Friday, March 30, 2012
Wednesday finally arrived and there was no news on the wire that Eddie had died or entered rehab, so we all felt we were good to go. We hopped a ride aboard the fabulous D.C. Metro. Actually, it's not that bad. It got us there.
Once on F Street, we decided to dine at Fado's Irish Pub near the intersection of H Street NW and 7th Street NW. We were all at ease with a round of Guinness, Kilkenny, Diet Coke, and a rum and Coke. We watched the D.C. wanna-be crowd strolling along and blithering at each other at the bar. The pomposity was so thick that you could have cut it with a Sterling knife.
Dinner was great. I got a Pulled Lamb French Dip sandwich. It was freakin' fantastic! Another friend just got fancy chicken tenders, and he said they were awesome. Perhaps they were battered in Guinness.
The pub really filled up, with more people and more pomposity. At one point I noticed emergency lights outside. Another friend got up and went to the door and noticed that the guy that was standing next to me was laying on the floor. A female from his party came back in to get his stuff and said his blood pressure had dropped to the point where he passed out. I thought for a moment that he heard that Obama wanted to raise the debt ceiling again. That would have made me pass out.
After a couple of hours and one or five drinks we made our way back down the block to the MCI Center, errr....Verizon Center (funny how it remained with the nickname The Phone Booth). Sadly, our 5 tickets were on opposite sides of the arena, two on one side and three on the other. Since I arranged the event, I took the best seat. I had the pleasure of sitting with the Mayor of Eldersburg. My other three friends sat to the left of the stage up in the nosebleeds. But as one of my friends said, no matter where you sit it sounds the same. That's a great attitude!
Did I mention that Kool and the Gang opened for Van Halen? They logically go together, right? Kool is no longer with The Gang, so I guess we really just saw The Gang. But they were Kool. Don't know Kool and the Gang? Celebration. Jungle Boogie. Yeah, you know them.
Finally Van Halen took the stage, probably about 9pm. They opened with one of my all-time favorite Van Halen songs - Unchained off of Fair Warning. They followed with Running with the Devil and She's the Woman. Other songs played include Eruption, Full Bug, Tattoo, Panama, Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, You Really Got Me, Jamie's Cryin', I'll Wait (where David Lee Roth told the crowd that he forgot the @#%$ words), Hot For Teacher, Pretty Woman, Cathedral, Romeo Delight, Dance the Night Away, Ice Cream Man, Somebody Call Me A Doctor, and they closed with Jump. There were more songs in between, but you get the idea. Lots of great songs!
David Lee Roth is 57. He's 5 years younger than my father. But the dude looks 10-15 years younger. They put a dance floor on stage for him so that he could slide around and dance. He did manage to do a few high kicks, but no drop high-kicks. No swinging from the rope. No jumping from 10 foot high platforms. But, as I mentioned, he's 57. I think he did a great job.
Eddie. Let's talk about Eddie. As my buddy Bondra said, the guy didn't leave a 15 foot circle. And when they put him up on the jumbotron, he looked pretty rough. I know (think) he doesn't have any more teeth. The dude fought cancer. He's had a hip replacement. He's been in and out of rehab since John Adams was President. But despite all this, the guy can play a cussin' guitar. They zoomed in on the guitar and the fingers were going strong and fast. World's Greatest Guitar player - EVER. No questions about it.
Wolfy. He's there. He's not as fat as he was 4 years ago. He had no bass solo, which was fantastic.
Alex - he had on his sunglasses the entire time, which is typical Alex. He played well and had a great solo. However, I have to say that at one point I was watching him and he stopped to take a drink of water and the drums were still sounding. Additionally, during Jump and I'll Wait there is a synthesizer, but there was no synthesizer on stage. So a little musical masking was going on. But you know what? I don't care!
The show ended after about two hours. At that point I was pretty good. I felt like I had a solid packing of cotton in my ear, also known as temporary deafness.
