Friday, December 28, 2007

Netscape Brand Dies: RIP

Most of the people that read this will have no clue what or who Netscape is. But Netscape and its founders changed the world as we know it today. And on February 2008, the Netscape brand will be shutdown. All 'old school' computer geeks, I'm sure will be saddened by this. Netscape brings memories.

In the beginning...

In the beginning, the online world was small. A handful of bulletin board systems created ad hoc communication networks (ie: FidoNet) across the world, connecting thousands if not millions of users thanks to volunteers, hobbyists, and scientists. During this time, Prodigy and CompuServe were still existing and were young companies. They too wanted to connect people with their computers and 300 baud modems, but their idea was to charge monthly rates.

The hypertext world (The World Wide Web), created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, was still in its infancy. Nobody wanted to use it because it wasn't easy. It wasn't friendly.

But something happened.

Uber-geeks came to the forefront of innovation. Marc Andreessen and his friends at the newly formed Mosaic Communications Corp, created Netscape. It made web browsing so easy, so unique, and so much fun. Gone were the ANSI graphics, the boring door games and the monochrome colored text found in BBS systems.

The World Wide Web became a new home for those hungry for change online, inviting other geeks to come and see the glorious colors of hypertext and the wonders of GIF layered animation (Flash was just a forethought). The Internet before Netscape was a puzzle. But in the end, Netscape could not last a fight against the Microsoft giant. They took notice of Netscape's rise and created their own web browser. Bill Gates even admitted they did not take the Internet too seriously until Netscape came along.

Thanks to Netscape, competition began and web innovation took off. The magic we all enjoy, the things we all see today on our computer monitors, on our Web TVs, our PS3 browsers, XBox Live graphics...all of it could be traced back to Netscape. It may not have been everyone's favorite browser (1 out of 10 didn't like it), but it helped in the Internet revolution.

Goodbye Netscape, may you rest in peace.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto (1953 – 2007), a martyr

Farewell to Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto
Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today, exactly two weeks away from Pakistan's general elections.

If you do not know who Bhutto was, you will know today -- with media outlets from around the world showing horrifying scenes of a well-planned assassination. The assassin(s) used a combination of bullets and explosions to inflict the fatal blows. It occurred shortly after Bhutto left a political rally. She was hit twice, once at her spinal cord and another shot near her chest.

Her legacy
Bhutto is well known for her stance of moderation in Islam. She opposed Al Queda and more recently, the Taliban, for branding their message of hate across the region. She opposed restrictive rights on women. She was the youngest prime minister ever elected in Pakistan and the only woman to have that office.

Educated at Harvard and Oxford, she was one of America's last hope in bringing stability and democracy in the nuclear-armed Pakistan. Unfortunately, cowards did not want her to be voted in again by the people and killed her.

She is a martyr for the cause of democracy, she is a martyr for the cause of women's rights in the Islam world, and a martyr for the average Pakistani. My condolences to the people of Pakistan who are hurting right now and to her friends and family, who have yet suffered another tragic loss (Bhutto's father, another former prime minister, was also killed before).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cruise with a Mission 2007

So I just got back from Cruise with a Mission yesterday. Over 300 young adults (and young at heart) went to Belize and Guatemala to help with orphanages, hospitals, schools, and other service projects.

People from all over the world came on a 55,000-ton ship (Holland America's Veendam) to assist others and to have a great time with other young adults who believe in the gospel commission of Jesus Christ.

I took roughly 1,200 photos, so its going to be about a week until I can get it all uploaded. But some have already uploaded their pictures online and I would like to invite people to email me at so I can post their links here:

  • David Stephan's Pictures
  • Monday, December 10, 2007

    Huckabee and Clinton - the race I want to see

    Over the past few months, I have said little about the 2008 U.S. presidential race. But after watching a few debates, having read every one's positions, and seeing the polls, I have some early predictions on the two party's nominees.

    I believe it would be a great race if Clinton and Huckabee were the presidential nominees. They both represent the two most active voices in American politics: social liberalism and religious conservatism.

    Here are some of my positive thoughts about these two:

  • Huckabee is a gentleman. When former president Bill Clinton was being pounded in the media regarding his promiscious affairs, Huckabee, the governor of Arkansas at the time, refused to attack Clinton. It is easy to kick someone when they are down, but it takes a gentleman to refuse joining the lynch mob.

  • Hillary is a survivor. Bill Clinton's numerous affairs undoubtedly have hurt their marriage. Despite the public spotlight on their marriage, she sought to reconcile and recover. Some say her ability to forgive is a weakness, but to me, that is one of her greatest strengths. Being able to stick by your husband despite the public humiliation speaks strength and conviction and values that are hard to come by in a society where divorce is so rampant.

  • Huckabee has conservative values that are biblically based. He is the answer to many Protestants' Christmas wishes, someone that isn't afraid to mention the name "Jesus" on public television and yet someone that knows how to separate church and state. He is against murdering babies, and he believes that the Bible is the Word of God, not an inspirational book.

  • Hillary supports socialistic health programs. I believe she can help with Medicare. Taking care of our oldest citizens that can no longer work, or have trouble being functional due to stroke or other diseases need government intervention. We cannot simply ignore the people that cannot help themselves and let them die. We need to support our nursing homes and outpatient therapy clinics. I do disagree with Hillary on more broader socialistic programs -- where the government is paying for people that have the ability to work and make money on their own. The last thing I want is spending tax dollars on lazy folks that do not want to work. (The Bible commands us to work six days a week, Exo 20:9, "Six days shalt thou labour...")

  • Huckabee's flat tax program would remove the IRS and install a new taxing agency to collect sales tax across the board in a fair manner. Economists say this could work. The basic idea behind the current tax system is, the more successful you are, the more you are punished by taxes. If you work less, the more you are rewarded. I think a flat tax rate would make it equal across the board and get rid of this idea to punish successful, hard working Americans. Equality is the key value here.

    These are just some of my thoughts and I'm sure I will type up more later, but let me know if you agree or disagree.
  • Friday, December 07, 2007

    Congress: Take Care of Our Seniors!

    Congress: Take Care of Our Seniors!

