Saturday, April 23, 2011

Martin O'Malley: Practicing to be Secretary of State?

Everyone knows that when Martin O'Malley gets elected to a new position he immediately has his eyes on the next one. Baltimore City Council to Baltimore City Council President. Baltimore City Council President to Mayor of Baltimore. Mayor of Baltimore to Governor of Maryland. Only Kathleen Kennedy Townsend kept him from getting elected a term sooner. After he won his second and final (thank God!) term as Governor of Maryland, I firmly believe he began looking at what his next position would be. And now I think we see hints as to what that may be.

Many pro-O'Malley blogs and newspapers such as The Sun get so excited talking about O'Malley's future that they pee their panties. I think they want O'Malley to be President. Remember the "alabaster cities'" speech at one of the Democratic inauguration?

America the beautiful, whose alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears…

After he said that a lot of people turned and looked at each other and without words, knowingly asked each other, 'what the hell did that mean?' But O'Malley's supports at The Sun were so giddy they immediately deemed him a future Presidential candidate.

There was a lot of talk of O'Malley succeeding Babs Mikulski when she finally retires (please!!!!!) as a United States Senator. I'm afraid to say that I don't think she'll ever leave that position and she'll live to be 130. And you know Pakistani-born Chris Van Hollen, 65 year old Dutch Ruppersburger, and 60 year old Elijah Cummings are thinking, "That's my Senate seat!" I seriously doubt that 70 year old New Yorker Steny Hoyer is electable as a U.S. Senator from Maryland. And being a hard-left-wing state, the next in seniority is Roscoe "P. Coltrain" Bartlett. But he's a Republican. So you can cross him off of the list.

So with a future U.S. Senate seat in doubt, this week Marty 'my daughter got arrested for public intoxication' O'Malley may be giving us glimpses of his future plans. He is on a "trade mission" to boost trade between Maryland and China, South Korea, and Viet Nam. I'm certainly not against him doing this. Everyone knows that Maryland businesses need all the help they can get in this anti-business state. I can't imagine that O'Malley is trying to drum up business for all of the Federal government jobs in this state.

So what do you call a politician who's going around foreign countries trying to boost relationships and economic trade? You call that person a Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton is our current booster of foreign relations. Other famous Secretaries of State are Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Jennings Bryant, John Foster Dulles, Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, and James Baker. Are we going to add Martin O'Malley to that list? God help us.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thank God for Drunk People at Orioles' Games

This is basically a photo montage. I took my son and youngest daughter to the Orioles' game on Wednesday night. We went with my wife's cousin who has season tickets. (Thank you, Kizzie!)

Baseball games can get pretty boring. Thank goodness for drunk people that can help the time go by faster. I took these pictures over a span of about half an hour.

"Yay! We're number 6! And this is my swirly dance!"

"I'm fist-pumping you outfield!"

The Twins....they go like this and like that....

YAY!!! The Twins are only losing by 2 runs now!!!!!

Free bird!!!!!

Hey, Joe Mauer! I'm up here......

Honey, sit down. You're starting to annoy everyone around us.

"When I'm not a drunk Twins fan at an Orioles game, I enjoy Dos Equis."

Who says there's no such thing as a 'Whoo-guy'? Woooo!

Take that Orioles fans!!! The Twins are only losing by one run now!!!! (gotta love his enthusiasm. Or more accurately, gotta love Budweiser's enthusiasm.)

Game over. This is Emimem's brother....Peanut Eminem. "Shut the @#%$*!@ up you drunk Twins fan!!!"

"Yeah! Shut up or I'll come over to your house and play some smooth jazz on my synthesizer!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

William Donald Schaefer: My Take

As you all know, William Donald Schaefer passed away last night. I think by law I'm obliged to eulogize him. So, in my own words, I am going to write about Mr. Schaefer as I remember him and also to respond to other things that I've heard and read about him.

Schaefer, Mayor Schaefer as most of us remember him, was first elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1955. I'm not positive, but I suspect that the Baltimore City Council was as corrupt then as it is now. In 1967 he was elected to Baltimore City Council President, a position proudly held by Martin O'Malley, Sheila Dixon, and Thomas Carcetti.

In 1971 Schaefer was elected to Mayor of Baltimore, all I may add before I was born. The 1960's and 1970's were not nice to Baltimore. Race riots, fires, white flight (or more politically correct - urban flight), the destruction of the middle class (read as the tax base), and the disappearing of businesses that employed the city residents. The business district was in decay, shopping was becoming non-existent, and the Inner Harbor became a rotting cesspool.

Schaefer entered office with the deck stacked against him. But with his charismatic personality and his tough-as-nails attitude, he attacked Baltimore's problems. I remember him saying that if you fill the pot-holes and pick up the trash, people will be happier. Legend has it that he would drive around the city looking for problems and report to the different city agency heads demanding that these problems be fixed. Carcetti did the same thing in The Wire. He used his powers (not sure if eminent domain was used) to redevelop the land around the Inner Harbor and dot it with tourist attractions. First came Harbor Place, then the National Aquarium in Baltimore, then the Science Center. He used the philosophy that 'if you build it, they will come.'

In 1986, Schaefer ran for Governor with Mickey Steinberg and crushed Republican challenger Thomas Mooney. Anyone remember him? Me neither. As Governor, he helped get the ball rolling on building Orioles Park at Camden Yards, the finest baseball park in all of the land. If you think your baseball stadium is cooler, you only think that because Camden Yards paved the way.

