Friday, December 31, 2010

Tops in 2010 and Predictions for 2011

With five hours til Snookie rings in the New Year for all of us, I've compiled the Best of 2010 and my predictions will be in 2011.

Best Film: Inception
In 2011: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Best Album: Vampire Weekend's Contra
In 2001: No Doubt's Sixth studio Album (TBA)

Best new restaurant for me: Belmont's The String Bean
In 2011: Gastonia, 's Nick's Prime Rib Restaurant & Bar

Best new Bar & Beer: Charlotte's Taco Mac & Allagash Black
In 2011: Belmont's Johnny B's & The Thirsty Monk First Release's

Best Management Book: The Way We're Working Isn't Working
In 2011: Breaking Away

Most inspiring amateur athlete: Chilean miner Edison Pena
In 2011: Western 100 miler Chad Silker - blog at

Best song: Bruno Mars Just the Way You Are
In 2011: Red Hot Chili Pepper's first single in May

Best website:
In 2011:

Best Notre Dame Game: ND vs. Miami, December 31st
In 2011: ND vs. Ohio State, National Championship (technically in 2012)


Harrison Smith pulls in the fourth interception of the game during the second quarter of the Hyundai Sun Bowl matchup between the University of Miami and Notre Dame in El Paso, Texas on Friday, Dec. 31, 2010.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions - They Go in One Year and Out the Other

He who breaks a resolution is a weakling;
He who makes one is a fool.
~F.M. Knowles

Well Mr. Knowles, call me a fool, because once I again I'm making my resolutions for the New Year. Here are some tips on how to make those resolutions and, more importantly, how to keep them. Plus, I'll give you a step by step guide using an example.

1. Have a plan. Visualize what you want your end goal to look like and work backwards. Set incremental steps so that you can see success along the way.

For example, one of my resolutions is to train and compete in an open water triathlon by July. The end goal this summer is to qualify for the Kona Ironman in Hawai'i. No wait, it's to survive.

My backwards steps would include training to swim twice a week in fresh water by June, running three 5k's by May, joining open bike rides in town by April, registering for the event by March, competing in the Y Indoor Triathlon in February, and buying some speedos in January.

2. Make your resolutions public. Have others keep you accountable for your goals. It adds commitment and keeps you motivated. Plus, they can give you a hard time if you start to drift away.


3. Find a buddy who has similar goals. This again creates more accountability. No one will give you a hard time if you sleep in on the weekends if your only training partner is yourself. Plus, it's more fun, socially healthy, and slightly competitive.

My run buddy will be Kathleen D'Avria, bike buddy will be Jeremy Eastburn, and swim buddy will be Lee Wells. Check.

4. Keep your focus to no more than three goals.  This way, you can laser in your efforts and realize that you have other responsibilities out there, not just completing some to do list. Also, some other results come out of meeting your goals. I'm sure to lose weight while training a triathlon, so trimming down does not have to be a resolution in and of itself for me.

5. Know your limits. I could train for an Ironman Triathlon - if I spent the next three years doing nothing but eating, breathing, and sleeping fitness. However, I realize that 1.) I am not what you consider a naturally "gifted athlete" 2.) I wouldn't have time to blog (and spend time with my family) and 3.) I would die.

6. Reward yourself. Pat yourself on your back when you complete each step. You deserve a little something. My reward for completing everything:  Tickets to the Notre Dame/Michigan State game September 17th.

My other two resolutions for 2011:
- Eat dinner with my family at least five times per week, three out of four weeks per month. No blackberry's allowed at the table.
- Get to step four in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.

So go public, leave your comments here for your 2011 resolution. And good luck.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To sellout or not? That is the question

"Sell out with me, oh yeah. Sell out, with me tonight. The record company's gonna give me lots of money and every thing's gonna be all right."  -- Reel Big Fish

Most passionate, yet successful artists hit a defining moment in their career, deciding if they should compromise their integrity and passion for a few dollars in their pocket.

For example, Winston Churchill approached a nice looking woman back in 1943:

Churchill: Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?
Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course…
Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
Churchill: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.

Like Churchill's future wife and just about every other human being, we all have a price. Timing, patience, and the amount of risk we're willing to take are some variables before selling out.

Here's some sellouts of note:

In 1995,  the Rolling Stones sold their souls to Microsoft, negotiating their hit song Start Me Up with the Windows 95 Operating System commercials for $14 million.

