Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The holidays are trying to sabotage me

I took all these pictures this afternoon in our office. And this is really the second round of treats from clients and vendors. I've managed to be very good. I only had some mini Reese's cups. I dropped 2.4 more pounds this week making my grand total 19.8. I missed my next star by .2 lbs. So I figure I'll get it next week.

Toledo's nearly done

This is a picture of the living room, fresh with carpet. We're nearly done. Hurray!!!


See that dot at the end of the ramp? That's Joan - graduating from Kent State University. She had "I know you're proud Dad" written on her mortar board. Which made everyone tear up because we know that Dad is proud of her.

There were some dramatic moments as one of the undergrads fainted as we went to get her diploma and fainted again once she got it. I told Joan she should've fainted because that girl got the most applause.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Popcorn tins

Thought of Dad today when we saw this display of popcorn gift tins at Office Max. Had the price been right he would've bought at least half the palette. I remember having to push one of his two carts filled with these at Kmart one year.

He didn't really like the popcorn all that much but he used them as gift for Bingo. We would buy TONS of this stuff. And the best part was the cashiers would always look at us strange and make some comment like "I know what you're family's getting for Christmas" or "Wow you really like popcorn." Dad would just smile and nod. He'd never tell them what it was for. I think he really liked them not knowing. We went through the same thing with hot dogs and hot dog buns. Fairly often, we'd buy 20 lbs of hot dogs (always the cheapest) to stock the Bingo concession stand and the clerk would say "Looks like quite a barbecue." Dad would just say "yep" and smile.

But the popcorn tins were always more embarassing because they always took more than one cart. Which is why you never wanted to go shopping with Dad after the holidays to hit all the clearance sales although I suppose that was better than winning a year old tin of popcorn next year at Bingo.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2 more pounds bite the dust

I lost 2. Mariella beat me losing 3.4. So now it's on.

I'm going to DDR until I puke.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nobody thought this was a bad idea?

I read an article in Brandweek about the worst brand extensions of the year. I'm shocked by what gets the green light.

The most appalling is the Precious Moments line of funeral urns and caskets.

Also making the list was Hooters brand energy drinks. Which led to the brea- uh, I mean best quote in the article:
“Hooters doesn’t stand for energy. It stands for boobs and chicken,” said
Laura Ries, president of Ries & Ries brand consultancy, Atlanta.

She's right. I also enjoyed the Bumblebee Prime Filet Chicken Breasts. I wonder if the tagline is "The chicken that tastes like tuna" or "The Chicken of the land."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More press still

I appear in this month's issue of Inside Business.

The photo they used could be my "before" photo when I'm doing Subway spots when I'm skinny.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dropping pounds like a bad habit.

I hit 15.4 lbs. in total weight loss today. Pretty good if I do say so myself.

I keep annoying the women at the meeting because the leader keeps asking me how it's going and I always tell him that it's going well. And he asks me if I'm feeling hungry and I always tell him "no." And then I tell them that I have so many points. And there's a lot of hissing and murmuring. The groups average is probably somewhere in the mid-20s worth of points a day and I get 39. So I'm rarely hungry and that makes the women jealous.

Also we learned today that we're not the only ones that mildly pig out immediately after the weigh-ins. One lady says she always goes to get a double cheeseburger and fries. We usually hit Chipotle. But we're staying within our points. I've been very pleased with how flexible the program is.

I'm not as much of the man that I once was.

Monday, November 26, 2007


As of this posting the video tribute to me has only received 4 views.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Snow end in sight

I guess we're waiting for spring.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wasting away

I'm down another 4.8 lbs. I got another star at the meeting tonite (we didn't really attend the meeting. We weighed in and left) I was kind of freaked out that the woman wanted to give me a name tag. Then again I could've given her an awesome name like "Chubby McBurger" or "Gary Gastric."

After the meeting we went to Olive Garden - for soup and salad. Only when I got home I learned the pasta fagioli was 12 points a bowl and I had 2!!! Thank goodness I get a lot of points. And then we bought a pie - not for us, mind you.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More press

Here's a write-up for an award I'm receiving tonight.

Here's the tribute the guys at work created for me.

And here's a blog entry about the video.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

No clean-up yet.

