Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sushi! Sushi! Sushi!

I finally found a good restaurant in Columbia! Sushi King in the Dobbin Center. I was never a fan of Sono - having once spent a night in the bathroom after dining there - so I'd given up on sushi in Columbia. Niko Japanese restaurant in the Normandy Center (route 40 - Ellicott City) is ok, but pales in comparison to my Bethesda favorite, Tako Grill. However Baltimore magazine pointed me to Sushi King (never would've looked for eats next to the MVA Express, but such is the nature of suburbia), and we finally went for dinner.

Loved the food, and the atmosphere, but the service was a bit slackin' and the high proportion of little kids out past their bedtime was somewhat unnerving. One parent was seen bargaining with her tyke in an attempt to convince him that he should "do the right thing" and come out from under the table. I seem to recall spankings being a more effective deterrent to crawling around the floors of public places, but what do I know...?

The real, live plants are a nice touch, though I could've used some scissors to gently prune back the overzealous pothos that was crowding me throughout dinner. I also have never had such a hard time keeping my water glass full in a restaurant. Same for the hot tea; the server didn't ask to fill it up until we were paying the check, despite the fact that I set the glass on the outer edge of the table as a hint (hello? empty! please refill, or remove). Paying the check took longer than getting the food, meanwhile an increasingly angry crowd was building up in the tiny reception area behind me. Guess they were short-staffed?

Since this is a blog centered around narcissistic b!tching and moaning, I figure I can get away with one more gripe (keep in mind this *is* a positive review). When I order the shrimp tempura appetizer I want shrimp least four pieces of shrimp tempura. What I got were two shrimp, and a pile of vegetable tempura (there's a reason I did not order the vegetable tempura, and it has everything to do with why I ordered the shrimp tempura). Still, it was tasty, and I suppose there are far worse things in life (bargaining with a toddler comes to mind) than eating some unexpected vegetables.

So if you love sushi, but you hate going to the MVA, you might have missed this one. Do yourself a favor and go there (but try to get seated before 6pm, or it could be a lonnnnnng wait).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

They are good .... for now

It's been awhile since my last post, as I've been cranky and busy. This leaves little time for diatribes on what infuriates me in Columbia. Additionally, being busy for me means I don't get to spend much time in Columbia interacting with the things that plague me, and this town. This is both good and bad, on one side I don't have to deal with the silliness of the Kinkos that can't figure out how to make cards, the Zombieness of Creig, or even the extreme lack of decent food and shopping in the area. That would be the good. On the other side it means I don't get to be creative and poke fun at all the things that make me cranky. So, since I have a few minutes this evening, and there are a number of new places to attack, I'm gonna poke fun at Columbia...again.

The new Columbia Gateway Overlook shopping center is definitely the easiest new thing at which to sling mud. This mega shopping center brings all the things that should have been here 10 years ago. It includes such simple things as a Trader Joes, a Costco, a Houlihans, an On the Border, some crappy (possibly French) cafe thing that is out of place, a Lowes (maybe now HomeDepot will stop sucking), something called 5 Below (seems like the dollar store + 4), and a right wingding Christian book store (also out of place). The funniest thing about it is I can't believe it took so long for these retailers to realize that there is no competition in Columbia.

Here are some simple examples of no competition in Columbia

Mexican food: Don Pablos, the most awful Mexican food possible. Taco bell and this place go round for round on who can give you the most gas. (Mar y Tiera in King's Contrivance was good for about three weeks, before even these hard-working restaurateurs realized where they were and stopped trying.)

American Food: TGI Fridays, and some assorted other low-brow eateries. The last time some thing came out that kitchen sizzling, Nixon was president.

Home Improvement: HomeDepot (HomeDespot), if you find an employee at this location that has actually built something, explain to them that Lowes is now open and they should be with their own kind.

Electronics and other such stuff: Best Buy and CompUseless, where the F*ck is my Fry's or Circuit City.

Groceries: Safeway and Giant, they are in every village center and they all blow. I challenge you to find 2% low-fat organic yogurt at these stores.

Hopefully, now that Trader Joes, On the Border, Houlihans, Costco, and Lowes are on the scene things will begin to suck less. Additionally, I hope someone who owns a Fry's, Circuit City, Rio Grande, Ruth Chris, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, or just about anything that doesn't suck reads my blog. If you do please come to Columbia, we have people and money, and no good stuff, I swear.

But I digress, the real point of this entry was to discuss the fact that "On the Border", "Houlihans", and Trader Joes are now open. For the next two or three weeks all these stores will be in top form. The reason for this, is that the best of the best waitresses, chefs, and bag boys/girls from all the other locations are on site training the real staff. So quickly, while it's good, get the waitress from Arkansas ( not kidding ) at On the Border to make your guacamole in front of you, before the guy from Kinkos who can't work the copier tries to do it.

Hopefully I'm wrong about this possibility of a bleak future. Hopefully, this is the turning over of a new leaf in Columbia. But I won't be holding my breath.

Before I close out this entry tonight, I want to state one more thing. For all those old timers in Columbia that are Cranky about Columbia OverLook and like to call it Box Store Hill and complain about how it looks, and about big stores killing local merchants, I have one thing to say: "Go die in a fire". The local merchants left years ago, there is no good food, and if it wasn't for the Internet I wouldn't have had anywhere to spend my money for the past 3 years. Oh that reminds me, Comcast eat a bag, I've got FIOS now.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Creig Northrop is a Zombie

If you watch TV, drive, or even walk in Columbia you know who Creig Northrop is. Additionally you know all about the Northrop Team and wonders of his Real Estate Empire. Unfortunately this guy is scary looking, and his mug is on every one of the Long and Foster "For Sale" signs. This guy is so scary that the runner up in Columbia is a guy named Pat Hiban, who isn't scary looking but his name is only a few characters short of Hymen. High School must of been a bitch for that guy. But I digress, every time I see a picture of good ole Creig (why can't you spell is the easy way), I think of an old movie. That old movie is Night of the Living Dead, cause this guy looks like a zombie.

Just in case you don't know Creig, here is a picture:

and here is a picture of a Zombie

I believe the proof is obvious.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Baltimore-area Vendors That Rock

Cranky and I frequently use this blog to rant about the lost art of customer service. We've bemoaned the incompetence of Kinkos, the laziness of contractors and the dearth of fine dining in suburbia. Finally, we have something good to report!

If you read the Kinkos fiasco you know that we were in the throes of planning a wedding. This is a daunting task, because no matter how much time, money and emotional fortitude you throw at the "Wedding-Industrial Complex" the "machine" will find a way to demand more...More...MORE!

Eventually you realize that you are powerless. You gave up any semblance of control the day you signed your first wedding-related contract. You no longer have the option of refusing to pay for stuff you never knew you wanted, or needed. You no longer have control over when or why you use annual leave; it's now commandeered for countless vendor appointments, often with last-minute re-scheduling, at times that are invariably only convenient for the vendor. Worst of all, family and friends suddenly decide that it's open season on the engaged couple; launching a volley of suggestions, excuses and complaints, as though the event in question were really about them, and not the couple getting married.