Rap icon and social pioneer Flavor Flav hosted VH1's Flavor of Love, plus starred in reality shows, the Surreal Life & Flavor of Love.

In 1992, Wayne Campbell refused to sell out his public access television show, Wayne's World. However, he famously endorsed Pizza Hut, Reebok, Pepsi, and Nuprin (little yellow, different) in the meantime.


In 2008, Anheuser-Busch sold their largest American beer maker to Belgian Brewer for 52 billion dollars after a measly 148 years of existence.

On the other hand, here's some famous non-sellouts (yet):

In 2006, Yahoo offered $1 billion to Mark Zuckerberg for his little start up named Facebook. The 22 year old Harvard dropout politely declined. His 13 million members has grown to 500 million. Result: 2010 Man of the Year.

Dr. Seuss turned down just about every offer to market his work outside of his books while he was alive. Result: he died and now we get Mike Myers playing the Cat in the Hat.

Earlier this month, Groupon turned down a $5 billion takeover by Google. Result: Everyone has a price.

"No more flipping burgers, putting on that silly hat. You know I don't want that no more."

So after four days and three posted blogs, I patiently built my blogging empire before a request came my way. Sell my creative energies to Google Adsense. AdSense is an ad serving application run by Google Inc. Website owners can enroll in this program to enable text, image, and video advertisements on their websites and blogs. If you haven't noticed, my blog is now covered with advertisements for Netflix, Conan O'Brien, and NORAD's Santa Tracker.

Result: $1.21. 

For every 1,000 visitors, my account gets $3.43. If someone clicks an ad, I may get a dime more (yet no one has nor should on my behalf). At this rate, I will earn $1 million by December 31st, 3598 AD. Even worse, I can't offend my advertisers or I'll lose them to Plus, I have to keep entertaining you, my reader, or I lose my precious audience.

"so I signed on to the record company, they said they're gonna give me lots of money, if I play what they want you to hear. Tell me it's cool, and I sure believe it..."

Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Ease Back Into Work After Vacation |

Good morning and welcome back to work. Each Monday, this blog will post my favorite work-related link to get you started on your week. Since many of us have been vacationing a few days, I thought this was appropriate.

Enjoy your day.

Click here:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oscar Watch, Part 1

It's that time of the year when quality films hit the theater, many vying to be nominated for an Oscar on January 25th. Though most still cost $10 to see, there are a few available at the Redbox or already on Instant Netflix worth checking out this week.

Ree is a no nonsense teen whose meth cooking father hasn't been home in a few weeks. She is hard pressed to get answers as to his whereabouts, especially when she discovers she, her mother and two younger siblings will lose the house if her deadbeat dad doesn't make his court appearance, having put down their house up for bail.

Why the Academy will nominate it:
Character driven, led by the breakout teen Jennifer Lawrence.
Set in a depressed area, somewhere in the Missouri Ozarks.
The script, with lines like "I got two kids can't feed themselves, yet. My momma's sick and she's always gonna be sick. Soon the laws are coming to take our house and throw us out in the fields like dogs…."

Possible nomination categories: Best film, Best adapted screenplay, Best actress (Jennifer Lawrence)

Exit Through the Gift Shop

In a trip to London, the French L.A.-resident Guetta stumbled into the street art movement and ended up compiling hundreds of hours of footage of various artists making illegal art on city streets and buildings all over the world. Guetta managed to track down Banksy, the mysterious artist known for the work he created on the Palestinian West Bank wall, among many other controversial works of art. What Banksy did was take over the film, turning the camera on Guetta, and the result is a complex and moving history of the evolution of street art. Or is the whole film just an elaborate hoax?

Why the Academy will nominate it:
It's three films in one - the story of street art, the search for Banksy, and the rise of Guetta.
Banksy is the most gripping character no one knows.
It's an LA documentary for an LA Awarads show

Definite nomination category: Best documentary

The Kid's are All Right

Two teenage siblings conceived by artificial insemination get the notion to seek out their birth father and introduce him into the family life with their two mothers (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore). Once the donor is found, the family ties are defined, re-defined, and re-re-defined.

Why the academy will nominate it:
Stunning ensemble cast, especially the two lead actresses.
The plot searches for more meaning to the debate of nature versus nurture.
The non-traditional family dynamics look and feel credible.