The crowd was interesting. Easily 15-1 guys. A Van Halen concert is not a place to pick up women. At least in not in 2012. Maybe in 1981, but not in 2012. There were plenty of 40-50 year old 'woo-girls'. They were reliving their late teens and early 20's. Holding up their digital cameras in one hand, Van Halen peace sign in the other, shaking their hips from side-to-side and starting every song with 'whooooooooo!!!!'. And what's the deal with cameras? The tickets specifically stated 'no cameras'. But I was the only chump in the entire arena without a camera. I think the guy in front of me recorded the entire concert on his iPhone.
My friends on the other side of the arena said that some dude was going back and forth for more beer and finally tripped and went face-first down the steps and into the Plexiglas. He quickly jumped up and claimed his pride. It was slightly bruised, but not damaged.
Another guy got arrested, but we never got into the details of the story. But all in all, a quiet night. For a concert. For a Van Halen concert. For a Van Halen concert in 1984.
Next time they come to town, who's going with me????
You can enter raffles and drawings, get free samples, and purchase some of the wares.
Last year I won the silent bidding on hockey picture. I also won a raffle for a haircut. Not a bad deal. Yes, I did get a bag full of papers that went straight to the recycling bin because I didn't want to be rude, but that's okay.
Check it out!
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
And if you're a Van Halen fan, have you noticed how similar the album cover for the the new album looks slightly similar to the Commodores album, Movin' On? Somebody borrowed from someone else! It's even the same damn train!
After a while my dad stopped riding. Not sure why. He finally decided he was going to donate his motorcycle. He asked me if Believe in Tomorrow accepted vehicle donations, which they do through an intermediary organization.
The organization that coordinates the retrieval and selling of the vehicle came and loaded the bike onto a rollback truck. After that, the bike was gone. The only thing left were memories.
Anyway, here's a video that Lech posted on Youtube of the bike. It's pretty cool. They're speaking in Polish (I would assume). Note the truck that it's on - typical Eastern European truck.
Monday, March 26, 2012
This ruling does not just apply to townhouse and condominium communities. It will apply to all communities. Building a large 5,000 sq ft house on 2 acres in a neighborhood? You get a gang box.
The Postal Service claims that it will help them reduce costs as it will centralize the distribution of our epistles, bills, Netflix DVDs, and adult magazines. The drivers will not be required to circle the neighborhood sliding mail into everyone's own personal mailbox greeting visitors at the head of their long driveways.
This will impact the mason industry, many of whom build the fancy brick and stone monoliths that are immune to mailbox baseball, though less immune to women drivers backing up out of the driveway. Also impacted will be the industry producing the over-priced vinyl mailboxes that get the black moldy spots over time.
What do you think of this decision? Are you ready for those awkward conversations with the helicopter parents and nosey retired people that you prefer to avoid?
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Casey Cares has been wonderful to our family. They have treated us to the Casey Cares "Carenival", a pumpkin picking adventure, a day at the Maryland Science Center, and a birthday bash for my daughter, among others.
When they had the birthday bash they had a new member named Anne come visit us and she was learning all about Casey Cares. She was super nice and loved holding my daughter who has leukemia. We later learned that she was scouting foundations for one to make a generous donation. She chose Casey Cares.
Soon afterward, we were approached to make a video presenting Anne with the a Children's' Champion Award. We learned that she made a large generous donation to Casey Cares. Honestly, filming the video wasn't much fun as we had to do a bagillion retakes. I could never be an actor. However, it was an honor to be selected to film the video for her.
Finally, we were invited to attended this gala, compliments of Casey Cares founder, Casey Baynes. The theme of the night last night was the Roaring Twenties. People came dressed in their zoot suits and as gangsters (not the urban thugs you see on The Wire) and many ladies were wearing flappers. I, not having a chic wardrobe, wore a blue suit and a yellow tie. But as we all know, every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.
