Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stardate 62244.74 - Alison's Birthday

I picked Cheryl and Loren up from gymnastics class in the car and then we drove up to Denise and Greg's place in Monroe, NY (after a brief shopping detour on the way). It was their daughter Alison's Third Birthday party. We ate too much cake and ice cream and probably drank too much beer, but fill a room full of toddlers and you do what you need to in order to survive! ;-) It was a great party and everyone had lots of fun. We forgot our camera, so Denise was nice enough to send these to us today.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Stardate 62240.01 - AAE, The Story So Far

Yes, before you ask I did submit some footage for her video and yes I ended up on the editing room floor. Such is show business! ;-)


Stardate 62239.71 - Easter, Part Four

After Dad and Ma-maw left for Richmond, we went over to Tracy's so Loren could see the horses.

Zach was very excited to show Loren the barn.

Loren wasn't too sure she liked the horses. One of Tracy's dogs, Shadow, kept jumping on Loren and Loren kept telling him to "get down!" Later she said, "I don't like Shadow!" Once we got back home, however, she has continued to say, "Who was the jumping dog? Shadow!"

Loren loved playing in Zach's room with all his toys, and when we told her it was time to leave, she said, "No, I'm playing all day long!"

Here is the standard picture of Cheryl driving us back (she took the first shift).

Here Loren and Daddy party in the back seat. Things went well for the first 2 hours, until she put about 10 bunny crackers in her mouth and then decided she didn't like them and spit out a large, spitty wad of mushy crackers all over her, her seat, and her clothes.


Stardate 62239.68 - Easter, Part Three

After Church on Sunday, Loren hunted Easter Eggs (again!) around the house. My Dad and Ma-Maw drove down from Richmond and Tracy and Zach came over as well.

Here Loren and her cousin Zach pose with a basket of eggs.

Dad, Ma-Maw, and Loren pose for a picture.

Here Loren ponders her very first peep!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stardate 62237.04 - Easter, Part Two

Saturday afternoon there was an Easter Egg hunt at church, and they had a special area set up outside for the little kids and another area set up for the bigger kids. We got there a little early because it was getting close to Loren's nap, so she played inside the fellowship hall for a short time.

Then she checked out the nursery and all the toys there.

She finally got to go outside and hunt eggs. Cousin Zach helped her a lot, and made sure she got an opportunity to find some eggs.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stardate 62234.28 - Easter, Part One

In an effort to avoid a long trip in the car, we left Thursday afternoon for Virginia with the plan being to stop in Harrisburg, PA for the night. The trip took about an hour longer than normal due to the traffic. At one point, as we were stuck in traffic on the west side on the approach to the Lincoln Tunnel, Loren said, "We're almost at the hotel!" Here she is posing in the chair at the Hilton in Harrisburg.

Friday we got up and headed on down to VA, encountering no major traffic issues. No trip to Nana and Cracker's would be complete without a trip down to the river, so here are some pictures of Loren at the river and Nana teaching Loren how to throw things into the river.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stardate 62231.64 - Loren Paints Eggs

On Wednesday of last week Loren colored Easter Eggs at home, prior to our Thursday departure to Virginia for Easter weekend.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Stardate 62229.10 - Loren Plays the Harmonica

Here is a video of Loren playing the harmonica for the first time at Nana and Cracker's house.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stardate 62217.07 - Road Trip!

Much as my friend James recently experienced, we recently took our car in for a routine oil change and to have a tire checked for a slow leak, and hundreds and hundreds of dollars later we're ready for a drive down to Virginia to visit family for the weekend. And just like James experienced, they did vacuum out the interior, wash the exterior, and polish up the tires as part of the service.

Now we're ready for a road trip!!


