Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Holiday Weekend in Review

It was a crazy holiday weekend.

It seemed that every time something was turned on or used, it broke. I spent hours fixing things--like the pool heaters, faucets, door knobs, and the like. I can tell that the infrastructure of my house is aging. 

Did I golf? No. Why? Because the weathermen were not accurate with their forecasts. It always seemed like rain was forecast, but in reality the the rain only occurred in ernest on Sunday afternoon. 

I also learned that the local wildlife love my house. In addition to the fawn, I have seen baby bunnies and two juvenile woodchucks in the yard. Add to that the juvenile brown snake I helped out of the pool on Saturday morning and we are blessed with a few too many juvenile animals in the area.

I also worked on Jeremy's Jeep and helped him to add additional lights. That was an enjoyable distraction from cleaning and repairing. 

Somewhere during the weekend there was a truckload of mulch, multiple shopping excursions, trips to Lowe's for parts, and even a little lounging in the pool.

Chris with the Three Dogs
Did I mention dog sitting for two additional canines? Yup, Florence and Arthur were with us for the holiday weekend. The bed got a bit crowded.

I was able to watch the rain pummel my roof and confirmed that my new gutter leaf guards did their jobs--there was no overflow! Yay!

The highlight of the weekend was, of course, the holiday family picnic. I felt Chris' pain as the date for the picnic waffled between Sunday and Monday depending upon the weather report. In the end, we got the better day on Monday and the picnic was a grand success. The pool was a balmy 82 degrees and the day was mercifully dry. 

I'm looking forward to the short week ahead, but it seems that Mondays which fall on Tuesdays are some of the busiest days!

With Memorial Day weekend behind me, I can now focus on the summer ahead. If only the weather will hold.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday Musings - May 30, 2016

1. It is Memorial Day. Take a moment to remember those who gave all for our freedoms. Read the words the President Ronald Reagan spoke at Arlington National Cemetery during 1982.

2. My pool made it to 82 degrees yesterday! It was awesome, until the rains came. Again!

3. I can't believe how bad travel problems are at airports. Yesterday a computer problem snarled travelers at JFK. At one point 1500 people were in lines waiting to be checked in for their flights.

4. The killing of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo yesterday is  reminder that zoo animals are wild, but the visitors bear responsibility for being safe as well. How did the 4 year old boy wind up in the gorilla enclosure in the first place? What were his parents doing? 

5. The weather has become a stressor. The weathermen can't seem to get a forecast right.

6. What a great way to win the Indianapolis 500--cross the finish line and then run out of gas and have to be towed to the winner's circle. Sometimes it is that way trying to get to a gas station.

7. New York City is making menu reading harder. They are now including salt content. Does anyone try to read the warning labels on everything we receive? The letters are too small to read without a magnifying glass.

8. Landing a space launch booster on a barge is an incredible feat. Elon Musk's SpaceX did it again! How Buck Rogers is that? The video in the linked article is really cool!

OK, I thought it was so cool that I included it here!

9. Did I mention that the Orioles managed to win a close game yesterday!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Visit from Bambi

Fawn in the Garden
May 28, 2016
I was startled yesterday as Chris and I were working around the house. We had been outside about an hour when, as I rounded the corner on the side of the house nearest the wooded area, there nestled under the lilac bush and in the Lily of the Valley patch was a fawn.

Hiding in almost plain sight, but very quiet and still, was Bambi!

We have a small herd of deer that traverse the wooded area behind the house and love to eat our plants. 

After discussing the situation with Chris and phoning a friend for some advice, we decided to clear the area and suspend our outdoor work for a couple of hours to see if its mother would return to retrieve the fawn.

I searched the internet and ran across an extremely informational site that set our minds to rest about the situation.  We learned that the fawn had probably not been abandoned and was not in any distress. I highly recommend reading this document titled, Do You Know How To Tell If That Fawn Really Needs Your Help??? It answered all of our questions and reassured us that the situation would resolve itself. 

The most important thing we learned from our reading was that this would probably be an all day event. The doe would likely not return until dusk. We also learned that the fawn was less than three weeks old.

The fawn stayed in its spot all day. It was quiet, but aware, and only moved when its location came into full sun. It moved three feet to more shaded spot under the lilac bush. 

