Friday, July 31, 2009


The Druid Theater in Damascus is one of the most intriguing landmarks in town. It ranks right up there with the water tower in my book. Only it's not a theater, it's a drugstore.

How did that happen?

I have found so many fascinating things, just by accident, around Damascus. As a history major, I naturally feel compelled to investigate.

The first time I walked down Main Street, I was struck by this large and very unique building. You literally cannot miss it. It very obviously, from the architecture, was a movie theater. But today, it is a Rite Aid. Still, prominent letters that spell "DRUID" continue to grace the front of the building. Since "Druid" has nothing to do with Rite Aid, that was a clue.

I found out that the Druid Theater was named after its owner, who lived in Damascus. The grand Druid Theater opened in 1947(!) and closed in 1990.

The biggest mystery to me is, how could a theater like this fail in Damascus? You would think it would have been a date spot for young people, as well as a place for families.

So I'm fascinated to find out if/why the Druid Theater failed financially. Was the selection of films so poor that people felt it was worth driving to theaters outside of town? Was the theater poorly maintained? Or...?

I am sure to get to the bottom of this, and will share it with you when I do so.

But right now, I will share with you a photo of this historic landmark at my website, I think you'll agree it is a very impressive building. It's just too bad it's a drugstore now, because only the exterior is left.

So here is today's special Damascus landmark photo for your enjoyment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Starting today, I am uploading some special photos of landmarks around Damascus. You can see them at when you click on the "Robert's Photos" link on the Main Menu.

I also have a video of a 1937 Farmall tractor, and other Merritt Landscaping Farmall tractors, for you this morning on the Robert Dyer Channel at

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Another Exclusive!!!

The Washington Post and Warren Buffett have done it again - low ethical standards of journalism, and the use of the newspaper as a business vehicle for Buffett's financial interests!

This time, they've reached a new low by directing an advertorial for Buffett and his insurance company, GEICO, to kids on the KidsPost page.

Ostensibly a feature on a team of skywriters, the team just happens to be the GEICO-sponsored "Skytypers." And GEICO just happens to be a major financial interest of the Washington Post Co. Director, Warren Buffett. Importantly - and sadly - nowhere among the "fun facts" on the page can a disclosure to this effect be found.

To top it off, another small feature about Warren Buffett is in a sidebar on the page. It touts Post Co. Director Buffett as having made "some of the best investment decisions in the world over many years." Again, no disclosure that Buffett is a director of the newspaper you are reading these words in.

They assume adult readers are naive, but they know that kids have no idea who the Post Co. directors are. Hence, they place a GEICO advertorial and Buffett puff piece on a page used in many classrooms as a "teaching tool."

But thanks to the investigative reporting of, you've learned something today as well: The Post will stoop to new lows to promote the business interests of its director - even on the page for kids. It's outrageous.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More exclusive video from the Celebrate Damascus parade is available this morning at Including some kind of experimental miniature hot rod. It's one of those things in the parade that you can only speculate as to what it is.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I'm always one step behind on these updates, but the tomatoes have gotten bigger. The heirlooms are starting to take on the characteristics of heirlooms. On, however, I have a July 5 photo update. You can see the plants are much bigger than they were on May 20; but they are twice that size now. More photos coming soon...

Also today, new video from Celebrate Damascus - St. Paul's Catholic Church and the Damascus Lions Club.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Continues on

Make sure to visit for the latest uploads of exclusive videos and photos from the Celebrate Damascus parade and fireworks.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Another Exclusive!

Last evening, between 7 and 8 P.M., Montgomery County Police were called to WoodAcres ES, and were eventually joined by county government facilities personnel and a K-9 unit, according to a neighborhood eyewitness. By the time I passed by the school at 8:30, there was only someone out front watering the trees.

