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Friday, May 31, 2013

Columbia Home Tour Sunday


     The Villages of Columbia and the Columbia Archives are sponsoring a self guided tour of five distinct home throughout Columbia this Sunday June 2nd.  Proceeds from the Tour benefit Rebuilding Together Howard County.  After touring homes you can stop by Linden Hall in the Dorsey Search Village Center for light refreshments and a Columbia Archives display.  Tickets are $20 in advance at all Village Center offices.  Same day tickets are $25 at Linden Hall.  More info at or on Facebook at Columbia Home Tour.

Yesterday I sadly removed my link to Dennis Lane's Tale of Two Cities blog from my blog list.  Dennis' blog had been always been one blog not to be missed.  Any suggestions on a new blog for me to list?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A type of crime too common in Howard County

       As communities go we are one of the safest communities you can find.  Even with the recent murders in our County we think of crime as something we see on the news with a concentration in Baltimore.  However there is one type of crime that has recently come to my attention to which I wanted to alert everyone.  That is the smash and grab purse snatching that takes place almost everyday in parking lots around Howard County.
      This type of crime has twice come to my direct knowledge in the past two weeks.  Both incidents occurred in parking lots at Recreation and Parks parking lots.  The first purse theft occurred at Centennial Park with a purse of a relative taken from her parked car which unfortunately had a window left half open.  The second occurred last week in the parking lot at Cedar Lane Park.  I was umpiring a softball game when a car alarm went off.  A player went out to check on the car alarm and found her passenger side window smashed and her purse stolen out of the car.
      Purse thieves know that they can find purses left in the parking lots of our County athletic fields by female players.  They apparently troll these parking lots looking for visible purses left in cars.  This type of crime also is common with vehicles parked at our athletic clubs.  A word of caution to all women to not leave purses visible in cars anytime.  Also put your purse in the trunk before you leave home.  Putting the purse in the trunk once you arrive at the parking lot makes it too easy for thieves watching at the parking lot.

   Speaking of being careful in our parks some information came to me yesterday that I want to share.  We have all seen the signs in our County parks that say, "When thunder roars, go indoors."  Well on Tuesday that caution became real.  The light pole on the first base side of Cedar Lane Field 1 was hit by lightening.  The scary part was that even though thunder had been heard nothing of the storm to be in close proximity to the field before the lightning struck.  With thunderstorms common this time of year it is a reminder of their danger.

From HoCo Library:

   "Tonight! The History of the Universe from the Beginning to End. Nobel Laureate, Dr. John C. Mather, Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and author of The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe. 05/30/13. 7:00 PM Miller Branch.    "

Tonight! The History of the Universe from the Beginning to End.   Nobel Laureate, Dr. John C. Mather, Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and author of The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe. 05/30/13. 7:00 PM Miller Branch.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Taste of Howard County food trucks on Saturday

    The Monarch Mills Community invites everyone to come and taste the food of a variety of local food trucks this Saturday. Food trucks have become very popular in Howard County. Saturday's event is the first time they have all come together in one place. The "HoCo Chow Down" will serve up exotic and familiar delicacies including treats from Smokey Meadows Grill, La Pearl Waffles, Savannah’s Jamaican Kitchen, Karlita’s Latin American Food Truck, and Bennett’s Five Star Caribbean Grill.
      A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Animal Welfare Society of Howard County to support the Society’s adoption and low cost sterilization and vaccination programs. Animal Welfare Society volunteers will be on hand to share information on the Society’s mission and introduce visitors to adoptable pets.   The HoCo Chow Down will also be raffling off a 28-inch flat screen TV at the event. Raffle tickets will cost $1 and all proceeds will further benefit the Animal Welfare Society of Howard County.

