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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

United Way leading the way in supporting HoCo human service agencies

      Often what is important in our County flies under the radar.  I wanted to highlight one of those areas with the awarding of $450,000 in grant funds last week to human service agencies in Howard County.  United Way funding is targeted to agencies serving some of the most vulnerable residents of Howard County.  Agencies such as Grassroots, Community Action Council, Bridges to Housing Stability and Making Change are supported by United Way grants.
      One program highlighted in this round of funding is the grant to Family and Children's Services to continue to work with family at risk of being homeless.  While we live in an affluent County it is important to recognize that the cost of living in Howard County makes it difficult for many low wage workers to live in Howard County.  This program works to support and link a number of Howard County families with County resources to stabilize their housing situation.  This and other United Way programs help make Howard County a good place to live for many families.
    If you would like to contribute to United Way's efforts to help Howard County families click on this link.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Where have all the bees and butterflies gone??

     We have noticed something strange the past two years with our garden.  Our squash plants flower but we haven't gotten any squash.  Last year we thought maybe the ground was wearing out but this year we fertilized and put in some new top soil.  But again no squash.  The mystery deepens.
     While photographing the blue butterfly above I realize that I have not seen a Monarch butterfly in a couple of years.  I used to see them all the time in our yard and garden.  Could our problem be with the loss of bees and butterflies to cross pollinate our plants?  Doing some research I found this article in the Washington Post of the decline of the Monarch population.
     Probably even more important is the bee population decline.  Seventy-five percent of our nuts, fruits and vegetables are pollinated by bees.  If the bees disappear we will only be left with self pollinating foods like corn.  The loss of crops that need the bees would lead to world famine in a way we have never seen.
     While there is controversy about what is causing the decline of the butterflies and bees the leading indicators point to pesticides. One pesticide class in particular has been suspected of being a cause and they are neonicotimoids.  The interaction of pesticides to control insects destructive to crops  and their negative impact on insects that pollinate our crops is one of those trade offs that frequently is recognized only after the destruction reaches a point of no return.  Let's hope this doesn't happen with butterflies and bees.


   Call it a coincidence but after writing yesterday's blog I walked outside and saw this Monarch butterfly.  First one in a couple of years.


Monday, July 27, 2015

How birth year influenced your politics


      We all make assumptions about voting patterns based on the age of voters.  We assume younger voters are more likely to vote Democrat and older voters more likely to vote Republican.  These patterns don't necessarily hold when you breakdown the age cohorts more precisely.  Baby Boomers are still more likely to vote Democrat even though they are becoming senior citizens and  those born from 1960 to the late 1970's are more likely to vote Republican.  Check out this reality at this link.
You can slide the bar to any specific birth year to see how voters born in your year have been voting.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Baldwin Station

      Somehow having a daughter move to Sykesville in the past year has caused me to go by the Baldwin Station restaurant regularly now.  The old train station has been turned into an upscale restaurant by Stuart Deary.  I used to work with Stuart many years ago when he did home repairs for senior citizens.  It is strange to see how the young man with the long hair in a pony tail has aged into an older distinguished looking business person.
     So seeing a Groupon sale for Baldwin Station recently I decided it was worth another visit.  This is a restaurant that it is easy to drop $100 for dinner for two with no drinks.
     Started off with the stuffed figs for an appetizer but found the goat cheese overwhelming the sweetness of the figs.  Wouldn't recommend.

     I had the Fettuccine Del Mar like what is pictured above.  This is a dish with seafood in a pomodoro red sauce.  Good but the sauce was a little too sweet.

     My dining partner had a citrus and ginger grilled Mahi Mahi like what is pictured above that was very good and I would recommend.
     My recommendation is to call the restaurant and find out when they have short ribs.  They are GREAT!

   Having the creme brulee for dessert was a great way to top off the meal.

Melanie Safka performed this song "Look what they've done to my song" at Woodstock back in 1969 and has a new update version with Miley Cyrus that is pretty good