Monthly Archives: August 2013

Technology Grrr 4 … with a favorable outcome

Greetings, readers. Today as I sat at Panera cafe working on a new story for the upcoming camp book, something happened to my dear old laptop that has never happened before. It completely froze; no cursor, no arrow, no running clock, or battery drainage indicator.  What’s worse was I was really on a roll. When Rebecca arrived, I was fuming and must have had that “help me” look on my face. I had already begun to copy by hand what I typed, figuring that we were gong to lose at least a part of what I had written.

Rebecca took over the copying while I packed up to go over to the office. When she was finished, I had to do what is known as a hard shutdown. This is not the best thing you can do to your computer. I didn’t see that we had much of a choice. Luckily, when we got back to the office, and started the computer, everything seemed to work fine. What really irked me was that I was aiming for between 350 to 400 words and fell well short of it.

Minor technology moment: although I love my new phone so much more than my old phone, I’m still having a wee bit of trouble with the buttons on the top row of the keypad. Somehow my big fingers don’t cooperate with the buttons on the top row. This means texting Rebecca when I need to is more difficult than I’d like. But at least everything on the phone works.

Now, close to 2 pm, I am hoping that everything that will gone wrong today has gone wrong, technology-wise. I don’t know if my computer will freeze up again or if this was a one-time anomaly. I really shouldn’t be too critical. The Asus laptop I have is five years old and we have sure put some miles on it writing three books and almost 200 blog entries. If I can get through the rest of the day without aggravation from technological items, I shall be very happy.

Yes, I know this is a rare Thursday entry, surprise-surprise. Whether Rebecca and I will put up a new one tomorrow is 50/50. We might have that be a work-on-the-book-only day. So until soonest, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

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….. But I can’t help falling in love with you

Greetings, readers. The other day I was sitting in Panera cafe having my morning coffee, when I heard a song over the stereo speaker which reminded me of a very happy memory from a few years ago. I was still married at the time and my wife Georgia and I were on a trip. I believe it was a dinner cruise. Every so often I get in a romantic mood. Mr. Old-Fashioned comes out to play. There was a wonderful band playing and the band leader was taking requests. I thought to myself, how cool would it be to request a song that Georgia and I could dance to?

I excused myself from the table and walked up to the area where the band was playing. I asked if they knew the Elvis Presley song “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” feeling relatively certain they did. When he said yes, I requested it and told him that I would bring my wife up to the dance floor.

I didn’t get that romantic very often. But the mood just struck me and I thought, let’s throw caution to the wind, as I kept my fingers crossed that she would want to dance in front of everybody.

There were obviously a few requests before mine because it took awhile for our song to be announced. Georgia knew I was up to something but didn’t know what. As the song started to play, I asked her for the dance and we enjoyed a very romantic few minutes. All eyes seemed to be on us.

When the song was over, we went back to our table and people told us how well we danced, and how cute we looked together. As I’ve stated before in my blog, music is a big part of my life. And I will always equate that song with that happy memory.

I got my vacation pictures back and the students are back

Greetings, readers. I am back in the flow of working again and it feels good. I spent a wonderfully productive morning typing one of the new camp book stories. Speaking of camp, I got my vacation pictures back the other day and all but one clunker turned out beautifully. I had taken shots not only of the trip to Maine and Bear Spring Camps, but also several pictures when I stopped at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. I got pictures of the waves, of the sand, a couple of birds, and as far as people, I purposefully did not take any close up shots of strangers. Boy, has Hampton Beach changed since I had last been there. Let’s see, last time I was there was 1975. It obviously is much more built up with shops, eateries and motels. And of course, everything is more expensive, including food and parking. Still, I would not have traded those couple of hours for anything; a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

One of the pictures, most likely the shot of my cabin, will be the cover photo for the upcoming camp book; while other very cute shots, such as the sculptures of a moose and black bears at two rest stops in Maine, will definitely be used inside the book. I  believe they will be just as beautiful in black and white as they are in color. Also in the photo packs were pictures of the grand nieces and nephews, as well as other members of my best friend David Trost’s family. While not all shots turned out great, I will choose some photos to include inside the book. I will also ask Peg, the owner of the camp, if I can include some photos of the camp ground itself. Oh, how I love those one-time throw-away cameras with the high shutter speeds. They allow me, even with my wobbly hand, to take decent pictures.

