Friday, December 14, 2018

Through the Keyhole - December 2018

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Through the Keyhole
Take a break from your day...

Not your typical company OR newsletter
Can you guess the location?
"This crescent shaped island sits atop of what remained after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements there.  Cousteau looked for the lost city of Atlantis there and the whole cluster of islands is still an active volcano with its crater under the sea."

Send your guess HERE

Festive Season has arrived...
I heard that this year's "Cyber Monday" was up 19.7% over last year where consumers spent $7.9 BILLION in the US alone.  Consumers worldwide purchased 18 million toys and more than 13 million fashion items on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, Amazon reported. Sales from small- and medium-sized businesses who sell through Amazon were up 20 percent on Black Friday compared to last year, the company said.

Brick-and-mortar stores also did well on Cyber Monday as buy online, pickup in-store deals were up 50 percent year-over-year, Adobe reported. Physical stores had a 28 percent increase in online sales. The hottest sellers overall on Cyber Monday were the Nintendo Switch, Little Live Pets, Red Dead Redemption 2, LG TVs, drones and Dell laptops.
Sales from smartphones topped $2 billion, a new record. Adobe estimated 43.6 percent of site visits were done on mobile devices.

That's a lot of spending and a lot of dopamine hitting the brains of shopaholics worldwide.  I have to admit that I contributed to that.  It is just too convenient and fun.

When I was a kid in Chicago and Christmastime came, my grandmother always wanted to take us to the Walnut Room at Marshall Fields.  We got dressed up in our Sunday best and kicked and screamed our way to the 'formal lunch'.  I wonder if anyone does that anymore....
This is what Marshall Field's Walnut Room used to look like in the "olden days".
And this is what Macy's Walnut Room looks like today...
I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah (I have to look up spelling EVERY time) and if you celebrate something else - Happy that too.  And this year if you are travelling to Canada or England, don't forget about BOXING day.

Boxing Day takes place on December 26th and is only celebrated in a few countries; mainly ones historically connected to the UK (such as Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand) and in some European countries. In Germany it is known as "Zweite Feiertag” (which means 'second celebration') and also “Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag” which translates as Boxing Day (although it doesn’t literally mean that)!

It was started in the UK about 800 years ago, during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms box, collection boxes for the poor often kept in churches, were traditionally opened so that the contents could be distributed to poor people. Some churches still open these boxes on Boxing Day.

It was also traditional that servants got the day off to celebrate Christmas with their families on Boxing Day. Before World War II, it was common for working people (such as milkmen and butchers) to travel round their delivery places and collect their Christmas box or tip. This tradition has now mostly stopped and any Christmas tips, given to people such as postal workers and newspaper delivery children, are not normally given or collected on Boxing Day.

There are also often sports played on Boxing Day in the UK, especially horse racing and football matches! It's also when shops traditionally had big sales after Christmas in the UK (like Black Friday in the USA).

So there's a little bit of history for you about Boxing Day.  I am glad we don't celebrate that too...
Guess the Location Game

Last month the winner of the guess the location game was Mark Herr who guessed the right answer.  I appreciate all of the participation.  THANKS FOR PLAYING!
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Keyhole Answer
"This beautiful city is located within one of the world's largest bays at 22 miles across.  Famous for its hospitality and friendly people, this popular destination is on the same latitude as the Hawaiian Islands and sees the annual migration of humpback whales in the winter months. Over 1.5 million foreign visitors visit this area each year."
Puerto Vallarta is a really easy place to visit if you are from Chicago.  During the high season (November - April), there are non-stop flights from Chicago daily.  The 4 hour flight is an easy one and once you arrive and clear customs, you are immediately immersed in the local Mexican hospitality.

One thing I can tell you about PV is that the people there understand tourism is their business and that they mind their business well.  Forget what you hear on the news about the crime and violence in Mexico.  In Puerto Vallarta especially, the people are honest, familial, and friendly.  Of course, there are some criminals there but in all of my years going back to the area, I have never experienced anything uncomfortable or remotely dangerous.  As long as you keep your wits about you and don't do anything stupid, you will be fine in PV.

