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RSS and Social


Pretty cool way to create a personalized info-graphic, and support a good cause at the same time.


My Social Strand is a new website that recently launched to support the 'Be the Match' campaign. A national database of bone marrow donors. The site, with your permission, will cull your Facebook activity, ask you a few questions and create a very cool personalized info-graphic. The picture includes info about your name, how prolific you are at posting, compared to the world and your friends, as well as various other tidbits of info usually found in the 'at a glance' communication style that has become all the rage. It will provide some fun information like the name of the number one song when you were born - while playing it in the background.

The site was created to promote the national bone marrow donor program - a pretty cool cause.

What was the suprising thing I learned?  Apparently ALL of my friends on FB have identified themselves with the republican party - how can that be?  there has to have been some kind of glitch in the program….



Coming soon to a hotel near you. NFC, iPhones and some very cool ideas. 


Why we are on the brink of some revolutionary ideas that use technology to change our lives….

One of the reasons I like Apple so much is that they get it. They did not invent the MP3 player, or the cell phone but they implemented versions of them that were ultimately better and changed entire industries in their wake. I believe we are going to see some pretty cool marriages of technology and ideas relatively soon inspired by that thought process, and destined to change the way we travel.

Case in point: OpenWays

OpenWays is a technology company using cell phones (something everyone one in the world has) and a combination of other emerging technologies to change the way we access hotel rooms, as well as how we access the amenities within them.

Picture this: you have a business trip out of town and book a room at a hotel online. As is usually the case you give them an email address to send you a confirmation as well as your cell number as part of the reservation. When the day of the trip arrives, you fly the the city and grab a rental car. As you approach the hotel, your cell phones location awareness and proximity to the hotel triggers a text message to your phone, assigning your room number to you. When you hit the lobby, no need to go to the desk, just head strait for your room, where the NFC chip in your phone provides you access into the door. You are prompted to download and launch an app that gives you access to the rooms amenities, for example, you can open and close the blinds, control the TV and it will even switch the sign on the door to 'do not disturb'. Not to mention order room service, request your car from the valet or find other services typically provided by a concierge. On check out, your complete folio is on your phone, just push one button and confirm your charges to check out.

Future science fiction? - No, test trials are being run now in Chicago and several other cities around the world.

Not unlike with Apple - there are several pieces of this technology already in place in many shapes and forms, ways to check out on your TV, NFC payment systems for soda machines, etc. All disparate systems that are poorly implemented. Watch OpenWays… they will take the ordinary and do something extraordinary with it. You heard it here first.


My New Favorite Wine Accessory

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A couple of weeks ago, on our cruise on the Celebrity Solstice I discovered my new favorite wine accessory. It's a really simple device, and I'm surprised that I had never seen it before in all of the wine stores I have been in.  Its a wine bottle coaster. What makes this particular one unique, is that rather then setting on the counter or table, where you intend to place for bottle of wine, it actually clamps onto the bottom of the bottle, and follows the bottle around where ever you happen to put it! I'm a pretty sloppy pourer and am constantly getting red wine rings on the counter or table, much to my wife's dismay.

With this coaster, if you have a drip on the side of your bottle, it will gather in the bottom of the coaster, rather than making a ring.  Made of heavy stainless steel, with a rubber grommet, it is sturdy and should fit most bottles.

Only $14 from Amazon here - it is a must have for any oenophile.

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Celebrity Solstice - Week 2

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Our second week aboard the Celebrity fleet was spontaneous, unexpected and unplanned thanks to a fortunate turn of events. this time aboard the Eclipse's older sister the Solstice. Very much her twin, the only significant differences were in minor details such as the color of the chair pads by the pool, however, her layout and feel is identical and every bit as elegant and refined. We hopped off the Eclipse in Miami and grabbed a car for the short trek up to Lauderdale. Because we had not planned on being gone two weeks, we found ourselves out of clean clothes, so we found a little coin operated laundry and did a load of underwear… images of the guy in the commercial standing in front of a washer in just his boxers flashed in my head, although in reality I don't have six pack abs, and the lady at the end of the row of driers was a short round cuban grandma, rather than a coed. It's a good thing no one uses my life as a basis for marketing as it would not sell much.