Part two of this blog entry, deals with the end of summer. Or at least summer as I know it. Yes, the Penn State students are back in town. Gone are the nights that are quiet; back are the nights where whooping and hollering will be heard until the wee hours. I suppose though that after seven hours of classes that the students need to let off some steam. We have a pub right across the street from my apartment building that can get quite crowded on a Friday or Saturday night, especially on a football weekend. But this is a college town and these kids do support the local economy. And I do understand that lots of students the PSU football games, which I also enjoy on TV, unless I’m at Rebecca and Darren’s place playing Dungeons and Dragons.

By the winter time the football season is over and the town calms down a little. However I still enjoy the time from early May until the third week in August. Yes, there are students here taking summer classes, but places like Panera and the Diner don’t ever seem to be as crowded. On football weekends I don’t even try to go to Panera anymore. Lines are out the door. Enough said about that. I am done ranting and raving.

Until next week, have a great weekend. Enjoy the good weather if you’ve got it. Take care and happy reading.

Top ten happy memories from my childhood

Greetings, readers. I thought long and hard this morning of things that made me happy when I was a youngster and teenager. The following is a list – this time in order – of the top ten happy memories.

#10. Watching the Indianapolis 500. [It used to be shown in prime time and they would always announce right before the show who had won the race in the ABC news break.]

#9. Trips to Pittsburgh. [In the early years, my mom practiced psychology not only here in State College but also in Pittsburgh. For the first eight or so years of my life, occasionally the family would take a weekend trip so she could see her Pittsburgh clients.]

#8. Park Forest Junior High Fun Nights. [Every six to eight weeks, on a Friday evening, the commons area and gymnasium would be opened up from 7 to 10pm for music, dancing, and basketball. It kept us kids off the streets.]

#7. The trip to Maine with Mom and Dad. [I had many fun times in the car looking at the pretty scenery, listening to my music under headphones, Dad’s classical music on the cassette tape, or having conversations with my family.]

#6. Watching college football games on Saturdays and NFL games on Sundays.

#5. A special weekend at the Altoona Sheraton. [About once a year or so I would beg Mom and Dad to go to Altoona to the Sheraton for a fun weekend getaway, mostly relaxing and swimming in the big, heated indoor pool.]

#4. The holiday season. [From the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade until the end of the college bowl season, it truly was my favorite time of year, and still is.]

#3. The Memorial Day carnival. [Expensive but fun. Sadly it no longer comes around anymore.]

#2. Nerf footfall and Wiffle ball games with my best friend Dave Trost.

#1. The Christmas light ride through Park Forest Village and surrounding areas. [Through my childhood and teenage years it remained the single happiest evening of the year.]

Ok folks, there you have it. Chime in with yours via reply. Let the debating begin. Until Friday, have a great day, take care and happy reading.

Into the groove and getting my routine set

Greetings, readers. Now being home for four days, I’ve gotten my feet back under me. I am trying to keep as much to my “Bear Spring Camps” schedule as possible. For those of you who have not read my first two books about my camping experiences, life there is organized and revolves around three square meals a day at the dining hall. I try to be there right as they begin serving the food each meal. This gives me the most hours in between to do other things; such as fishing, boating, or relaxing in the evening.

This year, as luck would have it, I found a wonderful radio station called WBACH 106.9 (usually stations don’t have five letters but this one does. I looked it up) and obviously it played classical music. It reminded me of my dad. When Pop would join us in Maine, he would listen to classical music. So this year, when I listened to this station at night, I felt his presence close by. When I got home I combed the internet for sites which played the same style of music. I found a lovely internet station on AOL music, called Classical 101. Serves my purpose. During my camp week, late at night, I would listen to WBACH and jot down notes on my computer for the coming work year.

In years past, it has literally taken us months after camp to get into the groove of writing. I want to avoid this downtime at all costs. I feel a pressing need to write another book and get it out. Two ideas are already in my head with notes down on computer page. Also, I’m not going to rule out a second blog book in a year or two.

