Thursday, November 30, 2017

Closer to Home

In recent episode of the podcast “Elevate Maryland”, co-host Tom Coale suggested that recent national scandals concerning sexual harassment were bound to show up on a more local level. I think he’s right.

That reminded me of his own post on HoCo Rising in 2015:

Get Your (Stuff) Together, Annapolis! 

And, the piece that started it all, by Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland:

Annapolis Mad Men

Despite the avalanche of evidence that sexual harassment and just plain old sexual assault have been poisoning women’s experiences in the workplace, I keep seeing mealy-mouthed excuses that “society’s attitudes about certain kinds of behavior have changed.” I suppose that is meant to say, “It wasn’t wrong when I did it. I’m only catching flack now because the world has changed.”

Um, no. Those behaviors have always been wrong. What has changed is that people are believing the victims. And, in an environment where victims will be listened to and believed, more victims will take the risk to tell their stories. In the past silence was maintained by the fear that the victims themselves would be punished by telling the truth. They would not be believed, their characters would be questioned, their careers would be ruined.

What a radical shift we are witnessing that the actual perpetrators of the crimes are being held responsible. It seems so simple. For some it may seem that we are witnessing a world turned upside down.

In fact, at long last, it has finally been righted.

Now, about those local stories. Mr. Coale seems pretty certain we’ll be hearing them. I wonder if there are some men in Howard County and around the state who are beginning to realize that there will be consequences for their actions.

Being responsible for one’s own actions. What a concept.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Dean of Girls’ Sports

Kudos to BaltSun for putting Jacques Kelly in charge of writing Carol Gralia’s obituary. It’s beautifully done. Take the time to read it here

It occurs to me that the importance of the passage of Title IX in 1972 cannot be underestimated when we look at the number of local young women that Ms. Gralia covered  during her career.

Title IX:

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Howard County was extremely fortunate to have someone who treated the coverage of young women’s sports with the same dedication and focus as those of young men. I imagine that the presence of a local journalist who truly understood sports, who worked collaboratively with area coaches, and who made sure that those names got in the paper had a significant impact as girls’ sports programs got off the ground and strengthened during the seventies and eighties.

“She was the dean of girls’ sports in Howard County,” said Stan Rappaport, a former Baltimore Sun sports reporter and later a Howard County Times news editor. “She was impressively thorough and kept terrific records. She would surprise a coach by saying, ‘You just won your 100th game.’ She cared that girls received the same amount of coverage as boys.”
It’s clear to me that the synergy between Title IX reforms and Ms. Gralia’s progressional leadership created a positive and healthy environment for young women’s sports programs to thrive. This is not to say that she gave them preference. She simply accorded to them an equal place in the community spotlight. 

Lest you think that all such inequities have been squared away since 1972, here’s an interesting article Lexington County, South Carolina to ponder.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Who: High School Students 
What: WBAL Concert for Kids
When: Saturday, December 2nd at 1:00 pm and 7 pm
Where: Oakland Mills High School
Why: to support WBAL Kids Campaign
How Much: $12.00 and $8.00 matinee; $20.00 evening

If the Macy’s Parade and displays at area stores haven’t clued you in, the arrival of the WBAL Concert for Kids at Oakland Mills High School will surely convince you that the holiday season is upon us. This weekend will be their tenth anniversary presenting the best in local entertainment which is given by kids for kids. Orchestra Conductor Philip Hale describes the event:

The Oakland Mills Performing Arts Department believes that, in addition to the direct contributions made through the Concert for Kids, our students learn the joy and gratitude that comes from doing good in our community.  This is a learning experience for our students and all who contribute to our efforts. We believe our community has benefited far beyond the monetary donations to the WBAL Radio Kids Campaign.

Choose the matinee performance if you have kids on the younger side. There’ll be pictures with Santa, a craft to do, and the program is shortened and formatted with little ones in mind. The evening performance is the entire extravaganza. They’ve sold out for the last two years and hope to do so again.

Featured performers this year are CJ Cunningham (OM alum) and Lauren Tait as dance soloists, as well as Sequina DuBose and Bryan Jeffrey Daniels as vocalists.  Santa also puts in an appearance, as will personalities from WBAL Radio.

Another fun feature of this event is the Holiday Boutique. Look for some new shopping opportunities this year, including new vendors and a silent auction featuring restaurant gift cards, fitness gift cards and other beautiful items for the home.  For the second year there will be featuring a painted violin for auction; painted by OM alum Charlotte Mann.  In addition, the National Art Honor Society is providing a number of pieces of art for sale along with the school color tassel ornaments.

Since this concert made its first appearance on the local scene, students have raised $67,000 to help kids in need. The goal for this year is to raise $15,000 for the WBAL Radio Kids Campaign. 

What you need to know: it’s just a fabulous experience, a joyous celebration of the best in high school musical and dance performances. There’s nothing else in Howard County like it.

Learn more and buy tickets here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Light Reading

In what is most certainly a first for my family, we got the entire bunch together to see Symphony of Lights during its opening weekend. Last year we kept dithering about dates and missed it all together. So that means we hadn’t been for two years, due to its one-year hiatus.  I was particularly curious to see the layout this year since I had witnessed some of the early set-up right after Halloween.

