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Sunday, March 31, 2013

All you can eat soft yogurt today at Yogi Castle

    I have blogged before on how I have become hooked on the soft yogurt at Yogi Castle on McGaw RD near the Green Turtle.  Also at 10132-H Baltimore National Pike Ellicott City, MD 21042. Today they are offering a deal that is hard to beat.  All the yogurt and toppings you can eat for $1.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Have a teen who loves to play chess?

The Howard County Library is sponsoring a teen chess tournament for youth aged 11-17.  Registration begins today.

   Like soft yogurt?  Check this blog tomorrow for a place that is offering all the yogurt and toppings you can eat for $1

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cash back on healthy foods?

     Lifestyle choices often are major causes of illness and health care cost for employers.  Health insurers have been trying to encourage people they insure to adopt healthy lifestyles by providing financial incentives.  Usually these involve trying to get their insured to join a gym or enrolling in a weight loss program.
     Recently some employers have tried other more punitive methods to lower their health care costs.  Some hospitals will not hire anyone who smokes. CVS pharmacies have created controversy by requiring their employees to enroll in a program that measures their height, weight and blood assessments or pay $50 a month more for their health insurance.  Mayor Bloomberg in New York has taken heat by trying to restrict the size of sugary drinks and requiring restaurants to eliminate trans fats in cooking.
      The approach that caught my attention recently was a partnership between HumanaVitality insurance company and Wal Mart that provides 5% cash back for HumanVitality members who buy certain healthy foods like fruits and vegetables at Wal Mart grocery stores. Having been in some Wal Mart grocery sections I am not sure they are the best store for healthy eating choices.  This American effort comes after studies of cash back programs in South Africa that show that even small incentives can get people to eat healthier foods.
      This got me to thinking that it might be a great promotion for the Whole Foods store (or Wegmans) to partner with some local employers to offer a cash back plan when they open their store in Town Center next year.  Wellness programs, grocery store incentives for eating healthy foods and health insurers partnerships seem like such a win-win propositions.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

American Visionary Museum partners with HoCo schools on bullying quilts

     The issue of bullying in schools became an issue last year with the suicide of Grace McComas a student at Glenelg High School.  Since then the Howard County School System has been active in educating students and the general public on the issue of bullying. This effort has been taken up by Baltimore Raven Ray Rice.
    Recently this effort to address school bullying was partnered by the American Visionary Museum.   The Museum has a current exhibition called "The Art of Storytelling" that addresses the topic of "lies and hurtful speech."  The Museum reached out to form a partnership with the Howard County School System, with assistance from the Howard County Arts Council, to create a quilt project with 5 Howard County schools to give a visual statement on the impacts of bullying.  The quilt you see above came out of this effort.  This quilt and 4 others will be on display at the Columbia Mall starting today.  The following is info from the Museum's press release:

AVAM's Educational Outreach to Howard County Schools to help end bullying
The Mall in Columbia: MARCH 28 – APRIL 7, 2013
Howard County Center for the Arts: JUNE 3 – JULY 2, 2013, Reception: JUNE 20, 6pm–8pm
In salute of Howard County’s community response to the plight of young people devastated by bullying, AVAM has engaged National Art Honors Society students from five Howard County high schools in creating canvas quilts that express acts of kindness, courage, and personal responses to bullying. The quilts represent a collective voice of pro-civility, composed of individual expressions. The resulting collaborative project will consist of five, 5’x5’ quilts, which will be displayed at The Mall in Columbia (March 28–April 7), and at the Howard County Center for the Arts (June 3–July 2), with a reception at the Howard County Center for the Arts on June 20 from 6pm–8pm. Both exhibitions, and the reception on June 20th are open to the public. Schools participating in the KINDNESS WORKS project include: Hammond High School; Long Reach High School; Oakland Mills High School; Wilde Lake High School; and Howard High School.

