Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Take: Resistance is Futile

The situation that developed in Washington, DC, last evening with the firing of the acting Attorney General and replacing her with another person in the span of about 15 minutes demonstrated everything that I was afraid of with the new administration. This is not a taping of the reality TV show The Apprentice, this is government in a dangerous and complex world.

Signing the Travel Ban Executive Order
Briefly, the situation that transpired was documented in a NY Times article titled, Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Who Defied Him. From my uninformed vantage point, the problem centered on the fact that the administration did not vet the Immigration Executive order through the Department of Justice before issuing it. 

The drama could have been avoided had the Attorney General been given the opportunity to comment on the legality of the immigration ban and they could have been asked whether she could have support it. The drama would not have played out in the news and the acting Attorney General could have provided her reservations and then quietly resigned rather have the splashy after-dark drama occur which further obfuscates what the administration is trying to accomplish.

Travel Ban Airport Demonstrations
The type of theatrics which are documented in the Times article are an unnecessary sideshow and undermine confidence in the administration to work collaboratively and to be inclusive of those who possess an alternative opinion.

This Executive Order has become one of the most contentious of the new administration partly because of the shock effect. Homeland Security was unable to prepare for implementation and it was unevenly enforced. Vetting the Order might have enabled it to be handled evenly and reduced the confusion associated with its implementation.

My Take: Regardless of the opinion of the legal experts, the Travel Ban Executive Order was going to be signed. The administration could have done a much better job, however, of ensuring they were aware of the potential backlash and human toll its promulgation was going to cause.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Musings - January 30, 2017

1. Wow, the first month of 2017 is almost over.

2. Orioles pitchers and catchers report in 14 days. Baseball is coming!

3. Orioles Opening Day is 63 days away!

Squirrel at the Feeder
4. We bought 25 pounds of raw peanuts for the birds over the weekend. The cashier at the feed store asked if it was for squirrels or birds. I responded Blue Jays, but the squirrels get a lot of them as well. 

5. I wish it would get warm enough to get out for some golf. 

6. There is a lot of confusion in the U.S. right now about the direction of our government.

7. The first week of the new President's administration had seen some campaign promises fulfilled.


8. Amid protests and confusion, Trump defends executive order: ‘This is not a Muslim ban’ - Washington Post

9. What is an executive order? And how do President Trump's stack up? - Washington Post

10. Tulip: The heaviest mortar in the world - Russia and India Report

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What Does the Low Emission Car Sign Mean?

I came across a new sign in a parking lot yesterday that caught my attention. It seemed pretty straightforward until I started things about the meaning of the sign. And after doing some internet research, I became thoroughly confused. 

What is a low emission vehicle? 

I did some research. In my mind I was thinking about hybrid vehicles, perhaps. But would the designation low emission include electric vehicles? It should since they have no emissions, right? 

I expected to find a fairly restrictive list of vehicles. As I searched, it quickly became apparent that many, if not most, newer vehicles meet the requirements as a low emission car. Even more exciting, there are multiple lists. 

Apparently the most definitive list is at GreenCars.  I did find another list as well at another site. They do not appear to be the same. I did not find any electric vehicles on the second list. 

Turns out that most new vehicles meet the requirements for low emissions. I found many hybrids and even my favorite electric cars on the lists as well, but the numbers and types of cars which meet the requirement for low emission vehicles is much larger than I ever would have imagined. 

While the large number of vehicles assessed to be low emissions is a good thing, I did not find any of the vehicles I own on the list. 

So check out the list of low emission vehicles because you may, through no fault of your own, have one and can use one of these newly designated parking spots. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Why is there Trash Everywhere?

Highway Litter
It is bad. 

And getting worse every day. I am appalled at the trash along the highways. Where does it come from? Do people really throw trash out of their cars as they speed at 70 mph along the highways? Does the State of Maryland really allow refuse trucks to travel without securing their loads? Apparently so.

