Archive for January, 2008

Update on Virginia AT License Plate

Received an update regarding the Virginia Appalachian Trail Specialty License Plate.  The hearing date has been changed, but more importantly — in just a couple of days, they got 300 people added to their support list!!!!

Greetings again, fellow lovers of the Appalachian Trail!

Thanks so much for expressing your support for the Appalachian Trail license plate program in Virginia.  I need to bring you up-to-date on recent developments: 

For starters, we’ve received almost 300 emails of support for the program in just a few days.  Thanks to all of you!!!! 

The Transportation Committee hearing date has been changed from Thursday, January 31, 2008 to the following Thursday, February 7, 2008.  We will compile all of the supporting emails into a signed “petition” which will be included in our testimony in front of the committee.   We already have a sizable contingent of folks who will be attending the meeting.  Due to the ambitious agenda already on the docket and the limited space in the senate room, we’ve been asked to keep the attendance limited to those folks. 

Once the bill passes the Senate, we all need to be ready to act quickly and to work together.  The House may well require that we have 350 pre-paid registrants before they will introduce the bill.  I will keep all interested parties informed and involved in this process.  Assuming that the bill makes it through both the House and the Senate, the plates will be available some time in 2009.  We won’t start seeing revenue from the plates until the first 1,000 have been sold, which will likely be in 2010.  Once we know that the bill has passed, ATC will follow up with all Virginia Clubs to: 1) garner their participation in selecting a final design for the plate and 2) help ATC develop a policy on how the monies raised will be distributed to worthy AT projects throughout the state on an ongoing basis.

I appreciate your help with this very exciting project.  Please let me know if you have any questions.   

Jack Noll, Education and Outreach Specialist, ATC Virginia Regional Office

January 29, 2008 at 3:30 pm 1 comment

Happy Birthday, Lego Brick

Huh. According to the Google logo today, the Lego Brick is now 50 years old. Is it weird that I’m increasingly becoming aware of special events and holidays from the Google logo?

Today’s Google Logo

Anyway, it seems like a fitting time to share a Lego-related site. I find “The Brick Testament” pretty amusing. It illustrates about 300 stories from the Bible using Legos. I think my favorite section is the Old Testament->The Law which covers topics such as bestiality, transvestism and tattoos.




And for the hikers– They have a section on “Camp Defecation” which can double as an instruction manual on catholes:

Bury your poo

January 28, 2008 at 2:21 pm 5 comments

Do’s and Don’ts with Babies

I read an amusing post today that featured a number of pictures from Safe Baby Handling Tips by David and Kelly Soop.  For the most part, their advice is hilarious and well grounded.  But their “Containing Baby” item confuses me.

I don’t see what’s so bad.  In 2005, I put Penn in Henry’s crate.  He never figured out how to get out.  So, what’s the problem?

Penn is safely contained in a dog crate

January 28, 2008 at 1:10 am 19 comments

War Spur in the Snow

This weekend I sequested myself on various home improvement projects.  But last weekend was more adventurous!  I got to go out with Tony Airaghi and his pals in the snow.  We decided to go to the War Spur Trail in the Mountain Lake Wilderness Area.

Our venture started off slowly.  I drove to Eric L’s house where I was supposed to meet Tony.  Every August I get an email about a party at Eric’s house, but I’ve never actually been there and I have never actually met this Eric.  So when I arrived and did not see Tony’s car, I rapped on the front door and had to resort to this confident greeting:

“Uh…. do you know a guy named Tony?”

I had the right Eric and he invited me into his home.  I sat around and avoided awkwardness by engrossing myself in an activity I’m good at– petting dogs.  Meanwhile, Eric paid a bill online and tinkered with a remote control helicopter.  Time passed and still no Tony.   I chatted with Eric and a guy I did know– Paul!  Still no Tony.

Tony’s Pre-Adventure Adventure
So what happened to poor Tony?  He stopped to fill up at a local gas station.  The pump was incredibly slow.  After a few minutes of waiting and still only 0.90 gallons pumped successfully into his car, Tony aborted the sale and then moved over to the next pump.  That pump was just as slow.  Tony left his radio on to pass the time and just stuck it out.  When Tony’s Explorer finally had a full tank of gas, he finished his second sale, returned to his vehicle and discovered… his battery was dead (Tony’s battery had preexisting issues).

