What Day Is It?

I will maintain forever that you’ve had a really great night of sleep when you wake up and you have no idea what day it is. That’s what happened to me this morning. I suppose I could’ve turned on the radio to find out, but instead, I was halfway through my shower, having an internal debate with myself whether today was sometime during the week or Saturday, when I remembered that today, was, in fact, Wednesday.

I hope I don’t know what day it is when I wake up tomorrow, either.

I think you woulda liked my Hogwarts.

You: Cute blonde upset that you bought your copy of “Harry Potter” at a store not offering a free Harry Potter Calendar.

Me: Stocky dude in “MARYLAND” hooded sweatshirt buying “Harry Potter” at Circuit City because it was the cheapest price and not caring a wit for free Harry Potter Calendar.

You: Happy that I gave you my free calendar.

Me: Happy I was able to make you smile and pissed at myself for not asking you out. (I think you woulda liked my Hogwarts*.)

*Yeah. No double entendre, that.

UPDATE: The Baltimore Sun’s Maryann Jones gives me some ‘geek love’ on BaltAmour. I think the double entendre loses something without the link to the seven foot tall Lego castle, though.

Killer Interest Rate

I wasn’t going to buy a car today I wasn’t going to buy a car today I wasn’t going to buy a car today.

I test drove both a Corolla and a Matrix. There were some embarassing moments: I did, in fact, forget that when driving a stick shift, one has to press the clutch to turn the vehicle on. They both had a very tight turning radius, and the greater elevation off the road (as compared to the Celica) made for a smoother ride.

In the end, I preferred the Matrix. While the Corolla had a few more bells and whistles (the only one I really would’ve liked were the fog lights), a six-disc CD changer wasn’t enough to compensate for the far more comfortable driving position in the Matrix (I felt like I had to reach for the shift knob in the Corolla, which made me uncomfortable). In addition, I liked the greater size of the Matrix (it gets 26/33 mileage): now if those tailgaters ram me, I won’t be a pancaked Snay!

I still wasn’t ready to buy. My dad had offered to cosign so that I could get a better rate, plus, I was on the fence as to whether or not to wait until my check from the insurance company arrived so that I could make a downpayment. Carmax Financing and Bank of America offered ridiculous rates, and I was ready to wait a couple of days, but I guess Toyota likes me.

After a quick call to my dad to confirm a.) that their interest rate was what I thought it was (which is to say “killer”), and b.), that even with his signature on the application, I wouldn’t get a better interest rate, I signed on the dotted line.

So, with an interest rate of 4.9% (four point something percent, anyway, I don’t have the paperwork right here at the desk), I drove off the lot in a 2008 Toyota Matrix. It’s “indigo ink”, which is a fancy way of saying “navy blue.” It doesn’t have all the goodies, but it has its fair share: cruise control, power windows, remote entry, a panic button! Best of all is the “Anti-Deer Avoidance System” at the wheel (aka: me!*).

*One deer hit in five years, estimating a minimum of two deer avoidances per week (probably higher) gives us a failure rate of 1:520.

Upside Down

Anybody know where I can locate a notary public in Maryland? All my google searches are fruitless! (I guess most lawyers are NPs, right? And possibly the guy at the body shop…)

So, the insurance company called back. I’ll be getting a cool forty-two hundred for my car (less my deductible, of course). Here’s the problem: they stop paying for my rental in two days, and I don’t get the check from ’em until they get some documents from me (which require a notary public’s witness, and signature, possibly, and other stuff). Here’s the other problem: I want that money for a downpayment!

Looks like I’ll be paying Out of Pocket for my rental for a day or five.

Anyway.

Notary publics. Where. Are. Thou?

And The Insurance Company Says …

Although the precise value of the car (and thus the size of a check that they’ll cut me) is still to be determined, the insurance company has ruled my baby a ‘total loss.’ I’m going to the bodyshop tomorrow to remove the remainder of my property (as well as the license plates), after which, I’ll be driving over to CarMax to scope out some possible new rides, although I don’t expect to purchase a new vehicle until next week.

Tearing Up E. Padonia Road

I have a two bedroom apartment in Timonium the front of which faces Padonia Road. The small bedroom, which doesn’t have a front-facing window, is 125 square feet. The larger bedroom, which has a window facing directly into the parking lot — and Padonia Road past that — is 166 square feet. Neither bedroom is a master suite — one must leave either bedroom to get to the bathroom.

