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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

My image of Trump during his performance at the debate


     How to you send a 74-year-old President to his room?

P.S. 1
     The debate is the best case for having more women elected officials.  I can't imagine two women treating each other in that manner.   Made me embarrassed to be a man.

Plastic goes out starting tomorrow

From Councilperson Rigby:

"Starting October 1, all stores in Howard County who provide customers a disposable plastic bag at the point of sale are required to charge 5 cents per bag. Customers cannot be charged if they use their own bag for their purchases.
Some residents have asked about whether it's safe to use reusable bags during COVID-19. As scientists learn more about coronavirus, there is growing consensus in the scientific community that reusable bags can be used safely with cleaning.
Companies and local businesses have taken the initiative to reduce plastic bag consumption in our community. I was excited to see that
in Columbia announced recently that they will stop using all single-use plastic bags in their store as part of their "commitment to solving the environmental challenges that come with using single-use bags."
You can find more information on Howard County's plastic bag fee and plastics reduction program here:
Have questions? Please email them to "


Monday, September 28, 2020

Howard County's COVID situation Sept. 28

 From the County Exec:

" As of 9:00 a.m. today and according to the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), Howard County’s 7-day average positivity rate is 1.83% and has remained well below the Governor’s and CDC’s recommendation of 5%. 

To date, we have administered 135,712 tests, and tested 87,623 county residents, which is 27.2% of our population. The average age of cases is trending up to 39 years of age and 67% of all cases to date are under the age of 50. Additionally, our 7-day average of cases per 100,000 of our population is at 5.4, according to MDH. Our COVID-19 hospitalizations have remained steady, and we currently have 14 COVID-19 patients in both our ICU and Acute Care units."


FYI: If you have a business you can deduct hair care if you work it out right

   We are all learning more about business deductions from Trump's tax returns.  Apparently, he deducted $70,000 for hair care. 

" “Mr. Trump classifies much of the spending on his personal lifestyle as the cost of business.” Perhaps the most egregious example of this trend is a $70,000 sum he spent on hairstyling during The Apprentice, ......."

    Did he also deduct his orange face spray?

Sunday, September 27, 2020

After the Columbia Mall what's next?

    With many department stores going out of business and online shopping hurting retail stores how long can the Columbia Mall hang on?  I have written about this before but the pandemic has accelerated the demise of enclosed malls.  The era of the enclosed malls is coming to an end even as they try to re-invent themselves to a different reality.  For some, they have become more "market street" in concept instead of enclosed malls.  The Columbia Mall has moved in this direction in the past few updates with more of its stores and restaurants outside the enclosed part.  With the addition of a Lidl grocery store and the entertainment center replacing the Sears store, the Mall is recognizing that you can no longer replace one department store for another.  Can JC Pennys be far behind?

   With online shopping growing each year the retail store concept for a mall, what should replace the acres of stores and parking lots that are a blot on Town Center?

    We might have an opportunity to develop an asset for our Town Center that is more relevant for our community than an outdated mid-Twentieth Century concept.  In fact, it may revive an idea that Jim Rouse had for a feature in Town Center.  Some early planners for Columbia had looked at Tivoli Gardens in Denmark as a feature to draw people to the Lakefront.  Here is how the Baltimore Sun talked about this:

"Mort Hoppenfeld, chief planner for the Rouse Co., rhapsodized at length in 1965 about Tivoli, praising its walkways, bridges, trees, gardens, fountains and sculptures, and foreseeing such elements along Columbia's lakefront.

"There could be a Japanese tea garden complete with a tea house and restaurant … a Chinese pagoda, or perhaps one from Thailand or Siam serving oriental food. There would be a Ferris wheel, carousel and pedal boats … but not quaint or thematic," he wrote, wanting to steer clear of a Disney-like amusement park atmosphere."

       The fountain by the Lakefront and the bell tower are the only parts of that idea that exist.  What if the concept could be looked at again and updated?  What could the area look like?


  Think of a Central Park for Columbia with restaurants like Tavern on the Green? How about the park connected to the Lakefront with an elevated park like the High Line in New York?

    I recognize some of the concerns and questions that would be raised to these ideas.  Columbia is not New York City.  Town Center needs a strong commercial base to be viable.  My responses would be that Columbia needs to start to think of itself as a city rather than a suburb.  In terms of Town Center being a commercial hub maybe office parks like Gateway are a more appropriate place than Town Center.  Town Center can be thought of as a place for people than commerce.  Maybe my idea of a "Central Park for Columbia" might be a better attraction for people and an asset to our community than the Columbia Mall.  Who moves to Columbia because of the Columbia Mall?  Wasn't Columbia designed for people first?  I will leave it to others to blend the economic viability with the people-centered features.  Too bad Jim Rouse isn't around to blend the two for this vision of Columbia 2.0.  We will have to figure it out by ourselves this time.


