Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Day With Wish-A-Fish

We've all heard of Make-A-Wish, but have you heard of Wish-A-Fish?  Wish-A-Fish is an organization that provides an annual fishing excursion to families with special needs or critical ill children.  What a great idea!

I first learned about Wish-A-Fish from a coworker at American Amalgamated Corrugated Conglomerates of America.  He got involved about 5 years ago.  Little did I know that our family would end up being a participating family in the annual event.

The event is local to Maryland and Virginia.  There are two events in Maryland, one at Sandy Point Park and the other in Ocean City.  We're not making it to Ocean City this year (booo!), (did I mention that our Make-A-Wish trip got postponed because of my complications with my daughter's illness?  Hopefully later this year.  But, nonetheless, no summer beach vacation this year), so we were at the Sandy Point Park location.

I have never been to Sandy Point Park.  I've certainly seen it a lot - every time we cross over the Bay Bridge.  It was really nice.  I regret that we haven't been there before.  Mrs. Eludius was hesitant about going today.  It poured down rain all night and there was a 150% chance of heavy rain and thunderstorms all afternoon.  My son, on the other hand, was so anxious that he could barely sleep last night.  He was up and down all night and ended up waking at like 5am and took a shower, despite the fact that we weren't leaving until about 8am.  I think he's asleep now.

Despite the rain, we departed and headed to Annapolis.  It rained.  And rained.  And RAINED the whole way there.  This isn't good.  We crossed the Severn River Bridge and another mile or so and STOP.  Oh, is this the Bay Bridge traffic that they talk about?  We jumped off at the next exit to the road that parallels U.S. 50/301.  I think this 1 mile detour knocked 30 minutes off of our time.

We pulled into SPP (that's local lingo for Sandy Point Park) and there weren't too many people there.  Once we arrived, we quickly got through paperwork, life jackets, and a fine selection of snacks to take with us.  We then met our captain and his first mate.  I never caught the name of their boat, but it was a center console fishing boat, probably about 20-some feet long.  Perfect for bay fishing.  We boarded and slowly pulled out of the marina.

It was amazing as we pulled out and paralleled the Bay Bridge.  It (the bridge) doesn't look as big when your on the water looking up.  Honestly.  There are 2 spans, one with 2 lanes and one with 3 lanes.  I thought it would look a lot bigger.  Traffic was heavy in both directions and I think we were moving faster than them.  As we pulled out you could see the change in the water.  Beyond the jetty, it went from moving water to a good choppy water.  Next thing you know the boat is jumping up and down.  I was a little worried since my youngest is sitting in the back in a wheel chair.  She didn't seem to care too much.  Rain falling on our heads, all for fun.

We pulled up to the 9th pylon, so it wasn't too far out into the bay.  The captain said he'd take us out farther into the bay if it stopped raining.  Ha!  Stopped raining.  In hindsight, that's funny.  He dropped anchor between the two spans of the bridge, then backed it under the eastbound span.  It was just like backing up a truck.  We got under the span so that the rain wouldn't be directly on us.  The tide was a heavy southward tide, so there wasn't much tacking to the left or right.

Once we were in position, we baited the hooks and dropped them in the water.  I don't think my son had his line in the water 1 minute when he pulled up a croaker.  It's a pretty fish - sort of a gold and purplish tint to them.  And they croak!  Imagine that.  Next thing you know we were all pulling in croakers.  Add that to my list of fish that I've caught in my life (green sunfish, red ear sunfish, pumpkin-seed fish, yellow perch, dolphin fish, black sea bass, flounder, striped bass, crappy, large mouth bass, and yellow perch.  My son has also caught hog suckers, small mouth bass, blue fish, and white perch.)

My son then caught a spot fish.  Dag, he's another fish ahead of me.  Then I caught a spot.  Then I caught a striped bass (about 9 inches long).  I ended up catching about 13 fish (mostly croaker).  My son caught about 20 fish.  My wife caught 5, my oldest daughter about 5, and my youngest daughter 4.  After about three hours, my youngest was done, so that dictated our fate for the day.