Definite nomination categories: Best film and Best actress (for both Bening and Moore)
Possible nomination categories: Best supporting actor (Mark Ruffalo) and Best original screenplay

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Little Christmas Trivia

Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas and God bless from the D'Avria family. By now, many of you are in Christmas recovery mode - Church services have ended, wrapping paper's been cleaned from the floor, assembly has been required, and group text messages of well wishers have been sent and received.

Now it's time to impress your in-laws at the dinner table. Kick back and enjoy a little Christmas trivia.

Today the Greater Charlotte area is calling for 2-5 inches of snow. Their last two white Christmases - 1947 and 1880.

19 out of 20 Americans celebrate Christmas, including 80% of non-Christians.

"A Christmas Story" takes place in either 1939 or 1940 in the fictional Northern Indiana town of Hohman, Indiana.

The NORAD Santa tracker began December 24, 1955. It made its Internet debut in 1997.

The weekend before Christmas are the two busiest days for shopping, not Black Friday.

In "It's a Wonderful Life," Clarence says Harry's brother died at age 9, but the tombstone says 1911-1919. While we're on that subject, why would there be a cemetary where Bailey Park would be built? Did Harry move the bodies?  I regress . . . .

PNC Wealth Management, estimates the cost of "The 12 Days of Christmas" gifts topped $23,439 in 2010. That’s a $1,974 increase from last year’s Christmas Price Index.

German and British front line soldiers sang Christmas carols, exchanged gifts, and played soccer during a World War I Christmas truce. Don't believe me? Try:

Good news: the average person only gains one pound during the holiday season. Bad news: most people never lose it.

And the final trivia question: Which Christmas song is played on the radio the most often?

The first person to comment correctly below gets to be guest interviewed on this blog soon.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2010

RIP, Marco the Elf

Marco, the Elf
November 28, 2010 - December 24, 2010

Marco the Elf was born at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at Northlake Mall in Charlotte, NC. He was adopted by Nicholas D'Avria.

The household learned his official duty was to report his owner's behavior every night to Santa. In the morning, he would be found in a new location of the house.

Marco also had two Gremlin-like rules:

He could not be touched, or he would lose his Christmas magic
He could not talk, only listen.

Originally named Marker since this was the red writing utensil Nicholas saw when he was asked to pick his name, he was swayed to change it after learning the other elves may rib him back at the workshop. His first morning, Marco perched atop the fireplace mantle, proud of his job.

As time went by, Marco became goofy or complacent. Some mornings he would be found in the Christmas tree or bopping out of the laundry detergent box. Other times, he lay inside a closet with the door shut, allowing his owner to do whatever he wanted without recourse. At times, it wasn't til 3 in the morning when he left to turn in his daily briefing to the Big Man.

Then things got creepy. It started when Marco was found on top of his owner's alarm clock, peering at him while he slept. Another morning, he was upside down, his arms wrapped around a Bacardi bottle. The last straw came when he was found atop the soap tray in his owner's parents' shower.

Marco's death is still under investigation, but it is rumored that his owner's parents "accidentally" knocked him off the shelf into the hungry mouths of two eager dogs.

A short service will be held December 26th in the D'Avria backyard. Marco's hat, his only item remaining item, will be buried. Buddy the Elf will officiate and a celebration of his life will follow on New Year's Eve. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.

Marco the Elf, at a house party with his owner, date unknown

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You Get a Car, and You Get a Car . . .

In the spirit of all things Oprah this year, I present to you My Favorite Things. Everyone in this room where I'm writing this from will get their very own, if they do not have it already. Merry Christmas.

Livestrong App: My number one tool for (trying to) stay fit and maintain a healthy weight. From the mega-brand brought to you by Lance Armstrong, Livestrong has the largest catalogue for food journaling and a comprehensive list of fitness items to log in. Enter your food and exercise for the day and Livestrong notes at the top the calories remaining for you to still lose a pound a week (or whatever goal you want).

@ineedabandaid on Twitter: My three year old's daily musings. All kid's say the darndest things and my son is not any more clever or witty, but why not archive his thoughts about trains and mermaids, even if no one follows him? Some of the latest include: " I can't kiss your burned finger because my mouth will catch on fire" and "snow only comes out at night time." Get this kid a blog.

