Monthly Archives: February 2014

Yet another snow storm on the way

Greetings, readers. Here we flippin’ go again. And that is to put it politely. The winter weather marches on. Just when the central PA area got cleaned out and we have enjoyed a few days of sunshine, my Facebook friends are announcing another storm is on the way. That prompted me to check the weather app I have on my computer, and although no accumulations are given, we are supposed to get snow anywhere from Saturday night right through Monday. Also included in that timeframe are my least two favorite words: freezing rain. Yuck!

Looking outside my window, a beautiful sunny day is staring me in the face, and it could be 75 degrees out there. I checked an hour ago on the computer and, alas, it is only 8 degrees. Looks can be deceiving. A friend of mine on Facebook warned me that our region will probably receive two more storms before the early signs of spring arrive. I can’t wait. Now, I know that I will actually complain about this when it happens, but right now bring on the triple digits. I am so tired of freezing to death.

Briefly onto something else. I worked with Rebecca’s husband Darren yesterday on the Kimberly project and it is going magnificently. Whether the novel actually does come out or not, I give him an A+ for effort. Whoo-hoot for Darren. He is up to 74 handwritten pages. Excellent progress for only a few months’ work. I am envious.

As for next week, Rebecca and I will have our usual three-day work week, including two blog posts.

I saved the worst for last, because I am not going to say much about it. This weekend is the dreaded State Patty’s Day event at Penn State University and as far as I know, there will only be a few choice places that will be serving alcohol. All other businesses, restaurants and bars who are abstaining, thumbs up.

Until next week, have a good weekend, stay out of the snow if you can, drive safe if you are in it, be well and happy reading.

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Time got away from me today

Greetings, readers. Something came up in my life that Rebecca and I needed to attend to during working hours, so I have run out of time to do a blog post today. Fortunately this doesn’t happen often.

I am working with Darren tomorrow to see his progress with the novel he is writing out of my play Kimberly, so I will be too busy to do a blog post tomorrow.

Look for the next new blog entry on Friday.

Until then, take care, stay safe, and happy reading.

Top ten list of worthwhile charities

Greetings, readers. This top ten list has been inspired by our long time Penn State University tradition, simply known around here as ‘Thon. We will put this very worthwhile charity in the list today as our #10. We did go to the internet websites of the charities to get a little background information, such as dates and mission statements, and we lifted some facts directly from these sites. So here we go.

#10. ‘Thon, properly called the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. [Began in 1973 by a group of students, it is now one of the largest student lead fundraising events. Students dance all weekend, for 46 hours, to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, fighting cancer in children. Usually millions of dollars are raised each year.]

#9. The Pennsylvania Lottery. [Since 1972, Pennsylvania has donated millions of dollars from the lottery proceeds to support programs for older adults.]

#8. UNICEF, formally called the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. [It was established in 1946 to respond to millions of children displaced, hungry, or otherwise in crisis at the end of World War II. They still operate today to help children.]

#7. Doctors Without Borders. [Began in 1971 to bring medical aid to troubled places.]

#6. The American Red Cross. [In 1881, Clara Barton and others began this organization in Washington D.C. after she went to Europe and was impressed by their Global Red Cross Network. Today they respond with aid in times of crisis and disasters.]

#5. Heifer International. [Founded over 70 years ago by Dan West, this organization lets people buy livestock – sheep, cows, bees, water buffalos – for people in villages who need them. The organization also provides training with the livestock.]

#4. United Way. [Began in Denver, CO in 1887, this organization raises money for other charities and helps co-ordinate relief efforts.]

#3. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. [Founded by Danny Thomas, in 1962, this hospital in Memphis, TN is committed to finding cures for childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases, as well as treat children of all backgrounds.]

#2. The Mia Foundation and other animal rescue shelters. [The Mia Foundation began shortly after 2010 to save animals born with birth defects who would otherwise be euthanized.]

#1. The Pine Tree Society Camp and other camps for children with needs. [Established in 1945 in Maine for children with disabilities, today the Pine Tree Society Camp is open to children and adults with physical and/or developmental disabilities.]

