Friday, October 22, 2010

To Denver And Back In 3 Days

After graduating from UVA in May, my little brother moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Because he was working at a ranch and living in a bunkhouse, he left most of his things behind, including his dog.  Now, he's ready to move those things out, but the DC-to-WY drive is a doozie.
So I'm coming along.

We'll only be going so far as Denver together.  We leave today, and hope to get there in two days, with some time so I can see the city (I've never been, but Case spent a year in school there) before I fly back to Washington and Casey heads to Jackson.  So that's MY weekend, anyway.

Sadly, this means the end of Leilani's time with our family.  She's become an integral part of the crew in Vienna, and saying goodbye won't be easy.  I'm glad to have two extra days with her, but it's comforting to know that they'll be fine on their own.  They make a good team.
All photos taken by Marley Withrow.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wheeling Part 2

One of the best parts about the Create WV conference was that they took us out and about in Wheeling.  In fact, the entire afternoon on the first day was given over to it.  We had box lunches in the Capitol Theatre, which is, to put it simply, stunning.
Then the various tracks took tours of various parts of the city.  My group happened to be a walking tour, which I loved, since it meant I could dart all over snapping photos while still hearing the talk.  I discovered that Wheeling is a city of beautiful and desolate facades.  I would have loved to see it in its heyday, at the end of the the last century.
I don't know the history of this building (I believe it was a bank), but if anyone else does, I'd love to hear it!  I was not expecting to find something so gorgeously art nouveau in West Virginia.
This is inside the Orrick Global Operations Center.  It's the old Wheeling stamp factory, and the process of turning into what it is today--from renovating the building to convincing Orrick that locating their offices here was a great idea--was a massive community effort.  The building is seriously amazing.
A flower shop near the Centre Market.  Didn't venture in.
We did venture into The Paradox Book Store.
We were pretty excited about it.
I'm still sort of mad at myself that I neglected to buy this.
The next day, after the morning sessions and lunch, Jamie and I hit the road.  We stopped in town to snap more photos, many of which were of doors.  They'll be showing up on my other blog in the next week.
These were all in the little Victorian district.  Really, really pretty stuff.

We headed directly home, aside from a stop for groceries.  It was uneventful until we saw the BEAR.  It was a first for both of us, and we reacted accordingly.  All in all, a really great trip!  I definitely recommend Create WV, Wheeling, and traveling with Jamie.

To Wheeling

Warning: There are mummies in this post.  It's just one photo, but if you'd rather not see mummies, you might want to skip it.

This week I attended the Create West Virginia conference in Wheeling.  The conference was a blast, and very helpful once I figured out what panels it would benefit me to attend.  I loved Dan Roam's keynote speech, listening to Option 22 perform, and Dr. Nicole Cutts' diversity track.  But that's pretty much all I'm going to say about the conference itself.  Mostly, this is about getting there and being in Wheeling.
I drove with Jamie, who was also attending the conference.  The best part about driving with Jamie is that she sings along to every song, regardless of whether she knows the words or even if she's heard it before.  It's fantastic.  Here are some things we saw on the road:
(I found this really creepy.)
We drove through Philippi to see the covered bridge, which is the oldest and longest in the state.  And still in use!
This is the old train depot and current museum.  It's got plenty of neat things, but we ventured in to see the MUMMIES.
You didn't believe me, did you?  You didn't think I was actually going to show you mummies.  These two ladies passed away in a mental asylum and were then acquired by a man who had invented an alternative method of embalming.  Clearly, they've held up pretty well.  They even spent four days under water during a flood.  So, there you go.  Mummies.  In West Virginia.
We traversed the covered bridge, leaving Philippi and its mummies behind.
After arriving in Wheeling and enjoying a tasty welcome dinner, we ventured into the downtown area.
We were rather taken with the Victoria Theatre.
But slightly baffled by the large wooden hot dogs in the windows next door.
The Wheeling Suspension Bridge connects Wheeling proper with Wheeling Island.  It's pretty incredible all lit up.
I really liked this bridge.  Here is a video of driving over the bridge.  Because.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Please Stow Your Dog In Preparation For Departure

Tomorrow, I will be traveling to Wheeling, WV with SuperVISTA Jamie to attend the 2010 Create West Virginia conference!  In preparation for this, and another trip next week, I handed off my dog to my mother for safe keeping.  She'll have fun with her cousins, and I think it will be good for my little bundle of issues to spend time with persons other than me.  Still, it was odd to drive away without her and odder still not to have her here now.

Here is a video of Vista hopping, or perhaps doing to conga, so that you don't have to miss her, too.

Now have a happy Sunday--I'll see you in Wheeling!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Single-Player: The Book of Kells

Last weekend, I was back in Virginia playing the Scott Pilgrim game with a bunch of folks, and something occurred to me.  In my brain, there have always been activities I've considered "multi-player," and those I've thought of as "single-player."  Books are single-player.  Movies, multi-player.  Since moving here, however, I do most things single-player.  Partially because my tastes are odd and I don't share them with really anyone I've met here, and partially because, as I've mentioned before, I'm kind of a recluse.

