Monthly Archives: January 2009

It's in the stars II

SagittariusHaving a good time is more work than it’s worth. Yield to your fate and work like a dog (from The Baltimore Sun).

I know that most horoscopes are made up on the spot as a way to fill that awkward gap between “Dear Abby” and Sudoko, but every once in a while the stars prove to be right.

As anyone who’s seen the news over the past week knows, Baltimore (and much of the rest of the country) was hit by a massive snow\ice storm that made any kind of travel next of travel next to impossible (especially since no one in this city has heard of rock salt). Because of this storm and its aftermath, I’ve been stuck inside all week waiting for conditions to improve – suffice to say my errands were beginning to mount (I nearly killed myself trying to get milk on Thursday).

First stop, the bank, and then I went to go across the street to GameStop to trade in my DS games. The staff was friendly enough, but they were in the process of restocking and the other associate was always interrupting about needing the key [for the display case]. The third stop was going to be the Dollar Store (as it was on the same level as GameStop), but I decided to skip that step and go directly to stop four – the Barnes & Noble at Power Plant.

I step into the store, and the security alarm goes off. They never desensitized the games I bought before I left GameStop (though oddly enough their security gate didn’t go off as I left the store). Sadly it’s not the first time I’ve been the victim of sloppy check-outs (not at the same store) just the first time I’ve had a blog to talk about it.

I browsed through the magazines and decided to look for books about my new hometown. I found the magazines I was looking for, but nothing in the Maryland section really caught my eye. I made my way to check out, showed my B&N card, and proceeded to leave with the security team’s blessing.

That meant all my work was done for the day (and it wasn’t even noon yet), but that didn’t mean I was going to waste a perfectly good Friday afternoon. No sir, I was going to tempt fate and try to have some fun – big mistake.

Sometime fate gives us subtle warnings of what’s to come; in this case it was the fact that the entire walkway leading up to the entrance to the Maryland Science Center was one gigantic sheet of ice (and the very definition of “a lawsuit waiting to happen”).

Inside the museum, I follow the empty cue to a rather bored looking cashier whose associate was chatting idly with one of the security guards. I take my ticket and the Hurricane Orange wristband and head over to put my jacket\bags in the coat check area when I’m chased down by the same security guard who was leaning against the counter less than a foot away from me when I bought my ticket and demanded to see said ticket. Seriously, MSC, what the fuck?

It was just as well since there was no-one over there anyway. Anyway, I re-cross the lobby and look for somewhere to have a quick lunch. I found the museum cafeteria, and true to form, it offered sub-par food at super-par prices. It also offered a variety of bodily sound effects (from the third floor) that were at such a high volume that it made the entire atrium eating area vibrate, but my meal was officially ruined when they reached the extra loud canned pissing noise. Burps and farts I can handle, but I draw the line at “water sports.”

I head back to the lobby and quickly pass through the Maryland dinosaur exhibit. I stop by Terra Link, a high tech infill designed to educate museum goers on “the latest and greatest” in geologic\earth science news using a series of interactive videos and hard copy mini-reports on “Green Power” and “Winter Weather Preparedness.”

As I’m in this section, an announcement comes over PA system about a show starting shortly in the planetarium. One of the main reasons I stopped by the museum was to see their new Dark Matters show in the planetarium, but the volunteer attendant told me that that show wasn’t until 2pm so I ignored the announcement – bigger mistake.

Dark Matters is at 1pm (2pm on Saturdays), but there was another show at 4pmthat’s three full hours!

This wouldn’t have been so bad except that the museum was installing not one but two new exhibits simultaneously (thus explaining the deafening body noises). This meant that much of the second floor was inaccessible, and, sadly for me, the third floor was dedicated mainly to young children (who like canned body noises).

I didn’t buy the IMAX package so that option was out too (just as well since the only thing playing during that time was that horrible CGI flick Fly Me to the Moon)

I toured their Space Link area (another infill exhibit – this one, obviously with a “space” theme), watched their “Science on a Sphere” show, and took in half a show at the “Demo Stage” (how NASA scientists use liquid nitrogen in the space program).

I now had two hours to kill. Sure, I could have left, but where I go? There was no possible way I could find – no less go through – AVAM and be back in time for the planetarium show.

I walked through the gift shop (which took all of five minutes), and marveled at how the same IMAX films they were showing for $7 in their theater cost 5 times as much on DVD in the science store. I then took a seat on the bench outside the science store and read the new issue of B (ditto).

