Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I can honestly say that I didn’t mind being stuck in Detroit for an extra few hours because that airport was simply amazing. I hadn’t been to the Detroit Mid-Field airport in more than 15 years, and since that last visit they have completely re-modeled everything. Not only was the terminal super clean, but the design was like nothing I had ever seen.
Like most large airports, Detroit Mid-Field has a train system to move people long distances. However as you can see in this image, this train shares the same open space as the passengers on foot. It is elevated above the gate area and since it is an electro-magnetic train it is virtually silent.
Another element that I truly enjoyed about this airport was that everything was in one long terminal. Yes, it could be a very long walk from one end to the other, but that is where the train comes into play. The train system consists of one train only with 2 cars. It travels from one end to the other with a stop in the middle where the security egress exists. When it get’s to an end, it just heads back the other direction.
The Detroit Mid-Field airport is an exercise in the beauty of simplicity.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Greg is currently stationed at Naval Base Kitsap, which I understand is a Submarine base. However, when we drove in we noticed several aircraft carriers just before we entered the gate. On the way back to my Mom’s house we stopped to take some pictures of the 5 aircraft carriers we saw.
Most of the carriers we could see looked like they were being prepared for mothballing since only one had it’s hull number still on the island. The one that we could make out the hull number on is below and it is CVN-72, named the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Seeing CVN-72 was very special for me as it is a Nimitz class carrier and Barbie’s niece, Bianca, is currently deployed in the Arabian Sea on the USS Nimitz.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
While visiting Zabrina and Greg we got to meet their new sons, Xavier and Xander. Twins who were born just a few days before our arrival. We also got to see their older brother Tomas who was now at the ripe old age of 18 months. This was the first time I have ever held more than one baby at once, so it was quite something for me to experience. Barbie, on the other hand seemed quite comfortable holding a pair of new born babies as you can see here.
In all reality, these were some of the quietest babies I have ever seen. Barbie and Mery laughed when I said this to them as they both reminded me that babies don’t really make a lot of noise until they get into the “terrible twos”.
Yeah, yeah, but even with that, these boys were very sweet and calm and quiet. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I can say for certain that it was not what I expected.
As impressed as I was with the twins (I refer to them as them X-Men), what was even more amazing to me was how Tomas behaved. He didn’t seem to be jealous at all of the attention that the twins were getting. Tomas is just learning how to walk (I think I saw him get 4 steps a couple times before falling), so he is fairly mobile. Even when he would come to an adult who was holding one of the twins, he would be very careful when he got near them. He would even kiss them on the forehead. Simply amazing, I tell you.
We also got to visit with PK who at 9 years-old has moved from the baby of the family to one of the oldest children in less than 2 years. PK seemed very comfortable in his role as a “big” brother. We hadn’t seen PK since Zabrina and Greg’s wedding two years ago, and I must say that there is a big difference between a 7 year-old and a 9 year-old. I had fun letting PK play with my iPhone and Barbie enjoyed playing with him on our netbook. Everyone had a great time.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Like most families, Barbie’s family has several Christmas Food Traditions. And we love two of them in particular. The first is Tamales! This is a common Christmas tradition among Hispanic communities, and part of the experience is the effort involved in making them. The process is so complicated, that typically tamales are made in huge quantities to maximize the output for the work expended.
This picture was taken not long after we arrived as a batch of frozen tamales which were made a couple days earlier were put into a put to begin cooking as part of Christmas dinner.
The second tradition is Mexican Wedding cookies! Yummy. These are so addictive, but so work totally pigging out on. When we arrived, this batch was already done and sitting in a covered bowl. However, I think I started a trend of uncovering the bowl and sneaking cookies out when Mery wasn’t looking. :-)
In the early afternoon on Christmas day we made the 2 hour drive to Naval Base Kitsap to visit Zabrina, Greg and Barbie’s Mom, Mery. The drive was not too difficult and as soon as we arrived the hugging began!
We arrived just before Christmas dinner was ready to be served, so Zabrina and Greg’s house was full of anticipation and energy. We got to visit with both of them and with Mery as they finished preparing the Ham and Turkey.
We hadn’t seen Zabrina or Mery since our wedding, and we hadn’t seen Greg in more than 2 years since his wedding to Zabrina. A lot of catching-up was done among the three of us.
We were also surprised to find that Zabrina’s daughter, CZ and her husband Connor were in town from San Diego visiting as well. We hadn’t seen them since Zabrina and Greg’s wedding, but more notably we hadn’t seen them since they got married themselves!
