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The Howard County



VOL.3, NO.2




More than 30,000 readers throughout Howard County

Civil rights stories finally heard

5 0 FEBRUARY 2013

I N S I D E …


By Robert Friedman and Carol Sorgen In 1960, Patricia Brown Leak and her brother Ed Brown, students attending the all-black Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, dared to sit at a lunch counter at the town’s Greyhound Bus terminal, along with other students. That resulted in their immediate expulsion, which led to a march by 2,000 of the university’s students to the state capital building, located in downtown Baton Rouge. “We were met with dogs, batons, fire hoses,” Leak said. “It showed the world the white man’s inhumanity toward us in the South. It helped make President Kennedy aware of the situation. We students on that day took a small step on the road to freedom.” Leak, a long-time Columbia resident, recounts this and other stories from her past as part of an oral history presentation called “For All the World to Hear: Stories from the Struggle for Civil Rights.” The project, sponsored by University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), involves a dozen older adults from Baltimore and Howard County who tell about their personal civil rights struggles. It includes a staged presentation, as well as published stories of the participants’ experiences. Leak said she joined the project because “I thought my story, and those of my brothers, needed to be told.”


L E I S U R E & T R AV E L

Exploring village life and wildlife in the heart of Africa; plus, this year’s top travel destinations page 23


Remembering two brothers She begins her stage presentation by recalling, in poetic form, that in the year 1960, “The students from my sleepy Louisiana town caught the spirit of freedom and wouldn’t be turned around.” She also talks about her brother Ed Brown, a noted activist who died in 2011. He was a participant in many civil and human rights activities, including observing elections in Africa and other locations for the Jimmy Carter Center. Their younger brother, Jamil Abdulla AlAmin, 69, once known as H. Rap Brown, is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison after being found guilty of killing a police officer during a shootout in 2000. His checkered past has included activities that have helped the poor and downtrodden as well as embodying the violence of

Patricia Brown Leak and her brother were expelled from college in 1960 for sitting at an all-white lunch counter in Louisiana. Leak and others recount their experiences in “For All the World to Hear: Stories from the Struggle for Civil Rights,” an oral history and performance project sponsored by UMBC.

the Black Power movement. Leak talks about Al-Amin as well in her oral presentation. She recalls the incident in 1967 when a sniper’s bullet grazed his forehead during a rally in Cambridge, Md. At the rally, he had said, “Black folks built America, and if America don’t come around, we’re going to burn it down.” He is also known for his quote that violence is “as American as cherry pie.” She also recounts how, also in the ‘60s, Leak and another black teacher had been selected to integrate an elementary school in Greenville, Texas. The state of Texas was not yet ready to bring black and white

students together in the same classroom, but it did decide to integrate teachers. “We had no problems with the [white] teachers or the principal or the students or parents,” Leak said. “They knew they had to integrate. Everyone was on their best behavior,” she said. She then came to Washington, D.C. and started working in the public schools teaching music. Some of the schools were desegregated, Leak said, but she taught mostly at black schools. Although desegregation was the law, “it depended on See CIVIL RIGHTS, page 27

Handmade works from Dayton’s Greenbridge Pottery can be found around the world as well as locally page 26 FITNESS & HEALTH 3 k Stem cells mend failing hearts k Cooling heartburn THE SENIOR CONNECTION 14 k Howard County Office on Aging Newsletter LAW & MONEY 18 k Many types of investment risk k Good online banking options PLUS CROSSWORD, BEACON BITS, CLASSIFIEDS & MORE


F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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Reporter for a day I’ve been a publisher and editor since the next day, December 31, to hand-deliver my wife and I started the Beacon newspa- my application and to enjoy the privileges of the Capitol press corps for pers 24 years ago. Still, it’s a a day. rare thing these days when I Sure, I could have watched actually “report” on anything both the Senate and House myself. proceedings at home, live on During the quiet days at C-SPAN. But was there any the end of 2012, as I was readsubstitute for being there at a ing about the fiscal cliff negotiations and Congress was time like this? being called back into sesAfter going through securision over New Year’s Eve ty and getting oriented, I deweekend, I had a realization. cided to start by observing The year was ticking down FROM THE the House from the balcony to the dreaded “sequester” PUBLISHER seats reserved for the press. that would potentially push By Stuart P. Rosenthal Across from me, on the the country back into recesother side of the House balsion, and I finally decided I had to see the cony, groups of tourists marched in and goings-on for myself at this presumably out of the public gallery, taking seats for a historic moment. few minutes to observe the “action,” such So on Sunday, December 30, I called the as it was. Senate’s Periodical Press Gallery, which But in the press seats, for the most part, handles press credentials for the Capitol, I was sitting alone. Not that there weren’t plenty of reand asked for a press pass. Not surprisingly, I was told that obtain- porters in the Capitol that day. But most of ing official press credentials could be a them were back in the press rooms, doing months-long process. (The bureaucracy- their research, noshing, and keeping tabs fighting press has its own bureaucracy, not on the House and Senate — by watching to mention the security issues of the Capi- C-SPAN and other news networks on the many flat-screen televisions attached to tol and its inhabitants.) However, I was invited to come down the walls!

Beacon The






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The Beacon is a monthly newspaper dedicated to inform, serve, and entertain the citizens of Howard County, Md. and is privately owned. Other editions serve Greater Baltimore, Md., Greater Washington DC, and Greater Palm Springs, Ca. Subscriptions are available via third-class mail ($12), prepaid with order. Maryland residents add 6 percent for sales tax. Send subscription order to the office listed below. Publication of advertising contained herein does not necessarily constitute endorsement. Signed columns represent the opinions of the writers, and not necessarily the opinion of the publisher. • Publisher/Editor ....................Stuart P. Rosenthal • Associate Publisher..............Judith K. Rosenthal • Vice President, Operations........Gordon Hasenei • Director of Sales ................................Alan Spiegel

A few reporters and photographers were staking out hallways and paths between the House and Senate, hoping to catch the major players as they entered or exited. (There’s even a screen in the press room indicating where “stakeouts” — yes, that’s the word they use — are permitted and when.) But on the House floor, fewer than a handful of representatives were present, and they politely took turns reading their prepared remarks to the C-SPAN camera and (apparently redundant) court reporter/stenographer. Given that these days were meant to be vacation even for congresspersons, I was pleased to hear those present sharing concerns on international relations issues (should we reconsider giving our old military frigates to Turkey when that NATO “ally” has been less than friendly lately?) and addressing difficult constituent problems (what can we do for a man whose exwife absconded with their only child to Saudi Arabia when he had been given sole custody?). And even though the speakers had a minimal audience and left the room as soon as they were done, it was good to know they took a stand for things they believe in and that their words would be available in print and digital video to anyone with an interest. In the middle of the day, President Obama gave a televised speech assessing the state of the negotiations at that point (and blaming Republicans for the impasse). That attracted lots of attention on the various screens in the press room (and in the downstairs cafeteria), and I took that as my sign to visit the Senate chamber next. Sure enough, a number of Republican senators took turns expressing their feelings about the president’s “confrontational” remarks and his “ridiculing of Republicans.” They were interrupted after awhile, how-

ever, when Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) entered, in a blaze of flashing bulbs from the photographers outside the chamber. McConnell had come to report on his negotiations with Vice President Biden. As he started to speak, about two dozen reporters suddenly joined me in the press gallery and huddled around the front row with their pads. (I guess they also wanted to “be there” for the dramatic moments.) McConnell said an agreement had been reached, solely dealing with preserving the Bush-era tax cuts for most Americans, and that although this was not the deficitreducing deal Republicans had been fighting for, it was a hard fought agreement, and he felt his fellow senators should approve it. He then turned and left, as did all the other reporters. As you know, very little ultimately came of that day’s congressional activity. There was a deal, of sorts. A decision not to decide. A postponement of any truly difficult action to trim our deficits. But I left the Capitol feeling I had experienced something special, even so. It really is quite remarkable how accessible our government is to the people and to the press. Just a few miles from where most of us live, decisions are made daily that have an impact on our lives and on the lives of future generations. I’ve always thought Americans should take more advantage of the opportunity we have to express our opinions to our representative and senators. And now I think those of us who are fortunate to live a stone’s throw from the Capitol might find it edifying to stop by that building some day to get a close-up look and soak it all in.

Letters to the editor Readers are encouraged to share their opinion on any matter addressed in the Beacon as well as on political and social issues of the day. Mail your Letter to the Editor to The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD 20915, or e-mail to Please include your name, address and telephone number for verification.

• Assistant Operations Manager ..........Roger King • Managing Editor............................Barbara Ruben • Graphic Designer ..............................Kyle Gregory • Advertising Representatives ........Doug Hallock, ................................................ Steve Levin, Jill Joseph

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Feb. 12


Pat Reber, culinary historian, will speak on “From Cacao to Cocoa and Chocolate” in a free public lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Ellicott City Senior Center, 9401 Frederick Rd,, Ellicott City. The talk is sponsored by the Howard County American Association of University Women. For addition information, email or call the senior center at (410) 313-1400.

H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

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BAD FISH, GOOD FISH A guide to finding fish that are healthy for you and the environment EASIER READING Those with vision loss can read with more speed on an iPad STRONGER BONES, WEAKER HEART? Calcium supplements are under attack due to possible heart attack risk DRIVING ISSUES How do you know when it’s time to give up the car keys?

Stem cells from strangers repair hearts By Marilynn Marchione Researchers are reporting a key advance in using stem cells to repair hearts damaged by heart attacks. In a study, stem cells donated by strangers proved as safe and effective as patients’ own cells for helping restore heart tissue. The work involved just 30 patients in Miami and Baltimore, but proves the concept that anyone’s cells can be used to treat such cases. Doctors are excited because this suggests that stem cells could be banked for off-the-shelf use after heart attacks, just as blood is kept on hand now. Results were announced at a recent American Heart Association conference in California and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study used a specific type of stem cells from bone marrow that researchers believed would not be rejected by recipients. Unlike other cells, these lack a key feature on their surface that would otherwise make the immune system see them as foreign tissue and attack, explained the

study’s leader, Dr. Joshua Hare of the University of Miami. The patients in the study had suffered heart attacks years earlier, some as long as 30 years ago. All had developed heart failure because the scar tissue from the heart attack had weakened their hearts so much that they grew large and flabby, unable to pump blood effectively.

sue had been reduced by about one-third among patients in both groups. All had improvements in how far they could walk and in quality of life. There was no significant difference in one measure of how well their hearts were able to pump blood, but doctors hope these patients will continue to improve over time, or that refinements in treatment will lead to better results.

Donated marrow

Cells on demand

Researchers advertised for people to supply marrow. The cells were removed from the marrow using a needle into the hip and then amplified for about a month in a lab at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, then returned to Miami to be used for treatment. The procedure did not involve surgery. Rather, the cells were delivered through a tube pushed through a groin artery into the heart near the scarred area. Fifteen patients were given cells from their own marrow and 15 others, cells from strangers. About a year later, scar tis-

The big attraction is being able to use cells supplied by others, with no blood or tissue matching needed. “You could have the cells ready to go in the blood bank so when the patient comes in for a therapy — there’s no delay,” Hare said. “It’s also cheaper to make the donor cells,” as a single marrow donor can supply enough cells to treat as many as 10 people. Dr. Elliott Antman of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who heads the heart conference, praised the work. “That opens up an entire new avenue for

stem cell therapy, like a sophisticated version of a blood bank,” he said. There’s an advantage in not having to create a cell therapy for each patient, and it could spare them the pain and wait of having their own marrow harvested, he said. The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Hare owns stock in a biotech company working on a treatment using a mixture of cells. Juan Lopez received his own cells in the study, and said it improved his symptoms so much that, at age 70, he was able to return to his job as an engineer and sales manager for a roofing manufacturer and ride an exercise bike. “It has been a life-changing experience,” said Lopez, who lives in Miami. “I can feel day by day, week by week, month by month, my improvement. I don’t have any shortness of breath and my energy level is way up there. I don’t have any fluid in my lungs.” And, he said happily, “my sex drive has improved!” — AP

Some ways to prevent, or treat, heartburn Are you bothered by burning behind the breastbone after eating? You’re not alone. One-third of us suffer from heartburn, typified by a pain and irritation in the upper gut. The underlying trouble is usually a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn occurs when acidic stomach contents back up (reflux) through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into the lower throat, causing a burning pain. There are many stomach-soothing steps you can try before going to a doctor. These can help cool your symptoms and prevent bigger problems later on. “Heartburn indicates underlying reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus,” said Dr. William Kormos, editor in chief of Harvard Men’s Health Watch and a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. “It can cause damage to the esophagus and even increase the risk of cancer if ignored and untreated.”

Steps to prevent heartburn 1. Eat smaller but more frequent meals: Stuffing your stomach puts pressure on

the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a valve-like constriction at the base of the food pipe that keeps acidic materials from backing up (refluxing) into the esophagus. Large meals also take longer to leave the stomach, giving acid more opportunity to back up and cause heartburn. 2. Eat in a slow, relaxed manner: Wolfing down your food fills the stomach faster, putting more pressure on the LES. 3. Remain upright after meals: Lying down puts more pressure on the LES, making reflux more likely. 4. Avoid late-night eating: Meals or snacks within three hours of lying down to sleep can worsen the reflux of stomach contents, causing heartburn. Leave enough time for the stomach to clear out. 5. Don’t exercise immediately after meals: Give your stomach time to empty; wait a couple of hours. 6. Tilt your torso with a bed wedge: Raising your torso up a bit with a wedgeshaped cushion reduces the pressure on the LES and may ease nighttime heartburn. Wedges are available from medical supply companies. But don’t just prop your

head and shoulders up with pillows, which may increase pressure on the stomach by curling you up at the waist. 7. Don’t drink carbonated beverages: They can cause belching, which promotes reflux of stomach contents. 8. Identify and avoid foods associated with heartburn: Some foods and drinks can increase acid secretion, delay stomach emptying, or loosen the LES and trigger your symptoms. Common offenders include fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, garlic, milk, coffee, tea, cola, peppermint and chocolate. 9. Chew sugarless gum after a meal: Chewing gum promotes salivation, which helps neutralize acid, soothe the esophagus, and wash acid back down to the stomach. Avoid peppermint flavors, which may trigger heartburn more than other types of gum. 10. Rule out medication effects: Ask your doctor or pharmacist about drugs that can cause pain resembling heartburn. Some drugs, for example, can loosen the LES and cause acid reflux. Other drugs can cause inflammation of the esophagus.