I somewhat reluctantly sat in on the regular planetarium show at 3pm, and with 25 minutes until the show I wanted to see started, I headed out to the stairway to the lobby and stared out at the harbor until they announced the opening of the show (apparently, they sent someone out earlier with a shovel as there was now a narrow path leading from the museum door down to the promenade).

I was going to write a full review of Dark Matters for this blog, but frankly I don’t get enough visitors [to the blog] to justify the effort. The show ended, and I could leave to take the train back to midtown – just in time for rush hour.

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UM news

Former University of Miami president Henry King Stanford (1962-1981) died earlier this month at the age of 93.

A special on campus memorial service will be held at the university’s Storer Auditorium on February 27, 2009.

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UM – not DC – center of inaugural universe

The Miami Hurricane is reporting that the UC lounge was “ overflowing ” with spectators when Barack Obama was being inaugurated on Tuesday. Oh come on, is it really that hard for the UC lounge to be overflowing? What does it hold a 100 people?

Probably the most surprising statement about the event (a combined celebration of MLK day ) was this: “ President Shalala received a commemorative gift basket as well as claiming a first row seat at the inaugural watch party along with some colleagues .” Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Speaking of mighty, the Hurricane revealed that the first female mayor of Coral Gables is a UM alumni. Maybe now the university can get some respect from its host town.

Meanwhile, the university was also host to the Global Business Forum last week with speakers from Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Fed-Ex. Politics and business on the same campus proving once again that UM – not DC – is the center of the inaugural universe.

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Inauguration at the BCCenter

My friend Jake (Hi) and I were among the 500+ people at the Baltimore Convention Center to watch the inauguration of our 44 th president: Barack Obama.

I met him at 10am at the Mount Royal light rail station. I wanted to go to the National Aquarium, but as Jake said “free is free” (except for the horribly overpriced food)

The doors to East Ballroom I opened at 10:45am, and the program started slightly early at 10:57am with a speech by Parks and Recreation director Wanda S. Durden followed by the announcement of the winners of an essay\poetry contest and a performance by a local youth choir.

11:13am – a talented local singer, Lauren Sherry, sings “Get Ready” by The Temptations, and she’s followed by a dance troupe with slightly off timing: I give them 7 out of 10 (you were expecting Jay-Z, puhleeze, this city probably couldn’t get Kathy Griffin).

11:23am – Scattered cheering as the video screens come back on showing the arrival of first daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, and then quickly turn to booing as former-President Bush and Dick Cheney arrive at the Capitol.

11:37am – Cheers erupt from the crowd as Barack and Michelle Obama arrive at the Capitol. Swearing in of VP Joe Biden is now officially 7½ minutes behind schedule.

11:42am – Auditory goes out during Diane Fienstien’s (D-Calif.) introduction of Pastor Rick Warren. (On the plus side, it meant we didn’t get to hear Rev. “My purpose is to hate gay people” Warren’s invocation).

It’s about this time that I realize that I’m probably the only person in my section without a digital video camera. I count at least three professional cameramen and at least print photographers roaming around my section.

11:50am – Audio returns in time to hear Aretha Franklin’s rendition of “My Country Tis of Thee”

11:56am – Joseph Robinette Biden is sworn in as Vice President of the United States – 26 minutes behind schedule!

12:01pm – Wolff Blitzer announces that Barack Obama is now “officially the 44 th President of the United States.”

12:05pm – Barack Hussein Obama is sworn in as the 44 th President of the United States. Some people in the crowd begin to make their way out of the ballroom.

12:07-12:26pm – Obama gives inaugural address

12:27pm – More people begin to gather their stuff, but quite a few people stay behind to see the closing invocation. We aren’t one (or two) of them.

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Moving day: Some assembly required

NOTE : This piece was originally written on January 4, 2009, and is poted as part of my series about moving to Baltimore.

After five nights of sleeping on a slightly-less-than-comfortable arm chair, I am woken up at 8am by a loud voice from below:

“JAAAAAH-NEEEEE,” Mary-Ann shouted from the little courtyard area below my door. “It’s your aunt and mom, and we’re here with the rest of your FURNEE-TURE!”

Joining mom and Mary-Ann outside were her boyfriend Craig, my Uncle Tom and his son Jordan, 11 (?).