Once aboard, exploring was not necessary, however we did keep trying to get off the elevator where our old room was - and it took a solid day to settle into the orientation of our new spot on the ship and not zig when we should have zagged. Again, as with the Eclipse, our favorite part of the ship without a doubt is the lawn club up on deck 15. The perfect place to relax in either sun or shade, with your barefoot toes curled up in some real grass, and just a stone's throw from the bar. Our drink of choice, the Summer Solstice, a refreshing blend of fresh basil and blueberries, mortared mojito style with some simple syrup, lemon infused rum and white cranberry juice. The only real problem is that it is very easy to down three before you know it.

The lauderdale port was busy, with five ships, including the massive Allure of the seas. Only slightly taller than the Solstice, it is easily twice as wide, and gives the impression that someone welded two ships side by side resulting in a cruise ship guppy with a catamaran top side. We'll have to give her a try sometime. Budget has a car rental place directly outside the port entrance, with a free shuttle so logistics were smooth and easy, and embarkation was without issue. The one notable observation was a veritable army of staff with disinfectant spray and rags. We had learned that the Princess ship in port had an outbreak of intestinal virus and was delayed in sailing. Celebrity was taking no chances and had staff wiping down counters, cue line ropes, turnstile handles, and even pens between each patron.

Our itinerary this week was Western Caribbean, to include Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and two new ports for us, Roatan, Honduras and Costa Maya, Mexico. Although we had been to Cayman several times previously and initially planed on some new exploration, we found ourselves doing the quintessential tour to stingray city. This sandbar sits approximately a mile from shore where fisherman of old used to clean their catches and you can stand in waist deep water along with a couple hundred stingray and feed them squid. Followed by a trip to seven mile beach, and a comfy umbrella chair with a bucket of ice cold local beer. After all, some days you just need to let the Caribbean blow you where the trade winds may.

Cozumel was an experience this trip. We chose to take a culinary class at a mexican resort. Most cultures express themselves best through their food, and who am I to argue with a three course lunch and open bar! We donned chefs hats, aprons and stood at our own cooking stations where we made fools of ourselves as we prepared and fabulous meal of chili shrimp on a hand sculpted tortilla cake, some of the freshest grouper I have ever had with sautéd vegetables in a tamerin fruit reduction and cinnamon caramelized plantains with a chocolate tequila sauce. Luis or chef instructor was exceptional as he managed to maintain composure while he attempted to herd thirty somewhat inebriated stray cats, across the finish line. As he stated, however, when we sat to eat at the end, if your lunch sucks, feel free to blame the chef that cooked it!

We had never been to Roatan previously and were not sure what we were going to do when we got there. The port is small, and not at all touristy like many. There is no Diamonds Intl every block. Directly outside the port gates is the Honduras you would expect with dirt floor single story buildings, stray dogs playing in the street, corner stores with an gold guy standing in the doorway and a peeling Coca Cola logo emblazoned on their wall by some sales rep back in the 60's. We ended up spontaneously renting a vespa scooter and took off through the village for parts unknown. The rental guy said it had a full tank of gas, although the gauges did not work, and gave us his cell number in case we got stuck somewhere it would not start… Off we went, first through the village to the east side of the island, traveling through several little village townships, and past a few nice gated resorts. Then, much to our surprise, on the left a shopping center, with an Applebee's, Wendy's and Grocery store. It was very out of place but a welcome stop with a clean restroom!

A funny thing happened there. The parking lot was virtually empty, with only two or three cars in the Wendy's lot. We Vespa'ed in and took a space in the front row next to the building. As we dismounted our sturdy steed, an security guard in body armor and holding an intimidating looking rifle approached us and indicated that these spaces were for cars only. We needed to move the scooter over to the official 'scooter' parking on the other side of the lot. Several skinny painted spaces with a half dozen other small motorcycles in them. Far be it of me to argue with a man holding a gun - but the lot was empty - sheesh!  Good thing I didn't have a hummer and try to take two spaces!