11. Lose weight: Being overweight fuels heartburn because it puts more pressure on the stomach (and the LES). The tightfitting clothing and belts associated with weight gain may also contribute.

Time for medication? If changing your eating habits and other preventive steps don’t get heartburn under control, the most effective treatment is a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). They drastically reduce acid secretion by the stomach. PPIs are available over the counter as omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid). PPIs will get heartburn under control, but people end up taking them indefinitely. This is not necessarily safe, since research has linked PPIs to increased susceptibility to bacterial infection and long-term risk of hip fracture, among other potential risks. However, you should not suddenly stop taking a PPI after prolonged use. “People end up getting ‘stuck’ on them because PPIs cause a rebound in acid production See HEARTBURN, page 4


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Eat these fish, but avoid those fish By Brierley Wright, R.D You probably already know that you’re supposed to be eating fish twice a week. Fish are a lean, healthy source of protein. And the oily kinds, such as salmon, tuna and sardines deliver those heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fats you’ve also heard you should be getting in your diet. But then there are also concerns about mercury levels and choosing seafood that’s sustainable. Knowing what seafood is best both for your health and for the environment isn’t always easy. Fortunately, Seafood Watch, a program run by Calif. Monterey Bay Aquarium, has combined data from leading health organizations and environmental groups to come up with their list of seafood that’s good for you and the environment. They call the list “Super Green: Best of the Best.” To make the list, fish must: a) have low

Karen Miller Executive Director 10 Years of Service

levels of contaminants — below 216 parts per billion (ppb) mercury and 11 ppb PCBs; b) be high in health-promoting omega-3 fats; and c) come from a sustainable fishery. Many other options are on the program’s list of “Best Choices” ( The Blue Ocean Institute ( also has sustainability ratings and detailed information. Here are six fish that Seafood Watch said you should be eating: 1. Albacore Tuna (troll- or polecaught, from the U.S. or British Columbia) Many tuna are high in mercury, but albacore tuna — the kind of white tuna that’s commonly canned — gets a Super Green rating as long as (and this is the clincher) it’s “troll- or pole-caught” in the U.S. or British Columbia. The reason: Smaller (usually less than 20 pounds), younger fish are typically caught this way (as opposed

to the larger fish caught on longlines). These fish have much lower mercury and contaminant ratings, and those caught in colder northern waters often have higher omega-3 counts. The challenge: You need to do your homework to know how your fish was caught, or look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue eco label. 2. Salmon (wild-caught, Alaska) To give you an idea of how well managed Alaska’s salmon fishery is, consider this: Biologists are posted at river mouths to count how many wild fish return to spawn. If the numbers begin to dwindle, the fishery is closed before it reaches its limits, as was done recently with some Chinook fisheries. This close monitoring, along with strict quotas and careful management of water quality, means Alaska’s wild-caught salmon are both healthier (they pack 1,210 mg. of omega-3s per 3-ounce serving and carry

Morningside House Bragging Rights... Over the past 20 years, Morningside House Senior Living has earned the right to brag about quite a few things:

Anne Hutchinson Director of Employee Relations 14 Years of Service

Alice Spongberg Concierge 14 Years of Service

Jamie LeBlanc Director of Plant Operations 9 Years of Service

❖ Women Owned and Operated – We are one of the few women-owned and operated senior living companies in the nation and, as mothers and caregivers ourselves, we’re able to connect with our residents and families on an emotional level, creating a totally unique assisted living experience. The moment you walk through our front door, you feel there’s a magical connection between our employees and our residents. ❖ Longevity of Staff – Our loyal, long-term staff is not just impressive, it’s also extremely rare. The healthcare field is infamous for high staff turnover and lack of employee loyalty, which naturally results in inconsistent care. Our Directors have been with us an average of 8 years and our line staff has been with us an average of 5 years! Our devoted team is the key to our distinctive ability to provide residents with the highest quality of care and families with peace of mind. ❖ Medical Model of Care – Morningside House of Ellicott City is one of the only assisted living providers in Maryland to have a Board Certified Geriatrician on staff. As our Medical Director, Dr. Salazar oversees resident care, approves personal care plans, holds weekly resident review meetings with the wellness team and is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Behind our beautiful décor, we have a powerful healthcare team who provides the best care and service in the area.

Melissa Morrow Housekeeping Supervisor 8 Years of Service

❖ Word of Mouth Referrals – At Morningside House, our number one source of move-ins is referrals from our existing residents and families, physicians, hospitals and healthcare professionals. We are proud to be the top-referred assisted living and dementia care provider in the area!

Bill Shelton Director of Food Services 5 Years of Service

❖ High Level of Care – Morningside House of Ellicott City is a licensed Level 3 community in the State of Maryland, which means we’re able to allow our residents to age in place as their care needs increase. We offer on-site physical, occupational and speech therapies 5 days a week, as well as a full restorative therapy program. We also have an expansive list of visiting medical providers who provide on-site services to residents, which reduces stress for both residents and their families.

Brandi Smith Director of Life Enrichment 5 Years of Service

❖ Regional Company – Morningside is a private, regional provider, not a publically traded national chain. We have the unique ability to provide continuous management oversight to our communities and have personal relationships with our employees, residents and families. This results in a consistent, high quality product that is not financially driven by investors and equity partners, but instead driven by resident care.

With so many amazing reasons to brag, why wouldn’t you choose Morningside for your loved one? CALL OR STOP BY TODAY!! Tammy Sammons Director of Health & Wellness 4 Years of Service

5330 Dorsey Hall Drive • Ellicott City, MD 21042 410.715.0930 /

few contaminants) and more sustainable than just about any other salmon fishery. 3. Oysters (farmed) Farmed oysters are good for you (a 3ounce serving contains over 300 mg. of omega-3s and about a third of the recommended daily values of iron). They’re also good for the environment. Oysters feed off the natural nutrients and algae in the water, which improves water quality. They can also act as natural reefs, attracting and providing food for other fish. One health caveat: Raw shellfish, especially those from warm waters, may contain bacteria that can cause illnesses. 4. Sardines, Pacific (wild-caught) The tiny, inexpensive sardine is making it onto many lists of superfoods and for good reason. It packs more omega-3s (1,950 mg.!) per 3-ounce serving than salmon, tuna or just about any other food. It’s also one of very few foods naturally high in vitamin D. Many fish in the herring family are commonly called sardines. Quick to reproduce, Pacific sardines have rebounded from both overfishing and a natural collapse in the 1940s. 5. Rainbow trout (farmed) Though lake trout are high in contaminants, nearly all the trout you’ll find in the market is farmed rainbow trout. In the U.S., rainbow trout are farmed primarily in freshwater ponds and “raceways” where they’re more protected from contaminants and fed a fishmeal diet that’s been finetuned to conserve resources. 6. Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.) Freshwater Coho salmon is the first — and only — farmed salmon to get a Super Green rating. All other farmed salmon still falls on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch “avoid” list for a few reasons: Many farms use crowded pens where salmon are See BAD FISH, GOOD FISH, page 7

Heartburn From page 3 when stopped,” Dr. Kormos said. After a PPI cools your heartburn symptoms, ask your doctor if you can taper it off and then combine good preventive behaviors with targeted use of over-thecounter medicines to keep heartburn from returning. H2 blockers are good for this purpose. They include cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid), and nizatidine (Axid). If your symptoms persist, you may need additional testing such as endoscopy. Men who have damage to the esophagus (esophagitis) or precancerous changes (Barrett’s esophagus) will probably have to take a PPI indefinitely. — Harvard Men’s Health Watch © 2012 President and fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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For free materials on housing communities and health studies, just complete and clip this coupon and mail or fax it to the Beacon. Housing Communities ❏ Alta at Regency Crest (see ads on pages 7 and 27) ❏ Brooke Grove (see ads on pages 16/17 and 32) ❏ Charlestown (see ad on page 5) ❏ Heartlands (see ad on page 13) ❏ Homecrest House (see ad on page 9) ❏ Morningside House Ellicott City (see ad on page 4) ❏ Park View at Colonial Landing (see ad on page 25) ❏ Park View at Columbia (see ad on page 25) ❏ Park View at Ellicott City (see ad on page 25) ❏ Park View at Snowden River (see ad on page 25) ❏ Shriner Court (see ad on page 25) ❏ Somerford Place (see ad on page 8)



Health Study Volunteers ❏ Exercise Study (see article on page 11) ❏ Falls Prevention Study (see ad on page 11) ❏ Health Volunteers 80+/IDEAL (see ad on page 11) ❏ Knee Pain/Sleep Study (see ad on page 11) Name_________________________________________________________________



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Your face may reveal heart risks


People who have eye diseases that damage their central vision — such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — can regain the ability to read quickly and comfortably by using digital tablets (such as iPads), according to a recent study. The research found that people with moderate vision loss could increase their reading speed by 12 to 42 words per minute, depending on the device. Loss of central vision affects millions of people who have eye diseases such as AMD or diabetic retinopathy, which damage the light-sensitive cells of the eye’s retina. The retina relays images to the optic nerve, which transmits them to the brain. When treatments such as eyeglasses, medications or surgery are no longer effective, ophthalmologists help patients maximize their remaining sight by using low-vision aids. Before digital tablets came along, reading aids were limited to lighted magnifiers, which are cumbersome and inconvenient by comparison.

their degree of vision loss. People with the worst vision found the iPad most comfortable, while those with the best vision preferred print. This information will be useful to ophthalmologists in advising patients with various degrees of vision loss. — American Academy of Ophthalmology


AMD or severe vision loss? Try an iPad

In the study, which was conducted at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, researchers found that all of the 100 participants gained at least 42 words-per-minute (WPM) when using the iPad tablet on the 18-point font setting, compared with reading a print book or newspaper. A more modest gain of 12 WPM, on average, was achieved by all subjects when using the Kindle tablet set to 18-point font. Patients with the poorest vision — defined as 20/40 or worse in both eyes — showed the most improvement in speed when using an iPad or Kindle, compared with print. The researchers believe the iPad’s backilluminated screen is the key to the significantly improved reading speed achieved by patients with moderate vision loss. The vision factor involved is called contrast sensitivity, which means being able see an object as separate and distinct from its background and to discern shades of gray. Loss of contrast sensitivity is common in people with low vision. The high word/background contrast provided by a back-lit screen is a big plus for such patients. The original Kindle, which was used in this study, does not have a back-lit screen. The study also assessed low vision patients’ comfort while reading and found that their preferred mode was linked to


Health Shorts


H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3


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Health shorts From page 5 ease? Look in the mirror. People who look old — with receding hairlines, bald heads, creases near their

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

ear lobes, or bumpy deposits on their eyelids — have a greater chance of developing of heart disease than younger-looking people the same age do, new research suggests. Doctors say the study highlights the dif-


Feb. 7

HEALTH AND FITNESS DAY Learn hands-only CPR, get health information and screenings, and

explore options for improving your fitness level in a free event in partnership with Howard County Fire & Rescue, Howard County Applications & Research Lab and Office on Aging Health & Wellness. The event will be held on Thursday, Feb. 7 at the North Laurel 50+ Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Rd., Laurel. For more information, call (410) 313 0380.

Feb. 12

MASSAGE FOR HEALTH Treat yourself to a professional table massage during the afternoon on Tuesday, Feb. 12 between 1 and 5 p.m. at the Elkridge Senior

Center, 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge. There is a $45 fee, and an appointment is necessary. For more information, call the center at (410) 313-5192.

ference between biological and chronological age. “Looking old for your age marks poor cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, who led the study. A small consolation: Wrinkles elsewhere on the face and gray hair seemed just ordinary consequences of aging and did not correlate with heart risks. The research involved 11,000 Danish people and began in 1976. At the start, the participants were 40 and older. Researchers documented their appearance, tallying crow’s feet, wrinkles and other signs of age. In the next 35 years, 3,400 participants developed heart disease (clogged arteries) and 1,700 suffered a heart attack. The risk of these problems increased with each additional sign of aging present at the start of the study. This was true at all ages and among men and women, even after taking into account other factors such as family history of heart disease. Those with three to four of these aging signs — receding hairline at the temples, baldness at the crown of the head, earlobe creases or yellowish fatty deposits around the eyelids — had a 57 percent greater risk for heart attack and a 39 percent greater risk for heart disease compared to people with none of these signs. Having yellowish eyelid bumps, which could be signs of cholesterol buildup, conferred the most risk, researchers found. Baldness in men has been tied to heart risk before, possibly related to testosterone levels. They could only guess why earlobe creases might raise risk. Dr. Kathy Magliato, a heart surgeon at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., said doctors need to pay more attention to signs literally staring them in the face. “We’re so rushed to put on a blood pressure cuff or put a stethoscope on the

chest” that obvious, visible signs of risk are missed, she said. — AP

Fool your brain, reduce your pain The next time you’re looking for pain relief, try a little distraction. A recent study published in Current Biology found that mental distractions actually block pain signals from the body before they ever reach the brain. “Human brains have a limited capacity for attention. If you have a demanding enough task, you’ll have less attention to give to your pain,” said Dr. Randy Gollub, associate professor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Researchers found that challenging participants with memory games did more than just divert conscious attention from the body’s pain messages. The distractions may have actually released natural painkillers that blocked the incoming pain signals as they entered the spinal cord. But you don’t have to play memory games to get the same effect. Gollub said you can use anything that brings you great pleasure. “Think about experiences when you’ve done something so pleasurable or meaningful that there was a moment where you were distracted from your pain, and then do more of that activity. Maybe it’s a visit with the grandkids or watching a favorite program.” You don’t have to limit your distractions to just one activity, either. “Using your brain to do more things that are rewarding tips the balance away from the negative aspects. The point is that you don’t want to live your pain all the time; you want to live your life,” said Gollub. — Harvard Health Letter

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

Good fish, bad fish From page 4 easily infected with parasites, may be treated with antibiotics, and can spread disease to wild fish (one reason Alaska has banned salmon farms). Also, it can take as much as three pounds of wild fish to raise one pound of salmon. Coho, however, are raised in closed freshwater pens and require less feed, so the environmental impacts are reduced. They’re also a healthy source of omega-3s — one 3ounce serving delivers 1,025 mg.

