Monday, December 31, 2007

Will you flake on your New Year's resolution?

Oh how I love it when people talk about New Year's resolutions. As someone who is fascinated by people, I love to hear all the excuses people come up with for either not following through with their resolution or worse, not even coming up with at least one. Don't get me wrong; I don't judge someone seriously by these, as by-in-large they are meaningless, but quite frankly, resolutions may be the only thing of substance to this holiday. Now I'm not going to lie, I've rarely been successful in my resolution attempts, but I do give it a shot because it's fun and given that I'm a competitive and goal oriented by nature, it's just another way to make things interesting. And if I make one and it doesn't work out, well at least I can say that I tried. So what are mine for 2008? Well, I haven't come up with a complete list as of yet, but I have three thus far, at least two of which I'm going to take quite seriously: I resolve to lose 35 pounds and keep it off this time. I resolve to improve my performance at work and do the best I can each day. And finally, I resolve to end the ski season having logged 80 days on snow this season. This may include some hike-to-ski days in the spring. So there are mine. Don't cop out this year and make your own list; you have absolutely nothing to lose by doing so.

Book your next trip with Hotelreservations.com

One of my favorite times of the year is when I begin to plan the details of forthcoming vacations. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of getting the plans together and making those first hotel reservations, which are sort of the first signs that the vacation reality is coming to a tangible fruition. And if you’re at all like me, you know that there are dozens of vacations sites out there that offer a wide array of services. Having tried and used my fair share of them, I often find myself pointing my browser to Hotelreservations.com to check out their prices on hotels, car rentals, and even resort information.
When is comes to finding the right hotel, this site can’t be beat. They even offer a $100 rebate if you book with them and then you do find someone that beats their price. One of the best parts of their online hotel booking is that their webpage lists hotels by country and offers listings for no less than nine countries, which are just a click away. And although they are an online site, there is an 800 number right on the page if three is a hotel or location you’re looking for that is not directly accessible from the main page, you can call one of their customer service representatives for help.
Aside from hotel and resort discounts, Hotelreservations.com offers so much more than other discount travel sites. One of my favorites is the ability to search for, and book condo rentals around the world. Whether you want to go on a ski vacation in Europe or are looking for a nice condo on the beach in Hawaii, their global map has links to hundreds of listing and prices available on the spot. So the next time you’re looking for a car rental, hotel reservation, or even want to book a trip as a group, log on to Hotelreservations.com to take care of all your travel needs.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Check out Magicholdem.com to beat the poker odds!

More and more people are turning to the internet to play card games, and as you might expect, it’s not all for fun. Sure playing the game is meant to be fun, but most folks like to throw a few bucks into the mix to make it a little more interesting. Some win and get out, while others play until they lose their money, but for those who want to play longer and win more, it’s a good idea to learn to play your best if you’ve got money on the line. And while you might be a holdem stud, it never hurts to learn what choices you make with a given hand of cards have the best poker odds. Magicholdem.com has more than 80,000 users who log on to use their unique poker calculator to make sure they make the right decision when money’s on the line. Magicholdem.com is a great site that’s easy to use and offers a free trail download to new users. The site shows players how the holdem calculator works and can work for them and if you’ve got any questions, technical support is only a click away. If you’re in the game, you owe to yourself to check the site out before making your next bet.

Congrats to Tom Brady and Co.

I'm obviously not the first to mention the fact that late last night New England quarterback threw for his record setting 50th touchdown pass of the season, breaking the mere two-year-old record previously set by Peyton Manning, but I have some of my own thoughts on this achievement that might not be shared by others. After Manning broke the 20-year-old single season mark set by Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino, this looked to be a mark that perhaps could only be broken by the one who had just broken it, but then there was the trade that sent Randy Moss from the Oakland Raiders to New England for a few pennies and pat on the back. Moss, who had become known more for his antics than his pro-bowl abilities, was thought to be all but washed-up and a risk to any team that would take him, but this isn't any old team and it's coach has always had a way of keeping guys in line. That said, Moss went on to break the single season for touchdown receptions, set by Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.
But I digress. Why? Because I don't really care about that record, albeit nice. Quite frankly, I didn't care about the Patriots winning every game this season. Yes, I've been a fan my whole life and would love to see another championship, but all this crap about team this and team that is getting old. Tom Brady has been a company man long enough and should get to enjoy this record. For years he's been racking up victories and while his last minute heroics may be second to none, the media darling has always been Peyton Manning. Whether the Patriots won every game of the decade, pundits would always praise Peyton Manning and if I were Brady, I'd be sick of it. I'm obviously not Brady and I'm sick of it. So yes, last night I really cared about seeing Tom Brady break that record. After two dropped passes in a row, it looked like Moss might not be up to the challenge and perhaps Brady would have to go to Wes Welker for the record, but then late in the forth quarter, Brady unleashed a Hail Mary on 3rd and 10 for a 65 yard touchdown completion, which gave both Brady and Moss their respective records. And while I don't care to say much about how lame it was listening to Bryant Gumble babble throughout the game, I would like to direct my attention for one last thought on a comment that he a Chris Collinsworth agreed upon nearing the end of the game. To paraphrase, they said that Brady didn't care about setting the single season mark and just wanted to win this game... Wake up guys! Tom Brady has as much pride as anyone and he has three Super bowl rings. To put it bluntly, Tom Brady wanted nothing more than to get that record and hats off to him for making his mark.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Do you want to win a Wii?

If you’re at all like me, you still have an old Super Nintendo game console because all the new technology in gaming is just too confusing to keep up with, but to be honest I’ve actually heard that this form of entertainment is not longer just for the youth. Nintendo’s new Wii has several games that involve live action and have been appealing to a much larger age demographics than previous systems. That doesn’t mean that I’m gonna run out and buy one, but I wouldn’t mind winning one, and now there’s a chance for you to, as well. Just be one of the first people to have 1000 new members sign up at myndnet.com and one of these sweet Nintendo’s can be yours from their Myndnet Wii Contest.

Yep, I want to see some records get broken

We all hold aged sports records so dear to us, but after one has been broken, we seem to long for it to happen again and again. We only need to look back to the late 1990's with the home run pursuit in baseball to see how invigorated fans were by the multiple chases going on. Granted, there is a little controversy behind those to say the least, but the fan reaction was amazing. I may not have been a fan of Sammy Sosa or Mark McGuire, but I was into those chases and loved seeing the fan reactions. As for Barry Bonds, I'll just leave that topic alone 'cause getting sick isn't my top priority for the day, but regardless of scandals and this and that, we all love to see records get broken. In my case, any records held by Peyton Manning needs to be broken, and fast. While Dan Marino held on to the single season touchdown record for over 20 years, it looks like Manning's grasp will over last a little over 2 as the Patriots, led by Tom Brady will take on the New York Giants this weekend. Brady is one touchdown pass short of tying the record and two of breaking it. The likelihood of this not happening Saturday night is remote and for all of us Manning haters, it couldn't come soon enough. And while I would like to see Randy Moss get the Rice record as well, for receiving touchdowns in a single season, I'm a little more ambivalent that this one. I'm sure it will happen, but quite frankly, Brady's my man.

Send eCards to support Marines Toys for Tots

Regardless of the time of year, supporting our troops overseas and their families is of paramount importance. While Christmas may be over, the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation continues to gather toys for families in need. Partnering with Month2Month.com eCards they have developed a program where with every eCard sent, a cash donation is made to Toys for Tots. Here's where to get the month2month free eCards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Marines Toys for Tots Needs Last Minute Help
Quantico, VA. December 21, 2007 / PR Newswire – The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is making a nationwide last minute appeal for more toys. Since time is critical as they go into their toy distribution phase this weekend the Foundation is encouraging people to make cash contributions because it allows them to purchase the toys they need to fill in gaps and match the remaining needs.
One novel way to get cash immediately into the hands of the Marines is to send lots of holiday eCards to everyone you know. Month2Month.com, a free eCard website has agreed to contribute up to $50,000 when their cards are sent and received.
Bill Grein, Vice President for Marines Toys for Tots, said: "Cash contributions are critical for us at this time because we can purchase the toys we need and can place them where they are needed most at the last minute. It will help us close a gap in many areas where the economy, toy recalls and even bad weather have caused us to come short of our goals so far. We urge everyone to take advantage of this wonderful offer from Month2Month."
John Aslanian, CEO of Month2Month.com said: "We are expecting to have 1 million cards sent in the next few days that could result in a contribution of up to $50,000. We know that for some the economy might be putting a crimp in their generosity. But what this can do is to save them the cost of buying cards and the postage. We are asking everyone to send these cards, even if they already sent other cards, to help make this a merry Christmas and happy holiday for many more needy children."

Month2Month.com cards are all produced by top-notch artists working in a loft studio just outside of New York City. The cards show great care in design and detail and often take weeks or months to complete. They are all professionally animated often requiring hundreds of frames to get the motion to look smooth and flowing. Month2Month.com is a privately held online greeting company founded in 2005. The site offers free high quality online greeting cards and can be found at http://www.month2month.com.
This year marks the 60th anniversary for the Toys for Tots tradition of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. In 2006, Toys for Tots delivered more than 19.2 million toys to over 7.6 million children.

