Monthly Archives: September 2013

Lots of turbulence in my building

[Names withheld from this post for privacy reasons.] Greetings, readers. I’m in one of my funky moods again today, because I learned that a dear friend of mine is being evicted from our apartment building; a handful of other folks think she’s too much trouble. Add to the equation that my name was on the list of people who complained about her, and that is an equation for me to be extremely upset. What to do, what to do?

Apparently my friend has run out of options and now wishes to leave; I guess simply to end her misery. In all my life, I have never seen people gang up on one person like this bunch has done to my friend. I think it is sickening. She’s late middle-aged with health difficulties. Why couldn’t we have just left her alone? And yes, I say we – me included – for at one time another friend and I were trying to solve a problem using my friend as a go-between. That didn’t work at all. I’m not certain if that event got back to the office manager, but unfortunately lots of other events and complaints did.

This morning I was contemplating what I could do against the apartment manager for using me as one of her bullets in her gun. Like the coward that I am, I came to the conclusion that if I pushed the issue, I too might get thrown out on my ear. My accountant, who also acts as a legal go-between to my lawyer, might be able to offer some insight on any options against the office manager. Folks, this is not one of my happy bubbly entries. I am a very unhappy man right now. The friend I used to call Mama, I fear now thinks that I let her down and betrayed her. As anyone who has experienced this knows, this is not a pleasant feeling.

At least for the next several weeks, I’m going to be leaving and entering the building through our back door. I wish to bypass the lobby at all costs. As for my mail, I can pick that up any time of day downstairs, even late at night if I wish. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I just signed a new lease here. But trust me, when this lease is up, I am not renewing. Ok, I’m done ranting.

As usual, take care readers, Have a good day and happy reading.

Nothing like a good kick in the butt

Greetings, readers. Yes, nothing like a good kick in the butt to get a junior hoarder to clean his apartment. On Monday, I had a-replace-all-the-sprinklers-in-the-apartment/inspection and had two weeks to prepare for it. But just like me, I waited until the last weekend, and in a blind panic got it just presentable enough to pass. Some good news came out of it though. I’ve come up with a strategy to continue the room cleaning process and take back my bedroom, now serving as my storage unit. I realize I might be saying some of this a second time because I wrote an entry last September titled, “I’m afraid I’m becoming a hoarder”. I’ve changed my mind, I’m definitely a hoarder but of the junior persuasion.

A lot of the things that I have kept are items from my past and also some belongings of my mom and dad. Those are the toughest to get rid of, and I must admit will be the last to go if they even do.

I still have record albums from childhood. I’ve not listened to them in 35+ years. Why do I still have them? Because my mom bought them for me. Big pieces of furniture sit in my livingroom from my parents’ house, taking up the entire back wall. Eventually I hope to get a floral-patterned chair the heck out of here. But my mom’s beloved credenza … I’m going to be buried with it.

Yesterday I did a little redecorating as I was planning the apartment’s new look. Some paintings got switched out, a clock was moved and a mirror was hung. Slowly but surely I feel like I will be able to whip this place into shape. And that is the key – slowly but surely. People with good health could come in and in one day have this dump so clean that you can eat off the floor. With my minor health issues, slow and steady will win the race.

I told my apartment building’s office manager that I would continue to work on the rooms until they were perfect. I’m not sure if she believes me. That is an extra added incentive. When the project is all finished, I am going to take pictures, walk them down to her office, and say, “See, I wasn’t fibbing.”

So until next time, wish me luck on my project. Have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

P.S. Keekee says hi. Meow, meow.

Report on Madden25

Greetings, readers. It’s official. I am addicted to this game. After scrimping and saving for months, I was able to save up just enough to purchase Madden25 (the 25th anniversary of Madden) online via the Playstation store. Here is my report on this game and my rating.

Having not played the last two Madden versions, I did not know that they had switched their announcing team from Cris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson to Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Sorry Cris and Gus, but Jim and Phil edge you out. That’s not to say that the old team didn’t bring style and class all their own. Now on to game play.

Madden25 has something called connected owner mode. It is simply fascinating. After one season of play, you can move a team, there are seventeen cities to choose from, and change the team name or keep it the same. There are usually three or four team names to choose from. For instance, the Rams could go back to Los Angeles or become the LA Aftershocks. Other cool team names are the Toronto Thunderbirds and the London Black Knights.

As always, you can adjust how many minutes per period you play and the skill levels. Even though I am using what they call custom sliders, I’m still winning rather easily. My made-up team the Portland Lumberjacks (I moved the Rams to Portland) are 8-3. Next season I will probably increase the difficulty level. As you know I am a glutton for punishment. My next season test will be to move a team to Barcelona and choose one of their two or three name choices. I’ve had the game two weeks now and I’m still learning. Such fun.

