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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Howard County's connection to Haiti: Build Haiti Foundation

      I have blogged many times on the ethnic diversity that has made Howard County such an exciting place to live.  We are fortunate to have representative populations from many different countries.  Today I would like to highlight one more.  Many of us are familiar with the Korean and Hispanic populations in Howard County because of the many restaurants and food markets that cater to both populations.  While it doesn't have the same visibility the Haitian population numbers about 6000 in the County.
      The Build Haiti Foundation is a charity based in Howard County led by Jean-Robert  (Bob) Anantua.  The Foundation, started in 2006, has a dual role of working on development projects in Haiti and education programs in the United States. 
    The Foundation has worked to build homes, schools, libraries, sports fields and a health clinic.  They Foundation is interested in establishing a micro-financing project to provide seed funding to assist individuals to start their own businesses. The Foundation has plans to take groups of volunteers to Haiti to do some of this work. This Haiti trip is being planned for early July. It is self-funded trip for the participants and requires a budget of $1,500 which should cover all expenses. Moreover, we are also recruiting mentors who can support our local mentor/leadership programs. Anyone interested in joining the BHF Volunteer Network may send them an email at
     These are especially important after the devastation of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.  Already one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere the poor construction of buildings left over 200,000 dead and over 2 million homeless.

     The second focus of the Foundation is  the " Academy for Responsible Citizens (ARC), a BHF signature program, with a focus on leadership development, is in its second year. Last year ARC served over 130 students and BHF looks to increase that number with the help of sponsors and supporters." This program mentors and tutors Haitian students in our area.  They are always looking for volunteers for this program.  If  you or your organization wishes to partner with The Build Haiti Foundation, contact them at or call us at (410)205-2444.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Marriage Equality gets big boost

   With President Obama's belated recent endorsement of marriage equality, Gen. Colin Powell endorsement and the NAACP endorsement the possibility of our November referendum vote turning back the effort to repeal the Maryland law for marriage equality has received a big boost.  According to the Public Policy Polling 55% of African Americans say they support marriage equality which is an increase from just over 30% over past polls. With African Americans making up almost 25% of Maryland voters this 180 degree change is significant.  This change leaves opposition mostly to religious conservatives.  These developments may give Maryland voters the first opportunity to have marriage equality approved in a decision by voters.

     President Obama has taken the expected criticism of many supporters for not advancing the causes he advocated during his campaign but with the ending of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Justice Department's decision to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act and now his endorsement of marriage equality, he should be commended.

   Tonight there is a PLAG meeting at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center to discuss the plans to defeat the expected November referendum on marriage equality.  This is the information on that meeting:

"On Wednesday, May 30 at 7:00 PM we will begin our series of statewide strategy meetings with all of our Maryland PFLAG chapter members to provide important updates about the effort to defend marriage equality in the state, and talk about activities to help educate and engage our loved ones, neighbors, co-workers and fellow parishioners to vote to keep this important law on the books.

What: MD PFLAG State Chapter Member 
Who: All MD PFLAG Chapter Members are encouraged to attend!
When: Wednesday, May 30 @ 7 pm
Where: Owen Brown Interfaith Center (7246 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, Maryland 21045)
Why: Learn about current status of the state's marriage equality law, and learn what PFLAG can do to protect it!

Please join us for this meeting where you will hear from Marylanders for Marriage Equality, Equality Maryland Executive Director, Carrie Evans, PFLAG National Policy Director, Rhodes Perry, PFLAG National Field Manager, Jamie Curtis, and our special guest, Senator Rich Madaleno. 

1.     Introductions & Meeting Goal 
2.     Campaign Update from Marylanders for Marriage Equality & Equality Maryland
3.     NC Amendment One: Lessons Learned
4.     Key Talking Points for PFLAG chapters
5.     Chapter Activities to Help Educate Communities Statewide
6.     Question & Answers 

Over the next 5 months, we have an unprecedented opportunity to engage in conversations discussing how important it is for ALL couples – straight or gay - to have the freedom to marry, and we look forward to talking with you and your chapter members in more detail about ways we can succeed in keeping this law on the books."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Connecting Columbia Pathway system

        With over 95 miles of paths Columbia has one of the most connected systems for walking or biking.  Now the Columbia Association has been holding meetings to get community input into improving the current system with a possible addition of 45 to 50 more miles of paths.  Given the large attendance at these meetings it is apparent that the path system is an important amenity for many Columbians.

