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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The 11th Annual Bike About has been rescheduled for This Saturday, September 3, 2011.

The Columbia Association’s (CA) 11th annual BikeAbout and Town Center walking
tour will be held on Saturday, September 3 at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront.
Participants in the BikeAbout may begin the ride anytime between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.
The Town Center
walking tour will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Rain forced cancellation of the event originally scheduled for May 14.
This year’s BikeAbout route will take riders through Town Center, Wilde Lake,
Harper’s Choice and Hickory Ridge, highlighting history in Harper’s Choice and
the Middle Patuxent Valley and traversing some of the most picturesque pathways
in Hobbit’s Glen and Clary’s Forest.
Walkers will follow a route to Oakland Mills, explore a historic cemetery and outdoor
sculpture as well as the art and architecture in Town Center.

BikeAbout, organized by CA’s Columbia Archives and Open Space Division is a popular
event drawing several hundred bicyclists annually. The route takes advantage of Columbia’s extensive pathways while uncovering the area’s historic and natural beauty.
Signage and guides at key stops make this not just another bike ride.
It is also a tour that helps area residents discover the history of where they live.

Pre-registration for BikeAbout is encouraged. Registration forms are available here;
CA headquarters, located at 10221 Wincopin Circle; and Columbia Archives,
located at 10227 Wincopin Circle. For more information, please contact
Barbara Kellner at 410-715-3103 or

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Someone you should know—Keith Ferris Aviation Artist

I was talking with Nancy Huggins the Chief of Staff of the Central Maryland Regional Transit the other week and am always on the lookout for stories about interesting people.  She mentioned that her Father was an aviation artist that had painted some of the art in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  This past week I had a chance to talk with Keith Ferris her Dad.

How do you become an “aviation artist?”  It helps to grow up in an Air Force family and hanging around planes growing up at Kelly Airfield in San Antonio.  Keith planned on following his father’s footsteps and become a pilot.  In 1937 there were only 1600 pilots in the military and 16,000 soldiers in the Army Air Corps. The Air Force didn’t become a separate branch of the military until after WWII in 1947.

Unfortunately an allergy to eggs would prevent him from having that opportunity.  His energy was then directed into art and as a mostly self-taught artist he channeled his interest in planes into this new area. While enrolled at Texas A&M he had an opportunity to paint some pictures of planes for training manuals at Randolph Air Force Base. This is when he saw his first jet plane.

Aviation art was not something that was widely practiced and he had opportunities open up for him when he moved to New York where many of the aircraft manufacturers and trade publications were headquartered.  He took every opportunity to learn more about photography, printing and art. He soon found himself directing other plane artist on the technical aspects of planes.  Soon he had a number of plane manufacturers contacting him to work creating art of their planes.  Working in a freelance basis for over 50 years has provided him with an enjoyable career. 

His career received a big boost when he was accepted into the Society of Illustrators that brought him in contact with many famous illustrators in the country.  As the Air Force began to use illustrators he became one of the most used illustrators.  The only problem was that the Air Force didn’t pay for the art.  That was soon rectified when the aircraft companies like Pratt and Whitney and Lockheed paid him for doing the paintings that he donated to the Air Force.  The thing Keith is very proud of is the formation of the American Society of Aviation Artists of which he was President for many years.
 You can see some of Keith’s work when you visit the Air and Space Museum in DC. His painting is the one in the WWII exhibit area of the B-17 Thunderbird bomber.  The photo above is that photo. During WWII the B-17 flew many missions over Europe and many of the crews never returned from those missions.

Today much of his art is available for purchase online. 

Information to share
JOB CLUB Tuesday, September 6th at 10am—Open to all Adults. FREE -
Job clubs are designed to motivate job seekers and connect them with
needed resources to expand their network to land their ideal job. Space is
limited, you must RSVP to reserve your spot by Friday prior to the job
club. Contact Cindy 410-799-1097 ext. 300 or e-mail -
Held the first Tuesday's of the month - Pinnacle Empowerment Center, 8180
Lark Brown Road, Ste. 301, Elkridge, MD 20175

P.S. 2
It finally happened yesterday. A "flamethrower" posted a comment to the blog.  This is a term that describes a person who decides to use a blog to "post over the top" comments. I certainly encourage anyone to post a comment when you disagree with something I post.  But keep the post about the area of disagreement and not to get personal in your comment.  I have decided to moderate the comments of this blog.  So "anonymous" you might as well go to another blog to "monitor" its content. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Is Investing only about maximizing your dollar return?

One of the fallacies of making an impact in a meaningful way is that you have to be a wealthy person to be a philanthropist.  You don’t have to be a Warren Buffet to make a social impact. Small amounts invested wisely can made a significant impact.

As we watch the stock market rocket up and down in the past few weeks I can’t help but feel that money I have invested through a financial advisor is being used like chips in a casino by crazy gamblers.  Is there any sanity in investing these days?  The housing collapse caused by reckless traders has destroyed many lives of average Americans and put our country into the most precarious financial position since the Great Depression. So what is the answer?  Maybe it is time to look at our investing in a whole different light.  Maybe we should find a way to use our investments to grow at a slower safer pace and do a social good. 

