Saturday, December 17, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Thankfully Maddie is still showing Mosby the ropes, and she helped us keep him out of trouble while we put the tree up and un packed the decorations.
As a matter of fact after a little more than an hour of investigating all the new stuff that came with the tree and decoration boxes, both dogs climbed onto the couch to lay down and watch Barbie and I put everything up.
After nearly five hours, all of the inside decorations were in-place and we were able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor before heading to bed from exhaustion.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
However, unlike most people, the turkey isn't my favorite element...the relish tray is. I know it's odd since unlike turkey (which is not as common outside of the holiday season), the things on relish trays are readily available all year long.
So, for the record, this year's relish tray was awesome as well. :-)
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Q. Why do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's clothes have buttons on the left?
A. When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right! And that's where women's buttons have remained since.
Q. Why do ships and aircraft use 'mayday' as their call for help?
A. This comes from the French word m'aidez - meaning 'help me' - and is pronounced approximately, 'mayday.'
Q. Why are zero scores in tennis called 'love'?
A. In France , where tennis became popular, round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called 'l'oeuf,' which is French for 'egg.' When tennis was introduced in the US , Americans (mis)pronounced it 'love.'
Q. Why do X's at the end of a letter signify kisses?
A. In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous.
Q. Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?
A. It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would only touch or clink the host's glass with his own.
Q. Why are people in the public eye said to be 'in the limelight'?
A. Invented in 1825,limelight was used in lighthouses and theatres by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer 'in the limelight' was the center of attention.
Q. Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?
A. Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.
Q. Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?
A. Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay called 'pygg'. When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as 'pygg banks.' When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a container that resembled a pig. And it caught on.
Q. Did you ever wonder why dimes, quarters and half dollars have notches (milling), while pennies and nickels do not?
A. The US Mint began putting notches on the edges of coins containing gold and silver to discourage holders from shaving off small quantities of the precious metals. Dimes, quarters and half dollars are notched because they used to contain silver. Pennies and nickels aren't notched because the metals they contain are not valuable enough to shave.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Earlier tonight I watched one of the most exciting football games I have ever seen. UVA made the trip to Tallahassee for the annual game against Florida State where the schools compete for the Jefferson-Eppes Trophy.
Earlier in the year FSU was ranked as high as 5th in the country, and UVA has become bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. Coming into the game, UVA was still in contention for the ACC Coastal Division lead, and if they win they would play Virginia Tech next week to determine the Division winner and who would play Clemson in the ACC Championship game.
The game was evenly played and very close throughout all four quarters. The only stand out on the field was the capricious officiating that had fans of both teams wondering what the officials were calling.
In the end this game was not decided until less than fifteen seconds remained in the game. When it was done UVA won by a single point, and in his second year as their head coach, Mike London lead the Wahoos to their first ever win in Tallahassee.
Friday, November 18, 2011
The Occupy Wall Street movement has most of the media talking about the 99% versus 1% dichotomy, which vilifies the the smaller group. Although I may disagree with the methods that the Occupy groups are using, I do understand their general position. What I seem to have an issue with is the arbitrary line that they draw that the Occupy movement drew to separate “us” from “them”. I saw the video below today on one of the blogs at work and it spoke to the issue that I have very well:
Furthermore, what really aggravates me is that there is a logical separation within this country which splits the population into two mutually exclusive groups of 0.8% and 99.2%. The groups I am referring to are those Americans that serve in the military and those who do not. This division was brought to my attention at an event I attended this past Veteran’s Day in my office.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I couldn’t remember when I said I was interested, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t. So, I told her that I was and asked what kind of help was needed. The joy in her voice was something that I cannot describe. She quickly ran through a high level description of three or four roles that needed to be filled and they all seemed reasonable. She said she would send me some forms that I need to fill out and bring back to the county elections office.
A week or so later I had taken the completed forms back to the office as requested and I became a sworn officer of election for Loudoun County, Virginia. When I left, I had a packet of information to take home and study, as well as a date to attend a 4 hour training session with other election officers in preparation for the November 8th election.
Today I fulfilled that commitment as I served a 17 hour shift in Loudoun County’s 112th precinct as an officer of election. Woot, Woot!
