Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Take: Russians in Syria

The failure of US policy in the Middle East, the continued strength of ISIL, and the incredible refugee problem that is swamping Europe are all reasons that we should welcome active participation by the Russians and other countries to find solutions in the tinder box area.

Going it alone has not worked, the US has neither the will nor the resources to restore order to the region. Our policies inherently contradict themselves. How can we at the same time work to remove the Assad regime in Syria while also defeating ISIL which seeks to fill the power void without offering an alternative to either? It is a doomed policy and the citizens of the region who are fleeing recognize that nothing good has or will come from it.

I think it may be time that the US rekindles an old WW2 relationship, gets past the Cold War and recognizes that Russians aren't Communists anymore. We have tried to clean up a few of their messes in the past, like Afghanistan, and now maybe they can help us with a problem that clearly is larger than we have resources to commit.

There is a fairly insightful OpEd piece titled, The U.S. cannot pass Syria on to Putin, in the Washington Post this morning that helps describe the state of play and outlines some options for US policymakers. 

In my mind, we need to realize, especially now that the Russians have arrived to help, that the Assad regime will continue in Syria. Sadly, we can't solve problems in a region where everyone is an enemy and no one is an ally. We have seen the results of the power vacuum that is created. I am not saying that we have to like the continuation of Assad's Syrian leadership, it is just something that we need to use as building block to regional stability.

Simon Jenkins offers an opinion thought piece about Putin and the Syrian situation in The Guardian this morning titled, Why the west should listen to Putin on Syria. In the opening sentence of the article, Jenkins writes: "Putin is right. Everyone knows Putin is right, that the only way forward in Syria, if not to eternal slaughter, is via the established government of Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese and Iranian allies."

To be successful in the new world, we need to get over our self-aggrandizement mentality and begin to see opportunities to work with other countries to bring peace and stability to the troubles regions of the world. It is clear the American people are not willing to devote the treasure or the talent necessary to solve the problems of the Syria and ISIL on our own--hence, we need help. Granted, the Russians may not be the calvary that we expected to come rising over the hilltop, and they are largely untried and untested in situations like exist in Syria, but to quote a movie line, "short help is better than no help."

While we can focus our energy on the political events here in the US, the situation in Syria is not going away and people are dying every day. Maybe it is time to try something new and work collaboratively with other countries to implement a lasting solution.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Orioles Mathematically Eliminated

It happened last evening as the visiting team made a stirring comeback during the 8th inning and then sealed the victory in the 9th inning. 

As the Season Ends
The Orioles post-season hopes were officially terminated, with prejudice!

With 6 games remaining to be played, the Orioles have been mathematically eliminated from the post-season. There will be no post-season baseball in Baltimore this October.

The Orioles have scored three runs during their last four games--all in the second inning of last nights blown game. Perhaps the end of the season cannot come too quickly. After getting their record to .500, they have lost four straight games and are likely to finish the season with a losing record. Given that the Orioles are playing the division leading Blue Jays and then finish the season with a four-game series against the team that shall remain nameless from up north, it is very likely that they could finish eight or nine games below .500.

I will be attending tonight's game to relish the baseball atmosphere and hold fast to the waning remnants of a summer that was filled with so much hope. Tonight, it is possible that the visitors will clinch the American League East Division that the Orioles won last year.

The August and September collapse of the team has been hard to watch. And now, in a bit of irony, the Orioles clinched the division last year while playing the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays will likely clinch the division this year while playing the Orioles. 

And that is baseball. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Musings - September 28, 2015

1. It is the last Monday in September! I find it hard to believe that the month will end in two more days.

2. The birthday weekend is over and now it is back to regular life.

3. Going back to work after a week away can be really stressful.

Weird Image
4. I wonder what this means? Do the plants need screens? Wow, do those windows look clean!

5. The Orioles went to Boston this weekend looking at stealing a wild card spot in the post season. They came home with those dreams dashed after scoring 0, I mean zero, runs in three games. It may not be over, but the fat lady is not only warming up, she is forming the notes and words to begin singing.

