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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Cutting off your nose to spite your face--a pandemic of the unvaccinated

 



     We all had trouble understanding how a cult figure like Jim Jones in 1978 could get his followers to drink poisoned Kool-Aid.  Little did we know that someday we would draw parallels to an American president.  Now we see our current cult figure, Donald Trump, and his Republican followers, resisting getting vaccinated or wear a mask that will end up killing some of his cult followers.  Jim Jones killed a couple hundred of his followers, far fewer than the hundreds of thousands of Americans who died because of how Trump mishandled the COVID virus.  Belonging to a cult means giving up your independent mind.  You could call it the "lazy-mind" syndrome.  Don't expect COVID anti-vaccination cult followers to change their minds.  They have an easier time accepting death.

P.S.

     Another similarity between Trump and Jim Jones is that when they felt attacked they sent their followers to kill the people that they saw as their enemies.

P.S. 1

Land of the crazies.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Will "ghost kitchens" do to restaurants what Amazon did to retail stores?

      We have adapted to our virtual world in ways that a few years ago would have seemed unimaginable.  Amazon has been a major disrupter for retail stores.  Think about how smartphones have changed how we organize our lives.  If you are not familiar with what a ghost kitchen is let me share some information.

     I had vaguely heard the term ghost kitchen but had no in-depth knowledge of the concept until one of my grandchildren had a "Mr. Beast" burger delivered when he was over at our house.  You may not have heard of Mr. Beast who is a YouTuber followed by boys in the 9-13 age range.  Don't even get into the whole YouTuber explanation.

     The pandemic has been a boom to home-delivered restaurant meals such as Door Dash.  Even ride services like Uber and Lyft are delivering meals from restaurants.  But even with the delivery of meals restaurants found that they underutilized their kitchens.  With the same overhead for rent, they looked at how they could develop new revenue sources.  Here is where ghost kitchens came in.  A ghost kitchen only exists in a virtual sense.  They have a website like a retail restaurant but you can only order a meal from them online and have it delivered to your home.  The meal is prepared at a real restaurant utilizing their underutilized resources.   Think of a Chinese restaurant making your burger or pizza that was delivered to you.  This is how my grandson got his Mr. Beast burger.  With millions of YouTube followers, he developed his Mr. Beast burger formula and found restaurants that would make his burger for delivery.  One of the restaurants in Columbia signed on with him to make his burger.  We didn't know which restaurant made my grandson's burger because it was ordered through Mr. Beast's website.  The reason why restaurants would sign on with Mr. Beast is that he has millions of followers.  Think of the potential of other celebrities who have millions of followers on Instagram or Facebook realizing this as a new potential source of making money and you can see where this could head.  But you can also see this as a way for someone who wants to start a restaurant but doesn't have the resources to open a retail restaurant. In the past, you might think of starting with a food truck or having a booth at a local event.  Now you can offer new business to restaurants if you can show how making your food brings them new revenue.

      The direction this may move-in is to centralized kitchens like the warehouses developed by Amazon that have the capacity to make many types of food for delivery.  Restaurant meals made this way might cost substantially less than what we now pay in retail restaurants.  This could even be the case with the cost of delivery.  You might think that you would miss going out with friends to your local restaurant? Why not invite them to your house or local park and have your food delivered quicker and cheaper than going to a restaurant that you have difficulty making a reservation for at a convenient time.

      If you think this is far-fetched just remember we would have thought the same thing about Amazon 15 years ago.  Virtual is replacing retail businesses quickly.  Keep your eye out to buy stock in the next Amazon.  It might be with the restaurant business.

    

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Is Lamar Jackson still worth $40 million?

       Hearing that Baltimore Ravens quarterback has now tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time makes me wonder whether the team should invest that much money in someone whose lack of judgment on protecting himself and his teammates is deficient. Lamar is the most exciting athlete we have locally and I will still watch him to see his athletic talent.  I just will have to recognize he is still young and may not have the maturity he will hopefully gain as he grows a little older.

