Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday Musings - August 31, 2020

1. Today is the last Monday and the last day of August 2020. Say good-bye to the Summer of COVID! I was up early yesterday and saw the constellation Orion rising in the east. Another sure sign that summer is ending.

2. Mantis update. Pete, our guard mantis, has departed. We miss having him there in the fern protecting the front door from bugs.

Moon from Behind a Cloud
Elkridge, MD
August 29, 2020
3. I took an image of the moon that made it look like the sun coming from behind a cloud the other night. It was in reality very dark. 

4. Autumn begins on September 22nd. 

Ikea Line
College Park, MD
August 30, 2020

5. Chris and I went to Ikea yesterday morning. We were amazed at the line to get in. Wow. We cycled through for over 20 minutes to get one item. Everyone was masked and practicing good physical distancing! Of course, we came out with more than we went for, but we had to make the entrance delay worth the wait.

6.  The Orioles have slipped significantly in the standings. They are now 14-19,  .424.  I am disappointed that they have fallen so far. They have not been playing very well as of late. Well, it is almost September and time for the season ending spiral into the bottom position of the division.

7. Next Monday is Labor Day. 

8. The political name calling has to stop, it clouds the the issues. Wait, that is what is wanted because the actual numbers and facts are pretty depressing.

9. Today in History. Shortly after midnight on August 31, 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales—affectionately known as "the People’s Princess"—dies in a car crash in Paris. She was 36. Her boyfriend, the Egyptian-born socialite Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the car, Henri Paul, died as well. Princess Diana was one of the most popular public figures in the world. Her death was met with a massive outpouring of grief. Mourners began visiting Kensington Palace immediately, leaving bouquets at the home where the princess, also known as Lady Di, would never return. Piles of flowers reached some 30 feet from the palace's gate.

United Airlines Ends Change Fees for Most Domestic Flights - The Wall Street Journal

Iran Scales Back Religious Festival, but Some Rush to Holiday Destinations - The Wall Street Journal

Breonna Taylor’s Life Was Changing. Then the Police Came to Her Door - The New York Times

Big Oil Is in Trouble. Its Plan: Flood Africa With Plastic. - The New York Times

As confrontations between armed groups and protesters turn deadly, police face complaints of tolerating vigilantes - The Washington Post

Senior officials won’t brief Congress in person on election threats - The Washington Post

U.S. coronavirus cases top six million as Midwest, schools face outbreaks - Reuters

Protesters crowd Minsk as Belarus leader gets birthday call from Putin - Reuters

U.S. Records Smallest Daily Increase in Coronavirus Cases in a Week - The Wall Street Journal

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week. 

"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness."

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Search for truth

Found this on Facebook without attribution
Note: RNC is Republican National Convention
I am weary of hearing the current administration label opposing opinions and facts (and I mean verifiable facts) as false news that it makes my head hurt. Especially since the biggest source of false news, untruths, and warped facts come from the White House itself. 

Have you noticed that the Republicans are not asking people whether they are better off now than four years ago? Because we are not.

I read an insightful article in The Washington Post titled Nearly every claim Trump made about Biden's positions was false

The article begins as follows:

President Trump isn’t running against Joe Biden, not really. The former vice president may occupy the Democratic Party line on the presidential ballot, but it isn’t Biden that Trump’s rhetoric describes.
Trump is instead running against a straw man whom he describes as a Trojan horse for socialists and communists. Trump is running against someone who holds positions that aren’t held by Biden himself — and if Trump convinces enough Americans that Biden and that straw man are one and the same, he might just win more votes.

It is the same thing that I have seen from this president since he has been in office: if you do not like a situation then invent or create an alternate reality and sell that to the American people. How has worked for the 183,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19? 

The noise and confusion are designed to obscure the truth: "and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

Too many Americans, I fear, do not search for truth and fact amid the noise and deception. It takes work.

I urge reading The Washington Post article as a place to begin sorting fact from lie and discovering the truths associated with the Democratic Presidential nominee. Recounting the falsehoods here would just serve to lend them credence through repetition--and that is a strategy, speak the untruths enough times and they become fact in peoples minds because they have heard them somewhere before. 

