Old Timey

Do you like old time radio shows? If you do, there’s a podcast out there you should dig up and listen to. Hidden Harbor Mysteries. I’m going to cheat and let them do the description part:

Hidden Harbor, a small city with big problems. The criminal element strikes by night and blends into the population by day. One woman has the guts and the power to stand up to the enemies of Hidden Harbor, both foreign and domestic.

Hiidden Harbor Mysteries is a full-cast audio drama serial that uses modern technology to re-create a sound and feel from the golden age of radio.

The vocal talent here is great. I love listening to the voices. The story is neat and different from things I’ve heard before. It’s fun – and most importantly, it’s in bite size chunks. The episodes run in the area of about 20 minutes – so you can always squeeze one into your day someplace.

They’ve even got sponsors:


Stumbling Blocks

I’m constantly amazed at how the smallest tasks can turn into the largest stumbling blocks for me. There have been one or two things lately that have just stopped me in my tracks. There silly things that don’t amount to anything to anybody but me. Stuff on a “to do” list kind of stuff. These lists somehow morph from road maps to road blocks. It’s silly, but there it is.

On the up side, I get a ridiculously positive feeling when I finish these tasks, particularly if they’ve been sitting around for a while.

I wrote the other day about book reviews – and today I powered through almost all the reviews I had on my lists. I’ve got a couple left to write, but there you have it. A simple thing that is no longer the log jam in the main stream of life.

Book Review(s)

I always try to give my honest opinion of any book I’m reading. I enjoy sitting and talking about the things I’ve read. I try to do that at least twice each month – I attend two book clubs. I also write up something about almost all the books I read on Goodreads. I also wrote up stuff for MilSciFi.com. They were hibernating, but it looks like they’re back now, so maybe more soon? Who knows. I like being able to share my opinion on what I’ve read and how I feel about it.

I want to let folks know what I like so they can get out there and support those authors too. This helps everyone. I owe a couple of folks reviews, and since I seem to have some time on my hands these days I’m going to make an effort to catch up.

I’m also really worried that I won’t have a thick enough skin for the times when my work is out there. I always try to say something positive about the work I read – because I know it’s work. It’s not easy to do all that it takes to get your work out there, then have somebody just treat it badly. I strive for thoughtful and well reasoned criticism, but don’t always hit the mark. Sometimes it really is just me.

IF you’re interested and we’re not connected already, track me down on Goodreads and do the friend thing. I’d be interested to hear what you’ve got to say.

That missing piece

This is the start of my 5th week being laid off. It’s really quite odd. I know there is anxiety floating in the background, but it hasn’t transformed into full fledged fear yet. I believe that part of the reason is that I don’t tie myself to my work. My day job is not who I am, so the loss of it hasn’t caused me to lose some part of myself. There are other people out there that are tied much more directly to their work and without it they seem lost. I strive to keep a balance in my life and so far it seems to be holding. I have kept to my regular schedule and work through the day just as if I had to be at some office doing things. Better to stay on track – don’t want to crash when going back to work.

The up side to this whole mess? I’m actually getting work done for me. I’ve been able to be creative with a couple of projects, get some things done around the house and work on my writing. I’ve gotten 2 submissions out and I’m waiting to hear back. I’ve got another couple on the burner – they’re scheduled to be edited and submitted this week. I’ve even had the chance to get out and take some photos. It was a gorgeous afternoon last Wednesday and I had the chance to walk and snap with a friend. It was very relaxing. Hopefully I’ll get to do some more of this kind of thing before I get back to the grind (but not too many more – I do need to pay the bills after all).


Just a sip

So, the weekend is on the way. A great time to consider having a drink with a friend among other things… other things like listening to a great Podcast.

It has taken getting laid off and having a lot more time on my hands than ever before to allow me to actually catch up with some of the great Podcasts out there. One I particularly enjoy is PodCastle. It was recently spotlighted on another site I read – SF Signal. I don’t know if I agree with the author’s picks for “best” but that’s the beauty of it. There are over 300 episodes. There is something there for everyone.

One in particular jumped out to me as I listened to it yesterday – Episode 330 DRINK ME! I particularly enjoyed the “sponsor’s” advertisements. It is worth the time to check it out.

Have fun listening, and tip one back with friends.

Safety and Doing the Right Thing

It is very troubling to be approached by a woman coming out of the dark on a street corner at 5:30 am – particularly if that woman is asking for help.

As some may know, despite having been laid off I have maintained my daily schedule. I still get up early and head out to exercise, warm, cold, raining or not. I am usually out the door by 5:30 am. When I was working this was the only time of day I really had to myself so I would take full advantage. I still do. I pop my headphones on, turn my Walkman to my local morning show and listen to the news and entertainment report for the day.

