Thursday, August 30, 2007

Going Out Of Town

Just wanted to drop everyone a short note that I'll be flying to Atlanta this Labor Day holiday.

I've decided to leave my laptop at home, but I will have my camera and smartphone with me. If I have anything interesting to report, I'll send it via the email feature on Blogger, but unfortunately, I can't attach photos as far as I can tell.

Have a good weekend! - AV

(Note: Image borrowed from

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

F is for Ferris Wheel

It's "ABC Wednesday" again and this week's topic starts with the letter "F". These ferris wheel photos were taken a few months ago at two different county fairs. If you didn't know, the ferris wheel was first designed by George Ferris, Jr. for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago to rival the Eiffel Tower specifically created for the 1889 World's Fair in Paris.

Here are links to other "ABC Wednesday" participants.

Flag by kml
F Dogs by jeanmfogle
Friendship by jeanmfogle
Fisher Price Toy by Hinioman
Four Letter F Pictures by Hinioman
Foliage by digital flower pictures
Farewell by Mrs Nesbitt's Place
Fortress by Photoxication
Football by Ali

For more links regarding "ABC Wednesday", go to the BlogCatalog discussion.

Also since August is coming to an end, this is a good time to promote Benspark's September Xshot photo contest. The Xshot is a great tool if you're alone and want to include yourself in your photos or videos.

To enter the contest, you have two options.

1) Email your contest photo AND a photo of yourself holding an Xshot to


2) Leave links of your contest photo AND a photo of yourself holding an Xshot in the Comments area on Benspark's September Xshot photo contest post located at

You may submit as many photos as you want between Sept. 1st through Sept. 30th and they will be posted in a Flickr Gallery for judging based on creativity.

1st Place wins $100.
2nd Place wins $75.
3rd Place wins $50.

Drew at Benspark and Xshotpix representatives will judge the photos and announce the winners on October 5th. Good luck to all the participants!

- AV

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Randy Thorsvig

Ken Leonard
Ken Leonard (On The Right)
From High Point, North Carolina

Every once in a while you run across one of those "feel good stories". Those stories that show us just what a person can do when they really want it bad enough. And Ken Leonard has one of those stories.

In 2005, Ken Leonard left his job as a police officer in High Point, North Carolina to go to Iraq to work with a private security firm. In December of that year, Ken, along with five other men in his vehicle and six others in the vehicle behind him, was hit by a roadside bomb outside of Baghdad. "After the bomb went off, I knew exactly what had happened," Leonard recalled. "My feet got jarred, so I knew they were hit." While others in his vehicle were injured, he had received the worst of it. He had lost both his feet.

The vehicle behind them pushed Leonard's to a safer area. But flames were coming out of the air conditioning vents and they had to get out. Leonard crawled from the car and fell to the pavement. "That’s when I saw my feet," he said. "I could tell they were gone. They were still attached, but they were shredded."

On July 19, 2007, Ken Leonard went back to North Carolina to get his job back with the police force. To do that he needed to pass the Police Officers Physical Abilities Test, which, among other things, consisted of a 200-yard run to be finished in under 7 minutes, 20 seconds. And he did just that with 24 seconds to spare.

"Somebody told me one time they said, 'You know, what you've lost is just bone and muscle. You've still got heart, and you've still got, you know, what's up here,'" Leonard said, pointing to his head.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It's The Cooking Guy

Super Chefs cooking competition

Spokeswoman explaining what the chef will be cooking today

Guy Fieri signing autographs & posing for photos

The local mall by my hotel in San Diego hosted a live Super Chefs cooking competition between various restaurant chefs in the area. Each chef and his/her helper have X number of minutes to create a gourmet dinner meal with as many dishes as possible. After the competition, the audience gets to cheer to determine the winner. No tasting was involved so showmanship was critical.

If any of you watch the Food Network channel on tv, you probably know who Guy Fieri is. He was the celebrity chef on hand who did a one-hour cooking demo which I missed, but I just happen to pass by his booth when he did the photo-op with his assistances.

See the gals with the red visors and the blond mane sticking out of them?

- AV

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Old Town - San Diego

The Cigar Shop

Inside the Cigar Shop

Various types of tea leaves and coffee grinds at the Coffee & Teas shop

Various pottery and garden decorations at the El Centro Artesan shop

One of the many Mexican restaurants in Old Town

Replica of a jail cell outside the local Courthouse & City Hall

Inside the Mason Street School, first public school in the area

One of the few Wells Fargo Bank stage coaches still left

If you're ever in San Diego, Old Town is a great place to visit to step back in time. This historic park consists of 9 square blocks of historical buildings interspersed with museums and shops to re-create life as it was in the 1800's.

