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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Does it seem as the Inauguration has already happened?

      It seems as Trump has lost interest in being President in the days after the election as it appeared that he wouldn't have a second term.  He has disappeared from public view and only seems interested in playing golf.  He has to be talked into doing anything required of him.  It still seems as he will probably not attend the inauguration of Biden as it will legitimatize his defeat.  That is something he will never be able to acknowledge.  His plan apparently is to try and upstage the inauguration with some type of pathetic rally of his own somewhere.  Any media that covers that farce should be ashamed.


    For the first time that I remember when you say, "He is an idiot" and 90% of people know who you are talking about.

P.S. 1

       Watching the way conservative Trumpers are ignoring the realities of a pandemic reminds me of an old definition of the difference between a conservative and a liberal.  A conservative looks at a problem and says "Why should I care as it hasn't affected me."  A liberal looks at the same problem and says "Because someone is suffering it impacts me."  It is the difference between having a personal conscience and a social conscience. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Let's name it after Trump

   Popular former presidents are often honored by having streets and other public buildings named after them.  Kennedy and Reagan are two of the best examples of this reality.  The Kennedy Center, Cape Kennedy, Reagan National Airport, and the Reagan Federal Office Building are just some examples. Now we know that Trump has wondered about having an airport named after him.  So as the Trump presidency comes to an end I have wondered what would be more appropriately named after the former president.  Is there a university that will be interested in having the Trump Presidential Library?  Trump University was only a virtual university and no longer exists.  Here are some ideas.

                          Maybe the library could be built as part of a federal prison. 

                            For other things to be named after Trump I would suggest a landfill

                                                                             A Cemetary


                                                   A  Presidential Sewer


Presidential toxic waste dump


  This boy was killed by American Blackwater guards in Iraq who were just pardoned by Trump.  It is what America represents to the world today.  May we never again have a criminal president who pardons people who participated in genocide.

      I have to ask Trump supporters this question, "What makes you stand behind a person who mocks a disabled person, degrades women, bullies everyone who disagrees with them, misuses every power given to them, and plays golf while 300,000 of his citizens die?"  Is your own personal life so bad that you have come to this?

Friday, December 25, 2020

A message from Christmas past: Peace and war are a conscious choice


    The insanity and inhumanity that people can be led to have never been shown more clearly than the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day truce in 1914 during World War I between the Germans and Allied Forces.  The trench warfare of WWI saw many soldiers who were wounded or dead being left in the "no man's land" between the trenches separating the two armies.  After trying for weeks to kill each other the truce allowed the two warring armies to lay down their arms and fraternize with each other for one day.  Here is how Wikipedia describes it:

"The Christmas truce (German: Weihnachtsfrieden; French: Trêve de Noël) was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front of the First World War around Christmas 1914.

The truce occurred only five months into the war. Hostilities had lulled as leadership on both sides reconsidered their strategies following the stalemate of the Race to the Sea and the indecisive result of the First Battle of Ypres. In the week leading up to 25 December, FrenchGerman, and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In some areas, men from both sides ventured into no man's land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, while several meetings ended in carol-singing. Men played games of football with one another, creating one of the most memorable images of the truce.

The truce reflected a mood of "live and let live", where infantry close together would stop overtly aggressive behavior and often engage in small-scale fraternization, engaging in conversation or bartering for cigarettes. In some sectors, there were occasional ceasefires to allow soldiers to go between the lines and recover wounded or dead comrades; in others, there was a tacit agreement not to shoot while men rested, exercised or worked in view of the enemy. The Christmas truce was particularly significant due to the number of men involved and the level of their participation—even in quiet sectors, dozens of men openly congregating in daylight was remarkable—and are often seen as a symbolic moment of peace and humanity amidst one of the most violent events of human history."

    After the one day truce, the soldiers resumed trying to kill the men that they had just enjoyed fraternizing with hours before.  All because some leaders decided war was preferable to peace.  Something to reflect on this Christmas 106 years later. 

Here is a link to watch the truce.


