Monthly Archives: April 2016

Body language and facial expressions

Greetings, readers. As I was sitting in Panera this morning enjoying my coffee, I had the opportunity to observe several people. Being a writer, I am always naturally curious about folks, and sometimes see them as potential characters for my writing projects. In the span of twenty minutes, I saw a plethora of body languages and facial expressions that told me precisely how these people were feeling.

The first couple was a young woman and either a very close male friend or her boyfriend. She walked up to him with open arms and when they hugged the sweetest smile came over her face. It seemed to me that he was a special person to her and she was overjoyed and content to be in his arms.

Another group of people were not having such a good time. One woman sat with arms folded across her chest, not smiling. I learned in sociology class at Penn State that this is a classic symptom of a person who is not happy and defensive. Although the threesome was not shouting, it did appear to this observer that all three opinions differed. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.

A staff member, who I am good friends with, stopped and talked to Traci and me for a moment. I could tell by the way she looked and acted that she liked her job and thought that she was pretty good at all the different tasks that she is assigned to. One day it might be prep, another day it might be wiping tables in the dining room area. While conversing with her, not only did I get the sense that she is happy with her work, but that she likes her customers and they are important. That is going to keep me coming back to Panera.

I got to observe a young college student working on her computer as she listened to music with earbuds. It is getting close to finals week here at Penn State and everyone is cramming for final exams. This young woman went from working hard to frantically searching her stuff for something she needed. She wasn’t in tears, but she may well have been if she hadn’t found what she was looking for.

Lastly, I have been in line at Panera during the busy times of the day and although the cashiers are taught to always give service with a smile to each customer, they know me and I know them and sometimes they let their guard down a bit. I’ll say, are you having a tough day, and they’re smile and shake their heads yes. I never pry, but I make light conversation, such as, don’t worry, it’ll get better, or something positive like that. Most of them seem to appreciate it, that a customer cared enough to inquire.

As a writer, I’ve observed people for many years and will continue to do so. If you have observed anything worthy of note, please leave a comment, here or on my Facebook page.

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

The technological age is starting to scare me

Greetings, readers. I have seen YouTube videos and read on-line articles dealing with the wonderful new technologies in computers and robotics. It is causing me to wonder how much technology is too much. One TV commercial sells a doorbell with a little camera in it that, via your smart phone, you can see who is standing at your front door. The only benefit I can see from this is to make it look like you are at home even when you are not, in case that person is up to no good. Or, if you have forgotten an appointment that someone shows up for, you can apologize and tell them you will hurry home, if possible. The big problem I have with it is, depending on how much it costs, is it could be a waste of money. If the UPS man shows up, and you miss him, you have the option of asking him to leave it at the front door or hold on to it if you are afraid of theft.

Another interesting invention I’ve seen, created in Asia, are life-like humanoid robots which come complete with inter-active learning skills. Most can carry on a conversation, and some can get you your favorite beverage, and actually remember what it is after they are told once. I have no problem with that to a point. But when are humanoid robots going to take jobs from humans, such as working at a retail store, because they are so much smarter? These robots are absolutely incredible, but we need more jobs for people, not fewer.

As far as automobiles go, back in the 1950s and 60s, anyone with any kind of mechanical know-how could fix his or her car. Today we are driving junior space shuttles. A friend of mine told me that her car quit and would not start and all that was wrong with it was an oxygen sensor. Not the oxygen intake, the sensor itself. Think of it, folks, one sensor and the whole car shuts down. Too computerized for my liking.

Do I want to go back to the 1800s and live a life where there is no technology? No, I’m not saying that. But there has to be a point in time where we say an invention is just a little bit too scary. If that turns on us, we could be in trouble. Enough is enough.

Please chime in, in the comment section, with what you think about the technical advances of the modern world. Until Friday, have a nice day, take care, and happy reading.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m going to forgo the KISS concert

Greetings, readers. The other week, I saw on the electronic billboard outside the Bryce Jordan Center that my favorite band KISS is coming to do a concert in August. At first, I got happy heart palpitations. But after thinking about it for a while, I realized that being a person who has not made budget in six months, there was no way I could realistically expect to save up for a ticket.

I have seen my band in the past. They came to State College in 1996, 1998, and either 2000 or 2001. So if I miss them this year, I will not cry in my beard.

KISS has been my band since 1975. You would think that the urge to go to the concert would overwhelm me and that I would have to get a ticket. So far, not so. I will admit I do suffer from impulse shopping, so I was happy to see that I was able to resist the urge to stop the bus, run up to the ticket counter, buy a ticket, and get back on the bus. Maybe KISS really isn’t the band for a 50-year-old after all.

