Monday, December 31, 2007

All the best in 2008 from The Forge Flyer!




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a good product for nice nails

OK, this is kind of a silly post, but I just discovered this great nail-care product. My mother-in-law and my husband were at the Towson mall recently and she was stopped by an aggressive/charming Cart Person who was selling a product called Seacret. Long story short, she ended up buying the kit -- lotion, cuticle oil and a buffer.

She tried it on me and it was amazing. My nails are super smooth now and they are very shiny -- it looks like I'm wearing clear polish, but it never comes off or chips. He said the price was actually $79 but he gave her a "great deal" and she got it for $29.

I don't generally do my nails, but I might get this because it's so simple. The whole "manicure" took about three minutes.


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What Shamu Taught Me
About a Happy Marriage

This story is not new, but it just came up in conversation, so I thought I'd post it for anyone who missed it before.

New York Times: As I wash dishes at the kitchen sink, my husband paces behind me, irritated. "Have you seen my keys?" he snarls, then huffs out a loud sigh and stomps from the room with our dog, Dixie, at his heels, anxious over her favorite human's upset.

In the past I would have been right behind Dixie. I would have turned off the faucet and joined the hunt while trying to soothe my husband with bromides like, "Don't worry, they'll turn up." But that only made him angrier, and a simple case of missing keys soon would become a full-blown angst-ridden drama starring the two of us and our poor nervous dog.

Now, I focus on the wet dish in my hands. I don't turn around. I don't say a word. I'm using a technique I learned from a dolphin trainer. ... full story


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Stoop Storytelling - Family Secrets

Monday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m. at Center Stage

Family Secrets: Stories about the Fibs, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies that Bind Us Together -- and keep us apart. Seven storytellers get seven minutes each to talk about the untruths woven into the DNA of every family. Details here.


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Annual Interfaith Service today

The Examiner: Leaders of Baltimore City and local Jewish, Islam and Christian communities will usher in 2008 on Monday at the 15th annual New Year’s Eve Interfaith Service. The Rev. Lauretta Halstead of the Kingdom Worship Center in Towson will give the sermon. The Rev. James Casciotti, St. Ignatius pastor, will host the various clergy in attendance. ... full story


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Here's what's open and closed on
New Year's Day

A list courtesy of The Sun.


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Sunday, December 30, 2007

new technique classes at Williams-Sonoma

"We're pleased to offer hour-long technique classes at your local Williams-Sonoma store. Presented free of charge, each class is dedicated to a specific culinary topic led by one of our culinary experts. Class size is limited, so be sure to reserve your space today."

Cooking with Citrus,
Sunday, January 6

Add tart, bright flavor to savory dishes with nutrient-rich citrus fruits. This class, demonstrates steaming, poaching and cooking en papillotte using oranges and lemons.

Chili Basics, Sunday, January 20
Take your bowl-watching guests beyond chips and chicken wings with a hearty and versatile, chili. We'll teach you how to make a basic chili with delicious variations and share ideas for tasty toppings.
Chocolate, Sunday, February 3
With Valentine's Day right around the corner, we'll share ideas for easy-to-make, decadent chocolate desserts. You'll learn all about tempering and how to make a basic ganache icing.
Stocks, Sunday, February 10
Learn the basic stock-making techniques and how simple it is to keep a supply of your own flavorful stock on hand. We'll cover both meat- and vegetable-based stocks and provide recipes.
Soups, Sunday, February 17
Learn effortless ways to create warming pureed soups that everyone will love. We'll share secrets for creating smooth, velvety soups with great flavor, including low-fat options.
One-Pot Dinners, Sunday, February 24
Simple and delicious one-pot wonders simplify cooking. Using our favorite recipes, you'll learn the basic techniques.

To sign up, contact the Cross Keys location, (410) 435-6020, or Towson Town Center store (410) 847-9021.


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Friday, December 28, 2007

Rodgers Forge couple charged in death of their toddler

This is so sad, and the details in this Sun story are incredible.

Sun: When he died this week, 2-year-old Andrew Patrick Griffin weighed about 13 pounds, roughly the same as the typical 3-month-old. His body was covered with bruises and abrasions, and he appeared malnourished and dehydrated, according to investigators. ... full Sun story


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Fire on Dumbarton

Two fire engines and multiple police cars responded to a fire tonight in the 300 block of Dumbarton Road that neighbors say started in the kitchen. No further on-the-record details available.


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Home values in city skyrocket

Sun: The topsy-turvy results showed the smallest percentage increases in the state's most prosperous places -- such as Montgomery and Howard counties -- while areas that often lag economically saw much greater gains, despite a sluggish real estate market. ... full story


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5-year-old boy shoots himself with gun he found in couch

Loaded guns in the house -- brilliant.

Sun: ... The boy reached under the cushion Wednesday evening and touched the pistol, causing it to fire a 9mm bullet into his upper right thigh ... full story


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learn to use the Internet

This would be great for the grandparent set ...

Introduction to the Internet
13 years old and up
Required registration begins one week in advance.

Jan 12 Sat 9:15 AM
Feb 9 Sat 9:15 AM

Towson Library


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watch the process of illustrating a book

Help local author and illustrator Kevin O’Malley bring a story to life as he demonstrates the process of illustrating a book.

January 5, Saturday, 11:00 AM - Towson Library


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Towson library seeking book donations

The Friends of the Towson Library are accepting donations of nearly new adult and children's books, DVDs, CDs and videos through March 31, 2008. Donations may be dropped off at the Towson Library. A receipt is available upon request.


