Baltimore

No so happiest place on Earth

This week’s post was going to be a happy column about how this weekend’s reopenings of both Gatorland and LEGOLAND Florida (Winter Haven) and next week’s openings of Universal and the just announced reopenings of SeaWorld Orlando/Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and the Walt Disney World Resort (in phases) meant that live in Central Florida is slowly returning to normal.

Well, it’s not.

The virus remains as dangerous as ever, but so does being a person of color in the United States. Yes, I’ve been the victim of both racial and homophobic discrimination (including assault and property damage) both in Florida and Maryland, but the difference is I’m actually able to type this, George Floyd is not. Neither is Trayvon Martin or Tamir Rice or even Freddie Gray.

Sure, I could go into detail about being harassed for doing as little as they did, but having my camera ripped away from me and taunted as it’s broken in front of me is considerably different than being held against the ground with a knee to the throat and dying of asphyxiation as three other officers hold him down. To even compare the two experiences is an insult to the memories of all the victims of needless police violence.

So would equally vapid, ineffective forms of “solidarity” I’ve seen online like changing my profile photo for the day or posting some memes with a viral hashtag. It didn’t heal Paris, and it’s not rebuilding Minneapolis. Such lazy, feel good activism doesn’t do anyone any good.

However, with the massive crowds of people protesting in the street across the country – and around the world – there are now fears of spreading the virus that has kept these same people inside for the past two months, maybe lazy, ineffective means of protest aren’t all bad.

Yes, waving signs in a public place is a perfectly valid form of communication… but so is staying at home and typing from the safety of my sofa. The parks will open whether I’m there to cover them or not…

 

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Baltimore, Busch Gardens Tampa, Coronavirus, disney world, editorials, Health, LEGOland Florida, news, Orlando, politics, protests, SeaWorld Orlando, Tampa, Universal Studios, Winter Haven | Leave a comment

Quarantine diaries: Week 7

Day 43: Today is Monday, and I wasn’t going to write anything today as there’s nothing going on today. The construction is moving along nicely next door. The buildings are framed, and the crews finished work around 2pm. This meant I was able to work on some longstanding photography projects and reward myself with a pizza. The only thing I didn’t do was reach the Leasing Office as their phone number didn’t seem to be working, and they didn’t immediately respond to email.

Meanwhile, the major story over the weekend was President Trump “sarcastically” telling reporters to ingest disinfectant to cure the virus. I was going to post a reaction… but I just couldn’t. Not because of politics, but because both the Autism Moms™ and the anti-vaxxers (along with other purveyors of quackery) had apparently hailed him as their new savior. I get their desperation, but I simply can’t wrap my head around that level of malicious stupidity. I just can’t.

Day 44: Tuesday, and I was woken up by the riding mower rather than the still present heavy machinery. On the plus side, the landscaping team and construction crew kinda drowned each other out at times. Fortunately, they were both gone by 3pm, so I could start working on this and other blog posts.

Also this morning, the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force (OCERT) had a meeting presenting a number of initial guidelines for the reopening of theme parks – which they said could be as early as July (some possibly earlier depending on their size), and while the details have not been fully ironed out yet, this is still a promising start.

Day 45: I had a dream this morning that I was woken up by my alarm, but that’s silly. I was woken up for real when my landline in the other room started ringing. It was a wrong number… but it was still 20 minutes after my alarm was slated to go off, so that’s progress.

Unfortunately, our state and local government is NOT making the opposite of “progress.” Not only is Gov. Desantis announcing that he’s “reopening” the state on Monday morning, but OCERT’s latest meeting basically punted all reopening decisions to the individual parks. Meanwhile, the White House is doing nothing yet still somehow managing to embarrass themselves doing it. Am I surprised by this? No, but I’ll probably be extremely disappointed come November…

Day 46: It rained almost all morning, so work next door didn’t start until after 10am then stopped for lunch at 11am. On the plus side, the building is largely framed (still no discernible roof) and the grounds around it are starting to look like they could become a parking lot at some point.

