Monthly Archives: June 2017

From Rebecca: Happy 4th of July next week

Greetings, Joe’s readers. The 4th of July is next Tuesday. We will celebrate the courageous and breathtaking chances our first leaders took when setting up the United States of America, and the people who carried forward the promises of a free and equal country. Our nation is experiencing a time of conflict and anger now, as it has many times before, and, like each of those times before, I expect the county will emerge from the struggle closer to freedom for all.

Our first leaders, coming from an experience of monarchy and long reigns for rulers, decided to base their new government on elections by the people being governed, and to have a peaceful transfer of power. No overthrowing (or killing) one leader to install another, but a voluntary giving up of power. That was such an amazing concept for a brand new country to even try. It is still an amazing concept even today. We see it play out on all levels, from school board members to state legislators, to governors, to federal legislators, to the president. That much turn-over in leadership, and it has made our country among the most stable governments in the world. That is something to celebrate.

We also have something to celebrate in these words from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

When I was a child in school, I was taught that the word men in this statement meant mankind, and included women and children in the unalienable rights too. I was also taught that when the country began, voting rights applied to only white men, aged 21 years or older, who owned land. That shiny ideal that all people are created equal and endowed with certain rights was a long way from practice when our country started. In fact, with slavery, indentured servants, and class systems, the country was as far from the shiny ideal as it could be. But it was a beginning.

Every day, month, year, decade, generation, and century that goes by we get closer to equal rights for all. With non-land owners getting the vote, the official end to slavery, black men getting the vote and then getting elected to offices, women getting the vote and getting elected to offices, the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the legalization of same-sex marriages, and every other step small and large, The United States of America has moved closer to that beacon in the distance. Social change is slow, even at times when it comes in big bursts. But no matter the speed, social change is always headed towards that awesome ideal given to us all at the beginning of this nation: That all are created equal with certain unalienable rights.

Happy July 4th everybody. Have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

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Top ten list of things gone by the wayside part 2

Greetings, readers. Today’s top ten list is a continuation of a previous entry of things gone by the wayside. It has been quite a while since the first part came out on February 1, 2013 and Rebecca and I have managed to come up with ten more. So here they are in no particular order.

10. Older aircraft. [Oh, the days of the DC3s, the Boeing 727s, and the DC10s. As most of you know, I am a flight sim buff and I’ve always enjoyed the older aircraft for their nostalgia. If I had a bucket list, one of the things I would do would be to fly on a DC3. They were manufactured in the 1940s, and according to the internet, there still are a handful of them still in service.]

9. Wholesome television shows. [When I was little, The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie were two huge hits for CBS and NBC. I always loved watching the Walton and Ingalls families go through their daily lives, whether it would be fun times or hardships. There was never really any violence in those shows and even if something bad happened, the goodness of the people in the community came to the aid of the people in need.]

8. Children’s lemonade stands. [These might not be 100% gone, but I’ve heard that in some states parents actually need to get a permit, and one poor child’s lemonade stand was shut down by the police for lack of said permit. I remember having a lemonade stand when I was 9 or 10, and later in life, if I was driving around town in my car and saw one, I would make it a point to stop and have two cups. Those kids deserved the extra quarter.]

7. Typewriters. [Oh, yes, the days of Wite-Out. I remember vividly writing my early writing career stories on a typewriter. As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite key is the backspace key; the old typewriters did not have that, hence my favorite product was Wite-Out. One college professor, I recall, did not allow Wite-Out and on one tough term paper it took me three tries to type the final page. When I was done, and I knew the term paper was just so, I threw the typewriter down the cellar steps. Mom laughed for an hour, saying, “I told you that one letter stuck, but you wouldn’t believe me.”]

6. The United States Football League – founded in ’82, ceased in ’86. [It took nearly a year to set up before playing began. The United States Football League, the spring time competition to the NFL, lasted just 3 seasons, ’83 through ’85. There were many factors to why it failed: #1, It expanded too quickly. #2. It paid humongous salaries with money it didn’t have yet. And #3. When Donald Trump, then owner of the New Jersey Generals, decided it would be a great idea to move to fall football and compete directly with the NFL, it was the beginning of the end. President Trump, you did not make the USFL great again, you killed it.]

5. Mom and Pop stores. [This one was going to be hardware stores, but Ace Hardware is still going strong so we changed to the Mom and Pop variety stores. You know the kind I mean, they sell a little bit of everything. State College had one such store, O.W. Houts & Sons, but when Wal-Mart came in, I knew it was only a matter of time before the Houts family would either sell or retire. I miss that store tremendously, it was part of my childhood. My mom shopped there every Saturday and sometimes I would go with her.]