Now to the very slight negatives of this game. Sorry Mr. Simms but I gotta tell you that even though your commentary is excellent, I have two criticisms. And I don’t know whose fault they are. Number one I suppose is the developer’s fault for making a lot of your commentary way too repetitive. Second, I’m not sure if you do this in real life, but they have made you a very negative and picky broadcaster. When I say out loud to the TV screen, “Oh, shut up, Phil,” I know I’ve heard one of your picky comments, such as, “That’s just a bad play call by the offense,” too many times.

Other than the commentary being a bit too repetitive, this is probably one of the best video games I’ve ever gotten my hands on. As some of you know, I am a MLB TheShow baseball nut and Madden25 made me shelve the baseball game mid-season. As with all addictive personalities, the newness from this game will wear off, and I’m sure I won’t play it quite as much in the weeks and months to come.

Now for the four final grades.

Gameplay: A+

Commentary: B-  (The sideline reporter, Danielle Bellini is a definite highlight.)

Ease of Game Play: B+ (The verdict is still out on this one, for I am still experimenting.)

Other intangibles, such as ambiance and team movement: A+

Final rating: A- (A good solid 9.75)

Ok folks, let the debate begin and please do chime in with comments if you wish. I will respond.

Until next week, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

The Changing of the Guard, a story by me

Greetings, readers. I want to share a story from my third Bear Spring Camps book with you. I am now on the fence about writing BSC 3 this year after all. I will let you know when I am writing it again in earnest. For now, I want to share one of my favorite stories that I wrote for the book so far.

Until tomorrow, take care and happy reading. I hope you like this story.

The Changing of the Guard

            This camp season, 2013, was a particularly satisfying one for me. When I was a young boy visiting Bear Spring Camps, I had my Uncle Cy Greco to love and care for me, to take me fishing, to tell me stories, and to teach me about life. Now that he is gone, I cherish those memories, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him at least once.

            For the last few years, I have sat at Dave Trost’s table with his family, of which I am honored to be a part. His grand nieces and nephews have become a huge of part of my life as well as his. We take them fishing and on boat rides, but it’s times when the sweet little girls, Ava, Kennedy, and Emma ask Uncle Joey for story time, where the experience comes full circle. Now I am the uncle figure, set to enrich their lives.

            This particular year contained two very fulfilling story hours. The first took place at Ava and Kennedy’s cabin where their parents were outside having a bonfire. I volunteered to entertain the young ones and shared my stories and experiences from Bear Spring Camps. The five children there were Paul and Luke Gonzales, and Ava, Kennedy, and Emma Harvey. The children also enjoyed hearing about how their Uncle Dave and Uncle Joey met and became friends as young kids. I told them their Uncle Dave was our paperboy, and a few years older than me. I was being picked on by a couple of neighborhood kids and Dave took exception to this. After chasing the kids away, we quickly, over the next few days and weeks, became great friends. Dave would save the last paper to be delivered for Mom and Dad’s house so that he would be done with his route for the day, and be ready to toss that ball around, or listen to a record.

The other story they really liked was when Dave and I as teenagers were at camp and he thought he heard something outside the cabin. He went to investigate in his bare feet. I heard him trip over something, and moments later saw him stumbling back towards the camp. As it turns out, he had broken his big toe on a large stump. Mom was down in Waterville visiting Jiggs Mosher and was not there to witness David’s injury. He had told me that he didn’t want Mom to find out. I reluctantly went along with this and promised to keep my mouth shut. We both came to the conclusion that he should try to wash the dirt out of it, and all the kids got a chuckle when I explained David’s reaction when the water hit his toe. It hurt so bad that he pounded his fist against the shower stall. It sounded like rumbling thunder. The next morning, with Mom being unaware that anything had gone wrong, Dave tried to put his foot in his shoe. He let out a yelp or made face or something, which I tried to imitate for the children. They were not laughing at Uncle Dave being injured; they just liked the silly face I made. Mom figured that all wasn’t right and demanded an explanation. I went ahead and told my mom what had happened the night before. Mom wondered why we were trying to keep the injury from her; I’m not quite certain but I think that Dave was a little embarrassed that he had gone outside in the pitch dark without shoes. It was either that or he perhaps thought that she would take him to the emergency room and who wants to spend the day away from camp at the ER? He convinced her that he was ok and just wouldn’t wear a shoe, which made walking bearable.

            As I sat there in that cabin with children all around me, not only did I feel like an uncle, but I got the sense that if this is what parenting is, I love it. To be able to tell children stories, to entertain them, and make them smile, is truly a wonderful thing.

