From Rebecca: Yes, another one from me

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As Joe wrote yesterday, he has a follow-up doctor’s appointment for the foot he hurt in a fall last week, so I am bringing you today’s blog post. It seems like I have been doing this a lot in the last couple of months, for one reason or another, starting with Joe’s annual trip to Bear Spring Camps in Maine and then both of us have had some personal appointments on Thursdays. I like writing here, but I am aware that regular readers probably come for Joe’s unique voice and what he shares on this blog page.

Those of you who are long-time readers know that this is not our normal pattern, we usually go a month or so between From Rebecca posts, and Joe does both the entries each week. Life is hectic for us right now, and Joe’s job at a fast food restaurant has pulled a lot of his energy and time, but I do expect us to go back to the normal writing schedule soon.

I first met Joe in high school and we remained friends since then. I became his writing assistant in 2010, mainly to type for him as his cerebral palsy makes it slow and difficult for him to do that task for his writing work. He started this blog in December of 2011, with him dictating, me typing, and both of us editing. We have a good system down that we have used to put at least one new blog entry on this site every week for almost six years. I am very proud of that, and I know that Joe is too. When I post this entry, if will be the 654th one on this blog site.

We see from this site’s statistics that daily views are steadily getting higher. Joe has big spikes in views once in a while, usually when he writes something about Bear Spring Camps and links it to their Facebook page, but it looks like some people are staying around after the surges. To all of you who are long-term readers, thank you so much, we really appreciate you coming here so long. To all of you who are newer readers, welcome, and we hope you enjoy the voice and topics so much that you stick around.

Joe will be back next week, and as far as we know now, he will do the blog entry for both Wednesday and Thursday. As he would say, until then, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

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Out of the Park Baseball 18 is a hoot

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Greetings, readers. About a month ago I purchased from Steam a really good-looking baseball video game. I watched the trailer, and thought to myself, that’s for me. The price was right, and I love sports games, so I clicked purchase and downloaded it. My fun was just beginning.

Obviously I was going to take a good look around the game to see what it had to offer. I quickly learned that the graphics when playing a game are something from the 1990s. That, my readers, is this game’s only downfall. OOTPB18 more than makes up for the bad graphics with every conceivable statistic you could want and several game modes you can choose from. You can be the manager of the team or the general manager and hire and fire as you see fit. You can play a season from any year 2017 all the way back to the beginnings of baseball, including the Negro leagues. I’m not certain if all the correct players are there since the Negro leagues were before my time, but I imagine that they have as many correct names as they could find, with all appropriate statistics. There is an on-line mode which someday I will try out and all major league teams have their own appropriate farm systems in place. lt is such fun to watch the Portland Sea Dogs – the Boston Red Sox AA team – play a season.

Now, for my favorite part. You can create your own league. When I saw this, I went bananas. I spent an entire evening putting together my new league. The NABL, or North American Baseball League. I have two teams in Mexico, one in Cuba, and yes, Montreal has a team again, the Montreal Mounties. With me being from Pittsburgh, you just know I had to have a team representing my home city. The Pittsburgh Steel Hounds got off to an 8-2 start and have fallen on hard times since. I tried to renegotiate a new contract with my best player and when he didn’t respond, I withdrew the offer, intending to make it better, but to my surprise and utter disappointment, he, “will no longer negotiate with this team.” Now I know how George Steinbrenner felt.

Another cool feature is the daily news page, complete with newspaper, all the leagues’ activities, team injuries, and standings. It’s your whole league in a nutshell. This is what I do when I get up in the morning; I check my team’s page as I sip my morning coffee.

Also, there is a fantastic feature called real-time simulation. When activated, the games will be played at true-to-life speed. You see just the box scores in this mode, which in itself is intriguing. If there is a pitching change needed in any of the games, there will be a pause of a few minutes. That is how real this game is. If you choose to view the game, it will speed up again.

This is one of those games that I am going to discover something new about a month from now. It is never going to get old to me. Me and my North American Baseball League will be very happy I’m sure for many seasons to come.

Here is my final score, no pun intended. Graphics: 4 out of 10. On-line mode: bravo, lets give that a 10. Statistics: 10. Ease of Operation: 9. Features: 9.5. Bringing the final score to a 8.5.

