Friday, July 25, 2014

Baseball, summer, cars, family, and social media friends

I wrote two of my favorite online articles about timeless moments and the meaningful memories that were developed through those experiences. Kind social media responses during the past three years have helped these two stories to grow exponentially.

Loyal 'Insight' readers, or newcomers to this digital space, will understand the importance of each piece as the words in each feature flow...


Could One Baseball Shatter the Summer?


One summer, in the early 1980s, my family and I traveled to the shore. The home my Mom, two Aunts, cousin Chris and I rented annually was two blocks from the ocean in New Jersey.
The alley
Generally, Chris and I would spend some idle time playing catch in an alley that was cemented between our house and another.
There was a window located a number of feet above where Chris crouched to assume the role of Philadelphia Phillies catcher Bob Boone. I was, of course, the right-handed Steve Carlton.
My fastball was good for a boy my size, but it did occasionally get away from me. Like Lefty, I should have used my slider more.
That historic day one of my heaters left my hand and sailed far above my cousin's mitt. He never had a chance to catch it.
Shiny evidence
The ball missed the wood and crashed right through that window. It made such a loud noise that people from a number of surrounding homes came out to see what had happened.
With gloves in hand and shiny evidence on the ground, there was no wiggle room for creative explanation.
My Mom came out and quickly eased the tension by simply saying that the glass could easily be repaired. The next day it was and only cost a few weeks of our combined allowances.
Positive example 

Her example often taught me how to respond to life's unexpected situations and to other people's overreactions.
Vacations often create good memories. Because of my Mom's personality, the image and sound of that window breaking actually became one of ours.

My First Car was an All-time Classic


My dad and I bought a car for $75 on a bitterly cold December day in 1985. The 4-door, hard top, is still the best investment that we ever made.


A few years later, we transplanted the engine of our 1966 Plymouth Valiant into the body of the 1966 Dodge Dart that we had purchased. That action set me up with a reliable, very inexpensive, set of wheels for many years to come.
I drove the Dart to high school, on dates and took it with me to my first job out of college when I worked for the Philadelphia Phillies minor league team in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Engine
This dandy of a car had a Slant Six, 101 horsepower, engine. It ran for 253,000 smooth miles between 1966 and 2001, averaging approximately 16 miles per gallon.
Despite having rear-wheel drive, this warrior would make it through snow storms due to its weight and sheer inner determination.
In its later years it also started to burn some oil, but always kept chugging along.
Air conditioning and AM radio
The car came standard with the four-fifty-five air-conditioning that many vehicles of that era had. When you were on highway and were going fifty-five miles an hour with the windows down, the outside air cooled the inside of the car excellently.
It had an AM, push-button, radio that worked for many years. One day, some neighborhood kids were playing by the car and broke the antenna off. No problem, my Dad and I just ran the wire inside the vehicle and attached the antenna to the top of the dash. It continued to play like a charm.
Upgrades
The front and back seats were both in bench style. They wore out over time and we had them reupholstered.
We had shoulder belts installed, as only lap belts were included during the era when that car was assembled.
Some parts, like the radiator and master cylinder lasted for decades. But, eventually they had to be replaced.
Local junkyards served as good sources of inexpensive parts that lasted for the life of the car after they were installed.
Repaint
One night I backed into a short, dark brown metal pole that was in a restaurant's parking lot. The minor bump slightly dented my rear fender. That incident spurred a re-paint process which transformed the Dart from a period color of blue to a classic white.
My dad's thought process was exactly on the mark, as that shade was always cool to the touch during every hot summer. The change, along with the installation of a tinted front windshield, noticeably reduced the inside temperature of the car.
To the end
The Dart's basic components remained fine throughout it's life. Eventually, body rust caused the suspension weaken.
The cost of repairing the suspension spelled the end of this beloved vehicle. So, the car was retired in May, 2001.
Having come off the assembly line in the fall of 1965, our old friend lived for nearly thirty-six solid years.
Logic verses emotion
This car served as modest transportation for a younger person like myself. Inexpensive possessions of any type are generally ideal for people of any means.
My 1966 Dodge Dart was obviously no show piece and it wasn't meant to be. I found that people who shared a grounded view of the world responded favorably to it. Those who were shallow often exhibited opposite reactions.
People's comments about your car, or about any possession that you own, are always reflective of their inner egos.
I loved the Dart because of its connection to my dad. It represented one element of our always good relationship. That 1966 Dodge Dart was real, just like us.

