Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Federal Do Not Call Registry - Fact or Fiction?

This is your second and final notice to save money on your credit card bills.

You have been selected to receive a free cruise to the destination of your choice to participating in a short survey.

Our records indicate that your car's warranty will run out soon, so you must act now!

Press 1 to be annoyed by a salesman who can't pronounce your name.

Press 2 to acknowledge that you received this call so that we can sell your phone number to other marketing companies who want to steal your money with fake offers.

Press 3 if your States' Attorney General has no intention of trying to enforce the Federal Do Not Call Registry because it is a useless unenforceable concept.

Press 4 to hear this message in Spanish.

Press 5 if you don't understand what we just said in option 4.

Press 6 repeatedly if you're tired of getting sales calls.

Seriously - is this thing for real or just something to appease the people until they realize that the sales calls will never stop?  If you listen through the call, then speak to a salesperson, as soon as they realize that you're on to them, they hang up on you.  I've even had them hang up on me when I ask a question.

It seems as if Maryland State Attorney General Doug Gansler hasn't done anything about it.  I doubt newly elected Brian Frosch will do anything about it either as he will be too busy trimming his mustache.  If you can't have a Tom Selleck mustache, then you shouldn't have a mustache.

New to Eldersburg - Cigars

It's not exactly new.  It's been open for a few months.  But I'm a really latent blogger, so there you go.  Hard to be relevant when you are finishing your basement by yourself, have a family, a job, and a family, and coach sports, and have a family, and a raging Hot Wheels addiction.

So new to Eldersburg in the Carroll Station shopping plaza is Cigars, which replaced The Silver Blade, which moved to Peddler's Square.  I expect Cigars will compete with Tobacco in the Country Village Shopping Center and the Tobacco Shop in Eldersburg Plaza.

I don't partake in any smoking hobbies, so I won't be going there.  But I do like thriving businesses in Eldersburg.  To success!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Christmas List

I think there is no finer tradition than writing my preposterous Christmas list.  I apologize for being a little late, but there are still some good sales going on, so you may be able to catch a few of these for your favorite blogger.

This item may have been on my list longer than any other, because sadly, no one has gotten it for me yet.  I've been extra good this year.  Hopefully this is the year!  This is a Ferrari 308 GTS.  I'm not too particular about the model year.  Heck, it could even be a 328 GTB.  Either is fine.  Black or red.  But I prefer red, but I'm not going to be too picky.

We've been doing a lot of fishing over the past few years.  We have been humbly casting our lines from the shores around the great state of Maryland, watching with envy as overpaid executives and spendthrifts cruise by on the boating and fishing vessels, silently laughing and mocking the shore casters.  Wouldn't fishing be a lot better in this Top Fish center console fishing boat with 3 Mercury Marine Verado engines?  I promise - if you get this for me, I'll even take you out on it.

This next item is a bit more reasonable.  I used to get this all the time at the Eldersburg Total Discount Liquors,  But now they don't carry it anymore.  And you can't order liquor through the mail in Maryland, because everyone knows kids will by alcohol and get drunk.  Martin O'Malley told me so. This is Kajmir Vanilla Liqueur.

Since we're on the topic of alcohol, my favorite beer has been MIA for several years.  If you can find it, that would be awesome.  This is Tilburg Dutch Brown Ale.  Yummy!

I love photography.  However, my old Nikon D40X has seen better days.  There are minor issues, such as the graphics on the buttons have worn off.  And bigger issues such as focusing and response problems.  What a great opportunity we have here to upgrade to a Nikon D7100.  With this gift from you to me, I'll provide you with endless artistic masterpieces that will entertain you to no end.

This year I'm all about simplicity.  I'm not going to overburden you with an endless list of things that I'd like.  I certainly don't want to come off as greedy.  Hopefully you can find it in your heart to pick up one or two of these.

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Let's Go to a Concert

I've been in a concert mood lately.  In fact, I've bought tickets to at least 5 concerts and one show in the past couple of months.

In October, I bought 2 tickets to the Evil Dead the Musical show at the fabulous Strand in York, Pennsyltucky.  My daughter wanted tickets for her birthday.  We bought the tickets and gave them to her as a present.  She asked who was going to take her to the show.  My wife said, "If you have a boyfriend, then he can take you."  I then responded, "So it sounds like you're going with me."  So needless to say, I took her.  And we had a great time.  The show was hysterical!  Yes, Evil Dead The Musical was a comedy.

Next up was the Mistletoe Meltdown, hosted by 101.9 Lite FM and Mix 106.5.  It featured Ingrid Michaelson, whom I've seen before when she opened for Sheryl Crow; O.A.R., whose full name is Of A Revolution, Daughtry, which spellcheck constantly wants to change to Daughter, and Train.

Ingrid Michaelson was a goofball when I saw her before.  She's the same.  But she's a likeable character.  Her music is folksy and this time I recognized Girls Chase Boys.

I have heard of O.A.R., but I didn't recognize any of their music.  However, I liked their music and have decided that I will acquire some of it soon.  Plus they're local boys.  They're from Rockville.

Next up was Daughtry.  I know he's loud.  But he sang acoustic and wasn't too loud.  I liked his singing, but I thought he was a bit of a dick.  At a concert, people naturally want the singers to sing their favorite songs.  Some fans were shouting out what they wanted to hear.  Daughtry said something like, "you keep interrupting me and I won't be able to sing all of the songs."  Uh......okay.

Finally up was Train.  I know several Train songs and I like them.  Who doesn't like 50 Ways to Say Goodbye?!!  "I got run over by a black and purple Scion!"  I didn't realize how many other songs I knew.  Did you know they sang Calling All Angels?  I also knew Drops of Jupiter and Hey Soul Sister.  And they rocked it.  For the finale, Daughtry came out and Pat Monahan and he sang a cover of Aerosmith's Dream On. That rocked!!!

So that was the Mistletoe Meltdown.  I also bought tickets to see Barry Manilow for my wife; he's her favorite singer.  I also got tickets to see Kenny Chesney and Jake Owen, and finally Nickelback.  Yeah-yeah, I like Nickelback, so shut-up.

