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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Columbia Association presents plans for Symphony Woods tonight

     Tonight (January 31st) at Slayton House at 7:30 the Columbia Association will present the new plan for Symphony Woods which will be an integral part of the downtown development of Columbia.  The images above from CA show some of the designs for Symphony Woods.  As it was explained in the information sent out by CA:
   "The session provides an opportunity for attendees to learn about the Inner Arbor Plan, a concept plan for enhancing the Symphony Woods neighborhood. The session will be set up with three information exchange stations, which allows attendees to get individual attention and answers to questions they have. Those stations will allow attendees to learn and ask about the Inner Arbor Plan, hear about a proposed nonprofit trust that would implement the plan and potential financing opportunities for the plan, and find out about the county government's approval process in regards to the proposal. "


Images of the Patapsco River at flood stage in Ellicott City this morning in photos from the Columbia Patch.

  As we plan for the development of Symphony Woods and downtown Columbia it is fun to look back at "the town of tomorrow" that General Electric spoke of back in the 1960's.  This video was developed by Walt Disney that included his ideas in formulating EPCOT.  As I have blogged Jim Rouse and Walt Disney had a couple of meetings in the early 1960's.  Maybe that is why a monorail transportation system was discussed in some of the early planning meetings for Columbia.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ice Breaker on Lake Elkhorn?

The recent cold weather had put a layer of ice on Lake Elkhorn.  Lake Elkhorn may not be as vital a waterway as the Mississippi River or the Great Lakes but when the waterway is blocked by ice that prevents the dredging barge above from moving we have our own version of an ice breaker.  The small boat below was used as an "ice breaker" yesterday to be able to move the dredge boat.
You use what works!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is Howard County ready for a "senior village?"

    In the next 10 to 15 years the projected population of Howard County that is over 55 years old will reach 30% of the total population.  Currently the median age in Howard County is 38 which is a dramatic change from from 1980 when the median age was just 18.  In light of this aging of our population yesterday a group Howard County residents met at the Miller Library to continue discussions about the creation of a senior village or community in the County.  I have blogged on the concept a couple of months ago.  Yesterday the group discussions centered around the services to be provided to members of the senior community, the geographic area of the community and the cost to be a member.  Last year Rutgers University did a study that describes the village concept.

"Since the early 2000s, there has been a growing body of research, policy, and practice focused on transforming social and physical environments to improve older adults’ quality of life and ability to age in place in the context of their broader communities.  During this time, Villages have emerged as among the most nationally prominent models of community aging initiatives. Villages are “self-governing, grassroots, community-based organizations developed with the sole purpose of enabling people to remain in their homes and communities as they age.”
      The Village concept emerged in 2001 with the founding of Beacon Hill Village (BHV) by a group of seniors living in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, who sought a way to help one another live as long as possible in their neighborhood. Since BHV’s development, more than 85 similar initiatives known as “Villages” have opened in the U.S., with at least 120 more in development. While there is great diversity in how Villages structure their services, it is typical for Villages to use a “tiered” service delivery model to address the needs of their members, including some services provided to members directly by Village staff, some services provided through member-to-member volunteers, some provided by non-member volunteers, and some services referred to external “preferred providers” whose services are usually vetted and sometimes discounted for Village members.  Other unique characteristics of the Village model include its focus on social engagement and community building (such as through member social events and engaging community members of all ages in Village activities), integrating formal and informal systems of support, breaking down service delivery silos, and promoting civic engagement (such as by providing volunteer opportunities for members and involving older adults on governance boards)."

    While no final decisions were made at yesterday's meeting there did seem to be enough interest to continue discussions on the development of senior village in some parts of Howard County.  For a more detailed description of the village concept this AARP article gives a fuller description.  

