Monthly Archives: February 2018

Top ten list of things I have difficulty or am unable to do because of seizures and my cerebral palsy

Greetings, readers. Today, we are going to have a top ten list, a long overdue top ten list, and I think I’ve found an interesting topic. It is jobs and hobbies that I have difficulty doing or am not allowed to do by law because of my health issues and medication. As almost all of you know, I have cerebral palsy, and every great once in a while one of the side effects of it is a petit mal seizure. There are many professions I dreamt of doing and would have loved to do but at age 16, when the first seizure hit, those doors were slammed shut. Those professions will be featured in choices two and one. Okay, so here we go, let’s start it off.

#10. Circus performer. [Now, I know some of you are thinking, why did this even make the list. I’ve never dreamt of being a circus performer; however, with my bad balance due to my CP and that minute risk of a seizure, anything like a trapeze artist or a high wire act is absolutely out of the question. I could be a clown or some other act on the ground, but really the whole circus thing really wouldn’t appeal to me.]

#9. Mountain climber. [Again, I have absolutely no desire to go climb a mountain, but if I did, it would be one of the most unsafe hobbies I could try. You need two strong hands to grab on to the rocks; I only have one strong hand.]

#8. City high-rise window washer. [If I lived in New York City or Los Angeles, that could be a job that I could try, but I think my bad balance and fear of heights would petrify me so much that I would freeze in one spot and not be able to move. Now I know there is harness equipment to keep you from falling to the ground, but I don’t think that would be enough to overcome the blind panic.]

#7. Police officer. [A police officer has to be strong, well-coordinated, and able to run fast. I am none of those things. Oh, I could drive the police car, no problem, but if we were chasing someone in a car at 80 miles an hour, my bad coordination would come in to play and I would most likely wrap the squad car around a light pole. It would be a fun job, but … no, not for me.]

#6. Firefighter. [As a child I loved the show Emergency!, and later the short-lived series Code Red wasn’t bad either. It made me dream of wanting to be a firefighter. I’m sure I could hold the hose on the first floor, but carrying heavy things just isn’t going to happen. I would tip over and fall, or drop the heavy piece of equipment or person. Not good.]

#5. Drive a train. [I love my train simulator game, and I wonder what it would have been like to drive one in real life. My daily medication regiment makes that dream impossible. ]

#4. Play professional sports. [When I was a child, most boys, myself included, dreamt of playing sports. Ah, the dream of scoring the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, or the game winning hit in game seven of the World Series. Now, I don’t mind telling you, I was a pretty fair Nerf football quarterback, but as far as going out for the high school team, forget about it. I was not strong enough, big enough, or coordinated enough.]

#3. Do all tasks of my job and do them fast. [At my fast food job, there are a few jobs I can’t do, like the take out window, because the drink lids are different from the coffee lids, and I will tend to spill the drinks when my shaking left hand gets in the way of my firm right hand. That tends to make my manager an unhappy camper if I goof up and spill a drink. I take pride in getting thinks correct. That means at the register I will take a couple of extra seconds with each customer. People have rewarded me through good reviews for my extra effort. If you want speed and accuracy, well I can’t count change as fast as anyone else. I might be one of their friendliest cashiers, but I am in no way the quickest. Every day I do get a little bit better, but with these fingers, I’ll only be able to get just so fast. I have to remember to stay within myself, and be the best me that I can be. What else can anybody ask of me.]

#2. Truck driver. [The thought of driving down the interstate in a big-rig filled my dreams many times, especially after watching Smokey and the Bandit thirteen consecutive Friday evenings at the movie theater. Yes, the movies were only $2 back then. When my seizures began, again there went that employment opportunity. I doubt highly that any trucking company would hire anyone with seizures and who is medicated to the point where at the end of the day his favorite word is nap. I guess I’ll just have to stick to playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 for my gaming channel.]

#1. Commercial airline pilot. [This was my big dream as a child. I loved airplanes and still do. I was in awe in big airports. Everything jumbo jet fascinated me. I wanted to fly for TWA or Pan Am. And again, then the seizures hit. Not to be too redundant, but no airline in their right mind would hire someone on four different types of seizure medications. Plus, with my weakness in my left side, yes I could lift the yoke up and get the plane to fly, however, if the hydraulics failed, I know right now I would not have the strength in the arms to keep that aluminum bird flying straight and level.]

