Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Break 2010 - Washington DC

I have frequently used this blog to write about the travels that we have taken in the last 2 years.  This week I shall do so again!  Zack and I departed Denver on Saturday morning bound for Washington DC.  Our flight was a little bit delayed by the maintenance issues with the airplane on it's departure from Milwaukee and weather in the Denver area.  But once all that was dealt with, we were off to Washington.
Our choice for this year's spring break came about when I spent 2 hours on a layover in Washington, Dulles Airport back in January.  As I sat there I thought about all the fun things that we could get up to in Washington - so the idea was born!

We plan to spend most of our time visiting the museums and monuments of our capital.  I have spent a fair amount of time here in the past, but Zack has never been here.  We love to explore the great cities of the world and I truly think Washington DC holds some of the greatest museums and monuments our country has to offer!

Today (Sunday) was our first full day here and we certainly got busy seeing the sites!  We are staying at hotel our in the burbs (New Carrolton, MD) and taking the subway into the city everyday.  We were up and about at 8:00AM and we headed out on the subway by 9:30AM or so.  The Smithsonian stop on the National Mall was our stop and we exited the subway line to find ourselves face-to-face with the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian "Castle".  A quick investigation proved to us that we won't get to the top of the Washington Monument today so we turned our attention to the Smithsonian Museums.

Our first stop was at the Smithsonian "Castle" to learn more about the entire chain of museums.  While we were there, Zack learned about a sculpture at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Museum that is a giant cypher.  This cypher is so complex that it has never been cracked.  Of course that totally and completely aroused his imagination and we made the Hirshhorn our first stop.  Much of the artwork in the Hirshhorn is modern art and try as I might I didn't see much beauty or purpose in a lot of it.  But we did get to see the sculpture with the cypher in it and Zack is determined to try and crack it!  Good luck on that one Z man!  :-)

After the Hirshhorn we journeyed to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  The magnitude of that museum always seems to overwhelm my senses!  I think Zack enjoyed it immensely - especially the part gallery dedicated to astronomy and the universe.

After the Air and Space Museum we spent the rest of our day exploring the confines of the National Mall.  We visited the WWII Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.  Though I am anything but an art critic, I don't understand the design principles to what was done for the WWII Memorial - it just didn't make much sense to me.  On the otherhand, every time I walk past the stark "wall" of the Vietnam War Memorial, I am left with a sense of the immense sacrifice that was given by all who fought in that war.  Just a very interesting difference in the two monuments.

We also managed to visit the Albert Einstein Memorial in front of the National Academy of the Sciences.  Zack seemed mesmorized by seeing this huge statue of his hero.  I hope we can get back there when it might be less crowded as a whole bus of kids unloaded when we arrived there.  I think it would be neat for Zack to spend some time there to "connect" with the physicist who he idolizes.

We hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all ~J.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Night for Neither Man or Beast

It is that time of year again - snow season in Colorado!  The picture above was taken from my back porch about 45 minutes after I had arrived home.  When I arrived home there was only a small amount of snow sticking to my grass.  Then within 10 minutes everything had gone white.  Before we lost the light to nightfall, I couldn't even see the house across the cul-de-sac.  This snow storm is absolutely crazy!

Though I love all seasons in Colorado I do grow frustrated with the continued snow fall so late into the spring.  We tend to get our biggest snow storms during this time of year - just when you are really growing weary of the winter season and are longing for the spring weather.  I guess the good thing from it all is that the more snow and moisture we get now, the less likely we are to have major wildfires in the summer.

Things are on a slow and steady pace with us.  I am working constantly right now - but given the schedule of the project that I am working on for my employer I guess that is to be expected.  Zack is doing so-so.  He continues to deal with a fair amount of anxiety.  At this point both his psychologist and I have come to accept the fact that we are going to be dealing with the anxiety for a fairly long period of time.

Due to all the constraints of work and life I haven't had a lot of time to write updates to this blog.  Additionally, 2 weeks ago I started a "page"(essentially a blog) on Facebook called 365 Things to do in and around Denver, Colorado.n  In the last 2 weeks the number of subscribers has exploded to over 2,200.  Given the massive audience I have for that page, I am spending the free time I do have writing the posts that I put up on that page.  I certainly am not a good writer so it takes me a considerable amount of time to craft those entries.  (For those of you not on Facebook, consider joining and becoming a subscriber to my page.)  Therefore, I haven't had a lot of time to write on this blog.  However, next week we are heading out on our spring break vacation to Washington DC.  I will be sure to provide lots of blog updates from there.

We hope that everyone is having a great week so far.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Living with Four Dogs

This weekend we have been blessed with a copious quantity of dogs in our house - FOUR!  Yes we have four dogs in our house this weekend!  It is at times like this that I definitely realize you can have too many dogs!

We have the additional 2 dogs because my brother's family is in Vail staying with friends.  Normally when Tim, Celinde and Cole go to the mountains they stay in their own place in Silverthorne and take their dogs.  They own a place about 3 miles away from the condo that Zack and I have.  But since they are staying at a friend's place in Vail they didn't have the option to take the dogs.  So we ended up with 4 dogs for the weekend.

