Monthly Archives: March 2018

From Rebecca: Hi, having a quiet day

Greetings, Joe’s readers. I am having a low-key day, hanging around with my husband Darren, doing some apartment cleaning later, some book work, an hour or so of playing a board game later with Darren, and waiting to hear an update from Joe. He has a doctor’s appointment this afternoon about his heart, and hopefully he will find out what is going on with it soon, without needing more tests first. If I may speak on his behalf, knowing Joe, he will probably let you know any definite news the week after he gets it. Good luck, Joe.

Darren, Joe, and I have been working on Darren’s novel Four’s a Crowd based on Joe’s play Kimberly for the last half decade. We’ll make progress on it for a while, then it will stall, then we will pick it up again, and so on. Right now I am doing work on it before we send it for the second proof. We all wanted the book to be ready to publish by now, but it stalled on my watch. I picked it up again, then ran into problems that took a bit to figure out. The other day, I was sitting here frustrated because the formatted software I was working with did something that I needed to undo and didn’t know how yet. UGH! Darren listened to me groan and moan for a while and then said it wasn’t worth it, maybe bag the whole thing. No, I can get this, don’t give up on it when we are so close. I think I have everything figured out for the moment. I need to change a bunch of tabs by moving the margin line, update the chapter page number index, and add the front cover attribution, then it should be ready for the second and hopefully last proof. So close to publishing it!

In other news, I need a new coffee maker. My late mother gave me the one I have now, almost fourteen years ago when Darren and I moved into our apartment. I use it once a day, don’t let it stay on past half an hour, and vinegar is regularly, so it has held up a long time. But it needs to be cleaned with vinegar every month now instead of every six months, steams a lot more when brewing, and it takes twenty minutes to make four cups. I don’t like change and I don’t want to lose something my mother gave me, but every time it makes a series of loud hissing sounds like it is demonic or a giant angry cat, I know the coffee maker is on its last legs and I need to replace it. I’m bummed, but I know that I will get used to the new coffee maker. I usually come around in the end when things change.

Not much else to say today. I had a few topics I thought about writing about, but I couldn’t get any to gel and develop enough for a blog entry. I will say I was really impressed by last Saturday’s (3/24/18) March for Our Lives, the rally in Washington D.C. for gun reform laws, and the other rallies across the country that joined in. There is a lot to despair in the world these days, but seeing the youngest generation be so strong, focused, and vocal about a shared goal gave me a lot of hope for the future.

Joe will be back next Wednesday, and probably Thursday as well. Until then, as he would say, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

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My health, what is the worst that can happen? My heart could go splat

Greetings, readers. An incident happened yesterday afternoon which has seriously made me reconsider what is going on in my life right now. I am now making it publicly known that I am having some minor heart issues. At least I hope they are minor. I was sent home early yesterday from my fast food job because my irregular heartbeat would not calm itself. I am glad I am getting it checked tomorrow.

While I am at the doctor’s Thursday afternoon, Rebecca will be putting up the blog from home. I am taking off tomorrow completely to rest before my stress test. Let me explain the current phenomena. The heart goes wrong when I’m stressed, when I’m tired, or quite often after I sit down from an activity. The fluttering sensation lasts about 5 to 15 seconds and then goes away. If anybody can give me information about what this might be, please leave a comment in the comment section or catch me on my Facebook page. Any info would be most helpful.

I know that pessimism is a bad trait but last evening I could not help but think of all the bad things that could go wrong in the coming weeks. What is the doctor going to say? What is the stress test going to show? I’m so paranoid, I’m going to pack an overnight bag in case the doctor sends me right to the hospital. For those of you who want a chuckle, yes, I was a boy scout for one day and remember their motto is always be prepared.

I also began to do an overview of my life last evening, starting from an early age and going right on up through the years. I had a happy childhood, and high school was fine, then things started to go wrong. Because of my disability that no one in my family wanted to address, myself included, I did not graduate from Penn State University. I failed. Later on I got married. That didn’t work either. I failed. My writing career is not that much to speak of, less the blog and a few small completed works. I won’t call that a failure, but I’m not paying the rent with my royalties. I’m sure you can see the pattern here.

I also started to think about my time at Bear Spring Camps. Oh, the joyous childhood memories I have with Mr. Greco, Dave, and everyone who has camped there over the years. I consider them all my family. With this season’s camp week approaching in a few months, last night I asked myself just how many more years do I think I’ll be able to go? As a naïve youngster, I thought I would go until the day I died. Well, this camp season might be it for me. Perhaps not. But I don’t see myself going for another 25 years. Either health or lack of money will prevent that.

