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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blog party at Seasons 52 tomorrow

 Tomorrow's blog party is a triple winner for me.  First,  I have always been a big promoter of these blog parties as a great way to meet folks into writing and reading blogs.  Blogs are such an interesting way to stay connected to our community.  Second, tonight's party is being hosted by the Howard County Library and its Choose Civility program.  As a board member of the Friends of the Library which is a sponsor of this program I would hope that more people would support our Library and its work.  Third, I have been thinking that I need to try the new Seasons 52 restaurant that has just recently opened.  Tomorrow's blog party helps me in all three ways.  Here is the info and registration for the party.

"Join us! As Howard County's Library System gears up for its annual Choose Civility Week and symposium, they're co-hosting the next HoCoBlogs party along with -- and at -- Seasons 52 in the new outdoor wing of the Mall in Columbia.

Come by! As always, there will be interesting people and great conversations; and Seasons 52 is being quite generous by offering beer and wine on the earlier side of the party, a variety of flatbreads (yum!) and chicken skewers. Make sure you save room for the minis, the scrumptious little desserts they serve. Weather permitting, we'll be outside in their adorable and spacious patio; weather not permitting, we'll be inside at one of their lush and cozy private rooms.

And tune in to the Choose Civility annual symposium. This year's theme is "The Ball's in Your Court: Can Civility and Sports Coexist?" The symposium is October 9th, 6:30-8:30 pm, held at the HCLS Miller Branch and free, of course. More info and register at"

    Next clue for Columbia Cash.

Money is by a tree near this area with the Harris Teeter container.  I didn't leave this container but some party litterbug did.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Columbia Cash returns

    This month's cash will be in Symphony Woods.  Right now Symphony Woods is only used sporadically during the year for special events like Wine in the Woods or the Symphony of Lights.

   With the new plans for the Inner Arbor this space will have increased opportunities for being a place for year around enjoyment by Columbia residents.  A little bit of Central Park for Columbians.

   This entrance to Symphony Woods is the one to use to find the cash.

 The cash is in the same container that was used last month and it is at bottom of a tree.  Tomorrow one more clue. Follow clues on Twitter with #hocomd and #columbiacash

   With the Orioles and Nationals both finishing at the top of their divisions could we look forward to a "Parkway World Series?"   Wouldn't that be something!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Caribbean Culture Fest at Miller Library Sunday

From CA:

Free, family friendly Caribbean Culture Fest on Sept. 28 at Miller Branch Library

Celebrate the cultures of the Caribbean at an afternoon of music, dance, displays and delicious Caribbean food sold from food trucks and vendors. Enjoy the rhythms of bachata, reggae, merengue, calypso, salsa and compas/konpa.

The Caribbean Culture Fest is a free, family-friendly event that is being held on Sunday, Sept. 28, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Miller Branch Library located at 9421 Frederick Road in Ellicott City. It will highlight the English-, Spanish-, French- and Dutch-speaking islands of the Caribbean. The event is being hosted by Columbia Association (CA), the Howard County Library System and The Build Haiti Foundation.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Breakfast at Whole Foods

     Somehow eating breakfast at a grocery store doesn't sound appealing but I have a different opinion after having breakfast at the new Columbia Whole Foods.  The two breakfasts that I have had at the vegetarian diner have been better than I expected.  Half the menu items are even vegan.  Above is the egg biscuit with cheese and Mandarin oranges.

      The vegan farmers breakfast above was amazing with sweet potato wedges and 7 grain toast.  Don't let the absence of meat turn you off from trying this place.  You won't be disappointed.  Their coffee and lattes are also good.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Columbia Association "slowing the flow"

      We have heard a great deal of storm water management related to the so called "rain tax."  The amount of lawn and farming fertilizer going to our streams, lakes and the Bay is an environmental problem.  Storm water pond management is one way to lessen the impact of fertilizers on the algae grown in our lakes and the Bay.  Above is a sign on how CA is working on one storm water pond in Long Reach.

   This storm water pond has vegetation to help filter the water of pollutants and create a water habitat for a variety of animals.

   The plant color added to this site is a pleasant visual for walkers on the path nearby.