If a break-in occurred, it should be in an upcoming county police crime report. All I can deduct from the timeline is that either way, the situation was taken care of quickly by the police. There have been some suspicious vehicles and persons in the neighborhood recently, so make sure to keep all doors and vehicles locked. That is a good policy to have at all times, anyway.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Yesterday I was reading the Corridor Cities Transitway concept proposed by the Action Committee for Transit, and it addresses at least one of the two flaws in the existing plan. Namely, the current CCT's misguided and minimized route. ACT's suggestion is based more in reality: that what is really needed is a modern transit system that goes beyond Clarksburg.

ACT's route extends to Urbana and Frederick, which would increase connectivity between Montgomery and rapidly-growing Frederick counties.

Still, the CCT in either incarnation would not address the needs of those in the rural areas of the Upcounty. The Purple Line will immediately connect to all of the existing infrastructure downcounty; this infrastructure simply is not in place in the Upcounty.

It could be argued that, for the sake of preserving the Upcounty's green space, we may not want to connect those areas to rail transit - which usually brings increased development near its route.

But in any case, those residents will not be able to get out of their cars because the bus lines don't exist to take them the rest of the way home. And they may never exist, even though Upcounty residents are paying the same taxes as those who have bus and rail transit nearby.

As we modernize our transportation system (and we don't have the forward-thinking elected officials in office yet to do that) we cannot fail to recognize the realities we face - traffic will increase throughout the region and we need modern mass transit to address that. However, we also must continue to make road improvements as well.

One other 270 issue is the stretch which coincides with the local lanes up through Germantown - and happens to be the major bottleneck. There is a way to address that without the CCT or widening so far that houses are demolished, and I am working on my own proposal for that. It's one of many exciting new ideas on which we will work together as citizens to accomplish in the coming years.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Have you checked out the newest exclusive videos and photos from the Celebrate Damascus parade? Go to right now to see them. New videos, and there are new photos of a classic Chevrolet pickup truck, a Pontiac Firebird, and a Montgomery County Police motorcycle.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Disaster is on the horizon in Montgomery County if we continue on the course further solidified this week by our Planning Board. Total traffic gridlock has become an accepted part of life for Dr. Yes and his Yes People on the Planning Board, for Rollin Stanley, and for their allies on the county council.

The new message this year, even from the "End Gridlock" Team on the council (please don't laugh), is that laws can be ignored (mandatory moratoriums, school population targets, even Planning Board terms!!!!), overcrowded schools are the future, and immobilized traffic is here to stay - plus you'll get to pay tolls for the priviledge of sitting in it.

It's outrageous.

Just recently, your county council turned its collective head and allowed a Planning Board commissioner whose term was up to illegally stay on the board.

Did I already say, "It's outrageous?"

Outrageous, but true. Why was this illegal move allowed by the enablers on the council? So that the developer-beholden member could break multiple tie votes on controversial decisions that profit large developers at the expense of you, the citizen.

Will councilmembers refuse to leave office in 2010? I think you, the voter, will have something to say about that.

What this Planning Board was able to do, with this member staying on past his term, was to pass terribly-flawed master plans, approve poorly-designed projects for big developers, and forward new rules that devastate county public schools and the environment to their council buddies for approval.

Will they approve the new rules that will allow massive overdevelopment, crowd classrooms, and eliminate green space?

The Science City and White Flint Master Plans are environmental catastrophes and harbingers of total traffic Armageddon.


Because the developers and their puppets on the Board and Council are going right to the dessert of big profits for vacant buildings and campaign kickbacks in 2010. Meanwhile, they've avoided the vegetables on the plate - the infrastructure improvements that are essential to even somewhat handle the massive development they've ordered.

Witness the simply wacky I-270 corridor proposals. Here you have a highway that is in total gridlock, representing the utter and complete breakdown of our transportation system. A transportation system I rightly referred to in 2006 as "a national laughingstock." Because it is a national laughingstock. Thousands of articles have been written nationwide, and Americans everywhere know of our elected officials' failure to fulfill their basic obligations regarding transportation.

What is the plan for 270? Reduce - yes, reduce! - the number of lanes, add Lexus Lanes for the rich, and build the Corridor Cities Transitway. The CCT should be built when the funds are available, but not instead of making the needed improvements to the highway first, or simultaneously.

