Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween 2017

Jeremy's Light Wrapped Tree
It is the day of decorations and costumes.

The family will gather tonight for our annual trek through the neighborhood to collect treats from those who participate.

Halloween is the celebration at the beginning of the dark days. Winter is on the horizon, but more importantly the length of daylight is waning significantly day by day. The length of the daylight is 10 hours 32 minutes today. Each successive day is over 2 minutes shorter. There is still more than one hour of daylight to shed each day until the days begin to lengthen during late December. 

Witches with a Cauldron in a Neighbor's Yard
The lights of Halloween are a reminder of the lost summer days as we drive away the darkness that is creeping into our lives. Of course the tales of witches and goblins also provide some excitement as the harvest celebration continues.

Tomorrow begins the season of the turkey!

Be careful out there tonight. I think it is going to be cold and I know it is going to be dark!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday Musings - October 30, 2017

1. It is the last Monday of October. Tomorrow is Halloween and then we are onto November. 2017 is racing towards its conclusion.

2. I had to get a new laptop yesterday. Mine would not stay running. 

3. I saw a funny sign on the internet yesterday. I am sure cats would not text back, either.

4. Winners and losers. Winners: Ravens, Cowboys, Steelers, Astros. Losers: Redskins and Penguins.

5. The World Series has become a wild affair. Sadly the games are on too late for me to see the endings, but my prediction will not come true. It is the Astros who can win the series in 6 and not the Dodgers. The Dodgers will have to go to Game 7 to win. And talk about home runs!

6. Rain everywhere saturating everything. Wind blowing. I took the dogs out this morning and was surprised by how loud it was outside with the wind blowing hard through the trees. I wonder how many limbs are down in the yard?

7. Watch out for Trick or Treaters tomorrow. 


Republicans, desperate for a win, already face setbacks as they prepare to unveil tax bill this week - The Washington Post

Russia Uses Its Oil Giant, Rosneft, as a Foreign Policy Tool - The New York Times

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"Well, I'm here today because I believe you're right to care about the future. I believe America's future and your future hold promises bigger than the sky and more vast than the galaxies -- if we have faith and if we're true to the values of family, work, and community that have always been America's guiding stars on the path of history."

Remarks to High School Students and Citizens in Sterling Heights, Michigan, October 7, 1988
-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Last Baseball Game

Jackson at Shortstop
October 28, 2017
Yesterday represented the last baseball game of the season for Jackson. 

He has effectively been playing baseball since March and is heading into the off season as a much better player than he was as the season began.
Final Baseball Game of the Season
An Idyllic October Day

Since March, he has become an effective relief pitcher, has hit two grand slam home runs, become a smart baserunner, and can effectively play all infield positions. Yesterday saw him take a slow rolling ball and fire it to first base to get the batter. In March, he would have thrown a "rainbow" ball that never would have made it to first in time.

It is officially the off-season. I am already looking forward to March when we start up again.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Autumn Color Arriving

Color on a Tree in My Yard
I have finally noticed the colors of autumn gracing the leaves of the trees. 

It has been a mostly colorless autumn. Many of the leaves have fallen from the trees around my yard, but they just turned brown and fell to the ground.

Within the past few days, however, the trees which still have leaves have finally begun donning their autumnal garb. As can be seen from the photo though, many of the leaves have already fallen without providing the much anticipated autumn color.

It is a different autumn. September and October have been two of the warmest months of their kind in memory. I think September was warmer than August.

Perhaps the winter will be warmer and produce more rain than snow! I can hope, right?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, October 27, 2017

Halloween Decorations

The House Two Doors Up
My neighborhood really gets into Halloween decorations. 

Most of the houses have added decorations to their entrances responding to the festive nature of the season. 

One house, this year, has added a 12 foot dragon. But the winning neighborhood home is two doors away--they have created an entire Halloween environment. It is pretty impressive.

I am not a huge Halloween fan, but I do enjoy looking at the decorations. They become more creative and the inflatable decorations are a lot of fun to look at for their complexity and size.

Happy Halloween. It is going to be cold!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Memory Problems

It is a computer in crisis or a crisis with my computer? It is hard to say, but my laptop decided to cease working last evening.

I did get it to boot this morning, however, it is not working very well at all. 

I believe there may be a memory problem. 

I too, have a memory problem. I can't seem to remember half of the things that I need to remember. I am not a lucky as being able to swap out some memory and get things going in the right direction again.

So, I am writing my blog on Chris' laptop this morning while mine decides whether to boot or not.

