2015 in Review

WordPress recently sent me an annual report for my blog. Here are some of the highlights:

These were my five most viewed posts of the year. Interestingly, almost all of them are over two years old, so I either have writing with staying power–or my most recent writing leaves something to be desired. 🙂

  1. Gettin’ My Shining On at Congress Hall
  2. Dear Heidi
  3. My Trip to Peru, August 2012
  4. Dubrovnik: A Tour of King’s Landing (and other locations)
  5. The Inca Trail Day 4: Arrival at Machu Picchu (My Trip to Peru, Part 7)

I posted 61 new articles in 2015, the majority of which were posted between June and July. Hardly any articles were posted between January and May–lingering winter blues, perhaps? It may also be because I was busy during that time period trying to finalize my novel for publication. In any event, I’ll try to be more consistent this year.

Well, that’s it for 2015. Thank you to all of my loyal readers and I hope you have a happy New Year!

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100 Followers . . . and a Facebook Page

My blog just passed the 100-follower milestone this week, which is pretty amazing to me. I never expected anyone outside of a few family members to read any of my posts–and I even have trouble getting them to follow me. 🙂

This blog has come a long way from the single follower it had back in December, and I am grateful to everyone who has visited. My previous efforts at writing blogs usually began with a burst of output that slowly trickled down to the occasional post before finally becoming the internet version of a ghost town. This time, however, your readership has motivated me to continue producing content. It really does make a difference when you know that your writing is finding an audience, and I have all of you to thank for that.

But more than getting my own writing out there, I’ve also discovered some awesome blogs that I now follow and I have enjoyed interacting with bloggers in the community who share my interests. It has been a great experience.

To celebrate my milestone, I’ve decided to heed the advice of some of my fellow bloggers on how to build my audience by creating a Facebook page as a supplement to this blog. I resisted having a Facebook page for the longest time, but I figure the time has come to give it a go. In addition to showcasing my own posts, this page will enable me to spotlight posts of interest from my fellow bloggers, and I also plan to share other relevant items that may not be right for the main blog, as well as additional photos related to my travel posts.

If you’d like to follow me on Facebook, you can do so by clicking the ‘like’ button in the right column, or you can check out the page at https://www.facebook.com/michaelanthonyrappa.

Thank you once again for your readership!

Looking Back…

I wrote this four years ago.  You may think it naive but, for many reasons, my belief in its spirit was renewed last night.  Or, to quote another Beatle, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Beautiful Day

I wake up on November 5th, 2008
And look out the window.
Dark clouds loom overhead
But my eyes see a bright blue sky.

I open my front door
And walk into the morning.
A chilly rain beats down
But my skin basks in the glow of a blazing sun.

In the words of Harrison:
It’s been a long cold lonely winter
But here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right.

Is this possible?
Can we as a people change
A bitter frost
Into a warm summer breeze?

Yes we can.

Random Thoughts

In lieu of a new article, here’s a compilation of my sports-related thoughts from this past weekend…

Saturday at 7:07pm
Wanted: Closer. Location: Philadelphia. Job Description: Get people out. Must be willing to travel.

Sunday at 12:01pm
I’m ready for some football!

Sunday at 2:45pm
Can’t ask for a much better first half. Stupid penalties at the beginning, but they more than overcame that. The defense was awesome!

Sunday sometime after 3pm
It’s so nice to see McNabb running again . . . oh no!!!

Sunday at 4:22pm
Today’s game ball goes to Sean McDermott. He answered any questions about the defense without Jim Johnson in a HUGE way.

Sunday at 4:38pm
Fractured ribs! How quickly euphoria can turn to despair. Anybody who watched the offense today with Kolb at the helm better hope that McNabb can return sooner rather than later . . . and I don’t even want to think about having to root for a Vick-led football team. With all apologies to Westbrook (who I love), McNabb is the most irreplaceable player on this team.

Sunday at 5:11pm
It sure looked like an unflagged late hit that caused the injury. McNabb was clearly on the ground and the TD was already called, but the #92 a-hole kept coming and pounced on him. Freakin’ Carolina. They did the same thing to him in the championship game a few years back: pounced on him with a late hit and knocked him out of the game. I hope this one gets fined at least. So much for protecting the quarterbacks.

Sunday at 8:26pm
I’m glad the Phillies won today, but nearly another blown save! What’s Mitch Williams doing these days?

Sunday at 11:10pm
A month ago Pedro was pretty much an afterthought . . . not anymore.

