Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Rules of Running

I've been running continuously for almost 4 years now.  I ran in high school, but mostly sprints and middle distance.  I went to States in the 4 x 400 my senior year.  I like to run, but now that I'm older, it's not as easy as it used to be.  This year I've run about 650 miles.  And lost zero pounds, but that's a different story.

I picked up running 4 years ago when my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.  I didn't start running to get in shape, or to release frustration and anger, or to give myself time to think and sort out all of the craziness going on our lives.  No, those were just the side effects.  I started running so that I could participate in Baltimore's Port to Fort 6K, which was sponsored by the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation, which provides respite and hospital care for families with critically ill children.  If you read this blog regularly, I'm sure you've heard this all before.  But it meant something to me.

Now that I've been running for 4 years, I feel that I have ample justification to go off on a rant about people and running.  And here I go.

If you are driving a car and you see a runner/jogger/etc..., here are your rules:

1) Runners are pedestrians and thus they have the right-of-way.
2) If you're backing out of your driveway, don't just look for other cars.  Look out for that runner.  We're watching you because we know that you're not watching us.  I will run right up to the point where I'm standing right next to your car and peering at you through your window laughing at you with that befuddled look on your face.
3) When driving at night, when you see someone running, turn off your f-ing high-beam.  Especially you pick-up trucks.
4) When you see a jogger on the road and there are no sidewalks, move over to the middle of the road if you can.  We don't like it when you pass us with 6 inches between your car and our ears.
5) Slow down when you pass us.  You know you're already going 10-15 mph over the speed limit.  It's no very comforting when that speed is that close to us.

If you're a runner, here are your rules:

1) If you're running at night, where a headlamp.  Yes, you'll look dorky, but when you're running you're not out to pick up hot girls or hot guys.  Face it - running is not sexy. It's sweaty.  It's snotty.  It's spitty.  It's gross.  But it's good for you.
2) When you're running on the street, you run against traffic, not with traffic.  It's the law.
3) Wear bright obnoxious clothing.  Again, you're not hear to pick up girls or guys.  Stand out.  Black may look cool, but people can't see you.  And that's bad.
4) Always assume that cars cannot see you.  Don't assume they are going to stop.  Think smart, if that makes any sense.
5) Try to avoid running on roads with no shoulder or no sidewalk.  You're unnecessarily putting yourself in danger.


1) Cut your trees and bushes back from the sidewalk.  All I need is that unseen branch slapping me against the face slashing my eye in the night.  It's no coincidence that the tree branches, bushes, and ornamental weeds that you have in your yard are no longer in my way!
2) Shovel your sidewalks!!!  Just because you don't walk in front of your house doesn't mean that no one else does.  Think of people with strollers that have to get their kids to the bus stop.  If I run by your house and fall on your unshoveled sidewalk and get hurt, you can guarantee you will have a lawsuit on your hands.

Follow these simple rules and you'll be safer and runners won't get pissed at you.

What rules should I add to this list?

Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 - A Year In Review

Every year seems to be more epic than the previous one.  Bigger international events, crazier celebrity antics, and more famous people die.  The movies are bigger blockbusters, expect when compared to 1984, there's more political and economic strife, and Martin O'Malley continues to sell himself as the biggest thing since Notre Dame football.


Speaking of Notre Dame football, the new year really started off with a bang in college football.  The BCS Championship Bowl featured the deadly Alabama Crimson Tide versus God's favorite team, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Notre Dame came into the game ranked #1 by the AP, ESPN, and the Vatican, but sports fans' questioned their ability to play against Nick Saban and a proven Alabama team.  BCS executives realized their grave error by halftime when Alabama was leading 28-0.  Should they let this trouncing continue?  Could they disqualify Notre Dame for their dismal performance?  Scrambling, they seriously considered flying in the University of Georgia to finish out the game in place of Notre Dame, as they were the rightful owners of that match-up.  Despite the fact that the Crimson Tide replaced their starters first with second and third string players, then with cheerleaders, and finally with the chess team for the 3rd and 4th quarters Alabama ended up winning the game 42-14 in probably the most embarrassing match-up in BCS history.

In national politics, Secretary of State and potential Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ended up in the hospital again.  Madam Secretary has suffered from a perplexing and unexplained string of accidents and illnesses including a stomach virus, which led to a fall, which led to a concussion, which led to a blood clot.  When another potential candidate for President, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, was asked about the incident, he only rubbed his hands together and laughed, "Bwoo-hahahahaha?"

Every year baseball fans look forward to January when the latest class of inductees is announced for the Hall of Fame.  Major League Baseball writers voted on players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and surprisingly no one was elected this year.  Many attribute this year's results to the ambivalence towards the steroids era in baseball as many of the candidates eligible for the Hall of Fame are suspected of using steroids.  Some players, like Mark McGwire, have even admitted to using steroids.  Upon hearing the news that they were not elected, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens both violently swore again that they never took steroids, after which their heads spontaneously exploded.

In the financial markets, IntercontinentialExchange (ACE), operator of commodities and derivatives markets, made an offer for the purchase of the partnership of New York Stock Exchange Euronext (NYSE).  The long-term plan is to remove the Duke brothers from power and replace them with Billy Ray Valentine and Louis Winthorp III.  And perhaps corner the market on orange juice.  And the winning wager was one dollar.

In what could possibly be the biggest scandal of the year, Subway admitted that some of their footlong subs may not actually be a foot long.  States Attorneys General immediately lined up for lawsuits and delicious 11 inch turkey clubs with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, black olives, hold the mayo and onions.

Dear Abby, we are sorry to hear of your passing.  Few knew you as Pauline Friedman Phillips.  94 years old.  Now you join your twin sister Ann Landers in heaven.  Thank you for all of your advise to Discouraged in Dayton.

