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Way Downstream …

Way Downstream comes from Ocean City, where the federal court case over the right of women to go topless may be bare-ly beginning. 

Let us first unveil some facts: Last summer, Ocean City approved an ordinance forbidding women to cast aside their swimsuit tops. 

In January, five women — among them Megan Bryant, of Lothian —- filed lawsuit in a Maryland U.S. District Court challenging the ordinance as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. 

“This lawsuit is about confirming the legal right of women to be bare-chested in public in the same places men are permitted to be bare-chested in public for purposes other than breast-feeding,” the complaint reads. 

The suit observes that it’s normal for men to go shirtless, an “act associated with power, strength and freedom.” 

In the pokey ways of federal civil suits, it was Ocean City’s duty to respond six months later. 

On July 27, the town filed a defense asserting that the women’s Equal Protection Clause argument is faulty because that provision doesn’t say that things that are different should be treated the same. 

The filing refers to the “indisputable difference between the sexes” and the town’s interest to protect public sensibilities, asserting that bare breasts in public “may not be offensive to everyone” but remain “unpalatable” to society. 

The naked truth is that no decision is expected for some time, perhaps not until chill winds have people so bundled up that there’s no way to discern the difference between women and men. 

Sandy Marron of Heritage Harbour collects books for soldiers.  

Operation Paperback, a non-profit founded in 1999, sends shipments of books to military bases all over the world. Marron is one of 19,000 volunteers under the Operation Paperback umbrella.  

The books go to military families, veterans, hospitals and bases overseas. The books help soldiers learn, pass the time or, on deployment, read to their children via webcam. Romance and religious books aren’t accepted.  

Everyone involved with this program is a volunteer, so Operation Paperback is a true non-profit. Each volunteer must find the books, boxes and the money needed to mail the books out. 

“I have worked with this great organization since 2011 and sent out over 16,000 books, puzzle books, men’s magazines and others,” Marron said. 

The Heritage Harbour Woman’s Club, John Taylor Funeral Home, Heritage Harbour Beer Wine and Spirits and Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits help support Operation Paperback. 

To donate, email: [email protected], subject books. 

         On July 26, the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River opened its gates due to flooding and high river flows. By July 29-30, tree limbs, sea grass and trash had reached Spa Creek by way of the Severn River and piled up on the waters of Annapolis Harbor. 

The City of Annapolis’s harbormasters worked hour after hour to clean up the disaster. Now the city is asking volunteers to help haul the mess out.  

“The debris took up almost the whole harbor this morning,” Annapolitan Joe LaScola told Bay Weekly. “But these guys are getting it done. 

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this in 40 years,” said LaScola, a daily visitor to City Dock. 

So, you’re ready to venture into downtown Annapolis. Maybe you’re out for a sunny stroll down Main Street. Maybe you and your friends fancy a night out on the town. Whatever your reason, there’s one thing weighing on your mind: parking.  

Many city-goers avoid parking garages in search of cheaper street parking. Starting this month, the city of Annapolis intends to make garages a sweeter option. 

Heading into town on a Sunday? The Whitmore Parking Garage, on the corner of Calvert and Clay streets, now has free parking every Sunday until 4pm. Later in the afternoon, you can park at Whitmore for just $2. Parking is free all weekend at the Calvert Street Garage, across from St. John’s College. If you’re driving into Annapolis after work during the week, you’ll find free parking after 6pm at the Calvert Street Garage.  

If you’re an Annapolis resident, you can now park for free for two hours at any city-owned parking garage. Pick up your parking pass at 60 West Street for the KnightonGotts and Hillman parking garages.

Way Downstream …

Folks in a fishing village on the Arabian Peninsula definitely had more reason than we did to complain about last week’s heat.

In the town of Quriyat in Oman, the mercury set a record, plunging to 108.7 degrees on the night of June 26, marking the hottest low temperature in recorded history. During the day, it was 121.6 degrees. Those recordings combined to give the town of 50,000 another record, the hottest 24-hour period ever.

