Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Musings - November 30, 2015

1. It is the last day of November. December begins tomorrow. 2016 is one short month away!

Axis and Allies in Progress
2. The annual family Axis and Allies tournament was a huge success. I wish that we could have changed history and that the Axis powers had won since I was playing Italy and Germany--but, it was not to be.

3. I have been enjoying my four day weekend. Why can't every weekend be four days long?

4. The NFL must work on its product--the referees are killing the game.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Dessert
5. It is weird that Thanksgiving is over. It was a feast and I still remember it. I am going to pay heavily for my eating this morning on the racquetball court.

6. While shopping last week, we discovered hummus from Ithaca for sale in our local Wegman's. Turns out it is really made in Groton, but it carries Ithaca on its label.

7. Is anyone seriously supporting Donald Trump? He is an uninformed, opinionated, thug. I do not like the personal attacks he makes on people.

8. Why do cats like to eat the tinsel off Christmas trees?

9. I remember that when I was a kid, December was the longest month of the year.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Decorating Day--Done!

Christmas 2015 Decoration
It is mostly complete. A day long event dedicated to transforming the house from Thanksgiving into Christmas.

It took most all of the day. Two Christmas trees were erected, decorated, and even redecorated. We did have remove the icicles because the cats thought they were candy--and that is a bad thing.

Snow Village Wonderland Under Construction
During the day, Chris and I listened to Christmas music, watched a campy Santa Claus movie and consumed a bottle of wine. We kept the pace slow and the mess, associated with redecorating

Mountain Snow Village
Nearing Completion
As we were preparing to do dinner and nestle down together for the evening,  we got a call from Patrick and Tina to come visit with them and lend assistance in creating their Snow Village wonderland. That was a lot of fun. They were in the middle of a mountain scene that took an incredible amount of planning and construction. That, and it also has a voice activated computer controlled light system. Pretty cool!

It was a full decorating day! The Christmas season is in full swing and the best part was, with the exception of running out to a pharmacy to pick up a prescription, I didn't grace a store or shopping mall. A nearly perfect day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Most Wonderful Time?

Outdoor Decorations are Installed
I'm sitting here listening to Andy Williams sing about "the most wonderful time of the year" as the season of the turkey gives way to four weeks of 24/7 Christmas.

It can be stifling. 

I do admit, the weather outside is fantastic and the sunrise is stunning. I'd rather be golfing, but today is decorating day. The transformation of our home into a winter wonderland. The word I use for it is, Christmasfication. 

It can be stressful, if I let it get that way.

There are 10 boxes, or more, of decorations in the attic waiting to be hauled down and installed. It is a process.

And the lists and the shopping? We have already begun the shopping process--which is a good thing. Unfortunately, no matter how early shopping begins it never seems to end. And then there are the returns.

It is still November! I cannot believe how quickly 2015 is drawing to a close.

Brace yourselves--the New Year is in sight!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday: A Worldwide Event

Black Friday, the first official shopping day of the Christmas season AND the day after Thanksgiving has moved across the Atlantic into Britain!

Who knew? And they don't even celebrate Thanksgiving. There are also reports of Black Friday occurring in India, Mexico, Canada, Romania, and France! The international flavor of commerce and especially eCommerce is bringing the blight of the American shopping season to a country near you!

One of the funniest articles that I have read in a long while was in this morning's New York Times titled, Britain Adopts Black Friday With an All-American Frenzy

In the article, I learned a new word, contained in the follow excerpted paragraph:

The explanation for how Britons came to embrace Black Friday seems to reside in a mix of canny unbridled capitalist opportunism, the fetishizing of things American, the explosion of online shopping and two giant retailers called Walmart and Amazon.

Do not misunderstand, although the article is humorous, it is a serious examination of how a uniquely American phenomenon has spread across an ocean and is having negative impacts on other nations and cultures.

My family is dialing back the Black Friday madness this year. No one went shopping at midnight and the shoppers in the crowd are heading out at a reasonable 9AM to risk life and limb for the remaining sale items.

In truth, Black Friday has expanded this year--I have been getting Black Friday special buys from retailers for almost two weeks now. November, it seems, is becoming a month-long series of Black Fridays.

