Monday, December 22, 2008

Guitar Hero - I Rock!

Oh yeah, I rock! While Zack and Maddie were on the couch surfing the web, I was playing Guitar Hero. I was playing so well, that I got 3 perfect scores playing the lead guitar! Check these out.

About A Girl by Nirvana

Obstacle 1 by Interpol

What I've Done by Linkin Park

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Night Browsing

I was doing my Sunday evening web browsing like usual tonight. Barbie was sitting on the couch next to me playing Guitar Hero (Totally Rocking out by the way!) Madison was moving between the two of us as she napped.

Anyway, I stumbled across the image below:

I must say that I was taken aback by the clarity in the image. I assume that this image was created in something like Illustrator or anther advanced application that can handle layers or vectors. However, that doesn't mean that it is any less impressive. So impressive, that I felt it deserved to be shared on our blog. :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Earlier tonight Barbie and I made some wonderful comfort food. We made calabacitas. Calabacitas is a Mexican dish that holds a special place in Barbie's heart. It is one of those dishes that gives her comfort in making it as well as eating it. To my own amazement, this is a dish that is full of flavors that I love and is vegetarian. For those of you who know Barbie and I, you too are probably amazed at the fact that we love calabacitas. This is one of the first dishes that Barbie ever made for me, and every time she does she lets me help a little more each time. At this rate, I think I will be able to make it for her in entirety sometime near mid-2012. ;-)

In all seriousness, Barbie and I decided to share our recipe with everyone here. However, we both believe in following a recipe to the letter once and then after that modifications are fair game. So, feel free to experiment to your personal taste. This dish is 70% preparation and 30% execution with only one pot used.

Our recipe starts with:

2 yellow squash
2 green squash (zucchini)
1 medium size yellow onion
1 can sweet corn
2 medium tomatoes
3 ounces of NM green chile
2 tablespoons of butter
2 ounces of sliced mozzarella cheese



Start by chopping both the green and yellow squash into 1/4 inch pieces. When done put these aside for use later.

Next, cut the onion into a a fine dice. Barbie likes this done as fine as possible so that she gets the full flavor of the onion without biting into it. When done put the onion into the pot.

Next, cut the tomatoes and green chile into a small dice. When done add them to the the pot along with the onion.

Next, add the butter to the pot and turn your stove on set to a medium flame. Saute the ingredients until the onions become translucent.

As soon as the onions are clear, add the entire can of corn (be sure to drain it first). Stir the ingredients for a couple minutes until the corn has come up to temperature. Then, add the squash to the pot and combine all of the ingredients. Cover the pot and let cook for 15 minutes.

*One thing to note, your cooking time may vary depending on how thick or thin you cut your squash. The thinner your pieces, the faster it will cook. Be sure to keep an eye on your pot.

After 15 minutes, stir the ingredients again to verify that they are well incorporated and the ensure that everything is cooking evenly. Remove the cover to allow any condensation to evaporate and cook an additional 5 minutes.

While the pot is cooking, cut the mozzarella cheese into thin slices.

Finally, place the cheese slices into the pot so that they melt evenly. Allow the cheese to melt by continuing to cook for 5 more minutes uncovered.


When done, the cheese will have melted down so that it almost appears to be a cream in the bottom of the pot. As you serve it, the cheese will cool and begin to coagulate bringing the entire mixture of ingredients together.


You can serve this dish as a side to a protein, or you can serve it as an entree like we sometimes do. Last night we ate the calabacitas with a side of japapeno cheese bread.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Drop It Like It's Hot!

Wow! Gas prices in Northern Virginia continue to drop. Today was a red letter day for both Barbie and I. We were both able to fill up our cars for less than $20 each at gas stations very close to home. I remember 10-15 years ago when gasoline process in the winter used to drop because of the ethanol additive. Now, I think that ethanol actually may raise the price of fuel because the price of corn is so high. If I am correct, we may see a continued reduction on the cost of fuel in to the summer!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Patiently Waiting

Tonight while we were waiting for dinner to finish cooking I was playing with our camera in the living room. As usual Madison became the subject of my shooting and I captured the image below. I love the way that she just sat in front of her pile of toys waiting for me to give her the attention that I had been giving the camera.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Memory Indices

I have found that most of my most vivid memories are triggered by smell. Sometimes I will notice a strong, unique or very pleasant smell and I will instantly find my mind flooded with memories of things that I experienced with similar smells. This rarely happens with my other four senses. However, there is one notable exception. The lights in this picture hang on the wall above our living room (just below the loft).
I have had these lights for almost 8 years. This is quite a feat when you consider that I bought them for less than $20 from Ikea! Often when I look up at them I have a very vivid memory come to mind from the late 1990's.

