Ask Alma: Unwanted photos of my ex-husband

Dear Alma

I recently decided to digitize my old photos and ran across a ton of family pictures of my first husband as a baby and while he was growing up, along with his family. We had a short marriage and divorced after only two years. My first husband and I didn’t have any children together, so I haven’t been in contact with him over the years. I wasn’t very close to his family, either. When we came home from college together, I didn’t pass the paper bag test (if you know what I mean) but that’s another question for another day.

During our marriage, I never quite measured up when it came to his mother and she let me know it at every opportunity she could. He was the only son and truly devoted to his parents. I’m very happily remarried now and have been for over 20 years. I’m not sure if he’s remarried and I don’t really have any interest in contacting him. Sometimes people can misread your intentions and I don’t want this to be the case. But what I do want to do is forward this box of pictures to his parents. I’ve checked and confirmed their home address. My plan is to send the box without a return address, so that way they won’t feel obligated to get in touch with me. But if I do, they might not even know where the box came from. I definitely don’t want to throw them away. I know it would be a wonderful surprise for them to receive them. What do you think Alma, how can I return these photographs incognito?

Name withheld

Take a step back, Detective Benson, I think you’ve added more Law & Order than what’s necessary to complete this pursuit. Don’t get it twisted on your end. This is a very thoughtful act on your part and that’s all it is. Just let that be. Without rereading the entire map of your first marriage misfortunes, I’d venture to say you have legitimate reasons for anticipating the worst of the worst and, you could be right. But you also could be wrong. You said you’ve gone on with your life. You’re happily remarried, totally and unequivocally uninterested in line dancing with your ex-husband’s family foolishness. Ok, I get it. But I think you’re moving way ahead of yourself here. We’re talking returning old pictures. You aren’t inviting them to attend your granddaughter’s graduation celebration.

It’s not what you have in your hand but what you have in your heart that lays the groundwork for this task of thoughtfulness. I applaud you for not holding a grudge towards your ex-husband and his family. If you’ve got the right attitude and you’re sending the pictures with the best of intentions, there’s no need to expect discord, disharmony or discontent.

Yes, absolutely add a note that says: Hello, I recently ran across these photographs and just knew I had to return them to your family. All the best blessings to you and yours. Signed, you.

There’s no room or need for a suggestion of follow up in those words. Once you’ve sent the pictures, it out of your hands. You can’t control their reaction, you can only control your response. So stop worrying about it. If they follow up with foolishness – as they say in Brooklyn, just FagetAboutIt!

Although I’ve gotta say, I don’t think they will. Time has passed, wounds have healed, and old ways have changed. Send the box, with the note, I can tell your heart is in the right place. By the way, I don’t think the post office will let you send letters or packages without a return address. But I am certain that you can come up with someone’s return address.

All the best of blessings to you and yours.

Signed, Alma

Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.

Hotel tips and tricks to stay healthy on the road

— Frequent travelers can be all too familiar with the challenges of staying both healthy and productive — countless distractions, fast food joints on every corner and difficulty sleeping in unfamiliar places and beds can make staying on track a challenge. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be such a daunting task, say experts.

“For frequent travelers and business travelers, being on the road is a lifestyle, so finding ways to be healthy and productive is essential,” says Marcey Rader, lifestyle trainer and Extended Stay Savve Traveler. “The key is to recognize your poor habits, find out what works for you, and then develop a routine around them.”

From her years on the road with a corporate position, Rader developed a series of hotel hacks that can assist frequent travelers and mobile professionals wishing to travel productively while also maintaining high health standards. Along with Extended Stay America, Rader is offering some hotel tips and tricks:

• Prioritize sleep: When you’re dealing with different beds, sounds and schedules, it’s almost guaranteed that your sleep routine will be disrupted. Sleep soundly with a fan, a recording or even an app that creates white noise to eliminate distractions and calm your mind and body.

