Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve 2017

New Year's Eve has arrived and the end of the year is at hand. 

The weather is frigid! It is 14 degrees this morning and as the weather forecasters say, "the temperatures are going to struggle to get into the 20s today."

Struggle? That is the best that we can do?

The bone chilling cold is going to affect many outdoors activities today. For instance, the Ravens are playing a game with definite playoff implications today--and although there are many tickets available, there is no way that I want to be trapped in an outdoor stadium with temperatures in the teens! 

If the Ravens win their game against the Bengals, they are in the playoffs. If they lose, they need either Buffalo or Tennessee to lose to make the playoffs. 

And then there are the midnight fireworks--also too cold to consider attending. I didn't even buy any fireworks of my own to launch at midnight this year. I guess there is still time to get some, but it will be too cold for the fuse to light probably.

The cold is just paralyzing. If there is no good reason to be outside, I don't want to be outside. 

Where is that warm, sandy, palm tree lined beach that I'm dreaming of? Now that is the definition of my white Christmas. 

Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve celebration. Stay warm and sober.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Through the Bookstore

The other day I was at the mall and wandered into a bookstore. I admit, it has been a while since I was in a real bookstore. I used to frequent them regularly, but as of late I have been using online sites to purchase the books I read. 

Books in the Bookstore about Politics
Bookstores are becoming a dying breed, following the way of the video store.

I enjoyed my foray into the store. I discovered that the I had forgotten how bookstores reflect the mood of the country. In this particular store there were many politically-oriented books representing multiple sides of the current state of affairs here in the United States. I found a table full of books espousing a wide variety of opinions. It was fascinating to examine them and get a sense about the political perspective of the authors.

The smell of the new books also brought back fond memories of wandering between the stacks and examining the many titles to be found there. 

I will have to visit bookstores more regularly to stay in touch with the issues that are finding their way into print. And not just the fiction, either. I wonder which of the books would be branded Fake News?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Last Friday

The last Friday of 2017 has arrived.

The last Friday of the year is beginning in a frigid manner. It is bitter cold. The temperature outside my window is 16 degrees! And that is 3 degrees warmer than yesterday morning. It is too cold to go outside and do much of anything except complain about the cold.

And it is expected to get colder! I can hardly believe how cold that it is going to get. The New Year will likely begin with temperatures in the single digits! 

I really need a one-way ticket to someplace warm! Is it time for Spring Training yet?

I am glad that I have a lot of wood to stoke the fireplace and keep the house toasty warm.

As the end of the year arrives, it is a good time to conduct a review and set objectives for the year ahead. Some people call them resolutions, but in reality I am more successful if I consider them strategic objectives for the new year. 

Happy Last Friday!

May the year ahead find all of your objectives met.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Final Gift Arrives

We are in the midst the 12 Days of Christmas. In our own way, we have been celebrating a continuing Christmas season.

New Sofa in the Family Room
I am happy that Christmas does not end on Christmas Day. Yesterday, we received the final gift of this Christmas. Chris wanted a new sofa, it was truly the most important thing on her list and I was able to make it happen. Sadly, the sofa was not ready before Christmas, but I was therefore able to get it under the tree in the form of a picture and the contract.

We retrieved the sofa from the furniture store yesterday. The salesman helped us load it into the truck and then we were off on our adventure. The sofa was well wrapped and there was almost no chance that it would get dirty on the short drive from the furniture store to the house. Believe it or not, we actually had little trouble getting it into the house because it was so well wrapped and protected. It took about 10 minutes for me to install the legs and then we had one brand spanking new sofa.

The smartest thing we had done was to prepare the space in advance and relocate the existing sofa to a safe place until a decision about its final disposition is made. We have three options: relocate within the house, sell, or donate. My vote is for the donate option, but I'm currently in the minority as the other vote is for relocating or selling.

The new sofa is now in place and we are adjusting to its differences. So is Makayla. She was allowed to sleep on the old sofa, but not the new one. It may become an issue. Why do new things have to be so difficult?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Drone Warrior

I have not written about the gifts of Christmas, but I did receive one item that I anticipate will be appearing in my blog on a regular basis and so I need to announce its presence up front.

I received a DJI Spark Drone that is going to be adding a new dimension to the images and videos that I share. I named my drone Radio Flyer, because it is red, and it has been legally registered with the FAA. 

