Search This Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Glowing roads are here!

    Have you ever wondered if there was a way for our paths and roads to provide their own lighting and not need lighting from above.

 An article in the Scientific America has an interesting possibility down the road.  Now there is research to find materials to put in asphalt to melt snow on contact.

An artist's conception of engineer Scott Bursaw's proposed solar roadway, which would resist ice and snow.

Maybe solar can be the answer.  Think how county budgets could no longer have to put in contingency funds for road clearing.  And road crews wouldn't have to put in overtime.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2 hours of incredible TV


      Once in awhile I highlight a television documentary that is so powerful that I have to share it.  Today is one of those blog post suggestions.  Don't be turned off by having to watch something for almost 2 hours.
      The PBS Frontline program this week had a documentary on the migration from war torn areas like Syria and Africa to Europe. We have been watching the migration this year on the news many nights.  What Frontline did was show the human side to this news story in the most powerful way.  After watching this show it is hard not to feel that our Country's fear rhetoric about terrorists being smuggled into our Country when we accept immigrants from these countries is a travesty.   "Extreme vetting" proposed by some seems to be just another way to ignore our need to reach out to desperate people.
      Watch this program hear and make up your own mind.  Trust me this show will impact you.

    If after watching this you would want to donate to help these refugees here is a link.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Howard County a "Sanctuary County?"


    Recently Howard County Councilpersons Ball and Terrasa introduced legislation designating Howard County as a "sanctuary county."  So what does that really mean?  A sanctuary community is one that has policies or laws that limit the extent to which law enforcement and other government employees will go to assist the federal government on immigration matters.  With the new Trump administration this question and movement should accelerate around the United States in liberal political areas like Howard County.  How much this impacts the enforcement of immigration laws is subject to legitimate debate.  In some way designating a community as a sanctuary is a symbolic statement about the community's values.  Here is link to legislation.  For those of us disappointed with the results of the November election and wondering how we can respond to the direction the new administration may take on immigration the designation of our County as a sanctuary is one direct way to respond.  Even if it is symbolic it is another way to commit our County to the values that make Howard County a progressive and welcoming place to live.

    Here is the schedule for the legislation:

1) Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 7pm: Legislative Session
Bill is publicly introduced

2) Tuesday, January 17 at 7pm: Legislative Public Hearing
Hearing for testimony from the public

3) Monday, January 23 at 4:30pm (CVG Room): Work Session *Tentative

4) Monday, February 6, 2017 at 7pm: Legislative Session
The Council will vote on the Bill

      I know those opposed to the sanctuary movement suggest that it is a way for immigrants who have committed crimes to prey on communities but let's look at the reality and not the rhetoric.  Here is the reality:

    "According to an original analysis of data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the authors of this report, roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born. This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses. In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants."
    "The 2010 Census data reveals that incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population are significantly lower than the incarceration rate among native-born young men without a high-school diploma. In 2010, less-educated native-born men age 18-39 had an incarceration rate of 10.7 percent—more than triple the 2.8 percent rate among foreign-born Mexican men, and five times greater than the 1.7 percent rate among foreign-born Salvadoran and Guatemalan men."


Monday, December 26, 2016

One Howard

     "One Howard" is an effort to bring together residents of Howard County to celebrate our diversity and to work together to create the harmony of any welcoming community.

     The first meeting in organizing this effort was held a couple of weeks ago at the Bain Center.  You can watch a video of that meeting on You Tube.  Howard County is a special place to live.  This effort is another example of what makes us special.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Mixed Holiday feelings


     I have probably blogged on this before (I am too lazy to do a blog search!) but every December I enjoy the holiday music, food, parties, decorations and movies.   But the part about which I have mixed feelings is all the commercialization.  It starts with Black Friday (or before!) and continues with all the appeals from store ads for all the merchandise that will be purchased and then forgotten or broken in a couple of months.  I am reminded of this especially today trying to travel on Route 175.  It seems every car in our area is on Route 175 today going shopping for last minute purchases.
     I don't get many comments to my blog posts but I would be interested in getting some comments about this question.  "Would you enjoy the holidays less if there was no gift giving and just focused on everything else about the holidays?"

    I really don't like leaving a "scrooge-like" impression about my feelings about the holidays and I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoy how excited kids are to get presents.  I guess my mixed feelings are more directed at adults.

