Friday, April 30, 2010

Without a "K"are

No one ever said Political Theatre shuns comedic performances.  For those that haven't heard, Carmen Amedori has left the Murphy-nian Candidate's Ticket for Governor.  To make sure there was no doubt as far as "hurt feelings," Amedori then endorsed Ehrlich.  The previous rhetoric of "Sometimes to win you have to change the players on the field" appears to have subsided, and Amedori is on the Ehrlich Express (for now).  Over the past three months, Amedori has gone from a Candidate for U.S. Senate, to Candidate for Lieutenant Governor with Brian Murphy, to...a typist without a "K":

(~ 2:00 a.m.) Carmen Amedori: I really wish the letter on my computer that comes after "J" and before the "L" wor*ed. LOL. It is a true vocabulary exercise to come up with words that do not have that letter in them.

(~3:45 p.m.) Carmen Amedori: I can only say one more time that my decision to leave the Murphy tic*et was my own. I never had conversations or sought input from the Ehrlich camp. My family and I *now the truth how this came about. I told Brian the truth. Now, he is trying to deceive the public to believe otherwise. Get a grip people.

(Ya see, what ha-happen was, she doesn't have a "K" key, and is using the * in its place.)

Ms. Amedori is at the Republican Convention in Ocean City.  Are you telling me that in a Convention Hall full of politicos, there was not one person there to tell her that she should hold off on any announcements until she had the full alphabet at her disposal?  Also, I was born in the afternoon, but not yesterday afternoon (although you old-timers may feel that way sometimes).  Amedori makes this decision at the Convention, yet insists that no one from Ehrlich's camp talked to her.  Add to that the fact that the very next day, Ehlich's team is talking about how she will be an asset to the campaign?  Carmen, I am calling shennanigans on you, and for us Irish folk that is no small matter.

No Links For You! (Friday...Comments)

I have a Pre-trial Conference in "Pee Gee Cow-ney" (as they say around these parts) and don't have time (gasp) to peruse the  interwebs for things I think are worth reading.  I may get a chance to post something later today, but who knows.

In the meantime, if any budding blogger is out there, I will be in trial, and out of blogging commission, from May 17th to at least May 24th.  I really don't like the idea of putting a "Be Back in Five Minutes" sign on the desk and peacing out for a week and a half.  This blog has a fair readership (for being a little over a year old) and at the very least gets the attention of the conversation starters.  So if you like to write, can dedicate yourself to two or three posts over a week and a half (daily posts are ridiculous, trust me), and don't mind telling me your name, this space is yours.  I don't care if you're a Dem, a Tea Partier, or a TAGster. 

Just let me know, and we can work out the details.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ugh (Thursday Links)

Caps lost.  That's all I have to say about that.

Thursday Links

Maryland may be getting the first federal wind farm.  This is certainly good news for jobs (and bad news for birds who are attracted to huge propellers), but sometimes I feel like Maryland is turning into a subsidiary of the federal government.

This financial reform bill has been great political theatre.  The GOP was originally painted as being in the pocket of Wall Street for opposing the bill, then we found out that Goldman Sachs had a sweetheart provision in the Dem's bill that was being taken out, now we find out that this "reform" bill is actually  favorable to the same fools that caused this mess.  That's why you have to laugh at the people that see politics in black and white, good and bad dichotomies.  Just about all of them are a nasty, grainy shade of gray (with dashes of green).

Here's a good digest of the Arizon Immigration Law (although, with all things, if you really want a defensible opinion, you should read the bill yourself).  I haven't commented on this issue too much since 1) I don't know enough; and 2) I think the entire paradigm of "immigration" is FUBAR.

The collapse of the Greek currency and Europe's piecemeal efforts to resolve the crisis would seem to be getting worse.

The problem with balancing just about everything Congress does on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (with a "necessary and proper" clause for support) is that it is like balancing an elephant on a tree trunk.  Our political discourse has lost track of the fact that just because something is "good" or "popular" doesn't mean it is something the goverment should or CAN do.  I can't imagine what kind of embarassment this administration would experience should any substantive measures of this health care plan be overturned.

Wordbones closes the book on the Turf Valley petition litigation.

Freemarket posts some eye-witness news of the O'Gov.  I wonder if he was taking credit for our health as well?

Unless you are in AllView Estates, my community is beating yours in the Censolympics.

HowChow posts about fresh almonds...I don't even know what I would do with fresh almonds.

I have a busy day ahead of me, and am sure my previous post will be keeping me busy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Turf Valley Referendum Petition D-E-D Dead

Judge McCrone rules that the petition did not meet the strict Maryland requirements, and therefore failed as of March 12, 2009.  The petition drive group claims to have collected a total of 9,000 signatures.

Have we seen a citizen-driven referendum petition effort succeed in the past ten years?  Do we know of one that has ever succeeded?  Can we start a petition for Direct Wine Shipping?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Healthy Howard's Normandy

This will have to be a brief post, but I wanted to get it out to you while the iron is hot.  Evidently the Council hearing last night focused primarily on Healthy Howard and its request for $500,000 in more funding.  The apparent target was dedicate HHAP opponent, Councilman Greg Fox, who found the program to be on the "defensive about something."

Preventive health counseling is certainly a "good thing" and no one is disputing that.  The dispute is whether all good things should be provided by the government.  I am not persuaded by the story about the woman that lost 85 lbs by finding a free gym membership through her health coach.  I lost 30 lbs by realizing that if I put one foot in front of the other in a running motion, and continued that motion for 30 to 45 minutes on the county provided roads and sidewalks, I ended up losing weight. 

However, I am swayed by the testimony about diagnostic tests that discovered some unrealized medical threat.  That form of preventive medicine is critical, and to the extent this program exists, it should continue to serve that purpose.  The question is: Do we need the baggage of "health coaches" to tell us that McDonald's is bad and an apple is good?  How much of the program goes to pay for these coaches?  Is there a happy medium where we can stay "innovative" and "cutting edge," while also cutting back on some unnecessary frills?

Note: By this article it appears that enrollment is now over 700 participants.  Did I read that correctly?  We are creeping closer to the 2008 opening benchmark!

The Real Spring (Tuesday Links)

If you thought we were going to waltz into Summer weather without the wet, chilly mornings of Spring, you were wrong.  Maryland is one of the few states that gets to experience all of the seasons in full, so from my perspective, this is nice.  However, I did enjoy some of those balmy days in early April where you look at your AC unit and think "I know it's April, but I'm sweating in my house and my dog's are dooling puddles.  I have to turn this thing on."

Link Special, coming up:

No real surpise that Northump Grumman chose Northern Virginia over Maryland.  The bottom line is that Virginia is more business-friendly than Maryland.  Wordbones's take here.

Baltimore Sun's circulation falls, yet again.  The good news: not as much as all the other papers.

Gov. O'Malley launched his re-election campaign, using a lot of the same themes from his original run.  A few edits may include: controlling BGE rates (fail), No UMD tuition increases (fail), More transparent government (epic fail).

Polls have O'Malley up by 3 percentage points, which is within the margin of error.

WB considers the influence and/or purpose of local blogs.  Personal aggrandizement does not make the list.

Freemarket says the Halloween Shooting may have been a side effect of the war on drugs.  The entire series of The Wire was dedicated to this principle (as was the amazing book from which the series was based: The Corner).  Freemarket hits the nail on the head.

Jessie X tells a cell phone user at the library to respect the house that books built, and gets a civil response.

HowChow be trollin' to the east, trollin' to the west, trollin' to the places that we love best.