CONTACT:

Bill Grein
Marine Toys for Tots
V: 703-640-9433
F: 703-640-0917
wjgrein@toysfortots.org
http://www.toysfortots.org

Steven Marcus
Month2Month.com
V: 914-933-2638
F: 501-325-9147
smarcus@month2month.com
http://www.month2month.com

The Maine Coast In Winter


In my humble opinion, all of Maine is special any time of year. The state is unique in that we have both 3000 plus miles of coastline and mountain ranges reaching to the clouds. While either is beautiful no matter what time of year you choose to visit, winter is most special in my book.
One of the most unique places in Maine is Camden. Located in Maine's mid-coast region, Camden is where the mountains literally meet the sea and for winter sports enthusiasts, it is home to the only ski area on the east coast where you can see the Atlantic Ocean from the trails. While the mountain is small by most standards, it has a classic New England feel and a homeyness about it that draws you in. Driving around town, the white colonials are lit up by outside floodlights and Christmas lights in the windows. Bayview Street and Route One are almost empty and the stark contrast from the hustle and bustle of the summer tourist surge makes for a feeling of peace and tranquility.

This evening, Jules and I will hop in the car and head up to my folks' place in Camden for a respite from the sometimes frantic weekends spent at the larger ski resorts.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Get prepared for your Real Estate 2008 exam

While many of us take industry courses and exams to help get ahead in the workplace and further our education in our field, many others professionals are required to take industry exams before they can even work. This is particularly the case in financial fields and real estate. And something that people often get caught on is that with these two fields, federal law varies the required information and testing from state to state. Why is that important? It’s simple, I can take the same insurance exam in Maine that I would take in Alaska, but if I’m taking a real estate exam and for one of my licenses and I’m from Maine and study for the one from Alaska, I’m going to be in trouble. While this may be a little overdramatic, it is for the most part true. Regardless of what state you live in, your 2008 AQB Appraisal Exam will be administered by either PSI, Experior, Promissor or AMP. To make sure you get as well-prepared as possible, you’ll want to get the best study program possible. While CompuCram’s practice test questions aren’t exactly the same as the one’s you’ll face on your appraisal exam, CompuCram is so sure you’ll pass the exam the first time with flying colors that they offer a 100% money-back guarantee. So before you sit down and cram with your plethora of books, get the software to really help you towards your career goals!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My time for vacation and the outdoors!


While millions of Americans scramble to get their vacation times in during the hottest of summer months or when the kids are off from school during the year, things move a little differently in my world. Yes, I did take a few days off over the summer and did go on a vacation with my significant other last year, but by-in-large, I tend to take my time off when others don't. I've been blessed to work for a company that provides ample time off and for most of that time, I spend gliding down what I consider to be a winter wonderland. And while I returned to work today, I spent a week and a half enjoying the great outdoors in Maine. Skiing 11 out of 12 days, I took a break to celebrate Christmas with my family. And yet I know full well that this sometimes selfish approach to time away from work will change when I have a family of my own, I feel that until that time, I should take my time doing the things I love - for the most part, that means skiing. Indeed, I was joined on the weekends by family and friends, but sometimes it's those times when I'm alone, gliding above the clouds, over freshly fallen snow, that I feel most at peace.

And while getting back to the office today was like having a bucket of freezing water dumped on my head, I put my nose to the grind with a little notion in the back of my mind that in less than two months, Jules and I will be off to Lake Tahoe for our second straight year - yes, we will be skiing in The Blue World.

Great calling rates - domestic and abroad

Whether you’re traveling across the country or across the Atlantic, calling home can be an expensive proposition. Typical cell phone plans don’t include international calling and would therefore open the door to huge charges to your monthly bill and calling from a hotel room is downright silly with the all the fees from the carriers to the hotels themselves. Getmecallingcards.com has the phone card that’s just right for you. You can choose from cards that are prepaid and non-rechargeable or pin less cards that fully rechargeable. Getmecallingcards.com has 459 different cards to suit your traveling and calling needs. So stop paying ludicrous charges from your hotel or dorm when calling home and check out the lowest priced cards in the business. Some of these actually offer cash back to ensure you get the best rate on every call.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Mall Chronicles - Volume 2

I have to admit; I was just going to post this volume with two words – Chess King. Yes, the thought of some of you nostalgic folks spitting up your coffee in your office cubes made me chuckle bit, but I guess there are people out there that don’t know what Chess King was… or maybe is, depending on where you live. I know the dark and seemingly mysterious clothing store is o longer an occupant at the Maine Mall, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a couple stores that didn’t get the memo about the 21st century. Regardless of whether there still is a Chess King by you, I know many of you have had a good laugh at the expense of some poor guy that thought a one-inch wide leather tie was truly cool. Interestingly I have found that the spirit of Chess King is actually alive and well in our malls, sort of. No, I’m not going to review clothing stores or clothing stores. I admittedly know little about what is truly considered in style, so to speak, but apparently I know more than the poor guys who run the plethora of cell phone kiosks that dot the mall hallways. (I’ve get to this phenomena at a latter date as it deserves its’ own post) And whereas I don’t want to beat this topic to the ground, I want you all to think. I want you to take a look back to 1985 and try to think of how many shades of black, white, and gray there were. If those thoughts don’t make you think about Chess King just a little, well, I guess you weren’t as fortunate as the rest of us… Fortunate? Hmmm.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Check out Gammon World for great online backgammon

Although I consider myself a big fan of games of skill, I can’t always find someone to play with me. If you’ve ever tried to play Scrabble, chess, or backgammon on your own, you know it isn’t much fun, but I recently discover a really cool site where I can play backgammon online with people from all over the globe. Gammon World is a truly professional site with tons of information on the game, 24-hour support, and a wide range selection of http://www.gammon-world.com/tournaments.htm.

The First Step May Be The Canyon

While the medical community has increased its’ understanding and subsequent treatments for chemical dependency, it is still true that illnesses such as alcoholism and drug addiction have no cure. And while millions of Americans suffer from one or both of these illnesses, few seek treatment and fewer succeed. For some, it is the mere impossibility to admit that there is a problem, but for others, committing to a life long program of recovery is unfathomable. Whereas the former is only something that can be learned by the individual when the time is right, the latter is more an issue of taking that first step towards treatment. Twelve step programs and rehabilitation facilities can not be successful in helping to change the life of a suffering drug addict of alcoholic unless that person allows themselves to turned their life over to a different way of living. And if this sounds extremely difficult, that is because it is and no individual can begin the journey of recovery on their own. The important thing is to know that there is alcohol and drug treatment available to those willing to make the commitment.
Addiction treatment comes in many forms and what may work for one person may not work for another, but realistically, the more intense and direct approaches to treatment have the highest percentage of success. If you have one or both of these illnesses or know someone who wants help, The Canyon provides integrated residential inpatient and outpatient treatment to persons in need of drug rehab or alcohol rehab.

Putin named Time Magazine 'Person of The Year'

Each year, Time Magazine names a person or persons that are found to be so influential that they, in one way or another, demand public attention. The 2007 person of the year was announced today and while the nominees ranged from the beloved novelist J.K. Rowling to the extremely controversial Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It's important to note that the 'Person of the Year' is in no way a gauge of popularity and whereas this year's winner is seen as favorable by 70% of his fellow countrymen, Russian Vladimir Putin is definitely seen as controversial among Americans. Some political pundits fear that Putin represent a return to the old ways of the Soviet Union with rights activists criticize his hard line approaches, which have included the limitation on free speech. And while there is little doubt that Putin has seemingly brought Russian out of the dark depths of the 1990s, his direction for the country is unclear.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What to do when you get sensitive teeth

When I was younger, I admittedly didn’t appreciate the importance of routine dental visits and flossing daily. I suppose, like many others, I figured that if there was nothing wrong, why go to the dentist more the necessary? I’d go for a cleaning once a year, but it wasn’t till I was in my twenties that I had a cavity. With a subsequent filling, I was pretty much determined to stay away from anyone with a drill. After a few years without seeing the dentist regularly, I found myself with sensitive teeth. Although I was fairly convinced it was because I had food caught between my teeth that I could reach with floss, I soon learned that my one deep filling was gone, leaving one of my molars unprotected and susceptible to tooth decay.

While I booked an appointment with my dentist as soon as I could, there was quite a wait and I had done increasing damage to my gums by trying to floss away an issue that had nothing to do with my gums, but indeed that molar. While I tried to use topical pain relievers to dull the pain associated with eating things such as ice cream, the only thing that would cure the issue was to have the filling replaced and yet while I had to wait, I tried Biotene sensitive toothpaste. While Biotene may be best known for symptoms of dry mouth, it has an active ingredient that helps with the pain of sensitive teeth. Thankfully, I’ve seen my dentist, had the tooth repaired, and avoided a route canal, but more importantly, I’ve learned that keeping up with appointments is the best preventative measure.