P.S.

     I have never been one to hold up athletes or celebrities as role models (OK, maybe with Cal Ripken) and Lamar is another example to reinforce that reality.  Being famous doesn't require maturity in many cases.  Haven't we just lived through 4 years of that fact?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Support ending homelessness in Howard County

     

      Enjoy noteworthy cuisine & cocktails while supporting an end to homelessness. Cured/18th and 21st are supporting Bridges to Housing Stability on Thursday, July 29th! Cured and 18th & 21st will donate 10% of your order if you mention Bridges when dining in or ordering curbside pickup. Visit Cured/18th & 21st between 11 am – 9 pm on 7/29 and assist families & individuals experiencing homelessness & housing instability. Visit www.bridges2hs.org/event/cured1821 for more information on this fundraising event. 

Thank you for supporting Bridges’ mission, 



#hocoblogs

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Help low income Howard County students with school supplies

 

 The 2020-2021 school year was a challenge for everyone, including students and parents.  While we are approaching a new normal in Howard County, the impact of the pandemic will not quickly disappear for many families.  That is why the students are counting on you again this year. 

 

Do you remember the excitement and tension of the first day of the school year?  If you were fortunate, you had a new school outfit and brand-new school supplies.  Now overlay a Covid-19 pandemic that has changed so much for the educational lives of HCPSS students while exacerbating the pre-existing disparities and digital divides.

 

Prepare for Success, in formal partnership with the Howard County Public School System and the Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC), is now in its 21st year.  PFS is literally facing its biggest challenge ever in terms of the number of students to be served.  Last year, your donation helped serve a record 3,700+ students.  This contrasts to 13,400 students - 22.5% of all HCPSS - who received federal funded school meals and rely on support services like ours.

 

The pandemic is receding in Howard County, but it is still making an impact for many.  Its emotional and economic scars on families and students may linger for years.  This year, more than ever, we all want students to return to the classroom Prepared for Success.

 

We are appealing to you again this year as a past, dependable supporter.  If you are in the position, please consider helping a few more students. As always, 100% of your contribution will go to the bulk purchase of school supplies. The options for donating are: 

 

Donate Online through CAC.  CLICK HERE to be taken to the Community Action Council donor form.  Please select us under "Donor Restriction"

 

Send a check payable to Community Action Council / PFS to:

     Community Action Council, 9820 Patuxent Woods Drive,                             Columbia, MD  21046 

 

The students need and welcome your continued support.

  

Roy and Susan Appletree, Co-Coordinators                                   

 #hocoblogs

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Friday, July 9, 2021

The new form that mass media is heading





   I have lived through a number of forms of mass media.  As a child, I saw the move from radio to television as the most popular form of mass media.  Many of the old radio programs had already made the move of their content from radio to television.  Television of the 1950s and early 1960s was limited to the three major networks--NBC, CBS, and ABC.  Starting in the mid-1960's cable television started to provide a new way to get clearer pictures to areas that had poor reception of the three major network programming.  As cable television grew new cable-only shows developed and the number of shows offered grew beyond the three major network shows.  Specialty cable networks developed for more narrow content viewers.  The Discovery Channel, the Food Channel, ESPN, and CNN were just a few of the cable channels that offered this specialty content.