A side note for you. Because of my fall last week I have a follow-up doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning. I didn’t want to take another personal day, but I also don’t want to damage the foot if there is something wrong that can be taken care of now. Rebecca will have another blog up tomorrow, and I will be back next week, hopefully for both blog days.

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

From Rebecca: Top something list of businesses no longer in State College

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This is not the typical top ten list that you are used to reading here. I had the idea of a list of businesses that used to be in State College, but aren’t any more, but when I talked it over with Joe and my husband Darren the three of us came up with more than ten. I tried to write the post in prose form instead of a list, but that version was soooo dry and boring. So I went back to list form, but the list is not an even ten, and is in categories, so it is a top something list. They are in no particular order and I will start with #1 and go down to #6, the number of categories I reached.

State College is a busy, thriving place. It is the main campus for the Pennsylvania State University, it has a steady local community, and is surrounded by a lot of small towns with people who drive in for various reasons. We have had a lot of businesses come and stand for decades, some have come and lasted for many years, and some have come and gone so fast that they barely made a ripple. The reasons these businesses left State College are many, from the owner(s) retiring, to the money running out, to the rents rising too high, to the lease not being renewed, to society moving on to another form of entertainment, etc. All three of us grew up in this area and remember a lot of changes over the years.

#1. Businesses in downtown State College a long time ago, that left a long time ago: Danks department store; a five and dime store that I think was G. C. Murphy; four or five movie theaters, including The Garden and The Movies; Svoboda’s Books; and video game arcades, including Playland and Campus Casino.

#2. Businesses outside downtown a long time ago that left a long time ago: A&P grocery store; Riverside grocery store; A&W Root Beer stand; Hills (the Hills Plaza is still there with other businesses in it, but the main building is sadly sitting empty after all these years); K-Mart (I sometimes give directions to people using the phrase, “Past where K-Mart used to be, even though it left State College a few decades ago;) and Hardee’s.

#3. Businesses in the Nittany Mall (I haven’t been there for a while, alas, so this is an old list): Sun Coast Video; Gee Bee department store; KB Toys; and B-Dalton.

#4. Businesses that Darren, Joe, or I have worked that are no longer here: CiCi’s Pizza; Kentucky Fried Chicken; BiLo Foods and then Jubilee grocery stores; Ponderosa Steakhouse (I still miss their food so much); Shoney’s restaurant; and (I worked at B-Dalton too, but I decided to put that in the Nittany Mall entry.)

#5. Businesses we lost in the last 1 or 2 years (many of these were sudden and unexpected): Denny’s; Eat’n Park; Don Patron (our favorite Mexican restaurant;) Mario & Luigi’s; and Chili’s Grill & Bar.

#6. Businesses we lost in the last 15 to 20 years (assuming my memory for time is correct): Arby’s; Nittany Line Hobbies & Toys; Starlite Drive-In theater;O.W. Houts & Sons; Blockbuster Video; and Hollywood Video.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Most of these places are on my list because they meant something to me, I used to go there a lot, or they were part of the landscape of State College. Are there businesses you can think of that I didn’t mention, from State College or from where you live, that you would like to share with us? Please feel free to share in our comments. We love hearing from you.

Joe will be back next Wednesday with a new blog entry. Until then, as he would say, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Yesterday’s injury could have been a lot worse

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Greetings, readers. After a successful work shift, I met Traci at Panera, as I normally do. While I was there, I realized I needed a jug of milk. There is small market down the block from where we were. Traci and I finished eating and visiting around 5:00. I started on the down slope for what was going to be a quick trip for my grocery. Our area had a strong rain storm in the morning, and the sidewalk was still slick. I walked halfway to my destination when I felt my left foot start to slid on wet leaves, and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground. I kind of twisted on the way down, leading me to believe that I had either sprained my knee or leg, or the worst case scenario, broken my hip. Young college kids came running to my aid and told me to stay down, stay down. I was gladly willing to comply.

After I got over the initial embarrassment of the whole situation, I gently tried moving things, to see what might work and what might not. I was overjoyed when I could lift my left leg without screaming; no broken hip. One of the college kids called an ambulance for me, which I knew had to happen, but I also knew that the rest of my evening was going to be lost.