Well, there you have it, the long overdue top ten list for today. I’m planning on taking a personal day tomorrow, so Rebecca will do the entry for Thursday. Until next time, have a great weekend, take care, and as always, happy reading.

Four days and four nights

Greetings, readers. That’s how long it is supposed to rain in my corner of the world. No, it’s not the biblical 40 days and 40 nights, but it sure will feel like it. I see some flight simulation in my future because I’m going to need to look at blue sky, either real or artificial.

I’ll certainly take this over freezing rain or snow, but with a number of errands to do today, I’ll have to put on several layers, including a hat or an umbrella just to step out the apartment door without getting soaked to the bone. That’s the biggest thing I hate about winter and early spring. In the summertime it is 80 degrees F. If you want to go outside, you just go outside. In the winter time, it is boots, mittens, down coat, scarf, and hat, just to protect you from pneumonia.

Back to our weather at hand, we had two beautiful days, Tuesday and Wednesday, and now it feels like we are paying our dues. Granted, we’re not sitting in the middle of a hurricane nor having tornadoes, but rain this hard for February is rare.

On a completely different topic, I finished binge watching Star Trek: Enterprise. It was a delightful show and I enjoyed it much more in seasons 2, 3, and 4. As like with any TV series, in the first season actors are learning their roles, peaking and tweaking, and there really isn’t much to the back story of the characters. The show was considered a mild flop. Last evening I saw on a YouTube video that the executive producers were not only getting Enterprise going but were also finishing up Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and a Star Trek feature film. I think it was too much on their plates. As well, with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was just ending, perhaps viewers just needed a break from Star Trek. If Star Trek: Enterprise had just waiting two or three years, it might have gotten the standard seven-year run.

Finally, I am uploading a YouTube video as we type this blog entry for my new gaming channel, the JMK Gaming Channel. I’ve spent the last week to ten days putting up approximately a dozen videos of Fishing Planet, Out of the Park Baseball 18, and Train Simulator 17. I’m planning to add more games soon. I’m going to contact a couple of hardcore gamers whom I am friends with and ask them to critique me. One of them, who goes by the handle Squirrel, I am sure will give me an honest answer about my performance.

Okay, there is today’s entry. It sounds like the rain has calmed down a wee bit. I’d better start building my ark now, or at least rent a paddle boat. Rebecca and I will see you next Wednesday with entry #702. I bid you all a wonderful weekend, try to stay dry if you are in the rain zone, take care and happy reading.

Blog entry #700 – A heartfelt thank you to everyone

Greetings, readers. I can’t believe we’ve arrived at entry #700. I’ve blogged about many topics over the years, as has Rebecca, and I always think that I’m going to run out of topics to blog about. Then a new one presents itself, like today’s topic of losing local businesses due to on-line shopping.

This blog averages about 20 reads a day, which is not as many as a big writer like John Scalzi will get on his blog, but I am certainly happy with it. Rebecca and I are read all over the world and very proud to be. I noticed just last week we had a read from India. As I like to say on my YouTube videos, “Wowzers.”

Again, thank you so much for hanging with us these last six plus years with no end in sight. I appreciate all of you. I like sharing my thoughts and experiences with others, and having such great feedback from you.

On to the other topic, one of State College’s long-time stores, the Bon Ton, is getting ready to close. The clothing store has been around since the mid-80s. With our mall, the Nittany Mall, losing several stores recently, it has made me think just how destructive on-line buying truly is. Sure it is convenient, you whip out your credit card, find what you want, add it to the cart, pay for it, and within a few days it is at your doorstep. What could be easier? Just so you don’t call me a hypocrite, I’ll confess that I am just as guilty as you are. I’ve purchased on-line many times. What a lot of folks fail to realize is, in my opinion, that over the long run, if you shop from a store’s website, say Sears or J.C. Penney’s, and don’t give your local dollars to your local store, eventually that store will go out of business, as ours have. I see stories on Google weekly about how numerous companies are closing a number of stores nationwide. As a child, I never thought that Sears would be this close to extinction. Are there issues other than on-line buying? I’m quite certain; bad management for one. But there is no doubt that the convenience of on-line purchasing is destroying local businesses. I made a New Year’s resolution to spend my money at local stores more often, and buy less on-line. I urge everyone to do so. Then if your favorite hardware store goes out of business, you can say, “I shopped there, I did my part.”

