Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Carrolltown Hot Rod Show

Okay, I may be mistaken when I say that there is nothing good at the Carrolltown Center. Sure, there's the ghetto K-Mart, the ghetto Dollar General, the ghetto Big Lots!, and a snowball stand. But if you like to go somewhere that doesn't appear like you're in the middle of an inner-city transient neighborhood, Carrolltown Center is NOT the place for you.

For one brief period it was different. They had a car show there over Memorial Day weekend. The event was held behind the mall. What better way to celebrate the actions of our war heroes this weekend than to go look at hot rod cars? I wouldn't be surprised to hear Glenn Beck say our soldiers died for our freedoms - like freedom to attend hot rod shows.

There were no cars in the front of the mall where the stores are located. Rarely are there ever any cars in the front of the mall. And when they are, they're mostly beaters, meaning they ain't from 'round here.

Basically these cars are some of the ones that I plan on getting when I strike it rich. Muscle cars from the late 1960's and early 1970's.

For those of you who are at least in your 30's, you'll remember when the Maryland State Police cars were beige. (if you're clueless, they are now olive with a black stripe). You may also remember when they were yellow and had that single dome light on top. This state police car is a Chevrolet Caprice Classic, somewhere in the mid-to-late 1980's.

Looks like something from the Dukes of Hazzard. It's a 1972 Dodge Polara Maryland State Police car.

Not something that you usually see at a hot rod show - a 1968 Nissan 2000.

Smokey was there, but I wasn't able to find the Bandit. But his car was definitely there. Has there ever been another movie that helped to inflate the sale of cars like Smokey and the Bandit did for the Trans Am? I would totally drive this. This was the 1979 version. I think the original Bandit was a 1977 Trans Am.

Here's the blower from a customized Ford. Pretty cool, huh? It looks a lot cooler than the blower we have at the State House. I fully expected the members of ZZ Top to jump out of this car with hot girls in bikinis.

Another fine muscle car. A 1971 Camaro Z28. This came out the year I was conceived. But I doubt it was in the back seat of this fine candy apple red car. My parents had a VW Bug and a Fiat when I was born. Whoo-hoo!

Here's another 71 Camaro. Remember when it was cool to have chrome mags?

1970 Corvette Stingray. It was for sale for only $9400. I asked my wife if I could buy it. She didn't answer me. My 3 year old daughter said she likes it because it's a little car and she likes little cars.

A 1969 Mustang Fastback. One awesome car!

Another 1969 Mustang Fastback. This is what the Mustang looked like before Ford made them to look similar again. The new Mustang sounds like, "zig-zig-zig-zig". The old one sound like "jugga-jugga-jugga-jugga-jugga".

A pair of Firebirds. The one on the left is a 1968 and the right is a 1969 (I think).

A 1969 Camaro. I really seem to like 69. It must have been a good year.

No local car show would be complete without a showing from the local fire department. Here are the apparatus of the Sykesville Freedom Fire Department.

This is the aerial ladder. They use it to put out fires in all the tall buildings in Eldersburg. If you're from Eldersburg, you get it.

Here's one of those ENCALUBMA that you see on the road. Remember when ambulances were converted vans or pickup trucks? Now they're full-sized commercial trucks.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Evolution of Carrolltown Center Sign

Since I keep my camera with me often, I have the opportunity to take pictures of the deteriorating Carrolltown Mall while I wait at the light of Ridge Road and Liberty Road. Here are 3 pictures of the fabled sign with different stages of disrepair.

This is a picture of the sign after their landscaping upgrade. Note the lovely brown plants and the rotting timbers. The sign also provides a good display of the peeling letters of the Peebles sign.

Here's the sign without the side panel.

Here's a picture with the Big Lots! sign blown-out. When I first saw this I got really excited thinking that Big Lots! had gone out of business. Much to my chagrin, this was not the case. Fortunately, Black Oak Associates placed an orange (brown) cone in front of the sign to warn passer's-by of the dangers of shopping at this mall.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gift Certificate Fail

We got this gift certificate at the Festival Seafood in Bel Air for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. They have birthdays within a few days of each other. I got it for Sevenity Five, but perhaps I should have gotten One Hundered.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rapture Checklist

Everyone is talking about the Rapture. If you've been busy watching Jersey Shore, let me fill you in. Rapture is Judgment Day. It is the day that the heavens will open up and the Christians will be lifted up to heaven to live in eternal peace with Jesus. So, all you Jews, Muslims, and Tom Cruise fans - you're basically screwed.

