Monday, December 28, 2009


Looking for signs of life in 2010?
(that's an EKG, btw)

You can find/follow me over at:

Follow my work at:

And, if you're a fan of fancy emoticons, symbols and art shapes, check out:

I haven't given up blogging here... just busy with blogging for work and Facebook, etc. is so much quicker/easier to update and connect with others on a personal basis.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hartford, I'm coming for you!

Yes, Hartford Insurance, I'm coming for you! No, not because of any health care issue, but a customer service issue. And, not even MY customer service issue. It's an issue with literally hundreds of your customers and your customer's customers.

Confusing, you say? Explain, you say? Here goes...

I moved to Hampton Roads, the 757 area code, in May 2007. I did not want to give up my one and only mobile number of many years from the 540 area code. However, some people still tied to landlines are hesitant to call a "long distance" number. So, in order to accommodate my new found friends, neighbors and colleagues in the 757, I obtained my own personal toll-free number.

Little did I know that the toll-free number I now "own" belonged to the elusive (and evidently non-existent) "Deb Johnson" of Hartford Insurance Workers Comp Claims. How do I know this?

Because, I have received literally hundreds of calls from doctors' offices, patients, and who-knows-else looking for help from this person.

And, yet another! Nearly 30 months later.

I've tried polite; I've tried to be proactive. I've called Hartford. I've asked everyone that called to please tell whomever gave them my number that I was NOT "Deb Johnson."

I've called back the many people who've left desperate voicemails searching for "Deb Johnson" despite my mailbox message clearly NOT by "Deb Johnson" including one from a Latino family that didn't speak English.

I've explained to people that despite NOT being "Deb Johnson," I also do NOT work for Hartford and am really sorry they have a problem that I cannot fix.

So what to do? Send Hartford a bill for services rendered? Give up on providing a toll-free, land-line way to reach me? Suggestions?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hampton Roads' Identity Crisis

I finally had the opportunity to listen to the 8/31 Hearsay with Cathy Lewis radio show on WHRV via iTunes.

Someone called in and blasted the region for the moniker “Hampton Roads” again. It prompted me to share this with Cathy and her staff via her Facebook page and her new blog and now here:

Your caller re: "Hampton Roads" prompts me to suggest a future show on Regional Awareness. The region-wide Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) aka in process now has shown that Hampton Roads has an "identity crisis" that must be addressed, nationally, state-wide and locally.

Adjectives such as cul-de-sac, branch or tidewater just aren't the right descriptors. The SWOT (Strengths/Weakness/Opportunities/Threats) analysis under way has shown us to be a gateway, mainstream, largest, first and premiere in so many ways.

The collective "we" just don't know it... yet. We have so much going for us in Hampton Roads. We should all be proud to live in this wonderful metropolitan region, and I'm looking forward to big things on the horizon.

But, perception is everything, and we, the citizens of Hampton Roads, have to recognize and celebrate our own greatness in order to share it with the rest of the world.

Did I "drink the Kool-Aid"? you betcha! and, I'm helping to make the next batch!

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's the people-driven economy, stupid!

Is social media a fad? Or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? Welcome to the World of Socialnomics ...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Glass Half Full: The Better Man

by Felix Dennis

hear the author read the poem

I was the better at getting and keeping,
You were the better at spend and spend;
I was the better at grubbing and heaping,
But who was the better man in the end?
Yes, who was the better man, my friend?

Who was the better man?

You were the better with lords and ladies,
I was the better at pillaging Troy;
You were the better at kissing the babies,
I was the better at search and destroy.
But who was the better man, old boy?
Who was the better man?

I was the better at improvisation,
You were the better at spinning the plate;
I was the better at procrastination,
You were the better at quiet debate.
But who was the better man, old mate?
Who was the better man?

You were the better at rolling a reefer,
I was the better with coke and rum;
Remember that night on the beach at Ibiza?
The Maori twins with the tattooed bum?
So who was the better man, old chum?
Who was the better man?


Now we come down to it, relatives grieving
Out in the hall with their crocodile tears;
Now that you're out of it, now that you're leaving,
Now that they've sealed your arse and your ears,
What I've been meaning to tell you for years,
And years, and years, and years, old friend...
Is that you were the better man, in the end;
You were the better man,
My friend.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Searching for crab in Hampton Roads

I'm missing my family's reunion this weekend... an all day steamed crab eating and cold beer drinking extravaganza. Anyone know where I can pick some great steamed Chesapeake Bay blue crab around Hampton Roads?

While I like Dungeness, Snow, King, etc. crab, there's just nothing like Old Bay all over some succulent steamed blue crab.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

HarborFest in Norfolk, Virginia

Bertel under "DeVine," a human-grapevine hybrid gyrating around Town Point Park!

Parade of Sail from atop Norfolk's World Trade Center:

The new Town Point Park and tall ships from the Half Moone Cruise Terminal:

Bertel and his Independence Day cupcake... his words, not mine...

and the pièce de résistance.... an outrageous dual fireworks show!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Visiting our Congressman Glenn Nye and Washington DC

Jillian, me, Bertel (Bert XI), Bert and Representative Nye at the Capitol

Jillian and Bertel in front of the Capitol

The two Berts, Bert X and Bertel XI, at the FDR Memorial

Jillian and Dad pose at DC's Newseum (my fave - the museum of the news) at the front page of The Virginian-Pilot on Saturday, June 27th.

Bert at a section of the Berlin Wall, DC's Newseum.