I’m sorry if that sounded like I was ranting and raving, but just the other day I overheard two college girls talking about the Bon Ton closing and the one girl said to her friend, “But yeah, you like shop on-line all the time.” They were the like twins, every third word was like. But that pet peeve is for another blog entry.

Finally, Central PA is enjoying a three-day heat wave with temperatures in the low 60s F. I will take it. I don’t know what that corresponds to in Celsius, but I do know that you flip 61 F you get 16 C. The next several days will be in the 40s with rain … every day. Get out the boots and the rain coat. No frigid temperatures are expected however, so the down coat might be able to stay on the coat tree hook. 🙂

Well there it is, #700. Thanks to everyone for reading the blog this long. We will have another blog entry for you tomorrow.

Take care, have a great day, and for the 700th time, happy reading.

Oh, what a morning I had

Greetings, readers. I was going to make a YouTube video for my new gaming channel and also dictate the first draft of the blog using my voice recognition software before Rebecca got here. Well … none of that got done. I got up at 3:45 as usual and by 4:15 I was in a full back spasm already. What to do, what to do. There was only one answer. I shut down the computer, put my full coffee cup in the microwave for later, turned out all the lights and went back to sleep. Now, most people would love to do that, but I have grown to savor my early mornings. It is peaceful, it is quiet, I can get my day started, and make plans for later in the day. I’m just glad this was not a workday at my fast food job, so that all the things I didn’t get done this morning I will have time to do this afternoon.

I don’t know what triggered the back spasm. All I did was get up and make coffee. If carrying a coffee cut weighing only a few ounces throws my back out, then just go ahead and put me in the old folks home. Yes, that is an exaggeration, but that is how frustrated I was this morning. Joe gets cranky when his plans go awry.

When I woke up from my “nap”, I was able to put up a new video on my gaming channel. This afternoon, after my banking and an appointment, I’m going to put up my first Canadian Baseball League video using Out of the Park Baseball 18. Even in the one pitch per batter mode, the video will be at least an hour and a half long. That’s not the problem. Once I am done uploading it to YouTube and put all the tags and descriptions on, it will be approximately 8:30. On a work night, I go to bed around 9:00, so very soon after the video is uploaded and live, it will be lights out for me.

I work 10am to 2pm at the fast food job tomorrow, and here in State College this is the weekend for the Penn State Thon, the 48 hour dance marathon they do to raise money for childhood cancer research. This weekend and the next one will be unusually busy at the restaurant. The weekend after Thon will be my most hated time of the year, State Patty’s Day weekend. All the college children use those two days of a made-up holiday to see how drunk they can get without being arrested or dying. I say that because a couple of times, drunk college students have fallen from apartment balconies. In the past we have had slightly warmish weather. I am praying for negative 5 degrees F. May they all stay in the bars or at home, not parade downtown and scream their lungs out.

Two more things before we close. The Wednesday blog entry, #700, will be a combination thank you entry and top ten list. I’ve been thinking recently about how the internet has been affecting our local economy. One store, Sears, which has been around since I was a child, went out of business, and a clothing store called Bon Ton is closing in a month or two. Now, I am guilty once in a while of shopping on-line, I will admit that, but for those of you who do it all the time, you’re helping to cripple local businesses and chains. Get out once in a while, go to your local store, and buy something there. In the long run, you will be glad you did. You will be helping to stir the pot of your local economy.

Finally, heartfelt condolences to the families of the shooting victims in Florida. I saw the breaking news this morning and thought to myself, here we go again. I’m not calling it a copy cat shooting, but we’ve had these random acts of violence way too often. As I understand it, the shooter will be facing at least 17 counts of murder and I hope he gets convicted on each one of them. He destroyed and cut short people’s lives and will cause never-ending grief to the victim’s loved ones. My heart bleeds for them.

