Posts filed under ‘Virginia Tech’

Relay for Life – Holiday Gobblers

The last two years, Ryan, ZJ and I weren’t alone at Relay for Life. Both years we had neighborhood kids accompany us. Since the kids are very enthusiastic about the event, this year we making our team a “Hunter Street Team“. Ryan and I are donating the registration fees for the kids who want to participant. (Ryan has already been convinced to give Tyrek an additional donation as well ūüôā ).

Recently I have been exposing some of the kids to plastic canvas.

Plastic Canvas - Jacal Works on Magic Card Holder
Jacal Stitches Himself a Deck Protector for his Magic Cards

Building on that skillset and inspired by Thanksgiving, this month as a thank you gift for donations, we’re going to make these Holiday Gobblers as Thank You Gifts.

Holiday Gobblers
Holiday Gobblers for Thanksgiving

We have four colors:

  • Burgundy (aka “The Hokie”)
  • Dark Brown
  • Tan
  • Black and White Spotted

When you squeeze them, they will give you a kiss, specifically a Hershey Kiss. Or…. you can use them to decorate your nose. Holiday Gobblers are multifunctional!

Plastic Canvas - Kissy Bird Bites Jacal
Jacal is Attacked by a Holiday Gobbler

Donation Pages
Khalif’s Donation Page
Tyrek’s Donation Page
General Team Donation Page

P.S. If you are craftsy and would prefer to make your own, we can send you all the supplies (except for glue and needle) and the instructions instead!

November 12, 2010 at 5:00 am 3 comments

I See Extinct Things

When I was a young child, one day for no particular reason, I told my grandmother a lie.

“I saw a puffin walking down the street!”

A puffin. In Occoquan, Virginia. Just 35 miles south of Washington, DC.

I wasn’t just a confused little kid. I didn’t see some kind of other bird, say one actually indigenous to the Mid-Atlantic region, and think it was a puffin. I didn’t even see a squirrel cross the street. I fabricated the sighting altogether.

Why? I think I thought if I saw something rare, something unexpected, that would make me special.

(My grandmother must have disagreed, she didn’t rush out and call the Potomac News about my puffin run-in. She just nodded and went about cooking dinner).

Today, I am pushing thirty-four years old and I don’t have to lie. Puffin Schmuffins. This fall I have been so damn special that I’ve gotten to see things SO rare they were once thought to be extinct. That’s right, extinct!

In September, I went with Ryan Somma to the Smithsonian’s new Sant Ocean Hall in the Natural History Museum. One of the many fascinating items they had on display was a Coelacanth.

Coelacanth at the Sant Ocean Hall (Photo by unnormalized)

Coelacanth fossils were first discovered in 1836. After that, numerous fossils were found, but they all dated between 400 to 66 million years ago. Seeing how the last trace of them was, well, 66 million years ago, people came to the conclusion that the fish was extinct.

And then in 1938, a fisherman caught one!

Now we know of two surviving species. Both are currently “critically endangered”, but not “extinct”.

Virginia Round-leaf Birch Tree

Compared to the Coelacanths, the history of the Virginia Round-leaf is pretty brief. The Virginia Round-leaf Birch tree was first discovered in Smyth County, Virginia in 1918. Then like the Coelacanths, all traces of the species disappeared… though for only about 1/100,000 of the time. In the absence, the Virginia Round-leaf Birch was also considered extinct. Then after 60 years of laying low, a small patch of the trees were found.

Today, in the one natural population, less 10 individuals survive and “it may be the rarest native U.S. tree species still existing in the wild.” However, thanks to the restoration efforts (and secrecy!), there are enough artificially propagated trees out there for the species to be considered “threatened”.

And some of those artificially propagated trees were practically in my backyard! There is a small memorial grove of Virginia Round-leaf Birch trees planted at the Virginia Tech Duck Pond. I got to visit them about a month ago, right as their leaves were starting to change.

Virginia Round-leaf Birch Tree at the Virginia Tech Duckpond

Stipules and leaves

So perhaps like my lie to my grandmother, these encounters are not yet worthy of the Potomac News. And perhaps they do not make me personally special.

