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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dobbin Developments: Mirchi Wok, Mango Grove and new Starbucks Reopened

I saw a sign that my favorite restaurant, Mango Grove/Mirchi Wok has reopened in their new location off Dobbin Rd at 8865 Stanford Boulevard.  This is in the old location of the Mongolian Grill.  The new location is near the Riverside Coffee.  Unlike the old restaurant the seating for both restaurants is combined with a menu that includes the vegetarian and meat choices of the old location.

The new location for the Starbucks on Dobbin has opened where the Mango Grove used to be.  It has a drive thru but that seems to have presented a problem when I was there last evening.  Seems like they haven't worked out the staffing with the extra work of the drive thru.  Having just 2 staff didn't appear to be enough staffing.  The seating is also different in that they must have assumed that with the drive thru not as many people would sit inside.  The reduced seating didn't seem adequate at the new location.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Money Matters Event tomorrow at East Columbia Library

    Join makingCHANGE and Junior Achievement of Central Maryland for Y-Fi, a Youth Finance event, on Saturday, March 31st, 2012,  from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm at the Money Matters Fair, Howard County Library System, East Columbia Branch.  This free activity is designed for youth ages 12-18 and their parents or guardians.  Drop in for a 60-90 minute, “real life” simulation of financial planning, goal setting and decision making experiences.
During this interactive event, students will:
·         Receive a career, find out how much the job pays, and stretch their paychecks to cover all of their expenses.
·         Go “shopping” and stick to a budget as they make choices on transportation, housing, utilities, food, clothing and much, much more!
·         Watch out for an “Unlucky Chance” card which could wreak havoc on their monthly budget.
Younger students will gain an appreciation of the tough financial choices adults have to make each day. Older students will learn how career, education and spending choices can have a direct impact on their success. Families will learn how to support each other in making earning, spending and saving choices.  For questions about the event, email or call 410-446-8635. 

End the week with a song you will be humming all weekend 

P.S 2
From the Howard County Historical Society:
 SAVE THE DATE: May 19, 2012 for the Howard County portion of the Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage
Explore 7 spectacular historic homes and gardens -- including Oakdale (pictured), Richland Farm, Whitehall Manor, Waverly Mansion, Spring Hill and Spring Hill Quarters as well as the Shrine of St. Anthony's. Advance tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at or at the Society's headquarters at the Miller Branch Library. They may also be purchased for $35 at any of the gardens on the day of the tour. Visit the website or call 410-821-6933 for more information on this tour and those of other counties.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Political Reality and the Supreme Court

     In listening to the arguments on the health care legislation before the Supreme Court I couldn't help but wonder how the arguments come down to interstate commerce, what is "necessary" and "proper" and a limiting factor for individual mandates. This is how lawyers talk when talking about the crisis of health care in this country.  In our country it is estimated that 45,000 people die each year needlessly because they lack health insurance and it comes down to a question of interstate commerce?  Now we learn that if the penalty for not having insurance was a tax then the legislation would be constitutional.  To hear supposedly intelligent judges comparing requirements to purchase health insurance to being forced to buy broccoli or a cell phone is bizarre.  The comparison would only be accurate if people could demand merchants to provide them the items and charge the cost to other customers.
     Our country is the only modern Western country that doesn't consider health care a right but privilege that only  comes when you have an employer to provide the benefit or when you turn age 65.  What was passed in 2009 was minimal in addressing the health care issue in this country.  We will someday have a "Medicare for all" type of single payer system because our present system is breaking down.  Employer provided health insurance coverage is now coming with large deductibles and other changes to lessen the financial burden on employers.  We have the worst of both worlds---expensive health care and fewer people with insurance to access the system.
     It is sad to see the ideological divide that we have in this country being played out in the Supreme Court. It is apparent that even supposedly "impartial" judges using legal rationales as cover for their political opinions.  The Bush v. Gore was the first indication of this Court's politicization. 
    For the past couple of weeks I have been reading a book on James Madison and the Constitutional Convention.  Hearing the arguments this week in the Supreme Court made me think of passages from the book.  One of the key debates in that Convention was how strong the Federal Government should be.  The delegates saw how the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation divided the States against each other and threatened the safety of the States from foreign intervention.  State rights threatened the "general welfare." In a similar way I see the opposition to the individual mandate of the health care program as also ignoring the general welfare. It was reassuring to finally hear Justice Kennedy say that health care maybe one of those "special circumstances" that makes a mandate necessary and constitutional.  Maybe that and the 45,000 needless deaths each year.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Learn a little Columbia history with the Columbia Achives WalkAlong

From the Columbia Archives:
 There is history all around us; you just have to know where to look. On Saturday, May 12, join Columbia Archives on one of three WalkAlongs and get to know some of Columbia’s hidden treasures. Three different walking tours will start out from Columbia Town Center at 10 a.m. Trained guides will lead the groups.  

