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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Nursing homes in Howard County rated


Living in Howard County we seem to take for granted that we have the best of everything.  Top schools, great library, good government and highly ranked community.   So it was a little unsettling to look at the scoring of  Howard County nursing homes that was recently shown in the US News and World Report.  Apparently US News is involved in ranking more than just colleges.  As they explained how their rankings of nursing home were determined:

       "The data behind Best Nursing Homes come from Nursing Home Compare, a website run by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CMS sets and enforces standards for nursing homes enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid, as most are. The agency also collects information from states and individual homes and assigns each home (other than a few too new to have built up enough months of data) a rating of one to five stars in each of three categories:
1) State-conducted health inspections
2) Nursing and physical therapy staffing
3) Quality of medical care"

       Selecting a nursing home for a relative can be challenging.  Often it is a decision that has to be made quickly, often before the relative is discharged from a hospital.  With little time to visit many nursing homes the decision is often made in an uninformed manner.  The online link from US News to Baltimore area nursing homes is a place to start in making that choice.
       We have 3 nursing homes in Howard County.  The nursing home unit at Vantage House is part of their continuing care facility and only available to residents of Vantage House.  It has a strong top 5 star rating.  Unfortunately that is not the case with the other two nursing homes in the county.  The Lorien Nursing Home only gets a 2 star rating.   Interestingly the other nursing homes that Lorien runs in other communities rate higher than the one in Columbia.  Even worse is the dismal rating of the Ellicott City Health and Rehabilition Center.   It gets the lowest score of 1 star and is being closely monitored because of its history of bad care.
       The question I have to ask is why with our expectations of high quality in our county institutions we seem to have nursing homes with such poor quality?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Path around Lake Kittamaqundi

      On Sunday the warm weather drew me out for a walk and I chose the path along Lake Kittamaqundi over to Wilde Lake.  Not having been on that path I was pleased to see how well the dredging of Lake Kittamaqundi had improved the lake.  Areas that were beginning to fill in with sediment are now clear water areas.
      The Columbia Association has commissioned a study to look at having the path system around the lake go completely around the lake.  It now goes only about 2/3 of way.  The path system would have to go around some environmentally sensitive areas and the consultant submitted 3 proposed path systems.
The 3 designs below were recently shown in a Columbia Patch article.



   The consultant recommended the first alignment because it is the most cost efficient and longest path.  The third alignment actually has a bridge across the middle of the lake.

There will be a presentation to the Town Center Village Board on March 27th and if approved the construction of the path would begin in the Summer of 2014.


P.S.
   I blogged recently about the Patuxent Branch Trail shown above and the time to advocate for County funding for this trail is coming up soon.  I received the following information from Jane Dembner at the Columbia Association:

    "It's budget season for Howard County Government, and there are a few notable projects in the proposed budget that could help make Columbia awesome. We're particularly excited about a proposed pathway (pictured) that would connect Downtown Columbia with Lake Elkhorn and the Patuxent Branch Trail that runs all the way to Savage. There is also funding to continue construction at Blandair Park and for renovations at the Central and East Columbia Libraries.

    If you support any of the projects, please make your voice heard! Attend the public hearing on March 11 or submit testimony online here: http://www.howardcountymd.gov/budgettestimony.htmAll you need to say is: "I support the Patuxent Branch Trail Extension/Library improvements/Blandair Park because it/they would help make Columbia awesome!" 


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gangs in Howard County?

    I have thought about this blog for some time.  Normally I am looking for information that highlights the wonderful aspects of our community.  After all we have chosen to live in this community because it has so many good features.  Close to DC and Baltimore.  Wonderful schools.  Diverse population.  Just about any type of restaurant you could want.  The hesitation I had in doing this blog is that it may be perceived as portraying Howard County as an unsafe place which I don't personally feel.  But I would be naive if I didn't recognize the signs of gangs in our community.
       Recent articles in the Columbia Patch have mentioned the existence of these gangs.  The pictures in this blog are from areas in which I run.
       I am no expert on gang tagging symbols but the pictures seem to bare the markings of tagging from gangs.


P.S.
   Blog party tonight Tuesday, Feb 26th, from 5:30 - 7:30 at Union Jack's Columbia.  This is a fun way for bloggers and blog readers to meet and enjoy some good conversation.

