Women’s Tennis – Officially Unwatchable!


On a Sunday afternoon, on a cool September day, there is nothing quite as enjoyable as watching a Tennis match.  I’ve always enjoyed individual sports more than team sports (other than Baseball).  I’ve often watched Tennis players like Roddick, Agasi, Nadal, Federer and others, and truly enjoyed it.  Back in the day I used to like watching Chris Evert play.  It was beautiful, graceful, and yes, powerful.

This past Sunday, September 9, 2012, I happen to be channel surfing and came upon the US Open women’s final.  Williams and Azarenka.  It was almost over.  Not the match so much (although it applies to that as well) but my interst in watching was over before it really got started.  To listen to Azarenka play tennis was like listening to a group of Muslim woman at a wedding.  She was wailing and ululating on each and every movement, so loud and distracting that I just couldn’t do it.  I had to change the channel.  I didn’t care who won at that point.  I realized that all of these years, while “grunting” has been a bone of contention in the sport, it was the grunting that prevented me from watching.

While some male tennis players do grunt, it’s really the women who have turned it into an art form.  Starting with Monica Seles, whose extreme grunting made ME want to stab her, it’s just gotten worse.  Now the World Tennis Association (WTA) is considering cracking down on it.  They want to start young tennis players out, learning how to play the game without the gruning.  I say – More Power to ‘Em, the WTA, I mean.  Detracters want to “grandfather” current tennis players from the rule, citing that the change would affect a trained athlete’s game and that’s not fair.

It’s not just that the grunting (and in Azarenka’s case, wailing) is distracting, it’s annoying and makes tennis unwatchable.  It’s unnecessary, undisciplined, and to be honest, tacky and rude.  It sounds like they are constipated and trying to squeeze out a log right there on the court.  It’s disgusting.

But Azarenka takes it to a new level.  I had never heard anyting like it before.  I was only half paying attention when I was channel surfing.  As soon as I heard the ululating wail, I had a flash back to 9/11 and the pictures of people ululating in the streets of many Middle Eastern countries, celebrating the carnage.  When I looked up and saw it was a simple women’s tennis match, I was quite literally shell-shocked.  I was shocked that this is what women’s tennis has turned into.  I was shocked that this was allowed.  I was shocked that this woman wasn’t embarassed for herself, I was shocked that the TV network didn’t bleep it out (because it’s as offensive as if she screamed “FUCK” every time she hit the ball.

Azarenka doesn’t belong in this sport, or any other sport, except maybe Olympic Weight Lifting.  But even that sport doesn’t allow excessive grunting.  And these men are dead lifting more than their own body weight – they should be allowed to grunt.

But what Azarenka is doing isn’t grunting.  It is wailing and it’s meant to distract her opponent.  It would be the same if Azarenka paid someone to lob tennis balls at Serena Williams from the side lines while Williams is about to return a serve.  I don’t know how this got so out of control.  There’s a thing called “sportsmanship”.  Wailing like a banshee at every turn isn’t sportsmanlike and I have to believe that the TV ratings for women’s tennis take a hit because of it.  In our society, the only thing that speaks is the almighty dollor.  So let’s stop tuning in to women’s tennis until it stops sounding like a delivery room during a breached birth.

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Signs the World is coming to and End


There’s no other explanation for the events that have unfolded than the earth as we know it will cease to exist, just like “they” predicated.

I know because on February 9, 2012, I AGREED WITH SOMETHING THAT MIKA BRZEZINSKI SAID ON “MORNING JOE” ON MSNBC!

Now I know what you are thinking. That can’t possibly be true. But it is. And here’s what happened.

Most of you know by now that the US Department of Health and Human Services has mandated that Catholic institutions that employ non-Catholics must provide a health care plan that includes birth control coverage. Now, think about that. HHS is not saying that Catholic hospitals have to dole out birth control, and they certainly aren’t saying that Catholic institutions have to PERFORM ABORTIONS. Although if you listen to the right wing media, this is the spin they have put on it. What HHS said was that they must provide for birth control benefits in the insurance plan that they provide to their employees. And if by chance the Catholic institution is self-insured, they have the opportunity to arrange for birth control coverage FROM A THIRD PARTY. All HHS is saying is that under the law, everyone is equal. Just because birth control is a coverage offered in the health care plan doesn’t mean Catholics are forced to use it. But I can guarantee you that most Catholics would use birth control.

When it comes to Catholic Hospitals and Universities, the majority of the EMPLOYEES are most likely not Catholic. We’re not talking about the executives of such who probably are. We’re talking about regular people who applied for and got regular jobs that happen to be at a place of business operated by the Catholic Church. So not only are these non-Catholics not obligated to follow Catholic doctrine, even Catholics aren’t obligated to follow Catholic doctrine. It’s a well-known fact the most Catholics do not follow the churches teaching on contraception. Mika Brzezinski being one of them.