The final paragraphs of the article provide an interesting view of Black Friday. 

Valerie Faulkner, 41, an assistant producer at an events company who was walking through the store, said she initially had no idea that Black Friday was an American tradition until she searched for it on Google.

“I don’t think most people realize it’s an American custom,” she said. “I just assumed it was some marketing ploy by shops to get rid of lousy, unwanted items before Christmas.”

Sadly, her opinion is more truth than we may suspect. I saw a news show that warned "buyer beware" on some of the deeply discounted specials as they may be of inferior quality and consist of items special built for the Black Friday frenzy.

Happy Black Friday. May all of your shopping be online!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving.

I plan to enjoy the holiday. Mixed in with the food, family, and football I will take a few moments to give thanks for the blessings that I experience every day.

Thanksgiving also rejoices and gives thanks for the blessings in the lives of others! It is good to be thankful for friends and their successes and blessings.

We live in and as part of a community, when we get together to give thanks--as in celebrating a special dinner together, we can appreciate each other better and their contributions.

The words of the classic Thanksgiving hymn ring even truer this Thanksgiving as the world is facing the fear of terrorist threats and security is on everyone's mind. We must not be paralyzed by fear, but draw our faith from God, the provider of all good things.

We Gather Together

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

-Adrianus Valerius
-Theodore Baker (translator)

Happy Thanksgiving. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Not Home for the Holiday

Where are you traveling to for the holiday?

The New York Times did some analysis of where Thanksgiving travelers are headed--and it apparently is not home!

Nope, many of the 3.6 million Americans who will be flying this holiday are heading south to enjoy sunshine and the warmth. According to the article titled, Pumpkin Pie in Miami: Thanksgiving Flight Patterns, people are traveling from the North to the south and to Vegas and Honolulu!

Turkey on a Beach
I would love to eat a fried turkey on a warm, sunny beach somewhere. 

What a dream, spend a morning golfing somewhere I will sweat instead of having to fend off frostbite while I am playing, and then change into a swimming suit and head to the beach to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and all of the fixings.

Apparently, I am not the only crazy with that thought.

The article also points out two very different types of Thanksgiving travelers. Those who able to take the entire week off and those who charge out on Wednesday or even Thanksgiving day. I found it fascinating that the busiest time to fly was Thanksgiving Day at noon!  Tough on dinner.

Driving won't be a good alternate travel plan if you are not already at your destination. From about Noon today until 7 PM the roads will be nearly impassable around the big East Coast cities according to INRIX Driving Intelligence. I hope to be off the highways early. The evening rush hour could be dramatic!

Thanksgiving is family, food, football! Adding in a warm beach in the south (or Caribbean) would just be a bonus!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Take: Canine Cops

For whatever reason, Chris and I watched a few police dog shows on Animal Planet over the weekend. I found them fascinating. The story of Diesel, the police dog killed in Paris also heightened my interesting police dogs.

I have always been impressed with the interaction between humans and canine in working dog situations and the shows that I watched this weekend served to cement my respect for the teams.

Yes, I wondered irrationally, why does the dog have to go in first? The answer is obvious, canine cops save human lives at their own expense.

And then, yesterday, I ran across an article in the Washington Post titled, The surprising reason more police dogs are dying in the line of duty. I was appalled at the answer. 

During 2015, 11 of 26 police dog fatalities have been due to heat exhaustion--particularly being left in a hot squad car! That is unacceptable to me. These dogs are trained to take a bullet for their handlers, they deserve a lot more respect.

My take: the use of animals in work roles means the handlers need to be more aware of their needs. Be they dogs or horses or oxen, the humans need to ensure that the health of the animals are considered at al times. Sure, some jobs are inherently dangerous, like Diesel running into a room filled with suicidal terrorists; but for an animal to die because they were left in a hot car is--criminal!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Musings - November 23, 2015

1. Paranoia is rampant. The White House shut down Pennsylvania Avenue because of an apple core on Saturday. 

2. Another weird NFL weekend. The referees continually get it wrong and injuries are so commonplace now it seems that the teams are going to have to expand their rosters to 100.