      The current system has some gaps the require walkers and bikers to use roadways to reconnect to other paths.  The areas that seem to be the biggest source of gaps are around the commercial areas of Columbia.  Walking or biking to the Mall, Dobbin Center or the shopping centers that have the big box stores in East Columbia require walkers or bikers to travel a road system that never planned for this mode of access.  Most of us would not feel safe using the roads around these locations.  When I bike I stay off most of the roads in Columbia because of the unsafe conditions for bikers.  I regularly bike in Allview Estates because of the lack of traffic on those roads.

     Last week I attended a Connecting Columbia meeting that highlighted the interplay between the Columbia Association and Howard County Government .  Many of the connections in the pathway system might involve improvement to Howard County roads.  The Howard County Department of Public Works has painted bike lanes on Stevens Forest Road in a pilot of a greater use of these lanes on more of our roads.  Below is a picture of the lanes from one bloggers post.

      It is a good start but as the pictures below that I have previously posted from other communities show it is a very modest beginning. A link to the presentation

Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Reading

        One of the joys of summer is to find a book that you can't put down and have to read chapter to chapter quickly.  Once this was confined to the week at the beach but this past few summers it has started on Memorial Day and stretched throughout the summer.  There is something about having a cold drink, sitting out on the deck and reading that can't be matched inside.  

     Past years have tended to be a mixture of fiction and nonfiction.  Summer seems to be the only time I mix in some fiction.  Presumed Innocent, The Help and The Da Vinci Code fit the bill for a good fiction read.  A Walk in the Woods and Unbroken are both non fiction books I would recommend.  One of my favorite all time books is The World is Flat which explains so much of what we are experiencing in the world today. One summer at the beach I must have looking for something scarier and I read The Stranger Beside Me and Helter Skelter. Both books I couldn't put down. Just be sure to lock your doors at night!

   On my reading list this summer are The Passage of Power about LBJ's presidency, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, Imagine: How Creativity Works and Freedom's Cap: the US Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War.  I haven't found a good fiction book yet but am open to suggestions.

   Give your children the gift of reading this summer.  From the Howard County Library: 

 "Kick off summer reading on Saturday, June 2 at Miller Branch. Sign up for a summer reading club and participate in a day of fun including children's stories, face painting, crafts, and activities for children, teens, and adults. Library staff will be on hand to recommend great books for teens and adults.

Register for a summer reading club!
Wee Dream - (infant - age 3)
Dream Big Read - (ages 4-10)
Own the Night - (entering grade 6+)
Great Reads for Staycay & Vacay - (high school students & adults)

Kick-Off Schedule:
10 - 2 - Face painting & crafts
10 - 2 - Star Wars costumed characters (Old Line Garrison of the 501st Legion, and Terrapin Base)
10 - 2 - Wii games (for teens)
10 - 2 - Scavenger Hunt (for teens)
10:30 - 11:30 - The Bubble Lady
11:30 - 11:45 - Stories (children's classroom)
12 - 12:15 - Stories (children's classroom)
12:30 - 1:30 - Science Spectacular with Eric Energy
1:30 - 1:45 - Stories (children's classroom)

The Bubble Lady entertains all ages as she makes gigantic bubbles, long bubbles, smoke bubbles, and puts audience members inside a giant bubble.

Science Spectacular presents an interactive class with the wacky scientist Eric Energy. He performs visual science experiments relating to air, matter, and sound, producing vortex fog rings, bubbling potions, and a voice changer."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Orioles pitching phemon Dylan Bundy wins first game for Frederick Keys

     The only thing that has been good about the losing seasons of the Orioles is that they have had high draft choices that give us some hope for the future.  With Adam Jones being locked into a long term contract and Matt Wieters showing the promise of a first round draftee and future talents like Manny Machado playing well in Bowie the Orioles look like they have a promising future with these potential stars.
  Last night I traveled out to Frederick to see 19 year old Dylan Bundy pitch his first game for the Frederick Keys. Over 9,000 were in attendance at the park and the hyped appearance of Bundy brought out an overflow crowd.  After dominating at Salisbury with the Shorebirds by only giving up 5 hits in his eight appearances and earning a 0.00 ERA with 40 strikeouts the expectations are sky high for Bundy.  His start tonight showed that this step up won't be as easy.  The first batter he faced hit a single and his ERA won't be the same after a Salem Red Sox player hit a two run homer off him.  His fastball clocked in the 92-94 mph range and his change up was in the low 70's.  It did keep many batters off stride but his frequent change up had batters beginning to look for it and a number of pitches were hit hard.  Fortunately for Bundy his Keys teammates scored three runs for him in the bottom of the fourth inning to regain the lead and provide him with the opportunity to get the win by pitching the fifth inning and not giving up the lead.  The Keys bullpen only gave up one more run to give Bundy the win.

