Happy Anniversary

J & S September 2001

 

11 years ago my world shifted.

It registered on the seismic scale.

Shannon is beautiful. Loving. Wonderful. I love her more than anything.

Happy 11th Anniversary.

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Heaven

I want to show some emotion. This song is dedicated to my girl @seerysm. I know I don’t do a good job of showing you all the feelings I have for you. This song says what I feel.

Heaven by Joan Armatrading

Came into my life
Made me think that I
Was really something
Took me by surprise
Someone with your charm
Looking my way

Am I in Heaven?
Am I in Heaven?
Am I in Heaven?
Have I gone up
Have I gone up
To the big cloud
Number Nine

Hey you
Brought me out of my shell
I don’t know how you felt
But you do it well
Started a dream
Dreaming made me see
Oh Babe
You’re so right for me!

And I wanna to be the sunshine when you’re down
I wanna be the apple of your eye
I wanna be the one you run to
Day and night

Cause I found the perfect someone who could take me in their arms and love me

A great day all the way around

Today has been a great day all the way around.

Today is Shannon’s birthday, she’s on a rare day off from work, and we just had really good news at John’s weekly doctor’s visit.

Perhaps it was a birthday present for Shannon. As I noted on an earlier post John’s platelet levels while taking prednisone steroids have shown the strongest positive reaction out of all the treatments he’s been on. On the other hand, the steroids haven’t kept his platelet levels up any better than others. In fact, as we completed the last week of his month long prednisone course last week his levels had gone all the way from 160K down a month ago to 38K last Friday.

Dosage during the last week had gone down to 5mg a day with 2.5mg administered twice a day after breakfast and dinner. Surprisingly Dr. Gowda decided to keep John at the same dosage during this past week and Shannon and I expected to see John’s platelet levels drop even further.

John actually went back up to 47K this week even though we maintained the very low 5mg dosage. This marks a first. John’s platelet levels have never gone back up on their own or without giving higher levels of drugs. Dr. Gowda summed up our feelings perfectly “this is good news.”

We can’t predict if John’s levels will stableize, continue to climb, or go back down but this gives us the first peace of hopeful news since we’ve begun.

Happy Birthday Shannon!

Tonight, we’re off with the whole clan to Rosa Mexicano in Palm Beach Garden’s – one of Shannon’s favorites (me too!)!

You Crush Me

My girl Shannon is out there in the airports tonight – delayed in Indy too late to make her connection in Atlanta so she could be home with us tonight. We’ll see her in the morning and it can’t come soon enough.

Shannon, you crush me and I miss you so much. I love you. Here’s a dedication to you and to us.

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds
Crush

Live at Radio City Music Hall

Crazy how it feels tonight
Crazy how you make it all alright love
You crush me with the things you do
I do for you anything too
Sitting smoking feeling high
In this moment it feels so right
Lovely lady
I am at your feet
God I want you so badly
I wonder this
Could tomorrow be
So wondrous as you there sleeping
Let’s go drive ’till morning comes
Watch the sunrise to fill our souls up
Drink some wine ’till we get drunk
It’s crazy I’m thinking
Just knowing that the world is round
Here I’m dancing on the ground
Am I right side up or upside down
Is this real or am I dreaming
Lovely lady
Let me drink you please
I won’t spill a drop I promise you
Lying under this spell you cast on me
Each moment
The more I love you
Crush me
Come on
It’s crazy I’m thinking
Just knowing that the world is round
Here I’m dancing on the ground
Am I right side up or upside down
Is it real or am I dreaming
Lovely lady
I will treat you sweetly
Adore you I mean you crush me
It’s times like these
When my faith I feel
And I know how I love you
Come on
Lady
It’s crazy I’m thinking
Just as long as you’re around
And here I’ll be dancing on the ground
Am I right side up or upside down
To each other we’ll be facing
By love we’ll beat back the pain we’ve found
You know
I mean to tell you all the things I’ve been thinking deep inside
My friend
With each moment the more I love you
Crush me
Come on
So much you have given love
That I would give you back again and again
Meaning I’ll hold you
And please let me always

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Salvation

Sometimes you need a little – sometimes you need a lot.