In the emergency room, I was given warm blankets and made as comfy as possible. Nurses and doctors came in, asked me for my name, rank and serial number and all the mundane things that happen at the ER.

Then it was off to X-ray. I could actually walk from the gurney to the X-ray table. I gave the technician a thumbs up. After all the pictures were taken, I was wheeled back to my ER room where I laid, and laid, and laid. After what seemed like forever, the doctor came in with the good news that nothing was broken and I was going to be discharged.

I began to walk very slowly to the ER entrance where my cab was waiting and I started to shake. I thought to myself, “This is not good, folks.” I asked for a wheelchair, and I was whisked away to the front door. I asked the cab driver to take me to a convenience store so I could finally get the jug of milk that the was the beginning of this whole fiasco. I asked him to wait for me, which he did, then he finally drove me back home.

I turned on the heater so I wouldn’t shiver, if I was still indeed in shock from the pain I was experiencing. After taking two Advil, I was able to get to sleep, then the alarm went off at 5:00 this morning, and I asked God just let me be able to walk on the foot. After hobbling on it a few steps, it seemed to loosen up and I could walk better on it. I consider myself lucky that I really don’t think I broke any bones. I truly believe all I have is a twisted knee and a pulled muscle or tendon in my foot, though I have some swelling on the top of my foot that I wonder about. I can rest my leg today and tomorrow, as I have days off from my fast food job anyway. Work will need me this weekend because of the Penn State home football game this Saturday. I can’t let them down. I will admit, I might have to ask for a chair before my shift is over.

As is becoming a weekly message, I once again send my prayers and good wishes to all those effected by extreme weather this week; the flooding in Asia, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the fires out west in the United States, and Hurricane Irma, which is in the Caribbean today and heading for Florida.

Well, there you have the grim news. As I said last week, I am taking a personal day tomorrow and Rebecca’s blog topic is a great one; I’m sure you will enjoy it. Until I write again next week, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Technology grrr 7

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Greetings, readers. This morning I was up at 5am as part of my new daily routine. I had the computer running by 5:15 and all was well. It had had some problems with running slowly yesterday, just like my old ASUS had before I got the Hewlett-Packard this past spring. Then this morning in the middle of doing something, the HP decided to have a mind of its own. With my Facebook page frozen and the control-alt-delete function not working, I had to do a hard shut-down; holding the on/off button in until it shut off. My new HP didn’t like it.

The first time it restarted normally but was running slower. Something was beginning to be amiss. When it froze a second time and I had to restart it, all it showed was the cursor twirling with the HP logo in the background and didn’t do anything else. I let it sit while I made coffee and got dressed. Still twirling. I went to the bathroom to wash up, came out, still twirling. After what seemed like forever, I did another hard shut down. I got out the old ASUS computer, and to show you what kind of morning this was, I couldn’t remember the old computer’s password. Grrr!

When I went to get my laundry, I was literally talking to myself in the hallway when Rebecca showed up. I think she got an internal chuckle. I told her what was wrong and asked her if she remembered the password. Luckily, she did. We were all set to do the blog entry on the old computer, when she noticed that the battery compartment was becoming extremely hot. I had her immediately shut it down and I unplugged it before taking the battery out. The fan is probably not working in it anymore. At that point I was beginning to think that the blog entry was going to have to be from Rebecca at her place.

I decided to give the new HP one last try. This time the screen said something like Automatic Repair in Progress. That looked promising. We waited to see what happened. It then gave a prompt to restart the computer, which we did. And to our delight, the new laptop is once again working normally. No delays, slowness, or freezing. I still don’t know what is causing the issues, however.

I did not get to listen to my music, I did not get to check Facebook and Twitter, and all the other websites I usually check before work hours. So frustrating. I’ve decided I am going to take the computer into Best Buy’s Geek Squad and say, “This computer is only roughly three months old, it should not be having these problems. What is going on?” The technician will probably say, “You have two programs fighting one another,” or “Hey look, we found a virus.” This issue is not life-threating to my computer, it is just damned annoying. When the computer is shut down the correct way, all programs are supposed to shut off. I don’t think that is always happening with my machine. There goes $60 for the service charge, even before they do anything to it.

