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Friday, August 22, 2014

Authority without "positive capital" is problematic

      The news of this past week has been focused on the disturbances in Ferguson, Missouri.  Opinions on the causes of the events are as varied as the number of different commentators reporting on the situation.  I make no claim to know or understand the reality of what happened in this situation.  But I think I do know how these situations develop and escalate.  It reminds me of one the best foster care conference presentations that I heard a number of years ago.  This presentation has also resonated with me in many non foster care relationships and I thought I would pass along its message.
      Good relationships require the "banking" of "positive capital."  Simply put relationships are only as productive as the number of positive, honest and open interactions experienced in the relationship.  Without this positive capital persons in positions of authority can only maintain their authority through coercion and retribution.  For foster parents this meant that listening to the issues of the foster children in your care and understanding their needs before defining rules was imperative.  Establishing trust, as difficult at that was, was essential to having a successful placement.  Telling the foster child house rules on day one was the first step in insuring a problematic placement.  House rules were important but only after that trust had been created.  It was a delicate balance but doable.  For many foster youth who had experienced the trauma of abuse building this trust was an especially difficult process and always an ongoing process.
       In watching the confrontations in Ferguson it seems clear that the relationship between the residents and the authorities had very little positive capital. It is very difficult to build capital once the conflicts occur. The comments and actions from both sides have a "we" versus "them" tone.  Let's hope that what has occurred in Missouri brings on a national discussion in communities on how this situation can be avoided by creating pre-conflict dialogue and creating positive capital.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Columbia Whole Foods: A first look

      Yesterday saw the long awaited opening of the Whole Foods store in Columbia.  The parking for store opening was like trying to park at the Mall in December or on any weekend night.

     The crowd was large and Whole Foods was ready to put on a show.

Vendors provided food before you even got into the door

Naturally the first area you encounter are the fresh fruits and vegetables

For those looking for a quick carry out lunch the counters were full of selections.  Not sure how the marinated lemons work.

Fresh hand made pasta of all types was available

For meat lovers the selection of beef, pork and chicken was plentiful.  Much of it was advertised as organic.

The seafood selection was extensive but on the high price side.

 What would an upscale market be without a large selection of vinegar and olive oils?

Bulk selection of grains were plentiful

For those who have not tried Whole Food selections of coffee you are in for a treat.  Almost as good as Bun Penny used to be.

Whole Foods is sure to be the choice for those looking to pick up a quick lunch with many choices available. Unfortunately no wood fired pizza.

How about a soda fountain with all types of drinks.

Never go by the pastry area on an empty stomach.

Again, you knew there would be a large selection of high end cheeses.

My personal choice for a favorite Whole Foods item is the Senor Fields salsa.  I have gone out of my way to visit the Whole Foods stores in Annapolis and Silver Spring to get this salsa.  A quart jar for $5 is a steal. 

Now for the cost disclaimer on the prices at Whole Foods or as it is mockingly called "whole check."  Cento San Marzano tomatoes are much cheaper at Costco.  This is the only type I use on my pizzas.

The lunch time entertainment at the Lake Front was nice.  Too bad there wasn't any outdoor, lakeside  seating on the deck of the store.

Seemed appropriate that all of yesterday's activities were close to the statues of Jim Rouse and his brother.  He would have enjoyed yesterday's development.

    I could eat pizza everyday.  Last week I posted a blog on the Chicago Pizza tour.  A couple of readers indicated they would be interested in visiting some of our local pizza establishments to explore which are the best.  If anyone might be interested in trying out some pizza, once in a while, around our area email at the address at the top of the blog.  Something like a Howard County Pizza Club.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Howard County pizza tour??

Last weekend while I was in Chicago for a relative's wedding I decided to do a tour of Chicago that would be a little different. The Chicago Pizza Tour sounded like the right combination of touring Chicago and sampling the regional pizzas at the same time.

    The Tour included four different pizza stops.

   This tour included both thin crust and the more traditional thick crust Chicago style pizza.

    The one shown above that used San Marzano tomatoes as its base was voted the best by the folks on our tour. The other thick crust pizzas were just OK.  I am not a big fan of a lot of meat on a pizza. I like pizzas that have just a good sauce (or just crushed tomatoes) and cheese.   Unfortunately they like pepperoni and sausage in Chicago.  That usually just left me with the veggie choice at each of the four stops.