We had some interesting problems with our wedding. More vexing than any of the suggestions, and/or complaints we received from loved ones were the things we did not receive from our vendors. These things came mostly in the form of services paid for, but not rendered. For example, we did not receive a refund on our $3000 deposit, paid to one now-defunct charter company by the name of Clipper City Tall Ship, LLC. I also did not receive a call from Columbia Bridal & Tuxedo to cancel my dress fitting; instead they let me find out the hard way that my dress was not ready on the day that I was scheduled to come in for a fitting (there goes another half day of annual leave...).

To say I was an unwilling participant in planning my own wedding is an understatement. Cranky often had to console me as I shook my fists at the sky and declared that I hated "The Wedding." However, in retrospect, I must say that the actual affair turned out beautifully. Everything was special and lovely and magical and...dare I say, perfect.

This was all thanks to a couple of fantastic companies that actually did their jobs. Finding them wasn't easy, it literally happened by accident.

The sheer effort of finding a place to have a wedding in the Baltimore-Washington area took a lot out of Mr. and Mrs. Cranky. The thought of plunking down major coin for a four-hour extravaganza just didn't sit right with us. Yet the traditionalist lurking within crumbled when both sets of parents (who wisely chose to elope) said "Oh, a wedding will be so much fun!" I had one requirement: waterfront. So we started looking for a suitable waterfront venue that didn't require a Hollywood pocketbook, but wouldn't result in Styrofoam containers and paper napkins. This was far more challenging than I ever imagined.

What I should have done is gone straight down to the Inner Harbor and asked for Laura Givens at the USS Constellation museum ( Laid-back, friendly and competent, Laura made us feel at ease about moving our event from the ill-fated Clipper City to the much classier Constellation. She also has a good relationship with Charles Levine Catering, whom we had already retained through Clipper City.

Charles is an event-planning genius with culinary skills to match. He took care of the flowers, the staffing, the bar, the cake, the tables and chairs, the linens, the music and the food. He read my mind on all of those things without me having to do the work of figuring out how I really wanted the wedding to look, taste and sound.

His crab cakes were all backfin, with just enough filler to hold them together. The wedding cake was the closest approximation to a Snickers bar I could imagine possible. Then there was Joel Holmes, a Peabody Conservatory-trained jazz musician with an entourage of talent that includes his violinist wife and a congo player to make Tito Puente proud. Nothing beats dancing to the rhythms of Latin jazz under the stars and the rigging of an authentic tall ship!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

WiFi Fun

Cranky really enjoys being able to blog, work, surf the net, and goof off anywhere in the house. So when my D-Link Wireless AP's finally died I was very depressed and knew that I finally needed to upgrade the WiFi network. Since I'm a technical guy I did my homework and layed out several requirements for what I needed.

1. There is no hardwired internet upstairs so i needed something with an Ethernet jack that I could plug into my switches so the upstairs desktop computers still worked.
2. The hardwired ethernet in the house is downstairs and is all Gig-E so the BaseStation needed to be gig-e.
3. I really needed WDS so all the AP's and Base Stations could act as one big network.
4. I needed something that would work with my legacy 802.11b/g wireless cards in some of the laptops.
5. I wanted something that also supported 802.11n and MIMO.
6. It needed to be easy to work with and deploy

Based on those requirements I came to two conclusions. Either Apple Airports or linksys WRT300N's. Both seemed reasonable choices, and the Linksys boxes are even hackable which adds all kinds of other neat features.

In the end I went with the Apple setup, the main reason was each Airport Express had and extra feature that the linksys AP's don't have. They have an audio jack that allows you to stream music to them. This sold me, as I have several stereo systems in the house that I could finally stream all my mp3's too.

Nows the part where I bitch about Columbia. I went to go purchase my Airports, since CompuUseless was the closed store, I headed there. What I found was no Airports or Extremes, or even the Linksys devices I scoped out. I also found no staff. This store should be closed down, it never has anything I need. Radio Shack carries more stuff in it's store in the Mall. I want a Fry's, Fry's is way better than CompUseless and Best Buy.

Once I realized that CompUseless was useless I headed to the Apple Store at the mall. Thankfully Columbia just got one of these, it's been open for about 5 months. I really didn't want to drive down to Tysons to the real Apple store that's been there forever..... The Columbia Mall Apple store actually impressed me, it had lots of inventory and also had everything I needed. I also found out that sales associates are called Mac Geniuses, so I tested them with the following question.

Do the Apple Extreme support MIMO and WDS, also since it support 802.11g will performance degrade in mixed 802.11b/g/n environments?

This was met with very blank stares, I realized Geniuses meant sales associate. I returned the nice person to their proper customer greeting location and pointed them to someone with an easier question.

At least they had all my gear. So for the details on cost and setup, read on.


1. Apple Base Station Extreme - ~180.00 US
2. 2 x Apple Express - ~100.00 US ( 200 total )

Total cost roughly $380.00

I also had another Express that I received as a gift from work. So all in all 3 apple expresses and one apple extreme.

The checkout lady thought I must be wiring a warehouse, with all this glories WiFi power.


1. Install the CD that comes with the Extreme First. It contains a utility called Airport Utility, this is the only CD you actually need to install. Don't use the utilities from the Express CD's.

2. Plugin the Extreme and fire up the Airport Utility

3. You'll see the picture of the hardware on the scree, Click on Manual Setup.

4. Under "Wireless" tab set Wireless mode to "Participate in WDS network". This is the most important step.

5. Configure all the other tabs to your liking / network. Make sure the Extreme has a unique name for your network also write down it's Airport ID number.

6. Open all the Express boxes and write down their airport ids

7. On the WDS tab on the Extreme set mode to "Base Station" a little box will show up for all the Client IDS. Add all the Aiport Ids for the Expresses to this box.

8. Save everything and wait for it to reboot.

Setup for the Expresses

1. Plugin in one express at a time for this.

2. The express will show up in the Airport Utility also. Click on Manual Setup.

3. Under Wireless set Wireless mode to "participate in wds network"

4. Go to WDS tab, set it to "remote base", then type in the Airport ID for the extreme in the box.

5. Set the name for the network to something other than what the extreme is. Save and reboot it.

6. Connect to the Expresses network name with your wifi. Browse Internet, if everything is working it's talking to the basestation and the basestation is forwarding it to the internet.

7. Return to Airport Utility and bring the Express back up. Change the network name to the same name as the Extreme. Save reboot.

8. Rinse repeat for the other Expresses.

Once everything is up, i suggest turning on WPA security. The reason for this is that with 3 expresses and 1 base station you are now a wireless hot spot for your entire neighborhood. People two block away will get signal on your gear.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Top 10 Vacation/Travel Faux pas

A list of the top 10 Vacation Faux pas committed by others while I was on vacation.

