Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Carroll County Public Schools - Overcrowded Buses? No problem!

Today was the first day of school for Carroll County Public Schools. While most parents' eyes were filled with tears as their little babies went off to government-controlled public schools, I was more filled with happiness. My kids love school and I admit that I'm a bit jealous that they're home during the summer. It's totally not fair!

However, this afternoon many parents' emotions switched to anger when they found out how crowded the school buses are. My daughter said that the school bus to middle school was so crowded that there were 3 kids to a seat and the rest had to sit in the aisles.

This is totally legal right? I wonder if Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie endorses this arrangement. Is Martin O'Malley not providing sufficient funding for school buses? Governor O'Malley - would you put your children on this bus?

This whole situation is insane. Most middle school kids are the size of adults. My daughter is as tall as me. She said there was no room and everyone was getting claustrophobic. Imagine if Mr. Guthrie had to seat 9 adults across the back seat and floor of his county-provided vehicle. Would they feel safe? Or if Martin O'Malley had to put 6 adults across the back seat of his limousine.

I told my daughter that if she one of the last ones on the bus to refuse to sit on the floor and demand that alternate transportation arrangements be made before the bus is allowed to proceed.

I anxiously await comment from Carroll County Public Schools, Governor Martin O'Malley, and the Maryland State Police on this situation.

If you would like to contact Mr. Guthrie, he can be reached at 410.751.3000.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Film Foundation - "We Need Your Money!"

Have you rented a DVD lately or gotten one from Netflix? If so, I'm sure you've seen the preview for The Film-Foundation, a foundation formed by Martin Scorsese in 1990. The DVD preview is narrated by Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese. They discuss how time and lack of technology in the early days of the film industry are contributing to the deterioration of our film treasures.

The Film-Foundation has been restoring many of these prized films, but there are many more that need to be restored, as well. Without restoration soon, these films can be lost forever.

What does the Film-Foundation want us to do to help them? Donate lots of money! Seriously? A foundation created and sponsored by millionaire actors, producers, and directors wants us, the common people, to give them OUR money so that they can restore them, then re-release them and make even MORE money off of these films?

What am I missing here? Let's turn this around. Let's say I'm a furniture maker, but some of my older pieces are getting old and need to be restored. I come begging you for money so that I can restore them, then sell them to you? How does this make any sense? Is the government sponsoring this?

I totally get a laugh out of this preview every time I hit Fast Forward through Clint Eastwood, the former tough guy of America, acting like a blithering idiot at this farcical request.

What do of think of their request?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wells Fargo? Or Wachovia?

In December of 2008, the government forced the sale of Wachovia in order to avoid its absolute collapse. We already dealt with the financial woes of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG. From this debacle, the San Francisco-based Wells Fargo acquired the assets of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia. (our friends in Charlotte HATE that we say "Charlotte, North Carolina")

In the Freedom Village Shopping Center (where the Shopper's and Panera Bread are located), a Wachovia bank sits. However, when I drove by recently, I couldn't tell what bank was operating in this location.

Was it Wachovia?

Or Wells Fargo?

I guess it depends which direction you were traveling on Route 26.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New to Eldersburg: Glory Days Grill

The Eldersburg Glory Days Grill has been open for over a couple of months now, but because of the massive tax increases that Martin O'Malley pushed, we cannot afford to go there. Located in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, Glory Days occupies a building that was empty for what seemed like several years.

Several of my friends have eaten there and it has received moderate reviews. It has bar-type food, similar to Chilis, which Eldersburg already has. There's really nothing unique about this place, just another restaurant that serves alcohol.

It is certainly an attractively designed building. And it's always crowded. Though most new restaurants are crowded. I wonder how Glory Days Grill is impacting the businesses like Chili's, Salerno's, and Beck's.

Have you been there yet? What do you think?

Coming to Sykesville - Metro Bobcat Sales

Do you hate having to drive all over the state of Maryland trying to find a place to rent a Bobcat (skid-steer)? Well, you're in luck. Metro Bobcat Sales will be constructing a new sales center in Sykesville, right near the intersection of Klee's Mill Road and Route 26, just prior to Route 97.

You may remember that there was some old farm buildings on this site up until several years ago when the buildings were demolished and the site was cleared. Or you might not remember that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Unfavorite Yellow Business in Eldersburg

I've never been here, nor do I ever intend to support this business. Any company that gets away with painting their building an obnoxious color deserves to have people laugh at it. Seriously? Mustard yellow? Yes, it gets our attention, but so do naked fat women and deer carcasses on the side of the road. But what better combination is there than a laundromat and a car wash? That's synergy!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Baltimore Sun - SMALLER and smaller and ......

