Monthly Archives: February 2012

Current Official Comments Guidelines

Greetings, readers. Checking my spam-mail number for the past 30 hours, I was horrified to see 141 spam comments and two pending. And those two turned out to be spam as well. Oh, my! Either I’m not getting something here, or I have a whole lot of bots going on. One of the recent spam messages that looked like it might have been from a real person was hiding a trojan virus. Thank goodness for my top-notch anti-virus program; it did catch it and computer is safe. : )  I have a lot of comments with a general, “great post,” or “very helpful.” These don’t tell me a whole lot.

I recently wrote a blog post about this, titled I’m new here so please … where I made some suggestions. I now have an official comments policy for you to follow, when you want to leave a comment, so that I know it is from a real person.

Please write my first name, Joe, somewhere in the post. “Hi, Joe,” will be fine. Also, mention a specific detail from the post you are responding to, so that I get some feedback and so that I have context for your comment. You can ask me a question, to which I will reply in the comments. I will also be making my own comments regularly, once I get more of them from readers.

Take care, readers. Blog post about my father is coming soon.

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MLB 12 The Show … I’m drooling

Greetings baseball fans and blog readers. In early March, Christmas day #2 comes for me. It is the release date of my favorite video game for the PlayStation 3 console, MLB12 The Show.

I have been playing this game for at least five years, if not longer. I began on my PS2 system, where the graphics were good but not exceptional. Since switching to the PS3 system, I have been blown away by the game’s realism. From the players’ faces and body movements to their swings and throws, every aspect of the players have been designed as realistically as possible.

Also, every stadium is impeccably rendered with details, such as working clocks that keep accurate time, and ivy at Chicago’s Wrigley Field that does not start growing until a month after the season starts. But now back to the game play itself.

This year, the added highlights are going to be enhanced play-by-play (mimicking more accurately the game’s situation), more realistic game play (the balls might hit a base and take a strange hop, for instance), and finally more realistic throwing and hitting motions. For someone like me who enjoys the subtle details, like the added realism of the New York and Boston crowds with their specific accents, it’s just an added bonus to an already perfect game.

The MLB The Show franchise is a Sony exclusive and in a couple of years the PS4 is due to come out. OMG. I have no reason to believe that this game will not survive into the PS4 era and I can only imagine that Sony will achieve even more realism. What I would like to see are subtleties such as rain-outs in franchise mode, where a player would somehow have to play two games to make up for it, the occasional snow flurry for early season games in Boston, Chicago, and Toronto, and perhaps an easier method of taking your very own photo and incorporating it into a created player. I would also like to be able to play games in such recently closed stadiums as Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Riverfront in Cincinnati, and Tiger Stadium in Detroit, as well as any others they may wish to incorporate – hint, hint.

The truth will now be told. I only purchase two games per year. John Madden football and MLB baseball. Though the Madden game is excellent, MLB baseball is my personal favorite and I have no doubt that I will be thrilled with this latest installment. Yes, sometimes games do get ruined by their developers trying to improve them, but so far MLB The Show has been extremely careful not to do this. They just keep adding to the realism.

Many, many years from now, when the PS15 comes out, I would love to have the chance to hear… somehow… announcers of years gone by. To be able to hear Vin Scully say, “It’s time for Dodger baseball!”, or Phil Rizzuto utter, “You got that right, White,” or his classic, “Holy cow!” would complete my ultimate baseball experience.

Until next time… : )

P.S. Forgot to spellcheck before publishing last week. Oops. Sorry, folks. I just went back and fixed the mistakes.

I’m new here so please….

Hi readers. I am having a little bit of trouble sorting through my spam folder. Some of the comments are obviously spam (filled with gibberish for example) and those are easy. Some look like real comments, but when I click on the website link it takes me to a business website (like for an online bank) or to one in another language. They might be real, or they might be spam. I’m having a lot of trouble telling.

If you write a comment on my blog, and you don’t see it show up in a day or two, it might have shown up as spam and I deleted it. Please try again, and put either your first name or my name in the body of the comment so I know a person wrote it. You could also add a specific detail from the blog post you are commenting on, to let me know it is real and to give me more feedback on my writing.

