Saturday, January 31, 2009

Enter The Matthew!

Our last stop today was to watch Matthew's karate class. Barbie and I heard that Matthew was in an advanced class before we went, but we had no idea what that meant. It wasn't until we saw the regular class begin in the back of the room that we gained an immediate appreciation for Matthew's skill level.


We watched Matthew perform some of the same movements that his big sister did, as well as the study of the mechanics of a kick. The regular class that was going on at the same time was full of children around Matthew's age, but they were doing little more than learning how to yell for help if a stranger approaches them. I agree that what those kids were learning is very important. However, the self discipline that Matthew displayed made both Barbie and I so proud of him!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Abigail

The afternoon's events, continued with a sports theme as the whole family traveled to Abigail's karate class. Abigail is a yellow belt and she is very focused. Of the four yellow belts in the class, Abigail was the only one who did not have to stop her movements because she couldn't remember the next one. We were all very proud as we watched her.

Barbie and I were among 20 or so observers in the room with the Karate students. All of the observers had to remain very quiet as to not distract any of the kids who were receiving instruction. For the most part this wasn't a problem. Except that I was the lone person taking pictures (and I was doing it with a 200mm telephoto lens on an SLR body). Needless to say, a lot of parents who were there were checking our camera out.

I always thought of Abigail as a girly-girl. She absolutely loves being complimented on the style of her clothes, glasses, bags...pretty much anything. However, after watching her in her Karate class, I can honestly say that I have now seen a completely new facet of her personality. I love it!

Bend It Like Haley!

After we visited with my grandma in the morning and had lunch together, we went to see my cousin, Joe's daughter play soccer. Her name is Haley (#27) and she is adorable. She plays soccer with more tenacity than girls twice her age. Although this came was an indoor one, her dad coaches several outdoor teams including one that Haley plays on.

Since the game we saw was in indoor one, the seating available to those in attendance was limited. But because it was inside, the cheering was much louder than if everyone was outside.

Both teams are U-9 which means that the girls on them are between 7 and 9-years-old. However, after seeing both teams up-close I can honestly tell you that Haley's team is all much closer to the 7-year-old side of that scale, and the other team was all much closer to the 9-year-old side. I was standing between the benches taking these pictures and Haley's entire team was standing on loose soccer balls to see over the wall. The other team was all standing on the ground looking over the same wall.

The best part of the game though was not only that Haley's team won, but it was their first win in a couple months! Yay!









This morning started with a purpose. Barbie and I went to visit my Grandma. Her name is Mary and she is 91 years old. She was unable to make the trip to Tucson in October for our wedding, so our trip to Ohio was made with the intent of sharing wedding stories with her.

My Grandma absolutely loves Barbie. And that makes me so happy. I know that I am not exactly neutral on this, but I think that anyone who meets my Grandma will love her. Her spirit is uplifting, she is very active (despite her age) and she loves to share laughter with everyone.

She has moved since the last time we visited her, so on this trip we got a tour of her new apartment. It is very nice, with a ton of amenities that you would find in high rise apartments (even though her building is only 3 stories).

After we spent some time with her in the morning, we went out for some lunch together and then she spent the rest of the afternoon with us.

Another significant change since the last time we visited with my Grandma was her need for some walking assistance. She had a bad fall several months ago, and prior to that she would walk without much assistance at all. Although she doesn't need any assistance when she is inside of her apartment, she does use a cane when she leaves her unit. When she leaves her apartment building to go outside she uses a walker.

I always pictured old ladies in walkers as slow movers, but my Grandma is far from that. Unlike the walkers that have cut out tennis balls on their feet, her walker has wheels on the front legs and small three inch skids on the back legs. When she get's going with that thing we really had to work to keep up with her. :-)

Friday, January 30, 2009

What did you say?

Today we flew to Cleveland to spend a weekend with some family. This trip is something that we planned a couple weeks ago and was expected to be a very relaxed one with more visiting than event attending. However, our weekend got off to an unusual start as our flight began to descend into Cleveland.

The flight is just under an hour from Dulles, and it is a pretty straight shot. However, around the 1 hour mark we were still in the air and several passengers including Barbie realized that we appeared to be turning in circles.