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Thursday, December 27, 2007

toy blocks, Gap jackets, circuit breakers recalled


1. Tot Tower Blocks Recalled by eeBoo Corp.; Children's Toy Can Pose
Choking Hazard
2. North American Breaker Co. Recalls Counterfeit Circuit Breakers Due
to Fire Hazard
3. Gap Outlet Recalls Boys' Jackets; Drawstring at Waist Poses
Entrapment Hazard
details for all here


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Towson YMCA burglarized

From Karl's crime reports:

YMCA 600 Chesapeake Ave. 21204
An unknown suspect entered the location by unknown means.
Once inside, the suspect pried open a drop box and stole 5
envelopes containing a total of $682.00 in cash.


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Woman robbed entering her home on Overbrook

from Karl's crime reports:
12-19-07
700 block of Overbrook Rd. 21212
[about three blocks east of York Road]

The suspect came onto the victim’s porch as she was
getting ready to enter her house. The suspect grabbed
her purse and dragged her down the steps. The victim
sustained injuries to her legs and arms.

Also this:
Attempted 1st Degree Burglary 12-21-07
6300 block of Sherwood Rd 21212
An unknown suspect pried the front screen and attempted to
kick in the door.


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Finding Alzheimer’s Before a Mind Fails - a NYT article

New York Times : ... Many scientists believe the best hope of progress, maybe the only hope, lies in detecting the disease early and devising treatments to stop it before brain damage becomes extensive. Better still, they would like to intervene even sooner, by identifying risk factors and treating people preventively — the same strategy that has markedly lowered death rates from heart disease, stroke and some cancers. ... full story


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Looking for the Fountain of Youth?
Go Wash Your Face

New York Times: ... These eight skin-care resolutions for 2008 are simple and inexpensive. Research in medical journals supports some of them. Others are based on the experience of skin doctors. ... full story


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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

site of Nature Camps is for sale

Sun: The Monkton property isn't actually listed with a broker, but the four civic organizations that have owned it for more than 50 years are looking to sell it. And while the children's camp that has operated for years at the site will carry on for at least one more summer, it is unclear what might happen after that. ... full story


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Baltimore zoo adds two new elephants

Here's the Sun article.


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tiger escapes zoo cage in Calif., kills visitor

When we started going to the zoo with my son, I would secretly plan for what to do with him if a dangerous animal got loose (throw my son in a metal garbage can was what I came up with), but I always thought I was being ridiculously paranoid....

AP: A tiger that mauled a zookeeper last year escaped from its pen at the San Francisco Zoo on Tuesday, killing one man and injuring two others before police shot it dead, authorities said. ... full story


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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!


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police say couple tried to sell their baby for $30

Really? You don't want a beer? How 'bout my kid?

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A couple was charged Friday with trying to sell their 2-month-old baby for $30 in a store parking lot, authorities said.

Robert G. Ellingson, 23, approached two people in the PetSmart parking lot and offered them a beer. When they refused, he offered to sell his child, Escambia County Sheriff's officials said. ... full story


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Sunday, December 23, 2007

101 simple appetizers

... in 20 minutes or less. From the New York Times.


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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dems campaign on scrapping No Child Left Behind


I'm glad; I think the emphasis on testing is way off.

New York Times: Teachers cheered Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton when she stepped before them last month at an elementary school in Waterloo, Iowa, and said she would “end” the No Child Left Behind Act because it was “just not working.” ... Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico has said he wants to “scrap” the law. Senator Barack Obama has called for a “fundamental” overhaul. And John Edwards criticizes the law as emphasizing testing over teaching. “You don’t make a hog fatter by weighing it,” he said recently while campaigning in Iowa. ... full story


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"Who was Jesus?"

The Vancouver Sun: Many Jews think of him as an ancient Jewish teacher named Yeshua. Muslims look up to him as Isa, one of the five major prophets, or messengers, of God. And Christians revere him as Jesus, the Christ, the ultimate manifestation of God on Earth; for many the actual only son of the Supreme Being.
As Christmas approaches, The Vancouver Sun sought to explore the various meanings that a noted Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and Jew see in Jesus of Nazareth, arguably the most famous figure in history, undoubtedly in the West. ... full story


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a list of Baltimore-area dance programs for your little Twinkle Toes

(When you're calling for prices, keep this in mind.)

Baltimore Ballet in Cockeysville

Baltimore Dance Tech in Baltimore

Dance Academy of Baltimore in Pikesville (410) 653-9255

Dancemoves in White Marsh

Gerstung in Baltimore

Lynne Brick's Summer Dance Camp

The Moving Company in Cockeysville

Peabody Institute in Baltimore

School of Synergy Movement in Roland Park

Teelin School of Irish Dance
in Parkville

Towson University Children's Dance in Towson

White Marsh Ballet Academy in White Marsh

And here's a list from Baltimore's Child of dance sites in other areas


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Have a car to donate?

If you have a car to get rid of, you might be considering donating it to a charitable cause and getting a tax break. You should know, most of the time you can't write off the fair market value; you can only write off whatever the charity gets for the car when they sell it at auction, which will be far less than the fair market value. But, if you donate it to Vehicles for Change, they generally don't sell the car -- instead, they give it to a person who desperately needs one in order to get to/from work. The person gets a car and a way to improve his/her life, and you get to write off the entire value of the car. (Unless the car is so old or broken that they have to sell it at auction. Then your write off is less.) We did this a few years ago and it was very easy and stress free.


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What's going on this weekend

A list from City Paper of special events, and another list of kid-centered events.


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City Sewage Keeps Flowing Into The Bay While Baltimore's Sewer System Gets a Billion-Dollar Fix

Interesting story from City Paper. Here's an excerpt:
... The Linwood Avenue outfall has been polluting the harbor with sewage, on and off, for a long time. Schmidt's account confirms what I've occasionally observed firsthand while kayaking or walking by here since the late 1990s. The federal Clean Water Act calls for all U.S. waters to be returned to swimmable and fishable conditions, and while fish sometimes jump near here, swimming, while never advisable, would at times be suicidal. ... full story


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Weekend fun from The Sun

Here's The Sun's recommendations for things to see, read and do this weekend.


