Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Do you want to believe that you have The Power?  Do you want to shape opinion, mold the future, influence your part of the Free World?

You must act quickly.You only have a certain number of days to make your mark. 

Are you ready?  Good.  Now, vote .

In past years I was nothing more than a Low Education Voter.  I didn't know how it all worked. I thought that nominees were vetted, selected, and voted upon by some august body.  I didn't know that my participation mattered.  I didn't know that some candidates were actually out there, beating the bushes for votes. Badgering, wheedling, shamelessly whining for votes. I was naive. I felt powerless.

But now that I've joined the League of Extraordinary Mobsters, I'm ready.  I actually submitted a few nominees this year. And I'm going back, daily, to vote. Yes--daily!  If you love voting as much as I do, well, this is a dream come true.  

The Mobbies, though largely dominated by candidates from Baltimore, has a healthy core of nominees from Howard County.  We have a (dare I say?)  vibrant blogging community, thanks in large part to HocoBlogs,  Jessie Newburn, and the community-minded, collegial outreach of some of the longer-running blogs, such as Tales of Two Cities, and HowChow. 

And I think that we'd like to see the best of Howard County represented.  So, "Welcome to the fourth annual Mobbies competition, where we pit local blogs against each other to battle it out for major bragging rights." Your opinion matters.

Do you remember those elections for third grade class president, where the kid with the most friends always won?  Well, it's still kinda like that for the Mobbies.  The kid who motivates the most friends is going to win, whether he/she has the best blog or not.  

But, by adding your educated voice to the mix, you just might skew that vote towards quality.

Who knows?


Monday, October 22, 2012

Taking the Mickey Gomez Challenge

Thursday morning I got in my car and the windows and mirrors were covered in rain splots and condensation.The windows were easily cleared by the wipers, but the side mirrors were not so easy.  I looked around for a paper towel, take-out napkin or tissue in the car, but there were none. Actually, it wasn't my car, it was my husband's car, and he isn't as concerned about always having paper goods as I am.  Why wasn't it my car? Well, that's a story about a Peter Gabriel concert, a road trip, and a lot of other stuff.

Moving on.  I was in a rush, so I decided I'd be able to manage without the side mirror until I was able to pick up something to wipe it off.  I rolled down my window and prepared to wing it. It was a lovely Fall day, no problem.

Until I got on Route 29 South.  I quickly discovered I was going to need to merge.  Merge left.  Yikes!  Couldn't do it.  "No problem!"  thought I.  "I'll just stay in this lane, get right off, and then pull into the Walgreen's and deal with this."  Exit stage right.

Until I arrived back on the bridge connecting little Patuxent Parkway with Route 175 and I realized that I would have to merge.  Merge left.

Have you ever tried to merge from 29 onto that bit of road?  It can be life or death, I tell you.

So I got back on Route 29. North.

At this point I was beginning to sense a pattern.  No matter what I did, I was going to need to merge left, and I couldn't see a thing.  Bits and pieces of a song began to circle around my brain.  Maybe you would see your life passing before your eyes, but, hey--I'm a musician.

Did he ever return?
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn'd
He may ride forever
'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.
Only, for me, it went like this:

Did she ever return?
No she never returned
And her fate is still unlearn'd
She may drive forever
through Columbia's circles
She's the woman who never could merge.

After going around in circles several times, I realized that my plan wasn't working.  I would have to try something else. (Duh.)  So I reached out, with my bare hand, and cleared the driver's side mirror. 


And I could see.  Simple as that. 

And my hand was all slimy.  Ugh.

Now, as readers of this blog, I know you will expect a lesson here about how we go around in circles here in Columbia, doing the same things over and over again that don't work, and expecting a different outcome.  And you're expecting me to say that sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty if you want to make meaningful things happen.

Not a chance.  This is just a crazy Monday morning post dedicated to HoCo's own Mickey Gomez. She can take something as simple as a hairbrush, or a dog, or a TV show and create high art and drama through deliciously crafted humor. Or maybe it's the other way around.

Thanks, Mickey, for helping us take ourselves a little less seriously.



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Be Afraid. Or, At Least Feel Suppressed

I don't have a Choose Civility bumper sticker on my car.  I used to, but I took it off. 

Why?  If you must know, I took it off because I kept reading and hearing snarky comments about how it's the Choose Civility cars that cut you off, won't let you in, take your parking place and so on.  And I know that I am not a perfect driver.  I'm not a selfish driver, but every so often I might be stupid. So I took the bumper sticker off because I didn't want to make the Choose Civility movement look bad.

There you have it--Self Suppression. Negative, cynical comments found a way to change my enthusiasm into fearfulness.  Brilliant marketing plan.  "You want people to be kind and respectful? Well, let me make you feel bad about yourself first!"

People like me are the ones who were crushed when the teacher lectured the whole class about bad behavior.  We take it to heart. It didn't matter how many times I was consoled with--"She wasn't really talking to you." It takes a certain kind of person to care that much about other people's feelings and actions. Perhaps just the sort of person that, as an adult, makes the case for civility.

