Monthly Archives: December 2016

I wish everyone a very happy 2017! :-)

Greetings, readers. This blog entry is going to be rather short one. I want to wish everyone a very happy new year. I have had many personal ups and downs this past year, and am looking forward to 2017. The highlight of the year was, of course, getting engaged to Traci. My marriage proposal to her during my latest show was a special moment for both us. The lowlight for my apartment building and its community was the loss of a number of residents this past year. It is always a shock and we miss them.

On Monday afternoon, the Penn State Nittany Lion football team will play in the Rose Bowl vs. USC. A friend told me that two players on the Penn state team have been suspended. That is not going to help our chances of winning the game. However, I applaud the coach for taking action if it was truly necessary. That takes guts.

I shall be doing all of my traditional things on New Year’s such as watching parades, football games, and, on New Year’s Eve, watching the ball drop from Times Square.

After the holiday season is over, Rebecca and I will get back to work on a fairly regular schedule. This coming Wednesday, however, I need to take Traci to an appointment, so Rebecca will do a blog entry from here at the office.

A most joyous and happy new year to all my loyal readers and friends. Please leave a comment if you wish and let us know what some of your New Year’s Day traditions are.

As always take care, have a great holiday weekend, and happy reading.

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We began blogging 5 years ago on Thursday!

Greetings, readers. I got a notice on my WordPress.com page that I have been blogging, with Rebecca’s help, for five years now. Wow! Time sure does fly. With almost 600 entries completed, we’ve no end in sight. We have blogged on a variety of topics, from plane crashes to R.I.P.s to reviews of video games and everything in between. Are we going to keep going? Of course!  🙂

I’ve said before that I try to stay away from blogging about politics. This coming year, I might take a stab at it. I’ve always been shy about sharing my political opinion, until this year around the election. In years past, people have told me that my candidate was the wrong choice, or that my beliefs were incorrect; I shouldn’t believe this, I should believe that instead. Every four years I get a headache so terrible I feel my head will explode. Well, I have opinions and I can stand by them. I can write about them in this forum.

Other topics that we’ll be blogging about will include what’s going on in the news and R.I.Ps to famous actors, actresses, singers and other people of note.  Rebecca also suggested that perhaps I blog about other episodes of the show Air Crash Investigation that I have watched and particularly enjoyed. The original entry, Top ten list of Air Crash Investigation stories, is still the one that has the most views of all the other blog posts put together. The post I did after that on one of the episodes, The Air Crash Investigation episode on The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team crash, also gets regular views. The entry, In memory of Air Florida Flight 90, is very popular, too. I know I have a morbid fascination with airplane wrecks, so I will try not to choose this topic to often.

No matter what topics I write about, I look forward to another year of sharing them with you. I am grateful that you take the time to read my words, and that some of you respond with your own thoughts in the comments.

Before I go, I want to wish Rebecca well. She’s been a tad under the weather. I’m happy to say that she is doing much better and will be back with us next week.  I shall put up another blog entry either tomorrow or Friday.  Until then, take care, have a great day and as always, happy reading.

Merry Christmas everyone

Greetings, readers. As my regular readers know, I love Christmas and this time of year. I try to keep up with as many family traditions as I can. I have my decorations up, but not as many as I would have liked. I did my annual Christmas light ride with Traci, who is now my fiancé, and we both had an excellent time. Just as we had given up all hope of seeing the Santa Firetruck, there it was, returning to base. They must have begun a bit earlier than in years past.

I hope you and your family are having a great holiday, too.

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

From Rebecca: Playing Axis & Allies with my husband

My husband, Darren, introduced me to the game Axis & Allies, and a few other games, in the first year of us going together. Axis & Allies is a strategy board game based on World War II. One person plays for the axis countries and the other person plays for the allies countries. The rules explain how to split up the countries if there are more than two players.

