Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Out the Hotel Window - Denver February 2018 #2

Dawn, Denver
February 27, 2018
The scene changes with the lighting outside of my hotel window. I was luck enough to get a mountain view.
Afternoon, Denver
February 27, 2018

I was able to both start and end the day enjoying a view of the mountains in the distance. 

The temperatures were cold to start the day yesterday, but warmed nicely by the evening. In the dawn image, I can see the lights of the street lamps ands the other lights as the mountains are bring lit by the diffuse pre-sunrise light. 

The afternoon image showed the haze which has been obscuring the mountains, but the bright sunlight and nearly cloud free skies have been welcome.

Another day has arrived. Let's see how much more fun I can have.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Out the Hotel Window - Denver Feb 2018

Out the Hotel Window - Denver
February 27, 2018
Well, I am on the road again. And of course I am in Denver again. I have not been here in a while and it is interesting to see the changes that have occurred. 

The hotel has received an complete makeover and is very new and modern. 

The roads are as crowded as ever. 

I was amazed how slow the car rental place was in moving people through. 

I did enjoy a nice Italian dinner last evening. I think I enjoyed it more because the portion sizes were  more normal and I was not left with a huge amount of left overs. 

I awakened this morning right on schedule at 4AM--that is actually sleeping in for me as the two hour time difference really hits me hard. I even tried to stay up late (well until 10 PM) to help my body adjust.

And so it begins.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Denver, CO

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monday Musings - February 26, 2018

Ethan with his Championship Trophy
Jackson with his Championship Trophy
1. Duo champions. Both Ethan and Jackson played on basketball teams which won their league championships yesterday. The games were thrilling and both boys made significant contributions to their team's championship win. Ethan's six points were the margin of victory for his team. 

2. The weather lately has been so mild that the trees are budding with leaves. 

3. I think I heard the peepers the other evening.

4. There weather this past weekend was too wet to golf. I hope it dries out soon.

5. With the ending of youth basketball it means that it is baseball season.

Buds on the trees
February 25, 2018
6. The Olympics have ended. The U.S. Team finished fourth in the medal count. It kind of confirms that statement made earlier during the olympics that the U.S. was the king of 4th and 5th place.

7. Orioles baseball is underway in Sarasota. The Orioles currently hold a Spring Training Grapefruit League worst record of 0-3. No panic yet.


An attack on North Korea would be massive – and massively stupid - The Washington Post

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"You know, the story, as I say, will continue. Every time we place our hand over our heart and pledge allegiance to the flag, we'll be reminded that our most precious inheritance is freedom and that history has bestowed on our nation the unique responsibility for its protection."

Remarks at a Flag Day Ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland, June 14, 1985

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Gray Skies Again

Miniature Daffodils in the Garden
A Gray Day over the Neighborhood
From Radio Flyer
February 24, 2018
I have to admit. I am really longing for some blue sky and warmth from the orb that occupies the daytime. 

The gray gloom is oppressive! 

But, yesterday I managed a flight from my drone Radio Flyer, in between rainstorms, and I also found a sure sign of Spring in the gardens. 

The daffodils and crocus are coming up. There are clues throughout the gardens and Chris and I noticed that the forsythia are beginning to bloom in some areas. At least Springtime has not yet been delayed because of the gloomy weather.

The gray is ubiquitous, which is the best word to describes the weather. 

Radio Flyer went through its paces. I wish I could manage to smile more when I am flying, but I am working hard and concentrating on safety of flight issues. Radio Flyer did manage to collide with a small branch that I could not see which caused a minor mishap. I did not have the video running during that portion of the flight and so it is not documented. The good news is that Radio Flyer survived and made another flight.

I managed to make good use of the otherwise dreary day.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Dreary Days

Apparently the punishment for two glorious and beautiful days of weather this past week is gloom.

The past couple of days have been gray and damp. At least it has not been snowing and the temperatures have remained above freezing, but still the weather has precluded outdoors activity.

Gold Medal USA Curling Team
I have been awed at how gray the weather has been. A cool mist hanging over the land while it rains or drizzles, or not.

