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The Howard County



VOL.1, NO.8




More than 30,000 readers throughout Howard County

Musicians put heart into songs

5 0 NOVEMBER 2011

I N S I D E …


By Carol Sorgen A passion for music has defined Ted Zlatin’s life, from his days playing in a teenage band, to a career that has covered every aspect of the music business, from promoting records to selling pianos. Now retired, Zlatin is using that same passion to bring the joy of music to older adults throughout the Washington/Baltimore corridor through the Music and Art Traveling Heart Show. “Music and arts have shown the power to touch a heart and soul, bring back a memory, evoke an emotion, inspire feelings and stimulate the senses,” said the 62year-old Zlatin, who grew up in Baltimore and now lives in Howard County. The vision of the Traveling Heart Show, which Zlatin established two years ago, is to enhance quality of life for area seniors. Two of his inspirations are his own parents, ages 92 and 89. “They are why I’m doing what I’m doing,” Zlatin said. “We strive to bring out emotions with an interaction of musicians, artists, performers, video and audio to find a way to touch their hearts,” said Zlatin.


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

Bargains beckon in post-revolution Tunisia; plus, healing for body and soul in nearby West Virginia page 23

Meet the performers Four professional musicians make up the band: Otis Stroup on keyboard, Jamie Hopkins on bass, and Tim Ghiz on drums, with Bruce Thomas as the vocalist. Zlatin himself doesn’t perform, but serves as the band’s executive director, setting up gigs and raising funds, as the Traveling Heart Show is a nonprofit group. Some members of the band have a lot of experience performing for older audiences. Stroup, for example, has long performed with his wife, a flutist and singer, at nursing homes. “It’s a crowd that I love,” Stroup said. There’s ordinarily a “barrier between musicians and the audience,” he said, but when playing for seniors at a community “there’s a lot more singing along. I don’t think we perform for [these audiences]; we’re sharing music with them.” Stroup has been a mainstay in the Baltimore/Washington metro area, playing for more than 20 years at restaurants such as the Rusty Scupper in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the Café de Paris in Howard County.

ARTS & STYLE The Music and Art Traveling Heart Show — brainchild of Ted Zlatin (left) — brings a lively, interactive performance of golden oldies to retirement communities and senior centers throughout the area. Members of the band (behind Zlatin) include Tim Ghiz, on drums, Jamie Hopkins, on electric bass, Otis Stroup, pianist, and Bruce Thomas, vocalist.

Ghiz has been playing drums professionally for 43 years, including traveling across the country with numerous shows on the road. He particularly enjoys performing for the Traveling Heart Show’s audiences because “I like playing the jazz standards that older generations appreciate a little more.” The great standards of the 30s and 40s that the band now performs were the top 40 back in the day for their audiences, Ghiz noted. “You can see their faces light up,” he said. “That’s a lot more rewarding than playing for people trying to pick each other up at a bar.” But Ghiz also has a more personal connection with some of his audiences. He

said he long served as a caregiver for his father, who had Alzheimer’s. “I saw when I put swing music on for him, that would cut right through the memory loss. He’d have a big smile on his face, unlike with television or even visitors,” he said. Ghiz sees that sense of recognition in some members of their audiences as well.

CenterStage’s al fresco Our Town takes place on the grounds of the former Patapsco Female Institute page 27

FITNESS & HEALTH k A blood test for Alzheimer’s? k Time to get your flu shot


Passion runs both ways

THE SENIOR CONNECTION 16 k Howard County Office on Aging Newsletter

Hopkins is a full-time musician, teaching bass and guitar, performing on bass and singing. He has been performing since the age of 13, and also composes and

LAW & MONEY 18 k Cut cable connection and save k Time for longevity insurance

See BAND, page 28



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

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Railing against reform Social Security is no longer the ‘third But you know, even if I had been aware rail” of American politics. Legislators no of the debate — and of the effect it would longer touch it and die. At eventually have on my retireleast not instantaneously. ment income 40 years later — But this isn’t the first time I still don’t think it would Congress has seriously unhave energized me to call dertaken to change the Congress. terms of our social contract At the time, I wasn’t thinkwith Social Security. Over its ing about Social Security. In history, changes have been fact, I was still in law school considered and made on sevand thinking about intervieweral occasions to keep the ing for my first real job. program financially solvent FROM THE And with 40-plus years for what was the foreseeable PUBLISHER ahead of me before likely reBy Stuart P. Rosenthal tirement — and, with God’s future at the time. I wasn’t plugged into the help, 50, 60 or even 70 years debate when the last big set of changes of life potentially to live — I doubt I would were made in 1983. I was 26 then, and have seen the 18-month delay in Social Sefrankly, it just wasn’t on my radar. curity to be particularly unfair or unreaSo I can’t say whether older adults at the sonable. time were up in arms about the 1983 proI bring this up because many of the proposals, or whether advocacy organizations posals now being made to extend Social were sending out screaming mailings urg- Security’s solvency and address its looming members to write or call their con- ing shortfall are of the same nature. gressmen to complain. That is, they are generally crafted to If they were, it didn’t stop Congress spare all current retirees — and even those from changing the date I was eligible for within 10 years of retirement — from any ill full Social Security from my 65th birthday effects, and to focus most changes on until I turned 66-and-a-half. today’s youth and middle-aged workforce.

Beacon The






5 0

The Beacon is a monthly newspaper dedicated to inform, serve, and entertain the citizens of Howard County, and is privately owned. Other editions serve Greater Baltimore and Greater Washington. 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 • Assistant Operations Manager ..........Roger King

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Furthermore, surveys of young people today typically find that they have very low expectations of receiving much of anything from Social Security when they reach retirement age. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t still be entitled to it; but it does suggest they already understand that the government safety net will not make for a comfortable landing if they don’t also save diligently for their own retirement. And that’s a good thing, really. So my question is this: why are the most vocal critics of today’s proposals for adjusting Social Security the older adults who will almost certainly not be affected? And if you say it’s because they care about the future for their grandchildren, what about the fact that economists appear to believe it’s those very grandchildren (or their children) who will suffer the most if we can’t agree to make even relatively

modest changes to Social Security now? The financial shortfalls that are looming won’t come to pass for many decades. If we care about our progeny, that should be an incentive to act; not to fight action. I am not a maven on this topic. I’m just trying to strike what I sense is a reasonable balance. But if you’d like to hear from a real maven, please do join me at one of the Beacon’s upcoming 50+Expos, where Dr. Charles Blahous, a trustee of Social Security and Medicare, will lay out the challenges facing Social Security, discuss a variety of proposed solutions, and explain their likely effects in a clear, concise manner. See the facing page for details about these events. I hope you will join us there.

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. Dear Editor: Regarding the publisher’s column (“Moving the folks,” October), yes, it’s an incredible challenge to help parents move from their homes of many decades. You definitely need to have an extraordinary amount of time and patience! After my father died, I spent 18 months moving my mother from the house they had lived in for over 50 years to a condo. The generation that grew up during the Depression saved everything! We found countless photos, memorabilia, etc. she did not remember. Laurie England Via email Dear Editor: All seniors obviously develop health issues. Some are minor, though, unfortunately, some are major. Comes with the territory of aging. One issue of aging is not fully addressed. This issue is discrimination. I’m fully aware of this first-hand. I filed a discrimination complaint with HUD over three years ago. Thus began my journey into the Land of Oz, combined with a side trip with Alice in Wonderland. I suffer with neuropathy with hydrocephalus tossed in. My mobility is severely compromised, and I require the services of aides for transportation to doctors’ appointments, shopping, cleaning my apartment, etc. My claim was for discrimination due to a parking space issue.

My being handicapped was questioned initially. Anyone with common sense could have seen within three minutes that I was physically challenged (love that term). The shunt projecting from my head, the wheelchairs, the walkers, etc. give a wee hint. After three years, I was finally certified as disabled. I was next delivered to the doorstep to the Department of Justice. My claim, based on the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, was sidetracked. I was informed to hire my own attorney since they do not represent me. Since my budget does not allow this luxury and the Respondents have deep pockets, I am out of luck. It was suggested I obtain pro-bono legal representation. Looking for a pro-bono attorney for a discrimination issue is like looking for the tooth fairy. Interestingly enough, pro-bono is available for criminal cases. My discrimination claim was programmed to fail from inception. In my innocence, I believed that the various laws passed to protect seniors and handicapped were on the up and up. The laws look great for PR, but enforcement is non-existent. One thing is certain. I have supplied my own stimulus package to countless Federal employees and given them the justification for their being employed. I wonder how many others have received this type of cavalier treatment. Herbert Zayer Oyster Bay, NY

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

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SPECIAL PROGRAM: What will become of Social Security and Medicare? Featuring: Charles P. Blahous Public Trustee of Social Security and Medicare

Informative Exhibits • Expert Speakers Flu Shots • Health Screenings Entertainment • Giveaways AT TWO LOCATIONS Ballston Common Mall White Flint Mall N. Bethesda, MD Sunday, November 6 Noon – 4 p.m.

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

Health Fitness &

FACING FACTS There is no proof for many claims about anti-aging beauty products MELTING TUMORS AWAY New, more effective drugs for lung cancer target a genetic mutation BE PREPARED Learn how to pack an emergency supply of your medications FALL FOR GARDENING It’s time to transplant perennials and turn autumn leaves into compost

Blood test for mental illness, Alzheimer’s? By Tarah Knaresboro Cancer has the biopsy, kidney disease has the urine test, and HIV has the cheek swab. Yet diagnosis for mental illness is often nothing more than a survey or a conversation with a psychiatrist. The lack of distinct biological markers of disease could be doing a huge disservice to patients, said Alexander Niculescu, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the Indiana School of Medicine. “If you can demonstrate you’re dealing with a biological abnormality just like all the other medical disorders,” he said, “you’ll not only destigmatize [mental] illness, but also pave the way for better treatment.” Analyzing brain chemistry is notoriously difficult because extracting a tissue sample could have disastrous consequences on cognitive function, and functional MRI scans provide limited information. Blood tests are an attractive option, not just because they’re cheap and commonplace, but also because blood can provide useful indications of brain state. While there is a demonstrable biological connection between brain and blood, ac-

cording to Stephen J. Glatt, a psychiatrist at the State University of New York-Upstate Medical College, “it’s too early to be directly marketing blood-based expression tests to consumers,” he said. “Be hopeful, but be skeptical and patient.”

Areas of progress In the meantime, the field is progressing rapidly. Here’s a snapshot of progress in the field: Anxiety: New animal research from the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience in the Netherlands has linked anxious behavior to low levels of magnesium in the brain, suggesting that some day, a simple blood test of magnesium levels may help diagnose anxiety. Researcher Marijke Laarakker also suspects that manipulating magnesium levels may alleviate symptoms. Research is ongoing. Schizophrenia: Rather than finding a blood biomarker for this complex disease, Alexander Niculescu’s team sought markers for two key symptoms: hallucinations and delusions. They examined the array of

genes expressed in the blood of schizophrenics (vs. healthy controls) and ranked a list of genes that were unique to patients with symptoms. Scientists measure how closely a given subject’s gene expression matches the genes they’ve singled out for predictive potential. The test is 60 to 80 percent accurate at detecting the disease. Niculescu expects it to hit the market in three years, bolstered by a recent $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Depression: Depression is traditionally self-reported, leading to a fair amount of underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis, said Dutch researcher Sabine Spijker. Her team is developing a blood test that functions similarly to the schizophrenia test: They extracted blood samples and sifted through the expressed genes for depression predictors. The results, published in Biological Psychiatry, show about 70 percent accuracy — a solid first step toward an objective measure for depression, Spijker said. She thinks a depression blood test will be com-

mercially available within five to 10 years.

A promising Alzheimer’s test Today, the only surefire way to diagnose Alzheimer’s is by identifying the disease’s signature tangled brain fibers in postmortem tissue. A test for living patients would allow for proper planning and, perhaps, intervention. Tom Kodadek, a biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla., has developed just that: a blood test that uses synthetic antigens (proteins that spark an immune response) to track down Alzheimer’s-fighting antibodies. The resulting test is more than 90 percent accurate in blind studies of patients and controls. It pulls 8 percent false positives and no false negatives, according to results published in Cell. Kodadek suspects the false positives are in fact early indicators of dementia to come. He hopes the test might one day be predictive, not just diagnostic. — Psychology Today Magazine © 2011 Sussex Publishers. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Shop earlier for Medicare plans this year By Tom Murphy A new deadline for Medicare Advantage plans — privately run versions of the government’s Medicare program — may trip up seniors who typically wait until the holidays to settle on their health insurance coverage for the coming year. Medicare Advantage plans cover more than 11 million people. They offer basic Medicare coverage topped with extras, such as vision or dental coverage or premiums lower than standard Medicare rates. Most beneficiaries enroll after they turn 65. Then they have an open enrollment window every fall in which they can drop their coverage and switch to another plan.

Deadlines moved up Beneficiaries should have received their annual notice telling them about any changes in their coverage for next year by Sept. 30, which is a month earlier than last year. Insurers will start marketing their 2012 plans on Oct. 1.

