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Today we all went to Oklahoma City with Ma, Pa and Aunt Catherine to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the Day Out With Thomas. Drew started by getting a Thomas tattoo. Will and everyone else just watched. There were lots of things to do and, fortunately, most of the activities were in the shade under large tents because it was pretty hot out under the sun.
There were lots of huge Thomas train sets to play with as well as other hands-on building activities.
We even got to see and pose for a picture with Sir Topham Hat. Drew loved the hay bale maze.
The highlight of the day was taking a train ride with the whole family. We rode in Clarabell while Thomas pushed us down the track and then pulled us all back home again.
Drew enjoyed looking out the window as all the scenery went past.
Finally, after the train ride, everyone got to pose for pictures with their favorite train engine, Thomas.
Will from top left clockwise: sitting in his bouncy seat, hiding from the paparazzi, napping in daddy's lap and cooing in his sleep.
Drew playing with chalk in front of our home. See Jan, things do get dirty around here. Rest assured though, the activity was immediately followed by a high-pressure power wash and an acid treatment...and that was just for Drew!
I haven't had too many trolls come by lately. Too bad, I enjoy the entertainment. Fortunately, I had one come by today! Here are his two unedited comments in reference to my post on the Oklahoma Minutemen Counter-Protest Rally:
"Im sure you all are republicans, the REAL religous people... ahahha what a joke"
"im not leaving my name, you all are crazy enough to find me and destroy things, typical of you people, block the messages you dont like.. cowards"
"JR," as he called himself in his first post, represented himself so well in his two short garbled comments, that I thought it would be fun examining them in detail.
"Im sure you are all republicans"
Well, poor JR is wrong right off the bat in several regards. His use of the phrase "you all" is incorrect as he appears to be lumping me in with the Minutemen of which I am not a member. And, while I'm a Republican (actually conservative first, Republican second), it would be incorrect to lump all Minutemen into the category of Republicans. I know for a fact that many are Democrats. The Minutemen are a non-partisan group of individuals with the common goal of "seeking a peaceful and respectable resolve to the chaotic neglect by members of our local, state and federal governments charged with applying U.S. immigration law." What an insult JR makes to Democrats to say that only Republicans desire to enforce our nation's laws. The non-partisan nature of the Minutemen is especially true in Oklahoma where many conservatives are Democrats simply because their daddy and their daddy's daddy were Democrats.
"the REAL religious people"
So, according to JR, the truly religious are those who don't want to enforce our nation's laws, are Democrats and are people who mock others they deem less religious. I don't think the facts or common sense back up this assertion.
"im not leaving my name"
Not necessary. JR, an Oklahoma City Southwestern Bell DSL subscriber, left behind his IP address (126.96.36.199), something far more identifying than a mere name.
"you all are crazy enough to find me and destroy things"
Actually, such paranoia would make him far closer to a "crazy" diagnosis than anyone I met at the Minuteman counter-protest rally. JR's comment includes the often repeated fallacy that those on the right are more violent and destructive than those on the left. From union thuggery and intimidation, to environmentalists burning new housing developments, to Voter Intimidation & Suppression In 2004 (read the facts, not the unsubstantiated allegations of the left), the facts speak for themselves. Watch the upcoming political conventions in summer of 2008 and see which party has the more violent mobs protesting them. I guarantee you the most violent, mask wearing, profanity laced, attempting to be disruptive protesters will be Democratic supporters at the Republican convention. No one fears putting a Gore or Kerry bumper sticker on their cars but I know many people who won't put a Bush sticker on their car out of fear of vandalism. So, while a call to a friend at SBC would likely locate JR, he need only fear his own paranoia.
"typical of you people"
I thought stereotyping people was wrong? Looks like we can add "hypocrite" to the list of JR's failings.
