October 13, 2015


Have you ever envied those people who have handicapped tags, thus giving them permission to park in those coveted blue-striped spaces? These usually represent the ultimate in parking lot real estate. No other slab of asphalt screams a louder location, location, location.

Did you ever watch some of those people get in and out of their vehicles? Yeah, I agree, many of them are about as handicapped as an Olympic pole vaulter.

Anyway, two weeks ago, as I hobbled out of the doctor’s office with my half-empty bottle of Aleve jiggling in my pocket, I had in my possession a slip of paper the doctor had signed that would reward my endurance for pain with a bright red card to hang from my rear-view mirror for the next six months. Holy crap–I have arrived amongst the elite silver spooners, the upper crusters, the trustees of the crown jewel…the handicapped parkers!

So I should be happy, right? After all, I have been in substantial pain for several weeks now and walking, especially long treks across parking lots, has become an arduous task. No, I am not wheelchair-bound and I don’t even use a cane. I tried a cane but I am cane-challenged. I could not figure out with which hand I should hold the cane, let alone coordinate its timing and placement in the air and on the ground. I felt it lowered the odds considerably as to how soon and how violently I would fall.

It’s my left knee that is the problem. It’s been a ticking time bomb for the past five years. That’s how long it’s been since I had a total replacement done on my right knee. I was supposed to get the left one done once the surgery on the right healed.  It was not meant to be.  My right leg went ballistic with nerve and muscle reaction to the new joint and carried out its excruciating rebellion for a good three years before settling down. I made a promise to my left leg, and to myself, that I would never do that again. So I nixed having the left knee replaced.

Well, five years of nixing was tolerable until about a month ago.   Something happened and I still don’t know exactly what. But I know the result. I hurt enough now to finally bite the bone and have the left knee replaced. I’m down for the count, pounding my fist on the mat and crying uncle. I have to hope the first operation was a fluke and the second one will go much better. It’s still a month away.

So, now back to the handicapped parking pass. It is a relic of the term “handicapped” which has been pretty much eradicated in America and replaced with more politically correct references. But this valuable sliver of red or blue card stock has somehow managed to retain it’s original name and most people refer to it accordingly. And guess what? When someone like me gets one, it is, indeed, a handicap.

I am so fearful of people thinking I don’t deserve having the pass, that I find myself avoiding the handicapped spaces if a regular one is in the vicinity. And if I do park between the sacred blue lines I have a tendency to emphasize my lopsided gate once outside the car and walking. “See everyone?” Yeah, I’m in really bad shape and that handicapped pass dangling inside my windshield sure helps me avoid a lot of extra pain. God Bless the DMV.”

Now, I know I’m making more out of this than it deserves, but at my age the glory days are few and far between. So if a little extra privilege comes your way and you’re really hurtin’, then screw what some stranger in a parking lot may think. Enjoy the superior location and all the benefits it has to offer. Once in a while it’s nice to have a leg up on everybody else…even if it does hurt like hell.



September 30, 2015


This morning there was a heron on my roof.

My first thought was that it was some kind of spoof.

But no, he definitely was up there, that’s for sure.

I’ve seen them by the canal but never on the roof before.

I ran to get my camera, hoping he wouldn’t take flight.

And there he was when I returned, much to my delight.

This was not the famous tall blue heron nor either the white.heron4

Mine on the roof was the smaller heron they call tri-color.

A bird of bountiful shades making others appear much duller.

He arrived accompanied by a mate; she landed low, he went high.

They appeared to be squabbling, both of them staring eye to eye.

He ruffled his feathers, stood up tall and stretched his neck.

She’d took off and flew low but straight until just a speck.

He seemed to care not at all and started strutting up the roof

I watched him make his way to the peak then disappear, poof!

Heron5I do not know what was on his mind, where he went, nor which way.

But this morning there was a heron on my roof and it made my day.


Of Mouse and Man

September 26, 2015


You will know that I have finally settled into my new iMac when you stop seeing postings about it here on my blog.  So guess what happened now on the way to AppleLand?  As most of you know by now, wonderwife Rosemarie bought me this state of the art/nation/world iMac for my birthday last May.  It’s the big Rolls Royce model that comes with the 27” 5k Retina Monitor.  Wow, you can see every zit on Taylor Swift’s chin.  No, don’t think about stealing it.  You will have to go through Bill the Dog’s knurly teeth first, not to mention the ex-marine with the three automatic weapons I pay to stand next to the monitor 24/7.

Since May, I spent these past four months attempting to transition from decades of PC habits to learning a whole new set of Apple Macincantations (bet you stumble say’n that word!).

