Sunday, January 31, 2016

Boys, Dogs, and January

Ethan with Arthur (a selfie)
January's last day has arrived. Hopefully, soon, we can put the snow behind us and move into February, where we usually experience our largest snowfall.

Arthur giving Ethan a Fist Bump
Over the past few days, Chris has been spending quality time with grandchildren and their dogs,  mostly because school has been in recess due to the historic snow storm.

It is hard to look forward to Springtime when there still remains so much snow on the ground.

The harder part is what to do with the boys and the dogs with all of the snow! Staying inside, playing games and watching movies only lasts so long.

Spring is coming and we will get the groundhog's prediction on Tuesday. Here's hoping for an early and long spring!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 30, 2016

An Evening with Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks concert
January 29, 2016
Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore
 I last attended a Garth Brooks concert was almost 20 years ago, during April 1996, at an arena in Landover, Maryland, that no longer exists.

It was worth the wait. Some things, like fine wines, get better with age and maturity. 

The Line Waiting to get into the Arena for
Garth Brooks
January 29, 2016
Garth Brooks is one of those things.

The setlist from last night shows the diversity of the music and the experience. I was amazed that there were 33 songs on the setlist because it seemed to rush by so quickly. During April 1996, according to the records that I can find, there were only 22 songs on the setlist! And they were not so nearly diverse.

Garth is a showman and he connects with the crowd. I felt that he was truly dedicated to ensuring everyone in the arena had a great time with his music. Like he said, he was going to do all the old songs that everyone knew--and he did. 

Garth Brooks
Royal Farms Arena
January 29, 2016
People had lined up well in advance of the concert to get inside and I stood in line for about 30 minutes. I was glad that I was not disappointed. I have read reports of performers who play the setlist while watching the clock waiting for the concert to end. Garth definitely did not do that. He was on stage and fully engaged the entire time, with the exception of when Trisha Yearwood sang a few of her hits,  demonstrating the showmanship the took him to the top of his craft during the late 1990's. 

Garth Brooks
Royal Farms Arena
January 29, 2016
He is back. He has been back for a while now, but last evening was his inaugural concert in Baltimore! I know, he was supposed to perform last weekend but the blizzard forced a reschedule and so I was at his first ever performance in Charm City, AKA, Baltimore.

There are four more concerts left for Baltimore to enjoy. The energy and the excitement are difficult for any entertainer to match and my recommendation is simply--get tickets and go see Garth!

Whatever the cost, the show is worth it.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 29, 2016

January Slips Away

Amazingly, January 2016 is almost complete. It is hard to believe that the New Year just began and we have already completed the first month of the year. 


From the Blizzard
The recent blizzard and ensuing nor'easter snowfall have made getting out of January something to be remembered.

The Presidential olympics have been amped up to deafening levels and the candidates do not seem to understand--I don't want them to talk louder, or meaner, I want them to show leadership and support for the Constitution!

Primary season begins in ernest on Monday (which, according to my calendar in February 1st). It is time for the voters to begin to narrow the field a bit, or as they say in the livestock business: thin the herd.

It has been a fast January, and it is hard to believe that the decision making time is finally arriving after more than a year of posturing and positioning.

Why am I excited about February? Baseball begins again, of course. Spring Training starts with the arrival of the teams and the excitement of a new season. January was standing between the beginning of the year and Spring Training--and now that impediment has been removed. I long to hear the words, 'Play Ball!"

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Into the Electoral Fray

The drama is almost underwhelming. Trump is passing on the final Republican debate before the Iowa caucasus. 

I am appalled that the other candidates are not seeing the advantage that this gives them and are complaining about his absence.

Instead of bashing other candidates, they should be taking the opportunity to clearly state what they believe in and how they will uphold the Constitution.

That does not seem to be happening. 

I want a President who, despite what they personally believe, recognizes diversity and will uphold the Constitution. That means acknowledging differences and allowing dissension. 

Trump comes across as not been able to handle dissension. Our president should not be surrounded with "yes" people. His whole reason for not attending the debate is predicated on that idea that someone wasn't fair to him. Stop whining! Lot's of people aren't fair--that is the root of dissent and disagreement. 

Other candidates are small minded because the want to bash Trump rather than describe what they believe in and stand for.

We are a society in disarray.

We want to elect people who will cater to our individual biases.