There has been a lot of controversy about when Judgment Day would happen. 1526? 1610? 1866? 1984? 2000? What year was Martin O'Malley elected? That certainly made some people feel like it was the end of the world.

So now many are claiming that May 21st will be the end. It will start with earthquakes that will round the globe, destroying the continents, killing the masses, and virtually ending the Middle-East peace talks. It will destroy the world through the time zones at 6 o'clock. I'm not sure if that's am or pm, or daylight savings time or standard time. Will the end of the world happen an hour later in Arizona? (they don't follow daylight savings time)

With this end of the world things coming, it got me thinking. What do I need to do before I'm raised to my maker, or sent to have a seat next to Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and Aaron Burr? If I'm sent to hell, do I have to sit next to Keith Olbermann? That would suck.

So here's a list of everything I need to accomplish before the end of the world tomorrow:

1) Cut the lawn
2) cut those lower hanging branches on the tree out front
3) wash the Honda
4) clean the fish tank
5) make out with Reese Witherspoon
6) fly an airplane
7) lose 25 pounds
8) have a beer with Tom Selleck
9) visit Vancouver
10) finish reading Red by Sammy Hagar
11) get a lower back massage by Sheryl Crow
12) refill the propane tank for the grill
13) replace and rotate the rear tires on the van
14) finish watching Season 4 of 30 Rock
15) eat the rest of the turkey in the frig before it goes bad

Once I get those things accomplished I'll feel much better. Can't leave those things left open-ended. What do you need to do before the end of the world?

2011 Dover 400

No Dover 400 would be complete without a recap on my blog. Though I'll have to admit that the novelty of the race gets a little thinner each year. But it's still a good time!

As I mentioned before, my grandfather passed away last Friday and the race was on Sunday. We all knew that nothing was going to happen between Friday night and Sunday afternoon. I wasn't sure if my parents would be up to going to the race. And I was afraid to broach the topic. Would it be inappropriate to ask my parents for the tickets if they didn't want to go? I finally asked if they were going and my dad said, "Yeah, why not?" Well that answered that question!

Sunday morning, I half-assed getting ready and drove to my parents' house in Hazzard County. We loaded up my truck and headed out. We cruised up I-95 at like 80 mph and it really seemed like nothing. Everyone else was going that fast. My mother commented that the drive was so smooth, unlike the ride in her Ford Explorer. She told my dad that she thinks she wants a Honda Pilot next.

We arrived at the Subway just north of Dover that we've stopped at for the past 3 years. It's a Subway \ Dunkin Donuts. What an awesome combination. I got (wait for it....) a sub and a donut!

I took a picture of this device. I'm not sure what it was. It says 'Phone', but it had a cable hanging from it and you couldn't see the numbers you're dialing. And how do you access Facebook from this thing?

We got to the track and parked in the handicapped parking (because that's the way we roll at a NASCAR event!). Actually my mom, perhaps you'll remember this from last year) was in a car accident that left her with hip displacement and she suffers from pain from that. I'm not complaining about not getting to park in another zip code and walking. We pulled out the chairs and tailgated old-people type. I drank a beer. My dad had a cigarette, and my mom had an iced tea and a cigarette.

We finally decided to roll in. My mother and father were given a shuttle pass. I decided to make like a hiker and take all the gear with me and walk. Told them I'd meet them there. I walked what seemed like 2 miles (it may actually have been 2 miles!). I lugged the gear up into the grandstands. I sweating worse than Obama facing the House of Representatives. I finally get to my seat and my parents are nowhere to be found. I fortunately missed most of the corny pre-show activities. Since I had some time to kill, I whipped out my (wait for it....) book - Sammy Hagar's Red. It's a good book. I have about 30 pages to go. I'd probably be done if I wasn't on damn Facebook all the time.

The crowd seems a little small this year. For a moment I thought I was at an Orioles game at Camden Yards.