I have blogged about the Enterprise Impact Notes before and want to expand on the theme today.  This past week I had a chance to talk with Andy Loving from Just Money Advisors.  They work with individuals that want to invest inline with their social values. As their website explains,
The clients at Just Money Advisors tend to be people of deep commitments, people who work for peace, look for ways to create more justice in the world, make choices that minimize their negative environmental impact. They come to the financial planning process with strongly held values that they want to apply to their financial lives.

But they also hold strong commitments to the financial well-being of themselves and their families. They want to make the most of their incomes with good tax planning. They want to finance their children's college educations in a smart, ethical way. They want to manage their retirement wisely.

For some it is investing in green technologies for others it is in community development around the world and for others it is in social justice.  Andy pointed out for me some examples of how this is done.  One example to look at is Microplace that gives an investor examples of investments in a wide range of opportunities. Microplace uses PayPal to make your investment directly to the group you pick.  This investment is not a straight donation but an investment that has terms like any other investment.  Interest is usually higher for investing for longer terms.

Another foundation that does community development investing is a Maryland foundation called the Calvert Foundation. As their website explains,
The types of projects supported include affordable housing, microcredit, community facilities, small businesses, and social innovation. The Calvert Community Investment (CCI) Note is Calvert Foundation's flagship product and most popular offering.

Calvert Foundation was started when Calvert, the mutual fund company that helped pioneer the concept of sustainable and responsible investments, teamed up with the Ford, MacArthur and Mott foundations. Calvert Foundation serves as a facility for individual and institutions seeking to channel investment into disadvantaged communities with a simple goal—to help end poverty.

Individuals can invest in low-income communities and families while benefiting from a professionally managed portfolio with security enhancements, diversification, rigorous due diligence, and ongoing monitoring of investments.

Micro finance is providing small loans to individuals in developing countries to start businesses that provide a person the ability to become economically independent. One way to invest in this way is through KIVA which makes microloans to individuals who couldn’t go to a bank for a loan.  Interest is not paid to you on your loan and the repayment rate is usually very high but remember that you can lose your capital.  Safer than the stock market these days.  By spreading your loans around you even reduce your risk.

Stay with me as I know this might get a bit much of most of us non-investment savvy folks.  Another choice is what is a mutual fund called the CRA Qualified Fund. Community Capital Management is the registered investment advisor to the CRA Qualified Investment Fund. The CRA Qualified Investment CRA Shares was launched in 1999 as a community investing vehicle to help banks meet the requirements of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The CRA, created in 1977, mandates that banks make capital available to the low- and moderate-income communities which they serve. Community Capital Management is the registered investment advisor to the CRA Qualified Investment Fund The Fund seeks to produce above-average, risk-adjusted returns. The Fund's portfolio of investments is mostly affordable housing of many kinds plus other economic and environmentally sustainable initiatives.  This fund can be purchased at many stock brokerage firms including Charles Schwab and Fidelity.

I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with too much technical financial information.  What I would suggest is to talk to a financial advisor to have them help you look at the right investing strategy that best matches your social values.  If you can’t find an advisor that knows about social investing, contact Andy Loving at aloving@justmoney or his website.
While I am on this topic I would also like to promote the Family Funds at the Columbia Foundation as another way to make an impact in our community.  While this is not a financial investment it is a way to give back to our community.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is God telling us something with what has happened this past week?

It is always interesting to see how some people still try to tie natural events to God trying to tell us something.  I can just image that somewhere there is some preacher who would relate the damage to the National Cathedral in this week's earthquake to the President allowing gays to serve in the military or the hurricane hitting New York today with their recent legislation allowing gay marriage. I wonder why those same folks don't use the same reasoning when we have good weather as God's being pleased with something we've done.  Maybe our elected officials should check the weather forecast before signing legislation.

Most of us laugh at the action of Harold Camping predicting the end of the world this past May or be disgusted at the Westboro church demonstrating at the funerals of soldiers but we have a Presidential candidate using a religious event as the kickoff to his political campaign.  The increasing use of God to imply that He (She?) favors a political position is demagoguery. We can all easily condemn the perpetrators of 9/11 using their religious beliefs to justify their actions but we should also be concerned when politicians imply they were called by God to run for office.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tell Someone you Appreciate them Day

We all have someone who does things for us and we never think to tell them we appreciate them.  Someone we can count on if we needed help with something.  That always-dependable person we take for granted.  Make their day today by telling them you appreciate what they do for you. Then do something nice for someone in an unexpected way.  Pay your appreciation forward.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Transitioning from a Visionary Leader-Will Apple Lose its Soul?

With the announcement that Steve Jobs is stepping down as CEO of Apple the question naturally gets asked--- Is Steve Jobs what makes Apple work so well?

