Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Healthcare Triage

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

Visiting Grandma

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

A Few Thoughts To Ponder…

  • 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

Having some fun with Maddie as she poses

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 good as the day we were married!

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.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ever wonder how the Times Square signs work?

Wow!  The video below is from a new series from the Engadget site.  It contains an interview with Meric Andriansen of D3 LED, who is responsible for designing several of the most well known signs in Times Square.  This is very impressive!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Laser Pointers and Night Time Photography

A few days ago we were in the mountains and I decided to take some pictures of a laser pointer in the night sky. The idea was to have the shutter remain open for 5-15 seconds so that the light from the stars and moon would be captured with anything else in the sky (including a green laser).  The first picture here was my control image – the sky with no laser pointer:

The next picture taken was with the laser pointer sitting still for the duration that the shutter was open:

The next image was captured as I moved the laser horizontally across the sky.  The picture looked surprising cool to me.  Almost like the Aurora Borealis.

Next, I moved the laser pointer vertically on the left side of the camera to see what that would look like:

Finally, I opened the shutter and moved the laser pointer around the camera lens from the bottom left, up over the top, and down the left side and back again.  I made these movements several times before the shutter closed and the image below is what I captured:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Few Parting Shots From Wintergreen

In case anyone who attended our wedding didn’t understand the inspiration for our wedding colors, it should be obvious when you look at the images below.  These were taken as we came down the mountain on our way home.

Standing On Top Of The World

Saturday, October 10, 2009

365 Days And Going Strong!

This morning we woke on-top of a mountain in central Virginia and began our second year of marriage.  That’s right, today is our first anniversary!  ::Barbie and Zack bump fists::  We commemorated the day with a wine tour of central Virginia.


We began the tour by visiting Afton Mountain Vineyards in Afton, VA.  The Afton Mountain Winery is off the beaten path, so without this tour I don’t think we would have ever seen it.  That is a shame, because the facility is beautiful.  The employees were knowledgeable, willing to share tons of information, and a pure delight to be around.  While we were there we learned about the nuances of making the different types of red, white and sparking wines.


Many of the concepts we learned about were somewhat familiar to Barbie and I as we are avid watchers of Food Network and of shows like Three Sheets.  However, what we quickly found out was that most of the knowledge that we brought into the tour about wineries and wine making came from Napa Valley, California.  Apparently, Virginia wine makers use a very different paradigm when it comes to their trade.  In short, it’s the quantity (Napa Valley) versus quality (Virginia) debate.  Based on the quantity of medals on display at Afton Mountain, I think they may have a point.

After nearly two hours at our first stop on this tour, we headed out for the short 10 minute drive to our second stop at Cardinal Point Winery.


Cardinal Point was the name of the family farm of four star US Army General Paul F. Gorman.  When General Gorman retired in 1985, he and his wife returned to their farm to start a family business in the wine industry.  Cardinal Point now has 15 acres of vineyards that are being worked year-round by the entire family, several local celebrities, as well as a large contingent of migratory labor.



Cardinal Point Winery has two local celebrities from the NBC affiliate in Charlottesville working the tasting counter.  This was quite a treat for Barbie and I as we recognized Henry Graff, who happened to be working the day of our visit, as soon as we walked through the door. Henry not only walked us through tasting the entire portfolio of Cardinal Point’s wines, but he also walked us through the wall below which consists of the recent awards received here.


After just over an hour at our second stop, we got back on the road for another 15 minute drive to the Wintergreen Winery.


The Wintergreen Winery is located at the bottom of the mountain (almost across the street from Devil’s Backbone).  This winery seemed to be not as traditional as the previous stops on our tour, but that  was not a bad thing.  The employees that we met here seemed to me more focused on having fun and enjoying the wine drinking experience rather than the tradition and heritage of wine making.  The most obvious example of this deviation from our first two visits was Wintergreen Winery sells a mulled version of apple wine.  This bottle of wine comes with a bag of spices that are supposed to be submerged in the wine while it is heated before drinking.  We tried this wine, and thought is was like apple cider with an alcoholic kick.  Very unexpected!


