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.

Our first UVA football game

A few months back I had the pleasure of participating in a fundraiser golf tournament for the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. This is the school from which I earned a Master of Science degree this past summer. One of the prizes that I won was a pair of tickets to attend the Virginia vs. Clemson game yesterday. The tickets I won were suite tickets. I had yet to attend any UVA athletic event, so I felt it was serendipitous that these tickets found their way to my hands.

Barbie and I have both been to suites before (University of Arizona, University of New Mexico, Fedex Field, Camden Yards, Verizon Center, etc.). However, when we were looking online for an image fo the suites at Scott Stadium, we couldn't find anything. So, we prepared ourselves for some exposure to the elements as we weren't sure what to expect. To both of our pleasant surprise, we found ourselves in one of the most spacious athletic suites either of us had ever seen!

The whole experience was fun to watch. The game was good (despite the fact that the Cavaliers lost), the marching band was entertaining, and the UVA football traditions were fun to see. One of those traditions was the raising of the "Power of Orange" flag just behind the hill which a lot of students sit on.

I also got the chance to check out the "sports setting" on our new camera by taking some pictures of players in action on the field. I am very impressed with the zoom capability and the sensor capacity of all of the images below!


Friday, November 21, 2008

So Long, Farewell

Yesterday was a very difficult day for me, almost bittersweet. When I first moved out here, I met a wonderful person at work and we got along from day one. As I got to know her, I learned that she is fluent in Spanish (I did internal cartwheels), and that she has dogs. Of course I offered to dog sit the first time she mentioned going out of town since I love me some doggies.

My first sitting job was with just two dogs, Frannie and Otto. These two dogs are so cute and full of personality. Frannie loves to give kisses and sit by your side while Otto, who sits on the other side of you, occasionally sits up to smile at you. Yes, I said smile at you. It is the most adorable thing to see. Anywho, it was the easiest dog sitting experience I'd ever had. So easy that I said I would do it again in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself. Then came Nathan. =) Oh, that puppy was a handful at first but I could tell he had a kind spirit.

My friend is now moving three hours away to Richmond. I am very happy for her and know this is a great opportunity. I will miss seeing her and the puppies. On the other hand, I now have two reasons to make that three hour drive - visit my friend and Nascar!!!

And it continues to drop

I think this will become a regular event for Barbie and I - tracking the gas prices that we see in Northern Virginia. Last night, Barbie sent me this picture from her cell phone in Leesburg.

I am a firm believer in wagging the dog when appropriate as a negotiation tactic. As always, this is not a blanket statement, but rather one that is situation dependent. So, the actual gas price fluctuation (and corresponding media attention) is interesting - but that is not what has my real interest. My interest is in what else is going on in our collective world that is tangentially related to the cost of fossil fuel. Hmmm.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Like Shooting Ducks

Yesterday was a long day at work for both of us, but at the end of the day we still had time to get some dinner and relax before watching the Caps play last night. The Capitals began a four game west-coast road trip last night. The good news for Barbie and I is that this means that the games start really late so we can watch the start of the game without having to rush away from work. Last night the Caps were in Anaheim where we hope they began a streak that will continue through Los Angeles, San Jose and Minneapolis.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Night Shots

After work tonight I decided to take our new camera out for some night time pictures. This is something that I have been looking forward to trying for a very very long time. I was able to control the amount of light that the camera sensor was exposed to, and as a result I got some really cool images. As a self-diagnosed OCD sufferer I would not consider these anywhere near professional, but I am still very pleased with these capabilities.

Reston Town Center in Reston, VA

Waxpool & Sully Interchange in Dulles, VA

AOL Creative Center 3 in Dulles, VA

Monday, November 17, 2008

Office Pranking a Brigadier General

Yes, you ready that title correctly...well sort of. I helped prank a retired Brigadier General. My SVP at work is a retired US Army "One-Star." Today was his birthday, and he had some personal plans which took him away from the office this afternoon. To celebrate his birthday a few of us decided to decorate his office in Army Men. We placed more than 200 Army Men, paratroopers, bunting, confetti and inflatable guns all over his office.

Despite the fact that this type of pranking is common place in my office, it has also become common place to thank this person for his 28+ years of service in the US Army. So, I don't think anyone will be surprised in the morning, but I do expect a lot of sincere thank you’s to be exchanged.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ahh, winter is coming

We had rain most of the night last night, and all morning today. There is part of my subconscious that was really excited this morning to be able to wear my rain coat out the front door.

Gloomy weather makes me geek out even more than usual, so I found myself this morning checking out Twitter after being shamed by Megan and Mike for not tweeting. It is pretty cool, I set up SMS tweets, and from an RSS feed from my twitter page to include in this blog. In addition to that I found an AIM plug-in that updates m twitter page every time my AIM status changes. Thus far I am not sure if that will be annoying or cool. We will soon see.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Olie's Return to Washington

We both had to work late last night, so we weren't able to make it to the Capitals/Lightning game in Washington. The game was touted as an exciting one even though the NHL season is only several weeks old. The reason for the hype was because during this past off-season the Capitals traded their goalie of 16 years, Olaf Kolzig, to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last night's game was Olie's first time playing in Washington for a team other than the Capitals.

Before the game started, the Capitals front office played a video tribute to Olie thanking him for the previous 16 seasons.

Unfortunately for Olie, that video was the best part of his night as the Capitals scored 3 goals on him in the first period and went on to win 4-2.

Monday, November 10, 2008

As The Leaves Turn...

Today when I came into my office I expected to see the trees outside completely bare with leaves all over the ground. To my surprise, this is what I saw. On Friday these leaves looked like they went from green to brown, today they have taken on more of the autumn colors. Strange, but I guess I assumed that the leaves would follow the pattern of a color spectrum. I guess you do learn something new everyday!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Capturing Life's Moments

Yesterday we got our first DSLR camera. I am a proud technophile, and an admitted gadget freak. So the fact that I had not yet owned a DSLR camera has been a bit embarrassing. However, as a final wedding present to each other Barbie and I picked-up a good starter kit yesterday morning. Maddie volunteered to be my first model as I learned some of the features of the camera.

We then moved upstairs for a different pose. Okay, maybe the events weren't as coordinated and deliberate as I am making them out to be. I think I went up to check something out, and Maddie as a faithful companion joined me. When we got upstairs, she took a seat in the massage chair (as she often does) to wait for me to go back downstairs. Before I left the office, I had to take a couple pictures of Maddie as she sat upright like a person in that chair.