Friday, January 31, 2020

Truth of the New Normal

What is the new normal? 

We as a society have discovered the new normal through the political upheaval that we have been experiencing. And also in the social paradox that we are daily confronted with. 

The new normal is that there is no normal. Everything is in play right now. Civility is gone and brutal dishonesty is the has become the closest thing to truth that we can find. I need an interpreter to understand where we are on the continuum of truth to falsehood. 

 I was astounded at the loose handling of truth and fact on both sides during the Impeachment Trial. I was appalled at the blatant misrepresentations and falsehoods being professed as fact. But, in a society where absolute truth has been eradicated, it it to be expected. Society has become the product that has been taught in schools for decades. 

There are no absolutes. Truth is evaluated through the observer's lens and is the result of viewer experience. Therefore, there is no false news--or false truths, only truth of a different perspective.

It is not serving us well. We need some absolutes to help us navigate landmines out there.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, January 30, 2020

January--and it's not over yet!

It is the 30th of January!

It feels as if 2020 just began and it is about to be 8.3 percent complete with the end of January arriving tomorrow. 

It has been a tumultuous month.

- The U.S. killed an important Iranian general

- Iran attacked U.S. bases

- The Impeachment Trial began in the Senate

- The stock market rose to all time highs making us think that the economy is doing great

- The fires in Australia were out of control and then were contained, mostly

- The coronavirus burst onto the scene eclipsing our fears of the flu and probably beginning a pandemic

- Kobe Bryant and eight other people died in a tragic helicopter crash

- Two satellites had a close encounter over Pittsburgh last evening

And the month is not over yet!

I wonder what February will bring? I hope it is more sedate.

Did you ever notice that January is generally thought of as cold and snow while February is hearts and flowers? February is the colder of the two months!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

As the Impeachment Continues

The defense rested. 

The question still on the table is do the President's actions meet the threshold for removal from office? Despite their assertions that the President did nothing wrong, questions remain. And, despite the assertions to the contrary, if the President did do something wrong do the transgressions meet the threshold for impeachment and removal from office. 

I have been fully interested in the entire proceedings and how the case has progressed. Moving into the next two days of questioning the next steps in the process are becoming clearer. 

I find that the process has been a fascinating and instructive look into the deepest workings of our government. 

Despite that the final outcome is almost assured, the journey to the completion of the impeachment is critical.

Observation: Did anyone else notice that the Chief Justice asks everyone to recite the "Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag" at the beginning of the session? It is not a pledge to the flag--it is the Pledge of Allegiance. The first line is about pledging allegiance to both the flag and the Republic for which it stands. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Illegal Dumping - Elkridge

Garbage Along US 1 in Elkridge, MD
January 26, 2020
It was incredibly terrible what Chris and I witnessed over the weekend with respect to trash dumped along the highway. In Elkridge, along U.S. 1 near Troy Hill someone piled what appeared to be a large pick-up truck load of garbage along the highway. 

We could not believe that someone had just dumped  trash along the road, but then further along the highway alongside of the on-ramp to MD 100 was another smaller pile. We heard that there were other piles as well along the road. Sadly, we could find no news reporting about the incidents. Chris and I considered whether it was a group cleaning litter form the roads, however, there was no signs that the roadways were any cleaner. 

Looking alongside the highways I noticed that the amount of litter is out of control. Of course the litter is highlighted because of the winter and the grasses are not growing to hide the trash. I cannot fathom why people believe that it is alright to throw their garbage into the environment. We are turning our region into a large garbage dump. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 27, 2020

Monday Musings - January 27, 2020

1. I an unbelievable burst of speed, the last Monday of January is upon us. The first month of this new decade will be complete in a few short days. 

2. Orioles pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in two weeks from today, February 11th. 

3. Garbage. I haven noticed a huge amount of garbage along the roads. Yesterday in Elkridge along the side of U.S. 1 someone dumped a large number of garbage bags! What is going on. What do people feel the need to make the outdoors as dirty as their homes and cars?

Jax During Basketball Game
Arundel Middle School
January 26, 2020
4. The loss of Kobe Bryant in a  a tragic helicopter crash reminds me that life is a gift and each day should be lived as if there were no tomorrow.