WHERE: Monarch Mills Community Apartment Complex 7600 Monarch Mills Way (off Oakland Mills Rd) Columbia, MD 21046

WHEN: Saturday, June 1 11:30 – 2:30pm

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Join the Friends of the Library and support the Summer Reading Club

From the HoCo Library:
      How can you help students to maintain their academic skills during the summer? Please join the Friends of Howard County Library and support Summer Reading Clubs. If you are already a Friend of Howard County Library member, sharing with friends makes more friends! Last year more than 30,000 children and teens participated in Howard County Library’s summer reading clubs, reading and listening to countless books! 
      Children need to engage with books every day so they can maintain and strengthen the reading skills they learned during the previous school year. If students don't read throughout the summer, they risk losing those skills. Studies show this loss is nearly impossible to make up, compounds over time, and particularly impacts children in underserved communities.
      Did you know that in communities near three HLCS branches, nearly 24 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch programs? Summer reading clubs have the potential to benefit those students who can least afford to lose ground, and who are most likely to suffer from summer reading loss and fall far behind their peers.
     Please consider joining the Friends now through our online donation page:
      Please also thank these local businesses next time you visit them. They give significant prize incentives that motivate families to register and participate in the summer reading clubs.
Baltimore Orioles
Clark’s Elioak Farm
Columbia Association
RacePace Bicycles
Toby’s Dinner Theater
WR Grace

Each $35 Friends membership provides:
board books for the youngest age group of readers (infants to age 3),
performers and presentations at the Summer Reading Kickoff on June 1 (nearly 4,000 attendees!),
materials to promote Summer Reading Clubs in schools (HCLS instructors visit every elementary and middle school in May and June), and printed game boards to track reading activities and allow children to claim prizes donated by local businesses.
    Become a Friend today and come to the June 1 Summer Reading Clubs Kickoff at the Miller Branch to see how your membership makes a difference to families in our community.

The History of the Universe from the Beginning to End. Nobel Laureate, Dr. John C. Mather, Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and author of The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe. 05/30/13. 7:00 PM Miller Branch

Monday, May 27, 2013

Columbia outdoor dining for the Summer

   Recently the Columbia Patch had a listing of outdoor dining places around Columbia.  While most of these are located overlooking parking lots and roads they still give us an opportunity to enjoy one of the treats of Summer.

The restaurants around Lake Kittamaqundi probably give the best environment for outdoor dining.

World War II Memorial in DC
    I learned of a prediction that the last WWII veteran would die around 2038.  Trying to figure out how they predicted that year led me to this website.     

Sunday, May 26, 2013

1914 Decoration Day

     If you remember when people called Memorial Day "Decoration Day" then you are probably over 60 years of age.  For me it was my Grandmother who was born in the early years of the 20th century.  She told me about going to a local cemetery where Civil War veterans were buried to put flowers on their graves.  The year was 1914 and her second grade class made this trip as events in Europe were headed into World War I.   She also remembered seeing Civil War veterans marching in local parades during this time.  Somehow the change in the name of the holiday didn't stop her from calling it Decoration Day even after it had long since changed names.  I bet if you ask anyone under 30 years old today what holiday was called Decoration Day they would be mystified.  For a little history on the day I went to

     "Decoration Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 to commemorate those who had died during the US Civil War. After World War I, which officially ended in 1919, Decoration Day was expanded to honor all military personnel who had died during any war or military action in which the United States had been involved. It was after this time that Decoration Day began to be known as Memorial Day. But it was not until 1967 that President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the legislation officially renaming the holiday as Memorial Day."
     "On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Many Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rolling Thunder in DC

      Tomorrow at noon the loudest annual event is held in DC--Rolling Thunder.  This event is has been held on the Sunday before Memorial Day every year since 1988.  This is the 25th anniversary ride. Originally held to remind people of soldiers who were missing in action, the event has morphed into an event honoring at veterans.

   The ride begins in a Pentagon parking lot and proceeds over the Memorial Bridge, past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and goes around the Mall for 2 hours.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day starts crab and corn season


     Summer in Maryland kicks off with the first crabs and sweet corn.  The crab season doesn't usually get off to a fast start as the bay water usually keeps the season's early crab catch lower than later in the summer season.  We will still be getting many of the Memorial Day crabs from down south.  Same with the corn that is in our grocery stores this weekend.
    The past couple of years I have been pleased with the corn that Giant has carried but this year my place to go for sweet corn has been Wegman's.  Their corn the past couple of weeks has been outstanding.  For a different way to cook sweet corn try roasting it in the oven with the husks on at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.  The husks come off easily after roasting.  For a different flavor try to mix some garlic salt or Old Bay with the butter you brush onto the corn.
    This weekend you will probably see some of the truck crab vendors along some of our major highways.  The truck vendor down 29 near Burtonsville has been a popular vendor.  Franks Seafood Market in the Maryland Produce Market on 175 just past Route 1 is a good place to find crabs.  Just be prepared to pay a premium price for crabs at this time of year.  A couple of years ago HowChow had some suggested places to buy crabs.  Most places still seem to be in business.

