Today...

Sep. 24th, 2016 11:29 pm
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
Today the boy toy and I spent the day in Baltimore, visiting a couple of museums that waived their entrance fees today under a special Smithsonian program: the B&O Railroad Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Industry. (Sorry, photos are still in my camera.) Then we stopped at a diner-type restaurant that had been featured by Guy Fieri on the Food Network.

We had a great time ... but when we got home, we found a large hairball right in the center of the top of the coffee table.

Gee, thanks, Julia. :-P
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
On Monday, September 5, I marched in my town's Labor Day parade with my local Toastmasters club. While we were lining up to get ready for the parade, I took some photos that I thought might be of interest to CZ.

First, a couple of images of a plug-in BMW:

IMG_5335 Electric BMW in the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade 2016 IMG_5334 Electric BMW in the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade 2016

THEN ... I saw a car that looked an awful lot like the orange Porsche that CZ used to own back in the 2000s:

IMG_5336 Solar-powered Porsche at the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, 2016

Note the solar panels -- I sincerely doubt that these were factory-installed in 1974 or whenever the car was built!

IMG_5337 Solar-powered Porsche at the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, 2016
IMG_5339 Solar-powered Porsche at the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, 2016

I even photographed the dashboard for clues to the retrofit:

IMG_5338 Solar-powered Porsche at the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, 2016

Lots of other cool things. I really need to update my Flickr site.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Cut for potential triggers... )

I'm not sure what is going to come out of the man's death, besides people leaving mementos at the base of the Mother and Child statue. Perhaps a memorial fund that would help people who are down and out on their financial luck would be most fitting.

New year

Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:51 pm
luscious_purple: The scribal demon made me do it! (Titivillius)
Happy New Year to all!

The boy toy and I spent New Year's Eve together at home. We watched Jurassic World, our Netflix disc that's been sitting around for a while. It was OK. We ate various foods, including shrimp, and drank Lithuanian beer instead of champagne. :-)

Yesterday we felt like "going out and doing something." We thought we would walk around Arundel Mills mall, since, we haven't been there in ages, but the parking lot was SO insanely jammed that we turned around and headed back to Prince George's County. After a visit to A.C. Moore, we ended up at the "festival of lights" at Watkins Regional Park. It was the last night of the show, and for $5 per car we got to crawl in low gear past an imaginative computer-controlled light show featuring lots of snowmen, Santas, elves, scenes from "The Wizard of Oz" and toy soldiers directing us along the route. Thanks to our county park system!

Today the boy toy and I took down most of our Christmas decorations, except for the live greenery -- I have to figure out where to recycle/compost the stuff.

*yawn*

Nov. 15th, 2015 10:59 pm
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Long day. Had to get up early (after an episode of tossing and turning due to a weird dream) for the church Finance Committee meeting before the worship service. Then, afterward, I had to help count the money. Later the boy toy and I went to the farmers' market, and still later I had to gas up the car and go up to Baltimore for Lithuanian dancing.

By the way, Maryland is the teeny little state with two NFL teams -- whose bright idea was it to schedule two home games at the exact same time??? Couldn't the games be, y'know, played at staggered times or something???

Anyhow, now that I have come home and had a late dinner, I'm watching Talking Dead and yawning my head off.
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
So, I voted. It was about five minutes before the polls closed, but I got there to cast my ballot for the municipal election. We have city council elections in the odd-numbered years; the school board and county posts happen in even-numbered "midterm election" years.

Usually the actual vote takes about 90 seconds, and then some volunteer makes you sit at a table and fill out a really long questionnaire about "community issues" that takes 15 minutes. Fortunately, my precinct was out of copies of that form, so I didn't have to slog through that particular chore.

Since moving here 16 years ago, I've voted in most of the city elections. I didn't vote when I first got here in 1999 because I'd literally been here only two months and was still completely uninformed. Also, there was one year when my early-evening dental appointment ran overtime and I couldn't get to the polls in time.