Trash from my Yard
It is a problem even in our neighborhood. Yesterday, Chris and I filled up garbage bags with the trash that has been blowing into our yard. I was not amused. I could tell that the trash was not ours, because we do not eat at the restaurants nor shop at the stores represented by the ads on the trash. 
My Neighbor's Solar Panel Plan

Contributing to the mess was the refuse caused when one of our neighbors had solar panels installed earlier in the week. We collected many items from the yard, some labelled Vivint Solar--apparently the workers are not very caring of the environment and the wind brought their droppings into my yard. I obscured our neighbor's name and address because the problem was not theirs, but rather it was the installers. 

Why can't trash and litter be controlled? Are people so shallow as to believe that if it isn't in their yard, it isn't a problem? We live at the bottom, literally, of the street. That which our neighbors don't control ends up in our yard or in the wooded area near our house. It really is appalling. 

We are destroying our environment through our carelessness. And no one seems to care.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 27, 2017

Doomsday Clock

Movement of the Doomsday Clock
The keepers of the Doomsday Clock had not made the news in two years. I guess they decided to make a statement yesterday by moving the minute hand forward by 30 seconds. 

During the Cold War, the Doomsday clock and the placement of its hands was a regular sight on the national news. 

The statement follows:

“For the first time in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has moved the hands of the iconic clock 30 seconds closer to midnight,” the organization announced today.
The Scientific Bulletin‘s board issued this clarion call: “It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.” (Their emphasis.)
Apparently, the movement of the hands by 30 seconds, the first 30 second movement of the hands ever, is their evaluation of our new President's first week on the job.

Some have called for the Doomsday Clock to be retired, one blogger wrote a thoughtful piece during 2012 hoping to speed along the clock's demise. The article, The Doomsday Clock moves toward Midnight? Meaningless appeared in The War Room, a blog about Politics and Foreign Policy which ended its run during December 2016.

It is kind of scary that the Doomsday Clock is back in the news. 

I guess it has been an unsettling first week on the job. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Take: Really, A Wall?

I do not have great memories of places that are walled.

Berlin Wall Exhibit
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
I remember the Berlin Wall! President Ronald Reagan succeeded in ending the Cold War and that brought the wall down. 

Then there was the Kurt Russell movie Escape from New York. A scary movie about a wall keeping criminals in Manhattan and the President crash landing in the middle of the chaos.

Decades ago, when I was in junior high school (this was the time before there were things called middle schools) I remember that in history class (yes, it was history and not social studies) I remember discussions about how the United States was the greatest country on the planet and we were fortunate to have the longest undefended borders. Both the borders with Mexico and Canada were undefended. I believe there were places along the both borders where crossing between countries was as easy as driving across county lines in the United States.

Later, I remember that while stationed in Germany during my Air Force career, one day the family was on a trip to the Maginot Line driving along back roads of Germany and suddenly, we crossed into France. There was not a formal border crossing--that is during the 1990's. It made me a bit uneasy that crossing countries even in the time before the European union could be done so easily. The Maginot Line was a wall of sorts--it failed miserably.

And now, the United States is about to build a wall along the Mexican Border. Walls are designed to keep someone out and others in. That is a simple fact of walls. There are stronger than fences. Robert Frost wrote a poem, Mending Wall, about how walls crumble. The poem is a notional conversation between two neighbors walking the stone wall dividing their property and repairing it. One neighbor wonders why there is a wall at all. 

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.

China has the Great Wall, although it is of little practical use now. Cities during medieval times used to be walled. Castles and Keeps were walled to prevent the roaming hordes from stealing in.

What are we walling in or out? Are we sure?

Have we lost the American Dream and should we now retire the Statue of Liberty that great monument dedicated to the inclusiveness of America?

Mending Wall begins:

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
And that is My Take. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Highway Problem

I drive daily. Most people I know drive daily. Collectively, we expect that the highways we drive on are well constructed and safe. 

I have the pleasure of transiting two of the top 30 (numbers 6 and 22) traffic bottlenecks in Maryland on a daily basis.  I have gotten used to it. I don't enjoy the mess, but I have grown accustomed to the traffic jams. 

The real problem with traffic bottlenecks are the other drivers who believe that by sheer will power and aggressive driving they can beat the system. Sadly, they often wind up creating larger problems for the other drivers as they cause accidents.

