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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Last Day to vote for Ellicott City in Benjamin Moore contest

Today is the last day to vote to have downtown Ellicott City painted by Benjamin Moore.  We are currently in second place.  Vote today.

From the Hoco Library:
Join us this evening Sunday June 30th at 8:45 PM EST as the Gale/Library Journal, Library of the Year Award is presented to Howard County Library System. Watch live streaming video from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. Go to

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Something to make you think this weekend

   On weekends I typically post on food or weekend activities but today I wanted to do a post that will take some time absorb.  I know that many blog readers are at work when they read this blog during the week. I hope you will take an hour or two this weekend to listen to some TED talks that will make you think.  The first is a humorous talk on education by Ted Robinson on why the typical educational system in our country is so unsuccessful in developing students minds to have the ability to critically think.  Critical thinking should  be the goal of any good educational system.   Here is this very humorous talk on the subject.

    If you have a little more time scan Bill Gates 13 favorite TED talks.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Weekend activities

Columbia Lakefront this weekend

Friday, June 28: “War Horse,” a Steven Spielberg film, PG-13, Dusk. Also, Dancin’ Under the People Tree goes from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 29: Brown Brothers Collective, jazz, 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 30: St. John Baptist Choirs, gospel, 6:30 p.m.

Columbia Arts Festival

Friday June 28th  at 8 pm at the Rouse Theater--Philobolus Dance Theater
Saturday June 29th at 8 pm at the Rouse Theater- Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Morning "critter" visitors in Columbia

   We all know that the animal population of our suburban community is far greater than most of us are aware.  We have grown use to the deer feeling that Columbia is a great place to live.  Food and water sources are plentiful with our abundant open spaces, lakes and storm ponds.  Yesterday this reality was brought to home for us while we sat eating breakfast in our home.  Our dog's barking led us to check out what seemed to be bothering him.  

Quickly looking up on our deck we noticed first one, then two, then three and finally four young raccoons on 
our deck
These youngsters seemed to be exploring the deck and ground for the first time.  Their initial tentativeness soon was replaced by more surefootedness. 

We knew we had a raccoon in our beech tree for some time but to see that there was now a family was a rude awakening. 

   Somehow when I hear the word "critter" it makes me think of Granny on the the old Beverly Hillbillies TV show.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Horizon Foundation takes on sugar usage in HoCo

   Sugar, sugar everywhere. The Horizon Foundation has spearheaded a program in Howard County called "Howard County Unsweetened."  The amount of sugar in our food is a leading cause of the growing obesity in our population and especially with children.  While at one time we knew how much sugar we consumed because we added the sugar to our food.  Now the sugar is added in the manufacturing process to many foods that we never would assume have sugar. The past 20 years manufacturers have been switching to corn syrup as a sweetener because it is cheaper than sugar.  As the Howard County Unsweetened website describes the forms that sugar takes in our food are many:
     ".... when we say sugar, we mean corn syrup, golden syrup, refiner’s syrup, sorghum syrup, malt syrup, barley malt, maltodextrin, maltose, beet sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, date sugar, golden sugar, grape sugar, invert sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, yellow sugar, buttered syrup, cane-juice crystals, caramel, carob syrup, dextran, dextrose, diatas, diastatic malt, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, honey, lactose, mannitol, molasses, sorbitol, sucrose, and – oh yes – sugar."
    While the amount of sugar a person should consume varies it is generally assumed that for most women the limit should be 20 grams a day (5 teaspoons) and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) a day for a man. Children should not consume more than 12 grams ( 3 teaspoons) a day.  The target of the Howard County Unsweetened is children.  When you look at the advertising that is directed at children it is mostly high sugar products.  Manufacturers know that you are most likely to sell a product to children if it is sweet.  Children are also uneducated about the dangers of sugar so it is up to parents to restrict the sugar intake of children.
     I decided to look around at the products that I had purchased to see where the sugar was in our home.  Of course the apple juice (organic), orange juice and grape juice were loaded with sugar.  I cut the sugar in half by mixing the juices with half water.  You can get used to juice this way.  Here are some of the products that you may not have suspected:
1) Chicken broth---cane juice
2) Catsup---sugar
3) Trader Joes Red Pepper Spread---sugar
4) Biscuits- sugar
5) BBQ sauce- corn syrup
6) Bread crumbs- corn syrup
7) Cheerios- sugar
8) Cottage cheese- sugar
9) Multi-grain bread- 5 grams of sugar
10) French fries- 6 grams of sugar
11) Spaghetti- 2 grams sugar

Finally, beware of products that are labeled low in sugar, salt or fat as the manufacturers will increase the use of one of these items when they eliminate another.  Low fat energy bars are a good example of this with their high levels of sugar.  Unfortunately many manufactured products wouldn't taste good if you eliminated the fat, sugar and salt.  All the more reason to eat more fresh, unprocessed foods.

