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Category: General Review

Bel Air Gutter & Siding – One of Bel Air’s Best Roofers

Bel Air Gutter and Siding (–replacement.html ) started as just a company doing gutter cleaning, repair and installation. It quickly added on repairing and installing vinyl siding and doing window replacements. They then expanded to other contracting work such as kitchens and bathrooms but really excelled at doing roofing work.

Although they do large jobs and any roofer would because the money is good, they also have done a lot of roof repairs. Why? Because of all the storms with high winds we have had in the last couple of years. This has often caused some sections of roof material to blow off. Or sometimes trees to blow over and damage the roof. They very frequently work with insurance companies as part of the process.

They also use the latest technology and have a drone that is used to inspect the roof to be able to give accurate quotes for work needing to be done.

Besides repairs, they have replaced roofs on sheds, double wide trailers, and stand-alone garages. However, they have also replaced or installed new roofs on some of the largest homes in Harford county. What some would call McMansions.

One point Todd, the owner, makes is don’t wait on making repairs. If water gets in, it can cause rot and do a lot of other damage that will be far more expensive to fix than the initial repair would have cost if taken care of promptly.

Todd also points out that you have a number of options for roofing material. Most people choose asphalt shingles because it is quite durable and is less expensive. Some people prefer a fancier style asphalt shingle which is called architectural shingle. It has shingles tabs of different shapes and sizes which give a thicker textured look. Sometimes even a bit like cedar shake.

Some people prefer actual cedar shake and Bel Air Gutter & Siding has done those roofs as well as slate roofs. Both of these have longer warranties but the asphalt shingle, especially the thicker architectural shingles are starting to come close to the warranties for shake and slate.

If you have asphalt shingle roof, a new layer can be put directly over the old when the first layer gets worn out. When that second layer needs to be replaced, code does not allow you to put on a third layer. So at that point, the two layers need to be stripped off and new shingles put on.

When this takes place, the roofers will look for any rotten wood in the plywood sheathing that the shingles are attached to. Sometimes oriented strand board (OSB) is used. This is as strong or stronger than plywood but potentially can be more damaged by water if there are any leaks in the roof.

If you need some sort of roof work done (or other contracting work) we suggest you get an estimate from Bel Air Gutter & Siding. It won’t cost anything and we believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Balancing Act – A Small Business Accountant

We heard about this Balancing Act company headed by a Towson small business accountant who was helping small businesses and startups in the area. Being the unrepentant skeptics that we are, we decided to check out the website- which is the standard interface of any business in modern times. The stuff there looked too good to be true as we believed this was just like any other business trying to earn a quick profit by looking professional. So, we decided to put them to a test. I chose to request their consultancy services for my buddy’s little haulage business while my co-worker requested for assistance in setting up QuickBooks for their business. Here’s what we experienced:

  • Balancing ActSuper Quick response: My first email got a response almost before I could minimize the app. Of course, at the time it seemed like the job of an automatic mail responder except that it was tailored exactly for me and wasn’t a “no reply” account. My co-worker was equally surprised at how fast he got responded to. It seemed like there was someone whose only job was to refresh the mail inbox and instantaneously send replies.
  • Mary Jo Watson is a total wizard at using Quickbooks: First of all, introductions; Mary Jo Watson is the president of Balancing Act. And for the uninitiated, Quickbooks is an accounting software package used for tracking the metrics of a business and optimizing operations. Anyone who has tried using this package can testify to how complicated it can be to keep up with the various intricacies. Not for Mary Jo, she uses the software as easily as reciting the letters of the alphabet. What’s more intriguing is that by the end of the first 2hour session with my buddy (which I was definitely in attendance). We could do basic stuff with Quickbooks. She practically taught us to use the software almost without trying. You could call Mary Jo a “Towson QuickBooks expert” and you wouldn’t be wrong.
  • She understands the Towson (and Baltimore as a whole) business scene: At which is the company’s website, Mary Jo describes herself as a “local gal with lots of experience” This is reflected in her understanding of the way business is conducted in the area generally. She had accurate ideas about what attracts the local populace most. The businesses that are likely to upgrade with changing technology and those with the tendency to stick with the traditional way of doing things. It’s this comprehensive knowledge of the local business scene that has put Balancing Act in the position to provide excellent Towson small business accounting services.
  • Unexpectedly innovative: For the business consulting, it was more valuable than expected. Mary Jo suggested some simple changes to the way the business was run. These changes will make managing the business easier, while saving on some expenses, and allow more tax deductions which will also save money. By going to her and getting the consulting advice we actually will save more than we spent on her small business consulting services.