    I do like this tradition.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Luna Bella to close December 31st

    Not living in Hickory Ridge the only time I would visit the Hickory Ridge Village Center was to go to Luna Bella.  Their wood fired pizza was great.  Local non chain restaurants are special and it is Columbia's loss when a good locally owned restaurant like Luna Bella closes.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

How to get tickets to the Smithsonian African American Museum


   I know that many people wanting to see the new National Museum of African American History and Culture have been unable to get tickets.  You now maybe able to get tickets for April and May starting on January 4th.  Here is the information they sent to me:

"The National Museum of African American History and Culture is honored to have welcomed more than 600,000 visitors since opening. As our gracious patrons, we want to notify you of some new information about timed passes and visiting the museum in the coming months.
NEW options for visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture starting December 19:

• The museum will discontinue distributing same-day, in-person passes at 9:15 daily. However, same-day, timed passes will be available online through the museum’s website,, starting at 6:30 am daily.

• A limited number of walk-up passes will be available starting at 1 pm Monday through Friday. However, no walk-up passes will be available on Saturdays or Sundays due to high visitation.

• Non-commercial group visits of 10 or more, including student groups, will now be available for scheduling up to one year in advance by visiting

NEW schedule for April and May 2017 passes:

1. On January 4th, Advance timed passes for April 2017 will be available online starting at 9 am by visiting or by calling 866-297-4020.

2. On February 1st, Advance timed passes for May 2017 will be available starting at 9 am by visiting or by calling 866-297-4020. "

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Time of the year for Columbia's Stonehenge experience

    Every year as we approach the Winter Solstice the sun reflects off this office building on Brokenland Parkway in Owen Brown.  You can see it as you walk around Lake Elkhorn.  It looks like the building is on fire.  The reflection starts about 10 to 15 minutes after sunrise and lasts for another 15 minutes.  Check it out on a clear morning.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Presidential Electoral College result if awarded proportionally

    With yesterday's elector votes in each state we are once again impacted by a compromise in the Constitutional Convention that gave us our antiquated system for electing a president.  While we changed the election of United States senators to a popular vote in 1913 we still have not been able to reform the way we select our president.  It seems to be the only election held in the US that isn't by popular vote.  
     As Democrats we realize that the system will not change as a constitutional amendment would never get the necessary votes in Congress or the required states.  The present system gives small states a disproportionate power in selecting the president and they aren't about to change that.  Additionally, as many of the small population states are Republican they will never favor a change from the electoral college.
    The problem of the electoral college system is that it awards all of a state's electors in a winner take all basis except in two states.  With Democrats congregating in fewer states we may be in for more elections like 2016 with large majorities in states like California and New York being meaningless in the electoral college. Guess what the result would have been is the electors would have been selected proportionally with just the two major candidates awarded electors?
  Clinton 271
  Trump  267

   Of course in a proportional system with minor candidates getting electors in some states more elections might get thrown into the House of Representatives which is probably worse than our present system.  We will all live with the compromise of the 1787 for many more years.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Howard County snow tracker

     This weekend's ice storm gave us our first taste of the upcoming Winter.  Howard County has been fortunate to have a "plow tracker" to see where the County plows have been.  Last year the tracker was shut down because it still needed some work.  This year the tracker looks like it has been improved and can help us know when we will get our streets plowed.   For those of us on cul de sacs we know we should be last to get plowed.   The road crews from both the State and County do a great job in clearing our streets and they were heroes during last years monster storms.  To learn more about the plow tracker here is a video.


Friday, December 16, 2016

French toast to go?

   I have blogged before on French toast.  It is one of my favorite breakfast choices.  I came across this quick version which is a quick way to take the choice in a hurry.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Losses in the Howard County blogging community

      Life changes for bloggers and this leads to blogs coming and going.  We lost Dennis Lane and Tale of Two Cities tragically and life seems to have moved on for Tom Coale and HoCo Rising.  For most blogs the impact of any blog becoming inactive is probably minimal.  But the impact of one blog that has become inactive is significant.  That blog is the food blog called HowChow. This blog had to be the most viewed blog in our County as it was the "go to" source for our food and restaurant choices in Howard County.  Since the first of this year it has stopped posting our choices.  As I said life changes and every blogger has a right to go inactive.  What I have wondered this past year is when someone would pick up the mantle of HowChow and become the new food blogger for Howard County.  I know this is a serious mantle to pick up as HowChow was so well written that all of us maybe intimidated to try to fill this void.
    I used to frequently do my Friday blogs on food and restaurants.  I have an example of that type of blog for this Friday but I don't see myself becoming a serious food blogger because my blogging interest are so broad on so many topics.  I can't see myself ever becoming a "single issue" blogger.  My only hope is that someone out there will make the commitment to pick up the HowChow mantle soon.

