Monday, October 31, 2005

Blog Addict On Line Store Now Open

On Line Store Now Open for Blog Addicts

I know lots of us are addicted to blogging! With that in mind I have opened a blog addict store where you can get your very own blog wear. We have t-shirts, sweat shirts, mouse pads, tote bags, ball caps and much more.

We can custom design to fit your needs. All custom designs are created by Just Pure Mood. Great gift ideas. More coming soon. Check it out today!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween is Here

Halloween is Here

Here is our niece, Ashley picking out pumkins! Halloween is here, and before you know it Thanksgiving followed closly by Christmas. Time sure flies...seems like it was only yesterday when we were all worried about Y2K bug, now it's almost 2006!

Ashley's big brother, Austin is dressed like Spiderman and ready for trick or treat. Tonight they will be going to church for a trunk or treat. That is where people decorate the trunks of their cars and the kids can have a safe environment for trick or treat.

Here I am with my wife, are never too old to get dressed up and get into the spirit of the holiday!

Hope everyone has a happy and a safe Halloween.

I Am Still a Bush Fan

I Am Still a Bush Fan

I haven't blogged about politics lately, so here goes. Let's get the comments flowing. President Bush has fallen way down in the approval ratings but I am still a Bush fan.

The U.S. death toll in Iraq just passed the 2000 mark and in a recent radio address Mr. Bush said, "The best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and win the war on terror. We will train Iraqi security forces and help a newly elected government meet the needs of the Iraqi people. In doing so, we will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren."
To read a transcript of the President's radio address click on link:

It's been a week of bad news for The President. The conservatives have been pushing to withdraw Harriet Miers' Supreme Court nomination and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted and resigned.

The good news is The Iraqi election commission certified the passage of the new Iraqi constitution. This is a significant milestone for the people of Iraq.

When you are at war, people are going to die. It's a shame, but a necessary part of the fight for freedom. I agree with Mr. Bush, the best way to honor our dead is to complete our mission in Iraq.

Feel free to leave your comments.

Photo Credit: President George W. Bush
(White House photo by Eric Draper)

Halloween Sure Has Changed

Halloween Sure Has Changed

Halloween is almost upon us and it got me to thinking. Things sure have changed since when I was a kid (many moons ago). We would spend all night trick or treating and had to return home a couple of times to dump our bags out because we had so much candy! Actually we used pillow cases to collect the candy in not bags.

You wouldn't just go to a door get a candy from a stranger and leave. We would go inside the house and the people would try to guess who you were. Back in those days we knew everyone in the neighborhood. Many houses we went to we were invited to sit down and have a cup of hot cocoa.

There were no store bought costumes either...everything was homemade. I remember we would burn a cork to rub the black soot on our face. Times were different then, people trusted one another. The kids could actually go out and trick or treat with their friends without mom and dad and your parents wouldn't even worry about your safety.

The week before Halloween was called mischief week and we would do crazy things like soaping up car windows, or ringing doorbells and running away before someone answered. Harmless fun in those days. Unheard of could get shot if you tried something like that now!

Those were the it seems that people are afraid to go out and trick or treat. There are safe alternatives like trunk or treat at the church, or events at the local mall. It's a shame that we have made our world such a dangerous place that kids can't be left alone for a few minutes, even in your own front yard!

Yes, these times they are a changing!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Happy Birthday To My Little Sister

Happy Birthday To My Little Sister

Saturday, October 29th is my little sister's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARB! I wish we lived closer together so we could be togther on your special day. We miss you.

When we were young children (many, many years ago) Barb and I were so close. She would look up to me, her big brother, and do anything I told her to do. I believe I was responsible for a couple of her broken bones! Once I talked her into walking across the top of a swing set, and she fell off and broke an arm! I 'm sure there were other times also, but I can't remember the details. Even though Barb is in Connecticut and I am in North Carolina, we are still very close and keep in constant touch with one another.

Barb is a special person; a single mom who has done a wonderful job of raising her son Richard. He has turned out to be a fine young man and is engaged to be married. Barb loves life and has many good friends who love her dearly. She is a real family oriented person and is always ready to plan a party or vacation.

She loves animals and has a dog and three cats. Currently she is working full time and going to school in the evenings so she can learn the dog grooming business. When she graduates she plans to open up a dog grooming business of her own!

Rent My Blog

Rent My Blog

What a GREAT feature this is on BlogExplosion! Bloggers can rent space on their blog or buy space on other people's blogs. We exchange credits, not cash and it's a wonderful way to get exposure to your blog. Space is rented for a week at a time for anywhere from 10-500 credits. (Some of the blogs seem to be way overpriced, but we are still working out the wrinkles in this new program.) Hopefully the person you rent from will also give you a little blurb on their blog.

