Greetings from Kansas. Well, about 36,000 feet over Kansas. Writing thanks to the magic of Southwest Airlines' in-flight Wifi. Still not sure it's worth $8 for the day, but for a transcontinental flight, maybe.
Things have been good since departing BWI. Aside from the typical aggravations you associate with air travel. One I brought upon myself, as I had to depart with my beloved Swiss Army keyring knife in the GTSA line. Should've thought to leave that at home. But it is the gift giving season!
And the flight so far has been OK. The guy in front of me is watching college football on his tablet and is acting like he in his favorite recliner at home. There are two kids and I think their grandmother behind me. The kids' constant kicking the back of my seat is keeping me from taking a nap, but I still have over three hours of flight to go so I am going to try again. So some annoyances but yet some learning. For example I know now why people use tablets. So many people are using the WiFi on these things. Must investigate upon return.
Some other observations. This is the first flight I've ever been on with an all-male flight crew! Four male flight attendants. And Southwest is doing well on the freebies-- two rounds of beverages (tonic water, thanks) and one round of free snacks. Peanuts come 13 to a package. Better for me than the 4 mini Oreos or two Lorna Doones.
This plane stops in San Diego and then the flight continues to San Francisco. Then to get the rental car and to head to Oakland.
Do I look like I'm having fun? At least I'm not at the strip malls.
So today is the day! I head out for six days of fun in the northern California sun, returning on Thursday. Was up late last night at the Ravens game (which in SO much more justifiable when the Ravens win) and in about three hours will be out the door and off to the airport.
This is my first vacation away from the friendly Baltimore-Washington megaopolis since a trip to Las Vegas in August of 2011.
I am hoping to capture moments during the trip through the various social media outlets, especially Twitter and Vine, during the travel. Look for posts which feature the appropriate linkage!
Is it too early to ask for TypePad to give me a good mobile app for Christmas?
Happy Black Friday! Let's be careful out there.
Even though it's a short holiday week, the news in Maryland and the HoCo rolls on. So let's take a look around and see what we see?
Looks like there's going to be another Republican hat in the ring in the Governor's race. Larry Hogan took a Maryland Repuiblican Party convention as an opportunity to announce that he's intending to run for Governor, and that he'll be announcing in January. I guess some are annoyed that he showed up, bombed the convention, and just announced. I don't see a problem, because otherwise I doubt much state newsworthy would have happened at that convention.
Laura Neuman appeared at a fundraiser in Savage Mill for Allan Kittleman. I understand she was wearing rain boots as a symbol of opposition to the rain tax. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a thing. I find women wearing rain boots fairly appealing. How will I be able to tell in the future if a woman is wearing rain boots as a political statement or a fashion statement? Or perhaps both??? Thank you, Laura Neuman, for confusing me!
Despite the fact that this community is actually located in Columbia, Wilde Lake was successful in getting funding for a new replacement middle school! This is a win for Inner Columbia. The one thing I am bummed out about is that due to the construction site of the new school, it looks as though the fields upon which Old Guy Softball is played in the summer will be taken out in 2015. Although the article says that alternative options will be used, such as the high school fields. We shall see.
And the Citizens working to F Howard County have been thwarted! Their referendum efforts on the county's comprehensive rezoning plan have fallen ignobly upon the dustheap of history. You think you can F Howard County? Indeed, you freaks, Howard County will F you! I truly couldn't have been happier at this. That referendum was shaping up to be way too cumbersome and confusing. I am doubting that this is going any further, despite their attorney's claims.
Happy National Cake Day! Let's be careful out there, especially those of you travelling!
I am hoping that Claire will appreciate my homage!
I decided last week, after finding out about my new job that I start December 9, to let myself fly out of my comfort zone and do something I have never done. Which is to go on a spur of the moment vacation!
And I have two college friends who mean an awful lot to me, who I haven't seen since college, but with whom I keep in close contact through social media. I told them that when I got a new job, that I'd find the time to get out there and visit.
So fortune has met opportunity and I am flying out to San Francisco on Black Friday (take that, mall hounds!) and will return from three days in Oakland and three in San Francisco on Thursday, December 5.
And also, as the title of the post implies, I hope to bring you the Bay Area through the eyes of the Marshmallow Man, as the zesty topicality goes into travel mode for the first time ever!