When I looked out the window to see if I could see if there was some weather that could be causing our delay I noticed we were over Lake Erie - far from the straight shot I was expecting. After a few more minutes of observation I noticed that we weren't acutally flying in circles, but we were just turning left and right.

Not long after this realization the pilot's voice came on the intercom with the kind of message no one ever wants to hear. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we just wanted to let you know that we have been performing s-turns in an attempt to slow down. Normally we just extend our flaps to reduce our speed, but our flaps are stuck. No one should panic as this is something that we train for, but we just wanted to let you know that we will be coming in fast for the landing in case anyone wonders. Please make sure your seat belt is securely fastened as we begin our approach."

So, my first response was something like - why in the hell would you tell us that? Just land the plane and tell us afterword.

Anyway, we came in and landed without incident. It was interesting to see the runway lined with emergency vehicles, but other than that nothing was noticeably different. That is until we pulled up to the gate. When we got to the gate, one of the firetrucks with lights on followed us and met us there. The plane didn't pull up to the jetway as normal, but rather stopped just short so that the door could open and a fireman could come in to talk to the pilots about what happened. I immediately thought "wow, this isn't something you see everyday" so, I took the picture to the left as he walked into the cockpit.

I hope that this is the only part of our weekend that will be concerning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Madison Get's Geared Up For Snow




















Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaguration of the 44th President

This half-meter resolution image of the United States Capitol was collected by the GeoEye-1 satellite on Jan. 20, 2009 during the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President. The image, taken through high, whispy white clouds, shows the masses of people attending the Inaugural Celebration.

If you want to see a high resolution image of the entire National Mall, click here. In this image you can make out details like Marine 1 behind the Capitol Building as it waits to take George W Bush to Andrews Air Force Base. You can also see ice on the Potomac River on the far left side of the image. For anyone who has ever been to the National Mall, you will probably notice the absence of cars anywhere in the image.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Slap It!

After eating dinner out tonight we stopped at Bloom to get some groceries for the weekend. Bloom is the new name of the Food Lion grocery stores. When they changed their name they did so to make over their entire image. As the name implies, they want to be seen as a fresher grocery store that is more in touch with their customers.

Personally, I thought that most of those changes were superficial at best. I mean, groceries are groceries right? Well, that is until we stopped in last night. While looking through the produce section I saw this label with the watermelon. Classic!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The History Of The Internet

Wow. This is cool. When I am at work I often find myself "dumbing-down" technical problems so that I can develop a strategy to address said problem which can be understood by multiple levels of an organization.

The video below is an example of an elegant way to accomplish that goal. I am impressed not only by the way in which the movie explains such a complex story in a few minutes, but also in the fact that the diagrams used are so simple that everything is done in black and white.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I love technology and data!

I love many things. My wife, my parents, my dog, my friends, the smell of bacon cooking on a cold winter morning...I could go on for days. But, there are two things that I love which sometimes surprise even me - technology and data. Below is an email that I got that epitomizes the "perfect storm" of technology and data coming together in a way that helps people see things in a whole new way.

This is an email that was sent from the Loudoun County Sheriff which publishes the number of auto crashes by intersection in the county. The data is nothing new - municipalities all around the world have been collecting this stuff for decades. However, the technology to aggregate all of it (and create a trend from year-to-year) as well as broadcast it is nothing short of a "game changer" in terms of environmental awareness. Awesome!

Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 14:55:17 -0500
Subject: Sheriff' s Office List of Most Crash Prone Intersections

Loudoun County, Virginia- The intersection of Waxpool Road at Loudoun County Parkway in Ashburn tops the list of the most crash prone intersections in Loudoun County for 2008.

Waxpool Road at Loudoun County Parkway saw 86 crashes in 2008; rising from 64 crashes the previous year. The intersection of Harry Byrd Highway (Route 7) at Potomac View Road was the second most crash prone intersection in 2008, although it saw an overall decrease as compared to 2007. The intersection saw 61 crashes in 2008, down from 81 in 2007.

Route 7 continues to have a number of crash prone intersections throughout the county. They include Route 7 at Ashburn Village Boulevard with 39, down from the previous year. Route 7 and Sterling Boulevard saw a decrease with 35 crashes in 2008 as compared to 43 in 2007.

