Monday, July 27, 2009

Charity Donations

There are a lot of really good causes to support - American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Global Fund, CARE, Feeding America, Salvation Army, World Wildlife Fund, various Cancer organizations & Children's organizations - just to name a few. There are also a lot of events to help out different organizations as well - golf outings, walk/run events, bowling, etc. There is no way to find a way to support every organization - so I find myself wondering what should I be donating to and what should I pass on.

I'm a person that has a hard time saying no to pretty much everything. I feel bad not donating when I get an email asking for money to help somebody out with an event they're participating in, or not giving to certain charity events, etc. I have found that a person like myself simply cannot donate or help every single charity that is out there. So how do I choose what to help out? I know people in the military, people who have/had breast cancer, an uncle that died of cancer, friends and co-workers with certain diseases. I don't know anybody personally who has HIV/AIDS, or is living in poverty, or is struggling to feed their family or buy necessities for their children, or even have lost everything in a natural disaster. I feel for pets that can't find homes and animals that are becoming extinct.

I have donated to a lot of things over the past few years, but still struggle to find one cause that I'm passionate about. The past year or two, I have found myself really into supporting (Product)Red - which helps the Global Fund fight AIDS in Africa. There a few companies that feature (Product)Red - Gap, Hallmark, Converse, Starbucks, Dell, Apple. Portions of each (Product)Red purchase are donated to the cause. Whenever I can buy something that is ProductRed, I will do it. At Hallmark, I always look for a (Product)Red card first. I bought a (Product)Red t-shirt from the GAP. Recently, I purchased a (Product)Red gift card at Starbucks, instead of a regular one. Every little bit helps. I encourage to look for these opportunities, if at all possible. Dell offers laptops, Apple offers iPods and iTunes cards, Converse has a ton of shoes that you can even design yourself, Starbucks has coffee and of course Hallmark cards. For more information, go to

I still want to find something that I'm passionate about. Until I feel that way, I will continue to pick and choose what I feel is right and how I can make the biggest difference for our world.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Life photo archive

Every now and then, Google will feature links to pictures from the Life archive on their homepage - actually today is one of those days. I haven't had the time to really look through them until tonight. I decided to follow the link for Major League Baseball, my favorite sport to follow. I ended up finding some old pictures of Warren Spahn, Roger Maris, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and one of my favorites (even though a Yankee) Mickey Mantle. I have an appreciation for baseball and it's history - it's also my favorite sport to follow and collect memorabilia from.

I love to read about history, look at history and learn about history. If you have the time, take a look at some of the photos in the Life archive on Google. There are a ton of photos and here's how to image search them: Put your search term, followed by source:life (ex. mickey mantle source:life). Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


So March was just a crazy busy month for me. We closed on our new house to start the month - which meant getting everything moved from the old place into the new house, and get almost the entire upstairs painted all in the same weekend. Thanks to loads of help from our family and friends, we were able to get basically moved in AND get all of our painting done. I can't say enough how lucky we are to have such great friends and family.

On top of all that (moving, painting, cleaning, working, etc.), I left for Europe on March 14th and returned on March 27th. I could have a very long post about the trip, but I want to tell you about the basics, and I wanted to update this blog to try and keep my followers happy (all 3 of you, thanks!). I was able to get all of my pictures uploaded via Picasa. Click the link at the end of this post for my pictures.

After a total of about 11 hours in the air (kudos to Swiss Air, best airline I've been on) - Our trip started in Madrid, Spain - then traveled to Barcelona, stopping in Zaragoza on the way. In Barcelona, we encounted 2 different protests. One was a small, but loud protest outside of a clothing store called Zara. If you wanted to go into that store, you needed to get past the grim reaper first. The second protest was a very large demonstration against the University there. Thousands and thousands of students and adults filled the streets of Barcelona and made their way to a central square. This protest included many police and even a helicopter.