Still, I take my franchise seriously. I read the candidates' biographies and Q&As in the local paper. I voted for a mix of incumbents and challengers, but in the end the incumbents won (it was a race of 11 candidates running for seven council seats). Ah, well. Turnout was pretty pathetic as usual for a city contest, but next year, when the White House is on the line, the crowds will be overwhelming. I don't see why other people don't exercise their right to vote every year, but, hey, I did my time writing get-out-the-vote editorials for small-town newspapers back in the '80s. I did what I could do in the pre-Internet era.

Anyhow. In other election news, my friend Leslie was just voted in as a school board member in the New Jersey town where she lives. Congratulations to her! Up in Massachusetts, my hometown's Republican mayor was reelected, and my mother's hometown got a new mayor, a guy I once met at my cousin Steve's house (his wife and the mayor-elect's wife are longtime friends).

And so we move on to the Big Enchilada. I am so disgusted with the GOP's hatred of Barack Obama that I never plan to vote for a Republican again. There have been a few times in past years when I have voted for a moderate Republican -- when I lived in Connie Morella's district and I wanted to reward her for voting against Bill Clinton's impeachment, when John Silber was running for Massachusetts governor and I couldn't in good conscience inflict him on the rest of the state, and once when the Democratic candidate for state rep or state senator was anti-choice. However, now that the party has moved SO far to the right, I can't envision a similar scenario occurring ever again. To all the people who say "Vote the person, not the party," I respond: If you consciously choose to associate yourself with assholes, what does that say about YOU?
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
Today was the first time I'd ever gone to an "Oktoberfest" and ended up eating lousy Chinese food.

You see, the boy toy found a Web page for an event called Oktoberfest up in the Kentlands area of Gaithersburg. Since we both enjoy ethnic food and ethnic festivals, we thought it would be a cool thing to attend.

Kentlands, for anyone who's never heard of it, is a humongous New Urbanism development filled with perfectly manicured townhomes, expensive shops, and companies like AstraZeneca. To get to the food and beer area, we had to walk down several streets filled with pop-up tents full of people hawking stuff, from solar panels to local candidates (I live in the next county over). The music was mostly local groups playing covers of pop and rock songs. When we finally got to the food court, only half the vendors were offering anything that sounded vaguely German, and those had HUGE lines for food. Boy toy and I were really hungry for a late lunch, so we ended up caving and going to a Chinese food cart. The egg rolls were OK, but the lo mein was greasy and the boy toy despised the chicken on a stick. At least we got to listen to some Bavarian polkas while we were eating.

So the boy toy pronounced the event the lamest Oktoberfest he'd ever been too -- "it's more like the Yuppie State Fair," he said. I suggested that tomorrow night we make our own German meal with the brats we bought a couple of days ago, plus sauteed cabbage and potato pancakes. And in the future we'll try to attend the real ethnic festivals.
luscious_purple: Boston STRONG! (Boston Strong)
Friday, July 3: It would have been my parents' 68th wedding anniversary. Of course, my parents were married for 34 years and about 7 weeks before my Dad died. Consequently, in about 14 weeks I'll be able to say that the time that has elapsed since my father's death is equal to the length of their marriage.

Saturday, July 4: Pretty quiet day staying at home. The boy toy and I binge-watched the second half of the first season of Turn on Netflix. We had watched the first half of the first season and then never got around to seeing the rest. Of course, we haven't seen the second season yet, and it's no longer on FiOS-on-Demand, so we'll have to wait a bit longer. In the evening, I went to the next court over in my condo complex to watch the municipal fireworks, while the boy toy stayed indoors to reassure poor Julia.

Sunday, July 5: Boy toy and I stopped at the farmers' market, where we bought our first peaches of the season, and then we drove down to the southern end of Calvert County (southern Maryland). We had a nice meal of fish and chips and checked out the Calvert Marine Museum, which has a little bit of everything -- dinosaur bones and other fossils, aquariums containing live fish, many different boats, tons of artifacts from the oyster and crab industries, and a restored lighthouse, complete with attached outhouse. (Apparently the museum hosted an outdoor Barenaked Ladies concert on Friday night. Dang.) On the way back home, we cruised some of the Calvert County byways in a search for public beaches that might be worth visiting in the future.