1. Leave me alone - If you come across another person (or people) when walking in a deserted area that is really pretty, don't go in the same direction they are going. Go explore somewhere else.

2. When in Rome - Don't complain to the locals about how backwards they are. These people live there and you don't. They don't want you there and they don't care what you have to say.

3. You are not a local - Don't explain to other people how the locals do stuff after you've been there for two days. You're wrong and now you've spread your stupidity to others who might follow your example.

4. The local food is different - If you're in India don't order anything that doesn't sound Indian. Suck it up and try the Vindaloo. Also remember that if you're in Europe and you attempt to order a Coors Lite someone will stab you for drinking janky beer.

5. Boat Parking - Learn how to park your boat in an anchorage. You put out 5 times the depth in anchor rope (3, if you have chain). This is a simple math problem: depth is twenty feet, you put out 5 x 20 = 100 feet of rope. This also means your boat can rotate in a ~160 foot radius from center. Don't park closer than 160 feet from me, you douche bag.

6. Your pet isn't cute - Just because it's a beach doesn't mean it's a dog park. If you let your misbehaved dog off the leash and it gets near me, pees on me, or barks at me I might eat it later. (May 19th is Eat Your Pet Day, by the way)

7. Leash your children - If you are in some place that isn't made for children like a restaurant, museum, beach bar, grocery store, busy intersection, etc, leash your kids and keep them quiet. It's your fault you had them, don't bother me with your mistake.

8. Don't be a douche in airport security - The big sign says take off your shoes, put your shit in the bucket, take out your laptop, and put all your liquids/make-up/sunscreen in ziplock bags, get out your boarding pass, and show ID. It's in big letters and 3rd grade English, just do it, and do it fast, you're holding up the line. Also if the TSA guy with a no high school diploma has to give you detailed instructions you might want to reassess your own importance.

9. Boarding Groups aren't complex - If you're on a Southwest flight they have a concept called boarding groups. It's not hard, your ticket has A, B or C on it. Get in that line and stay there. A boards first, then B, then C, just in case you missed it.

10. Don't stand in the middle - Standing in the middle of a moving walk way or escalator is dangerous. In most places people say excuse me and politely pass you, in NY or London they will mow you down with no remorse, and then blame you for your own stupidity.

Why do you people follow me?

For years now I've been searching for the perfect vacation spot. Somewhere far away from everyone, close to nothing, and featuring Mai-Tais. Each time I go somewhere new it always starts out great, no one is there, it is far away from everything, and the Mai Tais are excellent. Then, the next time I go, *you* people are there; taking up space and complaining about how far away it is, how there is nothing there and that the Mai Tais are too good. If I mistakenly return for a third time, someone has built a Wal-Mart and a shopping Mall, and the Mai Tais have been watered down to appeal to the tastes of the people who don't know what a good Mai Tais is. So why do you people follow me?

This is somewhat of a rhetorical question, as I know why you people follow me. You follow me because the places I go are great, and you don't realize that the lack of your presence is what makes it great. This isn't entirely your fault, though. You have simply missed one of the important lessons in life: "how to vacation". Most people think they know how to vacation, they think they know how to relax, however they really end up exhausting themselves in an attempt to escape from the doldrums of everyday life. Most people do this in the form of trying to do *things* while on vacation. Things include getting up early to see sights, trying to get the best spot on the beach and attempting to shop in every store. This results in a vacation not being a vacation, because you rush to a place, fight to get a spot and ultimately are disappointed when the only shopping is Mary Lou's crappy antique store.

So for the short attention span people who didn't do well in school, let me break down the top five things you are supposed to do on vacation:

1. Do nothing and have no plan.
2. Know where the liquor store is and the best bar, then park your ass close to both.
3. Sight-see by accident; if you make it there great, if not, oh well, you probably didn't miss anything.
4. Sleep more. Well-rested people are happy.
5. Actually escape your problems. Don't think about anything, enjoy doing nothing, amuse yourself, maybe even read a book.

Then you will be happy, and I can be happy, not cranky.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cranky Took a Tumble

Sometimes you have an experience that teaches you that you aren't as young as you used to be. Yesterday Cranky took a tumble off a motor scooter, and now I'm pretty banged up. Luckily I wasn't being too cantankerous, and actually wore a helmet. Normally, I would say that helmets are for "wussies," but this time around I actually needed one.

It was a rather amusing experience. After watching all the young kids ride the scooter I decided that I wanted to enjoy the wind in my face, and the smell of gasoline mixed with motor oil. So I downed a beer, strapped on my helmet, lit a smoke and jumped on. I immediately realized I was in trouble. I had somehow missed the whole part about how inexperienced riders should sit and not stand, and since I was standing things were about to get bad. The scooter raced away with me standing on it. It was gaining speed, then it began to wobble. This was bad, I assumed. After another twenty feet, and some more acceleration, I realized I was going to crash into a curb, but I didn't make it. The wobble got worse, and then the scooter chucked me to the ground. Bang. Since I didn't make it to the curb, I hit that with my head, after sliding on the pavement.

After 30 seconds I awakened, then passed out, then re-awakened. Now I'm at home licking my wounds, remembering I'm not 15, and having another beer.

Monday, July 9, 2007

House calls...with a toothbrush?

The long-awaited July issue of Reach Out: The Village Newsletter of Long Reach arrived today. I scanned the headlines as I dodged a neighbor at the community mailbox (he looked like he wanted to talk...)

Among various tidbits about water conservation and gas pipeline inspections, I found one truly interesting advertisement: "Home Veterinary Service - We Come to You!!!" As the owners of two cats, Cranky and I are delinquent in seeing to our pets' health care needs. Part of the reason for this is that the cats don't leave the house, so there is no *pressing* need for shots and flea treatments. The other reason is that they don't like to travel. And when I say they don't like to travel, I mean, they *don't* *like* *to* *travel*.

Mouse, the 20-pounder, wets herself the minute you close the gate on the cat carrier. Nothing is sadder than a large cat covered in her own pee and stuffed into a cat carrier. Loki, the skinny nicotine addict, puts up a horrible yowl and bites viciously. The sounds she emits are so chilling, it makes it difficult to keep your eyes on the road.

Lately, however, we've been considering a trip to the vet for teeth-cleaning. The cats are about seven years old, and their breath is kicking. We've tried the tartar-control treats, kitty herb gardens and other such remedies, to no avail. For all we know, they've got advanced-stage gingivitis...The only thing stopping us is the fact that the big one will need a bath and the little one might send one, or both, of us to the hospital.

So the concept of a vet that makes house calls...well, that's just fantastic! Maybe we'll even splurge on some booster shots and a flea treatment, or two.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Monkey balls!

Our group of friends has a Memorial Day tradition: camping at Assateague Island National Seashore. Each spring, as the allergies subside and the weather takes a turn for the pleasant, a large group of us heads out to the coast for a long weekend of camping, bugs, weenie roasts and tequila shots. We also go clamming.