Organizations with visionary leaders are exciting, innovative and risky all at the same time.  We see these leaders in many different organizations.  A rock star religious leader attracts thousands to his congregation or millions in a TV ministry.  A Sam Walton grows a department store into the largest retailer in the world. A Henry Ford revolutionizes manufacturing with the assembly line and creates a car company that continues to today.  A Thomas Edison invents and General Electric changes the way a household operates.  A Bill Gates develops a software operating system and Microsoft changes how we work and play. A Steve Jobs creates the digital tools with Apple that changes how music is listened to, how we communicate with each other and stay in touch with the world.

To quote one analyst:
Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, said Jobs' maniacal attention to detail is what has set Apple apart. He said Apple's product pipeline might be secure for another few years, but he predicted that the company will eventually struggle to come up with market-changing ideas.
"Apple is Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs is Apple, and Steve Jobs is innovation," Chowdhry said. "You can teach people how to be operationally efficient, you can hire consultants to tell you how to do that, but God creates innovation. ... Apple without Steve Jobs is nothing.

One of the most successful ways to lessen the impact of transitions is to not get into the situation of having only one person responsible for any task in an organization.  Working as a team or using co-leaders can ease the transitions as people move in and out of an organization.  Teaming doesn’t mean that there no clear responsibilities assigned to individuals but there is enough joint teamwork that no one person becomes indispensable.

Second there should the expectation when any task is started is that there will be transitions in any effort regardless of the time frame for completion. Transitions will occur as life situations among organizational participates change.  Change is inevitable and should be expected.  Having said that, how you share project information and with whom is something that should become the norm.  The leader or team participant that doesn’t share program information is setting the organization up for transitional difficulties.

My final thought is that like athletic ability, you are either born with vision or not.  It can be taught to a certain measure but most of it tends to be inborn.  Embrace the person in your organization that “thinks outside the box.”  They might be the best person to groom as a successor. 

Still don't know if we are experiencing climate change?  With the description of this weekend's Hurricane Irene being described as a "hundred year storm" haven't we been hearing weather events the past few years described as a hundred year event.  Maybe with our changing climate we should no longer think these are hundred year events.  Maybe we should say they are just this year's major weather event. A new normal.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Experience a Foreign Country without Leaving Home

  connecting lives, sharing cultures

 As someone who has hosted a foreign intern who came to work at the Applied Physics Lab I can strongly encourage you to consider hosting an exchange student.  You get to experience a foreign country on a daily basis.  Plus you get a family to stay with if you ever visit that foreign country! Consider the experience.  As Midnight Ryder indicates that it is too late for this year to host a student in Howard County it is something to think about for next year and to pass the info on to people living in other counties for this year.
Urgent Request: Host Placement for AFS Students
by Midnight Ryder

As a Volunteer with AFS, a 501(c) 3 non-profit, I am writing with an urgent request to assist with finding host family placements for incoming International Students:

At AFS-USA, many high school students are still without host families. In working with colleagues in our industry it is clear that the entire US-based exchange field is experiencing a year that is more challenging than anyone anticipated. AFS is a non-profit international exchange organization for students and adults operating in more than 50 countries, and organizes and supports intercultural learning experiences. 
We currently have 330 students who are without a Welcome (up to 6 weeks) or a Permanent (semester or year) Host Family. The absolute and final US Department of State deadline for placing students is August 31st, just 6 days away.  Who do you know around the country who might be open to helping out? Unfortunately the Howard County School enrollment deadline has now passed, but we all know people in surrounding counties and locations with big hearts and a spare bedroom.

AFS-USA works toward a more just and peaceful world by providing international and intercultural learning experiences to individuals, families, schools, and communities through a global volunteer partnership. Founded by volunteer ambulance drivers following WWII, and sustained to this day by an international cadre of tens of thousands of volunteers, AFS has transformed the lives of millions of students, families and individuals.
*"We are living in tough times. We eat in rather than dine out. Vacations are staycations. But laughter and love, sharing and understanding are priceless. And, for a young person from another country, your home and your lifestyle are perfect. All they want is to come to America... and experience what it's like to be an American high school student.”

Consider spreading the word via Facebook, contacting Uncle Harry and Aunt Mable and cycling through your address books. Do it for your family, your community, and for a young person who must hear in August that a family has been found.

Click this link to for more information about hosting and open your home to this amazing experience.

*Mary Porterfield, AFS-USA Board Chair 2011-2012

You might also want to consider the Columbia Association Sister Cities programs for foreign students.  Check it out.

As Republicans force the Senate to stay in session so that the President can't make any recess appointments yesterday something occurred that might lead to a trivia question.  When did the Senate meet in a Post Office museum? Tuesday they did when the earthquake forced the Senate out of the Capitol.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake Story Overload

    Am I the only one who feels like they are sick of hearing where everyone was when they felt the earthquake yesterday? The television reporters covering this type of story spent hours interviewing people who related their experiences. Was a 30 second event worth expanding the local news an extra 30 minutes last night? Do I really need to have another person tell me they have checked another item off their "bucket list?" How many people really had this on their bucket list before yesterday?  And isn't your bucket list supposed to be things you deliberately try to do?

    This type of event happens in California almost every year.  The earthquake in Japan was 60,000 times as powerful.  Folks let's have some perspective on the significance of this. The rest of the country must get tired of hearing about our winter storms and other events like this earthquake that get covered like major events just because they happen in the media centers of New York and DC.  Frankly the earthquake ride at Universal Studios was a whole lot more interesting.