5. Both of the boys youth basketball teams lost yesterday during hard fought games.

6. And now, we return to the Impeachment Trial after a much needed day off.

7. History today. On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops enter Auschwitz, Poland, freeing the survivors of the network of concentration camps—and finally revealing to the world the depth of the horrors perpetrated there. Auschwitz was really a group of camps, designated I, II, and III. There were also 40 smaller “satellite” camps. It was at Auschwitz II, at Birkenau, established in October 1941, that the SS created a complex, monstrously orchestrated killing ground: 300 prison barracks; four “bathhouses” in which prisoners were gassed; corpse cellars; and cremating ovens. Thousands of prisoners were also used for medical experiments overseen and performed by the camp doctor, Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death.”


Kobe Bryant, Transformational Star of the N.B.A., Dies in Helicopter Crash - The New York Times

Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Demands for Inquiries, Bolton Book Says - The New York Times

As Coronavirus Fears Intensify, Effectiveness of Quarantines Is Questioned - The New York Times

China virus deaths rise to 80 as Hong Kong bans visitors from worst-hit province - Reuters

Turkey searches for last people missing from quake that killed at least 38 - Reuters

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

Too often character assassination has replaced debate in principle here in Washington. Destroy someone's reputation, and you don't have to talk about what he stands for.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Billy Coulter and Arch - A Concert Evening

Billy Coulter (L) and Arch (R)
Cellar Music House Concert
January 25, 2020
Last evening, Chris and I attended a house concert featuring Billy Coulter and Arch. The concert was the revival of the Cellar Music House Concert Series which had been dormant for a few years. 

It was a nice evening for a house concert as the weather was nice and did not present difficulties for driving. To make the evening even better, the music was fabulous. Billy Coulter has a nice easy rock sound with lyrics that come from the heart. He is well known in the D.C. area and has won many local awards. He related a story where one of his songs was even used in by a national news outlet. Billy and Arch make a great duo and it is clear that they have played together often and they work together as a smoothly functioning team to create enjoyable and compelling music. 

I added a short video to help visualize the venue and highlight the performers. 

Cellar Music House Concerts creates an intimate forum with close access to the artists. The room allows for good viewing and easy access. It is in the basement, or cellar, and so there are stairs. The crowd last evening was friendly and enjoyed the performance. The exchange of food and drink made the evening a perfect--good food, great drink, and fabulous music. 

What could possibly be better? 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Orator for the Ages

In this day of sound bites and speeches which are nothing more than quotable moments strung together to garner crowd reaction, it was refreshing to hear a speech delivered by an orator that carried itself without applause or comment by the audience. Adam Schiff provided a performance memorable of performances by Daniel Webster and Patrick Henry. 

Most speakers work today for the reaction and applause--they give small bites of information and play to the crowd. How difficult it must have been for Adam Schiff speak to a silent room and provide over two hours of riveting, cogent oratory. And not on just one occasion, but two moving days, both Thursday and Friday nights.
Adam Schiff
Closing Argument in Trump Impeachment Trial Day 3
January 23, 2019

But I was amazed, when I woke this morning, to find that I was not the only person so moved by the closing argument delivered in an eloquent manner. My Twitter feed was "blowing-up." 

Last night followed on to Thursday night. I felt one of the strongest statements Schiff made last evening was:

All over the world, those living under oppressive regimes look to us. They look to us because we have a rule of law. Because in America, no one is above that law. To my Senate colleagues, I implore you: Give America a fair trial. She's worth it.
-- Adam Schiff, Day 4 President Trump Impeachment Trial, January 24, 2020

And, what is wrong with a fair trial? There is always fear when things done in darkness are exposed to the light!

Follow the evidence!

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It is not about who wins or who loses--it is about preserving the Republic. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 24, 2020

Friday From the Front Page

The Impeachment Trial continues as the prosecution lays out its case in a carefully constructed manner which is frustrating the defense which has to wait another day before being able to take center stage. 

Here are some of the headlines I found associated with the impeachment proceedings:

Democrats emphasize abuse-of-power charge against Trump as GOP complains of repetition - The Washington Post

Trump, Democrats keep their distance from GOP moderates as crucial impeachment votes loom - The Washington Post

Trump trial: The case for the conviction of a president - The Times (UK)

Donald Trump ‘flagrantly’ abused power: Impeachment trial - The Hindustan Times (India)

Two days into Trump’s trial, Republicans appear unmoved but offer Democrats some praise - The Hindustan Times (India)

The House Managers’ Star Witness? Trump Himself - The New York Times

I checked Tass--the Russian News Agency, for a mention of the impeachment proceedings--it is not mentioned at all. 

Day 4 is about to begin. The prosecution will complete its case and tomorrow, yes, I am told there will be Saturday testimony, the defense begins.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The In-Between Week

I decided to take a break from writing about the Impeachment Trial and write about football.

