jmc_bks: (GK - layers)
The finance office in Baltimore City is ridiculous.  

I paid my quarterly water bill and an alley paving fee last month.  Separate checks, separate envelopes, separate account numbers, separate invoices.   And on Thursday, I got a delinquent notice for the alley paving bill.  WTF?  The check cleared!  So I checked my account online.  My water bill shows the payment I made PLUS a credit in the amount of the alley paving payment.  Obviously, despite noting the account on the check and sending it separately AND including the invoice, the finance clerk applied the payments wrong.

So I called to get them to apply the alley paving payment properly, since I do not appreciate getting a delinquent notice.  Their answer:  provide proof of payment and request that the payment be transferred.  

Okay, they HAVE proof of payment on their books.  This is their error.  Why do I have to get copies of my canceled check and take it to the finance office in person to get it fixed?

If I hadn't labeled everything carefully and intentionally sent the payments in separately, this wouldn't be so irritating.  But I was very careful, mostly because I've dealt with the finance office for years in a professional capacity and have never been impressed by their performance.

There are times when I wonder if the city hires incompetent people intentionally.
jmc_bks: (flaming june)
I have a book review of sorts to post later for SBD, but first, I wanted to share some links and videos.

Er, also, today is the deadline for AAR's Top 100 voting.  I couldn't be arsed to list 100 books.  Really, I get lost after the first 20 or so.  But it's always interesting to see what other people through were the best of romance to date.  When the list is published, I'll give my opinion book by book, just to compare my taste with the standard/average reader taste.


Now, onto the links and videos.

First, okay, government cheese, yes, whatever, plus the farm subsidy, which needs to be seriously reconsidered.  But now the federal government is pushing the consumption of even more cheese?  

Second, courtesy of Bill in Exile, is this very funny video explaining the Fed's retarded fiscal policy, quantitative easing.

Next, a while ago TBC and I discussed how we preferred different versions of songs, live vs. album vs. covered by others.  For example, Green Day's Whatshername on the album is pretty good but not my favorite song and the version of the cast album is ~meh~ to me.  And yet I love this version from the AOL Sessions (despite all the guyliner John Gallagher Jr. is sporting):





And last, seriously, would you ever guess that this guy was a governor?

Photo courtesy of Midnight Sun.

His band, O'Malley's March, played local gigs before his political career kicked into high(ish) gear, first as mayor of Baltimore then governor of Maryland.  I heard on the radio that last year they played at the Baltimore Irish Festival, so I'm assuming they still fit some performances in with the busy gubernatorial schedule. 

Homefront

Jul. 27th, 2010 07:08 am
jmc_bks: (h's iris)

• Met with a realtor yesterday to talk about selling my house. Banker call today to see about financing for new place. Need to arrange a week's stay to see how/if I can deal with commute change and the shift from urban to rural.

• Had lunch with the Executive Director of the nonprofit I've been on the board of for 10 years. Love the group but lack time and enthusiasm right now. Rotating off the board, but still on a committee and volunteering. Am one of two board members left from the board who hired the ED and worked to keep the organization from going under. She thanked me for that yesterday. *shrug* What else was there to do? Walk away? My modus operandi: just keep going, do the day to day work and treading water, get through it.

• Two more divorces in the extended family (for a total of four within two degrees of separation). One a surprise only that it's happening now: long separated but wife threatened suicide when papers filed years ago. Now she's filed the papers. The other is a surprise and has stepdad heartbroken.

• Stepdad's biopsy results are due back tomorrow. He says Mom doesn't need to come with him. She thinks it's because he assumes all will be fine and is being an ostrich. I think it's so he can tell her everything is fine, even if it isn't. His fatalism when it comes to his health is disturbing. Based on family medical history, he's confident he won't make old bones.

• Mom heard from cousin in Afghanistan. He says it's hot (120F), tedious, boring but still dangerous.

jmc_bks: (Icicle)
It's still snowing. Has been for more than 24 hours now.

This picture was taken at about 8am this morning; three or more inches have fallen since then.  The big lump in the lower left hand corner?  My car.