The game is very complex, which is what Darren loves about it. There are land units (like tanks and infantry), air units (like fighters and bombers), and water units (like carriers and submarines), and they all have their own rules for movement, attack, and defense. The game uses six-sided dice to determine if attack rolls or defense rolls are successful, which adds a bit of luck into this game of skill. The rules may take longer to learn than for simple games like Clue or Risk, but beginners can play Axis & Allies without too much trouble.

I have my favorites of the land, water, and air pieces. I love tanks, though they cost 6 money units to buy, because they move two spaces on the board and are a hit on 3 for both attack and defense. That means that they hit when I roll the dice and get a 3, 2, or 1; they miss when I roll a 4, 5, or 6. Battleships are great (20 money units to buy!) because they can take two hits before being destroyed, and destroyers are good because they can bypass the special powers of the submarines. Bombers (12 money units) are great for attacking because they attack on a 4, hitting on a 4 or less, but they are bad when defending because then they only hit on 1s. The variety of pieces and rules makes for a game of complexity and depth. Like chess, a person can improve greatly over time and work out strategies to do better each game.

There are many versions of this game, and Darren has most of them. Europe, Pacific, global (which is both Europe and Pacific combined), 1940, 1941, 1942, Guadalcanal, and one set in WWI. The axis countries are Germany, Italy, and Japan. The allies countries are Great Britain, Russia, France, United States, Australia with New Zealand, and China. The basic rules are the same for each edition, but there are a few changes that keep the games fresh for experienced players.

I like the game a lot, but after ten years of playing it with Darren, I had gotten tired of it. For a few years we rarely played it. Then this year we started playing it a different way and it has worked very well for me. We play only one round in a day, leave the board set up, and play the next round another day. By the time I get tired or it is hard for me to keep focused, the round is over. This solution wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works great for us. We played through a Europe game twice in the last six months, and are about to start a Pacific game. I miss having the dining room table available, but that is the main downside and I can live with it. Playing two games so close together this year, I noticed my strategy plans and skills getting better. Darren helped me a ton during the first game, and not as much in the second. I am looking forward to seeing how much better I do in this upcoming game.

Darren likes playing with me, but he also misses playing with other people, with different skill levels. He used to have a couple of friends who would play, but for one reason or another they haven’t been around for a while. If any of you are interested or know anyone who would be interested in playing Axis & Allies with Darren, let me know in the comments and I will get back to you to make arrangements.

Joe should have a new post up before the weekend, probably tomorrow. I will close as he does: Until next time, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

My thoughts on Fuller House season two

Greetings, readers. I’ve already talked about the Netflix original series Fuller House in a previous entry last March. Season two came out December 9th and I watched all 13 episodes in a two-day span. Yes, I’m a binge watcher. This is my review and I must warn you that there are SPOILERS. If you haven’t watched the new season yet, you might want to come back to this and read it, after you do.

I found season two just as entertaining and satisfying as season one. Both of the heart-throbs D.J., played by Candace Cameron Bure, had previously been dating, begin the season with new girlfriend’s, much to D.J’s disappointment, but she ends up with one of them by the end of the season. I won’t say which one. Also, Stephanie, played by Jodie Sweetin, gets a boyfriend. It was so cool to see Stephanie with a steady love interest. There is a touching scene towards the end of the season where D.J. counsels her sister not to push people she loves away, and to embrace the love she has received.

One of my favorite characters, young Max, played by Elias Harger, is a wonderful little actor who plays his character with spunk and spark. I’m not sure where he learned his acting skills, but he is brilliant. Towards the end of the season, he meets his puppy-love girlfriend, Rose, the daughter of Steve’s girlfriend C.J. Rose is played by Mckenna Grace. The two are magnificent together. The children imitate what they see grown-ups do for romance, for example they act out the famous bow railing scene from the film Titanic, but with such innocence that it comes off as clean and sweet. This storyline probably won’t last, but boy I wish it would. To see these two grow up together, grow close, have their first meaningful kiss, etc., would truly be a pleasure.

