Monthly Archives: January 2012

Getting ready for the weekend

Hi Folks. As I get ready for company coming in for the weekend, my attention will be on them and not on my writing. I do have some good ideas, so that when I return on Tuesday or Wednesday, blog posts will return with a vengeance.

From what I understand, the weather here in central Pennsylvania is not going to cooperate with any outdoor activities. But there will be plenty of food, beverages, tv shows, and PS3 games to keep us occupied. While I will be losing a couple of days of my normal writing routine, I think the break shall do me good.

The former head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, Joe Paterno, passed away this past Sunday. I have some feelings I’d like to share and will probably do so the first blog entry of next week.

I’m working on four hours of sleep today, because I just couldn’t turn off the brain last night. With my friends coming in I have a multitude of things to do to get ready. As I am prone to sleeplessness, thinking about things in the late evening is always a hazard. At 3am, I turned on Netflix and watched Cleopatra for a while. Wasn’t Liz Taylor beautiful back then? Then it was on to Madden 12 football. I lost.

I wish all of you a good weekend. Please feel free to leave comments and I shall respond to them. Until next week …

Sharing a story from my first book with you

As many of you may know, last year I published a book with, called Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories. Now that I have been blogging for a few weeks, I have decided to share one of the stories from the book. This is my favorite story of all of them.

Bear Spring Camps is a vacation spot located in Central Maine. I’ve been going there every year since 1970 and have accumulated many, many fun and intriguing stories. I shall share the link with you to this book and also let you know that Camp Book 2 is in the works. Just follow the link from the book title above for a better look.

Bear Spring Camps Tribute to My Mother

My mother, Dorothy Kockelmans, passed away on June 15, 2003. We were due to go to Bear Spring Camps in August – just two months away. I had never undertaken the arrangements for the Maine vacation before in my life. I was scared and very nearly called it off. But I said no, Mother would have wanted me to go. Not thinking that I could drive the 612 mile journey myself, I got on the computer and booked a cheap round trip airline ticket and a rental car.

When the time came, I flew into Bangor, Maine, picked up the car at the airport, drove an hour southbound on I-95, and arrived in Waterville at the same time my mother and I normally would have when we drove the whole way up from Pennsylvania. Next stop, Bear Spring Camps.

Continue reading Sharing a story from my first book with you

A Morbid Facsination

For many years I have been fascinated, sometimes to a morbid extent, with tragedies. Some which I have studied via reading materials, films, and documentaries are the sinking of the Titanic, the events of 9/11, and air tragedies, including TWA 800 and Pan Am 103.

I have thought many times, why should I have such a morbid fascination with such things which involve people’s suffering? I suppose in a way that it is human nature. Every time someone is out on a window ledge, a crowd gathers around to see if that person will jump or get saved. Now I’m not a jumper watcher; my fascination has always been aircraft.

As mentioned in the last blog entry just briefly, I have been watching episodes of a show called Air Crash Investigation. It documents numerous air tragedies over the years, some with favorable outcomes, and others disastrous.

I’m not certain if it is knowledge I seek or whether I am simply trying to determine what I would do differently. How would I have prevented the crash or accident? I know for a fact that studying the Titanic documentation, the one thing I would not have done would be to put the engines into reverse, slowing down the reaction time. For those of you who have read my blog post about Air Florida Flight 90, I believe that you’ll agree that several mistakes were made causing the crash of that Boeing 737. It seemed that with that particular incident that the more I watched and learned, the angrier I became. The incident that got me the angriest, however, was Pan Am 103.

Pan Am 103 was a flight that on December 21, 1988 was heading home to New York from London, England. A bomb brought that aircraft down over Lockerbie Scotland, killing everyone on board and many on the ground. Later, I found out that Pan Am knew about a bomb threat to that specific flight, told some people, but did not give everyone the option of boarding or not boarding the flight.

TWA 800 took off from New York heading for Europe Paris, France one fateful evening and exploded at 24,000 feet. The nose section detached leaving both pieces to fall to the burning water with everyone still in the plane. No survivors. Months later it was determined that a bomb did not bring it down, but simply faulty wiring near the center gas tank of the more than 20-year-old 747.

Back to my original point of my personal morbid fascination with these stories. When watching these documentaries, I suppose I am not only seeking knowledge but the junior private investigator in me comes out. I just want to understand it from every angle – the whys, the hows, the whens, the conditions leading up to these events. Perhaps in my 20s I should have gone to work for the National Transportation Safety Board. When my health failed and my dream of being a pilot were dashed, then perhaps I could have helped to keep planes safe by working for the NTSB.