Every year the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Research Analyst compiles the top ten intersections in the county with the highest number of crashes. This years traffic related statistics include 14 fatalities in Loudoun in 2008, down from 20 fatalities in 2007. There were no traffic fatalities at any of the intersections on the list of the most crash prone intersections.

The following is the annual ranking of those intersections for accidents for the calendar years 2007 and 2008. These statistics are compiled based on Sheriff’s Office data and does not include accidents worked by the Virginia State Police nor the Leesburg Police Department.


Waxpool Rd./Loudoun Co. Pkwy (86)
Route 7/Potomac View Rd. (61)
Route 28/ Waxpool Rd. (56)
Route 7/Route 659 (Belmont Ridge Rd.) (55)
Route 50/Loudoun County Pkwy. (48)
Route 7/ George Washington Blvd. (44)
Old Ox Rd./Route 28 (40)
Route 7/Ashburn Village Blvd. (39)
Route 7/Loudoun County Pkwy. (37)
Route 7/Sterling Blvd. (35)


Route 7/Potomac View Rd. (81)
Route 7/Belmont Ridge Rd. (78)
Waxpool Rd./Loudoun Co. Pkwy (64)
Rt. 28/Waxpool Rd. (52)
Route 7/Ashburn Village Blvd. (48)
Route 7/Route 9 (44)
Route 7/Sterling Blvd. (43)
Route 50/Loudoun Co. Pwky. (40)
Route 28/Waxpool Rd. (40)
Route 7/ Loudoun Co. Parkway (38)
Route 7/ George Wasington Blvd. (38)


Sent to General Releases, Media Only, Loudoun Traffic/Road Closures - Sheriff (E-mail accounts) through Alert Loudoun.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

No Pants 2K9

What is very liberating and extremely funny? Mass public nudity! Improve Everywhere is a group of "agents" who cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places. A group of core individuals runs their web-site which is a means to recruit readers to participate.

The most recent recruitment effort was for No Pants 2K9 in NYC. The details that were listed are below:

All are invited to participate in the 8th Annual No Pants! Subway Ride. The event will take place at 3:00 PM on Saturday, January 10. Everything you need to know is in this post. Please read it carefully!


1) Willing to take pants off on subway
2) Able to keep a straight face about it



When: Saturday, January 10 at 3:00 PM, Sharp! (Over by around 5:30)
Where: Meet at Foley Square at the black sculpture/fountain. It’s near the Brooklyn Bridge 6 train stop, between Centre and Lafayette, just north of Duane.
Bring: A backpack and a metro card.
Do not bring: A camera (we’ll have several photographers on hand)
Wear: Normal winter clothes (hat, gloves, etc)
After Party: For those over 21, there will be an official No Pants after party at Sidebar, 15th Street and Irving Place. First drink is free if you arrive without pants.

Complete logistics below:


We will assemble in Foley Square at 3 PM. Please be on time. Feel free to be early.

When we’re organized, we will all head down to several nearby subway stations. Do not talk to others once you enter the subway system. No one knows each other. We will wait for a train to arrive on the uptown side of the tracks and all board our assigned cars (follow your team leader). We may let one train go before entering to make sure everyone is ready.

Sit in the car as you normally would. Read a magazine or whatever you would normally do. Your team leader will have already divided you into smaller groups, assigning your group a specific stop where you will depants. Sit near your group.

As soon as the doors shut at the stop before yours, stand up and take your pants off and put them in your backpack. If you’d like to use a briefcase, purse, grocery bag, or whatever instead of a backpack that’s fine too. You are responsible for your own pants and they should be with you at all times. If anyone asks you why you’ve removed your pants, tell them that they were “getting uncomfortable” (or something along those lines.)

Exit the train at your assigned stop and stand on the platform, pantless. You will wait on the platform for the next train to arrive. Stay in the exact same place on the platform so you enter the next train in the same car as you exited the last train.

When you enter , act as you normally would. You do not know any of the other pantless riders. If questioned, tell folks that you “forgot to wear pants” and yes you are “a little cold.” Insist that it is a coincidence that others also forgot their pants. Be nice and friendly and normal.