From Spain, we traveled on a cruise ship for about 21 hours to Italy. We did Rome in a day, which was amazing. On our way to Sorrento, we visited the island of Capri which was one of the best places of our entire trip. We also went to Pompeii and toured all of the ruins of that city, which were caused by a volcano eruption. After Italy, we took a ferry/cruise overnight to Greece and stayed in Tolo. From there we went to Olympia to see the original Olympic site. After 2 short visits of Epidaurus and Mycenae, we were on our way to Athens. My things to see in Athens, including the Acropolis and Parthenon, the Olympic site and the downtown shopping district. But probably the most memorable was the firefighters protest in which the police had on their riot gear, gas masks and were unleashing tear gas and rubber bullets. Needless to say, on my way back to our group's meeting place, I stopped to watch the protest and ended up with tear gas in my nose.

We left our hotel at 3 a.m. on the 27th, had a 3 hour flight to Zurich and then a 10 hour flight to Chicago, landing around 5:10 pm. After waiting for the other half of our group (on a different flight) we hopped on the bus and got back home at 12:20 am. I slept a total of 6 hours from the time I woke up on Thursday the 26th.

Now it's back to working on the house, especially yard work and getting the other 2 bedrooms upstairs painted. Four day weekend for Easter, then Trivia next weekend!



Friday, February 27, 2009


Since it is that time of year again (Lent), I thought I would post a little something about every Catholic's favorite Friday food - fish!

Somebody during lunch today just happened to bring up the Filet-O-Fish sandwich from McDonalds - and also included Burger King in this story. They had (or still have) an uncle that works at one of the processing docks or something for the so-called "fish" for these sandwiches. I really don't want to gross anybody out who really enjoys these sandwiches (my wife) so all I'll say is that they're choppin' up the bottom-feeders in the lake. Pretty much the worst possible fish you can find. Now, whether this is indeed a fact, I don't know. I could not find any research to prove or disprove this notion. All I know is that I do not eat these sandwiches for the same reason I don't eat McDonald's hamburgers. Their beef patties might be 100% beef, however one hamburger is made up of hundreds of different cows from dozens of different ranches. I would like a hamburger patty that came from a single cow please, thank you.

Enjoy your Friday fish everybody!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Public (Men's) Restrooms

I have a feeling I am only speaking to the male population with this entry, but I'm happy to inform women of the following issue - the mens restroom.

I'm assuming that since public restrooms became commonplace, people have been writing graffiti the stalls. Sit down, look to your left or right and read all the nice things people have written about other people. This is something that often gets the boys bathroom at the high school closed and locked. It was the same way when I was in high school - it was immature boys acting immature. Back in grade school, who knows what those bathrooms looked like, but I'm guessing we weren't the most accurate in the 4th or 5th grade - but again, it's 8 or 9 year-olds acting their age. The last time I checked, I haven't used a public restroom that said "Little Boys Room" or "Boys Bathroom." Most of them say "Men" or "Gentlemen" or maybe even "Guys." So then why do the bathrooms look like a grade school or high school bathroom? Seriously.

I am going to speak for all men right now and just say that men are disgusting - at least when it comes to the bathroom. I don't want to walk into the "Men's Room" and find an unflushed toilet, pee still in the urinal, chew in the urinal, toilet paper on the floor or a puddle anywhere near the urinal. The drains on the floor are for water, not another target for you to try and hit. And for gosh sakes people, wash your damn hands! I wouldn't be surprised to walk in on two grown men playing hockey with the urinal pucks. The chances of find pee on the floor or on the toilet seat is probably 60%.

The men that would use the bathroom at my previous employer would just amaze me - pretty much all of the above was expected on a daily basis, but what really would crack me up are not the people that leave without washing their hands, but it's the people who try and fake you out. Example: I walk in to do my business as another "man" is finishing up (by the way, it is not proper to whistle, talk, sing or make eye contact in the men's room). So this person finishes up and probably would have walked out without washing their hands - but because I am now in there, this person turns on the water and proceeds to act is if he is washing his hands - using no soap and not even attempting to use paper towel - and then just walks out. Seriously? OK buddy, if you are actually going to take the time to try and fool me that you just washed your hands like a good human being, why not just do it? At this same workplace bathroom, one particular individual would leave the newspaper he bought everyday in the stall when he was done as a good deed, because the next person is really going to want to read the newspaper you just had while you were taking a crap.