    It seems that visitors to Maryland always want to try some crabs as they have heard that Maryland is the place for crabs.  I usually suggest to out of towners to try crab in a crab cake rather than learning how to pick crabs.  This comes from experience.  I once took some crabs to my wife's family in the Mid-West and it was not an experience I want to remember.  After having the live crabs packed in seaweed for the flight out to Chicago I looked forward to bringing a real Maryland experience to folks whose experience with seafood was Gordon's fish sticks.  Somehow for people who were used to slaughtering cows and chickens to eat the idea of boiling the crabs live seemed cruel.  The crabs scratching the lid of the pot probably didn't help.
    Sitting down at the table with newspapers spread out I gave a quick lesson on how to get the crab meat out of the cooked crabs.  Needless to say the crab "mustard" and lungs were a turnoff for them.  They started to rinse off the crabs insides before trying to get out the crab meat.  OK, now onto the fun of eating the crab meat.  Somehow this was the first time some of the family members had ever had shellfish.  Remember this is the Mid-West!  A couple family members started to develop hives and one started to have her throat swell.  No wonder one family member ended our dinner with the comment, "I think we will stick to beef!"

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Are geese making Columbia their year around home?


      Twenty years ago I became used to seeing migrating Canadian geese stopping over in tilled farmland at the end of Oakland Mills Road. For a two week period of time in March and October you could count thousands of geese in the field.  Then they would disappear.  That land has now been developed into the Ecker Hollow community of homes.
     The past few years it seems as if the Canadian geese we have around Columbia have become year round guests.  Go to any of our lakes at this time of year and you will have to walk around geese with their young.  As they seem to have taken up permanent residence here will we have to stop calling then Canadian geese and start referring to them as Columbian geese?  Seems that Columbia has more attraction than northern Canada in summer and the Carolinas in winter.  I wonder if global warming has anything to do with this change.

     Unfortunately this goose population has caused the problem of goose droppings around our lake paths.  The Columbia Association a few years ago hired border collie dogs to chase away the geese at Lake Kittamaqundi.  More recently flags on the dock at Lake Kittamaqundi has been used to keep them off the dock.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weather events in Howard County

     This week's tornado damage and loss of life in Oklahoma Monday is hard to comprehend when we live in an area that doesn't seem to be in a danger zone for weather events.  Sure Ellicott City gets flooded on a regular basis but there is usually sufficient notice of the flooding to minimize any loss of life or damage.  Our earthquake in 2011 was strong for this area but the minimal damage made it an interesting experience just to say we have experienced an earthquake.  We are far enough inland that most Atlantic hurricanes are just mild to moderate wind and rain events for Howard County.  As far as tornados go we rarely see anything that compares to what the Midwest gets every Spring.  An exception was the 2001 tornado when a couple of University of Maryland students from Howard County were killed at College Park when the car they were sitting in was picked up by a tornado that hit the campus.

     The 2011 image above of a developing tornado near Brookville down Route 108 was the only image in Google Images a tornado in our area.  I do remember a storm that produced a tornado that did some minor damage out along Folly Quarter Road back in the 1980's.  I searched the internet for some reference in the local press for that event but couldn't find any mention.  I did drive out to the area the day after to see the damage and it seemed very limited to some twisted trees and minor damage to a barn.  In Columbia the storm made a mess of our streets with small branches and leaves strewn around.

     Just like in the Sandy Hook tragedy, yesterday we heard of teachers putting their lives at risk to save their students.  One teacher used her own body to shield her students in a school bathroom.  Once again it reminds us about the type of people who go into teaching and makes it such a noble profession.

   Tom Coale at HoCo Rising has proposed a "Wordbones Memorial Book Club"  as a way to remember Tale of Two Cities blogger Dennis Lane.  Tom proposed the first book for the book club to be "Timbuktu" by Paul Auster.  Read more about the proposed club.