In 1999, after a 4 year absense from politics ( Gubernatorial term limits in Maryland - thank God!), Schaefer reemerged in Maryland politics as the State Comptroller. He served for several terms until finally being defeated by current State Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Many people loved the man and remember all of the good things he did for the city and state. However, I did hear one woman on the radio say today that he was the best Mayor, Governor, and Comptroller in the history of the state. He was definitely effective, but best ever?

There have been other great Governors of this state. Do you know of Governors Thomas Johnson, Albert Ritchie, Theodore McKeldin, and Robert Ehrlich? And Mayors? What about Ferdinand Latrobe, Howard Jackson, and Theodore McKeldin (the last Republican Mayor of Baltimore)? And Comptroller. I will flat-out say WRONG! Louis Goldstein was the greatest Comptroller in the history of the state of Maryland. And I met him when I was in elementary school.

Our current village idiot, Martin O'Malley, has been on the campaign circuit for his next position for the last 24 hours posing as a eulogist for our former Governor. When asked what Schaefer's claim to fame would be, he responded, not about his accomplishments in revitalizing Baltimore's Inner Harbor, but that he'd be proud of his willingness to talk to people and let them be heard. Really, Marty? Is that what you want in your epitaph? Shall I start carving that on your gravestone? I didn't think so. O'Malley seems to have a chronic case of diarrhea of the mouth.

And O'Malley, don't try to categorize yourself as a Democrat like Schaefer. Schaefer was a Reagan-Democrat. A moderate. Someone who represented the middle class and the broad spectrum of people that don't fully agree with either Republicans or Democrats. Schaefer endorsed George H.W. Bush (not G.W.).

Schaefer must also be remembered for his blunders. Remember when he called Anne Arundel County Executive 'old Mother Hubbard' when she was running against him as State Comptroller? Or when he said that the Eastern Shore was a shithouse? Remember Eastern Shore farmers clogging up Annapolis and circling the Governor's mansion with out-houses being towed with tractors until he apologized? Or when he said that people with AIDS are dangerous and we need a public registry so we know who has AIDS? And the leering at the butt of an assistant to Robert Ehrlich, asking her to come back and walk away again. Or his referring to women as little girls?

And let's not forget about the 2 blows to Baltimore that happened on his watch. In 1973 the Baltimore Bullets NBA team left for Washington (Landover). Then in 1984, the Baltimore Colts were ripped away from the city, tearing with it a bit of youth of many people my age. This was basically the result of a pissing match between him and Colt's demon Robert Irsay. Bob Irsay 1, Schaefer 0.

Then there was the pissing match between him and former (thank God) Governor Parris Glendening arguably the worst Governor of Maryland up until our current head of state. A fountain was dedicated to Schaefer's longtime partner Hilda Mae Snoops who died when he was in office. Dick, I mean Parris, turned off the fountain declaring that he needed to save water. I can't remember if this was before or after Glendening started having an affair with a woman that was his son's age. But it was definitely after he made gambling as a fund-raiser illegal, after he used it heavily in his effort to raise money as Prince George's County Executive running for Governor. Fortunately, former Governor Robert Ehrlich had more class and turned the fountain on with a nice ceremony.

Finally, one of my friends posted on Facebook "Baltimore is the way it is because of William Donald Schaefer. I wasn't quite sure how to take this. Outside of the revitalized downtown around the Inner Harbor, Baltimore is still plagued with corruption and crime. Baltimore's schools are the laughing stock of the nation and a thorn in the side of tax-payers across the state. Or the lack of an integrated public transportation rail system. I'm not saying that those are his fault, but those are problems that are common themes through the resumes of all of the Mayors of Baltimore.

My fondest memories of Willie Don, as he was affectionately known, was of him wading in one of the fish tanks at the National Aquarium when it opened and getting nasty with people that didn't agree with him. You have to appreciate his politically-incorrect courage to stand up and say what he thought was right and not say what was popular.

As my friend Duckman would say, "Willie Don, rest in peace". But we all know you're up there giving them hell!

What are your memories of William Donald Schaefer?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

50,000 Viewers on Vote No'Malley!!!

Congratulations IP 68.50.233 on Comcast of Silver Spring, Maryland using Firefox on a Windows NT operating system. Your click on on April 15th, 2011 at 11:23:53 pm made you the 50,000th visitor to this most intriguing blog.

I hope my blog satisfied your search for "
when is glory days grill eldersburg md".

For those of you wondering the answer to what should read as, "When will Glory Days Grill in Eldersburg, Maryland open?", the answer is a definite 'I have no idea'. The sign has been on the building for at least a year, perhaps two. Are they waiting for more hungry people to show up? I have no idea.

Westport Lease Controversy

As reported in the anti-business Baltimore Sun, Baltimore officials are basically giving a free lease to developer Patrick Turner to develop a park in Westport. This decision has the dime bags of some corrupt elected city delegates all twisted up.

I used to work in Westport from 1995 until 1997. At the time this crime-ridden ghetto in South Baltimore contained several businesses on Kloman Street - the Westport Power Plant owned by BGE, Carr-Lowrey Glass Company, and another manufacturer whose name escapes me. All three are gone now. While I worked at Carr-Lowrey the company employed about 800 people, mostly folks from the surrounding areas.

