Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Will the Real Jack O'Malley Please Stand Up?

One of my friends forwarded this to me. It was posted on the Washington Gazette. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley likes to pretend he's really important. He goes on the Sunday talk shows and talks about how he's destroying the middle class, pushing for unstainable energy, and redrawing political maps across the state to disenfranchise 35% of the population. He's even the head of the Democratic Governor's Association.

All of this doesn't matter. President Obama still has no clue as to who Martin O'Malley is. Check out this video. Both Obama and O'Malley come out of this looking like fools.

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Strange Anger With Television

What is up with America's fetish with exploiting people with mental illnesses for the purpose of entertainment? What the heck am I talking about? Just watch almost any show on TLC or AMC lately.

Hoarders. My Strange Addiction. My Crazy Obsession. Dance Moms. These people need help and we are all watching these show for entertainment value. My family is guilty of this. I have seen all of these shows and finally came to this realization. We are getting laugh-value and the OMG-factor from seeing how messed up some of these people are. Is this right? Shouldn't we feel guilty about ourselves?

Now that I have come to this conclusion I get angry when I see these shows advertised. Dance Moms? Abby and all of those moms ought to be locked up in prison for child abuse. They mentally abuse these little girls. Why are the police not called on every episode?

My Strange Addiction and My Crazy Obsession. I hope part of the deal with being on these shows is that they get intervention and lifelong counceling.

Hoarders. I've seen these people first-hand. It's not funny nor entertaining. It's sad. It divides families.

Television shows in America seem to get more in-your-face and over-the-top. America needs to do some soul searching and figure out what is decent and what is inappropriate. We need to stop exploiting the less fortunate so that we can have a good evening of television watching. If we keep this pace of cutting edge entertainment, where will be in the future? Making fun of mentally retarded people? Laughing at cancer patients dying? This trend needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

Owings Mills Toys R Us - Never a Dull Moment

I was going to blog about the NBA All-Star game and the Academy Awards, but then I remembered that I don't care about either one of them. Hopefully you don't either.

However, something I do care about is good customer service. My son had some birthday money that was burning a hole in his pocket and he wanted to spend it on Star Wars Legos. He asked if we could go to Toys 'R Us. Sure, why not?

We went to the Toys 'R Us in Owings Mills on Saturday afternoon. They were having a Star Wars toys sale. If you purchased $25 in Star Wars Legos (I think), then you got a free $5 Lego Fighter Pod set that is worth 14¢. We perused the Lego aisle for a while before he finally decided on the Y-Wing Fighter, which I thought was a good choice.

We lined up to pay at the cash register. Finally it was our turn. Silence. Hello? Are you there? Am I here? She just started swiping the items and told us the price. I said, "Hi there!". She looked at me.

My son then paid, but he seemed befuddled and was $5 short. We gave her the appropriate amount of money then she handed us the bag. Nothing. "Thank you and have a nice day!", I say in my most pleasant voice. "thanks...", I hear as we're walking away. As Stephanie Tanner would say, "How rude!"

Once out of the store my son stopped me and said the price wasn't right. We looked at the receipt and they charged us for the free 14¢ Legos that cost $5. We promptly walked back in the store and got in line at the customer service desk.

While standing there waiting I noticed a man walk in with a soda in a cup with a lid while talking on the cellphone (he was talking on the cellphone, not the soda). I had one of those premonitions and I knew he would drop the soda. Sploosh. Down it went all over the floor. One of the ladies at the customer service desk looked over at him, then down at the floor, then went back about her business. Are you kidding me?!!! The guy then asked for some paper towels. Without getting them for him, she said, "There are some under the counter here." He went and got the paper towels (still talking on the phone) and began wiping up the mess. Uhhh....clean up at the customer service desk maybe???

It did fall on one of those mats that you wipe (supposed to wipe) your feet on. He finally got off of the phone and kept dabbing at the soda. Finally he finished and walked away. I looked at the floor and ALL of the ice was still on the floor. What the heck? I looked around. I was certain John QuiƱones would walk around the corner and ask why I didn't say anything.

We were next and told them of the problem with the charge, she corrected it and we went about our way. She did, however, apologize and tell us to have a nice day. Thank goodness not everyone was rude.

If you were in that situation, What would you do?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Now Open in Eldersburg: JACT Sports

They've been open a while now, but I have really noticed an increase in the number of cars in the parking lot of JACT Sports. This to me is a sign of success. The facility is located in the former London Fog building which closed in the early 2000's. Part of the building is now occupied by GSE Systems.

I have no idea what JACT means. I'm sure it's an abbreviation for something or someone. I haven't been there yet, but a good friend tells me that it is just like Carroll Indoor Sports in Westminster, but a lot closer to home. My wife investigated it and she said the prices are a little higher than at Carroll Indoor.