Tour 1 will set off across Route 29 via the pedestrian bridge to Oakland Mills. Participants will take a historical journey from Howard County’s agrarian roots through the development and on-going refinements of Oakland Mills Village.
Tour 2 will venture to Wilde Lake and the neighborhood of The Birches. The emphasis will be on the mid-20th century architecture of the custom-built homes and the 19th-century structures that were a part of Oakland Manor.
Tour 3 will explore the softer side of Town Center. A wooded path along a stream connects the lakefront and the Vantage Point neighborhood. Now, and more so in the future as Columbia sees increased development of the Town Center, this well-thought-out plan to incorporate nature in our everyday lives is an important tenet of Columbia.
The tours are free but registration is required and limited to 30 people per tour. Registration is now available online at For more information, please call 410-715-3103 or e-mail

It happens to everyone and yesterday it happened to me.  My 5 year old computer died the "blue death."  It was my last desktop computer.  My new laptop is fast compared to that old 512 RAM desktop.  In a few years my new laptop will probably be slow too but for now it is like driving a new sports car.  Thanks to Mozy all my saved files are now on my new laptop.  Just had to load all my software.  Trying to find the disks for all my software was a pain.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Friends of Bridge Columbia to hold open meeting

 It is no secret that the Village of Oakland Mills has had some challenges to its image the past few years.  Its Village Center has lost a bank and gas station.  The existing pedestrian bridge over Route 29 has been considered unsafe by many.  One group of advocates have been pushing a new bridge over Route 29 that would include both pedestrians, bikers and buses as a new way to connect Oakland Mills to Town Center.  
I received the following information from Peter Tocco the webmaster of the Friends of Bridge Columbia:
 The Friends of Bridge Columbia has a website and will hold its first open meeting on Thursday, March 29, 7-9 pm, at the Other Barn in  Oakland  Mills  Village  Center. All friends and supporters are welcome to attend, so please mark your calendar! We will be presenting the Bridge Columbia proposal in detail and a soliciting your comments and ideas.  We will also be soliciting your help in gathering support for the concept.
At the County Executive's Citizen’s Budget meeting on March 14 Mr. Ulman heard about 20 minutes of testimony supporting the Bridge from six very knowledgeable advocates, including:
  • Oakland Mills Village Board Chairwoman Abbey Hendrix
  • John Slater, longtime Columbia planner and landscape architect
  • Alex Hekimian, CA Board Member, Oakland Mills resident and former federal transportation planner
  • Jervis Dorton, former Rouse Company architectural designer and Oakland Mills resident
  • Karen Gray, Oakland Mills resident and former Oakland Mills Village board member
  • Chris Tsien, president of Bicycling Advocates of Howard County and a member of CA’s Transportation Task Force.
  • Other supporters of the Bridge submitted written testimony. 
After the testimony, Mr. Ulman shared his thoughts, indicating he is in full agreement with many of the ideas, including the poor condition of the current bridge, the iconic look of a new bridge and the walkability it would create. However, he was then undecided whether the transit aspect could be cost justified based on expected ridership and whether the Bridge could be largely funded with grant money.
After the hearing Bridge Columbia was written up in several local blogs and newspapers.  Overall, our message continues to be well received by Columbia residents. 
Mr. Ulman has until April 1 to decide whether to include $200,000 - $300,000 for engineering studies of the Bridge in his 2013 capital budget, so we need to continue making our voices heard.  We’d like to think we have a strong chance to convince Mr. Ulman to support the Bridge, particularly if enough of the citizens are behind it.
For more information, call 410-740-0256. RSVP is not necessary.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Climate Change meetings

Is this early spring warmer than usual?
Or is this the new normal?

Get your questions ready for NASA scientists at our forum:
Observations from Space: Earth and Climate Change
Howard Community College
Rouse Co. Foundation Student Hall (RCF 400)
Saturday, March 24, from 9 to noon

NASA's 16 satellites constantly monitor Earth's climate, atmosphere, glaciers, oceans and much more.  At this free forum next weekend, three NASA scientists will discuss the latest images from these distant observatories and the profound changes taking place in the climate.  Following the lectures, the scientists will join a panel with other experts to discuss the consequences for human health, the environment and other vital issues. The panel will answer questions from the audience.This free event is cosponsored by the Climate Change Initiative of Howard County, Howard Community College, NASA and the county government.
Refreshments will be provided. For more information and registration, go to:​students/student_life/​ClimateChange/

Marylanders' Circle of Support for Offshore Wind

Join hundreds of Marylanders on Monday night April 2 to form a "Circle of Support" around the Maryland State House in Annapolis to encourage lawmakers to embrace offshore wind power.

WHERE:   Lawyer's Mall, 100 State Circle, Annapolis
WHEN:   Monday, April 2, 7 pm
WHO:  Speakers include business leaders, faith leaders, public health advocates, legislators & more.

