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Monday, December 25, 2017

2017 Sign of the times

You can be sure that 2017 ended having mistletoe at the office party!

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Friday, December 22, 2017

New York Times article on Columbia and the new tax legislation

      Yesterday the New York Times had an article that featured Columbia residents talking about the tax implications of the recently passed Republican tax "reform" bill.  Republicans have a way of branding their legislation in a way that masks the real intent of the legislation.  The only "reform" in the recent legislation was to shift income distribution to wealthier Americans and take away healthcare to millions of average Americans.  Providing healthcare to Americans has always been a target of Republicans who see this effort as creeping socialism.  While they have decided that businesses that are doing very well these days need more tax relief they will take away healthcare from a projected 13 million Americans and have left uncertainty of future funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  My feeling has always been that the supporters of the CHIP program should just rename it the Children and Fetus Health Insurance Program to pick up support from those Republicans who only support health care for fetuses.   Providing healthcare after birth is too much socialism for these Republicans.
       The target of the Republican tax legislation is really a two step process.  The first step is to lower taxes so much that you create large deficits (in spite of their claims of the cuts paying for themselves) so that they can move to their real objective which is to cut social spending.  That second part is something that is already being talked about by Republicans and once the deficits happen they will claim that as the solution.  Watch how our bloated Defense budget will never be seen as a part of that deficit solution.

     Republican philosophy of low taxes as the way to prosperity has a interesting overlooked fact that 97 out of 100 poorest counties are located in red states and that 22 of the top 25 wealthiest counties in the country are in blue states.  And that includes good old Howard County at number 3.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Police respond to 219 overdoses so far this year

  Last Friday night Howard County Police responded to 3 overdose cases. That brought to 219 cases for 2017. The Baltimore Sun reported this a few months ago:

"The number of opioid-related deaths in Howard County between January and June this year spiked by over 50 percent compared to the same time frame in 2016, according to state data released this week. The death toll rose from 18 deaths in the first six months of 2016 to 28 in 2017.

Twenty-one of those deaths are the result of fentanyl-related causes, compared to 12 deaths in the first half of last year. Fentanyl, which has become an increasing concern to law enforcement, is a much more potent drug used to cut heroin that can lead to more frequent fatal overdoses, according to Howard County Health Officer Maura Rossman.

The county is on track to blow past its total number of opioid-related deaths for the year compared to 2016, when 40 people died from opioid-related causes. In the first half of 2017, already 28 died from opioid-related causes, with the numbers still climbing."

    Somehow the epidemic seemed more of a story in states with economic hardships but prosperous Howard County shows that the problem truly is one that impacts all areas of our country.   There are around 60,000 deaths a year from drug overdoses, a 10 fold increase since 1980


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Will Costco gas soon have competition in Columbia?


   I heard a rumor that the gas station at Dobbin Center is being renovated into a BJ's gas station.  Anyone know if that is true?  The renovations look like there will be a larger station opening.  When BJ's came to Snowden Square they couldn't put in a gas station because of the existing gas station.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Let's get real on taxes

      The Republican tax legislation is being sold as an individual and business tax cut to stimulate the economy.  Tax cuts may make sense to the economy during recessionary times but that is far from where we are now with low unemployment, stocks at record highs and business sitting on record cash reserves.   Republicans have long pushed a false narrative that lower taxes to businesses stimulates the economy.  Since 70% of the US economy is driven by consumer spending giving more tax relief to lower and middle income tax payers can create more consumer demand to create more jobs and grow an economy.  Will businesses use the money from a tax cut to grow jobs?  What is more likely is that they will do more stock by backs to increase the value of their stock and increase executive compensation which many times is tied to value of their stock. 
      While you can probably find examples of the impact of tax cuts as being a stimulus, one thing is almost always a result of tax cuts---budget deficits.  Kansas is only the latest example of this reality.  The Republican's real agenda is two pronged.  First to reward their wealthy business contributors under the cover of stimulating the economy.  Second is even more sinister which is to create a budget deficit to slash government social programs.
      Any discussion of taxes and its impact on an economy has to acknowledge that there is a income redistribution impact of any change in our tax structure.  Lower taxes are usually disproportionately directed to wealthier individuals and higher taxes provide the basis to fund services that redistribute income to lower income individuals.  Maybe that is why the happiest countries in the world are also some of the highest taxed countries.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Who knew??