P.S. 1
From the Howard County Historical Society:


This all-day trip will leave from the parking lot near the HCHS Museum and the Circuit Courthouse promptly at 9am and return at 5pm. The bus tour will begin at the Maryland Historical Society where we will see the original “Star-Spangled Banner” and receive a guided tour of the extensive exhibit on The War of 1812. We will also pause at the monument to the war which adorns the Baltimore City Seal and flag. Then we will visit the Flag House of Mary Pickersgill who made the flag that flew over Fort McHenry. Then it’s on to the fort itself for another tour and lunch. Additional sites will include Patterson Park, Northpoint Park where the British landed to attack Baltimore with its army, and nearby Todd’s Inheritance.
                                Seating on our Eyre Couch is limited so sign up early!
Ticket prices are $75 for HCHS Members and $85 for non-members (includes a box lunch). Tickets can be purchased at the Miller Branch Library or online until April 26th:

Monday, January 28, 2013

CA snow removal on Columbia's sidewalks needs to change

     This week's light snowfall brought back to mind one of the pet peeves I have about how CA does snow removal on the sidewalks.  Sidewalks that are on the back of homeowner's property is the homeowner's responsibility to shovel.  Of course when the sidewalk is on the back of a homeowner's property, like the picture above, almost no homeowner shovels the sidewalk.  They don't use the sidewalk behind their property so they don't see any reason to shovel the sidewalk.
      I can understand CA not removing snow from the sidewalks on cul-de-sacs since that would cost extra money and time but I have never understood why on through streets when they remove the snow on non homeowner property why they don't just continue along the sidewalk and not remove this snow.  Especially, as the picture below shows the plow has to leave the sidewalk and go into the road to get back to where they will plow again.  This can be even more difficult for the plows when they have to break through the snow banks left by the highway snow plows.  It would be safer for the CA plows to stay on the sidewalk.
     It wouldn't cost any additional money or time to the plowing to just continue on the sidewalk.  OK so some homeowners might get a break on shoveling their sidewalk but it would make more sense then the present policy. With this week's light snow walking through the unplowed parts isn't bad it is when we have a large snowfall.  It may be a minor nuisance for people like me walking my dogs to have to go into the road but it is a real safety issue when you are talking about school children walking in the dark in the winter having to leave the sidewalk and walk in the road.  I saw this happening on the sidewalk pictured above 2 years ago with our heavy snow falls.  If for nothing more than the safety of children walking to school this policy doesn't have a benefit that I can see.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fruit smoothie your way to health

   Like many us the reality that we don't eat our required daily amount of vegetables and fruits is something that we often resolve to change.  But the reality is that many vegetables by themselves just don't taste as good as many other foods that we crave.  Oh I know that there are people out there who extol the delicious taste of vegetables but there are many more of us that prefer a cheeseburger and fries.
    To address this need to add more vegetables and fruits to my diet I have found that one way to make an appetizing drink---the fruit/vegetable smoothie.  While this maybe only a partial way to address adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet it is one way that tastes great and one that I look forward to every morning.  The two combinations of fruits and vegetables that I have found most appealing are listed below:
Carrot, sweet potato, mango, orange smoothie
This smoothie is simple to make and packs a great deal of vitamin C.  I start with roasting the 2 average size sweat potatoes and 3 carrots in the oven.  I wash but don't peel either one.  Peel two mangoes ( I prefer the golden mangoes when I can get them) and 2 oranges.  Put the cooked vegetables and fruit in a food processor and reduce to a paste.
    In a blender add a cup of non fat yogurt ( I prefer the Greek yogurt from Costco) and a 1.5 cups of non fat milk to the fruit/vegetable paste and blend together.  I like to add a little real maple syrup to the mixture when blending to add some sweetness.
     Another smoothie recipe to try is one using celery, spinach, apple juice, granny smith apples, yogurt and milk.  I have also some sparkling white wine to this one for a great brunch drink.

These smoothies make a great substitute when I get hungry in the evening and want a snack.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Howard County Library's 2013 "Evening in the Stacks"

Saturday, February 23, 2013
7 - 11 pm
$100 per person until January 31;
$125 beginning February 1.
Visit or call 410.313.7750
HCLS Miller Branch
9421 Frederick Road in Ellicott City
Cocktail attire. Black tie optional. Sparkly accessories and boots encouraged.

Thanks to our generous event sponsors.
Proceeds benefit the educational initiatives of Howard County Library System.

Check out pictures from last year's event.
Get your tickets today for Evening in the Stacks: Sparkle & Spurs, a spectacular evening featuring live music, literary entertainment, silent auction, and fine food and drink.