While Joe Scarborough and his republican cronies have tried to turn this into a first amendment issue (Freedom of Religion) and they are saying that Barack Obama is blurring the lines between church and state, AND he is trouncing on the rights of Catholics, the argument has also been expanded now to include abortion and the whole “slippery slope” bullshit. Anything to distract people from the real issue. And here’s the real issue:

The Catholic Church doesn’t want anyone to know that the majority of their own “flock” does NOT follow the birth control doctrine. All that’s happened is that the White House, by trying to provide equality under its health care rules, has exposed this dirty little secret. Catholics use birth control. The Pope doesn’t have as much control over his minions as he’s like everyone to believe. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus say, don’t use birth control. And the Old Testament doesn’t talk about it either. Birth Control doctrine is a man-made doctrine.

Is there any difference between using a condom, or a birth control pill, and having a Man simply pull out before he ejaculates? Is pulling out before ejaculation a form of contraception? Of course it is. So birth control isn’t something that Rome is against, obviously. But they are if birth control involves a gizmo or pill, and it’s made public knowledge that Catholics use it. The Catholic Church is hypocritical on so many issues, but especially on this one. Why do they allow any man and woman to get married if they don’t plan on having children (“Be fruitful and multiply”)?

Now as far as Mika Brzezinski is concerned, she is a Catholic. I am a recovering Catholic (one day at a time, fingers crossed). She stated this morning that she believes that this issue is about Health Insurance Coverage and is not a cultural or religious issue. She also said that she believes in contraception, as do most Catholics. I agree with Mi……

I can’t even type it. I’ll try again. I agree with Mika Brz……. Nope, couldn’t do it. One more time. Deep Breath, Heavy Sigh.

I agree with Mika Brzezinski. THERE. I said it. She actually gave this some thought. She also talked to the White House, as a reporter, to get their statement on what was intended by this recent decision. She is not pro-choice and she knows that this is not about abortion. This whole argument is about two things. First, the right wingers want any chance they can to distort the facts and claim that President Obama is forcing Catholic Hospitals to provide abortions. Second, the Catholic Church doesn’t want the laid back approach that most Catholics have to contraception to be well-known. It diminishes the churches power, and exposes their lack of it.

Joe Scarborough and speaker of the house, John Boehner (get real, it’s pronounced BONER, NOT BAYNOR), need to check the right wing conspiracy shit at the door. The saddest part of all of this is that most American’s will only hear the filtered media frenzy of the right wingers and never do their own research to figure out what is really going on. The truth, I mean.

So today is the day I agreed with Mika Brzezinski. I will be watching the skies for meteors, comets, and asteroids.

Greed and Stupidity cause the music industry to lose money


I was on a web site recently. It was a discussion forum.  One forum visitor, replying to a another who was having a particularly difficult struggling with an emotional issue, posted a link to a music video.  I was curious so I clicked the link.  I was brought to YouTube and a video for a song called “Jealousy” by Will Young.  I had no idea who Will Young was, nor had I ever heard that song.  I loved it. (See bottom of this posting for the video link.)

After a little research I found out the Will Young was the original “Idol” from the very first year in the U.K.  The original version of the show is called “Pop Idol” and when it later came to America, “American Idol”.  But Will Young was the very first ever in that franchise to win. And he’s had a VERY successful carreer.  I couldn’t believe that even with all that I had never heard of him.  I’m not a kid anymore but I try to keep up with what’s going on in the world.  So finding the song, and the artist was a pleasant surprise.

I immediately fired up iTunes (as much as I hate iTunes, sometimes that’s just where you have to go) and did a search.  A pop up box said he couldn’t be found.  I was surprised and a little bummed out.  But the pop up box also said that what I was looking for was available on the UK iTunes site.  Cool!.  So I followed the link to there and found the song. When I tried to purchase it, I was asked for my iTunes account and after typing that in, I was told I couldn’t buy the song because I was in the US and I “wasn’t allowed” to purchase the song.  What?!  I suddenly remembered this happening to me a year or so ago when I tried to download some other song.  At that time I went through the process of setting up and account on the UK iTunes website, made up a UK address and all went well until I put in my credit card number.  I was told the credit card number belonged to a USA bank and therefore could not be used.  Fucked again.  At that time, I gave up, pissed off at how stupid this all was.