And what's going on in the Bay Area right now? Frankly, I have no damn idea. Except I do know it's about 30 degrees warmer there than here, and that in itself is enough for me right now.
I'm excited about doing something I've never done before! This will be a blast. Oh, and Ghiardelli chocolate, made in San Francisco, is pretty darn tasty! Just saying.
Let's be careful out there.
Amanda Yeager wrote a nice article about the prefiled local bills for the 2014 General Assembly and the delegation's public hearing on those bills. At first glance, it wouldn't seem like there would be much reason for the hearing to be well attended. Which is likely why it wasn't!
And on second, third, and continuing glances, when you go to the web site for the prefiled bills, well, you find....still, not much reason for the hearing to be well attended.
All the bond bills are noble causes and although the local delegation will likely pass them all, they may not all be funded. Thinking the Hollofield play area funding may be one that might have to wait until next year or beyond. The funding for the CAC facility and for Belmont really oughtta happen.
Referencing Amanda's article, I can understand why there would be opposition to the bill restricting concentration of liquor stores to one every 4,000 residents. That would mean that two villages of Columbia would have, on average, five liquor stores between them, while now, each village generally only has one! I don't think more liquor stores in Columbia proper are needed and so I have reservations about this bill.
And I am all good with the legislation to allow for beer festivals. I would've thought they were already legal! So you can have wine festivals here but not beer festivals? Hmmm. Why not brandy festivals? It is brandy drinking season, after all. I want a brandy festival now!
Happy National Parfait Day. Why not a parfait festival? Warren Miller could be the MC, because we all know he loves his parfait. Pineapple parfait. Gail on the other hand enjoys cherry parfait. Which is fitting. Parfait festival to benefit Frisky's Wildlife Refuge now!
Let's be careful out there.
Long day yesterday on the lacrosse field watching my daughter's last tournament of the year, so didn't get a post in yesterday. Scouring through the news and events of the day thinking about what to write, I was torn between writing about how people use crowdsourcing to make decisions about their lives and the nuclear agreement with Iran when I came across this blog post at Village Green/Town Squared. I don't know all the details behind what's going on, but that has never stopped me before, so here I get into this!
But you know what? I don't need to know all the details here. I don't get the genesis of this whole thing but that's not necessary. For the uninitiated, there exists a blog aggregator site called hocoblogs that categorize HoCo's blog scene (over 400 blogs I think) into categories. It's a piece of land staked out on the Intertubes for browsers to answer the musical question, "What's going on with blogs in Howard County?" Or, "Are there any blogs in Howard County?" Or "What do bloggers write about in Howard County?"
So somehow, in what I believe is a first time ever, due to circumstances about which I just won't even speculate in a joking manner because of respect for the people involved, Julia's blog has been excluded from the HoCoBlogs site. It's listed under nothing! And Julia has clearly learned how to title blog posts from the local masters (you're welcome!) because the double meaning of her post is appropriate. It's not cool.
So this thing needs to be fixed. No blog, except if it's extremely violent or vulgar in content, should be excluded from this site. And I would possibly even advocate that those blogs (none of which exist in Howard County, I think) should even be included! Of course, I realize that HoCoBlogs is a brand of a sort, not a community service, so frankly, those people can control what goes on the site.
But as I have said so many times in the past, just because you can do a thing doesn't mean you should do a thing. And in this case, the good thing to do is to let Village Green Town Squared live the life of a HoCoBlogs blog! Just please put it back on the site, somewhere befitting, please. Of course, that's also assuming Julia's willing to change her mind and have her blog included on HoCoBlogs. And I do hope she reconsiders.
And my final observation on this whole thing is that when I have to feel it necessary to weigh in on an issue in the local blogocracy, pretty much all hope is lost! So, come on Mookies, do the right thing.
Happy National Sardines Day! Let's be careful out there.
I obviously don't remember the day President Kennedy was shot. Probably part of the reason why, is that the assassination occurred over three and a half years before I was born. But in my house growing up, November 22nd was only secondarily, or not at all, my grandmother's birthday. It was the day President Kennedy was shot.
I couldn't believe that I read a Tweet from Patch earlier this week that asked something like, "Do you remember what the fuss was all about?" Excuse me? Fuss???
