Friday, August 31, 2018

PSA



I didn’t write this but I wish I had:

PSA for men-folk: when a woman tells you that your man-friend is an asshole, she doesn’t mean “he has strong opinions” or “he tells inappropriate jokes” she means “he displays toxic/abusive behaviors and I feel unsafe around him.”

Please come up with a better response than “haha yeah he’s always been like that/that’s just the way he is.” 

Now this isn’t specifically a local story. Although, if you live locally and it has happened to you, it feels quite personal. I know it does to me.

I discussed this quote with my older daughter yesterday and her instant recognition of the experience was apparent. She suggested that guys won’t call out other guys for their behavior because it somehow calls their own masculinity into question. I’ve talked about toxic masculinity before. I won’t belabor the point.

If my Facebook “likes” and comments are an accurate representation of my readership, my blog is read almost exclusively by women. I suspect I have more male readers than that. They just don’t show up in the likes or comments. I had many more male commenters when they could still post under false names. Go figure.

While I wonder what the men will be thinking about this quote, and I’d be interested in their input, I’m not getting my hopes up that we’ll be hearing from them. Prove me wrong, guys.

To my women readers: does this ring true for you? How do you deal with this? What kind of response would you like to see instead? 






Thursday, August 30, 2018

Lakefront Woes



This week I have attended professional development in the area of Mind Brain Education. I’m completing an online course in First Aid and CPR which will be followed by in-person hands-on testing. Today brings workshops in Quaker decision making process in the morning, and Mandatory Reporting in the afternoon.

How do you get ready for school?

You’ll forgive me if my brain is a bit fried this morning. I’m sending you over to the Baltimore Business Journal to read about what’s happening with The Still Point at Haven on the Lake. 

Downtown Columbia Spa Closes...

Here’s a blog post offering  another perspective from Harry Schwarz of the HoCoMDcc blog:


The partners operating Haven on the Lake are fighting in court

I attended the groundbreaking event for Haven of the Lake/The Still Point. I have never actually been there since they opened. I’ve heard rumblings about the overall business model but I don’t have any first hand knowledge.

Are you a member at Haven on the Lake? Have you used services at the Still Point? Any observations?




Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Changes


It took very little effort to convince my car to detour off of Route 108 and make the turn into the parking lot at Kendall’s Hardware, where the snowball stand was issuing a siren song in yesterday’s afternoon’s heat and humidity.

I looked at the list of flavors but I already knew what I wanted: watermelon.



I noticed another sign while I was waiting. What could this mean? Is the beloved snowball stand on the verge of changing hands? Might it close forever if they don’t find an owner?


I guess we won’t know until next summer. The suspense is already killing me.

The Ruby Tuesday’s in the River Hill Village Center has closed. Folks are already chatting about their personal choices for a future replacement. Some suggestions: Cava, a real authentic diner, a Chinese restaurant, an IHOP and, most mentioned, Panera. No one seems to want: a bank, a nail salon, or a pizza place.

It will be interesting to see what happens with that space. What would you like to see?

Back in Oakland Mills, Dunkin Donuts has submitted plans for exterior changes to the Columbia Bank building and the general responses I have seen are along the lines of “looks great, bring on the donuts!” I really missing having my bank right there in our Village Center but I will do my best to assuage my sadness with donuts. It’s the least I can do.







Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Spirit



Once a year my high school had the football pep rally. My friends and I were not athletic. We were more the music and theatre geeks. We attended the pep rallies, because, they were required and we weren’t the sort who cut classes. But we endured them. They were not for us. I’m not sure what a pep rally meant to inspire school spirit would have looked like for us. Monty Python skits?

At the beginning of each school year in Howard County we see social media coverage of pep rallies at every school. But not for students; they are for faculty, staff, and admin.   I have seen some skepticism and snark from those in the community finding the rah-rah atmosphere distasteful. They wonder why all this hoopla is necessary. They find it cultish.

Well, there certainly is precedent in schools for pep rallies and school spirit assemblies. That culture already exists. To use it as a way to inspire school professionals at the beginning of the year is not so big a stretch. While it may seem as though large groups of paid professionals are being assembled in matching shirts to say “we’re the best”, I think that assessment misses the mark.

I’d say the underlying message it, “You can do it.” And “We can do it.”