Clamming is difficult, but rewarding, work. It's not for the faint of heart, as it involves burrowing your feet into slimy mud while waist-deep in brackish water. However, for every punishment in life there is an equal, and just, reward. This is never more true than in the art of clamming.

The heat of the day and the grossness of the mud are off-set by the coolness of the water, and the tranquil feeling you get from standing in the middle of the Sinepuxent Bay. And let's not forget the satisfaction of procuring fresh shellfish to share with the rest of the camp.

Didn't I just list two rewards, with only one punishment? Fear not, the universe is adept at self-correcting such imbalances.

So as we are shuffling through the mud, toes eagerly seeking the round, hard, rock-like texture of a buried clam, we discover that there is another life form lurking in the deep. Round and hard, but slimy with prickly little hairs, this *creature* is neither plant, nor animal. Most vexing is its ubiquity, and the high number of false-positives it generates.

Basically, you stumble into what feels like a clam, only to retrieve a hairy, quivering, unidentifiable ball. Is it a seed? A pod? An egg of some sort? Or is it a Monkey Ball?!

Cranky's Seal of Approval

Not everything is bad in Columbia, just the places I go, the services I purchase, and the people with whom I inevitably interact. However, there are a few places that get Cranky's "Seal of Approval."

Merchants Tire on Berger Rd.

1. Good people that know what they are doing.
2. They are fast.
3. They have good warranties

1. Hidden on Berger Rd
2. Not a full-service mechanic. Oil, tires, brakes only. If someone knows a good full-service mechanic please post it.

Frisco Grill - 8865 Stanford Blvd

1. Beers! This is the only place in Columbia that has local brews, and other hard-to-find beers. They don't serve Bud, Coors, or any other crappy American brands.
2. Tuesday Night Trivia. I have a big brain, do you? Works less with more beer; luckily everyone else playing is in the same boat.

1. New wait staff. Beer service can be spotty at times, however, this place is better than most in Columbia.

Essential Family Chiropractic

1. If you're broken like Cranky, this is the place to go. All the cool kids are doing it.
2. Friendly place.

1. None

Barbeques Galore

1. Really cool custom grills. So cool Cranky had to buy one.
2. Sauce from all over the country. If you haven't tried Gates Sauce from Kansas City, you're missing out.

1. Weekend Manager guy is a little off.

If you think you know of a place that will pass the Cranky Test, send it in and I'll rate it.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Krazy Kinkos

If you've read the blog on my MySpace profile, or actually spoken to me lately, you already know about the wedding *fiasco*. Long story short, I came back from a very long, very tiring business trip to find a cute little note in my in-box titled "Clipper City Bad News." Clipper City is the name of the boat I chartered for my wedding...which is coming up fast.

Nobody wants to get bad news from their wedding venue. Most wedding news is bad, anyway. It usually comes in the form of "I don't like the tuxedo you picked," or "I realize you don't even know Aunt Harriet, but it's really important that she come, and she needs to bring an entourage, can you make room for them on the guest list?"

So I open the cryptic *bad news* message, only to find that it was, indeed, bad.

"At the end of last week I was told that the Coast Guard had terminated Clipper City Tall Ship's ability to take out passengers indefinitely, effective June 1st." This from the sales director, who also indicated that he had lost his job along with our deposits.

A quick Google search for news turned up gems like "Clipper City owner abandons fight to stay afloat" and "Tall Ship Biz Going Down."

After a disappointing attempt to relocate our event to another local charter company, I got the bright idea to look into the USS Constellation museum. Built in 1864, Constellation is the tall ship in Baltimore. A bad-ass enforcer of the ban on slave trading, piracy and the apparent crime of being either French or Spanish in the New World, the Constellation carried out missions in far-flung locations like the Mediterranean and the Congo River. Perfect! I'll take it! The fact that it was available on our date/time at an affordable rate sealed the deal.

Now what to do with those pesky invitations. Already printed with the other vessel's name, and desperately needing to go out, the invitations were the most vexing component of "Project Wedding Fix."

Enter Kinko's...

My first instinct was to check with a reputable stationer to learn the proper procedure for correcting invitations. The nice folks at Papyrus informed me that it would take two weeks, and cost close to $100 to print correction cards that would neither match my paper stock nor bear the same fonts used on my invites. They advised me to try Kinkos.

Should be simple, right? Can't be harder than buying donuts, and we've been through that...

Not being a desktop publishing expert, I simply created a graphic in Photoshop announcing the change in location and listing the new address. I grabbed the font and colors from the proof of the original invitations, and figured I was ready for Kinkos. Incorrect.

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I walked into the store. A disheveled employee greeted me at the counter with a "What'chu need?"

Me: "Well, I've got this file that I need to print, but I'm not sure what my options are in terms of paper size, weight and color." [I produced my memory stick]

Kinkos dude takes the memory stick, without a word, and hands it to his co-worker who is sitting at a computer some distance behind the counter. The co-worker doesn't even look at me. He grunts at Kinkos dude, who then shuffles back to the counter. Note that my question about paper options has not been answered.

Kinkos dude: "How many do you want to print?"

Me: "Well, it's not laid out for print yet. There's just the one image, and it needs to be about this big." [I pulled out my wedding invitation and showed him approximately how large I wanted the correction card be in relation to the invitation.] "I need to know the paper size options, so that I can figure out how many we can print per page."

Kinkos dude: "Well, if you just have the one image it's going to print one on each page."

Me: [obviously somebody here is missing the it me?] "Umm...well, I don't want to waste a bunch of paper, I would like to figure out how to optimize the process so that the image is duplicated as many times as possible on each sheet."

Kinkos dude: "I can't alter your image, if I do it won't look right."

Me: "Well, how do you do business cards? Do you have a template, or something? Kind of like what you use when you print labels? Then we could just replicate the image across the template."

Eyes flicker with understanding. This is good! Perhaps I've broken through the apathy.

Kinkos dude shuffles back to his co-worker and mutters something to him. Then he pulls a piece of paper off the printer and brings it back to the counter.

Kinkos dude: "Here is what it will look like if we print it four-up."

This is nowhere near what I wanted. The text is blown-up to fill a space the same size as my wedding invitation. What happened to business cards?

Me: "That's too big. Can we make it smaller, and just get as many as possible on the page?"

Kinkos dude: "That's the size of your image. We can't re-size it, because it's a read-only document. I can try to print it like a business card, though."

Ok. Now, I'm getting frustrated, because: a) I know for a fact that my file is not a read-only document and; b) the print-out is approximately 5 x 7, I sized the image in Photoshop at 3 x 1 1/2. Either I really am clueless in the art of print production, or the Kinkos staff is incompetent. Hmm. Probably a little of both, with an emphasis on the latter.

Me: "Look, do you have Photoshop on any of these computers here? I could just create an 8 1/2 x 11 document and duplicate the image a bunch of times until it fills the page."

Kinkos dude: [ignores my question about Photoshop] "Yeah, if you do that we can print it, no problem."

Me: "Well, do you have Photoshop here?"