It stifles the desire to get outside and do something.

At least the Olympics are providing some comic relief and the U.S. Team is doing a bit better during the second week of the Olympics.

And as I tire of Olympics, there is golf to watch as Tiger continues his comeback tour.

The Orioles also began playing Spring Training games yesterday with an expected 6-3 loss to Tampa. Baseball is back! Hopefully the fortunes of the team will improve as the Spring Training games continue.

But the gloomy skies continue this morning.


Can Spring arrive soon?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, February 23, 2018

News from Camp - Starting Rotation

In two short weeks I will be in Sarasota watching the Orioles in Spring Training for myself. I hope to have a solid evaluation of the team before then so that I can look for some specific thing to look for in the team as it develops. 

I am excited that I will likely get to see a number of players who likely will make the roster by the end of the season. 

And of course, I am interested in the pitching! The Orioles finally have a starting rotation! That is something. The way I see it the rotation is Bundy, Gausman, Cashner, Tillman. The problem is that after those four pitchers, there is precious little major league starter experience and the probability that all four starters will make it through the season without injury is near zero. So right off, the Orioles still need starting pitching. 

So that is where the Orioles are. They have four probable starters and no depth. I believe they must still be in the market for at least two part-time starters to be ready for the fifth day and the likely injuries. 

Time will tell.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, February 22, 2018

It Was Awesome

Around the Fire Table

The temperature reportedly hit a high of 83 degrees yesterday under bright and sunny skies. I have to admit, it did not seem that warm--but it felt great!

I have missed the 80's. I hope there are many more days like yesterday in the forecast. There are none yet, but there are no temperatures forecast below 32 for the next 10 days. 

What do you do with a day like that? 

Sit around the fireable and enjoy the evening as it falls! It was still 75 degrees at 6:34 pm. It was a beautiful late Spring day. Wait, it is still winter
Gesture Image from Radio Flyer Following Me

I was also able to get Radio Flyer out for more work with gestures and it did much better. A very successful flight where the drone finally did enter following mode and snap a few images. 

A beautiful day and an awesome ending.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Flying with Gestures

Radio Flyer in Flight
Me from my Drone
Radio Flyer, my DJI Spark drone, can be launched and flown just by using hand gestures. The cameras can also be activated--both video and snap shot. 

Yesterday, I finally began to unlock the secrets of gesture flight--I was not very elegant and I frankly didn't fully understand when I had the video camera on and why I wasn't taking snapshots.

Learning the gesture mode is a bit more difficult than the on-line videos make it seem. But then, when isn't that the truth?

It was fun to manage the flight profile of the drone with just my hand signals. I am a bit anxious to try it out on the golf course, but I probably won't do that.

I am continuing to learn and unlock the secrets of my drone. I still need to work on the following mode, Radio Flyer didn't follow me very well.

By the way, notice that Cat, my Jaguar, is in the driveway with the top down. It was that nice of a day. A top-down driving day in February! And today is supposed to be nicer!

Seventy degree days area rarity during February. I am enjoying them.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

After the Three-day

I often make a joke about Monday being on Tuesday as the workweek begins after a three-day holiday weekend.

It is true. No matter how we try to avoid it, the first of the workweek is a Monday. There are just things that happen on Monday that can only happen on  M Monday--like saying something simple like, "How was your weekend?"

Despite the rain yesterday and the snowed on Saturday, my weekend was interesting and overall enjoyable. 

I sojourned to Frederick, MD and beyond to enjoy two wineries and a breweries with Patrick and Tina and then subsequently visited a newly opened brewery in Odenton with Mike and Nicole. 

Radio Flyer flew above 200 feet altitude for the first time and hopefully I am ready to move into gesture control now that I believe that I have trouble shot the problems that I was having. It helps to actually enable the gesture control feature.

I also enjoyed basketball games where both Jackson and Ethan each scored and played shutdown defense.  

And did mention Teddy--Jeremy's newly arrived Keeshond?

It was a three-day weekend to remember and the last holiday weekend until Memorial Day.