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Friday, December 21, 2007

teethers, magnet toys, sweatshirts, etc. recalled


1. Lenox Recalls Covered Warmer Dishes Due to Fire and Burn Hazards
2. Girls' Hooded Sweatshirts with Drawstrings Recalled by Liberty Apparel Due to Strangulation Hazard
3. Pressure Cookers Recalled By Manttra Inc. Due to Burn Hazard
4. Teething Rings Recalled by Empire Silver Due to Choking Hazard
5. Super Magnet Toys Recalled by MTC Due to Aspiration and Intestinal Hazards
details at cpsc.gov


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a book you'll wish you'd read years ago

I'm reading Basic Black by Cathie Black right now. She's head of Hearst's magazine division (Cosmo, Oprah mag, etc.). It has helpful advice for the workplace and just life in general. I'm only about a third of the way through, but I think it's good. I'd definitely recommend it.


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teacher surveys will be out in March

The Examiner: Public school teachers in Baltimore County who participated in a perception survey will have to wait until March for the outcome. The voluntary survey, distributed at schools last week, was sponsored by the Teachers Association of Baltimore County and is designed to serve as a reflective tool for participants. ... full story


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stuffed cabbage is the darling of the Laundromat

The new movie Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story looks funny. I want to see it if only for the Royal Jelly song (see clip here). Dylan-inspired lyrics include: “mailboxes drip like lampposts in the twisted birth canal of the coliseum ... fairy teapots mask the temper tantrum, O’ say can you see ’em ... stuffed cabbage is the darling of the Laundromat..."


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concert at White Marsh mall today

Sun: Holiday concert -- Local school choirs will perform holiday concerts at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Entertainment Court, White Marsh Mall, 8200 Perry Hall Blvd. 410-931-7100.



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Cummings tells Mattel - Fisher Price to get lead out of toys

Elmers Gluestick caps also were found to have lots of lead; here's the report

Sun: Speaking at a news conference at the Union Baptist Head Start Center on Druid Hill Avenue, the Baltimore Democrat accused the company of not doing enough to keep children safe.

He focused on the Fisher Price Medical Kit, which according to research by Consumer Reports, contained pieces with lead concentration five times the federal standard [but has not been recalled!]. Fisher Price is a subsidiary of Mattel. .. full story


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new plan for Rotunda wins approval

Sun: The $130 million development also will bring condominiums, townhouses, a bookstore, restaurants and a new Giant supermarket to a retail and office center that has faded in recent years with the growth of suburban shopping malls and town centers. ... full story and images of what it might look like


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Dewalt drills and Christmas candles recalled

1. DEWALT Recalls Cordless Drills due to Fire Hazard

2. Christmas Candle Sets Recalled By Specialty Merchandise Corp. Due to Fire Hazard

details at cpsc.gov


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Thursday, December 20, 2007

interactive homicide map

Plug in the area you want to see and it shows you all the places homicides occurred. Pretty disconcerting.
http://essentials.baltimoresun.com/micro_sun/homicides/


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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

rental properties in county to be inspected

This is good news.

Examiner: Inspections of rental property will be required across Baltimore County after lawmakers extended a program targeting unkempt boarding homes and absentee landlords. ... more


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middle school creative-writing contest

Examiner: All Baltimore County public middle school students in grades six through eight are encouraged to enter their creative writings in the 11th annual Baltimore County Middle School Writing Contest. ... more


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Soldier Bear-brand toys and lawn mowers recalled


1. American Honda Motor Corp. Recalls Lawn Mowers Due to Laceration
Hazard
2. AAFES Recalls "Soldier Bear" Toys [not just the one pictured] Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard ... details for both here


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a new bouncy play venue

"The Ultimate Play Zone" just opened on York Road in Cockeysville. A friend went and reports it was a lot of fun. Here's what their web site says:

"You and your child are invited to come and play on our giant, soft, fun-filled interactive inflatables and creative play stations during Ultimate Play Zone Playtime.

Promote social development and physical fitness while bouncing, sliding, climbing and jumping at Ultimate Play Zone!

Enjoy meeting other parents and making new friends in a safe, clean, climate controlled environment! Don't forget to bring your socks!

  • Cost is $7.00 per child
  • Children must be between the ages of 2 to 6 to play
  • Parents play for free and are required to accompany the child
  • Reservations are not required
  • Socks and a signed waiver are required"


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news briefs from Baltimore County

Dec. 19 from The Sun


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the flu is here

Sun: Flu season is officially here. Although there's no indication that the season is shaping up to be a severe one, Baltimore's health commissioner, Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, said yesterday that doctors are reporting increasing numbers of patients with flulike symptoms. ... full story


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Baltimore County schools could face funding shortfalls

Sun: Funding shortfalls totaling millions of dollars could adversely affect the Baltimore County school system's ability to maintain some services, such as special-education programs, county school officials said last night. ... full story


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South Africa's new direction

I admit to being pretty uninformed about South Africa's politics, but I heard a story on NPR about its recent election and was pretty disturbed. Here's a story from Reuters:

... Adding to the mood of uncertainty is the threat of corruption charges hanging over Jacob Zuma in relation to an arms buying scandal, which make it conceivable that he could be jailed before he succeeds to the presidency. ... Apart from the corruption scandal, he was acquitted of rape in 2006. Evidence in that case, including his admission that he showered after sex with an HIV-positive family friend to avoid infection, tarnished his reputation. ... full story


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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Think globally, buy locally (a guide)

From the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance: "If you are concerned about strengthening the quality of life in Baltimore's neighborhoods and the economic vitality of the greater Baltimore area, you need to consider the positive impact you have when you buy from independent, locally owned businesses. Whether you are purchasing products or services as an individual or for an organization, choosing a locally owned business:

  • Keeps up to 3 times more dollars in our community
  • Supports and strengthens local jobs and businesses
  • Preserves and enhances our unique neighborhoods"
Click here for a directory.