"block the messages you dont like"
No, I block all messages so that spam doesn't get though. This comment evidences JR's paranoid delusional nature very well. His first message was blocked by my spam filter which I've set up to err on the side of caution and block nearly everything. I'd rather delay a legitimate comment, than let an advertisement for something inappropriate get through. In fact, if your comment doesn't get posted here immediately, you get a little message explaining my spam filter setup. JR, however, in his self-aggrandized paranoid delusional state though I personally blocked his message because I didn't like it. What's fascinating is that the message explaining that his comment didn't get posted pops up almost immediately upon pressing the key to enter the comment. So, JR thinks I'm sitting at the computer all day just waiting for him to share his words of wisdom and then, using my secret jedi-ninja speed reading powers, read and blocked his comment at near the speed of light.
Finally, JR closes with childish name calling. But, who is it that's hiding behind his IP address and who's name, face, address, etc., is all right here easily available or searchable? Who's the coward? Or, should I ask who a coward and a troll?
Mary caught three little monkeys playing together the other day. Admittedly, not the best picture of Drew, but it was such a good picture of Will that I thought it worthy of sharing.
On the left is the standard white Apple iPod Nano (2G) dock that can be purchased as an accessory from Apple. The Nano itself, only comes with a dock connector to USB 2.0 cable forcing your iPod to lay down like a second-rate piece of hardware while it syncs and recharges. To me the beautiful black Nano sitting in the white dock just doesn't look right. I figured, no problem, I'll just hop on the internet and order a black iPod Nano dock...wrong. I searched and searched and found nothing. At least, nothing that was simple, elegant and would fit my second generation Nano. So, I figured, it was do-it-myself time.
I picked up a dock from the "local" Apple store in Oklahoma City while I was there this weekend. Bought some glossy black spray paint specially made for applying to plastics and created my own black iPod Nano dock. And, if I may say so myself...it looks AWESOME!!!
Removing the cover from the dock was fairly simple. It's on pretty tight, but a little work with a knife wedged underneath between the innards and the cover and I was able to release the small tabs that keep it in place. The only thing I might do different if I did it over was not paint it in a dusty garage with a two-year old running around "helping" me. There are some dust particles that got stuck in the wet paint. Nothing noticeable while the dock is just sitting on my desk, but if you pick it up and examine it in good light, you can see a few specks in the paint. After it dried, I just shoved the two parts back together and it works perfect. The thin layer of black paint does not seem to interfere in any way with docking and undocking the Nano.
I've posted pictures of the process on Flickr.
I'm going to start with a list of attendees and their blogs:
Mike Hermes of Okiedoke*
Sean Gleeson of Gleeson Bloglomerate*
Charles G Hill of dustbury*
Dan Lovejoy of Dan & Angi Have Something to Say*
William Kerr of Passionate America*
Jan of Happy Homemaker*
Michael Bates of BatesLine*
Kurt Hochenauer of Okie Funk
Cissy of North of the Red River
Melessa of But I Digress...
Kristin Hoover of Redneck Diva
Heather Stelle of Ssshhh...I Hear the Tater's Talkin'
Barbara Martin of Babs Conversation Station
Fred Roper of Satellite Sky
Jeri Smalley of Jeri Smalley
Kevin Latham of Blog Oklahoma
Donna Latham of Poison DDT
Carleta Latham of Carleta.org
Steph Waller of Incurable Insomniac
Lynette Erwin of Nettl's Notes
Chris Arps of Oklahoma Political News Service
Brian Stone of An Audience of One
Shannon a/k/a Monty of The Daily Bitch
(* 2005 Okie-Blogger Bash attendees.)
Sean Gleason is hilarious...his Intro to Blogging presentation is filled with great quips like reference to Live journal and Xanga ghettos and the special audience attracted to quizzes like What Flavor Ice Cream Are You?
Thanks to Oklahoma Christian University for helping sponsor the Blogger Round-Up.
Raffle time...I won a $20.00 gift certificate to Barnes & Nobel!