This was one of the most exciting activities I have ever had the pleasure to participate in. The day began at 5am as I reported to the precinct’s voting location with six other election officers. We all arrived with bags of snacks and drinks for the day since we were not to leave until the polls had closed. Three of those officers were veterans who had worked the last 3-6 elections in similar capacities.
The day began as we entered the Freedom High School performing arts auditorium were we found a cart that the county elections office had delivered. One of the items covered in the training session I attended was a detailed description of this cart to know where exactly everything was on the cart, and how we were to re-pack the cart at the end of the day.
The tactical operation of this election, like most is all about traffic flow and through-put. The mechanics of how to verify voters were casting votes in the correct precinct, the formal collection of ballot, and how to tally the votes were very well documented and described in detail. What we had to figure out in the morning was how to place the mechanical operations in the auditorium that allow adequate lines to form, while providing each voter the privacy they are entitled to.
The day was long and tiring, but as it ended it got very exciting. The precinct I worked at had more than 1,200 voters cast ballots. Having cast ballots in past elections in both electronic and paper form, I thought I knew what these voting machines did. And, I suppose I did, but I didn’t have a very good appreciation for how they did it. For example, the paper ballots were scanned and collected in a large locked container. With other election officials present and observing, I got to pass the ENDER CARD through the scanner. When this paper is scanned, it stops the collection of ballots going forward.
The next step was to run several reports from the scanner that were generated on ticker tape (like from an old adding machine). These reports summarized all of the ballots that were cast and at the bottom of each report was lines for each presiding election official to sign and attest to. This was something that I simply never thought about.
I felt privileged to see what happens next: how the totals on each report are called into the county election office where they are aggregated into the county report, before being further relayed to the state level. Each of the election summary reports, and all of the ballots were signed and sealed for delivery to the county elections office. From what I could tell, the purpose of calling to tell the county office what we recorded is to speed up the tabulation and delivery of the results. I have a whole new appreciation for those screen scrolls on the TV on election night as votes are collected.
By the time I got home, I was mentally and physically exhausted. Being an officer of election is hard work, but it is very fulfilling and I highly recommend doing it to anyone who has the opportunity.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Hyundai is in the midst of a major campaign ad in the US that is targeting college sports fans. We have seen a few ads from them that made us smile or laugh as college sports traditions were incorporated into people’s interaction's with their Hyundai vehicles.
Below is one of these ads that we both absolutely love. This ad incorporates a Virginia Tech tradition where football players touch a “Hokie Stone” as they enter the stadium. Neither I nor Barbie are big VT fans, but we still love this commercial for one reason…the last member of the family to touch the stone in the house. Enjoy:
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Last month I posted a picture of the moon that we took with Barbie’s birthday present and our DSLR camera. A few people have asked how we were able to get the camera to capture an image from the telescope, so I thought I would just show you what the fully assembled rig looks like.
This telescope has a navigation keypad that will not only locate or identify objects in the sky, but it will also track items as the move through the sky. This movement is critical to our ability to take pictures since everything in the sky is actually moving. Without the ability to move the telescope at the same rate as the object we are trying to photograph, the image would be very blurry.
To reduce the amount of vibration in the camera, we have a remote shutter button attached. Without it, the camera would shake the telescope when the shutter button on the camera body is pushed.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
This year was the first time in more than a decade that I carved a pumpkin for Halloween. Even more surprising, it was the first time that Barbie ever carved a pumpkin. This was one of those activities where the means were much more rewarding than the end.
We tried to make a “scary jack-o-lantern” but I think it became more of a “silly jack-o-lantern.” So we used some photography tricks to make it scarier…
Out of the Dark Jack-o-Lantern
Glowing With Fire Jack-o-Lantern
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Last week my office held an auction to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The items that were auctioned were theme based baskets that were created by AOL employees as well as AOL’s partners. All of the proceeds from the auctions went to the American Cancer Society.
Barbie and I ended up winning three items that we bid on. The last of our one items arrived today and we laughed heartily when we got it into our house. This basked was called the “Baltimore Basket of Cheer” since it was assembled by AOL’s Baltimore office.
The picture below was taken (appropriately) in what we are calling our “cantina”.