The trip from my Mom’s place to Zabrina’s has an interesting half way mark: Galloping Gertie. Ever heard of it? If not, you may know it as the Tacoma Narrows Span. Sound familiar? If not, it is the bridge that most of us saw film of when we were in high school science class where a bridge was shaken apart by the wind. Yes, that bridge. Although, as you can tell by the image below, the bridge we saw was much more stable and beautiful that the one we saw from 1940.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
It was nice to spend a some time with my Mom and Sher for the holidays. It was the first time we got to spend any time with each other since Barbie and I got married. We spent some time visiting with extended family, played a few throw-down games of Uno, and had a great holiday dinner on Christmas Eve together.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I have been coming to Seattle to visit family for nearly 30 years. Even now, when I see Mount Rainier (or Mother Rainier as some native Americans call it) I am in awe. Below is a picture that Barbie took of the mountain, and it simply does not do justice to the size of it.
Mount Rainier is more than 13,000 feet tall, and is the highest peak in the Cascade Mountains. It is actually higher than K2 (although by less than 100 feet). It is so high, that the peak has it’s own weather system that many people believe can be used to predict the weather in Seattle 3 or 4 days later. Crazy!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
After finally arriving in Seattle and getting to my Mom and Sher’s house we crashed hard and slept for 10 hours. By the end of our first day visiting we had told tons of stories and had several bouts of laughter. We also found that my Mom and Sher’s dog, Avi, was quite photogenic as you can see in the image below:
Monday, December 21, 2009
Shortly after boarding our plane, we were told that the pre-flight check had revealed a problem with some type of a static line and that we would all need to de-plane while it was worked on.
While we were waiting, we were told that the airline didn’t have any spare static lines in Dulles, and that it would not be until tomorrow before another one could be flown in. So, the only alternative was to contact the aircraft manufacturer in Brazil to determine if the plane was still “flight safe” with the damaged static line.
In the end, the aircraft manufacturer gave the plane the green light to fly and we left Dulles 6 hours later than scheduled. The irony is that we had a 6 hour delay to change nothing…just to get confirmation that we could fly. Oh well, better safe than sorry.
After two feet of snow, and the the plows hadn’t made it to the driveway we needed to ensure we could escape the confines of the snow to get to the airport.
So, Barbie decided to film my late night attempt to free the E! Once again, the weight distribution and torque management of the Element came through. On the first attempt I was able to escape.
In case you are wondering why the windshield wipers are up, that is something that we do to prevent them from freezing to the windshield when temps drop below freezing. :-)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Every once in a while I realize that I have been taking something for granted without realizing it. Today I realized that one of those things was the knowledge of what it is like to get ready for and play in deep snow. Well, when the snow stopped falling and Barbie said she wanted to go play in it I suddenly became aware that she didn’t have the same knowledge that I had when it came to deep snow. :-)
So, after getting both of us wrapped up in our winter gear we ventured out into snow that was up to our hips. Barbie immediately found the snow to be fun to play in as you can tell by the smile on her face.
Part of the knowledge that I took for granted included how difficult it can be to stand up in deep snow if you fall down. In the picture below Barbie was in the process of figuring that out herself.
By the end of our time playing in the snow, we had been outside for just over an hour, exhausted ourselves, walked maybe 100 yards, and created a couple of deep snow angels. :-)
Saturday, December 19, 2009
For the last week or so we have been monitoring a storm that is inbound from the Gulf of Mexico. As is typically the case, the media was making this storm sound like the worst thing that could ever happen to the area. But something very unusual was going on with the media reports and forecast updates with this storm…as the storm got close, the anticipated snowfall amounts were growing. The first reports said to expect 8-10 inches, then 12-16 inches, then up to 20 inches, and just before the snow began to fall we were being told to expect up to 24 inches of snow. This picture was taken after only a couple hours of snow fall.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
We have officially moved up to the next level of “yuppie-ism” this week, as we bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner. For the last several years I have scoffed at people who would boast about their vacuums, almost as though they were bragging about their child.
However, when we needed to replace our vacuum, I decided to take a look at the Dyson offerings to compare them with what I thought would be much more reasonable alternatives. Then, after only a few hours of web research I found the Dyson Blueprint and realized that it was perfect for us.
We then located a family owned home appliance store in Massachusetts with an on-line sales channel who was selling the model we wanted for nearly $100 less than anyone else. Plus, they had free next day air shipping and additional incentives for paying with Google Check-Out or PayPal.
