Way..... Out there !

Way..... Out there !
Deepest, most colorful Hubble image yet of our universe. Click for info.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Horror in Iran — And the Beauty

A staple saying of American patriotism is: "Freedom isn't Free!" Nowhere is this better illustrated these days than in Iran, where a popular protest against what people worldwide see as a rigged election outcome is being met with brute force by government thugs. Peaceful marches of millions of Iranians have been broken up by attackers with clubs, tear gas, and guns.

There isn't much outsiders can do about it—any interference (real or manufactured) is seized upon by the government of Iran in an effort to shift the blame for the problem to anyone or anywhere but them. Nonetheless, we can keep up to date and issue what encouragement we can to the protesters through Twitter (add hashtag #iranelection to your posts, and search for that tag to see the tens of thousands of others). President Obama has issued cautious statements condemning the violence, but wisely avoiding overt endorsement of the protests.

News of the protests can be found at the New York Times' blog The Lede; as well as at the Huffington Post's Iran Updates blog by the indefatigable Nico Pitney. There is also a good running account of important events on the blog of the (U.S.) National Iranian-American Council. A website in the name of Mir Hossein Mousavi (the allegedly defeated candidate in the elections) is useful, and Mousavi has his own (official) page on Facebook, too (partly in Persian). Finally, the Twitspam website keeps tabs on garbage posts on Twitter from internet trolls and Iranian government disinformation efforts.

John L.

Fascinating Tehran: Not everything in the capital of Iran is ablaze with conflict. It's generally a large, modern city, as shown in these photos posted by a native. Note that there are two pages of pix, linked at the bottom of the page.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Miracle on Hallmark Drive !

Only a few days ago I lamented the once-again weedy appearance of our entrance area. But what a difference a few days has made! The weeds have been banished, and there are new plantings by the electrical box and by our sign, which seems to have been moved to better advertise our existence.

It looks as though the beds over the creek remain untouched; perhaps the directors ran out of money? (Who can tell? There are no reports or minutes of their meetings on the HW website.) But the two areas that have been updated begin to look good.... almost as though the people here are actually proud of their community and its appearance.

I'd have photos of the new plantings, but it's been rainy. Soon......

John L.

Fathers' Day: The rains stopped for the nonce, so here's a couple of images of our wonderful new entrance.

Getting there.... someday!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Stealth Board of Directors?

Has anyone else noticed? The Hallmark Woods website no longer has any minutes of any meetings: not the board of directors, not the annual meeting, nada! There's only a lame notice of cancellation of the directors' scheduled June 1 meeting.

Are there no minutes? Or are they just no longer being shared with the community? Maybe if enough HW residents ask.....??? Or maybe the directors really aren't doing anything?

And what became of the vaunted new entrance landscaping? No signs of life there, either, just ever-growing weeds, and another lame line on the website urging us to watch for the new landscaping..... zzzzzzzzz.....

John L.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rainscaping — Keep Pollution Out of the Bay

The Rainscaping campaign is underway... there 's a website, signs you can post, example rain gardens to visit, and now a video on YouTube featuring the program's sparkplug, Zora Lathan. In a recent report to participants, she wrote:

The RainScaping Campaign—an Environmental Partnership for Stormwater Runoff Solutions—currently has 37 (and growing) partners, all with a common purpose of improving the health of our tributaries and the Chesapeake Bay by motivating a critical mass of residents to make RainScaping the norm in Anne Arundel County. After more than a year of planning and development, the RainScaping Campaign, including RainScaping.org, was officially launched on Earth Day, April 22, 2009, to encourage residents to practice “RainScaping…Beautiful Solutions to Water Pollution.” RainScaping, aka Low Impact Development (LID), is a broad term for a series of landscaping technique, including the installation of rain gardens, using rain barrels, planting native trees and shrubs, replacing impervious surfaces with permeable surfaces and more—all of which reduce polluted runoff.....

Check it out. Consider installing a rain garden in your own yard. Or a rain barrel to catch some of the wasted water from your house's downspouts. Or volunteer to help out. Little by little we can Save The Bay!

John L.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It Can't Happen Here..... — UPDATED

He was just riding his bike in his neighborhood when they came at him. Maybe seven older boys who thought it acceptable behavior to slug Christopher Jones in the head. But there were eyewitnesses as Jones tried to pedal away but fell from his bike and hit his head on the street. He died. Last night there was a vigil for the kid on the street where he died.... the street by his house. The Baltimore Sun had the story:

"I want to encourage you tonight to make a choice to give up the violence … not retaliate, to forgive," Pastor Dennis Gray, of the Riva Trace Baptist Church, told the crowd, many of them teens, gathered at the spot where Christopher D. Jones was fatally injured Saturday in his Crofton neighborhood.

Could this happen in Hallmark Woods? Read the story in the Sun. In an earlier story in The Washington Post, Jones' mother had it right: it could happen anywhere. Even in a nice, clean, upscale neighborhood with neat little brick houses.

We can pray for Christopher, and go leave flowers at the memorial on his street. But we also need to promise ourselves to do whatever it takes to see that our kids know the difference between right and wrong, and that they have the inner strength to always stand firmly for the right.

John L.

"Hours after the funeral for Christopher David Jones, police Chief Col. James Teare Sr. told a crowd of more than 500 people to expect to see a mobile command unit, along with foot and bicycle patrols in their Crofton-area neighborhoods."

Wanna bet it doesn't last? What will be the situation a year from now? Will the cops still be there? Will the parents step up?


Update 2: Today (Wed. 10 June) the Baltimore Sun has more. Seems a firebombing in Odenton may have been an attempt at revenge for Christopher's death.