     If you haven't noticed the days of cable viewing are numbered.  The new means of obtaining mass media is streaming services.  As internet-ready TVs become the norm more of our content will come through streaming apps rather than cable channels.  Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu started the trend away from cable for movies and other forms of mass media content.  The pandemic was a boom to this movement. Google TV, Apple TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV are drawing more people away from cable with their downloadable apps.  Not to be outdone many of the cable channels are seeing this trend and are wanting to stay in the new revenue stream by developing their own streaming services apps with a monthly charge--typically $4.95 a month.  NBC's Peacock, Disney+ and Discovery+ are the way that content that used to be obtained on cable is now being offered on an app with a monthly subscription fee.  You will be able to watch old programs through these streaming services by signing up for their $4.95 premium service.   We will soon exchange a flat monthly cable charge for multiple $4.95 charges for the premium streaming apps we choose. In the future, we may end up paying more for our premium streaming apps than we do for cable.  In a few years, we will look back at cable services the way we now look back at the old TVs with the rabbit ear antennas and three major networks of the 1950s.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Howard County's 2021 Restaurant Week

 With restaurants in Howard County opening for indoor dining, this year's Restaurant Week from July12-25th should give vaccinated residents another way to celebrate the reopening of our County.

Here is the list of restaurants participating this year:

Click here for restaurants and menus of Howard County venues taking part.

#hocoblogs

Friday, July 2, 2021

Just another day of visitors at the US Capitol?

   Yesterday we learned of the indictment against the criminal Trump organization.  The question of where that will all lead is an open issue but if you need evidence that Trump should be prosecuted for insurrection just watch this video story from the New York Times.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Columbia is more than a sleepy suburb now

 


    We are used to having Columbia and Howard County recognized nationally for our quality of life attributes.  With the development of the Merriweather District, we might soon add "cultural community" to those attributes according to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun. 


#hocoblogs

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

States ranked by percentage of residents vaccinated against COVID-19

There is a clear division between the Republican states and the Democratic states.  This is another example of the reality of "two Americas." After Maine, you have to go down to number 22 to find another "red" state.


1. Vermont
Number of people fully vaccinated: 401,475
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 64.34

2. Massachusetts
Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,135,231
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 60.

3. Maine
Number of people fully vaccinated: 804,785
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 59.87

4. Connecticut
Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,104,399
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 59.02

5. Rhode Island
Number of people fully vaccinated: 607,185
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 57.32

6. New Hampshire
Number of people fully vaccinated: 745,875
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 54.86

7. New Jersey
Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,849,487
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 54.6

8. Maryland
Number of people fully vaccinated: 3,250,772
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 53.77

9. Washington
Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,030,435
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 52.93

10. New Mexico
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,100,060
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 52.46

11. New York 
Number of people fully vaccinated: 10,157,661
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 52.21

12. Oregon
Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,176,923
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 51.61

13. Hawaii
Number of people fully vaccinated: 720,874
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 50.91

14. District of Columbia
Number of people fully vaccinated: 357,817
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 50.7

15. Virginia
Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,296,689
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 50.34

16. Minnesota
Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,837,275
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 50.31

17. Colorado
Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,891,061
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 50.2

18. Pennsylvania
Number of people fully vaccinated: 6,209,491
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 48.5

19. California
Number of people fully vaccinated: 19,073,838
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 48.27

20. Delaware
Number of people fully vaccinated: 467,071
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 47.97

21. Wisconsin
Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,791,751
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 47.95

22. Iowa
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,484,804
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 47.06

23. Michigan
Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,602,901
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 46.09

24. Nebraska
Number of people fully vaccinated: 873,493
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 45.16

25. South Dakota
Number of people fully vaccinated: 393,528
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 44.48

26. Illinois
Number of people fully vaccinated: 5,627,021
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 44.41

27. Florida
Number of people fully vaccinated: 9,470,079
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 44.09

28. Ohio
Number of people fully vaccinated: 5,104,871
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 43.67

29. Kentucky
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,885,399
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 42.2

30. Alaska
Number of people fully vaccinated: 305,948
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 41.82

31. Montana
Number of people fully vaccinated: 444,781
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 41.62

32. Kansas
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,194,155
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 40.99

33. Nevada
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,249,921
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 40.58

34. Texas
Number of people fully vaccinated: 11,530,134
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 39.76

35. Indiana
Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,628,986
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 39.05

36. Arizona
Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,839,623
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 39.01

37. North Carolina
Number of people fully vaccinated: 4,053,490
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 38.65

38. North Dakota
Number of people fully vaccinated: 291,678
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 38.27

39. Missouri
Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,335,942

Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 38.06

40. Oklahoma
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,477,077
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 37.33

41. South Carolina
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,904,884
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 37.