But not this time; I wasn’t giving up.  I went to Amazon.com and did a search and had the same problem with not being able to purchase it because I was in the US.  I was not yet deterred complete.  While FREE music download sites like Napster, Limewire and Kazaa are long gone.there are still ways to get free music.

Let me say, first and foremost, that I believe in paying for music.  If I could have handed Will Young the $20 for his CD personally, I would have done it gladly.  I would have paid him, his record company, a record store, or anybody else to legally purchase this music.  HOWEVER, THE MUSIC INDUSTRY ITSELF HAD MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO PURCHASE THE MUSIC I WANTED.

By using a torrent download site I was able to get the entire Will Young CD called “Echoes”.  I probably shouldn’t admit that I did it because it’s probably illegal.  But I will gladly pay the $20 to whomever should get it, if they can tell me how I can purchase the music without having to fly to the UK to do it.

So, music industry folks, I don’t know if you are dumb, greedy, or both.  It seems that one begets the other.  But you need to get you act together.  I believe that most people are like me.  I would gladly pay for ANY AND ALL MUSIC THAT I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE, JUST GIVE ME A WAY TO DO IT. Get your lawyers and your licensing and your greed in check and then people won’t be forced to steal music from the Internet.

Let me tell you something:  music is a very personal thing.  When a song hits you, it hits you hard and you will do anything to get it just so you can listen to it anytime you want, over and over again.  Some music is just like that – you simply must have it.  It’s innate.  I’ll say it one more time.  I WOULD GLADLY PAY FOR THE MUSIC I WANT IF YOU GIVE ME A WAY TO DO IT.  And I believe most people out there feel the same way. 

By the way, if you are interested in the song I was trying to find, here it is.  The dance edit called “Alias Edit” is fantastic, as is the rest of the CD.  If you are in the US, good luck.  Maybe I should send it out to anyone who want it.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 and why RIM is still #1


If you believe all of the media hype, RIM (Research in Motion, the company that makes BlackBerry) is about ready to shut its doors, its products are useless, and they have lost all of their market share. Nothing could be further from the truth.   BlackBerry somehow became the Microsoft of the smart phone world.  Everyone started to hate BlackBerry because they were at the top of the heap.  I’m not saying RIM hasn’t made mistakes, but like all global companies who grew very fast, sometimes the growing pains aren’t so easy to take.  But BlackBerry is getting itself back on track and is poised to retake the industry in the number one spot.

First, some house-cleaning.  Worldwide there are still more BlackBerry subscribers than any other smart phone.  Sure, maybe in the US, BlackBerry fell out of favor for a while, but worldwide, a BlackBerry is still number one.  And the BlackBerry does things that no other smart phone can do.  Three of the five top downloaded smart phone applications across all platforms are BlackBerry Apps.  They are BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter for BlackBerry, and FaceBook for BlackBerry.  I believe the number one downloaded app was “Angry Birds” – go figure.  Overall, worldwide the top cell phones are not BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android.  The top sellers are non-smart-phones, meaning regular old mobile phones, by Samsung, LG, and Motorola.  Consider that most people in the world can’t afford to purchase, let alone keep up with the monthly service charges on, a smart phone.

Now to the BlackBerry Bold 9900.  This is AT&T/T-Mobile’s version.  Each carrier  (like Verizon, T-Mobile, and other global companies like Vodafone-UK, Rogers-Canada) have or will have their own model with its own unique features.  Even the AT&T and T-Mobile 9900 versions are not the same.

As the mobile communications coordinator for my company, I have had the opportunity to work on many BlackBerry models including the 8800, 8820, 8310, 8320, 9000, 9700, 9800, 9810, and now the 9900.  I have also been exposed to iPhones of all types, and Android phones.

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the finest piece of smart phone hardware I have ever laid my hands on.  I LOVE it.  The full keyboard in a phenomenal achievement and never have I been able to glide and fly over that keyboard to type out an email or text like I can on the Bold 9900.  The phone is solid, the battery life is good, the screen images are crisp and clear; there isn’t anything I don’t like about the Bold 9900.