4. Manners. [Quite recently, I was working the cash register at my job, when a mother and her two children walked up. The daughter, approximately age 10, gave me her order and said, “May I please have …” before everything she wanted. It was truly a wonderful thing to see; young children with perfect manners. I actually complimented their mom.]

3. Goodyear Blimp. [When I was a pre-teen, the Goodyear Blimp would always come to State College, Pennsylvania for one big Penn State home game. It would arrive on a Wednesday or Thursday, fly around at night advertising, and leave after the game. Over time, it began to only come the morning of the game and would be gone right afterwards. Now the Goodyear Blimp doesn’t come at all. We’ve had other blimps come and cover the games, but to me if just isn’t the same. Many an evening my mom and I would sit on the front porch in the fall and watch the blimp fly overhead and advertise their latest tire offers. Oh, if only to hear that low-pitched droning sound of its engines one more time. That sound is truly unique.]

2. Television variety shows. [Gone are the days of the Carol Burnett Show, the Sonny & Cher Show, and other such weekly variety series’. TV has evolved into mostly reality shows of a different sort now, mostly sleazy and sex related. And the one attempt at an old-fashioned variety show a couple of years ago was canceled after a few episodes. Take it from me, bigwigs of the major networks, the TV variety series is dead and gone. R.I.P.]

1. Handwritten letters. [This one holds a special place in my heart, for not that many years ago, I would write letters, and more importantly, Christmas cards. Yes, you can still buy Christmas cards and send them, but I’ve heard from retailers that sales decline every year. And why shouldn’t they, you can go on the internet and send any kind of e-card that you want for free on most websites. The fancier ones might only cost ninety-nine cents. That is still a much cheaper option then driving to Hallmark, finding that pretty card, bringing it home, putting a stamp on it, and taking it to the mailbox. I don’t know if writing letters will ever come back and replace email; I highly doubt it. I know it won’t for me. I have a dear friend in Romania and relatives in Holland, how easy and convenient it is to type an email, have the program spellcheck it for me, and after I hit send, the email the is half-way around the world within a minute. A letter would take a week or more.]

Well, there you have it, part 2 of things gone by the wayside. Tomorrow will be a personal day for me, and I’ve asked Rebecca to put up a blog entry for me. I’m sure she will do her usual good job. So until next Wednesday when we both return, I bid you a good week, take care and happy reading.

At camp this year, I’ll be taking lots of pictures

Greetings, readers. This year might be one of the last seasons that I go to Bear Spring Camps. When I was a kid, I imagined that I would go to Bear Spring Camps every year until either they sold the place, or I died. As an adult, more realistic choices have to be made. Money is an issue, though I might have enough for five more years of vacations. As most of us know, we can’t have two big vacations in one year, and there are a couple of other things I would like to do with that money. One thing I would like to do is take a three-to-five day cruise, perhaps to the Bahamas. Another thing would be to perhaps take a few days and travel to a destination that I’ve always wanted to see, such as taking in an Orioles baseball game in Baltimore, or going to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Okay, the cat’s out of the bag, I loved Little House on the Prairie when I was younger.

For this summer, I’m going to purchase several one-time throw-away cameras and click, click, click all over the camp ground. I want every shot from every angle. Also, if my friends agree, I would love to have pictures of them. I do understand though that some people are camera-shy, I know I am. I think the best thing to do is stick with taking photographs of the camp ground and surrounding area. I will miss Bear Spring Camps so much when I am not able to go back.

As I blogged about a week or two ago, I also have an idea for a small side business. With the camp owners’ permission of course, I would find all my VHS tapes that I filmed over the years, see if they can be put on a DVD or Blu-ray disc, and recreate a virtual Bear Spring Camps day. I would like to thank all the readers who read that blog entry; that one really seemed to pop, with people thinking it is a good idea.

What else am I going to do with myself in August when I am no longer able to go to camp? There are many local sites and activities here in central Pennsylvania of which I have never partaken. One is the Grange Fair at the end of August. Others are local amusement parks and camping grounds which have small cabins, where I could get that hint of relaxation and nature. Would it be as good as Bear Spring Camps? No. But it would be something close.

Yes, yes, pictures, pictures. Just in case my time is limited, I’m going to bring Bear Spring Camps to me. Later on today, Rebecca and I are going to check out GoFundMe and see if there is a way for me to get the Virtual Bear Spring Camps project off the ground. I will definitely keep you up to date on my progress. A lot of my regular readers showed interest in that idea. ūüôā

So there you have it folks, that’s the news for today. I’ll have a top ten list ready for next Wednesday. I hope you enjoy the coming days, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

It is a backwards day

Greetings, readers. This morning I got up at 5:00 wanting to use my new toy, AKA the new laptop I got last week, but my morning allergies said no. I had to go back to my recliner chair until Rebecca arrived at 9:45 this morning. Instead of getting right to the blog as usual, we made phone calls for doctor’s appointments and re-entered my website passwords. Oh, what fun. It didn’t help matters that Meals on Wheels was almost an hour later than usual, getting here a couple of minutes before my accountant. We had our meeting, and after that was left an hour and four minutes to do everything else we have to do, including this blog entry.