[3:00 pm] The Advanced Blogging panel is moderated by Dan Lovejoy of Dan & Angi Have Something to Say with panelists:
Dr. Kurt Hochenauer of Okie Funk,
Kevin Latham of The Program Witch Pages, Blog Oklahoma Webring, BlogOklahoma.us, ITLnet Blog and Blog Elk City, and
Sean Gleeson of Gleeson Bloglomerate.
Lots of great tips on programs, images, design, rss syndication and readers, spammers, trolls and everything else.
Kevin Lathan has set up an Okie Blogger Round-Up group Flickr page for everyone to upload their photos. I'm taking an occasional photo and will upload them to the group page as well as to my Flickr page.
[4:00 pm] The liberals and progressives have outed themselves! Oklahoma's lefty bloggers are alive and kickin'.
[4:40 pm] Dinner and sightseeing/shopping break. I had dinner with Charles Hill, Michael Bates, Dan, Angi and Elijah Lovejoy at the Bricktown Brewery. A burger and a few Copperhead Amber Ales really hit the spot. Thanks to Charles for picking up the tab for the out-of-towners, Michael and myself. I skipped out right after finishing dinner and stopped by Oklahoma's only Apple Computer store in Penn Square Mall.
[7:45 pm] 2006 Okie Blog Award winners are announced:
Best Overall Blog: dustbury
Best Political Blog: Okie Funk
Best Family Blog: Rocks in my Dryer
Best Humor Blog: Redneck Diva
Best Audio Blog: The Daily Bitch
Best Blog Layout: Taste the World
Best Unusual Blog: 3:40 a.m.
Best Writing Blog: Audience of One
Best Culture Blog: Blog Oklahoma.us
Best Commentary: Two-Headed Blog
Best Inspirational Blog: Counseling Notes
Best Commercial Blog: Oklahoma Wine News
[8:00 pm] Time to get funky...the geeks have hit the dance floor. And by "geeks" I mean people who all can dance better than me.
[9:30 pm] Raffle time again...I won a DVD of Mozartballs!
[10:30 pm] Screening of the United States premier of Mozartballs starring two attendees, Steph Waller and Lynette Erwin. The film, already shown at the Cannes Film Festival, all over Europe and much of the rest of the world, was commissioned by a German film company for this year's commemoration of Mozart's 250th birthday and will be publicly released in the U.S. this December.
[11:30 pm] Well...quite a film, especially with two of its stars sitting next to me while it played. Without giving too much away, it is in the style of a documentary about different individuals around the world whose lives are unusually linked to/with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It, therefore, is not specifically about Mozart himself...although Steph might disagree on this point. Steph and Lynette's roles definitely fall in the truth is stranger than fiction category. The only other thing I'll say is that they both attest to the fact that there was no acting in the film and that everything was unscripted and completely real. All and all, I enjoyed the film and I'd say its creators succeeded...if there goal was to make a movie about Mozart, but not about Mozart, and in a way that's not been done before.
[11:45 pm] Heading home. And, guess where I filled up before hitting the turnpike?
Apple recently updated its iTunes software to version 7. The update made improvements in a lot of places. One of the coolest additions is the 3D album cover visualization called Cover Flow (originally CoverFlow by Steel Skies). A static picture doesn't do justice to just how cool this feature is. Using the mouse to drag or click the slider, you can "flow" through all your album cover art and select what album you want to listen to.
There's only one problem...while the idea is fantastic...the implementation is horrible. In just the first 30 albums I ripped (192 kbps AAC), 10 had significant problems with the cover art from missing or wrong covers to covers which looked like someone just pulled a heavily worn LP album out of a crate and scanned it in with the lowest possible quality scanner. I had previously ripped the same albums in Windows Media Player (128 kbps MP3) and it downloaded the proper album art, of perfect quality, every time without a hitch.