Desantis is moving forward with his plan to “reopen” retail and restaurant businesses within the state (except Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties). This is good news for ICON Park and Disney Springs, but the plan makes no mention of when gyms, movie theaters and theme parks could reopen.

So, if the state does (partially) reopen, then we’re no longer “quarantined!” That means I can finally close this document and leave the apartment and do stuff… like, um, I don’t know. Maybe, I’ll go back to bed…

 

Categories: apartment hunting, Baltimore, Canton, Coronavirus, florida, Health, neighborhoods, Orlando, politics, Williamsburg | Leave a comment

Quarantine diaries: Week 6

Day 36: Today is Monday. Not that it makes a huge difference, but it is.

There is no real news to speak of on my end. Yeah, some protesters are making asses of themselves in public and some governors are bloviating about “reopening their economies,” but while the first is simply ignorance, the second is pure partisan pandering designed solely to score political points.

Who cares if a few thousand more people lose their lives, there is money to be made! They’ll get people killed, and they don’t care. More importantly, they’ll get their base killed, and they don’t care. They. Don’t. Care. Period.

Day 37: It was a relatively quiet morning. I’m guessing they are finished (or mostly finished) with the heavy machinery next door. They’re still working, but mostly with quieter tools. Unfortunately, a riding mower is still a riding mower, but they appear to be saving the hedge trimmers and weed whackers for tomorrow. Thank goodness for small favors.

Day 38: Not quite as quiet out there today, but there is no news on my end. Sure, some beaches are open (with restrictions) and some states are planning on letting some businesses reopen… but “analysts” say that Walt Disney World may not reopen until sometime next year.

IF that’s true (and it’s a huge “if”), I may have to close up my Disney blog a bit early then, which is a shame since I probably won’t be able to move before 2021 even if I wanted to (and I do). I continue finding new properties to pine over online ($190k “fixer” in East Baltimore which sounds too high… but it is waterfront in a desirable neighborhood – oh, and everything else in that building is $400k or higher), but my chances of actually being able to move into them are extremely slim.

Day 39: Yep, another quiet day noise wise… heavy vibrations, but relatively light on noise. I may have to add another day just to fill this post out. I’m kidding, I’m far too lazy to do that.

I saw an article on MSN about “stay-at-home” jobs yesterday, and I was going to do a post about it… but, since the story has been online for three days, they probably don’t need my feedback on it. Besides, it gives me a chance to work on other projects (like laundry), secret projects (it’s not a secret if I tell you what they are), and, possibly, other important tasks that even I’m not aware of… or I’ll just take a nap once the noise dies down.

I can come up with post ideas tomorrow…

 

Update: They posted a shorter version of their “stay-at-home jobs” list (from 27 down to 20) after I posted this with a reworded headline (and a few substitutions). Oddly enough, the original story is still up right next to it. (4/24/20)

Categories: apartment hunting, Baltimore, Canton, Coronavirus, florida, Health, holidays, neighborhoods, Orlando, Williamsburg | Leave a comment

Photos: Walking in Baltimore

Categories: adventures, apartment hunting, Baltimore, Fells Point, Inner Harbor, neighborhoods | Leave a comment

Unsuccessful apartment hunting

As you can tell from the headline, I spent my one and only day in Baltimore apartment hunting. I visited several places with all sorts of rude and borderline ableist treatment, but for the sake of space, I’ll only focus on one.

It was a nice-looking building on the north end of Fell’s Point with nice freshly painted mural on its side. The neighborhood was clearly deteriorating and there was a lock an electronic lock on the door, but no number on the keypad for the leasing office. However, I did call the number on their huge sign, and was asked

“Um, noo, you need an appointment to see our units.”

“I have one.”

“Are you suuure you have an appointment? Because I have my calendar app open and it doesn’t show an appointment for a tour today.”

I couldn’t say this on the phone with her, but that question REALLY irritated me. “Hey, crazy, could you bother someone else? I’ve got more important things to do.

She then whines about having to do this, grills me on “exactly” who I spoke to and when… and then sighs exasperated, reluctantly agreeing to meet me in “half an hour.”