We need a uniter, and not a divider!

E pluribus unum! Out of many, one. 

Remember that!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snow Plow Freedom

The Street before the Plow
It may seem like a very small thing. A snow plow finally opened the street in front of my house yesterday morning at about 7 AM. With that important event, the neighborhood could begin to find an ending to the "historic" storm.

When the morning began, although it was dark, the street was jammed with ice and snow. The driveway was open, but there was nowhere to go. 

Snow Plow Salvation
And then--out of the pre-dawn darkness it appeared. The sounds of scraping and flashing yellow lights. I imagine the entire neighborhood cheered. I know I did. Freedom from the snowy prison was in sight.

And then, of course, the real work began. Clearing the plow snow form the drives. It was a funny scene late on Monday. The driveways were clear to the pavement which was drying, yet about 30 inches of snow presented anyone form actually going anywhere. Yesterday, after the plow cleared the street, the job was to remove the snow dams remaining in the driveway to allow full access to the street. My neighbor and I started up the street with her snow blower and began clearing the driveways. 

It felt good to work up a sweat, and having to take my coat off, by freeing our neighbors from the snow.

And then it was off to work to resume some normalcy and make Winter Storm Jonas a by-line in the history books.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Surviving a Snow Day

Snow Days, when I am trapped in the house because the roads are impassable, happen only rarely. It is interesting what I find to do to fill the time.

To pass the time, Chris and I decided to watch the birds. 

Chris put some peanuts atop the snow pile on the deck hoping that  the blue jays would come and feast. It was a nice diversion. The sky was blue and the sun was bright.

We had pulled out all of the cameras and video gear that we own and laid in wait for the blue jays to arrive--and they did!

They are cautious birds, but fun to watch as they begin to get familiar and comfortable with a situation. Even after we had put the dogs out, they quickly came back once the dogs were inside.

Of course, at the feeders there were some "non-birds" doing their best to snatch a snack. Squirrels are creative creatures. This one almost was posing for the event, looking straight into the camera. But, undeterred, it continued feeding.

I retrieved my GoPro and took some video of the blue jays arriving and departing. I admit, it is not a great video but it took over an hour to process and edit and that helped take use some of the time I had with precious little else to do.

Something to enjoy.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Musings - January 25, 2016

Blue Jay at the Feeder during the Storm
1. In addition to the birds we enjoy feeding, bird feeders can bring unwanted visitors as well. We had to witness a hawk feeding on one of the mourning doves that had come to our feeder during the storm. Nature is hard.

2. Yesterday morning, a deer had made a nest under one of our trees in the snow. It stayed there for most of the morning until the dogs began to get worked up.

Mockingbird at the Feeder during the Storm
3. As computers get easier to use, they become harder to understand.

4. Someday I'm going to own a car that will drive to me when I summon it. 

5. Update from the storm--the street in front of the house has not yet been cleared. There is 30 inches of snow in it meaning that I am not going anywhere. Even the Jeeps get stuck because of lack of ground clearance.

6. Leading the news again this morning, at least in the Baltimore-DC region is the storm and the clean-up. Ill equipped as the region is to handle this much snow, it could take all week to get back to normal--and then there is another storm on the horizon.

7. The Washington Post called the storm "Snowzilla."

8. It was 11 degrees this morning. Ugh! I guess winter just wants to remind me which season is currently driving the bus.

9. I thought we could all use a joke this morning, and so from Joke of the Day, here it is:

A blonde goes to her doctor and says that every time she drinks a coffee her eye hurts. The doctor prepared her a hot, fresh cup of coffee to see what really happens. She took a sip of the coffee and screamed, "Ouch, that hurts!" The doctor said, "I know your problem." The blonde asked, "Is it bad, doctor?" The doctor replied, "No, you just need to take your spoon out of your cup before you drink your coffee."

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dawn After the Storm

Looking up the Driveway
January 24, 2016
I had the dogs out this morning and was able to enjoy the pre-dawn clear sky. I saw stars and the moon which was casting its light upon the white world.

The snow finally stopped falling overnight and the wind has ceased creating drifts across the land as well. The snowfall totals across the area ranges from 20 to 30 inches. Officially, the snowfall total made the storm the biggest in history with over 29 inched of snow falling. Scary enough, as they were showing the top five storms of all time, I have been living here for four of them. The only top five storm that I wasn't here for occurred during 1922.