            I promised to tell them more stories the next night at the bonfire, but it rained. I didn’t want to break my promise, so a few nights later I held a story evening in my cabin. With cousins Paul and Luke Gonzales having already gone home, it was just Ava, Kennedy, and Emma who were brought to my cabin for more stories. The girls were given a soda and had a chance to choose where they would sit. Even though it wasn’t a terribly cold night outside, I turned on the camp’s propane heater so that we would have a flickering flame, to make-believe that it was our own campfire. Over that priceless hour, the girls wanted to hear the tale of how Uncle Dave fished for his old shoes, that he had discarded in the lake years earlier, and they wanted to hear another adventure from when we were both children. I, of course, gladly complied.

            Somehow I get the feeling that I will never be a parent. So helping to raise David’s nieces and nephews, and now the grand nieces and nephews, is my chance. With the love and affection Uncle Cy showed me over the years and the compassion I learned from my own parents, I am ready to be a parent or uncle figure to these wonderful children. It has come full circle. I am now what Uncle Cy was to me. The guard has now been changed.

It’s a multi-topic day!

Greetings, readers. Last week I wrote that my ex-wife asked me to look into two events scheduled for September 11th in Washington D.C. After research on the internet in the past few days, hunting for information dealing with the 2 Million Bikers ride and the American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC) march, we found not much of anything to report. apparently, the bike ride through the city went off without incident, even though they were denied a permit by the Park Service to ride through the city without stopping for red lights. As far as the Muslim march, originally called “The Million Muslim March” and later renamed the “Million American March Against Fear,” led by Rabbi Alam, apparently only roughly a dozen people showed up for it, according to a friend of mine who saw it on the news. I’m not certain if that was due to lack of planning on their part, or if people who would have shown up stayed away instead because it was a day of mourning. Trust me when I tell you, readers, Rebecca and I spent almost an hour looking up resources on the internet today and I was expecting to find lots of articles to use for facts. When facts were extremely hard to find we realized that these stories were barely a blimp on the radar and have passed into history.

Now, on to a progress report on how my personal days went. As will always happen with me, my progress was slower than I anticipated but a lot did get accomplished. One of the main objectives that I’m trying to fix is my hoarding problem. I’m having to go through personal items such as things that were my mom and dad’s, as well as other odds and ends, that I want to make a final decision on; keep them or finally get rid of them. One big task is what do to with my father’s classical record collection. My friend across the hall has shown definite interest. Once problem solved.

What was going to be a rather leisurely experience has been kicked into a higher gear, by the fact that there is going to be apartment maintenance done to change the sprinkler heads. They are everywhere in my apartment, including my walk in closet doubling as my storage space. Between now and Monday morning, I somehow have to get this place presentable for the staff to inspect it. This should not be an issue but I’m not going to kill myself either. It will be what it is.

Lastly, after the thunderstorms that passed by several days ago, State College Pennsylvania has experienced glorious weather with cloudless warm days and clear cool nights. I sure could go for that. But as the joke goes, in State Cloudy, PA, good weather is the exception rather than the rule.

Until Friday, when Rebecca and I will have another interesting topic to write about, take care and happy reading.

:-) #200!!! :-)…… and more

Greetings, readers. Today is a very happy day for me for it is the 200th blog entry.  Many good entries and one book have come out of this project so far. Rebecca and I have had a lot of fun coming up with our ideas for the different posts.

At this time, I would like to offer heartfelt condolences to families and friends who lost loved ones on 9/11/01.  Basically because I forgot to look at my computer’s calendar, I failed to see that today, Wednesday – our blog day – was indeed the anniversary of the attack.

Before I go into the ‘and more’ section of today’s blog entry, I’m going to let Rebecca chime in with anything she would like to say on this milestone blog occasion.

{From Rebecca: I am so proud of Joe for writing so much on this blog so consistently. I know that most people who start blogs run out of material and commitment before the first year mark. Joe is approaching his two-year anniversary of this blog and he is still going strong. Congratulations, Joe, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the next hundred posts.}

It came to my attention the other night from my ex-wife that two million motorcyclists (2 Million Bikers) are coming from California to Washington D.C. today for a peaceful drive-through in support of those affected by the 9/11 attacks and to protest another group’s event set to take place in Washington. She asked me to write a specific blog entry about their cause. I agree with my ex-wife that this is a topic worthy of its own blog post. The fact that I am taking a few personal days will delay this entry. It will appear as our next entry, Wednesday or Thursday. I’m going to be researching all angles so that I can make an intelligent informed report.

Very briefly, I am going to share with you why I’m taking these two personal days. Much has been on my mind in regards to my health. That’s point #1. Point #2 is that my depression seems to have returned. Two days ago I absolutely could not leave my apartment, and yesterday I had to force myself to get my day started hours later than I wanted. I have experienced these problems before and they are temporary. I know the steps I need to take to rectify them.

So until ASAP, enjoy your week and weekend, take care, and happy reading. And again, thank you readers. #201 and beyond is coming.

