Monthly Archives: May 2017

Virtual Bear Spring Camps

Greetings, readers. A few years ago, when I had the proper video equipment, I took all of my Bear Spring Camps VHS tapes that I had recorded over the years, and made myself something special. I called it Bear Spring Camps: The Day. Some of the highlights are an early morning video of the lake, seeing people in the dining room at a meal, an afternoon boat ride, and even a full ride in the car down to Belgrade Lakes and back. Back in the days that I had less to do with my time, when I was back home, I would sometimes put on these videos at the appropriate time of day and it would really make me feel like I was at Bear Spring Camps.

I made these videos from 1984 through 1987. I brought my camcorder with me every summer and would record, record, record. This is the same period of time when I sat down with Cy Greco and recorded conversations with him; those of you who read my first book, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camp Stories, might remember what I wrote about these fireside chats. Obviously not everything I filmed made it into Bear Spring Camps: The Day. But a good chunk of it did. My favorite part is one early evening inside the cabin when I rested the camcorder on the table next to my favorite chair. The radio was on in the background and I happened to record about 30 minutes of a country radio station. It completely recreated that after-supper-time-to-relax feeling and it did it very well. I’ve watched this part over and over again ever since and enjoyed all those songs. I found and added to my playlist for my last show “Do You Love Me (Just Say Yes)”, performed by Highway 101.

Could I mass produce these tapes and sell them? I think I have an idea here, if I had the right equipment or the money to get it. The virtual vacation. Sure there are videos on YouTube of sunsets, waterfalls, and rain on a canvas tent, but I’ve never seen a video that would take you through an entire day at camp. Maybe I could use to finance my idea. That will require some thought.

I know that this is the second Bear Spring Camps entry within two weeks, but I am still very excited about camp opening, the warmer weather in general, and my upcoming August trip. I will probably be making plans and reservations tomorrow, or next week at the latest. Drop me a note, here or on Facebook, if you think my idea of the virtual vacation is a good one. I might pursue it.

Until tomorrow, take care, have a wonderful day, and as always happy reading.


Facebook link on this blog

Greetings, readers. This is a short note about how my blog site works. I know many of you, my regular readers, are also friends with me on Facebook, and some of you are not. I have a link to my Facebook page on this blog site, but I know it won’t work for anyone who I am not already friends with there. I often invite people to leave comments on the blog topic of the day, either here or on Facebook. I want to acknowledge that I know the link only works for some of you. I welcome comments on either site with great appreciation.

If you are not my friend on Facebook, and you want to be, you can give me a request on Facebook and mention you know me from here, or leave me a comment below. I will be honored to accept. My Facebook name is Joseph Kockelmans.

On a different topic, this blog entry has to be short for Rebecca and I must get right to work on a pressing insurance issue. So until next week, I bid all of you a great few days, take care, and as always, happy reading.

My first week at my new job

Greetings, readers. As most of you know, this past Saturday I began my new job at a national fast-food chain. The first day was hectic, but I had a good trainer. Everyone seems to like me there, and throughout the week my speed increased. There are only two real problems. I got a relatively nasty burn on my finger, and my feet are killing me.

Never has Rebecca ever walked into my office/apartment and seen me dressed in tee-shirt, pajama bottoms, and my slippers. But with my 3:00pm work shift later today I am going to stay as comfy as I can as long as I can. I think I deserve that.

After my writing session with Rebecca today, I will catch the 2:20 bus to get to my work shift by 3:00. Oh, how cute I look in my blue jeans, black shirt, visor cap, complete with name tag. (Rebecca gasped here as I dictated this and had to see the name tag right now! She approved of it and said it is nice.)

Now for the negative part, and I don’t mean about the job. This is the job I wanted to get when I was 15 years old. My mother, God rest her soul, discouraged me from doing so. If I would have gotten it then, I would have had a greater appreciation for money and probably would not have been such a spendthrift throughout my life. With me getting married next year, though, it is time to start earning money. I am going to put most of my wages towards paying for the wedding reception. June 30, 2018 will be an extra special day.

Finally the pros and cons of my new job. The pros: I feel productive, I am earning money, and I am making friends. Not to mention the small dinner during my work break. The only two cons I’ve found so far is my lack of speed on the grill, which will improve, and my poor feet, which are not used to me being on them for 8 hours. I think my feet will adjust and get less sensitive the longer I work there. My shoes will break in and my stamina will increase. So far I give my new job a 4.5 out of 5 rating. It is awesome to be a working member of society.