P.S. 1
From the Columbia Figure Stating Club:


    "The Columbia Figure Skating Club announces its spring production of Come Fly with Mickey, featuring multiple performances at the Columbia Ice Rink, located at 5876 Columbia Road, Columbia, MD 21045, during the weekend of March 23rd and 24th, 2013.
    Join us for Mickey’s action-packed adventures as he flies around the world!  Mickey starts his journey in the Magic Kingdom, where he meets up with all of your favorite princesses, and then takes to the skies for further excitement with stops around the world including stops in New York (Broadway and The Rockettes), Scotland (Brave), England (Battle of the Boy Bands), India (Bollywood), China (Chinese Dance) and Korea, where . . . you guessed it . . . Mickey goes crazy over the latest fad, Gangnam Style! 
      This delightfully entertaining ice skating show features almost 90 performers ranging in age from 3 through adult and includes many advanced-level skaters who have competed in regional-and national-level competitions. Convenient to both Washington and Baltimore, this show is a special event for families and people of all ages. Come Fly with Mickey is sanctioned by US Figure Skating.
     For tickets and more information, please visit the Club’s website: www.columbiafsc.com."



Monday, February 25, 2013

Energy efficient homes with greeNEWit

     Today we hear a great deal about finding new energy resources that are clean and renewable.  Maryland seems poised to fund a wind farm off the coast of Ocean City that hopefully will be one new source for clean energy production for Maryland homes and businesses.  Maryland has been taking the cautious road to approving fracking in the state to produce natural gas.  While many of the clean, renewable energy resources will take millions, if not billions, of dollars and many years to increase our energy supply we as individuals can make some dramatic results by making sure that our homes are energy efficient.  I have recently learned of an easy way to begin this process.  The program is with greeNEWit and they will come to your home, do an energy audit and install energy efficient products at no additional cost.  The money for this service is something that we are already paying a couple of dollars for each month on our utility bills.
   I talked with Sarah Frye from greeNEWit last week and asked if she could send along some information about the program.  Below is what she sent me.

"START SAVING MONEY WITH A QUICK HOME ENERGY CHECK-UP
    We are writing to inform you of an exciting new opportunity where you can start saving money immediately while reducing your energy consumption. The new opportunity is with greeNEWit, an energy solutions company that provides quick home energy check-ups (QHEC) to help homeowners lower monthly utility bills and achieve energy savings.

As part of the Empower Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008, you can sign up for a QHEC and get energy-efficient products such as CFLs, efficient-flow showerheads, smart strips and more installed at NO additional cost your usual monthly utility bills. The products included in the QHEC have an estimated retail value up to $175. Not to mention that your utility bills will go down as a result.

We encourage you to sign up here: http://www.greenewit.com/single-family-qhec.
On the portion of the form that asks: ‘I heard about the single family qhec from...’, select OUR ORGANIZATIONS > Hoco Connect.

Whether you reside in a house, condo, townhouse, apartment, duplex or mobile home, and as long as you have an active utility account in the state of Maryland, you’re likely eligible for the energy and water saving upgrades from greeNEWit that are a fast, easy way to increase the energy efficiency of your home and help you start saving immediately.

If everyone in Howard County signed up and completed the quick home energy check-up from greeNEWit, think how much electricity, water, gas and money we’d save as a result. Together we can make a huge difference!

More About the Empower Maryland Energy Efficiency Act
The Empower Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008 mandates a reduction of both per capita energy consumption and per capita peak demand by15 percent by the end of 2015. As a result, the local utilities created a suite of energy efficient programs, and the quick home energy check-up is becoming increasingly popular. Your participation in this program is helping Maryland get one important step closer to achieving the 15% energy reduction target. At the bottom of your utility bill, you can see a percentage of the existing costs going toward this program that is now redirected back to you and your community."


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Funny

Why science teachers are never asked to monitor recess

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Rouse" Building renovation hearing

   Parking by the old Rouse Building today (somehow it will always be the Rouse Building and not GGP) I noticed this sign about a public hearing on March 7th for the renovation of the building into a Whole Foods store and CA gym.
   The way this building has deteriorated in the past few years any renovation of the building would be an improvement over what we see today.

Friday, February 22, 2013

La Madeleine: A different place for breakfast



     Somehow nothing like sleeping in and then going out to breakfast on a weekend is one of life's little pleasures.  At one time we used to go out for breakfast before work every Friday as a nice preview of the weekend.  Breakfast then used to be at Friendly's in Dobbin Center.  Breakfast choices were more limited back then.  With the closing of Friendly's we were left to moving around.  Somehow Bob Evan's never really excited us with its menu choices.  We didn't want to always go to Eggspectation which always have been a favorite of our family.  Diners (Double T being our usual choice) are OK but ordinary after awhile.  
     A few months ago wanting to go someplace we hadn't been to in awhile we went back to La Madeleine. Not having been there for some time we were confused with the ordering process.  We were handed a menu and ordered from the menu before sitting down.  You can also just go down the buffet type line and order items already made up.
    Being a cold winter morning we opted to sit next to the fireplace which was a very cozy French inn type of seating arrangement.  Certainly an upgrade from a diner!
    The usual breakfast fare is also an upgrade from the typical diner fare.  Omelettes came with a good portion of fillings.This being a French themed restaurant you would expect very good croissants and La Madeleine delivers with the best ones you will ever have.  Light and flaky you are tempted to buy some to take home.
     One of the great things about Columbia is that with some looking around you can always find diversity in places to eat.  La Madeleine is place to remember for a different breakfast place on one of our remaining cold mornings.
hocofood@@@

