Posts filed under ‘Brian V’

Lessons from Birthday #1

Back from our full weekend.  Saturday was Ali’s first birthday party.  We had a really good time, but the experience proved to be educational as well.  Time is scarce, so here a few of the lessons from the party.

Some Instincts Humans Are Born Without…
For example- the love of birthday cake.  My love of sweets is so ingrained, I just assumed it was innate.  Little Ali proved otherwise.  She didn’t realize what a wonderful treat cake was at first.

Ali scared of the mysterious object

Eventually Ali got the hang of it.

Eating with her mother

Before we know it, Ali will a full-blown sweet master like little Gwyn

Gwyn has long mastered the art of endulging on sweets

…But We Do Have Some Animal-Like Tendencies Afterall
When a pinata broke, the kids swarmed and looked very much like a pack of hyenas.

Children descend on the bounty

Bubbles Enchant Kids…
A bubble generating machine entertained the kids for hours.

Marissa closes in on a bubble

Gwyn enchanted by all the bubbles

Penn teaches an apprentice how to punch bubbles

…Adults Not So Much
Lud and Sean were able to carry on a seemingly somber conversation, despite being surrounded by bubbles.

Sean and Lud do not even acknowledge the magical bubbles around them.

Even Grandpas Love Turtles…
Ali’s paternal grandfather braved a sporadic stream of defensive pee for a picture of a turtle next to his turtle tattoo.
Chuck Vandervort’s turtle tattoo… and an actual turtle

…And Even Grownups Like Toys
Many of the adults could not resist playing with some of the toys set out for the kids.

Andy masters multi-tasking by bouncing a ball on a racquet and holding his beer

Being a Supervisor is Tough Work…
While Brian and Jodi struggled to move the swing for pinata play, Lud kept a watchful managerial eye.

Lud looks skeptical of Jodi and Brian’s strategy

…But Elmo Takes the Cake (Somewhat Literally)
A stuffed Elmo appeared to have the toughest job of the day.  Here he poses at the end of the event, littered with icing.

This Elmo has seen better days.

Everyone else, including Brian and Jodi, made it through the day without looking nearly as frazzled as Elmo.  It proved to be a wonderful party and quite a treat to attend. 

All my pictures from Ali’s First Birthday Party are available on my Flickr site.

June 3, 2007 at 10:41 pm 2 comments

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

Worlds Collide at Larry’s Tailgate!

One thing I enjoy about weddings (besides dancing and the cake, of course) is the “worlds collide” effect. A number of people who all know the bride and groom in different contexts convene together for a common celebration. I like to see extended family and friends mingling together, sharing their memories and antedotes.

This weekend even though Virginia Tech’s bout with Northeastern did not promise to be a nailbiter, it still managed to draw a collision of worlds at Larry’s house. Many different aspects of my life were represented by the people in attendence:

  • My Blacksburg/Tailgate Life – All the normal tailgating people were in attendence. Larry, Ann, Penn, Gwyn, Andy, Bill, Sean, Keith, Jonathan Couch and even new father Brian Vandervort made a surprise appearence!
  • My Hiking Life – My reigning Hiking Buddy, Mike E, was present and he got to converse with my original hiking partner– Tony Airaghi.
  • My Married Life – Both of Sean’s brothers and their significant others came down for the event. That meant 66.66% of my brothers-in-law were in attendence (Carolyn‘s husband, Clint, was the only one missing from this brother-in-law reunion).
  • My QualTrax Life – ZJ Palasz, one of our QualTrax programmers, came in from Virginia Beach with his girlfriend to join our festivities.
  • My NOVA/Camping/Skiing Life – Kipp and Stacy came down for the event. On Friday night I found out that Shannon, Christian, Beth, Wayne and Shehab were going to be in town as well. I extended an invitation and all seven of these individuals from Northern Virginia came to Larry’s tailgate …and all seven of them got to witness a rare “Tipsy Vicky”.

I think these two pictures are a solid representation of the worlds colliding. The first one depicts some of the usual crowd– Me, Larry and Lindsay. The second one is the same shot— only this time, Kipp has made his way into the scene!

And here comes NOVA bursting in! 🙂

More pictures from the Virginia Tech vs. Northeastern Tailgate are available on my website.

September 4, 2006 at 11:36 am 1 comment

Week of Whirlwind Trips

So much happened this past week, I am unsure I’ll be able to cover it in a post before my bed time.  But I’ll try.

Peak 10 and Ali V
On Thursday afternoon, Larry Bowman and I traveled down to Charlotte to go to a customer BBQ at Peak 10, the company that hosts one of our Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) installations.  The BBQ didn’t feature sweet tea (which I expected in North Carolina)– but the food was delicious.  The pork alone made it easy to forgive the abscence of sweet tea.  🙂

The event also featured a tour of Peak 10’s new data center in Charlotte.  I was extremely impressed with the entire facility– the enormity of it, all the biometrics and security measures, the attention to environmental factors, the 24×7 support team and the geo-redundancy they can offer to customers. 

Here’s another thing that was impressive.  We’re taking this tour and seeing giant rooms filled with machine after machine after machine.  Some customers had so many servers they warranted their own room.  Larry and I are only involved in one little server among all their other business– just a tiny, tiny blip, really.  Yet, during the festivities, members of the executive team enthusiastically greeted us and took the time to chat with us.  They made us feel just as important and just as big of a customer as anyone else in attendence.  I thought that was really nice.  We are certainly in capable and caring hands.