I still need to see ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, and Toby Keith.  And Van Halen if they come around again.  Though I've seen them 3 times before.  But I've also seen Barry Manilow three times, so the upcoming show will make 4 and I cannot in good conscience tell people that I've seen Barry Manilow more times than any singer.

So who else have I seen?

The Who was the first concert I ever saw.  I saw them in 1989 at RFK in D.C.  I've seen them twice, though I cannot remember where I saw them the second time.  Maybe the U.S. Air Arena?

I saw Great White, Tesla, and Badlands in Towson.  The highlight of that concert was when the stoned lead singer of Badlands climbed up on top of the speakers, then needed stage hands to bring out a A-frame ladder to get him down.

I saw Van Halen with Alice-In-Chains opening for them at the U.S.Air Arena in Landover, Maryland.  This was the Sammy Hagar era Van Halen.  And it rocked.

I then saw Genesis at RFK.  It was part of Phil Collins "I'm depressed and all these songs suck" era.  

Oh, I forgot that I once saw Little Feat at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina.  38 Special was playing after them, but my college roommate had somewhere to be, so we left before 38 Special played.  Can you believe that???

I saw AC/DC at the Capital Center on the Thunderstruck tour.  That was cool.

In about 1992-ish, I saw Faith No More, Metallica, Guns-N-Roses.  That was a long concert.  But it was awesome.  We got lawn seats, but there were no seats and we had to stand for 9 hours.  We didn't get home until like 3am.  But we did get to see a lot of boobies.  That's pretty cool when you're 20 years old.

I saw Sheryl Crow, Ray Lamontagne, and aforementioned Ingrid Michaelson several years ago.  I blogged about that concert.  You should read this.

I saw Barry Manilow the first time in Salisbury, Maryland.  Why Salisbury?  Rumor is that his boyfriend is from Salisbury.

I saw Barry Manilow at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. the night before he was testifying before the Congress.

I later saw Barry Manilow again at the First Mariner Arena.  I got 6th row center seats for my wife for her birthday.  The upcoming Barry Manilow concert will be at the Verizon Center, so four Barry Manilow concerts at four different venues.

My whole family saw Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, and Jimmy Wayne with special guest John Oates, also at the First Mariner Arena.  That was awesome.  I think that was my first country music concert.

I saw Dierks Bentley again with Miranda Lambert and Thomas Rhett, again at the First Mariner Arena.

I last month my wife and I again saw Dierks Bentley, Randy Howser, and Eric Pasley, at the former First Mariner Arena, now known as the Royal Farms Arena.  That was cool, too.  Not the First Mariner Arena, but the concert.  And yes, I've seen Dierks Bentley as many times as Van Halen, but I like Dierks, so that's okay.

I saw Rush last year, again at the First Mariner Arena.  That concert wasn't all that great.  I can probably rattle off 15 Rush songs,  Yeah, they didn't play those.  They played other songs.  Most of the crowd sat the entire time.  That's not the sign of a good concert.

I also Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd last year, as well.  That was a great concert.  This was down at Jiffy Lube in Virginia.

I also saw Van Halen at the First Mariner Arena when the reunited with David Lee Roth the 8th time.  Not sure who opened for them, but I didn't see them.

I then saw Van Halen again when Kool and the Gang at the Verizon Center.  That was an interesting combination.  It was after the release of the Different Kind of Truth album.

I went to Sunday in the Country at Meriweather Post Pavilion a few years ago.  That was Bucky Covington, Joe Nichols, The Band Perry, Gloriana, Eric Church, and Lady Antebellum. That was a LONG concert, but I enjoyed it. 

Oh, I almost saw INXS in 1991.  I got into an accident on the way there (everyone was fine, but my car insurance went from $1,300 per year to $2,100 per year).  So I guess that one doesn't count.  

I almost saw Hootie and the Blowfish in college, too.  This no-name band was playing at The Money, the college bar across the street.  We went and it was PACKED!!!  We decided not to go there.  Then I saw the same band play on Letterman a few months later, then they got really popular.  Then I learned that they were Hootie and the Blowfish.  Can't believe I didn't see them now!!!

Did I miss any?

Were you at any of these concerts?

Monday, December 01, 2014

November - A Month in Review

November starts with the global All Saints Day holiday.  Bless the saints, and more importantly, I hope they bless us!

The month started off on a sad note as Tom Magliozzi, one of the founders of NPR's car talk, passed away.  This guy was funny.  People don't give NPR enough credit.  There are some good shows on that station and Car Talk was one of them.

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to guide Russia's economy in a downward spiral in his attempt to reclaim his country's rightful position as a super power.  Massive Russian bank debt, economic sanctions for their hostilities against Ukraine, soaring inflation, and Putin's general incompetence are helping to plunge Russia from a 2nd world nation closer to an nuclear armed third world nation.  That's a deadly combination that's almost as volatile as a Mississippi dirt pie in front of Oprah.

Brittany Maynard, the Death with Dignity advocate and brain cancer patient, gained national notoriety when she announced she was going to legally take her life with the assistance of a prescription medication on November 1st.  As the date neared, she cleverly informed the media that she had changed her mind and they went away.  She then went through with her promise.  Sometimes I'm happy that the media is so naive.

Bad news continues to haunt the Baltimore Ravens.  Molly Shattuck, the former Ravens' cheerleader and wife of former Baltimore-based Constellation Energy corporation Mayo Shattuck, has been arrested for sexual contact with a 15 year old boy.  Some people are condemning her deplorable behavior, while others are saying, "Dude, lucky kid!"  They wouldn't be saying that if the child was a girl.  But somehow because it's a boy some people think it's okay.  Mayo Shattuck responded to the media attention by using company resources and parking a dozen or so of the company trucks all along the street so that the media could park their own vehicles.

Republicans clobbered Democrats in the mid-term elections in November.  In perhaps the biggest upset, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown lost his presumed appointed election for Governor to challenger and Republican businessman Larry Hogan, whose father was once a Republican Congressman for Maryland.