P.S.
Anyone of a certain age will remember Sam Cooke's music in today's video.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nice way to end February: Baltimore Boat Show

         I don't about you but February is the one month I look forward to ending every year.  By this time of the winter we have endured enough cold weather that the thoughts of summer carry us through the month.  One of the ways we can take a "winter break" is to visit the Baltimore Boat Show in Baltimore.  I have some free tickets to the Boat Show if you would like to go.  Email me (at the top of the blog)  if you would like a couple of tickets.
    I received the following information about the Boat Show:

      "The 2013 Progressive Insurance Baltimore Boat Show cruises into the Baltimore Convention Center, February 28 – March 3, making a splash with sales on the newest boats and accessories, plus new fun and educational activities for boaters of all ages and experience levels. Boaters, sailors, fisherman and families can climb aboard and compare hundreds of boats for all budgets and lifestyles, from luxury cruisers and fishing boats to family runabouts and pontoons, plus shop deals on the latest marine gadgets and gear.

     Boat browsing and buying is just the beginning of the fun at the Progressive Insurance Baltimore Boat Show, with a variety of attractions, including the new Swampmaster Gator Show – visitors looking to get wild can take a photo holding a baby gator and watch as expert alligator handler Jeff Quattrocchi catches an 8 ft., 200 lb. alligator. Captain Dave Marciano from National Geographic Channel's Wicked Tuna will also be on hand March 1-3 to meet visitors and share his stories on the open seas. And, experienced and beginner boaters can put their boating skills to the test with the Power Boat Docking Challenge.

        Boaters and fisherman hoping to add new tricks to their trade can head to the hands-on clinics, see demonstrations and get one-on-one advice at Fred’s Shed DIY Interactive Learning Center and Fishing the Chesapeake seminar series.  And, there’s no shortage offun for the kids with a chance to build their own boat at the Kids’ Create-a-Boat.
When:                  Thursday, February 28 through Sunday, March 3, 2013
Where:                Baltimore Convention Center
                                One West Pratt Street
                                Baltimore, MD 21201
Hours:                  Thursday, February 28   11:00am–9:00pm
                                Friday, March 1               11:00am–9:00pm
                                Saturday, March 2          10:00am–9:00pm
                                Sunday, March 3             10:00am–5:00pm
Tickets:                $12 for adults; FREE for children 15 and under (when accompanied by an adult)"
                                Advance tickets can be purchased at http://www.baltimoreboatshow.com/

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making Howard County cleaner

   Litter is one of those things that drives me crazy.  I have never understood how anyone can be so inconsiderate to just throw out their trash along the road.  The picture above is junk that some idiot thought they could discard along a nice path in Columbia. I have even encountered used furniture discarded along our paths.

   The Columbia Association has tried to scare people into not dumping items along our paths.
 Not sure if a sign will stop these people but it is better than nothing.
    One way to help eliminate some of these eyesores is to join a program that the County government has called "Adopt a Road."  As their website explains:
      "Volunteers are needed to monitor and pick up litter and other debris thrown onto our roadways by careless or irresponsible citizens. By volunteering to pick up litter at least four times a year on a selected road, you can make a tremendous impact on the appearance of your neighborhood, community and Howard County.

       Who can participate?
The Adopt-A-Road program is open to any individual, family or civic, business or church group located or residing within Howard County. Participants must be a minimum of 12 years old. Groups with members younger than 16 must be supervised by an adult (18 years or older). At least one adult is required for every five participants younger than 16.

     What am I expected to do?
You can request a road or section of road for adoption, or Highways can suggest one for you. However, for safety reasons, some roads may be ineligible for adoption (narrow shoulders, no shoulders, limited sight distances). Groups are requested to adopt a one- to three-mile section of a county road for a minimum of two years. Litter should be collected from your adopted road as needed, hopefully a minimum of four times a year with a major clean-up each spring."

   The County also offers a bulk pick up on your trash pick up day.
 