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Bike helmets and safety harnesses recalled

1. Bicycle Helmets Recalled by Specialized Due to Failing Helmet
Standard

2. Full Body Safety Harnesses Recalled by Gorilla Due to Fall Hazard ... details for both here


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Tom Petty to play Super Bowl half-time show


Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are going to play at the Super Bowl's half-time show. They are my all-time-favorite band and this kind of made me sick to my stomach as those shows are so cheesy. But it sounds like he won't make too much of an ass of himself.


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police say Towson doesn't have gang problem

The Examiner: Despite three recent crimes involving attackers wearing red bandanas in downtown Towson, Baltimore County police say they don’t have a gang problem in the county’s crown jewel.

“Not everybody who wears a Ravens jacket is a Raven,” said Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey. “Not everybody who wears a red bandana is a Blood.” ... full story


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holiday recipes

BC: This month, Baltimore’s Child pays tribute to the food and family connection everyone shares during the holiday season.| Here are 12 time-proven recipes submitted by readers and staff. ... read more


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Monday, December 17, 2007

Latter-Day Republicans vs. the Church of Oprah

Here's an interesting piece by the Times' Frank Rich. I'll just go ahead and give away the ending:

... For those Americans looking for the most unambiguous way to repudiate politicians who are trying to divide the country by faith, ethnicity, sexuality and race, Mr. Obama is nothing if not the most direct shot. After hearing someone like Mitt Romney preach his narrow, exclusionist idea of “Faith in America,” some Americans may simply see a vote for Mr. Obama as a vote for faith in America itself.


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Kurtz says no more anonymous political operatives

A great piece by The Washington Post's media critic:

... The New Republic quotes a "rival strategist" as saying that Barack Obama "just looks and feels soft. Most Americans see that as disqualifying." So this stink-bomb thrower (not a Clintonite, the magazine hastens to add) is allowed to say that the Illinois senator is a wimp and therefore unfit for the presidency? This from someone on the payroll of another candidate? ...


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knock-knock joke for preschoolers

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Ahtch.

Ahtch who?

Bless you!


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mini-doc and Christmas story on Oella

Sun: The best Christmas movie you'll see this year has nothing to do with a hapless banker, spindly pine or Red Ryder BB Gun. Not if you go to YouTube and plug in "Oella," the name of the old Baltimore County mill town just up the hill from historic Ellicott City. [click here to see video]

There, you'll find a mini-documentary about Carl Taylor, an 80-year-old retired mill worker and model train collector. The Garden - A Christmas Story crams a season's worth of holiday spirit, humor and pathos into 5 minutes, 25 seconds. ... more


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Roland Park library reopens today

So glad the city had the foresight to renovate this building rather than tear it down.

Sun: At noon today, the Roland Park branch will reopen after an 18-month, $5.3 million renovation, marking an end to a major overhaul of the library system for this year. ... more


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Deal to sell Sparrows Point is dead

Sun story.


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Saturday, December 15, 2007

interesting profile on Mike Huckabee


NYT: ... Huckabee’s affability and populist economic and social views have sometimes been misinterpreted as a moderate brand of evangelical Christianity. In fact, as he wrote in his book ‘‘Character Makes a Difference,’’ he considers liberalism to be a cancer on Christianity. Huckabee is an admirer of the late Jerry Falwell (whose son, Jerry Jr., recently endorsed his candidacy) and subscribes wholeheartedly to the principles of the Moral Majority. He also affirms the Baptist Faith and Message statement: ‘‘The Holy Bible . . . has truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.’’ ... full story


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Times story on Internet bullying

I thought middle school was tough when I was there. Now everyone's got video/camera phones just waiting for a chance to capture you looking idiotic and share it with the world.

NYT: Like most mobs, the one that pursued Megan Meier was cruel and unrelenting. Its members gathered on the social networking site MySpace and called Megan a liar, a fat whore and worse.

“Mom, they’re being horrible!” Megan said, sobbing into the phone when her mother called. After an hour, Megan ran into her bedroom and hanged herself with a belt. ... full story


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Friday, December 14, 2007

fire-safety tips


The tragic fire in Roland Park recently has me thinking about fire safety.

Here's what the U.S. Fire Administration has to say about smoke detectors:

"Ionization alarms sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs. Photoelectric alarms are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires. There are also combination smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms. [Here's one available at Lowes.]

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric or dual sensor smoke alarms." (more info here)

Here's info on creating escape plans and on how to be safe during the holidays.

I haven't seen any articles on this, but it's also important to think about how you'd get to your kids if they were upstairs and you were downstairs (whether you're watching a movie in the basement family room or sleeping on different levels) and the stairs were engulfed in flames. This comes to mind because a woman I know slept on the second floor of her house with her husband, and her kids slept on the third floor. They were selling the house and had just moved out when it was struck by lightning and the third floor went up in flames. She realized she had figured out how to get her kids out of the rooms if she were with them, but she hadn't figured out how she'd get to them if the stairs were blocked.


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inexperienced principals linked to failing schools

Sun: An alarming proportion of Maryland's poorest and lowest-performing schools have the least-experienced principals and struggle with high turnover in leadership, according to a study of dozens of schools in the region released yesterday.

Paying substantial bonuses and other financial incentives are crucial to reversing that trend and improving academics at "challenging schools," concludes the study, which was conducted by Advocates for Children and Youth, a Baltimore-based nonprofit group. ... story


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Soon city residents can use one bin for recycling and mix paper with bottles, etc.

Way to go, Sheila. This will make it much easier for people, although weekly pickups would be better. Would be nice if the county followed suit. ... Sun story.