I wanted to include the weather information that Brent the Brewer added in one of the comments:

"Since 1986 there have been 9 tornado events in Howard County. The '86-'99 dataset is hard to pull data out of, so I can only give you dates the events occurred. They were:

08/28/1992 - 2 separate tornadoes

The '00 and forward database is easier to navigate. I can tell you the dates, locations, and strength:

07/10/2000 - Savage - F1
09/24/2001 - N. Laurel - F2
07/31/2009 - Alpha Ridge - EF1
06/01/2012 - Mt Airy - EF1
06/01/2012 - Scaggsville - EF0

So you are correct in that we don't get much in the way of the strong tornadoes that you tend to see in the midwest on an annual basis, but we still get strong tornadoes here in MD from time to time. In fact, since 2000 here in MD we've had 140 tornado events resulting in 5 deaths, 185 injuries, and $242.5 million in property damage. Who would have thought?!?!?"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Clark's Elioak Farm open

    Clark Elioak Farm on Route 108 is open for locally raised beef, pork, chicken and lamb.  With the issue of commercially raised animals being loaded with steroids and other growth hormones the issue of farm raised animals has become a growing industry.  The Clark family has been farming on Route 108 for over 200 years.  Most recently the family of former Maryland Senator Jim Clark has been expanding the farming to include event themed parties, tours, a petting zoo, hayrides and many of the features of the old Enchanted Forest amusement park.   With many of the features brought from the old Enchanted Forest it will bring bring back the memories of visits to the Enchanted Forest back in the 1960's and 70's.

     This weekend May 25-27 is a gem mining weekend.  Purchase a bucket full of enriched ore, and use the water flume to discover gems you can take home with you. Fun for all ages. Check for more information about gem mining and possible special programs offered this weekend.  To check out the weekend activities go to their events website. 

Foursquare link to Howard County farms and farm stands from Jessie Newburn

   If you are looking for good corn for this weekend try the sweet corn at Wegmans.  Best sweet corn I have had in a long time.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Columbia Foundation name change

       Once upon a time Columbia and Howard County were two very different places.  There was a liberal Columbia Democrat Club and a more conservative Ellicott City Democrat Club.  Ellicott City had Buell's and the Forest Diner and Columbia had Mrs. Z's.  In the 1960's when racial diversity was a central component of Columbia, some of Howard County was still trying to accept the new civil rights legislation in public accommodations.   Urban-raised Columbians sometimes felt like an anomaly in a rural county.
      Today the distinctions between Columbia and the rest of Howard County have been greatly reduced.  Much of this has occurred as former Columbians have moved to newer, larger housing outside the boundaries of Columbia.  Columbia has "spilled over" into much of the rest of the County.  The liberalism of Columbia is now a reality in most of Howard County's voting patterns.
        In light of this reality one of Columbia's oldest institutions has decided that it is time for a name change.  Last week the Columbia Foundation decided to change its name to the Community Foundation of Howard County.  The Foundation has for most of its history funded programs that benefited the entire county inspite of its name.  The name change is probably long overdue.  Below is the public announcement of the name change from the Foundation.

"The Columbia Foundation, which raises, manages and distributes funds to support Howard County nonprofits, will change its name to the Community Foundation of Howard County to better reflect Howard County's growth, the foundation's diverse donor base and the geographic scope of communities served. The new name will take effect May 15th, the day after the foundation's Spring Party."

"As Howard County's only community foundation, it is imperative that we evolve along with the community we serve," said Earl Armiger, chair of The Columbia Foundation's board of trustees. "The board of trustees unanimously approved a resolution to change our name to be more inclusive of the community."

"Columbia-founder Jim Rouse established the foundation, the first community foundation in Maryland, in 1969 to facilitate philanthropy and help create a nonprofit infrastructure in Howard County. In the 1960s, Howard County was home to approximately 60,000 residents, and the surge in population in the 1970s and 1980s was primarily in the villages that comprise Columbia. However, as a result of expanded patterns of housing and development over the past two decades, Howard County is currently home to more than 294,000 residents spread throughout the county."

"Last year, The Columbia Foundation funded 100 nonprofits whose services affected more than 178,000 residents throughout neighborhoods in Columbia and as far east as Elkridge and Savage, as far south as Fulton and North Laurel, as far west as Glenwood and Woodbine and all the communities in between."

