Monthly Archives: January 2013

The non-reader who wrote

Greetings, readers. Well, I finally did it. This past Sunday evening I confessed to my dear Godmother that I am a non-reader. I can read, but I’ll chose almost any form of entertainment over reading. This poses a question. Do I, a writer, have the right to expect other people to read my work?

I suppose I do, but as I told my Godmother, “I’m probably not going to write the 300 page novel, and I’m sure as hell not going to write the 900 page doorstop.” If a 150 page novella is in me, I’ll have to flex the writing muscles … as Rebecca likes to say.

I’ve often asked myself, why don’t I like to read? The answer is that my attention span is short. After 20 or 30 minutes I begin to read the same line 4 or 5 times. This is extremely frustrating. When I would have to read textbooks for college, I would have to fight my way through them and I retained very little, making test day a bitch.

Have I always been a non-reader? According to my dear departed mother, the answer is no. She explained to me one time that I used to have a small bag to carry my books with me everywhere I went, and would throw a crying hissy fit if I couldn’t bring my books with me. I wonder what happened to that avid child reader?

Back in my mid-twenties or so, I tried my hand at my first play. It didn’t work, but it did show me that I liked writing dialog much better than prose. I guess I’ve never been a good describer of things. A good writer has to paint the picture for his or her reader.

I would like to think, as I close today’s blog entry, that I’ve got several more books in me; not only to write but to read. War and Peace will not be my first choice, but neither will be See Jane Run. As “Norman Thayer, Jr” from On Golden Pond said fondly, “Maybe I’ll start with something from Reader’s Digest Abridged.” Until next time, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

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Work coming nicely, and problem solved

Greetings, readers. Just a quick hello today, for early spring cleaning is still in full swing. Rebecca was kind enough to assist me and her help is greatly appreciated. While cleaning out the credenza, a cupboard-type piece of furniture, portable speakers were found which will make my video game and movie watching much more enjoyable. For me better sound is a better experience. Without these external speakers, my small TV sounds like a 70s tape recorder!

Well, back to room cleaning. We’ll be back with you again ASAP. Take care, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

Why do my best ideas come to me at three in the morning?

Greetings, readers. For approximately the last month and a half, an interesting trend has emerged. Rebecca and I will work at our usual time, 12 to 3, three days a week. Then I will go on with the rest of my day, thinking of things to write about with very little success. At the end of the day, I will take my evening medication, turn out the light, and wish very desperately to go to sleep. When do my ideas for writing projects come to me???

As the title of this entry suggests, they come to me at three in the morning or thereabouts. I’ve heard that some really great writers keep pad and pencil by their beds for just such an occurrence. I should do that, but I don’t. I get angry at myself for not sleeping, turn on every light in the apartment, switch on the TV and Playstation 3, and play a game of MLB12 The Show until I literally feel like I’m going to pass out. I consider myself a writer for I do blog, but to be honest, lately that is all we’ve been doing. This past November and December were taken up with practice time for a Beatles performance, which in hindsight was a mistake. Not that the performance itself was a mistake, but the preparation time was more involved than I was expecting it to be.

Also, some personal problems which have mostly been rectified now, thank you, caused me not to be able to concentrate on my writing as much as I might have liked. After much time and many trials, it seems as though we will finally be able to pop it into that next gear, and get down to some serious work. I’m planning to put out a book from my first year of blogging as my new work for this year. A book of truly new material such as Camp Book 3, a romance novella, or other project will be at least a year and a half away. I know myself. I am not the type of person who can sit down and crank out 300 pages of a first draft in a month. Health and personal issues simply prevent it.

Lastly, here in State College, PA as is in most of the Northern part of the country, we are experiencing our first Canadian arctic blast of the season. 12° above zero with a wind chill factor of -1. Can you say brrr? I know, I know, people in Florida are now laughing at me.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will not be blogging for roughly the next week or so. I need to take care of some personal things. We’ll be back with you ASAP. Until then, take care and happy reading.

Is Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner a nightmare?