I’m going to end this blog entry here and on Wednesday we will write the aforementioned entry 700. I bid you good day, have a safe weekend and give a family member a hug, and as always, happy reading.

I have decided to make gaming videos on YouTube

Greetings, readers. As we approach blog entry 700, I wondered if there was another way or medium I could use to be creative. The answer came to me a few days ago. I’ve watched many videos on YouTube of people playing various video games. Fishing Planet is a big one, as are the two truck simulators. I have most of those games downloaded on Steam and with a new app I got for free, I can now record videos. You can’t see my face, but that’s okay.

I have five videos up so far and have my very first subscriber. My channel, The JMK Gaming Channel, is up and running. I have three videos up of me playing the game Fishing Planet and two of Train Simulator 17. I’m impressed on how remarkably smooth my narration is; I’ve only stuttered a couple of times. Well what do you know, I have another forum on multimedia to show off my talents.

When I play Fishing Planet, I can actually imagine myself in Maine holding that rod. The ambiance of birds, insects, and a slight breeze makes the game incredibly realistic. You’re not in a speed boat, you are just standing on the bank or bridge, depending on your location on the map. I’ve always loved Train Simulator and the Portland, Maine run is my favorite scenario. My favorite game is Out of the Park Baseball 18 … and I’ve already pre-ordered OotP 19. I am in control of the completely fictitious Canadian Baseball League. I am the general manager of the Winnipeg Bluebirds. I raced through season one just to get a little history in the league and this second season so far I played every game. My team was one game away from winning it all last season. This season, with all of our injuries, I doubt we will make the playoffs. Within a week or so, I’ll be starting a series on the gaming channel for Out of the Park Baseball. Viewers will have to excuse me if I am 8/10ths of the way through the season; we will just pick it up from there. And season three will be a blast.

Other games I am going to play on my channel will be Fernbus Simulator with a coach bus driving anywhere in Germany, and Plague Inc. where I literally get to destroy the planet’s population. That one is a kind of a weird game, folks. A few months ago I also bought for cheap a game called House Party. The sole objective is to find the woman who you want to do it with and do it. It has one feature that will have Rebecca either laughing hysterically or rolling her eyes – this game, if you push the right button, you will hear the guy’s zipper unzip and you will see him pleasuring himself. That is when I stopped playing the game. I’m old school and things like that should be kept private. One cool thing about that game, however, is behind the young lady’s house is a big back yard with a fire pit which is very beautiful to look at.

With this blog entry being posted on my Facebook page and my Twitter page, some might say this is an advertisement for my gaming channel. I don’t think so, but I am going to link to the Bear Spring Camps page to let my friends there know that Fishing Planet, a remarkably realistic simulator, will be featured often.

Next Wednesday will be the 700th blog post. That is unbelievable to me. I want to thank everyone who has read us over the years and invite you all to stick around for the next 100.

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

I’ve been watching Star Trek: Enterprise on Netflix recently

Greetings, readers. Over the past several weeks, I have been watching and thoroughly enjoying Star Trek: Enterprise. It was not one of the more successful Star Trek spinoffs, but it did have a cult following. The series ran for four seasons and ended in a unique way. More about that later.

The show depicts the Federation and the world of Star Trek approximately 100 years before James T. Kirk and the iconic Enterprise NCC-1701. Jonathan Archer is the captain of the NX-01, the first warp five starship. He is played by actor Scott Bakula, of Quantum Leap fame.

I am currently one episode away from being finished with the second season. So, I’ve watched about half the series and am loving every minute of it. If I had to make one observation of something about the series which doesn’t quite make sense it would be this …  most of the technological gizmos that the crew carries around with them, such as phase pistols and scanners, look more modern than what Kirk, Spock, and McCoy used. I realize I’m being picky, but this is supposed to be 100 years in the past. McCoy had a lit-up salt shaker as his medical scanner.