We checked on it throughout the day and kept the dogs and kids away from it. We did advertise its presence to the neighbors who took some pictures, but did not otherwise disturb the small fawn.

Sometime between about 6:30 and 7:30 PM, the fawn disappeared. The house and the yard had been quiet for a couple of hours and we believe that its mother returned and took it away into the woods. We had hoped to catch a glimpse of mother and fawn together, but alas, it was not to be.

While we enjoyed our wildlife encounter, because it added a different dimension to the weekend, we hope it doesn't return for another day for free babysitting.

I checked the area this morning and as of 5:49 AM, the fawn had not returned. I have no idea whether deer reuse the same spots. I know that they traverse the same paths.

And that is the story of our real world encounter with Bambi.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Changing Laws for the Better

Our society has criminalized some of the most minor things. For instance, having an open container of alcohol in public in New York City was a misdemeanor, a criminal offense! 

Think about it--why would that be a criminal offense? With mandatory jail time and a permanent record? It was the same for littering and urinating in public. The Washington Free Beacon reports this morning that that is all changing. 

As quoted from an Associated Press article in The Washington Free Beacon:

The [New York] City Council on Wednesday passed a series of criminal justice reforms to sharply curtail the punishments for low-level offenses such as littering and peeing in public, an overhaul intended to help unclog the courts and jails of the nation’s largest city.
The Criminal Justice Reform Act alters the penalties for certain offenses, including possessing an open container of alcohol in public. Though the offenses will remain illegal, the legislation steers them to civil court rather than criminal court.
Public urination and most offenses in public parks will be downgraded from misdemeanors to violations and reduces the available jail penalties to just one day for violations. Currently, jail time could stretch up to 90 days for such offenses.

I am glad the courts will have more time to address those larger issues rather than being bogged down by these lesser (nuisance) offenses.

If you want to see some of the strangest criminal laws in existence in the United States, I recommend reviewing the article titled Here Are The Most Ridiculous Laws In Every State, compiled by Business Insider. I thought Ohio and Idaho were especially entertaining. And who says,  "Truth is funnier than fiction?" I can't make this stuff up. (BTW, it was Mark Twain)

Food for thought on the Memorial Day weekend.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend Arrives

The first, albeit unofficial, weekend of the summer season has arrived. 

I am not disappointed with the weather outlook. The first weekend of summer is a stark contrast to last weekend when we were suffering with highs in the 50's and cold rain. This weekend the lows are in the upper 60's with the highs approaching 90! Bring it on!

As I walked out of work last evening, I was hit with a blast of hot, yes it was hot and humid, air that instantly reminded my of how much I love summer. It was far better than the icy cold blast of winter and the bone chilling wet days of even last week. I strode to my convertible, named Cat, and put the top down relishing in knowing that in a few minutes I would be feeling the warm wind in my hair as I drove home in crushing rush hour traffic.

My pool is still at a chilly 66 degrees, but that is nothing that more sunshine and a little propane cannot fix. I am seriously thinking of building a solar heater for the pool. 

I was coaching at the GORC Pirates baseball game last evening, with sweat falling into my eyes and I fully appreciated that I was in shorts and a golf shirt. The sun was shining bright into my eyes and it felt like summer.

I am glad that the weather has finally caught up with the calendar.

If you are traveling this weekend, be safe. Whatever you do--please take a moment to remember those who "gave all" and those who are on the front lines of conflict around the globe protecting and securing the freedoms we enjoy.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, May 26, 2016

O's Sag

Baseball is a long-haul sport. 

Teams go through good times and bad during the course of a season. In football, a three-game losing streak might end a playoff run. In baseball, it is just the way a series may play out.

The Orioles are amidst a three-game losing streak in Houston after losing their last two the Astros. Both games were one run losses and one was a 13 inning extra inning game. Losing the past two games is frustrating, because earlier in the season the O's were winning extra inning and one-run games. On a good note, last night they made four errors (that's not the good part, wait for it) and still only lost by one run.

Clearly the problem is not pitching (although the starting pitcher had two errors last night). The problem is hitting, or rather the lack of timely hitting. 

Last night, for example, the O's had 11 hits! 
They scored only 3 runs while leaving 12 men on base!  
They committed 4 errors! They had only committed 18 errors (the fewest in all of baseball) in their previous games this season.