Accident on the Jones Falls Expressway
from the Baltimore Sun
My commuting problems are light when compared to others in the region. I read about a roadway, that I fortunately do not traverse, that has near daily accidents in the same location. The Baltimore Sun reports  Baltimore seeking solutions to near-daily I-83 crashes 'at the Pepsi sign.' Reading the article makes it clear that this roadway is not just dangerous, it was under-designed for modern vehicles and traffic volumes. 

Is it the road's fault? Partly. But from my experiences during my daily commute, I know that many drivers do not understand the physics of driving. Hydroplaning or driving too fast on ice means that the vehicle will be operating under the paws of physics and not taking inputs from the steering wheel or brakes. 

Sometimes, though, the road is partially responsible. As drivers we expect the roads to be designed to meet a certain standard. When they are not up to standards, bad things occur. 

I am happy that I only traverse two of the 30 worst bottlenecks in Maryland on a daily basis, at lease I don't have to use one of the worst designed highways.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rainy Mondays

There is something "just about right" when considering a rainy Monday.

It celebrates the beginning of the work week with the tears of the workers falling on the land to remind us that the weekend is a long way off. 

Yesterday was windy, rainy, and cool, it is hard to say cold when the temperature thankfully remained above freezing. Although the weather was not particularly nice, it was better than the alternative: snow. We received about six-tenths of an inch of rain, translated into the white stuff that falls from the sky that would have been almost 8 inches of snow. By some measures, on average one inch of rain translates roughly into 13 inches of snow--but that number can vary a bit.

The rain was better.

I made a funny decision as I left my car yesterday to cross the parking lot into the building where I work. The wind was blowing so hard that I decided not to risk my damaging my umbrella and kept it folded. I probably looked amusing caring a folded umbrella in a rainstorm to the building.

It was Monday, after all. What more can one expect?


-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday Musings - January 23, 2017

1. It is the first Monday of President Trump's administration. I wonder what is in store for the country.

Art in a Store in Baltimore
2. When is a fact not a fact but an estimation? It seems that some people are having problems with reality.

3. Which piece of art do you like? The wave or the octopus. I like the wave.

4. Wandering around Baltimore on a Saturday evening is an interesting experience, there are lots interesting characters on the streets.

5. Baltimore Restaurant Week is an event not to be missed. Chris and I went out with Patrick and Tina and had a fantastic dinner at a very reasonable price.

6. "Because we're a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. And something else we learned: Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world." - Ronald Reagan

Farewell Address to the Nation, January 11, 1989


7. Women’s March leads to 2nd-busiest day in Metro history, just trailing Obama’s 2009 inauguration - Washington Post

8. Shootout at Texas mall leaves one dead, seven wounded - The Daily Star

9. Dollar slips, shares wobbly after Trump's protectionist address - Reuters

10. At Least 18 Die as Tornadoes Sweep Southeast - NY Times

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 22, 2017

In the Record Store

Chris in the Record Store
No, it wasn't a scene from the 70's, it happened last evening in the Fells Point section of Baltimore. Chris was shopping in a real record store, The Sound Garden,  which was selling new vinyl records as well as old classics.

It was a scene that brought back memories of times gone by when we wandered through the stores looking at the rows and rows of vinyl records. The rows of records were fun to look at. New, remastered oldies were everywhere. the return to the warm sounds of vinyl records is truly alive. 

The store also had rows of CDs--remember them? 

The way we listen to music has definitely changed. It seems we no longer own actual copies of the music, everything is delivered from the "cloud."

A stroll through a real record store reminded me of how it used to be.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Morning Scene through the Windshield

As a Foggy Dawn Breaks
Wednesday morning I had the pleasure of taking Makayla to the vet for her annual dental cleaning. It was actually the second time that I  took her, but that is a story for another day.

Taking her to the vet was a pleasure because dawn has been arriving after I am already at work and so it was nice to be around at sunrise. Coincidentally, it was also a foggy morning. I was reveling in watching the dawn break and while I was stopped at a traffic light I became aware of the scene before me that caused me to grab my phone and snap a quick image. 

The dawn was breaking behind the clouds and the fog was clinging to the road ahead of me. I enjoyed the scene for as long as I could until the light changed to green. 