For the past several years the Baltimore Sun has been laying off people left and right. Gone are many of the local writes, the political cartoonist, some of the editors, Michael Olesker and more. Now The Sun has announced that is it laying off MORE people. They noted it as buying out contracts. It's all the same - they're getting rid of staff.

In an article that appeared in many local papers, The Sun is looking to buyout 20-25 people. Among the expected casualties will be two columnists, two critics, an editorial writer, two copy editors, two design editors and a photographer. I expect in their place will be articles written by the AP or other nationally syndicated writers. Of course, these writers will focus on issues on a national level and will totally ignore local issues. The empty positions will possibly be filled with three monkeys, an bag of potato chips, and the Perry Hall high school newspaper staff.

What in the world is going on with the newspaper business? We all know that advertising revenue is shrinking like crazy. And The Sun has a horrible reputation of being a bias, pro-liberal newspaper. They endorsed Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend, for crying out loud! I firmly believe that if the devil was a Democrat, The Sun would endorse him before they would endorse a Republican.

Before long, The Sun's competition will no longer be The Washington Post or New York Times. It will be The Advocate, The City Paper, and some blog named VoteNoMalley. Imagine their disgust when they lose out on the Pulitzer prize to some college kids writing for UMBC.

I cringe for the day when there is no longer any local coverage and in-depth investigative reporting. The politicians and greedy businesses will have a field day as they know no one will call them out on their shenanigans. Is there an answer? I'm not sure. What do you think?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Who is Otis Rolley?

If you're following the Baltimore mayoral election, you've certainly heard of Otis Rolley. He's making himself about as high-profile as you can. You can follow him on Twitter. He's been interviewed on radio stations. He's everywhere!

When I first heard of him, I Googled his name. I found his Wikipedia page, so I naturally read it. Normally, someone unassociated to the person writes an objective article about politicians. However, this article is so professionally written and glossy, I am confident that he wrote it himself or had someone write it for him. It is more subjective than objective. The article glamorizes the wonderful things that he did as a city planner. How does a former city planner get a Wikipedia page? The rules of Wikipedia state the a person must be notable. I don't think being the director of a planning department makes a person notable. If he gets elected as the Mayor of Baltimore, I think that would justify him getting a page, but until then, not so much.

So in order to spare you from the self-aggrandizement, I'll highlight some of the items.

He participated in Model Program, a series of challenging classes at Lincoln High School in New Jersey. Who cares? Nearly everyone who grew up in the surrounding counties of Baltimore participated in some sort of advanced classes, be they GT or CM or whatever was in fashion at the time. And who would know this other than him and his parents? And who would care - other than him and his parents?

He received the Buttonwood Scholarship. Everyone knows what that is, right? Yeah, me neither.

At the age of 25, he managed 100 employees and a $1 million budget. Okay, this is impressive, but is it Wikipedia-worthy? I really don't think so. This should be on his campaign website, not Wikipedia.

He notes when Martin O'Malley was elected mayor, then Governor, as if that is uncommon knowledge and important to his biography. Mr. Rolley, we all know when Marty got elected and followed up with massive tax increases.

Rolley managed the urban development and local government reform sectors of the Urban Policy Development (until recently). That solidifies it. If I lived in the city I'd vote for him because of his involvement in the urban development and local government reform sectors. Does this even warrant being on a resume'?

His Wikipedia page also notes that he is active on Facebook and Twitter. I'm starting to think that he is using his Wikipedia page as a free election website.

I'm sure Mr. Rolley is a nice person with great intentions, but this is total abuse of a free website. I invite the Wikipedia world to edit this page and bring it back down to Earth. This nonsense must be stopped!

Baltimore City Redistricting

The Sun has been running a series of articles about the redistricting that is going to be done as the result of the census. They have spanned from The Sun's joy of busting up one or both of the Republican Congressional districts in the state to the most recent articles about Baltimore City losing representation.

As a result of the continued mass exodus from the city, Baltimore's population no longer warrants the 18 state delegates and 6 state senators. This is causing an uproar in City Hall and in The Sun. Mayoral candidate Otis Rolley seems to be using this as one of his rally calls. The fact is Baltimore City lost another 30,000 people in the last decade. Most of them were killed. I'm kidding. Only about 3,000 people were killed in the last decade, though that's not really funny.

The majority of these people have moved into Baltimore County. The politicians, residents, and writers at The Sun are in angst because they realize that with less representation in Annapolis, they can't run to the Maryland General Assembly with as many hats in hand. Less hats means less money. As you can imagine, the tax base in Baltimore City versus the social needs requires that more money from taxes be sent back to the city than were collected. Imagine if you paid $1000 in taxes, then the state government gave you a check for $1,070 for such a good job you did.