Back in January 2001 I was in Phoenix Arizona and I needed a lot. I met an angel there and we were reborn, rising up together through the ashes.  I believe that Shannon and I knew each other from another time, that we have come together again in this time, and will find each other again in the future.

To celebrate our re-connection I took Shannon to get a Tattoo of an infinity on her birthday of that same year. I got the same one – mine rides along on my strong arm – my left. Hers sits on her back. The infinity is our symbol, a representation of our knowing each other through time, of our connection, of life that does not end.

Since then we have often discussed getting a Phoenix tattoo and we have always made it a point to look for Phoenix symbols that we liked for the purpose. We’ve found many visual representations of the Phoenix that we’ve enjoyed but none that ever seemed quite right.

Friday night, May 18, 2007 we were driving over to South Beach in Miami when Shannon said…

“We should go get our Phoenix Tattoos.”

She happened to have her laptop in the car (god I love her) and she was connected to the Internet so she started looking up images of the Phoenix. The first page she brought up under a keyword search of “Phoenix Tattoo” found this one that we hadn’t seen before:

Phoenix Tattoo By 0Bsessi0N-1
We both immediately knew it was the one we had been searching for.

Where to go for the ink?

Miami Beach has no shortage of overpriced Tattoo parlors and good artists to go along with those prices. We decided we’d try Miami Ink just for fun, and as you might expect, they were very busy (with T.V. fame and all). None of the artists we’ve gotten to know from the T.V. show were present either. Most importantly the guy at the counter just had a really bad vibe. In other parlance, he was rude. It seemed obvious that to get a Tattoo here was all about being part of a T.V. show and had little to do with the experience we were enjoying. We had passed a place on the way to Miami Ink called The Mosh Pit that does tattoos. We liked the name and headed back there.

We were walking along and just one store away from The Mosh Pit when Salvation appeared – Salvation Tattoo Lounge that is. It seemed appropriate.

Needless to say we got our Phoenix Tattoos there. Sharky, a Tattoo artist for over 20 years performed the work. He’s from the Village originally and has been down in South Florida for a few years. He seemed competent and we liked him so it was off to the races.

I went first, putting the Phoenix on my right arm. Shannon followed with her vision of weaving the tail of the Phoenix into her existing infinity.

There you have it. It was a magical evening where we shared a great time on South Beach, a wonderful dinner at Perricone’s (run there don’t walk) and before that a fantastic time looking at Triumphs and Ducati motorbikes, which we’re hoping is in our near future (Ducati S2R800 specifically).

Shannon’s 10th Reunion at Colgate University

We’re in Hamilton New York this weekend for Shannon’s 10 year College reunion (Class of ’97). Hamilton is about 45 minutes from Syracuse, New York (central New York).

Two of Shannon’s best college friends are here, Shannon McIntosh-Brownstein and her husband Greg, along with her friend Kristin Butler-McCall and her husband Jonathan and son Duncan. We were fortunate to be able to attend both of their weddings and it is great to now meeet baby Duncan who is nothing short of brilliant!

We arrived yesterday afternoon and spent a good seven hours hanging out at the reunion bar-b-q! Too bad our allergies are horrible. Lots of beer as one would imagine. We took part in the Colgate Torch Light ceremony. As Freshmen one of the student’s first acts together as a group (once the parents have all gone home) is to light the torches at the top of the hill and then walk in procession down the hill and toss their torches into a bonfire. They repeat the ceremony when they graduate. Plenty of people to recognize and swap life stories with.

Today we got over to downtown Hamilton where I finally got to see the outside of the bar (The Hour Glass) where Shannon learned to tend bar when she went to school and lived here. Tonight is the main cocktail reception and dinner and tomorrow we head home. So far mostly good times.

A bar-b-q for Tax Day

The Virgin Grill April 7, 2007
The tax deadline in the U.S. usually falls on April 15th, but this year for reasons I haven’t even bothered to look up, the deadline was the 17th. We survived it once again – somehow.

