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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

18 ways to determine if you fit the Columbia profile

       We often hear that there exists a Columbia "bubble."   Is there a profile of the typical Columbia resident?  I have come up with some of those markers of what being a Columbian is all about.  Score yourself to see where you fit in this spectrum. 

One point if you have a Choose Civility bumper sticker.
One point if you have been in a Starbucks in the last week.
One point if you have been at a Bagel Bin in the last month. Two points if you still call it the  Bagel    Shoppe.

One point for being at Lakeside Cafe this month
One point if you have been to the Apple Store in Mall
One point if you drive a foreign car. Two points for driving a hybid.

One point if you know a same sex couple
One point if you know mixed race couple
One point for attending an Interfaith Center or a non-denominational  congregation (one point for being nonreligious)
One point if you belong to an HMO
One point if you have your car radio tuned to NPR
One point if you shopped at MOMS, Roots or David's (3 points for shopping at all of these)
One point if you have had a child on a swim team, played soccer or lacrosse (3 points for all three)
One point if you have voted in a village election (3 points for running in a village election, 2 points for serving on village architectural committee)
One point if you have attended a Columbia Foundation event in the past year
One point for belonging to a book club
One point for being a college graduate (2 points for graduate or professional degree)
One point if you have moved here after 2000, two points for moving here in the 1990's, three points for moving here in the 1980's, four points for the 1970's and five points in the 1960's.

If you scored 25-31 you are a super Columbian
                      19-24 typical Columbian
                      14-18 striving to be a Columbian
                       9-13  must have only moved here because it is located between Baltimore and DC
                       0-8   you might be a better fit in Columbia, South Carolina

P.S.
From the Howard County Library:
" Discovering Great Artists. Learn about the life and methods of history's greatest artists, then use their techniques to create a piece of art. Ages 6-9; 60 min. Tickets required. Aug 1 - Degas: Little Dancer 11:00 AM East Columbia Branch *Limited space; tickets available at Children's Desk 15-30 minutes before class."

 "Kindergarten Here We Come! Stories and activities to help mark that all important first day, including boarding a real school bus. For children entering Kindergarten this fall; 45-60 min. Registration required. Follow the link to find the date, time and branch most convenient for you and your child. "

Monday, July 30, 2012

Building Green in Howard County

       Back in the 1970's and early 1980's the energy crisis hit our country after the oil embargoes and the Three Mile Island incident.  Our President at the time Jimmy Carter has been mocked for his lecture to our citizens that we were wasting energy and needed to conserve. The solar energy industry was still in its infancy but much was being written about this source of energy as the way we could have a new source of environmentally safe cheap energy.  The free protons that hit the earth were the way to a better future.  It seemed as if this revolution was just around the corner.  I remember seeing new homes in Owen Brown being built with solar panels that used heated water.  These were the precursors to our current solar cells which generate electricity

      During this time some forward thinking County employees in the Public Works Department wanted to prepare newly built County buildings for this coming solar reality.  Roofs of these buildings were built with a 30 angle facing South, the ideal orientation to collect the sun's rays.  I was involved in the planning for the Bain Center at this time and you can see this aspect on the roof of the building. 

You can also see this with the Central Library

    The plan was to add the panels once the cost became cost effective.  Unfortunately the time was not just around the corner but we still might see if happen in the not too distant future. The chart below shows that potential cost point around 2016.
   The Bain Center has one additional feature that was supposed to use solar energy for cost savings.  The building was to have a "solar envelop" that would go around the entire exterior.  The cost of this was too expensive and the envelop was only built on the front of the building facing South.  Simply this was a glass front that heated the air between it and the glass windows of the building.  Hence the "envelop" concept.  This heated air was supposed to be blown into the building to provide some the the heat for the building.  In the Summer the vents in the envelop would release the heat back outside.  Unfortunately this technology never worked well and the system was never used. But you can still see it in the front of the building.
    The County is still working to make County buildings more energy efficient with the passage in 2007 of the Green Building Initiative, Coun­cil Bill No. 47–2007, estab­lished green build­ing stan­dards for pub­lic and pri­vate build­ings in Howard County. Effec­tive July 1, 2008:
  • Most new pub­licly funded build­ings (30% or more County fund­ing), larger than 10,000 square feet must attain a LEED Sil­ver rating.
  • Most new pri­vate build­ings larger than 50,000 square feet must attain a LEED Cer­ti­fied rating.   Who knows we might still see those solar panels on our County building yet!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Red Velvet Pancakes

     With the notice from IHOP that their summer special is Red Velvet pancakes (I get their coupons in my email) I couldn't help but try to think about my own twist on this concept.  Not being much for cream cheese icing used by IHOP I searched around the internet for recipes. This is the best one I found:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon red food coloring (red gel paste will get the dark red seen in the recipe)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, melted


1. Pre-heat skillet or griddle over medium heat or 320°
2. Make the pancakes: Mix all of the dry ingredients (flour through salt) together in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine until all lumps are gone.
3. In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture. Stir until mostly combined. Add in the melted butter and fold gently to mix.
4. Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more.