Oh, the stories from those 2 years. One day I came to work and about 10 police cars followed me through the electronically controlled 12 foot barbed-wire gates. There was a floater in the water. By floater I mean dead body. The police thought that was funny because they suspected it was a homeless man. I recall driving home from work through the extremely dangerous neighborhood of Westport to see foot chases of police chasing drug dealers, assaulters, and murderers. The broken glass, needles, barbed wire surrounding the plants, stolen hubcaps. A friend's husband delivered mail to that neighborhood. On Social Security check day kids and crack-addict mothers would chase down the postal employees looking for their check. Got to hurry up and get their taste! It was great! Those were the days.

I was laid off in 1997 much to my delight and the factory closed several years later. The firm couldn't compete with the likes of Saint Gobain in France, Rocco Bormioli in Italy, and Wheaton Glass in the foreign country of New Jersey. Then the factory lay in waste for several years. Finally someone tore everything down and instead of a factory laying in waste, it is now a field of gravel laying in waste.

Patrick Turner has plans to develop the area into a multi-use site, with office and residential space. This would be occupied by businesses and residents that would pay taxes. In addition to purchasing this space, the city is now leasing some joined land for no money. In return Turner will clean up the space and make it a park and incorporate a bike trail over a derelict bridge across the upper part of the Middle Branch River. The Westport Association has even endorsed this plan. But not the vocal ballot seekers.

Baltimore City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway of the notoriously corrupt Conaway family, has voiced criticism of the plan, demanding the Turner pay property taxes to the bankrupt money-sucking city. I heard that the Conaway family is notorious for running with convicted drug dealers, not living in the districts in which they serve, and one of them has even been accused of being mentally ill in a child custody battle.

Also entering the war of words is 12th District Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes, who along with Lawrence Bell fought like idiots in the 1999 mayoral race to the point that Martin O'Malley decided to sit there with his mouth and ended up winning. And now look what we're stuck with.

So why are Stokes and Conaway firing such harsh criticism at Turner? The obvious answer is class-warfare. In a city of poor people, it's easy to attack the wealthy people. It's the fault of hard working rich people that so many in Baltimore are crack-addict criminals. If we could just take the money from the rich people everything would be okay. In the end the only thing that really matters to these politicians is getting reelected. They honestly don't give a rat's butt about the districts they serve. They couldn't give a dime bag for Westport. The area has been blighted for decades. And now they want to stop some progress? For what cause?

Let's put some perspective on this. How much money is Baltimore City currently collecting in property taxes for this land? If the city owns it, then the answer is $0. Nothing. Zilch. A developer is going to come in and spend his own money to clean it up, something that Baltimore City has FAILED to do. He will then convert the area into a park in which Baltimore City residents can use. What has Baltimore City's government done with the area? Nothing. They let the drug dealers and the garbage dumpers take over the sight and make it a burning eyesore. This is an area in which you'd expect episodes of The Wire to be filmed. This is where you'd expect to find dead bodies.

So does it really make sense to demand that he pay property taxes on property that he is going to improve FOR the city? Instead, Patrick Turner could tell the Baltimore City Council to go back to beating their wives and children and stick it.

In that end, Baltimore's choices are to keep their toxic dump with no park and no tax revenue OR get a people-friendly park and no tax revenue. But in the eyes of Baltimore City government, it seems that two dead birds in the bush are better than a live bird in the hand.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eldersburg: Robbed Again

You move to the suburbs, or maybe more accurately, the exburbs or suburbs of the suburbs, and you'd think you're moving away from the crime. If you live in Eldersburg, you know exactly what I'm talking about. And this is not the case.

On Wednesday night \ Thursday morning, some hoodlums from who knows where (Randallstown) went through the neighborhood of Quail Meadow and did the old door handle check. If the car is unlocked, the door will open and the guests will grab everything they can, basically relieving the vehicle owner of electronic clutter. This wouldn't be the first time it's happened in this neighborhood. Heck, it wouldn't be the 2nd or 3rd or 4th.

As reported in the Eldersburg Patch, the neighborhood was robbed between 2:30 am and 4am. A neighbor noticed a vehicle roaming the street and several parked cars had their dome lights on. This neighbor then called the police. Maryland State Police then spotted a vehicle that matched the description sitting in the parking lot of the McDonald's on Liberty Road. Inside the car were 4 "suspects", pot, GPS systems, iPods, and such.

Fortunately, most criminals are stupid. Hopefully these clowns will get locked up for this, but I doubt it. It would harm their potential to be a productive member of society.

So remember - lock your cars at night, even when you live in a good neighborhood. You WILL have visitors from other areas.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When Your Credit Union Wants to Be Your Bank

How do you know when your credit union wants to be your bank? When they start to suck.

I have been "banking" with Har-Co Credit Union in Harford County since the first semester of my freshman year at Harford Community College (way back in the olden days). Previously I was at Equitable Bank, which got bought by Maryland National Bank, which spun off MBNA when it got into financial trouble, then spiralled out of control until NationsBank bought them. At that point I had had enough. Off to the credit union I went.

The credit union was nice. No fees on ATM withdrawals, interest on my checking and savings, free checks. Then Bill Clinton became President. I'm not sure that he caused the change, but I can't think of anyone else to blame so it might as well be him.

