Friday, April 15, 2011

A Lot.

So what have I been up to?

Well, the answer comes in two parts; A Whole Lot, and A Lot of Nothing.

A Whole Lot:

Two weekends ago, Sean and I attended the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival in Timonium, MD. This is a weekend long event that showcases 60 beers, 40 bourbons and A WHOLE LOT OF BBQ. That's right, folks.

Now, I know what you're thinking, over the past year we've all but given up alcohol, and have cut back our meat consumption to 2-3 servings (and sometimes less) per week. What can I say? We fell off a whole lot of wagons that weekend (and felt it the next day).

We attended the festival on the Friday night, for the 'Full Hog Pig Pickin'. Upon entering the fairgrounds, we were given a  miniature beer glass (6 oz) and a 'beer bra' to hang it around your neck while you are eating/chatting/dancing/stumbling around. We also got a meal ticket for a pulled pork dinner.

We started with a couple beer tastings (generous 4-6 oz pours), then decided we had best eat some food, or our night would be a short one. In the BBQ arena were 6 food tents operated by 6 different local catering companies. Vegetarians may want to look away.

Each station had it's own take on a pulled pork dinner; some did sandwiches, others biscuits, and some just let the meat speak for itself. Sides were very southern (we are after all in the 'South') such as cole slaw, potato salad, collard greens and black beans. One place took a more imaginative approach with dishes like jerk pork biscuits, and espresso smoked chicken (they also had a sweet potato & bacon bread pudding, which I had much later that night, and it might have been the beer & bourbon, but it felt like the best thing I'd ever put in my mouth.) Every tent had it's own pig done in their signature fashion. That's a whole lot of pig. You could safely say we 'pigged out'.

Back to the booze. At the start of the evening, we meandered through the warehouse, tasted the interesting brews, discussed their merits, and people watched. It looked a little like this:

Those people aren't us, by the way. I couldn't get Sean to wear the hat. After an hour or so (or possibly less...) there was less meandering and more weaving going on. The talking got louder and was making less sense. Where before I might have been heard saying something like "Very hoppy, with a nice citrus finish", now it was more like "Mmmm beer. Good. More!" and trying really hard not to burp in public. At least, not too loud. It looked a little like this:

Not too long after this, we'd sampled most of the 60 beers and had moved on to the bourbon. I don't think we tried much of it, but then it doesn't really take much, does it? It looked a little like this:

Being responsible non-citizens, we had taken a cab to the fest (unlike the majority of attendees, unfortunately), so when it came time to leave we called for a taxi. Dispatch explained that it was a very busy night, and it would be at least AN HOUR AND A HALF before they could get a car out to us. Hearing this, we made the fateful decision to walk home. After all, it's only 4 miles. 

Well, ladies and gentlemen, 4 miles is about 6.4 kms, which while normally not an unreasonable distance to walk, turns into a fucking marathon when you are full of pig and drunk as a skunk. It took us and hour and a half to do it, but we got home safe and sound. I didn't get up until 1pm the next day. Good times.

Another thing I did recently was get a Maryland State drivers license! I must say, what a freaking ordeal. It took me 2 tries, 3 visits to government offices and a total of 4 hours of waiting for my number to be called, but it's done. In case you ever find yourself needing to get one, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to the Social Security office and apply for a SSN card (like a SIN) even though you don't qualify, so that they can give you a piece of paper stamped 'DENIED'. (Very important step- I missed it the first time)
  2. Take your 'Denied' paper, Passport, old Drivers' License and two official proofs of address (very hard to get without an SSN as most companies won't list you on an account without one) to the DMV- called a MVO here.
  3. Wait in line for a very long time to see the desk clerk. She will look at your documentation quizzically and ask you if Canada is part of the USA. You will chuckle like a polite Canadian thinking it was a (bad) joke. She will look at you like you have shit for brains while waiting for you to give her an answer. You will reply, "Um... No. No it isn't." She will give you a number. I kid you not. I wish I was, but I'm sooo not.
  4. Sit in a waiting room listening to crying babies, millions of disembodied cell phone sounds and drunk people talking about the cars they stole over the weekend. Sit there for an hour. 
  5. When your number is called, give your documents to a clerk who has never issued a Drivers License to a Canadian before. After a brief poll, nobody in the entire office has ever even seen a Canadian before and has no idea how to process your documents. Start wishing you had a mickey in your purse. Or a gun.
  6. After your info is entered into the system, you get another number. Sit for another 20 minutes.
  7. tha.......fried chicken...mah word!.......hangin Try to nod at appropriate intervals, and maybe toss in a 'Yes M'am'. Now pay the $27 licensing fee. You're done!
That wasn't too hard, was it? True story, I swear to you.