I also heard that several sports teams are using the place for practices. These include baseball
teams and lacrosse teams. I really should check it out so that I could provide more details. Let's
just say that there is more to come. Their website does mention that it would be a great place for kids' birthday parties, just as Carroll Indoor Sports is.

Here is GSE Systems just in front of the warehouse. Check out that blue sky!

Eldersburg Starbucks Opening Soon!

I drove by the former K Bank in the Eldersburg Plaza today on my way for a jog at Liberty High School and noticed that the new Starbucks is almost ready to open. I'd be surprised if they didn't open this week. The newly renovated building looks sharp. They did a real nice job.

Fortunately, they averted disaster last week. I drove by on Tuesday on my way home from a doctor's appointment in Westminster and followed the Sykesville\Freedom firetruck down Liberty Road. When I passed the new Starbucks I noticed that one of the bushes by the entrance was burnt to a black crisp and some workers were putting out the last smoldering remains with a garden hose. Perhaps a spark from the workers set the bush on fire. When I drove by today the bush in question had been removed.

I look forward to their long-term success and hope that it gainfully employs many people in the area, even if the jobs are part-time and probably entry-level work force wages.

And for the record I ran 8 miles today. It took me an hour and 22 minutes, but I did it. It was the first time I have ever run 8 miles. My goal is to run 10 miles, then after that to run a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles. I'm getting close! I also enjoyed a group of people training for a mudder event. They were pushing hard, motivating me to do the same.

Friday, February 24, 2012

K-Mart in Eldersburg is Closing!!!!

Perhaps the greatest news in the history of Eldersburg! K-Mart, located in the quickly deteriorating Carrolltown Center, has announced that it will be closing.

The announcement came as the store was added to the list of K-Mart's and Sears stores that will be closing.

No word from Carrolltown Center owner Black Oack Associates on what will happen. Will this be the catalyst that they need to close the mall and demolish it and replace it with stores and shops that will meet the needs of Southern Carroll County? Or will they fill the void with another 3rd-rate fitness center or a flea market that meets the needs of the residents of Randallstown?

For now, we can all hear the cheers of previously frustrated residents of Southern Carroll County!!! Down with the ghetto K-Mart!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Same Sex Marriage

If you follow Maryland politics or LBGT issues, you know that Maryland is passing a gay marriage law. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said that he will sign the bill when it gets to his desk.

This isn't the first time that the gay marriage has been discussed in the Maryland General Assembly. Last year a nearly identical bill stalled and died in committee. What's the difference this year? Are the delegates and state senators measuring public opinion? Is public opinion stronger this year? It's always about getting reelected, so if the politicians think that if they vote for a controversial bill, they risk not getting reelected. And let's face it - that's really all they care about.

Yesterday a coworker asked me what my opinion is. I told him I honestly didn't have an opinion. He found that hard to believe. But it's true. Is this the same as being against it? I hope not. I'm not for it. I'm not against it.

I think of it like this: do you have an opinion on the state's transferring of teachers' pensions to the counties? Do you have an opinion on the gerrymandered redistricting plan? Do you have an opinion on misuse of state transportation funds? I do. Those issues impact me. Gay marriage doesn't impact me, so whatever is decided will happen and my life will continue as it always has. I'm not saying those issues are more important. Just more relevant to me.

I told my coworker that I thought gay marriage was inevitable. Maryland becomes the 8th state (I think) to allow gay marriage. I think it's only a matter of time before it is recognized at a federal level, regardless of what nationally-elected politicians are saying at this point.

So while many people are celebrating and others are disgusted, I shrug my shoulders and think, "Okay, I knew that was coming." Next?

Book Signing With Governor Bob Ehrlich

I subscribe to Bob Ehrlich, former Republican Maryland Governor, on Facebook. He posted that he would be signing his new book Turn This Car Around at the White Marsh, excuse me, Nottingham Barnes & Noble. We used to call the area White Marsh, but apparently that's not correct anymore.

I begged and pleaded with my wife to attend this event. My daughter with leukemia is on her week 4 (week 1?) of her protocol which requires high doses of steroids. She's an absolute mess this week. Crying. Laughing. Screaming. Demanding. Disagreeing. Restless. Anxious. You name it. Fortunately I have the world's most awesome wife and she said it would be okay for me to go.

I arrived in White....Nottingham at 6:45pm. The book signing was to be at 7pm. I anticipated a fairly decent crowd at The Avenue. I turned the corner and......no one. I went into the bookstore and looked around. No one. Uh-oh. Did I get the day wrong? I went up to the lady at the register and asked if Governor Ehrlich was coming today. She said indeed. I felt a huge relief. I purchased the book and they directed me to the line.

