12 March 2017

Twenty Years Already?

Category: Life,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1522

Everyone likes milestones that end in zero. Whether it’s a birthday or anniversary counted in years, months or days, if it ends in a zero, people like to celebrate it. So, I feel only right to mention that this website has been hanging around on the web for 20 years now. What started out as a free set of webpages on AOL when I was in high school has slowly grown over the years. I don’t pay as much attention to it as I did years ago; haven’t revamped in quite a while and I still maintain it using mostly static HTML pages (except this blog section which runs on WordPress), which no one really does anymore. I keep saying that I’m going to redo the entire site using a content management system, but I don’t know when I’ll get around to that for real. It certainly will make managing the huge photos section easier.

Speaking of the photos on the site, they’re the main reason it still exists. They’re what most people come here to see. At last count, there were about 7500 photos spanning 18 years of travel, family events and any of photos that I felt were worth sharing at the time. Why aren’t there 20 years of photos? Well, prior to that no one was using a digital camera! Hell, when I started posting photos I was actually using a camera that took floppy disks! Read more about that here.

Anyway, if you want to feel nostalgic about how old this site is and how far it’s come along, take a look a page that’s having its own 10th anniversary. I created it commemoration of another round number anniversary, 10 years. It shows what the site originally looked like and how it progressed during its first decade. If you think the site seems dated now, take a look at what it used to look like! I would make another retrospective for 20 years, but honestly, it hasn’t changed much since then. It’s just grown some.

As always, thanks for checking out the site. As long as I continue to hear from enough people who enjoy it, I’ll keep maintaining it and will try to continue to keep it going for another 20 years.

03 July 2016

Chicago Photos

Category: Life,None,Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1339

Chicago TheatreI finally posted my MANY photos from my trip to Chicago.

Chicago is one of those places that I’ve been familiar with through the years mainly because of so many various TV shows set there. As a kid I watched Perfect Strangers (anyone remember TGIF?). In high school and college it was ER and Chicago Hope. Then more recently it’s been NBC’s Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med. On top of this, I feel like I know Chicago and the rest of Chicagoland because I’ve been a loyal listener of the Eric & Kathy morning show on WTMX in Chicago for well over a decade. However, I’d never actually been to the Windy City. This trip finally corrected that.

We spent 7 days in Chicago. We stayed right downtown in the Loop, a block south of the river. Over the course of the week, we walked approximately 50 miles, climbed 201 flights of stairs and road the L 22 times. Needless to say, we covered much of the city (at least the downtown area) while even finding time to spend a relaxing evening with a cousin who lives out there.

To say that Chicago is an incredible food city is an understatement. My normal diet was suspended for the week as we check out the best places to get real Chicago deep dish pizza, Chicago dogs and Italian beef along with stops at Harry Caray’s and Mike Ditka’s. Oh, and don’t forget the Portillo’s chocolate cake.

Check out all of the photos plus some videos and a list of our many great dining experiences right here.

19 June 2016

Remembering my Dad on Father’s Day

Category: Life,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 1326

emilgatti.comWith both my father and my grandfather gone from the world now, Father’s Day is just another day on the calendar from here on out. However, it’s also a good day to take a moment to remember my father. The easiest way to do that is to take a look at the memorial website that I created when he passed away. It’s a static website (unless anyone submits new memories to be posted) that remains as a tribute to to him.

The site can be found at emilgatti.com.

10 November 2014

My Grandfather – George J. Stroup, Sr

Category: Life — Posted by Michael at 2108

georgestroupThank you to everyone who has asked about an obituary for my grandfather, George J. Stroup, Sr. He passed away on 6 Nov 2014 but did not want an obituary placed in any newspaper. He also did not want a funeral or viewing. We had a modest graveside ceremony for him with our immediate family.

If you are interested in sending or doing something to honor his memory, we ask that you instead make a donation in his memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (www.stjude.org). This is a charity that was near and dear to my grandfather’s heart.

Another more detailed post commemorating my grandfather will be coming soon.

