Showing posts from May, 2018

An Appropriate Intervention

The County Council will be meeting today to vote on the County budget. Despite the weight of the Ellicott City flooding and its ensuing destruction, council members must address the needs of the entire county and try to make the best decisions for all. I don’t envy them.

One thing that we must address now are the needs of the school system. Council members Calvin Ball and Jen Terrasa have filed an amendment that would stop the proposed increase in class sizes and support HCPSS’s restorative justice program. Amendment 6 to Council Bill 25 would shift 5.1million into the school system’s budget.

I support this. As a teacher and a parent, I know how important class size is. The best way to teach students is to know students. The larger the class, the less possible this becomes. I also support the further funding of Restorative Justice program.

I wrote a letter to the Council last night explaining why I support this amendment. You can, too, but you need to hurry; the meeting starts at eight t…

Lower the Flag

Sending you here today:

National Guardsman's heroism in Ellicott City flood recalled as 'the most Eddie thing ever'
- - Sarah Meehan and Christina Tkacik, Baltimore Sun/Howard County Times

There are some days when it’s best to let the pros do their jobs. This is one of them.


One year ago today:

The Main Drag: HoCo Holler I dropped off two teens for a day of fun yesterday. Their destination? Old Ellicott City. As I turned on to Main Street I couldn't help but recall the horrific scenes of flooding last summer and its devastating aftermath. And now, as I pulled over to let the kids out, I was witnessing such a different scene: a sunny day, folks out and about, many shops beautifully restored.

It's amazing.

I know that there is still work to be done, I know that some businesses suffered losses from which they could not recover. Even taking this into account, the overall recovery of Old Ellicott City is astoundingly good. So many people worked in so many ways to make this happen. Love, determination, hard work, cash and in-kind donations. Creative thinking and problem solving, too.

The recovery in Ellicott City is rather like the proverbial ice berg. You know--the one about how so little of an iceberg is visible. About 7/8 of it is below the surface. There…

Invisible and Delayed

From Freakonomics Radio: The Most Ambitious Thing Humans Have Ever Attempted, guest: Atul Gawande.
DUBNER: Good ideas often take a really long time to catch on in medicine. Why do you think that is?  GAWANDE: Yeah, I got really fascinated by this thinking about two examples. Both of them transformed surgery in the nineteenth century: anesthesia and the discovery of anti-sepsis. Preventing infections, the biggest killer there was. Anesthesia was discovered and within two months —  DUBNER: In Boston, right?  GAWANDE: In Boston, yeah. Massachusetts General Hospital. And within two months of publishing the result that a gas could render people insensible to pain, it was being used in every capital in Europe. There’s no internet. You had to send news by boat and horse. And within two months people were using it in the capitals of Europe, and by six years later there wasn’t a hospital in the country that was not delivering anesthesia care. By contrast, anti-sepsis, Joseph Lister discovered that…


Help Ellicott City residents!
HoCoFoodBank will accept donations for Ellicott City Flood Relief (in partnership w/the #EllicottCityPartnership) TOMORROW-Mon 5/28 10am-2pm.  Items most in need: WATER, CLEANING SUPPLIES, FLASHLIGHTS. 
9385 Gerwig Lane Columbia, MD.  Please share.
Support Portalli’s employee fund:
Fundraiser at Hysteria:
Donate to Ellicott City Partnership:
Let me know if there are more, and I will add them in. —jam


Last week I waited too long to pop in to the Oakland Mills Farmer’s Market and most of the things I had hoped to get were sold out. This was my own darned fault, and I knew it. As I stood at a particular stall, expressing that sentiment, I noticed that two of the workers were wearing Allan Kittleman t-shirts.

Actually, it was more like the realization that these folks were Kittleman supporters leapt out at me in bright, vibrant yellow. I felt like the shirts themselves were glowing, almost staring at me the whole time I was there.

I pondered this on the way home. Of course they’re Kittleman supporters, I thought to myself. Western Howard County, agricultural...But up until I saw those shirts I never really thought about their business in a political light. This doesn’t mean they weren’t always Kittleman supporters. I just never knew, and so it didn’t matter.

I don’t want it to matter. I want to be happy to be supporting the Farmer’s Market, local businesses, local agriculture. I was surp…

Saved by Scribbles

Yes, I have been up since 5:30 am. No, I cannot find anything to write about.