Here's a zoom on pit row. There's Reed Sorenson in the Target car, Marcos Ambrose in the DW, car. That's DeWalt for those of you who go to Home Depot and pretend you know about tools. Jeff Burton is in the Caterpillar car,

Have you ever seen so many Republicans in one place before? Do you see my friend Chris near the turn? Me neither.

Here's the infield. Contrary to the drunken fest at the Preakness, the Dover fans are quite civilized.

No sporting event would be official without a fly-over.

And really cool sporting events get sky-divers with American flags trailing behind them. This guy landed in the seat next to me. Fortunately he bought the next round of beer.

About 15 minutes later my parents arrive. This is after the fly-over of the F-16's, but just before "Gentlemen, start your engines!" What do they say in races that include Danica Patrick? 'Lady and gentlemen, start your engines'??? I have to admit the roar of the engines firing up is one of the most incredible sounds you'll ever hear. And them pulling away from pit row is amazing, too. I keep my headphones off for a few laps to appreciate how loud it is. When the cars come out of that final turn and they waive that green flag and the cars go from, what, 60 mph? to 140 mph in a matter of a couple seconds. It'a AMAZING!

I'm thinking of getting wheels like this for my Honda Pilot - red wheels and tires with yellow writing. How awesome would that be?

The pace car leading the pack.

The green flag...

Have you ever picked up a tire? On the wheel? It's heavy. Yeah, that guy on the left is putting it in his side pocket. I guess training for pit crews does not involve pizza, beer, and Facebook.

Here's the point of the race where I start getting distracted. This guy had this bug on his shirt for like an hour.

Grandpa Goodwrench fell asleep here.

You're going to have to control yourself with this next picture. Yes, that's a fat hairy naked old guy drinking beer. I wanted to recommend a new line of soft-underwire bras for him, but he obviously wouldn't hear me since he has on those ear protectors.

This stupid chick in the camo hat got in the way just as I was about to take a picture of the cars coming into Turn 4. I never knew a girl could be so hot in camo. Or in Turn 4.

I think I was the only fan not advertising my favorite drive (Carl Edwards). This is a ravaging Kyle Busch fan. Most people were telling Kyle that he was number 1.

And a Carl Edwards' fan. You probably think I'm kidding. But seriously, I was the only person not wearing a racing shirt. My mom had on her Jeff Gordon shirt.

Here is one of the highlights of the race. Someone kissed the wall. I think it was Reed Sorenson.

Matt Kenseth ended winning the race. However, all of the attention was on Carl Edwards (who's leading in the points category) and Jimmy Johnson who were battling it out all race-long. A caution with about 35 laps to go shuffled everything and neither driver was able to get back to the front. It was like starting the race all over again. Drivers usually win NASCAR races with skill. But sometimes it helps to be lucky.

And that's my recap of the 2011 Dover 400. Who's going with me next year?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Eulogy to Pop Pop

Pop Pop: November 2, 1917 - May 13, 2011

I lost my grandfather this week. I was always honored to be almost 40 years old and still claim to have a grandparent. In spite of his death, I get to keep 38 years of memories. Well, maybe not 38, as I can't remember that far back. But many memories nonetheless.

My grandfather was born in 1917 in Baltimore, Maryland. Or as he would say, "Baldimer, Merlin". Yes, he was a true Baltimorean. He lived for a time in 'Warshington'. He was a junior, and to the best of my knowledge, born of English, and German ancestry. He was a Presbyterian, though never practicing. His father owned a chain of family restaurants in Baltimore City.

My grandfather did everything on his own terms. He remembered growing up on the intersection of St. Paul Street and 25th Street. If you were on that intersection today, you'd be dead in a matter of hours. Or at least robbed and/or beaten. He was extremely proud of the fact that he went to Poly High School. This was long before it was on Cold Spring Lane. According to him, Poly was known throughout the world as a great engineering school. And the accolades of the school were greater as he got older. "If you tell people anywhere around the world that you went to Poly you could get a job." If only it were that simple.

