eruthros: Drew Barrymore wearing just a tie and smiling at the camera (DB promo pic tie)
So this morning I got down to the train station fifteen minutes early, as it is not only a Monday (weekly pass buyers!) but the first workday of the month (monthly pass buyers!). I had not, however, reckoned on the new station agent, who is still new enough that every time I see her I think "... wait, what, where's Cranky Old Dude?" And so there was a line to the back of the station when I got there, and I cut it right close -- all the ten-minute-early folks arrived at once, and the line soon snaked around the tiny box of a station building and out the door. And I wasn't panicked; I carry spare tickets in my wallet in case of emergencies, so I could have made the train if I really wanted to, and I can catch the next train and be only five minutes late, so I remained blithely tra-la and not tense as those around me built up huge storms of stress. And then the train bell rang, and it started pulling into the station, and I was three people back from the counter, but everyone in front of me bolted because they were afraid of missing the train and were apparently all idiots. And I needed to pay with a credit card, but it takes people a long time to get up the train stairs, so I hastily purchased my weekly pass and ran out the door with my pass in my hand and my bag still open, and up the stairs and onto the train and I even got a seat. So that is my Public Transit Story for the day. Expect more on Wednesday night or Thursday, when I will return from Stony Brook having experienced, for the first time, the Long Island Rail Road.

Also, [ profile] friede needs to come back to Philadelphia stat. I mean, she's fun to talk to and all that, but also? She took our good weather with her! It is storming outside right now, and it might snow tomorrow night. SNOW. There is something wrong with the universe.
eruthros: llamas! (llamas)
Query: what happens when a babelfish eats an ear worm?

I had "Something's Coming" (from West Side Story, which I haven't seen since I was about twelve, so this is totally unfair) stuck in my head, and when [ profile] m_shell and I started joking about babelfish and ear worms, I promptly started attempting it in Spanish, though I can't really decide what to use for "cannonballing."


Today I was nearly run over in a crosswalk by a left-turner in a 1970s black muscle car, who a) didn't have the right of way b) was making an illegal left turn anyway and c) speeded up instead of slowing down. In process of hustling out of his way to avoid getting hit by a fast-moving vehicle, I tripped on the curb and fell. At which point the left-turning bastard paused (then he paused) and started honking his horn, pointing, and laughing. As did his passengers. So. Bitter. Wah. Now my thumb and shoulder hurt from being jammed, and of course I thumped my knee but good.


Tomorrow I am making these cupcakes for a party. Except only the lemon curd -- much as I would love to do the lime and grapefruit, Whole Foods lacked organic lime and was charging a ridiculous $3 per grapefruit. Oy.
eruthros: Norrington and Governor Swann from PotC, captioned "courtly man-love" (PotC - Norrington Swann courtly man-love)
These are the rules of the universe (supplemental; to be filed after "string theory" but before "United States Highway Code"):

1. Do not go to the post office the day after a postage price increase and except to leave quickly, for lo, the automatic stamp machines will sell only the old value of stamps, and be out of two cent increasers, and the line shall be out the door.

2. Do not, upon leaving the post office, go to Trader Joe's around the hour of five and expect to do a quick shopping trip, for the store shall be full of manic post-work shoppers, and the debit machines shall be broken, and the lines shall be twenty people long, and some individuals will make it to the front of the line without hearing the once-a-minute announcements, and throw tantrums about being unable to use their debit cards, and it shall be tedious.

2a. Do not go to Trader Joe's when you are hungry, even if you are only hungry because the hour-and-a-half-long post office wait mucked up your schedule, for you shall find yourself spending $118 on groceries and going "oooh! tangerine juice!" and being tempted by such foul things as frozen naan.

3. If you ever disobey rule 2a, do not then attempt to walk home with $118 worth of groceries, for they will be Heavy and Burdensome, and cause a three blocks' walk to be grueling like unto a hike in the Yosemite backcountry.

Yea, these are the rules of the universe.

And I broke each and every one of them today! Really, when I walked into the post office and discovered a line of forty cranky people, I should have immediately given up on Monday and gone home to bed. But no, I stuck it out, and I waited in the line, and I tried not to be irritated at the assholish post office guy (and if you know me, you know I don't describe just any old crap customer service experience that way) (actually, can I mention, btw, that said dude had no priority mail stamps at the new rate and got huffy at me for daring to request them? and tried to tell me that it was my problem and it couldn't be done?). And then I finally got my package off, and I was Cranky because I would have just purchased the damn stamps from the machine, had the machine been taking anything other than coins and providing anything more complicated than thirty-seven cent stamps. Blargh.
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
I leapt out of bed this morning to check the news, and saw... yes, two of the most-feared words of the city dweller:

Transit. Strike.

