Monday, June 29, 2009

Cash Not Accepted

On the plane back from Raleigh last week, the flight attendant announced that alcoholic beverages could be purchased by passengers - but not with cash. "No cash?" I thought. "Does Uncle Sam know about this?" Is it legal to refuse legal tender?

It seems to the average consumer that the answer is printed right on the money. For instance, right above Georgie's head on the mighty uno, it says: "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." But, as with everything, there is a catch. At this point, I am a (mostly) sober passenger on a plane and I have paid for my ticket. I have no debt. Apparently, it is perfectly legal for a business to refuse cash (or other means of payment) for services not yet rendered. So, they cannot serve me a gin and tonic and then tell me I need to pay with a credit card. But the pre-gin announcement is perfectly legal.

Poo. I totally thought I was going to bring down the congomeration of corporates, trying to track each and every purchase. I thought my blog would rise to Pulitzer caliber.

I did find some interesting conversations while researching this post. The most informative (yet worded for us laypersons) was Legal Lad. He had court case precedents and other impressive stuff that did not sound made up. "Democratic Diva" posted a blog entry about how she tried to pay a $4.50 parking fee on the way out of a garage with a $50, and the attendant told her they would not accept bills greater than $20. She didn't have a smaller bill, they wouldn't take credit cards, and they wouldn't let her leave without paying. The post elicited lots of comments both for and mostly against her. I personally agree with her to some extent - because (she claims) they didn't post the policy on her ticket or at the front of the garage, they should have taken her money. But, she also implied (it never got that far) that they should give her change for the $50, and I do not think they are legally required to do so if they don't have the change.

I also found Ron Paul's blog, which posted an annoucement titled "Cash not longer accepted for tolls in Montgomery county, Maryland!" Not to say that I am not guilty of a typo here and there...but further reading of random gibberish leads me to believe it was just par for the course. My favorite comment: "This is definitely ashamed." The guy is a Republican, but even I was unwilling to accept that this is a presidential candidate's official site. Turns out it isn't. Phew.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Raven Good Time!

I have been getting some friendly pressure from my constant readers, reprimanding me for my absence of late. To be honest, I don't truly have time to write this post...especially since I have gotten behind on my own blog-following. I begin to write, then realize that unlike me, my blog friends have not been lazy/busy/uninspired/sleepy///(add more adjectives here, if you please). I begin to read their blogs, and forget to write my own.

So, what have I been doing? Aside from trips to Rochester NY (congrats Shani!), and Raleigh NC (for work, blah), I have been digging in sand for this year's City Sand Competition. The theme this year is "A Raven Good Time." For those unaware, Baltimore's NFL team, The Ravens, gets its name from a poem written by famous Baltimorean, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was born 200 years ago, so in honor of his birthday (which was actually in January), we...umm..made things out of sand. OK so: It turns out, this theme was HARD. Mr. Poe did not lead a very fun life - he was disowned by his parents and adopted by his aunt and uncle (who later disowned him). He married his first cousin when she was 13 and he was 25. He was an alcoholic, penniless, and suffered from chronic pain. His wife died when she was 25 from tuberculosis, and he was found dead on a street in Baltimore wearing someone else's clothes a few years later. The last place he had been seen alive was a bar. No "good time" inspiration from the man himself...and as for his stories? Well, they generally feature macabre scenes involving death and psychotic paranoia.

We ended up creating this:
It is called "Here's to You" and depicts the three roses left by an anonymous person every year on the anniversary of Poe's birth. The "Poe Toaster" leaves the roses by Poe's original grave marker...but this one is prettier. The church erected it near the front of the graveyard since so many people visit Poe's resting place. Too bad he wasn't so popular while he was alive. I desperately wanted to write: "Though Poe in life, he enriched the world!" on this, but we ran out of time.

Despite the rather unadorned look, this thing was not easy to make. Sand is heavy, and hard to work with. Especially for three hours in 90 degree weather! But I learned a lot, and I'm looking forward to next year! I only hope the theme is easier!!

Here's what The Baltimore Sun had to say, and this one has pictures of the other sculptures - as if my loyal fans would care! Actually, they are all pretty cool...

Now, I really must be off. We are going to (yet another) open house, and then to see the new movie "Up!" in 3D! Hopefully, I will be better at keeping you posted.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mmm...Manure? Again?

When I started this blog, I never would've thunk I'd use this title twice. But it seems fitting for my topic of the day: City Mice vs Country Mice. I am a Country Mouse. I grew up in a rural area. Some experiences I never had: riding a public (non school) bus. Ordering a pizza for delivery to the house. Walking to a store. Walking to school. Riding my bike on a street with traffic. Parallel parking.