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Columbia Freecycle: Freecycle it --don't throw it out

      As the weather gets warmer the urge to do a little Spring cleaning will commence.  This doesn't have to be a time to make a trip to the landfill with all those items that have become clutter around the house.  The Columbia Freecycle is a great solution to rid yourself of those items which you no longer need.  I set this group up almost 10 years ago and it now has over 5000 members.  Almost all of the members are Howard County residents.
      For those of you unfamiliar with "freecylcing" it is simply an internet based website where you can post items that you want to give away.  Everything on the freecycle site has to be for free.  You can also request items that you would like to obtain.  Each post on the site identifies the area in which you live to help people determine if the item is worth the drive to pick up.  The person receiving the item has to pick it up.  The posting on the freecycle sight doesn't give your address or contact information.  You will receive an email from everyone interested in your item and you make the contact with the person to arrange a pickup.  You can even have the item left on your front step or porch it the pickup is when you weren't home or you are uncomfortable answering the door to someone you don't know.
    It is a mistake to think that only items of some value or in working order can be freecycled.  This wouldn't always be correct.  I freecycled some pine wood paneling that I pulled off my kitchen walls.  Many of the pieces were split or broken.  A gentleman who make wood picture frames was thrilled to have this wood I would have throw away.  People doing crafts are often people who will take scraps of anything you might have.
   In addition to getting rid of items you might be surprised items you might get for free.  Exercise equipment and kitchen appliances are things I have obtained.  Things like crockpots and bread machines are items frequently available.  You have to be quick to respond to the good items but if you are up for getting frequent emails when items are posted you can get amazing items.  You can select to get an email every time something is posted or daily digests.  Given that over 2000 items are posted each month the daily digest is the way most people sign up.  You can also not receive emails but can check the website on your own anytime.

Monday, February 18, 2013

BWI: No longer a low cost airport?

     When I search for flights I have always used Kayak for finding the best fares.  I also search on Southwest as they don't usually show up in the other airfare search engines. Southwest is supposed to be a low cost carrier but it has never been that for me.  It seems like the two carriers that have the best price for flights from BWI have been USAir and Airtran.  Of course this can depend on the city to which I am travelling but I probably use one of these two carriers 75% of the time.
     So what is going to happen as these two airlines merge?  The Airtran flight checkin has already been moved to the Southwest terminal as these two airlines move to merging. When you go to BWI the Southwest terminal is always crowded and the rest of the airport can look deserted. 75% of the flights from BWI go through the Southwest terminal.
      Now with the merger of Airtran with American Airlines another low cost airline will be consumed by a "legacy" carrier and you know that will not mean that they will try to be a low cost airline after the merger.  I know that other low cost carriers may look at BWI but will they fly to many cities?  Will we be forced to endure a trip to Dulles to get a good deal on a flight?  The idea of having to get on the Capitol Beltway to get to Dulles always makes me think twice about booking a flight from Dulles unless I can arrange the flight to avoid rush hours on the Beltway. Somehow that 20 minute trip to BWI seems to almost always win out over the dreaded trip to Dulles.
     Airline mergers seem to never have a benefit for the consumer.  Fewer choices mean high prices.  Low cost air flight seems to be something in the past.

P.S.
   The Seattle Times had an interesting article recently about how to time your reservation to get the lowest cost.  Seems like making your reservation about seven weeks before flying is the best.  Booking farther in advance isn't going to get the best deal.  Tuesdays are usually the best day to book a reservation. Saturdays are usually the best days to fly.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rudy's Mediterranean for Breakfast

  Chocolate pancakes
      Always on the lookout for new breakfast places I decided to try Rudy's Mediterranean Grill in Gateway.  I  had been there for dinner and noticed that they served breakfast all day.  With a variety of ethnic dishes at dinner I was anxious to try their breakfast.  After all even though it didn't look like a diner any place that had breakfast all day must be worth a try.  Going in at 7:30 on a Thursday morning we were the only diners for the entire time we were there.  Gateway has been a tough place for many restaurants to be successful.  Given that it is an active place for lunch with all the workers in Gateway, breakfast and dinner have always been slow for restaurants in the area.  Aida Bistro is probably the one exception to this rule.
 

      The Mediterranean omelette with hash browns pictured above was good but could have used more feta cheese. Definitely worth another visit to try other menu items.  Wished the breakfast choices had more ethnic variety.  Mostly just regular diner choices.
hocofood@@@

Friday, February 15, 2013

Howard County's Solar Buildings

    I was driving by the the new Savage Fire Department building off Route 1 and noticed the solar panels on top of the building.  
Bain Center
Central Library
    I have blogged about how the County built buildings back in the 1980's with roofs that were designed to have solar panels installed at some future date.  The Bain Center and Central Library were designed this way.  It is nice to see that solar panels are now being used on new buildings.
   It was also interesting to see that unlike in the 1980's buildings you don't have to have the roofs slanted at the right angle you can just use metal frames that position the panels at the right angle.