Here is why I like BlackBerry in general:

  1.  You don’t need to connect the phone to your computer to download and/or install applications. With the iPhone, you do, and that need to do so, is a pain in the ass.
  2. RIM/BlackBerry provides a full desktop software interface that can manage a whole host of things. This includes wirelessly syncing your media to your device whenever you are in range of your computer. The software can also help me rebuild a broken BlackBerry that won’t boot up.  It’s quite amazing what you can do with the tools RIM provides.  And the more technical you are, the more you can do on your own and not have to call someone and wait on hold.  Try to manage your Android with their desktop software – oops, there isn’t such a thing.
  3. Attachments – BlackBerrys handle them with ease.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an Excel, Word, PowerPoint or PDF, you can save it and view it later.  You can also edit it.  Try to do that with an iPhone.  If you don’t forever save the email that contained the attachment, you’ll never see it again.
  4. BlackBerry Messenger – think of it as the way Instant Messaging or Text Messaging should be.  Between BlackBerry users, there is no limit on the number of characters you can type into a BBM message, and you don’t need a special text messaging plan to use it.  It’s free if you are a BlackBerry subscriber.
  5. The BlackBerry Network – You probably heard something in the news back in October 2011 about how BlackBerry services crashed in Europe and eventually affected North America for a time.  It was bad.  But the truth is, there is an entire network of BlackBerry servers and services around the globe, all inter-connected, allowing for BlackBerry users to do the things they do, like BBM to people all over the world at no additional cost.  Everyone with a smart phone needs a data plan, but you don’t need a separate Text Messaging plan if you are messaging other people with BlackBerry’s.  When RIM experienced the big outage, they responded to it by offering several application from its App World for free to its customers.  And they weren’t silly apps like themes or games (although they offered some of those for free as well) but rather some of them were Super Apps, like Vlingo.
  6. BESX – The original product is called BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BES.  BES is used by companies to link and manage all of their BlackBerry devices, push out custom applications to its users, and connect the users to data on servers within that company’s network.  BESX is a somewhat scaled down version FOR FREE.  Smaller companies or companies that don’t need EVERY SINGLE bell and whistle that BES offers, will do just fine with BESX.  Our company moved from BES to BESX and had absolutely no problem with functionality, in fact, just the opposite, we actually gained some functionality that was not yet included in the standard BES product.
  7. Self-Service – While I don’t expect every smart phone user to have access to an IT guy like me, for the people at my company, I am that guy.  And I can fix any problem myself, load any operating system on any device, control which apps are installed, and through IT Policies on the BES or BESX servers, I can control what my users can and can not do with their BlackBerry.  For example, let’s say I didn’t want them to be able to download apps from App World and be able to charge them to our company cell phone bill (this is an option available within BlackBerry App World – try THAT with an iPhone or Android).  I can prevent them from doing that.  OR, I can allow them to do it if the company want to do it as a perk.  Overall, I rarely have to call AT&T for any repair, functionality, or maintenance issues.  I can do it all myself.  The only time I really have to involve our mobile carrier is if a phone gets dropped and broken, and we have to file an insurance claim, or if a phone is so far beyond repair that I can’t fix it.  I haven’t had this last one happen yet.
  8. NFC – stands for Near Field Communications.  The best way to understand it is to think of a Mobil Speed Pass where you wave a key fob near the pump, and your purchase is automatically charged to the account you set up (credit card, debit card, Mobil gas card, etc).  This is just one function.  You will also be able to tap (or bump) your BlackBerry against another to share media like music, photos, and music.

When people try to put BlackBerry in a box, and say that the company is “dead in the water” they seem to forget that RIM is truly a global company.  There are places in Asia where 70% of the population use BlackBerry for personal use – not for business.  BlackBerry is the most respected smart phone world-wide.  I was recently in Boston for the weekend staying at a very large, upscale hotel.  I was surprised that most of the young people I saw walking around with smart phones had BlackBerry’s, not iPhones, not Androids, like the media would have you think.  iPhones and Androids may have great sales right now, but customer loyalty for those platforms isn’t there.  Many people are returning to BlackBerry once they got their taste of being “trendy” and keeping up with the Jones’s and it didn’t work out quite how they had hoped.  And luckily, RIM is ready for them.  In 2012 RIM will be releasing even more new models and the new QNX Operating System (which was supposed to be called BBX but RIM got sued over the use of that name – it will probably be called simply BlackBerry X or something like that).   The new OS will bring the BlackBerry smart phone (and tablet) closer to a fully functioning computer in your hand.

So folks, don’t count out BlackBerry just yet.  Many predicted that when Microsoft Vista came out, it was the end of Microsoft.  There was a mass exodus to Mac….until Windows 7 showed up.  RIM is in the midst of readjusting, refocusing, scaling down, and paring out the dead wood in the company.  They got fat and happy, and then realized it was time to get to the gym.  Now they are well on their way to being sexy, and desirable, all over again.

AT&T and T-Mobile Merger – what were they thinking?


The Wall Street Journal Online recently posted a story about Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s top lobbyist, and his disappointment (well, he actually had a hissy fit) regarding the FCC’s report on the AT&T/T-Mobile Merger deal. (link to article at the bottom of this post).