The pepperoni and sausage pizza at Coal Fire was very good.

   My favorite was the garlic white pizza shown below with the whipped ricotta at Coal Fire. 

   That's right the Coal Fire Pizza that we have in Shipley's Grant in Ellicott City was the best one I had in Chicago.  I looked on the local menu but didn't see the whipped ricotta on their menu.  I went to Coal Fire Pizza soon after they opened and was disappointed in the pizza I had.  Maybe it is time for a return visit.
     This got me to thinking if I planned a Howard County Pizza tour which places would I include?  Here is my list:
1) Trattoria E Pizzeria Da Enrico
2) Bertucci's
3) Facci's
4) Tomato Palace
5) Roma's
6) Tino's Bistro

   So which places have I missed?  What are your favorites?

     Notice that I didn't include the regional favorite Ledo's.  Their sauce is much too sweet.  My all time favorite is still Grotto's and now that they have opened in Gambrills I don't have to travel to Delaware to eat their pizza.

   My new favorite at Grotto's is their Buffalo Chicken Pizza shown above.


   While waiting for the Pizza Tour to begin I went over to Chicago's Grant Park and found these interesting features.

Chicagoan's call this "the bean."

   This is the view from under the sculpture.

  I don't know what they call this head!

I thought it would be fun to look at some of the pre-season predictions for the American League East standings. Here is what I found:
AL East: 1. Red Sox, 2. Rays, 3. Yankees, 4. Orioles, 5. Blue Jays
AL East: 1. Rays, 2. Red Sox, 3. Yankees, 4. Blue Jays, 5. Orioles
AL East: 1. Red Sox, 2. Yankees, 3. Rays, 4. Orioles, 5. Blue Jays

Seems most predictions were based on the final standings of the previous year and not how teams are playing this year.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Government that works

   Remember when I posted a few weeks ago about a dangerous curve for users of a path maintained by Howard County Parks and Rec that is shown above?

Pedestrians and runners were at danger of being run over by bikers coming around the blind curve.

     I am happy to report that after a discussion with Neal Hollingshead with Howard County Government the picture below shows how this issue has been addressed. The brush that obscured the view coming around the corner has been corrected so that it is now safer for users of the trail.

   Other corner areas have also had brush cleared out to make them safer too.

       We too often hear complaints about government and their inaction.  I thought it was good to show that in Howard County you can get a response to an area of concern.  Kudos to our local government employees.


   It looks like the recent dry weather allowed the ground to absorb much of our 6" rainfall on Tuesday.  I had expected to see a lot more water damage along the trail on Wednesday.

    For the most part this damage was from previous storms this Spring.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams RIP


     Notice of the tragic death of another celebrity seems to be an all too frequent occurrence.   From Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson we see the other side of celebrity.  With Robin Williams there was a humanity to his persona that makes his sudden death all the more distressing.   Having seen him in live performance a few times I can say that his humor, as raunchy as it could be at times, was so powerful that even the most conservative of people in the audience couldn't help but laugh at his manic comedy.  His range of acting was something that set him apart from any other actor I can think of.  I thought I would link to two clips from his movies that show this range.  My two favorite Robin Williams movies are "Good Morning Vietnam" and "Dead Poet Society."  The last scene in the clip on Good Morning Vietnam was Robin ad libbing with some of the movie extras and the director like it so much he put it in the movie.

      Depression and mental illness can be challenging for anyone or any family.  NAMI Howard County has a list of resources available in Howard County.

 I want to pass some information about one of the organizations receiving funds from the shows this year--Prepare for Success. This organization operates through the Community Action Council and provides school supplies to Howard County students who need assistance in having the necessary school supplies.
As their website states:
   "Since 2002, PFS has equipped over 26,000 HCPSS elementary, middle and high school students with backpacks filled with essential school supplies, plus hundreds of loose supplies distributed throughout year.
     "Learning is challenging under the best of circumstances. By providing children the supplies their families cannot afford, you remove the disadvantage of their not having what they need to learn and of not fitting in with their classmates. You remove their anxiety of being a burden to their family. You help them prepare to succeed – in school and in life." --a HCPSS Pupil Personnel Worker"

   A $25 donation provides supplies to one student.
TO DONATE (via Community Action Council) CLICK HERE