   I plan on trying this recipe this weekend but will use fresh strawberries as a topping rather than the cream cheese topping.  But if you want to try that here is that recipe:

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar
1/ 2 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons prepared strong coffee
1 teaspoon rum (optional)


Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012 Olympics: Weren't they supposed to have been "our" Olympic games?

      If you remember back in the early 2000's Washington and Baltimore made a joint pitch to host the 2012 Olympics.  The pictures above were images of what the venues would have looked like in DC.  The RFK Stadium was supposed to be the site of the opening and closing ceremonies.  They were beaten out by New York for the US bid to the Olympic organization that ultimately chose London for the site.  The original effort was seen as a way to more closely connect the two growing metropolitan areas.  Of course Howard County is where the two areas meet.  While no events were to be held in Howard County you can be sure that you wouldn't have been able to get a hotel room here for the next two weeks.  Homeowners in Columbia might be renting out their entire homes for $7-9,000 for the full 17 days if you look at what Londoners are renting out homes this year.   
   The biggest feature of the DC/Baltimore games, in addition to new venues, was the building of the Maglev train between the two cities which would provide a quick 16 minute running time between the cities at 240 mph.  Talk about living in one city and working in another! Or less than a 10 minute ride from BWI to Union Station in DC. This is a similar technology used with the trains at DisneyWorld for transportation. Maglev is short for magnetic levitation that powers trains using magnets with opposite charges. The trains are literally riding on air so higher speeds than current track trains are possible . Not surprisingly China is developing maglev trains that will go at similar speeds to jets.  Here in Baltimore we are dealing with 19th century water pipes instead of 21st century transportation.
    So as you watch the Olympics for the next couple of weeks we can only image the craziness we would all be dealing with if the DC/Baltimore bid had been successful.  Guess we will all just have to settle for the news with Whole Foods moving into the Rouse Building.

P.S.
In honor of the Brits hosting the Olympics this week's music video from George Harrison about something Londoners hope to see the next two weeks.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

    This past week I had a chance to visit the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge.  This 23,000 acre wildlife refuge was established in 1933 to preserve the marsh area that was a favorite spot for migrating water fowl.
  
Once totally covered with marshes the area has seen a dramatic change to open water and a destruction of the marsh grasses.
   Blackwater has been involved in the efforts to increase the bald eagle population and to keep the     Delmarva Grey Squirrel from going extinct.

     In 2002 a tornado cut a path through the area and you can still see the path of the tornado today.
       
If you are looking for a place to spend a interesting day with nature Blackwater fits the bill and is only 2 hours away.



P.S.
Just be sure to take the bug spray along with your visit.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

What's in a name? Another Columbia street name bites the dust

         It seems that the County has granted the wishes of the residents of Coon Hunt Court to have the street name changed.  That neighborhood off Thunder Hill Road tends to like animal names with Hound Hill Court and Raccoon Court. This follows last years efforts by residents of Satan Wood Place to have its name changed to what it originally was supposed to be--Satin Place.  It is always a little risky to use terms from literature in naming streets.  Is Gay Topaz in Owen Brown next?  Or Deep Cup (size EEE?)?  This is nothing compared to the silly names like Curtsey Court, Possum Court or Greco Garth.
     I am fortunate to live on a fairly innocent named street but it still has been unusual enough for people to realize I live in Columbia.   A few years ago ordering clothes from LL Bean over the phone I was spelling out my street name and the operator said "Is that Columbia?"  I was surprised we were even know by our street names in Maine but she told me she actually worked at a call center in Salisbury and had been to Columbia.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Raising Sons and the gun question

   Yesterday I had a conversation with a person about the Colorado shootings and the question of what it is about boys that cause them to commit an act like this.  This person is raising sons and they indicated that they forbid their boys from having any type of toy guns--even water guns.  The feeling was that sometimes boys can't disconnect play violence from real violence.  While it is difficult to draw a direct connection from play with toy guns and violent video games to adult violence it is something that parents of boys have to address in some fashion.  This issue has always been with us but somehow the cowboy violence of the past was not linked with the violence that occurred in the 1950's.  Twenty four hour news has made these issues covered to a much greater extent.

   In searching around for some blogger reaction to this question I came across a Scary Mommy blog on just this question.  If you haven't read this Baltimore blogger before you have missed a great blog.
Quoting from her blog on boys and guns and her efforts to address this issue,

 "....I held out for three years, finally caving one summer with a small water gun for our local pool. It turned out to be the gateway gun, leading to a basket full of nerf guns and bullets and even targets. We became that house, that I swore we never would. These days, not an evening goes by that my kids aren’t chasing one another around the house, shooting and hiding and fake dying.
After hearing about the sickening Colorado shooting, killing at least 12 people early this morning, I am tempted (once again) to collect every last gun toy in the house and trash them, resurrecting that abandoned rule of mine. Two piece bathing suits are one thing, but how did I manage to cave on something as important as guns? How did I let shooting become a game?"