Dave Chappell & The Lone Stardustersis a Baltimore-based band, heavily influenced by the kings of western swing, Bob Willis and His Texas Playboys. Between the band breaks, join Mo and Barb Dutterer on the dance floor for line dancing instruction.
Celebrity bartenders are back by popular demand. Vote with tips for your favorite bartender: Tom Coale, Mickey Gomez, Vicki Goodman, Pam Klahr, Paul Skalny, and Dick Story. Give them a head start by contributing to their virtual tip jars.

Award-winning author Mary Doria Russell will discuss her latest novel, Doc, a biographical account of wild west dentist and gambler John Henry Holliday. Russell will be in conversation with Ron Charles from The Washington Post.

 Evening in the Stacks: Sparkles and Spurs will be featuring line dancing instruction with Mo and Barb Dutterer. Mo and Barb have been teaching couples and line dance for the past 22 years in Howard County. The pair currently teach Salsa, Swing, Cha Cha, Waltz, and Two-step, plus the latest and best past line dances          

     I didn't have to pay him much to do our sidewalk!                                                    

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hot areas for this year's Maryland Legislature

   While this session of the Maryland Legislature doesn't have the same intensity as last year with the gambling, reduced tuition for immigrant children and marriage equality this year wind energy, fracking and ending the death penalty are three of the most important issues to be taken up.  The Howard County delegation has scheduled their local hearing on February 7th in the Banneker Room in the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.  The time and agenda are still being worked on but this link will have that information soon.  The page does show the bills to be introduced by the local delegation.  Mostly is it bond bills for local development.
    The issue of developing a wind farm off the Maryland shore near Ocean City has been in the Legislature before this multi-billion dollar project has taken on a priority with the Governor this year.  The bill to fund this effort has already passed the House Economic Matters Committee.   It would add from $1.50 to $2 to everyone's electric bill for 20 years.  The proponents of this wind energy indicate that wind energy could provide up to half the energy needed for the Eastern Shore and 15% of the energy needed for Baltimore City.  The question of possible damage to the wind farm from hurricanes was partially answered with the lack of damage to windmills off the New Jersey shore with Hurricane Sandy.  The Maryland League of Conservation Voters is holding a legislative summit on January 29th at 4:30 in the Miller Conference Room of the Miller Senate Office Building.  Just as a side note isn't a little presumptuous to have a building named after you while you are still Senate President?  Aren't these things supposed to happen after you are dead?
    The fracking issue remains in its study phase with the Governor proposing 1.5 million to continue the study of the issues relating to fracking.  Even this request will probably not put this issue to rest in Maryland.  The study seems to be a delaying tactic to prevent fracking in Maryland.  The environmental impacts of fracking are still far down the road and Maryland seems to be reluctant to be the place where we learn what the environmental issues are.  More likely this will come from Pennsylvania which has an extensive fracking operation.  
   Finally the death penalty repeal supported by the Governor seems to be picking up support in the Legislature this year with the growing support among Maryland residents for repeal.  Even though 49% of residents support the death penalty against 44% favoring repeal in the latest survey from Gonzales Research this is an increase of 8% in favor of repeal from just two years ago.  Maryland with its liberal voters and large Catholic population seems like a natural location to approve repeal.  The Governor has used the study approach to this issue to avoid having to sign off on any executions while he has been Governor.  The last executions in Maryland occurred in 2005 under Gov. Ehrlich.  They may very well be the last in Maryland.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Google withdrawal

       Last week I spent a week without internet connection.  Not getting email wasn't bad, not blogging no problem.  But what I really missed was not having access to Google on my smart phone.  I am one of those crazy people who googles 15 to 20 times a day just to answer a question I have about something or when someone asks me a question to which I don't know the answer.  Many times I have googled the answer before the person has finished asking the question.  Do you know how frustrating it is to not be able to find the answer to a question and it stays with you all day long??    I had to wait to get home to find out  whether Splenda really adds a chlorine molecule to its molecular structure to make sugar lose its calories.  It does.  Now I am looking for something else to sweeten my drinks.  When I heard we were in the Gulf Stream I couldn't find out how much this added to the speed of the ship on which we were sailing.  About 5.6 mph.  Not much help when we were heading into 60 knot headwinds and 15 foot waves last Friday night.  It is a unique experience to be on a ship that rides up a wave that size and then drops down the other side.  They told us the ship was built to withstand hurricane force winds of 100 knots.  Which of course made me wonder how knots translate into miles per hour.  Apparently 1 knot equals 1.15 mph.  Without Google I was just guessing.
        I don't want to live in world with Google.

