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Friday, October 31, 2014

Howard County Library to host Hi Tech Symposium

With the opening of the Hi Tech Center in the new Savage Library we have a resource for showing all the exciting opportunities in the STEM area.  On Monday the Library is presenting a symposium on activities that middle school and high school students can learn about.  Here is the info from the Library:
"Join us for a dynamic HiTech Symposium, featuring STEM industry thought leaders and hands-on classes. Panel discussions feature representatives from Mindgrub Technologies, Hopkins' Applied Physics Lab, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Howard County Public School System, and LifeJourney. Topics include:

STEM: Past, Present, and Future
STEM Resume Building and LifeJourney

Learn how your middle and high school students can participate in this STEM education initiative that teaches cutting-edge science, technology, engineering, and math via project-based classes that include computer programming, 3D animation, nanotechnology, music/video production, e-books, game apps, cybersecurity, green energy, and robotics.

Monday, November 3
2 - 5 pm
HCLS Savage Branch & STEM Education Center

Details and Registration:
Call 410.313.7750

HiTech is funded in part through a federal grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and IMLS.
Sponsors include Friends of Howard County Library, Frank and Yolanda Bruno, and M&T Bank."

     Why I am proud to live in Maryland!

Lake Elkhorn yesterday


Thursday, October 30, 2014

4 ways for Maryland to increase voting options


   Yesterday I took advantage of our early voting option for the first time.  I have never found voting on election day to be one of long waits as I usually voted mid afternoon.  I decided to see how the early voting process worked.  I had no wait to vote and was in and out in 10 minutes.

    We are fortunately living in a state that hasn't tried to make voting more difficult like some other states recently.  Restricting the voting process seems to me to be a sign of a desperate political party in decline.
    Even with our state's accessible voting system we are still behind other states in providing convenient voting options.  Here are just some examples of what other states provide.

1) Vote by mail- In Oregon every registered voter is sent a ballot that can be returned by mail.  This system was set up by a state initiative approved in 1998.  In presidential elections around 80% of registered voters returned their ballots which is the highest percentage of registered voters voting of any state.  The mailing costs of this system are outweighed by the costs of setting up voting sites.

2) High school and college voter registration- The most underrepresented group of potential voters are young persons who can vote for the first time.  I have to admit that I was 26 the first time I voted.  Making the voter registration process convenient  to where young people are would at least encourage them to register to vote.

3) Same day registration- This might be seen as the option that procrastinators or "lazy" voters may use but this convenience is used for many other systems we interact with every day.  The same day registrants must show proof of residency to register this way.  Some state allow a provisional ballot for those who don't have the proof on the voting day but can show the proof before the time of counting the absentee votes are counted.

4) Voting online-  Do you know that some voters are allowed to vote online?  Military voters stationed out of state or overseas have this option in some states.  It may be only a matter of time until this system is developed for a general non-military population.  There are a number of issues that would have to be worked out for an online voting system but many of the daily tasks we perform (i.e. banking and shopping) have developed the secure systems to move much of their business online.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

8 things I will never understand about our culture

    A few weeks ago a fellow blogger (Claire MCGill, aka ukdesperatehousewife) blogged about customs in the United States that the English can't understand.  This got me thinking that as someone born in the United States there are great many cultural things about the US that I DON"T UNDERSTAND!  I have always tried to look at others habits and beliefs with the "different strokes for different folks" mentality.  Anyway, I started to make a list of the things I don't understand and thought is might take a couple weeks to come up with  a list.  It only took a little over one day.  Here is the list I came up with.

Shrines at the scene of fatal accidents

   I understand wanting to have a way to memorialize family and friends who have died in a traffic accident but having to drive by the scene regularly and be reminded of the tragedy seems to only prolong the grief.  Wouldn't there be a more positive way to remember and memorialize the person's memory?

Decals representing family makeup

    I put this trend in the same category as the "baby on board" signs.  Cute family but what's the point of doing this??

