It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

As part of Mrs. G’s VIB Blogger Series, we were invited to see the Trenton Thunder play the Erie SeaWolves at Waterfront Park in Trenton, NJ on May 26, 2010. But here’s the best part; we were invited as Press. I’ve always had a love affair with the press, the press box and newspapers. I know, I know, newspapers are a dying business, but they’ve been saying that since the newspaper industry has had to compete with first radio, then television, and now the Internet.

Now don’t get me wrong, the newspaper business model needs to improve overall, but for one big night, I was the press. It took everything in me not to wear a suit and hat and have a cigar in my mouth and a notepad in my hand. I brought my typewriter of the day, my iBook, and headed to the ballpark early. I would have gotten there in the afternoon if they had let me.

When we arrived, I was reserved a front row seat in the press box! This was going to be a great night. Some of the regular beat writers were already there and not sure what to make of us VIBs, but they made us feel at home. I think because they got extra-special food that night. The catering stepped it up and put out a great spread for the press box. The food was what they usually put out in the private boxes. It included everything from your traditional ballpark fare to cheese steaks and ribs. Great eats for everyone, now it’s time for the game!

The SeaWolves got off to an early lead in the top of the first with a home run by left fielder Wilkin Ramirez. Ramirez went 3-4 with three home runs that night. Even with three home runs, he wasn’t the star of the game, as we will see later on. The Thunder struck back quickly in the bottom of the second with 4 runs.

After the crowd, and us VIBers, did our fifth-inning fist pumps; Brandon Laird, third baseman for the Thunder, hit a triple to start the bottom of the fifth. Laird scored after Daniel Brewer hit a sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Thunder a 5-1 lead. With a comfortable lead, most of the VIBs felt the night was over and started to head out, as well as some of the crowd. But as I learned as a child from one of the greats, It ain’t over till it’s over.

In the top of the eight, the SeaWolves tied it up and the Thunder couldn’t break ahead in the bottom of the inning. I was getting very excited, because what true baseball fan doesn’t like free baseball (extra innings). Especially since I was sitting in the Press Box. It was like the baseball gods wanted to keep me there. I told my wife, we are not leaving until the game is over. She said, “Well, when will it be over?” My response of course was, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

The ninth inning began and the SeaWolves turned a single by shortstop Cale Iorg into a run making it 6-5 Erie.

So here we are, bottom of the ninth, two out, runner on first, and Brandon Laird, at the plate. Everyone has been talking about this kid, that he is such a great prospect, he is young, and he has great talent. All Laird needs tonight is a home run to hit for the cycle. Brandon Laird hit a 3-1 fastball over the fence for a walk-off home run and to complete the cycle. Amazing end to an amazing night!

One thing that kinda got lost in the shuffle was Thunder pitcher DJ Mitchell’s quality outing; he struck out a career-high nine batters in six innings, throwing 99 pitches, 60 of them were for strikes.

The baseball gods were definitely smiling on me this evening as this game had everything you could possibly want in a game. It took everything for me to contain myself in the press box, because we have to have a professional attitude while in there, but man was it a blast to see the Thunder win from the best seat in the house.

**I would like to give a special thanks to Debbie Schaeffer, owner of Mrs. G’s and Trenton Thunder for putting together a wonderful event for the VIB Blogger Series! **

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3D TV’s: The Future Is Now

Jackie Gleason once stated that all TV should be in 3D. How right he was!

If you are in the market for a 3DTV, make sure to do some research. I recently attended the Mrs. G’s VIB blogger event, a 5-part series that includes keynote speakers and networking opportunities for regional bloggers and like-minded professionals.  This month the topic was all about 3DTVs.  Suzanne Kantra, founder and editor-in-chief of Techlicious.com was the scheduled speaker for the day.  Your options are basically the same for 3D as 2D; LCD, plasma, rear-projection and front projection DLP TV’s. Each type has only a handful of models available now, in the coming months we will be seeing many more options available. Remember, 3D is a feature, you can also watch 2D on the TV, so if you want to purchase a 3DTV, you are not just limited to 3D only. Before purchasing, make sure you know what size can fit in the particular location and depending on how much sunlight you get in the room. You won’t want to view a plasma TV in direct sunlight, and 3D technology works better in a darkened room anyway.

3D technology has been around for quite some time. My father tells a story about when he was a child and he and his friends couldn’t wait to go to the movies to see someone’s hand jump out of the screen. I remember being a child and Jaws 3 came out in 3D. At some point I think the shark jumped out of the screen, but that was about it. 3D technology has become so much more advanced than just some thing jumping out of the screen at you. Movies are made primarily for escapism; you watch a movie to forget about everything around you. 3D technology does exactly that for you, once you put the 3D glasses on, you feel like you are IN the movie, not watching a movie.  Everything else around you disappears and you are totally focused on the movie and feel like you are part of the action. True movie escapism is finally here.