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

UPDATE: Feb. 26, 2014. The final tally at the end of the ‘Thon last Sunday was $13, 343,517.33. Today, I was talking to my friend Sarah Wetzel who works at the Panera cafe I go to all the time, and she told that in the past 4 years, they have raised $45 million for the Four Diamonds Fund. Whoo-hoot and a thumbs up to all the generous people.

OMG! What a night I had

Greetings, readers. Last night I experienced one of the more frustrating nights of sleep that I’ve had to endure in a long time. I know that people seldom remember every dream that they have in one night, but last night I counted four of them and remembered each one with relative clarity. I woke up this morning around 9:00 more exhausted than when I went to bed.

All four dreams had one person from my past in common; my high school girlfriend named Marilee [last name withheld for privacy reasons]. The first dream began at my best friend Dave’s house, with folks who live in my building mixed in the gathering. It was some kind of large dinner party, perhaps a holiday. Rather quickly, trouble arose, I got angry, and went home. When I got home, the first thing I wanted to do was call my girlfriend, which I did. It was Marilee, but a version the same age as I am now. She wanted me to come see her and I happily obliged. Now, Marilee and I in real life were never a romantic couple. In this dream, although not hot and heavy, we were certainly more of what people would consider a romantic couple to be. How nice it was to have someone to say I love you to and have them respond positively. That dream ended at 3:25 in the morning. What happened next was remarkable.

After a brief time up, I went back to sleep, and before I knew it I was almost continuing the same dream. I honestly can’t remember that ever happening to me. The second dream involved my Goddaughter, Ashley, Dave’s older daughter, with a big tattoo on her left shoulder. And again, Marilee was there to listen to what I had to say. I can’t quite remember whether I was objecting to Ashley’s tattoo or not, but Marilee was once again someone to talk to.

The third dream involved David and I in some sort of ritualistic wrestling contest in the front yard of my parent’s old house. It was pro wrestling gone wrong. I didn’t remember this next point until just now. When Dave and I were teenagers, in hotels on the way to Maine, sometimes we two rambunctious boys who were brothers at heart would play wrestling matches before the NFL preseason game began. Yes, boys will be boys; both Dave and I loved our wrestling. I do remember Marilee being in that dream also, but she was getting younger, as I guess we all were in my dream sequences.

The final dream, which I could only recall a brief moment of, was with Marilee as a little girl maybe eight or nine years old, with her mother standing behind her adjusting the collar of Marilee’s shirt. I was never so thankful to hear an alarm clock as I was this morning.

I’ve got a ton of imagery to sort out and already two friends have given me ideas to think about as to what my dreams meant. Must they mean something? I think all dreams mean something in their own way. I believe I will be faced with hours of reflection and many chances to unravel the mysteries. I have often looked for Marilee on Facebook and Twitter, but not knowing her married name doesn’t help much. Please, Lord, no dreams tonight. I don’t think I could handle any.

If anyone wants to chime in with their dream analysis, please feel free to do so. Until Friday, take care, stay well, and happy reading.

I hate the blasted winter

Greetings, readers. Thanks to this lovely nor’easter in the middle of February, the State College, PA area is in the process of having up to 7 inches of snow be dumped on it today. Now I know I’m crying big tears; I shouldn’t, because as Rebecca pointed out to me, the south-east including the D.C. area and Philadelphia have gotten zonked by much more snow. But it is still a lot for us to navigate in. Looking out on the roof of the parking garage from my window, the fresh white snow looks pretty, I must admit. But I know that by later today when all the cars have turned it to black, mushy gunk, it will lose its charm.

I’ve already had one of my two appointments for the week called off. So my long-awaited haircut will have to be another day. That reminds me that as soon as this blog entry is posted, I am going to have to go on-line and re-schedule said appointment. At this particular establishment, all appointments are made via their website.

I’ve probably said this before in other posts, but it bears repeating. One of the side effects that comes from my cerebral palsy is bad balance, so I would have a very good chance to slip and fall. All in all it is a very good day to make coffee in my apartment/office and just stay home. I have my Star Trek: The Next Generation library book, so I think that at 3:00 when the work day is done I shall begin it and take notes.