"We are all one Howard County community, and our name should reflect that inclusiveness," said Beverly White-Seals, president and CEO of The Columbia Foundation. "As the community has grown, its needs have grown, and we have grown to meet those needs. What remains the same is our commitment of service to each of our donors and charitable funds, to nonprofit organizations and the community. Working together, we're able to leverage collective knowledge, creativity and resources for a greater impact than any one of them could make alone."

Have a "green" energy efficient home?  Get on the "green" home tour.

P.S. 1
From the Columbia Association:

    "  CA’s new World Languages Café offers free, friendly way to learn new languages, increase fluency (4th Wed of the month).    Next Cafe is  at Wegmans. Whether  it  is  in  English,  en  français,  en  español,  or  in  Arabic,  Farsi,  German,  Hebrew,  Hindi,  Italian,  Japanese, Korean, Mandarin,  Portuguese,  or Russian,  there  can  be  a  table  with  friendly  faces  and good  conversation  at  Columbia  Association’s  (CA)  World  Languages  Café.
      The  World  Languages  Café  provides  monthly  evenings  of  conversation  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 (who should be in level 4 or 5).  They  will  be  held  on  the  fourth  of  the  month year-round 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,  participants 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  for  the  languages  that  will  be  offered  each month. If we do not have a native speaker, we may not be able to host a language, although if there are two or more people, they can always practice together. If you would like to be a native speaker table host, please contact me. We have guidelines for table hosts as well as conversation starters. For  more information,  contact  or  call  410-­715-­3162. "

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Great reads for the Summer!

Ice tea with mint, a cool breeze, the deck and a good book.  Does that describe what we think of on a cold winter day?

Summertime and the Livin is easy

From the HoCo Library:

Great Reads For Vacay & Staycay

Colored adirondacksWin prizes for reading! Complete a brief entry form for each book you read or listen to this summer to be eligible for monthly prize drawings. Entry forms available at each branch. All entries are eligible for the systemwide monthly grand prize drawing to win a Kindle Fire.  

Looking for great summer reads for your summer vacation or staycation? Check back for the list of titles compiled by Howard County Library System Instructors.

10:00 AM
Miller Branch
Summer Reading Kickoff
Read and wi ... [more]
No registration required
7:00 PM
Central Branch
Great Reads for Vacay & Staycay
Kick off the adult summer reading club as Library instructors discuss their top picks for summer reading. Win books and ... [more]

 Publisher's Weekly suggestions for 2013

No registration required

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Busy weekend in HoCo this weekend

     This is the weekend that everyone with the HoCo Recreation and Parks either looks forward to or dreads.  With two big events this weekend you can be sure that if you work for Rec and Parks you are working this weekend.
      First is the Wine in Woods in Symphony Woods this Saturday and Sunday.  This event has grown to be one of the biggest events in the County.  Little know fact is that we have Chuck Ecker to thank for this event.  Back in the 1990's when Chuck was County Exec and budgets were tight, because of a bad economy, he charged each department head to find ways to generate new revenue.  This charge was strongly suggested to Rec and Parks.  Wine in the Woods was the revenue producer they came up with.
      The second big event is the Columbia Triathlon at Centennial Lake on Sunday.  If you are driving on Route 108 on Sunday morning be aware of the bikers.  This triathlon has grown to be one of the most popular in the country.  This is the 30th year of the triathlon and the first year that Rob Vigorito, the founder of the triathlon, will be a competitor.  Rob retired this year from running the triathlon.
      Lets hope the weather cooperates.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Coolest Canadian on earth or space


       With the video from astronaut Chris Hadfield going viral this past week with his You Tube video of the David Bowie song Space Odyssey  you have probably seen this video from a Facebook friend or some other source by now.   Reminds how I wish the United States could be more like our neighbors up north.

   Everyone should try to see the Space Station goes overhead.  It is by far the coolest sight in our night sky.  The photo above from the "" shows what the Station will look like in the skyYou can see it at its brightest this upcoming Monday and Tuesday mornings starting at 4:55 am on Monday for 6 minutes.  Tuesday is a little earlier starting at 4:08 am.  Look to the west south west at 10 degrees above the horizon.  The Space Station will move almost overhead as it pasts to the northeast part of the sky. It will look like a very bright large star moving in direct line across the sky.  I have seen it sometimes as not just as a round shape by a short line.  This depends on the angle of the Station as it pasts.  Binoculars make it easier to see the shape of the Space Station.