It is always an adventure having all 4 dogs here in our house.  Though they get along very well they each bring different personalities to the little pack that they form.  Bay kinds of checks out and just finds a quiet place to sleep and get away from the hustle and bustle of the other three.  Lex is totally inspired by having Ray and Lulu here.  He is constantly mixing it up with Lulu in terms of trying to prove which of them is the dominant pup.  Ray becomes a needy little puppy who wants constant attention from me.  When he is away from his 'parents' he just wants my attention.  Lulu is the ultimate hell raiser who is always in the mood for causing some kind of issue.  When she is here, she becomes the huntress, going after every squirrel in the yard and terrorizing them (and occasionally eating them!).

(The pack - from left to right - Lulu, Ray, Bailey and Lex)

So we definitely have an adventurous weekend ahead of us with a house of pups!

We hope you all have a fun and adventurous weekend too!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I have the writing bug....

I have launched another writing endeavour beyond this blog.  :-)

Yesterday on Facebook I started a FanPage called "365 Things to do in and around Denver, Colorado".  The whole point of this page is to document something fun and different to do each day of the year.  It is kind of like a blog to some degree but you write your entires in "Notes" and then post them to the wall of the fan page.

Given yesterday was my first day at it, I decided to do 2 entries.  The first was on the best burgers in the state of Colorado.  For those of you who aren't aware of what place sports the best burgers in Colorado, it is Bud's Bar in Sedalia, CO (a very small town right outside of Denver proper). Of course many might chose to disagree with that statement but Bud won't like it if you do - lol!  (Just teasing of course).  The burgers were actually voted the best burgers in Denver's free progressive news paper call "Westword".  So there is some serious power behind Bud's Bar claiming to have the best burgers!

The second entry was an oldie but a goodie for me - taking a hike on the Highline Canal Trail.  Today I only did one entry.  The entry for today was about the Fourney Transportation Museum which is home to the largest steam locomotive in the world!

I have so many ideas of other fun and unusual places to include on this web page.  Some of the places I was thinking about are: The Molly Brown House Museum, Dinosaur Ridge, Mother Cabrini Shrine, Red Rocks, Confluence Park, The Flagship REI, Downtown Aquarium, etc, etc, etc.

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook - please do become a fan of the page.  I am sure you will out some interesting things about Denver along the way!

Well - we have reached the half way point of the week.  I hope everyone's week is going well!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Portuguese Sonnets Thereof - Verse Xii

Some poetry from Elizabeth Barret Browning.....   Sonnets from the Portuguese Verse Xii

"Indeed this very love which is my boast,

And which, when rising up from breast to brow,
Doth crown me with a ruby large enow
To draw men's eyes and prove the inner cost,---
This love even, all my worth, to the uttermost,
I should not love withal, unless that thou
Hadst set me an example, shown me how,
When first thine earnest eyes with mine were crossed,
And love called love. And thus, I cannot speak
Of love even, as a good thing of my own:
Thy soul hath snatched up mine all faint and weak,
And placed it by thee on a golden throne,---
And that I love (O soul, we must be meek!)
Is by thee only, whom I love alone."

Why this post tonight...  Well that would be my business and my business only - but it is for someone who is very important to me. 

Hope everyone is having a great week so far!
Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cherry Creek State Park Photography

On Sunday afternoon Zack and I took a trip to Cherry Creek State Park to do a hike. The hike wan't anything special, but I also took my camera and took what I thought were some really good shots. It is hard to tell the quality of these photos as Blogspot doesn't allow you to post with a huge file size. But when seen at full size on my monitor I think they are pretty are darn good.

On a side note... if anyone who reads this blog knows how to post large sized pictures on blogspot, can you drop me an e-mail with some pointers! ;-)

Anyway, here are some the photos I really liked. Enjoy!!
(Lex free and unleashed - running through the dried grasses that line the lake)

(The stark beauty of the white tree trunks against the sky and dead, but colorful grasses)

(Zack attempting to walk through the muck that is the trail in certain spots)

(The size of this picture on the blog doesn't do it justice! This is an awesome picture when seen in full detail... at least in my opinion - LOL!)
(Lex in his glory!)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sepia Saturday - A Ghost from WWI