Who is supporting Baltimore City? It certainly isn't Baltimore City. Montgomery County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County - more of our money is going to Baltimore City than anywhere else. And now Baltimore City is pissed off. Sounds kind of arrogant, doesn't it?

How do the greasy politicians plan to resolve this? They want to make the Baltimore City districts jut out into Baltimore County, but not so much as to allow the residents of Baltimore County to have a say in the election, but just enough to get their population totals to the minimum requirement. There should still be enough Baltimore City residents in each district to control the election. This will allow the city to have more districts begging for money than would be allowed if they followed the laws of political districts and made them represent natural boundaries or actual city lines.

This is nothing new. Maryland's former Governor from New York, Parris Glendening, tried it. He got sent to court and lost. Then the court had to redo the district maps themselves to make them fair. Do you think that we can rely on our elected officials to be fair this time? Of course not. They're already saying this is what they're probably going to do.

So residents of Baltimore County -be forewarned. Annapolis and Baltimore City want to make sure that your voice is not heard! Fight back!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Maryland State Highway - Are You on Crack?

Have you been on Liberty Road heading east from White Rock Road lately? This is the section of road past that new shopping center \ professional office area where the old driving range and putt-putt golf center used to be.

I have driven this stretch of road several times since I need to go that way to get to Piney Run Park. I want to know who the idiot is that signed off on that road striping. You don't really need to know much about traffic management to understand that what they did does not make any sense.

Logically, whenever someone changes a lane, that is a traffic hazard, though in the grand scheme of things, it may be a low-risk traffic hazard. However, what if the road forces a lane change? Just like this stretch of Route 26? As you travel east, the through lane is a single lane. The road then opens to 2 lanes in each direction, however, the through lane is now on the far right. Not too much farther the original through lane becomes a dedicated turn-lane onto Emerald Lane. If you want to continue eastward, you MUST change lanes. How does this make any sense? There will be accidents as knuckleheads try to race to the front of the line and squeeze in. You know that guy. Heck, you might BE that guy.

Here is an exaggerated diagram of the road so that you get the idea.

Does Maryland Director of Transportation Beverley K. Swaim-Staley agree to this new ridiculous new configuration? Does acting State Highway Administrator Darrell B. Mobley agree with this? Do you, as citizens of Eldersburg or Carroll County agree with this? Martin O'Malley, you MUST be smart enough to know that this idea is stupid. Please tell you staff at the Department of Transportation to fix this.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Beach Trip, Part IV - Thank You

I would be remiss if I didn't thank all of the donors to the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation. They provided meals, activities, boat rides, and gifts to all of the families that stayed there this week. And they do this week after week.

Hooper's Crab House donated a crab feast for all of the families. We all got to eat in a boat and it was all you can eat crabs, shrimp, chicken, corn balls, and corn on the cob. Yummy! And, they have a claw machine with lobsters in it and the father of one of the families just won it because he wanted to prove he could win it. He asked the other families if they wanted the lobster and no one spoke up, so I claimed it. I did share it with my family. And one of the mom's who started hovering once it was steamed and delivered. And it poured down rain during dinner. On the boat. Tied to the pier. Out in the water.

The Fractured Prune gave us another dozen donuts - which rocked. There's not too much that is more awesomer than getting donuts custom-made as they're pulled out of the dough fryer. And where else can you get chocolate mint donuts, hon?

In the 500 or so many times I've been to Ocean City, I don't think I've ever escaped the barrier island without a rigorous game of miniature golf. I despise the fact that my 11 year old daughter regularly beats me now. No. I'm not letting her win. She just does. Err....

I didn't get a picture of the place, but La Hacienda also provided meals for our family and at least one another family one night. We had to be there at 5pm before the big crowd, but the food was good. And plenty of it. And my wife liked the fact that a young Matthew MccConaughey worked there. Not sure why she got so excited. She's married to the studliest guy west of Liberty Reservoir.

Planet Maze also provided a one-day family pass for us. We enjoyed a few games of laser-tag, which my son absolutely dominated. I'm not sure how he did it, but he figured out something. My youngest daughter got to play in the climbing tubes, though we intelligently stayed away from the bacteria-laden ball pit.

Finally the United States Coast Guard's Ocean City unit provided a tour and rides our of their bay-side port, through the Inlet, and out into the Ocean. It's a pretty cool boat. The mates were all like kids to me. Unfortunately, there were no cannons on the boat, nor did we do any search and seizures of drug runners or out of control college girls acting inappropriately. But it was still a good ride.

I know there are other donors to this wonderful organization, but I can't remember them all. They all know who they are and we thank you!
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