Fish to avoid A number of environmental organizations have also advocated taking many fish off the menu. The large fish listed below are just a few examples. We are highlighting popular fish that are both depleted and, in many cases, carry higher levels of mercury and PCBs. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has also posted health advisories on some of these fish at 1. Bluefin tuna In December 2009, the World Wildlife Fund put the bluefin tuna on its “10 for 2010” list of threatened species, alongside the giant panda, tigers and leatherback turtles. Though environmental groups are advocating for protected status, the bluefin continues to command as much as $177,000 a fish. Bluefin have high levels of mercury, and their PCBs are so high that EDF recommends not eating this fish at all. 2. Chilean sea bass (aka Patagonian Toothfish) Slow-growing and prized for its buttery meat, Chilean sea bass has been fished to near depletion in its native cold Antarctic waters. The methods used to catch them — trawlers and longlines — have also damaged the ocean floor and hooked albatross and other seabirds. At present, there is one well-managed fishery that’s MSC-certified. EDF has issued a consumption advisory for Chilean sea bass due to high mercury levels; adults should eat no more than two meals per month, and children aged 12 and younger should eat it no more than once a month. 3. Grouper High mercury levels in these giant fish have caused EDF to issue a consumption

advisory. Grouper can live to be 40 but only reproduce over a short amount of time, making them vulnerable to overfishing. 4. Monkfish This strange fish resembles a catfish in that it has whiskers and is a bottom dweller, but its light, fresh taste made it a staple for gourmets. These fish are recovering some after being depleted, but the trawlers that drag for it also threaten the habitat where monkfish live. 5. Orange roughy Like grouper, this fish lives a long life but is slow to reproduce, making it vulnerable to overfishing. As Seafood Watch puts it: “Orange roughy lives 100 years or more — so the fillet in your freezer might be from a fish older than your grandmother!” This also means it has high levels of mercury, causing EDF to issue a health advisory. 6. Salmon (farmed) Most farmed salmon (and all salmon labeled “Atlantic salmon” is farmed) are raised in tightly packed, open-net pens


Feb. 24+


The American Cancer Society is offering its “Man to Man Prostate Cancer Support Program” on Thursday, Feb. 21 and the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Dr., Columbia. The forum for men to learn about treatments, management and side effects of prostate cancer includes opportunities for peer support and talks from occasional guest speakers. For further information, call 1-800-227-2345.



The American Cancer Society provides free transportation for ambulatory Howard County cancer patients who need a ride to treatment facilities. Rides are provided by volunteer drivers who donate their time and vehicles. For more information, call the ACS at (800) 227-2345.

Regency Crest is an extraordinarily carefree community because of the convenient lifestyle enjoyed by those who live here. We go the extra mile to provide our residents with distinctive amenities and service that cannot be found in ordinary active adult communities. COMMUNITY AMENITIES

Feb. 13

• Beautiful club room with theater and demonstration kitchen • Wellness center • Indoor saltwater pool • Yoga studio and classes • Cooking Classes, and many more planned activities

Local historians will present information of interest to black history buffs and invite audience participation in recalling memories and favorite stories during a program on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Elkridge Senior Center, 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge. Admission is $5. For more information, call (410) 313-5192 or (410) 313-4930.

health advisory from EDF. EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at © 2012 EatingWell, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.



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Calcium supplements and heart attacks Calcium is recommended as a way to help prevent osteoporosis, but calcium supplements have come under attack recently due to a possible heart attack risk. A study published last summer found a significantly increased risk of heart attack among women taking calcium supplements. Two other studies, in 2010 and

2011, had similar results. Since so many people take the supplements, these studies have received a lot of attention. But Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass., noted that such risks haven’t been found with calcium-rich foods.


Mar. 4

PHILADELPHIA FLOWERS Join the Department of Recreation & Parks bus tour of the

Philadelphia International Flower show on Monday, March 4, leaving at 8 a.m. and returning at 7 p.m. The indoor show offers acres of gardens, plant and floral designs, this year featuring the horticulture of the United Kingdom. Registration is $83. For more information, call Ginny Russ at (410) 313-7279. To register, call









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“Although I think the jury is still out on the supplement issue, it would be wise to try to get most of your calcium from food sources if possible,” she said. Current guidelines for calcium intake for bone health recommend between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams (mg.) per day, depending on your age and gender. “The calcium-rich diet has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and hypertension. Dietary calcium has not been linked to any increase in risk of cardiovascular events,” Manson said.

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surge in blood calcium levels. The calcium could accumulate in your arteries making them rigid, which contributes to chest pain, high blood pressure and heart attacks. Calcium may also build up inside artery plaques — little pockets of cholesterol that can block your blood flow or burst, causing a heart attack or stroke. But again, Manson noted that the evidence isn’t solid. “The evidence that calcium supplements are leading to increased calcification of plaques is not well established. There’s clear evidence that coronary artery calcium is a marker for increased risk of heart disease, but there’s also evidence that plaques with calcium may be more stable and less likely to rupture.”

Don’t overdo it Manson said the real risk is when people exceed the daily recommended intake. “On average in the U.S., women get 700 mg. of calcium from dietary sources, so most women would need 500 mg. or less in calcium supplements. However, many women also take supplements of 1,000 mg. or more. This is concerning because high doses of calcium supplements have been linked to kidney stones, as well.” Whether you get your calcium from food or a supplement, make sure you get adequate vitamin D to help with calcium absorption: The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IU per day for all adults 70 and younger. Adults older than 70 need 800 IU daily. Fortified dairy products are also a good source of vitamin D. Manson said it’s vital to get your daily recommended dose of both calcium and vitamin D, even if you already have heart disease. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, soy products, sardines, canned salmon, fortified cereal and dark leafy greens such as kale and collard greens. “Read food labels and you’ll see that it’s feasible to reach 1,000 mg. of dietary calcium a day,” Manson said. — Harvard Health Letter © 2012 President and fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.


Feb. 12


Take a bus trip to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Feb. 12 to join in the celebration of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s 150th year, visit the National Postal Museum, and have lunch at Union Station. Sponsored by the Department of Recreation & Parks, the bus leaves at 10 a.m. and returns at 4 p.m. Tickets are $45. For more information, call (410) 3137279 or (410) 313-7275.

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3


How to tell when it’s time to quit driving

Some tests that might help Today, the American Medical Association recommends that doctors administer a few simple tests in advising older drivers: — Walk 10 feet down the hallway, turn around and come back. Taking longer than 9 seconds is linked to driving problems. — On a page with the letters A to L and the numbers 1 to 13 randomly arranged, see how quickly and accurately you draw a line from 1 to A, then to 2, then to B and so on. This so-called trail-making test measures memory, spatial processing and other brain skills, and doing poorly has been linked to at-fault crashes. — Check if people can turn their necks far enough to change lanes, and have the strength to slam on brakes. Dr. Gary Kennedy, geriatric psychiatry chief at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center, often adds another question: Are his pa-

tients allowed to drive their grandchildren? “If the answer to that is no, that’s telling me the people who know the patient best have made a decision that they’re not safe,” said Kennedy, who offers “to be the bad cop” for families or primary care physicians having trouble delivering the news.

Assistance for families For now, advocacy groups like the Alzheimer’s Association and AARP offer programs to help families spot signs of driving

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problems and determine how to talk about it. Others turn to driver rehabilitation specialists — occupational therapists who can spend up to four hours evaluating an older driver’s vision, memory, cognition and other abilities before giving him a behindthe-wheel driving test. Some doctors and state licensing authorities order those evaluations, but programs can be hard to find, often have waitSee DRIVING, page 10

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His longtime doctor wouldn’t advise one way or the other. So over a few months, the couple tried online grocery shopping. They took a taxi to the dentist, not cheap at $38 round-trip. But Benson calculated that maintaining and insuring the car was expensive, too, when he drove only 3,000 miles a year. A few weeks ago, Benson surprised his family by giving away the car, and he said he’s faring fine so far. “Most people in our age group know that it’s inevitable and play around with the idea that it’s going to come and the only question is when,” Benson said. “I didn’t want to be pushed into it.” Research by Dr. Matthew Rizzo of the University of Iowa shows some cognitive tests might help better identify who’s at risk, such as by measuring “useful field of view,” essentially how much your brain gleans at a glance — important for safety in intersections.


By Lauran Neergaard Families may have to watch for dings in the car and plead with an older driver to give up the keys — but there’s new evidence that doctors could have more of an influence on one of the most wrenching decisions facing a rapidly aging population. A large study from Canada found that when doctors warn patients, and tell driving authorities, that the older folks may be medically unfit to be on the road, there’s a drop in serious crash injuries among those drivers. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine last fall, couldn’t tell if the improvement was because those patients drove less, or drove more carefully once the doctors pointed out the risk. But as the number of older drivers surges, it raises the question of how families and doctors could be working together to determine if and when age-related health problems — from arthritis to frailty to Alzheimer’s disease — are bad enough to impair driving. By one U.S. estimate, about 600,000 older drivers a year quit because of health conditions. The problem: There are no clear-cut guidelines to tell who really needs to — and given the lack of transportation options in much of the country, quitting too soon can be detrimental for someone who might have functioned well for several more years. It’s never an easy discussion. “It did not go over so well,” Benjamin Benson recalls of the time when his sons told the 87-year-old they feared his reflexes had slowed too much for safe driving. “I’ve never had an accident,” Benson told them. His family’s response: “Well, do you want to wait for the first one?” The retired accountant wasn’t ready to quit then, but he quietly began to analyze what would happen to him and his wife, who doesn’t drive, if he did.

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When ‘being there’ for someone backfires Dear Solutions: My husband retired recently. He’s not sure yet what he wants to do. He says he wants to play golf, but makes very little effort to start finding people to play with. If I make a suggestion, he gets angry at me. It’s the same with anything else he says he might do. As soon as I suggest a way to make it happen, he gets annoyed. I’ve made a very busy, fulfilling life

for myself, while he was working, and I feel a little guilty, but I wish he would get busy. I’m afraid of him just hanging around all the time, and I just want him out of my hair right now. How should I handle this? — Kate Dear Kate: The only way you’ll get him out of your hair right now is to take your hair elsewhere. When he gets angry at you for making suggestions, the message is: “Let me

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your mother. Tell your mother you tried. alone — I’ll find my own way.” It may take time and a lot of experiment- She really has to be honest about her family dynamics with her future ing with different activities. husband, but that’s up to her. When you keep suggesting The only thing that’s up to ways to make things happen as you is to go and enjoy meeting soon as he mentions them, he your mother’s new family. feels your anxiety to get him Dear Solutions: busy so he won’t bother you! I went to a party recentGo about your business now, ly, and there was one perand don’t make suggestions unson who cornered me for less he asks you for them. the whole evening. I wantDear Solutions: ed to meet other people, I don’t know where to SOLUTIONS but I didn’t know what to begin with this. My sister By Helen Oxenberg, do or say to get away from and I are in our 40s. BeMSW, ACSW this non-stop talker. cause of something that I ended up feeling happened, we don’t talk to each other, and she has said she blocked and meeting no one. How can wouldn’t go anywhere if I’m there, too. I handle this next time? — Terri Our mother, who’s divorced, is getting remarried. Her future husband’s chil- Dear Terri: It’s your circulation that’s blocked. Even dren are making a dinner for their family and ours. My mother says she’ll die of at a party, there are arteries leading to humiliation if my sister and I don’t come. other people. You need to improve your circulation by I’m willing to go, but my sister told our mother she won’t come, and she’ll just saying, “It’s been nice talking to you, be in touch separately. I tried to reach but I’d better start meeting some of the my sister about this, but I just can’t other people here.” Smile and move on. © Helen Oxenberg, 2012. Questions to be see how to try any more. — Irma considered for this column may be sent to: Dear Irma: The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, How to try — put a blindfold on your eye. MD 20915. You may also email the author at To inquire about You don’t have to see how to try anything. This incident is between your sister and reprint rights, call (609) 655-3684.

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ing lists and cost several hundred dollars. For more information about AARP’s online seminar, “We Need to Talk,” visit

tion/we_need_to_talk/. For the Alzheimer’s Association Dementia & Driving Resource Center, visit To locate a driver rehabilitation specialist near you, visit — AP

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

Health Studies Page



Studying patients with myasthenia gravis By Carol Sorgen Myasthenia gravis (which, translated from its Latin and Greek origins, means “grave muscle weakness”) is a condition that is often difficult to diagnose. It is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal muscles of the body. The onset of the disorder may be sudden, and symptoms often are not immediately recognized as myasthenia gravis. The University of Maryland and Baltimore VA Medical Center are conducting a clinical trial to determine whether individuals with chronic, generalized myasthenia gravis can benefit from a three-month home exercise program with aerobic, resistive and pulmonary training. Volunteers with the condition are now being sought.

weakness in arms, hands, fingers, legs and neck, a change in facial expression, difficulty in swallowing and shortness of breath, and impaired speech. Myasthenia gravis occurs in all ethnic groups and both genders. It most commonly affects young adult women (under 40) and older men (over 60), but it can occur at any age. Most cases of myasthenia gravis are not as “grave” as the name leads one to believe, thanks to advances in current treatment. These include medications to reduce and control muscle weakness, and in some cases, removal of the thymus gland, which is often abnormal in myasthenia gravis patients. For most individuals with myasthenia gravis, life expectancy is not shortened.

enhance fitness, strength and lung function in order to improve physical activity and reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Adults between 18 and 70 with stable myasthenia gravis may be eligible to participate in this study, which will include a home exercise program of three days a week for three months. The program will

be progressive in duration (up to an hour daily) and intensity (including walking, resistance training with exercise bands, and core and breathing exercises). For more information on this study or to volunteer, contact Dr. Charlene Hafer-Macko at (410) 328-3100 or

Can exercise help? Signs of the condition In most cases, the first noticeable symptom of myasthenia gravis is weakness of the eye muscles, though some people may first experience difficulty in swallowing and slurred speech. The degree of muscle weakness involved in myasthenia gravis varies greatly among patients, from involvement of only the eye muscles (ocular myasthenia), to a severe or generalized form in which many muscles, sometimes including those that control breathing, are affected. Symptoms may include a drooping of one or both eyelids, blurred or double vision due to weakness of the muscles that control eye movements, unstable gait,

The overall fatigue that usually accompanies the disorder, however, can result in physical deconditioning that can reduce fitness and increase the risk of obesity, hypertension, elevated cholesterol and type 2 diabetes — all of which can result in serious health conditions. The specific aims of the study being conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland and Baltimore VA Medical Center are to define the baseline physical activity and fitness levels of the study participants, and determine whether a threemonth moderate intensity home exercise program is safe and feasible in sedentary, but medically stable, patients. It will also determine if the exercise can


Jan. 24

Do You Have Knee Arthritis and Difficulty Sleeping? Volunteers NEEDED for a Clinical Trial on New Non-drug treatment for problem sleeping

EAT SMART FOR LESS A free presentation on making smart and affordable food choices

will be offered on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 10 a.m. at the Elkridge Senior Center, 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge. Nutrition counseling will be available after the talk. For further information, call (410) 313-5192.