I was shocked to see only about 20 people in line. Ah, that's right. We're in Maryland. Ugh. Stupid Maryland. Fortunately I brought the book I'm currently reading (On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery by Robert M. Poole). I purchased this book in Arlington the day my grandfather was buried. As I'm standing there reading I'm hearing the other people in line talking. There are several ladies in line with D2 bass voices. Their voices are so deep that they make the book shelves vibrate when they talk. If it weren't for the fact that they had boobs I would have thought they were Richard Sterban. (Go to the 1:10 part of the linked clip).

Additionally, I think the lady directly in front of me is on speed. She's quickly swaying back and forth and her conversation all over the place. I'm getting sea-sick. I turn around and face away from the line. Soon after that Mike Damone steps into line behind me. He's very nice and conversational. He's older, probably late 50's. But he has some good stories. I enjoyed his conversation. He then hooked me up with some front-row Van Halen tickets and recommended that the next time I'm with my wife to play side one of Led Zeppelin IV.

The Governor finally arrives and the short line moves fast. He has his entourage with him and they look familiar. Perhaps I've seen them at other events. The only other time I saw Governor Ehrlich was at the 4th of July Kingsville Parade years ago.

Once it's my turn I get a picture with the Gov, tell him that I am friends with one of his friends, to which he replies that they are a wonderful family. I then tell him that I write this blog. One of the entourage speaks up and says, "You write that?!! I've read that blog before!" The Gov thanks me for my efforts to help him.

He then mentions that Marty O'Malley is putting word out that he wants to run for President in 2016. "Good grief!", I say. He chuckles and said that Kendal said the same thing. I then tell him that I thought he would work out an arrangement with Senator Mikulksi whereby she'd retire and he'd run for her spot. The Governor told me that would never happen because the relationship between those two is not that friendly. Great stuff!!!!

I get my book signed, snap a few more pictures and head along my way. It was great to meet the Governor up close and personal and exchange some chatter. Too bad he's not in Annapolis right now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm Allergic To That, Too!

I am such a sick child. If I was born in the 1800's I'd probably be dead by now. Tubercular meningitis when I was 12. Multiple incidents of strep in one year. Broken bones. Asthma.

As I got older I started having trouble with reflux. Not the acidic burning in your throat kind of reflux, but a little cough, then a persistent cough. Then a persistent hacking cough. It's lovely. My wife told me that if there was anything that she'd leave me for it would be my loud wet phlegm-producing persistent hacking cough. How's that for a visual?

She was on my case for a while to go to a doctor. I've been seeing doctors for about 2 years now. I've changed medications, added medications, removed medications. Still coughing. Then she told me that I needed to see a pulmonologist.

In November I saw a pulmonologist for the first time. Get this - he changed my medication. However, he also ordered an allergy test. I got those results today. He introduced the results by saying that I have the Murphy's Law of allergy tests.

Normally a person should have an IgE (?) level of less than 0.35. I tipped the scales on some of these. Check out this list of things that I am allergic to:

Alternaria Alternata (fungal pathogen)
Aspergillus Fumigatus (decomposition fungus)
Cadosporium Herbarum (fungus)
D. Pteronyssiunus (dust mites)
D. Farinae
Bermuda Grass
Johnson Grass
Timothy Grass (who are these Grass people?)
Common ragweed
Sheep Sorrel (not to be confused with Sorrell Booke)
Rough Pigweed
Cat dander
Dog dander
Mountain Cedar
White Oak
White mulberry
Idiot coworkers
Intolerant Democrats
Martin O'Malley (political fungus)
Lima beans
Brussels sprouts
Self-righteous right-wingers
Orange soda
Excessive amounts of exercise
Maryland General Assembly (fungus incubator)
Redistricting (fungus redistributor)
Joe Biden (Delawares fungus)

My doctor said that to improve my health I probably should not cut the lawn or vacuum, since those activities stir up the dust mites. I think I should include laundry and dishes on that list. Hopefully my wife will fully support my efforts to be healthier.

Not sure how I'm going to avoid the other items.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy President's Day!

Today is President's Day. It's our day to honor Presidents past and present.

I've never met a President, but I have met 3 men who have run for President. I met Ron Paul at a forum at Goucher College in Towson in 2008. The picture here is of him signing books after the event. He must have signed books for two hours because I was near the end of the line and I know I stood about an hour and a half. I would love for Ron Paul to be President. He's the only one that speaks the truth about what it would take for this country to get its economy back on track. He has tremendous support from the youth and military. However, he doesn't get any support from the Christian-right, which is what you need to win the Republican primary election.

I met Newt Gingrich in June of 2005 at a book signing event at the Pikesville Barnes & Noble. He was a lot shorter than I imagined. He wasn't much taller than me, and I'm only about four feet tall. He came with a considerable security detail. I wasn't allowed to take this picture. Someone from his security staff took it for me. Otherwise the picture would have been a little more in focus. He co-wrote a series of historical rewrite fiction about the Civil War. The book signing was for the 2nd in the series. It was an entertaining read, but I never read the 1st or 3rd book in the series. And he was very nice.