In celebration of being done with our taxes we got a new Weber bar-b-q and some torches for the nasties that like to fly around and bite you (bloodsuckers).  We promptly assembled it, drinking Dos Equis Amber all the while, and got her fired up. Her name is Evelyn – the grill that is.  I had to take some pictures of the innagural event which are appearing here as a set on our Flickr account in all their glory. Featured here are the virgin grill (above) and THE MOST random picture I have ever seen (below). Shannon took a self portrait and in the background John is sprawled on the ground while I am cleaning the grill in the far background. Who the hell knows where Julia was…

Random as hell Shannon picture

Happy Anniversary

Our flowerOn this day six years ago I had the most fantastic luck and privilege to meet Shannon. Although we later married on the 27th of September in New York City we honor this day as our true anniversary. We fell in love in the midst of the Arizona sun, somewhere southwest of Phoenix, in a conference room, a bowling alley, a restaurant and some other places I won’t mention. I feel now as I did then, that we had found each other again, through different lives, in different bodies, in a different age. Shannon is the most spectacular person I could imaging being with, and I celebrate this day in my heart and rejoice at our good fortune.

I love you Shannon!

∞

Newsvine: Julian and Shannon sitting in the Greenhouse, k-i-s-s-i…

Shannon and I recently started using Newsvine.Newsvine We’ve lurked there since it went live earlier this year but now we’re taking the time to get involved.

If you’re the type that likes to listen, here you go.

Gabcast! Julians.name #2

Newsvine is a news website where users, or citizen reporters, contribute blog like posts or more traditional news stories to the Newsvine site and community. Notice that I said community – this is not a typical passive experience news site. Like Digg.com, users vote and comment on stories. The amount of votes and comments a story receives determines the overall visibility of your story. Highly popular stories make the front page – other stories never see the light of day. The user generated content is built around a complete, and non-programmed feed from the Associated Press news service. The sheer number of AP stories is really staggering – we’re used to content programmers at media outlets whittling this content down to bite-size morsels for us. I believe Newsvine also features ESPN content.

As you can imagine, the fact that you have full access to the AP wire is both a good and bad thing, but it’s clear that the purpose of the AP content is to give people fodder to have conversations around. That’s the real point of Newsvine. The action is in the conversation that takes place between the readers and author, and reader to reader. You participate in Newsvine by reading, commenting, voting on stories, and writing your own stories. You can also ‘seed’ Newsvine by publishing story excerpts from interesting web sites and stories that you read elsewhere on the net. For example, you’re reading your local online newspaper and there is an interesting story on rising crime rates. By putting a piece of that story on Newsvine others will then come to know about the story, and just like AP, or user generated stories, people ‘on the vine’ can vote your story ‘up the vine,’ and comment.

One thing that makes Newsvine so fun to use is the tools they give users to interact. There are many taken from different successful communication, web, or social media sites. You can make friends, chat, e-mail, create watch lists, and more. What’s really different though are the tools that let you track your interactions and contributions. For example, it’s really easy to return to Newsvine and check on how people reacted to a comment you made on a story. You can track authors, stories, comments, geographic regions, the list goes on. It all brings you closer to the news and the people who are writing it and reacting to it. I’m not even a big news consumer and there’s something about this service that is addictive.

The Internet marketer in Shannon and me is also fascinated by the triggers that cause people to react to content. I wrote a humorous comment on someone’s story last night and I had more votes (by far) on my comment than all the other comments. This was especially interesting to me because NO ONE in the conversation thread, the author or readers, acknowledged my comment. When you read the comments they were very much interacting and talking with each other – but not to me. Because of the Newsvine voting functionality, I learned that readers liked what I wrote, but I also found out that what I wrote did not induce a conversation. This is pretty powerful stuff for a blogger or marketer to learn, given that a major goal of both fields is to connect ideas and people and create a relationship that is relevant, engaging, and interactive.

