Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My Take: State of the Union

Last night President Trump presented his State of the Union address. 

The President stated his case for the improvement that the country has seen since he took office and also his four pillared vision for the future.

I was encouraged by The President's cross-aisle gesture:

So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties -- Democrats and Republicans -- to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans -- to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too. (from

But, his wide ranging claims of achieving prosperity for all (do I hear a chicken in every pot?), rising wealth, huge tax cuts, and increased jobs sound like he is doing a great job.

The evidence would suggest otherwise:

“After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.”
Analysis from The Washington Post: Trump once again takes credit for something that began to happen before his presidency. Wages have been on an upward trend since 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in fact their growth slowed during the first year of Trump’s presidency.

“Just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.”
Trump repeatedly claims he passed the biggest tax cut in U.S. history, but it’s just not true.  He’s earned Four Pinocchios for this claim before — but repeated it 57 times in his first year as president.
The best way to compare tax cuts (or spending plans) over time is to measure them as a percentage of the national economy. Inflation-adjusted dollars are another option, but a percentage of gross domestic product helps put the impact of the bill into context. Trump’s tax cut, according to Treasury Department data, is nearly 0.9 percent of GDP — compared to 2.89 percent of GDP for Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut. Trump’s tax cut is only the eighth-largest — and is even smaller than two of Barack Obama’s tax cuts.

From my perspective, here is what I see:

Congress is unable to pass a budget and we have already suffered through one government shutdown with another looming a mere 8 days away.

Leading via the Tweet is not a way to run a government.

Making the news to control the news is effective but counterproductive.

The U.S. military is suffering because of the budget crisis and lack of emphasis.

Federal workers are bearing the brunt of abuse about the inefficient government, when the problem lies with political appointees.

My Take: The State of the Union is not a good a portrayed, but needs work to develop a collaborative sense of purpose and then combined action to achieve that purpose.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Weather Panic

The region is panicked again this morning.

Morning Weather Report
A little bit of snow is arriving during the morning rush hour and the news outlets are already on the air hyping the storm.

Three Weeks Ago in Upstate
One news channel announced they would begin their live coverage at 4AM. It is like a disaster or something.

I love this area for their inclement weather issues.

I remember being in Upstate NY a few weeks ago and we got over 5 inches overnight and nothing stopped. Twenty-six schools are already delayed this morning.

Just a little snow. A dusting.

Just another day in Maryland it seems.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday Musings - Monday, January 29, 2018

1. Amazingly, this is the last Monday of January 2018. I scarcely can believe that the month is almost over. 

2. Yesterday was a rough day in the youth basketball department. Both Ethan and Jackson's undefeated teams suffered their first losses of the season. I added a short video of Ethan, number 3 in black, working the court.

3. Sunday's can pass very quickly when there are many things to do.

4. It rained all day yesterday, at least it was not snow!

5. I replaced all of the windshield wipers on Chris's car during the week. Amazingly, we can see out the windows during rainstorms now!

6. Watching golf on TV can be frustrating, especially when the playoff does not end until the next day while I am at work. And so goes the Farmer's Insurance Open. I wonder if they will make a funny commercial about "covering that?"

7. It is really cool when your kids run into a former boss and he says really nice things about our time working together.

8. Last week was a really interesting week. I was furloughed for a day and played golf twice! Not bad for mid-January activity.


Workers say they warned Amtrak before deadly crash - CNN
Oil Boom Gives the U.S. a New Edge in Energy and Diplomacy - New York Times

Command and control: China’s Communist Party extends reach into foreign companies - The Washington Post

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"And in all of that time I won a nickname, 'The Great Communicator.' But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries."
Farewell Address to the Nation, January 11, 1989

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Start to Finish

Saturday did not disappoint!

Timbers at Troy
Looking along the Practice Putting Green and the
First Hole covered with Frost
January 27, 2018
The day started cold, temperatures in the mid-20's, but ended admirably although I lost my Fitbit somewhere in the process.

It is a good day when I start it on a golf course. Even the cold temperatures could not cool our enthusiasm as Jeremy and I headed out to play 18 holes. Fortunately, there was a frost delay, which meant the temperature warmed up above freezing before we hit the course. As it turned out, we were able to play as a two-some and completed 18 holes in three hours! And we played very acceptably for the first 18-hole outing of the year. The morning started in the 20's but it was in the 50's by the time we finished. Because of our great pace of play, we were never cold.

But that was not all.