I met Ralph Nader in January of 2007. This was a total fluke. We had stopped in the Barnes & Noble in White Marsh to get a present for a friend's child. I saw a lot of people standing in line and I asked an employee what was going on. He said that Ralph Nader was signing books. "The Ralph Nader?" I asked. He confirmed, so I ran out to my car, got my camera, bought his book, and got in line. He's a lot like you would imagine. A little disheveled. His face gave the impression that his mind was going a million miles per second. I'm sure he's a brilliant man. And his book was interesting, too.

So here's to the men that were President and to the men who will never be President.

Ron Paul:

Newt Gingrich:

Ralph Nader:

Non-Descript Robberies in Carroll County

Political correctness run a muck? Last night a man was accosted in the parking lot at the Eldersburg plaza. The victim suspects he came upon the person trying to break into his car. Fifteen minutes later, there was a robbery at the Quicky Mart on Village Road in Sykesville.

WBAL.com describes the person as having a medium build with black jeans, a black hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap. Well, that eliminates women. And little guys. And big guys. Therefore, the robber was one of 2 million other Marylanders. We have no idea if this guy was white, black, Asian, Middle Eastern, Italian, Latino, or from Delaware. We don't know if he had red hair, white hair, brown hair, blond hair, yellow hair, black hair, green hair, or blue hair.

I suppose the police and WBAL are trying to avoid racial profiling. This is very fortunate for the robbery suspect. He has a great chance of getting away now. I plan on going to Wal-Mart today and then calling the police and telling them that there are 15 people matching the description in the auto parts department.

Please help us here in Eldersburg. If you see a man with a medium build wearing black clothes please call the police. Perhaps if they get 10,000 calls that require them to investigate, they'll put out a more appropriate description of the suspect. I'm sorry, the person of interest.

Stupid political correctness. Yay crime!!!


The Eldersburg Patch is reporting that the suspect is a white male. Shame on Jim Russ and WBAL for being so ambiguous.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Baseball Training at TZ Sports

For the past two weekends I have spent my Saturdays at TZ Sports (located in the archaic Carrolltown Mall in Eldersburg) getting instruction on how to be a better baseball coach. Providing the coaching were former professional baseball players Brian Bent and Paul Winterling of PBT, Professional Baseball Training.

There were two 3 hour sessions of lecturing and demonstrations with some interaction and practice instruction on our own. As expected, these guys really know a lot about baseball and helped us to understand some of the finer techniques. Additionally, they provided a lot of anecdotal evidence to support their teachings and they told a few interesting and sometimes humorous stories of their adventures in professional baseball. They broke down what you should be teaching the kids at different levels. As an example, a 5 year old is not going to understand supination and pronation, but you could instruct a 10 year old with success.

I would highly recommend these guys. They offer private training in addition to group training. Of course this comes with a price, but if I was rich, I'd hire them!

On an unrelated topic, I ran into some people that looked like urban explorers. They were investigating the buildings and wondering if they were formerly rural prisons. I told them that I thought the buildings were formerly retail establishments, but the residents in the area felt like prisoners to Carrolltown Center.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Coming To Eldersburg - Freedom Lanes Bowling?

Word on the street (and this is from a good source) is that Freedom Lanes Bowling will be opening in the site of the former Crossroads Bowling in the Princess Shopping Center. It will be nice to have a bowling establishment in the area again so that we don't have to go to the one in Randallstown where you risk getting stabbed, or driving all the way out to Mount Airy.

The Crossroads Bowling was a great place to stage kids' birthday parties. Hopefully the new tenant will find more success. We all can attest that weekends in Eldersburg are about as much fun as tipping cows.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Greener Pink Post It Note?

My daughter brought this one to my attention. Post-it Notes. Greener Notes. She asked, "are these pink notes greener?" Ha-ha!

Eldersburg Home Depot - Home to Penske?

What's up with all those Penske box trucks in the parking lot at Home Depot in Eldersburg? It's like a burial ground for yellow trucks. Is this a side job for the company? A local entrepreneur taking advantage of the parking lot space? Or is this a temporary alliance while the economy is bad? Or is someone preparing to move out? Let's start an unsubstantiated rumor - The Home Depot in Eldersburg is going out of business! Now we'll have to go to Wal-Mart for all of our home remodeling needs!

I did like this picture I took though. Sort of artistic, eh? I took this picture hanging out of my car window one day when it was like 20 degrees.

