Archive for the ‘About Obie’ Category

A Week in Tuscany… Put It on Your Bucket List

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
Cinque Terra

Cinque Terra, Manarola from the Water

Our group, actually 22 people, recently spent a week in Tuscany. It was well beyond, and very different from, my expectations and I would recommend it to anyone. What you will find is lush rolling hills, a temperate climate, interesting hill towns, culture and fine art… and of course great food and wine.

Tuscany is a product or it’s history and civilizations. The Apennine culture dominated the late second millennium BC, followed by the Villanovan culture (1100–700 BC). Tuscany, and the rest of Etruria, was then dominated by City-states before the Etruscan civilization rose in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. Then came the Romans in the first century AD followed by the medieval period. Tuscany (Florence) is often referred to as the birthplace of the Renaissance. I didn’t realize how many people died in the “black death” which started in 1348, 50% of the population overall and up to 75% in some cities.

We spent about two weeks in Italy but “the group” all stayed at Villa Ponte in Bettolle for 7 days (previously called Il Casale Del Marchese or La Bandita). The villa dates back to the 18th century but has been beautifully restored and the manager/chef, Gian Luca, is a hoot. While at the villa we did day trips on our own, mostly by car.

Below is the list of towns and places visited:

Cinque Terra:
Actually 5 towns on the Italian Riviera, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. It’s a fairy tale land with multicolored houses built on the steep hills and terraced gardens. Take the (underground) train and the ferry. Be prepared for lots of walking up and down the steps.


1929 Mercedes

1929 Mercedes SSK in the Mille Miglia

A very quaint walled city. We just happened to be there on the day that the 1000 Miglia, passed through town. The Mille Miglia started in 1927 as an open road endurance race and is now limited to cars made before 1957. I lost count at 100 vintage racing cars.

Castello Banfi and Banfi Wines:
A very large vineyard and winery producing 12 million bottles per year… olive oil. We had a tour then a great lunch in the restored castle.

Yet another quaint hill town/commune famous for the Brunello di Montalcino wine made from the sangiovese grosso grapes grown within the commune.


Siena Cathedral

The Romanesque-Gothic Siena Cathedral

Spend some time people watching in the Palazzo Pubblico where the Palio horse race is held twice a year. The Romanesque-Gothic Siena Cathedral is a must see as well as the home of Saint Catherine of Siena, one of the two patron saints of Italy.


Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio on the Arno River; Get out Your Wallet

What can you say about Florenza?….Santa Maria del Fiore, The David, Uffizi Gallery, Piazza della Repubblica….the cradle of the Renaissance. And of course Ponte Vecchio, the Medieval bridge over the Arno river, now home to jewelers, art dealers and souvenir shops.

Bagni San Filippo:
Hot springs, a great surprise and change of pace. We “sort of” stumbled on hot springs that were a bit of a hike back into the woods and with few other people there. There was a series of rustic pools people had damned up going down the hill with the top pool at the source about 96 degrees F.

A hill town/commune with beautiful panoramic views. The town was originally called Corsignano, the birthplace of Aeneas Silvius Picolomini who later became Pope Pius II and entirely rebuilt it as an ideal renaissance town.


Bridge To Civita

Don’t take the bridge to Civita if you are afraid of Heights

A very interesting hill town, less restored then the others because it was isolated for years after the original land bridge collapsed. You can still see Etruscan caves in the area. I got vertigo for the first time in my life while walking up the bridge.

Another interesting hill town perched on vertical cliff faces with a subterranean city of caves and tunnels one can tour. The Duomo, the Orvieto Cathedral, is striped in travertine and basalt.

Other cities people in our group visited included Rome, Venice, Pisa, Cortona, Bologna and Milan.

RO 6-14

Glorious Insults

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Insults used to be an art form… before the English language got boiled down to all those unfortunate 4-letter words. Here are a selection of some of the better known insults from the better known insulters…


The He Said – She Said exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor:

  • She said, “If you were my husband I’d give you poison.”
  • He said, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.”