The day developed into a beautiful harbinger of Spring day. We may have touched 60 on the thermometer as the day progressed. That meant that Radio Flyer got to spin its propellers and I continue to learn more about the many functions of my powerful drone. I tried out the hand launch mode, but I had forgotten a critical step and so I learned about the following mode instead. 

Finally, the evening was capped off by a Bull Roast to support a local youth baseball team in their bid to play in a summertime tournament at Cooperstown, NY. It was a fun evening and I was amazed at how many ways people have invented to separate me from my money--even after the cost of the ticket for the food.

What a busy great day!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday in my Mind

Temperature as I write this
Amazingly, this is the final weekend of January 2018. I cannot believe that the month is almost over. On one hand it seems like it just started, but on the other it feels like the month has been dragging on for an eternity.

Saint Martin
July 5, 2017
It has been cold. I will be happy to see the month depart if only for that reason.

In my mind I am walking along a warm sandy Caribbean beach watching the sunrise and enjoying the palm trees swaying in the wind.

In reality, I am about to head out to the winter brown golf course where the temperature is below freezing, even though it was not supposed to get that cold last night, to play a round and imagine that I would be playing better if the conditions were more hospitable. Winter rules will definitely be in play.

But, it is the weekend! 

Springtime will be here soon enough. Well, maybe not soon enough!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday Findings

As I roll into the weekend, I took a moment to reflect upon the week behind me.

Possible Sign for February 9th
What a week it was.

I was furloughed for a day, officially. The downside was that I was furloughed, the upside was that I got to play golf on the nicest afternoon of the year, so far.

Sadly, another furlough looms in less than two weeks.

Chris and I celebrated the signing of her retirement papers. 

My drone saw some airtime as I continue to get used to it. I flew it again yesterday afternoon, but it was very cold outside and I didn't get any really good images or videos. I was mostly flying to continue to learn my controls and I took it off the beginner mode for the first time. I recorded my longest distance flight of 1299 feet, and highest altitude of 150 feet. The total flight time was 11 minutes. I forgot to take any photos at altitude while I was enjoying the view and I also had the video off, so I have nothing to show the view, but since the drone software automatically made a video of the the flight highlights when I did have the camera functioning, I thought I'd share it. The added music was a nice touch.

I hope the weekend is full of fun and activity!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Celebrating Life Events

Celebration Tiramisu at
Iron Bridge Wine Co
The days often churn by, one after another, in a seemingly endless stream. Once in a while, we stumble upon a day which has a special significance, not because it marks the anniversary of something we have done before, but because it is the beginning of something new or a significant change in the streaming days.

Such a day was Monday. 

Monday afternoon Chris did something hugely significant. She officially signed the papers announcing her intent to retire at the end of the school year!

I was able to join her for the momentous paper signing, actually we had completed most of the forms before her visit. It was a bit underwhelming for so momentous an occasion. After all, we only retire from a position once. We may retire multiple times during the course of life, but from each position only once. And the first retirement is the most significant.

After the papers were submitted, a pleasantly efficient process, wee stopped by the Iron Bridge Wine Company to celebrate with a few glasses of wine and a cheese plate. While we were there, they gave us a free dessert for the occasion and we made an very enjoyable early happy hour out of the experience. 

The retirement countdown continues, but it is now official. There is a lot of angst and excitement all wrapped together. We have strategically planned the end of summer cruise to occur when she would have been going back to school! With a bit of planning and some sharing from family sand friends we will make this retirement send off one to remember. And it has already started!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What can we get in exchange?

The Wall
One of the craziest things that I have heard on national television was yesterday from the OMB director who when asked for the White House position about the "dreamers" responded that it depended what they could get in exchange.

I saw the interview with my own eyes and was appalled. It is reported here by CNN.


Trading an inanimate wall for the lives of people has become a deal in commodities?

This is how our government has decided to assess the net worth and value of people? By what they get in exchange?

If immigration is such an important issue and, as the OMB Director said, is so closely tied to national security, then why are there no absolutes? If the negotiating position is that we will take what is offered, then why bother to negotiate at all?

February 8th is coming quickly. I hope our elected representatives can craft a deal sooner rather than later but with one side not having any repeatable position, that is going to be really difficult. 

One side in the negotiations doesn't really want either a wall or a defined policy on "Dreamers." They just want to be obstructionists.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Shutdown is Ended

What did I do during the great government Shutdown of 2018?

I went to work to receive my furlough notice and after ensuring that furlough plans were in place I departed for the remainder of the day. 