Work loads for teachers increase every year. Along with this, teachers are chronically underpaid. Nobody wants to fund their pensions. Even funding their healthcare hasn’t always been a priority. Almost all purchase materials to support their classrooms about of their own pockets. They go in early, stay late, take work home, work weekends. Every year they encounter students whose needs are greater. They are asked to do more with less. When they push for fair treatment in the workplace and equity for their students, they are dismissed as union thugs or as representatives of a special interest group.

Once a year we get these hard working, highly qualified folks together and the band plays and the cheerleaders cheer and the superintendent gives an inspirational speech. Think of it as community building. “We’re all in this together.”

The unspoken message is that this is an impossible job we are asking them to do. Many days will feel, physically and emotionally, like they are crawling on their hands and knees. Teachers come back each year knowing this, and choosing to do it anyway. It’s what they do.

So, for one hour in the Fall, it’s all about them. It may look dopey from the outside. We can’t possibly know what it feels like from the inside. But, if it gives them even one small spark of joy to carry with them through the days ahead, it is a worthwhile investment indeed.






Monday, August 27, 2018

Romance



Ah...young love. The intensity which prompts one to celebrate weekiversaries and monthiversaries and recreate the circumstances of one’s first date. Do you remember? Did you ever?

Today’s post is dedicated to some folks near and dear to me who still celebrate the anniversary of their first date.



These are my beloved inlaws, Sam and Joan McCready, out celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of their first date. 60th. Wow.

Romance is not dead, ladies and gentleman.

And I get to bring you this delightful story because the celebration took place right here in Howard County, at the Iron Bridge Wine Company.

From Sam:

The restaurant staff were extraordinarily generous; complimentary prosecco and wonderful chocolate dessert. Another night to remember.

Even better, he still remembers the particulars of the first date:

 We went to see Tyrone Gutrie's production of THE BONEFIRE at the Grand Opera House in Belfast. It was the same week as we were rehearsing HAPPY AS LARRY with Stranmillis College for the Portrush Summer Theatre.

Without the love of these two extraordinarily people, my life would not be full of the love that I enjoy today with their son, and as a member of their family.

Happy Monday. I hope this helps you start it with a smile.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Turnabout, Fair Play, and Fouls



I’d like to take the opportunity to poke fun at myself a little morning. It has occurred to me that there’s another aspect at play here in the newly introduced plan for Main Street in Old Ellicott City. Mr. Kittleman has taken some criticism locally for being reluctant to take risks, for lacking vision. Here he is clearly doing a bold and courageous thing and folks are up in arms. It must be hard to be on the receiving end of that.

“We wanted you to be bold and decisive but not like that...”

To be fair, I don’t believe that there’s anything inherently nefarious about the plan. I just don’t know if it’s the best response to the situation. If you have objections to the plan, and you have enough knowledge to debate it, go ahead.  But I’ve seen people taking the leap from “I don’t like the plan” to “those who devised the plan did so for their own financial gain.” I don’t think that’s a helpful assumption.

Speaking of which, I was appalled at a commenter on social media who responded, more than once, by spewing anti-Semitic slurs towards the County Executive and Councilman Jon Weinstein. It stunned me to see that, even today, there are people who hold such destructive and backward views. I’m not a public figure by any stretch of the imagination but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to condemn this.

It’s not ever okay to belittle someone because of their religion. Or race. Or ethnicity. Or socio-economic status. Or sexual orientation. Or (I could go on.)  I feel reasonably certain that readers of this blog know this.

But it is equally important for us to push back when things like this happen. Publicly. Loudly. Immediately. It isn’t merely the conversation on Facebook that was derailed by these hateful comments. Words like these hurt people and make them feel less safe in our community. We have an obligation to our neighbors to push back and reject hate.








Saturday, August 25, 2018

The S-Word



Yesterday this paragraph in a statement from the County Executive caught my eye:

We are disappointed that Preservation Maryland is using this five-year plan as an opportunity to advance its own special interest agenda.   For them to use the word “scheme” in describing this plan is simply an irresponsible characterization, especially since it released the statement before it even reviewed the written plan.