Yep, that's right. Philadelphia, a city already hemorrhaging money, gets to have its second transit strike since 1998. And the last one lasted forty days, so we don't anticipate swift resolution. No buses, no subway, no trolleys. The train is still running (different union), but crowded and behind-schedule and it only serves a minuscule number of commuters.

And, of course, the talk about it is all a mess. There's a lot of union-bashing, a lot of derogatory personal comments, and a lot of accusations. Completely understandable, since 1/3 of Philadelphia households have no cars. But it's still worrying to hear people say "What're the SEPTA drivers complaining about? 5% of their health care? That's nothing! I pay for health care so they should have to, too! Welcome to the 21st century, punks!" I mean, should this really be a thing we accept? Should we hate people who don't pay into their own premiums?

And, of course, the management claims the workers are making ridiculous claims, and the workers claim the management is overpaid, and both of those things are probably technically true, given that SEPTA's been running a deficit for seven years. But it seems to me that there's a bigger problem -- SEPTA's a public service. Second most expensive public transit fares in the nation and still running a deficit and dirty stations and trains that run once an hour? There's a problem there above and beyond the union (which, fyi, is either 13th or the 17th in terms of pay, so again, second most expensive fares and where is that money going?). I mean. It's a mess in so many ways that blaming the union by itself hardly seems fair. Sure, they're picketing in part to protect people from being fired for talking on their cell phones while driving (arrrgh!), but let's blame the state legislature (no dedicated funding!) and the organizers (routes that make no sense!) and the city (where to start?) as well.

All this speculating is largely to distract me from the unlovely fact that I have no driver's license and suddenly can't get to my suburban classes and can't take the trolley back from Trader's Joes and get to walk an extra mile or so to shop at Whole Foods and can't get to the co-op at all. Whee?
eruthros: Li Ann from Once a Thief with two guns, text "Li Ann" (OaT - Li Ann  red)
I decided to take the early train this morning. (The early train gives me time to buy juice or go to the post office or, in this case, go to the Fair Food farmstand; the late train gets me to work exactly on time.) I got on the train... and saw all these people on cellphones looking distressed. "Hmmm," I thought, as the out-of-the-ordinary on public transit is never good. And so I asked the woman next to me if there was something going on.

Turns out that there's some problem or delay, and I'm going "good thing I took the early train," and then the conductor comes through and tells us that it's not just a delay. No; there's "police activity" at Market East, no trains are entering center city, and if we want to get downtown we'd better get off at North Broad and find the Broad Street Subway. (Note for non-Philadelphians: North Broad is in North Philadelphia. The station's surrounded by burnt-out factories. It is not exactly a place you want to be.)

So basically everyone who wants to get to work on time gets off the train and heads off to walk the few blocks to Broad and Lehigh, where... the subway station is so crowded that people can't even get down the stairs. I was contemplating how long it would take to clear out that many people, when I saw a bus coming down Broad, and immediately thought "wait! the only bus that comes down Broad here is the C! and that goes to City Hall!" This meant attempting to struggle backward against the current of traffic (and even saying "excuse me" and getting pushy, people wouldn't step to the side, since they were so focused on getting on the subway). I got to the bus stop with about twenty other people who were not blindly following directions, and we piled onto the bus. I barely made it on, and ended up in front of the yellow line. The bus driver got into the left lane and shot down Broad; there was no way anyone else would fit, so why get their hopes up?

Aaaaand to City Hall, to Reading Terminal on my way to the trolley, past Market East (the whole building was closed off by police tape!), down to the trolley, off at 19th and Market, down to work, and me barely five minutes late.

Of course, I didn't get to go to the Fair Food farmstand, but what can you do?

ETA: Turns out that the police were panicked by the bomb threat to NYC, and a conductor saw someone "in military fatigues who had something bulky in his backpack." The police met the train at Market East, where the bomb dogs showed "special interest in the package." So they arrested him, evacuated the station and the 11th street Market-Frankford station, and waited... apparently two hours for the bomb squad. Who, after careful inspection, decided that the package was a propane tank. Le sigh.


May. 25th, 2005 01:09 pm
eruthros: blurry lilac shot, text "how do they rise?" (TP lilacs 25 May)
Tonight we have to go pick up the CSA and see Girlyman at the World Cafe. In a perfect world, these two things would fit together perfectly; from where I'm sitting, though, it looks like they're going to be two separate trips.