I Need to Clean the Truck
January 24, 2016
The fire is no longer crackling in the fireplace, I need to start one.

The biggest positive from surviving the storm is that for the past couple days the news media has been solely focused upon the weather and not the political olympics. It has been a much needed respite from the constant droning and sniping of the candidates 

That written, the news media have been describing the storm as both epic and historic. Fortunately, they did predict it and we are warm and fully stocked with food. Locally we are calling the storm snow-zilla!

Another day and more shoveling. Our street has not yet been plowed and so there is no where that I can go whether I need to or not.

I will enjoy the snow day.

From the bulls-eye of the now departed storm.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 23, 2016

As the Storm Rages

We thought it was ending, but not.

The storm has been raging for almost 24 hours and it seems to have intensified. At least the blowing has gotten worse. It is about 2:45 PM on Saturday. I can almost see where we shoveled 14 inches of snow earlier along the fence line.

We are calling it Snow-Zilla. Sitting in then house watching the storm rage while listening to The Beach Boys with a fire in the fireplace.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

From the Bullseye of the Storm

Yes, lest those of you not in the Baltimore-Washington region wonder--it is snowing!

As the Storm Begins
January 22, 2016
A lot. Hard! Continuously.

We have had lightening and thunder during the snow as well. I wonder why we usually write it "thunder and lightening" since it is the lightening that causes the thunder?

January 23, 2016
We cleared about 3-4 inches from the driveway last night hoping to make today's efforts somewhat easier. It was a nice 30 minute test run for today so we could understand how much fun clearing snow form the driveway isn't!

It is just socked in. I'm glad I don't have to travel, unlike some of our family who are returning from an enjoyable Caribbean cruise and trying to fly into the region which is paralyzed by the snow!

Plan for the day? Hunker down and stay warm. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snowpocalypse Continued

The snow from Winter Storm Jonas has not yet begun to blanket the region and already schools are closing and panic is ensuing.

If we really get 30 inches of snow, it may be 3 days before my street is plowed! Seriously.

It is all supposed to arrive starting later today. 

It is supposed to be messy. Really messy!

Winds tomorrow are expected to reach 50 miles per hour. 

Blizzard warnings have been posted. 

Groceries have been laid in. 

Wood gathered from the pile and staged in the garage. 

Bring it on! OK, I was really looking ride out the storm in Key West, but the tickets were too expensive.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 21, 2016

First Major Snow of the Season

Winter Storm Jonas is coming.

Expected Storm 22-24 January 2016
I was afraid that that a storm would eventually arrive to reinforce the hold of the season upon the region and it is coming in the form of Winter Storm Jonas according to the weather forecasters.

Jonas, expected to become a Nor'easter of epic proportions, is expected to slam into the region beginning tomorrow snarling travel and making life generally miserable. The grocery store shelves across the area are already showing signs of binge buying as people scurry to ensure they have enough essential supplies to endure two or three days of cabin fever.

I know that some areas, perhaps Buffalo, NY, look at 12-24" of snow and laugh considering it to be minor snow flurries, but in this region we consider it to be accumulations of apocalyptic proportions. Real "end of the world" stuff.

I'd like to say it is fun; however, it certainly will destroy any weekend plans that I had. I worry doubt travelers--for instance family members returning from a Caribbean cruise who my become stranded in Orlando. Well, hurt me, there are a lot worse places to be stranded and I myself once had to ride out a northeast snowstorm in Orlando. 

Well, with my bed imitation of a staunch New Englander, I say bring it on. Give me your best shot because I'm pretty sure I'll still be standing when the snow clears and springtime arrives.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Signs in the Sky

For centuries, millennia even, mankind has looked to the heavens to foretell events on transpiring here on Earth. 

There are now only eight real planets with the demotion of Pluto.
Nonetheless, five of the seven planets (not counting Earth because we are standing on it) are going to be visible in the morning sky fro about 45 minutes before dawn (weather permitting) for the next almost two months.

That is pretty spectacular. 

A New York Times article, Prepare for a Celestial Spectacle as Five Planets Align, describes how to find and view the event. If you have a cellphone, perhaps Heavens-Above can help you find and view the aligned planets. 

Perhaps you can divine what amazing event will be related to the alignment of the planets.