    This is what we are trying to prevent.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Howard County Arts Council 2014 Sculptures


   Once again the Howard County Arts Council has placed new sculptures around Howard County. The picture above is of the new sculpture being assembled at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City. The list of site for the other sculptures from the Council is below:

ARTsites 2014
The Arts Council is pleased to announce that the sculptures and locations have been selected for ARTsites 2014. The following sculptures will be installed in May remain in place until July 15, 2015:

Aerial Delineation by Craig Kraft — George Howard Building, Howard County Government

Chapel Oak Vessel by Foon Sham — James and Anne Robinson Nature Center, Howard County Recreation & Parks

Happy Wanderers by Charlie Brouwer — Gary J. Arthur Community Center, Howard County Recreation & Parks

Triangle Tango by Bob Turan — North Laurel Community Center, Howard County Recreation & Parks

Prism Arc X by Carl Billingsley — East Columbia Branch, Howard County Library System

Sun to Moon Rotation 2 by Mary Angers — Central Branch, Howard County Library System

Blue Wedge by Carl Billingsley — Elkridge Branch, Howard County Library System

Wood's Revenge – Resawn by Stephen Klema — Corporate Office Properties Trust

Dancing Columns III by Steven Durow — COMING SOON to Aida Bistro, Corporate Office Properties Trust

Big Red by David Friedheim — The Arc of Howard County

Sunbeam by Cathrin Hoskinson — Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College

Tower Five by Jan Paul Acton — Wincopin Lakeside Building, Kincade, LLC
ARTsites 2014 brochures are available for pick-up at the Center for the Arts. A pdf version is available below:

ARTSites 2014 Brochure


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Money Magazine lists Columbia/Ellicott City as the 6th best place to live

        These rankings that come out from a variety of sources every year always show how subjective ranking communities can be.  This year Money Magazine just released its list of the top 50 and Columbia/Ellicott City ranks number 6.  Not bad but for a community that has been rated as high as number 2 in the past this might seem like some slippage.

      I am not sure why we always get ranked together although I can see where our boundaries are somewhat vague with parts of Columbia having an Ellicott City address.  This ranking is for small cities with populations between 50,000 and 300,000.  One thing that is hard to miss is that almost all the communities have high median family income and ours is one of the highest of the communities listed.

      Granted that the cost of living in our area is higher than in places like Texas and is reflected in our higher incomes.  We loose points for limited public transportation, nightlife and the high cost of housing.  A walkable downtown might also help us rise in these rankings.  But we have some of the best scenery and wildlife as seen the pictures in this blog.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Bike path around Lake Kittamaqundi almost complete

    The path around Lake Kittamaqundi it nearing completion.  The pictures above show the bridge that will cross the small stream at the far end of the Lake.

   The path will give us a closer view of the wildlife like the snowy crane that populate this end of the Lake.

Some morning shots of the Lake


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Skipping holidays

   Shopping at BJ's yesterday the Christmas items are out.  They go from "Back to School" to Christmas.  Aren't we missing some holidays in between?  I don't want to give up on the warm days still remaining to be reminded that cold, long nights and snow are just around the corner.  Somehow I always prefer to see Home Depot and Lowes putting out the Spring garden items at the end of February than the Christmas items in September.  Maybe Home Depot and Lowes can put out their garden items starting in December to gently remind us that we only have 3 more months of cold and snow.

Greek turkey burgers

      Always looking to try something different with turkey burgers this week I decided to try and use the ingredients of a gyro in a turkey burger.  Came out with a very good burger.  Here are the ingredients:

1 lb of ground turkey
1 half of a cucumber cut up into pieces
1 half onion cut into pieces
1 half cup of bread crumbs
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
Crumbed feta cheese to taste

Mix all ingredients together.  Makes 3 large burgers.

tzadziki sauce for topping
1 cut up tomato for topping
cut up lettuce instead of a burger bun


Friday, September 19, 2014

Roving Radish hits Howard County

     Recently Howard County has seen an effort to encourage residents to eat healthier by using the convienence of a new program called "The Roving Radish."  As their website states:

  "In Howard County, we want to make it easy for families to create fresh, healthful and inexpensive meals. That’s why we are launching The Roving Radish, a low-cost, fun meal delivery program. Starting this summer, The Roving Radish will deliver fresh food kits to convenient locations throughout the county. The program is easy: Sign up for meal deliveries, pick up your bag, and whip up affordable, healthy meals, using the recipes included in the kit. It’s as simple as that. Plus, it’s good for you, and tasty, too!"