It is late, and that is all.  Have a great Tuesday.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thug Life

The Howard County Halloween Shooters have been indicted by a federal grand jury on gun and drug charges.  It is unfortunate that local police and prosecutors were unable to gather enough evidence to bring murder (or even assault) charges against these two suspects, but at least some justice is in the pipeline.  I still don't think the after-the-fact citations against the home-owners was worth much more than posturing.  The time to act was when local residents repeatedly complained about the residence, especially after a non-fatal drive-by shooting was reported, and police said there was nothing that could be done. 

When Thunder Roars (Monday Links)

If last night's storm didn't get you indoors, Darwin would like to have a word.  That one was a doozy.  It sounded as if the Almighty Garbage Disposal was turned on, and a piece of chicken bone got stuck in the process.  My wife is already mourning the presumed death of most of her backyard plants, although the morning light shows that those leaves do still wave.  I'm a lover of storms, so last night was a treat for me.  It even helped me to stay up to watch "America: The story of us" on the History Channel, which I highly recommend.

The weekend was nice, however short.  I'm motivating myself today with the constant reminder that the opportunity for professional advancement is not something to be taken for granted, and that "work" is what you make of it.  Call me corny, but these things get me going, and create an overall better disposition to the world.

Links?  Let's.

Orioles win and showed some spunk if you ask me.  Giving up a lead, and then retaking it is something that bad teams rarely do (the latter part that is).  This new kid Rhyne Hughes is really something special out of the box, and could be the spark this offense needs while B-Rob is getting himself put back together again.  My first blog ever was an Oriole blog, so don't be surprised if they pop into conversation...especially if I have something good to say.

This is a great story about some fellow Howard Countians rocking service week.  The focus of the article is that "Muslims and Jews are working together," but that was not particularly surprising (or interesting) to me.  Here's another good article about Servicefest.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving have found lobbying allies in the taxi-cab industry.

A little more on the Kirsch/Odum election, the results of which have received much less discussion than the pre-vote lobbying.  Whether this was a "proxy battle" or not, I think the Phil Kirsch's of this town have made themselves known by way of this overwhelming victory.  The extent to which this vote reflects popular sentiment about anything else in Columbia is unclear.

WB takes some nice pics from Chestertown.

HowChow posts about the particularities of pickles.

Jessie X posts about her relationship with "stuff" (an issue that Indiana Jane would like me to resolve for myself).

And that's all for this wet Monday.  I hope you find something exciting at work to get you through the day, or otherwise have some motivation to get you to the weekend.  If you hate your job, leave.  If someone asks you how you're doing today, say "Great" even if you don't feel it.  You'll be surprised at how it changes your mood.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

HoCo Rising Reviews: Pho Dat Thanh

Disclaimer: This is not a food blog.  However, from time to time I like to speak to you viewers about some good grub I find in our little corner of the universe.

Frequent readers know that Indiana Jane had some body parts (i.e., wisdom teeth) removed this past week, and has been laid up eating rice crispies, Boston Market mashed potatoes, pudding, frozen yogurt, and Chick-fil-a Milkshakes for the past three days.  Having a bit too much of the sweet, we thought we would try some soup for dinner.  Not just any soup.  Pho soup...not faux...pho.

I had tried Pho Dat Thanh with my Dad about six months ago, and thought it was "ok" at best.  Shortly after, I saw this review in HowChow and thought "Hey, that's not my experience at all...and I normally agree with HowChow."  Hence, Round two.

My round two with any restaurant where I previously had an "ok" experience is normally "by the book" on what the review says.  This time was no different.  Per HowChow's review, I ordered the Sugar Cane Shrimp and Clay Pot Ginger Chicken.  (Jane got the teeth and all).  Both of the dishes I ordered were fantastic, although neither were Pho.  All of the previous reviews I had read say "go there for the pho," which would not be my recommendation to you.  Rather, I would suggest you "go there for the Clay Pot Chicken, and stay for the Sugar Cane Shrimp."  The Clay Pot Chicken was flavorful and distinct from anything I've ever had.  The Sugar Cane Shrimp, despite the unappetizing description of "shrimp loaf," tasted like a charbroiled satay with a subtle shrimp flavor at the back end.  I probably ate too much, but I would agree with HowChow's description of "full but healthy."

Bottom Line: 1) If you are trying to find a new place to eat, peruse HowChow first; 2) Pho Dat Thanh's best offering is not the soup.

Politics and Social Justice

I'm not going to write up a full set of links today (although my 50 miler did get rained out), but I wanted to refer bored readers to this piece by Dan Rodricks.  I've interacted with Dan on a few occasions during my work in Baltimore City with ex-offenders and the Martin Luther King Jr. Job Fair at St. Frances Academy.  I think Dan is passionate about re-immersion programs and reconciliation, and that his articles can change some minds about those with criminal pasts.

Today's op/ed addresses one of the rare areas where social justice meets politics.  Yes, rare.  More often than not, politicians talk about the "little guy," the "silent majority," the poor, the sick, the downtrodden, etc., but do very little about these populations once elected.  I don't cite this piece because it is particularly favorable for Ehrlich, although I do think it is important to note that Dan would probably rather lost his wallet than say anything nice about the former Governor.

The real shame is that this division between social justice and politics exist.  Most of the time it is because in order to really do any good, you have to be controversial.  Working at a soup kitchen on Route One sounds like it is "all good" until you realize that 4-5 people you are serving have drugs on them that could get the entire room in trouble with the law.  Another 4-5 are former sex offenders.  2-3 may be wanted criminals.  But you serve them all the same because you need to bifurcate "good" from "law."  There's a difference.  A very unfortunate difference.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kirsch Beats Odum

Wow.  This Columbia-outsider is surprised.  According to the article, Phil Kirsch won by a large margin (415-268).  If this was a proxy war, pro-CB 58/59 troops just lost the Spainish Civil War.

Reporting on Sun Reporting (Saturday Morning Links)

To geek out a bit, I felt like I was on the TV show Lost last night.  Jane has to take pain pills every couple hours or wade into the mess of pain that is attendant with pulled wisdom teeth.  I felt like Desmond from the TV show Lost, setting my alarm to go off twice last night for pill admin.  I even had dreams about it.  Needless to say, I'm a little tired after disallowing myself any real REM sleep, and generally freaking out about an important responsibility while I was trying to sleep.  I'll have to second one of the commenters over at Wordbone's place in saying that "I can't wait to see what happens when I have kids." 

First off, the Howard section.

The headline for Mr. Carson's article about Ken's budget is "Ulman leaves little to cut from $1.44 billion budget."  Isn't that for the council to decide Larry?  Or, frankly, anyone other than a journalist?  Maybe an editorial?  Within this piece, Ulman gives an honest assessment of Healthy Howard, which I think is the closest to accurate that we've heard from this administration about the program.  He says that cutting the program now would put "hundreds of people" in peril.  The last estimate was that HHAP has about 600 participants.  This budget allocates $500,000 to HHAP, which means we are spending approximately $800 a participant.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, as a taxpayer, I would be more comfortable with this progam if it were more transparent.  We may go three to four months without knowing how many participants we have, or where the money is going (other than the ridiculous "health advisors"). 

I appreciate that Executive Ulman is putting $60,000 towards the Community Action Council and Grassroots.  These are two organizations that do a lot with a little, and show the power of private/public partnerships (what HHAP was supposed to be).

It is also interesting to me that in a year when the County almost had to pull out of the Rainy Day Fund, they are putting $6 million more into the pot.  Why can't this money, at least, be used to off-set county furloughs?  I agree with PZGURU's comment that government workers should not be shielded from the bad economy, but I also think that to the extent furloughs are unnecessary, they should be avoided.  County workers are not punching bags.  Furthermore, furloughs get in the way of the county doing those basic tasks that our business community needs to function, such as licensing, permits, and the like.  Maybe somebody has Moody's on the brain.

