Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Some of my best friends...

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing my friends Tom and Carol again while in Kansas City. We had dinner at Figlio, a really good Italian restaurant. Figlio means Son in Italian.

Tom and I have been in the same field, e-learning, for quite some time. He organized an e-learning conference called TAAC back in 1995 in Snowbird, Utah, and asked me to be keynote speaker. He is a real stand-up guy, good to the core. His wife, Carol, is even gooder (uhm...better), and we are all dear, lifelong friends. Thank you, Tom and Carol, for making my life better!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Chopper, Chopper

Here's something you don't see every day. While driving on 435, the beltway around Kansas City, I came upon this scene. I did a double-take, then whipped out my camera. I then sped up: it was fun to be able to pass a helicopter with my car!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Flew, I Flew! In a Hot Air Balloon!

Yesterday was another first for me. Thanks to a dear friend who gave me a belated birthday present, I got to go up in a hot air balloon! The weather was gorgeous, which was a lucky thing because you never know what DC weather will be at this time of year (late October). The wind, however, was iffy, a little too strong to go up until the last minute when our pilot decided it was safe to go up, primarily because there happened to be a hot air balloon festival not far from us and our pilot could see that other balloon pilots had already taken off.

We got to participate in prepping the balloon. In the first photo, you can see the balloon pulled out of its bag and elongated on the ground. In the second photo, we see the balloon being filled with air from two large fans. At a certain point, we had to pile into the basket quickly. There were ten of us, including the pilot.

We took off so gently, I wasn't immediately aware that we had left the ground. There was no sound whatsoever except when the pilot added lift by activating the propane tanks for a few seconds at a time (see photo 5). That was loud and the heat of the flames would make our heads warm.

While the pilot's wife followed us in their truck (on the ground, naturally), we let the wind push us in the direction it wanted. The pilot is able to control the height of the balloon but has very little control over the direction we go. However, after decades of piloting balloons, he already knew the best landing spots.

We aimed for some school grounds and made it with a landing that was just slightly jarring (but fun). On the way there, to slow us down the pilot actually had us skim the tops of some trees! That was a bit of a thrill, especially because he hadn't let us in on his plan so we were wondering if we were going to crash. On the way down, we also flew just slightly above some home rooftops. I'm sure the residents of those homes have learned to keep their blinds closed!

As the sun set, we landed and piled out, securing the basket while the pilot got the balloon all the way down. After that, he pulled out the champagne and soda and we toasted a successful flight!

Is it The End of Time? At Least As Far as AT&T in LA are Concerned!

Time of day calling it quits at AT&T
From the Los Angeles Times
David Lazarus

August 29, 2007

It's the end of time, at least as far as AT&T is concerned.

The brief note in customers' bills hardly does justice to the momentousness of the decision. "Service withdrawal," it blandly declares. "Effective September 2007, Time of Day information service will be discontinued."

What that means is that people throughout Southern California will no longer be able to call 853-1212 to hear a woman's recorded voice state that "at the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be . . ." with the recording automatically updating at 10-second intervals.

"Times change," said John Britton, an AT&T spokesman. "In today's world, there are just too many other ways to get this information. You can look at your cellphone or your computer. You no longer have to pick up the telephone."

Indeed, time already has stopped in 48 other states, he said. California and Nevada are the two remaining holdouts.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Interesting Facts About Spiders

This is very funny! However, language is not for the kids, so go lock them in the closet for a while! (Joking, don't lock your kids in closets. They can make a mess in there.)

Fun Halloween Hangman Game

Cute stuff:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Italian Meetup at Il Fornaio

Tonight we had our Italian meetup for the first time at Il Fornaio restaurant in Reston. I had not been there since the blessing of the ovens before they opened. (See my August 22 blog.)

There were nine of us there that night, including Daria and Chris and me (in the photo). This was Daria's first time. She's from Rome. Chris is American but speaks Italian like a native because he's lived most of his life there. We both attended the American School of Milano, Italy, but at different times, so we didn't know each other there. Chris and I met last year during our high school reunion in NYC. Yes, we went to high school in Milano but the reunion was held in NYC because most alumni are here in the States or elsewhere in the world. It was the first ever reunion and included any alumni who wanted to come. It was a great success with about 300 attendees. There will be another one next May in Miami.