Have a look, it is another fantastic event brought to you by the creator if the universe!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Journeys--Beginning and Endings

I made an interesting calculation. Taking the years I have lived in my house and figuring that I probably travel in or out of my driveway about 4 times per day--on average, some days more and some less, I figured out that I have made about 22,000 journey beginnings or endings.

My Driveway--During a Warmer Season
The is an incredible number, and its accuracy is almost irrelevant.

When I think about 22,000 trips across my driveway in a car it reinforces the whole idea that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

And yet yesterday, there were no trips across my driveway. It was cold and we just did not have anywhere that we needed to go. There was a fire in the fireplace and small projects to be accomplished around the house. 

As I reflected on all of the journeys that began or ended in my driveway, I realized that despite their distance, it is almost always good to be home when the trip is complete. Even if the car is full of groceries than need to be unloaded.

While some people maintain that it is about the journey and not the destination, I'm not sure that I agree. I am a big fan of getting home.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday Musings - January 18, 2016

Snow on the Heavenly Bamboo Berries
1. Snow, in small non-accumulating amounts, can be pretty.

2. Football is an unforgiving game. One fumble can change the entire game. 

3. I was able to get in a round golf this weekend--amazing. the conditions were wet, but it was good to get out onto the course.

4. I am happy to see that Iran may be attempting to participate on the international stage responsibly. Releasing the US sailors and yesterday releasing the prisoners. 

5. Winter may have arrived. It snowed yesterday and it is 17 degrees outside this morning.

Makayla on the Floor
6. I wish I could lay on the floor and relax like I used to when I was a kid. At least Makayla has no problems. 

7. It is the day we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr

8. I read an interesting article about Tesla and their cars having the ability to park themselves in the garage. Someday, they may be able to drive themselves across the country to pick you up! I just wish they weren't so expensive.

9. The first major snow of the season is forecast for this weekend.

10. On this day in 1778, Captain Cook discovered Hawaii! Wish I was there now.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 17, 2016

ClimbZone Birthday

Lucas, our youngest grandson, turned six and we celebrated yesterday by going to the Climb Zone. I admit, I was a bit skeptical about the venue--but that quickly was replaced by awe at the astounding facility that I walked into for the party.

The facility was alive with bright climbing walls and excitement. What a great place for a birthday party--the kids exercise before they eat cake and fattening foods. There was adequate supervision and assistance for all of the attendees. 

Tina and her niece Keeley had some fun on the wall together.

It was an awesome place, and even Chris managed into a harness to do some climbing. It was her inaugural experience and she loved it. I have a few videos to supplement the pictures from yesterday. She was a bit tentative about jumping off--but soon became a pro at the whole experience. 

I highly recommend this place. 

And yes, I forgot to reorient the camera to the normal video style--Oh well, live and learn.

Some exciting early Saturday morning entertainment and fun. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Reflections of the Jackpot

Chatting with friends and coworkers about the recent Powerball jackpot and their plans should lightening strike and they had won, I was struck by the sense of sharing the fortune with others that most everyone displayed. 

Everyone agreed that the windfall was more than enough to provide for their personal needs for the rest of their lives and that others, including family, friends, and charitable organizations like churches would also share in the winnings.

This thinking represents some of the best of what makes us Americans. Despite being flooded with enough money to make all of our dreams come true on a selfish level, we were also looking to share the windfall!

This was true in my case as well. I am not a regular lottery player, but the incredible size of the jackpot caused me to buy a few tickets. I admit that it was fun to dream and I too had determined to share the winnings with family, friends, and my church. I believe it was healthy to dream a bit and assess my core values and then to reassure myself that even living in a society focused on the "me," I could still think in terms of "we" and "they" and "us!"

2 bucks and a dream! If you don't play you can't win (well unless someone in your family or a close friend does)

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Cat's Life

Riordin, one of our cats, is strange. 

Riordin in a Box
It is humorous how strange he is.

He loves boxes. I had a box on the counter last night and while I only turned my back for a few short moments, he crawled inside and claimed it. 

I had only just opened the box and removed the contents moments before.

He was completely inside the box. I had to work to get him out so that I could recycle the container.

Last week during our Friday evening party, he decided that one of the guests needed his hair washed. And he washed his hair.

I'm not sure it was necessary, but it surely was funny.

Riordin has a way of making his presence known. 