Also fake spiderwebs (that we assumed were just Halloween decorations) are still on the bushes in the front yard.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You can call me "Slim"

Mariella and I started doing Weight Watchers last week. The meetings were a bit strange at first. Sort of like an overzealous church group meeting but instead of God we were talking about weight loss. My natural sarcasm sense kept tingling through the whole meeting. Our leader, Carl, has been a member for 35 years and has lost 200 pounds. But by the end of the first meeting I really kind of enjoyed the chubby camraderie.

It really seems that I'm eating more than I did before because I have to keep track of everything including portion size. I get way more "points" than Mariella, so I'm always looking for something to eat. But apparently it works as I dropped 6 lbs. the first week. Which is awesome. I'm kind of disappointed that we have to go to a different meeting next week because I have an awards reception to go to.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Very specific

Apparently, the Parmatown Giant Eagle was tired of customers constantly being unable to find the gerbil food.

Another Marc's find

Creepy on many levels.


I own an old house in Toledo that we're rehabbing in order to sell. It's a duplex that was built in 1925. I had some radiators burst a couple of years ago and we've been working on the house ever since. So I was up there by myself from Thursday evening through Saturday morning doing some work. I was sanding and restaining some woodwork where there was previously one of the original radiators. I found a scrap of paper between the wall and molding.

I didn't think much of it. Until a little further down the wall I found this one:

Now, I'm not easily spooked. I've spent two nights inside a haunted prison. Macho man, blah, blah, blah. But when I found myself in this old house by myself my mind can run a little wild - and I started thinking that the noise of the sander is disturbing the spirit realm. I'm not even sure I believe in ghosts but this freaked me out a bit. But I really needed to get this stuff done. So I figured that I have Dad on my side in any supernatural, paranormal battle royale.

I kept sanding and came across these:

It seems I was just cleaning up after some kid who's probably now approaching retirement.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cap'n Chloe

Arrrrrrr, i'm an annoying pirate

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Last Wednesday night, Mom and I went to a dinner honoring Dad. He was inducted into the Cleveland CYO hall of fame. It was a nice evening (though a bit long. It started at 6:00. We didn't get home until 10.) The recipients were all invited to say a few words after their induction. Mom wrote something and said that if she couldn't finish it I would have to. I said that was fine. I used to be terrified of speaking to large groups. Ad Fed cured me of that. Now I kind of enjoy it. Believe it or not I like an audience. Anyways. Terry Flanagan introduced Dad and said a ton of great things about him and I lost it. I struggled to hold back tears without much luck. Mom got up there and read her piece as though it was nothing while I held the plaque whimpering. I'm glad she kept it together because I sure didn't. I didn't really expect that rush of emotion. It was pride and sadness. I still miss him everyday. Many of the other inductees came over and shared stories about dad. I'm still amazed at how many lives he touched. I'm also continually amazed at how mom rises to every occasion.

The Eagle has Landed a hundred bucks

I won the "best effort" category at work. The prize was $100. That was the prize in every category. They gave best of show to two girls that dressed up as two women from the movie "best of show."

I don't really care but unoriginal Halloween costumes really steam my beans. It's not creative if it's someone else's creation. I don't think it's creative if you're dressing up as someone else's creation. Every year someone dresses up like a SNL actor or something. I don't think it's amusing or clever. Just like you're not funny (or funnier) if you can quote lines from Austin Powers or whatever the crappy comedy of the moment is.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Neighbor's yard - as awesome as ever

The neighbor's backyard is just as awesome as ever. Fortunately, they put up some Halloween decorations in the front so now the whole yard resembles a hellhole.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More eagle awesomeness

You can see my entry here.

And here are some additional shots:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Suitable for framing

Eagles are Awesome!

And so is my halloween costume. In case you can't figure it out, I'm a bald eagle
It's for this contest.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Been a while

I have been SUPER BUSY lately. Here's the haps:
1. The push is on to get Toledo done and sold. So we've been driving the turnpike alot - SIDE STORY: B-I-L Mike was nice enough to come up one weekend and he shared a great tip he learned at work for when you find yourself telling a story that you realize isn't really going anywhere. Simply add the phrase "and then I found $20." Try it. People forget all about the crappy story you were telling up top. Kristen uses it well in one of her posts.
2. I've been getting interviewed by a bunch of media folks. More on that at a later date.
3. We had our clambake. It was a good time.
4. Watching Indians games. Stupid Indians.
5. Been busy at work which is good.
6. Been busy with my AAF-Cleveland duties.

They Might Be Darkness

More phone cleaning goodness. This is They Might Be Giants playing in the dark at the Beachland Ballroom because they blew a fuse. They're playing Particle Man.