From HoCo Parks and Rec:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The summer "circle of life" in suburbia

   My project this summer has been to reduce the grass area of my lawn and have a more environmentally friendly area area around my house.  I hate grass!  It may be fine for golf courses but environmentally it is a disaster.
The project started with the installation of a rain garden. 

The garden has grown considerably and has attracted butterflies and birds and yes a few bees.

Next I have planted hosta plants around a lamppost and will expand the plantings to the area around a tree that has been just dirt for a long time.  Before this year I never realized how common hostas were in Columbia plantings.  It seems every lawn has a few of these plants.

   Saw this conversation about us suburbanites and lawns and have to pass it along. Something to think about next time you mow your lawn!

God said: "Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet ? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan.Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon.The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles."

It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

Grass ? But, it's so boring.It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there ?

Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it -sometimes twice a week.

They cut it ? Do they then bale it like hay ?

Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

They bag it ? Why ? Is it a cash crop ? Do they sell it ?

No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away ?

Yes, Sir.

These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life.

You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

No ! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose ?

After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

And where do they get this mulch ?

They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

Enough ! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight ?

'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a story about....

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Defense of Marriage Act Repeal

      For those of us who have been advocates for marriage equality this upcoming week, and maybe today, could be the time when the Supreme Court could make its ruling on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.  This ruling could be as big to the cause of civil rights in this country as the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954.  There are few Supreme Court rulings that are seen as pivotal moments in our country's history of progressive change.  Unfortunately progress on this civil right has been left to unelected members of the judiciary, just like the 1954 ruling, because our elected members of Congress don't have the courage to legislate this long overdue change.
     Why is this change necessary?  There are 1138 federal benefits that are tied to married couples.  If DOMA were overturned these federal benefits would be provided to gay couples in states, like Maryland, that have marriage equality laws.  Marriage is defined by the states and in every case where states differ on defining marriage the federal government follows the state laws in regards to providing federal benefits----except with same sex marriage because of DOMA.
     Let's hope history is made this week.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Future Oriole star in the making

   Going to Bowie Baysox games the past few years has given us the opportunity to watch future Oriole stars like Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy.  Last night I saw there is one more future star to watch.

    Last night's visit to the Bowie Baysox game, on a Star Wars themed night, showed me two things----how far one Oriole star is from getting back to the major leagues and how potentially great one rising future star is right now.  First the rehabbing Oriole.

     Nolan Reimold, a recent Orioles potential star, has been rehabbing at the Double A level with the Baysox for the past week.  This injury plagued player has shown flashes of power and potential all star qualities the past couple of years with the Orioles.  Unfortunately from what I saw last night he still has a way to go in getting back to the Orioles.  With a couple of strikeouts and a couple of walks, in which he didn't swing once, he looked out of sync in his hitting.  He was facing Altoona Curve, a Pirate Double a team, flamethrower Jameson Tailon who was consistently throwing in the 97-99 mph range.  Tailon was selected second overall in the draft in 2010 and has been compared to Steven Strasburg in ability. As shown above Nolan was unable to touch his fast ball.

     The second thing I saw was the potential Oriole star in the Cuban born Henry Urrutia.  While Reimold was having trouble catching up to the high 90's fastballs, Urrutia was hitting with authority no matter what was being pitched.  With his fielding his left field position, his running ability and his hitting he looks like a sure thing major leaguer in the near future.

      Look for Urrutia to join the Orioles expand their rosters later this year and be platooned in left field.

    Last night's game also gave me this opportunity to use my telephoto lense to look at the "Super" moon.

