Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tragedy at the Baltimore Aquarium

**Just a warning, you might want a tissue**

In April, two dolphin calves were born at the Baltimore Aquarium. But now, not even three months old yet, they have both died in the same week.

The calves, one male and one female, were born to half-sisters Spirit and Maya. Both were first time mothers. Although the new mothers did need a bit of help learning how to nurse their babies, they did get the hang of it, and the calves seemed to be adjusting well. The male calf, who was two weeks younger, seemed to be shy and stick with his mother, Maya, while the female was much more independent and curious.

The dolphin show, which features the older dolphins, was changed to incorporate the calves, but not stress them out. The music was quieter, the crowd was encouraged to be as quiet as possible, and most of the noisier tricks were replaced with video footage of the babies at birth and the days after. The babies had begun to play together, opening their mouths when they saw each other, and they would also rub their flippers together, which is the dolphin way of holding hands. They had also begun to vocalize with clicks and "eeps." They had yet to be named.

*Shane and I actually saw the babies for the first time last weekend, just days before the first was found dead. They were adorable and seemed so happy. They were having a great time playing with a toy in the pool, helping each other trying to carry it around by the rope attached to it. *

The male dolphin was found last Tuesday. His mother was trying to revive him, carrying him to the surface so he could breathe, and trying to nurse him. The female died the following Saturday as the aquarium's medical workers tried to rescue her.

The aquarium staff is not sure of the cause of death for the two babies. Unfortunately, even when bred in captivity, dolphin calves have a 33% mortality rate, meaning that one in three don't survive their first year. A total of 14 calves have been born in Baltimore since 1992, and of those, five died within the first year, and two more died as juveniles. Although the aquarium staff had the two new calves under nearly 24/7 surveillance, it seems that nothing could have prevented this tragedy. The staff don't expect to resume breeding the dolphins anytime soon.

*I think this whole thing is just pitiful. I didn't realize that dolphins had such a low chance of survival, even if born at the aquarium. I can't even imagine what a difficult time this has been for the mother dolphins, as well as the staff at the aquarium. *

Monday, June 20, 2011

The best days are spontaneous ones.

The thing I think I like the most about Baltimore is the fact that you can wake up in the morning with zero expectations or plans for the day, and end up having a great time. Saturday started out with me saying I wanted to go to the Aquarium (seasons passes are the best invention ever. Thanks Debbie and Steve!). It turned out we weren't the only ones taking advantage of a beautiful day.

 In case you haven't heard (which is 99.9% of you), Baltimore is hosting their first ever Grand Prix this year over Labor Day weekend. Not sure why they decided to do it, but it sounds pretty awesome to me. When else can you see Indy Cars racing through downtown? Anyways, it seems that they have decided to get in a little community involvement/promotion through City Sand 2011, an annual sand sculpting contest.

(click on any picture that you want to see bigger)
 This one was the "official" sand sculpture they had out front.

I'm sorry, but doesn't this little guy make you feel sorta uncomfortable? His face, that spraying champagne bottle, those "lovely ladies" at his feet? Kinda creeps me a bit. 

They had six teams of architects and designers competing for the best Grand Prix themed sculpture. 

Shane's favorite: Horse Power

This is the one I voted for...downtown Baltimore which eventually got more details and a racetrack added to it. I liked their ambition, just because I know what a pain in the butt it must've been to make all those buildings.

 If I had two votes, this would've gotten the other one. If you read my last post, hopefully you get who she is supposed to be ;)
 Looking back on it, I probably should've voted for them. It really represented Baltimore and the Grand Prix without being quite so on the nose. Oh well, no use worrying about it now!

 The whole vibe down at the Harbor is so awesome. Okay so it's really touristy. That's fine by me! As far as I'm concerned, I'm a really enthusiastic tourist on a rather long vacation.
Maybe one day when it's not hot as h*ll, Shane and I will take a ride in one of those Nessie boats. It doesn't look hot in this picture, in fact the sun's not even out, but trust me, I was practically running to get in the sweet sweet AC in the Aquarium.

