Monday, February 28, 2011
I think the place closed a month or two ago. Anyone ever go there? How was it? Not that it matters anymore.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I received several comments and agreeing complaints from readers. They agreed that these signs are detracting from our town and wanted to know what we can do about it. Complain to your state delegate Susan Krebs. Complain to your Carroll County Commissioner Doug Howard. Complain to the Carroll County Office of Zoning and Planning.
Since then several of you have given me examples of more places that have these signs. They include:
Carroll Community Bank
The new Crown Station on Liberty Road (they finally took down the hand-painted bed sheet with their logo and replaced with a legitimate sign - with LED lights).
And Liberty High School, this sign on Route 32.
When will this madness end?
I once visited the place to check it out and because my son wanted end-zone cones to play football in the yard. They had the cones and 4 of them were $4. They have a lot of athletic stuff there that you would expect to need to play local rec and high school sports. They sold Liberty and Century High School clothing, which I thought was cool.
The worst part about the place was all of the Steeler's crap they sold. I asked the owner about it and he said he probably sold as much Steeler's crap as Ravens apparel, which is unfortunate.
However, the space is now available through Weichert Realty.
I heard from several readers who had more information than me. The Athletic House closed because of a lease /contract dispute. With a little research, I think the landlord is M&I Properties, LLC. I "think" M&I Properties is owned by Marshall & Ilsley Bank, a Wisconsin Bank.
According to The Athletic House's Facebook page:
Valued Customers: Effective immediately our RETAIL operation has been closed due to an unexpected Tenant/Landlord contract dispute. This literally came out of left field on Thursday via a letter from UPS. Our TEAM SPORTS/SCREEN PRINTING & EMBROIDERY OPERATION continues to run and is NOT effected by this issue. If you h...ave orders currently in the works, they will continue to proceed as normal.
Friday, February 25, 2011
After her chemotherapy began and we started to get into the pattern of treatment, things settled down a little bit (it's all relative, of course). We were given information about some foundations and charities that provide services and assistance to families in our situation. You may have heard of some of then, such as Casey Cares. Casey Cares has already given us tickets to some local events in the Baltimore area. For that we are very grateful.
We then learned about Believe in Tomorrow. This foundation provides hospital and respite housing to families with critically ill children. They have a couple beach houses in Ocean City, another in North Carolina, and a house in Western Maryland. They allow families to stay there free of charge.
We made arrangements to stay there over the President's Day weekend. My kids originally had both Monday and Tuesday off from school, however because Carroll County Public Schools are liberal in there closings (they closed schools several times because of a dusting of snow and once because it might rain), the schools had used up all of their snow days and were actually in the minus. Therefore, the decision was made to open schools on Tuesday. But we already had plans, so they were coming. The net of this was we were taking them out of school for Friday and Tuesday.
We arrived at the house on the beach around 11:30. I checked in and was told that they were getting a package together for us that included meals and activities. I wasn't really expecting this. We had packed several meals in the cooler to prepare ourselves.
We got to our room and it was fantastic. It was extremely clean. You know my disdain for the overuse of the word "extreme", but this place was spotless. It had 3 bedrooms, 2 of the bedrooms had 2 beds. One was a parents' room, one was specifically for younger children and included both a boy's bed and a girl's bed. The other room was more neutral.
Fortunately our place was just up the block from Freedom ABBA's Bail Bonds. You know. Just in case.
Being February in Maryland, we didn't expect it to be too warm, but it was very warm on Friday. The temperature got up to 72. After some subs and pizza from Fat Daddy's, we spent most of the day playing on the beach in our shorts - something we don't do in Maryland in February. We put our toes in the water to feel how cold it was. It was almost instant pain. PAIN! It was so cold it hurt. The beach was nearly abandoned. As far as I could see there were probably 10-15 people total in both directions. This on a beach that would have thousands of people in the summer.
Every little kid has to throw sand into the ocean. If you have kids you know exactly what I mean. This one is 9 years old and he still does it!
When dinner time arrived we decided that we would use the gift card that was provided to us for The Outback Steakhouse in West Ocean City. We presented the gift card prior to ordering and the waiter said he would take care of us. I got a steak ciabatta. My wife got steak, my 2 older kids got ribs, and my daughter Payton, my 3 year old, got chicken strips. It was a good meal.
