Posts filed under ‘Larry Bowman’

A Trip Better Than the Virgin Islands!

For those of you who were envious of my Virgin Islands trip, you best brace yourself….

The week after I went to the Virgin Islands, my co-workers Larry and Steve went on a trip of their own. Being kind-hearted colleagues, they sent me pictures so I could see what I missed out on. How kind it was of them to taunt me like that.

Anyway, without further adieu, I present pictures from Larry and Steve’s trip.

La Crosse, Wisconsin.

In January.


Steve with a snowpile (Photo by Larry)


A McDonald’s . It’s behind the giant mountain of snow
(Photo by Larry)


The Temperature in the Virgin Islands was 80 degrees. LaCrosse, Wisconsin: -9!

January 19, 2009 at 3:30 pm 1 comment

Virgin Islands: The Trip to St. Thomas and an Epiphany

My trip to the Virgin Islands was a bit eventful. It started the Saturday after Christmas, well before dawn. I had spent the night in Silver Spring, Maryland with relatives who were also going on the trip– Uncle Timothy, Aunt Maria, Cousin Sam and Cousin Jack!

Early in the morning, we woke up to head to Dulles airport. Being the most seasoned traveler of the bunch, I felt I should share my knowledge with my companions. I announced to everyone, “You do know United charges $15 per bag, right?”

They looked at me dumbfounded and I knew right away they were thankful to have me around.

“Even carry-ons?!?” Sam asked.

“Oh…uh… no… not carry-ons,” I said.

“Oh. We don’t check bags.”

It was then I noticed that all four of my travel companions were armed with identical, dinky, little suitcases. And there was I– with a giant duffel bag stuffed to the point of stressing the zipper. It housed clothes, rollerblades, a camelbak, hiking boots and a GPS.

For a while now, Larry has been trying to persuade me to start doing carry-on with my suitcase on business trips. I have resisted, remembering what it is like to manage luggage in an airport bathroom stall. That, and I am not inspired to re-architect my toiletries to comply with the 3-1-1 rule. Plus, it’s Larry. He always worries about bags getting lost.

Well now, Larry has some traction for his cause. Maria, Timothy, Jack, Sam and I all arrived at the airport at the exact same time. I had to check my bag. They didn’t.

They had a relaxing stroll through the airport. They breezed through a short security line and got to the gate in time to get lunch.

Me, I almost missed the flight!

I got caught in a long check-in line, then I got caught in an even longer security line. Then my little shuttle to the next terminal had to wait for a plane to park. As the time ticked to under ten minutes before the departure time, I was convinced I was going to miss the flight. I was already running numbers in my head trying to figure out how much I could afford to rebook my ticket.

My cousin Sam kept text messaging me from the plane, assuring me the airline knew I was checked in and they would surely wait. But being the seasoned, extremely knowledgeable traveler I am, I had plenty of memories of panting passengers being turned away by the most unsympathetic of gate agents to race through my head.

“Sorry sir, the aircraft door is closed.”

“Sorry sir, the aircraft door is closed.”

“Sorry sir, the aircraft door is closed.”

Even though I was convinced it was hopeless, when my shuttle stopped, I ran.

I found the gate to be void of passengers and the door to the jetway was already closed. In front of the desk were two idle agents. This did not look promising.

Suddenly one of them looked up and saw me running.

“St. Thomas?” she asked.

She rushed to open the door and she got me on board. My cousin Sam was right. I made it.

There are experiences in life that unearth doubts and shake up your entire belief system. Conclusions that were once so concrete are now in question. Everything goes into limbo.

As sweat rolled down my face, I buckled my seatbelt and I worked to catch my breath, I had one of those moments. Not matter how hard I tried, I could not purge a nagging question from my head.

“Could Larry actually be right about something?!?!”

