Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Petulant Child (er Dog)

Finn with Shoe
I am not sure whether it is an excessive amount of energy, but the new puppy, Finnegan, who is not new anymore, had a rough ending to the night. 

That meant sleep ended at 4AM because we confined him to his cage and he cried for 45 minutes. Ugh.

Finn with Shoe Part 2 
It is hard to sleep with a petulant dog howling, barking, racing around and generally being a problem child.

It is part of the "growing" pains, but it surely is a pain.

Right now he is busy eating a shoe. It is not my shoe. At least he is quiet. Given that he is not creating a nuisance by barking or harassing Makayla, I am going to let him enjoy Chris' shoe. 

Tomorrow will be better!


-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Winter Around the Corner

As autumn slides into winter, I found an unsettling prediction in this morning's The Washington Post. 

Washington, DC, Regional Snow Forecast
The winter snow forecast is in. The coming winter is predicted to be more normal--which means a lot more snow than last year's mild winter. I added a star to the map to indicate the approximate area where I am located in relation to the rest of the region.

Snow, or the threat of snow, tends to shut down the entire region. It is a a bit comical, coming as I do from a place where snow is just one of the seasons and they are equipped to deal with it. Here are the seasons in Upstate NY: Snow, Spring, Rain, Harvest.
I do write that a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it is not far from the truth.

Well, since the forecast is in I need to be ready for the coming season. I wonder how much snow we will actually receive. At least the season is beginning mildly. Temperatures today are expected to be in the 60's. 

I wish I could play hooky and go golfing.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Welcome to the Land of Insults

Yesterday was a banner day for the United States--and not in a good way.

The President began the day by obliterating the First Amendment in his personal and unreasonable attacks  on CNN and ended the day by insulting native Americans and using a racial slur while denigrating a member of Congress.

It is almost scary to consider what "off-the-cuff" utterance will be next. 

Regarding the news media, President Trump tweeted the following:

We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me). They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!

President Trump at Code Talker Ceremony
Image by Getty images 
It is OK to have a favorite network, but any effort to interfere with the freedom of the press is specifically against the First Amendment to the Constitution. 

And then later in the day, according to NPR, at a ceremony honoring surviving Navajo WW2 code talkers, the President destroyed the solemnity of the ceremony by making insults and using what is considered a racial slur against a U.S. Senator. What possessed him to tangentially add such comments into the ceremony?

Where does it stop? When will ethics and decorum be restored to the highest office in the land? When again will we have a leader that we can be proud of and rally behind rather than shudder every time he opens his mouth or makes another tweet?

Perhaps Lord Action was correct:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

In this case, I might substitute the word money for power.

--Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Musings - November 27, 2017

Before the Christmas Decorations
1. The last Monday in November has arrived. The Christmas shopping season is in full swing.

2. The best way to avoid the holiday traffic is not to drive anywhere in the Sunday after Thanksgiving!
After the Christmas Decorations 

3. Winners and Losers: Winners: Steelers, Redskins, Penguins. Losers: Cowboys. DNP (yet) Ravens.

4. When the leftovers are gone, we can make soup.

5. Christmas is arriving in the house. Did I mention that the tree has changing lights on it? White or multi-color or alternating! I should have started a fire in the fireplace for additional ambiance. 
After Christmas Decorations Part 2

6. If you survived Black Friday with your wallet in tact, congratulations. According to one source, the term originated about 1952 to describe the shopping frenzy on the day after Thanksgiving. 

7. December dawns on Friday, and with it the final month of 2017. There is just enough time to make good on all of those unkept New Year's resolutions.

8. My 2018 New Year's resolution list:
    a. I resolve to make no New Year's resolutions
    b. If I start to make a resolution, see the previous resolution.
    c. If I resolve to make no resolutions, have I then made a resolution? 


The jihadist plan to use women to launch the next incarnation of ISIS - The Washington Post

Iran in Europe MISSILE threat warning of WW3 rocket attack - The Daily Star

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"I'm talking about principles that begin with the sacred worth of human life; the cherished place of the family; the responsibility of parents and schools to be teachers of truth, tolerance, hard work, cooperation, and love; and the role of our major institutions -- government, industry, and labor -- to provide the opportunities and security -- opportunities and security free people need to build and leave behind a better world for their children and their children's children."