Monday, March 17, 2008

Stardate 62209.02 - Happy St. Patrick's Day

Ah, St. Paddy's Day! That time of the year when New Yorkers take a day off to get drunk, watch the parade, get drunk, go to bars, get drunk, and stumble out into the street (drunk!) during the evening commute. Last year Cheryl and Loren were nearly run down by a bunch of drunk fire fighters falling out of a pub (in uniform, no less!).

I guess I missed the part of the Bible that says Saints should be celebrated by getting drunk. I'm sure St. Patrick would be proud.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Stardate 62206.30 - Everything is Illuminated

Cheryl and I watched Everything is Illuminated Saturday night. Cheryl had previously read the book, I had not. The general plot is that an American Jewish man of East European descent returns to the Ukraine to find a woman who may have helped his grandfather escape from the Nazis.

In general, it was disappointing. Cheryl thought that 10 minutes in or so it managed to capture the dark humor of the book, but it then lost it very quickly. It was uneven and very slow in parts, while quite funny here and there but just not consistent. Cheryl also thought it seemed quite different from the book in many places, at least as far as she could remember.

I think we have to give this one two thumbs down. Cheryl fell asleep 20 minutes before the end and plans to watch what she missed later today, but her mind is pretty much made up.


Stardate 62205.83 - Crane Collapse in Manhattan

You may have seen the story yesterday or this morning about the Crane Collapse in Manhattan that killed 4 people. While this was about 10 or so blocks to the south of us, we're all fine.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stardate 62203.05 - Start of the Weekend

Friday night Loren wanted a glass to drink out of instead of one of her cups, and since we were not so sure we wanted to deal with the probable mess and potential danger of giving her a glass glass to drink out of, Cheryl turned it into a request for her sunglasses.

I then tried to take a couple of pictures of the two of us, but Loren kept running around to see the back of the camera (where the screen is) to see how the picture turned out. But she would start to move before I could take the picture.

Then Loren and Cheryl watched a Dora episode before bed.

This morning she was in full teenager mode and didn't want to get out of bed.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Stardate 62200.47 - A Planned “Day of Remembrance”

A Planned “Day of Remembrance” to Honor the Victims of Last April 16th

(((I am re-publishing this newsletter I received from VA Tech.)))

On the anniversary of April 16, there are plans to honor the victims of that tragic date. Throughout the entire Hokie Nation, wherever you may reside, we hope you will take a moment or longer to reflect on “the 32 inquiring minds and inspiring lives that will be forever treasured.” Those words are from the inscription on the dedication plaque placed at the permanent April 16 Memorial on campus.

The anniversary day will be observed on campus in a variety of ways -- engaging students, faculty, staff, alumni and other visitors to honor the victims and celebrate the special bond and Hokie spirit that has enabled healing over these past months. There will be no classes held that day in order that those on campus can participate in various observances and activities. However, all university offices and services will be open.

There has been considerable thought and planning concerning on-campus activities for the anniversary observance – A Day of Remembrance – on April 16, 2008. A committee, appointed by President Steger and chaired by Provost Mark McNamee, solicited input from students, faculty and staff on campus, plus members of the local community and those family members directly affected by the tragedy.

Several major decisions emerged by consensus from the committee’s deliberations… April 16, 2008 will focus on the lives of the 32 innocent students and faculty members who were killed on April 16, 2007; events will be simple and respectful; opportunities will be provided for anyone who wishes to honor the memories of the victims.

In the spirit of these guidelines, the following events will represent the official university commemoration, “A Day of Remembrance” on April 16.

  • 10:30 a.m. to noon - University Commemoration Event, Drillfield (rain or shine): The names of each innocent victim and a few words about the special qualities of each will be read aloud. President Steger will welcome those assembled.

  • Sundown (approximately 7:45 p.m.) - Candlelight Vigil, Drillfield (rain or shine): The students of Virginia Tech will sponsor and organize a candlelight vigil beginning at sundown. The initial lighting of candles will begin by using a ceremonial candle at the April 16 Memorial that will burn through the entire day.