The night before, they had 8 hits, scored 2 runs, and left 11 men on base. And had 19 strike outs!

Losing on Tuesday night in 13 innings was the Orioles first walk-off loss of the season!

On Tuesday night, the team batting average was .190, well below their season average of .259 (as a team), Wednesday night it was a more respectable .289 (but they still lost).

Baseball has a lot of statistics--but in reality there is only one statistic that really matters--putting a "1" in the win column.

I don't mind winning ugly, but losing ugly really hurts. 

Another great thing about baseball? They get to play again today.

Let's Go O's!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

First in a String

Looking Back Toward the 17th Tee Box
Timbers at Troy Golf Course
Last evening I headed out after work and enjoyed a round of golf at my local course. It was a momentous event given the incredible cold and rain of the past weeks.

I wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt--and was comfortable. I think there was even some sweat as I enjoyed the first 80 degree day during May. It was such a beautiful day and I didn't mind sharing the course with a family of geese. They watched me closely, but did not seem too perturbed by my presence. The goslings were happy to be finding food protected under the watchful eye of the adults.

Looking at the forecast, it appears that the cycle of cold, gloom, and rain is finally broken. Every day from now until June 3rd is forecast for 80 degree temperatures and no appreciable rain. June 3rd may break the string of great weather, but that is still days away and as I am fully aware, the weather can and will change. Sure, there are thunderstorms in the forecast--I can deal with those. 

Today looks as if it will be the second day in a row of moderate and enjoyable weather. I will be able to do the lawn work that I didn't start last evening because I was out whacking a small white ball with a club. 

I had to get out and enjoy the great weather. 

Memorial Day weekend is looking great!

Bring on the pool and the celebrations.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My Take: TSA Damage Control

It appears to be a case of "too little, too late" and with that colloquialism I am referring to the replacement of the T.S.A."s security chief.

The New York Times article describes the situation and the replacement of the official in an article titled, T.S.A. Replaces Security Chief as Tension Grows at Airports and Agency

The entire security situation at many airports around the country has devolved into a nightmare for travelers and it appears that in terms of security, based upon the statistics, we are not really safe.  Security screeners failed 95 percent of the time to identify fake weapons and explosives in covert tests. For that record, and the incredibly long lines that I have been seeing on television, the chief of security was given a $90,000 bonus paid in $10,000 increments.

But the Summer travel season is already upon us! And the situation is not getting better, only worse.

Security Lines at Chicago O'Hare International Airport
In related moves, the TSA administrator apparently replaced the leadership team at Chicago O'Hare to help with the problems. The NY Times article describes the situation there:

On Sunday, hundreds of passengers, including 450 on American Airlines alone, missed flights because of waits of two or three hours in security lines, according to local news reports. Many of the passengers had to spend the night in the terminal sleeping on cots.
The T.S.A. has sent 58 additional security officers and four more bomb-sniffing dog teams to O’Hare. Last week, Mr. Neffenger apologized to passengers and briefed officials in Chicago about efforts to address the crushing delays.

I am glad that I am not traveling very much. I hate standing in security lines and missing my flight.

My Take: The moves by the TSA are principally superficial. The agency is failing to address the problems with security and have spent too much time trying to develop spectacular technology while ignoring the fundamental need for a motivated, trained workforce.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Musing - May 23, 2016

1. It rained so much over the weekend that I was greeted by a man at my door yesterday afternoon inquiring about the availability of gopher wood. His name was Noah.

2. I played nine holes of golf yesterday morning in the rain. We were supposed to play 18, but came to our senses half way through.

3. It has been so cold and rainy that many of us are beginning to wonder if we relocated to Seattle in our sleep?

4. Historical thought of the day, from the Washington Post: Hamilton’s great fear was that American democracy would be destroyed by demagogues who would “mouth populist shibboleths to conceal their despotism.” 

As of May 22, 2016
From ESPN.com
5. The Orioles have the best record in the American League. There is no time for celebration, however, because the team with the second best record is .005 behind and in second place in the division. 

6. I realized that I don't actually hold newspapers in my hands to read them anymore. I read them on line. I miss the smell of newsprint with my coffee in the morning.