The United States still holds the record for the highest temperature on record: 134.1 degrees, recorded on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley, Calif., according to the World Meteorological Association.

Play to remember — and repay

After Michael Schrodel’s early death in 2001, his family and brothers of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity of Frostburg State University hosted a golf tournament to celebrate his life and memory.

“He wanted to give back to organizations that helped him when he was sick,” says his daughter Carmen, a student at James Madison University. “My dad liked to golf, so we figured a golf tournament would be a good way to bring people together for such a great cause.”

In 15 years, the Michael D. Schrodel Golf Classic has raised more than $100,000. All proceeds from the Classic benefit Calvert Hospice and the Michael D. Schrodel Endowed Scholarship Fund at Frostburg, his alma mater. 

As well as supporting causes dear to Schrodel, it is, his daughter says, “such a fun day, a reunion of new and old friends!”

Friday, July 20, at Compass Pointe Golf Course, Pasadena. Sign up to play or sponsor until July 15: https://birdeasepro.com/Event/Register/8885.

SPCA reprises its two-species Cruise on the Bay

Annapolis is one dog-friendly town, from water bowls and treats outside of Main Street stores to events made just for furry friends.

On July 19, Annapolis further appreciates its dogs when the Anne Arundel Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals partners with Watermark Cruises for its sixth dog Cruise on the Bay.

“A cruise,” says Watermark’s Katie Redmiles “because the dogs can get the breeze from the water and we don’t have to worry about problems with getting them into places.”

Dogs and their people board Watermark’s Harbor Queen boat at City Dock to cruise 6:00 to 7:30pm. Both decks are open air, so the dogs have a lot of room.

Half of the ticket price benefits AASPCA dogs in need.

Liz Herrick of Glen Burnie and her Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix Bodhi and Pomeranian Pippa will be aboard. “My favorite activities are those that contribute to causes that I care about, so this was a perfect choice for my two pups and me,” she said.

Karisa Josephson of Dunkirk is boarding for the first time to help the cause. She is, she says, looking forward to “spending time with my friend [her dog] and the many people who love doing things with their pets as I do.”

Doggie pools afloat with hot dogs add to the fun for pups who can cool off in the water and go bobbing for a snack. 

“I bring my dog every year, and he really loves it,” Redmiles said. “Dogs, believe it or not, like to get out on the water, so I’d say it’s more for the dogs, and they happen to bring their people along.”

Humans will have fun, too, with light food donated by Graul’s Market, an open bar, raffles and silent auction items, the latter two going to the dogs.

Watch for babies and respect elders 

The common snapping turtle’s life history shows extreme longevity and perseverance.

They begin their life by cutting through an eggshell, digging through a half foot of dirt, then crawling up to a half mile to water. Many eggs are eaten by raccoons, and the tiny young are food for many animals, even other turtles. Living on a diet of insects, tadpoles and minnows, the young spend most of their time hiding in dense pond weeds.

The first two years of life are the hardest. Very few, maybe one percent, survive. 

Snapping turtles grow slowly, taking 15 years to reach maturity. Their lifespan is unknown, but some tagged individuals have been over 100 years old and weigh close to 90 pounds. Locally, some have been up to 75 pounds. A large common snapping Turtle may well be older than you.

They are ambush predators, eating almost anything that comes along — and that list is quite long. They have been witnessed killing a raccoon, but generally they eat fish that swim too close to gaping mouths.

Through winter, snappers hibernate under water and frequently under mud.  

In the warm seasons, they mate. The female can store live sperm for several years, waiting until the conditions are right for egg laying. Starting in the late spring, female common snapping turtles laden with up to 75 eggs haul themselves out of the safety of water to find an area suitable for laying eggs. The nesting area can be up to a half-mile from water and uphill.

On their journey, you might see them crossing roads, laying eggs in gardens, hissing at pets and blocking trails. As for human contact, for the most part they are shy, but when cornered they can be very aggressive. Their strong jaws can cause serious damage to hands and feet.

