Archive for February, 2007

Breach – What Espionage, Dr. Grips and Geocaching Have in Common

This evening Sean and I went to see the movie Breach.  It’s based on the true story of FBI agent Robert Hanssen who served as a spy for Russia and the Soviet Union for at least 15 years.  The movie covers how Hanssen (played by Chris Cooper) was finally caught with the help of a young, wanna-be FBI agent (played by Ryan Phillippe).

I was interested in the film mainly because I’m fond of Chris Cooper.  Little did I know, Cooper had a costar that I’ve been an even greater fan of for much longer.

Early on in the film, Cooper holds up and clicks a thick blue pen.  I recognized it instantly– I have a whole fleet of those pens in a variety of colors and inks.  And, keeping with my practice of selecting gifts based on my tastes, I’ve given a number of people those pens as gifts throughout the years.

“Look!” I whispered to Sean, “A Dr. Grip!”

Just then, Chris Cooper tells Ryan Phillippe, “Best pens in the world!  I never write with anything else.”  

Pilot must be so proud!  Dr. Grip – Writing utensil of choice for international espionage!

Chris Cooper and his esteemed co-star, the Ice Blue Dr. Grip

I was very pleased to see the Dr. Grip’s role to be more than a mere cameo.  In fact, it got a good amount of screen time.  Even though I only whispered once, the Dr. Grip’s prominence throughout the movie did not sneak by Sean.  He had a good quote on what he was thinking as the film progressed:

“Good gawd.  It is like Vicky wrote it and tried to sneak this crap in.”

The Dr. Grip wasn’t the only thing I found familiar during the movie.  Since the film is set in D.C., some key scenes took place on the same roads I take to visit my grandmother.  Rock Creek Park was featured and finally, another park caught my eye.

Near the end of the movie, when Hanssen was making a drop, the park and bridge looked very familiar.  I was, however, able to keep that observation to myself until the credits were rolling.

“That bridge looks very much like a geocache I found,” I told Sean as we exited the theatre.

At that point, Sean marveled at how the movie seemed like it was written just for me.  🙂

I consulted my account when I got home.  The drop scene was familiar for a reason.  Brian Nenninger and I did  find a geocache in September 2003 that was placed specifically with Robert Hanssen in mind (GCC562 The Dead Drop).  And now that my memory is reviving, I believe Brian picked out that cache because of its sorted history!

Anyway, since I’m still giddy at the Dr. Grip’s appearence and the geocache coincidence,  I think it is safe to say I enjoyed Breach.  And… I suspect it might even hold some appeal to those who do not write exclusively with Dr. Grips or who haven’t mucked around in the same mud as the main character.  🙂

February 27, 2007 at 11:19 pm 9 comments

Bill: Almost Assimilated

Well, I believe I can report that assimilation of Bill C to my hobbies is progressing.  Not only has he joined me on a few hikes this year (including Mt. Rogers and Butt Mountain), but tonight he returned from his three week vacation to Australia where he found his very first geocache

Not only that, he took the M-Memory travel bug all the way from Virginia and dropped it off in Australia.  That’s a lot of mileage for a humble little travel bug!  I can’t say I’ve progressed a travel bug that far (France is as far as I’ve gotten).  What a great first cache and travel bug experience!  Congrats to Bill!

As reward to Bill, I can advance his assimilation to the next phase…. Project Runway.  😉

All kidding aside, if you are interested in Bill’s Australia pictures, they are available on his Flickr site.

February 26, 2007 at 1:49 am 1 comment

Malcolm X, Prison…and Moss

When Malcolm Little (later known as Malcolm X) was incarcerated in 1946, he found the prison experience to dramatically transform his life.  By painstakingly copying the dictionary page by page, he expanded his vocabulary and evolved his penmanship.  Thanks to the well-furnished library of the Norfolk Prison Colony, he educated himself on a variety of subjects including history, philosophy and religion.  Finally, by participating in the weekly debates, he discovered he had a passion for public speaking.  Some quotes from The Autobiography of Malcolm X (most from Chapter 11 – Saved) on his prison experiences:

Effect of Prison Studies
“Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I’ve said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade.  This impression is due entirely to my prison studies.”

