Dock of the Bay

Volume VII Number 23
June 10-19, 1999


  • Bring on the Clones: For Liberty Gene Jockeys Go Out on a Limb
  • At Tracey's Landing, a New PO Brings 'Em In
  • In TGIF Olympics, Bartenders Pour It On
  • Way Downstream ...

  • Bring on the Clones: For Liberty Gene Jockeys Go Out on a Limb
    photos by Mary Catherine Ball Comptroller William Donald Schaefer clips a sample from Annapolis' Liberty Tree for cloning.

    Maryland is relying on the wizardry of genetic sciences to carry its past into the new millennium.

    Some 200 years ago, the Sons of Liberty gathered under the Maryland Liberty Tree to create the United States of America. Their meeting point - a tulip poplar on St. John's College campus - was already a 200 year-old giant over 50 feet tall.

    The Liberty Tree still stands, bigger than ever at 60 feet wide and 96 high.

    State archivist Edward Papenfuse called the tree a shelter to liberty. "Under its branches, successive generations of St. John's students have debated and discussed the great books of the world, held their commencements and for recreation have battled the Navy with croquet mallets and wooden balls," he said.

    Last week, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, the Maryland 2000 committee and scientists met under that same old tree to give it immortality.

    Most tulip poplars live only 300 years, at the oldest. Maryland's Liberty tree won't live forever, and when it dies, we will lose one more link with our past.

    Except that we live in an age of wonders. Scientists in our time believe they have succeeded where aspiring generations before them failed: they believe they hold the secret of genetic immortality.

    Last week's gathering promised immortality to Maryland's Liberty tree via cloning. Cloning ensures the complete transfer of genes from the Liberty Tree to its offspring, all of which will be its genetic twins.

    Comptroller Schaefer had a special role in the stage-managed miracle. Riding in a cherry picker, he rose to the lowest branch of the Liberty Tree to take cuttings. The cuttings were preserved in liquid nitrogen for the ride to the University of Maryland.

    Scientists at the college of agriculture there have three chances for success.

    First, they'll try to root the cuttings. If this fails, they feed the shoots growth hormones to stimulate buds to root in the greenhouse.

    If their craft works, each of the original 13 colonies is promised a Liberty clone. At last week's ceremony, each received a promisory plaque with a relief print of a Liberty Tree leaf and the MD 2000 commission symbol.

    If it works, our past will be always with us, to inspire those with eyes to see history.

    William Donald Schaefer is one of those.

    "Yesterday I stood under this tree," the former governor and Baltimore mayor told New Bay Times. "I thought about the young people who were standing under the tree at that time, wondering if they looked out and said this is a wonderful place, America."

    -Mary Catherine Ball

    At Tracey's Landing, a New PO Brings 'Em In
    photo by Ed Becke

    You can get everything you want at Tracys Landing's new P.O.

    There's stamps of many faces and every denomination in sheets, books and rolls, self-sticking and those that need licking. There's 24-hour box service and mail service. There's money orders and mailing tubes and merchandise - from love notes to Looney Tunes neckties. There's hot and cold running water and modern toilets for the staff.

    There is, in sum, 2,100 square feet of thoroughly modern, brick- and glass-enclosed space, designed for utility and the comfort of all comers. Tracys Landing (spelled by postal custom without an 'e' or apostrophe in Tracey's) has come a long way from the trailer of yore, yore being about a month ago.

    June 2, you could have gotten even more.

    On that perfect morning, you could have had breakfast: huge blueberry or banana nut muffins, donut holes, fresh fruit salad, juice and coffee. You could have visited with most of your neighbors, old-timers and new, from Tracey's Elementary's fifth grade choir to nonagenarians to postmasters current and retired from the whole 207- postal region.

    You could have shaken hands with most any politician with a foot or toe in the Tracys district. Congressman Steny Hoyer, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Del. George Owings, County Executive Janet Owens and Anne Arundel County Councilman John Klocko all turned out, beaming, joking, back patting and speechifying.

    What with visiting, speechs and synchronized ribbon cutting - six pairs of scizzors at one time - you could have had your day's entertainment before 9am.