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Howard County may lose the Route 150 line and three MARC Camden line runs, and changes to 1 Baltimore Commuter Bus route and 4 D.C. routes

 From the Columbia Patch:

"Residents may see several transportation services end due to budget cuts revealed in the Maryland Department of Transportation's financial plan presented Thursday night. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball addressed Maryland Transportation Secretary Slater and other Maryland elected officials during the presentation of the Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP), Maryland's six-year capital budget for transportation projects.

Ball emphasized his disappointment in budget reductions for transit in Howard County and the Baltimore region, which particularly impacts the workforce without access to other alternatives.

"We understand firsthand that budget and revenues at all levels of government are very tight; however, we must fund our most urgent priorities and ensure that residents have equitable access to public transportation and Complete Streets," Ball said in a statement. "Howard County, which is nearly evenly divided in our commuter patterns to and from Baltimore and Washington, would benefit from a reevaluation of the cuts, so they are more fairly balanced across the state. Despite the financial challenges, the MDOT has the opportunity and responsibility to consider how our statewide investment in transit can be maintained to address the critical needs of our residents no matter where they live."


Friday, September 25, 2020

Guess what this is a picture of?


Scroll down to find out

Picture taken from the Space Station of Washington and Baltimore at night.  Can you find Columbia?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Evening the score

     We listen to the frustration and appeals of Democrats to find enough Republican senators to stop the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice until there has been a decision in the election.  We should never expect Republicans to solve this issue in a non-partisan manner.  Democrats should decide to take control of the issue and work to win the presidential election and take back the Senate.  Then, Congress should pass a law expanding the Court by 4 more members and have President Biden sign the new law.  Biden should nominate Merritt Garland and 3 women to make the Court the liberal court that we should have if the Republicans hadn't taken that away with their partisan politics.  I know that Biden has said he doesn't support expanding the court but let's see how he feels after the Supreme Court kills Obamacare.   Anyone who thinks this politicizes the Court should remember that Republicans did that in the 2000 election.  The Republicans have lost the majority of our citizens and only have an interest in holding power by controlling the courts.  Democrats have the majority on most of today's issues and shouldn't give up that power to the diminishing numbers of Republicans.  I am tired of only one side using their power to influence the courts. Democrat officials quit complaining and take back the power.  Time for the Dems to play hardball or get out of the game.


   77% of Americans support keeping Roe v. Wade

   55% of Americans support Obamacare

   62% of Americans think that the Bader seat should be filled by the president elected in November

P.S. 1

"the current court is an “affront to democracy: 15 of the last 19 Supreme Court justices were nominated by Republicans, despite the fact that Republicans have lost the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. Four of the five conservatives currently on the court were appointed by Republicans who took office despite losing the popular vote.”

COVID-19 in Howard County 9/20/20


Monday, September 21, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be the first woman to lie in state in the US Capitol

 Here is the press notice from Speaker Pelosi.

A look into the future with COVID-19

     In World War II 291,557 American soldiers died.  On Dec. 5th this year The Institute for Health Metrics has projected the number of Americans who have died from COVID-19 will pass this number.  On January 4th we will pass the number of American soldiers killed in both WWII and WWI.  By Inauguration Day you can add the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam Way to those total deaths from COVID-19.   So what do Republicans think the situation is?  In a survey, 40% of Republicans said the worst of the virus was behind us and 76% of Democrats said the worst is still to come.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

It just got REAL!


"May you live in interesting times" just took on a whole different reality.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Fact for today: Some good news


From the Economist:

"ExxonMobil, an oil company included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1928, has been kicked off it. With a market capitalisation of $155bn it is worth considerably less than Nike, a shoemaker with a swoosh."


More good news:

"Analysis of federal figures shows that in the year through March 2019, US coal generation fell by 36 percent. And according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the three main utility-scale renewable sources—solar, wind and hydropower—produced more power than coal during the first quarter, the first time this has ever been achieved on a quarterly basis."

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Three reforms to make our government work better

      Progressives are frustrated with 3 features of our government that have been used to block the United States from joining the rest of modern democracies in enacting progressive legislation.  One result of the control of our government by undemocratic forces is how poorly we have handled the pandemic by not enacting national methods to address the spread of the virus.

     The first progressive reform is possibly the easiest to change and that is the Senate filibuster rule that has been used to require 60 votes to pass the most progressive legislation.  Originally designed to provide the minority an opportunity to debate their positions it has become a way for conservatives to block progressive legislation.  Of course, it has been used occasionally by progressive but not nearly as often as conservatives.  If the Democrats gain the majority in the Senate they may have an opportunity to finally do away with the filibuster.  