THE MALL IN COLUMBIA: 10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD 21044,
HOWARD COUNTY CENTER FOR THE ARTS: 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City, MD 21043, "

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Supreme Court as an equal rights tipping point

    The tipping point in the fight for equal rights is often a legal ruling by the Supreme Court.  Yesterday that process was begun on the fight for marriage equality and the legal protection for same sex marriage.  With the Court split between a liberal and conservative wing what the Court's ruling will be is anyone's guess.  Even listening to the comments of the justices can often be misinterpreted as to how they will rule.  One commonly held opinion is that the Court will "punt" on the ruling at this time and let the ruling of the California Appeals Court stand that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and reinstate same sex marriage in California.
    The arguments today with be on the Defense of Marriage Act, know as DOMA, and this case has implications for states beyond California.  The Court could rule that DOMA is unconstitutional and require the Federal Gov't to provide benefits to same sex couples in states, like Maryland, that have legal same sex marriage.  This would provide momentum for more states to legalize same sex marriage.
     The Supreme Court has found themselves in this situation with defining marriage once before with interracial marriage.   In 1967 the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that that state's law against interracial marriage was unconstitutional.  At the time 72% of Americans were opposed to interracial marriage.  The Supreme Court also found itself in a similar position in 1954 with its ruling on the constitutionality of segregation in Brown v. Board of Education.  At that time almost half the states, including Maryland, had segregation laws impacting education in their states.  Howard County didn't desegregate its schools till 1965.
    With a majority, 53%, of American in favor of same sex marriage the Supreme Court would be foolish to rule against this rising tide of public opinion.  It would only be a matter of time before another case would be brought back before the Court, possibility with another Obama appointed justice, where they will ultimately have to reverse their opinion.  The argument has been made that this could make Chief Justice Roberts a key vote on these decisions since he is only 56 and will be on the Court for many years to come.

Link to yesterday's Court arguments.

P.S. 1
Thanks to Ilana Bittner for a link to an article on how a gay married person has to come out of the closet every day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Does hunger exist in Howard County?

     At the United Way Howard County Partnership Board meeting last week we received some information on the number of people in Howard County who may not always have enough food for themselves and their families.  Over 20,000 County residents fall into this category.  Of this total 11,650 are children. This information may seem to be surprising because we all know that Howard County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country.  The number of County residents participating in Federal Nutrition Programs (food stamps and school lunch program) has increased by 34% in the past two years.
     The Community Action Council is the Howard County non profit that operates a food bank that has seen a 250% increase in the number of people using the food bank in the past six years.  To volunteer at the CAC community garden contact Ashley Groves at 410-313-0703 or email at

   You can also register to volunteer at this link.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Columbia in black and white

         This morning's Spring snowfall caught most of us by surprise.  It seems that every forecast this winter has proven to be a no show for a snowfall.

      Wasn't it just in the 50's and the daffodils blooming over the weekend? 

    The good thing about a Spring snowfall is that you just know that by tomorrow this will all be a memory

      With the Orioles first game only a week away this is just a final reminder of this past winter.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mind blowing science news

     Every once in a while something comes along in science that is so far out there that it makes you think in a very new way.  Multiple universes are just such a mind blowing concept.  As everyone who has had a science course in the past learned the universe encompassed "everything."  Maybe not.  Read below from the Associated Press this week:

"New results from looking at the split-second after the Big Bang indicate the universe is 80 million years older than previously thought, but core concepts in physics about the cosmos - how it began, what it's made of and where it's going - seem to be on the right track.
The findings released Thursday bolster a key theory called inflation, which says the universe burst from subatomic size to its now-observable expanse in a fraction of a second. The new observations from the European Space Agency's $900 million Planck space probe appear to reinforce some predictions made decades ago solely on the basis of mathematical concepts.
"We've uncovered a fundamental truth of the universe," said George Efstathiou, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge who announced the Planck satellite mapping result in Paris. "There's less stuff that we don't understand by a tiny amount."
"It's a big pat on the back for our understanding of the universe," California Institute of Technology physicist Sean Carroll, who was not involved in the project, told The Associated Press. "In terms of describing the current universe, I think we have a right to say we're on the right track."
The Big Bang - the most comprehensive theory of the universe's beginning - says the visible portion of the universe was smaller than an atom when, in a split second, it exploded, cooled and expanded faster than the speed of light.
The Planck space probe looked back at the afterglow of the Big Bang, and those results have now added about 80 million years to the universe's age, putting it at 13.81 billion years old.
The probe, named for the German physicist Max Planck, the originator of quantum physics, also found that the cosmos is expanding a bit slower than originally thought, has a little less of that mysterious dark energy than astronomers had figured and has a tad more normal matter. But scientists say those are small changes in calculations about the universe, whose numbers are so massive.
Officials at NASA, which also was part of the experiment, said the Planck probe has provided a deeper understanding of the intricate history of the universe and its complex composition.
Krzysztof Gorski, a Planck scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, said in a statement that the new results "are giving astronomers a treasure trove of spectacular data, and bringing forth a deeper understanding of the properties and history of the universe."
(AP) This image released on Thursday March 21, 2013 released by the European Space Agency (ESA) shows...
Full Image
The Planck space telescope, launched in 2009, has spent 15 1/2 months mapping the sky, examining so-called "light" fossils and sound echoes from the Big Bang by looking at background radiation in the cosmos. The spacecraft is expected to keep transmitting data until late 2013, when it runs out of cooling fluid.
Scientists not involved in the project said the results were comparable on a universal scale to the announcement earlier this month by a different European physics group on a subatomic level - with the finding of the Higgs boson particle that explains mass in the universe.
"What a wonderful triumph of the mathematical approach to describing nature," said Brian Greene, a Columbia University physicist who was not part of the new Planck research. "It's an amazing story of discovery."
"The precision is breathtaking," Greene said in an email Thursday after the announcement. "The satellite is measuring temperature variations in space - which arose from processes that took place almost 14 billion years ago - to one part in a million. Amazing."
Efstathiou marveled at how the Planck data was such "an extremely good match" to the theory of rapid inflation in the split-second after the Big Bang.
Inflation tries to explain some nagging problems left over from the Big Bang, which formed the universe in a sudden burst. Other space probes have shown that the geometry of the universe is predominantly flat, but the Big Bang said it should curve with time. Another problem was that opposite ends of space are so far apart that they could never have been near each other under the normal laws of physics, but early cosmic microwave background measurements show they must have been in contact.
So a few physicists more than 30 years ago came up with a theory to explain this: Inflation. That says the universe swelled tremendously, going "from subatomic size to something as large as the observable universe in a fraction of a second," Greene said.
Planck shows that inflation is proving to be the best explanation for what happened just after the Big Bang, but that doesn't mean it is the right theory or that it even comes close to resolving all the outstanding problems in the theory, Efstathiou said.
There was an odd spike in some of the Planck temperature data that hinted at a preferred direction or axis that seemed to fit nicely with the angle of our solar system, which shouldn't be, he said.
But overall, Planck's results touched on mysteries of the universe that have already garnered scientists three different Nobel prizes. Twice before scientists studying cosmic background radiation have won a Nobel Prize - in 1978 and 2006 - and other work on dark energy won the Nobel in 2011.
At the press conference, Efstathiou said the pioneers of inflation theory should start thinking about their own Nobel prizes. Two of those theorists - Paul Steinhardt of Princeton and Andreas Albrecht of University of California Davis - said before the announcement that they were sort of hoping that their inflation theory would not be bolstered.
That's because taking inflation a step further leads to a sticky situation: An infinite number of universes.
To make inflation work, that split-second of expansion may not stop elsewhere like it does in the observable universe, Albrecht and Steinhardt said. That means there are places where expansion is zooming fast, with an infinite number of universes that stretch to infinity, they said."