Last weekend we planned an outing to the town of Westminster. 

We basically cracked the guidebook and pointed. It was supposed to be a quaint little town, with a couple neat museums and places to see. We set off Sunday morning on a nice 45 minute drive. When we got there, we popped in to the Visitors Center. The 'nice' old lady asked us why we would be out on a Sunday and what we expected to be able to see. We told her we were open to suggestions, and she suggested we stop by the convenience store, as it might just be open. We went back out to the car, where I tried to burn the building down using just my heathen mind, but I needed some newspaper to help the flame along and I was fresh out. Instead, I took this picture of the `haunted`pub next door. Which was closed. We learned not to travel on Sundays.

 As for the 'Whole lot of Nothing' portion of this post, it starts and ends with two words and a roman numeral. Dragon Age II.

Yes, my favourite (or second favourite? I don't know, Fable might be first...) game franchise came out with a sequel and it is awesome. I'd put off buying it because I knew once I started playing, I wouldn't stop until I was done. And I didn't. And I'm on my second play through. My first run took 20 or so hours and was fantastic. I rushed it though because the story was so good I just wanted to know what happened next. 

I know many of you don't get video games, and I understand that. I was once a non-believer. But then I fell in love with a guy who makes video games, and he showed me that they're not all about shooting things and blowing up cars. Some games are so well designed that the worlds they inhabit have their own history and myths. Playing can be like immersing yourself is a really good book, but being able to make decisions that will affect how characters interact with you, and even how the game ends. You can be an altruistic hero, or a money hungry bastard. Or anything in between. Anyways, I guess my point is that the last couple weeks I've played an awful lot of Dragon Age. And maybe not so much of anything very productive.

This weekend we get a long weekend, even though it's not a holiday. Sean's company used to be (up until 2 weeks ago) headquartered in Massachusetts, where Monday is Patriot's day. Now, both offices in RI & MD get fake holidays. Yippee!

As we've learned nothing is open on Sundays down here in the US of A, on Monday we're heading in to Baltimore for the first time. On the docket is a trip to Druid Hill Park, and dinner at the famous Woodberry Kitchen. Who knows what else we'll get up to. Looking forward to it.

And back from popular demand, I leave you with pictures of our cats. Because that's what people with no kids do.

Leo sez ROAR!

Max gets cuddles.

Leo helps Sean install a curtain rod.

Max watches TV.


MandD said...

Remember when 'this little piggy went to market' was just a childs game? Poor little piggy!
So proud your natural GPS was still functioning for the walk home!
Re: Licensing personnel...seem to have a marked resemblance to migrant workers we met camping who asked, looking at our BC license plate, "is you all a State?". God Bless America!

AmberG said...

Wow, fun to read about all your adventures "down South" but my condolences on the insanity! Life's an adventure...glad to see you are taking it all in stride;)

Maybe you should watch "The Drew Carey Show" reruns and see what they did for fun in Baltimore? LOL.

And you could always drive by Charm City Caks (from Ace of Cakes) but they don't give tours. :(

Have you seen this yet?

Quill said...

The culinary extravaganza ( looks pretty cool Amber, but at $150/plate, I don't think we'll be attending!

However, we will be going to a Wine & Food festival in National Harbor in a few weeks when we have a friend visiting (yay Tara!!) and will report in!

re: Drew Carey... wasn't he in Cleveland? I dunno.