Welcoming Back Winter In Maine


In all my travels through the years, I would often tell people that I'm from Maine and the first thing I would hear was, "Wow! It's really cold up there, isn't it?" I'd smile and explain the distinct 4 seasons that Maine offers, but also in the back of my head I'd be thinking that for quite a while, the snowy winters had been only a distant memory. While we have always received huge snowstorms in the latter months of winter and into spring, I have been sad to say that in Portland (along the coast) we haven't seen a 'White Christmas' since the Reagan administration. And that's sad quite frankly as Maine is supposed to be cold and snowy in the winter. I have often said that as long as it's wintry in the mountains, I don't care what it's like on the coast, but that really isn't the case. I love winter and I love the way Maine looks in the winter, especially the holiday season.
Jules and I just wrapped up a 4-day weekend at Sunday River. Having skied 3 days together, she ventured back to Portland this morning while I take the rest of the week off. This time last year, the resort was mostly dry with strips of white where the snow makers had left their mark, but we've already had a couple of substantial storms this month and the skiing has been the best in December in over a decade. After Sunday's nor'easter, we both had to shovel out our cars as 15 inches fell on this western Maine playground. And while it's entirely possible for the weather to change, if the temps remain cold, we'll ring in Christmas with a cover of white in every area of the state. To most, that may be insignificant, but to myself and my family, it brings an extra smile. Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mitchell Report: Politics As Usual

Sports fans from around the country have been salivating for this day. With a budget of $20 million, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell was hired by Major League Baseball to investigate steroid use among its' players. While names like Mark McGuire, Jason Giambi, Jose, Canseco, and Barry Bonds had been thrown around like candy out of a pinata over the past several years, most other players probably held out hope that their names wouldn't appear on what some have referred to as "The List." Surely, Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada would have loved for this day to have come and gone without the new found fanfare that doesn't go along with signing autographs, but realistically, the list was small. Some 80 or so former and current players - 7 MVPs and 31 all-stars - were named in the 400 plus page report that covers the use and abuse of steroids in baseball. So what? What now?
If you listen to Mitchell; it's over. He was paid to compile a list of offenders so the national media would have something to talk about. Seriously? How can a sport really think they will clean up their image by producing such a high profile document with so many accusations and decide to just move on? Whereas I may not yet be a parent, but if I were, I'd be furious if I had a kid playing sports and watching as these players get a seemingly free pass. Wasn't part of the point to be made that if you break the law or cheat and get caught, you get punished? Isn't that what we try to teach young athletes?
Having followed Mitchell's career as a Mainer, I have great respect for the wonderful contributions he's made to our nation and others, but this is a joke. If anything, it is a time to take a stand. If you say you want to clean the sport up and produce real role models, this is the wrong way to go about it. All it has done is provide fodder for sports talk shows and basically said that cheating and lying is okay if you're a high profile athlete. In my book, Bud Selig, the MLB commissioner needs to take a stand and follow-up on his statement from today. Not that Selig has really done a great job in cleaning up the sport, but at least he has the opportunity to take this report and run with it. Suspend players, fine players; do something to ensure that this was not all for naught. Our game and our youth need something more to come from this. I don't need a report to tell me that someone has been on the "juice," I want a report that tells me that participating in such illegal actions is unjust, unethical, and punishable. All great politicians learn how to play both sides of the aisle, but in this arena and in this fight, there shoudn't be such a middle ground.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Consolidating with the experts

While we can’t go out and blame individual consumers for the current credit crunch, the lenders who gave mortgage loans out to individuals with sub par credit are under far-more scrutiny. And yet that isn’t to say that people with poor credit shouldn’t be getting Loans, it means that they sometimes need more structured loans by experts who aren’t going to the individual or a couple a disservice by helping them overextend themselves. Bestleadinglenders.com can assist with Debt Consolidation and Unsecured Personal Loans to help those with less-than-perfect credit get back on their feet without going through bankruptcy or losing their homes they’ve worked so hard for.

A slap of humility for Anthony Smith

Competitive sports can be inherently humbling. The joy of victory is savored by far fewer than the agony of defeat, but for most of us, even competitive sports are much less pressure-filled than profession sports. That's not to say that if I play a foe in tennis, a defeat isn't going to be humbling, especially if I'm better and happen to lose, but what I mean to say is that I don't have much on the line and at the end of the day, it's just a loss.
So what's my point? My point is that yesterday's loss for the Pittsburgh Steelers and in particular, safety Anthony Smith was like a double blow to the head, but to be frank, I think I agree with Rodney Harrison, who actually didn't give the guy a hard time for guaranteeing the victory, but rather, expressed his opinion that this was and is a learning opportunity for the young player. Granted, he needs to first learn to shut his mouth, but The Steelers didn't play a bad game, they just played a New England team with a chip on their shoulders after two straight close games.
Quite a big piece of humble pie he has to eat though' no doubt about that.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Blog

Perhaps if you’re like millions of other Americans, you get the daily dose of who is in trouble for what in Hollywood or what controversial celebrity is facing a seemingly uphill court battle. Of course many of us are often more intrigued by the sometimes odd or confusing outcomes of these legal battles. Whether or not you think celebrities get preferential treatment when a judge hands down a sentence, there’s usually more going on than the media avails to us. UCLA and Pepperdine law professor, Dmitry Gorin – a frequent commentator on Court TV – knows all the ins and outs of cases involving the likes of Phil Spector, Lindsay Lohan, and other notables. Gorin goes into all the details with in-depth explanations and coverage on his Los Angeles Criminal Defense Blog | California Criminal Attorneys Law Blog.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Mall Chronicles - Volume 1


I've sort of been thinking about writing about "the mall" my whole life. Yes, that sounds sad, but really, the mall is the quintessential people-watching playground where on any given day you can see things that you only imagine or perhaps have never imagined. My fascination of the mall sub-culture goes back to my pre-teen years when my mom used to take my sister, her best friend, and I there every Wednesday as our school got out at noon. I recall memories of acid-washed jeans, Iron Maiden patches on denim jackets, high that nearly reached the top of the atrium, and enough make up to fill a Tiffany concert, and those were just the guys!
So what is my point? Am I just here making fun of this creation of 80's? Absolutely not. I love the mall, as long as I don't have to spend too much time there. I went tonight to do some Christmas, or holiday shopping, as it were, and while I'm still a little nauseous from watching some guy get a massage with his face implanted in a sweaty cushion that had been used by God knows how many people, I was pleased with my purchases and even got a little nostalgic.
And I bring you "The Mall Chronicles," which will be a variety of musings on life, love, and the pursuit of Phoebe Cates; while sharing some stories, poking a little fun, and perhaps taking just a glimpse back to the glory days of mall culture. So don't be afraid to pop in your favorite Poison CD - or tape - and I invite you to share with me. Whereas I'm sure my postings will come at random times, but hopefully will bring a smile to face of at least a few of you. Rock on!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Flights to the USA

As we enter the heart of holiday season, it isn’t too late to book flights to USA. DialAFlight offers a wide selection of destination packages to suit every travelers needs and has some of the best rates on flights to New York, flights to Washington, and holiday offers. Whether you’re looking for a simple flight or a full vacation with spas, resorts, and beaches, this is a site you want to check out.

I'm glad I didn't check my work email over vacation

So a few days back I posted about how I was trying to leave work at work while I was on vacation and I was indeed successful. I didn't check my work email or voicemail while away. And while this was a victory of sorts, I'm still bothered by the fact that whenever I come back from a break, there's always so much work waiting for me. Yes, the theory would be that it gets done while your away, especially in my position, but you can't expect that people will have the time to do all your work and theirs at the same time. It isn't fair to expect it and I don't. Those that did cover for me did a great job, but it always seems that when I go away, a ton of stuff comes in and no matter how much of it is done while I'm away, there's always the catch up game when I return. In fact I was pretty much in a trance all of Monday, thinking that the world was going to end. Of course, that isn't the case, but I suppose I wouldn't be obsessive if I didn't think so. Regardless, it was good to get some time off and will have some more in the near future. I better start planning... or maybe I shouldn't!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Shopping with WebbyPlanet.com

The holiday season is a stressful time for many of us. There are families to consider and visit with, holiday parties to attend, and then there's the gift giving. We all love to give people special gifts, but the costs can mount, adding to the financial stress of the season. All of this combined with the time it takes to shop for family and friends can really make things hard, but I found a site called WebbyPlanet that offers great deals and coupon codes to many of the best brands on the market, making holiday shopping a whole lot easier.