The Big Backyard BBQ on Pennsylvania Avenue!

Jillian and Bertel rock-climb near the Capitol.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Can you eat 36 Hot Dogs? The Black Widow can!

Bert and I enjoyed watching Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas of Alexandria compete in Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at MacArthur Center in Norfolk (blocks from our house) on Saturday, June 6th. The place was mobbed!

Thomas, 41, weighs 100 pounds and won the competition by eating 36 hot dogs in 10 minutes, earning her a spot in Nathan's Fourth of July International contest in Coney Island, N.Y. on July 4th. She crushed her 15 male competitors; second place was only 16 hot dogs eaten, a far distance behind Thomas.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bertel's Blog

I'm proud to say that my stepson (nine years old) has taken a special interest in computers, graphic design, social media, etc. He's on Twitter, started a blog and talks to his Dad and me with Skype video. What a cool kid! Way to go!

Jillian's Videos

My 12-year old stepdaughter makes very cool music videos. She could show me a thing or two! Makes me proud to see such creativity...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I've been a bit busy with several websites and creating a blog for my work at the Hampton Roads Partnership. Be sure to visit to learn more about Hampton Roads and sign up to receive the HRP e-News, too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

My honey sent me a V-gram!

Missy "hearts" Bert, too!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Things For Which I'm Thankful

... sorry, I missed "Thanksgiving." But, better late than never.

My honey, Bert, first and foremost.

My family and friends. New and old, near and far.

My job and the opportunity to work with others who truly want to make a difference in our community.

My geekness; geek is the new "cool."

My job. Did I mention this already? With the walls falling down around us, we should all be grateful to have our health and our ability to learn and adapt. Sure, budgets may not be growing like they once were -- but hey, "flat is the new up." And for all those out there whose jobs may not be secure -- rest assured, this too shall pass.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Hampton Roads really DOES have it all. PolarPlunge is for a good cause, Special Olympics. It's cold, but heart-warming. If you missed it, there's always next year...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

It's spelled N O R F O L K, but not pronounced that way

Ok, watch this to the end: here's a NY student at ODU who knows the proper pronunciation!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Avenue Q came to Hampton Roads

We missed seeing the Tony Award-winning "Avenue Q" in NYC in 2008; go figure, it was sold out! But, luckily, we got tix during their Norfolk VA show.

In a word, "Avenue Q" is AWESOME! Sesame Street for adults! Loved it!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Voting is a privilege

The Inauguration on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 of our 44th President, an African-American man, prompted this post. My prediction of many years ago has come to pass.

I've always said - since I was old enough to understand such matters, i.e. knee-high to a grasshopper - that the U.S. would have an African-American man as President before a woman. Here's why:

The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States to prevent a citizen from voting based on that citizen's race, color or previous condition of servitude (i.e., slavery). It was ratified on February 3, 1870.

The Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution prohibits each of the states and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote because of that citizen's sex. The Nineteenth Amendment was specifically intended to extend suffrage to women. It was proposed on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920.

Voting rights took another 50 years for women after our African-American neighbors; let’s hope voting FOR a woman into office as President doesn’t take that long.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Born Again American, watch, listen, read...

by Keith Carradine

Just a workin’ man without a job
It got shipped off to China via Washington, D.C.
And I know I’m nothin’ special, there are plenty more like me
Just the same
I thought I knew the rules of the game

I stood up for this country that I love
I came back from the desert to a wife and kids to feed
I’m not sayin’ Uncle Sam should give me what I need
My offer stands
I’ll pull my weight you give me half a chance

I went up to a congressman and said to him “you know
Our government is letting people down”
He said he’d need a lot of help to buck the status-quo
I said there was a bunch of us around

I’m a Born Again American, conceived in Liberty
My Bible and the Bill of Rights, my creed’s equality
I’m a Born Again American, my country ‘tis of me
And everyone who shares the dream from sea to shining sea

My brother’s welding chassis at the plant
He’s earning what our granddad did in 1948
While CEOs count bonuses behind the castle gates
How can they see
When all they care about’s the do re mi

It’s getting where there’s nowhere left to turn
Not since the crash of twenty-nine have things been so unfair
So many of our citizens are living in despair
The time has come
To reaffirm that hope’s not just for some

The promise of America’s surrendering to greed
The rule is just look out for number one
But brace yourself ‘cause some of us have sown a different seed
A harvest of the spirit has begun

I’m a Born Again American conceived in liberty
My Bible and The Bill Of Rights
My creed’s equality
A Born Again American, my country ‘tis of me
And everyone who shares the dream from sea to shining sea

It’s clear my country’s soul is on the line
She’s hungering for something that she lost along the way
The principle the framers called upon us to obey
That in this land
The people’s will must have the upper hand

I felt the calling once before and took a sacred vow
And faithful to that vow I have remained
I hear the calling once again, my country needs me now
And to her cause I have been re-ordained

I’m a Born Again American conceived in liberty
My Bible and the Bill Of Rights, all people living free
A Born Again American, my country ‘tis of me
And everyone who shares the dream
From sea to shining sea
And everyone who shares the dream
From sea to shining sea

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Air and Simple Gifts

One of my favorite moments of the Inauguration on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 was this performance. John William's new "arrangement" for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration, featuring Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill.

Mr. Perlman has appeared in Hampton Roads many times with the Virginia Symphony, and we've had the pleasure of enjoying his music.

Saturday, January 03, 2009