It is making a valiant, albeit slow, effort to start up and allow me access to my files. 

Chris is going to be unhappy when she discovers I used her laptop. I'm sure I messed up some setting.

Losing memory is a bad thing, atleast they can be replaced in computers. Me? I just have to work harder to remember the important stuff nd write down the other stuff.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Growing the Wood Pile

Wood in the Drive Waiting to be Stacked
It is the time of year when preparing for the expected cold days takes precedence. 

The Growing Wood Pile
While not like some homes where the primary winter warmth comes from burning wood, we do enjoy a hot fire in the fireplace to remove the chill from the family room. Call it supplemental heat.

Chris and I had a half cord of hardwood delivered on Monday. That is about all the wood we use during a season. I know that real wood burning homes may use up to 5 or more cords of wood. 

It only took me about two hours to move the wood from where it was dumped in the driveway to the growing wood pile. 

I was getting kinda tired at the end.

Getting more ready for winter!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Season of the Gourd

Chris and the Gourd
It is the season of the gourd.

Last evening we were in Annapolis meeting friends for Happy Hour and dinner and came upon on oversized gourd. 
Laura, D, and Chris

It was a big, deformed pumpkin. 

It was positioned next to our table at the restaurant. We went to Davis's Pub in Eastport, near Annapolis. 

It is hard to believe that we sat outside for dinner near the water in Annapolis on the 23rd of October. The weather is unseasonably warm. 

It was fun to gather together with our "boat people" friends as they traveled through the area and towards the south for the winter. There is something about living on a boat that appeals to me, right up until I get to sit next to my fire pit or swim in my pool.

We all have found places and lifestyles that we are happy living. And it is fantastic that we can gather twice per year to celebrate life and friendships.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday Musings - October 23, 2017

Looking Back to the Tee Box
Timbers Hole 9
October 22, 2017
1. October is slipping away. There is just over a week left in the month.

2. Yesterday was an idyllic day for golf. The first two holes were really tough because we were driving directly into the sun, but then it got higher in the sky and the day was great.

3. Winners and Losers. Winners: Steelers, Cowboys. Losers: Ravens, Penguins. 

4. World Series update: Dodgers host Astros. Both teams had over 100 wins this season.

5. The Sunday football and birthday gatherings continues for the second week in a row. Happy birthday Jeremy.

6. Sometimes I feel like I need to go back to work on Monday morning to recover form the weekend. And I took Friday off, so I have had a three-day weekend!


U.S. military says it has helped its allies capture Syria’s biggest oilfield - The Washington Post

Why Trump's Korean war talk should be taken seriously - CNN

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"Historically, we've always been a people willing to take risks and dream great dreams. We weren't the people who stayed on the shores of the Old World. Instead we were the Italians, the Frenchmen, the Dutchmen, the men and women of every race, nationality, and religion who came here to push back the limits and in the process become Americans one and all."
Remarks at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, October 19, 1983

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Around the Fire

I've written  before about sitting around a fire as evening falls. It is a fantastic way to end the day. 

I have experienced three such nights already beginning on Thursday. All at different locations with differing gatherings of family, friends, and newly made friends.

Fire warms and and the same time causes people to move closer, both to see the flame and to experience the heat.

Away from the distractions of life--the TV and cell phones, people begin to communicate. 

Throw another log on the fire, sit down and tell me what's on your mind.

Alternatively, just sit there staring into the fire to contemplate life.

It is all good.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Grasses are Cut

Grasses Before Cutting
Preparing for the onset of the "dark" season and winter takes a lot of preparation.
Chris Raking
One Side of the Pool is Complete

Yesterday, Chris and I accomplished one annual project that takes a couple of hours, but must be faithfully done every year.

The ornamental grasses surrounding the pool must be cut. They create quite a pile and I take them to the recycling center so that can be composted into mulch.

It is sad the way that the pool area changes from a secluded into a more public area. It is suddenly a very open area.

Grasses Cut and Loaded
We have found, through experience, that cutting the grasses during the autumn is much better than waiting until spring. They tend to get very dry and windblown during the winter and do not pack down well. As it is, I can get the entire cutting into one truck load for the trip to Marriottsville Alpha Ridge Landfill.
My Truck
Yes, It is a Work Truck!

It was an absolutely beautiful day. Cool in the morning but warm afternoon. I chose a good day to take some leave and get work done around the house.