“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend… if you have one.” – George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

  • “Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one..” – Winston Churchill, in response.


“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill


“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr


“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).


“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde


 “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends..” – Oscar Wilde


 “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain


“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?” – Mark Twain


 “I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.” – Irvin S. Cobb


 “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” – Clarence Darrow


 “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas


 “I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” – Stephen Bishop


 “He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright


 “He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.” – Samuel Johnson


 “He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up..” – Paul Keating


 “In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” – Charles, Count Talleyrand


 “He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” – Forrest Tucker


 “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West


 “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)


 “He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” – Billy Wilder


 A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.”

  • “That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress..”


 “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx



 And if you have managed to read this far… a couple more recent ones:


 ”The problem with being better than you is that you think I’m arrogant” – Alex Obenauf


 “While intelligence can be mistaken for arrogance, your lack of intelligence can never be mistaken” – Obie




Chili – Obie’s Special Recipe

Monday, February 25th, 2013

My special chili recipe. I like it nice and hot!

My special Chili recipe

My special chili recipe


Start with 2 lbs ground beef (or 1.5lb beef, 0.5lb pork)

Brown in small amount of oil with crushed garlic and 4Tbs chili powder, salt & ground pepper


To the beef, add:

  • 2-3 large cans of crushed Tomatoes(or two crushed and one whole, cut in pieces)
  • 2 cans dark kidney beans
  • 2 cans light kidney beans or chick peas
  • 2 onions, cut in lengthwise slices or rings
  • 3 bell peppers cut in lengthwise slices
  • 1 green, 1 red and 1 orange for color
  • 3 Tbs chili powder
  • Oregano, salt, 2tsp sugar, pinch ground cloves


Now for the heat… to your taste:

  • 3-4 large Jalapeño peppers
  • Tabasco, cumin and/or your favorite hot sauce
  • 1-2 habanero peppers, chopped but be careful
  • spices and peppers are to your taste


Simmer all together for at least one hour, preferably two.

I like it Cincinnati style. Obie’s Chili on a bed of angel hair pasta with cheese on top and sour cream on top of that and chopped onions on top of that and… get the idea


Paraprosdokians….Obie’s Favorites

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Paraprosdokian: A figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, frequently humorous.

Paraprosdokian was a legendary Greek hero. A handsome warrior, his exploits, feats and conquests surpass one’s imagination.


  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  • I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  • Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  • The problem with being better than everyone is that people think you’re arrogant.
  • Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
  • A fine is a tax for doing wrong…..A tax is a fine for doing well.
  • If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea… does that mean that
 one enjoys it?
  • Two guys walked into a bar. The third one ducked.
  • Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.
  • To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  • Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be and it never was.
  • I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
  • Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
  • We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  • Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
  • A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
  • I thought I wanted a career, it turns out I just wanted paychecks.
  • Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put ‘A DOCTOR.’
  • Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
  • A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
  • I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
  • Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
  • War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
  • The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
  • You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  • Going to church doesn’t make you religious any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.
  • I always take life with a grain of salt. Adding a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila helps too.
  • When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
  • Sometimes people ask me, “ What would you do if you had a million dollars?” My answer is always the same three words: All-Pistachio Diet.
  • Pain is fear leaving the body
  • Blowing out another’s candle will not make yours shine brighter.
  • I refuse to engage in an intellectual battle with an unarmed man.
  • Some days you’re the dog, and some days you’re the hydrant.
  • Eat shit! 1,000,000,000,000 flies can’t be wrong.
  • The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.
  • The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
  • If you step in a puddle, don’t blame the puddle.
  • How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
  • Some people are like Slinkys … not really good for anything, but you can’t help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.
  • Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
  • Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars but check when you say the paint is wet?
  • Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?
  • Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.
  • A bus is a vehicle that goes twice as fast when you’re after it as when you’re in it.
  • If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple
of payments.
  • A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that
you don’t need it.
  • The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas.
  • I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a
  • Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if
you wish they were.
  • Knowledge is power, and power corrupts. So study hard and be evil.
  • You are such a good friend that if we were on a sinking ship together
and there was only one life jacket… I’d miss you heaps and think
of you often.
  • I’m so miserable without you, it’s almost like
you’re still here.
  • If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people
have more than one child.
  • The car stopped on a dime, which unfortunately was in a pedestrian’s pocket.
  • Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
  • Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, you will be a mile away and he won’t have any shoes.



