The final leg of a trip to 50 1


Today marks the beginning of the 30-day countdown till I move into the second half of my life. I turn 50 in just a short 30 days; it’s been an interesting 49 years so far. I have had many careers and many journeys down many roads, some of them the wrong one, but I managed to get off those and back onto the right one without getting into to much trouble, but without those wrong roads, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

I am going to try to post on this very website as much as I can about the first 50 years…well as many of those early ones as best as I can, but I know that from at least the age of 5 to now I should do pretty good. Some of the posts will be reruns of stuff I have already written, but there will be new stuff as much as I can get done with life and work getting in the way.

So have fun reading and enjoying them when you can.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Tomato Pies

I mentioned in a post last week that I have decided to move to Corning in the Southern Tier of New York.

When I moved back to New Jersey in the late summer of 1991 to the open arms of my father’s family that I had left back in 1983 when we moved to Bath, NY, I considered the move a rebirth. Now after 26 years and the last few which were a tumultuous time for me, I feel this move back to the Bath area is me rising from the ashes of my old life and with that rising I need to believe in myself and love myself to become the new person I want to become.

I will miss a ton of the people I have made my friends and done things with throughout my time in New Jersey. The parties we had in the back yard on all the major summer holidays are something that I will never forget. The get together at Panera, Uno’s and other great places. The one friend that I spent the most time with and who came to my aid when the basement flooded almost every time it did, I will miss you the most John. John Martinetti was always there when I asked for help and you were always willing to go out and have a good time at a moments notice. I will miss you dude.

As I am getting settled in my new life I look back at the things I have achieved while I was in New Jersey, I helped LUG/IP become a non-profit group, I started the System Administrator Group – LOPSA-NJ and put together the East Coast System Administrator Conference, set up the Nextdoor for Colonial Heights Civic Association and a few things I am sure I forgot about.

The biggest things I will miss from New Jersey are all the great places to eat Chinese & Italian foods, burgers (not fast food burgers) and the other types of food I love to eat. Since I have been in Corning I have been struggling to find a good Chinese restaurant that has good food, low prices and delivers. In New Jersey I couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a good non-chain Chinese restaurant that fit the above criteria’s. So far I have found so so Chinese, but I am still looking and I will find it.

But the one thing I am missing the most is a Trenton style tomato pie.

In Trenton, the “tomato pie” is king, a thin-crust, chewy round pizza whose most defining characteristic is the unusual placement of the tomato sauce: it’s on top.

Malcolm Bedell –


Trenton Tomato Pie – From Away

This was the food I missed the most when I first came to New York in ’83 now it is again. I will find a pizza joint that will make a good tomato pie or teach one to make a great tomato pie or I will have to get that pizza oven attachment for my Weber Charcoal grill.

This isn’t really the final goodbye my friends and family in New Jersey, it’s just a break from me, and I hope to see you soon in New Jersey and I want you to know my door is always open if you want to come to Corning (I don’t have a room you can stay in, but there is a bunch of nice places to stay in the area) and help me find that great Chinese restaurant or a great tasting tomato pie, or we can also go on a few vineyards tours or brewery tours or just go out to the lake and have a good time.

So in closing to the state of New Jersey and my friends I say:

So Long, and Thanks for All the Tomato Pies

I am here and I am doing ok 1

I have been busy looking for a job and also made the decision to move back to the Corning, NY area to be closer to my parents and Marty and to get out of NJ for a while. Since I have been back I have spent a lot of time sitting in the Soulful Cup on Market Street looking for the elusive new job as well as meeting and talking to new people and making new friends of these people.

I have gotten that elusive job with Corning Inc. in the Incident Management Department for the IT Department. I start the day after the 4th of July…so that would be the 5th I am excited but nervous like I am about starting any new job. This job is going to be a lot like doing the Big Red Button calls we did at Peak Hosting, but with bigger issues on a higher level. I am sure I will rock it and have fun with a new team and a new company. The one downside of this job is the 24/7 on call stuff, since it gets hard to get a good life/work balance with the threat of the phone going off, but like Peak I will work it out.