The Political Notebook section discusses the populist sentiment that is felt across the country in this election cycle.  Liz Bobo is featured as a politician looking to tame this pony.  Mr. Carson also covered a media luncheon put on by the GOP candidates for State legislature, wherein Ed Priola noted his support for term limits to prevent career politicians, and a general disagreement with 90-day legislative sessions that prevent "regular folk" (my term) from running for office.  Despite the fact that my own belief is that regular people don't run for office for the same reasons that you don't join a Bar Crawl on Bar seven, I appreciate Ed's comments on this point, and hope he stays true to them when he is elected.

John Bailey takes another kick in the tush in Larry's description of him as a "newly-minted Democrat" and his fundraiser as "lightly-attended" (I'm not criticizing the adjectives, just noting that they may have made the candidate wince).  The sentiment of the piece was that socially moderate pro-busines Republicans may not have a home in this county, where the GOP Club focuses its efforts on the Tax Day Tea Party Rally in Washington, DC.  Joan Lancos, former opponent of Ken Ulman for County Council who is cited in this article, has been mostly absent from the Republican scene for the past three years, and this may be why.

Russ Swatek is quoted as saying that they are still collecting signatures, and that a lawsuit may be pending.  From the article: "The idea is to turn in the required 5,000 names anyway, so that if a suit is filed and is successful, the referendum could go forward, Swatek said."  Well Russ, I hate to burst your bubble, but I'm still waiting on the resolution of a motion I filed in August.  The wheels of justice ain't so fast.

Other links:
The Preakness embraces its drunken, dirty, smelly, drunken, grimy, drunken roots.

This article addresses the sentencing of an Ellicott City man convicted of sexually abusing an 11 year old.  Don't miss this comment:

You heterosexuals make me sick.  Can't you control your deviant sexual desires?  I can't believe you are trying to recruit these innocent children into your abhorrent lifestyle.  It is an abomination.
 The door for corruption may creak a little wider.

I'm tempted to start a "Shooting Tally" on this site.  Howard County isn't in Kansas anymore.

Wordbones takes some pictures from around the area in his "Scene This Week" post.

Jessie X is a VIP in the inter-generational communications field.

HowChow posts about Shaw Farms.

Official HCR Endorsement: Vote for John Boyle (if you don't like me or my site, John Boyle stinks and I will only be happy if he suffers an overwhelming loss of epic proportions).

Today is a little less busy than last Saturday, but I have a 50 mile bike ride tomorrow (unless it rains).  Hopefully I get a chance to enjoy the weather and MAYBE, just maybe, finally get over to Sidamo for coffee.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wilde Lake Show Down

I'm not sure how many people know this, but I'm a Columbia outsider.  I live just on the other side of 108 next to Centennial Lake, and my mail says "Ellicott City" (while my bill for CA fees says "Pay Me").  I don't live on a road named after a poem, and my village board, Dorsey Search, is normally an uncontested election.

All that said, I find the Wilde Lake CA Election to be...let's just say "goofy."  I've heard more about "mistruths" than I have about what the two candidates (Phil Kirsch and Linda Odum) will and won't do once elected.  After visiting Linda Odum's website, I can say that she wants the village center to be revitalized, she'll vote on tough issues, and will be civil with CA board members and staff.  Searching for Phil Kirsh's name, I've come to the understanding that the blogs and newspapers have a lot to say about him, and he tends to have the support of the CCD/TAG crowd.  All indications are that this is another proxy war leading up to the Bobo/Bailey match in the Dem primary (although Columbia 2.0 says that Bobo has changed her tune on GGP).

Bill Santos over at Columbia Compass writes a well thought-out and overwhelmingly fair blog post about some perceived "fibs" in the Columbia Flier's letters to the editor.  I would welcome any commenter to let me know from the other side whether Phil is dealing with the same issues.  I imagine he is.  Both sides of this "to CB 58/59, or not to CB 58/59" debate accuse the other of lying on a somewhat frequent basis.  The only constant in this debate is that normally the NCA side has some faces that I can follow up with and hold accountable for their original contentions, while the other side does not (other than Alan, who really isn't a frequent reader/commenter here).  Anonymous posts are always welcome, but as they say in the law, it goes to the weight of your statement, not its admissibility.  You're welcome to say it, but don't be offended if people are not persuaded.

Late Friday Links

Good Morning Folks,
Indiana Jane has to get some body parts (wisdom teeth) removed this morning, and she needs a gas caddy, so I will be working from home today.  I was able to sleep in a little, which is always nice, but it certainly rocked the boat a bit as far as my routine of getting links up by 6:30 a.m.  Without further ado:

I read the title of this article about the Vatican and Stem Cell Research twice before I understood what was going on.  The basic truth is that if you are younger than 40, the delay in funding stem cell research will cause you or someone you love to suffer from a disease that they may not have otherwise had to endure.  I applaud the Vatican for getting involved in this effort, but it is my understanding that embriotic stem cells cannot be replicated or replaced in this process.

BGE bills are going down starting in July.

Howard County undercover operation results in 27 guys crying in a police van.  Not only that, but the Sun put all of their names in the paper.  My favorite name is "Philippe Shakespeare Paul" because you get the feeling that when that name was given, they expected it to be in the newspaper one day...but not for pricing out a "good time."

Ken and Martin (would their US Weekly name be "K-Mart" or "Marten") installed solar panels on a Howard County families home yesterday.  More details here (and a picture!).

Anne Arundel undergoes the boogey-man of all Howard County parents: school redistricting.  And I think we have another round coming soon.

(Gratuitous back-slapping warning)  I had the pleasure of speaking with Bill from over at Columbia Compass yesterday.  He's working up a post on the contentious Wilde Lake CA Election.  This election is so contentious, that I looked for an article on Explore Howard about the race, and the closest I came was the paper's endorsement of Odum.  I am excited to see what Bill posts, as it appears there have been some mistruths about the candidates night that have appeared in the Letters to the Editor of the Columbia Flier.  I don't have first hand knowledge of this, so I can't say too much, but I look forward to reading it.

Tell Your Neighbors posts about Howard's favorite method of philanthropy: Drinking for charity.

Jessie X talks about her fairy ring (i.e., shroom circle), which is pretty darn cool.

Columbia Talk warns about traffic this Sunday due to the Triathlon.  This is one event I am not participating in, mostly because I found out about it too late to sign up.  I will, however, be biking 50 miles for Autism with ROAR on that day.  Wish me luck.

Wordbones gets his Earth Day on.

That is all my friends.  I know I've been nothing but the link posts recently, but I really have been busy (despite my detractors) and, besides that, haven't had too much to spout about.  You should have seen at least one of the candidates for office in this county out sign waving by now.  Pretty soon they will be at your door.  When they get there, I hope you engage them and really evaluate the candidate.  Our incumbents have records.  Our challengers (should) have new goals.  We are the employers, coo coo ca-choo.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Through the Fog (Thursday Links)

Ken Ulman's budget deficit solution came out yesterday.  My biggest gripe is that I think it is unfortunate that our county workers will have to draw out of their own "rainy day fund" to cover the lost salary caused by furloughs and lost inflation raises, rather than have the county use its own "rainy day fund" to cover what all county mouth-pieces have called a "rainy day."  (Maybe if it was called the "Snow is pretty darn expensive" fund, county workers wouldn't have had to have gone on furlough).  Frequent readers know I am a little sensitive on this point as my wife had to go on furlough while working for the University of Maryland as we were saving for our wedding.  It is certainly preferable to layoffs, but I don't think the county should have to pass the buck onto its workers (on Administrative Professional Day of all days!).  A thunder awareness PR campaign here, a HHAP program there, and we're trimming down the budget in sustainable ways that will not ony fix this year, but also next.