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Let's connect on Twitter @SeanyOB, through Facebook, or on LinkedInVisit my Examiner Contributor Page.

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My illustrated children's book: Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile officially became a Top 10 Amazon best-seller as of January 29, 2014. The print and ebook editions were initially released in August, 2014.

Children's Alopecia Project

50% of all proceeds from the sale of our book (in both print and ebook forms) are being donated to the Children's Alopecia Project (CAP).

What a ride

This incredible and unexpected ride began in the spring of 2011. By August 2013, the book was published by the Children's Alopecia Project in print form. We have been very pleased with sales of that edition. Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to purchase the printed book directly from CAP.

I published a special ebook edition within weeks of the print book release. After starting in the tens of thousands (in terms of Amazon's children's book rankings), Maddie broke into the Top 50 just prior to Christmas. It climbed through the 30s and settled in the upper 20s before breaking into the Top 10.  

Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to see a 'free-view' of the special ebook edition. I've included extra bonus features in this version that provide background information, extra photos, and illustrations. Each item helps to tell the complete story of this book's birth. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here's a link to this great (print and online) article that the Reading Eagle recently published about our story Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile: Book chronicles Wyomissing teen's journey since being diagnosed with alopecia

Thank you to Stacey Stauffer (Fox 29 Philadelphia). She interviewed Madison Woytovich, her parents (Jeff and Betsy Woytovich) and me about the latest chapter in this inspiring story. Here's a video link to Stacey's wonderful feature. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amazon.com is the number 1 online publishing platform in the world. That's why I used it to publish my first ebookFast Fiction and Other Stuff.
This mini-tome is a collection of stories and poems for readers who don't take themselves too seriously. I hope that you enjoy it and am always interested in your feedback. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Five Traits Old School Philadelphia Flyers Fans Possess


The Philadelphia Flyers were born through National Hockey League expansion in 1967. Ed Snider, founder and team chairman, brought hockey to a city that was set to soon celebrate a Stanley Cup Championship and permanently change the culture of sports throughout that region.

Here are five traits that are shared by all old school Flyers fans:

#5: Honoring heroes

You know that you are an old school Flyers fan if you wore an all-black mesh jersey to your actual school the day after beloved goaltender Pelle Lindbergh's spirit was released into that dark 1985 fall sky.
The promise Bernie Parent's protege showed by winning the Vezina trophy, for his efforts in the 1984-85 season, seemed to clearly foreshadow the coming of a third Cup.
The 26-year-old achieved what only the greats do, as no Flyers fan needs to ask who 'Pelle' was, is and will always be.

#4: Appreciating historical landmarks

Gene Hart would often reference an undocumented medical condition during his classic broadcasts. That health care concern involved opposing players who notoriously came down with the "Philly flu" when their team was scheduled to play at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.
That once world class sports showplace hosted the Boston Bruins, during the team's first Stanley Cup championship-winning game, on an incredible May day in 1974. It then lived on through the new millennium.
Whenever you walk past the spot where it used to be, it's image reappears in your peripheral vision. More than a memory, this legend has never truly died. Instead, it exists on another plane that only people like Bobby Clarke and Flyers fans remain allowed to see.

#3: Creating and maintaining proper connections

One treasured moment of childhood would obviously be standing in a massive department store line, on a cold Saturday morning, so that you could actually meet Dave Schultz.
Yes, you pondered whether the unusual unchained iced melody that was playing repeatedly on the loudspeaker was actually meant to sooth that savage beast. But, when he signed the photo of himself and smiled at you, you half-considered asking him to come to your school so that he could help to 'convert' that New York Rangers fan who had invaded your fifth grade classroom.

#2: Accepting reality and remaining vigilant

May 28, 1987 was the closest that the Flyers have gotten to reclaiming the elusive Silver Chalice. Some were in the building on that date, while others watched penultimate history on television or listened through an AM radio signal.
The event being noted was the Flyers comeback from a 2-0 deficit against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. On that night in South Philadelphia, J. J. Daigneault somehow appeared at the blue line, raised his stick and slapped a puck that Grant Fuhr couldn't stop. That third goal gave over 19,000 members of the Flyers roster a 3-2 lead that only twenty Oilers had no shot of then winning.
A greatly reduced Flyers squad traveled to face Edmonton on their home ice three days later in Game 7.

