Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tea and Coffee and NYC and Me

I had been wanting to go to the Coffee and Tea Festival for years, and I'd kept missing out on buying tickets, so when I saw it come up on Gold Star for half price, I was all over it and I basically told Eddie that he was going to have to learn to like tea and coffee for a day. He wasn't thrilled about that part, but he was thrilled that I'd get free stuff because he likes my reaction to getting free stuff. And I got a lot of free stuff. Because that's what I do.

We got to the Armory a bit before 11, and we shouldn't have walked to the front door because we wound up backtracking around the block because the line was very long.  Like super duper long.  While we found the end of the line, Eddie kept repeating in amazement: This many people like tea?  I would answer, And coffee.  Yes, it's a thing.  People like these drinks.  Some people make a living out of them, like the vendors inside. Also as we found the end of the line, he commented, Wow, that smells good and I don't even like this stuff.  "This stuff" smelled super yummy.

We waited.  My only worry was that we would not get free bags.  Bags came with admission, but only a limited number were available; therefore, they were bonuses and FREE.  He asked how many.  I said around 1000.  He said, there were not that many people on this line.  I was like, How can you be sure?  He was like, there just aren't.  He is a numbers guy, so I trusted that we would get bags.

We totally got bags.  When we walked in, we signed in after waiting five minutes for two women to write their names on a piece of paper (literally: five minutes--even the registration guy was rolling his eyes at them).  Then we got our bags.  They were heavy and about to get heavier because I was going to fill mine with anything I could grab.  This is where I shine.  I grabbed Eddie and into the rows of tables we went in search of the best tasting tea or coffee--the freer it was, the better it'd be.

Eddie managed to find the only sport-related thing in the room: one of the vendors had set up a kids' basketball hoop and was offering free stuff for sinking a basket.  Eddie missed on the first try but then got it on the second and was awarded a tiny lime-green ceramic parrot.  Eddie urged me to shoot, so I did.  I got it in on the first try (once again proving how I'm better at the sports than he is), and I was awarded a tiny brown ceramic pair of puppies.  I have no idea what to do with these items; I don't know why they actually exist.  However, FREE is for me.

From table to table, from taste to taste, through crowds of coffee and tea drinkers, I basked in the delight of warm and comfy liquid.  I tasted tea that had bourbon in it.  My first time with bourbon.  I have a new friend.  I tasted coffee that was cold brewed and almost talked myself into having to buy a batch but then told the woman I'd come back later after lapping the place.  She was like, you can buy it now and I'll hold it for you, and I was like, No I don't want to be a bother, and quickly let the crowd whisk me away.

I failed a blind taste test, causing Eddie to mock me. In all fairness, I didn't know it was a blind taste test.  The woman was like, we're testing out flavors--which do you prefer?  When I told her the second one was more flavorful, she told me she was surprised because most people say the opposite, and then I learned that I'd liked Lipton over her brand (which I don't even remember).  I immediately lied and said that I use Lipton at work so I must be used to the taste.  She gave me a whole plastic baggie of her brand of tea and I said, I'll bring these to work!

The only tea I drink at work is the tea I bring, which is Trader Joe's Green Tea.  I'm a good liar on my feet to save face.  (Right now at work, I'm drinking whatever I got from the show.  Haven't bought tea in weeks!).

Some other highlights were the honey tasting (dip a stick in honey and lick--so simple!), the tea ice cream tasting (so friggin good), the Mexican hot chocolate sample (mmmmmmm), and the Cabot cheese spread.  Why was a cheese item at a coffee and tea festival?  Not a rhetorical question.  I'm simply puzzled.  However, cheese is good and it was very unexpected so score another one for me.  Eddie did not partake in the cheese even though he likes cheese.  He couldn't push to the table the way I could because I'm small and sneaky.  And again, this is what I do.  The only thing he actually did get on his own was candy from the Verizon stand, and the woman was pushing it on him because she didn't want to eat any more of the candy from her big bowl of sugar. 

