A pedicab driver scammed my daughter and me in Manhattan recently. My daughter and I Christmas shopped for several hours one day in December. As we walked towards our hotel, we decided to climb into a bicycle rickshaw. The driver gave us a heavy wool blanket and rolled down a thick plastic sheet for warmth. Our pedicab weaved in and out of swarming -yellow taxicabs. Some came within inches of our cart. I contemplated jumping out, but I stayed to enjoy the relaxing adventure with my daughter.
After six blocks of horn-screaming bumper-to-bumper traffic, my heart was pounding. I had enough fun.
I was looking forward to a great dinner with my family, so I wasn’t ready to die in a pedicab. (They would never let me live it down.)
When we exited the rickshaw, the driver said that we owed him $40. As I questioned him about the price, a man pulled up next to us and asked about our discussion. I said that the driver charged us $40 for pedaling six blocks. When the man glared at the rickshaw driver, I knew that we were scammed. I tossed $20 to the rickshaw driver and walked away.
I researched pedicab companies to learn the appropriate cost for pedicab rides. The Central Park Pedicab Tour site’s price list seems reasonable. Also, The NYC Pedicab Owners’ Association offers tips to avoid scams. My advice is to negotiate a price before climbing into a bicycle- rickshaw -death trap.
What has been your experience with pedicabs in Manhattan?
- A Rickshaw Journey… Some Wisdom… A Day in the Life of Conifer Handmades (coniferhandmadepaperjourney.wordpress.com)
The American Kennel Club recently added the Leonberger dog to its registry of purebreds. This is still causing controversy among some members of the Leonberger Club of America who previously controlled the breed. The LCA had imposed strict breeding requirements to test male and female dogs for health and conformation standards previous to breeding. While the AKC requires some health testing, their requirements are not as stringent as the LCA, and the long-term health and breed standard of the Leonberger may be jeopardized.
The Leonberger was accepted into the American Kennel Club on June 30, 2010. It is the 167th breed added to the AKC registry.
The AKC, founded in 1884, sponsors dog events and registers purebred dogs. According to the AKC, a purebred dog has ancestry from the same breed. When a puppy is registered with the AKC, the dog’s lineage is included on the pedigree.
“The biggest argument we had with the AKC was they stopped short of having heavy disciplinary measures spelled out” if the breeders did not follow the breeding rules, said Bill Wilson, the treasurer of the LCA who initially opposed the club joining the AKC but eventually supported it. He added that while the LCA remains the “parent club” that oversees the Leonberger breed, it does not have any “enforcement capabilities” under the AKC.
The only regulation that the AKC has is that both parents have pedigree papers, Wilson said. He also said that the AKC markets puppies to the community as if they are a “Good Housekeeping Seal registry.”
On the positive side, Wilson added that the AKC spends money on research, education and non-show activities.
The Leonberger, or “gentle giant,” was categorized as a “rare breed” before AKC
Heinrich Essig, an elected official in Leonberg, Germany, created the breed during the 1800‘s. Essig wanted a dog that resembled the lion on the Leonberg crest. He bred a St. Bernard with a Landseer Newfoundland. He eventually added a Great Pyrenees to the mix. The Leonberger breed was introduced at the Oktoberfest in Munich in 1870. The Leonberger stands 25 1/2 to 31 1/2 inches tall at the shoulders. They have a long-double coat that protects them from the weather. Their coat ranges from “lion” yellow to brown, and their fur often has black tips. Leonbergers also have a “dry mouth,” which prevents drooling.
They have webbed feet, are considered strong swimmers, and have an instinct for water rescue.
The Leonberger is considered a “working dog,” because they pull sleds and carts, protect homes and farms, and are used for therapy and agility training.
Judy Johnston, a governing committee member for the LCA, said she wanted the AKC acceptance because it was inevitable, but she wanted the LCA to become the parent club. A parent club promotes their breed through education and community programs.
“It had worked out pretty well” for people interested in participating in many dog shows, Johnston said. However, she said that AKC competition is “cut throat” since some people pay professional handlers.