Who knew that when Trump used to boast "You will get so tired of winning" he was referring to the Democrats!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Shake Shack coming to the Columbia Mall December 20th and Aldi's opening at Gateway Overlook Shopping Center December 14th

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From the Columbia Patch:

"What's shakin' Columbia?! Shake Shack is thrilled to announce it will open on Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 11 a.m. at The Mall in Columbia, the open-air shopping, dining and entertainment destination. The Mall in Columbia Shack will be located at 10300 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD.

In addition to the Shack classics, The Columbia Shack will be spinning up a selection of local frozen custard concretes: Shack Attack (chocolate custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough, Mast Brothers Shake Shack dark chocolate chunks, topped with chocolate sprinkles), Cookie Butter Blender (vanilla custard, cookie butter, chocolate toffee and chocolate sprinkles) and Pie Oh My (vanilla custard and slice of seasonal pie from Renata's Tasty Bites).

What's sweeter? The first 100 people in line on opening day when doors open will receive a Pie Oh My concrete, on us!

Guests can wash their burgers down with local seasonal brews from Jailbreak Brewing Company, Flying Dog Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing Company and Full Tilt Brewing Company, plus Shake Shack's exclusive Brooklyn Brewery ShackMeister® Ale. Wine lovers can enjoy a glass of Shack RedTM and Shack WhiteTM wine from Napa-based Frog's Leap Winery.

As part of Shake Shack's mission to Stand For Something Good®, The Mall in Columbia Shack will donate 5% of sales from its Pie Oh My concrete to Grassroots, the county's only emergency shelter and crisis intervention center providing 24-hour crisis intervention services, emergency shelter, and community education. "


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Saturday funny

Now this was a plan our financial advisor overlooked!

Thursday, December 7, 2017's "Word of the Year"


    Our boviating leader didn't make Time's Person of the Year but he did give us's Word of the Year---"complicit."   A close second could have been my choice of "collusion."

      Oh to have our values represented like this!

P.S. 1
     Mueller probably has Trump's tax returns.  We may find out about them after all.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Jim Nabors at his best

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   With the death of Jim Nabors this past week it is a good time to remember a scene from his show Gomer Pyle USMC where he sings "The Impossible Dream.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ellicott City Midnight Madness this Friday Dec. 1

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    We are all familiar with the impact that the flood had on Main Street in Ellicott City.  Most businesses have reopened and now is the time to show our support for these businesses.  Midnight Madness is the night that Main Street uses to show how small merchant shopping can be satisfying in a way that shopping on Amazon will never be.  Here is the info on the night:

"Bring the family into town for our 39th annual Midnight Madness Celebration!  Visit with Santa 4-8pm at the log cabin, watch our tree lighting and sip hot treats while strolling our picturesque historic district.   All of our shops will be open late – find that unique gift for your special someone plus our restaurants will be serving festive selections late into the evening!
Strolling carolers, period actors, Winter Holiday Market and more make this an evening not to miss!
A free shuttle bus from the Howard County Courthouse parking lots and St. Peter Episcopal Church will be available 7pm – 12:30am.
Visit Santa at the Thomas Issac Log Cabin 4 – 8pm.  Parents are welcome to take pictures!"


Monday, November 27, 2017

New development plans for Crescent buildings from Howard Hughes

HoCoMDcc blog recently posted about the Howard Hughes plans for downtown Crescent development.