U.S.N.S. Comfort Leaving Baltimore

For those of you who have traveled south on I-95 toward the Fort McHenry Tunnel (and look around while you're driving) you know that the massive U.S.N.S. Comfort has been a nearly constant presence in the area near the Seagirt Marine Terminal.

According to local officials, the presence of the Comfort provides about $35 million to the local economy. With the ship leaving for Virginia, so will 40 civilian positions in addition to the crew and medical staff of the ship.

While the loss of the Comfort is difficult to accept, what is even more difficult to accept is the fact that the city politicians and local "leaders" are spending tons of money and time bickering and fighting with one another trying to get a sponsor for the Baltimore Grand Prix while the Comfort quietly announces it's up and leaving.

The city claims that the impact of the Baltimore Grand Prix is about $40+ million. However, the U.S.N.S. comfort does not require year-long jobs. Nor does it require the city to chop down hundreds of trees along Pratt Street in order to create site lines, also known as urban eye sores. The Comfort also does not require mandatory traffic gridlock around the city for 8 weeks of the year. The Comfort does not require repaving of city streets.

Maryland Governor Martin "Look the Other Way" O'Malley tried to redirect everyone by claiming that while the loss of the Comfort is bad, the city will be announcing a new major shipping tenant. Word on the street is that the company has a fleet of rubber dinghies and specializes in cement shoes.

So why is the city focusing so much on the Baltimore Grand Prix while the U.S.N.S. Comfort, which generates nearly the same amount of economic benefit with vastly less overhead, is allowed move to Virginia with little resistance? Because Baltimore is run by a bunch of idiots.

New to Eldersburg - Jin's Asian Bistro

As I mentioned a while ago, Jin's Asian Bistro was coming to Eldersburg. Well, now she's here. I noticed that this new restaurant in the Oklahoma Center (next to the McDonald's) is now open. Some of my friends ate there and they both said it was really good. The prices are moderate. They said they had a coupon and got 5 sushi rolls, an appetizer, and sodas and it was about $65. Sure, this costs more than New Win Long, but fortunately, it sounds like the food is not New Win Long, either.

So if you get a chance to go there, let me know how it is. Obviously I haven't been there yet, but when I do, I'll tell you all about it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quick Way to Make Money for Carroll County

This actually applies to both Baltimore County and Carroll County. There are easy ways for law enforcement to fills the coffers of the county and state. How many of you frequently drive from Eldersburg to Baltimore via Liberty Road? If you do, do you watch the oncoming traffic? I do.

Having been the victim of a head-on collision on Liberty Road, I am very conscious of the oncoming cars and what they are doing. I have noticed for a while that there are some absolute nuts on the road in the morning. The traffic coming from Baltimore towards Eldersburg drive without abandon. They drive way too fast. But this is not press-stopping news, I know. What I see nearly every day is worse.

If you are not driving fast enough for the crack-head behind you, you will be passed. Not across the dotted yellow line nor the double yellow line, but......on the shoulder! I cannot believe how often I see this! I see it coming down the hill from Liberty Christian toward the North Patuxant Bridge over Liberty Reservoir. This is in Baltimore County, and I can understand why Baltimore County Police do not monitor this area. They are too busy with the violent crime in the rest of the county.

The second place where I see the shoulder passers is when they are coming up the hill from the bridge toward Oakland Mill Road. This is the Carroll County part of the road. Are these people insane?!!!!

And the best part is when the Carroll County Sheriff's Department or the Maryland State Police decide to do radar in the morning, it's always in one of two spots - that road just prior to that old farmhouse prior to the Snowden Bridge going eastbound and in front of the Lake View Memorial Park cemetery. Are they catching the shoulder passers at these locations? Nope.

So if you're in local law enforcement, check it out. It'll be easy money for the county or state.

And one other quick note about easy money for the state or county - stop in Eldersburg Plaza in the evenings and put tickets on the 10 or so cars parked in the fire lane in front of Total Discount Liquors and Cobblestone Tavern. Come back every 30 minutes and get a whole new slew of fire lane abusers. This drives me nuts!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

You Know What Bugs Me?

Today's post is just a general rant. Yes, I know. Most of my posts are rants. But usually they are specific about a topic. Today is the potpourri of rants. You know what bugs me? These things bug me:

Why do some guys think that they don't have to wash their hands after using the bathroom? I see some of them doing the Peter Pan-style where they put their hands on their hips rather than holding on. Sure, you may not have gotten any on you, but make a good show for everyone else. When I leave the restroom, I tell EVERYONE that you don't wash your hands. How's that for a reputation?

'Have a goo' one'. When did Americans stop saying, "Have a nice day"? And when someone tells me to 'have a goo' one', I always reply, "Thank you! And you have a nice day!"

Why do people walk the halls at work with their heads down? Can't anyone walk with their heads up and make eye contact with passers-by? Don't be a social ogre.