Presidents' Day Quote

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. - President George Washington

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday Musings - February 19, 2018

1. Happy Presidents' Day! Which president is your favorite? Which one is your least favorite?

2. CBS News ranked the Presidents from 1 to 45. Review the ratings and see if you agree. Number 45 may surprise you. Numbers 1 and 2 have birthdays this month. I thought Ronald Reagan was asked too low, personally.

3. It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own. President Herbert Hoover.

Finnegan and Teddy with Jeremy
4. There is a new dog in the family. Welcome Teddy, Jeremy and Lucas's new keeshond. The family has a pair of kees again!

5. Both Ethan and Jax's basketball teams won their first round playoff games yesterday. Basketball continues for one more week.

6. After Saturday's snow, the temperatures and the weather seem to be improving.

7. The aftermath of Valentine's Day has a beautiful bouquet of tulips and irises sitting on the table. They are a splash of color in the dreary season.


What to Do With a Day Off - The New York Times

How Unwitting Americans Encountered Russian Operatives Online - The New York Times

Team USA's biggest Winter Olympic team nabs few medals (so far) - CNN

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"You understand that freedom is not a luxury, but a necessity; not a privilege, but the source of our life's bread. In science, just as in our economy, our object must be to maximize freedom, to open up new avenues of inquiry and new areas of experimentation."

Remarks at a White House Luncheon for the New Pioneers, February 12, 1985

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Evening at the Winery

Big Cork Ice Sculpture
February 17, 201 8
Last evening we braved the snow with Patrick and Tina and attend a a wine club event at Big Cork Vineyards

Snowstorm as We Arrive at Bog Cork
But wait, there was snow! Lots of snow along the way. The roads roads because progressively worse as we drove westward to Rohrsville for the event. A fast moving snow storm cruised through the area as were were making our way to the event. 

Of course, this was not just a one-stop afternoon. We visited Black Ankle Vineyard on our way and made a stop at Olde Mother Brewing in Frederick, MD.

We sampled a number of wines and beers during the day, but the wine club event at Big Cork was the highlight. 

Big Cork Wine Club events are special. There is food and last evening there was music. We had the chance to interact with the wine maker and enjoy some revelry during the dark days February. As an added benefit, we enjoyed some fruit of the vine!

It was a fun afternoon and the snow wasn't really all that bad. 

Mid-winter fun! It makes Spring seem a little bit closer.

Presidential Quote for the Day:

"Human kindness never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Presidents' Day Weekend

Last evening while enjoying Happy Hour at a local pasta restaurant, I was introduced to an advertisement from the pages of The Washington Post published in advance of President's Day. 

Usually I would be underwhelmed at the idea of looking at a newspaper ad, however, this one contained numerous statements made by great Americans about our country and justice.

The ad was titled, "Mr President, In anticipation of Presidents' Day consider the following words of counsel and caution."  Author Tom Blair took out the ad. 

One very telling quote was from Steven Hawking: "People who boast about their I.Q. are losers." I have seen this quote also written "People who boast about their IQ are idiots."

And this from President John F. Kennedy:
"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future."

There are 59 quotes in total and as I researched for the blog this morning I was unable to find all of the them reprinted, although they should be. The best that I could do was a .pdf file of the February 14, 2018 edition of The Washington Post.

Happy Presidents' Day--may America be stronger through the trials of today!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, February 16, 2018

Awesome Thursday

Happy Hour Around the Fire Pit
February 15, 2018
It is Friday again! The end of the work week has arrived and this Friday I do not have to deal with a government shutdown.

Looking at our house from up the street
February 15, 2018
While Friday is fantastic in its own right, yesterday was special in a couple of ways.

The weather provided a foretaste of the springtime that I seek with temperatures approaching 70 degrees. Chris and I were able to enjoy happy hour outside around a fire pit and watch the evening fall while discussing Spring Break plans, retirement, and summertime house projects. 

A Letter about Ms. Doan
I was amazed at the warm afternoon weather. I was even able to get Radio Flyer up into the sky for some flying time. I took my drone to a nearby collection pond to get some experience flying in a different area. The 12 minute flight set personal records as my new highest altitude and longest distance. I was able to get an image of our house from up the street, I am sure that once the leaves finally return that this same shot will not be possible. 

