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Job by job, we keep our world turning

Sunny, sandy and salty from vacation, I’m ready to go back to work.
    I hope you, too, have had the kind of summer that returns you to your labor with love. I hope you had days and nights of fun, oceans of swimming, miles of hiking and biking, new horizons of sights and sounds — plus a good stretch of thoughtless time, vacationing your hard-working brain.
    Labor Day plus one will bring me back to Bay Weekly glad — as the poet Dylan Thomas wrote — “to sing in my chains like the sea.”
    In hoping the same for you, I am not beyond self-interest.
    Before my day starts, I’ve depended on you in so many ways that enumerating them makes my head spin.
    I wake up having depended for eight hours on the mattress maker, the cotton grower and pickers, the dyers, weavers, fabric designers, the geese and their down-pluckers — not to mention the truckers, shippers, buyers, sellers, entrepreneurs, merchants and ad writers who brought those goods to me.
    That’s before I’ve touched my feet on soon-to-be-replaced carpet whose fabrication is a mystery, though seller and carpet-layers linger in my memory. Beneath it is an equally mysterious pad resting on plywood framing milled and laid by whom I don’t know.
    Before my feet are in my German-made wool-felt slippers, I’m in debt to all the people who laid the floors of my house down to the dug-out basement, laid drainage, plumbed, wired, poured concrete, framed, insulated, paneled, dry walled, painted — and contrived from nature and craft all the materials therein. I have well-diggers and septic system installers and the engineers who designed those systems to thank, too.
    By now, I’m paralyzed. I don’t dare get dressed, for I’ll never be able to count the thousands of hands that filled my closet with clothes and shoes, my dressing table with ointments and cosmetics.
    Head spinning — and quite a few steps skipped — I need a cup of coffee. Thank goodness for the coffee plantations, growers, pickers, graders and Fair Trade regulators, importers, shippers, buyers, roasters who brought that beverage to my lips. Thanks, too, to the cow for half-and-half, the farmer for keeping the cow and the dairy buyer all the way through the grocery store checker. At least I don’t use sugar in my coffee.
    I don’t dare fetch my morning Washington Post, lest the thanks I have to give for its creation and delivery — not to mention Mr. Bezos — take me way past my weekly space allotment for this letter.
    What this all amounts to, dear reader, is that every day is Labor Day.
    Today I give you thanks for the jobs you’ve done.
    Turn the page to meet 20 more working people, all Chesapeake Country neighbors, in their own words.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

You’ll have to be as high as Mike to enjoy this stoner comedy

Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg: The End of the Tour) is a loser. Ambitionless, he works a dead-end job managing a convenience store and suffers from a plethora of phobias. The only bright spots in this life are Mike’s endlessly understanding girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart: Still Alice) and the mountains of marijuana he smokes each day.
    The action begins with words mumbled by a convenience store customer. Mike thinks the pot has addled his brain, but when two men attempt to kill him, he surprises himself by handily dispatching them with a spoon.
    Mike is in fact a newly activated and expertly trained CIA operative. As ruthless killers come to town town, he must remember his training, protect his girlfriend and save his skin. That’s a tall order for a man who can’t cook an omelet without a joint in his hand.
    Violent, poorly written and featuring unbelievable performances, American Ultra is so ridiculous it’s almost as funny as it wants to be. Obsessed with the slick and stylish, director Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) has made a movie as consequential as a car commercial. Action is frenetic, editing is choppy and stylized — and neither serves the story.
    Neither straightforward action film in Bourne style nor gonzo action comedy like Pineapple Express, American Ultra languishes in limbo. It is not innovative enough to be a gory action comedy and not restrained enough to be a classical shoot-’em-up. Like Mike, it has no ambition and nothing of interest to say.
    Characters are stereotypes, impersonal and uninteresting. As Mike, Eisenberg has the look and idiotic dialog of a stoner, and he acts the part. His attacks are slow, his strikes lack force and his hair hangs in his eyes.
    The relationship with Stewart’s Phoebe is only slightly less believable than this loser’s being able to find a spoon, let alone kill with it. Stewart and Eisenberg display no chemistry.
    The only person who escapes American Ultra unscathed is Walton Goggins (Justified), who plays Laugher, a psychotic soldier tasked with killing Mike. Goggins, who has decades of experience playing underwritten weirdoes, has learned how to make even the barest character interesting.

Poor Action Movie • R • 95 mins.

