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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.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pickleball: The game with the funny name has arrived in Howard County

October 18, 2016

       If you haven't heard of pickleball yet you will only have to come out to the tennis courts next to the Ice Rink in Oakland Mills Village Center on a Saturday or Tuesday morning to see 25-40 players playing pickleball.  It is similar to tennis but on a smaller court and using a paddle and a wiffle like ball.   Another difference from tennis is how social playing pickleball is.  Unlike tennis most pickleball players are in a group of many other players instead of just a few tennis players.  Waiting for a court to open up gives players plenty of time to socialize and make new friends.
      Popular in many retirement communities but played by persons of all ages.  Here in Howard County the Howard County Pickleball Association now has over 150 members in just its first year of existence.   Joining this Association is the best way to learn about the sport and where it is being played in Howard County.  The Howard County Recreation and Parks Department held the first Countywide pickleball tournament at the Meadowbrook facility earlier this year with 104 participants.   If you want to learn more about pickleball email at my Gmail email address
      Here is a You Tube video on how to play.


Native American Council Offers Amnesty to 240 Million Undocumented Whites


                                              Time to become legal 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Columbia Association walks for the remainder of 2017

    Explore the different villages that make up Columbia with the scheduled walks led by CA staff and Ned Tillman.   Each walk gives you a new perspective on how our community was created and special features of each village.  Here is the schedule for the walks this year.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Today is "National Read a Book Day"

   National Read a Book Day September 6

    Nothing that I know of can change a person like reading books.  We are incomplete without the knowledge that is gained by reading.  I can't image a life without books.  The gift of books is the best gift we can give to any child.  Here is a report on who doesn't read.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Columbia Birthday Celebration Finale

From the Columbia Patch:

"OPUS 1, a bold festival mixing art, music and technology to create an immersive, multi-sensory experience, is set for October 7th , from 4-10 pm in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods. The one-of-a-kind event is the finale of Columbia’s six-month 50th birthday celebration and is free and open to the public of all ages.

The transformational festival will include large scale art installations, mesmerizing music performances and treetop projection mapping. Eleven activation areas will encourage exploration, interactivity and a sense of discovery.

Curated and produced by Wild Dogs International, OPUS 1 is the first part of a three-year project, bringing art and cutting-edge culture to the area. It is being presented by The Howard Hughes Corporation.

“OPUS 1 allows us to tell the story of the next phase in the city’s cultural evolution,” said Executive Vice President John DeWolf. “We are committed to providing an opportunity where art, music and technology can flourish in an extraordinary way.”

For more information, click here and reserve your tickets here.


Friday, September 1, 2017

How to make a "man made" disaster

      It may surprise you to discover that Houston has no zoning laws.  The fourth largest city in the US values individual rights over the collective rights of the community.  Houston is a developers dream with development often requiring nothing more than a handshake.   Does that sound like an environment for political corruption?  Chemical and petroleum processing companies flock to the region where environmental regulations are non-existent.
      Houston is only 50 feet above sea level and once relied on wetlands and bogs to handle rainfall runoff.  Those areas have been developed over the past 40 years without much effort to mitigate the environmental impacts.    The two pictures below show the change in wetlands around Houston.  The first picture from 1980 shows the wetland area in green.

    The picture below shows the same area today and notice how much of the green area of the first picture is gone.

       The loss of these wetlands couldn't come at a worse time with the warming of the Gulf of Mexico by global warming.  Here is how that is impacting Houston:

"Long term, the sea surface temperature of that region has risen about 1 degree over the past few decades—from roughly 86 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Michael Mann, a climatologist at Penn State. Mann said in a Facebook post on Monday that a relationship known as the Clausius-Clapeyron equation tells us there is a roughly 3 percent increase in average atmospheric moisture content for each 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming—almost 1 degree Fahrenheit. That means 3 to 5 percent more moisture in the atmosphere in the Gulf region near the south Texas coast. So Harvey has a big tank of tropical moisture that it has been dumping on land."
     I guess it is ironic and tragic that two weeks ago Trump undid an Obama-era rule to try and address this issue.  Here is what Trump did to the rule:

"The Obama-era rule gave federal agencies three options to flood-proof new infrastructure projects. They could use the best available climate change science; they could require that standard projects like roads and railways be built two feet above the national 100-year flood elevation standard and critical buildings like hospitals be built three feet higher; or they could require infrastructure to be built to at least the 500-year flood plain."

      How many times recently have we heard the term "a hundred year storm?"   With global warming that term seems to know longer hold true.   
       The population of New Orleans shrank from 450,000 to 250,000 after Hurricane Katrina.  What will happen to the population of our 4th largest city after this flood?  Time will tell.

    Locally we face some of the same issues in Ellicott City although on a smaller scale.   With the development around Main Street we face a serious stormwater runoff problem that will be very challenging to mitigate.   With global warming a six inch rain storms may be a to regular occurrence in the future and threaten the continued viability of Main Street.