    In its current form it is a pilot program designed to serve 125 healthy meals a week.  As time goes on it will expand to serve more families.  The target audience is low income families but anyone should be eligible in the future.  With funding from local funders like the Horizon Foundation and United Way in conjunction with Howard County Government this program provides 2 meals for a family of four for $24 or $10 for a low income family.   Each meal is no more than 750 calories with less than 30% from fat and no more than 1050 mg of sodium.  The pick up locations are:

The Bain Center
5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia, 21044
Tuesdays 12:00 – 1:30pm

Monarch Mills
7600 Monarch Mills Way, Columbia 21046
Tuesdays 3:30 – 5:00pm

Bridgeway Community Church
9189 Red Branch Road, Columbia, 21045
Tuesdays 6:30 – 8:00pm

North Laurel Community Center
9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, Laurel, 20723
Wednesdays 11:30 – 1:00pm

Y of Central Maryland
4331 Montgomery Road, Ellicott City, 21043
Wednesdays 7:30 – 9:00pm


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Howard County giving

       Last week the Baltimore Sun published an article that quoted a 2012 study published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy showing how Howard County ranked in its philanthropic giving.   As a county that is often recognized for being a great place to live with great schools, a nationally recognized library and a thriving economy we didn't come up as being very charitable.  According to the report:

"..... in 2012, Howard County rated 1,726 out of 3,115 counties in the nation for percentage of discretionary income donated to charities – only 4.3 percent. As a point of reference, Prince George's County rated sixth on the same list at 13.7 percent, despite having a median discretionary income of $31,895, which is less than half of Howard's median of $68,564."

".... the higher the median discretionary income within the county, the smaller the percentage people gave. For example, residents of North Laurel, who have a median discretionary income of $33,140, gave 10 percent to charity; while residents of Glenwood, who have a median discretionary income of $130,532, gave only 3.5 percent."

      This finding that the wealthier we become the less charitable we become has also been shown in a report by the Independent Sector.  This report also indicated that those attending a religious service weekly gave more than those who didn't.  This finding would seem to be the opposite of what you would expect.  The richer we become the more discretionary  income we have after meeting our basic needs.  Wouldn't this led us to becoming more charitable?  Apparently not.  Of course the large charitable contributions from wealthy individuals like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet give us the image of the very wealthy as being more charitable but apparently these individuals are the exception to the rule.
      With giving back in Howard County we have many ways to make charitable contributions.  We have a Community Foundation of Howard County, the United Way, Friends of the Howard County Library and the Women's Giving Circle just to mention a few.   So why aren't we more generous with our charitable giving?  Aren't we a progressive, engaged community?  Are we less sensitive to others needs as we become more financially secure?  Do we instill in our children the need to make charitable contributions to our community?  A couple of suggestions to increase our charitable contributions in a painless manner.  Most organizations have ways to have your contribution charged every month on your credit card in an automatic fashion.  Many employers provide their employees a payroll deduction method to contribute to United Way agencies.  How about setting up an automatic transfer from a checking account into a savings account every month that is used to make charitable contributions at the end of the year.  The options are there if you are willing.

NAMI Howard County, along with GRASSROOTS, has invited all of the candidates for Howard County’s Delegation to the General Assembly to share their plans on addressing mental health issues in the legislature.

Saturday, September 20th
Miller Branch Library
9421 Frederick Road
Ellicott City, MD

Call 410-772-9300 for more information


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Friends host event at Miller Library tonight


      I have blogged frequently on the amazing library we have in Howard County.  With the opening of the new libraries in Ellicott City and Savage in the recent past and the future new library in Elkridge we can be proud of having a world class library.   But it is important that we as a community support the library in its work here in Howard County.  The best way to do that is to become a Friend of the Howard County Library.
      Tonight, Tuesday Sept. 16th from 5-7 pm, at the Miller branch the Friends are hosting a social event, Music in the Enchanted Garden, where you can meet other Friends and enjoy and evening of music and refreshments.
     New members that join will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win two $50 gift certificates to local restaurants.