But I will tell you this. When I am looking at these species, when I reflect on their rarity and how at one point in time their existence was about as likely as a unicorn (or a puffin in Occoquan, Virginia), and when I marvel at the surprises this planet of ours somehow managed to hide… the moment feels powerful.

The moment feels special.

November 14, 2008 at 8:00 am 4 comments

Class at Lane Stadium

There were a couple of classy moments from yesterday’s game, I thought I would share.

Thank You, ECU
Prior to kick off, the crowd cheered, “Thank You, ECU”.¬†¬†Not only did the school give us a very generous donation, but they did still come and played us in some intimidating circumstances.¬† ūüôā

Cheerleaders Hold Up Thank You Signs

Welcome ECU
Our own Corps of Cadets lined the entry way to welcome the competitors as they came out on the field.

Virginia Tech’s Corp of Cadets Welcome ECU

Lack of Sevens
I was pleased with the almost complete lack of #7 jerseys.  In fact, I only saw one the entire day:

One guy still wears a #7 jersey… for Ron Mexico.

ESPN Coverage of Retired Numbers
I saw some of the fourth quarter on television.¬† At one point they talked about Frank Beamer and what he has meant to the school.¬† They showed some old photos of the coach and then for the remainder of the piece, they showed the flag at the stadium that reads “Beamer 25”.¬† In the ESPN shot, though, the flag is very far to the right.¬† Beamer’s name wasn’t centered.¬† What’s to the right of the Beamer flag?¬† Vick’s flag.¬† I suspect ESPN kept the Vick flag out of the shot on purpose…which was nice, kept the focus on the positive story about Beamer.

Beamer 25, Vick 7

September 3, 2007 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

ECU vs. VT Pictures

Well…. the actual game was a bit of a let-down for me.¬† But I did have my camera and I was able to capture some parts about the Lane Stadium experience (Not all ones that I favor).¬† And now I share with you!

I freaking love flyovers!  One time I was on my deck alone and some war planes passed by.  I still felt compelled to cheer.  Yesterday, two F-15s flew over after the national anthem.  I cheered.

I *LOVE* Flyovers!!!!!

Virginia State Flag
I first noticed our team running out on the field with the Virginia flag after September 11.¬† They may have done it before, but every since I noticed it, I’m touched by the state pride.¬† This season, they added another flag to the mix– the VT Ribbon.¬†

Team is accompanied by three flags– Virginia, VT Ribbon and U.S.

Block That Kick
Even though I’m a football fraud, I’ve traveled to a number of away games (UVA, West Virginia, Pitt, Boston College, Rutgers, Temple, Texas A&M, Wake Forest as well as four bowl games) and have gotten to see a lot of school traditions and gestures.¬† What I have never seen was another team that embraces the fourth down as much as Virginia Tech.¬† We take pride in our special teams and it really shows when the other team is punting or trying to kick a field goal.¬† The crowd almost unanimously gestures for “Block that Kick”.¬† It is quite¬†a sight.¬† I think it looks like little worms.

Block that Kick!¬† See the section in the upper right where hands are not raised?¬† That’s the ECU section! ūüôā

I like how even if I’m in the stadium, I can enjoy the beauty of our mountains.


Key Play
Eh, I’m more of a subscriber to our fourth down gestures.¬† On third downs when we’re on defense, fans shake their keys.¬† I didn’t think there were that many people who participated, until I took pictures.

A fan (very enthused) shakes his keys.  Cassell Colliseum is in the background.

Wow, that many people shake their keys?!?  I never noticed!

Stick It In!
When our offense gets in the red zone, the crowd joins the band and the cheerleaders in the “Stick It In” song.¬† The lyrics are quite deep:

Oo-oh  Oo-oh  Oo-oh  Oo-oh
Oo-oh  Oo-oh  Oo-oh  Oo-oh 
Stick It In!
Stick It In!
Stick It In!

Sometimes the cheerleaders try to remind the crowd of the tricky lyrics by holding up the O and the H (from H-O-K-I-E-S).¬† Anyway, I tried to take pictures of people dancing to the Stick It In song.¬† Sadly, our opportunities were limited and the pictures I did take didn’t do it justice.¬† BUT– I did get this picture of a guy wearing a shirt inspired by the song.