There are different hotel "zones" in Puerto Vallarta and all have their distinct identities...
  •     North zone starts at the northern tip of the Banderas Bay and ends in Bucerías.
  •     Nuevo Vallarta starts south of Bucerías and Ends north of Boca de Tomates.
  •     Airport & Las Juntas, from Boca de Tomates to the Marina area.
  •     Marina Vallarta starts off south of the airport and ends by the Cruise terminal (harbor) area.
  •     Hotel Zone starts by the city harbor area and ends north of Brasilia Street.
  •     Downtown starts south of Brasilia street and ends at the Cuale River.
  •     Old Vallarta (Romantic zone) starts on the northern side of the Cuale River and ends where the highway south starts, and the
  •     South zone from the Romantic zone all the way to Boca de Tomatlán and the southern beaches.
Although everyone has their favorite places in PV, I prefer the lesser crowded North zone where you can find properties like the Four Seasons, St. Regis and some very expensive and exclusive homes. This is the home to the guy who started the "girls gone wild" craze and took it all the way to the bank with an impressive compound and Rolls Royce to boot.  The Rolls is a little much.

Any way you look at it, Puerto Vallarta has great weather (especially during high season).  January can be highs in the high 70s and in the 60s at night.  It is lovely to leave the windows open and be comfortable.  It is also funny to see how cold the Mexicans feel as they bundle up in jackets and sweaters.  The people there really despise the cold...

Here are some interesting tidbits about Puerto Vallarta:

Los Muertos Beach

Locals claim that Playa Los Muertos (literally translated as Beach of the Dead), located on the South Side of downtown Puerto Vallarta, is as famous as Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. It is certainly a popular spot for tourists, although many people think twice when they find out what its name means in English. However, there is an interesting story behind how this beautiful beach supposedly got its name. Legend has it that centuries ago pirates stormed ashore this beach to steal whatever crossed their path and bury their treasures. Many pirates were supposedly killed on this beach bringing about its gruesome name. Stories are told about how skeletons were found when the first hotel was constructed on this beach.

Banderas Bay

At over 900 meters deep, Banderas Bay is one of the deepest bays in the world. It is also 42 kilometers wide from point to point ranking it amongst the top 10 largest bays in the world too and easily the largest bay in Mexico. The bay is supposed to have got its name during the time of the Spanish conquistadores when the Spanish forces were greeted upon arrival by 20,000 natives holding feathered flags and armed with bows and arrows ready to defend their territory. Flags in Spanish is “banderas,” hence its name.

Las Peñas

In the late 1800s Puerto Vallarta was known as Las Peñas and in the early 1900s, it was renamed Puerto Vallarta after former state governor, Ignacio Vallarta.  

Source of Income

Puerto Vallarta averages over 9 billion pesos in annual revenue with its main source of income being tourism. That has not always been the case. At the beginning of the 19th century the area’s main source of income came from fishing and agriculture exporting bananas, corn, beans and coconuts to the U.S and feeding the local market.

The Movie Industry

Puerto Vallarta has featured as the backdrop to a number of movies, including The Night of the Iguana directed by John Huston which shot the area to fame in the 1960s when stars Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr came to Banderas Bay. During filming, Burton’s love affair with Elizabeth Taylor blossomed and the pair made Puerto Vallarta their second home. Other movies include: Herbie Goes Bananas (1980), Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger (1987) and Limitless (2011) starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, amongst others.


Puerto Vallarta is one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico.  In the past 20 years, its population has increased by 7.56% annually. In 1880, Puerto Vallarta had an approximate total of 1,500 inhabitants, while during the last official census in 2010, Puerto Vallarta totaled 255,725 inhabitants. Today estimates are that the population is well over 300,000.

Mariachi Music

The Mexican state of Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is located, is the capital of Mariachi music in Mexico. Puerto Vallarta is home to some extremely talented mariachi bands and even has a children’s mariachi band.
This is Carlos.  He is the BEST Amphibious Waiter in MEXICO.  Almost everyone who visits the Four Seasons in Punta Mita knows Carlos.  Good Guy. Great Ambassador for the region.
Isla Marietas - Hidden Beach
Four Seasons Punta Mita
Stop PHISHING Dead in its Tracks
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It is inexpensive and you can stop paying the monthly licenses once you are satisfied that your users are good.