The top ten list I mentioned last week will come next week. I’m still trying to get my work schedule pinned down to the number of hours I want and I think that will happen by next Wednesday.

I bid you all a great weekend, enjoy the sunshine if you have it, take care, and happy reading.

Bear Spring Camps opening day 2017

Greetings, readers. Although Bear Spring Camps has a relatively short season of only four and a half months, I do get excited on opening day. I’ve been going to this camp, located in central Maine, since I was five years old, and have truly loved every moment of it. As I get older though, and as my monetary situation changes, it is becoming obvious that my years at camp are numbered. I might only be able to go another three to five years. I have learned through inspirational videos to treasure every moment of life, which is how I am looking at the camp experience.

I saw on the Facebook page for Bear Spring Camps that Peg and Ron are beginning their 34th year of them running the business. The camp opened in 1910. Peg’s grandfather started it, and at some point her father and mother took over the day-to-day running of the camp. At the beginning, it was truly a fishing camp, with quite rudimentary cabins. Now they are quite plush and filled with modern conveniences like small refrigerators, and new wood stoves in some of the cabins. Last year my cabin got an upgrade with new wall insulation and a larger living room area. I really like it. I’m going to keep that cabin as long as I’m able to.

When I was younger, I would buy a calendar at a souvenir shop in Belgrade Lakes and number the days until I would be back at camp again. I was that obsessed with it. I don’t do that any more, but I do keep track of things like the camp’s opening day, closing day, and I still do get very excited about two weeks before I am to arrive for my week at camp in August.

I wanted to take Traci with me this year, and still might if I can talk her into it, as it will feel strange being engaged and not with her for 10 days. We will miss each other of course, and talk to each other every morning and evening on the phone. That is what we did last year and it worked very well.

As a long time Bear Spring Camper, I wish Ron and Peg Churchill and family a successful 2017 camp season, and I can’t wait until August when I will get there for my week at camp. I will fish, swim, go on pontoon rides, visit with family and friends, and have my annual happy hour. As many of you know, I am a man of tradition.

Next week I am expecting a two blog work week. One of them hopefully will be a top ten list. Until then, I bid you a great weekend, take care, enjoy the warmth, and as always, happy reading.

More plans for this summer

Greetings, readers. Last week I blogged about my plans for a restful summer and those plans are still in place. However, a dose of reality set in and if I am going to get married next year I had better get myself a job, and perhaps further my education. I am currently looking at Southern New Hampshire University on-line. I have seen and heard some good things about it. The only bug-a-boo would be the overall cost.

I looked at Southern New Hampshire University about a year or so ago and it was not a good fit then. But I have found a major/course of study in creative writing with emphasis on script writing. Right up my alley. If the school experience doesn’t break my bank, I think this would be well worth it. Not only would it flex my muscles and get me writing things other than the blog, but it might very well prepare me to be able to work in the television industry. That would be awesome.

The other big news is that I got myself an application for a local eatery and I’m going for it. I was not going to get a job until after I got back from camp, but if I could get hired, I could begin earning money right away. Although the wedding reception will not be extravagant, it will not be cheap either. We need, “money, money, money … money.”

It is sunny and warm in central Pennsylvania; something I’ve been waiting a long time for. I am definitely a late spring and summer person. Here in State College we expect a high temperature of 87-89 F. degrees. Three days ago we were struggling to break 55. What a difference. If I had my way, with Joe’s weather’s machine, I would have bright sunny days with white puffy clouds, some showers at night to keep everything green and looking beautiful, and snow on the ground around the winter holiday time. Obviously, no such machine exists. Bah humbug.

Lastly, I’ve got a doctor’s appointment right after work tomorrow, but we should have time to put a blog entry up before I have to go. I’ve had pain in my head for almost two weeks now. It is not crippling, just damn annoying. Please wish me luck on finding out what this is.

Until tomorrow, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

Penn State did not cover up fraternity crimes

Greetings, readers. As I dictate this entry today, I’m trying to hold on to my sanity. Last night was not a good night. My neuralgia head pain would not let me alone. I finally got to sleep around 1am. With knitting needles poking me in the head every half-minute, sleep, concentration, and work is difficult. But Rebecca and I press on.