With each passing day we become more and more ready for the winter snows which are not all that far off. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, October 20, 2017

Crazy Celebration

Jeremy Celebrating
As the birthday season continues, the celebrations seem to get crazier.

Last evening it was a trip to Chevy's at Arundel Mills for a birthday dinner. 
Lucas and Jeremy

My assessment of Chevy's is that the food is not great, but plentiful and the location is definitely accessible. They also make birthday celebrations special. 

Jeremy is a good for these events because he plays along. And danced with the birthday wishes as they were being sung to him. We even got the singing accomplished in between congratulatory phone calls!

Lucas was an intergral part of the fun as well. He added some enthusiasm to the event!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Paying the Bills

Why do I have bills? 

Because I live. 

Some things just seem to come with a price tag: electricity, water, car, phone, internet, a place to live.

We need to pay for what have become the basic necessities of life.

Paying the bills has changed over time. I remember sitting at the table once or twice per month writing out the checks and putting them in envelopes with stamps and mailing them off to their destinations. 

Now it is a computer-driven process for some and others are automatically paid directly from my account. The mail I now receive is an email to confirm receipt of my payment. 

It has been a long time since I have actually written a check to pay a bill. Everything is done by electronically.

I'm not sure if it is easier than it used to be, but it is what it is and using the computer does allow for keeping my accounts balanced. And I don't have to worry about the mail getting lost.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Birthday Celebration

Happy Birthday Chris
Like, Jax and Ethan
Sunday was a birthday celebration.

A big birthday and the grandsons were there to help Chris celebrate here transition into the Social Security eligible crowd.

Yea, it was a big birthday and the grandsons were more than happy to help the celebration get amped up to the highest level. 

The cheesecake was ready and lightly decorated with candles, the vocal chords were warmed up, and the celebration was at the highest level.

Happy birthday filled the room as the assembled family gave the classic song their best rendition. 

The afternoon included cheesecake topped with cherries. It was a perfectly planned birthday celebration with the grandsons singing the enhanced version of Happy Birthday.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What is Momentarily?

We have been experiencing numerous recent power surges and brief outages. As a result of one of these, our many years old printer failed to recover from an inelegant shutdown and had to be replaced.

Image of the Instruction on My New Printer
We found a really good deal on a new printer, one in which Best Buy essentially paid us to buy the new printer. Seriously. It was on sale for half price and we received gift cards for the sale purchase price AND, a 5 percent discount for using our Best Buy card to buy it. One of the salespeople remarked, "No, we're not going out of business anytime soon." 

I'm not sure how that makes good business, but I really appreciated the effective 2 for 1 deal I got for my money. Did I mention that the printer was already marked down to less than half price?

Enough of the back story. 

While setting up the printer, I came across an interesting definition of the word "momentarily."

I always thought that "momentarily" was a short period of time. No more than seconds! But apparently momentarily can be defined as six minutes! No wonder computers and printers run so slowly if momentarily is such a long period. 

I guess the printer company has a new definition of "momentarily."

It suits them. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Musings - October 16, 2017

1. October is more than half over! Where is the time flying?

2. Puppies are hard to train. I had forgotten that.

3. Birthdays make great reasons for family gatherings. 

4. The weather forecasters got it all wrong. It was supposed to be dry this morning. It is raining.

5. Weekend sports report: Winners: Steelers, Redskins, Penguins (Saturday). Losers: Ravens. Did not play: Cowboys.

6. Another week starts with the passing of the weekend. What a cruel cycle of days. I think I need two weekends in a row to change things up!


Iraqi Forces Begin Assault Near Kurdish-Held City of Kirkuk - The New York Times

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"Democracy is made up of specifics -- day-to-day freedoms -- just as tyranny is made up of day-to-day oppressions. Is it sincere to talk about democracy but ignore the specific markers by which we can tell if democracy truly exists? I don't think so."
Address to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, October 7, 1987

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, October 15, 2017

It was a Gray and Overcast Day . . .

Patuxent Greens Hole 4
October 14, 2017
Almost as compelling as the line, "It was a dark and stormy night . . . " the thought "It was a gray and overcast day . . ." clearly is the opening phrase to a more significant and possibly interesting beginning to a book or a chapter.

Some ideas come to mind, like:

It was a gray and overcast day as we pushed away from the quay and headed off into the angry sea. 

Woodchuck Unfazed by My Presence

It was a gray and overcast day as I stepped outside and headed to my car to begin my daily trek to work navigating the traffic-jammed roads and highways of the Capitol Beltway region of Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

In reality, the sentence is:

It was a gray and overcast day as I stepped onto the tee-box,  looking downrange at the green fairway deciding where I wanted my first drive of the day to land and with a mighty swing of my driver the round began.