Minimum pricing

Cleaning out the photos on my phone. I saw this on vacation in the Poconos. I've never seen this selling technique. Got 99 cents? Don't bother coming in here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Still looking good.

Neighbor's yard overgrown with awesomeness.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Life on the on-ramp

I saw this yesterday on my way home. Someone has pitched a tent in the grassy area right off 14th st and carnegie between the on-ramps to I-90 and I-77. I wonder what their story is.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Garage Sale of the Century

We put Jill to work promoting our garage sale. We also thought she died that day while sitting on some the merch - she's 15. Turns out she's just a VERY sound sleeper. We made some cash but more importantly cleaned out a good portion of the crap we've collected.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bug off, Yankees!

I was at the game with the Rally Bugs vs. the Yankees. It was awesome.

I was decked out in my shirt reading "Wrong Hat, LeBron." My section went nuts whenever I walked up the steps. I must've high-fived at least 100 people and several took my photos. And word has it that LeBron showed up in Shanghai in a Tribe cap.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


They drained the water. The pool's still there.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ticketmaster should be illegal

I never really enjoyed Pearl Jam. I did however enjoy their stance on Ticketmaster. (Which is a pretty apt name, seeing as how we're all it's slaves.) But I guess they moved on to other causes. Here's the deal:

Tribe's going to the post-season. Yay!
We're trying to buy tickets to game two of the ALDS. Yay!
They (I presume MLB) jacked the prices up for the playoffs - which I can deal with. So the seats in the nosebleed section that cost $7 are now $30.
Then TM screws us for another $6 fee per ticket. (multiply that by the Jake's occupancy of approx. 43,000 and TM makes a quarter mil a game!!! For what? Simply b/c they can.

Then to get the tickets, there's no option for the good 'ol will-call window. You can have them UPSed, mailed or print your own - and each one of those has a fee. The cheapest being print your own at $2. Two freaking dollars to use my ink and paper?! WTF?

Then on top of that there's a handling and convenience fee of $3.35 FOR TICKETS THAT DON'T PHYSICALLY EXIST UNTIL WE PRINT THEM?! It's all computerized no one is even handling and it sure as hell isn't convenient for me. What are they doing with the $6 per ticket fee?

So our 8 tickets to Game 2 of the Division Series cost us $293.35.

Go Tribe.

Go to hell, Ticketmaster.

Support your local venues. Like the Beachland.

Hot, Juicy Burgers!

Greg Bob loves Wendy's.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Go Tribe

The Indians could clinch a playoff spot today with a win and a Tigers loss. I went to the game last Saturday w/ Mariella, Kev, Jill, Vince, Carli and the two honeymooning Italians Patrizio and Marilena. It was Travis Hafner Bobblehead night - saweet. (I've collected quite a few bobbleheads without even trying.)

Also, I've started a new site and movement with Asdrubal's Amigos - in honor of the Tribe's stellar rookie sensation second baseman.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chloe is

still weird.

Kids will be kids

Mariella and Vince leg-wrestling.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Marc Ecko is a smart guy

The guy knows how to make headlines.

Here's his latest publicity stunt.

I vote "asterisk."

Every once in a while it's fun to be a Cleveland fan

Hindsight's 20/20 but it's great fun to see the so-called experts get it wrong. Here are some predictions published before the Browns offense went entirely Andersontastic:

The Expert: Brad Evans
Lowdown: Not even a bionic man composed of Bernie Kosar and Brady Quinn DNA could rescue the Browns from Bengals annihilation. The Bengals tattooed the Ravens on Monday night, forcing six turnovers, including a Landon Johnson 34-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. Their sparkling 21-point fantasy output in standard Y! leagues was the third-highest team defense yield in Week 1. This week the Bengals travel northeast on Interstate 71 to face intrastate rival Cleveland. The Browns offense was dreadfully woeful in 60 blunder-filled minutes in their opener against Pittsburgh, posting a pair of sixes in turnovers and sacks. If Cincinnati aggressively blitzes Derek Anderson like they did Steve McNair, the Bengals will again score top-five team defense numbers.
Fearless Forecast: 7 points allowed, 208 total yards allowed, 5 sacks, 3 turnovers

The Experts: Hector & Victor
Yeah, dude ... Cleveland certainly does not rock. Derek Anderson goes up against a Cincy defense that we're thinking should get three fumbles and four sacks.