I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to blog about the charges against the Pennsylvania State University students at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity concerning the death of one of their pledges, Timothy Piazza. I was shocked to hear that after the young man fell down steps the rest of the fraternity members, except one, did nothing. They wanted to sober up first before they called 911. As I understand it, one young man wanted to get help immediately but was overruled by his fraternity brothers. He is not being charged. Eighteen frat brothers are facing many charges related to his death, including reckless endangerment and involuntary manslaughter. I applaud Penn State and the authorities for throwing the book at these young men. They were old enough to know better.

The two things that really angered me were how long they waited to call authorities and the lack of urgency in the caller’s voice (the 911 call was released the other day). As I was listening to this 911 tape on an Inside Edition YouTube blurb, it was evident that the caller was desperately trying not to get into trouble but knew the situation was much more serious than he was letting on. He made no mention of the young man’s head injury. The only thing he did right was he said yes when the 911 operator asked him if alcohol was involved.

If I had my way, all fraternities and sororities would be shut down for five years. But, as Rebecca pointed out, most of them do a lot of good for charities, especially in regards to our annual dance marathon for children’s cancer research every February. The fraternity in question has been closed permanently. I applaud this move. My heart goes out to the parents of this young man who wanted to be a brother so badly that he agreed to be hazed, and lord knows what else, and consumed enough alcohol to not to be able to navigate steps. I hope underage drinking was not part of this but I believe it was. To all those young men in the fraternity who endangered someone who trusted you and then did nothing to help him, I have news for you. You’re lives are fucked. Enjoy it.

I know I am not usually this upset when I dictate a blog entry but I hate senseless deaths and this was certainly one of them. This was absolutely avoidable.

Next week we will have two more blog entries for you, on a much cheerier topic I’m sure. I bid all the moms a happy Mother’s Day and I bid my readers a good weekend, and as always, happy reading.

I am set to enjoy a productive and restful summer

Greetings, readers. Some of you might be thinking that my title sounds like a contradiction, but that actually is what I am planning to do. I have several changes in my daily routine already in place, including meditation three times a week. It is very cleansing. I’m also going to leave time in my daily schedule to write, write, write. Rebecca and I have been talking about that magic formula for me and we may have found it. Short stories in 15 to 30 minute play or script form which then can be turned into prose. I’ve only been good in long projects twice in my life, so perhaps that 500 page doorstop novel is just not in the cards for me. I don’t think I have the patience for it.

So what is in the cards for this summer? I have many things on tap. Task #1 is a complete overhaul of this apartment. By September 1st I want to turn the living room into the bedroom and visa versa. I also want to completely rid this place of clutter.

Task #2 is to improve my health through meditation and yoga. I’ve never done yoga before and to be honest I’m not exactly sure what all it entails, but if it can improve my health I will at least check it out. My diet is going to get an overhaul as well. With spring time here, fresh fruits and vegetables are in the grocery stores. Two of my favorite summertime treats are blueberries and watermelon. There is a bus that stops right at our local Giant supermarket.

Before I can go to the supermarket, however, a complete clean out of my refrigerator will have to be done. I get Meals on Wheels and eat them most of the time, but occasionally I don’t like what is offered, and on those dark cloudy days that I am depressed, it is ice cream dinner to the rescue. So I will admit that my refrigerator does get cluttered with some of their trays.

My final big project for the summer is to grab a friend, pay him or her a few bucks, and clean up my walk-in closet. I have a gazillion VHS tapes, DVDs, CDs, and cassettes. Every item will have to be carefully gone through to see if it makes the cut. If it doesn’t, out it goes. I need to be able to walk in my walk-in closet.

I must remember that even though I have set a target date of September 1st, I won’t beat myself over the head if I don’t get it done until October 1st. Let’s not forget that I will be away for 10 days in August for my yearly trek to Maine. I’m starting to feel better about myself and my apartment. I just have to tell myself that these changes will be done and the key is to do a little each day.

Tomorrow I’m going to be talking about an issue that took place here at Penn State in February. I was going to blog about it today, but after discussing it with Rebecca I was so upset about what happened that I need a day to cool down, so that I can calmly explain what happened and my feelings about it.

