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Bing.com: Making Great Travel Decisions With Dhani Jones

Last Wednesday, I made the trip into New York City to attend an event sponsored by Bing.com.  Bing had as their special guest Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Dhani Jones.  Dhani has pretty much seen it all when it comes to travel, and he has partnered with Bing Travel to provide his tips, recommendations and personal stories on traveling the world.  Go to www.bing.com/travel for video interviews and personal photo slideshows from Dhani’s travel, as well as more recommendations and his “Wish List” for future destinations.

Dhani Jones – NFL superstar, author of “The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from an Around-the-World Sports Odyssey” and former host of the Travel Channel’s “Dhani Tackles the Globe” – is not your average linebacker. Sure, he stands 6 foot 1 and weighs 235 pounds, but when he’s not on the field with the Cincinnati Bengals he is folding himself into an airplane seat and flying to wherever his abundance of curiosity takes him. Dhani began traveling at an early age with his parents; his father was in the military based in Southeast Asia, and they took family trips to Kenya, Thailand and Bermuda, among other places. It instilled a sense of wanderlust in Dhani that continues today.

Bing’s purpose was to let people know they could use Bing to find anything they needed when it comes to travel.  From choosing a destination to securing a hotel.  When it comes to travel, Bing will provide you information you need to answer any question to make your next vacation or day trip the most enjoyable.

One’s Past is Motivation For A Future

I wrote this last night when I came back from the Bing.com event.  It took a lot for me to get it out and put it here.  I usually hold back and do not share thoughts like this.  But with what is going on in the economy, I know others feel the same.  Others wish they could change professions but lack the means or experience to do so.  Many do it for free in the hopes to one day be paid.  That is my case.  Determination and motivation propel me to never quit at what I set my mind to.  My goal is for someone to see what I am able to and takes a chance to make me a part of their team, and get paid:

Good evening all.  I just got in from the Bing.com sponsored event with Dhani Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals.  I will have more of a write up soon.  I have a lot of thoughts going through my head as I left the event and on the way home.

I enjoy attending these events.  It gets me out there amongst those I get to network with and show my creative side.  A side of myself that has been neglected for so many years.  A side of myself that is true to who I am and the path I should have chosen years ago to follow.  Now this could be the six Jack Daniels and Diet Cokes in me but then again, it could also be the  true voice I have kept inside for too long.

I always enjoy attending these events.  This is the second one I have attended from Bing.com.  I enjoy writing for FootballReportersOnline.com and ProFootballNYC.com.  I enjoy filming my documentary and the places it has taken me.  I enjoy doing the radio show on Tuesdays for Football Reporters Online that focuses on NYC football and other football topics.  But in my case, I seem to enjoy doing the things I do not get paid for more than the things I do.

Here I sit, a part time worker in the retail industry.  A casualty of the economy as I was one in the financial services field.  I was not happy.  In high school, I made many small films as extra credit in almost every class I was in.  I liked to write and be creative.  I had such a cloud over my head I could not see the path I should have gone down in front of me.  Today , at age 36, I am trying to change careers in a down economy and attempt to make a living and get noticed on what I love to do.

Tonight at the Bing event, I realized a few things that made me feel proud and disappointed at the same time.  Here I sit, trying to make something of myself with a checked past.  I network, overhearing everyone talk about their positions at People magazine, Sunshine Sachs, Bing.com, American Airlines, and other notable fields.  I inform those I am conversing with I am a sports blogger and documentary filmmaker.  I may not be being paid for it, but it is what I consider myself.  If I could be paid for what I do, I would be a happier person.  It always makes me feel a little down when I hear others talk about their profession when I know they get paid for what they do while I strive to get noticed to get paid for what I love to do.

Now my resume may not look the best or have detailed experience on what I want to do for a living.  That does not mean I am not determined to learn and strive to achieve my goals to make it in the field I want to earn a living from.  I am a fast learner.  I can tell those I networked with tonight are younger than me and made the right decisions to get to where they are now.  I dd not.  I am making up for past mistakes.  I may not have the right internship of job experience, but I have heart and determination and some do not look upon that as enough.