     I know there are a few other bloggers that do food blogs and feel free to mention some in the comment section.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Time for patience is now over

     When the minority President was elected a month ago the message from the defeated side was "Let's give the new administration time to see what happens."  Quite a different message than the one the day after President Obama was sworn in in 2009. Well with the new proposed appointments we now know what will happen to many of the things progressives have pushed during the past 8 years.   The picture above is what came to my mind when I heard of Trump's proposed nominee for EPA chief.   As a climate change denier Scott Pruitt is like letting the fox into the chicken coop.   The climate change deniers are taking a page from the tobacco industry when they tried to discredit the medical information on cigarettes.
    We may be already unable to reverse the damage that the burning of fossil fuels has caused to the climate of our one and only home planet.  The short term self interest of those in the fossil fuel industry shouldn't be allowed to leave a jeopardized planet for our children and grandchildren.

     The Koch Industries funded lobbyist is heading the Trump transition team for the Energy Department.  Not surprisingly the transition team has asked the Energy Department to list employees and contractors who have attended climate change conferences.  Does this sound like the development of an "enemies list?"

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Canadians are a tougher breed

   Check out how Canadians do winter sports.  If they host the next winter Olympics look for them to suggest this as a new winter event.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

PFlag's holiday potluck December 13th

   I received the following information from PFlag about their Holiday Party next week: 

"Please join us at our  December meeting for our
Annual Holiday Potluck Dinner Party !"

Tuesday, December 13, 2016, from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
at Owen Brown Interfaith Center
7246 Cradlerock Way,  Columbia, MD 21045

We’ll be treated to a holiday musical performance
by the New Wave Singers.

Please join us,  bring a dish to share
and  be prepared to relax & enjoy!!

If you can , please bring a donation for homeless families at Grassroots Shelter 
so they can enjoy the holiday.
Grassroots has given us the following suggestions for donations:

Must be a new item
Gift cards from Target, Walmart, Giant, Safeway, Sunoco, Exxon, BP, Shell, AMC Theaters are welcomed
Gifts for ages 12 & over in the Shelter might include:
 Sweaters, flannel pajama bottoms (keep store tags on them), sweats (small, M, L, XL), Sports Team Items, hand-held video games under $20, Footballs & basketballs.
Games, DVD’s, watches & wallets, robes & slippers, CD’s


Friday, December 9, 2016

Howard County Bike Master Plan

    For anyone who wants to have more bike friendly paths in our County should be encouraged by a recent action the County to move ahead in this direction.  Here is the information from the Bicycle Advocates of Howard County:
"It took Bicycle Advocates of Howard County 8 years of lobbying and 4 years of effort to get a Bicycle Master Plan signed by the County Executive and approved by County Council in April this year. Now comes the hard part – we need to get the projects funded and built. Bicycle Advocates of Howard County will be testifying at the County Executive initial budget hearing for FY 2018 in 2 weeks to get this process started
Right now we have scattered short bike paths that don’t connect to much.  It’s hard and sometimes unsafe to go on a bike ride or bike your kid to school or bike to work.  A coalition of groups led by the Bicycle Advocates of Howard County and the Horizon Foundation is asking County Executive Kittleman for a near-term investment in 50 miles of connected bike routes (including 9 miles of paths pedestrians could use too) called “The Bikeway”  The Bikeway would provide a continuous bike route that would run from Ellicott City to Laurel and from Clarksville to Elkridge.   It’s good for health, the environment, and business! (see details about those benefits here).
The routes come from the Bicycle Master Plan (with the exception of some short connectors).  The Bikeway provide a great north-south and east-west axis foundation from which we can continue building the entire plan.  It’s within one mile of 56% of county residents, and we can build it with $3 million in bond funding for 3 years. This is what we’ll be asking for in the FY 2018 budget.
If you want to support this effort please tell County Leaders by filling out this online form:"


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Green Turtle's Tips for Tops program for Toys for Tots on Wednesday Dec. 7th

     Last night's blog party at the Green Turtle was one of the best blog parties I have been to.  The food was great and the company was delightful. 