What is AT&T thinking.  Right now, in the U.S., where both AT&T and T-Mobile are based, these are the only two major GSM network players of any note and size.  There are some other small regional GSM networks, but when it comes to the overall customer base, AT&T and T-Mobile own the GSM market.  Why would AT&T be surprised that the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) report said “no way”.  If the FCC agreed to it, that would be the same as if they said “if you want cable TV at your house, you only have one choice of providers”.  Oh WAIT!!  That’s exactly what we do have.  And that’s exactly why the consumer gets screwed, with no choice in supplier, resulting in price gouging.  That’s why the FCC’s report said it wasn’t a good idea for AT&T and T-Mobile to merge.  Because it would create the same type of monopoly that screwed the public with cable TV.

For those that don’t understand the GSM network issues, I’ll try to keep it basic just so you have the general idea.  AT&T and T-Mobile phones use a SIM card to identify the user, the device, etc., on the mobile phone network.  You can switch to another phone by putting your SIM card in another phone and that’s where your phone will now ring.  You can also go to other countries and buy a SIM card from a local phone company.  That local SIM card would come with so many talk minutes, and a data plan for using the Internet or email (if you have a smart phone like a BlackBerry).  Buying a local SIM card means you can pay significantly reduced rates over what you US based mobile provider would charge you while traveling.  This is a simplified version of the whole picture.

The two big players on the other side of the technology fence are Verizon and Sprint.  They use CDMA technology.  These phones do not require SIM cards in order to function.  But they are not as versatile as a GSM phone.  While CDMA network phone are beginning to have some usability in other countries, it’s still an evolving technology and not something that I, personally, would rely on.

The CDMA mobile phone network and the GSM mobile phone network, are two completely different technologies and never the two shall meet.

With the advent of 4G, the lines between the technology that each mobile carrier uses is becoming blurred.  Each mobile phone network can use 4G LTE and other 4G technologies.  However, AT&T and T-Mobile will still use a SIM card, while Verizon and Sprint will not.

If you, as a consumer, like the options available to you by going with the GSM network phones, you currently have a two main choices, as I said.  AT&T or T-Mobile.  Again, there are other smaller carriers out there using SIM cards but they are not big players in the market.  If AT&T and T-Mobile were allowed to merge, there would be virtually NO COMPETITION and the consumer would have NO OPTIONS if they want a GSM network phone.  It would be AT&T or nothing.

The competition between AT&T and T-Mobile is healthy.  AT&T allows users to multitask even when not in range of a Wi-fi connection.  With AT&T you can talk on your phone (using the speaker phone), while you surf the Internet, check email, look at your calendar, and use other apps on your phone.  With T-Mobile, you can’t, for the most part.  You have some possibilities of multitasking when you are in range of Wi-fi but it certainly is nowhere near the smooth operation of how AT&T does it.  Second, T-Mobile allows the use of Wi-fi to make phone calls; AT&T does not.  Yup, that’s what the current generation of smart phones is supposed to be all about.  Voice over IP (VoIP) calls over Wi-fi.  AT&T’s technology allows it, but AT&T as a company doesn’t.  T-Mobile does.

So, depending on what you want and what you are willing to pay for, you have options.  That’s good for the consumer and can drive prices down; including the prices of devices, and prices of service.  If AT&T and T-Mobile merged, the public would be left flapping in the breeze with only one option for this technology.  Keep in mind that conventional telephone service is controlled as a public utility.  Mobile phone service is NOT.  They can charge what they want, any time they want.  So with only one major company providing a service, the consumer loses.  This is why the FCC does not want to allow AT&T to buy the majority interest (52%) of T-Mobile, thereby creating one big monopoly; regardless of what Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s top lobbyist, says:

AT&T Slams FCC, Says Report on Deal Is Unfair Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204012004577072270368230262.html#ixzz1fOGwhm8P

Your comments are welcomed.

So long Stugazzi’s Restaurant


The last thing I ever want is for a local, small business in my town to fail.  But just because a business opens, doesn’t mean it will be successful, or deserve to succeed.  It is especially difficult for a restaurant.  One in four restaurants fail (or change ownership) in the first year.

Maine is place where even international chain restaurants like “Chili’s” can’t even stay open,  so a small, private restaurant has to have a lot of luck and something very special to offer the public if it’s ever going to make it.

I wrote a few reviews of Stugazzi’s Restaurant in Springvale, Maine.  I was harsh, and it spurned some lively debate.  That’s a nice word for “arguing”.  My reviews had hit a nerve.  I wasn’t being snarky.  I was being honest.  It it was awesome, I would have said so.