     Rain or shine:
In case of inclement weather, event will be held in the Ellicott Room
R.S.V.P to

Friends of Howard County Library System, The Wine Bin

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tale of two cities


     No I am not referring to the old blog that Dennis Lane did that referred to Ellicott City and Columbia (see P.S. below).  The cities to which I am referring are Washington (DC for locals) and Baltimore (Charm City).  Living in Columbia, between the two cities, we have a population that is probably evenly divided between residents who are oriented to one of these cities.  Because we are geographically a little closer to Baltimore than DC we get placed in the Baltimore Metropolitan area.    It is not unusual to have families in our area divided between their loyalties to either the Orioles or the Nationals.  Same with divided families between the Redskins and the Ravens.  I once saw a report that the split between Washington Post and Baltimore Sun readers in our County was fairly equal.  Personally moving to Columbia from the DC area I continued to watch the DC TV newscast and subscribed to the Washington Post.   But after living here for 5 or 6 years I started to gravitate to the Baltimore area channels and started a subscription to the Sun.  Both covered Howard County better than the DC news outlets.  I even (horror of horrors) gave up on following the post Joe Gibbs Redskins and started following the Ravens.  With the Ravens generally having a better team this transition was eased.   DC didn't have a baseball team at the time so following the Orioles (with Cal Ripken) was also an easy transition.
     So is Howard County more DC or more Baltimore?  If you look at the income and educational demographics we are a better fit for the DC Metropolitan area.  Our housing prices are probably more in line with housing prices in the DC area than the Baltimore area.   When you look at the housing price and sales trends for the Baltimore Metro area Howard County seems to always be an outlier.  When home sales are booming in Baltimore City they seem to be slow in Howard County.  Housing sales prices seem to also follow this trend.  That is why I always look at housing trends of the DC area to know what is likely to be happening in Howard County.
      Maybe it is because I lived in the DC area before the move to Howard County but I still find myself attracted to restaurants and activity locations more the DC direction than in the Baltimore direction when I go out of Howard County.   Baltimore will always have a problem in comparison to attractions of the National Capitol.  When we have out of town guests they never seem to want to see the attractions of Baltimore even though I tell them about the great Aquarium and Science Center.   I do wish that Harborplace didn't seem to be in need of a major reworking.  Where would Baltimore be without the Rouse Company built Harborplace the past 30 years?  Somehow the new attraction of a casino in Baltimore doesn't do for me or the city what Harborplace did.
      For all these reasons I feel that Howard County needs to be included in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area rather than in Baltimore's Metropolitan Area.  Geographical closeness does't do a very good job of defining Howard County.  It is better to know the trends and living styles of DC than Baltimore in defining Howard County.

     The title of today's post being the name of Dennis Lane's blog made me go back to read some of his old blog posts.  The last ones of the demise of the LL Bean store at the Mall and the "rain tax" seem like news from ages ago.  Amazingly I still get readers of my blog from the link on Dennis' blog.  Dennis' perspective on local happenings will always be missed.

   Recently Jon Stewart of the Daily Show suggested this as a way to address our border problem with Mexico.  His suggestion was to "dress up our border guards as Canadian Mounties and then when the illegal immigrants saw them they would turn around thinking they had gone too far."   Maybe worth a try.


     Baltimore this past week had it national exposure with the nationally televised Ravens game, the Blue Angels here for the Star Spangled Spectacular and finally the nationally televised Oriole game.  Too bad the Ray Rice and Chris Davis stories happened last week too.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Brick oven pizza at home

      As someone who has always loved brick oven pizza but could never see myself building a brick oven in my backyard I have found a way to easily get a close approximation of the heat of a brick oven.  

You can buy unglazed terra cotta pot holders at fit nicely over a pizza brick.

   They should be separated by just enough space to accommodate the pizza stone and pizza.

 This creates the heat that gives pizza a brick oven texture.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Google Glass vs. Apple IWatch

    For just some perspective on the new efforts from Google and Apple to define portability in the digital age I thought I would go back to the mid 1970's version of this effort.

 I had just purchased a Radio Shack Color Computer , pictured above, for over $500 and hooked it up to a portable TV to begin my computer experience.   I had to pay the additional $200 to get 32K memory on the hard drive from the standard 16K memory. You had to program any software you wanted to run on this computer and save the program to a tape recorder tape.  Portability was still a long way off.  I happened to hear about a vendor in a local office building that was selling a "portable" computer called an Osborne.

     The Osborne, shown above, folded up like a suitcase and was about 24 pounds with 64K hard drive, a small 5 inch green screen and sold for just under $2,000.  I went over to look at it out of curiosity with no real intent to spend that much money on a computer.   Little did we realize that someday we could carry a computer with us in our pocket with a smart phone.