• Give blue rays the boot: Ninety-five percent of people who don’t get a good night’s sleep say they use a phone or laptop within one hour of bed. Studies have shown that the blue rays emitted by phones and computer screens disrupt and suppress the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone crucial to sleep. Give your brain time to wind down before bed, you’ll sleep better and feel rejuvenated in the morning.

• Stand up and work: You may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking.” Constant sitting is linked to an overwhelming number of negative health effects and drastically decreased productivity. Luckily, there’s a simple solution — standing. You can easily convert any space into a standing desk. Opt for a hotel with a kitchen and use the counters to get work done, or stack books and binders on a table for an elevated workspace.

• Don’t eat like you’re on vacation: The biggest mistake business traveler’s make is eating like they’re on vacation. Extended Stay recently conducted a survey of their travelers and found that the average weight gain while on the road is close to 3 pounds. With frequent travel for business, that starts to add up drastically. Staying at a hotel with a fully equipped kitchen can help maintain nutritious habits. Stock the fridge with vegetable trays to snack on throughout the day, and hard boiled eggs as a breakfast item.

• OHIO (Only Handle It Once): Do you go out to your mailbox, open the letters, put them back in the mailbox, go back in your house and repeat the process several times a day? Of course you don’t. Then stop doing that with your email inbox. Instantly increase productivity by deleting, archiving and sorting emails the first time you read them.

• Seek Smart Accommodations: An extended stay-style hotel offers amenities that can help travelers optimize productivity and prioritize health. To learn more travel tips, visit,

Stop making excuses. For happier, healthier, more successful traveling, recognize your unproductive habits and fix them.

Active aging is healthy aging

Research has proven that the more you exercise the better, and longer, your life will be. No matter what age you start your exercise program, you will benefit from the physical activity. Just moving for 30 to 60 minutes three to five times a week boosts your health by…

· Lowering your stroke risk.

· Protecting against osteoporosis.

· Increasing your metabolic rate.

· Preventing, and even reducing, high blood pressure.

· Alleviating depression.

· Reducing your cancer risk.

· Lowering your blood sugar.

· Reducing your risk of falls.

An easy way to have some fun and get some exercise too is to register for Baltimore County Department of Aging’s ninth annual “Get Ready! Get Set! Get Fit! 5K Run-Walk / 1 Mile Walk” on Sunday, September 20, 2015. This family-friendly event will be held at the CCBC Essex campus, conveniently located near I95 and I695 off of Rossville Boulevard. You can run or walk the 5-kilometer or 1-mile course at your own pace. Your wallet might get some exercise too if you win the “Fitness Pays” Grand Door Prize Drawing of $500, courtesy of Walgreens (must be present to win). Proceeds from the event support BCDA’s programs for seniors.

Every moment spent exercising is time well spent. If you don’t know how to get started exercising, and you are over 60 years of age, the Baltimore County Department of Aging provides wonderful opportunities to engage in fitness and wellness activities. To explore these options, visit

For more information on the “Get Ready! Get Set! Get Fit! 5K Run-Walk/1 Mile Walk” or senior center fitness programming, call 410-887-2040 or visit To register for the Run/Walk, visit

Amelia Boynton remembered as the ‘Rosa Parks’ of Selma Movement

— Amelia Boynton Robinson, who died Wednesday in Montgomery, Ala. at the age of 104, is being praised as the ‘Rosa Parks’ of the Selma voting rights movement.

Mrs. Boynton, as she was known throughout the movement, had been hospitalized since suffering a stroke in July. She was a courageous voting rights crusader who was brutally beaten on “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the first leg of the Selma to Montgomery, Ala. March that provided the impetus for passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

She and her late husband, Sam Boynton, opened their home to Atlanta-based voting rights organizers representing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also conducted many of his strategy sessions in the Boynton home.