This week my blog is rented to Jeremy C. Shipp, Haunted House Dressing . I was going to put in a plug here for Jeremy's blog but I am at a loss for words! His description of the blog starts out like this: Hello, welcome to Haunted House Dressing. This is a place where toasters run free and hippos climb trees. OK, how do I describe a blog like that? I think it would be best if you just checked it out for yourself.

Jeremy is a writer and there are many samples of his work there for you to read. I know you will enjoy it, so what are you waiting for...visit
Haunted House Dressing NOW!

WAIT...don't leave yet. Before you go please leave a comment and tell me what you think about the rent my blog feature.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Battle of the Blogs

Battle of the Blogs

I joined Blog Explosion on Sept. 2, 2005 with a generic wysiwyg template. My blog was rated #1495 when I started battling. I soon discovered that the design of the blog was more important than the content in the battles. I tried redesigning my blog on my own and totally messed it up!

After spending some time in the shoutbox and doing some research I found a great template I liked at Blogfrocks but had trouble installing it and making the comments work properly. So I enlisted the help of my new friend Just Puremood to help me out. She was awesome and got everything working for me! Now I was ready to do battle again with my hot new design!

I was right; I began winning more and more battles and advanced from #1495 all the way up to #74 over the next month. Of course I like to think that I have interesting content on my blog, but I know the design is a big part of winning the battles.

Looking at my stats I found that 71% of the people who visit my blog coming from BOTB page only stay on my blog for 5-20 seconds. I guess they are all SPEED READERS! Ya think? It really doesn't matter...I am addicted to the battles! My goal is to make it to the lifetime top fifty fighters.

I noticed the battles seem to go a lot faster now that the rules have changed. Do you think people are clicking on view the blog and then voting as quick as they can just to pick up more credits?

Hey, here's a thought. How about if we all spend a little more than 20 or 30 seconds on the blogs we are voting for and actually read the content. There are really many good writers out there with great articles! You may discover something you like. It would be nice to leave comments also. By the way - that's a great way to pick up more visitors to your own blog.

Speaking of comments, leave a comment and let me know how you feel about Battle of the Blogs.

Janet Jackson's Daughter-Urban Legend or Fact?

Janet Jackson's Daughter-Urban Legend or Fact?

What do you think? Does Janet have a mystery daughter or is this just another urban legend? In 1984 Janet was married to James DeBarge for a short time but the marriage was annulled.

Rumors have been going around for a long time and have recently been fueled when DeBarge's brother told a New York radio show that there is an 18 year old daughter from that marriage.

Debarge's brother said the daughter's name is Renee and she lives with Janet's older sister. Jackson's peeps deny these rumors. What do you think? Please leave a comment

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sunrise at Sea

Sunrise at Sea

Many years ago when I was in the Navy, on board an aircraft carrier, my favorite thing to do was stand on the signal bridge and feel the wind whip against my face as I smelled the fresh sea air. I used to enjoy looking out at the horizon and seeing nothing but ocean and sky. At night there were thousands of stars in the sky and it would make me feel so small and insignificant as I gazed upon them. Then morning would come and the sun would rise up magnificently out of the ocean! It was impossible to not think about God and how He created all of this beauty!

There was plenty of time for thinking as we had to stand watch for twelve-hour shifts. Often I would read my bible during this time and contemplate many things. Sunrise and mornings were always very special times as I watched and the world awakened; I was reminded of Isaiah 50:4...He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught...
I did listen and my eyes and ears were opened as I read my bible in the early morning hours. My faith helped to keep me strong as death and destruction was all around me.

You see this was 1968 and I was watching the sun rise over the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam as the planes from our aircraft carrier dropped 500 and 1000 pound bombs on the landscape and peppered the jungle with Napalm.
There were many distractions during those days of war and temptations to stray from the path of righteousness were everywhere. My shipmates would laugh and make fun when they saw me reading the bible. I do not pretend to be an angel and I did stray occasionally as I am only human. However, I continued to read my bible and took comfort in knowing that the Lord gave me strength....Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame...Isaiah 50:7 I learned many things about life during my three tours of duty in Vietnam. I saw people at their best and others at their worst!

I visited many countries in my travels and saw how people lived in different cultures around the world. What I took away from all of this was an education far greater than I received in all my years of schooling, a better understanding of life and people. Most of all I realized that even during our lowest times in life God is always there for us and you can count on him to pull you through!

Prayer: Lord help us to seek your wisdom especially during our low points in life. We take comfort in knowing that you are always there to lift us up and help us through our troubled times. As the sun rises each morning and the world awakens please open our ears and our eyes so we may hear your word and see the Christ in others. Awaken us; let our tongues speak your word and share it with those we meet in our daily lives. Amen

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What Happened to Fall?

What Happened to Fall?