Hors d'ouevres were served when we got there. There was a table of different cheeses including port wine, Swiss, blue cheese (pungent!), and several others that I was not able to identify, but enjoyed much more than a sales tax hike. Another table was full of fruits, and finally a third table had crab dip. My youngest daughter thought the food was all yucky. Did I mention the open bar? Jack? Are you there? Oh, there you are!
Mix 106.5's Reagan Warfireld was there, as were Baltimore Colts Hall of Famer Lenny Moore, Miss Teen Maryland, and Miss Maryland USA. While watching the video presentation, a compilation of events throughout the year, and the presentation of the 2 Champion of Children awards (one of which we filmed), they noted that the winner of the award we presented went to Anne Beiler, owner and founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels. I had no idea this was Anne of Auntie Anne's!
During the live auction, attendees were bidding on a week's vacation in North Carolina, lunch with Scott Garceu, among other items. Finally, an autographed Baltimore Colts football jersey from Lenny Moore. The bidding was slow and seemed to be ending. Mr. Moore grabs the microphone and begins and impassioned speech. This isn't a quote, but he said something to the effect that when he gathers will fellow hall of famers, he reminds them of how great they have it and to not forget about the children. When they ask for autographs, don't turn your back on the children. And he reminds the younger football players, 'you make a lot of money, you can make a difference. Don't turn your back on the children.' Then he turned to the crowd doing the bidding, and said, "We're here today to raise money for the families and the children. Don't turn your backs on these children." I was choking up. What an awesome speech! The bidding began again on the jersey and in an instant the bids more than doubled. What a great man!
After the bidding ended, I decided I wanted to introduce myself and my daughter and thank him for his speech. I walked over to him and had to wait a bit as many other big-shots were getting their pictures with him. Finally I broke rank and got his attention. I introduced my daughter and told him that she has leukemia and I thanked him for helping the fund raiser and thanked him for his wonderful speech. He thanked us, put his hand on my daughter's head and said a prayer for her. In an instant Lenny Moore became my all-time favorite football player ever and I never even saw him play.
We got a few more pictures, one with Miss Teen USA, one with Miss Maryland USA (not sure if that's different than Miss Maryland or what). We bid adieu and finally hit the road. Boy were we tired, but what a great night. Thank you Casey Cares for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful evening!
Casey and Anne:
Reagan Warfield from Mix 106.5:
Miss Teen Maryland:
Miss Maryland USA:
Baltimore Colt's Legend Lenny Moore:
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
One of the best things about going to Ocean City on a Thursday morning in March is that there is absolutely no traffic. If I was 17 years old again I would have made the 150 mile trip in about an hour and a half. But alas, I am a middle aged man, so it's within the accepted speed limit range in the slow lane unless I pass someone, and then it's with caution and proper turn signals.
Surprisingly, there were a fair amount of people in town on this Thursday afternoon. I guess this isn't the Ocean City winter wasteland of the 1970's anymore. Just after we arrived and had our items in the room I heard what sounded like the diesel engines of a bus or a fire truck coming down the little side street we were on. I looked out over the balcony and low and behold, 2 fire trucks and 2 police cars and a shift commander. No sirens. No lights. Just rescue boredom. We suspected a smoke alarm or something went off and they call came to check it out.
That afternoon there wasn't much open, so we went and played miniature golf at the Old Pro indoor center on 136th center. Now, being the dad I always made sure I won. Well, as you may recall, my daughter started beating me last year. This year, my son is starting to beat me. What the hell???? He sank four holes-in-one!
On Friday I went for a run down the Boardwalk and back. It's about 2 1/4 miles each way (obviously - it's not a shorter distance coming back). However, part of the Boardwalk is closed as they are rebuilding it using Nancy Grasmick's husband's lumber company. They even plugged their name on a giant billboard on Route 50 outside of Salisbury. Unfortunately I was driving, everyone was asleep, and I would woken them up to take a picture. Otherwise I totally would have stopped.