  Here is the info.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Harassment reality on Capitol Hill

    The sexual assault and harassment scandals are now reaching into Capitol Hill.   It was only a matter of time after the scandals in Hollywood began to show the pattern of powerful men using their position so inappropriately.   It also brought back to my memory the mindset of 1970's on Capitol Hill.  I was a college intern in Senator Goodell and Senator Muskie's offices in 1971 and 1972.   The job differed from the younger interns and pages in that we got to do constituent work.  Much of the work involved calling Social Security and the Veterans Affairs offices trying to resolve constituent issues with those programs.  Developing good contacts within those departments was the key to successfully resolving issues. 
    Back to sexual harassment.  A truth in most organizations is that the more power you have the more opportunities you have to misuse that power.  It was no different on Capitol Hill.  You shouldn't be surprised that the greatest abuse came from the top of the office.   I should say that I never saw anything inappropriate from either Senator I interned with but that isn't to say that there were many others that fell into this behavior.  I heard many times it said that the 1950's novel Peyton Place could have taken place on Capitol Hill.  For younger readers here is the description of the novel.  One experience that I do remember is one that involved Sen. Strom Thurmond.   I was asked to take a document that needed his signature to his office and wait until he signed it.   Nothing unusual about that until I was told that only male staff and interns were used after a female staff person came back with a story about how the Senator gave her "a too friendly" greeting.  This response was typical of the 1970's approach to sexual harassment as one of protecting your own staff or family from an abuser but doing nothing to stop it or confronting the abuser.  The stories in the news today show that not much has changed in the past 40 plus years.   I don't want to be a pessimist but the reality is that these stories will continue with us into the future.  Abusers may become more discreet but it will continue.  The only solution seems to be more females in power to set a different tone in the workplace.

     Interesting story about Strom Thurmond came out after his death.  Here is the info from Wikepedia:

     "Six months after Thurmond died at the age of 100 in 2003, his mixed-race, then 78-year-old daughter Essie Mae Washington-Williams (1925–2013) revealed he was her father. Her mother Carrie Butler (1909–1948) had been 16 years old and working as his family's maid when Thurmond initiated a sexual relationship with her. He was 22. Butler died in 1948 when Washington-Williams would turn 23. Although Thurmond never publicly acknowledged Essie Mae Washington, he paid for her education at a historically black college and passed other money to her for some time. She said she kept silent out of respect for her father[9] and denied the two had agreed she would not reveal her connection to Thurmond.[10] His children by his marriage eventually acknowledged her.[9] Her name has since been added as one of his children to his memorial at the state capitol."

Monday, November 13, 2017

Amazing photos of Jupiter

       From Sci-Tech Universe magazine:

       "Traveling above Jupiter at more than 130,000 miles per hour, NASA's $1 billion Juno probe took its ninth set of stunning flyby images on October 24. 
        The spacecraft then swept within a few thousand miles of the gas giant, capturing stunning high-resolution views of its cloud tops."
Others dazzle with their detail of the planet's thick cloud bands and powerful storms.

"Then Juno flew back out into deep space, passing over Jupiter's south pole on its exit. Churning storms at the poles constantly change their appearance."

The planet's atmosphere is a turbulent mess of hydrogen and helium gases.

"Many cloud bands have features called chevrons. These atmospheric disturbances blow at several hundreds of miles per hour and sometimes zig-zag through a band, or punch through into others."

Many cloud bands have features called chevrons. These atmospheric disturbances blow at several hundreds of miles per hour and sometimes zig-zag through a band, or punch through into others.

"Many snapshots of Jupiter take on an artistic quality"

In this older view of Jupiter, from Juno's eighth perijove, two cloud bands battle for dominance — one of which contains a swirling storm many times larger than a hurricane on Earth.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Don't laugh but Energy Secretary Perry has discovered the secret to preventing sexual assaults

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   We are all used to the craziness from our pretending president and his clown show of appointed representatives but the new craziness has recently been revealed in the bending logic to a real problem.  Recently Energy Secretary Rick "let me see how I can encourage pollution" Perry has talked about how the use of coal can decrease sexual assaults.  Even wearing glasses doesn't seem to have made him any smarter.  Here is the link to the story.

