Thursday, July 31, 2008

Still not convinced Gardasil is safe

Recently, I took my two eldest daughters for their annual physicals at the pediatrician's office. Once again, they offered my 14-year-old the opportunity to have the Gardasil vaccine. And, just like last time, I refused it.

This is not a "moral" issue for me. I am under absolutely no illusions that giving her a vaccine that guards against STD viruses will make her any more or less likely to engage in sexual activity. All I can do is teach her the values that I believe in, and when she reaches adulthood, it's up to her to decide what is right for her.

There are those who may feel that I am being irresponsible in not "protecting" my daughter by getting the vaccine, but after doing a great deal of independent research, I still have some serious concerns regarding Gardasil. I believe this drug was fast-tracked into the market, driven by corporate greed rather than public safety. In particular, I'm concerned over the lack of data on how Gardasil affects a young girl's reproductive system. Since the vaccine is so new, we won't know the ramifications of this drug until the girls getting vaccinated reach child-bearing age.

It reminds me of the DES saga all over again. And, I'm not willing to take that chance with my children.

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control released information regarding adverse reactions to Gardasil vaccine: nearly 8,000 women have reported side effects ranging from pain at the injection site, to paralysis, and even death. One of the "selling points" for getting your child vaccinated with Gardasil is that it's been available in Australia for several years. Now, they, too, are reporting negative reactions to the vaccine, as detailed in
this article from VaccineRX.

Until further testing is done, my daughters will not be receiving this vaccine.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore?





I'm sitting here watching the tribute to Randy Pausch on 20/20. It's heartbreaking. His life was cut too short, and I mourn for his wife and his children.

One of the most thought-provoking questions he asked in his lecture is: Are you a Tigger, or an Eeyore?

A flair for being silly

So, recently I gave in and joined Facebook. I decided it would be a good way to keep up on things with my teenage daughter without invading her privacy or giving her the third degree.

Thus far, it's been a very positive experience. I find that I'm re-connecting with old friends, and keeping in touch with family and friends that I wish I could see more often.

Lately, I've been playing with some of the more colorful applications available on Facebook, including the "Flair" application. You get a virtual bulletin board where you can post "buttons" with a wide variety of funny pictures, sayings, and slogans. You can also create your own flair, and share it with others.

This has become my new favorite time killer. A couple of days ago, I created a flair button of something I say whenever someone asks me whether or not I exercise. I put in the directory so that others could see it, and choose it for their bulletin board, too.

So far, 5 people I don't even know have added the button to their flair collections. I feel like I've actually contributed something to society. How pathetic is that?

Behold, my silly contribution:

Monday, July 28, 2008

John Edwards' Scandal: The Silence is Deafening

Blame it on that old piece of paper hanging on my wall, the one that says I graduated with an honors degree in Media Studies all those years ago, but I am absolutely enthralled by the drama that is unfolding regarding former Presidential candidate John Edwards.

Back in December, 2007, the National Enquirer ran a story about John Edwards and his alleged mistress, a former campaign aide and filmmaker. According to the article, Rielle Hunter was pregnant, and the tabloid claimed that Edwards was the father. Vehement denials ensued from all involved, and a close friend of Edwards' (also a member of his campaign staff) ultimately stepped forward and claimed that HE was the unborn baby's father. The man was a married father of three, and yet, he came out and acknowledged paternity.

Things seemed awfully fishy, even then, and there were rumors of a cover-up, with suspicion that hush money was paid using funds from Edwards' campaign coffers. A scandalous story, if true.

And yet, the hasty denials from Edwards and Hunter were enough to shake the mainstream media off the story. The alleged mistress went into seclusion, Edwards and his ailing wife kept on the campaign trail, smiles firmly in place, and the man who claimed responsibility for the child stayed with his wife and kids. Everyone conveniently moved on.

But, not the Enquirer.

They recently published an even more explosive story that claims Edwards was caught with Rielle Hunter at a hotel, visiting their alleged child. The story has been corroborated by a hotel security guard who was on duty that evening.

