Run, don’t walk PAST Hong Kong House, Atlantic City, NJ or suffer The Emperor’s Revenge

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 pm by admin

After we checked in to our hotel this afternoon, we were very hungry so we went out for lunch. The first place we found that we could both agree on – and our hunger was getting the better of us – was a Chinese restaurant called Hong Kong House at 1330 Pacific Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ.

Our first clues of the Emperor’s impending wrath should have been the cracked glass door we walked through to enter the restaurant, the lack of patrons in the restaurant, and the cracked glass table tops we passed as we searched for a “hostess.” Our next clue should have been the brown, sticky, greasy residue on the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle on our table, and I should have suspected when I pulled my chair into the table as I sat down only to come up with a gooey brown slime on my hand, and also when I spooned through my serving of Won Ton soup and discovered one of the won tons looked as if it had been re-served from a left over WonTon from the day before that had sat out on a counter over night so that once side become dried, cracked, discolored, and mealy.

Our final clue of our time to come was when we had both eaten less than half of our entrees, and almost simultaneously, pushed our plates away. Even our remaining hunger was not enough to entice us to continue with the meal. By the way, the first ingredient listed on the menu for my entree was shrimp. There were no shrimp in my entree. I’ll give the sullen, dragging her feet waitress credit though, she did reduce our bill by a few dollars when I told her about the absence of shrimp.

After lunch, our stomachs laden with agita, we stopped back to the hotel to change and headed to the beach. When we reached the boardwalk I looked in a few shops for a pair of disposable beach shoes so as not to ruin my dockers. I realized that as we moved from one shop to the next, the farther we moved down the boardwalk and away from the entrance to the beach, the lower the prices became in the shops for the exact same items. I found a pair of plastic sandals for $6.99 and when I went to pay, the shopkeeper charged me $5.00. Post season prices are great!

We walked down to the beach and found a spot well above the waterline where put down our blanket. Daniel headed right for the water, and I walked through the remnants of the waves as they reached their limit on the beach hunting for shells.

Ever since I watched the movie “Jaws” in Ocean City, NJ in 1975 when I was in my mid-teens, I’ve gone swimming in the ocean only once. I would have landed in the lap of the man sitting behind me in the theater as I back-peddled out of my seat when the shark was eating Robert Shaw, had he not thrown his hands up to stop me and yelled, “Whoa Buddy!” The summer between 1975 and now that I did go swimming in the ocean was just before syringes and medical debris washed up on the Jersey Shore. Between the intermittent bacterial count scares over the past dozen years, Stephen Speilberg and Peter Benchley’s creation, and the syringes, I haven’t been in Atlantic water since.

Daniel body surfed for nearly 2 hours while I picked through broken shells, counted waves, seagulls, and pigeons, and took a brief nap – my heavy stomach and agita was getting the better of me. We headed back to the hotel, Daniel with his elbows, knees, and wrists scraped raw from broken shells laying on the ocean floor, with 2 shells each in tow, and not a moment too soon.

We should have paid more attention to the clues we were given before we sat down for lunch. We’re both now paying for it big time. I’m afraid to leave the room, even to go to the lobby. It’s too far from the bathroom.

Oh, by the way, I should have checked the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority web site, they don’t list Hong Kong House as a recommended place to eat.


Vacation 2009!

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:45 am by admin

That Damn is back!

Damn was on the pond this morning at 6:45 when I went out to feed the fish. I yelled so loud, I think I woke up the entire neighborhood. Daniel came running out thinking I had somehow injured myself. The damn bird was perched on the 20′ PVC pipe I had put across the pond to hold up landscaping fabric – to hide the pond from Damn – from dipping into the water. Instead of using the fabric, I had settled for the “cats cradle” arrangement of twine and never took the pipe off. That damn bird found a 6 foot opening in the twine – which is what they need for their wingspan. I haven’t seen the damn thing in over a week and thought I had won the war – little did I know.

So at 7:00 this morning, Daniel & I were cutting 25 foot lengths of black landscape fabric and stretching it across the pond as we tried to find rocks big enough to anchor it with. I ended up having to pull up some of the landscaping rocks I have around the pond edge. By 7:30 we were both exhausted, muddy, cranky, and we hadn’t even packed for the shore yet. The pond now looks like the worst gift wrapped package you’ve ever seen, but I hope it will do the trick.

If I ever do catch that Damn Heron, I’m going to snap off its neck, drive a stake through its skull, and plant the stake in the ground as a trophy for me and a warning to other Heron. TO HELL WITH THE LAW!

Now that that’s out of my system…

Off to Atlantic City!