Search for truth--it will make you free.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Leaves on the Drive

Leaves on the Drive
Elkridge, MD
August 27, 2020
It is Summer!

August is the month of record for another two days. 

According to the calendar, Summer has 24 more days and does not relinquish its grip until September 22. 

Autumn, however, is arriving early. Yesterday I had to blow the leaves from the drive. These are leaves which are prematurely falling from the trees. The leaves are also filling the pool. 

Fortunately, the temperatures are more summer-like, in the 90s and I have been enjoying the refreshing feeling of diving into my pool, but I can see the advent of the Autumn. It is coming too soon. I feel as if we have lost the summer due to coronavirus. There was no week-long vacation, or trip to Florida. No cruise to some Caribbean island. Only one trip to New York! 

And the leaves continue to fall.

The remnants of Hurricane Laura are passing through the region today and there will be rain and thunderstorms--and more leaves to clear. Our encounter with the hurricane will be far less dramatic than the people of Louisiana and the south. We all need to pray for the people there and send assistance. The devastation is incredible and unfathomable. 

Enjoy the last three weeks of the Summer of COVID.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, August 28, 2020

Truth will set you free

I use The Washington Post fact checker to gain perspective on the political speeches that I hear or read. I believe that it is important to try to find the truth amid the rhetoric. 

In terms of being loose with truth and facts, one person that intrigues me is Vice President Pence. He professes to be a very conservative Christian, by his own admission, with a very fundamentalist point of view. But, I cannot help but wonder as I listen to him.

His speech on the third night of the Republican National Convention, however, was riddled with untruths. I expected more of him. The Washington Post recorded seven false claims. 

One untruth that is particularly egregious is the following:

Pence made the following statement:

“When asked whether he’d [Biden] support cutting funding to law enforcement, Joe Biden replied, ‘Yes, absolutely.’”
— Pence
The Trump campaign is determined to spread the fiction that Biden supports “defunding police.” But that is simply false, according to Biden, his campaign and a review of his remarks. Pence is misquoting Biden, just as President Trump’s millions of dollars of campaign ads on the issue (which have earned Four Pinocchios) misquote him.

I found this video that makes me wonder about the vice president and what he truly believes. 

By the way, I know that some people believe that lying and untruth is expected of politicians, but comparing the third night of the Democratic Convention with the third night of the Republican Convention is insightful. The Democrats made 2 statements worthy of fact check note compared to 20 by the Republicans. Pence himself made 7 of the false claims. 

And yet, it is the Republicans who accuse the news media of Fake News. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Projects, Why?

This is a bit of a rant about home projects and how they never seem to go as planned.

The New Guest Bathroom
Elkridge, MD
August 26, 2020
Yesterday, I made 3 trips to Lowe's for supplies to complete the bathroom project that I started on Monday. And they were all trips for one or two items. This is after going to two separate Lowe's to get the sink, faucet, paint, and mirror. Thankfully, we are blessed with multiple Lowe's in the region.

It started out as a simple project--replace the outdated pedestal sink. Oh and paint the room while everything was out of the bathroom.  And replace the shower curtain and rod. And replace the towel rack. And replace the mirror above the sink. And . . . fortunately the toilet was deemed to be acceptable. In the image, the miser is not yet installed, that is part of this afternoon's work along with a towel rack.

It was the "Ands" that made the project tough. Something seemingly simple became complex and without a PERT chart to guide me, the project devolved into anarchy. That the bathroom is large enough for only one person to work comfortably did not make the situation any better.

The delay last evening was plumbing related. Somehow the parts I needed to finish the drain on the new sink got confused with trash and yesterday was garbage day so there was no way to even dig through the trash to find the missing parts. Although, I did dig through the refuse anyway holding out a narrow hope. That was my third trip to Lowe's at 8 PM--to get the parts necessary to complete the drain. 

A project that should have taken not more than about 2 days is now heading into day 4!