From the HoCo Library Friends:

"Friends of Howard County Library System Wine Tasting in the Enchanted Garden Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Wine tasting and opportunity to meet Friends of Howard County
Library. Bring a friend and encourage them to join. or call 410.313.7750"
Friends of Howard County Library System Wine Tasting in the Enchanted Garden Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Wine tasting and opportunity to meet Friends of Howard County
Library. Bring a friend and encourage them to join. or call 410.313.7750

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rain Garden installed!

    My rain garden was installed yesterday between my yard and my neighbor's.

We went in together to get a two stage rain garden.

   The installation only took about four hours by the landscaping company.

  This picture shows how the rain garden will block the rain water from flowing into the street.  Below is what this area looked like after a thunderstorm.

   The Columbia Association has received grant funds which pay for 75% of the cost of installing a rain garden.  If you would like to apply to have a rain garden installed click here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bloggers as "super connectors"

   Many of us in the blogging community have had come to our own terms with the death of Dennis Lane the past few days.  His death has reminded me of how Dennis was one of our community's "super connectors."  I guess I shouldn't be surprised in the past few days hearing how people of many different walks of life in Howard County either knew of or had heard of Dennis.  There weren't many community events that Dennis missed.  Super connectors are the glue that hold communities together.  Typically you think of elected officials or leaders of our local institutions when you think of who these super connectors are but with the growth of the blogging community in Howard County bloggers are often the vehicle to connect diverse individuals and groups within Howard County.  Super connectors are the ones who bring together people of different backgrounds that lead to the creation of many of the new developments within our community.  I can't help but think of Jim Rouse when I of think of super connectors and how he was able to bring people with a business background together with people in the social sciences to create what is unique about Columbia.  Bringing together people of different backgrounds and skills is the key to many successful new endeavors. Think Apple and Google

     Of course some bloggers like Dennis are highly visible in the traditional manner of attending community meetings and social events but others are just known through their blogs.  HowChow is probably an example of being influential as a blogger but not visible in other ways in our community.  I always go to HowChow for information on local restaurants but don't even know much about the person who writes the blog.  Restaurant reviewers will probably always want to have a certain level of anonymity that the internet can provide.

  Link to an article on how to become a super connector

From the Howard County Historical Society:

    "On Friday, May 24, Takoma Park, Maryland’s OCEAN Quartet continues their month-long May Day celebration at the Howard County Historical Society Museum, which is housed in an 1894, gothic-style church with a pitched roof, hundred-foot bell tower and stained glass windows. The Ocean Quartet’s members are bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Jennifer Cutting (Washington Area Music Association’s “Musician of the Year”); vocalist Lisa Moscatiello (whose voice Billboard Magazine called "one of the most gorgeous vocal instruments in all of folk-tinged pop"); Scottish-style fiddler Andrew Dodds; and traditional singer/folklorist Stephen Winick. The Howard County Historical Society Museum is located at 8328 Court Avenue off Main Street in Ellicott City. Admission is $18 for members and $20 for nonmembers. Parking is available on the street in front of the museum and in the Circuit Court House lot. For tickets, information: or (410) 461-1050.
            May Day celebrations in Britain evolved as a combination of the traditional Celtic holiday of Beltane and Roman feasts worshiping Flora, the goddess of flowers and Maia, the goddess of spring (for whom the month of “May” is named). The band will raise voices, fiddles, squeezeboxes and tin whistles to “bring in the May” and usher in the summer months. The program will feature centuries-old folk songs, originals by bandleader Jennifer Cutting, poetry by Chaucer, Sir Thomas Mallory and Edgar Allen Poe, and a special appearance by the Green Man, also known as Jack-in-the-Green. Read more about Ocean at   "

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cicadas a "no-show" this year

      Credit Cicada Blog

      First the dreaded stink bugs seem to have been decimated down to manageable levels this year and now we hear in this report from the Columbia Patch that the cicadas are going to be a no-show this year in Howard County.  Seems like we will all have to wait for 2021.  Now if we could just find an answer for mosquitoes.


     The turtles at Lake Elkhorn seem to have a pecking order with the lineup by size.

    From the looks of this goose, ducks and geese can "get it on!"