Stick It In!

Hokie Pokie
Okay…. this one isn’t my favorite at all, but it happens… A LOT.¬† Touted as “one of the greatest college band traditions in the land”, the Marching Virginias perform the Hokie Pokie.¬† I don’t participate, but I do like watching the goofy unison of the band as they turn themselves around.

You do the Hokie Pokie and you turn yourself around…

I’m missing a really, really good shot of the Enter Sandman frenzy when the team first comes on the field.¬† It is difficult to show the whole stadium moving as people jump up and down to the song.¬† All my shots look pretty tame compared to the motion that is actually occuring.¬†

Those disappointing Enter Sandman shots and more from the ECU vs. VT game can be found on my Flickr site.

September 2, 2007 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Bicentennial Needlepoint of Virginia

Tonight is Mom’s last night in Blacksburg.¬†¬† Instead of working on house projects, I took her to Ben and Jerry’s (she accepts ice cream as payment for services rendered), a drive around campus and then I took her to the relatively new Inn at the Virginia Tech.¬† In particular, I took her to the needlepoint that is on display there at the conference center.¬†

The needlepoint was presented to Virginia Tech in 1975 and was done in honor of the 1976 bicentennial.  There are 104 separate squares in the piece representing different cities and counties in Virginia.  Some squares are very elaborate while others are a little less decorative.  Overall, there are more than two million stitches in the piece and some squares took 195 man hours to complete.  It is pretty neat to look at:

Bicentennial Needlepoint

My current county presents a mystery.  Here is a shot of its square:

Montgomery County’s Square

On the upper left– a church.¬† Bottom left– old Virginia Tech logo.¬† Bottom right– U.S. flag.¬† So what’s the thing in the upper right?¬† Here’s a closer look at it:

What the?

I pulled up the Montgomery County Seal for guidance.¬† I’m thinking it is supposed to be a rifle?

Seal of Montgomery County Virginia.  Upper Left РDeer, Bottom Left РChurch, Bottom Right РBurruss Hall (Va. Tech), Upper RightРRifle

And before I part, here’s a shot of Roanoke County’s square:

Roanoke County Square

The Roanoke Veterans would be pleased to see that the Roanoke Star is depicted as Red, White and Blue here.

July 23, 2007 at 8:53 pm 4 comments

Endorsement for Ethiopian

It is the¬†unanimous conclusion of the people in our household (polls are still out for the canines) — the new Ethiopian restaurant in Blacksburg RULES!

It’s called “Excellent Table Ethiopian Cuisine” and you can find it behind Champs Sports Bar.¬† The food is absolutely delicious.¬† Each day they give you a different selection of dishes to choose from.¬† You choose the combinations you want and it is served¬†in a¬†large helping of injera (fermented bread).¬† The ingredients come from local farmers and I’m particularly fond of the food because of all the vegetable offerings.¬† Last week I had a spiced tofu and a yummy yummy lentil dish.¬† If¬† meat is to your liking (as it is for Sean), don’t worry– there are chicken, lamb or beef dishes to choose from too.¬†

Just as a heads up– the restaurant is carry-out only.¬† Use that as an excuse to eat outside and enjoy the weather.¬† There are plenty of covered benches in the parking lot.¬† And guess what– you don’t need to worry about silverware.¬† That’s what the injera is for!

Anyway, if you are in town, eat there!¬† And invite me while you’re at it.

Additional Links
Article on Excellent Table from the Roanoke Times

July 3, 2007 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

Lazy Man’s Mirror

Last weekend at the family reunion, I tied my hair back and wanted to check the integrity of my work.  Rather than get up and consult a mirror in the restroom, I took my camera snapped a quick picture and checked the results.

No missing strands of hair and eyeliner is in tact.

And with that I realized I left off¬†a key cell phone duty in my “Cell Phone… As Versatile as Duct Tape” post.¬†¬† I often use my cell phone as a quick mirror.¬† This may seem absurdly lazy.¬† But I’ll have you know I most frequently use this technique at airports.