#snOMG Three hours ago. More snow since. on Twitpic

I shoveled my front stoop off, after struggling to just get the door open; my neighbor used his mini-snowblower to get a path (one person wide) cleared on the sidewalk on our block. Then I went out back and shoveled a path to the satellite dish, so I could clear it off and get the local news and continuing weather forecast. (How much more snow?)

The street is impassable. One brave neighbor cleared his Blazer off but was unable to get anywhere, the snow has drifted so high. The blind center across the way had someone out in a bear cat, hauling away some snow, but he's quit, after leaving a near mountain of snow built up in the middle of the street.

I'm thinking that the plumber is not going to make it on Monday.

And more snow, 3 inches or so, is expected on Tuesday.

Yeah, driving to a SuperBowl party tomorrow? Not going to happen. Instead, I'll slog my way to a neighborhood bar (assuming any are open) and watch the game there.

$83,000?

Jan. 6th, 2010 05:49 pm
jmc_bks: (Default)

It has been announced that Mayor Dixon will be resigning by February 4th. Her resignation is part of the settlement agreement and Allford plea entered. Essentially, she's admitting prosecutors had enough evidence to get a guilty verdict, but is avoiding a conviction. Why does that matter? Well, it means she can keep the $83,000/year pension. And work for or be re-elected to city or state office after her probation expires.

I'm guessing the pension was a primary concern.

As a Baltimore taxpayer, that just pisses me off. $83k annually? In a city where services are being cut, the public schools are a disaster, the median income is $30,000 (according to the 2000 Census), and 23% of the population lives below the poverty line...is $83,000/year really appropriate here?

Snow day!

Dec. 20th, 2009 11:13 pm
jmc_bks: (Icicle)
 A snow day has been declared for tomorrow!  Yay!

Except I have a good bit of work to get done before everyone bugs out for the holiday or the end of the year. 

And I'm feeling a little stir crazy.  Shoveling and hiking/sliding/stumbling to the grocery store are insufficient social activities for me.  Guess I'll walk up to B&N tomorrow, maybe have lunch out?
jmc_bks: (Default)

The jury found Mayor Dixon guilt of one count of embezzling gift cards. It was only one count of four, I believe, but any guilty verdict by a Baltimore jury is remarkable. I'm wondering what will happen next? Assuming it isn't overturned on appeal, I think she should not be able to remain mayor.

I'll admit, though, to being biased. Dixon's public persona as mayor makes me cringe, with the horrendous grammar and non sequitors and inability to speak or answer questions without a script. Except to spout platitudes, of course.

Explain to me again why city tax payers should pay for a trip to Egypt for her? Or for her defense counsel?

jmc_bks: (flaming june)
Years ago, a nice lady who loved the local chapter of an arts-in-education non-profit left the charity her house.  I don't know much about her, other than the fact that she loved cats and left her house to the organization.  Located in a nice neighborhood, the house needed some work and to be renovated for office use.  Being in a historic district, the renovations had to be done with certain materials, etc.  After a capital campaign, two floors were reno'd and the two others were left alone.  New window and roof, but nothing more: the walls were stripped to the studs.

The non-profit's ownership of its own building had pluses and minuses, of course.  Fast forward 15-20 years:  the organization has grown to the point that the building in its current state could no longer house it comfortably.  An ad hoc property committee was formed by the board, and studies were done; despite the slumping real estate market, it would be more cost effective to lease space than attempt a capital campaign and bring upper floors into usable condition.  An offer was made relatively quickly, given the market.  I'm not sure what the buyers are going to do with the building.  There are some features (gorgeous plaster medallions around the chandelier in the foyer, marble fireplace and mantle, cupboards under the stairs, etc.) that I hope they keep. 

This past week, the office moved to the new space, which is furnished with newly donated office furniture.  Some of the old office furniture was moved, but we had a moving sale on Saturday.  Some guys came and disassembled the cubicles, taking them away.  Others came to get desks and chairs.  After helping clean up and tag things, I sat on the stoop and asked passersby if they needed office furniture.  It was a surprisingly successful sales tactic, actually.

