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Friday, October 31, 2014

Howard County Library to host Hi Tech Symposium

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

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

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

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

Details and Registration:
Visit hclibrary.org/hitech_events
Call 410.313.7750

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


P.S.
     Why I am proud to live in Maryland!

P.S.1
Lake Elkhorn yesterday



#hocoblogs

Thursday, October 30, 2014

4 ways for Maryland to increase voting options

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

#hocoblogs

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

8 things I will never understand about our culture

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

Shrines at the scene of fatal accidents

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

Decals representing family makeup

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

Calvin and Hobbes peeing decals

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

Scrapple

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

Hummer drivers 

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

The love of guns

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

High heels

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


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

United Way Harvest of Plenty for Thanksgiving

 

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

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

#hocoblogs

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Village in Howard begins

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



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

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

#hocoblogs

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Now is the time for a visit to the Skyline Drive


     Somehow a visit to Skyline Drive in Virginia is something I wanted to do the past few autumns but never got around to it until last weekend.  The best news is that it is something that can be done in a day trip.  The start of the Skyline Drive in Front Royal Virginia on the weekend is just a 90 minute drive from Columbia.  The views are more than worth the drive this time of year.  Last weekend the trees had not reached their peak but this weekend and next should be a good time for a visit.


  The road winds its way alone the mountain tops of many ridges in the Shenandoah National Park




   An added bonus for a visitor is the chance to hike on the Appalachian Trail. The Trail crosses the Drive at a number of points.


  The trail surface is somewhat rocky in some parts but nothing too difficult


  The views from the trail are worth the hike.



P. S.

   For those who would like to make a weekend out of your visit a trip 30 minutes down from Front Royal is Luray, Virginia and the Luray Caverns.



Friday, October 24, 2014

Why was I outside a building in downtown Baltimore at 5:15 a.m. yesterday?

   You may have noticed that I didn't post a blog yesterday.  Instead I was waiting outside the University of Maryland Dental School Urgent Care Clinic in the dark at 5:15 am waiting with a neighbor of mine who had a severely infected tooth.  Here is the background to that situation.
     Five months ago my neighbor lost his job and then his car for lack of payments.  Having a middle class life in Columbia can change so quickly.  About six weeks ago he started having pain with a tooth and had tried doctoring it with salt water rinses but the pain and infection were only getting worse.  A couple of days ago he mentioned that he had even tried to pull the tooth with some pliers but nothing worked.  I told him I would call around to see what resources I could find to get inexpensive dental care.  I had some idea of the challenge with getting dental care for people without insurance and little money.
     I started by calling the United Way 211 Information and Referral Service to see what I could come up with.  They gave me three possible resources.  The first was a dental foundation where dentists volunteer their time for dental emergencies.  I call this resource but found out there were no resources in our area and the few dentists they had in other areas couldn't see my neighbor very quickly.  Next I tried Chase Brexton which has a dental clinic in Columbia.  This seemed promising as they could see my neighbor that day and they were only a couple of miles away.  Driving my neighbor there was easy and the $100 cost seemed affordable.  Unfortunately my neighbor's infection had gone into his jaw so they were not equipped to pull the tooth in that condition.  After striking out twice on resolving the problem he was down to the last choice of the University of Maryland Dental School.  They told me that it was first come first serve at their Urgent Dental Care office and that the clinic provided services starting at 9 am.  I asked what time we needed to get there to be sure to be treated.  I was told that people start lining up outside their door between 5 am and 5:30 am.  So now you know why I was outside that door yesterday at 5:15 am.  We were the first in line.
     Being a good blogger I couldn't help striking up a conversation with some of the other 10 people in line.  After some general conversation about the cool weather I heard a little of their circumstances that led them to be there waiting in line.  The openness of a one person seemed to make others comfortable comparing how the can to being in line. A couple had been there the day before in the rain and found out they hadn't come early enough to be treated. One man was someone who traveled around the country laying flooring tile without any insurance.  He seemed to have many of his teeth missing and he said he was there to have the rest of his teeth pulled and eventually get dentures.  He hoped they could pull all 10 of his remaining teeth.  Another young man with a foreign accent was a student at a local college on a student visa.  Each of the people that spoke that morning talked about how they had hoped the problem would go away or how they had tried to correct the problem themselves.
     6 am came and in we went to wait inside.  At 7:30 a staff person handed out instructions and waiver papers.  We were told that to be treated you needed a picture ID and the cost of treatment would be $150.  Two people left because I assumed they didn't have one of these two requirements.  It was hard not to think about what those two would do next.   This resource seems to be the last resort for most people.  The good news is that my neighbor had his tooth pulled and yesterday he happily said it was the first time he had been almost pain free in a long time.
     I couldn't help but think of how different my neighbor's experience was to the one I had last week when a had a small chip broke off one of my teeth.  As someone who has always had great medical coverage and affordable dental insurance I called up my dentist's office and was asked if was causing me any discomfort or problem.  Not really I said.  Could I come in to the office in 3 hours?  Sure, that was no problem.  Three hours later I walked out with a new filling repair.  I know from other fillings I will have a $25 co-pay.  Somehow I felt a little guilty with having a minor dental issue resolved so quickly when so many other people in more serious situations had to wait in the cold in the very early morning hoping they had arrived early enough to receive treatment.
   
