Monthly Archives: June 2016

To learn or not to learn

Greetings, readers. After many weeks of contemplating whether or not to go back and finish college, I am now leaning towards not. At least not full-time. I know this decision follows my pattern of never finishing anything. But after discussing the topic with my accountant today, we came to the realization that we would probably not make up the $80,000 or $90,000 that it would cost, in the ten years that I would have left to work. Yes, folks, I would be 55 or so by the time I was done. I was all gung-ho for this project a couple of weeks ago, and now once again I am depressed.

An alternative would be to go part-time, taking one or two classes per semester. That would drag it out even longer, but it would be easier on me and with the money. I have three possible majors in mind: Marketing to help me sell the books I already have; Writing to help me write more books; or Psychology in honor of my mother who was a psychologist. The first step will be to see what semester I take the first class in, in August or perhaps in January. The later semester start would give me time to get back from camp, possibly get that job at Panera, and settle in to the new year’s routine. Maybe the job will be enough to make me feel like I am a contributor in life.

Did I really want to finish college? It would have done wonders for my self-esteem and it might have opened up a career or two. Certainly it would have helped me with my writing. I’ve not ruled it in, but I’ve not ruled it out. At age 51, with a brain that sometimes acts like it is in oatmeal, I guess the question is, could I do it? Could I succeed? I guess I wouldn’t know unless I tried, would I? Those who don’t try, don’t get anything in life. Those who do try, sometimes fail, but are usually rewarded.

Besides being a bit bummed out about the whole college idea, I am currently suffering from mild caffeine withdrawals (pardon my yawn). I have had only decaf today and I missed my time at Panera. I’m sure I’ll go over this afternoon, but because of doctor’s orders I am drinking less caffeine and more water. I’m not exactly a happy camper. Not to jinx myself, but at least I don’t have a splitting headache. Though, I do admit that the experiment is working and the physical issues I was having are dramatically reduced.

For those of you who might be interested, my YouTube vlog is up and running. It is called the Joe Kockelmans Show and the only problem about it is that if I sing with music behind me, the video is blocked in 9/10ths of the world. My point on that is this: yes, I understand about copyright law, but I am not trying to sell it, and I am definitely not the Beatles or KISS. No one will confuse me for those bands or any others that I sing with. There must be some way around that snafu. Time will tell.

Until Friday, take care, have a great couple of days, and happy reading.

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A good day with technology

Greetings, readers. Upon arriving to the office, Rebecca and I were faced with a minor laptop issue. My AVG anti-virus was telling us that I wasn’t protected from identify theft. This was a problem. We went to the website for AVG and downloaded an update. I was most happy to find out that the problem was resolved upon restarting the computer. This allowed us to carry on with the second part of the work day.

I had a brand new debit card with the security chip in it I still needed to activate, and then I needed to plug the new expiration date into all my different accounts that used it for payments. I certainly was not going to do that with an identity theft issue, so I resolved that first.

I called the 800 number, followed the directions, and activated the card. Then it was off to six websites to update the card information. This was certainly not hard, it just took awhile. Probably we should have done the blog post first, but doing this chore provided me with the blog idea.

I was elated that technology actually cooperated with us for once. Usually our computer woes are so complex that it takes all day to figure out or we are on the phone to Best Buy’s Geek Squad. I understand that fixes must be done from time to time, but they do not make for a productive work day. I’m glad this was not Technology Grrr 12, ha-ha.

For my weekend plans I am going to tidy up and do laundry. On Monday, I will begin my new writing regime. I’ll get up an hour earlier, so I can be ready to begin work by 6:30. I figure I will write while I am fresh, and then around 9:00 I might reward myself with a simulation game. I have a couple of ideas in mind, so everyone wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed.

Next week, either Wednesday or Friday, I’m going to blog about the United Kingdom’s break from the European Union. Truthfully, that was going to be my blog topic today, but the break up was a bit more involved than I thought, and I will need some time to study it and take notes.

Also, a rather late R.I.P to the wonderful young actor Anton Yelchin from the reboot of the Star Trek films. I’ll do a more in-depth piece on him later.

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

Brrr, that was cold!

Greetings, readers. Today my hour at Panera came to an abrupt halt when, while talking to my girlfriend and gesturing with my hands, I knocked my full cup of cold water all over my lap. To most, that would just be an annoyance. To someone like me though, who suffers from a slight nervous condition and has a history of seizures, any sudden change in body temperature could cause problems.