Kimmy Gibbler and her husband Fernando, played by Andrea Barber and Juan Pablo Di Pace, began the series almost divorced. Now in season two, they are back very much in love and caring for their daughter Ramona, played by Soni Nicole Bringas. Miss Bringas is a wonderful dancer, and the actress has a marvelous on-screen presence. Fuller House has showcased dancing throughout its two-year run with many of its cast members joining in. I love the music and their creative expressions. They even had the New Kids on the Block featured in D.J.’s birthday episode.

If I had to give this series a negative mark, believe it or not, it would have to be for the presence of Danny, Jesse, Rebecca, and Joey, played by Bob Saget, John Stamos, Lori Loughlin, and Dave Coulier. The actors are all in their late 50’s and somehow just don’t fit in. I get the sense that the actors are trying way too hard. Especially Bob Saget, whose over performance in the mid-life crisis episode was almost laughable. I know, I know, Danny Tanner was always the comic relief as the house-cleaning geeky dad, which worked back in the original series, Full House. It just doesn’t work in Fuller House.

A very sweet moment took place at the very end of season two, when Jesse and Rebecca adopted a baby. Next year, there will be another bundle of joy, saying her first words.

I’ve tried to be as thorough as I can with my report of Fuller House, season two. I hope I didn’t give away every plotline. From all indications, there will be a season three, more than likely in seven to eight months. I give season two a solid 7 out of 10 rating. I think this series could go on another five or six seasons if it wanted to. But please, give the Olsen girls anything they want to make an appearance during a holiday episode. Either that, or kill off the character of Michelle. It truly looked bizarre to not have Michelle, played by either of the Olsen twins, in holiday episodes where everyone else in the family was present.

We will not be working next week here at the office. Rebecca will put up a blog entry sometime on Wednesday on a topic not known yet. On Thursday or Friday I will put up a blog entry myself, more than likely dealing with how my Christmas holiday is coming along. Until then, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Donald Trump has ruined the country I love

Greetings, readers. I am a nervous man. I read the headlines on the internet news pages and I am seeing things going horribly wrong. What’s worse, President-Elect Trump is not even in office yet. He is making choices that I highly question, such as appointing people to head government departments when they oppose the work of those departments, and he does not intend to get daily intelligence briefings. Today I learned that four Republican electors might change their vote to change the outcome of the election. The problem is, who would go in next? Vice President-Elect Pence is no better than Donald, in some ways he is worse. What I would love to see happen is to allow the American people, who overwhelming gave Hillary Clinton the nod in the popular vote, their choice. Is that going to happen? Hell no. Why? Because that would be the right thing to do, and the United States of America hardly does the right thing anymore.

We need gun laws, but no, that interferes with our right to bear arms. So, teenagers and children can get shot up in schools and drive-by shootings. Sorry parents, that’s the Constitution for you. The American dream has become the American nightmare. When I was a kid, the American dream stood for enough money to buy a house, at least one car, and to be able to pay your bills without worry, and maybe even have a little left over for a week’s vacation at the beach. Now, both parents have to work at one or more jobs that don’t pay much, and between child care costs, bills, and grocery bills, people are lucky if they have any savings at the end of the month at all. I’m 51 years old, and for the first time in my life I look around my town and I am scared. There has been an increase of homeless people here, folks who just can’t seem to make it anymore and have given up.

The economy has grown somewhat, as I understand it, but to me those are just numbers. It seems that a lot of people have not seen better times yet. I don’t know how well off we really are, and I certainly don’t think we should have changed the political party in charge at this particular time. Although President Obama had his flaws, the economy did seem to pick up and we have a skeleton health care program which can be improved on. The Republicans wish to scrap it and begin again, leaving everyone who benefited from the Affordable Care Act in the lurch.

I feel like hopping on the ship Queen Mary II, or the Queen Victoria, and doing the immigration trip in reverse. I could visit my family in Holland for four years. Would I move there permanently? No. But right now the U.S. of A. is leaving me with such a sour taste in my mouth that even Listerine isn’t helping. I suppose I’ll be forced to give Donald Trump a chance, but I won’t wait long to bail. My nerves can’t take it. Do I want the President-Elect to drop dead? Absolutely not. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. But it would be nice if he just left office on his own. No other President-Elect since I’ve been born has made me this jittery. Time will tell if my mind eases.