 Don't these people look like they're having so much fun?!

 I'm not going to bore you with all of my Aquarium photos, but if you're really interested, you can check them out on my facebook.
We just got a new camera, and I'm still learning to use it...so most of the pictures I took turned out super blurry :( some of them came out pretty cool though!

 I loved these adorable tiny tree frogs! Precious! 

After we left the Aquarium, we spotted some people planking by the fountain. We just had to creep on them and get a picture haha. 

Took FOREVER for the Light Rail to come pick us up! We got so bored we had time to go get some dinner at Lenny's. Looks like the Baltimore police had noting better to do either (in case you can't tell, that's 3 cruisers, 5 motorcycles). 

 Once we finally got on the Light Rail, I remembered that day was the big day of Baltimore Pride 2011. We had already missed the parade, but still had plenty of time to make it to the party!  It was really fun, and I'm glad Shane and I got to go.
 The emcees for the day. 

 It was so crowded! There was hardly room to walk around (and this picture only shows a tiny portion of the booths and people!). There was just about any sort of food  you could want, plus drinks, and vendors selling tshirts, jewelry, etc.
 Everybody seemed to be having a really good time, except for a couple of guys I saw who were wearing leather pants and vests. Sure they were smiling on the outside, but you know on the inside they had to be wishing they had stuck with some breathable cotton in that heat.

They even had some burlesque dancers. In case you couldn't tell, this one was Jetsons themed. 

Shane + furries + random guy + sandwich guy = a pretty interesting photo if you ask me! The best part is this was right next to the Animal Rescue booth.

Overall, I'd say it was a pretty awesome day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How 'bout dem O's, Hon?

This weekend, Shane and I got to experience two staples of Baltimorean culture...an Orioles game and HONFest.

Shane has been to an Orioles game before, but this was my very first time at a real life, actual baseball game. I don't really know much about baseball either. The game we went to was the second in the three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. That was something I just learned about when I moved up here...I never realized just how many games a MLB team plays in a regular season! Each team plays 162 games, and the games run in series (like for example, this weekend the O's played the Rays on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).

**Sidenote: isn't it grammatically incorrect to write "O's?" Shouldn't it be "Os?" I know they do it the first way for aesthetics, but now it's really going to bother me. I don't know how I *just now* noticed that. **

We went with Shane's company, and got to go to the Bullpen Picnic before the game, where they had hot dogs, barbecue, chips and cookies, etc., plus all the soda and beer you could drink. That part was actually a hassle because so many people were rushing the bar for beer, it took me nearly 15 minutes just to get a Sprite.

Anyways, at the picnic, we got to meet the Oriole bird (honestly I think that's really it's name, you would think they could come up with something a little more creative)
You might ask yourself..."what is up with that dude on her shirt?" Well, friends, that is none other than "Steady" Eddie Murray, #33, 1977 Rookie of the Year, All Star player, Golden Glove and Silver Slugger Winner, and Member of the Nat'l Baseball Hall of Fame, regarded as one of the best switch hitters of all time.

Now you're probably wondering how I know all that...well I saw the shirt at the mall, thought it was cool, and figured if I was going to wear some guy's face to the game, I might as well Wikipedia him so I could sound halfway knowledgeable ;)

Jared and Shane

 Shane with a coworker's son. Shane caught a baseball for him during batting practice.

 It  is still so amazing to me that we live in a city like Baltimore. Sitting there in the stands, the skyline almost looked fake.

Bases loaded! Let's Go O's (or Os, whatever)!

I'll admit, I was really looking forward to the baseball game (my mom asked me on the phone what Shane had to do to make me go haha) but it was a little less, exciting I guess, than I had expected. The thing about baseball seems to be that you're sitting there, talking or whatever, and the team just so happens to be playing baseball down on the field. It's not like football or basketball where there are buzzers and announcers to grab your attention. You really have to pay attention to what's going on, or you don't know what's going on. It's hard to explain, and maybe it's just me, but it was really hard for me to hold interest in the game.