Mike and Chris MarinaroToday is October 23rd and the the temperature here is in the high 60s. Yesterday it was in the 70s and last week 80s. It sure doesn't feel like Fall around here. Our leaves haven't even started to change colors yet! We have been experiencing some very unusual weather here in North Carolina. Mind you now, I am not complaining nor am I looking forward to Winter. I could live with this weather we are having now all year round with no problem!

We took advantage of the lovely weather yesterday by taking a trip to Vollmer Farm like we do just about every year in the fall. It is a fun-filled day for the family. Starting with a hay ride to the back forty where there is a corn maze, a forty-foot underground slide, playground, animals, puppet show, and lots of other activities for young and old alike.

After a day of activities on the farm there is a hay ride back to the shop at the front where you can indulge in homemade icecream and pie, etc. There are also great deals on freshly picked pumpkins and gourds etc. for seasonal decorations.

If you are in the Raleigh, NC area make sure you take a trip to Vollmer Farm located in Bunn, NC.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

50,000 Words in 30 Days

50,000 Words in 30 Days

I was chatting in the Shout Box on Blog Explosion the other day and I just found out about National Novel Writing Month. If you have ever thought about writing a novel but keep procrastinating, here's your big chance to finally get it done!

Starting November 1st, all you have to do is write 50,000 words in 30 days. In 1999 there were 21 participants and 6 winners. Last year there were 42,000 participants and almost 6000 winners.

I have no idea if I will have the time to do this in November, but I will give it my best shot. I guess I had better start thinking of a story line! If any of you reading this would like to join in the madness just follow this link to register for FREE.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Joan would have been a GREAT blogger

Joan Would Have Been A GREAT Blogger

I wish I would have discovered blogging sooner. If only I had know about blogging a few years ago! I would have introduced the blog world to my sister Joan. She would have loved it and instantly became addicted to blogging!

Too late now...Joan died a few years ago at the very young age of 50! She was a teacher; no more than a teacher she was a Special Education Teacher! What patience she had to teach those special children.

Joan used to send all of her friends and family a daily email with details of her trials and tribulations with her students. It would have made perfect blog content. I must confess sometimes I didn't read her emails and just deleted them. Now I am sorry that I did that and I wished I would have saved them all!

Joan was a very special person, she was a bit of a nomad and traveled around from state to state never staying too long in any one place. Joan spent five-years on a Navajo Reservation in Arizona teaching the children there. She loved to write and could have written several books about her travels and teaching experiences. Joan left us way too soon...oh, but she would have loved to blog!

Please visit my web site, and read a tribute to Joan Ellen Marinaro. She would have been a GREAT blogger.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Life Assurance

Life Assurance

It's time for a spiritual post. I hope that many of my readers are religious and will enjoy this post. As always, your comments are welcome.

I used to sell life insurance and I did very well because I really believed in what I was doing. I thought everyone needs life insurance because it provides for those who are left behind. True as that may be, I have since discovered something much better to believe in…life assurance! You can't buy it from Prudential or Met Life but just like their life insurance policies, life assurance will provide for those who are left behind! Only God can give us life assurance and it's a wonderful feeling to know that we have something to look forward to after death!

In the last few years we have seen three people that were very close to us pass away. At first we were devastated by these losses, but after reflecting upon their lives and deaths and reading the bible; we came to understand that they are indeed in a much better place now.

Ezekiel 37: 1-14 tells us the story of the prophet Ezekiel who is shown a great miracle as God is able to give live to the dead bones and bodies that are scattered all about and raise them up again!

Three-years ago my mom lost her battle with cancer and Chris and I were overwhelmed with grief. We had always known her as a healthy, energetic person and to see mom in her last days after going through chemotherapy and fighting for breath with every step she took was heartbreaking, we hardly recognized her.

Then my sister Joan died suddenly two-years ago from heart failure. Just two weeks before her death she had visited us and seemed very happy and healthy! Joan was only fifty-years old. It didn't seem fair that she should be taken away so young.

Subsequently just three months after Joan had died our family suffered another loss. Chris' brother, Billy passed away after a life long struggle with diabetes. He too was very young, only fifty four-years old!

Three different people, three different diseases, yet they all have something in common. They all have been gloriously resurrected and no longer have to struggle with their various ailments.

In Ezekiel 37:13 God tells us, "And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people." This assures us that we will know life after death!

One thing is for certain, we are only here on this earth for a short time and eventually we will die. However, it should not be a time of sadness and grieving for the friends and family left behind. Rather it should be a time of peace and comfort, knowing that our loved ones have left all their troubles behind and have been resurrected. Sure we are saddened because we will miss them but it is reassuring to know that they are now in the presence of God in all His glory!

We read in Ezekiel 37:14. "And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done it, says the LORD" . What more assurance could we possibly need?


Heavenly Father, we ask that you be with the friends and families of those who have lost loved ones. Touch their hearts so that they will know peace and help them to understand that there is life after death. Let us all embrace the fact that God gives us life assurance and He tells us that after our time on earth here is done we will be with our Father in heaven enjoying eternal peace!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rent My Blog

Rent My Blog

Blog Explosion has a new feature called Rent My Blog which is really pretty exciting. I was one of the first to try it out when they were beta testing and I immediately fell in love with this feature.

