Skip to content

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 50 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 2013 Snow

We were in town in the winter of 2009-10 and got enough snow to make up for all the years we missed. I’m told it hasn’t snowed much since, so we haven’t missed much … until now.

The Passport Office is here!

Well we haven’t had this kind of excitement since the new phone books came and they haven’t been coming for years …

[Tell the young people what "the new phone books are here" is …. is … oh, and also tell them what phone books are.]

So now, you really can walk to almost anything from Idlewild Street!  Not that the post office was too far to walk, but it involves crossing the Baltimore Pike and walking around and behind all those big stores.   Plus they’d be backlogged for appointments and the last time I tried to get one I had to wait a month.  I wonder if it will be any easier at the library.  Oh look!  It says, “no appointment necessary.”

It is odd that the county library is taking on a federal government service though.  Should we worry?   Using scarce library space for this when they aren’t even letting the public book meeting rooms anymore, except at high fees.  And what does this mean for the Post Office?  Already it has moved off Main Street, from its proper place in the heart of downtown.   <sigh>

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Harford County Public Library <>
Date: Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 9:42 PM
Subject: Passport Office in Bel Air Library is Now Open!


You too could live on Idlewild Street

Come on! You know you want to … rural but not too rural, urban but not too urban. A town with an actual Main Street still functioning. If you use your imagination, while strolling on Main Street near the court house and fountain, you can imagine you are in any city of the world.

… and now you have your chance. #34 Idlewild Street is for sale. How do I love Idlewild Street? Let me count the ways! A real estate agent might only point out the proximity to the entire set of schools, from K-12 which are lined up all in a row, just down the street. From #34 you can probably see them from your porch. In any case, none will be more than a 5 minute walk away. That includes the elementary schools, which have playgrounds that kids can use when school’s out.  And guess what, if you homeschool, it’s even better, because the homeschool reviewer’s office is at the middle school, at 99 Idlewild Street, which is actually the closest of all these schools to Idlewild Street itself!

But there’s more.

Idlewild Street, especially west of Main Street, is about the most convenient location you could ever hope to have, even if  - especially if –  you have no car. Here are all the things in walking distance:

1. aforementioned schools and homeschool office.
2. The Library
3. Main Street – for those who like to shop local, including two thrift stores, for those who like to shop cheap, green and local.
4. Everything else on Main Street like the farmer’s market, the Court, the Fountain, First Fridays, Third Thursdays and all the other local culture that we have here in downtown Bel Air.
6.  Harford County Council Meetings take place on Bond Street, near downtown Bel Air.  And Representative Andy Harris’ office is in Terlyn Square.
7. Shamrock Park, one of the best little parks in the County – with open space, playground, picnic tables AND an amphitheatre all in one place – near the library as well.
8. Rockfield Creative Playground – another nice playground, with a little creek adjacent to it.
9. Ma & Pa Trail
10. Grocery Stores – Klein’s, Mars, Weis
9. Other Stores – Harford Mall, Tollgate Mall, Terlyn Square, and all kinds of stores on Main Street & Bond Street.
10. Doctors / Pharmacy – Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, as well as Patient First and Atwood Professional Building
11. Lots of Banks, financial services, law, etc.
12. Country Village is across the street – good place to make friends if Idlewild St is too quiet for you / your kids.

Everything listed above is half-a-mile to a mile away!

What if you need to go to Baltimore? Well the 410 bus stop is also within 10 minutes walk, at the intersection of McPhail and Edgehill. You can only go in the morning and come back in the evening, but it sure beats driving. And it is $3.50 each way, which is less than the toll for the Fort McHenry Tunnel! The last bus to Baltimore leaves at 7:35am and takes you to downtown – you can connect with the MARC train Camden line if you want to continue to Washington, DC. Otherwise you can get to DC without a car by taking the Harford County bus to Aberdeen and catching the MARC train from there. (Here are the other routes on the Harford County bus service.)

A bugle band stops to play on Idlewild Street. 4 July 2013.

The Acrobat Dilemma

Will the circus pass inspection?

Will the circus pass inspection?

So we performed The Acrobat Dilemma 2013 edition at Shamrock Park on July 10 and 11 2013.   Here is the July 11 show:

Rainbow Co-op

Labor Day is around the corner.  If you haven’t yet joined a co-op this just might be the one for you.    All of us are people who haven’t joined a co-op.  We believe learning and living are inseparable, integrated and immensely imaginative!  Okay that last part was mostly for alliteration.

If you are looking for the company of other secular homeschooling families that follow an approach to learning that draws from the inner curriculum of each child, you are not alone.  Let’s get acquainted and support one another through park days, exchange of ideas and resources, group projects, and other interesting activities together.  Join us for an orientation on Friday, August 30.