3. It was cold yesterday!

4. How can a 3-7 NFL team have a shot to make the playoffs? Look at the NFC East Cowboys, they are only two games out of first place in the division. Check out the NY Times simulator and see how your team does. 

5. I spent last evening Christmas shopping on the computer. I can't believe it.

6. The presidential candidates seem intent on out doing each other with the more outlandish ideas.

7. It is the week of Thanksgiving. I cannot comprehend all of the way that I am blessed. 

8. The Ravens are done. The loss of Flacco and Forsett ended any hopes the Ravens had of winning even another game. Hopefully they can get through the remainder of the season with any other potentially career ending injuries.

9. When do pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training? Surely it is not soon enough.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Golf and Cows

Golf Clubs Waiting the for the Next Round
This is now the second consecutive Sunday that I have not headed out to the golf course for an early morning round. The weather report made it seem like the prevailing cold would to be too numbing to attempt golf without risking the integrity of my hands and ears.

That is unfortunate, but it is a fact of the season.

My clubs are sitting patiently in the garage looking forward to their next outing. I did sneak in 12 holes on Wednesday when the temperature approached 70 degrees. I enjoyed being the only person on the course and therefore able to play at my own, relatively quick pace. The group ahead of me had teed off an hour before me. I caught up with them on the 10th hole.

Large Holstein Print
So the weather, and the season, means that I will be homebound more. 

That usually means shopping. 

Yesterday while out sampling the retailers wares, I came upon a large print suitable for hanging in someone's house. I'm not sure exactly whose house it would be suitable for. 

Would I want a cow in my living room? No, but perhaps whomever buys it (note the price $179) has never enjoyed a close up and personal experience with a holstein?

I'm pretty sure, no I'm definitely sure, I rather be golfing.

Still, that cow certainly is staring at me for some reason.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Grandparent's Day, Part 2

Jax at his Desk
In the interest of fairness and completeness, I attended grandparent's day at Waugh Chapel Elementary School yesterday and celebrated with both Ethan and Jackson.

It was a beautiful day to be out of work for a couple of hours and spend quality time with the grandsons.

The in processing into the school was smooth and enjoyable. There were a lot of grandparents trolling the halls and the staff was great in directing us to the correct classrooms and, when I happened into the wrong classroom initially, helping me find the correct classroom.

Jax Reading the Part of Rumpelstiltskin
My huge mistake of the day was forgetting to take a few pictures with Ethan, who kept me too busy to think about pictures. I did snap a shot of Jax telling the tale of Rumpelstiltskin. His class told a number of fairy tales to us. I was reminded how dark many of them are, especially when the woodsman kills the wolf in Little red Riding Hood.

I enjoyed Ethan's class because I got to do some coloring and answer a few questions about what school was like when I was in 5th grade. The time with Ethan passed so quickly. 

Did I mention food? The school had a great spread of munchies for the visitors! Awesome. 

I'm looking forward to Grandparent's Day next year!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 20, 2015

My Take: We Have Lost our Way

The tumultuous events of recent days have highlighted the continuing struggle between the peace-loving peoples of the world and those who would seek to enslave them. 

It is the classic struggle of the world, the free seeking peoples arrayed against an insidious abusers of power. It becomes more real when the fighting hits close to home, as it has in Paris and across Europe.

The discussions in Congress regarding suspending some basic civil liberties always follow dramatic events. One of the current discussions is about cell phone encryption. The arguments for reducing encryption ore fundamentally flawed and represent another potential intrusion into the lives of common people by not only the government, but the unscrupulous characters who could also use whatever backdoor is allowed to exist. Just look at how much money we pay for security software and updates on our personal computers to gain an understanding of the magnitude of the problem.

Syrian Refugees Coming Ashore on a Greek Island
Another discussion is about allowing refugees into the country. Both sides have taken the extreme view. One side says the refugees are only widows and children (wrong--look at the picture), the other side says that terrorists (possibly) may find a way into the country. But terrorists will always find a way into the country. Building a wall is not the answer and neither is not allowing refugees a place to settle outside of a war zone where both sides are trying to kill them.