Keurig Coffee Maker: The one cup coffee maker is so simple, a three year old can brew for you (and yes, I just let him make this cup next to me). No mess, a wide array of flavors in every box, and little waste. We've owned one for almost 18 hours now and I dare say this is the future of beverage making.

Cut throat racquetball: The resurgance of the sport made most popular in the 80's has hit America again. Well, maybe just the nighborhood, where a car load tries to hit the Y many Saturday mornings. In a game where your teammate becomes your opponent, loyalty and sportsmanship is nowhere to be found. Wear goggles.

Rhapsody: It has been one year and 363 days since I started my quest for completing the task of listening to the Top 1,001 Albums Before I Die. At this point, I've heard 690 of them, almost all through Rhapsody music service. Who needs to own their own music anymore in this age of disposable digital media? Plus, I can listen to Ke$ha or Bel Biv Devoe without any paper trail.

Pisgah Brewing: Tucked away in the hollows of Black Mountain, NC, Pisgah Brewing takes all the rules of business beer making and throws them out the window. Made from all organic ingredients, Pisgah's brews range from high gravity Belgians to nitro infused stouts. Even though they do not distribute outside of Asheville, restaurant staff in Charlotte will make the 3 hour round trip twice a month to pick up their beers. Plus, hanging with the tap room's eclectic patrons and their pets are worth the stop off of I-40.

Apple TV: The box that does everything except fold my clothes. For $79 and an hdmi cord, your television is converted into a Netflix theater, Internet radio system, YouTube player, Redbox, and photo album. No monthly service cost and a three button remote makes it user friendly the Apple way.

Ellie: My final and most important favorite new thing of 2010. In the words of Joseph Addison, "Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Fine Print

Of all entertainment mediums, reading is the one I could never give up (and maybe TIVO). According to a Washington Post study, 25% of Amercians do not read a single book in a given year. Therefor, I will present to you a few highlights or comments of 11 "important" books I've read from my trusty Kindle this year, plus a simple letter grade.

"Open" by Andre Agassi - The tennis phenom hated tennis, his father, and life itself - until he met Steffi Graf and sweet mullet wigs.   A

"Dracula" by Bram Stoker - Similar to True Blood - the vampires cannot enter a house without getting permission by the owner. Different than True Blood - everything else.    B-

"Toy Box Leadership" by Ron Hunter & Michaell Waddell - Everything you needed to know about leadership by playing with green army men, legos, Play-doh, Mr. Potato Head, and a Lite Brite. Actually teaching a seminar on these concepts in the Spring.    B+

"The Help" by Kathyrn Stockett - The story of the maids of a small Mississippi town in the 1960's.  Probably many folk's book of the year and I probably would have enjoyed it more if it didn't take me four months to finish.    B

"How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like" by Paul Bloom - or otherwise known as - why I don't get abstract art and other people do.    C+

"The Bad Guys Won: A season of brawling, bimbo chasing, and championship baseball" by Jeff Pearlman - the inside story of my all time favorite team - the 1986 New York Mets. As much as this could have ruined my image of my heroes, it actually just fueled the flames as to how awesome there were - fights, groupies, and all.   A+

"The Social Network" by Aaron Sorkin - Nope, I did not see the movie because I read this instead. Apparently this is one case where the film is better than the book.    C-

"The Way We Work Isn't Working" by Tony Schwartz - Work productivity and success is all dependent on our "fitness" of energy levels throughout the day and night. Since I started this energy project plan two months ago, my work stress level is considerably lower, my time away from work is more relaxing, and life is all good.    A

"Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson - A man's mission to bring peace to Pakistan one school at a time. Inspiring and uplifting- If I read this in college, I could have been sleeping on a dirt floor educating the youth in Africa somewhere.    A-

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson. Yawwwwwwwn, I heard if you make it past the first 60 pages, you'll love it. I didn't make it past the first 30.    D

"Decision Points" by George W. Bush - #43's memoir, which I do admit I'm only 250 pages into so far. Interesting concept to organize each chapter  based on a leadership decision in his presidency.  Like him or hate him, Presidential autobiographies are fascinating.   A-

Don't agree or have a better book this year? You're probably right. Except if you liked "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Membership Has Its Privileges?

This evening my family, along with my brother and sister-in-law, visited the Stowe Botanical Gardens Christmas lights. I thought, for $12 a person, this better be awe inspiring. Well, I was so impressed that not only did I feel it was worth the money, we left with an annual membership pass.