Rainbow Co-op is secular and based on free and democratic learning.

??????????????????Please fill out the form below:

Let’s go have a talk with Andy Harris

This April 2013 photo is during an interview with Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., in his Capitol Hill office in Washington.Let’s go have a talk with Andy Harris

Andy Harris represents the 1st District and he also went to Johns Hopkins.

So when I got a message from my friend Tracey today saying that there was an upcoming visit his office on Tuesday, I realized that it is about time I went to meet him.

Here is the notice of the meeting:

Time: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Host: Lewis Givens
Contact Phone: 443-629-2359
Location: Rep. Andy Harris’s Bel Air Office (Bel Air, MD)

15 East Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21014

97% of scientists agree that climate change is real, but too many members of Congress continue to deny the problem or the science behind it. Join local supporters at this Action August event to stand up and speak up to draw attention to the climate deniers in Congress.

Was Andy Harris really one of the "climate deniers?" I went to his website and checked under issues. Neither climate change nor energy were listed, but I found something about how he voted on these issues at Andy Harris on Energy and Oil.

There I found that Andy Harris:

Voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

Congressional Summary:Amends the Clean Air Act to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from promulgating any regulation the emission of a greenhouse gas (GHG) to address climate change.

Excludes GHGs from the definition of "air pollutant" for purposes of addressing climate change. Exempts from such prohibition existing regulations on fuel efficiency, research, or CO2 monitoring.

Repeals and makes ineffective other rules and actions concerning GHGs.

Signed the No Climate Tax Pledge by AFP.

Harris signed the No Climate Tax Pledge

No Climate Tax Pledge: "I pledge to the taxpayers of my state, and to the American people, that I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue."

Sponsoring organizations: Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEU); National Taxpayers Union (NTU); Institute for Liberty Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a nationwide organization of citizen-leaders committed to advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and intrusiveness of government is the best way to promote individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans.

Source: AFP website 10-AFP on Nov 2, 2010

Voted YES on opening Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling.

Congressional Summary:

Makes available for leasing, in the 2012-2017 five-year oil and gas leasing program, outer Continental Shelf areas that are estimated to contain more than 2.5 billion barrels of oil; or are estimated to contain more than 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Makes the production goal for the 2012-2017 five-year oil and gas leasing program an increase by 2027 in daily production of at least 3 million barrels of oil, and 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
The closest I could find to his stand on environmental issues was a paragraph talking about the importance of the Chesapeake Bay.

Let’s see if we can have a reasonable conversation about the impact of these energy and oil polices on the climate and the environment.

Simpler way to oust Wal-mart – Raise the Living Wage!

Can all of us get this deal? Mandate a living wage, and Wal-Mart will pull out. Win! We should certainly try this approach in Harford County and throughout the state.

From the Washington Post:

Wal-Mart says it will pull out of D.C. plans should city mandate ‘living wage’

By Mike DeBonis, Published: July 9 E-mail the writer

The world’s largest retailer delivered an ultimatum to District lawmakers Tuesday, telling them less than 24 hours before a decisive vote that at least three planned Wal-Marts will not open in the city if a super-minimum-wage proposal becomes law.

A team of Wal-Mart officials and lobbyists, including a high-level executive from the mega-
retailer’s Arkansas headquarters, walked the halls of the John A. Wilson Building on Tuesday afternoon, delivering the news to D.C. Council members.

The ultimatum came a day ahead of a decisive D.C. Council vote on bill that would force $12.50 hourly wage.

The company’s hardball tactics come out of a well-worn playbook that involves successfully using Wal-Mart’s leverage in the form of jobs and low-priced goods to fend off legislation and regulation that could cut into its profits and set precedent in other potential markets. In the Wilson Building, elected officials have found their reliable liberal, pro-union political sentiments in conflict with their desire to bring amenities to underserved neighborhoods.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) called Wal-Mart’s move “immensely discouraging,” indicating that he may consider vetoing the bill while pondering whether to seek reelection.

The D.C. Council bill would require retailers with corporate sales of $1 billion or more and operating in spaces 75,000 square feet or larger to pay their employees no less than $12.50 an hour. The city’s minimum wage is $8.25.

While the bill would apply to some other retailers — such as Home Depot, Costco and Macy’s — a grandfather period and an exception for those with unionized workforces made it clear that the bill targets Wal-Mart, which has said it would open six stores, employing up to 1,800 people.

Alex Barron, a regional general manager for Wal-Mart U.S., wrote in a Washington Post op-ed piece that the proposed wage requirement “would clearly inject unforeseen costs into the equation that will create an uneven playing field and challenge the fiscal health of our planned D.C. stores.”