He had a knack for art and math. He joined the army before he was old enough - he lied about his age. He loved horses and joined the cavalry. Soon thereafter, the army rid itself of horses and the cavalry became the tank unit. He wasn't much interested in tanks, so he switched to infantry. Somehow, he was good at trigonometry, so he was a natural at shooting cannons. Shooting cannons - aim, trajectory, distance, curvature of the Earth, rotation of the Earth, wind, all things that had to be considered when shooting artillery, were things that he could do.

He was in the 29th Division when it shipped to England, but missed D-Day when he got sick and was out of commission for a while. I'm not sure what else happened while he was in the war. He either didn't want to talk about it, or as I got older and became genuinely interested, he no longer remembered. With age fades the memories.

My first memories of my grandfather are when we lived in Rosedale. He never had a phone. Refused to own one. So it's not like we could call him and invite him over to our house. He would just show up - on his own terms. And he would show up with first his brown Ford pick-up truck with the cap, or later in the 70's the blue Ford pick-up with the cap. You could fit a family of 5 across the bench of those pick-up trucks.

We (my brother, my sister, and I) always got excited when he came. We knew we were going to Burger King. I remember him asking what we wanted. I would always want the roast beef sandwich or the chicken Parmesan sandwich. My father would tell me that was too expensive and to pick something else. But my grandfather operated on his own terms. The roast beef sandwich or the chicken Parmesan sandwich was always fantastic. And no meal at Burger King was complete unless you followed it up with some ice cream. He always had to have coffee ice cream. And coffee. Pop-Pop and ice cream. They naturally went together.

And as quick as my grandfather would show up, he would leave. Sometimes you'd go to your room or to the bathroom and return and ask, "Where's Pop Pop?" He had left, often without a good-bye. He wasn't like that to be mean. He just lived on his own terms and did what he wanted. If he was ready to leave, he would leave. And we'd have to wait until he just showed up again.

He lived what I considered an interesting life. It was certainly more interesting than sitting in a cubicle pushing out reports to ungrateful clients. He was a paper-hanger by trade. This means he hung wallpaper. He loved the union and even went as far as to refuse to drink Coke because it was non-union. He was a Pepsi instead - when he didn't have coffee in his hand. He hung paper all over the Washington area. Even in the Pentagon. He says one time he was hanging paper and had his stuff all spread out. Someone walks by and says something like, "Tell this guy to clean up this shit!" My grandfather promptly turned around and told him where to go. It was President Lyndon Johnson. No one was going to talk to him like that, not even the President of the United States.

Later in life I enjoyed his surprise visits for different reasons. As a young adult he would tell those stories that you probably shouldn't have heard. Chasing girls, getting frisky behind the bushes. I found it humorous. And he loved red heads. You can imagine his joy when my first daughter was born and she was a bright red head. Whenever he left, he would always ask me if I needed money. "No, I"m okay." would be my response. But he never left without slipping me at least a 2o. Sometimes more.

About 8 years ago we almost lost him. He had some kind of illness, then a bad reaction to a medication and we thought he was going to die. He was in a coma. I remember telling my father that Pop Pop was too stubborn to die that way. He was going to do things on his own terms. He eventually came out of the coma, but he was never quite the same. He lost his ability to walk on his own. And his frame of mind was stuck in the 1940's for a while. He thought he was at Walter Reed hospital. He asked for my grandmother, who had died in the early 1960's. He later asked for my Aunt Lenore, her sister, who passed away in 1990. And he asked for his brothers George and Jesse, both of whom I had never met and assumed were deceased.

Over time his memory came back to a point. His short-term memory was terrible, but his long-term memory was fair. We'd go visit him at the assisted living facility and he'd ask how old my children were - three or four times. But he was always so excited to see us. He'd offer us stale cookies that he had swiped from the kitchenette. And he wasn't afraid to talk about the biddies on his floor that were always into everyone else's business. It was really funny. He never lost his sense of humor.

We never told him that my youngest daughter has cancer. We were able to hide it for a while, but after she lost her hair we kept it covered with a hat. He did notice her weight gain, but we never let him pursue the questioning. We figured there was no sense in him worrying about her.

Last Friday, my dad, who works at the same senior living facility, came and had breakfast with Pop-Pop. They had a good time talking. Later that day the staff told Pop Pop that he needed to talk a shower. After dinner he went to his room to go to bed. He must not have wanted to take that shower. The nurse came in to check on him and he had passed away.