Johnston said that the biggest fear before joining the AKC was that the breed would become extremely popular and breeding would be compromised. She said she doesn’t think that has happened.
Beverly Travis, the breeders’ assistant with the LCA, said that she was totally against joining the AKC. She added that the AKC is concerned with money and power not the breed’s welfare. For example, she said that the cost to register one puppy with the AKC is $20.
Travis said that the LCA tested potential Leonberger parents for hip, elbow, eye and thyroid problems. She said that the dogs had to meet certain standards for breeding purposes. The AKC runs similar tests, she said, but dogs only have to pass the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals test, or hip test, for breeding eligibility.
Travis added that the LCA website has a section called the Canine Health Information Center where a consumer can view the results of all of these tests. She suggests that consumers educate themselves about health issues before purchasing a Leonberger.
Travis said that the popularity of the Leonberger breed has greatly increased under the AKC. She also said that because AKC dog show judges prefer smaller dogs, she fears the Leonberger will be bred to fit that mold. She added that AKC membership and breeding will ultimately impact the Leonberger’s health.
- The Lovely Leonberger (trushin.wordpress.com)
Some of the occupants have jobs and others are homeless. Many of them want change.
Tom Kiefaber, the former owner of the Senator Theatre, wore a sign that said, “I am Revolting.” Kiefaber recently lost the Senator Theatre in foreclosure. He said that he is revolting because Baltimore is “one of the most corrupt cities in America. They took my job, they took my professional and personal reputation and they took my real estate all through manipulating the media.” Kiefaber’s “revolting sign” is an opening to discuss his opinions about Baltimore politics, the Senator Theatre, the media and the “Occupy Baltimore” movement.
Holly Brown is unemployed and on disability. Holly said that she is part of an international group called “Women in Black” who “stand vigil” to promote peace and justice. According to Holly, she stands at Light and Pratt streets while holding the Arabic peace sign, salam. She has participated in anti-was marches in Washington, D.C., said Holly.
Elise Heroux works in an organic grocery store and she said that she has spent every night at McKeldin Square for three weeks. According to Elise, she has attended the “Occupy Baltimore General Assembly.” She said that it is a “participatory democracy” and they don’t make decisions without a majority. For example, she said that The Department of Parks and Recreation gave the “occupiers” a list of rules. The occupiers told The Department of Parks and Recreation that any item they couldn’t agree on, “they would not do,” Heroux said.
Heroux said that some occupants participate in knitting workshops, but she has participated in the “De-escalation Workshop.” She said that the De-escalation Workshop teaches the occupiers to let their bodies “go limp” if police ask them to leave. She said that their body language is saying, “If you want me to move, move me.” She said that many times the police will pick you up and throw you in the street, but if you let your body become limp it will prevent a resisting – arrest charge.
William Lipscomb is homeless and has stayed at McKeldin Square from the start. “I cook, I clean and I do all kinds of other stuff so I am just trying to get everything figured out,” said Lipscomb. He said that four years ago he had a job washing cars and has looked for work at McDonalds’s, restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores.
Charles Ballweg stayed at McKeldin Square for three nights. He said that he cleans up the trash and cigarette butts. “I stay busy,” Ballweg said.
Some of the occupants carry 99 percent signs to protest the 1 percent top- income earners. Occupiers told me, they represent the 99 percent and the banks and wealthy are the 1 percent.
Public radio reporter Sheilah Kast said she is hopeful about the future of American journalism, even as the profession is changing dramatically in the digital age.
Kast, the host of National Public Radio’s Maryland Morning show, said the Internet’s power to open a two-way conversation between journalists and the public has the potential to make the news gathering process more transparent and accessible.
But she said the Internet also worries her as websites do more aggregating and less original reporting. She said she is also concerned that news organization may be determining which stories to publish based on page views rather than traditional news judgment.
“To an old school journalist like me, social media, blogs, Facebook, Twitter is at a minimum sort of a pain and actually pretty scary,” Kast said during a speech at Loyola University.
In her speech, Kast touched on the highlights of her long career, which she began as a “dictationist” at the Washington Star in 1971.