    The Green Turtle sponsors a Tips for Tots every year to support the Toys for Tots program.  Today Wednesday December 7th are accepting unwrapped toys to donate to the program and 100% of tips today will go to Toys for Tots.  If you are looking for a good place for lunch or dinner today the Green Turtle is the place to go for good food and to make a donation to a great program.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

And you thought our weather has been bad!

    Do you know that meteorological Winter began on December 1 and runs through till March 1st.  Somehow this scheduling seems more logical to me than the start date for Winter being December 21st with the Winter solstice.  Just to remind you what the next 3 months may hold here is a video from Montreal.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Blog party at the Green Turtle Tuesday

     Tomorrow evening, Tuesday Dec. 6th, is the next blog party at the Green Turtle on McGaw Road in Columbia.   The Green Turtle restaurant chain has been of supporter of Toys for Tots for a number of years.  This event is a great way to support a good organization and meet with bloggers and blog readers.  You always meet interesting people at a blog party.  Here is the info on the event from HoCo Blogs:

"You've heard of Toys for Tots, right? But have you heard of Tips for Tots?

Tips for Tots is an annual tradition The Greene Turtle staff have held for a number of years where on one day, the staff donate 100% of their tips to Toys for Tots. Last year, across The Green Turtle restaurants, over $60,000 was raised. The goal this year is $90,000.

Come out on December 6th for our next HoCoBlogs and TotallyHoco party, 5-7 p.m. at The Greene Turtle. We'll have, as a thank you for your help and social media support in sharing news of the December 7th Tips for Tots event, light fare and a buffet provided by the restaurant. Each attendee will get a free drink ticket, too.

And if you bring an unwrapped toy for a child, you'll get a second drink ticket to use that night.

Even if you can't attend, will you kindly take a few minutes right now and retweet this tweet, or write your own to promote the event.

There may be a few bloggers from nearby communities and cities, so this is a great opportunity for some holiday cheer, mingling and reaching beyond our own county zone.

RSVP here.

So, please remember ...
Our event is December 6th (food, drink, opportunity to bring an unwrapped toy for a kid)
The Tips for Tots event is December 7th. You can come to that, too, of course. Your help to spread the news locally is much appreciated.
An unwrapped toy will get you a second drink ticket.

See you on the 6th!"

    Toys for Tots has always been an organization I have supported since this organization provided toys for an organization I ran in Baltimore called "Baltimore Grandfamilies."   I remember each November and December as a busy time collecting information from grandfamilies on toy requests and then getting volunteers with vans to go to the Toys for Tots warehouse to collect the toys to distribute. The toys were in bins by age and gender.  While we couldn't guarantee that we would find the exact toys requested by any child it was always a challenge to search for the specified toys requested.
   Volunteers then distributed the toys to over 100 grandfamilies throughout Baltimore during the week before Christmas.  A lot of fun memories. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

One Howard forum today at the Bain Center from 2-4 pm

   Kittleman announces #OneHoward initiative, community forum to promote diversity, inclusiveness in County

     "One Howard" is an effort to bring together Howard County residents to celebrate the diversity of our County.  Certainly this is a timely topic for discussion today with the developing diversity of our Country and our County.  Howard County has greatly benefited from the diversity that was built into the plan for Columbia.  That diversity has spread countywide and is shown in our unofficial County motto of "Chose Civility."  If you would like to learn more about this effort check out their Facebook page or register for today's forum at the Bain Center.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Ellicott City's 2016 Midnight Madness tonight

    Tonight is an especially big night for many of the merchants who were impacted by this year's flood.  The 2016 Midnight Madness is the beginning of the revival of Main Street.  Here is the information on the night from "Visit Ellicott City."

"Midnight Madness in Old Ellicott City
Friday Dec 2, 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Start a new family tradition as you sip hot cider while strolling the town, listening to carolers and visiting our unique shops decorated for the holidays. Help support Old Ellicott City when you #ShopSmall this holiday season and find that perfect gift in our shops, galleries and artist studios. Our restaurants will be offering dinner and drink specials all evening as well. All will be open until at least midnight. Don't forget to visit Santa in his workshop!

Visit Santa at the Thomas Issac Log Cabin located near the corner of Main St & Ellicott Mills Dr. Free parking in Lot F. Santa will be back on Saturday 12 - 4pm. Parents are welcome to take photos!

Bring the family for the lighting of the official Howard County Christmas tree in front of the Howard County Welcome Center.