We'd looped the Armory in about two hours.  Yeah, that's right: two hours of tea and coffee goodness.  He asked if I was hungry for lunch and I was like, Nope.  He was like, Seriously, you're not hungry?  Shocking, I know.  But I was full from all the tea and coffee and few snacks.  I nibbled a piece of the Verizon candy and he got McDonalds.  There, I unloaded all my goods and found that I had at least two of everything because we both got a bag, and they were both so heavy because both had two bottles of drinks in them in addition to all the tea bags and coffee pouches and biscotti samples.  I hit the jackpot on this one. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Moment of Free Stuff

Write a review on Trip Advisor and get free stickers.

These were in the bags from the Coffee & Tea NYC Festival. More on that soon!

Arrived in the mail after the Coffee & Tea Festival.

Got the Picfx app free from Starbucks and went at it on this photo of the Flatiron Building.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Room

So I can't say much about what Escape The Room is because if I say anything I'd spoil it for anyone who wants to go. So I'll say this: It was R's birthday and S decided a fun way to celebrate would be to get locked in a room for an hour and figure out how to get out and then go to Fatburger. And we did just that.

Because I don't want to ruin anything, I didn't take any pictures except for this one:
This was what we saw when we came out of the elevator. We followed it even though it was unmarked. Because we are smart people.

Escape The Room is apparently an app and an online game and we knew none of that until the guy at the place asked if we had played any of those and when we said no he was like, So you just decided to let a stranger lock you in a room? And we all said, Yes. Because we are smart people.

Basically, you have an hour to figure out how to find a key that's been hidden in a room to unlock the door to get out. Everything can be a clue though the guy told us not to stick anything metal into an electrical outlet and any furniture bigger than me should not be moved. These were rules based on previous experience with people who tried to do such things.

We came close. Like very very close. We are very smart people and we came very very close to figuring it all out. But we didn't. And we lost. And we got to take a picture of it.

Then we went to Fatburger to drown our shame in good food. That lead to another mystery called Where's M's Food because they gave her a number that wasn't hers, failed to give her a cup for a drink, and then took forever to bring her the food she'd ordered. By the time we were done with the food, the shame of losing was pretty much gone. Or maybe it was just hiding under the shame of having eaten at a place called Fatburger. At least it's a place with no pretenses.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Veronica Mars, Girl Detective, Intrepid Girl Reporter

A store with stuff I want. Passed by on the way to Kip's Bay.
You know you're hanging with an awesome crowd when a preview comes on for a dance movie about which you jokingly say "Oh I've seen this before" because it's like every single other dance movie ever made and when the dancing begins, the audience snickers, and when Derek Hough does a dance move that simultaneously removes his shirt, the entire audience erupts in laughter.  Yup, it was that kind of scene when S and I trekked over to Kips Bay after finding the two more local theaters in midtown were SOLD OUT for the PREMIERE of VERONICA MARS.

It was a big day for us.  Veronica Mars was THE girl detective, the end-all be-all of all things that needed detecting.  We made our own lyrics to the theme song.  Watching the series on DVD offered the opportunity to pause, rewind, rewatch, replay, and remind ourselves why this series was one of the greatest series ever made.  Hyperbolic?  Perhaps.  But Kristen Bell is uh. may. ZING! as is everyone else associated with anything V.Mars.
A long time ago, we used to be friends....

bring it on bring it on....
For an extra added bonus, we were in an AMC theatre, and the AMC app has this function that allows you to point your phone at a movie poster in the theatre and it "comes alive."  We did this twice.  The poster does not come to life.  A weird little animated character appears on the screen of your phone and when you point your phone at the poster, the animated character moves in front of the poster even if it has nothing to do with a poster, so a tiny can-can lady danced across the face of V.Mars and then a guy pulled a rabbit out of a hat in front of a poster for some other movie I can't remember the name of.  Dumb.  On the plus side, Captain America was about to come out, too, so we found his shield.

This is how to use a shield.

