Sunday, September 30, 2018

Finnegan versus the Shark

It happened yesterday, our small dog, Finnegan took on the Shark. It was a battle to be seen.

It was a sight to see and, in the interest of truth in reporting, the shark was in reality our new Shark Ion robot cleaner.

Chris and I purchased the cleaning robot yesterday to help with basic surface vacuuming.  We had a vacuuming robot many years ago when they were just beginning to be developed and it was marginally valuable. We have not had a robot vacuum in well over 10 years and it seems that the technology has matured. So we are test driving the Shark Ion to help keep the pet hair at bay. And after its first sortie, the Shark seemed to do an admirable job finding and corralling pet hair.

Finnegan, however, saw it as a threat to the household. 

It was a couple minutes of excitement until Finnegan realized that the robot was unfazed by his demonstrative barking.

More excitement around the house, or comic relief.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Life Achievements - Jax

Program for the Induction
September 26, 2018
I was honored, Wednesday evening, to attend a ceremony inducting Jax into the National Elementary Honor Society. 
Jax making his Entrance
September 26, 2018

While I often write about Jax's exploits on the sports field, mostly baseball, but he is also a very good student. 

It was a short but significant ceremony to mark the occasion and I am happy that every so often, scholarly pursuits receive the attention that they deserve. I am guilty of focusing on athletic more than academic achievement. Perhaps it is because as a society we do not appreciate academic achievements in the same way that athletics are worshipped.

Jax with Jack
Academic and Athletic
September 26, 2018
That needs to change.

But, in the case of Jax, he is good at both athletics and academics, and that is rare. Not surprisingly, one of his best friends, Jack, was also at the induction and like Jax, he is also a solid athlete!

Good friends in sports and school!

It was a great evening followed by a good dinner celebration.

Life celebrations. They deserve to be remembered!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, September 28, 2018

Theater of the Congress

Theater of the Congress, Absurd. 

Yesterday will be remembered as the lowest point ever achieved in American political life as the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled two Americans about something that happened 36 years ago while they were in High School.

Many lives were destroyed. There were no winners, only losers. There were no high points. There was no resolution. 

Millions of Americans watched the proceedings hoping for enlightenment.

There was none.

An article in the New York Times titled, She Said. Then He Said. Now What Will Senators Say? suggests that in the Trump era, politics in America has become tribal. 

An excerpt from the article points out:

It has become something of a cliché to say that the United States has become increasingly tribal in the era of President Trump, with each side in its own corner, believing what it chooses to believe and looking for reinforcement in the media and politics. But the battle over Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination has reinforced those divisions at the intersection of sex, politics, power and the law.

It was all on display yesterday, televised live and at the expense of the families and friends of the two people at center stage. 

Now, in my estimation, the man who would be a member of The Supreme Court stands accused of multiple sexual assault felonies and his principle accuser is a heroine to some and while being vilified by others.

Sadly, the toll is much higher than just those involved in the proceedings. There is a loss of faith in our leadership that may never be repaired. The partisanship that cripples our government and our economy was on display for the world to see. 

One commentator opined, perhaps they are both telling the truth as they remember it! 

Frankly, I could not remember almost anything from 36 years ago with the clarity that both of them seem to have.

I was left feeling that he lack of due process, the innuendo becoming fact, and the witch-hunt over allegations that happened while the principals were in high school over three decades ago is hammering another nail in to the coffin that was the America dreamed of and fought for by our founding fathers.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 27, 2018

After the Birthday Reflections

Instead of my almost usual Thursday rant about the Orioles, I am going to focus my thoughts elsewhere.

My Favorite Birthday Cake
September 26, 2018
Yes, my birthday was yesterday. It was all over Facebook. Thank-you to every one who send a note of cheer and I also want to send special thank-you for those who gave  me a birthday gift by donating to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

I am very blessed with things and don't really need any "gifts" for my birthday. I was awed by the response of my friends and family to my decision to ask for donations for a charity. Men's health issues and especially prostate and testicular cancer have really become very important to me. I find it interesting that many of the people I talk to know someone, a father or grandfather, who had prostate cancer.

We need to talk about these things more so that guys can get tested and treated earlier. While we, guys, think we are invincible, we are not and we need to do some basic things to ensure that we can continue to live healthy and fruitful lives.