        Maybe we should all ship little bags coal to Perry's boss to see if it helps. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

United Way Harvest of Plenty

This year United Way hopes to provide 256 Thanksgiving meals here in Howard County. Here is information on the program.

United Way of Central Maryland Launches 25th Annual
Harvest of Plenty Campaign

Individuals can provide a Thanksgiving dinner to a local family in need for only $25

 United Way of Central Maryland launches its 25th annual Harvest of Plenty campaign today, and invites area residents to help families in need have a traditional family Thanksgiving this year. In celebration of its 25th year, for just $25, individuals can provide a Thanksgiving dinner — with all the fixings — to a local family. This year’s goal is to provide 4,000 Thanksgiving dinners to area families.

“This Thanksgiving, as on every Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will gather around the table surrounded by friends and family as they enjoy a Thanksgiving meal,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “But there are thousands more in central Maryland fighting to make ends meet, for whom celebrating Thanksgiving seems impossible. It is our mission to ensure that these families can gather their families together around the dinner table, and celebrate Thanksgiving. We’re asking our donors to help make this 25th anniversary year of Harvest of Plenty a success by joining the fight to lift the spirits of struggling families in our local communities.”

Earlier this year, United Ways in Maryland released the ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report, which revealed that nearly 750,000 cannot afford the state’s high cost of living and don’t earn enough to afford basic necessities like childcare, and groceries for a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

A donation of just $25 will provide a family in need the opportunity to enjoy a memorable holiday with their loved ones. That $25 donation supplies a full meal for low-income families including traditional Thanksgiving meal items like turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes and stuffing.

“Harvest of Plenty ensured that Thanksgiving was a special time for my family last year,” said Emily*, a participant of the Harvest of Plenty 2016 initiative. Last Thanksgiving, Emily was pregnant and in need of help for the holiday. She began having contractions on the day she picked up her food, so she worked until the early hours of the morning to prepare everything.
“Although I wasn't there to actually enjoy the meal, my family was taken care of and they even saved me some when I came back home. I am so grateful to the Harvest of Plenty program for ensuring that my family was able to partake in this Thanksgiving tradition.”

  Beginning November 6, families can call the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. to register for a Thanksgiving meal. The helpline will screen callers for eligibility and will refer eligible callers to participating sites to pick up their meal. The 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week confidential informational and referral service that connects Marylanders with resources for food, housing, health care, and other human service needs.
The meals will be distributed to pre-registered families from November 14 – 21 at 26 locations throughout central Maryland including social service agencies, faith-based providers, community action agencies and partner outreach programs. To donate a Thanksgiving meal to a family in need this season, visit

# # #

About United Way of Central Maryland
United Way of Central Maryland fights for the education, employment, housing and health of every person in every community. For more than 90 years, United Way of Central Maryland has been improving lives in the communities it serves – Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard Counties, and Baltimore City – through programs like its 15 Family Stability sites that prevent homelessness and help families achieve self-sufficiency, and On Track 4 Success, a program in select schools throughout the region that identifies and helps young students stay on track to graduate high school

In January 2017, United Ways in Maryland released the ALICE® Report, revealing that more than a third of Maryland households – nearly 750,000 – either live in poverty, or qualify at or below the ALICE (Asset Limited, IncomeConstrained, Employed) threshold. United Way of Central Maryland fights to stabilize these ALICE residents and those that fall below the Federal Poverty Level.
In addition to the ALICE Report, United Way’s work is supported by the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline, a 24-hour, 7-day a week service that has provided information and referrals on health and human service needs for more than 10 years.
To learn more about the United Way of Central Maryland, visit

Friday, November 3, 2017

New Sears reopens in Columbia Mall this weekend

From the Columbia Patch:

"COLUMBIA, MD — Sears will hold a grand reopening event this weekend at The Mall in Columbia. The first 100 people at the store on Saturday, Nov. 4, will receive free goodie bags with $5 gift certificates inside.

