Sunday, January 30, 2011

Visit to the Derrick Mason Show

Right before the end of the season I decided to take my son to The Greene Turtle in Owings Mills. The last game was coming up and I didn't know if they'd have the show during the playoffs. And Derrick Mason threatens to retire every year and you don't know if my actually be serious this time.

We arrived right around 5:30. The show starts at 6pm and runs until 8pm. The place was already packed, but we were able to get a booth near the back, but I could clearly see the radio platform. Derrick Mason and Stan White show up right around 6pm.

Here's Derrick Mason interacting with whom I would assume to be the producer.

The show is pumped over the speakers in the restaurant, but it is very unceremonious. It was right after Christmas as they were talking about their holidays as if anyone cared. Autographs. We want autographs!

During the first commercial break I literally throw my son up to the booth to get a photo of Mason signed. Mason signs it. He doesn't say anything to my son. Doesn't look at him. Doesn't acknowledge him in any way. Just signs it and hands it back to him.

Le'Ron McClain shows up around 7-ish as the "special guest". He's special alright. He sits and texts nearly the entire time. Doesn't look at the crowd. Doesn't talk to anyone except Stan White and Derrick Mason. Text. Text. Text. He acted like a 300 pound male version of my daughter, though with slightly darker hair.

Le'Ron? Le'Ron? Are you there???? OMG. Where R U? LOL. TTYL.

During the commercials - guess what they did? They sat there. Didn't talk to each other. Didn't talk to the crowd. I have to say - I'm very disappointed in this show. Derrick Mason is supposed to be cool. This ain't cool.

Commercial break. Text. Stare. Stare. Isn't this entertaining?

I send my son back up for another autograph for my nephew. He's hesitant to go. But he goes because I'm the dad. When he gets up there the autograph police tell him to go stand in a kid line that wraps around the fire exit behind the stage. He moves over to that line and stands there for almost an entire minute, then comes around with this disgruntled look on his face. "I'm not standing in that line. I'm ready to go home."

So my son's first experience with the Ravens up close is a big bust. He's not impressed with them. He's not impressed with the lines. He's not impressed with the autograph police. I'm not impressed with their lack of enthusiasm. Was it just a bad night? I don't know. I've never been to an event like this before, so I have no baseline. I hope Mason was just in a foul mood because he just heard that annoying Crystal Koons commercial on the radio. So we'll give him the benefit of the doubt and we'll try another event when it comes up.

P Stands For....

My three year old daughter has been learning her letters and their sounds. Additionally, she's grasped the concept of rhyming. She's starting to figure out by the sound what the first letter of a word is. And as every parent will tell you, 'my child is really smart'. In fact, listening to the helicopter mom's at school - 85% of all children are above average.

The other night I decided that to save some time, I would put her in the shower with me rather than giving her a bath of her own. So you know what's coming - she points and says, "what's that?" "It's a penis." "What does penis start with?" I pause. Quick-quick-quick. So what do I say? "Um.....usually a dinner and a movie."

The next day my son is on the laptop looking up planets. "Guess which planet I'm looking at now? Venus!" My 3 year old responds, "I know what rhymes with venus!!!"

Later, she picks up my son's Star Wars light saber and holds it between her legs. "Look, I have a penis!!!"

Oh, boy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Scott Sanzone - First DUI, Now MIA

Scott Sanzone, the Sykesville Councilman who was found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol was sentenced to one year of probation by the Carroll County District Court. If I'm not mistaken, probation is the harshest sentence allowed for a politician - especially when he is being prosecuted by a bunch of attorneys who hope to be politicians one day. I think it's called a professional courtesy.

Anyway, the Carroll County Times is reporting that Scott Sanzone hasn't attended a Sykesville Town Council meeting for four consecutive meetings since the October 19th incident.

In the words of the Ming-Ming the duck on the Wonder Pets, "This is sewious! We need to find Scott Sanzone. I want to organize the blogsphere and we'll create a search party. We must find him so that he can report to the next meeting!

Group one - you go check the bar at Beck's in downtown Sykesville. Group two - you check that new pub called County Cork Wine Pub. Group three - you check at the bar on the second floor of the Harvest Inn.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gas Man!

My wife and I were emailing each other about what we think the BGE bill will be this month. I guess around $400. It's been pretty darn cold for Maryland lately. It was 8° this morning. I can't remember when it's been that cold.