Praying's a good idea right about now, John.


Here's what I don't understand: WHY is the mainstream media totally ignoring this story?

So far, only Fox News--while not as "fair and balanced" as they'd like folks to believe--has had the guts to report the story. They were clever, though: Fox is keeping their emphasis more on the "media blackout" than the allegations themselves, just in case the story's veracity comes under further question.

I've taken some heat from friends on the fact that I am intrigued by this story. They consider the Enquirer a less-than-reputable publication and a questionable "news source," and therefore, don't see a need to discuss it just yet.

Granted, the British version of the Enquirer has been forced to apologize to several celebrities in recent years for inaccurate stories, including Cameron Diaz, Teri Hatcher, and Britney Spears (although, the story they apologized about--that her marriage to Kevin Federline was crumbling--ultimately ended up being true after all).

They do get things wrong on occasion. But then again, it was the Enquirer that discovered the photo of Donna Rice sitting in Gary Hart's lap, ending his run for the White House. They were also the ones who found the photo of OJ Simpson wearing those Bruno Magli shoes that he claimed he never owned. I do believe that tabloids like The Star, OK, In Touch, and US magazine often make stuff up just to sell magazines, but I find that the Enquirer does their homework better than the others, and actually turns up some great scoops that no other news outlet manages to find. I'm convinced this is one of those instances.

So, where the heck is the mainstream media on this? The fact that the NY Times, the major cable networks, and the other 24-hour news stations have not yet mentioned the brewing controversy is remarkable in itself. It's likely that they scrambling now to get reporters on this story, to search out independent sources and corroborate the Enquirer's claims, but new info is going to be hard to come by. There's no way they'll legitimize the Enquirer's reporting by citing them as a source, and if Edwards' spin doctors are worth even a fraction of what he's paying them, they'll advise him to keep his mouth shut for as long as possible. The minute Edwards makes a formal statement, he green lights the story and implies permission for the other news outlets to report on it.

Yes, I understand that the man's wife is very gravely ill. I understand that he has left the public arena, for the most part, and deserves his right to privacy. But, until very recently, Edwards was also one of the people mentioned as a possible running mate for Barack Obama. He is a man who consistently wrapped himself in the cloak of "family values" when he campaigned, and spoke of the love story with his wife as proof of his commitment and steadfast nature.

Now, it appears that it was all a load of b.s. And NO ONE is calling him out on it except the Enquirer and Fox News.

This story won't keep for long, though. It's going to come out, and it's going to be a doozy, on many fronts. I think we're going to be hearing a lot more in the weeks to come about cover-ups, corruption, and illegal money transactions, in addition to the inevitable navel-gazing on the failure of the media to pursue this legitimate news story.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

17 years and still going strong...

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart!




P.S. to everyone else: I'll have you know, that headpiece/veil confection was considered UNDERSTATED for Brooklyn, circa 1991.

Friday, July 25, 2008

R.I.P. Randy Pausch



Back in May, I asked for prayers for Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor who so bravely faced his battle with terminal pancreatic cancer. His book, The Last Lecture, has become a #1 bestseller, based on the farewell talk he gave his students. A video of that talk became a YouTube sensation, and it afford Pausch a level of celebrity that enabled him to use his last months of life to spread the word about pancreatic cancer, and the need for more research to find a cure.

I've been following his update page for a long time now, and these last couple of months, he's barely had any entries at all. His last entry was in late June, when he said that they were going to pull back from the chemotherapy, which seemed to be causing him more harm than good at this point. His "box scores" tracking the cancer's progress were grim. I knew it was only a matter of time, but the news that he had succumbed to his illness still surprised me. I had really hoped for a miracle.

My condolences go out to his wife, his 3 children, and the rest of his loving family. He accepted his cancer diagnosis with extraordinary calm, grace, and an unflagging drive to make the most of the time he had left.