Patuxent Greens Golf Course
September 27, 2015
6. It is unusual to see a fox, especially on the golf course, but it happened yesterday. It was a bit startling to see the fox and a bit disconcerting about how close it got to Mike and I as we were golfing. True, I had hit my ball and it was not on the fairway.

7. Darwin Award nominee. A man tried to kill a spider with a lighter at a gas pump. It ended poorly.

8. I have an Orioles game tomorrow night It will be the last game that I attend this season and it is likely that the Orioles will be mathematically eliminated form the post-season on that night.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Creative Spaces

Seasonal Entryway

Our home has a lot of space for conversation and contemplation. One of the trickiest things do is to create spaces where people can relax and enjoy themselves.

While I was in Denver, Chris took it upon herself to recreate the entryway with a seasonal brush stroke. I was greeted by the entryway as I returned home late Friday night. I enjoyed the sight and yesterday she added two pumpkins, not pictured because I took this image on Friday night. I was happy that she included my recently trimmed angel wing begonia as part of the festive sight.

But not content to stop there, we continued the theme yesterday by creating an outdoor space to relax and enjoy the earlier evenings. Combining our beach themed tiki torches with the propane fire table on the lawn created a new space. And it worked out really well. Total cost? Zero because we repurposed things already around the house, even the wooden stumps were laying in the woods waiting for something creative to happen to them.

It turned out really well, and added to my birthday celebration.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Song and Tears and Birthdays

Happy birthday to me!

It has been a great day and I have connected with most of my family. I am not a big birthday celebration fan--I prefer the more understated approach to birthdays.

That written, on Facebook, at least 21 people wished me congratulations on completing another decade. I feel old.

Last evening, as I was flying home from Denver, I did something that made pause. I was listening to the songs on my iPad and for some reason I played Handel's Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah.

During the song, I remembered many friends and events from the past where I had been privileged to sing this song of joy and victory.

But there was some sadness in my heart as I remembered some of my friends who have changed their residence from this world to the next. My church choir director Hiawatha Watkins came into my mind because I remember handing out the music to the entire congregation for many enthusiastic Easter sing alongs.  I am convinced that he loved this pice of music for not only its power, but how it affected everyone who sang it and listened to it. I also reflected on the first time I learned and sang the Hallelujah Chorus over 40 years ago in my high school choir.  I remember that I was amazed as the assembly rose to honor the piece.

As I remembered these poignant scenes, tears rolled down my face and I was glad that the cabin on the airplane was dark.

I am amazed at how the years have changed me. I'm not sure anymore that I am who I thought I would be. But I am who I am and I am continuously growing. I learn more each day and I strive to remember my friends and teachers and family who have taught me and coached me and mentored me into who I am.

Thanks to all of you. Living and passed. I shed a tear or two while writing this as your memories flooded back and I remembered our times together and look forward to time eternally together.

And all because, by chance, for no reason at all I played that anthem. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, September 25, 2015

My Take: Homeless in Denver

Traveling for business gets old progressively day by day. 

I am glad that I only do occasional road trips now. I have enjoyed Denver and the incredibly good weather, but I have seen the needier side of the city as well. 

Homeless in Denver
I have walked around most of the downtown 16th Street Mall area at various times of the day, and I have to admit that I must be a bit sheltered in my views. The homeless or the transient people are everywhere. And the people represent all age groupings, from the 20-somethings who appear to be on a "walk about" to the definitely homeless with dogs and sometimes children.

Most do not beg--but there are those who do, looking to subsist on handouts and generosity. I admit, I was a bit offended by one the other day who advertised himself as a jobless veteran but was standing outside a bagel place hitting people up as they were coming out with breakfast in their hands.

I didn't snap any pictures of those sleeping because I felt like I was intruding in their bedroom, but I found one online that exactly caught what I have seen.

There is a Mission here that tends to the homeless and I am sure that they are far too busy during bad weather. The weather this past week has been very good and perhaps that is why there are so many people about.

I am aware that some of the discussion about the apparent increase in the numbers of homeless people centers around the liberalized Colorado marijuana laws. But, regardless, they are still people. 

People in need are still people.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Coors Field, Denver, CO
September 23, 2015
I love baseball. That is a fact. I like to take the opportunity to visit other ballparks when I can. 