Join the Wine Bin in their parking lot for shopping, music, food and fun. Breezy Willows and Green Bird farms will be there with holiday greenery, winter vegetables, preserves, baked goods along with Patapsco Pendants, Wind River Clothing and [be] essentials. Beer, wine and coffee drinks will be available for purchase with proceeds benefiting Voices for Children.

Miss the traffic and ride the shuttle to town! Easy & free parking at:
George Howard Building (3040 Courthouse Dr),
Circuit Courthouse (8360 Court Av)
St. Peter's Episcopal Church (3695 Rogers Av)
Our heated coach bus will drop off and pick up in town at the corner of Ellicott Mills Dr & Main St.


Finding that unique gift is easy when you shop with our independent small businesses!

More specials still to come!

A Diva’z Boutique
20% off your purchase of $100 or more and a free gift with purchase for the first 100 divaz

A Journey From Junk
Free gift with purchase
Special Maryland & Ellicott City themed items

A La Mode Boutique
Buy 1, get 1 50% off on jewelry, scarves, and winter accessories (discount on lowest priced item)
Free holiday leggings with any $75 purchase
Fill out a wish list to be entered for a chance to WIN what you WISHED for! One winner will be chosen Dec 26th (up to $250 value)

Antique Depot
Snack while you shop! Free donuts in the morning, free pizza & soda in the evening, plus sweets all day long (all are while supplies last)

Attic Antiques N Things
An Old Fashioned Christmas with ornaments, decorations, nutcrackers, santas and more

B&O Museum: 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Museum store and some exhibits will be open until 10:00 PM

Bean Hollow
Offering ECStrong t-shirts, raffle tickets for Princeton Sports $250 & $50 gift certificates
Silent auction for art donated by artist Bill Owens to help with their recovery

Bear Fox Babe
20% off your entire purchase
Complimentary candle with any purchase of $100+

[be] essential blends
Spend $75 and Get a FREE 8oz soy candle of your choice (while supplies last)
Delicious sweets to nibble on while you shop, oh and did we mention Cocktails, too?!?!
Meet the artisans and authors behind the creation of the amazing local products carried. [be] essential blends carries all natural, safe bath, body, and home products, as well as soy candles, aromatherapy jewelry, and unique gifts made by small, local artisans.

Clayground Studio & Art Gallery
30% off wine bottle & recycled glass art
Get a free 50% off coupon for one mosaic, fused glass, or pottery wheel class

Ellicott City Toyland
25% off your purchase
Free Disney Christmas Ornament with purchase of $100 or more

Ellicott Mills Brewing Co
Happy hour 4-7pm
Full menu til 11pm plus Light Fare til 1am

Judge’s Bench
Spiced rum cider special with a special prize attached to every 5th cup.

Main Street Ballroom
Free photo booth. Located inside The MarketPlace
$1000 off your wedding at Main Street Ballroom to the 1st couple to get engaged in the photo booth Contest Rules

Main Street Oriental Rugs
50% off tag prices
20% off area rug cleaning
10% area rug repairs

Main Street Rising (8086 Main St)
Get a free holiday gift bag with every purchase of a 375ml bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar

Massage Boutique
Take a break and enjoy a 15 minute spa treatment for $15
Receive $20 in Boutique Bucks to use for services with any gift certificate purchase of $100+

Mat About You
Free gift with any purchase
Free make your own smore's at our fire pit
Wire jewelry making demo
Free hot cider
Homemade Italian confections
Accordionist Joan Grauman will be preforming holiday tunes 7-8pm

Stop by the WinterFest Market for great sandwiches & soups!

Salon Marielle
10% off and a free travel size Aveda gift with any purchase

Su Casa
Su Casa invites you to take the chill off with some light snacks, festive drinks and generally merry atmosphere! A Main Street staple since 2000, you can check everyone off your list with gifts from Su Casa.

Sunflower Trading Hat Co.
Irish wool scarves $30 or 2 for $50
Howard County’s largest selection of men & women’s hats from around the world
Fair trade wool sweaters

Wind River Clothing & Gifts
All sweaters $20 each, 2 for $35
$5 knit handwarmers and headbands

The Wine Bin
Free wine & craft beer tasting
6pm – midnight WinterFest Farmers Market featuring holiday greens, salsas, preserves, hot food and more. Beer garden & live music too!"