Anyway, my wife soon responded that the meter-reader lady actually just stopped by to read our meter. What a coincidence. This made me recall a memory from my childhood I grew up in Rosedale, which was basically an extension of Baltimore City - the only difference was which politician was misrepresenting you. Anyway, we lived in a rowhouse. The yard was probably 15 feet wide and 60 feet long. And we all had chain-link fences.

During the summer when we were home from school and the windows were open, we'd always here the guy from BGE walking through the neighborhood. The meters were on the back of the houses, so he would basically traverse the alley. But as he hopped each fence (rather than walking around) he would yell, "Gas-man!!!"

Does anybody else remember that?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lower Property Taxes in Baltimore City

This is a really interesting article with Loyola University Maryland (my alma matre) economics professor Steve Walters about how lowering property taxes in Baltimore City will help economic development in the city and influence more people to move back to the city.

When my parents moved out of Baltimore City and into Baltimore County in 1974 they said their auto insurance was cut nearly in half. When they moved from Baltimore County to Harford County in 1986, their car insurance and property taxes went down significantly. And with each move they had a quality of life improvement.

This interview provides some interesting points about such a move and the precedents for such a change.

Best News of Year - Olbermann Out at MSNBC

Finally!! News that makes the majority of Americans happy. Keith Olbermann was a) fired, b) quit, c) contract was not renewed. But who gives a rat's-butt? He's gone. That's what is important. No more Olbermann on MSNBC, the liberal home for talk television.

For those of you living under a rock, Keith Olbermann was even embarassing hardcore liberals with his leftist hate-filled tirades. He preached how Republicans were morons and used harsh language to constantly attack them. He said that Republicans were intolerant and hated people. Olbermann was extremely passionate about his beliefs. He certainly came off as being intolerant and hated people who didn't agree with this socialist-leaning beliefs. Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

He was a pain in the butt when he was on ESPN. He was a pain in the butt during his first showing on MSNBC. He was a pain in the butt when he was on Football Night in America. He was a pain in the butt during his second stint at MSNBC.

And for a guy who always preached about what he thought was right and what was wrong, he certainly got himself into trouble for doing what was wrong. He contributed to political candidates several times (including Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona), a clear violation of MSNBC policy. But he didn't care. He was the "real" Maverick.

So where will he end up now? Is he going to make a run for the Presidency on the Lunatic ticket? Will he try to rejoin ESPN again? Or will he just shut up and go away? We can only hope.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New to Eldersburg - Crown Petroleum - Round 3

For those of you who have lived in Eldersburg for a while, you'll remember the other two Crown gas stations. There was one on the corner of Liberty Road and Ridge Road. It later became a Texaco station, then a Shell station.

The other was on the corner of Route 32 and Route 26. It was bulldozed and is now the Wal-Green's.

You'll also remember the old Amoco station on Liberty Road near the present-day K-Bank, which happened to be Key Bank back then, but they got sued by the other Key Bank in Cleveland. Anyway, then Amoco merged with British Petroleum, so it soon became a BP Station, which then seemed to be closed every other week for a while. New management every month? It sure seemed that way.

Then it lay abandoned for the longest time. Remember last year when it was snow covered? I think the Express Shop, or whatever they called it, was stilled stocked with stuff. The police were using the entrance to do radar on Liberty Road.

Now open! Really? Sure doesn't look inviting. Look at all the trash piled up in front of the door.

Finally, late last year they started another makeover. This time it was converted to a Crown Station. However, they couldn't afford a new sign, so they just took a bed sheet and painted the Crown logo on it and draped it over the BP sign. But at least it's occupied now. Let's see how long it lasts.

And they finally cut the grass. I think it was about 2 feet high when they "remodeled".

Friday, January 21, 2011

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz Appoints Charged Drunk Driver to Government Position

In early December, newly elected Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz appointed fellow crony, former Baltimore County Councilman, and often-charged drunk driver Sam Moxley to a government position.

Moxley would become Assistant County Attorney if his appointment is accepted (and it may have been since the article was released).

I seem to recall Kamenetz saying he would run a responsible government if he got elected. Maybe he didn't say that. But I would say that hiring someone with a track record of disrespect for the law and reckless endangerment of the citizens of Maryland would not qualify this person to hold ANOTHER government position.

But as any political junkie knows, Baltimore County has a nice history of corrupt politicians including Spiro Agnew and Dale Anderson. Remember those guys?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fun Times at Big T's

I make it a point to go to the ghetto Carrolltowne Center as little as possible. This is the mall owned by Black Oak Associates that appears to be neglected. Well, this week we made an exception.

My son has been looking for different Star Wars Lego sets and has not been able to find them. Apparently the ghetto Wal-Mart in Eldersburg hasn't replenished its stock of Legos since Christmas.

