Snapshot Saturday: Nov. 22

Nov 22

Another blast from the past!

I had to scan a couple of photos for my brother, so I figured I’d use one here.

Even back then with the soccer ball.

Even back then with the soccer ball.

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Announcing the 20 Days of Chill Writing Challenge

Nov 21

One thing I’ve missed over the past several months in blogging is interaction. For a few months, my posts were sporadic and I haven’t visited as many blogs as I usually do.

I’m trying to amend that.

One way to do that is to be part of challenges. For the past few years, I took part in a once-per-year challenge. The goal was simple – a post per day for a full month. Each day, there was a linkup. Most participants visited and comments on everybody’s posts. It was interactive and fun.

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Last year, however, was the final year the challenge was being held. It stinks, just because it was so fun and I always enjoyed the people who took part in it.

The concept of the challenge was pretty easy. A post gave the dates and the themes. Each day, you wrote a post with the theme in mind. You then went to the main site, commented on their post (of course!) and linked yours. Then people would be visiting and commenting throughout the day. Lots of fun!

As for the themes? They differed. Some were easy, some hard, some way out there, and some straight to the point. Not everybody did all of the themes. Some did all of them. It all depended on the blog and the person.

That’s what made it fun, though.

But even more fun was the community, the comments, the interaction and everything else. I found some great blogs through this challenge and found some good blogging friends.

One of the fun parts, too, was the bloggers submitting themes to be considered. This way, it truly was a community.

So, I’ve decided to try and run one of these, too. And I’m reaching out to the Northeast Bloggers Network to hope you’ll join me. It’s my hope you’ll want to post most days, but please – even if it’s just a small part of your post – try and have the theme somewhere. This isn’t just a linkup so people can put their post somewhere else – it’s a challenge.

Here’s the deal with the challenge – and in the spirit of the former writing challenge I was a member of, there are no real rules (outside of somehow making the theme part of your post, and making sure when you link up it’s to the direct pot, not just your website!)

What’s that mean?

It means there are no length requirements. No style requirements. You don’t have to post each day. Be part of it when you can, and hopefully that means for the full challenge.

The themes/prompts are there to help guide you. Have fun with them. Be creative with your writing. Interpret as you see fit. Fiction or fact. All up to you.

With that, welcome to the 20 Days of Chill Writing Challenge!

This challenge will be held during January, on weekdays beginning on Jan. 5.

So there will be no weekends for the challenge, just Monday-Friday. That means the dates will be:

  • January 5-9
  • January 12-16
  • January 19-23
  • January 26-30

I’ll schedule my posts to be up by 6 a.m. EST each day. I would encourage each of you to check back throughout the day and visit others blogs. I believe you’ll all be pleasantly surprised at how fun this can be and how many interesting posts will hopefully be there.

At this point, I am calling on all of you for theme ideas. I’ll leave this open for 2-3 weeks, and then randomly select 20. All of them will be announced ahead of time, so you can plan accordingly.

There is (hopefully) a Google form attached here (at the bottom of the post) for you to fill out to give some ideas for themes. Conversely, feel free to post them in the comments here as I will keep an eye on this.

On December 18, I will have a post with the dates and themes as well as anything else needed.

Side note – last year, I created a t-shirt through TeeSpring for the challenge. I’ll do that again this year. They do good work and each person who wants one buys it through the website themselves. It’s a campaign, though, so we’ll need to get a certain amount for it to happen. Hopefully, that will work. My plan will be to launch it about a week before the challenge starts and keep it live for three weeks. The logo on this page will be on the shirt. I just need to come up with what color to use for the shirt!

I hope you all will consider this fun challenge. Tell your blogging friends. Let’s make it a good one! The 20 Days of Chill!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Going geocaching mega style at the Metro Gathering

Nov 20

A day of geocaching was definitely something needed.

This past Saturday two of us took the semi-short trip to New Jersey to attend a Mega event and have a day of geocaching. Turns out it was a pretty solid trip overall and it felt good to get out and geocache for a day — something I haven’t done in a while.

A monster geocoin.

A monster geocoin.

In fact, since I started caching in 2008, this year counts for the fewest amount of finds I’ve ever had. After this past weekend, which saw a 30-cache day, I’m at 202 for the year. The next closest for fewest finds in a year was the 432 I found last year.

Do the math on that one.

So, needless to say, a weekend like this is one I really needed. And it was a good time. Including the mega event and a lab cache, we found 10 different icons in one day, which is pretty sweet. On the state program I use, however, lab caches don’t count (and I can understand why), though they do count toward the total on your geocaching.com profile.

Anyway…

Found it!

Found it!

It was a nice and crisp fall day with temperatures in the 40s and a blue sky with a brilliant sun. The event staff did a nice job in putting some 20-plus caches out in this park, which was wonderful to walk. There were paved paths, the hides were clever and well done and, for most of the finds, there wasn’t an overflow of people. That is rare with mega events, but I think with the caches being published several days before the event, people got them before hand. Not only that, when we walked them, we did it in the afternoon.