Want to Prevent Falls in the Elderly? Seeking Men and Women to participate in a research study at the University of Maryland &Veterans Affairs of Baltimore to better understand balance and the prevention of falls in aging individuals. You will receive:

• Health evaluation • Balance, step, strength, and/or flexibility exercises • Compensation for your time If interested call: 410-605-7179 & Mention code: LIFT at Baltimore VA/University of Maryland Gerontology Recruitment Line *You must be at least 65 years old and in good health *Participants will be seen at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and University of Maryland School of Medicine *You will attend approximately 41 visits for 1 to 4 hours each per visit


Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine are looking for volunteers to participate in a research study examining new ways of treating insomnia, in people with osteoarthritis in their knee.  To participate in this study, you must be: • At least 50 years of age OR 35 years of age and older with prior diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis • Have frequent knee pain • Interested in sleeping better  This study involves: • Sleep studies conducted in your home • Sensory testing and knee exam at Johns Hopkins • Meeting with sleep specialist to discuss ways to improve sleep • Additional optional medical tests • All examinations, parking, & tests are provided at no cost.  Compensation up to $870.00

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Michael T. Smith, Ph.D., Principal Investigator Protocol: NA_00011802 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

For information, please call (410) 550-7906


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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Looking for the most nutritious options By Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDM Q: Is steel-cut oatmeal more nutritious than other kinds of oatmeal? A: Despite its super-nutritious image, steel-cut oats are similar in nutrition to other forms of oatmeal that don’t contain added sugar or sodium. All forms of oatmeal are whole-grain, containing the same vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber (including the soluble fiber shown to lower blood cholesterol). Both steel-cut and rolled oats are classified as low in glycemic index (GI) — an estimate of how a carbohydrate food affects blood sugar. Traditional oatmeal is referred to as rolled oats, because the whole-grain oats are softened by steam and flattened on rollers to form flakes. Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish or Scotch oatmeal, are oats cut by steel blades into small pieces without being flattened. Quick-cooking (one-

minute) and instant oatmeal are steamed, cut and flattened in progressively smaller pieces to cook more quickly. The real differences between these kinds of oatmeal are their cooking times and textures. Steel-cut takes longest to cook and has a heartier, chewier texture. Instant oatmeal may seem lower in fiber than other forms when you check label information, but that’s only because a single packet usually makes a smaller serving. The nutritional disadvantage of flavored instant oatmeal is that in equal size servings, the sugar, sodium and calorie content is often substantially higher than other oatmeal options. Q: Would green coffee bean extract help me kick-start my new weight loss effort? A: Green coffee bean extract (GCBE) has gotten a lot of publicity as a weight loss

aid recently, but a 2011 analysis of the research on the topic found just a few small clinical trials that lasted from 4 to 12 weeks. The studies indicate GCBE may promote weight loss of one-half to one pound per week, yet we have no data about what would happen to weight if people were to use GCBE beyond 12 weeks, or what happened to the participants’ weight once they stopped taking the supplement. In these studies, even those on placebo lost some weight, which suggests that you can also get a motivating start to weight loss by other methods. For example, you could make a substantial cut in your calories from one particular source (perhaps regular soft drinks, sweetened tea, high-calorie coffee drinks or large amounts of juice). This is not as easy as popping a supplement. But steps like this help you lose weight and form the foundation for new habits you’ll need to


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lose weight and maintain the loss. If GCBE works for weight loss, it may be due to a natural compound called chlorogenic acid, which is higher in green coffee beans than roasted beans. However, when tested GCBE products, four of the eight samples had less (none to 80%) chlorogenic acid than the extracts used in the studies. So far, it seems to be a relatively safe product in short-term use, but if you want to try it, check with your doctor to make sure there are no specific risks for you. Realistically, though, considering how the cost adds up, you might invest the same money in a fitness class, some walking shoes, or a session with a Registered Dietitian for a kick-start with more lasting benefits. The American Institute for Cancer Research offers a Nutrition Hotline, 1-800843-8114, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will return your call, usually within three business days. Courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research. Questions for this column may be sent to “Nutrition Wise,” 1759 R St., NW, Washington, DC 20009. Collins cannot respond to questions personally.


Feb. 14


A Valentine’s Day party featuring music, hot lunch and fun games will be held on Thursday, Feb. 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Elkridge Senior Center, 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge. Admission is $5 per person. For more information, call (410) 313-5192 or (410) 313-4930.

Feb. 11

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A bus trip to the Resort Casino, boardwalk and shopping is planned for Monday, Feb. 11, leaving at 8 a.m. and returning at 8 p.m. for a $35 fee. For more information, call the Elkridge Senior Center at (410) 313-5192 or (410) 313-4930.

Feb. 6


Representatives from the Maryland Insurance Administration will present a free program on saving money on insurance and avoiding questionable companies in a free program at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the Elkridge Senior Center, 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge. For more information call (410) 313-5192.

H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

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How can I reduce inherited cancer risks? Dear Pharmacist: Why wait for the cancer to be diagMy sister and mother have both had nosed? Remember, tumors don’t grow breast cancer. So far, I’m overnight. It has been growOK (but obviously worried). ing for years — sometimes 10 What is your number one to 20 years — before it’s recommendation for me, picked up by an imaging scan. since my genetics are bad? Losing weight also works Thanks. because this lowers serum in— K.B. sulin, and high insulin is a risk Dear K.B.: factor in the development of When it comes to breast cancer, as well as in 30 other health, your weight matters disabling medical conditions. the most in my opinion. But You see, insulin increases DEAR another important factor is an enzyme in your body called PHARMACIST hormone balance. aromatase. This is the same By Suzy Cohen Let’s start with weight. I do enzyme that converts testosnot know your particular size terone and androstenedione or weight, so I will speak from a general to estrogen within cells. standpoint. And, as I just told you, excessive estroFlabby abs and thighs can increase pro- gen fuels cancer growth. I’ve posted an arduction of dangerous cancer-causing hor- ticle I wrote on this at my website. Just use mones, including estrogen. Clinical trials my search box to find “Many Diseases will often conclude that “estrogen pro- Linked to High Insulin.” motes cell proliferation in breast tumors” The point is, losing weight is critical, and which could also be stated this way: Fat choosing good foods can help you regain causes cancer. your figure while slashing your risk of cancer. Fat cells hold on to estrogen, and estroI think the best breast food you can eat is gen drives certain cancers. Losing weight broccoli. Broccoli, as well as other crucifers helps because doing so reduces estrogen (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, load in the body, and this may slow growth turnips), has a positive impact on the way of tumors (even before you find out they’re you break down your estrogen. They benein you). Yes, even before diagnosis. fit breast health by reducing 4 and 16 estro-

gens (considered harmful) while increasing a protective, potent anti-cancer form of estrogen, called 2-methoxyestradiol. Supplements that increase production of this 2 estrogen are sold nationwide at health foods stores as “I3C” for indole-3-carbonol, or a related type which is better for people with low stomach acid called “DIM.” Both I3C and DIM are proven to support breast and prostate health. Natural iodine supplements can help this pathway, too. On my no-no list are fried or fast foods, any boxed, processed or heavily refined dinners, anything artificial, as well as a diet high in refined sugar.

Coconut, olive, avocado and grape seed oil are all wonderful to include in your diet. Spices such as curcumin and saffron are powerful herbs you should eat frequently (or supplement with). And, obviously, monitor your hormones with a urine analysis each year. This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To contact her, visit

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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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VOLUME 3, NO. 2 • FEBRUARY   2013


Tax Aide Offers Income Tax Prep Help


A Message from the Administrator By Dayna Brown, Office on Aging Administrator

If you are planning to grow old in your current home and have been contemplating one or more home improvement projects to make your home more accessible for the future, this may be the perfect time to do so. Applications are now being accepted for the County’s new Livable Homes Tax Credit, which offers a tax credit to Howard County homeowners who install certain types of accessibility features in their primary residence, like ramps, stair glides or reinforced walls for grab bars. You may be eligible to receive a credit against your county tax bill if you install (or have already installed, up to one year prior to the date of your tax credit application) a qualified feature on an existing residence. The amount of the credit is 50% of the eligible cost, up to a maximum of $2,500. Accessibility features that are eligible for the tax credit program are defined in the county code, Section 20-129C. To apply for a tax credit, you must complete an application form and return it to the Department of Finance. Applications will be processed in the order they are received, until all funds currently allocated for the Livable Homes Tax Credit Program have been exhausted. Visit for more information and downloadable forms. If you have questions about this or other tax credit programs, including the Maryland Homeowner’s or Renter’s Tax Credit, the Howard County Senior Tax Credit, Trash Credit or CA Tax Credit, contact the Department of Finance at 410-313-2062. Or, contact Maryland Access Point for assistance, at 410-313-5980. Start planning today to make life a little easier in the future!


Once again this year, AARP and the IRS will offer free personal income tax preparation for Howard County residents at senior centers throughout the county. Beginning Feb. 1, Tax Aide services, including electronic filing, will be provided at no charge to middle- and lowincome taxpayers, with special emphasis on those age 60 and older. Now in its 35th year in Howard County, Tax Aide’s volunteer preparers receive IRS-approved training and certification in tax preparation; many have years of experience. Appointments must be scheduled in advance by calling one of the participating centers, right. Evening and weekend appointments are available at some sites.

Plan to bring your 2011 Federal and Maryland State tax returns and your 2012 tax records with you to your appointment. Self employment returns with more than $5,000 in expenses and very complex returns are not eligible for this service. To schedule an appointment, call: The Bain Center: 410-313-7387 Ellicott City Senior Center: 410-313-1400 Glenwood 50+ Center: 410-313-5440 East Columbia 50+ Center: 410-313-7680 North Laurel 50+ Center: 410-313-0380 Elkridge Senior Center: 410-313-5192


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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

Coming Events

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The Senior Connection

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 10:30 a.m. to noon – Maryland Insurance Administration Outreach, Elkridge Senior Center Representatives from the Maryland Insurance Administration will join us to share pointers on choosing insurance and how to save money. Free; call 410-313-5192 for more info.

Thursday, Feb. 7, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Health & Fitness Fair, North Laurel 50+ Center February is National Heart Month! Stop by to learn hands-only CPR, get health information/screenings, and explore options for improving your heart health and fitness level. Call 410-313-0380 to register.

Thursday, Feb. 7, 6:30 to 8 p.m. – Recognizing Love: Maintaining Healthy Relationships, The Bain Center Don’t miss this engaging workshop on healthy relationships, presented by Vanita Leatherwood from the Howard County Domestic Violence Center. Free; call 410-313-7213 to register by Feb. 5. Monday, Feb. 11, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Atlantic City Trip, Elkridge Senior Center Enjoy a relaxing ride on a coach bus and then try your luck at the Resort Casino or walk the boardwalk and go shopping. Plenty of fun for everyone, but seats are limited, so call 410-3135192 to register early. Cost: $35/person (includes $25 in slot play.)

Monday, Feb. 11, 9:30 a.m. to noon – Put Your Best Face Forward by HCC, Glenwood 50+Center Learn the do’s and don’ts of applying makeup, plus which colors are best for your skin. Bring the makeup you normally use. Hands-on class; call 410-313-5440 to pre-register.





The Senior Connection is published monthly by the Howard County Department of Citizen Services’ Office on Aging. We welcome your comments and suggestions. To contact us, or to join our email subscriber list, email with ‘subscribe’ in the subject box. Howard County Office on Aging 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046

410-313-6410 Dayna Brown, Administrator Advertising contained in the Beacon is not endorsed by the Howard County Office on Aging or by the publisher.

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 11 a.m. – Book Talk: The Village that Shaped Us, Glenwood 50+Center Using oral history interviews, the author tells the story of a Freedman’s Village settled in 1867 on a hill overlooking the Nation’s Capital. Call 410313-5440 to register. Wednesday, Feb. 13, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Valentine’s Day Concert/Lunch, North Laurel 50+ Center Enjoy an elegant meal and dance to the music of Sterling Dorn and the Two Smooth Dudes. Cost: $5 plus lunch donation. Call 410-313-7217 in advance to reserve lunch. Thursday, Feb. 14, 11 a.m. – Valentine’s Omelet Brunch, Ellicott City Senior Center Cost: Super Special Lunch Donation. Seating is limited; call 410-313-1400 to register.

Thursday, Feb. 14, 11 a.m. – “Not-So� Newlywed Game, The Bain Center See how well our contestants know their spouse or partner after many years together. Prizes will be awarded to the winning couple. Free; register at the front desk by Feb. 12.

Thursday, Feb. 21, 1 to 2 p.m. – Hands Only CPR, Ellicott City Senior Center Join Brad Tanner to learn the new “Hands Only� CPR techniques for use in the home or at the office.Call 410-313-1400 to reserve your seat today! Mondays, Feb. 25, March 4 & 11, 1 to 3 p.m. – Pencil Drawing, East Columbia 50+ Center Instructor Paul Kerris is your guide as you create beautiful sketches from photographs or favorite pictures. Cost: $33; call 410-313-7680 to register. Tuesday, Feb. 26, 11 a.m. to noon – Social Security Administration Choir Concert, The Bain Center Join us as we celebrate Black History Month with one of Maryland’s best choirs. Don’t miss it! Free; call 410-313-7213 to register. Wednesday, Feb. 27, 10 a.m. – Chincoteague: A Visual Journey, Glenwood 50+Center Enjoy breathtaking photographs and learn the history of Chincoteague’s beauty. Call 410-3135440 to register.

Thursday, Feb. 14, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. – Howard County Senior Idol Auditions, Ellicott City Senior Center Do you love to sing? Howard County residents age 60 and up are invited to audition to represent the county in the MD Senior Idol Competition. Call Vicki Stahly, 410-313-1421, for more information.