I think another reason why my interest is low is that none of my friends are big KISS fans. If there were three or four of us who could chip in the money for the really good seats, and make a party evening out of it, that would be one thing. Instead, I would be going alone, for my girlfriend does not like the band, and I would also have to worry about such things as the noise level and blinking stage lights setting off a seizure.

Time will tell if I will call the ticket office just to see how cheap the cheap seats are, but I really do believe that I will not be going to this show. For me, a KISS fan who has every album and most CDs, I call that a budget victory. One battle won, many more battles to go. 🙂

R.I.Ps go out to former WWE wrestler/manager Chyna (real name Joan Laurer) and of course, to pop music star Prince. You will both be missed.

Until next week, I wish everybody a fantastic weekend, take care, and happy reading.

It is a lazy day Wednesday

Greetings, readers. Have you ever had one of those days, when you feel completely unmotivated to do anything? Well, today is one of those days for me. It is a gorgeous day outside, not a cloud in the sky. We had our meeting with the accountant, and once we got up to the office, the engine went into neutral.

Rebecca and I started talking about politics, for our primary is this coming Tuesday. Who will I vote for? Gee that is a toss up. Quite frankly I don’t think any candidate is a great choice, but probably Hillary Clinton is the most qualified. With Mr. Trump also winning New York, that edges him closer to however many delegates he needs for the GOP nomination. If he gets elected, and has four miserable years, I just know that the rest of the world will say that we got trumped. Or if he does something right, they will say the president is playing his trump card. Can you see all the one-liners, folks?

Every day before writing the blog entry, Rebecca and I go over our blog statistics. Numbers have been good recently, such as visits to the About page and to the Home Page/Archives. We have been excited to also have some views on the page of My Books for Sale. Allow me to take this opportunity right here to tell you, my readers, that on my page, I have lowered the price on my three books. It will probably be a permanent drop. As far as I can see, the prices on the Amazon site have not dropped for they control those prices; I am not sure if I have any say on how much they charge for my books. They are available from certain book outlets, but I’m not sure how much it would cost to request it from your local book store.

Lastly, there is a brand new building going up near my apartment complex which is starting to take shape now, but the construction is causing major headaches for mid-day to rush hour traffic. When finished, one of the stores it will have that I can’t wait to check out is a new Target, the second for the State College area. There are a few movies I wish to look for and if I can get them for a good price, I’ll snatch them up. One of the films that is on my to-get list is the 1963 version of Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor. If I can get it for under $30, it is mine.

For a blog entry that wasn’t thought out too much, I hope this turned out well. Until Friday, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

Top ten list of my favorite cars

Greetings, readers. In the past I have given you my top ten lists of favorite TV cars, and favorite bad cars, but now here is my list of my personal favorite cars of all time. I am a car buff and have loved them ever since I can remember. The number one selection in today’s list is a vehicle that my mom had. I loved it and named it Maybell. The name stuck. So here’s my list. Hope you enjoy it.

#10. 1993 Ford Tempo [My mom rented this vehicle for me in Maine one year so that I would have a little putt buggy to go to town in, just in case she didn’t want to go with me. I guess she didn’t trust me driving the big Lincoln.]

#9. 2013 Chevrolet Impala [I rented this car in State College to go to Maine in 2013 and it was an absolute dream to drive. It was spacious and perfectly powered. I gave that car a 10 out of 10, even with the check engine light on the whole time. I was told not to worry about it, so I didn’t.]

#8. 1976 Ford Pinto [The car Sabrina Duncan drove in Charlie’s Angels. Even though the Pinto turned out to be a deathtrap, I still loved it because it was part of one of my favorite TV shows.]

#7. 1975 Buick LeSabre [This was, as some people called it, a big boat. It was a gas-guzzler, but it was beautiful. That year’s LeSabre had plenty of room, with a powerful engine. My aunt and uncle from Pittsburgh had one and I saw it every time they came to visit.]

#6. 1984 Ford Escort [I chose this vehicle as my used car to learn to drive on. Not only was I told by the Ford dealership that the Escort was very reliable, but the car’s color scheme, brown and tan, matched the speed boat my family had in Maine at the time.]

#5. 2015 Nissan Altima [My girlfriend Traci and I rented this vehicle to go to New Jersey this past Thanksgiving. Years ago I didn’t like foreign cars, they were too underpowered for me. Today the Altima and others like it have all the get-up-and-go you need. It also had my favorite feature, the push button starter.]