Address Before the Japanese Diet in Tokyo, November 11, 1983

- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Trip Home

It is the trip home that signals the end of a vacation or time away.

Mom and Dad with E and Jax
Nicole's photo
Often the trip home is the hardest because I know that at the end of it, the daily routine will kick in again.

Yesterday, I took Mom and Dad halfway home. I was met at that point by my brother Tim who helped them to complete the journey back to their house in the frozen hinterland that is often referred to as Upstate New York.

The Family at Thanksgiving
It was sad to see them leave after such a short visit, but it was the quality of the visit which was the most important aspect. 

It was great to have them join us for Thanksgiving, but their departure signaled the return to the daily routine.

Even though the trip home signaled the end of one holiday, there are more holidays ahead and more opportunities to get together and celebrate.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Black Friday 2017

The craziest shopping day of the year is over!

Setting the Game Board
Axis and Allies 2017
I can state, emphatically, that I did not leave the comfort of my house to brave the crowds and chaos. 


Black Friday is Axis and Allies day for the men of the family. It is a Black Friday tradition that we gather around a table for 8 hours or more and recreate World War II. Although we have played the WWI version of the game.

Axis and Allies in Progress
Yesterday, the Axis defeated the Allies after routing the Russian forces defending Moscow while the Japanese were running roughshod through Asia although the Americans had soundly defeated their Navy during the Battle of Tokyo Bay. 

While the world was a war, I am told, by the family members that went shopping, that the crowds were ferocious. It seems that retailers of brick and mortar stores have not figured out yet that they are driving people online if the shopping experience is not a pleasant one. For instance, waiting in line to check out for over 30 minutes is not a good plan.

I'm glad that I was safe and warm at home while losing the world to the bad guys.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 24, 2017

In the Rearview

Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror.

Thanksgiving Day 2017
Elkridge, MD
The football games are over and today is the day of leftovers as we struggle to eat everything that was not consumed yesterday. The turkey carcass is safely in the refrigerator waiting to be made into sandwiches and then into soup.

But it was a grand day. 

When the Reflection in the Spoon Reminds
me of Somewhere Else
Santa arrived at the end of the Macy's parade. I remember as a kid that was a significant moment. It meant that the Christmas season was upon us with all of its magic. 

The weather yesterday was fabulous. The sky was clear blue and the remaining leaves on the trees provided a beautiful mixture of color and contrast before the season fully passes into the grays of winter. 

In an trivial interesting thought, as I was about to pick up my spoon during the meal yesterday, the reflection of the fan in the metal made me think of being somewhere else, like on a beach. I though, just for a moment, that I saw a starfish, rather than the blades of the fan above me.

But no, I was still in Maryland enjoying dinner with my family--four generations of family. 

Family, after all, is where it is at. Here's hoping that you had a great Thanksgiving and that you survive Black Friday.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving - 2017

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

I hope that you are well, no matter where you are reading this and whether you celebrate the holiday or not.

It is always good to pause and give thanks for the blessings that we have received. 

I am blessed this year to have my parents here to celebrate the holiday with us. I rescued them from the winter wonderland that became Central New York yesterday and brought them a bit south to enjoy blue skies and 50 degree temperatures. 

Today will be filled with parades, football, food, but most importantly joy and interaction with family. 

If you are interested in a bit of history, The New York Times published an article two days ago describing how Most Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving is Wrong

Sometimes I just don't want the myth busted, however. 

Enjoy the day and may your blessings overflow.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Pre-Holiday Activity

My Turkey Revving up for the Holiday!
Did you ever notice how much activity has to happen before a holiday to make the day special?

This year, I am happy to have my parents present for Thanksgiving. I completed the round-trip to Ithaca to retrieve them just before noon. 

While driving back today I experienced my first snowfall of the season. Ugh! It was already snowing in Central New York.

I am glad to be back in Maryland where the temperatures are in the 50's and the sun is shining.

Looking forward to Turkey Day.

Remember--eat a turkey, don't be one!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Worship the Fire

Riordin, the Fire Loving Cat
Riordin is a great cat. He is unusually loving and attentive. He also has some very unique personality traits. 