    Support HR 916 / S 450, “The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act”

    Imagine if your grandma fell due to a stroke. In order to walk and talk again she needs outpatient rehab. But after Jan 1, 2008, Medicare will only pay $1810. After that amount is gone, even if she can't walk or talk yet, she is on her own.

    We need to tell Congress that Medicare needs to take care of our parents and grandparents. They paid for Medicare all their adult working life only to be taken when they need it most.

    We need to fight this injustice.

    Call your congressman and senator and ask them to support The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (HR 916 / S 450). Please no more blind therapy caps.

    Help spread the message and post this on your bulletins/blogs/myspace.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    The consequences of the falling dollar


    Over the past few weeks the dollar has continued to weaken against other currencies in the world. While I was gone on an Asian vacation, I've noticed certain products already going up in pricing.

    A Samsung 50" DLP HD TV was priced roughly $850 before I left, it is now $1200. Average gas prices has risen from $2.90 to $3.10 in my area. My baby's favorite milk formula rose by almost a dollar.

    On the flip side, due to the low cost of U.S. goods and services, more Europeans are coming into Florida and other tourist hot spots, taking advantage of resort deals and cheap vacation packages. This infuses much needed capital in areas that are dependent on tourism and areas that have been hit by the real estate downfall.

    The cause

    Most economists squarely blame the subprime mortgage crisis as the cause of the falling dollar. International investors are scared to invest in U.S. assets because they do not know if the United States is falling into a recession due to the mortgage and real estate crashes. Couple this with trade deficits, continued cuts in interest rates (shows weakness), and the pile of debt continuing to climb from the Iraq war, the international market is anxious about the economic outlook of the United States.

    This negative mentality has a cascading effect, with more and more investors looking to Europe, South America, and Asia as possible investment alternatives. Even China, who traditionally pegs their currency below the dollar, is looking to leverage against the dollar amidst their own growth problems.

    So what does this mean to you?

  • The sinking dollar means cost of living will continue to rise for the average American. Goods from abroad are more expensive, including oil.
  • Oil prices, which are priced at dollars, will continue to rise as European and Asian countries continue to buy up cheap oil supplies. USD$100 per barrel is cheap to them with their new found value in their currency.
  • Americans vacationing internationally will find that they can buy less things for their greenbacks.
  • Those involved in the retail and exporting business may see a rise in sales due to increased international demand for cheap, U.S. goods.

    How to win financially

    I predict, based on the current credit/subprime issues with American banks and continuing cost of borrowing money for the Iraq war, the dollar will continue to fall well into 2010. It will rebound as the credit markets recover and when Congress stops overspending.

    This means for the next 3 years, my investment portfolio will be more diversified, moving more funds into multinational companies (ie: PLDT) and investing in more foreign instruments.
  • Sunday, November 04, 2007

    Senate about to approve dangerous L.O.S.T. treaty

    Recently, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted 17-4 Wednesday to approve the Law of the Sea Treaty. It is now up to the rest of the senators to vote this down. If the Congress and the president allows this treaty to go through, there are some serious ramifications.

    My issues with this treaty:

  • First, the people that have signed up to this treaty includes the likes of Iran and others. We would have a voice in the governing body, but that doesn't do well when everyone else hates us. If there was ever a dispute, we could technically lose water access based on a popularity vote.

  • Second, it essentially gives the United Nations control over international waterways and we would be giving the U.N. the authority to enforce laws and resolutions that it attached to the treaty. For instance, it requires our submarines to navigate in a surfaced mode with a flag in territorial waters. That means we can't do covert operations to study our enemies using our submarines.

  • Third, as we have seen in the oil for food program, the United Nations isn't exactly perfect in executing laws and regulations. It is the best diplomatic world body we have, but it is an utter failure if we try to utilize it for enforcement purposes. We already complain that our government stinks at certain things (ie: Katrina), how much more, is a larger and more bureaucratic govt like the United Nations (ie: Rwanda) would perform. Do you really want the U.N. to hold the enforcement rights to international waterways?

  • Let your voice be heard

    Contact your senator and congressman. Let them know what you think about this treaty. Should the United Nations rule our seas?

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Lehigh Acres Rib City robbed by clown

    Once again, another Lehigh Acres business has been robbed. Here's a report from the Naples Daily News:

    A suspect wearing a clown costume robbed a Lehigh Acre's Rib City restaurant at gunpoint around 9 p.m. Sunday night. The clown suspect entered the restaurant after closing time and once he got in, he pointed a gun to all of the four employees. He wasn't able to get money from the safe so he took personal belongings and fled on foot and onto an awaiting vehicle.

    The suspect is described as a black male. During the incident the suspect was wearing a Halloween costume consisting of a clown mask and a clown wig.

    Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, or call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-8477 (TIPS).

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007


    My little Kaycee turned 11 months and she's doing so well! At 9 months she was already walking and now she seems to enjoy running...away from mommy and daddy! Plus she seems to be very photogenic.

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Why Filipinos are insulted by Desperate Housewive's remark

    I recently saw Fox News' coverage on the controversy surrounding the TV show, Desperate Housewives and the country of the Philippines. Teri Hatcher made this remark in the show:

    "OK, before we go any further, can I check those diplomas? Because I would just like to make sure they are not from some med school in the Philippines."

    Fox News analysts had no idea why the Philippines would be so upset about this remark. The reason why they have no clue? They lack cultural understanding. This specific remark hits the national pride of the country. I'll explain below.

    The role of Filipinos in the U.S. health industry
    The Philippines is by far one of America's closest allies in Asia (it used to be part of the United States). The Philippines is also closely tied to America's health industry. It is the largest provider of medical professionals to the United States. The country sends over 60,000 nurses and physical therapists every year and in some cases sacrificing its own health needs to help our country.

    In fact, many hard working Filipinos spend their entire life working to be able to go to medical/health schools and to go to the United States for a better life. They go through extensive visa screening, examinations, and accreditation before they can even practice here in America.

    The dream of the nation
    Working overseas is fast becoming the heart and soul of the Philippines, as it feeds and educates the masses in the Philippines, accounting for a significant chunk of the economy. Being a health professional in the Philippines and being able to come over to America to help their families back home is almost like a culturally ingrained dream to all Filipinos.

    This is why the remark was insulting. It hit home across all Filipinos.