Coming up this week: work on my next freelance magazine article and an attempt at water aerobics class.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
I have SO much to write about. Trust me on this. Stuff that I have been reading on the Internet (no, NOT hate speech, I am not getting bad influences like last week's mass murderer down in Charleston) and other stuff that happened over the Internet. Good stuff and sad stuff, with plenty of navel-gazing thrown in for good measure.

But I might as well start with the excitement around the neighborhood last night.

Yesterday was supposedly the hottest day around here since last July 2. I didn't plan any excursions outside of my air-conditioned condo. When it gets that hot, you just know that there are going to be some mighty thunder-boomers in the early evening.

And so the storms raged, with a mighty downpour and bright flashes and loud rumbles. And as the boy toy and I finished eating dinner, one emergency vehicle after another tore down the main street into our neighborhood, with sirens blaring and lights flashing.

Now, after 15 years here I know that the public safety people send two or three vehicles for almost any call to one of the multi-family buildings around here, even a little burnt-up roast that sets off the smoke sensors. But this was a whole freakin' parade of emergency vehicles, and not yet the Fourth of July.

The rain stopped right around the time I finished eating, so I grabbed my camera and headed outside. The street that makes a T with my street just a bit north of my building was completely clogged with ambulances, ladder trucks, pumping trucks, and SUVs belonging to various captains and chiefs. Even the bright pink (I mean, Pepto Bismol pink) ambulance from College Park was there.

But I didn't see anything happening. So I walked up one of the hilly driveways into the apartment complex that sits across the street from me, and then I took a left, and then I saw a whole bunch *more* emergency vehicles, mostly fire trucks, with a huge green-LED-illuminated ladder reaching up to the roof of one building and thick hoses running all over the place.

Apparently, at the height of the storm, a bolt of lightning hit one of the garden-style apartment buildings that I can't see well from my home's vantage point. And that started a fire on the top floor of that building. Fortunately, NO ONE was hurt -- neither the residents nor the firefighters. But some people will be out of their homes for the foreseeable future.

Here's one of the photos I took:

IMG_2233


By the time I got there, the big flames were out and the firefighters were just mopping up and hosing things down to make sure there were no hot spots.

The rest of my album is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/34356022@N03/sets/72157654580579568

Again, I'm glad no one was hurt.
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
Spring is officially OVER. The DC area was the hottest part of the USA today. Hotter than Florida, Georgia (including Tall Dancer's metro area), south Texas, Arizona, LA....

Bleah. Still getting used to warm weather after the long, cold winter.
luscious_purple: Boston STRONG! (Boston Strong)
I guess I shouldn't complain that LJ doesn't have much content on it if I don't contribute some of that content, eh? Ah, well, here are some ramblings.

Last Friday night was Halloween, and here at my humble condo we had one trick-or-treater. ONE. Maybe next year, when Oct. 31 falls on a Saturday, the boy toy and I should just go out somewhere and not bother with the candy thing. I mean, I *want* to give out candy as payback for all the candy I got as a kid (not to mention all the Girl Scout cookies, magazine subscriptions, and high-school musical tickets that I peddled door to door). But, hey, if the world doesn't want to accept my karma....

Earlier this week I was shocked to learn that the older of the two "Car Talk" guys died. The boss I had at the job in the mid-1990s hated to drive in DC but loved to listen to "Car Talk." (He was one of my better bosses over the years. When I returned to DC after my mother died, he and his wife picked me up at National Airport and drove me to their apartment for dinner, and then drove me home.)

And now I'm getting tired, so I will just list some links about Tom Magliozzi and also about former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who was apparently quite beloved.

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/03/357428287/tom-magliozzi-popular-co-host-of-nprs-car-talk-dies-at-77

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/06/08/154576808/car-talk-guys-are-retiring-but-their-best-stuff-will-be-rebroadcast (from two years earlier)

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/11/03/361190483/fans-and-colleagues-remember-car-talk-host-tom-magliozzi

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/10/31/menino-last-tour-boston-funeral-procession-route-announced/uoYR65HKQsuB6eZPA3DNYK/story.html

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/10/30/tom-menino-heart-extended-lgbt-community/FjJ3aLYvw4CFmAXDWl8wJM/story.html

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/30/thomas-menino-boston-longest-serving-mayor-has-died-age/zAuWXQ4ccPJSv7uuW0kcDK/story.html

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/10/30/kid-from-hyde-park-tom-menino-campaign-for-boston-city-council/oH3g8CRtYP7Sznv5d5IcVO/story.html (I need to finish watching this 30-year-old documentary preserved on YouTube!)

