Sunday, February 28, 2010

Restoring Order

Wow, I just realized how long it's been since my last blog posting. Well, that's because I've been moving (yet again). I am officially in my 47th abode. Oh, and this is a new state for me—Georgia. So that makes 11 different states (plus Bermuda) that I've lived in.

Don't ask me how I ended up moving this far from New York, especially after I swore I'd never live any further south than Virginia ever again. I'm not a fan of sweltering humidity. Truth is, it's a lot more affordable to be unemployed in Atlanta than in D.C. or NY. So I blame the recession, combined with the absurd cost of living in the D.C. area, for my latest move. Plus I have family here that I don't get to see often enough.

The only thing I'm lacking at this point is a car. In the 12 days that I've been here, I've learned that Atlanta has THE worst public transportation system I've encountered. I live on a major arterial that runs right into Buckhead and out to the suburbs, and yet there is only one single bus I can hop on to go up the road. And that bus only goes about a mile before it's at the end of its route. Not to mention, it runs about once an hour. Pretty useless.

I live near a Marta train station, but the only time that will help me out is if I'm going to the airport. Everyone here agrees that the trains are pretty useless for commuting.

So a car will be a necessity here—something I haven't had to deal with in nearly three years. The insurance will be expensive. I found out that my medical insurance will increase by a whopping fifty percent. My renters insurance tripled. My apartment (plus storage) is 35% cheaper and 14% larger than my place in Virginia. At least the lower cost of housing makes up for the outrageous cost of insurance.

Baby and Jelly survived the trip, which was a 10-hour drive. Baby, as usual, made it quite clear to me that she was upset about moving. Cats are creatures of habit. They don't like sudden, drastic changes in their environment. Baby knew what was up the minute I started packing boxes in December. They were both unhappy about being stuck in a closet/bathroom on moving day.

Then when I put them in their carriers for the road trip that Saturday afternoon, Baby cried for nearly two hours of the 7-hour drive to a South Carolina motel. She finally gave up. The next morning she repeated the dramatic routine, but we were at my brother's place just 2-1/2 hours later, so it wasn't as big a deal.

At my brother's, we had an entire 1,700-sf finished basement apartment to ourselves. So I couldn't understand why the kitties hid under a bed on the cold tile floor, refusing to come out for about an hour. There was so much exploring to be done, so it was bizarre behavior for cats. I realized later that they were probably terrified because they could smell my brother's dog Buddy (a sweet, harmless yellow lab).

After the movers left my apartment that Monday, I went back to my brother's to gather up the girls for their final, brief car ride to our new home.

As soon as I took them out of their carriers and they saw (and smelled) our "stuff," they were ecstatic. There were boxes stacked everywhere, but the girls recognized our things, and thanked me profusely with extra affection for a couple days. Even Jelly, who has never been a "lap cat," crawled up on top of me while I was reading in bed that night and snuggled in on my chest, purring. That's a first.

So here we are. I'll be done unpacking, organizing, and decorating by the end of this weekend. My multitudinous bruises are finally starting to fade, and my sore muscles are starting to feel better. Moving is a tremendous amount of work (especially when your movers fail to produce enough manpower to do the job during the timeframe that you have the loading dock at your apartment reserved—but that's another story).

I'm off to visit my mom and dad (in my brother's borrowed car). Hmmm. It's been about 13 years since I lived within driving distance of my parents. That definitely means more gumbo for me! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

White Hurricane

Today, 02-10-2010, it is warmer in Reykjavik, Iceland, than it is here—by 20 degrees. We are in a white-out; visibility has been as short as ten feet on the highways. The wind has been howling around my building and up through the elevator shafts all day. My apartment door has been vibrating and the wind whistling outside the windows since I woke up this morning.

Even though I live in a completely enclosed high-rise, trying to open my front door earlier today was difficult due to an invisible and powerful draft. I had to push hard to get back into my place.

We have been in a true blizzard since early this morning, and this afternoon we broke the record for the most snow in D.C. in one winter—the total is nearly 56" now.

Looking out the window, all there is to see is whiteness. Newscasters are interviewing people snow-boarding down hilly streets in D.C. Some guys were out there playing football in the bitter cold and swirling snow. One idiot was out for his regular jog. The news reporter interviewed him near some trail, and when the camera man pulled back, both the jogger and news guy were standing up to their thighs in snow. How do you jog in that?? Geez. That can't be healthy!

Last night the mail carrier didn't come till after I went to bed, so I finally did get a Law & Order DVD and a movie from Netflix. I am sure we won't get any more mail delivered for another couple of days. I spent the day packing and organizing my boxes and containers for my move. There is very little left to pack, and I still have a full nine days before the movers arrive to load the truck.

Here is an unusual sign in the elevator of my apartment building, and some pictures taken from the lobby:

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Snow 5.0

You kno-o-o-o-o-w. . . I was pretty sure that when I left New York just over a year ago, I turned left. But now I'm not so sure. This is the South. I'd swear to it. Last time I looked, Virginia is below the Mason-Dixon line.