Reality TV shows. I never got into them when that terrible fad started about 10 years ago. Now the shows highlight and celebrate the destructive forces of our society. 16 and Pregnant? Teen Mom? Why are we celebrating these people? Dance Moms? Every one of these people ought to be in jail for child abuse.

Slow drivers during rush hour. I swear that if I become all supreme ruler of the world you will need to qualify to drive during rush hour. When you see 2 miles of cars going 24 mph because of someone at the front of the line is terrified to go 55 mph, this person should be in jail with the dance moms.

Local news. I love the snow. We live in Maryland. And it's winter. Should we be pissed that there's snow? It's not even that much! And when the ding-dong young female report says, "We got a winter blast from mother nature!" and when in reality there were some flurries and it only accumulated on the grassy areas, she ought to be in jail with the dance moms. If you don't like "wintry blasts" then move to Florida with all the other New Yorkers.

The Carroll County Public Schools' Alert System. I don't need to be woken up at 5:45 am to know that schools are late. I have a television. And you don't need to call me on Saturdays to tell me basketball activities at schools are cancelled. You're abusing the technology. Stop it! Or I'll demand that you be thrown in jail with the dance moms.

People that don't say 'thank you'. If I hold the door for you as you're going into Wal-Mart and you don't say 'thank you', you better believe I'll turn around and holler back, "You're welcome!!!"

People in the service industry that don't say, "Can I help you?" Several times I've stood there looking eye-to-eye with the person until they acknowledge me.

People that tell me that I'm wrong when I know that I'm right. I once went into the LabCorp in Eldersburg to have blood drawn. The lady asked if I had ever been there before. I said yes. She said that she didn't see me name in the system, so I must not have ever been there before. Yes, I have been here before. Several times. No you haven't! I was here in 2010. Oh, our records only go back one year. Then don't F**-in tell me that I've never been there if your stupid records only go back one year.

People speeding through my neighborhood. I don't care if you're going to speed on the main roads. But don't speed through my neighborhood. There are kids everywhere. And the streets are narrow. There's this one high school chick in my neighborhood who drives no less than 45 mph. I've seen her make sharp swerves around parked cars with oncoming cars stopping so she could zoom by. I once saw her coming toward me going really fast, so I drifted to the middle of the road. I was going about 20 mpg. She slammed on the breaks then I casually drifted back over and waived to her with a big sheepish smile on my face.

The new store brand food at Martin's. This stuff tastes like crap! I used to always buy the store brand products as longs as they tasted okay. For the most part they did. Then Martin's started using the same store-brand products that are used at Giant (they are both owned by Royal Ahold). Now the yogurt tastes like processed plastic. The cereals taste like aluminum. Blah! Is it just me?

When did the word "absolutely" come to mean yes? Can you do this? Absolutely. Don't you mean yes?

People that don't know the meaning of the word Quality. This is a quality product! Yeah, so is the Yugo. Quality does not mean good. It's a measurement. Items can have low quality. Items can have high quality. So if you're selling something and you say it's a quality product or service, I'm going to assume you mean "low quality" since you're using the word incorrectly.

And you want to know the number one thing that bugs me? People that complain about everything!!! oh, wait......

Friday, February 10, 2012

Believe in Tomorrow - Bull Riding!

As they say, "That's one angry bull!" Ever watch Professional Bull Riding on television? PBR as it's called? Before kids, my wife and I used to watch it all the time. It's good entertainment. This past weekend the PBR Tour cam through Baltimore.

My family had the opportunity to attend the PBR Championship at the fabulous 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, an opportunity given to us by the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation. This included a pre-event light dinner and meeting a couple of the bull riders in addition to a back-stage tour. Did you know that some bulls buck to the left, others to the right, and others like to spin? You do now. Bull riders know this because these cowboys study the bulls on their laptops:

Who is the main sponsor of Professional Bull Riding (PBR)? Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), of course!

This is Flint Rasmussen, your entertainer for the evening. Rodeos are known for their clowns. But remember, these clowns are there for the bull riders' protection. But please do not confuse them with the clowns in Washington or Annapolis.

Here's a redneck Zamboni.

Here's what the fabulous Baltimore Arena looks like for a PBR event. It's was actually pretty crowded! And we stuck out like a sore thumb. I was the one without cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, and\or camouflage.

Did I mention that the event was sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR)?

You know you're at a bull riding event when Ryan Dirteater and Stormy Wing are on the leaderboard.

Now it's time for the bulls, who are, in reality, the stars of the show. This here is one angry bull. My kids asked why bulls get so mad when you sit on them. Hell, I'd be mad if some cowboy tried to sit on me! But you have to give it to those cowboys. They have to be really brave to risk having a 3,000 lb bull landing on them.

And don't get that bull angry. If you do, he'll chase you across the arena. Scale that fence!