I've covered in a previous blog the serious flaw of the CCT, which is that the plan does not fit the geography of the Upcounty. If you live in Poolesville or Damascus, how do you get to your home once you disembark from the CCT? I rest my case.

So the CCT may help on the small scale, but it will not reduce traffic on 270.

Meanwhile, you're going to have all of those new cars going home around the Science City west of 270 clogging exit 6B on 270. The Johns Hopkins element of the plan is very positive, and we should welcome those new facilities. However, the mixed-use part is not ready for prime time.

Our planning process should forbid the approval of such a master plan when the transportation infrastructure is not in place. Period.

And yet, Dr. Yes & Co. have said, "Yes!" again.

Any truth to the rumor that Dr. Yes (Royce Hanson) will swoop in as a "surprise" Democratic candidate in 2010?

You heard it here first.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I have a new video from Celebrate Damascus for you this morning - it's the one where I'm getting hit by a piece of candy thrown from a parade vehicle. You will see it as if you were me; the difference is, I couldn't see it coming at the time.

There is also a new photo of a Montgomery County Police motorcycle at the parade.

Just go to to see both right now.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

ON I-270

The County Council is currently reviewing transportation improvements for the I-270 corridor. One specifically calls for the highway to have 2 toll lanes (a.k.a. Lexus Lanes, as they are only affordable to the rich on a daily basis) and 2 regular lanes.

Essentially, this proposal would reduce the highway by one lane at a time when it needs to be widened. It is already ridiculous enough to have one lane taken during rush hour by an HOV lane gimmick. Now they are going to take another lane, and gain revenue they can turn over to their developer buddies and the special interests.

It's outrageous.

No one should ever be charged to use the roads they have already paid for with their tax dollars.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Another Exclusive!!

By popular demand, here it is: the exclusive video of a lightsaber duel that broke out during the fireworks display which concluded the July 10, 2009 Celebrate Damascus event.

Just click on the link to the Robert Dyer Channel on the menu at and watch this before you hear about it from someone else!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


A Exclusive!

I have the latest update on the 2 tomato plants I bought back in May from the Damascus High School Future Farmers of America chapter plant sale in Mount Airy.

The tomatoes are out! Each one has two marble-sized green tomatoes on it. I was starting to worry about them, but I think July is when these were supposed to bear fruit. So they are on schedule so far.

If you remember, one is a Roma tomato plant and the other is an heirloom plant.

Stay tuned, and let's hope there will be red tomatoes in a few months.

Don't forget to visit to see the latest video and photos from the Celebrate Damascus parade and fireworks.

Monday, July 13, 2009

This morning, I have uploaded the Damascus Volunteer Fire Department video from the Celebrate Damascus parade.

You can also see the classic car nearly running me over at the end of the video - and I kept the cameras rolling and got my shot anyway. Now that's impressive.

Also, check out the new parade photos. All of this can be found at

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Exclusive!!

This is the biggest weekend in the most All-American town in Montgomery County: Damascus. The annual Celebrate Damascus event began Friday evening, July 10, with the parade.

When I arrived in town, the parade was being lined up in the Damascus High School parking lot. Eventually, I found a great spot on the parade route on Lewis Drive. It's hard to tell in the photos and videos I took (which are now starting to appear on the Robert Dyer Channel, as well as my photos, which can both be found at, but you can see my favorite landmark - the Damascus water tower - and the cell phone tower in the distance from this spot.

The one bad thing was the angry bee who was either very angry at me or found me quite appealing. Whatever the case, this bee (and, of course, angry bees are rarely bees - more likely hornets, yellowjackets, or killer bees) suddenly was after me. Was this a Swarmin' Hornet?

I don't know, but I kept the camera rolling, as you will eventually see when I upload that clip.

The parade route started at the high school and followed Route 27 to Lewis Drive. It ended near the American Legion building.

I did miss getting the high school marching band, and I apologize for that. Also, I did not get the honor guard, but managed to take a picture of them walking back from the American Legion.

It would have been nice to just record the whole thing, but I like to keep the videos reasonably short, so that everyone can enjoy them. Even if they don't have a fancy, high-speed internet connection.