P.S.
From the Women's Giving Circle:

"Journey

Dates: July 14 –July 20,2013
Location: Washington College in Chestertown,MD
Eligibility: Journey is a specially designed program experience for young women from Howard County. It is sponsored by the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County. Eligible applicants are residents of Howard County and will be entering the 8th or 9th grade in the 2013-2014 academic year.
To Apply: Please download the 2013 Journey Application,complete it and return it to MLW,P.O. Box 1792,Germantown,MD 20875 by March 28,2013.
Cost and Scholarship Information: The cost of the camp is $700.  Financial assistance is available.  If you are interested,please complete the additional 2013 MLW Journey Scholarship Application and mail it to the address above by March 22,2013. Please note that for this program,scholarships are awarded by The Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County.
Applicants accepted for the program will be required to follow the Rules and Expectations (see 2012 rules here) for the program.
Description: At this unique program,each student identifies her own leadership skills,strengths,and weaknesses in a supportive and fun environment,which fosters increased self-esteem and confidence. This program is tailored to meet the needs and experiences of girls in middle and high school. Graduates of Journey are equipped with leadership skills to enhance their schools and communities.

2011 Journey Delegates and Staff

Journey program components include:
- Workshops on empowerment and motivation,communication,decision making skills,group dynamics,self-awareness,goal setting,and conflict resolution
- Small and large group projects for girls to apply and get feedback on their leadership and interpersonal skills
- One-on-one interactions between staff and girls to address specific areas of growth for the individual and identify an action plan for post-site implementation
- Recreational activities such as swimming and athletics and team building games and activities,including a Confidence Course
Applicants should have some previous experience in leading her peers,a willingness to try new experiences in a safe environment,and a desire to serve her community.
For more information about Journey or learning about the MLW Community Outreach Program,please contact office@mlw.org."

P.S. 1
If you are a biker you might want to fill out the Maryland survey for a Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Columbia's downtown plans: A missing ingredient

   With all the talk about the development of a "downtown" in Columbia I keep hoping that there will be features that go beyond the blandness of our current downtown.  I know that the old Rouse Company building is considered to be an interesting building from an architectural perspective but I have blogger before about how I miss color in downtown buildings.  Is there anything that could be considered a "signature" building that has unique style or features that would make you stop and look twice?
   Driving through Baltimore yesterday I was surprised to see mural, pictured above, on the side of a building at Pratt and Light street that looked like it was made out of living plants.  Most of it appeared to be moss and fern plants. How do you get a plant mural on the side of a building.  When I got home I googled around trying to find out more about this mural.  Having no luck I called the Downtown Baltimore office and was pleased to get the lowdown on this building plant mural.  The picture above is from the PNC Bank website. This is the description given in a Baltimore Sun article from last October:
     "Measuring 84 feet tall by 24 feet wide, the wall is made up of 504 vertical planters filled with a variety of ground-cover plants, including phlox, euonymus and pachysandra, all arranged to form the image of a tree with the PNC logo at its base.  At 2,016 square feet, it's slightly smaller than the one gracing PNC's corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh."
   These building mural walls are more than just attractive to look at.  They have the same environmental benefit that plants on the roofs of buildings.  The are great for filtering air pollutants, lessening noise pollution and cooling the surrounding areas.
   
 Thinking more about how this could be duplicated in Columbia my thought was that given the design of the former Rouse Company building, now to house a Whole Foods, plants on the balconies and walls could have the potential to be a signature building for our downtown.
P.S.
From Howard County Parks and Rec:

"Online camp registration opens to all non-Howard County residents at 6 PM. Out-of-county residents can register by other methods beginning tomorrow, Feb. 14. We offer more than 240 camps this summer -- everything from arts and crafts, science and technology to the widest range of sports in the area. Click below to view the Camp Guide online. Remember: some camps are discounted 10% if you register early, so don't delay!"

P.S.1
  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Evening in the Stacks Raffle

iPad     If you are not able to make it to the "Evening in the Stacks" fundraiser for the Howard County Library you can still support the Library by buying a raffle ticket.  Tickets available for sale at the branch - $5 each or 5 for $20 until this Friday February 15th. . Must be 18 or older to purchase tickets; need not be present to win.
     The grand prize is one 16GB iPad. Each branch raffle features two tickets to Evening in the Stacks on February 23, and a fabulous branch basket with items selected by staff from each branch.  The items in each branch's baskets are listed below.





Central Branch Basket


Branch Basket
Description: This basket includes something for everyone in the family. Includes a variety of games, DVDs, books, snacks, $25 gift cards to Red Robin, Best Buy, and AMC Movie, as well as an organizing tote from ThirtyOne, party napkins, a popcorn container and glasses, and a gorgeous handmade lap quilt.