I think in the old days the Boardwalk was just a cantalever design with the floorboards across the joists. Didn't realize that the new Boardwalk has a solid base with cement reinforcement filled with sand.
....and overlaid with gravel. Kind of loses it's nostalgia when you see it like this.
Since I couldn't run on the Boardwalk through the construction, I veered onto Baltimore Street through part of Motel Row. I noticed this swimming pool. This must be where they store the plastic bottles during the off-season.
We ate at Tequilla Mockingbird on Thursday evening. Boy is that good stuff! Leftovers make an excellent lunch the next day. On Friday evening we had the pleasure of eating a complimentary meal at La Hacienda's. We've been there three times now and I think the food gets better every time. I had talapia topped with a corn salsa that was awesome! Add in a couple of margaritas (which I paid for) and it was a great meal. Thank you La Hacienda!!!
You will recall that the Peeble's in Eldersburg is closing. Wonder where it's going? I think I found it! It's moving to Ocean City! Open this picture and you'll see the sign declaring that Peeble's is coming soon!
On Sunday night we were given a gift certificate for a free pizza from Ponzetti's on 144th street. It was really good! They have a wall of photos of the staff from the 1970's. One of those employees: House of Delegates member and former Mayor of Ocean City Jim Mathias.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I will still write about our weekend at the beach, compliments of the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation. But it's been so frickin' busy lately. Anyone with kids can relate, I'm sure. Baseball started Saturday. NCAA was Thursday and Friday. Went fishing with my son and his friend on Sunday (actually we went casting).
So what's up with Dell? Well, when my then 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer (acute lymphoblastic leukemia), my wife and I were tag-teaming it at the hospital a lot. She spent 10 consecutive days in the hospital and let me tell you, 10 days being disconnected to the world except for a cellphone is enough to drive you crazy. So I decided that we needed to buy a laptop.
Believe it or not, I'm not much of a technology guy. I still regularly use a 3G Nano iPod. No touch screen. Smart phone? Nope. Calculator? Who needs that when I have a perfectly good abacus?
I wasn't quite sure what to do, so I asked my friends what brand I should get. Should I get a Digital Rainbow 100? Or a Packard-Bell 386? What, they're gone? The overwhelming response was, "If you can't afford a Mac, get a Dell." Since I didn't have several grand laying around (and my wife was quitting work to care for my daughter), I decided to get the Dell.
I brought one of my techy friends with me to Best Buy one day and we checked them out. He agreed that the Dell Inspiron M5030 was a great laptop. And at a little over $500, not a bad price. So I bought it.
It really was a great laptop. It spent time going back and forth to the hospital, both for admissions and monthly/weekly clinic visits. It spent most of the time on the kitchen table or the counter for quick access. My wife regularly wrote updates on her blog. I wrote this blog. I messed around on Facebook.
Then one day about 5 weeks ago: BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP. I forget how many beeps it was and I had no idea what was going on. I Googled it (it's a verb) and it said that the number of beeps means that the processor died. Died? The freakin' laptop was only 14 months old! And guess what expires 12 months after the purchase? And guess who didn't buy an extended warranty? Fantastic. I tried to go through their website for help. Nope. They won't help you. Call them? Nope. Can't get through. I'll write to them! What? No written physical address on the Internet? No customer service office for correspondence? This is unreal to me. I thought Dell was known for customer service. I must have had them mixed up with Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.
After scouring the Internet I finally found a physical address on a message board. The address is in Texas. I wrote them a letter explaining why we bought the laptop (cancer, daughter, etc...), asked for their mercy, and mailed it to them a couple of weeks ago. In the meantime, I've been borrowing my oldest daughter's laptop to conduct business. Not fun.
So, in addition to the laptop being out of commission, I started doing my taxes. Guess where I did my taxes last year? Yeah, on the other laptop. Guess who didn't print his taxes from last year? Yeah, that would be me. Why? Because I rarely use my printer and every time I do the printer ink is dried out, so I have to buy more ink. So in reality, it's costing me about $35 per page to print. Not worth it. Didn't count on the laptop dying. So I had to request a copy of last year's tax return from the IRS to be mailed to me. Should be here in 5-10 business days. That's cutting it too close for me. Stupid laptop.