   It will be interesting to see his progression in the minor leagues this year and see how quickly he can move up to the next level in Bowie. Baltimore might be a year or two away but at 19 he has some time on is side.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Start the Summer outside this weekend

     The weather looks great so take advantage of it by getting out this weekend.  I have a few suggestions for everyone.  How about eating out at a local restaurant with outdoor seating? One year ago I had these suggested places.
 On Sunday the National Memorial Day Concert on the Capitol grounds is always a great way to celebrate the holiday.
   The Bowie Baysox are home this weekend and have a few extras this weekend and maybe even catch a couple of Baltimore Orioles on rehab assignment.  In Frederick with the Keys Oriole recently promoted phenom Dylan Bundy pitches on Saturday.
     For those willing to venture a little farther away we have a great national wildlife refuge in Blackwater off Route 50 just 10 miles below Cambridge, MD.  I would suggest trying this on Sunday to avoid the Bay Bridge traffic this weekend.  Best time to visit is in the late afternoon and watch the sunset over this great refuge.  Some sections of Blackwater remind me of the Everglades Park and yet you are just a couple hours away from HoCo.  If you haven't been to this refuge you are missing one of the best things in our area. If you want to make a day of it visit St. Michaels and eat on the deck of the Crab Claw and then take your car on the Oxford Ferry.  If time permits a ride out to Hooper's Island is great.  All of this is the Eastern Shore at its best and without the crowds of Ocean City.
   For those wanting to stay a little closer to home visit the Robinson Nature Center.  Or take a nature walk on the path from Lake Elkhorn under Brokenland Parkway all the way to Vollmerhausen--about a 6 mile round trip through the most scenic trail in Howard County.

 Finally for those of you wanting to grill this weekend try some fish (brush on some lime and soy sauce) or shrimp with pineapple and mango slices.

P. S.
To further get in the summer mood a little island music. Margaritaville   

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Facebook Dropout

     The fiasco with the public offering of stock in Facebook is only the latest in the decline of the Facebook phenomenon.  Now it seems that Morgan Stanley, an underwriter of the public offering, is in trouble by only providing its negative assessment of the stock to its best customers.  While Facebook has been useful as a social network it now seems to have lost sight of its original purpose in its pursuit of a successful way to monetize its brand.  It is now just annoying in its desire to gain information about its users.  Socialcam and Farmville users annoy those of us who could care less how you waste your time.

    I have found Facebook to be a useful way to gain information from organizations that I have used in this blog.  I have been able to connect again with high school friends that I haven't seen in many years. So I will continue to check Facebook every once in a while.  I wouldn't be surprised if the recent events will have the same effect on many other people.  Many times being too successful can be the death knell for many initially successful endeavors.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Security in a post 9-11 world

     We have all lived with the increased security that has been a fact of life since 9-11.  We have accepted empty our pockets, taking off our shoes and even pat downs at the airport.  Getting into federal buildings in DC almost always requires going through a metal detector. Remember when you could walk into a state or county office building without signing in?
    I remember running past the building above in Jersey City (the tallest building in New Jersey) and noticing all the security and barriers to get into the building.  I looked for a sign to see who was in the building but there was no sign.  I finally stopped to ask a security guard who was in the building and I was told it was the headquarters for Goldman Sachs and the company didn't want to advertise the fact.  Notice how it seems to be incomplete at the top?  The building was under construction when 9-11 happened and they decided that completing it to its planned original height might make it a target for terrorists.
  Anyone guess which Fortune 500 company headquarters this building is?  Try Proctor and Gamble.  When I was in Cincinnati a few years ago I thought I would go by the building as I worked summer jobs at a P&G plant when I was in college.  The strange thing was that there were no signs around the building to identify the headquarters.  I later learned that the signage was taken down a few years before when conservative religious groups ran a campaign saying that the P&G logo with the crescent moon and stars was a sign of satanic worship.  The concern of an attack against the building brought the signs down.
   Here in Columbia we have not been untouched by this increased security at some of our buildings. Notice the iron gates and manned guard gates at some of the buildings in Columbia like the one above?
  This Columbia building even has razor wire on top of the gated fencing.  It is hard to tell what these buildings are but no one would be surprised at top secret work being done in our community.  With the new 5 billion dollar NSA facility now being built at Ft. Meade we shouldn't be surprised that some of the private contractors of NSA would be locating new offices in our area.