This fall’s open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription drug coverage has been changed to Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. (Last year, it was from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31.) Closing the enrollment period in early December aims to provide more time for applications to be processed by the end of the year. This should help prevent the problems many late deciders had last year in getting coverage started by January 1. But the change could also create other problems for many beneficiaries. Here are answers to some common questions. Will the deadline changes affect many beneficiaries? Medicare Advantage customers will have enough time to consider their options and enroll in another plan if they avoid waiting until the last minute, said Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. But last-minute stragglers are common. Plans can receive as much as a quarter of

the applications for coverage they normally get during open enrollment in those last three weeks of December, according to Matt Burns spokesman of UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest Medicare Advantage coverage provider with more than 2 million customers. Many people take time to make their coverage decisions. Beneficiaries start seeing Medicare Advantage ads in the fall. Then they might talk to their families, stew on the decision, and wait for the holidays to pass, said Dr. Jan Berger, chief medical officer at Silverlink Communications Inc., which works with Medicare Advantage providers. What happens if you miss the deadline and make no changes? This can get complicated. If the plan is still offered for 2012, then a customer who doesn’t make any changes remains enrolled. But important aspects of that plan may change. If the plan is discontinued, customers may be switched to another Medicare Advantage plan offered by the same insurer.

The cost and coverage could be different. They also could be dropped into regular Medicare, which does not provide prescription drug coverage. Options do not completely dry up if a beneficiary misses the Dec. 7 deadline. From January 1 to February 14, Medicare Advantage customers can drop their plans and enroll in regular Medicare. During this time, they also can pick a Part D prescription drug plan to go along with that coverage, but they can no longer jump to another Medicare Advantage plan (as used to be the case prior to this year). Here’s another wrinkle: Beneficiaries can enroll any time during the year in a Medicare Advantage plan that has prescription drug coverage if they receive a low-income subsidy or if they have access to a plan with a five-star quality rating. The catch: Only a few plans attained that rating for this year, said David Lipschutz, an attorney with the Center for Medicare See MEDICARE, page 6

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It’s time to get vaccinated against the flu

11/11 HC

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Here are some questions and answers about flu vaccinations: Q: How does the new skin-deep vaccine work? A: Sanofi Pasteur’s Fluzone Intradermal uses a needle less than a tenth of an inch long to inject vaccine just below the skin’s

See FLU VACCINE, page 7


Flu Qs and As

ent age group, people ages 2 to 49 who are healthy — meaning no one with underlying health conditions or who is pregnant. Unlike flu shots that are made with killed flu virus, FluMist is made with live but weakened virus. Q: For older adults, does CDC recommend the high-dose shot? A: The immune system weakens with age, so it doesn’t respond as well to an ordinary flu shot. Sanofi’s Fluzone High-Dose is a standard into-the-muscle shot, but it contains four times the usual dose, to spur more immune response in people 65 and older. First sold last year, studies still are un-


The big question is whether people will bother to get one. Usually each year’s flu vaccine varies from the previous versions as different influenza strains emerge. This year, the vaccine’s a duplicate because the three flu strains that sickened people last winter are still circulating. Scientific studies aren’t clear about how much a person’s immunity wanes over a year, although it varies by age and overall health. But federal health officials and the American Academy of Pediatrics weighed the evidence and say don’t skip this year’s vaccination — it’s the only way to be sure

surface. This layer, called the dermis, is so rich in a certain type of immune cell that the new shot uses a lower dose of the same vaccine that’s in regular flu shots. Studies found it triggered as much protection as full-strength muscle shots — although it did cause more skin reactions like redness, swelling and itching. But it’s only for 18- to 64-year-olds. It hasn’t been studied in children’s more-tender skin. Sanofi estimates it will sell less than 1 million doses this year while introducing the newly approved product to doctors, before a full market launch next flu season. Q: What about the original ouchless flu vaccine, the nasal-spray version? A: MedImmune’s FluMist is for a differ-

Get a flu shot annually

your immune system remains revved enough for the best protection. “You’re not going to be able to count on [last year’s] vaccine protecting you throughout a second season,” said Dr. Lisa Grohskopf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A yearly vaccination now is recommended for virtually everyone, except babies younger than 6 months and people with severe allergies to the eggs used to make it. Last year, 49 percent of children and 41 percent of adults were vaccinated. Say you never catch the flu? You could be a carrier, unknowingly spreading the misery when you feel little more than a sniffle, said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “You should be vaccinated each and every year to ensure that you’re protected and that you’re giving the maximum protection to people around you,” he said.


By Lauran Neergaard It’s flu vaccine time again — and some lucky shot-seekers will find that the needle has nearly disappeared. The first flu shot that works with a lessscary skin prick instead of an inch-long needle is hitting the market this fall. Sorry kids, this option so far is just for adults, and it’s so brand-new that it will take some searching to find a dose. But there are plenty of the other varieties — standard shots, a special highdose shot for seniors and the needle-free squirt-in-the-nose option — to go around. At least 166 million doses of flu vaccine are expected to be produced this year.


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

Buyer beware with ‘anti-aging’ products By David Crary Baby boomers heading into what used to be called retirement age are providing a 70 million-member strong market for legions of companies, entrepreneurs and cosmetic surgeons eager to capitalize on their “forever young” mindset — whether it’s through wrinkle creams, face-lifts or workout regimens. The market research firm Global Industry Analysts projects that a boomer-fueled consumer base, “seeking to keep the dreaded signs of aging at bay,” will push the U.S. market for anti-aging products from about $80 billion now to more than $114 billion by 2015.

No proof for most claims From mainstream organizations such as the National Institute on Aging, the general advice is to be a skeptical consumer on guard for possible scams involving purported anti-aging products. “Our culture places great value on staying young, but aging is normal,” the insti-

tute said. “Despite claims about pills or treatments that lead to endless youth, no treatments have been proven to slow or reverse the aging process.” Its advice for aging well is basic: Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, don’t smoke. “If someone is promising you today that you can slow, stop or reverse aging, they’re likely trying hard to separate you from your money,” said S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s School of Public Health who has written extensively about aging. “It’s always the same message: ‘Aging is your fault and we’ve got the cure,’” Olshansky said. Instead, he said, “invest in yourself, in the simple things we know work. Get a good pair of running or walking shoes and a health club membership, and eat more fruits and vegetables.” But such advice hasn’t curtailed the demand for anti-aging products, including many with hefty price tags that aren’t cov-

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ered by health insurance. These include cosmetic surgery procedures at $10,000 or more, human growth hormone treatment at $15,000 per year, and a skin-care product called Peau Magnifique that costs $1,500 for a 28-day supply. Another challenge for consumers is that many dietary supplements and cosmetics, unlike prescription drugs and over-thecounter medicines, aren’t required to undergo government testing or review before they are marketed. Mary Engle, director of the FTC’s division of advertising practices, said her agency focuses on the cases that could cause serious harm, such as bogus cancer treatments that might prompt an ill person to forgo proper care. “Often it doesn’t rise to the level of fraud,” she said. “There are so many problematic ads out there and we really have to pick and choose what we focus on.” In contrast to the caution of mainstream organizations, there are many vocal promoters of anti-aging products and procedures, including the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. It hosts annual conferences in the U.S. and abroad, and claims 22,000 members, mostly physicians. Here is a look at some of the major sectors in the anti-aging industry:



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mote hormone replacement drugs, including testosterone for men and custom-mixed “bioidentical” hormones for women, as a way to slow the aging process. Many consumers have seen ads featuring muscle-bound Dr. Jeffry Life, now 72. He used testosterone and human growth hormone in his own bodybuilding regimen and recommends hormonal therapy for some of the patients patronizing his age-management practice in Las Vegas. The FDA has approved hormone replacement drugs for some specific purposes related to diseases and deficiencies, but not to combat aging. “Finding a ‘fountain of youth’ is a captivating story,” said the National Institute on Aging. “The truth is that, to date, no research has shown that hormone replacement drugs add years to life or prevent age-related frailty.” Dr. Evan Hadley, director of the institute’s Division of Geriatrics, said hormone replacement drugs can have harmful side effects. He said there is a need for more research, such as an institute study of testosterone therapy, to identify the potential risks and benefits.

Advocacy. The government will announce a new list of five-star rated plans sometime in October. Should Medicare Advantage customers review their coverage even if they don’t plan to make changes? Absolutely. Plans can change what they cover from year to year, and what they charge. Customers may find that prescription drugs that were covered last year aren’t covered in the new year, or they may suddenly face a big bill for a costly treatment like

See ANTI-AGING, page 8

chemotherapy that used to be covered. Any changes will be laid out in the annual notices consumers receive from their insurers. “People really, really need to look carefully and not assume that because something worked last year it will work this year,” Stein said. Local Senior Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) provide one-onone assistance to help you understand the Medicare programs available to you and make a good choice. Their services are free. The Howard County SHIP office can be reached at (410) 313-7392. — AP

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Health Shorts What if you’re in an accident? Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) has added an emergency contact option to Maryland driver’s licenses. Drivers can now add three emergency contacts to their driver’s license via the Internet so police will know whom to call if an accident occurs. The emergency contact information is stored electronically on an individual’s driver’s license and will be available only to authorized law enforcement personnel.

Flu vaccine From page 5 derway to track if that translates into fewer illnesses and hospitalizations. It can cause more of the typical flu-shot side effects. The CDC said it’s OK for seniors to choose either a high-dose shot or the regular shots from a variety of manufacturers. Q: Who’s at highest risk from the flu? A: Young children, anyone 50 or older, anyone with chronic medical conditions such as asthma and certain heart or kidney problems, and pregnant women. A flu vacci-

To add contacts, visit the MVA’s website at Click on “Online Transactions,” click “More” and then click “Emergency Contacts” to add your emergency contacts.

New drugs can melt tumors away The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new Pfizer drug for a subset of lung cancer patients with a particular genetic mutation. The twice-a-day pill, called Xalkori, is part of a new wave of personalized medications that fight disease by targeting specific genes found in certain patients. Xalkori is approved to treat a small subnation during pregnancy has the added benefit of passing some protection to the baby. Q: When should I get vaccinated? A: Anytime, but it takes about two weeks for protection to kick in. Flu typically starts circulating around November, and peaks around January. Some chain pharmacies started vaccinating in August. Don’t put it off too long, said Dr. Scott Gorenstein of Great Neck, N.Y., an emergency physician whose own son Nate, then 4, nearly died of flu during the 2009 pandemic. The boy already had been exposed by the time vaccine finally was available that fall.


set of non-small cell lung cancer patients, less than 7 percent, who have an abnormal gene that stimulates cancer cells and causes tumor growth. It works by blocking proteins produced by the gene. “It’s another example of how we’re using molecular medicine to subtype lung cancer into more specific and treatable diseases,” said Dr. Roy Herbst, a lung cancer expert who is chief of medical oncology at Yale University. Including previously approved targeted therapies, “we have specific therapies now that we can offer for about 18 percent of lung cancer patients that are far superior to chemotherapy and that in many cases can cause their tumors to melt away with few side effects,” Herbst said. The FDA said it also approved a genetic

test to screen for the mutation, known as an abnormal anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene. The test is made by Abbott Laboratories. About 187,000, or 85 percent, of the 220,000 lung cancer cases diagnosed each year are non-small cell lung cancer. Roughly three-fourths of patients aren’t diagnosed until tumors have spread, and only 6 percent of those patients live five years. “It’s pretty exciting,” said Dr. David Carbone, a lung cancer specialist at Vanderbilt University, one of the sites that tested the drug. Only a small share of lung cancer patients have the gene mutation this drug targets, “but for those people it makes a huge difference,” he said. The most common side effects of the drug include vision disorders, nausea, diarrhea and inflammation. — AP

Now, Gorenstein said the whole family gets inoculated in early fall — even though Nate has developed a vaccine allergy and as a precaution checks into the hospital for his dose.

“We got lucky,” said Gorenstein, who now advises a group called Families Fighting Flu. “You just don’t want to be a statistic that is preventable.” — AP


Nov. 1+

FREE BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENING Stop in the Ellicott City Senior Center for a free blood pressure

reading by a registered nurse. The screening is available on Tuesday, Nov. 1 and every Tuesday from 9 a.m. until noon at the center, 9401 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. For further information, call (410) 313-1400.

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

Why is belly fat considered dangerous? By Dr. Virend Somers Dear Mayo Clinic: What is it about belly fat that makes it more dangerous than fat in other places? I’m considered to be at a healthy weight. But I do have somewhat of a belly, which concerns my physician. Isn’t it just a normal part of getting older? Answer: Belly fat is more dangerous than other types of fat because it’s associated with an increased risk of developing a range of serious health problems. Although belly fat can be more of a problem as we get older, it doesn’t have to be part of the aging process. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you shed belly fat and keep you healthier as you age.

A different type of fat Belly fat is not the fat that lies just under the skin (subcutaneous fat). Instead, it’s the

fat that actually lies inside your abdomen and surrounds internal organs, such as your kidney and spleen. This is called visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat and visceral fat are biochemically and functionally different. Visceral fat is more dangerous because it’s more likely to produce substances that can damage your heart and blood vessels, and possibly interfere with your body’s ability to use insulin. A large amount of belly fat can increase your risk for a number of diseases and medical conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea. Even though the belly fat that’s dangerous is located within your abdomen, there is a strong correlation between your waist size and visceral fat. For most men, the health risk factors associated with visceral fat increase with a

waist size greater than 40 inches. For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more typically indicates an unhealthy concentration of belly fat. A formula called the body mass index (BMI) that compares your weight to your height may also be used to help assess body fat. The drawback to that method, though, is that your total weight includes both muscle and fat. BMI measures both, without distinguishing between the two. You could be very muscular and have a high BMI. But the more muscle you have, the lower your overall cardiovascular risk. So a high BMI alone doesn’t automatically mean your health risks are increased. To be meaningful when assessing body fat, BMI should be used along with a comparison of your waist and hip circumference (waist-tohip ratio), as well as your overall waist size.

