Italian Vacation Diary: Chapter 2 – Venice

After we disembarked the plane, it was time to enter Italy through customs. We waited in a very long line with a lot of smelly sweaty people. When it came time for our turn with the customs officer, he either didn’t speak English or didn’t feel like talking because he said nothing. After a mumble, grunt, and a stamp, we were cleared to enter the country. Next we headed for the water bus and taxi area. The signs were both in English and Italian, but they still proved difficult to follow. We found a water bus to take us to the main island, bought tickets and 27 Euros later, we got in line. I’m not sure how many people the boat we were on was legally allowed to carry, but I feel like the passengers, crew, and luggage would have been over the weight limit. I was one of the last people aboard because I’m polite and let everyone go in front of me. They told me to sit on some wooden area that was clearly not a seat while everyone else got a padded area. I thought that it wouldn’t be that bad since it’s a short boat ride. I was wrong about that. Between not being able to see much and my lack of seat, the boat trip seemed to take hours. In actuality it was about 30 to 45 minutes.

We arrived near the Rialto Bridge bus station and started to drag our luggage through the small streets and over the hundreds of bridges. The first place we saw we stopped at to have a drink and some food. We had cappuccino and pizza at Gran Caffe aila citti di Torino. This was my first taste of Italian espresso and I was pleasantly surprised how good it was for not being a coffee drinker. Next we began searching for our airBnB which we had trouble getting to because of a lack of navigation or phone usage. Along the way we stopped at a TIM store to get local SIM cards for our phones. Because I’m addicted to the internet I decided that I should buy a one month data plan from a local provider. This turned out to be a great decision as I used over 25GB of data in two weeks and it only cost me 35 Euros. This is where we first got to experience Paul’s understanding of the Italian language. He translated what we wanted to the TIM clerk and we didn’t have any problems. The only downside was our phones weren’t active for another 30 minutes so we still could not use them to get around the city.

Eventually we found the area we were supposed to meet the host for the place we were staying. They were a really nice married couple who spoke pretty good English. They led us through the winding streets back some hidden alleys and we popped out at the place. It was a nice three bedroom second floor apartment with great views of the waterways. We all claimed our bedrooms and started to unpack. Later we headed out on the town to get dinner. We ended up at Dolfini restaurant which was basically empty. Being traveling Americans we had not yet adjusted our eating schedule so we were the restaurant’s first customers for dinner that day. I again payed close attention to Paul’s conversation with the wait staff as I was putting my Italian lessons of the past few months to work. We started with bread and some wine. I ordered gnocchi which has always been one of my favorite Italian dishes. It was dressed in a white alfredo-sque sauce. I ate it all very quickly and remember how delicious it was and how much better it tasted than any previous gnocchi I’ve had. Mike decided to be adventurous and order squid ink pasta. Basically pasta with black sauce all over it. By the end of the meal it had looked like he ate a couple bricks of charcoal; he had black teeth and tongue for a few hours after that. On the way back to our place we stopped at had some gelato, which became a staple for us on our trip. I opted for strawberry and cream flavor that was so buttery and flavorful I can still taste it.

1st Italian Cappuccino

Picture 1 of 4

By this point most of us were tired, but I was determined to stay up to a normal bed time. I found a nice loveseat that I could lay on with my feet dangling off the end and started to browse social media on my phone. The next thing I know I hear a loud bell ringing noise. Not the sound of a phone ringing or church bells, this was clearly a doorbell. I sprung up off the couch, now noticing it was darker than when I last remembered, ran to the door and tried to determine if anyone was there. I eventually unlocked and opened the door to find nothing there. I then heard the ringing bell again and it was definitely intended to be a doorbell. I was still confused on what day is was and what happened, but clearly I fell asleep for some time. Shortly thereafter Stephanie emerged from the bathroom after a fresh shower. It seemed she was trying to find a light and she pulled a string that triggered the doorbell. This was meant as an emergency alert system if you fell or needed help in the bath tub. Lesson learned and mystery solved. After that excitement we went to bed shortly have the sun had set.