I have also been doing a lot more cooking in the past few weeks since Marty doesn’t cook much and we don’t have a ton of money to go out and get take out, but we do go out once a week just to have a night out together. I have been cooking a lot of veggies and making salads that is a little different for me, since the last audience I cooked for was anti vegetable. I have also been working the grill like crazy cooking up steaks and burgers and of course pork chops. I am going to be firing up the smoker soon (yes I brought the smoker and all the charcoal grills with me to Corning) to make a purple turkey and of course some ribs and I am sure some other great food on it and the other grills.

My dad’s sisters Clora and Bea and his brother Fran came to visit for a few days this with my mom and dad to help out in the flower beds and a few other specialty things since mom is getting her butt kicked by the chemo, so I hung out with them and of coursed cooked up some great food with and for them. I made a blistered green bean dish with an olive oil, garlic and lime sauce (I didn’t follow the recipe, but used it as a map sketched on a cocktail napkin) that was out of this world and I kicked out a great southern unsweetened cornbread (sugar has no place in corn bread) that was one of the best I have made in a long time and of course Marty was very excited and filled by all this great food that I made and of course the food my dad and mom made and meeting my uncle Fran for the first time. They of course hit it off and I was glad she was able to meet him outside of the La Vigna picnic setting so they had some time to talk without Fran getting distracted by all the rest of the family.

I am hoping to be writing a little more than I have been. It’s tough sometimes for me to come up with ideas and when I do to get them on the paper. My mom made an observation that it’s getting harder for people to write, since most people have their heads down looking at their phones or electronic devices. They aren’t taking in what’s going on around them and building experiences to write about. I actually agree with her and I have been observing how people are in the world around me and have realized that I am guilty of having my head stuck “in” my phone and not paying attention to those things going on around me. So my goal the rest of the summer is to pay attention and take in what is going on around me and try to get more down on the “paper” and stop worrying about what’s going on online when I am out and about.


Louis G Bilancio and his oldest grandson’s life after 1983

When I was in my freshman year of high school at Notre Dame, a person who was the anchor and a guiding force in my young life. This person was always around when I needed to be put back in my place. He was my grandfather and I miss him. He died in June 1983 and I still miss him. I have written a lot about him in the past few years either on my site or for my family’s newspaper.

Lou G. BilancioI was around him a lot when I was going to certain schools, because the school bus would drop me off at my grandparent’s house. When I first started going there after school I would get my homework done and my grand mom would cook dinner and I would kneel on the couch and look out the window watching Eggert Crossing Road for his yellow Datsun B-210. Because I knew that when I saw it, that in a few minutes I would get to hear how his day was and hear about what ever he was going to be doing that night. He would ask me what I learned in school and of course as the years went on my answers didn’t make him happy with me. He always pushed his grandkids to be the best at school. I never did that and I know that irritated him and we talked less and less as I got closer to and in high school. He knew I was smart and that I wasn’t doing the best that I could do.

In the past few months I have been thinking a lot about how in certain parts of my life he would be so proud of me for what I have accomplished, and in others he would be shaking his head thinking what am I doing with my life. I know that I have disappointed him and the rest of my family. My life hasn’t gone the way I thought it would when I was a kid and playing and talking with him. I know that I can’t live in the past and I have to take responsibility for my actions and the decisions I have made and move on.

When you are a teenager and you are around parents, aunts, uncles and grand parents you always think they will be around to be there to help you navigate this thing called life. Since the fall of 1983 I have been on my own when it came to my life decisions that my parents didn’t have control of.   I screwed up in school big time. You are reading the blog of the Summer School KING. College for me was a joke and I failed out faster then the first lap of a stock car race. My radio career crashed and burned because I got full of myself and took things for granted. I have made a career in Information Technology, but things are getting long in the tooth in that field. One of the greatest things that have happened in my life is my daughter Avery. My grandfather would be so proud of her, she is smart and doing great in school and has a good head on her shoulders.