Rounding out the day, Chris received confirmation that she has reached the pinnacle of her career as an educator and that she can retire knowing that she has made a positive difference in the lives of many children. One of her students generated a letter about the great assistant that she truly is and Chris was able to take a picture of the letter. The final sentence in the letter is especially touching, "She helps me like Jesus helped the kids that are depressed become happy." Truly, when someone is compared to Jesus they have reached the pinnacle of their career and can retire knowing that they were a positive influence in the lives of others.

What a Thursday it was!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day Delivery
The way we celebrate Valentine's Day has changed over the years. 

Louis enjoying Pre-Dinner Happy Hour
We used to head off to an over-crowded restaurant and drop down an excessive amount of money for an overpriced meal to celebrate the day. 

Now, we plan a special dinner at home with a very nice bottle of wine and time alone together to reflect.

Last evening was another special Valentine's Day in the series. The wine of choice was a 2006 Chateau St Jean Reserve Merlot. I remember that we purchased the wine at the winery when we visited Napa and Sonoma a few years ago. The dinner was steak from the grill with oven-baked potato and salad. For dessert we enjoyed Key Lime Pie! I hesitate to think what that dinner would cost in a restaurant. The wine alone might be as much as a small car payment. 

Valentine's Steak on the Grill
Maybe we are just getting old, wanting to enjoy a special time out, but I suspect not. Too many people cramming themselves into restaurants to celebrate a meal for one night just doesn't seem fun. Making the meal special at home--now that is where it is all at!

I look forward to being at home and enjoying a special meal with my Valentine is the best kind of celebration.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Olympics Observations

Chloe Kim Snowboarding
I am enjoying the Olympics coverage on NBC. I guess it is because the coverage is coming live during the hours that I am most able to watch the games.

For the past two evenings I have been fascinated watching the half-pipe snowboarding competition and seeing two gold medals delivered by the US competitors Chloe Kim and Shaun White. 

Shaun White Snowboarding
I am fascinated with the agility and bravery of the snowboarders. Last evening, I also saw how it can go very badly when 16-year old Yuto Totsuka, a Japanese snowboarder, was injured during his run. There was no update on his condition this morning except that he was conscious and in some pain.

I found it fitting that the 31-year old Shaun White's gold medal was the 100th gold medal earned by the U.S. Team during Winter Olympics competitions. It was Shaun's 3rd Gold Medal!

By comparison, it seems that they give out almost 100 gold medals during every Summer Olympics, I know that isn't true, but it sure seems like a lot of medals are given out. Oh wait, according to Wikipedia, 307 gold medals were awarded during the 2016 Summer Olympics!

And the games go on!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pitchers and Catchers

Even though the calendar says it is Winter, it must be Spring because Orioles Spring Training gets underway today as pitches and catches report to Sarasota to begin workouts.

It has finally arrived. Spring Training has returned and hopes are high or the upcoming season.

OK, for the Orioles hopes are not really that high. It is really a dark spot on the excitement that is the beginning o Spring Training. The Orioles have problems--with pitching. suggests that Spring Training will be an exciting one or the Orioles as they work to set their starting pitching rotation. I take the view that the entire season hinges upon what the Orioles do in the next couple of weeks. The Orioles enter training with just two of five needed starting quality pitchers. 

Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun makes the following statement:

When the Orioles officially report to spring training camp Tuesday, they will not be a better team than the one that finished fifth in the American League East last season. That should be fairly obvious.

And that is where we begin the season. 

Hopes are definitely not high. I see the Orioles losing a lot of games with astronomical scores like 9-7. 

Well, we can't win if we don't play!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, February 12, 2018

Monday Musings - February 12, 2018

1. We survived another government shutdown. The cost to the American taxpayers is enormous and the loss of status in the world is unquantifiable.

2. What did you do with your Sunday afternoon now that the NFL football season is over?

Rolls Royce Hood Ornament
3. The U.S. is lagging in the Olympics medals race. Currently standing at 2-1-1 for a total of 4, that is half as many as Norway, the current leader.