Other interesting results are that Republicans took over Governor mansions in deep blue Massachusetts, and traditionally blue Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa, and purple Colorado.  In the Senate, the Republicans took over with key wins in North Carolina and Georgia, subsequently demoting Harry Reid to Senate Minority leader, but not demoting him low enough to match the scheming reprobate that he is.  Republicans also managed to hold onto the House.

Comedian, or is he supposed to be a singer?, Clay Aiken, was one of the big losers in this election cycle, again losing in his bid for a Congressional seat in South Carolina.  His luck may have been better if he was invisible.  Blahahahaha!

In the 'Be Careful What You Ask For" category, former Maryland state delegate and Muslim activist Saqib Ali pushed for Montgomery County Public Schools to recognize Islamic holidays, despite only about 1% of students being Muslim.  Instead of getting what he wanted, he made Facebook's top trending stories list when MCPS stripped everyone of religious holidays.  Now Montgomery County will celebrate Winter Solstice Day, National Fowl Consumption Day, and Rosh Hashanah.

Jose Canceco's finger fell off.  How much more do you need to say?  He accidentally shot it off, the doctors tried to sew it back on, but it fell off during a poker game, which explains it all.  We expect within the next few months his head will fall off.

Continuing with crazy celebrities, famous for no other reason than for being famous Kim Kardashian tried to break the Internet when she released naked doctored photos of herself.  It's obvious that the photos have been modified as her waste is a svelte 15 inches and her ass a voluptuous 72 inches.  Incredibly, she has a perfect golden shiny moist tan and no stretch marks from giving birth.  It didn't take long before the "gotta see it like a train wreck picture" of her full frontal hairless body was released.  Later in the month another picture of her ass was released, however this one looked like husband Kanye West.

Click here to see a totally naked picture of Kim.

Bill Cosby, the 77 year old comedian known for The Cosby Show and Fat Albert, became embroiled in controversy in November in what may become known as the Jell-O pudding scandal.  He's been accused by 157 women of "pudding" his dick in their vagina when they didn't want him to.  Is America's favorite ugly-sweater dad a sexual predator?  I expect the indictment to go like this: "I want......to tell you......a story.  heh-heh-hehhhhh!!!"

Tensions were high in Ferguson, Missouri when a grand jury failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown.  Mass hysteria erupted on Facebook praising love and remembrance to Mr. Brown, who struggled with Officer Wilson while being arrested, then Brown tried to grab the officer's gun, who then got into a position to defend himself and shot the teen.  Apparently a LOT of people think that police officers should not defend themselves when suspects try to take their service revolver.  More hysteria erupted in Ferguson where protesters decided that the best civic protest would be to burn down their town, burn down the places where they work, menace anyone that came across their path, and to destroy everyone else's personal property.  Protesters got even more upset when the police moved in to try to restore order.

In space news, the European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet.  This led to a viral hashtag-posting of #WeCanLandOnACometButWeCant.....  There were such whimsical responses such as:
      convince the self-checkout machine there's nothing unexpected in the bagging area”
get Justin Bieber deported.
Stop feminist double standards
feed the homeless in a park without getting arrested.
stop talking about Kim Kardashian's moon.
get a vending machine to accept a wrinkled dollar bill.
find that malaysian airline plane and the 227 people that were on it
believe it's not butter
get Chic-Fil-A on Sundays
get a nicely cooked steak at Golden Corral.
tell the difference between "your" and "you're"
insert a USB properly without flipping it 3 times.
turn earth back to how it was in the beginning, a cube filled with screaming red skeletons

The world's most famous crack cocaine addict, former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry, passed away in November.  The mayor coined the phrase, "Bitch set me up...I shouldn't have come up here...goddamn bitch", which is now widely used in preteen shows on MTV.

In the "Holy Shit, I Can't Believe It" category, Sesame Street's Ernie got a colonoscopy on a live episode of Conan O'Brien.  They reasoned this medical procedure on a character from a children's show with the fact that Ernie is now 45 years old and needs to start getting regular colonoscopies.  Results show that his ass is filled with cotton and fabric.

Thanksgiving was on the last Thursday of the month, just like it is every year, except in Cleveland, where it is on the 3rd Thursday for years that are divisible by 13.  And like every year, what most people look forward to at Thanksgiving are the Black Friday sales.  This year's sales seemed to be uneventful, with sales down 11% compared to last year.  Apparently people are learning that getting a cheap-ass HD television for $35 is worth getting a television for $35.  Plus, stores are now open all day on Thanksgiving and the sales start on Wednesday, so what's the point?

What's a Black Friday without a stampede at Wal-Mart or a shooting at Nordstrom's?  Chicago, the city that bans guns from everyone except criminals, saw a shopper get murdered in the prestigious anchor store when a gunman went crazy.  In other Black Friday news, a fight broke out in Norwalk over a Barbie at a Wal-Mart, 3 were arrested at a Kohl's in Ocean City, Maryland, and a fight in Annapolis Mall caused widespread panic and pandemonium.  Go here to get all the news on Black Friday fights.

Travelers who called ahead to their airline in Chicago were greeted with tips to arrive 85 hours prior to their flight.  In spite of the generous advice, lines to get through security at Midway Airport were estimated to stretch for 1.2 miles.

November 30th marks the end of No Shave November, or Mowvember.  Thank God, that's over.  I hate people that look like bums.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

More Proof that Nancy Pelosi is Either an Idiot or a Liar

Jonathan Gruber is making news by basically saying that Obamacare got passed because the American people are idiots and the government intentionally withheld the truth.

So watch this first:

Now watch this:

Politicians really hope that Americans are stupid.  Too bad that they forget that the Internet exists and people record and archive everything they say.

Too Many Wires in Eldersburg

Have you ever noticed how many wires are strung from pole to pole around Eldersburg?  This is mainly evident down the Route 26 and Route 32 corridor. This seems a bit crazy to me.

Here is the intersection of Route 32 and 26 in front of the Exxon station.  I count 31 wires.  I think there are enough wires strung across the road to stop a moving ship. Perhaps there should be a project to start burying our wires.  They are as unsightly as the DVD cover of any Melissa McCarthy movie.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Anthony Brown - What's Next?