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Aging can be a culprit Aging may play a role in development of belly fat. Muscle mass gradually diminishes with age, so fat comes to account for a greater percentage of your weight. Having less muscle mass also decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, making it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight or lose excess pounds. But belly fat isn’t inevitable. The same techniques that work for other kinds of fat can help you get rid of excess belly fat. Eat a healthy diet, decrease your portion sizes and exercise every day. Sit-ups and other exercises targeted at your abdomen help tone your abdominal muscles, but they won’t get rid of belly fat. If you have questions or concerns about the specific diet and exercises that are right for you, talk to your doctor. Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. To submit a question, write to, or Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic, c/o TMS, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. For health information, visit © 2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Anti-aging From page 6 cosmetic plastic surgery procedures performed in the U.S. in 2010, a 77 percent increase over a decade. One notable trend is increased preference for less invasive procedures that enable patients to get back to work and social settings without a long leave of absence. The most popular of these is treatment with the wrinkle-smoothing drugs Botox or Dysport. They account for 5.4 million procedures, averaging about $400 per treatment. Other popular noninvasive procedures include soft-tissue facial fillers, chemical peels and microdermabrasion. More invasive procedures come at a higher price. Face-lifts can run from $6,000 to $15,000.

– Peter Drucker – Economist

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The FDA, which oversees cosmetic safety and labeling, doesn’t require manufacturers to prove the effectiveness of cosmetic products before they go on sale, and many ads make claims that critics say are exaggerated or unverifiable. Last year, Consumer Reports tested nine face serums, available at drug stores for prices ranging from $20 to $65 and all claiming to reduce wrinkles. “After six weeks of use, the effectiveness of even the best products was limited and varied from subject to subject,” according to the review. “When we did see wrinkle reductions, they were at best slight, and they fell short of the miracles that manufacturers seemed to imply on product labels.” — AP

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Remember Your Loved Ones Protect ose You Love Most. Have you ever wished you could free your family from the painful burden of arranging a funeral? You can. Preplan it all now and give them peace of mind, knowing everything is prepared. e cost is less than you’d think. Preplanning can help to protect you from inflation by securing today’s prices for goods and services. For your family, preplanning allows them to spend their time supporting one another, sharing memories and celebrating the life that you lived. It lifts the burden of decision-making from their shoulders. Prearranging your funeral or cremation service is a decision only you can make, but it is a decision that affects the people you love. One of the best ways to pre-plan may be to sit down and put your thoughts in writing. e Personal Planning Guide offered by Meadowridge Memorial Park is clear, concise, easy to complete and offered free of charge. is guide is a “fill-in-the-blank” final arrangement planner that takes you, step by step, through the recording of your wishes.

To obtain a free copy of the Personal Planning Guide call 410-796-1144. Gary L. Kaufman Funeral Home at Meadowridge Memorial Park is a licensed funeral establishment in the state of Maryland.

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

Should most people try to avoid gluten? Q: I’ve seen magazine articles en- seems linked with reduced markers of incouraging people to avoid wheat be- flammation. cause the gluten can cause The antioxidant phytoinflammation. Is that true? chemicals in whole grains Isn’t gluten only bad for seem likely to be part of this people with a certain dislink between whole grains and ease? lower risk of heart disease, A: We do not all need to and possibly some types of avoid gluten — a protein in cancer and other inflammawheat, rye and barley. tion-related diseases. People with celiac disease Q: I’ve heard that eating need to avoid gluten because after dinner leads to weight for them any amount of gluten gain. What is the latest I damages their gut. They often NUTRITION should eat at night to avoid experience digestive discom- WISE that? fort from gluten and even small By Karen Collins, A: What matters most for amounts of gluten can increase MS, RD, CDM weight control is how the total their risk of long-term health calories you eat all day comproblems. pare to the total you burn up. The problem Recent research shows that some geneti- with evening and late night eating is how it cally susceptible people who don’t have celi- influences total calorie consumption. ac disease may have an abnormal immune Several studies show that people who eat response to gluten and also experience di- a greater proportion of their calories at gestive problems. This “non-celiac gluten night tend to rack up more total calories for sensitivity” may be related to irritable bowel the day. For many, evening eating involves syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, certain calorie-dense foods — foods high in caloskin conditions, migraines and more. ries in even a modest portion, like chips and However, for people who do not have this sweets. gluten sensitivity, avoiding gluten offers no On top of that, people may eat in a mindbenefit. In fact, greater consumption of less, distracted way, or they eat to relieve whole grains — which in the United States boredom or stress, so they are not tuning often means gluten-containing choices — in to the portion needed to satisfy hunger.





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Other studies, however, show a unique advantage to music: the faster the beat of the music, the faster or more intensely people exercise. For most of us, this is helpful. However, people in cardiac rehab or others advised to hold back their pace for medical reasons may respond to fast music by pushing past their recommended limits, so we need to use this tendency wisely. One other caution: if you are out walking or biking in an area where you need to be aware of traffic and people surrounding you for safety reasons, be careful about letting music or other sounds distract you or make it too difficult to hear sounds you need to hear. 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., N.W., Washington, DC 20009. Collins cannot respond to questions personally.


Oct. 25+




Both of these situations — foods concentrated in calories and excessive portions — pose trouble for weight control at any time of day. Studies have shown that if their total calories balance out, people who eat in the evening do not gain weight. So while there is no ideal time to stop eating at night, if you do eat after dinner, choose foods with fewer calories per bite, like vegetables and fruits, monitor portion size, and pay attention while eating. Q: Is it true that exercising to music helps you get a better workout? A: Music can be a big help and seems to work in several ways. Some studies show that music —– any music — becomes a sort of distraction during exercise that results in people not perceiving themselves to be working as hard as when they’re exercising in quiet. This can lead people to feel comfortable continuing to exercise a little longer or work at a higher intensity than they otherwise would, and thus burn more calories and progress more in their physical training if this becomes their norm. Some also achieve this distraction by listening to audio books or rhythmic nonmusical noise like the sounds of ocean waves.

CONSIDERING JOINT SURGERY? Learn about hip and knee surgery from healthcare professionals,

past patients and Dr. Nicholas Grosso. The free session will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Dr., Suite 100, Columbia. On Thursday, Oct. 27 at the same location, Dr. Ricardo Cook will explain treatments available to ease foot and ankle pain from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For further information on these and other programs, call (410) 740-7601 or visit

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

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Jack-o-lantern pancakes for the grandkids By Dana Jacobi As if Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and email do not offer me enough distraction, now I am also following Amazon’s Cooking Forum. This began last fall, when I got hooked into the “What Else Can I Do W/Canned Pumpkin” thread. This discussion, with posts from serious and creative cooks, kept me tuning in for nearly a year. It also reminded me of a favorite book, Half a Can of Tomato Paste & Other Cooking Dilemmas. Forum ideas for using canned pumpkin were as clever as those from the cookbook authors, Jean Anderson and Ruth Becker — employing all leftover bits that otherwise linger in the fridge until they mold over. The shared recipes and suggestions for using canned pumpkin now number 100plus. They include meatless black bean chili, ravioli, gnocchi, pasta sauce, hummus, soup, smoothies, whoopie pies and nearly every other kind of baked good. Using canned pumpkin as an egg-replacer in baking, like applesauce, seems like another idea worth trying. Pumpkin pancakes, of course are mentioned in the forum, which inspired me to create pancakes for the season. With or without funny faces, they are just right for a fall breakfast when the grandkids visit.

Maple cider syrup adds another treat, and a trick — guests think it is maple syrup until they taste its uniquely autumnal crisp and tangy sweetness.

Pumpkin jack-o-lantern pancakes 1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour (or whole-wheat pastry flour) 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 2 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp. ground ginger 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg 2 large eggs 1 1/3 cups light (1 1/2%) buttermilk 2 Tbsp. apple cider 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for the griddle 1 Tbsp. canola oil 3/4 cup canned pumpkin For garnish: Your choice of raisins, dried cranberries, dried currants, dried blueberries, dried cherries, red apple, mini chocolate chips, etc. In medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, whisking to blend. In another bowl, beat eggs. Add buttermilk, cider, melted butter and oil. Pour liquid ingredients into dry, mixing just to blend

— better to leave some lumps than to over mix. Gently mix in pumpkin, leaving mixture slightly streaky to avoid over mixing. Heat heavy large skillet over mediumhigh heat until drops of water flicked onto surface ball and dance. Using paper towel, carefully rub surface with just enough butter to make it glisten. Pour 3 tablespoons batter into skillet, then lift pan and swirl to make a 3- to 4-inch disk. Repeat, leaving 1 1/2 inches between pancakes. Cook until surface looks dull and pep-

pered with tiny holes, about 2 minutes. Gently push dried fruit or pieces of apple into place to make eyes, nose and mouth. When pancakes are medium-dark on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, carefully turn using wide pancake turner. Cook for 2 minutes. Flip pancakes back to first side to get firmer on the bottom. Transfer to warm platter. Repeat, making about 12 pancakes. See PANCAKES, page 12

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

Pack an emergency supply of your meds Dear Pharmacist: tions that includes dosage, directions, After dealing with the ramifications your local pharmacy and physician and of the earthquake in Virtheir phone numbers. Include ginia, we then faced a hurboth the generic and brand ricane barreling towards names of your medicines. us. While I survived these Pharmacies can print you a ordeals without incident, it comprehensive list, but make made me wonder how I sure it’s current. might be better prepared In an emergency, you want — medicine-wise — for the to be able to grab your mednext crisis. What tips can ications and dietary suppleyou offer? ments and go! I suggest you — T.R. buy a toiletry or make-up bag Dear T.R.: Great question. DEAR today, and store a 10-day supPHARMACIST Depending on where we live, ply of medications in it. Make By Suzy Cohen we might face earthquakes, sure your name is in it, too. tornadoes, power outages, Only take important mediflash floods, fires or hurricanes. cines, like those used for epilepsy, blood presClimate-related disasters give us little or sure, pain, heartbeat rhythm, asthma, mino time to think about our medications, be- graines, diabetes, and so forth. Keep the cause we are focused on protecting our drugs in their original pharmacy container. family, our property and staying safe. The Rescuers and relief team members may need following tips should help with your emer- to dispense your medications to you, so they gency preparedness. must be correctly labeled. Have a written list of all your medicaInclude a flashlight, a spare set of eye-

glasses, and a water bottle so you can take your medicine when needed. A small firstaid kit would be wise to have in there as well. If you take refrigerated medications like insulin, then you have two options. Option one is to buy a small ice pack and keep it frozen, preferably in a sealed baggie. That way, when the power goes out, grab the ice pack from your freezer, drop it in that toiletry or tote bag, and go. Option two is to purchase a ready-made cooling case, available in the diabetes section of your pharmacy or online. This stores insulin, and some might fit antibiotic suspensions, suppositories, growth hormone or epoetin (Procrit, Epogen). Two popular cooling cases are made by Frio and Medicool. These are great for regular travel, too. If you live in a region where fires are common, keep a 10-day supply of medications in a fire safe box. It’s not a bad idea for everyone to do this. I did a quick search on the Internet and found two companies, Sen-

try and First Alert, which sell boxes that are both fire safe and waterproof. Another consideration is to purchase a little plastic waterproof container. Look in the boating section of your sporting goods store. If you are prone to floods, or live in a hurricane zone, water purification tablets aren’t a bad idea. They use chlorine dioxide to destroy microorganisms within 15 minutes, killing Giardia, Cryptosporidium and other pathogens. Hikers and campers often carry these. One popular brand is Katadyn Micropur tablets. These tablets are usually available at places like REI sporting good stores and online. 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


face-side up.

From page 11

Maple Cider Syrup

1/3 cup maple syrup In heavy, medium saucepan, combine cider, cinnamon and cloves. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon and cloves; add maple syrup. Pour warm syrup into serving pitcher to

pass with pancakes, waffles, French toast or bread pudding. Cooled, it is also good over oatmeal or Greek yogurt. Per serving (2 pancakes and syrup): 273 calories, 7 g. fat (2 g. sat fat), 48 g. carbohydrates, 7 g. protein, 3 g. fiber, 211 mg. sodium.