I guess that is what makes him such an interesting cat.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 14, 2016

My Take: NFL Debacle

I watched some terrible NFL football this weekend. One game was decided in the waning moments by two penalties. And although the team I was cheering for won, it was not a good way for an NFL game to end.

Other games were fraught with poor officiating and mental mistakes that should not occur in a professional game. One other team was penalized twice on the same drive for having too many men on the field.

Football is losing its hold on the American public. The veneer is getting thin.

I was pleased to read yesterday that one player received a three-game suspension for his illegal hits during one of the games. The article detailing the punishment was reported by CBS Sports.

There is too much money involved in football. Look at last year's playoffs were we had Deflategate. What is the reward for cheating, obstructing justice, and destroying evidence? Super Bowl MVP. Why? Money.

What is wrong with this picture.

My Take: The NFL is rewarding the wrong attributes in its players. Sportsmanship had gone the way of the dinosaur. Professional football needs an overhaul to return to its roots and to get the thuggishness out of the game.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Snow Arrives

Snow arrived yesterday in Maryland for the inaugural event of the season.

It didn't accumulate and it was mostly a non-event. It is amazing that the weather media had been forecasting the event for almost the entire day yesterday.

It was a dusting.

It was cold. I had to bring wood in for the fireplace and I can confirm that it was very cold.

Too cold.

I saw some snow falling from the sky. It was cold and not at all pretty.

I guess winter has finally arrived in Maryland! I read that the Syracuse, NY, school district got enough snow to have their first snow day of the season. I'm glad I'm not there. Winter seems to be arriving everywhere.

I wish that it had not. But,  two months from today I expect to be playing golf in Florida!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, Md

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bird Feeding

Squirrel at the Feeder
Chris is very dedicated to our feathery friends and there are no less than three bird feeders strategically positioned around the house to provide needed supplement feeding during the winter months. 

We enjoy the varieties of birds and especially some of the transients that fly though our region in advance of the winter and then preceding the springtime.

The bane of the feeders, however, are the squirrels! They are everywhere. We have deployed squirrel resistant feeders--to no avail. 

The birds are welcome, the squirrels--not so much.

We still have a long winter ahead of us and the temperatures are beginning to fall more into the normal range. 

Maybe I can get some pictures of some birds, soon!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Musings - January 11, 2016

1. Amazingly, for the middle of January, the high temperature yesterday was 63 degrees! It was fabulous!

2. The days are getting longer, although not much yet. They have lengthened from 9:23:59 on December 21 and 22 to 9:37:01 today. But, the days are finally beginning to lengthen by more than a minute per day. On January 26th we will cross over the 10 hour mark!

3. Christmas is completely back into the box. The outside decorations were removed over the weekend and we are officially ready for Springtime! Perhaps Winter is going to pass us by?

4. In an interesting twist, all four of the road teams won their NFL playoff games over the weekend. I guess there was little advantage to hosting playoff games.

5. Will you be playing the Powerball on Wednesday? 

6. On this date in 1813, the first pineapples were planted in Hawaii. Now that is an amazing fact that I really needed to know!

B-52 Flying over south Korea
as reported in the Washington Post
7. As reported in the Washington Post, a powerful US bomber flew low over South Korea the other day in response to the alleged North Korean nuclear test. I'm amazed that a 60 year old bomber can still be considered "powerful." But you gotta love the B-52.

8. Does anyone else think there is something fundamentally wrong when an actor interviews one of the most wanted men in the world?  Actor Sean Penn secretly interviewed Mexico’s ‘El Chapo’ in hideout. If he could get to the hideout, why not the authorities?

9. Well, the vacation conundrum is solved. Plans have been cemented! 

10. Did anyone else notice that Jordan Spieth finished the first PGA tournament of 2016 with a 30 shot under par victory?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lotto Frenzy

Did you buy a Powerball ticket for last night's astoundingly over $900 million jackpot? 

No one won!


The jackpot for the next drawing is expected to be over $1.3 Billion! Yup, that is a billion. 

2 bucks and a dream!

Yes, I bought a few tickets. It is fun to dream about what I could do with a substantial sum of money. I cannot even begin to fathom having access to those kinds of fiscal resources. Of course, every government and agency will get a piece of the winnings and then there will be fiscal management firms and investment discussions,  but after it is all said and done I could be very happy on a couple hundred million dollars.  Really!