Just the other day I read an on-line article about the cruise ship which sank off the Italian coast. The captain abandoned ship and refused orders to go back to it, which I find to be a cowardly act.

Is this all just me wishing knowledge, or is it truly a morbid fascination with death and destruction and the suffering of others? I’ve asked myself that question many times. Why don’t I just watch cartoons and comedy shows? I tell myself, that’s a great idea. But I always seem to be drawn back to Air Crash Investigation or Seconds from Disaster. Over the coming weeks and months I shall think long and hard on this and if I figure it out, I shall share my conclusions.

Until next time.

Technology … Grrr

Today at quarter to one in the afternoon I had my gazillionth fight with my state-of-the-art cell phone. It hung up twice on me when I was having an important conversation. Don’t get me wrong – I actually do like it and it works just fine. However, the infernal thing has buttons on three sides, where my hand holds it. Every time I bump one of these buttons with my finger, the phone starts doing something that I don’t want it to do. I keep expecting this phone to someday call China or take a picture of my knee.

I’ve had the phone since August and the two features I like the most are the voice activated calling and the touch screen texting capability. My phone is 3G, not 4. I’m not the kind of person who wants to watch a full length feature film on my phone. At first when I was learning to text, my finger would hit the wrong letter, causing beaucoup aggravation. Now I’ve learned to hit the screen precisely to get what I want. On rare occasion, I’ve actually sent someone a blank text because when I wanted to start typing, my finger hit send. With my mild case of Cerebral Palsy, it makes things with little buttons and knobs difficult for me. Probably the phone works just fine, but I’ve wanted to throw it a few times.

On other fronts, last night I was doing PS3, Madden Football 12, and later watched a movie on Netflix. Finally, technology that works for me. On rare occasions, however, Netflix has been “down for maintenance.” Obviously I understand that they have to update once in a while, but a few months ago it seemed that it was happening every time I wanted to watch something.

Now, I’m just me, I’m no one special. I just want it to work when I turn it on, that’s all. And I want the phone to stop calling people when I’m trying to set my alarm. It probably doesn’t help me either that I have a low threshold for frustration.

Now that I’ve gotten this off my chest, I shall clue you in just a little bit on my next post. It’s going to be about a character trait that has bothered me about myself. Last night I watched several episodes of a show called Air Crash Investigation. I’ve always loved jets and flying. I’ve also, however, been fascinated with the investigation of accidents, as can be see in my Air Florida post. I shall go into that in more detail within a day or two.

At this very moment

Wednesday greetings to everyone. As I’m getting my work week started, I continue to wish to make my new blog a big part of my writing. Of course, blogging takes getting used to. I told myself that I was going to post a certain number of times a week. I shall make every effort to do so, however one week maybe it will be a little more and another week a little less.

At this very moment Keekee my kitty cat is peering out of the window of my apartment at a bird or at a car as though she wants to pounce on it. “Keekee, we’re eight floors up. I wouldn’t suggest it.”

Short story ideas for my second book are coming along slowly but surely. For a couple of months it didn’t seem like I was making much headway. But one day my writing assistant looked down at my computer and noticed that I had many more stories in my folder than I thought I did. Time flies when you’re having fun. And yes, I do consider writing fun. I consider it a challenge, sometimes a strain; just today I was reminded not to try to keep pace with my father who was a writer of scholarly works. We are two different people. Dad was a philosopher at Penn State and Mother a psychologist. I’ve been trying to keep my head clear in order to write and earn a living. Though certain things that have happened over the last few years are starting to take a toll.

Fear not, readers, for I am a fighter and, loving to write, I will not give it up. Until next time…

In Memory of Air Florida Flight 90

Thirty years ago today a terrible air tragedy took place. Air Florida’s flight 90 took off from Washington D.C.’s National Airport at 4:01 pm. It stayed airborne for less than 30 seconds. It hit cars on a bridge, killing four people, before plunging into the Potomac River. Of the 79 passengers and crew on the plane, 74 died. I thought about this much over the years and it has weighed heavily on my mind. Several very simple things happened and if any one of them had not occurred the crash might not have taken place.

The D.C. area was in the grip of a blizzard that day, over a foot of snow was on the ground and the airport was closed most of the morning into the mid-afternoon. Once the runways were cleared, planes began taking off again. Palm 90, as it was called in the tower, was to be de-iced, pushed back, and lined up waiting for its turn to take off.