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Thursday, December 13, 2007

potentially deadly bunk beds, teethers recalled, plus 4 others


1. Hooker Furniture Recalls Bunk Beds Due to Strangulation Hazard
2. Codee International Corp. Recalls Children's Jewelry Due to Risk of
Lead Exposure
3. Children's Toys Recalled by Dollar Tree Stores Due to Violation of
Lead Paint Standard
4. AutoZone Recalls Booster Cables Due to Electrical Hazard
5. Infantino Recalls Infant Teethers Due to Choking Hazard
6. Venmar Ventilation Inc. Recalls Heat Recovery Ventilators Due to
Fire Hazard ... all at cpsc.gov


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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ike Turner died

Here's the story.


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it's getting kinda nasty out there on the trail

Associated Press: A top adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign said Wednesday that Democrats should give more thought to Sen. Barack Obama's admissions of illegal drug use before they pick a presidential candidate. ... full article

And this story about battling religions is just so ridiculous on so many levels ...

Associated Press: Republican Mitt Romney retorted to questions about his faith by surging rival Mike Huckabee on Wednesday, declaring that "attacking someone's religion is really going too far."

In an article to be published Sunday in The New York Times, Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, asks, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" ... full article


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MARC adding trains to Penn Line schedule

Now if only they would have the light rail go to Penn Station where you catch the MARC. Head slap!

Sun: Seeking to relieve persistent overcrowding on commuter trains, the state Board of Public Works approved a plan this morning to add three trips to the MARC Penn Line between Baltimore and Washington each evening by mid-February. ... full story


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8 Christmas menus

"Easy cheesy" caught my eye. ... Yahoo story/menus.


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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

new meat-eating dinosaur found
(well, not NEW new)

LiveScience: ... The upright-walking creature grinned with a mouth full of banana-sized teeth, stood taller than a double-decker bus and weighed more than two standard-sized cars. .... full story


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Al Gore petition

From Al Gore: In less than forty-eight hours, I will step onstage at the UN Climate Conference in Bali. With me I will bring hundreds of thousands of messages demanding that a visionary global treaty be completed and brought into effect by 2010.

If we want to solve the climate crisis, together we need to demonstrate the broad public support for action. That's why it's vital that you sign our petition right now by visiting:

http://climateprotect.org/standwithal

Over the past few months we've taken many positive steps towards uniting governments worldwide around the goal of solving the climate crisis. Just over a week ago on December 3rd, Australia's new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was sworn in. His first formal act in office was to ratify the Kyoto Treaty. This was a clear demonstration of Australia's priorities.

Yet this progress has not swayed the Bush Administration. With thousands of delegates gathered in Bali for the UN Climate Conference, this is our last chance in 2007 to show the world how serious the American people are about ending the climate crisis. That's why it is so vital that all of us join together and demonstrate the political will of our country.

Only two days remain before I deliver your messages to the delegates meeting in Bali. Over the past few days more than 173,963 people have added their voices. Don't miss this incredible opportunity to demonstrate your support for a visionary global treaty to end the climate crisis.

Sign our petition, then reach out to everyone you know and ask them to sign today by visiting:

http://climateprotect.org/standwithal

Your activism and enthusiasm for this cause inspire me every day.

Thank you,

Al Gore


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Grasmick reappointed under questionable circumstances

Sun: ... Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who had urged the board to delay a vote until Gov. Martin O'Malley had the opportunity to appoint three new members, called the action "a terrible mistake" and "a direct slap in the face of the governor."

Grasmick's new term takes effect July 1, the same day O'Malley's new appointees will join the board. Miller said those appointees should decide Grasmick's future because Marylanders chose O'Malley to be governor instead of re-electing his Republican predecessor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ... full article


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strollers, curling irons, elliptical trainers and scuba products recalled

1. Stokke Announces Recall of Certain Xplory(r) Strollers Due to Front
Wheel Detachment (Hi, these sell for $770!!!)

2. Hairstyling Irons Recalled by Farouk Systems Inc. Due to Fire and
Burn Hazards

3. Fitness Quest Recalls Eclipse Elliptical Trainers Due to Fall Hazard

4. ROMI Recalls SCUBA Regulators Due to Drowning Hazard ... details on all at www.cpsc.gov.


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Infestation of moths hits trees in Baltimore County’s parks

Examiner: Something was missing atop the hundreds of chestnut oaks sweeping Oregon Ridge Park in Baltimore County this year: leaves.This autumn, the usually golden foliage of the 900 century-old trees succumbed to an untreated gypsy moth infestation, officials said. ... full story


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Juveniles found delinquent in playground burning of boy

These little sh**s. I can only imagine how I'd feel if this happened to one of my kids at a playground.

Examiner: A Baltimore County judge has found two 17-year-old boys delinquent for pouring a caustic chemical on playground equipment and causing severe burns to a 3-year-old boy. ... full story


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Romney coming to Maryland

Sun: Mitt Romney has bolstered his presidential campaign in Maryland, adding prominent Republicans to a state steering committee and scheduling a major fundraiser in Baltimore County today.

The former Massachusetts governor plans to attend a reception today at the Green Spring Valley home of Robert G. Sabelhaus, a Citigroup executive formerly with Legg Mason. ... full story


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Nancy Grasmick -- in or out?

I heard her on WYPR a few months ago and she was asked about schools' curriculum and the complaint that kids are being taught to the test and not taught to be independent thinkers. I must say, her answer was disappointing. She said something along the lines of people wanting high test scores so they would be delivered. She didn't even seem to think there was a larger issue here.

Sun: Nancy S. Grasmick has adeptly survived several governors - both Republican and Democratic - in her 16 years as the state's education czar, but a political battle appears to be developing over whether she should be reappointed for another term.