Before I close, I wanted to take a minute to send out prayers and good wishes to the flood victims in Texas, Barbados (where a new storm is forming) and also the victims of flooding in Asia during a rather bad monsoon season. Best wishes go out to those victims and families.

Next week, we will be working Wednesday and I plan to take a personal day on Thursday. I might use that entire day to begin a writing project. I have some good ideas cooking in my brain. So until next week, have a great day, take care, and as always, happy reading.

I reconnected with a special friend recently

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Greetings, readers. For a couple of years now, on and off, I have been trying to reconnect with someone I met in junior college. Her name is Tess (last name withheld for privacy reasons). I last saw her in 2003 when she and her husband Chris came to my mother’s viewing; I don’t remember whether their two young children came with them or not. It is amazing that 14 years had passed since I had heard her bubbly cheerful voice. She is such an upbeat person and it is quite easy to make her laugh.

Over the past few years I had left messages on their answering machine with no reply. I figured either they have moved, switched numbers, or she had forgotten about me. The other day I called the number that I had in my cell phone and it was going to be for the final time. I was planning to erase the number if she didn’t call back within a couple of days.

My heart sank when the answering machine activated and I began to leave my message. To my happy surprise, Tess picked up and we couldn’t believe that we were speaking to one another once again. She had a couple of errands to run but definitely wanted me to call back later that evening. I, of course, cleared my evening calendar. I made sure my cell phone was charged, for Tess and I had a lot of catching up to do.

About 9:00 I called and she was there. Tess explained that she had to be in bed by 10:00 and I was thrilled that we would have a whole hour together. We reminisced, told jokes and stories, and did all the things that people do in the let’s-get-caught-up process. She told me that she never got my other messages, that her machine sometimes eats them. I told her that I wanted to see her and the family before winter time. She agreed, but no firm plans have been set yet. They live about 3 hours away from me and I will suggest that we meet about half-way. I am already eagerly anticipating that day.

To show you haw time flies, I asked her how old her children were. She said 21 and 24. I immediately went into my old man voice, and asked her if she had seen my dentures. She laughed hysterically. I will admit back in junior college I had a crush on Tess but she was taken and I respected that. I consider her one of my closest friends. She knows secrets about me that not many people know.

There are a few other people in my life that I would like to reconnect with and I hope to fulfill that dream one day. I’ll take those dreams one day at a time and finding Tess is one dream fulfilled.

That’s my big news and I will leave you with this. Major prayers go out to the flood victims and their families in the states of Texas and Louisiana. The pictures from the news are horrific and I plan to donate what I can to the appropriate Salvation Army. I am also inspired by the pictures of people who have helped other people, whether it be by using their boats to help rescue or by going out into the water to rescue people and animals themselves. I am glad to see that there is so much goodness and charity left in the world.

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

From Rebecca: The eclipse last Monday

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As most people in the world know, last Monday, August 21, 2017, the moon passed in front of the sun for a total eclipse. The path went over the United States and a lot of people went to places where they could experience the totality, some traveling for hours or even all day. Other areas not under the direct line got a partial eclipse. A lot of excitement built for the day. For weeks people on TV and the internet talked about it, and gave the same advice to not look at the sun without special glasses, to avoid eye damage and blindness.

I didn’t get special glasses or make a pinhole viewer, so I made sure not to look up at the sun during the partial eclipse that we got here in central Pennsylvania. I did see it get dim outside, and the light turned a strange yellow for a few minutes. Then it was back to normal again. Still kind of cool to join in with other people even that little bit.

I was interested enough to watch the coverage the network stations had on. They had correspondents in several towns on the totality line and would show what they experienced as the eclipse moved from west to east. I switched channels a bit, but mainly watched the NBC and ABC folks. The viewing audience and I watched people react to the sky turning dim, then dark, as they witnessed the moon move in front of the sun, obscure it, and then pop a ball of light from one side as the moon moved on to reveal the sun. I enjoyed watching the process, over and over, from each location. It looked magnificent.