The cool part about the day, though, was the cool caches. We hit a few virtual geocaches, one of which took us to a cemetery where there was a Mercedes headstone. Yeah, really wild. We nabbed a webcam cache, which are hard to find anymore.

There was an on-site puzzle, as well as meeting some cachers and having the chance to do a Whereigo with them.

Fall was still hanging around in Jersey.

Fall was still hanging around in Jersey.

As for the event, it was pretty solid. Considering it was started with somebody saying “We should be able to do this,” and getting the Mega status rather quickly, it went well. There were some good vendors there. There was pretty decent Pathtag trading, too. I walked out with many new tags for the collection!

It was also nice running into some old caching friends and making a few more. It also showed me how much I’ve missed geocaching with as little as I’ve done it this year.

Life sometimes gets in the way of hobbies like this. But the other side is a hobby like this allows you to disappear some … and the come back like nothing has changed. I don’t know how many big days I’ll have left this year, but this weekend makes me want to get out again to cache and to place them.

On a side note, by getting all of the caches in the park that day, it helped me get to more than 17,000 steps that day, and in the end, that’s what I always loved about caching — a fun hobby that allows you to exercise at the same time!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Living with Diabetes: I’m a dreamer, what type are you?

Nov 19

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It took me a long time to accept being a diabetic.

I can’t honestly remember when it was diagnosed. Years ago. Type 2. Have to watch this and that. It went from no medicine, to medicine to the threat of insulin …

All because I couldn’t accept it.

Realize this – that more than 80 percent of those with Type 2 could have prevented it. I’m pretty sure I could have fended this off for quite a while if I had been smart when first diagnosed. But that Snickers bar looked so good…

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Life throws curves. So how do you deal with it? I finally accepted it. And life is a lot better because of it.

I was contacted by Oscar Health, a new company providing health insurance in New York and New Jersey, to spread some awareness about diabetes. Despite how this disease has grown, I’ve really worked the past several months for it not to define me. I want it to be something I can talk about and not feel like it’s something bad. I can’t let it define me. With that in mind…

I’m a dreamer. What type are you?

This world can be rough, crazy and cruel. There are things that can happen to you, but no matter what you have to keep plugging along.

So I dream.

  • I dream of traveling.
  • I dream of a world without cancer.
  • I dream of a perfect pint of Guinness, poured for me at an amazing Irish Pub.
  • I dream of lottery wins and how I would try and help more people than just myself.
  • I dream of happiness for friends, family and people I’ve met for brief moments.
  • I dream of no war and politicians who actually care about the people (yes, I said it).
  • I dream of pizza.
  • I dream of a cup of hot chocolate as I look over a pristine winter scene.
  • I dream of geocaches that show creativity, imagination and quality.
  • I dream of equality in all mankind.
  • I dream of loved ones lost, who I hope will one day be seen again.
  • I dream of softball championships.
  • I dream photography.
  • I dream of brewing an amazing beer.
  • I dream of being in better shape.
  • I dream of completing goals I set when I started seeing a diabetes educator.
  • I dream of a month of perfect readings on my glucometer.
  • I dream of a life without diabetes.

The last one, of course, is something that might never happen. But the truth is, it can’t – and won’t – define who I am. I will live my life as full as possible. I can still do what I want, including going out for a great dinner. I just have to know limitations and know what things do to my body.

Acceptance has made it easier for me to start getting things in better control, too. So has technology – my glucometer is hooked up with my iPhone, so I can see trends and such in my blood sugar. I am determined that I won’t let this define or beat me.

No matter frustrations of what things do to me. Or of a spike here and there that doesn’t make sense. Or whatever curve is thrown at me. It won’t define or beat me.

And I’ll continue to dream because it’s who I am.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Even with the rain, Atlantic City boardwalk is a fun stroll

Nov 18

I’m not much of a gambler.

I can go to a Casino and play the slots for a bit. I especially like strolling around on the floor and watching others play card games or other casino games because it’s something I don’t have the ability to do well. It’s truly amazing how well people know the game of blackjack and others like it.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

I don’t do poker nights. I’ve gotten completely out of fantasy sports and I rarely, if ever, bet.

There’s no real reason behind all of this, but I’m just not a gambler. The most I do is the occasional lottery ticket and that is done not as a gamble, but because I am a massive daydreamer.

But on a recent trip to the Jersey Shore, I had planned to go to Atlantic City for a photo walk. Well, with weather a little iffy, the walk leader moved the walk to the following day. The problem there? It’s a one day worldwide photo walk event, the weather wasn’t that bad (it stopped raining around 2 p.m., the walk was at 4), and I was sitting in the parking lot when the e-mail arrived.

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy.

On the AC Boardwalk.

On the AC Boardwalk.

However, I had already paid for parking and I was there, so I should do something, right? I decided to leave my camera behind and head to take a peek inside some casinos and then walk the boardwalk on my own. I went with the iPhone figuring I could get some images that way and just kind of do my thing.

Turns out it was a fun way to spend an afternoon.