Grasmick told the State Board of Education recently that she would like to remain in her job when her contract expires June 30, and the board was set to vote today in private session on whether to reappoint her. ... full story


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metal detectors at city schools

Sun: The Baltimore school system is preparing to install metal detectors in any middle and high schools where the community supports use of the devices, officials said yesterday.

System officials are surveying principals, staff and parents to see whether any communities want to require students either to pass through a metal detector or to undergo a scan with a hand-held wand. No schools will be forced to install detectors, but schools chief Andres Alonso says he supports giving principals the option if there is community support. ... full story


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Progress reports disputed in Baltimore County

Sun: The first marking period of the school year has come and gone, but the conflicts surrounding the Baltimore County school system's initiative to provide parents more detailed progress reports persist.

The teachers union continues to oppose it, maintaining that preparing the reports will add to their already overflowing plates. ... full story


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Monday, December 10, 2007

a great cook who can give lessons or cook in your home

She's very talented and super sweet.

"Our mission is to share health-supportive foods with others through cooking and teaching. Our menus are based on a whole foods plant-based diet, with the addition of high quality dairy products, free-range poultry and fresh fish for those who desire it. We are committed to buying as much as possible from local producers in order to get the freshest ingredients and to support our local farmers and economy.


Real Fine Food founder Renae Ask graduated from the Chefs Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in Manhattan. Before attending cooking school, she lived in the Mediterranean region--Cairo, Beirut and Rome--for eight years, during which time she learned to appreciate eating delicious fresh, local, seasonal foods. Upon returning to her home town of Minneapolis in 2006, Renae started Real Fine Foods, catering natural foods meals for individuals and events. She also produced and sold Real Fine Crackers--made with locally grown organic ingredients--at the Mill City Farmers Market during the 2007 season. Renae moved to the DC area with her husband in August 2007. She loves to travel and to experience local cuisine wherever she goes."

See info here.


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Rodgers Forge Elementary PTA meeting is Dec. 11

info here: http://rodgersforgepta.org/page/calendar_2007.html


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You can drop off toys for Toys for Tots at Babies R Us in Towson

"Toys "R" Us, Inc. and the Toys "R" Us Children's Fund began their partnership with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in 2004. During the holiday season, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores serve as giving headquarters by collecting toy and cash donations in all locations nationwide. The company is proud to be the largest retail partner in the history of Toys for Tots, having raised over $10.5 million and collected more than 600,000 toys since the partnership's inception. In 2006, Toys "R" Us, Inc. helped Toys for Tots provide toys to a record 7.6 million needy kids living in poverty in the United States. Knowing that a toy is magic in the hands of a child, especially during the holidays, Toys "R" Us, Inc. will continue its partnership with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation during the 2007 Christmas season."


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Sunday, December 9, 2007

train garden in Mt. Washington

We've not been yet, but I hear there is a great train display at the Baltimore City Fire Station at 2700 Glen Avenue at Cross Country Blvd in Mt. Washington. It's open daily 10-8 through January 13. Here's an old story from City Paper. Call 410-396-0171 for details.


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Friday, December 7, 2007

Dollar events this weekend

Each year for one weekend only, Downtown's top attractions reduce their admission to just $1 or less. Mark your calendar for this year's Dollar or Less Days on December 8 and 9, and plan to bring the whole family.


American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway
$1 admission Sunday, 410.244.1900, avam.org

Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum, 216 Emory Street
$1 admission Sunday only, 410.727.1539, baberuthmuseum.com

Baltimore Maritime Museum, Piers 3 & 5
$1 admission (per site) Sunday, 410.396.3453, baltomaritimemuseum.org

Baltimore Museum of Industry, 1415 Key Highway
$1 admission both days, 410.727.4808, thebmi.org

Baltimore Public Works Museum, 751 Eastern Avenue
$1 admission both days, 410.396.5565, baltimorepublicworksmuseum.org

Carroll Mansion, 800 E. Lombard Street
$1 admission both days, 410.605.2964, carrollmuseums.org

Contemporary Museum, 100 W. Centre Street
Free admission both days, 410.783.5720, contemporary.org

Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum, 203 N. Amity Street
$1 admission Saturday, 410.396.7932, poecelebration.tripod.com

Evergreen Museum & Library, 4545 N. Charles Street
$1 admission both days, 410.516.0341, museums.jhu.edu

Homewood Museum, 3400 N. Charles Street
$1 admission both days, 410.516.5589, museums.jhu.edu

Immigration Time Porthole, 808 S. Ann Street
$1 admission both days, 410.675.6750, preservationsociety.com

Irish Railroad Workers Museum & Shrine, 920 Lemmon Street
Free admission Saturday, 410.669.8154, irishshrine.org

Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St.
Free admission both days, 410.685.3750, mdhs.org

Maryland Science Center, 601 Light Street
$1 admission both days (exhibit hall only), 410.685.5225, marylandsciencecenter.org

National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt Street
$1 base admission both days 10am- 4pm, 410.576.3800, aqua.org

National Museum of Dentistry, 31 S. Greene Street
$1 admission both days, 410.706.0600, www.dentalmuseum.edu

Phoenix Shot Tower, 801 E. Fayette Street
$1 admission both days, 410.605.2964, carrollmuseums.org

Port Discovery, the Children’s Museum in Baltimore, 35 Market Place
$1 admission Sunday, 410.727.8120, portdiscovery.org

The Rectory, 24 W. Saratoga Street
Free admission Saturday, 410.685.2886, preservemd.org

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, 830 E. Pratt Street
$1 admission both days, 443.263.1800, africanamericanculture.org

Robert Long House, 812 S. Ann Street
$1 admission both days, 410.675.6750, preservationsociety.com

Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, 301 W. Camden Street
$1 admission Saturday only, 410.727.1539, baberuthmuseum.com

Top of the World Observation Level, World Trade Center, 401 E. Pratt Street
$1 admission both days, 410.837.VIEW, viewbaltimore.org

USS Constellation Museum, Pier 1, 301 E. Pratt Street
$1 admission Sunday, 410.539.1797, constellation.org

Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles Street
Free admission both days to the permanent collection, 410.547.9000, thewalters.org

Washington Monument & Museum, Mt. Vernon Place
Free admission both days, 410.396.1049


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thinking of getting your kid a cell phone?