7. My lawn needs to be mowed. That is something that cannot be done in the rain.

8. Maybe the Vietnam war is over! According to the Washington Post, "The Obama administration announced Monday that the United States would fully lift a longstanding U.S. embargo on lethal arms sales to Vietnam, a decision that reflects growing concerns about China’s military clout and illustrates the warming bilateral ties between the former enemy nations."

9. Does anyone else remember when Vietnam was written Viet Nam?

10. The forecast for today is 70's and chance of a thunderstorm. At least it will be 15 degrees warmer.  

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Day for the Pluviophile

After two days of warmer temperatures and sunshine, I have to report that the sun never shone yesterday.

It rained most of the day and the gloom was pervasive. That bright orb in the sky was a no show.

I did manage a trip to the golf driving range to hit some unsuspecting balls, however, that was the only respite form the weather that I could manage.

My pool is looking inviting--if only the temperature wasn't still in the 60's!

I learned a new word and then discovered that I am not a pluviophile!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Two Evenings in a Row

Two evenings in a row I was able to be outside both without rain and in short sleeve shirts. 

It was fantastic. 

That streak ends today, however, because it is raining, again.

But I revel in the memories of Thursday's GORC Pirates baseball game which was played in sunshine and then sitting around my pool with friends last evening. 

Two evenings without rain and with temperatures warm enough to be warm is a record for the past few months here in Baltimore. 

I was even able to see a sunset! Not the one imaged in the picture here, but one nearly as beautiful. And yesterday morning, a sunrise!

I am looking forward to the summer ahead. One day at a time!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fraud Protection Fraud

I had an interesting experience last evening. I received a call from the fraud protection department of one of the credit companies I do business with. Apparently some of my purchases set off their fraud protection program and they were calling to verify some of the charges on my bill.

Although this is not the first time that this has happened--usually I receive the call there is real fraud involved and it is an indication that my credit card has been compromised, my experience last night was different.

The answering machine contained theca form the fraud alert center. I debated returning it; however, I knew that if the call were genuine I would not be able to use my card when I wanted it.

My problem was simply--how do I verify that the call is not a fraudulent call?

As I dialed the phone and the classic voice in using broken english answered, my trepidation grew. Then the questions and the exchange of information. 

Still, how do I verify that the fraud center that I am calling is not fraudulent? 

The person on the other end of the phone offered to connect me with customer service, give me a number to call back, and other inadequate means of verification. Each of those ideas represent a potential fraud avenue.

As it turned out, after a few tense minutes on the phone, I felt that the information they were asking for was publicly available and gave it to the person who then asked me about three charges legitimate charges.

But the question remains, how can I protect myself from fraud protection fraud? 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Another Cold and Gloomy Night

May 18, 2016
I went to the Orioles-Mariners baseball game last evening. 

The Orioles won a well played game and I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the outing, but that would not be true.

It was there again--the weather.

At a time of year when I should be in a short sleeved shirt, shorts, and sandals; I was bundled up in two layers of shirts with a heavy coat. And I was cold!

Look at the overcast, gray skies in the picture of the stadium that I took last evening. I just looks cold. 

Even holding my obligatory baseball game cold beverage made my hand cold!

To add to the misery, it drizzled off and on all evening accompanied by a biting wind. 

The temperature at game time was 63 degrees, but by 9:30 had dipped into the 50's.

I long for the hot, 90 degree days of summer when I am sweltering in my seat with sweat rolling down my face making my cold beverage taste even that much better--until it gets warm.

I should enjoy the game more. The Orioles have the best home record in baseball (17-7) and the second best winning percentage in baseball. The enjoy a half-game lead over our arch rivals from Beantown and the team whose name shall remain unspoken is languishing 7.5 games back at the bottom of the division. 

I just wish the weather would become normal and that we would get a respite from the pervasive rain.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bathroom Battles

With everything else happening in our society today, the bathroom battle being waged in legislatures across the land is one of those things that I have trouble understanding.

This issue is becoming an emotional one, but I think it deserves to be explored. First off, what is the difference between a bathroom and a restroom? We use the terms interchangeably, but are they? I think not. 

I found this definition on the internet: Toilet is the actual equipment you use to "do your business" (i.e., to urinate or defecate). Bathroom literally means the whole room, in which there is a toilet, a bathtub, and a sink. Restroom is generally used for public spaces (such as restrooms in a restaurant or a rest stop along the freeway.)