A few notes: you can buy tickets in advance online now.  If you come with cash you will pay five dollars more. They have set up separate lanes at the entrance to expedite this process, so worry not. My husband and son-in-law were sad that the “spot the letters” quiz is no more, but the rest of us were fine. They have done away with the paper program, which is great from a conservation standpoint, but there’s a good bit more talking on the special radio channel to make up for that.

Oh, and you can access Symphony of Lights both from LPP as well as the old way on Broken Land. As we entered my husband pointed out that we were on Dennis Lane.

Feedback from a car of two middle aged parents, two Millennials, and two teens was entirely positive. The lights have been updated and refreshed. Some new pieces have been added. The layout is an amazingly creative use of limited space. Because of this, at different points along the way, you get brief glimpses of things that you will see later on. If you are familiar with the landscape you will find yourself gasping as you realize just exactly where you are. They’ve done an excellent job of incorporating the buildings around Merriweather Post Pavilion, for instance.

A brief moment of hilarity was caused by the placement of a poor ice-fishing penguin, who now appears to be peeing in the lake. It must be the angle.

The Symphony of Lights display is a fundraiser for Howard County General Hospital. You can learn more here.

One last thing: I’d have to say that a highlight for me was the sight of the Chrysalis, gently lit, as we drove through the display. It fits right in to the neighborhood.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Strange Disappearance

I enjoy following a Facebook page called Western Howard County Shares. It gives me a taste of life “way out West”, if you will. Earlier this month I smiled when I saw this post:

Wild turkey strutting and chasing cars down Daisy Rd this afternoon.

It was followed by comments like:

That was the same one that stoped my car today. It kept blocking us from going by. Kids were cracking up.

I think he is the neighborhood watch turkey.

We love our neighborhood turkey!

Yeah, that thing tried to square off with my car and I literally had to push him off the road!

He was doing a great job enforcing the STOP sign the other day. I finally had to get out of the car to move him away from the front bumper. He better check his calendar!

I was wondering how long it would take for him to appear on Facebook lol.

Kinda hoping he stayed off FB he might be tempting to a unethical hunter.

And then, bad news:

On the 17th I shared a post/photo of a wild turkey walking along Daisy Road.  Turns out she/he “lived” in the area and had become a sort of a mascot.  I just read an update  to the post detailing how 2 men were seen catching the turkey, putting her/him in their trunk and driving off.  

I am so sorry if the post on WHC Shares had anything to do with the @#$$ who needed to stroke their egos and treat an animal like this.

I will no longer share photos of non-domesticated WHC animals that could even remotely inspire similar cowardice and cruelty.    

We really try to keep this a positive, informative and fun social media platform for the WHC community...more importantly we try to post responsibly and with sensitivity.    Clearly we need to be sensitive to the fact that there are cruel-to-animals, opportunistic jackasses out there.

This is so sad. Who would do such a thing? Apparently a witness saw the men run the turkey over first, before absconding with it. Neighbors are hoping that someone can help to bring these two to justice. Here’s how:

Probably too late for this turkey, but if someone could provide enough description to DNR for them to ID the culprits they could be in a world of trouble.  Wild turkey fall season was 10/28-11/04/2017.  By taking a wild turkey out of season they would pay a hefty fine and possibly more as sentences for hunting are stiffer in many cases than other crimes.  Real hunters don't take game that acts out of character for the species, thinking it may be sick, or as in this case, habituated to humans.  Let alone hunt out of season.  Please folks, if you saw anything, contact  MD DNR.

So there you have it. This may very well be a case of internet fame gone wrong. Or it may be a hit and run - - but then why would you take the victim with you? I’m mightily suspicious about their intent, given the time of year.

A tip of the hat to Western Howard Shares for telling the stories that people like me in Oakland Mills would never know otherwise.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Remembering Carol Gralia

Did you know that former employees of Patuxent Publishing have their own alumni page on Facebook? This company photo is from that page, and it’s probably as close as I will ever get to knowing what the inside of that iconic building looks like. Look at all the people in this photo. In an age when newspapers are continually thinning staff, this picture speaks volumes about a world that is most likely gone forever.

The alumni of Patuxent Publishing lost one of their own this week: former sports editor Carol Gralia. Ms. Gralia came to Howard County in the late 1970’s, working as a sports writer. She eventually became Sports Editor. If your children played on local teams during those years, you already know her name. She retired in 2012, and in 2013 she was named to the Howard County Community Sports Hall of Fame. In her retirement she trained and received certification as a yoga teacher, with additional certification in yoga for Seniors. She went on to serve on the board of the Retreat Center of Maryland.

What I want to share with you today are the words of Ms. Gralia’s colleagues. Some of them may even be in this photograph. Their tributes speak to the excellence of her work, her dedication, her work ethic, her generosity of spirit.

Matt Owings:

Local/community journalism often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. @HoCoTimesSports was better for having Carol Gralia steer the ship for so long. Condolences to those who knew her so well at Baltimore Sun Media Group.