Kinkos dude goes back and confers with his co-worker.

Enter the *Manager*...

Manager: "What do you need done?"

Me: "I'm trying to print something, but I want to make sure it's sized correctly on the page and that I'm using as much of the paper as possible. What kind of paper do you have, by the way?"

Manager: "Ok. Well, they're going to take care of the printing for you, [produces a sample book, hallelujah!] and here's the paper selection. [eyes my invitations] You're going to want to use card stock with those."

Me: [definitely not convinced that *they* are going to handle anything for me, or anyone else] "Ok, bright white card stock."

Manager: [directed at Kinkos dude and his co-worker, who are huddled around the workstation] "Bright white card stock!"

At this point, I feel that it's totally out of my control, so I simply go over to a table and sit down to await whatever results are headed my way. After about 2 minutes Kinkos dude comes back over with another print-out. This one is much better. The size is correct and there are six on the page now, instead of four. However the ink color doesn't quite match, and anybody can see that the page can handle more than six.

Me: [deciding not to tackle the ink color issue] "Well, the size is much better, but can't we fit more than six per page?"

Kinkos dude: [looking like he wants to strangle me] "I can't put more than six on the page without re-sizing the image, and then it won't look the same."

At this point, I really don't understand why adding more items to the page requires re-sizing, but I'm feeling defeat setting in. Not to mention, he's already re-sized it to bring it back from the 5 x 7 into something the fits on a business card. However, if I keep insisting on a logical explanation for things, nothing will get done, so f*ck it!

Me: "Ok, fine, but I'm going to need you to cut them up, too."

Kinkos dude: [really wants to strangle me at this point] "Awwlright." [in a tone that implies I'm only asking for more trouble and/or disappointment]

He goes back behind the counter and spends the next five minutes manually hacking away at the sheet of paper. It takes about 18 cuts before he has something to show me. Meanwhile, I'm wondering how they deal with bulk orders...can't this process be automated?

Kinkos dude hands me the print-out, now cut into six unevenly-sized pieces.

Me: "Um, these are totally uneven. I mean I guess it doesn't matter, because people won't be comparing their invitations (I hope), but can't you set the cutter to specific dimensions?"

Kinkos dude: "Yeah, it's uneven because I did it by hand. But yeah, nobody's going to notice that they aren't the same size since they'll all be going to different people."

Me: "Ok, whatever." [this keeps getting more and more complicated, and I have no idea why.]

Kinkos dude: "How many do you need?"

Me: "125. At six per page that is...let's see, how many pages?"

Kinkos dude: "Uhh. 38."

Me: "No, it's six into 125. That equals 21 (actually 20.83, but we'll round up since it's sheets of paper and they don't come in fractional sizes)."

Kinkos dude shrugs and wanders back to the printer area. When he comes back he's got several stacks of uniformly-sized business cards bearing my message. I don't bother counting them, I simply pay as quickly as possible so that we can leave.

But before I say goodbye to Kinkos (forever, I hope) I figured I might as well use the restroom. At least that seemed convenient and straightforward. Again, not the case. After washing my hands I turned to the paper towel dispenser, and pumped the lever a few times. Nothing came out. That's when I noticed the sign on the dispenser.

"Hand driers are more efficient and better for the environment. They prevent trees from being used as paper towels."

Oh. So that's why the towel dispenser is empty. Too lazy to remove it, they simply stopped filling it, and pasted a stupid sign about how it's better for the environment to use electricity than a renewable resource, like trees. If Kinkos was really concerned about the environment, they should encourage their staff to figure out how to fit more than six business card-sized graphics onto an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of card stock!

Little Black Ants

I'm locked in a ongoing battle with the little black ants. The initial invasion was definitely a surprise attack in the middle of the night. I woke in the morning to find my kitchen was now an occupied territory, and my cats had been compromised. Obviously the ants had made a treaty with the cats, as the cats were just watching them take their food. Attempts at negotiations with the cats stalled immediately, as their terms involved complete access to the TemperPedic bed at all times. Failure to negotiate with the cats forced me to turn to conventional warfare.

I gathered my ant baits and Ortho outdoor home defense and began a campaign of chemical warfare on the ants homelands. I systematically attacked all their strongholds, training centers, and weapon caches. Additionally I established complete air superiority. After several days of ground and air bombardment I deployed outdoor land mines (baits) and napalmed the rest of the yard (hose with poison spray). Unfortunately there where civilian casualties (a plant or two), but nothing that wasn't calculated. At this point I began to contemplate declaring victory.

The ants, however, regrouped and switched to a guerrilla warfare strategy. This involved suprise attacks on the cat food, a night time rush on the pantry, and daring raids into the living room. My large (20 pound cat) was also compromised and needed a bath after I found several live ants on her.

I called in mercenaries. They, too, laid waste to the land, sea and air. For several days afterwards the house was completely free of the ants. I thought it was time to declare total victory. I was dead wrong.

The ants struck in force on Thursday June 28th in an attempt to reoccupy the kitchen. It was a major battle, the vacuum (the ultimate ant killer) was deployed slightly before my position was overrun. The ants had shown me they were still a major threat.

I needed new tactics and new weapons... Over the next two days I perfected a concoction of Simple Green, Ortho Home Defense Max, and sugar. It didn't kill on contact but after 2 minutes it caused them to explode. It was devastating and disgusting. After extensive satellite surveillance (I'm tall), I deployed my new weapons in strategic locations.

Stay tuned for the outcome.....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The DC Handshake

I had the pleasure of learning the DC Handshake the other day. For those people not familiar with the DC handshake I'll try and explain it, so that if you ever run into it you know how to do it properly.

The handshake starts out the normal way.

DC -> Hi, nice to meet you Joe.
You -> Nice to meet you too, Bob.

Minor pause.

DC -> So where did you go to school? (start of the dominant dog butt-sniffing ritual)
You -> I went to XYZ school.
DC -> I went to Ivy League XYZ school (Ivy is a trump card; you lose this round)
You -> Oh that is really interesting.
DC -> So what do you do for a living? (Next round of butt-sniffing)
You -> Oh I work for Company X as a Y.
DC -> I'm a partner in Law Firm X. (Setting you up for the money question)
You -> Wow that is really interesting.
DC -> So does your job pay pretty well? (Just to make sure you make less)
You -> Yeah it's alright.
DC -> Last year I made 200k + bonus (Just to clarify your failure)
You -> That's really impressive (At this point you have lost)
DC -> Nice to meet you. I'll catch up with you later (I won't be back; you suck)

Now, if you get in this situation the correct way to answer is the following:

DC -> So where did you go to school? (Start of the dominant dog butt-sniffing ritual)
You -> I graduated with Honors. (No school, just titles; it catches them off-guard)
DC -> I went to Ivy League XYZ school. (Now he's off guard and trying to recover)
You -> [Yawn...] So how much do you make? (Beat them to it)
DC -> I'm a partner in Law Firm X, and I make 200k + bonus.
You -> Not really enough money to live around here is it? How's your townhouse?
DC -> Uh, my town house is fine. (Might have to back down)
You -> Kind of sucks to have to live around other people, doesn't it? Do you have a yard?
DC -> It's actually really nice, the city is really excellent. (Translation: you asshole)
You -> How's traffic? I hear it sucks.
DC -> I don't have a car, I ride the metro.
You -> You make 200K and you don't have a car? Traffic must be hell! How are the seats on the metro?
DC -> Fine. I usually stand.
You -> Ever been mugged?
DC -> Nice meeting you, I have to run over there, and talk to XYZ.