At the end of the meal the manager came over and asked how everything was. We told him it was great and explained that we were staying at the Believe in Tomorrow place and that Outback had donated the gift card to us and we were truly thankful. He said he knew the head of the foundation and was glad we got to come to his restaurant. He wished us luck with everything, left, and then returned with a bag full of commemorative Outback Steakhouse pins from each of the different holidays.
That evening we went out on the beach and took some photos playing with the shutter speed. I took this photo of the moon capturing the reflection off of the water and the beach. It really looks like it could be the sun and in the daytime, doesn't it?
My daughter and I then started messing with some time-lapsed photography of cars driving by. I think these are pretty cool.
The next day we used our passes to the Indoor Old Pro golf facility. Payton had a great time and I think she shot a 3 under par. Somehow my 9 year old son beat me. Legitimately. Am I really at that point in my life already???
Next we used a pass to Fun City Arcade. They gave us $40 in quarters to spend. My kids had a blast. They did everything from play video games, skee-ball, the quarter-pushing machine, and the crane that never picks up anything.
I really like this picture I took:
Later we went down the boardwalk and used our passes to the Ocean City Life Saving Museum. I had always wanted to go through it, but normally when you're on vacation you have a million other things you'd rather do (or more accurately a million other things your family would rather do). I found the museum very interesting. It's mostly one of those pictures and read as you go museums. It discussed the history of Ocean City and the changes that the town has experienced over 150 or so years. Upstairs were artifacts, such as the bathing suits over the years (apparently there were no thongs back in the 1920's), items that have washed up on shore or were recovered from shipwrecks, and other attractions that were once displayed in the various arcades and amusement parks on the boardwalk.
That evening we went to Mancini's in Fenwick Island, Delaware. During the summer it would probably take you an hour to get there. In February - 10 minutes. We presented the waiter with our certificate for a meal and asked him what that permitted us to get. He said we could get anything we wanted. Anything. Anything!!!
I didn't want to be a total gluten, but I got Clams Casino, a Gorgonzola salad, seafood primavera, and an iced tea. It was fantastic. And I ate it all! My oldest daughter got cream of crab soup, a Caesar salad, and crab raviolis. She said the food was awesome, but after the salad, bread, and soup, wasn't able to eat too much of the raviolis, but she did eat more the next day. My wife got soup, Caesar salad, and a seafood pasta without the marinara sauce. My son got the salad and crab and spinich pizza, He only ate one slice of the pizza and was stuffed. He's not much into leftovers, so I was the beneficiary of those. Yumm!!! Payton, on the other hand, only wanted plain spaghetti. But that's okay.
The waiter didn't give us a bill, but we still wanted to tip him as he did a fantastic job serving us. I mentally calculated the bill and estimated it to be between $125 and $140. Wow!!! We don't normally eat at places like this. We gave him a $25 tip. I hope that was enough. Again, we asked for the manager and told him that Mancini's had donated the meal to Believe in Tomorrow and we were the recipients of that meal. We told him the meal was one of the best we had ever had and thanked him profusely. He appreciated that praise and also wished us well.
The next morning we used our certificate for a box of donuts from The Fractured Prune. Let me tell you these donuts were good! They made them right there in front of us. The box was hot as I was taking it to the car. I saw their Believe in Tomorrow plaque on the wall and told them we were staying there and thanked them for donating the donuts to us. I asked them how they came up with the name "The Fractured Prune". She told me to turn around as the story was written on the wall. If you're interested, here is the story.
My mother in-law and sister-in-law also came to the beach (they have their own condominium) and they took my wife and daughters shopping at the outlets up in Rehoboth. I used this opportunity to take my son and nephew to Planet Maze, who gave us a day pass to their place. They are located around 30th street on Ocean Highway. They offer laser tag, video games, food, ball pits, and miniature golf. You can hold birthday parties there, too. We decided that we were only interested in the laser tag. We played for over 2 hours with various other guests. One game was as small at 4 people, another must have had 25. I don't know how he did it, but my nephew crushed everyone nearly every time. He'd have twice as many points as the next closest person. I use the old go-cart analogy. You know how there's always at least one go-cart that someone messed with that's just a bit faster than all the other go-carts. That must have been my nephews laser gun. Anyway, by the time we finished my shirt was soaking wet. I don't sweat that much in step aerobics, but boy was I a sloppy mess.
After laser tag, we traveled the boardwalk for a while (it was very windy - in fact a girl in a blue dress with a little dog blew right past us!). We stopped for lunch as Caruso's (no gift certificate), but the food is always good there, though expensive. 2 subs and a slice of pizza was $30.
