Archive for February, 2008

Favorite Oscar Moment

Last night was the Oscars. My favorite moments of 2008:

But none of those moments compare to my all-time favorite Oscar moment! Robin Williams’ performance in 2000 of South Park’s Blame Canada.

Back in 2000, I was unaware of all the announcements about the song ahead of time – the deliberations of word changes, who would sing and whether or not “fart” was appropriate for ABC.

So as the Best Song performances unfolded and I noted only four sets and watched four abbreviated song performances, I came to a faulty conclusion.

“Oh my gawd! They are snubbing South Park! They are SNUBBING SOUTH PARK!”

My outrage, it turns out, was ungrounded. They did let “Blame Canada” be performed after all (and with a bigger production than all the other songs combined). So here it is, my favorite Oscar moment:

February 25, 2008 at 10:25 am 4 comments

Rock Star Party

Last week while I was at my parent’s house, I received a text message from my sister.

wanna go to a rock star party on saturday?

In other words, a party where we were supposed to dress up as rock stars. Sounded fun, but I barely had an ample supply of underwear on hand, let alone “rock star garb.”

So what do you do if you are out of town, have limited items in your suitcase and you suddenly get invited to a Rock Star Party?

Raid your parents’ closet, of course!

I have a father who goes to goth clubs and a mother with much better footwear taste than I. The two of them supplied some key components to my outfit. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the full assemble, but I do have a pen and a scanner, so here is a drawing:

Vicky is only hip because of her parents

Sadly, I have to admit that even if I were home with full access to my own closet, my concoction would have been lame. I rode the coattails of coolness… of… my… parents!!!

And so, I will close this post humming along to NOFX’s “What’s the Matter With with Parents Today?” from their Pump Up The Valuum album (not Heavy Petting Zoo like some lameos think):

Mom and dad
How’d you get so rad?
When exactly did you get so hip?

February 20, 2008 at 11:47 am 9 comments

Mount Rogers in February

Two weekends ago, Tony Airaghi and pals did their annual cold weather backpacking trip to Mount Rogers/Grayson Highlands.  Tony got some amazing pictures of the trip.  Here are my favorites:


Apparently Leave No Trace does not apply to Christmas decorations.  Wild ponies are in the background.

Tony playing with “Color Accent” mode.  Hiker is Tony’s cousin Bruce.

Unfortunately, Tony keeps his photos on a private FTP site, so I can’t send you a link to more photos. I have decided that he needs to join Flickr.

That’s my personal project of the day.

February 20, 2008 at 9:21 am 6 comments

Hike with a Cause

**3/31/2008 Edit** – The charity for this hike has changed.  See Geek Hike Gets a New Charity.

One of my cousin‘s classmates, Joe Frambach, will start his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on May 1st of this year. He’s hiking to raise funding and awareness for Gilda’s Club Western Pennsylvania, an organization which provides emotional support for families affected by cancer.

**3/31/2008 Note** – Yeah, I’m not sure how to update the below paragraph.  I still love the AT and dogs, so I’ll let it stick. 🙂

I love the Appalachian Trail, I absolutely adore dogs and I certainly don’t mind deducting charitable donations from my taxes. With the exception of the last part about taxes, I have plenty of pictures to support my claims (Pictures about taxes tend to be boring).

Two of my loves- Appalachian Trail and a dog

As you can expect, Joe’s fundraiser is pretty appealing to me. If you are interested in donating as well, you may do so via his First Giving site.

Additional Links
My cousin’s original post on Joe’s hike.

February 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm 9 comments

Todd Miller, the Washington Monument and the Black Cat

On Friday night, I hung out with my good friend Aaron Evans. Our evening started off with a little bit of WWE. has a article on “5 Ways Hollywood Tricks You Into Seeing Bad Movies“, where they share a brilliant Venn diagram on the movie Sweeny Todd:

I would think a very similar diagram could be done for the “Raw Talent” episode of Project Runway, that the union between “People who watch WWE” and “People who watch Project Runway” would be extremely small. But there are some advantages. Aaron (a WWE fan) and I (a Project Runway fan) had both seen the episode. As a result, we were both able to participate in a conversation (albeit brief) on the other’s show. The weird union on Project Runway gave us something to chat about!