Projects! Something to keep busy. Too busy.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Mantis at the Door - Update

Pete the Mantis
Elkridge, Md
August 24, 2020
The mantis I wrote about a few days ago remains guarding our front door from unwanted bugs. It is fun to watch the mantis as it progresses through the day and night. The other evening it was perched atop the handle of the wagon in which we keep the fern it is residing. 

Pete on a Handle
Elkridge, MD
August 24, 2020
In my original blog, I had a problem with consistency over the name we had given to the mantis. And, now, I can report that we have changed what we call the mantis--it is now Pete. It was too hard to call it Donald--it just does not roll off the tongue. 

Looking for Pete is something we now do every time we pass through the door. In looking for Pete the other day we found its most recent exoskeleton from molting. 

It is the small things that make life interesting.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Baseball Resumes

Jax Pitching for Severn
Severn, MD
August 24, 2020
Last evening I attended my first youth baseball game of the year! It was an event that was supposed to have happened during March, but which was delayed due to coronavirus. 
Jax Finishing a Pitch
Severn, MD
August 24, 2020

Much has changed since March. I am no longer coaching and Jax has moved to a 13U Team and is now playing for Severn, in a red uniform. The game last evening was a scrimmage and Jax had a good night. The 90 foot bases and longer distance to the mound really changed things. It slows the running game down a lot. 

It felt strange to be watching the game from off the field rather than participating in the game from the dugout and third base. But, that is what the game is about growing up and playing at higher levels. 

Last evening's game caused me to think back to the winter workouts that our team had getting ready for a Spring season that was canceled due to coronavirus. So many lost innings. It hurt the development of all of the players not to have the season and I could see it in some of the players last night. 

The game had some drama last night. There was an infield fly that resulted in two outs with a runner caught stealing. There were a few dropped and misplayed balls, unfortunately during the inning that Jax pitched, which resulted in the game being lost although there were no earned runs scored. 

It was good to be out under the lights watching live baseball. If only they could do something about the bugs! But that is a story for another time.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Monday, August 24, 2020

Monday Musings - August 24, 2020

1. It is the fourth of five Mondays in August. August is dissolving into September sooner than I would like, but at least the temperatures generally remain summer-like. There are 71 days until Election Day.

2. The Orioles broke a six game losing streak with two tough wins over the Red Sox this weekend. They have crawled back to a 14-14, .500 record and are tied for 8th place in the American League!

Blue Heron
Columbia, MD
August 23, 2020
3. Chris and I went for a nice walk yesterday and saw this Blue Heron fishing in a stream. We enjoy seeing the wildlife as we walk. 

4. The name calling has to stop! I remember hearing that in Kindergarten. 
Buildings Across the Lake
Columbia, MD
August 23, 2020

5. Sometimes I take an image not because the scene is particularly pretty or interesting, but because my eye sees something that intrigues me. Like yesterday, for instance, when I snapped this image of the buildings in Columbia across Lake Kittamaqundi. I liked the reflections in the lake. Don't miss the duck in the lower left. 

6. Why do some leaders want to take credit for other people's work? 

7. The people of Belarus are protesting against a dictatorship-like government and the U.S. is nowhere to be seen. Why?

8. Let me get this straight--wearing MAGA hats at a factory is a more important issue than the lives of 170,000 Americans! If America isn't already great after four years, maybe it is time for a do-over.

9. I do not have the complete details, but the video of police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting an unarmed black man seven times as he's getting into a car is a very bad optic. Did I mention some of his children were in the car at the time and witnessed the shooting. Don't the police officers have any concept of what is happening right now in this country?

10. Today in History. In 79 AD, on August 24, after centuries of dormancy, Mount Vesuvius erupts in southern Italy, devastating the prosperous Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing thousands. The cities, buried under a thick layer of volcanic material and mud, were never rebuilt and largely forgotten in the course of history. In the 18th century, Pompeii and Herculaneum were rediscovered and excavated, providing an unprecedented archaeological record of the everyday life of an ancient civilization, startlingly preserved in sudden death.

