From Rebecca: Letting go of an historic place

I live in a place that changes all the time. State College is a college town, with the main campus of Pennsylvania State University located here. We have construction and new developments all around the area, for retired people moving back, professors and their families, and students that need off campus housing. I used to know the names of all the streets, but now there are a lot of streets I don’t know. Businesses come and go, especially downtown and in the mall, and old buildings get torn down for new ones.

There are some businesses and buildings that have remained for decades, standing in the middle of all of this change. I like knowing that they are there, and that even though I don’t often use their services, that they make up the framework of my town. I almost never go to the Nittany Mall, for instance, but I like that it is still there. Schlow Centre Region Library is one of the anchors of downtown.

One of those mainstays is clearly struggling, and may shut down. A motel and restaurant, it has been here since before I was born. I don’t want to use the name in respect for the current owners, who are fighting hard to keep it afloat. They had to file for bankruptcy this year and have tried several things to save the business.

This place means a lot to me, as my mom used to work there and met my stepfather there too. She worked in the coffee shop in the evenings, and once in a while my sisters and I would go up while she was closing it down. We would do little chores to keep occupied and she would let us pick out a pack of Lance snack crackers or cookies as a reward. My mom was really busy at that time, and we didn’t have much time with her, so that was a chance for us to have a few moments with her. Now that I think about it, at this time we got more time with Dad, as he was with us in the evenings she worked. She eventually got a job at the university, and then attended the university. We stopped going to the business as much.

The business had a coffee shop, formal dining room, and motel rooms. It was owned by one family for decades, who were big in the community. As far as I could tell, they kept the place maintained and in good working order. Then they decided to sell the business, and I have a vague memory of it changing hands a couple of times, and now the current owners are struggling. At some point the coffee shop was closed, I don’t remember how many years ago. I would drive by the business, confident that it was the same as always and would be around forever. I had no idea it was in danger of going out of business, even when a local restaurant set up shop there in place of the formal dining that used to be a staple of the area.

Then within the last two years, the business was featured on a national show focused on helping failing hotels. I watched it and was shocked by how much it had gone down hill. So much on the property needed to be fixed, and supplies were low due to lack of funds. It was clear during the show that the business I took for granted might disappear like so many other places around here. The owners are still hanging on, but for how long?

My first reaction to losing this business, which I haven’t been in for five years, was that I didn’t want it to go away. It means something to State College and it is important to this area and its history. It is important to my history. But is it really? Today, I don’t know. I went by it yesterday and saw a new sign up for their new smoking bar. Another attempt to bring people in, which might save the place or might not. And for the first time I felt like it was okay to let the place go. With so many changes to it, the old place I remember from growing up is already gone. I would be okay if this version of the business did close up and okay if it succeeded for many years to come.

Having said that, I imagine I would not feel so peaceful about it if the buildings were razed and something else in that spot. It would seem wrong. But I would get over it. I’m not the one who is in debt for this business and I’m not the one working every day to make it better; the current owners have a right to do what is best for themselves.

We have lost a lot of businesses and places in State College in the many decades I have lived here, but we have gained some good new ones too. If we lose too many historic places, we lose a lot of our history, and that would be a shame. But life is not lived in the past, however much we miss it. We have to make our lives in this area the way it is now, and very often that is a good thing.

I dub the Keurig experiment a partial failure

Greetings, readers. Although I love my Keurig coffee maker, I am finding that since I bought it three months back, I have failed to make my budget each month. When I would get my coffee at Panera, in the early morning, I would tend to get a muffin or souffle, which would add to the cost. I would sit there for several hours, drink cup after cup of free refills, and fight with their internet connection. I figured that the Keurig would let me stay home, have a cup or two of coffee, and save a bunch of money.

Scanning my receipts I have noticed that the K-Cups are close to $8 per box at the store next door. I will usually have three or four cups a day. This means one box will last approximately four days and then more will have to be purchased. This starts to add up quickly. The per unit price is larger than I thought it would be, I am using more K-Cups per day than I thought I would, and I still buy food at Panera (with water), just closer to lunch time.

The way I used to get my coffee was to either make a big pot in the Sunbeam coffee maker, switch it off and nuke each cup as I needed it, or I simply went to Panera, paid a couple of bucks and could enjoy as many refills as I wanted.

Sure I get more time at home now, and that is good, but yet again today I had to ask my accountant for a little extra to make it through the month. This is frustrating me to no end.

At this stage of the game, I am not ready to sell my Keurig on E-Bay or put it downstairs on the swap table. I think the answer lies in finding a store where K-Cups can be bought in bulk so that each individual one is a bargain, i.e. Sam’s Club. A friend of mine says that she is going to look into this for me, and perhaps purchase some and I will pay her back.

I have loved coffee from the age of ten years old, and have no plans to give it up. I thought for sure that the Keurig coffee maker was the answer. Yes, it has kept me at home, but as far as being the economic answer that I was looking for, the jury is still out.

We will be back to a three-day work week next week.

Until tomorrow, have a good day, take care, and happy reading.

Top ten list of terrible disasters

Greetings, readers. Here is my top ten list of what I consider to be the most terrible disaster that I have heard of. I was born in 1965 and I’m certain that in the 1800s or 1900s when plagues were around that could be considered a terrible disaster, too. However, I have decided to go with topics that I’ve learned about in school or that have happened so recently that I was able to watch it on TV.

#10. Flight 19: 1945, December 5. [Five Avenger bombers took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a military bombing practice run, and soon found themselves smack in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Hopelessly lost when they ran out of fuel, they fell to the sea and to this day have never been found.]

#9. Loma Prieta California earthquake: 1989, October 17. [At the beginning of the third game of the 1989 World Series, at 8:04 pm local time, this earthquake struck the San Francisco area. Fans were startled and the players’ families were very upset. As far as the World Series went, there was structural damage to Candlestick Park, so it was decided to postpone the series until the stadium was repaired. The Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants resumed the World Series ten days later, on October 27. A much bigger story was all the damage caused by the massive quake, including two bridge failures, where whole sections of the top layer fell on the bottom layer, trapping people in their cars.]

#8. The B.P. oil spill in the Gulf: 2010 April 20. [The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded. It leaked massive amounts of oil in to the Gulf of Mexico. It took several weeks to get on top of the problem. Although the event is now over, the lasting effects on the ecology will be felt for years to come.]

#7. Three Mile Island: 1979, March 28. [On that date, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas almost became uninhabitable. Reactor 2 had a coolant problem and released a small amount of radioactive material into the air. Folks in the area were evacuated promptly, but through the news later it was learned that this accident could have been a hell of a lot worse.]

#6. Hindenburg: 1937, May 6. [This terrible air disaster occurred as the giant airship was docking at Lakehurst, New Jersey. It had come from Europe and was scheduled to head back later that evening. Due to a static charge of some type, the Hindenburg caught fire near the tail and the hydrogen-filled Zeppelin was quickly engulfed in flames. Thirty-six people died, including one ground handler trying to moor the ship. Some passengers and crew miraculously survived.]

#5. Great Chicago Fire: 1871, October 8. [At least 300 people perished in this terrible fire, and 100,000 people were left homeless. It began in someone’s barn and quickly spread to neighboring houses. Before firefighters could arrive the situation was out of control, and burned a lot of homes and businesses before finally being put out days later with the help of rain.]

#4. Japan earthquake and tsunami: 2011, March 11. [The underwater 9.0 earthquake off the coast set off a massive tsunami, causing horrendous flooding that devastated Japan and actually reached parts of Hawaii. At least 19,000 people died in the disaster and the aftermath. The event impacted three nuclear power plants, including the Fukushima Daiichi (plant one) which lost power and had meltdowns. Radioactive material was released into the air and water, and people were evacuated in a 12 mile radius. Clean up of the plants and the recovery of the country took many months.]

#3. Hurricane Katrina: 2005, August 29. [After striking Florida first, the hurricane set course for the Louisiana/Mississippi border and hit it after regaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Much of New Orleans, which is near sea level anyway, was wiped out due to the massive flooding when the levees broke. Several thousand people were evacuated to the Super Dome for more days than they would have liked. Once there they became trapped. The administration at the time unfortunately had a slow response with their forthcoming aid, adding to the frustration of the victims.]

#2. The Titanic: 1912, April 14 and April 15. [The sinking of the ship has always fascinated me and I have studied it much. According to several documentaries and movies, many mistakes were made during that fateful evening. For example, the chairman of the White Star Line was trying to set a speed record. This would have been fine had the Titanic not entered a field of ice, which included the massive iceberg it hit. Another issue I have is that if the person in command would have simply turned the ship without putting it in full reverse first, the whole incident might not have occurred. There are other issues, but we don’t want this to become a book in itself.]

#1. Chernobyl: 1986, April 25 and April 26. [The world’s most devastating nuclear disaster occurred when a test went wrong. When the Chernobyl power plant had an explosion and meltdown, it released massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment. Many brave men went back into the building that evening to try to contain what they could, knowing they would be dead in hours. Experts say that the town of Pripyat and the surrounding zone will be uninhabitable by humans for close to a quarter of a million years. This to me is utterly frightening, for I live only a couple of hundred miles from Three Mile Island. I might have had to evacuate from my home as those people did.]

There’s the list. Please chime in with a comment if you agree, disagree, or have your own. Until next week, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Top ten list is a work in progress

Greetings, readers. As my title implies, my top ten list for today is not ready. I do apologize for this. I was very busy during my personal days and thought I could get this together for today. Then Rebecca and I sat down and saw how research intensive this was going to be. That threw a monkey wrench into things. We will keep working on the top ten list for you and get it up either Friday or next Wednesday.

Even though I didn’t get as much stuff done in my apartment as I might have liked, I am calling my personal week a total success. I accomplished almost everything I set out to do. I say almost because yesterday I wasn’t feeling up to par, and three days ago my computer was acting very wonky, so I couldn’t work on my notes and start writing.

I’ve given myself a goal to work toward. That goal is to find the time each day to write at least three pages. I’ve given myself the luxury of allowing those writing times to be different on any given day. For instance, Saturday will be in the morning because after gaming in the afternoon I would be too tired. Something tells me my two hot times to write will be about eight in the morning and seven in the evening. During my week off I thought of two story lines and made character sheets for both. It was time well spent. Though no actual pages of dialog or prose were written, I feel at least like I know where I am going now. I’m not going to spoil it for everybody, but it is going to be a paranormal project.

Shifting to another topic, I had a very sombre and melancholy Mother’s Day as I visited Mom and Godmother’s graves at the cemetery. I must say, I was very pleased with the wonderful weather that we had. Many folks were out visiting their family members.

Lastly, our little taste of summer is over and the temperatures are back down to normal. The high today will only be in the lower 60s. I actually feel a little more refreshed.  As I said before, that first taste of hot weather, though I love it, makes me drag.

Until Friday, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms

Greetings, readers. Here’s a quick message to all the mothers, mothers-in-law & grandmothers in the world. Enjoy your special day! :-D

My week off for personal reasons is going very much as planned. By Wednesday I will have my head on straight again and be able to get back to work…, if not sooner. ;-) Many new ideas are in my rusty brain.

Until then, take care, enjoy your weekend and happy reading.

 

Things are moving in a positive way

Greetings, readers. I have been energized the last few days with a positive feeling to make changes in my life. I know, I know, I’ve said this a hundred times before. But I think it is time for this procrastinater to just do it. Since last September, I have successfully adjusted my sleep pattern, and I am working on my slight hoarding problem.

My therapy sessions with my psychologist are working so well, that my creativity is returning. It was buried under depression for at least a year. Now, I sit during the evenings thinking of scenarios, plot points, character names, and titles. I also have selected what I call music to write by, which is either classical music or movie soundtracks. I can’t write to music that has words, because I will sing to it.

I’m also very pleased that I am finally breaking out of my shell which had been preventing me from being more social. I’ve been attending the church dinner a little more often, and I hope to make contact with a new person whom I hope to one day call a friend.

In other news, it will be a sombre weekend because Mother’s Day is coming up and I’ll be going to the cemetery to visit Mom and also my Godmother. I’m hoping for nice weather. As soon as this blog entry is posted, I will be reserving the Zipcar.

We had a hard rain storm this morning and my ceiling began leaking again for a few minutes. I’ve already told management and they are going to call the roofers to once again check it out. I don’t know why they can’t find the problem.

Rebecca and I are taking the next two days off for personal days. If I can, I’ll post a short entry on Friday. If things get too hectic with what I’m doing, we’ll get back to normal and have a new entry up next Wednesday. It will be a top ten list on some fun topic as of yet undetermined.

Until then, take care, enjoy your day, and happy reading.

Springtime is making me sleepy

Greetings, readers. This happens every year. It’s nothing to worry about. When the temperature starts rising and the trees start blooming I get very sleepy. The thing I like most about winter is that I get a cold slap in the face every time I walk out the door and it refreshes me. The first few days that the temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, I am dragging.

Thinking back on this, I can tell you that this phenomenon has happened to me as far back as I can remember. I absolutely prefer spring and summer, but it does take me a week or so to get used to it.

Just yesterday, I opened all three windows in the apartment wide for the first time, to let the stale air out and some good fresh air in. What I got was car exhaust and the wonderful aroma of the Indian restaurant nearby. By nighttime though it had cooled down enough that I wanted to close the windows.

I was very upset with myself yesterday, for I fell asleep and did not go to the Thursday church dinner. I’m going to have to wait another week to talk to Rose, the very nice young lady I met last week. I was disappointed in myself for not going, but I quickly realized that I must have needed the sleep. I napped from 4:00 right through 7:00. I wasn’t surprised, however, because during work hours yesterday I was extremely tired. I must not have slept well the night before.

Tomorrow is gaming day, if all goes well, and the weather should hold. No, we don’t game outside, but I hate walking to and from the bus in the rain (or any other elements). For this coming fall, I’ve been thinking of asking Darren to change our gaming day. I would like to watch the college football games live on TV, rather than try to hunt them down on YouTube. If Saturday afternoon is the only time for Darren, we might have to stick with it. There are still several months before that issue will arise. But readers, that is me. I am constantly thinking way in advance. One time my dad called me a worry wort, for as a child I would think of all the things that could go wrong in a given situation and bore my parents with them. Now I bore my friends – ha ha.

Until next Wednesday, enjoy your weekend, stay well, and happy reading.

Worried about a possible neurological problem

Greetings, readers. Last night, for the second time in about a week, I had a startling and unsettling thing happen to me. Both times I was almost asleep when I felt what I can only describe as a gun shot go off inside my head. No pain or pressure with it, just a loud bang. Both times it jolted me awake. I sat up, I looked around, and I told myself it must have been a car or truck’s backfire. But you know what? I don’t think it was. I must go back to the fact that it felt internal. I know the brain can do very strange things. But can it give me the sensation of a shot? I’m not so sure.

As some of you know, I’m on quite a bit of medication for seizures, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this a new side effect of some kind. If it happens again, I’m going to contact my neurologist and see what he has to say about it. I’ve always been the kind of person throughout my life to over-react to almost everything. However, as I understand it, one of the symptoms before either a stroke or a brain hemorrhage is pain in the head followed by this kind of exploding sound. This hypochondriac is gong to keep his finger on the problem.

This concludes this Thursday blog entry, because Rebecca and I have phone calls to make and then I’m going to continue to compile more entries from the blog for the new book.

Until tomorrow, take care, enjoy your day, and happy reading.

I’ve been enjoying old school football games lately

Greetings, readers. I must say thank you so much to YouTube’s members. Over the past month I have been happily enjoying watching many college and NFL football games in their entirety and without commercials. The 1984 Orange Bowl comes to mind as one of my favorites, as well as many of the Oklahoma versus Texas Red River Shootout Games, played in Dallas in the Cotton Bowl. Every year, these two teams flip-flop being the home team, for this stadium is half-way between the university cities. People come from all over the country the state fair and this football game, which has been played for over a hundred years.

On the professional side, I’ve watched the Freezer Bowl, the San Diego Chargers versus the Cincinnati Bangles, in the early 80s. The temperature that day in Cincinnati was below zero and the wind chill made it feel far worse than that. Still the stadium was packed. Those were football fans.

I’ve also enjoyed a number of old Super Bowls. The one I watched most recently was the Minnesota Vikings versus the Miami Dolphins. A couple of these wonderful videos are played in stadiums that no longer exist. I think that is why I like them. I didn’t realize until recently just how old school I am. I love old cars, old shows, old everything. It’s funny; I like my technology, I think I would die without my PS3, but something keeps calling me back to those good old days.

Back in the 70s and early 80s, the North American Soccer League, or NASL, was rather popular. I found some games from that league and enjoyed them immensely. My dad taught me to love soccer, or football as it is called in the rest of the world.

Lastly, if you were a United States Football League fan, there are tons of games to choose from. Popular teams with the most videos are the two-time champions Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, the New Jersey Generals, and the Michigan Panthers. No, play was not as good as in the NFL, but I loved it. The league folded after only three seasons. There is talk of it making a comeback one day. It was supposed to begin two years ago; it keeps being delayed. I don’t see that as a good sign of organization. If any of my readers just happened to be associated with the new USFL, I have two words for you: Please don’t. It would probably fail faster than the first league did.

There are many other things on YouTube besides sports that I enjoy and I will fill you in on those in a future entry. Until Friday, take care, enjoy the warmer weather, and happy reading.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Greetings, readers. An interesting thing happened to me last evening at the weekly church dinner. I don’t go to it very often, but I really enjoy the spaghetti dinner with all the fixings. I met someone there who I can honestly say gave me such an emotional high that I had to come home and analyze what happened. Let me explain.

While trying to find a table to sit at, I happened to come upon a very sweet lady. Her name is Rose. Now, I don’t talk to people confidently the first time I meet them. I’m either nervous or flustered. But with Rose, it felt like all the shields came down and I could talk to her as though I had known her for years. She went to sit at her table and I sat at my table. I conversed with my friend Terry, my good friend from my apartment building, while we ate. I finished before he did and I took my plates up to the dirty dishes bin. I just happened to see this dazzling young lady again. As chance would have it, with my memory issue that I call oatmeal brain, I was fully ready to admit that I had forgotten her name. To my surprise, and I must admit to my delight, she told me that she had forgotten mine. This gave me an opportunity to ask for hers again. After she told me – I was in the process of shaking her hand and was gently holding it – I said, “I know how I am going to remember your name. You are as pretty as a rose.” Unless I totally misread her facial expression, I think she was impressed. Again, I’m not dashing or debonair with strangers of the opposite gender, but every once in a while I can be.

On my walk home, I knew I wasn’t in love, but for the first time I understood the feeling that people have when they do experience love at first sight. I was on an emotional high. I could not stop thinking about this absolutely gorgeous woman. Am I going to the church dinner next week? You better believe it. In my current situation, I think the best thing I can hope for is a very good friend. For one thing, I’m not going to take for granted that she would be interested in me, although there is only one way to find out. For another thing, with my financial situation the way it is, I just don’t see marriage in my future.

Now I know what you are thinking. I just met her and I’m mentioning marriage in my blog the next day. Readers, you have to understand. I have very vivid imaginative daydreams. Whatever this friendship develops into, if anything, is going to be a very slow process. Over the years, I’ve scared women by going too quickly and lost others by not going fast enough. As I told Rebecca earlier today, even if I get a good friend out of this, as a social media companion or a Panera coffee buddy, that’s okay by me. There is always room for one more friend.

Until next week, have a great weekend, take care and happy reading.