Today's Ravens poster

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The passing of a civil rights leader

       It is appropriate timing for President Obama to bring gay rights into the civil rights discussion.  In his inaugural address yesterday, on the Martin Luther King holiday, he twice mentioned gay rights as a civil rights issue.  In his his address he linked the struggle for gay rights with the women rights and civil rights movement by stating,
   “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall.”
   Stonewall was the 1969 event that marked the beginning of the gay rights movement when gay patrons of a bar in New York were beaten by police.  The President followed up this reference with a further mention that,
    "It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law -- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."
    A couple of weeks ago the gay rights movement lost one of its early leaders when Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG, died at age 92.   As reported in the New York Times at the time of her death,
       "In 1973, the Manfords and about 20 other people inaugurated Parents of Gays, a support program at the Metropolitan Community Church in Manhattan, which ministers to a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender congregation. Given the vacuum of publicly identified gay allies in the early 1970s, the Manfords almost could not help taking on a national role. They spoke out for their cause through television, newspaper and radio interviews, according to a short biography of Mrs. Manford that accompanies her papers at the New York Public Library.
“The group sought to give parents a place to ask questions, talk about their issues and begin to better understand their children,” the biography continued.
     Representatives of parent support groups that had been springing up around the country met in 1979 to establish an umbrella organization. It took its current name in 1993 but is best known by the acronym Pflag. Its headquarters are in Washington. It has 350 chapters across the country and helps organize similar groups internationally. Mrs. Manford is identified as its founder."

     The importance of the gay rights movement including straight parents, relatives and friends can't be underestimated.  No civil rights movement can succeed until the general population recognizes and supports the importance the issue.  For the gay rights issue PFLAG provided that support that broadened the importance of the issue to the wider non gay population.  Gay rights moved from one of just individual right to one of family rights.  This movement has been strengthened by the increasing number of gay partners who have become parents raising families.  It has moved the discussion from whom you choose to sleep with to how you choose to raise a family.  Family values now takes on a meaning that is broad enough to include gay couples. 
    The struggle to move the gay rights agenda ahead in the next four years will continue to be a struggle that faces a determined opposition from the far right but with the Presidents leadership this issue will move closer to a time when we can look back and wonder why anyone opposed the issue as one of basic civil rights.

        Howard County has an active PLAG chapter.

A little Ravens humor

Monday, January 21, 2013

Presidential Inaugural Quiz

With today's inauguration I thought it might be fun to see how much you might know about past inaugurations.  Answers below.

1) Whose inauguration took place in April?
2) Name the two presidents who were sworn in four times.
3) Who gave the longest inaugural speech, caught a cold and died a month later?
4) In what month have the most presidents been sworn in?
5) Which president had the first inaugural ball?
6) First president to ride to and from the swearing in in a car.
7) Only president sworn in by a woman.
8) Only president sworn in by his father.
9) Which president was sworn in on the warmest and coldest days?
10) Only person to have taken the presidential oath and to have administered it?

1) George Washington
2) Franklin Roosevelt and Barak Obama
3) William Henry Harrison
4) March
5) James Madison
6) William Harding
7) Lyndon Johnson
8) Calvin Coolidge
9) Ronald Reagan
10) William Taft

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Denver Post:Fun to read out of town paper after Ravens victory

     I always like to read the out of town paper after a Ravens victory just to gain extra enjoyment of the victory. After yesterday's thrilling victory it was especially nice to hear the moaning in Denver.

   While we are enjoying our early (?) Spring I will be trying out cruising for the next week.  I feel like the only person who has never been on a cruise.  Somehow being in a small cabin and overeating for a week has never been my first choice in a vacation but everyone tells me that they loved cruising.  It is especially nice that we can leave from Baltimore and not have to travel anywhere to get on the ship.

P.S. 1
Aurora seen from space.  Cool pic.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Meadowbrook: Howard County's best playground

   With the nice weather for this weekend it maybe a time to enjoy Howard County's  best playground for kids.