Our travels took us to a spot on the less developed East side where you could see both the North and South shores from one overlook.  Trinket salespeople had set up little stands in front of what was obviously once a overlook bar and cantina, but was now abandoned. Down the hill was a closed down empty beach resort in disrepair. We then traveled all the way back to the West side beaches, where we had a nice lunch at a little hotel and open air cafe owned by an american couple that relocated to the island about five years ago and had built the hotel, one cabana at a time.

Our outing was uneventful save one unexpected pothole that was almost problematic for us, however we heard another older couple had dumped their scooter on the horrible roads and ended up in the hospital. We did see them the next day re-joining the ship in Mexico, both with arms in a sling…. Out adventure was a blast. We got rained on, blow dried, and puttered over hills where one moment we had the scooter floored just to make it up the hill then had the brakes mashed so hard your hands hurt to slow down the other side, but  In hindsight, the next time we are there, we will probably rent a jeep -

The last stop of our trip was Costa Maya, Mexico. This port is relatively new, built in 2001 specifically to bring some cruise ships to that part of the coast. It was then wiped out in 2004 by a hurricane, and re-opened again in 2006. It consists of just a small shopping village, and the obligatory Senior Frogs and Carlos & Charlie's. along with a pool, and dolphin swim area. Here we took a bus tour to the Chacchoben ruins, since we had never done ruins before, and it was very interesting. This particular set of Mayan ruins was built from 300 to 600 AD were also partially restored and opened as a park in just in 2001 to coincide with the port. Other than that, there is really nothing here for an hour in any direction other than swamp land and mangrove. As a result the stop is not really worth it. We saw the ruins in about an hour, and spent the rest of the day at the little port. Because it is so remote, there are really no local vendors, only the officially sanctioned ones within the port area walls, and the only beers available are $4.50 for a Dos XX at Senior Frogs… As a result, this stop was my least favorite of the whole trip.

The ship itself has some very nice features and good policies. for example, at the pools, there is no towel nazi dispensing only 1 towel per person, just a huge bin where you can grab two or three good sized towels and make yourself comfortable in padded chairs or one of several climb shell love seats that have pull over canopies. There are also good pool attendants that place a card on empty chairs saying you have 30 minutes to return, otherwise they remove your stuff and release the chair. - That way you don't have the problem of the 0800 ladies that put a book on a prime chair and never returns until 1pm, The other really interesting thing on board is that the technology for the TV's and photo studio is all driven by Apple. When you first get on board, they swipe your sea pass card and take your photo. Then all the rest of the photo's you take the rest of the cruise are processed through face recognition and appear on your stateroom TV automatically. No searching for your stuff in little photo studio with 1000 other people. Very cool, but also kind of creepy in a big brother way. The internet lounge is actually an iLounge set up very much like an Apple store with the same look and feel.

Once again the food was exemplary, with great menu choices, specialty restaurants, Good sushi at 5:30 every evening to tide us over until dinner at 830 and an ice bar martini lounge that featured a showy six-drink martini sampler for just $15. (see video below) Although we have never sailed Celebrity before, their solstice class ships now have two new fans, and we have already booked a 14 day Southern Caribbean for January next year.  Kudos to the staff and crew of both the Eclipse and Solstice. We were impressed and will most definitely be back.


Photo Tour: (not a lot of interior ship photos of the Solstice, as it is identical to the Eclipse - those shots are here.


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At Sting Ray City

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Pano at Cozumel

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The Cooking Class

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Our desert plates

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180 pano of the port at Roatan

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Iguana Sanctuary in Roatan

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Abandoned Cantina Overlook, Roatan

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My lunch buddy at the cafe - he was a tortilla mooch.

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 He also like to climb up the humming bird feeder, then hang on the side of it until it tilted, dumping sugar water into his mouth.


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Roatan port shot from the ship.


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Our favorite lawn chair oasis.