Craig and Tom bring in the bed & dresser; Jordan brings in the nightstand & side tables (that I told my mom I didn’t want). My mom and Mary-Ann bring in some smaller boxes\accessories.

Now for the upstairs, I lost the code to the side door so I had to go around and open it from the inside. Unfortunately, the elevator door on the lower level wouldn’t open so I had to go back up and take the stairs down to open the side door.

I hold the metal door connecting the garage to the main building while Tom and Craig carry in the coffee table and Jordan the box with the TV stand. A minute later, I could hear Tom cursing the elevator (which then closed and went up as normal).

As soon as the furniture was inside the apartment, Tom and Jordan leave. Craig, not being stupid enough to stay behind, quickly jumps into the cab with them. This leaves only my mom, Mary-Ann and I to assemble everything the guys just delivered (the bed, dining room set, and TV stand).

It’s 9am, and now the real fun starts. As long time readers know (should such a creature exist), I have written about the subtle joys of assembling your own furniture before, and frankly my opinion on the subject hasn’t changed.

Three hours later, we break for lunch. The table and both seat frames are assembled; the TV stand is a piece of crap work in progress.

Fortunately for us, it’s the first week of January and Harbor Place is all but closed (except for a select few shops and restaurants. There were no crowds to speak of (okay, none at all) so we could sit anywhere we wanted and took a booth overlooking the water. The view was nice, the food was exceptional and the service was almost sycophantic (we were the ONLY customers there). However, once the bill arrived, it was back to reality and the unfortunate realization that those furniture pieces weren’t going to complete themselves.

By 3pm, the TV stand was fully assembled, and my mom and aunt were ready to make the long drive back to central Pennsylvania. The chairs weren’t quite secured yet, but I can always Indian style.

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Moving Day: Revenge of the boxes

NOTE : This entry was written on December 30, 2008, and is the first in a series about my move to Baltimore.

It took almost an hour to load my stuff into the back of my mom’s minivan last night (Friday), and that was with Butch’s help. The problem wasn’t the boxes, bags and small furniture but finding a way to make them fit into the back of the vehicle (especially one with a low overhead clearance).

Butch offers to help us move the larger pieces down (to Baltimore), but mom doesn’t want to overburden him – especially during the holidays. Besides, she said that she didn’t think Craig and Mary-Anne were doing anything on the weekend, and if they were then I was officially fucked.

It took just under 3 hours to drive to Baltimore (not counting the wasted stop at the Target store in Timonium). Unpacking began almost as soon as we entered the apartments’ two level garage, but we were hindered slightly by having to work around the arm chair and large television they were packed around.

At least two people passed us while w were unloading the van, none of them offered to help carry anything. We didn’t need your help anyway, losers.

Once all the boxes were inside, mom decided to try and find us a convenience store where I could pick up some food for the next few days. Fortunately, there was a small grocery store just a few blocks west of the new apartment – and I do mean small with a selection to match (their entire stock was non-label goods).

When we returned to the apartment, it was finally time to get the chair and television out of the back of the van. The former wasn’t all that heavy just bulky, but the TV was both. In both cases the problem wasn’t navigating the sharp corner in the hallway, but getting the items past the auto-locking inner door (ultimately solved by shoving the mail crate into the door jam preventing it from closing).

It’s 3pm, and mom stated making grumblings about getting out of the city before rush hour. But in the mean time, we arrange what little furniture I have upstairs and try to set up the television.

Mom leaves. I’m surrounded by boxes, bags and miscellaneous containers and I have no idea what the hell I’m going to do with all of them.

Two hours later, I was making slow progress towards getting things put away and making the place look livable. There was a lot more work to be done, but it would have to wait until after dinner.

My microwave hadn’t been delivered yet so I grabbed some rice from the cabinet, and the shelf collapsed. I pick the food off the floor and grabbed a pot from the lower cabinet (which thankfully didn’t have a shelf), turned on the stove and waited for the water to boil.

And waited…

And waited some more…

I check one last time to find that the water was still cold – the burner never clicked on. I thought I could call for Chinese, but my phone wasn’t connected yet. In the end, all I had for dinner was a granola bar and a glass of milk.

It’s 7:15pm, and downstairs looks somewhat presentable, but I’m out of hangers and my dresser is still back in my old apartment. I’m completely exhausted, but my bed and mattress are back in Pennsylvania. It’s going to be a long night

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