Sunday, May 24, 2009



Finally, a moment to rest. I had one of those weeks. It began with rising early to bike to work and paying mucho moolah for new brakes. It continued with rising early and rushing to work in order to frantically attempt completion of three jobs in less time than was allotted. Despite the frenzy, I left work for about four hours on Wednesday to watch My Love as he was officially revealed to the world as a doctor. I would not have missed his graduation, but I wish they would have scheduled it on a Saturday like a normal school.

The futility of my frenzy was realized, but the battle raged on into Thursday, when I arose early once again and stayed late at work. That night, we had tickets to see Trey Anastasio of Phish play with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This was an amazing show, just for the shear oddness of it. Trey made playing a guitar with a 50 person band look easy, and the BSO Maestra Marin Alsop is simply amazing. She has made some liberal changes to the BSO's repertoire - including playing with "rock stars", bringing Disney compositions to kids, and playing the musical backdrop to "Psycho" as the movie plays. I feel lucky to live in one of the few places in the country that employs a full-time symphony, and even luckier that they are making attempts to reach out to us "uncultured" folk and exploit the natural love for classical music we all have. Despite my exhaustion, I was entertained.

Bounce to Friday, when I woke early and drove to work. Again. At lunch, I returned the camera borrowed for the graduation. As I backed out of a parking space, there was a minor fender bender. Actually, a bumper bender. I suppose my subconscious decided paying mucho moolah for one car was not enough. I should pay for two. Luckily, I was too tired to be overly distraught. Back to work after what turned out to be a two hour lunch. So much for coming in early. Project #1 - Done. Project #2 - Done. Project #3 - well...not so done. I made a conscious decision at this point. My body could not take any more days of stress. It was the project, or me. I chose me. I went home and slept for about 13 hours. For the first time in ages, I awoke yesterday feeling awake and refreshed. Maybe I will go to work and get the project closer to completion. But first, we need groceries, and I need peace of mind.

I think I will make some more tea....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bike to Work

Last week, we got an email: Bike to Work! For a good cause, to save gas, to get exercise! Like most people, my initial reaction was, (whiney voice), "But its tooo haaard!!" Not to mention I had a distinct fear of being hit by a car. Geesh, I am not even that comfortable with Baltimore drivers while in the confines of my Cavalier. I was not about to brave the shoulderless hills of my typical commute on my bike.

We got a second email: Bike to Work! And join us for fun bike activities like tune ups and rail trail rides! Raise money for a good cause, save gas, exercise! Still, I resisted. Sure, I like biking. My mountain bike is a prized possession. But mountain bikes are meant for woods. I have heard very few accounts of trees zooming in fast from behind and speeding past with inches to spare while spewing emissions in one's face.

A third email: We figured out a car-free route! Just meet us at the park and ride! Support charity, blah, blah, blah....OK. They got me. At the last minute, I sent the reply committing myself to meeting someone so I could Bike to Work. And save gas. And exercise. And get my car into the shop. I really needed brakes. They were making an awful grinding noise when I tried to stop, and frankly, I was afraid to drive the car.
(Aside to mom - Just kidding!! I say this fopr dramatic effect! Surely I would not be so lax in car maintenance! I am responsible and reliable!!)
(Aside to everyone else - Seriously. I had premonitions of flying down a hill, unable to stop in time and being splatted in all directions.)

Monday morning: I awoke at 6:15am and left the house at 6:30. We have showers at work, so no sense in losing (much) sleep. I rode my bike 38 minutes to the rendezvous point. This would have taken less time, but I rode about a mile out of the way to avoid crossing the interstate on-ramp. Then, the back road route. Hill #1, not too bad. Hill #2, ummm...ok. Hill #3, top. Hill #4, seriously? Again? Hill #5, I gave up. My guides (on road bikes) waited patiently while I huffed and puffed. I began to actually feel my ass weighing me down. Granted, I am aware of its gargantuan size, but I can normally manuever the load. Apparently, a few miles uphill make gravity a bit stronger. Hill #6, the steepest of all. One of my guides pointed out that the office was just to the right. Great. I climb this hill, and I get to work for 8 hours. What motivation.

The emails suggested we try to bike to work every day this week. I am going to try one more day. Maybe it will get easier??

PS-The brakes were $672! But it is nice to have a car that does not resemble a death trap....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Evil Empire

Warning: This post is yet another rant about the evil evil powers that be at Ticketmaster. On the bright side, I my anger has been slightly appeased by the introduction of caffeine into my system, and my acquisition of tickets to see Trey Anastasio play with the Baltimore Symphony, which has high probability of rocking. Woohoo!

Flashback to about two hours ago, when I checked email and got the OK from my sister to order tickets for my beloved childhood favorite, Annie! which is playing in Baltimore the weekend my grandmother is visiting.

