Thursday, April 7, 2016

I Heart New York

... well, not really, but NYC is okay.

I took a little trip to New York over Spring Break (woo!) and actually had a pretty good time. I wasn't really anticipating it to be that fun since I was mostly going for a job interview, but I met up with several friends in the area, did a ton of walking, and rode the Staten Island ferry more times than I'm willing to admit.

I used public transportation for my trip, which included $3 trips to get from Midway airport to my airbnb on Staten Island (bus to subway to free Staten Island ferry to walking 1 mile). It took close to 2 hours to cover that distance, but I have a weird love of public transit, so it was kind of perfect.

I found the subway system fairly easy to use; I'm not really sure why everyone talks about it like it's impossible to navigate, but I guess it could be confusing if you've never had to use a train system before. Other pros: $2.75 per ride, and trains run all night! (What! Not that it matters when you're asleep before midnight on any given night..) The only problem I ran into was that my Metrocard got demagnetized in my wallet, so I had to mail in a claim for the money that was stuck on it. Where are you supposed to keep a Metrocard so that it isn't near credit cards or your cell phone??

One of my friends found that the American Folk Art Museum was having an exhibit on Masonic imagery and symbols, so we ambled through Central Park (first stopping through Belvedere Castle) and made our way to the museum at Lincoln Square. The museum is free with donation-based admission and housed a cozy 3-room personal collection of paintings, sculptures, and clothing items amassed over the years.

The above dimly-lit picture shows all the major symbols of the IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows), many of which are common to Masons. It's a huge mess of symbols, including heart-in-the-hand for integrity; skull-and-bones, coffin, and winged-hourglass as reminders of mortality; and a bundle of rods showing strength in numbers. Needless to say, we're pretty much experts now.

And here's the exterior of the lovely Staten Island airbnb house I stayed in. My room was approximately the size of a large walk-in closet: large enough to fit a single mattress, a small set of plastic drawers, and a little space for walking around the mattress. It was $37 a night, but I ended up having the whole house to myself! Not too shabby. I also nearly destroyed my phone during this trip by initiating dreaded Updates, but possibly more on that another time.

Friday, April 1, 2016

An Artsy Chattanooga Christmas

The trek to Chattanooga this Christmas was complete with cats, lots of family time, and lots of rain.  Evan and I took the 3 kitties with us for a little over a week and split our time visiting the various members of our family and friends who were in town for the holiday.

I made it a point to walk around my favorite parts of downtown, so I got a few artsy or interesting pictures, including this obligatory one looking north through the Walnut Street Bridge.

The legacy of my old favorite restaurant and coffee house, The Mudpie.. replaced by Hill (sh)City pizza, and now by something else under construction.

This sign was only slightly comforting, but mostly disturbing, located at one of the shops on the North Shore by Coolidge Park.
I mentioned rain, and I'm not kidding: there was a thunderstorm on Christmas Eve, which is HIGHLY unusual, and the Tennessee River showed off that craziness with its swollen flood stage (not in itself an unusual occurrence). The above picture is looking south across the river, and it doesn't look too bad, but observe the closeup from the south shore:
All those little nubs that are separated from the stone staircase are actually 8+ foot tall lamp pillar things, and the stairs go all the way down to a sidewalk at their base. None of that is supposed to be underwater, so the river was probably close to 10 feet above where it should have been! A final more-closeup by the stairs, with ~1 foot of the pillars above water:
... And Rembrandt's in a coffee cup, mmmm.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Voting Made Easy (?)

I have a short backlog of entries to make, but I thought I'd write a timely one while it's fresh in my mind, especially since I don't have pictures to remember it by.

Today was (is) Super Tuesday, and Georgia is one of many states hosting presidential primary voting today. After 2 and a half years as an Athens resident, I figured it was about time for me to actually register to vote, so back in January, I did just that. If you have a Georgia driver's license, you can register online pretty quickly and easily, and I got my voter's card in the mail a few weeks ago.

My polling place is a short walk from my house, so the overall time it took me to walk there, vote, and walk home was about 25 minutes. I was afraid I might catch some flack for my driver's license address not being up to date, so I brought the voter's card along too, but it didn't seem to be a problem. Cell phones were not permitted in the voting area, so I couldn't get any pictures of the voting process.

