Friday, October 31, 2008

What Do All Kids Love To Do On Halloween?

GO FOOD SHOPPING!!!
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Lilah was a penguin this year. She was fast on her feet, so most of our pictures show her from behind.

Best Presidential Dance-Off EVER!!


Presidential Dance Off - Click here for more home videos

About a Boy

Here's a video of a sonogram taken on Thursday 10.30.08 of our new baby boy. It may be hard to see, but the face is clearly visible. It gets a little creepy, especially when they show the skull. But it's still cool. You can see right through the bones!
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Here's my beautiful wife in her "harley pose" displaying a life-size picture of the actual size of a 20-week fetus (which is about where we are). The kid is huge! But he weighs just about 1 pound.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Rain Over Toronto

Taken from the airport before my 4:15 flight yesterday. There were patches of these clouds all over, each an isolated shower. The rain came down in fingers and moved eerily slow. I drove through one of them; it went from sun to torrential in an instant.


downtown Toronto is on the left



Where Are We Going?



Awww yeah!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

We Have a Problem

Gas in Toronto was 96 cents a gallon. 96 cents!! That's Canadian too, so it's about 73 cents US. Why the fuck is it so expensive here?

Kilometers are weird, eh?

Old Gin

I raided Grandma Ruth's liquor cabinet this weekend and came across these packaging gems. I love alcohol packaging. It's cool, fun, and tells a whole story through pictures and typography.



The Tanqueray is very close to where it is today (see below). The font and bottle are the same, so it the red stamp. They added the silver "London Dry Gin" strip, which adds some class. Beefeater had more serious changes. Now it has a clear label and the city scape on the back. It's a lot nicer.


I also snagged an unopened bottle of Chivas Regal and some bitters. Does booze go bad? Cause this shit hasn't been touched in 15 years or more.

The New Carnation Creamer

I am a Carnation creamer brand loyalist. I do not like the International Coffees and like something sweet in the mornings (meaning, no milk in my coffee). I didn't think they needed to redesign (and I know for a fact that Nestle's budgets have been slashed), so I was surprised to see this:


The branding (logo) is close-in to the original and now much stronger. It's a little bigger with the outline around the heart. The lid has been changed a bit; maybe it's easier to use now. I don't know. The cup of coffee at the bottom looks better, too. It's one of the key equities for the brand.

(The bottles are shrink wrapped. When the film gets heated and shrinks to the bottle, it can warp the graphics where the bottle's neck comes in. The cup is so important, that they put the cup at the bottom, where it's safe, and the logo at the top where it may warp.

My big BIG problem is the flavor name. It's hard to see in this image, and in real life. They should have made it darker to pop off the yellow banner, but I'm sure it works better on the blue of French Vanilla.

All in all, good job. Now I have to bug my Nestle client for more work.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What 11 Years Looks Like

My new passport picture, to the right of my old passport picture. A quick description of the day each was taken. Yes, I got fatter.



December 29, 1997
Taken under RUSH circumstances at Penn State University. I had just spent all night cramming for a final and didn't get to shower. It was very early and very cold. Windy. I had to walk a while to get to the office, which was in the middle of nowhere. My lips were really chapped. I knew I'd be looking at this picture in the future when the camera clicked. My co-worker said I look like a criminal. I told her I was supposed to look like Eddie Vedder.

October 24, 2008
Also taken under RUSH circumstances at the Empire State Building in a Walgreen's. Had to negotiate with the CFO on who will pay ridiculous rush charges. I suck at negotiating. Was waiting for the company to cut the check and went downstairs to get the photo. Needed to rush. It was 2:12pm and I was in a rush to get back for a 3pm call. Taken with what looked like an outdated Kodak camera, this was the first take.

Tim Russert, We Miss You

This is less than 2 minutes long and worth watching:


If only he could have gotten to interview Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WTF?!?

McCain Girl and The Enchanted Republican Forest

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Real "Joe the Plumber"

Watch Obama's real conversation with "Joe the Plumber." He talks a lot and comes off as kind of a dick. But he seems to know his shit.