The 2011 November General Elections are quickly approaching and with them marks the culmination of the current election season.
I pride myself on being a good civic-minded citizen and try to research all of the issues and candidates for every election I can vote in. The ability to to this research is occasionally inhibited by trite marketing that I find extremely annoying.
I think everyone has seen this “poli-marketing” all over this country – the signage and air-time that is dedicated to a marketing brand rather than the substance behind the options presented on a ballot. I know that this trite-ness is by and large a by-product of the economics where political advertisements are competing for the same real estate (both literal and metaphorical) as businesses that are also advertising.
With that preface, I must admit that I am amazed that I found the video below captivating. This video is one that was released just this week and it supports interim San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in his candidacy for a second full term in that office. This video doesn’t mention any of Lee’s qualifications or positions on anything that he will be entrusted with if he wins. Instead, it is a 2:20 barrage of celebrity endorsements from the citizens where he is seeking election. And it is a very elegant package of them.
The San Francisco celebrities in the video include:
- Brian Wilson (Current SF Giants Pitcher)
- MC Hammer (Rapper)
- Will.I.Am (Pop Artist and Music Producer)
- Biz Stone (Founder of SF-Based Twitter)
- Ronnie Lott (Past SF 49ers Linebacker)
- Willie Brown (former Mayor of SF)
- Jed York (SF 49ers Owner)
- Marissa Mayor (VP of SF-based Google)
- Hunter Walk (Director of SF-based YouTube)
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Following three days of rain, we finally got a break from the weather this afternoon. As luck would have it the rain stopped and the sun began to break through the clouds just as I got home from work today.
I decided to take a couple pictures of the rain as it sat on some of the plants in our back yard before they evaporated or fell to the ground.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I saw this on Ted Leonsis’ blog with a comment about getting chills watching it. I must say that by half way though the 7 minute video I was indeed sitting with goose bumps as I remembered watching some of these live and hearing about them from older family members.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
I took this picture if one of the trees in our back yard this morning. It looks like the foliage around our home is quickly moving into "full burn" colors.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Last month Barbie got a telescope for her birthday. Earlier this week we ordered a t-ring adapter so that we could mount our DSLR camera to it. Today that adapter came in, and once connected we essentially have an extremely powerful lens on a camera body that can capture an incredible amount of information.
Below is one of the images I took with this new combination of technology. This image is un-filtered and had had no changes other than size so that it would fit cleanly in our blog layout (I reduced it from 4372 x 2848 to 548 x 366).
Sunday, October 2, 2011
This pit is different than our previous one in that we can cover it with several pieces of wood within it. This is something that we have really been looking for so that we could try to contain as much spark as possible.
After one night of use, this pit is working very well.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Did you know that each of the main characters in Spongebob Squarepants was inspired by one of the seven deadly sins? I didn’t until I found several articles on the web referencing the audio commentary included with the episode “Plankton!” on the DVD boxset of the show’s first season.
1. Greed (Mr. Krabs) - this is by far the most obvious comparison that can be made. The avarice of Eugene Krabs is made painfully clear throughout the series. He is constantly thinking of ways to turn a profit, even if it involves taking advantage of his friends or putting them in harmful situations! In one episode, he sings a song called “If I Could Talk to Money”...and there’s even a wiki page devoted to compiling all of his greedy plans!
2. Envy (Plankton) - another no brainer. With all of Krabs’ wealth and good fortune, there has been an equal amount of hard luck and failure for his archrival, Sheldon Plankton. Plankton owns a struggling restaurant called “The Chum Bucket” and is consumed with the desire to achieve the success of his adversary. His life’s goal is to steal the Krabby Patty formula from his Krabs and drive his primary competitor out of business.
3. Sloth (Patrick) - the guy lives under a rock for crying out loud! If that isn’t enough to convince you, in the episode “Big Pink Loser” Patrick is given an award for ‘doing absolutely nothing longer than anyone else’. He then proceeds go back under his rock to protect his title.