"This is about how humans figure out how the universe works and where it's going," Steinhardt said Thursday. "And it's kind of a raucous time at the moment."
Efstathiou said the Planck results ultimately could give rise to entirely new fields of physics - and some unresolvable oddities in explaining the cosmos.
"You can get very, very strange answers to problems when you start thinking about what different observers might see in different universes," he said.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Columbia's own Cherry Blossom Festival?

   Soon Washington DC will be experiencing their biggest Spring event with the Cherry Blossom Festival.  Drawing thousands of visitors every year this Festival has a long history highlighting the Japanese gift one hundred years ago of a couple of thousand cherry trees.  Now on a smaller scale Columbia is planning on having our own cherry trees along the banks of Lake Kittamaquandi.  One of the WalkAlong walks sponsored by the Columbia Archives will explore this planned garden.
    How about planting some azaleas along this path to complement the cherry trees? Could a new Spring tradition in Columbia be possible? This cherry tree planting was recently highlighted in an article from the Columbia Patch.

"Over the next few years, Kennedy Gardens, which is located across Lake Kittamaqundi from Town Center Plaza, will be receiving a major overhaul.
A project is under way to make the gardens into a lush sequence of plantings, providing attractive views from the lakefront, and acting as a centerpiece for legacy Yoshino cherry trees donated from Blossoms of Hope, according to Jan Clark, a landscape architect for Columbia Association.
“The installation of more than 80 trees, hundreds of shrubs and thousands of grasses and perennials will occur in several phases over the next few years,” wrote Clark in an email.
Plans for the gardens also feature a dock and pavilion, which would look out over the lake.
Currently the gardens and the pathways originally built around them are in disrepair due to a county sewer project that took place in 2012, according to CA. For that project, the county demolished the paths and damaged many of the plantings that were in the garden, said Clark..
“CA will rebuild the pathways very soon, and then the new trees and other plantings can be installed,” said Clark
A prominent feature of the renovated gardens will be three legacy Yoshino cherry trees that were grown from saplings of the original trees donated to Washington D.C. by Japan in 1912. Blossoms of Hope, an organization that works to plant cherry trees around the county, donated the trees to the site.
In addition to the legacy trees, Blossoms of Hope donated another 25 trees, half cherry and half dogwood, which will also be planted in the gardens.
The trees were scheduled to be planted in the fall, and expected to bloom this spring, but due to the construction, their planting was pushed back, said Victoria Goodman, director of Blossoms of Hope.
Goodman said her organization is planning a tree planting ceremony to take place on National Arbor Day this year, April 26.
Goodman said the legacy Yoshino trees will blossom earlier than the other 1,600 Kwanzan cherry trees Blossoms of Hope has planted around the county. The organization deliberately planted Kwanzans, which tend to blossom at the end of April, to provide a second opportunity for tourists and locals to view blossoming cherry trees after D.C.’s trees finish blossoming.
She said the Yoshinos at Kennedy Gardens will provide an indicator of spring in the county.
“Years from now when they grow to a magnificent size,” said Goodman, “there will be three trees that blossom early and they’ll be the very first visual of spring.”
The county also recently planted 150 new trees in the area where the sewer construction took place. Those trees will mitigate the trees lost during sewer construction, according to Clark.
The county will pay for the replacement of the pathway and the first phase of planting to compensate for the damage caused from the sewer construction, wrote Clark. CA will pay for future phases of the renovation from CA’s operating budget.
The county will reimburse CA with a pre-agreed limit of $150,000 for replacing the pathway and restoring vegetation, according to Clark. Capital funds would be required if CA chooses to construct the small dock and gazebo structure displayed in the plan, wrote Clark.
Kennedy Gardens is located on the east side of Lake Kittamaqundi and is a narrow stretch of land that sits between the lake and Route 29.
CA is also in the early planning phases of creating a path that will loop completely around the lake. Learn more about that project here - CA Examining Three Ways to Loop Lake Kittamaqundi Path."
   The news about the robbery of a cab driver in Columbia always identified the youth arrested as "Oakland Mills High School students."   I know that three of them were arrested at the school but I think it is unfair to attach a school label to these youth anymore than to identify where they go for religious services or other organizations to which they belong.  If the crimes happened at the school I can see its relevance but in this case it just gives the high school bad publicity they don't deserve.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sip and Savor: United Way in Howard County