This is how to get killed in battle.
So why was the premiere of VMars SOLD OUT?  Because it was all kinds of amazingly awesome. Everything you could want from a movie followup years later appeared.  The characters.  How they changed realistically.  The logical backstories of what happened and how.  Original cast members.  Originals!  Old storylines coming up again. The guy on the sidewalk singing the theme song.  The reference to the never-realized tv show where VMars works for the FBI.  Just everything everything, including Leo.  Including Vinnie Van Lowe.  Including Weevil in a button down shirt and slacks.  Then there was the new guy, Jerry O'Connell as the brother to Sheriff Lamb who became the second Sheriff Lamb.  But there wasn't much new stuff.  Mostly old stuff.  Like did I mention Leo?  Yeah, him too.

From start to finish, it was friggin mesmerizing, but because we were watching with all the hardcore fans, things got a little loud so when there was a line that caused a huge reaction (laughing, yelling, clapping), the next few lines went missing.  The good thing about being in such an active audience was when S and I jumped from being scared out of our seats, everyone else did the same exact thing.  Us Marshmallows, we are cut from the same cloth.

The following Tuesday, I saw it for a second time with my officemate.  We'd recently found out that we both liked the show, and she'd been following the kickstarter campaign for it, and we were both very excited.  Seeing it for the second time?  Still amazing.  Here's why: watching her reactions to all the nostalgia was worth the price of the ticket itself.  Then getting to hear the actual dialogue I'd missed the first time around was nice.  Also, nothing scared me out of my seat this time, so I didn't miss anything while trying to recover from a panic attack.  It's fun to watch other people falling in love with the movie I fell in love with just days before.

So now it's onto the books.  Apparently, there are VMars books and I  need to read them.  What made this show great was the writing.  What made this movie great was the writing and Kristen Bell and the slow-mo dancing and Tina Majorino's rockin new hairstyle and Wallace and of course Leo and Keith Mars being Keith Mars and Dick being the biggest Dick he could be and the writing again.  So the books are a must.

Plus, the ending left a lot to think about, so I'm not sure if another kickstarter is going to come about, but another movie should be made.  Veronica Mars Forever.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Happened In February?

Basically, I have no free time any more because any free time I used to have is now dedicated to getting my back better. February was filled with trips to the orthopaedist and the physical therapist. Three time a week, I have been going to physical therapy. I do a little bit of a workout to strengthen my muscles for support, and then I get hooked up to a machine that makes my back muscles pulse and contract and release. Sometimes, I get a massage! Once, I got something else that I always call a sonogram, but that's totally wrong and not what it's called but it deals with some kind of frequency going into my back muscles via a wand hooked up to a machine.

The Olympics happened! We all know how I love them, so C and J came over to watch the opening ceremonies. Since they were so friggin long, they left before the torch was lit. Eddie and I fell asleep but awoke in time during that very long and awkward run from the stadium to the torch the two people had to jog to light it. I had the games on in the background whenever I was home. I think that maybe I'll be an Olympic athlete next time it comes around. We'll see how my back is by then.

The SuperBowl happened. Eddie had a massive card game during the day. We all watched at night. I bought five boxes and almost won money but did not win money, and my dad wound up winning the quarter I would have won. Nice job, dad.  SMM and AF brought guacamole.  It was a highlight.

We went to the Ranger Game. We did not sit in the wheelchair section.

I got super sick and was not able to go to work. I actually took two sick days in a row. I had to have my mom drive me to the doctor because I could barely walk let alone drive a car. That all happened right before a snow day and then Winter Break followed, so I was out of work for two weeks in a row. I started feeling better in the middle of break, so I spent it catching up with what I hadn't done the week before. Thankfully, two colleagues jumped in to sub for my classes so my students didn't fall even further behind.

By the by, if you know of ancient remedy that will ward off germs, send it my way. I cannot keep getting sick. My alternative plan is to build my own air-filtered bubble a la John Travolta's The Boy In The Plastic Bubble flick.