Makes 6 servings. Note: If using chocolate chips, set them in place after turning the pancakes back

2 cups fresh apple cider 4-inch cinnamon stick 2 whole cloves


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To intervene or not to intervene with family Dear Solutions: come withdrawn, seems depressed granddaughter. You must contact your you, but it seems she already is. And if she I just called my son, Jay, who lives and has been acting out in school. local office of Child Protective Services changes her behavior, you may hopefully with his girlfriend, and she When I talk to my immediately. When you tell your daughter reconcile with her in the future. Please let answered. She said he was daughter about this, she about this, she may make all sorts of me know how this turns out. not there but she was glad tells me she’s a grown promises, but do not let that stop you. © Helen Oxenberg, 2011. Questions to be I called because she’s very woman, and she can do Child services will make an initial as- considered for this column may be sent to aggravated that Jay keeps what she pleases. I’ve been sessment of the situation and probably will The Beacon, P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, criticizing her and arguing. seeing that my grand- set up continuing visits to check on the MD 20915. You may also email the author She wants him to move daughter is fed daily, but child’s well-being. at To inquire about out, but he says he can’t now my daughter won’t let Your daughter may be alienated from reprint rights, call (609) 655-3684. afford it. She wants me to her visit me and tells me to BEACON BITS talk to him, that maybe mind my own business. he’ll listen to me. I told I’m worried about my COPING WITH LOSS her I would think about it. SOLUTIONS granddaughter and also Social worker Janet B. Kurland, will speak on “Resiliency After He hasn’t said anything By Helen Oxenberg, about the bad moral examLoss: Essential Components of Successful Coping” in a lecture to me about this, and if he MSW, ACSW ple my daughter is setting for members of the community and professionals sponsored by Sol Levinson & knew she was telling me for her daughter. Please Bros., Inc, and Jewish Community Services. The program will be presented on this he would be angry. How should I advise. Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, 10431 Twin handle this without causing more — Grandma Rivers Rd., Columbia. For more information, call (410) 466-9200. damage? Dear Grandma: — His Mom Your first concern must be for your Dear His Mom: Have you considered becoming a politician’s aid since you’re thinking of majoring in damage control. STOP! It doesn’t work. It’s his life. It’s her life. It’s their problem. As soon as she starts to complain to you, tell her clearly that you’re sorry they’re having trouble, but you cannot be involved in their problems. Suggest that they seek counseling if necessary. If you can afford it, offer to help pay. After that, be polite but stay out of it. Remember back to the little boy he was. If you kept tying his shoelaces, he would never have learned to tie them himself. Well, even though there’s now Velcro, he still has to tie his own shoelaces, Mom. Dear Solutions: I am concerned about my granddaughter, whose mother (my daughter) has basically abandoned her. My daughter met a man last Christmas and was in bed with him in her house by January 1. My 11-year-old granddaughter was very upset by this, Regency Crest is an extraordinarily carefree community because of the and now this man has moved in. He demands all my daughter’s atconvenient lifestyle enjoyed by those who live here. We go the extra mile to tention, and the child is left alone in provide our residents with distinctive amenities and service that cannot be her room, is not fed properly, has be-

Oct. 26



Nov. 14+


A support group for men and women of all ages who have recently lost a spouse or life partner will encourage participants to give and receive support and understanding while exploring the meaning and process of grief. The group will meet for six weeks beginning Monday, Nov. 14 through Dec. 19 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Gilchrist Hospice Care’s Howard County Office, 5537 Twin Knolls Rd., Suite 433, Columbia. Sessions are free, but preregistration is required. For additional information and reservations, call (443) 539-4086 or email

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N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1 — 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 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1


Turn autumn leaves into spring compost By Ruth Kling Soon it will be all about the leaves. Where to pile the leaves, how to gather them up and what to do with them. I personally like to simply pile them up and go over them with a lawn mower to shred them for storage as compost. They can be placed directly on top of beds to act as winter mulch, but they will clump, and shredding gets rid of most of the clumping problems. You can gather them with a leaf blower, and that is how my neighbor helps me gather mine. But I wish I had a manual leaf collector, sometimes called a leaf sweeper. It is quieter and doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t use energy, except your own. And, of course, you can rake them into piles as well. In many neighborhoods, the local government will collect leaves for composting. This is a great way to get rid of leaves that you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t use yourself for compost or mulch. But there are caveats to composting your leaves. First, make sure there are not too many twigs and braches or larger objects among the leaves. Second, if you have any diseased plant

debris, do not add this to the collection pile or add to your own compost. The diseases that injured or killed the plant may survive the compost process and invade your garden again. If you use chemicals on your lawn or garden, do not add grass or plant clippings from plants treated with chemicals. These chemicals can be harmful to the beneficial bacteria and fungus in the compost. Dispose of diseased and chemically treated yard waste through the trash.

Fall gardening Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let the fall leaf clean up take your attention away from your garden. This is the time when the mums are blooming and the spring bulbs can be planted. Eventually, the mums and pansies will need to be dead headed and cut back when frost arrives, but donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t dig them up. I have some glorious mums blooming now that I planted last year. They have doubled in size and just need to be cut back once in the summer to produce fall blooms. The same goes for the pansies.

There are three that I planted in a flower box last spring that just wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t quit! Cleanup is important, particularly around roses. Take away any spent blooms and leaves; they can harbor disease. You will not have much else to do for the roses until late winter or early spring. Just make sure that the long stems of climbing roses are secure so that they do not blow around in the wind. Hurricane Irene completely untangled my carefully woven rose canes attached to an arbor. Now it looks like a fright wig with very little hair. This is a good time to start working on a winter cold frame or row covers to lengthen the growing season for vegetables, particularly greens. Planning now will keep you from panicking if an early frost hits your lettuce.

Time for transplanting While we are on the subject of planning, this is a good time to think about any peren-

nials you wish to transplant. Hot weather is the worst time to transplant anything. Move them in the cool weather, and water the transplants well throughout the fall (particularly if it is dry). Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feed them until next spring, but do trim off any dead looking parts when transplanting. Start a garden journal or keep writing in one youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve kept over the summer. Things will cross your mind that you may have forgotten to write down earlier. You never know what new ideas may spring to mind. Write it all down. You will thank me because by next spring you will have forgotten exactly which seed catalog those squash came from or where you bought those iris bulbs. Of course, if you misplace the notebook with all of your notes, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s another story. Ruth Kling blogs about gardening at If you have gardening questions, write to Ruth at


Nov. 1+


Learn how to identify your anger triggers and the techniques to help you manage them in three Tuesday evening sessions from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 1, 8 and 15 at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center Medical Pavilion, 10710 Charter Dr., Suite 100, Columbia. A $45 fee covers all three sessions. For further details or to register, call (410) 7407601 or visit

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Nov. is National Family Caregivers Month

Celebrate National Family Caregivers Month in November by joining the National Family Caregiver Association ( Membership is free to all family caregivers. Everyone who joins this month will receive a free Family Caregiver Toolkit and Planner, which includes the NFCA Resource Library for Family Caregivers. Featuring a convenient calendar/planner, the Resource Library provides family caregivers with practical tips and solutions on numerous caregiving topics â&#x20AC;&#x201D; all of which impact family caregivers every day:

â&#x20AC;˘ A home healthcare primer â&#x20AC;˘ Care management techniques â&#x20AC;˘ Improving caregiver/doctor relations â&#x20AC;˘ Medication management â&#x20AC;˘ Choosing a nursing home â&#x20AC;˘ The stress of family caregiving â&#x20AC;˘ Action checklists for family caregivers â&#x20AC;˘ Accessing Resources: Telephone Tips and Techniques For information regarding resources and education for family caregivers in Howard County, please call Maryland Access Point (MAP) at 410-313-5980 or visit

Medicare Prescription Plans Change; Do You Need to Change Yours? By Bill Salganik, Counselor, Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) Every year, Medicare prescription plans can change their premiums, their co-pays and their lists of covered drugs. Some insurance companies drop out of Medicare entirely, while other new ones offer policies. This means that the plan that was best for you in 2011 isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessarily going to be best for you in 2012. The Office on Agingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offers free one-

on-one counseling by appointment so you can review your options. Leaving well enough alone can be costly. As an example, SHIP saved $50 a month for one client who was in a plan that was no longer right for her. Your chance to switch is now, during the annual enrollment period, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t delay; call us today at 410313-7392. For an overview of some of the changes insurance companies have made for 2012 which affect Maryland residents, visit

Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Note: The search is on for a new Office on Aging administrator. Watch for the return of A Message from the Administrator, coming soon! The Senior Connection is published monthly by the Howard County Office on Aging, Department of Citizen Services. We welcome your comments and suggestions. To contact us, or to join our email subscriber list, email with â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;subscribeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in the subject box. The Senior Connection from Howard County Office on Aging 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046 410-313-6410 | Dale Jackson, Acting Administrator Advertising contained in the Beacon is not endorsed by the Howard County Office on Aging or by the publisher. If you need assistance, SHIP counselors are available during regular office hours at the Bain Center, the Ellicott City Senior Center and the Glenwood 50+ Center. Special enrollment events, including some on evenings and Saturdays, will be held at senior centers throughout the enrollment period. Visit for details, or call 410-313-7392 to schedule an appointment.

Join us for â&#x20AC;&#x153;Giving Thanksâ&#x20AC;? Tuesday, November 15

Doors open at 10:30 a.m.

Ten Oaks Ballroom 5000 Signal Bell Lane

Clarksville, Maryland

For more information: 410-313-5440

Tickets: $12.00 each, on sale at Senior Centers Bring canned goods for the Maryland Food Bank

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Coming Events The Senior Connection

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Quilling, East Columbia 50+ Center Quilling is considered to be a great stress reliever. Join us to learn this historical craft and make snowflakes for the holidays! Cost: $15; call 410-313-7680 to register.

Thursday, Nov. 3, 5 to 7 p.m. — Fiesta Latina, North Laurel 50+ Center Enjoy an evening with Latin flair including food tastings, music by “The Mambo Combo Trio,” resource information, HIV and health screenings. Free; presented in partnership with St. John Baptist Church through the Horizon Foundation. All ages welcome; for information, call 410-313-0380. Wednesday, Nov. 9, 11 a.m. to noon — Rosie the Riveter, North Laurel 50+ Center Learn about the cultural icon, Rosie the Riveter and her daughter, Rosebud, and their experiences in the factories during WWII, through words and music. Free; for more information, call 410-313-0380.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Medicare Review/Enrollment Event, Longwood Senior Center A Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor will review your current Medicare prescription drug plan, help you select the best plan for 2012, and answer your Medicare questions. Bring your Medicare and current plan card and a list of your prescription medications. Call 410-313-7217 to schedule an appointment.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 1 to 3 p.m. — Last Chance to Relax Tea, East Columbia 50+ Center Join us for tea while enjoying the fall view from our windows and the chance to sit back and relax before the holiday frenzy starts. Cost: $5; call 410313-7680 for reservations (required).

Howard County Senior Centers

THE BAIN CENTER 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia / 410-313-7213 EAST COLUMBIA 50+ CENTER 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia / 410-313-7680 ELKRIDGE SENIOR CENTER 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge / 410-313-5192 ELLICOTT CITY SENIOR CENTER 9401 Frederick Road, Ellicott City / 410-313-1400 GLENWOOD 50+ CENTER 2400 Route 97, Cooksville / 410-313-5440 LONGWOOD SENIOR CENTER 6150 Foreland Garth, Columbia / 410-313-7217 NORTH LAUREL 50+ CENTER 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, Laurel / 410-313-0380 ELLICOTT CITY SENIOR CENTER PLUS 9401 Frederick Road, Ellicott City / 410-313-1425 GLENWOOD SENIOR CENTER PLUS 2400 Route 97, Cooksville / 410-313-5442 NORTH LAUREL SENIOR CENTER PLUS 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, Laurel / 410-313-7218

Tuesday, Nov. 15, Doors open at 10:30 a.m. — Giving Thanks Celebration, Ten Oaks Ballroom, 5000 Signal Bell Lane, Clarksville Don’t miss the annual Thanksgiving luncheon and show, featuring entertainment by “Russ, Margo & the Guyz.” Bring canned goods to donate to the Maryland Food Bank. Tickets are $12, on sale now at senior centers. For more information, call 410313-5440.

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 9 a.m. to noon — Alzheimer’s National Screening Day, The Bain Center Qualified healthcare professionals will conduct free, non-invasive memory screenings, which consist of a series of questions and tasks and takes just a few minutes to administer. The results are confidential and do not represent a diagnosis. Call 410-313-7213 to schedule your free screening.

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Keeping Your Mind Sharp for the Holidays, Elkridge Senior Center Dr. Dan Storch will provide practical advice about staying mentally sharp during the busy holiday season. Afterwards, enjoy a delicious “pot luck” lunch as an early Thanksgiving celebration; bring a dish to share! Admission is free; call 410-313-5192 to register. Thursday, Nov. 17, 11 a.m. to noon — Tap Recital, Ellicott City Senior Center Tap instructor Jackie Dunphy and her graduates invite you to their tap dance recital. Join us for an hour of song and dance. Free; call 410-313-1400 for more information.

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. — Fire Beading with Danee, Ellicott City Senior Center Use brilliantly colored Fire Beads to create your own beautiful jewelry (samples are on display at the center). Class fee: $12 plus supplies ($5 to $10, depending on project). Call 410-313-1400 or stop by the front desk to register. Friday, Nov. 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — ARL Computer Class Trip, Longwood Senior Center Students at the PC Systems Academy will offer one-on-one assistance to help you set up, use and maintain your personal computer. Learn about the Internet, social networking, uploading photos and more. All levels are welcome. Classes are held at the Application & Research Lab, 10920 Route 108, Ellicott City; transportation from Longwood is available. Free; for more information or to register, call 410-313-7217. Tuesday, Nov. 22, 9:30 a.m. — Thanksgiving Hot Cakes Breakfast, The Bain Center Join us for a breakfast celebration with live entertainment as we give thanks for all that the Office on Aging has to offer the senior community. Free, but donations are welcome. Call 410-313-7213 to register by Nov. 16.

Thursday, Dec. 8, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., SPRING Luncheon, Turf Valley Resort & Conference Center, 2700 Turf Valley Road, Ellicott City Celebrate the season with SPRING, and enjoy a great lunch plus holiday entertainment! Cost is $22.50 per person; reservation deadline is Nov. 28. HT Ride is available. Call Elaine Widom, 410313-7283, for more information or to register.