F.D.A. Allows Expanded Use of Plasma to Treat Coronavirus Patients - The New York Times

Florida and Texas have joined California in topping 600,000 cases. Here’s the latest. - The New York Times

Government Debt Soars to World War II Levels - The Wall Street Journal

Even With a Strong Crop This Year, U.S. Farmers Are Suffering - The Wall Street Journal

 U.S. Existing-Home Sales Rose Nearly 25% in July - The Wall Street Journal

Trump obliterates lines between governing and campaigning in service of his reelection - The Washington Post

Hurricane warnings issued as Gulf Coast prepares for Marco and Laura - The Washington Post

Belarusian protesters, defying army, flood Minsk - Reuters

China reports 16 new COVID-19 cases, eighth day without local infections - Reuters

Ronald Reagan Quote for the Week

Politics is just like show business. You have a hell of an opening, coast for a while, and then have a hell of a close.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, August 23, 2020

What are you looking for in a President?

The Republican convention kicks off this week and I will be watching, just as I watched much of the Democratic convention last week. 

It is critically important to see and listen to all points of view despite, as many of you know or suspect, that I have fairly well decided on how I will be voting in November. 

So what are you looking for in a President? 

Some people are looking for programs and policies. I heard discussions from the Democratic Convention last week that they were very light on policy and on the details of how they were going to implement their plans. I find that conventions and politicians are usually that way and, frankly, in the overall picture the policy plans usually ignore the biggest part of the policy process--the Congress. Without bipartisanship and working with the Congress little of lasting value gets passed. 

We could go through all of the non-implemented campaign policy promises of past presidents--and there are many. Being the President is very different for campaigning for president. 

So what am I looking for in a President? 

Well here goes, and this is not an exhaustive list although it may seem like it by the time you get to the end.

- Humility
- Recognizing and understanding their place in time and history
- Servant-oriented mindset 
- Compassion
- Leadership
- Respect for the Office of The President
- Respect for and understanding of The Constitution
- Respect for and understanding the role of The Congress
- Respect for and understanding the role of The Supreme Court
- Ability to take advice
- Belief that they will select good people for cabinet positions and then let them do their jobs
- Respect for all Americans
- Proper focus on both foreign and domestic policy
- Vision for the Country and the future
- Ability to communicate
- Manage and lead in a crisis
- Mobilize Americans to work towards a common goal
- Ability to unify rather than divide
- Bipartisanship (work across the aisle)

A person will lead based upon their character and what they believe. I, frankly, am tired of hearing the personal pronoun "I" so much when it should be "we." 

The Constitution begins "We the people . . . " and a President must never forget that they are the leader of the "we."

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Mantis at the Door

Donald the Mantis (Taken in the Evening)
Elkridge, MD
August 20, 2020
We have a new member of the family. It has taken residence just outside the front door in the fern. 

Well, calling it a member of the family may be a stretch, but we look for it every time we pass the fern which sits right outside of the door. It is a mantis--I believe it to be a European Mantis, one of the four types of mantis indigenous to the area, but it is hard to truly identify the variety so it is more of a guess rather than a definitive identification. I also believe, because of its slender profile, that it is a male, but I have not picked it up to count the segments on its underside. Males often meet with a tragic demise after mating, so I hope that he is one of the lucky ones.

Mantis Believed to be Donald
Elkridge, MD
July 28, 2020
Chris and I have become very adept at finding him and we have named him Donald, in the fern. It actually is pretty easy because his body is the only straight object in the plant and he is usually near the top right under one of the fonds. 

I first saw the mantis that I believe to be Donald, on July 28th. It was in the corner of the porch right above the fern where it has apparently taken residence. Chris and I have watched its color change overtime as it adapted to its new home. For the most part, the mantis does not mind our occasional visits although last evening as Chris, Patrick, and I stood on the porch near the fern talking for a bit after identifying George's location, it did become a bit agitated. But, it did not change its location before we said good-bye and moved away. 

The really good part is that we know we do not need to use any insecticide, the mantis will eat all of the bugs.