Our conclusion is that Balancing Act is actually as good as they claim to be. And maybe a little more.

Maryland Live! Casino

Owned and operated by The Cordish Companies, Maryland Live! is a casino and entertainment complex located in Hanover, Maryland. The casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the age limit is 21 years.

Limo ColumbiaYou will see people arriving by limousine on a regular basis to spend the evening gambling and enjoying the entertainment. Nearby is constantly being called on to supply limousines and party buses for people going to Maryland Live! Casino.

The entryway is a typical gambling venue similar to Las Vegas; sounds of slot machines, neon dazzling lights hanging from the ceiling, shiny reflective tiles, etc. The speed at which the lines at the cashier, ATM and voucher machines move are wanting; probably because of slow staff or machine malfunction. First timers receive $25 in slot play or in chips for the tables.

The restaurants are average with the food ranging from below average to decent. The staff is slow to respond but are generally friendly. The drink prices are quite unreasonable as compared to other casinos and Vegas which gives free alcohol. However, they do have free soft drink machines for juices and soda. There is a nightclub located near the casino bar whose entry is free of charge. It plays great music. Their restrooms are large and clean with modern décor finishing.

The casino has over 4,200 slots and electronic table games, 52 poker tables, and 189 live table games. So there is a wide variety of games and tables to choose from. The multi-level parking area can host 5,000 vehicles; both valet and self-parking. A Live! Hotel and conference center, currently undergoing development, adjacent to the casino is expected to open in 2018.

The casino should definitely be an option if you are looking to have some fun. It is always lively and packed; conveniently so because it is inside a shopping mall. Another reason could be because it is a popular tourist destination. If you happen to win, chances are you will spend all your money on a shopping spree at the mall.


Evergreen House Museums

Evergreen Museum and Library is located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. It houses an amazing collection of Tiffany glass, one of the largest in the US. Along with the Homewood Museum, they make up the John Hopkins University Museums. Inside it is a fine collection of art, manuscripts, and unique books collected over two generations by the Garrett family. A lot of contemporary artists derive their inspiration from this magnificent venue.

Evergreen HouseThe mansion dates back to the mid-19th century, when it was built and later sold to John Garrett who was the then president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The rail industry in those days was a key industry in the US and this led to the wealth and fame of the Garrett family. In 1952, it was donated to the university and later listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The house, sited on a 26-acre parcel of land, is a perfect example of Gilded age architecture. The house is a representation of their style and luxury with 48 rooms, bathrooms plated with 23-karat gold, and a staggering 30,000 book library. The rooms are filled with over 50,000 belongings of the Garrett family.

There is an art gallery, both fine and decorative art, a theatre painted by Leon Bakst, a famous Russian artist, and the Carriage House. These collections give a perspective of the evolving American from the post-Civil war to the modern age. The Museum and Library’s changing exhibitions and permanent collections can only be seen by guided tours at specific days and hours of the week.

They hold annual programs with notable speakers in the fields of decorative arts, architecture, and illustrated talks. Aside from that, they have an artist-in-residency program where they host artists and provides them with the opportunity to experience their visual and cultural setting. The collections and architecture are able to inspire them which in turn helps the public to see and understand the place through the artists’ work.