As much as I've bashed New York-born Anthony Brown over the years, I do feel bad for him.  Let's consider the facts.

Anthony Brown served in the military, rising to the rank of colonel and serving in Iraq.  I have a lot of respect for people that served in the military and sacrificed a part of their life, giving up time with their families, their jobs, and life as they know it.  I can't imagine what soldiers goes through to make the sacrifices they make.  However, in the end, an impeccable military record does not qualify you to be a governor.

In 1998, Anthony Brown started serving in the Maryland House of Delegates representing Prince George's County.  Delegate Brown then gave up a safe seat and perhaps an opportunity to rise to the Maryland Senate in order to run as Martin O'Malley's Lieutenant Governor, which at the time was not a sure thing.  Fortunately for Brown, O'Malley won, then won again.  I think Brown dutifully served Martin O'Malley for those 8 years, even if I totally disagree with the direction they took this state and the changes they made.  However, in the end, dutifully serving a governor does not qualify you to be the governor.

Near the end of this second term, Brown most likely became the fall guy for the failed Maryland Health Exchange.  The "state" used over $200 million of taxpayer money to create a website that didn't work.  They then had to buy another website for God-knows how much more money.  Brown put his name on the project, but I honestly don't think he actually did anything other than promote it.  He certainly would have taken credit had it been a raging success. Howeer, it was an abominable failure, therefor he gets credit for that outcome, too.

Now Anthony Brown is out of a job, as far as I know.  Will he go back to a lesser political job?  Will he get his first job (?) in the private sector?  Will he become a lobbyist?  Perhaps he'll be O'Malley's campaign manager.  The future may be unclear for the Lt. Governor, but in the end I'm glad he's not going to be our governor.

That Old Abandoned Farm House Revisited

Three years ago I wrote a post about the old farm house owned by the Patton family on the farm just prior to crossing the Morgan Run bridge at the Liberty Reservoir.  The house has not been renovated.  It continues to get more run-down.  The only thing that really changed is that the tree in the front yard fell during a storm. I think the owners are waiting for the house to also fall down so that they can sell the land for billions of dollars.

Here's what the house looked like 3 years ago.  What do you think of abandoned properties like this?  What do you think should be done?  Anything?

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Martin O'Malley - What's Next?

In the wake of the 2014 election, many are wondering what is going to happen next with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.  Republican Larry Hogan defeated heir apparent Anthony Brown, the current Lt. Governor.  Now that O'Malley is a true lame duck, what next?

It was thought by many that O'Malley was building a new Democratic machine that would promote the policies he established and continue Maryland down his road of liberal ideology for many generations to come.  Anthony Brown has been his puppet-in-training for many years and he would continue without missing a beat, through with fewer strings.  Then Ken Ulman would follow after that.  However, Marylanders solidly rejected another 4 years of higher taxes, anti-Constitution, and anti-business climate.  And did you know that no Lt. Governor in Maryland has ever been elected as Governor?  It's true!

Martin O'Malley being a dork.

Martin O'Malley was going to run for President. Heck, he may still run, but he's got his problems.  He repeatedly comes in 5th places in name recognition polls for candidates for the Democrat ticker.  He's been selling himself as the sole leader that can ambiguously move everything forward. Remember when he made an ass of himself at the 2012 Democratic National Convention?  "Move...?" and the crowd was supposed to yell, "Forward!", but most of them had no idea where he was going with that. The Maryland delegation tried to lead the chant, but it was so awkward that it eventually petered out.

Now, how can O'Malley sell his celebrity and success if his successor couldn't even get elected?  "Hi, I'm the guy whose policies were rejected by the electorate and the guy who was going to continue my legacy is now unemployed."  That's not a great campaign slogan.

And the best part is, the Presidential election is in 2016.  O'Malley is out of Annapolis in January of 2015.  He'd have to run for President as a civilian, though at this point, so would Hillary Clinton.  But that's another point - what Democrat would vote for O'Malley when they could vote for another Clinton?  What's Marty going to do between now and then?  Campaign?  He can't do it on the Maryland tax-payer's dime anymore.  That's right - all those trips he's been taking - you and I paid for those.  Will he get a no-show job that can fund him for a year and a half so he can prance around Iowa and New Hampshire at every backyard barbecue and Democratic award ceremony?

And the most important question of all - what happens if O'Malley fades off into oblivion?  Will I be forced to shut down this blog and start a new one?  I'd be more than happy to do that!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Harvest Inn Getting New Parking Lot

The first restaurant I ever visited when I moved to Eldersburg 15 1/2 years ago is getting a new parking lot.  The age-old over-sized brown Harvest Inn, after years of decay, is getting new curbs, new sidewalks, and a resurfaced parking lot.

I think it's also worth noting that my first visit to the Harvest Inn was also my last.  I thought the food sucked.  The service definitely sucked.  It could have been a fluke.  I hear the breakfast is great, but once you've had a bad experience, it's difficult to convince someone to try again.

If anything else, at least the parking lot will be less of an eyesore.

Election Results - The Breakdown

Unless you've been watching a Honey-Boo-Boo marathon, you know that there was an overwhelming Republican clobbering of Democrats across the country.

Perhaps the biggest surprise (to some, but not all) was Republican businessman Larry Hogan's defeat of Lt. Governor Anthony Brown to succeed outgoing (thank God!) Governor Martin O'Malley.  Honestly, I thought the election would be close, but I was convinced that Anthony Brown would pull out the win.  Late season polls indicated that Brown's lead was somewhere between 2-9%, though a poll commissioned by Hogan indicated that the race was dead even.  Brown dismissed the poll because Larry paid for it.  End result - EVERYONE was wrong.  Not only did Anthony Brown lose, but he lost Big Time Rush.  I've never been happier to be wrong.

Larry Hogan got in the lead with about 15% of the precincts reporting.  Conservatives across the state muddled around waiting for the other shoe to fall and for Brown to take the commanding lead.  And they waited.  And waited.  And that moment never came.  After midnight it was clear that Hogan was going to win.  WBAL's reporting showed the Brown headquarters filled with morose lethargic followers.  The Hogan headquarters, on the other hand, was handing out alcohol and jubilantly celebrating and singing and jamming to the music as if the Berlin Wall just fell.

