Friday, May 2, 2014

Through the Keyhole - May 2014

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Through the Keyhole

Informative & Interesting... not your everyday company newsletter.
Happy May Day!
For those of you who may not know it, May 1 is also referred to as May Day and it has a fairly notable history. From celebrations including flowers, spring and Maypoles, May Day has been around a long time. This is also the month of traditional "May Crowning" celebrations honoring Mary of Nazareth.
Many people think the distress call of "MAYDAY" comes from this day.  However, it actually comes from the french expression "Venez M'adier", meaning "come help me", the last two syllables of which sound similar to "Mayday".  The call is always given three times in a row ("Mayday", Mayday", "Mayday"). 

Last month's winner of the "guess the location" game was Kurt Swanson on April 1 at 8:37am followed by Dr. Robert Crane at 8:38am.  But that one was easy - Firenze (Florence), Italy.  More about the location below...

And now for a new picture above- Can you guess where it is by looking through the keyhole?  "This place is truly breathtaking and deadly. Beautiful, isolated, and rarely seen without clouds.  This place is no Disneyland."

Correct answers will be given recognition but half the fun is trying to figure it out.  The correct answer will be revealed in the subsequent issue.  Good luck and have fun.

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As always, send any items you think are newsworthy, interesting or just plain odd to

Firenze, Italy - Keyhole Answer

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"This place is the historic center of the region and is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  It is home to magnificent artworks, fashion and leather goods.  If you find yourself here you'll wonder how people from the Jersey Shore ever lasted a summer..."

Firenze, or Florence, is pictured above and is the answer to the keyhole location game.  Even though I hate to mention it, Jersey Shore (the MTV series) filmed a summer season in Florence.  I am shocked they were not banished from this historic and sophisticated place.

Home to Michelangelo's David, paintings from the Renaissance, the famous frescoes on the monastery walls to countless sculptures and masterpieces only available in Florence.  If you love art, then you will love Florence.

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as 'Il Duomo' was begun in 1296 and finished in 1436.  It is the largest dome of its type and represents the center for the Roman Catholics in the region. The massive structure is something to behold as you explore its massive cathedral and crypts below that house the remains of Florentine bishops throughout the centuries.

Florence is an old, historic place so don't expect clean, wide, paved streets.  Expect a confusing labyrinth of streets that all look very similar.  It is easy to get lost.  This massive place with quaint shops and restaurants is home to under 400,000 people but very crowded no matter the weather or time of year.  Watch your pockets carefully as the millions of visitors who visit this mecca of tourism often get lifted of items of value if you're not careful.

While you are there, make sure to try some authentic Italian food and a slice of pizza or two.  You may also want to swing by Gucci and pick up a bag made right there in Florence. 
Florence is also home to some of the best and most extensive outlets in Europe and maybe the world. With the huge Prada factory/outlet store leading the charge...basically every major (Italian) brand in fashion has an outlet here.

Top ten things to see when you are in Florence:
1)  Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio
  Il Duomo - Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
3)  The Baptistery
4)  Campanile - Bell Tower
5)  Ponte Vecchio
6)  Galleria degli Uffizi
7)  Galleria dell Academia
8)  Boboli Garden and Pitti Palace
9)  Santa Croce
10)  Shopping in general


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Major League turns 25

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It may not seem like it, but it’s been 25 years since we first met Jake Taylor, Willie Mays Hayes and Pedro Cerrano. Twenty-five years since Rick Vaughn turned “Wild Thing” into a baseball anthem. Twenty-five years since Harry Doyle gave us “Juuuuuuust a bit outside.” Twenty-five years since Jobu.

“Major League,” which starred Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen and Wesley Snipes, among others, debuted in theaters 25 years ago Monday — April 7, 1989. It became a No. 1 hit at the box office and one of the most beloved baseball films of all time.

Sure, we laughed, but we also fell in love with the team and its quirky roster that included a junkball pitcher, a walk-on leadoff man, a slugger trying to use voodoo to conquer curveballs and a washed-up catcher who just wants to win one more time.

For one, the movie was mostly filmed in Milwaukee in the old County Stadium...


Pastor's Ass Out Front (a parable)

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The Pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won.

He was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in another race and it won again.

The local paper read:

The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the Pastor not to enter the donkey in another race.

The next day the local paper headline read:

This was too much for the Bishop so he ordered the Pastor to get rid of the donkey. The Pastor decided to give it to a Nun in a nearby convent.
The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day:

The Bishop fainted.

He informed the Nun she would have to get rid of the donkey. She sold it to a farmer for $10. The next day the paper read:

This was too much for the Bishop. He ordered the Nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild.

The next day the headlines read:

The Bishop was buried the next day.

The moral of the story is . . . being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief . . even shorten your life. So be yourself and enjoy life. Stop worrying about everyone else's ass and just cover your own !!!