The Expert: Christopher Harris
Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)The Browns traded their starting quarterback for scrap metal two days after proclaiming him the best guy they had. What happened? Charlie Frye was never going to be Superman, and as my college football partner in crime Stephanie Taylor (a Browns fan) said, "Frye was terrible in college, so I'm not sure why we thought he'd suddenly be a great pro." Still, heads are no doubt spinning in the Cleveland locker room. Derek Anderson gets the start this week, and Brady Quinn is coming. And in redraft leagues, I wouldn't touch either.
Fantasy Up: Not that you wouldn't normally do so, but play your Bengals. Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson and Chad Johnson are in for big weeks. The Cincy defense, which created six turnovers, two sacks and scored a touchdown last week, might yield a few yards on the ground to Jamal Lewis, but they're eminently startable nonetheless. Heck, for those in insanely deep, two-TE leagues, you could even keep an eye on Daniel Coats, an undrafted rookie out of BYU. He only caught one pass for 9 yards in Week 1, but the Bengals like him. … Kellen Winslow's knee is clearly fine, and he's my No. 2-rated tight end this week. Cincinnati's linebackers aren't their strength anymore, and as a defense they allowed the third-most fantasy points to TEs last season. … You have to start T.J. Houshmandzadeh, because no matter the state of his knee, Palmer's looking his way a lot. But Housh didn't get much separation against the Ravens, as his nine catches for 50 yards indicate.
Fantasy Down: Braylon Edwards is the big loser in this QB derby. Fully healthy almost two years removed from his ACL tear, Edwards would be a fantasy threat on almost any other team in football. You have to worry about how the kid will react to this tough situation (he threw a sideline tantrum last season), and while I'm not going to be surprised if he busts open the occasional huge play, it seems like that'll only happen a few times this season. He's only a flex option right now. … Jamal Lewis looked like a dog against Pittsburgh. He carried it 11 times for 35 yards, and those numbers hardly tell the tail of his badness. All the flowery pieces about how dominant he expected to be are now so much kindling. The offensive line didn't do much against the Steelers, and that was to be expected, but Lewis himself was as tentative as ever, and his first-quarter fumble helped put the Browns in a deeper hole early on. Cincy isn't particularly stout against the run, so I won't be shocked to see Lewis register a moderately successful day, but hear me: You don't want him on your fantasy team. … Shayne Graham's hip prevented him from kicking freely in Week 1, and he didn't practice Wednesday. He might play, but I'd have another option ready, just in case.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How fancy!

Mariella's back and she's modeling her wedding tiara (available at Jo-Ann Fabrics).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another media hit

The Mark Szczepanik brand is really taking off.

Cranking on the ol' propaganda machine

I appeared in yesterday's Plain Dealer.

Here's the article. I'll try to scan it when I get a chance.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Guten Tag!

On Sunday, we went to Oktoberfest with Lisa, Mike, the boys, Grandma, Mom, Mary, Joan and Kristen - a group od Von Trapp proportions. It was pretty fun. They had a sand sculptor working there.

but the highlight of the day had to be the Wiener Dog races.

It was pretty funny. They'd line up a set of wiener dogs dressed in silks and the owners would call them at the other end. Some were really fast but would turn around and race back to the start. So many times, it wasn't the fastest dog who won but the one who got bored enough to cross the finish line.

I don't like them anymore than I used to

I went to the Bangles concert last Thursday with Mary. It was part of an Ad Fed event, so don't judge me. And they sound like they used to. They did there requisite three songs I recognize and a bunch of other stuff that I could've done without.
They did bring out a rabid (not literally) fan base. During their between-song banter, a Bangle mentioned she didn't know the last time they were in Cleveland. And several people in the audience shouted, "November 2, 2003!" I wish I were making that up. U.S. Americans can't find us on the map but we've cornered the market on the Bangles 2003 tour schedule. Huzzah!
One good part of the evening was The Bridges. Before too long I think they'll be on the radio.

Geek Squad

This is a photo from one of my fantasy football draft "parties." We went to BW3s - they give free food to league's drafting there. (I'm not sure why it's called BW3 either it's Buffalo Wild Wings. Which by my calculations should be BW2. But I digress.) They also give you crappy wireless service that makes the draft take about three hours.

This is by far the nerdiest thing I was a part of in August. And we were actually not the biggest dorks in there. There was some guy by himself on his laptop communicating with who we assume was the rest of his league via a wireless headset.


Mariella's dog is weird and weird-looking.