As a result, Barron said, the company “will not pursue” stores at three locations where construction has yet to begin — two in Ward 7 and one in Ward 5. He added that the legislation, if passed, will also jeopardize the three stores underway, pending a review of the “financial and legal implications.” While precise terms of its agreements with developers are not known, the company’s leases could be difficult to break without major financial penalties.

The company had, until Tuesday, made statements opposing the bill but had not directly threatened to withdraw from its plans. A community affairs executive told a city business group last month that the three unbuilt stores could be in doubt, according to the Current newspapers, and a company spokesman later warned of “negative consequences” should the bill become law.

Wal-Mart’s decision echoes the retailer’s first incursion into an American urban center seven years ago, when the Chicago City Council passed a similar “living-wage” measure. The company indicated then that the bill would cause it to scale back or entirely scrap its plans to open several stores, Mayor Richard M. Daley vetoed the bill, and the councilfailed to override it. In March, New York raised its minimum wage only after a compromise offered tax subsidies to firms such as Wal-Mart that hire seasonal workers.

Ken Jacobs, chairman of the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, who has investigated Wal-Mart’s wage policies, said the firm has opposed living-wage laws and other measures that target its business practices, particularly in urban markets.

“When asked about labor law, they generally say, we follow the laws of the jurisdiction in which we’re operating,” he said. “But it’s also clear when they say that, that they put a lot of weight on shaping the laws in the jurisdictions where they are operating.”

One prominent local proponent of the D.C. Council bill said the fight is properly placed in a national context. “We have learned from Chicago; we have learned from New York City,” said Joslyn N. Williams, president of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO. “Our fight here is not just a local fight. ”

The bill, known as the Large Retailer Accountability Act, passed the council on an initial 8 to 5 vote last month. The council would need nine votes to override a potential veto from Gray, who lobbied Wal-Mart to open a store at the Skyland Town Center site, near his Hillcrest home.

Wal-Mart’s decision did not appear likely to change any votes, but lawmakers said they were dismayed by the timing. Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), a backer of the bill, said the announcement revealed its “true character.”

“For them to now stick guns to council members’ heads is unfortunate and regrettable,” he said.

But colleague Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), who represents an area slated for two stores and opposes the bill, said she was “angry and upset” about the message, delivered by Keith Morris, Wal-Mart’s director of public affairs and government relations. “That means back to the drawing board for Ward 7 unless there’s a vote in opposition,” she said. “This is going to just about ruin two major development plans in Ward 7.”

It was a sentiment echoed by her constituents. Karen Williams, president of the Hillcrest Community Civic Association, said she was “very disappointed” to hear Wal-Mart could pull out of the Skyland site.

“We have been working on making this project a reality for over 23 years,” she said. “We finally felt that we were so close to having it built. . . . Even though there are people who are not exactly Wal-Mart fans, we all want the project to move forward.”

In a statement, Gray hinted more strongly than ever that he is prepared to veto the legislation. “The cancellation of three planned stores will surely set us back,” he said. “I strongly urge the Council to consider whether this legislation will actually promote strong economic development in the District and expand job opportunities for District residents.”

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), another lead sponsor of the bill, said Wal-Mart’s stance is “an all-or-nothing approach, which is not a helpful way for us to do development.”

But Jacobs said that has long been Wal-Mart’s way in taking on these types of proposals: “There’s good reason to believe they could actually compete quite well under these rules, but it is not a proposition they have wanted to test.”

Tim Craig, Luz Lazo and Jonathan O’Connell contributed to this report.

More news about D.C. politics

Wal-Mart says ‘living wage’ will jeopardize D.C. plans

Dig into Reading!

For the true symbol of freedom, the public library, we came out to march in the parade, which starts in downtown Bel Air, proceeds down Main street and ends by rounding the corner onto Idlewild Street.

Dig into Reading!

Dig into Reading!

Those who live on Idlewild Street enjoyed special performances from some of the groups in the parade:

Remembering Inez M Buckner (1922-2012)

She lived on Idlewild Street till last year.  I only learned her name today.

Condolences to the family, whom I often saw around the house and only met today when they held a yard sale.     From the short time I visited I could tell what a caring and memorable woman was Inez M Buckner.  So many greeting cards, many of them thank you notes.  Her daughter told me that when she went back home after this past Memorial Day, one year after her mother’s passing, she found a handwritten letter awaiting her in the mail.  It brought back memories of the times I used to write letters almost daily and look forward to the mail every day, always hoping for a letter.

Her grandson told me that M stands for Marguerite. It was a pleasure to meet the family and learn a little bit about someone whom I had only associated with the lovely flowers outside her home, and admired during my morning walks.

Now I have her step stool, to reach things in the kitchen, as well as a few greeting cards, which I will send to people soon, and  some jigsaw puzzles.  I wonder if she ever did those puzzles!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.