(My great uncle Otto Brodbeck in his military uniform sometime during WWI)
World War I was a remarkable war in the fact that is the first war to have world-wide consequences. The battles that marked this war were fought on just about every continent with the exception of Antartica. Though there were no land battles fought in North America, South America or Australia - naval warfare effected each of these continents in dramatic ways. It was the continuing naval warfare around our country that eventually brought us into the fight. Despite how distant in the past this war took place, echoes of it still flow through many families. My family is one of them as I write today to note the life of my great uncle Otto Brodbeck.
Though my family has been well established here in the United States for over 100 years, there are still many branches of the family that are remained in the "old country". My grandmother's family on my father's side is one of those branches. My grandmother came here to live in the United States in 1906 from a small town outside of Stuttgart, Germany called Esslingen. When she came over my grandmother left the rest of her family behind including her brother Otto.
As any patriotic Germany young man would, Otto was quick to enlist in the Germany army shortly after the onset of the WWI. Though the historical record is scarce it is easy to imagine that Otto spent many months potentially even years fighting in the horrible trench warfare of the Western Front. When Otto was killed in 1916 he was 1st Lieutenant and would have been at the "tip of the spear" of the Germany army. It would have been his responsibility to rally his men and give them the courage to "go over the top" of the trench to what was likely a sure death.
Many years ago I managed to do quite a bit of research regarding Otto and I came to find out that he died in 1916. The exact date of his death is unknown as he died during the hell that came to be know as the Battle of the Somme. His grave is marked and lies amongst the countless graves of those who fell in that horrible battle.
One can only imagine how Otto met his end. Potentially he was cut down by machine gun fire as he mounted the top of a trench in one of the futile frontal assaults that marked that war. Or maybe he was cut down by flying shrapnel from an exploding mortar or artillery shell. Did a sniper's bullet cut him down while he briefly stuck his head above the trench to assess the situation? Or was it illness that cut him down in his prime and he died far from the battle in a field hospital of pneumonia? I think it is highly like that I will never find out.
Though he fought for the "other" side in this great war from the viewpoint of my country, I still regard him as a strong and noble man who was willing to make the ultimate sacrafice for his country. Maybe someday I will come to know more of my fallen, long dead relative.
For more information on Sepia Saturday click [HERE].
We hope everyone is having a great weekend!
Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Themed Thursday - Green

In 1995 I moved from the wet, humid climate of Western Pennsylvania to the arid, desert-like climate of Colorado. During that first year that I lived here in Colorado the weather was such that we experienced record breaking rain and the arid landscape erupted into a crazy quilt of green grass and vibrantly colored flowers.
Less than three years later Colorado began it's slow descent in drought. The landscape parched and browned. The grasses, trees and shrubs that had been so full of life and green in 1995 became yellow and lifeless. The vibrant wild green was gone replaced by a pale, sickly green or yellow. How I missed the green of Western Pennsylvania and my first rain-soaked year in Colorado.
When you live in a "high-plains" desert you come to realize that green is the color of life. Without water there is no green. And throughout much of Colorado the environment is only green for short periods of time. Surprisingly, you can become very used to an environment that has little to no green in it.
I do hunger for that deep green that you can only find in damp, humid climates. When I travel back to my home state during the spring and summer, one of the first things I notice is the green of all the vegation. Frequently when I fly into my old home town of Pittsburgh during the months from April to September the sky will be cloudy and grey. As you break through the clouds your vision is immediately drawn to the "greenness" of everything. The spell it casts upon me hypnotizes me and brings back memories of countless childhood days wandering through the forest behind my house in Norvelt, Pennsylvania.
To me green will always mean life and vibrancy!
For more information on Themed Thursday, please click [HERE]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


At long last my workhorse is DEAD! Despite this death, there is actually excitement and happiness. What do I mean by my workhorse? I mean the long serving home desktop computer that I use as the hub for every computing need in my house.

(The guts of the old workhorse exposed so that I can get the hard drive out.)

We use this computer for just about everything. Some of the key things we do with this machine are: use it to edit and manage our key family photos and videos, maintain our master library of songs (MP3), use it to stream music to various audio devices throughout the house, maintain my master library of "reference" work documents, store my Quicken files, store my my entire genealogy database, edit and produce this blog and of course the most important use.... allow Zack to play Microsoft Windows based computer games - LOL! I have had this computer for over five years. I purchased it in January of 2005 when the previous workhorse suffered a fatal hard drive error. This time death was due to a failed power supply. I can tell from the indicator lights on the power supply it is receiving power from the cord but it isn't distributing the power to the motherboard. Since this computer was already 5 years old and was becoming a dinosaur unable to handle many of the demands placed upon it the time had come to get a new machine and move to the latest and greatest technology that was available.

So yesterday Zack and I went out computer shopping. We first went to Costco and did a quick scan of the models that they had available. I liked what I saw but felt I had to also check out Best Buy. I spent about 20 minutes looking around at Best Buy until I decided I had found the model that I wanted. I went with an HP Pavilon Elite with an AMD Phenom II X4 925 processor, 1 TB of hard disk, 8 GB of memory, an ATI Radeon 512MB Video Card and built in wireless 802.11g networking. In general it's a pretty beefy machine. I kind of figured if this machine is going to last as long as the previous machine I might as well go with a machine that is near the top of the line. I did splurge in the fact that I bought a new monitor with it. Instead of just hooking it up to my old 20 inch CRT monitor, I also purchase a 23 inch flat screen High Def monitor. That little accessory was totally and completely unneeded but with the way they "package" the monitor and CPU it was a better deal.

(The new monitor before Zack and I got it hooked up.)

This blog post is being written from the new computer. It is the first thing I am doing from it. There is still a ton of work to do to get it configured the way I want it - so it will take some time to get full productive. But given the state of the old work horse it is good to have the new machine up and running.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.