I get some grief on occasions from people who wonder why I use the larger as a den, and the smaller as a bedroom. My logic has always been simple: I put my bed, a nightstand, and a dresser in my bedroom. Into my den, however, I squeeze a computer desk, my lego hobby area (which consists of several tables and storage units and wall-mounted shelving), a television, and a few bookshelves. And, believe me, that room is very cramped and tight and borderline clausterphobic.

There are two other reasons I selected to make the smaller room my bedroom: the first of those is light. As I mentioned, the larger bedroom faces Padonia Road and the apartment’s parking lot. I also live on the ground floor. People pulling into or out of the lot, at night, would be shining their headlights directly into my bedroom. True, I could compensate for this by installing bomb-raid curtains, but why should I wish to do that?

A second reason is the temperature. The larger bedroom seems to be less well insulated than the smaller bedroom: there’s a noticeable drop in temp when walking into it from the rest of the apartment. I don’t quite know why this is, and am left to guessing as to possibly causes, among them, that the bedroom’s closet, enlarged by what appears to have once been used for a water heater (according to this floorplan), was never properly insulated after whatever was in there was removed.

In any case, tonight is one of those nights where I’m really glad my bedroom doesn’t face Padonia Road (and my neighbors above me probably regret it if theirs do). Since about 11am this morning, road crews from Baltimore County have had the eastern most stretch of Padonia Road (it dead ends shortly after you pass my apartment complex) blocked off. Twelve hours later, and they’ve moved some construction equipment in, they’ve got industrial lights set up, and the bada-bada-bada of a jackhammer is not quite rolling through my apartment’s walls.

I get the feeling a lot of my neighbors are going to be pulling their sheets over their heads tonight.

Day of Infamy

wwii

The official entry of the United States to World War II was on December 8th, 1941, when Congress declared on Japan (Germany and Italy would declare on the U.S. on December 11th, and the U.S. reciprocated the same day*).

For all practical purposes, the U.S. entered the Pacific War sixty-six years ago today, when Japanese warplanes bombed the Pacific U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. Those who died there, those who are still entombed today, don’t care that it was a Day of Infamy: the dead are beyond such concerns.

As those who survived age (brilliant headline in the Sun today: “Never so few veterans as now to remember Pearl Harbor day“, because there could possibly be MORE than in previous years?) let us remember those whose lives were cut so brutally short, not only at Pearl Harbor, but also all across the world in the Second World War.

*Hungary and Bulgaria declared war on the U.S. two days later, but we didn’t get around to declaring war on them until June of the following year.

Frak Goucher

I’m a little biased, true, but I’ve never been a big fan of deer (especially after I started killing them with my cars*).

An article in today’s The Baltimore Sun discussed Goucher College’s plan to use archers to thin the school’s large deer crowd.

Roaming families of spotted deer are a common sight at the private liberal arts college, which prides itself on its environmentally-friendly grounds. The saucer-eyed creatures are featured on Goucher’s Web site and mentioned in commencement speeches. “Deer of all ages and sizes run freely around campus as soon as dusk falls,” senior Lisa Gulian said in a graduation address last spring when reminding the Class of 2007 “what makes Goucher, Goucher.”

George Timko, an urban deer biologist with the natural resources department, said that he first began advising the college about its growing deer problem in 2004, and that thinning the herd is an effective strategy to promote the health of the surviving animals and protect the humans occupying their habitats.

Overpopulated herds of deer living in confined spaces, particularly in the suburbs, tend to be “not too healthy and not too happy,” Timko said.

The state estimates there are about 245,000 deer in Maryland, and the goal is to reduce that number to 215,000. Timko said that estimates of suburban deer are more difficult to gauge, and that those herds are especially problematic because they are removed from natural predators that feast on them in the wild.

In today’s world, the suburban residing deer’s biggest predator is called “the automobile.” I’m all for ecology, but that includes ecological balance. Suburban growth has pushed into the deers’ habitat. We’ve created the problem of these large suburban deer herds, and as distasteful as it is, that means the solution to this problem is either to import a shit load of bear, or try to thin the deer herds. I mean, I guess we could try to teach deer about responsible population control — y’know, give ’em condoms, encourage abstinence — but I don’t think they’re going to go for it.

Meanwhile, while it’s easy to characterize the student body of Goucher as not seeing the larger picture (a Facebook group formed to oppose the hunt calls itself “Fuck Goucher”, although I have to say at some point, every undergraduate says “Fuck [their school]”), I found comfort in the words of Erike Cardona, who views the hunt as a “necessary evil”, and said “It has to happen; otherwise, all the other deer will get sick, and we’ll lose the whole population … And I don’t want that.”