      "I realize that children with toy guns aren’t doing the killing, but allowing kids to view guns as toys can’t be a good thing, either. Then again, knowing my boys, they’ll end up simply turning innocent items like spoons and wands into weapons, anyway. So, what’s the answer? I know one thing for sure: I’m not going to want my kids running around shooting tonight."

    This story is similar to another mother's story by Kristin Howerton in the Huffington Post section on parenting.

"........in my dreams of motherhood, our home would be free of toys that represent weapons. My oldest was a boy -- but I imagined that somehow, with careful guidance, I could free him from the gender expectations that give way to a desire for violent objects. Unfortunately, no one warned me that a predilection for destruction seems to be coded in the DNA. Despite the fact that I've provided my son Jafta with a playroom full of peaceful, docile toys, he seems to be drawn only to things that produce explosions, loud noises, or (best yet) wounds of the flesh. He was begging for a sword by the time he could talk. Once he got wind of this light-saber business, everything in the house (paper towel roll, umbrella, drumstick) was brandished as a light-saber. And now, despite the fact that he's never seen a movie much darker than "Stuart Little," he is totally and utterly obsessed with guns."

     Somehow my takeaway from the articles is that boys will be drawn to more aggressive forms of play than girls but it might need to be tempered with parental instruction on the reality of violence.  And that this instruction coming from a father is probably doubly important.


P.S.
From the AP:

    "Firearms sales are surging in the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre as buyers express fears that anti-gun politicians may use the shootings to seek new restrictions on owning weapons. In Colorado, the site of Friday's shooting that killed 12 and injured dozens of others, gun sales jumped in the three days that followed. The state approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm - 25 percent more than the average Friday to Sunday period in 2012 and 43 percent more than the same interval the week prior."

    "Dick Rutan, owner of Gunners Den in suburban Arvada, Colo., said requests for concealed-weapon training certification "are off the hook." His four-hour course in gun safety, required for certification for a concealed-weapons permit in Colorado, has drawn double the interest since Friday. What they're saying is: They want to have a chance. They want to have the ability to protect themselves and their families if they are in a situation like what happened in the movie theater," Rutan said."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Can "Fracking" be done safely?

The issue of "fracking" which is the method used today to drill for natural gas remains controversial.  As I blogged about a few months ago,
      
   "Any discussion of how our Country meets its growing energy needs tends to breakdown into partisan disagreements that pit energy producers against conservationists.  Fracking is just the latest energy production method to be thrown into this energy debate with nuclear power, off shore drilling, solar power, wind power and the Keystone pipeline. The controversy around fracking is the environmental impacts of the chemicals used with the water that is pumped into the shale to release the natural gas.  The use of chemicals in the fracking process has been exempted from meeting the requirements of the Clean Water regulations passed by Congress back in the 1970's.  Halleburton Corporation lobbied for this exemption by saying that the proprietary rights of the company would be violated in having to publicly release the information on the chemicals used.  One of the issues that the Maryland Commission is examining is how the water returned from fracking is processed to remove any harmful chemicals.  Can water treatment plants remove the chemicals safely? Or better yet how can the chemicals be prevented from contaminating the ground water."  

     The Climate Change Initiative of Howard County will be participating in some events this week in DC. 


STOP THE FRACK ATTACK: Many events leading up to the Rally on Saturday, July 28 at the U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC.
http://www.stopthefrackattack.org/schedule/ - Full Schedule

  • Friday, July 27: Stop the Frack Gathering at St. Stephens Church, 1525 Newton St. NW, Washington, that includes training sessions from 10 a.m. to noon, a strategy session from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and a town hall from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  
  • Saturday, July 28, Stop the Frack Attack in DC
1 pm: CCAN rally and walk to Stop the Frack Attack protest at 2pm. The gathering will be at Spirit of Justice Park (C St SW & South Capitol), about a five-minute walk from Stop the Frack and about a block from the Capitol. Use South Metro. Delegate Heather Mizeur and Mike Tidwell will speak about the fight to stop fracking in Maryland. We'll distribute Maryland-specific signs and then walk over to the rally together. To carpool with CCIHC, email hococlimatechange@gmail.com. Meet at 11:15 am at Broken Land Parkway Park & ride WEST side
2 pm: Stop the Frack Attack at the West Lawn of the United States Capitol, Washington, DC. Join this historic event convened by citizens from affected communities, together with environmental organizations and community groups, announcing a call to action to demand an end to putting oil and gas drilling profits ahead of public health, clean water and air and the safety of our communities.
3:30 pm: March through streets of DC to delivery our message to the American Petroleum Institute and American Natural Gas Association.