In my opinion, saying that Preservation Maryland has a “special interest agenda” is just about as ugly as saying the folks at MSEA are “union thugs.” Not a good way to win friends and influence people. In addition, if your plan involves the future of a location well-known for its historical significance, why wouldn’t you have involved a well-known and respected  preservation group in the process from the get-go? These are not folks who should have been waiting to read a report. They should have been actively involved in creating the report.

I do find the use of “special interest” here to be offensive. I think it is used to belittle and discredit the work and reputation of Preservation Maryland. It’s also a weird word choice when you consider that most talk of “special interests” in Howard County lately has been in references to developers who are willing to make large political donations in the hopes of influencing outcomes. A non-profit like Preservation Maryland is hardly backed by high-rolling historical preservation fat cats. That’s not where the big money is. Really. 

This immediately brought to mind another use of the word by Governor Hogan.

Hogan vetoed Senate Bill 739, which would have added two certified school teachers and the parent of a public school student to the State Board of Education.
Hogan said he vetoed the bill because he saw it as a move that would risk turning the critical policy-making body into a collection of special interest group representatives. 
In both cases it seems as though “special interest” is a term one uses when you don’t want to allow someone a place at the table.

Now, there is another s-word in play here, and that is the use of the word “scheme” which Mr. Kittleman objects to. I don’t find it in the official statement from Preservation Maryland, but perhaps one of my readers can direct me to it. In the UK the word scheme does not have a negative connotation. It simply means “a large-scale systematic plan or arrangement for attaining some particular object or putting a particular idea into effect.” (And that is the first dictionary definition in the US as well.) But in general Americans see a scheme as something devised with nefarious intent. And since I don’t know the context here, I can’t make an intelligent assessment. 

The fact remains that, instead of trading s-words, the County Government would have been far wiser to have been formulating a plan in cooperation with Preservation Maryland. I certainly don’t want to accuse Mr. Kittleman of “scheming”, but the mere act of leaving valuable stakeholders out of the process can’t help but make the plan somewhat suspect. 

None of this is to pass any judgement in the plan itself. But, when you are making decisions of this magnitude, shouldn’t the emphasis be on being inclusive rather than exclusive?


Friday, August 24, 2018

Endings and Beginnings



I’m headed back to my first day of meetings and my body and brain are protesting the change in my sleep schedule. All over Howard County teachers are getting into the swing of things to get ready for the school year. I am certainly not alone in trying to force myself back into the school year sleep cycle.

It would be crazy for me to ignore yesterday’s press event about Old Ellicott City. It would also be crazy for me to try to pass judgment on it at this point. I have some opinions but I am far from an expert. I’m more like a semi-educated bystander. So, if I say I have misgivings I am hardly an authority figure. Heck, probably everyone has misgivings at this point.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Council Member Jon Weinstein hinted at this type of solution when he appeared on the Elevate Maryland podcast during the primary campaign. And yet it does feel like a surprise, most likely because of the lack of transparency involved.

I’ll need more time to process this. We all will. In the meantime, read the official statement from Preservation Maryland.





Thursday, August 23, 2018

Photographic Evidence



As you know, I’m very excited about the groundbreaking for the new phase of Blandair Park. That being said, does it seem odd to you that certain faces have been obliterated by the Kittleman logo in this campaign advert?


A friend shared a screenshot taken from a video of the event.



My teenaged daughter walked by and took a look as I was comparing the two. “Isn’t that the park you were talking about with the inclusive playground?” She took a closer look. “He covered up Calvin Ball’s face?” She was incredulous. “It’s supposed to be an inclusive park and he couldn’t include the one guy who actually lives in the neighborhood?”

I told her I was going to steal her line. She knows.

Here is the ad in its entirety.

If his persistent appearance in my Twitter feed is any indication, Mr. Kittleman has a healthy campaign budget. And it’s impressive that they could turn a community event into an advert in less time than it takes for the dirt to dry on the shovels. There’s just one thing.

“My Dad taught me that you put petty politics aside and you do what is best for the community.” - Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman

Taking a community event, one that required cooperation amongst many, and turning it into a campaign ad may be par for the course these days. But covering up your opponent’s face with a campaign logo?

That’s petty politics.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Guest Post: A Summer Project


I came across this thread by Ellicott City Pix on Twitter the other day. It just leapt off the page to me as a possible guest post for Village Green/Town² . I am sharing it here with @ECpix’s permission. Enjoy! - - jam

THREAD: “Summer Project”

My summer research project was to try out as many Howard County bakeries that I possibly could, as frequently as possible.