The NHL ended its 3 month lock-out of players.  In order to get the season underway, preseason training was scheduled for Wednesday.  Preseason games were scheduled for Thursday.  And the 10 game season was started on Saturday.  Playoffs start at the end of the month.  ESPN made no mention of anything related to hockey, except to mention that Sydney Crosby was going to be the MVP of the season.

Another sad passing in January was that of Orioles legendary manager Earl Weaver, locally known as the Earl of Baltimore.  Self-proclaimed as the sorest loser in sports, he immediately got into an argument with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates and was sent to the showers.

In the NBA (did you know that anyone cared about the NBA other than ESPN???), the often traveled Rochester Cincinnati Kansas City Sacramento Kings decided to add a new destination to their name, moving to Seattle to fill the void left by the Seattle Oklahoma City Thunder SuperSonics.  The new name, obviously, will be the Rochester Cincinnati Kansas City Sacramento Seattle SuperSonics.

In the NFL, the perennial underdog Baltimore Ravens, led by Joe Flacco, one of the worst quarterbacks in the history of the NFL and despised by the media, despite having playoff statistics that mirror legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, led his team to the Super Bowl by defeating CBS darling Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  The game got so heated at one point that CBS announcer Jim Nantz threw a red flag from the booth protesting a call that went in the Ravens' favor.  Patriots coach Bill Belichick refused to speak to the media after game, preferring instead to retreat to the locker room, change his own diaper and suck his thumb in protest.

Lance Armstrong admitted to taking drugs.  THAT's surprising news.  Are you telling me that a cancer-surviving 36 year old is not likely to win the Tour de France 50 times without taking drugs?

Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress about the Benghazi attacks.  The potential Presidential candidate made a surprising comment about the incident when she said, "What difference does it make?"  That's a Presidential statement if I've ever heard one!

In Russia, a giant meteor didn't fall and blaze through the sky.  It especially was not caught on camera by numerous people with video cameras.  It was a glorious day in Russia.

The biggest event in sports every year after the National Bocce Tournament is the NFL's Super Bowl.  This year's match-up featured the Baltimore Ravens, who weren't supposed to be there, and the fan-favorite San Francisco 49er's.  The 49er's were bound to win as they've never lost a Super Bowl and as everyone knows, that's evidence enough that it would repeat itself.  The Ravens took off to an early lead and the game looked like it was getting out of control, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who incidentally is married to former Fox hottie Jane Skinner, pulled the plug on the electricity and the lights went out in the Super Dome for 34 minutes.  Despite Goodell's best efforts, the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII 34 - 31.

February saw the changing of the guard as John Kerry took over as Secretary of State for the departing Madame Clinton.  As his first duty as Secretary of State, Secretary Kerry declared that if anyone said he looked like Herman Munster anymore it would be considered an act of war.

It was a bad year for cruise ships.  Carnival ship had one ship stranded at sea while another sat in port waiting to be fixed.  And we're not even talking about the Costa Concordia.  After several outbreaks of illnesses, fires, and engineering problems, the cruise ship industry has been as successful as the hydrogen blimp industry during the 1940's.

2012 London Olympian amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa continued his brush with fame when when he shot and killed his girlfriend.  Had he lived in Baltimore, the criminal justice system would have not have blinked as there are hundreds of murders per year. Pistorius claimed he thought she was an intruder.

American Airlines and US Airways announced a merger with hopes that combining the two worst airlines in the world will make one great airline.  Critics predict that the two airlines together will double fairs and their departure times will be twice as bad as the industry average, thus creating an airline exponentially worse than either airline in its own right.  The combined companies' new name will be Airplane III and their slogan will be, "So blood hammered out and jammed jet ship. Tightened that bad sucker inside the runway like a mother. Shit."

In February Catholics witnessed the first resignation of a Pope since 2009 when Sarah Palin resigned as the Pope of Alaska.  The last Catholic Pope to resign was in 1415 when Gregory XII, best known for ending the Western Schism when two men claimed to be the true residing Pope back in 1378.  Many are still wondering why Pope Benedict XVI resigned just short of only 8 years in the Papacy.  Some claim that he was getting too old and felt he was physically unable to fulfill his duties as Pope, while others say that he was running from the child molestation troubles of the Church.  Few know that the real reason he resigned was so that he could be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in 2014.  Yes, they do  have a clause in their contract that asks, "Are you currently a Pope?", which disqualifies the contestant from participating on the show.

NASCAR made history in February at the Dayton 500 when Danica Patrick became the first female to take the poll position.  History was made again when it was announced that for the first time in history, a girl led a lap at the Daytona 500.  Immediately people in the crowd began saying, "Jeff Gordon never led a lap at Daytona before?"

Noticing a precipitous drop in viewership, ESPN decided to drop all further mentioning of NHL hockey and replace it with references to the ongoing battle between Lakers thug Kobe Bryant and ostentatious glam slut LeBron James.  In the future, anytime hockey would have been a mentionable item, John Buccigross will let us know what Kobe and LeBron had for breakfast.

Venezuelan dictator President Hugo Chavez died in March after 14 years of taunting the United States, confiscating foreign companies such as Citgo (better known as Shitgo), Ternium, Cemex, and Banco Santandar, and generally being a pain in the ass and instigator of trouble in South America.  Chavez was given fast-track to the Dictator Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of Kim Jong-il, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Mao Zedong.

The Baltimore Ravens spent most of March losing players to free agency, retirement, or cutting them altogether.  The list includes Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Dannelle Ellerbe, Anquan Boldin, Cary Williams, and Bernard Pollard.  With few players left to form a team, Ozzie Newsome was forced to make some unpleasant signings.  He picked up the the Baltimore City Delegation of the House of Delegates as the left tackle as they block everything that tries to get passed in the General Assembly and Ozzie then made the surprising signing of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley as a tackle dummy, stating that the Governor is totally qualified to play the dummy.