When you purchase a 3DTV, you have to get the same manufacturers 3D glasses to see it. Samsung glasses will not work on Panasonic TVs, as of now it is a proprietary system. These new glasses are also very comfortable, not like the old paper ones you would receive years ago. They are almost like sunglasses, and will even fit over your prescription glasses. In June, a universal set of glasses will hit the market, and this is when I see 3DTV taking off. Consumers don’t want to be limited, and once the market is transferable, 3D technology will fully take off.

In addition to having a transferable market, 3D technology is going to become personal. We will be taking 3D pictures with our 3D cameras and shooting 3D movies with personal 3D video cameras. Everything you shoot will be viewable on your 3DTV. Imagine seeing the photos from your summer vacation on the big screen TV in 3D, or showing your child shooting the winning goal of his soccer game to everyone who couldn’t make it, in 3D.  There will also be a huge gaming market for 3D technology.

Personally, I was a little skeptical of the 3DTV experience. I have never been one to fully see 3D images, and have kind of given up on the whole “3D Experience” since I felt I could never really see it. But this is such advanced technology that once I put the 3D glasses on, I was pulled right into the movie that was being shown. The 3D glasses fit nicely over my glasses, and I had no problem viewing the Coraline clip. In fact, I was looking forward to seeing more. The other clip was of people skydiving, I had to remove the glasses at one point because I really felt like I was jumping out of the plane, that’s how real it felt. Also, I’m not a big gamer, but I could see wanting to play video games in 3D as well.

In the coming months be on the lookout for your local cable and satellite providers to start offering 3D programming. ESPN will be showing The World Cup this summer in 3D as well. 3D is the future, and the future is now.

Jackie Gleason was right, 3D is the way to go.

Originally written for http://www.mrsmonj.com

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What Do You Mean You Don’t Know What A Sailor Dive Is?

A month or so ago, I had a very vivid dream. I don’t usually remember my dreams. If I do, then I remember them for a long time. This one had me thinking of my grandfather on my mother’s side, or as I called him, Papa. For those of you that don’t know the story, I was born on his birthday. It is also my mom’s birthday. Big day for the family. Three generations born on one day. I told my wife that when we have a child, there is a lot of pressure for us to have a baby on my birthday.

As a child, we spent a lot of time together and he taught me many things. I remember when my grandparents were moving to New Jersey from the Bronx, I would go with them to look at potential houses. He had this big 4- door 1979 Ford Granada, and when people would cut him off, he would curse at them in Italian. That’s where I learned most of my Italian. It was easy for me to understand most of The Godfather because they cursed just like my grandfather.

He also loved to grow tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, etc. In my backyard, he and my father would plant the garden and they would let me be out there to help them work on the plants. One summer, my grandfather transported his fig tree from the Bronx to my backyard. He would eat the figs and tomatoes right off the plants. He taught me that every fall, before the first frost, to cover the fig tree up with burlap so the fig tree could make it through winter.

When I had a soccer game, he was usually on the sidelines cheering me on. It didn’t matter if I scored three goals or none, he was always proud of the way I played the game, and would tell me what a great job I did out there. He was always proud of what I did in school or anything else.

What he was teaching me was unconditional love, to love someone no matter what. He wasn’t the wealthiest man, didn’t drive the fanciest car, and didn’t smoke the finest cigars. But when he passed away, it was like the world stopped. People from all over came to his funeral, we had it for three days (3-5 and 7-9). He was a well respected man, because he was a man of his word and was full of honor. People fully respect that in a person.

What I’m trying to get to is, on this Valentine’s Day weekend, remember to always love your Valentine unconditionally. I know there are some people who don’t love the holiday because of so many reasons, but guess what, deep down everyone wants a Valentine, and everyone wants to love and be loved. It’s a natural thing. I love my wife unconditionally, and I get the same thing back from her. That’s what makes the little moments special. It’s why you can share silly moments with each other and not feel embarrassed. It’s why you can have an argument over how one person drives and move past it. It’s why you choose to be with someone the rest of your life. Because you know that unconditionally, she is there for you, no matter what.

My grandfather helped in my loving someone unconditionally, and he also taught me how to do a sailor dive, with a cigar in his mouth.

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Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln

Today Honest Abe would have been 201 years old. There are many things and questions written about Abraham Lincoln; things written about his speeches, did he have a death wish, was he clinically depressed, how tall he was and what his favorite jokes were.

During President Obama’s run for office, he quoted Lincoln often and even made the book “Team of Rivals” very popular. Every presidential candidate at some point in his run for office quotes Lincoln, hints at comparisons to Lincoln, and claims they know what Lincoln would have done if he were alive today.

I don’t think Lincoln knew what he was going to do half the time. While he was one of the smartest men to ever hold the office, I think Mr. Lincoln didn’t always have a pre-determined plan, but thought things out fully before making decisions.