When rivals meet

As a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, I follow my team closely and appreciate how fans of others teams are passionate for theirs. This past summer this culminated in what was nothing short of an online battle on a ski resort forum regarding the Red Sox and the New York Yankees. While Sunday River boasts skiers from all over the east, it's fairly rare for too many Yankees fans to be around, but a few years back someone had started a thread for the two sides to debate. For one reason or another, I decided to get involved in the debate and it was nothing short of cut-throat. Both sides took shots at one another over a whole season and it was easy to formulate opinions about those who we were debating, but then as the ski season neared and the promise of meeting some of the Yankees fans, approached, I was curious as to what they would be like. We knew the thread was all in fun, but still, I was a little apprehensive. And yet today I finally met one of the men I'd been sparing with. In 10-degree temperatures with 20-knot winds, he joined a bunch of us for some runs and I got a chance to chat with him. I was pleasantly surprised by the mutual respect we had for each others teams, but also that he was nothing like I had imagined. Baseball season is over and we were embraced in our passion for skiing. If only this was always the case...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Don't get left out in the cold looking for optics

Like many other days, I found myself riding the main chairlift at Sunday River this morning, eager to take my first run. With my goggles resting on the front rim of my helmet, a strong gust of wind whipped down from the ridgeline and knocked my goggles off. While I could see where they landed, I couldn’t know if they’d be there when I got back to the bottom. Someone could ski or ride over them - destroying them or perhaps someone would pick them up as a souvenir. Instantly, I thought about what I would do. Buying sunglasses or ski goggles at a ski resort can cost an arm and a leg, but then I remembered a website I came across that has thousands of products like sunglasses, goggles, telescopes, and even night vision technology. And although I was lucky to race down the mountain to find the goggles intact and safe, I still logged on to OpticsPlanet.com to take a better look at what my options were if I needed to replace them. I found a great gift guide and learned that they have free shipping on purchases over $29.95. And with over 200 brand names to choose from, I’ve gotten a lot of my Christmas shopping done in one place.

Oh to be obsessive...

Although I didn't even take a full week off this past week, I still found myself fighting the urge to check my work email. This has been an issue with me for years. I've always had trouble letting work go and just enjoying myself. Indeed it has its good points, it can make for less productive relaxation. I even found myself exchanging emails while I was on vacation in Lake Tahoe last winter. Being three hours behind, I had someone at work summarize the prior day for me and then before going to ski for the day, I would give my responses, reactions, etc. Whereas at the time I thought it was multi-tasking, it was really me being obsessive and I've been working on that. So I'm proud to say that I haven't touch work since I left Tuesday afternoon. Now if I could get myself to not worry about Monday!

The JourneyLite Surgical Option

Are you someone who has struggled with weight and no diet seems to work? Has your physician discussed the possibility of surgery to curb your appetite? The LAPBAND surgical procedure is less invasive than gastric bypass and presents far fewer risks to recipients. JouneyLite is a countrywide network of physicians who perform the obesity surgery and is unique in that they offer support from the initial consultation through post-operative counseling and support through support groups and healthy dieting suggestions. JourneyLite knows that while having the LAPBAND procedure will help curve obesity, a lifestyle change is a necessity for long-term success.

Take time to smell the roses... or Pine trees!

I've often heard the old cliché - take time to smell the roses and shrugged it off as I pressed on; working long hours to get ahead in my job and barely allowing myself time to breathe. And yet as cliché as that phrase is, I found it increasingly important, as I've grown older.
We live in a country that encourages that attitude of go-go-go and sometimes we forget that life is far too short to not appreciate all that it has to offer. While this isn't a new concept to me, I go a special reminder today while on the last of a three-day vacation. Like every other day in the winter when I'm not working, I was at Sunday River and while it was less crowded than a weekend, there were still quite a few folks on the mountain taking advantage of the wonderful early season ski conditions, but then as the day grew older and the early winter shadows crept over the mountains, people headed for the lodge the bar, or perhaps made their way back from whence they came. My feet and knees aching from full few days on the mountain, I too, was inclined to head back to the condo for a nap before my girlfriend arrived, having not been as fortunate to have had the same days off from work. When I noticed the line empty at the chairlift, I decided to take one more run; not because I really needed the exercise or was even sure my body could take it, but I was drawn my the allure of the emptiness that surrounded me in all directions. And as the chairlift swiftly whisked me up the mountain, I turned off my iPod, lifted my goggles from my face, and took in a deep breath. I was overcome with a feeling of calm and relaxation that is sometimes forgotten when I'm in the real world of work. As the chair rose over the peak, a beam of the falling sun caught my eye and while I've never been one for clichés, I had my chance to smell the roses.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Johnny Depp reunites with Tim Burton for Sweeney Todd

Johnny Depp’s range as an actor is undeniable. From his portrayal of demonized English Inspector Frederick Abberline in the re-imagining of the “Jack The Ripper” investigation in From Hell to his playful antics as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Depp has proven he can take on any role and deliver a pleasing performance. And on December 21st, fans will get another chance to see Depp reunited with Director Tim Burton in another dark film set in 19th century London. Depp plays Sweeney Todd – in a film by the same name – as a barber, who is wrongly accused in the death of his wife and daughter. Having just been released from prison, Todd vows revenge in this masterful thriller.
While I’ve seen almost all of Depp’s films, I am most fond of his portrayal of Inspector Abberline in From Hell and Dean Corso in The Ninth Gate. While the latter is far from the settings of From Hell or Sweeney Todd, the film mixes the playful and arrogant side of the actor within a serious and dark setting. In the opening scene we are introduced to Corso while he is conning a couple into selling a priceless volume of Don Quixote. Although an ethically challenged situation, it sets up the rest of the movie in showing that Corso can use his expertise of rare literature to help solve the mystery of The Ninth Gate. Conversely, Depp’s portrayal of Abberline in From Hell is as much about the flaws of his character as it is about the horrid crimes for which he is seeking the killer. Abberline becomes so immersed in the investigation that he risks his own sanity by taking opium for which he believes will allow him to see visions. His character rises to the occasion when challenged by his boss over whether he is deeply involved in the case or has indeed gone insane. The range of these two characters lends itself well to the line between sane and insane for which Sweeney Todd toggles in Depp’s latest role. For more on Sweeney Todd, visit the official Sweeney Todd movie site or visit Sweeney Todd on MySpace.


Who thrives during the writers strike?

So I have been thinking about this whole Writers' Guild of America writers strike and how the networks are preparing to air re-runs and back-up shows. I guess what hit me the most was that NBC was actually lowering themselves enough to air American Gladiators. I still can't believe that, but whatever. Now I understand that most of the shows wouldn't work on NBC with the viewer demographic, but NBC, like ABC, owns many cable networks. The difference between NBC and ABC in this regard is that most of NBC's cable affiliates offer serial dramatic television and made-for-television movies. ABC on the other hand owns networks like ESPN. While it might not be a long term solution, NBC could gather shows from USA, A&E, Bravo, or even Sci-Fi. Until that time, it's 90-mile-per-hour tennis balls and men in tight shorts - Yikes!

The deals remain, even after Cyber Monday

As Black Friday passed, the figures show that while the numbers of shoppers may have gone up, they seemed to have spent less. Conversely, Cyber Monday had numbers increase sharply for the forth-straight year. While we will have to wait a couple of months before truly knowing whether people just spent less on Black Friday because of a lack of consumer confidence or if they indeed have opted for online shopping, you don’t have to wait to get in on the great deals from CouponChief. Before heading out to the jungle that is the mall, check out CouponShief for deals for Blue Nile deals and Staples coupons.

Not so fast for 11, 12, & 13 -year-olds looking for the pill

Maine might not produce the shear amount of newsworthy stories as its' larger neighbors to the south, but that all changed earlier this fall when the Portland School Committee voted to allow nurses at King Middle School to dispense birth control bills to its' students, who range from 11 to 13 years old.
Suffice to say, there was a fair amount of outrage about the decision and the story quickly caught the attention of every major news network around the country. Everyone from Dr. Phil to Pat Robertson jumped into the debate and now it seems the committee members, who were not up for re-election a few weeks back and favored the measure, may now lose their seats.
A group of Portland citizens recently finished a petition drive to force a recall election for the aforementioned committee members. And while the vote still stands, it seems like the dominoes are beginning to fall for those in favor of providing the pill to these youth. Morality issues notwithstanding, it seems that Maine's primary might be more newsworthy for who is not running as opposed to who is. And yes, people will also choose their parties choice for presidential candidate as well.

All there is to do in sunny Key West

Located 160 miles south of Miami, Key West, Florida is widely known for it’s magnificent sunsets, extensive offshore fishing, and has been forever immortalized in the songs of Jimmy Buffet. Yet the abundance of activities and history in the southeastern tip of the United States is limitless. Trusted Tours and Attractions invites you to join them in sunny Key West to explore a wonderful destination play land, which was frequented by literary legend, Earnest Hemingway and President Harry S. Truman.
With literally dozens of sightseeing tours available at varying prices and durations, check out Trusted Tours and Attractions’ online newsletter for the latest deals in Key West as well as dozens of other vacation destinations around the country. If you sign up for the newsletter by December 14, 2007 you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing to win 4 free tickets to tours in a city of your choice.
A haven for artists and writers alike, Key West draws millions of visitors a year to this island that is fondly known as the only Caribbean island in the United States. And while the allure of the sea is certainly be huge draw and selling point to the local economy, you’ll want to check out Trusted Tours and Attractions’ website for a listing of a myriad of sightseeing activities ranging from the Key West Aquarium, the first attraction built in the city, to President Truman’s “Little White House.”