The Rays ended up beating the Orioles 7-5, which was disappointing but unfortunately kinda expected. At press time (which is as soon as I hit "publish"), the Orioles have 30 wins and 33 losses. I don't know what happened, they started out the season really strong, but have lost it somewhere along the way. 

Now HONFest, that's a whole 'nother story (lucky for you, this is a two-in-one post!) "Hon" is the nickname given to the working women of the 1950s-70s (not the hooker sort of working women, but secretaries, teachers, etc.) who wore colorful clothes, cat's eye glasses, beehive hairdos, etc., and speak with a very distinctive accent. "Baltimore" sounds like "Baldimore" or "Bawlmer" and "Maryland" becomes "Merlin." Think of John Travolta's character in "Hairspray" and that will give you a good idea of what they were like. In fact, HONFest opened with a rendition of "Good Morning Baltimore."

HONFest, which is in it's 18th year this year, is a street festival whose purpose is to celebrate that part of Baltimore culture and heritage. (There is a bit of controversy surrounding this year's festival, since the owner of Cafe Hon trademarked the word "hon" last year, if you're interested, click here to read more about it).

HONFest. It's kind of a big deal. 

Many HONFest visitors dress up in outfits, and hairdos!, reminiscent of the Hons.

Elvis serenading this year's Best Hon.

 The Hon Boutique, where you can buy your beehive wigs and cat's eye glasses (also part of the controversy).

a group of Hons

 You could even get your hair done like a Hon!

I have probably said this a million times, but I am so glad that Shane and I get to experience so many cool things while we are living up here in Baltimore. It seems like there is always something going on, especially now that the weather is so nice. I guess you could say we never get bored, and if we do, we're doing something wrong, and probably missing something cool downtown!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stuck in a rut

I need to get out of this "once a week, only on Wednesdays" rut. Get your minds out of the gutter...I'm talking about blogging. I have so many things that I think would make great (okay, somewhat decent) blogs, but then I forget all about them by the time Wednesday night rolls around. Take for example, two weekends ago...

 I found this really awesome place on the list of 30 free things to do in Baltimore. It's called "The Book Thing" and it is a completely free bookstore!
Yep, you read that right! All the books are absolutely free! The Book Thing was started by a group of teachers who needed more books for their classrooms but had limited budgets. Today it is driven solely by donations and volunteers, and let me tell you, this place was a lot bigger than I expected.

One tiny section of The Book Thing

Me with my new (to me) books. 
 They're mostly French books. Relearning French is one of my life goals (blog post coming soon! about the life goals, not the French. That might take a while)

Public Service Announcement: It is a wonderful idea to have a set of jumper cables in the trunk of your car.  I have used mine at least 15 times. If you don't have a set, then you have to wait around for a good Samaritan (like me and Shane) to help you jump start your car...
...unless you're just out of gas, which turned out to be this lady's real problem.

If you need another sort of help, more of a 'divine intervention,' then I guess you should check out this Hare Krishna festival down at the Inner Harbor. (We didn't actually go to this, because parking was $22. However, we did take lots of pictures while driving by.)

I'm pretty sure that Hare Krishnas are all vegetarians/vegans, so I imagine they must be serving up some pretty tasty roots or leaves or whatever vegans eat for the amount of people who were in line for the "free feast."

 I know virtually nothing about Hare Krishnas (a later Wikipedia search did nothing to help that either, that stuff is really confusing to read about), but I'm guessing reincarnation is part of it, considering that is what most all of the booths were.
One, which I so wish I had a picture of, was called "Your New Body: A Multimedia Experience." 

The more I look at that picture above, the more weird it feels to me. I don't know if it is because I have been staring at it for the past 10 minutes, but it sorta seems like they should have little booths in there to swap you out for a new body right on the spot. Anybody else get that feeling, or am I just going crazy?

Since we're on the theme of Hare Krishnas, whenever someone mentions them (which I'll admit is not often) this is what comes to mind for me...

That seems to be enough rambling for now. G'night!