The idea is to rent space on one another's blog to increase traffic. You pay with credits not cash. You pay anywhere form 10-500 credits for a week of ad space. There are trackable results and I definitely have seen an increase in traffic to my blog. What a GREAT idea this is.

As I write this my current tenant is One Man Bandwith. Lonnie B. Hodge is an American Professor in China and his blog is well worth reading. Be sure to check it out!

Previous tenants have been:

Scooter McGavins 9th Green
Scooter is in Ohio, USA and blogs about Politics, Music, Sports and many other things.

Devil's Advocate
Jinxy says her location is Lost! She is feisty and it shows in her writing, take the time to read her blog.

Wendy Wings Whimsies
A mother of four and wife of one. Living and pretending to work in New Zealand. Wendy's blog is always interesting reading.

Just Pure Mood
Jamie is in Tennessee, USA. Her blog is family oriented and great reading. She is also very talented and helped me with the redesign of my blog.

If you are not a member of Blog Explosion, you should be. Join up and join in the fun! Join Blog Explosion

The Suitcase Under the Stairs

The Suitcase Under the Stairs

Here's a little bit of nostalgia that would do well to be brought back. When my two sisters and I were very young (a very long time ago) there was a big old suitcase that my father kept in a closet under the stairs.

The purpose of this suitcase was to teach us kids how to pick up after ourselves and keep our rooms clean. Let me tell you - it worked like a charm!

We were normal children who loved to play but hated to pick up all our toys when we were finished. There were places to go, other kids to play with, important things to do! Well my dad came up with the perfect solution.

Instead of screaming and yelling at us to pick up our toys, he would ask us nicely if we had cleaned our rooms. Then he would check it out for himself, and if there were still toys out of place he would gather them up and put them in this big old suitcase that he kept in the closet under the stairs in the den.

Eventually (after what seemed an eternity) we would get our toys back. It could be a week later it could be several months, depending on how well behaved we were and how clean we kept our rooms.

If any of you parents are having problems with your children picking up their rooms, try the suitcase under the stairs trick. It really works. When your favorite toys are taken away from you for a while you learn a valuable lesson.

An Angel & A Winding Road

Working the closing shift is not bad except for the long drive home at 3:00 A.M. after a hard day's work. Half of the trip is interstate driving which is not too bad; however, the final leg of the journey is along a dark and winding back country road. The entire drive home usually takes one-hour with very little or no traffic.

Normally, I would be so wound up from work that I didn't get sleepy on the way home but this particular night I was extremely tired because we were short handed at work and I was really exhausted. After about forty-minutes my eyes started to get very heavy and my mind would start to wander. Before I realized it, I found myself drifting off to sleep as I was driving.

I rolled down the windows to let in some cold night air in hopes that it would keep me awake. I was more than half-way home so I figured I could make it. To make matters worse it began to rain and visibility decreased as the monotonous swish of the windshield wipers lulled me further into a sleepy state.

I turned the radio up full blast and tried to get into the music to keep me awake. But now my eyes were straining because of the heavy rain. Every once in a while my head would drop and I would jolt upright realizing that I had once again closed my eyes! There was no place to pull over on this back road and rest for a little bit so I pushed myself and kept on driving.

The radio was starting to annoy me so I turned it off and hoped that the occasional splatter of wet, cold rain coming in the window and hitting my face would keep me awake. Almost home now, only about fifteen-minutes to go!

Suddenly, I was startled by a voice in the passenger seat as I felt a heavy tap on my shoulder. "Wake up Mike", the voice said. I could not figure out who was in the car with me and I glanced over to see who was there but saw nobody. Just then, I realized that something was very wrong and I could feel the car leave the pavement and head into the woods! Instinctively, I slammed on the brakes and looked up just in time to jerk the steering wheel with all of my strength to avoid a big tree that was directly in front of me!

My car came to a stop just a few feet from the tree and I could feel my heart racing as I turned the engine off and tried to catch my breath. I sat there for quite a while just reflecting on what had happened and I knew that an angel had tapped me on the shoulder and called my name to awaken me just in the nick of time. If I had stayed asleep even a split second longer my car would have hit that big tree head on and I'm sure that I would have been killed!

I have gone over this incident many times in my head since that fateful night and I am certain that I did not imagine a voice calling my name and I know without a doubt that someone did tap me on the shoulder!

Yes, I believe in angels; how about you?

This is a true story that happened to me about thirty-years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I have many more angel stories and will post some of them soon.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Million Dollar Trash

Million Dollar Trash

Here's an interesting controversy that is going on right now. An 83-year-old man found a million dollar winning lottery ticket in a trash can. This is not the first time he has dug a winner out of the trash either! Edward St John told reporters he also found a $1,000 winning ticket in the trash earlier this year.