So much to do on my vacation?

With my job, I'm blessed with an extensive amount of vacation time. Granted, money keeps me from for than a couple of destination vacations a year, but the other time off, like this week, I'm lucky to have a place enjoy my time in the mountains. Some of you may think I'm crazy to take vacation time in the winter, but we all have our passions and mine is skiing. And while I'll send much of the week, at least part of every day, on the slopes, I look forward to taking some time to bettering this site and offering more for my readers.
A mentioned earlier in a post, I plan to begin my series of now defunct television series and have a number lined up. I'd also like to dedicate a day to reviewing an older movie. Why? These too, are passions of mine and I want to share with all of you.
And then there's the grey elephant - my unfinished final draft of my novel that I really need to work on. Revising a draft for the 22nd time is no east task, but with a little peace and quiet, I hope to complete the manuscript and have it in to the publishers by January. But then again, maybe I'll just ski.:)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hiking boots make the perfect gift for the holidays

Not unlike ski boots, a proper fitting hiking boot is critical to both comfort and safety while out in the wilderness. While everyday running or tennis shoes may seem more comfortable to begin with, they offer little support for the ankle and can lead to easily twisted ankles. So if you know a loved one that loves to hike, but needs proper hiking boots, check out metboots.com for a wide selection of hiking boots from trusted names like Hi-Tec and Terra. And when you spend over $100, you get free shipping with every order.

How many records will Tom Brady break?

The New England Patriots are a team claims not to care about statistics or individual goals. AS a fan of this team from birth, I can attest that whether the team has cared about breaking records or not, they have never had a player like Tom Brady and until this decade, were certainly not breaking records of any sort.
Like the good team player he is, Brady shrugs off questions about the passing records he may set this season. Regardless of the team mantras and "company lines," if you will, I actually find this sort of surprising. Why? Tom Brady already has three Super Bowl rings; would it not be fair for him to get some acclaim for himself? Surely the Patriots wouldn't be where they are right now without Brady and quite frankly, while I want to see the team win another title, I'm going to be greedy and say that I also want this guy to win some awards and set some records. I'm so sick of hearing how great Peyton Manning is - not that he isn't, but I think it's time for him to step aside - likewise for Dan Marino. In 1984, Marino set the single season passing record with 5084 yards. After 11 games Brady has 3439 yards and would need to average an astonishing 329 yards over the next five games to break the record. Although it's a long shot, just look at this past Sunday when Brady passed for over 360 yards in what was not his best game. More likely to be broken is the record for touchdown passes in a single season. While Marino held this record for two decades, Manning set the new standard with 49. After 11 games, Brady seems in the drivers seat with 39. While he only had one in the last game against the Eagles, don't expect Randy Moss to be covered so well the rest of the season - he's too good and so is Wes Welker. So while most are willing to bet that Brady will break the TD record and the single season passing percentage record, I will go out on a limb (sort of) and say that he will add the single season passing yardage record and single season QB passer rating record. And then after the season, perhaps voters will look to someone other than Manning as the league MVP, but then again, Brady doesn't and won't do TV commercials.

Get the right orthopedic surgeon

The key to healthy joints for many of us is an active lifestyle, but as we age, even those of us with well-balanced exercise routines begin to feel pain. When your pain starts to localize in the joints, in can mean anything from arthritis to ligament damage. And while age will certainly play a factor in what surgical procedures are available to each individual, it is extremely important that whether you need a hip of knee replacement, you get an orthopedic surgeon with the not only a great reputation, but the most experience and dedicated staff.

Will 14 be a charm for Jim Rice?

With the 2008 Baseball Hall of Fame recently announced, there are some familiar faces to go along with the 11 new candidates. For Boston fans, no player is mosre recognizable than Jim Rice. While the Boston Red Sox slugger has come close several times, including leading the ballots of non-electees last season, but some feel that while he was a great player, his numbers don't add up to a Hall induction. Rice, the 1978 AL MVP, batted .298 in his career and hit 382 home runs.
While most players from his era are often heard from, Rice is still an integral part of Red Sox Nation as a host of NESN's pre and post game shows along with Tom Caron. And with 2 years left to somehow get voted in, the odds may be against him, but there are still many pulling for his election.

Book a great ski trip!

Booking vacations can be somewhat of a hassle if you try and piece things together from air to hotel to care rental, but it’s important to understand that if you take a just a little time, you can easily do everything at once and get complete vacation packages to include airfare, Hotel Reservations, and car rentals. Using HotelReservations.com can not only save you tons of money is deals and rebates, but they have price guarantees and some really neat packages to destinations like Breckenridge, Colorado and Park City, Utah.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Have fun with Smorty

So I think I established yesterday that I’m not exactly optimistic about my chances for the Publishers Clearing House jackpot, but just because I am a little skeptical doesn’t mean I’ve given up hope! Quite frankly thought, I’ve been thinking a lot about finance these days and how important it is to earn and save money, regardless of whether it’s from doing small things online from time to time or whether you rely on your actual day job.
In case any of you have missed the recent mercurial trip of the stock market, we have a very unsteady economy and whereas I still have consumer confidence, I value fiscal responsibility. That said, I do like to ear a few extra bucks on the side from my normal job and connecting bloggers and advertisers is a perfect way to do so. I highly urge anyone who has a blog to get involved with Smorty and have some fun writing short opinion pieces while you advertise on blogs. Nope, you won’t get rich and there will be no prize patrol, but it’s pretty fun and the extra money won’t hurt around the holiday season.

The writers go on strike so the tennis balls will fly!

It's not secret that I'm a fan of the 80's. I loved the clothes and the music. Hell, I even loved much of the TV, but some shows were either cancelled or sent off to obscurity for a reason - a reason that NBC has apparently overlooked.
Although it's pretty hard for any network to try to line up original programing when they all of a sudden don't have new episodes of their current line up, but I would think that contingency plans would be key...
...So am I the only one that think NBC bringing back American Gladiator is pretty silly? Sure, I loved it when I was a kid. The heroes, who were almost portrayed as villains against the underdogs with tennis balls being shot at them - sort of like the mix of game show and reality show, but did we need to bring it back? I guess I'll be fair and wait to see what the other networks bring out for the beginning of 2008, but I'd be surprised if there are some quality shows that haven't gotten a chance, just waiting for the call.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Where's the digital camera when you need it?

What a great long weekend we had up here in Maine at Sunday River ski resort. Cold temperatures allowed for non-stop snowmaking and terrain expansion, lots of friends were buzzing around the resort, and the last three days had nothing but bluebird skies. Of course that would be the exact time I would forget to bring my digital camera. While I plan to do a write-up of the Matterhorn Ski Bar, it would have been handy to have had my Canon PowerShot SD620 to capture some of the great and unique images inside. Yes, I can go back and get the same shots of the bar and restaurant, but it was also a great night out with Jules, Bob, and Marcia and it would have been nice to capture the evening on film.
Speaking of my camera, one of the best features I found last year was the video option. Granted, you can’t exactly make a movie and the zooming is a little limited, but Jules and I enjoyed taking turns making small clips of us skiing, which I was able to edit into shorts uploads for YouTube.
As Christmas nears, I’m looking at some new Canon and Nikon cameras as possible upgrades, but after seeing a homemade ski film made of the course of last year and made by my friends Tanya and Walter, I’m seriously considering buying a camcorder so I can make a ski movie of my own. While I was hesitant because I don’t know how to edit, Tanya assured me that the programs are fairly simple and she was able to do everything for East Meets West on her computer. Of course I could always film five minute segments and edit them together with my digital camera as well. Lot of possibilities these days!

Yikes is right!

From a 22-point underdog to almost knocking off the Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles certainly came into Foxboro tonight with a mission. And while I'm happy to see the end result, I have to give props to A.J. Feeley for one heck of a game before the two very costly interceptions. Of course if it wasn't for the nearly perfect pass protection of Randy Moss ALL NIGHT, it would have been a different story, but the Eagles did one hell of a job and you have to respect that.

I could win $10,000,000!