Monday at 8:15pm
I like the Garcia signing. He’s a veteran and knows the offense. If McNabb is going to be out for the next two games, which is highly probable, I’d much rather have Garcia in there than Kolb or Vick, though unfortunately Kolb will still be starting this week. Here’s hoping he proves me wrong.

Tuesday at 9:30am
Good first week for my fantasy team, The Untouchables: 162.5 points, thanks mostly to Brees and the Eagles defense/special teams, who combined for about 90 of those points. Good first week for me in the pick’em pool as well: I went 13-3; could have been even better if I had gone with the Jets as I had been tempted to do.

Tuesday at 2:56pm
So Andrews is done for the season. It doesn’t look like this guy is ever going to live up to his talent. Apparently, at least one medical doctor thinks he may never play again. Justice played well this week, but it’s time to bring back Runyan.

On Vick and the Eagles

Damn you, Andy Reid. Damn you, Jeff Lurie. Damn you both for putting me in the position of rooting for a team with a dog murderer on it. Let me make this clear: I don’t want Vick on my team. As a dog owner, I abhor him and the horrific things he did. Anyone who gets off on torturing helpless animals has something wrong upstairs. What Vick did was the behavior of a sociopath, plain and simple.

I would be all for second chances, even for a thug like Vick, if I truly believed he was remorseful. However, I don’t think he regrets what he did; I think he just regrets getting caught. I don’t see how the Eagles can justify signing Vick after firing T.O. because of his character. Reid always talks about having character guys but I guess his standards have significantly lowered. As much of an a-hole as T.O. is, he has never been a criminal like Vick. And as others have pointed out, if they’re so big on second chances, why not rehire Dan Leone, the handicapped employee who had the audacity to criticize the Eagles on facebook for not resigning Brian Dawkins?

And I won’t even get into why I thought this signing made no football sense, that’s for another article.

That being said, I am going to watch and root for the Eagles this Sunday. A lot of people have said they will never watch another game, and a lot of people from other towns have said that if their team had signed Vick, they would have stopped rooting for them. Well, that’s easy to say when you’re not actually faced with the situation, and even easier to say if you live in a city with multiple teams to switch your allegiance to. It’s also easy to say if you were only a casual fan of the team to begin with. But for those of us who have bled Eagle green our entire lives, it’s not such an easy thing to abandon the team you love and grew up with. And Eagles fans are not alone in this: nobody in New York stopped rooting for the Knicks when they signed Latrell Sprewell after he tried to strangle his previous coach to death, and nobody in Philly stopped rooting for the Phillies when Brett Myers beat his wife.

Why? Because the team is bigger than any single person. You can hate certain members of the organization all you want, but in the end, when it comes down to game day, they’re still your team. You’re not going to suddenly start rooting for the Cowboys. The Eagles are bigger than Vick or Reid or Lurie. This football team was around long before those guys got here, and it will be around long after they’re gone. For me, the Eagles are Jaworski, Montgomery, and Bergey. They are Cunningham, Quick, and White. They are McNabb, Westbrook, and Dawkins. These are the players I have rooted for my whole life. I have never rooted for the coach or the owner, so there’s no reason I can’t continue to follow my football team in spite of my disgust with Eagles management.

Does that mean that all is forgiven? Hell no. I don’t think I will be approaching this season with the same gung-ho enthusiasm that I have in the past. Maybe the disgust will wear off at some point, but it will take time. I definitely will NOT cheer when Vick takes the field. Does that mean I will boo if he makes a big play? I can’t honestly say, but if I had my wish, he would never set foot on the football field in the regular season. When Vick is on the field, do you hope he gets sacked even if it means the Eagles lose? Once again, damn you Reid and Lurie for putting me in this position.

I won’t go to the games this season and I won’t buy merchandise, but I will watch on TV. Some of you may say that still puts money in Vick’s pocket, and while the Eagles do get revenue from television broadcasts, it is a deal in which all NFL teams share equally, so anyone who watches ANY football game on television is technically putting money into Vick’s pocket. But I’m not here to argue about the nuances of NFL finances. I’m just here to declare that the Eagles are still my football team, and I intend to continue rooting for them to win on Sunday afternoons. I’m going to root for McNabb and Westbrook and Cole and Jackson and everyone else on the team who deserves my loyalty.

If you are among those who will never watch a game again, I respect your feelings. I just ask that you respect mine as well.