While we were waiting for my accountant, Rebecca and I looked at my blog numbers for the last week and I found them quite encouraging. Especially the number of views for the entry about my mom. Many folks from my Facebook page as well as the Bear Spring Camps Facebook page had a read and it is quite touching to me that my mother was loved by so many.

After a quick snack at Panera, I will have to dart to the bus to make it on time for my work shift, which starts at 3:00. Due to road construction, which made yesterday’s buses run behind schedule, I will need to get as early a bus as I can. If the same thing happens today, I’d rather be early than late.

Last night was super crazy at work. Three people called off, leaving me to be the only register person. I didn’t mind that, I can do that job, but when the fans of the local baseball team, the State College Spikes, brought in their coupons from promotion night, all hell broke loose because of my short-term memory issues. Two sandwiches per ticket with purchase, tap the promo button twice. Once I fully comprehended the concept on attempt number 10, things went more smoothly. We were so short-staffed that I was asked to work past my shift ending time, which I did not mind. I simply told my friend Jim, who had come to meet me, that I would be with him ASAP.

Although all the business made yesterday seem to go fast, I’m hoping for a nice slow day today at work. It would mean less stress on register and would give me more time to do my side work. I’m scheduled to work from 3pm to 8pm. Time will tell. After that, I’ll be off for two days. In essence, I get my weekend on Thursday and Friday.

Tomorrow we will have another blog entry for you to enjoy and next week I already have planned a top ten list. Those always seem to do well. So until tomorrow, I bid you a good day, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Construction zones

There seems to be construction zones on several streets in and around town. I do like good roads, safe bridges, and up-to-date gas/water lines. But it does get frustrating to find delays and orange cones on every trip out.

My husband Darren and I frequently encounter one project in particular. A small bridge on a street that is part of a highway, and a main artery through town, is receiving heavy maintenance repairs. The work has been going on for almost two months and is scheduled to run through July. Thankfully the work is being done without completely closing the bridge, with one lane in each direction staying open. It is still a delay to get through, especially during rush hours. Darren and I have to go over this bridge to get to his mom’s apartment, as well as get to the store from which we get her groceries, and the pharmacies for her medications. We will both be glad when the work is finished and all lanes of the street are open again.

Downtown also seems to have constant construction zones. One new building is finished, another seems almost finished, another building, on the other end of town from the first two, still has a way to go, and they always seem to be building on the university campus. This all adds to the construction traffic and lane restrictions around the building. Now, the town is also re-paving the roads. Last Thursday I crossed the street in front of the library to head to the bus stop and all was normal. The next morning I came from the bus stop to cross that street and the top layer was gone – it was milled. That was quick. They are doing the work at night when there is less traffic.

Another long running project is on and around the street my dad, sister, and nephew lives on. They haven’t said anything about being inconvenienced by the lane restrictions and side road closures that move around their block, but I often see the construction cones when I ride by on the bus on my way to and from work. This project does seem to be less intrusive, as it is on one block one week and on another block the next.

I feel the most sympathy for the bus drivers. The learn their routes and are trying to stay on time, and here are a number of construction zones to contend with, the number and location of which changes from week to week. We can at least choose a detour, they are stuck with the established route and any delays.

On another topic, I wish Joe luck with buying a new laptop today, to replace the one that is slowly dying. He is at the store as I type this. There is a slight possibility that Joe will put up a bonus entry about his new computer over the weekend.

I am glad so many of you enjoyed Joe’s tribute to his mother in yesterday’s blog post. We will be back next week with two more blog entries, on topics to be determined then. As Joe would write, take care, hope you are not living in the middle of a construction zone, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Remembering my mother, Dr. Dorothy G. Kockelmans

Greetings, readers. Tomorrow marks the fourteenth anniversary of my mom’s passing. I was going to do a blog entry to mark the occasion, but realized we did this last year. That entry turned out so well, there was no need to do another one, and it is definitely worth a repeat post. That is something I hardly ever do, though WordPress has a handy¬†feature to copy an entire¬†post, tags and all.¬†It will be linked to Twitter, Facebook, and the Bear Spring Camps Facebook page. Mom, this is for you.

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.

June 14, 2017 Rebecca will have a blog entry up sometime tomorrow. I am still having computer issues. There is a slight chance I will be purchasing a new computer tomorrow, and if so I might chime in myself with a small entry giving you details. Wow, perhaps a double entry day. Until soonest, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Technology grrr 6

Greetings, Joe’s readers. I am doing today’s blog entry, from my home, because Joe’s computer started acting up during our work session. He couldn’t open a browser window at all and everything else he did was much slower than usual. He had to run a full security scan, which usually takes a couple of hours. It was still at 27% when I left. Hopefully his virus scanner will find the problem and fix it, so Joe can use his computer again.