Truly Free
“Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading on my bunk.  You couldn’t have gotten me out of books with a wedge.  Between Mr. Muhammand’s teachings, my correspondence, my visitors– usually Ella and Reginald– and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned.  In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.”

Prison vs. College
“I don’t think anybody ever got more out of going to prison than I did.  In fact, prison enabled me to study far more intensively than I would have if my life had gone differently and I had attended some college.  I imagine that one of the biggest troubles with colleges is there are too many distractions, too much panty-raiding, fraternities, and boola-boola and all of that.  Where else but in a prison could I have attacked my ignorance by being able to study intensively sometimes as much as fifteen hours a day?”

On Public Speaking
“Standing up and speaking before an audience was a thing that throughout my previous life never would have crossed my mind.  Out there in the streets, hustling, pushing dope, and robbing, I could have had the dreams from a pound of hashish and I’d never have dreamed anything so wild as that one day I would speak in coliseums and arenas, at the greatest American universities, and on radio and television programs, not to mention speaking all over Egypt and Africa and in England.

But I will tell you that, right there, in the prison, debating, speaking to a crowd, was as exhilarating to me as the discovery of knowledge through reading had been.”

If Motivated…
“In the hectic pace of the world today, there is no time for meditation, or for deep thought. A prisoner has time that he can put to good use. I’d put prison second to college as the best place for a man to go if he needs to do some thinking. If he’s motivated, in prison he can change his life.”

I know very little about prison.  The closest I’ve come to it was a few years ago, when I got a call at 5 AM to pick up a former co-worker who had partied a little too hard before driving.  So that means the depth of my experience is provided by episodes of Law and Order… and Oz.  From that little experience, I’m prone to believe that Malcolm is right– that there is no one out there who could get more from prison than he did.  It’s easy to believe that because it is my perception that the opportunities Malcolm had, the libraries and the debates, aren’t as prevalent.  I could certainly be wrong, but as it stands, I don’t perceive prison these days to be as a good of a place to reflect and think.

Well regardless of the accuracy of my perceptions, the February 2007 issue of Discover magazine does indicate that there are at least some people out there still managing to learn and uncover their passions while incarcerated.  A short article entitled “Laboratories in Lockdown” highlighted some moss cultivation experiments headed by Nalini Nadkarni.  She’s from Evergreen State College (isn’t that Alex‘s alma mater?), and to help with her experiments she enlisted the aid of inmates from the Cedar Creek Corrections Center. 

She gave them four species of moss, data books, instructions on a few experiments, basic training on measuring techniques and let them have at it.  Not only did Nadkarni get a lot of good data, the exercise was beneficial, and even inspiring, to some of the inmates.

Of the 36 men who cycled through Nadkarni’s greenhouse duty, one inmate went on to study horticulture after he was released.  “He was almost evangelical about his experience because he felt he had something to contribute to science,” she says.
– “Laboratories in Lockdown”, February 2007 issue of Discover

“The turning point for me was volunteer-appreciation night at the prison,” Nadkarni said. “Wayne [Hudspeth, one of the inmates,] spoke about the moss-growing project, saying, ‘It gives me hope and will help sustain me when I get out of here.’ I was bowled over he felt so strongly about it.”
-“Inmates cultivate moss — and new interests in life” from the October 24, 2005 issue of The Seattle Times

Cultivating moss may not cultivate the next Malcolm X, but it is warming to know that there are still people whose lives are getting changed for the better while behind bars.

February 26, 2007 at 1:13 am 9 comments

Cascades: One Week Apart

I have shared photos of different hiking sites during different seasons. I’ve shared photos of my work area four years apart and even a bathroom exit four years apart. Now, I present you with a more modest time frame (though not as modest as toddlers two seconds apart).

Last week, while I was hanging out with Clint, Carolyn and Ryan Somma, Mike E discovered the Cascades were completely frozen!