This conversation confirms another core belief of mine: politics should be boring. Once Obama starts getting into how a flat tax with increase the sales tax, I tune out. But Obama keeps going because there are a huge number of factors that need to be considered in any policy issue.

Obama's answer was good. He didn't hesitate before jumping into the details, which impressed me. It wasn't what Joe wanted to hear, but he remained true to his campaign promises.

Dennis Quaid on Ellen DeGeneres

This is shockingly funny:

New Friskies Packaging

Here's the newly redesigned Friskies packaging:


It's been on shelf a few weeks now, maybe longer. I worked on this brand. We were in a "bake off" with 2 other agencies where we did a design exploratory, with the winner getting the full project. I spent a lot time with this brand, including staying at the office till 2am before a 6am flight the next day, and an overnight trip to Tampa for research. We didn't win, but I did play a role.

I think the new pack looks great. Not sure who did it, but good job. The cat is cute and looks engaged with the product. Flavors are easily differentiated, and the branding changed just enough to look better but still look familiar.

I hate working on pet foods. There are never any good pictures of animals. None. You have to go out and shoot them, which is so expensive that no one does it. "This cat looks sad." "It's too fat." "Can you make it smile?" Yes, I have seen pictures where we turned the cat's mouth into a creepy smile.

TiVo vs. Time Warner DVR

I have had a dream come true. I now have a large LCD television in the bed room with a DVR. Ultimate Fighting, Sports Center, Discovery Channel, I now never want to leave my bed now. And with new seasons of Desperate Housewives, Army Wives and Brothers & Sisters, I have very little reason to watch TV in the living room.

We have HD Tivo in the living room, but Time Warner DVR in the bedroom (to save money). There's been a lot of talk about which one is better in our household, so let me list my pros and cons for each:

TIVO
Pros
- easy-to-use on screen interface
- simple, intuitive remote control
- able to suggest shows based on my ratings
- can play games when connected to the internet
- gives my "TiVo-casts" from The Onion and NY Times, which I love
- makes Harley happy
- extensive search function
- excellent view of TV grid
- the ability for strict parental controls on shows
Cons
- limited options when creating a season pass
- expensive (though not when you break it out over 3+ years)
- no picture-in-picture between tuners

TIME WARNER DVR
Pros
- cheaper than TiVo (at least in the short term)
- does not require an internet connection
- picture-in-picture between tuners
- search function quick and easy to get to, though not as extensive
- easy to adjust season pass options
- remote has an internal light to help me navigate
Cons
- limited options when creating a season pass
- limited view of TV grid
- remote control is big and cumbersome (the "Live" button is right next to Fast Forward!!)
- bare bones, no "extras"
- no ratings, no suggestions

THE WINNER = TiVo

The Time Warner HD is surprisingly awesome. It has some features that are great, and I love that there is no secondary interface separating me from my cable company. But the remote control is a deal breaker. There are so many damn buttons that I need to look everytime I want to do something. I may memorize them all, but them buttons are so small that it may always be difficult.

TiVo's remote is simpler and easier. And since that is the only way to communicate with the TV, it's a big deal. The suggestions may not sound like a big deal, but they really help (especially with Lilah shows). The TiVo casts are fun and I would miss them. I may not need TiVo, but it's very nice. Plus, Harley can't live without it (for now).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Community Service

It turns out that the Moon is slowly drifting away from Earth. It is getting further at a rate of 3.8cm per year. Without the Moon, we're screwed. Oceans will get out of control, the climate will drastically change, and menstrual cycles everywhere will be thrown out of whack.

We should all be asking what we, as American citizens, can do to help.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Have You Seen This?


AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka blasts racism and underlines why workers should vote Obama in 2008. This is an excerpt of a speech given at the Steelworkers convention on July 1, 2008. Sponsored by USW President Leo Gerard.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Blog of the Day

Photoshop Disasters

It's a riot. See if you can find the problems with these...







Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

This blog is genius. By carefully cropping Garfield out of each of Jim Davis' comic strips, we are left with "the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb."



Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My Speech for Mammy

Here is the short speech I gave at Mammy's funeral on 9/28/08. After 4 painful days, I wrote it in 15 minutes at 1am.