Join the Howard County/CCIHC carpool - Leaving at 5:30 pm from King’s Contrivance Village Center (intersection of Edenbrook Drive and Guilford Road, 8620 Guilford Road, Columbia.) Meet at the parking lot beyond McDonald’s.  Please send your name and cell number to or call 443-803-8546, if you plan to join the carpool so we can be in touch.   Indicate if you want a $5 Offshore Wind t-shirt and size.  http://www.hococlimatechange.​org/events/howard-county-event

Friday, March 23, 2012

Early Spring on the Paths of Columbia

   To end this week that has been beautiful beyond what we normally see in March I thought I would share some photos from yesterday's foggy morning run on the path from Lake Elkhorn to Savage Park.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Green Jobs for Young Adults in Howard County

People Acting Together in Howard (PATH) is a Howard County interfaith organization that works to create systematic change for the wellbeing of members of our community.   The grassroots efforts of this group has had victories in the areas of health care, housing and transportation.  Priority areas for the organization are jobs, health care, affordable housing, aging in place and usury.  If your congregation might be interested in joining their organization they can be contacted at 443-433-8054 or

The green jobs for young adults mentioned in the title of the blog is described below:

Howard County, People Acting Together in Howard (PATH), The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and The Parks & People Foundation are partnering in a program to create green jobs for young adults in Howard County while improving watershed health through the reduction of stormwater runoff. The program will focus on training young adults in the design and installation of green watershed protection measures, such as the use of rain gardens and rain barrels. For the summer of 2012 the young adults will install rain gardens on institutional and business properties within Howard County. The program will also provide the young adults opportunities to develop transferable skills and knowledge that can give them a leg-up in this difficult job marketplace. For further information, contact Donald Tsusaki at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Recreation & Parks Invites the Public to Participate in “Choose Your Fun!” Survey

 Howard County’s Department of Recreation & Parks is inviting the public to share their input on county parks and programs through an online survey during the month of March. The “Choose Your Fun!” survey aims to gather feedback about the types of facilities, programs, trips, camps and other activities they are interested in participating in.

The survey, located online at, will be available from March 1 through 30. Those who complete the survey will be entered into three random prize drawings. The prizes are:

• one round of golf for four at Timbers at Troy golf course
• passes for four to Wine in the Woods (must be 21 or older)
• one free week at a Recreation & Park’s camp (some restrictions apply)

The survey was developed for the Department of Recreation & Parks with assistance from participants in Leadership Howard County’s Leadership Essentials program. Results will be used to guide the Department’s future planning and will be incorporated in the Department’s 2012 Land Preservation, Recreation and Parks Plan.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day Resource Center: One step in addressing Howard County’s homeless population

      I recently had a chance to visit the Day Resource Center on Route 1 to learn how this resource attempts to address the needs of our homeless population. The Day Resource Center is open on Monday from 2 to 6 pm, Wednesday from 3 to 7 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.  Joe Willmott gave me a tour and discussed the services provided at the Center. Joe explained that the Center is a good example of a partnership between government, the religious community and non- profits. When you hear people saying the government can’t do anything right, the Day Resource Center is an example to disprove that belief.

       Most of the homeless that use the Center are from 40 years of age on up.  It seems that many younger homeless individuals still find shelter with family and friends even if it is the “couch surfing” type of arrangement.  The users of the Center the day I visited were mostly men but there were a fair number of women. Many individuals using the Center have “burned their bridges” with family and friends because of addictions and mental illness. For others being homeless has become a way of life that most of us have difficulty understanding.

       People using the Center usually start with a meal at 3 p.m. that is provided by local churches.  Many have a second helping before they leave at 7 pm.  In between those two meals they can take a shower, wash their clothes, pick up toiletries, pick up some new clothes, use a computer, see a doctor or nurse, talk with a benefits volunteer or just relax in a lounge.  Many of the users even use the Center as a mailbox for receiving their mail, as they have no fixed address. Some have even contributed to the Homeless Gazette newsletter.
      In visiting the Center you can’t help but wonder about the path that the homeless have taken that have led them to live so precarious a life.  No question developing addictions can drag you down but that maybe a symptom more than the cause. What happens to our social relationships that leave us with no other option than to live in a tent in the woods as some of the users of the Center do?  One thinks about young people aging out of the foster care system or having mental health issues that go unmanaged because of the lack of good community mental health resources such as supportive housing. Maybe we will always have poor and homeless in Howard County but it is reassuring to know that our community has recognized that we do owe all of our citizens at least some measure of support and assistance as fellow humans.

   To learn more about Howard County’s Plan for Homelessness check out this link.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Two new ways the digital revolution is changing our world

       As anyone who has been reading this blog knows I regularly report on ways that the digital revolution is changing our world.  Today I have two additional changes to mention.

        First is the way that television is being impacted and will continue to change in how television content will be accessed.  I have to say that this change was brought to my attention by members of the younger generation.  I was aware of Hula and had sometimes watched TV shows online that I had forgotten to DVR.  What made me recognize the extent of the change has been the Applied Physics Lab interns who have stayed with us the past 3 years.  Being a “techie” group of guys I have learned that none of them wanted a TV in their room.  At first I thought that they were just guys who didn’t watch TV but I was wrong.  They watched all the TV programs they wanted but they just watched them all on their computer.  All they needed was a connection to my wifi.  This fact along with what I have read about how Google is working to have all TV content available through a Google search. Verizon and Comcast cable access to TV might go the way of print newspapers and magazines down the road. Google has to work out the rights with TV networks to make this a reality.  It is just a matter of time just like the music industry had to learn to sell music online with Itunes. With Google TV you will also be able to pull up any show in a search no matter when it originally aired.  Some of this is available now on You Tube but only on a limited manner.
     The second change is in televangelism.  I watched a report on CBS Sunday Morning about the bankruptcy of the Robert Schuller ministry and the Crystal Cathedral.  Having visited the Cathedral during its better times 7 years ago it was surprising to hear that it had gone bankrupt and will now be used by a Catholic church.  Family disputes probably hurt the following enough that attendance and contributions were not able to sustain its budget.  Having a large physical structure like the Crystal Cathedral takes a lot of money.  So how is this related to the digital revolution?  The Schuller family is re-launching the ministry as an all online ministry.  Talk about a more affordable ministry! Cost of a website and a good web designer as opposed to the multi million dollar overhead of a cathedral.   One member of the Shuller family even felt that this was the way that other televangelist ministries would go.  Having ministries continue after the original evangelist retires has always been tricky.  Think Oral Roberts and Pat Robertson and the 700 Club.  Both have had dramatic declines.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blandair Park is finally here!