When I travel, I notice the quality of the restrooms at restaurants and gas stations - so the next time I go that route, I can plan out my stops accordingly. I would hate to walk into the men's restroom at Chili's again and have piss sitting in the urinal waiting for me - no thanks. Feel free to share your very own uplifting public restroom stories - and for all men out there, take the 45 seconds to wash your hands before you leave the restroom.

(sign in Peru telling men not to pee on the floor)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I admit that I'm too lazy to go out and find statistics on this, but how effective are infomercials? How many people watch these things are think, "Wow, I could not live the rest of my life without this product." I'm not even talking about the 30-minute paid programming specials that air from 3 am - 5 am or any channel not carrying sports on Sundays. Things like Mighty Putter, Bender Ball, Head On or those Space Bags that vacuum suck your entire closet into a bag so you can shove it under your bed and never get the clothes back out. Who buys this stuff? And I love the testimonials from the people who just bought the product, but yet tell everyone how great it is.

I have never even considering buying anything from watching a commercial, and I don't think I ever will (especially if it's being sold by Billy Mays, who thinks you will buy something from him because he screams into the camera). Recently, however, I have been very fascinated by the Shamwow commercials. Everytime it comes on I have to watch it - not because of the product but because of Vince (the guy with the headset). He probably could convince me to buy almost anything. Yesterday I was very excited when I saw his new infomercial. It's not quite as good as the groundbreaking Shamwow commercial, but it comes darn close. It's for a product called Slap Chop. Check it out, you'll be saying 'wow' everytime.

Original Version

Chop My Nuts Remix

Monday, February 2, 2009


Super is a word that doesn't seemed to be overly used in our society, but rather conveniently used in places that make sense. When I was in grade school, I would often (yes, often) received Super stickers on my assignments letting me know that I did a good job. At about the same time in my life I was playing Super Mario Brothers on the Super Nintendo. Sometimes places of business use the term Superstore to showcase that the store is bigger and better (i.e. Super Wal-Mart). Super glue is used because that Elmer's stuff just doesn't work on bobblehead dolls. McDonalds famously introduced us to Supersize - which also introduced a lot of people to obesity. The Super 8 motel....well, we'll forgive them for that one because there isn't anything super about that place.

Of course the most well known use of the word super is the Super Bowl. It's the biggest sporting event of the year - one in which advertisers will pay $3 million for a 30-second commercial. It's supposed to be the best of the best - and for the last two years, it hasn't let us down. I remember a lot of things about Super Bowls, but the last two had a little something extra 'super' about them. We witnessed two super catches.

Last year was this catch by David Tyree:

And for those of you who didn't get to witness the dramatic finish to this year's game, here is the catch that can only be described as 'super'

Not everything in this world can be super and not everybody in this world is super, but when you witness something super firsthand, you don't often forget it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gender Comedy

One of my favorite SNL skits of the year has been the "Single Ladies" video with Beyonce and Justin Timberlake. I laughed almost more the second time I saw it than the first - if you haven't seen it, I will post the link at the end of this story. Justin Timberlake, Andy Samberg, and Bobby Moynihan are dressed up like ladies and act as Beyonce's backup dancers for the video. There is something really funny about them acting very feminine - their clothes, their actions, the way they talk, etc.

What would happen if we reversed this? Dress up Beyonce and two other women and use them as backup dancers in Justin Timberlake's video for "Single Men" (there is no such song or video, but imagine just for the sake of this argument). If they acted very manly - dress, actions, speech - would we find it as funny? I say no.