My flying privileges had been revoked because of an ugly accident while flying Patrick's drone on Easter and so I am taking a slow and methodical approach to learning to fly. I am deliberately learning the controls and keeping the drone on a very tight leash until I become more proficient with it. 
Finnegan, Chris, Patrick, and Me in an Open Field

That means I will be flying low, slow, and taking my time. I have to train myself to manage the controls properly. My natural instincts are exactly opposite how the controller is laid out. It is going to take a lot of training to get my hands moving properly.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Day After or is it the Next Day?

King Wenceslas
The Feast of Stephen, or St Stephen's Day.

Boxing Day.

Kwanzaa begins..

The Second Day of Christmas.

Today is a day with multiple identities.

I remember the carol of Good King Wenceslas giving alms to the poor on the Feast of Stephen. I am not sure that I fully understood the confluence of all of these celebrations where I was a kid. 

I was reminded while in church on Christmas Eve that the traditional religious view of Christmas conflicts with the secular view. According to classic Christianity, the christmas season begins on Christmas and runs for 12 days until January 6th, which is Three Kings Day, or the Epiphany. 

For the secular world the Christmas season officially begins on Black Friday and ends on Christmas Day and is devoted to an orgy of shopping and preparation. 

Actually, today is the second busiest shopping day of the year as shoppers rush back to the stores with their gifts to exchange them and get what they really wanted for Christmas. 

I hope today is whatever you want it to be. For me, I took a day of vacation to decompress from the hectic shopping and preparation season.

Merry Christmas!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, December 25, 2017

Monday Musings - Christmas Day Edition 2017

Christmas Eve Eve Brunch Preparation
1. Merry Christmas to all. I pray that your day is well. 

2. Children make the holiday.

3. I discovered that we have been saying "swaddling cloths" wrong in the Christmas story. 

4. It is tough to deal with sadness during the Christmas season.

5. It should be Christmas every day and maybe the world would calm down!

6. Finnegan had a mano-a-mano problem with a Christmas toy.


Trump spends Christmas Eve calling troops, golfing and tweeting - The Washington Post

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

We can experience the same PEACE and JOY as the shepherds and the Magi did almost two thousand years ago. If we make that peace and joy a part of our lives, our example will serve as a guide and an inspiration for everyone we meet. Nancy and I pray that the joy of this holiday season will remain with us all throughout the coming year.
May God bless you.
Ronald Reagan
Message on the Observance of Christmas
December 21, 1984
Merry Christmas from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, December 24, 2017

My Take: Upside Down Christmas Tree

Do we really need a twist on the idea of how to display a Christmas Tree?

The newest fad is the upside down Christmas Tree.

I am not a fan.

There is something unsettling about seeing a tree on its top. I am not sure why the idea of an upside down tree is being embraced as widely, except that it is just new. 

Proponents of the new approach to a traditional symbol say that it leaves more room under the tree for presents. Really? 

Trees still grow from the bottom to the top, right? We are living on Earth, not in some artificial gravity environment. 

It seems to me to that the fad is nothing but a marketing ploy to get us to get on board and replace our artificial trees.

My Take: NO to the upside down Christmas Tree. I like my trees displayed the way they grow. Hopefully the new display techniques is just a passing fad.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Eve Eve

I remember as a kid that one of the toughest days of the year was the day before Christmas Eve. It was a day that signified the end of the preparation and the beginning of the main event.

We dubbed December 23rd as Christmas Eve Eve.

It was a day on which we often had to go to school and do the normal activities associated with life, yet the weeks of preparation and excitement were beginning to draw to a close. 

I hope you are similarly caught up in the excitement of the season. 

At least it is a Saturday! There is still time to get the last minute things done. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, December 22, 2017

Frenetic Friday

It is the Friday before Christmas, which is three short days away. 

Jax at Waugh Chapel Elementary
December 20, 2017
It has been a busy week, Chris and I attended a "Holiday" Concert at Waugh Chapel Elementary the other evening. Jax is in the Chorus. I especially enjoyed seeing him in the sweater he was wearing.

A three-day weekend and then it's over for another year. 

The Christmas cards are all mailed and the presents prepared, well mostly. 

If only the meals were fully purchased. We are still deciding on the meat for Christmas. Who really wants to eat a big meal on Christmas, anyway? There are so many other things to be do with the available time.

