Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Baltimore Crime

Lately local crime has been on my mind. Here are a few instances:

  • While walking the dog last week the Queen and I witnessed some adolescent boys fighting in the park not 50 yards from us. Their friends looked on as the boys puffed up, threw punches and tackled each other. At the same time on a park bench behind us I overheard a kid tell his friends he was going to follow some girl, but to watch out because she had a razor hidden in her mouth. The younger kids scare me more than any other demographic in this area as they are fearless and have something to prove. Now that school is out for the summer I wish it wasn't.

  • Last week about 6 blocks North the police answered a call to help a young man who was being assaulted. Upon arriving at the scene a scuffle broke out with the man they came to protect, as he was allegedly carrying a gun. The young man was killed by the police in the altercation.

  • On the same street as the previous crime, Zach Sowers was beaten in a random act of violence while walking home from the bars in June of last year. He was in a coma until March of this year before he passed away. Since then, the kids convicted of his attempted murder cannot be charged with murder as they were convicted of attempted murder because Zach was alive at the time. Zach's death was belittled (and then redacted), which follows a pattern here in Baltimore of the victims being looked down upon while the criminals get plea bargains and pity because they have lived a hard life, or something.

  • The other night the Queen was stuck at a busy intersection due to an assault happening in the intersection. In the middle of the street, in day light she witnessed one guy in the middle of the street being repeatedly struck in the head with baseball bats and golf clubs by three guys. She called 911, was placed on hold for 5 minutes before getting through to the Baltimore City police. By the time the police picked up the assailants had run off.

    It took two days for this incident to show up in the Baltimore Sun's police blotter, there was no mention on the news of it nor have I seen any other print on it.

    "Police were seeking two men armed with baseball bats who assaulted five other men during a street fight in the 3700 block of Falls Road about 10:30 p.m. Monday. The victims suffered head injuries and were treated at four area hospitals."

    The police didn't quite get this one right... It was 9:00 pm, the number of assailants was incorrect, and the above makes the incident sound pretty benign. I guess if the person didn't die, it wasn't that bad.

I should be excited about Baltimore dropping from the second most violent city in 2006 to third in 2007, or the murder rates being down 30% this year. My immediate neighborhood (meaning within a few blocks of me) is considered to be pretty safe, but after seeing more crime in the area I'm wondering if something has changed or if I'm just noticing it more. Either way, it definitely dulls the glimmer of city living, like the closeness of restaurants, bars and social activities. While I loved the HBO Show The Wire I appreciated it when it showed the Baltimore that I didn't see at all as opposed to the one a few blocks over.

I'm not really sure why I wrote this entry, but seeing as crime has been on my mind I just thought I'd blog about it.

    + + +

Unrelated, I've been getting a bunch of spam comments. I'm not deleting any normal comments, just the spammers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Don't Mind the Hole in the Wall

Or the reflection in the mirror.

We need some art to adorn our bare walls. Since the Queen calls Chicago home, I picked up a poster of the area that details the neighborhoods from ork posters.


We got it framed, matted and mounted it in the cove. We think it's purty.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I was tagged by Wanderluster over at Ramblings of a Renovating Couple. The rules: Answer the following questions about yourself. At the end of the post you pass on the questions to 6 (or so) other bloggers and list their names. Then write them a comment telling them that they've been tagged and ask them to read your blog.

1. What did you do 10 years ago?

I was working at a landscaping company and was starting to develop the landscaping design and install business I had for the last couple years of undergrad. Landscaping was my summer job, and during the other seasons my time was taken up with my undergraduate degree in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I've always had a love of things related to architecture - it goes with being an INTP.

2. Five items on your to-do list today:

  • (a) Draw up detailed framing plans for the bathroom, utilizing a a bit of guidance.

  • (b) Determine subfloor solution to support slate tile in bathroom (includes reading some of Tile Your World

  • (c) Purchase recessed lighting for main bedroom

  • (d) Take picture of TV in main room, and new framed picture hanging in cove

  • (e) Order component cables for TV electronics

  • 3. Snacks I enjoy:

    Maybe some string cheese, or whole wheat pita and hummus.

    4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?

    Take over the world. But seriously, I'd travel, take classes on things I'm curious about and get odd jobs.