Last evening I did just that. I walked to Coors Field to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play the Colorado Rockies. Admittedly, the Rockies are my favorite National League team and so it was not too much of a stretch to go to the game. Even though the rockies have already been eliminated from post-season play, spending an evening at the ballpark was a great plan, and frankly, what else do I have to do?

View Along the 16th Street Walking Mall
Denver, CO
In another sense, it was my personal way of getting through the first day of autumn, by attending a summer activity. And is was a beautiful evening. The temperatures were mild, the humidity low--too low for this East Coast guy, and the crowd was light.

Scoreboard at Coors Field
September 23, 2015

I enjoyed a nice walk along the 16th Street Mall getting to the game and also returning home. I won't comment on the numbers of homeless or transient people I saw sleeping along the streets, just to say I was amazed at how many there were.

As I mentioned, the game was lightly attended, but the fans were enthusiastic. The Bucs (as the Pirates are known) got some early runs and were up 5-0 going into the bottom of the 3rd inning. The Rockies made a comeback and the score settled in at 7-6 for the visitors at the end of the 5th where it stayed until the fireworks erupted during the wild 9th inning which saw the Bucs clinch a playoff spot by scoring an additional 6 runs to which the hometown Rockies could manage to answer with only 1 in the bottom of the frame. 

Mostly Empty Stands
Coors Field, Denver, CO
September 23, 2015
It was a good evening of exciting baseball which ended late--later considering the 30 minute walk back to the hotel--but, hey, it was baseball. 

And in honor of Yogi Berra, remember: "It ain't over till it's over."

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Happy Birthday" is Free

Only in America could the most played song in history be kept from the people and not considered public domain, until yesterday.

1922 Book Containing "Happy Birthday"
The song "Happy Birthday" had a birthday of its own yesterday as it was freed from the company which has claimed it owned the copyright and returned to the people. In a Washington Post article, 
‘Happy birthday’ to all of us: Judge gives world a gift, says song belongs to everyone, the details of the court decision are documented. 

It turns out that Warner Music may have to return millions of dollars in royalties that it has collected since it purchased what it thought was the copyright in 1988.

When looking at the image of the song in the 1922 songbook, I noted that Happy Birthday is but a verse in a song titled, "Good Morning and Birthday Song." It wasn't even a stand alone song.

Did you ever wonder why Happy Birthday was not sung at the local restaurant when someone has a birthday? It was likely because of the copyright that they came up with the less than satisfactory birthday song that they sing. I mean, who really wants to hear Happy Happy Birthday and not the classic tune?

And now that the song is squarely in the public domain where it belongs, the facade of imposters will begin falling away.

Next time I celebrate a birthday, or two, I will sing the song of the people with even a bit more gusto knowing that it is finally freed from corporate copyright and is now in the corporate domain.

Happy Birthday to all of us!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Out the Hotel Window Returns: Denver, September 2015

Denver Afternoon
September 20, 2015

I realized that it has been a while since I was in a hotel and therefore, have not added to my series about looking out the hotel window.

I did enjoy a nice cruise this past summer, but, even thought the scene outside the cabin window does change continuously and I loved being on the balcony watching the ocean, it is not a hotel.

Sunrise in Denver
September 21, 2015
I am once again in Denver, Colorado. Yes, I come here a lot. This time, however, I am in a downtown hotel with a very different view out the window. 

I have already been treated to three stunningly different views: afternoon, dawn, and sunset.  And they are all outside my window. 

I find it amazing how the scene changes as the sun moves across the land. Unfortunately, the windows in this hotel are dirty and so the view is not crystal clear. But still is awesome.

Sunset over Denver
September 21, 2015
The clouds in the sky make all of the difference reflecting the light of the sun which has set.

Today is the last day of summer, as an aside.

I hope to fully enjoy the day as the autumnal equinox is tomorrow. 

Autumn will arrive as I sleep.

I will look out my hotel window tomorrow morning and the scene will be different, as will the season.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, Colorado

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Musings - September 21, 2015

1. The last weekend of summer 2015 is behind us and ahead lies the beginning of the dark times. Sunrise is later and sunset is earlier every day. 