Thank heavens for Marge Neal, Baltimore County journalist and occasional blogger, who posted this lovely companion piece to my grass controversy post of earlier in the week.

Blade Mouth-Runner

What do you think? Would Columbia types ever do the same?

And then, out of the dim recesses of my memory, came the hazy recollection of this story.

Neighborhood Hero

Neighborhood heroes. We need more of them. We need to be them.

The Painful Moment

God is a God of the present.  God is always in the moment,  be that moment hard or easy, joyful and painful. (Theologian Henri Nouwen)
As I was scanning through my social media feed this morning, seeing photographs of the hateful graffiti at Glenelg High School and responses from local notables and friends, this quote appeared. I share it not to forward a religious view but rather to look at what it means to be in the moment with this uncomfortable occurrence. If you don’t like the God reference, feel free to replace it with the word “truth”.
Each time something like this happens in our community, I read statements like this:
This isn’t who we are. We are better than this.
We rush in withdenials. We wash away the ugly words. We run from the painful implications.
We don’t want any of that ugliness to stick to us or to tarnish our community. But until we truly enter into the truth of that moment, we can’t begin to develop the strength to address it. And in our denials and avoidance we allow thes…

Sumer Is Icumen In

Pools open this weekend. Graduations will be happening at Merriweather.

Sumer Is Icumen In
Strawberry picking at Gorman Farm. Restaurant patrons choosing the outdoor tables. Soon the snowball stands will be open.
Sumer Is Icumen In
People are looking at the lineup at Merriweather for the summer and choosing their concerts. They’re finalizing summer camp and childcare plans for their children, family vacation plans, too.
Sumer Is Icumen In
Local gardeners are tilling the soil at “the allotments”. Children and parents are gearing up for the CA swim team season. Teachers are crossing the days off their school calendars. 
EditSvmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu
Groweþ sed
and bloweþ med
and springþ þe wde nu
Sing cuccu
I’m putting a call out for a future post: what are the things that mean summer in Columbia/HoCo to you? Add your thoughts here:

This. Means. War.

Yesterday I witnessed the Great Columbia Grass-Cutting War. It wasn’t pretty.

On a Facebook page entitled “Celebrating Columbia Maryland and its Future” the topic was anything but celebratory. A disgruntled resident was pulling out all the stops to shame any and everyone she perceived to be responsible for one of the great horrors of our time:

Too bad the Columbia Association, the Harper's Choice Village Board, and Enterprise Community Homes are all refusing to take any action to mow the grass at Harper House, which is now hip high. Apparently Columbia Association mowed this area in years past but now says the property owner Enterprise Community Homes should mow this area at the corner of Harper's Farm Road and Cedar Lane. Gridlock because each party is refusing to mow this grass and it looks terrible. Maybe Howard County needs to get involved!

Her post was accompanied by (twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of e…

The Women’s Question

Meanwhile, at the MPT forum...

Candidates for governor were asked:

Next question on the economy: look into your crystal balls and tell me where do we go?

No, scratch that. The men were asked that. The two women candidates, Ervin and Vignarajah, got something different.

Also, the two women on stage got a different question, both of them asked what to do about boosting entrepreneurship for women.  The men just got questions about boosting the economy.

(Information shared here comes from the twitter feed of Erin Cox @ErinatTheSun)

May I just take a moment to bang my head on the desk here?

This is right up there with the early days of women in journalism where men were assigned straight news stories and women were limited to articles about cooking, home decorating, and the society pages. It’s 2018 already, folks. We have two women running for Governor and you have to ask them “women questions”?

Does this mean that there were also especially tailored questions for candidates of color, or for the c…

In the Darkness

My thoughts are very dark today. More school shootings, more toxic masculinity that cannot abide rejection. More ridiculous posturing from those who take money from the NRA. We have become a culture which requires the ritual sacrifice of our young.

I am sick to death of it.

But it is Monday, and we are all beginning this week together. There’s got to be a bit of light somewhere. Here is the full text of Bishop Michael Curry’s address at the royal wedding on Saturday.

I’ll leave you with this:

Think and imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families when love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when love is the way. Imagine this tired old world when love is the way.