My world right now is in a big flux, I am “newly” divorced, living by myself and working. I have a house that I need to fix or sell, trying to make up with a friend and my family has been quiet. The biggest thing I miss about my grand father is having him to talk to, as a kid before I was screwing up in school he and I talked a lot about the future. Of course being 13 my future was kind of more fun and games then serious life as it is now.

I know this post was a ramble but when I get thinking of my grandfather a lot comes out. So even though June is Aquarium Month, Candy Month, Dairy Month, Fight the Filthy Fly Month, Gay Pride Month, National Accordion Awareness Month, National Adopt a Cat Month, National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, Rose Month, Turkey Lovers Month to me it’s Louis G. Bilancio month.


Growing Up Italian/American or American/Italian??

My grandfather once asked me a question while we were sitting at the kitchen table and the answer I gave him was “I’m not American I am a Italian”.  I lived close to my Grandparents and I spent a lot of time at there house.  At the age of 11 or 12 I started going to their house after school from 6th grade to my Freshman year in High School.  I have written a few posts about my Grandparents and growing up with all my cousins.  My cousins Henry, Tim and I though spent the most time at their house growing up and hearing about how things were done in the Chambersburg area of Trenton while they grew up.  I still hear stories from my dad’s aunts and uncles about growing up in the “Burg”..and being “Italian” back in the days of no internet, and no color television.

I have written a lot about growing up with Rose and Lou and how things suddenly changed when Lou passed away in ‘83 on this site and in articles for my family newspaper La Vigna. A lot changed on that day in June, the big holiday dinners stopped, the getting together for meals at 90 Eggerts Crossing Road (the family home) on the weekends and in the summer seemed to pitter out.  It was as though the gravity that was holding us all together as a family stopped and we slowly moved away to different corners of the United States.  My family moved to Bath, NY in the fall of ‘83 and a few years later my uncle Fran’s family moved to Kalamazoo, MI.  It of course became harder to all get together and be the big Italian family that I grew up with, and that is one of the biggest things I miss the most.

Scrolling through Facebook today I came across the following video and it made me think how the times have changed and how I have not followed through with my Italian up bringing.  Every year I say I am going to plant a garden, going to start having Sunday dinner at my house with all the family, learn to speak Italian, and every year I don’t .  I have been good about having the big holiday dinners at my house, but I have Americanized them, no antipasti, no pasta course, no soup course and all the other things that made our holiday dinners “Italian”.  Am I living in the past or was the answer I gave my grandfather when I was a kid wrong and I am more American then Italian?

Let me know what you think of the video, some things I know were the way my family was and some I am not so sure.  I want to hear from you my Italian family what you think of this video and how you have kept the “Italian” in your life.

Writing and the lack there of.

franI was talking with my uncle Fran on Thanksgiving day in my Aunt Bea’s dinning room talking about technology and writing articles for the family newspaper, when he asked me about updating and writing my journal/blog.  I told him I just haven’t had much to say or write about in a long time. He told me he takes 10 min a day to just write down his thoughts and ideas.  It made me think back to when I first started “William’s Thoughts and Ideas” and that I was going to write every day about my day like the journal on and how I have let myself down.

The conversation with Fran made me think later about the summers my mom made me write a “journal”.  She use to make me sit down everyday for 30 min to write down what happened the day before or just a short story.  I use to kick and scream that I didn’t want to do this…it took away from my fun time, but in the long run it did make me a better writer and I did come up with some real good short stories and it helped created my “voice” and writing style.

What has kept me from writing as much as I had planed back at the beginning of this website?  Has it been lack of time, lack of topics, or just being to lazy to do it?  I am not sure what the issue is but I need to get back to it and write more, because it makes me relax and feel better.  So I hope this is the beginning of a change and I can take my 10 minutes a day to sit down and write something whether it’s about my day, an article about some topic or just the opening paragraph of a story I might write some day.  So wish me luck and I hope you enjoy it.

What would my grandfather Louis G Bilancio have done with the technology of today?