So for my Happy Birthday, I want to celebrate by helping find a cure for prostate cancer and helping those who need assistance as they work through treatment.

Thanks to everyone who feels similarly.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Sitting by the Pool

The YMCA of Pasadena
September 25, 2018
Sometimes it does not have to be my own pool. Sitting by a pool brings back the feeling of summer, especially on a humid evening after the storms have cleared a bit.

The evening ended in beautiful fashion. The skies cleared a bit and sitting  by the pool at the Y watching Lucas practice was not so bad.  It was an hour away from the noise that complicates life, like traffic. 

Chris and I retrieved Lucas about 4:45 PM for a 5:30 PM practice and made it through traffic, with the help of Waze. During the hour that we were waiting, the skies began to clear a bit and the Sun even made an appearance. 

Today is, however, the cross-over day as the Sun rises at 6:59 AM and sets at 6:59 PM. After today, it is all downhill into the dark season.

Hopefully, the rain for clear soon and we can begin to enjoy outdoors activities again. The almost 80 degree temperatures of yesterday reminded me of a nice summer afternoon. 

And I was sitting by a pool. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Autumn Activities

With the arrival of Autumn, it is time to begin maintenance activities to prepare for the impending dark season.

I noticed last evening that it was dark by 7:15 PM. Very dark. Officially, sunset was 7 PM, but with the heavy cloud cover darkness descended upon the land shortly after the Sun sank below the horizon. At least I believe there was a sun because I never saw it during the day.

Right Front Tire on Chris's Highlander
September 23, 2018
The maintenance activities are beginning in earnest. Chris's vehicle now has not only new brakes, but is equipped with a brand new set of tires to prepare for the season ahead. I decided her tires were too worn to safely make it though the winter.

There are other activities that will begin to happen. The ornamental grasses around the pool will be cut and recycled, wood will be gathered or purchased, windows and latches will be inspected. These are among the many projects that will be accomplished during the next few weeks.

Through all of it, I will dream of another vacation in the sun and warmth. It is also time to make vacation plans. I was thinking off a cruise across the Atlantic in April to Barcelona, Spain, but when I checked out the return airfare prices I decided that the good deal for the cruise was completely offset by the incredible airfare to return home. The airfare was equal to a balcony cabin on the cruise.

The forecast for the next few days is for more rain, but then, amazingly, for the weekend the Sun comes out! We may even see one last 80 degree day before the temperatures fall into the 60's and below for good.

Maybe there is some golf in my future after all!

Autumn activités are swinging into full gear in preparation for the winter's dark, cold days. I will be ready.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday Musings - September 24, 2018

1. It is the last Monday of September. It is also the first Monday of Autumn and the first Monday since I closed my pool.

Me Diving in the Bahamas
August 27, 2018
2. The forecast for the week is for rain and more rain!

3. I finally got access to some of the images from my Bahamas dive with Patrick and Tina. They are very interesting. I still have not found the video of the shark we saw. The images bring back great memories and remind me that there is nothing better than breathing compressed air and exploring the world below the surface that we can only visit for short periods of time. 

Right Front Brake Pads Replaced
September 23, 2018
4. The Orioles (45-110, .290) actually won a game in New York, defeating the Yankees yesterday. There are 7 games remaining. The Orioles are still on pace to lose 115 games.

5. I figured out what to do on a rainy day: replace the brakes on Chris's vehicle. Which I did, yesterday! The temperature was moderate and the garage kept me dry as I replaced the brakes on all four wheels. My new floor jack was particularly useful in lifting the Highlander, my old jack did not have the necessary throw to get the job done.

Turkey Vulture in Dumpster
Elkridge Fire Department
September 23, 2018
6. Where do turkey vultures go when there are not enough dead things around to eat? Apparently they go to the nearest dumpster and do some dumpster diving. Chris and I found about six of them at a local dumpster yesterday. 

7. The family weekend football team results are in and overall it is better than last week:

Ravens (2-1) defeated Broncos 27-14
Redskins (2-1) defeated Packers 31-17
Cowboys (1-2) lost to the Seahawks 24-13
Steelers play tonight against Buccaneers

8. How about Tiger Woods winning the Tour Championship yesterday. It was spectacular seeing him raise his arms in triumph after so much adversity wearing his classic red shirt and black pants on a Sunday afternoon?