Nearly an hour later, she finally shows up all smiles as if nothing was wrong (I get she probably was busy, but that kind of tardiness just smacks of disrespect), but that’s not even the worst part. She puts the code in, tells me to wait in the lobby and brings out her colleague – who was presumably in the office the whole fucking time.

She literally could have called him at any time in the past hour and asked HIM to do the tour, but, no, she pulls him out as a “bodyguard” (a phenomenon I’m sadly used to) against the crazy no-appointment lady with the beard who THINKS she has an appointment but clearly doesn’t. In other words, my smiling, friendly guide has been forced into dealing with a total wack job!

In truth, I was actually going to leave at the 45-minute mark. As finding people to “take over” my last lease taught me (coincidentally also in Baltimore), people who don’t show up for apartment tours within 15 minutes of their appointed time generally didn’t show up at all. However, I got an important message on my phone, and I decided to answer it and when I was done the agent was standing behind me.

As I said above, it’s a nice-looking building with lots of curb appeal with small, cheaply furnished model that was far pricier than the size, furnishings, or deteriorating neighborhood suggested. Fortunately, the bodyguard agent was quick to point out was already being held “for a friend of the owner” (how convenient).

However, tellingly enough, neither of them gave me the standard Resident Information Form either before or after our tour with no mention of being put on their “wait list” – even if it was just as a courtesy. They did seem unusually happy to see me leave though, and (despite wasting an hour waiting for them) I was equally happy to be out of there in less then ten minutes

 

Categories: Ablism, adventures, apartment hunting, Autism, Baltimore, Fells Point, neighborhoods | 1 Comment

PSA: New content coming

So, as I said before on this blog, my lease is expiring sometime in June. This weekend, I plan on doing something about it. I’ll be touring apartments in both Baltimore and my former (future?) home state of Pennsylvania. I’ll still post photos/travelogues of various events and destinations, they just won’t be exclusively Disney.

Case in point, look for content about my trip on this blog as well as a few non-apartment hunting related destinations in the coming days.

Categories: adventures, announcements, apartment hunting, Baltimore, lehigh valley, news, Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

A charming idea

I bought myself a new laptop for Christmas, and it came with preloaded with one of my least favorite operating systems – Windows 10. One of the “features” of this system is a program called “OneDrive” which automatically uploads all of my files to something called the Cloud… up to 5GB, and then I’m out of space and my laptop is virtually useless until I “free up space” or “go Premium.”

I’m at 4.6GB… and that’s after permanently deleting over 100 cartoons, memes and photos from my system (as deleting files from OneDrive automatically deletes them from my laptop as well). In order to keep this up, I’m going to have to make some sacrifices.

Sure, some photos can be taken off without any problem, but I found photos of my mom holding her grandniece for the first time when they were babies (the oldest starts COLLEGE in the fall 😮 ) and one of my aunt playing with the girls by mom’s pool when they were 3 or 4yo. As I said, if I delete them from OneDrive, they are gone forever.

Moreover, I also have pictures from my time in Baltimore. Pictures of festivals, pictures of places and it made me wonder if I still had enough usable photos to make a book out of. Maybe, I could include some old blog posts about these events/places (assuming they’re still on here) for color commentary. I like this idea, but it raises a huge question: Who would BUY it?

Better question: What would I call it? I kind of like “Charmed: Five years of Life in Baltimore,” but that doesn’t all that interesting (or marketable).

 

Update: I went through all of my surviving photos from 2009-2014, and I don’t have enough for a collection. I might be able to collect posts from the blog (a lot of them were lost in a mini crash on my last laptop). A collection like this could boost my confidence… or crush it when it doesn’t sell.

 

Categories: Baltimore, photography, ramblings, writing | Leave a comment

Lease then ideal conditions

I didn’t want to.

I really didn’t want to renew my lease for a mold infested apartment for another year… so I didn’t. I could pay $200 more per month for six months (in addition to the “standard” $115 rent jump), or I can “upgrade” to a one bedroom/one bath unit and pay only $150 more in base rent. I still plan on moving… but not for six months. It’s not ideal, but it works…sorta.