31 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas

Category: Life — Posted by Michael at 2003

I’m happy to see Apple embracing the 12 days of Christmas with their 12 Days of Gifts app. The gifts have been of varying quality but they seem to want to find something for every taste which is cool.Personally, I have always been a fan of the 12 Days of Christmas. No, I don’t mean the song (no offense to partridges or turtle doves). I mean the 12 days following Christmas Day. December is always a crazy month. You’re running around preparing for the holidays, decorating, gift shopping, trying to get caught up at work before leaving for the holiday, baking cookies and on and on. It feels like the buildup to the holiday is more and more stressful with each day and then when Christmas Eve arrives things finally wind down and you can relax. To me, this is when the holidays truly begin. I’m lucky enough to be able to take off between Christmas and New Year’s Day so this is when I go to “Christmassy stuff” and visit with friends and family.

Most years it’s more like the 9 days of Christmas, but this year with the way that the weekends and my days off have fallen (minus some working at home), I’ll be going back to work on the 12th day of Christmas. So, counting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day which really days -1 and 0, I certainly can’t complain!

So, on this 5th day of Christmas, here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry 12 Days of Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

11 November 2013

Veteran’s Day

Category: Interesting Links,Life — Posted by Michael at 1412

Veteran’s Day means a day off for some of us. For others it is a day just like any other. It should be, first and foremost, a day to say thank you to those who have served or are still serving in our nation’s armed forces. Their service and sacrifices are what make our nation great.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure sitting with one my my favorite veterans, my grandfather, and working to document his service. A member of what Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation,” he served in the Navy during World War 2 both on land and sea. The part we focused on was his time at Fort Miles in Delaware. You can read the entire story and view photos here, but the end result of this endeavor was visiting my grandfather’s old duty station with him about 70 years after he detached from the post. Hearing his stories and memories while standing with him at the site brought me a new appreciation of his experiences during the war while he still sees them as just what he had to do at that time.

So, for those currently serving in the military, you never know… 70 years from now a historian might be contacting your grandson to document the invaluable service you are currently providing to our nation. Thank you.

30 June 2013

Photos from an Historic Trip to Fort Miles

Category: Genealogy,Life,Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1913

HECP TowerTwo years ago while in Lewes, DE visiting a family friend, we took a ride to Cape Henlopen State Park because there was an event going on at Fort Miles. I knew that my grandfather was stationed somewhere in the Lewes area during World War 2, but didn’t know much more than he was stationed on some sort of signal tower. During a tour of Battery 519, the guide was talking about how there had been a Navy unit stationed at the base and as he explained their function, monitoring and challenging ships coming into into the bay, it became apparent this was what my grandfather did. I commented on this fact when I posted the photos I took that day to my website. (You can view them here.)

Over a year later, I got an e-mail from someone from the Fort Miles Historical Society asking if I had any photos taken during my grandfather’s time there. As it turns out, my grandfather has an album that documents his entire time in the Navy. Some of the photos of the base in my grandfather’s album included some never before seen views. After sharing the photos and talking to several others including a historian, I helped my grandfather record some narrations and answer some questions. Before we knew it we were heading to Fort Miles so he could be interviewed.

A few weeks ago we went down there with my grandfather to meet the guys from Fort Miles, tour the base and discuss his memories of his time there. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to help preserve the history of the base, a history that my grandfather was a part of. It was just as rewarding to be able to walk around with him at a place that he hadn’t been back to for nearly 70 years and likely thought he’d never return to. I’m sure that the 22 year old Navy Signalman 2nd Class (SN2) who stood watch on that tower would never believe he’d someday return with his daughter and grandson, both adults, to be interviewed about his everyday activities of 70 years prior.

You can view the photos here.

01 June 2013

Posting reviews on my site

Category: Life,Randomness,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1603

After stopping at a restaurant in Hershey, PA almost entirely because of its reviews on Yelp and UrbanSpoon and being pleasantly surprised at how good it was and how accurate the reviews were, I decided that I should write a review of my own. Of course, since I never do things halfway, I figured that if I’m going to take time to write a review then I might as well post it to a few sites. The sites I chose were Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Google+ Local & TripAdvisor. Once I spent a little time creating accounts on each site, I started to think I should write more than just one review. So, I plan to occassionally write reviews (primarily of restaurants.)