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Glass Blowing Studio

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Chacchoben Mayan Ruins, Costa Maya

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Port at Costa Maya



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The Martini Sampler on the ice bar

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Our fantastic table mates, Betty, Jean, Doug and Robyn





A fabulous week on the Celebrity Eclipse

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If you know Colleen and I, you know that we absolutely love to cruise. This last week we spent on the Celebrity Eclipse and had a fantastic time. Although this was something like our 9th or 10th cruise, it was our first time ever on the Eclipse, as well as the Celebrity line. As a whole I would have to give the crew, ship and line a solid thumbs up. Clearly not a younger demographic cruise, the mean age was probably 50-60's, however, it was obviously a step up in class from Carnival or RCL. I think there were probably 10 kids total on board, but not too many walkers… and we are getting to the point now where the belly flop pool party contest has lost its luster. Rather a glass of wine in cellar masters or the afternoon in the solarium is becoming more our speed.

One of the absolutely amazing things the Eclipse has on board is a lawn. It's funny how something so simple and common on land is probably one of the best things ever about this ship. The entire top back deck is covered by probably close to an acre of green, wonderfully manicured turf. In the evening they would have jazz under the stars and provide lawn leaner chairs, blankets, cheese plates and great music. Add a bottle and wine (or two!) and we had one of the best evenings we have ever had on a ship. Just sitting under the stars, enjoying life.

The other fabulous thing this particular ship has is a glass blowing studio. Underwritten by the Corning museum of glass, they designed the studio into the construction of the ship with specialty built electric furnaces for melting and annealing the glass. the artisans would have one or two shows a day and produce beautiful pieces that they would then raffle off for free at the end of the show. We won two! The larger pieces they made would be auctioned at the end of the cruise to support a scholarship program for the Corning school of glass. There were also several very cool pieces made over the years by various people as the art the ship displayed, as well as in the dining room as oil and vinegar carafes, etc.

At about 120 tons, the ship is big enough to have all of the amenities you would expect, nice pools, solarium, casino, promenade shops, theatre, specialty restaurants, large dining room and several different styled clubs and venues, but is not so huge you feel lost. the open space is very good and we never felt crowded by other passengers. Embarkation and disembarkation were without issue and quick. Entertainment was good and the comedian was hilarious.

We spent most nights in the dining room with two other couples we met as table mates and usually shut the dining room down, just chatting endlessly about whatever. The menu was a good combination, with the left side of transitional fair that never changed, escargot, french onion soup, cesar salad and several traditional entrees that you could always get, and the right side changed every evening showcasing the culinary talents of the kitchen. sone were hits and some were not so fabulous, but you could mix and match sides and if something came out you did not enjoy, our waiter just took it away and brought you something else, no questions. We found ourselves overeating as usual.

This ship also had enough first for us. An adult beverage package. $44 a day got you all you could drink, beer wine and mixed drinks up to $8. we purchased one package and shared it. You are probably no suppose to, but we found it was plenty for the two of us. the only restriction was that you could only order one drink at a time and had to wait 15 minutes before ordering another, but once we both had drinks in hand, it seemed to work well for our timing and consumption - or over consumption as the case may be.

Ports included San Juan, Puerto Rico, St Maartin and St Kits, all very nice - more below, with a photo tour….

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The Eclipse in port at San Juan

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The Lawn Club

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The Martini bar was an ice bar

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Elevator Atrium

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Small Dining room in 'Michael's Club"

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The wine bar was Cellar Masters, they had 50 or 60 wines by the glass you could access using a card and get an oz or two of something you wanted to try.

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Wine cage in the main dining room

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Our Matre' D took me inside for a tour.

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I thought the sinks in the rest rooms were ver cool

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Art gallery and Molecular Bar where they made very unusual drinks using rose petals, liquid nitrogen and raspberry foam.

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Hot Glass show on board

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Here Dan is beginning his vase

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Almost done

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Finished product the next day

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The solarium, one of my favorite parts of the ship.

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Fortification at San Juan

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The island was covered by feral but very cute kitties - very sad.  I wanted to take them all home.

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Street in San Juan

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The Brew Pub

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St Maartin - there were six ships in that day!

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One of my favorite beers… Cant find it in the states. (love you Ren Ren)

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Clam Digging on the beach.

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180 panorama.

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Shipwreck beach at St Kits.

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360 pano at shipwreck beach, St Kits.

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St Kits

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Monkey's Monkey's everywhere!

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Before we got on board, we had dinner at the Marriott in Ft Lauderdale. The beach restaurant was dark, but used these very cool light up menu's.