Check out this cowboy flying through the air after getting bucked.

Yes, this bull is actually flying through the air!!! There's no 'four on the floor' here. Run like hell!!!

It was an awesome night and we had a great time. Thank you, Believe in Tomorrow! We'll see you in April at the Port to Fort Race!!!

And I'd like to thank the following sponsors. Lincoln Welders. For all your welding needs!

When you need to haul something, Big Tex Trailers will haul it for you!

Bass Pro Shops. For all your fishing, hunting, camping, and deer antler lamp needs.

Bad Boy Mowers. They are not associated with Big Boyz Bail Bonds. Nor the Gonzaga, Mississippi State, or Georgia Bulldogs. Seriously, check out this link. I Googled Gonzaga Bulldogs. Someone totally ripped off someone.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Book Review: Maryland's First Black State Treasurer

This is the other book that I bought at the Carroll County Historical Society back in December. I quickly flipped through the book and learned that the first black State Treasurer in Maryland was actually from Carroll County. That was enough to convince me to buy the book.

Maryland's First Black State Treasurer was written by Timothy A. Dixon, the son of Richard N. Dixon, said treasurer. Richard Dixon was born in Westminster, Maryland and attended the Robert Moton school, one of Carroll County's schools for blacks. The black students from Carroll County were not integrated into the white schools until the late 1960's, which blows my mind. I was born in 1972, so this was only a few years before I was born. I think one's concept of history is framed by your present state, and I have always been in classes that were racially diverse.

After graduating from high school, Dixon went to Morgan State College (now University). After college, he was drafted and served time in Vietnam, just like many of our fathers. (My father was in college from 1967 - 1971 and got married right after he graduated, so he never got drafted)

After returning from military service, Dixon worked for a branch office of Merrill Lynch. It was soon thereafter that he was nominated to serve on the Carroll County Board of Education by Governor Marvin Mandel. In 1970 the newspaper read, "Westminster Negro Appointed to School Board." Reading this made me feel like I was in the middle of Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles.

In 1978, Richard Dixon ran for State Delegate from Carroll County. As the writer points out, Carroll County at this time is about 3% African-American and mostly Republican. It was quite an accomplishment for Dixon as he was elected several times.

In 1996, Richard Dixon was appointed State Treasurer, becoming the first black (or African-American as we must say today) to hold this position. During those years he successfully updated the accounting systems used by the state, conducted a thorough audit of the state's financial records, renegotiated contracts to hold state assets, which included moving money into local banks and some minority-owned banks. The return on investment of the state's pension fund also was very successful during this time.

Treasurer Dixon retired in 2002 due to declining health, but he left behind an impeccable legacy. His name graces the front of many buildings, including the Richard N. Dixon building at the Carroll Hospital Center in Carroll County, and several buildings at Morgan State University.

From an informational viewpoint, this book was very good. However, this book is terribly written. The pages are constructed of disconnected thoughts. There are numerous reassertions of the same point over and over again. There are incorrect references throughout the book, such as to Disneyworld (Disney World). The book mentions a trip to Los Vegas. Where the hell is that? Dixon also made a trip to Van Coover (Vancouver) and Albacurci (Albuquerque). Later is says that he went to Disneyworld in California (Disney World is in Florida) and Disneyland in Florida (Disneyland is in California). Sure, these are trivial matters, but if you write a book it is so easy to use spellchecker to correct the misspellings. And how difficult is it to have someone proofread what you have written?

If you are truly interested in reading about the life of Richard N. Dixon, you can certainly read this book. But if you just have mild curiosity, I would recommend not reading this book. As my wife can attest, it was very frustrating reading a book written about as poorly as something written by a 5th grader.

Book Review: The Forgotten Corner, A History of Oakland Mill

I bought this book at the Carroll County Historical Society back in December. It's a short little book, about 140 pages. My wife freaked out when she picked it up and saw the $22 price tag on it. 'But it supports a local writer and a local business!' I told her.

The Forgotten Corner, A History of Oakland Mill was written by Diana Mills Scott. The book details, as the title states, Oakland Mill, a town that is no longer on the map. It was swallowed by the waters of the Liberty Reservoir. And though I know I just lost about 85% of the readers of this blog post, I found the history to be fascinating.

The book starts from the 1700's with early settlement in the area. A mill was built to take advantage of the flowing waters of the Patapsco River. The town was located in the valley surrounded by the high hills dividing Baltimore and Carroll County.

Some of the interesting facts the book detailed are that during the Civil War the mill got in trouble for producing grey wool. Because Maryland was in the occupied North, they should only have been producing dark blue wool. However, there were many Southern-sympathizers in the area.