I recall meeting a new friend named Kevin who had recently moved to New Mexico from Virginia. At that time Kevin and I worked together and I went over to his house to hand out with some friends. Kevin had been in town for less than a year, but he was able to get himself settled in his house and had everything unpacked and put away. When I walked into his place I vividly remember looking past the foyer to a wall that had these really cools wire lights hanging vertically on the wall that were illuminating some pictures next to them.

At that time, I had never seen lights like this in someone's home. Kevin thought I was strange because I kept asking him about them. He laughed and told me that they have the stores in Virginia with strange stuff like these lights in them called Ikea. I had never heard of Ikea at that time, so I had no idea what kind of store he was talking about. Skipping forward, a couple years later I moved to Virginia. As I was getting settled into my first apartment, I remembered those lights from Kevin's home and I HAD to find and Ikea to see how much those lights were. A short 40 minute drive and $20 later, I had a set of these lights in my possession.

As with most Ikea electrical purchases, it took me a lot longer to set these up than it should have. I think it was at least 2 hours to set them up the first time. In any case, I have lived in 4 places since then, and these lights have come with me through all of them. And with each place, as I set them up I think of Kevin's place in New Mexico where I saw them for the first time.

I don't know what's stranger. The fact that I have such a vivid memory from a simple object - or - the fact that something from Ikea has lasted this long. :-)

Friday, December 12, 2008


Like most people who watch the economy, I have been keenly watching real estate prices over the past couple of years. I moved to Northern Virginia at a time when the real estate market was just beginning to reach a high-alpha trajectory. In hind-sight that would have been the optimal time to buy into the market (had several thousand other variables been aligned correctly). Alas, that was not the case and I watched the markets surge and many people made a lot of money as their homes values increased.

Then the a fore mentioned trajectory plateaued and began to drop. Then I saw many of those same people clamber to sell their property to "cash out" of their investments. Some were able to, while others were not. As those prices began to drop, a lot of web-sites were launched with the aim of helping people sell their homes in a buyers market. Zillow was the first one that caught my eye and was truly a web2.0 initiative. The usefulness of that site was debatable, but the concept of blending so many data sources into one was something that resonated genious with me.

As I was eating breakfast this morning I saw a reference to Redfin which is another real estate site that has simmilar qualities to Zillow. Redfin however, seems to have spent alot more time in researching how the site would be used than thier predecsessor. I love the user interface on Redfin, and I forsee alot of time wasting being spent there in my future. :-D

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Foggy Night

Today's weather was a welcome anomaly. After weeks of low temperatures in the low 20's and highs in the low 40's, we woke up this morning to 50+ degree temperatures. The high today was 64! The only thing that had some people complaining was the fact that it rained all night last night and all day today. This picture was taken as I was walking into the parking garage. it is a picture of the stairwell which has metal sheets on the outside corners. These metal sheets are covered in small holes (roughly 1/4 inch wide).

All of the humidity in the air tonight made these sheets look like they were frosted glass when the light was behind them. It was very cool.

I also love foggy weather, and there was some nice heavy fog as we drove home tonight. I don't know why I like that, but I absolutely do! Maybe it's the added danger of not being able to see farther than a few hundred feet in the dark, maybe it's the element of "visual isolation" that seems like silence for my eyes, or maybe it's just the fact that the cool moist air feels good on my face. No matter what it is, I always seem to have a little extra spring in my step when it is foggy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chuck Norris Facts

  • If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars, Chuck Norris has more money than you.

  • There is no ‘ctrl’ button on Chuck Norris’s computer. Chuck Norris is always in control.

  • Apple pays Chuck Norris 99 cents every time he listens to a song.

  • Chuck Norris can sneeze with his eyes open.

  • Chuck Norris can eat just one Lay’s potato chip.

  • Chuck Norris is suing Myspace for taking the name of what he calls everything around you.

  • Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.

  • Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.

  • When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

  • Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

  • There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.

  • Outer space exists because it’s afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris.

  • Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

  • Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

  • Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.

  • Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.

  • There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.

  • When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.

  • Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.

  • Chuck Norris’ hand is the only hand that can beat a Royal Flush.

  • Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.

  • Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.

  • Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.

  • Chuck Norris does not get frostbite. Chuck Norris bites frost!

  • Remember the Soviet Union? They decided to quit after watching a DeltaForce marathon on Satellite TV.

  • Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy, it is a Chucktatorship.