Tonight’s focus was about how to use Bing.com for your travel purposes.  I heard many talking about their recent trips to Paris, Thailand, Barbados, and a few other destinations.  Some did it for work.  I am frustrated I am stuck where I am.  In an economy where the job market is horrible.  A job market where you have to know the right people and bypass certain resume readers just to be considered for some positions.

I can not change my past.  I can only learn from it and take the right steps now on where I want to be in the near future.  I enjoy writing, filming, and marketing via social media.  I may not have major experience behind me or the right educational background, but that does not mean I should be overlooked.  I know I am not old, it just feels that no matter how hard I try it seems like a tough hill to climb to get to where I want to be with my checkered past.  I can not go back and change anything, but I can work my hardest now to make things right for the future.

Tonight made me realize where I want to be.  It is not an easy road for me to get there.  But it is attainable.  I would like to get back to a position with a salary.  Where I can have a vacation, a 401K, and other perks that make me want to go in everyday.  I would like to have the kind of career That makes me proud to be in the industry I work hard and not get paid for now.

I want to support my family.  I would like to be the one that makes more than my wife.  Tonight was the kind of night that makes me strive harder to accomplish my goals.  To be the one that talks about the places they traveled to for their job.  There are thousands in my position now.  Wishing they could make a change but they do not have the means or experience to do so.  I just have t keep plugging and hope one takes notice of me and sees enough to give me the chance someone else will not give.

Am I jealous of those I was around tonight, no.  Am I envious of the paths they took to get to where they are, maybe.  I just look back and wish I did things differently.  It just sucks I have to make up for lost time and do all of this in a down economy.  I am sure my words echo many who think along the same lines.  All I can do is continue along writing and filming, and get my work into the right hands of those who decide on weather to hire or fire.

Sometimes it is easy for me to keep my feelings inside.  Others times I want to shout them from the rooftops.  This time I could not keep them in any longer.  I felt the need to speak my mind and use this as a way to talk about more than just football and my documentary.  Some say hope is a powerful thing, others say hope means nothing without faith.  At this point in my life, I hold both close to me knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is my journey today.

Bing National Tailgating Competition Fires Up Jet Fans

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Not only did the New York Jets pull out a win in the final seconds of the game, but there was another winner at the New Meadoalwands Stadium.  A winner in Bing’s National Tailgate Competition.  This morning at 10:30 was the national competition being held in seven locations across the country sponsored by Bing.  Today’s stop in New Jersey was the third stop on the circuit.  It will end on Thursday February 3rd in Dallas during Super Bowl week.  All the winners will go head to head to see who is the best tailgater in the country.

Sixto, Anthony Quintano, and myself got there early enough to stop by the L7 Tailgate who got together via Twitter.  They had about 40 or so Tweeters there and I missed out on the Rex Ryan for another week.  DAMN!  By the time we got to the Bing.com set up we were presented with free scarves and wool hats bearing the Bing.com logo.  There were four groups vying for best tailgater.  You had Franks Lot 11 Flagmen, Lenny’s Lot K Tailgaters, Gang Green Grillers, and the Winters Brothers.  Each group had not just their own set up, but they had to stand out from everyone else.  The Winters Brothers had their Jets bus behind them.  Frank Conway had 28 flags flying on 14 poles.  The Grillers had a tiki bar, Revis Island, and ice sculptures.  Lenny’s had a kosher grill and his famed Lenny’s burgers.

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There were also social media photo booths with wall mounted touch screens provided by SMART that allowed guests to immediately Tweet, Facebook or email photos right from the event.  Or just play the bean bag toss or football throw on your own/  Even a couple of stations where you could try out Bing if you were unfamiliar with the website search engine.  DJ’s not just from Bing were playing music, but from every tailgate.  You could not walk anywhere without being blasted by some kind of music.

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Before the event started, we were introduced to the judges.  First up as “Crazy Legs” Conti.  The green bean eating champion and a regular on the competitive eating circuit.  You can see him in his dreadlocks every year on the Natahan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Next up was SNL Alum, comedian, actor,  and fitness magnate Joe Piscopo.  Even though he is a Giants fan, he had a blast being amongst the Jet faithful.  The third judge is no stranger to Jets fans.  Two time Pro Bowl player, inducted in the Football Hall of Fame, and Wide Receiver for the Jets from 1977-1989 was none other than Wesley Walker.  The final judge is the Commissioner of Tailgating and head of the Tailgating Institute of America, Joe Cahn.  Four men brought together for their love of food and football.