Anyway, back to the meetup. Thank you to David, the Il Fornaio manager, for treating us so well! He got us a table in the private room, which was a lot more quiet than the rest of the restaurant. He also gave us free pizza appetizers (yum).

More photos can be seen here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I met President Carter!

OK, so this was a couple of years ago. Notice the funny backdrop they put behind him - oh, right, that's real. This was in our local Sam's Club, where President Carter was signing copies of his latest book. He was surrounded by secret service men, like the guys you see here. Funny thing is, they weren't so secret. I could see them clearly!

Three Continents!

I bought this as a gift for my brother-in-law. This toolkit is of European Design with an American Attitude...but it's made in China!

I wonder how it might be different if it were designed in China, had a European attitude and was made in America?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

San Gennaro Festival

Yesterday was the San Gennaro festival near here in Reston. That's him, my buddy, to my right (and your left).

Along with San Gennaro looking over the partiers were lots of booths, not all of which were very Italian. The main theme of the day was wine-tasting, so there was plenty of that (and there's nothing wrong with that!). We also had Romanians conducting psychic readings, Baltimorons selling quesadillas, and lots of resort vendors!

See more at the link below.


Official Deep Thought #1

There are many situations in life in which we find ourselves uncomfortable but where the alternative (find another job, perhaps) seems more uncomfortable, so we stay put. When our current discomfort increases to the point that the alternative seems less uncomfortable, that is the key moment when we go with the alternative.

-- Joe Ganci Deep Thought #1

Why Question #1

Question #1 that came to me in a burst of inspiration:

Why is it so easy to fall asleep during the day but so difficult to fall asleep at night when it's very warm?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

An Italian Play...In DC!

Last Friday the stage play La Pensione Della Tranquillità was staged in DC. It was in Italian and was very funny. The play was written, directed and acted by La Compagnia di Teatro Sperimentale from the Abbruzzo-Molise area of Italy. They have been performing this play for about a year, primarily in Abbruzzo-Molise, but their last two performances were in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

After the performance, audience members interested were invited to the Alpine Restaurant in Arlington. We got to sit at the table with the playwright and he entertained us with stories of the troupe. One interesting tidbit: he surprised us with the fact that the actors had had a bit of a difficult time performing in Italian because they have performed it every other time in the Abbruzzo-Molise dialect of Italian. Most dialects of Italian are as different from Italian as Spanish is, so it was as if they were performing in a different language, though one in which they are quite fluent!

What a delightful evening it was!

See photos and video here: http://www.joeganci.com/usa/2007/pensione/index.htm

I'm in Love!

I saw this van in DC recently and fell in love! Wow, Russian beer! A beer I haven't tried yet! I really love discovering a beer I haven't tried yet!

What I don't understand is why they didn't make the bottles of beer bigger and get rid of the girl. What's the point of having her in the ad for beautiful, delicious beer?

Bearemy gets fan mail!

As an avid reader of my blog (and there are millions of you, I know!), you may remember that back on Sept. 26th, my second-born son was camped out for a day and a night waiting for the release of Halo 3. He also is the one with a webcam in his room, through which his friends can see what he's doing on justin.tv. When he doesn't have his webcam with him, guess who takes his place? Yep, that's Bearemy above, visible through the webcam on my son's site.

Guess what? Bearemy got fan mail. We received the postcard you see below from someone on the West Coast, a real girl, apparently! Imagine that? No wonder Bearemy is smiling! She wrote: Dear Bearemy! I saw you like on the computer and I think you're like so cute! I [heart] you Beremy! The West Coast loves you! Much love from a fan! She also helpfully drew a very realistic picture of herself and of Bearemy!


When you use a webconferencing tool like Adobe Acrobat Connect and point it at your own screen, you get a cool effect! It's like being in a room with facing mirrors. To infinity and beyond!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Beautiful Image

This is supposedly the sunset at the North Pole with the moon at its closest Point. You can also see the sun below the moon. In these days when it's easy to mock up photos in Photoshop, I can't be sure this is a real photograph but it's beautiful nonetheless!