Archive for the ‘HoCo – Misc’ Category

The Incredibly Shrinking Newspaper

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

So my Columbia Flier was sitting on my sidewalk leading to my house this afternoon and as I picked it up, I noticed it seemed heavier than it has been recently. My first thought was it must be a heavy news week in Howard County and Columbia Now the point of this post has probably been going on for a while, but it seemed more noticeable than usual today As always, the middle of the Columbia Flier was filled with inserts as normal.

I started to pull them out and then realized how many inserts were included compared to the actual thickness of the newspaper itself. By the time I pull everything out that was not part of the newspaper, there was barely anything left. Laying them side by side, the difference was stark.

Now I am not criticizing Patuxent Publishing for the inserts, clearly they need to make money and the inserts are one way of doing it. But it would be nice if the actual paper could actually compete in quantity with the number of inserts that are stuck in it. I know, I am just complaining for no reason, but I miss those days when the Flier would approach eighty and ninety pages easily and it could take a couple of days to get completely through it. Now, I can read The Columbia Flier in about twenty minutes and have it in the trash before I eat dinner.

The demise of newspapers continues….

HoCo: Whatever Happen To….

Monday, May 4th, 2009

The Baltimore Sun had a good article yesterday on the growth of blogging in Howard County. A couple people emailed me asking why my website was not included and Wordbones even highlighted this on his website when mentioning the article. The truth of the matter is the reporter did contact me by email a few months ago. I responded by both email and phone, but never got a return call after that. I honestly assumed the article was dead since it did not appear for months after the reporter’s initial contact and never really followed up again. Anyway, I’ve been profiled before by local newspapers (Columbia Flier, Washington Post, Baltimore Examiner) and honestly, my blogging about Howard County news and notes has tailed off anyway, so my site probably was not a good fit for this article, so no big deal to me.

With the previous profiles in mind and looking at the websites mentioned in this article, I did find it interesting how things have changed. The Baltimore Examiner probably had the most in-depth profile of the Howard County Blogging Community in April 2006. The article is no longer available on the Examiner website (heck, The Baltimore Examiner doesn’t even exist in paper form anymore) and at the time, there were only four known blogs be written out of Howard County. I still hold some pride in that I was the first (starting in December 2002), but it wasn’t long after I started that the other three joined the fray. But a mere three years later after that profile, out of the four profiled in that Baltimore Examiner article, two are completely dead and a third is on life support.

Howard County Maryland Blog is still somewhat active in that has an occasional post from the original blog writer as well as from the occasional guest blogger; but, the site is not nearly as active as it once was. Interesting story back when I first started, I was still somewhat unknown and the writer of this blog came to me and mentioned he saw my site online. I had never really advertised my site to anyway, preferring to just live in my own world. It wasn’t long after that he decided to start his own website and, in my opinion, became the go to place for local news from Howard County. Our sites together did start gaining some recognition in Howard County to the where even local politicians were leaving comments and mentioning our sites in public. I know the writer of this blog, as well as a couple of his guest bloggers, personally and know they have enough on their plate to keep them busy. I am sure the blog is far down the list on priorities.

The other two blogs mentioned in that April 2006 profile are completely dead. One publicly announced on their blog they were closing down and the other by just natural attrition. HoCo Hayduke was actually the first pure Howard County blog I ever found. It was written by Ian Kennedy, who is now a cog in the Ken Ulman administration. He started out anonymously before “outing” himself online and running for the Columbia Association Council from Oakland Mills. Hayduke spoke strictly on local Howard County issues, adding in the occasional personal story as well, and was a daily read for me. However, it was understandable when he became a flack for Ulman that posting his own opinion online that might contradict the opinion of his boss would not be feasible and he decided to shut it down. Howard County Blog was started by Evan Coren and eventually added some additional writers such as former County Council candidate Jim Adams. His site was very detailed in looking at Columbia issues, especially on the development of Downton. However, once Coren won a seat on the Columbia Council from King Contrivance, his website went dormant and has had only one post since July 6, 2008.