Now, after all this time, I still cannot give up the PC…just yet.  I am sure many will say I just haven’t gotten the knack (or is that kmac?) of using the new computer.  But here’s the issue.  There are few Mac website producing programs for dummies that dummies like me need to make websites.  I have six websites that I have made from scratch and maintain regularly.  They were all produced with a program on the PC that won’t work on the Mac.  So I have been spending a lot of money and time trying to find a Mac program that I can switch over to.

Mac aficionados will tell you that RapidWeaver is the most fantastic program ever produced for making websites on a Mac.  I bought it; plus several of the “addons” you have to buy if you want to do anything creative like draw a box or use a special font beyond the crappy dozen that come with the program; plus I bought some tutorials but they expired(!) before I got to watch them all.  Then, I finally bought an entire course of tutorials and went through a good 15 or more and I still could not get one entire web page produced that didn’t have something wrong with it.  I spent three weeks trying to learn things that I was doing on the PC program the first day I brought it home without, I might add, looking at one tutorial.

In that my blood pressure, not to mention my feelings of inadequacies and low self-esteem, was for sure leading to a heart attack over all this, I decided I will simply have TWO computers.  Yeah, I know, S T U P I D !    I will continue to use my PC for my websites.  Everything else has been transferred over to the iMac….well, most everything.

I am humble enough (note mention of low self-esteem above) to still think all these Mac issues are self-made.  Therefore, I will continue to attempt to learn RapidWeaver…but just not rapidly.  Maybe someday if I can learn to draw a simple object and put a shadow or glow behind it without having to spend 49 more dollars for an “addon,” I shall transfer my websites over to the iMac and once again become a one-computer person.

In the meantime, my desk is cluttered with two of everything: two monitors, two keyboards and, until yesterday, two mice.  I just became a one-mouse man!  I found a new really fancy-schmancy Logitect wireless mouse that will function on up to three computers at the same time, both PC and Mac together.  As you can see in the illustration above, it’s a real beauty with a radical design that even Mickey would be impressed with.  It’s really cool.  So, now I have one mouse and with the push of a button I can easily switch between my two computers.  So, finally, one thing has gone right during this great PC/Mac migration…I just hope it’s not a mousetrap.



September 16, 2015


The lead story on the Channel 6 news (Miami) last night was about a 52-year-old man who, after several days being the subject of a massive manhunt, was found and arrested.

There was extensive coverage from Chopper 6 when the cops were in pursuit after finally spotting their man. He, by the way, was attempting to get away on a motor scooter which was obviously no match for a gazillion siren-blaring suped-up cop cars.

Then, there were the customary students-on-the-sidewalk interviews with those who attended the local university campus where the crime was committed. There were references to the situation as “creepy” and “weird.”

Of course, the brief footage of the perp being escorted into the Broward Jail was shown at least 4 or 5 times.  I was happy they repeated it so often. It gave me time to count the number of squares in the chain link fence surrounding the entrance.

The coverage went on for quite some time but, deservedly so…after all, it was the lead story on Channel 6 last night. I thought the pretty people who sit at the news anchor desk did a pretty good job of introducing the various coverage elements of the story and they segued well from one source to the other. The “field” reporter who was there covering every aspect of the story also did a commendable job dramatizing the entire event as if there might be a Tony award for performance in the future. Yep, all the details were thoroughly explained and the presentation went smoothly with no technical hiccups or missed cues. Don’t you just love contemporary news coverage, especially when it’s breaking news?  Oh wait, nowadays all the television stations label all their news as breaking…at least it seems that way.

I got to thinking about the days I worked in the news industry. Those were exciting times for me. I was even once trapped driving a marked news car on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.  during a day dedicated to demonstration against the war in Vietnam.  There I was with a mob of students surrounding me and stomping on the hood and then some of them jumping up and down on the roof and shaking the car from side to side.   Ah, those were the days when  covering a good anti-war demonstration in the nation’s capital got your adrenaline flowing while your pulse commenced popping the buttons off your shirt.  Talk about breaking news!

Of course, I had great role models to fashion my career after. Folks like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite just to mention two. Come to think of it, I bet these guys would have found Channel 6’s journalistic efforts last night to be quite…ah quite….quite….well, I really can’t quite speak for them.

Oh, I almost forgot. I did fail to mention what the lead story was all about on last night’s news on Channel 6 in Miami. How stupid of me. And I call myself a former journalist. Hmmmm.