We headed back to the park and it was lunch time.  The lunch was catered compliments of Window's Catering.  The lunch fare was your standard burgers, dogs, vegetarian chili, and salad.  All very good.  But there were two cakes - a chocolate cake and a raspberry yellow cake - and they were awesome!!!  I wanted to eat more, but diet diet diet.

It continued to rain all through lunch.  I think it rained about 25" today.  Drought?  What drought?

All in all it was a great day.  Thank you to our captain and his mate, for donating his time and gas and bait and boat, and to all of the volunteers at Wish-A-Fish and to the Window's Catering Company.  A rainy day fishing is better than a good day not fishing, right?  Well, that's what my son tells me.

(You'll notice that there are no pictures.  I'm not pulling out my Nikon D40 in the rain.  Sorry.)

Oh, and driving home, I think the back-up to the bridge was about 12 miles.  I just remembered why when we go to the beach, we leave at 5am.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Closing in Eldersburg - Jerry's Subs & Pizza

While getting my haircut at Sports Clips recently, the barber informed me that Jerry's Subs & Pizza is closing.  Honestly, I thought it had already closed.  Doesn't it seem to be closed every few months, only to reopen under new management?  A sign of an unsuccessful store is when it is closed a lot.

With Quiznos gone, I guess this leaves Frank's Subs and Pizza and Subway as the only sub places in Eldersburg.  I think another nail salon would do well here.  We only have 12 of those in Eldersburg.

Gone from Eldersburg - His Way Christian Booksellers

Can you tell I was at Freedom Village lately?  I needed a haircut and my usual connection had other obligations, and my hair couldn't wait any longer, so I made it to the new Sports Clips place, which has been there about 9 months.  It's in the space previously occupied by the Fast Frame.  But I digress.

It appears that the His Way Christian Booksellers store has closed.  Clues that point at this conclusion in include the missing sign and the empty space.  I never went to this store, but figure that this should be a successful business in God-loving Carroll County.  But I guess in this bad economy that Obama inherited from George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, and which Martin O'Malley inherited from Bob Ehrlich, even God is suffering.

Perhaps they could put a Costco and a Target in its place.

New to Eldersburg - Freedom Dental Care

Looks like the old Wine Country in Freedom Village in Eldersburg finally got a new tenant - Freedom Dental  Care.  Personally, I'd rather see another liquor store.  But I guess there may be a need for dental care, as well.  The only problem with this place - you have to get through all of the cars parked in the fire lane.  These are the cars of the parents on their cellphones who are picking up their kids at Celebree.

So, Mr. Carroll County Fire Marshall, if you're reading this, you can make a lot of money giving tickets to all the people there parking in the fire lanes.  That'd be a lot of revenue you could use.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Maryland - We Own That!

Martin O'Malley has been in the news a lot lately running around the state whining to elected state officials to get on his side and build more failing casinos.  He says more failing casinos will help raise tax dollars to fund his out-of-control spending.  This past week he met with the two beers of the General Assembly, Busch and Miller.  O'Malley wants to plop a new casino in what I believe is Miller's back yard.  It's his hope that perhaps this casino will help generate new revenue for the state, since the others aren't working out as expected.  Rocky Gap anyone?

I got to thinking.  There are a lot of government-owned entities in this state, either by the City of Baltimore or the State of Maryland.  Maryland owns several casinos now.  The state of Maryland.  The government of Maryland.  Not private businesses, but the government.  The casinos include Ocean Downs in West Ocean City, Hollywood Casino in Perryville, Maryland Live! in Hanover, and an unbuilt unwanted casino in Rocky Gap.  Oh, and Baltimore wants one, too.  I think the deal Rawlings-Blake was trying to sell to the casino industry is "you raise a lot of money with gambling, we take it all, and everyone's happy!"

Outside of the casinos, the government also owns the Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort.  Then there are the stadiums and arenas - Orioles Park at Camden Yards, PSiNet/Ravens/M&T Bank stadium, and the First Mariner Baltimore Arena Civic Center.  Oh, let's not forget the former Festival Hall and the Baltimore Convention Center.  Speaking of convention centers, the City of Baltimore owns the 752 room convention center hotel with the Hilton sign on it.