9. Today in History, from 
The Judiciary Act of 1789 is passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington, establishing the Supreme Court of the United States as a tribunal made up of six justices who were to serve on the court until death or retirement. That day, President Washington nominated John Jay to preside as chief justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson to be associate justices. On September 26, all six appointments were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.


Over and out: CB radio-maker struggles to adjust to Trump tariffs - The Washington Post

China Is Confronting New U.S. Hostility. But Is It Ready for the Fight? - The New York Times

Hong Kong pro-independence party formally outlawed in first such move since handover - Reuters

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is a continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows us to recognize shortcomings and seek alternatives.
    Address to Students at Moscow State University, May 31, 1988

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Autumn Arrives

Pool Closing from Radio Flyer
September 22, 2018
Autumn, heralding the arrival of the dark season, arrived last evening and with it the weather has already changed. The cooler air blew in while Chris and I were enjoying dinner with the temperature dropping to 64 degrees as we headed home. This morning the temperature has fallen to 59 degrees. A confirmation of Autumn's arrival.
The Water Level is Lowered
September 22, 2018

With the cooler weather, the rains have returned. We are facing a week of rainy weather.

The big project for the yesterday was closing the pool in advance of the cooler weather, falling leaves, and rains. Frankly, I was tired of hauling leaves out of the pool everyday and I had not swum in the pool during the past few weeks since returning from the cruise. Of course, I would have been swimming on Labor Day, but the pool was green and I was killing the algae bloom that had developed while we were away.

Chris and Finnegan Helping to Close the Pool
September 22, 2018
I flew Radio Flyer to get an image of the pool closing. By about 7:15 AM, I already had the back-up pump running to draw the water down in the pool. I had to use the back-up pump because the primary pump had burned out a few days ago. I also had the pool cleaner, known as the Dolphin, running one last time to rid the pool of leaves and debris. 

Once the water was lowered to the winter season level, I added the chemicals, my witch's brew as I call it, to help the pool make it through the next almost eight months. I used the pump and outlet hose to mix the water and chemicals to be ready for the final act--installing the cover. 

Cover Installed Ready for the Dark Season
September 22, 2018
Finnegan turned out to be very interested in the entire process of closing the pool and was by our sides the entire time. He did give us a scare as he started to run across the not yet fully installed pool cover and Chris was concerned that he would fall into the water and that I would then have to rescue him. You read that correctly, she wouldn't rescue him, I would be responsible for that act of courage and bravery. 

Sunrise, the Last Day of Summer Dawns
September 22, 2018
Radio Flyer
By 11:17 AM, when I took the image of the fully installed cover, the process was nearly complete. All that remained was to fill the lines with anti-freeze and close them off. Then it was clean up time! We were done well before noon. Another successful pool closing.

I still have to get the newly arrived pump motor set-up, but that will not take too much time. I won't actually install it into the pump until Springtime. Pool opening day is about 223 days away, tentatively scheduled for May 4th of 2019!  Of course if the weather seems nice in April, I may open it earlier. 

We may resurface the pool at some point during the off season which will also cause us to take the cover off and effectively open it. Hopefully after the leaves are all off the trees. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 22, 2018

As the Trees Fall

After the Felling
September 21, 2018
Yesterday was a momentous day around the house. 

Looking Through the Backyard
From Radio Flyer
September 22, 2018
Five dead ash trees were felled cleaning up the sight lines from the house. I was smart enough to pay professionals to drop the trees. Some needed to be topped first.

We are no longer looking at dead trees, but rather, at least for a few more weeks, an undulating sea of green.  The way it is supposed to be.

Now comes the hard part--cleaning up the mess. At least I have my trusty chain saw.

We have a lot of ash wood now lying on the ground waiting to become firewood. It was sad to lose the mighty trees, but at least the falling limbs no longer pose a hazard to life and property. 

Just another day at home!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Last Full Day of Summer

The last full day of summer has arrived. Autumn officially begins tomorrow at 9:54 PM EDT. At that time the Sun will cross the equator to preparing to spend the winter season in the southern hemisphere. I never thought about the Sun being a "snowbird" before. I want to be a snowbird when I grow up!

