Posts filed under ‘Jodi V’

[Remote] Birth Coaching

Greetings from Wisconsin! I’m working on-site this week and it’s been quite busy. Wisconsin, as always, is beautiful, but I haven’t had time to take any pictures of the countryside. BUT I do have one Wisconsin picture to share. This one is from my cell phone. It’s for my friend Jodi who went into labor with her second child this morning!

Encouraging Jodi from 1000 miles away!

It turns out it is difficult to take a picture of yourself while holding up a pad of paper with a message on it. I had to make use of my chin to pull it off.

And just in case you are wondering– little Chloe Elisabeth was born a couple of hours after the picture was taken. I hear both mother and daughter are doing well!!! 🙂

October 29, 2008 at 11:04 pm 2 comments

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

Weekend – Deerfield, Floyd, Cassell

I did a couple of things this weekend, besides avoiding cheese:

Deerfield Bike Path
I took the dogs over to Deerfield Bike Path in Blacksburg for a stroll.  I also took along our new digital camera and snagged some pictures.  Deerfield Bike Path is not well known and as a result is pretty secluded.  If you take away the sentimental value of the Huckleberry Trail (lots of rollerblading memories) that would make Deerfield Bike Path my favorite of the bike paths in the area.  Here’s how I described it for a geocache placed in July 2003:

The bike trail offers a variety of views– a man-made pond, a babbling stream, deep forests of sycamore and locusts, a hillside of dry grass, collections of honeysuckle and wildflowers. This trail feels like you are walking right through a virgin forest– only with the comfort of a paved path!

In the winter, the forest doesn’t seem as thick and there is an abscene of wildflowers, but the sights and sounds are still great.  In fact, as I was walking back with my camera, I saw a group of people walking up carrying microphones.  Here are a few of my pictures from the outing:

Deerfield Bike Path and some reflections

Some of the tall grass with the man-made pond in the background

Jimmie next to the babbling stream

Silhouttes of some of the many trees off the path

Jodi and Ali
On Saturday, I drove to Floyd to visit Jodi and her daughter, Ali.  Floyd is such a beautiful county.  I really enjoyed the views I encountered.  I will definitely have to return there again shortly to do some hiking. 

This time around, I spent most of my camera efforts trying to get pictures of Ali.   In July, the Vandervorts did a blog post called “The Many Faces…” and it shared thirteen pictures of Ali and her different facial expressions from a single day.  When I saw it, I thought, “Wow, they take a lot of pictures” and I thought the quantity was solely a reflection of their affection for their new daughter. 

Now I wonder if there is another reason behind the quantity of pictures!  It turns out it is lot easier to get photographs of dogs than it is of a baby.  It seemed whenever Ali was happy and smiling and actually looking my way she was also very animated.  With my limited experience with the new camera, that left a lot of blurry hands and unfocused facial features.  I also had a series of pictures where I was a split second too late and missed the smile.  So I took picture after picture after picture.  When it was all said and done I think I ended up with a 3% satisfaction rate of my pictures.  The good news is when everything clicked in place, little Ali is very photogenic!  So through quantity, I was able to salvage quality.

Ali has a tongue

Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
On Sunday, Larry gave me and Sean his men’s basketball tickets, so we went to watch Virginia Tech take on Clemson.  I think this is the first basketball game Sean and I attended together in at least nine years.  I very much enjoy the basketball environment.  I like how concentrated the experience is– you are closer to the action of the game, closer to the refs you want to yell at, closer to the sidelines, closer to the cheerleaders, closer to the band, closer to the dance team and the Hokie Bird.  No matter what is going on, you are in the thick of it.  But…I will report the intimacy of Cassell Colliseum does not do the “Enter Sandman” hysteria justice.  With that, you really need to sheer magnitude of frenzied fans that only Lane Stadium can provide.

We ended up losing the game and the seemingly reserved old man next to me lost his temper and threw down his water in anger.  I got splattered by plenty of his water and hopefully not very much of his backwash.  Nonetheless, I had a good time (I think Sean’s experience was still dampened by the loss, though).

March 5, 2007 at 10:31 am 1 comment

Memories of Scattergories

My brother-in-law, Clint, posted this picture on his Flickr site with the caption, “Werewolves fucking jump!”


The heated title is in response to a Scattergories ruling that’s actually 14 years old now!  For the letter “W” and the category “Things that Jump/Bounce”, Clint put down “Werewolf”.  However, the other six players argued and denied Clint the credit the picture proves he deserved.

Clint’s posting brought me a lot of amusement and it reminded me of a few of my own Scattergories memories.  Some snippets:

Nobody Likes A Know-It-All
My Grandmother Turnock always had an answer for “Birds”, regardless of letter.  Similiarly, Rich Parrish always had an answer for “Medicine/Drugs” and “Diseases”. 

Taking On the Elderly
It was very difficult to deny my grandmother credit for anything.  She’d like to use her age as justification, saying stuff like, “I didn’t have to learn it, I lived it!” or “I know because I’m old!” 

One time in particular, Brian Nenninger and I heavily disputed my grandmother’s claim that “Radius” was a “Unit of Measurement.”  The battle of wits went on for some time, but finally Brian and I backed down and let my grandmother take the point.  It turns out, she was right!  A quote from Brian:

i gave her full credit posthumously after discovering that nasa measures asteroid near-misses in earth radii

Unlikely Lubricants
For Jodi Vandervort’s Bacherlotte Party, we featured two rounds of Scattergories with custom lists we created for the occassion– one focused on the Wedding/Reception and the other on the Honeymoon.  One of the categories for the Honeymoon list was “Unlikely Lubricants.”  I expected the answers to be amusing, but one young lady’s response took me offguard.  She capitalized on the extra points for alliteration.  The letter was “J”.  Her answer?