It is fun to dream and see where my heart's desire lies.

I wonder who will win on Wednesday?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Take: Speeding Laws

Traffic laws, in my opinion, are among some of the most arbitrarily enforced laws in our society. They are a clear example of the concept of lack of absolute right or wrong.

Traffic speed cameras in Maryland do not ticket people unless they are traveling 12 MPH over the posted speed limit. We believe that police, on the other hand, grand only 10 MPH before a citation may be given. Now in Washington, DC, they want to significantly increase traffic fines for people going 25 MPH or more above the posted speed limit. The Washington Post article titled $1,000 speeding ticket, other proposed traffic fines in D.C. likely to be cut

Maryland Speed Camera
We need a better way of enforcing speeding laws. Some areas have such unreasonably low speeds that they clearly are going to be violated and are perceived as a "speed trap." There is a stretch of road near me that goes down a hill with no houses on either side for about a half mile on which the speed limit is 30 MPH. This area should have a 45 MPH limit. Why? Because everyone does it and 30 MPH should be reserved for residential areas.

Arbitrary speed limits with inconsistent enforcement generates contempt for traffic laws. I have a theoretical traffic situation: It is 2AM, no one else is in sight on the highway in any direction and I am at a stop light waiting for it to turn green to proceed. Why? At that hour and in full recognition of the local condition should I not be able to proceed cautiously through the light?

Speeding is similar. Sometimes going the speed limit is too fast based upon conditions.

I'm not sure there is an answer--but I think Washington, DC, may be onto something but trying to set a truly enforced limit.

My Take: All speed limits should be raised 10-15 MPH, except hospital and school zones, and enforced with no grace factor. A 55 MPH limit would become 70 MPH and speeding tickets with significant fines would be given starting at 71 MPH. It takes the fudge factor out of driving and places the responsibility for determining the correct speed for conditions squarely on the driver.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 8, 2016

Evening at Home

Last evening was one of those rare evenings where the craziness of the workday actually ended and I was able to enjoy time in the evening just chilling.  

It was a strange situation, however, because I had a roaring fire in the fireplace to ward off the cold and I was watching the PGA Golf Tournament from Hawaii.

It was warm and sunny in Hawaii--the golfers were wearing short-sleeve shirts and hitting monster golf shots. I wished that I too was in Hawaii wandering the course.

Before the darkness arrived I even went outside where I practiced my golf swing and hit a few balls up and down the yard working with my relatively new attack wedge. But it was cold and my hands soon became numb. Golf is not a lot of fun when it is cold--the club striking the ball can really send shockwaves into the hands which make me wonder, why did I do that?

But I wasn't--and in truth that wasn't so bad. I went back into the house and realized that I was at home with my dog and cats and even Chris, who showed up after a bit. It all helped take my mind off the events of the day, including the continuing crash of the stock market because the Chinese bubble may have finally burst.

And now? Queue the weekend!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Next Up: Vacation Plans

This morning the temperature outside my door was 15 degrees warmer than a the same time yesterday. It was 29 degrees! Cold. I am already dreaming of vacationing on a warm Caribbean island.

Chris on Curacao 2015
Chris and I began the planning for summer vacation in earnest last evening. Destination? Well, as close as we could get was the Caribbean--somewhere. We did determine that we want to experience somewhere that we have not been and so that actually excludes a few places. 

But it is stressful. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable, why is the planning process so stressful?

So many questions. Are we going to do a land vacation, or a cruise? A resort or on the economy? 

Despite the mundane, the dreaming is very nice, especially on the third consecutive below freezing morning. Give me a hot, sandy beach somewhere with a cold drink in my hand and my snorkeling gear at my side.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Decoration Downer

The Tree is Gone
The Christmas decorations are  in their boxes and ready to be stowed.

That has been the activity of the past couple of nights. It is almost fitting that we have nearly completed removing the Christmas decorations just in time to remember Three Kings Day

Well, it is also a bit sad. Removing the decorations puts a period at the end of the paragraph that is the Christmas season. All of the preparations that run from before Thanksgiving until the big day. The house was festively decorated and has now returned to its almost normal state. 

A few vestiges of the holiday remain, the poinsettia, for instance. I still need to remove the exterior lights--it has been too cold since our return from upstate NY to get that task completed. 

I guess it is time to begin looking forward to Springtime and Spring Training. Which are good things.