One more death: the guy who invented Corning Ware.

As far as the midterm election goes ... the less said, the better. Disgust, anger and worry are all among the emotions I've felt following the results. After I voted Tuesday morning, the boy toy and I drove out to Antietam National Battlefield for the afternoon. He had never seen Antietam, I hadn't been there since 1996, the weather was gorgeous, and it seemed far more meaningful than listening to the chattering class all day long.

Fireworks

Sep. 22nd, 2014 04:15 pm
luscious_purple: i'm in ur fizx lab, testin ur string therry (string therry)
Still haven't gotten around to writing up the rest of my birthday weekend and posting the photos of it, but here's where to go to get a video of the magnificent fireworks around Baltimore Harbor on September 13th:

http://www.wbaltv.com/news/watch-the-starspangled-200-fireworks/28050938

Of course, I didn't actually see the fireworks in person because I was still at the SCA event. But I'm glad I can enjoy them vicariously.

July 5

Jul. 5th, 2014 11:17 pm
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
Yesterday was a low-key day, despite what my cat might have told you. :-) Over yesterday and today, the boy toy and I have watched all the episodes of the HBO series John Adams. We've seen them all before, but somehow it seemed like a good weekend to contemplate the origins of our nation.

Today the boy toy and I went out for a late lunch (our main meal), and then we went for a walk around Lake Artemesia. He'd never been to that park, which has a different vibe from the lake in our neighborhood. It was such a gorgeous day -- moderate heat and humidity, not a cloud in the sky -- much more like a Massachusetts summer day than our usual mid-Atlantic murk! I couldn't let the day go by without spending some of it outdoors. (And, hey, I gotta prep for Pennsic. *smile*)

Speaking of Pennsic, after our walk I pinned together the pattern pieces for my Ottoman coat, minus the sleeves. I would like to make a vest out of the remaining cloth that I didn't use for the coat, so that I can have a Turkish outfit for really hot weather. I'll probably send a photo of the thing to the woman who taught the Ottoman clothing class last fall, and also seek opinions at next Saturday's Storvik sewing party.
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
Yesterday was the boy toy's B-day, but I had a short article to write (freelance). So while I worked on that, he did some laundry. Later in the afternoon, we went to the local co-op supermarket to get the monthly "patron appreciation day" discount (5 percent off everything). In the evening I cooked us a meal from one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks: a fish frittata with a light waldorf salad on the side. It came out OK; I wouldn't want to eat it every day, but it was tasty enough for a change.

Today we went into DC. First we stopped at the American History Museum to see the exhibit on the 1960s, because the building first opened in 1964 -- 50 years ago. It was a small but good-quality exhibit, featuring a beautifully restored 1964 Ford Mustang, a diorama of the New York World's Fair, and some glass tubes from an early build-your-own-laser kit. Then the boy toy noticed the tents for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall, so we walked around that for a while. It was warm and mildly humid, but not oppressively so (like SO many summer days around here).

Next we took the Orange Line to Eastern Market because neither one of us had ever been there. The building itself reminded me of what Quincy Market in Boston might be like if it hadn't gotten all gussied up for the tourists. We didn't bring an insulated bag and we usually get our fresh meat at the Amish market anyway, but we did pick up a chunk of Parmesan cheese.

Finally, we walked a few blocks to a Cuban/Puerto Rican restaurant and had a late lunch slash early dinner. His meal turned out to be a HUGE platter so he will be getting a second meal out of that.

Less than three months to go till my own birthday, which I will share this year not only with the Barony of Storvik, but also Our National Anthem as it hits the Big Two-Oh-Oh. About time I check out some of the festivities at Fort McHenry, and maybe we'll find a cool restaurant somewhere in Baltimore.
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
While I was out enjoying myself yesterday, and thus not sitting in front of a computer or TV screen, the shooting at the Mall of Columbia (Maryland) happened. As you probably have heard by now, a young man with no prior criminal record shot two people dead before turning the gun on himself. This all went down about 20 miles from where I live (although I wasn't even in Maryland at the time).