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Artist renderings of the new Columbia Downtown

  Columbia revitalization plan

     WBAL TV has provided us with a link to show the artist renderings of the development of the new Downtown planned with the Crescent development now starting along Brokenland Parkway.  Here is the link to all the renderings

Columbia revitalization plan


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Want to buy a brick for the 50th birthday celebration?


     It has been awhile since you had a chance to buy a brick next to the People Tree at the Lake Kittamquandi lakefront.  I know that I look for my family brick every time I am around the People Tree.  For the 50th anniversary of Columbia next year you can get another chance. Here is the information from the Columbia Association.

"Celebrate Columbia’s 50th Birthday with a special personalized brick at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront

Columbia Association (CA) is offering its Buy-a-Brick program for the first time in five years, this time with special bricks in honor of Columbia’s 50th Birthday celebration taking place in 2017.

A section of the plaza at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront will be reserved for bricks placed around a large paver reading “Columbia Maryland 50.” There is also an option to purchase bricks for placement in other areas of the plaza.

The opportunity to purchase a brick will continue through Feb. 24, 2017. Bricks are $100 for placement in the 50th Birthday section and $75 for placement in other areas of the plaza. Bricks can have up to three lines of text, with 15 characters per line; spaces between words count as a character. CA cannot guarantee that those purchasing multiple bricks will have them placed next to each other.

Bricks may be purchased online at or by downloading the form and bringing it with payment to CA’s Customer and Member Service Center, 6310 Hillside Court, located off Stevens Forest Road near the county vehicle emissions inspection station. The form and payment may also be mailed to Columbia Association, C&M Brick Program, 6310 Hillside Court, Columbia, MD 21046.

Certificates are available to download and present as a gift to others.

For additional information, please contact Christina Pierre at 410-423-4102 or "


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Howard County Executive Director of Housing Commission Tom Carbo died

   I was saddened to hear of the death of Tom Carbo in a Facebook post by County Exec Kittleman.  Tom has a long history of work in Howard County Government.  I got to know Tom when he worked in the Howard County Law Office.  I was working in the Office on Aging when we needed to develop a contract for workers in our Office that didn't violate Federal Labor laws.  Tom developed the workable contract that allowed us to operate a number of programs with contractual workers.  The contract he developed even became known in the County as the "Carbo contract."  Here is the info posted by the County Exec:
     "Tonight, Howard County is mourning the death of Thomas P. Carbo, the Executive Director of the Howard County Housing Commission. Tom succumbed to a heart attack early this morning. He was 57.
     Tom was a passionate advocate and champion who worked tirelessly to create and expand affordable housing programs in Howard County. Under his leadership, the Housing Commission made considerable strides, developing model communities such as Monarch Mills and Burgess Mill Station, doubling home ownership during the last eight years, expanding education programs and opportunities to new homebuyers and those seeking financial literacy and awarding affordable rental and ownership opportunities to those in need. Most recently, Tom led the effort to create a comprehensive affordable housing program for Downtown Columbia that would serve a broader range of incomes.

    Tom joined Howard County Government as an Assistant County Solicitor in the Office of Law in 1989. He also served as Senior Assistant County Solicitor and Labor Relations Coordinator before being named Deputy Director of the County Department of Housing and Community Development in 2006. Six years later, Tom was appointed Director of the Department and also became the Executive Director of the Housing Commission. In addition to his work in Howard County, Tom also served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland.
      A Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where he studied political science, Tom received his J.D. from University of Maryland School of Law.
      Tonight, I extend my deepest sympathy and prayers to Tom’s wife Jeannie, and his three children Jaime, Kristen and Daniel. During this difficult time, I hope they will find some comfort in knowing that Tom lived a life dedicated to improving the quality of life for others. He was a visionary whose work led to a new era of innovative and affordable housing opportunities that enriched our community. Tom will be greatly missed."

Friday, November 25, 2016

Chestnuts on a roasting fire

     Who hasn't heard the Nat King Cole sing "The Christmas Song" and hear about roasting chestnuts on an open fire and not wondered what they taste like.  Chestnuts are now in the supermarkets for the holiday season.  I am not much of a nut lover but the smell and sweet taste of chestnuts are an exception.  I remember going to the Mummers Parade on New Years Day in Philadelphia and the smell of roasting chestnuts was on every street corner.  Give these nuts a try this year.  Here is how to roast them.

    Take a serrated knife and slit the chestnuts down to about half way to open up the nut.