Larry Hogan speaking at a rally on Sunday November 2nd, 2014.

So how did Hogan win?  Here are some numbers.

Without absentee ballots, Hogan received 51.48% of the votes, while Brown only got 46.82%.

Hogan's largest margin of victory was in Carroll County (no surprise there).  He received 82.41% to Brown's 15.88%.  The Brown voters in Carroll County are currently being rounded up and sent to reeducation camps.

The closest contest for Governor was in Howard County where Hogan won 51.74% - 46.5%.  There Hogan won by 5,000 votes in blue Howard County.  Wow!!!

Blue-leaning Charles and Somerset Counties all went to Hogan, as did purple Baltimore County and Frederick County.  In fact, Brown only carried Montgomery County, Prince George's County, and Baltimore City.

Of Brown's 3 victories, his largest margin of victory was in his front yard of Prince George's County where he got 84.35% to Hogan's 14.76%.

In his backyard of Montgomery County, the most populous county in Maryland, Brown won, but Hogan got almost 40% of the vote, which is HUGE!!!  That's 90,000 votes to Hogan from Montgomery County alone.  In fact, Hogan's votes from Montgomery County are the 3rd most votes by county after Baltimore County (150,000 votes) and Anne Arundel County (114,000).  So in a manner of speaking, Montgomery County put Larry Hogan in the Governor's mansion.

Outside of the governor's race, the next most interesting race was in the redrawn Maryland 6th Congressional district where Democratic incumbent John Delaney is on edge with his battle with perennial Republican challenger Dan Bongino. Without absentee ballots, Delaney leads 49.59% to 48.39%, separated by a mere 2,160 votes.  If Delaney ends up winning, this should be a clear message to him that he needs to vote closer to the center than with the hard left-wing extremists like Nancy Pelosi.  I don't think the good folks of Western Maryland want to be represented by the fringes of the despotic left.

Another interesting race was for the County Commissioner of Howard County, the seat being vacated by the jeans & sneakers wearing Ken Ulman, who boldly decided to go with Brown on the gubernatorial ticket.  Legendary State Senator Allen Kittleman faced local mom Courtney Watson.  I think any other year this would have been a cakewalk for Mrs. Watson, but in this year of voter rebellion,  Kittleman came out on top, but barely.  I've known and watched Kittleman for almost 10 years.  He definitely thinks and votes right down the middle.  He reminds me a lot of Eisenhower.  Unfortunately in politics, the middle road is the road less taken.  I think Kittleman will do a fine job in Howard County and I hope the good residents there will reward him.

In Maryland's gerrymandered 8th district, which snakes through 45 counties and down some alleys, Montgomery County incumbent Chris Van Hollen won, though by a much smaller margin than most anticipated.  The 55 year old who was born in Pakistan had his closest battle since 2002 when he faced a newly redrawn district against Republican incumbent Connie Morrella.  Challenger Dave Wallace received almost 40% of the vote to Van Hollen's 60.1%.  This is the 4th consecutive election where Van Hollen has seen a reduction in his percentage of votes.  If all goes well, in 3 or 4 more elections he can finally be defeated.

I think the remaining elections across the state ended as expected.  Racist Steny Hoyer handily beat Chris Chaffee.  Just Call Me Dutch Ruppersberger defeated David Branch.  The other results were boring.

What do you think about the election results in Maryland?  Any race in particular worth noting?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Carroll County Board of Education Candidates

Election day is around the corner.  If you're like me, you're interested in the national candidates and the state level candidates, but once you get to the local candidates, you know nothing about them. Here's some information that may pursuade you to vote one way or the other.

For those of us with children in school, you know that 10 x 15 is not 150.  This answer is wrong.  You need to go through the chimney method, the grouping, and the rounding, and 17 other steps until you can get to the correct answer.  Memorization of number facts is vigorously discouraged.  Why?  Because that's how common core math is taught.

Here are you candidates for Carroll County Board of Education and where they stand with Common Core:

FOR  COMMON  CORE: Virginia  Harrison, Bob Lord and Devon Rothschild

AGAINST  COMMON CORE: George Harmening, Charles "Bud" Nason and James Roenick

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Maryland's Transportation Bucket List - Part 1

Here is a great example to prove that I do not tow the Republican Party line.  It seems as if Republicans want to pull the plug on all public transportation projects and focus on building wider roads and more roads to eliviate the traffic problems that are plaguing the Baltimore and Washington suburbs.  I think Maryland should actually be investing in more public transportation.

When you think of the great cities of the world, you think of New York City, London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Washington, D.C., and Cleveland.  What do these cities all have in common?  They have excellent public transportation systems.

In Baltimore, we have a disjointed collection of transportation options.  There is the light rail system (commonly referred to as the Fright Rail) that runs north and south with a key connection at the airport with the longest name in history, the Thurgood Marshall Friendship Baltimore Washington International Airport.  Then there is the Metro subway, also known as the Mugger Mover, which runs from the northwest corner of the suburbs to the business center and mysteriously ends at Johns Hopkins Hospital with no other throughput to another side of the metropolitan area.

Baltimore also boasts MTA commuter buses that scurry city-fearing suburbanites from their offices jobs to their cozy colonials on cul-de-sacs.  And then there are the ever-present MTA buses that run the routes throughout the city.

Baltimore subway train in Owings Mills, MD at I-795

I'm not as familiar with all of the transportation options in the D.C. suburbs, but who can argue with the D.C. Metro with its maze of blue, green, orange, red, silver, and yellow lines that criss-cross the entire metro area through 2 states and the District?  It's the second busiest subway system in the United States with over 270 million riders annually.  This compares to 15 million riders of Baltimore's single subway line.

So where do we need improvements?  Everyone will holler that they don't want public transportation near their house.  People will rob us and commute back to the city.  Well, there is some truth to that, but I think you need to balance that with managing transportation.