    A comparison
    When I see a U.S. flag being burned on television, I get angry. When I hear people insulting our troops in the field, I get angry. I felt the same exact anger hearing this remark. Spitting on the heart of the nation hurts.

    ABC/Teri, that's a low blow.

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Cop killer gets cornered, shot 15 times for 'resisting arrest'

    A 25 year old young adult, Shawn/Sean LaBeet, was the prime suspect for the killing of Officer Jose Somohano, 37. He allegedly injured 3 other law enforcement officers who survived their wounds. LaBeet, according to police accounts, used a military-grade assault rifle against the officers who were chasing him for driving erratically.

    LaBeet escaped with the help of friends and family. They were subsequently arrested for accessory to murder. During the manhunt, officers surrounded LaBeet in a corner and he was gunned down 15 times for 'resisting' arrest. The medical examiner's office stated some of the wounds came from 2 to 3 feet. In short, at some point, there must have been someone up close and personal to make sure he wasn't 'resisting'.

    The message here is clear: If you are a criminal/druggie and you are caught, give up. If you shoot and you kill a cop, you will not have a long life and you are guaranteed to look like swiss cheese in the process.

    P.S. News organizations believe Sean LaBeet is the half brother of Ishmael LaBeet who in 1972 killed 8 people on a resort/golf course to steal $731.00 and to scream anti-white slogans. In 1985, Ishmael LaBeet was being escorted to another prison on an American Airline flight with 198 passengers. He escaped by overpowering his guards on the plane and had the pilot land the plane in Cuba. The airline was released to go back to the United States but Ishamel stayed in Cuba and remains as one of the FBI's most wanted criminals.

    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    Apple firmware update 1.1.1 causes a stir online

    Not so long ago, Steve Jobs wanted to change the world. Customer first. Profits second. Now a market leader in online music and stepping into the cellular realm, Steve Jobs has decided, along with Apple engineers, to dominate the world instead of changing it. This is what happened to the iPhone and its 'upgrade' which killed all development of third-party applications for the iPhone. It is one thing to stop phones from being unlocked, it is another to stop creativity and development of software applications. That's harsh.

    Am I the only one seeing that Apple is becoming a monopolizing figure, signing exclusive deals, forcing customers to accept their way or the highway?

    Apparently not...

    PC World, "Apple is becoming the new Microsoft, at least in the monopoly way!"
    Sunday, September 30, 2007 by MattMik

    New York Times, "Joel Robison, a systems network engineer near Seattle, said his phone stopped working immediately after he installed the upgrade. He said that when he took it to an Apple store, he was accused of having unlocked the phone (he didn't)...“Their accusation was very damaging to my opinion of Apple’s service,” Mr. Robison said.
    Saturday, September 29, 2007 by Katie Hafner

    Salon, "If you care about your rights, don't buy an iPhone"
    Friday, September 28, 2007

    ZDNet, Apple’s growth, an unwinnable iPhone war and a reputation at risk...
    Friday, September 28 2007 by Larry Dignan

    Yahoo News!, This is the equivalent of Roger Ebert slamming a Scorsese movie, or Lester Bangs trashing the Beatles. Tired of being pushed around by Apple's greed and ham-fisted approach to locking down its hardware, gadget giant Gizmodo has brought down the hammer by giving the Apple iPhone a (rare) "don't buy" rating. Ouch, that smarts.
    Saturday, September 29 2007 by Christopher Null

    As you can see, these aren't off the beaten paths news updates. New York Times, ZDNet, Yahoo!, and other outlets all portray a negative image of Apple's "kill everyone's creativity" iPhone update.

    The 'new' Apple is here. The think different, promote creativity company is now in the gutter.

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Scientists report alcohol (from any drink) increases cancer risk

    Proverbs 23:31-32: "Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper."

    I don't drink and nobody in my family does for biblical reasons. Apparently God is smarter than us and scientists just figured it out today.

    Science Daily — One of the largest individual studies of the effects of alcohol on the risk of breast cancer shows that it makes no difference whether a woman drinks wine, beer or spirits (liquor). It is the alcohol itself (ethyl alcohol) and the quantity consumed that increases breast cancer risk. In fact, the increased breast cancer risk from drinking three or more alcoholic drinks a day is similar to the increased breast cancer risk from smoking a packet of cigarettes or more a day, according to Kaiser Permanente researchers Yan Li, MD, PhD and Arthur Klatsky, MD.

    1. Science Daily
    2. Associated Press

    Final notes:
    Yes, a small amount of red wine is good for the heart. But let's complete the sentence: "Good for the heart, hurts the liver, kills the brain, increases cancer risk." Nice.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    eBay hacked? Reality check.

    Today, someone publicly posted usernames and credit card information on eBay's message boards. To some that witnessed this one and half hour series of posts, it was concerning. At face value, it looked like someone hacked eBay and they were posting the information out on the Internet. But a second look at the information creates some doubts. Here's my points:

    Reality Check
    1. The userids were correct but they are already public in the first place.

    2. eBay reports other pertinent information did not match their files (ie: names, CVV, credit cards).

    3. There are several credit card and name generators on the Internet that you can play as a game for free. Just because someone goes through this and matches it with an eBay user id, that doesn't mean eBay is hacked.

    4. eBay's statement, which California laws among others require them to tell the truth are as follows:

    "Very early this morning, a malicious fraudster posted on the Trust & Safety forum on posing as approximately 1,200 eBay users. The fraudster made these posts in a way that was intended to appear as though he logged in with their accounts. The posts contained name and contact information, which appears to be valid, and could have been secured as part of an account take over.

    The posts ALSO appeared to contain credit card information -- however, these credit cards are not associated with financial information on file for these users at eBay or PayPal. We're in the process of reaching out by phone to these members to, so that if the information is valid somehow -- regardless how this fraudster acquired the information -- these members can take the steps they need to take to protect themselves."

    5. I'm not a defender of eBay. In fact, if you type in the words 'ebay monopoly' on Google, you will find I have criticized them over their moves to restrict Google Checkout, their competition in the payments processing industry. But I can definitely say today's hysteria by some eBay users (you know who you are) and the media is annoying at best. Stop the panic and let the facts come out.

