Saturday, December 19, 2015

This man in an Audi parked at Graul's in Ruxton

So I know that it's been awhile, but stuff has been going on, you know?

So now I have the time to revisit this issue about What I Hate About Baltimore.

And today's rant is this guy in an Audi - a ridiculously expensive Audi, parked at Graul's in Ruxton.

Now, I love me some Graul's - sometimes you need a market that can pamper you, and it's all that.

But I pulled into its lot the other day and parked my car in one of their parallel spaces.  Now I am an expert parker when it comes to parallel spaces.  I had two great teachers of parallel parking.  The first is my father, who ran me through the deal every time he took me to his office in downtown Cleveland.  Walked me through the alignment, the wheel cutting, everything.

My second teacher was the city of Washington, D.C.  Folks, parking in DC is sink or swim.  You have to be good at it.  And I got very good at it.

So I get out of my car and it is 6" from the curb.  The people in back and front each have three to four feet from the back of my bumper to the front of there's.  I am equidistant from each of my bumpers to the forward aft lines of my spot.

The the driver of the Audi behind me opens up his door and tells me to move my car forward because I have boxed him in.

So I look.

The man has over three feet between my bumper and his in the front, and about four feet between the tail of his car and the bumper of the suspiciously macho Ford 250 truck behind him.   So I point this out.

He gives me a dirty "Nevermind," and a blow off wave, backs up, cuts his wheels, and pulls out, and drives away, slipping me the finger.

Now, had I pulled up those few inches, because he was "boxed in", then I would have boxed the car in front of me in.   This would have also set me up to be boxed in in the rear because drivers in Baltimore seldom park within the lines.

And the more I thought about it, the more reasons I came up as to why this guy wanted me to move my car for his convenience:

1) He was planning on using the space I took to pull forward when he was good and ready.
2) He was too lazy to turn his head and look to see how much space he had.

And my favorite:  "This is Ruxton, and you are making my life inconvenient."

I think the last reason is it.

Still, it speaks to larger problem.  These idiots who go out and buy these obscenely expensive cars, with all these parking assists - like active backing assists that sound alarms when you get too close to a bumper or object behind you, or the satellite parking assists that park your car for you because you never did figure out how to parallel park like you should of.   Never mind that we have necks that allow us to turn our heads except in cases where we have a legitimate injury of condition.

Now had I parked wrong, if I had parked sloppily. Had I parked in such a way, even, that I would have damaged his vehicle, then yes.  I should move my car and fix the parking as not to inconvenience others.

But I was perfect in my space.

This guy's only problem was that he has too much money and is too lazy to drive his own car.   To fix that, the jerk wanted me to put myself out.

And that is what I hate about Baltimore - people are lousy at parking, and lazy about getting out of their own spaces.

Monday, January 26, 2015

White death, part XII

People, this is their idea of certain white death.

Well, here I sit, alone in my house with the dogs on a planned day off, and wouldn't you know it but Baltimore is under siege, again, with Winter Storm Janis.  Janis is bearing down on us, dropping three or maybe four inches of snow.  And WHITE DEATH is upon us, AGAIN, as if it were the first time we have had snow this season.

C'mon, people - grow some balls, already.

It is January 26th, and we are one week until Groundhog Day, but the feeble minded people Baltimore are acting as if Stephen King has scripted another Storm of the Century.  And I can hear them now, worried that Andre Linoge has arrived and wants to claim someone's child in order for the snow to stop!

"Sweet Merciful Jesus, what we going to now?"

We were supposed to get walloped on Saturday.  Then they said Friday.  Then they said Friday really bad.  THEN they added in Sunday.

So the people who didn't get that extra gallon of milk on Friday are jamming the stores today, clearing the shelves of everything from Maypo to capers preparing for the BIG dig out.

Even our councilman, Bill Henry (who is the biggest jerk-off in a city of jerk-off's) sent out a missive about keeping walks clean for the postman, with a warning that if we fail to clear the walks within THREE HOURS of the snow we will be FINED!  Because God forbid that postmen who tramp through our snow covered yards care about the walks.

Hells Bells, even the Baltimore public school system went into today on a two hour delay (when we had no snow) and have already decided that they are releasing at least an hour early, when we might have two inches of snow?

Meanwhile, up in New England they might get two feet.  Now thats what I call snow.