Rest in peace, Randy. The world was a better place for your having been here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back to the drawing board--literally

In March of last year, I was so happy about the news that the newest Disney princess was going to be depicted as girl of African-American descent. It's empowering for little girls to see movie characters--even in cartoon-form--that they can identify with.

Now comes word that Disney has had to scrap the original version of The Frog Princess because of problems with the storyline and key characters. According to reports, they had the Maddy character start out as a chambermaid working for a mean white woman, and ultimately getting rescued by a handsome white prince.

The revised movie is being kept under wraps for now, but rumor has it they'll be changing the love interest to someone with a darker complexion, perhaps of Indian or Middle Eastern descent.

While it's good to see that Disney is responding to the criticism of their indulging of stereotypes, I hope they also pay close attention to the heroine herself. One of the things I liked most about some of the newer Disney offerings wasn't just the multi-cultural heroines they created, but the way those heroines were NOT portrayed as helpless damsels in distress.

For example, Mulan was an independent young girl who respected her culture and family traditions, yet stepped up and took charge when things got ugly. She saved the day with her cleverness, not to mention some impressive fighting skills. A nice departure from the Sleeping Beauty/Snow White heroines of yore, waiting helplessly to be saved with a kiss from their prince.



So far, Maddy's gotten a new name (Tiana) and a new love interest. Here's hoping they give her a decent storyline, too.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

That poor kid


People.com is reporting that General Hospital actor Ingo Rademacher has named his newborn son Peanut.

I used to watch GH back in the '80s, during the whole Luke & Laura era. I remember when Ingo joined the show as Jax: tall, blonde, and gorgeous. I thought to myself: what girl wouldn't be lucky to have a guy like that in her life? So handsome...so perfect.

But, seriously?? PEANUT???

Why don't you just get the kid a onesie that says, "Kick Me" while you're at it?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy Bday to my lawyer

To my big sister, Laura, who turns (but certainly doesn't look) 45 today:


I hope you have a great day celebrating with Curt and the kids--and that my gift arrives on time!

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why?


Why did you go on FOX News--a notoriously right-wing conservative network--and make idle chit chat during the commercial breaks where you used the "N" word and declared you wanted to cut Obama's b*lls off? Did you honestly think no one would be listening, or that they wouldn't expose what you said?

Is it jealousy, anger at the fact that YOU came up short in your Presidential bid, unfathomable stupidity, desperation for the spotlight, what??

Seriously, Jesse. This is harder to figure out than one of those 5-stars-in-stars Sudokus.

What the heck were you thinking?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Project Runway Season 5 Premiere

i'll be watching...tonight at 9! video

Monday, July 14, 2008

Relaxing at sea

The cruise I took had two At Sea days, one at the beginning of the trip, and one at the end. In this entry, I'll cover some of the fun and relaxing things we did while in between ports of call.

As soon as we boarded the ship, my sister and I went to the Spa to book a facial for the first At Sea day. We treated ourselves to the most pricey one they had: the Elemis Oxydermy Facial. According to the Spa Menu, it's supposed to be a "corrective facial" that targets problem areas, using "cutting edge technology" combined with microdermabrasion to "guarantee dramatic results towards Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Pigmentation, Open Pores, and Scarring." It was a 50-minute treatment, and cost $169 plus gratuity. Yes, you read that right.

I figured it would be worth it if my skin looked great for all of the pictures we were planning to take, so we did it. I did notice a slight improvement in the way my skin felt, but honestly, not $169 worth. Also, as I expected, the facial technician spent an inordinate amount of time trying to sell me stuff to supplement the facial. As soon as I made it clear that I wasn't interested in spending tons of money on their products, she was a lot less chatty and got right to work. I did like the way I came out in the pictures, though, so I consider it "mission accomplished."

On the last At Sea day, there was a $129 special that included a deep cleansing facial along with a full body massage, and other specials for only $99. If I'd known, I would have waited! Oh well, live and learn.

We ordered Room Service for our first At Sea day, so that we could be lazy and take advantage of our balcony. I ordered wheat toast, salmon, cream cheese, and coffee. My sister and I sat out on the balcony and enjoyed the sounds of the ocean as we sped towards St. John.