Mike’s picture from 2/17/2007

Today, the dogs and I headed back. After a week of weather in the forties and fifties, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The falls had melted, but there was still a lot of ice to look at!

Vicky’s picture from 2/24/2007

More Pictures
2/17/2007 Cascades Pictures on Mike’s Flickr account
2/24/2007 Cascades Pictures on my Flickr account

P.S. All my photos were taken with my cell phone camera. My digital camera broke. It appears I’m on the market for TWO digital cameras now.

February 25, 2007 at 12:50 am 3 comments

The Sacrifice of Lent

Yesterday Mike E called me up for lunch.

“Sure,” I said, “But I can’t eat meat.”

Mike hesitated and said, “I thought that was cheese?”

“Well, that too!” I laughed and went on the explain the Friday meat restriction.

Patient Mike ended up picking a good lunch place– Sushi Factory at University Mall! He brought along a co-worker who was also observing Lent. As we enjoyed our meals, Mike’s co-worker pointed out that often on Fridays he ends up eating more extravagantly than usual, because he splurges on seafood.

I never really thought much about it, but that guy sure did hit the nail on the head yesterday! Last night for supper, Ann and I took her kids to Kabuki Japanese Steakhouse. Kabuki turned out to be the perfect place for my Lenten diet. It has plenty of fish and seafood to choose from, lots of veggies, not a single slice of cheese to be found…AND at Kabuki, one is always too stuffed to even think about dessert! 🙂

Kabuki was also the perfect place for the kids. We had a wait for our table, but they had plenty of aquariums to keep Penn and Gwyn occupied:

Penn enthralled with the Kabuki fish

The chef’s cooking performance mesmorized the children while the food is prepared:

Penn and Gwyn are too interested in the onion volcano to look at the camera.

Finally, the staff really seemed to take to the kids. The chef, in particular, was very Penn-friendly. He let Penn play with his spatula. He let Penn try to catch a shrimp with his mouth like the adults (Penn missed…twice). He encouraged Penn to show off his Tae-Kwon-Do moves to the entire table. Finally, when Penn annonced, “I LIKE RICE!”, the chef responded by giving Penn a whole plate full of rice!

Penn and his plate full of rice

So here I am at the beginning of my season of sacrifice and I had sushi for lunch and then Kabuki for dinner.

Yeah, I’m not quite living a deprived life at the moment! 🙂

P.S. Watch out Cafe de Bangkok. I have my sights set on you and your divine tofu for next Friday!

February 24, 2007 at 11:54 pm 1 comment

February 23rd

Two of my closest friends celebrate their birthdays today!

Happy Birthday to Carolyn
Happy Birthday Carolyn!  Thank you for all your support, laughter and kind words the past three decades.  I can not imagine my life without you.  May you have a wonderful day and may you always remain as sexy as you are in this photo!

Carolyn and Vicky at the local swimming pool circa 1980

Happy Birthday to Stacy!
Happy Birthday Stacy!  Thanks for overlooking our first meeting (“Stacy?!? That’s a GIRL’S name!”) and befriending me anyway.  We’ve had a number of adventures which have taken us to close places like a drive through Ellett Valley all the way to Normandy, France.  I look forward to our next adventure– skiing in Colorado!  Until then, may you eat, drink and be merry.  In fact, may you be as merry as you are in this photo…. and may there not be any cameras around to capture it this time around.  🙂

Brian taunts a drunk Stacy.

February 23, 2007 at 11:03 am 4 comments

Quiz: General Vicky Knowledge

I had so much fun taking Clint’s test and Christina’s test, I am sharing the love with my own Vicky test.  I suspect it might be easier than theirs– I don’t ask about favorite operating systems or programming language experience. 

Anyway, enjoy!

Create your own Friend Test here

P.S.  If you make a test for you, let me know!

P.S.S.  If time permits next week, I’ll post the answers and any related tales/tidbits.