Pool Pump Motor - Non-Functional
September 21, 2018
It is fitting that as summer ends, tomorrow is also pool closing day. To make the closing process more interesting, the motor for the pump burned out two days ago. What a fitting end to the pool season. I admit, I knew the motor was nearing the end of its useful life due to the noise it was making, but I was hoping it would make it to the end of the season. It did not. At least the neighbors are likely happy to have relative silence during the daytime hours now.

Not having a working pump motor makes closing the pool a bit more difficult since I have to lower the water level in preparation for the winter and mix a witch's brew of chemicals into the remaining water. Fortunately, I have a back-up pump which can help me accomplish the task.

Pool closing is a sad day around my house. It marks the official end of the swimming season. It is fitting that it will be accomplished on the last day of Summer as Autumn is preparing to arrive. I am hopeful of documenting the day with Radio Flyer, which has been grounded for almost a month now by weather and my busy schedule.

First, however, I have to make it through another Friday! I don't know why so many people look forward to Friday. I'm a much bigger fan of Saturday!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Orioles Thursday - The Lost Season

List of Worst Major League Baseball Records
Modern Era (Since 1900)
The Orioles set a record the other day. The 2018 version of the team has accumulated the most losses of any Orioles team in history.

An inglorious record.


Last night the Orioles, (44-108, .289) amazingly won a game against the Blue Jays. The team is 59 games out of first place and 47 games out of qualifying for a wild card post-season position. With the win last night, the Orioles have assured themselves of not tying the 2003 Detroit Tigers for 119 losses! The Orioles have almost assured themselves of not reaching the 50 wins plateau this season. They are 3-7 for their last 10 games and with 10 games remaining they would have to win 6 to achieve 50 wins. My prediction of 115 losses seems very possible and possibly a bit conservative. 

The Orioles are already listed in the List of worst Major League Baseball season records.

The Orioles are a team which defines futility. I have seen them lose in almost every imaginable way this season. The real losers, however, are the fans of this once proud baseball team. We will still be here long after the players and the coaches who contributed to the debacle that is the 2018 season have moved on. We will remember this season for a long time.

The off season cannot arrive soon enough.

 I have to admit--I did not see this coming.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Autumn is in the Air

Decorated for Autumn
September 18, 2018
The remnants of the former hurricane Florence passed by yesterday dumping inches of rain on the region. Since then,  the temperatures have cooled a bit and I detect that Autumn is in the air.

The season officially begins on Saturday evening, but I already detect the subtle signs of its arrival. 

One way to tell are the decorations outside our front door. The season has definitely changed and the orange and reds of the autumn are visible along with the pervasive pumpkins.

The leaves are beginning to fall from the trees. These first ones have just decided to let go from their branches without changing color, but I know the big change cannot be far off as color will fill the senses after the first frost. 

It should be a busy couple of months as the seasons change from summer to autumn. 

Bring on the pumpkins!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Sitting Here Watching the Rain Fall

It rained again last evening.

All evening.

Even during the night I was awakened by a thunderstorm. 

It is raining. A lot. 

Chris knew that I had had a particularly trying day and had happy hour waiting for me when I finally made it home about 6 PM after a long day. It was a great transition into the evening. 

I sat on the porch looking out at the sea of green punctuated with dead ash trees and I realized that autumn is not too far off. Many people get excited about autumn and the bright display of colors that nature provides to ease the transition from summer's warmth and green. I admit, the colors do provide temporary enjoyment.

I began thinking about the trees and how much I appreciate and respect them. I don't know why I used to color tree trunks brown when I was a kid, they are gray. The summer green gives way to winter gray and it remains gray until springtime revives the world. I wonder if Crayola has a crayon named Winter Gray?

We have had a lot of rain. And gray skies. The forecast calls for rain and thunderstorms until about 6PM. According to the local weather station we have received 1.36 inches of rain since midnight!

More rain. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and bright! We will see. I hope so. I have almost forgotten what that bright orb in the sky looks like. I enjoy feeling its warm rays on my face.

Until then, more rain.