Did I mention that it’s also just fun being part of the community? I’m enjoying the exercise of writing stories more in the voice of a reporter, vs. a blogger. The wider scope of the audience requires you to explain things in more general terms, which contrasts with a blog where you can assume readers have some interest and expertise in your subject matter to begin with. Except for general purpose blogs like Julians.name that’s aren’t about anything at all (apologies to Seinfeld).

Shannon and I are excited by the opportunity to expose a new audience to our blogs while also connecting with writers and people we might not otherwise find in the blogosphere. We have already seen some lift in traffic on our blogs from the stories we’ve posted on the vine. That was true even before we made it out of the Greenhouse which is impressive given the Greenhouse’s limited audience (more on the Greenhouse in a minute). It’s also yet another venue to increase our expertise in the emerging field of social media optimization (a useful term coined recently by Rohit Bhargava). BTW: Shan has published a couple of pieces on social media optimization, (SMO) on our online recruitment marketing blog EXCELER8ion. I originally used the term social network marketing (you’d never know I was a marketer) but fortunately Rohit’s term saved me from the most unfortunate use of the acronym SNM… Anyway, to wrap your head around SMO, think search engine optimization (SEO) type practices applied to social media like blogs, forums, wikis, Newsvine, RSS, MySpace, Flickr, etc. You can also check out the new wikipedia definition for a just-so description of SMO

Which is a perfect segue to explain our post title and the picture below. And you thought I’d never get to it. When you first start using Newsvine your stories don’t automatically appear everywhere on the vine. There’s a proving ground where you have to contribute stories, vote, comment, and otherwise interact with fellow users. People find new users by going to the Greenhouse (there’s a link on the left side navigation of the Newsvine web site). If they like your content, which includes anything you’ve written or ‘seeded’ from another news site, they vote for you. This voting, combined with all the other aspects of interaction (commenting, voting, etc.), eventually get you out of the Greenhouse and into the general community. The GreenhouseWhy didn’t they just call it the dog house? The message is clear, the more you interact and use ALL of the Newsvine features, the faster you climb the Greenhouse leaderboard and the quicker you get out. Not a bad way to teach people how to use the tools either. People on the top of the page are the closest to graduating to the general community. You’ll be shocked to learn that Shannon took this as our latest venue to compete. I started out way ahead of Shannon but within a day she was nipping at my heals in the Greenhouse, despite my head start. Very early this morning, while Shannon was sleeping, I staggered (careened even) down the halls of the vine, voting, seeding, commenting and even posting to see if I could push myself out of the Greenhouse. But, try as I might, I couldn’t get into the number one position – never mind out onto the vine. Not only that, while Shannon was sleeping, my voting for her stories inched her up a couple of spots (I’m taking full credit) so that we were right next to each other – with me on top, just as it should be. 😉 I took the screen shot shown above because I didn’t know how long it would stay that way. Good thing, because this morning when I logged in, you couldn’t find either of us in the Greenhouse. I guess this means that we’re bona fide members of the community now. It feels a little like graduating from Kindergarten and moving into grade school, sad, terrifying, and exciting all at the same time.

There’s even a revenue model thrown in for you budding authors out there. As Newsvine grows their advertiser base (something they’re still struggling with at present) you get compensated for the traffic you receive from the stories you publish on your column. I’m sure this won’t amount to much for most Newsvine contributors but you can expect some authors to make some real cash (the author receives 90% of the money from the ads that show up on their stories in their column – Newsvine gets 10%). Speaking of columns, here is Shannon’s.

Want to see Newsvine’s 60 second tour? Sure, now I tell you! Hey, you came here to read me didn’t you?

P.S. The CEO of Newsvine, Mike Davidson, has a good blog that you should check out if you’re interested in all this stuff.

P.P.S. Hey Shannon, the race is now on to increase our Vinacity. See you at the finish line.