The problem is now that the ticket has been found, Attorny Dan Doyle says that the ticket actually belongs to his client who misplaced it. Mr. Doyle refused to identify his client.

Finder Keeper, loser weeper? According to the lottery commission's website, if the ticket is not signed then it can be claimed by anyone who presents it.

This will be an interesting case to follow. What do you think, who should get the money? Maybe a 50/50 split? I don't think so, I think the person who found it should be entitled to 100% of the money. Maybe if he has a big heart he will give something to the other guy, but that should be up to him not the courts. Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Grandma's 100th Birthday

Grandma's 100th Birthday

Have you ever regretted doing something, or better yet...not doing something? The one thing that I will admit to screwing up in my life is missing my Grandma's 100th birthday party. Don't get me wrong now, that is definitely not the only thing I have done wrong in my 56 years here on earth. I have made plenty of mistakes, but in retrospect the only thing that really bothers me is that one party that I missed!

I can come up with several good excuses for not going to the party. You see...the party was in Connecticut, and I live in North Carolina. It's not that I didn't want to make a twelve hour drive up there, stay for one day, turn around and drive another twelve hours back again. That wasn't the issue at all. It wasn't the fact that if I was to make this drive, I would have to put new tires on the car and get a tune-up, that was no big deal. It didn't matter that I had just started a new job and did not have any vacation time available yet. I could just call in sick, no problem there.

I thought about flying up to Connecticut, but that idea was quickly ruled out. Way too expensive. That would never fit into our budget. Even if I went by myself and left my wife at home it still was too much money. Talking about money, what about a birthday present? What in the world do you buy for someone who has been around for 100 years? There just couldn't possibly be anything that she needed.

The more I think about it the more I realize that I cheated Grandma out of the one thing that she needed most...LOVE. That's all that she really wanted, to be loved by her family. She had outlived her husband, all of her brothers and sisters and most of her children. Grandma came from the 'old country', born and raised in Calabria, Italy. Family was very important to her. I remember growing up and going to Grandma's house every weekend. There would be dozens of children there, all of them cousins. We would have a great time playing and there was always plenty of good food to eat.

Today, I couldn't even tell you how many cousins I have. Everyone has moved somewhere else and lost track of each other. We all become so involved with our own little worlds and hustle and bustle of everyday life that we forget about our not so immediate family.

I don't have any other grandparents that are living, so I don't have to worry about screwing up like that again. I have learned a very valuable lesson from this. Every day we are here on this earth is a very special day. We only get to go around once, if we pass up the chance to say I love you, or thanks so much...that chance is gone forever. Don't blow it like I did with Grandma. I never really did get to know her as a person. I remember her from my childhood, but there are decades missing, where I had no contact at all with her. I'm sure there were many wonderful stories that Grandma would have shared with me, if only I had taken the time to listen.

The opportunity has come and gone...I will never have another chance to sing happy birthday to my Grandma on her very special 100th birthday celebration. I missed the chance to tell her that I loved her and really enjoyed all those good times we had at her house growing up. I take comfort in knowing that she is once again with her family in Heaven, and one day I too will be there with her. When that day arrives, I will be so happy to see her again that I will run up to her and give her a big hug and a kiss. The first thing I will say is "Grandma, I love you...I am so sorry for missing your special birthday party that day... please forgive me."

This has been bothering me for several years now, and I'm glad that I am finally able to share this with others. It is with a heavy heart and teary eyes that I am writing these words, and I hope and pray that you don't ever have to make an apology like that to anyone.

A little bit about this blog

A little bit about this blog

You may ask why is there a picture of a beautiful beach in the header of your blog? The answer to that is simple. I love the beach! I live just outside of Raleigh, NC and it is a 3-hour ride to the beach which isn't too bad so we visit often. See my post
"Age is a matter of Mind" for a funny story about my last visit to the beach.

Almost every day at work I wear a Hawaiian shirt while everyone else is dressed in a shirt and tie. My body may be at work but my mind is at the beach! (Aaaargggh! Here I am last year at work dressed as a pirate for Halloween.)

The cool rimZ in my sidebar was designed by CapnPlaty using my beach theme. GREAT job CapnPlaty! The template itself was designed by
Blog Frocks . When I first started blogging I just had a generic template. I had good content on my blog and updated daily but I couldn't win any battle of the blogs! Since my redesign I have been doing much better in the battles.

The content of this blog really has no specific format; whatever is on my mind at the moment is what I write about. Sometimes it's politics or current events; often I write about movies or TV shows; many posts are about childhood memories but more often than not I just ramble or rant.

Thanks for stopping by, and please leave a comment.