    Let's take it for what it was----a great excuse to go home early on one of the nicest days that we have had around here in a long time.  Was this Mother Nature's way of saying it was too nice a day to stay cooped up in an office building?

Speaking of Mother Nature one of the advantages of running in the morning is seeing the sunrises.  This was Lake Elkhorn this morning.

Thanks to the Swim Run Write Blog I learned that the earthquake already has a Wikipedia page.  No wonder encyclopedias are dead.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Power of Networks—Coalition of Geriatric Services COGS

          With the population of older persons in Howard County growing rapidly we are fortunate that the range of supportive services greatly expanded over the past 25 years.  As a new staff member of the Howard County Office on Aging in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I saw how services for older adults in Howard County were few and far between.  We had no nursing homes until Lorien opened in the late 1970’s.  Home health services were provided by a few Baltimore based home health agencies.  No adult day care. No homemaker services.  No assisted housing although Mrs. Cooper operated a sheltered housing program off Route 108.  The Office on Aging had a few lunch programs for independent adults and opened the first Extended Nutrition Site at Hebron House near the Mt. Hebron Presbyterian Church in 1977.

      In 1991 with the growing development of many new providers of services to the elderly in Howard County, Nate Miller and Kathy Crystal spearheaded an effort to develop a means to have these providers network with each other. Nate worked for Taylor Manor and they were interested in marketing a new program for the elderly.  He thought there would be an interest on the part of other providers to network and agreed to host a breakfast to discuss what form this network could take.  With food as a draw the attendance at this original breakfast meeting was impressive.  The attendees agreed to meet again to form an organization and the breakfast meetings became a fixture.  Fortunately with a number of service providers doing food preparation for their residents the ability to host breakfast meetings could be shared by a number of providers.

      Today COGS has over 250 individuals representing 135 organizations, many based in Howard County.  The COGS model is one that others have looked at to provide a networking opportunity for service providers.  Now COGS is giving back to the community.  Their website talks about,
       The Food on the 15th, a local community service project of Pointers Run Elementary and Clarksville Middle schools. Each month students at these schools bring in non-perishable grocery donations. The students sort, bag, and deliver (with the assistance of their parents) the groceries, free of charge, around the 15th of each month to economically challenged seniors in a senior residential building in Howard County.

Howard County has come a long way in becoming a model for the rest of Maryland in the provision of services to the elderly.  Parting with other providers of services, both public and private, COGS has played an important role in expanding the services available to older persons in Howard County

Monday, August 22, 2011

Honey Buns in Prison----- Bartering as an Economy

I am always amazed at how anything of value can develop into a currency and this was shown in a report that I heard on the radio.  The original story was from the St. Petersburg Times on Honey Buns in state prisons and even in one of our local prisons.  According to the report,
Inmates in the Florida prison system buy 270,000 honey buns a month. Across the state, they sell more than tobacco, envelopes and cans of Coke. And they're just as popular among Tampa Bay's county jails. In Pasco's Land O'Lakes Detention Center, they're outsold only by freeze-dried coffee and ramen noodles.
Not only that, these honey buns — so puffy! — have taken on lives of their own among the criminal class: as currency for trades, as bribes for favors, as relievers for stress and substitutes for addiction. They've become birthday cakes, hooch wines, last meals — even ingredients in a massive tax fraud.
Inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women used honey buns as the base for a Christmas apple pie. Inmates at the Robeson County Jail in Lumberton, N.C., mixed in honey buns to sweeten a wine they fermented from orange juice.

This brought back memories of swapping baseball cards as a kid and how a currency of cards was based on the how good a baseball player was or if another kid was a fan of a certain team.  The negotiations among kids could make the Congressional negotiations look mild.

I even remember trading an early video camera for a Gore-Tex running suit from my brother.  I still have the suit and use it running every winter but I know my brother long ago gave up the video recorder for a newer one.

Probably the most famous example of bartering is the story of a blogger names Kyle McDonald who in less than a year bartered a red paper clip up to a house.  As explained in Wikepedia,