I am sure Ken was not happy about having to furlough employees, and saw the rainy day fund as a solution of weakness, but I hope the council finds a way to take the burden off the unelected employees.  That's what they're paid to do.

Ulysses Currie, one of our most influential State Senators, will be investigated by the State Prosecutor's Office.  I can just see the other Senators calling him up "Oh yeah Ulysses, everything will be fine.  But you don't need to tell them anything about me, ok?"

For my Baltimore City readership (yes, they exist), your Council, for lack of better things to do, is working to get you FiOs.

Good job, SRB.  We now have an Ethics board in Baltimore City be continued.

And good luck to Brian Meshkin, who has announced his candidacy for the Board of Education.  I like his innovative ideas, and know him to be a strong proponent of healthier eating in the school system.  Brian's website can be found here, where you can read a little more about his fascinating lobbying effort (at 13 years of age) for the enactment of the first bicycle helmet law in the United States (and I just lost Brian the libertarian vote).

WB reviews the heroes of the Columbia Redevelopment Effort.  Anonymi should have a feast there.

Freemarket comments on the Ulman budget and Bee Blogs.

HowChow encourages you to "poke" Victoria's...or just become "friends" with more HoCo Restaurants.

Hedgehog had cool little kid hair.

These morning posts normally take me almost exactly 30 minutes.  I feel like I am getting it down to a science.  I hope nothing more interesting happens in the near future.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Peak Day (Wednesday Links)

The week is moving along swiftly, and the weather can't decide if it will let us have a warm spring (or at least not warm spring mornings).  Nothing too interesting happening on my end, so I'm going to go right into the links:

This Wells Fargo suit is turing into a creative writing class for plaintiffs' lawyers.  Now they want to hold Wells accountable for the blight caused by foreclosed homes?  Too bad we can't give legislative immunity a shake.  I would love to see some suits against all the politicians that guaranteed everyone a home, and then said they would like the bankers figure out the "math stuff."

Ocean City drops recylcing program, during Green month no less, to save approximately $1 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.  I think OC knows best what cuts it needs to make, and I applaud their government for making a politically unfavorable choice that was necessary to have a fiscally sound budget.

The Dem's witch-hunt with regard to Ehrlich's radio show is getting a little childish.  Correction: Always was, and continues to be, childish. 

I wouldn't buy this house for $2, much less $200,000, but I am glad the money is being put towards the victims.

Merriweather concert line-up is reviewed.

This story about the "expansion" of the Wilde Lake boundaries made me laugh.  It brings up the on-going conversation of who follows local politics and why these issues matter (or don't).  Princeton Sports would appear to be playing the role of innocent bystander going "What the hell is going on?  Stop saying the word 'collaboration' and why does everyone want to give me a hug?"

Speaking of which, the growing "stand-off" between the merchants in the Wilde Lake Village Center and Kimco is fascinating.  Why not just put in a Wegman's?  What?  Touchy subject?

WB discusses Courtney Watson's "I'm still here" party.

Hayduke speaks from the grave!

HowChow has a really (as my Mom would say) "fun" post about a night at Portalli's.  As a former busboy (Toby's), Waiter (Uno's), and Bartender (all over the place), I completely agree with Sarah's assessment of the need to "compose yourself."  Those jobs can be some of the most stressful in the world.  That's why 20% is my baseline tip, unless you really screw up, or tick off my wife.

Interesting post over at Columbia Talk about how HoCo Schools are messing with the reverred, though normally poorly executed, "Take Your Child to Work Day."  The new prefix is "Don't."

That's just about all I'm seeing in the blogosphere, but please send me links for other sites you think should be included in the daily round-up.  As always, I appreciate your readership and hope I say something interesting enough to make you want to comment.  TTFN

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Talking Demographics (Tuesday Morning Links)

Good Morning Constant Reader,
I hope your house is warmer than mine and that you were able to fit in a few more hours of sleep.  I don't have too much to say, as I spent most of my energy on WB's comment section yesterday, but maybe that will change as I "lounge" around my us childless white males are wont to do (ok, I'm done with that, promise).

Links?  Let's.

Baltimore is working towards more "sustainability."  I apologize if I find this effort slightly "off" in the face of failing schools and a significant crime problem.  I know the government has to be responsible for many different things, and cannot just focus on education and crime...but maybe it should give it a try (and throw graft in there for good measure).

State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh is retiring.  I once tried to get a job with the state prosecutors' office (you all know how much I love politicians), but my salary would have been significantly less that Sheila's remaining pension, so I was forced to pass.

It will be tough to fill Baltimore County Executive James Smith's shoes.  I admittedly have not paid as much attention to BalCo as I have HoCo, but everything I've seen, I've liked.

Speaking of which, thumbs up to Executive Ulman for using our stimulus environmental grant on pinpoint expenses that will not over-extend the county for future budgets:
The county is using most of a $2.6 million federal stimulus environmental grant to buy an all-electric truck for the county landfill and a hybrid diesel truck, replace lighting at Cedar Lane Park, monitor and cut energy use in individual county buildings and use methane gas from the county landfill to power buildings there.
O'Governor could take some tips here.

Wordbones posts about Cyber Wars and Richard Clarke.

HowChow keeps on keeping on with the Trolling Effort.  I really hope it takes off...but maybe people don't want to think of themselves as "Trolls."

That's just about all for today.  Indiana Jane is sick, so please send all the good ju ju that made me better her way.  I don't know what this house would be like if we had a germ factory (i.e., child) to add to the mix.  I imagine we would be sick about 6 months out of the year.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Downtime With Hayduke

I had the opportunity to meet with Hayduke for drinks this afternoon after work.  Meeting with him made me even more sad that his blog is no longer around, especially since, as a father, he would avoid the "childless white male" demographic that appears to be the excess quantity in our blogosphere (despite the fact that I may be one of two childless white bloggers, out of about seven...but don't let that get in the way of a good PC argument).

We have a very similiar view towards politics, although we may wear different color ties.  The whole "team sport" and "we're all in this together" nonsense is not our bag, and we avoid making judgments on politicos based on what side of the aisle they sit.  We have our preferences (which, in my own regard, I would be fine calling a "prejudice") but those preferences aren't the final line on who we support.

I think it is very impressive that Hayduke has been able to parlay his blog (and community activism) into a job with the gubment, although I know some of you have a much more colorful way to describe this career move.  Unfortunately, the most you can expect out of this hobby is random attacks from Anonymous voices, and the occasional press release about how the Wig Man is running again for County Executive.  It is nice to see a good blog turn into something good for the blogger. 

(County Enigma, I extended him your hello.  He says "Uh, yeah I think I know who that is.")

I'm pretty sure I made a friend today, and that may be just another one of those occassional bonuses that this hobby pulls in.

Can't Trust That Day (Monday Links)

For those that were interested, the 10K went very well.  I surpassed by 5K personal record twice, coming in at a time of 51:56.  This was a very hilly course (i.e., that big ole hill next to Centennial Lake was the piece de resistance), so my legs feel like bricks today, but I thought it was very well done and truly appreciate all of the police officers that were out to block off the roads (and hope my race fee helped pay for that).

Saturday at the shelter also went well.  I'm cautious about posting about those experiences, as I don't want to breach the confidentiality and dignity of the people there.  I strongly recommend taking some time over your weekend or even on a weekday to get out to the shelter (right next to the intersection of Rte 1 and 32) to volunteer your time and companionship.  I go to help people with legal troubles, but everyone has skills they may lend, even if it isn't your 9-5 profession.

Links (Not Much):

Orioles Magic, feel it happen...that's two wins.

This FreeSail operation in Annapolis seems very cool.  Has anyone tried it?

The Baltimore City Circulator: A first person perspective.

Freemarket comments on HHAP's switch and ridiculous farm subsidies.