Let's start with Baltimore.  The existing subway line needs to be extended to the northeast suburbs.  I think that's a no-brainer.  By extending the line, two sections of the county can benefit from a lot of the existing infrastructure.

Baltimore's Light Rail train near Camden Yards.

Then there is the infamous Red Line that has been proposed for several generations.  I even recall Martin O'Malley blithering that this will not be 'your father's light rail'.  Why are we building another light rail?  The light rail mucks up the existing traffic infrastructure in the city.  Ever been on Pratt Street when a light rail car is going by?  Traffic's already backed up for blocks and now you have to wait for the train.  Additionally, O'Malley has suggested a new type of train.  Why are we targeting ANOTHER type of train?  That would create a 5th type of train in the state, if you don't include the proposed D.C. purple light rail line.  These trains are all incompatible.  Shouldn't we be pursuing some sort of economies of scale?  Buy more of the same thing and you get a better deal.  Buy 5 different things that don't operate together and the taxpayers pay more money.  That's not investing in the future.  That's wasteful spending.

For those of you trying to figure out the 5 different rail lines, 1) Baltimore metro heavy rail, 2) MARC train & Amtrak, 3) Baltimore light rail, 4) D.C. Metro, and 5) Baltimore Red Line light rail.  That's just stupid! Make the Red Line a subway that actually connects with the existing subway line and have it snake through the city and dump out either in East Point or go all the way to White Marsh. I used to live in Bel Air, so I know what I-95 is like at White Marsh.

Here's another crazy idea.  Figure out how to connect the existing Baltimore Light rail to the existing Baltimore Subway.  Nutty, right?  Connect that with the new Red Line Subway and now you have a useful transportation system in Baltimore.  Let's not keep pushing for a transportation system that looks like it was developed by a politician.

In Washington, the politicians (here they go again) are pushing for an incompatible Purple Line that will snake down congested streets.  They plan to solve the congestion by removing existing lanes of traffic and planting a big lumbering train in the middle of it.  Problem solved bureaucracy-style!

Wouldn't it be great if there was a subway line that traversed the D.C. Beltway?  With the current grid, you have to go into the city, then come back out to get to another part of the suburbs. Tie the suburbs together with a big loop!  Please let me know where I can pick up my award for that idea.

That is my rail transportation pontification.  Stay tuned for my highway spiel.  This may come as a surprise, but I'm in favor of the middle ground more often than you think!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eldersburg Big Lots - CLOSED!!!!

The day has finally come!  I drove by Big Lots the other day and noticed that there were no cars in the parking lot.  On my way back I pulled up to the door, looked into the empty building to confirm my findings and found a note on the door.

Here's the note.  Let the celebration begin!

Eldersburg Shell Station - Your To-Do List

I mentioned to a neighbor something about the Shell station recently and she was perplexed. "The Shell station?"  You know, the one that was a Texaco and prior to that it was a Crown station?  Now it makes sense.

When we first moved to Eldersburg in 1999, the gas station at the corner of Ridge Road and Liberty Road was a Crown station, one of two in town.  The other was at the corner of Route 32 and Route 26 where the WalGreens is now.

Crown stations used to be known for their water fountains.  The water fountain has not worked since we've lived here.  And since it has changed hands several times, some people may not even know that it's even there.  All they see is a big jungle of overgrown bushes and weeds.

This is craziness!  Yes, there is the foundation of an old fountain under this mess.

So I'm calling out the owners of the Shell gas station, HJR Benson Venture, LLC, located at 2700 Loch Raven Boulevard in Baltimore.  You need to do something about this mess because now only is it an eyesore, but this is a symbol of apathy and laziness on your part, and an embarrassment on ours.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Coming to Eldersburg - CVS

I've probably mentioned this before, but I now follow this construction bid website and I found that they are seeking bids for a free-standing CVS, presumably next to the Chick-Fil-A on Route 32 in Eldersburg.

Here is the presumed site of the future free-standing CVS that will be nearly impossible to get in and out of.

This is the CVS in the Eldersburg Plaza which I would assume will close when the new CVS opens.  This would make the perfect spot for a nail salon or a bigger J&Y Tokyo Market.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Wings of Freedom - the Birds and the B-17s

I love history and I love airplanes.  When I read that the planes of the Wings of Freedom were going to be at the Carroll County Regional Airport, or the Westminster Airport as we know it, I knew I had to go.

I read that a B-17 Flying Fortress, a B-24 Liberator, and a P-51 Mustang were going to be there.  Saturday ended up being a grey chilly morning.  The sun was losing its battle with the clouds, but the sky was still bright.

When I arrived, there were no planes on the tarmac, but plenty of tents and guys dressed up in period costumes.  I overheard that the B-17 was on its way back from a round-trip to Gettysburg.

I waited only a few minutes when I heard a child cry, "There it is!"  I turned with equal excitement and saw the B-17 piercing through the low-lying clouds with its recognizable rumble of its four piston engines, landing gears dropped.

Unlike the smooth and deliberate landings of today's jet aircraft, the B-17 slowly lumbered down the runway, resisting the temptation to reduce its speed, thrusting forward until its momentum lost its battle with gravity, pushing its tail to the ground.

Once on the ground, the B-17 taxied down the runway with a commanding presence, its four loud engines with its rotating blades spewing blue and grey smoke, filling the air with the wonderfully strong scent of burning oil and fuel.

The taxiing B-17 rotated back and forth from its rear as it steered along the tarmac, lacking the maneuverability of the tricycle landing gears of newer planes.

Once in place, the pilot shut down the beast, bringing the engines to their peaceful state with its propeller blades in their symmetrical alignment.  The heart-pounding thunder of the engines gave way to silence only to be interrupted by the sudden cheers and huzzahs of the awaiting crowd.

Once up close, I felt as if I was absorbed in its history.  This plane could have flown missions over France, Belgium, perhaps all the way to Berlin and back while its pilots shivered from fear and cold.  The ball-turret hung from the belly of the plane.  A round metal tomb mounted to the plane with gears and tracks, the ball turret and its guns were there to protect the plane, its pilots, and the mission.

