Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sherando Lake

SGG and I took a trip to Sherando Lake this weekend. It is a small lake nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Some say it is Virginia's best kept secret and I am inclined to agree. It is probably the cleanest and best kept campground I have ever been to.

Just driving through the mountains is a treat. Sherando Lake is not that far off the beaten path either. You can swim, bike, canoe, kayak, and hike around the lake and the surrounding mountains. The day time temperatures can still be hot, but there is not nearly as much humidity as there is in the lower part of the state. The temperature dropped to 60 degrees the night we were there. The stars were so clear you could see the Milky Way.

SGG and I went to camp and to hike. We did an extended hike around the lake when we got there and then did about a 10 mile loop through (and over) the mountains and crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway on Sunday.

We bought some hiking poles before we went. They really made an incredible difference for us. We could have made it without them, but the potential for injury would have been much greater and we definitely would have been a lot more sore. The poles offer so much more support and stress relief whether you are going up, down, or over flat terrain. We saw a lot of it all. :-)

At one point on Sunday we encountered some unexpected rain. We were about 3/4 of the way through our hike and the rain was a very welcome experience.

There are tons of short, day long, and multi-day excursions in the Blue Ridge Mountains...I highly recommend them!!

The pictures from the trip are below!


Monday, August 10, 2009

At recess in the ring...

It has been hot the last few days. Not unusual for August here. Tonight we won our beach volleyball playoff games and thus must play again next week. We actually have a chance at winning the tournament. :-)

SGG and her two boys were out there tonight, but I think they really wanted to be home rather than at the beach.

Two blocks away, I could hear a band playing. They were called "Mike Proffitt Band".

After volleyball, SGG took her boys home and I went up to 31st street to listen to a band called "Borderline Crazy". One of the few bands I have heard around here with a female singer.

I sat on the wall around the little grassy area. It was warm from being in the sun all day. The air was almost stifling, hot and humid. I was watching a few boys play with a soccer ball, and the occasional parent that would join them. I watched some people play Frisbee. Some people danced. Some kids did gymnastics...funny, I didn't see any parents give that a shot.

On their break in between sets they would play music from an ipod or something. One of the songs was Elton John's "Tiny Dancer". As this song played, there were were several little girls running about dancing, doing ballerina twirls and leaps. What popped into my head was this line from a poem we analyzed in 8th grade, "Because I could not stop for death" by Emily Dickinson. The line was "At recess in the ring". These children were just in the moment, blissfully unaware of future or stress, truly at recess in the ring or circle of life. For a moment I got to share that feeling...and then reality returned.

SGG couldn't be there, but I was texting her lines from the songs that they played. They played Paramore's "Misery Business" and that was my cue to leave.

If you are so busy that you cannot stop for anything...even death...try to take a moment, a recess, and dance with a child or a partner in your home, in the park, at a concert, or on a street corner (Like The Exception).

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Google Voice...

I really like to explore new things, figure out how they work, and figure out what can be done with them that maybe they were not meant to be used for. It is that weird curiosity that makes me good at my job.

I love to play with new operating systems, new tools, new gadgets, and basically anything shiny, especially if it has a lasers or LEDs built into it.

Amazon knows this about me. I think I finally bought enough stuff from them to really profile me. I was looking for a 4in1 pen/stylus/laser pointer/led light two weeks ago. I didn't find what I wanted initially, but when I went back the next day they had one waiting for me and at a price I couldn't say no to. Being every so evilly helpful, they said that people that bought the pen also bought two other 532nm green presentation lasers with visible beams suitable for astronomical presentations. REALLY? Again, at a price I couldn't say no to. So now I have some cool toys. Even SGG thinks they are cool...unless she was just being nice. At night, the green lasers will light up a whole room. It is like putting a green dot with a green spotlight where ever I want and how ever far away I want it. I LIKE IT.

However, the cool item this week is Google Voice. You have to politely ask for an invitation. You will need a google account. They may send you an invitation. They will ask you to pick a number in your area and a few other questions.

What does it do? Well, I can give this number out to schools, doctors, and other people that need to get a hold of me. When the number is called, Google will ring each and connect to whichever picks up first. If they do not pick up, Google will take a message, transcribe it, text it to my cell and my email address. I can listen to it, read it, etc. I can even forward phones to it so that people that need me can get me most anywhere.

Why is this important? It isn't so much. I really don't need to be more connected. However, I would be convenient for when I need people to reach me to be able to get a call and have them just dial one number. For instance, I cannot take my cell phone in to where I work. I can configure Google Voice to call my work number. Still not earth shaking but interesting and convenient. By getting the voice mail transcribed, I can then read the voice mail instead of having to listen to it.

I just got it and am going to work with it for a bit. I'll let you know if I come up with any other useful uses for it, but the combination right now is enough to keep me using it for a while.

I am not a big fan of letting Google control more of my information, but like Amazon, they know me. :-)