Dropped from Har-Co's amenities were interest on checking and free checks. They even spun it as if it were a good thins. "Interest-free checking!" Yay! I get to lend you my money and you give me nothing in return! What a great deal! Then Har-Co initiated an account restructuring, basically a caste system amongst is members. If you were poor, you got cut from the free services. If you were rich, you paid a $12 per month charge and got checks for free, which cost me $24 per year. So instead of paying $144 per year in charges and getting checks for free, I decided to pay $24 per year for checks. I even asked one of their call center representatives to make sure I understood that correctly. She paused and said my analysis was correct. I think she was pissed that I figured it out.

However, one feature that I did like was for overdraft protection. They would move money from savings to cover checks that were trying to clear your checking account when you didn't have sufficient funds in that account. However, when this happens they charge you $5.00. In addition to this feature, you could also have Har-Co send you alert messages when your balance went below a certain threshold. I chose $500. Whenever my balance went below $500 in checking, an email would be sent to me.

Yesterday I got one of those emails. I quickly logged on to my account and much to my surprise my account was plastered with $5 transfer fees. Apparently I had 3 transactions processed on my account when there were insufficient funds in checking. Now, nearly all of my bill-paying is done with electronic transactions. They must know that these transactions are queued up. So I'm pretty sure within a matter of 1.8 seconds all 3 transactions were processed and the cumulative $15 in fees were posted. Couldn't they sum the outstanding transactions and move sufficient funds at once? Seriously - $15 is more than the cumulative interest I'd earn on my savings account over the next 5 years. (do you really need to advertise that you offer annual 0.1% interest on your savings accounts?)

Furthermore, these transactions occurred on the previous day. So the email alert that I had less than $500 in checking was useless. Basically it says, "Hi, you had insufficient funds in your account yesterday and if you log on to your account you'll see all of your penalty charges. ha-ha! Have a nice day."

I called customer service and requested that 2 of the 3 $5 fees be waived. I think one penalty was fair. All 3? Not really. Unfortunately, I was basically told that I'm an idiot and that the transactions are handled by a company called PFM (Personal Financial Management) and this company has no interest in maintaining good customer relations. If you get a fee, it's you're own damn fault.

I know what you're thinking. If I had my account in one of those nasty banks headquartered in Pittsburgh or Charlotte, I would have had several hundred dollars in fees and penalties. Bank of America most likely would have foreclosed on my mortgage, even though they do not hold my mortgage. PNC would have repossessed my car.

The best part of this is that Har-Co has recently requested permission to convert from a credit you union to a savings bank. They claim that it will allow them to better serve their customers. We all know this is a bunch of crap. It's a shallow attempt at generating more revenue with higher fees, stricter requirements, and less customer service, in addition to less friendly customer service. So while I'm complaining now, I can only expect this to get worse.

Perhaps I should investigate moving my money to the Bank of Coffee Can.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How My Trip to Kohl's Could Save the U.S. $50 Billion

I had one of those moments when I was driving to Kohl's today to get some pants. But before that, I want you to know that I had to go to Kohl's to get pants because at American Amalgamated Corrugated Conglomerates of America, some important people are coming in tomorrow and we're required to wear long-sleeve shirts, dress pants, and a tie. Women are required to wear a dress and hose or a Hillary Clinton's favorite - a pants-suit. I know this is going to present some problems. Imagine the liability if I get my tie stuck in the corrugator. Or the conglomerator, for that matter. Bad news!

So anyway, most of my pants are casual. And they're getting old. I have some dress pants, but since my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and people started bringing us meals, I've packed on the pounds. I think I'm probably 15 pounds heavier than I was in September. So I don't have any pants to wear that actually fit my fah-tass. So in my small way I spurred some economic activity - especially in Columbia, South America where the pants were made. By the way, I had a 30% discount coupon. O'Malley - I paid less sales tax because of that coupon. Ha-Ha!!

Back to my point. While driving to Kohl's I was listening to Obama give his economic speech today where he talked about how awesome he is. I knew he was giving this speech today and many naysayers were saying nay. I mean they were saying that they expected Obama to announce a plan for massive tax increases on the wealthy (translate this to mean anyone who has a job). These massive tax increases would be needed to reduce our deficit and to provide social programs for people that just don't want to work, God bless them (thank you, Ned Flanders).

Obama then mentioned that people want him to stop foreign aid altogether. He pointed out, however, that foreign aid is only 1% of the federal budget, so therefore it's not a problem. I got to wondering, what is the federal budget? One percent could be a lot of money. Then I thought, since we spend more than we receive in tax revenue, we have to borrow money from communist China to make up the difference. We then pay interest on the money that communist China lends to us. So basically we are borrowing money at interest to give it away to Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, etc... Aren't there some fast-talkers in D.C. that could convince China to give this money directly to the recipients and cut us out as the middleman? Imagine how much money we would save in interest payments!

Last year the United States gave away $50 Billion in 'will you be my friend' money. I know my fraternity brothers didn't spend nearly that amount and we had plenty of friends. In the grand scheme of things, $50 billion is a relatively small portion of the money that the Federal government spends, but over time a few billion here, a few billion there, we could really start saving some real money.