The Meadowbrook playground off of Route 100 is one of those new type of playgrounds with the padded covering on the ground.
 Parks and Recreation manages this playground as part of the Meadowbrook park that includes a picnic area and tennis courts.
The indoor basketball courts and volleyball courts are the newest addition to this park.

Checkout what is happening at the Library.

P.S. 1
Read about the heroic actions of an off duty HoCo policeman.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Male menopause

    There used to be a time when men recognized that there would be some changes as the women  approached those middle age years.  Hot flashes and other changes with menopause made us feel glad that we weren't women.  What did we have to endure that could compare?   Boy were we wrong.  If you follow the commercials that are shown with shows that attract middle age men you begin to realize the extent of physical problems we have to endure.
     A few years ago the market for middle age men was limited to products to encourage hair growth.  The development of Rogaine kicked off the marketing of many products for balding men.  After all who wanted to have a head that looked years older then you were.  It wasn't too long before those of us that avoided baldness but saw our hair turn gray had to try Just For Men hair color.  These commercials showed male athletes that had "lost it with the women" suddenly regaining their "male prowess."
   Jump ahead a few years and we learned about something that really impacted middle age men in a way that really threatened our manhood.  The inability to perform in bed.  ED.  Erectile Dysfunction.  Who knew that what happened so easily at age 18 would require "assistance" to happen at 45.  What cruel trick of nature was redefining our manhood?  Kicking it off was the development of Viagra.
  Somehow men are supposed to feel more comfortable taking Viagra when they see the images of virile cowboys with two day growths of beard solving manly problems and needing a little help in bed.  Now we know where all those cowboy models who used to do cigarette commercials went.   The only problem with the original Viagra pills was that you had to take it 3 hours before it took effect.  This may work for those men who can plan when they need the assistance but then came Cilias for daily use for those who never knew when "the moment was right."
    How can pregnant women ever complain about having to always needing to use the bathroom when aging men (above 50) will have to live with this of their life?  Of course that was before Floxmax.  Has there ever been a more descriptive name for a medication?
    What really got me to write this particular blog is the newest medication directed at aging men.  We all could have figured out that our testosterone levels had dropped some since we were 18 but who knew that there would be a roll on gel to treat this new condition or low testosterone or as the like to call it "low T."  Androgel 1.62 is the new concentrated form of gel that "gets you out of the shadows and back in the game." What game are they referring to?  Is it the same game as the hair color athletes?  Listen to the side effects for this drug.  Nothing like putting every woman or girl in your house in danger of growing "unusual body hair!"  I wonder if any men have ever thought of trying Androgel on their bawling head.  Don't laugh you just know some guys would try something like that.  And just what are the guys in the commercial "constructing?"  Is this what guys do at an Androgel party?
     OK so I hope I have created a little more sympathy for what we "aging" guys have to put up with.  I hope women realize that having a few years of hot flashes is nothing compared to being sentenced to having to pee every 15 minutes for the rest of your life.  To say nothing of the fear of having my wife shaving body hair every day.

Now that tax time is here again I wanted to direct everyone to the Making Change website for information on the VITA Tax Assistance information.  If you make less than $49,000 they will do your taxes for free.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

One Constitutional Amendment to support

    For anyone who is tired of the partisanship in Congress these days you should read an article by Nate Silver of the 538 Blog on the declining swing Congressional districts today.   As he reports:
   "In 1992, there were 103 members of the House of Representatives elected from what might be called swing districts: those in which the margin in the presidential race was within five percentage points of the national result. But based on an analysis of this year’s presidential returns, I estimate that there are only 35 such Congressional districts remaining, barely a third of the total 20 years ago. " 
   Gerrymandering of congressional districts has eliminated the need to compromise to get re-elected for most people in Congress.  The House Republicans still hold a healthy number advantage even after obtaining 1 million less votes than House Democrats in the 2012 election.
    Here in Maryland it seems that the Democrats were able to draw new lines for the 6th Congressional to include enough Montgomery County Democrat votes to turn this seat to the Democrats after being a long time Republican seat.  If you want to see the definition of gerrymandering just take a look at the shape of the 3rd Congressional district that includes some of Howard County.  If you want to see a Maryland Congressional district map drawn based on Presidential voting click here.
   Nine states have gone to a non partisan method to draw Congressional districts.  Maybe it is time for a Constitutional Amendment to have all state move in this direction.  Having politicians draw the lines will always give us our present dysfunctional Congress.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