Although the days are supposed to be getting longer, I'm not seeing it yet. Christmas is behind me and I'm waiting for the sunshine!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Take: Thank You is so Hard to Say

Perhaps it was because it was the holiday season and there were so many more opportunities to say the words, "Thank You," but it became apparent to me that they are some of the hardest words in the English language.

Some people just cannot say "thank you" at all. They may say volumes of words trying to express their feeling of gratitude, but they never actually say the words themselves.

The are also those people who say "thank you" but then add a volume of qualifiers which make the giver feel like they really are not grateful for the gift. And I have even had people say so much after trying to say "thank you" that I felt guilty for the gift or the act of kindness. And often the offer to pay me for my time or cost involved with the activity. If I wanted to be paid, it wouldn't be a gift.

There are of course others who do not say "thank you" in any form at all.  The don't even try to say anything resembling "thank you" because apparently it would acknowledge weakness. They are the entitled ones who believe that what was given was owed them. There are more and more of these people every day who do not appreciate the efforts of others. It is say.

My Take? I like to receive and give a simple unqualified "thank you." Nothing more is needed because the receiver recognizes the efforts of the activity. Adding words only minimizes the activity or the effort. 

And when I am the giver, and someone says "thank you" I always like to respond with a simple and unqualified, "you're welcome!"

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday Musings - January 4, 2016

1. Happy New Year! And it is already four days old. Many of us are back to school and work today for the first time this year. 

2. I think I have discovered the two most difficult words in English when put together: Thank you.

3. Holidays take so long to arrive, but then pass so quickly.

4. The NFL regular season is thankfully over for the Ravens and 19 other teams in the league. Congratulations to the Redskins, Steelers, and Texans--specifically among the 12 teams that made the playoffs. 

Crossing the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, PA
January 3, 2016
5. The sun was out yesterday and at times the sky was clear and blue! I appreciate it more after a long week of overcast and gloom.

6. I snapped a quick image, while traveling at about 60 MPH of the beautiful day and the reflections on the Susquehanna River yesterday--it made leaving the dark and gloom of Central New York even more pleasing.

7. It is just 45 days until Orioles Pitchers and Catchers report for Spring Training!

8. How much longer can we continue to say "Happy New Year?"

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Out the Window - Ithaca

Dawn on January 2, 2016
Ithaca, NY
It has been a while since I have traveled and my "Out the Hotel Window" blogs have suffered.

Yesterday, while I was admiring the frozen wasteland set before me in Upstate New York, I realized that I was indeed admiring the view outside the window through which I was looking.

It was about 28 degrees and the snow had fallen during the night covering the land.

I wrote about the snow yesterday, but there it was, outside the window and all around. I had to deal with it while hoping to soon return south.

As I write this, I am driving through Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania, returning to Maryland. The snow is a memory. But there it was yesterday, outside the window.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Shamokin Dam, PA

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Snow, Why does it have to be snow?

Snow Fall
January 1, 2016
To celebrate New Year's Day, we drove north to return Mom and Dad to Ithaca and complete their all too short visit.

While the weather in Maryland has been warm and rainy, we were just about two hours into the journey north when the percolation changed. It was snowing.

It snowed off and of for most of the last half of the trip. With the exception of some of the high mountain areas there was no appreciable accumulation. It was, however, an ever present nuisance.

I'm definitely over snow.

The song from the movie Frozen keeps reeling in my mind: "do you wanna build a snowman?" My response is simple, no I want to build a sand castle on a hot, sunny beach.

I'm hoping for a mostly snowless winter in Maryland.

Wel now it's on to stowing the Christmas decorations. Hopefully the snow will be light and not too intrusive.

The image below was taken as the snow fell last night. Ugh? I definitely prefer rain.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Day

Times Square
New York City
Happy New Year.

Here's hoping that your 2016 is better than 2015.

It was a great, but somewhat subdued ending to the year. Instead of the normal revelry with our friends, Chris and I went to dinner at Victoria Gastro Pub with Mom and Dad and then watched a movie while waiting for the main event--the ball to drop in Times Square.

Dinner at Victoria Gastro Pub
December 31, 2015
It was generally an uneventful day to end the year. the weather was beautiful and mild which added to the enjoyment of the day.

And so, as the new year begins, rom all of us to you--Happy New Year.

--Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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