Next Wednesday, weather permitting of course, I must talk to my accountant about getting two chairs removed from my living room and a new replacement brought in. It’s becoming paramount now because Pop’s old recliner is starting to creak and feel a wee bit unstable. These chairs are just not sturdy enough for sleeping in night after night. I blame myself for its premature death.

In case people are wondering why this post is being written today and not tomorrow, it’s because Rebecca has the day off for Valentine’s Day. Next week, I am going to have a top ten list, which are always fun for me to create. If you are in the bad weather zone, please drive safely. Rebecca and I love are readers to view our work from their home computers, not from a hospital bed. So take care, have a happy Valentine’s Day, think spring, and happy reading.

It’s a hodgepodge day #2

Greetings, readers. Another work week has begun. It will be a slightly shorter one, because I’ve given Rebecca Valentine’s Day off to spend with her husband, Darren. Speaking of Valentine’s Day – not my favorite holiday – I think I will drown my sorrows in a tall, cold glass of beer from the bar across the street. That is what I did last year.

On to a topic related to my new writing project. The extra time which I have spent at my computer, while looking through my bifocals, has caused extremely tense neck muscles. It’s my body’s way of saying, “Hey, we aren’t used to this. Go back to playing your video games.” I have to fight that temptation. I am finally on a roll and I do not want to let my momentum stop. Although I did not type any new pages in the last couple of days, I did figure out where I’m going to be taking the story next. So, tonight or in the morning, I’ll be ready to go once again.

The weather is still brutally cold here in Central PA, and we are bracing for a winter storm now clobbering the south. It could dump as much as four inches of snow along with freezing rain by the end of tomorrow. Not good. We got that much snow this past Sunday and the roads were treacherous in some places. If ice is coming, the road crews will have to do better. I think I will be getting a few items from the corner store this afternoon and pretty much staying inside tomorrow except for an appointment. That will suit me just fine. I’ve two appointments in the next couple of days, and hopefully the weather will not interfere with either of them, especially my haircut appointment. I am beginning to look like one of the Beatles from the late 60s; too much hair and beard.

As I approach my 300th post, Rebecca and I will soon be discussing the possibility next year of a second blog book. I’ve not decided for certain, but if we do put one out, there will be more added material than I put in the first blog book.

That is all my news for today, so as always, have a good day, stay warm and healthy, take care and happy reading.

My Fascination with Airplanes, a story by me

Greetings, readers. We got the blog post done so fast today, that Rebecca and I still have time in the work day, so I am sharing one of my personal stories with you, from a project that has, for now, stalled. I have some little pieces that may or may not be published in a book someday, and Rebecca thought it would be nice to share them with you. So, here you go.

My Fascination with Airplanes

            From the age of seven, I have been fascinated with aircraft of all types. I have lived in central Pennsylvania all my life and our airport was considerably smaller than it is today. In the pre-9/11 era, people could stand closer to the airfield. As a kid, I could literally stand by the fence and watch planes take off; you can’t do that anymore. Today, they have security walls and guards keeping you far from any real view. When our airport was smaller, single engine propeller planes were the status quo. Today you can hear small jets overhead. Jets are my passion.

My father, a philosophy professor, would sometimes teach overseas. Once in a great while the family would get to travel with him. My first experience on a jet was on a Boeing 747. As memory serves, it was approximately a seven hour flight. Being pampered by stewards and stewardesses, as they were called back then, was a real treat for me. However, my biggest thrill was take-off. As the jumbo jet rumbled down the runway, engines whining with power, the giant bird became airborne. I saw the earth fall away and the plane seemed to smooth out.

Within thirty minutes of the flight we were at or near cruising altitude. The now all-too-familiar “dings” of the smoking/no smoking signs were switched off, and we could truly get comfortable. In the 1970s, jumbo jets were equipped with one, perhaps two, movie screens. Nowadays, there are smaller screens every few rows. Another pre-9/11 luxury of aircraft was something called real silverware, instead of the now used spork. Meals were more elaborate and tastier. I won’t go into too much detail, but I’m still looking for the moron who served us spaghetti and meat sauce at 25,000 feet. I got a little sick.