And, I won't even go into all the bugs that you run into with iTunes while trying to fix the album art problems. Suffice it to say that all the various iPod forums are filled with complaints. The word is that Apple programmers are working feverishly trying to fix the problems. This is one of those things, usually associated with Microsoft, that I just wonder...did they use the product before it launched?
Here's the 10 screw-ups out of my first 30 CDs:
Atlantic Rhythm Section, wrong.
Bad Company, 10 From 6, wrong.
Badfinger, Very Best of Badfinger, missing.
Moving Pictures, Days of Innocence, poor quality.
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, poor quality.
Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water, poor quality.
The Who, It's Hard, poor quality.
The Who, Quadrophenia, poor quality.
The Who, Who's Better Who's Best, wrong.
U2 Best of 1980-1990, B-Sides, wrong.
And when I say "poor quality" I'm not just being picky, I'm talking about an objectively bad image that makes you immediately say, "Ewww, why is that all messed up?"
Argggh...as I type this four others albums have the wrong cover art: Best of the Animals, Best of the Alan Parsons Project, Best of the Allman Brothers Band and Aerosmith's Greatest Hits. I'm beginning to wonder, what's the point? Additionally, Apple chose to strip out the original Steel Skies program's ability to exclude albums without cover art, albums below a certain duration or song/track count and custom filters. Hopefully, these options will be implemented in future versions.
Final note, Cover Flow is just an additional feature in iTunes and in no way affects the fact that I LOVE my new iPod Nano!
[Update] Here is an excellent thread in the iLounge forums entitled: To Clarify: iTunes 7 ALBUM ARTWORK Issues...
Seriously, my hand is not that big...this thing is just tiny! The "thing" being Apple's latest iPod Nano, second generation, with 8GB of memory, enough for 2000 songs. I've put photos of the opening/unboxing on Flickr.
I can remember studying in college with a Sony Walkman tape player and a few tapes holding just a dozen or more songs each. My friend Dave recorded a bunch of Simon & Garfunkel for me which I listened to so much that, even today, when I listen to one of their CDs I occasionally think something is missing because there's not a scratch or pop where one is "supposed" to be.
Jump forward to today: 2000 songs in perfect digital clarity, 24 hour battery life, color screen with album art...all in just 3.5" x 1.6" x .26". Maybe I just need tactile feedback or my stuck-in-the-80s brain can't comprehend how it can all fit in such a small device but, for me at least, photos simply cannot convey how small this thing is. I'm in awe.
THANKS Donelda !!!
Will had his baptism today. Monsignor Patrick Gaalaas performed the ceremony at the Church of Saint Benedict in Broken Arrow.
We very much appreciate all the family that were able to join us for the occasion. Besides Will, Mary, Drew and myself, those present included Will's Grandma and Grandpa Youngman, Uncle David, Aunt Michelle, Uncle Matt and his new Godmothers Aunt Catherine and Aunt Donelda.
We were also very fortunate both for Drew and this time for Will to have been the only family having a baptism. We were able to film and take pictures at our leisure both before, during and after the ceremony. Monsignor Gaalaas, besides having a last name that's a Scrabble player's dream, is really an incredible man. He helped us though two miscarriages and has now baptized both our sons. He said that he hopes he'll still be around when the boys have their first communion and we hope the same. I wish I had half the spirit of peace that he exhibits.
Aunt Donelda is in town this weekend visiting from Chicago. In her honor, Mary dressed the boys in their Cubs uniforms. The outfits aren't the favorites of Mary's Cardinal fans family, so this is a good occasion to get them out.
As you can see, things were humming along very evenly until the 11th when my 9/11 hijackers image was widely circulated. Thanks to my great web host, TotalChoice Hosting, there was no slow down in performance despite the 20 times normal load on the servers.
Will taking some naps on the couch, with and without Ted.
I'll state up front, I don't know if this is just an anomaly or actual censorship by Google. I'll state my case and let others more knowledgeable about Google decide.