Pope Francis I took the helm at Vatican City succeeding Pope Benedict the XVI.  Pope Francis declared that the Church better change its ways and be more accepting of people or the Church will die. Liberals around the world cheered the new Pope and his approval rating was 8 times higher than that of Congress, which really isn't saying that much.

Boston Marathon Bombing made the news when Muslims with apparently no ties to Al Qaeda, but a big tie to the crock pot industry, decided to set of bombs on a crowded city street.  Sadly, three people were killed and 264 were injured, many with their legs blown off.  The Massachusetts state senate immediately set out to crack down on crock pots and the villains that use them passing legislation against the illegal use of the cooking device.  It is reported that crock pot crimes are now down 85% in Massachusetts alone.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was laid to rest in April.  Along with American President Ronald Reagan, the team bullied the Russians into submission leading them to eventually pull back the Iron Curtain over Eastern Europe.  Among the most notable legacies of Ms. Thatcher is the spoof where she's having dinner with her cabinet members.  When asked what she wants for dinner she replies,  "I'll have the steak." "How would you like that cooked?"  "Raw please."  "What about the vegetables?"  "OH, they'll have the steak, too."  Rest in Peace, Iron Lady.

Perhaps the most dramatic non-military explosion occurred outside of Waco, Texas when a fertilizer plant had a fire and exploded.  The explosion registered a 2.1 on the Richter Scale and killed dozens of first responders.  The explosion in Texas was caught on video by a guy in a pick-up truck (if you can image that).  See the video here.

In April the beloved Lumpy Rutherford died.  He was Wally's friend on the iconic family show from the 1950's and 1960's Leave it to Beaver.

American heart-throb Reese Witherspoon was arrested in Georgia for being drunk and disorderly conduct after the officer asked her several times to stay in the car.  She pulled out her "I'm an American and I have rights" card.  When that didn't work, she pulled out her "wait til you find out who I am" card.  Apparently that didn't work either.  She should consider herself lucky that Georgia's finest didn't taser her.

Not to be outdone by Reese Witherspoon, NBC football announcer Al Michaels was arrested for driving under the influence.  Fortunately for him, he had on a nice shirt and took a decent mugshot.

Cleveland's only claim to fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted 6 new members into the Hall in 2013 including nerd rock group RUSH, female led rock band Heart, blues guitarist Albert King, singer song-writer pianist Randy Newman, hip-hop rappers Public Enemy, and disco singer Donna Summer.  Note that only two of these inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame actually sang rock and roll. So....when are they going to change it to the Music Hall of Fame?  Cuz' it ain't rock and roll.

The racist Tea Party launched an EF5 tornado in Oklahoma that killed 24 people and injured 377 others.  MSNBC conspiracists said that the tornado actually targeted conservatives, thus proving how stupid the Tea Party really is.

Ray Manzarek from The Doors died.  If you don't know him, you certainly would recognize his 6 hour keyboard solo in the Door's iconic song Light My Fire.

Obama umbrella incident.  Oh, the great umbrella incident.  Obama can't seem to do anything right.  Unlike President Reagan who would have stood in the rain or held his own damn umbrella, Obama used a Marine guard to hold his umbrella, and even asked him to move closer.  Oh, the shame.  Our President is such a wimp.

At a Contressional hearing, IRS Official Lois Lerner pleaded the 5th after stating that she's done nothing wrong when asked about why conservative groups were targeted for audits.  Remember what goes around comes around.  And we thought that the IRS was an independent non-political agency.  I suspect Ms. Lerner's next job will be counting packages of calculator tape in a giant government warehouse.

In London a soldier killed by cleaver-weilding Muslim.  CNN and the British press lash-out at "far-right leaning" protesters.  Liberals claim we need more Muslim sensitivity training.  No one interviewed the soldier's family, because his death was not the issue.

Maryland Lieutenant Governor Brown chooses ultra-liberal Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as running mate before the primary even begins.  It has not been determined how long it will take County Executive Ulman to climb out of Martin O'Malley's ass and to climb into Anthony Brown's ass.

In May the Boy Scouts announced it will allow gay scouts.  Now gay scouts will be openly identified rather than scouting in relative obscurity.

Edith Bunker dies.  "Oh, Archie!"  Jean Stapleton will forever be remembered as the dingbat wife of bigot Archie Bunker from the hit television show All in the Family.

After killing two girls (Natalie Holloway and Stephanie Flores) Dutch playboy Joran van der Sloot got married.  We're not sure where they registered, but you could always send them gift cards to the Peruvian Prison Gift Shoppe where he now currently resides.

Eight people were arrested at kindergarten graduation in Cleveland after a fight and a shoot-out.  But it is Cleveland. 

Eric Snowden fled the United States after he was discovered to have leaked to the public that the NSA is spying on them - all of them.  Non-free thinking Republicans and government officials immediately label him a traitor and seek to have him eliminated.  So, if treason is abetting the enemy, and the American public is the enemy, then damn right he's a traitor!!!  The issue snowballs when German Chancellor Angela Merkel discovers that the NSA has been spying on her.  Then we learned that the NSA, with Obama's approval, also spied on Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.  Okay, let's face it.  The government has been spying on all of us forever.  The question is - should they be?

Iranian President, if you want to call him that, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retired after years of hard torture and Holocust denial.  He plans to live out his sunset years in Branson, Missouri, traveling with his family in his 1987 Caprice Classic, playing checkers, and painting pictures of Iran's imprisoned soccer teams.

One of the greatest things about being President of the United States is that if you forget your basketballs when you travel to Martha's Vineyard, you could always have Air Force 1 fly back to D.C. to get them for you.  Or drive to the local Wal-Mart and buy a couple of new ones for $10 a piece, but hey, he's the President.  Why would he waste his money doing that when he can waste our money instead?

Former NFL great and Baltimore Colts legend Art Donovan died.  He was best known for his zany personality and claiming that preseason training consisted of pizza and beer.

