Friday, September 27, 2013

100 year flood

     I attended a Baltimore County meeting this week regarding Roland Run Creek and its floodplain. It turns out my neighborhood,  but not my house, is in the creek's one hundred year floodplain. According to a study done this year and contracted out by Baltimore County, if it rains 7.1 inches in a twenty-four hour period in our region, our neighborhood will be evacuated, and many homes will be flooded. Upon hearing this, many of my neighbors seemed resigned to the  news--they've lived in the neighborhood for decades and saw this coming. There is a levee along the creek, but we were told it was never up to FEMA standards, and never will be (it would require money that nobody has and a change to road and bridge elevations that are impractical). That was news to me, and, it seemed, to many others.
    In this meeting we were also given information about the recently passed Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. The Act will remove federal subsidies for flood insurance, among other things. Baltimore county's flood insurance is currently being subsidized by 38%. Flood insurance will cost more for my neighbors who have not already purchased it and now must.
    When hurricane Sandy hit, it rained at least 7.1 inches in twenty-four hours in our area, but we all seemed to manage. I'm hoping that we can come up with creative ways to manage in the future.
     Part of the reason I went to this meeting was to voice concern about the invasive plant species growing unchecked along Roland Run Creek. I was surprised to hear that invasives are of concern to the County even though they don't know what to do about them. I think they're best option at this point is to kill these plants using chemicals. After that, a stream restoration project seems like a viable next step to mitigating additional invasive damage and possibly flood damage as well.
    Learning more in the near future.

    Roland Run Creek on a sunny day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Washington D.C. habitat

     The Smithsonian Butterfly Habitat Garden, a peaceful, secluded, walkway lined with native flowering plants, is located between the Natural History Museum and 9th Street in downtown D.C. It feels like a space apart from the Mall's high impact, tourist bustle. I visited last weekend to check out the garden's honeybee activity (at least one hive is on site at Natural History).
     Below you can see the gals feeding on and pollinating a variety of asters, which bloom in late summer and fall.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


     When you hike up into a cloud, as my friend and I did last weekend in the Catskills, it's misty—rainy even. Dry rocks become treacherous Slip 'N Slides beneath your feet. The fog is at once eerie and comforting. The woods become quiet and contemplative. Birds don't make a sound.

     Having watched too many civil war movies as a child, I could not help imagining smokey muskets and men rising from the ground around every corner (something I regularly visualize in the woods). My friend and I encountered not one musket or clandestine man, not even a bear. But there was a precipice and a dangling bear bag, a nice looking bed of pine needles that I contemplated lying on, good conversation, and the promise to return and next time climb even higher into the clouds.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Recently viewed films, compiled, with grades

Below is a list of films, mostly dramas, mostly crime dramas, that I watched this summer, but haven't had time to review. They are worth your time, which is why we're here. 
Each film is labeled by genre and graded. If the grade is at least a B, you should watch it. If the grade is an A, you should watch it multiple times and study it carefully.

The Right Stuff (1983). Drama. A+

Rust and Bone (2012). Drama/Foreign. B

20 Feet from Stardom (2013). Documentary. A-

The Spectacular Now (2013).  Comedy/Drama. B+

Memories of Murder (2003). Crime drama/Foreign. A-

L.A. Confidential (1997). Crime drama. A

Kick-Ass (2010). Action. B-

Zodiac (2007). Crime drama. B

Blackfish (2013). Documentary. C

Elysium (2013). Action/Science Fiction. D+

Oldboy (2003). Crime drama/Foreign/Thriller. B-

If you want to talk about any and/or all of these films in detail, I'm game, but you're buying the beer.