As research, it was, of course, exempt from all diet restrictions.

Now, the report:

I find myself at Renata’s Tasty Bites @RenataAlanovic quite often, and lose all self-control when I am standing in front of the illuminated cabinets full of handmade, fresh European pastries. Love the chocolate cupcake! Snowden River Pkwy in Columbia.




I’m embarrassed to admit that I had trouble finding Cake Wala @cakewalaus, but it’s right there at the corner of St. John’s Lane/Rt. 40, across from the new Sprouts in Ellicott City!

Look at these beautiful cakes, and yum! Pistachio, Mango, Tira Misu, Oreo! Oh my.


             



I finally found @touchetouchet Touché Touchet, the location in Elkridge is close to me! They have many different pastries (and other food) but I’m always distracted by the cupcakes anywhere I go, so... this coconut cupcake did not survive long.  #yum


YES, I was in cupcake heaven when I visited @KupcakesCo right off Montgomery Road in Ellicott City.  I felt at home the moment I saw the sign on the door “Eat Cake for Breakfast.” Or, any, or every, meal.  Some tasty artwork here!


         



I love the individually packed tasty items at the Shilla Bakery @ShillaBakery 
 n on Rt. 40 in Ellicott City. I tried to go for the high protein items here.  And, I tried my first bubble tea, taro flavor.  Purple.  It’s good.




Right across the street on Rt. 40 in Ellicott City is ... you got it, Tous Les Jours! My acquisition did not last long enough for a photo.

       



One Dish Cuisine @onedishcuisine in Ellicott City is great for those who monitor food restrictions.  There was a lot on the menu, but this caught my eye and my choice was made. I even tried to make it into a painting with my app.





Sunday excursion to Glenelg in western #HoCoMD to find   Dandelion Bistro and Bakery! dandelionbistro.com  Yeah, it was a pretty long ride back since we drove slowly to take in the sights.  So, all that was left was... the box...


     


Well, that concludes my summer project report.

It’s awesome that we have so many talented bakers in #HoCoMD.


*****

What did you do on your summer vacation? If it was something g #hocolocal, let me know here:

https://www.facebook.com/VillageGreenTownSquared/?ref=bookmarks




Much love to all hcpss teachers and staff returning today. We are so grateful for the work you do!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

All Things Great and Small



I’ve written before about how much I appreciate the regular newsletters from my county council representative, Calvin Ball. The combination of frequent communication from his office plus the high level of constituent service has served to keep me engaged with the important goings-on in my community.

Well, sitting in my email inbox right now is the pièce de resistance of newsletters. It is the annual, back to school edition.

The Calvin Ball Bulletin, Back to School Edition

All the schools. All the things you need to know in one place. And it even includes information about Howard Community College!

A few things you’ll find:
  • School supplies
  • PTA info
  • School closing links 
  • BOE cluster assignments
  • Kindergarten registration 
  • Redistricting updates
But, as they say in the infomercials, that’s not all! Wait, there’s more! 

Take a look for yourself. These annual education-focused newsletters go back to 2013, lest you think this is an election-year gambit. If you want to be really impressed, take a look at the newsletter page of Dr. Ball’s County website at all the newsletters he’s been sending out as a part of his service to the community while on the County Council. It’s mind-boggling.

Why is this important to me? These newsletters are a part of a record of constituent service and community engagement that have made a meaningful impact throughout Dr. Ball’s years of service on the Council. Seeing one’s council member at a council meeting or at a political function is such a thin slice of what they do. Leadership is not about going places to see and be seen, although the burden of being obliged to do so weighs heavily upon public servants and candidates. 

Often the most accurate measure of leadership is that quiet, unglamorous work that goes on behind the scenes: listening, bringing people together, educating, informing, responding. Howard County blogger Bill Woodcock of The 53 blog talks about innovation and courage as crucial qualities in the upcoming County Executive race.  I agree.

But innovation and courage need roots to be meaningful and successful.

I’d add that those aren’t stand-alone qualities when it comes to Calvin Ball. They are inextricably linked to his years of getting to know his community and making constituent service and constituent education a priority. This means a lot to me. I’ve always known that I can trust him in the big things because, time and again, he has done his homework on the small things.