MacDonald made his first trade, a red paper clip for a fish-shaped pen, on July 14, 2005. He reached his goal of trading up to a house with the fourteenth transaction, trading a movie role for a house. This is the list of all transactions MacDonald made:[1]
·                     On July 14, 2005, he went to Vancouver and traded the paperclip for a fish-shaped pen.
·                     He then traded the pen the same day for a hand-sculpted doorknob from Seattle, Washington, which he nicknamed "Knob-T".
·                     On July 25, 2005, he traveled to Amherst, Massachusetts, with a friend to trade the Knob-T for a Coleman camp stove (with fuel).
·                     On September 24, 2005, he went to San Clemente, California, and traded the camp stove for a Honda generator.
·                     On November 16, 2005, he made a second (and successful) attempt (after having the generator confiscated by the New York City Fire Department) in Maspeth, Queens, to trade the generator for an "instant party": an empty keg, an IOU for filling the keg with the beer of the holder's choice, and a neon Budweiser sign.
·                     On December 8, 2005, he traded the "instant party" to Quebec comedian and radio personality Michel Barrette for a Ski-doo snowmobile.
·                     Within a week of that, he traded the snowmobile for a two-person trip to Yahk, British Columbia, in February 2006.
·                     On or about January 7, 2006, the second person on the trip to Yahk traded Kyle a cube van for the privilege.
·                     On or about February 22, 2006, he traded the cube van for a recording contract with Metal Works in Toronto.
·                     On or about April 11, 2006, he traded the recording contract to Jody Gnant for a year's rent in Phoenix, Arizona.
·                     On or about April 26, 2006, he traded the one year's rent in Phoenix, Arizona, for one afternoon with Alice Cooper.
·                     On or about May 26, 2006, he traded the one afternoon with Alice Cooper for a KISS motorized snow globe.
·                     On or about June 2, 2006, he traded the KISS motorized snow globe to Corbin Bernsen for a role in the film Donna on Demand.
·                     On or about July 5, 2006, he traded the movie role for a two-story farmhouse in Kipling, Saskatchewan.
Going on vacation and want to swap your home for one in the city you are visiting?  There is now a few home swapping websites.  Obviously not for everyone but being able to stay in a house rather than a motel is a big plus.  Living near DC makes a home in our County attractive for a swap. 

Service exchanges are set up to exchange a service you can provide for credits to use for services you need.  Think of an accountant trading preparing someone’s taxes for someone to landscape his yard.  By building credits you don’t have to exchange with the person who uses your services.

Of course all this raises the IRS question and do you have to pay taxes on bartered items.  While no one is likely to go to jail the IRS does expect you to pay taxes on services and gifts you receive.  I am never sure why or how you would report any of this.

Now does anyone have something to trade me for this nice yellow paper clip? Anyone having trouble selling their house?

I am always looking for ways to get rid of my grass lawn and saw a nice example of what to do in Clemens Crossing this past weekend.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Versatile Pizza-The Universal Food

The nice thing about pizza is that you can take your favorite food (besides pizza!) and make an interesting pizza. It is not unusual to see a hot new ethnic food made into a pizza by one of the major pizza chains.  I have blogged on the Maryland Crab pizza.  We are all familiar with taco pizza, Philly cheesesteak pizza, Hawaiian pizza and California pizza but how about some more diverse choices?  How about Thai Peanut Pizza? Or Greek pizza? Sweet and sour shrimp pizza? Pot Roast pizza?

I thinking of an unusual pizza you have to first think of what sauce would use for the base.  Using the pot roast pizza as an example a rich gravy or mushroom sauce would replace the tomato sauce.  For the Thai peanut pizza a peanut sauce of peanut butter and coconut milk might work.  You might even try mixing in a little tomato sauce to have a little more familiar taste. Another trick is to puree the vegetables that your family doesn’t like and add it to the sauce and they will never know they are eating their vegetables

The second consideration is of course the toppings.  This is usually obvious but the right combination of toppings that are complementary with the sauce is important.  Again as an example the pot roast pizza would have shredded pot roast meat, sliced mushrooms and shredded carrots.  The use of potatoes could be small-diced pieces or shredded hash browned potatoes.  I would add some chopped tomato to again make it pizza like.

Anyone for sushi pizza?


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Weekend Escape to the Twilight Zone

Today’s blog is probably not relevant for anyone younger that the Baby Boomer generation.  Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s cutting edge TV was most clearly shown in the Twilight Zone show.  Looking back at the technology of those days shows a primitive quality that would make people laugh today but the story lines are still relevant for today. Time travel, nuclear war and the emptiness of life were the types of themes that were radical for those times.  I have some links to a sampling of shows for those who have not been exposed to the show and to bring back memories for those who have not seen the show in 50 years.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Next Big Computer Technology that will change how we do things-The Cloud

Apple introduced the “Cloud” and the next generation of computing is now just beginning.  What is the Cloud and how will it change everything?  This excerpt from Apex Technology is a quick introduction to what the Cloud is:
 Cloud computing has made it possible to interact on the internet without having to install certain applications on your computer, negating the need for software and hardware updates and making it simpler to access information and data online. Just as you can access an e-mail account from virtually any computer with an internet connection, it is quickly becoming possible to access a myriad of other types of data and information in the same way. There are many examples of what cloud computing is attempting to achieve, such as Google Apps and Google Docs, Amazon Turks, YouTube, Flickr and other web based applications and storage systems for example.

There is a lot of information moving around on the internet. There are purported to be more than 5 billion users on the internet today, and with so many people online, there has never been more information available at our fingertips. With so much information moving around, now is as good a time as any to begin to work with more capable information systems, and cloud computing is making this happen. By making it possible for different web technologies to communicate with one another, a business can easily take all of its important information and communication to the web for easier accessibility, better security and increased usability. The improvements in accessibility and usability that cloud computing is achieving are making the internet simpler to use both for businesses online and their customers as well.