We also watched a few videos on Aaron’s computer. The highlight was this oldie-but-goodie. This is a New Year’s Eve party from many years ago. Our friend Todd gets so wound up in New Year’s that he almost kisses someone he shouldn’t.

I love how Todd pushes the guy away like it was *his* fault

After that, Aaron and I grabbed some coffee in Claredon. We stopped by the Iwo Jima Memorial and headed off to meet Heather and Joe at the Black Cat in D.C. On the way there I was already laying down the ground work for a brief visit.

“So… uh… I sort of get bored of bars quickly….” I said, “So… I don’t know how long I’ll want to stay.”

Welp, the Black Cat turned out to be super fun. It wasn’t smoky and overcrowded like the bars I am familiar with. *And* it was a special 80’s Night (Which is #29 on the Stuff White People Like List). I had so much fun (completely sober!), Aaron and I stayed until the club closed.

Me, Brenda, Heather (Photo by Aaron Evans)

In a town like Blacksburg, I would expect to run into people you know. In a city like D.C., I didn’t expect it. But as soon as we walked into the Black Cat, I saw some friends I hadn’t seen since August. And then later, a different set of friends showed up too!

I’ve known this guy since he was FOUR years old!!! In fact, you can see him in my high school photography. (Photo by Aaron Evans)

After we left the Black Cat, Aaron and I were not deterred by the time– we went and visited the Washington Monument (where I told Aaron about Virginia’s Sharp Top Mountain mistake), the Lincoln Memorial (where I told Aaron about my childhood booger incident) and the WWII Memorial (where at that point, I was too tired to have anything relevant to say).

It was an eventful evening. It was a fun evening and it was a loooooong evening. I didn’t get back to my parent’s until 5 AM.

February 17, 2008 at 2:33 pm 6 comments

Vicky’s Valentine’s Day Dinner

You learn something new every day. Yesterday I learned how spoiled I am when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

The past eleven years, I’ve had Sean. In high school, as soon as I acquired my first boyfriend I was pretty much never without that key accessory until graduation. In college I went for periods without dating, but I don’t remember any Valentine’s Day traumas.

So each year as the flurry of comments circulated about how Valentine’s Day is just a marketing ploy and how it is really Single Awareness Day and blah blah blah, I paid little note. It didn’t affect ME, after all. I still got to eat candy!

Well this year I’m at my parent’s house. Late yesterday afternoon I was working on my laptop. I was trying to get stupid SQL Server 2000 to truncate a stupid transaction log that I had stupidly let grow to 4 gigs with some impressive negligence (Finally was able to do it by changing the database’s recovery mode to “Simple”, backing up the database and then running DBCC ShrinkFile on it). With all my struggles, I figured some reheated lentil soup was my evening destiny. Then my mother called from a local restaurant where she was was meeting friends with an amazing deal!!! Two lobster & prime rib dinners for 19.99!!!

AWESOME! I love lobster! I was totally in!!! And who loves a great deal? My father… and I have tons of tales (many of them involving movie theaters and/or senior citizen discounts) to prove it.

With my mother still on the phone, I ran upstairs and went to wake up my father. I don’t think I could have hidden my enthusiasm if I tried.


And as my giddy voice roused my deal-loving father from his slumber, the background processes of my mind worked through some simple addition.

1 + 1 + 1 ….

My dad leapt out of bed and was instantly ready to eat. And suddenly my mind alerted me to its calculation.

I gasped, “I have no one to share with!!! Who am I going to share with?!?!”

It was at that moment, I could commiserate with what all the single people have complained about for years. I was left out. I was going to be deprived cheap lobster… all because I was alone!??!

(It really took the lobster to open my eyes, I don’t think any other dish would have produced such soul-searching)

“Ruth Norman and I are sharing,” my mother said, “So you’re eating with your father.”