2. The loss in the 9th inning of yesterday's game probably effectively ended the Orioles season. They are 5.5 games out of the wild card with 13 games to play and four teams in front of them.

3. We are increasingly becoming an insanely intolerant society and even when innocent, people are treated like criminals. Read,  Virginia school suspends an 11-year-old for one year over a leaf that wasn’t marijuana.

4. I think the Pope's arrival in the US is garnering front page news coverage because we are all tired of the embarrassment that is the political process underway right now.

5. Writing of the presidential olympics--I'm still waiting for the one true candidate to emerge.

6. The potential of a government shutdown is looming large again. An interesting article in the Washington Post describes, Five things standing in the way of keeping the government open

7. The other morning, I was headed to work and noticed the stars above me in the dark sky. And there was Orion--reminding me that he is in control of the constellations for the next six or so months. I can't wait for him to leave again.

8. Ok, yes, the blog is late this morning, and probably all week because I'm in a different timezone.

9. Did I mention that summer is over? The pool is closed and the leaves are already falling form the trees? Morning temperatures are dipping into the 50's with 40's not too far behind? And my truck is broken!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Good news--Bad News: Gas and Trucks

Royal Farms on Telegraph Road
Odenton, MD
I was in awe yesterday as we drove past a local Royal Farms gas station and I saw that the price of regular gas had fallen to $2.099, which is really $2.10, per gallon. 

Queue the party!

I remember when gas hit $4.00 per gallon that we never dreamed of seeing prices this low again and yet, this is now the second time that prices have fallen back to reasonable levels. I expect to see gas below $2/gallon soon!

But, s is the way with life lately, with every snippet of good news comes some bad news. 

My truck broke severely yesterday. Ugh! The upper drivers side ball joint separated from the control arm and so the truck is both not drivable and also not moveable! Thankfully, it happened as I was backing into the driveway after I had completed a run to the local landfill. I was able to get the truck out of the way and I soon determined that the repair was beyond the few short hours I had available. Additionally, I was going to need to get parts shipped in.

The seriousness of the situation became clear as I was jacking the truck up, but the wheel remained firmly on the ground. No, I didn't take a picture of it.

It is not pretty, although, it seems very repairable. It is going to need a tow to the local repair shop, which I will be calling in the morning. 

All the money I was going to save on gas prices not goes into repairs!

And that, is the good and bad news for this Sunday morning.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Summer's Last Weekend

It kind of snuck up on me, this, the last weekend of summer.

View of the Covered Pool with the
Vestiges of Summer
I have been so busy enjoying the pleasant evening temperatures and humidity that I had forgotten that summer officially ends with the vernal equinox on Wednesday morning. Summer slips out quietly while we are sleeping--an almost fitting end for a memorable summer, leaving during the night not wanting to linger or get caught up in a long good-bye. 

Summer's demise comes with the completion of numerous projects, not the least of which was closing the pool. Except for a few peripheral tasks, the pool was successfully closed Thursday evening. 

But even tough it is covered, the scene around the pool reveals the lingering effects of the summer--the blooming geranium, the still green ornamental grasses, and the golf target standing tall in the yard. These will soon be gone and with the gathering autumn, my near weekly golf outings will become less frequent. The desire to get home after a day of work and get to the course will eventually evaporate as sunset continues to creep forward and then daylight savings time ends.

What a Picnic Table Looks Like After
it is Decomposed
As summer slips into autumn, there will be trips to the landfill to remove the broken and no longer functioning furniture and equipment that have collected during the busy and often frenetic summer. The first trip is today to remove, among many other items, the abandoned picnic table which has been sitting just off the yard for more years than I can count. It was heavy and needed some work to allow it to fit into the truck. 

Even as autumn arrives, I will still be dealing with the remnants of summer. Raking leaves and dreaming of golfing or being on a beach somewhere. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, September 18, 2015

My Take: Republican Debate

I watched some of the debate the other evening.

Eleven presidential hopefuls standing in front of America trying to sell us on why any of them should be President.

My take? I'm not sure that any of them have what it takes to lead the nation. 