< Read Chapter 1                                                                                                Read Chapter 3 >

Beard Blog Movie Review: American Made (2017)

The sky is never the limit

Tom Cruise plays a real life pilot in American Made who helps the CIA and Medellín drug cartel deliver goods across borders. Cruise decided to adopt an obviously fake Louisiana accent which goes a long way to making this movie somewhat annoying.

The fact that this is a true story is this films only saving grace.

Tom Cruise the pilot again

Barry Seal randomly gets recruited by the CIA and ends up living the lavish life with more cash than he knows what to do with. Throughout the whole movie, Seal gets in and out trouble almost too quickly. The whole film feels rushed just to get the end result which is you can see coming from a mile.

The true story factor kept this entertaining enough to finish. When the final scene cut and the credits rolled I was relieved to know that American Made was over.

Who should watch this movie? Fans of the Netflix series Narcos, Tom Cruise fans, and people that like movies about planes

Who shouldn’t watch this movie? Fans of popcorn movies, someone expecting another Top Gun, and the person wanting to be wowed by Cruise’s acting prowess.


5.5 / 10 – The fact that this is a true story is this films only saving grace.

See more of my movie reviews here

Read on for spoilers Continue reading “Beard Blog Movie Review: American Made (2017)”

Don’t want nude photos from strangers?

Apparently some people have been sending naughty photos to nearby people using Apple’s AirDrop. While amusing, this could be startling to most people or down right perverted to minors.

Washington Post’s article about changing AirDrop.

To change your AirDrop settings, head into the Control Center — the menu that appears when you swipe up from the bottom of your screen. Just look for “AirDrop,” and it should tell you what your settings are. Tap the icon to turn off receiving completely, or you can choose to receive files from just your contacts or from everyone. (Those using Apple’s iOS 11 in beta can change these settings from the “General” menu of the settings app or by using 3D Touch on the Control Center panel that includes the switches for airplane mode and WiFi.)

Beard Blog Burrito Battle

Now normally I blog about technology, for those who actually read, but today I’m going to talk about something almost as near and dear to my heart… Food! Everyone eats food and like most Americans, I love food. This idea is something I’ve been working on for a few years after falling in love with the fast-casual Mexican food restaurants. These restaurants have been around for a while, but now they are really mainstream. Nowadays Chipotle is to food as Starbucks is to coffee. First, I’m going to list all the restaurants I’ve eaten at, in alphabetical order for simplicity, then rank them as best as I can. Read on for more!

Continue reading “Beard Blog Burrito Battle”

iPad Pro mini review

It’s huge, bigger than you expect. Just like when I switched to the iPhone 6 Plus, the size becomes normal after a few hours of use. I have yet to get the Keyboard or Pencil yet due to supply constraints. Other than that, it’s fast and the benchmarks tell me it’s faster than my two year old MacBook Pro. I have yet to see this but time will tell. The future for the iPad Pro looks bright, I’m just waiting to see the light. 

What all is new in iOS 9

Here’s a good guide to what you can now do in iOS 9.

Read it. Learn it. Love it.

CurrentC May Not Launch Until 2016…

…according to this re/code article.

 “CurrentC — backed by several dozen big merchants including Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Exxon — is designed to work on all types of smartphones and let shoppers pay with the app instead of a physical payment card or cash. But while Apple Pay and soon-to-launch services Android Pay and Samsung Pay let users pay using account information from traditional credit cards like Visa, MasterCard and Amex, CurrentC does not.”

Apple Pay is almost at the one-year mark and has been spreading like wildfire.

CurrentC’s option is less secure, harder to setup, and more complicated to use.

This keeps getting pushed back and back, when will they give up?

The Beard Blog Launch


Today I launch the opinion editorial blog entitled “The Beard Blog”.


No, it’s not about beards, well kind of – my last name is Beard and I do in fact have a beard, so you be the judge.


I like to write about technology, photography, current events, and anything else that’s hip.