Yes, readers, times change, people’s health deteriorates, and the carefree happiness of youth turns into the hard reality of adulthood. I will have some of the test results by the end of tomorrow. With all the information in, I will be able to make a plan about staying at my job or having to give it up to take care of my health issue. I hope not, I actually love my job.

Well, this macabre entry has gone on long enough. I’ll close on a cheerful note. Views of my gaming channel videos have improved slightly. Rebecca told me this morning that I need to add my full name to the tags, as it will make it easier for people to find said videos in a YouTube search of just my name. Thank you very much to Rebecca.

Rebecca will chime in tomorrow and we’ll both be back as usual next Wednesday. Until then, take care, have a great few days, and happy reading.

Review of Out of the Park Baseball 19

Greetings, readers. Today the full version of the updated game Out of the Park Baseball 19 was to come out but early this morning, to my disappointment, not much on the game had changed since the other day when I downloaded it and it still said bata on the screen. That means it is still in the test phase, for those of you who don’t know. Though the game is almost identical to last year’s version, the changes that were made are awesome. Ready? Let’s review.

First of all, my favorite new goodie is the preloaded fictitious league to which you can give any name. They called it the U.S. Baseball League. It is a 24 team league set in the United States, with a history and back stories starting from 1977! I could spend hours just reading through the history and the almanac. I don’t know how long it took to set all this up, but to the developers … bravo! I immediately took control of the Philadelphia Blackhawks. Only one of the team names made no sense, so I changed the Detroit Honu to the Detroit Black Knights, and that team now plays in Black Knight Stadium. I am going to have so much fun with baseball this year.

Another big improvement is the look of the players. As I mentioned briefly in yesterday’s blog entry, in Out of the Park 18 they look like little Weebles instead of people. So unrealistic. In Out of the Park Baseball 19, I feel more like I am watching more realistic looking baseball players. Even though all the players are fictitious in this league, you can have the program generate a fictitious picture. It adds to the whole team experience. I now have a face to put to a name. You can also create a team photo.

One thing that Out of the Park Baseball 19 has not done yet is given me the ability to download the historic stadiums which was so prominent and useful in last year’s version. I thought I could be sneaky by copying and pasting the stadiums from the older game’s directory into the new game, and it almost worked. It seems like one set of files which were quite needed didn’t come over. Hopefully in a day or two, this year’s version of the game will have its own download of stadiums to use.

A new feature in the game is something called Perfect Team. However, it still says on the game’s front page it is coming soon. When I find out exactly what it is and how it plays, I’ll let you know. It sounds most interesting, but at this point I am only guessing that it means using classic real-life players to build the ultimate team.

My old play-by-play buddy, the digitally enhanced voice whom I call Com Puter – lol – works his magic to keep us entertained with the game’s text to speech feature. Believe it or not, he’s not as monotone as you would think. I played the new game with the voice on and with it off, and it definitely adds to the experience to have this play-by-play feature on.

Let’s tally.

Game play and presentation: 9.5 out of 10.

Graphics: Improved to a 9 out of 10.

Fun factor: A perfect score of 10.

Ability to download stadiums: Well, so far a failing grade of 5 out of 10 since I was able to achieve part of the stadium downloading process. Once the game goes out of beta, I hope the problem will be corrected and this game will get a higher score.

True final score is pending, but for now: 8.4 out of 10.

Even though the game scored lower than a 9 this year, I would recommend this game to any baseball fan. I would also recommend two things. Play a season in major league baseball mode, and go ahead and create your own league. That is where the real fun is. So put on your batting helmet, and swing for the fences.

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

Things happening today during the snowstorm

Greetings, readers. Even though it is officially spring, old mother nature has decided to play a trick on us in the form of 3 to 5 inches of snow! Ha-ha-ha. I’m not laughing at the joke. As most of you know, I suffer from a mild case of cerebral palsy, and good balance is not one of my strong points. I do have errands that must be taken care of after work hours with Rebecca. If we really get 5 inches of snow, it’s going to be a challenge walking down slippery sidewalks.

Today and tomorrow are two days off for my fast food job, and that is good for my feet. The day off I had to take last Monday for my doctor appointment and stress test is not going to be good for my wallet. Maybe in a week or two, I’ll be able to pick up an extra hour here or there. In the end, I think it will all even out.