I got my car fixed! After Speedy Baddriverson collided into my back bumper, my back bumper needed repair, and it was repaired by the very nice and efficient folks over at the collision place in Island Park. It was a Geico Express place, so I also got my rental car there. The rental was brand new and very pretty, but it made me realize just how high up my own driver's seat is as all other cars have sunken seats and I can pretty much see only an inch above the steering wheel. I'm happy to have my car back. They got it washed too! That, for me, was the best part.

Eddie and I celebrated Valentine's Day by making waffles. Something happened with the waffles. We don't know what. They still tasted yummy even though they came out more like scrambled waffles. He bought me a rose the night before Valentine's Day because he's amazing. I bought him a mini terrarium to grow beans that say "I Love You." We planted them and nothing has grown. Nevertheless, we still love each other.
To this day, it's still a pot of dirt.
Playing with my PopAGraph App

Lots of snow days.
Courtesy of S

Some free stuff.
I have yet to claim this because I can't find anyone who sells it.
Eh, free is free, right?
Short month. The end.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Anyone Can Sit In The Wheelchair Seats Except Me

While going to Vegas was Eddie's birthday present, it really wasn't the whole present.  I got him Rangers tickets, and I gave him a card at midnight on his birthday that said the tickets were in the mail.  He was happy, even though the game was against Edmonton, which didn't promise to be a thrilling matchup.

The tickets arrived a few days after we got back.  I'd bought them using the Find Seats On The Map thingie on Ticketmaster.  I opened the envelope and saw that the tickets read WChair under the section category.  Umm, that means Wheelchair.  Not having been to the new Garden, I wasn't sure what was in store for us.  Would actual seats be available?  Was I allowed to sit there?  Was I taking away someone's chance to see the Rangers v. Oilers?  Oh, and WHY WASN'T THE SECTION CLEARLY LABELED WHEELCHAIR ON THE FIND SEATS ON THE MAP THINGIE???

I emailed Ticketmaster:
I purchased 2 tickets for a game in Madison Square Garden section 412. The tickets arrive today and show that they are in a wheelchair section which was not clear on the website, but they also state that they are for Row 7 seats 4 and 5. I need to know if this row has actual seats, and if not, I need to know what my options are for using these tickets. I don't want to take space away from people who need the access.

Mandy from Ticketmaster responded within a day:
Thank you so much for reaching out to us. We will gladly assist you. We would like to advise that every patron agrees to our policy statement before completing any transaction. Our policy states the once every transaction has been complete, there are no refunds and no exchanges.As you do not require an accessible seating area for this event, we will gladly exchange your seats as long as seats can be located at an equal or greater value. We were able to locate seats as close as possible to the original price range applied to the order. The difference of $104.50 will apply for this exchange. When we get your reply we’ll make the exchange and send you a confirmation.
Mandy Ticketmaster's reply shows that the only option I have is to find different seats, right?  She never says, You are not taking away people's access.  She never says, Seats are available if you don't have a wheelchair.  She says she has found new tickets for me and I need to pay her one hundred and four dollars and fifty cents.  Okay, fine, I did that.

The game was not great.  The Rangers were playing as if they were on Valium, most likely because they thought they would easily beat Edmonton.  Edmonton was winning the whole time and it was a pretty lackluster event.  

The seats I got were Uh. May. ZING!!!!!  First off, the new Garden looks so clean.  Clean is the best way to put it.  It's all bright and new and clean.  Just clean.  There are lots of options for food--we went with a personal pizza that cost about $500000.  Secondly, the section we wound up in is a section on the lounge level.  We weren't in a lounge, but we were in huge leather lounge seats that had a personal mini table between each couple of seats and its own wait staff.  We were in the first row, and in front of us was nothing but glass and a clear view of the entire rink.  Simply amazing.