Among the flotsam and jetsam were a pile of old black and white photographs.  They were being given away free...or tossed at the end of the day.  I sorted through them, and found some fascinating pics.  Mixed in among the photos were a bank statement (complete with cancelled checks!) from 1962, random newspaper clips, and a variety of stubs for activities in tourist attractions in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Colorado.  The photos were  taken in 1953, during what looks like a cross-country roadtrip by our benefactor (benefactress?).  The Lincoln House in Springfield.  Royal Gorge on the Arkansas River.  The statehouse in Nebraska (I think?).  Landscapes in Colorado Springs.  There were even a few postcards from the motels she and her companion (Doreen -- don't know anything more about her) stayed in as they drove west, offering a glimpse of Middle America in a bygone era.  One postcard notes the number of rooms and amenities, while the handwritten note indicates that the hotel was 16 minutes west off Highway 31, and the room cost only $6.50 per night, with two double beds, plenty of hot water, and a bathroom tiled in peach and green.

I took the photos, but discarded everything else.  My intention is to put together an album and give it back to the organization.  Even if the NP is no longer in that space, it received a huge gift from her that shouldn't be forgotten completely as the board and staff turnover.

jmc_bks: (h's iris)
In the Celebritology chat held weeky at the Washington Post's website, readers and chatters weighed in on whether (or when) both the Sookie Stackhouse and Twilight series jumped the shark, respectively.  There's even a not-to-condescending mention of Nora Roberts.

Also in the chat was a lot of mourning for Farrah Fawcett.  One chatter mentioned being worried about Patrick Swayze, since bad things come in threes (Farrah, Ed McMahon, and ?).  But instead it was the passing of Michael Jackson that surprised most Americans  the world.

The title of this review (In Plain Sight: A Cougar Falls Story) first made me think of the TV show, then of a potential romance novel with the older woman-younger man theme.  Not so much. 

Also, the pistachio and almond crisps by True North?  Addictive.  Worse than potato chips.

And the house next door has been sold after spending 9 months on the market.  I've heard people coming and going but not met them yet.  I hope they are good neighbors.  Of course, at this point, a good neighbor in that house would consist of someone who 1) didn't have parties every weekend that lasted until 4am and  2) didn't piss off their back deck into my flower pots (yes, really).

Checking my spam folder, I found a bunch of emails about christian dating sites.  WTH?  How did they get directed to me?  I am a heathen and I'm happy that way.  And with them, a form solicitation from Human Rights Campaign.  The HRC email sandwiched by the christian dating ones...just made me laugh. 

Setting off

Jun. 7th, 2009 08:12 pm
jmc_bks: (Default)

During the summer, one of my favorite things to do is walk down to Fort McHenry and around the seawall.  Today while I was lying in the grass, enjoying the sunshine, listening to the drums and occasional cannon coming from the fort proper, a cruise ship took off from the port.  Lots of vacationers were standing out on the decks, and the ship tooted as it sailed by. 

 

The cruise terminal is a bit to the left, if you toggle over. 
 

jmc_bks: (Seagull)

+ Baltimore Cupcake Co.'s cupcakes are rich and moist...but the icing didn't work so much for me. The chocolate peanut butter cupcake was a chocolate cupcake with a thin layer of PB covered by chocolate icing (a little too sweet), with a dollop of PB and sprinkles on top.  Eh.  In comparison, the cupcake portion of the Peanut Butter Blossom from Hello Cupcake is a bit, well, average, but the peanut butter-cream cheese icing makes the treat.  Really.

+ It was 60F on Saturday and 70F on Sunday, sunny with just a little wind.  Good days to be out and about, so I enjoyed the walk to Fort McHenry on Saturday and to the Inner Harbor on Sunday.  Tourons (TM WaPo's annual word challenge) abounded.  I like them, I do, but could they cease STOPPING in the middle of pedestrian walkways when there are dozens of people trying to get around them?

+ The neighborhood dry cleaner has two sweaters and two pairs of pants of mine.  No big deal, right?  Except he is moving locations, and has not been answering the phone for a week. I want those sweaters back; the pants, eh.  But the sweaters I must have back.  I've got his landlord's number, who should have other contact info for him.  Grrr.  ETA:  the landlord didn't know the cleaner was moving and is not happy; has left a message and told me to give him a call back in the afternoon.