#hocoblogs

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Elections turn negative in last few weeks

    One of the nice things about having a DVR is that in addition to being able to watch TV programs when you want you can also skip through the commercials.  This is especially nice with the campaign season now in full swing were half the commercials are for political candidates.  However not having a DVR this past weekend, on a trip to Front Royal Virginia, forced me to watch the negative political commercials from Virginia candidates.
     It has been a belief of political consultants that voters still undecided at this point in the election cycle are more likely to vote against someone than to vote for someone.  For this reason most political ads from now till election day will be heavily weighed toward the negative side.  Scaring voters about your opponents beliefs is all we will get.  I saw commercials warning voters that one candidate believes that being a mother is not really a job and another candidate offered a possible job as a federal judge .
    If you haven't made up you mind on who you want to vote for in Maryland yet I would suggest that you not listen to any of the negative ads or mailers that you may see.  They won't address the real issues or positions of the candidates.  This is especially true for those that come out a couple of days before the election.  These ads are the most false because they know that it is so close to the election that there will be no time to refute the charges.  If you want to know what the candidates real positions are check out their websites before making any decision on which candidate to vote for.  Here are some links to candidates websites for Howard County Executive and Maryland Governor.

Allan Kittleman
Courtney Watson

Anthony Brown
Larry Hogan

P.S.
    Notice how the attacks on the Affordable Health Care program have been very muted by opponents of the program?  Wasn't this supposed to be a major issue in the mid-terms?  Maybe it is hard to attach something that has benefited so many voters.  Or maybe the attackers are waiting for the appearance of the "death panels" that they warned us would come.

P.S.
    I have never understood undecided voters when you have a race that presents two candidates with such different agendas and political views.  I suspect that often undecided voters are just the least informed voters who may not make their voting choices on a rational basis (i.e. oppose Obamacare but support the Affordable Health Care program without realizing they are the same thing).  You can be independent in your political choices just don't be independent because you are uninformed.

#hocoblogs

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When wrong proportionality defines a crisis

     We now have an Ebola czar when the number of Americans that have died from Ebola is zero.  Ebola is a serious health care issue that has to be addressed before it becomes a significant issue in our Country.  However, every year in our Country 45,000 people die from a preventable cause yet no national czar has been appointed to address this health crisis.  The 45,000 die from a lack of health insurance to receive medical treatment.   The irony is that many of the same elected officials calling for an Ebola czar are the same officials who have tried to demonize the Affordable Heath Care program by labeling it Obamacare and have stopped getting a new Surgeon General appointed.  It is hard to know exactly how well the new Affordable Health Care program will lower the 45,000 unnecessary deaths but the reduction in the number of uninsured in our Country would seem to be a first step in addressing the issue.  I just wish the 24 hour news cycle found it as sexy to talk about a crisis that exists today as much as they like to drive our fear of a potential crisis with Ebola.  All I am saying is that setting priorities on using our public dollar resources in addressing health care needs should bare some resemblance to the size of the problem.