Bartlett Tree Company

Bartlett Tree Company is a nationwide tree services company. They provide a range of services; Tree pruning and trimming, stump removal, trump grinding, lawn care, tree planting, maintenance and more. They have certified arborists who can handle projects of any size with their extensive knowledge and experience in the field. They have the advantage of a large company to draw on any expertise that might be needed. However, because of the overhead, they might be a bit more expensive than a local company.

Some of the reasons why you should consider getting professional tree care services include;

  • Healthy SoilBartlett Tree Company

To establish a strong foundation, healthy soil is needed to support the growth of healthy plants and trees. Depending on the type of soil, our experts will be able to give sound advice on the plants and trees that thrive well in that particular soil.

  • Warning Signs

Bartlett Tree Company exists to save you time, effort, money and a lot of frustration. Some changes in your landscape might be as a result of unhealthy trees. Ignoring this problem or treating it with the improper products might lead to the deterioration of your the tree health and consequently your yard.

  • Appreciate your Trees

It is no surprise the myriad of benefits associated with trees. Apart from their aesthetic value, they purify the air, act as windbreakers and protect from heat bringing about a serene atmosphere to your house. For this reason, the trees in your property should properly be tended to maintain strong, healthy trees for full functionality. In other cases, the trees may need to be removed safely.

  • Strengthen your Vegetation

Our tree care professionals have extensive knowledge and experience. This enables them to recommend the proper fertilizers and other products needed to streamline air and oxygen flow in the soil and to the trees and plants.

  • Safety

Some of the processes, tools, and equipment used require trained specialists and safety gear for operation. This is why we recommend that you leave it to the professionals who will safeguard your trees and your property in the process.

  • Maintenance

This enables our experts to maintain the good health and attractiveness of your property. Regular maintenance also helps detect the problems early and nip those buds in time.

  • Emergency Situations

In case of emergency situations, like a fallen tree, a tree in contact with a power line, etc., we are just a call away. We promptly respond to your call for help to avert the situation and restore calmness and sanity to your property.

Trust Bartlett Tree Company today for all your tree care needs.

Review of Texas Roadhouse Restaurant Chain

Unlike many restaurants, the Texas Roadhouse is not as meticulously clean as we would prefer but it is incredibly popular and there are always lots of people there. At your table, a bag of free peanuts awaits you; that is definitely a first.Restaurant Chain

Most people, if not all, agree that the customer service is exceptional. The staff does a fantastic job attending to its customers in a friendly and prompt way. One customer even talks about how a waiter paid for her meal; talk about rare occurrences. Occasionally, the staff line would jump into song and dance, if someone is having a birthday.

Save for the hot dogs and the kids’ mac and cheese, they boast of making all their delicacies from scratch; right down to the bacon bits, dressing, and salad croutons. Their steak and ribs are amazing if popular opinion is anything to go by. Hand cut steaks are the primary focus on the menu; it is, after all, a steak house. The steak is so tender that you don’t need a knife.

The menu also has salads, burgers, ribs and other country style dishes. The burgers are quite popular for many customers who frequent this joint. They rolls and herbed butter they bring to start you off are delicious. For a restaurant chain, the burgers aren’t bad, but they sure can be made better. Some of the dishes, we dare say, come close to homemade. Generally, the food is decent and sold at affordable prices.

The ambiance of the place screams entertainment and has a family-friendly atmosphere; this is excellent for those family Sundays. The seating is also comfortable which helps you enjoy your food and any sporting events displayed on the big screens. The restaurant is a bit loud which may not sit well with you if you were hoping for a quiet time; probably why the music is a tad too loud as well.

We don’t know about all of the restaurants but the one on Mountain Road could be cleaner. The restrooms smell of stale urine and there is so much grease on the floor in the kitchen and being tracked out into the dining area that we had to walk carefully on our way to the restroom to make sure we didn’t slip and fall. And its not like we are on canes and walkers.