Men's Warehouse fired George Zimmer because they didn't like the way he looked.

Paula Deen was also fired in June from the Food Network for admitting that she once used the "N" word, a word so harsh that it cannot be spoken or you can turn to a pillar of salt, catch on fire, go to jail, or worse be fired from the Food Network.  The American Hypocrisy Board expects the following people to also be fired for also using the N word: ESPN host Mike Wilbon, Charles Barkley, Philadelphia Eagle Bradly Cooper, Shaquille O'Neal, Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, and Samuel L. Jackson.  And this probably also goes for every rap singer ever in the history of ever, but let's ignore the double-standard.

The entire free press world came to a halt in July as Kate Middleton, otherwise known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to heir apparent Prince George.  If Kate wasn't such a hottie and a future Queen consort, no one would give a crap that she had a baby.  But since she is, by law newspapers and magazines were required to fill pages after pages of pictures of her and Georgie for the entire month.

Miley Cyrus becomes a whore when she performs at the VMA awards by twerking and making an absolute ass of herself.  She was criticized as another child performer gone wild and being out of control, forcing every network to talk about her 24 hours per day, keeping her name in the public eye and ear. All of the negative attention continued as she sold millions of albums throughout the year. Pundits claim that her fame is over in spite of the millions of dollars she is making this year form her name being mentioned over and over again increasing album sales.  Fortunately, some people are smart enough to realize that Miley is such an idiot that she's a genius.

In September, Ariel Castro, the lunatic who held three women hostage in his house in Cleveland for 10 years, hung himself in prison.  And when they say he was hung, they was right.

Tensions and deaths soared in Syria in their continuing Civil War.  The war is based on the government killing anyone that doesn't agree with them and those being killed delusionally demanding that they stop being killed.  I know what you're thinking - the stupidity of the common folk.  President Obama threatened to bomb Syria if the Syrian military didn't stop killing its own people, but then Americans, for once, went, "Whoa!  We're now going to be involved in 4 wars????  (Iraq - yes we're still there despite what Obama says, Afghanistan - where the death toll among U.S. soldiers increased significantly under Obama's watch and that doesn't get report, oh, and that little conflict in Lybia where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to send him help to rescue Ambassador Stevens because those people were just upset about a Youtube video).

Soon thereafter, Russia announced that they were firmly against a U.S. strike on Syria.  Obama told Mr. Putin, "tell you what.  Give the Super Bowl ring back to Patriots owner Robert Kraft and we'll talk."

For the first time since man began walking upright, the Pittsburgh Pirates won enough games in a season to guarantee a winning season.  Actually, the Pirates averted a losing season for the first time in 21 years.

Sports website Deadspin let the world know that they have absolutely no class when they called a 7 year old Jets fan an asshole.  I think it's clear that the writers and owners of Deadspin are assholes.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announces the cancellation of all future Gran Prix of Baltimore races.  Race organizers site lack of race profits, difficulty coordinating the race with the schedules of the other bullies in town, the Orioles and the Ravens, nightmarish downtown traffic in the weeks leading up to the race, and disappointing popcorn sales as the reasons for the cancellation.

In Italy, the salvage firm Titan Salvage began the process of up-righting the partially sunk Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise ship that struck ground and listed into the water, killing 32 people.  When asked if Titan Salvage could help Democratic candidate Anthony Weiner salvage his political campaign for Mayor of New York, they responded that some tasks are merely impossible.  Anthony Weiner, the Sexter of Capitol Hill, finished his campaign by giving reporters the finger. Way to 'hang' in there Mr. Weiner.  Hopefully things will start looking up for you.  Life isn't so hard when you do things on your own. 

In October, millions of government workers got a free vacation when the Congress decided not to fund operations while they bickered over stupid funding issues.  Each party rightly blamed the other, as each party was definitely more responsible for the shut-down than the other.  My favorite part is when they put up barricades around national landmarks and manned those barricades with essential personnel, rather than do nothing and not leech off of the tax-payers.  Way to sensationalize the issue, President Obama.

The United States Post Office defaulted on a debt payment to prefund the postal employees health benefits.  This was the third time that the U.S. Post Office has defaulted on a debt payment and Post Master General Patrick Donahue predicted this default and vocally criticized Congress for not requiring other government departments to impose this same requirement to prefund health benefits.  The other Secretaries of other departments told General Donahue to 'shut the hell up'.  To make-up for the financial shortage, the Post Office plans on laying off 138 million postal employees, cutting delivery days to every other Tuesday, and raising stamp prices to $1,400 per stamp.

Pizza Hut gladly accepted the Asshole Employer of the Year Award for firing Tony Rohr, a store manager who refused to open his store on Thanksgiving Day as directed by the company.

Pittsburgh Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin made the news when he was credited with tackling Baltimore Raven Jacoby Jones who probably would have returned a punt for a touchdown had not Tomlin stood on the field pretending like he didn't know he was in the way.  The most important lesson learned, however, was that Photoshop is still a great tool for cutting and pasting pictures of Mike Tomlin into various embarrassing poses.

Trixie of the Honeymooner's died.

In probably the most shocking death of the year, millions of people mourned the sudden and unexpected death of Brian the dog from Family Guy.  Seth MacFarlane is credited with keeping the canine's death a secret and many viewers were extremely upset.  One even went so far as to create a petition on to bring Brian back.  In other less sad and certainly more insignificant news to Americans, 4 soldiers died in the war in Afghanistan in November.

Toronto Mayor Rob "Vice" Ford was caught in a drunken stupor using crack cocaine.  Many demanded his resignation, but former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry advised him to stay in office.  He also told him to not pay his taxes, to drive an unlicensed vehicle, to drive while intoxicated, to run red lights, to stalk women, participate in defrauding the government's benefits' system, and make racist remarks about Asians.  There's no word on whether Mayor Ford took any of his advice.