If you liked tractors, you were in luck. There were several John Deere and Farmall tractors of various years. Speaking of John Deere, Gladhill Bros.' John Deere dealership was represented in the parade.

If you liked fire trucks, you were also in luck. Not only did the venerable Damascus Volunteer Fire Department participate, but so did the Laytonsville VFD and Mount Airy VFD, as well.

Classic car afficionados found many vintage American cars in the parade. Of course, the Cruise-in the following morning was a highlight for them. I forget what that other muscle car was, but it was a classic and I have it in one of my videos. So you will see that, eventually. There was a Corvette Stingray, and a red 1970s Pontiac Firebird (which you can see now on my photos page).

There were all kinds of community groups, and also many local businesses (or businesses that wished to appeal to the locals). Damascus is a very religious town relative to the rest of our county. The town's churches are greatly involved in community service not only within Damascus, but across the country and around the world. In the parade, I saw Damascus United Methodist Church and St. Paul's Catholic Church, and got those on video.

One of the great moments in the parade was when veterans of World War II, Iraq, and Vietnam passed by. Noticing that I was filming, the WWII veteran gave a salute, and you will see that when I upload it.

One of the strange moments was when a child on the back of a parade vehicle threw a piece of hard candy at me. It was thrown in a manner that was apparently supposed to hurt. Well, I seem to have survived. The problem was that I was looking at the screen on the camera, and never saw it coming. Suddenly, I felt a hard projectile hit me right in the stomach, and I was trying to figure out what was going on. This kid had no idea he had hit a Montgomery County elected official, but you are going to have a chance to watch that moment yourself soon in that particular clip.

At another point, when I was trying to film a fire vehicle, a classic car turned out of the parade and slowly drove towards me. The driver evidently wanted to enter the driveway I was standing in, and couldn't wait. I managed to sidestep the car, all while keeping the camera on the fire truck.

But I didn't let these things get in the way of enjoying the parade, and I am glad I was able to capture much of it for your enjoyment, as well.

Later, the fireworks display was held near the American Legion. But I was in a good spot in the parking lot of the Weis Markets grocery store. Most people who were lining the parade route along Route 27 kept their good seats for the fireworks display. I've uploaded the first part of the fireworks display to the Robert Dyer Channel so you have a good seat, too.

You can see and hear some of the crowd on the hill in front of me. It was interesting that the Damascus VFD went out on an emergency call after the parade, and passed right in front of those of us at the Weis Markets. People were also cheering the 18-wheelers that passed by on 27, including 2 that came out of the Weis Markets. That was another bonus at that location: lots of Weis truck activity that evening. One headed north on 27, and then turned on to Main Street and back on to northbound 27. It must have been headed to either the Weis Markets in Mount Airy, or to I-70. Weis is based in Pennsylvania.

During the wait, someone set up a lemonade stand at the shopping center entrance. Later, an enterprising lightsaber salesman worked the roadside on 27. Two new owners of the Jedi weapons proceeded to have a duel while my camera was rolling. I don't even have the Lucasfilm budget.

Eventually the fireworks show ended, but the weekend was just beginning with the car show, Damascus VFD open house, Damascus UMC flea market, and much more the next day.

Stay tuned to for all of the photos and videos you could want and more from the 2009 Celebrate Damascus event!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Parade and Fireworks Photos and Videos
Will Begin Uploading Soon

Prepare yourself for an extravaganza of Celebrate Damascus coverage on!

I was at the event last night, and if you weren't, I have just about everything you would want to see on video. It will be just like being there.

There is so much video that the battery was drained. Which has delayed the uploads, because I have to recharge it in order to transfer the files. But not to worry, you will have it for your enjoyment very soon. As well as the whole story here on the blog.

You're going to see fireworks, tractors, classic cars, fire equipment, a lightsaber duel (I'm not joking), me getting drilled in the abs with a piece of candy thrown from a parade vehicle (still not joking), a classic car trying to run me over, and me being chased by a killer bee. All from a first person perspective, as I was filming at the time all of these things happened.