Sign the Petition for Fracking Moratorium in Maryland
http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/take-action/maryland/sign-the-petition-in-support-for-safe-fracking-practices-in-maryland

Monday, July 23, 2012

Annual battle against the tomato thieves

       As you can see above when it comes to being a vegetable gardener I have a very modest section of my yard in which I try to grow a few tomatoes.  Unfortunately even this modest effort is worth the deer and groundhogs efforts to get the tomatoes before me.  Usually in this blog I am writing about how much I enjoy the wildlife that I see on my runs in the morning.  I really enjoy sharing our beautiful green spaces with them most of the year but not when it comes to my tomatoes. I finally broke down and bought some plastic mesh to put around the tomatoes.
                                           They are even bold enough to try this in broad daylight.
    I know this battle has two contestants that don't put the same energy into the battle.  On one side are the animals who spend every waking moment thinking about how they will get my tomatoes and on my side I only spend a few minutes every couple of days watering and checking on the tomatoes.  This is a "one-sided" battle.  Maybe that is because for we humans there are always the farmers markets.

P.S.
 Pinnacle Empowerment Center is forming a Focus Group for preparation and
planning of an upcoming experience-based women's leadership program.  The
group will meet on Thursday, Aug. 2 from 6:30 to 8pm at 8180 Lark Brown
Road, Suite 301 in Elkridge.  All are welcome. To RSVP or for more
information, contact jennifer@empowerctr.org or visit www.empowerctr.org.
(Near the Columbia Gateway Overlook)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Restaurant Week in Howard County

Farm -2- Table: July 18 – August 6, 2012

Get Local This Summer! Howard County’s Top Chefs are serving up twenty days of savings and local flavor! Enjoy chef specialty menus inspired by local ingredients with fabulous FIXED PRICES from $10.12 to $40.12.

Participating Restaurants

AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar
Columbia
Dinner, three course $39.12
The King’s Contrivance
Columbia
Dinner, three course $40.12
   
Alexandra’s American Fusion
Ellicott City
Lunch, three course $25.12
Dinner, three course $35.12
The Mango Grove Restaurant
Columbia
   
Baldwin’s Station
Sykesville
Lunch, two/three course $10.12/$15.12
Dinner, three course $30.12
The Melting Pot
Columbia
Dinner, three course $30.12
   
Bistro Blanc
Glenelg
Dinner, four course $32.12
and $42.12 with wine pairing
Portalli’s
Ellicott City
Dinner, three course $30.12
   
Café de Paris
Columbia
Lunch, two/three course $10.12/$14.12
Dinner, three course $29.99
Ranazul – Tapas.Wine.Bistro
Maple Lawn
Dinner, four course $35
   
Coho Grill
Columbia
Lunch, three course $22
Dinner, four course $32
Stella Notte Restaurant
Ellicott City
Lunch, three course $13.12
Dinner, four course $32.12
   
Eggspectation
Ellicott City
Dinner, three course $20.12
Tersiguel’s french Country Restaurant
Ellicott City
Lunch, three course $21.95
Dinner, three course $38.95
   
El Hidalgo Restaurant
Elkridge
Dinner, four course $40.12
The Town Grill at Lisbon Citgo Auto Center
Lisbon
Lunch & Dinner, $10.12 – $13.12
   
The Elkridge Furnace Inn
Elkridge
Dinner, three course $35.12
Union Jacks British Pub
Columbia
Lunch or Dinner, two course $21 – $33
Lunch or Dinner, three course $27 -$39
   
Greystone Grill
Columbia
Lunch, three course $16.12
Dinner, three course $30.12
Victoria Gastro Pub
Columbia
(promotion at this location runs July 23 – Aug. 6)
   
Iron Bridge Wine Co
Columbia
Lunch, two course $15
Dinner, three course $35
The Woodstock Inn
Woodstock
Dinner, three course $25.12
   
Kelsey’s Restaurant & Catering
Ellicott City
Dinner, three course $32.12
 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Best Eggplant Parmasan

    This recipe goes against what I have been trying to do healthwise--frying.  But this dish is worth it.  With eggplant in season know this is the best eggplant I have ever tasted.  I first had this at Salute Ristorante Italian on Main Street in Laurel and have finally learned how to make it at home.  The secret to this recipe is that the eggplant is coated in a mixture of grated sharp cheddar and parmesan cheese.  Here is how to make it:

1. Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  I peel the skin of eggplant off.
2. Wash in egg wash and then roll in a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs
3. Put the eggplant back in the egg wash and then roll in the mixture of grated cheddar and parmasan cheese.  Coat the slice well with the cheese.
4. Place the slices in the freezer for 15 minutes.  This will keep the cheese from melting too quick in the frying.
5. After the freezer fry the slices in hot oil until brown and crispy on both sides.
6. Pat fried slices on a paper towel to get off excess oil and then place on a baking sheet.
7. Add a good tomato sauce to each slice and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