Until tomorrow when we will have another blog entry for you, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

Had a wonderful visit with Dave

Greetings, readers. From Thursday night until this Tuesday morning, I had my buddy and brother here visiting me. We watched old football games on YouTube, went out to eat, and chatted about everything so as to get caught up. It was a very satisfying five days. I always enjoy it when Dave visits, though he doesn’t get to visit very often because of his work schedule.

Thursday afternoon was filled with chores such as doing the laundry, making up the bed, and vacuuming. I wanted to have some resemblance to clean here in the apartment, which I affectionately call the swamp.

Dave arrived late on Thursday evening on the Megabus and I picked him up in front of the nearby bottle shop. It didn’t take long to get back home and the party began. We stayed up until 2:00 in the morning getting caught up. Not to sound negative, but that was a mistake. For those of you who read Rebecca’s review of my Friday show, you know that my energy was lacking. I was not, however, going to say, “Okay Dave, we’re home, go to bed.” That would have been rude as hell.

Saturday we went out to dinner at a local Indian restaurant before watching the Penn State football game. I was a little bit worried that my fiance Traci, and Dave for that matter, wouldn’t like Indian food. They loved it. I always get the same thing, creamy lentil beans over rice. Delicious.

At 8:00, Dave and I watched the Penn State versus Wisconsin game for the Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Penn State got their doors blown off in the first half. So much so, that David got disgusted and went to bed. I stayed up and watched the come back of the century. When we won the game, I had to be quiet instead of cheering like I normally would. Next morning I told Dave what he had missed and he informed me that he knew we had won by all the hopping and hollering outside, as students gathered in the streets downtown to celebrate. Unfortunately, that turned into a destructive riot in some spots.

On Sunday, Dave went to visit family and returned on Monday for our final full day. The week was fairly uneventful but most enjoyable. Traci enjoyed his visit as well, for she loves the family. She and I plan to visit them in New Jersey sometime in February, weather permitting, on another one of his long weekends. We’ll already looking forward to that.

Next week we’ll have two blog entries for you written here at the office. A special thank you to Rebecca for her show review, which was extremely kind and forgiving. Until next week, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Joe gave a personal and memorable show last Friday

Joe will remember December 2, 2016 for the rest of his life.

One of the reasons for that is the Going for Broke show, as he called it, that he performed in the community room of Addison Court for friends and a few special people. Regular readers know that David Trost, his buddy from childhood who he considers to be a brother, came to visit for a few days. Joe was happy to have Dave here for one of his shows. In attendance were also Joe’s girlfriend Traci and Traci’s sister and nephew. Joe included songs in the playlist for them and the show was one of his most personal performances. He shared with the audience that his first show was for his family when he was 10 years old, and he still enjoyed doing them for friends and loved ones. I will get into his actual show in a moment, after I talk about the special event in the middle of it, which is the main reason Joe will remember this day.

Joe finished his first set with a special song for Traci from the Rocky movie soundtrack, “You Take My Heart Away” by DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford. Joe sang this love song directly to Traci, and she got tears in her eyes. He finished singing, then got something from the next room. Joe approached her chair, got down on one knee, and proposed to a very surprised Traci while her family shared the moment. Traci joyfully said yes. There was a break in the show, while pictures were taken and congratulations were said. The second set, understandably, was a little difficult for him to focus on for a couple of songs.