And then I was off, with a memory and an image in my phone to rush headlong into the rest of my day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 20, 2017

A New Chapter in America

The page turns today at about Noon, Eastern Standard Time, as  President-elect Trump becomes the 45th President and the 44th President becomes former-President Obama. 

President Obama at his final news conference
It is very exciting. There is a lot of trepidation in many areas of the country, but much like four years ago, this transition should be a cause for celebration of an American institution. 

I have been very impressed with the President Obama's eloquence as he has orchestrated his departure and the transfer of the responsibilities of his office to his successor. 

This transfer of power excites me and reminds me of how great this nation is especially when compared to much of the world. Whether I agree with the policies of the outgoing or incoming President is immaterial, what is important is that the will of the people is implemented.

America first, party second. What makes us great is our ability to work together in a bipartisan manner for the good of the country. 

The Washington Post article titled, On Inauguration Day, respect for the office and hope for the nation sums it up.

We need more of that.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Great Celebration

Although the actual inauguration ceremony for the 45th President of the United States is tomorrow, some related activities begin today. The inauguration schedule has been posted. 

The peaceful transfer of power for the greatest country in the world is underway and while we agree with the choice, or not, this is where our process has brought us. We are on the brink of a new administration.

There are news reports of low approval ratings; however, perhaps the polling is as flawed as those done days before the election which indicated that the President-elect had a very slim chance to win the election that he ultimately won walking away. 

Thomas Jefferson
The inauguration is a uniquely American activity and in this case it culminates a two-year electoral process that ranks as one of the most contentious in history. I am reminded that the third election in American history, whereby Jefferson became the vice-president through some interesting subterfuge, may one of the most contentious and interesting as it also effectively launched the two-party system of American politics. 

So while many are protesting, I believe it is a time to celebrate the process if not the person. Elections and inaugurations are what makes America great, and I maintain that America is still great. And truer still, that people can disagree and protest without fear of retaliation or retribution is another reason that America is great.

If Americans celebrate and encourage diversity, then America will continue to be great, despite what some profess. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lacking Perspective

The decision by many democratic congressmen and women to boycott the inauguration represents much of what is becoming wrong with America.

Even our leaders have lost their sense of perspective, history, and forbearance. 

Attending the inauguration activities is not an affirmation of the person being sworn in as the president, but rather it is an expression of the peaceful transfer of power as prescribed by the Constitution and the will of "We, the people . . . " The inauguration is a celebration of America and how we are different from most every other country in the world.

I am concerned that we have lost the ability to accept the rights of those who disagree with us. We do not have to like them, but we have to recognize that they have the right to see the world differently from ourselves. 

I am concerned that we are quickly becoming a nation that does not value diversity. We are losing the ideal of inclusion.

The inauguration is a celebration of America and our unique Republic where power is transferred peacefully. 

Maybe we need to elect Congressmen and women who understand that.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Too Many Beeps

It happens every so often, some electronic device goes into distress and begins to beep.

Annoyingly. Persistently.

It happened a this morning as I wandered into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. The two beeps of an electronic device in distress could be heard every minute or so.

And the search began.

Trying to pin down exactly which device was in distress occupied the next 30 minutes. I wish that devices could be equipped with the capability to text or send an email regarding their identification and the nature of the problem.

Beeping Phone
The search for the source of the distress signal included checking every smoke detector in the house and replacing the battery in one of them, I ran through the menus on the security system to find a problem and fixed the cover on one of the sensors, I checked the refrigerator (I really don't know why, but I ran across a refrigerator that beeped once), I checked the TV, the network connection, and everything else electronic that I could think of to no avail.

Fortunately, Chris got up to get a cup of coffee and I enlisted her aid in the detective event. She determined the cause after about three minutes, one of the phones was off its cradle and low on power. Who knew that phones beeped when the were in distress?

I was happy that she found it and we were able to restore the quiet in the house. Although, I did solve two other potential problems while searching for the source of the noise.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Musings - January 16, 2017

1. Wow, it is already the third Monday of 2017. 

Steelers Win 18-16 in Kansas City
2. The NFL playoffs were intense on Sunday. Both home teams lost, a stark contrast to Saturday when both home teams won.