You can't ask for a better death - in your sleep. He didn't suffer any illnesses or trauma. He was not in a hospital. He was just old. And he was tired. He was almost 94 years old. He left this world like he lived in this world - on his own terms.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Future Fire Department in Eldersburg

I thought I had written about this before, but I couldn't find the posting. I take many pictures with the intention of writing about it, then never find the time to write, then can't remember if I wrote it or not, but I'm convinced that I did. Most likely I scripted it in my mind, but never put it on pixels, so to speak.

I was looking through the HOA websites of the local neighborhoods and found information on the zoning for the Carrolltowne and Carrolltowne II neighborhoods. They were part of a PUD (planned unit development). One of the conditions of the zoning was that several acres be reserved for a library, an elementary school, and a fire station. The school and the library were built (Carrolltowne Elementary School in 1977 and the library in the early 1980's). The fire station was slated for the corner of Hemlock Road and Liberty Road. It's current occupant is mostly grass behind Faith Lutheran Church, so obviously it was never built.

Will the county ever build a fire department there? I think it makes sense since there's been a lot of development since the 1970's, plus a lot more is to come. There is the Reservoir Ridge development next to Carrolltowne, which will bring in hundreds of new families. There is a large development on the books behind the VFW off of Arrington. Then there's the old farm off of Ridge Road after you pass Brangles. If I recall correctly, several hundred more homes are to be built on that property, too. Before you know it, Eldersburg will be competing with Glen Burnie and Bel Air for congestion.

Anyway, all fire calls in our area come from Sykesville Freedom Fire Department, which is at least 10 - 15 minutes from our house. There really is no direct route from there to here. Having another small fire department would make sense in that regard. On the other hand, we'd have to deal with the noise. And everyone knows that the only thing worse than putting out fires before your house burns down or getting an ambulance to your house before you die, is having a fire department with noisy vehicles going in and out.

Here is the current Sykesville Freedom Fire Department - the one where the hall next to it burned down after the snow storm in 2009. Remember that?

Here is the current site of the "future" Eldersburg" fire department looking west. That's Faith Lutheran by the trees and Liberty Road to the far right.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Fish Catch in Eldersburg

The pond in my neighborhood is a nice place to fish. Located behind my house, my son has enjoyed fishing there all summer. It's stocked full of Blue Gill, large and small-mouth bass, crappie, perch, and at least a catfish or two. We received word recently that the pond (technically a storm-water management system) no longer meets the state (or federal?) environmental protection standards. Therefore, it must be redone. We met with the county last year and they said the fine for not getting the pond into compliance exceeds the cost of retrofitting it.

On Friday, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources showed up with some local Carroll County people to do the fish catch. The process is really interesting. They have a flat-bottomed boat with 2 polls on the stern which they extend and lower into the water, then turn on the electric zapper, after which the stunned fish float to the top of the water and are scooped out with nets.

Only 2 hours late, the MDNR people got to work and quickly started pulling out the bass. I didn't realize that there was that many bass in the pond. I figured they'd fetch hundreds, if not thousands, of blue gills from the water. Perhaps the blue gill are resistant to the electricity.

Here are the people launching the boat. It was kind of humorous because the pond is really only the size of a few back yards. And then there was this boat in it.

There were a couple of prized catches. One was a giant snapping turtle that must have measured over 18 inches across the top of the shell. The guy on the boat threw it back. He said he didn't want that thing in his boat with him. The other was this giant carp. When the pond was created years ago, they put in 4 carp to help keep it clean. This is probably the only remaining one. The county official estimated that he was about 30 pounds and about 15 years old.

Here are the probes that are dunked into the water. They looked like rebar.

Here's one of the zapped bass in a bucket being transfered to a bin in one of the many pick-up trucks that they brought. Some fish were taken to Arnold's pond near Route 97 and others were dumped into Liberty Reservoir.

The geese are curious as to what is going on. When the pond drains I wonder what they will do. Will they still hang around being annoying, or will they go somewhere else and be annoying there?

And here's some more of the excitement.

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