I want to have a community of people reading and responding to my blog posts. I will be responding personally in the comments when the opportunity comes up. I just need to figure out this spam vs. real people thing.

5 Star, gold banner day!!!

Greetings readers. Today is an exceptional day for me. My first book, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories, which my writing assistant Rebecca and I worked so hard on for almost a year, is now officially in a local store here in State College, Pennsylvania. They are going to be sold on consignment at Appalachian Outdoors. We took ten copies with us expecting them to take perhaps one or two, but OMG, they took all ten!

This makes it a 5 star, gold banner day for Rebecca and me. We worked so very hard on that book and we are both proud of it. To now have it in a store is awesome.

The book is a print-on-demand product at CreateSpace.com and this is the link to my CreateSpace e-store page for those who want to see the book cover and read a description of it.

So, if you are in downtown State College, check out Appalachian Outdoors and ask to peruse my book. For my out-of-town readers, the link is in the previous paragraph. As always, comments are welcome. Until next time, take care.

Virtual Sports Reality

Hi there, readers. As I continue to do research for the blog entry about my father, I’d like to share something with you, which to me is a personal revelation. I was thinking about this Monday night as I was having one of my frequent insomnia bouts. It finally dawned on me why I love Madden football and MLB baseball for the PS3 gaming system so much.

As a youth, I was completely uncoordinated, clumsy, and awkward. A star athlete, I would never be. All the highlights that school age young men get to do, I never did. For instance, I never tried out for the high school football team. Heck, I could barely run, much less tackle anybody. The only football I could throw any distance was a Nerf, and my balance was such that being a running back or a wide receiver was out of the question. I would have had my own personal stretcher.

I didn’t try out for the baseball team, or softball, or basketball. Same rules apply there, I just didn’t feel myself a strong enough person to compete, mentally or physically. So when school was over, I got in my mom’s car and we drove home. I entertained myself with records, TV, and the occasional touch football game with kids from my neighborhood who knew my physical limitations and took it easy on me.

The video games in the early days were laughable as compared to what they are today. As of the last three years, sports games for the PS3 system are ultra-realistic. I watched a video on YouTube yesterday for MLB12 The Show. It was their official trailer. I didn’t think the game could get anymore realistic. I was wrong. Can’t wait ’til March 4th! Well, getting back to the topic of this blog post, the reason I love these games so much is simply this: It allows me to pretend that I am the coach, the manager, or even one of the players on these great professional sports teams. When I hit the X button on the controller, it’s me hitting the home run or striking out the powerful batter.

The other night I actually said to myself out loud, why don’t you quit being a writer and go work for either EA Sports or Sony? Well the answer is simple. I like being a writer too much. Sure I’ve got some ideas for improvements for their games; that is what email and phone numbers are for.

Well, I’m off to email my Dutch cousin to hopefully get the final few puzzle pieces that I’ll need for the blog post about my father. Until very soon, take care and have a great day.

Update on the blog post about my father

Greetings, readers. Just a quick update on the blog post about my dad. The first draft is proving slightly more difficult than expected. I am having to look up names of cities in Holland as well as names for philosophers. Please note that I shall continue to work on this piece and get it to where I can be proud to put it on my blog as a memorial to my father.

If another blog idea pops into my brain I shall certainly post it. I thoroughly enjoy writing blog entries and I want to keep up with it. I don’t wish there to be days and days of no new material. So stand by for more very soon and I shall keep you updated. Until then, happy reading.

P.S. A picture or two of Keekee is on the way soon.

Time for spring cleaning is almost here

Here in State College, Pennsylvania, it is mid February and the winter is half over. I have always been a spring and summer person, but along with the warmer temperatures comes an annual event; spring cleaning. I live in an apartment and everything I own is crammed into two small rooms and a walk-in closet. This means that it usually doesn’t take much to make the place look like a cyclone has hit it.