The weather is supposed be rainy, but the high tomorrow is expected to be 62 degrees! How could that be bad?

I do remember last Christmas, however, when it was 70 degrees on Christmas Day. That was awesome. 

I hope you are ready for however you celebrate. Some of my friends are planning on being on a beach somewhere!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Arrival

Later this morning, at 11:28 AM EST Winter arrives officially. Although the official arrival is today, the presence of the dark season has been with us for some time.

We have seen snow, cold, ice, and of course the ever prevalent darkness.

At least from today forward the daylight will begin ot get stronger and longer. 

Melbourne, Florida
I may even begin to think about preparations to open my pool and plan my Spring Break vacation to somewhere a lot warmer than Maryland!

At least the guys-only Spring Training/Golf outing is mostly planned for mid-March to Sarasota. The summer cruise is also planned for late August. 

All of the planning activities help to thwart the gloom caused by the ever-present darkness. 

But, the summer is coming! 

For me, of course, it cannot arrive quickly enough. But at least knowing that is it coming helps throw off the cold darkness associated with the winter.

Now if I could just keep the snow from arriving.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday Hump Day

The mid-point of the workweek is a cause for celebration every time it comes around.

Wednesdays are "hump" day.

The day when more of the workweek is behind rather than in front of me.

This week is has a special significance because next week is the "in-between" week and many people are taking the whole week off to recover from the fevered pitch of the holiday shopping season while preparing for the demise of 2017.

It is essentially a one-week holiday! Or ten days off for the price of four! Or looking at it another way, two three-day weekends with a four-day workweek sandwiched in between.

I am wishing that I was someplace warm for the holidays. Wouldn't it be great to wake-up on Christmas morning and get in a round of golf in 80 degree weather before the families get together and the gift exchanges happen?

Well, maybe not.

I wonder how many people will actually be at work on Friday?

Enjoy hump day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Transportation under Attack?

The past two days have been sobering for the traveling community on both coasts.

The Atlanta airport was shut down on Sunday because, apparently, a rat chewed through a wire. Can you believe that air travel along the entire Eastern seaboard was crippled by a rat? The fire caused by the rat completely snarled air traffic on a busy holiday Sunday.

Derailed Amtrak Train in Washington
And then there was the horrific train derailment near Olympia, Washington. I saw images of the scene. It is amazing that more people were not critically injured. The scene was unimaginable. Was speed involved? It almost certainly was. The latest reports indicate the train was traveling 80 mph round a 30 mph curve.

Is it really that easy to upend our transportation networks?

It is a sad beginning to the holiday rush for many families and my prayers go out to the victims and their families. I also pray the the weather holds and does not offer up a blizzard or something during the next couple of weeks.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, December 18, 2017

Monday Musings - December 18, 2017

1. The final two weeks of 2017 have arrived. Christmas is next week. Hopefully, all of your shopping is complete and next up is the dreaded holiday travel. Thankfully, I'm not traveling too far this Christmas.

2. It is going to be much warmer this week. We need a break from the frigid cold.

3. "From Atlantic to Pacific, Gee the traffic is terrific," goes the phrase in a popular Christmas song. What does "the traffic is terrific," mean? Horrific I could understand, but what is terrific traffic?

4. Winners and Losers. Winners: Ravens, Cowboys, Redskins, Penguins. Losers: Steelers (on the worst officiating call of the century unaided by a totally inept video review and incorrect interpretation of the rules).

5. I'm feeling the need to play some golf! Tuesday is looking like a possibility.

6. Another potential government shutdown is looming. It could be a long Christmas holiday for many of us and The Congress fails to perform one of its Constitutionally-directed duties yet again.

7. Is it me, or are people becoming more passionate about insignificant things?

8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a great movie and I was entertained and caught up on the story again. 


GOP faces 5-day scramble to pass tax bill, avoid government shutdown - The Washington Post

Power Failure at Atlanta Airport Snarls Air Traffic Nationwide - The New York Times

Fire crews take advantage of calm winds, but 'we’ll always be in the ‘ready, set, go’ mode' - The LA Times

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"The United States, as the most powerful of the free nations, is looked to for leadership by those who live in freedom and as a mighty source of hope to those who languish under tyranny. This is a weighty responsibility that no American, especially a President, can take lightly."
Remarks at a White House Briefing for Human Rights Supporters, December 3, 1987

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sleeping by the Fire

Riordin by the Fire
Riordin continues to be the most appreciative of the warmth that comes from the fireplace when a fire is driving the coolness from the room.