The grand reopening will mark the debut of a new service center where people can order and view things sold by Sears online that are not in store. There will also be new flooring, lighting and graphics as part of the revamp.

A ribbon cutting will take place at 10 a.m. Then the store will celebrate the grand reopening with a magician and face painting for the kids as well as a balloon raffle and drawing. Raffle items include a tool chest, and the drawing will include a $250 gift card.

The grand reopening will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Sears in The Mall in Columbia, 10300 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia."


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Mike Rowe highlights one Columbia resident who saved the weddings of 80 women

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    Mike Rowe from the "Dirty Jobs" show has started a new Facebook show "Returning the Favor" that highlights people who have done a good act.

     Recently he highlighted a story about Columbia resident Denise Simmons who rescued the weddings of 80 brides after the story making their wedding dresses closed.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Should we still play football in schools?

      Someday I think we will look back at schools including football in their athletic programs the way we now look at how we once accepted smoking in our workplaces.  How do we accept things that we know have a negative impact on our children's health?  In the past football was seen as a positive way to get physical benefit and teamwork skills.  It was acknowledged as building toughness and character in boys.  Now we know that it can have severe impacts on the development of the brains of boys that play the sport.  In my brief career in JV football I clearly remember the drills where we were instructed to "lead with our helmet" and let the other player "know why they shouldn't run in our direction."  For someone like myself who was outweighed by players I was tackling by 30 pounds encouraging hard collisions was something that struck me as just plain stupid.   I also remember my coach's comment after I quit football after injuring my knee.  The coach also coached the baseball team and made this comment to me when I showed up to play baseball.  " I hope you are tougher playing baseball than you were playing football."
      I am not advocating stopping youth football outside of the school settings although it is a mystery why any parent would encourages their children to play football with today's information.  But with the information we now have why are were sanctioning the continued playing of this sport by our publicly funded schools?  Can't the teamwork and physical exercise benefits be accomplished without the potential damage to young brains?


   Anyone watching the Ravens football game this past Thursday should think about the impact of the concussion to Joe Flacco.

This is what a concussed person looks like.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Missed that great performer before they died? Now you have another chance

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     Bringing someone back from the dead now it possible using a hologram.  A hologram is a 3D laser image that when projected can give a likeness of any person taken from a picture or video.  For famous dead performers this can give a simulated concert using this technology.  While the image is not exactly like seeing a real performer the technology is getting closer to that reality.  The poster above is for a hologram tour with Roy Orbison in England.  Look for tours with an Elvis hologram or a Michael Jackson hologram down the road.  

     For one of the great performances of any entertainer click to watch the Orbison performance of  Uptown in the Black and White Night performance       How many other famous performers can you notice in this performance?  Here is the list.    

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pictures defining a presidential administration

     Sometimes a picture can define how a President plays their role in time of a natural disaster.  Remember the photo above of George W. only surveying the damage from Hurricane Katrina from the window of Air Force One?  His lack of connection was one of the reasons why Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006.

     George W. has nothing on our current pretender President when it comes to callousness.  When he launched paper towels into a crowd in Puerto Rico like he was throwing t shirts at a basketball game he showed a callousness to that disaster.  Whether the Republicans pay the same political cost remains to be seen next year.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Signs from Las Vegas

    Flying into Las Vegas only a few hours after the shooting at Mandalay Bay Hotel at couple of weeks ago was almost surreal.  The city was just beginning to come to terms with the reality that it has just become the latest in a long string of cities that had to deal with our insane gun policies.  Going by the hotel a few days later you could see the replacement windows in place that the shooter used to kill and injure so many people.

     Turning in the opposite direction you could clearly see the stage that the performers used that night.

    Down the road at the famous welcome to Las Vegas sign 50+ crosses had been set up to memorialize the people killed in the attack.