The Maryland Zoo - that's owned by the City of Baltimore.  BWI airport and Martin State Airport - both owned by the state.  Baltimore Metro Subway and Baltimore Light Rail - both owned by the state.

How about boats?  Police boats and fire boats, they make sense for state and local governments to own, right?  What about a clipper topsail schooner?  We call it the Pride of Baltimore II.  It's owned by the state of Maryland.

Entertainment?  The National Aquarium in Baltimore is owned by the City of Baltimore (though managed by a non-profit organization).  The Maryland State Fairgrounds and the adjoining Timonium Race Course - owned by the state of Maryland.

Need to park?  Baltimore City owns 17 parking garages and 23 surface lots throughout the city through the Parking Authority of Baltimore City.

I'm sure there are many more examples.  And I'd love to hear them if you can think of any.

Isn't there a general agreement in a free society that the government should not be in direct competition with private business?  As I recall from my economics classes in college, it's called socialism when the government owns what should be considered private enterprise.  Isn't that what we're trying to avoid?  What?  No???  Oh, well, never mind then.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bloede's Dam & Violating My Fishing Rights

My son and I went fishing at Bloede's Dam near Ellicott City.  We decided to start fishing in different places other than the same old Piney Run Park.  I found this place on one of the fishing hot spot blogs.  Said there's small mouth bass, bluegill, creek chub suckers, and some trout.

I fished for small mouth, but didn't catch any.  I ended up catching a few bluegill (whoo-hoo!), but my son caught bluegill, a creek chub sucker, and a yellow perch.  The creek chub sucker is slightly more significant because they are more difficult to catch.  They are bottom feeders and like to eat algae and dead stuff.  I don't know too many fisherman who use algae as bait.  As far as the yellow perch, we never saw them as one of the possible fish in the Patapsco River Valley area, even on the Maryland DNR website.

We were able to wade in the river all the way up to the dam, which then has about a 30 foot drop.  It's amazing how much sediment has built up behind the dam over the past 100 years.  Notice the two knuckleheads at the top of the dam.  They eventually slid down the dam into the water below.  I took this picture to document their deaths, should that be the case.  They survived.  So did Budweiser.

There were probably over 100 people there all along the river.  We were a bit surprised at the number of people there on the weekend.  They were swimming, fishing, and picnicing.  What really surprised me was that about 95% of them were Hispanic.  I felt like I was in Little Mexico.  I don't have a problem with that, as long as they entered the country legally.

Then, while sitting there with a rod in my hand, I hear a woman ask if I'm catching anything.  I turn and realize there's a Maryland Park Ranger standing next to me.  I tell her nothing but bluegill.  She then asks to see my fishing license.  This is the first time I've even been asked for my fishing license.  Fortunately for me and Martin O'Malley (he wants the revenue from casual fisherman who only participate in catch and release), I had my license with me.  She looked at it for about 5 seconds, handed it back to me, got back in her truck and drove away.

After she left, I got to thinking.  I felt violated.  My civil rights were violated!!!!  How dare she ask to see my fishing license.  Was she profiling me?  When I vote, the election judges are not allowed to ask to show proof of my identity.  Police in many places are prohibited from asking people to prove that they are legal citizens.  Why must I show proof that I am a licensed fisherman?  What's more important - proving someone is a registered voter?  Or proving that you are allowed to catch and release a bluegill fish?  Where are our priorities in Maryland?  Is this a useful spending of our state's valuable financial resources?  O'Malley is crying that we do not have enough tax revenue and must raise our taxes again and again and again, yet we pay someone to check to see if we have our fishing licenses with us?  Can you sense my sensationalism?

So in summary, we can now add Bloede's Dam to our list of fishing places for 2012, which also includes The Farm Museum Pond in Westminster, the McKeldon area of the Patapsco Valley State Park, Daniel's Dam in Patapsco Valley State Park, Piney Run Park, Liberty Reservoir, Jonas Green Park in Annapolis, and, of course, Ocean City.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Eldersburg Murder - The Aftermath

In my last post I incorrectly stated that the name of the restaurant was the Harvest Farm Inn.  It's just the Harvest Inn.  I must have been thinking of the Harvest Farm neighborhood when I wrote that.