The thing that bothered me the most is their intolerance. they all want to make the country over in their own image and do not seem tolerant of diversity or people who think differently. 

I heard at least two of the governments extol the virtues of what they had accomplished in their states and indicate that it should be easy to implement their view nationwide. 

What if, the rest of the nation doesn't want their view?

Individual states need the right to determine their courses. Each of the candidates, I believe, fail to understand the concept of States Rights and all apparently want to expand the oppressive power of the Federal Government.

Who won the debate? No one.

So, I am still waiting for the right person to step forward.


-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 17, 2015

My Take: Paranoia doesn't Make it Better

"Out of an abundance of caution" and "Err on the side of caution."

Ahmed Mohammed
How about the words, "zero tolerance?"

What do those words really mean?

They mean someone's Civil Rights are about to be violated because someone else made an uninformed accusation that people in charge feel they must do something about even though there is no evidence to support a criminal act or misdeed.

We are living in an era of rampant paranoia stoked by the threat of unrealistically punitive lawsuits for making a bad decision. 

Ahmed Mohammed with clock and sister
I offer the case of a 14 year old boy who brought a homemade clock to school in Irving, Texas, as an example. Ahmed Mohamed was led from school in handcuffs the other day for bringing a creatively designed homemade clock to school. 

Why was he really arrested? No one will likely ever know, but I suspect there was a bit of racial bias involved.

As I read his story, I was struck by some of the statements, especially by one police office who said that the clock looked like a bomb. If it was a bomb, where was the explosive? A police officer should know better. 

But what else concerns me about this situation? Ahmed was questioned by police without either his parents or a legal representative being present. That is not supposed to happen to a juvenile, especially when the results are likely to be that they will be handcuffed and walked out of school in front of the entire student body.

Here's hoping that the city and school district of Irving, Texas pay dearly for their uninformed paranoia which resulted in a significant breach of Ahmed's civil rights!

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you." -Joseph Heller (Catch-22)

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Get them done before winter

Freshly Painted Column

We are in the end-of-summer push to get as many outdoors projects completed as possible before the onset of frigid temperatures.

Last evening, we finished painting the porch.

Yes, it doesn't seem like monumental accomplishment, however, we have been trying to get the porch painted for four years. It was one of those noxious projects that neither Chris nor I desired to tackle. 

Well, A Small Project Left to complete
And now it is done, mostly. There are a few things left to clean up to make it perfect, like repainting the doorbell plate.

I wrote about lists in a blog titled "To do" or "Not to Do?" They don't work well for me.

I am glad this project was finally removed from our To-Do list. 

Next up? 

Pool closing, beginning Thursday evening. 

Isn't autumn great? And it is still really summer, it just feels like autumn with 50 degree morning temperatures.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tales of Horror: New Appliance Installation

The phrase, "No good deed goes unpunished" has been playing over in my head a lot during the past few days.

It seems as if for every positive action there is an equal and negative reaction. 

Yesterday, for instance, our new dishwasher was being delivered and installed. The installation was planned for a day when Chris would be off from work due to a holiday and everything looked good. . . 

Until 2:15 PM, when I received a panicked call at work that the new dishwasher was too big and we were going to have to take the floor up to get it into the space. Ugh!

I raced home and the installer had started the task of removing the flooring, except that he was using a saw!!!!! Nooooooooo. The floor needed to be taken up one board at a time so that it could be reinstalled. 

The situation was a bit tense and I forgot to take a picture of the magnitude of the mess with the ripped up flooring and the new and improved dishwasher barely sliding into place. But it did.

Fully Installed Dishwasher
 with Restored Flooring
Once the dishwasher we installed and the mess cleaned, my task was to reinstall the flooring. Important safety tip--keep extra pieces of flooring around from the installation! I knew I had some extra pieces from the installation many years ago and so I was not too concerned that some of the existing pieces had been trashed. 

After about two hours of work, the final product looks good as new! Thank goodness a good friend taught me how to install wood floors a few years ago and so I knew some of the tricks to get it tight.