In addition, between noon and 5:00 p.m., the university will provide venues across campus where individuals or groups may wish to express or witness remembrances in the form of poetry or other readings; writing; musical or artistic performances; art creation; flower planting; or other activities, including service activities. The goal is to balance opportunities for individual, informal expression with some structured activities.

Many of our alumni chapters are coordinating service activities as part of the “VT-ENGAGE” initiative launched last fall to accumulate 600,000 service hours performed by the Hokie Nation. For example, some chapter areas are promoting a VirginiaTechforlife Blood Drive that alumni may choose to participate in, whether in organized group settings arranged by chapters or individually through local Red Cross or other donation centers. A link to blood donation sites may be found through our Association homepage,

As it becomes available, all information will be posted on the April 16, 2008: A Day of Remembrance website ( This website is linked to the university homepage and will continue to add in opportunities, such as those kinds of activities described in the previous two paragraphs, as they are planned.

Additional Activities…

Our students are also sponsoring a university and community picnic on Sunday, April 20, 2008 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. This picnic will recognize and support everyone who contributed in so many important ways to the April 16 emergency response, and the immediate and ongoing recovery and support efforts. Introductions will occur at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Megan Armbruster from the Office of Recovery and Support will serve as the operational director for the April 16 anniversary events. She has begun her work with many university offices on logistics and support issues, and is assembling a task force for the events. All questions and suggestions should be sent to her e-mail -

Those who wish may view the 10:30 a.m. University Commemoration Event on April 16. Details regarding its broadcast may be found at the website as the anniversary date approaches.

In closing, I wish to express appreciation for the thousands of expressions of sympathy and support that have poured into our campus from alumni and friends over the months that followed last April. We have been moved and inspired by the bonds within a worldwide community of Virginia Tech alumni, plus many millions more, who shared the shock and pain of the tragedy. The very recent deaths on the Northern Illinois campus were a poignant reminder of how senseless violence can strike again and paralyze a community that binds many hearts, and branches out in so many directions. It is because we connect to our larger families of alumni that we are better able to endure, to honor the victims whose lives we treasure, and to move forward with conviction.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

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Renegade filmmaker Jessica Mae Stover is changing the way films are made by engaging her audience. In producing her short sci-fi film Artemis Eternal, she has empowered the viewer (namely, You) to participate. $1 gets you in the web credits, $25 gets you in the movie credits, and $100 gets you Wingman status.Be sure to visit the Digg entry and DiggIt!

read more | digg story

Stardate 62197.99 - Only in New York

Here is a crazy story, but I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty. For people who know the real names, please don’t mention them in the comments. Not that I ever get any comments, but you never know.

We ordered a leather chair from a place I’ll call “the company”. We love it, but about 2 weeks after we received it I happened to be sitting on the floor, playing with Loren, and I leaned over to get something from under the chair and noticed that the back right leg was actually broken, with a triangular piece missing and a screw visible. The break was in a place only noticeable if you were on the floor, looking under the chair. So we called the company and they sent a person over to look at it (I was hoping he’d show up with a replacement leg).

So he shows up, comes in very quickly, looks at the leg, says “Yes, you need a replacement” and leaves the apartment. Then he knocks and comes back inside and says, “I was supposed to take a picture.” So he does. Then he asks, “Can you see the street from here?” I tell him no, and he mumbles something about parking and leaves. I assume it is one of those deals where he is worried about the parking meter, but oh no, it was much worse than that.

60 seconds later he is knocking on the door again. He asks if he can look out the window to see the street, so I let him (although at this point I’m wondering what the hell is going on). He says he cannot see the front of the building (I live here, I already knew that, and I already told you that!), and mumbles something about “not wanting to get his brother in trouble because he’s using his pass.” At this point I figure his brother is with the city, or is a fireman, or is a policeman and this idiot is using his official parking pass when he visits apartments to take pictures of furniture.