Jalapeño Jelly

December 1, 2006 at 9:46 pm 7 comments

Misery – Tom Waits and Mao, Jodi and Me

Misery is the River of the World

As Mike E and I commuted back and forth on our trip to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park last month, he introduced me to his favorite artist, Tom Waits. There were a number of songs that I was fond of (especially from a live album Mike played), but my favorite song was Misery is the River of the World. That song has a very methodic rhythm to it, reminiscent of tides or currents. I especially liked trying to make my voice deep and rough to mimic Waits’ gravelly vocals and try to sing along. But, it’s the title of the song that is proving to be the most lasting impression:

Misery is the River of the World

The notion that misery flows throughout and feeds the entire world reminds me of a quote I read by Mao Zedong:

A long period of peace, pure peace without any disorder of any kind, would be unbearable…and it would be inevitable that peace would give birth to waves… I am sure that once we entered [an age] of Great Harmony, waves of competition and friction would inevitably break forth that would disrupt [it]… Human beings always hate chaos and hope for order, not realizing that chaos too is part of the process of historical life, that it too has value…

So according to Mao the absence of misery (aka “pure peace”) would bring forth boredom and unrest. My tournament bridge experience may support this theory. At times, I managed to upset myself with a poor play more than I upset my partner, otherwise known as “Dad”. In those cases, my father would remind me (paraphrased):

If we played perfect every time, it would be boring. There’d be no point.

Another thing I find notable about the Mao quote is his thought that “chaos too is part of the process of historical life, that it too has value.” Historically the times of war are accompanied by periods of innovation, invention and increased productivity. WWII brought forth a number of inventions and new products ranging from the atomic bomb to M&Ms. It also brought strides in quality control processes as well as recycling. Misery brings with it necessity and necessity brings forth revolution.

Misery is the Unit of Measurement (for Vicky)

Waits and Mao paint misery as inevitable part of life and Mao extends it to a necessary and valuable part of life. In my life, I don’t think I actively seek out misery (some may point to my work schedule and cite that as contradictory evidence). However, I have a whole slew of recent examples where I am unnerved by the absence of misery. I’ve grown accustomed to using it as a subconscious unit of measurement. When the misery does not match what I expected from the task at hand, I feel out of sorts.

Backpacking in the Smokies
When Mike, Kipp and I went backpacking in the Smokies, we carried our heavy packs for 8 miles and ascended up (and back down) roughly 2000 feet. Although I struggled a lot that first mile and had my fair share of discomfort and doubt, I certainly did not have the magnitude of misery I expected. I expected it to be harder than all other hikes I’ve attempted. I expected to want to turn around; I expected to want to cry; I expected to have to force my legs to keep moving on. That just never happened. So when it was all said and done, it did not feel like we ascended as much as we did. It still doesn’t.

User’s Conference
Last week was our annual User’s Conference. Like last year, I had some speaking engagements. This year we had almost twice the amount of attendees, so the audience was quite a bit larger. Now, although I did have some nerves before I spoke, it was no where near the amount from the year before. In fact, I believe last year my hands quivered at the very beginning. This year said hands were steady. So this year, when my speeches were over, I found myself thinking, “Wow, did that really happen?” The sensation didn’t solidify in my head without the nerves.

Back when I suffered from the self-induced misery of emetophobia (fear of vomiting), traveling proved to be an ordeal wrought with all sorts of anxiety. It would start weeks ahead of time. I’d worry about getting the stomach flu or food poisoning when I was so far away from home. I’d worry about turbulence causing motion sickness on the plane. I’d worry about losing my appetite from worrying. Why? If I lost my appetite and didn’t eat, I’d get so hungry I’d grow nauseous and when I grew nauseous, I’d gag. Even when I was already on a trip and I had some successful meals behind me, I’d still worry. Will I be hungry for dinner? What if I’m not hungry? If I am hungry, what will I eat? What if they don’t have anything I like? I didn’t realize it at the time, but all that worrying and anxiety really monopolized and taxed my body’s resources. I would completely drain myself, adding to the misery that was already there.

Welp, it has now been years since I’ve been liberated from that worry and I’ve certainly traveled up a storm! Without all the worry and anxiety, even the most unpleasant trips and circumstances, are so peaceful and pleasant. In other words, external miseries (flight cancellations, lodging mishaps, etc) are absolutely no match for the internal misery of my past.

Despite all the years that have passed and all my successful travels, it still feels very weird to me that trips do go so smoothly without any mental anguish. Very frequently, it almost feels like the trip did not happen. I marvel about the sensation in my journal entries from numerous trips. Here’s an excerpt from my trip to London in January 2005:

These latest trips I’ve been taking — it feels like they aren’t real — they feel like a dream. Why? Because I have no anxiety. It still doesn’t feel like a trip if I don’t have a horrid ado in my head for weeks beforehand.

I wonder how many decades will have to pass before I adjust to the missing anxiety?

Misery is the Unit of Measurement (for Others?)

I may not be alone in feeling surprised by the absence of misery. Last weekend, Sean and I visited Brian and Jodi in their new home in Charlotte. During the evening, Jodi and I were talking about the birth of her daughter. The couple’s blog reads, “In what can only be described as ‘very fast’, Jodi had to push only 8 times across 3 contractions before Alison came out.” Jodi’s account confirmed that as she described how quick and easy the actual act of pushing and delivery went. When she was done, she said (paraphrased):

It felt like it should have been harder. It feels like it didn’t really happen, you know?”

I’ve never given birth, but I knew exactly what she meant!

November 12, 2006 at 1:42 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

Flickr Photos

3D Printed Products