Here are the federal debt numbers. The 2010 federal budget was $3.552 TRILLION. That is how much money the United States spent. In 2010, the government considered it had $2.831 TRILLION in revenue. That means we had a deficit of $1.171 TRILLION. Therefore we had to borrow $1.171 TRILLION to cover the expenses that we could not cover with tax revenue. If my math is correct, then thirty-three percent (33%) of all the money the Federal government spends is borrowed money. Do you have a problem with this? I think I do.

Moreover, our Federal Debt - the amount of money we currently owe people (mostly the commies in China), is $14 TRILLION. Congress, mostly liberal Democrats, are demanding that we increase the Federal debt ceiling so that we can borrow more money (from communist China). Think of this - if the United States just paid the principal on the money it owes, it would take 7 years based on current revenues to pay it off if 100% of the collected revenue was applied to the debt. This is insane. And it doesn't take into consideration the interest.

Who knew that driving to Kohl's could spur such economic thought?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Fallacy of In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants

I heard Lieutenant Governor Tony Brown on WBAL radio today talking about how wonderful it is that Maryland has all of these illegal immigrants and that our state is embracing illegal immigration with some new laws that are being passed.

As you probably know, Maryland State Senator Victor Ramirez (Democrat - Prince George's County) has been sponsoring legislation helping illegal immigrants for years. If I am not mistaken, this is the 2nd year that a bill is being pushed that would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition to attend Maryland colleges, thus making is less likely that legal Maryland residents can get into college

Didn't Martin O'Malley run on a platform to increase college education opportunities for Maryland residents? Wouldn't admitting illegal immigrants take up spots that would otherwise go to legal Maryland residents? You have a pie. You can only cut it up but so much. Someone is getting left out with this legislation. Is it your child?

Liberal Maryland legislators continue to call these people undocumented individuals. I will continue to call them illegal immigrants. The current state of the bill would allow these illegal immigrants who have graduated from a Maryland high school to attend 2 year community colleges in Maryland and pay in-state tuition. Arguments for the cause say that we should not be punishing the children of criminals because of the illegal choices these criminals have made. Fair enough, except that these people shouldn't be in this country to start. Now we are providing conflicted laws that reward illegal immigrants for being here illegally. Are you following me?

To top it off, Tony Brown said today that Maryland needs an educated workforce and it makes sense for us to provide the opportunities for these illegal immigrants to get a college education so that illegal immigrants can make a contribution to our economy and keep Maryland moving forward. However, as an employer in Maryland, you KNOW that it is ILLEGAL to hire ILLEGAL immigrants. How is this legislation going to help them? Educated or not, illegal immigrants are not legally allowed to work in this country. And if you are an employer and you are caught hiring illegal immigrants, you face big fines. Would Maryland employers intentionally put themselves in this situation?

There are also some stipulations that the parents have to file taxes. Let's think about this - if you are an illegal immigrant and you are living here illegally, are you going to file taxes with the government to let them know you're here? Duh! (Thank you, Charlie Sheen) If any Maryland legislator honestly thinks that illegal immigrants are filing taxes and paying them, they are idiots.

The constant flow of pro-illegal immigration legislation is enabling the people that are the illegal immigrants. We're not doing anything to address the problem. We're giving more illegal immigrants a reason to come here. Eventually, more and more of your tax dollars will be going to support illegal immigrants in Maryland to provide services, such as healthcare, education, and social security, rather than having this money go to deserving LEGAL citizens of Maryland. How do you feel knowing that your benefits are being decreased so that the money can be used to support illegal immigrants?

And I think it goes without saying that we will need massive tax increases as the current structure cannot support the massive influx of illegal immigrants. Martin O'Malley continues to spin the rhetoric with this one. The massive annual tax increases on the middle class are called, "making sacrifices" and "we are all working together" and "we must all share the responsibility" and "making tough choices". What a bunch of crap!

Living in Maryland, it seems like the easy choice for Maryland legislators is raising taxes. The tough choice would actually be to lower taxes and stop this wasteful spending. But that's never going to happen in this state.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Port to Fort 6K - Believe in Tomorrow!

Sunday was the 15th annual Port to Fort race benefiting the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation. This was my first time running this race. But it was easily my favorite!

As I previously mentioned, after my daughter started her treatment for leukemia, we were approached by the social worker at University of Maryland hospital and were told that we were referred to several foundations that could offer support to us. Believe in Tomorrow was one of them. They provide hospital and respite housing for families with critically ill children. As we've befriended families in our position we've heard wonderful stories about this foundation. In February we became one of the beneficiaries of their services. When we returned my wife and I knew that we needed to find a cause and get behind it - and Believe in Tomorrow was the one for us.

We quickly learned about the Port to Fort 6K and our friend Jen signed up a team for us. Little did she know what she was getting into. Our initial goal was to get a bunch of friends to run\walk with us and maybe raise $500. We hit $500 within a couple of days. Okay, maybe $1,000. I mentioned it on Facebook to see if any of my friends there could help. Then I started asking coworkers if they'd like to get involved. Then they asked their friends. And then our Church got involved. The next thing you know we have 115 team members and we've raised over $14,000 and counting. We raised so much money that they're still counting it! As of right now the matching donations have not been added and I'm pretty sure those are another $1,000.