The front of the plane, with its angry windows, proudly struts its nose into the air with its wings confidently behind it.  It's decorated with nose art, painted bombs representing its missions, and swastikas showing the downed victims of the guns of their fortress.

I climbed my way into the plane through an undersized opening under the nose of the plane.  I poked my head up into the cockpit, much smaller than I anticipated.  The cockpit shaped by the heroic imagery of Hollywood was replaced by the crammed and uncomfortable metal seats, controls, and knobs of a small control center.

Under the cockpit is the nose gunner, his world being a big round window giving him the ability to see the world coming toward him.  He's tasked with protecting the plane from the forward position.  Its wide expanses allow a short man to kneel and almost touch floor to ceiling.

I turn toward the back of the plane and find the bomb bay doors lying beneath a rack of bombs, the main package being delivered to the enemy.  The passage to the belly of the plane is narrow and the sideways-stepping passenger is supported by only a thin metal plank.

"Pilot to navigator."  No World War II movie with bombers is complete without this trite, melodramatic, and unused phrase.  "Hey, Billy.  How much farther?" is a much more likely statement to be heard from the cockpit.

The B-17 was known as the flying fortress.  The plane was protected with a nose gunner, a top turret gunner, a ball turret gunner, two waist gunners, and a tail gunner.  No matter which way an enemy tried to penetrate the space of the plane, it would be repelled by the stinging hornets fired from the fortress guns.  

The tail gunner was a lonely man.  Not only did he need to crawl to his position on his hands and knees, he worked alone looking only at where they've been.

I spoke to one of the members of the Wings of Freedom about the B-17.  I asked him about the bombs painted on the side of the plane.  This one had over 100.  He said this plane was actually built right at the end of the war and never saw action.  It was later used for some testing, military air transport, and eventually found its way to into a state fire-fighting unit.  The plane was later bought by the Collings Foundation and restored to look like the B-17G Nine-O-Nine.  The original Nine-O-Nine flew 132 missions.  I asked how that compared to the Memphis Belle, which I knew (thought I knew) to be the first B-17 to fly the required 25 missions that allowed its pilots to seek refuge back in the safety of the United States while they sold war bonds.  However, I was informed that the first plane to accomplish this feat was a plane called Raging Bitch.  The military thought the name inappropriate as its image of war celebrity and sought  a more politically correct champion.  Thus, the Memphis Belle won the accolade.  

I was disheartened to learn that the B-24 Liberator had to make a detour to New Jersey for some repair work, though we were granted a 50% discount on our $12 admission price.  However, a P-51 Mustang came out of hibernation from a nearby hanger.

This is an earlier model Mustang lacking the distinguishing bubble canopy.  The plane was set apart by its squared-off wings, tail fin, and elevators, four prop propeller, and its underbelly air scoop for cooling the engine.

 By the time I got to the P-51, I had lost a lot of the emotional thrill from these historic relics.  I was at history overload.  We weren't able to climb up on the Mustang, or sit in its cockpit, or fire its Browning machine guns - can you believe that?

The most fascinating fact I learned about the P-51G was that a 2-seater was built and flown over the beaches of France on D-Day carrying the invasions' orchestrator, Dwight Eisenhower, the future President of the United States.  He directed operations from thousands of feet in the air looking down as our men landed on the beach and stormed up the banks and into France.

Sadly, there are very few of these planes left in the world.  I was excited that I got to spend some time seeing this planes, touching them, and imaging myself being there when they were the symbols of our military strength.  Apparently the Wings of Freedom come to Westminster, Maryland every year.  I hope to make this trip again next year and meet the B-24.  I hope you can make it, too.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Closed in Eldersburg - Citgo Gas at 7-11

You're probably saying, "Where is a Citgo gas station in Eldersburg?"  I would certainly think the same thing. 

If you frequent the 7-11 on Liberty Road, you may have noticed the gas pumps that no one uses on the left side, except perhaps the occasional lost tourist.  Well, those pumps are gone.  They were removed a couple of weeks ago along with the underground storage tanks.  The hole was filled with junk such as Anthony Brown's campaign commercials and the surface has been repaved and it is now all but a memory.  Hopefully, Anthony Brown's gubernatorial aspirations will be all but a memory soon, too.

Brown Versus Hogan!

If you know your history, then this is funny.  I hope it turns out to be true.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

September - A Month In Review

11 commercial jets went missing from Libya this month and very little was mentioned on the left-wing news channels.  Reports indicate that Islamic Militants may have seized the planes.  While CNN went on for hours and hours for a month about a missing Malaysian jet, there is zero mention of the 11 planes from Libya.

Beloved comedian Joan Rivers passed away several days after a medical procedure.  The procedure ended up being to repair her vocal chords, not to slide her eyeballs further to the side of her head as everyone suspected.

Baltimore Raven's running back was released by the team after video, which everyone knew existed, was released by TMZ, the official muckraking organization of our times.  The NFL followed up by suspending Rice indefinitely, and Roger Goodell dressing up in a WWII German prison guard uniform pretending he knew nothing, NOTHING!

Apple made it's annual big announcement about new products, this time being the new iPhone 6, which comes standard with a higher price tag, and a watch.  The Apple lemmings will be lined up for hours to buy a watch that can't get wet, is subject to shattering, and will have an ever increasing battery drain over time.  The new iPhone 6, meanwhile, has a new big screen, just like the Samsung Galaxy, withe several fewer features than what the Samsung Galaxy provided a couple of years ago.  Apple users should look to the new Samsung Galaxy to see what they should expect in their new over-priced iPhone 7 in 4 years.

James Bond villain Jaws, otherwise known as Richard Kiel, passed away at the age of 74.  He'll be buried with his metal teeth biting through a gondola cable.

The Discovery Channel announced that it was going to air a show called Rival Survival, where 2 U.S. Senators are stranded on an island and have to work together and live off of the land and sea.  If the show is successful, Discovery Channel hopes to air a sequel called Good Riddance where all members of Congress are put on the island indefinitely while the rest of the country celebrates.