ūüôā

January 12, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Easiest Lent Ever

Well, it turns out Lent 2008 was my easiest Lent ever.¬† The leap to giving up red meat wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated and I adjusted well to the text messaging restriction.¬†

Courtesy of text messaging, 2008 was also one of more amusing Lents.¬† I allowed myself to read text messages, but I wouldn’t write back.¬† This opened the door for a series of taunting messages.¬† When they knew I was on the road Derek, Sean and Larry all found it fit to send messages like this one:

From: Derek
Mar 17, 12:35 pm

Haha you can’t reply ūüôā

Meanwhile, one of my old co-workers took a very different approach.  He simply sent text messages to tell me when HE was driving.

From: Mark
Feb 21, 6:44 PM

I’m driving.¬† ūüôā

Giving up red meat, on the other hand,¬†has been educational.¬† It taught me just how effective ad campaigns are.¬† You have no idea how many people approached me, insisting that pork is white meat.¬† It’s not!¬† The National Pork Board can¬†use its slogan all it wants, but nutrition-wise PORK IS RED MEAT.¬† From the USDA Fact Sheet on Pork:

Why is Pork a “Red” Meat?
Oxygen is delivered to muscles by the red cells in the blood. One of the proteins in meat, myoglobin, holds the oxygen in the muscle. The amount of myoglobin in animal muscles determines the color of meat. Pork is classified a “red” meat because it contains more myoglobin than chicken or fish. When fresh pork is cooked, it becomes lighter in color, but it is still a red meat. Pork is classed as “livestock” along with veal, lamb and beef. All livestock are considered “red meat.”

As far as post-Lent, I’ve sort of had quite a reunion with red meat (including that deceptive pork).¬† A Pot Roast Burger from Red Robin, Meatball Sub from Substation II, Pork BBQ from Due South¬†and a Victoria Filet with Horseradish Crust from Outback have all been ingested in just this week.¬† Hopefully, this reunion is brief and I’ll settle down to substantially less red meat.

But on a positive note, chriggy and ClintJCL may be happy to learn that I’m still not¬†typing away while driving.¬† I’m aiming for that change to stick!¬† ūüôā

March 28, 2008 at 10:51 am 4 comments

Practice Makes Perfect

There is a saying that “Practice Makes Perfect”, but there should be a caveat that the practice needs to be meaningful.¬† I think this was displayed quite¬†adeptly last Wednesday at Gwyn’s 3rd Birthday Party.

Gwyn’s mother was on a business trip, so that left Grandpa (aka Larry) in charge.¬† Almost immediately Larry encountered an obstacle.¬† Dairy Queen forgot to decorate the festive ice cream cake with Gwyn’s name.¬† And it turns out the teenage males manning the store never pursued on-the-job¬†training in cake decoration.¬† Larry decided to personalize the cake himself.¬† He stopped by the store and picked up some pink icing.

Now, Larry also lacks cake decorating experience, so he got out a piece of bread to practice.¬† He worked on his whole wheat canvas briefly and then announced, “Enough practice, I’m ready!”

He squeezed icing over the cake and proceeded to scrawl blobs that were only slightly reminiscent of letters. 


Grandpa’s Cake Decoration Services

Here is a¬†picture of the cake’s first letter.¬† Now I didn’t notice this until I was already home.¬† Look at the practice bread in the background.¬†


What is supposed to be a G on the cake.  The practice bread is in the background.

Larry felt confident to proceed after THAT?¬† ūüôā¬†

The cake quickly became a group project.  A knife was used to try to shift icing around and consultants were brought in to supervise.


Three generations try to figure out how to fix the cake

Even with everyone’s involvement and advice, the “GWYN” looked like it was written by Gwyn herself.


Good thing we had that practice bread!

Luckily, there a little known secret about decorating cakes for three-year olds.¬† Exclusively just for you, I’ll share.¬†¬†

Three-year olds are not concerned with legibility of icing.  They just want to ingest it! 

Gwyn was as pleased as she could be with the pink scribbles.  And unlike last year, she knew exactly what to do when the candles were lit.


Gwyn blows out candles

December 17, 2007 at 1:06 am 5 comments

Positive Stories From the Americas

I have two positive stories to share today from two seperate continents!  One comes from North America and the other from South America.

