Presidential election process. 

The race for The White House begins earlier with each election season. The first thing I think we need to do as a nation is to limit the election season and not allow it to begin before February 1st of the year of the election. Nine months should be enough time to select a president. Babies only take that much time to be born.

Next, we need to change the candidate selection process. Instead of having a plethora of choices, We the People should decide upon the qualities we need in a president and draft that person to run for us. The way it is now, the candidates decide the issues, the people need to decide the issues and find the best person to serve. That is how the first few presidents were selected. There was no national primary system followed by a general election.

Finally, we need to continue to support the Electoral College system. The Electoral College has ensured the relevancy of the less populated states and rural areas of the country. Loss of the Electoral College would render anything other than the big cities irrelevant.

Maybe we can find a real person to be President.

We need one--and it surely in not "The Donald."

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Football? In August?

The NFL is desperately trying to give consumers a product that they can appreciate and identify with. 

How can they expect fans to appreciate meaningless games at regular season prices? 

NFL football in the stands is just not a lot of fun. Especially if someone happens to be cheering for the visiting team. There is a thuggish mentality that takes over. And the games do not matter.

Who really cares about a preseason football win? Look at the 2014 season. The Washington Redskins were 3-1 in the preseason , but wound up 4-12 during the regular season.

Conversely, the Indianapolis Colts were 0-4 during preseason, but finished the regular season 11-5.

I saw parts of some of the games this past weekend. The stands were mostly empty. 

The product is just not that good.

If preseason games were free, then they would be a good value. Alternatively, play the games in smaller stadiums and charge less per seat, like baseball! But since the real teams don't take the field until September, it is hard to get excited about meaningless games.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Musings - August 17, 2015

1. Teachers in some counties of Maryland report back to school today. Welcome back teachers, summer is over and it's time to get ready for the next school year.

Before the Start
Golf Carts and Golfers ready for the
Troy Whittemore Classic Golf Tournament
2. There is a lot of sadness as summer vacation comes to an end, but--summer is NOT over! Let's not hasten the demise of summer just because schools are gearing up. Autumn comes too soon as it is without helping it arrive sooner.

Hole Six at the
Troy Whittemore Classic sponsored by
3. I played in a golf tournament in Upstate New York yesterday. While my team did five or six strokes better than last year, we were hoping to do even better. 

4. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my introduction to golf! What a change. Instead of hoping to just hit the ball, I was actually planning how to execute specific shots.

5. How 'bout them Orioles? 18-2 winners over the Athletics yesterday, on a three game winning streak and creeping up to only four games out of the division lead. Good things are happening in Baltimore! More baseball is on tap for today!

Balloon over Hershey, PA
August 15, 2015
6. I had the opportunity to ride and look out the windows on most of my trip to and from Upstate New York this weekend. I saw a hot air balloon over Hershey, PA. 
Lights Reflecting on Cayuga Lake
August 15, 2015

7. I was able to take a few minutes and look at the stars and consider the reflections of the lights in Cayuga Lake on Saturday night. The scene was memorable and I tried to capture it. It made a better memory and image, I guess.

8. Reading the news of the past few days I find it amazing what can be condoned in the name of religion. ISIS has found a way to incorporate rape, sex slaves, murder, and who know what other atrocities and justify them as an offering to god. 

9. Did you read that North Korea now has its own time zone? Actually, it is reverting to the one it used until 1910. Maybe I can declare a personal time zone?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, August 15, 2015

An Historic Day: Old Glory Over Havana

I really do not know why I feel the way I do about reestablishing
The Flag being raised at the US Embassy
Havana, Cuba
relations with Cuba, but I am very happy that one of the last vestiges of the Cold War has finally been eradicated.

The raising of the Stars and Stripes over the Embassy in Havana yesterday, on a clear and beautiful August day, was the proper exclamation point to formally begin to reconnect with a country for which we have had an unreasonable paranoia for far too long.

I do not fully understand the Cold War, anti-communism mentality that vilified Cuba--but being unrepentant for so many decades is a travesty. Since 1961, the U.S. has fought a war in Vietnam and then subsequently normalized relations with that country--and we didn't win that war.

The anti-Cuban mentality that many people have is, in my opinion, misguided. Countries (for instance China) with far worse human rights track records are afforded most favored nation status. The embargo has not worked! What will work is entrepreneurship and capitalism. Open Cuba to the world commerce and the commerce of America. Our economic prowess is still a force almost unequalled on the planet and that is what will eventually bring hope, prosperity, and freedom to the Cuban people. 