   I just wonder sometimes if the money being spent for all this increased homeland security isn't turning us into an overly paranoid country.

Tonight is a meeting of the Columbia Association Connecting Columbia group.  From their email about the meeting:

" Come, learn about and discuss the preliminary recommendations for Connecting Columbia -- CA’s Active Transportation Action Agenda. This is your chance to shape the recommendations to improve connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists in Columbia before they are finalized.
Please join us on May 23rd at The Other Barn (5851 Robert Oliver Place Columbia, MD 21045) at 7:00pm for the Connecting Columbia public meeting. CA’s consultants will present preliminary recommendations. Registration is appreciated, but not required. If you have any questions, please contact Scott Templin at 410-715-3166 or"

Recommended Blog for today HoCo Rising on power

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The controversary over parenting techniques seems to never end!

  I don't know about your family but the Time cover article last week that showed a mother who still breastfeed her 3 year old has been a big topic of our family discussions this past week.  Of course it helps that 2 of my daughters are pregnant and my daughter-in-law just gave birth to our 4th grandson last week.  With my one daughter who is due anytime now knowing that she is having a boy we are sure on a run of boys in our family.  Somewhere out there I am sure that someone is having girls to balance things out.

    Each generation has new theories on the role of parents or more accurately the role of mothers.  From Dr. Spock and formula feeding of my parents generation to the greater role for men in parenting and the return of breastfeeding of the 1970's and 80's we are told there is a right way and a wrong way to raise children.  Start a conversation on the proper use of discipline with children in a group of parents and you will get a heated discussion of the manner in which to use discipline.  It will run from the "my parents spanked me and it didn't harm me" belief to the parents who use "time outs" and "positive direction." Last weeks Modern Family had a very funny scene on this area.

    One of the most controversial areas with the Time article dealt with how to respond to a crying baby. Dr. William Sears the author of "The Baby Book" presents the case for responding to your child whenever they cry by holding the baby to comfort them.  This flies in the face of the belief that children should learn how to comfort themselves and not expect constant attention from a parent.  Of course most parents take a tract that is somewhere in between.  From personal experience I know how tiring it can be to get up to comfort a crying child 10 or 12 times a night (yes my wife did most of the comforting).  Exhaustion caused us to let our children cry at night so that they eventually learned to sleep through the night.  In a similar fashion we gave up on not using a pacifier to comfort a crying infant.  No one who hasn't tried to comfort a crying infant for hours can ever judge a parent using a pacifier.  That doesn't mean that seeing a 3 or 4 year old with a pacifier isn't maybe overdoing it.

   As the picture on the Time cover shows the final controversy of the article was on breastfeeding.  The topic of women breastfeeding in public seems to sharply divide much of our population. This has become more of an issue with women now returning to the workforce soon after giving birth.  The use of breast pumps and having special rooms in the workplace are becoming the norm for more working mothers.  The length of breastfeeding has now become a badge of honor for mothers.  The example of 3 years with the mother in the Time cover maybe extreme but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 6 months.

   You might think it is usual for a male blogger to be blogging on this topic but the reaction to the Time article that I had was that it still mostly involved the predominate role of the mother in parenting.  It did have a sidebar on fathers but that was mostly an afterthought.  What is it in the male makeup that doesn't recognize the importance of our role in raising children.  Is it all about testosterone and estrogen?