With respect to refugees--I am reminded of the words on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Maybe we need to dismantle the statue and send it back to France because we have lost our way in the world. Our attitude is wrong.

Benjamin Franklin wrote something about taxes and security once which seems applicable now:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

My take is that we need a long-term strategy and work harder to solve the crisis in Syria and the Levant. Then guess what? Neither breaking into cell phones or worrying about refugees will be necessary.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Turkey vs Pink Flamingo

My Favorite Thanksgiving Turkey
It is the season of the turkey! One week from today, we celebrate and give thanks. There will be too much football on the television and no shortage of wine and dessert.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of the gatherings. Our family likes to celebrate together. And that is awesome. That we all generally get along is awesome as well. We also make it a two-day celebration and the annual Axis and Allies game is set to kick-off bright and early on Friday after Thanksgiving while the women are shopping and the kids are out to an eco adventure!

But right after the celebration, the most stressful season of the year begins. Even while cold turkey and desserts remain in the refrigerator, the Christmas season arrives to remind us all how far behind we all are. It seems like we are behind from the first day. That we ever catch up is amazing. "Holiday shopping" they call it.

Holiday Pink Flamingo in Lowe's
Last evening I was in Lowe's, picking up a few things for some non-Holiday related projects around the house, and I happened upon a Christmas lawn decoration that just made me smile.

I have always liked Christmas light wrapped Palm trees and have even had a few to spice up the season, but last evening I discovered the perfect yard animal to ring in the holiday season--a lighted pink flamingo!

It was very cute with the Santa hat on its head!

No, I did not buy it, yet! But I'm thinking of sneaking it into the yard for the start of the season. I was more excited about the pink flamingo than I was the outdoor wreath that Chris was was looking at that would require climbing back onto the roof to install.

Someone said "it's the most wonderful time of the year," and I know that it can be. I just wish I lived in the Southern Hemisphere and it wasn't so dark around the holidays. Wouldn't it be great to have Christmas during the summer and we could celebrate by having a pool party?

Did I mention that it is 170 days until I open the pool? Ugh! That seems like a long way off yet. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Grandparent's Day

Lucas and I Cutting Pieces
I am still stretching myself and growing into the role of a grandparent.

Yesterday I went over to the local elementary school and joined Lucas as he started his day in kindergarten.  The school had a special program arranged and both Chris and I were able to encourage Lucas as he constructed a thankful Thanksgiving turkey. 

Chris and Lucas and the Feathers
The construction project was preplanned and well thought out. The pieces were big and the supplies readily available.

I was impressed with the school, in-processing was smooth and I though the little pink tags were genius. 

I have been to schools before where they have no concept of smoothly in-processing people and it can become a real mess trying to get parents into the classrooms. 

Lucas' Turkey of Thanks
I enjoyed the story, it has been a longtime since I have had a story read to me. 

I was happy to have made one of the feathers! And an orange one at that!

Thanksgiving and the season of the turkey. A great time of the year and I am very happy that i could take a couple hours out of my too busy day to visit Lucas at school and help him to complete his very special project.

I wonder if the turkey made it home alive?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oblivious Drivers

Oblivious to the Lines
It happens all the time in the highways these days it seems. Oblivious drivers making their way towards their destination unaware of the drivers around them. 

They can be dangerous.

Some of the obvious ones can be the most disconcerting, like drivers with no lights on after dark--I am seeing more and more of them and there is really nothing that can be done. I guess they don't understand that it is dark and no one else can see them.

The cell phone drivers are still out there as well. Driving down the road gabbing on the phone weaving across the lane and usually going a touch slow.

During our recent trip to Upstate NY, Chris and I experienced a new example of an oblivious vehicle operator. We were in a parking lot preparing to back out of the space with our engine running. The woman parked next to us opened her door to within an inch of the car and then walked around to the other side of her vehicle. We sat there waiting patiently because there was not enough room to back out of the space without possibly hitting her car door. And we waited. Finally, we saw her in the vehicle and rolled our window down to ask her if we could close her door. She seemed genuinely shocked that we were waiting for her--oblivious!