There will be no reviews of mass market chain restaurants, just local places that deserve some free publicity and will hopefully benefit from it. That’s not to say that I won’t post a negative review when warranted. There’s no reason not to warn people away from enduring the same bad food or service I suffered through.

As part of my ongoing attempt to include any content I write for other sites on my own site, I plan to put copies of the reviews in blog entries. They’ll have their own category and will be labeled with an indicator that it’s a review. I know I don’t need more random junk thrown in to my blog stream, but you’ll be seeing some big changes to the site as a whole soon (I hope!) Don’t worry the change is not that I’m converting my site to a restaurant review site.

03 April 2013

People fall for this?

Category: Life,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2240

Delivery_ScamApparently it’s not enough that various scammers call my phone trying to convince me they’re from my bank or want to offer me a free home alarm system. Instead of handing over my banking information or home security details, I just hang up on them or occassionaly keep one on the phone for a while and have fun with them until they scream at me for wasting their time (yes, that actually happened last week and it was extremely satisfying). I don’t, however, expect to recieve the same nonsense when I go to my mailbox. I expect catalogs, advertisements and bills, but apparently my mailbox is yet another avenue for scams that are incredibly transparent, but could catch someone with a slightly less critical eye.

The postcard has an image of a guy in a uniform that vaguely conjures an impression of a UPS driver. It claims they’ve been trying to deliver a package to me. “They” is a supposed company called DMC Services. It gives a “tracking number” and an toll-free number to call. I didn’t call the number, although I may just give them a call someday when I’m bored and see how much of their time I can waste. I did however find an article online where the author did call. Check that out at http://bit.ly/ZayN0F. It’s kind of a silly scam. They want to survey you about your laubdry washing habits. I guess it’s either a really shady market research company or just someone who is going through an awful elaborate effort to satisfy his or her freaky laundry fetish.

Anyway, I hope this post at least draws a tiny amount of attention to one of many pathetic scams that we all have to put up with. Or if you get bored, give them a call and entertain yourself by annoying them with nonsense.

17 March 2013

Orange on St. Patrick’s Day?

Category: Cooking/Food,Life — Posted by Michael at 1906

ChocolateOrange GuinnesscakeEarlier I posted this photo via Instagram with the comment “My dad would be very happy my St. Patrick’s Day dessert features orange icing. Chocolate Orange Guinness Cake.” I thought it was worth expanding into a blog entry with a better explanation.

First, as the caption states, it’s a Chocolate Orange Guinness Cake with Orange Buttercream Frosting and it turned out delicious. I chose it based on the fact that it contained Guinness therefore, it went well with my traditional feast of corned beef and cabbage with potatoes. However, after I began making it, I realized that my father would be very happy about this cake. Not because he had a sweet tooth (he did) or because he had some affinity for Guinness (he did not), but because the the orange buttercream was orange in color.

You see, my father, being 100% Italian, was the only one in our house who had no Irish in him. As such, he jokingly rebelled against St. Patrick’s Day and everything green. When we made desserts that were died green, she insisted they did not taste as good as their naturally colored counterparts. He was known for wearing orange on St. Patrick’s Day just because he could. On years when he made a concession such as wearing a green tie to work, he would also sport the pin my mother gave him which featured his favor orange cat, Garfield, saying “It’s St. Patrick’s Day, big fat hairy green deal!”

So, consider consider this cake an unintentional nod to my dad and the holiday he felt came one time too many each year.

15 March 2013

The 100K Mark

Category: Life — Posted by Michael at 1018

I’ve mentioned before that my brief video of Husky Homestead in Denali, Alaska has gone a little bit viral. What you not have noticed is that over the holidays it crossed the 100,000 views mark! I’m still somewhat stunned but it is fun to watch the number keep climbing on a simple 30 second video that I shot while on vacation. At present it’s up near 120,000 views.