Raining on Prom Night

Friday night I was on pizza delivery duty for the GSA all-HoCo party at my daughter’s high school.

They were tight on money so restaurant delivery from Anthony’s wasn’t in the cards. Having Mom bring it on over from Little Caesar’s was the more affordable option.

It was raining, not heavily, but when hasn’t it been raining lately? When I arrived at Little Caesar’s in the Oakland Mills Village Center there were only two other customers: a young couple in evening finery. The fellow, in a whimsical move, was wearing his date’s handbag around his neck by its gold chain handle. Her dress was red, satin and lace, but understated. Quietly elegant.

“You guys look fabulous!”




Another gentleman came in from the rain. Around my age, maybe older.

“Where’s your prom?”

“B & O Railroad Museum, in Baltimore.”

“Oh, that’s gorgeous. You’re going to love that,” he said. I shook my head in agreement.

All the while the young couple is waiting on their order, and I am waiting for fifteen a…

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

I woke up to a world awash in the royal wedding. More coffee, please. No criticism from me; I just didn’t have it in me to get up that early. If Twitter is any indication, I should be running the text of  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s address in place of a blog post today. It’s not available yet, from what I can tell. Perhaps tomorrow.

On the local front, today is Oakland Mills 50th Birthday kick off celebration. The events of the day have been adjusted due to inclement weather. I think the most updated schedule of events can be found here.

Wine in the Woods will be squishy this year, on account of the weather. I know from past experience that this will not deter devotees of our local rite of Spring. I also know it’s going to rip up the grass something fierce. Can’t wait for that new pathway system to go in...

County Council member and candidate for County Executive Calvin Ball did have an event scheduled for this afternoon but it has been moved to June 9th. I’d say that’s a good call…

No Thanks

Dear political people, especially men: do not hug me if you don’t *really* know me. Ok?

I posted this on Facebook last night after coming home from the campaign kick-off event for Jen Terrasa. (I’m not a big fan of political events but it was an easy decision to come out for Ms. Terrasa.)   At any rate, I was surprised at how many folks responded to my statement.

First of all, I want to clarify that I love hugs, from people I know well, and with whom the expression of affection through hugging is appropriate. The act of pressing a hug on someone you’ve never had more than a two minute conversation with is creepy to me, especially if it is in the service of forwarding a political campaign.

“I want something from you. So I’m going to hug you as a ritualized symbol of a familiarity we don’t actually have. Now, vote for me.”

No thanks. Being a political candidate is a bit like being a door-to-door salesman. One is not required to hug the Fuller Brush man.

Let’s face it. A hug is an intimate ph…

Bananas in Baltimore

Just your periodic reminder that without journalists you don’t have attention to detail. Just saying.

All kidding aside, things in Baltimore are pretty bananas right now. Do you subscribe to the Baltimore Sun? You should.

The Big Ask

Dear Reader,

Just in case you missed my earlier emails, I’m dashing off this last-minute note with a very important purpose. You know we’re facing a big deadline tonight and your support is crucial.

Being a blogger isn’t all cocktail parties and ribbon-cuttings, you know. It takes a full time devotion that affects my whole life and that of my home team. I need you on my home team now, Reader.

This year we’re continuing the Project Summer initiative by sending a worthy child to theater camp, but we need your help to make our funds go farther. There’s driving school in the offing, and wisdom teeth extraction, too.

We’ll also be addressing infrastructure needs as we move forward on our historic decision to improve the two bathrooms in our home. These bold changes are made with the express commitment to improve quality of life and long term resale value.

Your commitment to our mission has put us over the top before, and you can help us do it again. Time is of the essence. Our deadline is midni…

Trapped in a Lost Parcel

Every once in a while I see a local story that is pure Dennis Lane. This one has his name all over it, in my opinion.

Dispute over slice of land has pizza food truck in limbo (Kate Magill, Howard County Times)

River House Pizza owner Nathan Sowers just wanted to build an awning over his pizza oven and now he’s trapped in a sort of land use Bermuda Triangle while the county dukes it out with owner (?)Susan Duff. The Tonge Triangle, perhaps?

This story has everything: local business, real estate, County vs. private owner, historical property lines, dueling deeds, records that go back to the 1800’s. 