 Simmer in a pot of salted water for about 5 minutes and then roast in the oven at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Above picture shows how they open after roasting.  Cool and peal off the outer shell careful to try and keep the nuts whole.  Some nuts shell easier than others.

    Here is what the roasted nuts look like.  Try chopping them up and add to stuffing or sauteing with onions and brussel sprouts.   I also found this recipe for chestnut cream that sounds like a wonderful filling for crepes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to stuff a turkey according to the "Three Stooges"


      Maybe it is time for a little lighthearted remembrance this Thanksgiving from a simpler time.  Growing up, a long time ago, you always had a short Three Stooges film in our Saturday Matinee movies.  Not bad for only having to spend 20 cents for the afternoon at the movies.  Here is the Three Stooges take on how to make a Thanksgiving dinner.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A 2016 headshaking story


     OK so for many of us 2016 has not ended well (and we still have 6 weeks to go) but some recent stories in the Columbia Patch have caught my attention in a way that leaves me shaking my head.  If you haven't heard in the past 7 days three people have been arrested at our airport, BWI, for trying to board a plane with a loaded handgun.   Think about that.  With the history of the TSA I wonder how many other loaded handguns have gotten through the screenings?  Each of the people arrested claimed to not realize that they had a loaded handgun in their carry on bag.  Two things come to mind.  One you are lying because you really, really thought you could get away with carrying a loaded handgun onto a plane or two you carry your loaded handgun everywhere and don't even think about when you may have to remove it.  I carry a pocket knife everyday as it is a useful tool with a knife, a screwdriver and a fingernail clipper.  With the metal detectors in a number of places when I get dressed in morning I think about the need to not carry it some days.  If I do this with my small, multi-functional pocket knife I have concerns about some of our fellow citizens so obvious to their carrying a loaded weapon around that they forget they have it going through airport security.
    For those of you who didn't read the Patch on the story here it is:

"For the third time in five days, a passenger with a loaded handgun was arrested at the security checkpoint at Baltimore Washington International Airport, federal authorities say. Men from Baltimore County and Delaware were arrested in separate incidents previously.

In the most recent case, a woman from Smyrna, Delaware, was charged after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a gun inside her large handbag as she entered a checkpoint. Police confiscated a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and arrested the woman on state weapons charges. The gun was loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber.

According to the TSA, the woman said she had just cleaned out her handbag, but did not notice that the gun was hidden inside when she headed to the airport and she did not know she was carrying the weapon. She was ticketed to fly to Columbus, Ohio.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, police arrested a Gwynn Oak, Maryland, man who was carrying a loaded .38 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets when TSA officers caught him with the weapon at one of the airport checkpoints. The man told officers he did not know that he had a gun in his carry-on bag and said the weapon did not belong to him. He was ticketed to fly to Las Vegas.

In the second incident, police arrested a Millsboro, Delaware, man on Sunday, Nov. 13. He was carrying a loaded .22 caliber handgun loaded with six rounds when TSA officers stopped him. The man, who had a ticket to fly to Toronto, Canada, told authorities he forgot that he had a gun with him."

     My own belief is that the arrested people thought they could really get through security.

P.S. 1
    This story also made remember my experience playing golf this year with a cousin of mine.  As we were looking for one of my errant golf balls we saw another golfer hitting a ball near where  mine had landed.  During the discussion of what to do to golfers who mistakenly hit your golf ball my cousin jokingly said "Don't worry I have my handgun in my golf bag."  I thought he was joking but no he really did had a handgun in his golf bag!  He has multiple handguns and usually carries one with him wherever he goes.  Now when I see him again (not very often) I will ask him if he would ever try to get though airport security with one of his handguns. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

LGBT 50+ Group and the Bain 50+ Center to host Gina DeSimone and the Moaners swing band

      A Holiday Meet & Greet sponsored by the Bain 50+ Center, the LGBT Older Adults Task Force of Howard County and the LGBT 50+ Group will be held at the Bain 50+ Center on Thursday, December 1st from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. LGBT folks age 18+, family, friends and allies are welcome. There will be refreshments and live music and great dancing with Gina DeSimone and the Moaners band. According to their website:

"Gina DeSimone & The Moaners are a DC-based blues and swing foursome that are sure to liven up any event with an eclectic mix of music from all eras! Since 2007, The Moaners have made their mark on the DC music scene with unrelentingly danceable tunes and fun-loving humor. The group's musically diverse backgrounds come together to deliver a night of enthusiastic fun, foot tappin' rhythm, and killer harmonies. "

  The Event is being sponsored by the Bain 50+ Center, the LGBT Older Adults Task Force of Howard County and the LGBT 50+ Group. LGBT folks age 18+, family, friends and allies are welcome.