Until then, like a tree, I will just enjoy the view.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday Musings - September 17, 2018

1. A weekend without rain, mostly. 
it was a different way to start the second half of September.

Moon over Elkridge in the Sunset Sky
September 16, 2018
2. The leaves falling from the trees are making the job of keeping the pool open and clean a daily task. Unless I get a contract to resurface the pool, next weekend I will close the pool.

3. Weekend family sports teams results were dismal:
    Ravens (1-1) lost 23-34 to Bengals (Thursday)
    Steelers (0-1-1) lost 37-42 to Chiefs
    Redskins (1-1) lost 9-21 to Colts
    Cowboys (1-1) defeated the Giants, 20-13

Finnegan Rocking His Colors
September 16, 2018
4. The Orioles (43-106, .289) set a milestone over the weekend. By winning Sunday's game over the White Sox, the Orioles cannot lose 120 games this season and therefore cannot tie the 1962 Mets for the most losses during the modern MLB baseball era.

5. Finnegan got into the spirit of NFL football Sunday and dressed out in his jersey yesterday.

6. For the first time in about a week, I saw the moon last evening while Chris and I were out on our walk. 

7. At the beginning of another week I take a moment to consider the activities laying between me and the weekend. Am I really living through weekdays just to get to the weekend?

Burnside's Bridge
Antietam Battlefield
July 28, 2018
8. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, but it is easily treated when caught early - the problem is that too often it is not. That is why the Prostate Conditions Education Council (PCEC), – a national organization committed to men’s health and a leader in prostate cancer screening – is sponsoring its 27th Annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (PCAW) from September 17-21, 2018.

9. Today in History. Beginning early on the morning of this day in 1862, Confederate and Union troops in the Civil War clash near Maryland’s Antietam Creek in the bloodiest single day in American military history. I visited Antietam during July and was reminded of the titanic struggle and unfathomable loss of life that occurred there. 


Typhoon Mangkhut Hits China and Hong Kong as Philippines Death Toll Rises - The New York Times

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.
   -- D-day Commemoration in Normandy, France, June 6, 1984

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, September 16, 2018

As the Clouds Clear

From the 4th Tee Box
Timbers at Troy
September 15, 2018
Finally, for at least a day, the rains stopped and the world began to dry out.

Plugged Golf Ball
Timbers at Troy 11th Hole
September 15, 2018
The drier conditions were a welcome relief and allowed me to get a few projects accomplished around the house. 

But first, I was able to get in a respectable round of golf at Timbers at Troy with the guys. It was good to stroll out onto the course just before 7 AM with a club in my hand and hit my first drive down the middle of the fairway. 

Although the day was generally gray, the sun broke out of the clouds later in the round. The course was very soft and it was cart path only, which slowed our pace of play. The soft course also meant that there was almost no roll out after the shot and most balls rested near their point of impact. I had more than one shot that plugged into the soft course. The greens were very slow which hampered putting a bit.

Newly Transplanted Crepe Myrtle
After the round of golf and as the day dried out even more, I was able to get more than a few projects accomplished around the house, including removing a dead shrub, installing a new outdoor security light, removing the electricity wires from a dead ash tree which will likely be felled this week, transplanting a crepe myrtle, and mowing the lawn. 

Of course the pool received some needed attention as well. I am hopeful of closing the pool next weekend and being done with the maintenance for the year. Summer is winding down and the falling leaves are becoming a nuisance.

It was a full and busy day. The only thing I wished I had done was get Radio Flyer up for a flight, but there just wasn't time. I though about it as Chris and I were relaxing on the deck at the end of the day with a glass of wine, but it was better just to sit and talk and plan for today.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 15, 2018

When Fiction Becomes Fact

This is an image of an Apple
Are you sure?
How do you know?
Just because I stay something is not true, does not not make it not true. Likewise, just because I say something is true does not make it so.

I am afraid.

As a nation we are struggling to understand the difference between real and imagined. Forces in our society have blurred the lines by decrying that free media are purveyors of falsehoods.

The idea of "Fake News" is not new. It has been around for a while, but in today's context it is threatening to rip the fabric of society apart. 

The free press has done a good job, in the past, of policing itself and pointing out exaggerations and inaccurate reporting given the opportunity to do so. I remember the downfall of Brian Williams, the former NBC News Anchor who lied about some of his experiences during the Iraq war. He was swiftly removed because he no longer represented the highest journalistic standards.