Booyah! Problem solved.

So me and my date, a.k.a Dad, headed over to the restaurant. There is another great deal at Brittany’s on Thursday nights. All you can eat roast beef for $2. My dad instantly got a plate to munch on while we waited.

It was so romantic. Red table clothes, white candles… and my Dad shoveling dirt cheap roast beef in his mouth, occasionally making slurping noises with the au jus.

Now if you are a diligent reader, you may remember I gave up red meat for Lent. My plan was to give my father my prime rib. But when the waitress arrived my father started to explain Lent and asked if I could get another lobster tail instead of prime rib.

“Dad, I doubt they can do that. It’s not fair.” I said, mostly to show the waitress that dissent with Dad was okay.

“I’m not sure. I’ll ask,” she said and disappeared in the back.

She returned shortly with drinks. As she started to hand out beverages to some of my mother’s friends, my charming date started to bark, “I got a Pepsi! Pepsi! Over here!”

And sure enough, thanks to the beauty of competence, our waitress happened to have a Pepsi on her tray allocated just for my father.

“The manager says ‘Okay'” she reported and gave Dad his coveted drink.

“Oh wow. Okay, I’ll do that,” I said.

“ME TOO!” Dad quickly added.

The waitress gave Dad a perplexed look, but left to place our order for four lobster tails.

When she was out of earshot, I poked fun at my father for exploiting the system.

“WHAT?” his eyebrows crinkled up innocently, “You gave up red meat for Lent, maybe I did too.”

“You’re eating roast beef.”

Dad looked at his plate and started to laugh, “Well, maybe I gave up prime rib for Lent!”

I am not sure if the waitress would buy that, but nonetheless she delivered us:

-Four lobster tails
-Two servings of delicious mashed potatoes
-Two servings of yummy roasted vegetables
-Two slices of cheesecake with strawberry topping
-And a red carnation for me!

Add that to all the laughter I had watching my father, and what a bargain!  Dinner and entertainment for just $19.99.

February 15, 2008 at 1:19 pm 3 comments

Henry’s Hero

Yesterday for the first time in the Westminster Kennel Club history, a beagle won “Best in Show”:

Uno – Best in Show

And it appears even posh show dogs still stay true to their breeding.  When Uno won the 15″ Beagle Breed competition, he was highlighted in an article for Fox Sports:

While best in show will be presented Tuesday night, the precocious package of personality certainly deserved one early title: noisiest in show.

Ah-rooo!” his howls echoed all over the arena. It didn’t take much to get Uno going, either. A click of a spectator’s pen, a wave of the judge’s hand, any effort by Wilkerson to hush him. “Ah-rooo!

That definitely sounds like a beagle.

I wonder if Uno likes to roll in poo.

February 13, 2008 at 10:00 am 1 comment

links for 2008-02-11

  • An article on one of my former co-workers, Tim Kirk, who now runs his own recording studio. Back when we worked together, Tim was my prime suspect when I could not find one of my NOFX CDs. Turns out Clint had it all along. 🙂
    (tags: timkirk nofx)
  • A Blacksburg hiker’s account of ascending the Appalachian Trail’s Mount Katahdin. After 3 hours, 5.5 miles and a 4000 foot ascent, he got up there and couldn’t see anything. But he found something much more inspirational than any measley view…

February 11, 2008 at 2:21 pm 1 comment

Tinker Cliffs

Two Saturdays ago, I got to hike with Tony Airaghi again.  This time we were joined by Tony’s cousin, Bruce and Bruce’s old college roommate, Dave.  We chose Tinker Cliffs via the Andy Layne Trail.  Our trip was about six miles.

When I left my house, I left Tony a voicemail message.

“If it is really only 45 minutes, I’ll be on time, ” I said, “But you know me…  I would bet on me being late.”

As I neared our rendez-vous point, Tony called to report he was just leaving his house.  He was quite a ways behind me.

“Knowing me, you should have known *I* would be late!” he joked.