We will exit the train at a predetermined stop and then repeat the mission back down to Union Square.

You can wear fun underwear if you like, but nothing that screams out, “I wore this because I’m doing a silly stunt.” Wear two pairs of underwear if it makes you feel more comfortable. Don’t wear a thong or anything else that might offend people. Our aim is to make people laugh, not piss them off.

This is always a blast, and we look forward to seeing you there. You may bring along friends if you like, but make sure they get a chance to read all of these instructions.

See you on the 10th!

The video below was taken by Improv Everywhere's in-house photographers to document the event. I love this stuff!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Protective Madison

Last night I was up late working from home. As the evening began to wind down, I took my laptop into the bedroom to finish working while Barbie was laying down in bed. Madison followed me, and I noticed that she was sitting right next to me as though she was protecting me. What I didn't realize was that she was following the mouse across the screen while I worked.

To play with her I turned on the built-in camera to see what she would do. She immediately recognized that the image she was looking at was a dog (although I am not sure that she realized it was herself. I took a couple of pictures while she looked at herself, including some that had Apple effects on them. Some of them are too funny. :-)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Setting Expectations

For the last few weeks every local news broadcast on every channel has had at least one story on the expected crowds for Barak Obama's inauguration on the 20th. The plan to handle the expected crowd includes closing all of the bridges from Virginia into the District of Columbia. The only way to cross the Potomac river will be via metro system.

So, knowing that this is such a dramatic crowd management plan, I actually laughed out loud when I got the alert email below which was sent to all subscribers of the Fairfax County Alert System:

Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 12:15:07 -0500
Subject: Today's inauguration message

Inauguration Information Are you planning on attending the Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20? The answers to several questions might be helpful in deciding whether to attend inauguration activities:

Do you have the physical stamina to stand outside, "shoulder to shoulder," in large crowds for four, five or six hours or more and then spend additional hours getting back home?

Are you comfortable in extremely large crowds?

Can you walk long distances to get to your destination?

Are you prepared for the extremely long delays getting to and from events?

Can you care for and control small children in large crowds and tight spaces for long hours, if you plan to bring them?

For further information, the Fairfax County Inauguration Web page ( has links to local, state and federal resources, including transportation, traffic and weather alerts, tips on how to be prepared and news releases.

Sent by Fairfax County EM to All users (voice dialer, e-mail accounts, cell phones & pagers) through the Fairfax County CEAN

After reading this I couldn't help but think, that there will inevitably be some people who show up to see the inauguration and will have no idea what they are in store for. Can you imagine what will go through their heads as they encounter the event described in the message above? Sad, but very funny.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions and Stuff

I have never been much for making new years resolutions. I guess I suspect that people who make a big deal of them may just use them as a reason to justify "bad" behavior until the end of the year so that they can change that behavior.

However, I have made a couple of new year's resolutions in the past. The most recent one was when I made a personal commitment to go to Grad School. Although, that may have been more coincidence with the time of year than anything else.

As 2009 begins, I find myself summarizing 2008 for my own annual review while also commenting on those summaries that were submitted to me by my team. While doing this I am also trying to keep 2009 in mind for some personal as well as professional objectives this year.

Early on in my professional career I would keep an annual "to-do" list. I would keep the same list for the entire year so that I could get a measurement of my progress through it. That was a a great tool for the middle of the year when it was long enought to see some progression taking place, but as the year came to an end and there were still some items that had yet to be completed it was often depressing.

Now, I make "not-to-do" lists. Below is what I have so far.

In 2009, I will not:

  • Set unrealistic or unfair goals of myself.
  • Say "yes" without first assessing the emotional, professional, personal and karmic ROI.
  • Neglect to give credit to the entire team.
  • Soley focus on short-term benefits unless it is a pathway to accomplishing long-term goals.
  • Get complacent.
  • Count on anything before it is a reality.
  • Forget to network, because it often benefits someone other than me.
  • Stop critically thinking, but refrain from always shooting holes in other's ideas.
  • Lose sight of the fact that I can replace my job, but not my family.
  • Stress!