Now let’s get back to this routine of mine. It involves mainly the early to bed early to rise state of mind. I get to Panera cafe at 7:30 for my morning coffee, just like camp. If feels a bit odd having long mornings, for I used to be a night owl and a late sleeper. Some days I would be awake and alive about an hour before Rebecca would show up for work. Not this year.

Better planning for my new year must be involved. I must schedule a time for work hours, for writing on my own, for doing my other personal fun things, and still leave plenty of time for sleep. Wish me luck; every year I tell myself I will keep to this camp schedule, and my promise lasts two weeks before I am back to my night owl routine.

I’m confident that Rebecca and I will have our most productive year ever. Time will tell if my new schedule and planning will pay off with more productivity.

My next blog post will be on Wednesday and will be a top ten list. No blog post tomorrow. So enjoy your weekend, take care, and happy reading.

P.S. For those of you who have not read my first two books and would like to, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories and Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Springs Camp Stories are both available in my CreateSpace eStores – follow the link on either book, Amazon, and Kindle. My third book, Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger, is available at the eStore and Amazon; it will take a month or so for it to be available on Kindle.

Back from camp and off to a slow start

Greetings, readers. First, thanks to Rebecca for keeping you all up to date while I was gone. This is going to be a short entry; I’m still trying to get my back-to-work routine worked out and have not gotten off to a good start. I plan to put another blog entry up tomorrow and to get back to the at-least-two-a-week schedule by next week.

Greetings, Readers the book turned out very well. Here’s to success.

Lastly, a little bit about my trip. Fishing was as good as it ever was since I’ve been going to camp. Baskets full of bass and white perch everyday. Plenty to go around to all the family members. We had bonfires and story time as well as a couple of powwows with my best friend Dave. I just love our brother-to-brother chats. On Friday, however, I felt like building an ark. Three and a half inches of rain, with local flooding, in a twenty hour period. I actually had to pack the morning I was leaving. Not fun. But I made it up to Maine and back, including a side trip to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, with no problems.

Until tomorrow, take care, enjoy, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Journals

I have kept a diary or journal off and on for most of my life; and steadily for the last decade or so. I did not know this would be my topic until I was at Joe’s today, so I didn’t think to count how many I have now; I think I have fifteen journals, give or take. I keep them on a shelf in my bedroom. For the last year or two, though, I have had a big problem writing in the latest journal. For over a year now, I have been writing notes on paper to transfer to the formal book at a later time. Over time the notes became my journal, since it had been so long since I wrote in a book. Now I am a month behind on my notes! I am catching up again this week, but it has made me look at why I journal, and do I want to stop now?

I use my journal as a record book. I keep track of holidays and birthdays, my work hours, what medication I took each day (especially when I take unusual meds for a cold or such), what books I finished reading, what films I watched, and events in my life (like birthday parties or the week our apartment building repaved the parking lot). I like to look back and see what was going on in my life at any point. When my mom died, I recorded the events; when it happened, what I was doing, how I felt. If I ever want to read that again, I have it. I recorded the events of 9/11/01 and my feelings about it in my journal. I also recorded the event of my wedding, and the births of my two nephews and niece. I like having the part of my history that I wrote down to be at my fingertips.

So, what is the block? I know that last year I was coming to the end of the book and didn’t have enough money to get another one yet. I was going to use the notes and get a book as soon as I could. But I didn’t. It seemed like a lot of work to get a book and then transfer the then three months of entries. Then it was four months, and five months, etc. I started the notes even before I approached the end of the last book. I was already having trouble keeping up. Now it has been over a year. I keep being distracted from just sitting down and doing it. I also don’t seem to be motivated to do an entry a day, on the occasions when I have been caught up.

So, what to do? Obviously having a journal means a lot to me, as I am reminded by what I wrote here today. I need to make a decision that it means enough to me to take the time and keep up with the notes. And I need to commit to finding another journal book, and set a schedule to fill it.

I need to answer another question before I can make that commitment. In the back of my mind, I always assumed that my journals could be passed to my family when I passed away. Now I am not sure if anyone in my family would want or be interested in them, or want to lug so many books around. If I am just writing for myself, is that enough motivation to do all this work?