    The usernames that were listed on the forums are listed below. I got this from There's tons of screenshots and even a YouTube video of this (already pulled off).

    black*gts) 15
    chicodesma cl0ne786 classyladypainting cleary50
    clem54140 codgson
    cornflakeosu cox2000muse
    dennis491 dfd1
    doudymac dowgint
    dukesnyder9 duncangodfrey
    dvdsrcy e.w.pruvis007
    jmfoxislan (partial name)
    joannakitte (partial name)
    quentin 790

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Halo 3 release and Corporeal theme song

    Microsoft's Halo 3 is launching right now as I type up this blog post. If you don't know what Halo 3 is and you haven't played the Halo game series, then you either have been sitting under a rock or your hair color is gray. Halo 3 is called the biggest video game release in video game history, the final episode of the Halo trilogy.

    To celebrate this release, I have posted Corporeal's take on the Halo theme song during the E3 game conference. Corporeal's main star, I would say, is the up and coming Christian violinist, Hanah Stuart.

    Saturday, September 22, 2007

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy Is The New Blair

    Last year, I said former Prime Minister Tony Blair was one of the best political leaders in the world. Why? Because he stood by his principles and did what was best for Britain despite everyone else thinking he was in the wrong.

    We know that Blair's new replacement, Gordon, is not following his shoes. At the start of his term, he has already somewhat shifted some of Britain's pro-American stances. Nope...we won't find any too many similarities between Gordon and Blair.

    But surprisingly, we are seeing it in newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Unlike his predecessor, Chirac, he is openly engaging in friendly talks with America. He is moving away from the socialistic, anti-American ways of the old guard in France and moving into a capitalistic, pro-business ways of America. On the foreign policy side, he is also moving to increase French support in Afghanistan and to ally France with U.S. interests (ie: against Iran).

    Will Sarkozy be the next Blair, befriending America? Seems likely and we as Americans certainly hope so. We would like to call the French as our friends again.

    I guess the true question is, is the next president of America going to be like Bush? :)

    Spammer Trying to Trick eBay Sellers

    PowerSellers started receiving this spoof e-mail. This is not from eBay and should be ignored at all costs. Also if you are bored, someone try to trace who owns this fax number: 1-323-446-7072 (it is a California number).

    Dear eBay Member,

    Your account will be suspended under the "Abusing eBay" section of the eBay User Agreement. This section states that eBay may suspend a user's account if we think that the user is creating problems (legal or
    otherwise) or acting inconsistently with the letter or spirit of our policies.

    To have your account considered for reinstatement, please fax us both of the following:

    - Copy of your driver's license or other government issued ID with your name and address clearly visible
    - Copy of a recent credit card statement (copy of the actual credit card is not acceptable)
    - Copy of a recent bank statement
    - Copy of a recent utility bill

    All contact information listed on the documents that you submit with your appeal must be consistent with the contact information listed on your registered eBay account. If any differences exist, you must provide an explanation for these discrepancies, as well as documentation that confirms your explanation.

    If your eBay contact information is your work address, please send official documentation to validate this.

    If your fax doesn't contain this information, we won't be able to process it.

    Please fax all documentation to:

    Attention: Abusing eBay Appeals

    U.S. Fax Number: 1-323-446-7072

    Please allow 48 to 72 hours for your request for appeal to be processed. Sending us an email before that time may delay your request.

    ***Privacy Note***
    Any documents submitted to us will be destroyed after the information has been reviewed and verified. However, your full name and addressmust be legible for us to process your request.

    Thank you for your time.


    eBay Customer Support

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Remembering Frank D'Alessandro

    DIED: September 13, 2007
    (1) Accidental drowning in New Jersey while kayaking at night
    (2) He was in New Jersey to visit his ailing mother

    Frank D'Allesandro is a name that many will not forget in Southwest Florida. For 28 years, he has sold, bought, and developed commercial properties in the area. You can see his ubiquitous signs everywhere. He was very successful in marketing his name to the area, writing columns for News-Press and having his own television show on Comcast.

    While he didn't have time to get married and have kids, he was fond of kids in the community and funded several public service projects across Southwest Florida. While I never met the man, those that know him personally have always characterized him as a professional business man who had a soft spot for the community.

    I'm not sure whether he was a Christian or not, we can only hope to see him in heaven some day, but until then, let's remember him as the man that put Southwest Florida's commercial real estate on the map.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Help needed to find potential Cape Coral pedophile!

    The Cape Coral police has alerted residents of Lee County of a possible pedophile. He has been seen attempting to lure kids into this truck twice. Thankfully kids were smart enough to say no and tell their parents. See his details below.

    The man has been described as someone in his 30-40s, shoulder length blonde hair, and a camouflage hat. He was seen driving a newer, silver Dodge Ram with oversized chrome rims.

    Anyone with information on this Stranger Danger Alert is asked to contact the Cape Coral Police Department at (239) 574-3223.

    If you live in Lee County, please share this bulletin with someone so they know.

    Saturday, September 15, 2007

    Lehigh Acres crime increasing, businesses closing, and self-defense for Christians

    According to NBC-2, there has been over 700 business-related robberies and crimes in Lehigh Acres this year. Some businesses are thinking of closing down due to this violence. As I mentioned on a previous post, residents have been seeing this as a disturbing trend. Lee County commissioners need to add more funds to add more deputies and patrols in the area.

    Businesses need to take advantage of the "castle doctrine" in the state of Florida. This means if you are being robbed or someone physically attacks you, you can defend. You don't have to retreat.

    When someone pulls a gun, it will take you maybe half a minute to think and dial 911. It will take the deputies to make it there in 3-5 minutes. Depending on the amount of drugs and criminal intent the robber has, you are probably dead or hurt in 1 minute.

    How do you avoid this? Equalize the playing field. Have a protective measure in your business. That could be a dog, a gun, a taser, bullet proof glass, armor, a bat, alarm system, etc. I do not advocate an "eye for an eye" or "living by the sword", but I do advocate preservation of life and self-defense.

    Understanding Self-Defense and Christianity
    To my fellow Christian readers out there...

    Most Christians know the verse to "turn the other cheek". (Matt 5:39) But we have to balance Jesus' statement of Matt 5:39 with His statement in Luke 22:36, "He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one." Jesus told His disciples to buy swords. Why? He knew, during this period they would be persecuted and hunted down. Jesus wanted to make sure they preserved their life, especially as they move about spreading the good news. A few verses later we see Peter using his sword offensively to attack a soldier and Jesus rebukes this act.