    The United Way of Central Maryland supports many Howard County non-profits through the Howard County Community Partnership grants of over $240,000 a year.  Now you can support this effort by attending "an evening of wine, dining and shopping."
   Information on this event at the Columbia Mall comes from United Way:

SIP your way through wine tastings from the Perfect Pour.
SAVOR the flavors of The Mall in Columbia restaurants and Wegmans.
SHOP The Mall in Columbia retailers offering exclusive shopping incentives for one night only.

All ticket sales benefit United Way of Central Maryland.

Don’t miss out…register today!
What:        SIP · SAVOR · SHOP

When:       Thursday, April 11
                    5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Where:      Lord & Taylor Court, The Mall in Columbia

Cost:         $30 per person or $25 per person when two or more tickets
                   are purchased together

Register:   Registration link


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2nd annual Columbia "Walk About" May 4th

   Last year I did a tour of the homes built by the early Columbia builders in Wilde Lake with the Columbia Archives Walk Along.  With nice weather it showed me a side of Columbia history that I had driven by many times but missed how the early architectural style use by the builders reflected the styles of the 1960's.  This year the Walk Along is May 4th. It is well worth considering for a pleasant and educational way to spend a few hours on a Spring morning.  The following information is from the Columbia Archives:

"WalkAlong with tour guides to explore the many facets of Columbia Town Center.  Facts and trivia will pepper the conversation on three routes.  All tours leave from the Columbia Archives office in the American City Building (10227 Wincopin Circle) in Columbia Town Center on Saturday, May 4 at 10 am.  Each tour will last approximately two hours.

Choose one of the following itineraries, each lead by an informative guide:

Tour 1 will look back at architect Frank Gehry’s early career and Rouse Company connections before setting off to view Merriweather Post Pavilion and the former Rouse headquarters -- his two major contributions to the Columbia landscape.  Get an idea of what Columbia means to Gehry and what having Gehry buildings means to Columbia.   

Tour 2 will venture to the softer side of Downtown.  A stroll around Lake Kittamaqundi will unveil Columbia’s skyline in a new light.  Kennedy Gardens, the new grove of cherry trees and plans for new ways to get around Lake Kittamaqundi highlight the design of Downtown as the best of town and country. 

Tour 3 will highlight Oakland Manor – the well-preserved 19th century mansion that has a long history that includes thoroughbred horses, Civil War militias, high society, hippie college kids and elegant weddings old and new -- not to mention Columbia artists Wes Yamaka and John Levering and Kittamaqundi Community Church.

The tours are free but registration is required and capped at 30 people per tour.  Register at or by contacting Columbia Archives at 410 715 6781 or  Registration ends on Monday, April 29, 2013."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Personally-impacted' conscience

      I have tried to limit the political blogs that I do because it really isn't my purpose in doing this blog.  I try to connect people in our community with what is happening in our community.  But today I divert from that because of something that happened last week in the political world.
      Last week Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio came out in favor of allowing gay marriage because two years ago he found out his son was gay.   Rob Portman, as a congressman, was a co-sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.  Dick Chaney only came out for gay marriage because he has a gay daughter.
       Similarly when Ronald Reagan was President he proposed cutting NIH funding by 23%, which included research in the newly developing work with Alzheimers disease.  When he developed Alzheimers his wife, Nancy Reagan, became an advocate for NIH funding for Alzheimers disease. This reminded me of how conservatives seem to only have the ability to be progressive in social thought when they have a personal experience.  Empathy for needs of people who are not in your family or social world seems to be something that is foreign to them.  They appear to me to have a "personally-impacted" conscience instead of a social conscience.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Brainfuse: Live online tutoring help for students