Donated by: Staff of Howard County Library System Central Branch, Red Robin, and Amira Ink, LLC
Value: $330
East Columbia Branch Basket


 Branch Basket
Description: Visit some of Howard County's tastiest spots, with gift certificates from Fuddrucker's, Giant Food, Tino Bistro, and Union Jack's; and lunch for 2 at Leelyn's (up to $50). The basket also includes a bottle of Yellowtail merlot and Starbucks coffee and mug to enjoy at home.

Donated by: Fuddruckers, Giant Food, Leelyns, Starbucks, Tino's Bistro, Union Jack's, and Suki Lee
Value: $202


Elkridge Branch Basket


 Branch Basket
Description: Get ready for some family fun with a basket that includes a birthday party from Kids First Swim School, Chippy Chipmunk books (signed by author), a $50 gift certificate to Elkridge Furnace Inn, a $25 gift certificate to Pazani, a $25 gift certificate to Green Valley Marketplace, and 3 German wooden etching ornaments.

Donated by: Kids First Swim School, Elkridge Furnace Inn, Pazani, Green Valley Marketplace, and C. Patricia Keane.
Value: $455


Glenwood Branch Basket


Branch Basket
Description: Enjoy the best of Western Howard County, with a three month membership to the Gary J. Arthur Community Center, two tutoring sessions at Books With a Past, two $50 gift certificates to Smokin' Hot, two bottles of wine, and a stunning handmade knitted purse.

Donated by: Gary J. Arthur Community Center, Books With a Past, Salon Tusey, Smokin' Hot, Kathleen Schell, and Cindy Gerecht
Value: $367


Miller Branch Basket


Branch Basket
Description: Enjoy a taste of Ellicott City with gift cards for Su Casa, Jason's Wine & Spirits, Caffe Di Roma, Peace A Pizza, Waverly Framing, and Sugar Bakers Cakes; and a preferred guest certificate for Ellicott Mills Brewing Company. A five-pack of Timothy brand Keurig tea and 10 note cards featuring Miller Branch complete this fantastic package.

Donated by: Su Casa, Jason's Wine & Spirits, Caffe Di Roma, Peace A Pizza, Sugar Bakers Cakes, Waverly Framing and Ellicott Mills Brewing Company.
Value: $405


Savage Branch Basket



 Branch Basket
Description: Package includes favorites from Historic Savage Mill: 4 passes to TagParty RECON, a "pancake warmer" and a $25 gift certificate for Polish Pottery Mart, a $25 gift certificate to Rams Head Tavern, Party package for 6 children and/or adults to make a bracelet or earrings (valid until 12/31/13) at Bead Soup, $25 gift certificate to the Antique Center, $25 gift certificate good at any store at Historic Savage Mill, a bead and wire zebra art piece and a $15 gift certificate to Out of Africa (valid until 4/1/13), a card good for 5 classes at Savage Fit, and Line Up Memory Game.

Donated by: TagParty RECON, Polish Pottery Mart, Forever Yours Preservation and Framing, Rams Head Tavern, Bead Soup, Antique Center, Cathy Harville, Out of Africa, and Family Game Store.
Value: $476


P.S. 1

       Did you know that the HoCo Library sponsors the local spelling bee?  Come out and watch ninth annual HCLS Spelling Bee:

Date: March 8, 2013; 7 pm
Location: Reservoir High School

As a part of A+ Partners in Education, Howard County Library System (HCLS) invites public and private schools, as well as home school associations, to participate in the HCLS Spelling Bee, a countywide bee for students in grades four through eight. The HCLS Spelling Bee is registered with Scripps National as an official regional bee. The winners of individual school bees held in the fall and winter compete in the HCLS Spelling Bee in March. The champion advances to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.

The HCLS Spelling Bee is sponsored by BB&T and the Friends of Howard County Library, and organized under the rules of the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dredgers pull up at Lake Elkhorn

  About a week ago I happened to come across some workers with the dredging operation at Lake Elkhorn pulling up some of the pipes used in the dredging.  The workers said they were off to Florida where it was warmer.  I wasn't sure if they were done until I received an email from David Greisman at the Columbia Association today.
As David indicated:
         "Dredging has been completed at Lake Elkhorn, the last of Columbia’s three man-made lakes to have sediment removed over the past few years, according to Dennis Mattey, director of construction for Columbia Association (CA). JND Thomas began its dredging work at the 37-acre Lake Elkhorn began in late July 2012. The contractor finished in early February and is in the process of moving equipment off-site, with all equipment expected to be removed by early March. Restoration work associated with re-establishing the existing parking lot and pathways off Broken Land Parkway is expected to begin in mid to late March and be completed 75 days thereafter."

Monday, February 11, 2013

Can Howard County reach 100% recycling?