Now we have a split media that reports fake news with a megaphone, by passing on the rants of politicians pitted against the media which struggles to provide balanced reporting. Are those who accurately report the words of senior politicians and leaders reporting fake news or are they accurately reporting what is said and therefore fake news has become fact?

To what end?

The end game is not pretty.

I have been appalled about the recent discussion concerning how many Americans died during the Puerto Rico hurricanes. No matter what the answer truly is, in my view too many Americans died and it was because of an inefficient and poorly planned hurricane response. Focusing on the number and labelling dissenters as providing fake news is a deft way to change the true point of the discussion from why did so many Americans die to how many Americans died and then we forget the real point of the question.

Context and competition is needed. Rather than decrying what is reported as fake news, the correct way is to provide documented facts. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hurricane's Path - Florence Arrives

Finally it is Friday. After a long week.

It has rained every day this week. Chris and I got out for a walk yesterday during a brief break in the clouds and even felt enjoyed the feeling of sun on our faces. It was so nice that I condsidered flying Radio Flyer over the neighborhood.
Hurricane Florence

And then the gray and rain returned.

The week has been pretty much of a wash out. 

I am not complaining, however, because Hurricane Florence is not aiming at the Baltimore area directly. In fact, according to projections, the Baltimore-D.C. region will be spared as the hurricane and its tropical remnants actually spin around the area.

The news for the past few days has been focused on the hurricane and that has been a relief from the nonsense that usually comes from Washington. Even so, I was appalled at the discussion yesterday about how many people were lost when the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico last year. The debate over the death toll cannot hide the inescapable fact the the Federal Government did not prepare effectively to help the island and has not done enough to speed the recovery.

A much different response will be seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I am sure. This is a significant hurricane and there will be many opportunities to debate the adequacy of the government's response. 

But, to focus on the present, my prayers are for those directly in the path.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thursday and the Orioles

I tried to watch the Orioles game last evening. I had tickets to the game against the Orland Athletics, but decided not to drive into the city to watch the team get squashed. 

The Orioles play mostly playoff bound teams for the rest of the season. 

I tuned into the game during the second inning and the score was 0-0 with the Orioles looking competitive against the playoff bound Athletics. 

And then the third inning arrived. It was a third inning that never wanted to end for either team. After the top half of the inning, I found a movie to watch.

It was another frustrating game, for Orioles fans, with the final score having the team in the loss column again and by a shutout, 10-0. All of the scoring occurred during the top half of the third inning which saw the Athletics score 10 runs. The starting nine for the Athletics all scored before the Orioles recorded even one out. In all, 15 Athletics went to the plate during the Athletics at-bat. 

Did I mention that the Orioles managed only one hit during the game? In all they sent 28 men to the plate during the ENTIRE game. The Athletics sent 15 during just the top of the third inning alone.

And that was the tale of the game. As the camera panned the empty stadium, a place where I have personally experienced so much enjoyment, I saw that many of the Orioles faithful, like myself, are already looking forward to next season. The announced attendance was over 10,480, but most of those were season ticket holders, like myself that stayed home hoping for the team's fortunes to change during the offseason. 

The Orioles now sport a league worst record of 41-104, .283. Seventeen games remain until the season mercifully ends. Eleven of those games are against playoff bound teams! Six of the games are against rivals with losing records. I remain hopeful that the Orioles finish with only 115 losses, but I am becoming less hopeful. They need to go 6-11 .353 for the rest of the season and I cannot find 6 wins during the next 17 games. 

Statistics say the Orioles will go 5-12, .294, but looking at the teams they are playing, I fear it is more likely they will end the season in total collapse with by finishing 3-14, .176, and ending the season with a dismal 44-118, .272 record which will secure 7th place on the all time list of worst seasons in modern MLB history just behind the 2003 Detroit Tigers who were 43-116, .265. 

It was sad not to get the playoff ticket offering from the team this year. I am not expecting one next year at this point either. 

There are only two more Thursdays in September, meaning I will write an Orioles update only twice more this season--if I decided to actually write one at all. 