"But, but, but," say the pansy asses around here, "they're used to getting snow up there.  We get ice and ice is more dangerous than snow..."

True dat.

The great ironies are many:

1) Yes, we get ice.  And ice is dangerous.  But you, as a city, do not maintain the roads.  AND you as a population do not slow down when its icy.  No instead you speed up.  What the fuck, seriously.

2) We get snow here.  This isn't a one time event.  The dogwood is not in bloom, covered in a tuft of snow,  THIS HAPPENS EVERY WINTER, and THROUGHOUT the damn winter.   Yet like bunch of simple beings it snows and they greet it with all the wonder of "what is the Lord doing to us now?"

Seriously, for these people, EVERY FUCKING SNOW STORM is just like Bill Murray's Groundhog Day.  With one important difference: Baltimoreans have incredibly short memories of what happened the week before.

Looking at a calender, we have about six weeks until the spring thaw begins to set in.  And February and March are cruel months to be sure.  But when the next snow blows in, at least I won't be hiding under the bed like the rest of them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Oh, LAW! It's SNOWING and we're all going to DIE"

From the looks of things, the picture above is a tell tail sign that certain DEATH is headed our way as its SNOWING for GOD'S SAKE.  Said the woman in the line at the market this morning, even before the snow started falling: "Oh, Law! This snow from the global warming is going to ruin my Thanksgiving!"

If its one thing that people in Baltimore and Washington can't handle, it's snow.

And I'm not talking a lot.  I mean some on the cars, the roofs, but melting when it hits the ground. Maybe a fraction of an inch.

You'd think its the end of the earth.

And how do they react?

  • Because they think that snow will harm their fine automobiles, they drive even worse than they do when the roads are dry, its sunny out and 70 degrees.  Traffic lights, speed limits and lines on the roadways be damned.  Add 20mph to your speed if the roads are icy, just to be safe. 
  • Bad parking becomes worse, because not only can't they see the lines, but it means they can park any old way they wish.   Never mind if they know that the spaces at the Target go one direction.  If there is snow in the air, it's every man for themselves. 
  • They panic buy, everything when a 1/4" is forecasted.  One need only visit the TERRIBLE Giant Food on York Road, south of Towson to see this idiocy in action. 
  • They close the schools if 1/4 is forecasted in November, because November snow must do something evil, like dissolve the children. 
  • They close the schools if a 1/2 is forecasted in December - because they don't want children trapped in a school for Christmas, even if Christmas is still three weeks away. 
  • The News bulletins and the out doing of the Dual Doppler Radar.  Nothing elicits panic like second by second calling of the SNOW falling.  All this does is draw Baltimorians to the place where the snow falls. 
  • "It's snowing - quick we have to get to the beltway, NOW!" They jam onto the beltway even if traffic is at a standstill while secondary roads remain open and passable. Nevermind that Putty Hill Road will take you from East Towson to Bel Air Road in 20 minutes at; they have to clog up the beltway where they sit for HOURS so they have something to bitch about. 
  • If it snows at BWI, that's it.  No one is going anywhere.  Why?  Just because; that's why.
And this just isn't a one time deal, it's all freaking winter, so in the spring, they can complain about the total snowfall, usually about 8", and bitch about "the climate change". 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Way WBAL Credits Tim Tooten

FIRST, and FOREMOST, let me say that I respect WBAL-TV reporter Tim Tooten.  He's an awesome reporter, very thorough, and he's a great communicator.   At WBAL-TV, the local NBC affiliate, Tooten covers education stories.  Tim Tooten is a-OK in my book.

When he's not a reporter, Tooten is a minister, and he has earned - through very hard work and with purpose - his Doctor of Divinity from Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia.  And to Rev. Tooten, I tip my hat.

What what makes me nuts is the way the station credits him when he is on air, which is as Dr. Tim Tooten, DdM.

See, I am old school on reporting.  I hate what has happened to new reporting - where the talking heads espouse their opinions.  To me, news should be news.  You report the facts as objectively as you can, which is what Tooten does.

But that "Doctor" in front of his name has no business in front of his name as a reporter, and I mean no respect in saying that.

Titles are used when one is guest on the news for an interview -OR- one is reporting on their area of expertise.