Do Foods Affect Our Skin? By Rona Martiyan, MS, RD, LDN, Office on Aging Nutritionist As you age, your skin changes. And while an endless array of supplements and creams on the market may improve the look and feel of your skin, the healthy nutrients found in many foods actually can help you age gracefully. You already know that an unhealthy diet of fried foods, sugary drinks, high fat foods, and salty snacks may lead to or worsen chronic health conditions. In general, these “junk” foods provide few if any of the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain healthy organs. What you may not realize is that your skin is an organ too, and over time the effects of a poor diet will show. The good news is, changing your diet for the better can make you look and feel better, too. The USDA’s new “Choose My Plate”

( recommends that you fill ½ your plate with fruits and vegetables to provide the vast majority of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Fall and winter fruits and vegetables like squash and pumpkin are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, riboflavin and iron, folate, carotenoids, phosphorus and zinc. Apples come in many varieties, and contain flavonoids to enhance the absorption of various nutrients; apple skins are a good source of soluble fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol. And don’t forget that fluids help keep your skin healthy too; drink at least 6- 8 glasses per day to keep your body and skin hydrated. Rona Martiyan will be at The Bain Center on Nov. 3; call 410-313-7213 to schedule a free nutritional consultation.



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

Money Law &

Social Security trustee Charles Blahous will discuss the future of the program at the Beacon’s 50+Expo on Nov. 6. See story on page 21.

Avoid scams by checking on businesses By Kimberly Lankford Q. It seems that every day I hear about someone being ripped off. Are there some good resources to help protect myself against scam artists? A. Although scam artists have been especially busy taking advantage of the economic downturn, there are resources to help you check out a company or an adviser before you become a victim — and help you file a complaint if you have a problem. Start with your state, county or city government’s consumer protection office. Look up their phone number or visit for links or call 1800-FED-INFO (333-4636). The websites of these agencies often have databases that allow you to look up complaints against all kinds of businesses. You can also file a complaint to warn others of your problems. The consumer protection agencies sur-

veyed by the Consumer Federation of America received more than 252,000 complaints last year and obtained more than $208 million in restitution and savings for consumers. These agencies can also let you know about other agencies that license or regulate specific types of business in your area, such as a state contractor’s licensing board.

Look at BBB rating The Better Business Bureau (www., 703-276-0100) is another good place to look up companies. The BBB assigns letter grades, from A+ to F, based on a business’s complaint history, whether the company has responded and worked to resolve complaints, and whether the business holds the appropriate licenses, among other criteria. You can also file complaints with the BBB, which will often work with the com-

pany to help resolve your problem. Check out investments and advisers with your state securities regulator. The Fraud Center of the North American Securities Administrators Association (, 202-737-0900) also has many great resources to help you avoid becoming a victim. You can look up a broker’s or a brokerage firm’s licensing, background information and disciplinary history through Finra’s BrokerCheck website,, or call 1-800-289-9999. Research investment advisers through the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Search website,, or call (240) 3864848.

Review disciplinary actions Contact your state insurance department to see whether there have been any

disciplinary actions against an insurance agent or company, or to file a complaint. You can find contact information for the state regulators at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website, or call (202) 471-3990. You can also check out an insurer’s complaint record at the NAIC’s Consumer Information Source (, which is a great resource to learn about the type of complaints an insurer has received and how it stacks up against other companies. For identity-theft resources and information, or to report ID theft, see the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft website, Kimberly Lankford is a contributing editor to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to © Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Income for life with longevity insurance By Dave Carpenter Odds are growing that you’ll live past 85. But will your money last that long? And what if you make it to 95 or 100? With life spans lengthening, those nearing retirement may want to consider financial protection to guard against the possibility of outliving their money. It’s now increasingly available in the form of longevity insurance, which usually involves giving a sum of money to an insurer in your 60s in exchange for monthly payments that start at 80 or 85 and continue for the rest of your life. The little-known financial product is gaining new attention at a time when few have pensions and Congress is discussing changes to Social Security that could reduce future benefits. New York Life Insurance Co. began offering a policy in July, joining a handful of others including MetLife, Symetra Financial and The Hartford. But it’s not just about insurance companies looking to make money off aging baby boomers. Retirement experts and some financial advisers say it can make a lot of sense for those who have enough savings to be able to spare a small portion in exchange for future monthly income

that they can’t outlive. “This is something that people ought to be thinking about as they approach retirement,” said Anthony Webb, research economist for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

A type of annuity Longevity insurance is the relatively new term for an annuity designed to cover the latter years of retirement. An annuity is an investment product in which you typically pay an insurance company a lump sum and get back a stream of payments for life. Certain annuities have sullied the category name for being complex and loaded with fees — mostly variable annuities, where the value can sink with stock market declines. But more financial advisers are touting annuities as a way to receive the guaranteed lifetime income that pensions once provided. With the longevity annuity, income is fixed and starts at a specified future age, frequently 85. Under MetLife’s “maximum income” version, for example, a woman who buys longevity insurance with a $100,000 lump sum at age 65 could receive annual income

of $59,010 starting at 85. That wouldn’t be enough to cover a year of nursing home care, but as supplementary income it would go a long way toward covering living expenses. Payouts are higher for men because of shorter average life spans. A 65-year-old man purchasing $100,000 of insurance would get $73,580 annually from MetLife starting at 85. One drawback: If you die before payments start, the money you gave the insurance company is gone. The insurers do offer alternate versions that guarantee death benefits to heirs, allow clients to start collecting income whenever they need it, even let them out of the contract. But those conditions can double your cost. Buying this protection serves dual purposes. It ensures a predictable stream of income for your later years, removing worries about having to depend on family members for financial assistance. And defining the exact time period that your other savings have to cover — say, from age 65 to 85 — allows retirees to spend more confidently and invest more aggressively without fear of running out later.

“If you have one of these [policies] that kicks in at 85, it becomes a much simpler problem of how to spend down one’s wealth,” said Webb. The big downside, of course, is giving a pile of money to an insurer and hoping you and the company both are around in 20 years or whenever the benefits start flowing. Your best bet is to find a company with the best ratings by A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

Who should buy? Demand for this type of insurance is low so far. But rising life expectancy should help it grow. After all, for a reasonably healthy 65-year-old couple, chances are 63 percent that one of them will live until 90, 36 percent that one will make it to 95, and 14 percent that one will reach 100, according to the Society of Actuaries. The key is to remember it’s an insurance policy and not an investment. Jason Scott, managing director of the Financial Engines Retiree Research Center, calls longevity insurance an efficient way of handling the risk of living a long time. “It’s really expensive for an individual to See INCOME FOR LIFE, page 20

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Cut cable connection to watch TV for less By Lisa Gerstner Thanks to new offerings via the Internet, viewers are increasingly catching their favorite shows free or for a fraction of what their cable company charges. And going online to view TV shows doesn’t mean you’re stuck watching programs on your computer or tablet screen. The Apple TV box ($99), for example, streams iTunes, Netflix, YouTube and some sports programming to your TV. Or you may be able to use a video-game console or a device designed to stream TV shows and movies from the Web to television, such as a Roku box ($60 to $100) or Boxee ($200). Plus, some Blu-ray players and HDTVs have built-in connections for receiving shows online. Using either a cable or a wireless device, you can connect your PC to your TV and view anything that’s streaming to your laptop on your big screen. An HDMI cable, for HDTVs, offers the best-quality picture, and you can find one for $15 or less. For about $100 to $200, you can buy a wireless device, such as the Warpia StreamHD, to do the same job.

Watch TV online Check to see whether you can watch your favorite shows free. Hulu has partnerships with many network and cable channels. A lot of prime-time shows appear on Hulu the morning after they air, although you won’t find popular shows from premium cable channels. With Hulu’s free service, you can typically watch only the five most recent episodes in the current season. The subscription service, Hulu Plus ($7.99 per month), provides access to full seasons and the ability to stream programs to your TV. Also explore the websites of networks and cable channels to see what’s available.

Many have partnerships with Hulu to aggregate content. Fans of Fox TV shows, take note: If you don’t pay for participating cable or satellite services, you now must wait eight days after episodes air before you can watch them free with Hulu’s regular service or at Hulu Plus subscribers can watch them the next day. Some services offer TV shows to rent or buy. With iTunes, you can rent single episodes for 99 cents, and Amazon Instant Video sells discounted episodes if you sign up for a TV pass. Full seasons of shows are also available for purchase. These services may be most useful if you’ve missed most of a current season and want to catch up, if you’d like to buy previous seasons of shows, or if you prefer to own episodes so that you can watch them repeatedly. Otherwise, find out whether you can view new episodes free on Hulu or on the network’s website.

Stream new movies Some Internet services allow you to stream the newest movies to your living room. Vudu, for example, has a wide selection of high-definition movies available to stream the day they are released on Bluray. (You can also watch Vudu movies at Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, iTunes and Zune also stream new movies that you can watch on your computer or TV. Most of the services also offer a selection of movies (and TV shows) in HD, usually for an additional price. You may not be able to watch HD programming on all your screens. Amazon Instant Video, for example, currently streams HD movies to your TV through compatible devices, but not to your computer. Many online services limit the amount of time you have to watch a rental to one to

See useful links and resources at Candlelight Concerts® Saturday November 19, 2011 8:00 PM Smith Theatre, Howard Community College Columbia, MD

Jason Vieaux, guitarist, and the Escher Quartet Haydn: String Quartet Op. 64, No. 5 “The Lark” J. S. Bach: excerpts from Suite in g, BWV 995, transcription for solo guitar Vivaldi: Concerto in D, RV 93 for guitar, violin, viola and cello Albéniz: excerpts for guitar from “Iberia”: “Sevilla” and “Torre Bermeja” Piazzolla: “Bordel 1900” and “Cafe 1930” from L’Histoire du Tango guitar-violin duet Boccherini: Quintet for Guitar and Strings in D, G. 448 “Fandango”

410.997.2324 Funded in part, by grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, the Howard County Arts Council through a grant from Howard County, The Columbia Foundation, and The Rouse Company Foundation.

two days after you begin to play it. But Netflix — which has split off its DVD rental service to a new company called Qwikster — still lets you keep discs as long as you wish, and its streaming content is available to view anytime. Netflix/Qwikster is getting heat from

customers for requiring them to pay separately (and more) for disc-rental and streaming subscriptions. But if you watch several movies in a month, a subscription service could still save you money. See CABLE COSTS, page 20




Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselors will be available at senior centers around the county to review individual Part D prescription drug plans and assist with insurance plan questions as part of Medicare open season. Appointments are preferred. Among the times and locations available are: Saturday, Oct. 29 and Thursday, Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia; Friday, Oct. 28 and Friday, Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ellicott City Senior Center, 9401 Frederick Road, Ellicott City; and Tuesday, Nov. 8 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Glenwood 50+ Center, 2400 Route 97, Cooksville. For questions or to schedule an appointment, call (410) 313-7392.

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Income for life From page 18 plan for a life that might last to 100,” he said. Dallas Salisbury, 62, had no qualms

about buying longevity insurance three years ago that won’t pay him a cent until his 85th birthday in 2034. His health and family history both suggest that Salisbury, who is president of the Employee Benefit Research Institute in


Oct. 27

CONSUMER RIGHTS AWARDS CEREMONY The 11th annual Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition meeting and

awards dinner will recognize four Marylanders who are longtime leaders in the consumer rights area: Rep. Elijah J. Cummings, 7th District Congressman; Del. Sandy Rosenberg, 41st District; Hank Greenberg, State Director of AARP Maryland; and Terry Berg, community activist. Tickets are $50, with some reduced-rate tickets available for those in financial need. The meeting and awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Meeting House at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, 5885 Robert Oliver Pl., Columbia. For further information, contact Franz Schneiderman at

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

Washington, D.C., has an excellent chance of cashing in. Both parents lived past 93, and an aunt reached 104. He said he’ll recoup his original cost, not counting inflation, after a year of payments. And if he makes it to 90, he’ll have reaped a 10 percent annual return on his money. But even more important in his decision, he said, was the chance to lock in long-term financial certainty at a modest cost. He and his wife bought longevity policies with different insurers, spending 10 percent of their investment portfolio at the time. That means they can decide what to do with 90 percent of their assets between now and age 85 without worrying about holding back money for an indefinite number of years beyond life expectancy. “Paying 10 percent for that type of certainty to me is worth it,” he said. “If you want to protect yourself against living a long time and running out of money, the only way of doing it is where someone else

takes on that longevity risk.” Longevity insurance doesn’t make sense for the very rich, who can finance their own old age, or the poor, who have no wealth to spare. But it should interest those of somewhat above-average income — roughly the 60th through 95th percentiles of the population, according to Webb, who also suggests buying some form of inflation protection with the policy. Those from families with a history of longevity, like Salisbury, are particularly good candidates for it. Even those who find it a good fit for their finances, however, aren’t advised to spend any more than 15 to 20 percent of their assets. And while the price is lower if you buy it younger, most experts don’t recommend getting coverage until you’re in your 60s. “Wait till you’re ready to retire and assess your resources,” said Scott. “Then if you’re worried about running out of money and living a long time, it’s worth considering.” — AP

Cable costs From page 19 If you’re primarily interested in newer, popular movies, stick with disc rental. If you’d rather browse for less-current movies, documentaries and TV shows, Netflix’s streaming service has a broad selection. You can search elsewhere for lesserknown or older movies at a discount. Look for 99-cent movie specials from CinemaNow and iTunes. Vudu offers a different 99-cent special every day, and you can choose from thousands of movies to rent for $2 for two nights. Amazon Instant Video has special deals on movies and TV shows, and it compiles movies into price categories. Recently, for example, the first six movies in the Harry Potter series were available to rent for $2.99 each. Hulu has a collection of free movies and documentaries but no new releases.