In 1931, the Maryland General Assembly and Governor Albert C. Ritchie (namesake of Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie, hon) signed the Legislative Act of the Patapsco Water Basin, basically giving the right of Baltimore City to seize all property, including houses and businesses within a defined area. A dam would be built and the valley would be flooded in order to provide additional water for the free-loading citizens of Baltimore City. Baltimore City offered the property owners money for their property, but if the owners did not accept the offer, it was going to be seized and they would get nothing.

I thought about this process and wondered what it would be like in the 2010's. The law and the watershed project began over 80 years ago. I think there is a greater respect for property laws today, though former Baltimore County Executive and current Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger proved a few years ago that property rights mean very little to politicians when he tried to seize waterfront property in Middle River and Essex from lower income people and businesses and give it to rich developers.

Would Baltimore City get away with condemning land in Howard County or Harford County in 2012 and destroying hundreds of homes in order to build a new dam and reservoir? I sure hope not.

The construction of the dam began in the early 1950's along with the deforestation, the removal of houses, and the construction of bridges, including the North Branch Bridge, which is the longer of the two bridges of Liberty Road crossing the reservoir, the Snowden Bridge, which is the shorter of the two bridges, and also bridges for Route 140, Route 32, and Deer Park Road.

I find it interesting that the date stamp on the Route 26 bridges show 1980. I can only assume that the bridges were re-decked at this time and new dates stamped into the concrete. (Note that State Highway is planning to have 4-lanes for Liberty Road all the way to Randallstown sometime in the future. That will require the construction of twin spans.) The writer also notes that at times when there is a severe drought, the remains of the old Oakland Mill building can be seen.

I recall in 2002 when we had a severe drought, the bridge over Morgan Run (the Snowden bridge) crossed a field rather than a branch of water. The water receded well under the bridge. There is a nice photo montage of the drought showing the water levels at Pretty Boy and Liberty Reservoirs. Check out photo DSCN0353. The old Liberty Road can still be seen, which is normally under water.

So if you're interested in local history, this is a great book. I've seen it at The Little Professor in Eldersburg in addition to the book section at the Carroll County Historical Society in Westminster. Check it out!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Martin O'Malley Hates People Who Use Gas

Actually, that's not a fair statement. It would be more appropriate to say that Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley LOVES people who use gas. He loves them so much that he thinks they would be a good source of new tax revenue to replenish the State Transportation fund that he raided in order to balance the budget.

You cannot entirely lay the blame on Martin O'Malley for not-so-clandestinely moving money out of the transportation fund to fill his budget of massive increased spending. Former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich did the same thing. I'm sure Glendening, Schaefer, Hughes, Mandel, and Agnew all did it, as well.

After being rebuked on his proposal to increase the state sales tax again, this time by nearly 17%, Martin "Ain't A Tax I Don't Like" O'Malley decided he had to find other places to generate revenue to cover his spending increases. What better place to get it than the hard working middle class families of Maryland?

There are now proposals from the media and the blogsphere that if O'Malley is going to apply the state sales tax to gasoline, then the monies generated should be allocated to the Maryland State Transportation fund and should be inaccessible by any future Governor for any use other than transportation projects. Too often the money is used to fill the gaps in other areas. Transportation money should not be spent on funding abortion clinics. Transportation money should not be spent on building stadiums. Transportation money should not be spent on wind farm projects. Transportation money should not be spent on providing services to any Governor's girlfriend who is half his age.

Will the Maryland legislature and the Governor add this common-sense provision, a provision that would overwhelmingly be supported by the vast majority of tax payers of Maryland? Sadly, you know in your heart this will not happen. O'Malley will claim that the state needs to maintain flexibility in tough years to help balance the budget, invest in our future, and keep Maryland moving forward. You know the hollow rhetoric.

Unfortunately, the people that put him in office use gas and will be punished by his spending addiction.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Martin O'Malley Saw His Shadow

Today, Groundhog's Day, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley stuck his head out of the Maryland General Assembly and saw his shadow. This means 6 more weeks of tax hikes, 6 more weeks of wasteful spending, 6 more weeks of destruction of the middle class, and 6 more weeks of failure.

Unfortunately, we all know that there are way more than 6 more weeks of these things. We have several more years of suffering to go.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Traffic Light Problem at OM Blvd & Lyon's Mill Road

If you've been through this intersection in the past 2 weeks you'll know that it takes FOREVER to get through this light. For some reason the west-bound signal is only green for about 9 seconds, allowing for about 4-5 cars to get through this intersection before it turns yellow\red. During rush-hour in the evenings it is taking me 5 light cycles to get through that intersection. And that is annoying!

Have no fear. I have called Baltimore County Transportation at (410)-887-3554 and have registered a complaint. They said they will have someone check out the light and reset it for us.

If you find a light that is causing you a problem, call that number (if you're in Baltimore County). Git 'er done!
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