Wordbones covers John Bailey's fundraiser (and takes an unfortunate picture to boot).  I really wonder where the Chamber and NCA were for this.  Liz Bobo has been a target for anti-TAG folks, and now that TAG has faded into the sunset, I would expect those same folks to put their bite where their bark is.  Maybe $100 a head is too steep, or maybe they realize that Liz never placed a vote for or agin' the redevelopment bills, but I thought this would be the Dem proxy war on CB 58 & 59.

(David Yungman's comment below added some context: First, the photo is misleading as neither room was ever empty. Second, John unfortunately scheduled his fundraiser the same night as another majot event in town which attracted 500+ of the people who frequent these types of events. While that kept attendance lower than he would have liked, he sold dozens of tickets to people who wanted to contribute but did not come in person. Financial supporters already include several high profile contributors as well, which will only help fundraising down the road. The event raised money and that's the key. And even though John is running for a State Delegate seat and NCA is focused on local issues, everyone in the NCA leadership attended and supports John. Whether your issues are local or statewide, replacing the intrenched Bobo, who represents much of the problem in Annapolis and prefers meddling in local affairs, is a worthwhile effort.)

Tell Your Neighbors invites you to the Columbia Foundation's Spring Party.

Hedgehog covers the Murphy-nian candidate.

HowChow is joining the Buckland Farms CSA too!  That makes at least three blogs (Jessie X, HowChow, and myself) that will be eating locally (and healthy) this summer.

I hope you all have a nice Monday and avoid the Spring Bug that's going around.  I'll be meeting up with local blogger alumni Hayduke for wine this afternoon.  One more reason to start a blog.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Donkey Talk

WB has a pretty interesting post about how there is a dearth of left-leaning blogs in our county.  This stirred up a great deal of comments, which I really enjoyed (and fully participated in).

First, as I said, I feel like 53 Beers has the left side on lock-down, regardless of the classification on HoCoBlogs (which I thought were self-assigning anyway).

Second, from talking to WB and some other local bloggers, the motivation to start writing a blog normally comes from some sort of frustration.  In my case, I was tired of sending Letters to the Editor for every Baltimore Sun story that I felt skewed the facts.  I wonder if that same motivation exists for potential Dem bloggers, other than their frustration with the nonsense spewed on these pages.

I really hope a left leaning blog pops up, and would be more than happy to show them the ropes as far as the more technical aspects.  The most important skill is developing a thick skin and not being easily influenced.  An unstated problem with a lib-blogger, to the extent they try to stay "independent," is that, if they are doing their job right, they will piss off their electeds, of which there are many more in blue than red.

If anyone wants to give it a try, I would be more than happy to take a guest post (as long as it is at least signed with a moniker).  You can see what kind of interest it drums up and what kind of welcome the Anonymi have in store for you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Healthy Howard Will Cease To Exist - Beilenson

Larry Carson writes about Healthy Howard's step into the brave new world of universal health care.  Beilenson imagines Healthy Howard morphing into an insurance co-op for all of Central Maryland (presumably with a less "Howard-ish" name):

A co-op is owned by the participants and operated for their benefit, and its profits are rolled back into the company – for example, used to lower premiums or other costs.
 Ken Ulman is quoted as saying his "fondest hope 'from day one' was that 'the federal government would put us out of business.'"  I bet his second fondest hope was that the program was as effective as he and Dr. Beilenson originally promised.  If you click to the third page of the online version, you will see a break-down of HHAP's history:

Healthy Howard has about 600 enrollees, Beilenson said. Another 180 received health care through it but have left the program as their circumstances have changed, he said. Enrollment is a far cry from predictions of 2,000 enrollees in the first year.
The first year, by the way, was 2008.  A year and a half, and $1 million (approximately $1,300 per participant from county coffers) later, the program's legacy is...well...lacking.  It has certainly been a darling for the press, but I don't think anyone would be able to credibly call it a success.  It appears as if this co-op effort, fundamentally changing HHAP in just about every way, is a face-saving maneuver so as to avoid the possibility of closing shop on a failed experiment.  It is much nicer to talk about "growth and change."

The Murphy-nian Candidate

(Too much?  Nah)

A quick post about the effect Brian Murphy is going to have on the Gubernatorial GOP Primary (and maybe a discussion of why I don't trust my ability to spell "gubernatorial" without popping into Word to use the spell-check).  Ehrlich can dismiss Murphy all he wants, but there is this new and undefined constituency best known as the "Tea Party" (recent offense has been taken at the descriptive "Tea Baggers"), and I would say that if Murphy gets their support, he is going to be a big ole thorn in Ehrlich's reunion tour.  I get the feeling that Murphy, to the extent he and Carmen stay relevant, will drive Ehrlich's candidacy much further to the right than I believe he is comfortable, and put a damper on the moderate base that Ehrlich needs to win to woo this mighty blue state.

My sources tell me that there have already been talks almongst the moderate blues in HoCo that Ehrlich's flirting with the Tea Party is concerning, and would drive them back into the arms of the Irish crooner that they have become disenchanted with.  This isn't passing judgment on the Tea Party, or anything they stand for, but an honest evaluation of "how it is" in terms of state politics.

I would be interested to hear what you all may have to say about Mr. Murphy, who has already pulled in the support of former GOP Chairman Jim Pelura (after possibly moving on to other lobbying efforts).  This is a serious candidate, and he is going to have some serious effects on this November's election, whether he is on the ballot or not.

A Day "Off" (Saturday Morning Links)

Good morning fellow Howard Countians!  I hope you have something planned for the day that you are looking forward to, other than the expected honey-do (and darling-do for the female readership) list.  I am going to try my best to fit my first Sidamo visit into todays schedule, but am not overly optimistic. 

Anyway, I was able to find a nook of time to plop down some links for you to enjoy with the second most leisurely coffee of the week (Sunday taken the prize on that one).

First, quick report on the Sun's Howard reporting, there is a fawning article on Columbia Association's President Phillip Nelson.  If anyone could fashion a Camp David-like meeting between NCA and CCD, it would appear to be Mr. Nelson.  Everyone, from Greg Hamm to Russ Swatek, loves this guy!  Do we have an ATTT with Phil?  Can we get that in the pipeline?  I've got a fever, and the only prescription is Phil Nelson on ATTT (not really, but the Christopher Walken spirit moved me, and you don't fight the CW spirit).

The Sun puts together a nice piece of journalism about Baltimore City Council member Bernard "Jack" Young's questionable housing "activities."  I say "activities" because it started with a residency requirement, and has now moved on to the potential misuse of $20,000 in federal funds.  This guy is a piece of work.  If you haven't seen the home tour video wherein Councilman Young proves his residency via his favorite ice cream being in the freezer, I would highly recommend checking it out.

I know I mentioned it yesterday, but this article about a Bryant Woods Elementary School teacher's assistant is flatly inexcusable.  The TA is accused of sexually assaulting two children in 2009.  My question is, how did he get his job in the first place:
In 1994, Walker was charged with battery, but granted probation before judgment in a Baltimore County case. He was jailed in 1998 and again in 2000 when judges ruled he failed to pay child support.
There is no reason someone with a criminal record including the word "battery" should be working in our school system.  Period.  I don't care that he received PBJ.  This, my friends, will almost certainly be a lawsuit.

The failure to prosecute John Paulson in the Goldman Sach's SEC mess is entirely predictable.  It fits right into the Hollywood formula for a sequel.

I've talked about political cowardice here before, but here is an example of the opposite.  Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, has basically gone to the legislature, told them they are going to make some painful budget moves, but assured them that he would be the face of those actions and take whatever blame the electorate may dish.  We need this in Maryland. 