    Each cross had mementos and other objects from each of victims.

The impact of this tragedy became more real when you saw the pictures of each of the victims

As has been the custom lately with shootings the hashtag #VegasStrong was common throughout the city.

    Most of us gave up on any rational gun legislation coming from these episodes of carnage when it didn't happen with the slaughter of kindergarteners in Connecticut a few years ago.   Gun fetishes seem to be the most important thing in some pitiful persons lives.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Multi-Cultural Festival October 7th and 8th


     The Orthodox Church of St. Matthew is hosting a Multi Cultural Festival Saturday October 7th rom 11 am to 8 pm and Sunday October 8th from 11:30 to 6:30 pm at their church at 7271 Eden Brook Dr. in Kings Contrivance.  This is the 10th anniversary of this event that draws hundreds of people.

   There is Greek, Slavic, Romanian, Ethiopian, Lebanese and American food.  In addition there is ethnic entertainment and a number of vendors.

Saturday, October 7

12:00  Bailles de Mi Tierra – Mexican music and folk dance
1:00   Misako Ballet Company – Classical ballet and Japanese themed performances
2:00   U.S. Jow Ga Martial Arts – Traditional Southern Style Chinese Lion Dance and Jow Ga Kung Fu Demo
2:30   Hurley School of Irish Dance – Irish Dance Company
4:00   Iniciativa Folclorica Costarricense Folklorica – Traditional Costa Rican dance group
5:00   Tres Amigos+ – Bossa Nova rhythms in Latin and Brazilian
6:00   Krakowiaki Dance Group – Polish folk troupe
7:00   Meki’s Tamure – Polynesian and South Pacific cultural dances
Saturday Afternoon 2-5pm & 6-7PM – Zephyrs and Flora music ensemble will play in the church vestibule

Sunday, October 8

12:00  Kalinka Dance Ensemble of Baltimore – Traditional dances of Russia, Moldova and Finland
12:30  Teelin Irish Dance Company – School of Irish Dance
1:00   St. Nicholas Tamburitzans, Kolo Club Vojvodina, St. Sava Youth Choir – Serbian Orchestra, Dancers and Youth Choir
2:00   Kalinka Dance Ensemble of Baltimore – Traditional dances of Russia, Moldova and Finland
3:00   Carpathia – Folk dances of Eastern Europe
4:00   Arte Flamenco – Authentic Spanish Flamenco dances with live music
5:00   Fugitive Brass Quintet  – Swing jazz

More information at


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Amazon headquarters impact on Howard County if Baltimore is selected

       So Amazon's announcement that it will be adding a second headquarters in the near future has set off a competition by many cities to be the location of this new headquarters.  With the promise of 50,000 future high paying tech jobs you can see why this announcement has been received as a bonanza for any metropolitan area.   Both Baltimore and Washington DC have begun to make plans to submit proposals for this new headquarters.  While each city is not at the top of the list for this second headquarters the impact on Howard County if either city was selected might be significant.
       If the longshot bid by Baltimore was selected what impact on Howard County would there be?  This bid of using the Port Covington site for this second headquarters has the support of Governor Hogan and many elected officials in the Baltimore area.  The development of the new headquarters for Under Armour and the recent investment by Goldman Sachs is seen as an asset in Baltimore's bid.  Unfortunately for Baltimore its national image for crime and its poor school system make its bid a very long shot.  I could only imagine that if Baltimore was selected that many of the highly paid, highly educated workers would decide to commute 13 miles south Howard County to live.  Talk about increased school crowding in our County.  Also I can't imagine what that many new commuters would do for traffic congestion on route 95.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Healthcare as a right or a privilege?