Wintergreen Winery isn’t just about playing with wines though.  They also compete on the US and Global level.  Below is a picture I took of the medals that Wintergreen Winery won over the past few years:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Devil’s Backbone

Wow!  That’s the expression that Barbie and I both kept repeating after leaving Devil’s Backbone for dinner.  This restaurant was absolutely phenomenal!


As we walked through the front door, we were stunned by the architecture of the building as well as the materials that were used.  The main room and bar felt like a log cabin, but on a scale that we had never seen before.


There was an undeniable feeling of positive energy coming from the building as we walked in, and that feeling was evident in every person we saw who was working.


After a short 10 minute wait, we were taken to our table and given menus.  This was the “a-ha moment” of the night.  Barbie and I immediately noticed phrases like: “served with chipotle ketchup and cilantro dipping sauce”, “chimayo chicken mixed with walnuts” and “chicken, roasted green chilies and monterey jack”.  These are terms and phrases that are very common in New Mexican cooking, but almost un-heard of on the east coast. 


We told our server that we were originally from the Southwest, and that these terms caught our attention.  She told us that the Devil’s Backbone menu is like nothing she had ever seen before, but that she hears nothing but compliments from return customers on how much they enjoy the flavors that come from their kitchen.  After bringing our drinks and appetizers to us, she said that she told the Executive Chef about us, and that he told her he had studied and working in Santa Fe for 10 years before coming to Wintergreen.


After dinner, we had a wonderful cobbler and reflected on the meal we just shared.  This was the first restaurant I have been to in nearly a decade of living in the mid-Atlantic states of the US, that delivered on the promise of authentic Southwestern flavor.  Below is a copy of the story of the Devil’s Backbone which can be found in their menu:

The Devils Backbone Story


It is fitting that you find a story telling of the beginnings of this aspiration occurring at the end of our menu; but after all, one borne the other and the existence of the second stands as proof of the first. One might say that the spark of this menu occurred while on vacation in the Italian Alps, where an introduction to a German beer, Wien Stephan, was made. This crafted wheat beer opened a door of appreciation and began to foster considerations of the advantages afforded by the fusion of food, beer and community. Such that Devils Backbone became the flagship business in the Village at Glen Mary, a project reflecting the environmentally sensitive, social conscious and community oriented spirit of the partnership.


The timbers and structure of the lodge are from Lindal Cedar Homes, which maintains a reforestation program planting trees equaling the company use. The tin roofing and walls are recycled from a 1900’s dairy barn originally located in Urbana, Maryland. The tables, banquette seating and booths are made from recycled barn wood from a horse farm in Uppersville, Virginia. The recycled floor was originally 4x12’s from a tobacco barn floor, cut in half and sealed for protection. The stone work, both inside and out is local river bed rock. The sconces and chandeliers were made by a metal crafter from Charlottesville featuring a theme of hops with leaves and strands of wheat. The bar is locally made fashioned from walnut with a copper top.


The wildlife you see in the brewery is from Nelson County, with the exception of the Moose who hails from Northern Canada. The Nelson County wildlife is a community effort offered by local hunters and avid sportsmen.

Making Friends in Wintergreen

Shortly after arriving and getting settled in, we headed across the street to check out the Black Bear Cafe.  We spotted this place as we were driving from the Mountain Inn to our condo, and it looked like a good spot to check-in with some local knowledge for some ideas on dinner.  Inside we met the proprietor, Paul who was cleaning up for the day and was looking forward to closing up a bit early.


Paul told us that this weekend was one of, if not the busiest, weekend of the year for Wintergreen.  He told us that his friend Mike, owns a restaurant at the bottom of the mountain called Devil’s Backbone and they have every employee scheduled to work double shifts tomorrow.  We were surprised to hear about that this was going to be such a busy weekend, since we hadn’t seen any big crowds.


Paul continued to tell us about Devil’s Backbone, and his excitement became contagious.  Barbie and I quickly decided to take the 14 mile drive down the mountain to check it out ourselves.