    Why? The disciples were already told about the sacrifice and what was suppose to happen. The act of salvation was not supposed to be stopped. So Peter's offensive attack wasn't merited. It wasn't self-defense but rather an act of anger and pride.

    In short our response to violence, robberies, and thefts should also be controlled and wise not an angry act of pride. Don't shoot someone because you see them picking up one of your products. Having that type of pride could land you in jail. If you see someone pulling a knife from a distance, you have the opportunity to call for the police. But when it comes down to someone pointing a gun to your head or to your wife's or to your children's head...that's different. In those scenarios, which verse will you remember? Turn the other cheek or buy a sword?

    Apply biblical common sense and you'll know the answer.

    Friday, September 14, 2007

    Product Review (2007): Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter

    Someone at a local game store said this wouldn't be ideal if your router is over 20+ feet away, suggesting its performance is below your average wireless card.

    I took a chance anyway and I don't regret the decision. I'm getting good reception and download speeds from at least 40 feet away with walls/doors in the way of my router and my XBox. Downloading movies and hosting games is even better than my powerline ethernet connection.

    Sunday, September 09, 2007

    9/11 anniversary and new video angle

    This coming Tuesday, let's remember the folks that have died in the 9/11 disaster. This unprovoked attack is forever etched in our minds, a constant reminder that evil does exist in this world. And when there is evil, there is also hope, that God will deliver good.

    And let's count our blessings...we have not been hit with any major terrorist attack. Thank you for those that work for the safety of our country, from the troops to the intelligence analysts to yes, even President Bush, who despite all the criticisms out there lobbied against him, he has brought the fight to the Middle East and not in our home turf.

    To our troops: we owe you our freedoms, our appreciation, and our support. No matter what politicians say, no matter what the media thinks, what we know for sure, is that you have and still are, taking our bullets for us, trading your life so that ours can be comfortable here at home.

    Feel free to share this bulletin.

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Goats , Airplanes, and the Sky, What Do They Have In Common?

    I can't make this stuff up.

    There were electrical/technical problems with one of Nepal Airlines' Boeing 757 aircraft. It caused a delay in services over the past few weeks. To boost consumer confidence and fix any future problems, they sacrified a goat in front of the plane to satisfy their pagan sky god. Nice...remind me to never fly with Nepal Airlines.

    I went ahead and called Northwest Airlines/Delta, my two favorite airlines and made sure they didn't sacrifice goats to pagan gods before they fly. They said no...only cows. ;)

    For the full article, visit Reuters.

    Tuesday, September 04, 2007

    Stem cells help baby's vision

    I don't believe we should be killing babies just to harvest stem cells. That's what some researchers want to do in America. Kill babies so adults can have life (not a good trade).

    But there's also a way to get stem cells without hurting the embryo. Such was the case with this young baby who was born blind. Apparently, the mother saved the umbilical cord (they do offer this service at most hospitals). They were able to transfer the stem cells and infuse it directly into baby Cameron. His vision is now improving.

    From Sun Herald

    Stem-cell treatments already producing changes in Port Charlotte toddler, who is legally blind

    Cameron Petersen can't sit still.

    The 19-month-old Port Charlotte toddler crawls toward objects with a new sense of curiosity. His legal blindness seems to be fading with each day in China, as he explores the foreign surroundings of the room.

    "My son says he's like a little monkey," said Cameron's grandmother, Carol Petersen, who has been communicating with the family by phone.

    Earlier this month, Cameron traveled to China with his parents, Melissa VanGorp and Zachery Petersen, as part of a case study to treat his blindness with stem cells.

    Cameron was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia, a leading cause of blindness in children. The condition causes underdevelopment of the optic nerve and can lead to permanent blindness.

    Doctors told Cameron's parents nothing could be done.

    But the family never gave up hope.

    They found Stem Cells China, a research facility which has successfully infused stem cells into patients suffering from numerous disabilities and diseases.

    Family members raised about $20,000 this summer to help fund the trip to China and for the treatment.

    The procedure, which isn't available in America, transplanted harvested umbilical cord stem cells into Cameron.

    Stem cells can transform into specialized cells with specific functions, such as repair of Cameron's optic nerves.

    Treatment consisted of four total stem-cell infusions to Cameron's arm and the lumbar region of his spine. It didn't take long to notice a change.

    Carol Petersen said Cameron's energy level increased following his first treatment on Aug. 10. He also seemed healthier.

    Petersen said Cameron used to have a high temperature every other day.

    By the third treatment, Cameron was standing on his own and crawling toward objects -- something he couldn't do before. In the past, Cameron would feel objects such as his toys by putting them against his lips and face.

    "He's exploring everything," Petersen said. "I am just so overjoyed."

    Cameron is one of five children to undergo stem-cell treatment for optic nerve hypoplasia. Among those treated by Stem Cells China were a child from Missouri this summer, along with a girl from Romania. Both have shown incredible progress with vision.

    Full article here: Sunherald

    Friday, August 31, 2007

    Rising crime rate in Lehigh Acres a concern

    Alert: For an update on 2010 trends and 2009 crime statistics for Lehigh Acres, please access my newest posting.

    Some months back I've commented about the crime rates in Lee County going up. Specifically, I was shocked at the homicide incident where I used to work, near the Teleperformance / CallTech building in Fort Myers. The area used to be safe a few years back, but now it is a major crime spot.

    Lehigh Acres, the new crime center of Lee County
    Another major crime spot popping up is Lehigh Acres. Gangs have moved from the expensive Collier region and moved to Lehigh Acres. Law enforcement officials have been seeing increases in meth labs in Lehigh homes as well as increases in violent crimes.

    This month alone, we've seen gunmen shoot down, Jack Abrahamsen, an innocent 64 year old man at a Chevron gas station. The gas station is located on Lee Blvd and is the busiest road in Lehigh. Despite the fact that there were probably many witnesses to the crime, the assailants managed to escape. Also last Thursday, the sheriff's office reported a crime spree of burglaries in Lehigh. Car washes, a casino, an auto body shop, and other locations have been robbed.