Bald Eagles Nest
When Katie and I toured the mine at Logan Lake, they took us by some old pits and explained their reclamation efforts.¬† This particular mine has won awards for their sustainability efforts and I can buy that.¬† We passed by hundreds of bluebird boxes the environmental engineering team had set up and multiple employees had their work areas decorated with pictures of wildlife spotted on mine property.¬† Granted, those employees¬†were all on the environmental team.¬† ūüôā

At one scenic pond, Katie and I spied a pole covered with large sticks.

“What’s that?!” I asked.

“A bald eagle’s nest,” our tour guide replied.

He then proceeded to tell us how that utility pole and the nest were originally located near the active, and very loud,¬†mine.¬† After the eagles took a liking to it, the company decided to relocate the structure to a more relaxing¬†neighborhood for the tenants.¬† They weren’t told to do it– they decided to do¬†it themselves.¬† Using a helicopter, they moved pole¬†to its current location.¬† The tour guide shared the cost of that venture.¬† It wasn’t cheap.

But their¬†investment was rewarded– the next year, eagles returned and used the same pole to nest.¬† This year I’m told some squatters grabbed the nest first.¬†¬†¬†A Canadian goose laid and hatched her eggs there.¬† The mine has a web cam set up so they can watch the nest proceedings, be it eagle or goose.¬† I sure wish I was there during nesting season.¬† That would have been a neat feed to watch.

Anyway, I rather enjoyed hearing about the nest move.  It pleases me to know there are companies that will take the initiative to do something like that on their own dime (Yup, Canada has dimes).

Larry’s Park!!!
In July of 2006, Larry visited a small village in Ecuador.  After he left, he donated money to some students so they could build a park.  Now it is DONE and Larry just received pictures of his investment today:


The park Larry helped finance!


A sign saying something about a park… and Larry!

How freaking cool is that?!?!?!?!?!?!  I now have a new aspiration in life.

November 8, 2007 at 8:20 am 2 comments

Adventures in Atlanta Airport

Larry and I spent a lot of extra unplanned time in Atlanta airport last week.  Here are some recaps of our adventures.

Good Things Come to Those in Good Humor?
Thursday, thunderstorms in Atlanta left me and Larry with a cancelled flight.  We hung out at the airport until late in the evening, hoping to get on one of the two remaining flights to Roanoke.  Turns out, it is not quite easy to get on a Roanoke flight when the standby list is nearly twenty passengers long.  But, we still had a good time.  Even at 10 PM and still without a flight home we were both in good spirits.  We stopped by the Delta Crown Room with the intent of getting on the wireless connection to find a hotel.  However, when we were checking in, we explained our dilemma to the agent and she started poking around looking at flights. 

Meanwhile, Larry and I, apparently not tired of each other, did our usual bantering and joking around.

“Are you related?” the agent asked.

Larry, showing the salesman in his blood, replied, “No, but we can be!”

She did some mysterious typing and he and I yammered on, finding plenty to laugh at. 

And then suddenly¬†our agent¬†printed out something.¬† She couldn’t get us on a flight that night, but she did get us two totally free rooms at the¬†posh Sheradon (which sported fancy schmacy flat screen TVs).¬† Do you know how many cancelled flights I’ve had?¬† I’ve never been offered a free hotel…ever.¬† This “Victoria B” from Delta certainly did not have to do that for us, especially considering¬†our delays were weather-related, but she did anyway.¬†

It was a nice treat.  Though I have to wonderРif we had approached her with entitled attitudes and grumpy demeanors, would the results have been the same?

BPP and ATL
Circa 8 PM, Larry and I were seated next to two anxious college students who were trying to get to Wichita.  They both had job interviews the next morning.  I noted one was carrying The Boondocks: Public Enemy #2, so we started talking about The Boondocks.  From there, the conversation meandered, Larry and the other student joined in and the four of us managed to entertain ourselves while our respective flights continued to have delays.  After a little while, I brought the conversation back to The Boondocks.

“Do you know who Huey Freeman [one of characters in the cartoon] was named after?” I asked the college student.