They are out there! They are dangerous, beware!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday Musings - November 16, 2015

1. November is half over. It only just began, it seems. But it certainly is tumultuous.

2. I received my mid-month golf handicap adjustment yesterday with a note that the season in Maryland has officially closed until March 15th. It must truly be winter.

3. Oblivious drivers are everywhere. I noticed more than just a few during my weekend travels to Upstate NY. They are dangerous!

4. My prayers are with and for those who were caught up in the terrorism in Paris over the weekend. Vive la France!

5. It is sad to see all the trees standing without their leaves ready for winter's onslaught.

6. A weekend in Upstate NY is not complete without stopping at at least one winery!

7. My view--it is time for the peace-loving peoples of the world to finally unite and repulse the barbarism and terrorism being spawned by ISIL and other groups across the globe. Maybe a coalition with Russia, the US, China, and NATO along with nonaligned countries can finally be formed.  Oh, yeah--that would be the United Nations.

8. The NFL continues to confound with obviously bad calls even after video review. Something's gotta give.

9. The week is beginning. What wonders are in store for us?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Apple Tree

I came upon an apple tree yesterday that caught my eye. It was sitting at the corner of a country road prepared for the winter season ahead.

Apple Tree in Danby, NY
I had forgotten how starkly pretty apple trees were after their leaves had fallen and only a few apples remained on their branches.

I would have liked to walk up an grab a truly fresh apple, taken a bite and savored its smell and crispness. But as the tree was clearly not on public property, it would have been wrong.

Looking at the ground under the tree, I gained a renewed awareness for the phrase that apples don't fall far from the tree.

Autumn is rapidly fading into winter. There was some snow on the hills above Cayuga Lake yesterday. And while pretty in a surreal way, it was a prelude of the coming season.

The apple tree reminded me of the summer behind and the cold season ahead.

And it stood tall with a few apples remaining on its branches, braced for the snows I know are coming.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Saturday, November 14, 2015

150 Vacation Days

I want a job where I get 150 vacation days per year. 


Well, apparently not so crazy if you are a member of Congress. Next year the House of Representatives will be in session 111 days. That means they will be off 150 weekdays. This was reported in by the Washington Post in an article titled, Time to Ground Congress.

And they think that federal employees who work for the Executive Branch are overpaid because we have to work every weekday except for holidays.  

Welcome to the land of reactionary legislation. Nothing is going to get accomplished unless it is a crisis 

I want a job like that. That have reversed the workweek. They work two days and have five day weekends. Sign me up. 

Something has to change. There is an election coming. Don't forget. 

--  Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Friday, November 13, 2015

In Need of Another Vacation

The Blue Hole, Belize
I have been getting email about planning future vacation destinations and cruises.

Specials, discounts! 

Except, none are for next summer. They all want me to leave tomorrow or next month!

Oh I wish that I could. The ultimate escapism.

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
I would love to be cruising the Caribbean while Winter arrives in the North! I looked at the temperature graph for the upcoming week in Key West. It varies between 80 and 85 degrees! That, by the way, is the low and the high!

Perhaps the darkness, the rain, the gloom, and the too cool temperatures are beginning to get to me! I even see that snow is beginning to creep into the forecasts of cities around me. 


It is November after all! The news were talking about the November Witch yesterday providing frigid weather to the mid-section of the country. The same witch that may have been responsible for the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which was 40 years ago. 

Well, after all, it is almost Thanksgiving and time for the bad weather to begin affecting activities. Darkness and bad weather. What a combination.

Find me a warm, sunny beach somewhere with gentle waves breaking along the coast.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Holiday Busy Day

I have to admit, I look forward to the autumn holidays. They allow me to get projects done, especially in preparation for the upcoming season. Yesterday was no exception. 

Makayla had a dental cleaning and so I didn't even get to sleep in. She had to be at the vet by 7:30 AM. She did very well and her teeth look great!