     Fast forward to 2014 and we now see how far portability in computing has come with Google Glass and this week with the Apple IWatch.  The old idea from Dick Tracy of a wrist watch for just talking is so out of date with our digital world.  So how do you use something so small?  At what point does making something smaller make it too difficult to use with your hand and fingers.The Google Glass operates with a voice command system and the IWatch  tries to address this issue through innovative design.  What we are probably looking at is a move away from interfacing with computer technology that was invented during the time of desktop computing.  The smaller products will continue to interface with the users in ways that will create new ways to access and interface with the hardware.  This transition is not dissimilar to when we transitioned from sitting down at a desk to use a computer to carrying our computer in our pocket.  Ultimately the success of the IWatch might depend on what apps are created with the IWatch in mind that makes the IWatch a useful tool to process.  Look for all types of exercise apps developed for the IWatch. I wouldn't be surprised to see runners and other athletes to use the IWatch in place of the existing cardio rate monitors.  Remember when the IPhone was launched no one really knew that apps were going to be what made this a product everyone wanted.  Making phone calls is only the third most use of the IPhone after apps and texting.
     Possibly the most far reaching new innovation to come out with the new IWatch is the IPay system that Apple has developed.  For right now the information on your purchases made with IPay can be sold to marketers and open a new revenue source for Apple similar to what has powered Google's revenue. But a future revenue source may even be more profitable.  Companies that send you a monthly bills have been looking at how they can get you to use technology to give you the opportunity to charge your purchases on their billing systems.  They would like to take the credit card business away from the banks.  Verizon has looked at the use of smart phones to make our purchases which would show up on our Verizon bills.  This would allow them to charge interest on bills not paid in full.  Interest on unpaid bills is where the money is.  Is IPay just another way for Apple to get into the business of making money on charging interest?  It is not hard to image a time in the not too distant future for the end of the credit card business as we know it now.  The credit card business has too much potential profit for other businesses not to look at how new technology gives them an opportunity to tap into some of this profit.  This would be a real game changer for banks who have long relied on interest on credit cards to be a huge profit center.  I don't feel sorry for the future of banks as they seem very capable of coming up with new profit centers.  The only real threat for banks that I see is to the bank buildings as banking is moving to being online businesses.  Going into a bank and interacting with a real person is something that may go the way of the old bank passbook.

    Ken Burns and PBS have teamed up again for a documentary.  The Roosevelts starts this weekend.  TV worth watching.

    As a coincidence next week I start a free online course on the Constitution that is being taught by Teddy Roosevelt's great, great grandson.  I may blog on this in the future.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tell Howard County Government app

     Remember when in the 1980's William Donald Schaefer was Mayor of Baltimore and he would ride around Baltimore and would see a problem that needed to be addressed by someone from his City government?  He would place a call on an early cell phone and the problem was usually fixed immediately.  Woe to the City office that didn't follow up quickly to a "mayor-observed" problem.  Fast forward to 2014 and now Howard County Government responsiveness and digital technology come together with a new "Tell it to Howard County Government" app.   Tell it to the government online at this link.  To download the smartphone app search for "tell hoco" in the Google Play store for Android phones and the app store for iphones.

     Maybe an app like this would be a good idea for the Columbia Association to develop for issues on CA land and paths.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Domestic violence in Howard County

     The issue of domestic violence has received attention from the Ray Rice incident this week like it has never known before.  One videotape has shown graphically what is usually only seen behind closed doors.  It is hard to find a family which doesn't have some experience with domestic violence.  Domestic violence not only impacts adults but also children and even pets.  As a former foster parent I have seen directly the damage that domestic violence has caused to children here in Howard County.
      We are fortunate to have a resource in Howard County that works to address the issue with Howard County families.  The Hope Works of Howard County (formerly the Domestic Violence Center) "supports and advocates for survivors of sexual and domestic violence, but is also at the forefront of creating lasting change."  One positive way to express your outrage at the Ray Rice incident and support families here in Howard County might be to make a donation to this local organization on their webpage

   I would also like to highlight another Howard County organization that is worthy of your donation. The National Family Resiliency Center.  The Center describes their mission as:  

     "The National Family Resiliency Center, Inc. has one special goal—fostering healthy relationships in all families regardless of composition. Through individual, couple, family, parent, co-parent, pre-marital, marital, separation and blended family counseling.