I am slow at ascents and the Andy Layne Trail sports a number of doozies.  I wasn’t worried about Tony.  On my very first hike over 10 miles long, it was Tony who encouraged me to go on my own pace and reminded me “We aren’t here to kill ourselves, we’re here to have a good time.”  (To this day, whenever I pass a hiker who appears to be struggling on hills, I repeat what Tony said to me).

Anyway, Tony witnessing a slow Vicky did not bother me.  He’s done that for years.  It was the two guys I did not know, this Dave and this Bruce (Hey both Kids in the Hall names!) who concerned me.  I could just see all three men waiting for me at the top of a hill and one of them turn to Tony and say, “I thought you said this girl hiked all the time!”  Also remembering our recent War Spur hike, I didn’t want to give anyone reason to throw snowballs at me from switchbacks. 🙂

So I decided to get a head start.  My goal was to get past the two giant hills before the guys caught up.  I achieved my goal…and then some.  I made it past the giant hills, past the hollowed out tree, past the seven switchbacks, past Scorched Earth Gap and then to our final destination–the cliffs.  I waited at the cliffs for about an hour and still had no companions.  Luckily, I have all that self-portrait experience to rely on.

Me by me

Finally, I decided I should start my descent.  I left a quick voicemail on Tony’s cell phone, grabbed my pack and my dogs and suddenly Tony emerged out of the woods and our group was united.

This time, we did not get to see a jeep stuck in the mud, but I did get to see something pretty comparable.  As I approached that second giant hill, I passed two hikers.

“There’s a big hill coming up with a lot of mud on it,” one of the hikers told me, “You’re probably going to bite it– I did.”

The hiker’s clothes supported his story.  His entire backside was covered with mud.  And when I did inch my way up the “Mud Hill”, I could see distinct markings in the mud where the guy slipped and slid down the hill.

Everyone in our group managed to make it up without incident.  And a few hours later, we all managed to descend the hill cleanly as well.

Bruce and Tony celebrate making it down the mud hill

Near the top, the trees were still coated from a recent ice storm.  With the warm air and the afternoon sun, some of the ice was melting.  As a result, sections of the forest “rained” broken ice.  It made for some pretty scenery too.

Freshly broken ice on the ground

The sun shines through icy trees

We had a clear day and nice weather, so the visibility from the cliffs was perfect.  I would still take Tinker Cliffs over McAfee’s Knob any day.

Rocks and Ridges

The Cliffs

Evergreens in the Mix

More Links
Kevin Myatt’s Article on the Andy Layne Trail for the Roanoke Times
More pictures of my Tinker Cliff hike on Flickr

February 11, 2008 at 9:59 am 5 comments

Obsolete Freedoms

Two Saturdays ago I painted my guest bathroom. That bathroom sports some old, torn carpet that I have no intentions of keeping. So, unlike some of my other painting endeavors, I didn’t have to worry about spreading out drop clothes on the floor. I felt so liberated and uninhibited! At one point I dropped a brush doused in “Delicate Yellow” right smack onto the middle of the carpet. I got to shrug, pick the brush and continue my work. It was so pleasant.

Later in the week, I worked on-site with a customer. There, I work on an old application that another team is currently rewriting in newer technologies. My job is to do just enough maintenance to the old application to keep it meeting the company’s needs until the next version is in place. A new issue surfaced and I worked on updating the code accordingly. I keyed in my logic and started to manipulate an existing variable (changing an ID number to 0 so it would not get picked up later in the process). Then I started to wonder if the code would be more readable if I declared a new Boolean instead.

“Wait a second,” I thought, “This code is going to be dead in 4 months!”

So I got to shrug, keep my variable set to 0, and continue my work. It was so pleasant.

Twice within a couple of days, I stumbled upon the same sensation. In a world where we pursue the latest and greatest– a world where 1 million iPhones sell in 74 days, 153.9 million video game consoles were sold in 2007, and the average new-car buyer trades their vehicle in every 4 years— I found freedom in working with items going obsolete.

February 8, 2008 at 1:24 am 1 comment

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