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Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in Blog, Personal | 8 comments

True Confessions: The Many Mistakes I Made in 2014




This New Years Eve is an occasion to look back on what we’ve done these previous 364 days.

Right now, I shall do precisely that.  So, please forgive the self-indulgence.

What follows is a list of my mistakes and regrets from the previous year.  Only through an honest self-examination are we able to retool our energies and focus on the challenges to come.  While we shouldn’t dwell on the negative, we must all face the ghosts of our pasts, recognize them as a learning opportunity, and then move on.

Hopefully by sharing my thoughts and remorseful musings, I’ll enter 2015 with a clearer mind and even greater determination to experiencing a more purposeful and fulfilling new year.

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Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Politics | 3 comments

The Great Escape and Bloody Execution of Nicolae Ceausescu




Writer’s Note:  This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Romanian Revolution.  This is the first in a serious of articles which recalls my first-hand account of the uprising in Bucharest between December 21-25, 1989.    


Four days after making a dreadful miscalculation and delivering his final rambling speech to a crowd of more than 100,000 stoic sycophants from the grand balcony of the Communist Party Central Committee Building in Bucharest, and while the Romanian nation watched breathlessly on live television, dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena would gunned down by a firing squad on Christmas Day.

Now 25 years later, several questions about the Ceausescu’s final days remain unanswered.

How could Ceausescu’s iron fist lose its mighty grip on power so quickly and so completely?  How did his situation manage to deteriorate so badly for him?  He’d ruled his nation as a archetypal cult figure for 24 years.  Yet, his body ended up crumpled against a wall, riddled with bullets fired from a makeshift execution squad made up of Romanian Army paratroopers who were hastily assembled at a military base in the small town of Targoviste, just outside Bucharest.

What happened?

This is the story of what I witnessed in central Bucharest during those days which led to the downfall of Communist rule in Romania.

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Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Blog, Personal, Restaurant Reviews | 51 comments

Bottom of the Barrel: The Ten Worst Wines in My Cellar of Shame




Have you ever tried a wine that tasted so unbelievably bad you couldn’t drink it?

I have.  Plenty of times.

And since I’m the “most interesting man in the world” who specializes in wines priced at under $15, my frugal predilections have subjected my highly-seasoned palate to some occasional instances of horror.  I’m talking about wines that are such an abomination they trigger a gag reflex.  I’m talking about vintages laced with such a pungent taste and aroma that your eyes water.  No, those aren’t tears of joy, my friends.  Stay thirsty.

Just in time for the holiday season, here’s my bottom ten picks which should be avoided at all cost.  In other words, even if they are free, you shouldn’t drink them.

Here are the worst ten wines currently on the market, each with a permanent induction into my cellar of shame.  Let the countdown begin!

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Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 1 comment

Could You Last a Week Without a Smart Phone?



Last week, I called a “time out.”

Fed up with a growing dependency on communication devices — and shackled pretty much to iEverything (which means my iPhone, iPad, iPod, and the Internet) — I finally said, “enough!” 

Consumed by the shallowness of what masquerades as dialogue in the high-tech age, I made a rather audacious decision to jump off of life’s spinning hamster wheel.  I needed a break.  Not a vacation.  I didn’t go anywhere — unless bolting “offline” qualifies as the heavenly seclusion of a deserted island.  What I actually mean is splintering away from an unproductive, time-wasting daily compulsion that’s become an incarcerating bundle of puppet strings, albeit with the power of steel cables.

That meant doing what for many people would be utterly unthinkable.  That meant ditching my smartphone.  That meant essentially avoiding just about anything and everything associated with what’s called “social media,” which in reality is about the most unsocial means of expression ever devised by humankind.

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Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Blog, Personal, Rants and Raves | 4 comments

The Proper Way to Engage Me in Conversation




I’m busy.

I don’t have time for small talk.

When you approach me, get straight to the fucking point and wrap it up within a reasonable amount of time.  Is that too much to ask?  Otherwise, my mind will wander elsewhere and you might as well be talking to a wall.

This goes for every form of communication — telephone conversations, e-mails, texts, and most certainly our face-to-face exchanges.  I can chose to ignore your phone chatter and texts if they start to bore me.  But direct conversation carries with it a unique obligation to be pertinent and precise.  So, do as I say!

What follows is a handy checklist on the ways and means to properly engage me in meaningful conversation.  By following these simple rules and guidelines you will significantly improve your chances that I will both listen to what you have to say, and perhaps even care.  There’s no guarantee of this, of course.  You better shine like the hope diamond.  And you’ve got about ten seconds to do it, otherwise my busy mind leaves the station.  So, come to me loaded with your best comments and questions and be prepared to fire them at me when I’m ready.

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