Wait, what did I get myself into? A membership pass?! All willpower was lost tonight. The nostalgic feelings of Christmas joy, the smile on my son's face, mixed with these what if's hit me:

What if I come here during my lunch break with a sack lunch, book, and truly relax?
What if the family has picnics after church as the leaves are changing colors?
What if I take my bike for the six mile trek, hike a few miles through the trails, refuel with a sports drink, and feel like I got some good outdoor exercise?
What if we take some educational horticultural classes or couples photography sessions?

Okay, I get it. I probably will not do any of those things. It's like when my wife got pregnant right after getting Carowinds Amusement Park tickets - membership (or rollercoaster) priveleges down the drain. Did I just get duped into spending three times the amount I planned to tonight? Will we even go back once?

Since I work for a membership organization, I vow to use the same stategies to make our membership worth it.

Step 1: Strike while the fire's hot
While still excited about the possibilities, I'll read up about everything the membership has to offer. Sign up for classes now, locate where free reciprocal visits are available in other areas we may visit, mark on the calendar special events, rinse, repeat til exhausted.

Step 2: Coordinate a hobby with the membership
Combine my interests in running, reading, or biking into this locale. Go out with my son to hunt for treasures via geocaching. Maybe even learn something about plants so I can impress my father in law with my botanical smarts.

Step 3: Connect with others
Invite friends or family members to explore the options. Make some new connections there. Set appointments where you have some accountability for being there.

Step 4: Set a goal and reward yourself
Goal number 1: Attend the class - Planning & Building a Weedless Vegetable Garden January 22.


Top 5 Shows of 2010

As 2010 comes to a close, I put together my end of the year lists of best in entertainment- films, television, albums, books, etc. Considering no new TV shows should begin in the next 12 days, I'll begin with this medium.

This year's determination of best television came through one concept - how fast I would watch this after recording it on our DVR. Some shows sat on there for weeks before I got around to them. These top five did not:

5.) The Inbetweeners (BBC America): Following the lives of four 17 year old Brits, it's like the humor of American Pie minus the Americans. Episodes on their road trips and holidays are clearly the best and very inappropriate. The British humor mixed in with irreverant laugh out loud high school situations that will not be found on an American airwaves. Plus, it remind me of my overseas buddies from camp. The 3rd and final season is currently being shown in Britain and a film is in the works. In the fashion of the terrible Coupling or the Office, an American pilot will be shot soon.

4.) Tosh.o (Comedy Central): This past June when I was traveling, I woke up to a buddy laughing way too loud at 7 in the morning. It was my first introduction to Daniel Tosh and his hysterical Soup-like web rehashes of the week. As funny as Tosh's inappropriate apathetic comments are, the best parts are his web redemptions. These are opportunites for people whose lives are forever ingrained in You Tube to explain themselves and allow us a second opinion. The best include the "I like turtles" kid, Britney Spears uber-fan Chris Crocker, and the guy who got stuck in the elevator for 41 hours. New episodes return January 11.

3.) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX): This is starting to seem like my maturity is decreasing as the years increase. Anyway, it's impossible not to put Sunny on this list. The Christmas episode from last week is a classic gem, probably the best "very special Christmas "episode since Al Bundy's version of "It's a Wonderful Life." Danny DeVito's is at his finest and  Mac, Dee, Charlie, and Dennis are as mean, egotitistical, and superficial as Kramer, George, Elaine, and Jerry always wanted to be.

2.) Dexter (Showtime): Why did someone not tie me down and make me watch Dexter years ago? Best new entertainment for me of the year (yes,  I only got into Dexter a few months ago-I'm sorry). The writing and character depth is second to none; how do they do so well at making you want to care so much about a serial killer? The season one finale knocked me off my feet and I can't even wait to see what's in store with a baby on the cover of season three DVDs. If you have not seen Dexter, add it to your Netlix Instant queue today.

1.) LOST (ABC): Say what you want about the finale, LOST may be the best television series of all time. Religion, mythology, philosophy, dark comedy, mystery, and a little romance merged pefectly together. Plus the conversation with friends between episodes made for some thought provoking insomnia induced debate. The anticipation of the final season did not disappoint whatsoever and neither did the finale, in my opinion. Another series you need watch on Instant Netflix - twice.

Biggest disappointments this season: The Event, The Office, My Boys, 30 Rock

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