Monday, August 20, 2018

Music to my Ears



Anyone who knows me well is aware that I’ve long been promoting a certain idea for a local playground: musical play equipment. The idea first came to me when the Columbia Association was looking at possible plans to revitalize Symphony Woods.

Facebook memories reminded me that on this date in 2011 I suggested this for the park that was being planned in Symphony Woods: a musical playground. I still want this!

My interest in musical play equipment was sparked when my sister used a company called Freenotes Harmony Park to provide a piece for a garden in memory of our mother at a new preschool started by her church. As a musician and an early childhood teacher I loved the idea of adding a musical component to outdoor play.

From that moment on I have been harping on adding pieces from Freenotes to anyone who would listen. Many’s the social media post or email from me that contained the link to Freenotes. 

Last week I read the article in the Howard County Times on groundbreaking for the latest section of Blandair Park. 

Blandair’s next phase has a focus on inclusive play , Janene Holzberg

I was excited to see that the majority of the equipment will be special needs-friendly. This is an excellent and much-needed addition to outdoor play choices in our community. And then, these words leapt out at me:

She also noted that musical instruments called Free Notes comprise a feature that sensitivity experts say will relieve stress and soothe park patrons. These include cymbals, chimes and drums.

I could not have been more surprised and delighted. I’d love to think that my continued public hints had something to do with this, but that’s probably not the case. I didn’t have any contact, as far as I know, with the planning committee on this project. So I can’t take credit. I’ll just have to settle for being tickled pink.

Now the hard part will be waiting for construction to be compete. I’ve waited since 2011, what’s two more years in the grand scheme of things?

The official groundbreaking for this phase of the park is Wednesday morning at 9 am. The public is invited to attend.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

It’s Broke, Part Two



Like many privileged white Americans, I started looking at police violence against people of color only very recently, probably during the summer of Ferguson. And then came the Baltimore uprising in response to the death of Freddie Gray. Once I saw it I couldn’t unsee it.

While I have never liked football, and it was easy for me to see beyond the hype, I had been raised to believe that police were good and fair and there to protect me. And to protect everyone, I thought. It has been more difficult for me to overcome that mindset and see beyond it.

The story of a football player dying because of heatstroke caused by a conditioning drill is the story of a system that failed to protect its most vulnerable. The story of a man viciously beaten by a police officer while his partner failed to intervene is the same. The abuse is not in the hands of one person, but rather is perpetuated by the system as a whole.

In the case of Baltimore, the locations where people live and how they are treated by police are deeply rooted in the Redlining of the 1930’s. The end result is what is called locally, the White L and the Black Butterfly.   And redlining was steeped in racism, pure and simple.

What happened to Freddie Gray was not an anomaly. It was the way the system works. It doesn’t take much effort to find other examples of systemic abuse. The criminal activity of officers in the Gun Trace Task Force. The murder of Detective Suiter and the subsequent shutting down of a black neighborhood in the name of an investigation.

Another shared thread between the two stories is the movement amongst football players to take a knee against police violence. They are asking us to look at the systematic brutality which targets people of color and they are using their status as football players to highlight their message. Not surprisingly, the “system” of football is uncomfortable, if not downright hostile, to their actions.

Never do you see one person acting alone. It is the whole organization at work. The same can be said of football. If you put certain ingredients together and reward certain outcomes, this is the system you will create. And once established, the organization will move to preserve itself at all costs.

Can we be brave enough to look at broken systems and call them out for what they are? What if we see what they are and we still just don’t want to let go? That’s probably a sign that we aren’t the ones who are suffering.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Not Helping



From former police officer Larry Smith @kid_lawrence :

Arresting addicts doesn’t help address addiction. Arresting drug dealers doesn’t either. Sending an armed cop, or several, to deal with someone having a mental health crisis isn’t an answer to anything. The cops shouldn’t be involved.

Baltimore needs ACTUAL social services. It needs to address homelessness and unemployment. It needs to provide children with hope and opportunity. Or we could start small and heat and air condition the schools

All of these things cost money. HOW ARE WE GOING TO PAY FOR ALL THAT??  Oh.... look at this 500 million dollar police budget. 