P.S.
  Reminder for tonight:

Meet the Author  sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library System.




    " Drawing on the lives of five great scientists, Dr. Mario Livio illuminates the path to scientific discovery through its inevitable missteps. An internationally acclaimed astrophysicist, popular lecturer, and bestselling author, Livio presents his New York Times bestseller, Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein -- Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe. Books available for purchase and signing."


HCLS CENTRAL BRANCH (410.313.7800)
Tuesday, Oct 21
7 - 8:30 pm


Monday, October 20, 2014

Is Howard County too wealthy?

      We all know that we live in a wealthy county. But when is a good thing so much that it develops a significant downside?  Can you ever be too healthy or too wealthy?  Forbes magazine listed us as the fourth wealthiest county in the Country with a median income of $108,000. It is no wonder that every upscale retailer wants to open a store in our County.  Our location, close to DC and the federal government, and highly educated population certainly has a lot to do with our wealth.  In fact, 4 of the 5 wealthiest counties in the Country are in the DC area.  Quick question--which county has a higher median income, Fairfax County Virginia or Howard County?  If you guessed Fairfax you are wrong ($108,000 Howard County, $106,000 Fairfax).  Montgomery County doesn't even make the list of the top 10.
    So is there a downside to being a wealthy county?  That thought occurred to me on a recent bike ride through Western Howard County. It was not hard to notice the fact that modest homes built there in the 1950's and 60's are being replaced by homes in the $500,000+ range.  It is a little strange to see an older 1000 sq ft home next to a 6,000 sq ft home but it tells you where we are headed in our County's housing stock--at least in Western Howard County.
       It seems that new reasonably priced starter homes are a thing of the past.  The affordable homes that Ryland and others sold in Columbia in the 1970's provided young families with an opportunity to buy a new home to start a family on a modest salary.  Those options today seem much more limited.  Buying an older home in a school district that has low test scores maybe the only way to find an affordable home today.  The choice seems to be between affordability and being in one of the "desirable" school districts.  The idea of having diversity of housing choices seems to have been diminished starting sometime in the 1980's as Columbia and Howard County became a desirable place to live.  This desirability certainly pushed builders to want to maximize their profit by building larger more expensive housing.  I have blogged before about a small rancher in Oakland Mills (one of those "California ranchers" so common in our early villages) being replaced by a $500,000 brick colonial when the original rancher burned down.  Today even the small remaining out parcels in Columbia usually have larger colonials squeezed together with very small yards.  Is the finding of the 2010 Census showing that the only age group that had declined from the 2000 Census in Howard County was the 0 to 4 age group.  Some of this may just be a result of couples having smaller families but I wonder if it also reflects the lack of affordable starter homes.  I remember moving into our new affordable starter home in the late 1970's and 90% of us having kids in this age group within the first couple of years.  We got to know all of our neighbors because we had to be out watching our young kids as they rode their big wheels up and down the sidewalks.
      What we see today is the older villages of Columbia that were built with affordable homes and apartments carrying an increasingly disproportionate share of our County's affordable housing.  This has led to a stigmatizing of certain villages, neighborhoods and school districts.  This trend is hard to reverse once these perceptions become ingrained.


   Ask any realtor  about the number of families looking to buy a home in Howard County and they will tell you that usually the first requirement is to only show them homes in the desirable school districts.  The cycle of desirable schools creating desirable neighborhoods has a profound impact on how our County can continue to provide for the diversity of our population.  It is not diversity to only have a mixture of high performing schools and low performing schools, some desirable neighborhoods and some undesirable neighborhoods.  The challenge going into the future for our County is to provide that diversity in every community and school in our County.  This may have to start by having affordable new homes for young families.  Often it seems if we are moving in the opposite direction.
   