Check out our webinar on “The Making and Chemistry of Wine!

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The production of wine has been an art form and a business for thousands of years. Join SPEX CertiPrep as we discuss the vintner’s art, from wine production to the chemistry of wine. Our presentation includes not only the various steps in the actual production of wine from crushing the grapes to bottling the wine, but also a discussion of the different chemical aspects of wine from flavor profile agents to contamination and spoilage agents. We invite you to take part in our interesting and informative look at the art and science of wine!



You can view other webinars from SPEX CertiPrep on their YouTube Channel

Download the slides from the SPEX CertiPrep website

For more information on SPEX CertiPrep’s Wine and Pesticide Certified Reference Materials, visit  To learn about the Geno/Grinder, visit

Obie’s Favorite Quotes & Lyrics (Updated!)

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011


Favorite Quotes

“…a chimney where all winter long, the logs give back the wild bird’s song.” A Hoe-Man’s Thanksgiving, Edwin Markham


“Whatever Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.” Friedrich Neitzche


“To whom much is given, much is required.” John F. Kennedy


“God comes to the hungry in the form of food.” Mahatma Gandhi


“They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them. “ Mahatma Gandhi


“The journey is the reward.” Tao Saying


“If you don’t fail now and again, it’s a sign you’re playing it safe. If you don’t fail now and again, it’s a sign you aren’t aiming high enough.” Woody Allen


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.


“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of living.” – Alexandre Dumas – “The Count of Monte Cristo”


“We boil at different degrees.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.


“Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another” H. L.Mencken.


“Guests and fish start to stink after two days.” Spanish Proverb.


“Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it is cowardice.” George Jackson.


“A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this Earth” Ronald Regan “A time for choosing”


“He was at his best when the going was good.” Alistair Cooke on the Duke of Windsor


“There but for the grace of God — goes God.” Winston Churchill


“You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing—after they have tried everything else.” —Winston Churchill


“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” —Groucho Marx


“If I could say a few words, I’d be a better public speaker.” —Homer Simpson


“I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long.” —Mitch Hedberg


“The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” —-Jon Hammond


“I sleep eight hours a day and at least ten at night.” —Bill Hicks


“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.” — Henry J. Tillman


“A fool and his money are soon elected.” — Will Rogers


“Ohio claims they are due a president as they haven’t had one since Taft. Look at the United States, they have not had one since Lincoln.” — Will Rogers???


Favorite Lyrics

“Bury the hatchet, but leave the handle stickin’ out.” Garth Brooks, “We Bury The Hatchet”


“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”  Dire Straits, “The Bug”


“Savor the throne, but don’t mind the stool.” Steve Winwood, “Take It As It Comes”


“Every pleasure’s got an edge of pain, pay for your ticket and don’t complain.” Bob Dylan, “Silvio”


“The ones that you’re calling wild are going to be the leaders in a little while.” Johnny Cash, “What Is Truth”


“When the grass is cut, the snakes will show.” Jay-Z, “Blueprint 2”


“The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath.” Led Zeppelin, “The Battle Of Evermore”


“Free your mind and your ass will follow.” Funkadelic, “Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts”


“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”


“Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.” U2, “GRACE”


“It’s hard to remember we’re alive for the last time.”  Modest Mouse, “Lives”


“An honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind.” John Mellencamp, “Minutes To Memories”


“If you follow every dream, you might get lost.” Neil Young, “The Painter”


“The best you can is good enough.” Radiohead, “Optimistic”


“No, it’s not love, but it’s not bad.” Merle Haggard, “It’s Not Love”


“If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plan.”  Help somebody if you can


“I make money but I still feel broke.”  The Clarks – Fast moving Cars.


