Monday, December 30, 2013

Body Heat Map of Emotions

While listening to NPR today, I heard about a study from Finland that mapped body heat based on emotional state.  The image below is a summary of that study’s findings.  Warm colors indicate an active area of the body, where cool colors indicate deactivated areas of the body. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Space Shuttle Discovery

Today I took my father to the Udvar-Hazy Building at the Air and Space Museum.  It has been a while since I was inside last, so I was really looking forward to seeing the Shuttle Discovery on display.  I was quite excited to see how beautiful it looks.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Our Christmas Village

Nearly a year ago, Barbie’s mom gave one of her most personal possessions: her Christmas village.  This village has been something that she has been adding to for over a decade and it has become something that all of her friends and family in southern Arizona included on their things to see during the holiday season.

Although we have had this village in our home for almost a year we hadn’t opened up any of the boxes it was shipped to us in until she was with us to help us understand and recognize what each piece was.

The video below is a walk-through of the village after it was completely assembled.  Barbie and I are really looking forward to adding to this gift in the years to come.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Washington Monument Scaffolding

The Washington Monument has been covered in scaffolding for nearly 2 years.  The structure was damaged in an earthquake in 2011, and soon there after it was closed to the public while repairs made it safe again.

Recently the repairs have been coming to a conclusion and the scaffolding has started to come down.  I was in Washington this morning and took some pictures as I drove by it on Constitution Ave.  It makes me happy to see it reappearing again.

IMG 1441

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Care Package from Arizona

Barbie’s mom, Mery, arrived today and she brought with her a TON of food from Arizona.

In addition to sixteen dozen tamales that Mery, Barbie’s sisters, and nieces made for us, she also brought thirty dozen home made flour tortillas, six pounds of chorizo and a bunch of Mexican candies.  As good as this food will be to eat, I suspect it will be gone in a few months!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Anthem Arizona's Veteran's Memorial

This Veteran’s Memorial in Anthem Arizona only lines up like this once a year.  At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Chicago Fire(works)

My trip home from Albuquerque included a connection in Chicago.  While we were taxiing to take off, I noticed a few fireworks over the horizon in the night sky.  Once we got in the air, I took the video below as we flew over US Cellular Field (the home of the White Sox).

Parting Shots From Albuquerque

As my plane pulled away from the gate, rain began to fall in Albuquerque.  Once we got into the air, it was clear that the rain falling on the eastern side of the city close to the mountains.

As we flew north over the city, the skies be can to clear up just in time for me to take a picture of the thriving Rio Grande Bosque below.

Our flightpath out of Albuquerque continued north along the Rio Grande and as we reached the northern edge of the city, the rain began to fall over the river.

Once we got clear of the city of Albuquerque, we climbed above most of the clouds and the sky looked like a shade of blue that was absolutely beautiful.

Some Things Never Change…Thank Goodness

Today was my last day in Albuquerque.  Although I was looking forward to coming home to Barbie, I was sad to leave my dad.  However, as I was heading to my gate in the airport I spotted something that I remembered from my childhood.

Some of my oldest memories of the airport as a kid included gazing through dozens of model airplanes with my dad.  I was happy to see that the airport still maintains a small area in the main terminal where some of these models are still on display.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Admiring My Mountains

Since Barbie and I both grew up in the Southwestern US, we were raised close to elements of the Rocky Mountains.  This results in us each having our own "versions" of mountains in our minds, which differ greatly from what we see near our home near the Appalachian Mountains.

When I think of mountains, most of the time I am picturing an image like the one I saw today below.

Visiting the Pueblo Montaño Trailhead

One of the things that makes it clear to me that I still consider Albuquerque home is how the events of late June, 2003 still effect me.  I hadn't lived there in years at that point, but on June 25th, 2003 a human-caused fire scorched over 250 acres of the Rio Grande Bosque.  This fire burned on both sides of the Rio Grande and when it was finally extinguished it left a line of black scar that bisected the city of Albuquerque in half.