On Sunday (Race day!) we got up early and were anxious with anticipation. Got to get the race! Can't be late! We got down there about 7:45. Our friend Jen was already there with her van door open and she was handing out bibs and t-shirts. Our friends, coworkers, family, and some strangers started gathering to collect their goods. One friend from the gym arrived and we told him to go get his stuff from the back of the van. He said, "Wouldn't be the first time I got something out of the back of a van!" Hysterical!

Finally we had nearly everyone right there (sorry Charm City Kim & family, Donut, Maggie, K & L), so we took a big team photo. It was awesome. There was a sea of purple (our team color - Payton's favorite color). A friend from Church made team shirts, and nearly everyone was wearing one.

The race finally got started, but it was a good couple of minutes before we got going because of the thousands of people there. Many races are chip races, which means you wear a chip and your time doesn't start until you step over the electronic starting line. This was not a chip race. Your time started when the gun was fired. I know what you're thinking - South Baltimore - lots of guns. I'm referring to the official race gun.

Anyway, it took several more minutes to get through the crowd to the point where we were running comfortably. I was running with my older daughter, 2 of her friends, and one of her friend's sister. So me, three 11 year-olds, and a 15 year old. They did well! We ran a good mile and a half before we had to walk a bit. We made the loop, got down to Fort McHenry, circled around and headed back for the finish line.
At this point the crowd is definitely getting separated. My daughter wanted to run it out. I needed to keep her in sight - after all we are in South Baltimore. The other 2 girls wanted to keep walking. I don't blame them - they are only 11 and it's almost 4 miles. Finally we see the end and we sprint to the finish line. About 45 minutes. Not our best time, but there were some things to consider as mentioned:

1) we probably started 2 minutes after the race began.
2) we had to scramble though the masses of walkers (why are the walkers not separated from the runners?)
3) I had to maintain the pace of our slowest runner.So all in all, not a terrible time.

After the race we're served some awesome hot dogs, potato chips, water and pasta, oh, and bananas. My friend Donut happened to get a donut. I never saw any, so I think she ate them all. You'd never know it though - she's skinny.

After a while the last of the walkers finished and the awards show begins. Let me tell you, Team Payton swept the awards show.

1) Largest Team - 115 members
2) Most money raised by a single team - +$13,000 and counting
3) Most money raised by a individual - me! +$4,500
4) My wife's cousin won 2nd place in his division in the race (24 minutes)

We are so happy of our accomplishment and thank all of our friends and family and friends of friends, and co-workers who I barely know but asked anyway and who were more than happy to help - THANK YOU

Thank you to my friend MD Duckman for being the official team photographer. You're pictures are awesome!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Captain Jen for keeping this altogether. You did a great job!

So Monday - the day after. I'm tired. Sore. I bet a lot of members of Team Payton feel the same. But you should all be very proud of what you've done. And I think I spent nearly half of my day sharing stories and pictures with everyone. Such a positive experience. Furthermore, I think I gained another 10 friends on Facebook!

So, everyone - are you ready for next year?!!!

I was going to wrap it up, but I have one little criticism. A friend overheard someone (a manager?) at the Falls Road Runnig Store criticizing an employee for allowing strollers in this race. This person said, "N-O! No more!" Seriously? A race to benefit an foundation that helps children? And no strollers are allowed? You really want children with cancer to walk the 6 kilometers? Or do you not want them there at all? You should be ashamed of yourself for saying that and apologize to the community at-large for such a narrow-minded view of the race. Sometimes it's not about the race! (I'm done!)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Blockbuster Express Comes to Eldersburg

I think this is the nail in the coffin for the brick-and-mortar Blockbuster located in the derilict Carrolltown Center Mall. I was at Food Lion today to buy overpriced milk and stand in a line that's way too long when I noticed this Blockbuster Express machine outside.

This will be competing directly with the Red Box, which incidentally was recently removed from the Hey-Y'all Wal-Mart. I think the only ones left are in Shoppers and McDonald's.

I drive by the Blockbuster at the mall all the time and I never see more than 3 cars in the parking lot. I can't imagine how that location is staying business, especially with the competition of said Red Box, and also Netflix and streaming movies on Comcast and FiOS. But perhaps Blockbuster has a golden lease like K-Mart. Who knows???

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dr. Nancy Grasmick Comes To Eldersburg

Oklahoma Road Middle School was recently received the distinguished honor of being named a Blue Ribbon School in the state of Maryland. This is a great honor as there were only 6 schools in the entire state that received honor this year.

I received word that Dr. Nancy Grasmick, the State Schools Superintendent, was coming to the school to congratulate the school. I decided to "work from home" for the early part of the day, then venture over to the school to snap a few pictures and hear what she has to say.

I arrived early enough to get a seat in the bleachers, which would allow me to get a picture of her. Had I gotten there a little bit later I would have been sitting behind the middle school students and I would not have been able to see over their heads. Yes, most middle school students are taller than me now.

She's totally looking at me in this picture isn't she?

Dr. Grasmick was led into the school from behind me in her little delegation of dignitaries. She then walked down the center aisle of the gym up to the podium. Also in the delegation were current Carroll County Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie, School Board President Jennifer Seidel, School Board member Gary Bauer, School Board member Virginia Harrison, Carroll County Director of Middle Schools Barry Gelsinger, and Executive Director for Partnerships and for the Maryland State Department of Eduation Darla Strouse.