This story in Baltimore's Child says think again.


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police cracking down on rowdy Towson U students

Towson Times: Baltimore County police are continuing to take "a proactive approach" when it comes to problems caused by college students living off campus, according to Lt. Al Jones. Complaints have centered on noise, loud parties in the wee hours, underage drinking, public intoxication, public urination and littering. ... full article


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you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here

Towson Times: Jim Oleyar, a resident of the Penthouse high-rise on Allegheny Avenue, loves living in the middle of Towson -- until the bars let out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, he said. ... full article



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Thursday, December 6, 2007

tons of recalls ... lead, choking, etc.

1. Collins International Co. Recalls Oscillating Ceramic Heaters Sold
at Menards Retail Stores Due To Fire Hazard

2. TKS Children's Pants Recalled by Sears; Drawstrings at Waist Pose
Entrapment Hazard

3. Basic Editions Girls' Clothing Sets Recalled by Kmart; Drawstrings
at Waist Pose Entrapment Hazard

4. Personal Identity Children's Sweaters with Drawstrings Recalled by
Sears Due to Strangulation Hazard

5. RC2 Recalls Potty Training Seats Due to Violation of Lead Paint
Standard

6. RC2 Recalls The First Years(tm) Children's Feeding Seats Due to Fall
Hazard

7. Boys' Hooded Sweatshirts with Drawstrings Recalled by Scope Apparel
Due to Strangulation Hazard

8. The Home Depot Recalls Holiday Figurines Due to Lead Paint Hazard

9. Starbucks Recalls Coffee Mugs Due To Burn Hazard; Product
Manufactured by lab921 ... details for all here


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Tiny smart cars arrive in US next month (my husband is dying for one of these)

A nice compliment to our ginormous minivan...

Boston Globe ... Next month, smart cars are finally expected to go on sale in the United States. In anticipation, about 30,000 customers here already have put down $99 deposits. Others with less patience have paid as much as $39,000 for so-called gray-market European versions that have been converted to meet US safety and emissions standards, even though they will be sold here at three lower price levels. Starting prices are $11,590, $13,590, and $16,950 (for a convertible model)....full article


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Key study links childhood weight to adult heart disease

Do you have a chunky monkey? Read on...

Washington Post: Being overweight as a child significantly increases the risk for heart disease in adulthood as early as age 25, according to a large study that provides the most powerful evidence yet that the increase in obesity is spawning a generation prone to serious health problems later in life. ... full article


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publicly funded home school program in Baltimore County

If you want to home school your child(ren) for whatever reason, Baltimore County participates in an online program from Connections Academy that has teachers and a curriculum and is totally free to families.
Here's info:


The Baltimore County Virtual Instruction Program (BCVIP) provides a new form of public school program that students can attend from home. This program is a unique in that it combines strong parental involvement, the expertise and accountability of publicly funded education, and the flexibility of online classes.

BCVIP is a special full-time virtual pilot program developed by the Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) in partnership with Connections Academy. BCVIP serves students in grades K–11 who reside in the Baltimore County Public School district and who are currently homeschooled.

Parents pay no tuition for students to attend BCVIP. Students are considered to be enrolled in a public school. BCVIP provides textbooks and other curriculum materials. All materials must be returned if the student is no longer enrolled. Students are required to take all state-mandated, standardized tests in person at locations designated by BCPS. ... details here


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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

snow-day school-closing info

Details here.


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recalls


1. Icon Health & Fitness Recalls Inversion Benches Due to Fall Hazard
2. General Electric Recalls Microwave Combo Wall Ovens Due to Fire
Hazard
3. Black & Decker Brand Toasters Recalled By Applica Consumer Products
Inc. Due to Fire Hazard
4. Bell Racing Recalls Collectible Mini Racing Helmets Due to Violation
of Lead Paint Standard
5. Child's Death Leads to Recall of Entertainment Centers by Ameriwood; Units Can Collapse

details at cpsc.gov


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Choral music at Belvedere Square on Saturday

"Be sure to stop by on Saturday, December 8, at Belvedere Square to see the New Wave Singers (www.newwavesingers.org) perform an eclectic repertoire of choral music from madrigal to pop, classical to jazz, featuring music that promotes justice and peace, and celebrates life in all its diversity. The New Wave Singers will perform twice: at 2 p.m. and at 3:15 p.m."


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dog found near Tot Lot

Karl Pfrommer reports:
Wednesday morning a Rodgers Forge resident found a dog,
with no collar, wandering around on Blenheim Road,
coming from Overbrook toward the Tot Lot.

Email rodgers.forge@hotmail.com for contact info.


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Reimbursement to Balto. County schools declines

Sun: Medicaid reimbursements to the Baltimore County school system for services to certain special-education students were down last year by about $1 million from the year before, and the system might need to change the way it covers those expenses, according to a report presented during last night's school board meeting. ... full article


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A note from the Rodgers Forge Elementary PTA Capacity Committee


"A belated thank you to seventy of you who came to the
October 23 Board of Education meeting. Our presence
made an impression. Board members appreciated the
information we shared in a non-confrontational style.
Thank you also to those of you who came to the
November 13 meeting at school. You made your concerns
clear.

The Capacity committee plans to have a follow-up
meeting with Don Dent to find out how we can be
involved in both the planning and implementing of
short-term solutions to overcrowding at our school."