Sara Toth:

This is the saddest news. Carol was a guiding force for everyone in the newsroom. She was no-nonsense, but so kind, and an incredible resource when it came to the community. She taught me so much by just doing, and being.

From a longer piece by Jack Gibbons:

She covered and directed coverage of sports in Howard County for more than 30 years  and earned a place in the community's Sports Hall of Fame. What she earned even more was the devotion of readers. She made sure that girls and boys sports were covered equally -- a trademark of her predecessor and dear friend, Karen Brelsford -- and that there were no favorites among schools, rec councils or athletes. She covered games, edited the work of others and produced an award-winning weekly sports section for the Howard County Times and Columbia Flier.

David Hobby:

Carol was a wonderful person, a great sportswriter, the consummate community journalist, and a tireless advocate for gender equality in sports long before it was cool. I was lucky enough to work with her for ten years right out of college.

Matt Palmer:

Carol Gralia was an incredible advocate for equality in sports and sports journalism. Howard County has lost one of its brightest lights. Rest In Peace, Carol.

I was a little hesitant to bring you this story because I did not know Ms. Gralia and because it’s clear that there are so many local journalists more qualified to bring you her story. But here’s the thing: I don’t think any of them still work for the entity which now produces our local newspaper. Will the Howard County Times give her the tribute she deserves?

I hope so.

Comments are welcome here:

Friday, November 24, 2017

Great and Small

I’d like to bring two worthy causes to your attention this morning. The first is quite simple. A friend of mine has taken on a charitable project to benefit residents at Grassroots. Here is her appeal:

I will be collecting body wash for Grassroots. I have a goal of collecting 100 bottles. Please help. Just drop it off on my porch.  (Or find the list on amazon and you don't even have to leave your house.)

I will be collecting through December 2, 2017. 

Mission: Grassroots provides supportive and professional 24-hour crisis intervention, suicide prevention, shelter, and outreach services to individuals and families experiencing a personal, situational, mental health, or shelter crisis.

Something so simple as being able to get clean can mean so much when your life is in crisis. Readers of the blog obviously won’t be dropping anything off at her house, that’s meant for close friends, but you can take advantage of the Amazon link to support her cause.

The second is more far-reaching. Former Columbia Patch writer Lisa Rossi (remember this?) is raising funds to support the training of journalists in her native Iowa. While Iowa is pretty far afield for us to contemplate, I would suggest that good journalists beget more good journalists, and that’s something we all should support.

Here is her appeal:

For Christmas and Hanukkah this year, I'm asking for donations to Iowa Watch, an organization that trains the next generation of investigative journalists and provides news to underserved areas. My goal is to raise $1,000 for an organization that teaches and distributes unbiased, factual journalism. This year, each donation up to 1,000 will be matched by News Match. They are also tax deductible.

Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. Thank you for your support. I've included information about Iowa Center For Public Affairs Journalism below. 

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism's mission is to maintain an independent, non-partisan journalistic program dedicated to producing and encouraging explanatory and investigative journalism in Iowa, engaging in collaborative reporting efforts with Iowa news organizations and educating journalism students. Our goals are: • To produce short-term and long term multimedia projects for the Center's Web site,, and to post other information and data that will be accessible to all readers and news outlets in Iowa; • To establish collaborative relationships with other news organizations and educational institutions for the sharing of stories and information and for the joint production of individual journalistic projects; • To focus its reporting efforts on public affairs issues and problems in government, health, consumer affairs, education, the environment, sports, criminal justice and other subjects relevant to the people of Iowa; • To give journalism students the opportunity to learn by working under the supervision and instruction of seasoned professional editors; • To help journalism students and young professionals enhance their employment potential by giving them the opportunity to build a portfolio of professional work.

You can donate here.

The holiday season will bring many charitable appeals your way. Most of us have limited resources; we do what we can. I wanted to bring these two to your attention because the women involved have moved me by their sincerity and sense of purpose. Please help if you can.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

No Day Off

Racism doesn’t take a day off for Thanksgiving.

Three years ago, twelve year old Tamir Rice was killed by a police officer while playing with a toy gun in a park. He should be celebrating Thanksgiving with his family today. His killer went free.

In an end of the day announcement from Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis yesterday the public learned that “he has dismissed administrative charges against Sgt. Alicia White, the last officer facing discipline in the Freddie Gray case.” (Quote from Justin Fenton, Baltimore Sun)

No one will bear the consequences for Gray’s death. No one.

Yesterday a friend shared this video, “Groundhog Day for a Black Man”. I’m embarrassed to say I couldn’t make it to the end; I found it so upsetting.

Thanksgiving, which we now know to be founded upon both little lies and bigger ones, has become more difficult for me through the years. This is not because I have nothing to be thankful for. It is precisely because I am no longer able to ignore how my many blessings have been established and perpetuated by systemic inequality and violence. Until very recently that was invisible to me, and I was thought it was simply “normal”.