Welcome to the in-between week. Since the NFL Pre-Season began during August, we have had a steady diet of football--until this week. This week the only game on tap is the Pro Bowl and that just does not generate a lot of interest. I may watch it because there are a lot of Ravens playing in the game who would rather be playing in the Super Bowl, but alas, the fortunes of football did not shine kindly on them during their last game of the season against the Titans. 

Next week, the Super Bowl hype will begin in earnest as the ramp-up to the big game begins. But this week--there is a void of football reporting and most sports reporting for that matter. I did read that Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

It is, however, generally quiet on the sports front and, hence, the Impeachment Trial seems to be the biggest news around. 

But to get out there and back to the Super Bowl, I am picking the Kansas City Chiefs to defeat the San Francisco 49ers and win their first Super Bowl in 50 years! And I am an ole time Chiefs fan as I was cheering for Kansas City 50 years ago when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 even though the Vikings were 13 point favorites! It was the Chief's second Super Bowl--they lost to Green Bay in the first Super Bowl which was not called the Super Bowl when they played the game. 

Super Bowl Fact: Super Bowl IV, won by the Chiefs was the last Super Bowl played between the AFL and the NFL. After that season the AFL merged into the NFL to become the NFL that we have today.

And so the in-between week continues. And now, back to the Impeachment Trial.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

As the Senate Churns

Day 1 of the Senate Impeachment Trial of the President is complete. I have to admit, I found it fascinating to watch the strategic dance being performed by the donkey and the elephant. The party lines, the rampant partisanship is so firmly entrenched in the Congress that despite rational and compelling arguments, the Senate can produce nothing other than a 53-47 vote. 

I fear for the future of our Republic if we can not overcome the partisanship that has so profoundly gripped our government. Because of the partisanship, the Senate is abrogating its responsibility to find the truth and conduct a trial. And we will hear of this later today as the President likely will trumpet from his Twitter throne that not one Republican has broken ranks!

The truth is out there--but we are afraid to find it.

The trial, it seems, is not about truth, but rather it is about having the elephant crush the donkey regardless of the cost to the country, our reputation, our integrity. 

Has the presidency become a monarchy? Is the president above the law? After Day 1, apparently so.

Day 2 is on tap--I wonder what new revelations will be uncovered today.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dryer Repair - Complete

LG Dryer with the Top and Electronics Removed
The holiday project was replacing parts on the 10-year old dryer to get the heat back up to temperature and shorten the drying cycle. 

LG Dryer
Disassembled Including the Tub
The parts replacement required the complete disassembly of the dryer. Thank goodness that there was an incredibly helpful video to get me through it. While disassembling the dryer Chris and I were amazed at the amount of spare change that we found and the amount of lint that accumulated since the dryer was placed in service. Disassembling the dryer allowed us to do a thorough cleaning which will assist in helping the air flow through the heating unit. 

The actual parts replacement was fairly straightforward after the disassembly was complete. It only took three tools to complete the entire project: Philips screwdriver, straight blade screwdriver, and needle nose pliers. The video did not indicate the needle nose pliers were required, but I needed them to help pop-in the tabs on two of the parts I was replacing.

I am calling the project a qualified success--we have not actually dried a load of clothes in it yet, but when I conducted the test run the heat was hotter that before. I feel confident that it will work properly now. If not, there are two other parts that can be replaced, but in my reading of the symptoms and suggested repair they were not indicated as the problem. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, January 20, 2020

Monday Musings - January 20, 2019

1. It is Martin Luther King Jr Day. A federal holiday. It is the third Monday of 2020. I have almost gotten used to writing 2020 as the date. I'm enjoying the day off to recover from an upper respiratory bug that has claimed my voice. 

2. Ever notice how some drivers are possessive of the lane they are in on the road? I like this image. 

3. We were supposed to get a terrible storm on Saturday. We received rain with occasional ice. I wish the weather forecasters would actually forecast the weather with more accuracy.

4. I had a very scary thing happen while driving to work the other morning. While merging onto a lack highway, the driver in the lane nicely signaled and mover over to let me merge onto the highway. But, just as I began my maneuver a speed-crazed driver dashed through the newly opened lane. Had I not checked as I was beginning my merge, it would have been a very bad day and I likely would have been involved in a very serious accident.

5. Big project for the holiday. I have repairs to do on our clothes dryer. The parts arrived on Saturday and that is how I will be spending the day off.