But in broadcast news, it isn't Mr. Tim Tooten, its Tim Tooten.  It isn't Mr. Bryan Williams, its Bryan Williams.  If he is reporting about Medicine, then he is Dr. Sanjay Gupta, MD because that is his field of expertise.

I asked a native Baltimorean about Tooten's degree being added to his name.  "Well," she said, "in the African American community, having that Doctor of Divinity degree really signifies that he is a leader - that he has worked hard to obtain something of meaning and wisdom."

OK, says I, but does it seem affected when he isn't reporting on his field of expertise?

"Honestly, I think that white people see it as a hurdle, but it doesn't taint my opinion one way or another."

What then would she think if Rabbi Sam Plotnik left the Temple to become a news anchor?  How would "Rabbi Sam Plotnik with the news, at six and eleven" sound?

She saw my point.  "Maybe Dr. Tim Tooten would do a story on that."

And that, we both agreed, would be the right time for his degree to come into play.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The one where I bitch about the speed cameras

For the uninitiated, Baltimore (city) has the largest red light and speed camera system in the Nation, with Washington D.C. a close second.

Actually, Baltimore HAD the largest red light and speed camera system in the nation.   They don't have it anymore because of a number of screw ups, too many to list, but lets just say the blame, like manure, gets spread around generously.

When we moved here, we were warned by neighbors that the cameras got you speeding or not.  We thought they were joking.  They weren't.

About four months after we moved here, the Baltimore Sun, our daily newspaper of record, started publishing a scathing series on the program, showing that the Xerox monitored system was, more often than not, identifying too many people who were well within the speed limit as speeders, and that the review officers at the Police Department weren't reviewing the pictures so much as they were eating Cheetos and pushing the button to certify the speeding and send the ticket.

The system was even issuing tickets to people who were going above the posted speed limit sign, even when they were stopped.

The Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, responded to questions by the Sun by saying, and I am paraphrasing, "Yes, we know that there are problems, but your continually asking questions isn't helping anyone solve the problem."

So the city knew they had a problem, but they chose to do nothing to solve it until the newspaper revealed the problem, but in doing so the Sun wasn't helping matters for the city.

So the city is running a scam by bilking drivers out of money that they may, or may not owe.  It now the city is feeling put upon.

Pity party time!

So what did the city do to fix it?  They Terminated their contract with Xerox and hired a company named Breckford, of Columbia, Maryland to run the program.

Well day one, Breckford goes to turn on the system, and lo and behold, when Xerox left, they took their proprietary software that they developed to run the system.   And Breakford didn't have a thing that worked with the Baltimore system, despite saying that they did.

And the city fathers?  They were outraged!  How dare Xerox take the software!  And how dare Breckford say one thing and do another!

Does the city of Baltimore have a legal department? Does the legal department read contracts?  Do they share what they have read with other departments?

Because Xerox said that they would take their software when the contract was not renewed, and there was NOTHING in the Breakford contract that said that they would fix any problems for free.

But somehow, all of this escaped the city.

So, here we are, eight months with no system, and what does Baltimore do?  They cancel the contract with Brekford and and pay Breckford $600,000 to go away.

With the highest real estate taxes in the entire state of Maryland, I am offended that the city is so cavalier with the money that they throw around.

But as they say "This is the way the city has always done things."  Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The one where I bitch about the way they park.

For some reason, a large number of Baltimore drivers are unable to park their vehicles. They do not understand that they are supposed to park in the middle of the parking space.  There are bad drivers everywhere, but what you get with Baltimore drivers is "consistency".

This, I am told their bad parking can happen for ANY number of reasons:

1) "I can't see the parking lines over my hood."
3) They are in a hurry and "don't have time for that."
4) "I'll just be a minute, so it don't matter."
5) "Ain't nothing wrong with how I parked."
6) "You're not from around here, but you're in the South..."

The thing is, bad parking seems to affect all kinds of people, in any place that a car can be placed.  So their are not class, race, nationality or other groups who do better or worse.  This makes it easy to divide the bad parking into two groups:

1) Those who know how to park -and-
2) Those who do not know how to park

For argument sake, lets start with how parking in a spaces should look in a perfect world:

Each box represents a vehicle, with the blue outline representing a designated disabled space.  For the most part, each box is in its space.  Some pull in further, others don't.  And the disabled driver's box is pulled slightly to one side to account for access needs.