Calvin and Hobbes peeing decals

   OK I can take the cute family decals as being friendly but I seriously question anyone stupid enough to have one of these Calvin and Hobbes "peeing on something characters."  These seem to be a way to say you hate some sports team or someone else's choice in trucks.  Of course this says something about the crudeness of the people with these decals.


    I know I like some gross looking foods like oysters but I can't image how you develop a taste for a food product made of animal scraps and cornmeal.  At least they put food coloring and spices in hot dogs to cover up the taste and appearance of what you are eating.  With scrapple that seems to be unnecessary.

Hummer drivers 

   Where do I begin with understanding Hummer drivers?  It is just too easy to assume these drivers are overcompensating for some major ego deficiency.   Wouldn't seeing a shrink be more productive in addressing their deficiency?  And better for our environment.

The love of guns

   I know that I am touching a sensitive subject with this one.  I put this one right after the Hummer one as I think they have the same origin.  I have to say that I grew up in rural Pennsylvania where every boy became initiated into manhood at the age of 12 when you could go hunting with your father.  I remember the thrill of seeing a deer in the woods and taking a shot.  But after a couple of unsuccessful hunts I began to realize that hunting didn't make any sense for me as I developed other less brutal interests and saw guns in a different light.  I am someone who now believes that we would be a much, much better country without any guns.   I know that we would have another Civil War if you tried to move in that direction and join the rest of the civilized world.

High heels

Putting body fat in your lips
   I hate to pick on women because usually they are much more civilized then men in their life choices and habits (see above about Hummers and guns).  I know that the fashions and things women do to "supposedly" improve their appearance are done mainly for men but destroying your foot arches and swelling your lips seem to be going to extremes.  Maybe I am not the norm in men but I would admire a woman more who wore comfortable shoes and didn't feel the need readjust their body's fat content.
   OK that is my list.  Did I miss any?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

United Way Harvest of Plenty for Thanksgiving


     With the upcoming holiday season many of us look at how we can give back to our community and to those less fortunate.  The past few years the United Way of Central Maryland has been providing Thanksgiving dinner to many families here in Howard County.  You can contribute easy to this effort as I did recently.  A $15 dollar donate provides a dinner for a family of four.
     This Thanksgiving effort is just one part of the year long effort by United Way of Central Maryland to meet the food and nutrition needs of people in our area.  Their support of the Maryland Food Bank and the Community Action Food Bank in Howard County provide thousands of meals every year.
     To make a donation to the Harvest of Plenty link here.

    The Columbia Patch had this information on a launch tonight the will be visible in Columbia at about 6:33 p.m. tonight looking South South East in the sky.  The launch is from the Wallops Island launch site on the Eastern Shore.  Pick a viewing site with a clear view of the horizon.


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Village in Howard begins

    This Saturday November 1st is the open house on the Village in Howard.  No it isn't the newest 55+ housing or a retirement community.  In fact it isn't a place but a concept of supportive social network for Howard County residents over the age of 55.  The growing older population is something that you can see in many ways these days in Howard County.    Housing for seniors is only one way.  Many businesses and organizations are examining how they reach this booming population in our County. The influx of young families 30 and 40 years ago with the development of Columbia has now given us a large number of retirees.
    This Village is part of a larger network of Villages forming across the country.  The first Village was established in Boston on Beacon Hill and soon followed by a Village in DC on Capitol Hill.
    To learn more about the Village here is the info on Saturday's open house:

     Come join us as The Village in Howard officially opens its office. Drop in on November 1, Saturday, 10 AM -1 PM to celebrate. Thanks to the generosity of Winter Growth, our office will be located in their facility at 5466 Ruth Keeton Way (next door to Bain Center) in Harper’s Choice Village Center in Columbia.

    Now Enrolling Members The Village in Howard is now accepting Associate and Full memberships. We are easing into full service operation in early 2015. Right now members can participate in social and cultural activities and have the benefit of being a “pioneer.” Click on the "How to Join" tab for full details regarding benefits, fees and application packet.