Christmas Lights Installed and Checked
Veteran's Day is the day I use to get the outdoor Christmas lights hung and prepared for the season which begins two weeks from tomorrow. The weather is usually nice and I can work on the lights at my leisure during the day. It took over four hours this year to get everything accomplished. But they are ready for that day after Thanksgiving when the "most wonderful time of the year" arrives.

And then there were the leaves on the lawn which needed to be repositioned. Fortunately, my tractor does an excellent job of moving the leaves from the lawn and back into the forest from which they came.

Believe it or not, I had a couple of gifts that needed to be wrapped. Christmas is closer than I think, I guess.

I had hoped to get in a round of golf, however, by the time I got everything done the course was busy and I decided to go to the driving range instead to work on my swing. Working out at the range is not nearly as much fun as missing a short putt on a green at the course of driving a ball into the deep woods off the tee, but after 168 shots, followed by about 40 putts, I had accomplished a pretty good workout and wrung out some of the problems I had been experiencing.

On the way home, I picked up Makayla dropped her off at the house and then, given a small window of opportunity, I decided to get a haircut. Later that same evening,  Chris and I had a dinner date with Patrick and Tina followed by some entertainment back at their house. 

All-in-all, it was a busy and great day. A lot accomplished and I even took time to thank a few veterans along the way!

When is the next holiday? Oh yeah, Thanksgiving when I give thanks and eat too much!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day Special

Thank them!

Remember them!

Across the seas and even here in our own land, America's military veterans have served with distinction!

American Cemetery in Luxembourg
Many who didn't make it back and are still remembered in the far off lands they helped to liberate from tyranny.

Pause for a moment and reflect on the freedoms that you have  and then remember that someone made a sacrifice for you.

Those who served are all around and most a very humble about their service. I always blush when someone thanks me for my service.

Veterans, be proud!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

My Take: Red Cup Furor Overblown

Starbucks' Red Holiday Cups
Perhaps one of the funniest, if not saddest, stories to cross my viewing during the past few days has been the furor over Starbucks' red holiday cups! Certain Christian groups are accusing Starbucks of being anti-Christmas because the cups are plain red rather than adorned with symbols of the season.

My thought was, why not orange for pumpkins?

Can someone really, in good conscience accuse Starbucks of being anti-Christmas? 

I worry that we are becoming a paranoid society and that people are searching for ways that they can feel persecuted. There are real issues out there, like the climbing Baltimore murder rate and people are seriously worried that Starbucks is using a plain red cup for the holiday season?

Get a life!

For me, I like the minimalist holiday look. I find it festive and simply elegant!  Good job Starbucks. I may even head over to Starbucks for a cup-of-joe in a red cup.

And that is My Take!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It was a Dark, Dreary November Evening

Steaks on the Grill
During the Dark Season, one of the toughest things to do in to keep moving after the darkness arrives all too early.

Yesterday was even tougher. It was rainy and seasonably cool--meaning, all outdoor activity ceased. 


I found a way to beat the darkness! Cooking steaks on the grill! It brought back the smells of summer and the tastes that I long for. Served with a nice dark red wine--a Grenache, it drove out the darkness--at least for a moment.

I need to keep reminding myself that the darkness, in and of itself is not a bad thing. It need to overcome the darkness by doing things that remind me of the summer and sunlight.

Summer is not just a season, it is a state of mind.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday Musings - November 9, 2015

1. November has been extremely mild and enjoyable, prolonging a spectacular autumn for the region.

2. Veteran's Day is this week. Thank you to all who have served and who continue to serve!

3. It is good when the team I'm rooting for doesn't lose, even if they don't play. Go Ravens!

4. Scented candles are just a bit much! And they are polluting our home environments. 

5. It is baseball season, yet?

6. On this day in 1965, the great Northeast blackout happened.  I remember where I was when the lights went off.

7. I have had a cold that just keeps lingering. It is miserable.

8. This is only week two of standard time! And it keeps getting darker, earlier.

9. The end of predatory towing companies freedom to pillage and plunder may be in sight!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Take: News Media Run Amok

It has been clear for some time now, that the news media is over stepping their boundaries when it comes to reporting.

No longer, it seems, is the media, which I use as a collective term, satisfied to report the news of the day, they want to create the news.