Riordin on the Chair
Last evening I built a fire to warm the room and while Chris and I were enjoying dinner, Riordin found a new way to enjoy the fire. Yes, he was hanging over the arm of my chair soaking up the heat from the fire. 

I have not seen him do this before and I found it amusing. He was quite content and didn't even move when he saw me coming in for a picture. 

I finally had to disturb him to sit down in my chair and resume the evening.

What an awesome cat!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Musings - November 20, 2017

Blanks Snow Village Canvass
1. I do not fully understand why I cleaned the leaves from the yard on Saturday. The cold and winds of the overnight made the yard look as if I had not done anything by Sunday morning.

2. I decided not to play golf yesterday was the temperatures were falling through the 40's and the wind was gusting to 50 mph. I have enough trouble with my game without adding extreme weather conditions into the equation.
2017 Snow Village Display

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

4. Attention! Christmas is arriving. Yesterday was Snow Village Day and the 2017 edition is on display!

Close-up of the City Portion of the Snow Village Display
5. It seems there is always more to do than time to complete the projects.

6. Thanksgiving is Thursday. Take a moment to be thankful for the many blessings that we all have.

7. As the season of the turkey draws to a close, the holiday season will get into full swing.

8. Be safe as you travel this holiday season.


The U.S. must prepare for Iran’s next move in Syria - The Washington Post
Search for Missing Argentine Submarine Raises Grim Scenarios - The New York Times

'Stop saying Christmas' Priest warns Christians to abandon the word - Express

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"There is no reason why people in any part of the world should have to live in permanent fear of war or its spectre. I believe the time has come for all nations to act in a responsible spirit that doesn't threaten other states. I believe the time is right to move forward on arms control and the resolution of critical regional disputes at the conference table."

Remarks to Members of the National Press Club on Arms Reduction and Nuclear Weapons, November 18, 1981

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Taking the Dog for a Ride

Taking the Dog for a Ride
As Chris and I were returning home yesterday after a shopping trip, we came upon a scene that just made us laugh.

At a light, the driver opened the sun roof and out came the head of a large dog. We thought the dog would go back inside the cabin of the car once the light turned, but that did not happen. The car proceeded down the road with the dogs head sticking out.

Chris took my cell phone and snapped an image because we were just fascinated by the scene.

It was a really big dog and it seemed to be really enjoying the ride.

It was a nice afternoon for the dog to enjoy.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Friday Night Politics

Friday evenings mark the beginning of the weekend for Chris and I and our group of friends.

Friday Night Appetizers
Last evening was no exception. We gathered together at a friend's house to enjoy the end of the workweek and reconnect our lives. 

The food was sumptuous and enjoyable while the wine freely flowed.

The discussion centered on the politics of the week with two topics taking center stage: taxes and elephants.

Taxes have been in the news and we all agreed that the plans being presented by the Congress do not represent wins for the middle class. Robert Reich wrote and article titled The GOP Tax Bill is Everything That's Wrong with Our Democracy and in it spells out the problems and inconsistencies.

And then there was the discussion of elephant trophies. We were collectively appalled that the government was going to allow the importation of elephant trophies. Clearly, every middle class household has room for an elephant trophy and we are all big game hunters on the side. Wile were were having an excited discussion a headline came across my phone which indicated that the President had reversed the decision and the ban will remain in place while he reviews the conservation facts.

Our group could solve the problems of the world, if only . . . 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 17, 2017


Taxes have been in the news. 

My view is that if a politician's lips are moving, they are lying. 

The tax reform appears to be an attempt to buy the American populace by trying to proposing a tax plan that appears to offer something for nothing.

As I dig into the plans out there, I find that true middle Americans are likely lose under the plans. Those of us who own our homes and try to pay our bills on time are going to be expected to fund the tax deductions for everyone else.

Some of the real problems in the bills:

Loss of the ability to deduct state income taxes--that is a 7 percent hit here in Maryland. 

Fortunately, the Representatives realized that home ownership is the bedrock of our economy and kept in deductions for mortgage interest and taxes--albeit reduced, the reductions should not affect most middle class Americans.

