bunrab: (me)
In 2012, the only resolution I made was to remember to call my friend Cindy at least once a week, instead of always waiting for her to call me - I'm really,  really bad about picking up the phone and calling people, but I managed to keep that resolution. Without any resolutions on the subject, I decided just after the first of the year that I really needed to get out from under the burdens of a largish single-family home, so repaired the home, sold the home, bought a condo, moved. So far so good, right? Also good, that I don't think I've mentioned, is that I've lost nearly 25 pounds in the past year, getting my BMI to just under 25 - that is, within normal instead of overweight! Without any resolutions about losing weight!

I whined here about the couple of tachycardia events that screwed up my summer, and then somehow never got around to getting back here. I think, mind you I'm not certain, but I think, that this new year I resolve to write a few more substantive posts here, rather than depending on 3-sentence Facebook updates to be the only way I keep up with friends or organize my thoughts.

Playing catch-up )
More stupid heart stuff )

More than you wanted to know about my finances )

I have slightly less of too much stuff )

A visit to Texas )

OK, that's well enough of a ramble and a catch-up. New Year's resolution: keep up with LJ better, keep up with my friends' lives better. It's not all always me, and when it is me, sometimes it's good to share.
bunrab: (Default)
Thursday: we got our passport photos, filled out applications, and sent them off with our expired-but-not-more-than-15-years-old passports in order to get new passports for the Baltimore Symphonic Band's trip to eastern Europe this summer. We got the passport photos at Walgreens, which is 2 blocks away, and I used my new travel scooter to get there, as an experiment (S walked; I can't walk that far). Well, it opened my eyes to just how much sidewalk STILL doesn't have curb cuts. A lot of backing up was done; our route wound up involving having to cross to the other side of Ingleside, then still needing S to pull the scooter up a curb, then crossing Rt 40 from that side of Ingleside and crossing Ingleside back to the other side to get to Walgreen's - which did have a nice friendly ramp into their parking lot from the sidewalk. The travel scooter does inclines quite adequately. That red recreational scooter I had gotten last year can go much faster, but can't climb inclines worth a damn - quite a difference in torque.

Friday: we and Cindythelibrarian went to the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Plusses: it's all on one level, no stairs. Lots of variety. Lots of real stuff. Free parking. Minuses: inadequate or nonexistent signage on several things. Apparently one staff person on duty for the whole museum. But apparently they are working on upgrades - there were people in the replica diner (which did not, alas, serve any real food) with blueprints and stuff spread out on the table, and they are apparently going to use more space for some exhibits, and whole new areas, and stuff.

The exhibit on WW2 War Bond posters was interesting - it goes away soonly - conveyed as much about the roles of the sexes in the 40's as it did about the war effort. The cannery is probably the single largest and most interactive area - but the clothing factory (read: sweatshop) fascinated me. Stuff we didn't know before: at one time, the largest umbrella maker in the country was in Baltimore. And the power drill was invented here.

Overall, worth the $10. They close at 4 pm every day, rather earlyish, so don't put it off till too long after lunch.

Today: the sun was shining and it was over 50 degrees. We rode. We ate lunch with the old farts Mature Mensans, then rode some more, including going by the house we're offering on (haggling on the details of which is still ongoing; our offer has not yet been officially accepted, as they are quibbling on ridiculous details) and checking to see if the width of the dead end street is wide enough for easy U-turns. It would be if it weren't so crowned; the steep crown makes doing the U-turn weird, as one is going uphill and then downhill at the same time as making the U-turn. Will need practice.

Time to start thinking about supper.

ET fix the link


Sep. 1st, 2007 06:14 pm
bunrab: (polkadotray)
So, Cindy got here yesterday evening, with her cats, and they are settled into our basement. She's got 4 job interviews already set up for the next couple of weeks, so I'm confident that she'll find a job and her own apartment quickly. Which is good, because there's already stuff turning up not-where-I-left-it, which would be likely to drive me to outright anger after too long. (As in, dish soap. Have to hunt all over kitchen counter for dish soap - not returned to the spot it was initially picked up at. Coffee mugs getting hung up backward. Cans of stuff on the bottle shelf of the fridge and vice versa. Little things that add up to stress.)