There also wasn't a heck of a lot to do in the way of activities, but we had fun exploring the ship and playing some of the trivia games. We won Name That Tune and were given a Carnival medal, so that was fun. We didn't bother sitting in on the Port Talks because they are broadcast over and over again on the in-room TVs.

The highlight of the day was the "Hairy Chest Contest" on the Lido deck. The guys who competed really put themselves out there, dancing and flirting and whipping their shirts off. It was loud and boisterous and rowdy--we loved it. The guy who won was a man named Gene, from South Jersey, and the entire crowd (including us) was behind him all the way. We met up with him later in the elevator, and his wife laughed about how proud he was of his trophy. He beat men nearly half his age--bragging rights, for sure!

We tried our luck at the Casino, but didn't do so well. My mother and my aunt were also surprised at how fast their money evaporated there, so we didn't spend as much time there as I thought we would.

Bingo was fun, but I found the prizes to be a bit stingy. Cards were $10 each, or 3 for $20, and even though they had consistently good crowds, the prizes were $100, $120, max $200 for the last game--and, more often than not, there were multiple winners, so you had to split that. Do yourself a favor and DON'T just sit there waiting for the guy to walk over and sell you a card. We did, and it took FOREVER. Bring cash with you and walk up to the front to get a card. You can also use your Sign & Sail card, but the lines are long.

The highlight of our bingo experience: we overheard a guy sitting behind us say that he only needed one more number, N44. I needed it, too, along with a bunch of others, so at that point, I crossed my fingers for him that he would win. The VERY NEXT number called was N44! This particular Bingo outing was held right before a show performance, and it took so long to get everyone their cards, they only had time for ONE game. So...the prize was $600, and he was the only winner! I think my sister and I screamed louder for him than he did, we were so excited.

There were quite a few kids onboard, but only the older ones (14+) were a bit of a nuisance. I have 3 kids of my own, so I'm normally more understanding of the antics of children, but there was a definite lack of supervision for these older ones--probably because of the lack of appealing activities for them--that lead to mischief. I saw teens running through the hallways, goofing around in the elevators, and knocking on random stateroom doors late at night just to annoy people. I hear this is common on other ships, too, but it would be nice if the cruise lines could be a little stricter in terms of kids under 18 running around unattended after a certain time of night.

The gift shops had some t-shirts, jackets and baseball caps, but were otherwise lacking when it came to clothing choices. I also wasn't impressed with their makeup and perfume selections, but the jewelry was beautiful, and they had some nice handbags. I didn't end up purchasing much of anything in the gift shops on board, which was good, because it meant I had more money to spend in port.

I brought along the book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, but didn't have a chance to start it until the second At Sea day. (Good thing, because it's such a wonderful book, I might have been tempted to stay on my balcony all day and just read.) Instead, I popped in and out of the Internet Cafe to say hi to my kids back home. The cafe smelled a bit of cigar smoke, because it's adjacent to the Ionian Lounge, but I found the pricing plan to be a good value. I never had to wait for an available computer, and the internet manager was very helpful.

This was definitely a low-key cruise, which was exactly what I was looking for.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Carnival Caper Info

One of the best resources we've found for doing research about cruises is the Cruise Critic website. Travelers share knowledge with one another, and provide a wealth of inside info on tours, cabins, and accommodations on every cruise line that's out there. It's also a great way to connect with other passengers who will be cruising with you, and arrange a "meet and greet" so that you can make some new friends onboard.

On one of the Carnival threads, I found that someone had created a website for posting the daily Caper information sheets that are provided on board. It took me a while to scan them all, but it was worth it. It's nice to be able to "give back" in some way for all of those folks who helped me and my family plan our cruises in the past.

If you're reading this and want more info on the Carnival Capers, you can go to the website: www.Capers.Stateroom.info

Here's a direct link to the Capers from my Canada cruise Capers from Carnival Victory, 7/7-7/12.