These sensitive trees show you air pollution in action

If your Heritage birch is dropping yellow leaves, blame it on the Orange Alert of early August. Heritage birch is a clone of river birch, which is highly sensitive to both ozone and sulfur dioxide. Both of these gasses are present in an Orange Alert.
    An Orange Alert is announced to warn the elderly and people with pulmonary disorders to remain indoors in air-conditioning and minimize outdoor activities until the alert is lifted. Heritage birch, the deciduous trees most sensitive to air pollutants, have no choice but to remain in place and try to survive.
    Maple, oak, cherry, apple, dogwood and other tree species are not affected.
    Only older leaves are yellowing and dropping. Younger leaves closer to the ends of the branches are remaining green, and the trees are producing new leaves at the ends of the branches.
    Age is the cause of the leaf drop. The spongy layer of plant cells in leaves converts carbon dioxide into oxygen by absorbing air through small openings called stomata on the underside of birch tree leaves. These stomata are surrounded by guard cells that open and close depending on moisture, time of day and the presence of air pollutants.
    In younger leaves, the guard cells remain very flexible. As soon as they detect air pollutants entering the leaves they close, thus preventing damage to the spongy leaf tissues that absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. However, as leaves age, the guard cells become sluggish and sometimes stop functioning, thus allowing the polluted air to enter and kill the spongy leaf tissues. In other words, the guard cells are not as spry as they once were.
    Once the spongy leaf tissues are killed by the air pollutants, the older leaves react as if they had been damaged by an early frost.
    If the air pollution were to occur at night, it is unlikely the problem would be as severe because the guard cells close at about the same time the sun sets. The damage would be limited to only those leaves where the guard cells are stuck in the open position.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at Please include your name and address.

Osprey and eagles are no fine, feathered friends

Reading by the side of Loden’s Pond in Quiet Waters Park, I was distracted by a considerable racket up above. Three osprey, I saw looking up, were dive-bombing an eagle.
    This year’s baby osprey are still growing. By mid-September, they must be almost fully mature to make their long trip to the Caribbean and the Amazon, where they’ll spend their first two years. As the juveniles are not yet fully grown, they’re an appealing dinner to omnivorous eagles. To short-circuit that meal, mature osprey attack eagles.
    The eagle has a size advantage in its six-foot wingspan over the osprey’s five-foot span. But the osprey is the more maneuverable bird.
    As I watched, the osprey took turns attacking the eagle. As they dove, the eagle rolled over on its back, talons pointed skyward. The aerial battle continued across the pond eastward toward the Hillsmere Shores community. The spectacle, which ­lasted only 30 to 40 seconds, would have made an aerobatic pilot envious.

Finding feeding seabirds will save you time and speed up your catch

The seabirds, scores of them about 100 yards away, were wheeling, screaming and diving. We could see the splashes of fish wildly feeding just under the surface. They were not the explosive strikes of the big stripers we had hoped for, but it was impossible to ignore them.
    Running ahead but well outside of the feeding school, I chopped the skiff’s throttle, turned and eased within casting range. My partner and I flung our lures just to the edge of the action. I was fishing a half-ounce Bass Assassin, and Moe, a half-ounce gold Red Eye Shad.
    Moe’s rod dipped down almost immediately from a strike, and I felt a sharp tap, tap, tap. “Bluefish,” I snorted, “small ones.” I could imagine the toothy little devils reducing my five-inch soft bait to a stub.
    My friend landed, then carefully unhooked a wriggling nine-inch snapper blue from the treble hooks of his crank bait and released it. I pulled the shredded remains of the soft plastic body from my jig head and searched in my box for another to replace it.
    “This is not going to get any better,” I said, looking across the acre or so of small splashes. “Let’s vamoose.”
    Putting the boat up on plane and scanning the horizon, I soon saw another group of working birds about a quarter-mile away.
    Bigger birds, bigger fish.
    “Those are bill gulls over there,” I said. “Maybe we’re in luck.” Ten minutes later we had two fat rockfish thumping on the deck, though neither was a keeper. A few more casts and a look at the fish-finder confirmed the absence of anything approaching the 20-inch minimum, so off we went again.
    Across the Bay and into the distance were several groups of birds working over feeding fish. We had a job to do, and I was glad that I had remembered to top off the gas tank that morning.