Other than that, things are quiet. Rode over to CCBC Essex this morning to help the Balto. Symphonic Band librarian put music in folders for Tuesday's 1st rehearsal of the season. I'll always volunteer for stuff that I can do sitting down in air conditioned comfort; by volunteering for it *rapidly* and before even being asked, I get all kinds of good karma that helps make up for the fact that I'm a fairly mediocre musician. On the ride over there, saw a serious accident on the other side of the highway - rental truck, the 24-foot moving van kind, turned over completely on its side, the driver's side, on the roadway (not on a shoulder or the landscaping past the shoulder). There were ambulances there, but they weren't in any hurry; I suspect that's one of the Labor Day weekend statistics. First of the month, beginning of the school year - lots of people who aren't that experienced in driving are renting large vehicles and taking them out on the highways. Of course, my Biker Skum friends up in Boston are undoubtedly seeing even more of that than I am; I remember what September 1 was like in Boston, with the entire damn city playing Musical U-Hauls. Well, anyway, it was lovely riding weather. And the bike got 65 mpg this tank of gas - not the astonishing 75 mpg of one tank earlier this year - still don't know how that happened - but nonetheless lots better than the 50 mpg or so that one normally expects from this size engine.

I am working on another, more elaborate, P. motoro stingray. Which will be for me. Speaking of stingrays, if some of you are insane enough to actually WANT one, don't forget that I need your address; there's an email link over there on the right-hand side of my journal. (Hey, [livejournal.com profile] beckerbuns claims to actually LIKE hers!) Your stingray will be chosen at random, most probably polka-dot or blue-spotted ribbontail, since that's what I'm making mostly.
bunrab: (bike)
We got the across-the-street neighbor to take a quick picture of us. (And I slipped in a gentle word to her about her 3-year-old riding her tricycle in the middle of the street... and we discussed, in a casual fashion, with no names mentioned, people who let their dogs out loose, and people who don't put their garbage cans away.) It's not a great picture, but the price was right, so here it is:
Kelly and Steve, Biker Skum )
bunrab: (bike)
So we were out on the bikes this afternoon. One would think that with the price of gas what it is, and people who are concerned with pollution, traffic, parking, etc. even if they don't worry about gas, there would be more bikes on the road now, but there are still few enough that we can pretty much all wave to each other.

I'll wave to just about anyone. Various makes of bike have their differences, and we might not all want to hang together at the same rally for a three-day weekend [1], but we're still all 2 wheels.

[1] A rough guide to bike stereotypes, which are not entirely baseless: Harley riders hang at biker bars, Kawi riders hang at the racetrack, Honda riders hang at luxury motels on tourist routes, and Beemer riders hang at coffee shops with wireless internet.

Since my last tank of gas included more highway riding than usual, I got 75 mpg! Honest, do the math yourself, 249.4 miles on 3.306 gallons. W00!

Maybe I can get the neighbors to take a picture of us with the bikes, for y'all's edification.
bunrab: (bike)
This evening, instead of regular rehearsal, the Bel Air Community Band had its awards banquet. So, we rode the bikes up there, about 60 miles each way (the banquet site is further away than the school we rehearse in.) Many people in the band did not know we were Biker Skum, since normally they only see us when we are toting large, heavy, asymmetrical brass objects, which travel better in a car than on a bike. Nice roads out in the countryside north of Bel Air proper. Note to self: you CAN'T see in the dark. Stop being so damn optimistic about it. Do NOT attempt to ride on interstate highways in the dark, even in the slow lane at 50 mph making other people crazy. REMEMBER that, why don't you, Kelly?