  • More Chuck Norris facts

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    Bridges, Buildings, Planes and Stars

    As I was leaving work tonight, I noticed an interesting display of light. The building lights, bridge lights, airplane lights and stars resulted in a beautiful display that made me stop and take notice. I took the picture below with my Blackberry in hopes that it would capture everything. It got most of it, but most of the stars were lost. It was still a beautiful sight that will be a lasting memory anyway.

    I think of this image and can't help but realize that in 6 months it will take another 3 hours for the sun to set. Gotta love nature...or physics....or whatever. :-)

    Thursday, December 4, 2008

    The Lights Are Up!

    After two days of work, we finally finished hanging our modest holiday light display. Since we live in an apartment on the third floor, our display options were limited. However, we had a 22 foot high window to work with so we came up with a three color display that maximized our footprint.

    The most expensive purchase that we had to make in order for this display to come to fruition was a 26 foot ladder to hand the lights in our living room. >We also put up a few lights inside the kitchen. Since we are both from the southwest, we had to go with the obligatory chili pepper lights. Yes, they are corny but in a weird way they also make us feel comfortable. Ahh. :-)

    Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    The Christmas Spirit is Spreading

    And the holiday spirit has arrived at work. This morning when we got into work we were greeted with Christmas Trees. This kind of surprised me since so many company activities are being cut-back as a result of the current down-turn in on-line advertising. This is the first time in my 11 years here that we will not have a big blow-out holiday party for employees and their families at an off-site hotel/resort.

    Instead we are simply having a short "holiday celebration" in one of the larger auditoriums on campus. Because it is on-campus and will start in the late afternoon, the event is not open to anyone other than employees.

    All that aside, I was shocked when I saw the Christmas trees arrive since the company rents them each year rather than buying them and storing them for 11 months out of the year. So, I wonder if the appearance of the trees was a conscious action made by someone or an oversight by forgetting to cancel the holiday decorating services. Eh, either way it was nice to see some holiday spirit arrive.

    Now I wonder if any presents will magically arrive under these trees...that would be AWE...(wait for it)...SOME! As I read what I am typing I think the Christmas Spirit is taking hold of me too. Now I need to grab my copy of "A Christmas Story" and watch Ralphie's quest for a Red Rider BB Gun.

    Monday, December 1, 2008

    Playing With DSLR Imaging

    After work today I decided to play with our camera on my way home. The first picture was taken on Loudoun County Parkway just past Redskins Park. I think it's interesting that I never noticed these utility poles until I began looking for something to take a picture of.

    Maryland in the background, with our apartment complex in the foreground. The Potomac River separates Virginia from Marlyand and it lies in the bottom of the valley just on the other side of the building.

    The building in the background of this picture is part of the George Washington University. I was trying to see how the camera would handle three depths of focus. The tree is close, the tractor is mid-distance, and the building is far. I am very pleased with how this came out.

    This fountain is the centerpiece of a new office park that is under construction near our home.

    While looking at the fountain I saw this tree. It caught my eye because it looks like it is imprisoned inside of harsh elements (stone and metal) and yet it is still growing. I am sure there is a metaphor in there somewhere.

    Sunday, November 30, 2008

    Was that a power surge this weekend?

    If you experienced a "brown-out" this weekend it wasn't a power surge. It was probably your city breaking out the holiday decorations like ours. This weekend culminated with the city of Washington pulling it's lights out of storage to put them on display again. This picture is of one of my father's favorite DC landmarks - Union Station.

    Hey, wait a second. We did that same thing tonight. Well, sorta. We began to hang Christmas lights in our apartment this weekend as well. However, most of what we put up were new lights, rather than old ones that were in storage, but hey we can still say we did it. We have to get a couple more items to complete our "holiday display" this week, but as soon as it is done we will share a picture of it.

    Friday, November 28, 2008

    Black Friday...Been There, Done That

    As we went to sleep on Thanksgiving night, I jokingly asked Barbie if she wanted to head out to the outlet mall for their midnight madness sale. The stores there were opening at midnight with some early-bird specials. Barbie (as usual) reminded me that after working in the retail industry in Tucson for years, she could not think of any sale that would make her want to go anywhere near a mall on Thanksgiving weekend. We both giggled and went to bed.

    We started our Black Friday by sleeping in, then played some Wii games, and then began to contemplate lunch options. We decided to go to Fuddruckers so that we could have some avocado bacon cheeseburgers. After lunch, Barbie actually suggested that we check out the mall to see what was going on. So, I quickly said yes, jumped in the car with her and we rushed over to Dulles Town Center. I was surprised at how smooth moving the traffic was on the way there, but as we approached the door, it was obvious that the congestion we were expecting was going to be seen as soon as we got inside. After a couple hours there we agreed that despite the sales we saw, we could find nothing that made any money begin to burn in our pockets.