An editorial in the Washington Post this morning titled, How the psychology of public bathrooms explains the "bathroom bills," helped me to gain additional perspective, since I am apparently one of those people who do not have a problem using public restrooms. 

The article ends with the following statement: "By focusing our basic fears and making the gender divide so conspicuous, bathrooms are lightning rods for the sorts of hysteria we are now witnessing. Freud wouldn’t have been at all surprised."

Earlier in the article the fears of our society are addressed. I did not realize that up to 15 percent of people have so much anxiety about public restrooms that they schedule their days around their personal habits. The article points out that,  "These fears reflect both the vulnerability we feel in bathrooms and our expectation that these spaces are, and should be, strictly divided by sex. That’s nothing new. Public restrooms have always been riddled with anxiety and conflict. They’ve been sites of panic over contagious diseases, scandalous revelations about lewd behavior and political struggles over “potty parity” between men and women. The current controversy is only the latest saga."

The concerns being expressed about safety will not be mitigated by enacting discriminatory legislation. 

From my perspective there is sufficient privacy in modern public restrooms and no one else needs to know if a transgender person is using the facility. An NPR article titled When a Transgender Person Uses a Public Bathroom, Who is at Risk? confirms that: 

". . . some people just don't understand that when it comes time for a transgender person to start using the other restroom, they'd rather do it privately, and with as little fuss as possible.

"The last thing you as a trans person would want to do is draw attention to yourself. . . "

So I wonder, what is the real problem? Food for thought.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Take: Crippled Court

The Supreme Court still has only eight members. They appear fairly evenly split on major issues. 

Despite the contention that the lack of confirming and seating a ninth judge not hamper justice or the interpretation of the constitutionality of issues, the court is resorting to sending some issues back to lower courts with instructions to work out a compromise.

The New York Times this morning, in its article titled, The Crippled Supreme Court, describes the situation and the problem.

Fundamentally, the Supreme Court is not supposed be involved in proposing compromises. The article states: "The court’s job is not to propose complicated compromises for individual litigants; it is to provide the final word in interpreting the Constitution and the nation’s laws."

With only eight members our constitutional freedoms are at risk. 

Just as with the annual budget battles that leave our government crippled, the delay in confirming a ninth justice for the Supreme Court is another area in which the Congress, in this case specifically the Senate, is failing to discharge its constitutionally directed responsibilities. 

Can the Congress be unconstitutional?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday Musings - May 16, 2016

1. The Baltimore region's string of consecutive days with at least a trace of rain ended on Thursday at 15. That was two days short of the record. I am glad that it is over, except that it is still raining nearly every day. 
Patrick next to Testudo
May 15, 2016

2. Now that the rain has ended it is cold. 38 degrees this morning.

3. Chris and I enjoyed attending the University of Maryland University College ceremony in which the degree of Master of Science in Cybersecurity was conferred upon Patrick! Congrats Patrick!

Jeremy at Eisenhower on May 16, 2016
As Dawn Breaks
4. I managed 54 holes of golf over three days this weekend! Yay. I wish my scores were better, but the practice is really beginning to pay off in some areas of my game like putting and chipping. Now if I could just hit my driver reliably.

5. Sometimes projects happen and I'm not around to help and participate. A jeep was significantly modified in my driveway yesterday.

Jeremy's Jeep at the start of the project
6. Why is it so cold outside this morning?

7. Did anyone notice that the Orioles, even with their loss yesterday have the second best record in Major League Baseball?

8. The world's reported oldest person died at 116. Her successor is also 116 years-old and she lives in Italy and is also the last documented living person born during the 1800's. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dawn on the Course

Despite the continuing rainy days, I made it out yesterday to enjoy sunrise on a local golf course. 

Even in the image in snapped of the sun rising through the trees, a pool of water can be seen in the lower right corner. Yes, it has rained that much. 

It was exciting to be first off the tee and the first ones to walk across the dew laden fairways. Of course it was wet, too. I snapped the image of Trevar walking across the first fairway just to document the moment. The sun is low on the trees in the background.

It turned out to be a beautiful day not only for golf, but for other celebrations as well. 

Until about 3:30 pm when the storms arrived, that is. 

