Tag Archives: Paris

Top ten list of blessings in my life

Greetings, readers. Today I thought I would go upbeat with the blog entry. Recently I’ve been telling you about all the things that have been bothering me in my life, and today I thought I would go cheery. I am grateful for many, many things, even though sometimes I don’t always show it. So here is my top ten list of things for which I am grateful.

#10. My late kitty cat Keekee. [Not too long after I moved into Addison Court, I’d say less than a year, a friend of mine was moving out. She could not take the two cats she had with her and asked me if I wanted one for free. I’m glad I decided to try it, allergies notwithstanding. She was my buddy for one week short of 12 years.]

#9. Princess Josie. [This cat is completely different in demeanor than Keekee. I love her to pieces, but she is a little more rambunctious than my former furry feline.]

#8. Meals on Wheels. [Although they are not always dishes which I would consider my favorites, I do eat most of them and feel blessed to have them at such an economical price.]

#7. A place over my head. [No, it’s not the family house that we used to own, but it is two nice-sized rooms with fully functional kitchen and I enjoyed the great view from the top floor for 13 years. With the new building going up next door though, I’m going to lose most of that view.]

#6. Sentimental items from my parent’s home. [When I moved to this apartment 13 years ago or so, I vowed to take as many paintings as I could get. It gives the apartment a hint of my former home. For that I am extremely grateful. I also have my mom’s desk and a bookcase of which we make good use.]

#5. Good neighbors and friends in the building. [As in any community, there are good neighbors and neighbors you’d like to run over with your car. I’m very happy to say that I have most pleasant neighbors, with only a few exceptions. I’m a very easygoing man and can usually work around any people who cause conflict. I’m glad that so many of my neighbors are folks I am happy to call friends.]

#4. Rebecca. [Every book I’ve ever done would not be published without Rebecca. Not only is she a good friend, she is a fantastic typist and an awesome editor. In her role as personal assistant, she has kept me from missing numerous appointment. Kudos to Rebecca.]

#3. Working technology. [Yes, I do like my Steam games, and to watch movies on Netflix. Sometimes I lose myself in a fantasy world of baseball, or I’ll spend and entire evening watching James Bond pictures. I’m happy for the technology to do so, i.e. my computer and gaming system to watch Netflix and YouTube on my TV.]

#2. A great bus system. [As chance would have it, my apartment is steps away from a bus stop, where many of the buses I take stop at. Though, during the summer time, when the buses run on reduced service, I find myself having to walk downtown a few blocks to catch buses at the main stop, called the College Ave, and Allen St stop. Sure, I’d love to have my own vehicle, but this is the next best thing.]

#1. And yes, it is in order, is that at least for now, I can still go to Bear Spring Camps. [I might have to stop after this year or perhaps after next, but I am going to milk it for all it is worth. Bear Spring Camps, and those people I have known all my life, are my truest blessings.]

There is today’s top ten list, on this cheery topic. I hope everyone enjoys it. Please pray for everyone who needs it, and if you are inclined to and can, please consider donating to a fund to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Such a tragic loss. I plan to donate some money myself.

Until this weekend, have a fantastic few days, take care of your family, enjoy good weather if you have it, and as always, happy reading.

Top ten list of Star Trek holodeck programs I would have if the technology existed

Greetings, readers. As a Star Trek fanatic and a holodeck episode lover, I started to think, just what programs I would create and save if I had use of a holodeck. In the Star Trek world, even though a person is in a small room, the concept is that holographic images are displayed and moved so that people are tricked into thinking they have unlimited space. Here’s my list in reverse order.

#10. A visit to any city I chose. [Maybe one day I would create Paris and sit to enjoy coffee in an outdoor cafe. The next day, perhaps Rome to visit the Colosseum. Or to Devils Tower in Wyoming.]

#9. Drive a car to anywhere. [Oh, what fun it would be to drive to Maine any time I wanted to.]

#8. My own baseball league with my own home team and personally designed stadium. [I could see the Pennsylvania Lumberjacks, perhaps.]

#7. A house with a virtual family. [This idea, I must admit, came to me after watching an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, “Real Life”, where the Doctor created the perfect family, but B’Elanna Torres thought that was too easy and changed the program. I would set it up so that I could control the weather and the type of home and furniture we had, but I would randomized how my family reacted to me day-to-day to be more realistic. I would not have the “perfect” family.]