When I was umpiring softball years ago I was thrilled to hear about the planned softball fields right up the road from where I live.  I didn't really enjoy traveling to Rockburn, Centennial or Cedar Lane fields. Unfortunately lean budget years slowed down the development of the Blandair Park. After watching the progress of the park for over the past year today I went by to see what the finished Phase 1 looked like.  This is only the first of eight phases.  Later phases will include the softball fields.
   The synthetic lacrosse fields are first class.  Just like most of the amenities of Howard County.

Standing around watching the lacrosse match today in beautiful March weather I remembered all those early March days watching my daughters playing softball and freezing on cold, windy March days.  A few times we had to go into our car just to warm up.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Korean Veggie Pancake

   I know I have lately been fixated on the Asian foods from the International Family Market in Long Reach but I wanted to pass along another good find from the market.  The day I was there they were giving out samples of the Korean vegetable pancakes and I loved them.  Kind of a cross between a latke and a frittata.
  To make my pancake I added shredded carrot, shredded sweet potato, peas, corn, canned salmon, cheddar cheese, scallions, two eggs, the pancake batter and some milk.  A little oil in the frying pan and in 5 minutes you have dinner.  I tried it with both some sour cream and some soy dipping sauce.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A 5 year progress report on "Romneycare"

       To listen to the opponents of the federal health care reform legislation, critically called "Obamacare," you would think that it will be an expensive failure for our country.  But wouldn't you know it just in time for this year's election the 5 year results are in from Massachusetts on their health care program which was the model for the federal legislation.  A report just released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts paints a different portrait of the law than what you might be hearing from presidential candidates today. Massachusetts has under 2% of its population without health insurance down from 8% when the law was enacted and just 0.2% of children without health insurance.  These numbers are by far the lowest in the nation (16.3% is the US average) and comparable to many Western European countries. This is what the report states:
"The overarching goal of the 2006 Massachusetts health reform law was to achieve nearly universal health insurance coverage for the state's 6.5 million residents. In the five years since the law's enactment, that goal has been effectively achieved. An estimated 98.1 per­cent of Massachusetts residents have health insurance coverage, including 99.8 percent of children. The gains in coverage, most of which occurred during the first two years of health reform implementation, have been maintained despite the effects of the nation's severe and sustained economic downturn.
Expanded coverage has been accompanied by improved access to care, especially among low-income adults, with significant increases in physician office visits and the use of preventive care, and in the percentage of adults with a usual source of care. Fewer residents report they have unmet needs for care, with decreases especially notable among middle- and low-income residents, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with chronic diseases.
Almost 78 percent of insured Massachusetts residents receive their coverage through an employer and, although the number of enrollees in employer-based coverage has fallen since the start of the economic recession, employer participation in offering health insurance has risen under health reform. Seventy-seven percent of Massachusetts employers with three or more employees offered health insurance coverage to their employees in 2010, up seven percentage points since 2005. This compares with 69 percent of employers offering health coverage to their workers nationwide.
Public support for health reform has remained stable since the law was enacted. Two-thirds of the state's adults say they support Massachusetts health reform, and levels of support are similar among men and women, younger and older adults, and people with higher and lower incomes. The stakeholders and interest groups that helped forge an agreement on the 2006 law, including political leaders, consumer advocates, business groups, labor unions, hospitals, physicians, and health insurers, have remained engaged and largely supportive."
So if it's good for Massachusetts why is it bad for the rest of the Country??

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marriage Equality in Maryland: It's all about Family

      Last night I attended a meeting sponsored by Howard County PFLAG on the effort to defeat the probable referendum to override the Marriage Equality legislation that was signed recently by Gov. O'Malley.  Opponents are currently collecting signatures to put a referendum on this November's Maryland ballot.  This being on the ballot along with the initiative to overturn the in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants should give conservatives plenty of energy to get organized.

        With the increasing numbers of gay couples raising children the marriage equality movement has begun to show how this issue isn't just about two adults wanting recognition of their commitment for each other but also about their children having two parents who receive the same recognition as any other couple raising children.  Right now the non biological gay parent has to go through a legal adoption process to have parental rights for the children they are jointly raising.