        I remember the year I had to relearn high school biology with one of my daughters.  Not that I wanted to but it seemed to be the only way she could grasp the material covered in her class.  Try remembering your own high school biology 20 some years after you had it!  Now there is an online tutoring service offered through the Howard County Library that provides students from kindergarten to college with a tutor that has the background to help your student.  Brainfuse is accessed with your library card number.  This service is available during the after school hours of 2 pm to 11:55 pm eastern standard time.  In addition to the live tutoring help this service provides practice tests and other study guides.  Some comments from users praise this service:

You guys are the best. I swear when I graduate you guys are going to be the reason why.
 I wish my geometry teacher could teach like this.
 This service is AWESOME! I love it,
 It makes school life just a little easier!!! :)
 I love it!! Teaches better than my math teacher! Keep it coming!
 Wish I knew about this sooner but now that I do I will use it!
 Amazing Service! Really helps me understand my schoolwork when my teachers can't help me!
Thank you so much!
 I liked how the tutor would walk you through step by step to help you solve the problem instead
of just doing the work for you.
 I already somewhat understood this, but this made me understand it completely! I love this sooo
much! Thank you!!
 This is my first time. I will come back!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Library user nostalgia and other Sunday items

Remember when a trip to the library included one of these??


      Out hiking this week I came upon this unusual shaped structure that I couldn't figure out what it was.  Can you guess the location in Columbia and any guess on what it is?

P.S 1.

Guess Spring can't be too far off.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Catonsville Lotto Asian Market: What you will find there

   A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the new Asian market in Catonsville where the old Toys R Us used to be.  I mentioned I would have to go back there when I had time to go down all the aisles.  Last week I got that chance. Below is what I found.
A large selection of nuts of all types

Noodles in every shape and type

A wide variety of Asian snacks

As you would expect a wide variety of soy sauces.  I have grown to like lime flavored soy sauce.

A wide variety of hot sauces both Asian and Mexican

Ever try frog legs?  They really are good and taste like a sweet chicken meat.

I have always been a little afraid to buy seafood at these markets because I was never sure of the freshness but these packages looked fresh.

Not sure of this Tilapia but price looked decent

At the Honey Pig takeout in the store they had a wide variety of meat and veggie filled steamed buns for $2. I had the pork one and it was enough for lunch.

Not sure what they meat filled balls taste like but worth a try

Large pearl tapioca makes a great tapioca pudding

Couldn't leave without trying a new flavored Aloe drink

Friday, March 15, 2013

Are gun buy back programs effective?

     Tomorrow at the Dorsey Building on Bendix Rd (off Route 108) the Howard County Police are having a "gun buy back" from 11 am to 3 pmFunds used in this program come from drug confiscated property.  Getting guns "off the street" certainly has the potential to make a community safer but the question with these buy back programs is whether the guns turned in are coming from people who would be using their gun in an illegal or unsafe manner.  It is safe to assume that no one who is going to use the gun to commit a crime is the type of person to turn a gun in with this buy back program.  While that maybe true removing any gun from a household makes it less likely to be used in a suicide or an accidental shooting. Contrary to the argument of gun rights advocates having a gun in your home makes your home less safe than more safe.  Examples of women using a gun to protect their children may sound reassuring to some but the real facts point to the gun being used against the woman more than for her protection.