Traci didn’t know what to do as I just sat there trying to catch my breath. It is a terrible feeling to know that you are sitting in a restaurant in soaking wet pants and can’t do anything quickly to make yourself feel better. I would have given anything for a warm-air hand dryer in the men’s bathroom. No such luck.

I told Traci that I was going to go outside and sit in the sunshine while I waited for Rebecca. It did feel good and the sun dried me out a wee bit. I felt bad leaving Traci there by herself, but she insisted that I go outside and warm up.

I was lucky because the temperature was warm but the humidity was low. With a light breeze, it was quite comfortable sitting there on the bench. I’m very thankful it wasn’t a rainy afternoon.

Before meeting my accountant today, I had to come up to the apartment/office, change, and make sure that we didn’t forget anything before the meeting time. I must admit to you that my morning drenching did put me in a slightly surly mood, but I am feeling much better now. The meeting is over, the blog entry is being written, and all appointments have been changed until tomorrow. The best news of all is that I had no ill effects from Panera’s version of Niagara Falls.

My nail appointment has been moved until tomorrow for personal reasons and actually that suits me better. After Traci returns from an outing of her own, I might invite her up for decaf or go down to her place for a visit.

Well, there is my day. I am learning to take mild upsets with a grain of salt. Even with the water faux pas, I am going to have a good day. I have charged up my PS3 controller, and will play a little baseball or football until coffee hour.

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

Thank you for making yesterday’s post the second highest day of views ever

Greetings, readers. Last night around 10:30 I turned on the computer to check the blog stat numbers as I usually do and I was pleasantly surprised. My average daily views range below 40. When I saw the number 112 on the screen I just about fell off my chair. I thought my mom’s tribute piece would resonate and it did. I wrote from my heart about a day that was difficult for me and you responded with love and kindness.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, my readers, not only on WordPress but also from Twitter and Facebook. The love I felt this morning, reading all the Facebook comments from folks I went to school and to camp with really made me feel comforted. And then I saw the comments from a few of you on my blog and I felt even more blessed. Mom was loved by many people and her loss has effected each one of us.

Again, thank you so much for leaving your kind words and comments and for your support.

Tomorrow I have a personal day due to a doctor’s appointment during work time, so until next Wednesday, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Thirteen years ago today my mom went to her eternal resting place

Greetings, readers. This is an emotional day for me. I lost my mom thirteen years ago this afternoon, June 15, 2003. It was Father’s Day, and Pop was having an unusually happy Father’s Day. He liked the gift I got him, and we were looking forward to a special dinner. Mom had sent me to the store to pick up an item that she had forgotten. I got the item, had a quick cup of coffee at the coffee stand, and when I got back she was gone. My mom was my dad’s primary caregiver, and after discovering her, I had to go and wreck his world.

My mother and I were joined at the hip. After years upon years of having things done for me and having my life made easy, I was now the one who had to help Pop and take over other responsibilities in the house. I was only 37 years old, relatively young to lose my mother, and I faced more years without her than with her.

I was indeed able to grow up that summer and I got a lot done, including helping Dad arrange home care and getting myself to Maine for the annual vacation at Bear Spring Camps. I was able to keep the same cabin and do all the same things that Mom and I would do. There was also a touching porch party in her honor which everyone who was in camp came to; only two people had prior commitments.

My mom was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1923. We moved from Pittsburgh to State College, Pennsylvania when I was three years old. Mom, a psychologist, had her private practice downtown in an office over a bank. Many a summer afternoon I spent in our car listening to the radio waiting for her to come down from work at 3:00. It quickly became a ritual. Sometimes on a Friday afternoon we would go to Burger King for milkshakes. I would usually get strawberry and she would get vanilla, her favorite flavor.

My mom was extremely independent and organized almost to a fault. Every evening she would have the preparations laid for the morning breakfast, so that all she had to do was turn on the tea kettle and oatmeal would be ready in minutes.

One thing I didn’t like about my mom was that she despised doctors and would never go to them. She died of congestive heart failure from smoking. If she had been on medication and under a doctor’s care there is a chance that she could have lived a few more years. But she did things her way and she chose how she lived her life.