As we all know by now, a Sykesville man was murdered on Friday, a little after midnight.  The victim who expired was shot multiple times and another suspect is in the hospital with seemingly non-life threatening injuries.  According to my liberal friends, the victim was murdered by the NRA, as they are guilty for all gun murders in this country.  The motive at this point is still unclear.  There does not seem to be a connection between the shooting victims and the shooter.  But there's always more to the story.

In reality, the perpetrator was at the bar and had paid for his bar tab with a credit card, so he wasn't too difficult to find.  After the NRA shot the victim, he went to his girlfriend's house over on Gemini Road, dropped off his car and gun, which was legally registered to him.  Police contacted him by phone and he eventually surrendered to police at the Church of the Open Door on Route 140, which is next to Heritage Honda in Westminster, though if you're from Baltimore the car dealer is in Westminister.

The newsfeeds on Facebook were streaming with comments about the murder.  "We saw this coming."  "We never expected this kind of thing in Eldersburg."  "That's the second murder this year in Eldersburg."  Some of the strings were passionate and angry.  Others condescending, while others fearful.

I mostly agree with all of the comments.  We chose to move to Eldersburg in 1998 because it was nice, the commute to work was reasonable, the schools were good, and the crime was low.  Those things mostly still hold true today.  The commute is a little longer due to increased volume of cars and extra traffic lights.  The schools are still great.  However, the crime is not as low as it was.  Is that unexpected?  I don't think so.  As communities grow larger, there is more opportunity for crime.  Like it or not, as you add diversity (many varying forms of it - racial, religious, socioeconomic, sexual-orientation, political) you will get friction.  People of lower socioeconomic status tend to commit more serious crimes (regardless of the race).  The children of higher socioeconomic areas tend to commit nuisance and quality of life crimes (but there are always exceptions, e.g. Columbine).  You don't need a $50 million study by the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins to figure this out.  Common sense betrays these ideas.  Or as Matt Damon said in Good Will Hunting, "you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a **** education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library."

I think over time, as Eldersburg gets larger, there will be more crime.  The population trend in the United States over the past 30 years seems to indicate that crime moves outward from the city-center.  As it is now, the once blue collar low-crime suburbs of Rosedale, Parkville, Overlea, Woodlawn, Randallstown, and Brooklyn Park are now ares of lower income families saturated with higher crime.  As Eldersburg is right across the bridge from Randallstown, I predict that in 15-20 years, we will see more of the types of crime that plague the Liberty Road areas that we hear about on the news.  I think this is inevitable.  If you don't like it, then move to Winfield.  It'll take longer to get there, but it will eventually.  It may be in 100 years, but it'll get there.  Just ask the people that built those nice stone houses on Liberty Road in the 1920's.

Don't get me wrong, Eldersburg of 2012 is still a great place to live.  But let's not live with our heads in the sand.  Eldersburg of 2012 is not the same safe haven of 1998.

So do we do next?  Is there a violent wave of crime coming?  I don't think so.  Someone doesn't show up at a bar with a gun unless there's a score to settle.  It's certainly disturbing that this happened, but I think for the rest of us who are slumbering at midnight and not out drinking at the bar at midnight on a Thursday night, we should be okay.  Use common sense.  Avoid places that seem like they'd be seedy.  Don't hang out with drunk strangers.  Don't buy drugs.  Lock your doors. You should be okay for now.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Another Eldersburg Murder?

There was a shooting at the Harvest Farm Inn either last night or this morning.  I passed the place this morning on my way to work and there were multiple state police cars, plain wrappers, a homicide crime scene van, cameras, and those markers for bullet casings - all near the front door.  Rumor is that one person is dead with multiple bullet wounds to the face.

I've lived in Eldersburg for 13 years.  Small crime.  In the last couple of months - 2 murders.  What the hell is going on?