Greetings, readers. The big airplane fan (me) is here to give you his point of view on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. I have been keeping up with the production progress in the news for the last several years now. A recent documentary confirms that delivery was at least three years behind schedule. That in itself for a new aircraft is not unheard of. Let’s jump two or three years forward, to January 9, 2013, when I read a USA Today newspaper article listing all the problems that this brand new wonderful aircraft is experiencing. Today, I found a timeline of the USA Today reports for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on their website, but could not find the exact article to link for you. I hope the link I did add will work for you to get you to the timeline.

An abbreviated list of its woes include battery malfunctions that cause toxic fumes to be released into the cabin, debris falling onto the tarmac, a power generator failed during a flight, electronic system problems, and it can be a  fire hazard. To me this is not a dream but a nightmare. As of Wednesday, the 17th of January, the whole fleet, I do believe, was grounded by the FAA so that all problems could be checked and fixed. Has the Boeing company built a modern version of the Ford Edsel; something that was supposed to be slightly ahead of its time but turned out to be a complete flop?

No doubt the fleets of 747 aircraft are aging and need to be replaced. The 757 was a very good craft, but no new ones are being produced. A good chunk of them are still being flown, but the 767 and 777 wide-body can fly more passengers at a time and earn more money per flight.

According to IMAX’s 45 minute film, Legends of Flight from 2010, which I viewed on Netflix, both the Boeing 787 and Boeing’s competition, the Airbus A380, had their growing pains. Airbus seemed to have come out on top faster than Boeing. To me this film was very entertaining and I got my first glimpse of the interiors of these two wonderful aircrafts. The whole idea was to get back to the glamorous days of air travel with bigger, more luxurious, seats some of which could be pulled out into a bed.

When my family in the 70s and 80s traveled by airplane, the 747 was in its glory. That was the airliner to take overseas. French company Airbus followed suit in the 90s with their A330 and A340 models. Those were Airbus’s long distance machines.

Do I think that air travel has become unsafe? Well, I’ve heard it said many times that you have more of a chance dying walking across a busy street than you do dying from an airplane crash. I still believe that is the case. Just like all new electronic things, there are bound to be kinks and gremlins, and of course the bigger the machine is, the more problems can arise. I’ve no doubt that Boeing will solve the 787’s woes quickly. If they don’t, Airbus could be poised to swoop in (no pun intended) and put our once mighty American plane manufacturer out of business.

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

Top ten places that I have visited in my lifetime

Greetings, readers. This is a top ten list of cities I have visited in my 40+ years of life. When I was younger, my family and I traveled throughout the United States and the world. I was lucky enough to see many beautiful cities. Here are my top ten.

#10 Washington, D.C. Twenty or thirty years ago my mother, father, and I traveled to Washington, D.C. because my father had to give a lecture at Georgetown University. While Pop, as I called him, taught, Mom and I went to the museums, walked past the White House, and drove past the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Very, very, impressive.

#9 Amsterdam, Holland. Though it is a modern city now, my family and I didn’t have to travel very far to see those wonderful windmills. As an added bonus, we were there when the tulips were in full bloom.

#8 The Caribbean. Georgia, my wife at the time, and I took a wonderful ten-day cruise in 2005. We visited Labadee, Haiti; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Ocho Rios Jamaica; and Freeport, Bahamas.

#7 Waterville, Maine. This is the town that is prominent in my two books, and is the nearest big town to Bear Spring Camps, my wonderful vacation spot of 40 years.

#6 Gottlieben, Switzerland. The Drakensberg Castle, a wonderful castle hotel on the banks of the Rhine River, provided my family and me a wonderful vacation when I was a child.

#5 Los Angeles, California. I was there three times in my life so far. Twice to visit my Aunt Marilyn and once to visit my then mother-in-law. All three trips were wonderful.

#4 New York City, New York. Though I’ve never been there on New Year’s Eve – I want to be though at least once in my life – when I did visit the city, the sheer size and complexity made me take it in like a little boy looking at a lit-up Christmas tree. I was completely in awe. And yes, we did see the World Trade Center towers.