We walked around the bridge to check out all that was new (and clean!).   Then I saw them.  The chairs.  The people in the chairs.  The people not in wheelchairs sitting in the wheelchair section.  Some people were being ushered over as we passed by and I heard the usher explaining to them that it was indeed the section listed on their tickets.  Apparently, they hadn't seen that it was a wheelchair section either.  That's kind of lucky for them since they didn't contact Ticketmaster and ask about it and get duped into paying more.
Yup, that's pretty much what happened.  I bought tickets that were not clearly labeled Wheelchair Section.  I contacted Ticketmaster to ask if there would be seats there and if I could use them.  They answered by saying they had found alternative seats for me and I should give them more money.  I did.  The seats I got were really good, but had I wanted to shell out that kind of cash, I wouldn't have bought the cheaper ones in the first place.  For shame, Ticketmaster, for shame!

While I'm publicly shaming...I contacted them one more time:
If you scroll down to read my original message, you'll see I'd asked if I was able to use wheelchair section tickets if I don't use a wheelchair. The response I received offered only to switch my tickets to another section. I was not told that there were actual seats on the row, leading me to believe that keeping my tickets was not an option since that was what my first inquiry stated. While I enjoyed watching the game from the new 300 level section, I paid over 100 dollars more for them, and in walking around MSG, I found that people who did not use wheelchairs were indeed in the wheelchair section.
I am disappointed that the option to keep the wheelchair section tickets was not made clear to me as I'd chosen them originally because they were less expensive.  Also, I wish that the option of using the seating chart to purchase tickets were clearer about the section being designated for wheelchairs. 
While I appreciate the speed and courtesy of the exchanged I had to switch the tickets. I am still disappointed to learn that I did not have to go through that process and did not have to pay more for different seats.

Of course, I haven't received an answer.  The Rangers lost 2 -1.  On the bright side, the seats were really comfortable.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Super Boulevard NYC

Speaking of the sports, Super Bowl was about a month ago, which means about a month ago, this happened.....

Eddie and I went to Super Bowl Boulevard because for over a year he'd been talking about going because it was a once in a lifetime event.  We walked up and down, meaning we crammed our way through hoards of people.  Everyone was on a line for something.  Instead of standing on lines, we watched people stand on lines and then kick footballs and touch trophies.  There was even a line to stand in front of the giant Roman numerals; I suppose people didn't realize that since they were so giant, you could get a picture of them from anywhere. We met S and R, and S, who works nearby and had seen the ongoing events unfold, gave us a mini tour as can take a picture with letters here and a picture with numbers there and the slide is there and then tobaggan tickets are at Bryant Park.   We took pictures but did not go on the slide or the tobaggan (after all, I was nursing an injured back thanks to Speedy Baddriverson).

There was a live band playing, so S and I found an empty spot off to the side and danced for a song and a half.  I don't know where the video is, but I know someone has it on video....As we walked by the last of the tents, I lamented that there were no free handouts.  I like free things and you'd think they'd have free things, but nothing was free.

We went over to the park to find the Verizon PowerHouse that really had nothing to do with football per se, but it was a way for Verizon to advertise by incorporating technology into football stuff.  So we went in and got our pictures taken and then we could go to any activity in the building and use our thumbprint to have the video or pictures of the activities emailed to us and for our faces to appear on personal timelines we could create. 

We floated across the screen together!  Football Verizon Advertising Love!

I look a little murdery here.  I don't think they'd let me into the game looking like this even with a ticket.

S caught a virtual football while wearing a virtual football uniform on a screen.  Eddie created a timeline of all football events.  R watched and did no activities because he didn't give them his thumbprint....and that seems to be the smartest decision any of us made. 

And I?  Couldn't do anything because I have no thumbprint.  I tried to do a timeline and it wouldn't work.  We wiped off the thumb slot and tried again and it didn't work. Then one of the Verizon people came up to me and was like, swipe your thumb across this gel and then do it.  I did it, and it didn't work.  I guess I can rob a bank using only my thumbs and never get caught because I have no print.

That didn't get me down, though, because on our way out of the powerhouse, we all got a free pair of gloves!  Sure they're bright red, too thin, and say Verizon on them, but they are free!  They are also the kind of gloves you can wear while texting.  They kind of work, too.  Free! I love free.

We ended the night on that high.  The Empire State Building was rooting for the Broncos that evening, but the next, it would be lit up in Seahawk colors, a sign of things to come.