There are other routes home - we took US 1 most of the way, but got on I-695 for the last 15 miles or so, because the surface routes have problems. Staying on US 1 goes through some areas I'm not sure I want to ride a bike through at night, and US 40 would work except that I've been on that often enough during the day to know that it's in extremely bad repair in many spots, because it gets dug up for so many things so often, and so can be just as dangerous to two wheels. I'll have to investigate whether there are any other surface roads that aren't too complicated to find in the dark and would nonetheless allow me to stick to 35-40 mph, which is the outer edges of my night vision.

My brother JJ is gonna be in DE this week, visiting with our folks, so Thursday, weather permitting, we're gonna ride over to Dover and visit with them. And then stay overnight and ride back the next morning, NOT ride back 90 miles at night!
bunrab: (bike)
I can tell it's really spring now: the neighbor's kid set up his portable basketball hoop at the dead end of our street - in front of our house - and he and his friends started bouncing the basketball on the street, earlier than I would have liked to wake up. However, once up: yes! Sunlight! 70 degrees! Our household took its helmets down from the top of the entertainment center, found its gloves on the bookshelf, and rode off into the... traffic. Across the street from the foot of our block is a Sam's Club. Which apparently had something extra going on. It took several minutes to turn from our street onto the other road, and several more to get past the driveway to Sam's, and then a few more to get past the people in the turn lane who suddenly noticed it was a turn lane and then decided they didn't want to turn. And then, just after the right-turn-only lane, a patrol car, lights ablinking, in the traffic lane I needed, guarding several upset looking people on cell phones and a very crumpled car - I have to assume that the other car(s) had already been towed off, as this car could not have achieved the seriously stove-in side it had all by its lonesome. Once past that, finally, it was good. Miles per hour slightly in excess of the posted limit were achieved. Cherry trees in blossom were observed. Also dogwood and magnolia. Also dandelions. Many, many dandelions. Much of the rest of the helmet-owning population of the greater Baltimore area was waved at. Lunch was had. Errands were run. The post office clerks admired the bike, and no one asked why there is a grapevine christmas wreath wrapped around the bottom of my helmet box. And the mail included my order from Upton Tea, including the Spring Dragon Oolong which is my favorite oolong in the world, so now I am going to go make myself a cup of iced tea.

I had a dream the other night, where I had parked the bike on a street, and a van was blocking me from getting out of the parking space. The van owner refused to move the van until I had helped him round up his pygmy goats. Steve woke me up. I had to go back to sleep, to get a few more minutes, so that I could finish rounding up the goats and get the bike back out on the road.
bunrab: (bike)
We picked up [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet's new bike this afternoon. It was too dark already when we got home to take pictures; those'll have to wait. We shall say nothing about the Embarrassing Incident in the parking lot, since all's well that ends well, but really, John from Service had JUST finished warning me about center stands. One of the odder little falls I've ever taken. I still smell faintly of gasoline. (Blame as to exactly how it came about that the gas cover was not tightly closed has not yet been definitively assigned.) Oh well, they like us there, and they cleaned and detailed my bike. The new helmet box is nifty. (Speaking of nifty, I have been randomly re-reading old Sluggy Freelance, and so what I was singing at the top of my lungs on the way home was "Here he comes, Lord Grater, Lord Grater. He's smarter than a small po-tat-er.")

The new bike is, as I think I previously mentioned, a 1999 R1100RT. With fairing, windshield, and of all things a radio, which they even found a manual for. Not that S ever expects to use the radio. The fairing is handy in this weather. The high today was about 40°F, and it was dropping fast when we headed home. For me, one pair of cotton-nylon blend tights under my jeans works at 40°, but my knees start getting a bit chilly at 35°. (A pair of tights over a pair of pantyhose, and then jeans over them, will work nicely down to at least 20°F (-5°C), possibly even further but I've never tested them lower than that temperature.) I also bought a new windproof balaclava, to replace the one I bought last year and immediately lost. I'm sure that now that I've bought another one, last year's will show up in the next couple of days. Regular socks over the tights and under the boots kept my feet cozy right along.

It occurred to me that my bike is blue and I have a white helmet, and S's bike is green and he has a red helmet, and we wind up looking just a bit like the Chanukah-and-Christmas Bobbsey Twins.