Luckily, a nearby patron caught wind of Tony’s dilemma and volunteered to give him a jump.

“Just let me finish filling up.” he said.

So Tony had to wait on the slow pumps AGAIN.

Once he got his vehicle started, Tony realized it probably wasn’t wise to take a car with a sketchy battery out to a remote trailhead.  So he went by NAPA and bought a new battery.  Then he installed the new battery.  And THEN, he was ready to start his journey.

More Waiting
When Tony finally arrived, one would think our departure was near.  Welp, it turns out, Tony wasn’t the only arrival that was highly anticipated.  So was the vodka in Tony’s car! 

One round of Bloody Marys later (and three seperate individuals observing that celery burns more calories to digest than it provides), our crew of five hikers and four dogs were off.

To the Trailhead
Our trailhead journey was uneventful except for one thing.  We passed this jeep along the way:


The driver did an amazing job at making a bad situation worse.  Tony says the driver should have just waited.

“There are rednecks who drive this road all the time just looking for people to tow.”

The hike itself was gorgeous.  Beautiful snow, beautiful virgin hemlocks and my personal favorite– the rhododendrons.  I love how rhododendrons curl up in the winter (five years ago it was Tony who first pointed that out to me).  

Rock at the overlook

My favorite evergreen– rhododendrons in the wild

Jimmie at the overlook

Snow covered branch and the sky

My California Knowledge is Lacking
I have a lot to learn about the Golden State.  As we hiked, I thought, “Ha!  GeekHiker may get a week to celebrate Arbor Day, but I get to hike in the snow!” 

It was only when I got home, I read about his snowshoe outing to Highway 2.  🙂

The Strategic Nature of Switchbacks
One hiker in our party was troubled with a bad back, so he was a lot slower than the rest of us.  At one point we stopped and waited for him to catch up.  Following in the footsteps of accidental discoveries such as LSD and Penicillin, Tony and Eric stumbled upon a previous unknown property of switchbacks:  They make great vantage points for snowball ambushes. 

Eric throws snowballs from the switchback

Drive Home
The drive home was uneventful until we ran into a traffic jam of three vehicles.  The drivers of all the vehicles were standing outside in the snow surveying the situation.  One of the vehicles was stuck on the right side of the road.  Guess what it was!  It was that SAME jeep from before!  The driver had returned with some buddies and they successfully freed the jeep from the mud.  The driver drove down the road about a half of a mile before deciding to make a U-Turn.  It was during that manuever when he managed to get his car stuck AGAIN, this time on the OPPOSITE side of the road.  That’s got to impress the ladies.

More Links
My War Spur Hike Pictures on Flickr
Kevin Myatt’s Article on the War Spur Trail for the Roanoke Times

January 28, 2008 at 12:43 am 3 comments

Making of “Bloody Omaha” Video

What’s my favorite 20 minutes in any movie ever?  The beach scene from Saving Private Ryan!   The scene was filmed in Ireland, cost about 11 million dollars and made use of  1000 extras  (including 250 real soldiers from the Irish Defence force, a couple hundred more from the British Ministry of Defence and 20-30 real amputees).  The Irish Defence forces alone spent four weeks on the beaches while the landing scenes were filmed.

In May, the Smithsonian Channel will air “D-Day: The True Story of Omaha” (it already aired as Timewatch: Bloody Omaha in the UK).  They also chose to recreate the battle on Omaha Beach, but didn’t quite have Steven Spielberg’s resources.  They had a shoestring budget, three people and four days.  I think their final product is amazing!  Here is how they did it:

January 27, 2008 at 7:59 pm 4 comments

Virginia AT License Plate

I received some more details on the Virginia Appalachian Trail License Plate effort! If you are a resident in Virginia and interested in an AT plate, please take a few moments to email the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and show your support (instructions at the bottom):