Ford unveiled the new 2015 Mustang, which surprisingly looks like a Hyundai Genesis coupe.  It's a sad day when America looks to South Korea for new and innovative ideas.  I'll think I'll stick with American-built cars, like my Honda Pilot.

The Seattle Mariners offered the most redonkulous contract in sports in 2013 by offering mediocre second baseman Robsinson Cano $8 billion over a few years.  The former New York Yankee originally rejected the contract offer, but changed his mind when the Mariners decided to throw in the Space Needle, Pearl Jam, a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, and full ownership of the now defunct Seattle Supersonics.

MSNBC, the official network channel for the Democratic Party, fired hate-mongering host Martin Bashir (or did he pretend to resign?) for his comments suggesting that Sarah Palin be flogged, washed and rubbed with salt pickle, then have someone piss in her eyes and mouth.  He rightly used this descriptive language because the former Governor of Alaska mentioned that the national debt is like slavery.  Apparently figurative language is illegal now.

The demise of democracy and common sense was proven in December when a Pennsylvania teacher was allowed to keep her job after calling a Jewish parent a neo-Nazi.  Apparently it was a misunderstanding.  What part of being called a neo-Nazi would be considered a misunderstanding?

The man who fought apartheid in South Africa, was imprisoned for 28 years, was released and eventually served as President of South Africa, Morgan Freeman, died at age 95.  He was famously portrayed in the movies by Nelson Mandela.  The world honored Morgan Freeman, portrayed by Nelson Mandela, by having a huge memorial in South Africa that was attended by leaders of the world who ignored the speeches and took selfies of each other.  To top if off, Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson was able to infiltrate the ceremony and pose as a fake sign language interpreter.

The day before Pearl Harbor Day, United Airlines thought it would be funny to bump a man bound to a wheel chair who is a World War II Pearl Harbor veteran from a flight from LAX to Honolulu.  Unfortunately, the publicity stunt backfired when the media got wind that United Airlines HATES military veterans.  United claims they actually had to reduce the number of passengers to lessen the weight to take on more fuel.  Odd that they selected one of the least likely candidates that should be bumped.

Denver Broncos kicker Phil Dawson set the NFL record for the longest field goal in NFL history at 64 yards.  Soon after the kick, Senator John McCain Tweeted that had he beaten Obama, he would have the record for completing the longest shot ever.

North Korea is up to its old shenanigans.  Since the Cold War, it's been North Korean policy that the leader be a Kim, a descendant of Kim Il Sung.  His son, Kim Jung Il, descended from the heavens while his father fought the Japanese.  Legend has it that he was born in a log cabin, chopped down a cherry tree, ended slavery, and built North Korea to become the most powerful country on Earth.  In December, to prove their electronic prowess, Dennis Rodman's best friend Kim Jong Un faxed a threat of war to their backwards neighbor, the South Koreans, for their unwarranted protests of the fake atrocities on North Korea.

Not since the Kennedy Assassination and the report from the Warren Commission have Americans been so split on their opinion as they were in December when Duck Dynasty redneck Phil Robertson was removed from the show for his callous remarks.  Some cry that his 1st Amendment rights were violated.  Smarter people commented that you have no 1st Amendment rights when it comes to speaking on behalf of your employer.  Either way, the duck rednecks are making millions of dollars laughing at us all the way to the mattress where they hide the money.

And that, my friends, is how 2013 happened. No lie!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

It's Giving Tuesday!

It seems like every day from Thanksgiving until New Year's is a day for something.  There's Black Friday, which apparently starts at 5pm on Thanksgiving day.  Then there's Small Business Saturday, Skip Church Sunday, Cyber Monday, Throwback Thursday, Flashback Friday, Wake Up Late Wednesday, "Oh-God, Martin O'Malley is still Governor Monday, etc.. 

Today is Giving Tuesday.

Since my daughter was diagnosed with cancer 3 years ago, I have been a lot more generous, in spite of the medical bills.  This year alone I have donated nearly $400 to charities such as the ones I mention, and to others where my friends are soliciting donations for their causes. 

Here are a few of my favorite charities and I hope you will consider making a donation to one of them this year.  Remember, you'll be helping a family in need AND you get a tax right-off.  That's money that Martin O'Malley won't get.

Casey Cares - provides family opportunities to families with critically ill children.  These include going to Orioles and Ravens' games, the circus, Disney on Ice, birthday bashes, and Kami's Jammies, to name a few. 

Believe in Tomorrow - provides respite and hospital housing to families with critically ill children.  They have several places at the beach with amenities to support children with special needs, such as wheel chairs, in addition to housing close to the hospital so that parents can be closer to their children when they must be in the hospital for an extended stay.

Tanner's Touch - raises money for pediatric cancer research and to finacially assist families who have children fighting cancer.

I have met the founders of all of these organizations and they are wonderful, dedicated, caring, and compassionate people who have done amazing work helping people right here in our community.  Donating to the large non-profit organizations is always a good thing to do, but donating to these organizations will help people directly right here in Maryland.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Doug Gansler Will NEVER Be Governor

If you've listened to the news over the past few weeks, you've heard an ear-full about Maryland's Attorney General Doug Gansler.  His actions speak louder than words.  And his words are blithering non-sense.  And this is not a guy you want as your governor.  But don't worry.  He will never be governor if Martin O'Malley has anything to say about it.

I'm sure Mr. Gansler wants to be referenced in your typical political parlance.  He probably wants to be called the honorable General Gansler.  However, he is anything but honorable.  The former State's Attorney from Montgomery County gained notoriety from the prosecution of the Beltway Snipers, Lee Boyd Malvo and John Muhammad. He insisted that the snipers be tried in Maryland where there is no death penalty.  Fortunately, there are better heads in the Federal government and they were tried in Virginia where they rightly believe in capital punishment.