Pictures next week, after I get back from my long weekend in NYC. Train fare seems to jump to $100 on weekends, at which point I decided to take the bus instead - they've got an eSaver fare of $20, and that difference makes it worth the extra 2 hours the bus takes. I'll then have to get from Port Authority to Penn Station, but no biggie, then the Long Island Snailroad out to Sally's, where the staying is cheap, which is how this trip still falls within my depleted budget. I thought about bringing the new horn with me, but no. Travel light. (I'm bringing the soprano recorder, though.) We'll mostly just be catching up on Sally's housework and paperwork. (There's stuff in that kitchen that her mother bought. Her mother passed away 4 years ago. There's 4 years worth of piled-up mail on the kitchen table. My strength is the speed at which I can chop that pile down to sacks full of recycling, and get them out the door, without the emotional turmoil it would cost her.)
bunrab: (music)
No, that's not a guinea pig, it's a soprano saxophone.
As in, I've just purchased a new used one. I seem to be becoming a saxophone collector. It won't help if I promise to use my saxophones only for good, because everyone knows saxophones are intrinsically evil, and the soprano sax is one of the evilest. I am looking forward to playing it.
pictures behind the cut )
Geeky details: It's an Antigua. I am far too lazy to look up the year based on the serial number. Included in the price was a Pro-Tec case, making it an even better bargain. I got a C-star mouthpiece to go with it; I tried a couple brands including a VanDoren, but you know, no matter what size sax I'm playing, I guess I like the C-star best. Geez, the price on mouthpieces has gone up.
This does destroy my discretionary budget for a couple months. So I won't be attempting to go to the Pittsburgh Knitting Festival in Feb., nor the RG in New Hampshire. We shall have to see what the budget looks like by April, at which point we also need to decide between (let alone do both) Penguicon and visiting Austin around [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet's birthday and an Austin Symphonic Band event.

In other news, squirrel_magnet picks up the new bike Thursday!! Pictures shall be forthcoming.

Incidentally, I shall be AFK Friday afternoon through Monday night, as I am going to NY to visit a friend and help her out with some stuff, and her computer is cranky, and I am traveling too light to carry a laptop with me.
bunrab: (krikey)
Well, we need an excuse to go out riding. I mean, with the price of gas what it is, and [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet's ancient bike getting less than 30 mpg, we can't just ride around burning up gas for the fun of it, right? So, we have flipped open the phone book, and we tracked down one of the used book stores listed. Perhaps tomorrow, we will try for another one, in a different direction.

The Book Rack, in Timonium, is well-lit, clean, cheerful, but about half the store is devoted to children, and while the mystery section is adequate, the SF section is small and the non-fiction nearly non-existent. To compare, Second Hand Books in Columbia is small, dark, extremely cramped, in terrible order - but has an enormous inventory of all sorts of non-fiction, as well as (cramped, poorly-lit) tall stacks of science fiction.

Timonium is definitely the suburbs. While Catonsville isn't inside the Baltimore City limits, and many people would call our neighborhood suburban simply because it's mostly garden apartments and single-family houses, it is very definitely urban compared to suburbs such as Timonium.

Still getting used to the concept of August weather not inducing heat stroke when one wears proper bike gear. Although I admit my gloves felt a bit warm. I know I have mesh summer gloves somewhere, but where is another matter. I suppose I'll just have to buy another pair, in order to make the existing pair show its hand, if you'll pardon the pun.
bunrab: (bike)
Well, we went to the Baltimore Symphony performance Thursday evening, Marin Alsop's first full concert conducting the symphony. The program was a mix - Christopher Rouse's first symphony, a Mozart piano concerto, and Dvorak's 7th symphony. From a very modern piece that was almost just noise, to a piece so classical it was almost Baroque, and then finally a happy medium smack in the high melodic Romantic - S says "the first two were just ranging shots, then they acquired the target."