One of my fondest memories of my mom was the song we shared from Percy Faith called “Theme from A Summer Place.” Back in the 1970s there was an easy listening radio station in Waterville, Maine. Every summer going back to camp for the evening, Mom would turn on that station and at least two or three times during those two weeks we would hear that beloved song. I currently have that song on a Spotify music playlist, and I listened to it this afternoon in her honor. I know, I know, I am just sentimental that way.

Mom, I said it the day you died and I’ll say it again. Thank you for being the best mom in the world.

Here is a picture of my Mom, which we photographed in the frame, since we could not get it out without risking damage to the picture. It might be a little grainy, but you can certainly see her.

Picture of a picture of Mom from the 1990s, as far as I can guess on the year.
Picture of a picture of Mom from the 1990s, as far as I can guess on the year.

Another short week for us, so if there is no blog entry tomorrow, I’ll try to put one up on the weekend. Until soonest, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

R.I.P to the Great Muhammad Ali

Greetings, readers. Last Friday, June 3, 2016, we lost my all time favorite boxer, the Great Muhammad Ali. Although I am not a huge fan of boxing, I did watch a lot of his fights on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. With Howard Cosell and later Jim McKay at the announcer’s table, it was a pleasure to watch the boxer work his magic. I watched many fights against George Foreman and Joe Frazier, and enjoyed all of them. When Muhammad Ali entered the ring, you knew he was the center of attention. The ring came to life. I’m sure most of his opponents knew that they didn’t stand a chance of victory.

I have an option, readers: to give you a biographical rundown of his career, or to tell you what he meant to me. I chose the latter, with a smattering of the former.

Muhammad Ali won his first heavyweight title under his given name Cassius Clay on February 25, 1964 over then champ Sonny Liston. It was considered an upset. 1964 was one year before I was born. I really didn’t know of Muhammad Ali until I was the age of 8 or so. His career was past its prime, though I was still able to enjoy a good number of his fights. Now with YouTube, I can find any one of them if I look hard enough.

Cassius Clay Jr., for religious reasons, changed his name to Cassius X, and soon after that became Muhammad Ali. After finding Islam, he decided that fighting in the Vietnam War was wrong and he wouldn’t do it. We are linking the article from the USA Today where we confirmed the facts for this blog entry so you can dig deeper if you wish to.

A sad moment for me, I must admit, was at the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in 1994 in Atlanta, when he was handed the torch to light the Olympic flame. Suffering from Parkinson’s disease, the mighty boxer struggled with his hands but lit the torch. He was too proud to quit. I almost cried because I could see how much effort it took for him to accomplish his task. Whether that disease ran in his family or was the result of too many blows to the head, I do not know.

Muhammad Ali, you made me enjoy boxing, you gave it style and class, and you stood up for what you believed in. You will be missed by millions. Rest in peace.

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

My thoughts on Window 10

Greetings, readers. We are back in action after my Friday off. Today I am going to share with you my thoughts, likes, and dislikes about the Windows 10 upgrade I downloaded on the computer last Thursday.

It did take quite a while to finish; well past the time Rebecca left. Here are some of the good points.

By clicking the start button I have several choices at my fingertips, or in this case a mouse click, with lots of new and interesting features. From that button, I am enjoying a very easy-to-use calendar, I can link multiple email accounts there, manage my photos, and much, much more. Also, I can finally download many desktop themes, which I could not do with Windows 7. I love variety and all those extra backgrounds have really given my computer a new and exciting look. I can choose from multiple sandy beach pictures, photos of the forest, wonderful city skyline pictures, and the snowy Christmas set. These have really made my computer look nicer and come alive. The computer seems to start up, boot up, and shut down much faster, which is good.

What did the Windows 10 update not do? I was hoping beyond hope that it would help the AVG antivirus eliminate the pop-up ads that have plagued this computer for about 2 years. The first day it seemed to, after that not so much. I’m still learning exactly what Microsoft Edge is. I believe it is the new browser they have. I like the look and so far I have had no problems with it.

Time to give ratings. For the Windows 10 look: a 10 out of 10, no pun intended.

For new features: a good solid 7.5.

For problem fixing: well I really wasn’t expecting it to run like a new computer, only a 5 out of 10.