    The second progressive reform is to address ending gerrymandering of legislative districts to block Democrats from being elected.  This technique has been used to disenfranchise minority voters in states that have a changing demographic and have the white minority remain in control.  Again this has been used by Democrats to control power too as they have in Maryland but it is much more often used by conservative Republicans.  Having legislative districts drawn by non-partisan groups makes more sense. 

   Finally ending the Electoral College is long overdue.  Up until the last 20 years, it's undemocratic effect has been an issue as the candidate that won the popular vote also won the Electoral College.  We now have seen how twice this institution has caused the loser of the popular vote to win the presidency.  Once again this has worked against the more progressive candidate.  Being part of the Constitution will make this reform very hard to change in our divided Country.  Getting 3/4th of the states to agree on anything today means that we may be prevented to ever change the Constitution again.  The success of the "work around" of the Constitution with enough states pledging to award their electoral votes to the winner of the popular votes seems to only be possible when enough red states are turned blue to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to make this work.


   I thought of including term limits as another reform but thinking about it this change would probably have a neutral impact on moving progressive legislation.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Presidential legacies

     How often have we heard Trump talk about the "greatest" or "best" during one of his rallies?  I have a feeling the legacy he leaves will not match the 44th's legacy.  Here is Obama's legacy:

"The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled.
General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.
While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.
Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
He drew down the number of troops from 180,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan to just 15,000, and increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He launched a program called Opening Doors which, since 2010, has led to a 47 percent decline in the number of homeless veterans.
He set a record 73 straight months of private-sector job growth.
Due to Obama’s regulatory policies, greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 12%, production of renewable energy more than doubled, and our dependence on foreign oil was cut in half.
He signed The Lilly Ledbetter Act, making it easier for women to sue employers for unequal pay.
His Omnibus Public Lands Management Act designated more than 2 million acres as wilderness, creating thousands of miles of trails and protecting over 1,000 miles of rivers.
He reduced the federal deficit from 9.8 percent of GDP in 2009 to 3.2 percent in 2016.
For all the inadequacies of the Affordable Care Act, we seem to have forgotten that, before the ACA, you could be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition and kids could not stay on their parents’ policies up to age 26.
Obama approved a $14.5 billion system to rebuild the levees in New Orleans.
All this, even as our own Mitch McConnell famously asserted that his singular mission would be to block anything President Obama tried to do.
While Obama failed on his campaign pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, that prison’s population decreased from 242 to around 50.
He expanded funding for embryonic stem cell research, supporting groundbreaking advancement in areas like spinal injury treatment and cancer.
Credit card companies can no longer charge hidden fees or raise interest rates without advance notice.
For most years, Obama threw a 4th of July party for military families. He held babies, played games with children, served barbecue, and led the singing of “Happy Birthday” to his daughter Malia, who was born on July 4.
Welfare spending is down: for every 100 poor families, just 24 receive cash assistance, compared with 64 in 1996.
Obama comforted families and communities following more than a dozen mass shootings. After Sandy Hook, he said, “The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.”
Yet, he never took away anyone’s guns.
He sang Amazing Grace, spontaneously, at the altar.
He was the first president since Eisenhower to serve two terms without personal or political scandal.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize."


Saturday, September 12, 2020

I'm "in" with Trump!!

Just got this email from the Trump campaignI haven't contributed anything to the campaign but it doesn't seem to matter. 

This email is intended for Duane.

Do not forward.


This email is for REAL PATRIOTS ONLY!

You’ve been identified as one of President Trump’s fiercest and most dedicated supporters, and according to your donor file, you’d make an excellent addition to the Trump 1000 Club.

For a short time, when you become a member of the Trump 1000 Club, we’ll even give you PRIORITY-ACCESS to get one of the President’s OFFICIAL Trump 1000 Dollar Bills.

The President wants YOU and every other member of our exclusive Trump 1000 Club to have something that you can remember forever, which is why he had the incredible idea of creating these limited-edition Trump 1000 Dollar Bills.

These never-before-seen Trump 1000 Dollar Bills are for Trump 1000 Club members ONLY, so do not pass this information on to anyone.

