Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Dinner Among Friends

Tonight I had dinner with Marc Lee and Steve Gannon at the Blue Star restaurant here in Colorado Springs. Both are very experienced e-learning developers and freelancers who live here in Colorado. I know both by reputation and I've met Steve at previous conferences. We had a very lively and informative conversation over a really good dinner.

Trading war stories from our industry was a lot of fun but we also found ourselves sharing ideas on how to survive and thrive more in this crazy world we call e-learning. Great guys!

This painting was in the restaurant directly in my field of vision and I found it very interesting. It has perspective, it has elements that keep you guessing. What is the couple saying or doing? Are they parting ways? Are they about to dance? Overall, interesting.

Harry Potter and I are still in Colorado Springs

It's my second day teaching in Colorado Springs at TBCON and I just finished teaching today's session. I have two more tomorrow. I spoke on When Things Go Horribly Wrong - How to Save Your e-Learning Project today. It was well received. I also demonstrated a product called Captivate 3, which was just released. It also made attendees jaws drop!

Sunday evening after I arrived I had dinner with my friend April Miller. We ate at Jose Muldoons, a local Mexican restaurant that was pretty doggone good. She asked me if I was reading the last Harry Potter book and I confirmed that I was. She had already finished it and I was only halfway through and she was dying to discuss it with me but was a good friend and didn't spoil it for me. I finished it this morning and really enjoyed this book. I think it was the best of the bunch but I tend to read fast so I'm not sure I remember how much I liked each prior book, just that I enjoyed them all. Next time I get to talk with April, we can talk Harry and compare notes!

I'm in Colorado Springs

I arrived here yesterday to attend and teach at a conference (TBCON) for three days. Tonight, I drove up to Old Colorado City nearby and saw a great lightning storm in the distance. I happened to catch a lightning bolt with my camera!

At one point it started to pour but it was short-lived. The sky looked amazing, though, especially with the mountains in the background.

I also came here last year. You can see photos I took of the Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, and other areas by clicking HERE. There is some glorious landscape around here. Take a look for yourself!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I appeared on TV in Denmark!

I was invited to give a keynote speech at the EuroTAAC conference this year in Randers, Denmark. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was a news crew in the room from the regional television station covering the event. The next day I was told I had been on the news that evening and was given a link to the news clip. If you'd like to see it, here is the link (for as long as it's active):


Washington D.C. Cherry Trees

In Washington, D.C., every March or April, when the conditions are just right, over 3,000 cherry trees bloom all over the Tidal Basin and surrounding areas. It's a sight to see and people come from all over the world to see the spectacle. Back in 1912, the city of Tokyo gave the gift of the cherry trees to Washington, D.C. and every year there are several events, including the Cherry Blossom Festival, to commemorate the event. Try to make it here next time!

I Went to Fenway!

On April 11 this year, my friend Mark Steiner and I were in Boston for a conference and we went to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play the Seattle Mariners. The night before Boston beat Seattle 14-3 in its home season opener! And though the Red Sox would lose this evening 3-0, this was a historic night and the stadium was packed. Japanese powerhouse Daisuke Matsuzaka, now a brand spanking new Red Sox player, was up against Ichiro Suzuki, another Japanese player who has been playing stateside for Seattle. These two were rivals from back in Japan, and it was the first time they were up against each other in seven years. That explained why there were so much Japanese press there this evening (170 of them), witnessing the event and relaying the information back to their fellow citizens back in Japan. It didn't take long for Ichiro to show Daisuke (Dice-K) who would rule the night.

Cave Tubing is Fun!

This year Ivana and I went on our first cruise together. We traveled to four ports of call in the West Caribbean. One of our stops was in Belize and we went cave tubing! It was fun and very dark in the caves. You can see we had little lights around our necks, but they didn't do much to illuminate the interiors of the caves. In some areas, the water was so shallow that our butts would scrape along the rocks under the water. In other areas, the water was so deep that it would have been over our heads had we gotten out of our tubes. The trouble is, we didn't know where the shallow water was and where the deep water was, so we stayed in our tubes! This was a relaxing experience (except for the butt scrapings) and it strikes me that I should work really really hard (even harder than I do now) to earn enough money so that I can go cave tubing in Belize anytime I want. Yeah, that'll happen!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dallas Guns

I don't know, I just found this sign to be funny and sad at the same time. Notice the word unlicensed. Are unlicensed firearms such a problem in a state where it's easy to license a gun? No problem going in with a gun and holding up the place if you're licensed though!