You = Win :-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

2008 Campaign makes me cranky

Cranky is a little extra cranky today. About two months ago I started an experiment, a very simple one. Since the 2008 campaign seems to be heavily invested in using the Internet for publishing information and reaching out to the Gen-X crowd, they are using things like MySpace, Blogger, and other social networking sites. So...I thought I would see if I could actually get some real answers to my real questions. I put together a short list of issues, limited this list to 3 questions since I know people are busy, and sent it to every candidate that was running at the time.

I tried several different methods to get my questions to the right places. I used the "ask a question" button that existed on some candidate websites, I sent emails to addresses in the "contact us" pages and I tried a couple of other emails like "info@" and "candidateX@" addresses.

Since I don't want to get political today, I'm just going to post the results.

1. 25 Spam messages received about rallies.
2. 1 packet of information mailed to me, did not contain answers to questions.
3. 10 Spam messages received on answer to questions I didn't ask.
4. 1 email pointing me to new Obama ring tones. Interesting.....
5. 2 emails about debates on Yahoo.
6. 2 unsubscribe notices from Clinton's site, as the first time didn't work.
7. 3 other emails stating that it could take over 48 hours to remove me from their emails lists, just in case they wanted to spam me again very soon.

Oh well I tried.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Enough said, up down up down up down up down up down. I can't even post my cranky comments. Crap Tastic Comcast...

Columbia Shopping Hordes

I've already told you there isn't any food here, but what you might now know is that there isn't any shopping here either. The only places to shop are Wal-Mart, which as we all know is the evil empire, Target, which is a runner up for evil, and the Columbia Mall, which is full of pre-teens and teenagers. So, if you need something simple Tar'get and the 'Mart are your only choices.

Today I needed Cat Food and Ant Poison, because one, my cats are hungry, and two, the pest control guy can't seem to kill the ants in my kitchen. I set out for the Pet's Mart (we actually have one), and I was pleasantly surprised that, on a Saturday, the parking lot was empty. I then realized that it was empty because Best Buy moved out of the shopping center, and incidentally, out of Columbia. Best Buy realized that paying Columbia taxes was stupid, when they could just move two miles down the road and be way better off.

After the Pet's Mart experience I was really happy, because it didn't suck to get in and out of the parking lot. I prayed that finding my Ant Poison would be a just as enjoyable. Since I had on my "Wal-Mart. Your place for cheap plastic sh!t" T-Shirt, I assumed that Wal-Mart was a bad option for a good shopping experience. I went to Target.....

To get into Target you have two options, a four-lane road that you have to figure out how to cross, or a two-lane road that has two incorrectly timed lights. Doesn't sound that bad until you realize that the four-lane road is very busy, and you have to make a left across the oncoming traffic. The two-lane road is even worse; having two traffic lights in less than 50 feet.

Once you figure out how to actually get to the Target, you then have to figure out how to get a f*cking parking space. This is a pretty complex endeavour, because, as I said earlier, you only have three options for shopping in Columbia, so the place is packed with the Columbia Shopping Hordes.

The Hordes are made up of the following:

1. The front lines are the Elderly - The elderly run interference in the parking lot by standing in the middle of the road, or wandering aimlessly through the parking lot. If you get really unlucky they attempt to cross the road in front of you with a walker or some other slow mode of locomotion.

2. The second lines are the Soccer Moms - These ladies drive aimlessly through the parking lot looking for the best place to park. They take hours to do this, and most of the time they cut you off without even noticing. Then they unload their car, and twelve screaming children run out of it. Most of the time the kids run into the lanes of the parking lot and attempt to commit suicide. I like to honk at them, as it causes them to jump or cry. Either way, it's funny.

3. The third line is the Family Shopper - These people show up in force, mom, dad, kids, grandma, cousin, uncle, etc, all in the same mini-van or SUV looking to shop this store all day long. They have lists and are motived, but they have to carry a load of people with them everywhere they go. Normally they have two carts, and take up an entire aisle in the store. They bother you by always being in the aisle you need to be in, and taking up the entire thing. They can also be spotted by the cart size package of toilet paper they have.

4. The last line is the Asshole - These are the people that think the store belongs to them. The guy that parks his cart in the middle of the aisle, the 20-item guy in the 10-item-or-less express checkout line, the d!ck without a UPC on something, the open item guy, the lady that investigates every carton before moving to the next item, the pre-teen running through the store, the idiot who can't use the credit card machine and continues to swipe the card the wrong way, the store employee who doesn't know where something is and finally, the douche bag who can't make change.

After I navigated the hordes I left the store only to be greeted by the teenage parking lot party, that just so happened to be in my way. They had snarled traffic out of the parking lot for miles. The elderly, the soccer moms, and even the assholes couldn't figure out what to do. I gunned it, and they moved. Time for a drink.


Because Columbia is a suburban hamlet, it does not support independently-owned businesses; especially restaurants and coffee shops. Read "All You Can Eat Suck" for more on this phenomenon. This means our dining choices are limited to Ken-Taco-Hut, Dominato's and "a great little I-talian place called the Olive Garden" (an actual quote from a real, live moron!).

So on this fine, Saturday morning in the middle of June I decided to get some doughnuts and bagels. In my old neighborhood in Arlington, VA I had a choice of three places within walking distance - Pastries by Randolph (or Randy's Pie Shop, as my dad calls it), Cassat's (a coffee shop) or Parisienne Express (self-explanatory). All of these options included good coffee, baked goods made on the premises by the owner and a short line (never more than 2-3 minutes of waiting).

Here in Columbia we are fortunate to have a shopping center within walking/biking distance (biking recommended for expediency's sake). That's where the good fortune ends. The rather paltry offerings of said shopping center consist of: Giant Food grocery store, Royal Farms convenience store, a dry cleaners, a sub-standard Asian joint, a sub-standard Italian joint, a Wings-to-Go (yet untested), a travel agency (who uses them anymore in this age of Orbitz and Travelocity?!), a UPS store (next to Giant, probably the most useful business in the center) and a Frankenstein-like combination of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins, which I refer to as Dunkin'Robbins. Note the auspicious and vexing lack of a liquor mart.