For close to a year, we WERE the Howard County blogging community and knew each other to the point in 2006, we developed what we called the Howard County Blogger Forum for all the local candiadtes running for County Council and the General Assembly. Despite our political differences, Hayduke and Coren on the left and myself and the other blogger on the right, we came together and attempted to promote an online dialougue leading to eh 2006 election. I will freely admit that it did not become as successful as we had planned as some of the candidates (mostly Democrats) refused to particpate, but I believe it was a good hearted effort and I would like to believe the four of us helped create a great foundation for the much more thriving online discussions on local issues we have today.

Anyway, I am so glad to see a slew of new blog sites based in Howard County and talking about Howard County. As my site gained some national following, my blogging on local issues went down, so I am more than happy to have others pick up the slack (and then some). I sometimes find more news about what is going on in Howard County from these websites than I do from the local newspapers and my favorites sites were some of those mentioned in the article. Being a political guy, I tend to follow sites like Wordbones, FreeMarket, Columbia Compass, Columbia Now and Columbia Blog Project, but I do dabble occasionally in the others when something on HoCoBlogs strikes me as interesting.

Kudos to everyone mentioned in the article and hopefully the added notoriety brings you increased traffic and encourages you to keep things going. I know those profiles in the local newspapers gave me a leg up and brought people here who have never left. And I am sure yesterday’s article will do the same for everyone else.

2nd Chance Saloon Opens December 5th

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

This is what is currently being displayed at the top of the Second Chance Saloon website.

Just passing along the word….

The Closing Of Trapeze

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Sad news in my mind. I actually heard about this on Election Night when a few people mentioned it had closed last weekend, but the Baltimore Sun just got around to covering it yesterday.

When the upscale restaurant Trapeze opened in Fulton in 2005, critics hailed it as a “playful and sophisticated retreat,” a place whose “soaring space” and flavorful fare could turn a quick detour off U.S. 29 into a memorable dining experience.

After three years, the retreat is no more. The first business to open in the Maple Lawn development in southern Howard County, Trapeze has shut its doors, an apparent victim of the recent economic downturn across the nation and the world.

“We deeply regret that [the] economic conditions that persist throughout the country forced us to close,” owner Alexias Sharoky said in a statement released last week, “and we are also saddened by the loss of jobs to our great staff, many of whom have been with us through thick and thin.”

I am surprised none of the other Howard County blogs even mentioned it and it was somewhat of a shock because the week earlier, we had set up to have the monthly Howard County Republican Club First Friday Happy Hour at Trapeze and there was no indication from them they were on the verge of closing. We hadn’t sent out the email and was able to switch to the equally enjoyable T-Bonz Grille, but this is definitely a loss.

My last trip to Trapeze was back in October when a friend of mine invited me to a UMBC alumni event featuring Tom Schaller. We had held numerous Howard County Republican Club First Friday Happy Hours and it became such a favorite among most of the members of the Club to the point we were having the First Friday Happy Hours there every three months since it drew in such a large crowd. And we also had a couple HoCoBlogTale Happy Hours there. I actually liked the place quite a bit and, while being slightly more expensive than other places, had great atmosphere inside (I loved the openness) and the ease of getting to (a short hop down 29). However, during my trip back in October, I met my friend for dinner and was surprised there was barely anybody there and thought to myself that this place was dying. So in a way, maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked.

Apparently, according to the article, Trapeze is not the only Maple Lawn establishment facing trouble.

Trapeze isn’t the only Maple Lawn eating place to have felt recession-like effects. Across the street at oZ Chophouse, co-owner Katie Buscher said restaurants in the development have been competing for too few customers.

“There just aren’t enough people in Maple Lawn to split between us, Trapeze and Anazul [a neighboring tapas bistro], especially during midday hours,” Buscher said.