      While progressive states move ahead on marriage equality the federal government with its DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) law, that limits marriage to a union of a man and a woman, continues to enforce discrimination on a federal level.  Gay couples don't have access to federal benefits of their spouses.  Social Security and veteran survivor benefits being the biggest benefit loss.  Bill Clinton has said that signing this law was one of his biggest regrets.  With the tone in DC these days overturning DOMA looks like it will take a lot longer than marriage equality in the states.  The younger generation will probably be the ones to finally overturn this regressive legislation. Amazingly even today 25% of voters in Mississippi think that it should have been illegal for Obama's parents to marry.

      Marriage equality will come eventually and the hope is that Maryland will be the first to have it has become legal by a vote of the state's voters.  All the other states have made it legal by a court or a legislature.  Maryland can show the way to a progressive future by being the first.

Internationally bestselling author, Jodi Picoult, will be at Miller Branch on March 16. The Teen Tech Lab will be unavailable, and a number of chairs will be set up throughout the branch. Even though registration is now closed you still might get in by checking out this library info.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Facebook Blues

        How often have you heard someone say they are quitting Facebook and yet cutting the cord  is something few of us do?  That feeling came to me recently when I inadvertently turned off all the thumbnail photos for my friends on Facebook.  I didn’t realize I was doing this when I unclicked a box that had inadvertently come up.  If anyone can tell me how to restore my friend’s thumbnail photos I would appreciate it.

       This leads me to the main reason for my frustration with Facebook.  They give us an opportunity to stay connect with many folks we rarely see or connect with on a regular basis but they force us to play by their rules which are designed to work only to their benefit.  Being able to change something you don’t like on Facebook is near impossible which is what they want.  Their account settings tab are worthless.  It doesn’t really give you the ability to change anything in your settings except your basic personal information.  Most other programs let you adjust your settings in many different ways.  I have become skilled at learning how to adjust settings in most of my programs but still can’t figure out how to do anything on Facebook.

        The help feature on Facebook is worthless! Type in even the simplest question and nothing even remotely addressing your question comes up.  Even googling the question only leads you to sites that want you to join or pay for the answer.  This only seems to happen with questions about Facebook.  Has Facebook figured out how to block any real answers on the web?  I know that sounds paranoid but the level of control that Facebook seems to want makes me paranoid.

        Everyday I am coming closer to pulling the plug on Facebook.  Its been interesting but our relationship has just become too complicated.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What plants are telling us about climate change

 The politicization of climate change has clouded the public discourse on climate change.  If you are a pro-oil drill believer you remain skeptical about scientific reports of glacial melt and just write it off as just the normal earth changes and caused by man's activity.  Of course changes in climate from year to year are not a basis for validating climate change.  Our snowy winter of 2 years ago has no more relevance to long term climate change than this year's very mild winter. That is where plant migration might indicate more long term changes that can be seen over a few decades.  Plant migration would remain fairly static if you at the normal climate changes.  For plants to continue to migrate into new regions takes a more long term change in the climate.  Since the map released in 1990 the zones have shifted north by one half zone. This report from the  Scientific America lays out the findings

“Chihuahuan desert plants like autumn sage, hummingbird mints, and desert willow trees thrive in the gardens that David Salman, president of Santa Fe Greenhouses, oversees. This wouldn't be the Chihuahuan desert. But Salman's display gardens are hundreds of miles north of the desert in Santa Fe. Thirty years ago, these plants wouldn't have survived that city's high elevation and chilly winters. And that's not the only change in New Mexico. Santa Fe has seen better fruit and vegetable gardens over the last 10 growing seasons, and fruits like cantaloupes, which barely stood a chance before, now grow. ‘Thirty years ago, trying to grow a cantaloupe was a complete waste of time,’ said Salman, who is president of Santa Fe Greenhouses. ‘We're not finding that to be the case now.’

Two thousand miles east, in the New York Botanical Garden, horticulturists have also been experimenting. Their Ladies' Border plot, a south-facing, well-protected garden filled with decorative plants, was replanted ten years ago with plants that weren't normally associated with New York, like crape myrtles and camellias. Those plants are thriving now. Travel south to Virginia and you'll find that vintners have been growing merlot grapes, a warmer weather grape that's now the second most popular variety in the state, rather than the chardonnay grapes, more tolerant to colder weather, which they were accustomed to 15 years ago. And the wine-growing regions have expanded all over the state as the season has gotten longer, said Tony Wolf, professor of viticulture at Virginia Tech. ‘The warmer winters have opened doors for vintners to try varieties that were once risky,’ Wolf said.”

 Are plants the canary in the mine? The Climate Change Initiative of Howard County is hosting a session on the impacts of climate change as seen from space: 
Observations from Space: Earth & Climate Change
Mar 24, 9am to Noon
Howard Community College in Columbia, MD
Rouse Company Foundation Student Hall (RCF 400)

NASA scientists will present the latest images from satellites and discuss the profound changes in the Earth’s climate at this forum. Topics will include changes in sea level, sea and land ice fields, biomass and the carbon cycle, and atmospheric composition. During a panel discussion following the lectures, the scientists, representatives from nongovernmental organizations and policymakers will discuss the implications of climate change, review the status of national policy and take questions from the audience.
This event is FREE - refreshments will be served. Exhibits will be open before and after the event and include representatives from NASA Earth science public outreach and local organizations.
The forum is sponsored by the Climate Change Initiative of Howard County, Howard Community College, Howard County government, and NASA.
For additional information and registration, visit:

      The USDA is conducting a nutrition survey to learn about the eating habits of children and adults. Given that only 5% of Americans follow the recommended dietary guidelines, we are interested in learning about the factors that prevent and promote compliance with the guidelines. Participants will be asked about their eating habits, physical activity levels, and lifestyle.