No where is it more evident than the Presidential olympics. Why are the discussions of the candidates overshadowing more pressing news of the day? Because not only can the media report, but, they can create and then shape the news in a sensational manner.

The scary part is? Who will elect the next President? The news media! I have heard arguments about whether the media, collectively again, is liberal or conservative and it really does not matter. The shaping and uneven reporting does a disservice to Americans who depend upon the news media for information.

There needs to be something sensational every day!

It makes the ratings go up! And that means money. It does not equate to full and truthful reporting.

Not everything being reported is really news! A lot of it is opinion, beware.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Take: Police Abuses

I read a particularly disturbing article about a police chase in Louisiana this morning that continues to highlight the changing nature of police departments around our country. And this comes after a particularly rough summer where police abuses have been highlighted.

Jeremy Mardis Killed by Police Bullets in Louisiana
This story is perhaps the worst of all. It is set in rural Louisiana where apparently police involved in a car chase fired a number of bullets into a car earlier this week. According to one account, they fired 18 bullets into the SUV. At least 6 of those shots struck and killed 6 year old Jeremy Mardis who was strapped into his seat. The driver of the vehicle, Jeremy's father,  was unarmed and survived. The police allege that were attempting to apprehend the driver because of warrants which have not materialized. Two officers have been charged with 2nd degree murder. The tragedy? This story has not made the national news except as an afterthought. 

This comes after another young man was killed a few weeks ago after his car broke down along I-95 near Jupiter, Florida. 

And it comes after a summer of unrest around the country about the aggressive, shoot-first and ask questions later approach to law enforcement that is being employed.

This is not the 1930's with gangsters riding around the country laying trails of death and destruction behind them robbing banks and using automatic weapons. Innocent bystanders are being killed by direct fire!

I remember that, in olden times, the police were the servants of the people. When someone strayed, they packed the person up and took them home. An encounter with the police was not a life threatening event. Look at old TV shows how the police are portrayed--they lived in the neighborhoods they protected and knew the people. The police helped people and only addressed the most egregious violations.

We, apparently, have become a society intolerant of even the most minor transgression and the result has been the militarization of the police forces which have transformed them from being servants of the populace to being the enforcers first. 

I fear the abuses will continue.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 6, 2015

My Take: We have Lost the News

We are a news starved society, out of touch with what is happening in the world unless it is dramatic. Our major news sources are myopically focused upon the upcoming--still over a year away, election at the expense of keeping Americans in touch with what is going on around the world.

Does I really care what Donald Trump's current ranting is about, and is it news worthy? I think not!

Yes, most Americans may understand that a Russian airliner was downed, probably by ISIS/ISIL over the Sinai, but do they even know where the Sinai is?

How many people know that a dam burst in Brazil engulfing a community in a river of mud and killing at least 15?

Or that refugees from Syria and the Middle East are still trying to get into Europe?

How many have already forgotten that the Russians are actively fighting in Syria?

We live in a connected world, but we have blinders on. We ignore most of what is happening around us and form opinions based only upon what others are screaming at us.

We have lost perspective because we are not getting the full story, and are only hearing occasional sound bytes. Maybe it is because we are not reading the newspapers anymore. I know what I actually have a paper in my hands, I read a lot of the smaller stories that provide insights into what is going on around the world.

Journalism has become entertainment and we have lost the news and its critical perspective as a result.

And that is My Take!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 5, 2015

As the Cactus Blooms

Cactus Blooming
One of the interesting things that happens each year as Thanksgiving approaches is that our cactus blooms.

It is another one of those autumnal events that mark the ending of another year and the approach of the holiday season.

It is funny that the cactus sits around all year apparently doing nothing and unaware of the beauty of summer, but once November arrives it blossoms. 

We own two of the cactus--originally we thought that they were Christmas cactus, but now they apparently have become Thanksgiving cactus. Turns out, there are both Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus varieties AND it is possible to tell the difference between them! The linked article from the Clemson Cooperative Extension describes the cactus and an Easter relative as well. 

Another sign of the season--flowering cactus! 

Enjoy November. Well, as much as possible!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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