42. West Virginia
Number of people fully vaccinated: 654,167
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 36.5

43. Utah
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,150,611
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 35.89

44. Idaho
Number of people fully vaccinated: 630,500
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 35.28

45. Georgia
Number of people fully vaccinated: 3,696,341

Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 34.81

46. Tennessee
Number of people fully vaccinated: 2,358,133
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 34.53

47. Louisiana
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,571,377
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 33.8

48. Wyoming
Number of people fully vaccinated: 194,322
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 33.58

49. Arkansas
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,007,385
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 33.38

50. Alabama
Number of people fully vaccinated: 1,563,573
Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 31.89

51. Mississippi
Number of people fully vaccinated: 859,124

Percentage of population fully vaccinated: 28.87

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Columbia Association stream restoration planned around Columbia

     You may have noticed that many of our streams have major erosion damage that has required dredging of our lakes. 

     I
I have noticed that in a number of areas around Columbia there appears to be work on stream restoration.  These pictures show some work on Vantage Road of a stream that flows into Lake Kittamaqundi.


 Here is some information on this work from John McCoy at CA.

Stream restoration in progress

We first explained the benefits of this stream restoration project a few months ago, before construction equipment came in and trees were removed. Columbia Association’s (CA) Open Space team has some updates to share as we head into the next phase of this work.

Watershed Manager John McCoy has been following the progress on this project since it began. It is one of the larger stream restoration efforts that has taken place on CA’s Open Space. The aesthetics of this part of the project are not lost on McCoy and his team. That said, the long-term environmental benefits are substantial for the stream, our lakes and the Columbia community at large. Plus, the $2.2 million project is being paid for entirely by the state.

The main factor McCoy and crews with Ecotone (the company hired by the State Highway Administration to transform this into a healthier stream system) are trying to combat is erosion. The goal is to restore the stream to a more stable state, which means slowing down the flow and flattening out the steep banks that had been created over time.

This not only returns the waterways in that immediate area back to their original form, but it also prevents sand and sediment from being carried downstream. That material eventually ends up in Wilde Lake and Lake Kittamaqundi, creating the need for large-scale dredging projects. Being proactive with stream restoration efforts limit the potential need for those more expensive, reactionary undertakings in the future. This project in particular is expected to reduce the amount of sediments going into Columbia’s lakes by 30%.

McCoy explains the progress on the stream restoration project firsthand in this video.

 

 

Pretty doesn’t necessary mean healthy

What McCoy refers to as the construction phase of the project is complete. It’s important to remember that just because a waterway is attractive does not mean it’s the healthiest it can be. 

Think about this: Before there was any widespread development in Columbia, our waterways flowed very differently than what we’re used to. Stream edges were naturally graded out so water could overflow onto the land during a rain event, unconfined by steep banks. 

John McCoy shows healthy stream

McCoy gives the example of the stream system in the Howard County Conservancy. As he points out, you can see that waterway has:

  • Low banks
  • Leaf litter
  • Plant coverage
  • Woody debris in the stream (i.e. – sticks, logs, stumps)
  • Rocks of many sizes (sand is not the dominant feature)

Healthy stream with leaf debris

“This is what bugs live under. The bugs feed the fish and the fish feed the mammals and the birds, so it’s a healthy system, and it isn’t all that clean in appearance. It does appear to have a little bit of debris in it, but this is what a healthy stream system looks like.”

Yep, just like us humans, the animal food chain prefers a more solid foundation to their home.

When the project began in the Harpers Choice area, there was a significant drop off into the stream rather than an optimal, gradual slope. McCoy says crews are trying to recreate “flood plain benches” like the ones by the water at the Conservancy so the stream isn’t confined to the steep, eroded banks it was held to before.