Today I will celebrate with family and I hope you will, too. I don’t begrudge anyone a day to be filled with gratitude, to feel delight in food and family. Just don’t forget how highly controlled those freedoms are in this country. We don’t allow them to everyone.

Looking that in the face makes a traditional Thanksgiving more difficult.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Table Talk

Well, not the serious news. But news just the same. These might be more fun to talk about at the dinner table tomorrow than national news.

From Twitter:

Howard County, MD. 
approx. 4:06pm. 
7 adolescent boys seen pouring ice down their driveway and sledding down it on trash can lids.

Anyone out there who is the parent of an adolescent boy should feel free to explain this to me. I’ve just had girls and the craziest thing that has happened so far involved our dining room light fixture and a makeshift Xena Warrior Princess “staff” fashioned from an old broom handle.

From Facebook: 

At the Board offices- a small herd of lovely black horses gallop across the ARL and through the BOE yard.  When I left the police had traffic stopped, the horses were calmly munching grass, and the security and risk management people were looking for rope.  I would pay money to see them lassoing those sweeties.  As long as they are safe, all's well that ends well.

The horses were quietly wrangled and are home safely. 

From Columbia Patch:

Howard County Executive Wants Input On 2019 Budget

Poor man. He doesn’t get to have any input on the budget? 

Oh, wait.

He wants your input on the budget. I was feeling sorry for him for a minute there.

Longtime HoCo Blogger Bill Woodcock of The 53 is apparently contemplating winding down his blogging years, to conclude with coverage of the 2018 election. I don’t plan anything that far in advance!

HoCoMoJo mogul and producer of the Elevate Maryland podcast Ilana Bittner led a spirited discussion on Facebook by asking this question:

That bread dish that you cook inside the turkey, sometimes made from cornbread. What do you call that?  #thanksgiving #linguistics

That could be a pleasant a relatively painless topic of conversation. See also: gravy boats.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Few Moments of Your Time

Doing an unscientific survey today, folks.

  • What local blogs do you read?
  • What local podcasts do you listen to?
  • Newspapers? (Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Maryland Daily Record...)
  • What do you get from blogs that you don’t get from traditional news sources?

I’m pondering the place of hyperlocal voices this morning. You can chime in here:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mirrors and Windows

Matthew Winner is a Howard County educator who is probably more well known nationally than around town. I first became aware of him when I was traveling to different locations around the school system. Mr. Winner is a Media Specialist at Swansfield Elementary. He’s also the creator of the All the Wonders podcast, where he interviews authors and illustrators of children’s literature.

I’m sharing a guest post from Mr. Winner written for Kurt Stroh’s blog in his “Power of the Picture Book” blog series for November (picture book month). 

The Power of a Picture Book

He writes:

The more I talk of picture books being mirrors and windows to readers, the more I've realized how many books I read that are mirrors of my own culture and experiences. The more I realize the books I read aloud at school are mirrors of my own culture and experiences. The more I realized the books I was featuring on my children's book podcast were mirrors of my own culture and experiences.

The problem with surrounding yourself with mirrors is that soon you can't see anything else.

As we refocus our efforts in the Howard County Schools to address issues of equity, Mr. Winner’s observations here are especially relevant. When you open a book, who do you see? What does that mean, and why does it matter?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

What to Do?

This morning I’m pondering this seasonal urge I have to “hunker down” this time of year. Who am I kidding? I’ll usually take hunkering down at any time of year. I’m looking out the back window where I can see beautiful blue sky and the tops of trees still clinging to brightly colored leaves. I hear the sound of wind whistling around the house. I contemplate a day of crafting, of ordering the few groceries I need and having them delivered.

The urge to “hunker” is strong.

All the more reason to read this post from HoCo blogger Mike Hartley, who is making the case for why I should Get Out. Mike writes the blog Threw Mike’s Eyez. “Get out,” he writes. “It’s a great idea.”

This morning is the last Farmer’s Market of the season in Oakland Mills. This afternoon is the Dazzle Dash which kicks off the Symphony of Lights. And another thought: when I recently asked readers what their new favorite store was in Old Ellicott City, no one had an answer. So, maybe get out on Main Street and noodle around?

There’s a Holiday Craft Shop at the Hawthorn Center in Hickory Ridge today from 2-5. And the Friends and Foundation of the Howard County Library System is having a meet-up at Hysteria Brewing Company at 4:00. There are also events at Historic Belmont and the Robinson Nature Center.

Or you can just bundle up at take a walk around the lake of your choice.

Perhaps you want to pop in to the Mall and see the Poinsettia Tree before the place becomes too crazed with holiday shoppers. Just a thought.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Parade by the Numbers

According to the most recent census, Howard County is:

62.2% white, 17.5% black or African American, 14.4% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 2.0% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 5.8% .

According to the HoCo Gov website, Howard County has approximately 20,000 military veterans.

You can find information about the breakdown by race/ethnicity of Howard County veterans here.

You can view photographs and video footage of this year’s Veterans Day parade in Old Ellicott City here.  This is County Executive Allan Kittleman’s Facebook page. You’ll need to scroll down past more current posts.