“Dr. Boynton was the straw that stirred the drink. She was a major catalyst in the Selma to the Montgomery march,” said Charles Steele, Jr., president and CEO of SCLC, the organization co-founded by Dr. King. “She helped start and more importantly, bring attention to ‘Bloody Sunday’ and her strength, courage and tenacity helped make Selma the historical icon that we know today. Dr. Boynton was to Selma what Rosa Parks was to Montgomery,” a reference to the African American seamstress whose refusal to give up her seat to a White patron ignited the 1955 Montgomery, Ala. Bus Boycott that propelled King to national fame.

President Barack Obama, who was with the wheelchair-bound Boynton in March to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March, also praised the civil rights warrior.

“Fifty years ago, she marched in Selma, and the quiet heroism of those marchers helped pave the way for the landmark Voting Rights Act,” he said in a statement. “But for the rest of her life, she kept marching – to make sure the law was upheld, and barriers to the polls torn down. And America is so fortunate she did.”

Obama added, “To honor the legacy of an American hero like Amelia Boynton requires only that we follow her example – that all of us fight to protect everyone’s right to vote.”

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), whose skull was cracked in Selma on “Bloody Sunday,” said: “This nation has lost a crusader, a warrior, and a fighter for justice. She was one of the most dependable, reliable leaders to stand up for the right to vote in Selma, Alabama and in the American South.”

He continued, “Amelia Boynton was fearless in the face of brutal injustice, willing to risk all she had on the frontlines of change in America. She was arrested, shoved and pushed in front of the Dallas County courthouse by sheriff Jim Clark. She was knocked down on Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as 600 of us attempted to march to Montgomery to dramatize the dire need for voting rights legislation in this country.”

Comptroller Peter Franchot encourages enrollment in College Savings Plans of Maryland

Comptroller Peter Franchot joined the College Savings Plans of Maryland on a visit to the Annapolis Regional Library to stress the significant financial benefits and tax advantages of utilizing college savings accounts. As students head back to school this week, the Comptroller encouraged families to save in one or both of the State of Maryland’s two 529 college savings plans: the Maryland Prepaid College Trust and the Maryland College Investment Plan.

Franchot, who serves as a member of the College Savings Plans of Maryland Board, highlighted the importance of establishing a college savings strategy to reduce or even eliminate the need to borrow money in the future to pay for higher education expenses. The rising cost of a college education has sparked the need for families to start saving early and Maryland’s two 529 plans can be a great option to ultimately lower the burden of student loan debt, which has ballooned to exceed 1.2 trillion nationally.

“In today’s knowledge-based economy, a college education has become an increasingly important to future success,” said Comptroller Franchot. “For years, the College Savings Plans of Maryland has played a vital role in helping families attain higher education with significant tax advantages. With the increasing cost of tuition, now is the best time for parents to begin saving for future education expenses by enrolling in one of Maryland’s 529 Plans.”

Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who chairs the College Savings Plans Board added, “CSPM is committed to making a college education attainable by providing all of Maryland’s families with affordable ways to save for college. Our plans are structured to offer many flexible savings choices that optimally help families to cut the cost of college in half by saving versus borrowing.”

The College Savings Plans of Maryland offers two 529 college savings plans, the Maryland Prepaid College Trust and the Maryland College Investment Plan. The Maryland Prepaid College Trust gives families an opportunity to lock in tomorrow’s tuition at today’s prices and is backed by the assurance of a Maryland Legislative Guarantee. The next enrollment period for the Prepaid Trust will begin on December 1, 2015 and runs through April 20, 2016.

The Maryland College Investment Plan enrollment is open year-round and is managed by T. Rowe Price. The College Investment Plan offers a variety of investment options and families can start with as little as a $25 per month with automatic deductions. Both plans offer attractive federal and Maryland State tax benefits and can be used at nearly any accredited college in the country.

Ravens starting offense back on track in dress rehearsal but reserves struggle

The Baltimore Ravens are a team that is known for having depth on their roster. That depth is something that is becoming a concern for them now. The third preseason game is known as a dress rehearsal for the starters. They got off to a good start, taking a 10 – 0 lead in the first quarter. Things got ugly when the reserves came in. Timmy Jernigan (knee), Ryan Jensen (concussion) and DeAngelo Tyson (shoulder) all suffered injuries.