High-speed Internet needed One caveat: You’ll need a fast Internet connection. (To test the speed of your current connection, use the tool at Some services list minimum requirements to stream video. Vudu, for example, suggests a connection speed of at least 1 megabit per second for standard-definition movies (480p), 2.25 Mbps for HD (720p) and 4.5 Mbps for HDX movies (1080p). Netflix automatically chooses the level of video quality you’ll stream based on your connection speed. Willing to get up from the couch? Aside from visiting a standard movie-rental store, you can go to Redbox or Blockbuster Express kiosks to rent new movies on DVD or Blu-ray for $3 or less per night. And renting films from the local library is free. © Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

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Leading expert speaks on Social Security Dr. Charles P. Blahous, one of the two public trustees of Social Security and Medicare, will be the featured speaker at the Beacon’s upcoming 50+Expos. The events will take place on Sunday, October 30 at Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, Va., and on Sunday, November 6 at White Flint Mall in N. Bethesda, Md. Dr. Blahous is one of the nation’s leading experts on Social Security, and author of the recent book, Social Security: The Unfinished Work. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2010 to serve as a public trustee after being nominated to that position by President Obama. Together with the U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health & Human Services, and two Commissioners of Social Security, the public trustees are responsible for preparing the annual reports on the current and projected financial status of Social Security and Medicare.

Myths and facts At the Expos, Blahous will explain Social Security’s financial condition, as well as what this means for beneficiaries, taxpaying workers and policy makers. He will also describe the trustees’ financial projection

process and relate some of his personal experiences as a newly-confirmed trustee. Blahous has written extensively about various myths that undercut popular understanding of Social Security, and will speak about some of these at the Expos. He will also address the controversial topic of the relationship of Social Security’s own finances with Congress’s broader ongoing budget and deficit-reduction debate. Blahous’s remarks will place the current Social Security debate in its historical context, discussing how the currently projected shortfall compares with the program’s condition during previous Congressional rescues, most notably the landmark 1983 reforms. He will also discuss the consequences for program participants of further delay in repairing the current shortfall, as well as the various demographic and legislative changes that have led to the shortfall. For much of Social Security’s early history, the program grew more affordable over time with national economic growth. That changed with a number of legislated amendments to Social Security in the 1960s and 1970s, in combination with demographic changes, such as increasing life spans and a decline in fertility rates after the baby boom. These factors combined to place rising pressure on Social Security finances, a situation that was temporarily delayed but not fully repaired by the 1983 reforms. Blahous will explain the various factors that destabilize program finances by causing its costs to grow faster than its underlying revenue base.

Whom would changes affect?

Dr. Charles P. Blahous, a Social Security and Medicare trustee, will speak at this year’s 50+Expos.

If legislative corrections were enacted today, Blahous believes repairs to Social Security finances could be relatively manageable. They would indeed require substantial changes to the formulas that determine

benefit levels for future retirees, but need not affect anyone in or near retirement, nor necessarily even worker payroll tax burdens, he said. After a few more years, however, this will no longer be the case. As a trustee, Blahous is often called upon to explain the consequences of various reform proposals under discussion, including possible changes to eligibility ages, the benefit formula, the tax base, and the consumer price index, among others. He will offer insights into these various

ideas, plus a few of his own. Both 50+Expos are free to the public, and open at noon with free health screenings, informative exhibits, live entertainment, flu shots (free with a Medicare card) and more. Seating for Blahous’ presentation, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. and be followed by a question-and-answer session, will be first-come, first served. For more details about the 50+Expos, see page 3 of this issue or call the Beacon at (410) 248-9101.

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Take a trip to West Virginia’s nearby eastern panhandle. See story on page 25.

Good time to visit post-revolution Tunisia Roman ruins


But while resort getaways offer beachside relaxation, they can be isolating and don’t provide much of a taste of the country’s unique local color. For a stiff dose of it, try the capital, Tunis, a sprawling metropolis peppered with vestiges of its ancient past. The Tunis suburb of Carthage was founded by Phoenicians in the 8th century B.C. and was hometown of Hannibal, the general who crossed the Alps with elephants to launch his celebrated attack on Rome in 218 B.C.E. Sacked by Romans — who famously sowed the soil with salt — Carthage would become Rome’s first colony in Africa. You can still visit the vestiges of the city’s Roman past, including the remains of villas, the ruins of a 1st century C.E. amphitheater, and the Antonine Baths, a seaside thermal bath complex. Carthage is also home to another, more recent, historical site, Ben Ali’s sprawling presidential palace. Police guard the compound, which has been empty since the former president and his family fled into exile on Jan. 14. If Carthage doesn’t sate your appetite for Rome, a trip to Tunis’ stunning Bardo National Museum is in order. Housed in the former royal palace, the museum boasts one of the world’s premier collections of Roman mosaics, with room after room filled with mammoth, often impeccably preserved, tiny tile masterpieces. Tunis also has among the biggest and best conserved medinas (old city or historic center) in the country — indeed, in much of the Arab world. A warren of narrow streets with whitewashed buildings studded with wooden doors painted a rainbow of eye-popping hues, Tunis’ medina dates back to the 8th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Zitouna Mosque is both its geographic and spiritual heart. Built in the 9th century, it was remodeled and added on to by successive dynasties, each determined to An ornamental arch frames the tower of a outdo the last. Non-Muslims can mosque in Tunis. visit the complex, with its breathtak-


By Jenny Barchfield Long known for its sea, sand and sun, Tunisia has a new claim to fame — as the birthplace of the Arab Spring. Popular demonstrations toppled the tiny North African nation’s longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January, inspiring the wave of pro-democracy protests that has swept the Arab world, from Morocco to Bahrain. While the uprising that ended Ben Ali’s 23-year-long autocratic rule went relatively smoothly in Tunisia — especially compared with the bloody and protracted conflicts that have since erupted in Syria, Yemen and neighboring Libya — the hordes of European tourists that long thronged to the country have largely evaporated. Tunisia’s border with warring Libya remains dangerous, and poor inland towns still see sporadic protests. But Tunis and the resort towns have regained their prerevolt calm, and the country is on a path toward democracy. Still, the country’s Mediterranean beaches and millennial ruins are largely deserted, and bargains abound. Travel operators who offer all-inclusive package deals at seaside resort hotels have slashed their already reasonable rates in a bid to lure visitors.

Bargain prices are starting to lure tourists back to Tunisia, less than a year after its revolution. Here, women sell colorful bolts of cloth in the marketplace of Tunis, located in the capital city’s historic old city or medina.

ing arched courtyard, mornings every day but Friday. Tourbet el Bey is also worth a visit. Buried deep in the medina, it’s an 18th century mausoleum where Tunisia’s monarchs, or Beys, as well as their children, wives and concubines were buried in elaborate marble sarcophagi.

A shopping bonanza Vendors in the medina who shuttered their shops during the revolution are again open for business. Here are some of the best shops in the sprawling, 667-acre medina, where you can procure everything from cheap Chinese-made flip-flops to hand-cast gold jewels, as exquisite as their price tags are exorbitant: • Ed-Dar: Equal parts shopping extravaganza and cultural outing, a visit to this chock-a-block store is a must. Every surface in the 15th century Arab houseturned-emporium is hung with antique rugs, stacked with hand-glazed ceramics, and shines with intricate silver jewelry. Three brothers, Ali, Youssef and Taoufik Chammakhi, founded the store in their childhood home in 1980 after their collection of handicrafts culled from the breadth and width of the country burgeoned out of control. Most of the pieces

here are one-of-a-kind heirlooms that were bought directly from families that had kept them — sometimes for centuries. Prices range from a few dozen dinars for a tile hand-painted by Ali Chammakhi himself, to tens of thousands of dollars for a collection of gem-covered military decorations with pieces dating back to the 1750s. Don’t miss the rooftop terrace, a lush oasis of potted plants with a knockout view over the medina. • Youssef Gassem: Just downstairs from Ed-Dar, affable rug-seller Youssef Gassem hawks his wares in a tiny shop piled high with Berber and Persian carpets, kilims and rugged tent rugs made from camel hair. There’s something for every budget, from small synthetic models that run for fewer than $100 U.S., to mammoth, century-old kilims in vegetable-dyed wool that fetch upward of several thousand. Gassem’s assistant works up a sweat as he unstacks the carpets, and you might be asked to help unfurl them. If something strikes your fancy, be prepared for marathon negotiations, which take place over seemingly endless glasses of sweet mint tea. Next door, Gassem’s brother Ridha sells See TUNISIA, page 24


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Tunisia From page 23 an impressive array of antiques out of an equally tiny locale. A veritable Ali Baba’s cave, it’s piled high with petrol lamps, hammered copperware from the 1920s, and old-school hand-embroidered curtains, napkins and sheets as well as centuries-old tiles rescued from old Arab houses.

Hand-made traditional hats • A nearby covered lane houses the “Souk des Chechias,” where an ever-dwindling number of craftsmen hand-make the boiled wool hats, like stunted fezes, that were once an integral part of the national dress. Since Tunisian men adopted the universal uniform of jeans and T-shirts, the chechia — imported from Spain in the 14th century — has largely fallen out fashion, and the lion’s share of production is

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

now shipped to Libya and Nigeria. Second-generation chechia-producer Outaiel Jaoui still has two stores in the souk, where he serves up traditional red and black hats to Tunisians for formal occasions and chechias in a rainbow of bright hues for visitors. Nine laborious steps go into these little hats, which start out as oversized knit rasta berets and are boiled, molded, ironed and dyed into something resembling a retro pillbox. Worn on women, they breathe a Jackie O-like retro elegance. • El Makhsen: This old stable-turnedwarehouse-turned-wood-working factory is among the medina’s hippest shops. The brainchild of designer Mohamed Messaoudi, El Makhsen sells contemporary home decorations inspired by traditional Tunisian designs. Arm chairs have the minimalist lines of Danish furniture but are upholstered in bright wool kilims. Vases are covered in glazed curlicues of Arabic script, while

earthenware tajines are served up in sleek monochrome hues. Nearly all the products are made in Messaoudi’s own atelier outside Tunis. • Across the street, Le Foyer de l’Artiste, has similarly contemporary takes on traditional Tunisian jewelry. The chains of interlocking hammered loops worn as decorative fasteners on brides’ multilayered silk gowns are morphed into necklaces and dangle seductively from goldplated earrings. Old coins look surprisingly trendy on chunky silver bracelets or on artfully beaded earrings. If you shop up an appetite, the medina is full of little restaurants where you can grab grilled meats, egg and tuna-filled fried pastries, or tomato and bell pepper stews — all smeared with harissa, the piquant chili paste Tunisians use on virtually everything. But for something special, try Dar El Jeld, a sumptuous old mansion that was transformed into one of the city’s finest restaurants. The food — think lamb cous-

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If you go Before booking a trip, check for travel advisories from the U.S. State Department. In July, it issued an advisory urging that potential travelers to Tunisia be vigilant and warned against visiting the southern border region, where several thousand Libyans are living in refugee camps. The advisory is slated to be updated on Oct. 8. To read the full advisory, go to a/pa_5516.html. For more information, visit Tunisia’s official tourism site at To learn more about the medina, see The lowest roundtrip fare from the area in November is $1,191 and departs from Dulles International Airport on Turkish Airlines. Most flights require one change of planes and a total travel time of 11 to 16 hours, depending on the connection. — AP


Oct. 27


To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, travel to the Baltimore B&O Railroad Museum to



cous and a variety of fresh grilled fish — is mouthwatering, and the decoration is even more stunning than the dishes themselves.

see the exhibit “The War Came by Train” and to learn about the important role the railroad played during the war. Enjoy a guided tour and train ride, and bring a bagged lunch. The trip, sponsored by the Howard



County Dept. of Parks and “You truly transformed our kitchen.” R. Levine

Recreation, is for those 55 and over and will take place on Thursday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $68. To register or for additional

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information, call (410) 313-7279.

Oct. 19

TRACING ANCESTORS Finding ancestral

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lowed by a question period about experiences with The free session will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the Ellicott City Senior Center, 9401 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. For further information, call (410) 313-1400.

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


Nearby W. Va., healing for body and soul By Glenda C. Booth A little chunk of West Virginia dangles like an overturned bowl on the northeastern tip of the state, dipping into Maryland and Virginia. It’s known as West Virginia’s eastern panhandle and is the most visited part of the state. If you’re traveling there from here, the area is a welcoming introduction to the Mountain State. You won’t see sharp peaks, mountain “hollers” or coal mines there. That’s further west and south. Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Surkamp calls the panhandle “a special little

corner of the world.” It has a rich mix of history, culture, shopping, dining and nature, only 90 minutes from Washington and Baltimore. You can go back to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, visit George Washington family sites, bathe in healing waters, fish, raft rivers, hike trails, and go to festivals, plays and concerts. In between towns, you can savor the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and rural vistas.

Shepherdstown Shepherdstown, population 1,200, is the state’s oldest town (250 next year). It’s a very PHOTO BY STEVE SHALUTA

walkable, postcard village of well-preserved brick buildings, some from the 1700s. “You won’t see a chain store or fast food drive-through,” touts Surkamp. Take O’Hurley’s General Store, for example, which sells time-tested products like fruit presses, sleds, fire tools, dinner bells and crockery. On Thursday nights, O’Hurley’s features free Celtic or bluegrass music. Pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure at the Visitor Center (, 102 West German St., before your stroll to the oneof-a-kind shops and eateries in what are some of the state’s oldest buildings in the National Historic District. There’s a story behind most of the buildings. During the Civil War, many on

German Street were used as hospitals, and amputated arms and legs were flung out the second story windows. During the Revolutionary War, 100 men from each town formed the Bee Line here and marched 600 miles to Boston in 24 days to reinforce George Washington’s fledgling army. Behind the Visitor Center is the Rumsey Steamboat Museum showcasing an invention by the man Thomas Jefferson called the “most talented mechanical genius he’d ever seen,” James Rumsey, who was 20 years ahead of Robert Fulton and his steamboat. A novel must-see is the Little House, a 10-foot-tall, two-story “house” that youngSee WEST VIRGINIA, page 26

Af fordable Apartments You· ll Be Proud To Call Home Y

Harpers Ferry is a national historical park as well as a picturesque community located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. A variety of tours and living history presentations bring the past to life for tourists.