    Dave Zangari, the owner of the auto body shop, said everyone is getting sick of the increased crime in Lehigh. "Look out because all us shop owners are looking out, and if we catch anybody on our property who's not supposed to be there, I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of problems, and it's not going to be good," said Zangari.

    But its not only businesses that should be careful. Even at your house, you might get robbed. On the 15th of this month, four teens were arrested for carjacking. They attacked a man right in front of his Lehigh home. The teens were: Thayer Evans, 17, Bobby Redmon, 15, Aaron Madison, 16, and Jean Desgrottes, 16.

    And that's not all...
    And just in case you thought that was it...yes there's also some weird junk going on in the area. They've found a human skull in Lehigh on 14th Street West near Lee Avenue. The skull had ceramic pots with sticks pointed out. Officials have speculated it might be some sort of ritual.

    Lehigh is growing, with a growing population and a healthy number of businesses. However, there is also a criminal culture brewing. The criminal activity isn't limited in adults either. It has spread to our teens in the area. When I look at racial demographics, a significant portion of the criminal activity in Lehigh Acres this month has been caused by African American youths. This is not hate speech, just facts. Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott also thought there are possible cultural factors involved, specifically highlighting violent rap lyrics.

    These kids will end up behind bars if they are not taught about the basic values of life. I'm sure they all know robbing or shooting someone is not acceptable in our society. But they need to believe the reason behind why we aren't suppose to hurt other individuals. Parents need to teach them the values of life, that all human beings were created in the image of God. We need to teach them that they are not animals with no purpose like what textbooks are telling them.

    As for rap music, even if we could even ban all the violent lyrics and violent video games in the world, the fact of the matter is, these youths will choose a lifestyle that they are used to. The parents need to step up and offer more choices than the life of crime. Bring them to church and have them respect life, give them hobbies and career-based interests that give them hope, and spend time with them so they respect you.

    My two cents worth...

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    WMDs from Iraq UN office?

    The CIA and the Bush administration have been labeled as liars in the past few years for their failure to retrieve any traceable amount of chemicals, nukes, or other types of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. This was the primary reason after all why Congress authorized to preemptively attack Iraq (not the fact that Saddam was a ruthless dictator killing his own people and attacking the likes of innocent countries like Kuwait).

    What I find interesting today is that the United Nations found a small quantity of Saddam's nerve gas in their own offices in New York! Someone apparently 'forgot' they were stored there. The United Nations, whose member states have been very critical of the Iraq war for our inability to find WMDs, have some very interesting questions to answer:

    1. Why do you have Saddam's nerve gas stored in your New York office? (I have been there.)

    2. If they were forgotten by previous U.N. inspectors years ago, what does that say about the United Nations' ability to do their job in documenting weapons of mass destruction?

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Should we rebuild New Orleans?

    New Orleans is surrounded by water, protected by walls that can't withstand category 5 winds.

    Presidential hopefuls have been giving promises and speeches lately. They've been promising to help rebuild New Orleans, bring home insurance rates down in the area, and restructure FEMA. These are good sound bites but we seem to be failing to address the basic question we should ask about New Orleans: should we rebuild it?

    The Danger
    New Orleans is located below the sea level. Levees and pumps are the only things protecting the city from being flooded. As we have seen in Katrina, it takes only one part of that wall damaged before you'll see entire neighborhoods being wiped out by water.

    Taxpayers Paying For Risk
    Initially they estimated that it would take $3 billion to redo the walls back to pre-Katrina levels. We've just recalculated the costs and now we're sitting around $15 billion. You and me will now pay $15 BILLION to wall up a city and there's truly no guarantee that it could withstand another Katrina. How's that for investment risk?

    As a taxpayer, I would prefer not to pay for projects right outside of disaster zones. For instance, would you build a neighborhood right outside an active volcano? You'd say, that's insane! Well that's what presidential hopefuls are asking the American people -- build right outside of a disaster zone.

    Where Should They Go?
    I understand that there are a lot of people in New Orleans that are poor and are below the poverty line. I would rather invest the $15 billion in helping those individuals get an education and job training so they can work and live outside of disaster zones and flood-zone areas.

    I understand the locals and a good number of the American people take pride in New Orleans and all of its rich, cultural and musical history. But when it comes to life and death, wouldn't our ancestors prefer their people be saved from yet another probable disaster?

    In short, yes, let's celebrate our history and the dead men that made it, but let's also make history by learning from our past and saving lives.

    FL car drivers lose Oct 1 no fault protection

    Florida's going to be losing no fault insurance by Oct 1 if state lawmakers don't act fast. There has been outspoken criticism of the no fault insurance law for over 30 years. State Farm for instance wants to remove the law so they could pass the savings to their customers. The problem though, is that it will no doubt increase court costs and would require consumers to spend more time in court just to get a claim.

    At the moment, if you were in an accident, each insurance company would be entitled to pay for their own customer. If the no fault insurance law is removed, the court must find which person was at fault through a lengthy and often expensive court case.

    Here's the winners and losers if the no fault insurance law expires without legislative action this October:

    • Lawyers would have more work.
    • Larger insurance companies could advertise lower rates.
    • Drivers that defy statistics and don't have accidents will have lower rates.

    • Doctors and outpatient clinics wouldn't be paid immediately until the court figures out which insurance company is at fault. Drivers may be denied treatment.
    • Drivers that have an accident and get injured would have to wait for the court to get compensation for loss wages and injuries.
    • Small insurance companies would effectively shutdown as their legal fees increase. Larger insurance companies would be able to gain market share, effectively reducing competition.

    Bottom Line
    There is no magic solution to the no fault law. They could perhaps reduce the no fault PIP requirement (from $10,000 to $5,000) to reduce insurance rates, but still keep the law (a compromise of both camps). Either way, this fair law, will disappear if you don't let your state legislators know your opinion.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Should the Feds save Wall Street?

    I wrote earlier about my thoughts regarding the recent drop in Wall Street. But there's been a lot of calls right now for the Feds to cut rates further and help the market from the credit crunch. But should they do it? Short answer: Yes.

    Long answer: Some have asked, should the Feds reward the speculators who did this in the first place? By giving them a lifeline, they might just do it all over again. While punishing a small group of financial companies would be fair right now, we need to recognize that there is an overall effect of this fallout that's hurting the innocent.