Yeah, so I don't buy lottery tickets or enter many contests, but admittedly I've fallen into the grasp of Ed McMahon and the ongoing saga that is Publisher's Clearing House. You know, those huge envelopes you get in the mail that want you to buy magazines or at the very least, enter their jackpot. Well, several months back, I got an email from ED saying that I might be the winner of $10 million. I don't know Ed very well, but that "Prize Patrol" would be pretty sweet. Suffice to say, I kept getting emails, but have never bought anything, nor will I, but I do continue to submit my entry. It's borderline insane, but I almost think that if I didn't open the email and click continue, then when the have the drawing (which is God only knows when) it would be my number. Ha! I'm not that stupid or gullible, but you never know. I need to get out more!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

First Friday art walk in St. Augustine

My parents first brought me to St. Augustine, Florida when I was around 8-years old. Although I was yet to have a history class regarding European explorers, I had heard the legend that city, said to be the oldest settlement in the America, was home to the Fountain of Youth. Whereas I’m clearly no longer 8-years old, I would be remiss to say that the fountain doesn’t house unique power. People still flock to the city from all ever the world. And yes the Fountain of Youth is just one of the attractions people come to St. Augustine for. Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is home to the Mission of Nombre de Dios, which is believed to be the first permanent mission settlement in the United States. Settled and established by the Spanish, the Mission of Nombre de Dios is also home to Our Lady of La Leche.
So perhaps you’re not very interested in religion and visiting a historical landmark isn’t exactly your idea of a good time on a Friday; how about taking part in a St. Augustine Artwalk. This is something you’ll not want to miss and St. Augustine offers special events the first Friday of every month, when the art galleries, boutiques, and antique stores in the Uptown San Marco Shopping District, are thriving with free sightseeing tours, a free trolley, and free parking. With December 7th still remaining on the 2007 calendar and a near year just around the corner, don’t miss this unique opportunity to celebrate the culture, explore the historic city, and browse the First Friday Weekend Art Walk in beautiful and historic St. Augustine.

I fell for it... kind of...

For those who know me, taking a nap isn't exactly out of the ordinary for me. I tend to work long hours and ski a lot so sleep can be at a premium, but I've never taken a nap in the afternoon on Thanksgiving. Quite frankly, I don't think there is really enough of any chemical in turkey to make me overly tired, but this evening, while spending time with my family, I zonked out. Maybe the Thanksgiving sleepiness is less of an urban legend than I had thought.

What lies in The Mist?

If you haven’t read the novella by The Mist by Stephen King– which I can only assume most viewers have not, given the novella format not being as widely available – you may take a glimpse at tone of the trailers and think that The Mist is another The Fog remake, but rest assured it’s not. While sometimes considered ominous looking on their own, fog and mist have many elemental similarities, but that’s where similarities end regarding storylines.
Something that I’ve always found interesting about works of Stephen King, which I think much of the time goes un-noticed, is that his works are almost always about much more than horror or the supernatural. While he may draw ideas from either of these, like having the mist be some deadly entity, but if you look deeper, you notice that the story is about the human nature of the people trapped inside the supermarket. This isn’t always the case, but look at some his other popular stories such as The Stand, in which we see religion and redemption as central themes of the storyline that just so happens to be intertwined by a plague. In short, The Mist, like other Stephen King stories, is about the fight between good and evil. True, it’s sometimes hard to find the line between the two and The Mist is no different in that regard. The characters are forced to take sides, look into themselves, believe in each other, test faith and religious beliefs.
I can’t say as though I was overly scared watching this, but I loved it. It is classic Stephen King with all the aforementioned creative pieces and yes, there is certainly the fear factor. I can only imagine myself in the situation these people are in. I try to imagine something like this happening and not having a clue if it would end or if indeed the world was coming to an end.

Happy Thanksgiving

While riding a chairlift just after 8:00 am this morning I got a nice chance to reflect on my life and those around me. It's not as though I don't do so often, but this time was seemingly different and quite frankly didn't have anything to do with the holiday. I'm generally a gracious and thankful person, or at least I try to be.
With a gentle mist falling and the chair gliding slowly through a low-lying fog bank, I could see different sections of the mountain at different times and everything was white. While we've only seen a few inches of natural snow, the flat light and massive amounts of man made snow of the trails and in the trees provided an almost mystical illusion of a winter wonderland... in November. Okay so such imagery might be kink of hard to imagine with the weather most of us have seen, but that isn't the point anyway. The point is that I was keenly aware of everything around me and was so at peace that I just couldn't help but be thankful. And while I wasn't creating a list in my head of the things I am thankful for, I was content with just being thankful in general.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tactical polo shirts are pretty cool!

Whether you’re in law enforcement, hunting in the great outdoors, or are a volunteer first responder, you need to have long lasting and durable clothes and equipment. At 511 Tactical Outdoors you’ll find everything from Tactical Polo Shirts to Galco holsters. Almost all orders can be shipped within 24 hours and many qualify for free shipping.

Even if it only lasted a couple of hours...

The first snow in Portland is always magical, especially when it falls at night in the crisp air, but Mother Nature has her own plans and today she decided that even though it wasn't quite freezing in Portland or anywhere on the coast, it snowed for a couple hours and even stuck a little.
Yes, it has snowed in the mountains and was last weekend when I was there, but being almost two hours south and at sea-level, snow in November isn't as common as some may think. And while the forecast calls for the type of precipitation that doesn't freeze, I'll keep dreaming of snow!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Optimize your shopping cart software

About a week ago I began my holiday shopping for the year and while I may not have gotten very far as of yet in terms of how many people I purchased gifts for, I’ve done something that would have been unheard of a decade ago and yet now isn’t even considered unique. I’ve made all my purchases online. Interestingly, I bought from about five different sites and all five were different from the ease of navigation to the actual checkout process. It’s no doubt that the Internet has come a long way from the original days of eBay and with such progress, online sellers need to get the most out of their website and optimize the shopping experience to get more customers and retain the one they have. Ecommerce Software is revolutionizing the tools available to sellers of all sorts. The Shopping Cart Software available makes credit card processing easy and there are no transaction fees. The bottom line there is that you can maximize your earnings when you don’t have to shell out an additional percentage for fees. Additionally, Network Solutions has a vast selection of store front web site options so you can customize the look of your store, but perhaps the selling point for me is that unlike other ecommerce software, Network Solutions offers customer support 24 hours a day and every day of the week. Whether you need a whole online website store or are just looking for software to interface with your existing website or auction site for shopping cart solutions, Network Solutions has a package for you.

Lowell signs a 3-year deal with Boston

Millions of Red Sox fans including myself let out a collective sigh of relief today as it was announced that World Series MVP Mike Lowell re-signed with Boston for 3 years and $37.6 million. While Lowell may have been looking for 4 years, he also indicated that he wanted to be in Boston. And I won't lie, when Hank and Hal started waiving around cash in the hopes that Lowell would re-join the New York club that drafted him, I wouldn't have been surprised. Not because of the money, but a 4-year deal at a less demanding position with his original team may have been attractive, but over the last two years it has become very clear that Lowell has developed some relationships with players, coaches, and obviously fans in Boston that may have been one of the driving forces. Whereas I can't speak for all Boston fans, I am happy to have Lowell back, not because I think he'll put up the the numbers he did this year, but rather because he is one of the best guys to be around all the young talent that the Sox have. Thanks Mike!

The search for Lewis and Clark along Oregon's coast

Being from Maine, I am very familiar with the ocean from long sandy beaches to rocky bluffs. Since my youth, I have seen pictures of the Pacific Northwest and almost thought of its’ coast as a sister to the one we enjoy in Maine. Nestled between northern California and Washington state; Oregon’s coastline is nothing short of breathtaking and more and more people are discovering the Oregon coast as a vacation destination.
While relaxing in luxury condominium or rented home is a wonderful and peaceful way to spend a vacation during any season whatsoever, the Oregon coast is close to hundred of educational, historical, and sightseeing opportunities. Regardless of where you choose to stay on one of your oregon beach vacations, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway provides access to some of the most astonishing towns and villages in the state. If you’re looking for a historical perspective, take a drive to Astoria. The area encompassing Astoria and Warren, just across the Columbia River is not only the oldest settlement west of the Rocky Mountains but also the very end of the famous Lewis and Clark Trail. Rejuvenated towns like Astoria are beautiful in any season, but especially the traditional Christmas and New Years vacation weeks when these towns offer vibrant celebrations of the holidays.

And to think, people really do care

After a long day on the slopes Saturday, I was pondering the temptation of a nap as Jules flipped through the channels in her condo. Late afternoons after skiing I rarely question what is on the TV as I do normally nap; however, I have to say that I really was taken aback by what I saw that day. Now, it's not like I haven't seen a little E network now and again, but the fact that there was a reality show about the daily lives of the family of one of the dead attorneys for O.J. Simpson, really blew me away. Who cares? I wondered, but obviously tons of people do. Don't get me wrong, there was some funny stuff, but it wasn't anything different than watching coverage of any celeb of Inside Edition. It just so happens to be a different set of faces, but the situations are the same.

Now later in the evening, Jules was again surfing and came across Mobile Home Disasters on CMT. I'm not really sure how much I can say about this without the chance of offending a large chunk of society, but perhaps the fact that the host were making fun of the people on it is some indication of the content.

I'm glad I skied most of the day and we switched over to some of my DVDs later...

Looking for a fountain to spruce things up?