On a side note, on Friday, the blog will be a R.I.P. tribute piece to the great Muhammad Ali who passed away on Friday, June 3rd. And next week will be another short week for us with blog entries on Wednesday and Thursday. Doctors, doctors, doctors, ugh.

That is all the news I can think of for now, so until Friday, take care, have a great couple of days, and happy reading.

My day so far, June 2, 2016

Greetings, readers. I had a truly unusual morning. Small parts of it were delightful, other parts make me glad that it is therapy day. Here’s what happened.

I got up this morning at my usual time, was in the process of getting dressed, and the next thing I know I’m down on the floor. After saying a few choice words in frustration, I got up, finished getting dressed and I took my meds. I felt fine up until that moment. The reason for what happened is one of two things. A petit mal seizure which is very unlikely, or, my guess, I passed out from a momentary drop in blood pressure. Either way, we will be making doctor’s calls as soon as this entry is published.

Am I overly concerned? Not really. But I do have two trips coming up, one in July and one in August, and I would like to have options for my transportation. I hate to feel restrained and restricted. When I have mornings like this, I feel like calling off everybody and packing it in. But I am not a quitter, so I dust myself off and continue. I never have been a quitter, not even from childhood. I wasn’t very good at sports, but I was out there every day playing Nerf football or Whiffle ball.

I’m a little bit apprehensive about what the doctors will tell me to do. Luckily I have an appointment with a heart doctor tomorrow. What I don’t want for this weekend is for him to order a battery of tests. If he does, I’ll have to deal with it.

After meds and coffee, I literally fought with my computer all morning. Just when I thought I was able to work on some personal projects, my computer would run updates and need to restart. Oh, bloody hell! After a while, it almost became laughable. By 10:30, I shut down what I was trying to do and just listened to music. Things got better, as I met my girlfriend for coffee at Panera while we waited for Rebecca to arrive. The three of us chatted and had a pleasant time. I seem to have turned the corner from my frustrating morning and hopefully the rest of today will be more normal. Wish me luck.

As I wrote yesterday, we have a day off tomorrow. So until Wednesday, take care, enjoy the next few days, and happy reading.

Taking stock of my life

Greetings, readers. Over the last few days, I have experienced something which I must admit is worrying me. I was going to call this blog stop the world, I want to get off, but realized we already have two entries by that title. Here is what is going on.

I’m depressed and I shouldn’t be. I have everything I need, minus a car. My financial situation, though not ideal, is doable. I have plenty of free time, and good friends in the building who care about me. I also have a therapist who I see once a week. Couple that with me being on anti-depressants and I should be as happy as a clam and bouncing off the walls. I am not.

I feel like time is slipping away from me. I’ll be 51 years old in a little over a month, and the realization has hit me that more years are behind me than are in front. The three books that I have written weren’t big sellers at all and new material is once again stuck behind a brick wall. I vividly remember when I was in my 20s sitting down and cranking out 10 pages a day sometimes. I fear the well has dried up. If my seizure problems have truly affected my creativity, I’m in trouble.

Recently, I’ve found things I like to watch on YouTube and they consist of full flight real-life airplane videos. You read correctly. A man gets on an airplane, straps the camera to the armrest of his seat, aims it out the window towards the wing of the plane, and you get to experience the entire flight gate to gate. It is actually quite beneficial as background sleeping noise. The other night I watched one of his longer videos, a nine and a half hour journey from Helsinki, Finland to Tokyo, Japan, via Russia. It was an overnight flight, which afforded viewers a new perspective. Once the airplane was airborne, he aimed the camera towards the ceiling and you got to experience the flight attendants walking by, serving drinks and dinner. Ultra realistic. I also continue to watch and listen to nature sounds and other white noise.

I keep thinking of my parents and my old home. I ask myself what they might be doing at this time of the day or evening. Though reminiscing is fun, I’ve been doing a lot more looking backwards than forwards. I feel like I am going into a shell, not wanting to experience life anymore. I see my psychologist tomorrow and this blog entry will be the first thing we discuss.

Lastly, I’ve begun to make short YouTube videos, a vlog if you will, but no format or schedule has been set up. I enjoy making those videos, but fear not, I will continue writing this blog.

Rebecca and I may put a blog up tomorrow, because I have a doctor’s appointment on Friday during work hours. So until then, enjoy your day, take care, and happy reading.