I’m still looking for places. The problem is, I haven’t nailed down where yet. I want something suburban… but I don’t have a car. Unfortunately, any meaningful form of public transit it found in the city. Along with crime, traffic and, worst of all noise.

I would move back to Baltimore, but that not only has a “been there, done that” aura to it – it also feels like “giving up.” Pretty soon, I’d be writing unpaid “theatre reviews” no-one reads (I know, I checked my site stats), and that’s the absolute LAST thing I want. I know Autism is all about “sameness” and “routines,” but my last “official” diagnosis was ADHD so I can’t stand doing the same thing over and over again adfuckingnauseam. Let’s not forget all sorts of “fun” (aka “horrible and traumatic”) memories it would kick up (you can look them up yourself, many of them are still on here).

Both New York and DC have better access to jobs and have more expansive transit options… but they’re a LOT more expensive to live in. Sure, I can make it work, but I just don’t see it happening. I also looked at Myrtle Beach because it was listed as 2018’s “Best cheap beach town” by some magazine or another (and after checking various apartment rental sites, I can confirm they are)… but their one bus line stops service at 10pm.

One place I’m looking at is Philadelphia. It has its own mix of cheap split up townhouses with shared laundry rooms, and newer “luxury” units… but I’ve never lived there, so it would all be new to me. Pluz (uhn-lieg Fladda), I a’reddy speeg da lag-wedge.

The main problem right now is inventory. There’s just not much available this time of year compared to April or May when the school year ends and graduation season begins. Hopefully, by then, I’ll have better news for you…

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(Art credit: Emm Roy, Emm’s Positivity Blog)

 

Categories: apartment hunting, Baltimore, florida, Health, Orlando, Pennsylvania, Philadephia, Williamsburg | Leave a comment

Defending the indefensible

Donald Trump is a racist. Period.

He’s also an idiot who tweets petty, childish things on a daily basis.

This weekend, his tweets were aimed at Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore City (and parts of Howard/Ann Arundel Counties). They were vile, unconscionable… and, sadly, correct.

This isn’t to say I agree with his attacks on Cumming[s], but that my former home city (2008-2014) has a lot of problems that have nothing to do with the 11 year representative (whose office on the bottom floor of The Symphony Center Apartments was only 10 blocks from my shitty, overpriced apartment in Bolton Hill) as any money he manages to bring into the city is promptly wasted on kickbacks to shady developers or outright corruption (funneling money for the poor into luxury gift cards, vanity publishing children’s books, lavish trips to Vegas, etc.).

It IS vile, rat infested (there was even a documentary about it released in 2017) with high crime, poor transit, block upon block of vacant rowhomes, and literally crumbling infrastructure– and, yes, I hated living there… but I’m not the first person to notice this (and neither was Trump):

“Anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you’re in a wealthy nation,” [Vermont Senator/Perennial presidential candidate Bernie] Sanders told The Baltimore Sun during a 2015 tour of the city. “You would think that you were in a Third World Country.”

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the city’s vibrant arts and theatre scene (which, full disclosure, I used to write about for the now shuttered Baltimore Guardian), it’s lively waterfront jogging trail, stunning aquarium, world-class sports teams (though 10-time national champions Baltimore Blast now play out of Towson), and famously cheap housing (which was part of the reason I moved there in the first place).

Sure, Baltimore isn’t perfect (far from it actually), but that doesn’t mean it deserves to have it’s already sullied name dragged through the political swamp for cheap, racist, political points. No, it deserves politicians – both local and national – who give a damn about the city and it’s people… even when it’s not an election year.

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Baltimore, editorials, news, politics | Leave a comment

Holiday week in review

Dec 21st – My flight from Orlando to Baltimore was frustratingly delayed over an hour for unknown reasons so it was already dark by the time we landed at Baltimore-Washington International. I’m used to BWI, but I was completely unprepared for cold, wind… or the 35-cent increase in Light Rail fares. Due to my relatively late arrival in HVTC (7:30pm), mom decided she would pick me the next morning so I had an awful dinner at Panera Bread and could barely find my hotel in the scarcely lit side street surrounding the mall, let alone feel my ears\nose\fingers.