The Brady campaign gives Texas a D- on gun laws. My own state, Virginia, gets a C-, nothing to brag about, though 32 out of our 50 states get a D or F rating, so we're in the top 18!

I am not anti-gun, just pro-common-sense.

Washington D.C. is Blurry But Wierdly Beautiful

Here I am landing late last night at Washington D.C. National Airport. I took this picture from outside my window. You can see the wing on the left and we are just about to land. Looks pretty cool, I think! Click it to make it bigger. Is this a work of art or not? OK, probably not, but it's still pretty.

Dallas Likes Cowboys

Even in the airport, there are homages to cowboys. They are suspended in midair and are midway through roping steer. Dallas really seems fascinated by cows and bulls and cowboys. You know, if Dallas ever gets a professional football team, they should probably name them The Cowboys. Just a thought!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm in Dallas!

I arrived in Dallas, Texas today and the first thing I did was go see an ex-client who has remained a friend. Her name is Shelah and her office is near the airport. We had lunch in a good restaurant named Rock Fish. I had really good gumbo and pecan-encrusted tilapia - yum. We drove back to her office building where she showed me this really cool sculpture of mustangs running. They really look animated and graceful. Click the photos to enlarge them so that you can see the beauty of the mustangs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Dog Wuvs Me

He loves me...enough said! Or is my ear salty??

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Balloon Trip Across the Ocean

When I was visiting my sister in Italy this year, a balloon fell down from the sky near her house. Attached was a message of peace from the children of the third grade class of a school in Modena, which is about an hour's drive from my sister's house. On the front of the attached card it says:

AMICI MIEI OGGI REGALIAMO EMOZIONE (My friends, today we give you the gift of emotion). The first five letters of this sentence spell AMORE (love) and the card is signed by Francesco, Third Grade.

The back of the card shows:

21 Marzo 2007 - Primo giorno di primavera
I bambini della scuola elementare G. Rodari di Modena mandano al mondo i loro messaggi di pace e solidarietà.

Se hai ritrovato il palloncino, ti invitiamo a spedirci una cartolina o una lettera all'indirizzo...

In English
21 March 2007 - First Day of Spring
The children of elementary school G. Rodari of Modena send their messages of peace and solidarity to the world.

If you have found this balloon, we invite you to send us a postcard or a letter to the following address...

"Hmm...", I thought, "wouldn't it be fun to send them a card from America?" So I did...

I sent them the two images you see at left to prove I had the actual balloon and card. I also sent them a card with the picture of the dog in front and I wrote this message inside.

Ciao, Francesco e compagni di classe della 3a! Grazie per il vostro messaggio di pace. Vi inviamo pure i nostri desideri per voi di pace e di amore.

Thank you, Francesco and classmates of the third grade! Thanks for your message of peace. We send you also our wishes for you of peace and of love.

I also included the two postcards you see here and three sheets of stickers, enough I hoped for each member of the class.

A couple of weeks later, it happened...I got a phone call from someone at the school asking me if the balloon had really reached me across the ocean! I confessed immediately that, no, it had landed in Casina, Italy, and that I had taken it back with me to America. They said that my response had excited the whole faculty and that they had decided that it would have been a real miracle if the balloon had really crossed the ocean. Nevertheless, she said, they had also decided that it didn't matter if the balloon had been taken across the ocean in a suitcase - it had, after all, reached America and it didn't matter how. We had a nice conversation and she said that while summer vacation was just beginning, they would present everything to the children come fall and also that they would write about this in their school newspaper. I also have an open and standing invitation to come visit the school when I am in Italy next.

This is how friends are made!

When You're Older, You Can Say What You Want

One of the nice things about getting older is you don't care what other people think. I saw this gentleman in a Starbucks and asked him if I could take his picture for my blog. I happen to agree with the sentiment expressed in his handmade badge!