On the other hand, the CSA will have rhubarb this week, and we have organic concentrated orange juice, which means I can make the rhubarb pie I love. Basically no added sugar, just the juice, and it comes out thick and pink and so tart you practically have to eat it with ice cream, unless you're having it for breakfast. Mmmmmm.

We still haven't eaten all the greens from last week, either. We have a whole bag of bitter greens left, despite best efforts AND the baking of a quiche. (As we get more interesting food, my lj gets foodier.)

Also, we have here my contribution to the Glorious 25th of May iconage. I can read the text on [ profile] m_shell's laptop, but it may not be as readable on macs -- let me know so I can fiddle. (If you want it, you can take it, but please credit.)

The icon is currently reminding me that by the first weekend of June I'll be reading Thud. Wheeeeee!
eruthros: llamas! (llamas)
So [ profile] fiatlouis has been visiting. I obviously went "um, what do you take a hydrogeologist to see?" because we walked down Kelly past the rockcuts to the waterworks museum, and later went to the Delaware Water Gap so's he could walk part of the Appalachian trail. Which is not to say we didn't do the standard touristy things as well -- day trip to NYC! Old City! South Street! The usual.

We went to see the Liberty Bell, and it's really a poor presentation, because the thirty second snippet of MLK Jr's speech in the movie you see right before turning the corner to see the actual bell -- "When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, 'Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.'" -- gave us both the shivers, after which said bell is a letdown. [ profile] m_shell suggests that this is intentional, and meant to make us feel that the bell is only a metyfor, and all that, but it's poor presentation either way. Put the bell post-most of the exhibit and pre-that movie, and we'll get the metyfor AND feel like seeing the bell is cool.

We also got to see the Before Victoria exhibit at the NY library, which was way fun. If I'd thought of it, I would have purchased the companion volume for [ profile] friede, because the exhibit kicked of the ass, and I'm sorry she can't see it. A drawing by Victoria as a child! Mrs Jordan as Hipolyta! Mary Wollstonecraft's letter to Catharine Macaulay Graham! Eeeee! *is big dork*

Also they had a copy of the book with my favorite title EVER: Poems on Conchology and Botany by Sarah Hoare. I've never seen a real copy! They didn't include any sample stanzas (a shame, and the only flaw in the exhibit, really), but I present two here:
Helix! may suit thy taste and form,
And I like thee would shun the storm
Of life, and live alone;
Like hermit in a safe retreat,
From scenes where false ones coldly greet,
And uncongenial tempers meet,
Unknowing and unknown.

Thou Strombus! hast no fine array,
No physiognomical display,
To seize upon the soul;
Sensations rise at sight of thee,
Far other than the ecstasy,
That beauty's winning sovereignty,
Inspires from pole to pole.
Don't those rock? Aren't they, like, fabulous as examples of scientific works of the early nineteenth century? Also they would be good mnemonics, if I could ever remember them. (Strombus tends to stick in my head due to the "physiognomical display," though.)

I obviously need a big dork icon, but I don't have one, so for now llamas will have to do.

ETA: lj spellcheck wants me to replace "conchology" with "gynecology," which somehow seems hilarious.
eruthros: Delenn building the crystal machine in season 1  of B5, captioned "foreshadowing" (B5 - Delenn incredible foreshadowing)
It is now February, thank heavens. In that spirit, I shall post something Fun and Upbeat and other Capital Letterified Things As Well.

So. In the spirit of February yet to come, which will hopefully be a much better month than January, I present Things I Like About Philadelphia.

Reading Terminal Market. So much hustle! So much bustle! So many fine prepared foodstuffs and custom ice-cream and unpasteurized root beer and ravioli with weird things in!
- Warm pretzels from Fisher's. Fisher's is the Amish pretzel stand, and they spin the pretzels right there with that special practiced flip, and you can sit on bar stools and eat your warm disgusting-in-concept-but-oh-so-nummy-in-practice salted pretzel painted with melted butter and watch the production.
- The Amish juice stand, home of many fine juices and also of half-gallon jugs of heavy cream. Half. Gallon. Word.