Columbia Compass discusses all of the play our surrounding local bloggers are getting, and thinks maybe our crew should get together for a chat.

Tell Your Neighbors says that if you feel like getting off your duff for once, maybe you can make a change in the environment (ok, he doesn't put it that way, but he's running for office and if he didn't have to play nice I bet that's what he would have said).

That's just about all for this fine April Morning.  I think that after the original scare factor of the Disqus comment system wore off, people have come back to the discussion board (BTW: there are many ways to remain anonymous, as my most loyal critics have found).

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday, the Day of Days (Friday Morning Links)

Good morning, ladies and gents!  I am in a great mood today because 1) I feel great and 2) It is Friday!  I went for an 8 mile bike ride around Centennial, up Fredrick Road, and back down Columbia Road, and nary a cough stumbled my stride.  This should mean that I will be ready to go for the Clyde's 10K this Sunday

Between visits to the Rte 1 Day Center and door knocking with my favorite candidate, I don't think I will get a chance to post tomorrow, but I will try.  Site traffic is normally pretty low on the weekend, which would seem to be counter-intuitive, unless I concede that my site is only a distraction between coffee breaks...which I am certainly willing to accept.

Let's blow out some links to start off our weekend eve:

I am very happy with my President today (gasp). 

First, I think the Executive Order to allow same-sex partners the same hospital visitation rights and health care decision-making power as married couples truly frames this entire "marriage rights" issue.  All of the "sister-kisser and goat-lover" arguments fall short when you realize that this is about the people we choose to spend our most troubled and intimate times with.  I doubt anyone short of the Westboro Baptist Church would be unable to find this measure as humane and necessary.  Whether or not God made Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve doesn't really matter when you have days to live, and you want to be with the person you love.

Second, we're going to Mars!!  The NASA program is a fascinating crossroads of private and public intiative that has been an engine for technological innovation for the past two generations.  It has also provided a convenient punching bag for finance cuts due to the huge budget that is required to maintain these programs.  There may be a passive agressive restart of the space race...whoops, wrong Mars.  Either way, I've always been a space nut who is bad at math, so I am excited to see this kind of initiative (and am glad the second attempt to put a Man on the Moon was quashed...been derr, done dat).

If your name is Thomas Andrews Blake and you used to work for the, sir, are in t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Sex abuse in Columbia school.  I may have a selective memory, but it seems like this has been an issue for our schools.  I recall there being two teachers from last year that were caught having inappropriate contact with students.  The bigger question is: Can we do anything about it? 

I get the feeling that Phil Kirsch and Linda Odum will not be having tea after this whole Wilde Lake Village Board election is over.

I posted about WB's take on Tom D'Asto's candidacy yesterday, but you should also check out this Tax Day tribute he posted.  "It's an H-o-o-t Hoot, that's what that is" (name the TV show).

Yep, me too, Hedgehog.

HowChow gives me a shout out for leading an "alcohol-based fire brigade" to help out Iron Bridge.  "Ours is not to reason why Ours is but to do and die."  There is also a good post about the new farmers markets in HoCo, one of which is right by my house!!!  (Thanks HowChow)

Tell Your Neighbors has been rather prolific with the posts recently and I feel bad I haven't kept up with them here.  This is in the midst of a hard fought Village Board election!

Jessie X posts about Facebook games, which may not be your thing, BUT I know from her Facebook feed that she worked hard to get the screenshot video on her site, so make sure to visit.

I hope you all have a great weekend and enjoy the weather (while it is still nice).  Hopefully I will see some of you at the Clyde's 10K.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tom Walks The Plank

Tom D'Asto has officially filed to run for County Council in District 4 against Mary Kay Sigaty.  I believe this was announced at the HoCo GOP Happy Hour last Friday, but I hadn't heard any wind of it until Wordbones's post this afternoon.  WB, as can be expected, takes (veiled) umbrage with Tom's apparent stance against developers and the need to "hold their feet to the fire."  I was going to say that Tom was probably misquoted in painting himself a one issue candidate...until I read this:
"That's all I really have to worry about," D'Asto said. "All the other issues -- we do well with providing for schools in our area, they did a good job clearing the snow off the streets this winter -- I can't complain about that."
 Contentment is a virtue, but not for a political candidate.  From my own brief interactions with Tom, I can tell you he is not your stereotypical egomaniacal candidate.  I honestly believe he is running to make positive change, and not just see his name on some bumper stickers.  However, I am concerned by the apparent one issue platform.  The pirates had a term for that:  The Plank.

I've used a lot of hedging words in this post, because I think it is still early to make any conclusions or criticisms with respect to Tom's candidacy.  However it is never too early to drop a note in the suggestion box.

Iron Bridge Needs Your Help!

If you weren't aware, Iron Bridge's auxillary building caught fire last night.  Thankfully no one was injured, and the damage doesn't appear to be devastating, but they will need your patronage to help pay the bills in the meantime.  Check out their notice to customers:

As many of you have heard by now, one of our auxillary buildings caught fire last night. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But as a result, we will not be able to be open for lunch today or dinner tonight. 
We will be open today until 7:00 pm for wine-to-go sales. We would ask that if you intend on purchasing wine any time in the near future, make it today, or sometime over this weekend. We could really use the help.

We are going to be open for regular business starting tomorrow, April 16th for lunch from 11-2, dinner from 5-11, and light fare in between. We would love to see you over the weekend, and we thank you for your continued support. Call for a reservation at 410-997-3456.

Steve, Rob & The Gang

Iron Bridge Wine Company
If I can't make it myself, I may ask Jane to grab some wine...the one staple you can never have too much of.

I'm Not Dead Yet (Thursday Morning Links)

I have a forumla for fighting colds.  Step 1) Drink an "Airborne" capsule in water and take one Vitamin C supplement an hour with copious amounts of water.  If Step 1) is unsuccessful, move to Step 2) Take over-the-counter meds and work from home with 2-3 one hour naps throughout the day (if possible without losing said job, which pays for napping place and the materials for Step 1); Step 3) Go to doctor.

Step 2 may have cleared me up.  I still have a raspy voice and am slightly clogged up, but overall I feel much better.  Indiana Jane is an amazing sickness co-pilot and nursed me through the nasty parts.  Thank goodness, because I hate Step 3...which normally takes about a week advance notice.

Anyway, you all don't come here to hear about my wheezing.  Links?  Let's.

It is good to hear that the speed cameras in construction zones are working, but I really think all we needed were speed camera signs.

Interesting refocus of Baltimore City school funding.  The article would seem to suggest that Alonso is looking to put more money towards supporting the strong students, at the expense of focusing less on the children that are struggling.  "Struggling" can be interpreted to mean "disinterested," as I learned from my one year inside a DC public school.

Heroic story about a Maryland firefighter working to put out a fire in a parents' home as he is threatened with arrest for failing to leave the building. 

O'Malley's ban on meeting with felon-lobbyists is caput.

Our county's delegation brought home $1.4 million in bond funds from Annapolis.  (Even Wordbones is impressed...sort of.)

Kirsch and Odom debate tot lots and bocce ball in the Wilde Lake village elections.

Hedgehog reports that Brian Murphy will be announcing his running mate on Friday.  I heard this morning that it will be Carmen Amedori of "let his days be few" fame.

HowChow posts about Pure Wine Cafe in Howard County.  I can tell you from my own experience: It stinks.  Indiana Jane and I have walked out of one restaurant in our almost eight years together: Pure Wine Cafe.  The waiter didn't know anything about the food, which came out at the wrong temperature.  When we were trying to decipher what I had ordered from what Jane had ordered (waiter didn't know), the bus boy shrugged and walked away (seemingly to get the manager...nope).  Although my experience was limited to one bite, the food was sub-par.  We were outtie 5,000 after that, and will almost certainly not return.  Especially with Diamondback Tavern just down the stree (two thumbs up).