This was written as an article for my family newspaper La Vigna.  It appeared in the Fall Issue 2011.


imageMy cousin John and I were talking the other day how people at work don’t like change. We have some 40 something’s that don’t like us making any changes to there computers or other devices at all. After a lengthy discussion we both came to the conclusion that if our grandfather Louis G Bilancio was still alive he wouldn’t be bothered by the new technology of the day, in fact he would have embraced this technology.

So let’s take a look at some of the new technology that has matured and developed since his death that Lou would have picked up and used to their fullest advantage to make his life better and more productive and enjoyable.

The Cordless Telephone: He would have embraced the cordless telephone with both hands and run with it. It would have given him the ability to take or make calls anywhere in the house by breaking his tie from the phone with its 50 foot cord tying him to the kitchen as well as saving anyone in his way from having the cord wrapped around them as he walked and talked.

The Personal Digital Assistant (PDA): The PDA would have revolutionized the way he took notes, scheduled his appointments and kept his contact information. He was the first person his grandkids knew that had a “little black” book with all his contacts in it. I am sure he would have gone digital with one of the first PDA devices or the Apple Newton. By retiring the book and the calendar hanging in the kitchen by putting all his contacts and appointments on the device

The Cell Phone: The Cordless phone and the PDA would have had him adopting the Cell Phone as his main calling device. But he would have waited till they got smaller than the first cell phones which were huge devices. Being able to combine the power of the cordless phone and adding the ability to make or take a call anywhere at any time would have been like gold to him and adding the contacts of the PDA to the phone would have made the world Lou’s office.

But those three technologies pale next to the next three technological advances.

The Personal Computer (PC): A lot of our childhood memories of Lou were of him sitting at the kitchen table with all his papers spread out while he worked and wrote his letters and papers. The PC would have been a game changer for all of his writing and note taking. Of course Lou would probably always be the type that would want more power and be upgrading all the time. John and I both think that at the beginning of his jump into the personal computer world he would have been working in a PC/windows world but would have moved and now be working in the Apple Mac world. No matter what kind he took to he would have many, a desktop to do the heavy work in his office and a laptop for working in the kitchen in the back yard or on the patio or at some undisclosed location.

E-Mail: Many of you probably didn’t realize that e-mail came out before the Internet took off with the start of computer Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and companies like CompuServe and AOL and we are sure that he would have had e-mail. Because like the telephone and the written letter in the past, e-mail would have become his main means of communication to all family members and the rest of his crew (Yes Lou would have had a crew of many of his friends). E-mail would have opened up a new frontier for him in the world of Italian/American relations. We are sure he would have had many e-mail addresses depending on the project and the amount of SPAM he got.

THE INTERNET: We feel this would have been the biggest With a grandson who was on the “grid” before most people in the Bilancio family he would have been right there with him exploring the new frontier of this new world. He would have had many web sites and pages for all his projects and ideas that he was working on. We feel that he would have been the first to get personal domain ( and then moved all his projects and e-mail addresses to it. First in the family to have and online blog you bet. Would it have taken him long to get caught up in the social media craze…no it wouldn’t. J How would you feel to get a Tweet or a Facebook poke from him. We think it would have been great. The Internet would have been a place to work with his brother in-law Lou on getting the family history together and getting the family tree fleshed out with as much information as he could find. It would have probably changed the way he did his research and we are sure that many new ideas and projects would have come from him surfing the net. I bet he would have finally found a way to make those Cannolis for New Year’s Eve with all the directions on how to make them on the internet.

Smart Phone: With the advent of the smart phone he would have up graded to one to be able to combine all four of the big technologies (Cell Phone, E-mail, Computer, and the Internet) into a small mobile device that could fit in his pocket. He would have everything he needed at any of his many meetings and classes at his fingertips. Outings and dinner with him would never have been the same.

To make sure he got the most out of all this technology he would need a few things to make it all work together. So he would have the following put together for his use and for the rest of the family.