Tee-shot on Par 3, 6th
Carroll Park, Baltimore
January 22, 2018
Upon arriving home I watched CNN for news that the Congress and the President would come to an agreement and then took a look at the weather and decided to go golfing. While our elected leaders were wrestling with the important issues confronting them, I was not going anything productive by just watching the TV hanging on every word being uttered by the talking heads.

I had planned nothing else for the day, so it was a good day to head out for my first time of 2018. Even though the course was brown with the dormant grasses of winter, I was rewarded for my effort with a really good nine hole round which saw three pars and a missed a birdie by inches. Yes I also had two double bogies. But, all-in-all, for the first outing of the season I was really happy. 

In the end, the Congress found a compromise and the President signed yet another extension and I am back to my regular workweek today. I only hope that we do not have to do it all over again in three weeks. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Musings - January 22, 2018

Jeremy Arriving While Monitored by Radio Flyer
1. The federal government is now in Day 3 of the shutdown. A vote in the Senate on a budget deal is scheduled for noon.

2. Moderate weekend weather was a welcome relief to the frigid temperatures we had been experiencing. 

Cayuga Lake from Sheldrake Point Winery
January 12, 2018
3. I like the perspective that images captured from my drone provide. For instance, this relatively boring shot of Jeremy , Chris, and I becomes more interesting from the perspective it provides. 

4. Last weekend as we suffered through the snows and cold of Upstate New York, we visited one four favorite wineries and captures an image of the fog, or is it mist, rising off Cayuga Lake during the morning hours of a very pleasant Friday. 

5. I will be furloughed today as I arrive at work. I wonder what the remainder of the day holds for me?

6. The unintended consequences of a furlough as reported by a friend: "I was supposed to provide coaching to a group of government employees this week. The class was scheduled to start today. The class was cancelled. I am not working, so I won’t get paid. The hotel lost a booking. The restaurants were I would have eaten lost business. Now, multiply this by 11 because all of the coaches and the facilitators are in the same boat. Not to mention the 25+ students that will miss out on a quality program. Congress needs to do their job and pass a budget."

7. Let me echo the foregoing remarks: Congress needs to do their job and pass budget, but The President needs to have a consistent negotiating position. The flip-flop that happened with Senator Schumer, as reported by CNN, on Friday is unacceptable. We have a deal, and then a few hours later--no, wait, I didn't mean that. 


Senate adjourns without deal to end government shutdown; vote postponed until noon Monday

For Trump, this time bankruptcy won't get him out of a mess - CNN

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we're in a time when there are not heroes, they just don't know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter, and they're on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They're individuals and families whose taxes support the government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet, but deep. Their values sustain our national life."
Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Enjoying the Warmer Weather

January 20, 2018
With a bit of snow and Christmas Decorations still in place
The Federal Government shutdown has entered day 2 with little relief in sight.

January 21, 2018
No decorations and the Snow is Gone
Interestingly, a local golf course sent me a notice that they are opening on Monday for play. I wonder if that is because they expect furloughed federal workers may want to take to the course for some respite from the insanity in D.C.?

Looking up the Street
January 20, 2018
Yesterday was a beautiful day, for January. The temperatures rose into the high 50's. Chris and I fully enjoyed the warmer weather and the big task for the day was finally getting the exterior Christmas decorations down. We also started preparing the house for Spring--which cannot be too far off, can it?

I was able to get my drone, Radio Flyer, up in the air for some great flight time. It was nice to be able to do some flying and get some images of the neighborhood without freezing my hands. 

Clearly, moderate weather after an extended period of frigid temperatures was made to be enjoyed--and we certainly did enjoy it.

Here's hoping that today's more moderate weather is as enjoyable as was yesterday's.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Failure to Govern

It happened.

Government Shutdown Begins as Budget Talks Falter in SenateThe New York Times

The Congress and the President have failed to agree on funding the government and the doors to many agencies are shuttered. 

The future of our country hangs in this precarious balancing act between the President and the congress. I believe that it will only get worse especially after the mid-term elections.

Our legislators and elected officials have apparently forgotten that the needs of the country must outweigh their own personal needs and gains. The art if the deal lies in the ability to compromise and find a win-win-solution, let's try that for something new.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 19, 2018

As the Shutdown Looms

After taking time off to be sick, recover from the flu and become non-contagious, I am ready to return to the world.

And what a world I am returning into.

It appears that the Federal Government will cease functioning at midnight according to the lead story in the Washington Post.