We made a stop in Candy Kitchen. Can't go to Ocean City without stopping in Candy Kitchen 10 times. Am I the only person under 75 that likes fruit slices???
Finally, we wrapped it up with some french fries from Thrashers. Gotta love Thrasher's french fries. We started heading back because my nephew had to go home because they were supposed to have school on Tuesday. However, they were calling for snow.
The next day we woke to snow in Ocean City. We watched the local news and wouldn't you know it? Schools were closed!!! I gathered my oldest daughter and the camera and we headed to the beach. The sidewalks and road were very slippery. There wasn't much snow, just enough to make most things white. I snapped a few pictures of the snow on the dunes and some on the beach just to prove that we saw it.
We headed home on Tuesday afternoon making a couple of stops (3 kids, one who is 3 years old and hates to travel). We got lunch at Arby's in Salisbury and stopped at the outlets in Queenstown. My son entertained us with requesting that they play tag and hide-and-seek in the car.
So that was our trip. Thank you so much Believe in Tomorrow for making this trip possible for us. It rejuvenated us, allowed us to spend time away from everything that is reminding us that my daughter has cancer, and allowed us to be a happy family together for few days. This is not a feeling that we have had much in the last few months. Hopefully my daughter's treatment can continue to go well and we can make another trip soon.
Please support the businesses that made contributions to Believe in Tomorrow. They are wonderful companies for caring!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
I went to the Eldersburg library to return some items and pick up some new ones. While I was sorting the items in my car this truck pulled up and reminded me of a joke my brother-in-law said. The joke has been modified to fit the picture.
What's yellow and sleeps 2? A Carroll County Public Works truck.
A Maryland state highway truck would be an acceptable answer, as well.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I suspect that the local Mayflower moving companies all went out of business after they moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis. And it serves them right - losing all of their Maryland business. If they were smart they wouldn't have accepted the job. The picture of the Mayflower truck pulling out of the Owings Mills training facility in the middle of the night during a snow storm is one of the most notorious pictures in Baltimore history.
What's funny is that this Mayflower truck has a Raven's logo on it. Yeah, like that's really ever going to entice me to hire them. I will be 80 years old and I will refuse to hire them. As far as I am concerned they are co-conspirators in ripping a part of my childhood away from me in 1984.
Friday, February 18, 2011
For those living in Eldersburg you may recall the big fight several years ago with Security Development and the surrounding neighborhoods to build high-density town houses. Well, they're not officially townhouses as they only have one entrance. The builders got around this requirement by officially calling them condominiums.
At one time either Target approached Security Development (the previous owner of the property) or Security Development approached Target about building a store on this plot of land. From my recollection, Target backed out when the Carroll County Zoning and Planning rejected Target's request to put a new light on Liberty Road. Instead, CCZP would allow a right ingress, right egress-type exit. What this means is that west-bound drivers on Liberty would not be able to turn left into the shopping center and drivers leaving Target would not be able to turn left onto west-bound Liberty Road. Instead, drivers would have to exit through the rear entrance on Kali Drive onto Ridge Road, which would be this intersection, then they would turn left at the intersection of Ridge\Oklahoma and Liberty, which is already a busy intersection.
Obviously the Target never happened and now we Eldersburgers are stuck with K-Mart, which in my opinion is just not an option for shopping, and Walmart. Need I say more?
In Target's place, we get over 200 units of this:
Thursday, February 17, 2011
If you don't live in Eldersburg, you should check them out some time. Good seafood and subs there. And beer!
I went to Bel Air High School back in the days. It's been a while, but they tore down the old Bel Air High School and built a new one. I took this picture a few months before they tore it down. Obviously they were not spending any money on the upkeep at this point. It looks like a dump.
It wasn't all that great of a building when I was there. The 2-story building was shaped like a U. And almost without missing a beat the air conditioning only worked on the bottom part of the U building. Guess what was in that part of the building? Administrative offices, teachers' lounge, library, nurse's office, etc. Coincidence? Back in high school we thought not. I bet some kids even did things intentionally to get sent to the principal's office or the nurse's station.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
This weekend Baltimore City offered what they are spinning as Early Teacher Retirement for veteran teachers. What is the definition of a veteran teacher in the Baltimore City Public School system? According to them it is 10 years. I'm actually surprised. Surprised that anyone would work in a city school for 10 years. A retiring teacher would be eligible for 75% of their salary for 5 years.