For a pretty accurate summary of the way I feel about this crime, read this. So far, law enforcement officials have yet to figure out why this person killed two others and himself, other than the mere fact that he could.

Whew...

Nov. 7th, 2012 01:26 am
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
I've been monitoring the election results all night, but I didn't crack open a beer (Sam Adams, of course) until CNN called the election for Obama around 11:18 p.m.

This was the fourth election in my lifetime in which a Massachusetts candidate ran for president as the nominee of a major party. Granted, during the first such election, I was in diapers. In the second and third such elections, I hoped and hoped for another victory so I could savor what my parents had favored, but I got my hopes dashed.

I could not stand Romney, not one bit, but it still felt a bit weird to see "Boston, Massachusetts" up in the corner of the screen while he was giving his brief speech (with his plastic face).

But now that's past, and I am admiring Our 44th President once again. Signed, sealed, delivered, he's ours!

Tonight was great on many fronts. Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts! Tim Kaine in Virginia! Jerks like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock defeated! Marriage equality passes in Maryland and Maine! I feel immensely relieved.

Well done, America.

Now, let's move forward!
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
On the National Geographic channel, I'm watching some guy (from Medford, MA) who makes his own robots. One of them is designed to fetch a can of beer out of the fridge and another goes around and puts out small fires. Gee, don't invite the latter one to Pennsic! I'm imaging the thing rolling down Cariadoc's Way and extinguishing fire bowls and tiki torches left and right.

In the last few days, I've gotten word that the Denny's in my town and the California Tortilla in College Park have both closed permanently. I'm sure that a few people have lost their jobs, and I'll have to drive farther if I want to eat at other Denny's or Cal Tort franchises. Dang. The Denny's was particularly convenient when our neighborhood had a power outage but that shopping center was brightly lit.

Dunno what to say about the Penn State situation that hasn't already been said. Just ... eeewww.
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
All the well wishes -- more than 70 and counting on Facebook! -- are very touching. Especially for someone who thought she would never have any friends when she was growing up.

And today I got to spend most of today "doing what I love" -- i.e., writing and revising this article. Oh, well, it's on a subject I enjoy. Things could be worse in that department.

As it turned out, the combination of "middle of the week" and "middle of the month" meant only a short wait at the MVA to get my driver's license renewed. I'm good for another five years now. (Helpful tip for Maryland residents: You can check the "wait times" right here when the MVA offices are open. How convenient!)
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
Stumbled upon: It's "John Hopkins" now.

(Baltimore, April 1, 2010) The Johns Hopkins University announced today that it is bowing to the inevitable and officially changing its name to "John Hopkins."

"We give up," university President Ronald J. Daniel said. "We're fighting a losing battle here. And we strongly suspect the extra 's' was a typo in the first place."

Since its establishment in 1876 as America's first research university, Daniel said, anyone and everyone has stumbled over "Johns Hopkins," omitting the seemingly superfluous "s" altogether or dropping it randomly into the name anywhere but where it belonged.

"It's not just 'John Hopkins,'" Daniel said. "We've heard 'John Hopskins.' We've heard 'John Shopskins.' One flustered high school kid in an admissions interview the other day actually called us 'Bob Hoskins.'"

... Squads of staff members fanned out early today over the university's campuses throughout the Baltimore-Washington area; in Bologna, Italy; and in Nanjing, China. They employed screwdrivers, chisels, spackle, spray paint - whatever it took to remove the annoying surplus sibilant from residence halls, lab buildings, buses and trucks.

Faugh.

Mar. 31st, 2010 09:40 pm
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
'Twas the night of the Bradford Pear Stench,
When all up and down the street
Every old man, old woman, laddie and wench
Did wish once again to Winter meet.


OK, I *know* I'm never going to be Poeta Atlantiae. :-P

Fortunately, the stink will go away in a day or so (to be followed hard on by the dreaded Green Spooge). But tonight, the tall, white-flowered trees rival the Dumpsters as the local malodorant.

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