Alsop gave us a few verbal program notes about the Rouse before they started, which was good because otherwise it would be difficult to appreciate. She was quite funny. The piece itself is dissonant and depressing. After the concert, Alsop, Rouse, and the piano soloist for the Mozart, Leon Fleischer, held a question-and-answer session with those of the audience who cared to stay, which we did. (And one of the orchestra members, whose name I didn't fully catch.) So I asked Rouse why he would call a one-movement work a symphony. He claimed that it had four sections, each of which followed proper sonata form. He also added, however, that he called it that because he could - which is what I had suspected. He told a story about a student of his calling a composition for four players "Quintet" because he could. Anyway, I didn't hear separate sections each with exposition, development, and recapitulation myself, and I don't like the piece enough to buy the CD and listen to it again, but I wouldn't mind seeing the score; I could probably spot some of it there, plus I'd like to see how he notated some of that noise.

After the Dvorak, the orchestra did an encore, of all things - one of Brahms' Hungarian Dances that had been orchestrated by Dvorak.

All in all, a very satisfying experience.

That reminds me, Fade and Rob, Pittsburgh has a famous enough orchestra - you have fair warning that if we hear they're going to do something really interesting, you can expect us at your door looking for a place to crash. Incidentally, nurse at my cardiologist's office was telling us of an alternate route to Pittsburgh besides just I-70; she's from Pittsburgh, and rides a motorcycle herself, and gave us the route numbers and all for a really nice ride come spring, that's not too many more miles than the Interstate, so it's a feasible ride for us. S entered the info into the GPS unit :-) Aren't you just thrilled to hear that aging hippie geek bikers are going to be landing on your doorstep frequently?
bunrab: (bike)
Lovely day for a ride again, nearly 60 degrees. [livejournal.com profile] fadethecat, it actually hit 60 in Pittsburgh today - warmer than here. Ridiculous, ain't it? Nonetheless, I am more than halfway finished with your afghan. However, the sewing together is the slow part, much less fun than making the granny squares.

While we were at Panera, I noticed a little kid admiring my bike as he and his mom were coming in; on their way out I told the mom it was OK to let the kid touch the bike, and he was in absolute transports of joy. I'm a bad influence.

Symphony tix for tonight - Marin Alsop's conducting.
Sock-knitting session tomorrow night.
Youngest sister's newest baby's christening, up in PA, Sunday afternoon. If the weather keeps up like this, I wonder if we could ride up there instead of driving? Might be risky, if it cools off and precipitation condenses to rain once it gets dark, as we'd be coming home. I will have to think about the risk/benefit ratio there.

boring medical stuff )

Oh yeah, magazines so far this week: New Yorker, New Scientist. Didn't get by the PO today, so tomorrow should see a whole bunch more mags and therefore more reading.
bunrab: (chocolate)
Since the daytime temps have been hovering near 50 for several days, we went for a ride today. Between going places where we needed large musical instruments, and having errands to run that involved mailing parcels and buying groceries, we hadn't had time until today. But we suited up and rode down to Columbia and around a bit, for lunch, and then ran minor errands on the way home - I'm home already, S isn't yet. S is going "so this is January up north? I can take this!" and I almost don't have the heart to point out that this is not a typical January. Although, who knows, with global warming it may well be that future Januaries will be like this.
The highway exit we got off at, down where our apartment from this summer is, has been the site of several nasty traffic accidents over the past 2 days. Luckily, those were things that happened in dark hours - everything was working fine and people were being quite careful during daylight today! Still, it gives one pause.
It would be easier to park the bikes in the carport if our driveway were a foot wider, so that one could drive in forward and make a complete U-turn without having to do any backing-and-forthing. At least we have a carport - several of the houses on this block don't. (A couple of them have actual garages, but they're one-car garages, just as narrow as the carport.)
One thing about riding around is, I notice how few birds there are here. we're not in Texas any more, Toto )
Anyway, it was good to get out in the fresh air.
bunrab: (chocolate)
Whoever designed the one-lane, left-exit ramp from I-95 onto 695, the Baltimore Beltway, should be taken out and shot. The rest of 95 never seems to have any traffic to speak of, and by a mile after the ramp bottleneck 695 is, if not completely up to speed, at least comfortably into a steady 4th gear range. But that ramp! OK, 95 northbound has this one-lane left exit. Which, because of the volume that uses it, actually means that the left lane of 95 itself, before the exit-only lane even starts, is backed up for about 2 miles. Then, the exit ramp curves around to the left, and - does it merge with 695? No, it does not. It merges, instead, with the ramp from southbound I-95, with those two streams of traffic, one from left, one from right, each invisible to each other until they suddenly meet and need to merge into one lane in the space of a few yards - THEN they finally merge into 695 on the right. It really is a considerable bit of what-were-they-thinking design.