“I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the newsroom. I fell in love with the adrenaline,” Kast said.
Kast said that when the Washington Star folded in 1981, few reporters realized that the newspaper industry was about to undergo a major shift.
“We saw it as a sort of circulation problem, not as the beginning of a huge generation of changes in journalism that would really change the fundamentals of the newspaper and journalism in general,” Kast said.
Kast said she became a broadcaster for ABC News. As a broadcaster, she learned that “the most important piece of technology is the channel changer. What scares my bosses most is that someone will pick up the channel changer and change the channel.”
Kast said that sound bites were shrinking because audience attention spans were shorter. In 1968, for example, she said political candidates spoke for almost 43 seconds. By 1992 they spoke for 7.6 seconds.
“If I wrote a script in which someone was speaking for 15 seconds, my producers were pulling their hair out,” she said.
Kast said that television news was expected to turn a profit, adding that executives worried about audience size because they needed advertising revenues to pay the bills.
“Every judgment about what to put on the air was made in terms of what will hold the interest of enough viewers,” she said. This meant high emotion stories that kept viewers tuned in, she said.
Kasts said that as a broadcaster they had big networks, big teams and big investments which depended on a large audience. With the internet “a lot of that model started to crumble,” Kast said.
Kast said the Internet has fragmented the audience. Newspaper readership and revenues kept shrinking, news organizations faced layoffs and executives expected news organizations to do the same work with a smaller staff.
Kast said the Internet has made international news much more accessible to the public. She said it is also easier for young journalists to enter the field. However, she noted that one reason newspapers have suffered so badly is because they lost the lucrative classified advertising market to Craig’s List.
Kast said that social media honors the individual, adding that there are now many voices in journalism. She said that this could make journalists more in tuned to what individuals need.
Kast said that there is a lot wrong with the system but that she is “hopeful.”
I love their Flash-Fried Calamari appetizer with Thai sauce. The calamari is light and crisp, and the Thai sauce is sweet and tangy. The sauce makes the fried calamari unique. In my opinion, deep-fried calamari with marinara sauce does not compare to Bluestone’s calamari.
Bluestone is known for their Fried-Green Tomatoes topped with lump-crab meat. The crab and tomatoes are drizzled with lemon-butter sauce infused with garlic, shallots and chives. The crab with the tomatoes and spices are a delicious combination.
My favorite appetizer is the Seared Rare Ahi Tuna. The tuna is sushi grade and served with ginger, and spicy-wasabi-cucumber sauce. When we split appetizers, I always order the ahi tuna.
I like their Chicken Cobb Salad. It includes grilled romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, hard-boiled egg, bacon and blue cheese. The grilled romaine makes the salad distinctive with a crisp-tender-smoky flavor. I request the lemon-vinaigrette dressing on the side. (I limit my salad dressing, so I can rationalize adding several hundred calories when I order dessert. I can’t imagine why I can’t lose weight!)
Recently, I ordered the Tuna Tacos with rice and black beans. Seared ahi tuna over sliced green, yellow and red peppers, was served with warm tortillas and tomatillo sauce, pico de gallo, and mango and papaya salsa. It was spicy, flavorful and filling. I think they should have additional tomatillo sauce, and mango and papaya salsa on the side. I felt like I was rationing it.
My son ordered the Firecracker Salmon with rice and stir-fried-crisp-tender vegetables. A seasoned balsamic-teriyaki sauce glazed the salmon. He loved it.
I occasionally order the fresh-fish special for lunch. I am never disappointed.
Every Tuesday, Bluestone offers bottled wine at 1/2 price when you place a food order. If you enjoy wine, this is a great time to visit.
I needed a hostess gift for a special luncheon. I thought about flowers, guest soap, and wine. I stopped in Harry and David in Towson Town Center, that sells gift items like fruit, cheese, chips, salsa, crackers, dips, smoked salmon, candy, and more. I browsed and searched for something that could be enjoyed during cocktail hour.