+  After reading this article at Slate, I bought a copy of Radclyffe's lesbian romance, Above All, Honor, which I finished last night.  Interesting.  I haven't decided what I think about Cam Roberts; she reminds me vaguely of Eve Dallas for some reason.  Blair -- eh, she came across as a spoiled brat.  I can only hope her characterization improves as the series goes on.  But over all, the book was good enough that I'm willing to look for more by Radclyffe.


 

jmc_bks: (Default)



Photo copyrighted to the U.S.S. Constellation, I believe. Not mine.


ETA: that's a photo from last year or earlier. No fireworks in the harbor last night, due to very, very high winds. Postponed until tonight. I'm wondering if it'll be as crowded, since tomorrow is a work day...for a lot of people, at least.
jmc_bks: (Chocolate)
Yesterday, before the day became totally overcast and rainy/sleety, Mom and T delivered the hutch to me. For years it was a fixture in Mom's kitchen, but since she has had her kitchen redone, it doesn't suit and there really isn't space for it. My uncle striped and revarnished it, and it is gorgeous. Makes everything else in my kitchen look rickety and low quality.

Know what happens when I am bored and watch Food TV on Saturday? You guessed it: on Sunday, when grocery shopping, I end up buying ingredients so I can attempt something observed yesterday. This morning I made mac and cheese from scratch and pecan clusters. The mac & cheese turned out pretty well, although there is A LOT of it -- I'll be tired of it in a couple days. The pecan clusters didn't turn out quite so well. They were supposed to firm up really quickly, but nougat/chocolate has stayed fairly runny. Not sure what the problem is -- I used Hershey's milk chocolate morsels instead of Kisses, but the ingredient list was the same, so I'm not sure if that was the difference or not. In any case, I've got a pan of chocolate goop cooling in the fridge. Not sure what to do with it. And after that, I made mini ham and cheese quiches, inspired by Lyvvie but not quite her recipe.

The sleet that coated everything last night and this morning has melted, so it's time for a walk. Maybe down to the fort. Or up around the harbor.
jmc_bks: (meninas)
It's unbecoming, but I must do it -- gloat. Because my holiday shopping is finished. The baking (such as it was) is done. The only thing left is to write out the last of the cards and drop them at the post office on Saturday. Maybe build a gingerbread house from a kit. Oh, and put up the little tree, which doesn't get done until the week of Christmas.

I walked home from the train station last night, instead of taking the bus, so I could detour by the Cheesecake Factory for gift cards. The relative lack of business visible in all of the restaurants in the harbor pavilions was a frightening demonstration of the economic situation. Normally at this time of year, the businesses are doing brisk business as offices have their holiday happy hours or dinners or what-have-you. Last night? Every restaurant was nearly empty, even the Cheesecake Factory, which normally has a crowd waiting for tables, even on the coldest day of the year. Since there was no wait, I ate dinner in the bar. The wait staff was bored and just hanging around, waiting for new customers to come in. It was the most attentive service I've ever gotten there. Which is saying something, because their service is good and attentive generally.

Walking home, though, I noticed that the business malaise affecting the harbor seems not to bother a couple of the restaurants in my neighborhood. The Thai place (very good) had a huddle of people waiting for seating (all seats taken), and Regi's and Mother's seemed to be doing okay.
jmc_bks: (meninas)
Rumor has it that The Cab and Cobra Starship will be releasing new albums next year. Also, The Cab will be in Richmond in January, and probably other venues near me. My ears are happy. (via The Biochemist)

What does it say about me that this cartoon cracks me up?jpeg behind the cut )

I haven't been able to settle into reading What A Scoundrel Wants. Not because it's bad (it's quite good, really) but because I have no attention span. Having the same problem with The Daily Coyote. And American Lion.

HRC is having a screening for the debut of season six of The L Word at The Hippo. I'd kinda like to go, despite being a season behind on that show. Except I'm booked for that evening and can't reschedule.

Also, in case anyone was planning on using public transporation for the Inauguration -- just a reminder: buy your MARC train ticket early, as service will be limited, all trains reserved, and the $25 "special" ticket is MANDATORY for boarding. Check here for more info. DC is working on logistics, but I expect MARC, Metro, and Metrorail to be inundated.
jmc_bks: (bashful)
Between the fellow who creeped me out at the library yesterday, making me feel very unsafe in a public place, and the dead kitten I almost stepped on this morning on the way to the farmers market, this weekend has been a little depressing. I'll be glad to see Monday morning.
jmc_bks: (LJ Ase's LMB flowers)
I wandered around the harbor yesterday before having lunch with S&J. [J is a boy now, as opposed to being a baby; in my head he's a toddler still, but in reality he has just started first grade. How'd that happen?]