Now that I am a Country Mouse in the "big" city, I am quite comfortable walking to the store. In fact, I love walking to the store. I can also parallel park and ride my bike on a street with traffic about 90 percent of the time without fear of death. Well...maybe 85 percent of the time. I am still not all that comfortable ordering food to the apartment or riding on public transportation. Walking in the city, especially when there are many people about, is somewhat unnerving for me. I assumed this was the case with everyone.

I found out yesterday that this is not so. City Mice apparently fear large open spaces. A remark was made that "someone could die out there and there would be no one around to help." As a child, traipsing through the woods behind our house for hours on end, I never had such a thought.

People from New York City love their neighborhoods. They do not understand why anyone would want to live in New Jersey (or any other part of the country for that matter.) Many of these people have never left the metro area.

People from small rural towns love their land. They do not understand why anyone would venture to a noisy, smelly, crowded city (or any other part of the country for that matter.) Many of these people have never traveled more than 20 miles from home.

City Mouse or Country Mouse, we all fear the same thing: the unknown. Perhaps we are not so different after all.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Partying Like Its 1999

They say 30 is the new 20, but I put that saying to the test this weekend.

After accompanying my grandmother and sister to a Friday night cabaret dinner featuring show tunes and "bongo-bongos" (an eclair-like Italian dessert), I came home to greet my poor unattended guests Jamie and Aunt Wendy. I caught a few hours of shut-eye and arose at 6:30am to send the girls off to lacrosse and shopping, then prepped the house for the arrival of more guests - my mom, dad, and sister. They arrived mid afternoon bearing gifts and delicious chocolate peanut butter cake for my (soon to be) birthday.

They left at 9pm, and Adam and I headed out to catch the end of the Starscape Fesitval in Baltimore. The festival featured a cool lineup of bands including the Disco Biscuits and Lotus, and five stages. Even though we arrived at the venue at 10pm, we managed to take in about 6 hours of music. I know!! For those unfamiliar with my quirks, I should mention that staying up all night is not one of my fortes. As a kid, I was always the first to fall asleep at a sleepover, and I can only remember one successful "all nighter" studying in college. (It eneded at 5am when a group member accidentally stabbed herself with an exacto-knife while attemping to make a scale model of an energy efficient solar house.) I have had more success staying awake for parties...but I am more likely to be curled up on a sofa with drool running down my face than doing keg-stands. So, while I really really wanted to catch the 1am scheduled start time for the Biscuits, I was not able to offer any promises.

The Key Bridge at 2am.


Not only did I stay for (most of) the show, I was able to drive home in time to catch an hour of sleep before I had to drive my grandmother to her friend's house so she could return home. I got back two hours later and slept for a few more hours before meeting the real estate agent for another round of house hunting.

I learned 6 things on my adventures this weekend:
1. Set the GPS to avoid tolls for local traveling. It tried to take me on a route that cost $4 just to save 8 minutes of drive time.
2. Cabaret: a café that serves food and drink and offers entertainment often of an improvisatory, satirical, and topical nature. This could mean just about anything...
3. It is sometimes cool to get things you already had, only better. Come next blog, I'll have pictures taken with my new, slim, fancy camera! So long, klunky old dinosaur! (Though I am glad Jamie got it back from Pennsylvania. Finally.)
4. For all you men out there. Rule #3 does not apply to girlfriends and/or wives.
5. You are never too old to party. You just need to rest longer in between.

6. Travelling by golf cart through a crowd. Doesn't work. Apparently this guy needed a hands on lesson.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Wha-ha-ha, I return to drink your blood, um, I mean, to regale you with fine tales of mirth and misery (as the case may be.) Today's tale is really neither, so I suppose I have lied once again. I've been silent for the past few days because I have been in Philadelphia for a training and (gasp) I have had no internet access. So today's topic is yet another wide-eyed observation on how quickly technology is changing. Before leaving for my trip, I received my first birthday present: a GPS. Now, I am not certain how I ever lived without one of these gadgets. Totally gone was all my normal away-from-home stress. Need gas, but don't know which way to turn? Type "fuel" into the "where to?" line, and you're off. I loaded addresses of my uncle, my friends, and the train station, and was instantly directed to my destination each time. I was lucky enough to meet a friend in the city for lunch, but had I been unlucky, I could have typed "food" and received walking instructions in the middle of the city. So cool!

This leads me to a second brilliant and astute observation: all cities in this country are the same. I passed about 20 eateries in Philadelphia which are located in my own B-more Backyard: PF Changs, Sullivan's Steakhouse, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, ESPN Zone, Hard Rock Cafe, Ruth Chris, etc, etc. My uncle told a story of an awesome Brazilian restaurant he went to, and I found out it was Fogo de Chao - which we have in Baltimore. It's crazy. One of the other girls in the seminar mentioned great drink specials at a bar called Tir Na Nog down the street...and 100 miles away on Baltimore's harbor. I thought many of these were unique, yet I continue to discover new locations in every city. Perhaps the mom-and-pop diners went out with the shops.