My favorite was the Mason Street School. Visitors were asked by the docent to sit at the desks and imagine what it was like to be a student in the 1860's.

If you never been there, I hope you enjoy the photos or learned something new.

Also, congratulations to Digital Flower Pictures for being the first on my list to finish the Middle Name meme! As promised, I have some small souvenirs from San Diego for you. Send me a private email with your address if you want me to send them to you.

- AV

Friday, August 24, 2007

San Diego Zoo

Entrance to the zoo

Camel posing for the camera

Scary and ugly Giant Cave Roaches

Flamingo shaking off water

Mountain Lion looking for prey

Polar Bear playing in the tank

Here's some photos I took at the zoo today. I think I hiked several miles going through most of the exhibits. As usual, it was luck to have the animals cooperating for photographs. Most were sleeping or taking up shade in the distance. Those exhibits where I couldn't find the animal, I wondered if they were hiding or if they escaped. :P

By the way for you camera nuts, this was my first real chance to try out my new Canon EF 28-200mm USM lense. It works much better than my Tamron 18-200mm XR Di II lense which I have since sold.

- AV

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Middle Name" Meme

I got tagged by my blog buddy, Scott, with a "Middle Name" meme today.

The 1st rule is fixed... for each letter of your middle name, list a fact or statement relevant to yourself or your life. So the longer your middle name, the more facts we'll have about you. If you don't have a middle name, pick one.

The 2nd rule is anything you want so here's mine...

The first person in my list below who

1. Writes a Middle Name Meme, AND
2. Notifies me by email, AND
3. Tags 5 other friends in their meme, AND
4. Mentions & links to my AVCR8teur blog in one of their posts in 25 words or more by this Saturday, I will send you a souvenir from San Diego. I am currently in San Diego on vacation.

Traveling and photography are my favorite pastimes.
I believe if there is something you want in life, you should try to go after it.
Fit. I like to go to the gym and workout at least 3 times a week.
Food. I'm a snacker and like to eat often.
Alaska is one of my favorite vacation spots.
Nearsighted. I wear contacts or glasses because I read too much as a kid.
Yes, I am a geek, I love cool gadgets!

I'm tagging the following 5 people to do their own Middle Name meme. If you have already been tagged for this meme, you're off the hook.


- AV

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eiffel Tower for ABC Wednesday

It's Wednesday again and this week is the letter "E". These 2 photos of the Eiffel Tower were taken during my trip to Paris in 2004. It was my first time in Europe and we stayed 10 days in France and lived like the Parisians.

The day shot was taken from the 2nd story of a open-air tour bus as it stopped to pick up more passengers. The night shot was taken while on a boat cruise on the Seine River.

For more ABC Wednesday photos, go to the Calling All Photographers Discussion forum.

- AV

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Kasee

SSgt. John Self
Click Image For Full Size

SSgt. John T. Self
29 years old from Pontotoc, Mississippi
314th Security Forces Squadron
May 14, 2007

A kindhearted patriot. That's how SSgt. John Self was described by those who knew him. "John was a good boy, a good boy who loved his country and who loved Christ and for that he’ll move on to a better place," said Laron Self, Sgt. Self's grandfather, fighting back tears.

SSgt. Self was killed, and three other airmen wounded, when an IED hit the Humvee they were traveling in while on his 79th patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. "John volunteered for this deployment while he was deployed to (Southwest Asia)," said Chief Master Sgt. Keith Morris, 314th SFS security forces manager. "We discussed this deployment via e-mail. He said he made his decision to deploy again to gain experience."

"He could always find the humor in anything regardless of the situation," said Senior Airman Daniel Hunsperger, a member of Self's fire team. "He believed in everything he did. This was obvious to us after learning he had only spent two weeks home between his last deployment and volunteering for this one."

On May 23, SSgt. Self was laid to rest with a crowd of hundreds to pay their respects. People lined both sides of the highway for more than 5 miles waving flags as the hundred-car procession traveled to the burial. Shouts of, "We love you John," and "Thank you, John, could be heard as the train of cars passed by. "That’s a hero," Susan Chambers, one of the many mourners, said to her son as she pointed at Self's casket.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

CA State Fair

I went to the State Fair on opening weekend in Sacramento and took a few photos for you. I haven't been here for over 10 years and was glad to be back although it seemed smaller than I remembered. However, it was hot so I was glad to find some air-condititioned buildings to hide during the afternoon.