Welcome to Randallstown. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Eldersburg Verizon II - Coming or Going?

As you probably know, there are two Verizon stores in Eldersburg.  One is in Peddler's Square (Pizza Boli's and Smokey's), while the other is in the strip mall with Qdoba.  As I understand it, one is owned by Verizon, while the other is a franchise.

The other day I noticed that the sign was down on the one in Peddler's Square, which I suspect is the franchise, since it's not as nice.  No big dollar corporate dollars to keep it up-to-date.  However, there was another sign in the window that said the store was open.  Is it changing from a Verizon store to a generic phone center store?  Or are they just getting a new sign?  Does anyone know?

Anyway, that's the big-time news in Eldersburg today.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

O'Malley - Ignore the Facts

You have to admit - sometimes Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has quite a sense of humor.  Do you read his blog?  I read it through the Patch series of websites (Eldersburg Patch, Westminster Patch, Owings Mills Patch, etc...).  His latest blog post is called The Facts.  The funny thing is - I couldn't find any facts in the entire post.

I'm fairly certain that O'Malley really isn't writing this blog.  It's one of his staff members and O'Malley puts his name on it when it's done.  Perhaps O'Malley forgot to read this one before it got published, because quite honestly, this is embarrassing for the Democratic Party.

So let's review the blog post.  O'Malley is all bent out of shape by the Change Maryland organization.  He claims that it's a GOP partisan organization founded by a Bob Ehrlich appointee.  Okay.  So what?  Most organizations are partisan.  AARP.  NRA.  AFL-CIO.  NEA.  These are all partisan organizations.  However, O'Malley makes an unnecessary personal attack on the former Governor Bob Ehrlich appointee Larry Hogan by claiming that he is a "  failed congressional candidate and failed would-be candidate for governor.  "  Okay, if you want to use them fightin' words, John Kerry is a failure, Al Gore is a failure, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is a failure, Casper Taylor is a failure, Frank Kratovil is a failure.  Why so insensitive?  I though O'Malley was all about the party that cared about people?

In another "FACT", O'Malley says that he inherited a $1.7 Billion structural deficit from Bob Erhlich that increased spending 34% over 4 years.  True, but the devil is in the details.  The overwhelming majority of that spending increase was mandated by legislation passed by the Democratic-led Maryland General Assembly under the Democratic former-"failed" Governor Paris Glendening.  We all know about the Thorton education Bill - massive increases in mandatory spending on education without a funding source.  That bill has been haunting every governor since its passing.

In the chart that O'Malley provides, it states that there has been $8 billion in cumulative reductions in the O'Malley Brown administration.  Note that he is now calling everything the O'Malley Brown administration.  He's selling his partner in crime so that he can be our next governor.  Back to the facts - there has not been $8 billion in reductions in spending in Maryland.  The fact is that the state budget has increased every year that O'Malley has been in office.  Those reductions, including the projected reductions from FY2013, mostly include reductions in anticipated spending or reductions in desired spending.  I want to buy a Ferrari.  Therefore, I added $300,000 to my household budget this year to purchase a Ferrari.  My household budget then went to $360,000.  When I realized I could not afford to spend $360,000 because I did not have revenues to support it, I removed the purchase of the Ferrari and now my household budget is $60,000.  Look!  I just reduced spending by $300,000!!!  (Can you smell the crap from where you're sitting?)

So while we've always known Martin O'Malley to be arrogant, condescending, and generally untrustworthy when it comes to giving the people of Maryland the facts, this recent blog post is just over the top.  And I'm over the top, so I know when someone is over the top.

O'Malley, whoever your ghostwriter is, you better give him a dog biscuit and tell him to settle down.  Marylanders can see right through the BS.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

K-Mart's Closed at Carrolltown Center - Now What?

As all of Eldersburg knows, the K-Mart in Carrolltown Center finally closed, much to the chagrin of people who love to support failing businesses that are an eye sore to the community.  These people are too short-sighted or ignorant to see the economic benefits generated by a new shopping center with stores that actually cater to the middle to upper middle class residents of South Carroll.