Update Two things. First, it would be quite ironic, but now that we’re no longer in the Greenhouse, we don’t appear to be anywhere. Even areas where there wouldn’t appear to be ANY competition for our stories. Perhaps all our commenting, publishing, and voting DID get us in the dog house? Only time, and an even greater scouring of Newsvine help, will tell. Next, I had a thought for a feature. Just as we can vote on stories and comments, wouldn’t it be great if we could vote on specific written passages of a story? What a tremendous help it would be to the author to understand how their piece was received, was relevant, or which parts packed the most punch? It would be similarly useful to all Newsvine readers to see what parts of a story were considered to be of the highest import, or quality. It could work much like the Seed feature. The user would highlight the text that they wanted to vote on, or promote, and then hit a ratings or voting button. You could also place a visual indicator in the stories to show hot spots of the story. I’d call this feature ‘passages.’ There you go Mike, your next cool Newsvine feature.

Update September 5, 2006
The day after I wrote my last update my stories started making it out on the vine. Seems like it was probably just a database refresh ‘thang.’ Not only that, but I’m a ‘Featured Writer’ on the home page today and I’m also featured on the sports section.

Rosa Mexicano – Palm Beach Gardens

After Shannon and I first in Phoenix we met up in New York City and we have many wonderful memories from our trip there. So much so, that we returned to New York to get married in the same Hotel, The Royalton, that we originally stayed at.

Rosa Mexicano Palm Beach Gardens

Of course we had occasion to eat at some excellent restaurants during our stay and one of them was Rosa Mexicano, which was recommended to us by the staff at the Royalton (their tips on clubs weren’t as good). We’ve returned there for dinner during each of our return trips – no trip to NYC would be complete without a stop there which may seem odd since it’s a Mexican Restaurant.

You can imagine that we were delighted to learn that Rosa Mexicano just opened up a new location close by in Palm Beach Gardens at Downtown at the Gardens. We made our first reservation for this past Saturday, to celebrate Shannon’s new job, just a week after their grand opening here.

Needless to say, it’s still a bit tough to get a reservation (ours was for 9:30PM). We arrived and were seated right away and were treated to the same amazing food and great service that we’ve experienced in NYC. If you haven’t been, you should try their tableside prepared Guacamole – it’s top notch, and the experience of watching them make everything on the cart right next to you, definitely adds to the experience.

Don’t pass up their signature Pomegranate Margarita either – it’s excellent. We’d also highly recommend the Tequila Flights that let you try a selection of three different Tequila’s from their extensive selection. If you’re not a Tequila drinker, you either don’t like to drink, or you haven’t had good Tequila. Well, that may be overstating the case, but Shannon and I are biased. It’s one of those drinks where the bad stuff is really bad, and the good stuff is amazing. The top shelf Tequila’s are all Anejo’s (aged) and are made from 100% Blue Agave Cactus from Mexico. In any event, you’ll want to have orange slices with your Tequila (never limes) as it brings out the natural orange flavor of Tequila’s (especially the Anejo sipping Tequila’s). A nice twist that our waiter recommened is to sprinkle some chili powder on the oranges. We’d never heard of this, and we both agreed that it was an excellent addition. Not only that, but they make a version of Sangria at Rosa Mexicano called Sangrita that has a dash of chili powder in it. Amazing! Rosa often serves these as chasers with their Tequila flights.

For our entrees we enjoyed their chicken Enchiladas and Filet Mignon with mushrooms – both were excellent.

There was one disappointment – the décor. The location in NYC is authentic and intimate, the Palm Beach Gardens location is barn like, though we still enjoyed their wall of blue which is the only internal highlight. Well OK, the bar’s nice.
If you haven’t gone, make your reservation and tell them that Julio sent you.

p.s. It was an odd and pleasant experience to run into a group of our old neighbors from when we lived on Westerminter Rd, not far from El Cid, where we just moved back to in West Palm Beach. The best part is that Shannon and I had just had hair cuts earlier that day and we were both sporting radically shorter coifs. When our neighbor Bill, husband of Shannon’s friend and former co-worker Lisa, ambled up to our table we were very much amused that Bill didn’t recognize me at all! He extended his hand, a glint in his eye as he sized up Shannon’s new catch, and introduced himself to me. I just smiled, shook his hand, and said Hi Bill! Oh man, we had fun with that one.