Soda vs. Pop

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Did you ever notice how some people say "pop" and some people say "soda"?  And still others say "coke" regardless.  It is interesting to note that this phenomenon largely comes from where we grew up.  The enlarged map shows a small sampling of who says what when it comes to soft drinks in this country.

Hot Doug's Sausage Superstore

I believe that most Americans love a good hot dog.  Here in Chicago it is considered a sin to put ketchup on your dog... (unless you are my wife).  Nonetheless, Hot Doug's is a noteworthy place found on the north side and has been featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations Required (video here).  They have so many good items in addition to the traditional "Chicago Dog".  Doug even cooks the french fries in duck fat.

If you are ever in the area (or want to make a trip), it's worth it.  They even make a Foie Gras Dog (in protest), and some other exotic samplings below.  Specials change daily so be ready to try something new and fun.

The Elvis
Polish Sausage: Smoked and savory - just like the King.
The Paul Kelly
Bratwurst: Soaked in Beer - sort of like Paul.
The Bruno Tattaglia
(formerly the Sal Tessio, the Frankie Pentangeli, the Virgil Sollozzo
and the Luca Brasi)
Italian Sausage: Don't ever take sides with anyone against the sausage.
The Malin Akerman
(formerly the Anna Kendrick, the Keira Knightley, the Jennifer Garner and the Britney Spears)
Fire Dog: Mighty hot!
The Bo Derek
(formerly the Brigitte Bardot, the Salma Hayek, the Madonna, the Raquel Welch and the Ann-Margret)
Andouille Sausage: Mighty, mighty, mighty hot!

Make sure you are prepared to stand in line...

5 Insanely-Tested Top Summer Travel Tips

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1. Keep cool in the heat

a) Protect your skin in the sun, and wear loose-fitting, light-colored natural fabric clothing, and a wide brimmed hat.

b) It may seem obvious, but drink plenty of water, frequently, along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes. Sip, don't gulp. Adding mint leaves, or orange, lemon or cucumber slices to your water makes it more refreshing

c) Every hour or less remove your cap or hat, and pour a bit of water into the hat, then quickly invert it and place on your head. Also, soak your bandana frequently

d) Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these promote dehydration.

e) Eat spicy food. It's not a coincidence that many in hotter regions of the world eat spicy food. Spicy food increases perspiration which cools the body as it evaporates. It also can cause an endorphin rush that is quite pleasant and might make you forget about the heat.

2. Getting through Customs and Immigration

a) Check the government website on your destination country to understand customs and duties for anything you are carrying in. It's often cheaper to buy locally if there is a high duty.

b) Make sure you have enough blank pages in your passport for any additional stamps, and that your passport is valid for six months beyond your entry date into the country

c) Be courteous, respectful, responsive and humble when dealing with customs and immigration officials. They are human, but with a lot of power, and can pull you aside just because of an unpleasant stare or sharp word.

3. Power while traveling

a) Bring phone battery chargers, such as the new Energizer portable chargers.

b) Bring an international plug adapter, so you can plug into those weird foreign sockets

c) If in a remote area, consider bringing a solar battery charger

4. Travel Immunizations

a) Don't use out of date medicines, or those prescribed for a different region.

b) Check for recommended immunizations for your destination

c) Consult your physician 4-6 weeks before traveling, and ask him to research through his professional sources any medical precautions or preventatives currently recommended.

5. Finding a great restaurant anywhere

a) Don't be random. Use TripAdvisor and if nothing good exists, look for an online edition of the local newspaper. Most newspapers have on-line editions that contain large collections of dining recommendations and reviews from previous issues.

b) Don't trust the hotel concierge. They are often paid to recommend certain restaurants. Rather, ask at a fine wine store where they like to go eat.

c) Don't always trust the first person you ask. Some people have weird or just plain bad taste. It's always good to corroborate someone's opinion with at least one other person.

Just Joking Around

Dolan-Laughing 2It was Sunday morning, and the priest had already preached to the adults in the congregation.

Now he was presenting a children's sermon. He asked the children if they knew what the Resurrection was.

Now, asking questions during children's sermons is crucial, but at the same time, asking children questions in front of a congregation can also be very dangerous.  In response to the question, a little boy raised his hand.
The priest called on him and the boy said, "I know that if you have a resurrection that lasts more than four hours you are supposed to call the doctor."

It took ten minutes for the congregation to settle down enough for the service to continue.

Word of the Day

gov pat quinn veto concealed weapon carry bill guns 2Maladroit- Adj.
Lacking adroitness. Ineffective or bungling, or clumsy.

synonyms:bungling, awkward, inept, clumsy, bumbling, incompetent, unskillful, heavy-handed, gauche, tactless, inconsiderate, undiplomatic, impolitic;
The governor has been criticized for his maladroit handling of the budget crisis.