Cloud computing technology may have been around for a while now, but we are only beginning to realize its full potential. Right now, cloud computing is the future of the internet, and the future of technology collaboration for many businesses. The future is currently in our hands, and it will be interesting to see what can be done by leveraging the power of cloud computing to improve business on the internet.

Cloud computing technology may have been around for a while now, but we are only beginning to realize its full potential. Right now, cloud computing is the future of the internet, and the future of technology collaboration for many businesses. The future is currently in our hands, and it will be interesting to see what can be done by leveraging the power of cloud computing to improve business on the internet.

Click here to cancel reply. So in a nutshell the Cloud is taking us back to when we didn’t have a PC (personal computer) but we had a terminal that didn’t have its own hard drive to store files and programs.  Back then our terminal was connected to a “server” that was located somewhere in your office that stored the programs and files you needed.  We then had access to a few programs and files.  With the Cloud technology we are connected to the world and not a server in our office.  As the article above mentioned we are already using this concept in ways long accepted.  Web based email servers such as Gmail and Yahoo store our emails offline. Flickr stores our pictures offline.  Mozy stores our files offline. The Cloud adds our programs offline too.  You won’t have to have a hard drive to store programs like Office or Quickbooks or Photoshop when you can have access to the entire world of programs available offline. The end of the PC is in sight.  Microsoft and Google are developing their own versions of the Cloud and there will be completion to get you to use each platform.  It is the "next" computing war.
Last night I watched an episode of  “Mad Men” that I had DVRed from last season and for some reason looking at how life was in the 1960’s I began to notice how the digital revolution had impacted our lives.  As looked back at this past week and started to right down some digital application that changed how we did something different they people did in the 1960’s or the pre-digital days.  From the list I came up with I compiled my top 10 which didn’t even include the previously mentioned DVR that allows me to watch any TV show on my schedule.  I listed in order the 10 ways the digital revolution changed the way I did things and how frequently I use each application.

1)      World Wide Web
2)      Email
3)      Cell Phone
4)      Google
5)      Blogging
6)      Digital CD music
7)      GPS
8)      Online shopping
9)      Skype
10)  Digital photography

You might notice that I don’t use two common applications---texting and a smart phone apps.  I will be getting a smart phone in September when Verizon comes out with their 4G phones.

Anyone want to mention something I missed??

Progress on the Lake Elkhorn Rain Garden

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vacation Envy

Am I the only one who is working through August??  I have heard stories of trips to the beach, New England, Europe and other places.  In the last month I been to Baltimore and DC on day trips---nice but not the same.  I know we are not Europe yet where everyone really does shut down for the whole month.

When we had kids and school calendars ruled our lives we would dream of vacationing off season when the prices were better and vacation spots were less crowded.  And we have started doing that.  We go to the beach in late September or early October and rent twice the house we could afford in the summer.  We also take a winter break for a week in January or February somewhere it is warmer than Columbia.  So I should be glad to have this freedom from the chains of the school calendar.  I like the new freedom all year long except August.  But in August I feel like everyone was at a great party but me. Guess I will just have to enjoy the month without many of the usual meetings and less traffic on the roads.  October is only 6 weeks away!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What’s in a Name? Everything when it comes to Columbia streets

You know you live in Columbia if you have a crazy street name.  As much as the People Tree and the Columbia Mall the street names of Columbia and now throughout Howard County define the uniqueness of our community.  I remember years ago ordering something from L.L. Bean and when I gave my street address the operator said, “That must be Columbia.”  And I don’t have one of the stranger names. The operator said that they frequently had orders from Columbia so all the operators used to laugh at some of our names. It is no wonder that when it came time for L.L Bean to open one of their first retail stores they chose the Columbia Mall.

Yesterday I stopped into the Columbia Archives office and Barbara Kellner showed me a book that the Archives had published on the street naming in Columbia.  From that book I learned that the job of coming up with street names in 1963 landed on the desk of Scott Ditch, director of market­ing for The Rouse Company.  Rouse wanted street names that would identify Columbia as being a new or different community.  Street naming had to be novel.  It was a great “branding” technique for the new town. Ditch came up with the novel idea of using works of literature for names because the Post Office would not approve a street name already used in the County or in one of the counties that touched Howard County.  That's one reason why so many new street names are two words. Ditch in turn looked to one of his research assistants, Evelyn Menzies who was a reader of literature and poems.  Menzies suddenly had her ideal job of getting paid to read works of literature at the Enoch Pratt Library near her home in Roland Park. Many of the neighborhoods were named after the writer or poet from which the streets were named.  That’s how we got Longfellow, Faulkner Ridge, Dickinson, Clemens Crossing, Hawthorne and Bryant Woods. 

Some of strangest names are:
Possum court
Lame Beaver Court
Coon Hunt Court
Bare bush
Black star
Broken lute
Catfeet court
Clear smoke
Deep smoke
Dried earth blvd
Ducks foot
Rusty rim
Oven bird green
Little boots
Hobnail ct
Flamepool way

The Gateway Industrial Park has the streets named after inventors:
Eli Whitney, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Samuel Morse, Robert Fulton, Alexander Bell

Many streets have the same part of name.  16 streets have the name “autumn” in it,23 have “blue” in name, 50 that start with “old.” Out parcels seem to like family first names like:  Debbie Court, Deborah Jean Drive, Diane Lane, Donald Ave, Rosemary Lane, Rachael Court, Katie Lane, Jerry’s Drive.