Friday, October 14, 2005

House Wife Mafia

House Wife Mafia

I'm not really sure how it all got started, but the House Wife Mafia has become a force to reckon with on Blog Explosion. I have read all of their blogs and enjoyed them. Their blog designs are unique and tastefully done. Their membership numbers are growing daily.

Today I gave in, and joined the HWM. I am not a housewife, in fact I am a 56-year old male. I am PROUD to display the HWM logo on my blog. Thanks for taking me in girls!

Speilberg Making Video Games

Speilberg Making Video Games

Here's one for all you gamers out there. Steven Speilberg has signed an exclusive deal with Electronic Arts to develop three original video games. EA is the maker of my favorite game, "Sim City", I can only imagine what kind of awesome games to expect from this collaboration between Speilberg and EA!

Speilberg will have an office at EA's studio and work side-by-side with game developers to create original games (not games based on movies). It will be a few years before these games are available but it is something to look forward to!

Photo by Kevork Djansezian, AP file

Click here to read entire story in USA Today

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How to look busy at work

How to Look Busy at Work

OK, admit it...many of you who are reading this right now are at work! It is amazing how many people are surfing the web, blogging, playing games or sending emails when they are supposed to be working.

Here are a few tips to those of you who fall into this catagory.

  1. Have a job-related window ready : If you are doing something on the computer that you shouldn't be doing always make sure you have another window open that you can quickly switch to in case someone comes in and intrudes on your privacy. A good idea is to have the company website open.
  2. Never, ever empty your in-basket: A clean desk and an empty in-basket is a sure sign that you need more work to do. Always keep something in your in-basket or a stack of papers on your desk so it looks like you have a lot to do.
  3. Always carry a piece of paper with you: Make sure you always have a piece of paper with you at all times. Even if you are just getting up to go to the bathroom, carry something with you so it appears that you are on an important mission.
  4. If you should happen to get caught playing a game on your computer don't try to lie about it. Justify it by saying you were taking a quick break to relax and refresh your mind so you could be more efficient.
  5. Walk at a quick pace, this makes it look like you are in a hurry and very busy.
  6. Make sure you arrange your office so your back is not to the door, you really don't want people sneaking up behind you.

These are just a few tips...I'm sure you have some great ideas that you could share. Please leave your tips in the comment section, and remember: DON'T WORK TOO HARD!

Winky Dink

Winky Dink

It's midnight and that marks the end of my 56th birthday. I was reminiscing and for some reason started thinking about my favorite childhood TV shows. At the top of the list was Winky Dink. Very few people remember this show from the 1950's, but it was a classic. Actually, it was the first ever, interactive TV show...the predicessor to Atari, Nintendo and Game Boy!

The deal was, for a mere 50 cents you could mail order a special kit which included a green piece of clear plastic that you placed over the television screen. Then you could draw on it with crayons and help Winky Dink get out of all kinds of predicaments! If he needed a ladder or a bridge to escape, all you had to do was draw it on the screen. If you didn't want to wait for your kit to arrive via the mail and you could talk your parents into spending $3.00 the kits were also available in stores. There were also secret code words at the bottom of the TV screen and during the show you would trace over the letters and figure out the secret word. (I can't remember what happened if you got the clue someone please help me out with this.)

This was a GREAT show and one of my all time favorites. Winky Dink was broadcast in black and white in the 50's and it ran about 4-years. It was revived again in the late 60's for a short time but was taken off the air when consumer groups complained about children sitting too close to the TV and damaging their eyes!

Winky Dink was way ahead of it's time. I hope some of you will remember this show and leave your comments.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Under the Grape Arbor

Under the Grape Arbor

I remember going to my Grandma's house just about every weekend when I was growing up. She had a wonderful grape arbor in her backyard where the family would gather and enjoy the shade, some good Italian food and great fellowship. All my Aunts and Uncles would be there and I never lacked for a playmate with the multitude of cousins that would be running around! We played great games like hide and go seek, statue, Mother may I, red light, ring-a-leave-eo and many more that kids today probably never even heard of!
(I couldn't find an actual picture of Grandma's grape arbor but this is pretty close to what it looked like.)

Life was simpler then, families were much closer together and it seems like there was less stress. The grape arbor had a couple of old wooden picnic tables under it and we shared many meals and lots of stories there on a hot summer day. It was cool and peaceful sitting in the shade and enjoying the company of family under the canopy of thick grape leaves.

The grape arbor was about twenty-feet long and ten-feet wide. It was nestled right beside a row of thick hedges that separated us from the neighbor's yard. The hedges were at least twelve-feet high and they provided plenty of additional shade. No matter how hot it would get it was always nice and cool under the grape arbor and there constantly seemed to be a refreshing breeze blowing through.

Of course it was fun to reach up and pick a handful of grapes and enjoy their wonderful taste. I don't know what kind of grapes they were, but they certainly were delicious. Another favorite pastime under the grape arbor was to have grape fights. We would squeeze a grape and the skin would stay in your hand while the inside shot out like a missile and would hit your target with a splat!