In the last episode, (spoiler alert below) we see Commander Riker and Counselor Troi on the Enterpirse D, just as if it were an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Riker was studying something about the end of Archer’s mission and the final episode of the series was supposedly a holodeck simulation. It was cool to see the characters Riker and Troi again and even a voice splice-in of Commander Data. Although Riker never interacted with Archer’s crew directly, he did observe such things as Chief Engineer Trip’s noble sacrifice to save the ship and Captain Archer’s final speech at Star Fleet Headquarters. The last scene of the series was Riker and Troi shutting down the holodeck program and going back on duty aboard Picard’s ship.

Now on to some other characters. T’Pol is the Vulcan science officer. She is played by Jolene Blalock. I must admit dear readers, but at first, I did not like this character. She’s grown on me though. To me she’s a Vulcan who is trying to act like Voyager’s Seven of Nine. Blalock does a wonderful job, but her voice is just a little too sexy in my opinion.

Next is the chief engineer, Charles Tucker III, who goes by ‘Trip’. At first, I couldn’t figure that one out, but then it hit me. Trip is for triple and triple is the third. Got it. He is played by Conner Trinneer. Trip is from Florida and has that slight southern accent. In the series, his sister is killed during a vicious attack on Earth. Trip is the do-gooder of the series and usually ends up getting in trouble for it. During one episode, there was a character who had no rights and was treated like a pet. He took interest in her, taught her to read, to enjoy music and other interests. It was against that species’ wishes, so of course the Captain reprimanded ‘Trip’ and for a while the Captain was quite disappointed in his officer.

I would have to say though that my favorite character is the doctor, Phlox. He is a Denobulan. That’s easy for me to say. He is extremely positive, very friendly, and does his very best to save all his patients. Whether it’s the actor, John Billingsley’s regular way of speaking or not, Phlox has a very whimsical cadence and distinct diction. Charming, yet strong, he is one of the biggest heroes of the series to me. During one episode where the crew was being invaded by aliens which were basically wisps of smoke, Phlox was able to save the ship from being taken over, and in turn save the crew.

I don’t have enough time to give you a synopsis of every character, so I suggest if you have Netflix, check it out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. Journey along with the crew of the Enterprise NX-01. You will get a brief glimpse into not only the beginning of Starfleet and the Federation, but enemies such as the Klingons and even the Borg. After you have watched the entire series, I’m quite certain that you will want to start again and boldly go where no one has gone before.

Until next week, I bid you a great weekend, take care, and, as always, happy reading.

P.S. I was happy that the Eagles won the Super Bowl, but all the local Eagle’s fans kept me up Sunday night until close to 2:00 in the morning. Not good.

From Rebecca: Ugly day outside

Greetings, Joe’s readers. It is a snowy, rainy, icy mess outside, though I am surprised that the few cars I can see on the road outside my window are moving okay. Joe and I are not working together today, because of the bad weather. Pennsylvania had a storm overnight that is continuing all day, as those of you who live in this state already know. Northern PA was forecast to got more snow, southern PA to got more ice, and central PA, where Joe and I live, got a mix of snow and rain. Yesterday, authorities asked anybody who could stay off the roads today to do so. A lot of people still have to get out and about, but for the rest of us it is a Snow Day! No school, no work, stay home all day!

The schools, a lot of businesses, and  Schlow Centre Region Library are closed for the day, adding to the feeling of a shared community experience and a holiday. Although there are a lot of people who still had to go for important commitments or to go to work, and they didn’t get to share the holiday. I know that I could have gone to work today if I chose to do so, since the bus system is still working. (A big shout out to the drivers and staff of CATA – Centre Area Transportation Authority – for always getting me to and from work no matter how bad the weather is. The bus might be running late, depending on the conditions, but it always comes. In fact, their buses are running today.) And I have better balance when walking than Joe, who really cannot go out in snow and ice because he might fall and injure himself, so I could have made it to his apartment to work. Joe arranged for me to stay home today, to not have to slog through the cold, snow and icy slush, and I am grateful to be able to sit in a warm room, snug with my legs in a blanket, typing this on my home computer.