On to other news, my new writing project is coming along slowly, yet splendidly. This voice recognition program is outstanding, and it allows me to act out the dialogue between my characters. Yes … I am writing at least the first drafts of this project in script form. Whether or not I will change it into a novel has yet to be determined. I know I’ve been working on this for two weeks, and I’m only on the bottom of page three, but I do have many other things going on in my life. If I was loaded with money, I could stock the refrigerator with food, snacks and beverages, and type, type, type. I am not loaded with money. I have to go to work four days a week (part-time), and I work with Rebecca two days a week. That is plenty to keep me busy.

My gaming channel will have an updated game added to it. Out of the Park Baseball 19 has arrived in beta form. The full version, which I’ve already paid for, comes out tomorrow. The game developers have improved the graphics tenfold. Now the players actually look like little baseball players, not like little stick figures or Weebles. Yes, I remember those commercials: “Weeble’s wobble, but they don’t fall down.”

Finally, thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families of the senseless violence that has gone on in the last few days, including the Texas bombings and the Maryland school shooting, and also for the victims and families of the bridge collapse in Florida. All are so tragic.

Rebecca and I will be back tomorrow with another blog entry, but I already know that next Thursday will be a personal day for me. I have a doctor follow-up appointment. Please keep your fingers crossed that I get good news during that appointment.

Until tomorrow, please do take care if you’re in the snowstorm, stay warm, enjoy your day and as always, happy reading.

On schedule for me today

Greetings, readers. I believe this is the second blog entry I have dictated via the speech recognition program. I’m on a slightly different schedule this morning, so I asked Rebecca to meet me at Panera Café and a little later than usual. Earlier on, I did some splendid work on my major writing project, also using said voice recognition program. I love it! It’s almost like acting; so fun.

I was up at 3:45 this morning, as usual, and began my day by making coffee, looking at Facebook, and doing a little virtual fishing on Steam’s Fishing Planet. With the new patch that came in yesterday via an update – a major update – the game plays so much better. The creators bettered the physics, I think improved the graphics, and added a Photoshop feature where you can take a picture with your humongous prize catch. It’s about three notches below Star Trek’s hollow deck.

This afternoon, I have an appointment at 3:30. It should not take more than an hour. After that, I’m planning on a light supper followed by more work on my writing project. I am really getting into the story now. As you all know, dear readers, it’s been forever since I’ve been in creation mode. If I am to take time off from my fast food job this summer to rest my feet, I must find some way to perhaps generate income through my writing. I don’t wish to just sit around for three or four months and just do nothing. Yes, one does get very used to that paycheck every two weeks, doesn’t one?

I still have an early bedtime this evening for tomorrow is a work day at the fast food job. I need to get plenty of sleep and rest my feet. When, or if, I am going to tell my manager I would like the summer off is still up in the air. My swollen feet are saying, “Go for it!” My wallet is saying, “Don’t you dare.” Right now, I’d say my decision is 50-50. I will know by early May.

Well, there you have it. I know this wasn’t the longest entry in the world, but it is what’s current in my life today. I bid all of you a great weekend, stay safe, take care and as always, happy reading.

My heart seems to be skipping a beat lately

Greetings, readers. I know I am no spring chicken any more, but on the other hand I am only 52 years old. Approximately ten days ago, I noticed that my heart was beating irregularly from time to time. One time it would pound hard, the next incident it would feel like it was skipping a beat, and my most distressful moment was when I got a heart grab that lasted for a few seconds and really made me stand up and take notice.

One of the classic symptoms of a heart attack is pain or numbness in the left arm. I am happy to report I do not have that symptom. Feeling all right other than that, I was waiting to see if it would correct itself. It did not, and I was urged by friends to get it checked out. Wouldn’t you know it, upon going to my general practitioner, I got hooked up to the EKG and ‘Nothing but normal.’ Don’t get me wrong, I was happy, but part of me wanted the doctor to see what was going and tell me. No such luck.

The doctor did suggest and order a stress test, which is happening this coming Monday. Oh joy, oh bliss. I get to go to work from 10am to 2pm, hop a cab, and then walk on a treadmill for an hour with hurting and tired feet. Yay, me. If the heart goes thumpity-thump-thump the right way it might be worth it. Perhaps the stress of the hurting feet might make the heart do what I want it to do so it can be measured.

One big thing that is different since all this started is the lack of ice cream in my diet. I gave that up for Lent. I doubt seriously if that has anything to do with it at all, but it is a weird coincidence that the heart irregularity is happening at the same time.

I will find out Monday during the stress test exactly what is going on and more importantly what to do about it. Oh goody, I will probably be put on another medication. Yay. There are many people in the world who take more pills than I, but I was really hoping not to add to my total any time soon. Of course, dear readers, I will keep you up to date on the outcome of my visit.