But, at least I was able to begin the day in full sun on the course.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Rain Stopped--For a Few Hours

Finally, last evening, the rains stopped and the mystical orb in the sky, better known as the sun, reappeared and the sky turned blue.

Timbers at Troy
I wanted to take a picture of it. 

It felt good to feel the warmth on my skin and see the blue of the sky. 

I took advantage of the afternoon by hitting a golf course for a relatively frustrating round. But, it was good to be out enjoying the day as the clouds cleared and the sun came out.

More rain is on tap for this afternoon and so the string of consecutive days with precipitation continues unabated.

Enjoy the sun while it shines.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sinks--why did it have be a sink?

The saga continued through four, yup four, new sinks! 

Makayla Investigating the
New Sink on the Doorstep
The frustration factor achieved a  maximum value.

The sink of our dreams (I am going to call it, new sink #3) was delivered yesterday--it did not fit the hole. That's right, the most beautiful sink in the world (doing my best imitation of a country song title) did not fit. It was too small for the existing hole because of its elegant styling!

Ugh! I was totally despondent when Patrick arrived to help me install the sink because I had already determined that the sink installation was doomed from working with the template. I could tell that the sink and my existing hole were not a good match. We unboxed the sink and confirmed that the tapered corners did not fit my rectangular hole!

Because of the tapered design, the new sink
did not fill the existing hole
Did I mention that the sink weighed 110 pounds? So it is not something to with which to be trifled. Yet, similar to its two predecessors, sink #3 is now residing in its box awaiting the return process. This one should be interesting because it was delivered via common carrier. 

The sink hole remained and the mood of the house was depressed. Queue our friends Fran and Mary who arrived to assist with the installation. I needed a miracle! Further confirmation that the sink would not fit and that there was nothing that could be done to alter either the sink or the hole was quickly made and a three-pronged internet search began for sink #4. 

A glimmer of hope filled the house when a sink, with similar construction and finish was located at Lowe's. The difference, and why I had missed during my extensive internet search, was that I had been searching for a two-hole sink--but I could make a four-hole sink work! The holes are for the faucets and the soap dispenser. We already had a new one-hole faucet and a separate soap dispenser that had been modified to work with our old four-hole sink. 

Initial Fit-up of the Sink
From the available people a sink retrieval team was constituted and departed to secure sink #4. Those remaining behind ordered Chinese for dinner. It was a perfectly planned operation.

The expedition to Lowe's was a success. It turns out that even though the sink was not on display in the store, they had two of them. This had been independently confirmed by the internet and an old fashioned telephone call before the retrieval team departed. The intelligence was confirmed and sink #4 was obtained and brought to the scene of the installation. 

Patrick and Francis Completing the Installation
The box was opened and the sink placed in the "sink hole." Cheers erupted from the assembled crowd because this sink, unlike the three previous versions both fit the hole and was acceptable!

From that point on, the mood of the house was jubilant and what is usually the hardest part of any project, the installation, actually proceeded smoothly and without any show stoppers. 

It was almost anti-climactic. Everything fit, even the new disposal, and all of the other parts worked. Surprisingly, even during the operational testing of the sink no leaks were discovered. 

Newly Installed and Fully-Functional Sink
With the Sticker Still on it
Clearly, this sink was meant to fill the hole in our kitchen! And the hole in our lives. 

During the past week we have discovered how important kitchen sinks are to the functioning of a household.

Although the project is not complete because I still have to return sink #3, I am glad that the sink replacement project is over.

My recommendation is that if you think you want a new sink, think again. Sinks were not meant to be replaced independently but rather to be installed with new construction or during kitchen renovations. 

Oh yeah, Happy Mother's Day Chris--your new sink is finally installed.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, May 12, 2016

They Tell Stories . . .

The Sun Still Shines
Stories are told about days that used to be filled with blue skies, warm temperatures and sunshine. 

For the Baltimore region, it has been two weeks since we have seen blue skies and sunshine for an entire day. I remember being so excited about a passing patch of blue sky and sunshine that I took a picture.

It was announced that the region is currently in pursuit of a record stretch of continuous days of precipitation. The record is 18 straight days and we have currently have 15. That is correct--15 straight days which have seen some form of measurable precipitation. It is possible that the string could be broken today.  

It has been almost two weeks since the GORC Pirates were able to play or practice on a baseball field! 