    This moon is 14 percent larger than normal as the Moon has its closest approach to Earth this year.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Baltimore Sun lets subscribers read digital newspaper for free

    Last week the Baltimore Sun has finally figured out that it wasn't paying off to only allow subscribers a limited number of views a month without paying an additional fee.  They have just launched a nice online version of the paper that is emailed to subscribers each morning.  The format is as nice as reading the paper version.  For quite a while I was able to read the paper online with Google Chrome browser that gives you an option of going "incognito" when you right click on the Sun link.  The new Sun version makes this method obsolete.  The Sun is finally "going with the flow" to digital.  One advantage is that they can now give advertisers the number of views of their ads.  One feature for advertisers that I didn't see is to lead the viewer to the advertiser's website by clicking on the ad.

From the American Association of University Women:

  " On July 20, AAUW Howard County will host a Practice SAT Exam for middle and high school students at Vantage House auditorium, 5400 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, MD 21044. The Princeton Review will administer the practice exam and lead a Scores Back Session on August 10 at Vantage House. The practice SAT is held from10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and the Scores Back session is from 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Total cost is $15 for this fundraiser with proceeds going to the AAUW Howard County scholarship fund.
Send cash or a check made payable to AAUW Howard County to Amy Robinson, 5563 Nettlebed Court, Columbia, MD 21045.
Pre-registration and pre-payment are required. Register at Contact The Princeton Review at 800- 273-8439 for questions about the test and the Scores Back session. For other questions, email AAUWHoCo."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Berry season opens at Larriland Farms

     Tomorrow June 22 the berry season at Larriland Farms on Woodbine Road opens.  Blueberries and raspberries will start off the berry season.  This is a little later than last year.  Being the opening day it would be good to get there early.  Berries should be more plentiful in another week or two.  Last year I went up for the black raspberries but ended up mostly picking the blueberries.  The raspberries were thin the day I was there but the blueberries were abundant.  I had never picked blueberries but I picked them by the handfuls.  In no time I had many pounds of blueberries.  I picked enough to last until a couple of months ago in our freezer.  I will definitely pick enough this year to last us till the next picking season in 2014.  The blueberries keep very well in the freezer unlike some other berries.  We use them mostly for blueberry pancakes.  No store bought blueberries can compare with the ones we picked.

    Someone at Larriland Farms was smart enough to get the website address of ""  Someone savvy in computers to be early enough to grab that address.

    If you want to have a pick your own fruit here in Columbia and surrounds all you have to do it look down on many of our paths this time of the year.

Mulberry trees are everywhere.  While the fruit from these trees are not as sweet as other berries you can use these in most recipes that call for a berry.

 Just be aware that picking them will leave your hands stained red.  Wearing gloves is advised.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Millionaire Teacher at HoCo Library


      Andrew Hallam had a goal of becoming a millionaire by the time he was 40.  While this may not be an ambitious goal for a wall street trader or someone playing a professional sport it is seemly a stretch for a public school teacher.  Tonight at the Miller library the 9 rules of the book written by Andrew Hallam will be discussed by Robert Wasilewski of RW Investment Strategies.  This is part of an eight week class hosted by the library.  I made the mistake of not posting this blog on tonight's session earlier as the session registration is full.  So here are some of my thoughts on the topic.
        While I have not read Mr. Hallam's book I am always amazed at the popularity of books designed to make a person wealthy.  When you look at the best sellers list on any given week you can count on seeing books on making money, how to succeed in business or how to lose weight.  All are sure fire book sellers.  Why do we need a 300 page book to tell us how to become financially secure or achieve our ideal weight?  To reach our ideal weight all we have to do it use more calories than we take in.  To achieve financial security we have to spend less money than we earn.  It is as simple as that.  To think you can eat all the chocolate you want and lose weight or buy homes with no money down and become rich you are just being a sucker for someone making money off you naivety.  I am no financial advisor but here would be my 3  rules to become secure financially:
1) Set up an automatic deduction from any income source that automatically goes into a savings account.  This is a rainy day account.  When you pay off any debt, like a car loan, student loan or house mortgage, pay yourself the same amount into this savings account and start paying cash for things for which you used to borrow.  Any raise or unexpected money goes into the savings account.
2) Set up an automatic deduction from any income source that automatically goes into a Roth IRA or some other conservative investment plan.
3) Pay off credit card bills every month or stop using credit cards.
4) Work out a monthly budget that only spends the money you have left after doing the first two rules.