After some preliminaries from the delegation, a video presentation, and some kind words from Principal Hood, Dr. Grasmick got up and gave her short speech. There are 735(?) students at Oklahoma Road Middle School (ORMS). Did you know that 135 students at ORMS have straight A's this year? I bet there are not 135 students in Baltimore City that have straight A's. But all in all it was a nice presentation.

I only have 2 criticisms - Dr. Grasmick talks like a Kindergarten teacher. Every word is slow and deliberate and nurturing. That is perfect for 5 year olds. Perhaps not so much for adults and 11-14 year olds.

My other criticism is the video presentation by the school. The person that created the presentation was not a grammar specialist. And there were plenty of missing words. Check it twice dude. You'll eliminate most errors by rereading your work.

Here is Carroll County Public School Superintendent Stephen Guthrie. He's a very charismatic man. I could see him moving up in the chain of command:

My pictures are not that great. I was using my longer lens, but it certainly wasn't the 15-30,000mm that I want to get. It was the 55-200. It'll have to do.

I was hoping they'd have a question and answer session and I'd get to ask Dr. Grasmick if she's retiring on her own free will or if Martin O'Malley took her into the back alley (the same one that we suspect O'Malley took Doug Duncan into when O'Malley ran against him for his first run at Governor) and made her an offer she couldn't refuse.

Everyone who follows Maryland politics knows that Marty and do not get along. I think it is because she doesn't play politics and didn't want to blow sunshine up his sphincter, which basically makes her a thorn in his Irish side. There was even a rumor that she was going to be a running mate of Bob Ehrlich when he was running either the 2nd or 3rd time.

So while Dr. Grasmick is considering this her "Tour of Excellence", I think we can also call this her farewell tour. I wonder if the next State Schools Superintendent will actually care as much about education rather than making the Liberal Governor look good. I somehow doubt it.

Carrolltown Carnival!!!

While dropping my son off at Carrolltowne Elementary School I noticed that the parking lot at the fabulous and world-famous Carrolltown Center Mall was packed with vehicles. A splits-second closer inspection revealed that the vehicles were all carnival trucks. The Carnies are in town!!!

A couple of thoughts came to mind. First, why would they be having a carnival in April? It is still about 45 degrees at night, sometimes even in the 30's still. I can't imagine getting on the Hurl-a-Whirl when it's that cold.

The second thought that crossed my mind was - what a fantastic use of a parking lot of a nearly abandoned mall! I mean - it's not like Black Oak Associates, the owner of the Carrolltown Center Mall, needs the parking spots for customers. They need about 10 spots per day in front of K-Mart and probably about 20 spots in front of Big Lots (Big T's). Other than that, it's just a lot of cracked asphalt surface.

We all know that K-Mart has some kind of golden lease with that mall, which is the reason no one can get them out of the mall in order to improve it (which seems to imply that Sears\K-Mart endorses ghetto malls). I speculate that the carnival will pay some sort of lease to Black Oak for use of the empty parking lot. This should increase the revenue generated by the mall for April many times over. All speculation, of course.

While driving to the bank today I also noticed the sign litter all around town. Do you think they'll clean up this crap when they leave?

So bundle up, bring your hand sanitizer, lock your cars, leave your valuables at home, and come join your fellow neighbors at the Carrolltown Carnival!!!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Grilled Cheese & Company - Almost Done

I swung by Johnsville Station (while singing Smokin' in the Boys' Room) this morning. I noticed that the sign for the Grilled Cheese & Company was up, thus signifying that the restaurant will be open soon. It's up on the marquee, too (and the sign for The Scoop is now gone). Haven't seen an opening date anywhere. There was plenty of stuff all over the floor, so it doesn't seem like it's opening this week. But soon. Unless, or course, if the O'Malley administration can find some more ways to tax small businesses and drive them out of the state.

New in Eldersburg: Lexie's

Lexie's Frozen Yogurt
1311 Londontown Blvd
Sykesville, MD 21784
(410) 795-6962

After my 6 kilometer practice run this afternoon I had to return a Wii game to Game Stop. My daughter received 2 of them. While there, my daughter and her friend asked if they could get something somewhere. This is getting to be a standard question after we run. "Can we go to Rita's?" "Can we go to Qdoba?" "Can we go to Twin Kiss?"

This time since we were in the Londontowne Square (where the Safeway is), I asked the girls if they wanted to try out Lexie's, some new ice cream type place. Of course they agreed. It was almost a rhetorical question.

When we entered we were nearly assaulted by the super friendly staff asking if we had ever been there before. We admitted we were Lexie virgins. The described how you get a cup and take whatever frozen yogurts you wanted (you can mix as many as you want), then add toppings. They charge by the ounce. I think it was 48¢ per ounce. The toppings are cereals, dried fruits, nuts, marshmallows, chocolate chips, fresh fruits, and more.

For 2 frozen yogurts I paid about $5. Not too bad. The girls really liked it, and that's what matters most. And since we just got done running, I figured it probably wasn't appropriate to get one myself, though I will admit I did get a taste. Yummy. Check them out. They're located next to 5 Guys!

Training for the Port to Fort 6K

I've mentioned several times that my daughter and I have been training for the Port to Fort 6K to benefit the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation. We've run 3 times up at Liberty High School. Twice we've run with her friend, and once we ran with my donut-lovin' friend who loves donuts.