Today, my dad and I stopped at the Pueblo Montaño Trailhead on our way to breakfast so that he could show me something.  A retired Albuquerque firefighter has been using the remains of the burned cottonwood trees as canvases for his chainsaw art.  Below are some of the ways that he has re-purposed these trees.




Thursday, August 22, 2013

Touchdown In Albuquerque

It was late when I landed in Albuquerque, but even before I saw my dad I was greeted by a few familiar things when I stepped off the jetway.  The first is a large bronze statue called "Dream of Flight" which was installed in the airport as part of a major renovation in 1989.

The second item that was unexpectedly welcoming to me was the ceiling in the main terminal.  This ceiling is the only part of the airport that existed before the 1989 remodel that remains.  I'm not sure how many people actually bother to look up at the wooden beams that support the ceiling above them, but I know I did right away and many good memories came to mind.

On My Way To Albuquerque

On my way to Albuquerque I was taken aback by the beautiful sky as my plane ascended to start flying west.  The sights outside my window were so striking that I took a few pictures to document what I was seeing.


Friday, August 16, 2013

It's Hatch Green Chile Season

A couple days ago Barbie happened to see an ad insert in the newspaper for a local grocery store that was highlighting the fact that they were going to be carrying Hatch Green Chile today.  To say we were excited to see this would be an understatement, so we have been literally counting the days until today when we showed up to take a look at what they had.

To our surprise, we arrived before the produce department had a chance to set up the display.  So, we convinced the store manager to bring the un-opened cases out to us (in the middle of the produce department) so that we could sort through the chilies inside.

So, there we were.  Tearing through the chilies pulling out the best one by one.  By the time we both finished going through the entire supply, we had separated over six pounds of chile to take to the cashier and eventually take home with us.

After we got home, we decided to split our stash in two and roast half right away.  We briefly debated if we should roast them over one of the stove burners, or on the grill.  The grill won the debate simply because it was a nice evening and we hadn't used it to roast chilies before.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Maddie is Chillin'

We have been spending more time relaxing in the yard lately with some more forgiving temperatures lately.  From the looks of it, Maddie is also enjoying spending time in the hammock.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


It took us just over a week to finish, but our puzzle is now complete.  Woo!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mosby Continues to Supervise

As we keep working on our jigsaw puzzle, Mosby seems more and more interested in what we are doing.  You can see him to my right in the picture below.  :-)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Retro Entertainment

Today we decided to opt in to some "old school" entertainment by starting a 2000 piece Ravensburger jigsaw puzzle.  It's been a few years since we put one together, so we have been looking forward to doing another one for a while now.

Our approach to building the puzzle is pretty textbook in that we started by framing the boarder.

After the boarder was completed, we began sorting the remaining pieces by colors to begin segmenting them into the areas of the boarder that they matched.  (Mosby decided to help me with this step.)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

See You Later Jorge

Today was the day that we were least looking forward to of Jorge's visit - they day he left to go home to Tucson.  Saying goodbye to loved ones at the airport is something that I have been doing since before I was in grade school.  Because of this I made it a point to coach Barbie into not crying as to prevent Jorge from getting sad.  I also spent a good deal of time talking to Jorge about the fact that I would not cry when he leaves because I am going to be thinking of all the good memories we had, and not about the fact that he is leaving.

I was very happy to see that my efforts paid off.  On the way to the airport we told Jorge that we don't say "goodbye" when we leave family and friends, but rather we say something like "see you later."  This helps us to stay focused on those good memories and avoid the sad feelings that sometimes come with goodbye's.

Sure enough, when they announced that pre-boarding was starting Barbie and I both gave Jorge big hugs and thanked him for coming and that we would see him soon.  Jorge reciprocated the sentiment and smiled at us both as he said he would see us later.