Gansler then succeeded Martin O'Malley's father-in-law Joseph Curran as Attorney General of Maryland.

Mr. Gansler has not been one to shy away from controversy.  He recently commented on Lieutenant Governor Tony Brown's campaign for governor saying Mr. Brown's campaign slogan should be, "Vote for me, I want to be the first African-American governor of Maryland."  How would Gansler like it if we said, "Gansler's campaign slogan should be 'Vote for me, I want to be the first Jewish Governor of Maryland since Marvin Mandel"?  If a Republican would have said what Gansler said, he's be in jail right now.

Then the story broke about how Gansler has absolutely no respect for the law.  Apparently he thinks the law does not apply to him.  The Attorney General gets a State Police escort.  However, Gansler has at times insisted on driving the police escort SUV and many times driven with the police lights on.  This is a violation of policy and certainly a violation of privilege.

Then, WBAL broke a story that Mr. Gansler received a speeding ticket from a speed camera in Washington, D.C.  He then refused to pay it.   That was until WBAL's Jane Miller got on the case.  Then he paid it - 16 months late.

Gansler wasn't out of the spotlight for a week when someone "mysteriously" leaked photos of him partying it up with seemingly under-aged kids, with some of them bumped and grinding.

Two weeks ago it was revealed that a tracker is following Doug Gansler and recording his every word and action.  This seems like something Martin O'Malley would do.  Pester the crap out of someone just waiting for a gaffe.  But it's not O'Malley that's using this dirty political tactic.  It's his protégé, Tony Brown.  It's a dastardly tactic, but Tony Brown is following on the heels of the master dastard.

It's sad that politics comes to this.  Politicians, like Tony Brown, have no respect for fair campaigns, nor privacy.  They have no interest in a campaign where the candidates discuss the issues and the people decide the winner.  They are out to destroy their competition at all costs.  Tony Brown is a political thug just like O'Malley and if Maryland votes for Brown, then God help us.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Carrolltown Mall: Peebles - GONE!!!

I drove by the former Carrolltown Mall one morning last week to drop off a movie and it was quite windy that day.  Looking at the demolition site, it looked like one of those days where you get a light dusting of snow and it blows around.  This was just dust from the rubble and debris.  I feel bad for the folks that live behind the mall.

On the backside of the mall, we eventually got to the point where we could see Liberty Road from Gemini Road.  See Carroll Station there in the middle?  We are looking through what was formerly the food court and Dollar General \ Rite Aid.

This is the back-end of the Big Lots!  See the steel beams piled together. Gone is Fun Quarters, Zumba, and the Freedom Church.

Here we have the former Peebles, which I now understand was a Jamesway prior to that.  The entrance has been sufficiently demolished.

Here's a close-up of the former Peebles.  You can see right through the entrance.

Here is the former TZ Sports, which is a combination of two store, one being the former NAMCO patio furniture, and I'm sure that something else was there prior to that.  This space also included the former hardware store.  What was it? An Ace Hardware or a True Value? I don't remember.

I believe this pile of debris to be the entrance sign for TZ Sports.

Today, I saw that both Peebles and TZ Sports were gone.  Well, all except this tiny corner on the right.  You can see all the way to the library now.

Here's where TZ Sports was.

And in case you're wondering, Wendy's, Denny's, and Bank of America are still open.  As is Big Lots!  or is it Big ! Lots?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oscar's Ale House - A Review

Oscar's Ale House
1438 Liberty Road
Eldersburg, MD 21784
(410) 795-7001

My wife and I just celebrated our 23 date-iversary.  Meaning - we started dating 23 years ago.  We always celebrate this seemingly odd day, but it is special in our life.  I asked my wife if she wanted to go on a date, maybe go to dinner.  She agreed. I threw out some suggestions - Baldwin Station, Johannson's, The Grille At Harryman House.  She chose Oscar's Alehouse.

Oscar's opened probably a year ago.  I heard the opening was an absolute disaster.  Not sure if what I heard is true, but I heard that the kitchen staff walked out on opening night. Oscar's is the successor to Cobblestone, Meiklejohn's, and The Chop House.  Did I miss any?

I made reservations for 2 at 6pm.  This place is always crowded on Fridays.  You can how crowded they are by the number of cars that are illegally parked in the fire lane.  If Carroll County and Maryland State Police were smart, they'd swing by every Friday evening and handout about 2 dozen parking tickets every hour.  Imagine the revenue that would add up over time.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to get a seat right by the front window.  The seat and the table are awkwardly spaced.  Not sure if there is 3 feet from the back of the chair to the table so that fat people can sit there, or if it is just the way they had to divide the space evenly.  I had to sit at the edge of my seat to reach the table.  Really weird.

Our waitress was prompt and courteous, as was the staff that delivered our meals.  I wasn't sure if my wife wanted a drink or not, so we ordered a round of waters first.  We're not like most couples who both drink and get lit at dinner, then drive home drunk.

My wife finally decided she didn't want a drink, so with my dinner order I ordered a Victory Golden Monkey, which is a Belgian-style ale from Pennsylvania.  It was really good.  If anything, Oscar's Alehouse has a nice selection of beers.  They have varieties of beer from Dogfish Head, Brooklyn Brewery, Rogue, Heavy Seas, and Harpoon.  And if you don't like beer, they also have Budweiser and Miller Light.

We ordered appetizers, if you classify soups as appetizers.  I got a bowl of French Onion soup.  Instead of having melted cheese over top, there was a slice of cheese on top of a slice of bread.  The cheese was nearly melted, but it seemed like a lame attempt to make French Onion soup.  My wife ordered the Maryland Cream of Crab soup.  It was orange.  She said it tasted like cheese, by the menu said it was prepared with Sherry, so I suspect the Sherry is the cause of the orange color.  She was not impressed with the soup.