Unfortunately, Black Oak Associates seems think more about how Carroll County borders lower -income and economically-depressed Randallstown rather than economically thriving (relatively speaking) upper middle class Howard County to our direct south.

K-Mart wasn't closed for 12 hours when the sign was ripped off of the fa├žade.  Now it looks like......a former K-Mart.  Hopefully they'll fill this open space with a flea market.  I'm kidding.  But don't be surprised if that's what they do.

Blockbuster is closed.  And empty.  And abandoned.

As is the former Goodyear Tire store connected to the former K-Mart.

As is the former Peebles.  Haven't heard any more on the rumor that Gold's Gym will be occupying this space.  Can you image that?  The elipticals are over in men's shoes.  The treadmills are over in women's lingerie.  And the free weights are next to the fragrance counters.

This was a movie theater.  Years ago.  Now it's a brick building with a leaky roof.  Don't you wish there was a thriving movie theater in Eldersburg?

So, Black Oak Associates....what's your plan?  Are you going to do something with this mall?  You said that the obstacle to your grandiose plans was K-Mart.  It is no longer your obstacle.  Does that mean that your plans are full-steam ahead?  Or are you waiting for "economic conditions to improve"?  Because you could be waiting years, which means we'll be waiting even more years.  We want a shopping destination in Eldersburg.  Now.  Make it happen!

What do you want in the NEW Carrolltown Center?

Saturday, July 07, 2012

4th of July 2012 Recap

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  It's the day that we remember that our Founding Fathers, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin all gathered in Philadelphia and held the first cookout in the United States.

Almost every year we go to Kingsville, Maryland for their 4th of July parade.  It's earlier in the day, around 11am, so there's plenty of time to get home, cookout, read the Declaration of Independence, drink a beer or 10, and watch a neighbor shoot off fireworks.

This year we got to Kingsville, which is just northeast of Perry Hall, around 9:10 am.  Surprisingly, with the parade still two hours away, the streets are lined with people waiting.  We park at St. John's Church and got a spot backing to the road, so I backed up, put up the canopy and lift-gate on my Pilot, spread out the chairs, and put up my anti-O'Malley signs to deter any potential Democrats from asking me to vote for them in the fall.  Fortunately for me, I can tell them I don't live in Baltimore County.  But then, of course, the knuckleheads all still insist on handing me a brochure with some information that they're sure I'll find interesting.  My recycling bin will find it more interesting.

It was a hot one on Wednesday.  Already in the mid-90's by 9:30-ish.  The parade started with it usual montage - police cars, the leader being a Baltimore County Sherrif's car.  I'm surprised he wasn't busy arresting people (Baltimore County's crime rate is soaring!).

Did you know that Ford stopped producing the Crown Victoria, the hallmark of the police fleet across the country?  I read that they received more orders for this car than they have for years (if ever) last year.  As it was the last year of their production, police departments wanted to stock up on them before they were gone.  Now units will have to either buy the Ford Taurus Police Interceptor, or the seemingly more popular Dodge Charger Police Interceptor.  Unfortunatley, the Charge is a Dodge and Chrysler is owned by Obama.

There were several flag corps, the Baltimore County Police department displaying the flags correctly:

And the United States Army displaying the flag incorrectly (he doesn't have his hands in the proper position AND the United States flag should be displayed higher than any accompanying flags.  This is why you should always give the United States flag to the tallest flag-bearer).

There were the usual politicians.  Here's big ole J.B. Jennings.  He's not much of a runner.  Though I heard a rumor that he gave Kobiashi a run for his money at last year's Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island.

Kathy Szeliga (Kathy Szeliga sells seashells by the seashore).

Maryland State Delegate Susan McComas and her "I'm more patriotic than you" outfit.

Rick Impallaria was there, but I didn't have my camera ready.  Andy Harris sent an entourage, but he must have been at a different parade.  Martin O'Malley - yeah, I don't think he's ever been to the Kingsville parade.  I think he hates people in Baltimore County.