Shutdown looms as Senate Democrats threaten GOP plan

The saber rattling between the Republicans, the Democrats, and the President has finally reached the flashpoint and both sides are willing to play chicken with the credit and good faith of our government. No one I work with hopes that a shutdown will happen. It is far too tumultuous and disheartening to see that our elected representatives cannot accomplish one of their most important Constitutionally-directed tasks. 

The Washington Post has a nice chart Who gets sent home if a government shut down happens

A fascinating Op-Ed piece in the New York Times written by Steve Israel this morning lays out why this government shutdown threat is more serious than previous iterations. 

I highly recommend reading it:

The Breakdown in Trust That Could Shut Down the Government

I like the statement near the end which reads: 

If this is the art of the deal, then the art is a dizzying abstract form — hard to decipher and open to interpretation.

Only it’s not art. It’s the functioning of government.

Something has got to give! This is no way to run a government.  

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Flu Timeout

CDC Weekly Flu Activity Through January 6, 2018
Chris and I have gone into almost total isolation from friends and family as we recover from the flu.

Note to self--next time someone plans a large family gathering during the height of flu season, I think I will pass. Not only did I take time off from work to attend the gathering, but now I am taking time off to recover, literally. 

I am hopeful of resuming a more normal schedule tomorrow as I will no longer be considered contagious and hopefully will feel good enough to sojourn down the parkway to work.

Looking at the map, Maryland is one of the few green states, except we were not in Maryland when exposed and we were mixed in with people who traveled from red states! The combination was, toxic.

Chris and I are trying not to singlehandedly turn Maryland into a an orange or red state.

At least the future is a bit brighter in terms of temperatures and weather. The temperatures are going to be climbing and the sun is expected to be brightly burning in the sky. That cannot be bad at all. WE are going into a warming trend and there will be days when the temperatures will not dip below freezing!

It may not be golfing weather, but it is getting close!

Now all I need to do is get over the flu!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Training the Willful Puppy

Finnegan in the Snow
Finnegan has become the definition of a willful puppy. He is strong willed and is fighting his potty training at every turn.

Chris and I thought we had turned the corner on house training. Then the snow and cold returned.

The small Yorkie does not like the cold snow. 

He was good with it in New York and was a potty-trained champion, but upon returning to Maryland he has definitely regressed. 

Jeremy did us a favor last evening by retrieving the dogs for a playdate with Lucas. Finnegan resisted pooping (notice that this word is much softer than the one allegedly uttered by the President) until he was in Jeremy's house. He performed this act almost immediately upon going inside.

This has to change. 

The joys of training puppy continue.

We have the "mad pooper!"

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Flying in Danby

While in New York, I did exercise my drone for a short flight just to get some footage of the house and Scott, Dad, and I watching the drone watching us.

I named the drone, Radio Flyer because it is red like a wagon and I remember that when I was young I had a wagon that I used to hauling stuff around. I remember the day that the wheel connection to the wagon body broke--I was very sad.

My DJI Spark drone is red and it looks a little bit like a red wagon from my childhood. 

While I was in Upstate New York this weekend the weather cleared long enough for a quick flight of my parents back deck. I am still learning to fly it and have only flown it in the beginner mode. I actually hit  the limit for altitude, which is 100 feet in beginner mode. 

I made a video of the flight. I cut most of the s epic stuff and just focused on the parts where we were on the deck watching it watch us. 

When it was at the maximum altitude, I was amazed that I could see Cayuga Lake off to the north. It was also nice to get a full view of the deck that I helped to paint last summer. It is very green

It was a short flight, but it does document that on the day before the storm, there was no snow on the ground. 

Five inches, or more, fell overnight.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Musings - January 15, 2018

1. It is Martin Luther King Jr Day. Some of us get to enjoy a holiday.

2. Driving back from Upstate New York yesterday the thermometer on the car registered a low of -9 in some places. I can't even imagine that kind of cold.

Matt Blowing the Overnight Snow
3. The weather is cold again! It is 15 degrees outside. Ugh!

4. It is fun to watch the news describe the morning traffic when I know that I do not have to drive into it. 

5. Wall, why does it have to be a $17 billion wall?

6. Doesn't The President realize that he is the face of America and everything he utters or tweets becomes what people believe about our country?

7. What is wrong with this picture of Matt blowing snow on Saturday morning in Upstate New York? Everything! It was 60 degrees the day before and there was no snow. 