3. It is Inauguration week! By the end of the week we won't be saying President-elect any more.

4. I wonder why the forecasters cannot accurately predict weather? It seems as if they are paid to give an accurate forecast. 

5. Some LED fixtures have an inherent design flaw. When the LEDs fail, they cannot be replaced and the entire fixture must be changed. I had to change out my entry-way fixture because of this and I decided on a fixture that uses replaceable bulbs--still LED, but replaceable. Bulbs are less expensive than fixtures.

6. If you are planning on going into Washington D.C. on Thursday or Friday my recommendation is, don't.


7. Trump vows ‘insurance for everybody’ in Obamacare replacement plan - Washington Post

8. World Leaders Push Israel and Trump to Forge a 2-State Deal - New York Times

9. Some malls are banning teens amid disturbances and unruly gatherings fueled by social media - Los Angeles Times

10. Nato obsolete, Merkel’s mistake, Brexit great: Trump reveals tilt towards Russia - Hindustan Times

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Day at the Sky Zone

Birthday parties have become a lot more interesting over the years, and especially those for Lucas.

Lucas at the Party
Last year the party was at the climbing zone and this year it was a trampoline area aptly named the Sky Zone Trampoline Park

Visiting the Sky Zone was a great way to exhaust the kids and it provided some entertainment for the adults as well. The place is huge! Lots of activities and trampolines with sufficient supervision. 

Check-in at the Sky Zone
It was fun to watch the assembled masses race from activity to activity and demonstrate their ability to bounce and flip on the trampolines. 

Checkin was a bit long and chaotic, but after that, the party went pretty well. Thankfully the forecast snow and ice never materialized! It was rainy and cold, but that did not dampen the spirits of the party goers. 

All-in-all, it was a great party. There was some blood--someone always has to bleed in this family or it isn't a real event, but fortunately it was minor and was self-induced as his knee impacted his nose. And it wasn't the birthday boy, so there was no fear of ruining the images of the event.

I took some slow motion videos of the activities and here is one of the birthday boy in action on the trampoline.

Birthdays can be fun!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Gathering at the Feeder

Deer at the Feeder
Chris likes to feed the birds and enjoys watching their antics as they flock for the feast.

Last evening, in advance of the expected storm, we filled the feeders to provide for our feathered friends during bad weather. 

One of the things we do when filling the feeders is to scatter seed on the ground for the mourning doves. Shortly after scattering the seed, the feeders were full of not feathered friends, but five deer scratching on the ground. Chris snapped a couple images on her phone while trying not to spook the visitors to the feeders. 

Earlier in the week we had remarked that we had not seen out small herd of deer since early December. As it turns out, they found us. Our side yard is an area the deer use to transit between open areas and we see them almost every day during the summer--especially during the evening hours. 

Well, it seems that they are still in the area. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Friday, January 13, 2017

January Weather Respite

10 Day Forecast
The official temperature in Baltimore yesterday was 70 degrees, tying a record established in the 1800's for the date. 

That was 60 degrees higher than the low on Monday morning.

Even the weather gave us a break! While there is a serious storm headed our way causing through the mid-section of the country, yesterday was idyllic.

I had wanted to play golf and enjoy the special day, but the rains of the previous days and some unplanned activities by my golfing buddies meant that I did not hit the golf course, but rather I finished taking down the outdoors Christmas decorations and putting the exclamation point on the season. 

The weekend is forecast to be cold and icy, it is probably payback for hitting the witch of winter on the nose yesterday. 

I appreciate good weather when it happens, especially during the middle portion of January!

Be careful today--it is, after all, Friday the 13th.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hold Your Breath

A new sheriff walks onto the international stage next Friday as the 45th President of the United States is inaugurated.

There are so many things that will suddenly be up in the air. Treaties, agreements, executive orders, and so much more. 

There is likely to be a lot of confusion and mixed messages as the new administration blows onto the international stage.  That may be a very bad thing. The inconsistency between U.S. administrations confuses our allies and enemies alike. Who really knows what direction the country will be headed?

There will likely be a few days/weeks of unsettled activity. 