Dining Room Dancers

The one thing I found most disappointing about my recent cruise was the nightly entertainment. In my opinion, the dancers that performed in the Caribbean Lounge were subpar on this trip, especially compared to the ones I've seen on Princess and Celebrity. The singing and musicians were great, but with one or two exceptions, the dancers were decidedly unenthusiastic, and often woefully out-of-sync. The costumes were also a bit cheesy. Overall, the shows were still enjoyable, and a fun way to pass the time, but if I had to rate the quality of the dancers on a scale of 1 to 10, they'd get a 5--and that's probably a little generous.

The singing was better, thank goodness. The female lead singer had a fantastic voice; the male lead was good but just a bit "lounge lizardy" for my tastes. He did have a bit of a "Tom Jones" quality about him. The worst act by far was the magician they had one night. Good lord, he was AWFUL. Old, simple tricks that you've seen a zillion times, with lots of emphasis on the smoke and mirrors and spectacle of the trick rather than any actual skill in executing it. His show was so boring, I left before the end because I couldn't take it anymore, and that's something I never do!

Fortunately, the staff in the dining room more than made up for the lackluster pro performers. Each night, the wait staff put on a little show for us as we had our dessert. Some nights there was singing, and others had dancing that was fun, rambunctious, and hilarious. There was one waiter in particular who was an absolute joy to watch. For me, the dining room entertainment was one of the top highlights of the entire cruise.

Here's a video of the general spectacle...the waiter I'm talking about appears about midway through:


Here's another video, that highlights that one waiter in particular. This guy was really got into it, and the room went nuts for him:

Birthday Dinner

On the first night of my cruise, my mom and sister arranged to have a birthday cake for me at dinner in the Atlantic Diningroom. Our head waitress, NaNa, was wonderful. She only had two more cruises left on her contract after this one, and was heading home to the Ukraine by the end of July. At one point--without waiting for us to ask--she took my Flip and started taping so that I could get in the shot. Our assistant waiter was Gusti from Indonesia. You can see them both in this video, singing Happy Birthday:

video


The cake was delicious!



I also shared a nice bottle of red wine (Fetzer Cabernet Sauvignon) with Aunt Carole. As for dinner, the portions were smaller than I've had on other cruise lines, but the food itself was wonderful.

Canada Cruise, All Aboard!



I set sail aboard the Carnival Victory on July 7th, 2008 (my birthday!), along with (from left to right) my Aunt Carole, my Mom, and my sister Maria. Over the next few days, I'll be blogging a recap of the cruise, along with photos and video. If you're reading this and have any questions because you're planning to take this same cruise at some point, feel free to post in the comments section.

Embarkation at Pier 90 in NYC was a very smooth process. I didn't check my luggage; I had a duffle bag and a small rolling carry-on, so I was able to tote it right onboard myself. It was great not having to wait for my clothes to get to the stateroom.


The Atlantic Diningroom


My mother-in-law had warned me that the ship was "gaudy", but honestly, I thought it had a lot of charm. It was definitely over-the-top in terms of colors and lights and such, but certainly festive. Carnival touts their vessels as "funships", after all, so I suppose one should expect lots of Vegas-style decor.

My sister had arranged for the stateroom to be decorated when we arrived--a very nice touch:



The stateroom was a bit smaller than I'd hoped, but the balcony was great. We had our stateroom attendant, Raul, open the divider between our rooms, so that my mother and Aunt could come over and hang out with me and my sister anytime.

We ate lunch on the Lido deck, near the pool area. It was very crowded, but that's to be expected, since it was the only place on the ship that was open for lunch. The selections were limited, but the food was pretty good.

The muster drill took forever, and we started sailing away before it was even over. Instead of fighting the crowds to watch from the deck, we headed back to our room and watched from the balcony.

video

One of the coolest parts was passing underneath the Verrazano Bridge--not a vantage point you see every day!