One thing I noticed after looking at all the videos and photographs was how really, really white this event is. Look at who is marching. Look at who is lining the streets. Look at the officials giving speeches. If one were to imagine Howard County from these pictures alone, I don’t think we’d come close to picturing the actual diversity we have here, both in the overall population and amongst veterans.

Why do you think that is? This is a genuine question. I am not ascribing any exclusionary intent here. I am not offering criticism, just an observation. 

Mr. Kittleman offers this statement about the event:

PLEASE WATCH AND SHARE:  So many great moments and memories at today's Veterans Parade in Ellicott City.  This was just the third year for the parade and the crowd was very impressive.  Next year's parade is sure to be even bigger and better and hopefully, a new Ellicott City tradition is growing right before our eyes.  If you were there, you might spot yourself in this video.

So it’s a relatively new event and next year offers possibilities of improvement. That’s good to hear. Maybe our community can find a way for this parade to bring more people together so that we are honoring and supporting veterans in a way that shows the reality of who we are as a county.

Comments are welcome here:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Not So Funny

If you were to go by Twitter mentions alone, the big news this week was the woman who broke into an area McDonalds by climbing through the drive-through window. Dubbed the “Howard County Hamburglar”, her crime has been the source of much amusement on social media.

I don’t know why, but I just don’t find it funny. It feels sad to me.

At the age of twenty-seven, this young woman believed this was a viable plan. What motivated her? What is her story? Perhaps I am more inclined to care about her story because no one was physically injured during the crime. Maybe it’s because she is not that much younger than my older daughter.

What kind of a life do you have if you think that crawling into a McDonald’s is a risk worth taking? What kind of education did you have? What kind of job opportunities are available to you? Was there one definitive point along the way that she needed guidance or a mentor and didn’t have one? Or were there a million tiny stumbles along the way that led to this giant misstep?

It’s okay if it made you laugh. Sometimes the news is so awful these days that we have to find something to laugh at. But for some reason I can’t.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


This week’s Columbia Flier is sad, just sad. As a local blogger I should probably go into detail for you explaining why. At the moment I’m too demoralized by its awfulness. Let me just say that it is not the fault of our local journalists. This problem is far bigger than they are.

Big surprise: no men commented on yesterday’s post about the lack of men engaging with posts by women bloggers. (Specifically my post on Tuesday about sexual harassment.). I know we’re all surprised about that.

My husband is being honored this afternoon at the BOE meeting for being chosen one of School Band and Orchestra Magazine’s 50 Directors Who Make A Difference. I haven’t been to a Board Meeting since this particular board was sworn in. It will be interesting to get a feel for how things are going.

Yesterday the faculty of the Lower School where I work had a very frank discussion about not perpetuating long-established falsehoods about the Thanksgiving narrative. We were encouraged to go through our classroom libraries and make sure we weren’t holding on to old books that re-enforced cultural stereotypes. I continue to be amazed and grateful to be working at this school.

There’s some kind of celebration goin on at Black Flag Brewing Company this evening for those of you who donated to bring turkeys to those in need in our community. You can learn more here. Sounds fun but I continue to nurse this extremely tenacious cold and cough so it is probably a no for me.

Podcaster and sometime blogger Candace Dodson-Reed is pondering fascinating hocolocals to write about in her annual year-end post. I don’t know about you, but I continue to be fascinated by Ms. Frizz of @eye_on_kq . Who would you pick?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


I noticed something interesting about the response to yesterday’s post about sexual harassment and how we raise boys and young men in Howard County.

Out of all the “likes”, only one was from a man: my husband. The comments? All women.

I have gotten used to the fact that, by and large, my blog is supported by women. I think that there are men who read it, but as far as liking, sharing, and engaging, it’s overwhelmingly women.

Yes, I know there are “some men”. Don’t @ me.

I don’t think of this blog as one that focuses on “women’s issues”. It’s a community blog. I sometimes talk about equal rights for women but that’s not my main reason for being here. And yet, year after year, I see men online engage with and promote local male bloggers more consistently. Sometimes I wonder why that is. I try not to get too hung up on it, but sometimes it really gets my goat.

Right now, especially.

When I started to write yesterday’s post, I began, “Mothers, teach your sons.” And then I thought, “Why just mothers? What am I saying here?” And so I amended it to include mothers and fathers. This is an issue that will require engagement and discussion and a change in how we raise our children.

It’s not just a “women’s issue”.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Trouble in Paradise

Mothers and fathers: teach your sons.

Teach them that it’s not okay to ask a girl to send them nudes.

Teach them that no one really wants to see a picture of their parts.

Teach them that touching without consent is an aggressive act.

Teach them that no means no.

Teach them empathy.

Teach them to love unselfishly.


Because those of us who are the mothers and fathers of daughters are really, really tired of teaching:

Be careful.

Look out.

Protect yourself.

Don’t go alone.

Be careful what you say.

Don’t laugh at him.

Don’t let down your guard.

Just smile and hope it stops. Don’t make a big fuss because that might make it worse.

Don’t make him angry.