My complete and utter inability to get out of or into Suburban Station, which is frustrating if I'm in a hurry, but really hilarious on reflection. See, it's perpetually under construction, so you come up out of the train tunnels and (if there aren't any commuters to follow) look for a door. And you don't see one. And you think "well, I want to go north, but I don't see a door there -- hey, there's a sign for JFK and 16th! That's sort of the direction I want to go!" and you follow signage but it turns out the first set of stairs is in fact closed on alternate Tuesdays and also after the hour of 10 pm, and then you continue on through endless shops looking for another stairwell, but it's closed because of snow, and then you continue on and finally, finally find an open stairwell -- four blocks in the wrong direction. Getting in is, as you can imagine, quite interesting as well, and never works the same way twice. Fairly often I end up going in the front door of hotels and then ducking through what appear to be back stairwells for the laundry service and then around corners and then suddenly hey! there's a train!

Longwood Gardens. Oh, Italian Water Garden, how do I love thy frogish sculpture. Fountains! And hills! And a tower like Rapunzel's! And great stretches of crocuses! And a winter show with giant Christmas trees! So lovely.

The Kelly Drive multi-use path between here and downtown. It runs along the Schuylkill River, and is blessedly free of cross-traffic. And is really, really pretty, and a lovely five mile walk, all rambly and full of picnic benches and gazebos and random sculpture and boathouse row.
- The Philadelphia Museum of Art, which graces the end of the Kelly Drive path, and is one of very few museums left in the country to still do a pay-what-you-want day every week. Also, it is lovely and yellowish-gold and perches on top of a hill and dominates the landscape, as a good museum should. Also it, you know, has art. And a cloister. Whee! If I were in school right now, I'd be studying in that indoor cloister with fountain all the friggin' time, man.
- The Fairmount Water Works, at the foot of the Museum of Art. The museum's actually designed to match the water works, and they are tres gorgeous, and also with an artificial waterfall which was the largest of its kind at the time. Many pictures are taken by all.

Art. Really. Many Philadelphians don't seem to appreciate it, but I do -- there's public art all over the place here. Turn a corner, any corner, and discover random statuary! Or a mural!
- The Commie Propaganda-Style multi-plaza art along Kelly Drive. It has some technical name, but really mine's better. Because it's all "the farmer: they toiled for us." With big heads and big hands and sometimes sickles. Yes.
- The random house in the ghetto with a giant painting of Charlie Parker and the legend "Charlie Parker Appreciate Society."
- Fairies on sticks in the Kelly Drive area. The actual sculpture of the fairies is sixty feet in the air, supported by very tall columns.
- Goethe! Because apparently Goethe was very important to the city of Philadelphia. Yes. He's in the arboretum, posed with book in one of those positions you only get with sculpture (there's a handy tree stump to support his coat). Hee.
- Shiny murals. They do whole sides of houses as mosaics with mirrors as one of the components. Mmmm, sparkly.
- The buffalo in the fountain in the Eakins Oval.
- William Penn standing on top of City Hall, looking down on the incredibly bad traffic in the circle around City Hall. Especially because I just learned that the original architects wanted him on top of the dome, and everyone agreed, and they made the statue, and only later realized that they had no way to get it up there once the dome was built, so they put it in the basement until someone invented a large enough crane. Poor William Penn.

Commuter trains with actual conductors! They punch tickets and shout out stops and wear funny hats.

Turning a corner, any corner, and discovering a church with interesting architecture. (Notice I said interesting. Some of them are lovely, especially the gothic-style ones like Saint Bridgett's, but some of them are... whoa. Who knew you could fit so much gingerbread on the slate tiles on the roof?)

The Free Library of Philadelphia. Especially that it was so early on the free-library trend that it's in the name, so every understands it's not a Gentleman's Library. It have a lovely large building with much random carving and big front steps. And many books, which is the best part.
- The faded signs in the basement of the Free Library main building that have the radiation symbol on them and say "bomb shelter." Snerk.
- The Friends of the Free Library bookstore, Bookcorner, one of the most fabulous library bookstores I ever did see. Open daily. And big. And many, many books. And sales. And old, old books. That's where we got our fabulous psychological treatise on the mental illness "lesbianism," dated 1950.

The view when you turn the corner from Arch onto Benjamin Franklin Parkway -- all the way up the Parkway to the museum, over several fountains along the way.

And that's all I've got room for tonight, folks. So thanks, and I'll see you tomorrow! May your Februarys be infinitely better than your Januarys.
eruthros: X-Files: Mulder in glasses, text "sexier in glasses" (XF - Mulder sexier in glasses)
Geese that attacked me: one. Fortunately, he/she was distracted by a bicyclist a moment later and waddled off after him, all "how dare you enter my territory at speed!" Thank heavens for geese with the short-term memory of goldfish. (He/she did not quite bite the bicyclist's leg, but from his reaction you'd think he/she did.)