#6. A train ride to anywhere. [I could ride an Amtrak in America, take a local in New Jersey, or hop aboard the Orient Express. Lots of intrigue and mystery there.]

#5. Take a virtual cruise. [I could set it up for any number of days I chose and for any destination. I could take a quick trip to the Bahamas, or a cruise around the world, stopping at all the wonderful ports of call. This one would have to be saved and gone back to. ]

#4. An airplane ride to anywhere. [I absolutely adore aircraft. I wish I could fly in them more often. If I only had an hour, I would take a prop pane ride from State College to Pittsburgh. If I had more time on my hands, maybe I would hop a jet and fly cross-country to California. I could sit in my virtual airplane seat, take notes, and type my stories.]

#3. To speak to any writer I chose and pick his or her brain. [I could share my limited amount of work with them and ask them to critique it. Hopefully they would be kind.]

#2. A day at the beach. [Imagine the warmth, the sand, the smell of salt in the sea breeze, and of course, the ocean. I could spend hours in this program.]

#1. Recreate a day at Bear Spring Camps anytime I chose. [I would have a few scenarios in this program with different kinds of weather, different times of the year, and, of course, the people I know from real-life Bear Spring, as well as computer generated fictional families. You would hardly ever get me out of that program.]

Honorable mention: Camping in a tent. [I’ve never gone camping in a tent before, but if there was one big enough that I wouldn’t feel claustrophobic in, it would appeal to me. To hear the crickets at night and have my campfire going would be soothing and peaceful. I love nature, especially crickets and the sound of birds.]

There’s my list. I hope you enjoy. Whether you are a Star Trek fan or not, please do chime in with your list, either here or in Facebook.

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

R.I.P. to the victims of EgyptAir flight 804

Greetings, readers. Today I am sad to have to blog about another air crash in the world. This past Wednesday night, an Airbus A320 took off from Paris, France headed to Cairo, Egypt with 56 passengers and ten crew members. They never made it. Somewhere over the Mediterranean sea the aircraft either exploded due to a terrorist attack, or suffered a catastrophic failure at cruising altitude. I can only imagine what those souls went through in their last moments of their lives.

I have re-watched a number of episodes of Air Crash Investigation in the last couple of days, especially the episodes dealing with Malaysia Air flight 370 and Air France flight 447. Those two incidents are examples of crashes that take many years to find an explanation.

In the case of Malaysia 370, searchers are still looking for the aircraft. Every once in a great while, a piece of that airplane will wash up on shore on islands by Australia. The plane must be somewhere on the ocean floor near that area. The only problem is that body of water is humongous. Eventually they will find the aircraft, I’m sure. In the case of Air France 447, that plane has been found and the cause of the crash was figured out to be mechanical failure followed by human error. It was a painstaking process which took years. I’m sure that when Malaysia 370 is found, its cause will also be determined.

If there is any silver lining to this latest tragedy, it might be this. Pieces of EgyptAir 804 have been found, according to this New York Times article, and hopefully for the families of the victims, answers will come soon. With answers comes closure. My heart goes out to the families of victims from all of the air crashes I have mentioned in this entry.

Next week should be a regular work week with at least two blog posts. Until then, do take care, hug your loved ones, and happy reading.

The last month and a half of Mr. Gotrocks

Greetings, readers. I was telling my accountant today how sick and tired I am of constantly being low on cash and stressed about my monthly finances. I told him I was going to come up with a plan by January 1st to rectify this problem. He told me that he has heard this story many, many times. Well, I have said it before. Times have changed, however, and it is a whole new ballgame.

I’m constantly talking to my therapist about how stressed out and depressed I am about my monthly budget. She and I talked about the idea of getting through the rest of this year and having a brand new self-imposed budget ready for the new year. I thought that was an excellent idea. I didn’t tell her, but I was already thinking about that idea myself.

After I get back from my mini-Thanksgiving trip with my girlfriend, Traci, Mr. Updagraff has given me the okay to have Meals on Wheels delivered 5 days a week instead of 3 days. This will take care of my weekday needs. Traci and I are going to have to just realize that any eating out we do will have to be done on the weekends and as cheaply as possible.