By all accounts, even by those who stood up for this restaurant, if anyone took an honest look at this restaurant, had to admit it was below average.   The truth hurts, I know.  Maybe one or two of their food items were good, but overall, a restaurant can’t call itself an “authentic” Italian restaurant and serve “chicken fingers”.  I don’t care if some people think that restaurants need to cater to the kids; Italian mothers in  “authentic” Italian kitchens in the Tuscan countryside don’t feed their kids chicken finger.  If you want to serve kids a crunchy, chicken appetizer, cut up an “authentic” chicken cutlet, pounded thinly, pan-fried in a very light and delicious coating, quick-cooked to perfection.  Top it with fresh buffalo mozzarella and a side of home-made marinara sauce, and you are good to go – without compromising your “authentic” principles.  It’s not more expensive for the chef to cook the real version than the insipid American concoction known  (which by the way started in American-Chinese restaurants) unless that restaurant is buying them frozen from a restaurant bulk frozen food supply house, in which case you’ve lost your way on the “authentic” road anyway so you should pack it in.

The food itself wasn’t the real problem with Stugazzi’s, it was the design of the customer experience.  Nothing worked.  From confusing self-seating, to “where the hell do I park”, to an uncomfortable entrance where the patrons landed right at the bar, to the rude staff, to the restaurant’s inability to properly pack take-out food —  the gaping holes in service were endless.  This isn’t rocket science.  And if there is one thing that Sanford/Springvale needs is more quality restaurant choices.  For god’s sake, the hot dog truck on Main Street is one of the better establishments.

It’s not my job to tell a restaurant owner how to run his restaurant.  But if the owners and their friends had read the clues (which could hardly be called clues since they were not inconspicuous in my writing; they were direct and on point) instead of firing off nasty emails and comments about my comments, then maybe their authentic Italian restaurant would still be open – and successful.  That would have been awesome!

I truly am sorry that a local business failed.  I really am.  It’s the last thing our little town needs. But I’m not sad to see a low-quality restaurant with poor service close up shop;  in my neighborhood or anywhere else.

Now, if the owners would like to re-open, with a new attitude, and a new outlook on how to serve quality food to the public, in a unique, satisfying, affordable, and authentic way, I’d be happy to help wherever I can.

The biggest problem with Stugazzi’s is that it appeared as if the owners never walked into their own establishment as a customer (incognito, or send in a mole with a hidden camera), as if they never had seen the place before, and experienced it from the customer’s perspective.  They needed to do that objectively.  Call in an order for pickup. Sit and order food, on several occasions on several different days and times.  Eat at the bar, and eat in the dining room.  Then they would have seen what most of us saw.  A successful restaurant is about its customers, not its owner’s ego.

I do wish the owners well, and I hope, maybe, they learned something that can take them on to their next endeavor, which will be successful.

BlackberryandBeyond.com web site gay bashes staff


Many “BlackBerry-centric” web sites exist on the Internet.  These aren’t sites owned by Research in Motion (RIM – makers of BlackBerry), but rather third parties who run Forums which double as “news” sites.   There is a lot of competition among these sites and when one of them get’s a scoop, the others immediately jump into action, trying NOT to be the very last site to post the scoop.  The goal of these sites is to make money, obviously. The income can be generated from advertising dollars if they get enough traffic or, if they are lucky, from an online store where they might sell BlackBerry Applications, BlackBerry Accessories, etc.

The list of these sites goes on and on:  They include, but are not limited to, BlackberryForums.com, Driphter.com, BlackberryOS.com, EverythingBerry.com, PinStack.com, Berryreview.com, BBGeeks.com, and the grand daddy of them all – Crackberry.com.  And trust me, this is a short list.

BlackBerryandBeyond.com is a new web site created recently and owned by Tom Evans, John Hodges, a guy named “Jeff” who goes by the call sign “Shimmyshine”, and one other individual who goes by the name “wraithwatcher”.  To demonstrate how these sites rise up, seemingly overnight  – the “owners” of BlackberryandBeyond.com used to be contributors to BlackberryOS.com.  There were personality clashes and accusations of poor management, so the 4 horsemen decided to go off on their own.   The site’s official opening isn’t until late February/early March, but they are well under way now.

A few months back, BlackberryOS.com was looking for contributors.  I showed interest in writing for a Blackberry web site because I had spent so much time on My.BlackBerry.Com (a user forum site run by RIM), and had worked with users to solve technical problems as a fellow BlackBerry user.  My experience comes from running a BlackBerry Enterprise as part of my job.  I noticed that many visitors who submitted questions to My.BlackBerry.Com were asking the same questions over and over and over again.  So I wanted a change of pace.  I’m a decent writer had developed some standard wording in plain language to answer common BlackBerry questions.   When I approached Tom Evans, he was familiar with my work at My.BlackBerry.Com.   In two months I posted almost two thousand responses to forum visitors who requested help with a Blackberry Issue or Problem.  Mr. Evans told me he knew of my work and wanted me to write for BlackberryOS.com.  The problem at the time was that they wanted me to commit to posting one article every day on their site.  I did not feel I could meet their expectations and did not want to promise something I could not live up to.  So in the end, I did not take the “position”.