While the housing market may be struggling, potential sellers will be looking for ways to increase the value of their homes while others are looking to spruce up their backyards and gardens. Wall Fountains can be used indoors or out. Garden-Fountains.com has a wide selection of all types of fountains for simple to install wall fountains to garden fountains for every style and taste.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Harold Alfond leaves a long legacy of giving


Born in 1914, Harold Alfond, one of Maine's most well-known and beloved benefactors passed away on Friday. Several of Maine's colleges and universities were honored with sizable donations by the founder and former owner of Dexter Shoe. Quite frankly, it's hard to imagine sports in Maine without the contributions this man made, which totalled well into the multi-millions of dollars. Alfond was also a former part owner of the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps the most significant of his donations was the one that created Alfond Arena. (show above) In 1977, The University of Maine was ready to make the jump to Division 1 Men's Ice Hockey. Alfond's generous donation enabled the university to build the original arena with 3,500 seats and later expand to 5,500. Two national titles later, it is one of the most feared home ice arenas in all of college hockey. Along with several other structures on the Orono campus, Alfond also contributed sports facilities and educational centers to St. Joseph's College, The University of New England, Husson College, and Colby College. Harld Alfond's legacy will live on and his passion for sports in the state of Maine will be fondly remembered.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Business Card 2.0

Bloggers are constantly trying to find ways to promote their site. I too, fall into this category and while I don’t depend on mine for a source of income other than a few bucks here and there, it’s still good to get your name out and have people read your work. Interestingly enough, in a time when almost everything has become digital, Ooprint.com has come out with the “Business Card 2.0” and wants to test it out on you. This is a great opportunity to get Free blogger cards to promote your work and your site!

Off to another weekend in the mountains...

...and while I may or may not have access to a computer, I'll be thinking about some things I want to write about (While I ski!!) and the finalization of my own weekly project that I mentioned a few weeks back. Nope, I'm not having a contest and it won't be wordless, but I do want my cancelled/defunct TV show review series to be on one specific day each week. So I'll be thinking of a gimmick, but if anyone has a suggestion, please let me know. Yours, Jerry

Finding holiday gifts for children

If you’re at all like me, you struggle when it comes to choosing gifts for the little ones in the family. Having two nieces and a nephew, I know I’ll have my hands full trying to decide the right gifts that will please both them and their parents. One place I found interesting is Identity Direct, which has over 500 Personalized Gifts for Children. They’ve got everything from Disney to Sesame Street and are well worth the visit.

My addiction to Survivor

Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but for one reason or another, I’ve become somewhat addicted to Survivor. Now in it’s like 10th season, this is only the second one I’ve watched and quite frankly, when I’d heard about it previously, I couldn’t understand for the life of me why this show would still be on the air. The about a year ago, there was an office game that played along with the show’s then current season. I drew a name from a hat and got a guy who ended up winning.
While I didn’t even know this season had begun until about a month ago, I quickly tuned in to see if I still like it and I found myself captivated by it. I realize that it is like the same stuff over and over, but for some reason, perhaps anthropological or societal, people are drawn to the characters and like in the show, we choose favorites and sides.
I haven’t decided if this makes me a loser or not, but who cares? It’s fun and it’s fluff TV, which I think is a good way to wind down after a long day. Last night I chose to watch while I conquered my own challenge on the elliptical machine and found that the hour workout went by really fast. My favorites on the show for this season would be Eric and Amanda. Eric ‘cause I just think he’s got a realistic style. Amanda ‘cause, well, do I really need to say? I mean she’s good at playing the game!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Do some homework before playing online

While I may not be much of a gambler, I have been known to play a slot machine or two and sometimes even sit down to a friendly game of blackjack when I’m in Lake Tahoe, but for the most part, casino style gambling is not an option for me where I live unless I go online. I would offer a couple of pieces of advice prior to partaking in online poker or any other online casino style game. First, make sure that it’s legal in your state and second, head on over to Pro360.com before choosing a site or sites to play your hand. Pro360.com reviews over 3000 online casino sites and has some very helpful information. The two aspects that are of most interest to me are what other gamers think of the site and what the sign-up bonus is. Reviews from other players lend credibility and a hefty sign-up bonus and brighten-up you winnings or indeed pad your losses. Whether you’re a avid gambler or just want to give it a shot, having the best information in hand is always a smart bet.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parking Revenge


People who know me would probably describe me as a bit of an A## at times. I won't shy away from it, it's true. I often tell it like it is, speak my mind, say honest things others are afraid to, and every now and again I may be a little offensive... None of that withstanding, I am respectful of most people and things, just so long as they are respectful in kind; however, when someone does something just stupid, I can't help myself sometimes. (I'm really a nice guy... really! This weekend was one instance.
So Jules and I were arriving back at her place at Sunday River nearing eleven pm on Saturday after making a surprise in Cape Eliz for her mothers' bday party. Sure, it had been a super-long day with skiing, tons of driving, and even more chatting, but nothing prepared me for what I saw as I pulled into the parking lot behind the condo building. Now, being the very beginning of ski season, there were practically no cars in the lot, but the lot still has a parking protocol to be followed - you don't park in loading spots or handicapped spots whether there are cars in the lot or not and you certainly don't park your car or truck along the edge of the lot in a perpendicular manner. If you park along the edge, you either back in or drive the front end of your car facing the edge, but NOT perpendicular; that's just taking at least two places - empty lot or not.
So when we drive in, some guy had parked in this manner with his truck, apparently having the idea that he or she would just jump into the truck and drive right out of the spot. Right, 'cause whomever this guy is, he owns the lot.
Bringing Jules' car to a stop about halfway into the lot, I looked at her, not knowing whether she'd seen the offender, and said, "I'm sorry, but I have to do this." I then proceeded to pull right in front of this guys' truck and blocked it from pulling right out. No. I didn't block him in. All he had to do was back up and then pull out, but a point had to be made.
It probably had a lot more to do with a lack of sleep than it did with the actual situation, but Jules and I couldn't stop laughing. The next morning Jules snapped a shot of the offender with her car parked strategically in front. Priceless!

Stock up on great online deals in North Carolina

NCNatural.com is one of the most comprehensive resources for everything that is North Caroline. A great site for travelers and vacationers, NCNatural.com has partnered with hundreds merchants to offer some of the best Coupon Codes possible. The site is updated daily to reflect the constant commitment to its visitors and those who live in North Carolina. Why not some of the bargains they offer for Sierra Trading Post and Eddie Bauer, especially if your in the mood to get outside this winter.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Was Beckett robbed of the Cy Young?

Interesting question. Josh Beckett was the only twenty game winner in the major leagues this past season and he got out-voted by a wide margin for the Cy Young award, given annually to the best pitcher in each league as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Collecting almost two-thirds of the votes was the Cleveland Indians' C.C. Sabathia. Yes, the same Sabathia who was shelled in the playoffs against the Red Sox. The same Sabathia who lost to Josh Beckett in both post season games this year. The Same Sabathia, who having pitched almost 40 more innings, had one less win than Beckett.
As interesting as those figures are, only one of them matters at all in terms of this votes. You see voters cannot take playoffs into consideration as this is a regular season award. In fact, the ballots are cast on the eve of the playoffs. There is little doubt that if the playoffs counted, Beckett wouldn't have been denied, but lets not forget who got the ring at the end of the day.
As I sat down to write this thought long and hard about whether I was actually bitter about the award and quite frankly I'm not. C.C. Sabathia is one hell of a pitcher and might face Boston again next year in the playoffs - we've seen how he does under pressure. Josh Beckett is another great pitcher and may get a shot to make it three in a row against the tribe next October - we've seen how he does under pressure, too.
And yet that match-up wold make Fox a little giddy, Red Sox Nation has something else to look forward to - an already great number one starter who has a chip on his shoulder and might just want to settle the score next season. So while folks might think the voters took something away from Beckett; they're only half right. The writers might have just fueled an already fiercely competitive man.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It might not be snowing where you are...


...and it isn't here in Maine either, but thanks to some much desired cold temps, the snowmmakers at Sunday River have done a hell of job getting the mountain open and expanding terrain. I thought I would share a nice shot from the top of Locke Mountain with a view towards Mount Washington Valley. Enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 2007

All things in time

So I wrote a post a little while back about the watch my girlfriend bought for me while in Paris and I wanted to sort of update that because I have to be honest, the Mickey watch has decided to have a little life left and therefore I have yet to don the new one. Now that ski season is here, I will probably switch over as Mickey will not withstand the cold weather. I do kind of like having two watches, though. The watch that Jules bought is kind of sporty and is pretty much perfect for the slopes or tennis, and while I am totally not taking the gift for granted, I wouldn’t mind picking up something that would look snazzy at work. Being a sailor, I have always had a fondness for Tag Heuer, which is a featured watch at J.R. Dunn Jewelers. Perhaps not as recognizable in the sailing world, but certainly worth its’ worldwide reputation, Baume Mercier has several models featured at J.R. Dunn. For now, it’s Mickey and my new watch. I haven’t named it yet, but all things in time…