I actually enjoy knowing that Donald is on guard at the front door. I guess it is a guard mantis!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, August 21, 2020

And hope and history rhyme

The platform is formed and the final sprint to November 3, Election Day, will begin by the end of next week when the Republicans complete their convention and reaffirm their candidates. 

The Democratic ticket is set and Joe Biden is the nominee for President. With his Vice Presidential running mate, Kamala Harris, the two-and-a-half month run to Election Day is ready to finally begin. We can finally dispense of that nasty word presumptive.

The battle for the soul of America is underway and the from my position the future direction of America could not be more at stake. I think it is clear to almost every American that there are two different directions for America. In most recent elections, the different directions were more akin to a fork in the road and whether we veered left or right the consequences were similar because the direction was generally consistent. 

Not so this year. The choices are between continuing on as the laughing stock of the world untrusted by allies and disregarded by foes, or a making a hard and sudden turn to restore decency, stability, consistency, and compassion.

History says, Don't hope

On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

But, I will let a 13 year old boy describe tell his story about one of the candidates, in case you did not see the convention last night.

Out of the mouths of children.

Regardless of your political leanings and desires--Vote! It is your solemn duty as an American!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Corrupt on Power

Reading through the New York Times a week ago, I came upon an article that helped me come to grips with a conundrum: Why do Evangelical Christians support an immoral president? And I mean immoral by the broadest of standards. The article was in the New York Times and the link to it is below. 

Christianity Will Have Power (The New York Times, August 9, 2020)

I came to the realization that Evangelical Christians have traded truth for power. Imposing their will upon others does not bring people to salvation, in fact it may be one of the biggest deterrents driving them away from grace.  It is hard to motivate people through fear, intolerance and hypocrisy. 

Encouraging people to come to Christ on their own is the essence of being a Christ follower. 

Why is such a flawed leader revered by Evangelical  Christians? Trump's words from a rally held at a small Christian college in Sioux Center, Iowa, during January 2016 provide an important clue. 

“Christianity will have power,” he said. “If I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power, you don’t need anybody else. You’re going to have somebody representing you very, very well. Remember that.” (Christianity Will Have Power, New York Times)

Because of the promise of power to impose their will upon America, a segment of Christians support a man who is not worthy of their respect and support. From his actions, it is clear that his beliefs are incongruent with those of Evangelical Christians. He supports salvation through works, advocates the use of force against Americans, uses lies and deception to advance his personal goals at the expense of his followers, and engages in self-adulation on a scale not seen before in the White House. Most importantly, he is ignorant of what Jesus taught. 

Jesus said,

3 “Blessed are the poor in spiritfor the kingdom of heaven belongs to them
4 Blessed are those who mournfor they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meekfor they will inherit the earth
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousnessfor they will be satisfied
7 Blessed are the mercifulfor they will be shown mercy
8 Blessed are the pure in heartfor they will see God
9 Blessed are the peacemakersfor they will be called the children of God
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousnessfor the kingdom of heaven belongs to them

11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heavenfor they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.
Matthew 5:3-12, NET Bible
Trump, the man, does not respect these attributes. He mocks those who mourn. He cannot tell or even recognize the truth. He incites unrest and division rather than compassion and peace. He is using Evangelical Christians as a tool in his personal pursuit of power, riches, fame, and fortune. It saddens me.

In a more recent January 2020 rally, as documented in The Guardian article, Evangelicals see Trump as a way to get what they want after decades of defeat, the assessment of Trump's allure was summed up as follows:

Not once was Trump’s own religious faith mentioned, though he was mentioned as a champion for the religious right through his policy victories. That was a phenomenon that seemed to sum up Trump’s strange relationship with evangelicals: he has returned their support with policy victories for them. In turn they often seem to turn a blind eye to his scandal-ridden presidency, accusations of rape, sexual assault and harassment, three marriages and paying off a pornography actor whom claims she had an affair with him.

The promise of power has blinded the believers. 

16 So because you are lukewarmand neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth17 Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealthand need nothing,” but do not realize that you are wretchedpitifulpoorblindand naked18 take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposedand buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see! (Revelations 3:16-18, NET Bible)

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. (Lord Action)

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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