They were running a special at the Internet Lounge for Sail Away day: sign up by that evening, and you get an extra 10 minutes free. It was $24 for 60 minutes, plus a one-time $3.75 set-up fee. I signed up so that I could keep in touch with the kids via IM and email, and it was worth every penny. The manager, Daniel, was very helpful. The entire ship had wireless capabilites, so I could have used my iTouch to access the internet, too (with the password, of course) but I found it much easier to use the ship's computers. They have one-click access buttons for logging in and out, which made the process faster than using your own computer. The only downside: the Internet Lounge is adjacent to the Ionian Lounge, which is a smoking area that STUNK of cigar smoke night and day. The smell drifted over and was mildly annoying, but after awhile, you learn to ignore it.

Other quick first impressions:
* The ship's photographers work a lot more quickly than on other ships I've been on. They take ONE photo, and that's it....if you're looking in another direction, blinking, or otherwise don't come out well, too bad. This was good, in a way, because we didn't end up purchasing too many!

* The "theme" lunches by the Lido pool--Italian, Indian, French, etc--were better than the standard choices inside. The deli choices were good, but the lines can get long. The hot dogs were very greasy and the hamburgers were overdone, so I'd skip those. The pizza at the back of the ship was consistently the best choice.

* The "drink of the day" was expensive. On other ships, it's been about $5, but on Carnival, it was $7.50 (including a souvenir glass that you will probably never use again. Refills were $6.75). The "Martini of the Day" was $5.50. I drank ice water (NOT the bottled stuff--that was pricey, too) and the free unsweetened ice tea, but if you're interested in the "unlimited soft drinks" card, it was $6 per day for adults and $4.50 per day for kids, with a 15% gratuity added on.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A toast to The Chief


As promised, I dedicated my very first toast on board to The Chief, who wanted to stowaway with us on the voyage. Sorry about that, Chief!

It's too bad you couldn't all come with me on my little trip--I had a great time. It's good to be back home, though, because I did miss the kids and the hubster quite a bit.

I'm going to post some more pictures soon, along with a review of the cruise. Until then, here's another one of me and my sister Maria, with "Funship Freddy":


Truly one of the oddest "mascots" I've ever seen.

Return to New York


Back in New York City bright and early this morning, reunited with my kids and hubby. I'll post photos and pictures once I've gotten settled in.

Did you miss me? ;)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Heading home again

Today is our second and final At Sea day. We're heading home!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Docked in Halifax, NS


This morning we arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a major port of call for cruise ships. We'll be visiting the shops and restaurants along the waterfront, and hopefully take a tour of Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Brewery (the oldest brewery in North America). I'd also like to see the Halifax Public Gardens, a 17-acre park that still looks much the same as it did in the 1800s, with winding gravel paths, Victorian flower beds, statuaries, fountains, and exotic plants from around the world.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Arriving in St. John, NB


Today I'm in St. John, the largest city in New Brunswick. From what I've read, it's not as quaint and charming as Halifax, but there are some nice Victorian structures mixed in with the industrial complexes in this city. It’s a very commercial harbor area, and the ship docks right in the heart of downtown at Pugsley Cruise Terminal.

Happy Birthday Christina!


My beautiful firstborn daughter. I'm sorry I can't be home today to celebrate with you, but I hope you know that I am thinking about you, and that I love you very much.

This day is very special for both of us. It's not just your 14th birthday, but it's also the anniversary of the day I became a Mom--the most wonderful day of my life.

Happy 14th birthday sweetheart!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sailing, Sailing



Today we're enjoying our first At Sea day, en route to our first port. I'm hoping to sneak in a quick beauty treatment at the onboard spa, and try my luck at the casino. It's probably too cold for the pool, but the shops are all indoors, and not far from our cabin.

It's probably "Formal Night" this evening, and I'm looking forward to getting some fun pictures taken with my sister. We're finally going to get pictures of us together, on a vacation, with Mom, and we WON'T be dressed like twins.