4. Pride (Sandy) - the fact that Sandy Cheeks is from Texas alone should almost suffice for this one. She is a squirrel that is very proud of her heritage, so much so that in one episode she nearly moved back home! Sandy also takes a great deal of satisfaction in being the only land critter living down in Bikini Bottom among all the fishy folk. Though generally a good-natured individual, Sandy is quick to spout off about the greatness of the Lone Star state or to show off her athleticism in a karate match or a weightlifting contest.
5. Wrath (Squidward) - Squidward Tentacles has no qualms about expressing his negative outlook on life, whether it be by describing how much he hates his job at the Krusty Krab or through outward disdain for his two obnoxious neighbors. He is portrayed as a general failure who refuses to acknowledge his own personal flaws. This constant self-denial manifests itself in a sarcastic sense of humor and resentment toward the society that doesn’t ‘appreciate’ his creativity and clarinet...erm...”skills”.
6. Gluttony (Gary) - now this one’s a bit trickier. Those who have watched a great deal of the series will have noticed a number of jokes about Spongebob having to remember to feed his pet snail. To be honest, Gary doesn’t do a whole lot besides eating and meowing, and the meowing is often due to the fact that he is hungry. Once when Spongebob hadn’t fed his pet, Gary is shown eating parts of their couch! In another episode, Gary runs away from home because Spongebob forgot to feed him for a while. Another time when Spongebob had amnesia, Gary ate a year’s supply of snail food and became morbidly obese! This proves beyond a doubt that when left to his own devices, Gary would rather do nothing but eat.
7. Lust (Spongebob) - our final analogy is probably the least apparent because we typically think of ‘lust’ in a sexual sense. However, the alternative definition for lust is simply “a passionate desire for something”. In this sense of the word, it cannot be denied that our absorbent yellow friend is an extremely lustful creature. Spongebob has a lust for life that is incomparable to most other cartoon characters - he yearns for the affections of both friend and foe alike, is eager to please, and will often stop at nothing to complete a task.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
A few weeks ago a co-worker told me about a new distillery that opened not far from where we live. Catoctin Creek is an organic distillery that is the first one to open in Loudoun County since the end of prohibition. The distillery is very small and is operated by a husband and wife who often solicit help from friends to assist them with the bottling process.
Earlier today we were in an ABC store and happened to see a couple bottles from Catoctin Creek on the shelf. To our surprise, they named their whisky “Mosby’s Spirit.” So, it was a moral imperative that we got one and brought it home to take this picture of two of John Mosby’s namesakes.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Last night a long time friend from New Mexico sent me this video. I wasn’t sure what to expect based on the title, “Land of Enchantment (Orale!)”, so it wasn’t until this morning that I watched it.
I love it! If you haven’t spent much time in New Mexico, you may not truly appreciate all of the humor laced within the song and the images. However, if you have spent any time at all in the southwestern US I am sure you will see or hear a few familiar items.
Thanks uncle Don!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
For most people, including myself many of these memories include feelings of sadness, anger and disbelief. However, as time passes and distance grows between myself and the tragedy of that day I find new elements of solace in remembering and recognizing new acts of courage from that day.
The video below tells the story of some of those acts of selflessness and courage that took place in lower Manhattan on 9/11. Please watch this story and never forget the actions depicted and the sacrifices of everyone who lost some one or something irreplaceable that day.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
This morning we woke with a little anxiety to get outside and see if everything was in it’s place as we expected following Hurricane Irene’s brush with Northern Virginia. As luck would have it, everything seems to have made it through the night of rain and wind with little adverse impact.
I took the video below to document what our back yard looked like for future reference. Some things are worth noting: Before Irene’s eye passed us, we saw strong winds blowing our willow tree from right to left. This morning we had slightly less strong winds blowing our willow tree from left to right (this makes sense when you think about it, but I wasn’t expecting it). Also, our pond level rose roughly 3 inches following the rain.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
We have received quite a few calls, emails and text messages from friends and family over the last couple days expressing concern following the earth quake and in anticipation of Hurricane Irene.
First, and foremost: Thank you. We appreciate and value your concern.
We aren’t anticipating much activity from Irene where we live, but just to keep everyone in the loop I took the video below this afternoon around 3pm in our back yard.