I did manage to survive, and you won't find the video and photos I have on any other local media website.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


The locusts, or cicadas, are out in Bethesda. Do they come out earlier in rural areas like Poolesville, Damascus, or Barnesville? Are they out in your part of the county? Post your locust reports here as a comment.

And don't forget to visit the Robert Dyer Channel today at, where I have uploaded the fourth and final part of the exclusive fireworks video.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


More exclusive video from the Kenwood Golf and Country Club's fireworks show can be watched on the Robert Dyer Channel this morning.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Another Exclusive!!

Part 2 of the fireworks display from the Kenwood Golf and Country Club in Bethesda is available to watch on the Robert Dyer Channel at

Don't forget to watch Part 1 if you missed it over the weekend.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Another Exclusive!!

Watch Part 1 of this exclusive video recorded last night outside of the Kenwood Golf and Country Club in Bethesda.

Visit and click on the Robert Dyer Channel link right now.

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 03, 2009

But the weekend is just beginning, and there will be lots of new 4th of July coverage here and on the Robert Dyer Channel at!

I've done a second round of testing on the new McDonald's Angus Burgers this week, and there is some news to report:
First, the Mushroom & Swiss has an additional ingredient that was not on the first one I received. It is an essentially flavorless white dressing. It has no scent, either. I have no idea what it is, but now that I have gotten 2 sandwiches with this added condiment, it is apparently an actual ingredient. Despite its lack of flavor, it does seem to add something to the sandwich when combined with the other ingredients.
Second, it turns out that the upscale pickle slices and onions are supposed to be on the Bacon & Cheese version. This really improved the sandwich.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Cover your ears again, George Leventhal! Another forbidden food is coming to downtown Bethesda this year: Cupcakes. That's right, the all-American cupcake - formerly the dessert of choice at school birthday parties... ...until the Democratic Party became the Food Police and Fun Police.

Apparently, even our far-reaching Food and Fun Police on the County Council cannot stop all-American greasy burgers and fries (Five Guys), nor cupcakes (Georgetown Cupcake) from being sold in downtown Bethesda.

Have you watched the latest programming on the Robert Dyer Channel? The Angus Burger Unboxing has a lot of hits, but you've missed out on Westbard, Episode 6: Giant Truck; Damascus, Episode 9: Damascus Recreation Center; Ride On Bus 29; and 2 videos of Carroll Creek in Frederick.
So hurry to to watch them now!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I have to disagree with Jay Mathews' argument that schools are businesses going through tough times like the newspaper industry.

Mathews made this assertion in a Washington Post column on the situation at Baltimore's KIPP Ujima Village Academy. Ujima Village is one of the highest performing schools in Baltimore, and is a majority-black charter school. Now of course, there are all kinds of arguments about the KIPP program nationwide. Some believe that those scores are inflated by keeping the school's population limited to the best students.

But right now, I'm just talking about his offhand comment regarding schools as businesses. Especially when we have an education crisis, and a minority achievement gap nationwide.

In education, a product is not being produced for profit. Instead, human beings are being given the tools and opportunities to advance themselves in life. We all know that success in America also involves luck, who you know, etc. But a good education gives everyone a chance if they have the determination and are willing to work. We have to control costs and have a fiscally responsible budget. But we can't take the position that schools are a place to cut big when our politicians have mismanaged the county budget. There is plenty of other wasteful spending to eliminate elsewhere. Yet our county council took $80 million away from schools this year, in defiance of state law.

Often today, the scope of education goes beyond the classroom. The Montgomery County Public Schools program to provide free meals to disadvantaged children this summer is an example. Many students in the county are not even receiving the nutrition they need to be successful in school. This and other early childhood education programs will reduce the number of those living in poverty, the number of juveniles in our criminal justice system, and increase the number of Americans attending college.

Proper nutrition, free access to internet resources from home, more assistance to parents who wish to home school their children and other initiatives will help to close the gap. Searching for profits, or charging kids for the budgetary failures of the county council, will not.