    Places I'd like to go:
  • Wander around Eastern Europe for a while - I like places off the beaten path

  • Visit every national park in the US and Canada

  • Spend more time in Southeast Asia

  • Wander around Western Europe (though Eastern Europe is higher on my priority list)

  • Classes I'd like to take:
  • Building classes toward becoming a GC

  • Go to culinary school

  • Canyoneering certification classes

  • white water kayaking classes

  • Odd Jobs I'd like to do:
  • Be a lumberjack for a season

  • Alaskan crab fisherman for a season

  • Random apprenticeship type jobs in home construction

  • If you watch the discovery channel you may sense a theme to some of my desired odd jobs.

    5. Places I would live:

    Seattle, or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, and a summer cabin in Montana. I'll live almost anywhere for a couple of years to experience the area.

    6. Bloggers I am passing the challenge onto are:

    How about DC Rowhouse, re:habitat, Four Beds Two Baths, The Brick House and One Project Closer.

    Do you have any questions for me? The more random, the better.

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Bathroom Design Board

    For the upstairs bathroom we have settled on the floor tile, wall tile, vanity, bath fixture, shower curtain, and vanity lights. The other furniture is notional, though we are keeping with the spa-like theme so far.

    upstairs bathroom

  • Floor tile - Gray slate. I'm reading up on subflooring and installation for natural stone now, so hopefully I don't screw that up too badly. The floor tile was about $225.

  • Wall tile - The subway tile I got from craigslist. Subway tile was $350.

  • The vanity - The double sink, including marble top, both sinks and faucets, the mirrors and the shelf all as a kit from The Interior Gallery. The vanity was $1550 shipped.

  • The shower fixture - A Kohler Fairfax set for under a $100.

  • Shower curtain - The Kaiku from Anthropologie. Not to everyone's taste, including the Queen's, but I think it adds some color and texture to the space. A splurge at $50.

  • Vanity lighting (not shown) - Double vanity lights over the mirrors from Restoration hardware. On sale for $50 each.

  • So far, the budget is pretty low and I think the look is good. We discussed how much of the vanity wall to tile, and I think we are going with the middle option below. We think this option will create the look we're going for without tiling all the walls around my huge bathroom (6'x14'). That would be too much labor, and a bit too retro.

    bathroom vanity tile

    Since the vanity doesn't arrive until mid-July, there is a while before the bathroom is done. Stay tuned as I stumble through tile work!

    I promise some progress pictures of the downstairs this weekend, including the completed entryway. :-)

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Pillow Talk

    After discussing drapes and pillows for weeks the Queen and I have gone round and round. I never thought that such a seemingly benign decision would take so long or be so difficult. With more expensive items, like furniture, there are fewer high quality options. When it comes to pillows and drapes that is NOT the case. There are a multitude of options. No, a plethora of options.

    That in mind, we have been searching for the Holy Grail of pillow and drapes combination. It's as if the world is depending on our correct choice, with the wrong selection sending the world out of orbit, hurling us all into the sun. It's a momentous decision. Right?

    drapes and pillows

    The picture in the upper righthand corner shows the white cellular shades I ordered (this is not my room). While cellulars aren't the greatest shades they offer a few things we required.

    (a) The single pane glass transom allows some serious heat transfer, and the sun coming through that window blasts you when sitting on the couch. The shades will offer some insulation and filter the direct light. I thought about replacing the transom above the window and my door with newer double pane windows, but the current ones are too darn pretty and newer versions are poopy looking. That and I'm cheap.
    (b) My lower window is at about head height if you are walking down the street. If the shades were open it offers a lovely view directly up at the 50" plasma. I live a couple of doors down from a bus stop - I don't need everyone looking in. Hence, the cellular shades here will provide privacy ALL of the time.
    (c) They allow in light, but hide the view. Shutters give you privacy but some since I have windows I actually like to have light coming through them. Crazy how that works.

    Ok, enough about cellular blinds. After seeing a post on Apartment Therapy I knew we had to find drapes that would actually go with the cellular blinds. After some hunting, the Queen found the leafy looking stuff in the upper right. I think it's HAWT, and it satiates my need for some pattern in the room. After much back and forth we think the pillows shown, or something similar, in the lower left will go with the furniture and our 'sterling' walls. The patterns may mess up the mid century vibe but it helps to mix things up a bit.


    P.S. We ended up ordering the Exhibit A vanity for the upstairs bathroom.