    Then Barbie shocked me again by asking if I wanted to go to Tyson’s Corner Center to see what was going on at that mall. This time I had to double check to make sure that she was serious. When I realized that she was we jumped back in the car and drove 13 miles to one of the largest malls in the country. This time, the congestion was seen before we got anywhere near the building as it took 20 minutes to make the trip from the first mall to the second one, but it then took an additional 45 minutes to get into the parking structure and find a spot to leave the car. The one thing that we didn’t expect was the lack of congestion inside the mall once we got inside. Go figure, eh?

    Anyway, after helping to push the economy a bit, we headed home to relax for the night, and reflect on the experience of participating in the Black Friday experience.

    Thursday, November 27, 2008

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Happy Turkey Day to all of our friends and family who read our blog!

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Guitar Hero World Tour

    Ahh yes, we have officially joined the band wagon with our Wii and we are loving it! Just like Alex Rodriguez, Tony Hawk, Micheal Phelps and Kobe Bryant, we have begun to rock out in our living room.

    Tonight we purchased Guitar Hero World Tour. If you don't know what this is, it's one of those guitar playing video games that are all of the the Black Friday ads. The one we purchased is the fourth version of the Guitar Hero brand. It came with a drum kit, guitar and microphone (neither of us have any desire to even plug in the microphone).

    This game is so much fun - and we just got it. Barbie tends to like the guitar, where I prefer the drum kit, Maddie is nothing more than a very affectionate groupie at this point, but hey we couldn't ask for anything more from her.

    Peace Out! (a little early)

    With hopes of getting a headstart on some Black Friday shopping I ducked out of work a little early today. I was stealthily moving down the halls, into the elevator, all that jazz when I found the scene to the left in the parking garage at 2:15. Apparently I was not the only person trying to get a jump on the long weekend! So much for feeling guilty. :-)

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Four Christmases

    Tonight we were able to take part in a unique charity event that supported St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. AOL often uses relationships with the TimeWarner companies to get advanced screenings of Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema and HBO movies. Tonight Warner Brothers gave AOL access to Four Christmases. AOL then used the film as a method to raise donations for St. Jude's. Employees "bought" tickets to the movie buy making cash donations to a St. Jude's PR executive. For the good deed of making a donation, the theater then gave each ticket holder a coupon for free popcorn and soda.

    The move was great. It is the story of a couple who has been dating for a three years and they both come from divorced parents. As a result they haven't spent a Christmas with their families since they began dating because they didn't want to deal with the stresses of splitting the holiday with multiple family members. Instead they would vacation during the holiday season and lie to their families by telling them that they are performing charity work which is the excuse for not spending time with their families. The movie begins with this years vacation plans crashing down as their flight to Fiji is canceled due to fog, and they are caught on camera at the airport by a local news crew. At that point, they have to come clean with their families and spend time with all four parents.

    Barbie and I found so much humor in this movie, because the task of choosing which parent to spend holidays with is something that we know will be difficult. We both hope that we are able to laugh as hard next year as we did watching this movie.

    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Wild Asparagus But-R-Creme

    Oh yes, you read the title correctly. Every time we are in Sam's Club we walk by the bakery area and see the Butter Cream tubs and laugh. We laugh because of the phonetically spelled name. Today was the first time we saw this green color and the color description "Wild Asparagus." We laughed so hard when we saw the name that we had to share it. The funniest part is that the fine print actually says "Artificially Flavored"...thank goodness!

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    A record low price for gas

    Yes, this is another gas price update. We had a 2 hour drive to and from Charlottesville yesterday to see the football game. During that drive we were both paying attention to the gas prices along the way in hopes of paying the lowest price for gas on our way home. On the way down, we saw several stations advertising $1.73/gallon which was the lowest either of us had seen in years. So, on our way back we were looking for one of those stations when we came upon this one in Gainesville. For now, this price will be the measurement by which all other gas stations will be measured.

    In the shadow of Jefferson

    After the football game at Scott Stadium, we decided to walk over to Jefferson's Academical Village so that we could take some pictures before heading home. The last time we were here together I had just started Grad School and I had yet to propose to Barbie.

    There are several secret societies that exist at the University of Virginia. One of the most prominent is the Z Society. You can see Z's painted on the steps of many of the buildings around the grounds. We were taking pictures of the north steps of the Rotunda when I saw Barbie walking past one of the Z logos and I had to take this picture as she is now officially part of what I call "the Z Unit" since we are now married.

    Some of the other secret societied include the Seven Society and the IMP Society.