Dear fellow lover of the Appalachian Trail,

Your wait for a special Virginia license tag celebrating the Appalachian Trail may soon be over. In fact, thanks to a lot of last-minute hard work on the part of several key players, we’ve just received word that a bill will be introduced to the Virginia Senate’s Transportation Committee. The hearing will take place this coming Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 2:00pm in Senate Room B in Richmond. The text of that bill is as follows:


2 Offered January 9, 2008

3 Prefiled January 8, 2008

4 A BILL to authorize the issuance of special license plates to supporters of the Appalachian Trail; fees.

5 ––––––––––


6 ––––––––––

7 Referred to Committee on Transportation

8 ––––––––––

9 Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

10 1. § 1. Special license plates for supporters of the Appalachian Trail; fees.

11 A. On receipt of an application and payment of the fee prescribed by this section, and following the

12 provisions of § 46.2-725 of the Code of Virginia other than those relating to the fee for the plates and

13 its disposition, the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles shall issue to the applicant

14 special license plates for supporters of the Appalachian Trail.

15 B. The annual fee for plates issued pursuant to this section shall be $25 in addition to the prescribed

16 fee for state license plates. For each such $25 fee collected in excess of 1,000 registrations pursuant to

17 this section, $15 shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to a special nonreverting fund known

18 as the Appalachian Trail Fund established within the Department of Accounts. These funds shall be paid

19 annually to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and used to support its operation and programs in

20 Virginia. All other fees imposed under the provisions of this section shall be paid to, and received by,

21 the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, and paid by him into the state treasury and set

22 aside as a special fund to be used to meet the necessary expenses incurred by the Department of Motor

In order to make this happen during this session, we need a really strong showing of support. Please considering taking a couple of minutes to help us make this a reality by doing the following:

1) Create an email to: with a subject of “Virginia AT Tag Program”

2) Cut and paste the following form (between the dashed lines) into that email:



Email address:

Zip Code:

I am a resident of the state of Virginia, and I support the creation of an “Appalachian Trail” license tag for the state of Virginia. I understand that purchasing this plate, once available, will cost an additional $25 per vehicle. Please let me know as soon as such a plate is available!


3) Send the email as soon as possible (no later than Tuesday, January 29th).

4) If at all possible, show up at the hearing to further voice your support.

Thanks so much for your show of support!

January 25, 2008 at 7:04 pm Leave a comment

links for 2008-01-25

January 25, 2008 at 2:22 pm Leave a comment

links for 2008-01-24

January 24, 2008 at 2:19 pm Leave a comment

links for 2008-01-23

January 23, 2008 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

Poor Brooklyn Bridge

Aww, poor Brooklyn Bridge. It’s had a tough month a half. It got shot down in I Am Legend. It decayed and collapsed in the History Channel‘s Life After People and it didn’t fare so well in Cloverfield either.

Brooklyn Bridge’s Fate – 12/14/2007 through 1/22/2008

I think this surpasses the destruction in 1998 when the Brooklyn Bridge was destroyed by Godzilla AND Deep Impact‘s tsunami.

I guess it could be worse. It could be The Statue of Liberty (see Movies That Mangle the Statue of Liberty and Cinema’s Best Attacks on the Statue of Liberty and of course, Wikipedia).

P.S. My opinions on the films/documentaries mentioned in this post:

I Am Legend – I had issues with it, but it was okay. I hate CGI animals. The real animal, the German Shepard, saved the film for me, providing the most emotional scenes.

Life After People – I still hate CGI animals, but found the documentary thought-provoking. If you are interested in this subject, check out Discover Magazine’s Earth Without People article (heads up- in Discover Magazine’s speculation, dogs DIE!)

Cloverfield – Loved it.

Godzilla – I really liked Godzilla. Yeah, that’s right- I liked Godzilla. What sold me on Godzilla was I thought the reptiles acted very genuine, like real animals. Their mannerisms and reactions just seemed very authentic to me.

Deep Impact – I actually don’t remember much about this film, but I do remember what saved Elijah Wood and his lover. The Appalachian Mountains, mutha fucka!

January 22, 2008 at 11:57 pm 5 comments

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