"Liter Litter Legion: 'Say it three times fast, and you're a member.' Give Patrick a pat on the back while we clean up our act. Join the Liter Legion Ltd. I'll start today by cleaning up the intersection. But we all share responsibility. Joe Wasserman."
The Howard County Sun received this message last week, yielding a remarkably quick resolution to the puzzle of the curious set of containers that rested at the intersection of Homewood Road, Folly Quarter Road and Shepherd Lane ("Joggers, clean up your act," in "The Scene," April 24, 1991).
Wasserman says the bottles were the only remaining evidence of a Saturday morning ritual called the "Bagel Run" because joggers returnto their starting point, the Wilde Lake Village Center, for a bagel breakfast.
Nearly all of the runners are members of the Howard County Striders.
Before the article appeared, Wasserman said that therun had organized a pickup of the water containers, but it was not done until the following Saturday.
"We've always picked up the bottles, but they would sit for a week. There was no reason for us to do that," Wasserman said.
"We live in Howard County, and we all love the beauty of the place."
On April 27, Wasserman and his wife, both Striders, removed the bottles left by joggers at the intersection and removed other nearby trash that was not left by joggers.
They went deep into the woods and filled two large garbage bags of trash. Their only unwanted bonus: a dose of poison ivy.
In the future, theperson designated to provide water for the joggers in the "Bagel Run" will return after the bagel break to retrieve the bottles.
Paul Goldenberg, president of the Striders, has also expressed interest inhaving his organization "adopt" some of the streets they use in their routes to keep them litter-free.
If only our government could act with such unbureaucratic alacrity in response to this problem.
ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO THE HOWARD COUNTY SUN -- KIM HAIRSTON
CAPTION: Jogger Eric Locay (left), a participant in the weekly Bagel Run, deposits a water jug into a bag held by fellow runner Joe Wasserman on Saturday.
THE STUBBORN FACT ABOUT DONKEY BALL: IT'S JUST PLAIN FUN
Sorry, dear Centennial and Howard high principals, it says here the donkeys you want out of your gyms have more common sense than you're showing. ("Activists put full-court pressureon donkey hoop games," The Howard County Sun, Sunday, May 5, Page 4.)
All you principals had to do was say something adult -- such as,well, yes, those few kids interested in animal rights are entitled to their views. (And wasn't it creative of the Centennial bunch to even get on TV? We like creativity in county schools, don't we?)
But the fact is, dear students, games like these have been going on for years, and the animals seem fit, cared for, and not bothered in the least about 800 screaming kids in a gym.
When something happens thatthe critters don't like during a "game," they just say no. Ask any of the kids and faculty who've been tossed off during these affairs, incurring occasional bumps, bruises and other indignities.
That's what gives donkey basketball or donkey baseball games their slapstick charm. That's why people go. It's spelled f-u-n.
And here's a piece of semi-related trivia to chew on: a donkey baseball game once filled old Griffith Stadium in Washington.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS, PAIN
"You attended another county budget meeting? What kind of man are you?"a colleague asked.
"You must be some kind of secret accountant," he said.
Not really. I am as bored with budgets as the next person. The language alone puts you to sleep: debit, expenditure, revenue; fiscal soundness, annual attrition, budgeted base.
And the numbers. Who can visualize a thousand thousand dollars? Yet even in a budgetfor a county as small as Howard -- second-smallest in the state -- athousand thousand dollars, $1 million if you prefer, is minuscule.
The difference in budget meetings this year is that usually sterilediscussions of dollar amounts are tinged with anguish. In the past, things were cut from the budget. This year, people are.
Those who let the county executive and the County Council know their pain because of proposed budget cuts have been rewarded. Those who have borne their pain silently have not.
A particular irony is that the 40 people who would lose their jobs (laid off is the county euphemism) because of the budget shortfall have said virtually nothing. Only one allowed himself to be written about in a newspaper story. None spoke atany hearings or work sessions.
Had they done so -- had they and one by one testified about what they did for the county and how they went about doing it; had they talked about what it will mean for the county to be bereft of their services; had they told the executive andcouncil what it will mean to them and their families to be out of work -- the pain would have been excruciating.