To rescue a large snapping turtle crossing a road, either use a shovel to lift it or toss a towel onto the head and back and pick it up by the sides of the shell. Picking it up by the tail can tear the artery going into the tail and cause the animal to perish. Some people are able to pick them up by the shell at the area where the back legs go in, but there is a risk of getting bitten or scratched. Move the turtle in the direction that the turtle was already going.

Mid to late summer is the time the turtles hatch from their underground nests. They are a little more than an inch long and look like a clump of dirt or a partially smashed acorn. The hatchlings are usually only noticed when they move or are discovered by a pet. If you find a baby turtle, move it to a nearby body of fresh or brackish water. Snappers cannot survive the salinity of the ocean.  

Team Rotary RAAMs Polio raced across America with local support

The race to end polio has stretched farther than Race Across ­America’s 3,000 miles, all around the world. It has lasted longer, 39 years instead of a week. But this year’s race brings the killer closer to eradication. In its third year racing, Team Rotary Race Across America’s Polio raised an all-time high of $1 million to destroy the dread disease in its last strongholds, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Team Rotary RAAMs Polio reached new personal bests in both time and sponsorship. As well as raising more money for polio vaccinations, the four international RAAM racers reached Annapolis less than seven days after setting out from California.

Two racers from Austria, Ruth Brandstaetter and Markus Mayr, and one racer from Germany, Kurt Matzler, joined Tulsa’s Bob McKenzie in the United States for the race. McKenzie has ridden in Race Across America with Rotary for three years running. “I tell the team every year in Oceanside that we’ve already won because we have provided immunization for the kids against polio,” McKenzie says.

Rotary, an international organization, has been focused on eradicating polio since 1979, thanks to John L. Sever. In 1979, the year when the final case of polio was diagnosed in the United States, Sever was both a Rotarian and head of the National Institutes of Health’s infectious diseases branch. Awed by the conquest over smallpox, Rotary International president Clem Renouf challenged Sever to find Rotary an equal task. Sever suggested polio as the Rotary target.

The challenge succeeded. Incidences of polio around the world have decreased by 99.9 percent. As the vice chair of the Rotary International PolioPlus Committee, Sever is after the last of the germ. Low vaccination rates and unexpected occurrences still keep the disease alive. Ukraine, for example, was declared polio-free in 2002 — until two cases were reported there three years ago. Only 50 percent of that nation’s children had been vaccinated against polio. The disease won’t stay down if people are not vaccinated against it.

Local Rotary clubs have supported the campaign since its beginning. For this year’s Race Across America, the Rotary clubs of Parole, Annapolis and North Shore contributed, raising $4,000.

“The club tries to contribute $2,500 to the PolioPlus campaign each year,” said Bob Smith, president of the Parole Rotary Club. This year, the contribution went higher, thanks to the additional efforts of the Annapolis and North Shore Rotary clubs.

It cost $60,000 in equipment and maintenance for Team Rotary RAAMs Polio to compete. In their arduous race, they were able to raise enough money to deliver more than 1.6 million polio vaccines.

“It’s pretty spectacular when you think about it,” Smith says.

Maybe that's because it's what this sparrow eats?

    Many animals are named by the sounds they make or the food that they eat. The grasshopper sparrow is named for both. These little birds live in grasslands from Canada to Florida, where they like to perch on any stick or fence and sing a song that sounds like a flying grasshopper. They also feed on grasshopper and other grasshopper-like insects.
    In the summer, they make nests by clumping grass near the ground. Thus their nests are at risk during hay cutting. Some farmers purposefully put off cutting while the birds are nesting. With fewer open grass fields, more grass cutting and many other reasons, the population has dropped 75 percent since 1968. The Florida sub-species is almost extinct.
    To help protect populations of grass-nesting birds and animals, most states have established large tracts of grasslands that are not cut until after nesting is finished. In Maryland, the largest tracts are at Fair Hill and Soldiers Delight, with a smaller grassland at Sands Road Park.