The sales staff gave me some gift basket ideas. Tabitha made suggestions, and Christine added her ideas. I could not have asked for better service.
They assembled and wrapped my unique gift basket that contained flax seed – tortilla chips, salsa, organic – water crackers, and bruschetta spread. I will return because the staff was pleasant and provided excellent customer service.
If you eat outside at the tables on the cobblestone sidewalk, or sit at the bar, you can watch the Faneuil Hall tourists. It is a great people watching venue. Inside there are two bars and a small dining room. Dark wood and brick walls enhance the relaxed atmosphere.
When we arrived at the Salty Dog, we initially sat outside. Since it was cool, we descended the old stone steps into the bar. As we waited, hoping to get a seat, I was impressed that the bartender acknowledged us promptly, because he was busy preparing drinks and serving food. He got us three seats at the bar.
We enjoyed New England clam chowder. It was creamy with diced potatoes. The best part of out meal was the raw oysters with lemon, horseradish and cocktail sauce. They were fresh and salty. We also had fried oysters served with tarter sauce. They were fair.
My sister ordered fish and chips with no-mayonnaise coleslaw. The slaw was crisp and slightly sweet. We loved that it was flavorful and didn’t have mayonnaise.
I had a Bloody Mary with a cooked shrimp (that was still in the shell) and a large celery stalk. You could taste horseradish in the drink. It was average at best.
I would visit again because of the friendly atmosphere and congenial bartender. I would order raw oysters and a beer.
When you exit your cab at Hotel Commonwealth, conscientious doormen greet you. We visit often, and some of the doormen greet us by name. It is a special feeling.
As you enter the hotel, you are struck by the rich reddish-gold carpeting with gold, blue, green and rose colored-mosaic patterns. As you ascend the staircase, you arrive in an elegant lobby. I love enjoying my coffee and reading the paper in the lobby, during the morning, and watching people.
The rooms have views of Commonwealth Avenue or Fenway Park. You can see the “Green Monster” at Fenway Park from the Fenway rooms. From the Commonwealth rooms, you can watch the cars and pedestrians on Commonwealth Avenue.
Comfortable beds with light-weight-down comforters and four medium-firm pillows furnish the rooms. I usually don’t sleep well in hotel beds, but I sleep great here.
The amenities in the bathroom include lemon-scented-soy shampoo, shower gel and body lotion from Fresh. They also offer pomegranate hair conditioner.
The hotel has two popular restaurants. Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar. At Eastern Standard, you can dine on the patio or in the restaurant. If you choose outdoor dining, you can enjoy people watching on Commonwealth Avenue. If there is a Boston Red Sox game, baseball fans pack the bar and restaurant. One of my favorite appetizers is the steamed mussels prepared with white wine, tomatoes and fennel. It is served with crunchy bread for dipping. I also love their clear chocolate martinis. One of the bartenders gave me the recipe. If you want it, let me know.
Island Creek Oyster Bar is new, but it is known for delicious, fresh seafood. They rely on local farmers and advertise that they use the freshest ingredients. They have a great reputation.
My family visits Boston often, and we stay at Hotel Commonwealth. My daughter played lacrosse at Boston University and we would come to watch her fall and spring lacrosse games. Now, I visit whenever I can. I can’t think of another hotel where I would feel as comfortable.
We lost power for 7 days from Hurricane Irene. Our power went out on Saturday, August 27, about 11:00 p.m. It was restored by 4:30 p.m. the following Saturday. Please click on this link to view a previous Hurricane Irene post.
I spoke to Linda Foy, she is the spokesperson for BGE. I asked her what they did differently from Hurricane Isabel. She said they had external linemen and supports in place before the storm. If you click on this link, PRNewswire, it appears that they did this for Hurricane Isabel. She also said they used social networking sites to communicate with customers.
BGE customer service gave us inaccurate information daily. The phone message said that our power would be restored on Tuesday, August 29 by 11:00 p.m. The Wednesday message said that it would be restored by that evening. On Thursday we were guaranteed, by a spokesperson, that it would be restored by Thursday evening. We still had no power. On Friday, a crew showed up, and we had power for 20 minutes. The power went out, and the crew left. When the crew returned that evening, they discovered that we needed an underground crew. We had to wait until Saturday. If the crew would have stayed earlier to investigate the problem, I wonder if they could have gotten the underground crew on Friday. Since it was late, we had to wait another day.