     You may not be a millionaire by age 40, especially is you start the plan in your 30's, but money will not control how you live your life.  And there maybe more time to enjoy your life when your are not spending all your time earning more money to pay off your debts.
From the Library:
"The Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School
This low-key, novel learning experience combines in-person and online sessions to delve into Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam. Each week, participants can discuss a chapter of Hallam’s book online and learn how the teacher built a million-dollar portfolio before he turned 40. Participants may borrow Millionaire Teacher for the entire eight-week class. Participate at your own pace on the discussion blog. Registration includes all sessions. For adults and high school seniors. Presented by Robert Wasilewski, President of RW Investment Strategies."

Introductory session: Jun 20 (Thu) 7 - 8:30 pm, Miller Library in Ellicott City
Midway session: Jul 23 (Tue) 7 - 8:30 pm
Blog available beginning Jun 20 at
You Tube
In partnership with Howard County Financial Education Alliance.

   Registration for these sessions is closed by you can still attend.  All this means is that you can't get one of the books available tonight.  You can just buy a book on your own at Amazon.

Now for that chocolate diet..........

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eric Snowden, Linda Tripp, Jayson Blair, 9/11 hijackers and Howard County

      It is always interesting when a local resident hits the national news.  Most recently this applies to former Ellicott City resident Edward Snowden. This NSA whistleblower/traitor (take your pick) is only the most recent in a long list of local residents hitting the news.  I guess being located near DC means that many of our residents have the potential to be in positions that could lead to making the national news.
     Up until Snowden our most controversial local resident to gain national exposure was Linda Tripp.  Remember her?  She was the Columbia resident that befriended Monica Lewinsky in the Bill Clinton scandal back in the 1990's.  I had one sighting of Linda Tripp that I will always remember.  Eating breakfast at the Bagel Bin (I think it may have still been called the Bagel Shoppe back then) one Saturday morning with the Howard County Striders bagel runners, in walked a woman with a full length fur coat and sunglasses.  The weather didn't seem cold enough for a fur coat and it caught everyone's attention.  Then one of the runners leaned over the table and whispered "that's Linda Tripp."   Needless to say we weren't the only ones there who had recognized her.  You could tell she was nervous as she scanned the people around the Bagel Bin and hurriedly left the shop with her bagels.  She moved to Northern Virginia soon after.
      In 2003 Columbia resident Jayson Blair was uncovered as having falsified articles he had written for the New York Times.  While not having the notoriety of the people mentioned previously, it is considered a major scandal in the newspaper world and has led to many newspapers developing policies that require more scrutiny by editors on high profile articles.

     On an even more notorious vein we were all shocked to learn in 2001 that some of the 9/11 hijackers had stayed the Valencia Motel in North Laurel.  While not exactly local residents even their short stay in our County is worth noting.  I still think of this every time I go by the Route 1 motel.

Guess we should take some pride in the fact that some famous one time Columbia residents like these make us proud to be from Columbia.
Terry Virts, astronaut 
Elise Ray, Olympic gymnast
Edward Norton, actor
Randy Pausch, college professor and You Tube star

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Columbia 2.0 under construction

  Everywhere you look these days it seems as if the places we have know since the early days of Columbia are being remade.

Wilde Lake Village Center, Columbia's oldest, is about to get its biggest makeover to a combined commercial/housing area.

The Columbia Mall renovation begins with the tearing down of the LL Bean store.  The new open courtyard plaza's first phase is scheduled for a November 2013 opening.  Just in time for holiday shopping.

Not much remains of the LL Bean store.

Picture of new plaza area of the Mall

Work is well underway on the old Rouse Building with a scheduled Fall 014 of the Whole Foods store and athletic club

The pictures above and below show the open areas along Brokenland Parkway will be lined with office buildings.

So we finally learn what new restaurant is coming to the Lakefront where the Red Pearl was.  While the exact name and menu hasn't been released the Forman Wolf restaurants are definitely upscale dining now only found in our area in Baltimore and DC.  Looking at the menus of their Baltimore restaurants you should plan on spending around $100 for a meal for 2 with wine. This restaurant will make Clydes look like a bargain.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The "cavalry" arrive in Howard County

   Yesterday biking on the path to Savage Park I noticed what looked like Howard County police on horseback.  On the way back I once again saw the police on horses around Lake Elkhorn.  My curiosity made me stop and talk to these folks.  I learned that they are volunteers on their own horse.  Notice the two Clydesdales.