There were the old farm tractors.  Every year there are two John Deere tractors, but this year there was also this McCormick Farmall.  Based on the boots, wife-beater, and cowboy hate, I suspect that this guy may be running for office in Harford County.

There were a few marching bands.  I found it interesting that the mostly Caucasian high schools have large marching bands, whereas the diverse high schools had much smaller marching bands.  Just an observation.  No judgement.  Here's the John Carroll Marching Band of Bel Air.

Then there were the fire trucks.  Kingsville Fire Department wants to expand.  They had banners on their firetrucks providing information about their fund raising efforts.  Here's their E-481 2005 American LeFrance Eagle.

Here's an aerial ladder, specifically the Peterbilt Tower 208, that serves the White Marsh Fire Department, which prior to 2003 was named the Cowenton Fire Department.

Anne Arundel County was proudly represented with their newest engine, their Ferndale Fireball 343.  I suspect this is a late 1950's Ward LeFrance Fireball Special.

Joppa-Magnolia got a new fire chief vehicle, this 2011/2012 (?) Chevy Tahoe.  I think it looks nice.  Their website isn't updated with the vehicle, so hey guys, update your apparatus page!

Finally, I grew up in Rosedale.  I remember the old Engine 2811973 Hahn Pumper truck flying through our neighborhood now and then.  Fortunately, they've upgraded, not only to a new station, but also to some newer vehicles, though this one is already 13 years old.  It's the Engine 281 1999 Spartan Luverne Pumper.  Still looks nice though.

Then there were a few older cars, same old cars from previous years.  Some Churches with their floats.  And that was basically it.  No clowns.  What's a parade without clowns?  (minus the politicians, of course)  It was a nice day to hang out with relatives in the morning.

We then spent the afternoon with some neighbors.  One of the guys in our neighborhood is selling his house after going through a divorce, but not after being underwater on his house by several tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars.  He said he spent $3,000 on fireworks.  He put on a good show.  Sent off some Chinese lanterns.  The police stopped by to let him know he had 5 minutes to finish his display or they were coming back.  Oh, sure.

And one last side note - a friend bought that new Bud Light Platinum.  I'm not a Budweiser fan because cheap beer always gives me a headache.  But this stuff wasn't too bad.  However, it's 8% alcohol, so after several of those, I had a headache.  So much for Bud Light.

How was your 4th of July?

Friday, July 06, 2012

Maryland Public Service Commission: BGE Must Be Punished for Every Thunderstorm

Doesn't that seem to be the message that's being sent from the state agency run by O'Malley's unqualified cronies that he promised to put to put in that position?  Why does BGE want to be in business in Maryland?  Everyone hates them, the state of Maryland is always fining them and demanding money from them, which in educated parlance is called extortion.  Oh, that's right.  BGE gave up and soon they'll be Exelon and it'll be their problem.

Today, O'Malley's PSC puppet Doug Nazarian announced that there will be an investigation of the power outages suffered by Pepco and BGE customers and the subsequent power restoration efforts of those companies in the Maryland area from last week's "unprecedented" thunderstorms.  There's great suspicion about them.  And it's also a good time to demand more money from them as the election is coming up.  It always looks good to fine the big greedy corporations right before the election to show the voters how much you care about them.

Mr. Nazarian underhandedly criticized both utility companies for not being prepared for the storm and not being able to adequately respond to it.  Didn't O'Malley just say the other day that there was no way to prepare for a storm like this?  I guess he meant himself and not anyone else.  Everyone else who wasn't prepared is incompetent and this will not be tolerated while the hard-working people of Maryland are suffering in these tough economic times, I mean during this unbearable weather.

Fortunately, almost everyone's power has been restored.  The last estimate I heard was that all power should be restored by the end of the weekend - just in time for this unbearable heat wave to break.  I followed a convoy of trucks from Florida on our way to the Mall in Columbia this evening.  I thought I'd be able to remember the name, but darn if I didn't forget already, otherwise I'd give them a big shout-out.  It was something like Fichen Power, or Fisher Power.  But I cannot find anything with their name on it.  But they had Florida license plates.  Thank you unnamed Florida utility company!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

O'Malley's Unprecedented Storm

Most of us are quite aware of how powerful the storm was last Friday.  There are still tens of thousands of homes without power.  Large branches and trees are down throughout the area littering yards, driveways, and roads.  I've encountered several non-functioning traffic lights.  By the way - a traffic light that is not operating becomes a four-way stop.  Hello idiots of the roads!!!  The right-of-way does not go to the jackass who's driving on the bigger road and has the most momentum.