From the Columbia Association:

CA’s new World Languages Café offers free, friendly way to learn new languages, increase fluency
 Whether it is in English, en français, en español, or in Arabic, Farsi, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and other languages, there can be a table with friendly faces and good conversation at Columbia Association’s (CA) new World Languages Café.
The World Languages Café provides monthly evenings of conversation, food and culture for people to speak a language they know or are learning, increase their fluency by speaking and listening, meet others who enjoy learning languages, pick up useful phrases to use when traveling — or even to recall a childhood language.
These gatherings are free and are appropriate for adults, as well as college and high school students. They will be held on the fourth Wednesday of the month — upcoming dates are March 27, April 24, May 22 and June 26 — from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Wegmans Café, located at 8855 McGaw Road in Columbia. People are invited to come upstairs and join the language table of their choice, whether they want to drop in or stay the entire time. On their way up, people can purchase a drink, snack or dinner to bring with them.
Language tables are hosted by native speakers who will facilitate conversation; these gatherings are not grammar or vocabulary classes.
Check each month for the languages that will be offered at the upcoming session. Languages for March 27 will be announced soon on the website. For more information, contact or call 410-715-3162.

Turn up the volume on your computer for the best movie theme ever.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Howard County Police helicopter

    Believe it or not but we have folks in Columbia who participate in deer poaching at night.  A couple of weeks ago I heard what sounded like gun shots near Lake Elkhorn and within a few minutes the sound of a low flying helicopter from the Howard County Police was circling over the the Lake.  In trying to find out more about the helicopter I came across this You Tube video of the helicopter used in a police chase last year.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Walkable shopping put to the test at Dobbin Center

   I guess from the photo above you can see that planners for the Dobbin Center thought everyone coming to the Center would drive there.  For one of the most used shopping centers in Columbia it is impossible to walk around the entrance to the Center.

     I frequently run in this area and it definitely is a challenge for anybody on foot in this area.  Above you can see how the sidewalk ends short of the entrance to the Center.  I am not sure they were concerned about cutting down the trees after this point and I would assume that these trees were planted when the Center was built.
   The Dobbin Road path that CA built that runs parallel to Dobbin Road turns away from the Center as shown above.
    The try crossing this area is taking your life in your hands as drivers are not always looking at this crosswalk area but looking at traffic on Route 175 with which they will be merging.
        As bad as it is for walkers and runners along Dobbin Road the lack of bike lanes on Dobbin create scenes like the one above for bikers.

   From the Howard County Library:

Enchanted Garden Club. Discover the joys of gardening. Learn gardening basics, grow flowers and vegetables from seeds, and help plan and maintain beds in our Enchanted Garden. Ages 9-11; Registration and signed release form required. Follow the link for dates, times and to register.
Enchanted Garden Club. Discover the joys of gardening. Learn gardening basics, grow flowers and vegetables from seeds, and help plan and maintain beds in our Enchanted Garden. Ages 9-11;  Registration and signed release form required. Follow the link for dates, times and to register.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Vegetarian one day a week

      Coming from a family that has its share of vegetarians and those who only eat organic I have always felt a little guilty about my food choices.  Oh sure I avoid fast food restaurants except when I am on the road traveling but somehow I know that we Americans eat an unhealthy diet of too much meat, salt and sugar.
      This year my New Year's resolution was to eat vegetarian one day a week.  First question was which day's dinner would it be.  Couldn't be Friday as that is burger day.  Thursday is fish day.  Sunday is usually a day to make a chicken or some other meat that takes too long to make during the week.  I finally decided on Wednesday as it is pasta day.  All I would have do is forget the meatballs.  Breakfast would be easy as yogurt, oatmeal or scrambled egg whites are my usual breakfast choices.  Lunch is a meal that I have frequently skipped so a cup of coffee and toast is a more than enough.
      If you noticed my choices for meals doesn't include many vegetables and relies heavily on carbs. Maybe I would be more accurate to say I have a "meatless" day.  My vegan daughter calls my diet a "junk food vegetarian."  Being vegetarian doesn't always translate into a healthy diet if it is heavy on the carbs.  I have tried to experiment with vegetables that I have avoided most of my life and have found a few that I really have come to enjoy.  Artichokes, brussel sprouts and asparagus aren't bad with a little balsamic vinegar and parmigiana cheese.  Sauteed in a pan with a little olive oil and they taste better than I ever thought.  I have even found that ground mushrooms can be a decent substitute for meat in some dishes.  Pureed carrots and sweet potatoes work well when added to many dessert recipes and I have added grated carrots and sweet potato to many of my meat dishes.