Grandma was a very interesting person; she had come to the United States from Italy as a young child. She could not read or write but could speak fluent English as well as Italian. For someone who could not read, she sure could play a mean game of cards or bingo. She would manage ten or twenty bingo cards at a time and was sharp as a tack! Grandma was your typical Italian matriarch, she loved to cook (of course she never used a recipe). I would often watch her in the kitchen and when I asked her how to make something her reply was always, "I put a little pinch of this, a dash of that and a whole lot of love!"

As far back as I can remember Grandma always had beautiful white hair. Most of the time she would wear a black dress with white polka-dots and an apron tied around her waist. She had thick glasses and would always have a smile upon her face. I loved to visit Grandma because she would always be cooking and her house smelled so good! She was constantly telling me I was too skinny and needed to eat. If she could only see me now!

If Grandma wasn't in the kitchen cooking she could be found in the living room sitting in her rocking chair with crochet needles in her hand. She made wonderful sweaters and mittens for everyone. Her favorite television shows were Lawrence Welk and Ed Sullivan. She lived to be 101 years of age, and in all the years that I knew Grandma I honestly can say I never remember seeing her angry about anything!

Families seemed to be much closer together back then. When I was just a little boy I could hop the fence in our back yard and I would be in Grandma's yard and one of my Aunts and Uncles lived right downstairs from Grandma. Across the street from our house lived another Aunt and Uncle. In fact nearly all of my relatives were within easy walking distance from our house! The close proximity of everyone made it convenient to gather under the grape arbor every weekend. It sure was fun growing up with so many cousins to play with! Now I could not even begin to tell you how many cousins I have. Everyone has moved away and have their own big families to keep them busy. We seldom see each other any more and I haven’t even met many of my cousins' children. Anytime we do manage to get together you can be sure that there is always much reminiscing about Grandma's house and enjoying the cool shade of that wonderful grape arbor!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Today's Kids are Missing It

Today's Kids are Missing It

I saw my eight year old nephew yesterday and tried to carry on a conversation with him. He replied, yup, nope, okay and various other one word answers to all of my questions. A few minutes later I observed him talking with my other thirteen year old nephew and they were having a very intense, animated conversation! I listened to them go on and on about several different video games they had been playing and the variety of stratagies they used to get to higher levels in the game.

It's a shame that most kids today are so involved in video games and the Internet that they are missing the beauty of the great outdoors! Now don't get me wrong, I love to play video games myself and I am all about the Internet, but you have to make time to get outside once in a while!

I remember when I was growing up my mom would always say, "It's a beautiful day, go outside and play." I had no choice in the matter, I was forced to enjoy the great outdoors. Thanks mom, I loved it!

Kids today are missing it. Do your kids a favor and unplug the TV or computer and take a walk to the lake or ride a bike with them around the neighborhood. Play catch with them, toss a frisbee around or something. Just get out of the house and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors!

More to come on this subject in future posts...your comments are welcome.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Commuting in Rush Hour Traffic

Commuting in Rush Hour Traffic

I spend about ten hours every week driving in bumper to bumper commuter traffic. It takes an hour to make what should be a twenty minute trip! The drive is very nerve wracking and frustrating. It would be much easier if people would only be a little courteous while they were on the road. Most people get behind the wheel and immediately switch into maniac mode! To make matters worse many drivers do not pay attention.

Every day I see women staring in the mirror putting on make up while trying to navigate through traffic, or men shaving or reading the newspaper while driving. The biggest distraction is everyone talking on the cell phone in the car. (I must admit that I am guilty of being on the phone while driving.) Whatever did we do before cell phones? A few years ago nobody even had cell phones, now we are lost without them. If you leave the house without your cell chances are you will turn around and go home to get it!

All I ask is that everyone be a little nicer while and wave to your fellow drivers instead of flipping them off! A little courtesy would go a long way!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Aspartame Kills

Aspartame Kills

I am an Insulin Dependent Diabetic and have been for the last 20-years. Recently I have had several major eye surgeries in both eyes due to what the doctors said was Diabetic Retinopathy. I was nearly blind 4-years ago, now I can at least see out of one eye and the other eye is blurry and distorted but better than it was. I have lost my peripheral vision in both eyes forever. I have artificial lenses implanted in both eyes; there is nothing else the doctors can do for my eyes! I accepted this as complications from Diabetes.

Recently; however, I have found out that there is an ingredient in Diet Coke called Aspartame. After doing research on this ingredient I have discovered that many of my problems relate to this. I am beginning to wonder if it was the Aspartame that caused my eye problems and not the Diabetes. Why are the doctors not aware of Aspartame poisoning? Why do the doctors recommend drinking Diet Coke when it is hazardous to your health?