The BGE foreman and linemen followed up with us, on Saturday, to ensure that our power was restored. We appreciated their help.
Linda Foy said that the customer service representatives and the automated line take information from the customer and give a preliminary time for restoration. Once the crew is on the scene, the crew may encounter unforeseen problems that may require additional equipment.
Linda Foy also said that they have a robust tree trimming program. They canvass the area to take necessary steps. Do you see many areas in Maryland where trees overhang wires?
One other point, my husband called our 3rd District Councilman, Todd Huff, 3 times, and he left messages. To our knowledge, we never received a return call. Please click on this link for his home page.
What is your experience with BGE? I would love to know.
I have mixed feelings about Labor Day. As I jog in a Delaware beach resort, I feel a little sad. I had the opportunity to live with my college-age daughter for the summer. There were a few mother and daughter glitches, but I loved having her home. She packed and left for school this morning. It left me feeling empty.
Tourists are gone, vacancy signs appear and it is quiet. This used to be my favorite time at the beach before my children became school age. I fondly remember, when I stayed at the beach through most of the fall with my daughter (my husband came for long weekends).
A special memory involves my mother-in- law. We lived at the beach (at separate residences) for several weeks. My daughter needed a crib. We shopped for a crib and spent an evening assembling it. We talked, laughed and worked. It was a special time.
In a few years, my husband and I will be able to live at the beach for the fall, when my son goes to college. As much as I love fall at the shore, I am already sad that he will be gone. I never imagined the speed of time.
I look forward to the fall school and sports routine. It gets me back on track after a wonderful summer.
Hurricane Irene knocked out power at our home on Saturday, August 2, about 11:00 p.m. Today is September 1, and we still do not have electricity.
The most frustrating issue is, we were given 2 specific times when power would be restored. (My neighbor had a side bet on these times.) Tuesday, September 30 by 11:00 p.m. was the first date that I received from the BGE hot line. The second date was Wednesday September 31 by 11:00 p.m. I owe my neighbor dinner because he bet against these dates. I wish BGE would have been honest and definitive. I think that they should pay for this dinner, don’t you?
I had a positive experience today. I saw a Baltimore Gas & Electric truck about a mile from my home. I told the men my street name. I asked them to please check into the problem. Twenty minutes later they drove down my street and found my home because they saw my car. They drove into my driveway to give me an update. They found the issue and believed that it was a quick fix. They called the location into BGE. I appreciated their follow-through.
We are without power, and there is no sign of any BGE trucks. There was something positive that resulted from losing electricity. We spent quality time with our wonderful neighbors Cheryl, Jeff, Ruth, Charlie and Trevor. We shared delicious grilled meals, wine and humorous stories. That was a blessing.
- Irene’s Aftermath (brenwoode.wordpress.com)
What is the most valuable item in your home? As I batten down the hatches to prepare for Irene, I think about the material items that I would not want to lose in a worst-case scenario. Obviously, I want my family, friends, neighbors and pets safe, but what about material things?
My most important items are not clothes, jewelry or electronics. They can be replaced and are meaningless. When I prepare for an impending hurricane, by evacuating, I take my family pictures. I would be sad, if I lost pictures of the children when they were young. These are pictures that were not backed up on my computer. Now that those pictures are out of Irene’s path, I think that I will scan them!
On the other hand, there is a terrible picture of my husband and me taken on vacation many years ago. I wore high-waisted shorts (which were stylish in the 1980’s I might add), and I looked like Steve Urkel with long blond hair. My husband sported large horn-rimmed glasses and resembled Poindexter. We looked like supreme nerds in the picture. I don’t know why I did not trash it many years ago. Can you guess which picture I forgot?
