Friday, August 22, 2008



The Tiger Swallowtail

This insect is the official insect of Virginia. I snapped a picture of it when we were over at Randy and Theresa's for a BBQ the other week. I was amazed that I could get that close and it didn't fly away, but it was really interested in that flower, which was in full bloom.

Visit to Udvar-Hazy

Yes, Udvar-Hazy. If you don't know what that means you are probably more familiar with its original name of the Air & Space Museum. Except the new version is out at Dulles Airport and is pretty awesome. Apparently, Udvar-Hazy was a big wig in the aerospace industry and he was of Hungarian descent, hence the name that sounds like, well, a disease that 40 year-old yuppies get. (yes, the doctor said I have udvah-hayzeee)

It costs nothing to get in but they do charge you $12 for parking, but they also take Visa/MC, so don't sweat it if you didn't bring any cash, like we did.

Jack liked it and enjoyed seeing helicopters, all types and sizes, colors and shapes. I enjoyed seeing the space shuttle, ray guns (toys) and the model for the close encounters movie.

I also liked that they had several guides that would walk around and give you a short synopsis of one of the exhibits and point out a few interesting facts. For example, when we were in the space exploration area, they had the actual working model of the close encounters of the third kind under glass. They guy said it was made before there was computer graphics, so the model builders had a little fun with it, like putting a shark in one of the alcoves, also a VW van as well. I got a decent picture of the R2D2 that they added, too. Very cool stuff.

We had lunch there and then went out to the large sculpture and took a few more pictures. We got Jack a little Space Shuttle toy. He almost made it home, but passed out just before we got home. We planned that one juuuust right.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Like Boobies

Yeah, you heard me, I like boobies, a lot. They are some of the most fascinating birds living on this earth. They live on the Galapagos Islands and are flightless. There are a few varieties, such as the blue footed boobie and the red footed boobie.

Boobie, boobie, boobie.

I once had an idea for a game called "Boobie Trap" where your token was a Boobie Bird and you had to make your way around the Galapagos Island and collect your eggs and get back to your nest, but there were also Boobie Traps where you would lose your eggs or have them stolen. You would win if you made it back to your nest with all your eggs.

I should think about creating a game about the woodcock, the titmouse or the woodpecker, too.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Update: Tootsie Pop Art

I have been working on a few pieces lately, both of them are a departure from what I have been doing before. The first piece is of Ellen Degeneres, who I think is one of the funniest comedians. The icons I have been painting have all been dead or political (Dubya), so this is definitely a departure.

Here it is:

The second piece is a departure because of the subject isn't a personality, but is still an icon. I had fun with this because its a parody of the old popcorn art that has been used on bags and cardboard containers at movie theatres for a long time.

This one is also different because I started using Starburst wrappers as well as tootsie pop wrappers on this one. They are just as easy to work with and offer many more colors that I can use. I plan on incorporating the starburst wrappers into more of my pieces in the future, but I will use tootsie pop wrappers when I can.

Here is that piece:

I think its kind of neat that the word Starburst, when broken up, encapsulates the spirit of this art, "star", like a celebrity or icon and "burst" as in to pop.

Not Going to Be A Millionaire

I went to try out for "Millionaire" this past Friday up in Maryland. I had such high hopes since my twin had made it on the show just about a year ago. (He walked away with $1000)

I wasn't as lucky (or smart) because I didn't make it past the test(s) that they administered. The first test was all about movies and the questions were tough, like what were the last words in the movie "The Witness" and what was the name of Marylin Monroe's character in Some Like It Hot?

The general questions test was just as tough with questions such as "what is a maillet".

So, hats off to you, Kenny, I guess I have to admit that you are smarter than me - whew, that was tough.

I just wish I had the test that had questions dealing with junk food, bad 80's movies and hair loss - my wheelhouse of knowledge.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Franklin, Mass.

Franklin is where we stayed and it happens to be the home to the first Public Library in the US. We stopped by for a visit just to say we were there and took a picture or two. I also found out that the town was founded in 1790, the same year that Benjamin Franklin passed away.

Trip to Massachusetts

The day after we visited Rhode Island, we stayed over and visited with one of Kate's friends, Mandy and her family. Mandy and Kate met through a website they both visit and contribute to regularly, "Work It Mom!".

They decided to meet at a park in Franklin and have a picnic. The weather was nice, a little humid. We got there first and Mandy, Dan, Maggie and Birdy. Within a minute, Dan had climbed the to the top of the jungle gym and stood atop it. I thought he was part monkey, but he's just a big kid.