He then asks me to call the doorman “to see if the police are still at my car.” At this point I should have declined and sent him on his way but I’m a helpful guy so I call down and ask and the doorman says, “Yes, there are police all around.” I tell the guy, and he asks if there is a place he can watch the front of the building without being seen, so he can wait until they leave. Now, I've watched Cops on Fox enough that I know if you make the police chase you, or wait for you, that they just get pissed off--they don't just leave. I tell him no place in the building (including the roof deck) looks over the front of the building, other than the lobby (which is not too big and has huge glass windows so you can see out and everyone can see in). He acts really concerned, but leaves.

The doorman calls up 5 minutes later asking if the car is mine. I tell him no, it belongs to a guy who was here for a service call, and he tells me it is about to be ticketed and the police are getting angry. I tell him the guy has left my apartment and I assume he is on his way down there.

Later I go down and talk to the doorman. Apparently the guy did something on the road that attracted the attention of the State Highway Patrol, so that when he parked directly in front of our building in a “No-Parking (Except on Sunday)” zone with his brother’s police parking pass and ran into our building they swarmed around his car, waiting for him to come back. He hid in our laundry room for a while (apartments in NYC typically have cameras everywhere so the doorman and super were tracking his movements), later tried to offer the doorman $15 to go out and move the car, and finally went out and got into a yelling match with the police about how they “can’t look inside the car without a warrant!” The doorman thought he was going to be arrested, but after 20 minutes they just wrote him a bunch of tickets and let him go. I apologized to our doorman and told him the guy was just here to look at a piece of furniture and I didn't mean to involve him in something, and he told me it was the most exciting part of his boring day.

We didn’t call the company to report this guy’s behavior, which I assume would result in him being fired. Should we have?


The copyright holder of the photo above, Nate Enyedi, allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Redistribution, derivative work, commercial use, and all other use is permitted

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stardate 62195.71 - Smokin' Aces

I watched Smokin' Aces recently off of the DVR (recorded in High Definition). I had zero expectations going in, so I was pleasantly surprised. I thought (maybe incorrectly) that it didn't take itself too seriously, and while it was incredibly violent, having easily recognized actors in all the main roles made it less real and more campy.

Not one for the kids, and not one Cheryl would have enjoyed, but I give it a thumbs up. If you want loads of violence with some camp, this movie might be for you.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Stardate 62191.05 - Spitzer Must Resign

In case you missed it, our Governor was just caught up in a prostitution sting. Eliot Spitzer, a former state attorney general who was elected on a platform of cleaning up Albany, has been charged with a Federal Crime (violating the Mann Act, passed by Congress in 1910 to address prostitution) for arranging for the transportation of a prostitute across state lines.

It is bad enough that he now looks like a complete and total hypocrite, but he has probably just cost the Democrats control over the NY State Senate, which they were poised to win this fall. Even worse, "as attorney general Mr. Spitzer also had prosecuted at least two prostitution rings as head of the state’s organized crime task force" (NY Times). If he were a Republican I would be demanding that he resign, and it would be hypocritical of me to not do so now. (For the record, I am an Independent/Moderate, but I think most people know I tend to tilt Democratic.)

Mr. Spitzer, you have disgraced yourself, your party, your family, and your state. Resign immediately so we can get on with business.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Stardate 62186.72 - Casino Royale

I watched Casino Royale on Saturday (Cheryl started to watch but fell asleep). They have done a good job in re-starting the franchise by eliminating "Q" and all the impossible gadgets and making it someone more realistic, at least in terms of equipment. The problem is that all the insane chases that you used to go to a Bond film to see are all done in other movies (like Borne). It is harder and harder to one-up the previous action film with the next. And these chases are all done so well and the budgets are so high that you end up expecting them and they just are not special anymore - they are required. And not really unique. At the start, Cheryl said, "Wasn't there another Bond film with a chase through a construction site? Or was that one of the Borne movies? I cannot remember." When they all start blurring together you see my point that none of them are special anymore.

