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.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How To Do Vegas In Three And A Half Days, Day 4

On the last day of our trip, Eddie and I checked out as quickly as possible.  I called to check out because the card with the instructions to check out said if we had any problems during our stay, I could tell them when I checked out.  So I did.  I told them about the tv and how I called the Care Line and no one cared.  The woman said that someone should have come, especially if I used the Care Line.  I told her about the shower, too.  She took off the resort fee, which is a scam fee anyway, so I was almost happy with that.  We'll never stay there again, so we moved on. 

First, we got breakfast at MGM.  We decided we might stay there if we go to Vegas again because Eddie liked the poker room, and when I saw the poker room, I liked it, too, because it was less of a room and more of a section of the casino that was easy to get to and I could hop around the slots while he played and I could find him easily without having to go into an intimidating room. Next time.

Instead of playing poker, he decided to play blackjack.  We met two of the nicest dealers there.  One of them told Eddie he had an Australian accent.  Then she asked me, Don't you hear an accent?  I said, Yes, a Brooklyn one.  The pit boss came over and carded me.  When he asked for my ID, I laughed as I dug through my bag.  He said that maybe I was in my 20s and he needed to check.  Hahahahhahahaaaa.  Since we were talking about ages, we mentioned that it was Eddie's birthday.

It was Eddie's birthday!  When we'd gotten back to the room the night before, I gave him his real present.  Two tickets to see the Rangers take on the Oilers at the Garden in the coming weeks.  He was surprised because the trip itself was supposed to be his gift, but it's not much of a gift if we're using shared vacation funds, is it?  So hockey tickets seemed like a nice fit.

At the blackjack tables at MGM, he received another gift.  The pit boss meandered somewhere but them came back with a button for Eddie to wear that showed it was his birthday.  He and the dealer both asked us how long we were staying--they were clearly going to offer us something for free.  We told them we were leaving in a few hours.  Dang.  Almost more free stuff.  Eddie cashed out soon after that.  Then it was time to head to the airport.

"It's My Birthday" - yes, you have to wear it
On the way, we stopped to see the Vegas sign.  We couldn't get out of the car because there was a tour bus taking up all the parking spaces, and because there was a scary chicken thing standing around.

And that's the last thing we saw on the strip--a scary chicken thing.  It was definitely time to go home. Our flight was delayed just a bit, but we didn't care.  We ate lunch at the airport (I got a sandwich for 9 dollars--two pieces of bread and two slices of turkey for 9 dollars.  That's about right).  Then Eddie found us a snack.
We were told that the in-flight video system was not working, so there would be no movie, not that we were going to watch it.  We were all asked to check our carry-ons since the flight was full.  We brought ours to the counter and the guy was happy we offered to check it, but slightly dismayed that it was one of the smaller bags.  I was elated because when you check your bag at the gate, it's free! The flight was uneventful as we both were either totally asleep or almost asleep.  He hadn't slept more than six hours the whole trip and I was still catching up on the sleep I'd lost from being sick and unable to adjust to the time difference, so we were out of it.  When we landed in New York, I said, I hope we have a driver who doesn't talk to us.  Our driver not only talked to us, but he wanted to, like, hang out with us. He was a writer, philosopher, boxer, former teacher, artist, former college attendee, and of course car service driver.  He asked for our full names and phone number so he could reach us.  I asked him instead for his email.  We may be in touch.  All this happened, again, while we were semi-awake, so when we stumbled into the house, that card got lost in the shuffle. Hey!  Look at that! Shuffle.  Get it? Shuffle. Cards. Vegas.  I guess it's stuck with me.