After a few minutes, someone else showed up from Work It Mom that lived in the area and joined us. I don't remember her name, but her son's name was Brian.

We all had some lunch that Mandy made which was all vegetarian and all good.

Me, Jack and Brian

We saw a blimp

Maddy looking up

Birdy being serious

Dan and Maggie Posing

Brian and his Mom

We ended the day by going to Dunkin Donuts and got the kids some chocolate milk and coffee drinks for the girls. We said goodbye and thanked them for their hospitality.

Update: Dead Armadillo

I colored that drawing I did awhile back of the Dead Armadillo.
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Here he is in all his colorful glory:

Update: How to Draw Program

I completed my last class this week at the Centreville branch and it had 60 turn-aways. That means for all three Summer classes, I enrolled about 100 kids and had another 180 kids that were turned away.

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I have another class scheduled in September, but since the Summer is over by then, I expect the numbers to go down.

I checked with HR and they said since I already worked for the county, I couldn't charge for the class, but other vendors were getting in th neighborhood of $250-$300 for their programs. I don't mind, it gets me out to the different branches and I get to meet the staff. They are always nice and friendly.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Trip to Rhode Island

We recently took a trip up to Rhode Island to attend a family reunion. I don't actually have any family in Rhode Island, but Kate's side has plenty. We left early on a Friday morning and returned in the afternoon on Monday so that I didn't take a bunch of days off.

We actually went up and stayed an extra day to visit with one of Kate's online friends, Mandy, a member of "Work It Mom", a support website for mom's who work. More on that in a later post.

The trip up was about an 8 hour ordeal, one that I decided to prepare for in advance by signing up for the EZ Pass, which allows you to have your tolls deducted from an account by way of a special sensor that is attached to your car, therefore making it easier to go through tolls, of which there are many on the way to RI.

The toughest part of the trip was going through New York on I95. That is an experience in itself because of the traffic, congestion, general unkempt nature of the area (think of a paved shithole - the closest thing to what I envision as hell) and the drivers.

I saw an idiot try to negotiate across three lanes when he was nearly at the tool booth, and then got side-swiped by a Wennabago that thought it had plenty of room. It ended up taking off the side-view mirror and the guy got the message that he was trying a little too hard to make it across three lanes so he straightened out and used his turn signal. It worked, he got right across without a problem after that. Word to the wise, common courtesy still works in this day and age.

Shortly after that we paid the hefty sum of $6 to cross the George Washington Bridge, so I snapped a picture or two of that bridge. I figured that I paid $6 for that ride, I might as well get my moneys worth by taking a picture or two.

The rest of the ride was not news-worthy, we got to our destination of Franklin, Massachusetts at about 6:30 that night, a good 30 minutes before Tino and Kathleen arrived. They had left about the same time as us and we met at a New Jersey food stop at noon for some lunch. They decided to go a different route around New York and we went through on I95.

We stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn, courtesy of Kate and her connections (employer) and were very happy with our accommodations. We did have to switch rooms because the AC wasn't working, but otherwise a good stay. Thumbs up on the Residence Inn.

The next day we didn't do much, had some lunch and then attended the Family Reunion that began about 2 in the afternoon. Jack's afternoon sleep didn't end until 3, so we got there about 3:30 or 4. It was at the local VFW Post and it was hot. I don't think of RI as being hot in the summer, but it is and there is a lot more room around there than I ever thought, as well. I expected it to be much more crowded, but it looked like rural Virginia, lots of open spaces, much like farms.

The family reunion was OK, I didn't know many people there at all, same as Kate. Kate's mom knew a few and so did GG, but for me it just wasn't a big deal. It was one of those deals where you go and do your duty as husband, don't complain and be a good boy. I let Jack entertain me and took a few pictures of the people I did know.

I did manage to get some good shots of Reet and Jim together, all the cousins together, the O'Briens and even got someone to snap one of the Goodyears together.

Afterward, we went over to Cousin Sharons house and had some sandwiches and let the kids cool off in her pool. It was great to relax a bit and sit back and enjoy the surroundings. The kids all got in, but Jack is not a big fan of the pool, so he stayed on the side and splashed the water. Bill tried to coax him in, but he just wanted to splash. Funny, because he is such a bath guy, but the pool is just unappealing to him.

He slept great that night. He got to sleep in a "big boy bed" that was actually the sofa that folded out into a sleeper. He liked that, but in the morning, we found him curled up on the floor, we think he got up in the middle of the night and couldn't find his way back.