Before I finish, I haven’t talked to Joe today, but I know he is in a place he loves; even if the weather forecast was right and it is raining on him right now in Maine.

From Rebecca: Vacation update

Joe called me today to check in. He is having a great time and said that the fishing is fantastic. Maine’s weather forecast is for today to be the last clear day and that the next two days will have a lot of rain. I was able to tell him that I am ok and that his cat Keekee is fine. Joe is half way through his vacation now, and will be back early next week. Keekee will be so happy when he gets back.

My nephew and I checked in on Keekee on Sunday and stayed about fifteen minutes. She was fine and enjoyed the canned cat food I gave her. Today when I came to stay a couple of hours and work, she was very glad to see me. She let me pet her a lot more than she did last week. And she is shedding! A lot! She did that last year when Joe went to Maine, so I expected it. I always assumed she did shed more when he is away because of unhappiness, but I have another theory now. I think that when Joe pets her everyday he cleans out her coat just a little and it keeps her shedding down, but when he is gone and she is not petted as much, the hair accumulates. Whatever the reason, it is a lot of hair flying around. I pet her a lot today, off and on, while I was there and I expect to do it again when I go tomorrow.

It might rain here today, and I hope it holds up until I get home (I am writing this at Schlow library) but it might not. Wish me luck staying dry on my way home to my hubby.

From Rebecca: Words were coming slow today

I thought of a few different topics for this blog entry, but none are really panning out. I am on the public computers at Schlow library and I am running out of my allotted time. So, this will be a short post to basically say hello to you all.

I just saw that Joe posted on his Facebook page that he was at Southington CT last night and is doing well. He plans to be in New Hampshire sometime today. Yay Joe!

I don’t know how many of you know a role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons, (D&D) or its companion game Pathfinder. Joe has been playing D&D with my husband Darren and me for two years now. We have a lot of fun on our Saturdays around the table with our character sheets and dice. My husband Darren has played the game since he was a teenager. He is the Dungeon Master, (DM) which means that he takes the players (Joe and I) through the adventures and play all the characters that the players don’t play – like the monster we battle or the tradespeople that we get goods from. I have been playing D&D with Darren for about 10 years, since Darren introduced me to it a year or so after we started dating. Darren is a great DM, but he has wanted to be a player. So I agreed to DM if he did all the prep work and all I would have to do is run the game. I didn’t feel like I could do a good job of getting the adventure ready myself – there is a lot of work to it. Unfortunately for me, I still have to do some studying to learn things that I will use when running the game. And I also need to read through the adventure to be prepared for my players (Darren and Joe) when they get to each section. I will be playing the monsters that are defeated for treasure and experience points. Exciting; once I have done my homework! We will start the adventure when Joe gets back from Maine.

I am off now to feed Keekee, give her some petting if she feels like it, and organize a few files. Until next week, have good days and great weather.

From Rebecca: August again

Hi, Joe’s readers. Joe is on the way to Bear Spring Camps in Maine, and I am once again checking in on his cat Keekee during work hours (and one extra day in there) to make sure she has fresh water and food. I know from last year’s experience that now she does not need a lot of petting or attention from me (she barely interacted with me today), but by this time next week she will be clinging to me and shedding like crazy. She is always so happy when Joe comes home.

Joe measures the year from August to August, because his year starts at Bear Spring and he counts down the months until he returns there. And now we are in August. It has been a very good year for Joe. He continued with his blog and also compiled enough entries for a book out of it. I got my personal copy of Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger yesterday, and I am proud of my part of bringing it to publication. Joe did a great job with it, if I may say so. I did notice that we forgot to put the subtitle on the inside title page, but I think we can live with that mistake.

I’ve lost track of the Penn State Univ semester schedule, so I don’t know if they are still in summer session or intersession. I do know that the Fall session will start before the end of August and also our public bus system (CATA) will go back to full schedule soon. The summer only has a month or two left in it. How did that happen so fast? Oh, well. I don’t like the hot and humid weather of summer anyway. I think autumn is my favorite season, when it is warm but not hot.

Well, that is all in the future anyway. Today it is the beginning of August. Joe is on vacation, I am writing in the blog while he is away, and Keekee is fine. Happy New Year, Joe.