What: Help Americans eat towards a healthier lifestyle by 1) completing a survey about your eating habits and lifestyle, and 2) getting your height and weight measured. All surveys are completely anonymous and will be kept confidential. Entire process will take less than 2 hours. The survey will be administered to both student and parent/caregiver.

Who: 5th grade students in public schools AND their parent/caregiver
When/Where: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 4:30PM at Howard County Public Library Central Branch, 10375 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD -OR- Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 4:30PM at Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, 307B Center Road, Beltsville, MD 20705
When: Wednesday, March 21, 2012, at 4:30PM                 
Compensation: $25 gift card to Target/participant ($50/household)
How: Contact Grace via phone at 301.504.6052 or via email at to confirm your participation or to obtain additional information.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Difficulties with predicting the future

      I happened upon some predictions from 1900 about life in the year 2000 and thought it would be interesting to share these with you.  The problem with predictions so far in the future is that inventions that are totally new cannot be predicted.  What is predicted is new uses for things that are already known.  So new uses for the telephone were predicted but not the development of the Internet.  This is similar to Jim Rouse's idea in the 1960’s of getting feedback from Columbia residents through cable television and telephones.  He could not have seen how the Internet would be a much more practical way to get that information.  So here are 29 predictions some of which came true and some that are off base.  At the end are some of my predictions for 2100.

The Ladies Home Journal from December 1900, which contained a fascinating article by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years”.
Mr. Watkins wrote: “These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet, they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America. To the wisest and most careful men in our greatest institutions of science and learning I have gone, asking each in his turn to forecast for me what, in his opinion, will have been wrought in his own field of investigation before the dawn of 2001 - a century from now. These opinions I have carefully transcribed.”
Prediction #1: There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions by the lapse of another century. Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal. Mexico will be next. Europe, seeking more territory to the south of us, will cause many of the South and Central American republics to be voted into the Union by their own people.”
Prediction #2: The American will be taller by from one to two inches. His increase of stature will result from better health, due to vast reforms in medicine, sanitation, food and athletics. He will live fifty years instead of thirty-five as at present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The city house will practically be no more. Building in blocks will be illegal. The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.
Prediction #3: Gymnastics will begin in the nursery, where toys and games will be designed to strengthen the muscles. Exercise will be compulsory in the schools. Every school, college and community will have a complete gymnasium. All cities will have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.
Prediction #4:  There Will Be No Street Cars in Our Large Cities. All hurry traffic will be below or high above ground when brought within city limits. In most cities it will be confined to broad subways or tunnels, well lighted and well ventilated, or to high trestles with “moving-sidewalk” stairways leading to the top. These underground or overhead streets will teem with capacious automobile passenger coaches and freight with cushioned wheels. Subways or trestles will be reserved for express trains.  Cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.

Prediction #5:  Trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. To go from New York to San Francisco will take a day and a night by fast express.  There will be cigar-shaped electric locomotives hauling long trains of cars. Cars will, like houses, be artificially cooled. Along the railroads there will be no smoke, no cinders, because coal will neither be carried nor burned. There will be no stops for water. Passengers will travel through hot or dusty country regions with windows down.

Prediction #6:  Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today. Farmers will own automobile hay-wagons, automobile truck-wagons, plows, harrows and hay-rakes. A one-pound motor in one of these vehicles will do the work of a pair of horses or more. Children will ride in automobile sleighs in winter. Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse vehicle now known. There will be, as already exist today, automobile hearses, automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers. The horse in harness will be as scarce, if, indeed, not even scarcer, then as the yoked ox is today.

Prediction #7:  There will be air-ships, but they will not successfully compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger or freight traffic. They will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military nations. Some will transport men and goods. Others will be used by scientists making observations at great heights above the earth.
Prediction #8:  Aerial War-Ships and Forts on Wheels. Giant guns will shoot twenty-five miles or more, and will hurl anywhere within such a radius shells exploding and destroying whole cities. Such guns will be armed by aid of compasses when used on land or sea, and telescopes when directed from great heights. Fleets of air-ships, hiding themselves with dense, smoky mists, thrown off by themselves as they move, will float over cities, fortifications, camps or fleets. They will surprise foes below by hurling upon them deadly thunderbolts. These aerial war-ships will necessitate bomb-proof forts, protected by great steel plates over their tops as well as at their sides. Huge forts on wheels will dash across open spaces at the speed of express trains of to-day. They will make what are now known as cavalry charges. Great automobile plows will dig deep entrenchments as fast as soldiers can occupy them. Rifles will use silent cartridges. Submarine boats submerged for days will be capable of wiping a whole navy off the face of the deep. Balloons and flying machines will carry telescopes of one-hundred-mile vision with camera attachments, photographing an enemy within that radius. These photographs as distinct and large as if taken from across the street, will be lowered to the commanding officer in charge of troops below.