It was a great day in the it was cool, but not so cool that I had to wear a coat. And it was easy to follow the flight of the ball against the overcast sky.

I happened upon a woodchuck on the 14th hole. I was amazed how it ignored my presence. I drove within a few feet of it to take its picture. 

The day actually got better with the sun making an appearance during the afternoon. The lawns were mowed and the leaves removed. 

It was a gray an overcast day, but despite the gloom it was a great day filled with a multitude of activities and as darkness fell I was happy with all that had been accomplished.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Making the Cheesecake

Cheesecake Poured int the Pan
It is the family birthday season. My birthday was a few weeks ago and Chris is celebrating the anniversary of her birth this weekend.
Baked and Continuing the Cooling Process

One of the things that Chris and I do for each other is make a special celebratory birthday cake. Mine is a yellow cake with cream cheese frosting and pineapple. 

Chris likes New York style cheesecake made from scratch using a Betty Crocker recipe. The cheese cake is truly a production covering about 4 hours of preparation, baking and cooling before it can be left unattended in the refrigerator. The object is to make a perfect cheesecake without any cracks!

Like the one pictured.

It came out fantastic! A cheesecake ready for the celebration!

And I didn't wait until the last minute!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Final Four is Set

Sometimes I don't know which is the better option. Is it better for a team to consistently make the playoffs, but get eliminated in the first round or to just not make the playoffs at all?

And so goes the stories of the two local baseball teams: the Nationals and the Orioles.

The Orioles failed to make the playoffs and in fact wound up with a losing record for the 2017 campaign.

The Nationals were one of the dominant teams in baseball with a home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs and yet lost, again, in the first round.

Baseball's final four are all deserving teams. Two of them won over 100 games this year: the Dodgers and the Astros.

The defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers will play for the National League Championship and a trip to the World Series.

On the other side, the Houston Astros will host the New York Yankees to start the American League Championship series. 

Prediction: I believe the the Dodgers will face the Astros in the World Series with the Dodgers winning in six games.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Incognito Golfer

Makayla Ready for a Round of Golf
It seems that the arrival of a new puppy into the household is having an unexpected  impact on Makayla. She has come very attached to me. Too attached.

Makayla does not want to be separated from me for any reason. Whenever the puppy, Finnegan, is about Makayla finds a place close to me and parks herself. 

The other morning, as I was preparing to head out for a round of golf she figured out I was leaving and tried to disguise herself as my partner.

The ruse did not work. I knew that I was the only left-handed golfer in the house. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Crazy Puppy

Finnegan, our relatively-new Yorkie puppy, is turning the house upside down. Aside from ensuring the entire house is awake when he is awake, he loves to play with Riordin, one of our two cats. Louis, the white Ragdoll cat just looks at the dog as if to say, "Really?"

The play consists of running around the house and chasing each other. I am impressed because the cat keeps its claws sheathed. I believe that Riordin really does enjoy the play because sometimes he is the instigator.

All-in-all, the two of them provide comic relief and a needed diversion after a long day at work.

That is why we have pets anyway, right? For companionship and entertainment.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Rainy Holiday

Cleaned and Organized Garage
October 9, 2017
Rainy holidays put a damper on outdoor plans. Whether yard work or sports (like a round of golf) are planned, heavy rains force changes.

Yesterday was no exception. 

Organized Work Bench
I had planned to cut the ornamental grasses surrounding the pool, but the rain made that a non-starter as a project. It would have been miserable.

Hence, the project turned into a garage cleaning and organization day. 

The garage needed some organization. We park two vehicles in our garage and so there is limited storage space. It had become very disorganized where many things did not have a defined place.

Most items still do not have a defined location, but at least they are neatly occupying the available space. I have a plan to buy some organizing cabinets to provide even more storage which can be better organized. 

A good project and I had some excellent help as well.

Now it is off to a shortened workweek which will seem longer than a non-holiday workweek.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Musings - October 9, 2017

1. Happy Columbus Day (observed). Remember there will be no mail service today and the banks will be closed.

2. Another hurricane, Hurricane Nate is visiting my area today. We actually have been in a drought and the remnants of Nate are providing needed rain.

Hank Williams Statue
Montgomery, Alabama
3. With all of the current problems associated with statues, I found and interesting one in Montgomery, It was a statue to Hank Williams.