Other than that:
  • We're still on dial-up, so I'm not spending much time online.
  • The car engine is making funny noises.
  • The new bike is great, although the throttle was rubbing against the hand-protector sleeve and therefore not springing back to 0 when released; I went over to Bob's* this afternoon and they fixed it for me right away. We also had a great time talking about the FSM - between me and Colin in parts, we may yet convert the entire shop to Pastafarians. I got a really neat FSM window decal from EvolveFish.com, which fits nicely onto the bike's little
    windscreen; I also put on a walking-fish-with-wrench emblem, which fits neatly on the gas tank in a spot that looks like it was made for it. Everybody admired them.
    *That particular page is pictures of people picking up their new bikes, including me.
  • Unpacking is slowly happening. We can sit on the sofa, although the armchair has momentarily been buried again, because we had to move the entertainment center out from the wall in order for the cable guy to finally get our cable TV signal working. Mission accomplished, albeit the "12:30 to 4:30" window for his service call turned out to be 6:45.
  • I put together a new cage for the chinnies (pictures forthcoming once I have broadband; I am NOT uploading pics on this connection!) and moved Fern back into her cage, so everybun is now in their regular large cages. The basement floor is almost clear enough to let them out to play, too. Gizmo has gotten out on his own at least once, and one of the chins escaped while I was moving them to their new cage. It took a certain amount of effort to recapture him; luckily it was fat Chippy, who is a tad slower, and can't fit in quite as many hiding spots, as Chili can.
  • Next task in house: clearing off kitchen flat surfaces. That should take a whole day.

    Any questions?
  • bunrab: (alien reading)
    The car got towed off for repair Tuesday morning; we hope to have it back by Wednesday afternoon so we can go up to Bel Air for an Army Field Band concert - my bike is definitely too small to take 2 people 40 miles up the interstate. We did manage to get a couple of library books returned yesterday, as it was their due date, but that's much closer and all local roads.

    Laundry in piles all over apt.

    I spent 20 minutes brushing Fred this evening, and 10 minutes later he looked as scruffy as ever. S thinks that Fred is trying to reproduce by mitosis, like an amoeba. That is one disheveled bun.

    I have no idea where our jackets are, and at the rate the weather is cooling off here, I am going to need jacket and gloves after dark pretty soon. Today even at mid-afternoon, with the wind chill it was just comfortable. I'm sure we'll still get a couple more really hot days here and there, but overall, it's getting dark earlier and it's getting cooler. That is such a strange sensation, after 24 years of summer that lasts through October. I like it.

    What I have read recently:
    The Family Trade and its sequel, The Hidden Family;
    Going Postal

    I give links above because I went ahead and wrote Amazon reviews; as ever, if you like the reviews, could you go ahead and vote? I'm so vain.

    And also, related to that, a chance to push something on all Terry Pratchett fans:
    Will Cuppy - as soon as you read some 70-year-old Will Cuppy essays, you will know exactly which master Pratchett has studied at the knees of.

    Also read Katie MacAlister's You Slay Me, a screwball fantasy romance - not great, but readable, funnier than many attempts to combine fantasy and romance. And Sharyn McCrumb's St. Dale, which is just a little strange...

    I found the world's greatest messenger bag. It has enough pockets for everything. It's a tad heavy, but what the heck.


    bunrab: (Default)

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