I use the term “position” loosely.  These sites don’t actually pay people like me to write.  You have to be an owner, and insider, or work you way up.   I wasn’t getting paid to write, although I would have been called a “staff” writer of some sort.

I heard through the grapevine that several people from BlackberryOS.com had left to start their own site – BlackberryandBeyond.com.  I approached Mr. Evans again and asked if there was a place for me in his organization either in Moderating or Writing.  I actually wanted to do both.  I like working with the end-users, but also enjoyed writing; focusing on “How-To” type articles.   Mr. Evans and I had one discussion about where I might fit in.  I was clear that I wanted to play both roles; a moderator and a writer.  Mr. Evans was eager to get me on board.  I had the chops, and the talent, and he knew I would be a good “get”.  He suggested I start as a writer.  I thought that was acceptable.  I had no experience or knowledge in contributing to a web site before.  I immediately began contributing articles to BlackBerryandBeyond.com.  I didn’t sign anything or agree to anything specific number of articles – I just wrote when I could.

When I became a “member” of the group, I was added to their BlackBerry Messenger group.  For those that don’t use BBM or the group function, it’s like Instant Messaging but in group format.  There were about 12 individuals in the B and B group.  Anyone who posted a message into the BBM group had it read by all other members of the group.  It’s an effective way to communicate with everyone at once, especially when big news is breaking, like a new Operating System release, or our web site is down – stuff like that.  Again, the primary players of BlackberryandBeyond.com spend a great deal of time monitoring all of the other BlackBerry forum sites to see what they are posting, so they also spend time trying to get the “staff” to write similar articles so we don’t look like we’re not on top of things.  To me, it’s a strange way to run a “business” – no direct news sources of your own – always playing catch up with what others are posting. 

On Friday, February 4, 2011, RIM announced a new BlackBerry trade-up program.  It was announced by RIM and every single BlackBerry Forum site wrote the same basic article.  I was asked to get something up a quickly as possible.  We didn’t want to be the last ones with the same news as everybody else.  God forbid. 

On Sunday morning, February 6, 2011, I was at home.  I could hear my BlackBerry “pinging” away.  I have a tone set to make a sound when people are posting to the BlackBerry Messenger Group for BlackBerry and Beyond.   What I saw was a bit disturbing to me.  I had become accustomed to this group of “guys” making crude sexual comments and grammar school “jokes” about sex, and women.  It was so unprofessional to me, but I tried to let it just roll of my back.  But on the Sunday morning in question I had enough when I saw them making “gay” jokes.  I didn’t want to be “that guy” who causes problem when they don’t exist.  But I couldn’t stand by any longer and keep my mouth shut.  Here is the conversation I watched go by.  The initials indicate the person “speaking”:

FM – “Steelers. +1”

R – “Packers here….by 14”

JSS – “I can’t vote for gaybay. Lol”

R – Lmao

FM –  Steelers. 24-21 I think. I can’t root for the packers. Ever. I’m a bears fan. Hey shimmy, you a lions fan by any chance?

JSS –  Nah, I’m a tampa bay shittyeers fan..

JSS –  They both suck sadly.

FM –  Lol. Bucs had a chance this year…

FM –  Hodges is probably still sleeping. But since he is gay he’ll probably root for the packers

I saw where this was going, or had already gone.  After watching them talk about wives and girlfriends and “cialis” earlier, I was not about to let this conversation go where it could easily go.  In 2011, the “innocent” gay slur or misogynistic comment just isn’t cool, it isn’t acceptable, and it isn’t appropriate for a “business” conversation.  After all, BlackberryandBeyond.com is a business.  They may act like it’s a junior high locker room, but it’s a business.

So I spoke up – and this is what I said:

“I really didn’t think I would have to say this in 2011, but I don’t appreciate the gay slurs. If you want to act like 12-year-olds in private messages, that your prerogative.. But in a group chat?  You should be ashamed of yourselves. I am gay. If that’s a problem for anyone, then you let me know right now, and we’ll take it from there.  This is not an LOL or LMAO or any of the other terms this group overuses. This is for real.”