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Have to include the obligatory sunset picture!

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The End!



20 years - 20 photo's - Happy Birthday Danielle!

It's been 20 wonderful years - I can't believe how the time has flown by. 20 years ago …. George Bush Sr was prez, Whitney Houston released I will always love you, Nirvana's big hit was smells like teen spirit, Disney released Aladdin and Wayne's world was born. A stamp was 29 cents, Gas was $1.13 and Jonny Carson retired on the tonight show.  It was a different world. I can't wait to see what the next 20 years brings for you!

Happy Birthday Buggy!


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Danielle Fall 08

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My New (old) Year's Resolution


Yes, it is that time of year again where we all resolve to join a gym, work out more, loose 20 pounds and generally be better people. I'm not much for the whole get healthy thing. At 46 I have long decided that I enjoy good food, good wine, and loathe working out enough to not really care anymore if I'm 20 pounds overweight. Who am I trying to impress anyhow. This guys not going to be hitting the singles bar anytime soon. Believe me, I understand that this is probably not the healthiest point of view to take, however, if you have ever had the macaroni and cheese at Morton's or a fantastic filet slathered in béarnaise you will agree, it's probably worth it. Maybe its like they say about smoking. each one takes seven minutes off your life, and since I don't smoke, banana's foster is my vice. Additionally all the current research I have read says that red wine, in moderation, (thats the tough part) is good for you and heart healthy.

Thus my new (old) years resolution. I say old, because I have actually resolved this before, The idea was given to me by a HR VP I once worked with  - thanks John. For each month of 2012, I resolve to invite another couple over to the house for dinner. It seems simple enough, but in reality it takes some work and planning. I think we got 7 or 8 done last time. Spending an evening with another couple over good food and a glass or two of wine is good for the soul and I would argue better for you than the equivalent amount of time on a treadmill.

One of the things I have learned in my last years quest to learn more about wine, is that environment is a huge factor in how a wine tastes. Have you ever had a great glass of wine in a restaurant and then purchased the same bottle in a liquor store only to be disappointed when you get it home? Thats the x factor of time and place, great company and environment. A glass of wine alone is never as good as the same glass is with good friends. Hopefully we can share a glass together this year!


Soul searching during the holidays...

Love Actually

Well, it has been almost a year now… I started this blog last January with the intent of it being a journal of my thoughts, tidbits from life that I found interesting, and hopefully a place to share and insight or two . As you can clearly see if you have been following along, however, January 2011 started off well with 13 posts, that obviously fell off rapidly with absolutely zip for October and November. I hope to be better about that over the next year.

It has been a very interesting year, and sitting here behind this same laptop I typed on three hundred fifty some days ago when I started this, I would not have foreshadowed where the year has led me. It started off benign enough, but ultimately, through a series of events, in June I made the decision that I was done with the corporate grind. I quit my job. Life is short and it was time to pursue some happiness.

On the upside, since that time I have obtained my level I sommelier certification and have learned some basic oenology through UC Davis' online offerings. When it comes to wine, I have now firmly moved from the world of unconsciously incompetent, to consciously incompetent. Who knew there was so much to know about the simple grape vitas vinifera. Not only has wine become a passion, it remains endlessly intriguing. As I'm sure many have discovered before me, I could probably spend the rest of my life learning about it and only begin to scratch the surface.

Most recently I have begun to volunteer for The Infinite Monkey Theorem, a local winery that produces some really nice stuff. It has been very interesting to see both the differences and the similarities between commercial wine production and doing small, six gallon batches at home as a hobby. It's too bad there are not a lot of employment opportunities in wine production in Colorado… I could be very happy there.

Harvey MacKay had it right when he said, "Find something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life". As a result I'm back where it all started, more than 25 years ago, playing paramedic. Don't get me wrong, I am acutely aware that the corporate world has provided opportunities and afforded a pretty nice lifestyle to raise a family. I also know that my decision has not been without consequence. My soulmate has had a rough six months putting up with an uncertain future and a move to accommodate our new lifestyle. Not to mention, it's probably not over. I have gotten it into my head now that it would be a blast to get in a RV and visit 365 wineries in 365 days (and blog about the whole thing) - hopefully more on that later...