Now back to work, which surely did not pause to allow me to be sick.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Snarkapatamus Strikes Again (Wednesday Links)

One of my commenters may have had a bit too large of a dose of Nick Jr. or was just so angry that this was the first name that came to his head, but I've been named "Snarkapatamus" (also Snarkatorious, but I don't really like that one) for my comments about the $20 million shortfall.  Evidently, since this is less than 2% of the budget, it is not something we need to worry about.  All good children are also to know better than to criticize their government. 

With government spending, any shoftfall is concerning because even the smallest deficit may be used later to justify a tax increases.  Furthermore, this particular executive has justified additional government programs due to the wealth of our county and our position to spend more on county programs.  Also, it takes some chutzpa to say $20 million is not a lot of money in any circumstance.  How many government jobs could that fund?  How many non-profits could run on that amount of money?  Could I have $20 million?  Please?

Finally, I didn't say he wasn't going to be able to cover the shortfall, Easy-to-offend-apatamus.  I just said that 1) the article made me laugh; and 2) how he covers the shortfall will be important in the coming election.  There is no doubt in my mind that he will be touting this achievement for the next six months, and no one will be talking about how small $20 million is.

Snarkapatmus, out.

(Abbreviated) Links:

This video of the Prince George's County cop beating what we now know to be a UMD student is concerning.

Op/Ed on the rising tide of Maryland bans on everything fun.

Wordbones waxes nostalgic about Manor Road.

Like any good capitalist, Freemarket outsources his blogging for the me and Jessie X.  ("Jessie X and I" just didn't work here, apologies to my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Miller, for that any many other daggers).

Say goodbye to the "Recent Comments" section.  Turns out Disqus doesn't jive with that feature.  I'll be looking into having a Disqus Recent Comments bar, but that may take some digging.

I'm still sick and working from home today.  I think I'm getting better, but that also could just be the Dayquil.  I've never known a cold to only last one day.  In that respect, the flu may have been preferable...but only in that respect.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ulman Budget Fix

Ken Ulman is a man with a plan.  He says he's fixed the $20 million budget shortfall.  The only catch is that it is such a brilliant fix that even he hasn't figured it all out yet:

Ulman said later that the revenue gap would be "a combination of other sources and mid-year savings" from things like surplus funds in various departments, frozen job vacancies and postponed or cancelled spending."We haven't figured it all out yet, " Wacks told the council.

It's shake and bake, and Courtney helped:

Council chairwoman Courtney Watson, an Ellicott City Democrat, vowed to help by reducing the cost of the annual catered delicatessen-style lunch offered employees after the budget bills are voted on May 19. "We're going to scale back the budget lunch given the fiscal condition of the county," she said. Last year's lunch cost $1,011, according to council administrator Stephen LeGendre.

Is it just me, or is this another day that makes you check to make sure you didn't click on The Onion by accident? 

In all fairness, this is a non-story that the Sun decided to run with and Courtney appears to have been stuck with a bad quote.  However, it is clear that the manner in which this $20 million shortfall is addressed (and prevented in future budgets) will paint broad strokes on the November election.  Unlike some other secret plans to solve large problems, Ken has a deadline of April 22nd.  Hopefully the anticipation is worth the wait.

Happy Severe Weather Awareness Week

I came across the following Press Release from the Howard County Government announcing that this is Severe Weather Awareness Week.  Unfortunately, I am a day late in wishing you a Happy Flooding Day, but thankfully did not miss the whimsical evening celebrations and traditional dances that are to be performed on Damaging Winds Day.

Evidently severe weather events do not work on weekends, hence the week only running Monday through Friday.

As always, when thunder roars, spend money telling people to go indoors.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Morning Links

I hope everyone had a good weekend.  Mine flew by, but I ended up getting some good Vitamin D and Vitamin Honey Do at the same time.  Monday can be a downer, but it is also a time to focus on all of the things your hard work has brought you, and all of the professional goals you've set for yourself (or at least that's what I do to keep myself from pouting).  Links?  Lets.

The Sun reviews *what they find to be* some of the most important last minute pieces of legislation that are still holding out hope for passage today.

Senator Joan Conway (7th most influential Senator) shows that she's not afraid to use her influence to benefit her and handful of other people when trying to pass what is referred to as "red-headed eskimo" laws.

SRB and the City Council start the butcher work of government this week...and my guess is that Baltimore City commuters like myself will be getting walloped with a significant new tax.

Santonio Holmes was traded out of the Division?  Glory be!

...and Wordbones is in Pittsburgh while the trade goes down.  Coincidence?

This article by Dahlia Lithwick does not jive with this.

I found this to be an interesting review of the political climate in our county and that we can expect the business community to have a loud voice in the coming election (as opposed to simply making sure they've got money in pockets on both sides of the aisle).  The piece on John Bailey surprised me a little bit.  I don't think he's unnecessarily harsh to his former "team," but I think that too many more "party of 'no'" quotes in the paper will certainly piss off the party of "Yes, John, I'll donate to your campaign" from about four months ago. 

Have a good Monday.  Enjoy it for what it is, and not its distance from Friday.  Somebody, somewhere, is having the best day of their life.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Happening Sunday (Sunday Morning Links)

I apologize for failing to "link it up" yesterday, but I awoke in Baltimore, reflecting sadly on my Orioles jersey.  Believe it or not, but I am going AGAIN today.  I am a Republican in Howard County and an Orioles fan...maybe I should spend some time on the couch.

As Wordbones points out, there is a lot going on in the county today, so if you aren't a glutton for punishment, I recommend you make your way to Ellicott City (and while you're there, pick up some Spring Wine Festival Tickets from the Wine Bin).

The Sun goes Round Two on Republican excitement over the Ehrlich candidacy.  As Hedgehog points out, GOP leaders should probably tread lightly in their praise, considering their sacred vow not to endorse candidates until after the primary (even when there are no other declared candidates).

Sex offender laws are normally the political punching bag of local politics.  That is why I am puzzled by the fact that these bills are having any trouble at all getting through the legislature.  I am a little more hesitant to ramp up these laws too aggressively, since they will end up making it more difficult to build new homeless shelters, which normally end up being the "mailing and residential address" of individuals with less than favorable criminal histories. 

Wait, you're telling me the new health care system is NOT all rainbows and gumdrops?

How many times is Michael Steele going to be allowed to apologize and/or tell the GOP faithful that "everything will be fine" before he's asked to resign?  Here's the explanation:

Still, for all the angst in the GOP over Steele, it's unlikely he will be fired. Ousting a chairman is a complicated, messy process that requires votes of two-thirds of the 168-member RNC. And, while there are both hard-core Steele opponents and fierce Steele allies, several Republican officials at the New Orleans conference said that most committee members and party chairman simply seem to want to move on from the controversy so Republicans can focus on November.

That's all for today.  Have a great one!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

HoCo Rising Reviews: Facci Ristorante

As stated before, this is not a food blog, but I like trying new locally owned restaurants in the county and letting you, the reader, know about my experiences. 

This evening, Indiana Jane and I went to Facci after reading the high praise in the Baltimore Sun.  We had tried to eat their twice previously, but both times were faced with the unacceptable prospect of 30-45 minute waits (we just don't do that).  I told Jane that I really wanted to eat there, and was willing to have an "old-timers" meal time of 5:00 if she was game.  Jane is always game for my hare-brained ideas, so we finished up our yardwork, put our fancy clothes on, and went on our way.