For the purposes of this morning's errand, I knew I would be forced to patronize the Dunkin'Robbins. I scooted up there on my bike, looking forward to the guilty indulgence of a doughnut assortment and an everything bagel with cream cheese on the side. This was only my second time using this particular Dunkin'Robbins, and the last time didn't go so well because the store was out of everything except for cranberry-granola bagels and strawberry doughnuts (blech!). So I had some fear in the back of my mind, especially when I saw the swim meet at the neighborhood pool (the horror!). Would the donuts be gone? Would the line be long?

Indeed, the line was long. Out the door, in fact. I walked in at the same time as about five other people. "Jesus Christ!" exclaimed one man, who turned angrily and got back in his car. The other people wandered off in the direction of Royal Farms. I chose to stick it out. Fifteen minutes later I found myself before an impatient cashier who demanded to know if she could "help" me in broken English. Sadly, the everything bagels were gone. So were all the other bagels, except for the dreaded cranberry-granola (they had plenty of those on hand). Fortunately, the doughnut selection was in better shape. Reluctantly I chose the last sesame bagel (battered beyond recognition) and four donuts.

Why was this such an ordeal? Well, first of all Dunkin'Robbins doesn't make any of their donuts or bagels on the premises. Their inventory is held hostage by the logistics capabilities of some central distribution facility. If they don't deliver enough of a popular item the store is out of that item until the next delivery. They also had about five people standing around with only one register open. The line was 20 people long, and customers were ordering donuts and ice cream. However, nobody was standing in the Robbins section of Dunkin'Robbins. Therefore, the people ordering ice cream held up the people ordering donuts and vice-versa. As a final touch, the doughnuts are hidden behind a rather tall counter. Customers have no way of browsing the available doughnut choices until they are actually being helped, and usually the person ahead of them in line was still finishing their transaction, effectively blocking the view. Brilliant!

This never happened at Randy's Pie Shop. A refrigerated glass case, displaying the artistry of Randy's expert pastry-making runs the length of the store. Staff are spread all along this counter helping customers. When you enter the store, you simply take a number and are helped as soon as your number is called, which generally coincides with the amount of time required to look over the selections.

Although Randy's staff consists of the standard retail workforce fare, teens, recent arrivals (immigrants) and grizzled veterans, all behaved like professionals. They were always courteous, clean and knew how to make change. Sadly, this cannot be said of the Dunkin'Robbins staff. Of the five people behind the counter this morning only one was working, the grizzled veteran who also happened to have weak English skills. She encouraged her teenage co-worker (who was laughing and flirting with the two "toaster jockeys," who were also f*cking off) to start helping customers behind me. Remember that I couldn't see which donuts/bagels were still in stock because the person ahead of me was still paying (one register, cashier with no math skills), so how could the person behind me place an order without shoving me aside? The resulting chaos left us all frazzled.

So what do I recommend? I think Dunkin'Robbins should add a walk-up window, a drive-thru window and a walk-in shop with two separate lines that are fully-staffed and clearly marked. I also think they should add in-house baking capabilities. How hard can it be? Subway bakes their own *bread* (I use the term lightly), so why can't Dunkin'? Next, I would invest in (as part of their corporate responsibility program) developing high school math curricula that teaches the next generation of cashiers and retail managers HOW to MAKE CHANGE. An important skill, even if they never work retail.

Finally, I would add a freakin' liquor store to the Columbia Palace shopping center. I know I needed a drink after my donut run, and wouldn't it be nice to make booze-buying a walkable endeavour? Perhaps I will lobby MADD to get the licensing process started...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


What is it with Contractors these days. I'm trying to pay you to come over and do something I don't want to do. I'm even willing to pay you more than what it is actually worth. Yet somehow contractors in Columbia won't even come over to give me a god damn quote.

I hate you Contractor...

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Trash Man Cometh

I was so relieved that the trash guys came and collected today. They were really late, and a part of me wondered if Columbia had decided not to collect trash anymore.

I can see it now, a proclamation in the Long Reach Community newsletter, or even more likely, a cryptic note on the CA website stating the following:

"In response to the rapid filling of the landfill on I-70 the Columbia Association will no longer collect trash from private residences. Residents must provide their own trash removal services. Entry to the landfill requires a Class 5 commercial vehicle and commercial waste removal permit. Homeowners are required to remove trash in a timely fashion, or will face fines and penalties as determined by the Columbia Association bylaws."

That's pretty much the junk policy. If you have furniture or other large items that are too big for the garbage truck, you are out of luck. You must drive them up to the landfill in your own vehicle. For those of us who do not own a pick-up truck or SUV, we simply have to let the junk accumulate. We've tried bribing various delivery services to remove old items when dropping off new ones (grill, sofa, pool table, etc...), but alas, they wanted no part of our Sanfordia.

If you cannot remove the junk, you must hide it. Under no circumstances can junk be left out in plain view. It might offend the neighbors, or more likely, it might offend the Columbia Association. However, the definition of junk is rather fluid.

On our street there is a house that is poorly-maintained, and host to a variety of junk-like items (a dead car, an old storm door, various bright orange plastic cones and several cast-off pieces of styrofoam). For some reason, this house does not get penalized, or if they do, the penalties are not sufficient to motivate the owner/renter to dispose of his junk.

Yet another neighbor had the audacity to build a pagoda-style enclosure for their hot tub. For this grievous offense, there was indeed a penalty stiff enough to encourage immediate action. The Long Reach association (a localized *arm* of the Columbia Association), slapped them with a threat of steep monetary fines if they didn't demolish their pagoda and re-build it in a style more in harmony with the rest of the neighborhood. Apparently, their pagoda was *too* Asian. A quick walk past the surrounding houses in their cul-de-sac showed a number of yards with distinctly zen-like fixtures. So what made their pagoda too Asian? And what is wrong with tasteful Asian styling on a pagoda that hides a hot tub, and it's possibly naked bathers, from view?

Sadly, we'll probably never know the answers to these questions. In the meantime, I will continue to count the orange plastic cones and track the movements of styrofoam chunks, hoping and praying that they will cross the property line so that I may dispose of them in the proper manner.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Community Mailboxes

So who thought Community Mailboxes where a good idea? Is it so damn hard for the post office guy to walk around to all the houses and deliver the mail? Is the post office guy so lazy that a community mail box was the only way to solve the age ole problem of "where the f is my mail?"

Was somebody sitting around going, "People will talk to each other while they get the mail everyday, that's a great idea."

Are they a retard? I don't want to talk to my neighbors. Do you?

So this guy and his MiniVan

So there is this guy that drives around Columbia in a mini-van. The mini-van is covered in:

"Save America Now... Stop Hillary Clinton"
"Save your freedom... Stop Hillary Clinton Now"
"We are all gonna die.. Stop Hillary Clinton"

I'm pretty much with the guy, however, I think he needs better signs. Cause all the signs are taped on the side of his van. That's gonna take this paint off.. I can't believe the Republican party doesn't have enough money to get this guy some good ole magnetic signs.

Additionally I want some more signs

"Oral isn't sex... Follow Hillary Clinton"
"Cheating is ok... Follow Hillary Clinton"
"I'm not in it for the money... Follow Hillary Clinton"
"Bill is really sweet... Vote for Hillary Clinton"

California Tortilla

For all the suck food in Columbia. California Tortilla currently sucks the least. It still sucks, but it sucks less than most places.