#4. 2015 Toyota Camry [In 2014 and ’15, I rented this car to go to Maine. It had many cool features; my favorite being a transmission that was either automatic or clutch-less manual at the drop of the gear-selector.]

#3. 1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo [I always loved the look of the Monte Carlos, but the ’79 model is my favorite, not only because of its looks, but because my beloved Uncle Cy had one. For those readers who don’t know who that is, he was a dear family friend I knew for years at Bear Spring Camps in Maine.]

#2. 1976 Ford Gran Torino, as seen on Starsky and Hutch. [Oh, I how I loved that red car with the white stripe. Every week my friend Mike and I would watch intently as Starsky’s sleek Ford chased the bad guys and, of course, never crashed.]

#1. 1976 Cadillac Sedan Deville [For me one of the most beautiful cars ever produced, though I admit I wasn’t born until 1965. My two favorite features of the car were: one, the motorized radio antenna which would go up and down as the radio was turned on and off. And, the second stylish feature was the light indicators, near the hood of the car on the sides, which showed the turn signal and the high beams when activated.]

Well, there’s my list. Please do chime in with your list if you wish to, either here in the comments section or on my Facebook page. This entry in #501 and here’s to heading for #1,000.

Take care, have a wonderful weekend, and as always, happy reading.

Thank you readers for staying with us. Here is #500.

Greetings, readers. When Rebecca and I began this blog in late 2011, I never dreamed that we would still be going now. Not only are we still going, but numbers and popularity seem to be on the rise. I know quite a few regular readers personally. I love it. Today’s entry is going to be a thank you and a quick recap of some of our most popular blog posts.

It is with my deepest gratitude and my appreciation that I say a heartfelt thank you to all the people who have read this blog over the years. Some of my regular readers leave comments, and I take the time to read and respond to each and every one of them. It helps me to have that feedback and connection when it happens. I am grateful to the readers who have reached out to me.

The most read blog entry, by far, is still Top ten list of Air Crash Investigation stories, from September 2013. This probably is caused by the continued search for the downed Air Malaysia 370 flight. But I also know from the search terms used that I can see in the stats, that a lot of the views for this entry are from fans of the show. I also am a fan, which why I wrote it in the first place. It still intrigues me that so many look at this entry each and every day. It is always at the top of the stats or near it. Many people have also looked at my follow up about the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crash, though not as many have looked at that as have looked at my post In memory of Air Florida Flight 90. Suffice it to say, that the blog entries about airliners and airline disasters seem to be my most popular.

Another entry that comes up a lot in the stats every month is the one I wrote in 2012, Remembering my father, Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans, and that truly warms my heart. The majority of comments I have received have been from former students of his, and their kind words about my father are special to me. To think that Pop is still enriching people’s lives years after his passing is truly amazing.

The entry that Rebecca and I still get a chuckle about is the Top ten list of modern conveniences, from February 2013. Rebecca and I both think that it’s being used as a teaching aid, perhaps in a college or university. If any of our regular readers know what this entry is actually used for so often, please do tell. We would love to know.

The From Rebecca series is also quite popular I’ve noticed, and they do get many reads, which I’m sure puts a smile on Rebecca’s face. I think it is cool too. The one that keeps coming up so much is From Rebecca: A little bit in a hurry. We don’t know why. It was written in August of 2012 while I was on the road to Maine a few years ago.

We have a direct link to Facebook and Twitter. My friends on both social medias learn about the new blog entry almost immediately after it is published. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed that more and more of my friends are coming over from there to read my blog. I am extremely happy about this. I have 250 some odd friends on Facebook, and it is exciting to see the numbers that are generated from there. They seem to especially respond when I write about something extremely personal, which I will admit I don’t do all the time. I’ve known some of them for many years, and I care about them as much as they seem to care about me.

As I’ve said before, I have no immediate plans to end the blog. I am seriously considering self-publishing a second blog book. Most of my 500 entries were written after the first book, Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger, was published in 2013. Rebecca and I will work on that quite soon.

It is with my utmost joy and appreciation that I close this entry by once again saying thank you to you my readers who have kept this blog such a joy for me to write. Until Friday, have a great couple of days, take care, and, as always, happy reading.

Friday’s blog entry… today {Sunday, April 10th}

Greetings, readers. Friday was a most bizarre day, complete with early morning doctors appointments for both Traci and me. We had to be there by 8AM, so it was quite an early start for me. The alarm on my cell phone said, “Wakey-wakey” at 5:15! No, it doesn’t really talk. Ha-ha.