Although this event was something I had been through dozens of times (although I was always on the kid side in the past), I got to do something for the first time.  As Barbie and I sat and waited for the rest of the plane to board and pull away we met another couple who had just put their granddaughter on the same plane as an unaccompanied minor.

Barbie and I got a chance to visit with them and exchange stories about the month they got to spend with their 11 year-old granddaughter and the month that we got to spend with our 12 year-old nephew.  The stories that we shared really helped all four of us feel better as we sat and waited to see the plane take off.

Jorge Discovers Magnifying Glasses

While we were packing for Jorge's departure, he discovered a pair of magnifying glasses that we use when working with small items.  Things like building micro circuit boards and super-small stitches are what we normally use them for, but he literally loved looking at everything with them.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Playing Ultima

One of the things that Barbie and I absolutely love to do when we visit family in Tucson is play Ultima. Ultima is a mexican version of Domino's.  The games are virtually identical with only a few differences in game play and scoring.

As a kid, Jorge was often not able to get a seat in the larger games because there were so many adults playing.  So, during his visit we made it a point to teach him how to play and to play a few games with him.

As you can tell by the smile on his face, he really enjoyed being able to play with us late into the evening.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jorge Gets Up Close With Geese

Throughout his visit, Jorge was amazed at the number of geese that he would see around ponds near neighborhoods and shopping centers.  As we were leaving the house today, Jorge saw some geese on the walking path near one of these ponds so we quickly ran back into the house to get some bread so that he could feed them.

Although he was excited to feed the geese, Jorge was a bit timid of them once he saw how big they were up close.  The video below is the first time he fed them.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dominion At Dusk

Just past the "International Street" attraction at the entrance to the park, is a 1/3 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower.  We decided to take a trip to the top to watch Jorge's 4th Fireworks display of the summer.

This was Jorge's first time seeing arial fireworks from eye level since we were roughly 340 feet in the air.

The fireworks display was only about 20 minutes long, but the finale was pretty good and the view was awesome!

Jorge's Front Row Ride on the Dominator

The picture above is the Dominator roller coaster at King's Dominion and it is now Jorge's favorite one.  This coaster is a steel floor less coaster that was opened in 2008.  The ride lasts 2:06, travels at 65 mph, has 5 inversions, has a maximum drop of 148ft, and is 4,210 feet in length.

When we first came to this coaster, Jorge was really excited since he had never been on one that went upside down.  So, Barbie and I decided to go on it with him.  The first ride was awesome!  Jorge laughed with joy the entire ride.  We quickly decided to take another turn, and Jorge enjoyed the ride even more.

For the third ride, Jorge said that he wanted to be in the front row.  And he said he wanted to try riding it alone.  So, Barbie and I waited and watched for him at the bottom of the first drop where we captured the video below:

Jorge kept his hands up the entire ride!  He actually had rock fists in the air when he passed by the coaster camera.

If you are curious to see what Jorge experienced on this ride, you can watch the video below.  It was posted by a roller coaster blog that recorded the Dominator ride from the front row just a couple years earlier.

Jorge Rides the Avalance

The roller coaster above is the Avalanche at King's Dominion.  This is a bobsled style coaster in that it does not roll on a traditional track or pipe.  Instead it is released into a series of chutes and half pipes after being lift ed 69 feet to the top of the ride.  Once released it travels 3,200 feet at 41 mph over 90 seconds back to the main station.

This ride was the first coaster that Jorge rode on this visit.

Dinosaurs Alive at King's Dominion

One of the first attractions we ventured into was a new one at King's Dominion called Dinosaurs Alive.  This attraction is based on animatronic life size dinosaurs.  As you pass through the attraction you not only get an appreciation for the scale of these dinosaurs, but also how they lived, and how many of them would die.

The video below was taken before Jorge found out that there were motion sensors that were triggered when guests would approach each dinosaur.