A few years ago I was a volunteer on the Family Tree Parent Stressline.  While it was originally designed to lessen child abuse it evolved into an I&R service for parents looking for all types of support services.  Birthing classes, counselors for ADHD and how to deal with teenager issues were common calls.  If a resource existed where parents could send their teenagers for awhile that would have been a very popular service.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Columbia Wetlands: Something to be valued and preserved

  I have been watching the restoration of the wetlands that were impacted by the new sewer line to  the Savage/Laurel area.  The restoration has been complete for a few months and the area is starting to regain some of the natural growth that was disturbed by the work to the installation of the sewer line.

     The picture above is a wetland taken last week after a heavy rain.  The wetland serves us in a few different ways.  First it lessens the flooding and erosion that could be caused by heavy rains.  Last year this area was completely flooded and I had to walk through about 6 inches of water on the path above.  Second it provides water for plants that need a great deal of water to grow as skunk weed pictured below.
  As was pointed out in yesterday's blog the US is losing wetland areas rapidly.  The US is losing 1000 acres of wetlands a day. The efforts of developers to build housing and a golf course near the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore were highlighted a few years ago in many articles in the Baltimore Sun. We are fortunate in this area that the development of Columbia took into consideration the preservation of wetlands.  As I wrote in my May 2nd blog from one of the planners of Columbia,

" The staff had done a good deal of geographic work. The best stands of forest - and there are some magnificent individual trees as well as forests - had been plotted, and the areas providing views to the community had been exploited or preserved for common use and had been mapped (about 40% of Columbia is green space). The streams had been studied as to their usual and unusual flow patterns so that areas safe from flooding were known. The function of the streams in providing barriers within the area had been looked into and their possible function in supplying artificial lakes for recreation (Lake Kittaquandi, Wilde Lake and Elkhorn). Their steep banks in some areas precluded building economically on them and made them obvious candidates for relatively uncultivated, natural areas not to "be lightly interfered with."

Many of our wetlands are traversed by elevated bridges to less the environmental impact on the areas.
The wetlands provide an environment that is rich in animal habitats.  This area is heavily populated by fox and deer like the picture below.
And of course the birds and ducks

  So how does the loss of wetlands affect humans directly? According to a recent article I read,

"wetlands offer one of the best natural protections against flooding since they act as giant pads that soak up the excess rain and surface water. Because of the natural topography of wetlands, this absorbed water is evenly distributed over a large expanse and is almost immediately sucked into the ground where it feeds wetland plants that are specially suited to being either completely or partially submerged. In addition to this, the height of the ground is leveled and erosion is either halted or slowed. This action is even more important to have near large cities because they absorb the high degree of runoff. It is equally useful in agricultural areas where drainage is nearly always a problem which is sometimes even further compounded by the dredging operations that were meant to assist with the problem. Wetlands are also vital near large bodies of water as they help minimize the amount of erosion and take in the energy of waves as well as change the currents near rivers or fast-moving streams. Aside from these more geographical benefits to wetlands, they also influence the quality of drinking water supplies since they absorb many contaminants that find their way into groundwater."

Additionally the loss of wetlands can impact the strength of storms hitting our coastal regions.  This was pointed out in Environmental Health Perspectives,

"Hurricane Katrina’s disastrous flooding of the Gulf Coast confirmed three decades of warnings by scientists. Most of New Orleans is below sea level, and South Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, which once helped buffer the city from giant storms, have been disappearing at a spectacularly swift pace. Now some researchers are calling for restoration of wetlands and barrier islands to help protect New Orleans the next time a hurricane strikes. An average of 34 square miles of South Louisiana land, mostly marsh, has disappeared each year for the past five decades, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). As much as 80% of the nation’s coastal wetland loss in this time occurred in Louisiana. From 1932 to 2000, the state lost 1,900 square miles of land to the Gulf of Mexico.
By 2050, if nothing is done to stop this process, the state could lose another 700 square miles, and one-third of 1930s coastal Louisiana will have vanished. Importantly, New Orleans and surrounding areas will become ever more vulnerable to future storms. “New Orleans can’t be restored unless we also address coastal and wetland restoration too,” says Craig E. Colten, a geographer at Louisiana State University (LSU)."
The west coast got to see this solar eclipse which is shown in the photo above taken from the International Space Station.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