We (the USA) incarcerate people for petty nonsense. Jails are full of people who are addicted to drugs, are too poor to pay some arbitrary fine, who committed non-violent drug offenses. Oh, not to mention the scores of people wrongfully convicted or talked into a plea.

People need to think outside of the box. Police departments in so many cities operate like an occupying force. In certain neighborhoods at least. The people in Baltimore who live in Roland Park or Guilford aren’t asked for their ID whenever they leave the house.

They aren’t pulled over on a nightly basis for driving a “nice car.” The BPD is not serving the community. It is harming it. And no matter how many therapy dogs they buy or how many pictures of cops playing with kids they post on social media, that reality won’t change.

And before I get the cop trolls (the ones I haven’t blocked) YEP. I did it too. I bought into this shit hook, line and sinker. I locked up addicts for my quick and easy stats. I pulled cars over for headlights out, brake lights, etc.

I made trespassing arrests for guys chilling on the steps of vacants. I was a complete prick most of the time. That shit will eat away at your soul after a while but so many cops don’t realize it or won’t acknowledge it. 

I thought the “war on drugs” was real. I thought I was helping. I wasn’t. Cops don’t help society. Killing unarmed people, tasering 11 years olds and 87 year olds isn’t helping. Things need to change.

*****

Think it over. I’ll be back tomorrow with part two of “It’s Broke”.

You can read more from Larry Smith here .

Friday, August 17, 2018

Judge Not



Apologies to my readers. I’m still working on Part Two of “It’s Broke”. Look for that tomorrow,

Something to think about today: this response from writer Melinda D. Anderson:


This data refutes a widespread (and ignorant) belief in schooling that Black families “don’t value education.” Instead, what most educators value (signing forms, checking homework, room parents, etc.) is not a valid measure of importance of education for Black parents & families.

Black parents are out here taking their children to plays, visiting museums, going to the zoo, and engaged in all kinds of education-related activities. Yet y’all will still say “They don’t care about education” because a Black parent missed teacher conf. held during the workday.

Here’s the data, a report released by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics.


Here’s more about Ms. Anderson:


Why am I sharing this? As we head into back to school mode, I think it’s important to make sure we examine our attitudes about parenting and education. One size doesn’t fit all. It’s a mistake to see everyone through the same lens. It’s wise to take a look at that same old lens you have been using, too. Does it seem to tune out people who are different than you are? (Sorry, that’s a mixed metaphor beyond repair.)

The parent who does not come to a conference during the work day may not be disengaged from their child’s education. They may not have the ability to leave work. Being able to do so is a privilege not everyone has. Or they may be responsible for the care of very young children or an elderly relative and have no back up to fill in for them. 

Can you think of other ways we make assumptions about parents that may show a lack of understanding? How do we shortchange students and families by jumping to these conclusions? How can we do better?


Thursday, August 16, 2018

It’s Broke, Part One



Two separate stories are vying for attention in my brain. And it seems to me that they are the same story.

Story number one: the death of a college football player from the University of Maryland and the subsequent focus on the toxic culture of football in College Park. The coach has been placed on administrative leave. A member of the training staff has been fired.

Story number two: the video of a Baltimore Police Officer viciously beating a man on a Baltimore street while his partner does little to intervene. The officer was suspended with pay. (He has since resigned and been criminally charged.)

The world of football at UMD and that of policing in Baltimore are steeped in a culture of violence. The particulars are not exactly the same, but the sickness goes deep, to its core. I don’t believe, in either case, that it’s a few bad apples that ruin it for everyone else. Both are deeply and thoroughly infected by destructive attitudes. It’s not a bug in the system, as they say. It is the system. It’s baked right in.

I have not come to this conclusion overnight.

Football has long been a hotbed of toxic masculinity. In high schools football often takes precedence over many other aspects of school life. Often schools and parents look the other way at incidents of alcohol or drug use and sexual assault by players. 

Look at what happens when we combine that with all the money involved in college football.  It drives a motivation for winning at any cost and we see, time and again, what those costs really are. College players whose well-being is sacrificed, whose education is secondary. 

In the pros the players’ bodies are destroyed and their right to exercise free speech is mocked and sanctioned. The powers that be will tolerate a certain amount of substance abuse, violence against women and sexual assault, but often draw the line at being gay or speaking out against police violence.