How to Catch Them
    Late August is the beginning of fishing for breaking rockfish under birds. A more exciting fishery just does not exist on the Chesapeake. We were following up on reports of a couple of acres of 30-plus-inch fish just off Love Point. We never encountered that school. We did, however, enjoy lots of hook-ups and releases.
    You can do a couple of things to make the most of these opportunities. First, you need a good pair of binoculars; models with image stabilizing are particularly helpful. Scanning the waters to find birds that have located the feeding fish will save you a good bit of time.
    Next, know your birds. Terns and young laughing gulls are the smaller birds you see wheeling about the Bay. They feed almost exclusively on silversides and anchovies. Bigger predator fish will sometimes key on the small baitfish, but this time of year these schools attract mostly smaller rockfish and bluefish.
    Mature laughing gulls are a bit larger, the ring-billed gull larger still, then the herring gull on up to the black-backed gull, the largest of all. When these bigger birds are on the feed, you can bet that the baitfish will be bigger and the game fish chasing them larger as well.
    The very best trophy fish-finders are pelicans and gannets with wingspreads of more than six feet. They’ll be working over the schools of the largest menhaden and the heaviest rockfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel.
    There are other protocols. Never run into the midst of a breaking school. That will put them down and anger anyone else trying to fish them. Turn off your engine while engaging breakers for the same reason, and don’t cast into their midst. You’ll avoid cutoffs from sharp gill plates of rockfish and teeth and abrasive tails of bluefish if you always work the edges.
    If the feeding fish on top are small, go deep. Bigger fish are sometimes on the bottom picking up baitfish injured by the frantic, smaller fish feeding on top.
    Squash your hook barbs if you’re doing a lot of catch and release. It will make things easier for you and the fish.

In a word, sustainability

In Chesapeake Country, newspapers can say, with Mark Twain, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Out and about, you can fill your arms with free paper-and-ink weeklies and special interest magazines, many of them stacked right next to Bay Weekly. What makes us different?
    The answer is sustainability.
    For me, that’s an easy word to define.
    In part, it means that this week you’re reading the 35th edition of Bay Weekly’s 23rd volume, our paper No. 1,133.
    Beyond numbers, sustainability means using what you’ve got so that it lasts.
    By that definition, Bay Weekly lives because you keep reading … because advertisers continue to support us and you to support them … because creative people — writers, proofreaders, salespeople, designers and assorted skills-lenders — continue to invest their time and energy in these pages — and all that synergy keeps the minds, presses and pages turning.
    There’s still more sustainability in these pages.
    For all those issues, over all those years, sustainability has been our subject. In story after story, the common theme is how we citizens of Chesapeake Country use what we’ve got so that there’s always more to draw on, not only for ourselves but for our children and their children, generations to come.
    Not that we’re preaching. Most of the time, you’ll hardly notice the long view enriching the up-close focus of our stories.
    This week, for example, our feature story takes you over the roads we drive. In Caution: Road Work Ahead, I asked contributing writer Diane Burt to take us beyond construction to how all the nuisances we endure as we drive — men at work, big machines, narrowed lanes, rough roadways — keep our roads supporting us. We can throw a lot away in our disposable culture, but not our roads. Once you put one down, it’s there to stay. Sustainability means upgrading our roads so they continue to meet our needs. I’ve made that phrase a mantra to help me keep my cool in five months of driving — and detouring — through roadwork.
    Sustainability is also the theme behind my own story, North Beach Designs Its Future: Four Days to a Plan-in-a-Nutshell.
    At 115 years old, North Beach must constantly redefine itself to keep up with the times and the people who, decade after decade, choose it as their hometown. We’ve watched it for 30 of those years as a close neighbor. The town has been a feature subject since 1993, Bay Weekly’s very first year.
    In that story 22 years ago, old friend Ruth Knack, then executive editor for the American Planning Association’s Planning Magazine, contributed a 12-step recipe for healthy towns.
    So I was fascinated when an American Planning Association team came to town this month to help North Beach refine its formula for sustainability. I found out how, and so will you.
    Long or short, sustainability helps Bay Weekly choose our stories. Sandy Point State Park, you’ll learn this week, is adding the sustainable power of wind and solar energy. Art for Warmth’s Sake, a preview of CalvArt Gallery’s upcoming art show and coat drive, is about sustaining warmth and avoiding waste.
    Sustaining your interest is our best source of staying power. So again this week for the 1,133rd time, we bring you stories that are good to read as well as good for you. That, of course, is thanks to the advertisers who sustain us.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher;

Plant a flower garden and extend your acquaintance

Lantana drew this common buckeye butterfly to Sandra Bell’s Port Republic garden. “Butterflies and hummingbirds love them!” she wrote of this bright, cluster-flowered species of verbena.
    They’re drawn to open, sunny areas with low vegetation and some bare ground. The six eyespots on the buckeye’s wings discourage predators that take if for something bigger. The warmth-loving species lays three broods in the deep South, and some of those progeny reach as far north as Canada.