   The last month I have tried to add a second vegetarian day each week.  Maybe I am inching my way to avoiding meat.

P.S. 1
   Surprising fact.  In Maryland gun deaths from suicides and homicides now exceed traffic deaths each year.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Horizon Foundation measures Howard County health status

    Recently the Baltimore Sun had an article that surprisingly showed that only 5% of Baltimore City retirees were in good health.  77% of retirees had a chronic condition or in need of critical care.  The poor state of health of these older residents of Baltimore made me think about the health status of residents of Howard County.
    Recently the Horizon Foundation has been in the news promoting an effort to reduce the level of sugar that young people in our County consume.  The increasing use of sugar in our foods is thought to play a role in the growing obesity problem in our country.  This effort is part of the Foundation's Healthy Howard County program. As part of this effort the Foundation has developed a "Health Status Dashboard" that shows our status in these areas as either being better than the rest of Maryland with the arrow pointed to green or below the rest of Maryland and the arrow pointing to red.
     Not surprisingly Howard County residents come out well in most areas of health as would be expected in a community with a high median income and a high educational level.  Health status and income are usually  correlated.   What the Horizon Foundation has done is to look at how Howard County compares to the rest of Maryland in a wide range of health indicators.  
    So where does Howard County come in below average?  Surprisingly in the incidence of tuberculosis  and Lymes Disease.  While the rate of being overweight is low in our general population the rate is high with the population of low income preschool children.  We also have an above average rate of fast food places in the County and a low rate of grocery stores accepting food stamps or as it is now called SNAP.  


     Tonight! The Curiosity Concept: Creating Conversations That Change Children's Lives. Dr. Brad Sachs, nationally-renowned psychologist, educator, and the bestselling author of The Good Enough Teen, describes an innovative form of communication. Speaking with children in ways that promote their curiosity about themselves enables them to solve problems, find meaning, and mature in healthy ways.
7:00 PM Miller Branch
*Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.
Tonight! The Curiosity Concept: Creating Conversations That Change Children's Lives. Dr. Brad Sachs, nationally-renowned psychologist, educator, and the bestselling author of The Good Enough Teen, describes an innovative form of communication. Speaking with children in ways that promote their curiosity about themselves enables them to solve problems, find meaning, and mature in healthy ways. 
7:00 PM Miller Branch
*Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.


     On May 5th the Howard County Library is hosting Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Isabel Wilkerson presents the award-winning The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. Registration is now online

The Columbia Patch had a recent article about some of the parking changes and addition of a red light with the develop of the Whole Foods in the old Rouse Building.

P.S. 2
  The County Exec will hold his first budget hearing tonight for the public.

P.S. 3
From the Howard County chapter of the American Association of University Women:

Take a full-length practice SAT under actual testing conditions and find out.  It’s a great way to try your hand at the type of questions you’ll face on the SAT exam, build confidence and get comfortable with the exams’ formats. Then attend a Scores Back Strategy Session where you receive your personal scores report and learn more about the results. Cost: $15 for SAT practice test and Scores Back Session.  $15 is donated to AAUW scholarship fund.

SAT Practice Test
Date: March 23, 2013
Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM
Location: Vantage House Auditorium
5400 Vantage Point Rd., Columbia, MD 21044

Scores Back Session
Date: April 20, 2013
Time: 2:30PM - 4:00PM
Location: Vantage House Auditorium
5400 Vantage Point Rd., Columbia, MD 21044

Preregistration is required for the SAT and Scores Back Session
Register by going to
For questions about the test, call 800-2Review (800-273-8439)
Test names are the trademarks of their respective owners who are not affiliated with The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.

Remit $15 cash or check made out to AAUW Howard County and send to:
Amy Robinson, 5563 Nettlebed Ct., Columbia, MD 21045
Questions about donations, email