Freeman Hrabowski Speaking at UMBC’s Undergraduate Graduation at the Baltimore Arena

image

Thursday was UMBC’s graduation, and rather than wait in traffic to find a parking spot with increasingly grumpyproud parents, I stuffed my tam in my bag and rode my bike the 20 minutes down the hill, locked up precariously to a fence right outside the side door to the arena because that’s what the security guard told me to do, and headed inside to eat all the buffet lunches with my fellow faculty members. A. brought my sorcerer robes with her on the Circulator, and by the time she figured out how to get into the place, she was one angry pregnant lady with her eye on the food tables–she’s eating for two, so don’t fuck with her. Continue reading

Cops and Brodudes at E. Cross & Light St.

Cops and Brodudes at E. Cross & Light St.Monday was Opening Day at Orioles Park at Camden Yards, and I was not the only person trying to pass through downtown last evening around 6pm. All was quiet on Maryland and then Cathedral, but oh, near Pratt Street things started getting ugly. Everybody’s in a hurry, of course, but there’s not rushing a stadium full of drunken pedestrians high on a first big win over the Red Sox (we’re undefeated!). I did things I never do to get myself over to Federal Hill: I rode on the sidewalk to avoid the crush of cars right before Pratt; I split the lanes as we waited to cross Conway; and I used my Outside Voice to encourage pedestrians to obey their lights, too. Continue reading

Nearly-Empty Chips and Dips Display at the Safeway at 25th & Charles

Nearly-Empty Chips and Dips Display at the Safeway at 25th & CharlesSunday’s ride was another in unseasonably warm weather (or maybe the cold has been unseasonable? I have no idea if seasonality still has meaning anymore), this time down to the Inner Harbor to meet N. for lunch before our trip to the Wedding Experience, Day 2. There were dresses and cake samples and lots of stares–which one’s the bride? (neither!)–and then it was time to walk back, her to her car, and me to my bike to meet again at the grocery. Walk+car was about equal to biking, but I’ll call myself the winner, because hey, I’m the one writing this. Anyway, a trip to the grocery store on Super Bowl Sunday is an excellent reminder of how many of us are doing the same thing at the same time, even if we’re not doing it together. Continue reading

Kids Collecting Autographs at Orioles FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center

Getting Autographs at Orioles FanFest at the Baltimore Convention CenterIt was downright warm out on Saturday, and after wasting half of it in bed with books and cats there was a flurry of activity as I got myself together to jump on the bike and head down the hill to see what was happening in our fair city. Oh, it was good to be on the Surly again! I am so much more myself when I get to pedal about town, and this ride was just what I needed. I took Maryland down and up and down and up and down again to the Convention Center, which was bustling with activity for middle class folks of various stripes: baseball fans, people into planning expensive weddings, and dance/cheer team enthusiasts. I had a ticket to precisely zero of these events, but hey, I’m part of The Public, and I’ve got the skin of somebody our society’s decided to trust, so I just walked in and around to see what folks were doing. Continue reading

Smoothie Bicycle at the Baltimore Convention Center

image

I finished up a week of big projects on Thursday afternoon, leaving me the rest of the day to ride my bike around. I packed everything I figured I’d need through the evening and headed down the hill to the convention center to check out Natural Products Expo East, the largest showcase of natural products on the east coast (Expo West, in Anaheim, is even bigger). I locked up the bike to the bike rack shaped like a bike and headed to the press room where I squatted until they gave me a press pass. And then the expo. When they say “the largest” they mean really flipping huge. It was a giant smorgasboard of samples of things I didn’t know I wanted–potato chips made out of white beans, noodles made out of water and plant cellulose (“Zero points on Weight Watchers!), organic non-GMO gluten-free lube (ok, I made that up), and the list goes on and on and on. Oh, and there was this bicycle that can make smoothies while you pedal–no thanks, I’d rather go somewhere on my wheels. I was there for three hours and maybe saw a tenth of the place. I left with a bike bag filled with all kinds of natural goodies and headed back up the hill, a stop at MICA. For Ignite Baltimore, and then home, glad for a day of peeking behind a curtain I didn’t know existed.