But we are in the midst of our fifth significant snow of the season. Since 4:00PM today we've gotten another inch of snow where I live, and it's only going to get worse through the night.

Roofs are caving in from the 12 million Olympic-sized-pool-fulls of snow that fell in this area last weekend. Grocery stores are sold out of bananas and dozens of other items. The Federal Government has been closed for days (although that can be a blessing because for once we don't have to hear about congressmen fighting like kids on a playground over the Health Care bill).

Schools have been closed since last Friday and are already closed for the rest of this week. I haven't gotten any mail delivered to my home since last week. And if I don't get my Netflix movies soon, I'm going to have to get a new hobby.

Of course, my cats think that I live strictly for them now because I'm home so much, and they are taking extreme advantage of that situation. Boy are they going to be in for a rude awakening when (if) I find a new job. Well, first we have to move.

At least I've fninished quite a bit of packing for my move. This time I'll make it a point to double-check my route—I gotta be sure I turn left when I leave D.C.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Another 8-12" On the Way

Schools are already closed for tomorrow. The Metro is still down - no trains, no buses. They are running some underground trains, but that only helps if you're only going one to three stops (like Crystal City to the Pentagon, for example). The airport finally reopened today, but flights out were limited.

The roads are still being cleared here. The piles of snow are huge! Many of the sidewalks are treacherous. I walked around Old Town, Alexandria, today for over two hours, so I can vouch for that. The problem is that the street plows push the snow right back up onto the street corners, blocking in pedestrians.

It is truly a gorgeous winter wonderland out there! It was nice to see the sun today, but that won't last long. My face is still red, which I can't explain. I took more pictures and just posted them to a new Picasa album.

Tomorrow around noon we are expecting the next winter snow storm, with accumulations of up to 12" by Wednesday morning.

This was yesterday's view from my apartment window, around dusk:

Sunday, February 07, 2010

4th Quarter Interception Scares Cats

Woo-hoo! The Saints are about to wrap up this Super Bowl. With less than 5 minutes left, Tracy Porter of New Orleans stepped in front of a Colts receiver and ran the ball all the way down field for a touchdown.

Baby was at my feet just before the exciting play, and Jelly was across the room resting peacefully in her bed. As soon as I saw the interception, I jumped up and whooped! I was jumping up and down clapping and hollering as Porter ran toward the end zone when Baby ran off. As soon as the play ended, Jelly got up, headed to the bedroom and went straight for the bed skirt, where she ducked under the bed.

It's Saints 31, Colts 17. I love Peyton Manning (he is incredibly precise), but I am rooting 110% for the Saints. They deserve a Super Bowl win.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Blizzard Photo Album Posted on Picasa

I went out at 11AM today to enjoy the deep snow. It is just beautiful out there. I tromped over to the Patent & Trademark Office, where the snow was up to 21" deep. There were a few steps that I took here and there where I had no idea just how deep it was until I found myself up to my thighs in snow!

When I came across my favorite ZipCar (named "Dalai Lama"), I decided to have some fun and clean it off.

Then I was headed to the back entrance of my building (I was going to go in through the loading dock area instead of ruining the marble floors and carpet of the lobby) when I spied a few snow shovels propped up against a trash bin. I grabbed one and spent the next hour digging out a pedestrian path through a 4' wall of snow that was originally created by snow plows after the last snow. It was a challenge.

It was either do that or go to the gym, and I wanted to be outside in the snow, so I dug until I was done (and totally wiped out)! At one point I wasn't sure I could finish, but I wasn't going to leave it partway done. I felt like I'd burned a thousand calories by the time I was done!

When I stepped inside the loading dock area I realized my pants were frozen in places, my hair was frozen with ice where it peeked out from under my snow hat, and every piece of clothing I was wearing was pretty much soaked through and icy.

Two hours after I first went outside, I got back to my apartment, put my wet clothes in the dryer, and took a hot shower. It was a weird sensation, feeling the hot water run over my frozen skin. I heated up some chili after that and read an email from my friend Rashmi up in Maryland where there was nearly 30 inches accumulated. Her car was completely buried in the parking lot and she couldn't open her front storm door due to the big drift up against it.

This is amazing. A church in D.C. essentially collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow. The newscaster said it looked like someone had sat on it.

Nearly 200,000 people are out of power. I really feel for those folks. I've got it good up here on a high floor where I never need to run my heat because my apartment is warmed by those around it.

Here's a link to some photos on Picasa. Enjoy!

D.C. Blizzard Feb. 2010

Woman Walks 3 Miles in Blizzard to Use Sandwich Coupon

I was severely disappointed to hear that the Postal Service has suspended mail delivery today—meaning no Netflix movie for me tonight—but there's plenty of entertainment on the all-day local TV news coverage of the Blizzard of 2010.