I'm not following the logic too well. If they can get a bunch of "old" teachers to retire (and some could be as old as 32!), they will continue to pay them for another 5 years, albeit at only 75%. And in return they get them out of the building and in 5 years they don't have to pay them anymore. Uhhh........ What a great return on investment. I think. What?
The Baltimore City School system claims it will save about $10 million in the first year. I would assume that's the 25% reduction in salary. In exchange for 100% less work. Are you following me?
This morning on television, Mayor Rawlings-Blake was trying to put some positive spin on it, was stumbling and doing a terrible job of it. She said that every year there are a bunch of new teachers that they need to provide opportunities to and this is a good way to provide those opportunities. I'm serious. She really said this. You can't make up stuff this good.
For those of us who didn't go to Baltimore City schools, we know this is the opposite spin of firing highly paid teachers and hiring lesser paid teachers in order to save money.
This whole thing is a mess. As one of my colleagues reminded me - remember when Baltimore City Public Schools had to borrow money because they "lost" millions of dollars? But the good news is they paid it back. You know. With all that revenue they generate by being a free public school. But I digress.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Wilson, a politically-active Republican, claimed that Ulman abused the power of his political position to recommend to her employer, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, to have her fired after only one week on the job. Ulman and Ball, on the other hand, claimed that they only stated that the hard left-wing liberal extremist Democrats (my words) would not be willing to work with her because she wasn't one of them. Don't we also have this problem in the Middle East between the Jews and Arabs? Is Howard County competing with the Middle East for headlines about narrow-mindedness?
Again, the Democrats claim that they are the political group of tolerance? Time and time again we find that claim to be a big steaming pile of cow poop. They are clearly intolerant of anyone that does not agree with them.
The ethics commission ruled that Ulman's statement did not violate ethics law because it was simply his opinion. Well, it's my simple opinion that Ulman is an arrogant intolerant liberal who is hoping to get his run at the Governor's office in the next couple of elections.
Democrats - you need to stop preaching tolerance when you are really full of so much hatred.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
As you may know my 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia last October. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia to be exact.
Last Wednesday we received a call that we were invited to attend the University of Maryland men's basketball game against Longwood University. You may have heard of the University of Maryland. They used to be really good at basketball. Longwood University, as everyone knows, is the independent college from Farmer, Virginia.
We arrived about 30 minutes early at College Park and decided to drive around a bit. I thought we were in the wrong place. If it weren't for the signs indicating it was a college I would have sworn we were in a large military prison or had gone through a time warp and ended up in 1960 Stalingrad. Either way, the builders and architects are the same. I think you can describe the building style of the campus as contemporary urban ugly. Did they put any thought into designing the campus? Or was everything done as simply and as cheaply as possible? I came away from the visit with one conclusion - my children will not go to college there. And this doesn't even take into consideration the high crime at the campus and around the Prince George's County area.
Have you ever visited any of the other ACC campuses? I've been to Virginia, Virginia Tech, Duke, North Carolina, and North Carolina State. Maryland is by far the ugliest of the bunch. In fact, none of the others even come close.
Here is a view inside the arena. It's a jam-packed crowd at the fabulous Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. Maryland students support their teams!
Here are the Terp basketball players surrendering before the game even starts! Wow, this is a bad season! We could here them shouting, "We surrender!" They must be French.
Anyway, back to the game, we walked into the Comcast Center and were directed to the box section. It was very nice. Fully stocked refrigerator, platters of chicken strips, hot dogs with chili, mozzarella sticks, brownies, potato chips, popcorn, and chocolate chip cookies. There were several comfortable seats and tables, then some bar stools with 2 bars looking out into the arena. Beyond the bar area were about 16 extremely comfortable leather seats. I now see where the University of Maryland's priorities are.
This is the view of our box from the floor seats:
The event was sponsored by Carroll Independent Fuel company. The representative from CIF said that they provide fuel for the new Crown station and the Sunoco station in Eldersburg. He was very nice and after some conversation learned that he went to Calvert Hall and actually knew some people that went to grade school with me. What a small world it is.
We got a visit from the Terrapin mascot. Not sure if he has a name. I think it might be bullet-proof. You need to be bullet-proof in this part of P.G. County.
About 15 minutes before halftime a representative from the college joined us and asked if we'd be interested in sitting in the seats down on the floor. Uh, duh! Of course! I would not miss this opportunity to see the mighty Longwood Lancer's up close and in action.
