29 November 2016

Looking back at Gatlinburg

Category: Photography,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2211

Seeing the news today about the horrific wildfire affecting Gatlinburg, Tennessee and surrounding area is heartbreaking. I vacationed there 2 years ago. It’s a truly fun tourist destination. I’m at least happy to hear that Emergency Management officials initial report that Ober Gatlinburg ski resort had been destroyed turned out to be false.

This seems like a good time to take a look at my photos from Gatlinburg when it wasn’t the frightening disaster area it is right now.

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.

06 March 2016

Mythbusters Finale

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0017

I’m not usually one to get sappy or emotional over the ending of a TV series (ok, maybe The West Wing a long time ago) but the final episode of MythBusters was tonight and it’s truly the end of a great era. It started more “water cooler” conversations than can be counted. It’s put so many words and terms into public view. I mean, really, who would know what ballistics gel or ANFO is if not for seeing it on MythBusters.

It’s also given us catch phrases that stuck with us. Who could ever forget “Jamie wants big boom,” “Am I missing an eyebrow?” or “When in doubt, C4!” Of course, my favorites are still “I reject your reality and substitute my own,” “Failure is always an option,” and “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!”As much fun as it it to see the guys (sometimes gratuitously) blow things up, there was a more important role played by MythBusters over the past 13 years. Adam and Jamie showed us that the scientific method can be fun and rewarding. They also showed that almost any problem can be worked out and resolved using science, engineering and patience.

In particular, they taught the younger generation (or two) that this might be something they want to do for a living. I guarantee that our country and many others around the world have MANY more scientists and engineers because of MythBusters and I’m sure there are so many more students at every level studying science, technology, engineering or math (aka STEM) right now because Adam and Jamie taught them it’s fun, exciting and cool.

Think about that… A TV show that was meant to entertain, educate and have fun with common myths and misperceptions, starring two guys that none of us had heard of 13 years ago, managed to play a real part in shaping the future of the science and engineering communities. Who would have thought that was possible? Well, OK, I know who thought that… every single one of us who ran into work or school on 24 Jan 2003 and said “OMG, you have to see this cool new show that was on Discovery Channel last night!!!”

23 February 2014

Sochi Success

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0937

sochi_logoIt’s always sad when the Olympics are nearing an end. You know that you’ll have to wait another 4 years (well, 2 years, really, even though the Winter Games are much better) for them to come around again. Going into this year’s Olympics in Sochi, I wrote a post about not being as excited as I have been other years. That was partly because I was busy in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, but moreso because of the location. Prior to the start of the games we heard nothing but stories of how hotels weren’t ready, terrorist attacks were a real possibility, the Russian government would curtail some human rights, Sochi had gone so far over budget, stray dogs would be slaughtered and so many other negative things. Now, with the closing ceremony less than 24 hours away, the games seem to have gone off without a major hitch. Bob Costas even made it back so we didn’t have to endure any more of Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera!

What’s more important, it seems like everyone, myself included caught the Olympic spirit once the competition got underway. I watched way more of these olypics than I expected. Thanks to my DVR, I recorded dozens of hours worth of Olympic broadcasts. The best part is being able to fast forward past the stuff I don’t want to see like figure skating and cross country and catch all of the events I do want to see. I even got into curling a little bit this year for the first time.

Did Russia deserve the host the games? I’m probably not qualified to answer that question. Did they pull it off successfully? It certainly appears so!

16 February 2014

Olympic athletes being cyber-bullied? People are pathetic.

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0002

I understand that the Olympics are a competition, but I can’t imagine what kind of miserable human being watches a young British athlete see her Olympic dreams dashed and responds by sending her threatening messages? Do these same people see an injured person or animal on the ground and rush over to them to kick and stomp on them?

Especially because they say the harassing messages possibly came from South Korea, I hope Christie makes a great comeback at PyeongChang in 2018!

Read Elise Christie’s story here.

07 February 2014

Early thoughts on the Eve of Sochi 2014

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0111

sochi_logoAnyone who has been following my blog for a number of years knows that I’m a fan of the Olympics, especially the Winter Games. Heck, it’s the only sporting event I actually care at all about except maybe an occasional Philllies game. I’ve been a fan pretty much all of my life and can name the host city for each winter and summer Olympics since I was born. I think I became interested when my mother bought me a little eagle mascot from the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Typically, as the games get closer, I get my television viewing schedule all set (a task that is made infinitely easier now that the DVR has been invented), load up the appropriate apps on my phone, sign up for e-mail alerts, etc. I’ve done those things this year, but even though it’s easier than ever to follow what’s going on at the games these days by following Twitter or Instagram, the excitement isn’t there as usual; at least not for me.