In case you are wondering, this is a local post. It’s not directed at what’s happening on the national scene. We’ve got work to do right here in blissful Howard County.

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Bit of a Weekend

I’d like to start out the week by thanking whoever nominated me for a spot in Baltimore Sun’s Crabbies . (Formerly the Mobbies) I’m not actively campaigning this year, but seeing the blog mentioned was a lovely boost to my spirits.

Today is my eighteenth wedding anniversary, which means that I have lived in Columbia for eighteen years. Where do I go to pick up my “I’ve lived here long enough to speak out on local issues” card? Eighteen years seems weighty enough to have one’s opinions heard at a resident speak-out.

My husband and I enjoyed an early anniversary dinner at Flavors of India on Friday night. You may already know that they are under new management. The side room that was once reserved for private parties is now open and brightly lit. A little too bright, for my tastes. However, when we requested a table in the other, gently lit dining room, they rushed to comply, moving tables and chairs to make it possible.

If I have any complaints about the new Flavors of India it would be that they are too helpful. I felt like we were waited on and being checked up on by at least four different people. There was way too much “yes, ma’am” subservience for my taste. My husband thought it was sweet. It made me anxious. The food itself was wonderful, although I think the “green sauce” recipe has changed for the worse...

On Saturday we stopped by what used to be Chip Smyth Jewelers in the Ellicott City shopping center  where White Oak Tavern is. My husband wanted to get his wedding ring resized, and that is where we bought our rings all these many years ago. We knew it wasn’t “Chip Smyth”anymore, but we didn’t know it wasn’t there at all anymore. Smyth Jewelers has moved to Turf Valley.

So off we went to Turf Valley to find the jewelry store in a quaint shopping area that looks a bit like the Avenue in White Marsh. And yes, we had never had any reason to go there before. To us, Turf Valley might as well be on the other side of the planet. As we turned off of Route 40 I noted the signature tower at the entrance. A flood of memories of old Wordbones posts about Turf Valley rushed through my head. Must go back and re-read those.

Just an ordinary HoCo weekend. With a celebratory feeling.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Frank Rejection

As I had hoped he would, the County Executive had something to say about the recent hateful posts referencing Democratic candidates. To be honest, I’ll admit I had thought he would remain silent and hope the issue would go away. That appears to be the preferred response of HoCo Republicans.

So, I must give Mr. Kittleman credit, he took the political risk of standing up to the bully:

Recent social media memes referencing several local candidates, including my opponent, over the past few days are disturbing and totally unacceptable.  As the son of a Howard County civil rights leader, and as someone who has worked to support equality for all people, I denounce the use of race or sexual orientation in any way to attack or discredit anyone.  No matter how much we may disagree on a topic or issue, these personal attacks are hurtful, insulting and have no place in Howard County.

I certainly don’t mind be shown to be wrong when it means that people are being braver and truer to a moral code than I expected. Go ahead, show me up. Be your best self. Make me look foolish. It’s a win-win as far as I am concerned.

I don’t know if you recall, but earlier this year a nasty little page with the puzzling name of Howard County Hate Watch started spewing hate speech about local Republicans in reference to the CB-9 Sanctuary legislation. The page was anonymous; at the time no one knew who ran it. Local Republicans were sure it was a coordinated effort by the local Democratic establishment.  (It wasn’t.) And despite the fact that he had no idea who it was, Council member Calvin Ball stepped in and publicly repudiated the page and its statements:

Being a welcoming, compassionate community where all residents feel safe is not a destination but a constant journey, which requires vigilance and reliance upon our values. Over the past few weeks, we've seen supporters of CB9 derided and mocked on social media. As an elected official, I expect that kind of attack, but I find it completely unacceptable when targeted at private citizens. Now, I see those aligned with this bill using those same tactics, which may feel good, but does not help our cause.

I too am very concerned about disrespect and hate in our community. I am very glad that we have courageous citizens who will stand up and speak up. To whomever is running the "Howard County Hate Watch" page, please stop posting anything negative or posts attacking others. We may disagree with some, but these are our neighbors, even when we disagree. I strongly urge us all to model the empathetic kindness which makes our community great!

Taking a stand against bullies and refusing to remain silent is not going to be a “one-and-done” in this campaign, I fear. Sadly, there are those in Howard County who are hungry to consume that kind of racist rhetoric. It will continue to be up to the candidates and both parties to maintain focus on the real issues and reject any attempts to steer public debate into the gutter.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Next Up on Humans of #OneHoward

In case you’ve been wondering what’s up with #OneHoward lately, I did a little online research for you. It turns out that one of the most ardent users of the #OneHoward hashtag on Twitter is the man who created this:

And this:

And this:

I must admit, I have been wondering if the #OneHoward initiative was creating any real enthusiasm out there in HoCoLand, but clearly it has. The creator of these images is practically foaming at the mouth to let us know what #OneHoward means to him. And he appears to be backed by some group called PUSH HoCo. The race for the next County Executive wasn’t even 24 hours old and he just couldn’t help himself.

