I've been thinking about a number of things lately -- some serious, some silly and some just plain perplexing. Let me share them with you.

* Could it be a sign of the getting-back-to-basics trend that characterizes the '90s, or is it just all that hot weather? Whichever, does it seem like there are more and more new sno-ball stands in the county this summer? Move over, Haagen-Dazs and Frusen Gladje, snowballs are back!

* Why does there seem to be a traffic accident every few days at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Rogers Avenue? This is a controlled intersection, so that traffic on only one of the four sides of the intersection can move at any one time. Of course you can turn right on red, but not into someone exercising their right of way. One wonders, then, if the more controlled an intersection is, the less controlled the drivers are. It seems like you can always find bits of headlight and taillight lenses scattered about this particular crossroad. I don't get it.

* Speaking of U.S. 40, how about the nice smooth pavement? A big change from the rough, rutted, loose, windshield-breaking surface we endured over the winter. Thank you, tax dollars at work.

* After learning that MoRT, the county's mobile recycling unit, now accepts more types of items, like brown paper bags, steel cans and many more types of paper, I'm realizing that pretty soon I won't have much garbage to drag to the curb. There is a new list (on recycled paper) of recyclable items available at your MoRT site. Ask for it.

*On the subject of recycling, some countians were asked how they would feel about a mandatory recycling program in the county. Wouldn't that sort of take the fun out of recycling, if we had to do it? Same for businesses: it's better publicity for them if they appear to be recycling because it's "the right thing to do," rather than just complying with the law. But I guess it's the same old story, you don't have enough people doing something voluntarily, so you make it mandatory because of those selfish and short-sighted types who always seem to make it hard for others.

* What would happen if the county were redistricted and no one was happy with the results? Would neighborhoods secede from their districts in order to remain loyal to their council person? This could get interesting. The Republicans, whose plan redraws district lines to their advantage, had better remember who holds the majority votes on the council.

* Speaking of the County Council, sometimes it seems the laws are made to make the council look good or to gain attention. Once the law goes into effect, nothing is done to enforce it. Does this make sense? Why pass a law at all if it is to be ignored? Why waste so much time with long, drawn-out hearings for nothing?

* Why are some parents in the county so irresponsible about their children's safety and their legal responsibility that theywould rather spend $125 for a pair of "high-tech" sneakers for theirkids than $30 for a bike helmet?

* I still can't understand why some people need to drive down the road at all hours with their "blastomatic" car stereo systems turned up to 7 on the Richter scale.

I can hear them inside the house, with the windows closed and the air-conditioning on. My question is, how can they enjoy what they are listening to when their ears are bleeding? Can't this be construed as driving while impaired?

* I see people are still being arrested for drugs at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Haven't they gotten the message yet? It is well known that there are undercover police officers there.I guess people are too stoned or too stupid, or perhaps both.

* While driving around the county, one wonders why there aren't more vehicle accidents than there are. I was always told that driving was a full-time job, and to anticipate anything from the drivers around me.

Unfortunately, lots of people look at driving as a part-time endeavor. I've observed people driving while eating, drinking, reading a map or a newspaper, putting on makeup, combing their hair, carrying onan animated conversation on a car phone or talking to someone in theback seat and frequently turning around to make a point. I recently heard about a man driving with his family on Interstate 95 who was playing with an Etch-a-Sketch while he was behind the wheel. Makes one feel real secure, eh?

* While on the subject of car phones, HowardCounty must be the car phone capital of the state. They seem to be in use everywhere. A study I heard on the radio showed that those withcar phones had more accidents than those without.

I thought of a great idea -- the County Council could gain some more attention in the media by passing a law making people with car phones pull over to the side of the road when using their phones, as a safety measure! It could be the first law of its kind in the country!

* To end on a humorous note, I overheard the manager of a Main Street Ellicott City shop placing an order over the phone for "more crab toilet paper." Now there's something you don't hear every day.

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