When rights collide

       An article in the Sun on a tenant at a senior apartment building in Columbia wanting to have a rottweiler as a service dog got me thinking about the clash of individual rights.  As a landlord of rental properties in Columbia I have long since had a prohibition on pets in my rentals.  I have learned the hard way how many renters are not responsible pet owners when it comes to allowing a pet to damage a home.  Having replaced carpet too many times this is a rule that is a hard and fast rule for me now.
     The situation at Morningside Apartments presents a couple of questions for any landlord.   We are not allowed to prevent a service dog in rentals because of disability laws.  But a rottweiler or a pit bull?  Doesn't the safety of the community come into this discussion of rights?  Would you want one of these dogs in your neighborhood?  I know that we allow these dogs for homeowners (which I find crazy) but as a landlord I incur a legal liability for the actions of my tenants.
    I know that animal rights advocates, just like the gun rights folks, defend the individual right of people to own animals that have a history of being dangerous.   I just feel that the right of having a safe community too often is overlooked and devalued in these discussions.  We don't live out in the open ranges out West.  Your right to own something dangerous, like a semi automatic weapon or a dangerous animal, shouldn't negate my right for a safe community or to be a responsible landlord.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Government that works

     Like most Americans the past month I have wondered if government can ever work in a partisan environment.  And it is unfair to label all of government by the actions, or inaction, of Congress.  Thank God most public servants in government are nothing like what we see in Congress.  In a small way my faith in competent government was once again restored last week when I needed a tax bill document that I had misplaced.  When I called the Howard County Finance Office someone picked up on the second ring with a pleasant greeting of "how can I help you?"  When I didn't have the plot number for the property I was told "no problem let me find it a different way."  After finding it the person asked if I wanted it sent to the property address or my home address.  When I asked if it could be scanned and emailed to me as I needed it today I was told "give me 10 minutes and you should have it in your email."   Closing our conversation I was told to "have a nice day." Two minutes later I had it.   From start to finish in less than 10 minutes.   I only wish I had obtained the name of the person to whom I had talked so I could include it in this post.  But maybe it is better this way because it could have been any of the folks in the Finance Office.

   I know that some of you who have followed this blog know that I maybe a little biased in my opinion of County Employees after having been one for over a quarter of a century but I can honestly say they are some of the most competent, dedicated people you will ever meet.  It is another big reason why living in Howard County is so good.

P.S. 1
    It must have been more than a coincidence but after writing today's blog I talked with a recent retiree who told me of the troubles they had been having with getting their Federal pension and Medicare Part B started. In both instances the bureaucracy of both Federal systems has led to a couple of months of frustration.  Sadly the local Columbia Social Security Office doesn't seem to operate on the Howard County Government model.  You have to go stand in line outside to office (on cold mornings this time of year) for the 9 am opening to get your name on the list to be called in for an appointment.  Calling the office to set up an appointment? Forget it!  After waiting for 90 minutes to talk with someone you find out you didn't bring in a paper that you didn't know you would need.  Now you need to leave, take off more time from work and start the process again.  After having the second visit the Medicare card that came in the mail had the wrong start date that someone in the local office had entered wrong.  How do you get that corrected?  Apparently only a manager can access the system to make the correction.  The retiree asked to talk with the manager and was told they were not in the office.  When would they be in?  The answer they received was " I can't say."  So now the retiree hopes they don't need to go to the doctor for the next few months because of the inaccurate card.

Monday, January 7, 2013

What Howard County was reading in 2012

   On the Facebook page for the HoCo Library recently they posted the most popular books checked out for kids.  The most popular kids picture book was  "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle.  I wasn't surprised by this because I had seen this book prominently displayed as you entered the children's section during the year.  Also I wasn't surprised that the most popular children's fiction book was "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" by Jeff Kinney which was on many best sellers lists last year.
     I keep waiting for the books most checked out for adults but never saw this posted so I went into the East Columbia Library and asked a couple of the staff at the checkout counter what was popular last year.  Here is what I learned.  Is anyone surprised that "50 Shades of Gray" seemed to top the list like it had for much of the Country?  Their guess was that it probably had the longest reserve list of any book the Library has ever had.  Close to a 1000 reserves at times.  The other "Shades" series books also did well.  Next were probably any of the "Hunger Games" books that the movie stimulated.  J.K. Rowlings book for adults called "Casual Vacancy", Ken Follett's "Winter of the World," any of the books by David Baldacci were popular. 

