Monday, August 31, 2009

The Aquarium (Part 1)

The South Carolina Aquarium is a great place to visit, relatively inexpensive and full of fun things to do. We went on Monday, so there were very few tourists there an the place was not crowded anyway.

I took a few pics, this one being my favorite, of Kate and Jack outside the aquarium in front of a nice fountain. Charleston is full of fountains and water features. The weather was bit hot, but it was nice that morning. The afternoon was a different story.

They had several displays, the first was the wetlands, which housed snakes, fresh-water fish, crocs and turtles. The exhibits were glass-enclosed, so you could get right up close to the animals and watch them a few inches away of you wished. The Rattlesnakes were a real treat since you could never get that close to one without some serious repercussions.

Jack liked looking at all the alligators and fish as well. I liked the river otters, who are the clowns of the Aquarium.

Here are the Otters, they had just been fed, so they were frolicking and chewing and washing. Its best to see them after they eat, because they are much more lively and active.

Trip to South Carolina

Reading in the car, look at that concentration.

We took a weeks vacation to South Carolina and spent the week at Grandma's (Kate's Mom's). We went to the Aquarium, Folly Beach, Downtown Charleston and ate really, really good.

We started off early Friday morning, we were on the road by 6:30 and were past Richmond by 9. Kate had snacks and drinks prepared, so we didn't stop until lunch, about 12:30 and its a good thing we did. As quickly as some clouds rolled in a dumped a few inches of rain on us, they rolled out and we found ourselves stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. The problem was a massive accident about a mile form where we were. We estimated that had we continued on, we might have been in that accident.

After waiting for about 45 minutes, an ambulance rolled past us on the other side of the highway, its lights on, but not the siren, a sign that the occupant was not alive.

Another half hour and we finally rolled past the wreck site, where there were at least five cars wrecked. We had to drive off of the highway onto the median to go around the site and as we rolled past, I saw about a dozen, blue medical gloves on the ground where the emergency crew had tried worked on one of the victims.

The traffic on the other side wasn't blocked at all, but the traffic jam on that side was 5 miles long and they had two lanes to pass and no troopers guiding them.

We past South of the Border a few minutes later.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, we got to Kathleen's house by 3:30.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Latest Haircut

He is getting better with this whole process. Really. He sits alone and doesn't have to sit in my lap, doesn't twitch or squirm and doesn't cry anymore at the mention of going to get his hair cut. This is a win.

Here's the process:


After (smiling*)

* He is holding a lollipop.

Cute Vanity Plate of the Week

Star Wars fans will get this right away.

A Lousy Quarter

Kate, Jack and I went to the Cheesecake factory for dinner tonight and then took the boy to get a haircut. If you have ever been at the CF, they serve food in large quantities. Their menu has advertising in it (I am not kidding).

Anyway, we finish our meal and the waiter brings us the dessert menu. This is the part of the meal that the CF is most famous, their decadent desserts, especially their cheesecakes. The waiter informs us about two new offerings; one is a pineapple upside down cheesecake and the other is Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake that has multiple layers. The waiter also informs us that with the purchase of the red velvet cake with multiple layers, the Cheesecake Factory will donate, wait for it, a whole quarter for Feeding America.

I inquired how much the cake was, the waiter informs me its $7.50.

I say either Cheesecake Factory needs to step up to the plate, so to speak. A lousy quarter? Really. Way to make a statement, like, "We are cheap".

A Sobering Statistic

From a news release from the Fairfax County Police earlier this week:

Sobriety Checkpoint Results
In Reston Police District

Fairfax County police officers from around the county conducted a sobriety checkpoint to deter and apprehend intoxicated drivers on Saturday, August 15 from 11:50 p.m. until 2:50 a.m. Sunday. All motorists were stopped and drivers were evaluated to assure that their abilities to drive had not been impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Approximately 778 motorists were stopped on Centreville Road near the intersection of Woodland Park Drive. There were no arrests made for DWI. Ten summonses were issued for miscellaneous traffic offenses.
Nine officers and six auxiliary police officers participated in the checkpoint.


That means 778 motorists were hassled for absolutely no good reason, in the name of supposedly keeping you safer. This is a dog and pony show designed to show the public that the police are doing something to combat drunk driving. I think the police can do better, I think they should perform more of their DWI-directed patrols, those seem to be getting better stats.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Paul

Paul Intravia had his 40th birthday this past weekend, so his wife Sherri had a surprise party for him and contacted a few people through Facebook. I was one of those and was able to make the trip. I went down Saturday afternoon and got there a little past when he arrived, so I missed the big surprise, but he was still pretty surprised to see me.

I also saw Monty, who I haven't seen since the ten year high school reunion. We are all greyer, bigger and balder, a common trait for many Lake Braddock alum.

Me, Paul and Monty

Ready for Action

After opening up presents, Colleen was playing with Jack with some of the balloons. He would take a break and stand back, ready to pounce and get into his "Fighting Posture".

This is that posture.

The balloons felt safe.

July Birthdays

Allisons birthday was last weekend and this weekend we celebrated Colleens. Reet made both cakes and they were cool; Ally's cake was a traditional cake with twisty ribbons of colors all around it made from fondant, which Reet will say is french for "friggin hard to work with". Colleens cake is a softball field with the name of her team on the field.

Colleens after making a wish.

Colleens Cake, a Softball Field complete with the name of her team, the Stingrays.

What a happy ten year-old looks like.

Ally's Cake, complete with name.

Jack discovers the candle-licking trick.