It has been two weeks since Cat (my convertible) left the comfortable confines of the garage and took to the streets for a drive. I may drive it to work this morning just because I can.

In checking the morning weather statistics, there has been no measurable precipitation so far--and it looks good that the string of rainy weather will be broken. Unfortunately, thunderstorms will be in the region for the entire day tomorrow--and I am supposed to play in a golf tournament. Ugh!

Weather is something we deal with daily, but when it becomes newsworthy then it has moved from the dealing into the coping category. 

Here's hoping for sunshine and warmer temperatures. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

That's Why They Play the Game

Despite the gloomy weather forecast, yesterday turned into a good day on the sports front.

Although the skies were overcast and dark when I escaped work with a list of things to accomplish, I made it to the local golf course by about 4:30 and completed 18 holes just before nightfall. I admit that as the sun went down and the temperatures cooled my back tightened up and my tee shots became erratic. But even then it was still fun to be on the course. I was able to par one of the toughest holes on the course despite the gathering darkness.

It felt good to be out playing golf and I met a number of really nice golfers that made the afternoon and evening enjoyable. 

On the professional sports front, the Orioles and the Penguins both went into the last inning or into overtime with the scores knotted at 3. 

Watching the Penguins Stanley Cup Playoff game against the Capitals, I was beginning to doubt that they could win as the three goal lead slipped away into a 3-3 tie at the end of regulation. Three consecutive and overlapping delay of game penalties almost undid the Penguins, but they prevailed with a goal in overtime and eliminated the Capitals from the playoffs..

The Orioles were tied 3-3 against the Twins going into the 9th inning, but a two-run homer by Adam Jones secured the win and continued possession of first place in the AL East. Hopefully that can continue their winning ways today.

All-in-all, a great sports day and evening.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Plans Gone Awry

I used to play in a racquetball league on Tuesday nights. That is something that I have enjoyed, well mostly, for many years. 

This Spring, in a rare moment of forward thinking, I decided to use Tuesday nights for some mid-week golf--which come with reduced rates and fewer golfers on the courses, so that I could work on my game.

Florida Golf Course During March
Here is a recap of my Tuesday golfing experience thus far:

4/19: Trip to Alaska--no golf

4/26: Youth baseball game (I am a coach)-- no golf

5/3: Orioles game (part of my season plan)-- no golf

Today: Nothing else scheduled, but it looks like rain! 

The high temperature today is forecast for the middle 50's! Ugh. 

Well, the weather might clear. The forecast has been wrong before. 

As for golf, I can count the total number of times that I have graced a golf course during April and May on two fingers. And even then the combined number of holes is only 18! At this rate, I probably should go back to playing racquetball on Tuesday evenings.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday Musings - May 9, 2016

1. I hope all of the mother's had a good day yesterday and that they heard from those they love. 

2. Rain plays havoc with youth baseball games. Last week two games were rained out and the week ahead does not look too much better.

At the End of Play
May 8, 2016
3. Why did the best weather of the weekend happen on Sunday--which was Mother's Day and therefore a non-golfing day.

4. Guess which team is in sole possession of first place in the AL East? (Answer: Orioles).

5. The grass seed that I put down a week ago still has not germinated. It has been too cold!

6. Did someone turn the calendar back to March?

7. I noticed that I prefer driving down leafy tree lined roads to the bare-branched ones of winter. Green goes well with my mood.

8. Bryce Harper did something that has never before been done in the history of Major League baseball yesterday, he reached base seven times in a game without getting a hit. He was given 6 walks and was hit by a pitch once. 

9. On this date in 1887, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show opened. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Sliver of Summer Arrives

The Pool Opening Begins
Despite the weather forecast, pool opening day happened!

The pool is open and, while not yet ready for swimming, it completely changes the entire look of the yard. For the better, I might add.

Every Job Needs Good Help
Chris at the Pool
The decision to open the pool occurred when the GORC Pirates baseball game was canceled and there looked like a break in the weather to allow the cover to dry. 

As it turned out, the 90 percent chance of rain during the day turned into 0 percent rain and it was a beautiful, a bit cold, day to get the pool open and running. 
Not the desired Color of the Water

Pool opening day is a big event. It takes a lot of time to get everything done. I had already reconnected the motor and the filter which meant that we were ready to start up the entire system once the cover was off and the plugs were removed.