Well, it seems this guy who was putt-putting down the highway on his motor scooter with a line of cop cars behind him in hot pursuit; this same social outcast we were treated to seeing enter the Broward County Jail 4-5 times, was allegedly guilty of a singular offense, something no doubt he will never do a second time…well, we certainly hope not. Oh, did I fail to mention he was a “sniffer?”   Well, there you have it. I let the big news story slip out. This beast who allegedly represents the human quagmire we call society, I mention again, was arrested for a one-time only offense. He was seen hiding under a table, sniffing a woman’s foot. Thank God he wasn’t a serial sniffer. I suppose then Channel 6 would have gone into non-stop, wall-to-wall continuous coverage of this critically important story–ah, excuse me, breaking news story.

Yep, old Ed and Walter…and me for that matter, have to give the news team at Channel 6 a lot of credit. Those guys—and gals—sure have a nose for news.



September 11, 2015


It has not been a good computer day. The new iMac and all it stands for…has stood me down. I actually had to make a panicky call to the geeks at Apple Care to whom I paid a lot of money to be there in my time of need over the next three years. Well, tonight around 10pm I was in a time of need and they were there. That was a good thing.

What happened was, I was spending the evening attempting to change the color of the background on a website I was trying to “birth” using a software program I had never used before. It was over two hours of trying to learn how to change the color of the background…yep, two hours.  Macs, I have always been told, are intuitive and so easy to use. Two hours and I never did discover how to change the background color.

See, I was interrupted—S U D D E N L Y—by a notice that came on the screen proclaiming that my computer was in severe danger. A malware virus was attacking and I should not, repeat NOT, attempt to restart my computer. Then a female voice actually blossomed out of my speakers with a flowery announcement that suggested I immediately call The Technical Assistants at the toll-free number on the blue screen. Oh yeah, by now a second, large display had overtaken my desktop. It filled the entire screen—all 27 inches—and, yes, it was blue. It told me my computer was in grave danger caused by error 333 Registry Failure of System and displayed the toll-free number I should call immediately. Again I was warned NOT to do anything to the computer and certainly not to restart it.

Besides telling me how intuitive Macs are, I have always been banged over the head by appletonians about how safe they are and that they never….NEVER…are attacked by viruses and malware….NEVER. This is why, after owning a good half-dozen or more PCs since the 90’s, all of which were attacked and some even trashed, by a virus, that I yearned for a Mac. For my birthday last May, my dear wife made my wish come true.   And here I am in September, still with two computers on my desk because I have not been able to master the Mac enough to give up the PC.  I speak the truth when I say that I have really, really, really tried.

WebPlus is a PC program I have used for years to design and maintain my six websites—a program even a caveman could master.  Unfortunately, it is not made in a Mac version so I have been looking for a replacement. Consequently, I have been playing around with three different Mac programs that were recommended as the best Mac programs for making websites. I may as well be attempting to launch a Saturn 5 rocket to Neptune. It is amazing how easy it is to change the background color of a website in the PC program I’ve always used.  Tonight I tried to do the same thing in two different Mac programs and I spent over two hours and still failed to figure out how to do it. And then I was attacked by the malware.

Down in the garage there is a large tin can filled with tinker toys. Tinker toys date back to when I was a young child. Now my grandson plays with them when he comes to visit. They are nothing more than wood sticks that fit into round wooden disks with sockets drill in them to hold the sticks.  With a little imagination and engineering ingenuity even a caveboy can build a Ferris Wheel or a Saturn 5 rocket long before anyone who lives in a cave or condo can ever figure out how to change the background color on a website…on a Mac.


One thing that is truly intuitive for me is to automatically says thanks to those who recently took the time to stop by marc’s blog and leave a “like.”  Among the distinguished crowd this time were: Teri Griffin, Kathleen Neiman, Ron Carmean, Mike Fuller, Almost Iowa, Compwhiz 3001, Alysha Kate, Damyanti, John Guillen, Nina Karadzic, breybrey44, Jodie Llewellyn, Ana Spoke, Antonio Westley, Rita Petrushansky-Mastroni, Aniket Sharma, reviewdirector, Fashionable Librarian, Lee Ann Kuhn, George Sheldon, Antoinette Prato Shreffler, Dave LaMont, Rachael Kuhn Darrow, and Ed Nowak.  Thanks everybody!


September 6, 2015

new born infant asleep in the blanket in delivery roomWell if, indeed, the third time is the charm, I have reached a significant point in the writing of my third novel…it’s done!  I have never taken longer, been more confused and confounded and have never felt so ambivalent about a manuscript upon its completion as I do this one.  This means it is possible that I have just written my very worst book….or my very best.  I do not think there is a between.

While I cannot accurately compare, given that I am not of the correct sex, but I sense writing books is somewhat similar to birthing a family.  Oh, this one has a cute smile; that one has his mother’s good looks; and this third one?  Where the hell did it come from?  Are you sure it’s mine?