Dismal. I remember the season started with a win. And it has been a disaster from there.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Allure of the Seas - A Review

Allure of the Seas in Cozumel
August 29, 2018
Allure of the Seas is one of the largest ships afloat.  The Oasis class ranks fifth among the longest ships in the world (as a class) after some really large container ship and tankers. There are four ships in the Oasis class: Oasis, Allure, Harmony, and Symphony of the Seas.

Allure of the Seas in Casa Maya
August 31, 2018
We sailed on Oasis of the Seas last year and were excited about cruising on her sister ship, Allure of the Seas. It is a big ship that provides personalized amenities. Despite the number of passengers, we never felt crowded except when first boarding and then again at debarkation.

Allure of the Seas from a Beach in Casa Maya
August 31, 2018
The ship is a grand ship and we always felt comfortable. It is easy to navigate, well if you know fore from aft and port from starboard. There are effectively 16 decks that are easy to access. There are really 18 decks, but the top two are reserved for suites. The expensive suites.
Carousel on Allure of the Seas

The ship is full of entertainment possibilities and of course pool/deckside lounging. The adult area is fantastic and during our cruise we never had any problems finding deck chairs to lounge in, despite the size of the ship. The ship sports a Promenade Deck complete with shopping, food, and lounge opportunities. It has a large theater and we enjoyed a full production of Mama Mia, which was spectacular. There is a Boardwalk complete with carousel and also a Central Park with trees and walk ways. It is a diverse and exciting ship. In a seven night cruise I felt as if I was just earning the ship as the cruise ended.

My favorite spots on the ship were Vintages Wine Bar, the balcony of my stateroom, a deck chair in the Solarium, and singing in the piano bar with my family.

Allure of the Seas with Patrick and Tina in Roatan
August 30, 2018
The ratings:

Ratings note: I rated the boarding and debarkation process at Port Everglades under the Royal Caribbean blog I wrote yesterday.

Cabin and Cabin Service: A

  Chris and I had a balcony. I love balconies. It provides a window on the world. The cabin was clean, quiet, and comfortable.

Entertainment: A

  The shows and entertainment options were varied and provided a full range of opportunities. I most enjoyed Mama Mia, the Comedy Show, and the Texas Tenors.

Central Park on Deck 8 Looking Aft
Allure of the Seas
August 26, 2018
Dining in the Main Dining Hall: C

  The dining was good and solid. The food was well prepared and the servers were efficient and took special care of the boys. The major area for improvement: wine service at the table. The servers did not know the wines and as there were seven adults, it often got confusing when the servers could not remember who ordered which wine and even which red wine they had on the platter. On one occasion, I was served a white wine when I had ordered a red.

Embarkation and debarkation in ports: A

  A smooth operation. We never stood in a long line and towels and water were available in convenient locations either on the quay or in the ship.

Looking onto the Promenade Deck
Allure of the Seas
August 31, 2018
Shopping: B

  I don't go on a cruise to shop, but there were opportunities and the shopping on the Promenade Deck is available. There were generally lines in the one store in which I considered buying a souvenir item, and hence, I did not purchase anything.

Guest Services: A

 They were efficient even with long lines at the usual spots in the cruise. We had one small issue and they took care of it completely and without issue.

Sports Opportunities: A

  Everything is available. A running track, basketball, flow riders, and the fames zip line. I did not get to play miniature golf, although I had a club in my had at one point.

With the Grandsons on the Boardwalk
Allure of the Seas
Port Everglades
August 26, 2018
Ship Maintenance: A

  The ship appears as grand as it is and was well maintained. No areas were closed off for maintenance during the cruise. Even in the busiest places around the pools, the decks were clear and continuously maintained. 

Sailing Characteristics: A

  It is a big ship and it sails smooth. I noticed some gentle rocking only during high winds while in the dining rooms. The ship docks smoothly and I slept through the entire process at the end of the cruise in Port Everglades. 

The Crew: A

 All of the crew were fantastic. Our Cabin steward, our dining hall servers led the group, but every interaction we had with a crew member was professional and most all of them provided a time of day appropriate greeting. 

Allure of the Seas overall: A

  It is a great ship and crew. I highly recommend sailing on the ship and experiencing a BIG ship. It turns out to be much smaller than you believe. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
My Zimbio
Top Stories