Just a couple of hours later, Larry and I started our trek back home.  On our way, we stopped off to meet baby Ali!  It was also the very first time I saw Brian and Jodi’s new house.  Both the home and the baby (not to mention the mother) were absolutely beautiful.  Jodi even let my unseasoned hands hold her first child.  I suppose if she let Brian change diapers, her standards were already dampened a bit.  🙂

Christian and Nosheen’s Wedding
So Saturday morning, I was back on the road.  This time I traveled up to Herndon, Virginia to attend the wedding reception of Christian Geyer.  Christian is the youngest brother of Christina, one of my best friends from high school.  I was Christina’s date and apparently, I also served as a convenient excuse on why Christina could not eat “on display” at the head table.

Christian was marrying a gorgeous Iranian woman named Nosheen, so the wedding was rich in a culture that was new to me.  The buffet featured Persian food and Thai food– both delicious.  In some cases, I was unsure of what exactly I was ingesting, but boy, whatever it was, it was great.  I also discovered, I’m quite a fan of Thai Tea and cream.

Now for me the highlights of any wedding are 1) The Dancing and 2) The Cake

This wedding did not disappoint.  The cake was great– light, not overbearingly sweet, and it featured fruit and nuts in it. 

And the dancing!  The dancing was downright amazing.  Not a single drop of alcohol was served at this event and yet— it featured more dancing than even the most inebriated nuptials!  The music was foreign to me.  I couldn’t understand any of the lyrics (Well except for when they played a Black Eyed Peas song), but it did not matter– the beat of the music and the energy of the dancers was enthralling, intoxicating.

At one point, one of the many beautiful cousins of the bride paused as a new song started to play and she said to me, “I don’t know what this is.  I’ve never heard this song.”

“Me neither!” I told her with a smile.  She seemed to get a kick out of that.

A number of years ago, my cousin Adam looked down at a wedding dance floor and shook his head.  “You can always tell the Sawyers,” he said, “Because they are the ones that can’t dance, but always do.”

I think Adam’s statement would hold true for Christian’s wedding.  The Iranian woman were impecable dancers.  They were seductive and beautiful and quick on their feet.  The grace of their arms and the expressiveness of their hands and wrists were especially impressive.  And not a single spec of self-consciousness could be found amoung them!  Everyone was confident in their abilities and seemed so free and at peace. 

Christina and I were not familiar with their dancing techniques, but we participated and we did our very best to learn…or at least mimick.  Throughout the evening, the bride and her relatives would encourage the two of us.

“You’re okay!”
“You’re doing good!”
“Keep it up!”

I was touched by their encouragement.  Then Christina had an observation.  All their statements meant…they had been watching us all along! 🙂

Regardless, I had a wonderful, invigorating time. 

Here’s another testament to how captivating the music and the dancing was.  Across the hall was a Class of 1991 High School Reunion.  Over there, their DJ was playing contemporary American music.  Well at one point, we were dancing away at the wedding and suddenly we look up and see a small group of the high school alumni on the floor with us.  They ditched their own music to come join our side!

Well it is definitely past my bedtime now—I’ll end with one quick note.   There was so much happiness and joy and enthusiasm at that wedding last night.  I feel honored that I was able to share in it. 

I’m also starting to suspect–  I married into the wrong culture! 🙂

July 30, 2006 at 11:49 pm 1 comment


After the birth of their baby, Alison Naomi, I was perusing Brian and Jodi Vandervort's Photo Gallery.  It turns out they have a section called The College Years.  All of the photos were extremely interesting– to see how young we all look, how different we look and the weight differences.  One picture in particular caught my eye:

Vicky Smoking?!?

Now, this isn't exactly the most flattering picture of either me or Sean.  That's okay because I want to draw your attention to something else– look at our hands.  I'm holding a cigarette and lighter and I'm handing a pack back over to Sean.

This is a picture from my rare smoking days!  I think I smoked for about 8 months total.  Most of it was social, but near the end there, I recall taking breaks at work to go have a cigarette– I seem to recall a Vandervort being a cohort.

Why did I stop?  On a beautiful spring day, Sean, a third person (Jodi?) and I met on campus and went for a walk.  Almost immediately we all lit up.  Suddenly, it struck me.  Here I am outside, with all this fresh air and great weather and scenery… and I'm inhaling all this crappy smoke. 

That was a turning point for me.  I attempted a cigarette after that at some random party, but since that the seed was already planted in my head it made me gag.  That was that.  Sometimes being susceptible to psychosomatic symptoms has its perks! 🙂

The 62nd Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion was this past week, so I've been thinking a bit about Dwight Eisenhower– who happened to have great success quiting smoking in 1949.  From Stephen Ambrose's Eisenhower: Soldier and President

While he was at Key West, Eisenhower had been told by [his doctor] that he would have to cut down from four packs of cigarettes per day to one.  After a few days of limiting his smoking, Eisenhower decided that counting cigarettes was worse than not smoking at all, and he quit.  He never had another cigarette in his life, a fact that amazed the gang, his other friends, the reporters who covered his activities, and the public.  Eisenhower was frequently asked how he did it; he replied that it was simple, all he did was put smoking out of his mind.  It helped, he would add with a grin, to develop a scornful attitude toward those weaklings who did not have the willpower to break their enslavement to nicotine.  He told Cliff Roberts, "I nursed to the utmost… my ability to snear."

Unfortunately, we can't all have serendipitious gagging or a deep distain for those without willpower.  In contemporary times, I've seen many friends and family members struggle with quiting, sometimes serially.  So I'm thankful I got out of it when I did.  I guess the moral of this post is:

Hooray for Gagging?

June 8, 2006 at 10:25 pm Leave a comment

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