On top of all this, the ongoing research into traumatic brain injury and the many human examples who bear it out are reason enough to declare this a broken system.  

I was in an online discussion about the UMD incident where one man said,

All of football has got to go. NFL, college, high school. Shut it all down.

The response to his comment was, essentially,  “Dude! Let’s not go that far.”

He went on. (Shared with permission)

You can't keep running a system where coaches are paid huge sums of money, which forces them to take a game so super-seriously that they wind up pushing children to the point of exhaustion or death. The only good solution is to stop being a Division I football school. Hire a less intense coach for way less money, and make it clear that, as a school, we don't really care about wins and losses. We just want the children to have a healthy and balanced experience. If you do anything short of that, you're just signalling that you're okay with a system which is intentionally designed to chew up and destroy young bodies and brains. 

I have been struggling all week with how to fit this into one post, and now I have reached the conclusion that I can’t.The second part of this story deserves its own post. 

Today, football. Tomorrow, Baltimore Police and what connects the two.





Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Getting Lucky With Dinner



We couldn’t figure out what to do about dinner last night. So we fell back on our old standby: Lucky’s China Inn, located in the nearby Oakland Mills Village Center. It’s possible I was influenced in this choice by reading this comprehensive piece by The Unmanly Chef.

Inside Your Local Chinese Restaurant - Hunan Legend

It’s well worth the read.

Do you have a favorite local Chinese restaurant? Who are they, and why do you like them? Is it proximity to your home or a particular dish they do well? It seems that, at least in Columbia, the purpose of Village Centers was to give everyone their own Chinese take out place. How does that work beyond the Columbia bubble?

My apologies for over-sleeping this morning. I’ll set an alarm tomorrow!



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Weight of Womanhood



The other day I read a comment from a man who took issue with the qualifications of a local political candidate based on her physical appearance. Are you kidding me? The candidate, already a public servant with a documented record of service, clearly had a major thing going against her here: she’s a woman.

Women continue to be held to a ridiculous standard as regards physical appearance. In all cases it has nothing to do with their qualifications or ability for the task at hand. Yet time and again they are judged by how appealing they are to the male gaze, as if that is their primary reason for existing.

Then there are the perennial questions about “how will you balance your career with your role as a wife and mother?” that never seem to be asked of men. These questions shift the focus from women’s ideas and goals to being forced to go on the defensive as somehow derelict in their “womanly duties.”

Oh, wait! I almost forgot: “she should smile more” “she’s too directive” “difficult” “unpleasant” and, you know...”b****”.

We have quite a few women running for office in Howard County right now. I happen to think that’s a good thing. I wonder how they feel every time their message is derailed by sexist questions and remarks. I know how I would feel. I would want to be taken seriously and I would feel frustration that, merely because I was a woman, many people didn’t feel I was worthy of that.

A man strides into a room and speaks his mind.

A woman, wearing a peacock blue cocktail dress, married to this man, mother of these children, speaks in a strident tone about something. I don’t remember what. She was emotional.

That is quite a bit of garbage to be forced to carry around, don’t you think? Other people’s stereotypes and expectations are foisted upon any woman who seeks to be a leader. And it’s not only in politics, either. In the private sector, in non-profits, and elsewhere women must fight to be taken as seriously as a man.

But then they are chastised for putting up a fight.



Monday, August 13, 2018

Let’s All Go



The talk of the town yesterday was this photo shared by Black Flag Brewing Company. A tip of the hat to Elevate Maryland’s Tom Coale for bring it to my attention.


The caption reads:

 This sign was put up about the same time as we released a 13.1% beer... not saying its our fault but someone clearly didn’t share their bottle of Double Barrel Black Mage... #SharingIsCaring #LetsGoToTheMallumbia

Yes, I just had to know if this was real or photoshop, so my daughter and I went down there to check. And it is the real deal. Located in a cross street to the right of the Metropolitan, the sign proudly announces, The Mallumbia in Col”.

What the heck? Has it always been wrong or is this the result of a prank? It appears that the sign must be made up of three sections and they were assembled incorrectly. But why would this have escaped notice until now?

I am wondering if this sign will now draw eager locals hoping to take their pictures with it for a bit of fun. Will Mallumbia become a hashtag? A trending topic? Will people write letters to the editor of the Columbia Flier complaining about the shoddy implementation of Downtown Development?