Before I close, a side note. R.I.P. to a genius … the great Stephen Hawking who passed away yesterday at age 76. He inspired millions as he used innovation and technology to be able to move around and speak to do great work despite his disability. He was a giant in the scientific world. I’m sure he will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

There you have it, today’s entry. If you know something about Stephen Hawking and wish to share, please chime in with the comment section or on my Facebook page. Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Schlow Centre Region Library revisited

Greetings, Joe’s readers. Back in October of 2013 I wrote a post on libraries and Schlow Centre Region Library. I said a lot of good things in that one, so here is the link you can follow if you want to read it too. Since I wrote it I got faster internet at home and stopped using the library for their computers and internet, but I still go there once or twice a week to check out books and CDs. It is still one of my favorite places in the world.

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that my mother-in-law might enjoy audio books and I wondered over to that section. Sure enough, Schlow has a large collection to choose from, including a lot of the J.D. Robb series that we both read. I knew about this section before, but until I was looking into them I didn’t appreciate it. It impressed on me one of best features of libraries, that they offer so many different resources and we might not need them for years, but when we do want something, there it is.

The upper level of Schlow contains the audio books, CDs, large print books, young adult novels, graphic novels, books for sale, public computers, helpful staff, non-fiction books, fiction books, a wide range of newspapers and magazines available to read, tables and chairs, two rooms with doors that close to use – one includes materials for crafts, and desks with plugs for people with laptops or who want space to study. The lower level contains the children’s section with computers, fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, helpful staff, graphic novels, and games. Thinking about it, I am amazed by the variety.

Last year, I was looking at books on a return cart and picked up the first novel in an unusual series, Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham. The main character, Fiona Griffiths, has a rare mental condition that she struggles with to do her job on the police force in the U.K. I would never have found this series without seeing it at Schlow. I wanted to read more of these books, so I looked him up in the catalogue, and the library only had the first one. So I did an interlibrary loan request for the second book in the series once I looked up the title (my first time doing an ILL) and waited about a month for it to come in. When I picked up the book, I noticed it had Schlow Centre Region Library identification on it, and looking through it I realized it had the signs of being a print-on-demand book. They might not have been able to find a copy in other libraries. I realized that Schlow bought the book to fill my request and to put in their collection. Wow. I know at least one other person read the first one because it was on the return cart, so I hope that my request helps someone else read the second book, and now the third book. I want to read the rest of the series, but knowing that Schlow would buy the book instead of borrow it, I waited a few months before requesting the third one, and will wait a few months before asking for the fourth one. There are six books in the series and I would feel guilty asking for so much of their resources in a short period of time. I don’t have the space on my shelves or the money to buy the series on my own.

I had already noticed some books on the shelves that looked like print-on-demand (Joe’s books from CreateSpace are print-on-demand so I know the specific look of the back page) and was impressed by the many ways that the library supports all these industries in publishing and entertainment. Yes, we the public use it for free, but the library bought it all. That is a lot of money going into the world, and libraries are constantly having to raise that money – from government sources, from selling books and items donated to them or off their shelves, from local fund drives, from business donations, and from patron donations. They also need to keep the lights on and pay the staff. It makes me proud that I donate two dollars a week; I couldn’t afford to give Schlow a hundred dollars in one go, but by the end of the year my two dollars adds up to that. They do some much for me and the community.

I want to close with one paragraph from my October 2013 post, which sums up what I want to share about libraries in general.

Libraries do so much for people. They are sources of information on government agencies, how technologies work, and they have manuals, non-fiction works, plus entertainment materials too. Often the local history archives for the area are in a reference section. They can provide a meeting place for organizations, and often put on events of interest, in a community room. The staff is usually able to assist people in finding information, on databases and websites, as well as navigate through the library system. They have newspapers and magazines available to read on-site, which may be especially helpful to someone looking for a job who cannot afford to buy a newspaper every day. I don’t know about other libraries, but I know that Schlow has made free downloads of ebooks available to patrons, something that costs the library a bite out of their budget for each e-book copy. On top of all that, they provide the latest books by popular authors, sometimes with multiple copies for books with long waiting lists, so that more people can read them sooner. They provide older books too, including the classics. Many people discover authors new to them in the stacks. The libraries have photocopier machines at either the same prices or cheaper than other places. They might also have printing available from the public computers, perhaps with a small fee to off-set the paper and ink costs. A community without a library within an easy visiting distance is poor in ways beyond money.