While out on my daily route I saw a figure standing alone on the street corner. I thought perhaps it was somebody waiting to hook up with a ride to work or waiting on an early bus (even though I don’t think the bus runs down that street any more). I had already figured I was going to err on the side of caution and head down another street and be on my way. That’s when I heard her raise her voice and say, “Excuse me, but I need help…”

I have for many years asserted that a very small number of people tend to really screw things up for the rest of us. I had already made the choice in my mind to avoid this person – from a purely selfish stand point. I didn’t want to be social while I was exercising. There was also a small part of me that figured this person could be crazy, homeless/begging (odd choice of hours and location, but still) or even possibly looking for an early morning crime target. I won’t just blithely walk into a set up if I can help it. This is the first portion of the “others screw things up for the rest of us” assertion. Why would I consider this woman, alone on a street corner a threat in my neighborhood? Is the crime rate so dramatically high that I should fear for my Walkman and sweatpants? I shouldn’t have to live with that kind of fear in my own neighborhood. That makes me sad and angry all in the same breath. The next part of my assertion? I actually had to take a second and think, “I’m alone in the dark with this woman I don’t know. I am at least a foot taller than she is and easily outweigh her by 100 pounds. Who would believe ME if she wanted to call the police and accuse me of something?” I tend to have that thought a lot. I am not the kind of person that would take advantage of a woman because my size and strength make that possible – but if you don’t know me, how would you know? IF I was accused of something and even if I was completely innocent, it would ruin my reputation, hurt my career and probably end my ability to continue my volunteer work. There are a lot of folks that will “convict” in the media and a person may never recover from something like that. Why do I have to fear this? I despise the fact that I have to fear the potential ramifications of any time I spend alone with a woman I don’t know – just because others have screwed this up before. I mean that for both men and women by the way. Men for their heinous actions that give women reason to fear. Women who make false accusations and make reporting real problems so much harder. When you hear me say, “People Suck” this is what I’m talking about.

She’s alone in the dark on a chilly morning asking for help – why is my first thought not, “I should help her”?

I popped the earbuds out and headed over to her. She needed to make a call to her shift supervisor – she was working overnight and had locked herself out. I presume she was popping out for a smoke or something like that and couldn’t get back in. There are a ton of offices at the end of the street where I was and a bunch likely use overnight or off hours crews for cleaning, laundry, etc. She showed me her wallet where she had the number written down. I dialed up the local number and let her use my phone to call in to her work and let somebody know they had to get a key and head to her location. She handed the phone back and I hung up the call. Simple act of helping out achieved.

She thanked me and then backed away while facing me… maybe she was stuck in the same thought process I was?

I was glad I was able to help her out. I’m disheartened that there is this thought haze that now seems to hang over the simple act of lending a hand to somebody in need.

Occasional Gaming

One of the things I said on the “about me” page is that from time to time I like to game. This weekend was one of those times when I took the time to just relax and play. We had friends that live a couple of hours away come down to spend the night giving us all kinds of time to just hang out, chat, snack and game. It was great fun.

One game we played 3 times today was Castle Panic. Great fun, cooperative game that my daughter has a real passion for. We added in the Wizard Tower expansion for a little extra challenge and fire!

I’d go through a lot about how to play, but a certain star has already handled that. Check out Table Top – one of my favorite shows.


Jack of all trades…

Master of Architecture?

Thursday was an odd mix of the “throwback” and the forward thinking. I went to a college campus for a tour – as a perspective student. It was a long drive (and would be a rotten commute at 90 minutes) with lots of time to think. The more I think of it, the more it becomes a trippy mix of memory and future plans. I have a college degree, but not the right one to break past a certain ceiling in the architecture industry. I started in design school, but finished in a different program. I spent years in studio and drawing classes, but what got me into the field was my ability to be a CAD monkey – or take all that data and put it “in the box”. I’ve got years of experience and I’m working on the requirements to get my registration stamp here in Pennsylvania, but that’s not easy when you’re not actually working. School might actually help with that – if only I could afford to do that right now. Thursday really tossed my emotions around.

I’m considering trying to go to Morgan State University for the Graduate program in Architecture and get my masters degree. I dropped a line to the program and ended up getting a tour with the head of the program himself. That was both excellent and disconcerting. Excellent in that, how many folks get the personal tour with the director of the program? Disconcerting in that we’re about the same age and were within a just few years of each other when graduating from school last time I did this. The throwback went into overdrive when he said that the first semester of studio all students were required to be on the boards – no computer work for drawings or presentations. It’s been more than 20 years since I was on the drafting board. I’ve got the trace paper, the pencils, the triangles – I’ve even got a drafting board in the attic still. My skills would be rusty to say the least, but I think I would struggle for a while until I got back into the swing of things. The trippy part? I’ve spent the past year and a half as a trainer for the computer programs that architects and engineers use – so there’s actually some small potential that I could get an adjunct professor kind of position there teaching Revit. I could be the teacher and the student… at the same time? It was a confusing and unsettling day, but the trip is one I’m ultimately glad I made.

Now is more of the wait and see part. This is all conjecture. None of it is relevant until I’m once again gainfully employed – money does seem to make the world go around.

Right Justified

I don’t know how many folks I’ve ever talked to about certain aspects of the way I drive (bet the post title made you think this was about page set up). I tend not to talk about driving too much because I don’t really like it. One of the things I’ve done over time is develop for myself ways to get around some of the worst driving tie-ups in the area or ways to get to my favorite locations with less hassle.

I tend not to make left turns if I can help it.

Going to Cupboard Maker Books is a great example. When I go there, I go in a great big circle. It’s probably a shorter distance to go with one route only, but I use two. I use all right turns to go from here in Camp Hill, through Enola and around to the store. Almost all right turns, including into the parking lot there. When I leave, I turn right out of the parking lot and head down along the river then turn right to come back up the hill here to the house. Likely the shortest physical route, but requiring at least 4 left turns if I were to head TO the store that way. The thing is, with all the right turns, I don’t have to wait for the light(s) or cross traffic. It’s easy and I generally keep moving. Unless I totally don’t know the area I’m driving in I always try to plan my route out like this. Right turns are easy – I like them.

As it turns out – I’m not alone. UPS has some interesting things to say on the subject: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-ups-drivers-don-t-make-left-turns-172032872.html

So – right justified, right?