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

From Rebecca: My day so far, May 4, 2017

Hi, Joe’s readers. I would have started this blog entry earlier, but I had to wait for Microsoft updates to process. After my husband Darren used the computer this morning, it downloaded updates when he shut it down. When I turned on the computer early in the afternoon, it installed those updates – for an hour and a half! I’m not used to updates taking that long. I read a book for a while, Borderline by Nevada Barr, until Darren started playing a video game, God of War Ascension, and I started watching him.

Darren is still playing while I write this. He is occasionally getting his butt beat but is holding his own. Lots of hand-to-hand combat with a few puzzles here and there. I don’t play many video games myself, though I used to when we first dated and early in our marriage, but I love watching Darren play. Sometimes I can see things that he misses, especially for the puzzles, and then it feels like I am doing it too.

I slept in this morning, since Joe is taking a personal day today and I didn’t have to go into work. (I love being able to do the blog from home!) When I woke up, Darren and I spent some time together. We watched The Price is Right while he ate lunch and I ate breakfast. We watched a bit of the news, then I turned on the computer to do this entry, and then waited for the update.

Later this afternoon, Darren and I will clean the apartment. We clean as we go and keep it tidy for the most part, but every other month or so we do a more thorough job. One will take the kitchen and the other will take the bathroom and vacuuming. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to do, which isn’t bad. We used to do it every month, but we don’t get to it that often any more. We probably should though.

I will finish the night with the CBS lineup on television and a check on the internet. Everyday at some point I look at the sites, John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, Carrie Vaughn’s Filling the Well blog, Facebook, Twitter, and the web comics Questionable Content, Gunnerkrigg Court, and Girls with Slingshots. I look at other sites sometimes, like PBS, but those are my favorites.

So, that’s my day off. Cleaning, blog entry, internet, video game, television, eating, and my sweetie, Darren.

Joe will be back next week with posts. Until then, as Joe would say, take care, enjoy May the Fourth Be With You Day if you are a Star Wars fan, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Oh, what a storm we had

Greetings, readers. In central Pennsylvania this past Monday evening we had a one of the worst thunderstorms I’ve experienced in a long time. The clouds grew dark, the wind whipped up to past 50 miles an hour, and there was a torrential downpour. At its worst, the rain was coming down sideways. I was certainly glad that I was inside.

We had known about the coming storm all day and I caught many people throughout the morning checking out the weather apps on their smartphones to keep track of the impending storm. These folks wanted to get all their chores done and get home. I was with Traci at a doctor’s appointment and luckily, though it was windy, the rain waited until we got home.

Around 6pm the rains came. The power in my building flickered, went off for 30 seconds, and came back on. People in my building were lucky. Others around the area, such as Rebecca and Darren, not so much; they lost power for almost 3 hours. Some folks in the outlying areas had to wait until the next morning for their power to be restored, and in other areas, according to the Centre Daily Times, it might still be off until later today. Rebersburg, PA. got a F1 tornado.  Many trees and power lines blew down. A friend of mine who is a CATA bus driver told me that her daughter lost all the big trees in her back yard. I remember as a child how much I loved our big old trees at my house. I would have been devastated if a storm blew them all down. The bus driver also told me about her eerie ride home after work where all the businesses and street lights were dark where she lived. Years ago in a different power outage, I drove in the same conditions and it was strange. I had arrived at Denny’s just after the lights went out and I had to go back home without the aid of street and traffic lights; the intersections had been extremely dangerous.

After the rain the cooler temperatures rolled in and it is going to remain cool all week. Now I’m not complaining, but it is May. We should be in the 60s and 70, not in the upper 40 and mid 50s. This blogger is not very happy. But as I told the bus driver last evening, Mother Nature is fickle and can do anything she wants, we have no control over it.

Briefly, I saw a diagram on the Weather Channel depicting that the cool temperatures will be with us all week. There will a stalled low pressure system over our area because a high pressure system in the Atlantic ocean is not letting the weather system move off the East coast. Cool and rainy, not good unless you are a flower. Lol.

Switching gears, I’m taking a personal day tomorrow and Rebecca has agreed to post a From Rebecca entry for me, which I am sure will be a good one. Please look forward to that tomorrow. Take care, and until next week, happy reading.