    If you were a stranger driving by or in too much of a hurry to stop in, you might have wondered what all the fuss was about. You might have missed not only the party but also the point.

    In the words of Del. George Owings: "Today we dedicate much more than a post office. We dedicate a community center of sorts, a place where people meet, greet and share more than a passing glance."

    Such a gathering point is "unique these days, when instead of getting out together and doing things, people are on the internet," added Congressman Steny Hoyer.

    On that special day a community celebrated its everyday gathering point. Point made.


    In TGIF Olympics, Bartenders Pour It On
    photo by Christopher Heagy

    With a stack of money and a trip to the regional finals in Virginia at stake, seven bartenders at TGIFridays, Annapolis, squared off in the annual June Bartender Olympics. They twirled bottles like batons, stacked glasses, shook, rattled and poured, all in hopes of creating the perfect cocktail.

    Juggling bottles and making drinks was just the highlight of a long competition.

    "This is like a Miss America Pageant. Customers get to see us throwing the bottles around, but so much goes on that they don't see. There is a full day of competition," said eventual winner Priscilla Behr.

    The contest in all aspects of bartending started before cocktail hour at 10am. Recipe tests challenged the contestants to remember everything from how the drink is made to what it is garnished with to the glass it's served in.

    Later, drink orders were spouted out to bartenders who had to calculate the price combinations in their heads. Wine services and pour tests challenged their technical skills. There was even a quiz on current events to make sure each bartender could start and carry on a conversation.

    But the real fun started at 7pm. Each bartender greeted the four judges, took their drink order and tried to impress the crowd with aerial tricks and quick wit.

    "Fridays teaches you how to make the drinks, but they don't train you in flair," bartender Steve Shaffer said. "There's friendly competition between the bartenders to outdo each other."

    As well as correctness of each recipe, the difficulty and originality of each routine was taken into account. Bartenders were penalized for a few dropped bottles.

    The routines showed that personality goes a long way in bartending.

    "Personality, personality, personality is the most important thing in bartending," stressed bar manager Jatinder Dua. "We can teach anyone how to make drinks, the technical aspects and everything else. But personality separates bartenders."

    The Bartender Olympics benefitted a good cause. Drinks were auctioned off through the night. So was other merchandise, from a huge cooler on wheels to an oak cigar humidor. These competitions are part of a chain-wide effort to raise money - at least $1,000 per Fridays - for the Children's Miracle Network. Proceeds went to the Johns Hopkins Children Center.

    "The Bartender Olympics helps create an atmosphere of fun at Fridays. It's fun for the customers to watch and it's fun for the bartenders to compete," said general manager Gretchen Tolmer. "It helps make Fridays part of the community while giving something back to the community."

    The event raised $1,045 for the Children's Miracle Network. For a fun night filled with flying bottles, spilt liquor, a few broken glasses, a lot of good bartending and tasty beverages, that's a good check.

    -Christopher Heagy

    Way Downstream ...

    Along the Atlantic Coast, wildlife biologists are alarmed that so many osprey chicks are perishing. In two years, the number of surviving offspring per-nest has declined from 1.5 to 0.6, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. One reason: The birds are not getting enough food ...

    In Delaware, farmers will share $8 million over the next 15 years for planting grass and trees in a volunteer federal program announced last week ...

    In Arizona, Roy McAlister's '79 Dodge pick-up can't pass emission inspection because it runs on clean-burning hydrogen. Every time he goes through, the computer spits out "void," the Arizona Republic reports. But that's better than a few years ago, when he was arrested for tampering with pollution control equipment ...

    Our Creature Feature comes to us from Florida, where a border collie named Jet was brought in to herd birds that have become hazards on the runways at Southwest Florida International Airport.

    Jet is doing okay with the birds, but airport authorities wish he hadn't chosen to expand his job description. When there are no birds to marshal into order, Jet has been turning his attention to the alligators that frequent the airport's ponds, USA Today reports.

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    Volume VII Number 23
    June 10-16, 1999
    New Bay Times

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