A sad state of affairs in high school sports

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about playing sports for the love of the participation and passion for the games. When I wrote that I was unaware of something that happened in my home state of Maine that really has me sad.
Granted, rules are important in sports. When you break the rules, you get punished, but at the same time, rules are established for a reason. Some are based on situational factors while others are set up to stop something from possibly happening. We have increasing seen different sport almost re-write their rule books to allow for interpretation of rules that have particular areas of grey. This is one of those rules that certainly should have been better evaluated prior to acting upon…
In late October, the Massabesic Mustangs’ Girls Cross Country team was competing in the Maine State Championships when they encountered “Rule 4, Section 5, Article 8-c of the National Federation rulebook prohibits: Competitors joining or grasping hands with each other during a race.”
At the end of the 23-minute race two of Massabesic’s runners were about to finish 5th and 6th in the race. While the team already had two top-ten finishers, a Class A State Championship was all theirs; and then freshman Nicole Smith took the hand of teammate and senior, Kendra Johnson. After crossing the finish line, both competitors were disqualified and Massabesic High School fell from 1st to 4th overall.
When asked about the disqualification, Massabesic Coach Mark Crepeau said, “There was no intent to help. Their intent was to congratulate each other because the race was over." And the coach has a point. The rule in question was established so runners couldn’t band together and block other runners from passing. There were no runners approaching Smith and Johnson.
Sadly, the Massabesic team lost what should have been a title for them and a shot at the New England Championships being held this weekend. Even sadder is that none of the other teams had a problem with the disqualification even though the situation was clear.
Nicole Smith and Kendra Johnson are competitors who celebrated the spirit of competition on that day and they were penalized for their love of both the sport and the concept of being a teammate.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Explore the wonders of New York City

It would be hard to imagine the United States without thinking of New York City. While not the country’s capitol, or even the state’s, New York City is arguably the center of America’s cultural world. As writers, we know of New York as the Mecca for traditional literary publication. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island illicit thought of the millions of immigrants who came to our country to live the American dream. Its’ sports teams – past and present – are storied in history and a source of pride to the eight million who live in the five boroughs.
New York was the first city in the modern world to truly explore the concept of building up instead of out and through such exploration, skyscrapers such as the Chrysler Building and The Empire State Building were erected and stand tall today. And like the European cultural centers of London, Paris, and Rome, New York City is full of some of the best museums and tourists attractions in the world. One of my favorite places to visit is The Metropolitan Museum of Art, fondly known as the Met. With over 33,000 objects, the museum’s collection has Egyptian pottery dating to 3700 BC, extensive collections of artifacts from the Far East, medieval Europe, and the most sought after collections of American history. With the New York CityPass you’ll gain access to site seeing tours, the city’s amazing architecture, and of course the museums like the Met.

Sunday River opened for the season a day early!

Upstaging perennial rival and "family member," Sugarloaf/USA, Sunday River Resort, Maine, officially opened full time for the 2007-2008 season at 11:30 today.
While Sunday River had opened for one day on Halloween, most don't consider a resort to be open for the season unless they stay continuously open, therefore, the Halloween opening doesn't really count as Sunday River's opening. Why is this important? Quite frankly, it really isn't in the grand scheme of things, but bragging rights are always the banter of forums and bar stools.
After a long period as king of early openings and late closings, Killington, VT - now operated by POWDR Corp, decided to not even attempt an early opening this year, which is the first time in decades. While this opened the door for Sunday River, who had all along intended to open no later than November 9th, it was recently announced that Sugarloaf would also open on the 9th, bumping up their opening by a week. Not to be outdone by its' sister resort, the mountain operations crew at Sunday River resume snowmaking operations yesterday afternoon and were able to lay down enough snow for today's opening on one trail and one lift.
For the time being, skiing and riding is for advanced only and downloading is required on the Locke triple. So if you're not an expert, please think twice about getting on the lift. No, the terrain is not normally overwhelming, but early season skiing and riding is not easy and a lot of people end up walking down slopes and getting injured. For the full story on this and other alpine news, check out the good folks at Alpine Zone for the lastest updates.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ever thought of memory foam for your mattress?

I increasingly heat radio advertisements for sleeping solutions. Now I haven’t quite figured out what a “sleeping solution” is, but admittedly, I often have trouble sleeping and might be interested in getting in on the fun. Nope, I don’t want to be a lab rat and test some weird new product, but I have often raised a curious eye when watching TV and seeing commercials for memory foam beds. Sure, the people pretending to be sleeping are paid to smile while they appear to be sleeping, but that surely doesn’t mean that memory foam doesn’t work.
There are currently two companies that offer identical NASA-developed HD (higher density) foam technology bed systems. I’ll be honest, I’ve never even laid on one of these mattresses, but I know many folks who swear by them. The technology relieves pressure & stress while conforming to every contour of your body. This isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer hard beds while others like beds with pillow-tops on them. It’s obviously a point of preference, but I have heard that these memory foam mattresses are recommended by many physicians. The catch is that they are expensive – much more than buying a regular mattress and box spring, but given that we spend so much of our life sleeping, or trying to at least, perhaps it’s an investment worth making. Who knows? Maybe I’ll head out to the mall area this weekend and check out some tempurpedic mattresses. If everything I hear is correct, it could be worth the drive.

Did you vote? Do you wish you did?

Yes, I mentioned this the other day as I was referring to voter apathy and did so for a reason - I think it's an important topic and an important constitutional right. So anyway, I stopped into the grocery store last night and while I was checking out, the two ladies working the front end were talking about the local elections, bonds, etc. They were upset about some of the proposals and how if one had passed, their taxes would go up. And then one of them asks the other, "Did you vote today?"
Lady number two replied, "No."

Enough said...

Who's gonna pay for all the time off?

It’s funny ‘cause I was just commenting on someone’s page about American’s needing to take more time off from work, and now I’m going to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and talk about the British. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the Brits, but you guys take more holidays than the French. Well, close at least. So I sort of figured if anyone needed payday loans, you might be the most viable candidates. Yes, I’m showing my jealousy. I want 8 weeks of vacation time a year!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

No real surprise here - Kevin Youkalis wins first Gold Glove!

I'll update this with more info a little later, but I wanted to note that Kevin Youkalis became Boston's newest Gold Glove winner. Youkalis, who did not have an error in 2007, is the first Red Sox Gold Glove winner since Jason Varitek won a few years back. Mike Lowell won a Gold Glove while with Florida. IN more unfortunate new, Coco Crisp came in forth in voting for a Gold Glove given to the top 3 vote getters in the outfield. Of the three that won GGs, only Tori Hunter had a better play percentage, but votes are votes and popularity is a big part of it. Oh well, congrats to YOUK!

A surprise out of Boston

I call it a surprise 'cause quite frankly, I thought Curt Schilling would not pitch his final season in Boston. Of course I'm not the only one and even he had been sending his goodbye letters. Granted, Schilling had previously requested one year for $13 million, which was a pipe dream - not only coming from the Red Sox, but perhaps anyone given his age and lack of once powerful fastball, but I think the Red Sox decided that regardless of his regular season mediocrity the past couple of years, Schilling is still a big game pitcher that can rise to the occasion. With a 6 & 2 post-season record, the Sox might want him for that reason alone. They figure that come next October, they'll again be in the playoffs. Now comes the odd part of the deal: The Red Sox are signing Schilling for $8 million in base pay for a possible $2 million if he meets a series of weigh-ins. So if he meets his incentives, it's $3 million less than he asked for before the season, but probably that much more than anyone else would have given him, except perhaps the Yankees and he already made it clear he wouldn't pitch in New York. So it sounds like they want him around for October and hell, if they make it to the playoffs again, he should be nice and trim!
Looking a little further into this deal, it has far less to do with what happens on the mound with him than it does with his knowledge and ability to teach Boston's young prospects. I'm glad Curt will retire a Red Sox; he is one of the big reasons we no longer have a curse!

10 top ranked web hosting sites in one spot!

I constantly hear form folks who are moving on form their current web hosting site for various reasons. Many take the step from a free site to a platform that allows them more control over their pages and domains. So if you’re currently using Blogger and want to take your site to the next level, you need to find the hosting site that best suits your needs. Top 10 Web Hosting has numerous plans and platforms from Yahoo to VistaPages. One of the better deals you’ll find is hostmonster, which allows you to have unlimited domains at no extra charge. Whereas this may be a little above my needs, for those of you with 5 or 6 blogs, this could be a great deal.

Have you done your civic duty today?

As posted a few days back, I think it's important for people to get out and vote whenever there are issues being put in front of us as voters. I sincerely hope that it you are a registered voter, you have considered voting, or have in fact voted. Quite frankly, I am tried of hearing complaints about our state of affairs et al, only to find out the person didn't vote when they got the chance. Voter apathy is pathetic. That's just my opinion.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Get the best online car quotes before you buy

With the instability of the national economy, buyers in the United States are weary. Many are watching their mortgage rates climb and others are worried about the see-saw ride that is the New York Stock Exchange. While the Federal Reserve has just dropped interested rates again, some are worried about recession, while others are more concerned with the strong possibility of inflation. This has translated to horrible 3rd quarter results in the auto industry, but might mean great things for consumers in the market for a new car. I kind of wish I hadn’t bought a car two years ago when I see the falling prices for new cars today. Prudent car shoppers needn’t let car dealerships talk them into a sale when it can be the other way around. Yet before you start getting quotes on new cars, why not get online and do your homework. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you find when you look for Honda, Toyota & Ford Car Quotes. The best deals of the century may be on the horizon. Don’t miss out.