As I sit here at work, on the eve of Christmas Eve, waiting for another call to drop, and taking stock of my life I find it very interesting that the movie that is on AMC right now is one that I must have missed previously.  Love Actually, is a british ensemble movie staring just about every english actor out there and I had never seen it. The older I get, the more I am beginning to believe in fate. The movie's message is poignant.  Colleen - I'm sorry for the rocky road … and all I want for Christmas is you.


Epic Fail; See if you suck as bad as I did...

So a few days ago I was working at a health fair providing flu shots. We were set up in the atrium of a community college (beautiful hall) and the ceiling of the hall was adorned with 20 flags from different countries around the world. I assume to represent the international students that attended the school or such.

As the day progressed and we were slow I found myself staring at the ceiling, wondering what flag that was... I then realized out of the 20 flags present, I could definitively identify only 5, and was 'pretty sure' on only 3 others. Pretty pathetic!

Thus I challenge you to the same. Identify the 20 flags below... in the comments, let me know how you did. - No cheating and googling, be honest.  How many did you nail, how many do you think you know and how many did you go huh?

I'm right there with you... Not that world geography was ever a strong point for me, but really, these are major nations - not Zimbabwe or something.

Good Luck.






















Answer Key is Here


One of the better 'Wine101' articles I have read recently

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This is one of the better Wine 101 articles that I have read recently. Good stuff and mostly true. Original article can be found here

How to Enjoy Wine, or True Things vs. Total BS About Wine

By Allison Davis

For some reason wine has become this thing. This huge inflated pompous thing that people have invented corny language around, jacked up costs for, and made intimidating as all hell. Then you find yourself retreating to your couch with whatever's cheapest and goes well with sweats, or smiling through a glass of something at a dinner party that you can't pronounce and aren't sure if you're supposed to enjoy, instead of actually enjoying the wine.

Well, here's the thing, the only thing, really, about wine: It's all about what you like. It's like any other thing, a simple thing that gets complicated by the fact that knowing what you like depends on lots and lots of other things, things you've heard of, like the grape and the region and the year, and there's a lot of additional things within those things. But if you know a few things, things that contribute to the major thing, which is just what you like, then you can stride into Trader Joe's with confidence, or order a bottle for the table without hesitation, or between tears/laughter (depending on what kind of night you're having), when your girlfriend stops to exclaim, “Damn, this is good wine. What is this?” you'll actually KNOW. So how do you figure out what you like? Follow me.

Care. You probably drink a ton of wine. When you like something, like really smack your lips, and pour yourself another. How often do you look at the label and note the grape, winery, year, and region? Because that's a really good start. Start there.

Try something new. You wanna be the girl who sticks with the California Roll of wines for the rest of her life? No? Then step out of your comfort zone. Order something you've never heard of. Order it because it has a pretty label. Order it even though it sounds more like an STD. Order it because the server is cute. There, now you're carpeing the diem.

Wine comes from grapes. I know you know, but stick with me. They're either red or white, and they have names. You got the staples, like Merlot, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. There's also Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Sangiovese — OK, you know, there's tons. While no two bottles taste quite the same, there are certain elements that each grape possesses. For example, Chardonnay is sort of buttery and thicker, while Sauvignon Blanc is usually lighter and drier. Cabernet Sauvignon tends to taste fruity, like actual grapes, while Syrah tends to taste more like the earth those grapes come from. These tastes can be tweaked by the harvesting and barreling process, but don't worry about that just yet. If you start paying attention and trying new things, eventually you'll get an idea of what tastes like what.

(Snob tip: Syrah and Shiraz are the same thing, but Shiraz is usually Australian or South African. Petit Sirah is a totally different grape. If some snob is giving you a hard time, drop these bombs and they'll likely stfu.)