Dancers at Federal & Calvert

image

I spent this most delightful first fall Sunday working on a big project due on Monday and thinking about the exceedingly lovely weekend I had. Oh, and how much I needed a bike ride. So I finished up a draft of the thing in front of the Ravens game, and then it was time to get on the bike for a ride. I headed down the hill to see if I could luck into an Akimbo performance before going somewhere south and east. A volunteer handed me a map, and I snaked my way around to the park at Federal and Calvert to catch the Effervescent Dance Collective. Their performance was delayed by a sea shanty singing quartet that is probably funny if we’re all friends and we’ve had a few (in which case I have no doubt they are amazing), and I wondered about the location of the dancing. And then they danced, and I couldn’t stop smiling, thinking about how clever they were, how free and happy they helped us feel–like when Lily matched her breath to the beat of being pulled up from the water, a sly look–oh, it was so good. I thanked them after–“You just made me so happy inside, thank you”–and then it was back on the bike. I passed a tent on the sidewalk across from the city fueling station on Fallsway. I wondered about why the tent owner’s reclaiming of public space will undoubtedly be criminalized, the home torn down, while the dancers will make me feel just so happy inside. Are we worried the tent is privatising our public space? But wouldn’t we want public space to be used by those with the need for it–I want that in case I need it at some point. Or have we gone so far with our love of private property that we can’t imagine a use that wouldn’t in some way declare ownership? I thought about those and other things on the rest of my ride, over to The Shops at Canton Crossing (it’s still just a Target), up through Brewer’s Hill and down through Highlandtown, up and over and up and over through so many neighborhoods with so many people loving this cooler still-sunny weather. Ravens win!

Photographer Waiting at a Hole in the Fence at Light & Lee

Photographer at a Hole in the Fence at Light & LeeFriday’s ride took me quick-like-a-bunny-rabbit to as east on Fleet Street as I could go for a doctor’s appointment that took too long and then over to the Inner Harbor to see what the Grand Prix was doing so as to add evidence to my complaintapillaring about the thing and then around to Federal Hill for a massage–rough life, I know. Following the googleymap directions to the doc’s I rode past the building I saw on Thursday, and it looked different this time, when it was on the main drag heading south from when it was stumbled upon as I was coming out of being lost. Continue reading

Antlers For Sale at the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show at the Convention Center

Antlers For Sale at the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show at the Convention CenterThe last time I hung out at the Baltimore Convention Center I was an outsider, and I left with a massive sense of appreciation for this very small subculture that at its best seems built out of love and goodness. I thought I might be a bit less of an outsider at today’s convention; my mom’s an antiques dealer, and I have a visceral memory of sitting on the floor behind the folding tables at the antiques shows out at the Idaho State Fairgrounds. After a long morning reading this and that, I thought I’d test out my theory with a ride down to the harbor to check out opening day of the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show. Continue reading

Standing Room Only Crowd at BronyCon at the Baltimare Convention Center

Standing Room Only Crowds at BronyCon at the Baltimare Convention CenterFriday’s bike ride took me first up to the zoo where I got to enter through the Member’s Only line, instead of with all the riff raff–what a relief. Actually, what membership really means to me is that I can go stare at the prairie dogs for as long as I want, which yesterday was quite awhile. And then it was time for a quick stop home before racing down to the Convention Center to check out BronyCon. If you don’t know what a Brony is, google it, and then remind yourself that just like anything you read, what’s written about Bronies is full of assumptions and biases and all that jazz. Continue reading

Crowds Gathered for Bike Party at Pearlstone Park at Preston & Cathedral

Crowds Gathered for Bike PArty at Pearlstone Park at Preston & CathedralFriday’s evening ride took me down the hill and to the right to Pearlstone Park, a place I’d been a bunch of times but didn’t know it had a name, to meet up with 1,000 other bicyclists for another edition of Bike Party. I hadn’t been planning to go, but when R. asked if I wanted to go, I couldn’t think of a reason not to–always an excellent situation for saying YES. This Bike Party was going to be a little different–the police wanted to be more involved. I guess there are some concerns about 1,000+ cyclists taking a good 30 minutes to get through intersections, holding up traffic and, well, I can’t think of any other reason the police would want to be involved, right? Continue reading