#3 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was born there but moved to my current locale when I was three years old. Only having visited it a handful of times, I just know its general layout. It is a beautiful small city.

#2 Amarillo, Texas. My wife at the time, Georgia, and I were traveling across country when her truck broke down in Amarillo. We spent a couple of nights there and were amazed of not only the beauty of the city but the hospitality of the people.

#1 Rome, Italy. I was lucky enough to visit it twice in my lifetime. The churches, the Coliseum, and the Vatican make a trip to Rome a truly once in a lifetime experience. I highly recommend it.

Until tomorrow, when we put our third blog entry for the week up, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

Woke up to a winter wonderland

Greetings, readers. Last night’s weather forecast called for freezing rain followed by a little bit of snow. Ha ha. I awakened this morning to 3-5 inches of the white stuff. A cab driver told me that in his estimation the precipitation changed over to snow sooner than expected. Early this afternoon I had a doctor’s appointment and I was happy to see that the roads were completely passable by noon-time. My doctor’s visit was fruitful and she gave me tips and tools on how to better cope with my occasional bouts of mild depression.

My kitty cat just came to visit and cuddle with me, and that reminds me that her recent vet visit yielded perfect results. According to her records, Keekee is a year older than I thought she was. I got her from a woman who was leaving the building when Keekee was just a kitten.

 My vet gave me a certain kind of cat food which is supposed to help with tartar build-up.  According to my vet, her breed is a domestic longhair and her color scheme is calico. Apparently, domestic longhair have trouble with their teeth and gums; extra-special attention must be paid to that or, as I found out, tooth loss will become a problem.

Moving right along, the idea for my third book is coming clearer into focus now. I’m going to choose the best 35-50 blog entries from my first year of blogging and put them in a book. If it sells at all, I might do it every year, who knows. Between you my readers, me, and the wall, I have enjoyed blogging a thousand percent more than I thought I was going to. It truly is fun to get my opinion and point of view across to readers.

Until Friday, stay healthy during this flu season, which I’ve heard is a bad one, and happy reading.

A rough patch in my life

Greetings, readers. I am fighting through one of the toughest times of my life right now; the loss of a friend. Did this person pass away? No. I wish it could be that easy. She lives in my building and I run the risk of seeing her at any moment that I am not in my apartment. It should not affect my behavior, but I have caught myself putting my sweatshirt hood over my head to avoid seeing anyone in the lobby area.

Being afraid of life is a terrible thing. I have felt this way before, but not to this extent. I’ve decided not to alter my daily routine. Certainly I could have chosen different eateries to frequent, or hang out at places where I deemed she wouldn’t be. But that’s being afraid of life. That’s not acceptable to me. I won’t do that. If I do…, she wins.

What to do? I’ve told both my accountant and my writing assistant that I “Gotta get the hell outta here!” They both agreed. For my sanity I feel that at least a weekend’s break from State College, Pennsylvania is in order; maybe longer. This poses a problem for me because I have other obligations in town. However, my health does take precedence.

My two choices are to go visit my buddy and brother, Dave and family in New Jersey for a long weekend, or to visit my Aunt in California for a week or so. The former can be done by bus, the latter must be accomplished by airplane via Orbitz.com.

Whichever I choose, I’m sure of two things. First that it will be the correct choice for me, and second, it will benefit the visitor. I’ve not seen Dave or my Aunt in quite a while.

The next blog entry will be another top 10 list.  🙂   Until soon, stay well, enjoy life and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Frequency

I love stories about time travel. There is something about going back in time and changing history or someone’s life that just appeals to me. I love watching the set up events unfold and then watch for the changes after they have been altered. I can certainly think of a few decisions I would go back and change if I could – if I knew I would still meet the man who became my husband and that nothing bad would happen to my loved ones! Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I knew about my attention deficit disorder sooner or if I had taken library sciences classes in college. Would I have been able to improve the things in my life that went bad, or would I get to the same point eventually? There are a lot of books, movies, and TV shows about time travel and about changing life events (Stephen King has one out called 11/22/63 that I haven’t read yet but will soon), like The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Sliding Doors and Groundhog Day, and it is hard for me to pick a favorite. The one I picked to write about today is from 2000 and is called Frequency.