Here is a summary from The Washington Post:

About 30 percent of filers itemize. Most of the people who itemize claim the state and local tax deduction (SALT) where they deduct their state and local sales, income and property taxes. Under the House bill, only the property deduction would remain. This hurts people living in high-tax (and often blue) states like New Jersey, New York and California. Several GOP representatives from these states plan to vote no on the bill in protest.
The adoption credit stays. The 401(k) exemption stays. But . . .
Say goodbye to the tax credits for plug-in motor vehicles. It gets repealed in 2018.
Say goodbye to the deduction for medical expensesIt goes away in 2018.
Say goodbye to being able to write off the costs of your tax preparer. That goes away in 2018.
Say goodbye to the deduction for moving expenses. It goes away in 2018, except for members of the military.
Say goodbye to most tax benefits for college. 
I am not sure how this is going to be a tax reduction. And i clearly am not going to be buying a Tesla in the future.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How Much?

2017 Silverado
I was watching TV and noticed an advertisement for a Chevy truck. 

Save $12,000 the big letters were displayed across the screen.

It dawned upon me then that we don't see the real prices anymore. Just the savings.

In 1968, the MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price) for a Chevy C10 pick-up with basic configuration was $2,333 according to a website I checked out. 
1968 C10

I could have bought almost 6 trucks with the savings on just one Silverado.

I remember the ads for Volkswagen: $1995! Yea. A complete car for less than $2,000.

In 1975, Chris and I considered buying a Chevy Camaro. The MSRP is listed at about $3,685. And that seemed like a lot of money!

I wonder how much the Silverado is that is being advertised for a savings of $12,000. According to the ad I found on line, the MSRP is $56,785.

Wow! No wonder we need to start dealing with $12,000 off.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Where the Eagles Are

Eagle in Fulton, MD
November 14, 2017
Chris had an interesting sighting on her way to work yesterday.

She saw an eagle perched in a tree.

Eagle sightings while not rare are also not common.

The majestic birds and the symbol of our nation are making a comeback in the region--but, seeing an eagle in the wild is still an experience. 

They are big birds!

Chris reported that some of the maintenance staff of her school went up onto the roof to watch the eagle. Although invited to join them, Chris remained firmly planted on the ground. 

I like the idea of soaring with the eagles.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wine for the Holiday

One of the joys of the holidays for me is selecting the wines to accompany the meals.

I have already begun planning the wine courses for the Thanksgiving meal. I guess that is my part of the meal, planning the wine to accompany the meal while recognizing the varying tastes of the family. 

I just find it a lot of fun.

Apparently, I am not the only one who enjoys panning the wine and worrying about how it will compliment the meal and be received by the guests.

An article in the New York Times this morning gave me hope. The article, titled The Four Rules of Thanksgiving Wines, provides some excellent holiday wine serving ideas. 

I am going to provide the four rules below, but I recommend reading the article to fully understand them.

Rule No. 1: You will be anxious before the holiday.

Rule No. 2: The holiday always goes beautifully.

Rule No. 3: If the food is good and the company convivial, you cannot go wrong with the wine. If the food is bad and the company annoying, wine can only help.

Rule No. 4: Choose wines that you like; everybody else will like them, too.

And there they are! I place a lot of importance on Rule 4 and Rule 3. Pick wines that you know and that you like! Don't experiment with untested wines for the meal unless you are willing to accept that it may not work out.

Enjoy the day and most of all, the wines.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Musings - November 13, 2017

1. This is the in-between week. The week sandwiched between Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving!

2. Patrick took his drone with us to visit some wineries yesterday. He got some great shots at Big Cork Winery and was the center of attention as people took interest in his endeavor. 

3. It was a great three-day weekend, except for the cold. Now, it is back to our regularly scheduled workweek.

4. Do retirees actually care what day of the week it is?

5. If the Congressionally sponsored tax plans take away the tax advantages of home ownership, then who will own homes?

6. About taxes--why are they continuing to meddle with the existing and admittedly flawed system. Perhaps it is time to go to a flat tax system with few deductions and be done with it. 

7. I think people are finally becoming done with the antics of the NFL and the over-paid prima donna players. See the Headline below.