There are lots of annoying things about growing up and getting older, but being able to choose your own clothes is definitely a plus.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Leaving New York Harbor

As I've mentioned before, I'll be away for the next few days on a cruise with my Mom, my sister, and my aunt. It's a "Girls-Only Getaway", and something I've been looking forward to for a while now. I fully expect my father to be there with us in spirit, and I'm hoping he sends us some unmistakable signs of his presence during the trip.

I'm not sure if I'll have internet access there--the prices for internet time are a total rip-off, usually--so I've scheduled some blog posts ahead of time. There's something wonderfully comforting about knowing that my blog will still be cooking away and updating, even while I'm out there sailing the high seas--sorta like fixing up dinner in the crockpot and have it simmering all day long. In fact, I believe that having a crockpot is the closest I'll ever get to knowing what it's like to have a wife. After an entire day of running errands and shuttling my kids hither and yon, there's nothing like walking in the front door and immediately being greeted by the heavenly aroma of one's evening meal, all lovingly prepped and ready to eat. Aaaaahhh.....

Oops, sorry--I digress. More about my love affair with my crockpot another time.

So this evening, I leave from New York City, on a 5-day Carnival Cruise to Canada aboard the Victory:


My mother-in-law took a cruise on this same ship last year, and said it is one of the most gaudy cruise ships she's ever seen in her life. Judging from her pictures, it looks like Liberace, Elton John and Cher drew up the design scheme. I can't wait!!!

I've scheduled this entry to post precisely at 5pm, right when I'll be setting sail for Canada, celebrating my birthday in grand style. I'll be taking lots of pictures and video, and will post them, along with a review of the cruise, when I get back.

The Great White North, here we come!

41

Happy Birthday to me!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Now THAT'S funny


Jim Carrey and his girlfriend Jenny McCarthy were spotted by the paparazzi while vacationing recently. Instead of ducking and hiding like most celebrities, they re-emerged later in the day, with Carrey donning McCarthy's swimsuit. The paps went nuts.

I'm sure it's awful being hounded by photographers all the time, but at least this guy has kept his sense of humor. I love the expression on his face in the second picture. He's really "owning" the ensemble. Work it, Jim!

Friday, July 4, 2008

BBQ at my sister's house


My sweet Cathy



Hangin' with my godchild and Father Sal



An early birthday celebration for me and Christina

Independence Day 2008

The 4th of July.

A day to celebrate this wonderful country,
and all that it stands for.



A day to be thankful for the Freedom and Liberty
we too often take for granted.



A day of remembrance and gratitude for the soldiers
here and overseas, who continue to serve and
put their lives on the line for the rest of us.



Most of all, a day of prayer, for all of the men and women
who have given their lives to uphold the ideals
of these United States of America.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fearless prediction: Bachelorette finale


I won't be home next week to watch The Bachelorette Finale, so I'm going to go ahead and predict right now that Jason is going to get the final rose. I've been rooting for him since Day 1, but after seeing the "coming attractions" for next week, I'm convinced he's the last man standing.

Why? Because I've learned a sneaky trick for predicting the winner: watch the length of the shadows during the final rose ceremony. They always reject the loser first, so the sun is brighter and there's more glare. The producers make sure they save the magical sunset lighting for the inevitable wedding proposal. Judging from the clips, Jesse's getting the boot because it was all long shadows and nasty sun glare.

That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it!

Mid-Year Resolutions??

Today is July 1st, the 183rd day of the year 2008, with 183 days left to go.

It's a popular notion to make "New Year's Resolutions" on December 31st, the last day of the year. I'm wondering, though, if it might be a better idea to make "Mid-Year Resolutions" instead?

At this point, halfway into the year, we've had some time to get a feel for how things are going so far. It's a perfect time to reflect on what has happened in the past 6 months, get some perspective on how you've handled yourself, and focus on moving forward with 6 months that remain of 2008.

There's plenty of time left to get cracking and accomplish those goals that we all set for ourselves at the start of the year. So, take some time today, dear friends, and think about your Mid-Year Resolutions. Let's not wait until the year is over to look back, lamenting all of the coulda-shoulda-wouldas.

We've got 183 days to make some magic happen. Let's go for it.