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Before a vote to cut trash collection to once a week, Baltimore City Councilman Nick D'Adamo didn't just raise the specter of illegal dumping. He copped to it.

D'Adamo announced at a City Council meeting this week that after he and his family polish off a crab dinner, they don't wait for the trash truck to come along to get rid of the shells.

"When I eat crabs, I take it to the closest Dumpster," D'Adamo said, according to The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey. "Or I take them to the nearest municipal trash can."

Isn't that illegal?

"Hey, everyone does that," D'Adamo told me later by phone. "It's better than throwing it where it doesn't belong - somebody's yard or just throw it in an alley."

D'Adamo said he eats crabs "probably a dozen times a year, like anybody else in the summer months." When he's done, he generally dumps bags of crab leavings in a wire sidewalk trash basket by a bus stop, one the city empties nightly. And he makes sure to get there before the truck, which, he happens to know, swings by at 10 p.m.

If a city father resorts to that now, what will average Crabtown citizens do when the trashman comes just once a week (assuming the plan passes a final council vote in June)? "Let's face it - if it's 102 degrees on a summer day, you want shells in your trash can for a whole week?" D'Adamo said. "You can imagine what it's going to smell like."

Public Works Director David Scott suggested, when the crab question came up at a budget hearing, that Baltimoreans stash their crab scraps in the fridge or freezer until trash day.

D'Adamo wonders: Who has that kind of freezer space? After all, crab is one of those foods - artichokes are another - that leaves you with more on your plate when you're done than when you started.

"One crab becomes three crabs after you pick it," D'Adamo said. "And he sticks it in the freezer?"

I could not reach Scott to discuss his personal freezer capacity. But Public Works spokeswoman Celeste Amato offered another solution, one that - full disclosure here - would have the added benefit of propping up the newspaper industry.

"You roll up the crabs in newspaper on the table and roll them again in a second layer - and don't be chintzy with the paper - and then put them in a plastic bag and tie it up tight and put it in your trash can and put the lid on it."

Amato has it on good authority that this method virtually eliminates "odor creep."

"This is how my grandmother says it's supposed to be done."

JHU is like a family to them

Johns Hopkins University will award an honorary degree to the late Rep. Tom Lantos of California at graduation ceremonies Thursday. Presumably the school is honoring him for his years of public service, but Hopkins might just as well thank him for the progeny.

Lantos' daughter, Annette Tillemann-Dick, had 11 children. One of them, Corban Tillemann-Dick, picks up an undergraduate diploma Thursday. Another, Tomicah, graduates with a Ph.D. at Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

Then there's Liberty, who expects to wrap up her undergrad work at Johns Hopkins this summer. And Levi, who's still working on his Ph.D. at Hopkins' Washington outpost. Then there's Charity, who a couple years ago earned a graduate degree in voice from Hopkins' Peabody Institute.

One of their cousins, Keaton Swett, just completed his sophomore year of college at Hopkins.

"In our family, it's pretty much Hopkins and Yale," Corban told me. "We had one older sister do a degree in Oxford, but she's the black sheep of the family."

Beaming down to Capitol Hill

Barbara Mikulski will go where no senator has gone before on Thursday, when she allows astronauts in space to appear, via satellite, before her subcommittee.

Astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis will report on Hubble Space Telescope repairs to the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, which Mikulski chairs.

Acting NASA administrator Christopher Scolese will testify, too, but from Earth, so big whoop.

A longtime champion of the orbiting telescope, Mikulski had planned to talk with astronauts at some point in the mission, during a window when video communication with the space shuttle would be possible. When she learned one of those windows would open during her hearing, she arranged for the crew's appearance.

"There just happened to be synergy for it during the hearing," spokeswoman Rachel MacKnight said.

Mikulski was at the Goddard Space Flight Center earlier in the week, but that wasn't the time to chat up the crew.

"They were releasing Hubble," MacKnight said. "Not a good time to talk."

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