The water had not done well during the winter. It was pretty green! But odorless--which is a good sign. But the good news is that there are chemicals for that!

The Pool This Morning 
By this morning the pool is looking almost ready for action. I am sure the water temperature is only in the high 50's! A bit cold for a swim unless you are a polar bear.

As the Sun is dawning on this Mother's Day, we have drawn one step closer to Summer and the season of outdoors living. Out outdoors living space is nearly ready. I am amazed at the amount of time it takes to get everything done in preparation for the too short summer season. I am convinced that living in the land of perpetual summer, where people wear winter clothes when the temperature falls into the 60's would be much better.

For now, there are a few more minor things to do around the pool, like putting up the rails and power washing the deck to get everything shipshape. 

That is the easy stuff. The hard stuff is done.

Queue Sun and Summer! Let's Party!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Orb in the Sky

Blue Skies and Sun
May 7, 2016
As dawn broke this morning, something unusual happened--the sun also rose!

The gray skies that have covered the region for the past week parted and I saw patches of blue and sun shining on the still new, green leaves of the trees in my backyard.

It was a refreshing break from the gloom.

Azaleas in Bloom
The forecast is indicates that the sun will be seen for only few short moments today. In fact, as I write this the clouds are already beginning to obscure the scene and herald the arrival of more overcast weather.

My azaleas are attempting to cheer up the scene, but it is an almost futile effort in the face of overwhelming odds.

It is supposed to be pool opening day--that remains to be seen. I don't mind opening the pool in the rain, but it will be cold and I may not be able to properly dry the cover before folding it for storage until September.

At least I know the sun is still there. Maybe it will make more and longer appearances, soon!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, May 6, 2016

It is a Fowl Situation

It appears that the District of Columbia Department of Health picked on the wrong brood (does four really constitute a brood) of chickens when it issued an order on April 27th for them to be removed from a backyard. According to an article in the Washington Post titled, D.C. lawyers are suing the city to keep their four backyard chickens the Health Department received an anonymous complaint. 

The Post article appears pro-chicken because it lays out the logic and the laws which apparently are on the side of the chicken keepers. Apparently, the couple did "due diligence" before introducing the egg producing fowl into their yard by securing the agreement of immediate neighbors. And I noted, there was no mention of a rooster--which would definitely be an annoyance.

This is not the first time that backyard hens have made the news in the region. During July 2013, the Washington Post ran an article about people in some Northern Virginia counties working to allow backyard broods. That article, Backyard hens have residents clucking, describes the work being done to change laws to allow hens but not roosters to be kept in residential areas.

From my experience, children are a lot louder and more destructive than hens! The kids living in the townhouses next to me have knocked down one of my fences and regularly trespass in my yard. They are also extremely loud. I would much prefer a brood next door than the ear piercing screams of one of the children who cannot play quietly. The ice cream truck is another regular evening annoyance as well. 

Limits on the numbers of hens allowed in a residential brood do need to be established because some people just cannot be content not to have too much of a good thing. Additionally, town homes do not seem compatible with chickens either, things are just too close. But, stories abound of hundreds of cats or dogs being found for in homes--which is also against Health Code regulations. And so, with proper care and in limited quantities, I fully would fully support having hens next door!

Especially if they share the eggs!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Scrambled Week

The week is careening by and there are a lot of "on-the-fly" changes occurring on a moment-by-moment basis.

There is still an empty hole in the kitchen where a few days ago there was a sink! We are closer to a new sink, but still scrambling to actually procure one. There is an slim chance that a new sink will be installed this weekend. Using a kitchen without a sink is an experience! I did get the dishwasher hooked up so that it will do its job. One of the excess sinks was returned, I still need to contact the shipping company about the other.

The cold rainy week, while it may be good for the grass, is not doing either my mood or my golf game any good. I am still a newbie at golf and so I was excited the other day when I was practicing and actually was happy to see my club head speed increasing to a reasonable level! Of course I have absolutely no idea what direction the ball would have traveled since I was hitting into a net. 

Tonight's baseball practice for the GORC Pirates has been changed to a game! That is good and bad. The weather doesn't look like baseball weather, the high today is slated to be 59 degrees, but it does mean that we have something interesting to do this evening.

Crazy busy week!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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