Step #1 - In order to view prices and availability of seats on Ticketmaster, one must go through half the process of ordering tickets. It took me approximately 20 minutes to decide that we would prefer the matinee (which is for some reason more expensive than the night version for this show by $5 a ticket...) This because I searched for what is supposedly "best available" and "upper balcony" for both show times, which involves going back to the main search page four times and pretending to buy tickets.

Step #2 - Being a music lover, I have had to succumb to creation of an account with the evil empire in order to puchase tickets before, but it was unable to find my email address in the system. I attempted to create a new account, and due to a snafu with the number of characters in my chosen password, my connection timed out. For the first time.

Step #3 - I had to go back to the main page and re-create my selections, then attempt again to create an account using a password that matched the criteria which was not noted on the form, but mentioned after one had attempted a password. I thought I successfully created the password, and my connection timed out. For the second time.

Step #4 - Re-create selections, login with previously created password, and it doesn't work. For the third time, I attempt to create an account, and manage to do it with more than a minute remaining before the connection times out. "The email address you have entered already exists in our system," the page reads. Grrr... I click on the "Login" button and enter a few possible passwords. None work, and the connection times out just as I hit the "Forgot Password" link. Third time.

Step #5-Go to email, get temporary password. Re-create selections. Login. Success! Then it says "Enter credit card number previously used for this account." ARRGH! My credit card was replaced about two weeks ago, and I no longer have the number handy. I click on the "Delete previous information" button as the timer clicks closer to zero. I begin entering my new personal information, hit submit, and the thing, of course, has timed out. For. The. FOURTH. Time.

Step #6- I think at this point that it will be easier to drive to the box office downtown and purchase tickets there. I even begin plans to stop at a nearby bar after the business is settled. But the box office closes at 3pm and it is already 2:15. Probably cutting it close since I am not properly dressed for public viewing.

Step #7 - Re-enter the ticket info, and login successfully. Three $50 tickets cost $202. Evil ticketmaster has charged an additional "convenience charge" of $10.50 PER TICKET (yes, this is over $30, and the site, as noted, was decidely INconvenient); a $2 facility fee; $9 for parking PLUS an additional $2 garage facility fee. That little orphan better be singin' her heart out, and I expect to see real helicopters when Punjab makes his heroic rescue. I am bitter, but happy to finally have a confirmation number. Because I am sure there will be no problem actually recieving the tickets. Sure.

After my hellish ticket purchase, I decide to relax with coffee and click on my Phish Update email. This is where happiness returns again to my little world (but bitterness for Ticketmaster remains.) You see, I have recently registered my actual email address with Phish for the updates. For the past ten years or so, the updates have been sent to what is now more of a junk account. Result - I missed out on tour tickets for the entire summer because I missed the updates. It is a source of much saddness and regret. But today, the update noted that Phish's band leader, Trey, will be performing in Baltimore, and a "small number" of tickets are available. Not expecting much (Phish tickets are known to sell out in under a minute), I clicked the link. I found the event and was redirected to Tickemaster to search for seats. Wonder of all wonders, it found seats!! Mircale of all miracles, I successfully logged on and purchased tickets. Totally unsurprisingly, I was charged $9.60 per ticket for this convenience, plus a few other fees amounting to a total of over $15 per ticket. Evil.

But at least I will sort of see a Phish show on this tour.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Earth: Still a Formidable Frontier

This weekend I finally got around to attending the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Baltimore. This is a cool event where contestants create man-driven floats (called Kinetic Sculptures) and "race" all around the city. It includes a water portion through the harbor, a sand pit, a mud pit, and a putt putt hole atop a pagoda.

My friends, Anne and Dwight, aka Dr. Spock and Star Trek Babe, piloted a 1/52nd scale replica of the Star Trek Enterprise through the streets (and shores) of Baltimore. While space may pose no threat to this ship, it unfortunately turned out to be a little low to the ground when it attempted the mud trap. Still, I think everyone had fun.

Some pics from this year's race:

The USS Enterprise (1/52nd scale)

A Star Trek Babe? (BTW, this guy is an ex-Marine and may kick my ass for posting this...but I say we are even because his legs look way better than mine in a pair of stockings.)

An impersonator of Dr. Spock - one can tell by the rubber bands she had to put on her fingers in order to give the Live Long and Prosper Sign

"Voodoo Air" is "dirigible travel as it never was" complete with a full Jazz band

The "Rocky Horror Picture Shoe" which ironically did not feature men dressed as ladies.

I would post more photos, but I think blogger limits me to five. You can check out more at the official web site, and find out who won some of the ridiculous prizes. Anne and Dwight won for Speed, but prizes are also awarded to the "Grand Mediocre Champion" (the sculpture that finishes dead in the middle); the "Golden Flipper" (the sculpture that manages to overturn and dump its occupants into the harbor most spectacularly); and the "Worst Honorable Mention" for the sculpture whose half baked engineering did not manage to deter its riders from attempting to finish the race.