- Fleeing Hurricane Irene?: Here’s what to take (content.usatoday.com)
- Updated 5-day Status Map for Hurricane Irene (via My Shepherdstown) (loopyloo305.wordpress.com)
- Updated 5-day Status Map for Hurricane Irene (via My Shepherdstown) (loopysexpressions.wordpress.com)
When you want an authentic Italian meal, is your first thought Little Italy in Baltimore? I love Little Italy, but my first thought is Cafe Troia in Towson.
The Troia family, from Naples, opened Cafe Troia in 1986. They feature chicken, beef and lamb that are naturally and humanely raised in addition to fresh clams, shrimp, calamari, and fish.
When my husband and I visit, if we don’t dine in the restaurant or outside, we eat in their, elegant cherry-wood bar. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxing.
I enjoy their Caesar salad because it crunches and they toss it with a creamy Caesar dressing that has a mild garlic flavor with a slight punch.
Their grilled eggplant accompanied by whipped goat cheese is one of my favorite appetizers. Grilling enhances the eggplant’s pungency and goat cheese balances it. In addition, they occasionally serve a nice beet salad with goat cheese and apple slices in a lemon dressing.
One of my favorite entrees is usually one of their specials, Branzino, a Northern Italian sea bass. They serve it many ways: in parchment paper, pistachio encrusted or with tomatoes, capers and olives. You can’t go wrong with any of these preparations.
The spinach and ricotta filled ravioli with salmon, shallots, dill and cream is tender and melts in your mouth. The smooth sauce complements the smoky salmon and is not too heavy.
For dessert, their Creme Brulee is excellent. The custard is sweet with a crispy-caramel top. It is the perfect finale.
If you want to celebrate an event or just prefer a good meal, you should try Cafe Troia.
Unbeknown to the residents, tourists and business owners in Fenwick Island, beach replenishment began August 1 disrupting everyone. The top realtor in Fenwick Island, John Kleinstuber said that they were not forewarned. The last that he heard, was that they were planning to start after August 15th. He would have preferred to let his customers know the situation upfront. In addition to beach closures, the noise from the constuction equipment is ruining vacations. According to information from the Bethany/Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, the work is done on a 24/7 schedule. An August vacation in Fenwick Island could mean sleepless nights.
Many people cancelled vacations at the last minute. Can you imagine planning your beach vacation in Fenwick Island, and the beach is closed?
Initially the dredging was to begin in the second part of August. According to Senator Carper’s office, the arrival of the dredge was a surprise. They said that they would try to minimize the inconvenience to vacationers. Two to three dune crossings would be closed at a time. The equipment noise at night would be minimized.
Paula Retzler, with the Army Corps of Engineers, is in charge of the project. She said they were scheduled to begin the project in June, then because of bad weather, it was pushed back to the Fourth of July. Tourism was considered, and it was changed to August. The earliest day that they could begin was August 1st. Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, the contractor, was working in New Jersey and was finished early, because they did not have weather delays. They came to Fenwick Island next. The maximum number of contracted days with Great Lakes is 21.
The slurry is the grey sediment or sludge that is in pools on the beach. Great Lakes was supposed to control it. Instead, the sediment ran down the beach and people stepped in it, and children played in it. Now there are crossovers above the slurry. Paula Retzler stated that it is safe. I hope that she is right!
Please contact Ms. Paula Retzler who is in charge of the project. She works for the Army Corps of Engineers. Her phone number is 215-656-6787. The Army Corps of Engineers email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Tony Pratt is with DNREC . His number is 302-739-9149. Senator Tom Carper‘s office number is 202-224-2441 or 302-573-6291. They would love your input!
Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, Baltimore, Md attracts a polo-shirt-crowd that mixes with the blue-collar locals. It’s a fun place to eat and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer and absorb Baltimore culture. There are a variety of food options from homemade soup, fried seafood (including Baltimore crabcakes), sushi, raw oysters, steamed clams, shrimp, and mussels; chicken, fries and more.
Also, customers can shop for fresh vegetables, produce, meats, seafood, and chicken, or purchase prepared food to take home.
Businesses will remain open when Cross Street undergoes renovations in the fall.