A Vigil for Barry Lee

On the tail end of the original Baltimore Ceasefire weekend, a man is killed in West Baltimore

During the reading of the names at the end of the Baltimore Ceasefire weekend, Barry Lee’s name was the last to be read. His mother requested we attend his vigil in West Baltimore.

We later discovered he had been out to Cease Fire events.

We gather, slowly, a combination of family and Baltimore Ceasefire members to remember Barry Lee.
We gather, slowly, a combination of family and Baltimore Ceasefire members to remember Barry Lee.
More family arrive for the vigil, spelling out Barry Lee’s name in candles.
More family arrive for the vigil, spelling out Barry Lee’s name in candles.

Continue reading “A Vigil for Barry Lee”

Alexandria, Moodboards, and ATMs.

Took the day to drive down to Alexandria, to work on the Bloomery branding project. Erik asked me to help out with building them a new look for a product line from a distillery out in West Virginia.

Of course, this was the day that it had to pour icy rain, so the roads were just clogged. I managed to skirt a lot of it with Waze, but I was still about a half an hour late. Everyone was happy to see me, though I felt out of touch. Work was buzzing, but I am completely out of it save for this solitary project. I’m glad Zerflin has been doing well, because otherwise we’d really be struggling. The work that we’ve had come in from A2L, Bainbridge, and The History Factory have kept us busy while Brightline works on landing more projects.

I settled in at Kristen’s old desk, she was a developer that moved on to another job.
The work was fairly simple; just reviewing Moodboards with Kuntz (Moodboards are essentially collages of images that we use for inspiration for the branding and logo), and then editing them. My laptop was mind-numbingly slow, though. The files were small, the operations quick, but

Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...
Dropbox is still pretty awesome, though. If you’re not using it, you ought to be… Image via CrunchBase

Dropbox chose that moment to sync with everything in the world, and so my work ground to a halt. What was only supposed to be a couple hours ended up being the entire day; I didn’t finish up the last round of edits until around 5pm.

Erik was positive, and even asked me about how the family was doing and inquired if I was receiving checks ok, which was really nice. Not all of our clients pay us in a very timely fashion, which is really difficult, but Erik has really been helping.

While I’d been waiting for the computer to kick in, I had been doing art venue research in Alexandria. I’ve already identified at least 25 different coffeehouses and galleries in Baltimore that I might be able to show art at. I hadn’t eaten all day, so I decided to swing by Firehook Bakery to get a chai and a croissant, and see if I could talk to the owner. I met with a Tunisian barista who was very friendly, and told me to call in the morning, because he and the manager would be working together then. He was really nice. I jabbered away with him in French; happy to be able to exercise my rusty language skills.

The ride home was even worse than the ride down, compounding my frustration. I had hoped to be in and our quickly so that I could get more Zerflin work done. Several of the Bainbridge sites were so close to being done… But it only got worse. I had a cheque to deposit into our Zerflin account, but even after trying 6 ATMs and consulting with a friendly Spanish furniture worker who was able to deposit his cheque, I wasn’t able to. Finally, with the help of the furniture worker I found a Capital One branch that was still open, and I stormed in two minutes before they locked their doors.

My Nemesis, the ATM.
My Nemesis, the ATM.
Yup. Definitely not Capitol One. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The man behind the counter patiently explained to me that no, I was not able to deposit money into my Capital One account with my USAA card… I had switched them in my wallet and had been using the wrong card in vain the entire time… Mortified as I was, the teller was very kind and helped me get my check deposit.

Having burned through no less than 8 podcasts on the trip, I picked up Chinese food at the Double Dragon and made it home.

Tamika was exhausted. She’d been working on a new coding project that she had taken on, and was worn out. We chilled for a bit and watched Key & Peele before diving back into work.  I managed to get everything done I needed to, but I’m exhausted. And guess what time it is… 2AM…

How I furnished my basement

Click on the image, then give it a minute to load. It’s worth it.


I set my camera (a Canon 20D) to the Delay setting (you know, the one you use when you want to do a family photo with you in it), and placed it on a tripod.

Then, every time I walked by it, I hit the shutter.