See video HERE

This is a hilarious video that you need to watch...
17 Details In Christmas Movies You Probably Still Missed After Watching Them 1,000 Times
In White Christmas, Phil tells Bob at the beginning of the movie, "I want you to get married, and I want you to have nine children." In the final scene, you can see Bob and Betty surrounded by nine children.

Full Article HERE
Wisdom From Grandma Char...
This picture was taken around this time in 2009.  Pictured here are Grandma Char, my son David and niece Taylor.  My how time flies.  Anyway, my mother found a note that was written by my Grandmother's handwriting reminding herself of some really good things to be thankful for and remember.  These are lessons we could all use today.

First her prayer:

O Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the food before us and remember the hungry.
We thank you for health and remember the sick, We thank you for friends for we remember the friendless.
We thank you for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service that these gifts to us may serve others. Amen

Things to be Thankful For:

For the clothes that fit too tight for it means we have enough to eat.
For the taxes we pay for it means we have jobs.
For the lawn that needs mowing and the windows that need washing for it means we have houses.
For the heating bill for it means that we am warm.
For the laundry for it means we have clothes to wear.
For the space we find at the far end of the parking lot for it means we can walk.
For the lady who sings off key at church for it means we can hear.
For the people who complain about the government for it means we have freedom to speech.
For the alarm that goes off each morning for it means we are alive.
These are wise words and heartwarming to me to be able to share them with you.  I am thankful to have had her for all of those years.  She was something special.
An IT Rock Star
CTA Holiday Train
The main star of the Festive season (as far as trains go) is the Holiday Train that runs on the 8 rail lines the CTA operates.  It has six passenger trail cars and a flat car where Santa, his sleigh and reindeer can be found.  The train cars are adorned with festive lights, Christmas Trees sprinkled with ornaments and candy cane stripes on the handrails.

The train, which delivers food baskets to charities around the CTA's serviced areas, operates on select weekdays and on Saturdays.

There are 16 of these types of trains hitting the tracks this Season.  Check out all the Christmas themed Trains HERE.
Personality Trait Confessions...
Christmas Fails...
Short video of some funny stuff...
A New Ship Arrives...
Celebrity Cruise Lines Debuts The Edge.  This short video shows the 4 year process of delivering a ship in about 2 minutes.
Close Call. OMG Hang Glider. WOW
"I went hang gliding in Switzerland on the first day of our vacation. My wife launched with another pilot first and then we launched. I held on for my life because my hardness was never clipped in. I kept holding on until we got to the ground and broke my wrist on impact. My wife landed after I did and did not know what happened until we were on way to the hospital."
Apparently floods happen in VENICE...
And people just live with it.
Oh Johnny...
Teacher: "If I gave you 2 cats and another 2 cats and another 2, how many would you have?"
Johnny: "Seven."
Teacher: "No, listen carefully... If I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?"
Johnny: "Seven."
Teacher: "Let me put it to you differently. If I gave you two apples, and another two apples and another two, how many would you have?"
Johnny: "Six."
Teacher: "Good. Now if I gave you two cats, and another two cats and another two, how many would you have?"
Johnny: "Seven!"
Teacher: "Johnny, where in the heck do you get seven from?!"
Johnny: "Because I've already got a freaking cat!"          
UNREAL Chicken Noodle Soup
  • 3 cups cooked shredded or chopped chicken breast (You can also use rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 (10.5 oz.) can condensed chicken soup
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 (1 oz.) packet Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 cup crumbled bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. Thin Spaghetti or Angel Hair - uncooked
Top with extra crumbled bacon if desired
  1. Combine chicken, condensed soup, chicken stock, milk, cream cheese, carrots, celery, ranch dressing mix, and crumbled bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn down heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes.
  3. add noodles and cheese and simmer until noodles are fully cooked.
  4. ENJOY!!
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TURNkey IT · 210 S Milwaukee Ave · Wheeling, IL 60090-5019 · USA

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