Do you think Dell will respond to me? Or will they ignore me? Does Dell hate children with cancer? I hope not. Help me Dell!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
I remember The Little Professor in the estranged Carrolltown Center when we moved to Eldersburg in 1999. They moved to their current location when Black Oak evicted all of the inner tenants (or made them an offer they could refuse). Black Oak wanted to close the interior of the mall and move all of the tenants to the perimeter of the mall. Most of the stores intelligently and rightly fled to better quarters.
I went there today and bought a book and talked to one of the employees. The Little Professor first opened in 1978, then moved to it's current location in 2004. Now the largest book distributor in Eldersburg will be Wal-Mart. Ugh....
The owners of the Little Professor sent this email to their customers:
The Little Professor Book Center is closing at the end of May.
This is an unpleasant decision to make because the store has been part of many of us for many years, but the expenses now seem to exceed the income regularly.
Book production and distribution is moving toward electronic books very quickly because of lower production and distribution costs. But there isn't a place for a neighborhood book store in the scheme of electronic distribution from the source direct to your computer, whether it is an I-pad, Kindle, Nook, Windows application, or something else. And there isn't enough business left to pay the bills.
We plan to sell down and close our doors on about May 25, to leave time to turn over a clean store to the landlord at the end of the month.
Also we will:
- Continue to special order books for our customers as long as we think we can get them before closing date.
- Use an expiration date for new gift certificates of about May 20 - a week after Mothers Day. Don't buy one for Fathers Day.
- Honor the free book offer card on a basis of 1/12 of $5.00 for each stamp beginning in May - so no one gets caught with a useless partially stamped card.
As other issues arise we'll let you know.
We have really enjoyed your patronage during the years. It has been fun to talk with customers, and to feel that we have helped you solve your book-related needs.
I am sorry that part has to end. Come by and say good bye to us.Sarah Itzel, Manager
Frank Spruill, owner
and all the staff
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
I don't do a lot of crazy Internet transactions. Wait, that didn't sound right. I don't do ANY crazy Internet transactions. I always pay in bullion for the crazy stuff. However, we do pay for almost all of our transactions with a credit card. Cash? What's that?
As we were leaving on Thursday, and I mean we had the car parked and the kids were getting ready to get in the car, the phone rings. My daughter answers it. Her face is blank. My wife asks, "Who is it?" "Bank of America." "Oh, hang-up." She hangs up. "What did they say?" "I don't know, something about our credit card." Crap. I go back out to the car and grab the laptop and come inside.
I fire up the laptop, go to my issuing bank's website, and review my transactions. Nothing suspicious. Chalk it up to overzealous security administration. I'm not bothered!
We get to the beach, 'do our thing' as the youngsters would say. Saturday we decide to go to the outlets. First stop - J. Crew. My first transaction goes through fine. Then I see something else I like, so I pick it up to purchase it. Credit card alert. The code requires the merchant to call the issuing bank. They type in some override codes, I pay and I'm on my way.
Next stop, U.S. Polo Association. Credit card alert. This merchant calls the bank. Transfer. Push 1 to speak English. Push 1 to continue speaking in English. Transfer. The merchant asks for my driver's license. Blah-blah-blah. It's about 15 minutes standing at the counter. If I had any sense I would have asked for my card and walked out, but that little voice in my head said that if I requested to do that the next phone call would have been the police. Finally the approve it and I'm on my way.
That evening we go to play miniature golf at Old Pro. Denied. What the cusser is going on? We pay in cash. When we get home I call Super American Conglomerated Bank of the United States. They say there's an alert for a suspicious transaction. $1. One freakin' dollar?!!! It's from Google. Google??? Apparently some notoriously nefarious corporation sends out test charges for $1 to random or stolen credit cards. If the charge hits, then they'll send massive charges your way. Fortunately for me, Super American Conglomerated Bank of the United States stopped my card before anything else could happen. Unfortunately for me, I'm on day #2 of my 4 day vacation. Cash anyone?