I saved all the images, opened them as frames Adobe ImageReady, and exported it as a gif.

Pretty cool, huh?




It was as if they beckoned me, those windows.
We were in the far end of Union Station, across from where the rest of the staff from the National Fatherhood Initiative’s Golden Dads crew sat in the Thunder Grill. They wanted to sit and chat, and I was restless.

And the windows, they called to me.

There was something about the design, the pattern of the glass. It reminded me of the Frank Lloyd Wright wing at the Philadelphia Art Museum. I would spend hours at a time there, just sitting and looking at everything.

And that’s what I did here. Oddly enough, some sort of art exhibition was being shown on the floor. It was empty. Not a single person in the hustle of catching their train or towing a family out into the Capital that was interested in admiring a few paintings.
I lay down on the marbled floors of the chamber and aimed my lens at the ceiling.

Moving Trees

In our backyard we have a huge 8 foot stump. The tree it belonged to originally fell on the house before we bought it (the owner made the repairs). The owner then had most of the tree cut down and carted away, save for this massive stump about 3 feet in diameter.

Our Yard (in blue)
Our Yard (in blue)

Our house is a town house, and the yard out back is relatively narrow; the same width as the house (though we actually own an additional acre or two beyond it). The stump stands right at the far end of the yard, right smack dab in the middle. Cornering the edges of the yard closest to our house are two smaller trees. These trees are much skinnier, but quite tall… And instead of growing straight up, they each arc over our neighbors houses to the left and right.

I had ties some ropes to the young trees and anchored them around the stump in an effort to pull them away from the neighbors houses.
It worked quite well for a while, but then last month a set of harsh storms hit our area and pulled the stump out of the ground! I was incredulous! I didn’t think that stump was ever going to move…

So now this stump (a log, really) is lying lenghtwise in the middle of our yard, and has flattened what’s left of the old iron fence that was there with it.

The tow rope I had put around the stump to help bend the young trees is still on it, so yesterday I drove our Subaru back there to see if I could pull it. After 45 minutes, lots of rope, the neighbors’ hoist chain and a tying and untying knots, it was pretty apparent it wasn’t  going to move. The stump weighed nearly as much as the Subaru!

I guess I’ll have to get a chainsaw!


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I’m having a rough time right now, I need prayer.

Our Saturn, a 2001 LS, has been dying a slow death. Last summer, rust won it’s slow war on the muffler, and turned our quiet maroon car into a roaring hot rod. The mechanics said on a Saturn the entire muffler assembly is one piece from the head to tail, and costs $3000 used to replace. We we left it.
A short time later, the driver’s side seat adjusters blew, forcing Tamika to use three pillows to reach the pedals.
A month back, I brought it in for it’s 3 month oil change, and the mechanic told me that not only had a n axle bearing gone bad on the right front wheel (making the thing sound like a tank rumbling down the road) but that there was a fuel leak somewhere in between the front passenger seat and the front right tire.
So not only could the car suddenly lose control and/or it’s wheel; but it could also spontaneously catch on fire at any moments. The mechanic made me sign something that said that I understood that it was extremely dangerous to drive. But at $800 just to see if the could fix the problems, there was no way we could afford it.

My parents had a 1986 Mercury Sable sitting in their yard that had been donated to them. A very good family friend of my grandparents had given them the car, it had been bought by the owner brand new in 1986 with every bell and whistle and extra car care package imaginable. He never drove it more than 80,000 miles (under HALF the mileage our car has, which is 15 years younger). The car looked real bad cosmetically because the clear-coat they put on it in the 80’s was never designed to last 20 years, but ran like a dream.

My dad offered to drive it down to us and give it to us if we paid for the title transfer fee.
Tamika and I talked it over, and realized it was probably the best idea.

So, yesterday, my parents drove the Mercury down from Connecticut. This morning, my dad and I put a coat of paint on the wall, and went to get my motorcycle registered at the MVA. We drove up and back in the car, and I really started to like it. It’s beautiful inside.

We worked on the motorcycle most of the afternoon, and I went out to pick up some supplies for the bike.

That’s when it happened.