    Most borrowed music CD was "21" by Adele which matches the fact that is the most purchased CD in the US for the second straight year.

   I have to admit that I read very little fiction so the books above are not ones I would probably read.  The book that I am reading now is one that political junkies like me will love.  It is "The Patriarch" by David Nasaw about the life of Joseph Kennedy.  Joe Kennedy lived many different lives in his lifetime and is a fascinating study of how to be influential in very different worlds.  Much of what you think you know about him may not be true.  I just don't know if I will be able to get through all 800 pages in the three week reserve time period.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Registered firearms in Howard County

   I heard a report on the number of registered firearms and assault weapons in Maryland a couple of weeks ago.  Maryland has one of the most tightly regulated laws for gun registration.  The report gave the numbers for Maryland and I was curious how this translated to Howard County.  I contacted Captain Jack McCauley    at the Maryland State Police who had compiled the Statewide numbers.
  • There are currently 790,000 regulated firearms registered in Maryland. 
  • 46,719 are Assault Weapons. 
  • Howard County residents have registered 7,738 firearms in the last five years.
      He didn't have the breakdown on the number of assault weapons in Howard County.  We may not have the same percentage as the entire state of Maryland but using the same ratio as the Statewide ratio there would be approximately 455 assault weapons in HoCo.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Father's advice to financial solvency

     Watching the struggles in Congress to deal with the fiscal realities we face as a country made me think back to the financial advise my Father gave to me.  Much of it would work for our country's fiscal situation too.   Oh I know that handling a national economy differs in many ways from a personal financial situation but there are still some parallels.
     My father grew up during the depression and knew how difficult maintaining fiscal stability could be.  His father was only able to remain employed periodically during most of the 1930's.  He knew what it was like to not have a lot of life's necessities.  Being the oldest child in his family as soon as he turned 16 he went to work to help support the family.  These experiences shaped his life until his death last year.
     Here is what he always told me to be stable financially:
1) If you take on a new ongoing expense, cut one of your existing expenses that is equivalent in amount
2) If you get a raise or some unexpected money either use if to pay down debt (which he never had much of) or put it into a savings account for a rainy day.  Rainy days are inevitable.  Plan ahead for them.
3) Always keep track of what you spend and evaluate your spending frequently to understand where you are headed financially.
    Living by my father's examples may seem to be a lifestyle that is outdated in our more modern financial ways.  Having Christmas and vacation clubs at the bank (anyone else remember your parents having these?) or buying on lay away meant that many expenses were prepaid and not put on a credit card.  My parents never owned a credit card until the 1980's when they found out they couldn't rent a car on their trips without one.  For many years that was the only time they used the credit card.  Somehow my father was more comfortable with carrying hundreds of dollars in his wallet for that unexpected expense then using a credit card. This habit horrified my Mother who thought he might someday get robbed.
    One final thing I remember about my Father was that if anyone in our family or in his community had a need he was always there to help.  His fiscal example has always been a touchstone for me in making financial decisions and might also be a useful guide for those supposedly intelligent members of Congress in handling our country's finances.


Invitation to AAUW “Book Bash” January 12

What could be cozier for a winter weekend than a luncheon and exploration of some good books! Meet at Union Jack’s restaurant, 10400 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia (across from south entrance to the Mall in Columbia) from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Local librarians and AAUW members will chat about their book selections for your reading pleasure.  Cost is $25 per person including tax and gratuity.  You will choose your own menu from preselected options.  

RSVP no later than Thursday, January 10, to This meeting is open to the public.