Top ten list of Air Crash Investigation stories

Greetings, readers. As I’ve mentioned before, begin fascinated with aircraft, I watch the TV series Air Crash Investigation. There is a huge part of me that likes to understand what goes wrong when aircraft don’t make it to point B. Here is a top ten list of Air Crash Investigation episodes that I have studied, not really in any particular order.

#10. “Catastrophe at O’Hare” – American Airlines flight 191 [The year was 1979 and a DC-10 aircraft lost an engine – literally – right after takeoff. With hydraulic fluid leaking from the wing, the plane never stood a chance. All on board were killed. It was determined that the engine was removed, serviced, and incorrectly re-mounted.]

#9. “Blow Out” – British Airways flight 5390 [Year 1990. Due to an incorrectly refitted windscreen that blew out, the captain was partially sucked out of the cockpit. Two flight attendants hung on to his legs while the co-pilot wrestled with the stricken plane and successfully landed it. The captain survived.]

#8. “Unlocking Disaster” – United Airlines flight 811 [Year 1989. 747 From Honolulu Hawaii to Auckland New Zealand. The locking clamps on the cargo bay door opened causing an explosive decompression.]

#7. “Turning Point” – Northwest Airlines 85 [Year 2002. The top part of the tail rudder went to one side due to mechanical failure and would not come back. The long flight luckily had two crews aboard who took turns wrestled the plane and landed the flight at its point of origin, Anchorage Alaska.]

#6. “Lockerbie” – Pan Am Airlines 103 [Year 1988. A terrorist planted a bomb inside a radio and packed it in his suitcase, which was put in the cargo hold.; the passenger never boarded the plane. All on board are killed and parts of Lockerbie Scotland are also destroyed when burning debris fell.]

#5. “Focused on Failure” – United Airlines 173 [Year 1978. DC 8. The captain fixated on a landing gear light that malfunctioned to the extent that he did not realize that he was running out of fuel, even with warnings from the crew.]

#4. “Lokomotiv Russian Hockey Team” – YAK Service 9633  [Year 2011. YAK 47 Russian airliner. Co-pilot had a nerve problem that was never reported and he didn’t know he was putting his foot on the brake, which kept the nose from lifting from the ground.]

#3. “Cracks in the System” – Chalk’s Ocean Airways 101 [Year 2005. Due to horrendous maintenance practices and stop-gap repairs the right wing of the plane broke off shortly after take-off. The flight never had a chance.]

#2. “Hudson River Runway” – U.S. Airways 1549 [Year 2009. Just outside of LaGuardia airport, birds flew into both engines and caused a double flame-out. The captain landed the plane on the Hudson River.]

#1. “Missing over New York” – Aviancia 52 [Year 1990 . From Colombia to New York, the flight was put in several holding patterns due to bad weather. Because of bad communication between crew and air traffic controllers, the fact that they were running out of fuel was never truly understood. The plane went down with fuel tanks empty.]

There you be. These are the ten episodes of this series that I have studied the most. The episodes that have intrigued me and that have made me angry. MY thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims.

Until next time, when we post number 200, take care, enjoy your day, and happy reading.

UPDATE: On June 13, 2014 I wrote a post on a specific episode, #4 on the list above, Lokomotiv Russian Hockey Team. Here is the link to that entry, if you wish to read it too:

UPDATE: On February 1, 2017 I did another top ten list of Air Crash Investigation episodes that I have watched and studied. If you wish to read it, here is the link: Thank you for reading.

Rolling the dice for a friend

Greetings, readers. I have just come from a meeting with two good friends of mine regarding the living status of someone who I call Mama. She lives in the same apartment building as I do. In my opinion, she’s being treated unfairly. I won’t go into any specifics, but after hearing from her on many occasions, I felt I had to step in and help.

As a general rule I am not a boat rocker. I like to live my life, do my own thing and keep my nose clean. But I cannot stand back and watch what I consider harassment of a friend any longer. So I rolled the dice and invited friend number two to meet with my tenant friend. In my estimation the meeting went very well. Whether or not it gets me in trouble with the apartment building’s management is up in the air. If it does, I’ll deal with it. It is time for me to take a stand.

I get my caring nature from my mother and father. Mom always loved to help people and did so often. I think if she were alive today, she would be proud of me for going that extra mile for my friend. If there are any repercussions to me, friend number two and I can contact my lawyer. I do not feel that I am in any danger.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, on Monday night we had one heck of a ferocious thunderstorm slowly roll through State College. The good news is that for the last two days we have enjoyed sunny warm weather with low humidity. My bedroom door which sticks every summer no longer does. Whoo-hoot.

This blog post is number 198. Number 199 will be a top ten list and number 200, with Rebecca and I putting our heads together, will hopefully be something awesome and worthy of a big number like 200.

Until soonest, take care, enjoy your day, and happy reading.