Good deed? New dishwasher for Chris
Punishment? Salvaging the flooring
End result? All good!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Musings - September 14, 2015

1. September is almost half over and I was thinking that it was just getting started.
Ocean City, MD, Beach
September 7, 2015

2. The pool will be closed for the season by this time next week. That is an incredibly sad prospect. But temperatures are falling and so are the leaves.

3. Last week I was walking on the beach in Ocean City enjoying the Labor Day holiday. It is a great memory.

4. With two games remaining today, the first week of the NFL season will draw to a close. I can't believe I watched almost nine hours of football yesterday. There is only time for a quick breath, however, because the whole thing begins again on Thursday.

5. With the worldwide concern about the immigration crisis in the Middle East, especially Syria, wouldn't it be amazing if the the UN could find a way to bring peace to the region so that the displaced persons could resume their lives rather than having to move to a strange land?

6. Ran across Golden Crisp cereal in a store in Ocean City. Although I never ate it, it brought back memories of the kids eating it--and they loved it.

7. The Orioles actually won a series over the weekend, taking 2 of 3 games from the division leading Kansas City Royals. There are 20 games left in the Orioles' season. They need to win 14 to finish with a non-losing record. Mathematically, they are still in the hunt for a Wild Card post-season spot. 

8. This is the day, in 1901, that President McKinley died of complications following the gunshot wound he received on September 6th. You may recall that the mountain named for him in Alaska was recently restored to its rightful native name of Mount Denali. McKinley's death brought Teddy Roosevelt into the White House as President.

9. Recipe for chaos: ten adults, three boys under the age of eleven, five dogs, and a football party.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Saturday Football in the Rain

It hadn't rained significantly in our area since August 28th--until yesterday when Jackson's GORC Wildcats Football Team was scheduled to play its third game of the young season. Jax is on the 80lb Central Team.

Halftime Sideline for the GORC Wildcats
And then the rains came down, as they did for most of the day.

The image is from halftime, but the score on the scoreboard was the same at the end of the game with the Wildcats prevailing against both the other team and the weather 12-0. The team is now 2-1 on the young season and both wins were by shutout.

At least the temperatures were in the high 60's and low 70's during the game. But it was still cool and damp and even I took refuge under an umbrella for some of the game. 
Jax in the Rain

Youth sports is where learning about team work and contributing to the overall effort begins. Jax had a couple of great blocks and on the second, and final touchdown of the day, it was his block against two would-be tacklers that allowed the running back to score. 

Standing in the rain watching football on a September Saturday, I guess that is what it is all about.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Patriots and Patriot Day: Reflection

Yesterday was a solemn day of remembrance. Officially, it was National Day of Service and Remembrance of those who lost their lives during the September 11, 2001 attacks. 

It, as a day, does not come with the distinction of a national holiday along with time off to reflect, but rather, it is a day to pause and remember in our homes and places of work as we are going through our lives. That is how the day happened, right in the middle of life.

I find it hard to believe that 14 years have passed already since that day. Many of us pause to remember where we were those short few years ago, but there is already a generation of Americans who were not even born yet, or were far too young to recall the terror of that day and the time. 

And we must remember. We must not forget. 

Every year as we pause on September 11th at 8:46 EDT, we should rededicate ourselves to the Patriot Spirit and put service before self, even if only for one day. I hope you did, yesterday.

And maybe again today.

And tomorrow.

Think of how our country and our world would be changed!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, September 11, 2015

Slow Down in the Fast Lane of Life

Racing out of the gym after some uninspiring racquetball early yesterday morning I realized that I had forgotten something that I needed to take to work and that would force me to detour back home to get it before pointing my car towards the place where I spend 8 hours or every week day.

Not the Clouds I Saw Yesterday
I was frustrated that I had been so forgetful.

The total added time to my daily trek was going to be all of 15 minutes! But it seemed that it was an important 15 minutes. I tried not to be too upset about the detour, but I hate forgetting things.

As it turned out, I was rewarded for my forgetfulness by a spectacular display of the rising sun and the clouds which greeted me as I made my way to work. It was a stunning sight, big puffy clouds with pink highlights. 

I wanted to take a picture, but it is really tough to take a picture while driving on a jam packed, morning rush highway. Being a safe and rational driver overcame my desire to give it a shot. But I enjoyed the morning for the better part of my trip because I drive east and the clouds were right in front of me.