A Home Network: With all these computers and devices that he would own he would want to have a way to reach the internet and store his stuff from anywhere on his property. So he would turn to his IT team to come up with a Wi-Fi and cabled network as well as a server farm to hold all his papers and notes and media files.

An IT Team: The team would consist of his son in law Dean Acquaviva as the team lead and Apple Product support, his grandsons William Bilancio and John Johnson for his network and infrastructure (home network, cell phone and servers and programing) support. The team would of course be on call 24/7 because he was an early riser and late to bed kind of guy and the team would have done it without a complaint or grimace.

After this look at some of the technology that probably would have changed the way Lou did things and how he would have blazed a trail for those family members following in his path to this new world of technology and change. Would he have gotten more of his generation working these new things we think so. Would he have embraced more than we have brought up, we hope he would have and we know that he would never complain about the changes, he would enjoy and embrace them like he did life.

This summer is going to be a busy one

Wow it’s almost July.  I am working on getting things ready at the house for the 4th of July picnic.  After that picnic I have to get into La Vigna Picnic mode.

My uncle and I are meeting on Monday for a quick breakfast and picnic planning.  We have some new ideas for this year for the kids that should make things fun and exciting.  I am looking forward to this years picnic more than usual since we have a few more people helping with the planning and work this year.  I am still going to run the 50/50 and the seed spitting contest. I love seeing my family and hanging out and just taking it easy.

In the last few weeks I have been made the committee chair of the LOPSA Education Committee.  We are in the middle of getting the training schedule and trainers together for OLF and OLFu.  I also LOPSA-button 1stepped up and volunteered for one of the empty board seats on the LOPSA board.  Last night I had my first board meeting.  I have gotten the feel of how things work on the call and got some ideas that I need to flesh out to help fix some of the issues that are plaguing LOPSA.  It also looks like I will be going to a face to face board meeting in August.

As well as the picnic and LOPSA, work, LUG/IP, LOPSA-NJ and PICC I have been working on a new web site with my friend John LeMasney.  It’s going to be a food based web site that will explore the making, buying, cooking and eating of the food of Central New Jersey. We want to be the premier destination for those interested in Central New Jersey food.  I hope to go live in the next few weeks.  We are looking for writers who have a passion for food in Central New Jersey. So if you want to write for us send me an example of your writing and a little bit about yourself to

So some family news Avery is now a senior in high school and has her drivers license. This is great I don’t have to drive her all over the place to her friends and dance or back to school, the down side is I don’t get to spend as much time with my daughter.  Otherwise every thing is going great and I am looking forward to a hot humid summer.

Wow What A Thanksgiving Weekend we had this year

It all started on Wednesday night at my Aunt Bea’s house with my Aunt Bea and Clora, my parents and Avery while we waited for Fran and Family to arrive from Michigan.  The food of the night was going to be Blue Fish that I got from my co worker Tim Szwedo caught on one of his fishing trips.  My dad had marinated the fish for a bit and then grilled them on the grill.  Fran and family arrived right at 6:30 in time to sit down and eat.  We sat around for a bit and talked and laughed.  Avery and I headed out around 8:30 to hit Acme and then to crash out a bit for a bit.

Thanksgiving started for me at around 8:30 in the morning while I got the smoker ready for the big bird cook.  I actually used The Minion Method for the Charcoal burn.  Using this method kept the temp at a constant of 250 degrees for the whole 5 hour cook.  The turkey had been marinating in a red wine marinade sine Monday.  It came out of the marinade a nice dark purple color.  After the smoker had leveled out to a steady temp the Turkey was put on the grate at 9:00am.  I then moved back inside to start work on the Rye Bread Stuffing.  This turned out to be a great stuffing.  After getting that in the oven, it was time to start on another new recipe for Smoked Sausage Jambalaya another recipe that was a hit for dinner.  While working on all of these new recipes I had a pot of Cranberry BBQ Sauce cooking up, which was talked about a lot last year and was requested to be made again.  Other then making gravy and un canning the canned jelled cranberry sauce onto a plate I was really done cooking by 1:30.  My cousin Tim and family showed up around 1:45 and then it was a constant flow of family arriving till about 2:15.  I took the turkey off the smoker at about 2:15 and let it rest till about 2:45 and handed it over to my dad to carve while I got the rest of the food on to the table.   We finally sat down by 3:00 and the food was passed till about 4:30 as well as the great conversation.  The turkey was perfect and moist and had a great smoke ring around it.  The last person left around 8:00 and I was finally able to sit down and relax and to start thinking about Christmas dinner.