Wednesdays, Feb. 27 - April 3, 1 to 3 p.m. – Living Well with Diabetes, North Laurel 50+ Center Get the support you need to manage your diabetes. Discussions include monitoring blood sugar; healthy eating & nutrition; preventing low blood sugar; fitness & exercise; stress management; and skin & foot care. Cost: $28; call 410-313-5980 to register.

Tuesdays, Feb. 19, 26 and March 5, 11 a.m. – Create Easter Surprise Sugar Eggs, East Columbia 50+ Center Remember the thrill of receiving one of these eggs as a child? Surprise someone special by making your own to give. Cost: $33; all supplies included. Call 410-313-7680 to register.

Thursday, March 21, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – SPRING Luncheon: Stanford Grill Join us for beautiful atrium dining, three delicious menu selections, and always a fun atmosphere! Cost: $22.50/person; seating is limited. Call Elaine Widom at 410-313-7283 by March 15 to register.

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 10:30 a.m. – Bain Theatre Club: Who Am I?, The Bain Center Enjoy the Theatre Club’s heart-filled performance and see if you can guess the mystery person behind it! Free; call 410-313-7213 to sign up early as space is limited.

Wednesdays, March 6 - April 10, 1 to 3 p.m. – Living Well, Y of Central MD, 4331 Montgomery Rd., Ellicott City, MD 21043 Learn to manage your chronic health conditions, how to deal with pain and fatigue, communicate better with family and health professionals, and develop healthy eating and fitness habits. Cost: $28; call 410-313-5980 to register.

Eat for a Healthy Heart

By Rona Martiyan, MS, RD, LDN Heart disease is the number one killer of older adults. But by keeping your weight within a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. To reach a healthy weight, try to: • Eat smaller portions and fill up on nutrientrich fruits and vegetables. • Count calories; use a food diary, and aim for 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein, and 25 to 30 percent fats (mainly unsaturated). • Monitor weight regularly; if you gain a few pounds, cut back for a few days. • Ask for support from your family, friends and

healthcare provider. • Eat breakfast — you need nourishment to start the day. • Prepare most of your meals at home; eat out no more than three times a week. • Buy fewer prepared foods from grocery stores; these can be just as unhealthy as fast foods. • Move more‌find an exercise you like to do! • Reward yourself with something other than food. Need more information? Call Maryland Access Point 410-313-5980 or stop by your nearest senior center to schedule a free one-on-one consultation with nutritionist Rona Martiyan.


F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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Money Law &

IRAs FOR HEIRS Fill out paperwork properly to pass down your IRAs to beneficiaries, and note that rules vary for spouses and others who inherit retirement accounts FACING MEDICAL DEBT The healthcare law gives patients protections from collection agencies and requires notice about available financial assistance

Understanding risk is the key to investing Very few individual investors do as well as Interest rate risk can be understood by market indexes on a long-term basis. One this inverse relationship: When interest rates major reason is that they fail to increase, bond prices decrease, develop long-range plans, inand vice versa. If you invest in stead creating portfolios that rebonds, changes in interest rates quire frequent major changes, can have a significant impact on which incur expenses and the value of your portfolios. taxes. Long-term bonds are much If you are making dramatic more volatile than short-term changes to your portfolio, and bonds. your returns lag the major inCredit risk refers to the podexes associated with your intential loss in investment value vestments, then consider changwhen a corporation’s or goving your approach. You have THE SAVINGS ernment’s credit rating is GAME probably not looked closely downgraded. After a debt ratenough at the risks that are rele- By Elliot Raphaelson ing downgrade, the value of an vant to your investments. entity’s outstanding bonds or preferred stock will immediately drop. A Five types of risk disadvantage of buying individual corporate There are different types of risk — the bonds with low credit ratings (aka “junk” major ones are interest rate, credit, infla- bonds) is that they are more likely than intion, currency and market — and any one vestment grade bonds to be downgraded. of them may affect you differently than it Inflation risk is an all too familiar conaffects other investors. cept to savers today. Short-term invest-

ments such as Treasury bills and money market instruments currently yield less than 1 percent. Even if inflation is 3 percent a year — a historically low rate — a portfolio of these “safe” investments will erode in value by more than 2 percent a year. Investors with a significant long-term portfolio in these instruments will be losers. Currency risk refers to the possibility of loss in your portfolio based on changes in the value of currencies relative to the U.S. dollar. Market risk refers to the possible investment loss due to fluctuation in security prices for other reasons. Fluctuations can occur within an entire asset class or for a specific security you own. When you invest in common stocks, you incur more market risk than you would for more conservative investments. The value of an individual stock may fall because of general market conditions, poor earnings, new tax regulations or unfavorable industry projections.

If you invest in commodities such as gold and silver, you are also subject to market risk because of the price volatility of the underlying commodity. You have to take some market risk to obtain capital growth, but you shouldn’t take more risk than you can afford. You should look at the price stability of any asset class you are considering investing in to make sure that you can afford shortterm fluctuations in value, and thus do not have to bail out at the wrong time. Diversification is crucial.

Investing for retirement When developing a long-term investment plan, take a hard look at the risks and make sure you are taking the right ones and avoiding the inappropriate ones. For example, if you are in the early stages of your career and need to save for retirement, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to See RISK, page 21

How you can lose money in ‘safe’ bonds When you purchase stock (“shares” or al direction of interest rates. Here’s how it “equity”), it represents ownership of a pub- works: If you own a 10-year U.S. government bond that is paying 5 perlicly traded company. As a cent, it will be worth more now, common stockholder, you get when new bonds issued by a piece of what the company Uncle Sam are only paying 1.6 owns (assets) and what it percent. Conversely, if your owes (liabilities). bond is paying 1.6 percent, and You are also entitled to voting your friend can purchase a new rights and dividends, which are bond paying 5 percent, nobody a portion of the company’s profwill be interested in your bond its that it distributes to its shareand the price will fall. holders. Stock prices move That’s why bond prices based on supply and demand: If RETIRE SMART move in the opposite direction more people think the company By Jill Schlesinger of prevailing interest rates, rewill deliver future financial regardless of the bond type. So, if you hear sults, they will buy it, and the stock will rise. Bonds work differently than stocks. that interest rates are on the rise, you can When you buy a bond, you are actually lend- count on your individual bond or bond muing money to an entity — the U.S. govern- tual fund dropping in value. Although often hailed as “safe,” bond inment, a state, a municipality or a company — for a set period of time — from 30 days to 30 vestors face a number of risks, in addition to years — at a fixed rate of interest (the term the interest rate risk described above. One “fixed income” is often used to describe the is credit risk, which is the risk of default or asset class of bonds). At the end of the term, that the entity does not pay you back. That is a pretty low risk if the entity is the U.S. govthe borrower repays the obligation in full. ernment, but it can be a high one if it’s a How bond prices work company or town that is in trouble. Bond prices fluctuate based on the generAnother risk is inflation. Even if the

bonds are paid in full, the promised rate of interest can turn out to be worth less over time due to inflation, which eats into the fixed stream of payments.

Should you buy a bond fund? Many investors prefer owning a bond mutual fund versus an individual bond because funds offer broad diversification at a low cost, and they offer the convenience of being able to buy or sell shares at any time and in any quantity. Additionally, there is no easy way to reinvest interest payments into individual bonds, but you can reinvest easily in a fund. However, individual bonds offer the certainty of a defined maturity date, which provides an investor with more control over the investment. If you hold an individual bond until it matures, you will get back its face value even if interest rates have risen. But you can lose principal if you sell shares in a fund at the wrong time (just as you can if you sell an individual bond — whose value has fallen — before it matures). Because bonds deliver a consistent stream of income, many investors view them as the perfect retirement vehicle. But as mentioned above, bond prices can fluctuate.

The worst calendar year for the broad bond market was 1994, when the broad bond market returned -2.9 percent due to an unexpected upward shift in interest rates (prices dropped more, but the interest from bonds helped defray some of those losses). Just this past summer, the 10-year Treasury market saw big price drops. In the three weeks from the July 25 peak to Aug. 16, prices tumbled about 8.5 percent, and yields went to 1.82 percent from an alltime low of 1.38 percent. So, yes, you can lose money in the bond market, though the magnitude of the fluctuations tends to be smaller than those in stocks and other riskier asset classes. Bonds are an important asset class that can have a stabilizing effect on a diversified portfolio over time. Understanding how they work can prepare you for their eventual ups and downs. Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is the Editor-at-Large for She covers the economy, markets and investing on her podcast and blog, Jill on Money, as well as on television and radio. She welcomes comments and questions at © 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3


Online banks without fees, minimums By Joan Goldwasser Online banks don’t have the expense of a multi-branch network, so they can afford to charge fewer fees and pay higher rates than traditional banks. You’ll have to rely on direct deposit to put money in your account, although some banks allow you to deposit checks via a mobile phone. 1. Ally Bank ( Ally lets you open its Interest Checking account with any amount. It has no monthly maintenance fee, plus it rebates all ATM fees nationwide. The account pays 0.4 percent interest on balances up to $15,000, and

0.75 percent on balances over that amount. You can also use a mobile phone to deposit checks, transfer funds to other banks and pay bills. 2. Bank of Internet USA ( You need $100 to open a Rewards Checking account, but there is no monthly fee and no minimum balance requirement. ATM reimbursements within the U.S. are unlimited. Plus, you can use your mobile phone to make deposits. You earn up to 1.25 percent interest on your balance each month if you meet certain requirements, such as setting up direct deposit, paying bills online, and using your debit card.


Feb. 5+


3. INGDirect ( This online bank was recently acquired by Capital One. Open an Electric Orange Checking account with any amount you choose. It has no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees. You can use your phone to make deposits and to transfer money. Use one of the more than 43,000 Allpoint ATMs worldwide and you pay no fee. The checking account yields 0.2 percent on balances of less than $50,000. 4. Lake Michigan Credit Union ( Anyone can join Lake Michigan Credit Union by donating $5 to the West Michigan chapter of the ALS Association and opening a $5 savings account. Its Max Checking account has no mini-

mum balance requirement and no monthly fees; it refunds up to $15 a month in ATM fees if you don’t use one of the bank’s 92 proprietary machines. The account pays 3 percent on balances up to $15,000 if, among other requirements, you arrange for one direct deposit per month. 5. Schwab Bank ( The Schwab High Yield Investor checking account rebates all ATM fees worldwide. The account has no minimum balance requirement and no monthly service fee, and checks are free. Balances earn 0.15 percent. You can use your mobile phone to make deposits and pay bills. You’ll need to open a linked Schwab brokerage account, but no minimum balance is required. © 2012 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

The Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA), a state regulatory agency, offers a variety of consumer materials on all types of insurance products, including annuities, title insurance, and health, auto and homeowners insurance. Trained staff will be available to answer questions at four locations in February, including the Columbia Workforce Center, 7161 Columbia Gateway Dr., Suite D, Columbia, on Feb. 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Elkridge Senior Center, 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge, on Feb. 6, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; North Laurel 50+ Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Rd., Laurel, on Feb. 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Glenwood 50+ at Gary J. Arthur Community Center, 2400 Route 97, Cooksville, on Feb. 12, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. For more information, see

Learn What To Do About Your Investments Regardless Of What Congress Does If you are not sure how much risk you are really taking with your investments or if you simply want to seek peace of mind with better control of your future, then a simple, noobligation 3 step review can assure that your decisions and planning are right for you and your particular situation. This is NOT a seminar event. This offer entitles you to privately go through our 3 Step Review, and as a special thank you upon completion of your portfolio analysis you will receive a complimentary $100 gift card.

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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

How to pass IRAs down to beneficiaries By Elliot Raphaelson Most individuals who have Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) understand the primary advantages of these accounts — income tax deferral and the associated investment growth over long periods of time. However, owners of these accounts often fail to consider that these advantages can also work in the favor of beneficiaries who inherit the accounts after they die. Even those who appreciate the benefits often fail to follow the rules exactly and end up losing out. IRS regulations on inheriting retirement accounts can be complex, and it is easy for people to make mistakes when they name beneficiaries. There are pitfalls for beneficiaries as well, and mistakes can result in thousands of dollars in unnecessary penalties and lost investment opportunity.

Do paperwork properly Retirement expert Ed Slott argues that

properly filling out your retirement account beneficiary form is the “single most important document in your estate plan because it guarantees that the person you name as beneficiary ... will indeed get that asset when you are gone.” A filled out beneficiary form will take precedence over provisions in your will. If your personal situation changes — say, because of divorce or death of a spouse — you must make sure you make the appropriate changes to the form. It’s key to get this right, because the retirement account is the largest asset many individuals own. Slott’s retirement planning books are an excellent resource to help you make the right decisions. Your Complete Retirement Planning Road Map (Ballantine Books, 2007) is particularly useful on this subject. Don’t assume that your attorney and/or your financial advisor are experts regarding retirement accounts, especially when it comes to inherited accounts. Do your

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homework, and get informed professional assistance if you need it.

Options for a spouse Naming a spouse as a beneficiary is the most desirable option, as it provides the best opportunity for growth and longevity of the funds in the account. A spouse beneficiary can treat the inherited IRA as his or her own, and have the trustee change the name on the account. A second option is for the beneficiary to roll the account over to a new IRA in his or her name. Both alternatives are equally advantageous. A third option is to retitle the account as an “inherited IRA.” If the beneficiary is under the age of 59 1/2, there is an advantage to this option. The beneficiary can withdraw funds immediately without paying the 10 percent penalty that normally applies to those who take early IRA distributions. The beneficiary will have to pay ordinary income taxes on any withdrawals. If a spouse beneficiary selects the inherited IRA option, at age 59 1/2 he or she should retitle the IRA in his or her name. The beneficiary will then have the flexibility, between ages 59 1/2 and 70 1/2, to withdraw any amount he or she wishes and retain tax deferral. After age 70 1/2, that person will have to make mandatory withdrawals based on the IRS’ life expectancy tables.