If I can get this plan to work, I think my stress level will be significantly lower and I will be much more of a happy camper.

Along with my new budget, I hope to have in place, by the New Year or soon thereafter, a new daily schedule to keep to. It will incorporate the early get-up time, which quite frankly I have become accustomed to. It is having the hours to write part and the going to bed earlier part that will need the most work. I’ve noticed one thing about myself over the years and it is this: I might take longer to get things done, but once I’ve ‘had it’ I do whatever I need to do and I don’t look back.

I asked my accountant to bear with me until the end of December, in case I need extra cash for the upcoming trip, Christmas presents for friends, and maybe a little something for me. Then Mr. Gotrocks dies. I will no longer be able to live outside my means and I no longer wish to. I think it would help my self-esteem if I got on a serious budget and stuck to it. I shall let you know the outcome. 🙂

Until Friday, when I’ll have a top ten list for you, take care, have a good couple of days, and happy reading.

P.S. Prayers go out to the families of the victims from the horrible terrorist attack in France. My heart goes out to you.

From Rebecca: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight

Yesterday I watched the third in a series of films that started eighteen years ago.

In 1995 a film came out called Before Sunrise, written by Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan. It starred Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as two people in their early 20s who meet on a train to Vienna and begin talking. Over the course of that day, evening, and overnight the two characters, Jesse and Celine, talk about life, what they want to do, how they view the world, and get to know each other as they wander through Vienna. Jesse has to leave early in the morning, so that is all the time they have. It was a film of young love in Europe.

Some years after the film came out, the two stars and one of the writers, Richard Linklater, started talking about writing a follow-up film with the two characters. The three artists wrote scenes, emailed each other, and got together to slowly produce the next chapter for Jesse and Celine.

That film, called Before Sunset, came out in 2004. Set in Paris, again starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, the story caught up to the characters nine years later. A little older and a little less innocent, they have each had other relationships and some success in their careers. Jesse needs to get on a plane that evening, so they only have the afternoon together. So they spend it talking as they walk through streets, sit at a cafe, take a boat ride, and ride in a hired car. I like the choice they made in just this film to be running in real-time; the camera seems to be following them with no breaks. I know that they shot it over several days, instead of one long take, but the film has the feeling of a long conversation in an afternoon in Paris.

After that film, some time passed and then the three writers (Linklater, Delpy and Hawke) began to work on a third one.

Before Midnight came out last year, in 2013, and again picked up our couple nine years later. In a relationship with each other, 41 years old, they are on vacation in Greece. They have two daughters now, and when they are given a chance to spend time in a hotel room without the children, they end up spending that time examining their relationship, disappointments, and responsibilities. Should they stay together, should they part?

I don’t remember which film I heard of first, but the first two have been on my to-watch list for years. When the third one came out, I bumped them closer to the top. I watched all three films, with some time in between each one, for the first time within the last year. I enjoyed them all very much. After so much manufactured romance from Hollywood (as much as I enjoy romantic comedies), it was a refreshing change to watch romance set in the real world.

Each film finds this woman and man at different times of their lives – in their 20s, 30s, and 40s – and each age they need something different from their encounters. Seeing the actors mature and change with the characters adds to the experience. They don’t fall head over heels in love and live happily ever after. They connect to each other, connect to each other again, and then have a grown up relationship that includes hope, disappointments, dishes, an ex-wife, being tired, helping with the children, sex, and commitment.

And talking. In each film, there is a lot of sharing of ideas, philosophy, life views, dreams, and intentions. In the third film, there is a wonderful scene where a group of people are eating a meal together. They talk about men and woman, romance, relationships, and the changes in the world as it relates to couples (the young couple at the table stay in their long distance relationship with the use of Skype). The people at the meal represent all stages of love and ages; a young couple, an old married couple, a widow. Their conversation is lively and interesting.

I also liked the three locations used in the films; Vienna, Paris, and Greece. They were filmed on location, so we see architecture, landscapes, cafes, rivers, and art. Each place added to the mood and feeling of the films.

Will there be a fourth film? Time will tell. Nine years later would be 2022. I intend to see it, if that film is made.