Friday was a day of working at some side jobs and going into work for a bit……but dinner was a treat, we did another pizza off at my Aunt Bea’s house, but with a twist…we did white pies only.  We got pies from Top Road Tavern & Pizza, Fedelos Family Pizzeria, Abruzzi Pizza & Cafe, Kings Pizzarama, Palermo’s III(Ewing), Limoncello’s Pizza.  The winner for the second year in a row for the Bilancio Pizza Off was Palermo’s, it now holds the title in both the Tomato Pie division and now the White Pie Division.  It was a fun night just hanging out talking to everyone. Dean brought some beer he had just bottled that day.  It had a great taste but it will be better after it sits for a few weeks in the bottles.  It was an early night because I ate so much pizza that it just made me tired.

Saturday morning started with me heading to my Aunt Bea’s to hang out with my Uncle Fran for a bit, so since I go there early enough I got a home cooked breakfast which was nice.  We all headed our separate ways for a bit to meet back at the house for dinner.  Which consisted of leftovers brought over from my house from Thanksgiving as well ham from Bath Packing.  Dinner was great and of course the conversation was good to.

It was great seeing my uncle Fran and family since it’s rare that we see them much since they are up in Michigan..tried to talk them into coming back for Christmas but since the snow will be flying by then I doubt we will see them till the La Vigna Picnic in July.

Well time to go and see about Christmas dinner now….

To see all the photos from the weekend head over to here.

Time it is a flying

So we are into August already and it seems like Avery just got out of school for the summer and now she has only a few weeks till she goes back. Anyway things have been crazy through the last part of July and the beginning of August.

The end of July always has the La Vigna Family picnic and that always means a lot of work for most of my family, getting the games together for the kids and getting the property cleaned up and ready. This year was no different…well yea it was…it rained most of the week before the picnic so most of the work was compressed into Friday. Thursday was the worst of the rain and of course that was the night most of my cousins and I went to see a concert at the Blueclaws Stadium in Lakewood, NJ.


The bill consisted of Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Bob Dylan. It was an interesting show. My cousins Tim & his wife Meghan, Henry and Ira all enjoyed the show in the rain. Henry, Ira and I spent all of the night down on the field just talking through Willie Nelsons set and then rocked through John Mellencamp. Bob Dylan came out and totally confused me. The band he has is great and sounded tight, but then Bob starts singing and I couldn’t understand a word he said, but that is the mystery that is Bob Dylan. We enjoyed the whole night rain and all. It was good to be at a concert with my cousin Ira who we don’t see enough of and when we do it’s not long enough.

The day of the picnic turned out great even though it was a little bit hot, but the people that made it had a good time. I shared the announcing and running the games with my 2 uncles, Dean and Fran. It was fun running the water balloon toss and of course the watermelon seed spitting contest. We raised some good money selling this years calendar and Dean and I caused some controversy in the family with the 50/50 this year. So I say that the 2009 La Vigna Picnic was a success and we are already planing the 2010.

Carolyn has had the surgery on her foot so they could get some samples of the bone to see if there is any infection in the bone. We haven’t heard yet back about the lab reports. We have been back to the doctors many times so they can change the dressing. So we hope to get a negative report back about the infections so they can close up the wound and we can move on to the fall without any more foot issues.

Avery is driving now…..with a licensed driver in the car of course. She is getting better each time we go out, so I think if we keep her schlepping Carolyn all over the place while she is not allowed to drive.

Well that’s it for now…not much going on with me other then work and more work and Karma.