Aunt Leona

My great aunt passed away on Sunday. She was 88. Always quick with a story and laugh, Aunt Leona loved life. She'll be missed.

As if I needed another reason to hate Labor Day.

Dear Dad

It's still surreal. I have to remind myself sometimes that you're not here with us physically. It's been a year since you left us and nothing really feels the same. Everyone misses you terribly.

I try to be there for everyone like you did. But I'm a poor replacement for you. I'm not as knowledgeable or as decisive. You may not have always been right but you made a decision and stuck to it. I could use some of that courage. I'll keep trying.

It's been a true learning experience for Mom and I. Selling houses, maintaining a fleet of cars and finances were always much easier when you were around.

We all still cling to the time we had together. Right after you left, someone told me that at least there was no doubt that you loved us and that you knew that we all loved you. She pointed out that I talked about you more than most people talked about their parents. And I guess I did. You were my best friend. I could always count on you for encouragement, kind words and perspective. You were always there to help me out or just hang out. I really loved it when I moved back from Toledo and we got to spend more time together. As much as I grumbled I truly never minded helping out at BINGO because I got to spend time with you. My favorite was during the second half when the games were winding down and you'd be in the darkened concession stand restocking. That was when we talked. They were never philosophical, weighty conversations - usually, just what was happening in our lives. I enjoyed when you'd call out of the blue and see if I wanted to go to the Indians game.

I appreciated it when you would let Sandy out if I had to work late. I think you and I were the only ones that liked that dog. Mom said you weren't as attached to her as I think. But I could see it when you'd come over and play with her.

I cleaned out the top drawer on your dresser a few weeks ago. Growing up, that drawer was always a source of wonder for me. You kept all the best man treasures in there - class rings, coins, notes from your mother, hankies, cuff links, pictures of us kids. I always liked stealing peeks in there. You always yelled at us to stay out of there but that wasn't much of a deterrent. The cool bric-a-brac always beckoned at me. It was strange going through those items now because they seem more like artifacts than mementos.

Vacations and holidays are particularly strange without you. Summer vacations were always "your thing." You were the travel guide, whether we liked it or not. I'm glad we got to go to Florida last year as a family. The holidays are just kind of confusing. You and Grandpa were such a huge part of them - leaving two enormous holes. I try to focus on the memories we have rather than what we're missing but it's hard.

Mom keeps saying that between you and Grandma & Grandpa there was never a time in her life that she felt unloved. And I think that's true for all of us. Between Mom and you, all the grandparents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and now Mariella I've always felt loved. Which I suppose is something not everyone can claim.

All the girls and grandkids are doing as well as can be expected without you. You'd be proud of them. I am. We're sticking together through this whole thing. I even hug Mike way more than I used to. (Then again, that would only have to be more than once.)

I was and still am very proud to have you as a father and blessed to have you as a friend. I know you're still with us. I just wish you were here with us. We'll never forget you and always love you.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mariella checks in

Mariella just called. She's having a good time but it doesn't sound like a super relaxing vacation. Apparently everyone wants to see her over there.

She's currently in Siracusa. Hopefully, she won't run into any of these guys. It was practically 1 am there when she called me and they had just gotten "home."

Apparently they saw nearly everything in Rome in 3 days. (Sounds like my family vacation where we always seem to show up to any museum a half an hour before closing.) She saw the colosseum and it was 41 degrees Celsius. I guess your internal body temperature is about 37 Celsius (so you do the math.)

She said her trip's almost half over. I had to remind her that it's only about a 1/3 over. She's only been there a week today. She says she has no idea what date or day it is anymore.

It was kind of a choppy connection and my cell battery was waning and she sounded tired.

I miss her a bunch.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What's wrong with U.S. Americans?

I'm sure that nerves played a large part in this but ouch. I feel sorry for the girl.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Weekend blahs

Sunday we went to Toledo to work on the house.

It's not fun. I know we're making progress. I wish it looked that way. Then when I went to leave I shut off the water and it started squirting out (eventually it went down to a trickle) of a pipe from a boiler unit that's not even in use anymore. So we made some plumber calls b/c I can't afford another flooding. The plumber wanted to wait to come out on Wednesday. I told him that wouldn't fly. So he made it out this morning and capped it. So I feel like we dodged a bullet there.

Haven't heard from Mariella in a while. Her mom tells me she went to Pisa.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Labor Day

Lisa, Mike and the boys are coming in for Labor Day weekend. Which is also the one-year anniversary of Dad's passing. So I'm trying to figure out some lighthearted stuff. And this might fit the bill. They're having wiener dog races and a marionette company. I think it'll be fun.