     John Lennon's message.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Jim Henson 1936-2020


    I was sad to learn of the death of Jim Henson.  For those of us that worked next to Jim when he was the head of the Office of Human Rights or when he was the Assistant County Solicitor for our Department Jim was always good for a warm welcome and a smiling face.  I have met few people as warm and cheerful as Jim.  Here is the information on Jim from the Baltimore Sun.

"James E. Henson Sr., a retired attorney who had been Howard County’s pioneering African American assistant county solicitor and headed its Human Rights Office, died of cancer and congestive heart failure complications Dec. 13 at his Virginia home. The former Ellicott City resident was 84.

Born in Alexandria, Virginia, he was a great nephew of Matthew Alexander Henson, co-discoverer of the North Pole with Robert E. Peary on April 6, 1909.

Another relative was the Rev. Josiah Henson, a runaway slave whose early life was depicted by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

The son of Clarence McGuire and Katherine Henson, he was a 1954 graduate of Parker Gray High School. An honor student, he earned varsity letters in football, basketball and track.

Mr. Henson joined the Air Force and retired 20 years later with the rank of master sergeant.

In a 1992 Sun story, he said he did not encounter as much racial prejudice as others might at the same time, he said, because as an Air Force football star — “a tailback who made his share of touch downs” — he was well known and well liked.

“Sports was always a good outlet for some of the things I repressed on the job,” he said.

He showed up in uniform one day for a new assignment in passenger service and was told instead to put on fatigues and become part of a work detail.

Mr. Henson became an air transportation supervisor responsible for passenger service. While in the service, he was awarded the Air Force Commendation medal, the Bronze Star for meritorious service and the Meritorious Service Medal.

After leaving the military he earned a business degree at the University of Maryland, College Park and was a 1979 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.

He clerked for Baltimore Circuit Judge Milton B. Allen and later worked for the Baltimore law firm, Singleton, Dashiell and Robinson.

In 1981 Jean Toomer, then the Howard County human rights director, told Mr. Henson of an opening in the county office of law. He subsequently became the county government’s first black attorney or assistant county solicitor.

In 1992 then Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker named Mr. Henson to head the county Human Rights Office.

In the Sun story, Mr. Ecker said that Mr. Henson’s ability to work with people and solve problems that led him to appoint to the human rights job.

“Jim had the edge among three outstanding finalists because of his working with people — his already knowing people in the community,” Mr. Ecker said. “That’s probably what tipped the scales in his favor. In my checking around, all I heard were good things.”

The news story described Mr. Henson as “dapper and quick with a smile.” It said that he preferred persuasion to confrontation.

“He would rather ask someone as a friend to do what he believes is right than apply pressure,” the 1992 article said.

One of the few times that he recalled being confrontational was in 1964. He and another black man had taken six children to newly integrated Folly Beach near Charleston, South Carolina. They were heckled by the crowd.

“They threw a paper cup with ice at us, and it splashed on the kids,” Mr. Henson said. “The

crowd was jeering, and my friend said, ‘Hit me, but don’t touch the kids!’

“As we walked past two policemen, somebody threw a rock. It hit the back of my station wagon. I whirled around and shouted, ‘Who threw that rock?’ Mr. Henson said. “Fortunately, no one said anything. We got in the car and quickly pulled off.”

He said his first task as human rights director was to examine public policy in terms of discrimination. “We have a fourfold duty to cultivate, protect, enforce and encourage,” he said.

In 1996, Mr. Henson said, “We’re making progress [in Howard County], but we still have our problems in this community. We’ve got a long way to go before we become the utopia that people are seeking.”

He retired from the post in 1997.

He also co-authored a 2013 book, “African Americans of Alexandria: Beacons of Light in the 20th Century.”

Saturday, December 19, 2020

I guess when nothing else will work

    With all of the court challenges to the election not working Rudy Guiliani has indicated that the next step in Trump trying to stay in power is that Trump is planning to change his name to Joseph Biden.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A "real" stolen election?


      While the Trump supporters demonstrated in DC this past weekend about the election being stolen from Trump we should remember back 20 years when a presidential election was decided by one Republican vote.