There were lots of people out and about, enjoying the day off and indian summer.

Human Rights Campaign volunteers were out gathering signatures and donations, hovering near the tourist deck at the World Trade Center.

At B&N, there were autographed copies of the reprints of Dead Until Dark. Copies of Wolfsbane & Mistletoe were signed by several of the authors. Did B&N have a group signing, I wonder? The Jewel of Medina was prominently displayed among the new fiction releases, which makes me curious about its sales and the marketing push it has received from its new publisher. Or did the entire brouhaha that occured pre-publication garner enough attention to get it placed there?

Tomorrow is TBR Day -- I'm finishing up Deirdre Martin's Chasing Stanley for it.

Also, I cannot find my copy of Gym Class Heroes' new album, The Quilt. [And have I mentioned my insane jealousy that The Biochemist got to see GCH (again) on Friday? The closest they are coming to Baltimore or DC on their tour is Philly, and that show is on Sunday night. They opened with Cupid's Chokehold. And covered When Doves Cry. And I have a huge crush on Travis McCoy, whose body art fascinates.] The disc was in my hand on Saturday as I straightened up -- Mom was coming over for birthday dinner. I meant to take it upstairs and put it on the CD rack. It's not in the basket o' stuff to deal with (mail, bills, reminders), nor is it on the coffee table, the CD rack, or mixed in accidentally with DVDs. It is somewhere in my house, which isn't large. If I order a new copy, the lost one will appear the instant the new one is shipped (thus making it too late to cancel the order). If I don't do anything at all, I won't find the disc until sometime next spring. Gah! It can't have gone far, dammit!
jmc_bks: (TDS)
Y'know, I get infidelity and STDs resulting from said infidelity as grounds for divorce. Having said that, I'm still scratching my head over this -- and wondering about what the guy's big firm partners think about airing the dirty personal linen in public that way. Divorce happens, but I can't imagine anyone is thrilled about having their business name associated with what looks like an ugly personal brawl.

Amy Goodman is at the Baltimore Book Festival today, as are a variety of other authors. Guess I'll brave the rain, and go be a book fangirl.

Check out this Stick Figure explanation of the subprime situation, which is the best explanation I've found anywhere. Courtesy of Malnurtured Snay.

Caught up on SPN4, and all I can say is that Bobby rules. His ironlined panic room? Rocks. As The Biochemist put it: You know that Dean totally wants one of his own.

Home again

Sep. 14th, 2008 07:25 pm
jmc_bks: (jediowl's LMB bafflement)
Home again, sadly. Unpacked. Laundry done. Ready for work tomorrow. (Didn't miss work at all, btw.) The Goofy Cat, who had plenty of food, water and clean litter, was howling like a starving beast when I came in the front door. Because she wanted wet food, not that nasty dry stuff she'd been forced to subsist on the for the week. And I think she missed me, too, because she's been rather clingy, which is unlike her.

Big news in the neighborhood? The house next door is for sale...again. I came home to an open house, with the open house sign sitting in front of *my* house. According to one of my neighbors, the realtor has had a few showings this week. And the price? $349K. Which is a huge, huge drop from the original asking price three years ago ($485K). It was way overpriced at the time, and sat on the market for nearly a year with not even hint of interest; since then there have been two tenants, each for a year lease. Well, more than two tenants actually -- a group of four women just out of college who worked for a travel company, gone a lot and partied a lot when they were home, and a group of young men slightly older. I'm curious to see how it goes this time; even with the slower real estate market, stuff in my neighborhood is still moving, although that price is still a bit high. The average price is the neighborhood is about $270,000 for rehabbed two storey houses. This one is three storeys, the only one on the block.
jmc_bks: (Default)
I lived in this city for 9 years before being called for jury duty.  Now, just one year after being called, I've been called for jury duty again.  Fun.

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