Monday, May 13, 2013

Binging on books

    My New Year's resolution this year was to read more and spend less time watching TV and on my computer.  Needless to say I have only been partially successful.  With many favorite TV shows ending soon I decided to read for at least 2 hours every night instead of seeing what is on the tube. My usual routine has been to read 30-45 minutes in bed as a way to become sleepy enough to drift off to sleep quickly.  Amazing how tired your eyes can get reading.
    With 2 books from the HoCo Library this past weekend I tried to rectify my failed resolution attempts.  I am very eclectic in my reading material as long as it is non fiction. One of the books is by Mary Roach called Gulp, Adventures along the Alimentary Canal. Mary Roach is a humor author unlike any other.  The topics she picks are ones that seem unusual for someone looking for humor.  This book has made me into a fountain of information on our alimentary canal this past week.
     The second book is The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.  This book shows how politics makes strange bedfellows and friendships.  Helps to explain how former presidents bond when elections are in their past.  Wish current politicians could learn this lesson while they are still in power.
    With summer approaching now is a great time to visit the library or local bookstore and stock up for reading on the deck on warm summer evenings.

     Having blogged on reading more I have to say that I am sad to see the end of the "Office."  For most of us who have worked in an office the characters on the show brought out, in an exaggerated manner, some of the crazier aspect of office life.  Interactions with co-workers are as complex as any with our family members.  In fact our officemates often are second families. This show has shown how office romance, supervisor incompetence and petty rivalries make for interesting office dynamics.  The show has launched almost as many comic careers as Saturday Night Live.  Thursday night TV viewing for me will have a hole in it next year.

P.S. 1
   Give your kids the gift of reading by attending the kickoff to this year's Summer Reading Program at the Miller library on June 1st.  Nothing helps children in school more than turning them into readers.

P.S. 2

    This past week I happened to be in Baltimore and came across this sculpture made from a tree.  Anyone able to guess where this is?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Bananas Foster French Toast

     The past two years I have blogged recipes for special breakfasts for Mother's Day.  It seems like most of the things I like to make for breakfast are sweet and variations of desserts.  Today is no different.  Having made this recipe a couple of times I thought it fit with the pattern I have established.

    Start with making french toast with a good Challah bread.  I usually add vanilla and cinnamon to the egg batter.  Then the topping is made by melting a stick of butter and adding a half cup of brown sugar when the butter has melted.  When the mixture turns to a golden syrup add the sliced bananas until they are soft. Optional is teaspoon of dark rum.  Sprinkling a little powdered sugar on top always makes it look nice.  Adding vanilla ice would make this a dessert.  Maple syrup isn't usually needed.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Blogging community's loss

           Those of us in the HoCo blogging community were shocked yesterday to learn of the murder of Dennis Lane.  Dennis was one of the most popular bloggers with his Tale of Two Cities blog.  It was one of the blogs I read everyday.  For many people who read Dennis' blog it was the only way they knew him.  For those of us in the blogging community who had an opportunity to meet and talk with Dennis we were able to get to know him as a warm and funny individual.  He never took himself too seriously.  My conversations with Dennis usually got around to talking about how we found the material to be an "almost everyday" blogger.  There are only a few of us in Howard County who try to blog everyday.  For us everyday provides an opportunity to share our observations that most people experience but don't share.  Dennis, being involved with commercial real estate, usually blogged on what was happening in the business world in Howard County.  His blog was always a good source of what business was coming or leaving Howard County.  But what I liked most about his blog was that he also shared many of the small, personal observations of a man with a curiosity of the everyday occurrences around our County.

  It is hard to believe that there will never be another blog post by Dennis.   He will be missed. 
   Strange to see what certainly looks like a different person labeled as Dennis in the Sun's article this morning.  Not sure how they could get a picture of the wrong person.

   Community Action is at Wegman's today (Saturday) accepting donations for the Howard County Food Bank.  Stop by and donate today.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Preakness hot air balloon festival at Turf Valley

      Howard County has our very own piece of the Preakness in the balloon festival at Turf Valley.  The balloon launches happen at 6:30 am next Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Parking for the launches is at Turf Valley.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Storm water runoff

  There has been controversy about the new storm runoff fee for homeowners.  In January County Executive Ulman submitted legislation to impose this fee on homeowners in Howard County. This fee is designed to generate funds to combat the negative environmental impact of storm runoff to our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.  Anne Arundel and Baltimore City have been two of the jurisdictions that have  been the most visible in opposition. According the the Gazette newspaper the fee was imposed to,

   "In 2010 the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maryland to reduce stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay so that nitrogen levels fall 22 percent and phosphorus falls 15 percent from current amounts. The price tag: $14.8 billion.
And where do we get the $14.8 billion? By taxing so-called “impervious surfaces,” anything that prevents rain water from seeping into the earth (roofs, driveways, patios, sidewalks, etc.) thereby causing stormwater run off. In other words, a rain tax."