I was coming down a side street, and came to a stop sign. I stopped; and there was a four-lane road in front of me; two lane in either direction. I had to go all the way across.
Down the street to my right; a light at the next intersection had turned red, and so all the cars had stopped. Once everyone had stopped, a couple cars to my left stopped and motioned me forward (so that they wouldn’t be blocking my intersection, so I came forward
On my right was a big bus that I couldn’t see around, so I stopped and poked my nose out to see if traffic was coming the opposite direction.
I couldn’t see. I stopped. I inched a little further.
Still nothing. Open road. I stopped. I inched out a little further, and

WHAM. A huge Chevy SUV came barreling out of nowhere and hit the front left side of my car full force. Bumper parts when flying. My car spins 90º. In a panic, the drive of the other car hits their gas pedal, and lurches forward again before slamming on their brakes.

The Mercury coughs and dies, a faint odor coming from under the hood; all of it’s dashboard lights flashing haphazerdly.

I dash from the car to see if the other driver was ok (I felt fine). An round elderly woman is sitting in the SUV with her door half open, clutching her cellphone and shaking. I asked her if she was alright. She didn’t say anything. She begins hollering at whoever was at the other end that she had been hit. I asked he if she need anything. She called someone else.

A traffic officer comes over and tells me I should probably get into my vehicle. People are driving all around us, honking their horns, driving between us to get through the intersection I was in. 4 other times, other people almost got hit.

A crowd gathered. A man in a blue shirt approached me and asked me if I was ok. I said I was.

I got out to look at the car. The entire right wheel was bashed in, the fender inverted, the front end in ruins, and bits of broken headlights and parts of my axle strewn about the road. I grabbed a couple semi-intact parts and threw them in the passenger seat.

I took a look at the SUV. She was still hollering in her phone. There was a chip on the left side of her front bumper.

About then, the cop arrived. He suggested I get back in my car.

A paramedic ran towards me, and asked me if I needed an ambulance. I said no.

A BMW pulled up in the intersection across from where I got hit; a man in an orange shirt got out.

“Do you need a tow?” he asked, looking doubtfully at the car.

The police officer appeared at my window. “Can you drive?” he asked.

“I don’t know.” I replied. I started the car. It was running real rough. I put it in gear and it started to sound like a woodchipper. “I don’t think it will” I said.

The officer nodded, asked me what happened. I told him.

“Do you have the registration?” he asked.

“I just got the car today and…”

“Today?” he rubbed his forehead

“…yeah. My dad and I were just at the MVA trying to figure out the transfer of the title.”

“That’s why it has Connecticut plates?”

“Yeah. The registration is back at my house.”

“Ok.” He walked back to his squad car.

“So you want a tow? My truck is right around the corner.” the man in the orange shirt pointed.

I nodded. Another paramedic came over and asked me to sign something telling them I was refusing an ambulance. He commented the axle looked broken. He asked me how long I had had the car. I told him. He was incredulous. “Wow.” he said. I told him about our other car. “Well, it’s like my father used to say,” he said, “‘If it’s not fleas, it’s ticks.'” He said the woman didn’t want an ambulance either.

I called my dad. I asked him if he had the registration. He said he did. I gave my phone to the officer.

I picked up some more pieces.

A white tow truck showed up. I asked him if he was with the man in the orange shirt. He said no. He said he would wait to see if the other guy showed up.

A firetruck pulled up. A couple firemen got out, talked to the officer, and got back in the truck and drove away.

My dad called me, and said he had AAA. He said they would cover any car he had, and tow it for 3 miles for free. I was less than three miles from home. I told him to go ahead and call them. I gave him my location.

A blue tow truck showed up. I asked him if he was with AAA. He said no. He said he would wait to see if he was needed.

The officer drove around behind me to block traffic; I was in the middle of the road.

I prayed.

I went up to the squad car. I asked the officer if had everything he needed. He said he did. I asked him if I should get the other lady’s insurance. He said that would all be in the report he was filing. I thanked him.

One of the tow trucks drove off; I could see the lady who hit me drove off too.

The man in the orange shirt showed up. I told him I didn’t need him, but thanks anyway.