If there is any more to this story, rest assured that I will bring it to you. In the meantime, I just had a thought. Could the”in Col” be a hint that the perpetrator of this mix up is none other than Col Gateway? Has anyone seen him lately?

Hmm...

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Fair Wanderings


Thursday night I went with my family to the Howard County Fair. I was extremely grateful that it wasn’t as hot as the first time I went several years ago. Maryland’s heat and humidity in August just does not agree with me. But Thursday night was manageable.

My husband and I spent time looking at animals, floral displays, awards for jams and jellies, and so on. We talked to a friend from church who comes with her needlework group every year. We observed families of all sorts out for an evening of fun. We stopped to listen to a visiting brass group playing a medley from “Jersey Boys.” We feasted on food from the St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church booth, as recommended by blogger Annierie.

I took a boatload of photos but, after much consideration, I’m going to share just one.


These two, in separate pens, snuggled as close as possible and nuzzling eachother through the bars. I wonder what the fair experience is like for them? 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Down But Not Out



The last time we had WiFi at home was some time Thursday evening. Today Verizon is sending someone out and I suspect a new router is in our future. When we lost internet a few weeks ago I jumped to the conclusion that there had been a nefarious takeover of social media. This time I just felt irked. 

Things I have done since our internet went haywire: washed and sundried a large quantity of stuffed plush animals that I am hoping to rehome in the near future. (Need any? Contact me.) I’ve read more of my assigned summer reading from work, but it’s slow going. I watched Coco with my family. (My husband hadn’t seen it yet.) It’s highly unlikely that we would have done that if internet had been an option. 

My husband and daughter took a big bag of clothing I had decluttered from the bedroom over to Goodwill and came home with a few treasures of their own. Funny how that works. I’ve been sorting though the photos I took at the Howard County Fair Thursday night, trying to decide how to use them in a blog post. My daughter is working on vocal arrangements for her school a cappella group. My husband is building St. Basil’s Cathedral from a Nano Bricks kit.

Occasionally I check Facebook and Twitter from my phone on LTE but the battery runs down pretty quickly. I see a controversy about local politics and I feel strangely detached. I am reminded how dependent I am on electronic devices and how I need more hobbies.

I’ve cleared out the bookcase next to my bed and I’m organizing all my children’s books in one place, so I can find them for work. If I get truly ambitious, the craft books will be up next. We have a box near the door for books to take down the the Little Free Library at the Village Center. Maybe we’ll do that today.

The occasional emails from coworkers remind me that vacation is fast coming to an end. There’s still a few home projects and doctors’ appointments to accomplish. Perhaps a jolt in the Internet was a good reminder that I have other things to do and that it’s good to have more than one way way to look at my world.

I’m still irked though. 






Thursday, August 9, 2018

No Comment



Big news! I learned it in a tweet:

The Baltimore Sun has closed the comment section on its articles and my satisfaction with life has already significantly increased.

Yes, it’s true.


Certain local folks, especially a particular former BOE member, are going to have to get a new hobby.

I shut down the comments section directly attached to the blog a while back. I was no longer willing to tolerate trolls who could easily create false identities to say things they’d never dare say in daylight. I direct all my commenters to the blog’s page on Facebook. It may have cut down on the overall quantity of comments, but it has made a difference for the better. 

In order to comment here, you have to be willing to stand behind your words with your identity. I don’t think that, in the case of a small, local blog, that this is an overly burdensome hurdle to clear. 

The ability to post under pseudonyms can be extremely useful for protecting privacy. I get that. These days an employer can scan your social media for unsuitable opinions. And there are crazy people who will trace your name to your location and do you harm. 

Be that as it may, a very dark side of humanity turns up in the comment section. And these people are “why we can’t have nice things” as the saying goes. This is the second recent change to the BaltSun comment policy. Clearly the structure they put in place to monitor the problem was not as successful as they had hoped.

I have read the occasional insightful comment on the Baltimore Sun website. On the other hand, I also learned to my surprise that I was married to a wealthy Howard County developer and that I was a moron. And that’s mild compared to what other locals have endured. 

You may be able to get a refund for your “points”, whatever they are, but you will never, ever, get back the time you spent reading the comments. In the meantime, feel free to comment here: