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Archive for June, 2011

For this week’s Writer’s Workshop, I chose to write about a child I find inspiring, in case the title didn’t give that away! I could have EASILY written about any of the topics, but talking about a child I find inspiring immediately transported me to the time and place in which this post takes place.

I had always wanted to move off Long Island. I loved growing up on Long Island but I have always been more of a wanderer. In 2000 I started a new job working in New York City in the Chrysler building. It was directly across from Grand Central Station and the commute from Long Island to Penn station and then the continued trip from Penn to Grand Central was a bit long. Most days I just walked there and in those walks I thought about everything. On one of those walks I determined that this could be my chance to move. I could move upstate New York and take the train south direct to grand Central and then walk across the street! So I jumped online looked up places I could move that were both nice and inexpensive and moved a few weeks later.

The thing about moves such as I did is that when you move like this, chances are high that you will not know anyone on the other end. This is exactly what happened and I still remember those first 3 months going back and forth about what a mistake I might have made, that was until I was introduce to a group that was just starting out and became a large part of my life in a short period of time.

At the time I moved, Yahoo! Groups was a big thing. It was what Meetup is today, except free. People would create interest groups hoping to make new friends to do things with. A girl I went out with advised me of this group and I joined. I was nervous the first time I met up with these people but it turned out to be just myself and the groups founder, Barry, who would later become one of my best and closest friends right up until today! The group was not like the other groups. It wasn’t a hiking group, or poker group, it was a whatever you want to do lets do it group. We would just post what we were going to do on any given day and whoever wanted to go would show up.

It took me a couple of weeks to work up the nerve to post something but I figured I was new to the area, I could reinvent myself so I posted a hike I wanted to do. If anyone showed up that would have been awesome, but if noone did I would do it by myself. I had nothing to loose as I had been doing all my activities alone anyway so I figured why not.

To my surprise quiet a few people showed up. We hiked a very easy trail that had only 2 or 3 parts that needed some negotiating. What caught my attention fairly quickly was this younger girl who looked a little different but tackled everything with such a great attitude. It drew everyone to her. Her name was Audrey and she had come with her mother and a damily friend to go hiking with us, a bunch of complete strangers.

Now most people think “whats inspiring about a 14 year old who went with her mother to meet strangers and go for a hike?” Well, this 14 year old girl loved to hike and swim and ski and do anything that took her out of her comfort zone and make it fun. Oh… and she was blind. She was born blind, which is why she looked a little different, her eyes were sunken slightly further into her face than you would expect from the rest of her facial features.

She tackled each obstacle with an AMAZING attitude and made all of us laugh along the way. I remember her sort of arguing with her mother about going to some teens dance club and her mother was not too keen on the idea. Audrey’s argument was that she “wanted to shake her booty! I want to get my groove on!” I remember those words right now and it brings this smile to my face.

Tonight, I was working in the ER and this idiot of a guy came in because he wanted to kill himself so I was on his watch for his safety. Talking to him I found out he had a drinking problem and he allegedly wanted to kick it but was released from rehab that day and was drunk a few hours later. So here was this guy who had a family, a wife who stood by him and he was throwing his life away on a condition he drank himself into and decided the best way to overcome it is to end his life!?!? Then there are people like Audrey. A person born into a condition they have NO control of and instead of being angry or depressed about it, she faces her disability, or rather, her ability to do things and just do them.

I definitely this place needs a LOT more people like Audrey in it and maybe the uninspired will become Inspired and fix their lives for the better!

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For this Writer’s Workshop, I chose the prompt to write about a country you would like to visit!

Growing up in an Irish family, especially who was 100% Irish (which basically means she had calm and she had bat-silly crazy for tempers and nothing in between) you are pretty much force-fed to like all things Irish. And I, being the middle child/black sheep of the family, did not take too well when it came to being told what I HAD to believe regardless of my personal view and opinions.

It wasn’t until many years later, that I came to enjoy and cherish the beauty and customs of other countries. I like how the Irish are great story tellers and believe family and friends are the only REAL treasure a person has in this life.

When I was 9 years old, my mother and father went to Ireland to visit our Irish relatives and the photographs and information they brought back to me had me hooked on traveling ever since. I never said this to my mother until I was MUCH older, but from that time I wanted to visit Ireland.

When I met my wife, I told her about my desire to visit Ireland and that was what I wanted us to do after I finished school. I haven’t finished school yet and so we have yet to go, but she is all on board about this trip… even though it means traveling by plane and she HATES flying.

The country is all the things I love. Since we were little my brother and I were very into medieval times. We love going to the Renaissance fair and watching movies and TV shows about that time such as Game of Thrones and Camelot (I can’t wait for season 2 of BOTH shows next year!)

  1. They all speak English so I don’t even have to learn a new language to get around!
  2. They have CASTLES!! Like real castles that royalty used to live in! How awesome is that!! Who DOESN’T want to visit a castle!
  3. They LOVE to drink and be social and sing funny songs! Even Who’s line is it Anyway loves Irish Drinking songs
  4. It’s the land of the Gingers and, although people make fun of them, EVERYONE LOVES gingers!

I have yet to get there, but it is on my bucket list. I will definitely get there and, since our family has just started to grow, they will experience it as well. My parents could not afford it at the itme to bring us with them, I plan to bring our kids with us.

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Today was the longest day in my life. And the most scary. And the most guilt ridden. And the most EXCITING! How can one day be ALL of these? It is very simple. Today was the day my daughter was born!

And it was AMAZING!!!

The idea was that my wife was getting induced Tuesday night around 7pm. What should have happened and what did happen are two completely separate things.

My wife’s blood pressure was higher than her normal and was slowly increasing. This issue, pre-eclampsia, made her doctor nervous so he advised inducing her pregnancy. So we agreed and went in.

The first thing on the agenda was to administer Cervidil. After the cervidil was administered for 12 hours then start Pitocin to induce. Unfortunately, our luck doesn’t work that way. Erica was administered the Cervidil at 8pm. I stayed with her and her doctor and nurses and even Erica said to go home as nothing will happen until the late morning or afternoon the earliest. I mean Erica was comfortable and was not experiencing any pain so I figured why not, so I went home around 11:30pm only 3 ½ hours after the drug was administered.

By 5:55 am our new baby girl was born! She was beautiful and she was pale and she had great big lungs and she was perfect. I couldn’t believe that our wait was over and this person was here… FINALLY! And how happy both myself and my wife became when we heard her cry was something I will remember forever.

She is 7 lbs 2 oz and 18 ½ inches long. She is quiet and does not seem too fussy yet, but then again she did have a big day what with being born so she slept all day (I understand that’s the normal for hours old babies!). She has Erica’s lips and my rounded cheeks. I think her eyes look more like Erica’s than mine and she thinks they are more like mine. We will see when she grows up a little more.

I was not disappointed at all what with having a girl… but I have to admit. I was hoping for a boy. But we both agreed… we will try and conceive a boy NEXT time J

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I know its cliché but – as a man, husband and father (soon) – our job is to protect. We are supposed to keep our family and loved ones safe and protect them from harm. We are supposed to fend off the intruder, make the area safe and sound and beat up the monsters in the closet or under the bed.

But what do we do if the monster is impossible to fight? That’s where I am at right now.

Right now I am home, worrying about my wife. Because my poor wife who had some obstacles during this pregnancy and did not complain much, if at all. Because her blood pressure was higher than it should have been and continued to rise, our doctor advised for her to go into the hospital and be induced. So that’s what we did today.

At 6pm we ate dinner and then went into the hospital by 6:30pm.

By 8pm they started to induce her and the doctor and my wife both advised that nothing would be happening tonight and that I should go home. I stayed. I stayed even though I was falling asleep because sitting in a chair while my wife is trying to relax is as much fun as watching water boil.

I stayed until about 10:30 or 11. When I left she seemed fairly comfortable. She had some minor cramping, but nothing too much and she told me to go home and sleep. I told her I will but I will come back in the morning. I didn’t want to go, but I also had a feeling that she would start becoming uncomfortable and there would be nothing I could do to help. Talking with her wasn’t helping. Usually when I hold her hand or massage her head and face, helps… but it didn’t help. She called me 3 times in about 2 hours and each phone call she sounded more and more in pain.

I knew, from my hospital rotations during my OB/GYN clinical, that the pain was going to come. I told her I would come back and she told me not to. But here it is. 3:30am and I am trying to get some rest so I can get up and be at the hospital nice and early and all I can think of is that I should not have left.

Should I have NOT listened to the doctor and nurses and my wife and stayed? I have trouble seeing my loved ones in pain, more so with my wife. I was hoping this pregnancy wouldn’t be troublesome, and it wasn’t. Until she became pre-eclampsic and needed to be induced.

So now I am going to try and get some sleep. I am going to do my best so I can be there for her tomorrow and hopefully I can make her feel better and we can get through this and we will welcome our new edition to our family by tonight and she can start to recover.

Maybe, for once, she will take it easy and relax and let me take care of her for a while… but I wouldn’t hold my breath!

I love you, honey! More and more every day!!!

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Today was nothing special. On Thursday I had a filling fall out, so I called my dentist to make an appointment and the earliest they had was Monday. I didn’t have my work schedule yet, but since I was scheduled to work all weekend, that usually puts me with Monday off. I set up the appointment and then Monday arrived.

We started the day with a cable appointment, then talking to the landlord, taking my shower and then falling back to sleep for a couple of hours. My wife had a doctors appointment and I had the dentist appointment, both at approximately the same time.

I was coming home from my appointment when my phone rang. It was the house so I just waited until I arrived home to find out whats wrong. The first thing my wife said was that I was working today. WHAT!?!?! I am off. She looked at my schedule and said “No. You’re off on Tuesday.” Oh CRAP!! I rushed to change into my scrubs and she told me about her appointment.

She went to her doctor and her blood pressure is higher again so they are going to induce her… TOMORROW!

What?

I had to rush out, but since I am only a mile from work I come home for dinner and told her I would be home.

Her blood pressure has been slowly increasing over the last few weeks and now it high that he wants to induce. She is at 39 weeks so she is full term and everything else is great. She hasn’t had any contractions so we weren’t too worried… until today.

I am excited and nervous at the same time. Our baby that we have been waiting for is coming… by Wednesday or Thursday! We have to go to the hospital around 6pm today and then they are going to do their thing and then the baby will be here!

Both of us are nervous and it’s just, so…. Real. I expected to feel super great, and I do, but I also feel like I have no idea how to feel.

I have nieces and nephews and get along with them all VERY well. But this is OUR baby now. My wife has been reading all these books over the last 9 months but where is the Daddy manual? Is this normal! I really can’t wait to meet the little guy (or girl) but all the things I have been telling my wife NOT to worry about… yeah, I am worry about now.

Well, in about 48 hours the baby will be here… wish us luck!

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For the most part my Blog is about my personal feelings or topics I want to discuss, but I will – from time to time – do a review of technology or Items I have purchased.

This is one of them!

For Christmas I purchased a new camera for my wife. The old camera I had still works great, but I bought it about 5 years ago and I felt it was time to upgrade to a new camera with a higher pixel rate and video capabilities.

Most people just look at cameras and get one they think looks great and then wind up liking it but not loving it. After being in the computer field for over 13 years, I have learned there is SO much more to it even BEFORE you head out the door to look… or go online anyway. I take into account what I will use it for, what I do with my camera and how I take pictures and features my old device has which I like or features it doesn’t but I wish it had. So here was my criteria:

  1. Since I take a lot of pictures and share them on my facebook, I wanted a camera that had at least 10 mega-pixel rating

Now most people just think a higher mega-pixel means better picture. For the most part you are right, but what it really means is the higher the megapixel, the clearer the picture will be at a larger size. So, if you print out a picture that was taken at 6 mp, it will look good up to about 8″ x 10″ where as a 10 megapixel will look more crisper and clearer up to 11″ x 14″. Although I will probably never print anything out this big, should I choose to its their.

  1. I also wanted to get up and running on YouTube like I have been trying to get my nerve to do for the last 5 years so I wanted HD video.

Even if I don’t do YouTube, I wanted to take good quality videos for personal use. Especially since we were expecting our baby soon. Now 720p is all I wanted but if it did 1080p I would accept it.

  1. I wanted to be able to take multiple pictures in quick succession without having to wait for the picture to save before I took the next one.

My old camera, at the highest setting, would take about 10-15 seconds to save the picture before I could take another one. For the most part it was really not a big deal, but for certain things (such as my niece’s communion) that 10-15 second delay would mean I would miss really great pictures.

  1. For a point-and-shoot(PAS) camera I wanted it to be compact so it could fit into a pocket easily.

My old camera was small but it did not fit into a pocket easily because of the shape and thickness. (That’s what she said!) For a DSLR camera, which I do not own yet but definitely want to obtain one, the size is expected to be much bigger but a PAS camera I wanted it smaller.

  1. I also wanted a decent OPTICAL zoom as opposed to digital zoom.

Most people just look at the overall number of the zoom, which is what the manufacturers WANT you to look at. But the overall is not what you want. An optical zoom means the lens zooms in to bring you closer to the object you are photographing. A Digital zoom is exactly like zooming in on a picture you took that you are editing on your computer. The more of a digital zoom you use, the more distorted the picture will be. You can usually edit a picture on your computer and zoom in with better results than you can with a digital zoom.

My old camera had a 6x optical and 4x digital zoom giving 24x zoom, but at 24x zoom the picture was not very good quality and I had to use a tripod to use that because even a slight shake made the entire picture blurry.

 

So after these basic criteria I then thought about other things I wanted but do without if I didn’t have them.

I wanted:

  1. Regular batteries. This way, if I am out and about and the batteries die I can just run into a drug store and buy new ones and keep on filming/photographing
  2. Features I would use. Sometimes I use filters and such like B&W or Sepia but I wanted some other ones which I may use from time to time like time-lapse or slow motion.
  3. Touch screen. Having touch screen means the camera may have more smudges but it also means there are less buttons and dials so the footprint is smaller and slimmer overall.
  4. Memory cards that can be easily purchased. If I ran out of memory cards, which I know is fairly impossible as the old camera could take 700+ pictures on a 2 gig SD card and I have about 4 cards!

Now, my old camera is a Panasonic Lumix, which has takes REALLY great pictures. I also own a cellphone made by Samsung which only has a 2mp camera but the pictures it takes are REALLY nice!

I also know SONY cameras take great pictures but they are much more expensive because of those four letters S-O-N & Y, and they also only use Sony’s patented Memory Stick for film.

After looking at all Panasonic and Samsung cameras I decided on a couple so I went to a retail store and checked out the ones I liked. After checking the cameras out I found a Samsung camera which boasts Dual screens! I thought this was REALLY amazing as there are quite a few times that I took pictures which out hiking or my signature shot which is me taking a picture of everyone there and I usually blindly pointed and had to take the picture like 3 or 4 times before I had a good one that I could use. The 2nd screen definitely helped but it had to take good pictures and it took AMAZING pictures.

The one I looked at was a TL-220, but I wanted the 225 because it had bigger screens and was 12.2 megapixels! I looked and the price was around $249 so I decided to buy this one and see what I could find it for online.

While looking around the Samsung site I found out they were releasing a newer model, the ST-600, which was more compact, some extra features, bigger screens, 1280 x 720 HD video and 14.4 megapixels. The one thing I could not find out about it from the site, the manual nor the email I sent to the company, was whether the front screen would work in video mode. Since it was a feature I wanted but could live without I bought it anyway and this camera has been a GREAT investment since we bought it.

The picture quality is AMAZING! I usually take pictures at only 12 mp and that is more than I need. The video DOES work on the front facing screen, however, you must active the screen BEFORE you record. Another thing I thought would be helpful (which is especially if you have kids) is there is a CHILD MODE. What this does is on the front LCD screen, an animation plays and makes some sounds to attract your child’s attention so they look at the camera and you can get that good picture. The default was a clown, but you can connect to your computer and download different animations. Since some kids are afraid of clowns I downloaded a dancing bear.

I bought this camera for my wife so that when the baby comes (July 1st, but I think he is coming sooner) she could take pictures and take as many as she wanted to send to her parents who live in Maine.

Out of all the requirements it met all these:

  1. Was over 10mp. At 14 mp it would be MORE than sufficient. I keep it at the 12 mp setting.
  2. It takes HD video at 720p, which is al I wanted. PLUS I can use the camera to Vlog and use the front LCD to see myself recording!
  3. I can take pictures and the wait time between pictures at 12 mp is <2 seconds. If I set the Quick view to 3 seconds, then I have to wait those 3 seconds but at 0.5 seconds it is still <2 seconds.
  4. This camera is smaller by a little but MUCH slimmer than the old one. I usually put the camera in my pocket when we go out so I can take a picture any time.
  5. The Optical zoom is 5x and since the old camera was only 6x I found this to be more than sufficient and at 14.4 mp I doubt I will ever have an issue.
  6. It does NOT use regular batteries such as AA or AAA. It uses a Li-ion battery pack special for this camera but it recharges fast, is inexpensive and lasts quite a while. I have taken about 200+ pictures in an outing and the battery still had some juice left in it. (To be on the safe side, I did purchase a 2nd battery pack with 1000mah as opposed to the stock one with 780mah)
  7. It has all the features I wanted and a few others.
  8. It has touch screen on BOTH screens. In camera mode, just taping the front brings the front screen on and in video mode it’s the same thing as long as you are not recording.
  9. It uses MicroSD cards. It has been tested up to 32 GB and I don’t think that I would need more than and 32 GB card and MicroSD cards are becoming the norm since they are 1/4th the size of regular SD cards thus making the devices able to be smaller.

When I bought this camera I found it online for $219 and it came as a package of the camera, a monopod, a camera case and a 4 GB memory card. So I purchased all of this from Adorama Camera.

So, if you are in the market for a new camera, definitely check out the Samsung camera. As of this writing, the camera model is ST700 which is identical to the ST600 except it boasts 16.2 Megapixels and is slightly smaller.

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There are things we all do when we are younger that we don’t tell our parents about… and later they become upset about when (or if) they find out about it.

Mine happened when I was 22 or so.

When I was about 13 or so I would go on LONG bike rides. I would just get on my bicycle and ride as far as I could, relax a little and then head back. I had dreams back then of riding in the Tour de France, I have no idea why since I have absolutely NO desire to go to France.

Anyway, I was about 13 and I rode my bike from my hometown of Lindenhurst, Long Island to Port Jefferson, Long Island. The distance is only about 40 miles, by way of bicycle, but for a 13 year old to bike 40 miles, one way, is long and far.

I was always curious to see how far I could ride and where certain places would take me. There are some roads in my town that, at 13, you just walk to or ride on because it takes you where you need to go. I would take them to see if they ended or where they would end.

So, when I was around 22 my mother was telling me how she knew everything I did. And I figured, I’m 22. I can vote. I can get married. I can go to war for my country and legally buy beer. So I said, “So why didn’t you ever ground me or yell at me for riding to Port Jeff at 13?”

Well, she blew a head gasket. Telling me how dangerous it was, blah blah blah. I told her that it was almost 10 years ago and I have a car now. She was right on the edge of punishing me when my dad caught his breath from laughing at my mother’s reaction and told her to knock it off. He was impressed I rode a bicycle 80 miles or more in one day. And he then said to my mother, “What are you going to do? Ground him? He’s 22 drop it”

And that was it for the most part.

After this admission, though, my mother would brag to her friends how I rode my Bike to Port Jeff at 13, but she would say it in that motherly way like she was super angry, you.

“You will never guess what Jimmy did!!! When he was 13 he told me he rode his bike to Port Jeff!!”

I don’t know what the other person on the phone said but I am guessing they were questioning whether I did it or not.

“I know. I didn’t believe him either but he told us landmarks and we never took him. He even had pictures he took with his Kodak Disc camera!!!”

I remember that Kodak disc camera. That was a cool camera but I love my digital camera MUCH better… anyway.

I know she was saying it as if I done something wrong (which I had AND technically it was a bit dangerous) but I could tell she was impressed and a little proud that I was able to do this, especially with how sick I was when I was younger and was told I would never be able to do things like this. (Which I did on a regular basis).

I wonder how mad she would have been if I had told her that I rode my bike to Eastport also when I was 13! Hey, I wanted to see if I could make it to the Montauk Lighthouse!!!

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