I like to use Don Pepino pizza or spaghetti sauce.
 For a nice finishing touch you can chop some fresh basil to put on right before serving.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Yogi Castle: A new frozen yogurt place worth trying

     I have been driving by the Yogi Castle on McGraw Rd for the past month and just never got around to checking it out.  My feeling was if you have been to one yogurt place you have been to them all.  But was I surprised to see the different approach Yogi Castle takes to getting yogurt.
     Rather than a server getting your yogurt you get your own cup of yogurt.  This allows you to get as much or in my case as little as you want.  Sometimes you don't want a lot of yogurt.  You can also mix and match the flavors in whatever combination you want.  The flavors cover a nice range of choices.
       After choosing your yogurt you can add any of the toppings you want in whatever quantity you want.  Mixed peanut butter and chocolate yogurt with crushed butterfinger topping was my choice and it was just right.

      In addition to the store on McGraw Road in Columbia there is one in Ellicott City at 10132-H Baltimore National Pike.

     I signed up for their club membership as I see myself going there often this summer.

P.S.
Artscape 2012 is in Baltimore this weekend.  Parking for this event can be difficult with some planning ahead.   Not sure why there isn't free bus transportation from Ravens Stadium.

P.S. 1
Music video this week from Elton John.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bike About


Columbia BikeAbout is Saturday, September 15, 2012


Staggered Start – 9:30 – 10:30

Ride Begins and Ends at Columbia Downtown Lakefront


The 13 mile, history-filled ride through Columbia is a self-paced ride utilizing Columbia’s paths and street connections where necessary.  The annual event highlights the history, arts and culture and environmental features found in Columbia while introducing new ways to make the connections between villages.

This year’s BikeAbout route will take riders through parts of Oakland Mills, Long Reach, Town Center and Wilde Lake.  Featured interpretation will include:

  • Blandair Park – Phase 1 is open – what’s next?
  • Woodlawn Slave Quarters  - CA’s sensitive restoration helps interpret Howard County history
  • Oakland Ridge Industrial Park – Columbia’s first industrial area has become a hidden marketplace
  • Thunder Hill street – from Sleeping Dog Lane to Soaring Hill – the story behind the street names
  • Jackson Pond – from farm pond, to experimental storm water retention, to neighborhood amenity
  • Symphony Woods  and Downtown Redevelopment –  past, present and future

Pre-registration for the BikeAbout is encouraged.
Registration can be done online. Forms are also available at Columbia Archives, located at 10227 Wincopin Circle in Town Center or Columbia Association headquarters, located at 10221 Wincopin Circle.

For more information, go to www.ColumbiaArchives.org email Columbia.Archives@ColumbiaAssociation.org or call 410-715-6781.


P.S.
Looks like the dredging of Lake Elkhorn is back underway.




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Outdoor Summer Concerts

      The best thing about summer is attending events outside around the County.  One of those events is the Sunset Concerts at Centennial Park in Ellicott City.  Every Wednesday evening starting at 7 p.m. local bands provide entertainment and local vendors have meals for purchase. They also have some traveling concerts. The schedule for upcoming concerts are:































 Centennial concerts:
July 18 Pirate Night - Regatta (special boat rental discounts)  Pyrates Royale - Maritime Swashbuckling
July 25  Damon Foreman - Funk, Blues, Rock
August 1Pajama Party Night  Kinderman - Children's Music
August 8Tropical Island Night  Pan Masters - Steel Drum, Calypso
August 15  Black Alley - Soul Garage


Traveling Bands

Various days/locations 7–8:30 PM. FREE ICE CREAM from Edy’s Grand Ice Cream (while supplies last). 
 



Thurs., July 12 - Meadowbrook Park
5001 Meadowbrook Lane, Ellicott City
String Theory - Classic Rock
Fri., July 27 - Schooley Mill Park
12975 Hall Shop Road, Highland
Wicked Jezabel - All Female 80's Rock/Pop
Thurs., Aug. 2 - Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park
3655 Church Road, Ellicott City
The Jokers Wild - Swing/Jazz
Tues., Aug. 7 - North Laurel Park*
9411 Whiskey Bottom Road
U.S. Air Force Max Impact - Pop/Rock
Fri., Aug. 17 - Rockburn Branch Park West
6105 Rockburn Branch Park Road, Elkridge
Bad Influence - Blues, Rock, Funk

 The Columbia Association hosts entertainment at the Kittaquandi Lakefront thru the summer.   The schedule is:

Concert

07/18/2012
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Dave Chappell Band
Roots Rock Dave plays guitar and sings in the "Dave Chappell Band". Along with Bruce Swaim on tenor sax, Claude Arthur on bass, and Barry Hart on drums, this four piece unit covers a huge variety of musical ground from rock, blues, swing, jazz, to country and more depending on the venue or private event.
Concert