We got through the week on a Ben Franklin, a few Georges, and an Honest Abe. Not how I wanted it to go down. Your new cards will be delivered in 4-5 business days. 45 business days? Huh? No, 4 TO 5 business days. Oh, that's better.
By-crikey. Should we go back to cash? I hate having that all in my wallet. It's so much more convenient to have a piece of plastic.
Have you ever had your credit card number stolen?
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Friday, March 09, 2012
Last week District Judge Benson Legg ruled that one of Maryland's laws for gun control was unconstitutional. This week, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler requested that the courts allow the State of Maryland to continue to ingore parts of the Constitution while they appeal the ruling.
Attorney General Gansler said that it was necessary for Maryland to continue to ignore the 2nd Amendment else it would imperil public safety. I think his statement is an implication that the public is safe right now. Has Mr. Gansler not been to Baltimore, Columbia, Brooklyn Park, Rosedale, Dundalk, Woodlawn, Prince George's County, etc...? I would say that public safety is already in peril in these places.
The current law in Maryland requires that applicants show a good and substantial reason to carry a gun. Personal safety is not an acceptable answer. An undocumented threat by a criminal is not a good reason. The overwhelming majority of applications are denied. And I don't mean 67% of applications. It's nearly 100%.
Who can carry in Maryland? Retired police. People whose profession requires them to carry a weapon, such as police, guards, special police, correctional officer, someone who makes cash\carry deposits, and a lawyer, doctor, or pharmacist who can adequately document a threat. In rare cases, a civilian who can provide evidence of a threat including police report and\or notorized witness statements. Check here for a full list. Otherwise, the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution does not apply to you.
I'm not quite certain if this is correct, but I think criminals do not need to apply for a concealed carry permit. And they don't have to register their guns. Law-abiding citizens: different story. You have less rights. Pray that you won't be a victim. Better yet, stay away from places where you are more likely to be a victim of a crime. Like not in Maryland.
Thursday, March 08, 2012
The fact is that across Carroll County the ponds (storm water management systems) are being retrofitted to meet new EPA standards. I'm not sure if the standards are at the federal level or the state level, but a representative from the County told us that the fine for not retrofitting the pond is more than the cost for retrofitting it.
You'll recall last May I blogged about the County coming to the pond in our neighborhood and doing a fish catch. Thus began the process to retrofit our pond. The county originally wanted to put a dry water management system in its place. This is an area that fills up when it rains, but quickly drains as the water drains into the underbody of the system. "You guys really want a pond?' we were asked. Uh....yeah.
This was our pond before the retrofitting. Notice the pretty trees, cattails, and invasive willows. Unseen in this picture are the hundreds of blue gill, large mouth bass, crappie, and the occaissional catfish. Not in the picture are the red-winged black birds that make their nests around the pond, the gray heron, the mockingbirds, the crows, and the mallards. You do see one single goose in the pond.
This is our pond during the retrofitting. I had no idea that it was this deep. Seriously - if they put that excavator in the pond and filled up the pond with water, you wouldn't see the excavator. It makes me a little anxious thinking about all those kids that were playing hockey on it last winter when it was frozen.
Here's what it looks like now:
The county is now working on the pond in the Harvest Farm development in addition to the two ponds on the north side of Route 26 across from Solerno's. If you have a pond in your neighborhood, expect that in the near future it will be a giant mud puddle for a while.
Nothing like making everything better by destroying it first! That should be Maryland's motto - Destroying Maryland to Make it Better!
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Anyway, Happy Birthday, Mom!
P.S. Still working on my taxes. This should be a lot easier next year if O'Malley gets his way and we're not allowed to deduct anything.