Head coach John Harbaugh spoke about how he expects the reserves to go out and play as well as the guy in front of them. He pointed out that sometimes they do so and sometimes they don’t. Tonight was one of those nights when they didn’t.

“They have been challenged, have seen a lot of growth,” Harbaugh said. “A lot of guys are playing probably a little ahead of where they are on the depth chart, in terms of the ‘twos’ playing with the ‘ones’ the last couple of weeks, and the ‘threes’ playing with.”

Steve Smith Sr. and Joe Flacco connected on a 63 yard play for a touchdown which put the Ravens out to an early lead. The Ravens were able to score on the next two scoring drives as well. Smith was ejected after a fight ensued when the Ravens reacted to Kamar Aiken being driven to the ground head first after making a catch. There were numerous scuffles that broke out, but Smith and Redskins corner Chris Culliver carried on longer than everyone else. As a result, they both were ejected.

Harbaugh had some choice words for Redskins head coach Jay Gruden during the melee as well. He said that there was something said on the Redskins sideline. Whatever was said drew a reaction from the fiery Harbaugh. Harbaugh was on the field initially to break up the fight because he felt that the referees weren’t calming the situation down quickly.

Matt Schaub came in late in the second quarter and struggled mightily. Joe Flacco came out a bit earlier than anticipated. Flacco had a brief explanation for why Schaub may have struggled early. “I felt bad for Matt [Schaub], because he had no idea,” Flacco said. “The plan was for at least me to play through the half, maybe come out in the third quarter. I kind of felt bad for Matt, just throwing him out there, because he wasn’t warmed up or loose.”

Schaub was able to complete three out of seven passes for 17 yards and was intercepted once. The interception came on an ill-advised sideline throw. He was trying to get throw the ball away to avoid the sack but didn’t get enough on the throw resulting in an interception by Jackson Jeffcoat.

The Ravens reserve offensive line got pushed around. Jeffcoat was able to beat Jah Reid off the edge and register a sack/fumble. It was very difficult for them to get anything going in the running game also. The team was really trying to get a look at Buck Allen and Terrence Megee since top back up running back Lorenzo Taliaferro went down and will be out for a few weeks. Allen fumbled on the goal line just before he hit pay dirt and Marlon Brown recovered it in the end zone. The play was ruled down at the spot that Allen fumbled because an offensive player can’t advance a fumble into the end zone for a touchdown.

The trouble started in the second quarter for the Ravens defense. Kirk Cousins, starting in place of the injured Robert Griffin III took the Redskins 64 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown came on a Cousins pass intended for Andre Roberts. The high pass sailed on Cousins and bounced off of the outstretched hands of Roberts into Jamison Crowder’s grasp in the end zone.

Things continued to spiral out of control from that point. Colt McCoy came in and was very efficient for the Redskins. He completed ten of his 12 pass attempts for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Both of the touchdowns went to wide receiver Rashad Ross. Ross beat Asa Jackson on one touchdown and Tray Walker on the second.

Walker had a tough day against the Redskins. He is making the jump from a small school to the NFL. It’s a learning process and he understands that. “Every game is a learning step. You learn every day in football,” Walker said. Harbaugh said that he would like to see Walker play with confidence in coverage because he has an abundance of ability.

The rookie corner agreed with his coach but pointed out a more specific area where he wants to improve. “Being able to adapt, it’s confidence, but I have to get used to the game play and everything. I need to work on the situational downs, understanding what will happen if it’s first and ten or third and two, I have to know what’s going to happen at that point in the game.”

The Ravens will hit the road to wrap up the preseason against the Atlanta Falcons next week. There are jobs on the line and the reserves will be given their chance to shine.

Prominent surgeon Keiffer Mitchell Sr. dies at 73

Keiffer Mitchell Jr. remembers fondly the early morning telephone calls his dad would make to him daily. And every evening, Mitchell Jr. would call his dad.