Airport Commodity
I often braid my hair at the gate.¬† If you aren’t familiar with traveling alone at airports, then trust me– going to the bathroom at the airport is a pain in the ass.¬† Having someone watch you luggage is a luxury you take for granted.¬† When traveling alone you have to take all your luggage with you.¬† You can suddenly find your trek extended thanks to¬†remarkably poor-timed¬†bathroom cleanings.¬† And when you finally get there, gawd forbid, you actually have to use the toilet.¬† Managing a rolling suitcase, a laptop and a plastic bag full of provisions in a cramped stall is like playing one of those sliding number games, but in much more disgusting circumstances.

Slide Vicky and her luggage around the bathroom stall to open the inward opening door.  Note: Game not to scaleРthere is not this much wiggle room in an actual airport bathroom.

Anyway– I’ll braid my hair and rather than consulting a mirror I’ll use the cell phone.¬† I usually delete the pictures right afterwards, but here is a reenactment for you:

Pretend my living room is the gate and pretend Jimmie and Henry are actually passengers making out.

But…there are times¬†when I¬†do it when¬†I am just purely lazy.¬† Here is a shot I took of myself when I was working and on a whim¬†wanted to see my chin sag status:

Checking on my chin, February 15, 2007 

Usage Disclaimer
I do have a usage disclaimer about the Lazy Man’s Mirror.¬† If you are using it, make sure you are in the position to take any corrective action, if necessary.¬† Otherwise, it¬†only serves to¬†depress you.¬†

Last year’s away game at Wake Forest is a good example.¬† I’m the master of mismanaging blemishes and I woke up the morning of the game with gruesome evidence of that fact on my face.¬† It was soooo bad, I considered skipping the game.¬† When I proposed the notion to my husband, he burst out into song.

You’re so vain,
You probably think this game is about you, don’t you, don’t you?

My husband doesn’t usually sing, so the ditty left enough of an impression for me to go get dressed in orange and maroon and get in car.¬† And of course, we see all our friends there and of course, we see friends we haven’t seen in years.¬† Back when Sean and I first started dating, one guy told Sean he should date someone who was “you know, not thirteen.”¬†¬†Of course, that guy was at the tailgate and here I was ten years later… with the complexion of a thirteen year old.¬† I managed to stand steadfast through the entire tailgate.¬†

It was hours later in the stands, I decided I would take a quick peek.¬† I used my phone to take a picture of Larry Bowman (a distraction) and then I took a picture of myself.¬† The results were… let’s just say,¬†horrendous.¬† And there was absolutely nothing, nothing I could do about it.¬† I was concealerless and I was well lit under stadium lights.¬†¬†Luckily, there seemed to be some truth to Sean’s song — all eyes¬†did appear to be directed at the game.

Still, dear readers, I do feel a sense of responsibility to warn you.¬† Exercise caution with the Lazy Man’s Mirror.¬† Objects are as ugly as they appear.¬†

Actually probably uglier as cell phones have such small resolutions.¬† ūüôā

June 29, 2007 at 1:59 pm 8 comments

Drained Duck Pond

Stopped by the Virginia Tech Duck Pond after lunch today.¬† It’s not the most pretty sight, but the animals are adapting.¬† Nearby pools of water remain in tact for the ducks.¬† A heron seemed to rather enjoy the easy hunting in the¬†shallow waters.¬†¬†Blackbirds congregated in a mini stream that ran through what remains of the pond.¬† For some ducks, it is business as usual as they swarmed around a family with bread.¬†

Here’s a comparison shot between last Friday and today.¬† You’ll have to look in the background– the foreground is a mini-pond that is in tact:

Duck Pond June 22, 2007

Duck Pond June 27, 2007

As expected, there was a lot of debris on the bottom.  Golf balls, beer cans, barrells, bottles, cups.  Traffic cones seemed to be pretty popular as well.  I saw at least three.  At one point, the heron found one half submerged traffic cone to be a convenient perch.

Overview of the pond

Two ducks cross the barren landscape

Blackbirds congregate at some remaining water

Barrells and trash in the mud

A worker boats in remaining water

Heron with a traffic cone

Lines of police cars on the grass

More Drained Duck Pond pictures can be found on my Flickr site.