Think about it, Lincoln was a self-educated man, with about 18 months total formal schooling, with the rest learning on his own. With his own schooling, he became a lawyer, a House Representative for Illinois, and President. To self-educate, you need to read extensively, and also interpret and come to some sort of conclusion on your own. There is nobody there to guide you to an answer, or even give you one if you don’t know the answer. Lincoln had to have spent his entire life thinking this way. It was the only way he knew. He had to think of every single situation going on and every thing he read from multiple angles and come to some rational understanding on his own. To me, this seems why Lincoln was a calm man. He knew there was more than one side to a situation, and he usually thought about the other two and three sides before anyone else, it was innate. This also gave him the confidence in knowing that the decisions he made were the right decisions.

This is why Lincoln was fully capable of running his own campaigns, writing his own speeches, assembling a strong cabinet, freeing the slaves, and saving the Union. When he set out for the Presidency, did he think states would actually secede from the Union, pushing the nation into a civil war, or have to free the slaves sooner than later? I doubt he saw most of that coming, but when it arrived, he knew he had the confidence to handle whatever situation was put in front of him.

Lincoln was always thinking outside the box because he knew that was his advantage to everything.

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Ahh, the smell of Freshly Sharpened Pencils!

As September is upon us, it always makes me think of how I feel this in the start of a new year. Yeah, I know January 1st is usually thought upon as the beginning of the year, but for me, September always feels like a new beginning.

You see, I was one of those kids who actually looked forward to the school year starting. As a child I couldn’t wait to go shopping for new things for school. Yeah, my mom and I would hit the mall and buy new clothes for school, but my favorite part was when I would get new school supplies! Pens! Pencils! Notebooks! A vast array of crayons, markers and erasers. Me in the store, “mom, how about this, could I get this??” and my mother staying calm and saying, Now Nicholas, you don’t need new scissors and rulers every year, put them back.” But she did always manage to make sure I had the proper backpack. To this day, I carry a backpack to work. I’ve tried it all, messenger bags, briefcases, totes, you name it, I’m sure to have it somewhere. But I always go back to the backpack, or as they used to call it in my day, the bookbag.  My boss and other managers in the office always look at me kinda strange that I carry a backpack to work. Another manager here uses his beach bag, so at least I’m not the craziest one here.

The point I’m getting to is that if you look around, August is a quiet month. Stores will close and give their workers a week or two off, most people go on a vacation, it seems like everyone is resting up for September.  That’s because in September, the kids go back to school, the seasons change, the office tends to pick up a little more (since people have been taking vacation all summer long). Things pick up in September; it’s just a way of life. When I entered college, the iPhone wasn’t invented. Not that I’m old, it’s just that technology moves pretty fast. I was starting something new and wanted to make sure I was on top of everything I had to do. Between classes, activities, and being involved heavily on campus, I needed to make sure that I knew where I was going and when. The bookstore had nice compact Rider datebooks, which fit right in that front compartment of my backpack. But I didn’t want to have to buy one now and then a new one in January.  Well, this was a special calendar, which started in September, and ended the September of next year. This was the calendar for me!

School gets it right, September is the beginning of the year for me. It is time to start anew. If you are looking for me this weekend, I’ll be getting some new supplies for school, uh, I mean my office.

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

We all take different paths in life. Some of us are on the express train to law school, while others are on the local and it seems like they are not sure which stop they are getting off. I’ve always known where I wanted to go in life, but I never got there the way others thought I should. For example, when I thought about going back to school to be a teacher , I signed up for the LSAT to become a lawyer, because eventually, my thought process was, with a law degree, you could teach. Why would I even think about going to school for education when I could just get a law degree.

While sitting in a classroom at NYU Law School taking the LSAT, I thought to myself, why on earth am I going to law school, it’s really hard, very expensive and every single person that I know who is a lawyer is telling me not to go to law school, especially if I want to teach. But, I passed the exam, and even got a small scholarship notice to a law school on the West Coast. I never told that to anyone, because by the time I received that letter, I was already over law school before it even started. I was going to go back to school for teaching, an idea I had always had in the back of my head but never went at it straight on.

Going back to school for education led me in a completely different path than I would ever have imagined. I moved back to New Jersey, reconnected with some old friends, and wound up running into my now wife at the local Starbucks. If I would have gone to school directly for education after my undergrad, or instead of taking the LSAT first, who knows where that path would have taken me, but I would not have learned the things I did along the path that I chose. Also, I didn’t make me feel that I was pushed into doing something I didn’t want at that time. It’s like when a baby takes his first steps, you try and try and try to help him get that first step, but the moment you turn your back on him, he is up and walking towards you very wobbly and excited, because he did it on his own.

I always tell people, whatever you decide, its the right decision, because you made it and that is what works best for you. Yes, sometimes you have to take others thoughts, ideas and considerations into your conclusion, but ultimately it’s what you decided upon.

So make sure to think clearly, and own the decision you make, because it’s yours.

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