“In our society when we hear so many negative things about African-American males and fatherhood I was blessed to have for 47 years an awesome father and son relationship and a man as a dad who took us to school every day, who went to our school meetings, and attended all of our athletics and extra-curricular school events,” Mitchell said, just one week after his legendary father and prominent surgeon Keiffer Mitchell Sr. died after a brief illness at the age of 73.

“It wasn’t a day in our lives where we didn’t think he loved us,” Mitchell Jr. said. “He did all the things dads are supposed to but he went above and beyond that.”

The younger Mitchell recalled how his dad regularly made time for each of his three children, Mitchell Jr.; Kelly Mitchell Newhouse; and Kathleen Mitchell. He also proved to be a beloved husband to wife, Nannette Mitchell.

“When the weekends would come and my dad had to work, he’d get up early and take us with him to work so that he would still be able to spend time with him,” Mitchell said.

The elder Mitchell, a gastrointestinal surgeon, was the son of Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., a leader in the civil rights movement and a lobbyist for the NAACP.

The elder Mitchell was the first black student to enroll at Gwynns Falls Junior High School after the 1954 Supreme Court decision that ended segregation. He then attended Lincoln University and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, before opening a doctor’s office back home in Baltimore.

Mitchell also was the first black doctor to serve on the Johns Hopkins University medical school admissions committee.

The doctor is credited with saving countless lives and helping to extending the life of many others.

“His legacy to the family is his kindness and sense of decency. But, it is also the gift of art that he left and his medicine,” Mitchell Jr. said.

“The number of people who are still alive who had bad news delivered to them and he came in and helped to save them is also his legacy,” he said. “I run into patients who were told that they were going to die and that was ten years ago. People have discovered tumors on their colon and my dad was able to get in there and save their lives. There are hundreds of people walking around because my father saved their life.”

As grateful as his patients were, Mitchell was equally indebted to them, his son said.

“One of the things I’m most proud of was that he and my mom put me and my two sisters through college without taking out any loans,” Mitchell Jr. said.

“They struggled but he didn’t believe in taking out loans for school that would saddle us with debt. He didn’t take many vacations and worked harder and always said that he paid full freight.

“But, one of the rules when we graduated was that he would frame our diplomas and hang it in his waiting room for one year so that his patients could see them. He would hang them with a sign that said ‘Thank You’ to the patients for helping me put my children through college.”

Despite his immense success in medicine and the notoriety he held in the community, Mitchell never pressured his children to achieve what he had.

“He was very good at letting us be who we wanted to be,” his son said. “He wanted us to be the best at whatever we did. I never felt pressure to follow in his footsteps because he wanted us to follow our passion because he followed his.”

Even though he faced racial injustice early on, Mitchell deflected any talk of being a community leader.

“His philosophy was to give everything you can and, whatever you do, always help the community or humanity,” Mitchell Jr. said. “He would bristle if you said he’s part of the community because when he said help the community, to him it was help humanity, he

didn’t care if you were black, white or of a different nationality.”

RAMBLING ROSE: Arch Social Club is alive with entertainment

Van Fields are headliners with First Class, Baltimore’s own premier group and Boo’ne and Zo, at the Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday, August 29, 2015 from 8 p.m. to midnight. For ticket information, call 443-552-8048.

Van Fields are headliners with First Class, Baltimore’s own premier group and Boo’ne and Zo, at the Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday, August 29, 2015 from 8 p.m. to midnight. For ticket information, call 443-552-8048.

D&J Entertainment presents “Classic Soul Saturdays” on Saturday, August 29, 2015 from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Arch Social Club located at 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue featuring Van Fields’ Stylistics, First Class and Boo’ne and Zo. Cash bar and BYOB or food is on sale. For more information, call 443-525-2715.

The Rollex Band will be performing at the “Friday Night in All White Forum Club Series” on Friday, August 28, 2015 from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Forum Caterers on Primrose Avenue. So please dress all in white and enjoy a wonderful evening at the Forum. For tickets, call 410-358-1101.