    Very important that those who plan to come RSVP by November 28th at 410-313-7213.

    Check out this You Tube video of the group.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Foreign-born Information and Referral Network looking for support for families at Thanksgiving


   Unfortunately the immigration issue has become a divisive political issue.  Our Country's image of being a welcoming place has been corroded by the fear of terrorism.  At this Thanksgiving time especially it is important to remember that immigrants are a valuable ingredient in making our Country rich and diverse.  The desire of others from around the globe wanting to come here to better their lives and the lives of their families should be a source of pride for all of us.  In that spirit you can sponsor an immigrant family in Howard County through the FIRN organization.  Here is the information they sent me:

"FIRN (Foreign-born Information and Referral Network) is looking for individuals and organizations to help support families in need this Thanksgiving and holiday season. (See flyer attached)

Almost 100 families in Howard County apply for this program and we need your help! A simple gift can really make a difference."

Contact information:
Kristin Lilly


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A walk around Oakland Mills

     Last week a group of Columbia residents participated in the last of the village walks done by Ned Tillman in conjunction with the Columbia Association.  

   It is surprising what is hidden in our neighborhoods.  I had no idea that a family cemetery of 6 graves of the George Cooke family from the 1850's was neatly hidden behind the Village Center.

   We walked along some of the new path that connects Blandair Park and the Howard County General Hospital.  The map above shows the route of the new path and the symbol below is a symbol shown along the route.

   As our community has developed some of the barriers to capture storm runoff have been removed. As shown below homeowners may not realize the damage they do when they mow their lawns right down to a stream.  The streams pay the price for this homeowner wanting to expand their lawn with the stream bank erosion shown below.

      One positive action to control this storm runoff is the building of rain gardens like the one shown above at the Meeting House Interfaith Center in Oakland Mills.  This one was built by young people who were paid by a grant.  The sign below describes the Clean Howard program that is building the rain gardens.

What we have in Columbia is a mixture of old and new trees planted around the time of Columbia's development.  The picture below shows the older taller Black Gum tree surrounded by newer trees.

   This time of the year the large yellow leaves of the Paw Paw tree clearly stands out as show above.

   We may not realize it but beneath the ground in our area is granite.  Occasionally like shown above and below the soil is washed away with erosion and this granite can be seen.


   Look for more information about next year's walks that will be advertised by the Columbia Association.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's United Way Harvest of Plenty time again

    Every year the United Way provides over 300 Thanksgiving dinners to low income families in Howard County.  The families are identified by agencies and organizations that serve low income families in our community.  I would encourage everyone to make a donation to this effort as I have.  Every $25 donation provides Thanksgiving dinner to one family.  I know I feel more thankful when I sit down to our Thanksgiving dinner that my donation has meant that one more family in Howard County is having the same experience.  If you belong to a community group or religious organization that wants to take this program on as part of their community giving we can make sure that no family in our County goes without Thanksgiving dinner.

     Here is the link to donate.


Radio silence

    After twice in the last 16 years seeing a Presidential election go to the candidate with fewer votes many of us need some time to go through Kubler-Ross' stages of grief. I know for myself I am already at step 2 (Google it).  I am remembering what many of our mothers told us growing up.  "If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything."  Sometimes Mom was right.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Main Street Ellicott City recovery

    While you still see the damage from the flood on Main Street, like shown above and below, more merchants are beginning to return.

    The merchants below Old Columbia Pike will be the slowest to return.  Many stores are still boarded up.

   The farther up the street you can see most merchants are beginning to open.

   This weekend I went back to see a couple of merchants that I had highlighted in blogs earlier this year.  Main Street Oriental Rugs shown above had a grand re-opening on Saturday with food outside the store.

   The flood waters came in the back of the store and did damage rugs in the store.  Some were lost and some were restored. 

    A similar story for the Horse Spirit Gallery farther down the street.

   Owner Robin Holliday, shown above, said that the store had over 50 inches of water in the store during the flood.  Some items were lost but most were salvaged.
    Over the next few months and maybe years we will see how the plans for a renewed Main Street play out.  Right now the picture is unsettled.

     Live from Susan B. Anthony's grave today.