So, having the vacuum we wanted – WIN; offering it at a much lower price than anyone else – WIN, WIN; giving us free next day air during the Christmas shopping season – WIN, WIN, WIN; giving additional discounts for using a method of payment that we already use – WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
It’s that time if year…er….decade again. All sorts of media outlets are releasing their “…of the decade” lists. You know, the best…worst…longest….most embarrassing things of the decade. I was reminded of this yesterday when I was driving into work and heard a local DJ say that the most downloaded song of the decade in the US was…
wait for it…
Flow-Rida’s “Low”! Yeah, take a moment to let that settle in. (It took me a couple minutes for me to accept this.) However, it was determined by the Nielsen agency so I trust that it is was an empirical study that determined this.
So, I figured I would start my own quasi-best of the decade list by starting with my take on the funniest commercial. With that preface, I present “The Bud Light Swear Jar” below:
Sunday, December 13, 2009
We made a simple white pizza with pepperoni, black olives and shredded mozzarella cheese. As a white pizza, we did not use any tomato sauce. Rather Barbie made a garlic infused olive oil that we brushed on the dough before any toppings were applied. The crust came out much thicker than we expected, but it was also fluffier than we anticipated.
We cooked the pizza on a cookie sheet, which constrained the shape to that of a rectangle (which explains the un orthodox shape in the picture to the right).
Next steps will include getting a quality pizza stone and/or a pizza sheet so that we can have a round crust. :-)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Over the last few days we have seen our share of winter-like temperatures with lows in the 20’s. Thankfully, there was minimal precipitation so ice wasn’t much of a problem. However, I found this video that made me realize that it could be a lot colder..and cooler?!
Last February, Red Bull’s unique marketing team took a few of the world’s best surfer’s to Alaska to check out the waves there. Check out what they did!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
We were outside last night with some friends and the dog for a winter party. It wasn’t very cold last night (we had on jackets, but no hats or gloves were needed). However, when we woke up this morning, this is what we saw outside of our bedroom window:
Monday, November 30, 2009
My holiday weekend began with me being sick and spending most of my time sleeping on the couch and in bed. I was hoping that my illness wouldn't set the tone for the rest of the holiday season. Thankfully, my wonderful husband spent time surfing the web to find anything that would make me smile. It didn't take long for him to find something. Enjoy!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tonight we made out first Thanksgiving dinner (with Turkey and all). We planned on having Thanksgiving dinner with our friend’s Shawna and Quinn, but due to a sudden sinus infection, our plans for Thursday were quickly changed to a steady diet of medication and sleep on the couch. It was quickly apparent to both of us that we had to have turkey this year, so we quickly found a fresh 10 pound turkey who was called in to make our Thanksgiving complete.
So, late this morning we began preparing the Turkey by stuffing the cavity with apples, placing pads of butter beneath the skin and seasoning everything.
After several hour of cooking, the Turkey emerged from the oven with a beautiful dark orange color and wonderful smell!
We made mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and green chie corn bread to accompany the Turkey on the table.
All in all, it was a wonderful dinner…for Thanksgiving, or any day for that matter. :-)
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Since I am still in the "experimental" phase of this task, I am opted to use a free (nut not open source) solution that many people also use - Picasa by Google. The image below was modified with Picasa and includes the following changes:
- sharpened (not that you can tell the way I reduced the size for this post)
- black & white with color focus
Friday, November 27, 2009
We have seen commercials for “Whatever, Martha!” for more than a year on HGTV and FLN, yet we hadn’t seen a reason to actually watch the show. Last month we were channel surfing one night and stumbled upon an episode on FLN. Oh my goodness! I LOVE this show!
The format of the show is pretty simple: Martha Stewart’s daughter, Alexis, and her friend, Jennifer, watch old episodes of Martha Stewart Living. While they watch they comment on the episodes like normal people…you know…by saying “what in the hell is that?!”, “who would wear that?”, and my favorite “look at how she wants to tell the special guest that they are doing it wrong.”.
It’s particularly interesting to listen to Alexis’ stories of the staff personnel that appeared on the old show. Some of those stories include details of how individuals positions changed from before the 2004 conviction of her mother to after her mothers release from a Federal prison.
My favorite part of each episode is when Alexis and Jennifer try to make something that Martha made on the old tape. The set-up for this segment seems to the the same each show: Alexis and Jennifer are watching the Living episode on a laptop in a kitchen. They usually have all of the materials needed on the counter in front of them as the segment begins…and then comes the calamity as they try to keep pace with Martha.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Every year as the holidays arrive we all see videos from US military personnel around the world who send well wishes to their families in the states. Never before have we actually known anyone who did this…until this year! My cousin, Tito, was filmed by ABC as they were doing a story on how American service men were spending Thanksgiving. Below is a still image of the video he was in. Yes, his name is actually Raul, but he has always been (and will always be) Tito to me. :)
How many of you see the typo on the screen? Apparently the ABC News spell checker doesn’t know how to spell Tucson…they will be getting an email shortly after I post this.