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The teams were judged on their tailgating game skills first.  A bean bag toss and football throw was up first that was not easy for all those who competed.  I can not post all the pictures here so check out the slide show at the bottom of the page or on my Flickr page.  Next the judges went around and had to taste all the food.  What would a tailgating competition be without eating?  Lenny had his special Lenny Burgers with the cheese inside.  Wesley Walker could not put his down.  The Winters Brothers had a menu all prepared with Jets players names accompanying the dishes.  The Flagman Frank had some nice steaks prepared that tasted great.  The Gang Green Grillers had, well, about everything as their special!  Was hard to keep track of all the food.  Some had great shrimp, turkey legs, fillet mignon, and anything else that would make the Homer Simpson in us drool.

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We wanted to eat more than we did.  Which was not enough.  We had to do a lot of interviews and film the event so there was not enough time to eat.  I will say the coffee flavored Patron is very good though.  Beers to the left of me.  Beers to the right of me.  Would have been nice to have had one but we had to stay focused.  By this time I was able to talk with Wesley Walker.  Wesley loved being amongst the Jets fans who had not only watched him when he played, but even the younger fans who were introduced to his greatness.  He did say he was such a great receiver that he would be able to escape Revis Island every time jokingly.  Wesley does enjoy watching today’s players as he sees an intensity now that was still around when he played.

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There was one aspect of Wesley Walkers career I had to find out about in depth.  Wesley is legally blind in one eye.  He was able to make it past the physical back then as there was no vision test.  He knew what he needed t do to compensate for that vision loss.  It made him step up his game and be that much of a better player.  It was after a while that the team had found out about his vision.  Wesley says it was because of that they started doing the combines, to make sure players were 100% in all areas on the field so they would not play with any limitations.  I myself have a loss of central vision in both my eyes that forced me out of wrestling in high school.  So it was a unique experience to be able to find out from an NFL Hall of Famer what he did to make sure his “handicap” did not stop him from what he loved to do.

As the competitors were trying to grease the palms of the judges with their burgers, chicken, and ribs, I managed to get some words with Bing.com representative Kari Dilloo.  Kari talked about Bing’s abilities to search anything football like Bing’s Sports Compare & Bing Instant Answers.  Bing is doing what they can do make their search engine so football user friendly that you can find anything on football.

Multiple stations set up throughout the event to allow guests to try their new software.   “Bing Sports Compare” which creates a direct side by side visual comparison of NFL players and “Bing Instant Answers” which provides instant and accurate information at your fingertips – both perfect for brushing up on football stats prior to tailgate and game time. Also on display was “Bing Travel” which is perfect for the next time you are looking to follow your favorite team to an away game as Bing not only allows you to see hotel and flight price comparisons but also lets you know when would be the best time to book your trip.

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The final contest of the day was the trivia contest.  Each team sent their best man to the stage to answer questions on everything Jets.  From questions ranging from where was Super Bowl III played to where did Nick Mangold go to college.  Every team had their strengths and weaknesses.  But only one team could walk away the best Tailgater in NJ and move on to Dallas.  Joe Piscopo said he has never really tailgated before and wished he could send them all.  He enjoyed his time there even though he looked like a fish out of water.  He provided the comedy element for the day.  Joe said he would rather be escorted into the stadium via a side door than go in through the fans in the parking lot.

But in the end just like in the Highlander, there can be only one.  Everyone did what they could to come out on top.  As the judges tallied their votes they all settled on one winner.  The Winters Brothers took the trophy and title of Best Tailgater in NY.  They will head to Dallas during Super Bowl week to compete for best tailgater in the country.   All in all it was a success and everyone that participated enjoyed themselves, especially the Winters Brothers.  I will have more details up soon along with videos of the event and interviews with the judges.  Next year will bring about more competitors and Jets fans.  No one left unsatisfied, or with an empty stomach.