4. Weekend Sports Report: Ravens win, Cowboys and Steelers lose, Redskins did not play. Orioles are licking their wounds during the post-season.

5. Fall youth baseball continues for Jackson. He played yesterday, but his team lost. It was an overcast day but the temperatures were warm.

6. Since it is raining, today will not be a good golf day. Bummer.

7. Holidays, like today, provide me with the opportunity to complete projects around the house. Today, I am supposed to cut and remove the grasses around the pool. It is a regular autumn project, but it may be too wet. 

8. Hard to believe, but it is already the second Monday in October.

9. Both the Yankees and the Red Sox managed a win in their play-off series to stay alive to play another game.


ISIS Fighters, Having Pledged to Fight or Die, Surrender en Masse - The New York Times

Trump Tells Pence to Leave N.F.L. Game as Players Kneel During Anthem - The New York Times

Houston teen says she was expelled for not standing for Pledge of Allegiance - The Washington Post

Ronald Reagan Quote of the Week

"For the truth is that Americans must choose between two drastically different points of view. One puts its faith in the pipedreamers and margin-scribblers in Washington; the other believes in the collective wisdom of the people and their commitment to the American dream. One says tax and tax, spend and spend, and the other says have faith in the common sense of the people."
Remarks in Columbus to Members of Ohio Veterans Organizations, October 4, 1982

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Saturday in Style

A Hole on The Blue Mash
October 7, 2017
Saturdays are definitely a day to enjoy. I look forward to a multitude of activities on Saturdays and yesterday was no exception.

Heron Hunting on The Blue Mash
The day began, as should every Saturday, on a golf course. We played The Blue Mash in Montgomery County, it was a course I had never played before and it was tough. But, it was a lot of fun even though I was unhappy with my score. The greens were really tough.

I did enjoy watching the wildlife along the course.

The afternoon saw Chris and I along with Finn, the Yorkie, head off to a harvest festival in the area. We had a great time and Finn was the hit of the festival. Everyone who saw him wanted to touch him. 

Finn with a Much Larger Friend
Finn was even a hit with the other dogs. One dog, in particular, took an interest in him and they played together for a few minutes in the grass. Finn was no worse for the wear, however, he was a slobbery mess when we finally had to say good-bye.

It was, overall, a beautiful day. The weather was idyllic and I enjoyed the early autumn day that reminded me of the summer days so recently past.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Flying through Charlotte

Yesterday was a travel day and I had two experiences that I want to share. One was the flight and the other was the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. 

Let me write right up front, I had not flown with American Airlines in many years until this week. I have become somewhat a Southwest snob, meaning I like flying Southwest. They get right what many other airlines can't seem to figure out--like bags in the cabin.

Yesterday was a combination of two less than stellar experiences rolled into one day.

First was the flight from Montgomery to Charlotte. I was aboard a CL-65 commuter jet. 

The seats on the Canadian CL-65 are among the worst in the air. The seat back was not high enough to support my neck and so I couldn't find a way to sleep comfortably. I normally sleep with ease on aircraft. Not on the Canadair CL-65 as outfitted by AmericanEagle. As I was on a 6:15 AM flight and had been up since 4 AM, I really wanted to catch a few Z's on the way to Charlotte.

Added to the discomfort of the seat, I was in the 12th row right in front of the restroom. Since the pilot never turned the seatbelt sign off, there was almost no one moving around the cabin. But it was one on the last seats on the too small aircraft. 

Wall-to-wall People in Terminal B
Charlotte Douglas International Airport
October 6, 2017
And then came Charlotte! Ugh. The airport was wall-to-wall people. I have not seen so many people crammed into one location since the last concert I attended. It was tight, everywhere. 

There were no seats available to sit and wait for my connecting flight. Fortunately, I had a very short layover.

On top of that, here is the spot where American Airlines needs to improve. Baggage. On every flight I took during my trip, the airline was urging people to check their bags at the gate to allow for room in the cabin. This is a direct result, I believe, of their highway robbery baggage fees. 

I know it was $25 for the first bag and then it goes up, possibly $35 or $40 for the second bag. Of course people are not going to check bags to save money. That is what the airline wants. So then at the gate there is the confusion about courtesy checking bags. Courtesy being the key word. So if I want to save money, I take my bag with me and then hope for courtesy checking at the gate. 

What a mess. Total confusion in the terminal and at the gate and it just makes the entire travel experience worse.

Note to self: Avoid flying American Airlines, avoid Charlotte, and stay off the CL-65!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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