Creepy older men who hit on me: two. One of the "gee, you're sure pretty!" variety, which almost makes you want to say "aww shucks" in response. But instead you say kthxbye. And the other of the "heh, heh, want to go to a club with me? we could dance" variety, which makes you want to say "you're an asshole, aren't you?" But instead you say "no thanks bye."

Miles walked: about seven? Here to downtown, via many errandy places and also Kelly drive.

Miles walked with blisters: about four? Just reward, really. I was just thinking "hey, I've skipped the almost mandatory blisters you get with any new pair of tevas." Ha! I have blisters of doom. In weird places. Not the normal new-tevas blister places. *inspects feet warily*

Number of blisters: four. Two per foot. Ball of the foot and side of the pinky toe. Owwwwww. Blisters the size of the moon. Possibly larger than the moon. (Also, randomly: is pinky toe a regionalism? Or is it more common than I think?)

Errands completed: six. Bus tokens, cash, rolls of quarters, shopping for self at Trader Joe's, shopping for an event of [ profile] m_shell's tomorrow at Trader Joes (and I only went four dollars over the student government group's budget for the number of rsvps. Despite buying many moderately healthful snack things.), and a rushed trip to Whole Foods to pick up a gallon of cider, because, see, we bought a gallon this weekend that didn't get bagged for us.

Miles walked with a gallon of juice, two liters of fizzy water, a half gallon of milk, a half gallon of chicken broth, two pounds of hummus, two pounds of baby carrots, and many other heavy foods in my backpack: only one. But it felt like a lot.

Bags the checker filled with my stuff: four.

Bags I filled with my stuff: two, and one of them my backpack.

Buses taken: zero. I was going to walk downtown and bus back, but then [ profile] m_shell came to pick me up instead, yay! Because I was very very blistery by that point and really not looking forward to standing up on the bus.

Kinds of cheese eaten for dinner: only one. But it was a goat cheese on organic whole-wheat sourdough. With a nice organic Braeburn, very crisp. And cocoa almonds. Because I challenge anyone to make it through Trader Joe's without buying unnecessary snack foods. Mmmmm, cocoa almonds. Mmmm, chocolate covered espresso beans. Mmmmm.
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
I had one of those mornings that makes you feel vaguely as though you should buy a lottery ticket on the way home.

I seem to have turned off the loud alarm in my sleep, see, and so I woke up thirty-five minutes late. (Admittedly, this probably only means I got up twenty-some minutes late, as I'm horrible at getting out of bed in the morning.) And I was panicked and worried I'd miss my bus and generally going "ahhh."

And yet somehow... it worked out. I got out of the house on time and even managed to have breakfast, shower, wash my hair, and find clothes that match (one of the above usually gets skipped if I'm running late). I even had time to check the weather online, skim my friends page, and read [ profile] copperbadge's new short. Score!

Then I got to the bus stop right on time, only to have the driver on a different bus route stick his head out the door and inform us that all the buses that came down the expressway were delayed 10-15 minutes. Score! See, I was half-asleep and only had two dollars, and that's enough for lunch, but Philadelphia is much less of a cashless economy than SC or the Bay Area, so I don't feel comfortable without at least a little cash. So I had time to dart to the ATM, get some cash, and stop at the cafe for a blended mocha to wake me up AND combat the heat. And also I sorta forgot to drink anything with breakfast. And I darted back to the bus stop ... and only had to wait a minute for my bus. Score!

The bus driver told me that that his was probably the last bus to come on the route for the next two hours -- a gauge broke in the Queen Lane Reservoir, and a tremendously wet mudslide was now blocking all but one lane of traffic on the Expressway. (They still haven't cleaned it up --it's so wet it's making life very hard for them.) He'd just barely made it out of the gridlock, so he was a mere 10 minutes late, and the buses behind him would probably be delayed an hour. So I was damn glad I made it onto that bus despite waking up so late. Score!

And then I got off the bus right next to a pair of really mellow bushbunnies chomping on the grass underneath a bush. Absolutely adorable, of course, since bushbunnies are barely a handspan across, with really active ears. Bushbunnies make any day better. *g*

And just as I got to the office, I remembered that my boss AND my boss's boss are in Europe for a conference ... for the rest of the week and next week. Score!

So all in all, I'm in remarkably good mood for a day that started with thirty seconds of total panic. Everything just seemed to work out. Aren't days like that wonderful?


eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)

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