I decided to stay home last Sunday too, instead of visit my family as usual. We had a snow storm that day which gave us about three inches of snow, and now I am home during this one. I am wondering if I am getting more timid as I get older. As long as it was snow and not ice, three inches didn’t intimidate me before, even when it was falling while I drove. Although, looking back, I did drive in some bad road conditions when I was younger. There were a few times I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to the bottom of a certain hill and stop safely. Age is supposed to give us wisdom, but maybe that is what shutting down options looks like. We decide not to eat a super hot pepper and now we are wise because we didn’t burn our mouth like a foolish young person. Put like that, refusing to try new things looks noble, doesn’t it? It is true that older bodies don’t heal damage as fast, and a fall can take us out for days instead of hours. Maybe being careful is wisdom.

I hope you are all warm and comfortable, if not right now than by the end of your day. Joe and I will be working in the same room tomorrow, and he will have a new blog entry up. Until then, take care, have a safe day, and happy reading.

I need to get back to reality… now!

Greetings, readers. For a very long time now I have found myself caught in a half-world of virtual reality. I don’t know whether it’s my depression or whether I just love being a big kid, but my favorite thing to do is to play video games … and eat ice cream. I know I’ve talked about self-improvement before, but I’m going to take steps starting today to make those improvements happen. I saw on an episode of One Day at a Time last evening where the main character was told by her therapist to use her cell phone and describe all that was going on in her day and then play it back. When she did, she heard just how bad she sounded and that she needed to go back on her antidepressants.

Now, I’m not off my antidepressants, but I’m going to use the same tactic of recording and listening to hear just how my typical day transpires. I can already tell you it’s not going to be pretty. I am dictating this blog entry with my voice recognition program which has a feature to play back what I have dictated in my own voice. Yes, dear readers, I am going to play it back and listen to it. Ready? Here we go.

My typical work day is as follows: my alarm will go off at 3:45 AM. First thing I will do is stride slowly to the kitchen and make coffee. I am nothing before my morning coffee. Once my morning beverage is next to me at my desk, I’ll turn on the computer and get ready to play the morning baseball video game. My fictitious Winnipeg Bluebirds are in second place but fading fast. For those two hours, I am so engrossed in that game, and if I’m not careful I could find myself late for work. Out of the Park Baseball ‘18 has everything; it is by far the best baseball simulation out there. That brings us to approximately 6 AM.

Next, I will close down my computer and take my medication. Lord help me if I forget that. Between 6:15 and 7:45, I will enjoy my second cup of coffee and either listen to music or play Fishing Planet, a remarkably lifelike fishing simulator. You start at level 1 with only one rod, one reel and light tackle and bait. I’m up to level 5 now. I’ve watched YouTube videos of people in the higher levels angling for big bass. This is another game that I can lose track of time playing and I must be cautious. Can’t be late for real life, you know.

At 9:38, I catch the morning bus to my fast food job. Between the hours of 10 and 3 PM, I feel like a normal person. I’m out in the world, interacting with others, making coffee, telling jokes to my coworkers and having a great time. What do you know? I’m a normal person … but just until 3 o’clock.

When I get home at 4 PM, I figuratively crash. I will plop myself down on my recliner chair, watch TV, and most times, fall asleep. Oh, I feel so old. When I come to, an hour or so later, I won’t notice the emptiness of the apartment without Keekee and need to go grab some ice cream. Yes, even with a therapist and antidepressants I still need my comfort food. It makes me feel better and it makes my dentist rich. If I have to go to my fast food job the next morning I will turn in for the night no later than 9 PM. Years ago, the evening was only just getting going at 9 PM. I set my alarm for 3:45 AM, and do it all again the next day.
I’m going to take a break now and make this contraption read back to me what I just typed, then in the final paragraph I shall summarize. Be right back.

After listening to the 667 words I just dictated, it is painfully obvious to me that except for a five hour span during a few afternoons a week, I am completely not in reality. I am in virtual reality. It is comfortable there, but I must leave soon. If I don’t, I feel I will be completely devoured and unable to get back to what I would consider a ‘normal life’. I will keep you all up to date on my progress.

Next week, I will blog on Wednesday about the Canadian football league. Until then, have a great weekend, to take care and as always, happy reading.