A local NBC news station has quite the eccentric reporter, Pat Collins. He's standing outside beside Connecticut Avenue, interviewing people who venture near him in the snow. Each person who comes along is asked to insert the yard stick into an untouched pile of snow and provide us with the measurement live on TV. Thus far, the snow has measured 17 to 21" deep there in downtown D.C.

One local woman that Pat interviewed, bundled up and wearing a backpack, walked to Giant so that she could use a coupon before it expired to get a free deli sandwich. Sure enough, she came back with the sandwich a little while later and allowed Pat to dig it out of her backpack to display for the camera.

Another woman, wearing sneakers and heading for her daily jog, was interviewed regarding the plastic kitchen garbage bags, ZipLoc bags and rubber bands that she'd used to fashion some snow boots to keep her feet dry during her run.

Last night, I was watching the news when a reporter who was streaming video live via Skype or Ustream came across Senator Tom Daschle stuck in the snow. The NBC photographer got out of the vehicle and helped push the senator's car out of the snow. Of course, the video hit YouTube shortly thereafter.

Then you've got your darker humor exposed in stories like Gun-Free Snowball Fights Planned, a headline suggesting you can leave your bullet-proof vest at home this time—referencing the incident of late 2009 when an angry off-duty cop brandished a weapon during a harmless D.C. snowball fight.

Apparently, there's about 30" of snow in Howard County, Maryland, where I own a townhouse. (Since my tenant can't seem to provide the rent to me on time, there's no doubt in my mind that she won't bother to shovel the sidewalk.)

I'll be outside soon enough to take more pictures.

Friday, February 05, 2010

First Snow Images

When I was a kid, after coming in from playing in the snow we'd strip off all our wet outer clothing in the garage, go inside the house, put fuzzy slippers on, and drink hot cocoa in front of the fireplace.

Today, when I came in from shooting some night photos of the heavy wet snow, I plopped down in my chair, put my laptop in my lap (for warmth) and immediately downloaded my pictures to the computer, compressed them, and posted them on my blog.

Gee, things have changed. But I did have fun out in the snow! Brrrrr. The wind was whipping up icy snow. That stuff stings when it hits you in the face.

Here are a few images, taken within a few blocks of where I live. It's a new camera, so I had to mess around with the settings to try to get pictures at the right exposure that aren't blurry. Still working on figuring that out. This camera has more settings than I know what to do with. But a handful of the 68 pictures that I shot during my brief excursion seemed to come out OK.

Bracing for the Snow

The snow has started falling here. It's a wet snow right now, and the weatherman predicts 18-30" for this area. On Wednesday I got a ZipCar to run errands. I really didn't need to buy a lot of food. It was more important than anything that I got milk. I can't go a day without milk.

All week long, any time you turn on the news here, they're talking about the big storm headed our way from Texas. It's going to be rain for the southern states, but a ton of snow beginning with Virginia and heading north from here.

When I went to Whole Foods Wednesday around 5pm, it was a bit more crowded than usual, but I got in and out quickly. Then today I saw this story on the news—last night around 7pm the Whole Foods near my home was so inundated with last-minute shoppers that they actually had to close for a half hour to process the folks in there! Then they had to let groups of people shop in shifts. Too funny. One woman was on her cell phone panicking because they wouldn't let her in right away.

Funny, last night I realized that I had everything I needed except for green vegies. I wasn't going to be able to go three whole days eating just corn with my lunch and dinner meals. So this morning before the snow started, I walked to Whole Foods to buy some frozen peas and broccoli. I also needed to check my mail box downtown to see if my stupid tenant had mailed the rent for February yet. Nope. Of course not. It's time to take legal action against her—something I dread because of the amount of time that it will consume.

A wet snow started to fall on my walk to town. It was 36 degrees out, and the flakes melted as soon as they touched my clothing, so it was more like being out in a light rain than snow. But I got my peas, came home, took a shower, washed my hair, put my sweats on, and am ready to spend about 2-3 days in this chair. Thank god we have a gym in my building. Plus, what a great time to have the Super Bowl. That will keep people occupied on Sunday.

Go Saints!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

When Will the Precipitation End?

Man, I can't believe it's snowing again. On December 20th we had a record snowfall of 20 inches, which delayed my trip home from NY for five hours. The snow from that winter storm stuck around for a while. Not long afterward, we suddenly had a day near 70 degrees.

Then, on January 20 we had severe rainstorms that delayed my flight home from Atlanta by five hours. On January 30th we got seven inches of snow. The sidewalks are still slick with thick, lumpy ice from that, and today while walking home from errands, I saw people still shoveling snow.

For tonight, the weatherman has predicted another 3-6 inches of snow. For Saturday and Sunday, an even "bigger" winter storm is coming. How big? Who knows? They haven't said yet. They just keep calling it bigger than the last.

So my plans for tomorrow are all cancelled. I had a car reserved for the whole day, but ZipCar was kind enough to allow me to cancel penalty-free due to the forecasted snow accumulation.

Even when I lived up in NY I never saw this much snow. Sheesh! On the bright side, living in an apartment building has its advantages, as does not having a car. . . .