The reason I said the part about LOL and LMAO is because in the 14 days or so that I was a member of this group, I watched as comment after comment after comment is posted the BBM group about all kinds of things, and everyone ends or begins their comment with LOL, ROFL, LMAO, as if EVERYTHING is so damned funny that their all rolling on the floor in stitches.  It’s childish and nothing more than verbal filler because these people have nothing important to say to each other.  I should have seen the writing on the wall then.

After my comment I got a few responses.  The first was this:

R –  ….no one meant any offense at all. Everyone in this group except a few, yourself included, have been friends for quite some time. As such we tend to lose sight to the new people in the group.  I’m sure it won’t happen again.

That was the right answer.  Just acknowledge that things got out of hand, that  no offense were meant, and let’s move on.  I had absolutely no problem with that at all. 

But then, THIS, from one of the “owners” – verbatim:

H –  I was driving when this msg came in (name redacted) I’m glad u commented  to play off what you said.  Yes (name redacted)  you are correct this is 2011 and as fucked up as the world is its unfortunate that there are still people in this world that feed of society.. However on the other side of the  coin I myself am not a homosexual but I am half black half puertorican and I have been called every racial name under the sun.. At times it  was meant towards me and at times it was in a joking manner.. You have to know when to be able to decipher the two.. Its obvious these guys weren’t talking negativatly towards you or anyone in the gay community.. As rick said we are all friends my friends call me a nigger all the time but its funny and in a joking manner just sayin”

This above is a comment from John Hodges – Owner of BlackberryandBeyond.com.  Instead of acting like an “owner” and responding with “hey no offense – and guys, he’s got a point, let’s keep our conversations a bit more elevated”, John Hodges basically said – “I’m called a nigger and it doesn’t bother me – so don’t be so sensitive”.

Is that any way for the Owner of a company to respond??  Not to mention that Tom Evans, another Owners, who is NEVER not listening to what’s going on in the group conversation, was in complete radio silence.  Nor did any of the other “Owners” weigh in on the subject. 

We had one female member of our group when I joined.  She resigned unexpectedly and nobody would tell me why except that it was personal.  I can only glean that if she reacted to the misogynistic “talk” the way I reacted to the gay slurs, she had way more reason to be pissed off than I had.  What they said about gays, in comparison to what they’ve said about women, is tame.  And I admit, I don’t think anyone was intentionally trying to gay bash, I just decided to speak up before anyone took it any further.

For the Owner of an organization to defend the actions of the group by saying he’s OK with being called a “nigger” once in a while, is repulsive.  And for the other owners to not say a word about what happened is indefensible.

I deleted all of the articles I wrote for BlackberryandBeyond.com.  They are my intellectual property and I didn’t sign any agreement with them.

I am now looking for somewhere else where I can write – with and for adults.

99 Weekers – Enough is Enough !!


Apparently I lost my job at the wrong time.  It was 2007 when I was let go without notice, and without real reason.  It was devastating.  I’m single, live alone, and have no other source of income, other than my job.  I got the standard six months of unemployment and then nothing.  I was out of work fo 18 months.  Living alone is expensive.  There is no one with whom to share the expenses of maintaining a household.

I almost lost everything.  Including my sanity, my self-respect, my self-confidence, and a reason to go on living.  My car was repossessed, I was on food stamps and I sent out hundreds upon hundreds of resumes.  If it wasn’t for the good will of family and friends, I never would have made it.  On top of just living expenses, I have some chronic medical issues.  At one point, a doctor refused to see me anymore unless I paid something on my balance. 

Eventually I found a job.  It paid literally half of what I was making at my previous job.  So now I make barely above what would be considered poverty level.  The last time I earned this little of a salary, it was 1992.  Gas was about $1.25 a gallon and so was milk.  I could buy a brand new Honda Accord, well-equipped, for about $17,000.  That same car today is about $25,000.  The math doesn’t make sense.  Salaries have gone nowhere for years but prices have sky-rocketed. 

So these people who have been out of work, and on unemployment for 2 years should just SHUT THEIR MOUTHS and be thankful for what they got.  It may sound heartless, but I don’t care.  I had to take a less than ideal job making half of what I made before, and so should you.  Take any job you can find; even if it means flipping burgers part-time.  Just because you can’t get a job “in your field” doesn’t mean you can’t work.

I just can’t imagine being out of work and getting a check from the government for TWO YEARS, and then complaining that the government is leaving you out in the cold for not extending your benefits EVEN FURTHER.  SHUT UP AND GO FIND A JOB.  Or start asking your family and friends for handouts.  Because you’re not using MY TAX DOLLARS to sit around on your ass anymore.

That’s my opinion and I’m a liberal democrat.  This isn’t about partisanship.  This is about real life.