It was an historic day and it coincided with V-J Day! Coincidence? I think not.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, August 14, 2015

My Take: Facial Recognition Software is a Problem

I've written before about the subtle but real ways that police and other government agencies are usurping our Fourth Amendment protections. There is a good summary in an article titled, What Does the Fourth Amendment Mean?

The latest in the instances where we need to critically review Fourth Amendment protections was highlighted in a New York Times article yesterday describing how the San Diego police department may be misusing facial recognition software. 

Imagine this--you are stopped by police for a traffic violation. Remember, most traffic offenses are not criminal offenses. The officer takes your picture to run it through facial recognition software and swabs your mouth to collect a DNA sample. 

As quoted from the article, here was the real world response to this situation:

Lt. Scott Wahl, a spokesman for the 1,900-member San Diego Police Department, said the department does not require police officers to file a report when they use the facial recognition technology but do not make an arrest. 
“It is a test product for the region that we’ve allowed officers to use,” he said of facial recognition software and the hand-held devices the police use to take pictures. “We don’t even know how many are out there” in the region.

And that is the real problem. "We don't even know how many are out there."

Why are protections from unreasonable police actions being allowed? Even worse, what is being done to control the technology and the images and DNA samples that were taken. How are these being handled? How long are they being stored? When will they be destroyed, especially more compelling since no criminal charges were files, and in the case of one of the men in the article, no charges of any kind were filed and he was not even suspected of breaking the law.

With the breaches of extremely sensitive and personal data that have splashed through the news lately on a federal government level, what reasonable expectation is there that data collected by local police departments is secure?

Unless there is a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is involved, personal information should not be collected especially since recent history proves that in an electronic form it cannot be protected.

I do not want my image as collected by law enforcement or my DNA profile available to hackers trolling the internet! And did I mention, that facial recognition software is not 100 percent accurate? There are probabilities associated with the identification and therefore it is possible for an innocent person to be caught up in a legal morass which ultimately will involve time, large sums of money, and lawyers to be exonerated.

This most personal and private of data needs the utmost protection, and even more important should never be collected and therefore not require protection.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Autumn in the Air

After weeks of sweltering, humid temperatures which often left me slipping wet from perspiration after just walking to the car after work, the past two days have definitely been harbingers of autumn.

I first noticed it yesterday afternoon while I was enjoying an extremely slow playing round of golf at The Timbers at Troy. The temperature was comfortable and the humidity was low. It was obvious that many other golfers also wanted to enjoy the pleasant afternoon because the course was full--and it was slow. It took 4 hours and 12 minutes to play 18 holes on the same course where a few weeks ago I played 2 hours and 58 minutes. I made my last putt with just enough visible light to line up my shot. But it was beautiful weather and I thoroughly enjoyed the outing.

The coolness of the impending autumn was far more noticeable this morning as I took the dogs out for their morning activity. The 63 degree temperature was a true slap in the face. It was, to use a word, crisp. I could imagine apples on the trees and leaves collecting in piles on my lawn. I went back out to look for the Persieds meteor shower and it was just cold.

But please, not for two more months!

I want to enjoy summer until October. Already the daylight has begun to fade all too soon. Sunset last evening was at 8:05 PM. Two short weeks ago it was 8:22 PM. We are losing over 2 minutes of daylight per day!

Enjoy the day! 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sunset to Sunrise Vacation

Sunset July 22, 2015
from the Square Grouper, Jupiter, Florida
In reviewing the images we captured during our vacation, it was surprising that even though the weather was great most of the days, Chris and I only captured one sunset and one sunrise that provided the classic images of which memories are made.

I enjoy sunrises and sunsets. The color saturation and the transition of the hues provide a constant stream of changing color.

Sunrise August 2, 2015
Port Everglades, Florida
aboard the Carnival Conquest
Even more interesting than realizing that we only captured one of each, was the fact that the sunset was imaged on the very first night of our vacation while in Jupiter, Florida, with friends and that the sunrise was taken from the balcony of our stateroom on the ship on the morning that we docked signifying the ending of our vacation. 

The setting and rising of the sun bookended our vacation, and nothing in between was nearly as spectacular.

I just found it very interesting--and I remember we watched for the sunsets every evening and I was awake for many of the sunrises--but none were as stunning as the sunset that started our vacation the sunrise that woke the world as we began our last day and traveled back to our day-to-day lives.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Going to the Dogs

Every so often we have the opportunity to dog sit for canines in the family.
Chris with Florence and Arthur

This week, we are watching not one, but two excitable, cute, adorable dogs. Florence and Arthur have rapidly become part of the family while they are staying with us. 