If you would like to see the full video that aired you can see it here: ABC News.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The other day Barbie got her first email from our niece, Bianca, who has been deployed to the USS Nimitz. I have read a lot about the Nimitz, as military history is a hobby of mine. However, when Bianca’s email came the domain was cvn68.navy.mil. I was surprised (but I don’t know why) since this domain is essentially the entire ship as the USS Nimitz is CVN 68.
I explained that the name CVN-68 is the hull classification and hull number which can be explained as follows:
C – This indicates primary purpose of the ship (c=aircraft carrier)
V - This indicates type of equipment (v=fixed wing)
N - This indicates the power source (n=nuclear)
68 – This is the unique identifier for this hull
So, the USS Nimitz is CVN 68 which means that it is a fixed wing aircraft carrier with nuclear propulsion.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Just wanted to post a quick update to let everyone know what we have been up to lately since we have been blogging sparsely. Work has been taking up most of my time. My company has been preparing to spin-off from TimeWarner and become an independent publicly traded company next month. That should be complete by mid-December, so hopefully these crazy-long work days won’t keep going too far beyond that.
In the mean time, at home we have been slowly migrating or house to Windows 7. Yes, this the latest technology-based migration we have ever made. Maybe it’s because work has been occupying so much of my attention, or maybe we are just growing up…either way it’s feels a little odd to put our “early adopters” titles at risk. We will have to keep an eye on the tech-rags to spot another “next big thing” to regain our titles. :-)
The regular blogging should resume soon.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
11 rounds of a shoot out is what it took the Capitals to beat the Islanders last night. 11 rounds! For those who may not know, the format for an NHL game that ends regulation in a tie is as follows:
Both teams take the ice for a sudden death period of play called Overtime that lasts no more than 5 minutes. During this additional period of play, both teams loose a skater on the ice. (During regulation play each team has 6 players on the ice, typically composed of 5 skaters and 1 goalie. In the Overtime period of play each team has 5 players on the ice, typically composed of 4 skaters and 1 goalie.)
If at the end of Overtime, the score is still tied teams will select three skaters each to take part in a shoot-out. Teams will alternate turns with one skater trying to score on the opposing goalie. If one team scores more than the other after three rounds, that team wins the game. If after those first three rounds, the score is still tied, then additional rounds are added one at a time.
Last night’s game took 11 rounds to determine a winner. That means that 11 different players from each team took penalty shots! Below is a clip of the last two rounds of the shoot out. Other than the Capitals score made by Chris Clark, my favorite part of this clip is the reaction of the Capitals goalie, Semyon Varlamov, after he stops the Islanders last shot. Varlamov has been characterized as a relatively quiet player (mostly because he began his NHL career at the age of 19 with little experience learning English). However, his physical reaction says more than any language could.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Barbie and I never really thought much about what to do with pumpkins after Halloween. As long as we could both remember, we would just throw away pumpkins after Halloween. However, our friends Shawna and Quinn invited us out to a new experience today. They belong to a community farm that offers a new twist on old pumpkins. We headed out to this farm to join Shawna, Quinn and their two boys for an afternoon of “pumpkin chunkin’”.
When we arrived at the farm, we were among more than 50 families who brought their old pumpkins. As soon as we got out to the car we saw what I can only describe as “The Pumpkin Free-Fall”. Pumpkins were taken up more than 60 feet in the air to be thrown down to the ground with a very distinct splat sound.
We all laughed as we watched the pumpkins fall, but there was more to see. So, we walked further into the farm where we spotted a silo with an interesting piece of rope rigging attached to it. This was a spot there people could hoist their own pumpkins up almost 40 feet in the air to drop them themselves.
Later we walked further into the farm, where we saw things like hay rides, giant slides, mazes, and an animatronic dinosaur called “P-Rex”. P-Rex was corny and really entertaining at the same time. One of the farm employees performed with P-Rex while she would place pumpkins in it’s mouth. P-Rex had 3 inch steel teeth and a hydraulic jaw that could probably crush anything that was placed in it.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Our last stop before heading to the airport was Lake Erie in Lorain. This stretch of the beach was owned by and maintained by the city of Lorain when I was a child. A few years ago, it was sold for one dollar to the Cleveland Metro Parks. The Metro Parks had a very successful group of parks, and the city of Lorain was struggling to maintain a budget to support the beach. Based on what we saw, and the pictures we took, it looks like this was a tremendous win for everyone involved!