Since we last left our hero...

Last night after work I came home. Played some Wii - The Bigs. It's a baseball game that requires you to swing, pitch and drum the controllers to run faster. So my right arm's a bit sore. Mom was complaining because she'd rather see me kill zombies.

We watched as much as I could stomach of a documentary called The Grey Gardens and a few episodes of the Office.

Today, I'm doing some work. And we've got a Steak Roast at our church put on by Outback.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Contact has been made

Mariella just called. She's having fun and has been doing an insane amount of site-seeing. They just saw the Sistine Chapel. They'll be in Sicily on Tuesday.

I explained by international calling confusion with her. Apparently the woman who answered is 75 and she was saying "pronto" (hello). Mariella found someplace in Rome with phone booths that offer international long distance for 14 cents a minute.

What I've been doing.

This won't be interesting but since I haven't been able to talk to Mariella, here's what I've done since she left (maybe she'll log on and boost my readership in Italy):

- dropped her off at the airport.
- went to work.
- stayed at work late to attend to some ad fed stuff.
- spent the night at Mariella's house b/c I had an early mtg in Strongsville the next day. It's surreal being at her house without her being there.

- went to work
- went to the grocery store (TACO NIGHT!)
- went and played softball. It was still 85 degrees and muggy for our 9:30 game. I was pitching and led the league in sweatiness. My ERA is shot as I let up 22 runs. The other team was good at placing hits. We did score 21 of our own. So that wasn't too bad and I had my best hit of the season. A double. But before that I fouled out in my first at bat, walked the next and struck out on a pitch that I still say was a ball. I know for certain that I wasn't getting that call when I was pitching. The umpire was questionable at best. So that was a bunch of garbage. Matt on our team had 3 homeruns. 2 inside the park and one over the fence.

- went for a walk with mom
- drove Uncle Stan to the VA for an eye doctor appt
- went to work.

Some fun, huh?

International Relations

So Mariella left on her 3-week tour of Italy on Wednesday. This is basically the longest I've gone without talking to her since we met. Which sucks. She tried calling me but when I answered all I got was static. Her mom gave me the number to call over there but I don't have international access from my cell so I checked with work and they said I could call from there. The number wouldn't work. Her brother suggested I drop the first zero. That didn't work. So I did some internet research and here's how you call Italy:
1. dial 011 (for international access)
2. dial 39 (Italy's country code)
3. dial the number
I thought it was weird b/c I have two numbers for where she's staying - a home and a cell. And the home is only 9 digits whereas the cell is 10. But apparently that's how they roll.

So I called the home number - which supposedly is the home of the mother of the cousin Mariella's staying with which I guess makes it her aunt. And a woman answered and said "tonta" or "danke" or something. (I know danke is German but she sounded Italian.) I said "Mariella" and she said whatever she said again. I said "Mariella" again and she said whatever she said again. I even through in "American" to no avail. The woman kept saying the same thing over and over. I had to hang up. I couldn't do this on the company dime at International rates.

I tried the cell phone and got some service message in Italian followed by the translation in English that explained that the customer was unavailable.

Her mother tells me she's having a grand time. They visited the Vatican.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

...A NEW CAR!!!

It's been a car shopping bonanza lately. Unfortunately, none of them are for me. Although my car looks better than ever since it's now paid off. I'm riding the Blazer off into the sunset.
We got mom into a new Civic. It wasn't that hard despite the car dealer taking FOUR HOURS to get a lease done.
Joan was a tougher customer so fortunately we went to Rick Case Hyundai/Mitsubishi and met a salesguy named George Carter - low pressure and honest. And we went home with an '03 Outlander. It is a pretty snazzy car and Joan's happy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

More famous by the minute

The Mark Szczepanik media machine keeps a-rollin'.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I love this campaign on many levels. The writing is great. The casting fantastic. It's well done. Falls into the "wish I'd done it" category.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hopefully this lives up to the trailer

Can't be worse than Nacho Libre.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Poor Joker

Who's laughing now?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Intriguing headline

Man smuggles monkey into NYC airport

My favorite line: "Airport police were waiting for the man and his monkey when the plane landed..."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


This is what happened to the window in the office next to mine on Friday. We had a CRAZY rainstorm - it was hailing and everything.

Here's the temporary fix:

It really classes up the joint.