    Here we go again!  The Republicans will not be satisfied until they take healthcare away from millions of Americans.  The Republicans are hell bent on jamming through the Graham-Cassidy bill that would block grant Obamacare money for health care to the states to allow the development of 50 different healthcare markets.  This bill is facing a September 30 deadline.  Republicans have long used block granting to kill or substantially reduce social programs.  This is what became of the old welfare programs in the 1990's.   The hidden truth is that once something is block granted the funds get incrementally reduced every year until the program is a shell of what it once was.  Republicans might talk about giving states flexibility but their real intent is to starve a social program they don't like.  Here is a good report on the impacts of this bill.
      At the same time many Democrat Senators are supporting Bernie Sander's bill a "Medicare for All" plan that is similar in many ways to the public option that got killed in the Obamacare debate.   With this type of plan the government would be able to negotiate lower prices for health care and reduce administrative costs below what private insurers are able to do.  Administrative costs for Medicare are about 2% as opposed to private insurance that is between 20-25%.  Do you know that the average cost paid for a doctor's visit is 3 times more in the US than in Canada?  It is not unusual for medical procedures in the US to cost 10 times more than in countries with universal care.   On their website the US insurance agents have this to say about health care spending:

    "In America, average spending per person is a bit over $8,000. This is significantly more than other countries. For example, spending in the countries that are the next highest spenders, the Netherlands and Switzerland, are about $3,000 less per year, and the average spending of all the OECD countries except for the United States is around $3,300. Despite the higher spending and the frequent assumption that "America has the best healthcare in the world," the object truth seems to be that the care Americans receive is not significantly better than the care received by those living in other countries."
    So which road is the United States headed on?  Stay tuned.

      Closer to home here is the impact of the Republican bill on Maryland.  Bet I know what Republican Gov. Hogan is hoping for now.

P.S. 1
      Here in the US if you need help paying for healthcare you can always beg others to help you pay.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Howard County to the rescue

   Howard County Government posted some pictures of Parks and Recreation employees who went to Florida to help with the clean up after the hurricane.

 Travelling back from Charlotte this weekend we saw caravans of utility trucks from Delaware that were coming back from Georgia. Talking to one of the men at a rest stop they were going back to Delaware but waiting to possibly head for Florida in another week.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

With hack of Experian it is time for Social Security to protect our SS numbers


     Anyone who has tried to lock their credit with the three credit agencies has been met with frustration in getting to anyone at those agencies.  The phone line at Experian just tells you to call back.  The other credit agency lines just leave you on hold.  It was just a matter of time before one of these companies was hacked.  Our Social Security numbers will all be available to criminal hackers now.  So who is to blame?  The credit agencies of course but Social Security also shares a great deal of blame too.  We have lived in a world where identity theft has existed for a long time.  Our Social Security numbers are now to currency that hackers need to steal identities.  What has Social Security done to protect our numbers?  NOTHING!  They act like it is not their problem but it is.  They have been neglectful in not devising a way to give us additional protection for our identities.
    So what should Social Security do to protect our identities?  One step might be what banks do with debit cards and require a pin number to use the card.  Social Security should give us the option of setting up a pin number for use of our Social Security number.  The pin numbers that banks use are never stored where the rest of our banking information is stored.   If you have ever tried to get a pin number changed you realize how the banks are very careful of who can change the number.
      There maybe other better ways to secure our Social Security numbers but it is imperative that Social Security take responsibility for the central role they play in identity theft.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Texan dietary "no-no"

    Before Hurricane Harvey struck Houston there was a run on grocery stores and the shelves quickly emptied---that is except one area.  Care to guess the area?

The vegan section of the grocery store!  Guess that is understandable in cattle country.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Orchard Development selected to redevelop Long Reach Village Center

   From the Howard County Government:

"Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today signed the purchase and sale agreement with Orchard Development for the Long Reach Village Center, completing another major step toward redevelopment of the aging center.

Kittleman said his team reached an agreement with Orchard Development to sell the 7.7-acre parcel for $3.4 million and also for the company to deliver a village green for community use during the early stages of the project.