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How long has it been since you have seen this gas price?


   Price of gas at Sam's Club in Laurel yesterday.  Gas Buddy actually had another gas station in Laurel at Ft. Meade Road at $2.82 yesterday.  Of course the cheapest gas in Columbia is still around $3.20.   Route 1 in Howard County has some stations at $2.99 and Costco was the cheapest gas at $2.93.  Maybe the gas price will compensate for the rough ride that stocks have taken recently.

P.S.
   Anyone feel sorry for Exxon with the price of a barrel of gas being $18 less since mid August?

#hocoblogs

Friday, October 17, 2014

22 maps that surprise you

   

    Most of the news stories that you see posted on Facebook are not worth linking to but every once in a while there is one that is worth linking on to read.  This week I did read one of those stories that was interesting enough to pass along.  I am sure that it has been out there on Facebook for a while so you may have already seen it.  If you have ever wonder who is the richest person in your state or wonder which other countries in the world still don't use the metric system or which country has the oldest population now you can know these facts by looking at one of these maps.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

So how responsive is HoCo Government?


    You might remember that I blogged a couple of weeks ago about a dead tree allow a County maintained path.  Using the new Tell HoCo app I informed the County of this dead tree that potentially could fall on someone using the path.  I was pleased with the quick response to my posting this issue using the new app.  I said I would follow up to see when the tree might be dealt with.


    Going by that area yesterday you can see that the problem has been addressed by cutting down the tree.


Other areas along the path also had dead trees cut down


   We all know we have a great County by our schools, library and healthy economy but I would like to add to that list a responsive County Government.

P.S.
#hocoblogs

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

HoCo Library presents speaker on how to learn from our mistakes

Meet the Author  sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library System.




    " Drawing on the lives of five great scientists, Dr. Mario Livio illuminates the path to scientific discovery through its inevitable missteps. An internationally acclaimed astrophysicist, popular lecturer, and bestselling author, Livio presents his New York Times bestseller, Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein -- Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe. Books available for purchase and signing."


HCLS CENTRAL BRANCH (410.313.7800)
Tuesday, Oct 21
7 - 8:30 pm


P.S.

Howard County Office of Children’s Services Offers ‘Conscious Discipline’ Workshops for Parents of Young Children

"The Family Institute will present two workshops for parents and guardians raising young children. Conscious Discipline is applicable to all ages, including adults, but the workshops mostly focus on age 2 through 12 years.

Fusses and Fits:
   In the busy shuffle of day to day life, children’s meltdowns can get in the way. There has to be a better way to survive these daily schedule-stopping battles. Learn how to reduce stress by addressing a child’s emotional state before addressing behavior. Build your knowledge of child development principles which have a dramatic impact on the discipline process. Learn and practice the 3-step process which links emotions, thoughts and actions.
Monday, October 27th from 6:30-8:30 at 3300 North Ridge Rd #240 Ellicott City, MD 21043. Cost: $8


Setting Limits Without Guilt:
   There are many different parenting styles. Some may be too firm and some may be too lenient. What is the right balance and how do you keep your relationship intact with your child while making sure they do the right thing? Create stronger adult-child connections to support emotional/mental health while learning: brain-body-heart connections which relate to emotional growth, the chemical basis for how and why to shift from relying on fear to relying on love in discipline, and strategies to use when life does not go as we planned or expected. See how this shift creates stronger adult-child connections, which supports emotional/mental health.  This 2 Part Series is held on Monday, Dec 1st and Monday Dec 8th from 6:30-8:30pm at 3300 North Ridge Rd #240, Ellicott City MD 21043. Cost $15

For more information or to register, please call 410-313-1940 or visit www.howardcountymd.gov/children to register on line."

#hocoblogs

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Volunteers needed to monitor water quality in local streams


   
 How well do you know the water quality of local streams?   The Howard County Watershed Management Academy is looking for volunteers to help monitor the quality of the water in Howard County streams. A new app has been developed to do this monitoring.