     It might seem like ancient history today but it really was a case of how our electoral college can create a partisan election result in a close election.  First, we should remember that Al Gore received over 500,000 more votes than George Bush.  Florida came down to a statistical tie with only a few hundred votes separating the two candidates and many ballots were hard to determine correctly because of the ballots having a punch method of recording your vote.  This led to the possibility that voters may not have pushed the "chad" completely through in recording their vote. 

 The "hanging chad" became the difference in choosing our next President.  

    Because the vote was so close mandatory recounts were begun in various counties.  The Bush lead of over 1,000 votes started to decline to 543 votes as more ballots were closely examined by hand to determine if a "hanging chad" had failed to record a vote.  As this slow process proceeded the mandatory deadlines for recording a final vote count started to come up.  The two campaigns took the dispute to the courts.  The Bush campaign wanted the counting to stop and the Gore campaign wanted the counting to continue.  The Gore campaign won the case with the Florida Supreme Court but then the Bush filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court.  In a strictly partisan 5 to 4 verdict with the 5 Republican-appointed justices voting to support the Bush campaign's argument that the voting should stop and the election was over.  A swing of one vote and the recount proceeding might have change the election in favor of Gore in Florida.  One changed vote from a Supreme Court justice might have elected Gore instead of Bush.  This case has been used to make the case that justices can find a legal basis to justify their political beliefs.  I don't doubt that the vote would have been reversed if Bush was behind and wanted to have the counting continue.

     What is different that year is you had a losing candidate who put his country above his own personal ambition.  Gore didn't call out to his supporters to take to the streets.  Very different than our present narcissist who lost by 7 million votes and 74 electorial votes. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

The damage caused by a non-governing party


      We only have one political party, the Democrat Party, that believes in the need to actually govern.  In watching the Republican party, controlled by Trump, we see how the party is nothing more than an oppositional party with no real interest in using government to handle a pandemic.  While other Western developed countries have taken a national approach in handling the pandemic the United States has a government that has 50 state plans to address the pandemic.  The virus has shown that state boundaries are not recognized by the virus.  We have enough Republican governors to ensure that the virus will always find states with limited social restrictions.  

    We are now in a situation that reminds us of the old analogy of the boiling frog that I have mentioned before.  Basically, the analogy relates how a frog in warming water will not jump out until it is too late and they are boiled to death.  The hesitancy of governors to impose social restrictions soon enough to have an impact on the spread of the virus will only mean that when the crisis comes the impact of the restrictions will be too late to control the spread.  The point that we are at now with the virus means that anything less than a complete shut down with severe travel restrictions has any chance of controlling the virus.  Keeping businesses open on a limited basis only delays the inevitable.   The availability of the vaccines to end the pandemic will be months off to reach the 70% vaccinated level.  Reducing the spread now will mean that we reach that level sooner not later.  

     Now if we only had a governing party to take the necessary actions.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The new political reality of the increasing trend of "work from home"


      I have always been interested in reading predictions for the future.  Growing up I remember waiting for the first Parade Magazine of the year for Jeanne Dixon's predictions for the upcoming year.  She claimed to have predicted the Kennedy assassination.  Of course, that was after the fact! Anyway, we always kept the copy of her predictions to then read again on New Year's Eve to see how much she got right.  She was always careful enough to make predictions with a high probability of being correct.  Predictions for major earthquakes in parts of the World that were earthquake-prone were common.  Political turmoil in the Middle East was another example.  We stop reading her predictions after seeing that she missed more often hit on a correct specific prediction.

     Our current pandemic has the potential to cause some significant changes that seem easy to predict.  The one I will be watching is how the "work from home" changes where we decide to live in the future.  If you can easily live where you want and still have the job with a company in a far off location then where will people choose to live?  Not having to commute to a job will have significant consequences in population trends.  The Baltimore Sun this morning had an article on how outlying counties in Maryland that were safely Republican are now trending more politically blue.  People are moving farther from the blue cities and carrying their political voting patterns to the traditionally Republican counties.  This happened in Howard County with the development of Columbia in the 1960s and '70s.  I still remember the time in the 1970s when Howard County had two Democrat clubs, one conservative (Ellicott City) and one liberal (Columbia).  Now over 70 percent of the votes in Howard County went for Biden this year.