In about two weeks I am going to undertake this late winter chore. This means that quite a bit of stuff is going to be thrown away. I do not part with my treasured belongings easily, but it is necessary for me to weed out all unused items and clothes. The dining room/living room area is not that bad, and has already been partially worked on. It’s the bedroom that is the disaster area. Most of my time will be spent in there trying to determine which clothes still fit, which boxes can have their contents combined and what records can be given away.

My apartment building has a community room where tenants can put their unwanted items on a table for swap. Already I have parted with my cherished baritone horn, also known as a mini-tuba. My mother got that for me when I was in grade school and I had kept it all these years. Simply, it was taking up too much space; it just didn’t make the cut this year. Also, an old record player was taken down there and was snatched up within an hour.

I think most people here in the apartment building do this spring cleaning chore because the rooms are so small. One has to keep up with the amount of crap brought in throughout the year. For me, it is a whole different set of circumstances. Since 2003, I have lived in four different dwellings, including my current apartment. I have accumulated possessions not only from my two previous apartments, but also from my parents’ big house.

What will not make the cut? Old Playstation games. If I’ve not used them in more than a year, they will be put on the swap table. Also, old record albums I’ve not listened to in 20 years will be placed there for others to enjoy. Blankets, old coats, and my toaster I’ve never used can probably be parted with as well. The biggest thing is garbage, such as old medicine bottles that somehow I think I just have to keep around. Heck, I have the phone number for the pharmacy in my speed dial. I don’t have to read it off the label.

Now, what will make the cut? Mostly treasured items from my parents’ house. Paintings, lamps, an old TV, my mother’s credenza. Also, some of my father’s classical music albums I will never part with; they have sentimental meaning to me.

When all is said and done and everything is spic and span, I can have maintenance come in and make some small repairs that have been waiting for a few months, such as the bedroom closet door not being on its hinge. Also, Keekee, my kitty cat, thinks that the door frame is her personal scratch post. That shall have to be repaired and/or painted.

About my writing, fear not, for even though I will be engrossed in this laborious task of apartment cleaning, writing shall continue. Blog posts will be upcoming and my writing assistant and I shall also be editing my second book, which I hope to have published no later than this coming September. Please feel free to drop a comment or a question and if it is something I can reply to, I shall make every effort to do so.

My next blog entry will be about my father, Professor Joseph John Kockelmans. It should be up on my blog page within a few days. I’m going to need some time to write a first draft because I want it to be just so. Until then, my readers, take care and have a good day.

The New United States Football League

In the late 1980s, the United States Football League, a weak competitor to the National Football League, had a three season run and then folded. Enter March February 2012. The buzz on the internet is that the new United States Football League, or USFL, is set to get underway late next month.

Twelve teams shall make up this new league which shall play through the end of summer, again giving fans year round football. While getting ready to write this blog entry, I Yahooed and Googled and could not find anything specific such as team locations and names. Apparently though it is a go for late March. I say, why?

The original USFL played to half empty stadiums, had teams that moved constantly, especially the Breakers organization which had three homes in three years. Problem number two was that the league expanded way too quickly. Their biggest problem, however, was that they promised big salaries with money that they could not pay did not have.

If the USFL version two is for real, I certainly hope that they are much more organized than their predecessor. I actually loved the original USFL but I sincerely doubt that North America will accept a second football league. It took years for the indoor Arena League to catch on. Outdoor year round football is simply too much.

If there is a team in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, and their games are covered on television, I shall give it a shot, being the football lover that I am. But as far as a league lasting 70 or 80 years, I’m not holding my breath. More details as I get them. Have a great weekend and I’ll catch you next week.

The absurdity of State Patty’s Day

I’ve been living in Central Pennsylvania all my life. As I was growing up, State College was a relatively small college community which seemed to grow every year. As Penn State University offered more and more curricula, an increase of students came to Happy Valley.

Penn State has always been a huge football school, and downtown bar activity on football weekends is loud and boisterous. I’ve been living downtown for six years and have come to appreciate the serenity of where I used to live much more.