Background on Google. It is well known that Google cooperates with the hard-line Chinese government and self-censors content on the Chinese version of Google. This is done under the theory that working with the Chinese government toward change is better than being blocked out and unable to have any influence. Many would disagree.
Lesser known is the liberal culture within Google where, in the last presidential election, 98% of Google's employees who made political contributions donated to Democrats. Or, that Google has been accused of purging conservative news sites from its hand-picked Google News service under the guise that such sources contain hate speech while refusing to eliminate Muslim sites that preach Islamic supremacism, jihad ideology and anti-semitism which are much more virulent and hateful than most any of the purged conservative websites.
Background on the Image. Shortly after September 11, 2001, I sought out a single picture of all the 9/11 hijackers together. Much to my utter amazement, I couldn't find one. So, I created one myself by pasting together individual mugshots from the FBI website and posted it in the Pictures section of this website (long before it had a blog front end). Shortly thereafter, the picture was posted all over the internet. It is by far the most popular item on this website. It has been posted thousands of different times from Free Republic to Daily Kos to Fark. In fact, if you do a Google image search (GIS) for "9/11 hijackers" or just "hijackers" it always comes up as the first result...at least, until yesterday the fifth anniversary of 9/11.
I checked my logs over the weekend and saw that links to the picture were increasing with the approaching anniversary and checked the picture's ranking on Google and it was number one sometime on the 9th or 10th as it has been for a long time. For some reason, I checked again on the 11th and the picture had vanished from the Google image search results. I then checked other countries versions of Google where it is still number one. See the following screen captures for Google image searches for "9 11 hijackers" for a dozen random countries:
Australia - Brazil - Canada
France - Germany - Japan
Mexico - Russia - Saudi Arabia (read right to left)
South Africa - Spain - United Kingdom
In every instance, except two, my 9/11 hijackers image is the first result. The two countries where the image isn't just less than number one but wholly fails to appear anywhere in the results...China (which we know Google censors) and the U.S.
China - United States
Here's a live Google.com image search for "9 11 hijackers" to see if there is any change since this entry was posted.
The number one image on the internet showing the 9/11 hijackers together (which is accused of being politically incorrect because, though wholly factual and presented without comment, inappropriately focuses on the similar physical characteristics of the terrorists) vanishes from U.S. Google image search results on or around 9/11. An innocent anomaly in Google's vast database or some activist Google employee using his China-honed censoring skills?
-------------------- UPDATE --------------------
Somehow Google's safe-search feature is involved. The image in question is ranked number one when Google's safe-search feature is set to the default "moderate" setting but disappears from Google's database when either "strict filtering" or "do not filter" is selected. This makes no sense, as non-filtered results should include everything that is shown when moderate filtering is selected.
I use "do not filter" as my default and have not adjusted it so I stand by my assertion that around the 11th the image disappeared from Google's non-filtered results.
All of the Google image searches for the other countries were the first time I ever searched there and, accordingly, Google's default filtering settings kicked in. A sampling of those foreign searches at different filtering levels provides the same result as Google.com.
While the filtering differences provide some insight, I'm still left with the image being removed from Google's unfiltered results.
Venesha O. Richards
Forever Age 26
Secretary with Marsh & McLennan
100th floor of 1 World Trade Center
North Brunswick, N.J.
Venesha Richards: A Dream of Paris
When Venesha Rodgers caught a short ride home from work at Bradlees in North Brunswick, N.J., her lift, Hopeton Richards, instantly realized she was just the person he had been looking for: fun, smart, an active Christian and, like Mr. Richards, an émigré from Jamaica. Not only that, she lived around the corner. In July 1998, four years after that five-minute car ride, they were married.
Mrs. Richards was a one-woman power plant. As a young mother, a student in technology systems at Pace University, holding a full-time job, she still helped run trips for her church youth group.