For dinner I ordered the Oscar's Creole Pasta.  Instead of pasta, I got it with wild rice.  It was served with blackened chicken, which is fancy food talk for burnt chicken, shrimp, and Andouille sausage, peppers, onions, and a spicy cream sauce.  When they say spicy, they're not kidding.  I LOVE spicy food.  I drop hot sauce on everything.  I could not eat this dish.  It was so freakin' spicy that I drained my glass of water and my entire beer putting out the flames from a quarter of the dish.  The taste?  Not sure.  The main flavor of the dish was fire.

My wife ordered the Wood Grilled Shrimp and Bacon club.  Her only response was that it was, "eh...".  When we finished, she confidently stated, "We're not coming back here again."

I could give this restaurant a second chance, but it may be a while.  They have half priced burgers on Mondays and was told that the burgers are actually pretty good.  I may go there with some friends and drink some beer. But I doubt I'll be taking my wife back there again.  She was too disappointed to want to go back.

Overall, Oscar's looks very nice.  It has a nice ambiance.  The staff are dressed neatly, though not professionally, and they were polite, friendly, quick, and responsive. Oscar's seems like a great place to hang out.  That is, unless you want to order dinner and actually like food that tastes good.  I'll admit that I spoke to someone that says that the Friday food always seems to be worse than food served on any other day.  Perhaps the kitchen staff is in such a rush on Fridays because of the crowd that they prepare food with the intention of getting it done fast rather than getting it done well.

It's hard for me to recommend this place.  Have you been there before?  If so, what do you think?

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Carrolltown Mall Demolition - the Ongoing Saga

Here is a panoramic video of the Carrolltown Mall demolition from earlier in the week.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Inside of Carrolltown Mall

I promised some pictures from inside the mall.  Here you go...

This is the interior of the mall looking toward the front.  I don't remember what was in these stores.

Same as before, looking toward the front.  I remember the Dungeons and Dragons-place on the right.  There was Genesis Hair Salon beyond that.  I'm sure there was something else.

 A look closer toward the jewelers.  Note the rain damage under the windows.

This is looking toward the rear.  This was the food court area.  I remember an Italian restaurant and a Subway in the demolished area.

Looking from the food court toward Peebles.  That's S&N Katz Jewelers on the left.  The table tennis place was beyond that when we moved to Eldersburg.  The Fun Quarters was on the right.

When we moved to Eldersburg in 1999 there was a Mexican restaurant here.  It closed soon thereafter.

Evidence of a paint-ball war.  Note all of the yellow blotches.

This is the S&N Katz Jewelers, obviously.  Just a lot of smashed glass now.

Here is one of the decorative sconces that adorned the pillars.

I think a tree was here and the grate was around it.  Now it is filled with wires and a basketball.  Not sure how the basketball got there.

This cracks me up.  Read the sign.  Exposed rebar, cracked marble, debris.  How in the world can that harm children?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jon Stewart Attacks Obamacare Website

When the left-leaning leader of the fake news world starts attacking you, you know you're in trouble.  Jon Stewart went off on Obama and the terrible website that now represents Obamacare.  I have to admit, this is REALLY funny.  "The website has 99 problems, but glitches is all of them!"

The Washington Post Hates Republicans

The Washington Post is considered one of the best newspapers in the country for their in-depth reporting.  They are right up there with the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Rock Hill Herald.  But everyone knows that the Post is left-leaning.  Just read their Op-Ed section.

If you don't believe me, check out today's front page.  Hokey-smoke, Bullwinkle! They even attack Republicans in the Sports section!  I think I read on page 2 that Republicans are spitting on babies and stealing their candy.

Don't get me wrong.  The Republicans are not doing themselves any favors lately.  They're doing a fine job of destroying the party's future. The way to advance your party and your initiatives is not to say, "I know you are, but what am I?".  If the Republicans were smart, they'd take the Obamacare, which I believe is here to stay despite it's enormous flaws, and run with it and make it their own.  Instead, they're wasting time trying over and over and over to repeal it.  It's going to stick around like that ugly freshman girl that had a crush on you when you were a senior.

For example, seems to have been designed and developed by the firm of Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl.  Take it!  Run with it!  Use it to your advantage by coming up with a solution, not a criticism.  Hell, even Jon Stewart is making fun of Obama and the website.

 Oh, Ronald Reagan. Where have you gone?

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Colin Powell Speaks at Loyola University

Loyola University of Maryland, formerly Loyola College in Maryland, started a lecture series this year made possible by a donation by Ellen and Ed Hanway.  The first speaker was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which I was unable to attend.  The second speaker in the series was tonight and it was former Secretary of State General Colin L. Powell.

The speaking event was only the second time I had been on the Evergreen campus since I graduated from Loyola with my M.B.A. in 2000.  Technically I finished my last class in 1999, but there is no mid-year graduation.  Additionally, of the ten classes that I took to get my M.B.A., only two were at the Evergreen campus.  The remainder were at the Timonium campus and the original Columbia site.  I wouldn't call it a campus as it was a couple of rooms in an office building.  And if you were wondering how the college girls look on campus these days, yeah, they still look very nice.

I got to the campus just after 5pm.  The doors opened at 5:30, so I grabbed some sushi and a Diet Coke, and read some of my current book, The Sea is My Brother by Jack Kerouac.  I went into the theater just after 5:30 pm and got a seat in the 10th row.  This was my view of the Ravens' purple lit stage.

After Loyola President Reverend Brian Linnane took the stage, they changed the colors to Loyola green.  I'm not sure exactly how to refer to the speaker.  He is identified as General Colin L. Powell USA (Ret.) in the program.  However, he could also be identified as former Secretary of State, former Joint Chief of Staff, Four Star General Colin L. Powell USA (Ret.).

General Powell takes the stage to the applause of a boisterous crowd.