“What kinda gone?”  Chris Cragle


Are you interested in wine, wine making, or the chemistry of wine?  If so, check out the recording of a webinar I presented.

More ageless, mostly conservative, wit and observations…

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

“….a chimney where all winter long, the logs give back the wild bird song.”  – From “The Hoe-Man’s Thanksgiving” by Edwin Markham, 1852-1940

You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails. -Yiddish proverb

The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks .  – Yiddish Proverb

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth. – Yiddish proverb

Don’t be so humble – you are not that great. – Golda Meir (1898-1978) to a visiting diplomat

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. – Albert Einstein….was he talking about government?

Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them. – Albert Einstein

Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein

I don’t want to become immortal through my work. I want to become Immortal through not dying.  – Woody Allen

”You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.”

“What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.”

“The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.”

“When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.”

“You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

There is great need for a sarcasm font.

Just how are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

Was learning cursive really necessary? …or spelling?

Map Quest really needs to start their directions on Rt 80 as I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

Bad decisions make good stories.

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after BlueRay? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.

I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Darn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What do people do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?

I hate leaving my house feeling confident and looking really good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day, what a waste!

I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid High Crime Area” routing option.

Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

Then again sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I now have no idea what the heck is going on when the first time I saw it I understood it.

I would rather try to carry 10 grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries from the car into the house.

The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text, change my shoes or read a map.

Sometimes I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

How many times do you suppose it is OK to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear, understand or you just weren’t paying attention to a word someome just said?

I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in to your lane. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

Is it just me or do teenagers get dumber & dumber every year?

There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going down after leaning your chair back just a tad too far.

Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket or purse, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet my ass everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, pitch black, first time, every time!

Have you ever waited and waited to hear the weather forecast, then when it finally comes you don’t pay attention and still don’t know what the weather will do tomorrow?

I swear the cars at the front of a line of cars waiting for the light to change wait so that that not all the cars can get through the light. Yes that’s me at the end of the line.

Obie’s Laws

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Some borrowed and some new

  1. Work hard but play harder.  The rule of life that keeps one sane
  2. Don’t eat where you sleep. A rule of the road that makes you see new, different things
  3. On any trip reserve some time for yourself.  Again, this lets you see/experience new things of interest to you
  4. Don’t give away your luck.  If you win something or come by a windfall make use of it or reserve some of the winnings to invest in future chance
  5. Hot glass looks almost the same as cold glass.  This comes from my glass blowing days and will save pain
  6. Always look for what is missing in a situation, product or happening.  Those are the hard things to find, sort of like “omission versus commission”
  7. If something cannot go on forever it will stop.  Adapted from economist Herbert Stein, St. Pete Times 11/24/05 and has broad applicability
  8. Don’t count sunk costs.   From a marketing finance course but much broader: make decisions only on future potential from future investment of time/labor/cost, not based on past (sunk) investment
  9. Never wish away your life, enjoy every minute.  Sometimes you are bored or do not like a situation, but some day you will wish you had it back
  10. When estimating use the “pi factor”.   3.141 times or divided by what you expect in the direction less favorable to you and you will not be disappointed
  11.  If someone is nice to you but not nice to the waiter or cab driver…. they are not nice.  This is always true
  12. If you do something on time and at cost but it is not any good, no one will care about the cost or time.  However if your “something” exceeds expectations and works, no one will care if it is a bit late and somewhat over cost
  13.  If you do not fail or mess up sometimes, then you are not trying, doing or stretching far enough