“It has no tax I.D., it’s up for grabs, it’s what we call a lost parcel.” 

It’s not a lost parcel to River House Pizza. They’ve been whipping up their delicious wares near the Little French Market for some time now and their business adds a lot to the Tongue Row atmosphere. Live music, delicious pizza, ice cream from’s a perfect old Ellicott City evening.

It’s Spring. Almost Su…


A friend shared this question with me last week.

 "Generally speaking, do you believe most people are doing the best they can?"

This question, and the results of a study analyzing people’s responses, are in the book Rising Strong by Brene Brown

This question has been in my head ever since. I think the reason it made such a big dent on me is that it’s not a question I ever ask myself. In examining the world around me I tend to rely on pretty basic responses. I experience happiness when people do things that I feel are good, or that are pleasing to me personally. I experience anger, sadness, fear when people do things I think are bad, or that hurt me personally.

Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like the study of a single-celled organism being poked with a lab instrument.

"Generally speaking, do you believe most people are doing the best they can?"

In order to answer this question you have to be willing to think about why other people do what they do. You have to attempt to g…

The Sticking Point

civ·il rights ˌ noun the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality.

There appears to be a significant chunk of the Howard County population that believes that the civil rights of hcpss students are a matter of opinion. No. They are protected by law. We don’t get to have a great big class discussion and craft a “solution” that prevents people from feeling uncomfortable.
Not all that long ago there were plenty of parents and probably even school board members who felt uncomfortable about their white children going to school with black children. Yes, right here in Howard County. History does not look too kindly on the many ways they engineered to deny civil rights on the basis of skin color.
This country moved forward on the legal decision that separate will never be equal. And that goes for race, for the disabled and those needing special education services, for pregnant teens, for transgender students. Nowhere in the law does it say that your feelings about this must be…

Fabulous at Fifty

Here comes my Village, Oakland Mills, making fifty look fabulous with birthday celebrations so grand that I couldn’t even fit them onto one page. And this is just the kick-off event!

These days when we discuss the older Columbia villages it is often in the context of challenges we face. But Oakland Mills continues to show the bright side of our deep Columbia roots. Our Village Board is active, with a number of specialized committees to address community issues. We support our Farmers Market, our Village Schools, and a variety of charitable ventures throughout the year to support families in need.

Yeah, we’re fifty. And we’re feisty and fabulous, too.

Take a look at the flyer above for details to the kickoff event next Saturday, May 19th. There’s absolutely something for everyone. If you live in Oakland Mills, or, if you have ever lived in Oakland  Mills, come on by!

May 19th. It all begins at 9 am. Come help us celebrate.!

The Price of Politics

Until yesterday, all I knew about Kevin Kamenetz came from listening to one interview on the Elevate Maryland podcast. As I read the sad news yesterday of his sudden death and began to read about his life, I realized I have a lot of catching up to do.

Honestly, I was disappointed by Kamenetz after listening to the podcast. He seemed too prepared with prepackaged answers, with little time to stop and think a new thought. His performance was more than polished. It felt as though he had developed a veneer as hard and shiny as many layers of polished lacquer. He had an admirable record. He brought along suitable talking points.

But there was no sense of thoughtfulness. Of intellectual flexibility or even just a tiny spark of vulnerability. None.

Politics changes people. I have noticed this even amongst my friends and acquaintances. It’s not an easy world and putting up an outer shell of self-protection is often the route that many take in self-defense. When I recently talked to candidates fo…

Once More

There will come a time when I won’t do this anymore, but today is not that day. It hardly seems possible that five years have passed.

A Great Little Story(From March 31, 2012)
Do you regret doing an April Fool's Day post?

Never. I was just thinking about whether or not to do it again this year. Right now I don't have a good idea but, as they say, the day is young...

I've got one ready, but I'm on the fence. I don't have as wide a readership as you do, so it probably won't cause as much of a stir.

Go for it. That's how readership grows. I don't know if I'll be able to make your blogtail party but I'll try. I like your blog. You write good.

Thanks. You just made my day.

Happy to oblige!

(From May 11, 2013)                                                  

It took me a while to realize that I was wrong about Dennis Lane. I put together a persona for him without the benefit of actually knowing him.  I decided that he wa…