We saw the crawlers on the television and on the Weather Channel warning us of the severe thunderstorm warning.  All week long WBAL's weather report indicated strong possibility of thunderstorms.  It made sense - long stretch of hot weather in the summer.  Isn't that when most big dangerous thunderstorms happen?  Did we ignore the signs?

Apparently to future Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley, Friday's storm was unprecedented.  Never has there been a thunderstorm that caused damage like this with power outages affecting as many people.  I really really really really find that hard to believe.  I even heard a quote where O'Malley say that this storm came out of nowhere.  Was I the only one watching the Weather Channel?  I knew it was going to storm.

After thinking carefully about this, I came to a conclusion.  By saying that everything is unprecedented, O'Malley has an easy fallback every time someone criticizes BGE (O'Malley's private ATM machine), or the state's slow response to helping its citizens.

Why is my electricity still out after 5 days?  This was an unprecedented storm!  No one could have been prepared for the damage wrought by this storm.

Why are there still trees lying across state roads?  This was an unprecedented storm!  No one could have been prepared for the damage wrought by this storm.

My favorite quote - "There is no one who will have his boot further up Pepco's behind or BGE's than I will," O'Malley said. "We've got a lot of people who are suffering right now."

Seriously?  BGE and Pepco know they have to get the work done.  Without the power being restored, they're losing money on electricity consumption.  And their reputation is always at stake when they have thousands of customers without power.  Do they really need a grandstanding from Martin O'Malley?  "Look at me!  I yelled at the electric companies to move forward faster!"  Yadda-yadda-yadda.

By the way, big thank you to Canadian utility company Hydro One, United Illuminating and Connecticut Light and power, obviously from Connecticut, and several others that I know are here, but I cannot seem to find mention of in the annals of the Internet.  

Monday, July 02, 2012

Doink Media - It's a Fraud

I got my Verizon phone bill for our land line the other day and there was a seemingly fraudulent charge from Doink Media for $30 on it.  I know what you're thinking - what's a land line?  Yes, we still have a land line at our house.  Sadly, the cellphone reception at our house is terrible.  It doesn't matter if you have Verizon, ATT, or T-Mobile.  They're all terrible at our house.  I have no idea why.  There are not a lot of trees around us.  Perhaps there's a secret NSA tower blocking the signal near us.

Anyway, I got this charge and I had no idea what it was.  Doink Media?  Who the heck is that?  I immediately called Verizon and asked them what it was.  They said it was a third-party billing, so it's not their  problem.  Oh, yeah???  It becomes your problem when I post the issue on Twitter, Facebook, and on my blog.  They said they could cancel the current bogus charges, but we'd need to contact Doink Media to resolve the problem so that future charges would not be billed to me.

I then Googled Doink Media, as that seemed like the most reasonable second response.  Common sense tells me that if you Google a company's name, the first item returned in the search is the website for the company.  First hit - Yahoo! Answers - Is Doink Media a scam?  The third item -  Yup.  This is fraud.

I contacted Doink Media and they looked at my account.  They said that they provide credit monitoring services and that we signed up for it by completing a survey in a pop-up window.  No we didn't.  Liar.  Fraud.  Anyway, they cancelled our account without any resistance and gave me the usual contact information and confirmation number.  Oh, and I was helped by Beth.  Beth who has a thick Indian accent.  Every time I spoke to her I should have used a more realistic Indian name. "Thank you, Swetha."  "You've been very helpful, Rishi."  "Have a nice day, Arshia."

So in conclusion, keep an eye on your land line phone bill for fraudulent charges.  All 5 of you that still have land lines.
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