     So what happens when those working liberal city dwellers start to be able to live in the mountains or beach towns that used to be solid Republican areas?  You don't have to wait till retirement age to live in these outlying areas any longer.  Look at nationally what has happened to Arizona and Colorado.  Or in Maryland with Frederick or Charles counties.  You maybe can have your city-based job and your acre lot without the commute.

     This new reality has caused the Republican party to become less democratic as the population demographics move in favor of the Democrats.  Thinking that the Democrats stole an election takes less of a mind shift than recognizing the new political realities.  Voter suppression and gerrymandering on the part of the Republicans will only get more dramatic and cause political turmoil with each election defeat.  What Trump has delivered to the Republican Party is only the culmination of the drift to the right of the Republican Party since Nixon's Southern Strategy of the 1970s.  Demographics and new pandemic work/life realities spell trouble for that strategy and Republicans in the future.  As for me, I want to live long enough to see national health insurance in the United States and have us join the rest of the modern world.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

I almost got scammed on the phone last week!!

     I think of myself as someone who is sophisticated enough to recognize a phone scam.  I remember getting Nigerian email scams years ago and couldn't believe how well they worked.  Well, last week I fell for a phone scam for 15 minutes.  I don't usually pick up calls on our landline because it is usually just solicitors.  I picked up last week's call because it had an area code of one of my kids.  When I picked up a voice said "Hi, know who this is?"  I mistakenly said my grandson's name.  At first, I was surprised that he would call me out of the blue but I was caught off guard.  I didn't seem to recognize his voice but called me by my unusual "grandfather" name.  He said he had a cold and his voice has changed in the past year.  He asked me how I was doing and how Grandma was doing.  After a little chit-chat, he mentioned he had been in a minor accident but he was OK and the other car only had a little damage to their door.  I knew he didn't have his driver's license so I asked why he was in trouble unless he was driving.  He said his friend let him drive.  It was starting to get weird but I played along.  I asked where he was now and he said he was at the courthouse and had a lawyer who planned to get him off with just a $50 fine.  At this point, the red flags were going off in my mind.  Why would someone be in court the same day as the accident and how did he get a lawyer so quick.  I asked if he had talked to his parents yet and he said he was too embarrassed.  I asked to speak to his attorney.  Another older sounding person came on the call.  I asked how my grandson found him so quickly and he said the police had given my grandson his phone number.  Before there was any request for me to wire any money I told the person who was supposedly a lawyer that I thought this was a scam and I would be reporting the phone number.  He became indignant and said that he was only trying to help my grandson.  I finally told him I was hanging up because I wasn't stupid.

     So afterward I wondered how he connected me to my grandson.  My grandson and I don't share a social network platform.  And how did they know that my grandson had a special name for me?  Then it was pointed out to me that the Baltimore Sun had carried an article 12 years ago about grandchildren having special names for their grandparents.  I had been contacted by a Sun reporter who was doing the article because I was running a grandparent program in Baltimore.  It was a coincidence that my only grandchild at the time had a special name for me.  The reporter interviewed a couple of other grandparents that I referred but the article focused on me and even used one of the pictures I supplied them.  This was back before we thought about not having a picture of a child in the newspaper.  My grandson was excited to see his picture in the paper.  Little did I think that the article would come back in such a notorious way in the future.  In relating my story to others I found out how they too had scam calls about bailing out a grandchild.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Reposting one of my past blogs

    I have only re-posted one of my blogs a few times but I wanted to do one that I did a few years ago because I saw the same thing last week and it is always an amazing thing to see.  Here is Columbia's Stonehenge


New York City has a similar effect once a year.

Yosemite has this spectacular event with the Horseshoe Falls once a year.


Monday, December 7, 2020

What it is like living in a nursing home these days

    I happened to talk with someone the other day who still discredited the COVID virus as something to not be concerned about.  They said "As Roosevelt said, 'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.'"  And then I read this article in the Washington Post.


