Had a wonderful visit with Dave

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Greetings, readers. From Thursday night until this Tuesday morning, I had my buddy and brother here visiting me. We watched old football games on YouTube, went out to eat, and chatted about everything so as to get caught up. It was a very satisfying five days. I always enjoy it when Dave visits, though he doesn’t get to visit very often because of his work schedule.

Thursday afternoon was filled with chores such as doing the laundry, making up the bed, and vacuuming. I wanted to have some resemblance to clean here in the apartment, which I affectionately call the swamp.

Dave arrived late on Thursday evening on the Megabus and I picked him up in front of the nearby bottle shop. It didn’t take long to get back home and the party began. We stayed up until 2:00 in the morning getting caught up. Not to sound negative, but that was a mistake. For those of you who read Rebecca’s review of my Friday show, you know that my energy was lacking. I was not, however, going to say, “Okay Dave, we’re home, go to bed.” That would have been rude as hell.

Saturday we went out to dinner at a local Indian restaurant before watching the Penn State football game. I was a little bit worried that my fiance Traci, and Dave for that matter, wouldn’t like Indian food. They loved it. I always get the same thing, creamy lentil beans over rice. Delicious.

At 8:00, Dave and I watched the Penn State versus Wisconsin game for the Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Penn State got their doors blown off in the first half. So much so, that David got disgusted and went to bed. I stayed up and watched the come back of the century. When we won the game, I had to be quiet instead of cheering like I normally would. Next morning I told Dave what he had missed and he informed me that he knew we had won by all the hopping and hollering outside, as students gathered in the streets downtown to celebrate. Unfortunately, that turned into a destructive riot in some spots.

On Sunday, Dave went to visit family and returned on Monday for our final full day. The week was fairly uneventful but most enjoyable. Traci enjoyed his visit as well, for she loves the family. She and I plan to visit them in New Jersey sometime in February, weather permitting, on another one of his long weekends. We’ll already looking forward to that.

Next week we’ll have two blog entries for you written here at the office. A special thank you to Rebecca for her show review, which was extremely kind and forgiving. Until next week, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Joe gave a personal and memorable show last Friday

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Joe will remember December 2, 2016 for the rest of his life.

One of the reasons for that is the Going for Broke show, as he called it, that he performed in the community room of Addison Court for friends and a few special people. Regular readers know that David Trost, his buddy from childhood who he considers to be a brother, came to visit for a few days. Joe was happy to have Dave here for one of his shows. In attendance were also Joe’s girlfriend Traci and Traci’s sister and nephew. Joe included songs in the playlist for them and the show was one of his most personal performances. He shared with the audience that his first show was for his family when he was 10 years old, and he still enjoyed doing them for friends and loved ones. I will get into his actual show in a moment, after I talk about the special event in the middle of it, which is the main reason Joe will remember this day.

Joe finished his first set with a special song for Traci from the Rocky movie soundtrack, “You Take My Heart Away” by DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford. Joe sang this love song directly to Traci, and she got tears in her eyes. He finished singing, then got something from the next room. Joe approached her chair, got down on one knee, and proposed to a very surprised Traci while her family shared the moment. Traci joyfully said yes. There was a break in the show, while pictures were taken and congratulations were said. The second set, understandably, was a little difficult for him to focus on for a couple of songs.

The first set was tighter than the second set. Joe started the show with three TV show theme songs, from Eight is Enough, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Love Boat. The first two themes are about family and the third is about finding love, which set the tone for the show. His next two songs were “Shout It Out” by B.T. Express and “Show Me the Way” by Peter Frampton. Then he performed the first of two Pat Benatar songs, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” after observing that he also does songs by female artists. He had two songs to honor family members. “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks was a request from Traci’s sister, and “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed from the soundtrack for Smokey and the Bandit was for Dave. He finished the set with three love songs that he sang with great feeling, obviously for Traci. “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille, “(Do You Love Me) Just Say Yes” by Highway 101 proceeded the above mentioned “You Take My Heart Away.”

Joe was nervous leading up to the proposal, but he was able to focus on his performance as he cued up his playlist selections on his computer, sang, and periodically added some air guitar and air drums. The second set did not go so well, and he almost canceled it at one point.

Joe was running his playlist off a website called Spotify, and needed an internet connection to play the songs. Because of some work being done in a nearby room, the connection he was using was off at the end of his break. We waited fifteen minutes, and then the show was able to begin again. Joe still had challenges. Last October, Joe was forced to postpone this show because of a sinus infection. Even though he is over it now, he was not able to rehearse as much as usual, and he forgot the lyrics a few times. He is also still recovering his energy and endurance and sat down for most of the second set. He said he was embarrassed, but we in the audience assured him we didn’t care if he sat, we just wanted him to be okay. He was still a little rattled, and had to start one of the songs twice to get the lyrics right. And then an employee brought in a big bin that had to be stored in the closet behind Joe, so he had to stop singing. With all these issues, it was not one of Joe’s favorite performances. But he persisted and gave his audience a second set.

He began it with a song for Dave, “Just Fishin'” by Trace Adkins, which was the song Dave danced to with his daughter at her wedding reception. It was a touching tribute to his buddy/brother. He sang “Foolish Beat” by Debbie Gibson, followed by the second Pat Benatar song, “Heartbreaker.” Then Joe took out a picture of his niece for a song that he first heard when he was spending time with her one summer and sang “Pieces of Me” by Ashlee Simpson. Her photo stayed up for the rest of the show. His next two songs were for the holiday season, “Silver and Gold” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” both by Burl Ives. Joe’s next song, “Clyde” by Waylon Jennings, was added just five days before, but Joe knew it so well that he sang it perfectly. He finished the show with the two songs “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra and “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins.

Joe may have had problems in the second set, but he succeeded in giving us in his audience a personal show that touched the heart.

David arrives tonight. Yay!

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Greetings, readers. It has been a year and a half since my buddy and brother David has visited me from New Jersey. I always love it when he comes because we’ll sit and chat, get caught up, watch movies, and play video games. This time around I have some plans made for Friday and Saturday evening with friends whom David hasn’t seen in a number of years. Everyone is looking forward to it.

There’s always a lot to do to get ready for Dave but I love it. Being a bachelor, I sometimes let the place go and use the bedroom for storage. That has to change for five days. Now the question becomes, where do I put it all? Don’t worry, I’ll find a place. It’s not horrible swamped with stuff. After the Christmas season is over, I plan on doing a winter cleaning which will involve letting some things go that are dear to me. I don’t like it, I don’t think anyone likes it, but in a small apartment it is necessary. I already have a few ideas of items that will not make the cut, such as books and DVDs that I never use.

After David goes back home on Tuesday, I will meet my friend Jim as usual at Denny’s and then on Wednesday morning get ready for Rebecca to arrive and start another work week. It’s going to be a fast long weekend, and if it is anything like last time, I’m going to need a holiday from my holiday. That is fine with me because Dave and I are not the kind of people who just sit and let time go by, and call that a vacation. If I want to relax with a book or a meditation video, I can do that on my own time.

The last time Dave came, bizarrely enough, we watched Disney movies. I didn’t think I was going to like them. “Dave, these are for kids,” I said. We had a blast. I am hoping, however, that we chose something slightly different for our entertainment this time around. Netflix has lots to offer, and, of course, there is also the Big Ten championship game on Saturday.

Well, there’s what’s happening. We will have two more entries for you next week and I’ll share all the news from Dave’s visit. Until next week, have a wonderful weekend, take care, and happy reading.

I am being a procrastinator before David’s visit

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Greetings, readers. With David’s impending visit less than two days away, I am still struggling to get certain areas of the small apartment ready. I’ve already blocked off this evening and perhaps overnight to tidy up. Now I’ll tell you why I’m kicking myself. I’ve known when David is arriving for several weeks and I just sat here; reading my book and watching TV, YouTube, or Netflix. I always do this.

For future reference, I am going to talk to my therapist for suggestions and tips on how to get ready for guests in the future. Later in the year, David’s daughter Emily and her friends wish to visit, and if I don’t have them stay in a hotel, this place is going to have to be spotless. As most of my regular readers know, I am not a spotless person. I suffer from low energy and stamina. Some folks can start at 9:00 in the morning and clean all day until the work is done. Not I. I have to work in spurts, and Lord help me if I sit down and turn on any entertainment because I won’t get back to my chores for hours.

Now that I know it is crunch time, I’m confident that my adrenaline will kick in and I will be able to do the chores I need to do before David arrives tomorrow night. Rebecca and I will work tomorrow and I’ve already bracketed off the rest of that day to finish cleaning, do laundry, buy snacks, etc. It’s going to be an awesome visit.

On Friday is my musical performance along with a surprise. It is going to be a great afternoon. Saturday, Traci and I are taking David to an Indian restaurant nearby for his pre-birthday dinner. And at 8:00, the Penn State football team will play for the Big Ten Championship. Go Lions! Sunday and Monday will be our quiet days, visiting with Traci, watching movies, or playing video games. Dave will depart on Tuesday, because we both have to work on Wednesday. I’m going to need a weekend to rest from my weekend.

That’s all the news for today. Either Rebecca or I will have another blog entry for you tomorrow. I bid you a great day, take care, and happy reading.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone

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Greetings, readers. It is the day before Thanksgiving 2016 and I am in a happy mood. My anger earlier this week from my Zipcar debacle has faded and thoughts have turned to the holiday season. As I’ve mentioned before this is my favorite time of year. I love to watch my Thanksgiving Day parade, enjoy a scrumptious turkey dinner with all the trimmings, take a nap and then begin to decorate the apartment.

Decorating will be a slow process this year because I have to find where some decorations were stored. My manger set’s box came apart last year and I have forgotten where I put the manger pieces. I’m sure I will find them. I know exactly where my lights are; they are in a big bag in the walk-in closet. Unfortunately, I think all four strands are together in a tangled mess. If I cannot untangle it, or if too many bulbs are broken, I might just go to CVS and buy new ones. Other small trinkets, such as stockings, wooden houses, and glowing snow globes are easy to find and put up.

Yummy holiday delights such as candy canes and eggnog are in stores for the offing. I’m not too big a fan of candy canes, but I love eggnog. I have to watch how much I drink because it is very rich, not to mention fattening. Hell, it’s once a year, I don’t care.

When I was much younger, my family would cook a turkey and the house would smell wonderful. As all of you know, I don’t cook, so Traci and I are going to go with her family friends to the Nittany Lion Inn for their buffet dinner. That means no leftovers, but I can deal with that. If there are any football games left to watch when I get home, I will sit down and do so. That is also part of my family holiday tradition.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is always the day when I begin playing Christmas music. I know some restaurants have already started, but I wait until after Thanksgiving. I don’t want to rush the year away.

That’s my holiday tradition in a nutshell. I bid you all a wonderful happy Thanksgiving. We’ll see you next week. Take care, and as always, happy reading.

Surprise! A Tuesday blog entry :-)

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Greetings, readers. Yesterday was a hectic mess and almost a disaster. I took a good friend, Becky, to the train station. Traci went with us too. It was supposed to be a stress free day, but it didn’t turn out that way. It was cold, very windy and the Zipcar I was supposed to obtain was not there when I needed it.

After 30 minutes of speaking to several agents, I was finally able to get a car. Traci, Becky, and I got on the road a little bit late and with frayed nerves, but ready to enjoy the 40 minute ride. The speed limit was higher than I expected – 70 MPH – so the trip went by faster than I thought it would. We were in Tyrone in no time and having an early dinner at the Burger King. There weren’t many people there, so we were able to get our food quickly. After finding a table, we sat down to a nice meal and interesting conversation.

We had about an hour to kill, so we didn’t rush eating our meal. I sipped my coffee and relaxed. After sitting and talking it was finally time to go. None of us wanted to go back out into the cold and wind. I was severely under dressed, only wearing a shirt and hoodie. I ran to the car, unlocked it and started the engine. It took a few minutes before the heat was able to blast through the vents. It was just a short drive from the restaurant to the train depot. I kept the car running so that we would all stay warm while we waited for the Amtrak train.

There was only one problem, Becky’s train was a late. She got updates on her cell phone. As a matter of fact, the train was getting later by the minute. Something was wrong. As it turned out her train was being held up by another train that was having difficulties. I thought that’s what the problem was, but I didn’t want to tell Becky my guess earlier because I didn’t want to worry her. I was sad when Traci and I had to leave to get back to town on time. There was no place for Becky to keep warm, just a little shelter by the train tracks. I would have stayed, but I had only reserved the car until 6:30. We did the best we could.

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

Health insurance is expensive

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Greetings, readers. I am continuing the search for affordable health insurance. The options are bleak. If I do nothing and let my policy ‘roll over’ my premium will jump from the $400 range to the high $600 range. That is not acceptable to me. With the help of Rebecca I have been looking on the computer at different companies and not finding much of a lower price. Very bleak.

What to do? I have a couple of options. I can drop my coverage and pay the penalty, which my accountant says I shouldn’t do in case I get really hurt or sick and need the hospital – that could ruin me in a manner of days – or I can keep hunting until I find something that I deem acceptable. I really don’t want to pay anything higher than $500 a month. I might not have a choice.

From what I understand, the effects of Obamacare AKA the Affordable Care Act really kicked in this past year, causing higher prices when insurance companies saw their profits dwindle. If Obamacare is repealed, I understand that a lot of people might lose their coverage completely, but something has to be done. There must be a solution to have everyone covered for a decent fair price.

Okay, I’m done ranting and raving. I have an appointment with my accountant shortly, so we must close this entry to have time to edit it.

I bid you all a great weekend. Take care, and as always, happy reading.

Still trying to figure out my life

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Greetings, readers. I shall try not to bore you with my depression, and actually I’m not even sure it is depression. I am experiencing low energy levels and I am taking more naps than usual. I would consider my diet mediocre at best; more protein might help, as would less junk food. Still not having a job is weighing heavily on my mind. I was hoping to be gainfully employed last August. But that opportunity fell through. As we approach late fall and early winter, it seems all the jobs in town are taken.

It could be the fact that my medications are making me sleepy, or a case of mild depression, but I am now averaging two naps per day. Way too much sleep. Recently I just finished watching over 100 episodes of the new Hawaii Five-O, each episode about 45 minutes long, in a three-week period. Imagine if all those evenings were spent writing creatively. I might have 100 pages. But no, I was entertained, but nothing with my name on it came from it.

As I’ve asked myself before, do I still wish to be a writer? Yes. I do not wish to be a non-writer who wrote three books and a play. If that is all the Lord wanted me to do in the creative writing realm, I wish He would let me know. I’m not sure what else I would be passionate about. I wanted to be an airplane pilot as a child, but health issues put an end to that at age 16. I’m sure one of these days soon, I’ll find a job at one of the local stores. What I should do is get up at 6:00, plant my butt in a chair at 7:00, and write until 9:00. But no, I check Facebook, I check Twitter, I play Train Simulator, and 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil soccer.

Sometimes when I am depressed I can actually imagine myself in a nursing home, sitting in a chair, watching TV or listening to music. When I used to visit my father at the local nursing home, I could tell how depressed he was. He tried to hide it, but he couldn’t. He was in his 70s when he went in. I fear because of my monetary situation and handicaps that I might have to go to assisted living much earlier.

On a brighter note, the Penn State football team won another game and they are well on their way to a New Year’s Day bowl game. Yay, Coach Franklin and team.

Next week we will be working on Wednesday and taking off Thursday for Thanksgiving. I will put up at least one blog entry and possibly two.

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

Finished binge watching Hawaii Five-O

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Greetings, readers. Three weeks ago I started watching the new Hawaii Five-O on Netflix streaming. I had purposely not watched this series before now because I was a huge fan of the original 1968 show. I knew I would compare them, and that Jack Lord’s version would win out. Did it? Yes. However, after binge watching all six complete seasons of the current re-boot, I must confess I actually like it.

The main character, Steve McGarrett, played by Alex O’Loughlin, is a control freak nut. He has to drive Danny’s car and make the final decision on everything. The constant bickering between McGarrett and Danny Williams, played by Scott Caan, almost made me stop watching after season two. I just had to accept that was that the way the writers decided to write the dynamic of these two characters. Now, I’m used to it and expect it. In the early years, they hated one another, but after all the countless cases and sticky situations, they are good partners and have each other’s backs.

The character Kono Kalakaua is played by Grace Park. She does a marvelous job as the former professional surfer turned cop. In the original series Kono was played by a man. CBS must have thought that they needed at least one female in the main cast of the re-boot. In later seasons, Catherine Rollins, played by Michelle Borth, officially joined the cast as a Five-0 member, so the push to have a 50-50 mix was on. I give that a thumb’s up.

When a person binge watches a show, something to look for is how fast the children grow up. Teilor Grubbs plays Danny Williams’ daughter Grace. It has been interesting to watch the changes in the child actress as well the character. The character was about 8 years old when the series began and is now approximately 15 years old in the current season now running on CBS. In season six, Danny Williams found out that he also has a three-year old son named Charlie that his ex-wife kept from him. Mid-way through the series Danny and Rachel got back together briefly. Now Danny has a son.

New characters that weren’t in the old series are Kamekona, played by Taylor Wily, and his cousin Flippa, played by Shawn Mokuahi Garnet. Two big boys with big hearts and a keen eye for business. Sometimes they are used for comic relief.

Mid-way through the series, actor Chi McBride joined the cast as Lt Lou Grover. A passionate man who cares deeply about his family and turns into a grizzly bear when they are in danger. The series has had several Lou Grover heavy episodes and I find Mr. McBride’s acting to be outstanding. Probably the best actor of the cast.

Another impressive aspect of the show is the theme song. Yes it is the classic, written by Morton Stevens but it is faster and shorter. The first time I heard it my reaction was you’ve got to be kidding. Now, I like it almost as much as the original. Who knew?

Let’s talk about the cars for a minute. From Dan Williams’ Camaro and Chin Ho Kelly’s vintage Mustang to Steve McGarrett’s father’s Mercury Grand Marquis, cars are a big draw to me in this series. I adore the fact that the Mercury is either the car that was used in the later years of the original series or is a duplicate. As most of you know, I am a big car nut and the fact that they transition the old series to the new with that car makes me happy every time I see it on the road. The story line is that it is constantly being worked on, which is why you only see it being driven two or three times.

Finally, the series is shot on location in Hawaii as was the classic series, adding to the show’s authentic look. The state has a variety of climates, so it is easy when they need to look like they are in a different country, like China or Colombia, to choose a nearby location and have it look pretty close to the local they need to be in. In HD, the scenery is brilliant and stunning. If I had to knock off a half a point, I would do so for way too many beach scenes. I don’t need to see woman in bikinis in the opening shot of every episode.

My final rating for this series: a very solid 9 out of 10.

Rebecca suggested I look for season seven on demand. I’m going to do just that. This is a wonderful show; much better than I expected. I don’t know if it will last eleven seasons like the original did, but I’m hoping for at least one more. Go H5-O.

Until next week, we bid you a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

The United States of America has chosen their President

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Greetings, readers. I never thought it possible that a person with no political experience and no military service could obtain the White House, but that’s exactly what happened. Shortly after 3AM, Donald J. Trump became President-Elect of the United State of America. When sworn in, he will be the country’s 45th President.

I knew things were brewing at 9:20 last evening when I saw on a man’s laptop at Denny’s, that Trump owned the entire part of the country known as tornado alley. That’s when I knew Hillary Clinton was in for a dog fight. I still believed she would win.

By the time I got home at ten o’clock, the electoral college was 163 to 109 for Trump, and my hopes of being able to say that I was alive when the first woman President was elected were fading fast.

I watched the NBC broadcast from 10:00 until 3:15, when Donald Trump made his acceptance speech. Even though it pains me to say it, his speech was gracious and eloquent. He thanked Mrs. Clinton on her hard-fought campaign, as well as his family and all the workers who helped him. After the, “We’re going to make America great again,” part of his speech, I went to bed.

What does a Donald Trump Presidency mean to our country if his temper and mouth explode? Well…, it will mean loss of allies for certain, and in the worst-case-scenario, a war with an angered foreign country. Let’s hope that does not happen. Please, President-Elect Trump, let cooler heads prevail. War is never the answer.

We’ll have to see if Mr. Trump can make good on his promises to the people. I’m not sure he can. I just don’t think he can ‘play together with others’ well enough. We’ll see how he responds the first time he doesn’t get what he wants. Time will tell.

Until tomorrow, I bid you a good day, take care and happy reading.