June 27, 2007 at 2:38 pm 6 comments

Draining of the Virginia Tech Duck Pond

Wow.  Looks like it was good little Gwyn and I visited the Virginia Tech Duck Pond when we did.  Today, the Duck Pond started getting drained as part of the state investigation of the Virginia Tech shooting.  This news may explain why I spotted a Virginia State Underwater Search and Rescue Team truck on 460 today. 

Anyway, I don’t know what they are hoping to find, but I bet they come across a lot of disgusting surprises in there.¬† My sophomore year of college I was feeding the ducks when my class ring fell into the water.¬† I had to get in and actually submerge my head underwater to retrieve it.¬† The next week…. I got mono.¬† Coincidence?¬† Perhaps.¬† But I bet the various organisms in that water didn’t help my immune system!¬† ūüôā

Virginia Tech Duck Pond…with water

After the investigation, the school is going to do some repairs to the pond.¬† It could remain drained for several weeks.¬† You know what that means?¬† I’m going to be¬†under¬†an awful lot of pressure to actually finish the bread I buy.¬†¬†ūüėČ

June 25, 2007 at 7:19 pm Leave a comment

Duck Pond with Gwyn

Friday afternoon, I got to babysit little two and a half year old Gwyn.  After dinner, I took her to the Virginia Tech Duck Pond.  Here are some highlights and pictures from our adventure.

I brought some old bread with us and Gwyn used it to feed a fleet of mallards.¬† At first she threw out a whole slice of bread out there (the ducks could not believe their eyes), but after that, she was very good at tearing off little pieces.¬† Once she got than hang of it, Gwyn promoted herself supervisor of the operation.¬† “More,” she’d tell me when she was out of bread.¬† And just¬†in case¬†the ducks could not figure out their role, after she threw the bread little Gwyn would order, “EAT! EAT!”

A duck waits for Gwyn to part with the bread

Gwyn gets ready to ration off another piece of bread

Hungry ducks keep their eyes on the prize

“Another One”
Most of what Gwyn says, I can’t quite decipher, so I fake it¬†at times.¬† “Uh huh”, “Cool”, “Yeah, nice!”, “Neat!”.¬† At one point she pointed to a wall and kept repeating a phrase.¬† I ran through all my generic responses before I realized- she was saying, “I need help.”¬† She wanted to be lifted up so she could see over the wall.¬† Well, there was one moment where what she said was very clear.¬† We ran across a weird duck.¬†

“Wow, look at that weird duck!” I said, “I’m going to take a picture.”¬†

And so I did:

Weird Duck #1

As I fiddled with auto-focus and took the picture, Gwyn very clearly said, “Another one!” and pointed.¬† Sure enough, there was another very weird duck.

Weird Duck #2

“I Did It!”
Earlier in the evening, Gwyn had a successful visit to the potty!  At the duck pond, I notice her squating.

“What are you doing?” I said,¬† “Are you going to the bathroom?!?”

“Yeah!” she said with a¬†sly smile on her face.

We were just 40 feet away from the restroom.¬† “Can you hold it?” I asked, “The potty is right over there.”

“Yeah!” she said with a¬†sly smile on her face.

So we walked over to the potty.¬† Wouldn’t it be amazing to report to Mommy that we had two successful potty trips?¬† We got to the restroom.¬† I pulled her pants and pull-ups down and discovered that she had not, in fact, held it.¬† But we were already there, so I held her over the toilet.¬† She sat idle for a few moments, grabbed some toilet paper, wiped herself and¬†then despite the poop in her pull-ups she got a huge smile on her face and proudly exclaimed, “I did it!!!!”¬† ūüôā

Baby Ducks and Willow Trees
After the duck feeding, Gwyn had lots of fun picking clovers, running through willow trees and exploring a nearby tent.  We also saw a number of adoreable duck families.

A mama and her babies

Gwyn plays in a willow tree

Before we knew it, it was bedtime for both the ducks and Gwyn.  All our pictures from the Virginia Tech Duck Pond visit are on my Flickr site.

June 24, 2007 at 10:55 pm 4 comments

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