This is just one example - but have you ever thought about what we find funny when it comes to men versus women? It's funny to laugh at a guy dressed up doing an impersonation of a woman, but usually not very funny to watch a woman dressed up doing an impersonation of a man. I know a girl that can do a great Sean Connery impersonation, but it's just not as funny as Darrell Hammond doing it. Men can be funny about men and also women, but women only seem to get laughs when impersonating other women. We, as a society, just don't find that to be as funny.

I don't have a lot of answers for this one, but here is where I'm coming from. I believe a lot has to do with the way men and women dress. It is acceptable for women to wear traditional men's clothing - such as jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes, polo shirts, button-up shirts, khaki's. Almost anything men wear, women can also do the same. However that is not true the other way around. Men do not wear skirts, dresses, high heels, flats, tights, etc. It is acceptable in our society for women to dress and then act like men - however it is not acceptable, or considered by many as homosexual, for men to dress or act like women. When this occurs, it has to be taken in a humorous way because there is no possible way this is normal behavior.

It is a very interesting topic and something I don't think a lot of people think much about. There is definitely a gender gap in comedy and I'm not so sure that it's an easy fix. Being 'manly' doesn't have to be about having the biggest muscles, drinking the most beer, going hunting, not worrying about what you look like, never showing emotion, thinking it's funny to act stupid or having a garage full of power tools Maybe being 'manly' can be about being a gentleman, taking care of yourself, showing some intelligence, being respectful, helping with the kids and dishes and laundry and dinner. I think it will be hard to find a way to change how we portray men and women in comedy, but I believe that changing the way our society looks at roles of men and women will go a long way in closing the gender gap - including comedy.

SNL Video Link

Monday, January 19, 2009


As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. day today, I can't help but be reminded of dreams. We all have dreams. Every night we fall asleep and dream of something or someone - some dreams we remember, some we don't. But these aren't the dreams I'm talking about. The dreams I speak of are the ones we wish for - hope for - pray for.

We often hear our friends and family dream of a new car, a new house, the perfect job or winning the lottery. When was the last time you heard somebody dream for peace, or justice, or equality, an end to violence or an end to hate? Do we not have these dreams? Are they not realistic or are these things that we just don't think of dreaming about?

Perhaps the most famous dreams of all, were the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr. Who at the time seemed to be speaking of winning the lottery to those who listened. Over 45 years ago today, he made his famous speech in Washington, D.C. He didn't talk of new cars or new houses or money or fame. He simply wanted this country of ours to unite as one.

I didn't write about the election of Barack Obama as our President, mainly because I hadn't started with this blog, but it was nothing short of historic. Over four years, after I witnessed Obama speak at the Democratic National convention in 2004, I had a feeling that this guy was the real deal. I like politics, I read about politics and I get into politics, but rarely do I get excited about politics. About three years ago, I asked people who would we elect President first: a woman or an African-American. Almost all of my responses were a woman - Hillary Clinton (although I think I got a Colin Powell in there from somebody). I came out and said no. I said it would be an African-American and it would be Barack Obama (see Amy A. to verify this if you like), and they said, "who?"

That was my dream.

As far as we have come as a nation, I knew that a good percentage of our population would never vote for a black man for President. I was excited, hopeful and yet cautiously optimistic when he decided to seek the nomination - especially starting out in Iowa. I wondered how many people could look past the color of his skin, or the Internet smear campaigns. But the American people came through and looked beyond what many couldn't 45 years ago. We elected Barack Obama as our President. This is, however, just a small step to reaching equality in America.

At this time in our lives, when we are fighting two wars, our economy is at it's worst since the Great Depression, jobs and houses are being lost, people struggle to put food on the table and provide for their families, we must again dream big. And at the same time we are also full of hope. Hope that this country will again be looked up to in the World, and hope that every kid today can live out the American dream of that big house, nice car, stable job and a wonderful family.

What will you dream for?

So on the eve of inaugurating the first African-American President of the United States of America, I leave you with his dreams from August 28, 1963:

"I say to you, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi , a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with is vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of 'interposition' and 'nullification', one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day 'every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low; the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed , and all flesh shall see it together.'