   We are all familiar with the recycling containers pictured above that the County has issued to homes here in Howard County.  Since the recycling program has started in Howard County the amount of trash that goes into landfills has been dramatically reduced.  I remember a time when I had more than 4 bags of trash to put out on trash day.  Now with recycling I sometimes don't have a full trash can.  Having the kids leave home did help with some of this!
     Did you know that the County is now experimenting with recycling food scraps?  According to the County website:
      "A large portion of the trash generated in Howard County is food scraps – according to a recent study, about 23% of Howard County’s trash is food scrap. That’s right – almost a quarter of what we send to the landfill is wasted food.
     Volunteer households in certain areas of Elkridge and Ellicott City are participating in the food scrap collection pilot program. The pilot program is on-going - if you are interested, you can still participate! Participants received a special food scrap collection cart that is emptied weekly on recycling day. "
    This pilot program that started in 2011 is currently collecting food scraps from 1,000 households in the Ellicott City and Elkridge areas.  It is presently being transported to a commercial composter in Delaware.  
       The County is currently working on a new facility at the Alpha Ridge landfill in Marriotsville to recycle food scraps to save money, have the recycled material for use in the County and to be able to expand the program. To see if you if you are in the pilot area and to sign up click here. 
    Recently I became aware of how the recycling of food scraps here is relatively new on the West Coast it has been going on for some time.  In fact San Francisco has a goal of being the first city in the US to recycle 100% of their trash.  According to the Mother Nature Network report:
"By 2020, the city has vowed to achieve zero waste. Waste reduction efforts range from a Styrofoam ban in restaurants, to prohibiting disposable plastic bags in large supermarkets and pharmacies, to pursuing wider markets and technologies for recycling."
“As with a lot of things that happen here in San Francisco, one reason we’re doing this is because we’d like other people to follow suit,” says Deanna Simon with the city’s Zero Waste program."

P.S.
  The County also has a Bulk Pickup.  Bulk items (such as large appliances, mattresses, or large pieces of furniture) and scrap metal must be scheduled. Call 410-313-6444 or visit the Bulk Item Collection webpage.

P.S. 1

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Football withdrawal Sunday

        I have to say that this Sunday seems somewhat flat without the excitement of a Ravens game.  The euphoria of the the past week seems like a distant memory.  Just a few last thoughts on the week's events.
    First it was hard not to see how the Super Bowl commentators were trying hard to play up Colin  Kaepernick as the future of quarterbacks in the NFL.  Football prognosticators  have been predicting that mobile quarterbacks are the future since Fran Tarkenton played in the 1960's.  Yes it is exciting to see a quarterback scramble and run like a Michael Vick or a RGIII but can you remember a quarterback with their style winning a Super Bowl?  The drop back quarterback like Joe Flacco is still the model of the most successful quarterbacks.
    Second, after snubbing Baltimore twice in awarding new franchises, the Baltimore Ravens give the NFL a thumb in the eye by winning two Super Bowls and having 250,000 people out on Tuesday to celebrate.  Really, were Jacksonville and Charlotte better football towns?  I just wished someone would have pointed this out to Commissioner Goodell on Sunday.  Baltimore has enough unfair image problems without the NFL looking at them as a second rate city for a franchise.  Baltimore realized the only way they would get back into the NFL was to steal a team from another city.

P.S.
   My daughter, who lives in San Francisco, said that everyone in that city can't accept that they were beaten by a better team.  They apparently feel that they will just have to wait another year and the Super Bowl win they should of had this year will be theirs.  She also said that there have been many insults of the city of Baltimore in the local media.  Folks in San Francisco can be snobby about their city.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Proposed Patuxent Branch Trail Extension to Downtown Columbia



     Last Thursday night the Howard County Planning Board held a hearing on a proposed new trail that would connect the Town Center area of Columbia with the existing County trail that runs parallel to the Patuxent River to Savage.

    The proposed trail will run along the same land as the new sewer line that was installed a couple of years ago. This trail has been identified as the number one priority in the Connecting Columbia plan developed by the Columbia Association.  The Planning Board approved a feasibility study for the trail.
The land above just below Toby's Dinner Theater is where the proposed trail would start and run parallel to Route 29.
The trail would follow Route 29 down to the Brokenland overpass where it would go under Route 29.
After going under Stevens Forest Road it would follow the river down the right side of the picture above.
      The trail would then follow the river along the edge of Allview down to a point where it would connect up with the existing trail to Savage.  The clearing of the land to install the sewer line provides an opportunity to use this cleared land for a recreational use and provide bikers with a scenic trail to connect one side of Columbia to the other without having to cross any streets.  As someone who has followed and participated in the meetings of the Connecting Columbia efforts of the Columbia Association to make Columbia more bike friendly this trail seems like a wonderful opportunity that shouldn't be missed.  I will be following the process as it proceeds and let everyone know how to advocate to make this trail a reality.