07/19/2012
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Vikki & The Hitz
Movie

07/20/2012
8:00 PM - 10:30 PM
WAR HORSE (PG-13)
Jeremy Irving, Emily Watson and David Thewlis DreamWorks Pictures; Directed by Steven Spielberg Rated PG-13; 146 minutes; 2011
Concert

07/21/2012
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Ronn MacFarlane & Ayreheart
Contemporary Acoustic
Concert

07/22/2012
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
St. John Baptist Church Choir
Gospel
Movie

07/23/2012
8:00 PM - 10:30 PM
THE MUPPETS (PG)
Amy Adams, Jason Segel and Chris Cooper Walt Disney Pictures Rated PG; 98 minutes; 2011
Open Mic

07/24/2012
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
TEEN OPEN MIC
Concert

07/25/2012
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
The Nighthawks
Roots Rock & Blues
Concert

07/26/2012
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp
Appalachian Culture For all folkies who are looking for traditional music, we have Jeni & Billy.  They "Get It" as I've told my listeners.  Jeni & Billy understand and, be it a traditional song or a song in the tradition, what they do is real gift to music.
Movie

07/27/2012
8:00 PM - 10:30 PM
THE HELP (PG-13)
Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard DreamWorks Pictures; Directed by Tate Taylor Rated PG-13; 146 minutes; 2011
Concert

07/28/2012
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Richard Walton Group
Jazz The Richard Walton Group is celebrating 20 years as an accomplished, award winning, instrumental contemporary jazz group. The band’s current musicians include Michael Bronson, Michael Gottleib, Dave Krug, David Meer, Eric Robertson, Mitchell Shaivitz, Tecla & Richard Walton.
Concert

07/29/2012
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
The Patty Reese Group
Roots Rock Azalea City Recordings’ Artist, The Patty Reese Band is known and celebrated for their ability to raise the roof with a "get down" rocker or to bring tears to your eyes with a heartfelt ballad.Each song is loaded with soulful vocals, harmony's and showcases some of the most critically acclaimed soloists on the East Coast. Either way, you'll find your feet moving and your heart touched by the infectious rhythms and grooves of the Patty Reese Band.
Movie

07/30/2012
8:00 PM - 10:30 PM
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (PG)
Voices by Jamie Bell Paramount Pictures; Directed by Steven Spielberg Rated PG; 107 minutes; 2011
Open Mic

07/31/2012
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
TEEN OPEN MIC



P.S.
Thanks to HoCo Rising and Village Green blogs for alerting all of us to a great project to supply school supplies to students in HoCo.


P.S. 1
I have always felt that the secret to having a more educated population is to instill the love of reading in children.  The HoCo Library makes that easy with a new link at the Library for young readers with the Tumbledown Cloud.   Check it out.












Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Centennial Fun Run-Best Family Fun Event in Howard County for 34 years and running

        Today I am doing something I have never done before on a blog.   I am repeating a blog I did last year about the Centennial Fun Run that Arleen Dinneen has been doing in her neighborhood near Centennial High School.  I ran the run last week with my grandson and wanted to again alert everyone who would like to have a fun one mile run or walk.  You can participate next Tuesday July 24, August 4th and the partner race on August 11th. Here is the info on this year's runs.

Thirty-one years before Michelle Obama started her campaign to improve the fitness of our youth we had a Howard County resident starting her own effort to “get all of us moving.” Arleen Dinneen has been organizing the Centennial Fun Run for 34 years that has probably started more Howard County residents running than any other event.

Back in the mid 70’s before running was popular Arleen’s son Tim told her that he and some of his friends  had done a mile run on the track at Centennial High School.  Thinking that a mile was one lap of the track she decided to do it herself.  After completing one lap and stopping she was told that a mile was FOUR times around the track.  Not one to stop before doing the mile she pushed herself to do the other three laps and decided that she wanted to be able to do all four laps without stopping.  When she could do that she heard about the Howard County Striders weekly runs and thought she would go out with her son to do the 2-mile length run.  When someone suggested trying the 6-mile run she thought that would be too far but eventually they were able to do it.

Again this was before the running craze (and triathlons) and Arleen just ran in cutoffs and tennis shoes. But because the Striders were so friendly and encouraging to the beginning runners she stuck with it.  Along the way she started hosting some informal runs for kids in her neighborhood around a one-mile course.  Each week it seemed to have more kids and then even some parents joined in the runs and the Centennial Fun Run was born.  One thing led to another and she decided to give the kids a trophy if they did the run 5 times and started sending the run results to the local newspaper to have them posted. Each year it has grown and is now an official event sponsored by the Howard County Striders. Many of the youth that have gone on to join the Junior Striders started out at Arleen’s Fun Run. Along the way her neighbors like Dave and Peggy Fitzpatrick and Alice and Bill Barrows became race volunteers. After starting to run the Fun Run with my children when they were young I am now bringing out my grandchildren.  And that story is repeated by a number of other families. And Arleen’s kids are now grown with families of their own and help her run the events each week.