Restaurant chains aren’t some people’s cup of tea, but this one might just change your mind. We think it makes a strong impression, but if they are lax on cleanliness in some areas, it makes us a bit nervous as to where else they might be lax. However, the food is tasty and they give plentiful portions.


Review of Sinclair Broadcasting

The Sinclair Broadcasting group is one of the largest TV broadcasting companies in the United States. It went public in 1995, though it was founded in 1986. They boast of 173 stations, even more, if the proposed sales are approved. Most of these stations are directly owned by the companies while the others are operated through shared service agreements or local marketing agreements. The stations of the company are affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.Sinclair Sports Television

It is a producer of sports content as well as one of the leading news providers for local news in the country. They also own a cable network and four radio stations. Multiple platforms like over-the-air, digital or multichannel video distributors are used to deliver their broadcast content.

Fair and Balanced Conservatism?

They are not new to controversy as they have received backlash and outrage from the media and their community of viewers. This has followed as a result of scrutiny regarding their negative news coverage for some time in their company stations. Analysts who have been following the Baltimore-area company since its beginning have noted with grave concern their history of leaning towards conservative candidates, politics, and causes.

Connections with Donald Trump

In April 2017, Sinclair announced that it had hired Boris Epshteyn, who served the Trump administration briefly as a White House assistant communications director and as the chief political analyst during Donald’s Trump campaigns. This, as you can imagine, has caused quite a stir and elicited mixed reactions from all over the country.

Their coverage is contrary to the fair and balanced news programming expected by media stations. Some of the news staff from the Sinclair group have also criticized segments, editorials, and specific reports that are regarded as “must runs,” due to the kind of views they disseminate. One of their staff members even admitted to trying to deliberately schedule the pieces during lesser viewed times of the newscasts.

With the rapid growth of the broadcast over recent years, analysts fear that it is only going to promote conservative politics at more and more stations.

Call Down the Thunder on Companies

BB-8 from  ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Perhaps we should have called this Bring the Sunshine instead of Call Down the Thunder. We want to give both good and bad reviews of companies, restaurants, movies, whatever. Maybe we should have called it Thunder and Sunshine and really confused people.

We will be doing posts that go into details but here are some short snippets.

Movie – Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Highly anticipated, very disappointing. Seemed like a rehash of the original story instead of something new. Yet again a droid has a hidden message. Once again Han Solo tries to help deliver the message. Somehow, despite the Empire being defeated there are still Storm Troopers around. There turns out to be another “Death Star”. Come on, with all the creative minds in Hollywood they should be able to come up with something better than this.  In contrast, Rogue One was more interesting and was a nice prequel for the whole series.

Baltimore Orioles – Why do their up and coming pitchers only seem to pitch well after they get traded away? Since Jake Arrieta went to the Cubs he has be lights out. What that kind of pitching would have done for the Orioles. One can only dream.  Then they just got beat by Parker Bridwell who has been pitching well for the Angels since he got traded away by the Orioles. And those are just two, there are others.

Restaurant – Maggie’s Farm – Congratulations on being voted the best Farm to Table restaurant in Maryland. Haven’t been there but several friends have said it is quite good and we look forward to going.

Local Company – A.J. Billig and Co. – Kudos to them. They helped us auction off a property for almost twice what we thought we would get for it. They did a great job of advertising and getting people to the auction and then creating excitement for the property. Wish every transaction could go that well.

So we will give thoughts on a range of companies, restaurants, movies and perhaps even places to visit. It could be a tree services company, a limousine company, a carpet cleaning company, a septic tank company, plumber, electrician, metal fabricator or any of a myriad of other possibilities.  We will let you know if the carpet cleaner made things worse or got out a stubborn stain. Whether the limo company failed to show up or treated you like a prince or princess. Don’t even think about what could go wrong with a septic tank company. I guess you could say we are creating our own mini Yelp.