With that in mind, I'm going to start a little segment on this blog I've resisted doing because when I moved here I decided the blog was going to be about the amazing new life I was living.  And it has been!  But just because I'm in a new place does not mean that I am not the same person, deep down in my squishy little soul.  I am.  And that person is a nerdy recluse who geeks out over movies and video games and books.  So "Single-Player" is basically me talking about things I've watched, read, played, and loved recently.  Sometimes it will be a proper review, other times a more straightforward geeking out.  Today's is a little of both.
When The Secret of Kells came out of nowhere to be nominated for an Oscar last year, my little part-Irish art historian heart did a jig.  The Book of Kells was created by Celtic monks and is arguably the most magnificent illuminated manuscript history has to offer us.  It has a fascinating history (which is presented very well by Katie and Sarah of Stuff You Missed In History Class in their March 22nd podcast), and it's basically a miracle that the book survived at all, much less in a fine enough condition to still be on view in Dublin.  Knowing the history of the book, I was curious about how the film would fit into it.  While the book may have survived, many, many of its creators and protectors did not.
The Secret of Kells is not a happy ending sort of story.  It is a story in which tragic things happen, but they happen alongside amazing, enchanting things (not all of which are related directly to the book).  And the whole thing is so beautiful it about takes your breath away.
As I was watching it, my brain kept puzzling over how I could take this thing, this beautiful thing, and make it a part of myself.
I wanted to tattoo myself with this movie.  (Notice to Mom: It's okay, you can breathe, I probably won't.)
If you can, I recommend you see this movie.  It's unique to other animated films being made right now, and I look forward to seeing other films made by Cartoon Saloon.  The Secret of Kells is available on DVD or streaming on Netflix (which means you can watch it RIGHT NOW, yo).  Here's a trailer, just in case you require more than my words and pretty pictures:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Overheard in the Woodshop

One of my favourite things about commuting on the Metro every day was the conversations I'd overhear.  I keep up with the conversations via a couple local blogs, but I overhear some pretty hilarious things in the shop.  So here's your first edition of Overheard in the Woodshop.

John: Last year I grew an eggplant that looked like Richard Nixon. (It's true, he brought us proof.)

John: I went looking for sandpaper in my van and found an ear of corn.

A client has brought us a castle "room box" to repair, and it's pretty impressive.  Three stories with an attic and a tower.  However, the tower, we found, has a disturbing tendency to fall over.
Colt: I guess Rapunzel lives up there.
Mikey: Guess we gotta rescue her so she can marry a frog.
Colt: I thought we had to marry her.
Mikey: Oh, alright.
Colt: Reaches for the tower, toppling it over.  Dang, I killed Rapunzel.  He picks it up and finds it unbroken.  Nevermind, she's okay.
Mikey: When you get out of the hospital, I'm marryin' your ass.

Jessica (Mikey's wife): I've got a bee problem--all these bees keep getting in the house!
Mikey: You know why they keep getting in, right?
Jessica: No, why?
Mikey: 'Cause you got a sweet husband.
Jessica: ...
Mikey: They're honey bees.
Jessica: You stop that.
Mikey: You ain't never gonna get rid of them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Not Ready For Snow

Last week it was still pretty much summer, and then all of a sudden this week is got ridiculously cold.  I mean the two-comforters-on-the-bed, leggings-under-your-jeans kind of cold.  Yesterday I got word that Snowshoe had their first snowfall of the season.  Granted, it was just flurries and WAY up the mountain from where we are, but it still bodes ill.  Last year's first snowfall was two weeks later, and look how that winter turned out.

Don't get me wrong, I adore winter and especially snow, but it's OCTOBER, for pity's sake.  Let me enjoy the autumn for a little bit before I need to drag out the long underwear and down coat, huh?  Call back in a month of two, then I'll be ready for you.
It is pretty, I'll give it that.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Happy Little Freak Of Nature

In Vista's opinion, her weekend might have been even more exciting than mine.  She got to hang out with her cousins, chase a bird that got into the house around the kitchen, ate full servings of Chinese take-out while I was away from the car for twenty minutes on the way back, and then played herself into a coma with a surprise canine houseguest.  Heck, the cat even let her love on him a little.
This is the sort of precaution my parents take when Vista comes to visit.  Because if you've never seen my dog jump, know this: she's basically a bloody gazelle.  I've never seen a dog jump like she can, and she scoffs at fools who think a baby gate can contain her.  Two, maybe, if they were stacked on top of one another.  On Saturday, when the bird was in the house, she apparently jumped from four feet flat on the group onto the kitchen counter.  There are days the cat doesn't even make that jump.

My dog is a freak of nature.
But she's a happy one.  She and Lani had pretty much exhausted themselves by Sunday.
Here's Sam the cat not scratching her in the face!  Oh boy!
He does love dogs, he's just not too sure about her.
He decided he liked me, though.  Briefly.
Sunday night, the girls decided to switch it up and slept in each other's beds.
I'm pretty sure this was taken before she ate all of my beloved leftover Wu's beef with broccoli.  I had plans for that food, Vista.  Eating plans.
This is Ace.  She spent the weekend with my roommate Emily.
I think she and Vista got on alright.
Aw, lookit my scary dog!  What a mean, vicious cutie pie!
Uh, whoa.  I wouldn't call her cutie pie, if I were you, Ace.  I don't think she likes it.
A headlock is kind of like cuddling, right?
Ugh, come on, I'm just trying to get comfortable here.
Thaaaaat's better.  Hopefully we'll get to see Ace again sometime.  She's a sweet girl!