Think a little about the time. America was still feeling pretty high off of World War II. The baby boom was ending and Generation X was starting to be born. But it was a bit of a dangerous place in a shadowy way. The war being fought with the Soviet Union was a cold one. And barely a year prior, all those nuclear bomb drills were almost put into play in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
And not all the dangers to America were found across seas and oceans. Civil rights was a growing issue in America, to become front and center in the early 1960s. The social order of the United States that had been largely in place since Reconstruction (some would argue since the founding of the Republic) was being turned upside down.
Place front and center into the nation at this time a youthful, handsome President, telegenic (the first time such a word could be used to describe a President), who was full of pragmatism and optimism. We lost the Space Race to the Soviets? That's OK, we're going to be the first to the Moon. Oh, we don't have much of a space program. Really? We do now.
So there was an attitude that whatever problem we could face, be it foreign or domestic-- we could overcome it by focusing the efforts of the best and the brightest on it. That the worst of America could be overcome by the best of America. That the least among us were protected and cared for by those among us with the most.
But on November 22, 1963, there came a problem that nothing in America could overcome. That would be in the form of four bullets from Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle.
People call 11/22/1963 the Day American Innocence Died and with good reason. Before that day people could trust their government. With the ensuing Warren Commission investigation, the sealing of records, the failure to shine light for the American people on the totality of reasons why America lost its President, the frustration by Commission members that there were other things regarding the investigation that weren't being shared-- faith and trust in government began to erode. And that erosion continues to this day.
And the erosion itself has become a pervasive part of our culture. Government is not to be trusted. That's what people think today. Government on all levels and in all forms. The CIA and the cashier who takes the water bill payment. Can't be trusted. Same difference.
Granted, government has contributed to the problem over the past 50 years-- Watergate, the entitlement society of the 70s, the creation of the military industrial complex in the 80s, government shutdowns in the 90s, the 2000 election among government's less than finest moments. Yet all can be traced back to that day in Dallas. Because that day, we learned the world could turn on a dime. And it has a couple times since then.
That's what the fuss is all about. The way this entire nation thought and felt about government began to change. That's all. No real biggie.
Let's be careful out there.
I am through with writing posts about the Verona sale for awhile. But the basis of this post will be that experience I had Tuesday night, which has left more of an impression than I had expected.
Because I still can't get what people said out of my head. And I'm not talking about the first 20-30 minutes of speakers who were representatives of the nascent Oakland Mills Improvement Association. I'm talking about the others, who all said they were either alerted to the meeting by the Village Board Chair's e-mail, letter from the county, or flyer from the village or the OMIA.
There was fear there. Real fear about a lot of things. And the Verona sale issues created opportunity for people to talk about their fears. About safety. About schools. About economic opportunity. About quality of where and how they live.
I know it's been several years since I've been to a community meeting like that, but it was intense. As I remarked to someone yesterday, the effect was like the opposite of "The Nail". In this version, you start from the bigger scope and go down:
For want of $20million, the developer was lost
For want of the developer, the apartment complex was lost
And I will spare the entire little construction that formed in my head, but it ended with "for lack of hope, the future was lost." And we can't lose hope. We can't lose the future.
So what do we do about it?
There are a number of strategies. We can continue to beat our chests and throw barbs and accusations. I'm done with crazy people in OM who hurl accusations about incompetent village board members, secret deals with the county, etc. I know precisely who these people are spreading bad personal rumors about myself and my colleagues and they are cowards. They know things are untrue, they lack the personal integrity to say things to people's faces. And if they lack personal integrity, how could these people ever expect themselves to lead a community. Sad. But, watch this, True Believers:
3. 2. 1. Done with those people and dealing with people with that way of thinking now.
Or we can make other choices. We can take what was said and heard at that meeting to heart. And we can work to not make people feel such fear. To make them feel part of something. That they can participate in the solution. That they are not zombies. That they have some control over their own destiny. And that they are not alone.
A lot of that solution I am sure will revolve around the future of that apartment complex near the Oakland Mills Village Center. But a lot of it will revolve around other places in our community. Around our local schools. The interfaith center. Around our businesses. Our facilities. And the dining tables in our homes.
For me, understanding the connectivity of all of these situations, the influence working one point of the system has on the entire system, being willing to hold the entire thing together, with all of it's moving parts and potential pitfalls, and carrying the whole thing forward-- that's true leadership. And it is a scarcer, quieter commodity.
Happy Great American Smokeout! Let's be careful out there.