The first time I met Anne Nassi was on my second date with Harley. Paula and Mammy came to see Harley in a play. I sat right next to them. They were sweet and laughed at my jokes.

I married into the family, but Mammy felt like family from the moment I met her. Warm, kind, open and generous with love, she had a twinkle in her eye and a spring in her step. She lived with a vibrancy I would wish for anyone her age.

Last Sunday, we came to visit Mammy in the hospital and had some true quality time. She and I were alone for a few minutes. It was Sunday, and she didn’t mind if I put the football game on.

The Giants were playing, which reminded her of Poppy. “Every Sunday, he could not be disturbed,” she said. We agreed Poppy and I would have gotten along, despite the fact that I’m an Eagles fan.

She then told me that she thought I was a great guy. She told everyone what a great guy her grand-daughter had married.

This wasn’t just mammy being polite. It was an open, sincere approval and appreciation. Being told you’re a good husband and father from the matriarch of this family is a moment that will stick with me forever.

I told her I loved her, and I meant it. Her eyes softened with a smile and she mouthed I love you too. I know it she meant it because I didn’t just hear it, I felt it.

Mammy loved her family and enjoyed having everyone around. She would be proud of her legacy and joyous that we are all here together today.

Let us not be here to mourn Anne Nassi’s passing but celebrate her life. Mammy had an amazing life and was lucky in so many ways.
- She had her husband come home to her after being in harm’s way in the thick of World War II. That marriage lasted for 55 years.
- She raised 3 children and was able to spoil her 6 grand-children.
- She beat cancer twice.
- She was active in her community, always with friends, and went out dancing well into her 80’s. - Her daughter even had to give her a curfew so she wouldn't come home so late at night.

She lived a long, happy life. But honestly, we’re the lucky ones for having had her for so much time.

So, good-bye Mammy. I’ll take good care of Harley and keep my eye on Neil (my father-in-law).
Please watch over our children and let them feel your presence. I love you. I miss you, and I’ll take you wherever I go.

P.S. Once you get settled, look up Frances Heller. You and my Mom-mom would get along great. I think she even plays mah-jong.

Friday, October 03, 2008

John McCain's Time as a POW

A re-printing of a U.S. News & World Report of John McCain's first-hand account of his time as a POW.

According to Wikipedia:

In August 1968, a program of severe torture began on McCain. He was subjected to rope bindings and repeated beatings every two hours, at the same time as he was suffering from dysentery. Further injuries led to the beginning of a suicide attempt, which was stopped by guards.

After four days, McCain made an anti-American propaganda "confession". He has always felt that his statement was dishonorable, but as he would later write, "I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine." His injuries left him permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head. He subsequently received two to three beatings per week because of his continued refusal to sign additional statements.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Best Steak Sandwich

From Maggio's (Huntingdon Valley, PA)

Steak
Bacon
Mushrooms
Hot Peppers
Mayonnaise on the side

Mmm...

Hero of the Day

This is a strange one, but it's true: Richard Simmons

I saw a documentary about an obesity clinic, a facility where the treat the morbidly obese and help them get thin and healthy. Richard Simmons was coming for a visit, and the place got very excited. There cameras, decorations, and a big gathering (like a high school assembly) where they were going to have a big exercise class. Everyone was excited.

They also focused on 1 guy who had previously met Richard and lost a lot of weight. He left the clinic too soon, against Richard's orders, and gained back all the weight. He met Richard in the lobby so he could get those few extra minutes with him. Richard was sad to see he was back but encouraging that he could lose the weight. "Don't you give up! Don't you leave me!"

These are people going through some very difficult problems. Their bodies are working against them. Their minds make it hard to get themselves healthy. Richard Simmons not only makes an effort to support them but (this may sound strange) makes an effort to give them dignity.

He's flamboyant, effeminate, and shameless. But the man is doing something for a group of people that most of us would never speak to or not understand. He's creating a legacy that most of us would be proud of. If only he'd stop wearing those short shorts.

P.S. Joe Biden rules.