The story is actually pretty straightforward and easy to follow and Craig is easy to imagine as a British Agent (although Cheryl said he had a "2-hours a day in the gym" body and not a "wiry special agent" body).

Overall I give it a thumbs-up, and while the chases are pretty cool I'm not sure they are all that memorable.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Stardate 62182.83 - Back In Town

I'm back in NYC after a week in Illinois for business, and it is nice to be back. On Sunday in Illinois it was 70 degrees, and by Tuesday afternoon there was 5 inches of snow on the ground and a layer of ice under it. Trying to drive around and get dinner and get to work and everything was not so fun.

While I was there I took the advice of the hotel manager and tried the 17th Street Bar & Grill. She raved about how good it was, even telling us that "Bill Clinton fell in love with it during his campaign and had it flown to the White House once he was president!" I was a little concerned that no-one who was local to the area had ever suggested it in all the times I've been out there over the past 6 months, but there are a lot of places that are easier to find so I figured that was that.

Actually, it was pretty bad. I had the pulled chicken sandwich, which was served on a tasteless white bun that probably came from CostCo. It was composed of pieces of chicken, not shredded chicken, with very little sauce and very little taste. It also had that cheap appearance that chicken at low-budget Asian restaurants has. I am trying to be somewhat healthy, so I ordered the green beans (they came cooked in bacon with bacon pieces included) and a salad (mostly iceberg lettuce). Our waitress was also the bartender, so the service was a bit slow.

When I mentioned where we had gone to some of the local staff, they uniformly stated that the place was completely over-rated, but for some reason the old-time locals loved it. I did not. I found the entire meal to be average at best, and not worth the hassle of following "local" directions that assumed we knew that "turn on 50" meant "go past 50 and turn left on this other road that used to be 50 before the Interstate came to town".

Thumbs down for 17th Street Bar & Grill.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Stardate 62168.99 - Visit from the Past

A classmate of mine from Buffalo Gap High School (Go Bison!) was in town this week with her family, so we met them for lunch at Patsy's near Bloomingdales. I know it is hard to believe, but I haven't always been the suave Manhattanite you read about on this blog. I actually grew up in the country on a small sheep farm and went to a High School with ~700 students, 8th grade through 12th grade. ;-)

Sonya was in town with her husband, their two children, and her parents. It was a big trip for her two girls, and I think there was a lot of American Girl activities, among other tourist stops. So after a morning spent at the gym for family day, we walked over to Patsy's to meet them for a very pleasant lunch. I probably have gone a little too far off the low cholesterol diet this weekend, so I'm going to have to be extra-special diligent this week while I'm away on business. But it was nice to visit and catch up. A friend of mine from college is going to be up here next month with her husband and their children and we are going to get together with them as well. That is one nice thing about living in a tourist location - people come to you!


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Stardate 62166.29 - Visit to NJ

Cheryl took Loren to gymnastics this morning, and I got the car out and picked them up when it was over so we could drive straight to NJ for some visiting. First we went to visit Linda and her children, Hadley and Logan, at Linda's sister's place. Linda lives in Geneva but used to work with Cheryl so we try to visit when she is in town. Loren had a ball playing with all the toys, and I enjoyed putting Thomas the Train tracks together.

Linda's sister has a dog the size of a small pony, and while she was tremendously friendly she was a little scary to the kids. As long as I was petting her she was calm and the kids were brave enough to pet her, too. But once I stopped she jumped up and hopped around and the kids went running!

After lunch and a short visit there, we went to Cheryl's parents' place for a visit and dinner. Loren enjoyed the toys there, and also got in some time in the driveway in the little yellow car. But it was pretty cold, so I cut the outside play short. We had an extremely uneventful trip back into the city and made it home in record time.

Tomorrow is family day at the gym and then we'll meet a high school classmate of mine and her family who happen to be in town for lunch.