    I read the article from the nursing home resident while I was watching a recording of the Trump speech in Georgia.  I like to troll the Fox News channel just to know what the Trump cult is talking about.  While 280,000 Americans are dead from COVID it is still amazing to watch thousands of people show up unmasked to hear their cult leader. What are they missing in their lives that they fall for this demagogue? 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Robert Tennenbaum, who next to Jim Rouse, was responsible for the development of Columbia


     Jim Rouse is justifiably the "Father of Columbia" but Bob Tennenbaum is a close second to what we see everyday living in Columbia.  Bob Tennenbaum was the one to develop how Rouse's vision was translated into the fabric of what Columbia is.  Rouse's vision of creating a community designed for people first is only as good as the people who translate that into a practical reality.  Here is the obit from the Baltimore Sun:

"Robert “Bob” Tennenbaum, a retired city planner who was a pioneer in the development of Columbia and later worked to revive downtown Baltimore’s old shopping district, died of stroke complications Nov. 18 at Sinai Hospital. The Columbia resident was 84.

Born in Vienna a few years before the start of World War II, he was the son of Marcus Tennenbaum and his wife, Ernestine. He and his parents immigrated to New York City, where he grew up. He was a graduate of Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art, earned a bachelor’s degree the Pratt Institute School of Architecture and had a master’s degree from Yale University.

He married Marcelle Simone Aiss in 1961 and settled in Washington. He was an urban designer for the National Capital Planning Commission before joining the Rouse Company in Baltimore to work on designing and developing Columbia. He was a chief architect-planner.

“My father was clever and a logical thinker,” said his daughter, Eve Margol of Olney. “He could always keep his emotions in check. He was a really good dad and no matter who you were, he took the time to listen to you. His heart was always in the right place.”

According to biographical notes he prepared, Mr. Tennenbaum was responsible for Columbia’s 13,680-acre master plan based on preserving the natural environment. He was additionally in charge of selecting 10 village locations, including village centers and nonresidential sites. After zoning was approved, he planned concepts for four early villages and architectural concepts for three village centers.

He also planned multifamily residential projects, and he designed his own midcentury modern home there.

He also directed a graduate community planning program at the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore.

Mr. Tennenbaum moved on to a new quasi-public Market Center Development Corp. in downtown Baltimore that focused on Lexington Market and Howard Street.

In his notes, he said numerous apartments were developed in 16 vacant historic buildings, and new infill-buildings added throughout the area in the 1980s and 1990s.

He designed a series of circular street lighting canopies over Howard Street and a glockenspiel-like attraction for an addition to Lexington Market.

He won first place for the design of the Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial competition and wrote on the subject of planning.

He later became director of real estate development for the University of Maryland’s downtown Baltimore campus. He worked on the early stages of refurbishing the 1914 Hippodrome Theatre, once owned by the University of Maryland.

Mr. Tennenbaum was active in the Maryland chapter of the American Planning Association and served as chapter president from 1978 through 1980 when a national convention was held in Baltimore.

Mr. Tennenbaum donated his time as an architect and artist for the Lubavitch Center for Jewish Education in Columbia. He designed a multi-use building for religious services and schoolrooms, including 23 stained glass windows.

In late 2016, the ground was broken for the Jewish Discovery Pavilion, a modern building designed for education, religious services, and community activities.

He painted in watercolors and acrylics and exhibited in numerous galleries. His work is installed in the Baltimore Design School. He also donated 70 abstract city map paintings to the Howard County Library System.

He retired as an architect in January 2009. In 2013, he was elected by the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects to be a member of its College of Fellows.

After the 2009 death of his first wife, Marcelle, a Rouse Co. visual merchandiser, he married Suzon Weber, who died shortly before Mr. Tennenbaum did.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include another daughter, Ann Eisenberg of Jupiter, Florida; a stepson, Clifford Weber of Philadelphia; a sister, Ruth Shein of Pikesville; four grandsons; and two step-granddaughters.