Early last month, oZ stopped serving lunch.

I thought it was called Ranazul,but what do I know, I’ve never been there. I did visit oZ Chophouse once, but that was a night I would rather forget. I think the real problem, and what the article also mentions, is the fact that Maple Lawn is so far from a dense crowd of people and it requires people to make a concerted effort to go to the restaurants. And honestly, I still mention Maple Lawn or Fulton to people who have lived in Howard County for years and many times I get blank stares indicating they don’t even know this place exists….

UPDATE (9:55am): I stand corrected, a local Howard County blog HowChow did mention the closing of Trapeze last week. Thanks Wordbones.

Status Of “Second Chance Saloon”

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I was reading Wordbones’ latest news on the opening of a new bar in Ellicott City and it got me to wondering what ever happened to the potential new bar at the the location of the old Last Chance Saloon (and later Fire Rock Grille). Back during the summer, I seem to remember a number of there were a number of articles indicating that the new place, called the Second Chance Saloon, was going to open around September, but then I haven’t heard anything since.

So I did a little research and found out that the owners did set up a new website for the “Second Chance Saloon” and the latst post on the website indicates the following.

Oct 15th, 2008: We are remodeling our Saloon under new ownership, and are getting ready to reopen our establishment. Our Web Site is also under construction.

We will announce our upcoming events here shortly.
Return again to see the latest news and opening dates. Thank you.

So I guess that partially answers that question, although still no opening date, in case you were wondering like me.

Goodbye Rocky Run

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

I saw this first over at Howard County Blog and decided to take a ride by it myself on my way to work this morning. Sure enough, a long-standing favorite establishment of Columbia is now gone.

Of course, I remember when this location used to be a Shoney’s or Bob’s Big boy (I forget which one). Unlike the supposed “local favorites” like Bun Penny and Produce Galore that I am told I am supposed to be sad about closing, I am actually sad to see places like this and the recently closed Lone Star Steakhouse go by the wayside…that’s one less place for Happy Hour….

Find Your Brick

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

At the bottom of Diane Brown’s rather idiotic column in today’s Columbia Flier, of which I am still trying to figure out what her point is, was a link a great resource. Anyone who has been down to the Lakefront in Columbia has seen the bricks around the People Tree imprinted with names and companies and whatever else people had imprinted on them. A while back, CA decide to move the bricks around and our family brick was moved from its original spot and it took us a while to find it again. Due to the growing number of bricks, it can be like finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack” if you don’t know exactly where it is.

Thanks to Ms. Brown, if you know you bought one of these bricks but just can’t seem to find it, she has informed everyone that there is a page on the Columbia Association website that allows you to “find” your brick if you happened to forget where it was or if CA decided to move it. Check it out here.

Just thought it was cool….

McCain Campaign On The Fourth of July

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

On July 4th, I participated along with about 25 other fellow McCain supporters in the River Hill Parade as part of the . Here was a group shot of all the participants before we started heading out.

Now we are waiting for things to get moving.

Unfortunately, the Obama group was directly in front of us, but I must say from an organizational standpoint, the McCain group was heads and shoulders above. That sort of surprised me considering the number of emails the Democrats were sending out trying to organize things, but they didn’t have T-shirts, stickers or even a truck like this one.

Here is some of group walking the route.

Plenty of kids along the route who couldn’t get enough of the 2,000 McCain lapel stickers that our group handed out.

On a side note, it is amazing to watch the kids along the entire route holding out bags like it is Halloween, as someone in our group mentioned. I’d willing to bet nearly all of them had no idea who John McCain even is, but kids see a free sticker and will do anything to get it. Hey, might as well start them young! Of course, what would be a parade with a few dogs.

These dogs managed to walk the entire two-mile route without any trouble. And I couldn’t let this one pass because sometimes they make it way too easy. Here was the gas-guzzling, carbon footprint-enlarger, “global warming”-creating mode of transportation in the parade for environmentally conscious County Executive.