National Wildlife Refuge Center

  On the way to Bowie Baysox games on route 197 in Laurel I have passed the National Wildlife Refuge Center many times and always thought it would be interesting to visit someday.  Today with the nice weather I decided to make the visit.  The Center has been actively involved in working to save endangered species.
    Among the animals they have worked intensively to save from going extinct is the whooping crane. From just 23 cranes alive in the early 1940's to today over 400 cranes the research done at the Center has greatly reduced the risk of these cranes going extinct.  As the exhibit on extinction showed
that if we continue with the environmental impacts of modern life we could lose 1/2 the current species in 150 years.  Changing habitats and weather are having a dramatic impact on many plants and animals.  The problem with the rapid disappearance of the honey bees is one example of how our activities impact animals.
    Another animal the Center has been actively trying to save is the Bald Eagle.  Once threatened by extinction from the use of DDT it now has been removed from the threatened species list.
  Outside the Center are good examples of the different natural environments in our area.  Above is one of the many wetland areas in the Refuge.
  Above is one of the many lily ponds
    As the exhibit above shows, over 1000 acres of wetlands are lost in the US every day. I will be posting more about the importance of wetland areas around Columbia tomorrow. 

An example of new forest growth with heavy fern growth near the Center

Check out the Center sometime this summer to learn about our changing environment.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Best Margarita Pizza with a twist, weekend events (and a great song for the weekend)

   I have heard many people tell me that margarita pizzas are too bland without all the usual toppings.  I believe that the margarita pizza is the only "true" pizza.  Pizza with a lot of toppings ruin the taste of a pizza.  One way that I do make a margarita have more flavor is to use sliced smoked mozzarella.  If you have never tried it with a smoked mozzarella you have missed something special on a pizza.  My recipe for a great margarita pizza.

1) Good pizza dough (I actually like the pizza dough balls from Sam's Club that you get where they make their pizzas).  Roll out with a rolling pin.

2) Canned Cento San Marzano plum tomatoes( I get mine at Costco).  I cut my canned tomatoes in half and spread on the dough.

3) Spread some ground or crushed garlic over the tomatoes.

4) Slice the smoked mozzarella cheese (found mine at BJ's recently) and spread them over the tomatoes.  I sometimes deviate from the traditional to add a little smoked prosciutto (found at Costco also) on top. Other limited toppings to try are onions or red pepper flakes

Heat on pizza stone that has been heated in a 550 degree oven.

Add chopped basil on top after pizza comes out of the oven.


Busy weekend in HoCo with Wine in the Woods and
the Columbia Triathlon.  Must be keeping all the Parks and Rec folks working this weekend!

I don't always remember where I was when I heard of the death of a musician but I do remember my drive to work in 1973 when I heard of the death of Jim Croce.  One of his best songs is the music video of the week

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bike to Work Day

     With May being national bike month today is officially "Bike to Work Day."  From 7-9 am today at the Columbia Mall you can get on-the go snacks and extra t-shirts or goodies! L.L Bean at the Mall is hosting a L.L. Bean tent at The Mall in Columbia for Bike to Work Day 2012.  Our staff will deliver clinics on basic bike road repair and basic bike maintenance. See demonstrations featuring bikes from days ago, and be sure to register for various raffle prizes and swag at

     Yesterday at Cradlerock School in Columbia it was bike to school day where a large number of children biked to school.  Many were accompanied by their parents. 
    Our community still has a long way to go to become more bike friendly on our roads.  Bikes have never been considered in the design of any of our County roadways.  I did a blog earlier this year to show how some communities have made their streets more bike friendly.

How times change with different housing goals in Columbia.  These two stories show the change.  Harper House and Town Center development.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Be all that you used to be: One baby boomer's confession

We baby boomers are good at one thing---denying the advances of age (remember we are the generation that once proclaimed "never trust anyone over 30)." This was brought home to me again in a recent exercise session I recently attended at Lifetime.  Looking for something to really challenge my aging body I asked one to the Lifetime staff what would be a tough workout session.  I was told that the Total Conditioning session was probably the toughest workout session they offered. So denying the reality of my aging body I went to a class.  Big mistake!  I walked into a room of woman in their 20's and early 30's who all looked like gymnasts and very physically fit. All half my age.  No other men.  One participant was warming up by doing splits that any cheerleader would envy.  Do women have an extra hinge in their joints that allow them to do this? How do you sneak out of a room when you feel this intimidated?