I am encouraged that the President and the Congress are of the same party; however, the last time the same party was in control the ensuing infighting almost rendered the opportunity to lead the nation totally ineffective.

Perhaps the thing that we should be most ready to expect is that there is going to be change, we just don't know what that change is going to embody. There are so many questions.

Will a wall be really be constructed along the Mexican border?

Will universal healthcare be scrapped for an as yet undefined replacement?

Will the Iran deal be voided?

How many executive orders will be repealed?

Will the U.S. and Russia become allies?

I wonder how the inaugural address will stack up along side the body of such speeches which are our history and heritage?

Are these really the most important questions we should be asking about the next administration?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Farewell Address

I watched President Obama make his farewell address to the nation last evening and I realized that I may be watching the end of an era in American politics.

The speech was elegant and well spoken. There were no "off the cuff" slanders against any particular group of people. The speech was focused upon inclusion and presenting a positive view of America and the President's term in office. I found it amusing that at one point the assembled crowd broke into a chant of "4 more years."

I was particularly impressed with his words about the Constitution. 

Note: The excerpts from President Obama's speech are from the New York Times.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

I am a huge supporter of the Constitution. I was pleased with his references to "We, the People." The united States is, after all, a country founded upon the idea of "We, the People . . . "

I also believed that the President's summation was spot on:

And that’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans — especially so many young people out there — to believe that you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.
Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace, you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.
The farewell address was presented in superior fashion, even when hecklers tried to disrupt the speech, Obama's grace and forbearance was evident--he simply continued with his remarks until the hecklers were subdued or got bored.

I found it very interesting and revealing that President Obama ended his speech by reminding everyone of his words from the election of 2008, where the catch phrase was "We Can" his almost final words were:
Yes, we can.
Yes, we did.
Yes, we can.
These words echo the final words of President Reagan's Farewell Address presented on January 11. 1989:

My friends: We did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
I wonder, will we be so optimistic in another eight years?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

National Champion

The college football season has finally ended with the crowning of the national champion last night--it was actually very early this morning. Congratulations to the Clemson Tigers for becoming the kings of the college football world with a last second touchdown winning the game 35-31 over the seemingly invincible Alabama Crimson Tide 

As a society, we seem to be fascinated champions especially when they are national or world champions. Team and their fans will relish in the spotlight of being the national champions, whether the sport be football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, or hockey. 

In the professional sports world, we tend to elevate the championship level from national to world, for instance the World Series for baseball and the Super Bowl Champs for football. We love a winner.  

General George S. Patton summed it up when he said "America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser . . ."

Vince Lombardi made the following famous statement about winning: "Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing."

The road to becoming a champion is paved by the losses of the other teams. For every team that wins a game, another team has lost. True champions understand losing, because they have been there. Clemson, for instance, lost earlier in the season and had also lost the College Football National Championship game last year to Alabama by 5 points. Understanding the sting of losing helps champions to be graceful on their victory. 

I always learn more from losing than I do from winning. To quote Patton again, "Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."

It is fun to celebrate the champion and the victor in the struggle.

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.” - Patton

Enjoy the moment, because when the sun still comes up tomorrow and the new day dawns it will be time do it all over again.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 9, 2017

Monday Musings - January 9, 2017

1. The second Monday, and the second week of the new year is upon us. I hope there is some warmer weather in sight.


2. D.C.-area forecast: Very cold today, but we welcome a January thaw midweek, from the Washington Post.

3. Russia-Turkey Alliance Grows in Syria, as U.S. Relations Strain, from the New York Times

Kin Jong-un
4. North Korea sends message to Trump amid threat to fire missile 'at any time', from CNN


5. Said about someone, They sleep so lightly that they could hear a flea jumping off a cat an be awakened.

6. Marriage is more than two people living together. Marriage is a team sport where both people are working towards the same goal.

7. The art of driving is becoming lost, there are too many people on the roads who are oblivious about how their actions will affect others. 

8. Spring is just two months away.

9. It is 13 degrees outside this morning. That is too cold to think!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 8, 2017

It looks Cold

Driving across the hills outside Ithaca last evening, I came upon a scene that beautifully portrayed the weather of the day. It was cold and clear. The sunset in the west reflecting off the high clouds provided a perfect frame for the gathering nightfall.