Can’t wait for the next episode of Humans of #OneHoward. This one’s going to be a doozy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Pictures from an Announcement

Calvin Ball declared his candidacy for County Executive last night at Kahler Hall in Columbia and I was home in bed, sick.


Thanks to the magic of photographs on social media, however, I can almost feel as though I was there. It’s not the same, but it helps.

Let me tell you what I see from looking at the pictures: the diversity of the people gathered in the room.

 I think that Howard County is best served by public servants who empower the disenfranchised, lift up those who are often ignored or taken for granted. If we are on a journey to face our own implicit bias and dismantle institutionalized racism we will need to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations and listen to people who are different than we are.

That’s what will ultimately bring about a sense of “One Howard”. Sure, it’s messy, but it’s the real deal. Discussions of diversity amongst the comfortable and privileged look nice, but they can’t possibly change the status quo.

Why does this matter?

Whoever leads Howard County should be leading for all of its citizens. Good government is inclusive. All the good intentions in the world can only take you so far if your message is innately attractive to the white and privileged more than anyone else. It’s just common sense.

Both candidates have a body of work in public service upon which they can be judged. The public is welcome to review their actions and decisions on behalf of constituents. Diversity is not the end of the conversation when evaluating Dr. Ball and Mr. Kittleman. It is, perhaps, a lens through which we can evaluate how they work, who they work with, what they take risks to support.

Neither of the candidates is the Devil incarnate. But their visions are quite different. It will be interesting to see which vision is endorsed by our community.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Going Negative

Howard County Republicans had much to say during the last election for County Executive about what they perceived as negative campaign tactics from the Democrats. They were shocked, just shocked. Republican Allan Kittleman was touted as the Nice Guy candidate.

I guess they are done being shocked because this week they released a little video portraying County Councilman Calvin Ball as being, more or less, the Devil incarnate. (All that development you don't like? It’s all Dr. Ball’s fault, they say. All by his lonesome.)

Now Ball hasn’t even announced he is running for anything, so perhaps the Republicans can coyly say this isn’t negative campaigning. Then what is it? Character assassination? This move, clearly planned to appear during the same week that Dr. Ball is believed to be making his announcement to run against Allan Kittleman for County Executive, is the height of “negative campaigning.”

They may have been “just shocked” in the last election. Now they’ve come out slinging mud with no apologies. Feels hypocritical to me.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Holiday Mash-Up

I was running an errand over by the Chrysalis yesterday, so I thought I’d stop by and see how she was doing. (Are buildings “she” like ships?)  As I drove up the hilly drive off of South Entrance Road I saw signs of the upcoming Symphony of Lights lining the roadway. I have so many happy family memories of driving through the lights. Those candy canes feel like old friends.

When I reached the parking lot there was a definite change in mood. The decorations from CarnEvil were still on site. I went from Christmas to Halloween in seconds. Move over, candy canes. The skeletons are holding the fort at the Chrysalis, at least for now. The late afternoon light gave an eerie feeling to the scene. I fully expected zombies to emerge from an abandoned tent.

I should have taken photographs but I’m not sure I could have done the juxtaposition of Christmas/Halloween justice. It was truly creepy. It made me wonder if those work trailers are populated with Nightmare Before Christmas types who only come out when no one is around.

Soon the transition to holiday splendor will be complete. The Symphony of Lights will welcome drive-throughs, walkers, strollers, even pets for another year of one of my favorite Columbia traditions. What are your favorite holiday activities in Columbia/Howard County?

Share them here:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Call It What It Is

I didn’t need to read about this on Patch. My teen daughter had already told me. The headline from the story by Elizabeth Janney reads:

Racist Social Media Post at Oakland Mills HS Under Investigation

 The school principal is quoted as saying the post was “racist in nature.” The article states that police, as well as the school system, is involved. That’s because the post wasn’t merely racist. It was violent. Yes, I’ve seen it. No, I’m not going to share it. And, folks, just because they say that Snapchat posts disappear doesn’t mean that they do. Screenshots are forever. Students are sharing it to call out and condemn it. I’m going to ask you to take my word for it.

Every time this happens it makes it harder for parents of students of color to trust that their children will be safe at school. Can they receive the best possible education if they are continually defending themselves from the million tiny cuts of micro aggressions or recoiling from racist, violent threats? Don’t just call this “racist in nature”. It’s a direct threat to the ability of the targeted students to receive the education they are guaranteed by law.

Saturday night my daughter and I went to see the Oakland Mills High School play, “Peter and the Starcatcher.” I remember thinking how beautifully diverse the audience was. It was another one of those moments when I was proud to live in Oakland Mills. In that auditorium were people of many different backgrounds and many different shades of color. They were all there to support the students on the stage and to enjoy live theatre.

I’m not proud today. And I don’t know how Oakland Mills could produce a young person with these kinds of views. It makes me both angry and sad. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017


This upcoming event at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center caught my eye.

As you may recall, Heather Mizeur is a former member of the State Legislature who ran unsuccessfully to be the Democratic candidate for governor in 2014. She recently launched a new website called MizMaryland: Soul Force Politics. This event is clearly a part of her new venture.