Even though Arleen gets the young high school track runners who can do the Fun Run in less than 5 minutes she has always thought of this as an event for kids.  With this in mind she has a different theme night. I have posted some of these events like caulk night, Scales and Tales, Banjo Buddies and one really special time years ago when a neighbor and I ran as the crash test dummies, Vince and Larry.  While those suits didn’t breath and were very hot we had fun coming up behind runners and yelling out “Your being passed by a crash dummy.”

Tuesday night starts its 33rd year at 7:30 on 10114 Colonial Drive in Ellicott City near Centennial High School. Think about coming out or emailing this blog to friends, family and neighbors who may be interested in starting a new healthy family tradition. You never know where it will lead.


 Yours truly at the right at the Fun Run with my Son in 1997

P.S.
For me this blog also has a personal impact. Twenty-six years ago I was one of those non-runners who thought that getting out to run in all kinds of weather was crazy. Arleen was a co-worker of my at the time and she said “don’t knock it till you try it.”  And she invited me to try her Fun Run since it was only a one mile run.  As someone who played racquetball 5 or 6 times a week I thought that doing this shouldn’t be a problem.  However when I saw kids 7 and 8 years old passing me (to say nothing about the women) on the run I decided come back out the next week after building my endurance up during the following week.  After pushing myself to do first one mile then 2 miles and finally 3 miles I began to see how your body could really adjust to aerobic exercise. Suddenly I saw myself as a runner and set goals of doing a 10K race and then training for a marathon, something I had never imaged myself doing in the recent past. Fast forward 26 years and running, like blogging, has become a part of who I am. By my estimation I have run far enough in those years to run around the earth twice having run over 50,000 miles in those 26 years. While 10K races every weekend, the Bagel Run and marathons (having completed 11 including Chicago last year) are no longer something I do I still think of myself as a runner although these days it might be more accurate to call myself a slow jogger. For this I salute you Arleen!

P.S. 1
 The Governor’s Commission on Asian Affairs is meeting in Howard County tonight, Tuesday July 17, beginning at 6:30 pm at the Miller Library in Ellicott City.  The focus of the meeting will be on the Dream Act.  The address, in case you don’t have it, is 9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City MD 21042.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

You know you aren't in Columbia when.......

         One of the nice things about having children who relocate around the US is that we get to know other parts of the country.  Having had children who have lived in Boston, Atlanta, Austin, San Francisco and Charlotte, NC we have had opportunities to see how the rest of the country compares to Columbia.  
        This weekend we visited our daughter in Charlotte, NC (actually Huntersville right outside Charlotte) the banking center of the South.  Bank of America (formerly NationsBank) and Wells Fargo (they bought out Wachovia) have banking centers in the city. The city is growing at 750,000 residents and is the 17th largest city in the US. This place has a part of its culture in the South and part from Northeast transplants. From the number of Red Sox banners the area must be a popular relocation area for New Englanders.
      It is not hard to see why New England transplants trade their winters for the mild climate of Charlotte which allows for palm trees and flowers to grow.
You can also find a few Maryland transplants. No surprise that they don't display any Oriole flags.
        So what are some of the differences I noted?  First every other radio station is a country channel.  Thank goodness the NPR channels are in the same places on the radio dial.  
        The next difference is one that we should appreciate in Maryland.  Every other commercial on TV is a Romney or Obama commercial.  Literally!  North Carolina is one of those "inplay" states.  I guess those northern transplants from New England have reached a tipping point in the state.  I know that many   Marylanders feel left out of the Presidential campaign but we should be grateful our we are not bombarded with these crazy political ads.  It is interesting to note that the Obama commercials begin with Obama saying he endorses this ad but that never happens with the Romney ads as they are from the Karl Rove PAC.  The Citzens United ruling has certainly changed the political landscape.  I do wonder how these repetitive commercials move people to decide how to vote.  Are there people who need to watch the same commercial 100 times before they can make a decision??  Especially when the commercials are full of half truths and distortions?   
      
        You can still see many of aspects of the "old South" before the "Yankee invasion."  Charlotte is home to NASCAR and many of the car dealerships in the area are owned by NASCAR drivers who make their homes in the area.  Billy Graham Crusades are also headquartered here which is reflected in the area being in the heart of the Bible Belt.  What has always amazes me about the South is that every town seems to have an equal number of churches and "gentleman's" clubs.  Guns and ammo shops and cut rate cigarette stores seem to be major industries in the area.