I used an electronic voting setup (ExpressPoll maybe?), consisting of a touch-screen monitor and a card reader. The process was so quick and easy, I thought that there was no way anyone could screw it up. Seriously, you slide this plastic card with a chip into the reader until it clicks (as per directions on the reader itself), then you read a screen with directions, mark your vote on the next page, click "Cast Your Ballot", and it slides your card back out. Done, 10 seconds, maybe a minute if you're still deciding between candidates.

But sure enough, no sooner had I had turned in my card, gotten a sticker, and walked out the door, when one of the polling volunteers ran out and said I had forgotten to click "Cast Your Ballot" and that I needed to come back and finish voting. I said that I had clicked it, walked in, and saw that someone at a different machine had not actually finished before walking out. (The "Cast Your Ballot Screen" was showing in huge letters, with the chip still sitting in the reader.) The volunteer ran out and found the guilty party, who was completely clueless that they had not correctly completed the process, and all was well.

Seriously? Seriously.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Black Hole for Resumes

Check out these sweet socks I got from a Google campus recruiting event! (Crappy picture.. whatever.)

I got them because I answered the question, "Where did Google first start, specifically?" (Answer: Palo Alto. More specifically: in a garage in Palo Alto. You could get way more specific than that, regarding whose garage and the relation of that person to Google's founders... but let's not.)

The recruiters were accepting resumes, and as I glanced around the crowded auditorium with well over 100 students in it, I wondered if the resume pile would ever have human viewers. So at the bottom of my resume, I wrote, "Hi! Does anyone actually read all these resumes? Bye! :)"

That recruitment event was October 21, and I still haven't received a response to my hidden message. Take from that what you will.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It's a Trap!

Danger! Danger!

What kind of deranged person leaves such a booby trap as this in a public bathroom?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

3 Cat Harmony

I feel comfortable in declaring that we have achieved that most elusive state called 3 Cat Harmony. Things finally seem to have simmered down between my 2 kitties and our newest addition Sparky.
Sparky's story is a very sad one. We can only guess at his age, which is probably between 7 and 10 years old, but we know for sure that he's been abandoned at least 3 times. After his latest abandonment, Sparky was left in a cruel Kitty Limbo: his previous caretaker hadn't bothered to take him to the county shelter, and he was left with no home, food source, or prospects for either.

Enter bleeding-hearts Laura and Evan. (Suckers.) When we brought Sparky home with us, he was emaciated and had a large weeping abscess on his side. Fleas and ear mites were the least of his problems. Fast forward 4.5 months, and Sparky is healthy, happy, gaining weight, and driving us nuts the way only a talkative cat can. And all the cats are getting along now. (At least mostly.)
Signature move: paw in the mouth

Monday, November 16, 2015

Wild Rumpus-ing

... or All Hallow's Eve: Athens Edition.

This year's house pumpkins: a sexy lady pumpkin and some goober reddit meme
It's pretty cool living in a town where people take Halloween very seriously. And by Halloween, I mean Halloween costumes. People in Athens take their Halloween costumes very seriously.

The first year I was here, I vaguely dressed up for the Wild Rumpus parade on Halloween night, but only when I arrived at the parade did I realize how horribly under-dressed I was. People had been working on elaborate costumes for days, weeks, or even months before the parade! There was a giant papier-mache Dolly Parton with moving arms, a very convincing PeeWee Herman, Cheetah Girls on the aerial silks, and Max (from Where the Wild Things Are) leading the parade and heading the band for the after-party. Just to name a few. Evan made an awesome Wild Man costume and had his picture taken with some random Japanese tourists. (...?)

Our billiard room, with Ms. Peacock and the Confidential envelope in the background to the right.
From the Athens FotoFlower man.
This year my personal favorites were Richard Gene Simmons (Richard Simmons clothes and personality with Gene Simmons KISS makeup) and David Bowie from Labyrinth (complete with abducted baby). And my costume this year was part of the Clue Crew, that is, Clue the board game. We had characters, rooms, and even the lead pipe. Evan still had the best costume, going as the Confidential envelope. How does he always win?

As for me, I take pumpkin carving very seriously. Here's the house's pumpkins from last year (mine's Paul Stanley from KISS).