Frequency is about a family torn apart by tragedy and the lengths a father and son will take to make things right. It stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel as the Sullivan father and son. Dennis Quaid’s character is a fire fighter who dies in a warehouse fire when his son was a young boy. Jim Caviezel plays the son who grew up to be a police officer. One magical night they are both on the ham radio 30 years apart when a strange electrical storm in the sky links their signal and they talk to each other. The information the son gives the father changes their lives when he does not die in that fire, but something else happened that changed history, and the boy’s mother, played by Elizabeth Mitchell, is killed a few days later by a serial killer. The rest of the film goes from the father’s time to the son’s time as they both try to figure out what they did, save lives, and stop the murderer. It is both a thriller and an emotionally moving film. The tone was consistent the whole way through and events seemed to flow naturally out of what had already happened. I was very pleased with the ending.

Given my love for stories like this, it is no wonder that I enjoy and love this movie. I recommend it to anyone who is also drawn to the idea of fixing a mistake or communicating with someone who is gone. There are a lot of these stories out there, once you start looking.

An unusual Saturday entry

Greetings, readers. Here in State College it is a rare, mostly sunny day, yet it is cold. The wind has been blowing on and off in varying intensities, having an effect on my comfort level. Some people love the winter time. I am not one of those people. I love sunny and warmer. I know, I know, skiing enthusiasts would tell me to move to Florida. Rebecca and I switched our Friday workday to today, making today a rare Saturday at work.

I am in the process of reading a romance novel as research to get ready to begin my own. I was only ten pages into it and already it was getting a little bit racy. The book is called Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas. Even though I am not a huge reader, I must admit the book had no trouble holding my interest. I even got through the prologue – ha ha. One of the reasons I am doing research is that early in my writing career I wrote things such as a play and a first draft of a movie script. Obviously, these two projects were strictly dialog. I must become more proficient at writing prose. I must make readers see what I am seeing in my head. I’ve never had any trouble watching that movie in my head. During some of my insomnia nights I’ve “watched” scene after scene. My big problem is getting it down on paper or the computer.

On to another mini-topic, readers. Over the last two years, I have formed a friendship with someone living here in State College (name omitted). Tomorrow, at approximately three in the afternoon, I get to find out whether or not that friendship is still intact. In the small community where I live, nestled deep in State College, privacy is at a premium, and the words of others has sparked difficulty between my friend and me. If the friendship does go kerflery, I will take full responsibility. I was looking to go to the next level and I doubt very seriously whether my friend was. I have put undue and unwanted pressure on her and if that is what will cause the friendship to fail, rather than other people’s gossip, I will truly feel upset with myself. I jumped the gun. To end on a happy note, on Wednesday a blog post from Rebecca will be put up.

Take care, have a great rest of your weekend, and happy reading.

As Paul Harvey would have said, stand by for news

Greetings, readers. We only have thirty minutes to do this blog entry, so like a pair of underwear, I’ll be brief. To give you a quick update, 2013 for me got off to a nice start, fairly quiet. That is just the way I like it. New Year’s Eve I was at Panera Bakery enjoying a cup of coffee, or two or three or six, while pondering my next writing project idea. And did indeed narrow it down to a choice. I’m going to take my first attempt at a steamy romance novel. This comes from someone who has had a love life which has been beyond embarrassing.

With the holiday season now over, and present buying, parties, and all other such festivities again behind me for another year, I can concentrate on my work. Yes, I will still blog, but now that the new year is here it is time to put my butt in the chair and get to work. First it was my Beatles performance, then came Christmas, I just couldn’t concentrate. Now I have no more excuses.

To close this short blog entry today, I leave you with my New Year’s resolution. After recently going through a relationship problem, my resolution is to promise myself that the next woman whom I court will be the one for me. No more miscues. I will take it light and gradual to start and believe me I will not pop it into second gear until both she and I are damned good and ready.

Until quite soon, stay healthy, enjoy the warm weather if you are in a place that has it, and happy reading.