February 22, 2007 at 7:09 pm 10 comments

Bathroom Exit – Four Years Apart

Oh FYI, Jay wasn’t the only one who felt compelled to take a picture of me exiting the restroom

When I was in college, my family took in a foster brother by the name of Chris Hatcher.  One summer when I was home for break, I was ambushed AGAIN exiting the EXACT same bathroom!  So similiar to my work area post, I present you with both photos:

Jay’s picture from early high school

Chris’s picture from college

February 22, 2007 at 12:33 pm Leave a comment

Watch Out Hawaii

Before my brother returns to Hawaii on March 5th, Sean and I are arming him with a digital camera.  It may not be my most solid move.  I’ve had run-ins with my brother as a camera person before. 

Jay’s Polaroid
When I was in early high school, someone (I think Grandma Turnock) gave my brother a polaroid camera.  Suddenly, I was not safe.  Jay could take a picture at any time.  For example, I could be ambushed when I was exiting the restroom.

Jay captures Vicky leaving restroom

One evening, I was trying to watch TV and my pesky little brother kept bothering me.  Finally, I got fed up and without giving him the pleasure of eye contact, I flicked him off.  Instantly I heard the distinctive sounds of a Polaroid processing.  My brother has taken a picture of my obscene gesture. 

Jay captures Vicky flicking him off

I tried my best to confiscate the picture, but my spry little brother escaped and showed our father.  It all happened so fast.  One moment I was flicking Jay off.  The next moment Dad was yelling at me.  Blast that Polaroid and its fast development time.

Jay the European Photographer
When I went to London for work in 2001, Jay was also there for a training session.  We spent a couple nights visiting.   I felt bad for Jay because he had no camera.  Here he was exploring Europe with no means to capture his memories.  One night as we headed to a bar, I let Jay take my camera.  Almost immediately, I remember turning around to see my brother sticking my camera under the skirt of one of his classmates and the flash going off.  Jay’s classmate was understandably upset.

“Oh, don’t worry,” I told her, “That shot will never come out.”

When I got home and developed all my film, however, I made a couple of discoveries:

  1. That shot did, in fact, come out.
  2. That girl was wearing thong underwear.

Even though I don’t remember her name and I recall her annoying me by insisting on “Yeehawing” loudly as we walked through London, I find myself with too much respect for her to share that photo (sorry Clint).

Despite all those past photos, I feel sorry for my brother– he’s already finished his first five month rotation on the cruise ship with not a single picture of Hawaii to share.  So, Sean and I are shipping him a camera this week. 

At least this time I can rest easy– I’ll be no where near his new camera.   😉

February 22, 2007 at 12:14 pm Leave a comment

Argos I Am Not

When I think about recognizing things or having good memories or even the longevity of loyalty, I often think about Argos (sometimes Argus) from The Odyssey.  Argos was Odysseus’ dog who stayed behind while his owner went to Troy.  When Odysseus finally returned to his palace after a 20 year abscence and an ardous journey home, Argos was the first (and one of the very few) to recognize him.  The dog was over twenty years old and lived much longer than most dogs.  He was weak, old and neglected, lying in a manure pile.  But old age and Odysseus’ disguise as a beggar did not prevent the dog from knowing his master.  When Argos saw Odysseus, he was too weak to stand, but wagged his tail and finally allowed himself to die.

Argos recognizes his master and dies

Well, I haven’t had a twenty year absence and I’m already struggling to recognize my own siblings!  At Chuck E. Cheese, I didn’t realize my bearded brother was standing right next to me.  I’ve had similiar struggles with my sister and her new blond hair.  An example is when I was looking at pictures from Greg Zumbrook‘s wedding.  Perusing the thumbnails, I quickly recognized Clint:

“Oh, there’s Clint,” I thought, “…and some chick.”

I clicked on the photo and when the larger version came up, I was surprised to find that “some chick” was actually my sister!

Some chick and Clint

Whoops.  I think it is safe to say I have a ways to go to match the abilities of Argus.

February 20, 2007 at 6:16 pm 5 comments

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