  Every time we use nitrogen based fertilizer to make our yards green

  we create the algae "blooms" that choke our waterways of oxygen necessary for supporting a healthy water ecology.  One look at Lake Elkhorn and other lakes in our area show this in dramatic form.

  What can a homeowner do to combat this destruction?  The easiest is to use organic rather than chemical fertilizers.  

      Next consider a driveway material that allows the rain water to seep through to the ground.  This is material that is used in the parking lot at the Robinson Nature Center.

Creating a rain garden is another step to consider.

   I am having a rain garden installed in my yard next week and will be blogging on this next week.  The Columbia Association has received funds that pay 75% of the cost to install a rain garden in residents yards.  

  Finally rain barrels are a way to reduce the storm water runoff and you can contact the County for more information on building a rain barrel.

  The Columbia Patch has information on the Howard County gang members arrested today.   I have blogged on the tagging that indicate the existence of gangs in our County.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Howard County Arts Council's 2013 sculptures

    I know that many readers of this blog have followed the sculptures that have been placed around the County by the Howard County Arts Council.  The sculptures for 2013 are now in place.  This effort at public art is one of the best Howard County features to look forward to every year. Check out the 2013 editions and locations below.

One Big Scoop by Kevin Vanek at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City

Music of the Squares  by Bob Turan at the Gary Arthur Community Center, Glenwood

Sentinel Music by Jim Paulsen at the Arc of Howard County in Ellicott City

1/2 x 3 by Philip Smith at the Wincopin Lakeside Building

Appalachian Spring by Charles Pikey at the James and Anne Robinson Nature Center

Autumn Amber by Glenn Zweygardt athe the Horowitz Visula and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College

Bud by Carl Billingsley at the Howard County General Hospital

Continuum by Jodi Hollnagel-Jubran at the Elkridge Branch of the HoCo Library

In Harmony by Paul Steinkoenig at the Central Branch of the HoCo Library

Hope by Charlie Brouwer at the East Columbia Branch of the HoCo Library

  Think our solar system fits into a "normal" pattern?  See how that may not be true.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Changes at Lake Kittamaquandi

 During Saturday's Walk About it was hard not to notice the changes taking place around the Lake Kittamaqundi area.

     The renovation of the old Rouse Building is in full swing with tarps covering the exterior of the building. Scheduled opening of the new Whole Foods and CA managed athletic club is September 2014.

    Paddle boats have returned to the lake.  You can rent a regular paddle boat for $15 a half hour and $20 a half hour for the swan paddle boats.  The boat rentals are available evenings during the week and all day on the weekends.

   The renovation of the Clydes restaurant is nearly complete.  The interior is done and the restaurant is open once again.

Monday, May 6, 2013

New path around Lake Kittamaqundi

   On Saturday I had a chance to walk around the area that will be a paved path around Lake Kittamaqundi next year.  This walk was part of the Columbia Archives Walk About. Earlier this year the Columbia Association considered 3 possible routes around the lake.  

The one that was chosen was the one above which was the longest route but the least expensive. 

    The existing path gives you the best views of downtown Columbia.

The existing path by the Kennedy Gardens area will be paved.

The road above was built for access during the dredging of the lake and will be paved also.

The only section that will have a bridge will be over a small rain runoff stream at the far end of the lake.

After crossing the stream the path will continue along a grassy area that is owned by CA.

The path will next connect to a current dirt pathway which will be paved.

Finally the new path will connect with the existing path that goes from the lake front to Route 175.  As the pictures below show this path will give you a close look at some of the wildlife around the lake.

   Applications now being taken for the 2013 Journey Leadership Camp.  This camp is for young women entering 8 or 9th grade.

P.S. 1

 Info for the first 5K Milltown race in Ellicott City this weekend.