Since weaning myself off Diet Coke over the last few months, I feel much better. I now sleep through the night instead of having insomnia. I do not have muscle cramps in my legs and feet anymore. The ache I constantly had in my shoulder area has gone away. I have much more energy now.
Aspartame Kills

I switched to Diet Coke 20-years ago because I found out I had Diabetes and the sugar in regular Coke was bad for me. Surprise, surprise, Diet Coke turned out to be much worse! By the way, Aspartame is also an ingredient in Sugar-Free Certs. Over the last two decades, I have consumed countless gallons of Diet Coke and mountains of Sugar-Free Certs both recommended to me by doctors and dieticians! I have been poisoning myself all of this time. Unfortunately, it is too late for my eyesight; I only hope that by giving up Aspartame I can still save the rest of my body.

Do yourself a favor, read the labels and stay away from Aspartame! Here is a support group where you can find more information on Aspartame. Aspartame Group at Yahoo.

Cell Phones

Cell Phones

What did we ever do before the invention of cell phones? I never thought I needed a cell phone but since I finally have one of my own I must admit I am lost without it! If I leave home and forget my cell phone, I will have to turn around and go back to get it!
I do have a few pet peeves about cell phones though so here are the Top Ten:

  • People talking on cell phones in a restaurant.

  • Hearing someone’s cell phone ring in the movie theater, or worse yet someone answering their cell phone during a movie!

  • Talking on the cell phone while driving and not paying attention to the road.

  • Cell phones ringing during meetings.

  • Cell phones ringing at church.

  • Talking on a regular phone and a cell phone at the same time.

  • Stupid rings that people download for their cell phones.

  • Why do I need a phone at home if my wife and I both have cell phones?

  • Where do all my unused minutes go to?

  • How the heck do I get my messages off of my cell phone anyway?

  • However, after all is said and done, cell phones are a great invention, especially for traveling and for emergencies. I never leave home without my cell phone.

    Why do they do that?

    Why do they do that?

    I often see things that make me ask the question, "Why do they do that?" Here's a good example.

    I noticed a sign on the men's room door which included Braille. OK, I can understand the usefulness of Braille signs; but sometimes I have to wonder.

    Picture this, a blind guy feels his way to the men's room door, and his fingers tell him that he's in the right place by reading the Braille on the sign. Great -- now what, when he walks into the men's room, how is he going to know where the toilet is? And what would be the problem if he accidentally went in the ladies room? It's not like he's going to see anything?

    I've also seen Braille signs at drive through ATMs! How many blind people do you see driving up to an ATM? If they are good enough to drive up to the ATM they don't need a Braille sign on the machine!

    I hope this doesn't offend any visually impaired readers -- just curious. Actually, I too am visually impaired. I can only see out of one eye and have no peripheral vision in either eye.

    As always, your comments are welcome.

    Sunday, October 02, 2005



    Happy Birthday to Me! I have a birthday coming up on October 11th. I will be 56 years old. It's funny how birthdays really don't mean that much to me anymore, it's just another day. I remember when I was a kid how it was such a big deal to celebrate my birthday. All of my cousins and friends would come to the house and there would be a big party, cake, icecream and lots of presents! Now it really doesn't matter...all of my cousins have scattered around the country, I can't even count them anymore. There are many I haven't even met.

    Age is a matter of mind; if you don't mind, it doesn't matter! It's just another year, I don't feel 56 years old, (well, most of the time I don't). Presents - I really don't care if I get any presents, and I can do without a house full of people! I enjoy my peace and quiet. Cake and icecream - OK, you got me there; I still like my cake and icecream. But as far as all that other birthday stuff goes, I can do without it. Birthdays are for kids.

    Just curious...what are your thoughts on birthdays?

    Space Tourism - Take a ride - ONLY $20 Million!

    Take a Ride in Space - ONLY $20 Million

    Every feel like you would like to get away from it all and just leave this place far behind? Well, now you can! You can leave this planet and head for outer space. Be prepard to pay a pretty penny for the trip, but space travel for non-astronauts has begun!

    Saturday, Gregory Olsen boarded the Russian Soyuz-TMA spacecraft at Baikonur Cosmodrom (Photo from AP). The prize tag for his little journey, a whopping $20 million! I don't know about you, but I guess it will be quite a while before I can afford a to schedule a space trip in my budget! Get this - for his $20 million Mr. Olsen only gets a two-day trip to the international space station and back.

    Actually, Gregory Olsen is the third non-astronaut to visit the space station. It seems that the Russian Federal Space Agency is in a cash crunch and has started space tourism to raise some money. In 2001, a California business man Dennis Tito made a space trip and then in 2002, South African Mark Shuttleword also paid for a jaunt to the space station. Gregory Olsen is the founder of an infrared-camera maker company in New Jersey.

    I often dream of exploring the final frontier like the crew of the Starship Enterprise, going where no man has gone before; but for a $20 million price tag it's going to have continue to be only a dream!