General Powell was a great speaker.  Not sure if he writes his own speeches or if he has a great speech writer.  He was very charismatic, filling his speech with humorous anecdotes and poignant stories of overcoming adversities in life.  The General barely made it though school, but with the support of the ROTC, and a highly motivated career in the military, he was able become one of the most, if not the most successful African American to ever come out of the United States Army.

General Powell talked about his quasi-retirement.  Suddenly his limo was gone.  His plane was gone.  His bodyguards were gone.  He said he told his wife that it was going to be wonderful to be home with her every day.  He said she basically gave a 'what the hell' kind of response.  He then went out and got a Corvette.  Needless to say, he got a lot of laughs from the crowd.

General Powell also briefly touched on our current political state in this country.  He said universal healthcare makes sense.  He agrees that what Obama is trying to implement is broken, but we need to fix it and make it work.  There is no getting rid of it.  There are too many people, especially children, without healthcare in this country.  He also said that the infighting in Congress is way out of hand.  In years past, Congress was able to negotiate and compromise.  That spirit of compromise seems to be dead and the fringes of each party are controlling their parties and sticking absolutely to their principals.

As a former Secretary of State, General Powell certainly had his opinions on world affairs, though he admitted that he follows them a lot less today.  He talked of the Arab spring, which seems to be in its third (?) year now.  The foundations for democracy in the Middle East have been laid and we need to allow the citizens of those countries determine what form of democracy works for them.  He admitted that the invasion of Iraq was made with bad information, though he maintains that he has been open about this for a while.  He also said that China is not our enemy.  China and India are possibly the only two countries with the capability of superseding the United States as the world power, and both of those countries are investing in the economy and their people and the United States is key to their growth.

Many of the students sitting around me were taking notes on laptops during the speech.  I wish I would have thought to do that.  I possibly would have remembered more of it.  Regardless, I am happy that I attended and got to listen to this great figure of our generation.  And I wish I would have been able to bring in a real camera. Unfortunately, no real cameras allowed.

See the Interior of the Carrolltown Mall Prior to Demolition

They call me Bond.  James Bond.

Remember when I said I wish I could get inside the mall and get some pictures of what it looks like now?  Yeah, well I did.  All you have to do is ask the right people.

Here is a video I shot from where the food court used to be.  It's a panoramic shot.  Anything look familiar to you?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Little Fall Fishing in Patapsco Valley State Park

It wasn't much of a fishing outing, but it sure was pretty.

I took my son to Patapsco Valley State Park to fish on the Patapsco River as it winds through Carroll, Baltimore, and Howard County.  For this outing, we, meaning I, chose to fish under the Frederick Road bridge just north of I-70.

My son and his friend decided to wade into the shallow water to cast.  We didn't really see many fish.  Perhaps a few blue gills and a couple of carp.  The carp were not interested in anything we offered.  The blue gills are all over the bait like Martin O'Malley over photo-ops.  They never let one pass.

The bridge is actually kind of pretty.  It's an old truss bridge, though recently renovated.

According to the details of this sign adorning the truss on the east-bound side, the bridge is officially called the Patapsco River Bridge and was built in 1934.  I wonder if W.C. Hopkins knew that his bridge would still be standing 79 years later.

Carrolltown Center K-Mart - Demolish Half Complete

I found an excuse to go to the library again today.  My daughter needed to print something for school.  My printer is out of ink, so I could spend $38 to get new ink OR go to the library and print out the pages for 60 cents.

Hard to believe this was a K-Mart.  The demolition seems to be nearly half done.  I would imagine in a day or two the entire backside of the store will be gone.  The demolition crew has also started working on the office areas in the rear of Carrolltown Center, too.

I hope this means that they are recycling the steel.

The demolition crew seems to be hell-bent on demolition.  They even demolished the stop sign!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dollar General Days at Carrolltown Mall

Not sure if the Dollar General store at Carrolltown Mall has closed yet or not, but we were there a couple of weeks ago for some good times.

Is this the greatest thing you have ever seen?  Well, the Ravens winning the Super Bowl again is up there.  But this has got to be in the top 5.

My son's friend told him that he bought 85 packs of gum for 34 cents, so my son said we had to go.

When you arrive there, you see lots of signs in the window.  It's difficult not to notice that they're going out of business.  That is, except for the 'Now Hiring' sign that's in the window.  Are you closing or hiring?  You can't do both.

 While standing in line to pay for our 16 packs of gum that cost 7 cents, my son noticed this sign. You can't even hire people to spell krectly?

Eldersburg K-Mart Demolish Under Way!!!

I'm making it a habit to drive by this mall everyday.  I love to see its slow demolition.  Actually, I'd really like to see its fast demolition, but that would make taking pictures more difficult.

I'm surprised Martin O'Malley isn't all over this.  Seriously, we're moving Maryland forward here.  This is an incredible campaign moment.  Oh, that's right.  He doesn't like Carroll County.  Cuz' we're mostly Republicans.

Are you sad to see the K-Mart go?  Are there any memories that are being demolished with this project?

My best memory of K-Mart was about 8 years ago.  I was caught by one of my neighbors hula-hooping.  I was kicking some serious hula-hooping butt, too.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Carrolltown Cinema Gone!!!

It's been 250 years since it closed.  The last movie that played that the venerable Flagship Cinema at the Carrolltown Mall was Gone With the Wind.  Now it is nothing but a dusty pile of concrete and bricks.

It's been sitting empty for years, but it took only about a week to knock it down.




Now on to the demolition of the former K-Mart.  Wouldn't it be cool to sneak into the mall and take some pictures?  Ghost mall.  Anyone?  Anyone?  I'll accept anonymous pictures.

Funny thing is that nearly every time I stop by to take pictures, there is someone else there celebrating.  Balloons.  Streamers.  Cameras.  Lemonade.  People walking by the demolition have been proudly smiling the biggest smiles seen since the introduction of Viagra.

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