If we see any significant changes in our weather we will post additional images and video.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
In preparation for a family visit Barbie got Mosby’s hair cut for the first time. Mosby is our first pet with long hair, so this was a new experience for all three of us. The groomer that Barbie found came to our house with a mobile salon and after less than an hour of work the result is below:
This is called a “puppy cut” and as soon as I saw him I laughed and said he looked like a bobble head. Although Barbie also thought it was a little funny looking, she didn’t laugh very much at my comment.
In the end, I think we all like Mosby’s new look…even Madison seems to like the new look. Although, I suppose her opinion may be driven by the fact that he lost almost 1/3 of his size with the hair cut.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
Be on the watch.
There are ways out.
There is a light somewhere.
It may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
Be on the watch.
The gods will offer you chances.
You can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
Know it while you have it.
You are marvelous.
The gods wait to delight
Saturday, August 6, 2011
So, if you got here by clicking a link of any kind, please take a couple minutes to save edit that bookmark or delete it and save a new one with our new address.
With the “back-end” changes completed, I moved on to the “front-end” with a major overhaul of the theme on our blog. If you know Barbie, you can most likely identify the image/pattern in the background of this template.
If you have any questions or comments about these changes let us know.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Maddie’s toys are always kept in baskets in our living room. After Mosby joined our family we decided to put his toys in the same baskets. Today we saw that Mosby occasionally can’t get the toy he want’s out because he is so small. When this happens he doesn’t let it deter him…he just gets in the basket as well. This guy is getting so smart!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
We think this is a goldfish, although if we are correct that means that at least one of our carp is spawning with our goldfish. It will be interesting to see what this guy grows up to be.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Early last spring Barbie and I purchased a dozen Mirabilis Jalapa bulbs from a vendor at a local home show. We planted these bulbs a couple months ago and they seemed to immediately take to the earth they were planted in.
We noticed a few weeks ago that these flowers have daily blooms that I would see in the late afternoon when I arrived from work, but by the next morning they were gone.
After some quick internet research, Barbie found that these flowers are also known as “4 O’clock Flowers” because they tend to only bloom in the late afternoon. Mystery solved.
Below are a few images of the beautiful colors that we see in these blooms daily:
Sunday, July 24, 2011
With more than a week of triple digit temperatures behind us and no end in sight we decided to take the dogs to the pool. Well a plastic kiddie pool.
Madison has never been in a pool like this before (bathtubs frequently, shallow streams years ago), and Mosby has definitely never been in anything like this. So, we weren’t sure what to expect when both dogs got in the water. We were very pleased with both dogs reactions.
We both laughed heartily as we saw Mosby’s fur on the bottoms of hi legs expand in the water while the fur on the tops of his legs was flat – he looked like he had bell-bottoms on.
Although this video is less than 5 minutes long, we had them in the water for nearly 15 minutes before deciding to head back in to the air conditioning.
Monday, July 18, 2011
As long as I have had Maddie, I try to take her with me every time I go to The Home Depot. When Barbie came into my life she adopted this methodology as well. We do this not only to spend time together, but also because the employees at The Home Depot are extremely kind to the dogs with frequent offers of water and praise.
Today was the first time that we made one of these trips since getting Mosby, so of course we included him in this tradition.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
This evening Mosby took his first bath since becoming a member of our family. As we expected, when Mosby is wet his size reduced dramatically. However, we were a bit surprised at how much smaller he looked.
It’s amazing how cute he looks when he is dry and fluffy compared to how vulnerable he looks when he is wet.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Although we had been telling Maddie that a new puppy was coming for a few weeks, we were still very careful of how we introduced her to Mosby. Once we got home we brought Maddie outside to meet Mosby in the front yard so that they would essentially meet on “neutral ground”
The initial interaction was very good, so we decided to take a quick video of both dogs getting familiar with one another. The video is very jumpy as we were trying to track quick small animals close to the ground.
After 15 minutes or so in the front yard we headed inside for a water break and to cool off.
Once we had all settled down a bit we introduced Mosby to the back yard. This was something that we were both slightly anxious about since we did not know what to expect from Mosby when he first saw the pond or even the gravel.
As you can tell, Mosby didn’t have much of a reaction to anything in the back yard other than a neighbors dog that barked.