Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yes, Yes I am

I am taking a hiatus. Clearly I can't keep up with my blog like I used to. So, I will take a break and work on drumming up some new writing ideas. I hope this isn't a symptom of turning 30. ;)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Taking Action

While emailing my "beloved" mayor this morning -- *cough*CORRUPTION*cough* -- excuse me, anyway, when emailing my mayor this morning about something she should take action on (one-page PDF), I noticed just how odd her photo is on the city website. Here we see the mayor as part of the site's masthead...with an expression as if she can't believe she got elected despite several investigations into some questionable activities she may or may not have been involved in. Seriously - look at that smile. If that's not the "I'm so totally up to something I probably shouldn't be" expression, I don't know what it is.

But maybe I'd reading too much into that. Maybe the photographer just caught her getting away with farting during a City Council meeting, or sneaking a bite of her assistant's Three Musketeers bar without getting caught - who knows?
Making Fun of Something Terrible
One of the papers in DC this morning had a huge headline on the front page: "Anthrax mailer driven by rage."

Seeing that made me wonder what else someone would be driven by if they're set on killing people. I suppose it could be "suspicion" or "depression," but those are related to rage. Then I started thinking of the unusual things that could drive an anthrax killer.

"Anthrax mailer driven by hilarity"
"Anthrax mailer driven by Miss Daisy"
"Anthrax mailer driven by incredible focus and a commitment to excellence"
"Anthrax mailer driven by love of rabbits"
"Anthrax mailer driven by urge to cuddle"

Where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Battling the Train

You've all heard me complain on here about the commuter train (new "reason for being late" to add to that list: disgruntled passenger on board. Seriously.) - this week I finally had the last straw. In the past two months the trains have been especially bad, I'm home late by at least 30 minutes what seems like about 60% of the time.

This week was it. Monday night I got home 40 minutes late. Tuesday night - one hour late. Wednesday morning - 30 minutes late. So I finally decided to write a letter to the head of the commuter train.

My letter:
Dear MARC administrators,
I like to think of myself as a patient person. I understand that trains don't always run on time, that bad weather happens and equipment breaks down. Unfortunately, in the past two months, I have started to lose my patience with the excessive delays and break-downs on the Penn Line as I come home from DC to Halethorpe each day.

At this point, I have a hard time believing any excuse besides incompetence for the day-after-day delays coming home. Engines keep breaking down just about every day. There have been weeks where 4 out of 5 of my commutes home have been severely delayed!

I plan on writing letters to my state reps as well, since I know some of this is a funding issue. Yet I can't blame it all on funding, I have a hard time believing that just throwing more money at these maintenance problems will make them all go away.Please get your act together - your paying customers are demanding better service.

Signed, Me

What's funny is that I got a response within 10 minutes. One sentence:
"We hope that the arrival of 26 new engines in the first quarter of 2009 will help alleviate some of these problems."

Great - but what are your plans for the next 6-9 months?

BUT! Clearly my letter was the final crack in the dam. The head of the MTA wrote an apology letter to all train commuters late Wednesday. Click here to read it.

So, I feel a little bit better about the apology, but still - commuting via train has sucked quite a bit lately. The only rewarding part is that it's brought together commuters as a whole. When we're all sitting together each day as they train suddenly stops and the conductor comes on over the intercom with an excuse - or in the mornings when we're standing at the train stop in the morning and we hear the tell-tale buzz of the intercom letting us know that the nice-sounding MARC train woman is coming on to let us know how delayed the train we'll be - we all sigh and shake our heads together. We make jokes, we laugh, we commisserate.

Laughing and jokes only go so far, though. Let's hope they figure out how to make some of the trains run a little more on time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Time Machine
In the touristy book shop at Union Station they regularly have Democrat and Republican gear in the window. Right now it's a t-shirt supporting Obama, and one supporting McCain. The problem is that the phrasing on the Obama shirt is bizarre. Under a picture of him it says

"Obama for President - Changing History."

At first glance, you may not notice a problem with that phrase. But then you think on it more. Do they mean "Making History"? Or is he actually a time-traveler? That could be handy in a presidential campaign.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Working Out

Today marks the end of Week 4 of my new daily workout regimen. This is pretty major for me - I've never had a regular workout before. I've been a member of a gym before, but did not have a set schedule for when to go. I'm a fairly active person anyway, but have never done anything so organized.