Lucas and Friends
Main Event, Columbia,, MD
January 18, 2020
6. Along with a couple of his friends, the family gathered to wish Lucas a happy 10th birthday on Saturday at the Main Event. It was an enjoyable afternoon of bowling, laser tag, pizza, and birthday cake. A great way to celebrate the beginning of his next decade. All of the grandsons are now in double digit ages.

7. Today in History - 1981. Iranian Hostage Crisis Ends. Minutes after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as the 40th president of the United States, the 52 U.S. captives held at the U.S. embassy in Teheran, Iran, are released, ending the 444-day Iran Hostage Crisis.
On November 4, 1979, the crisis began when militant Iranian students, outraged that the U.S. government had allowed the ousted shah of Iran to travel to New York City for medical treatment, seized the U.S. embassy in Teheran. The Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s political and religious leader, took over the hostage situation, refusing all appeals to release the hostages, even after the U.N. Security Council demanded an end to the crisis in an unanimous vote. However, two weeks after the storming of the embassy, the Ayatollah began to release all non-U.S. captives, and all female and minority Americans, citing these groups as among the people oppressed by the government of the United States. The remaining 52 captives remained at the mercy of the Ayatollah for the next 14 months.


The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It - The New York Times

Harry and Meghan’s Hard Exit - The New York Times

Massacred at Home, in Misery Abroad, 730,000 Rohingya Are Mired in Hopelessness - The New York Times

China confirms 139 new cases of pneumonia over weekend, virus spreads to new cities - Reuters

SpaceX says 'picture perfect' test paves way for human mission  - Reuters

China trade deal was pitched as a boon for the working class, but Trump celebrated with Wall Street titans - The Washington Post

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

Today, America does remember Dr. King as a drum major for justice, as a giant whose life was far from being in vain. In a sermon on the eve of his assassination, he surely described his own mission when he asked, ``Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and say, `Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.''' Martin Luther King, Jr., did exactly that. He gave eloquent voice and powerful leadership to the long-cherished hopes of millions as he headed a crusade to end bigotry, segregation, and discrimination in our land; to foster equal opportunity; and to make universal America's promise of liberty and justice for all.

  Proclamation 5927 -- Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, 1989, December 23, 1988

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Dangerous Times in Virginia

Welcome to the holiday weekend where we take time to reflect upon and to celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. and his call for equality under the law. 

How I wish we, as a society, could get to a place where equality and justice were fully realized by all people living in our country. But, it seems that every day new obstacles appear in the path to true equality and "justice for all."

The gun rally in Richmond is but one example. 

Thousands expected to head to Richmond for gun rights rally on Monday

I am good with the gun rights rally, everyone, under the Constitution, has the right of free speech and the right to rally for what they believe. The concern that 2nd Amendment Rights are being abridged in Virginia is very real and requires rational people to discuss and determine a way forward. But what concerns me are the arrests during the week of the White Supremacists heading for this particular rally which resulted in the Governor restricting the rights of the people attending the rally to hopefully ensure the safety of those rallying.

The whole idea of militias among us, as described in the news item, concerns me because invariably these militias are not dedicated to preserving the fullness of the Constitution, but rather devoted to depriving someone of their rights under the Constitution.

We live in tumultuous times. We must keep our eyes wide open to the events occurring around us and consider the implications of the actions and reactions to those who are professing a splinter ideologies which will impact our rights, our freedoms, and life in America. 

At the close of the I Have a Dream speech, Martin Luther King Jr. gave us his vision for America as a land of equality and freedom.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children (Yes, Yeah) will be able to sing with new meaning: “My country, ‘tis of thee (Yeah, Yes), sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. (Oh yes) Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride (Yeah), from every mountainside, let freedom ring!” (Yeah)
And if America is to be a great nation (Yes), this must become true. So let freedom ring (Yes, Amen) from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. (Uh-huh) Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. (Yes, all right) Let freedom ring (Yes) from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. (Well) Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. (Yes) But not only that: (No) Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. [cheering] (Yeah, Oh yes, Lord) Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. (Yes) Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. (Yes) From every mountainside (Yeah) [sustained applause], let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” 

-- Martin Luther King Jr, I Have a Dream Speech, August 28, 1963, Washington, DC

How could this be a bad thing?

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday before the Senate Trial

This three-day holiday weekend is the calm before the constitutional storm. 

Next week the third impeachment trial in the history of these United States will convene. 

What I observe:

1. I am tired of people using the phrase that something related to the impeachment has never happened before in the history of the U.S. The fact is that an impeachment trial has only happened twice in our history; hence, there really is no historical precedent upon which to base what is normal. The entire proceeding is not normal. 