It says:
The Neocons
No more no less
Have got us in
An awful mess

OK, not the best poem, but the sentiment is there!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Festa Italiana

Last Sunday I went to the annual Festa Italiana in Washington, D.C. It was pretty good this year. Last year the food lines were very long and it seemed a bit disorganized but this year things ran more smoothly. It was great to see friends again I hadn't seen in a while and of course I had a cannolo - bad Joe! More photos can be seen here.

A Party in Honor of My Mom

My mom came to visit from Italy for the first time in nine years. This is my mom. We decided to throw her a party and invited everyone we knew. Lots of people came and they all fell in love with my mom. She stayed for three weeks and we visited our relatives in New York City and also visited Richmond. My mom had said a few times that this would probably be the last time she could come now that she's older but she had such a blast and made so many friends that she's planning on returning in 2 years! Thanks to everyone for making her feel so welcome!

One of My Favorite Places in the World

Hi, all!! I thought I'd show you one of my favorite places in the world - Casina, Italy, where my mom and sister live. I visit them there once a year or so, and it's a tranquil place. Walking up and down those hills is a real workout but it's such a pleasure that I don't mind at all.

Do We Look Good or What?

Here we are at a TOPS convention a couple of months ago, where Ivana was crowned a queen and I was 2nd place for men's weight loss in my division in the State. We look pretty good, huh? Ivana has reached her goal weight and has since actually become even lighter. I have more to go but I feel great!

My Birthday Party

So we decided to do a birthday party for me this year because I turned 47 (June 25) and this is a prime number. Heck, any excuse is a good one for a party! We had a bunch of friends come over and celebrate. It was a beautiful day so we were able to accommodate most people in our backyard. To see more photos, click here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bloodsucking Parasites!

Created yesterday evening: I'm working outside on the deck this evening. The weather is perfect. Unfortunately, I'm not the only one who thinks so. Apparently, I am delicious according to the hundreds of mosquitoes that have been attacking me. Geez, I hope none of them is carrying the West Nile Virus or the East Nile Virus or any of the Nile Direction Viruses. I am now in the midst of an internal battle - go inside and away from this beautiful weather or stay out here and let myself be eaten alive by blood-sucking vampire Dracula-wannabees? Get it? Bees?

I Skied This Year for the First Time!

Yep, here I am in Breckenridge, Colorado, this past February where I learned how to ski. I had a blast in the three days I was there and while I'm not yet a great skier, at least I've learned how to go down the novice slopes without killing myself. I fell down a lot but never got hurt because one of the first things our instructor taught us was how to fall properly. Smart thinking!

Four Groundhogs and Counting

I have thus far caught four groundhogs on our property this year. Here my curious doggie is trying to talk with Zippity, the groundhog in the cage. Ivana called him zippity because...well, duh...he was fast!

In each of the four cases, we took the groundhog away in a cage and dumped them in a neighbor's yard. Just kidding! No, I took them far away to a pleasant valley where they could frolic among bushes of fruits and berries and other delicacies near streams of pure water imported from the Swiss Alps. I visited them not long ago and they had built a little village and one of them was elected mayor. Smart little fellas!

Our New Pond

About three weeks ago, Ivana and I built a pond in our backyard. It instantly started to attract couples who would sit on the bench and wonder why there was a dog in a wagon nearby.

My Second Organized Meetup

If you'd like to see more photos, click here.

The First Italian Meetup I Organized

I took over leadership of our local Italian expat meetup. If you'd like to see more photos, click here. Kudos to Miss Alice Galli, pictured here, who started this group.

We Walked in the Fairfax Fourth of July Parade!

Ivana and the kids and I walked in the Fairfax Fourth of July Parade
We were part of the Sons of Italy group. If you'd like to see more photos I took that day, click here.

Repeal the VA "Civil Remedial Fees" for Traffic Offenses Petition

Click below if you live in Virginia:

Repeal the VA "Civil Remedial Fees" for Traffic Offenses Petition

Joe Ganci Finally Gets a Blog

OK, all, you know how long I have resisted doing this. There are only so many hours in the day and I juggle so many things right now, but I'm determined to start this thing if it kills me. Who needs sleep, anyway?

I think it's a law that you have to start a blog with a picture of your dog, so here is mine! He is a shih-tsu and is now 10 years old. He is VERY affectionate.