I have always been partial to looking at animals at the fairs because as city folks can attest to, we don't get that many chances to see these creatures up close.

Toyota was there to promote their Tundra brand trucks so I was able to ride in one while hubby drove for free around the dirt mounds. We all got a pin light thank-you gift at the end. Trucks have sure changed over the years. The interiors are much more comfortable and roomier compared to the trucks of the past which were only built for hauling.

This photo sums me up pretty much. I think I'll stay a kid all my life.

Tundra truck making its last dirt mound run.

Two apes caught my eyes as I looked up at the aerial tram above me.

This little guy really wanted to get the feel for his food.

This was my favorite photo and I couldn't resist taking it. A row of rabbits were turned around to be judged; however, all the audience could see were their behinds.

- AV

Friday, August 17, 2007

Summery Street Party

I went to another street party last night and saw a cast of characters. Enjoy!

I'll be out of town this weekend so I don't know if I will have time to post, but I will leave you with these picutres from last night.

Have a great weekend,

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Up For A Challenge?

My blog friend, Drew, at Benspark is holding an "Add-It-Up" contest on his blog for the month of August.

You can earn points for making comments on his Photo-A-Day posts, voting for his blogs, or just spreading the word. In turn, the top 3 point earners win some cool prizes.

  • 1st prize is a Flickr or Zooomr Pro account (your choice) & a $25.00 Kodak Gallery Gift Certificate.
  • 2nd prize is a subscription for two years to PCPhoto Magazine.
  • 3rd prize is a $10.00 Kodak Gallery Gift Certificate.

  • Drew has tons of wonderful photos for viewing and commenting so the point earning possibilities are endless. Are you up for the challenge? It's not to late to join in on the fun.

    As if Drew's not busy enough counting all those points, you can vote to send him to California for a role in a Super Bowl ad. Wouldn't you like to see Drew on tv during a Super Bowl game and have his dream come true from Water Boy to a Super Bowl ad stud?! Just think, if he makes it, it was because of your vote! He's already in the Top 10 so assuming you have a FuelMyBlog account, just go to the BenSpark's link and vote. The contest ends on August 23rd.

    And, while you're at it, read about Drew's bio on and rate it with a Thumbs Up!

    - AV

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Deers on ABC Wednesdays

    It's the letter "D" this week and I posted 3 pictures related to this topic. I figure 3 D's are better than 1.

    I dug through my archives from a few years back and found these pictures of deers at the Deer Hollow Farm inside the Rancho San Antonio Park. This park is usually packed with walkers and runners by 6:30 AM on any weekend morning so I was amazed to see these deers casually walking around even with so many people around.

    Here's a link to other participants of ABC Wednesday which was started by MrsNesbitt. Thanks to DigitalFlower and Hinioman for putting the list together.

    Downward Facing Dog
    Dracular's Doorway
    Department Store
    Dump Truck

    - AV

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Wednesday Hero

    This Week's Soldier Was Suggested By Kat

    Sgt. Michael J. Stokely
    Sgt. Michael J. Stokely
    23 years old from Sharpsburg, Georgia
    1st Battalion, 108th Armor Regiment, 48th Brigade Combat Team
    August 16, 2005

    Next Saturday, August 25, the town of Peachtree City, Ga. will be holding it's inaugural Ride To Remember for Sgt. Michael Stokely who lost his life two years ago tomorrow in Baghdad, Iraq when an IED detonated near his position. The patrol he was with had stopped and the NCO in charge had everyone take a rest while he walked back down the road with a Corporal to check out something suspicious. Sgt. Stokely refused to to rest, and instead took up a flanking position at the rear of his truck to watch their backs. Which, as a Cav Scout dismount, he saw as his job. The NCO and Corporal heard cracking noises and made their way to the sound when they were hit by an explosion. The NCO was seriously wounded but the Corporal made it through without a scratch. Sgt. Stokely, however, wasn't so lucky.

    You can read more about Sgt. Michael Stokely here and here.

    These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
    We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

    This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Ate A Bulldog

    The family went to the Duke of Edinburgh Pub & Restaurant tonight and I ordered a Bulldog on the menu. What's a Bulldog? It's English bangers (pork sausage) smothered with grilled onions on a sesame seed bun. This was my first time eating bangers and it wasn't bad except now I have to workout extra hard tomorrow.

    For those of you who were concerned about my dog Maverick, he's almost back to normal now. After the vet gave him a Prednisone shot, he stopped shaking and hyperventilating almost immediately.