The Rollex Band will be performing at the “Friday Night in All White Forum Club Series” on Friday, August 28, 2015 from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Forum Caterers on Primrose Avenue. So please dress all in white and enjoy a wonderful evening at the Forum. For tickets, call 410-358-1101.

Also mark your calendar for the Maryland State Fair August 28 through September 7. It will run a full 11 days with midway rides for children and adults, food vendors, agriculture exhibits, horse racing, concerts, livestock and horse shows and much more. The fair is held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, located at 2200 York Road in Timonium, Maryland.

Continue to mark your calendar for this one; Carlos Hutchins, renowned night club promoter, is celebrating 20 years in the marketing and promotional business on Sunday, August 30, 4-9 p.m. at the Forum Caterers, 4210 Primrose Avenue. The entertainment line-up includes: Elliott Levine, Rollex Band, Slagz Band, Ms. Sasshey, MC Booze Band and Isaac Parham band. This event will be hosted by Doresa Harvey, the Gospel Diva from Heaven 600 and honors: Tony & Michael the owners of Corinthian Restaurant and Lounge, Michael Haynie of the Holiday Inn Belmont; Mary & Myra Hendricks of Sista’s Place; Dante Daniels and Candes of Maceo’s and Coin’s Seafood & Grill; Donna & Chuck Montgomery of Johnson’s Lounge; Valerie Fraling and Rosa Pryor of the Afro-American Newspaper and the Baltimore Times newspapers; Charles “Rudy” Faison of “DipNic”, Tony Randall of Phaze 10 Restaurant and Lounge, Carl Beasley of Poet’s Athletic Club and so many more. I suggest to you very strongly, don’t miss this one. For ticket information, call 410-448-0033 or 443-963-5711.

There are a couple of blues events coming up I want to share with you. First of all, for those of you who really know me, know that I am a strong fan and lover of the blues and Motown R&B music. So, I am looking forward to the DC Blues Festival on Saturday, September 5 from 12 noon until 7:30 p.m. It will be held at the Carter Barron Amphitheater, 16th Street & Colorado Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. I am really excited about the festival this year as I am every year. The line up includes Sharrie Williams, Princess of Rockin’ Gospel Blues. She is a three-time Blues Music Awards Nominee and international performer, trained in jazz, gospel and drama. Although she credits KoKo Taylor, Etta James and Aretha Franklin as influences, her style is all her own. Also in the lineup; James Armstrong (Ambassador of the Blues); Full Power Blues (formerly known as The D.C. Blues Society Band); Jackson & Oziel (2014 D.C. Blues Society Solo-Duo Competition Winner); The Mojo Priests (2014 D.C. Blues Society Battle of the Bands Winner), just to name a few. For more information go to

Leaving the blues party for a minute, but still in Washington, DC,, I want to mention that my good friends John Lamkin “Favorites” Jazz Quartet will entertain you on Wednesday, September 9 at the “Jazz and Blues Cultural Society, 2813 12th Street NE in Washington, DC from 6-9 p.m. with Todd Simon on organ, Jessie Moody on drums, Mike Hariston on saxophone and John on trumpet and flugelhorn. For more information, email John at:

Let’s go shopping! There will be a “Fall Expo” on Wednesday, September 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the State Office Complex, 201 W. Preston Street. It will be the ultimate shopping experience. Vendors will have clothes, hats, gloves, jewelry, shoes, pocket books, arts and crafts, CD’s, food, just lots and lots of everything including “Rambling Rose” books; both of them, yes, I will be there too, doing a book signing. It is free and open to the public. There are spaces for more vendors, just call 410-787-8376 or go to

Meet me at Mike Jones “Old School All White Virgo Cabaret” on Sunday, September 13 from 5-9 p.m. at the Patapsco Arena, 3301 Annapolis Road. BYOF and cash bar; live entertainment by the Rollex Band and music by DJ Mike Jones and DJ TC Flash, “Rambling Rose” will also be there for a book signing, cash, check or charge will be accepted. For ticket information, call 443-525-5016.