The other evening he was sprawled out in front of the fireplace keeping watch on the fire.

The cat loves to be warm. I caught him sprawled across the arm of my chair worshiping the fire just a few weeks ago. Whenever we have a fire, Riordin is nearby. When there is not fire, I often find him sitting on a register soaking up the warm air from the furnace.

I, too, love the warmth from the fire. I also love the smell of the wood as it burns.

Obviously, however, I don't love it as much as Riordin.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Star Wars Season

It is that time of the year. Star Wars has returned to the theater with the next installment of the saga which began during 1977.

It is hard to believe that the saga continues and has now begun to grow stronger with each successive movie. The chronological sequence had gotten a bit complex, There were the first three movies, and then three prequels, then another movie at the end, followed by a movie in the middle and now another movie at the end. 

I'm not sure how they are actually numbered, but sequentially it looks like they were released in the following order:
4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, 3.5,  and now 8.

I am excited because I will be seeing the current release today!

It is an event, after all. I am excited to be a part of it.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, December 15, 2017

In the News--the Good is Out There

The holiday news certainly is not uplifting this morning.

Net neutrality has been repealed.

Kim Jong-un may have executed another leader in North Korea.

Another NFL player was carted off the field last night with a potential serious and life-changing injury. 

There is snow and more cold in my forecast.

A woman and two daughters died in a fire in Baltimore. 

So much for tidings of great joy.

I found the Good News Network!

A military Mom has sent 10,000 care packages to the troops. 

A college in Puerto Rico is offering a free semester to help students continue to meet their educational goals despite the recent hurricane induced delays. 

Mexico is protecting the largest ocean reserve in the world.

Sportsmanship is still alive as a boy tried to give his winners trophy to the girl who actually won a golf tournament, but could not be the winner because she was a girl.

Good news is out there. Just look for it. It may not be sensational, but it is important to be aware of the good things happening around us.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Season Slips Away

Columbia Mall Poinsettia Tree
2017 Version
I looked at the calendar this morning.

I shouldn't have!

There are only 11 days until Christmas and for the second time in less than a week we received snow overnight which is dusting the roads and lawns. 

Finnegan and Makayla 
It is the pervasive cold which bothers me the most. I do not enjoy walking through the door and being slapped in the face with the frigid temperatures of winter. It causes me to shiver and mourn the loss of the summer. Where are the palm trees?

Christmas Trees are a poor substitute for the palms that line the warm and sandy beaches where I enjoy the warmth, water and blue skies.

It is still autumn! It is not even winter, yet. Winter does not officially start until next week and then we have at least two months of frigid cold and darkness.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Win for Decency

I'm glad that I was not directly involved in the Alabama Senate election. 

Common sense and decency apparently has prevailed in Alabama overnight as the democrat, Doug Jones, was elected to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Sessions in the special election as reported by The New York Times.

It has been a very longtime since the democrats have held a senate seat from Alabama. Finally, the impact of presenting a flawed candidate to the voters has backfired. That the vote was as close as it was demonstrates that too many people continue to vote along party lines rather than carefully assessing the credentials of those who would represent them in the Congress.

Despite how we may feel about our party or the opposition, we, as an electorate, must not continue to elect flawed candidates to represent us. Electing flawed representatives continues the pattern of ineffective leadership that we have been experiencing in our government.

The republican candidate was obviously flawed and not suitable to represent Alabama in the Senate.

Maybe now the political leaders will begin to find deserving candidates to represent "we the people."

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Birthdays, Holidays, and Family

Nicole with her Birthday Cake
I was reminded last evening about how family makes the holiday season much more exciting. It is also the middle of the our family's birthday season and so we have our own celebrations to enjoy along the way. 

The Great Looking Haslup Family
We have, in fact, two birthdays to celebrate this week. 

Last evening we celebrated Nicole's birthday. It was a continuation of the celebration we began in D.C. on Friday night. We finally got to enjoy the cake and presents portion of the celebration.

It is fun to get together, especially on a weeknight. That is what families do. Especially when there is a celebration involved. 

Happy Birthday, Nicole.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Musings - December 11, 2017

1. It is two weeks until Christmas. How is all of that shopping going. I think we have returned half of what has been bought.