P.S.
Of course with the homogenization of America we could still have breakfast at Panera, drink lattes at Starbucks and shop at Target and Old Navy at the Arundel Mills twin  in the area called Concord Mills ((both managed by the Simon Corporation).

Friday, July 13, 2012

NY Med: Summer TV worth watching

    I usually use the summer to take a break from TV as most shows are reruns.  Sometimes summer TV can have a show that is compelling in its story telling.  Such a show is on ABC this summer on Tuesday nights.  NY Med follows patients and doctors at New York Presbyterian Hospital. A few years ago the same producers produced a series that took place at Johns Hopkins and two years ago they filmed at three Boston Hospitals.  The real life and death drama of a hospital gives you a new sense of appreciation for your health.  Check out the first episode online.

P.S.
To view the Boston hospital series click here.






Thursday, July 12, 2012

What the Maryland School Achievements tests tell us

       The Sun had the latest test results from the Maryland School Achievement tests in the paper yesterday morning. Not surprisingly Howard County scored well in the MSA tests.  Having a highly educated population with a high per capital income so this shouldn't be surprising.  Having had children go through our school system I can also attest to the good quality of teachers and staff in our schools.  But one result that I couldn't help but notice was the drop off of math scores as children went through the grades. While the drop off varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction the trend was seen everywhere.  Baltimore had the largest drop of 38 points, Anne Arundel 21 points, Baltimore County 24 points, Carroll County 18 points, Harford County 16 points and Howard County 9 points. So I guess we should be happy to have the smallest drop but I wondered why the drop had to occur anywhere.  When you compare the sames grades in Howard County in reading there is just a drop of less than one point. Other jurisdictions had drops of 4-9 points.   It is hard to read much into changes from one year to another as trends usually take more than one year to show up.
      In comparing math students in the United States to other developed countries in the world we come in the middle of the pack.   Finland scored first in this international testing.  Some of the attributes of the Finnish system are interesting in that they go against some of the emphasis on tracking and testing students.  Some of the attributes are:
  • The Finnish school system uses the same curriculum for all students (which may be one reason why Finnish scores varied so little from school to school).
  • Students have light homework loads.
  • Finnish schools do not have classes for gifted students.
  • Finland uses very little standardized testing.
  • Children do not start school until age 7.
  • Finland has a comprehensive preschool program that emphasizes "self-reflection" and socializing, not academics.
  • Grades are not given until high school, and even then, class rankings are not compiled.
  • Teachers must have master's degrees.
  • Becoming a teacher in Finland is highly competitive. Just 10% of Finnish college graduates are accepted into the teacher training program; as a result, teaching is a high-status profession. (Teacher salaries are similar to teacher salaries in the U.S., however.)
  • Students are separated into academic and vocational tracks during the last three years of high school. About 50% go into each track.
  • Diagnostic testing of students is used early and frequently. If a student is in need of extra help, intensive intervention is provided.
  • Groups of teachers visit each others' classes to observe their colleagues at work. Teachers also get one afternoon per week for professional development.
  • School funding is higher for the middle school years, the years when children are most in danger of dropping out.
  • College is free in Finland.
Says Professor Jouni Välijärvi of the Institute for Educational Research at the University of Jyväskylä, and Project Manager of PISA for Finland, "In light of the PISA data, Finnish schools manage to activate learning among the whole age cohort more effectively than any other country. Students are not sorted into different groups or schools but different types of learners are learning together. In this kind of setting high achieving students seem to serve as positive models for their less advanced classmates. The pedagogy differs from that applied in systems characterized by tracking and streaming. Efforts are made to provide instruction to cater to the needs of different learners in terms of their skills and interests."

Preschool education — a relatively new addition to the Finnish toolkit — has been part of their educational system for the past 10 years. According to Välijärvi, "Preschools are nonacademic in the sense that no clear academic targets are set. Socialization into school culture and learning to work together with children is the central role. Preschool is not compulsory in Finland, but 96-97% of the children go to it."

     In comparing countries on any basis the differences in populations makes it difficult to draw conclusions simply on the basis of test results.  Finland, Japan and other high testing countries have  much more homogenous populations than the United States.  We see this effect within the school districts in Maryland and even in Howard County.  Schools in the western part of Howard County with less diverse student populations score 20 points higher than some schools in Columbia.

    So what can make a difference in these scores?  Certainly looking at the number of school days of instruction each year could be one factor.  The United States is near the bottom of the list of world countries for the number of days its students attend class. Asian countries spend 60 to 80 more days a year in instruction than the 180 days typical for American schools.  The summer break has been shown to have the most impact on children from lower socioeconomic families.
   
    If education is important to a country's development and prosperity in a global economy than we can expect a continuing decline in American prominence in the world in the 21st century.

P.S.
The results didn't include Lake Elkhorn Middle and Cradlerock Elementary.  Maybe it was the name change this year that caused this.

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Lost Sheltie in Dorsey Search to be on the lookout for.