The first set was tighter than the second set. Joe started the show with three TV show theme songs, from Eight is Enough, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Love Boat. The first two themes are about family and the third is about finding love, which set the tone for the show. His next two songs were “Shout It Out” by B.T. Express and “Show Me the Way” by Peter Frampton. Then he performed the first of two Pat Benatar songs, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” after observing that he also does songs by female artists. He had two songs to honor family members. “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks was a request from Traci’s sister, and “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed from the soundtrack for Smokey and the Bandit was for Dave. He finished the set with three love songs that he sang with great feeling, obviously for Traci. “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille, “(Do You Love Me) Just Say Yes” by Highway 101 proceeded the above mentioned “You Take My Heart Away.”

Joe was nervous leading up to the proposal, but he was able to focus on his performance as he cued up his playlist selections on his computer, sang, and periodically added some air guitar and air drums. The second set did not go so well, and he almost canceled it at one point.

Joe was running his playlist off a website called Spotify, and needed an internet connection to play the songs. Because of some work being done in a nearby room, the connection he was using was off at the end of his break. We waited fifteen minutes, and then the show was able to begin again. Joe still had challenges. Last October, Joe was forced to postpone this show because of a sinus infection. Even though he is over it now, he was not able to rehearse as much as usual, and he forgot the lyrics a few times. He is also still recovering his energy and endurance and sat down for most of the second set. He said he was embarrassed, but we in the audience assured him we didn’t care if he sat, we just wanted him to be okay. He was still a little rattled, and had to start one of the songs twice to get the lyrics right. And then an employee brought in a big bin that had to be stored in the closet behind Joe, so he had to stop singing. With all these issues, it was not one of Joe’s favorite performances. But he persisted and gave his audience a second set.

He began it with a song for Dave, “Just Fishin'” by Trace Adkins, which was the song Dave danced to with his daughter at her wedding reception. It was a touching tribute to his buddy/brother. He sang “Foolish Beat” by Debbie Gibson, followed by the second Pat Benatar song, “Heartbreaker.” Then Joe took out a picture of his niece for a song that he first heard when he was spending time with her one summer and sang “Pieces of Me” by Ashlee Simpson. Her photo stayed up for the rest of the show. His next two songs were for the holiday season, “Silver and Gold” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” both by Burl Ives. Joe’s next song, “Clyde” by Waylon Jennings, was added just five days before, but Joe knew it so well that he sang it perfectly. He finished the show with the two songs “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra and “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins.

Joe may have had problems in the second set, but he succeeded in giving us in his audience a personal show that touched the heart.

David arrives tonight. Yay!

Greetings, readers. It has been a year and a half since my buddy and brother David has visited me from New Jersey. I always love it when he comes because we’ll sit and chat, get caught up, watch movies, and play video games. This time around I have some plans made for Friday and Saturday evening with friends whom David hasn’t seen in a number of years. Everyone is looking forward to it.

There’s always a lot to do to get ready for Dave but I love it. Being a bachelor, I sometimes let the place go and use the bedroom for storage. That has to change for five days. Now the question becomes, where do I put it all? Don’t worry, I’ll find a place. It’s not horrible swamped with stuff. After the Christmas season is over, I plan on doing a winter cleaning which will involve letting some things go that are dear to me. I don’t like it, I don’t think anyone likes it, but in a small apartment it is necessary. I already have a few ideas of items that will not make the cut, such as books and DVDs that I never use.

After David goes back home on Tuesday, I will meet my friend Jim as usual at Denny’s and then on Wednesday morning get ready for Rebecca to arrive and start another work week. It’s going to be a fast long weekend, and if it is anything like last time, I’m going to need a holiday from my holiday. That is fine with me because Dave and I are not the kind of people who just sit and let time go by, and call that a vacation. If I want to relax with a book or a meditation video, I can do that on my own time.

The last time Dave came, bizarrely enough, we watched Disney movies. I didn’t think I was going to like them. “Dave, these are for kids,” I said. We had a blast. I am hoping, however, that we chose something slightly different for our entertainment this time around. Netflix has lots to offer, and, of course, there is also the Big Ten championship game on Saturday.

Well, there’s what’s happening. We will have two more entries for you next week and I’ll share all the news from Dave’s visit. Until next week, have a wonderful weekend, take care, and happy reading.