There was a lot said and written about this event bringing people together for something other than anger, and it does seem like our nation put down its usual problems for one day to share in an amazing natural phenomenon. Something awesome and awe inspiring.

As Joe says, until next Wednesday, take care, have a great week, and happy reading.

Hectic day at work yesterday

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Greetings, readers. I was planning to have a top ten list of my pet peeves today, but I discovered that I had already created the list on August 22, 2012. Well, good news for you, I have another topic in mind and I think it will interest you.

Yesterday where I work we got slammed. There was a bomb scare at a nearby business, and all their workers were told that they could gladly come in to our place and spend their down time indoors and out of the rain. They arrived around 3:30 and stayed until almost 7:00. Working the register for me is usually a quiet time in between customers where I can restock things, wipe down tables, and think or meditate. No such thinking or meditation happened yesterday. It was literally non-stop action, and it was good, it gave me an introduction to what the Penn State football weekend is going to be like. We won’t even have time to breath.

When Wal-Mart was given the all clear, their workers profusely thanked us, gave us cupcakes, and departed. We thought we could stand down. LOL. I saw a school bus pull in. My manager’s heart sank, and one worker who was already cut had to sign back in.

The football team from Tyrone, Pennsylvania was in town for some function, complete with the entire cheerleading squad. I told my friend Tasha, “You work register two and take the cheerleaders. I’ll take the team on register three.” We got them in and out in approximately 40 minutes. Not too shabby. When it was all over, and the high-fives were being given out, I realized something at the same time my manager did. I hadn’t made one mistake.

I think it was a combination of adrenalin and being hyper-focused. It was by far the most efficient I’ve ever worked on register. I would like to be that way every day, but I fear that I am one of those people who needs to be pushed to the limits before I shine.

After being cut for the evening, and knowing I had just missed a bus, I called a taxi cab. No waiting around for me, my feet were screaming obscenities at me and I wanted to get home. I work another five-hour shift today and then have two days off. I’m looking forward to that quite a bit.

On a side note, I’m no longer going to tell you, my readers, what is planned for the next blog, for half the time it doesn’t seem to work out. I can tell you one thing for sure though, I am taking a personal day tomorrow and Rebecca will be putting up the next blog entry with her own topic.

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

It has been an off morning for me

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Greetings, readers. I like to have a morning routine in place so I can do the things I need to do before Rebecca comes or before I go to work. This morning was not one of those mornings. It was about as topsy-turvy as it could be.

First of all, I did not sleep very well last night which prompted me to want to sleep past my usual wake up time. Then I went to take meds only to discover that I had no milk, which I need for these pills. Off I walked to the convenience store. When I got back from that, my sinuses decided to say,”Let’s run away.” And they ran and ran and ran. Thank goodness the end of the allergy season is coming soon. By the time I took my meds and got my allergies under control, it was going on 9:00. Rebecca arrives at 9:45. I had precious little time to do more than to check Facebook, Twitter, and other such sites.

The current time as I dictate this is 11:00 and my morning seems to be back on track. When I was at camp, I would awaken around 5:30, much earlier than usual. A couple of mornings I would actually get into my rental car, drive to get my paper, and then continue driving around until time to pick up David for breakfast. A couple of mornings I took my meds at the Sweet Dreams convenience store about a mile and a half away from camp. Just like in any coffee shop, there were daily locals who would sit, have their coffee and talk about the goings on of the day. They allowed me into their circle, asked me where I was from, and how my week at camp was progressing. That was nice of them, they made me feel welcome.

I have an appointment this afternoon across the street, where construction on the sidewalk is going on in front of the business. I thought I would have to cancel because it looked like I couldn’t enter the building. I called and found out there is indeed an entry way to their front door. I will be able to keep my appointment. My afternoon is looking better than my morning. After my appointment, I will get together with Traci for coffee, and then I will have a free evening. I am already planning to turn in extra early tonight. I see bed coming around 9:30 or 10:00.

I know this wasn’t the most exciting blog entry ever written, but it was what happened for me today, and that is what a blog is for. To get you, my readers, up to date on what is happening with me, and sometimes Rebecca.

Before I close, my prayers go out to all those touched by violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Next Wednesday I will have a top ten list ready for you. So until then, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.