Preserving benefits for heirs If you have inherited an IRA, fill out the retirement account beneficiary form so your heirs, too, can take advantage of the “stretching” options. Non-spouse beneficiaries cannot roll over a retirement account into their own names. They can, however — and they should —

retitle the account as an inherited IRA. How you, as a non-spouse beneficiary, are required to make withdrawals from an inherited IRA depends on whether the account’s original owner had begun withdrawing. For example, let’s suppose you inherited an IRA from your mother, who had initiated withdrawals based on her life expectancy. If you retitle the account as an inherited IRA, you can withdraw funds on the same basis as your mother had, retaining the tax deferral. Withdrawals are taxed at ordinary income tax rates. On the other hand, let’s say that at the point of her death, your mother had not initiated mandatory withdrawals. You will be required to make minimum withdrawals based on your life expectancy. You can always withdraw more than the minimum. Again, all withdrawals are taxable. If you do not retitle the account as an inherited IRA and cash it out, you will immediately owe income taxes on the whole amount, and you will lose the advantage of tax-deferral. Make sure the beneficiaries of any retirement accounts and the executor of your will understand the importance of retitling the accounts as an inherited IRA. Fortunately, existing tax laws and regulations allow retirement account owners and beneficiaries many years of potential growth and tax deferral. It is well worth the effort to take advantage of these. Other excellent sources of information on this topic are Retire Secure! Pay Taxes Later by James Lange (Wiley, 2nd ed., 2009), and Making the Most of Your Money Now by Jane Bryant Quinn (Simon and Shuster, revised 2009). © 2012 Elliot Raphaelson. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.



Elder Law and Life Care Planning

Feb. 1+

INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE The Internal Revenue Service and AARP are sponsoring free per-

sonal income tax preparation services to all middle and low income taxpayers at senior centers in Howard County. The phone numbers to call for appointment times at participating centers are Bain Center (410) 313-7387; East Columbia Senior Center (410) 313-7680; Elkridge Senior Center (410) 313-1400; Ellicott

• Estate Planning and Administration • Veteran and Survivor Pension • VA Disability Claims and Appeals • Asset Protection • Medicaid Planning • Home Visits Available

Larry A. Blosser, P.A. 5457 Twin Knolls Rd • Suite 101 • Columbia, MD 21045


City Senior Center (410) 313-1400; Glenwood Community Center (410) 3135440; and North Laurel Community Center (410) 313-0380.


ONLINE DOG AND CAT LICENSING Howard County residents may now complete their cat and dog license processing online by logging on to The

process allows users to request a new license, renew an existing one and upload any supporting documents that may be required. The cost of licensing a dog or cat is $24, but if the animal has been spayed or neutered, the fee is reduced to $6. Persons 62 or older pay half of the appropriate fee. For additional information, call (410) 313-2433.

H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

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Hospital collections must follow new law By Elliot Raphaelson Many people are facing large, often insurmountable, debt obligations these days, and according to some estimates, medical bills account for half of all collections reported to credit agencies. Even with a sound long-term financial plan, you may be confronted with unexpected health problems, including an unplanned hospital stay for a member of your family. This can have a significant impact on your financial well-being. After a hospital stay, many individuals and families without comprehensive hospital insurance face large bills they cannot afford to pay. Most people and even some hospitals are not aware that the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provisions that prohibit certain collection techniques that hospitals have used on people having difficulty paying bills for care. Hospitals that continue to use these collection techniques may lose their federal tax exemption. There has been very little publicity regarding the benefits of these

Risk From page 18 have a large portion of your investment in low-yielding Treasury bills losing more than 2 percent a year to inflation. If you are near retirement, with a significant capital base, you should be more mindful of market risk — i.e., having too large a percentage in common stocks. If you are already retired and depend on bonds for recurring income, be wary of credit risk and avoid putting a large proportion of your bond holdings in individual junk bonds. Rather, you should consider either investment grade bonds or a conservative high-yield fund.

provisions of the ACA to low- and middleincome families.

What the law states As Mark Rukavina, a healthcare affordability expert, explained in a blog post at (, the ACA directed the IRS to establish Section 501(r) of the IRS code to implement benefit rules for hospitals that are subsidized through federal tax exemption. These hospitals must: • “Establish written financial assistance policies describing who is eligible for free or reduced cost care and publicize them to patients and the community. • “Refrain from extraordinary collections actions against patients before screening them to determine whether they qualify for financial assistance. • “Limit fees charged to patients eligible for financial assistance to rates paid by Medicare or the lowest amounts paid by insured patients.” Unfortunately, not all hospitals have followed these mandated requirements. As a reWith a good understanding of the risks, you likely will not have to make significant changes on a year-to-year basis (other than rebalancing). If you would rather leave the portfolio selection to professionals, select a no-load mutual fund family with a good performance history and low costs that offers target-date retirement funds and/or balanced funds (i.e., funds that maintain a predetermined mix of equity and income investments). You are likely to have more consistent and better results. Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at © 2012 Elliot Raphaelson. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Don’t Let Nursing Home Costs Take Every Dime You’ve Worked For. Medical Assistance Planning and Eligibility Advance Medical Directives / Living Wills Trusts / Estate Planning Administration Wills / Powers of Attorney Disability Planning / Special Needs Trusts Guardianship

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sult, some patients who were eligible for free or reduced-cost care have been contacted and sued by collection agencies, in violation of ACA requirements. The IRS has not yet clearly defined “extraordinary collections.” However, it is clear that Congress intended to protect low- and moderate-income earners from large medical bills. (Note that a large, unwarranted hospital bill will have a significant negative impact on a patient’s credit report.) Gerri Detweiler,’s consumer credit expert, reported that a reader had her hospital turn her $7,000 bill over to a collection firm before she even received it.

Ask for help at the hospital If you are treated by a nonprofit hospital, take steps to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the billing department and request information regarding financial assistance. You can also ask whether the hospital has any personnel with expertise in assisting low-income patients or patients with disabilities.

Ask for the hospital’s written financial assistance policy, which is mandated under ACA. If the billing department cannot provide you this information, then you should make your request in writing and send it by certified mail/signature requested to senior management of the hospital. Unfortunately, there has been an upsurge in allegations of debt collectors hassling patients. As the Huffington Post reported, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that her department is looking into allegations that “aggressive contractors were confronting patients in the hospital setting, not making it clear that they were actually bill collectors and not part of the hospital system.” If you are contacted by a collector in the hospital, obtain the person’s relevant information, such as name, company and address, and report it to your Congressional representative, as well as to senior management of the hospital. © 20212 Elliot Raphaelson. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N


H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

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Ireland is one of the top travel destinations for 2013. Find out why on page 24.

Wildlife and village life in heart of Africa


Village housing has grass roofs.

Everywhere I looked was a photograph waiting to be taken. That was equally true when the ElderTreks tour group with which I was traveling ventured out on game drives and boat cruises for close-up encounters with the animals that make Uganda their home.



By Victor Block steep hillsides, women — some with a Relaxing in a hot shower, walking to a baby napping in a sling on their back —nearby market to buy meat, or strolling chat with their neighbors working nearby. through a village may seem like common- Many men waiting for passengers to clamplace occurrences. However, for visitors to ber aboard their motorcycle taxi also share the African country of Uganda, these expe- lighthearted banter. riences are likely to be unlike life as you’re The biggest smiles adorn the faces of chilused to living it. dren, whether playing in the dirt near their For instance, the shower consists of hot house or waving to passing vehicles carrying water poured into a tank on the roof of a tent, visitors to their country. Their excitement which drips through and broad grins holes in a bucket onto prompted my wife Fylthe bather below. The lis and me, and our meat is large body parts eight traveling comof animals strung up in panions, to return an outside marketplace. every smile and wave And villages are groupthat came our way. ings of mud-brick huts Memories of other with thatched roofs and scenes also continue dirt floors. to dance in my head. I Most people travel still picture lines of to Uganda to observe a women and children Noah’s Ark variety of walking alongside potanimals in their natuholed roads balancing A young child fills water containers ral habitat. During my at a community well. a variety of bundles on recent visit, I found life their head. of another kind to be equally intriguing. OpThe women, many wearing colorful flowportunities to mix and mingle with the peo- ing dresses, might be carrying a bunch of ple soon became a highlight of the trip. bananas, laundry just washed in a stream, a five gallon plastic container of water pumped A picturesque country and people from the village well, or anything else that This central African country is land- needs to be moved from here to there. Some locked, yet fully a quarter of it is covered school children tote their books on their by water. That includes a section through head, their version of the backpack carried which the Nile River flows, and Lake Victo- by many youngsters in the United States. ria — the second largest freshwater lake in Bicycles and motorbikes are used to the world after Lake Superior. transport larger and heavier items. I spotThough it is one of the poorest nations ted them laden with cages of live chickens, of the world, its people reflect an easygo- heavy bags of charcoal used for cooking, ing, friendly demeanor, especially to visi- and a live goat slung across the lap of a tors. As they toil in fields that spill down man driving to an outdoor market.

From antelope to zebras The checklist of wildlife is long and varied, a literal alphabet, ranging from antelope to zebra. Actually, I learned that the word “antelope,” rather than describing a specific animal, is a catch-all name for about 90 species of beautiful creatures. We saw many kinds, varying from miniscule, graceful oribi to sturdy waterbuck, each with its own type of lovely and distinctive horns. Each animal encounter seemed to exceed the wonder and excitement of the previous sighting. Our itinerary included visits to two major gathering places of elephants in Uganda, where we were thrilled at the sight of those endearing beasts eating, resting and on the move. Herds of zebras resemble broad tableaus of black and white stripes with heads. Endangered Rothschild giraffes, identified by their white legs below the knee, stretch their long necks to browse on tender leaves at the top of tall trees. Large groups of powerful and feared Cape buffalo, wallowing in mud or huddled together on land, peer out from nearsighted eyes. Among our group of travelers, the countless hippos we came across in many bodies of water were a favorite sight. They spend much of the day floating just beneath the surface with only their tiny ears (and sometimes eyes) peeking out. When they emerge to graze on land, you understand why those highly aggressive creatures, which can top out at 6,000 pounds, are pretty much left alone by most other animals. The checklist of wildlife sightings continued. Troops of baboons congregate alongside roads searching for tasty plants and small insects. Wart hogs, with faces only another wart hog could love, kneel on their front knees to munch on grass. Giant crocodiles bask in the sun along river banks. Droll-looking vervet, black-andwhite colobus, and a menagerie of other monkeys chatter and scold from tree tops. Trees also are home to winged crea-

A Ugandan boy is carried by his mother.

tures in more than enough variety to make Uganda a birder’s paradise. More than 1,000 species of resident and migratory birds have been sighted there. Sighting even just a few of them can reveal a breathtakingly beautiful rainbow of colors. A hike in the forest searching for chimpanzees also had us scanning the treetops. Our first clue that they were nearby was a series of barks and growls emanating from high branches. Then we picked out four animals staring down at us, including a mother with a baby clinging tightly to her back. A chimp identified by our guide as an adolescent climbed down from a tree and lay on the ground about 10 feet from us. Then he took turns taking short naps and occasionally awakening to scratch himself, ignoring the members of our group as we took photo after photo. Even after countless sightings of birds and animals, we continued to long for encounters with big cats. Understanding how unlikely it is to come across elusive leopards, we agreed to settle for lions and eventually were rewarded for our flexibility. During one game drive, our eagle-eyed guide saw a family of three lions in the distance that ran into a large cluster of bushes See AFRICA, page 25


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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

Top worldwide travel destinations for 2013 By Beth J. Harpaz Myanmar, Marseille, New Zealand and Gettysburg are all on the travel radar for 2013 thanks to new tours, events and anniversaries. But the best pitch for travel in the new year might just be coming from Ireland, which is running ads “calling all Flynns, O’Malleys and Schweizenbergs” to the Emerald Isle for a unique grassroots homecoming called “The Gathering.” Here are details on these and other

places, events and travel trends for 2013. The Gathering “is a citizen-led initiative to attract people who are Irish-born, Irishbred or Irish in spirit to join us in 2013,” said Bernard McMullan of Tourism Ireland. “It’s almost become a competition where one county, town or village tries to have as quirky a gathering as the next.” More than 2,000 events are already planned, including events for redheads and left-handers as well as reunions based on family names and clans.

The U.S. Census Bureau said 34.7 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, and Arabella Bowen, executive editorial director of Fodor’s Travel, is one of them. Even President Barack Obama has an Irish ancestor in the family tree. “There are Irish people all over the world,” said Bowen. “It will be great fun being able to connect with others going back for this event. It’s like an entire year of St. Patrick’s Day parties.”

Myanmar and New Zealand

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President Obama’s historic recent visit to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) — the first ever by a sitting U.S. president — is adding to already heated-up interest in the country, which has only fully opened to tourism in the last few years. Fodor’s Bowen said it’s especially attractive to people who are already well traveled and are seeking that next unknown destination. Many tour companies are adding Myanmar trips due to demand, and the U.S. Tour Operators Association’s active members named Myanmar No. 1 on a list of “off-the-beaten path” countries they foresee becoming popular in 2013. New Zealand received a huge boost in tourism from fans of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, and the release of the new movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is focusing attention on the destination once again. All four of the movies were filmed in New Zealand. The French port city Marseille is one of two European capitals of culture in 2013, along with the Slovakian city of Kosice. Fodor’s Bowen said Marseille “has been overlooked in the past” by a lot of travelers heading to the lavender fields and wineries of Provence, but she believes it’s ripe for a “renaissance” with new hotels, art galleries and culinary hotspots. XL Airways France is launching direct flights from New York in late May.

Big anniversaries in the U.S. Several important anniversaries take place in 2013, with exhibits and events to mark them. • Gettysburg, Pa., is marking 150 years since the famous Civil War battle, which took place July 1-13, 1863. The town will also mark the sesquicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s brief but brilliant 272-word speech, the Gettysburg Address, which he delivered Nov. 19, 1863 at the battlefield cemetery. Marquee events for the battle commemoration, including reenactments and tours, will take place June 28 to July 7, but there will be activities and programs throughout the year. On July 1, the new Seminary Ridge Museum opens in a building that was used as a soldiers’ hospital. Union Gen. John Buford also used the structure’s cupola to scout the countryside on the battle’s first day. • Dallas plans a ceremony to mark 50 years since the assassination of President

John F. Kennedy, at the exact time and place where shots rang out: Dealey Plaza, Nov. 22, 12:25 p.m. The ceremony will begin with church bells tolling and a moment of silence, followed by a reading of Kennedy’s speeches, songs, prayers and a military flyover. Special programming for the occasion is also planned by many other sites, from the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, located in a building where a sniper’s nest and rifle were found following the shooting. • Saratoga, N.Y., is planning a May to September celebration with festivals and concerts marking the 150th anniversary of the Saratoga Race Course, where watching the horses remains a fun and popular pastime. The town is also known for upscale eateries and lodging, along with Saratoga Spa State Park, with its beautiful pools and natural springs. • New York City’s Grand Central Terminal kicks off its centennial Feb. 1 with a rededication of the landmarked Beaux Arts station. Performances, lectures, exhibits and tours are planned throughout the year. • Florida is marking the state’s 500th anniversary of European discovery and exploration, with events in all 67 counties.