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Jets Fans To Compete In National Tailgating Competition

Here we are, at the midway point of the football season.  The Jets are 7-2 and look more like 4-5.  Games against Denver, Detroit, and recently Cleveland have not had the Jets looking like Super Bowl contenders.  More like playoff hopefuls.  They have to perform more convincingly if they want to get further than the first round of the playoffs, if they make it there.  They definitely give their fans not just sometime to cheer for, but heart attacks as well.  I needed a defibrillator the past two weeks from the way they had been playing.  Ken Pikowski asked me at the last jets home game if I wanted to go out to the Cleveland game with him and some friends.  They were riding out in this tractor trailer sized camper and offered me a ride.  Would have loved to have gone, but work duties kept me here at home.

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The football season is too short.  There have been four home games and only four left.  Not enough time to tailgate for a football season.  I do not count the preseason in there.  If the Jets have a home playoff game then that is a bonus.  Fans will not only celebrate a home playoff game, but party like hell in the lots and tailgate even harder.  Seems when a team is doing great or making a great playoff run, the tailgating gets more serious.  The groups are crazier, chants are louder, but the food is always delicious.

This coming Sunday at the Houston Texans game, I will be trying a once in a lifetime tailgate food.  The L7 Tailgate crew who came together on Twitter has a food they call the “Rex Ryan”. A hot dog, wrapped in a cheeseburger, wrapped in bacon.  I will have a Lipitor and a Vytorin on me just in case.

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I will also  be covering the Bing.com National Tailgating Competition.  It is being held at 10:30 AM before the Jets take on the Texans outside the Pepsi Gate.  Tailgating, for most football fans, is way beyond just cooking a few hot dogs in the parking lot before the game. This is certainly the case in Houston, Denver, New York, Phoenix, New Orleans, Seattle, and Dallas/Fort Worth, the seven cities Bing.com will be visiting with this competition.

Because of this passion and the social nature of tailgating Joe Cahn, the Commissioner of Tailgating, and Bing, the decision engine from Microsoft, have teamed up to host the first Bing National Tailgating Championship. Houston will serve as the official kick-off with a regional competition taking place at Reliant Stadium before the Texans/Chargers game. With the Bing National Tailgating Championship, tailgaters from around the country will have the opportunity to compete for the first-ever title of “America’s #1 Tailgater.” In addition, this competition gives fans the chance to prove that Houston is worthy of being titled one of the country’s “tailgating capitals.”

Starting at 10:30 a.m. anyone can come by the Pepsi Gate to watch the region’s best tailgate teams compete for a shot at the national title.  The visitors will receive prizes and a chance to see four tailgating teams compete in four categories including:

1) Cooking: Originality, presentation, regional flair and taste

2) Tailgate Spirit and Environment: Includes tailgating set-up and team flair

3) Parking Lot Agility: bean bag and football toss

4) Team/Sport Knowledge: Trivia challenge

Local judges will be on hand to determine the winning team including football legend Wesley Walker. And of course, Joe Cahn, the Commissioner of Tailgating will be on hand to officiate the competition.

For tailgating teams that would like to throw their BBQ tongs in the ring for a chance to be crowned the nation’s best, please visit:  www.tailgatinginstitute.com/bing.  So come on out to see the best Jets tailgating and how Bing can help fans make your game day decisions.

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Tailgating has become more than just arriving before a game to eat and have fun in the parking lot.  It is a time to share memories with friends.  To make that game day experience one step better.  When I walk around the lots, I see more people than ever taking pictures.  There was a time you could not get too many pictures inside the stadium.  With the advent of camera phones though it makes it easier to snap off a few pics and capture some shots.  My friend Jason must have a new picture up on Facebook after ever Yankees game he goes to.  My point is people want to capture more about what goes on outside the stadium as well as inside it.  Tailgating is not an important part of that game day experience.

Everyone has a memory they will always remember.  Many will remember the Monday Night Miracle, Dan Marino’s fake spike, Dennis Byrd getting hurt and many other on field moments.  Others will have countless memories off the field.  Ones that happen in the lot during tailgating.  A place where birthdays are celebrated, anniversaries, and other events where friends and family can celebrate.  I interviewed one couple who met at a Jets game while tailgating.  They were also married on a Monday.  Right after their wedding they attended a Monday night Jets game.  You can not make a better game day memory than that.