I was rewarded for slowing down and taking a moment to look skyward.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My Take: Another shutdown, Really?

The end of September means the end of the US Government's fiscal year (FY). We will be putting FY15 to bed on September 30th and welcoming FY16 on October 1st.

And it could be another unenjoyable new fiscal year for the country.

There is already talk of another, yes another, government shutdown!

Loss of services, loss of prestige, and more importantly loss of jobs that will contribute to an economic slowdown.

According to the referenced Washington Post article, the probability of another government shutdown ranges from well over 50 percent to as high as 70 percent! No one is estimating the probability to be less than 50 percent!!

From my perspective, a government shutdown is a another example of how Congress fails to discharge its Constitutional requirements in a timely manner.

We are one-third of the way through September, time will tell during the next 20 days whether the Congress can get one of their most important jobs done and fund the government so that services can continue to be provided to the people.

Let's hope the government does not shutter its doors.

We will all be embarrassed, again!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Take: Personal Beliefs vs. Public Duties

I have been watching with great interest the case of Kim Davis, the country clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Many are casting the situation to appear as if she was jailed for her religious beliefs. Some hailed her as a hero. I do not feel that way, however. She failed to perform her duties as a public servant and she was jailed because she defied a lawful order from a judge. Regardless of her motivation, a public servant she does not have the right to impose her individual beliefs above the law.

If she has a problem issuing the licenses, then she should have resigned. In America, there is separation of church and state; therefore, her personal religious beliefs should not have factored into the discharge of her public duties. It is not a religious matter. The state determines who qualifies to be married and the licensing process is a civil, not a religious, matter. In a larger sense it is a Constitutional matter.

She was engaging in civil disobedience similar to the war protesters; however, unlike them she took an oath to uphold the law and the Constitution. We cannot, nor should we, be allowed to determine which laws we want to follow else the fabric of society will tear. 

It does not matter about personal religious beliefs, if someone is a public servant they are sworn to uphold the law whether they agree or disagree. Corruption reigns in countries where local officials believe they can choose to uphold the laws or not. That is something that we do not have to worry about in the United States. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Monday Musings on Tuesday, September 8, 2015

1. It is the first day of my workweek, so that is when Monday Musings happens.

Ethan and Jackson on the Sand Cliffs at Ocean City
2. A weekend at the beach and some frustrating golf, what could be better? Golf that isn't frustrating. As my son said of my score, "I expected more of you." He really meant a lower score.

3. The Orioles lost again yesterday. Late-August and September are being brutal on them. At least any hope of the post-season has been erased.

Seagull Taking Flight
4. Even though the driveway should be fine to drive on, I don't want to mess up the repair which looks great!

5. Thanks to Patrick and Tina who always seem to be staying behind on dog duty. We really appreciate the way you take care of Makayla.

6. Many people are getting excited for the NFL season which officially begins on Thursday evening. I am disturbed by the outcome of the Tom Brady affair and the message it sends to young athletes about integrity--or the lack of integrity in professional sports.

7. The Presidential race is on, but did you know that our Congress is facing a desperate budget situation that could see the government shuttered again? 

8. Labor Day is over and the summer is winding down. I hope the weather stays warm for a few more days. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, September 7, 2015

Do you hear the crickets?

I have been here three days now, and this morning was the first that I noticed the crickets. Perhaps it is because the ocean is calmer and the sound of the waves crashing on the beach are much quieter.

More likely? It is because I am calmer and after three mornings of spectacular sunrises and I was finally in a ace to notice the crickets.

There is so much that I tune out to keep control of what I can process. Sitting outside enjoying the ocean and the dawn allows me to get in touch with those things. It is similar to the springtime when I first hear the peepers. I enjoy heir song, but soon it blends into the background noise.

This is a defense mechanism. I live near Interstate 95 and I tune out the noise from the traffic except during the middle of the night when there are no other sounds.

I guess it means than I am in a good place within myself because I can hear the crickets and they are melodious.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ocean City, MD

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Ocean Sunrise

Up before dawn to watch the colors of the new day as it arrives. This is something I love to do, watching the dawn drive out the darkness.