I decided to do an at-home workout, and the one I found has been great - ie, kicked my butt and had results. I like the workout because I don't need any workout equipment to do it, just balance! It's from Women's Health mag - check it out.

I'm doing well at most of those exercises now after four weeks, but the hardest one is that stupid bird-dog push-up. Sure, it might look do-able on paper, but just try it. You will immediately look and feel like an idiot, plus you might injure yourself as you crumple to the floor. This regimen has made me realize how poor my balance (and strength!) is, but thankfully it's improved the more I've done it. Except that I still can't do more than one bird-dog push-up at a time. So I've modified it to be a bit easier but still get results (the knee is on the floor).

The rest of the exercises are challenging, but I can do them. That first one is similar to the bird-dog one in that it may look easy on paper, but go ahead right now and try to do that without falling down. It takes a bit to train yourself to do it, and it clearly works the core muscles.

Another challenge to add to these exercises is this: a cat. Tuesday just loves to come visit me while I'm doing this workout, and she's clearly given herself some challenges:
  • How many times can I get in the way?
  • In how many different manners can I get in the way?
She is also succeeding in her challenges. It's fun to do push-ups (normal and bird-dog style) when a cat decides the best place to lay down and take a bath is right under you. It's fun to do sit-ups when a cat lays down next to you and puts her head on your arm and drools. She has learned to not get in the way of the windshield wiper exercise, because she's gotten kneed in the head several times now. I'd incorporate her into the workout by lifting her, as she'd be a 12.5lb weight, except that I don't want a weight that's quick to use its teeth and claws.

Anywho, I do those exercises MWF and thanks to the wonders of Craigslist, I do cardio T-Th. Craigslist found us a cheap recumbent exercise bike just down the street from us. We had a good workout just getting it to our basement, but now it's down there permanently and it's nice to bike for 20 minutes each morning while listening to the radio.

I've started doing this workout regiment with the hopes of training myself to be a healthier, more fit person. This has come to me as my 30th birthday looms and I keep having friends tell me that once you hit 30, your metabolism moves out and fat takes over its lease.

The first two weeks were easy on this regiment, minus the soreness, but I was very motivated to stick with it. Since then, it's been amazing - I can actually hear that voice creep into my head each morning (I get up 20 minutes earlier now to do this) that says, "You're tired, stay in bed, one day missed won't matter." My willpower and my laziness have gotten into fistfights over the past two weeks, and thankfully my willpower is winning the battle. I hope to keep it that way.

Anyone else sticking with a workout plan?

Friday, June 20, 2008

When God Doesn't Want You To Go Brown

Oh UPS, is there anything you can control? I was just checking the tracking status of a package I ordered, and everything was fine until yesterday. See below:

LAUREL,MD, US 06/20/2008 1:37 P.M. ARRIVAL SCAN


06/19/2008 10:00 P.M. NATURAL DISASTER


SAN PABLO,CA, US 06/13/2008 11:04 P.M. ARRIVAL SCAN

06/13/2008 7:02 P.M. ORIGIN SCAN


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Public Transit

Next week I'll be in San Francisco for work, and as I was planning my transportation from the airport to the office, I noticed how easily understandable the San Fran subway map is.
Look at it - like a nice pretty rainbow....which I suppose is appropriate for big gay San Fran.

But, it's easy to figure out what's going where. Not tough at all.

And then I think about the NYC subway map, and that looks like someone gave a box of crayons to a kid who threw a tantrum and had a seizure at the same time.

I'm serious - have you looked at a NYC subway map? Okay, maybe that's a bit strong, but it certainly is a big ol' mess. I remember the first time I went to NYC and stood in front of a subway map in a station, just staring like a frightened tourist. Sigh.
I guess what might be annoying about San Fran's subway is that it's just a big line, whereas NYC's at least goes many different places.
And there's subway systems like those in Washington DC and Boston, where it's more like a spider and those who live in the city have few options if they want to travel around the city. It's either into or out of the city - no traversing within - are you crazy?!
And then there are cities like Baltimore...where the subway only has one line (the green line on this map). Thanks, crappy urban planning! Sigh. Off to San Fran!