Curator, Stuart Hudgins will host “Billie Holiday’s Life in Music”, which will start on Sunday, September 6, and will run until October 3, 2015 at the Eubie Blake Center on Howard Street. The exhibit is a part of a series of celebratory events marking the centennial year of the great jazz vocalist Billie Holliday in her hometown of Baltimore. The interactive exhibition allows visitors to view photos and rare film clips of Billie Holiday’s performances and interviews and to listen to her music recordings. Holiday was born on April 7, 1915 and raised in Baltimore. Her Baltimore years are fundamental to her career in music. For more information, contact Stuart Hudgins at 443-925-8771 or email:

My goodness, I believe I am out of space, Remember, if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Ravens Rookie WR Daniel Brown’s work ethic makes underdog a standout

Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Daniel Brown has made steady progress since the start of organized team activities this year. Making the jump from James Madison University to the NFL is not an easy task. However, this isn’t the first time that Brown has been faced with having to adjust to a larger arena.

Brown played high school football at Isle of Wight Academy, which is located in the “757 area code,” an area in Virginia known for producing NFL players such as Michael Vick, Russell Wilson, Kam Chancellor and Michael Robinson. He takes pride in being from the area.

“My teammates in college used to give me a hard time because I am from the 757,” Brown said. “I am from kind of the outskirts of that area. There’s a ton of talent that comes from that area so there’s a reputation that has to be lived up to.”

Brown helped the small school win three-consecutive state championships from 2005 – 2007. He was named first-team All-State as a senior. Brown stood out on the baseball field also, earning first-team All-State and All-conference honors as a senior playing first base.

While at Isle of Wight Academy, Brown became known as the school’s “Mr. Athlete.” He played forward on the basketball team and was known for being able to dunk on his opponent and also be a threat from three-point range. He earned first-team All-State and All-Conference honors as a junior and senior.

His time on the basketball court, specifically playing in the low post has helped Brown on the football field.

“A lot of playing in the post has to do with being a receiver. It’s like going up for a rebound. It’s all about timing and getting the ball at the highest point,” Brown said. “In football, if it’s a fade in the end zone or a deep ball, timing and using my size to my advantage is important. Playing basketball has helped a lot with that.”

Despite his many high school accomplishments, Brown didn’t receive many offers from colleges. He wanted to attend James Madison because of their business school, which is one of the best in the country. The fact that he could get a high-class education and play football was a big factor in his decision to attend. He won the Colonial Athletic Association Commissioner’s Academic Award while majoring in computer information systems.

Brown earned a scholarship one year after walking onto the football team. Brown’s contributions increased every year after redshirting as a freshman. He appeared in 39 games at James Madison and recorded 91 receptions for 1,450 yards including 17 touchdowns.

Unfortunately, Brown was stuck in a similar situation when his college career ended. He proved that he was a difference maker while in college but didn’t attract a lot of attention from those at the next level. Just as he did before, Brown rose to the occasion. This time it was at his pro day in front of NFL scouts. The scouts were impressed with his size (6’-5’ and 227 pounds) and his quickness (4.19 short shuttle). The fact that he caught every pass thrown his way certainly helped as well.

The Ravens showed the most interest and brought him into mini-camp. The big receiver is learning how to better use his body to win in his routes and at the catch point. He was able to string together some solid practices last week when the team had joint sessions with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The success trickled over to game day when Brown made his first catch as a pro, a 28-yard touchdown. Apparently, Brown has a thing for making a splash first impression. His first catch, as a college player was a 41-yard touchdown against North Carolina.

Brown has the right mentality when it comes to approaching this opportunity.

“You don’t know how many reps you’re going to get, so you have to make the most of the ones that you get. If they throw your way, you have to catch it,” Brown said. “I’ve improved at getting off the line, using my hands against press which is big in this league. The veterans, especially Steve Smith have told me to be physical at the line and to use my size against press.”