It is good to get away for a bit and have a few quiet moments before the day begins to appreciate the colors and the spectacle that is before me.

A single seagull flies across the sky, lending movement to the otherwise still scene.

Another day is at hand.

Dawn seems to be coming faster now. Just like life, it seems to pick up speed.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ocean City, MD

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Morning in Ocean City

Waking up with the sound of the surf crashing onto the beach is an awesome way to start the day.

The morning is warmer than was originally anticipated and the sun is slowly climbing into the sky.

There are even some Palm trees next door to make me believe that I am farther south than I truly am.

Maryland is a nice place to live in that I can be at work in the morning and on the beach by evening.

Happy Labor Day to you wherever you are.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ocean City, MD

Friday, September 4, 2015

Construction and More Construction

Potholes in the Driveway
The sewer line repair continue, well actually the environmental clean-up continues in the woods behind the house.

On tap yesterday was major repairs for the three families us who share the driveway. 24 years of hard use had taken its toll and it was time for some repairs before sealing the drive in advance of the winter season.
Men at Work Removing the Old Asphalt

There were big trucks and stone, and rollers, and hot asphalt.  The old parts of the drive were removed and new supporting gravel was emplaced and packed down. It was a process.

It was fun to watch, although it would have been more exciting if the repairs were not being paid for out of my piggy bank.
New Gravel for Stabilization Arrives

It was a well orchestrated plan that successfully saw the completion  in near record time. In a move that almost never happens, the crews arrived almost an hour earlier than they indicated they would. Perhaps it was to beat the heat of the day. 
Spreading the Asphalt

They worked along in three separate areas of the driveway. Fully synchronized. Not working fast, but working steady.

Progress was seen with every passing minute. 

At the end of the process, the rough areas of the driveway were fully restored. In a couple of weeks, the entire driveway, including the new areas will be sealed for added protection!
At the End--It looks Great!

What a day. And all I had to do was watch.

Oh yea, and pay!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 3, 2015

One in a Row

I stayed up past my bedtime last night watching the Orioles play frustrating and futile baseball.

I stayed until the game ended in the 11th inning.

Why? Because I am a baseball fan and I and also an Orioles fan.

I stayed because the team used some heroics to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th inning.

I was rewarded for my efforts with a game winning walk-off homer  by Chris Davis in the bottom of the 11th inning for the orioles 2nd win in their past 13 games.

The season that began so many months ago is winding down. And I remember the promise that this season began with at Spring Training in Sarasota during February and March. 

There are 28 games remaining on the Orioles schedule and the probability of making the post season this year is almost zero. But they are my team, win or lose.

And that greatest saying in baseball is filled with hope and promise. "We'll get them next year."

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Update: Sewer Line Break

Looking Out my Driveway at the Trucks working the
Sewer Line Break
I was gratified to see the response from Howard County to the sewer line break. They worked to repair and stabilize the line for almost 30 hours--straight. At one point last evening there were ten trucks and assorted pieces of heavy equipment  in the neighborhood.

My neighbors who live right next to the break were not too amused at the sound of heavy machinery during the night, but it was a serious bio hazard. the work is going on right outside their fenced yard. Theirs is the house in the picture below.

Looking Down the Street at the Howard County Response
I am told that the EPA will be out to inspect the work. 

Last evening, the odor in the air was the worst it has been. I guess they were digging up the muck. I would not have wanted to be the workers. We provided them with a couple 12-packs of soda last evening to help mitigate the hot and humid conditions. I'm glad the sewer line is repaired. 
Work Just Beyond my Neighbor's Fence

Today, hopefully, will be devoted to clean up. I have not observed any clean-up of the stream. I worry about the impact on the wild life and the potential for disease. I guess I will have to look into that in the coming days. The workers did say that they would be putting lime into the water as a mitigation strategy. 

I was also told that the worst is yet to come. Apparently, the county will be letting a contract to relocate the sewer line, as I reported yesterday. That will likely cause the loss of many of the trees that I enjoy that border our property and shield us from the warehouses and light industry on Troy Hill.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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