“Orchard’s proposal was the hands-down favorite of the selection committee and was unanimously supported by the Planning Board. This plan is innovative, economically sustainable and encompasses key components requested during the Re-Imagine Long Reach process,” Kittleman said. “Given the tremendous support from the selection committee, Planning Board and Long Reach Village Board, I expect residents will be thrilled when the project is completed.”

Orchard’s redevelopment plan received positive reaction when presented to the community in May. The conceptual plan includes a village green, community space with pavilion, approximately 37,500 square feet of retail space, 17,500 square feet of medical office space, 20,000-square-foot food incubator and 19,500-square-foot vertical garden. The plan also calls for 132 units of market-rate multi-family housing, 120 units of senior multi-family housing, 52 for-sale townhomes and structured and surface parking for 960 vehicles.

"The Village Board is excited to see the Orchard team's development plan take shape in our Village Center,” said Nina Basu, Chair of the Long Reach Village Board. “We have worked closely with the County to ensure that resident input was included and are very much looking forward to the implementation of a dynamic, cutting edge plan, which includes great community amenities like the amphitheater, village green and dog park. We are especially excited to be a catalyst for reimagining space in an environmentally beneficial and cutting-edge way through the innovative vertical farm included in the plan."

Howard County purchased the Long Reach property in 2014 under a previous administration with the goal of revitalizing what had been designated a “blighted” property. Orchard’s proposal was selected after an extensive community input period that included five public engagement meetings and the development of the Re-Imagine Long Reach Village Center plan.

The redevelopment plan must still go through multiple steps before the County can close on the sale, which will officially transfer ownership to Orchard Development and allow construction to begin. These steps include the Village Center Community Planning Process and the zoning approval process, which together will take about a year, said Amy Gowan, Deputy Director of the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning. Two more community meetings will be scheduled this fall as part of the Village Center Community Planning Process, she said.

Gowan added that after the County closes on the sale, the developer will begin construction of the first phase of the village green for community use. Orchard anticipates delivering the first buildings in the redeveloped center in 2020.

Details of the proposal and other information regarding the Re-imagine Long Reach project can be found at "


Monday, September 11, 2017

Trump is trying to play his "get out of impeachment" card


   For anyone surprised to see Trump deal with the Democrats on legislation this past week you only have to look at it from Trump's survival perspective.  He is looking at an expanding investigation from Robert Mueller that could provide the basis of impeachment hearings if the Democrats take back the House of Representatives next year.  Trump can hope that if the Democrats control one or both houses of Congress they will prefer to deal with a president who will compromise than one like Mike Pence who will push the conservative agenda more successfully than Trump.  For Democrats the choice of a Pense presidency or a newly moderate Trump presidency suddenly looks like a no brainer.  This shouldn't be a surprise when you remember that survival is the only consistent personal quality that Trump has ever shown.  The extent that Trump will go to survive was shown when he was willing to "launder" Russian oligarchs money when all the banks would not loan him money to save his real estate empire.
     With Trump's need to "deal" look for more deals with Chuck and Nancy.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Mourning the Florida Keys

   For the past 5 years Marathon in the Florida Keys has been our retreat from Columbia's winters.  It is a tropical paradise to which you can drive.  What started out as a 3 day visit has now lengthened to more than a month.  A visit this year looks very problematic and may bucket list goal of spending New Years Eve in Key West will probably have to wait for another year.

     View we had from our deck each evening for dinner.

    Snorkeling off this beach at Baja Honda was one of the best times in the Keys

One of the many bridges that connect the Keys and maybe destroyed in the storm.

Evenings at our favorite bayside eatery 

And enjoying their indescribable lobster reuben and stone crabs

    Playing happy hour pickleball in Marathon has allowed us to have friends to socialize every time we visit.

Frequent visits down to Key West for the sunsets at Mallory Square were spectacular

To say nothing of the entertainers at Mallory Square

    And a walk along Duval Street and trying the different versions of Key Lime Pie including chocolate covered Key Lime Pie on a stick.

    I don't know how long it will be to rebuild the Keys but I am hoping for sooner than later.