Please contribute $35 or more RIGHT NOW to join the Trump 1000 Club and we’ll send you one of our limited-edition Trump 1000 Dollar Bills. >>

 Trump 1000 Club

Weekend funnies


Friday, September 11, 2020

Maryland's ranking on diversity among all 50 states

    I wasn't surprised to find out that Maryland was ranked 7th among states on diversity.  We have urban, suburban and rural areas that each have their distinctive demographics.  While Maryland is a relatively wealthy and highly educated state because of the Washington suburbs (in which Howard County should be included) we also have some struggling inner-city areas of Baltimore.  It should also not be surprising to learn that California is ranked number 1 in diversity and West Virginia is ranked last.  Diversity apparently in some cases leads to prosperity and the lack of diversity leaves a state poorer.  Here is the article on the rankings

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Joe Biden may become the 47th president and not the 46th

    Trump names Pence head of operations in transition team shakeup

     One of the most surprising news to come out of Michael Cohen's book this week is his speculation of what may happen if Trump loses the election.  He thought that it might be possible that Trump would resign and have Pense become President to pardon him in a deal like what Nixon got.  Would Pense be willing to become a short term 46th President and end any political career he would have or want to enter the 2024 race?  One thing is for sure there will be a lot of pardoning going on after the election.  It will be the final result of having a criminal administration.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Cal Ripkin-My family will always be linked to this Baltimore sport's team hero

   On This Day In Baseball History: September 6, 1995 | The Starting Nine

     The next two days in Baltimore will be linked to the 25th anniversary of Cal Ripkin Jr.'s breaking of Lou Gerhig's record for most consecutive major league baseball games played.  On September 5th Cal tied Gerhig's record games 2130 and he broke the record games 2131 on September 6th. This record is considered the hardest sport's record to break and in a poll of sports fans it was selected as the most memorable sports moment of all time.

    Our family has been indirectly and directly tied to Cal Ripkin Jr.   Cal was born August 24, 1960, one day before I turned 10 and one of my daughters shares the same August 24th birthdate.   Growing up baseball was a passion and I played almost every Spring and Summer day as a kid as we had a baseball field across from our house.  Most of the games were pickup games among kids in town but eventually many of us moved on to organized baseball with Little League, Teen baseball and high school baseball.  As an adult, the lack of adult baseball leads most baseball players to softball that I played for 22 years.

     Moving to the Baltimore area in 1977 and looking to follow a baseball team the Baltimore Orioles seemed like the logical choice to adopt as the team to follow.  In 1981 Cal Ripkin joined the Orioles and because he played shortstop, my playing position, I started to follow his progress in the box score each day.  When he was selected as Rookie of the Year and followed it up with Most Valuable Player the next year it cemented my interest in following his career.

      As my daughters started to play softball my following of Cal Ripkin became their interest too.  Going to Oriole games at Camden Yards became a family event.  Wearing number 8 became the number that every player in the Baltimore area wanted to wear.  For one of my daughter's 16th birthday her choice to celebrate was to go to an Oriole game with friends.  What she didn't know was that I had them driven to Camden Yards in a limousine and I still remember her look when the limousine pulled up in the driveway.  I had also gotten tickets from a friend behind home plate in the row right behind Cal's family.

    Before the 1995 season began I looked at the Oriole schedule and counted the games until Cal would tie and break the record.  If everything went right September 5th and 6th would be the games to attend and fortunately the Orioles were in Baltimore for those games.  It was possible that rainouts and makeup games could have thrown those dates off as the right games.  I went to the Hechts store in the Mall that had a Ticketron office on the first day tickets went on sale and got in line when the office opened at 10 am. Needless to say, everyone else in line was there to buy Oriole tickets for those dates.  I felt fortunate to get 2 tickets in left field for both dates.  Tickets for those dates sold out by mid-morning.   I held my breath that nothing would change the record-breaking tieing and breaking dates. 

    I had been to many sports events over the years but I had never experienced the magic of attending those games.  There was something electric in the air for both games.  Everyone knew that they were going to witness one of the greatest sports records ever.  Most sports moments happen unexpectedly but not this moment.  To top the evenings off Cal hit home runs both nights that landed a few rows in front of us in left field.   The night he hit the home run in the 2131 game a man with a wad of cash rushed up to the person who caught the ball and wanted to buy the ball.  The person who caught the ball was quickly escorted by security guards out of the stands.  He later gave the ball to Cal and received a bat and signed ball in return.  The person who caught the home run in the 2130 game sold his at auction for $41,000.

   As we left the stadium both nights baseball collectors tried to buy our tickets because they knew the tickets were worth money.  The farther you went in the parking lot the higher the price was.  I turned down $75 for each ticket.  I later framed some pictures and the tickets for each of my daughters to have to remember the night.


     Not only does Ripkin hold the consecutive game record but also holds the consecutive innings played record.  Cal's father was the Oriole manager at the time this streak ended.  He probably was the one person who could have had the courage to end that streak.  He thought it was needed to continue the game streak.

 From June 1982 through September 1987, Ripken played in 8,243 consecutive innings. The player whose record he broke played during the 19th century, George Pinkney (5,152 consecutive innings from 1885-1890 for the Brooklyn Bridegrooms).

P.S. 1

More info on Ripkin's records