Rolling off the presses

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:00 pm by admin

Early this afternoon, after a little over 12 hours of editing during the past two days, and after we completed the last “Final” edit – I think there were actually five of these – I printed and assembled the first 12 copies of Issue 2 of Touch: The Journal of Healing, September 2009. Have I told you I love my new paper cutter? On Thursday and Friday I was able to finish 35 copies of Issue 1.

Tomorrow we’re going for a short vacation to the Jersey Shore.

The production run of Issue 1 taught me a few lessons.

1. I now know that it takes about the same amount of time to fold and stack a copy of the journal before fastening and trimming as it does for the printer to complete the two-sided sheets for a single copy.

2. The printed sheets of cover stock and the page body require a minimum of one hour to relax and uncurl enough from the printing process before they can be assembled into a book.

3. I now know that when the printer is doing a run of cover sheets, I should not leave the printer unattended – or – have the paper shredder sitting in front of the output tray and turned on. The cover stock is thick and made of 67 lb paper, and once it finishes printing, it has a tendency to push the sheet that printed before it out of the output tray and down onto the auxiliary input paper tray to be pulled back in for a second printing causing a paper jam – or – right into the mouth of the paper shredder, which through its ingenious design of a paper sensor, automatically turns on and makes confetti out of the cover.

4. Once I get a rhythm going, I’m able to fold, stack, fasten, and trim 10 copies of a 36 page book in 90 minutes.

5. You can develop calluses on your fingers in places you never had calluses before.

6. Duplex, wireless, network printing is the coolest thing.

7. I love this business. It’s just so cool to see poet’s words and a photographer’s images lie on pages within a printed book.



Planning a Vacation

Posted in Touch: The Journal of Healing at 11:55 pm by admin

Daniel started his vacation today, although I think it would be more correct to say it started when he got home from work last evening. I spent this afternoon filling another order we received today for more copies of Issue 1 of Touch. I’m very pleased with the appearance and feel of our publication. The cover stock and paper we’ve chosen to use in the printing and assembly process is of a nice weight and texture which gives the books a degree of quality I haven’t seen in many of the chapbooks I’ve purchased over the past two years. I also purchased a business class paper cutter a few weeks ago. It has allowed me to produce exceptionally clean and uniform edges, something I was unable to achieve with the small Fiskars wheel paper cutter I had used in the past on smaller print projects. Even though the Fiskars is rated at a maximum of 10 sheets per cut, I haven’t been able to cut more than 8 sheets of 20 lb paper at a time. We’re using 67 lb cover stock and 24 lb 100% recycled paper for the body pages. Both Issue 1 and 2 have a total equivalent of just over 32 sheets of 20 lb paper, and I can easily cut up to 11 books at a time with the new cutter.

After dinner, we spent the evening discussing a vacation while we looked for a place to go. Daniel’s priority for a location was the Atlantic coast with a beach so he could swim in the ocean. My priority was a hot tub and a high speed internet connection. Both of us surfed the web on our computers as we tried to decide on a town to visit that would accommodate us both. After a few hours we settled on Atlantic City, NJ. It’s only a few hours away and the forecast is for temperatures similar to those of home. After I called the hotel to clarify a few of their amenities, Daniel confirmed the reservation. He’s really looking forward to this time away to have some fun in the sun and surf.



The Lives You Touch Publications

Posted in Poetry, The Lives You Touch Publications, Touch: The Journal of Healing at 11:00 pm by admin

Today we officially began our print publication business, The Lives You Touch Publications, with our first printed copy of Issue 1 of Touch: The Journal of Healing. We are printing copies for the contributors to Issue 1 as a way to thank them for helping us to get started, and more copies for the orders we’ve received for this issue from other folks. Next we’ll begin to print Issue 2 of Touch. Both issues are for sale on the website of the print journal.



Damn has flown the coop?

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:10 pm by admin

Let’s hope so. I haven’t seen him since the 5th and there are no fish missing or new scales on the bottom of the pond or settling chamber. It’s a real PIA getting to the pond to feed the fish and clean leaves off the net – yes the leaves have begun to fall here. We’ve had a few very cool nights and the trees are getting a jump on autumn.

The young goldfish – formerly fry – are growing like crazy. I think they’ve added 1/2 inch in length during the past week. I’ve been feeding them 2 or 3 times a day to bulk them up for the winter. I’ve counted 6 shubunkin’s so far. There’s also about a dozen black comets who will begin to develop their orange color next spring.

I’m still a little worried about Damn though.



Damn, that Heron is back!