Prediction #9:  Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later. Even to-day photographs are being telegraphed over short distances.  Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colors.

Prediction #10:  Man will See Around the World. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span. American audiences in their theatres will view upon huge curtains before them the coronations of kings in Europe or the progress of battles in the Orient. The instrument bringing these distant scenes to the very doors of people will be connected with a giant telephone apparatus transmitting each incidental sound in its appropriate place. Thus the guns of a distant battle will be heard to boom when seen to blaze, and thus the lips of a remote actor or singer will be heard to utter words or music when seen to move.

Prediction #11: No Mosquitoes nor Flies.  Insect screens will be unnecessary.  Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated.  Boards of health will have destroyed all mosquito haunts and breeding-grounds, drained all stagnant pools, filled in all swamp-lands, and chemically treated all still-water streams.  The extermination of the horse and its stable will reduce the house-fly.

Prediction #12:  Peas as Large as Beets.  Peas and beans will be as large as beets are to-day.  Sugar cane will produce twice as much sugar as the sugar beet now does.  Cane will once more be the chief source of our sugar supply.  The milkweed will have been developed into a rubber plant.  Cheap native rubber will be harvested by machinery all over this country.  Plants will be made proof against disease microbes just as readily as man is to-day against smallpox.  The soil will be kept enriched by plants which take their nutrition from the air and give fertility to the earth.

Prediction #13:  Strawberries as Large as Apples will be eaten by our great-great-grandchildren for their Christmas dinners a hundred years hence.  Raspberries and blackberries will be as large.  One will suffice for the fruit course of each person.  Strawberries and cranberries will be grown upon tall bushes.  Cranberries, gooseberries and currants will be as large as oranges.  One cantaloupe will supply an entire family.  Melons, cherries, grapes, plums, apples, pears, peaches and all berries will be seedless.  Figs will be cultivated over the entire United States.

Prediction #14:  Black, Blue and Green Roses.  Roses will be as large as cabbage heads. 

Violets will grow to the size of orchids.  A pansy will be as large in diameter as a sunflower.  A century ago the pansy measured but half an inch across its face.  There will be black, blue and green roses.  It will be possible to grow any flower in any color and to transfer the perfume of a scented flower to another which is odorless.  Then may the pansy be given the perfume of the violet. 

Prediction #15:  No Foods will be Exposed.  Storekeepers who expose food to air breathed out by patrons or to the atmosphere of the busy streets will be arrested with those who sell stale or adulterated produce.  Liquid-air refrigerators will keep great quantities of food fresh for long intervals.

Prediction #16: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.

Prediction #17: How Children will be Taught. A university education will be free to every man and woman. Several great national universities will have been established. Children will study a simple English grammar adapted to simplified English, and not copied after the Latin. Time will be saved by grouping like studies. Poor students will be given free board, free clothing and free books if ambitious and actually unable to meet their school and college expenses. Medical inspectors regularly visiting the public schools will furnish poor children free eyeglasses, free dentistry and free medical attention of every kind. The very poor will, when necessary, get free rides to and from school and free lunches between sessions. In vacation time poor children will be taken on trips to various parts of the world. Etiquette and housekeeping will be important studies in the public schools.

Prediction #18: Telephones Around the World. Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn. By an automatic signal they will connect with any circuit in their locality without the intervention of a “hello girl”.

Prediction #19:  Grand Opera will be telephoned to private homes, and will sound as harmonious as though enjoyed from a theatre box. Automatic instruments reproducing original airs exactly will bring the best music to the families of the untalented. Great musicians gathered in one enclosure in New York will, by manipulating electric keys, produce at the same time music from instruments arranged in theatres or halls in San Francisco or New Orleans, for instance. Thus will great bands and orchestras give long-distance concerts. In great cities there will be public opera-houses whose singers and musicians are paid from funds endowed by philanthropists and by the government. The piano will be capable of changing its tone from cheerful to sad. Many devises will add to the emotional effect of music. 

Prediction #20: Coal will not be used for heating or cooking. It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted. The earth’s hard coal will last until the year 2050 or 2100; its soft-coal mines until 2200 or 2300. Meanwhile both kinds of coal will have become more and more expensive. Man will have found electricity manufactured by waterpower to be much cheaper. Every river or creek with any suitable fall will be equipped with water-motors, turning dynamos, making electricity. Along the seacoast will be numerous reservoirs continually filled by waves and tides washing in. Out of these the water will be constantly falling over revolving wheels. All of our restless waters, fresh and salt, will thus be harnessed to do the work which Niagara is doing today: making electricity for heat, light and fuel.

Prediction #21: Hot and Cold Air from Spigots. Hot or cold air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house as we now turn on hot or cold water from spigots to regulate the temperature of the bath. Central plants will supply this cool air and heat to city houses in the same way as now our gas or electricity is furnished. Rising early to build the furnace fire will be a task of the olden times. Homes will have no chimneys, because no smoke will be created within their walls.