    The Feds must utilize their monetary policies and powers to protect the livelihoods and the economy of the American people, the majority of which had nothing to do with the speculative lending but are now affected by it.

    Or the Fed could just say, life isn't fair. Tough.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Day 5: Izmir, Ephesus

    On Day 5, we went to Izmir, Turkey. Izmir is the third most populous city of Turkey and the country's largest port after Istanbul. But compared to the port of Istanbul, Izmir is more geared towards industrial ships, so the captain of Carnival Freedom had to manually navigate this busy port.

    After we docked, we boarded the tour bus. Cruise ships usually assign a number to each group and the group boards the corresponding tour bus as seen below.

    We went to Izmir to visit Ephesus, one of the most important port cities in ancient time. It had one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis. It was destroyed by a fanatic on the same day Alexader the Great was born (356 BC). When it was rebuilt, it was again destroyed. This time by the Goths (262 AD).

    Base of Christianity
    If you are a Christian, you should definitely visit Ephesus. Paul used it as the base of his operations. In fact, he had some problems with some of the local population because he was converting people from false gods to Christianity. Local tradesmen were getting angry because they were losing their income -- nobody wanted to buy the idols of the false gods anymore.

    The Riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:23–41 NIV)
    23About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."

    28When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 29Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. 30Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

    32The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"

    35The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: "Men of Ephesus, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. 37You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today's events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it." 41After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

    John, the beloved disciple and Mary, the mother of Jesus

    Before Jesus died on the cross on Friday, rested on the Saturday (Sabbath), and rose on Sunday, He told John to take care of Mary. This is why many scholars place Mary in Ephesus, the same area where John was living and where John died.

    The hill below is the supposed burial area of John. The Turks built fortications near the church years down the road.

    More from Ephesus

    On this hot summer day, there were thousands of visitors!

    Ephesus had public pools and public restrooms. This guy was nice enough to show how it was done 2000 years ago. And no need to flush back then, there's constant running water underneath from the acquifer.

    Forget the movie theater, they had live performances in this ampitheater. Carved on a mountain, this was an incredible feat for people that didn't have jackhammers and other modernized tools. Click on the picture and take a close look how big the people are compared to the ampitheater.

    Celsus Library completed around 135 AD.

    VMware surges on IPO opening, but be careful

    Still yet to finish my vacation pictures...but couldn't resist posting this.

    Various news organizations reported that VMware's IPO has surged in stock price due to the increased demand for their software. This is an incredible feat for what seemed like a small company back in the day...

    My experience with VMware and their staff
    Several years ago, my network security team released a security advisory back in June 1999 on how to exploit the product in Linux. We found two serious security problems in its infancy. As a courtesy, we gave the manufacturer enough time to fix the bugs and stop their production line and walked them through the problems.

    I found VMware's management to be responsive, and was able to adequately resolve issues within a short amount of time. They were also friendly, and cordial on the phone. And they gave us free licenses... :-)

    Product line and questions of future growth
    I think it's safe to say that VMware dominates the current virtual machine market. Being able to run multiple operating systems and processes on one machine is a cool and practical product, but is VMware able to deliver consistent growth with one product?

    I know Google's been able to do it with advertising, and Apple's been able to do it with iPhone/iTunes. The question is, can VMware deliver? I hope so.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Wall Street thoughts

    I haven't finished my vacation pictures, but I wanted to comment on recent Wall Street issues.

    Wall Street, a few weeks back reached 14,000 points and then it suddenly fell 800 points. Why? There's a scare out there that mortgages are failing and subprime loans are going to hurt commercial lenders. While this is partly true, much of it is based on speculation. The housing market is roughly 5% of our economy and even if half the mortgaged homes of America fails, that's still 2.5% of our country's overall strength.

    Also, how does the housing market affect the likes of Google, Boeing, and other stocks? It doesn't. Yet people are selling their stocks in these good, strong companies.

    What does this mean for you? Stocks are now "discounted" from their 3 to 5 year highs. In short, this is the time to buy if you have any extra cash. Even $100.00 right now could help you down the road (ie: $10,000 in WalMart in 1975 is now worth $25 million).

    Tips in this market:

    1. Setup an account like on or etrade or other online brokerage. Many of these brokerages have no minimum balance requirement, so you could invest with a meager $100 or a solid start of $10,000.

    2. Research stocks that you know (ie: products you use). If you know it's always in high demand, and it is a long lasting product that you keep buying or using, why not invest and own the company? Quick example: who makes your toothpaste? Have you ever stopped using toothpaste?

    At any rate, buy, hold, and win for your retirement. Save the money you use for cigarretes or Harry Potter memorabilia and invest it instead for your future.

    Monday, July 30, 2007

    Day 4: Rhodes, Greece

    We arrived at Rhodes, Greece on day 4 of our European cruise with Carnival Freedom. Rhodes is situated between mainland Greece and the island country of Cyprus. And as some of you may know, it was once home to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

    The Colossus was a giant statue overseeing Rhodes’ main harbor. It was roughly 75% of the size of the Statue of Liberty, which in itself was an engineering feat back in ancient times. It took about 12 years to build, spanning from 292-280 B.C. The statue was dedicated to the Greek (false) god Helios. At 224 B.C., it was destroyed by an earthquake.

    An artist depiction of what the statue looked like can be seen below. I’ve also included a picture of what the harbor looks like now.

    A dutch artist named Heemskerck made this drawing based on ancient descriptions.

    You can see from my harbor picture why tourists flock to Rhodes, Greece. This was taken on the highest deck.

    One of the biggest attractions in Rhodes is the acropolis. The acropolis sits at an intimidating height overlooking the small town of Lindos. The first structure built on the acropolis was the Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, dated around 300 B.C. In the 14th century, it was fortified by the Knights of St John.

    So Much History…
    Rhodes is a spectacular place for historical reasons. Because of its geographical advantages, the island was an important commercial and military center of the Greek and Byzantine empires. It was repeatedly attacked by the Romans, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Ottomans, and even the Italians over the eons…and each time, Rhodes was able to rebuild itself as an important player in the Mediterranean.

    No surprise attacks here! The acropolis, on one of the highest points of the island, has an excellent view of the beautiful harbor. Defenders had the first hand against oncoming attackers.