      Here is the information on the trainings offered this week on the use of the app.

"Learn about the Office of Environmental Sustainability’s (OES) newly developed application for your smart phone. The stream mAPPer is a smart phone app that allows you to monitor streams in as little as 5 minutes. Come to the OES public training session to learn how to use the stream mAPPer! Light snacks will be provided.

There will be 6 Sessions in the few days at County Libraries --"


#hocomd

P.S.

The Baltimore Sun group is hosting a County Executive debate tonight at the Miller Library.

P.S.1Someone sent this to me yesterday and it did make me think about our recent headlines.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Ranking Maryland on 10 quality of life areas

   The Washington Post recently had a story from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that measured each state on 10 quality of life areas.  It is difficult to measure a state like Maryland which has such diversity in living environments.  Howard County and the Maryland counties around DC have high levels of education, income and quality of life.  These results are lowered by a high level of poverty in Baltimore and the Eastern Shore.  This report simply shows the impact of poverty on the quality of life. States without large cities with high levels of poverty (i.e New Hampshire) will naturally score higher.  Not surprising the worst performing states were congregated in the South.  The best states congregate in New England.
     Maryland scored low on safety.  This had to be impacted by the crime rate in Baltimore.  We also scored low in having a clean environment (traffic pollution?).  We score higher in jobs and broadband connection. Overall we rank in the middle of the pack.
 

P.S.
 I wonder how Rick Perry spins the fact that Texas is the most polluted state in the United States in his Presidential run? Maybe this is what he means by having a business friendly state.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Tell HoCo" App works

    I have blogged before on the new "Tell HoCo" app that is a convenient way to get the County to respond to an issue.   Last week I decided to try it and see how well it works.


    The tree above along a County path is dead and I have been waiting for it to come down in a wind storm.  After taking a picture of the tree and sending it to the County using the app I got a quick reply that it was assigned to a County employee to address.  Within a couple hours I got another email that it was given to a County contractor to remove.  I will wait to see how long it is to take down but the response was very good. Try the app and see how it works.  Again it might be good for other organizations to develop to an app like this to be responsive.

 P.S.
    The Choose Civility presentation is being live streamed on the Library's  You
Tube channel.

#hocoblogs

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Google and wind power come to our beaches


      With the smaller crowds at the beach in the Fall Google Maps streetview descended on Rehoboth and Dewey Beach this week.   They prefer these times because they don't want people in the pictures.  They have to blur out faces when there are people in their street view pictures.


     We were on the beach when the vehicle stopped by us and we began to wave thinking maybe we would be in the street view.


No luck they just put a stake in the ground to mark where they would have to come back when there were no people.


   They update their street views of the beach every year or two.


   With this week's clear weather the horizon was clear enough to make out objects on the horizon. Looking north along the horizon it seemed as if there were buildings on the horizon.  Could they be buildings at Cape May New Jersey?  Getting out my telephoto lens the picture above shows that they are not buildings but windmills being built off the Delaware coast.  



   Not to be outdone it looks like Maryland is moving ahead with our planned windmills off of Ocean City.  Above is a foggy view of a structure that maybe related to the windmill construction.
     The times they are a changin' at the beach.

P.S.

   Lunar eclipse this morning.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Can Civility and Good Sportsmanship Coexist???

Could there be a timely topic with what has occurred recently in the sports world?  Is the aggression brought out and encouraged in many sports in conflict with good sportsmanship?
 From the Library:

Choose Civility Symposium
THE BALL'S IN YOUR COURT:
Can Civility and Sports Coexist?
October 9, 2014
Joe Ehrmann
Adult behavior exerts a profound influence on children’s success in sports. It can make or break a student athlete’s performance. Is the pressure to win, the competition for scholarship dollars, and mounting aggression on the court and field eroding the time-honored code of good sportsmanship? What does it really take to succeed in today’s sports environment?
Whether you are a fan, parent, coach, athlete, or interested observer, join this fascinating discussion exploring teamwork, leadership, role models, sportsmanship, and competition, featuring NPR’s Korva Coleman in conversation with:
  • former NFL star (and Baltimore Colt) Joe Ehrmann,
  • sports psychology expert Amanda Visek from George Washington University,
  • Mt. Hebron High School Athletics and Activities Manager Jeannie Prevosto, and
  • Winston DeLattiboudere III, a student athlete from Howard High School.
Books available for purchase and signing.
Unable to attend in person? Participate remotely by:
When: 
Thursday, October 9, 2014
6:30 – 8:30 pm    Panel discussion
8:30 – 9 pm         Reception and books sales and signing
Where: 
Howard County Library System, Miller Branch
9421 Frederick Road in Ellicott City
Sponsors: 
Event Partners:
Columbia Association; Friends of Howard County Library System; HoCoBlogs; Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine; M&T Bank; Nicodemus Communications Group; Henry and Nancy Yee.
Baltimore Sun Media Group, Columbia Association, Girls on the Run, HCYP, Howard Community College, Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks, Howard County Public School System, SAC, Special Olympics, and Voices for Change.
Register:
Questions: 
hclibrary.org  (preferred, not required)
#hocoevents

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I must be getting old!

   
 

 Friday night I stopped by the Sears in the Columbia Mall to get a spark plug for a leaf blower.  Of course parking near the Sears upper level entrance was impossible on a Friday evening.  I went down to the lower level and went into the merchandise pick up entrance.  Winding my way through the lower level to the escalator I took note of the area around the escalator.  Getting the spark plug took me about 10 minutes and I was back down on the lower level and out the entrance to the parking lot.  I had parked down a row right out of the entrance and only about 5 cars in from the road.   I looked for my car and started to become concerned that I couldn't find my car.  Up and down the rows I went and still no car.  I began to have the fear that my car had been stolen!  First a dramatic call to my family that I needed a ride home and then a call to the police to report a stolen vehicle.  I was told to watch for a police car that would meet me at the entrance to the merchandise pick up.  I even started calculating how much I would get from insurance and how much I might need to buy another car.
       I waited about 5 minutes when I noticed a police car pull up to an entrance just around the corner from where I was at.  Walking over to the police car I suddenly realized I had walked out of the wrong entrance!!!  A sense of excitement rose up in me as I considered that my car was now in the parking spot where I had left it.  Sure enough there was my car in the place I had parked it.  Now with a red face I went to the police person to report to my embarrassment what I had done.  They were there with a couple of other people who I assumed were managers of the Sears store.  When I told them what had happened they laughed, said they were happy to hear that I found my car and said it wasn't the first time this has happened.
 
P.S.
    One more irony to this story is that before I went into the Sears store I had tried to help a man who had gone into the Mall so quickly that he wasn't paying attention to where he had parked his car.  Just as I was about to help him look for his car he spotted his car.  I know that we have all probably had this experience.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Apple picking time at Larriland


        Larriland Farms now has Empire apples ready to pick and they are very good.  Semi tart apples that are great to eat and use in pies.  Golden Delicious are also available.


     Tomatoes are still available and plentiful too.



#Hocoblogs


Friday, October 3, 2014

Wood fired pizza at Whole Foods


     My first exposure to a Whole Foods store years ago was their flagship store in Austin Texas pictured above.  Two floors of amazing food choices and so many prepared food choices.  Needless to say this flagship store is bigger than any other store.  So when the store in Columbia was announced I was interested in what size it would be and how many food offerings would there be.


 I had always remembered the wood fired pizza at the Austin store and was glad to see this offered at our Columbia store.


 For my money wood fired pizza is the best.  Earlier this week I finally got around to trying the pizza at Whole Foods.


   There were a number of pizzas sold by the slice and almost any combination of toppings if you ordered a whole pizza.  For me the slices of the Hawaiian and a veggie pizza were hit the spot for me.  I will be back for a whole margarita pizza soon.  With the other lunch offerings I am sure this will be a frequent lunch stop in the future.

#hocofood