      Regardless of family composition, all families experience challenges that are related to children’s developmental stages and changing needs, and parents’ challenges at work and in personal relationships. We develop a customized approach for each individual and family based on the client’s goals and needs.

     The National Family Resiliency Center, Inc. (formerly Children of Separation and Divorce Center) guides and supports children during family transitions so that they emerge healthy and hopeful for the future. Since our founding in 1983, we have done this by helping more than 28,000 individuals and families resolve conflict, co-parent, and make child-focused decisions before, during, and after the dissolution of their marriage."

     The Center is hosting their "10th annual 5 For Families 5K Race, 1 Mile Walk and, Family Fun Day. The event will commence at 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 20th at Lakefront, directly across from Columbia Mall near Clyde’s Restaurant and the newly opened Petit Louis. All ages are invited to participate with awards and trophies given out to winners in various age categories.

       In addition to the 5K race and 1K walk, the 5 For Families Fun Day event will include face painting, games and other activities geared toward children and families including entertainment by: B.Funk Dance Company; Drama Learning Center (Frozen sing-along and mermaid interactive dance party); Mike John, the juggler, balloon sculptor and strolling minstrel; as well as Kangaroo Kids, the precision jump rope team. Chances for Luxury Suite Ravens tickets valued at $2000 will be available for raffle and winner announced mid morning. The 5 For Families event will be begin promptly at 8:00 AM and continue through noon.

     For over 30 years, NFRC has committed to helping children and adults preserve a sense of family, foster healthy relationships, and adjust constructively to change, especially during times of separation, divorce and other family transitions. The proceeds from the event will support NFRC’s sliding fee therapy programs. NFRC has provided more than $90,000 in free counseling services to families in the community in recent years thanks to community supporters.

NFRC would like to welcome those interested in volunteering for our 5 For Families event to email us at You can also support NFRC by joining our Facebook Event Page and inviting anyone who may be interested."

For more information about the schedule of events and registering for the 5K race or 1K walk, please visit:

   From Mary Kay Sigaty:
"The HC Food Bank is in need of donations. Can you help today by dropping off any of the following items: cereal, tuna, pasta, pasta sauce, beans, canned fruit, rice, peanut butter or canned vegetables? The Food Bank is open 9 AM - 4 PM weekdays and is located at 8920 Rte 108, Columbia! With your help, 23,000 won't go hungry."

    Guess M&T Bank is playing it safe after having Ray Rice on their advertising in the past.  Now they are feeling that it is unsafe having any player representing them and are going with the coach and front office personnel.  "Play like a Raven" suddenly takes on a whole new meaning after just one incidence of domestic violence.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bike About

   This weekend much of the attention in our area will be on Baltimore and its Star Spangled Celebration but here in Columbia Saturday's Columbia Archives Bike About will be taking place.  Here is the information on this year's event and a place to register for the ride:

Columbia BikeAbout is Saturday,
September 13, 2014

"Start location: Wilde Lake Park
Start time: riders start between 9:30am and 10:00am
End time: riders must finish the course by 1pm
Course length: about 12 miles

    Parking: Parking will be tight so please ride your bike from home to the check-in tables. Parking is available at the small parking lot near Wilde Lake Barn (Hyla Brook Road); Running Brook Elementary School; Running Brook Neighborhood center (5730 Columbia Road)

   Registration: Online registration is open through Thursday, September 11, 2014. After that you can register the morning of the BikeAbout at Wilde Lake Park.

   Mark your calendars and join Columbia Association’s (CA) Columbia Archives for the fun and informative annual Columbia BikeAbout, which will be held on Saturday, September 13.

   This year’s free, family-friendly ride will begin at 9:30 a.m. at a new location — Wilde Lake Park. Riders will be able to start up until 10 a.m. and are expected to complete the ride by 1 p.m. They will embark on a 12-mile route that winds through the villages of Wilde Lake, Harper’s Choice and Hickory Ridge. The route takes them into the neighborhood that James Rouse, Columbia’s founder, called home, and then brings them along the stream that feeds Wilde Lake, and then into the Middle Patuxent Valley.