    In the Roman period, the Apostle Paul went to Rhodes. According to the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 21, it was one of the places he stopped by while he was in Greece. While there were no other details added in the Bible on what happened with that trip, we can see the fruits of his work by the fact that the majority of the inhabitants are Christians, tracing their religious heritage all the way back to the Roman period. This is despite the fact that the Ottoman Turks ruled Rhodes for almost four centuries.

    Before Paul’s trip, Rhodes used to worship pagan false gods. This temple was the Temple of Athena Lindia, one of the oldest structures on the acropolis.

    Saturday, July 21, 2007

    Day 3: Day At Sea

    We departed from Naples, Italy and moved forward to Rhodes, Greece, which is one of the largest of the Greek Isles and home to one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World, the Colossus of Rhodes. Due to the distance between Naples and Rhodes, we had a full day of relaxation with no shore excursions. But don’t be fooled, a cruise ship at sea doesn’t mean idleness. The Freedom offers a variety of fun-filled activities while at sea. Photos below!

    Carnival Freedom chandelier Victorian Lounge

    A beautiful chandelier found at the Victorian Lounge.

    Deck 3 Carnival Freedom
    On deck 3, you can sit and relax or you can dance to the leisurely beat of romantic music. It seems to be always manned at night with an eloquent singer and instruments. During the day, someone is usually playing the piano.

    Food on a cruise ship

    On several decks, primarily on 3, 4, and 9, you can find a plethora of restaurants and cafes. I was quite happy with the fact that the ship had chocolate-covered strawberries and the internationally sought after dish called “chicken adobo” (ask for it when you get on a cruise ship, they’ll know what you mean).

    Shopping and cruising

    The ship offers a variety of shops on deck 5. If you didn’t finish your souvenir shopping in one of your shore excursions, you can purchase some souvenirs in the ship’s shops for a set amount of time.


    One of the best services on board is Carnival Freedom's European spa service. Run by a company based in London, they offer comfortable massages, a beauty salon, a gym, and other luxuries. One note of caution, if you are interested in some of the products they sell, make sure you ask for the prices ahead of time; otherwise, you are in for a surprise!

    Several swimming pools, spas, a big screen TV, and jogging areas are available for people that want fun in the sun. Just remember to put on your sun block or you’ll have to pay your dermatologist a visit in a few years regarding skin cancer.

    Every day at the Victorian Lounge, there are nightly shows and games. From song and dance to magic shows to Bingo nights…none of which really interested me. But to each his own!

    If you let the stewards clean your room, you’ll get a surprise every night after dinner. These towel animals are a favorite for everyone, especially for my eight month old.

    There are other things to do aside from what’s listed above. There are casinos, bars and clubs, but these to me are a waste of time and energy. Stick to the free food (not really free, its included in your ticket)...and go off to those excursions!

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Day 2: Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii

    Port of Naples
    As we docked into the port of Naples, we were ready for our all-day excursion that would bring us into Capri, Sorrento, and then Pompeii.

    I found the port of Naples to be very beautiful in the morning. I'm beginning to think that Carnival Freedom's captain specifically programed the ship to arrive at the early hours in the morning just so we could see this beautiful scene below as the sun's rays slowly crept up on the landscape.

    Port of Naples Italy
    Port of Naples, Italy

    Immediately after we docked, our group went directly to a jet boat that would take us to Capri. According to insiders in the area, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones were staying on the island for six days. While a lot of the cameras were looking for them and other celebs on the island, my camera was poised for another celebrity...the island's celebrated coast. Click on the thumbnail below for a bigger image.

    Capri Italy
    Island of Capri

    After Capri, we went to Sorrento for a much needed rest and lunch. This quiet community is home to many shops, delightful restaurants, friendly people, and a bunch of crazy drivers on mopeds. ;-) We went to some of the shops in Sorrento and found some amazing wood work.

    Sorrento Italy
    Sorrento Italy

    Last but not least, we went to the historical site of Pompeii, where sadly, a city has been frozen in time by a volcanic eruption. When you see Pompeii in your history books, don't under estimate its size or its people. This city was a modern marvel in its prime. I was impressed for instance with the city streets. They were "paved" with large stones and in the middle of the road were small pieces of marble. The small marble stones were used as reflectors for the residents' oil lamps at night to help guide them and to show them where the road was. Additionally, the sides of each shop had "parking lots" for horses. There were rings on the street corners to tie your horse to.

    Ruins of Pompeii

    I will be posting more pictures for this particular trip as time allows...but the pictures above should give you a taste of this particular shore excursion. You can click on each image to see a larger size.

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Day 1: Rome, the Eternal City

    Landing and Baggage Transfer to Cruise Ship
    I landed around 9:00am, Thursday, July 12, 2007 at Italy’s chief main airport, Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport. The airport is located southwest of Rome at a nearby commune of Fiumicino. After going through an immigration check where they stamp your passport, you go directly to the baggage claim area. Once you find your luggage, you’ll need to look for Carnival representatives that will take your luggage to the cruise ship. This is why it is very important that your suit cases are tagged properly, with your name, cabin number and other pertinent information.

    Airport Meeting with Carnival
    Carnival then moved all of the passengers to a meeting area in the airport, where they assign us specific buses. Most buses go directly to the ship, while you can opt to pay for a longer route, which gives you a quick glance at Rome, the Eternal City.

    My tour was run by local guides that not only knew about the area but lived there.

    Rome At A Glance
    My first visit to Rome put all the tourist books to shame. The historical richness of Rome simply will astound you. Rome at its height was the richest, the largest, and most powerful city in the known world. And while it no longer has the honor of being the center of the known universe, Rome hasn’t lost its historical and archaeological splendor.

    I’ll be uploading pictures as I get to process them. You can click on the image for a larger version. So far here are some of the pictures from Day 1:

    Narrow Streets of Rome

    Some streets of Rome are quite narrow.

    Pyramid of Cestius Rome Italy
    Cestius had his tomb built like the Egyptian pyramids. Egypt was already a subdued country. The Pyramid of Cestius strangely stands in the middle of Rome since 12 B.C.

    Arch of Constantine
    The Arch of Constantine was built as a triumphal arch around 315 AD after Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on 312 AD.

    More pictures to come for Day 1!