Services were private."


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Wallet Hub names Columbia the safest city in America for the 3rd year in a row


      Jim Rouse would be proud of the city he created when the national awards keep our town as an example of what a city should be like.  "People needs" can be the driver of what a community should be and make a profit too.  Wallet Hub for the 3rd year has recognized our town as the safest in America.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Giving Tuesday

    The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been designated as "Giving Tuesday" for the past few years.   I know I can't get too excited with all the rest of the holiday spending but giving to a charity this time of the year is more satisfying.  We have many worthy organizations here in Howard County but I wanted to highlight 3 of my favorites.

1) Grassroots---Grassroots started out as a crisis intervention agency but they now handle so many different needs it is hard to list all of them.  One that is especially important this time of the year is the Cold Weather Shelter Program.    Check out their website and consider making a donation.

2) Community Action Council (CAC)-- CAC is the other community organization that responds to a wide range of needs for low-income persons in Howard County.  Check out their website

3) Voices for Children- Voices for children provided community advocates for children in the Howard County foster care system.  Check out their website.

     I hope you can find time today to make a donation to one of these organizations or another organization that can use our support.


Monday, November 30, 2020

Saturday, November 28, 2020

COVID surge is here in Howard County


   When November is over the number of cases of COVID-19 will have risen by more than 250% in Maryland and Howard County.  Approximately 50 Americans are now dying every hour. A 9/11 every 3 days. But just another golfing day for Trump.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Merriweather District all decorated for the Holidays and no one around

    The plans for people living and working in the new Merriweather District have probably been impacted by the pandemic.  The District looks like they are ready but no one came.

    Meanwhile, the line of cars on Brokenland Parkway waiting to get a COVID test at 6 am the day before Thanksgiving was 50 or 60 cars long.  The testing didn't begin till 8:30.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

WKRP "Turkey Drop" episode


     You had to have a sense of humor that went to the absurd to enjoy the old sitcom called "WKRP in Cincinnati."  Their Turkey Drop episode in which turkeys were thrown from a helicopter under the impression that turkeys could fly is a classic.  The creator of the show had actually worked at a radio station that had tried something similar only dropping turkeys off the back of a truck with the same result.   Here is the link.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

New Columbia ice rink



OPEN NOVEMBER 21, 2020 – JANUARY 31, 2021

"The new Color Burst Ice Rink at Merriweather District is opening for the 2020 – 2021 season! We’re excited to bring more joy to Downtown Columbia this winter with a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for the entire family. Our full-sized rink welcomes you with festive décor – the perfect place for date nights and family outings. There will be plenty of Holiday celebrations and themed events throughout the season, as well as music, food trucks, and the nearby Symphony of Lights at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Skate up an appetite? Head over to a local restaurant for a great, safe indoor or grab-and-go meal. See you on the ice!

For the safety and convenience of all guests, a limited number of visitors will be admitted to the ice rink every 30-minutes.  All visits must be reserved in advance by purchasing a timed ticket(s) online. All visitors will receive a confirmation email with a safety waiver and a receipt.  Entry is not guaranteed to those who walk up to purchase tickets. 

Those who attempt the “walk-up” purchase of tickets in-person, will be shown a QR-code to  purchase tickets on their smartphones; if the present time is fully-booked, the guest will be shown other available times to skate."

Sunday, November 22, 2020

This week's funnies

 My quote of the week"

"It’s weird being the same age as old people."

Saturday, November 21, 2020

New chart to determine the spread of COVID by county across the United States


  I have seen many charts that give the situation with COVID-19 in different states but this chart shows your chances of being exposed to someone who has COVID-19 by location and group size. Interesting to see how your chances change due to those factors.

Friday, November 20, 2020

When desperate old vain men lose their "vitality"

    Yesterday the Trump clown show moved on with Rudy Guiliani losing it in a news conference so bad that his hair dye started to run down his face.  With the way Rudy was sweating will we soon learn he is COVID positive? For this, he is getting paid $20,000 a day?

    We didn't think our Country could sink any lower than our "top clown" having a spray tan problem.