An inept person.

When someone is adroit, they are graceful and nimble; they show a lot of dexterity. Maladroit is the opposite of that. It means clumsy, but with a hint of overall incompetence. If someone calls you maladroit, or says that you are a maladroit, they're not being the least bit nice. They mean that you've bungled something up with your fumbling.

Amazon's Fire TV

Amazon-fireTV-remoteinhand 2This past month, Amazon made a formidable entrance into the streaming marketplace by introducing Fire TV.  Competing with Apple TV, Chrom, and Roku, this little gadget is generation 1 for Amazon.

The Fire TV is a compelling proposition, so long as you're already locked into the Amazon ecosystem. It's fast, powerful and priced in line with its higher-end competition at $99. The addition of a single game controller for $40 gives access to gaming that doesn't take the place of a console, but suits the need of generation raised on tablets and smartphones. The relatively high controller price (compared to the box itself) makes multiplayer a bit dodgy, so if you're looking for couch co-op, that's something to think about. The preferential inclusion of Amazon services is a bit of a hurdle too, but if you already have a Kindle Fire and Prime subscription, it makes more sense.

As a general-purpose photo, video and music streamer, though, even features like ASAP and its high-powered processor aren't quite enough to separate Fire TV from the pack. It's a worthy option, but far from the best, and we'll need some time to see how well it's supported by games, apps and services to see if Amazon can become a serious hardware player in the living room. Version 2.0 will probably be where all our questions are answered.

Read complete review

Purchase here


tile6 2Tile trackers make easy to lose items (keys, wallet, purse, pets, etc.) easy to find.  The Bluetooth enabled Tile remembers an item's last location, tells you if you're getting closer, and sounds an alert to help you zero in on those missing keys.  You can pre-order them now for $19.95 a piece.

Buy now



“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively."
- Bob Marley (really)


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1. There are more possible iterations of a game of chess than there are atoms in the known universe.

Cleopatra lived closer in time to the Moon landing than to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

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3. Written language was invented independently by the Egyptians, Sumerians, Chinese, and Mayans.
If you were to remove all of the empty space from the atoms that make up every human on earth, the entire world population could fit into an apple.

Honey does not spoil. You could feasibly eat 3000 year old honey.

If you somehow found a way to extract all of the gold from the bubbling core of our lovely little planet, you would be able to cover all of the land in a layer of gold up to your knees.

The Spanish national anthem has no words.
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8. The state sport of Maryland is jousting.

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Tip of the Month
Use a can opener to open blister packs and avoid cutting yourself...Try it.

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Bright Idea

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Personal wireless lighting

LIFX® is a wifi enabled, multi-color, energy efficient LED light bulb that you can control with your smartphone. Tunable white light. And every color you can imagine.

16 million colors at your fingertips

LIFX is like going from black and white television to full-color HD. Imagine the ability to transform the ambience of your home or workplace using your smartphone.

Ease into your day

Wake up naturally each morning with automatically increasing light.
Improve the quality of your sleep, drifting off with slowly dimming lights.

Easy to install bulbs that last 27 years

With LIFX there is no need for electricians or complicated control boxes. Just replace your existing bulbs with LIFX bulbs. The LEDs in LIFX bulbs are also rated to last up to 40,000 hours. That's 27 years at 4 hours use per day, so sit back and relax.

Bulbs from $99 each.  Not cheap but really cool.


Don't you hate it when autocorrect kicks in and you hit send before checking?


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The Best CAESAR dressingindex 2

The Caesar salad was reportedly invented by a man named Caesar Cardini in 1924. The widely touted story goes a little something like this: Cardini, who owned the restaurant Tijuana, Mexico was running low on supplies when some hungry friends (US Airmen) happened by. Not wanting them to starve, he threw together a few ingredients he still had on hand. Among them were romaine lettuce, garlic, croutons, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, eggs and Worcestershire sauce.  He called it the Aviator Salad.
His patrons were reportedly more than satisfied with the mix, and word spread of this agreeable new leafy delight. A salad sensation was born. Sadly, however, while the Caesar salad remains a classic dish to this day, the restaurant that spawned the creation has since shut its doors.  You may find Cardini's Caesar dressing in the grocery store today.

However, this recipe is much better.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS3 heads romaine lettuce, washed, dried and cut lengthwise
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sourdough bread, cubed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 anchovy fillets, drained or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 egg yolks
1 cup extra virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 375 F
To prepare croutons, place bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss well to coat evenly. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Bake for 10 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Set aside to cool on a paper towel.

To prepare Caesar dressing, combine all ingredients except oil in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. While processing, slowly add oil. Adjust seasoning, cover, and refrigerate.

Place romaine hearts on chilled plates, drizzle with Caesar dressing, and garnish with Parmesan shavings and croutons. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

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