So we went into Big Lots, whose sign has several lights out, as you see from the picture. What's a Big T? I can think of something. I entered the store with much anticipation. I could go for some Big T's!!! Much to my chagrin, it was actually still Big Lots. Anyway, as we walk in I tell my 2 older kids to push carts, but slouch over them like you see white trash do. You've seen those people at Wal-Mart pushing the cart, leaning on it so much that if the cart were pulled away from them they'd fall flat on the floor. Yeah, we did that.

As we're slummin' around the store, my wife is getting visibly irritated. "What are we looking for?"

I quickly glimpse around the store for something interesting and in a split second see a guitar-shaped container filled with popcorn with an Elvis sticker on the front of it. "I'm looking for a guitar-shaped container filled with popcorn with an Elvis sticker on the front of it!" I proclaim.

We walk around a bit longer and my 11 year old daughter comes running up to my wife and me, her face as red as a tomato, hysterically laughing, carrying a a guitar-shaped container filled with popcorn and an Elvis sticker on the front of it. "You're not going to believe this!!!!"

I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Thank you, Big T's!!!

Kittleman Out as Maryland Senate GOP Caucus Leader

Maryland State Senator Allan Kittleman, one of only 14 Republican State Senators in the Maryland General Assembly, was basically bush-whacked into resigning as the leader of the State Senate GOP Caucus this week.

His resignation came just after he announced that he was going to introduce legislation recognizing civil unions in Maryland. Gasp! This cannot be tolerated!!!

That was sarcasm. I honestly do not have an opinion on civil unions and gay marriage. But what I do have an opinion on is that Allan Kittleman is a moderate Republican and in a state run by liberal extremists bordering on being Socialists, Allan Kittleman is the Republicans' best bet for keeping the Republican Party relevant in this state.

I have met Senator Kittleman (hence the picture) and he is a leader. He is a very intelligent and knows what is going on in the community.

If the Maryland Republican Party thinks that it can push an agenda that would make George W. Bush proud, then they will be extinct in this state before too long. Allan Kittleman was the rational bridge between the two parties. If the Senate GOP promotes David Brinkley to the leadership position as I expect they will, the tone of the Republican Party surely will shift farther to the right.

This is the main problem with party politics. Most of the populace (at least across the nation as a whole) fall to the center of the political spectrum. And the Republicans and Democrats fall to the far fringes of that spectrum. The center is not adequately represented. While you could successfully argue that this is not the case in Maryland, it surely goes without saying that the closer the Maryland Republican Party is to the center, the more votes they will get. Politicians in "safe" districts can surely get elected with a far-right agenda, but they'll be standing in small numbers on most issues.

Is Kittleman setting himself up for a run for the Governor's mansion in 2014? It's surely possible. O'Malley will leaving office (thank God!!!). Kittleman is probably the most likely candidate at this point to go up against either current Lt Gov. Tony Brown, State Comptroller Peter Franchot, or Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler. But for the rest of the Maryland Republican Party, if they're smart they will continue to look to Senator Kittleman for leadership.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Midas - Their Service is Smoking!

I was thinking that when I write this post, it's really going to sound like I'm complaining a lot lately. You're probably thinking 'bitching' is a better word, but I reserve that word for Camaros.

During one of those flash 1 inch snow storms in December, my brakes suddenly acted differently. By suddenly, I mean that I was tapping them in slow creeping heavy traffic and without warning the brake pedal went all the way to the floor. As I pumped the brake, it was raise the pedal, but as I kept my foot on it the pedal would slowly sink back to the floor. This made me think that I had a busted brake line.

The next Monday evening I dropped the van off at Midas in Eldersburg. I usually drop my vehicle off that night whenever I need work done. And inevitably it's about 10 degrees outside and windy as cuss when I do this. Ever try to fill out that form in the cold wind with the pen that barely works?

I didn't get a call on the next day, which was slightly irritating, but I thought I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. They could be really busy.

I called on Wedensday and asked if the van was done yet. I was told no, but to call back later in the evening and it should be done. I got busy with the family and never called. So the next day (Thursday) I called again. Still not ready. Okay. Now it's officially getting irritating. No benefits of doubts anymore.