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:00 pm by admin

Over the past 48 hours, Damn, the Heron appeared less and less until finally over the past full day, I didn’t see him, but…

Occasionally we’d hear cars beep their horns or people whistling from their car windows as they drove up and down the street. We thought it might be someone who knew us or someone looking for a lost dog. We were wrong. At one point today, I was on the porch when a car slowed down to a near stop right in front of the house. People were talking loudly and pointing at something, when I saw him move. Damn Heron was peering in through the hedge at the pond so I ran out and scared him away. Secretly I had hoped he would take flight just as a car passed by and the car would hit Damn Heron and kill him. I’ve had dreams about catching him and impaling him on a stake as a trophy and a warning to other damn Heron not to be confused with Damn the Heron. I know this would be illegal, but I can dream can’t I?



Damn is now a proper name!

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:00 pm by admin

Not to belabor this story…

Over a 24 hour period, Damn, the Heron – I figure if I just write Damn with a capital D, as in a proper name from now on, you’ll know who I’m writing about and it will require less typing, moved to a neighbors roof, then he – I’ve decided Damn is male – seems to have disappear. I haven’t seen him today. In the interim, I’ve created a cat’s cradle kind of contraption over the pond using a huge ball of twine I had saved from the last visit from a Heron. The twine is stretched from the house to the fence, from trees to shrubs and everywhere in-between. Each line of twine is less than 5 feet apart. With a wingspan of 6 feet, the birds won’t land or approach an area to feet that doesn’t have at least a 6 foot opening for their escape, because their wings will get caught and they may not be able to take flight quickly.



The Blue Heron cometh – to Touch: The Journal of Healing

Posted in Touch: The Journal of Healing at 11:45 pm by admin

Wow, it’s been 6 months since I posted here!

Much has happened in the past 6 months. Not only did our launch of Touch: The Journal of Healing go well in May of this year, it was even better than we had hoped for. We actually received over 120 submissions in the three categories we publish, poetry, prose, and graphics. From all of these we published 25 pieces created by other writers and photographers. We also dedicated the journal to a professional colleague of mine.

Just a few minutes ago, I uploaded issue 2 of Touch. This issue features many new poets as well as several who were published in issue 1.

At this point you might be scratching your head as you wonder what in the world a Blue Heron has to do with Touch: The Journal of Healing. Several days ago I found the bird control netting that I use to keep the koi and goldfish in the pond and the birds – i.e. ducks & geese out – laying in the water. We have a bullfrog who has taken up residence at the pond. He or she has appeared every spring for the past few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the frog actually stays at the pond over the winter because several years ago I found one half frozen at the bottom of the settling chamber when I was cleaning out the sediment before I closed the pond for the season several years back. On occasion I will find him/her hopping across the net. This causes the net to be pulled down into the water, and it happens most often in the evening hours when the frog comes out to feed. The following morning I’ll find the frog sitting on the net sort of wading, but I’ve had this subtle nagging in the back of my mind about a Blue Heron. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve seen a Heron at the pond, and there had been no evidence of one, but I still had this nagging suspicion.

This morning, my nagging suspicion turned into my worst nightmare. At 8:30 AM I went out to the pond to feed the fish and there standing at the edge of the settling chamber – which has no net – was a friggin’ Blue Heron. As soon as I opened the door, the bird took to flight, but it was too late. If you’ve ever seen one of these things in flight up close, you’ll be reminded of a Pterodactyl. As I approached the pond, there on the bottom of the chamber were fish scales. The weren’t big enough to have come from a koi, but I counted the koi anyway. The damn bird got goldfish.

A few goldfish wash over the spillway between the pond and settling chamber from the spring to late summer whenever they spawn. I leave a few of them in the settling chamber to eat the filamentous algae that grows abundantly and the settling chamber is also where the goldfish fry (babies) grow into adolescence. At no time have I found a Heron at the pond of seen any evidence of one during this year. So during the past two weeks while we’ve been working to get issue 2 of Touch online, one of these damn birds has been visiting.

All day today, this bird harassed the pond. Whenever I’d see it approach the pond. I’d run out to scare it off. Sometime this afternoon, it seemed to come straight down from the sky before I chased it away, so I left the front door open so as not to alarm it for the next encounter and about 15 minutes later I saw it again. After I chased it away, I waited under the porch roof for about five minutes then slowly walked out to the yard as I looked up at the house roof. Sure enough, the damn bird was perched on the front peak of the roof. Here I was blaming the frog for sitting on the bird control netting. Heron usually feed most aggressively at dawn and dusk, so every 30 minutes or so I would go out into the yard to chase it away. After dusk, it didn’t return.