   Columbia BikeAbout highlights the history of Columbia, as well as the extensive pathway system and open space that contribute to Columbia’s high quality of life. This year’s features during the ride include fun facts about Rouse, a look at some of CA’s newest improvement projects, and a closer look at the future of Symphony Woods.

   The end of the ride will bring a special treat: an old-fashioned picnic hosted at Wilde Lake Park by the Wilde Lake Community Association and CA. Riders will be able to purchase refreshments from a variety of food trucks and enjoy free entertainment. Click here for more information about the Wilde Lake Old-Fashioned Family Picnic."

   Blog party at Nottingham's tonight (Sept 9)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Planning the new Elkridge Library

    Today our community has a chance to provide input on the planning for the new Elkridge Library.   We recently had a chance to see the new wonderful re-opening of the library in Savage.   Elkridge is the next community in Howard Country to get an upgrade in its library facilities with a new branch.  Come out today at one of the presentations to hear the new plans.  Here is your invitation from the Library:

   "Exciting times are on the horizon for Elkridge! Join HCLS and Grimm + Parker Architects for one of two "dream" sessions focusing on the new HCLS Elkridge Branch. During these community conversations, we will begin the process of envisioning a 21st century education center that delivers an extraordinary curriculum to the Elkridge community and beyond."
Monday, Sep 8
1 - 3 pm

Monday, Sep 8
7 - 9 pm

     Join bloggers and blog readers at Nottingham's tomorrow (Sept. 9th).


Saturday, September 6, 2014

The tarnished NFL image

    For most NFL fans tomorrow's opening season games comes amid a number of controversies that cloud the image of the NFL.  For Raven fans the controversy over Ray Rice's penalty not showing sensitivity to the problem of domestic abuse has caused the Commissioner to implement a more severe penalty for domestic abuse.   Ray Rice was one of our community's "good guys."  I was a Facebook friend of his because of his involvement in Howard County and especially his involvement with the anti-bullying campaign.  Ray has had to keep his head down and try to get back in the good graces of the Baltimore community.
     As troubling as the controversy around Ray Rice has been the toll that concussions, injuries to retired players,  performance enhancing drugs  and gun violence may have an even more pronounced impact on how the game is viewed.  Just at a time when the NFL has been trying to market its product to women these controversies couldn't have come at a worse time.  When you turn off women you have a major image problem.  It is becoming more common to hear mothers saying they won't let their sons play football.
     We have always known that football had a certain level of violence and that was one reason why it has become such a popular sport.  Do you know anyone that has a fantasy baseball team?  Football is our gladiator sport.  They may not die quickly as was the case with Roman gladiators but the price pro football player pay is substantial.  Much of the price is paid out of our view.  The image below is of the hand of Chuck Bednarik who played for the Philadelphia Eagles.

     So with all the hype of the start of a new Raven's season tomorrow I plan to take a hike in DC and skip the game.  And the Orioles give us something amazing to watch this year even though baseball has some image problems too.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mission BBQ

   I finally got around to trying the new Mission BBQ in the Target shopping center (Columbia Crossing officially).  I have been disappointed in some of our local BBQ places in their pulled pork offering.  Often they have too much fat and grizzle for my taste.  I have held out until I could get to Red, Hot and Blue in Laurel because they have good pulled pork and the best baby back ribs in my opinion.

      The pulled pork at Mission BBQ might make it my first choice now and much closer than Laurel.  The hand cut fries were seasoned well and the sauce selections offered a wide range of choices from spicy to mild to vinegary.    It was so good I went back for another order one day later.

    Sorry for the poor photo of the meal.  Lighting made the food look yellow.  It looked much better in person.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Columbia not as "Friendly"?