Again, this is how it should work, all things considered. But in the Charm City, this is what you more likely will find:

The green vehicle is parked normally, but the pink vehicle (and for this example, its just a color, not and indication if its a male or a female, has placed their car near, on and sometimes over the right line of the space. The tail sticking off is an optional thing to do, but only in special occasions.  This is what those of us who aren't from here call a classic Baltimore Parking job.  

Notice what the pink car has done to the blue car in the disabled space.  The driver of the vehicle must park to the far right of their space to get their needed room so they can navigate their way out of their car.

THE SECOND METHOD of parking for some Baltimoreans is as aggravating (or more even more so) than the method shown above.  This one takes lots of practice to get it right.

This freeform example of Baltimore Parking life difficult for EVERYONE, except the person doing the parking.  We call this the Southern Slide Style.

Notice the finesse at how the pink car is parked.  It manages to make the people on your right AND left, miserable.  This is far more common than one would thing.  And its very effective in communicating that:

1) I don't give a damn about my car.
2) I don't give a damn about your car.
3) I'm in a hurry.
4) This is how we roll.
5) I dare you to hit my car.
6) What the hell are you looking at?

These two examples are one of the constants that you can count on in Baltimore parking lots, because they are common as a cold, and as sure a thing like the sun coming up in the east and setting in the west.

The only saving grace that Baltimore drivers do have is the ability to parallel park, excluding small wealthy women in huge SUV's, who can't see over the hood and depended singularly on their back up cameras.

So my question is, how can they park so well on the street, and horribly in a congested lot?  You tell me, because I don't have the answer.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The one where I bitch about bad customer service

Is there no end to what we suffer at the grocery stores in fair Baltimore city?

While at the Weis Market yesterday with the husband, we got to the coffee section and found that the coffee we drink was on sale, two 12oz bags for $9.99, or a regular 24oz bag for $15 dollars.  Well, what would you do?

As husband was placing two of the bags in the cart, he noticed that the sell by date was two months old. We started digging into the two rows and found one bag that had sell by date of April 2014.  So while he kept digging (if you find one, you are more than likely to find another one, right) so I took two of the out of date bags to customer service and was waited on a personality deficient woman.  How do I know she is a personality deficient?  When she saw me approach the counter, I could hear her whine "now what?"

I handed her the bags and she gave me a flat "I'll tell the manager," as she tossed the two bags aside. If this were Kroger, they would have given a bag of coffee for free for finding the out of date stuff.  But Red gave me nothing; no acknowledgement, no thank you, no nothing. And at that moment I didn't want anything from her except to tell her that there was a stocking issue.  She didn't even give me the feeling that she would tell the manager.

When I got back to the coffee section husband had the bag he found, and two pound bag in his hand.  Do you think we can get this big bag for advertised price because the other twenty bags are out of date, says me.  The husband said it was worth a try so back I went with the one in date bag and the two pound bag.

As I approached the counter she saw me and her body tensed up.  As I stepped up to the counter she barked "I TOLD YOU I WOULD TELL THE MANAGER. I DON'T NEED ALL THESE BAGS OF COFFEE BROUGHT TO ME."

I took a deep breath ask to speak with the manager directly.  Why, she demanded to know why.  I explained what I wanted to speak with the manager.

Husband walked up and asked if they would honor the single bag in lieu of the two bags.

"Oh, well if I knew what you wanted..."

And out of my mouth came "I am done with you."  Sweet Jesus, I have turned into one of them.

She looked at me knocked on the manager's door, stuck her head in talked with him for a good two minutes before he came out and asked how he could help us.  We explained that we couldn't buy the two bags, could he honor the price.

"Sure, I don't have a problem with that. How are you doing today?"

God only knows what Red told him, but now I was on the hot seat.

I explained that had she simply asked what I needed, instead of barking at me before I said anything that there wouldn't have been an issue.

We went on our way and went home.

What gets in my craw about this whole thing isn't Weis Markets.  We like them, we shop at them. What irks me is that there seems to be a higher than average number of people here assume too many things.

They assume they can read your mind.

They assume you didn't hear them the first time even though you thank them for the directions.

They assume that you are an idiot.

And they assume that they know everything, like hiring an person better suited for a job where they don't interact with the public would make a fine customer service employee.