Dec 22nd – Overnight in Hunt Valley. Nothing exciting to report here except that I was going to post Hanukkah memes, but couldn’t find enough that weren’t juvenile or anti-Semitic. I’m all for humor (which is why I compile these meme posts to begin with), but NOT at the expense of others.

We got back to Shamokin barely in time to meet my aunt (yes, THAT one, and while I wasn’t looking forward to it, it went relatively well) and her boyfriend at a popular pizza place in the next town over. I say “barely” because mom turned down the wrong street and got completely lost so we had to ask Siri how to get back. However, I can say with certainty that “the best pizza in town” isn’t.

Dec 24th – Normally, we spend Christmas Eve going to my parent’s friends the Nye’s house for a special holiday themed “open house” at 5:30 for dinner (featuring “Uncle Paulie” in the world’s least convincing Santa outfit) before heading over to the Candlelight Service (7pm). THIS year, instead of doing that we went to my brother’s house in Nazareth for a Christmas Eve dinner with his family (wife, and two young children). It was loud, hectic and crowded, but I got some nice pictures.

Since said dinner wasn’t until at least 5pm, mom decided it was safer to stay overnight. I was downstairs in the basement on an uncomfortable air mattress with sheets that were too small to actually be of any use. Fortunately, the ticking of the clock 3 feet away from said mattress was loud enough to keep me awake until the heat kicked on around 2am.

Dec 25th – Did I mention, the kids “slept in” until 6am? Slackers. By the time I admitted defeat and headed upstairs around 7:15am, the living and sitting rooms were a complete war zone. Toys, wrapping paper, boxes, unopen able plastic containers. On the plus side, my “gift,” a plastic card for a gas station (your brother has no license and no car and you get him a gift certificate to a gas station?) was waiting for me in a tiny box in an otherwise untouched stack of gifts on the other side of the sofa. Breakfast was at 9am and was good. As soon as we finished, we packed our stuff in mom’s van and drove 5.3 miles to my OTHER brother’s house in Bethlehem.

It was 11am by the time we arrived, and my sister-in-law had just put out the last of her Christmas brunch. My mom chastised me “how can you say you are trying to ‘lose weight’ when you had not one but TWO breakfasts in two hours?” The conversation at the table I shared with my mom, brother, SIL and her parents quickly went from light and humorous to dark and slightly disturbing (dead pets, bird attacks, death camps and Donald Trump. I pitied my SIL for trying to keep the conversation as light as possible. After less than an hour there, we left and made the roughly 90-minute commute back to the middle of nowhere, where we could contemplate our nothing lives. At least, I don’t need a password for my mom’s wifi…

Dec 26th – Before today, I would have assumed this would be a separate post. You see today is the day BOTH my brothers came to Shamokin and brought their kids with them…but we weren’t here to celebrate Christmas. We were here to work, cleaning up the garage, my dad’s den and what’s left of the basement. We got the den passable – in that one is actually able to pass through it without killing themselves.

The reason only ONE of the three areas was tackled was our mom decided since my eldest was coming in around 11am, we would meet him at a REAL pizza place along with my aunt and her boyfriend (who was able to come in because it was “slow” in his shop), my other brother came in with his family at quarter-til-12 so we weren’t out of there until almost 2pm.

After this, we were ready to work…until my middle brother got an important call on his cell which left us in limbo for almost a full hour. Finally, we get to go outside and open a mysterious chest in the garage (dad wanted “all 5 boys” present for it, but my 3yo nephew and his older sister went home with their mom after lunch). Good news, there was stuff inside it; bad news, it was boring stuff so my SIL took my remaining nephew home while the three girls stayed behind and played Clue in the living room with gramma while the three of us tackled the desk\cabinets\miscellaneous stacks of paper between them (dating back to 1973). The girls definitely won the night…

 

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, coal region, family, florida, flying, Harrisburg, holidays, light rail, Orlando, Pennsylvania, transportation, weather | Leave a comment

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