Joe told me he had another great shift at work yesterday. He even had a happy customer tell Joe’s boss about his good service! His feet are adjusting to all the standing, though I did recommend that he spend part of his first full paycheck on new work shoes. Joe said today that he wants to buy his own GPS unit, probably a Garmin, for the trip to Maine, so he won’t have to borrow someone else’s.

I have watched Joe experience his first job of this type for the past month, and I have been delighted. He has been so excited about learning new things, interacting with new people, and achieving new skills. I am so used to people grinding through their jobs, especially grimy hard work like at a fast food restaurant, that it has been a lift to my spirits to see him do so well and like it so much.

Another thing happened yesterday with Joe. He and Traci broke up and are no longer engaged, though they are still friends. He does not want to write a blog entry about it, so I told him I would let his regular readers know for him.

Next week, assuming that his computer is working again, Joe will write an entry on Wednesday about his mother and the anniversary of her passing, then on Thursday I will write another From Rebecca post.

As Joe would write, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Laundry day and boy do I have a hectic schedule

Greetings, readers. At 7:58 this morning I was in the laundry room getting the first load of clothes ready to start when that room opened at 8:00. Hours are between 8AM and 10PM daily. On days that I wash my clothes, I like to get in there early and get the job done.

Our business meeting with my accountant this week will once again be earlier than usual because I work today at 3PM. I like to have time to relax, visit with Traci and have plenty of time to get to my 2:15 bus. I won’t have tons of time, but I’ll have just enough to grab a snack, a cup or two of coffee and visit with my fianc√©e.

At eight o’clock this evening I’ll get off work and have two days off. ūüôā It will be a chance to rest my feet and get a few odds and ends done around the apartment. I need to do some vacuuming and some light dusting. The two big jobs I’m putting off are the hall closet and my bedroom. They’re next.

I’m getting some help with the hall closet in a couple of weeks. The bedroom I will tackle myself. I want to get the bedroom done as soon as possible so that I can once again enjoy my bed. The key is to do a little bit each day.

The hectic pace of my new life schedule so far has not taken a toll on me. Besides aching feet, I actually enjoy going out, working, and being a productive member of society. My writing career might be in the back seat right now, but it is definitely staying in the car. One of these days I’m going to write a play or screenplay about living here in Addison Court. Of course all names would be changed for privacy reasons.

Lastly, next week will be the fourteenth anniversary of the passing of my mom. I am going to do a remembrance blog in her honor and link it to Facebook, including the Bear Spring Camps page which is for the place she went and enjoyed herself for so many years.

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

Yesterday’s blog entry numbers, and second week at my new job

Greetings, readers. The blog statistics numbers for yesterday, where I wrote about my Virtual Bear Spring Camps idea, were quite high and pleasing. We finished the day with 85 views, with 52 just from yesterday’s blog entry. Love it, love it, love it! That got me to thinking.

Perhaps I should follow up on this idea of producing a video or DVD of a full day’s activities at Bear Spring Camps through my younger self’s eyes. But how to fund it. I’m not a rich man, so I would have to go by way of either Kickstarter or GoFundMe. I’m going to do research on both of them today. I’ve never owned a business¬†by¬†myself before, so that venture would have to be taken one small step at a time. Don’t expect to see Joe’s Virtual Vacation tomorrow.

Another thing going on in my life right now is that I just finished my second week working at a popular fast food chain. I’m getting faster at certain tasks, but I still have many issues. As my boss and my co-workers say, proficiency will come in time. The good thing is that everybody likes me and thinks I am doing well. My job currently is to give people their food at the pick-up window. With my weak left side, I am finding it a challenge to put the cup lids on the drink cups. We are not allowed to hand people their beverages without a lid. I would be so much faster if I could¬†say, “Here’s your drink and your lid, put it on yourself.” But of course you can’t do that. I literally have to have a cup lid help-buddy. That’s very frustrating and makes me feel like I can’t do the job. I do not want to be a hinderance to the fast flow of the well-oiled machine.¬†I’m off today and tomorrow and we will see where they put me when I go back to work on Saturday afternoon. I work from 5pm to 10pm.

Finally, it is still a little bit cool here for June 1st, but I’ve heard warmer weather is on the way. With warmer weather comes those afternoon thunderstorms which can be detrimental to the pick up window job. Yesterday I had something blow directly in my eye from outside. That brought serving coke, coffee, and burgers to a stand-still. You can’t have the pretty lady think that you are winking at her while handing her food, and it would be even worse if it were a guy. LOL.

That’s our news for today. As always, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.