John McCoy talks about healthy stream

 

How do you rebuild a healthy stream

When you complete a renovation on your home, there’s often that moment of mess when a homeowner wonders, “Why did I do this?” It is safe to say that some of those who live and work around this project are in that stage right now.

That said, rebuilding anything often takes some tearing down before building up. To restore this stream for the betterment of our community and the nature we’re working to preserve, McCoy points to a number of tools that may seem random, but are actually intentional and useful for creating a wonderful environment in the future.

Rock on

If you look into the stream bed, you may notice rock of all shapes and sizes. That gravel, McCoy says, is an essential part of stabilizing the stream and providing grade control. 

Smaller rocks will keep the floor in place, especially now that sand is not the primary material sitting at the bottom of the stream. Bigger rocks create elements that dam up water and cause it to pool.

The optimal set-up for streams like this one includes what are known as riffles. You might describe them as little rapids. These sections of rock allow for a steady gradient between each pool. McCoy estimates the riffles in the stream are now allowing the water to drop about 18 inches, but in a much more controlled way. What you’ll likely see along the stream is a riffle, then a pool, another riffle and pool, followed by – you guessed it – a riffle and a pool.

Additionally, the rocks also provide an optimal home for insects, and where there are bugs, other wildlife is bound to follow. 

Tree-mendous reuse

There are a few ways Ecotone has been utilizing tree trunks and roots to create new features and help the stream get back to its natural state.

First, large masses of root systems are being held in by fiber mats along the banks of the stream. Why? McCoy says that helps to naturally stabilize those banks until plant material has a chance to grow. It also will help when the current picks up.

“Those root wads help break that force up and reduce the erosive nature of it,” McCoy said.

McCoy says the root wads also make for a nice habitat for fish and other aquatic life.

Second, tree trunks have been methodically laid across the stream to act as what’s known as a spreader.

“When the creek rises to the point where water is in contact with this log, the water begins to flow laterally into the flood plain, and this is used to help get water out into the flood plain, push it out,” McCoy said. “This is one of the primary objectives of the whole project. We’re trying to reconnect this stream to its flood plain.”

Third, just like the large rocks, logs buried in the stream channel for additional grade control.

It’s important to note that CA plans to plant over 1,000 trees in the area surrounding the stream. While it will take time, we are excited to witness the growth of this new forest with the neighbors that cherish the area. 

Floodplain, plain and simple

How is the area a floodplain if the old stream didn’t overflow very often? Well, Howard County has designated the land around the stream as a floodplain, which speaks to the need to recreate the space and let nature do what it was intended to do. The process slows down the water’s flow, allowing sediment to drop out.

“When this project was just starting up, this stream had three-foot banks. They were straight cut down, and the stream had cut down far enough that during a moderate storm event, it would not rise up and get out into the flood plain.” 

Additionally, McCoy says wildlife habitats will be improved by restoring the stream back to its more organic element.

 

What’s next for the stream

Any construction in the area should be completed within the next two to three weeks, weather permitting. While a lot of the woody debris on the site is advantageous to future natural habitats, McCoy is also continuously working with the company to remove some of the unnecessary debris neighbors have been concerned about.

Live stake planting will begin in mid-February followed by the planting of all kinds of native species of shrubs and trees. Then, tree and shrub planting should happen in March or April depending on the weather (see chart below for the number of trees and shrubs we expect to plant). After that, things should green up in time for spring, bringing even more diverse habitats and wildlife in the years to come. Ecotone is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the area for five years, but CA will be active in the space as well, working on deer browse control and helping to ensure plantings are successful.

 

Plantings Planned for Stream Restoration Area

TOTAL TREES – 9,400

TOTAL SHRUBS – 1,241

TOTAL PLANTINGS – 10,641

 

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