Theme parks and beaches Next summer will see the popular 3-D ride based on the “Transformers” movies opening at Universal’s theme park in Orlando. “Transformers: The Ride — 3D” previously opened this past May at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles. At Disneyland in California, spring will see the opening of Fantasy Faire, located at Fantasyland and dedicated to Disney heroes and heroines. At Disney World near Orlando, Fla., a new attraction called Princess Fairytale Hall, where guests can meet Disney princesses, is also scheduled to open in 2013. Princess Fairytale Hall will be located at the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland, which opened in early December, doubling the size of the original Fantasyland. Both parks are offering weekly surprises for guests as part of a yearlong 2013 program called Limited Time Magic. Superstorm Sandy destroyed beaches, boardwalks and waterfront attractions all along the mid-Atlantic coast. Many communities on the Jersey shore, the beloved pier in Ocean City, Md., and elsewhere are hoping to have infrastructure rebuilt by summer. On Coney Island, in Brooklyn, N.Y., the landmark Cyclone and Wonder Wheel rides are in good condition along with other amusement park attractions, and are expected to reopen in spring as usual, along with the famous hot dog eatery Nathan’s and the home stadium for the Cyclones minor league baseball team. The New York Aquarium at Coney has been closed due to damage from flooding but hopes to reopen some if not all exhibits by summer. — AP

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

Africa From page 23 as our vehicle approached. After remaining hidden for some time, the male trotted out of the thicket, leaving the mother and infant behind, took a stance about thirty feet away and prowled back and forth as if on guard duty. Only when we eventually drove away did the king of the beasts saunter back into the bush, confident that his family was safe. Equally intriguing was our experience in the Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is one of only two places in the world, the other being in Tanzania, where lions climb trees as part of their regular behavior. It’s not known whether they do so to escape biting flies at ground level or to catch a cooling daytime breeze, descending at dusk to search for their dinner. The reason mattered little to us as we watched several lions comfortably settled on thick branches of fig trees.

Seeking the mountain gorilla Touted as a highlight of the trip was the opportunity to see mountain gorillas. Those magnificent creatures are mankind’s closest cousins, sharing between 95 and 99 percent of our DNA, depending on how it’s measured. Unfortunately, that kinship makes those splendid animals susceptible to human diseases. Before we began our trek, we were instructed to stay at least seven meters (about 22 feet) away and to suppress coughs and sneezes. Of the estimated 880 mountain gorillas in the world, about 400 live in Uganda’s aptly named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. As experienced hikers, Fyllis and I almost scoffed when told that ElderTreks provides a porter to carry each trekker’s daypack and, if necessary, the trekker. However, soon after entering the forest we quickly became thankful for their presence. The trail disappeared, and the guide used his machete to cut a shoe-wide path through thick underbrush. The ground was slippery, and unbreakable vines clutched at our feet. Our porters literally gave us a hand, pulling, pushing and doing whatever was necessary to help us up the steepest hills we’ve ever encountered. I soon understood why the animals we sought to visit are called mountain gorillas. Our pre-trek briefing indicated that it could take from two to seven hours to find a group of gorillas, spend one hour observing them and return to the starting point. Because the group we were seeking was on the prowl searching for food, it took us over three hours to find it and the full seven hours for the entire experience.

When we caught up with the gorillas, several were on tree branches chomping on leaves while others remained on the ground. The real excitement occurred when the silverback, the large dominant male, growled and began to charge us. Our guide quickly stepped in front, waved his arms and machete and the hulking gorilla turned away. Just in case, guides also are armed with an AK-47 which, ours assured us, he never has had to use. As much as gorilla trekking had been promoted as a — perhaps the — high point of our trip, it lasted only several hours during a 16-day adventure. The journey also included memorable safari game drives on land and cruises on water, each of which rewarded us with sightings of numerous animals. The adrenaline rush of a charging mountain gorilla and the beauty of lions sprawled over tree branches are but two of innumerable animal experiences that linger in my memory. Equally fascinating were encounters with people whose culture and lifestyle are very different from mine. These are among reason why several of my travel companions described their visit to Uganda as the trip of a lifetime.

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If you go A safari trip to Africa isn’t best undertaken as a do-it-yourself affair. We went there with ElderTreks, which since 1987 has conducted off-the-beaten-path trips for people 50 and over to more than 100 countries. Among benefits it offers are small groups limited to no more than 16 travelers, highly efficient trip preparation, outstanding local guides, and inclusion of all meals, which is not true for some tour companies. While a few meals had a set menu, most were elaborate buffets. Accommodations ranged from a luxury hotel, to a sophisticated lodge overlooking hillside tea plantations, to luxurious, spacious tented wilderness camps with a private bathroom, including that bucket shower. Monkeys, hippos and wart hogs were among the animals that hung around some camps and provided yet more opportunities to observe wildlife at close range. ElderTreks will offer its next Uganda trip in July at a discounted price (through Jan. 15) of $6,710 per person. It also will have an 18-day trip in September to Uganda and Rwanda priced at $7,645. Permits to trek for gorillas and chimpanzees cost extra. For more information about what may prove to be your trip of a lifetime, call ElderTreks at 1-800-741-7956 or log onto


Feb. 9


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Alexandria, Va. for a tour of the George Washington Masonic Memorial and the


Torpedo Factory Art Center on Saturday, Feb. 9. The bus leaves at 8 a.m. and

Call the community nearest you to inquire about eligibility requirements and to arrange a personal tour or email

returns at 4 p.m. Tickets are $51 per person. To register, call (410) 313-7275. For further information, call Ginny Ross at (410) 313-7279.

Professionally managed by The Shelter Group.


F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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Style Arts &

A one-of-a-kind creation from Greenbridge Pottery.

A little pottery business with a big heart

Business in a barn This is Greenbridge Pottery — the dream and lifelong mission of Rebecca Moy Behre. It is a downright cold winter day, and Behre, 57, is in the lower level of the three-story barn sitting next to the woodstove that she stokes occasionally with heavy kindling cut on the property. Her black cat Lena, the barn’s official mouser, is purring on her lap. The remodeled original cattle barn is where everything happens. There is a purposeful work area below, the display and sales area with neatly arranged shelves and racks on the main floor, and a second story that was once home to cattle and barnyard companions.

Behre purchased the property in the 1980s when the 30-acre farm was divided into several sites, including one with the original farmhouse. Behre opted instead for the six-acre parcel with the original barn and built a modular house for her home. This afternoon it is unusually quiet; there are no other potters on site right now, but works in progress are carefully stacked on shelves awaiting glazing and firing by Behre or her current associates Susan Greenleaf, Sabine Dahm, Nick Corso, Joe F. Bruiel and Patty Berry. Behre’s husband Evan, 57, is “the silent partner” she said with a grin. He has a “real job” as Maryland account manager for GE Healthcare Life Sciences, selling high-end, state-of-the-art biotechnology instruments. But he also works actively with Behre and her associates in marketing their pottery around the area. There are Greenbridge Pottery mugs and plates at the Crossroads Pub, Bean Hollow in Ellicott City, and in other Howard County coffee shops and restaurants, including several Baltimore eateries as well. In keeping with their motto “Peace, Love and Pottery,” the Behres also donate 10 percent of all sales to an assortment of charities as close to home as the Howard County Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Baltimore Animal Shelter, and as far away as Haitian Earthquake Relief and Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they support the


Three Cups of Tea organization that builds schools in those countries.

A start in art


By Anne Ball “Support Your Local Pottery” urges the hand-lettered yellow and black sign at the Crossroads Pub at Ten Oaks and Green Bridge roads in Dayton. A bit further down Green Bridge, there’s another sign with the same message leaning against a gray clapboard house. Anyone turning in is immediately immersed in a setting offering a funky take on mid-to-late 20th century Howard County: rural segueing into suburban, but not quite there yet. At the corner of the house there’s one more Pottery Open sign pointing toward an irregular pathway of chunky cement slabs and gravelly walkways leading to the old red barn behind the house.

Behre remembers well her introduction to pottery over 40 years ago when she was a student at Hyattsville Junior High School. One day in art class there was a movie of a person throwing a pot. “It just gripped my mind,” she remembers. A few years later, one of her high school art teachers with a pottery background encouraged her to try working with clay and a potter’s wheel. “I fell in love with making pots with the very first one, and I continue to love doing it after 40-plus years,” Behre said with a soft laugh. Greenbridge Pottery founder Rebecca Moy Behre shapes Today Behre’s signa- pots in the converted Dayton barn that serves as the ture plates, cup saucers, business’s studio and showroom. and wall hangings feature elements of nature pressed into the clay: developed during her University of Maryhosta leaves, pine cones, cat paws, even land days. There, she intended to graduate chicken feet – all found on the Green- with an arts degree, but instead found her science courses so interesting she ended bridge property. She continues to experiment with different mixes of clay and glazes, an interest See POTTERY, page 29

(410) 465-8777


Barber & Sibelius

with the Chamber Singers

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Singathon 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013, 3 PM

7:30 .. • Jim Rouse Theatre

Saturday, February 9, 2013 The Mall in Columbia Center Court, 1 - 3 pm

First Evangelical Lutheran Church

Benjamin Britten: “Four Sea Interludes” from Peter Grimes

3604 Chatham Road, Ellicott City 21042

Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 5

An afternoon of great choral music celebrating our first 36 years! Sponsored by Wegman’s and The Wine Bin

Advance: Adults $20, Seniors & Students $18, At the Door: $22 and $20, Group rates for 10 or more

For Tickets & Information,call 301-854-0107 or 410-799-9321 Visit our website

Samuel Barber: Violin Concerto with Madeline Adkins

Madeline Adkins BSO Concertmaster

Buy early for our popular SYMPHONIC POPS! featuring “A Tribute to Frank Sinatra” with Rob Zappulla and “A Celtic Celebration” with the Teelin Irish Dance Company

Saturday, March 16, 2013 • Rouse Theatre • 7:30 .. Sunday, March 17, 2013 • Rouse Theatre • 3:00 ..

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

Civil rights From page 1 where you lived” whether the school was fully integrated. Leak moved to Columbia in 1973 after getting a job teaching music here. She has found “all the difference in the world” between life in Louisiana, where she grew up, and in Columbia. “Jim Rouse did a wonderful thing,” she said, creating the town as a racially, economically and socially integrated society.

Inspired by a visual exhibit To prepare their stage presentations, Leak and other participants, many from interracial and interfaith backgrounds, were brought together for a series of oral history interview meetings. With guidance from Harriet Lynn, a local oral historian, dramaturge and performance director, they forged their written accounts into a script that they will perform throughout Black History Month for intergenerational audiences in the Baltimore area. In addition, the seniors will be paired with UMBC students to produce their stories in digital video format, which will be available for viewing at UMBC’s digital story site ( The digital stories will ultimately be distributed via iTunes U to schools throughout Maryland and beyond. “For All the World to Hear” is curated by Sandra Abbott, the director of UMBC’s Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC). Abbott says she was inspired by the traveling exhibition and book, For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, co-organized by CADVC and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. On view through March 10 at UMBC, the exhibition includes more than 250 ob-

jects — including posters, photographs, graphic art, magazines, newspapers, books, pamphlets, political buttons, comic books, toys, postcards, and clips from film, newsreels and television. The exhibition was inspired by a black and white photograph taken in September 1955. Shortly after Emmett Till was murdered by white supremacists in Money, Miss., his grieving mother, Mamie Till Bradley, distributed to newspapers and magazines a gruesome photograph of his mutilated corpse. Asked why she would do this, Bradley explained that by witnessing with their own eyes the brutality of segregation and racism, Americans would be more likely to support the cause of racial justice and equality. “Let the world see what I’ve seen,” was her reply. The publication of the photograph transformed the modern civil rights movement, inspiring a new generation of activists to join the cause.

Former Freedom Rider speaks One of those activists was Columbia resident Deryck Charles, who is also a participant in the oral history project. In his presentation, Charles relates his experiences as a Freedom Rider who took interstate buses into the segregated South. He said he became a Freedom Rider because at about the time he immigrated to the United States from Guyana in the mid1950s, he saw that picture of the mutilated Emmett Till in Jet magazine. “It tore me up, man,” said Charles, who came to the U.S. to study. “I came to America because I loved it. I just couldn’t imagine this happening in the land of the free and the home of the brave. But at that time, I didn’t know anything about the South. “I always was a go-getter, and knew I had to do something,” he said. “So I said, ‘Let me do this, ride the buses down South.’”

He remembers arriving in Biloxi, Miss. in 1969 and attempting with the other passengers to integrate a lunch counter in a five-and-dime store there. “We were arrested, locked in a gym, and told we could not use the bathroom. ‘Use your own bathroom in your own home and stay out of here,’ we were told,” said Charles, now 76, a retired engineer. “I was so upset, how human beings could be so terrible to other humans.” And so the stories told by Leak and Charles put flesh on the bones of the traveling visual exhibit and give them a unique human dimension. As Abbott puts it, “I knew there would be plenty in the [visual exhibit] gallery to see, but I wanted to engage our immediate community — especially seniors — since they are all around us and available to pass on their first-person accounts directly to the next generation. “So often I see seniors marginalized and their stories taken for granted,” said


Abbott. “This project was a chance to channel a diversity of voices on the struggle for civil rights to the next generation.”