With less than 24 hours until the opening ceremonies, most of the news coming out of Sochi is about topics such as the abysmal condition of many of the hotels that the media are being housed in. I know people love to hate the media, but I do think they deserve water in their hotels. Other articles talk about the risk of a terrorist attack. Every Olympic Games carries a certain level of security concerns but when the Summer Games were in London 2 years ago, we didn’t park warships off the coast in case the need to evacuate Americans arose. On the bright side, if any terrorists show up (and I hope they don’t), perhaps the Russian government can send one of the contracted dog murder squads after them.

Regardless of all this, I’ll be watching the Olympics as usual. After all, it only comes every 4 years. I just hope Russia can pull it off and manage to avoid making regret taking the time to watch. At least I’ll be watching from the comfort of my home where I have running water, doorknobs, shower curtains and no ferrel dogs or construction workers living in my bedroom.

29 June 2013

Hometown Farmers Market Disappointment

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 1825

For the past 2 months I’ve been going to different local towns’ farmers markets because our town, Gloucester Township’s market (called Blackwood Farmers Market after the neighborhood it’s held in) doesn’t start until the end of June.

Yesterday morning I went to the opening day excited to be able to shop close to home while still being able to support local farmers. What a disappointment! There were only 2 farmers there. (Luckily one was my favorite, Sorbello Girls.)

While there was a honey stand, bakery and a winery, most of the other vendors did not belong at a farmers market. No one wants to see a chiropractor, buy jewelry or buy other junk at this sort of event.

We did get there just in time for the local politicians to give speeches. :-/

Here’s hoping it improves immensely as the season progresses.

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.

21 May 2013

SS United States

Category: Interesting Links,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0029

This is a great article from TIME magazine about the SS United States. I’d love to see the ship turned into a museum/hotel/dining/shopping complex like the Queen Mary out in Long Beach. Marianne and I had a blast visiting the QM. (Photos of that trip are here.)

The United States could be such a cool attraction at Penns Landing instead just sitting there rusting. It’s a piece of history that needs to be preserved.

More info can be found at www.ssusc.org.

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.

31 March 2013

Worth a read… The Broken Hamburger

Category: Interesting Links,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 1600

When you think of casual dining chain restaurants, you don’t usually think of heartwarming stories that make you feel good about humanity. However, this story is worth a read. It’s a little sad that a waitress at Chili’s treating an autistic child with care and compassion is front page news but on the other hand it makes you feel good to know that there are people out there who do care about brightening the day of a child just because they can. You can read the article on CNN.

18 August 2012

Belated Olympic Coverage Thoughts

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2331

In an earlier post I commented that my posts tend to be more plentiful during the Olympics. As it turns out, I was on vacation in Michigan for the entire second week of the London 2012 Games so I just finished watching all of the events that my DVR could hold plus the Closing Ceremonies. (For somehwat obvious reasons, I don’t mention online in any form when I’m on vacation.)

I did keep up with London 2012 while away thanks to constant alerts on my phone and a few nights of watching the games on TV. One of the cool things about being right near our neighbors to the north is that you can watch Canadian TV. So, I got to watch some of CTV’s coverage of the Olympics. It was fun to watch something other than just NBC’s coverage.

That leads me to the main topic of this post, NBC’s coverage of the games. Before I left, I wrote a post about the tribute to terror victims that NBC chose to cut out of the Opening Ceremonies broadcast and replace with, of all things, Ryan Seacrest interviewing Michael Phelps. (I’m not so much against an interview with the now most decorated Olympian of all time, but show it at some other time. You’ve got 2 weeks of shows ahead.) Add that to the fact that the supposed expert commentary consisted of Matt Lauer and Meridith Vieira demonstrating how clueless they are and I definately think it wasn’t NBC’s finest hour. That being said, I think the whole #NBCFail movement was a bit harsh about the tape delayed coverage. There’s a simple reason why the events were shown on tape delay. Very few people are at home to watch the Olympics at 2 pm Eastern. Personally, I was really glad to see that the overall amount of coverage was huge. Between 6 TV channels and the online streaming it was physically impossible to watch all of the coverage. I do, however, think that NBC should have live streamed events even if they were going to be on the “big show” in primetime.