One of the most controversial street names that gained national attention was when the residents of Satan Wood Lane petitioned to have the name changed to Satin Wood Lane. As Fox News reported it,
“Thanks to a clerical error 30 years ago, the whimsically titled "Satin Wood Drive" in Columbia, Md., took on demonic overtones and was officially named ‘Satan Wood Drive.’ It's a lovely, tree-lined street with nicely proportioned Colonial houses on large lots. But to its residents, it's a curse. "You almost feel ostracized, like you're the black sheep of the village," electrical engineer Jamie Aycock told the Baltimore Sun. "Sometimes they look at me like I'm a devil worshipper." "I went to Sunday school, and this was a word that you never said," transplanted Texan Barbara Chapman told the Columbia Flier. "Nobody in Texas knows that I live on S-A-T-A-N." Aycock tells store clerks that the street name is pronounced sat-AN-wood. "I tell them it's French," he told the Sun. Duane Johnson, an Orthodox priest, sprinkles holy water all through his house every year, but that didn't prevent embarrassment when church headquarters called to confirm the address. "There's not even an agreement on whether 'Satan Wood' is one word or two," Aycock told the Flier. "On one sign it's one word and on the other [sign] it's two." And, of course, one day the street froze over, prompting jokes from friends that residents would finally be paid back.”

Now this is where this blog gets creepy.  After writing about the Fox story I looked at the temperature before going out to run and my thermometer read 66.6 degrees.  Cue the Twilight Zone theme!

So grin and bear it all you folks who get laughs from people when you give someone your address.  Revel in the uniqueness that can’t be shared with all those folks who live on Main, Maple, Elm or Washington Street.

An article in the Columbia Patch by the first women to wear pants at the Rouse Company caught my eye. Check it out

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Power to Impact a Community

 The Baltimore Sun had a fascinating article about the creative person behind the Baltimore Grand Prix race that will take place in a couple of weeks in Baltimore. What is fascinating about the story is that the person the story is about, Steven Wehner, lived in his mother’s basement, had dyslexia, had a bankrupt business and had been arrested in the past for drug possession.  Not the most promising individual to come up and sell the concept of a major sporting event in Baltimore.  What he had going for him are the things that make for a successful community organizer: 1) an idea to address a community need 2) contacts to bring the resources necessary to the effort 3) timing 4) a passion for an idea.

The community need was the image of Baltimore that had been depicted as a crime-ridden city in Homicide, Life on the Street and The Wire.  Not the image you want if you are interested in building a tourist trade.  The Inner Harbor is one of this country’s nicest downtown venues but it was not what Baltimore represented to most TV viewers. As much national attention the Preakness generated for Baltimore it took place far from the shiny Inner Harbor in one of the City’s tough neighborhoods.  No one stays around Pimilco to dine in a restaurant or stay in a hotel in the neighborhood.

Steven’s car repair shop on Cape Cod put in contact with some rich and influential people who became his early allies in getting city officials attention.  They lent credibility to an effort that he could not have received on his own.  Important rule of organizing is that you have to bring something to the table to be credible.  In Mr. Wehner’s case it was his contacts. Their credibility sold the idea to city officials that Mr. Wehner would have not been able to do.

Like almost everything timing is everything in successful organizing.  You can’t be too far ahead of time and not too late after the momentum has been lost.  Grand Prix races in Detroit and North Carolina had fallen through and the Grand Prix officials were looking for a venue along the East Coast to highlight their sport to the millions of potential fans in the DC to Boston corridor.

The final part to the effort was Mr. Wehner’s passion for his idea.  Every good idea runs into opposition and obstacles.  Only someone with passion will continue to work to bring about his or her idea when it looks like a long shot.  Thomas Edison said that invention was 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.  Successful organizing follows that same path.  Nothing defeats good ideas as much as people giving up too soon on bringing their idea to reality.

Like many other good ideas the original person with the idea has to step aside to let the other more credible people carry the idea to fruition. That happened to Steven Wehner in this case. But he has the satisfaction of knowing on Labor Day weekend that what was the biggest thing happening in Baltimore and gaining national attention would not be happening if he had not had a great idea.

Probably won’t be quoted by any of the Republican candidates but Warren Buffet’s  Op/Ed column in the NY Times does provide another view to how approach solving some of our debt problem

P.S 2
Anyone recognize where I took this photo that has been a wall photo on the blog?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Does Howard County live up to the "Choose Civility" Bumper Stickers?

Howard County is the type of place that has thousands of “Choose Civility” magnetic car stickers that have been given out at the local libraries.  This has started counter bumper stickers that you can order on Zazzle "Choose Insanity" and "Embrace Hostility."  Imitation is the highest form of flattery as the saying goes.