Am I worried that rude, loud, negative citizens feel suppressed by requests for civility? I guess I need to know more about what they perceive as an unfavorable consequence of being civil. The truth is, I worry much more that the gentler, thoughtful, listening members of our community are the ones who are suppressed by uncivil behavior.

There is room to disagree. But, if you feel that you have the evidence to prove that someone is a horse's ass, you don't need to make a horse's ass of yourself in order to prove your point. And that is precisely what you do when you demonize those who disagree with you.

I have great admiration for those in the HoCoBlogs community who understand those boundaries, and respect them.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Taking a Second Look At Gertler

David Gertler, running for a seat on the HoCo Board of Education, has been doing something a little different to get the word out about his candidacy. He has been hosting homework help sessions in math and science, and next week he has coordinated a STEM Career Night. While the conventional wisdom leans towards planting yard signs and waving at traffic, Mr.Gertler is breaking the mold by doing some talent-sharing. 

Why is this so important? Well, having spent a little time with him during the primaries, having followed his campaign since then, I have some insights to share.

When You See:                        The Deeper Message Is:

Technology                               I am excited to share knowledge.

Math and Science                     I like to work with students and parents and I am good                                                  at organizing people to work together.

Homework Help                       I don't have to complain, whine, or dish dirt to be a
                                                 viable candidate.

Career Night                              Our School Board should be listening, collaborating,
                                                  trying new things.

Mr. Gertler has done a great deal of observing and learning within the school system as a parent and a volunteer. He has developed a wide range of valuable skills in his professional life. Most of all, though, his thoughtfulness, tact, and respect for others are what make him such an outstanding potential board member. He could not be offering his services at a better time.


Tuesday, Oct 16th, 7pm at the GlenMar Church on New Cut Road - STEM Career Night.  Come out and talk to Howard County residents who live and work in the area.  They will talk about their careers in math, science, engineering and related disciplines.  The talk is aimed at students and parents to help our kids become more aware of the multitude of career choices in today's economy (and local geography).

Sunday, Oct 21st from 1pm - 2:30pm at the Elkridge Public Library and 3pm - 4pm at the Glenwood Public Library will be FREE homework help in math and science classes for Howard County students.  

More details are on the website, and he's requesting people register (especially for the Homework Help sessions, so they have enough parent volunteers) by sending an email to

Friday, October 5, 2012

An Open Invitation

                                                            I'm inviting you to a party.

When?  Tomorrow, Saturday October 6, from 11 am to 4 pm, rain or shine.
Where?  The Oakland Mills Village Center.
Why?  It's the annual Oakland Mills Cultural Arts Festival .

The Cultural Arts festival is one of the events that has helped me to bond with the notion of living in Columbia and participating in Village Life.  Readers of this blog know that it has taken me a long time to "get with the program", as it were, of the Columbia experience.  I didn't always feel that it was meant for me.

I am extending a personal invitation to  Hocoblogger Matt Wilson, whose recent blog post, "Six Months In", was an unexpected reminder of how I used to feel.  In fact, it should be a wake-up call to all of us who are happy here.  Go read it.  I'll wait.


This is a thoughtful, rational indictment of how we can fail as a community--if we are not paying attention. I immediately thought of the moment when I met Matt, at a HocoBlogs party, where I was a co-host with Sarah Husain of SarahSaysHe introduced himself to me. And I made polite cocktal party conversation with him and moved on, anxious to be a good party host.  I made no true meaningful connection with him, and I made no attempt at follow up.

"Welcome to Columbia.  We're just fine without you, thanks."

Yes, I am beating myself up a bit here, because I am the one who is so all fired up about being invited to the party, about being included, about not being invisible.  And I let this opportunity slip away because I was too caught up in making sure everything was running smoothly. 

"Welcome to Columbia.  We're just busy making sure everything is running smoothly."

Matt's blog post stunned me. Missing opportunities to invite people into your circle is all too easy.

So here goes, for Matt and everyone who is reading this post:

The Oakland Mills Cultural Arts festival is awesome.  It is the true Columbia experience. As you walk around, hearing live music, eating a snack, browsing vendors, playing a drum, learning about  local organizations--look at the people around you.  We are White, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and all kinds of beautiful mixes. We are racially, culturally, and economically integrated. We live in single-family detached homes, townhouses, condos, and apartments. Our children go to school together. We are dancing to the music together.

We are not perfect.  But we know how to have a good time. And we keep celebrating together, year after year.

The photo?  Yes, it's an old one. But it is very precious to me.  It marks the first time I came to an Oakland Mills Village event.  It was a steel drum concert in the Courtyard.  Mary Kate Murray came up to us, welcomed us, and gave us leis to wear.  She invited us into her circle.

If you want to find me on Saturday, from 11 am to 1 pm I'll be giving free wagon rides for children 2-5 in the ArtsWalk crossing. Look for the colored sidewalk.