I have seen a TV movie, called Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac, and documentaries, including Discovery Health channel’s Critical Rescue: “Heroes on the Potomac,” about this event and they all concur that three things contributed to the disaster. First, when the plane could not push back easily, the Captain applied reverse thrust to aid the tug tow tractor, as it is called, in the push back. Secondly, the wings did not appear properly de-iced, so when the plane was sitting in line for take off, extra snow was piling on top of snow and ice that was already there. Lastly, and most importantly, the engine’s anti-ice systems were not engaged.

When I learned of this, it infuriated me. I thought to myself, how can a pilot and co-pilot be sitting in a blizzard and not activate the systems that would keep the plane free of freezing precipitation. Since they were a Florida based airline, however, I suppose I can understand them being used to not using the anti-ice system.

When the jet crashed into the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the Potomac River, it didn’t take long for heroes to emerge. Two gentlemen helped rescue the few survivors that were huddled in the freezing water. They were Lenny Skutnik and Roger Olian. Tragedies sometimes tend to bring out the best in people. They might wonder if they have the right stuff. When the time came, both men jumped into the frigid river and did their part in the rescue effort.

Two more heroes were Gene Windsor and Don Usher who performed the daring helicopter rescue. But the biggest hero of all was a man named Arland Williams, who was so tangled in the wreckage and knew he could not escape, that he kept passing the rope to other survivors so that they would have their chance to be rescued first. He made the ultimate sacrifice. To me it is fitting that the 14th Street Bridge was re-named the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge years later.

For family members of people who died in automobiles on the bridge, and passengers and crew in the plane, my heart goes out to you. It was a tragedy that did not have to happen in my opinion but it did. I’m certain that the FAA learned something from the accident and has taken steps to prevent bad weather crashes from happening in the future.

Life with Keekee, my kitty

For over five years now, I have enjoyed my kitty cat named Keekee. She will be six years old in March and I’ve had her for almost all of her life. She is a domestic house cat with a calico color scheme. She belonged to a woman who lived in the apartment building and when she moved out she couldn’t take Keekee with her. At first, thinking I was going to be deathly allergic, I wasn’t certain if this all was going to work out. It seems, however, that Keekee and I were made for one another. A perfect fit. We have our little rituals such as her daily treats and her evening milk twice a week.

I got some distressing news a little while back that my girl will have to have some teeth extracted. It’s going to be a little on the expensive side but she’s worth it. As I have told her many times, she’s the best little kitty in the whole kitty kingdom. One day quite soon I shall endeavor to put a picture on this site to show her off.

It’s funny how time flies, for it seems like I got her just yesterday. Cats do seem to have long lives, some in excess of 15 years or more. Odds are she will be my buddy for many more years to come.

Check out what’s coming this Friday

Good morning. : ) It’s amazing how cheerful I am at 8:00; working on two hours sleep. I have no idea why I’ve been having insomnia recently. My theory is that I nap early in the evening, and that throws my sleep cycle off.

Anyway…, news for later in the week. I will be posting this Friday about a topic which has upset me over the years, yet obsessed me enough to study it in rather great detail. This Friday, the 13th of January, marks the 30th anniversary of the Air Florida flight 90 crash into the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.

I shall open up and spill myself on to the computer page.

Until next time….

What’s in a name?

Hi again readers. A funny thing happened to me on the way to my correct url for my blog. As embarrassing as this may sound, I typed my name in incorrectly when setting this all up, but steps have been taken and the problem has been rectified.

Somehow an extra “s” got in my first name and it read josesphmkockelmans in the url. Of course that is not how you spell Joseph. The correct url is We discovered the error when my writing assistant and I tried directly typing in the url and it would not go to my blog, even though we could get there by Googling my name. We emailed WordPress with our question about changing the url for the blog, and they responded promptly with the information we needed. It was precise and straightforward. I was able to make the change easily this afternoon.

On a slightly more personal note, I’m a couple of days behind in my writing and blogging due to being under the weather. But I am back on all cylinders and should be cranking out more material and blog entries shortly.

A night of insomnia : (

Good morning. It’s 7:05 and I’ve had approximately 1 hour or sleep. Grrr. I hate insomnia. Don’t you? Well, later today I’ll be working on new stories and editing camp book 2. My Assistant, Rebecca and I shall try to type something that makes sense this afternoon. I’m not quite sure how alert I’ll be. I’m off soon for a nap so as to have some energy at least.

Update to readers: My hope is to have the second camp book released sometime between late summer and mid fall.