Designed and managed for today· s D seniors at these locations:

Upcoming Trips Fall Foliage and Shenandoah Caverns

Experience one of the best fall foliage displays in the East as we travel scenic Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. In addition, we’ll visit the Shenandoah Caverns, American Celebration on Parade, and other area attractions.

Wednesday, October 12

$109 per person

“Me and My Girl” at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

This truly charming musical is about a working-class man who inherits a large fortune and the title of Earl, then discovers a branch of blue-blood relatives. The hit songs include The Lambeth Waltz, Once You Lose Your Heart, Leaning on a Lamppost, and Love Makes the World Go Round. This show will have you dancing in the aisles. A delicious buffet lunch precedes the show.

Saturday, November 12

$129 per person

“Winter Wonderland” Christmas Show Join us at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster, PA, for this warm and wonderful show of favorite holiday carols and songs, breathtaking music and dance, and a visit from Santa. Before the show enjoy a delicious buffet lunch at Miller’s Smorgasbord Restaurant.

Sunday, December 4 $129 per person Christmas in Nashville – Gaylord Opryland Resort The Gaylord Opryland Resort pulls out all the stops for Christmas to create their dazzling winter wonderland. This trip includes a Country Christmas Dinner and Show with Louise Mandrell; the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring the famous Rockettes; the Gaslight Theatre ice sculptures, and so much more. Make this a Christmas season to remember. Price includes round-trip airfare from BWI to Nashville.

December 11-13

$995 per person, dbl. occ.

Call us for more information on these and our other trips.

Travel with Louise, Ltd. 3 0t r a1v e-l w5i t9h l 8o u-i s0e . 7c o 5m 7



‡ Furnace Branch 410-761-4150

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‡ Colonial Landing 410-796-4399

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NOW! ‡ Timothy House (Towson) 410-828-7185 * Bladensburg 301-699-9785 *5 5 or Better ‡ Laurel 301-490-1526 ‡ Taylor 410-663-0363

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‡ Laurel II 301-490-9730 Call the community nearest you to inquire about eligibility requirements and to arrange a personal tour or email Professionally managed by The Shelter Group.


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West Virginia From page 25 sters built in 1929 as student teachers taught collaboration. Around town, keep your eye out for the 200-year-old “horse stones” in front of homes. They helped people get on and off their horses gracefully. For a meal, you might hobnob with luminaries at the Beaux Arts-style Yellow Brick Bank Restaurant. Nancy Reagan was eating pumpkin soup here with columnist George Will in 1986 when the Challenger spacecraft blew apart over the Atlantic Ocean.

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

Or try the Blue Moon Café, where you can dine inside or outside. The Town Run stream, never dry and fed by over 20 natural springs, splices through town and gurgles right through the restaurant. Numerous events are on tap this fall, including: Oct. 23 to 29, Apple Butter Festival, sponsored by the Fire Department, http:// Nov. 12 to 13, Over the Mountain Studio Tour,, visit crafts studios Nov. 3 to 6, American Conservation Film Festival,

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Nov. 19, Fiddle Summit, concerts Nov. 25 Christmas Tree Lighting and Parade and 250th birthday party For more on Shepherdstown, see

Harpers Ferry Wedged between Maryland and Virginia, where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers converge, Harpers Ferry, population 310, is a national historical park (, a picturesque town perched on a hill at the mid-point of the Appalachian Trail. You’ll no doubt agree with Thomas Jefferson who wrote about this area in 1783, “The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature.” Harpers Ferry is best known for white abolitionist John Brown, who seized the U.S. Armory and Arsenal here to start a slave revolt. He was found guilty of treason and hanged. The National Park Service information center and the John Brown Museum tell the story and more. The town is full of historic buildings and at times living history demonstrations. There’s very little parking in town, so the easiest way to visit is to park at the visitor center on U.S. 340 and take a shuttle in. Visit to learn more. Check for upcoming events, such as “Living History, In the Shadows of John Brown: The 1861 Battle of Bolivar Heights” on Oct. 15 and the Old Tyme Christmas celebration from Dec. 2 to 4 and 10 to 11.

Charles Town

Monthly Membership Meetings Wednesday, October 26, 2011 • 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Location: Gary L. Kaufman Funeral Home at Meadowridge Memorial Park 7250 Washington Blvd., Elkridge, MD 21075 Speaker: Nancy Balles • Topic: Music and Art Therapy

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 • 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Location: Brightview, Catonsville 912 S. Rolling Road, Catonsville, MD 21228 Speaker: Mary Anne Wilkinson • Topic: Holiday Blues COGS is an organization of senior care professionals working to improve the lives of seniors in our community. If you are a professional senior care provider and would like membership information, please email us at

For more information email COGS Administrator at or visit our website at Coalition of Geriatric Services, Inc., P. O. Box 2131, Ellicott City, MD 21041

Presents The 6th Annual

FallFest 2011 Friday, November 4th Elkridge Furnace Inn • 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. Featuring a Fabulous Silent Auction, Entertainment by Frank & Trish Curreri and Dinner All Proceeds Benefit Neighbor Ride and the Howard County Office on Aging’s Vivian Reid Community Fund

Tickets: $65 per person and are on sale at For more information contact COGS at Make a Difference in the Life of a Senior – Support FallFest 2011

Charles Town ( has history, too; after all, the town is named for George Washington’s brother, Charles, its founder in 1786. There are more Washingtons buried in the Zion Episcopal Church Cemetery than anywhere in the world, with more than 70 known graves. Get a self-guided walking map at the Visitor Center, 108 N. George St. John Brown’s 1859 trial and hanging took place at the courthouse. You’ll find Brown artifacts in the museum of the Charles Town Library, and a letter written by George Washington in 1799. For gamblers, the Hollywood Casino and Charles Town Racetrack ( may hit the spot. Over 4 million people have tried their luck at its thoroughbred horse races, 112 table games and 4,000 slot machines. Just south is the Summit Point Raceway, scene of car and motorcycle races, and a favorite racing site of the late actor Paul Newman (

Berkeley Springs The panhandle’s “healing waters,” frequented by Native Americans, have long lured travelers. Berkeley Springs ( claims to be the country’s “first spa,” a place where George and Martha Washington soaked.

Berkeley Springs State Park is a sevenacre compound of warm mineral springs and an 1815 Roman Bath House with private chambers and water heated to 102 degrees. The town has a museum, restaurants, boutiques, B&Bs, motels and a brochure for a 70-mile self-guided driving tour of more than a dozen sites connected to George Washington, including “George Washington’s bathtub,” where our founding father “abated his fevers.” The Country Music Hall of Fame honors West Virginia country music legends and offers a tour of their recording studio. From Oct. 8 to 9, the town holds an Apple Butter Festival and parade, and from Nov. 13 to 14 there will be a Festival of Light, featuring practitioners of spiritual and physical healing.

Jefferson County and beyond Jefferson Countians like to tout their connections to the father of our country who surveyed in the area in 1748 and bought land. Over time, the Washington family built at least 10 estates in Jefferson County. Four still stand, but are only open to the public at certain times. Ask at the visitor centers. The Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society’s ( African American Heritage Map can open your eyes to an often overlooked history — spots like the Charles Town Coloured Grave Yard, and the Hilltop House in Harper’s Ferry where strategies for the anti-slavery Niagara Movement were plotted. The C&O Canal towpath for walking, biking and hiking is in Maryland, but just across the Potomac, as is the 3,000-acre Antietam National Battlefield (, site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, where the warfare was “as loud as Niagara Falls.” Visit for travel tips, activities and events or for videos of important sites. Virginian Susan Koscis says about the panhandle, “I love the area because it is quiet, peaceful and a green corner of the world with friendly people.”

If you go You need a car to explore most of the panhandle. Amtrak’s Capitol Limited train stops in Harpers Ferry seven days a week. A commuter MARC train goes to Duffield, 10 minutes from Shepherdstown on week days, but there is no public transportation, not even a taxi. Hotels may arrange transportation from the train station. In Shepherdstown, you can easily explore downtown on foot from the Thomas Shepherd Inn B&B (,1-888-889-8952). Rooms start at $125 a night. You can feel transported to Germany and sample wild game at the Bavarian Inn (, 304-876-2551) perched on a bluff over the Potomac. Rooms start at $169 a night. Glenda C. Booth is a freelance writer in Alexandria, Va.

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Read more about the Traveling Heart Band. See our cover story, continued on page 28.

This Our Town really moves the audience you’re on track for an enjoyable, affecting evening of theater.

Unique setting The Chesapeake Shakespeare production is not your typical Our Town, whether put on in the high school auditorium by the senior class, or in the confines of a professional theater, where such famous actors as Henry Fonda and Paul Newman have taken the leading roles. This production, which runs through Oct. 30, is a form of “traveling theater,” where it’s the audience that’s on the go. The play takes place in various locations on the park grounds of the onetime Patapsco Female Institute. The viewers are shepherded back and forth, from the front of a gutted building, to the balcony and basement of an interior courtyard, to a spooky inner sanctum. Located on a high hill in Ellicott City, the ruins of the former 19th century girls’ boarding school give off very old and eerie vibes. Such a locale, however, may not be the ideal setting to play out the supposedly ordinary lives of ordinary people in the early 20th century New Hampshire town of Grover’s Corners. Still, going from place to place and seeing characters appear in high arched windows and on balconies of half-destroyed buildings is certainly a different, even invigorating, experience for the audience. And when one of the characters remarks in the first act about the beauty of

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SUNDAY, DEC. 11, 2011, 3:00 PM - “A CHRISTMAS NOËL”

With the CPC CHAMBER SINGERS CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 6800 OAKLAND MILLS RD, COLUMBIA 21045 TICKETS: Adults $15 Advance; Seniors/Students $13 Advance, $2 more At Door


the moon, all the audience had to do on the night I saw the performance was raise its eyes to the sky to see a clear, three-quarter moon shining there. The only place the shuttling of the audience doesn’t seem to work as much as it should is in the third act. (More on that later.) But the play here is definitely the thing, and director Ian Gallanar stays within the playwright’s parameters of a straight-on view of how people spoke and acted around 1901-1913. He avoids hokey nostalgia as well as modernday updates. As Wilder wanted, the sets are minimal — a few chairs and tables — and no props are visible, as actors mime such ever yday activities as shucking peas, pouring cofSee OUR TOWN, page 29


By Robert Friedman In a world that has gone through so many traumatic changes in the past decade, let’s hear it for the eternal verities. We do hear, see and feel those humanscale truths in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s down home and captivating production of Thornton Wilder’s American classic, Our Town. Over the years, productions of Our Town have been praised and criticized for being profound, sappy, funny, corny, dark, depressing, bittersweet and touching. (Just like life.) The play consists of vignettes that look at birth, awkward teens, young love, scary marriage, put-upon wives, matter-of-fact husbands, misunderstandings, occasional kindnesses. It offers comings-and-goings of mostly ordinary import, yet with potential for savoring life. It reminds us that our half-lived lives are over all too soon, which should move us to appreciate and deepen the moment and to recognize what is eternal in all humans. These are the themes played out mostly through depictions of the Webb and Gibbs families, headed by the town doctor and the town’s newspaper editor, respectively, and through their sensible, yet dreaming, wives and their awkward, balky, sympathetic children And when a play’s characters humanize to the fullest the playwright’s message — as Wilder’s have done in this work — then

Dave Gamble narrates Our Town in his role as Stage Manger, and Addison Helm plays young Wally Webb in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Theatre’s open-air production of the classic Thornton Wilder play.


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Band From page 1 makes recordings. He notes that when musicians play in a restaurant, they are more in the background, whereas Zlatin has his band “put on a show” for their audiences. As a result, their performance “is possibly the highlight of [their listeners’] day or week. I’ve never been in something that makes that much connection,” Hopkins said. It generates a special enthusiasm in the band. “We really do care about the people. Other places, I’m like, ‘When is this over? Where’s my money?’ This is actually fun!” Hopkins, whose nickname is “White Lightnin,” plays a 21st century instrument called an electric upright bass, or EUB. It’s very compact, basically the neck of a bass set on a tripod, so “it sounds like a bass but doesn’t look like one. I drive a Miata!” Thomas, the vocalist, first took to the stage at age 3. Over the years, he said, his

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

vocal style has been influenced by such artists as Al Jarreau, Frank Sinatra, Al Green and Miles Davis, not to mention his own father, Ralph Thomas, a professional singer. Thomas once was a full-time singer himself, but he went back to the “real world” after the birth of his daughter. He started singing again two years ago, performing at restaurants and nightclubs, as well as with Traveling Heart. In his day job, he’s a branch manager with Options for Senior America, a personal home care organization. Thomas likes to look for people in the audience with whom to connect. “It could be the person who already has a sparkle in her eyes, or on the other hand, it could be the person who sits with his arms folded and needs a special touch.” Literally. Hopkins said Thomas “makes it personal. He goes out and shakes every single person’s hand, puts his arm around them, takes an extra mic around and they sing along.”