Hopes Dim for DACA Deal as Lawmakers Battle Over Trump’s Immigration Remarks - The New York Times

In Iran, Protester ‘Suicides’ Stir Anger and Calls for Accountability - The New York Times

Jeff Flake expected to deliver floor speech comparing Trump's attacks on media to Stalin's - CNN

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"We're a friend of peace first, last, and always. But the American soul was forged in freedom. And we will be a friend of freedom everywhere, and the foes of freedom will be our foes."
Remarks at the 1985 Reagan Administration Executive Forum, January 25, 1985

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 14, 2018

From 90 to 8

Two days and two different birthday parties. 

Dad and Mom Holding Court
at the Head of the Room
January, 13, 2018
Yesterday was a big birthday celebration with people arriving from all over the country to celebrate Dad and his 90 years. 

Lucas with an Alligator
It was an exciting evening despite the inhospitable weather. It was bitter cold and there was a lot of snow, but the meeting hall was warm with admiration and compliments. It was good to see all of the family that was able to make the trek, despite the conditions, and celebrate Dad's life. It is really hard to corral over 70 people on a cold winter's night and my sisters a great job of getting the family to come together.

From my standpoint, it was great to talk to so many of my cousins and catch up on their lives and families.
The Family Posing with an Albino Python

This morning, we departed a frigidly cold Ithaca about 6:30 AM to be back for Lucas' 8th Birthday Party at EcoAdventures. A couple years ago we had his birthday party there as well. I'm not sure having a birthday party with snakes, alligators, and roaches is exactly the way to have fun, but the kids and even the adults seemed to have fun.

There is something really different about eating ice cream birthday cake surrounded by wild animals. And I don't mean the kids, either.

I am glad that I was able to make both celebrations even though they were almost 6 hours of driving apart.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Snow, Why did it have to be Snow

"Heavy snow, freezing rain, bitter cold," those were the words that the weather channel used to describe conditions this morning. I drove from Maryland to Upstate New York just to experience the worst that winter has to offer.

Parts of my extended family are strewn across the state and region as they continue to attempt to assemble to celebrate Dad's 90th birthday.

No one expected a storm of blizzard proportions. There is at least 6 inches of snow on the ground here, but it is hard to tell how much since the wind is blowing it around and creating impressive drifts.

Yesterday it was 61 degrees here. Idyllic weather for January, but it was a brief respite from the winter. Today it is 50 degrees colder and the ground has disappeared under a blanket of cold, white snow.

The big event party is this afternoon at 5 PM. It is looking like it will be a family gathering rather than the 120 person celebration that was originally planned.

Snow. Why did it have to be so much snow? And I still need to get back to Maryland. Maybe.

I'm glad it's a three-day weekend. I have an extra day the allow the dogsled team to navigate the artic conditions.

— Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Friday, January 12, 2018


Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, PA
Amazingly it was 60 degrees yesterday. The weeks of below hospitable temperatures turned into a very mild day. I even joked at work about trying to hit the golf course. Of course that never happened nor was it even a potential reality.

We are now looking at the paradox of frozen rivers and shirt-sleeve temperatures. The image is of the frozen Susquehanna River. It looks cold even though the day was 60 degrees.

I enjoyed the respite from the frigid temperatures. I relish the days which remind me that the winter season is temporary.

Some places in upstate New York are looking at getting more than 10 inches of snow tonight. Not my idea of a great way to start the holiday weekend.

Grin and enjoy or bear it.

— Bob Doan, writing from Ithaca, NY

Thursday, January 11, 2018


It is Thursday.

What is Thursday after all but the day before

As a five-day per week working society, we seem to love Friday, but let me tell you, I'd rather it be Saturday.

The temperature is well above freezing this morning at 36 degrees. It felt warm when I took the dogs out at 4:15 AM after a transient fox in the neighborhood got them stirred up. 

The weather even made a headline in this morning's The Washington Post! 

PM Update: Turning milder through Thursday
It was nice to be outside and not freezing. It almost felt warm!

One of the regional golf courses even opened up one of their four nine-hole courses for play!

But still, it is only January. There is more snow and ice in the forecast.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

In a Sunbeam

Even on the coldest days, out animals seem to be able to find the best places to nap.

Riordin, Makayla, Finnegan in a Sunbeam
The other day, when the temperatures were Arctic-cold, they found a sunbeam to warm themselves as they napped.

What is interesting is that they all decided to line up in the same sunbeam on hitting the floor. That there were two dogs and one cat dod not seem to matter. Actually, the cat holds his own against the dogs and we have a pretty close knit family.

And they slept there for quite a while until the sunbeam moved away from them.

It must be great to live a dog or cat's life in a good warm home. I wish I could curl up and sleep in a sunbeam.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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