He escorted my son and me down to the seats. We finally got to our seats and we were in the folding chairs just to the right of the basket right behind the camera men. It was really cool. Missed passes were flying our way. Unfortunately, I'm not good enough with my Nikon D-40X to take action photos. They were all blurry.
This is the view of the players from our seats on the floor:
This is the view of the cheerleaders from our seats on the floor:
From a purely photographic quality perspective, this picture of the referee is one of my better shots. Probably because he was standing still.
At halftime one of the families that my wife has befriended was honored with the game ball at center court. Their daughter is 13 and is nearly done her 2 1/2 year chemotherapy treatment for leukemia. I was surprised to see and hear the crowd of 1,000 stand up and cheer for her. These were the same hostile knuckleheads that yelled, "You suck" and "F**K you" when the other team was introduced.
The game ended as I expected: Maryland more than doubling -up the Lancers 106-52. It was Gary William's 665th victory, passing the great John Wooden - coach of UCLA from the power teams of the 60's and 70's.
All in all it was a good night. I met some great people and we are truly appreciative to the people at Carroll Independent fuel for sponsoring the event for us. Support Crown and Sunoco!
I thought this dude was funny. He draped himself in the Maryland flag. I can see Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley doing this, too.
Easily the funniest thing we saw at the game - some kid dressed up as Bender from Futurama. I'm sure this was a fraternity stunt. He danced back and forth holding a sign of a tooth playing a guitar. I have no idea what this means. The Terp mascot went up to him later and gave him a hug. He even made it up on the jumbo-tron during the game.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
As noted in The Sun, State Senator Katherine Klausmeier and state Delegate John Olszewski Jr.requested a task force to hold public meetings to explore establishing elected positions on the board.
Yesterday, the Baltimore County School Board conducted an internal vote to determine if the existing board members would be in agreement with such a change. Surprisingly they voted against the proposal to have some of their seats changed to elected positions. And are we shocked? No, of course not. That's like asking a group of drunks (no, I'm not talking about the Montgomery County delegation) to determine if some of them will no longer be drunks. Of course they're going to vote against it.
No one likes changes. Especially when they've got a good thing going, such as perks and benefits, power, no accountability. Who cares if their decisions do not reflect the interests of the public that they have been appointed to represent. This is Maryland politics - not a democracy!
Now it is up to the Maryland General Assembly to determine if they will ram-rod the changes through. Is there anyone on the Baltimore County School Board that is bound for Annapolis? It'll be interesting to see who has the most pull on this issue.
I'd like to see the change. I think more public representation is a good thing. But what do I know? I'm just a commoner.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Now these unattractive and distracting signs are showing up at every new business across our town. Check out how many I have (and I'm sure that I'm missing some).
Here is the sign for Susquehanna Bank in the Eldersburg Market Place just off of Route 32 (with the Kohl's, Home Depot, and Martin's). It's not terrible as it is off of the road, but scrolling LED nonetheless.
This is one of the first scrolling LED lights that I recall showing up in our once classy town. This one scrolls messages about God and shows pictures, plus gives important dates and information about the Church as you drive by at 70 mph.
Here at the former Crown station, former Texaco station, current Shell Station at the corner of Ridge Road and Liberty Road, you can determine the price of gas from 2 parcecs away. On a related note - you guys need to trim the bushes around your sign!
Across the street from the ghettoesque Carrolltown Center, which I might add has no scrolling LED lights (but on the other hand they have no real businesses there either), there is the Oklahoma Center. They just renovated this strip mall recently and it looks really nice....except for the scrolling red LED lights.
Here's another LED at the Eldersburg Market Place. This is one for Martin's gas station. Why a grocery store is selling gas is beyond me, but they no doubt are also using the sign. Did you hear the astronauts talking to Houston on their latest shuttle mission as they passed over Maryland? "What the hell are all of those red lights?" No, they weren't even over Baltimore City yet. They were flying over Eldersburg.
Like the ugly fat sister, Jiffy Lube was late to the game. But not to be outdone they decided to put in a mini scrolling red LED sign. The letters are far too small to read as you drive by. And all those technical terms they use? Those words don't even fit on the sign. And Jiffy Lube - if you're going to put up a new sign - please paint the post, too. This ain't Glen Burnie.
So there you have it. Eldersburg is officially under attack by the gaudy red LED lights. Is there no recourse? Can we stop it? Do we need to go to Carroll County Zoning and Planning to write some guidelines on what is appropriate?
We have 5 new Carroll County commissioners. Do you have any recommendations?