I got some mail from Maryland529, the folks administering the College Trust Account we have set up for Finn, and had to do a double-take at the address, which looked very familiar at first glance. Turns out it’s the same building I used to work in at my last gig. Hopefully the mojo in that place has changed for the better. It was a cool old building—one of the only ones in that area to survive the Baltimore Fire (the original Alex. Brown & Sons building around the corner is still pockmarked and stained from the fire) and used as a storage facility for the banks in the neighborhood. There was a great old diner in the ground floor of the building that appeared in many Baltimore-based TV shows and movies which is now under new ownership. I hope they left all the 1940’s era fittings and furniture intact.
So, as I understand this, Art Modell gifted the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore with $3.5M over 10 years, and as part of that gift they put his name on the front of the building. He and his wife died several years later. Their wealthy children didn’t read the contract their parents signed. When they realized the deal wasn’t in perpetuity, they withheld the final disbursement and are now threatening the theater with fines if they don’t remove the family name within thirty days. During a pandemic.
TL;DR: Rich people continue to be assholes.
Finn’s school was cancelled on Friday due to a cyberattack on the school network:
The cyber attack has halted school for 115,000 students, with no timeline for when classes will resume. It came as the school system has shifted to online classes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
More troubling, there was a report issued the day before the attack that found multiple problems with the network’s security:
The network was not adequately secured, and sensitive personal information was not properly safeguarded, among other issues, the Office of Legislative Audits found.
Last year, Baltimore City’s computer system was locked down for months until they paid a ransom; we couldn’t pay our water bill all summer. All of Finn’s classwork is virtual, so I have no idea how Monday is going to go.
They knocked it down to put up a fucking Starbucks. At least Second Chance saved the neon.
The installation folks showed up on Friday morning and put in two counters in the bathroom that match the seat and ledge in the shower, and it looks fantastic so far. We chose white round undermount bowls for the sinks, and due to some scheduling mixups we didn’t have the faucets purchased, so we’re looking at those and they’ll come back out next week to drill the holes. Then it should be a not-so-simple matter of setting up the drains (I’m not looking forward to that bit of under-counter gymnastics) and hooking up the water supply, and we’ll be able to use everything in there.
Finley and I took a drive into Baltimore to hit the MICA Bookstore for some art supplies in the afternoon. She was making linoleum cuts in art class at at school and decided she wanted to make a T-shirt design of her own, so we needed to find clean linoleum to work with. I figured I’d look and see what kind of scratchboard supplies they still carried, as it’s been forever since I’ve picked up the pen and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I miss it, and whether I could get similar results from an iPad Pro. The store is in a building directly across the street from my first Baltimore apartment, and I told Finley that my roommate and I used to throw frisbee in the parking lot (and under passing buses on Mt. Royal Avenue) out in front of it.
We found her supplies quickly and then split up to check out the rest of the store. I found scratchboard in the back, manufactured by a different company (I used to use Essdee exclusively, this is made by Ampersand), picked up some new nibs, and then found Finn a pin in the student goods section. Then I took her on a quick tour of the neighborhood and showed her some of my old apartments.
At home we set up a craft work area at the dining room table and she worked on her design for the rest of the afternoon while I tested out the scratchboard. I wasn’t going to overthink things so I just transferred a picture of the truck and started working with it, and found that I really like it. It has a good feel—the last few sheets of Essdee I used had a harder surface, harder to work with, and didn’t make clean marks. This cut cleanly and felt good under the nib, and after a lot of initial hesitation (oh, I remember that feeling clearly) I started to work out what I was doing and lost myself in the image. We broke for dinner after a test print of her design, and when we were done I pulled out my silkscreen inks and we printed her design on a blank shirt, then ran off several Scout shirts for Brian. (Linda, I still owe you several shirts).
I sold my old compressor on Saturday afternoon, and made back 75% of the money I spent on the new one. While we were out for some supplies in the morning I picked up fittings, hose, and a water filter, and installed them while I was waiting for the guy to show up. It’s going to take some serious reorganization, but when I’m done I think the garage will be much easier to use.
I’ve been on a Stephen King binge for the last two weeks after watching It: Chapter Two, which involved reading the book over again and listening to a companion podcast that discusses the book by section. It was one of his books I enjoyed the most, and it’s been decades since I read it last. There’s so much I appreciate about his style of storytelling, and apart from the problematic section toward the end, the story is as good as I remember. Listening to the podcast was a fun way to dive deeper and think about stuff I hadn’t considered when I was reading it (the perfect introvert’s book club, really).
The movie was better than the reviews would have made us believe; I don’t know who was complaining about the length or the lack of scares, but I could have stood for another half hour (or honestly, if they’d blown this out to a 6- or 8-episode Netflix series, which would have captured all of the detail better). The casting was spot-on, except, I think, for James MacAvoy, who I like, but wasn’t Bill Denbrough in my mind.
I was catching up on house finances yesterday afternoon and realized we hadn’t been billed for our water in over 90 days, so I went to the Baltimore City Water site to check up on it, and this is what I found:
We live in Baltimore County, but for some strange reason our water is provided by Baltimore City. Om May 7, the city’s computer systems were attacked by hackers demanding $100,000 in bitcoin as ransom. The acting mayor at that time refused to pay, and so the systems have been slowly returning to operational since then. Make sure you choose strong passwords, friends.
Small victories can sometimes add up to a larger result, and that’s how I feel about the past weekend. I don’t feel like I got any one big thing done, but I made a lot of progress on several fronts. My FitBit tells me I walked 15,000 steps and 64 floors of stairs, and I sure do feel that in my legs today.
First, we had Christopher come in from New York on Friday night, which was great; he’s always fun to have staying with us and a great excuse to get out of the house and do interesting things. Unfortunately, Baltimore was boring this past weekend so we couldn’t take him to an awesome exhibit in D.C. or an art happening here in Baltimore, so we settled for K-Pop Disco Theater Barbecue on Friday night. Saturday was windy but sunny so I took advantage of that to pick up some supplies at Lowe’s to repair the garage lights and the greenhouse door.
Jen’s eye was hurting (she scratched her cornea on Friday) so she took a nap and Christopher, Finn and I drove to Second Chance to walk through the warehouse and poke around at the merchandise. I was there to look at doors to replace the one between the blue room and the new bathroom, and found a beautiful 12-panel French door in almost the right size as well as a full-light door in exactly the size. Jen was asleep so I punted until later. Then we hit Housewerks and poked through the odd merchandise there, stopping to admire a porcelain autopsy table parked outside.
That evening we drove into Baltimore for dinner at Peter’s, our old neighborhood haunt from my Canton days. Jen had read they suffered a fire last year but had reopened this spring, and we were lucky to get a parking spot around the corner and seated in half an hour (no mean feat for a popular restaurant with 18 tables). As usual, the service was excellent, the food was delicious, and we left sated and happy and went straight home to bed.
Sunday I continued working on the garage light (the light switch had gone bad), the greenhouse door (fitting a storm door handle to aluminum channel took some engineering) and then the greenhouse footer, while stopping to help Finn set up a jewelry stand out in front of the house. Mama and I were skeptical but she wound up selling two necklaces for $8. I think she’s on to something.