What, was the Government Hybrid SUV being used for something else? Anyway, the fireworks later that night were pretty good I must say. Unlike previous years, very few breaks between fireworks and a decent show overall. Of course they better have been for the $100,000 the taxpayers in Howard County paid to put on the show…but I digress….

You can see a whole bunch more photos from the parade here.

Howard County Relay For Life

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

I thought I’d share some photos from last night’s/this morning’s Relay For Life organized by the American Cancer Society and held at Hammond High School. Unfortunately, I ended up staying the Howard County Republican Club First Friday Happy Hour a little longer than I planned, so I did miss the opening ceremonies. So when I got there, there were already people out on the track starting their laps.

Here is a shot across the track from one set of bleachers to the other set with the word. You will see what they did with this in a later photo.

Outside of the track, the various teams set up on their plot of land with Hammond High School in the background.

Our tent was the blue one on the right-hand side. There were a variety of tents, from simple open sided- tents to full camping tents where people would spend the entire night. At around 9:00 after the sun had gone completely down and it was time to light up the luminaries around the track.

It was a rather impressive display. Each bag had the name of someone stricken with cancer written on it and the names would be visible even as dark as it was. Here is a shot of the camping site area.

Here is a shot looking at the track during my laps around the track.

Here is a shot of the bleachers I previously showed above along with a shot of the opposite side bleachers.

Finally, the obligatory shot of our little area in the campsite section of our tent.

I would show you the Hoard County Democrats’ tent, but they apparently did not field a team this year.

While the relay itself was the main event, they did have a deejay and band playing music all night, a silent auction in the early part of the event, and various themed events throughout the night such as a limbo event, fiesta party, and pajamas party as well as a moonbounce for the kids and even a tent that had video game challenges on a big creen going all night long. Of course, you did have a slew of somewhat rowdy teenagers (as you would expect) in the early part of the night and much more alcohol and beer being consumed in various campsites despite the fact that alcohol was supposedly prohibited. But it appear the police force on hand let a lot of that go as long as the crowds were not getting out of hand or bothering other people, which in my entire time there did not occur. The early part of the night before midnight did see quite a few people on the track. After midnight, the number of people on the track dwindled somewhat as people began to leave.

Personally, I ended up walking around the track for about two hours from Midnight until 2am shift), doing 21 laps (give or take a lap since it is hard to keep track when you are just walking in circles and seeing the same thing over and over again). I figured that is just over five miles of continuous walking. But that is nowhere near what one woman did during the event. Melissa Simmens spent the entire 12 hours of the event running on the track. She was not hard to miss as she wore a headlight on her head and the inside lane of the track was left open to allow her free pass on her laps around the track. Every hour or so, she would reverse direction on the track and some people would run with her and talk to her as she was running. I didn’t stay until the end (I did leave around 2:30am) to see if she made it the entire time, but the seven hours I was there, I never saw her off the track.

Anyway, a good time overall, managed to recruit of few Republicans to join up on our lists, good conversations and meeting new people, and most importantly helping bring awareness to an important cause.

Thanks to everyone who did donate to this event, especially those who donated on the behalf our myself and our team.

American Cancer Society Relay For Life

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I mentioned this last week and wanted to mention it one more time before tomorrow night’s event. The American Cancer Society is holding their annual Relay for Life on June 6th in Howard County and I have signed up to be a walker for the Howard County Republicans team on that night.

The Baltimore Sun had an article on the event in today’s paper.

Neither the Howard County Republicans nor myself will get a dime of the money that is donated – it all goes to the American Cancer Society. If you would like to, feel free to click my personal donation page here and submit a donation on my behalf for the team (you will be personally credited if you wish). Part of the donation, I believe, is tax-deductible as well….

Thanks in advance to anyone who donates to this worthy cause….