Prediction #22: Store Purchases by Tube. Pneumatic tubes, instead of store wagons, will deliver packages and bundles. These tubes will collect, deliver and transport mail over certain distances, perhaps for hundreds of miles. They will at first connect with the private houses of the wealthy; then with all homes. Great business establishments will extend them to stations, similar to our branch post-offices of today, whence fast automobile vehicles will distribute purchases from house to house.

Prediction #23: Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today. They will purchase materials in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking. Food will be served hot or cold to private houses in pneumatic tubes or automobile wagons. The meal being over, the dishes used will be packed and returned to the cooking establishments where they will be washed. Such wholesale cookery will be done in electric laboratories rather than in kitchens. These laboratories will be equipped with electric stoves, and all sorts of electric devices, such as coffee-grinders, egg-beaters, stirrers, shakers, parers, meat-choppers, meat-saws, potato-mashers, lemon-squeezers, dish-washers, dish-dryers and the like. All such utensils will be washed in chemicals fatal to disease microbes. Having one’s own cook and purchasing one’s own food will be an extravagance.

Prediction #24: Vegetables Grown by Electricity. Winter will be turned into summer and night into day by the farmer. In cold weather he will place heat-conducting electric wires under the soil of his garden and thus warm his growing plants. He will also grow large gardens under glass. At night his vegetables will be bathed in powerful electric light, serving, like sunlight, to hasten their growth. Electric currents applied to the soil will make valuable plants grow larger and faster, and will kill troublesome weeds. Rays of colored light will hasten the growth of many plants. Electricity applied to garden seeds will make them sprout and develop unusually early.

Prediction #25: Oranges will grow in Philadelphia. Fast-flying refrigerators on land and sea will bring delicious fruits from the tropics and southern temperate zone within a few days. The farmers of South America, South Africa, Australia and the South Sea Islands, whose seasons are directly opposite to ours, will thus supply us in winter with fresh summer foods, which cannot be grown here. Scientist will have discovered how to raise here many fruits now confined to much hotter or colder climates. Delicious oranges will be grown in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Cantaloupes and other summer fruits will be of such a hardy nature that they can be stored through the winter as potatoes are now.

Prediction #26: Strawberries as large as apples will be eaten by our great great grandchildren for their Christmas dinners a hundred years hence. Raspberries and blackberries will be as large. One will suffice for the fruit course of each person. Strawberries and cranberries will be grown upon tall bushes. Cranberries, gooseberries and currants will be as large as oranges. One cantaloupe will supply an entire family. Melons, cherries, grapes, plums, apples, pears, peaches and all berries will be seedless. Figs will be cultivated over the entire United States.

Prediction #27: Few drugs will be swallowed or taken into the stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself. Drugs needed by the lungs, for instance, will be applied directly to those organs through the skin and flesh. They will be carried with the electric current applied without pain to the outside skin of the body. Microscopes will lay bare the vital organs, through the living flesh, of men and animals. The living body will to all medical purposes be transparent. Not only will it be possible for a physician to actually see a living, throbbing heart inside the chest, but he will be able to magnify and photograph any part of it. This work will be done with rays of invisible light.

Prediction #28: There will be no wild animals except in menageries. Rats and mice will have been exterminated. The horse will have become practically extinct. A few of high breed will be kept by the rich for racing, hunting and exercise. The automobile will have driven out the horse. Cattle and sheep will have no horns. They will be unable to run faster than the fattened hog of today. A century ago the wild hog could outrun a horse. Food animals will be bred to expend practically all of their life energy in producing meat, milk, wool and other by-products. Horns, bones, muscles and lungs will have been neglected.

Prediction #29: To England in Two Days. Fast electric ships, crossing the ocean at more than a mile a minute, will go from New York to Liverpool in two days. The bodies of these ships will be built above the waves. They will be supported upon runners, somewhat like those of the sleigh. These runners will be very buoyant. Upon their under sides will be apertures expelling jets of air. In this way a film of air will be kept between them and the water’s surface. This film, together with the small surface of the runners, will reduce friction against the waves to the smallest possible degree. Propellers turned by electricity will screw themselves through both the water beneath and the air above. Ships with cabins artificially cooled will be entirely fireproof. In storm they will dive below the water and there await fair weather.

My predictions for 2100:
1)      Because of the growth of the Internet English will be the universal language of the world.
2)      Religious belief will be dramatically reduced in Western culture (especially in Western Europe and more slowly in the US) and religions will be primarily focused in the third world
3)      World trade and interconnected economies will have developed a world currency that will be an electronic currency and not paper or coin
4)      On the positive side world population will have stabilized because of almost universal birth control.
5)      The loss of almost the entire Amazon rain forest and other negative environment changes will have caused severe adjustments to a more polluted world.
6)      Medicine will have moved almost entirely to non-invasive methods that have eliminated the need for most surgeries.
7)      The Orioles will start the baseball season with a prediction of finally finishing at .500 because their talented young pitchers will finally reach the performance level that made them high draft picks with so much potential.  Their 68th General Manager since 2012 will express that the he will return the team to the “Oriole Way” that generations long ago once remembered.