We were seated right away, but I was still surprised at how full it was for 5 pm (and not just with white-heads).  The service was spectacular.  We had water and bread right away and our waitress was over within 2 minutes of us sitting down (as a former waiter, I really care about that stuff).  We were pleased to learn that happy hour is from 4-7 pm every night (including weekends), which meant half-priced appetizers and a dollar off drinks.  As the general manager later told us (get to that later) she does that because some people have to work 7 days a week and there is no reason they shouldn't be able to have happy hour every day that they have to work (cute, I like it).

We had the meatballs for appetizer, and I have to admit that after the raving in the Sun ("absolutely you must have the meatballs"), I was a little disappointed.  I would say you do not have to have the meatballs.  I saw a lot of other people get the Shrimp Gondola, which looked awesome and will be on my target list for next time.

For entrees, I ordered the Montese Pizza.  I have never previously found pizza to be "refreshing," but this one certainly was.  The arugala really makes the meal, and made me feel like I could still put in a couple miles of running (had I not also been enjoying dollar off glasses of wine).  The imported dough didn't knock me off my feet, but I could see it being featured in some of the white pizzas that are on the menu.  Indiana Jane had the gnocchi, which she wasn't too thrilled with, but I thought was good.  It came in a shockingly orange sauce, that I thought was tasty.  Jane likes her food a little more bland than I do (although I'm sure she would describe her tastes differently).

As we were perusing the dessert menu, general manager Lisa Passalacqua came over to say hi.  This woman is the jewel of the restaurant.  She was incredibly personable and knew the menu backwards and forwards.  She explained why they had certain dishes, recommended others for future visits, and sterred us in the right direction on desert choices.  It is very unlikely this restaurant will have any problems as long as Lisa is there.

I ordered the Zabaglione Fragole (strawberries in cream, which is an understatement) and Jane had the chocolate gelato.  Wow.  The Fragole was absolutely amazing.  If and when you try it for yourself, it will be a "meal to remember."  The gelato was good, but both Jane and I agreed that the fragole won the prize and would be a reason alone to come back.

Bottom Line: Is it worth waiting 30-45 minutes to get a table?  No, but we don't really think any place is worth that kind of wait (except Chipotle, but I have a burrito fetish).  Is it worth eating at old-people-time to try this great new place?  Absolutely positively yes.

Friday, April 9, 2010

TAG Referendum is Morte

(i.e. Dead)

Petition CB59-2009

UNOFFICIAL Petition Statistics Summary as of 4:15pm on 04/08/2010.

Valid Signatures required for Referendum to Continue: 2501

Signatures Submitted: 3491

Signatures Reviewed: 3370

Valid Signatures: 2144

Invalid Signatures: 1226

Opening Day at Camden Yards (Friday Morning Links)

Don't worry, still not a sports blog BUT today is Opening Day at Camden Yards!!  I am very excited about going to the game today, especially since they were able to pull out a heart attack of a game last night (pop out to right field with bases loaded, 5-4 win).

Isn't there some sort of golf thing going on?

Met with Freemarket for beers last night.  Great guy all around.  We talked about why we write "anonymously" (in quotes due to my lax militancy on my own anonymity) and how mad it seems to make some people.  We also joked about those that post Anonymous comments with a clearly decipherable pen-print.  Overall a great time and one of the real benefits of having a local blog.

While Annapolis bar fires are not funny, this little quote is:

The governor's security noticed the smell and quickly escorted O'Malley to his black SUV.
Upon seeing the governor leave, dozens of lawmakers and lobbyists followed suit.

Dear Gov, it is ok to yell "fire" when there actually is one.  Sincerely, HCR.  (By the way, I would love to see if this party was bankrolled by anyone.  If I were to guess, I would say it starts with L and ends with iquor lobby.)

Wait, Crime-stat is an unnecessary bureaucratic waste of time?  But O'Malley said it saved Baltimore!

Kudos to the Howard County Police Department for nabbing two suspects from the incidences of suburban warfare that occurred earlier this week.

The budget deal that is being rammed through by the Democrats is a showcase of political cowardice.  In no uncertain terms, this budget WILL leave a shorfall next year, despite one-time fix-its like "fund transfers" to make up the difference in this year.  You know its bad when even the Sun has a hard time painting roses on the pig's behind.

Approximately 189 people from Baltimore City and Baltimore County intentionally voted twice last election

HowChow reviews a juicer that they were given to try out.  In other news, Johnny Quest thinks HowChow sold out (just kidding).

Apparently a lazy Thursday for local bloggers.  Have a great Friday (redundant) and if you're going to the game, drop me a line and we can try to meet up.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stormin' Norman...dy

The Normandy Shopping Center may be getting the opportunity for new life this session.  Having been recently over there to get my bike, I can say that it certainly seemed more in need of a make-over than any of the other properties in Columbia that are said to have vermin and the like.  Left unmentioned in this article is Normany's Neighbor, and forever foe of Howard County politicians, the one, the only, THE PACK SHACK.  I can only guess how successful the proposed new apartment building will be if prospective tenants have to drive past this piece of Americana on their way to making their lodging choices, especially in light of the new and wonderful things that will be going on in Columbia.

Brief Thursday Links

Dog is still sick, which means my mornings are otherwise "claimed."  Here's what I got:

Ok NOW it's official.  Some people say based on different factors in a race, you run on different planes:  Experience, Party, or Issues.  In this case, both governors will have to run entirely on issues, which will make it a fun campaign to watch no matter what party you belong to.

Pollen may be at an all time high this spring.  I've never had allergies before, but I'm feeling them now.

Health of the Chesapeake Bay may be improving, but that doesn't mean it's healthy.

Down goes the Baltimore City garden.  This is a real shame, but I think it was really little more than a PR move to begin with.  It would be nice if a non-profit had the resources to keep it going.

Insurance coverage minimums will most likely be going up in Maryland.  As with many laws, the bottom line is "eat it, youngin'":

Those who hold policies with only the minimum coverage could see premiums rise an estimated $300 for a young male car owner in Baltimore, where vehicle owners pay the highest rates in the state, according to insurance officials

Five shootings in one day!

Freemarket makes me laugh again.  Talking about Pendergrass's desk slamming temper-tantrum, he says:
I know that SWPL [Stuff White People Like -- it's a website] Columbia liberals love to be offended almost as much as they like farmers markets and free health care, but do me a favor and just try to get along with the Christians so you can get the budget problem fixed without taxing me to death.

Wordbones talks about the local real estate market.  All I know is that Willow has told me that my house has gone up 1.5% after about two years of "Your property has decreased in value by [delete]."

Hedgehog covered the TAG shortfall before the Sun got around to it, and I feel bad for missing the opportunity to give him a shout out.

HowChow says we are about to get some Frozen Custard up in this piece.

Just a reminder that the HoCo Blogging Community's own John Gordon Boyle is running for the Village Board in Owen Brown.  If you live in that neighborhood, rock the vote (preferably for John).

I may be paranoid, but it seems like there's been a down-tick in comments since the change.  If you don't like the new format, please let me know.  I like it, and as far as I can tell it still allows for Anonymous comments, but makes it easier for those who want to be known to "log in."  You can still comment via the default settings on my older posts.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Good Thing No One Took My Beer Bet: TAG In Trouble

An article in the Sun, citing the HoCo BoE, says that TAG's referendum effort is doomed:

According to board figures, 3,491 names were submitted on Friday, and 2,343 have been reviewed. Of those, 901 were invalid — a 38 percent rejection rate. With just 1,148 names left to review, 1,058 would need to be valid to qualify for the next step, which would equal an 8 percent rejection rate.

There is a reason that the hurdle is high for referenda.   We do not have a direct democracy, and our elected officials are hired to make decisions for the electorate.  I stand by my position that if the referendum fails, I, personally, will no longer consider the redevelopment plan outlined in CB 58 and 59 up for debate.  These measures will still be a focal point of the election, but their validity as laws will not.