8. Winners and Losers: 
    Winners: Steelers. 
    Losers: Cowboys, Redskins, Penguins (2). 
    Did not play: Ravens.


Trump Mocks Kim Jong Un: I Would Never Call Him ‘Short and Fat’ - The Washington Free Beacon

Surveillance Cameras Made by China Are Hanging All Over the U.S. - The Wall Street Journal

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"Each time our nation has called upon our citizens to serve, the best have come forward. Words cannot express our gratitude and admiration. But we can and should take the opportunity on this Veterans Day to remember their gift to us. When you see one of our young men and women in uniform on the street or someplace, how about a smiling 'hello' and, maybe, a 'thank you.'"

Radio Address to the Nation on America's Veterans, November 5, 1983

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Lost in the News

If someone is making the news, then they are controlling the news.

Most often we look at making the news as a bad thing and that is because it seems that the news media likes a juicy story that is full of poor decisions and subterfuge. 

In reviewing the headlines form the past few months, there have been hurricanes, Charlottesville, Las Vegas, New York City, Sutherland Springs, Russian meddling in the election, tax plans, Obama-care repeal and the list goes on.

The hard part is finding out what happens after the events are over are no longer in the headlines. 

The recovery from the recent hurricanes continues. People are still putting their lives back together--yet I cannot find any more coverage of that in the news.

As for the shootings--many people will be living with the pain of loss or the recovery from wounds for years.

I constantly remind myself that the news stories are about people and that once the reporters have departed from the scene, the people remain. The people are the story--be they the perpetrator or the victims.

Lost in the news are the people and they remain after the lights have turned off.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Crisp Autumn Day

Yesterday was a crisp autumn day yesterday. It was perhaps a bit colder than crisp. The high temperature crept out of the 30's topping out at 41 degrees.

This morning the temperature fell to 20 degrees before dawn. It fell almost a degree during the hour I was awake from 5:30 to 6:33. Dawn was only beginning to grace the morning sky as the the temperature fell. I can feel winter wrapping its tendrils around the thermometer.

At least the morning fire in the fireplace began to chase the cold from the house.

Yesterday it was too cold to work outside. I usually put up the outdoor Christmas lights on Veteran's Day. We don't illuminate them, but I get them in place and ready for the coming season. That did not happen yesterday. The lights remain safely in their container. It is likely that we will be changing the exterior lighting this year and no longer using the icicle lights that have decorated our home for the past 17 years. I guess they are getting a bit dated.
Autumn Tree
November 10, 2017

Yesterday, however, did provide some stunning autumnal beauty. 

I came across this tree, which against the backdrop of the clear sky provided the perfect advertisement for autumn. It is the color that people look for during the all-to-brief autumn season.

Today should be an equally spectacular and cold day. The sky is clear as sunlight begins to tickle to tops of the trees.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veteran's Day 2017

Veteran's Day, officially, is tomorrow, but today is Veterans Day Observed--for those of us lucky enough to get a holiday. 

It is an important day to honor those who have served our nation in the military.

It is an honorable endeavor and I am proud to be a veteran. 

An excerpt from about Veteran's Day is below:

A Brief History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'" As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress -- at the urging of the veterans service organizations -- amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In 1968, the Uniforms Holiday Bill ensured three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Under this bill, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holiday on its original date. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on Oct. 25, 1971.

Finally on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978. Since then, the Veterans Day holiday has been observed on Nov. 11.

My recommendation: Say thank-you to a Vet!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, November 9, 2017

First Fire of the Season

First Fire of the Season
November 8, 2017
Last evening marked the beginning of the cold season. 

The day represented the first day since April 7th that the temperature did not climb to at least 50 degrees!


It was raw and cold. Ten degrees below normal and just miserable.

It was a good evening to begin burning the recently delivered hals-cord of wood. And so we did. Chris and i enjoyed the first fire, in the fireplace, of the season.  It took the chill out of our living room and warmed our hearts.

It was dark by 5:30 PM. With the coming freeze, the lines to the pool house needed to be blown out and the hoses uncoupled from the faucets. 

There is so much work to get done before the winter actually arrives. We still need to get the frost sensitive plants inside before the upcoming freeze. 

And then we need to hunker down and plan a strategy to survive another winter. 

Too soon, I fear there is snow coming, but then there will be more fires in the fireplace.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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