So while I am contemplating an escape route the instructor comes in and starts out by saying that she hopes everyone realizes this is a 75 minute class and she hopes she doesn't see anyone sneaking out after 60 minutes.  My idea was much less ambitious---like after 10 minutes!  Was this instructor a drill sargent in another career? 

You do some heavy aerobic exercise and then recover by lifting barbells!  Holy s___!  I am dripping sweat while everyone else is dancing around like they are barely exercising! The instructor was nice enough to come over and show me how I was doing all the exercises wrong.  Wrong? I am just trying to survive this and not have to visit a chiropractor tomorrow. Why was I so vain to think I could do this stuff?  Be all that you used to be? This went far beyond anything I ever was!

Maybe the next time I start thinking this stupidly I should just remember what my kids tell me all the time---"Face it Dad you are not getting old---you are old!"  Anyone know of a good chiropractor?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Family "Bucket List"???

     I recently read a report about a woman who had created a family bucket list.  Most of us are tired of hearing about these types of lists but somehow a family bucket list sounded worth considering.  The whole idea of a bucket list first started in 2007 with the movie "The Bucket List" starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two elderly patients who wanted to do things they had missed before they died.  A movie with two of my favorite actors was enough for me to see it and it was mildly entertaining.

     Of course creating a family bucket list is a little more complicated for me with my children out of the house and scattered around the country.  It would have been easier when they were children living at home.  I guess my list would include those things that I have always fantasized about doing with the family if I won the lottery.  My quick list would look like this:
1) Taking the entire family to tour Italy that would end with a visit to each of the towns alone the Amalfi Coast.
2) Family hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
3) Attending the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square and then flying overnight to Pasadena California for the Rose Parade the following day
4) Pizza dinner at Grimaldi's in New York followed by a Broadway show
5) What list would be complete without the family visit to Disney World?

Any thoughts on an item you would put on your family bucket list?

Register for the Library's 5K run

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Columbia Archives Walking Tours

   This past Saturday the Columbia Archives hosted the first walking tours of areas around Town Center.  The beautiful weather brought out a large number of walkers to go on one of three tours.  I choose the tour of the Birches section of Wilde Lake.
       This neighborhood had always interested me when I would bike through this area.  The homes are all customized unlike many neighborhoods of Columbia.  They provide many good examples of the architectural styles popular in the 1960's.
     These contemporary designed homes featured what is know as "pillar and post" construction that permits more open interior spaces. This type of design was frequently used in American colonial times.  The modern design differed in the aspect that now there was frequent use of exterior windows that permitted many exterior natural views.
   There were even some whimsical designs such as this ship bow facing on one of the homes.  Notice the ship steering wheel on the deck.

   This home has always caught my attention with the entrance to the house through an enclosed courtyard that is common in many homes in Italian cities.
    There are some examples of the pre Columbia homes in this area of Columbia. The picture above is a building of a 19th blacksmith shop. From the Archives website:
"10106 Hyla Brook • began as a blacksmith shop in the early1800s. It is historically significant for Columbia because it was the site of Columbia’s temporary post office that opened August
15, 1966. In 1981 Bruno Reich purchased the small stone and stucco structure. He spent 16 years creating the unique structure that now adds to the architectural landscape. "

     Finally we were able to tour the John McDonough home on Hyla Brook that combined an old 19th century section with a large recent addition. Again from the Archives website:

"This imposing private home,purchased by John McDonough in 2002 and renovated and enlarged, was the only one of the original Oakland structures that was not acquired by The Rouse Company
during the land acquisition thereby putting it in the outparcel category. George and Edith Ralston had purchased the home in the late 1950s and had no interest in selling even when they were aware that a city would grow around them. While McDonough’s renovation is extensive, adding 3500 square feet, there is a nod to the historic heritage. He retained the existing windows, the 100 year-old oak floor in the parlor and the 200 year old pine floor in one second story bedroom. The dormers were added to replicate those on the barn. During construction the stone walls were found to be structurally unsound and needed to be re-mortared to reestablish structural stability. The house is currently on the market listed for just under $1million."

     Unfortunately the economics of the housing market in the 1970's and 80's made this type of housing diversity unsustainable.  Jim Rouse's desire to have neighborhoods with different styles gave way to the more typical housing tract homes that offered 3 or 4 models to homeowners.  While we never had a sameness of a Levittown  we don't see this type of neighborhood in the Columbia villages built in the 1980's.