Two writers edit their own narratives in this excellent drama drawn from life

After publishing Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel: Sex Tape) becomes the golden boy of the literary world. Glowing reviews claim the book is the greatest novel of its generation. Awards are showered on him. Instead of thriving, Wallace retreats from the limelight.
    Meanwhile, struggling novelist and Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg: Rio 2) seethes in jealousy. Even worse, Lipsky must admit that the praise is earned. Fascinated by the mind behind the brainy book, Lipsky pitches a story to his editor: Unearth the man behind the mythos.
    To do so, Lipsky travels to Illinois for the last five days of Wallace’ book tour. Instead of a brilliant intellect, Lipsky finds a quiet man more interested in his dogs than talking about writing.
    A bond forms, and Lipsky gets a glimpse of who’s beneath Wallace’s regular guy armor.
    Based on the true story of Lipsky’s never-published interviews, The End of the Tour is on surface a bit boring. No sex, no violence. Somehow, two guys talking about American culture, women and the stress of writing turns exciting.
    Wallace, who battled depression for years, is a writhing mass of insecurities. He has such strict derogatory ideas about the meaning of success that praise has made him paranoid. He fears being viewed as a fraud.
    Eager to learn from a genius, Lipsky treats the assignment more as enlightenment than investigation. He’s interested in Wallace but too in awe to ask hard questions. When he finally gets the nerve to scrutinize Wallace’s motives, the dynamic shifts.
    To make such a film work, actors have to be on top of their game. Both men inhabit their roles beautifully. Segel pulls off a mesmerizing performance as the troubled, soft-spoken genius whose vital eyes belie the bumpkin he plays for Lipsky. You can see him creating responses that seem both unassuming and smart.
    Eisenberg gives Lipsky natural tenacity that must be tamped down to draw Wallace out. Jealous, in awe and curious, he wants Wallace’s approval. But once he senses a ruse, he digs in, hoping to provoke honesty.
    To film this battle of wits, director James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) keeps his camera unobtrusive, so we feel we’re eavesdropping on the conversation. It’s an effective trick that creates immediacy and tension.
    If you’re interested in Wallace or enjoy heady conversation, The End of the Tour should engage you. Otherwise, watching will be almost as tortuous as slogging through Wallace’s 1,079-page opus.

Good Drama • R • 106 mins.

We have the knowledge but not the will to fix the problem

In a recent fishing trip with residents of the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, we could not help but notice how brown the water appeared even after several miles of boating into Herring Bay. One of the veterans asked why. I explained to him that what he was seeing was mostly clay in suspension.
    Where is it coming from?
    Clay comes from agricultural fields and home gardeners with exposed soils as well as from construction sites.
    “How can it come from construction sites,” he wanted to know, “as they are required to surround such sites with silt fences?”
    Silt fences remove only floating organic waste, sand and silt. They do not remove clay from water flowing through them or nutrients soluble in the water.
    Only two methods effectively remove nutrients and clay from waters penetrating silt fences. The water must be treated in a waste water treatment facility with tertiary water treatment or be passed through compost.
    Research has clearly demonstrated that water filtered through silt fences can be purified by passing the water through a berm of active compost. Because of the negative and positive charges in compost, clay particles are trapped along with nutrients. Growing winter rye in those berms of compost also helps in absorbing nutrients trapped in the compost.
    This information — common knowledge to us researchers — has been presented at many public meetings and published in trade magazines. One company manufactures Filtrex Sox, a mesh tube 12 to 18 inches in diameter and filled with compost. The tube has an apron that forces water to flow through it.
    This information has been presented to highway departments and at contractor meetings without much success. Rebuttals have been “we use bales of straw or mounds of wood-chips” to filter surface water. These methods do not solve the problem of trapping muddy water because neither has positive and negative changes attracting particles and nutrients.
    It’s an old familiar story: Research tells us what must be done, but great resistance rises against new and improved methods. Change comes slowly unless it is made mandatory.
    Enough said.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at Please include your name and address.

Sesame Peanut Butter Noodle Salad

Use kid-favorite peanut butter to upgrade packaged ramen to a cold noodle salad packed full of flavor and great grains, nuts and vegetables.

For the Sesame Peanut Butter Sauce

1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons tasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter or almond butter
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes)
2 tablespoons tamari
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar


For the Noodle Salad

4 ounces gluten-free soba noodles
½ teaspoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 cucumber
1 carrot
4 green onions
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, optional
¼ cup shelled, unsalted peanuts
1 tablespoon sesame seeds


    In a food processor, combine garlic, sesame oil, peanut butter, ginger, lime juice, tamari, sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Process until well combined.
    Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.
    Thinly slice or julienne bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, and green onion. Roughly chop the cilantro, if used, including its soft stems.
    Add bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, green onions, peanuts, cilantro, then peanut sauce to noodles and toss to combine.
    Divide into 4 servings. Individual portions can be frozen; defrost overnight.