It is important for players in his situation to get good plays on film. Brown knows that he is being evaluated on every play and has to make plays in order to make the 53-man roster. It’s clear that he and third string quarterback Bryn Renner are developing a nice connection from working together so much in practice. The touchdown catch against the Eagles was an example of that connection. Quarterbacks usually don’t throw the ball to a receiver when he is covered and has a safety lurking in the area.

The biggest thing that he had to adjust to was the speed of the defenses. Everyone is fast in the NFL. Brown says that he only focuses on what he can control. For that reason, he goes out and puts in the hard work every day. The attack work ethic displayed by Brown on the football field is fueled by the people who have doubted him.

“I feel like coming from high school, walking into college and then coming to Baltimore, I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. Not in a nasty way,” Brown said. “I’ve always had a certain work ethic. People have counted me out, kind of like an underdog guy. I want to prove people wrong.”

That work ethic is something that stood out to Baltimore Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman.

“He [Brown] is one of those guys that continues to work every day. He comes in, works hard like the rest of the guys. The level of competition has allowed him to accelerate his growth in the offense and in his individual play.”

Bobby’s Burger Palace opens in Towson

Local burger lovers have a new spot to add to their foodie list. Bobby’s Burger Palace (BBP) opened on July 28, 2015 at 515 Virginia Avenue in Towson Square.

The restaurant features burgers that are inspired by Chef Bobby Flay. Diners can expect to choose from specialty creations cooked with certified Angus beef, ground turkey or whole chicken breast. Along with other meaty selections, the Philadelphia Burger, Carolina Burger, Brunch Burger, L.A. Burger, Dallas Burger and BBP’s Crunchburger® reflect Flay’s travels throughout America and his love of comfort food.

Any burger can be cooked to order. Burgers can be “Crunchified,” by topping them with crisp chips, at no additional charge. Sides include hand-cut French fries with BBP Fry Sauce, sweet potato fries with honey mustard horseradish sauce and buttermilk onion rings. Milkshake fans may choose from 10 exotic options like blueberry-pomegranate with or without real whipped cream. Salads and sandwiches are adorned with BBP’s unique touches, too. The Topless Burger Salad combines balsamic dressing with any burger served on top of baby greens.

Laurence Kretchmer is Flay’s business partner who oversees the BBP chain. He explained that BBP is not a fast-food dive. How does he feel that it differs from most local burger joints?

“The food is made with only the best ingredients. Every meal is cooked to order…like you go into a bigger restaurant and ask, ‘How would you like your burger cooked?’ Our burgers are cooked rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, well-done, however a guest likes it,” Kretchmer said. “The options are very different. It’s the only burger chain that we know of which is absolutely chef-driven where every recipe is created by a world-class or world-famous chef. The level of hospitality that we provide, where we have an inexpensive price point, we offer a higher level of service that we try to make it a more comfortable, accessible place, but keeping that value of things front and center always.”

BBP Towson includes indoor seating for 65 guests and space for 24 on an outdoor terrace. The restaurant is open from Sunday to Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Kretchmer says that BPP is a great spot for friends to gather, a place for guys to leave the office and grab a bite to eat, or buddies to get together after work. However, it is a very family-friendly place.

“There is no alcohol here. We do that on purpose. We want to keep it light and friendly,” Kretchmer said. “I imagine on the weekends, you will see a lot more families in here. We have a special deal for kids where you can get a burger, fries and a drink for less than the price of any our burgers alone that an adult would get.”

There are 19 BBP locations throughout the country. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz welcomed BBP to Towson Square, which is the newest dining and entertainment district in the heart of Towson, Maryland, anchored by a state-of-the-art 15-screen Cinemark Theatre. Before his visit, Kamenetz proposed the idea of adding a finishing touch.

“We need a Towson Burger on your menu, and it could be all Baltimore County homegrown ingredients,” Kamenetz said on opening day. “It’s a perfect time to make that Towson Burger on the map. It’ll be a great seller, so see ya soon.”