I have a question.

Regularly when I interact with strangers they comment on my obviously Italian last name. It almost always comes from a fellow Italian and usually takes its form as some sort of positive association occasionally with Italian language thrown in.

“An Italian! Molto Bene!”
“Ahhh, your name ends in a vowel. That’s always a good thing.”
“DiDonato! Excellent name!”

Really, these are pretty odd statements. I always presumed that they were just a form of small talk focusing on a shared characteristic. But recently I wondered: do other cultural names illicit the same kind of responses? If you’re last name is Muller do Germans on the street applaud your shared heritage? How about French with Archambault or Irish with O’Sullivan?

Any experience on this matter from the readership?

A rose by any other name is still a noun

My sister is expecting another child! Woo! Congrats Sis!

In light of the thoughts of another tiny person in our extended family, Jen and I were playing a name game on a recent long car drive connecting names with parts of speech.

It started simply enough: go back and forth naming different names that were nouns or homophones for nouns: Rose, Sander, Ray, Grace, Skye, Mason, Penny

Then? Verbs or homophones for verbs:
Chase, Peter, Bill, Mark, Josh, Chuck

BUT! The real excitement came when we started looking for names that are also ADVERBS or homophones for verbs.
Reminder: an adverb describes a verb, like the words quickly or sneakily.

After two hours or so I came up with one such name. Can you think of it (or others?)

Puzzle Solutions!

A huge thanks to those of you who participated in the Guess the Itinerary games. Here are the results with all hints explained:

Cologne, Germany
Hint 1: Cologne in Germany is Koln with an umlaut
Hint 2: Movement 4 of Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony was inspired by the cathedral in Cologne
Hint 3: Paco Rabanne – a fashion designer famous for men’s cologne

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hint 1: Red and Green symbolize the red light district and the legal use of marijuana in Amsterdam.
Hint 2: Amsterdam uses an emblem with great frequency that demonstrates protection from Fire, flood, and Plague
Hint 3: A dutch colonial

Bruges, Belgium
Hint 1: Colin Farrel was in a movie called In Bruges
Hint 2: This giant drum is a music box that plays the bells in the Belfry tower in Bruges
Hint 3: Bruges is building a beer pipeline.

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Hint 1: “The inventor of the saxophone without his instrument.” This refers to Adolphe Sax. If you remove the word sax you get “Adolphe” which is the iconic bridge of Luxembourg
Hint 2: Luxembourg City has some of the longest underground fortifications in the world. These are referred to as Casemates.
Hint 3: it’s the Toyota HiLux. Hi Luxembourg!

Metz, France
Hint 1: like Babies and Oranges: Navel – Nave. 41.41m is the height of St. Stephen’s cathedral’s Nave. It is one of the tallest naves in the world.
Hint 2: Wright plays for the Mets. Mets… Metz…
Hint 3: This was the worst hint in the world. It’s a waveform from the band Metz – but I can’t think of anyway that someone could convert this into music. Especially at this resolution.

Thanks again to all the players, and a special thumbs up to Sander’s efforts on the last puzzle. It was so thorough I was almost convinced that I had remembered my trip incorrectly.

Final edition: Where in the World is Mike DiDonato?

Guess my itinerary! Final Edition!

Destination 1: Dusseldorf
Destination 2: Cologne (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 3: Amsterdam (guessed by Patrick and Shamus)
Destination 4: Bruges, Belgium (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 5: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 6: _______

Hint 1:
like oranges and babies bellies

Hint 2:
YouTube Preview Image

Hint 3:

Where in the world is Mike DiDonato?

Guess my itinerary!

Destination 1: Dusseldorf
Destination 2: Cologne (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 3: Amsterdam (guessed by Patrick and Shamus)
Destination 4: Bruges, Belgium (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 5: __________

Hint 1:
The inventor of the saxophone without his insturment

Hint 2:
YouTube Preview Image

Hint 3:

BRUGES in terrible pictures.

The next stop on our Europe 2015 trip was Bruges, Belgium. Although Bruges is the capital of West Flanders, Belgium it feels like less of a city and more like the perfect quaint touristy destination. It’s also amazingly picturesque. It’s no surprise that I really don’t have many bad pictures from our time here.

We only spent two nights in Bruges. And really, that was just about enough. There isn’t tons to do. There’s an amazing tower with a super-amazing music box style bell ringing system. But that’s about it.

The streets are cobble stones and cuteness accented with adorable canals. That this following picture was one of the worst pictures from the trip is quite telling.


Then we have this terrible shot from a train:


But really, that’s it. Every other picture was wonderful. In a week or so I’ll post all the awesome pictures from the trip. Bruges will have plenty of highlights in that post.

Where in the World is Mike DiDonato?

Guess my itinerary!

Destination 1: Dusseldorf
Destination 2: Cologne (guessed by Patrick)
Destination 3: Amsterdam (guessed by Patrick and Shamus)
Destination 4: _________

Hint 1:
Colin Farrell

Hint 2:

Hint 3:

AMSTERDAM in bad pictures

Disclaimer: here at we prefer the comedy of showcasing the worst pictures from our vacation picture collection

For Jen and my trip to Amsterdam we’d planned a wealth of activities including:
The Ballet (mentioned in this previous post)
The Anne Frank House
The Rijksmuseum
A walking tour
Canal exploration

After Jen arrived to meet me in Dusseldorf we took a quick train to Amsterdam. This first picture is of a shoe hanging off the storage rack. It looks like a dismembered leg.


On our first night we strolled out from our hotel to explore. Not far from our hotel in front of the Rijksmuseum is the famous I Amsterdam sign. It was too crowded in front, so we took a picture of the back. If you look carefully, you’ll see that I’m standing with arms wide in front of the letter e. This picture is bad.


For our first morning in the Netherlands we visited the Anne Frank House. As expected, it was solemn but most certainly a must for any visit to Amsterdam. The museum warrants a far more serious post than this website can offer.

Our walking tour was amazing and took us all over the city. One of my favorite portions of the trip was explanation of the thin house fronts and classic dutch architecture. At night? The bridges over the canals of Amsterdam were lit beautifully.


I have no idea what this picture is, but I think it’s a night canal.

Overall, Amsterdam was just okay. It’s a bustling city and doesn’t quite have the charm that we were looking for in our vacation. I think it’d be a perfect destination for a 22 year old looking for vacation in a busy city environment.

Also, there were a weird number of Dachshunds.