Baltimore continued to make the news in September when former slugger Chris Davis tested positive for amphetamines.  This is his second positive test and it resulted in a 25 game suspension.  Davis claims it's from his ADHD medicine.  Fortunately for the Baltimore Orioles, they are playoff bound and Davis will be eligible to return to the team by their 9th playoff game.  If Davis was on the Phillies, he'd be looking at April before he could return to playing.

Not wanting to lose all the attention to Ray Rice, Minnesota Vikings premier running back Adrian Peterson beat the shit out of a child, resulting in felony injury to a child.  How is this different from child abuse?  I don't know.  Now everyone is wondering if he'll get an indefinite ban from the NFL, or will his punishment be less because he only beat a child and Peterson is a much better running back.

In Baltimore, city police officer Vincent Cosom was placed on administrative leave when video surfaced of him beating Ray Rice's fiance'.  However, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts traded videos with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and found that officer Cosom was actually beating a detained troublemaker.

Embattled Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis made the news again in September while shirking allegations of using amphetamines while simultaneously flipping over a vehicle that was involved in a traffic accident.  Other reports indicate that he stopped a speeding bullet and leaped over a tall building in a single bound.

A report was leaked about the unidentified doctor who performed the vocal chord procedure on Joan Rivers prior to her death.  Apparently he took a selfie of himself and the anesthetized octogenarian.  Look on the positive side - he didn't twerk her.

The Atlanta Braves announced the name of their new stadium that will replace the decrepit 18 year old relic in which they currently play.  Turner Field was constructed way back during the Clinton Administration, certainly valid justification for a new $400 million taxpayer funded stadium for a billion dollar organization.  Oh, the new name will be Screw the Taxpayers Stadium.

Former Tennessee Titans kicker and son-in-law of NFL legend Terry Bradshaw was killed in a vehicle accident. 

Apple backtracked on a publicity stunt gone awry.  Millions of teenagers were outraged when they determined that some irrelevant band from the 80's named U2 hacked their iTunes accounts and filled it with crappy music.  Apparently not every generation is full of lemmings that adhere to what they are told is good music.

Two container ships collided in the Suez canal.  The captain of  Singaporean-flagged Maersk Tanjong 107,000 DWT German-flagged MV Colombo Express claimed that the other 107,000 DWT German-flagged MV Colombo Express came flying out of nowhere at over 8 knots and slammed into the side of it, causing 3 containers to go flying off into the water.  This dramatic 5 minute long collision was caught on film.  No, it's not in slow motion.

The dreaded ebola virus made it's premier in the United States during the last week of September.  The flesh-eating virus was scheduled to appear at the Dallas Theater on Thursday and move to  Houston's Wortham Center over the weekend, with thousands more shows over the next few weeks.

Baltimore native and world-renowned Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps hooked up an IV full of booze and drive 85 mph down I-95 in a 45 mph zone, unaware that doing this a second time would be a bad idea.  He made an announcement that he was going to take a break from swimming to concentrate on his drinking.  Or was it to concentrate on fixing his drinking problem?  Oh, whatever.  One and the same.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Calvert Cliffs Fishing Report

In our quest to fish in every county in Maryland this year, a quest that we are starting to realize it a bit out of our grasp, we fished fished in Calvert and St. Mary's County.  I figured if we went down to Solomon's Island, we could knock out 2 counties fairly easily.

Through a heavy layer of fog, we drove down Route 4 through Anne Arundel County and into Calvert County.  I haven't been this way in a while and this area is definitely losing it's Southern charm.  Farmer fields are being replaced with track housing and Dunkin Donuts, and even worse....McDonald's.  Going or gone are the mom and pop shops.  Coming are the franchised outlets of the mega corporations where no one gets ahead in life.

So, as I was saying, we stopped at a little boat ramp off of the highway just under the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge.  Do you know who Governor Thomas Johnson was?  He was the first Governor of Maryland.  Legend has it that someone asked him about taxing the rain and he died laughing.

There was a modest fishing pier jutting out into the Patuxant River.  We set up camp and cast our lines and waited.  Then we waited.  After that, we waited some more.  No fish.  Actually, my son caught an emerald shiner, but that's nothing to put in the record book.  After about an hour we were ready to throw in the towel and head to another destination.

My son and his friend wanted to go to Calvert Cliffs and fish, but I thought if we went there first, we'd never get to St. Mary's County, so I decided to go to Greenwell State Park on the other side of the river and a few miles upstream.

Greenwell State Park isn't much of a park.  It's more of a historic farm with some shoreline.  We took a short hike down the hill to this spot and parked ourselves.  Well, actually, I parked myself in a chair and continued reading Truman by David McCulloch while the boys fished.  My snagged a bunker and his friend caught some small white perch.

After an hour and a half there, we decided to leave and get some lunch, then head to....Calvert Cliffs.

Calvert Cliffs State Park was $5 to get in (I think).  The parking lot was right off of Route 4.  The park ranger asked if we were salt water fishing or fresh water fishing.  Unsure where she was going with that, I said we had hoped to go salt water fishing.  She said that the pond is fresh water and pointed to the pond next to the parking lot and informed us the salt water fishing was at the end of the trail, which was 1.8 miles long.  Good grief! Pack light, boys!

The boys wanted to fish in the pond for a little bit.  There was a decent sized large mouth bass within reach, but it was not interested in anything.  They had more fun antagonizing a northern water snake in the water.

Finally we began our trek down the trail.  1.8 miles.  It was an easy walk along a meandering creek that dumped into swamp land.  We found this creative use of a felled tree and we each took a turn getting our picture taken in it.

Once at the end, I quickly thought that it had an amazing similarity to Westmoreland Park in Virginia.

These are the fabled cliffs with fossils and sharks' teeth.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find any.

This is looking north.

Oh, the fishing.  A guy that we befriended on the beach had caught 5 blue fish, 3 of which were over 14 inches.  We caught several spot and white perch.  Nothing amazing, but enough fish to keep us satisfied.  My son actually said he wants to go back there and spend the whole day fishing at Calvert Cliffs.  When my son says he likes something, it's a victory.
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