2. What the founding fathers thought, said, or meant as they wrote the Constitution is difficult to interpret and apparently there are few immutable truths. I have heard opinions on issues being interpreted to support whatever partisan politics demands.

3. While designed to get to the bedrock truths, I doubt that such a truth is available. We will all be left with a bad taste in our mouths when everything is concluded, although the subject is not nearly so distasteful as the Clinton impeachment. Bottom line is that there are no winners and we are all losers in some manner. 

4. The impeachment is an historic event. Every American should watch the proceedings and resolve to determine for themselves, based upon an examination of the evidence and the explanations of the constitution, their opinion about the impeachment. 

Finally, I implore everyone to remain calm and somewhat detached and unemotional. We need to be civilized and able to discuss what we see and believe without feeling the necessity to forcibly change another person's opinion. Apparently, there is no right or wrong answer because there is no absolute truth. Everything is relative.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, January 17, 2020

Interesting Turn of Events

Yesterday was an historic and tragically sad day for our Republic. Articles of Impeachment were delivered to the Senate to begin the next chapter in a saga that has been distracting our lawmakers for the past several months. The delivery of the articles begins, hopefully, the final chapter in the process.

It should be an interesting event next week as the Senate meets for only the third time in history to determine whether to convict and remove a President from office. Of course given the partisan nature of the Congress, the outcome is likely assured, however, the case and the evidence to support the charges is the most interesting and fascinating part of this exercise. 

I have also been interested in seeing how some members of the Senate have changed since the last impeachment. It seems they have short memories because some of what they are saying now to defend their position is polar opposite to the arguments used in the Clinton impeachment proceedings. 

The bombshell yesterday was the finding by the GAO that yes, the President did break the law. All along the Republicans have been saying that this impeachment is the first in history, of course there were only two others so there isn't a lot of precedent, where the president was not charged with a crime. Although everyone quickly dismissed the GAO finding of yesterday, that statement may no longer be true. 

Here is the headline from the New York Times:

G.A.O. Report Says Trump Administration Broke Law in Withholding Ukraine Aid

Well, that is potentially a game changer, no, wait--it is being discarded as irrelevant because it is convenient to do so. 

And so the Congress lurches on! 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wake Up To Politics

The arrival of 2020 brings with it the recognition that we will be electing a President this year. The campaigns have been underway for quite some time on both sides and I am already tiring of the constant assault upon my intelligence. The recent spat between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren was really beneath everyone. 

There is a small, independent political reporter that I discovered a few years ago. He is Gabe Fleisher,  a 17-year old high school student from Missouri, and writes a newsletter titled, Wake Up To Politics. The newsletter is posted nearly every day when he is in school. I find his reporting to be refreshing and non-partisan. Truly. He has been writing this newsletter for a few years and he was credentialed as a news reporter for Tuesday night's debate in Iowa. His reporting provides some interesting insights on the debate as seen through the eyes of a young person. 

I am growing weary of the professional media with their slanted inputs designed to sell biased-opinions as news and so I find his insights and reporting to be fresh and mostly un-biased. We can all identify the left-leaning and right-leaning news networks and so it is nice to find someone mostly reporting news without a political axe to grind. 

The All Sides Media Bias Center ranks Wake Up to Politics as being in the center. 

I enjoyed one of Gabe's observations of Tuesday's debate:

For the first time in the cycle, discussions of foreign policy took center stage on Tuesday, as the candidates discussed their views on war powers amid President Donald Trump's killing of a top Iranian commander earlier this month. 

I found that comment very interesting.

Personal bias: I consider foreign policy to be a critical issue and that is one of the issues upon which I will base my vote. 

I recommend checking out Wake Up To Politics off yourself. It is political news without the bias.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Most Productive Day of the Week

Going to work during darkness and coming home with the sun setting is getting old! As the winter deepens, my longing for sunshine is increasing. The gray skies of the past couple of days is definitely not helping the situation. I needed something to bring some excitement into the dark and bleary days. 

A coworker told me as I walked into work yesterday that Tuesday was the most productive day of the workweek. I wonder if that is true, but it seemed to be the case yesterday. I did find this article form 2014 which seems confirm that Tuesday is the most productive day of the week. Who knew? 

I enjoyed the article because I have always felt similarly about Tuesday. It is the lost day in between Monday and Wednesday. Now its true character comes out. 

There discussion of Tuesday leads me to theorize that Friday is the least productive day of the week. 

Time will, of course, tell.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, M
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