A 6K is 15 laps around the track. That's 3 3/4 miles. My first two times were 38 minutes and 40 minutes. Today I ran it in 34:54. I think that's an awesome improvement. What was different this time? I took 4 Advil about an hour before I ran. However, I think I need four more now. My feet are throbbing.

The race is next Sunday, so I think I'll be as ready as I can be. I'd like to keep running through the summer. I've gained way too much weight in the last couple of years.

To date we've raised $11,670!!! If you're still thinking about donating to Team Payton, please do so with this link:

Donate to Team Payton

I see that Martin O'Malley STILL has not made a donation to our team. Governor - I'm reaching out to you. Would you please make a donation to our team? I'd hate to tell my daughter with leukemia that our Democratic Governor didn't donate to her. Does he hate children with cancer???

Jeff Barnes - Losing Their Wheels

I read in the Carroll County Times last week that Jeff Barnes Chevrolet in Eldersburg was robbed. The thieves got away with $35,000 worth of wheels from Chevy Tahoe's and Cadillac Escalades. The joke at work was it was done by either some clowns from Randallstown (like most of the crimes committed in Eldersburg) or it was done by Bodie and Wee-Bay.

I suspect that it was an inside job. Does anyone who works at Jeff Barnes live in Randallstown?

I swung by this morning on my way to Martin's to get groceries and wouldn't you know it....there are still vehicles without wheels. Check it out...

Friday, April 01, 2011

A Night with the Circus

We received a call from the Starlight Children's Foundation saying that we could go to the opening night of the Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey Circus at the fabulous Baltimore First Mariner Arena. I was excited because I hadn't been to the RB&BB Circus since I was a wee lad. Some may say that I'm still a wee lad, but that's a different discussion.

We arrived at the arena around 6:15 and were looking for a lady named Farrah. We finally found a girl with a Starlight shirt on. She was a pretty girl who couldn't have been more than 24. She hooked us up with clown noses, clown hair wigs, vouchers for hot dogs, chips, and soda, and most importantly - 5 tickets to the circus.

The bag check and ticket line was it's own circus. People were pushing and shoving their way to the front. Then I heard an old man pushing his way through, but he pushed off to the left and down the hall. It was WBAL's Rob Roblin.

Rob Roblin:

We finally made it into the bowl of the fabulous Baltimore Arena. Our seats were in the corner, a bit out of the way, but that was okay. Since it was the opening night, they allowed all obnoxious and rude parents to bring their whiny bratty children onto the floor to meet some of the performers and observer some demonstrations. Since we fit into neither of those categories, we decided to watch it from a far.

The circus finally started and my daughter was super excited. She hollered out, "What, is this a party or something?" She climbed up on my lap for a better view and had a smile that wouldn't quit.

She finally got tired of having her hat on her head and pulled it off. I think her bald head caught many people by surprise. But she doesn't care. When she lost her hair she asked, "I don't have to wash my hair anymore, do I?" She was very excited about that.

During the intermission Farrah returned to give out the remaining vouchers, ask if we were having fun, and take pictures of the families.

Though we don't agree with keeping elephants in cages the size of Subarus, we were excited to see them. We also got to see tigers, acrobats, clowns, and motorcyclists in a cage, which was actually really fascinating.

All in all we had an excellent time. Starlight Children's Foundation - thank you so much for the opportunity to see the circus!

2011 South Carroll Business Expo Review

I know it's been a week, but I haven't had time to write this week. My daughter with leukemia is all jacked up on steroids and is going a mile a minute and demanding 100% of our attention. She's still like that right now, so it's sort of 'Lord of the Flies' around the Eludius house tonight. She did lose all of her hair last week, which is sad, but certainly not unexpected. She stays up until 2 or 3 in the morning making demands for Diego, Dora, fried chicken, spaghetti (buh-sketti), and chocolate milk. Then she's up early in the morning and ready for another round. Needless to say, my wife and I are physcially and mentally exhausted. But enough about that!

Last Saturday was the annual South Carroll Business Association's Expo. Normally the event is held at Liberty High School, but this year the event was held the Century High School. A friend of mine is very active in SCBA, so I decided to check out the work that he did.

The event had local businesses who were offering samples of their wares, free stuff, offers to open accounts at their company, and plenty of raffles. Of course I signed up for every raffle. And I was polite and pretended that I was interested in opening a bank account at every bank in Eldersburg.

I ran into some people I know, which pretty much happens to anyone who's lived in Eldersburg more than 5 years. I took home several bags of pencils, pens, magnets, and bank account applications. I did make a bid on a framed and matted hockey photo of Cindy Crosby and Alex Ovechkin in the silent auction.

Next day I got a call that I was the winner of the hockey photo. Very exciting! Sad, however, because I was the first bidder. It is now proudly hung over my bed. In my defense, I did ask my wife where I should hang it and she said she didn't care. I then got another call that I won a $25 gift card to Qdoba from the Carroll County Times. And finally, I was informed that I won something from J Marie's Salon. Though I'm nearly bald, I'm thinking of getting some highlights and a perm.

So all in all not a bad day! I think it would be a little better if it was on a Saturday prior to when softball, lacrosse, and baseball starts. I know the fields around town were full of kids and parents. If the event was even 3 weeks sooner the turnout could have been a little higher. I'll definitely be there again next year.
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