This is our hope..."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Handicap Parking Spots

There are many times where I'm looking for a parking spot, someplace busy like the mall or Wal-Mart, and I think I've got one and *BAM!* Handicapped Parking sign. This happens to everyone right? I sometimes get very angry when this happens, but don't exactly know why. I'm either angry that I thought I found a prime parking spot and all of the other idiots passed it up or the fact that I can't believe there are so many handicapped parking spots. Is there some sort of regulation about how many handicap parking stalls you need? For example, my local Target has probably close to 10 handicap spots, to go with the senior citizen spots and employee of the month (if that still exists). I go to Target at least once a week and never have I seen even half of those handicap spots used up.

After my initial anger, I settle for a parking spot someplace else and don't really care about having to walk. Usually as I'm walking in, I will check out the vehicles parked in those spots. Have you ever watched the people that get in and out of some of those vehicles? I can't believe, literally, how some of those people ended up with a handicap tag or sticker. Unless you have a limp, a cane, a wheelchair, crutches or a missing limb, I prefer not to see you getting out of that vehicle. If you are parking in a handicap spot, you better look like you need it.

By now some of you are probably furious at me, saying how could he write these things - putting down the disabled and what about this person with this disease, etc. While others are thinking along the same lines as me. Here's what I'm getting at. I think some places go a little overboard with their handicapped parking stalls (Target), and some of those stalls get taken up by people who are taking advantage of the system and should be saving those places for people who really need them. Some parking lots only have one or two handicapped parking spots and when some stupid idiot throws their handicapped sign in the mirror from last year just to get a closer spot, somebody else might suffer.

I thank God that I am not handicapped and do not have to utilize one of these spaces and I also pray for those who have a disability and actually need a closer spot. I think my initial reaction to not getting one of those spots is a brief mentality of lazy America. Sure, I would love to always get a close parking spot - but never at the expense of somebody who could really use it. I would rather count my blessings and walk an extra few feet knowing that I am healthy enough to do it.

And what is lazy America you ask? It's parking in an Expectant Mother's parking spot because all of the other nearest ones are taken (which I have done more than once).

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year to everyone and a welcome back to myself. As you can see from my first post, I intended to start this blog in July. Unfortunately, I had nothing to write about. I am going to give this another shot. My goal will be at least one post every week, sort of my own weekly column. We will call this my New Year's Resolution.

Why is it that every year we hear about people making their New Year's Resolutions? When is the last time that on December 31st you heard somebody say "I am proud to say that I completed my New Year's Resolution I set on January 1st? I can honestly say that I have never heard of anyone actually complete a resolution. Now this isn't to say that nobody has ever successfully committed to and completed a resolution.

Here are some statistics for you from Stephen Shapiro: 45% of Americans usually set New Year's Resolutions; 8% of those people are always successful; 24% (1 in 4) never succeed and have failed on every resolution every year; 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed.

Some people will choose resolutions based on money, relationships or organization, but most of the resolutions have to do with your weight or physical appearance. Look at the ads in the paper that comes out around January 1st - it's littered with deals on exercise equipment, videos and clothes. Visit your local gym or YMCA - notice how busy it is. But all you have to do is wait a month or two and it will be back to the normal traffic.

So my question is why do people, year after year, continue to make New Year's Resolutions when they know they will never go through with it? Perhaps the goal is set too high or perhaps there is nothing pushing them to follow through after the initial craze. If Target advertised exercise equipment, videos and clothes every single week on the front page of their ad, would that persuade you that you should be exercising because that is the "in" thing right now? Maybe this year try this. Make a New Year's Resolution with your spouse or friend that you both agree on. This way you can look out for and push one another. And set a realistic goal. Don't try to lost 20 pounds a month, when you know you can only get to the gym 2 days a week. And if you know you won't follow through at all, don't set a resolution to begin with.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish everyone a happy and successful New Year.