Beautiful Views Of The Blue Ridge Mountains

This afternoon we drove to Wintergreen, VA for a long weekend to celebrate our Anniversary.  We have been to Wintergreen before, so we expected some beautiful mountain views as we made our way up to the resort which sits 3,500 feet above sea level.  However, when we got into our condo, we were amazed at the view we found outside of our patio.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Top 10 Unanswered Questions in Geeky Movies

Even the best movies ever made leave unanswered questions in their wake. Some refer to these as “plot holes,” but why not give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt? Maybe they had a perfectly reasonable explanation in mind, and simply… forgot to include it in the movie.


Some movies’ unanswered questions are integral to their plots, as with Citizen Kane’s famous issue that nobody was around to hear Charles Foster Kane say “Rosebud” as he died. Most of the time the questions are less important than that, but still can affect your enjoyment of the film, for better or worse — yes, some movies are improved, because without unanswered questions to argue about, there would be little to really discuss about the movie. The Transformers movies are prime examples.


10. Independence Day: The computer virus - This movie has so many unanswered questions that one is forced to conclude that most, if not all, really are just plot holes after all. But then there’s the computer virus that Jeff Goldblum uploads into the alien mothership, that is ultimately what allows the humans to defeat the invaders. Ask any software developer, and they will tell you that it is ridiculously hard to write a virus on a PC that works on a Mac, or vice-versa, and those are two computer systems that were designed and built by human beings. The likelihood of being able to successfully write a virus on a human-built computer of any sort that would affect a computer built by telepathic aliens is infinitesimal. Of course, this is an alien species that has managed to travel in huge ships across vast distances but has never invented a clock (hence the countdown timer they use before initiating their attack), so who knows what sort of vulnerabilities their computers might have?


9. Raiders of the Lost Ark: Indy on the U-boat- The Nazis stop the cargo ship and take the Ark and Marion to their submarine. The crewman tells the captain he can’t find Indy, but then notices that Indy has, of course, swum over to the sub and is climbing onto it. There’s stirring music, Indy waves at the crewmen, he climbs up onto the conning tower, he looks around for a second, and then… the movie cuts to the interior of the sub, where it gets underway, and then we see the red line moving across the map. So how, exactly, does Indy survive this journey? He has no special equipment, can’t get into the sub (the hatches have already been closed, since they’re about to get underway), and it’s about to, y’know, go under the water, in that way subs do. Now, I remember reading once that they scripted (and possibly even filmed) a scene where Indy ties himself to the periscope with his whip. This is, of course, patently ridiculous, since it requires that the sub go no lower than periscope depth on the whole trip and, even if that happened, he’d still probably die. But Indy does tons of things that should get him killed, so we’d have believed that if they’d shown it. But they didn’t.


8. Back to the Future: Marty’s parents’ bad memory - Even though Marty is only in 1955 for a week, he plays a pretty pivotal role in his future parents’ lives. It stands to reason, then, that they would remember him pretty well, don’t you think? Now, I’m not George McFly, but most men would probably have a few questions if one of their children grew up to look exactly like a friend from high school that their wife dated briefly.


7. Star Trek (the 2009 movie): Old Spock biding his time - Kirk gets marooned on the ice planet by Young Spock, and Old Spock saves his life. Then Old Spock tells Kirk that there’s a Starfleet outpost nearby, and they trudge through the snow to get there. Now, Old Spock was marooned there a while before by Nero, and he knew that Nero was going to try to destroy Vulcan. So why didn’t he seek out this Starfleet outpost he knew about until after Kirk arrived? Don’t you think that maybe it would’ve been a smart idea to warn Starfleet that someone was about to try to destroy Vulcan, and, oh, by the way, he’s from the future?


6. Spider-Man 2: Doctor Octavius’s arms - OK, so Octavius had to invent these heat- and magnet-proof metal arms, controlled by sophisticated AI, that attach directly to a human body and interface directly with the brain. So why, exactly, does he need Harry Osborn to finance his big fusion experiment? Is there any doubt that the technology behind these arms would be worth millions, if not billions, of dollars? He could buy and sell Harry.