“No, who?”

“Huey Newton!” I said proudly, but noticed the kid’s eyes did not register.¬† “Do you know who Huey Newton is?”

“Sure,” he said,¬† “He’s a musician, right?”

Heh.¬† Nice try.¬† I explained Newton’s role with the Black Panther Party and then I moved on to why I mentioned it.¬† I think about Huey Newton a LOT at airports.¬† Why?¬† He has marvelous passages on the act of waiting.¬† Wrongly incarcerated, Newton spent a lot of time waiting in jail.¬† Whenever I am stuck at an airport, I think about the conditions Newton had to wait in and how much he excelled at capitalizing on the time.¬† Does this concept sound familiar?¬† I’ve mentioned it twice before on this blog– both on posts covering an airport delay. ūüôā


Huey Newton, waiting in jail.  Now, is waiting at an airport really *that* bad? 

Anyway, I shared my insight about airports, waiting, and Huey P. Newton with this kid.  He nodded and stared.  Other than thatРsilence.  It is safe to say I failed to inspire him.

BUTРI did get to marvel both students with my pictures of Wichita, Colorado and Montana.  Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some.

My uninspiring Huey Newton monoloque wasn’t the only Black Panther Party reference at Gate 32B.¬† With all the delays, cancellations and confusions, there were a lot of gate changes.¬† Earlier in the evening, Larry and I got to play “Gate-Pong” between Terminals C and D.¬† Late in the evening, an older gentlemen wearily wheeled his luggage into our gate area.¬† He was just about to¬†find a seat¬†when a gate change was announced for his flight– all the way in a different terminal.

“WHAT?!?!?!” the man yelled.¬† “Uh huh.¬† No way!¬† WE PROTEST!!!!”¬† He shoved his fist into the air and all the passengers in the surrounding areas cheered.¬† It was almost as poignant¬†as the 1968 Olympics.¬† Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Frustrated Flyer.


I missed his fist.  This is about one-two minutes post-fist.

Deal with the Devil?
I may have done something unwise with my free time at the airport.  Or maybe exceedingly open-minded.  Larry likes to declare he hates Ethopian food.  How many times has Larry actually eaten Ethopian?  That would be zero.  So I like to get on his case. 

“You can’t¬†judge it, until you actually try it.” I’d nag.

Well at one point, one of the college students was talking about Ann Coulter.  I said something and suddenly Larry and I had our roles reversed.

“Have you ever read one of her books?” he asked.

I stammered and tried to cite other encounters with the author, but he had none of it.

“Well, you can’t judge her until you’ve read one of her books.”

So I went into attack mode, “Oh yeah, what about Ethopian food?!?!”

Our conversation continued and as the college students watched on, Larry and I settled on a deal.¬† He will go to Ethopian twice and in return I…uh…will read one of Ann Coulter’s books.

I think I’ll end up winning in this deal though.¬† I’m pretty darn sure Larry will end up liking Ethopian.

Weird Question
Friday, Larry and I returned to the airport to catch a morning flight to Roanoke.  We loaded up on free Starbucks (Soy Green Tea Latte for me) and sat down at the gate.  Soon a man my age approached me.

“Excuse me, this is going to sound like a weird question, but are you Vicky Sawyer?”

The question did not seem that weird at all.¬† My maiden name is, in fact, Vicky Sawyer.¬† I wouldn’t have recognized him on my own, but once he said something, I could place him instantly!¬† He was an old¬†BBS friend from high school.¬†

And so, my second wait at Atlanta airport went by quickly.  After all these years, there was plenty to catch up on.  Before I knew it, my 28 hour journey home was ready for its very last leg.

September 16, 2007 at 7:57 pm 5 comments

Amy Winehouse Links

I decided to do these links manually as I have too much commentary for del.icio.us to handle. Earlier this week, Mike E told me about a flowchart called “Are you Amy Winehouse?”


Are you Amy Winehouse?