P.S.

   Aren't we all glad we don't live in Boston today?  OK maybe not for you snow lovers out there. 
 I will take our rain yesterday. This is the picture I took this morning in my yard.

P.S 1.
From the American Association of University Women:

"On March 23, AAUW Howard County will host a Practice SAT Exam for middle and high school students at Vantage House auditorium, 5400 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, MD 21044. The Princeton Review will administer the practice exam and lead a Scores Back Session on April 20 at Vantage House. The practice SAT is held from 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and the Scores Back session is from 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Total cost is $15 for this fundraiser with proceeds going to the AAUW Howard County scholarship fund. Send cash or a check made payable to AAUW Howard County to Amy Robinson, 5563 Nettlebed Court, Columbia, MD 21045. Pre-registration and pre-payment are required. Register at www.PrincetonReview.com/events.
Contact The Princeton Review at 800- 273-8439 for questions about the test and the Scores Back session. For other questions, email AAUWHoCoMembers@gmail.com."

P.S. 2
    Spring is just around the corner (unless you live in New England!) and I received this information on the Maryland Home and Garden Show:


Maryland Home & Garden Show Presents New Gardens, Pros and Shows, March 2, 3 & 8-10

New features are sprouting up at the Spring 2013 Maryland Home & Garden Show. More than 300 home improvement exhibitors – with everything from decks and patios to kitchens and baths, from cabinets and countertops to hot tubs and water proofing will join local and national experts at the two weekend show. Taking place at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3, and Friday, March 8 through Sunday, March 10, the show will introducevisitors to resources for their home and garden projects, get expert advice at seminars and shows, and purchase live blooms at the plant marketplace.

Films in Flowers
As the featured attraction, local landscapers will transform the Cow Palace at the Maryland State Fairgrounds into a Hollywood wonderland. Based on the theme “Films in Flowers,” 16 fully-landscaped gardens will depict cinema classics, including “The Great Gatsby,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Caddy Shack.” These elaborately designed gardens complete with flowers, patios, fire pits and water features will allow visitors to see first-hand what’s possible in their own outdoor spaces.

Ask the Experts!
Alongside the hundreds of local exhibitors and resources, the Show will present nationally-recognized experts offering their unique advice. During the first weekend of the Show, award-winning TV personality and columnist Dr. Lori will offer her humorous, yet honest, opinion of visitor’s attic treasures, family hand-me-downs and flea-market finds at scheduled presentations.

In appearances throughout the second show weekend, Brian Santos, known as the “Wall Wizard,” will offer his expert advice on working with wallpaper, paint and faux finishes. Visitors will learn his painting secrets, including the type of roller to use when smoothing textured walls, how to properly clean and paint old tarnished bricks and how to clean a paint brush in ten seconds or less.

Interior design professionals from the American Society of Interior Designers will also be on-site offering complimentary consultations to guide visitors in their home decorating adventures.

The Shows within the Show
Within the Maryland Home & Garden Show, special sections will offer one-of-a-kind products and displays. The Maryland Spring Craft Show will feature more than 125 craftspeople selling their unique handmade creations.

Orchid enthusiasts will not want to miss the Maryland Orchid Society Show and Sale during the second weekend of the Show, March 8-10, in Horticulture Hall. This perennial favorite will display thousands of beautiful blooms for visitors to peruse and purchase.

Also during the second weekend of the Show, the Baltimore Bonsai Club will present the Bonsai Show and Sale. Those interested in miniature gardening can participate in educational exhibits and learn how to maintain and style bonsai.

Garden Preview Party
The Maryland Home & Garden Show will host the third annual Garden Preview Party benefiting Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake on Friday, March 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. The red carpet will be rolled out for Habitat’s most frequent volunteers, and guests can enjoy live music, lite fare and an exclusive sneak peek of the Show’s 16 beautifully-designed garden displays. Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake brings people together to build decent, affordable homes that change lives, empower families and strengthen the community. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door. To purchase tickets online, visitwww.habitatchesapeake.org.

Show Information
The Maryland Home & Garden Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road in Timonium, will be open two weekends: Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, March 3, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and the following weekend:  Friday, March 8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, March 9, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, March 10, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $3 for kids ages 6-12, and free for children under 6 years old. Admission to the Maryland Spring Craft Show only is $6. Free parking is available onsite and a free shuttle is available between buildings courtesy of Chesapeake Home and Living.

Ticket discounts are available online at www.mdhomeandgarden.com/spring and from participating Pizza Hut locations. Receive $2 off a ticket purchase at the door with a valid IKEA Family card.

The Maryland Home & Garden Show is sponsored by M&T Bank.

For more information on the Maryland Home & Garden Show, visit www.mdhomeandgarden.com/spring or call (410) 863-1180.