Getting their say Baltimore residents John and Shirley Billy, an interracial couple, are also sharing their story through the oral history project. John, 77, is African American. He is a retired truck driver and also a lifelong musician who performed with the recording artists the Honey Boys. Shirley, 76, is retired from a career with Bank of America. In 1958, John and Shirley married in Washington, D.C., where interracial unions were legal. But at the time, the City of Baltimore and State of Maryland, where they lived, did not recognize their marriage. (A law repealing the ban on interracial marriages was passed in Maryland in 1967.) Shirley was arrested and imprisoned. See CIVIL RIGHTS, page 29


Feb. 9


Je T’aime: I Love You Terminal, about two people stuck in Prague after missing a flight, the second in its Jewish Film Series, will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. at the Columbia Jewish Congregation, Room 200, 5885 Robert Oliver Pl., Columbia. Tickets are $9 at the door. For more information about this and upcoming films in the series, call Tom Laufer at (410) 997-0694 or visit


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F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

Civil rights From page 27 Their first-born child was taken from them and put up for adoption. Fortunately, the Billys were able to find him in South Carolina and get him back before the adoption was finalized. So intent was the government on upholding the law banning interracial marriages that John was drafted into the Army in an effort to keep them apart. “That didn’t work either,” John chuckled. “We survived it all. It’s sort of a miracle.” John was born in Washington, D.C., and moved to Baltimore at the age of 6. Shirley, born in Arkansas to an Irish and English father and Irish mother, moved to Baltimore at the age of 4. Though they never met as children, they both grew up on the east side of town where they never encountered racism. “We all came up together, played together, and for my part, I sang in white night clubs,” said John. “Neither one of us had ever experienced anything like what happened to us after we were married.” The couple has written a book about their experience, entitled Flavor: Faith, Love and Victory over Racism. For John and Shirley Billy, participating in “For All the World to Hear” is an oppor-

Pottery From page 26 up with a B.S. degree in ornamental horticulture. Behre added a Master of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in ceramics at Antioch University in Columbia, where she also taught for 10 years. Now, continuing the tradition, her daughter Rose, 20, is a student at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

Worldwide sales The business continues to grow and grow. In the barn’s upstairs sales area are two maps: one of the world and another of the U.S. Pins indicating locations of Greenbridge Pottery mugs, bowls, cups and platter purchases sprout up in all the states and

tunity to tell their story and show how they have triumphed over adversity. The Billys say they have enjoyed taking part in “For All the World to Hear” and meeting the other participants. In the end though, they and the other performers have just one goal. “We want to be heard,” said John.

Upcoming presentations Performances by the participants in “For All the World to Hear” will take place in February as follows: • Friday, Feb. 8 at noon at Baltimore City Hall • Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. at the Jewish Museum of Maryland • Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m., Maryland Historical Society • Friday, Feb. 15, at 10:30 a.m., UMBC, Recital Hall, Fine Arts Building • Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m., Enoch Pratt Free Library, Main Branch. All performances for “For All the World to Hear” are free; however, some of the venues have their own admission charges. Consult individual venues for admission policies. For more information, visit For more information on the exhibition “For All the World to See,” visit

around the world. “I once put in our newsletter that we knew of Greenbridge Pottery items on all continents except Antarctica,” Behre recalled. “That resulted in a call from a merchant seaman who was heading there. He ordered a mug to give to his commanding officer. And we added a new pin!” While the Howard County-based company exemplifies an old-fashioned cottage industry — Behre and crew participate in the annual Sheep and Wool Festival at Howard County Fairgrounds, at the Farmers Market in Olney, and the Strawberry Festival in Sandy Spring — Greenbridge Pottery utilizes modern marketing media as well. There’s a Greenbridge Pottery Facebook page, electronic newsletters, and a full website including online shopping, information on the associates. and listings of seasonal events at


Feb. 13+

MYSTERY BOOK CLUB The mystery book discussion group at the Savage Branch Library

meets the second Wednesday of each month. February’s book is The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. The discussion takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The library is located at 9525 Durness Ln., Laurel. For more information, call (410) 880-5980

Feb. 23

LECTURE SERIES AT BAIN A new program of informative lectures on the arts, history, literature and other topics begins on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 9:15 a.m. at

the Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia. There is a fee of $18 to participate. For a list of lecture topics and registration information, call (410) 3137275 or email



Feb. 2


The Columbia Orchestra will present music of Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten and Jean Sibelius in a performance featuring violinist Madeline Adkinson of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jim Rouse Theatre and Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Rd., Columbia. Bill Scanlan Murphy of Howard Community College will offer a free lecture preceding the concert at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $25 for adults, $21 for seniors and $12 for students. For more information, visit or call (410) 465-8777.

Feb. 25+


Learn how to print, edit and email your own photos in a two-day, hands-on class on Monday, Feb. 25 and Tuesday, Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Elkridge Senior Center, 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge. A fee of $40 covers both sessions. For more information, call (410) 313-5192.


From page 30.


F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3 — H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N

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Puzzle Page

Crossword Puzzle Daily crosswords can be found on our website: Click on Puzzles Plus Profession Possessions by Stephen Sherr 1













24 28




Scrabble answers on p. 29.







16 19




35 40




47 51

42 48

























Answer: When a computer fails, it can be — "TERMINAL" Jumbles: FAINT YOKEL MIDWAY JUMPER









68 70




1. Without ___ in the world 6. A trail of breadcrumbs, perhaps 10. Driving hazard 13. They may be hidden behind portraits 14. Geometry test answers 16. ___ Jima 17. “No bid” 18. Like a Jeopardy! champion 19. Even-money roulette bet 20. “I’ll have a ham on rye - stat” 23. ___ Day (vitamins) 24. 1040 fig. 25. Boil with anger 28. Where the news team crashes for the night 31. 43 Across times five 34. Snaky fish 35. A likely story 36. Chortle sound 37. “You’ve got mail” co. 40. Standard quantity of king’s horses 42. Schwarzkopf, e.g. 43. Suit to ___ 45. Transcript fig. 47. Addicts 49. The area of town where all the novelists live 53. Existentialist philosopher 54. Word on a Valentine’s card 55. Apropos of 59. WICU: 98.6 on Your FM Dial 62. Ostrich’s cousin 64. Remove a wrong answer 65. Top tens 66. Big container of chemicals 67. Dissuade 68. Come next 69. Typo correctors 70. Use the left lane 71. Arab Spring hot spot

1. Do ___ 2. Poultry option 3. ___ in the crowd 4. Do-over 5. Exxon ex-name 6. Collect $200 7. Bedroom piece 8. Extract a coupon from an ad 9. High-pressure pitch 10. It may contain the dedication 11. Have more payments 12. Saturn or Mars 15. Take the wheel 21. Have a heart-to-heart 22. Recline on a hammock 26. In better health 27. Utopias 29. US Air’s best guess 30. Casual meeting 31. Recovers from the freezer 32. Four-word introduction 33. What squirrely squirrels bury 38. “He’s fat, ugly, and mean” 39. 70’s-era revolvers 41. Director Jean-___ Godard 44. Caesar’s surprise 46. The pits 48. On ice 50. Miscalculated 51. Those with fewer electoral votes 52. Behind the fashion curve 56. Wimp 57. Determine one’s Putt-Putt score 58. Commencement 60. ___ pita (try Middle Eastern cuisine) 61. Toward the harbor 62. All About ___ 63. Insane

Answers on page 29.

H O WA R D C O U N T Y B E A C O N — F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 3

CLASSIFIEDS The Beacon prints classified advertising under the following headings: Business & Employment Opportunities; Caregivers; Computer Services; Entertainment; For Sale; For Sale/Rent: Real Estate; Free; Health; Home/ Handyman Services; Miscellaneous; Personals; Personal Services; Vacation Opportunities; and Wanted. For submission guidelines and deadlines, see the box on the bottom of this page. CAVEAT EMPTOR! The Beacon does not knowingly accept obscene, offensive, harmful, or fraudulent advertising. However, we do not investigate any advertisers or their products and cannot ac cept responsibility for the integrity of either. Respondents to classified advertising should always use caution and their best judgment. EMPLOYMENT & REAL ESTATE ADS: We will not knowingly or intentionally accept advertising in violation of federal, state, and local laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, familial status or handicap in connection with employment or the sale or rental of real estate.

For Rent/Sale: Real Estate FOR SALE CONDO move-in condition. Fresh paint, neutral. 2BR, 2BA, balcony, wooded view, pool, club house privileges. Updates: kitchen, fast flush toilets, crown molding, wood floor, broom tile. E. Reisterstown – 410-870-6890.

For Sale 2 SALVADOR DALI woodblock prints from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Signed and framed. Asking $900 for the pair. Can email pictures if desired. Call Steve 410-913-1653. ONE SINGLE FLUSH GREY GRANITE VAULT - with casket. One lot. In Forest Lawn section 123 at Loudon Park Cemetery, Wilkins Ave, Catonsville, MD. Call 410-247-3644 – PM best.

Home & Handyman Services RICHARD YOUNG PLUMBING * Master plumber * Over 30 years experience * locally owned and operated husband and wife team * Contact us about our discounts 301-562-9100, MPL#21098.

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Personal Services NEED HELP WITH PAPER MANAGEMENT or checkbook balancing? Overwhelmed by medical claims/bills? Vision or Health Impairment? Call Bonnie Blas – The Organizer (over 20 years) 410-358-9290.

Personals THANK YOU Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Jude, and Blessed Virgin Mary for prayers answered and your continued help. –PGA.

Wanted VINYL RECORDS WANTED from 1950 through 1985. Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Reggae and Disco. 33 1/3 LPs, 45s or 78s, Larger collections of at least 100 items wanted. Please call John, 301-596-6201. MILITARY ITEMS Collector seeks: helmets, weapons, knives, swords, bayonets, webgear, uniforms, inert ordnance, ETC. From 1875 to 1960, US, German, Britain, Japan, France, Russian. Please call Fred 301-910-0783, Thank you. Also Lionel Trains.



Feb. 12


Tilson Thomas’s film The Thomashefskys explores the lives of his grandparents, founding members of the Yiddish Theater in America, in a program on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at the Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia. For more information, call Sophie Novinsky at the Jewish Federation of Howard County at (410) 730-4976, ext. 103.



A community knitting and crocheting group meets the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month to produce afghans, blankets, baby wear and other needed items for hospitals, charities and senior centers. The group convenes from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Kiwanis-Wallas Hall, 3300 Norberts Way, Ellicott City. For more information, call (410) 313-7279.


Feb. 1

CASH FOR ESTATE BUYOUTS, estate clean-outs, jewelry to furniture, one item or whole state. Free Estimate, Will Travel. 301520-0755.

The county is seeking persons interested in joining a 13-person commission to coordinate activities to honor the birthday, ideals and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Deadline for applicants is Friday, Feb. 1. For more information, visit the website or call the Office of Human Rights at (410) 313-6430.

BUYING NUMISMATIC COINS and most gold or silver items including coins, sterling, jewelry, etc. Will come to you with best cash offer. Call Paul: 410-756-1906.

Feb. 23

FINE ANTIQUES, PAINTINGS AND QUALITY VINTAGE FURNISHINGS wanted by a serious capable buyer. I am very well educated [law degree] knowledgeable [over 40 years in the antique business] and have the finances and wherewithal to handle virtually any situation. If you have a special item, collection or important estate I would like to hear from you. I pay great prices for great things in all categories from oriental rugs to Tiffany objects, from rare clocks to firearms, from silver and gold to classic cars. If it is wonderful I am interested. No phony promises or messy consignments. References gladly furnished. Please call Jake Lenihan 301-279-8834. Thank you. CASH BUYER for old costume jewelry, pocket and wrist watches (any condition). Also buying watch maker tools and parts, train sets and accessories, old toys, old glassware & coins. 410655-0412.

Thank you for reading the Beacon!

TO PLACE A CLASSIFIED Deadlines and Payments: Ad text and payment is due by the 5th of each month. Note: Only ads received and prepaid by the deadline will be included in the next month’s issue. Please type or print your ad carefully. Include a number where you can be reached in the event of a question. Payment is due with ad. We do not accept ads by phone or fax, nor do we accept credit cards.


Celebrate the new Miller Branch with music, fine food and a silent auction, with author Mary Doria Russell and Ron Charles, deputy editor of The Washington Post’s Book World section. An “Evening in the Stacks” starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Miller Branch Library, 9421 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. All proceeds benefit the Howard County Library’s educational initiatives. Tickets are $100 per person until Jan. 31. From Feb. 1, and at the door, admission is $125. For more information and tickets, visit or call (410) 313-7750.

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2013 Community Seminar Series Offers Insight on Living Well Brooke Grove Retirement Village (BGRV) is pleased to launch its fifth year of Living Well Community Seminars beginning in February. Designed to help participants navigate a variety of healthcare and personal challenges, this year’s series offers an impressive array of experts ready to offer insight on topics that range from Alzheimer’s disease to the rewards of a daily, 15-minute workout. Each free, monthly presentation will be held from 7 to 8:15 p.m. in the terrace level conference room of Brooke Grove Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and will be preceded by a complimentary light supper beginning at 6:30 p.m. They are open to the public as well as to members of the BGRV family. The seminar series will kick off on Wednesday, February 20, with “The Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.” Mikki Firor, programs and services manager of the Alzheimer’s Association, National Capital Area, will share the facts about Alzheimer’s including detection, causes, risk factors, stages of the disease, treatment and much more. “Recover from Paper Overload” on Wednesday, March 20, with professional organizer and productivity consultant Marcie Lovett of Organized by Marcie™. Just in time to help you prepare for your income taxes, you’ll learn what to keep and what you can safely discard. The author of “The Clutter Book: When You Can’t Let Go,” Ms. Lovett will also help you reduce the amount of time you spend on

paperwork by keeping it organized throughout the year. On Wednesday, April 24, Brian Sanderoff will take the podium to discuss “The Essential 6: The Supplements Everyone Should Take.” As a holistic pharmacist and popular radio show host, Mr. Sanderoff is often asked “What supplements do you take?” Since Mr. Sanderoff suggests a myriad of supplements for a variety of conditions, the implication is that the supplements he personally takes must be the really important ones! His seminar will provide the answer to that question and more. You will learn the biochemical and scientific justification for taking certain supplements and/or tending to specific, key functions of the body. You will also discover the hidden secrets to keeping your body

functioning like it did when younger and how to avoid the diseases of aging from which generations in your family have suffered. An interactive presentation by fitness expert and motivator Rick Bradley on Wednesday, May 22, will help you get moving – one small step at a time – toward a healthier life. If you realize that exercise is good for you, but remain physically inactive for many reasons, this introduction to “Quick Fit: The Complete 15Minute, No-Sweat Workout” is

for you! The creator of the Quick Fit exercise program and the author of a book by the same name, Mr. Bradley will demonstrate how a 15-minute combination of aerobic activity, strengthening exercises and stretching can be done at home or at work to improve cardiovascular fitness, strength and flexibility. To attend any of these programs, please RSVP by the Monday prior to each seminar to Director of Marketing Toni Davis at 301-388-7209 or

For more information about Brooke Grove, call


February 2013 Howard County Beacon Edition  
February 2013 Howard County Beacon Edition  

February 2013 Howard County Beacon Edition