Reasons it still sucks.

1. The Burritos are bad.
2. They need staff, as the line was out the door.
3. They have new tables and they wobble.

Reasons it doesn't suck as much as other places.
1. Taco's = good
2. Lots of hot sauce
3. Staff was actually nice.

Columbia (McGaw Plaza)
8874 McGaw Road, Suite E
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: (410) 290-9966

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Who rides the bus?

Howard County has a bus, in fact, it probably has like three or four of them. They are ugly green monsters that run on diesel, or some other silly fuel. When they accelerate up a hill they make lots and lots of noise, and then go very slowly. Every morning I have to listen to this stupid bus pass my house, and every morning around 7am it wakes me.

The neighborhood where I live doesn't have a single home less than $425,000. Why the f!@#ck is this bus on my street?

For those of you who don't live in Columbia, this might sound like a mean statement. Especially if you live in San Fran or D.C., or some place where a bus is actually used for commuting to your job. Here in Columbia, the bus takes people who can't afford a car past houses they can't afford to a shopping center where, if they are lucky, they might find a minimum-wage job. Hardly a vehicle for upward mobility.

I'll recap for the people who don't see my point. If you can buy a $425K house, you can buy a car. You don't ride the bus. Especially a bus that doesn't get you any closer to the job markets in Baltimore, D.C. or Northern Va. The people who do ride the bus don't live in the neighboorhood; and the bus doesn't go where they need to go. So why is there a bus stop on my street?

By the way I sent an email to the Columbia Association about this, and they told me to send an email to Howard County. So I sent an email to Howard County, and they told me to bite it.

All you can eat suck

All the crappy restaurants in Columbia got together and joined forces with . The one stop place for all the sh!@#$ty food you can find in Columbia. But at 6pm on a Sunday when it's raining and your too lazy to cook anything cause the guy at the grocery store destroyed your dinner, it's a great place to go.

Unfortunately the entire site is full of SQL injection, cross site scripting, and is most likely running a vulnerable version of IIS. I've never actually cared to look, but I've been told that if you remove the tip amount and leave it blank you'll get an awesome database error back. I would assume that every field is like this.

Please do not use CrankyInColumbia's CC. Cause then I'll be Cranky and in your city.

What the F, Bowling Alley

Since there isn't anything to do in Columbia, you have to settle for what is around. So I settled for some bowling with by buddies. It actually sounded like a hella fun time. We set out for the bowling alley.

Brunswick Columbia Lanes
(410) 381-7750 | 7100 Carved Stone Columbia, MD

Everything started off pretty well, except for the smoking ban going into effect the day we went. You ever heard of a Bowling Alley where you can't smoke? Oh well I'll live.... At least the bar wasn't banned also....

After a couple pitchers of beer, I was getting hungry for some serious crap. Images of hot dogs, burgers, chicken fingers, nachos ran through my head. So I headed to the concessions stand to order my food. First off there was no one manning their post, so I had to yell over to the manager guy running the place and ask for some assistance, he finally found the person who would take my order. I set off asking for a burger and a patty melt, cause I was both drunk and hungry. The lady behind the counter stopped me half way through my order to inform me the grill wasn't on. I assumed this just meant that I would be awhile before my order was ready, so I continued on. She stopped me again and said "The Grill isn't on" to which i replied "So?" she then informed me that the only thing I could have was a hot dog or chicken fingers, cause the fryer and the heat oven where both on. I asked if she could turn the grill on and I was informed that it would not be possible to do that. I ordered the hot dog and chicken fingers, and told the lady what lane number we where on. See then informed me she was not a waitress and would not deliver my food. I would have to return in an unknown amount of time to get it.

So the lady is paid to run the grill but it's not on, and it's too f'n hard to walk 10 feet to deliver my food when it's ready. Please explain to me what the F this person is does here? By the way the chicken fingers and hot dog were 10 dollars, and the beer was 12.50 a pitcher. For crappy YingLing (however you spell it, it still sucks).

Stupid Giant

Today I was standing in line at Giant loading my cart onto the checkout belt. So I align my valuable crush able items in specific last order, so my jar of pickles doesn't end up on my carton of eggs and pray that the kid behind the counter will get the hint. Unfortunately since the kid behind the counter hasn't ever purchased groceries before, he begins to destroy everything I've carefully selected for dinner tonight.

When I grew up bagging groceries was a fine art form performed by a courteous highly skilled professional, who if you shopped there on a weekly basis actually knew your name. Additionally if all you had was a small hand basket they would unload if for you, and put the basket in a magic place where some other courteous store employee would restock it back to it's correct location. These days the kid behind the counter is playing his Nintendo DS, smashing your stuff, and complaining that you need to unload the basket before he or she will actually scan your items. Additionally the little prick makes 10 to 15 bucks an hour, doing less than what is required.

So I get my groceries to the car, and put them in the trunk, and I look around for the place to put my cart, and realize that there is only one in the entire 100 acre parking lot. Genius, I'll walk this f'n thing all the way over there, wobbling wheel and all. I get this cart over to the proper place, and a store employee is picking up all the carts to take back to the store. So I ask her if she would like to take my cart, the response I got was "Nope" I only need to take these 5 carts back, just put yours in the cart parking place. Its not like you got to take them far lady, in these parts you park them outside next to the door, so they can get rained and snowed on. In civilized parts of this world the shopping carts go in the store............


So for a long time I've had this feeling that everything in Columbia, MD sucks. So to prove my point I'm going to start documenting all the stuff that continues to suck in Columbia. Not that anyone really cares.

Just for starters I'll hit on a view easy to explain ones, that don't need to much detail to understand.

1. Howard County, where Columbia is located just instituted a smoking ban. This sucks, we, as in the people of Howard County didn't even get to vote on it. The County just decided one day that this was the way it's gonna be. This pretty much caused all the bars in Columbia to close immediately cause, they sucked to begin with, but now with no smoking all the people that went there would rather smoke and drink at home now.

2. There isn't anything to do in Columbia. The food sucks, there are only limited chain restraunts, and the mom and pop restraunts are terrible. I'll write about them later in more detail.

3. The people here suck.

4. Columbia states - "We are between DC and Baltimore it is a great location" - What is really should say, is you are 20 minutes from Baltimore and 2 hours from DC, cause your gonna sit on 495 for days.

5. No one here ever learned how to merge into traffic. People come to complete stops getting on the highway, and then attempt to merge at 10 miles an hour. They then wonder why Semi Trucks keep killing them.

6. The Super Markets blow. You can choose from a run down SafeWay, or a run down Gaint. Both of them make sure that every retard highschool kid has a job, so they can break your eggs and smash your bread. Also they don't stock any Organic foods, or high end items. Good luck finding 1 item in the entire store that doesn't contain 10 pounds of Trans Fats.