2. There is something warm and welcoming about a fire in the fireplace.

3. Ethan and Jax began their basketball seasons yesterday with wins! My how the sped of the game has increased for Ethan. It is real basketball.

4. The first snow of the season stayed around to make yesterday a cold, white covered place. It was NOT a wonderland.

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

Sunrise on the Highway to Work
November 30, 2017
6. Apparently the Yankees believe they can buy a World Series with their recent acquisition. They should ask the Dodgers how that approach is working.

7. I have a heated steering wheel in my truck, who knew that I would like it as much as I do?

8. As the season has deepened closer to the solstice, I am no longer enjoying the brilliant sunrises on my daily trek to work, but this is one from a few weeks ago, 


What is the Russia Story? - The New York Times

Liberal Outsiders Pour Into Alabama Senate Race, Treading Lightly - The New York Times

And in the you knew it was coming department:

Lindsey Vonn suffers back injury in World Cup race - Fox News

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"Our country may face enormous challenges, but the great advantage of our democracy is that we do not act from fear or simply respond to threats. We Americans have never been pessimists. We conquer fear with faith, and we overwhelm threats and hardship with courage, work, opportunity, and freedom."
Radio Address to the Nation on Economic Recovery and National Defense, December 18, 1982

- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, December 10, 2017

First Snowfall for the Pup

Finnegan in His Hat
The first snowfall of the season arrived yesterday with 2.5 inches covering the grass. We received less snow than places south of us, some of which are reporting 15 inches. 

Finnegan in the Snow
The first snow of the season is often considered magical. In my mind there is nothing magical about the snow, it is just cold. 

It was, however, the first exposure to snow for our pup, Finnegan. Of course he needed to be properly attired for his sojourn into the elements. Sometimes I think this dog is a replacement for a doll. At least he does not seem to mind the attention of being dressed up  and paraded about. 

The weather remained wintery all day and we have the snow remaining this morning. I think the pup has a larger wardrobe than I do.

Well he is cute all dressed up in his overcoat and ready for the elements. 

I'm sure there will be additional photo ops for the pup as the winter season progresses.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Images of the Season

Four Seasons Hotel, D.C.
Before Dinner
Ham Solo
I am sitting here warm in my family room watching the news of the impending storm and waiting for the first snow flakes of the season to descend from the sky.

I spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening with Nicole, Mike, Jim and Shannon last evening celebrating her birthday in D.C.  Earlier in the day I drove Patrick and Tina to the airport as they departed for the Florida and a cruise. 

I have come across some interesting sights during the season. 

The one that made me laugh is Ham Solo.

Tree on the back deck
Residing at Patrick and Tina's residence, Ham Solo is clearly a good idea taken to an extreme. The pig is certainly getting into the spirit of the season, even though he will never get off the ground. If he could get off the ground, well, then  we wouldn't be able to say "when pigs fly.!"

My last image is an artistic one that I snapped of the small lighted tree on our deck. Looking out the window in the evening I was able to get the lights coming from the darkness.

I was amazed that an image that I was about to delete actually caught my eye with an impressionistic view of the season.

The images continue.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Budget and Waste

The political games associated with the federal budget are afoot yet again.

The ball has been kicked down the road yet again, although for only two more weeks.

It is a sad statement about the state of our government that our elected representatives cannot, do not, and apparently will not understand the waste and danger to our common defense that is generated by their now almost continual ineptitude at passing a comprehensive budget to fund the government. 

According to Federal News Radio, The Department of the Navy estimates that continuing resolutions have led to the waste of $4 billion since 2011.

That is $4 billion taxpayer dollars because the Congress cannot execute one of its fundamental and most important Constitutional duties.

Given the speed of commerce and communications, our government's approach to the budget is increasingly archaic, wasteful, and dangerous. 

It has also become far too political.

The Washington Examiner has an article about how the continuing resolutions negatively impact the defense of the country and readiness. 

From that article, here is an example of the impact:

For example, America’s long-running wars have depleted the stockpiles of bombs and missiles used to battle the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.
The new budget includes money to ramp up production of high-demand weapons to replenish the inventory, but as long as spending is frozen at last year’s levels, that initiative cannot begin.

We could run out of critical weapons to defend the nation because the Congress cannot pass a fully funded budget.

The continuing resolution situation cannot continue. 

There ought to be a law! 

But wait, there is! Congress just ignores it.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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