    In the picture above, Maverick is back to looking out the window for squirrels "trespassing" along our fence line. The second picture is the steep stairway in our house. We suspect when no one was home he might have fallen down these stairs when he saw something out of the 2nd story window he wanted to chase. Why do we think this? He's been hesitant on going down the stairs unless it is absolutely necessary in his mind.

    - AV

    Saturday, August 11, 2007

    Benihana Dinner

    Made the annual trek to Benihana for hubby's birthday dinner tonight. We used to eat at this restaurant on a fairly regular basis to the point where we got tired of watching the chef's cooking show.

    If you've been to a Benihana, you know what I mean. Drawing a chicken on the grill with raw scrambled eggs, spatula shrimp tails into their own pocket and chef's hat, making a volcano with onion rings and a liquid, pretending to throw a bowl of fried rice at you, ..etc. I am assuming no matter which Benihana Restaurant you go to, the cooking show is all the same.

    For birthday celebrations, the waiters would sing and take a Polaroid of you. Since 2001, hubby and I have pictures of ourselves at the same restaurant celebrating his birthday. I figure we can see ourselves aging progressively. Kind of depressing.

    As for waiters singing at restaurants, some do not look happy as they sing the same birthday song over and over and over again to complete strangers. Can you blame them?

    - AV

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    In the Pursuit of the Rubik's Cube

    I just saw "In the Pursuit of Happyness" on DVD. It was an excellent movie based on a true story about a man's struggles with life, his job, homelessness, money, and son. It was an inspiration on how the main character, Chris Gardner, worked hard and made sacrifices to overcome all these obstacles and become a multi-millionaire.

    What does this have to do with Rubik's Cube? In the movie's timeframe of 1981, the Rubik's Cube was just coming out. Chris impressed his future boss by solving the Rubik's Cube during a shared cab ride.

    I have to admit that I have never been able to solve the darn thing other than a single side and I was pretty proud of myself for doing that year's ago.

    Some people were able to solve them under 20 seconds, otherwise known as SpeedCubing. More amazing, one guy solved it one-handed or even blindfolded! That is just crazy! Can you say Rubik's Cube Wrist Syndrome?!

    If you think the original cube was tough, they now have the Rubik's Revolution out with 6 puzzles in 1 cube.

    - AV

    Wednesday, August 08, 2007

    Clydesdales for ABC Wednesdays

    I saw these beautiful Clydesdale horses at a county fair recently. They were towing the Budweiser wagon which some might remember from a tv commercial from years past.

    Why Clydesdales? Well, I just saw MrsNesbitt's discussion about displaying pictures every Wednesday based on a theme following the alphabet and this week they're on the letter 'C'.

    - AV

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Wednesday Hero

    This Week's Soldier Was Suggested By Gary

    Col. James W. Harrison Jr.
    Col. James W. Harrison Jr.
    47 years old from Missouri
    U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan
    May 6, 2007

    Duty, Honor, Country. Col. James Harrison Jr. embodied that ethos, said his family. He was committed to the mission of the United States in Afghanistan and spoke with great pride about the accomplishments of the men and women with which he served

    Col. Harrison was killed on May 6 when a Taliban fighter, dressed as an Afghan police officer, shot him at point blank range at Pul-e-Charkhi prison near Kabul. Also killed along side Col. Harrison was Master Sgt. Wilberto Sabalu Jr. and two other soldiers were wounded. All four men were working as mentors to Afghan troops providing external security for the prison.

    Harrison graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1981. He also graduated from the Military Police Basic and Advanced courses, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Command and General Staff College, the Army Inspector General Course, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Syracuse University and a Master of Science degree in national security and strategic studies from the National Defense University. Before going to Afghanistan in December 2006, he was assigned to Fort Leavenworth as director of the School for Command Preparation at the Command and General Staff College.

    He is survived by his wife and three sons.

    To read a letter from the Afghan general in charge of the detention facility, visit Amy Proctor's site.

    These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
    We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

    This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    Sick Dog

    My 8 year-old rat terrier, Maverick, has been feeling lethargic, has difficulty jumping, and pretty much not acting himself the last few days. I couldn't tell if he was suffering from mental or physical discomforts. I say mental discomfort because he is afraid of lots of things and would occasionally act strangely for days; however, in this instance, it was longer than "normal".

    I took him to the vet and $362 later, they couldn't find anything from the x-ray, but discovered the enzyme levels in his liver is very high. He is on antibiotics and pain medication plus a special wet food diet. After a week, the vet will check on his progress.

    - AV