The last rose of summer

_2000045September 19, 2014 – Whenever someone doesn’t look quite right, my mother will say they look like the last rose of summer. It is not quite a compliment since the last rose of summer, the one that hung around through all the heat and humidity, looks withered and parched. On the positive side, however, it shows longevity, strength and determination.

The expression comes from a poem by Irish poet Thomas Moore, who wrote “The Last Rose of Summer” in 1805. It begins, “Tis the last rose of summer, left blooming alone; All her lovely companions are faded and gone…”

This weekend is the last of summer, and the one that begins my anticipated my summer vacation. I’ll be heading to the New Jersey beaches, which often seem lovelier in September when the crowds have gone, and those remaining, those true last roses of summer, try to squeeze every ounce out of the season before autumn sets in.

See you at the beach

September 15, 2014 — For the past 12 years, my family has gathered at a New Jersey beach on a Saturday in September to honor two uncles who have passed. The weather is usually spectacular, but if the rain clouds try to dampen our day as they did on Saturday, we meet anyway because it’s tradition. This year, a four-legged friend joined us, too.

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Perhaps the words of my cousin say it best:

“Although your physical presence is out of reach,
that will never stop us from meeting at the beach.
In loving memory of all the lives you’ve touched,
our time moves on and you’re missed so much.
We gather together to enjoy each other,
Mothers, sons, sisters and brothers.
Aunts, uncles, and cousins too,
this day is set to celebrate you.
So let us continue our journey to the beach,
until that day we rest in peace.”

- Tom Wolfinger

The National Day of Encouragement

downloadSeptember 12, 2014 – Do something awesome today. Come on, you can do it!

That is my encouraging message to you in honor of the National Day of Encouragement, an event celebrated each September 12 since 2007.

When I first heard about the National Day of Encouragement, I disregarded it, believing it is another one of those meaningless holidays invented to make every day seem important. Then I realized that every day is important, and in this crazy world, you can never have enough encouragement.

Perhaps Andrew Baker, the organizer of the National Day of Encouragement and executive director of The Encouragement Foundation, says it best.

“The National Day of Encouragement is about inspiring Americans to make deliberate words and acts of encouragement a part of this day first, and then a part of every day of their lives.”

There is not too much information available on the Internet regarding the National Day of Encouragement, or The Encouragement Foundation, but it is an effort that requires little direction. Encourage others by your words and actions, and be positive. It is that simple.

Stumped to find something awesome to do today? Just smile. Nothing encourages people more than a friendly face.

The summer of lunar events

September 10, 2014Supermoon. It’s a new term I learned this summer, and a lunar event that gave me my first success with moon shots.

The summer of 2014 gave us three of these amazing moons, in July, August, and September. They are supermoons because they are bigger, brighter, and closer to the earth than a typical full moon.

The first supermoon occurred on Saturday, July 12. Driving home from my aunt’s birthday party about 8:30 that evening, we witnessed a spectacular moon that was closer than I had ever noticed before. When I got home, I went right to the Internet and discovered that this particular moon was a supermoon.

I regret not pulling over and taking a photo of that first supermoon. However, I was ready for the next two. This shot, taken about 9 p.m. on Sunday, August 10, happened before the moon was too far away.

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Monday’s supermoon, on September 8 was shot a little later, about 10 p.m. My close up isn’t as vibrant as the August shot, but the glow around the moon adds a nice touch. Monday’s moon was also 2014’s harvest moon, the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox.

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The candid photo

September 8, 2014 — Yesterday I attended the wedding of my good friend’s daughter, an event that provided an opportunity to practice my candid photo skills.

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The groom and his best man anxiously wait for the bride

 

Getting ready for the walk down the aisle

Getting ready for the walk down the aisle

I do!

I do!

Presenting the happy couple

Presenting the happy couple

Happy tears from the sister of the bride

Happy tears from the sister of the bride

Best wishes for the bride in the receiving line

Best wishes for the bride in the receiving line

 

Congratulations Lauren & Kenny!

The unusual world of computer gaming

downloadSeptember 5, 2014 – Are you one of those computer gaming addicts?

It’s not something I share a history with, except for a little Super Mario Brothers on the old Nintendo 64 system when my son would let me play back in the early 90s. Years later I found the defunct and much missed “Boxerjam” platform online that I could lose a few hours to here and there.

Facebook opened a Pandora’s Box for the enthusiastic gamer, offering such gems as Farmville and Pet Rescue, although I fail to see the fun in building virtual farms and planting virtual crops. I suppose that’s why there is a choice of chocolate, vanilla, and bubblegum ice cream.

I also went through a short phase and played (free) online casino games on Facebook, but I quickly lost interest. My parents, however, continue to amuse themselves with those games, just as they do with actual casinos in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The first Facebook game to hold my interest was Angry Birds. Then came Words with Friends, and as a Scrabble fan, it hooked me immediately. It’s the one game I continue to play today.

I was late to the Candy Crush Saga party, and didn’t stay very long before I began to get frustrated by chocolate lakes and sugar bombs that interfered with my play. I stopped at level 100 (out of almost 1,000) a few months ago after convincing myself that the game is truly evil.

My latest interest, Quiz Up, is an entertaining multiple choice question game that you can play with friends or strangers. I play it on my phone to keep me occupied when I am waiting in line, for example, or am sitting in a conference room waiting for the meeting to begin. I like Quiz Up because I enjoy trivia games (a family tradition after holiday dinners), it offers a variety of interesting categories (from The Beatles to U.S. Law), and you can finish a game in about two minutes.

Here is a list of the most popular Facebook apps/games as of March 2014, which sadly shows that Candy Crush continues to rule. Compare that list to the most popular iphone games as of July 2014, where there is nary a Candy Crush Saga in sight.

These types of games barely scratch the surface of the computer gaming world, so I still can’t refer to myself as a gamer, but I demand extra credit for remembering Pong, the first game to be played on your television. It consisted of two straight white lines that pushed a white dot back and forth on a black screen. We thought that was simply amazing.