Before baby Kayla was born last year, she and Mr. Richards traveled to Mexico; Key West, Fla.; the Bahamas; and the Poconos. "Ven always wanted to go to Paris," Mr. Richards said.
Mrs. Richards, 26, "was more of a mama to me than I was to her," said Lelith Grant, her mother, who worked night shifts as a nurse so she and Mrs. Richards could swap child-minding chores. On school holidays, Mrs. Richards took her little brother and sister to work at Marsh & McLennan on the 100th floor of 1 World Trade Center.
Heading home, she always made a beeline. "She couldn't wait to see Kayla take her first step," said Mr. Richards. "She took it three days after the incident."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 28, 2001.
Venesha Richards, 26, Mom Who Led a Vibrant Life
During the Brunswick Church of God's annual Labor Day picnic, Venesha Richards was where she loved to be -- surrounded by children.
"She was playing ball with the kids.... You always would see her with the kids," said Ivette Cox, a family friend.
As the church's assistant youth director, Mrs. Richards, 26, spent a lot of time around young people.
"What I loved about her most was that she was so energetic," said Cox, who referred to her as her niece. "When she was pregnant you couldn't tell that she was pregnant even when she was big. She would walk and dance and you couldn't believe it. She was vibrant."
Mrs. Richards enjoyed an active lifestyle, her family and friends said. Among her favorite things to do were to travel -- having been to Europe and more recently to Mexico -- and to chaperon children from her church on an annual South Jersey camping trip.
Mrs. Richards, who moved to New Jersey from Jamaica when she was 9, graduated from Franklin High School in Franklin Township and later received her bachelor's degree from Berkeley College in Woodbridge in 1995.
She landed a job as a secretary at Marsh & McLennan on the 100th floor of the World Trade Center, working in the risk management division. She also was to receive a graduate degree in computer science and information technology at Pace University in New York next year.
"She was the best friend I had. We talked about everything," said her mother, Lelith Bergen of Franklin Township. Because she cared for Mrs. Richards' infant daughter while she was at work, Mrs. Bergen said they saw each other every day.
A whiz with computers, people often turned to her for help. Mrs. Richards helped design and print her church programs. Last month, she helped her mother organize a fashion show fund-raiser by printing the tickets and programs.
The last time her mother saw her was the day before the Sept. 11 attacks. "My last words to her were 'I love you,' and I didn't know it would be the last time I would say that," she said.
Mrs. Richards, who lived with her husband, Hopeton, and her daughter, Kayla, in North Brunswick, spoke about her family often, especially her daughter.
"Not a day would go by that she didn't talk about her family," said Hopeton Richards. They were both looking forward to celebrating their daughter's first birthday on Oct. 24.
"The one thing she really wanted to do was celebrate her daughter's birthday," her husband said. "She wanted to see her walk."
In addition, to her mother, husband and daughter, Mrs. Richards is survived by three brothers, Omar Rogers of North Brunswick, Shaun Rogers of Lawrenceville and Naquan Bergen of Franklin Township; a sister, Queena Bergen of Franklin Township; her father, Stanley Rogers of Baltimore; her maternal grandparents, Hagle Brown of Jamaica and Lloyd Grant of Franklin Township; and her paternal grandmother, Ida Rogers of Jamaica; and several nieces, nephews and other relatives.
A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday at Brunswick Church of God, 48 Lee Ave., New Brunswick.
Profile by Alicia Grey published in THE STAR-LEDGER.
The 2,996 Project: on September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers are each honoring an individual victim of 9/11. Also, check out:
Honoring Mari-Rae Sopper, a childhood classmate.
Honoring Vincent Danz, same name but unrelated.
In nearly 34 months, Drew has never been sick. Oh sure, he spit up when he was a baby after we shoved too much formula down his gullet, but he's never had a cold, or a fever or an infection of any kind...until last week. Drew had his very first fever. He said his head hurt and his forehead felt warm to the touch. A quick check with the electronic thermometer in the ear confirmed a 101 degree temperature.