P.S. 1
From the Columbia Archives:

On this day 50 years ago Connecticut General committed $18 million for land acquisition ensuring the feasibility of Columbia.
On this day 50 years ago Connecticut General committed $18 million for land acquisition ensuring the feasibility of Columbia.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Tale of Two Villages: Columbia approaching 50

     The Columbia Association has released a report developed from 2010 Census data that provides some interesting information on Columbia as a whole and most interestingly how varied our villages have become.  While the Census tracts don't exactly match Columbia's population, CA used this method to pull its numbers:

"For this report, Columbia is defined as those properties subject to the Columbia Association 
annual change including the village and non-village areas of Columbia. It is this definition that 
guides the analysis used to describe Columbia and its villages in this report. This is distinct from 
the Census Bureau’s Columbia Census Designated Place (CDP)."

    I thought is might be interesting to look at the data from our oldest village, Wilde Lake, in comparison with our newest village River Hill.  How did Jim Rouse's vision for Columbia being diverse racially and economically evolve with the development of each village?  Did Columbia lose some of its diversity and look more like a  typical suburban development as the newer villages developed?   Looking at the Census data the villages that most closely followed the original model were Wilde Lake, Harpers Choice, Oakland Mills, Long Reach and Owen Brown.  The village housing mix changed with the development of newer villages like Kings Contrivance, Dorsey Search, Hickory Ridge and River Hill. Housing choices that included affordable starter homes that had been built by many of Columbia's original builders, such as Ryland and Ryan, and subsidized apartments diminished.  From the report here are some of the highlights:

Age Distribution:
    Not surprising Wilde Lake being Columbia's oldest village being develop in the late 1960's and 1970's  looks different than River Hill.
River Hill
   "The most remarkable item of note in the age distribution of the River Hill population is the very high concentration of school-age children. Those in the K-12 cohort, children aged 5 through 17, constitute over 30 percent of the village. All children under 18 yearsof age represent 35.3 percent of the population. 

Age breakdown for River Hill:
Under 5    4.8%
5-17         31.3%
18-24       6%
25-34       3.7%
35-44       17.2%
45-54       24.7%
55-64       8.3%
65+          4%

Wilde Lake
"The Village of Wilde Lake has an older population, with nearly one-third (32.3 percent) of its
residents over the age of 55. The senior population, those over 65 years of age, was reported as 19.5 percent of the total population."
Age breakdown for Wilde Lake

Under 5     5.8%
5 to 17      15.0%
18 to 24    7.2%
25 to 34    12.9%
35 to 44    13.1%
45 to 54    13.6%
55 to 64    12.8%
65+           19.5%

Income Distribution
River Hill
 From the report:
".....the majority of (River Hill) households had incomes above $150,000. Indeed, the mean 
household income figure of $182,386 is the highest among Columbia’s ten villages and 61.5 

"..... the majority of (River Hill) households had incomes above $150,000. Indeed, the mean
household income figure of $182,386 is the highest among Columbia’s ten villages and 61.5
percent higher than the mean income for Columbia’s households ($112,840)"
The income percentages in River Hill breakdown this way:
0-$25,000         3%
25-$50,000       7%
50-$75.000       6%
75-$100,000     7%
100-$150,00     19%
$150,00+          57%

Wilde Lake
With more diversity of housing choices Wilde Lake has a very different income distribution. Mean income in Wilde Lake is $94,718 or about half of River Hill.
0-$25,000        12%
25-$50,000      20%
50-$75,000      15%
75-$100,000    12%
100-$150,000   23%
$150,000+        17%

Ethnic Breakdown
River Hill
   As the ethic breakdown shows, almost 90% of River Hills population is either White (non Hispanic) or Asian.  Compared to the rest of Columbia River Hill has far lower levels of African Americans and almost no Hispanic population:
  White 64.4%
  Black or African American 6.0%
  American Indian & Alaska Native  0.1%
  Asian 26.5%
  Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander 1 0.0%
  Some Other Race 28 0.4%
  Population of Two or More Races 172 2.5%

Wilde Lake
    The racial breakdown is significantly different from River Hill in the White, African American and Hispanic population as shown below:
  White  52.7%
  Black or African American  34.4%
  American Indian & Alaska Native 0.3%
  Asian  5.4%
  Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander  0.1%
  Some Other Race  2.6%
  Population of Two or More Races  4.6%
  Hispanic or Latino  7.3%

   As Columbia approaches its 50th anniversary in 5 years it is unclear what these differences in village demographics will mean.  Rouse's vision for Columbia could play out differently in the second 50 years than our first 50 years.