*Still no word on my car!

* They could kill all the deer in Maryland, and I’d be okay with it.

!FiDO!

fido_pic

<a href="Fido: Forget World War II — the defining moment in America’s 20th Century history came when space particles reanimated the corpses of the dead. Now it’s the 1950s and society exists in areas enclosed by fence from zombie “wild zones”, while within, zombies controlled by blinking dog-collars tame their brain-eating fever and make them suitable for domestic work.

Enter the Robinson family. They’re the only ones on the block without domestic zombies, until new neighbors — the Bottoms — move in. Mr. Bottom (Henry Czerny) is head of security at Zomcom, the corporation that domesticated the brain-munching legions. Mrs. Robinson (Carrie-Anne Moss), in an attempt to fit in, tells her new neighbors (who have a dozen) that they have a single zombie (Billy Connolly). This doesn’t much go over well with Mr. Robinson, who refuses to admit that he’s afraid of zombies (a traumatic experience in his past), and is overly concerned with making sure he and his family have proper funerals. His neglected son Timmy, meanwhile, finds in the new zombie pet (which he names “Fido”) the father figure he’s never really had. Everything’s perfect … until Fido’s collar starts to malfunction …

The movie is no Shaun of the Dead, but it is witty and funny and a little … erm, sick … and totally worth the time to stick it on your Netflix queue. From the rebellion of a son (and his mom backing him up) telling his dad that he doesn’t want a funeral (he’d prefer to be zombified, thank you very much) to the possibility of his mother getting knocked up by the house zombie, which, oddly, if far more emotionally available than her husband.

Good zombie flick. Check it out!

Also check out Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party, which I’m watching right now. You might not recognize his name, but you’d recognize his face, I’m sure. The film is documentarish, following Tobolowsky on the day leading up to his birthday party, focused primarily on the stories he tells of the life-altering events he’s encountered: from being denied dinner twice (across the world!) by Ronald Reagan, to engaging in a cold war with a dolphin, and jumping in a tank full of so-called-vegetarian pirahnas, it’s an enjoyable flick. Check it out.

shiver

Fun is trying to clear your rental car of snow and ice after you’ve left most of your ice and snow clearing tools in the trunk of your own car, which is at the body shop.

Here’s how you do it:

Clear what snow you can off the vehicle using a shovel. Run the heat/defrost at maximum until the ice is melting, then use a towel (or the wipers) to clear off what ice you can. Move the car to a sunny spot in the parking lot. The sunlight will heat the interior of the car and hopefully help prevent the ice from reforming.

The Uniqueness of Winter

Being that winter doesn’t officially start for a couple of weeks, I’m not sure where I’m going with this. But forget the “official” start of winter — joking with a customer last night, we both agreed we were damn glad the season was here, and with snow falling outside, it’s hard to dispute: not only does it feel like winter, it looks like winter.

You know what’s unique about winter? It’s the season we encounter twice a year. No, really, think about it. We’ve already had winter this year. According to Google, Spring ’07 began March 21st, which means that, in terms of winter, we’ve already had two and a half plus months of winter this year. We’ve also had snow already this year (and good lord, how many people wrote “first snow of the year” for blog posts today? Too many!), a quick blog archive search shows posts relating to snow events on March 8th, February 25th, February 12th and February 2nd.

So, this is actually the fifth snow day of the year.

I was supposed to work today. Those plans got scrapped when my rental decided to do a 180-degree spin on Warren Road, which hadn’t been cleared well. As work would require a lot of travel on “back roads” which probably wouldn’t be in much better conditions, I chose to play it safe rather then sorry (well, that and Greg refused to pay my deductible to the rental company if I damaged the car).

Appraisal

I just spoke to my insurance rep. My car is scheduled for an “appraisal” late Thursday afternoon. I don’t know if they’re appraising it to judge whether or not the car is worth repairing, or to appraise it to figure out how much of a check they should send me to total the vehicle.

I imagine I’ll know, one way or the other, sometime Friday.

And then I’ll possibly be going car shopping next week. (The Toyota Matrix is leading the pack.)

Meanwhile, I hate my rental. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but I don’t much like my rental. I think that’s true of any rental car. It’s different than mine. It’s bigger, uglier, clunky. It’s an automatic. It’s got weird indicators on the dash, and I’ve spent more time than I enjoy flipping through the owner’s manual trying to identify them. I miss having a clutch pedal.