After a little children's Tylenol, Drew wanted to cuddle on the couch. Now you have to understand, this is the kid who hates naps and is no fan of settling down for an afternoon snuggle. Maybe because he goes to bed at a reasonable time and sleeps until he wakes up naturally, or maybe he just doesn't need a nap every day (he's down to just one or two a week now). In keeping with his self-imposed no-nap policy, Drew has never just fallen asleep somewhere (other than his car seat) like I see so many other children doing.
The point of all this...last week, for the first time since being an infant, Drew wound up falling asleep in my arms. After he was good asleep, I gently laid him down and took this picture...his first ever non-infant nap on the couch. By that evening Drew was acting himself and his temperature had returned to normal. I hope it doesn't make me a bad parent to have enjoyed comforting my son when he wasn't feeling well.
It's not enough that Mike Hermes of Okiedoke.com is the driving force behind the 2006 Okie Blogger Round Up but he is also single handedly running the 2006 Okie Blog Awards recognizing outstanding Oklahoma Blogs in twelve categories: Overall, Political, Family, Humor, Audio, Layout, Unusual, Writing, Commentary, Culture, Inspirational and Commercial.
There are a lot of great nominees in all categories, most of which I hadn't read before, which is one of the best things about the awards...getting to know and, if they attend the Round Up, getting to meet other local bloggers.
Thanks to whoever was kind enough to nominate Danz Family for best Oklahoma family blog. Voting is open to all active Oklahoma bloggers until September 23. Winners will be announced at the Okie Blogger Round Up. I think I know who I'll vote for for Best Overall Blog, best Political Blog and Best Writing Blog. I'm still reading though the nominees in the other categories...great stuff.
Mary and I celebrated our 11th anniversary today. We dropped the munchkins off at Mary's parents and enjoyed an absolutely incredible dinner at the Tulsa Warren Duck Club for nearly three hours laughing the whole time. Some of the humor was the result of the success of last year's 10th anniversary surprise (not blogged due to travel) pulled off with the assistance of many individuals across several states all working together flawlessly.
After driving to Chicago for Labor Day weekend last year, Mary and I went out to an incredible steakhouse where ten red roses were waiting on the table. The evening was topped off when the waitress brought out dessert (with half the restaurant’s staff watching) which included a diamond anniversary band for all the years Mary has put up with me. Mary was overwhelmed by my sneakiness orchestrated with the assistance of the jeweler, florist, restaurant staff and my sister.
By contrast, this year was simply a fine dinner out with eleven roses waiting on the table. Despite my explicit instructions to a local florist...spellings included...the card with the flowers was for Mary Danza and, even better, it wished her a "Happy 11th Anniversary, Love Dawn." And, despite my explaining the whole one flower for each year thing, there were a full dozen roses. We wound up laughing the whole evening. Fortunately, the dinner and service at the Duck Club were incredible. We couldn't decide on an appetizer so we ordered two along with salads, entrees and dessert:
Duck Fromage (four cheese blend with duck, herbs, and spices served with toasted pita points), Mushroom Ragout and Polenta (domestic and wild mushrooms cooked in butter, red wine and herbs, served over parmesan polenta with white truffle oil), Mary-Duck Club Salad (seasonal greens, candied walnuts, pears, gorgonzola and yellow tomatoes tossed in sweet poppy seed dressing), Don-Ceasar Salad (made table-side with fresh garlic, eggs...skipped the anchovy), Mary-Blackened Beef Tenderloin (dusted with cajun seasoning, served with bearnaise sauce, whipped potatoes and chef's vegetables), Don-Signature Sampler Blackened Beef Tenderloin (same as Mary's) and Rotisserie Duck (Long Island duck bathed in blend of spices, rotisserie roasted and served with orange sauce), Chocolate Torte Dessert with a chocolate Happy Anniversary banner. (Leftovers are wrapped up in their signature foil duck.)