01 July 2012

My Cousin Theresa’s Book

Category: Interesting Links,Life — Posted by Michael at 1831

A Long Way From RunnemedeAlmost everyone’s career has some interesting moments, but how many people can say that their career has had enough interesting moments to fill a book, nonetheless a book that people would actually want to read?  My cousin (first  cousin, twice removed on my maternal grandmother’s side for you genealogy buffs out there), Theresa, can say exactly that. She spent her career as a member of the US Foreign Service. She was in Saigon, Vietnam during the Tet Offensive and again at fall of Vietnam. She was Consul in Cebu, the Philippines, chargé d’affaires in Laos, Ambassador to Guyana (appointed by Ronald Reagan) and Ambassador to Brunei (appointed by Bill Clinton) among many other fascinating positions and places.

I strongly encourage you to take a look at her newly published book, A Long Way from Runnemede: One Woman’s Foreign Service Journey. I’ve known Theresa forever and have always loved hearing her stories but reading them all in one place made this a book even I couldn’t put down. Besides, the fact that the cover features a picture of her standing in the Oval Office with Ronald Reagan has got to tell you the book is going to be interesting!

Check it out on Amazon.

06 May 2012

How many people watched my video?!

Category: Interesting Links,Life — Posted by Michael at 1335

I don’t shoot many videos, but since my DSLR camera can shoot HD video, I occasionally shoot a few short clips while on vacation or of my 2 year old niece on special occasions. I’m not crazy enough to try and host my own videos so I use YouTube to host them and embed them on my site. I know they’ll get viewed on YouTube as well, but never expect many views.

Most of my videos have at most a hundred or so views and most have much less. Then there’s the 30 second video I took at Jeff King’s Husky Homestead in Denali, Alaska. it was getting a view or 2 per week until few months ago. I started seeing comments on the video. I never get comments on any of my videos. They started out as hate mail from misguided animal rights folks who don’t understand dog sledding. But then it turned into normal comments.

The part that I find astonishing is that while my other videos still have at most a hundred or so views, this video is now at nearly 33,000 views. I can’t explain it, but it’s fascinating to watch as people from over 129 countries have watched it. Besides in the United States, it appears to be most popular in Hungary, Germany and Poland.

So, feel free to check out what apparently 33,000 other people have already seen!

16 March 2012

Omnibus catchup update

Category: Life — Posted by Michael at 1140

I was recently told by a someone whose opinion matters more to me than most that I don’t write in my blog enough anymore and that my weekly Twitter summaries are all that are there anymore. This post is my attempt at fixing that a little.  If you don’t like reading things that jump from topic to topic you may want to click away now! You can consider this a bit of an omnibus update focusing on what’s going on in my life instead of just random comments on world events.

I’m back from my vacation in California. I spent a little under a week in Los Angeles County with my friend Marianne who I’ve not seen nearly enough of over the past decade. Besides doing a lot of long overdue catching up, we visited Griffith Observatory, Long Beach, the La Brea Tar Pits, Hollywood, Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank and more. And of course, we visited more than a few filming locations from the Back to the Future movies. You’ll be seeing and reading more about this great trip when I eventually get my photos posted online.

After many months of spending a crazy amount of time trying to find all the various pieces for the bathroom remodel, it was finally completed a few weeks ago. All of the hours taken up by searching for the the stuff we needed for that project can now be committed to other projects. The next big one is working on digitizing the dozens of VHS home movies that have been sitting around quietly decomposing in a cabinet. I wish I’d started that project about 5 years ago, but better late than never! Now I just need to get all of the home movies on film reels converted before “vinegar syndrome” does them in!

So, there you have it. That’s what I’ve been up to, plus working on planning a vacation to Michigan later this year. Now that you’re caught up, hopefully I’ll do better at keeping up with this my blog going forward.

11 December 2011

Montreal and Ottawa Photos finally posted

Category: Life,Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1046

Bosecours MarketMy photos from Canada are finally online. We spent 5 days waking around Montreal and exploring the sites. All of the kilometers that we walked were offset by eating tons of amazing French food at a variety of sidewalk cafes. After 5 days of enjoying Québécois hospitality we rented a car and drove to Ottawa where we got to experience the British ceremonial and political side of Canada. I honestly did not how much there was that I didn’t know about Canada. It was a really educational trip. The last day of our trip was spent in Perth, Ontario, where we wentto the Perth Garlic Festival which was a ton of fun and a delicious experience!

The photos can be found in the photos section of the site.

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