5. Star Trek IV: The ease of time warp - So, all you have to do to go back in time is slingshot around the sun on a carefully-calculated route, right? It’s the same thing they did in the TOS episode Tomorrow Is Yesterday. If it’s really that easy, then any warp-enabled ship can do it any time, so surely someone in the Klingon or Romulan empires must have figured this out. The Klingons might be too honorable, but why haven’t the Romulans taken advantage of this, and used it for all sorts of nefarious purposes?


4. Star Wars: The Death Star’s slow attack - So the Death Star follows the tracking device on the Millennium Falcon to the rebel base. They jump out of light speed, and, for no clear reason, emerge on the far side of the planet Yavin from the moon where the base is. This light-speed jump takes a split-second, but now they have to wait minutes so they can clear the planet. Not only that, but the Death Star is capable of blowing up entire planets, not just moons, so why don’t they just blow up the entire planet of Yavin? Surely that would effectively destroy anything on its moons as well.


3. Gremlins: Feeding after midnight - Don’t get them wet; OK, fine. Don’t expose them to sunlight; sure, why not? Don’t feed them after midnight; um, how’s that again? If you can’t feed them “after midnight,” at what point during the day does it cease to be “after midnight” so you can feed them again? For that matter, how does the mogwai know what time zone it’s in? Suppose I get my mogwai in New York and then take a vacation to San Francisco — should I not feed my mogwai after midnight Eastern Time or Pacific Time? And what about Daylight Saving Time? Considering the consequences, these details seem pretty important.


2. The Empire Strikes Back: Time dilation - Luke and R2D2 leave Hoth to go to Dagobah at the same time Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C3PO leave to go… well, they never really say what their initial destination is. Anyway, on Dagobah, Luke embarks on an intensive Jedi training course with Yoda — it’s never stated, but it’s heavily implied that this takes a long time; and besides, you would think a full course of Jedi training would take at least months, right? (We know it’s a full course, because when Luke comes back in Jedi, Yoda tells him he doesn’t need more training.) So, at the same time that Luke finishes this months-long training and runs off to Cloud City, his friends have clearly just gotten there a short time before. Yet all they did on the way was flee from a Star Destroyer and fly down the gullet of a giant space worm. That must have taken hours, not months. So was the Millennium Falcon flying at close to the speed of light (but not at light speed) for a while and thus experiencing time dilation? Yeah, that’s the ticket.


1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Was all that really necessary? - It would really have been useful if Henry Jones Sr. had found out, or, if he knew, mentioned the bit about the Great Seal. You know, the Great Seal that the Grail Knight tells them the Grail can’t pass, and which sets off a highly localized earthquake when Elsa tries to pass with the Grail. Because, as it turns out, the whole race against the Nazis to get to the temple and giving a fake grail to Donovan so he could die gruesomely wasn’t necessary at all. The Nazis could never have removed the Grail from the temple anyway! I mean, leave aside the point that Donovan clearly had no idea how to get past the booby traps, and Elsa wasn’t much help to him, so without Indy and his dad there they probably wouldn’t have gotten to the Grail anyway. Once Henry Sr. had been rescued, they could’ve just gone home.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Redskins Win! So, Why Is Everyone Upset?

We have had some really good times watching Redskins games at FedEx Field.  But, so far this season we can’t find a good reason to bother buying tickets.  No, it’s not because the team has a 2-2 record and we expect more.  It’s because the team hasn’t been very exciting lately.  That sentiment has been the case for the last few seasons.


Today, the Redskins beat the Buccaneers by a score of 13-16.  We, like most Redskins fans are happy about the victory – especially the way the team played in the second half (where all 16 of their points were scored).  However, that tally of 16 points is the highest point total scored by the Redskins in their last 6 regular season home games.


Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think that I am the kind of person who can walk away from a loss with a smile saying “at least we played well”.  However, I think I am the kind of of person who would want to see a well played game that ends with the appearance of all players playing up to their potential.  With these low scoring games (yes, even the victories') I can’t help but think that the players on the field simply aren’t being used to their potential.  For the price of tickets at FedEx Field, I want to feel like I am getting my monies worth.  That means that I expect to see a full came of high caliber athletes' doing their jobs for a full game.


I hate being that guy, because I am not a professional football player (or coach for that matter), so I don’t want to tell them how to do their jobs.  But, in this economy, I do represent a potential customer, and in that since I suppose I feel empowered in this buyers market.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Caps Drinking Game – version 2.0

I saw the post below on Rock the Red, and I laughed heartily as I read it. I think this game could be something that Barbie and I may play on weekend games with friends.  Enjoy!



As amazing as it was to watch our Caps on Versus last night in a nationally televised game, there was a certain void missing. No, it wasn’t the lack of DirecTV owners tuning in. No, it wasn’t Smokin’ Al Koken braving the elements to stand rink side, bringing us the latest updates. Bill suggests that it might have been the lack of Lisa Hillary, but I still don’t think that was it. This void can only be filled by one thing, the hockey broadcasting tag team of Joey B and Locker.


There is a certain “it” factor these two bring calling games. That “it” factor is their unique brand of phrases and nicknames. And that “it” factor yields itself to the Comcast drinking game, renewed and revamped for the 2009/2010 season.


* Disclaimer: Capitals hockey is not a drinking game… That being said, if it were, and you were of legal drinking age, these would be the rules. And remember, NEVER drink and drive…


Here is an updated list of terms that have been uttered at some point during the season. Each time one of the -isms or nicknames below is uttered by either Joe B. or Locker, feel free to consume the number of drinks indicated next to each. Feel free to add your own to our comments section!



  • Bang-Bang play – 1 drink
  • Sin Bin – 1 drink
  • Fisticuffs – 1 drink
  • Netminder – 1 drink
  • Breadbasket – 1 drink
  • Gobbled up – 1 drink
  • Curl and drag – 1 drink
  • Clean up the trash – 1 drink
  • Tickey-tack – 2 drinks
  • Calling a stick a Twig – 2 drinks
  • Big rig – 2 drinks
  • “Stop it here” when watching a replay – 2 drinks
  • Calling the puck a biscuit – 2 drinks
  • “Mustard on that” – 2 drinks
  • Calling the goal a basket – 2 drinks
  • Dandy – 3 drinks
  • Tic-tac-toe – 3 drinks
  • Dipsy-doo – 3 drinks
  • Cerebral – last person to put their hand on their head has to take 3 drinks
  • Kabong – first person (player?) to yell kabong following Locker’s kabong gets to give out a drink
  • When Joey B and Locker bicker over the trivia question – 3 drinks (and if you get the trivia question right, give out 3) 


Action Items

  • Ovechkin scores – high five your friend (no drinking, this will happen a lot, and we don’t want to injure anyone)
  • Semin takes a dive – 1 drink
  • Green breaks his stick – 1 drink
  • Knuble scores within a 4 foot radius of the crease – 2 drinks
  • Morrisonn-to-Morrison pass – 2 drinks
  • Hat trick – 3 drinks (duh)
  • Semin gets into a fight – 4 drinks

Friday, October 2, 2009

Finally, something amazing from MLB

Mike Blowers spent 11 years in the Majors, but he should’ve spent that time in Vegas instead because the guy is scary good at predicting the outcome of baseball games—right down to the pitch counts.


Blowers now works in the Seattle Mariners broadcast booth and before Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays, his partner asked for his “Pick to Click.”


Not only did Blowers choose infielder Matt Tuiasosopo as his Player of the Game, he predicted that the rookie would hit his first Major League home run In his second at bat…. of a fastball… on a 3-1 count.Into the second deck.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Woo Hoo! Caps Start Red Hot!

With two goals a piece tonight in Boston, Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich made sure that the Capitals 2009-2010 season got off on the right foot.  C-A-P-S!  CAPS! CAPS! CAPS!