I’ve had mixed results exposing others to Amy Winehouse. She never really caught on with Mike E and Mark Duncan , but Larry bought the Back to Black CD and we spent the majority of our Montana trip listening to her. On the Larry front, an Amy Winehouse phrase is in our every day language. It’s part of our corporate culture, proving to be just a tad more resilient than Pep-see Ya.

What kind of fuckery is this?!?

Amy uses a variation of the phrase in “Me and Mr. Jones” three seperate times in regards to a relationship. Larry and I use it when discussing daily duties:

Vicky: I think we are going to need to go ahead and purchase the reporting component.
Larry: What kind of fuckery is this?!?!

or

Larry: The meeting is going to be at 8:30 AM [Author’s note: I don’t like waking up early when a lunar eclipse or a hike or Chuck E. Cheese is not involved].
Vicky: What kind of fuckery is this?

My brother easily adopted to me and Larry’s catch phrase. On the way to Assateague, Jay and I got stuck in Beltway traffic and I received a phone call.

Vicky (answering): Hello? Oh, Hi Larry!
Jay: What kind of fuckery is this?!?! Heh Heh Heh

I think one of the items about Amy Winehouse that has made me think the most is her drinking. My very first link added to my del.icio.us account (well before the WordPress synchronization) was a Washington Post article on Winehouse call 100-Proof Voice. What stuck out the most to me was a quote from ?uestlove:

“I caught myself saying, ‘I’m going to rue the day when Amy gets it together,’ ” says Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, whose hip-hop band, the Roots, has performed with Winehouse in Europe.

“Once I heard [her music], part of me felt like: ‘Don’t rock the boat. Let this take its course ’cause that way you’ll get great music.’ And part of me wanted to reach out to her.

This struck home to me. There are those whose drinking I look down upon, those who I do not hesitate to judge harshly. And then are those who have established problems that I overlook and don’t even give a second thought to. Why the discrepancy? Why is it not an even playing field in the arena of who Vicky condemns? I think it is a bit of the Amy Winehouse Syndrome. Here’s the key– If you can tell great stories and make me laugh in the wee hours of the night, suddenly your drinking is no longer a factor. I let it take its course cause that way, I get to hear great stories.

It’s easy to overlook alcoholism when there is such great art. What kind of fuckery is *that*?

In Amy Winehouse’s case, I’m not quite sure, “great art” is always the most accurate phrase. On the contrary, her live performances have some displays that are decidedly ungreat.


Charlotte Church and Amy Winehouse perform “Beat It”


This one gets pretty horrid after about two minutes. I like how the background singers forge ahead.

Perhaps that is why her relatives can now surface with plans to help. Though I’m not sure boycott is the going to be the most effective route.

August 31, 2007 at 8:14 am 16 comments

Lab Visit

Greetings from Kansas on my last night here.¬† It’s been a very busy trip and even tonight I have little time to write.¬†

On Monday, Larry and I got to visit a food safety lab.  This particular lab specializes in pathogen testing in food (stuff like Ecoli 0157:H7, Listeria, Salmonella, etc).  With roughly 76 million cases of foodborne illness occuring in the U.S. annually (equaling an estimated 325,000 hospitalizations and 5000 deaths), the work they do in the lab is of great value and importance.  The employees there take their duties very seriously.

Larry and I have visited many different types of organizations during our respective careers, but this was the first aseptic environment either of us had been involved in.  Great strides are taken to prevent cross contamination and to protect the integrity of the samples.  Larry and I had to wear special booties over our shoes.  This involved a tricky process where you keep your outside, unprotected foot on one side of a line, meanwhile you put a bootie on the other foot and move that freshly-bootied-foot to the other side of the line.  My attempt was less than successful.  I lost my balance and fell.

That was embarassing, but at least I was able to successfully put on the latex gloves!¬† Larry struggled with that step! ūüôā¬†


Larry finally got his gloves on.  Great Success!

We also wore hair nets, large lab coats and special additions to the sides of our glasses.¬† Somehow the look still managed to be flattering on the lab workers.¬† On me and Larry— not so much.


Lab worker making the look work.


DORKS!  I thi
nk my blink is an especially great accessory to the look.