Much like size, region matters. Here's three reasons why: 1) Some wines are named for the region they come from, like Champagne, or Bordeaux, or only come from a certain region, like Tempranillo — a grape often used to make Rioja, which comes from the Rioja region of Spain. 2) Some grapes are grown all over the place, but because of different climates, seasons, rainfall, etc., they taste different from region to region. Like Cabernet Sauvignon, universally known as the grape that's down for whatever. 3) Because of different climates, seasons, rainfall, etc. specific to each region, different grapes from the same region tend to have the same taste to them, even though they all taste different. Sort of like CPK pizzas.

(Just recently, I realized that I don't really like most French wine. I just don't. And I felt bad about it for a second, because France is IT when it comes to wine, the snobbiest and most intimidating of them all, and I felt like I should like it, all of it, but then one day I thought to myself, “You know what? It's too sharp for me. I don't like French wine, OK? I just don't. So go sacre bleu yourself, frenchies.”)

The year also matters. In any given year, shit happens. Sometimes it rains twice as much as it's supposed to, sometimes it doesn't rain at all. Sometimes there's a frost and all the grapes shrivel up and die (sad). Sometimes the stars align and the sunshine smiles on the grapes, and the grapes smile back, and it rains when they're thirsty and it's dry when they're not, and our little grape friends go on to make delicious wine because they love us — like in 2008. So if you know what kind of grapes you like and what region you like, you can look on the internets and all sorts of nerdy wine blogs and charts will pop up telling you if a particular year produced the kind of wine the vintners were hoping for. See how we're breaking it down now? Good.

Know how to describe what you like. But use your own words. Forget wine terms, or what's written on the back of the bottle. When you're trying that something new, really take a second to taste the wine on your tongue, in your throat, what it does to your sinuses. How does it make you feel when you're drinking it? Does it go better with sitting in a dark room, listening to Cat Power and thinking about your ex, or better over a bonfire and passing the bottle back and forth with friends? Get creative and specific, and if you're ordering from someone who knows their stuff, they'll know exactly what you want.

For example, I like big, old world dry reds that taste like an old leather shoe, fill my whole mouth up, and make me feel like I should be smoking a cigar (I don't smoke cigars) and playing bocce. If I tell this to a sommolier, not only will she know exactly what I'm talking about, but she'll probably bring me an Argentinian Malbec or Italian Syrah ... or something new and awesome that I've never tried before but will probably enjoy.

FAQ: WTF does "dry" mean? It's wet, ain't it? I'm including this in here because I wondered this for YEARS but was afraid to ask. I know that sounds like a middle-school sex pamphlet title but it's true. Basically, dry means now you taste it, now you don't. The flavor just dances on your tongue for a second and then it's gone — little to no lingering aftertaste, and yet strangely savory.

I thought a “bouquet” was for flowers? Why do they keep saying that? It, as well as “nose,” is a fancy way of saying what a wine smells like, and you can totally roll your eyes when anyone says it to you.

What about decanting? What's up with that? Decanting is a fancy way of letting wine air out, and it's legit. It's basically wine's way of unbuttoning the top button of its pants after a big meal. You know how awesome that is, right? Well, wine feels the same way. And unlike you, tastes better as a result.

When the waiter pours a little into the glass, and looks at me all expectantly, what does he want from me? He wants you to nod your head so he can get to pouring for the other people you're with, which you should unless it tastes like complete ass.

Is more-expensive better? Hell no. But sometimes, yeah. It's a lot like clothing — it doesn't need to be expensive to be awesome, but the first time you try on a dress that's tailored to your body perfectly and made of a material that you never want to take off, you get why it costs $300. It's the difference between Forever 21 and your favorite boutique. Sometimes a bottle is expensive because the vineyard read the grapes bedtime stories every night and knit each grape little blankies so they didn't catch colds. I guess the takeaway is to not feel pressured to buy something because it's expensive, but craftsmanship costs you (in a good way).

Do I need to pair white with chicken and red with meat? What about rose? Or zinfandel? I mean, whatever. Seriously, drink what you want with who you want, where you want, when you want. Trust your taste buds and you can't go wrong.

I hope this helps, my lovely lushes. Once you know what you like, though, don't get snobby! Keep trying new things, ask questions, and have fun. There's tons to learn and appreciate; it's a whole big, sloshy world to discover. Cheers!

Allison Davis is the quality assurance tester for Idle Cellars and is drinking a glass of it right now.