    The Howard County Police and the Columbia Association are partnering to provide this increased level of monitoring of the 93 miles of CA paths around Columbia.  These volunteers are not police with guns but can radio the police if needed.  Look for these volunteers around the paths this summer.  The following is from a police media alert:

      "With the summer months here, the Howard County Police Department and Columbia Association are partnering to keep Columbia’s 93.5 miles of pathways safe while people are enjoying the outdoors. While police have not seen an increase in crime in these areas, these efforts are intended to increase police visibility and deter problems."

     "In addition, the partnership now allows for the association’s extensive pathway system to be patrolled by HCPD’s volunteer mounted patrol unit as an extra set of eyes and ears for law enforcement efforts. 'This is the time when people are outdoors and enjoying the open space pathways and amenities,' addedSean Harbaugh, assistant director of Columbia Association’s Open Space Management Division 'I believe that the extra sets of eyes and direct communication between the volunteers, HCPD and Open Space Management will certainly help reduce the few unwanted activities that occur.' The volunteer mounted patrol unit is comprised of 12 local volunteers and their horses. The unit provides assistance to police by conducting mounted patrols using personally owned horses and tack. Volunteers assist in investigative, administrative, and community service functions and events."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Are fathers necessary??

      Happy Fathers Day! OK, I have to admit as a father I sometimes feel under appreciated when it comes to parenting.  The role of mothers seems to be much more appreciated in how our society views the importance of parenting in a child's life.  I am not saying that this view doesn't have some substantial evidence when mothers still play the primary role in the life of children.  For most children mom is still the one who comforts them when they are hurt both physically and emotionally.  It is not surprising that the highest volume of phone calls is on Mothers Day. Somehow most of we men have still a long way to go in coming to terms with our "softer" side.  I tried not to use the phrase "feminine side" because I have never liked the idea that being in touch with your feelings is a feminine quality.  Women of my daughters generation give me encouragement that they not only expect but demand that their husbands play a more significant role in the parental responsibilities.  Men benefit from having this responsibility even it doesn't start out as voluntary.
     I have mentioned before in this blog that my wife and I have this fascination with the MTV shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom.  The purpose of the show is to show young girls the consequences of unprotected sex for your future life.  When I tell people that I watch this show they are amazed that I watch these shows as I am well past the age of most of the viewers.  Probably has something to do with the fact that we fostered teenage girls for ten years.  There is one commonality in these shows and our fostering experience.  The lack of fathers in most of the girls growing up experiences.  No role positive male role models.  Without these role models the young girls are vulnerable to exploitative boyfriends.  They soon learn that 15 and 16 years old boys are not the best choices for a parenting partner.  Video games, hanging out with their friends and cars and trucks always have a higher priority than diapers and 2 am feedings.
    I am reminded of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song with the lyrics of "teach your children well."  A big part of that is to "teach and show your boys the importance of being a good father."

     What really annoys me about this issue of men and our attitude toward children is to watch as male politicians not "getting it" that social policies that support the needs of families, women and children are not some muddled, naive, socialist, European foolishness.  I can accept that 16 year old boys have not learned the importance of supporting children as just immaturity but to see this ignorance in middle age male elected officials is just plan callousness. It is easy to say "children are our first priority" but it seems too far a reach to put your money where your mouth is.

  If you read the link above on the volume of phone calls on Mothers Day you might have noticed that the one country where this wasn't the rule was South Korea where the volume of calls went to fathers by 4 to 1. Not sure how to understand this.  But it probably isn't that Korean fathers are more loved as a reflection of the role that the father plays in Korean culture.  If any readers have knowledge of this I would love to hear about this more.

P.S. 2

   I always had a problem buying my Father a gift for Fathers Day.  He didn't fish.  He didn't like wearing a tie.  He didn't play any sports.  He wasn't even much for eating out.  A phone call and a card was all he wanted.  This is my second Fathers Day that I can't make that call.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Summer Lakefront movies


   Summer seems to be the time that many thriller movies are released.  For many of us the first summer thriller we remember that fits this description is Jaws which came out in 1975.  Can't you just heard the theme song played whenever the shark approached? For those too young to remember the movie here is the 2 minute trailer.  I remember that the second weekend it came out I could only get tickets to a late night showing.  Not the type of movies to go home after and try to get to sleep!
    Fortunately the Lakefront movie festival this summer has much lighter fare.  To check out the free family type movies to take in this summer click this link.   A warm summer evening, the Lakefront and a free movie ---sounds like something to make a memory for a cold winter evening only a few months away.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Columbia's 46th Birthday Celebration and Festival of the Arts today