When I first took a look at the photo above, it brought to mind the Halloween years ago when my fourth grade daughter wanted to be Xena, Warrior Princess for Halloween. Despite the fact that I had no particular costume-making skills, I lovingly recreated a Xena outfit from materials we had on hand. I knew that fourth grade is the peak of a young girl’s confidence before it is often eroded by the challenges of puberty. If she wanted to be a warrior, so be it.

Many failed political candidates reappear on the scene as inspirational/motivational speakers. That is nothing new. What is new is this particular invitation to women with a strong (s)heroic bent. Will people find it powerful or silly? Will her message connect with the people she is trying to reach?

Often politicians trade in a sort of hero-worship mentality. “I’ll be your champion. I’ll fight for you.” The message here is different. “You are powerful. You can find that power within yourself.”

Why is that important? In particular, why is that important for women? Well, Harvey Weinstein, anyone? Zero women on health care legislation committees? Persistent lag in pay rates for the same work?

Or what about this? From the Baltimore Sun:

Howard County Police Capt. Mary Levy was promoted to one of the agency’s three deputy chief positions on Monday, becoming the first female officer to attain the rank of major.

The Howard County Police Department (the way we know it today) was created in 1952. It’s 2017 and we have just now appointed the first woman to the rank of major. Oh. My. Word. Why did this take so long? 

It is no wonder that Ms. Mizeur is inviting Maryland women to embrace their own inner power. Certainly equal treatment and representation under the law is more than a long time in coming. 

Comments are welcome here:

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Crabby and Bloggy

So I just discovered that the Baltimore Sun celebration of blogs, etc, is no longer called the Mobbies. It’s called The Crabbies.


You can read more here. They are in the nomination phase right now. Wondering if there is a category for best independent Baltimore City coverage killed by a union-busting corporate entity?

One year I suggested we ought to have a local version of the Mobbies called The Hobbies. Not sure we have enough blogs anymore in Howard County to support such a contest, though.

Recommended reading this week in the local blogosphere is this heartbreaking post from BonneVivanteLife.

Fun story in Sun would be this piece about Gunther Miller and his camera in Howard County Magazine.

Finally, a big cheer and congratulations to AnnieRie on the six year anniversary of her blog, AnnieRie Unplugged !

Friday, November 3, 2017

Weekend Update

It’s going to be peak Oakland Mills around here this weekend. Consider adding one or both of these events to your calendar.

“Peter and the Star-catcher” is the fall play at Oakland Mills High School. They opened last night and there are two more performances, tonight and Saturday at 7 pm. Tickets are ten dollars and you can learn more about the play here

Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm is the annual Oakland Mills High School Craft Fair. Check out their website here. From the OMHS PTSA:

Come shop, socialize, & grab a bowl of chili for lunch! We have expanded this year & will have vendors in the cafeteria too! Get a jump on holiday shopping!

Be sure to stop by and visit the From Momma’s Kitchen table for some delicious baked goods while you are there. It’s an Oakland Mills business started by a former Talbott Springs Elementary School Teacher. Buy some dessert for yourself or a snack to keep you going while you shop.

Hop on over and see some of the best my village has to offer this weekend.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Another Model for Local Journalism?

Today’s post takes us out of the bubble to Chestertown. Harry Schwarz of HoCoMDcc first told me about the Chestertown Spy. Take a look here.

You’ll also notice this link takes you to information about an upcoming play in Chestertown. It’s worth the drive. I know because I’ve seen it. ”A Time To Speak”is a dramatic adaptation of the story of dancer Helen Lewis and her experience during the Holocaust. Adapted for the stage by Sam McCready. Acted by Joan McCready. They knew the author and were determined to tell her story.

They’re also my inlaws. (Truth in advertising.)

So, read the article. Take a look around the Chestertown Spy while you’re there. What do you think?
And one more thing. If you know of a local organization that would like to bring “A Time to Speak” to Columbia/Howard County, let me know.

Right now feels like an important time to speak out about the Holocaust.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Light for Some

Today a light is going out and henceforth there will be a little more darkness in the world.

This is the cover of the last issue of the Baltimore City Paper.

The Baltimore Sun bought it, then killed it. Way to go, silencing independent views, Baltimore Sun. It seems odd that they decided to shut down what was a profitable enterprise. Perhaps not so odd when you realize that the City Paper newsroom employees had just voted to unionize.


You can read the Sun’s write-up here but there’s absolutely no mention of the unionizing issue. It seems that the Sun wasn’t interested in covering all sides of this story. That doesn’t feel very journalistic of them.

Losing an independent voice is local journalism is a loss for Baltimore. The City Paper has been the source of some important reporting and an outspoken editorial voice through the years. Every time one of these small papers ceases production a light goes out. The Washington Post reminds us that democracy dies in darkness. The Baltimore Sun claims to have light for all. Now the world is a little darker.

And don’t forget that the Baltimore Sun owns the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times. Food for thought.

If you want a taste of what the City Paper was all about, here is a link to some stories by Brandon Soderberg, the former editor in chief of the City Paper.