By the time Traci and I got home, we were both exhausted. I called off Rebecca and took a nap which lasted nearly all afternoon. It lasted so long if fact, that I completely missed my therapy appointment. Oops.

Anyway, the doctors told us that we’re both going to be fine. I always like good news. Speaking of news, I saw on the blog’s dashboard, that this entry is going to be #499. So, if all goes according to plan, #500 will be posted by mid-Wednesday afternoon. 🙂

So, until Wednesday, take care, have a great weekend and happy reading.


I should mind my own darn business

Greetings, readers. As the caring person that I am, one fault comes with that, and that is I always want to know how people are doing. I’ll ask people how they are, what’s new, and in general, strike up a conversation about anything. Most people don’t mind and converse back with me. Some give me the look like I’m the talkative mentally slow guy. That hurts a little, but I know where I’m coming from, so it really doesn’t bother me that much.

I think my friendliness stemmed from two places: my parents’ upbringing and Bear Spring Camps. My folks were very caring people, always loved a good conversation, and would go out of their way to help somebody. At Bear Spring Camps, friendliness is the key word of the day. I remember many instances in the main dining room where friends and I would talk about the morning fishing trip or how the afternoon happy hour went.

When I was a youngster in school – and this might stem from being an only child – I would say hi and be friendly to anyone who would accept me. This had its advantages and its disadvantages. The advantages were that I did make some good friends. But, as we all know, kids can be cruel. Those that didn’t like my chatter, let me know it in a rather not nice way.

My best friend Dave always kept me entertained by playing ball or listening to records, so after school I always had someone to talk to. When he wasn’t around, I would put on the headsets and start to sing. That is why there was cracked paint in my room. Ha ha. For as long as I can remember, I just haven’t been able to close my mouth for too long.

I’m trying to mind my business more as I get older and I think that is a good thing. My friends know that if they need me they can count on me. But I really don’t need to know who an ambulance is for or where the fire trucks are going.

Wouldn’t you know, lo and behold, we mis-counted how many blog entries we have, even though the blog dashboard tells us after each one. So tomorrow will not be #500. That will be next week instead. Sorry to get your hopes up, but it is coming.

Until next time, signing off from #498, take care, have a nice day, and happy reading.

It is a wacky Wednesday

Greetings, readers. Well, we’ve had another weird Wednesday. The meeting with my accountant went longer than usual, though it was a good meeting. I had a couple of office errands to do. And both Rebecca and I had a phone call to make. We blinked, and it is now 2:25. We have exactly 35 minutes to write, edit, and publish our blog today.

Rebecca and I both find that most Wednesday are like this, though this was a little weirder than most. During my phone call, I was told I called the wrong department, and put on hold twice to get to someone from the correct area. There went 15 minutes. I know, I know, people have been on hold a lot longer than that. As some of you know by now, I am a complainer. What can I do?

A little bit of news about Friday. Unless I’ve mis-counted, if we put a blog entry up today and tomorrow, #500 will be on Friday. Wow! A big milestone. I can’t believe we have made it here already. Rebecca and I were talking this afternoon, and we figured out that our blog began in December 2011. Time sure flies when you are having fun.

(EDITED) For tomorrow, Thursday, I am going to have a blog entry on an as of yet unknown topic. For Friday, for the 500th, the topic will be to say a big thank you to all of my readers, who have stuck with me through the years, reading my posts about such mundane topics as the weather, my technology problems, and gaming. I do appreciate your loyalty very much.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, stay warm( if you are in the Northeastern’s cold front, and happy reading.

No blog entry today…, April Fools!!! :-D

Greetings, readers. I just couldn’t resist that title. I used to love April Fools day until a school chum played a prank in one of our classes. He put glue on a few chairs. I wasn’t one of the poor unfortunate people whose pants were ruined, but I still thought it was a terrible joke to play.

Being picked on in school a bit, I was never one to pull pranks on others. I treated kids like I wanted to be treated. Did it work? For the most part it did. My mom got me one time. She came into my bedroom, just before the alarm went off, and told me that there wasn’t any school that day. She let me jump for joy for a good 30 seconds before giving me the smile and yelling, “Gotcha! April Fools.” Needless to say, I wasn’t amused.

Well, Rebecca is still under the weather, but she’ll be back on Wednesday. I’m not sure what our topic will be, but I’m certain we’ll come up with something interesting. Until then, have a great weekend, take care & as always, happy reading.