It is a very good thing Larry and I do not work there.¬†¬† As the workers moved between different duties, they had to change into fresh lab coats and gloves.¬† With my struggles with balance and Larry’s with his gloves, we would never¬†get the work done in a timely fashion.¬†

We both very much enjoyed our visit and were extremely impressed by the expertise, vigilance and dedication of all the lab employees.  It was easy to see they cared about their jobs and that they performed their duties superbly.

April 25, 2007 at 11:13 pm 1 comment

Walk on Campus

This evening, Larry, Mike E and I took a somber walk around campus. Below are some pictures from our walk.

Sentiments From Other Schools
I continue to be overwhelmed by the responses we see from around the world. A couple signs on the Drillfield originated from other schools.


NYU Stands With You


From Auburn University

Marquee Messages
In my journals following September 11th, I noted how the local businesses displayed messages in their marquees. This incident provoked a similiar response.


The Lyric, our theatre which originally opened in 1930


The Comfort Inn in Christiansburg quotes Nikki Giovanni

A Child’s Note
People had placed flowers next to the West Ambler Johnston (my dorm of two years) sign.


Flowers at West Ambler Johnston

A child had placed a note there as well. From what I could tell it read:

I [am] sorry for wh[at] haped. I hop there [is no] more bad g[?]eas at VT. I hoap it wilt never haped a gine

At such a young age, this child is already reaching out and communicating his/her personal disappointments and sorrows. If Cho Seung-Hui had mastered similiar skills, perhaps his turmoil would not have reached the point it did.


Child’s Note

Hokie Stone
On the Drillfield in front of Burruss, 32 blocks of Hokie Stones were placed in an arc. Each stone represented a life cut short and each stone had a VT flag and flowers respectfully placed upon it.


One of the memorial Hokie Stones on the Drillfield


Three of the stones with flowers and Burruss in the background

Drillfield Trees
A tree is planted on the Drillfield for each graduating class of Virginia Tech. Today, maroon, orange and/or black ribbons were tied around each tree. This particular tree was near the War Memorial. You can see the VT President Bush and Governor Kaine signed in the background.


Maroon, orange and black ribbons on a Drillfield tree.

Drillfield, War Memorial and Squires
Multiple memorials were present all around campus, particularly the Drillfield and our War Memorial.


Maroon and orange wreath at the War Memorial. You can see visitors to the Drillfield in the background.


A make-shift memorial (the VT was originally crafted by students for the Miami game). In front are white candles for each of the deaths and red candles for each of the injured. In the background, a blooming tree indicates it’s spring (a period typically associated with new life, not what was brought our way).


A Sign Hangs Above Squires Student Center


Signatures and flowers on the Drillfield


A teddy bear on the War Memorial with a shirt that reads, “Somebody in Blacksburg Loves You”

I have a few more pictures of our campus visit on my Flickr site. There are also some wonderful shots by others at the Virginia Tech Shooting Flickr group.

April 19, 2007 at 1:12 am 4 comments

Blue Mountain/Poo Mountain Recreation Area

Yesterday, Montana once again had better weather than Virginia.¬† It was beautiful and sunny and in the upper sixties.¬† I got to rollerblade in my 17th U.S. State (took the Bitterroot Trail System from McCormick Park to Southgate Mall).¬†¬†Later in the afternoon¬†Larry, Lindsay, Jennifer and I went for a quick “hike” in Blue Mountain Recreation Area.¬† We are also joined by the two dogs (Juna and Jasper) and a young woman named Rose who possess a radiant complexion, a beautiful smile¬†and a very, very¬†loud laugh.¬†¬†¬†The park¬†is extremely dog-friendly.¬† As such, it has earned a nickname from the locals – “Poo Mountain”.

Well, I didn’t see any dog poo on our journey but I did get to see a lot of great views.¬† Some pictures from our outing:


Our crew hiking


View


Lindsay and Larry


Vivid Bark

All my pictures from our Blue Mountain Recreation Area hike are available on my Flickr site.

April 16, 2007 at 2:36 am 2 comments

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