    Somehow the scaled down Columbia birthday celebration makes me fondly remember the old Columbia Fair celebrations that were kicked off with Jim Rouse cutting the birthday cake.  Even though not on the scale of the Howard County Fair it did provide enough food and entertainment for a nice way to kick off the summer season.  June 21st the celebration kicks off at the Columbia Lakefront at 6:30.  Described as,
"Umbrella Art Exhibition, Dancin’ Under the People Tree, cake cutting, children's activities, and more! Make an evening of it and stay for the movie afterward."  Call 410-715-3161 for more information.
    Also beginning this weekend is the Columbia Festival of the Arts. Lots happening at the Festival this year.  Check out this YouTube video for a sampling of the performers.  Many of the activities are free.  Weather this weekend looks great for the Festival.

From Howard County Historical Society:


Past-HCHS President, Shelley Davies Wygant, author of Images of America : Howard County will be signing her book at the Cosco at Gateway Overlook. Cosco is located at 6675 Marie Curie Drive, Elkridge (corner of MD 108 and MD 175).

The book makes a great gift and supports the Howard County Historical Society. Have the author add a special Father's Day message to your favorite father. A copy of the book may also be purchased at the HCHS research library on the second floor of Miller library or through the HCHS website.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Columbia's most beautiful commute

      A while back I blogged on a proposed trail connection between Lake Kittamaqundi and the  Patuxent trail that goes down to Savage.  The project is in the 2014 Howard County budget but without any County funding to have feasibility work done on the project. CA is providing $50,000 for a feasibility study. While this is at least a tentative step to hopefully moving this trail forward the lack of funding still leaves the trail's future in doubt.  While the proposed trail would be used  mostly recreational it does provide a nice bike commuter route from Savage, Kings Contrivance and Owen Brown to the Town Center area.
    A couple of weeks ago I decided to walk the area of the proposed trail to get an idea of what a bike ride on the trail would look like.
The dirt road above was made when the a sewer line was built a couple of years ago.  This gas line construction made the trail feasible because it cleared the land on which a trail could be built.  A recreational benefit from the gas line construction.

Following the Patuxent River along the trail gives this type of scenery. 

This area of the possible trail shows how the river bank was reinforced to prevent flooding and bank erosion.
The view above sure beats the one most Columbia commuters see on their way to work.

   So why wasn't the trail funded in this year's capital budget?  Mostly from opposition from some Allview residents who feel that the trail will cut into their privacy as the trail goes behind their homes.  While the number of homes impacted in this way is small the community did present a petition to the County Council in opposition to this trail.  As you can see below some Allview residents have extended their lawns and even installed a basketball hoop onto the trail area that is owned by the County.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

From my yard to the Pacific Ocean

   The new stormwater tax has been controversial in some jurisdictions. This tax was passed in the last session of the Maryland Legislature to pay for the efforts to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay.  The Bay has been impacted by a number of factors but the one that has had the largest impact is simply the nutrients and pollutants that enter the Bay from all of our homes with each rainfall.  We have all seen the words painted on our storm drains that warn us that what goes in the drain ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. 
     Yesterday I blogged on how the rain garden in my yard had corrected the problem that I had with each rainfall.  Today I wanted to show how the sequence of environmental impacts of the large rainfall we had on Monday.  The pictures below follow that path.

Rain running off my lawn before my rain garden

From my yard the rain enters Lake Elkhorn and the soil it took along makes the lake brown in color.  This soil will settle to the bottom and require more lake dredging in the future.

 Unfortunately the rain not only carried soil from my yard but a wide range of plastic bottles and other trash along with it.  What we see is the trash that floats and not the trash that has already sunk to the bottom.

Debris and more trash made a mess of many parts of the path around the Lake.

 Water from Lake Elkhorn flows into the Patuxent River as it moves through the County.  This flooded area is in a wetland area below the lake.

The water from the Patuxent River eventually follows into the Chesapeake Bay.  Above you can see that the soil is also deposited along the shoreline.

Just as with Lake Elkhorn, trash flowing into the Bay ends up along the shoreline too.

    So where does this trash eventually end up.  The plastic trash that started flowing into Lake Elkhorn may very well end up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Ocean currents from around the world create a dumping ground in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that is as large as the state of Texas and known as the Great Pacific Garbage Dump.

   Something to think about when you pay your "rain tax."

Something any man will understand.