It is amazing how quickly they assimilate into the household. The funniest part is that Riordin, one of our cats, now considers them playmates and likes to join into their antics.

Makayla often just looks at them as if to say, "Really?"

It is all good, however. 

We have a great family dynamic in that we all share dog sitting duties when other members are out of town and all of the animals get along very well. 

Just another member of the pack!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Musings - August 10, 2015

Any questions?
Any Questions?
1. Thanks Chris, for putting up with me for 40 years!

2. Wouldn't it be great if signage was as clear as what we saw yesterday while visiting a winery in Western Maryland. Doesn't leave much doubt about which way to go. Frankly, it was hard to actually go the right way, the wrong way looked so inviting.

3. I want to go on another vacation where someone needs to poke me to assess that I am just relaxed.

4. Chaos--now that can be a lot of fun! Just add kids and dogs for the complete package.
Chris receiving a surprise Anniversary gift

5. I still have it! I was able to surprise Chris with a special anniversary gift last evening. And, I caught the response on camera!

6. I saw the new Misson Impossible movie over the weekend. It was good, but not great. Nice plot twists, but that is what I have come to expect.

7. Do you know what is better than spending Friday evening with friends drinking wine? Not much!

8. August seems determined to set the stage for another winter. The temperatures have already begun to cool. 

9. Shopping for new lights is hard work. There are too many choices and none are exactly right. 

10. Who wants to trust their lives to a self-driving car, especially in D.C. rush-hour traffic?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Weekend Repairs

Looking into the Garage Door Opener
Broken parts--the gears should be covered
When Chris and I returned from our vacation, one of the major mechanical devices which had suffered a catastrophic failure during our time away was the garage door opener.

Over the course of the week, we came to realize just how much we depend upon the garage door opener, partly because when I had the new garage door installed two years ago, I did not provide a mechanism for manually opening it from outside!

Broken gear cover part
That may have been a mistake. It is easy enough to open and lock from the inside, but from outside it is not possible. That meant that once the car was driven from the garage we had secure the garage door from inside and walk back through the house to return to the car and drive away.

It wasn't fun. 

I was able to repair, not replace, but repair, the garage door opener yesterday. I had ordered the parts and they arrived. Parts were a concern because the Stanley model 6500 garage door opener is not made any more and I was on the secondary market for them. Many of the potentially required repair parts are "no longer stocked." Fortunately, the one that I thought I needed was available!

Completed and repaired
It was not a simple repair. The biggest problem was that no instructions were provided and there was one part that caused me to perform one aspect of the repair three times before I was satisfied that I had it correctly. 

I knew it was going to be a multi-hour project. And it was.

But it works!

Once I applied the power and adjusted the travel of the garage door, it actually worked!

I was pleased. Chris later told me that she gave the project only about a 50 percent chance of success. I was a bit higher thinking I had a 70 percent chance of success. It really depended upon whether any critical collateral damage had occurred as the gear cover was chattering and flinging itself around the enclosed space.

Weekends are great times to get repairs accomplished. It is just too hard to attempt a multi-hour project after working all day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Remodeling Surprise

View of the Old-looking Bath
Looking in from the Door
It happens every few years when we head out on vacation. We return to find that Patrick and Tina have surprised us by updating or remodeling a room in our house.

This year it was the master bath! 

Our master bath was somewhat dated. Yes, Chris and I had added ceramic tile some years ago and removed the even more dated vinyl flooring, but the room just screamed "old!" 

New Bath View
The cabinet over the toilet (yes, the very same toilet that I repaired a leak in earlier this week) and the colors give the appearance of dated. I believe that too many of my family have been watching HGTV! I am constantly besieged with updating and remodeling ideas.
Looking in from the Door

But I have to admit, the new and improved room really "pops!" The crown moulding was a really nice touch and the removal of the cabinet over to toilet opens up the room. The swap out of the lights for daylight brightens the room and the new color scheme is one that is currently in vogue! 

New Bath and the Color Scheme
We can't forget the new mirror. The old one, which apparently had already been removed before the pictures were taken, was big and just hung there on the wall with no style. The new mirror has style and class. Even the cabinet supporting the sink was painted.

The removal of the window shelf and rebuilding the frame was a very nice touch.

It was a nice surprise to return home and have such a great anniversary gift waiting. Thanks to all who participated in the project.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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