While in Ohio, we stopped by the cemetery where my Grandpa was buried more than 20 years ago. This tree is almost 30 feet away from him. On this day, it was the largest tree in the entire cemetery full of brightly colored leaves. It may have been coincidence, but I would like to think that there was something more to this than that.
So, there we were…driving down some tree lined dark roads. A haze was in the sky, almost diffusing the moon as it lit the sky. It was almost midnight when Mike, Barbie and I were driving home from a late night run to the store with a quick stop at a drive through.
We were less than 2 miles from home, when out of no where – BOOM! We hit a deer…or a deer hit us…we hit each other. The deer came from the left side of the road and we first made contact with it just above the left front tire. We had the moon roof open, and as the deer went up in the air we saw it’s head through the opening. Barbie was in the back seat of the car, and from there it looked like the deer may come through the moon roof.
We stopped, and after making sure we were okay we went back to check on the deer. To all of our amazement, the deer ran away. No blood was left on the car or on the road. So, Mike’s Jetta seemed to be the only victim of the incident. This picture was taken in the garage after we got home.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
A few days before our trip to Ohio, Abigail came down with the flu. She was feeling a little better by the time we arrived, but not well enough to venture out into the night for Trick-or-Treating.
The plan for all of the kids on Halloween was to head over to Joe and Jody’s since their streets are well lit, and the houses are close together. However, with Abigail still fighting the flu she wasn’t going to be able to join the rest of the kids. As you can imagine, not being able to dress up in her Hermonie (from Harry Potter) costume was a bit difficult to take.
Mike came up with the brilliant idea to keep some candy in the house so that Abigail could still dress up, and Trick-or-Treat through the inside of the house with him. When Barbie and I heard about this we asked if we could stay behind as well to help with the candy distribution.
Mike, Barbie and I split up a huge bag of candy and ran to different rooms of the house. Abigail then proceeded to knock on each closed door in the house as we pretended to be different people who were answering their front doors.
We pretended to be shy people, creepy people, anti-social people, goofy people, and even a non-English speaking person. Each person, of course had candy for Trick-or-Treaters.
I am not sure who had more fun – Abigail, or the adults. I think that is an indication of how well the activity turned out.
Friday, October 30, 2009
About a month ago, my 92-year-old Grandma had a heart attack. We weren’t sure that she could recover based solely on her age. After monitoring her health, recovery and eventual discharge from the hospital Barbie and I decided to go visit her.
Oh my, were we surprised at what we saw. My grandma seemed to be in better health and spirits than any time I have seen her in the last 10 years. She actually joined my Aunt Jan to some pick us up at the airport!
Not only did she seem to be very physically healthy, but her hearing was better than I can ever remember. She was keeping up with conversations, telling jokes, and even reminiscing about days gone by when I was a child. It felt so good to see her, and see her in such good condition.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
- I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.
- Garden Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it was a valuable plant.
- The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
- Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?
- In the 60’s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
- Wouldn’t it be nice if whenever we messed up our life we could simply press ‘Ctr- Alt- Delete’ and start all over?
- Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever.
- If raising children was going to be easy, it never would have started with something called ‘labor!’
- How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
- Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, ‘I think I’ll squeeze these dangly things here and drink whatever comes out?’
- Who was the first person to say, ‘See that chicken there? I’m gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its butt.’
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Every once in a while Maddie will do something that makes me think “wow, I wonder is she really understands what we are doing?” On those rare occasions, she will give me a look almost as though she was participating in a deep insightful conversation with me. Earlier tonight, Barbie and I were talking about taking some pictures and Maddie gave us one of those looks. So, we took some pictures of her…almost as though she was posing for them. You can decide….
And, yes….that is a treat sitting on her paw… .
As with so many married couples, we froze the top tier from out Wedding Cake, and saved it to commemorate our first anniversary. However, because we went out of town for that day, we weren’t able to take it with us on the trip.
So, after a few days of thawing out we decided to open it up and see how well it held up after a year in the deep freeze! We were both a little concerned, but we both feel as though it was as good tonight as the day we were married! It still tastes phenomenal! Below are a couple pictures that we took to memorialize the cake. :-)
This event also gave us the opportunity to break out the wedding serving set and champagne glasses from our reception. Everything brought back so many fond memories.