I had just carefully passed a herd of deer. I had to be certain that they had all crossed the road and that none were lurking ready to run into the side of my vehicle.

As I reflected on the sky, it just looked cold. And it was cold. The temperature was already falling into the low teens.

Although it was snowy and cold, I could still enjoy the scene painted out before me.

And then I wished I was on a warm sandy beach somewhere.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Kitty in a Basket

Cats are amazing animals. They find some creative places to hide and rest. Yesterday, I came across a cat, not mine, relaxing in a basket atop a refrigerator. It was a cute image.

I wrote just the other day about my own cats and the strange places they hide. It makes me feel a bit better to find that they are not unique, but their actions are common across the feline social structure.

They make me smile. That is a good thing.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Friday, January 6, 2017

First Friday

The first Friday of the new year is here. Just last week we were preparing to celebrate the arrival of the new year and I was enjoying a vacation day.

Today, I am back at work wading through the myriad of actions which populate my life. It is almost as if the holiday weekend never happened. Sadly. 

I am amazed how quickly the pace of life resumes.

Racking my First Batch of Wine
I am looking forward to the Springtime! In a short 74 days springtime will be here. Between now and then I expect at least one blizzard and a couple of major snow events. So far, however, the region has escaped the wrath of snow. Even last night's snow event petered out and because a dusting.

Yesterday, I was able to rack my first batch of wine. I had my first taste and I was pleasantly surprised. The wine had some nice tones and character. I hope it continues to develop as it still has a few weeks to develop. 

So the first Friday of 2017 will soon be in the books. It looks like it is going to be an interesting year.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Almost Members of the Family

Riordin at Christmas
I was going through the Christmas images and I found one that made me smile all over again. I published it in my November 27th blog, but I like the image so much that it made think about how the animals in my house are more than just pets or animals, but rather they are members of the family.

During the Christmas decorating process Riordin, one of our cats, wanted to participate in the process and he got into the middle of nearly everything happening. 

Some cats, and dogs, are like that. They become almost all members of the family and they want to be involved in everything. It does get a bit tiring. 

Makayla, for instance, wants to join me on every trip I take outside the home. She does understand in some way, that she is not going to work with me in the morning, but every other journey is up for discussion. And she makes her desires known. The winter is a good time because I can run to the store and leave her in the car, unlike the hot days of summer. She has been making more short trips with me lately.

Riordin is part of everything we do. Seriously! When friends come to visit we have to lock him up or he finds a way to become the centerpiece of the conversation. While his ubiquitous presence is fine when Chris and I are home alone, it can be a bit much when friends or family are around.

Louis, the other cat, likes to reserve more cat-like activities for himself. He is around but not in the center of the action. He seems to understand that he is a cat and I'm not.

I love my pets and admit that I have enabled their behavior. But, for the majority of the time when Chris and I are the only ones home, it works.

They are not just pets, but they are members of the family. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fire Sank the Titanic?

The conspiracy theorists continue to be alive and well even over 100 years after the tragic sinking of the Titanic.

A new article posits that a coal fire in three-story high bunker next to the boilers and in the vicinity of where the iceberg collided with the ship may have weakened the hull and contributed, or caused, the vessel to sink.


An article in the New York Times yesterday titled Coal Fire, Not Just Iceberg, Doomed the Titanic a Journalist Claims

The article presents an interesting view of the cause of the disaster. The coal fire allegedly began three weeks before the ship departed on its fateful maiden voyage. 

David Hill, a former honorary secretary of the British Titanic Society, who has been studying the cause of the sinking since the 1950s . . . “It amazes me how this ship still captures the global imagination. It was not the worst-ever catastrophe at sea. But it is the one everyone remembers.”

There have been many theories about the titanic, including one that maintains that it wasn't the Titanic which sank, but its sister ship the Olympic. 

Well, there probably isn't any possibility of proving one way or the other whether the coal fire, who knew, contributed significantly to the tragedy. I do find it interesting that the ship sailed with a coal fire raging--but, it was a different time.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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