4. The torrential rains of the weekend have soaked everything. The lawn is a squishy land of mud. Maybe Springtime is close at hand?

5. The thermometer hit 66 degrees yesterday. Officially it was 63.9 degrees. This morning it is 52 degrees, which looks as if it will be the high for the day.

6. I was reviewing some of the images I captured at the auto show last week. I had forgotten this one with the Rolls Royce hood ornament in it.

7. Youth basketball season is winding down, the playoffs are up for next week. I'm excited because after basketball comes baseball.


Abuse Case Exposes Fissures in a White House in Turmoil - The New York Times

Pence: The United States is ready to talk with North Korea - The Washington Post

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

"The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we're a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. And something else we learned: Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world."
Farewell Address to the Nation, January 11, 1989

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Radio Flyer Takes to the Skies

February, so far, has been a month of wild weather. The weather has ranged from below freezing temperatures to the current torrential rains which are making the region excessively soggy.

Looking up the Street
February 10, 2018
Yesterday, however, there was a break in the cold and rain and I was able to get Radio Flyer, my DJI Spark drone, out for a flight. It felt great to wind up the engines and have my drone respond by launching into the sky. 

The flight plan for the day was to continue developing dexterity with the controller and do a lot of low altitude work around the year and up the drive. But, I managed to get some nifty images from the skies in what was my also my highest flight to date. Even the clouds were interesting to look at an realize they contained rains which was going to envelop the region.

My flights were shorter than desired because both the batteries only contained a 60 percent charge from sitting unused for almost two weeks. Note to self--the batteries need to be topped off after they have been sitting unused.

The next time I get the opportunity to fly, I will be working on the hand-launch and hand-signal control of the drone. It is one of the coolest features of this drone and I have been studying the videos in preparation for my first hand-signal control flight.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Week that Was

Yes, there was a government shutdown, despite the news reports indicating that the shutdown was averted. It was not. I spent time working the shutdown all week and even during the shutdown. It was an incredible waste.

The weather has been cold! Too cold. It has been no fun. 

Nathan Chen Falling
The Olympics began in South Korea. 

I watched some of the team ice skating on the night before the opening ceremonies. 

I felt very bad that Nathan Chen fell during his opening program. All of the build up was a lot of an 18 year old to handle. I am sure he will recover nicely.

The Falcon Heavy liftoff from Florida restored some moxie to the US Space Programs. The double-booster landing was fabulous. No one else on the planet has been able to pull that off.

The week!

I'm happy that Saturday is here. I only wish it were warm enough to golf.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, February 9, 2018

Our Government at Work

I really a being a bit facetious with the title because as I write this i have been advised that appropriations to fund the government have lapsed again and that we are in yet another shutdown furlough.

We just did this a couple of weeks ago.

Congress continues to unevenly attempt to fund the government and the President  seems to enjoy the on and off-again form of government that shutdowns create. 


Waste! The amount of money that goes into planning for a shutdown, whether one actually occurs or not is phenomenal. 

As I write this, the New York Times is reporting that the shutdown is over! 

House Passes Budget Deal to Raise Spending and Reopen Government - The New York Times

But has the President signed the bill? Are we going to have to do this again in a few weeks? 

The questions remain.

Fundamentally, this is not way to run a government. We are rapidly becoming a third world country in terms of consistency in government. If this continues, our credit rating will slump and it will cost a lot more to fund the debt.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, February 8, 2018

I Love a Parade

A large military parade to demonstrate how powerful the U.S. military is for all to see.

It is like an adolescent game of who can spit the watermelon seed the farthest. 

Or a game of my army's bigger than your army!


Have we not gone far enough with this insanity? The need to demonstrate how big and bad we are seems a bit lost on the world. Our military is becoming a shell of its former self due to the continuing budget crises.

The last big military parade in Washington D.C. was during 1991 to celebrate the end of the Gulf War.

Military parades are about ego and power. Of course Trump wants one. - The Washington Post

What would we be celebrating this time?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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