This is the opinion I held all week as I watched the events I’d recorded. (Yes, I know the fact that I watched most events nearly a week late, makes me care even less about a 5 hour tape delay on NBC’s part.) Then tonight I watched the closing ceremonies. The coverage wasn’t bad. Even if we did have to listen to Ryan Seacrest a bit, at least we weren’t subjected to Matt and Meredith wondering who the Spice Girls were. But then as the ceremonies were winding down NBC found a new and creative way to piss off viewers. They broke away from the ceremony to air a full episode of a new show they’re premiering this fall. I was able to fast forward through it and see the end of the show, but it didn’t make it any less infuriating a commercial is one thing but a 44 minute show???

Speaking of commercials I did catch the commercial for NBC’s coverage of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and it made me hope the next 2 years go fast. Here’s hoping NBC learns from their mistakes before then. I won’t hold my breath.

29 July 2012

View the Tribute Segment that NBC Edited Out

Category: Randomness — Posted by Michael at 0114

The Opening Ceremonies of the London 2012 Summer Olympics were impressive for many reasons. If the Beijing Opening Ceremonies represented how creepily impressive thousands of people all thinking alike can be, then the London ceremonies showed the world what can be accomplished when creativity and free thought are allowed and put to their fullest use.

While watching the impressive event on NBC, it appeared that we were seeing the entire ceremony minus the many commercial breaks. Apparently, that wasn’t the case. It’s now known that NBC edited out a 6 minute segment that represented a somber memorial tribute. It was not officially for the victims of the 7 July 2005 terror attacks in London, but it did feature photos of the victims of those attacks which occurred only days after London was awarded the 2012 Summer Games. The segment can be viewed in BBC One’s broadcast right here.

There’s a bit of an uproar online about this editing choice by NBC. I definitely disagree with the removal of this segment. When I watch the ceremonies I want to experience them as they were intended, not as NBC wants me to see them. I recorded them, so I could fast forward any part I didn’t want to see. The only thing (besides commercials) that I skipped over was Paul McCartney’s performance. (Sorry, I’m not a Beatles fan at all.) Additionally, I see nothing wrong with acknowledging the attacks. During the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, the attacks of September 11th were acknowledged.

The part of the outrage I cannot get behind is the comparison of NBC now showing the tribute segment to the IOC’s refusual to acknowledge the 1972 terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics that year. Obviously, I am neither pro-terrorist or anti-Israel, but I think the IOC made the right decision by deciding against holding anything more than the small gathering that they held in the Olympic Village. The 7/7 attacks took place in the host city, London, right after games were awarded. The murder of Israeli atheletes occurred 40 years ago in a different country. That does not make it any less of a tragedy, but there was also a bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics; should we acknowledge that too? Should every Olympic related tragedy be acknowledged at every opening ceremony? Just because you don’t mention something constantly, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or that it wasn’t tragic.

28 July 2012

The Online Olympics

Category: Interesting Links,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2331

I usually write many more posts in my blog during the Olympics than I do in the intervening years. The Olympics are also the only time (other than the occassional Phillies World Series appearance) that you’ll ever see sports of any kind mentioned on my website. However, usually I’m writing them as I watch the Games on television. This year that’s changing some. The more widely popular events are on the primetime broadcast and (my favorite) the late night broadcast. But what if you want to watch the women’s badminton preliminaries or for some odd reason, any fencing match. Then you’ll be glad (as I am) that NBC is live streaming every round of every sport at which they have a camera. While you can view it on their website, the best way is to download the NBC Olympics Live Extra app.  (Fair warning: You must be a cable or satellite subscriber to view NBC’s online content.)

28 March 2012

Political correctness taken to scary new heights

Category: Interesting Links,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2203

This article leaves me a almost speechless. I’m not a fan of political correctness to begin with, and even less so when it’s forced upon kids. I’m a firm believer that religion has no place in schools. However, trying to remove everyday words from kids’ vocabulary in a misguided attempt to avoid offending anyone who has ever believed in any religion is deranged.

The words that the school is banning are not words like Jesus Christ or god. I’d get 100% behind that. The words they are banning are things like dinosaur and birthday. My personal favorite is however, the horribly controversial word… wait for it… pepperoni. If you are offended by any of these words, you need to wrap yourself i bubble wrap, lock yourself in a room and turn out the lights so that you can’t be offended by the color of the paint on the walls.

If I had a kid in NYC schools I would immediately throw him/her a big dinosaur themed birthday party. And yes, you guessed it, I’d serve pepperoni pizza.

Read the whole disturbing article here.

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