State Patty’s Day, as it is known, is a “holiday” tradition begun six years ago. As a writer, I love to observe people. I choose that day to walk downtown to various coffee shops, looking at all the young college students as they bar hop. Bar hopping, as I understand it, is when a group of college kids band together wearing their green State Patty’s Day attire and romp around downtown from bar to bar starting at 9 or 10 in the morning.

Personal point number one: Unless I’m mistaken, the only students of legal drinking age would be seniors, age 21. This makes me question why police in this town are even allowing this holiday to happen. It seems rather obvious that underage drinking is occurring.

Personal point number two: The fact that the bars open in the morning gives the students the rare opportunity to get an early start at inebriation. The only thing I like about that is that by 5:00 in the afternoon everyone is so plastered, they are all either at private parties or at home sleeping it off already. Downtown is usually as quiet as a ghost town.

Will State Patty’s Day ever be banned completely? Personally I doubt it. Unfortunately it is good for the economy. I know that sounds silly to say, but bars and pubs are businesses, too.

Last year I heard that students from other schools came to join in on the annual party day. It seems to get bigger and bigger every year. This frightens me. Last time I checked, going to school meant getting an education, not pickling their livers. I can’t quite recall the source, but I heard six months ago that Penn State University is now one of the top three party schools. I want Penn State to be proud of their academics, not their drinking prowess.

Personal point number three: Steps are being taken this year to curb the event and I applaud it. According to the Centre Daily Times article of February 5th, 2012, which you can read by following the link on the newspaper name  (this link no longer works), there were over 200 arrests of various charges on this day last year alone. I would surmise that the number goes up every year, though I cannot be certain. I applaud the Interfraternity Council, or IFC, for trying to deflect themselves away from the negative attention that this so-called holiday brings.

Whether or not State Patty’s Day will truly every die is debatable. The more students who abstain from the activity and voice their objections against it, the better off State College shall be. As for the bars that participate, what did you do before 2007? State College, Pennsylvania, before State Patty’s Day, was a happy thriving community. We would be able to do just fine without it.

For my next blog post, I shall be writing about the new United State Football league. Yes … it is scheduled to make a comeback. Until then, take care and have a good day.

Keekee’s ordeal

Hi everyone. I just thought I’d write a post to you today about Keekee’s ordeal from Monday the 6th. My poor little kitten had four teeth that needed removed, so on the public bus system we went bright and early at 8:30. We arrived at the vet’s office by 9 as scheduled, Keekee was weighed in at a little over 13 pounds in her carrier, and then it was time for us to sit and wait for our turn.

It has always been my habit to put a towel over her carrier when I take her there just in case there is a big dog that might scare her. After about ten minutes, the vet tech came out and took us to the examination room.

Keekee obviously didn’t want to come out of her carrier but she was tempted with a treat. After a quick once-over, the technician explained what was going to happen and when I could expect to get a call from them. She said if you don’t hear from us by 3:00, call us.

Well folks, 3:00 came and went without a call. So I got on the horn at 3:30 and was told that she was just about to go in. Dental surgeries are scheduled last in the day. I thought to myself after I hung up, why did we have to be there at 9 in the morning? Oh, well. I was asked to call back around 5 or 5:30, which I did.  I was told that she was just coming out of surgery but might need some extra time to wake up fully. A friend drove me out to the vet to pick up Keekee. Unfortunately, the poor girl took longer to come out of her anesthesia than expected. So we had to wait. Luckily a Denny’s restaurant was just across the street. My friend and I took the opportunity for a coffee and a snack.

When I finally got my cat home, she stumbled out of the cat carrier woozy from the anesthesia and plopped herself down on the floor, not really wanting to move. After only a couple of hours though, she seemed to snap out of it and regain her balance. Much to my surprise, she was actually hungry for some soft food.

It has been well-documented that some people, especially those without children, think of their pets as their kids. I, a 46-year-old single man, am one of those people. For those of you that like the stories about my kitty-cat, I invite you to leave comments or questions, to which I will respond. As always, have a great day and watch for more blog posts very soon.