The casinos were rather entertaining. From the older ladies with the bright pink lipstick parked at the slots (or hovering around others to see when they’d leave a specific one), to the smoke wafting in certain parts, this was the kind of casino you see in the movies. I visited two that day – Resorts and Trump Taj Mahal.

I didn’t do much in regard to gambling. I played some slots and then hung out at one where my $20 lasted about an hour before I lost it all. In the end, it was worth the money because it entertained me for a while.

Time to play some slots!

Time to play some slots!

It seems like photography isn’t such a no-no inside the casinos anymore, either. I took a few snaps with my phone, but I saw somebody else with a DSLR who was snapping photos with a flash and all. I thought that was interesting.

After spending a bit of time in the casinos, I took to the boardwalk. I snapped a bunch of photos on this drizzly fall day. There were still plenty of people on the boardwalk that day, so I had the chance to do some people watching. A bunch of guys walked by discussing the night of gambking and debauchery they had planned. People were being pushed around in covered carts. Vendors were trying to get people to come in and spend money.

Basically, just what you would think about a boardwalk.

Have a seat and people watch.

Have a seat and people watch.

I strolled a good portion of it that day, and I saw some of the closed casinos. As a photographer, I’d love to get into one of those and take photos. But from the outside, even, it’s sad to see anything close, especially a place that generates that kind of revenue and employs so many people.

Going in and out of the shops or just peeking at things was enjoyable, too. So many different types of people were there. The beach is easily accessed, too. I

I also spent some time at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, but I’m going to save that post for a different day.

In the end, I did my own photo walk, albeit with the iPhone. I had the chance to see many different aspects of that area of Atlantic City, as well as a couple other areas I drove around before and after being at the boardwalk. I’d go back again to explore, but definitely on a day with more people and more sun

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One year later: Still smiling

Nov 17

One year later, I’m still smiling.

Nov. 14, 2013 was a massively huge day for me. It was a day where a more than two-year nightmare ended for me.

It was a day when my unemployment ended.

I’ve documented my two-plus years on this blog more than once. In fact, this blog was a massive help for me during that span. It gave me a creative outlet and a way to continue to write. But the road was long. I didn’t get interviews, and those where I did get them, I felt like things were already stacked against me.

Heck, I couldn’t even get interviewed at some of the big box chain stores. Imagine that?

Then my current job came along. Everything happened fast. There was the interview and the next day an offer. I accepted, of course. And a few days later, I started.

Just like that.

I consider myself lucky to have gotten into this position. The service I am part of is growing and we actually just hired another person. Hopefully that’s a sign of more and more growth.

As for me, I’ve grown professionally and personally over the last year. I smile more. I truly do feel like I found something that was waiting for me. And I’ve learned. Oh, how I’ve learned.

I work in the communications field, as many of you know. But though I dabbled in some PR, my background has been, for the most part, newspaper journalism. And I was pretty good at it, too. I’m not always a “self-back patter” but I won several awards and had grown so much over a seven-year stay at a daily newspaper.

But the reality is, newspapers are not what they once were. Daily papers get thinner, circulations are shrinking – almost as fast as paychecks – and it’s not a profession that it once was. I still read newspapers because it’s something I always believed in. But the amount of errors on a daily basis in many (typos, headlines wrong, bad information, etc.) makes me cringe. Many newspapers don’t keep up with the times and technology, either, which then makes them “yesterday’s news.”

Times are a changing, that’s for sure.

And, now, I’m on the opposite end. I’m flipped. I’m in the PR/communications side of things. I work with websites and social media and releases on a regular basis. PR is no longer just about feeding a newspaper or radio station a story. It’s about drawing readers and others to your media sites. It’s about showing the story, not necessarily digging for other things.

And I have loved it.

I’ve learned many things over this year, from budgets to educational battles, to working on events and making many contacts in the community or political world. You really run the gamut. All the while, I still believe in working with the traditional news sources and getting them information they need.

This past Friday was the one-year anniversary of being offered (and accepting) the job. I started a year ago tomorrow. I was nervous, excited and everything else in between. Since then, I’ve grown and will continue to grow.

It’s amazing what happens when you land on your feet in a place where you feel you are part of something special. I am excited with the future and what it will bring. I love where I am in life, and the past will never destroy me as it made me realize many things I will use for the rest of my career – and life.

One year ago, things changed – for the better. I’m a better person for it all, too, as I now don’t take things for granted. It can end in a moment and without you ever having a clue it was coming.

Today, take a deep breath wherever you are. Smile. Realize the world could be much worse. Take a moment to look around. Being alive is a gift in itself, so always keep that in mind.

For a couple of the posts I had about my unemployment run and finding a job, finally, follow the links below:

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Soundless Sunday: Nov. 16

Nov 16

“If the boy and girl walk off into the sunset hand-in-hand in the last scene, it adds 10 million to the box office.”

– George Lucas

Nov 16

Soundless Sunday is a weekly feature where I’ll try and feature a favorite quote and a photo that I’ve taken. Enjoy life — it’s the only way to go!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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