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Police Want Parents Informed About Scooters and Minibikes

Something perhaps apropos for the gift-giving season:

Baltimore County, Md. (December 4, 2007) - Motorized scooters, mini-scooters, “pocket rockets,” and similar devices have grown in popularity and have generated a number of questions among consumers and community groups. In response, the Baltimore County Police Department offers these guidelines on owning and operating equipment. ... details here


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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Kids have a cough? Try honey.

AP: A teaspoon of honey before bed seems to calm children's coughs and help them sleep better, according to a new study that relied on parents' reports of their children's symptoms. ... full article


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Monday, December 3, 2007

Old Navy Recalls Boys' Jackets; Drawstring at Waist Poses Entrapment


Details here.


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Democrats debate on NPR tomorrow (December 4)

"No lights. No cameras. Just our microphones -- and your questions.
On Dec. 4, 2-4 p.m. EST, NPR and Iowa Public Radio will host a Democratic presidential candidates' debate." ... You can listen on 88.1 WYPR.


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U.S. intel says Iran not building nuclear weapons

NYT: WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb. ... Concerns about Iran were raised sharply after President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to “World War III,” and Vice President Dick Cheney promised “serious consequences” if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program. ... full article and something in a sort of similar vein


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local food banks running low on food

Sun: The Maryland Food Bank, one of more than 200 nationwide sponsored by America's Second Harvest, provides nearly 12 million pounds of food annually to 1,000 community groups.

And though donations are up about 600,000 pounds from this time last year, Flateman said, the Maryland Food Bank has only about two weeks' inventory on hand and is distributing 3 percent more than last year. ... full article


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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Underfunded Schools Forced To Cut Past Tense From Language Programs

The Onion:
WASHINGTON—Faced with ongoing budget crises, underfunded schools nationwide are increasingly left with no option but to cut the past tense—a grammatical construction traditionally used to relate all actions, and states that have transpired at an earlier point in time—from their standard English and language arts programs. ... more


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tour of Rodgers Forge Elementary this Tuesday

Tour for prospective families on Dec. 4 at 9:30 a.m.


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bullying moves from schoolyard to computer

I am so not looking forward to the teenage years.

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - US researchers warn that bullies are taking their hurtful ways from real-world schoolyards to the "cyber" world by targeting teens with nasty e-mail, text messaging, and online chat.
The number of children ages 10 to 17 that say they were abused by "cyber bullies" climbed 50 percent, from six percent in 2000 to nine percent in 2005, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ... more


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Saturday, December 1, 2007

What's up with the Weiskittel Mansion at Stevenson and Bellona?

This house was purchased for $394,000 in 2006 and has been for sale forever, now with an asking price of $800,000 or as a rental for $3,300 per month. (Here are some articles about the people who renovated it. Sounds like there were some good intentions but the housing slump might have hit them hard.)

It looks absolutely gorgeous inside (though I would have done the kitchen differently) but it's in such an odd place. I have been told that most of the yard area is actually public property, and it just seems so out there. I really hope something good comes of it. A tea shop? An office for a historic-preservation-type group? A place to hold Agatha Christie book groups?


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something to consider when you're choosing a place to fill up

BP pleaded guilty this week to spilling 200,000 gallons of oil, and agreed to pay $20 million in penalties (BP had more than $20 billion in profits last year). Reuters says the leaks "were the result of BPXA's failure to heed many red flags and warning signs of imminent internal corrosion that a reasonable operator should have recognized."


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area home break-ins

From Karl:
In the past two weeks there have been two break-ins of homes on Litchfield Road [one block north of Regester on the east side of York Road] and one on Loch Hill Rd. The point of attack has been windows and doors. Detectives are diligently working these cases and they put flyers on some Litchfield residents' cars. Please report any suspicious persons in the neighborhood and double check the security of your own home.


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Melissa Tillman, Realtor
The Rodgers Forge Resident Expert


site sponsor

Melissa M. Tillman, Realtor
Sales Associate
Your Rodgers Forge "Resident Expert"
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Equal Housing Opportunity
7402 York Road, Suite 204
Towson, MD 21204

melissamtillman@comcast.net
410-377-2618
click here for web site


Having grown up the daughter of a successful Realtor, I feel that real estate is "in my blood"! I learned from a very young age the 'ins and outs' of real estate, learning first hand the art of negotiation, sales and marketing. I can say without question that my knowledge of Real Estate, the markets I serve and my committment to service, detail and professionalism will instill in my clients a feeling of comfort and confidence throughout our real estate adventures.

I am active in my community - which I believe is an exellent way for me to stay in touch with what is going on in and around the markets I serve.

I have served three terms as President of the Rodgers Forge Community Association, having served three terms prior as Vice President. I have also been active with the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, where we address the concerns of our communities. Additionally, I am a member of the Loyola Blakefield Mother's Club, in an effort to be involved in the educational environment of my son, Timothy.

Excellent service combined with attention to detail are what my clients deserve. It is important to me to know well the markets in which I sell so that I can best serve my buyers and sellers. I enjoy specializing in the needs of first-time home buyers, as well as sellers desiring a full-service listing agent who brings a customized marketing approach to the sale of their property.

Earned Accredited Buyer Representitive (ABR) designation in 1999. Earned At Home with Diversity Designation in 2000.

Licensed Realtor since 1997, Accredited Buyers Representitive (ABR Designation), Corporate Mentor for new licensees, Consistent Multi-Million Dollar Producer Rookie of the Year & Blue Ribbon Club Awards-1998/1999,Graduate of GBBR Leadership Academy 2000, Home Team Spirit Award, 2000 (voted by peers), Directors Club, 2000 & 2001, Diamond Society 2002 & 2003.

melissamtillman@comcast.net
410-377-2618
click here for web site


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