I called Tamika.

My phone died.

I powered it up again and called her again.

It died again.

I called my house. It didn’t die. I told them to call Tamika and let her know what happened. My dad said he would ride with Tamika to come with the AAA card.

The officer came by and asked if I needed a tow. I said AAA was on their way.

I prayed.

A very drunk man came to my door and gave me a card; telling my his friends owned a mechanic shop around the corner “and could fix this thing like that”, and snapped his fingers.

He stood in the middle of the street and directed blocked traffic, yelling at the idiots wary drivers who honked at him. He laid down on the street and looked under my car. A puddle of oil was escaping from the engine. He got up again and laid down on the other side.

He came back to my window and confessed that he knew nothing about cars, but his friends did.

I powered up my phone, and called the house. Tamika had just arrived, they were on their way.

A AAA van pulled up across the street, and a man wearing a flurescent yellow vest and sunglasses came out.

“Are you ok?” he said.

“Yes. But my car is in trouble.” I said.

“I see that. Don’t worry. The truck will be here soon.

I powered up my phone again, and called Tamika.


The truck showed up, and pulled in front of me. A man named Thomas got out, and began hooking cables underneath the car to pull it up on his lift.

“Do you have your AAA card on you?” he asked.

“No I don’t, it’s my parent’s…” I said, “they’ll be here any minute.”

“Ok…” he faltered, “They need to be here.”

“They will be,” I assured him, powering up my phone again.

He shrugged and got back to work.

The puddle underneath the car had gotten bigger, and because the front right tire had been pushed so far into the car; it wouldn’t turn at all. Despite the oil it was tough to drag onto the back of the truck. Thomas stuck a skid underneath the tire.

The man in the AAA van took my keys and steered (as best he could) while Thomas ran the winch.

Thomas came by “You get ahold of them?” he asked, motioning at my phone.

“No, they’re not picking up.”

“Try again.” He drove his truck off to the side of the road.

I ran to the squad car and thanked the officer.

I tried calling again. My phone died. I ran up and told him so.

“Use mine.” he said, tossing me his.

I powered up my phone just long enough to get the number into his phone. I called.


I called again. Tamika picked up. They had broken down on their way over. She was just past the bridge on the Hilton Parkway. She was frantic. My dad was with her, standing in the median trying to slow people down. Two people had almost hit her already.

Thomas was amazed. He began driving. He asked me where they were. I told them.

Tamika was sitting in the car, the blinkers flashing. My dad was waving his arms frantically, watching people thunder around the corner. I traded places with him, and he went to the truck.

People were driving like maniacs. One lady in a Chevy came within inches of Tamika’s bumper, skidding on the pavement.

Dad directed the truck to come up behind Tamika, and I joined them at the Saturn. My dad had the hood open. I told Tamika to try to start it. We all guessed that it was probably gas. Tamika looked at my painfully.

I asked my dad if there was a gas can in the trunk of the Mercury. The one serious problem with the car was the the gauge was sometime finicky. He said it was.

I vaulted onto the truck and got the can out, then ran back to the car. I poured the whole thing in.

Tamika tried to start the car. Nothing.

Thomas asked if he could try. He let it sit for a second, let out the brake, pushed in the clutch and started it right up.

Tamika got in the car, Thomas and my dad got into the truck, and they followed me home.

Thomas dropped the car in as best he could on our street, but then used his lift like a jack and gently eased the car into place so it wasn’t sticking out into traffic.

We thanked him a lot.

Now, I’m not quite sure what to do. The Saturn is officially a death trap.

Since the lady who hit me had the right of way, I’m not sure who is at fault. She was obviously speeding, and the nose of my car was visible for quite some time poking out from behind the bus. But I don’t know. I’m nervous. People on the street, the officer, and Thomas all told me I should go get checked out at the emergency room. But I’m scared. If her insurance company finds me at fault; I’ll have to pay the medical bills. With the economy the way it is, we really can’t afford that right now.

And now this beautiful car is wrecked. And if her insurance company find me at fault…
Tamika said God has plan. And I know that He does. But it’s hard. I just can’t see it right now…