Thomas agreed he’s a strong believer in both the power of music and the power of a simple touch on the shoulder. “I just want the audience to accept what I can give them,” he said. Before establishing the Traveling Heart Show, Zlatin consulted with physical therapists and psychiatrists who work with older adults to get ideas on how to make the show not only entertaining but as beneficial as possible. The advice he kept receiving was to make the performances interactive. “That’s what we try to do,” he said. “We not only want them to have fun, but to get involved.” That could mean anything from singing along to dancing, clapping, shaking marimbas, mingling with fellow seniors, or “whatever comes along,” said Zlatin. He plans, for example, to bring high school kids to performances at senior centers and nursing homes so the generations can interact. In the future, he wants to add

“Public television‘s most ambitious series in years” — The Hollywood Reporter

videos and art work to the presentations. “It’s a gumbo of different activities,” Zlatin said, adding that he hopes to do a rock festival for seniors at some point, too. “As we get older, we’ll probably start adding the Beatles as well,” Zlatin laughed.

A nonprofit ensemble The Music and Art Traveling Heart Show is set up as a nonprofit corporation, seeking donations, contributions and grants to help it reach as many older audiences as possible. The shows are offered on a regular basis at senior centers and retirement communities throughout the region, often as an open house for families to enjoy. “Family members love watching the interaction and involvement of their relatives,” said Zlatin. He receives enthusiastic feedback after performances from both audience members and program directors, many of whom comment on the sessions’ upbeat and enjoyable nature. Hopkins noted that when children or caregivers come with some audience members, “They say, ‘Wow! That person hasn’t reacted like this in a long time.’” According to Marian Oser, a program specialist at the Baltimore County Department of Aging, the Traveling Heart program “engages audiences. [They] can’t help but get involved in the fun,” she told Zlatin. That’s the kind of response Zlatin likes to hear. “The passion we bring to each performance with the engagement of the participants will help us to achieve our mission to enhance the quality of life for senior citizens through music and arts,” he said. The Music and Art Traveling Heart Show will perform at the Beacon’s 50+ Expos on October 30 at Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, Va., and on November 6 at White Flint in N. Bethesda. Admission is free. For more information, visit, or contact Zlatin at, (410) 499-9777. With additional reporting by Stuart Rosenthal.


Fridays 9:30pm Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore ....................10/14 Pearl Jam Twenty...................10/21 Miami City Ballet....................10/28 Give Me The Banjo..................11/4 Bill T. Jones: A Good Man .......11/11

Women Who Rock.................11/18 Il Postino from LA Opera .....11/25 Andrea Bocelli Live in Central Park .................12/2 The Little Mermaid................12/16

National funding for the PBS Arts Fall Festival is provided by a generous grant from the Anne Ray Charitable Trust. PBS Arts Fall Festival on MPT is sponsored in part by The Washington Ballet and Strathmore Performing Arts Center.

Nov. 1


The Howard County Arts Council is seeking nominees for the 2011 Howie Awards honoring individual artists, educators, businesses and organizations that have made significant impacts, commitments and contributions to the arts in the county. The awards will be presented at the annual Celebration of the Arts in Howard County to be held on March 24. Deadline for nominations is Tuesday, Nov. 1. For a form or for more information, visit, call (410) 3132787 or visit the Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Rd., Ellicott City.

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

Our Town From page 27 fee and throwing a ball in the air and catching it.

Well-acted, well-directed Gallanar has gotten some first-rate, soulful performances from a large cast. Since the setting is New Hampshire, everybody on stage speaks with a broad New England accent. It works. Much of a successful production of Our Town rests with the performance of the Stage Manager. He (or in some productions, she) is the narrator who sets up, interprets and sometimes interrupts the scene. The Stage Manager breaks the fourth wall — that imaginary boundary between the play and the audience — with a vengeance. At one point, he suggests that — along with the New York Times, the works of Shakespeare and the Bible — a copy of Our Town should be put in the time capsule being buried in the cornerstone of a new bank in Grover’s Corners. Dave Gamble does full justice to the role, giving us faux-plain folk asides that illuminate the darkness that creeps up on the characters. Gamble gives his seemingly off-handed comments about small-town life just the right ring for us to see in them the enduring truths for any town.

Kelsey Painter is sweet, smart and properly inquisitive as Emily Webb. Her character becomes unworldly wise as she realizes after she dies in childbirth how humans go through life without relishing so many of its relishable moments. Noah Bird, as George Gibbs, the callow, baseball-playing farmer she marries, is properly awkward then bereaved at his young wife’s death. Other standouts include Michael Sullivan as Dr. Gibbs, the father of George; Ron Heneghan, Emily’s newspaper-editor dad; Jenny Leopold, as Mrs. Gibbs who dreams of visiting Paris, where people don’t speak English and don’t even want to, and Lesley Malin as Emily’s mom. Mention should also be made of milkman James Jager, constable David Tabish, choir master and town drunk Scott Farquhar, higher ed professor Frank Mancino, and Joan Crooks, as the lady who enthuses over weddings. While Jager makes his daily deliveries with the help of invisible horse Bessie, Farquhar leads a real live choir. The only place the shifting of the audience doesn’t really work is in the third act, where we move from the room that represents the cemetery back to the front of the building, where the homes of the Gibbs and Webb families are recreated. We are accompanying Emily as she steps back in time from her grave to her 12th birthday.


Nov. 4

ATTEND FALLFEST Attend the Coalition for Geriatric Service’s (COGS) FallFest on

Friday, Nov. 4 from 6 to 10 p.m. The event includes an elegant meal, dancing, silent auction and live music. Proceeds benefit Neighbor Ride and the Howard County Office Aging’s Vivian Reid Community Fund. Tickets are $65. The event will be held at the Elkridge Furnace Inn, 5745 Furnace Ave., Elkridge. For more information and tickets, see

Nov. 9+

TAP DANCE CLASSES Tap your way to fitness through a tapping class that provides the fun way to exercise. Both men and women are invited; all levels

are welcome. Led by Jackie Dunphy of the “Golden Girls,” a fee of $38 covers six weekly sessions. Classes begin Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Ellicott City Senior Center, 9401 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. For further information, call (410) 313-1400.




From page 30.

















This is the scene that should transmit the true poignancy of the play; it needs confinement rather than the outdoors, where the characters’ voices sometimes fade (unless you are sitting, or standing, in strategic spots on the grounds). Two further caveats: dress warmly. It gets downright chilly up on the hill, where you will alternately sit and stand for more than two hours. And be prepared for a steep hike from the parking lot to the performance area, as no shuttles are provided. But once the performance starts, you will be offered a compelling view of a play that is at the summit of American theater.

Show time on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays is 8 p.m.; on Sundays at 5 p.m. Tickets are $28 in advance and $32 at the gate on Thursdays, $32 in advance and $36 day of show on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For those 65 and over, tickets are $25 ($29 day of show) for all performances. Call (410) 313-8874 to find out if a show will be canceled due to rain. Tickets for cancelled shows may be presented at any remaining show. For more information or to buy tickets, go to or call (410) 313-8661. Robert Friedman is a freelance writer.

Jason Love, Music Director

Final Words Saturday, December 3, 2011 • 7:30 .. Jim Rouse Theatre, Columbia, MD Adolphus Hailstork: I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes Gustav Mahler: Adagio from Symphony No. 10 Giuseppe Verdi: Stabat Mater with the Heritage Signature Chorale, Stanley Thurston, director

(410) 465-8777



N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1 — 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 A Pressing Matter by Stephen Sherr 1

















21 23


28 34




45 47




49 56











2. Inflexible severity 3. Wide open 1. Neck protector 4. “___ dripping well” (Keats simile) 6. Expansive 5. Sicilian volcano 10. Florida city near West Palm 6. He said “No; I am your father” 14. Noted figure in ice skating 7. Peddler’s goal 15. Cruising 8. Penultimate tournament game 16. Captain of the Pequod 9. Big mug 17. Let’s Twist ___ 10. Clean a dirty dog 18. “I curse those beavers” 11. State whose largest three cities all start 19. Cash box with the letter “C” 20. Magical words uttered in 1939 12. Storm preceder 23. Bill of Rights subj. 13. Competent 24. Mine find 21. The Real Thing 25. Mimic 22. Letter from Saint Paul 26. Himalayan beast 27. Guacamole base 28. Calendar column 28. German Madame 29. Chinese revolutionary leader 29. Soft mineral 32. It usually starts at midnight 30. “My dog ate my homework”, 37. You ___ Beautiful for example 38. Penne ___ vodka 31. The first National Leaguer with 39. Unstated 500 homers 40. Recycling tidbit 32. Increase in size 43. Start of a WW II battle island 33. Update the kitchen 44. Respond to Alex Trebek 34. A big jerk 45. “Y”, made plural 35. Tall mountain 46. ___ Nightingale (with 49 Across) 36. Fedora rest spots 47. Rep. foe 37. “___ was saying” 49. See 46 Across 52. Where to find the last words in 20, 32, 41. Preventing infection 42. An arm or a leg and 40 Across 46. Weasel cousin 58. Posthumous bio 47. Song samples 59. The fourth dimension 48. Observers 60. Popular joints 50. Nabisco cookies 61. Archaeologist’s location 51. Fred Astaire’s dance partner 62. Ripley’s little words! 52. Like buried treasure, perhaps 63. Movie stars 53. “___ Baby” (rhyming song title from 64. Fray Hair) 65. Sewage pit or pool 54. Gyro wrap 66. Useful Scrabble tiles 55. Pass bad checks Down 56. Tom Joad, for example 1. Burrito ingredient 57. A sampling of 66 Across






Scrabble answers on p. 29.





29 36













24 26


Answers on page 29.

Answer: What the cruise liner turned into when they were overcharged – A “CLIPPER” SHIP Jumbles: AGILE PAPER SCROLL CALIPH

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

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STOP RENTING Lease option to buy Rent to own No money down No credit check 1-877-3950321.

STAMP COLLECTIONS, AUTOGRAPHS purchased/appraised – U.S., worldwide, covers, paper memorabilia. Stamps are my specialty – highest price paid! Appraisals. Phone Alex, 301309-6637.

WANTED DIABETES TEST STRIPS Any kind/brand. Unexpired up to $18.00. Shipping Paid Hablamos espanol 1-800-266-0702

For Sale DISH NETWORK lowest nationwide price $19.99/Mo FREE HBO/Cinemax/Starz FREE Blockbuster FREE HD-DVR and install. Next day install. 1-800-655-4939.

Miscellaneous ATTEND COLLEGE ONLINE from home. Medical, Business, Paralegal, Accounting, Criminal Justice. Job placement assistance. Computer available. Financial aid if qualified. Call 800-494-3586 DISH NETWORK PACKAGES start $24.99/mo FREE HD for life! FREE BLOCKBUSTER® movies (3 months.) Call1-800-915-9514. PREGNANT? CONSIDERING ADOPTION? You choose from families nationwide. LIVING EXPENSES PAID. Abby’s One True Gift Adoptions. 866-413-6292, 24/7 Void/Illinois.

Wanted ESTATE BUY-OUTS / CLEAN-OUTS RECORD COLLECTIONS, HIFI STEREO, LARGE OLD SPEAKERS, RADIO TUBES, OLD ELECTRONICS, CAMERAS. BEST PRICE. CASH BUYER. PLEASE CALL ALAN 240-478-1100 or 410-740-5222. VINYL RECORDS WANTED from the 20s through 1985. Jazz, Rock-n-Roll, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Reggae and Disco. 33 1/3 LPs, 45s or 78s, Larger collections preferred. Please call John, 301-596-6201.


Nov. 18

CASH FOR CARS, Any Make or Model! Free Towing. Sell it TODAY. Instant offer: 1-800-8645784. TOP CASH FOR CARS, Any Car/Truck, Running or Not. Call for INSTANT offer: 1-800-4546951.

WANTED JAPANESE MOTORCYCLES KAWASAKI 1970-1980 Z1-900, KZ900, KZ 1000, H2-750, H1-500, S1-250, S2-250, S2-350, S3-400 CASH. 1-800-772-1142, 1-310-721-0726 WANTED: YEARBOOKS - $15 each for any high school 1940-1988 not in our collection. 1-972-768-1338.

Word of the month The curious origins of our words and rituals

posh In the 19th century, when wealthy passengers would travel by ship from England to India, they would request rooms that faced the sun heading both to and from their destination — meaning the left (or port) side of the ship when heading to India and the right (starboard) side when returning to England. The designation for this level of travel was Port Out/Starboard Home, naturally abbreviated as “posh.” The term has since become synonymous for anything first class or elegant. To submit a word or phrase to be researched, or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, call Jan Peter Ozga, (703) 281-2899. Prepared by Wizard Communications. All rights reserved.


The Howard County Commission for Women is seeking nominations for outstanding Howard County women who have made significant contributions to the county, the state or the nation through their professions and/or community service, and who are models of achievement for tomorrow’s female leaders. The deadline for applications is Friday, Nov. 18. Up to five women will be selected for induction at the Women’s Hall of Fame ceremony on March 8. To obtain a copy of the nomination form, visit, call (410) 313-6400, or email

Oct. 26



Bryant Boston, owner and founder of the Almond Branch Group, explains how to choose a financial advisor, understand fees and commissions, and avoid scams. The program will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the East Columbia Branch of the Howard County Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia. For more information, call (410) 313-7700.

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November 2011 Howard County Beacon Edition  

November 2011 Howard County Beacon Edition

November 2011 Howard County Beacon Edition  

November 2011 Howard County Beacon Edition