Flying from New York to Frankfort was an overnight flight, so still being a young boy, I was easily able to sleep. When I awoke, we were approximately an hour away from our destination. I remember my disappointment when my parents told me that we were going home on a ship and not a plane.

Today, I get my thrills of flying through something called the flight simulator. It is a wonderful computer program. I can program the computer to begin at any one of 24,000 airports and “fly” to virtually anywhere in the world.

1,101 words since Friday evening

Greetings, readers. It has been a long time since I have been in a writing groove like this. Yippee! I’ve finally come up with a project which is fairly easy for me to do and it contains characters I’m familiar with. I am trying something brand new with this project. I am keeping a daily log of how many words are written each day. Wednesday I had a big fat goose egg of zero words on the ledger. 😦 And for the first time, I can actually say it bothered me. So, even though it was late last evening, I did get 220 words completed on the script, including having to go to Google Docs and translate two lines of dialog into French. unfortunately, I could not copy and paste from Google Docs to my document. So I had to type in French, not having any of the accent marks; those will come later.

I am embarking on a television script for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Yes, I know that series has been off the air since 1995, but part two of the project will involve turning it into a novel. It will be my third attempt at writing a novel.

My major sticking point is the creation of characters. That’s no problem here. They are created for me already. The next big step will be creating characters of my own. That has been my big sticking point problem up until now. When I wrote my play, Kimberly, the story line was certainly strong enough but the four characters were as flat as pancakes. Especially Lyle, the husband. Even after four drafts, I couldn’t make him any stronger. Thanks to Darren, who’s currently turning that project into a novel; he has fleshed them out and given all four characters much more depth. I’m extremely pleased with what he has done so far.

My writing surge, if you will, is thanks to three people. First of all, Rebecca, for her constant and gentle encouragement. Second, Darren, who has lit a fire under me with the wonderful progress that he has made. And lastly is a man named Ron Jones, who helped compose and put together the Star Trek: Next Generation music on compact discs which I am using to inspire me and get me into the Next Generation zone. That has proven to be quite effective.

Before we sign off, just a quick note about the weekend plans. On Saturday evening is D&D gaming night with Darren and Rebecca. 🙂 Since it is the evening session, that will leave me several hours to continue my work on this new project. Gaming night relies on the weather being good. So far the snow storm predicted for the weekend is apparently going to track south of us. Today is sunny but still dang cold. Spring, please get here soon.

Until next Wednesday, have a great weekend, stay warm, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: My two writers

I am surrounded by writers. Joe at work and my husband, Darren, at home. Joe started writing this week on a screenplay using characters from a TV show, and I am impressed by the work he has done on it so far. When he is done, he might find a market for it or he will use the momentum to do another project that will sell.

Darren is taking Joe’s play, Kimberly, and adapting it into a novel. Every three weeks or so the two get together to compare notes and answer each other’s questions about the project. I am so proud and impressed with Darren’s progress and the direction he is taking the characters.

I edit for Joe and Darren runs some of his scenes by me, so I have a lot of opportunity to comment. Sometimes, when one of them is stuck at a point, my ideas can help with the writing process. Sometimes, when what I say undermines the writer’s confidence or idea, what I say can hurt the project and the writer. From bad experiences, I began to view new writing (when it is in the planning and first draft phases) like a tender new plant sprout, and I need to be careful not to trample it with the heavy boots of doubt or saying the idea would never work that way. I have trampled before and it stopped the project cold. I am tip-toeing around now, careful of the new ideas. Because I also know that an idea that might not sound like it will work at the beginning, might be a brilliant idea once it is fleshed out and in finished form; I learned from experience to be more patient. Both Joe and Darren have writing talent, and I know they will both produce good writing pieces when they get all the way to the end.

I read a lot of books, at least one a week, and have done so for most of my life. It is easy for me to have opinions about what makes a good read and therefore good writing, but the truth is I have not written anything of my own in a decade. Joe and Darren are putting their bodies in chairs and putting words on paper, day after day. When they have finished the first drafts, my editing work will begin. I admire them, and I am honored to be a part of their team.

As Joe would say, take care, keep warm, and happy reading.