    A  trip to Rehoboth Beach presented an opportunity to become reacquainted with a restaurant that is a distant Columbia memory.  That restaurant was Friendly's.  We used to have two Friendly's in Columbia.  One in Dobbin Center and one in Kings Contrivance.  While the food at Friendly's was always just fair (and the service was always slow) it was always the first choice when we asked our kids where they wanted to go to eat.  Probably something about those ice cream desserts that made any meal better.  The Dobbin Center Friendly's seemed to have the same waitress there when we went and she got to know the names of each of our kids and could probably guess what each of our kids was going to order.
      With the closing of the two Friendly's and our kids growing up those Friendly's meals became just one of those distant memories that spoke of our past hectic life with frequent doctor visits, school meetings, attending dance recitals and kid's sports events.  I remember longing for the days when a meal at a restaurant had a real waiter and multiple courses.  But now that our lives are more leisurely and more focused on adult recreational activities the visit to Friendly's had us talking about many of our memories of our children growing up.  I couldn't help but look fondly at a young family in a booth near ours.  I wanted to go over and tell them to appreciate their Friendly moments as they past too quickly.   But then I realized that only makes sense years down the road.
      So the question I am posing is in the title of this blog.  Is Columbia less "kid friendly" then it was in its earlier years when there were more young families? Where do young families hang out in Columbia today?  I know that it is nice to have a Wegmans and Whole Foods and restaurants like the Highland Inn but have they replaced venues that were designed with young families in mind?  Even our local Red Robin was redesigned to have a more adult setting to entice more adult drinkers after work.  I know our community demographics are skewing more mature but I would hate to see us turn into a Tampa or St. Petersburg where the big dinner crowd starts lining up for the buffets at 4 pm.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cycle 2 Health does the Torrey Brown Trail

     The Cycle 2 Health group did their second out of county ride last week on the Torrey Brown Trail (formerly the North Central Trail) in Baltimore County.

     This converted railroad trail is very shaded which makes it a great place for a ride on a warm day.

     The trail has a few places for stopping for water and restrooms.  There is even one place for a light lunch.

   Last week the group decided to try out the Silver Spring Mining Company restaurant just a short distance from the trail in Cockeysville.  

    One or two more out of county rides are hopefully to be done before the end of the biking season in November.  For information on the Cycle 2 Heath program click here.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Creating a positive out of casino gambling


     So this last week saw the opening of the new casino in Baltimore.  The Horseshoe Casino is just the latest entry into the becoming crowded gaming industry in Maryland. In two years we can look forward to the new casino at National Harbor in P.G County.  It is hard to remember how just a few years ago there was considerable opposition to casinos in Maryland.  Remember the opposition of Mayor O'Malley to casinos?  Now that Maryland seems to be trying to squeeze every dollar it can out of casino gambling the question remains about whether Maryland is better off with the expansion of casino gambling.  Sure the Mayor of Baltimore and many state legislators are anxious to have the tax revenue that casinos (and the lottery) generate for local jurisdictions and the state coffers but is there a clear benefit to the state to balance out the negative social issues that are caused by gambling addictions?
      I have always had reservations about the state generating needed revenue by providing gambling opportunities.   Can you tell me the social benefit that has been provided by the gambling revenue in Maryland?  It seems to be used primarily to balancing the Maryland budget.  I know that this may seem to be a fiscal benefit that may lower the need to other forms of tax revenue.  I could be more neutral on this increasing gambling industry if it was clearly going to a greater social good like providing college scholarships to any student going to a state college in Maryland.  A number of states have just such an arrangement.   The one of which I am the most familiar is the Georgia Hope Scholarship program.   This program has provided over 6 billion dollars to 1.5 million Georgia college students attending Georgia colleges.  Residency requirements are fairly liberal with a graduating high school student only needing to have lived in Georgia for one year and a non Georgia high school graduate having a two year residency requirement.  For many Georgia college students this means they can graduate from college debt free.  While we brag about the University of Maryland having had a low rate of increase in college tuition the past few years we still have Maryland students graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. Granted some of the gambling revenue may have been directed to colleges in Maryland but maybe it is time to look at gambling revenue going more directly into college scholarships.

      The question for estimating revenue coming into state coffers from gambling is how much the new casinos will just cannibalize the gambling dollars from the Maryland Lottery or the older casinos in the state.  It is not hard to imagine a day with the only surviving casinos in Maryland are Maryland Live, the Horseshoe and the future casino at National Harbor.  Just look at how casino competition is impacting Atlantic City.  Becoming addicted to gambling revenue can be as troubling to states as it is to individuals addicted to gambling.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Columbia cash found

   The cash was on the backside of this large white oak tree that is the largest white oak in Howard County and the second largest in Maryland.  It is estimated to be about 300 years old and over 100 feet tall.

On the side away from the path is this large cavity where the cash was located.

Congratulations to Cory Andrews who found it and plans to donate it to the ALS Foundation.  

     Hope folks enjoyed the activity.   I plan on doing it again at the beginning of October at another location in Columbia.

   Remember that trash and recycling is sliding one day this week.