King's Dominion Arrival

Anyone who has been to King's Dominion before knows of the water fountains along "International Street".  For most people this is just an obstacle that is between the entrance and most of the rides.  However, for a young man from southern Arizona these were worth stopping to admire.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

Another Beautiful Day At The Pool

What better way to recover from the 4th of July, than to spend the day at the pool.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4th At The Great Meadow

With the actual Independence Day finally here, Jorge got to see his third areal fireworks display at the Great Meadow.  This display was the longest one of the week at 35+ minutes.  It was also the one with the highest attendance with over 20,000 people watching the sky with us.

Jorge Takes On An Obstacle Course

Today I took Jorge to the Great Meadow for some Independence Day activities.  Several of the activities that were set up were obstacle courses.  When I showed Jorge what these courses looked like, he was immediately drawn to the tallest one and was eager to try it.  Below is a video I took of his run through the course.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Star Spangled South Riding

Tonight was the second fireworks event for Jorge's visit, as we went to South Riding to enjoy their festivities.  The video below is the last 60 seconds of the 20 minute display.  Throughout the entire display Jorge was "ooh-ing" and "wow-ing" with every new color or design that he saw in the sky.

Jorge Catches His First Lightning Bug

A few days ago I showed Jorge what a lightning bug was.  We were on the deck as the sun was setting and a few of them began to light up near some bushes on the ground.  The following night we went out to the grass as the sun set, but a stiff breeze kept most of the lightning bugs on the ground.

Tonight we headed over to South Riding to their Independence Day celebration, and as we were listening to live music waiting for fireworks to start Jorge saw a few lightning bugs.  After less than a minute of trying, he caught one.  The video below is him opening his hands to get his first up close look at one.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Dogs Are Used to Jorge

After less than a week of Jorge's visit, both of our dogs have become so comfortable with him that they sleep with him on the couch.  We took this picture while Jorge was playing Minecraft on the XBox.  Maddie is easy to see, but if you look closely at Jorge's right knee you will also see Mosby.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Red, White and Bram

After his climbing victory, we took Jorge to see a movie.  This was a big deal for him since he is 12 years-old and we were going to see a PG-13 movie (White House Down).

The movie was good, and we all ate popcorn and candy so it was a fun night.  However, Jorge did not know that the movie was a distraction as next door to the parking garage for the theatre was an Independence Day celebration called "Red, White and Bram" which was sponsored by the Brambleton Home Owners Association.

This celebration is the first of a few we will be taking Jorge to where they will have arial fireworks displays, so for him it was quite a surprise to walk out of the movie theatre towards the car and see everyone looking up at the sky.

He was so exited to tell everyone back in Tucson what he was seeing that he tried to capture exactly what he saw by putting his video camera just below is eye while he recorded the fireworks.

Jorge Climbs A Mountain

Today we took Jorge to a community event honoring area First Responders.  The day was pretty fun with lots of people in attendance, radio controlled airplanes, plenty of food, and a rock climbing wall.

Jorge was eager to try to climb the wall, but it was clear that he wasn't sure how to do it.  His first attempt was slow and meticulous, and he only made it about 12 feet up the 35 foot structure before he climbed down.

His second attempt was made after he watched a young girl climb up who showed him how to find the best holds on the way up.  During his second attempt that girl, named Madison, also helped cheer him up to the top where he was able to hit a victory button the sounded a siren.  However, Jorge wash't confident enough to repel back down using the harness he was wearing.  Instead he climbed down with a huge grin on his face the whole way.

For his third attempt, Jorge was ready to race to the top and repel back down.  He was so confident that he asked me to record it for him.  You can watch it below as well:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just Keep Swimming...

Jorge has taken to swimming better that we expected.   He has only been to a couple of classes so far, and he is already loving it (as you can tell by the smile on his face below).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jorge Starts Swimming Lessons

While Jorge is here we are going to try an expose him to quite a few experiences that he may not get a chance to experience at home.  Today is the first of those experiences with swimming lessons.