Joe will be back next Wednesday with a new blog entry. Until then, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Getting into someone else’s head is difficult

Greetings, readers. The last couple of mornings I have been working on my writing projects and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be writing again. One of my projects is based on a TV series from the 1970s. Those characters I know quite well; what they would say, what they wouldn’t say, how they would act, etc.

My main project, however, has characters that are pretty much blank slates. The female lead character is based on someone I met in a chat room many many years ago. She sent me her picture but that is literally all I have to go on, the rest of her character will be constructed by me. I’ve never tried to get into a female character’s head before. You might say I wrote my play Kimberly, and this is true. But I knew the person I based her on. The whole first draft was basically a carbon copy of a friend from high school. This new project’s female lead has a name and a face. That’s it. I get to decide how tall she is, whether or not she smokes, what her habits are, and how provocative she is. In a way, I have to become this character during writing hours. I was working with this project this morning and I could feel myself begin to think like her and thought to myself, now we are in business. I know I am going to have fun with it.

It’s been years since I have put signs on my front door saying Do not disturb, I’m writing, and I even get angry if I am writing and it is time to go to work. To me those are good signs. If I can go to some cabin near a lake … magically with internet included for research … I would do it and I could probably pump out a great play or film script. I just need to be left alone for a few months. Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy, and besides that is not how the real world works. Moreover, I like my real world job.

I got a sobering dash of reality a few moments ago. Rebecca and I were on the CreateSpace website trying to send an email to get a question answered. As we were going through the automated set-up system, a huge list dropped down with not only my three books for sale but all the stalled, dead, abandoned projects I’ve tried to do since latching on to CreateSpace. Seeing that list made me feel like a failure for a moment. Don’t worry, I’ll bounce back soon. As a matter of fact, now that I know where that list is, I might even go back, choose one of those dead projects, and resurrect it. You never know.

The idea I had for tomorrow’s blog has been put on the back burner, for it requires research and development. It deals with this past Super Bowl. I think you will find it most interesting. I just found out moments ago that I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. So yet again, Rebecca will get the day off and post the entry from home. We will see you right here next Wednesday. Keep those comments coming, enjoy, take care, and as always, happy reading.

From Rebecca: The luxury of a good sleep-in

Greetings, Joe’s readers. Joe took a personal day today, so I am writing today’s post from the comfort of my own home, which makes me lucky because it is raining outside right now. Since I didn’t have to get up at my usual time when working with Joe, I was able to sleep in late. I have a habit of going to bed about seven, sometimes six and a half, hours before I get up, so I rarely get a full eight hours of sleep. This morning I decided to get all eight hours in bed, and though I did spend the last hour drifting in and out of light sleep and checking the clock a bit, it was good. It was relaxing, almost decadent, and nice. Hours later, I am still feeling rested and satisfied.

Ordinarily, I trade a full night’s sleep for other pleasures. It will be eight hours before I need to get up, but instead of going to bed then, I’ll want to watch one more TV show, or to look at just a few more websites, or to read one more page/section/chapter in my book. The next hour slips away and then it is really time for me to get ready for bed if I want at least seven hours of sleep. I take my blood pressure medication and my multi-vitamin, brush and floss my teeth, use the bathroom, turn out the living room lights, and go join my husband in bed.

Like Joe, who gets up early in the morning and goes to bed before midnight, my husband Darren gets up a few hours before I do, and goes to bed a few hours before I do, too. This arrangement gives us each time to ourselves when the other is sleeping, and I think we each enjoy the chance to do private things, like watching shows the other spouse doesn’t like, or having our own thoughts without interruption. He enjoys the early morning time, and I enjoy the late night hours.

This is a bit off topic, but since I have mentioned bed a few times, and when is the next time that happens in this blog, there is one thing I will add. Darren and I have said for years that there is one bit of advice that we would give to couples if we had the chance: Have separate blankets. We have never shared a blanket and it has worked wonders for us. I run cooler than Darren, so I use a sheet and two comforters in the winter, a sheet and light blanket in the summer. Darren uses one comforter in the winter and often a light blanket in the summer. Except on very hot nights when my bedding gets on his side too much, this arrangement works year in and year out. We are not fighting over them. I slip into bed, and I am moving just my covers and not his. He gets out of bed, and he is shoving his covers off to the floor and not mine. Paradise. We highly recommend separate blankets.

Back to the main topic. I hope you all have a chance for a well-rested day, or even more than one! I like my other pleasures too much to start getting to bed earlier on a regular basis, but I will remember this feeling and choose eight hours in bed more often. It is nice.

Joe will be back on Wednesday. Until then, I hope you end each day dry and comfortable and safe, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.