My usual method—if I have one—when I write a book is, first I have the overall plot figured out.  I don’t physically outline, but I do spend a lot of time on research, assuming there are things that need researching.  Then, when the mood strikes, I sit down and begin.  I usually go chapter by chapter.  I decide what needs to be accomplished in each chapter and then set about putting those pieces of the puzzle together and getting them down in some kind of basic structure consisting of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs and, ultimately, a chapter.  That’s it—that’s my process.  This book did not follow any of these procedures.  As I mentioned in a previous posting, this book was written in sections, the beginning and ending first, then the middle.  Yeah, I know, that’s how movies are often shot, but books aren’t usually written that way.

This book had a mind of its own.  The original concept had something to do with a priest getting a young lady pregnant and eventually leaving the church and marrying the mother so he could be a true father to his daughter but she didn’t know he was her real father because he did not want to divulge that he was screwin’ around while embedded within the priesthood.  I know, sounds kinda Thorn Birdie, but it wasn’t.  Regardless I sent the Priest back to church where he belonged and changed him into a third-gen Irish American with a strong Catholic family heritage.  Why that?  I don’t know…just sorta came out that way.  Then I made him have a career as a radio news anchor.  Why that?  Well, that’s the only thing that makes sense since it’s something I know about, having worked in radio all my life up until I retired a few years ago.

Now, from this point forward, the story sort of rambles on at its own choosing, taking me along for the ride because it needed someone to write it all down.  It was a weird experience.  Maybe I was possessed for the past eight months.

So, now comes the hard part…continuing with the proofing and the editing, the building of a website and the marketing.  I also have to complete the cover.  It is mostly done, but there is a little piece of art yet to be added.  My deal with the artist has gone a bit sour, but I hope it is resolved soon and then the cover will be ready to go.  Much to do, but I still hope to have the book in hand sometime in October if all goes well…just in time for Halloween which seems to make a lot of sense given how spooky it was to write.  Uhhh, gotta go–there’s another contraction.



September 2, 2015

cubspitcherIt’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my baseball project. The past week has been tough on this one-summer-only baseball fan. Yes, this is breaking news: I have decided my baseball experiment will live for only one season. It’s been fun, but I can’t see it going on again next year at the same level to which I’ve devoted so much time this season.  For those who may have arrived to this blog just recently, I have become a Chicago Cubs fan for the summer. I have never been an ardent baseball fan so I thought I’d adopt a team this year and give it a shot. A fanatical Phillies fan, who is also a good friend, assigned me the Cubs when I asked his advice regarding what team I should follow. There, now all you newbies are caught up with the concept.

As I said, it’s been a bad week for the Cubs. They have lost the last five out of seven games. In the midst of this unusual low point in their wins vs. losses, I have to admit my heart actually pounded a good bit and my eyes were glued to the screen the other night when Cubs lead pitcher, Jake Arrieta, pitched a no-hitter against the Dodgers. The final three outs where enough excitement to breathe life into what I find to be a sport where the action is sporadic at best.  There is a lot of sit-back-and-wait in baseball.  This is actually a good thing since it allows you to multi-task while  you watch a game.   Yes, I know there is a tremendous amount of strategy and a gazillion little details being played out all over the field, but unless you are a scholar of the game, most of it goes unnoticed by someone like me.  I am late in the game and like most anything else, there is a learning curve to baseball.  I am sure establishing a relationship with the game at a young age, say at little league level, helps one to understand the many nuances a lot better.  I just get the basics: hit the ball and run like hell, tagging as many bases as possible before you’re either safe or out.  Then the fans sing Take me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch.

What I did notice is that, suddenly, there are a whole bunch of new players on the team. Tonight alone there are four new players I am seeing for the first time. Where the hell did they come from? Are they hanging on the hooks in the dugout all summer long and when the time comes to freshen up the team the manager just pulls them down, pats them on the butt and sends them out onto the field?  There is something, I think I heard, called the “September call-up.” Just when I have finally learned all the players on the team, half the team has changed.  This is so alien to me. Will the real Cubs please stand up…or come to the plate at least.  All this not knowing what’s going on makes me feel like a real baseball bonehead.  I think the saying goes something like “I’m way out in left field.”

Maybe it’s the manager background in me but there is one thing I can appreciate about the game. It’s a verrrry long season with lots of games and lots of stress to perform. Days off are few and far between. These guys do work lots of hours. If you get to the playoffs and beyond, I agree, it has to be recognized as a great accomplishment. I get that. And it’s no wonder the team that goes all the way and wins the World Series pours cases of champagne all over itself then gets a big parade and a visit to the White House. It’s the great American way, but I am happy there’s only one more month of it to go. Next year maybe I’ll watch Curling, another sport I know nothing about.




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