I call Friday. Well.......we thought it was the calipers and and brake line. The calipers were definitely broken as was the brake line (as I had suspected), but after fixing that the problem was not resolved. They told me they then put on a new manifold to see if that resolved the problem. It did not, and it would be too much work to take it off, so they were going to give that to me free of charge and not charge me for the labor to install a part I didn't need. I thought that was generous. ~~~

What it came down to was that they didn't know what was causing the problem. They suspected now that it might be the anti-lock brakes and it would be really really expensive to repair. However, they were going to contact Ford to find out if they have a log of any similar problems.

Monday arrives and Ford recommended that they replace the hydraulic control module. It was about $1000. So I approve the repair and I think it was Wednesday before it was done. That's right - 9 days. $1300. But the problem was fixed and the brakes work wonderfully now.

If it had just been for this part of the story, I probably wouldn't have written this blog post. It's this part that requires my complaint. While in their shop for 9 days, I think they smoked about 200 packs of cigarettes in my van. When I first got in I practically fell out of the driver's seat choking for oxygen. The EPA is constantly going after the auto industry and factories about pollution. Hey guys - how about the cigarette smokers at Midas?

It's been a couple of weeks since we got our van back, but I cannot deny that when I get in I still smell the smoke. Since I have covered parking at work I've left the windows open all day hoping to reduce the cigarette smoke smell. Ugh - it is so terrible.

Another funny(?) part of my story. I was telling a neighbor this exact story, but when I got to the part where I said the brake pedals sank to the floor and would pump up, but sink again, he said, "let me guess - it's either a failed manifold or a broken hydraulic control module." Are you f-in kidding me? What took Midas 9 days and several conversations with Ford's "professional" auto repairmen took my neighbor about 30 seconds to diagnose with only limited information from my story and not seeing the the vehicle.

So my conclusion - if you want your brakes repaired, I think Midas does good work at a reasonable price. However, they are a bit slow and your vehicle will reek of cigarette smoke for months.

Does anyone know how to get this smell out? Febreeze doesn't do it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Subway Hates Gift Cards Owned By Parents of Cancer Patients

If you know me you know that my family has had a difficult 3 months. My 3 year old daughter is battling leukemia (cancer of the blood). Since October 29th, my daughter has been in the hospital three times for a total of 23 days. This does not count the visits to the out-patient clinic that last from 10am until 2 or 3 or 4 or 5pm.

Unfortunately for my wife, she's been the caretaker for my daughter while I stay at home and take care of the other two kids, do as many chores as I can, AND work 40-50 hours per week. Let me tell you - it ain't easy.

Having to spend so much time in the hospital, it makes sense that we end up eating a lot of meals there, which means spending a lot of money. We have awesome friends and family and many of them have given us cash and gift cards to help us defray the costs of living at the hospital. The hospital also has given us gift cards to use at the few food places in the building, which include Subway, Mama Liardos, Donna's Cafe, and some other shop that sells higher-end sandwiches and soups.

Just this past week my daughter was back in the hospital for sepsis (blood poisoning - her body cannot fight off anything right now). So my wife was in the hospital from Sunday the 3rd until Friday, when we switched out and I was there until Sunday, and she returned and was there again until Monday night.

When I arrived she told me that Subway would not accept our gift cards. For some reason the 'machine wasn't working'. Okay. Things happen.

The next day I thought I'd give it a try myself. I ordered a 6 inch pastrami sandwich. I presented the cashier with my gift card. He examined the gift card as if it were a strange day-glow green crystal from the planet Krypton. "Are we accepting gift cards?" he asked the girl next to him. "No, it ain't working." "Why is it not working?" I replied. "It's an old slow dial-up thing and it don't go through." That doesn't even make sense. "Do you expect it to be fixed soon?" "No."

Wow! Now that's customer service! Subway executives - are you aware that the outlet at the University of Maryland Hospital on Greene Street in Baltimore, Maryland is run by a bunch of incompetent employees that display no interest in resolving their problems?

What really irked me is that I could pay by credit card, but not by gift card. Most places use the same damn machine for both.

Subway, my daughter will be in treatment for the next 2 years. That's a lot of meals my wife and I will be buying. There are two things that you can count on:

1) I will tell everyone I know this story and tell them that I think you suck
2) I will buy my meals elsewhere.

Jerrod - it may be time to start advertising for someone else!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Baltimore City Violent Crime Down 4$ in 2010

Do you ever wonder if the news reporters at WBAL ever read their articles before they post them online? They are ALWAYS full of errors. Repeated words. Misspelled words. Grammatical errors. Sure, my blog has errors - but I don't get paid to do it.

According to an article on WBAL this morning....

Overall crime was down 3% in Baltimore City in 2010. Violent crime declined by 4$ from 2009 until 2010.

Good, grief,
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