The whole idea of “random acts of kindness” and the philosophy of “paying it forward” may seem idealistic but it isn’t that idealism better than the atmosphere coming from many of our supposed leaders today?  The best example of this was something that happened to me as I was at the tollgate before going over the Bay Bridge a few years ago.  I got to the attendant and was told the person ahead of me paid my toll for me.  That person was someone I didn’t know but was so inspired by the act that I paid the toll for the person behind me and wondered how long the “pay it forward” or more accurately the “pay it backward” would go.  Probably not too long.  The paying of a $2.50 toll is not a lot of money but the ripple effect that small acts can be large many times. The following story from the British Mail Online shows this:

Rachel Beckwith wanted to raise $300 by her ninth birthday to help bring clean water to people in poor countries. Now donors the world over are making sure her wish is realized after hearing of her death. Rachel was about $80 short of her goal when she turned nine in June, and then a horrific highway traffic accident took her life away last week.

Wonderful dream: Rachel Beckwith wanted to raise $300 by her ninth birthday to bring clean water to poor countries, but her life was horrifically cut short
But news of the Bellevue, Washington, girl’s pluck and selflessness emerged after the tragedy. It is inspiring thousands of people - most of them strangers - to push her dream along. By Tuesday afternoon, her web page that was set up to take contributions for charity:water, a non-profit organization that brings clean drinking water to people in developing nations, had attracted more than $200,000 in pledges, reports.

Members of the charity Rachel supported were in the Central African Republic touring the charity’s water projects last week when they learned of her death

'What could have been simply a senseless ending to such a beautiful beginning of your story has turned into something so much more. I hope that if at all possible the obvious compassion so many others have shown in taking up your empathetic cause brings some peace to you and your family,' wrote one anonymous donor who pledged $31. Rachel’s mother, Samantha Paul, posted a message Monday on the website: 'I am in awe of the overwhelming love to take my daughter’s dream and make it a reality. In the face of unexplainable pain you have provided undeniable hope. Thank you for your generosity! I know Rachel is smiling!'

Rachel’s family attends EastLake Community Church, a non-denominational church of about 4,000 members in Bothell, a suburb northeast of Seattle. The church held a benefit concert in September that helped raise more than $300,000 for charity:water to bring clean water to the Bayaka tribe in the Central African Republic. By Tuesday afternoon, her web page that was set up to take contributions for charity:water had attracted more than $200,000 in pledges Scott Harrison, founder of charity:water, said he and the lead pastor of EastLake Community Church, Ryan Meeks, were in the Central African Republic touring the charity’s water projects last week when they learned that Rachel had been seriously injured in an accident. Rachel was in a car with her mother and younger sister on Interstate 90 when a semi-trailer jack-knifed into a logging truck, causing a chain-reaction crash involving more than a dozen vehicles.The semi rear-ended the car carrying Rachel, the only person critically injured. She was taken off life support over the weekend.

Rachel had learned about charity:water’s work through EastLake Church, and on her my webpage she explained why she wanted to raise $300.
'On June 12th 2011, I'm turning nine. I found out that millions of people don't live to see their fifth birthday.  'Why? Because they didn't have access to clean, safe water so I'm celebrating my birthday like never before. 'I'm asking from everyone I know to donate to my campaign instead of gifts for my birthday. Every penny of the money raised will go directly to fund freshwater projects in developing nations.' Although she fell $80 short of her birthday goal, that was just the beginning. Donations started flowing in when community members publicized her wishes after the accident, and really took off after her story appeared on KING 5 TV, in The Seattle Times and other local media outlets. Rachel’s story also spread on social media, getting a boost from tweets by actress Alyssa Milano and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. 'There were 3,600 different donations as of today. Her little dream of helping 15 people has turned into almost 10,000 people and counting,” Harrison told 'I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets 1,000 times her wish.'

It would be a nicer world if we would try to do one random act of kindness each day and “pay it forward.”  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Best places for a meeting

For the past 8 years working out of my home I usually tried to arrange meetings at community locations that let you linger when meeting with someone.  Now that I am back to working in an office I still find it nice to met with someone over a coffee or a bagel.

In the past the Bagel Bin or really when it was the Bagel Shoppe it was the place to meet and you could be sure if you were there you would be sure to see someone you knew.  I think it has lost some of that appeal as other alternatives have appeared.  Coffee places seem to have gained a following.  The Starbucks on Dobbin and Mad City have become popular meeting places for local business.  It is hard to go into one of these places and not see some business being transacted.

Lunchtime favorite seems to be the Panera Bread in Dobbin Center.  It is hard to find a place near an outlet in the Panera that isn’t already being used by someone.  The trend to offering WiFi has certainly caused this. Of course the place to have an important meeting in a place to impress someone is still Clyde’s.  Nice view and good service but you can’t linger there as long.

But the new meeting place for anytime during the day is the Lakeside CafĂ© in the American Cities Building.  I usually stick to the Carnilla drink that is like a vanilla/ caramel latte.  Now that the weather is nice and you can sit outside. The only problem is that the lawn maintenance workers seem to frequently pick the time that I am outside to use their mowers, weed wackers and leaf blowers.

Anyone else have a favorite?