#1: Understanding the importance of family

The men who put on those Flyers emblems are nothing short of family. The 1970s and 1980s weren't just eras. They represent the origin and development of a franchise that has continued to elicit guttural emotion like few other sports franchises around the world have ever been able to replicate.

Overtime: Of course, there are far more than five traits of old school Flyers fans. Some were privileged to attend those monumental Stanley Cup games in the mid-1970s. They were people who knew how to have a party and throw a parade.
Others believe that the victory over the Soviet Union's Central Red Army team, in Super Series '76, helped to end Communism. They understand the importance of true patriotism. (Some non-Flyers fans actually believe that last line was meant seriously.)
Then, there were those who took part in the 1979-80 season's 35-game unbeaten streak. They fully grasp the value of unexplainable orange and black magic.
With whatever your five traits are, these points simply open the debate. Since we are addressing Philadelphia hockey fans, maybe this list actually drops the gloves and starts the fight. One can only hope.

(Yahoo Sports originally published my article "Five Traits Old School Philadelphia Flyers Fans Possess" on 2-27-2012.)

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Let's connect on Twitter @SeanyOB, through Facebook, or on LinkedInVisit my Examiner Contributor Page.

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My illustrated children's book: Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile officially became a Top 10 Amazon best-seller as of January 29, 2014. The print and ebook editions were initially released in August, 2014.

Children's Alopecia Project

50% of all proceeds from the sale of our book (in both print and ebook forms) are being donated to the Children's Alopecia Project (CAP).

What a ride

This incredible and unexpected ride began in the spring of 2011. By August 2013, the book was published by the Children's Alopecia Project in print form. We have been very pleased with sales of that edition. Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to purchase the printed book directly from CAP.

I published a special ebook edition within weeks of the print book release. After starting in the tens of thousands (in terms of Amazon's children's book rankings), Maddie broke into the Top 50 just prior to Christmas. It climbed through the 30s and settled in the upper 20s before breaking into the Top 10.  

Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to see a 'free-view' of the special ebook edition. I've included extra bonus features in this version that provide background information, extra photos, and illustrations. Each item helps to tell the complete story of this book's birth. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here's a link to this great (print and online) article that the Reading Eagle recently published about our story Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile: Book chronicles Wyomissing teen's journey since being diagnosed with alopecia

Thank you to Stacey Stauffer (Fox 29 Philadelphia). She interviewed Madison Woytovich, her parents (Jeff and Betsy Woytovich) and me about the latest chapter in this inspiring story. Here's a video link to Stacey's wonderful feature. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amazon.com is the number 1 online publishing platform in the world. That's why I used it to publish my first ebookFast Fiction and Other Stuff.
This mini-tome is a collection of stories and poems for readers who don't take themselves too seriously. I hope that you enjoy it and am always interested in your feedback. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top-rated articles and social media friends

Let's connect on Twitter @SeanyOB, through Facebook, or on LinkedInVisit my Examiner Contributor Page.


Most recent post:

I wrote two of my favorite online articles about timeless moments and the meaningful memories that were developed through those experiences. Kind social media response and sharing during the past three years have helped these two stories to grow exponentially.

Loyal 'Insight' readers, or newcomers to this digital space, will understand the importance of each piece as the words in each feature flow...


One summer, in the early 1980s, my family and I traveled to the shore. The home my Mom, two Aunts, cousin Chris and I rented annually was two blocks from the ocean in New Jersey.
The alley
Generally, Chris and I would spend some idle time playing catch in an alley that was cemented between our house and another.
There was a window located a number of feet above where Chris crouched to assume the role of Philadelphia Phillies catcher Bob Boone. I was, of course, the right-handed Steve Carlton.
My fastball was good for a boy my size, but it did occasionally get away from me. Like Lefty, I should have used my slider more.
That historic day one of my heaters left my hand and sailed far above my cousin's mitt. He never had a chance to catch it.
Shiny evidence
The ball missed the wood and crashed right through that window. It made such a loud noise that people from a number of surrounding homes came out to see what had happened.
With gloves in hand and shiny evidence on the ground, there was no wiggle room for creative explanation.
My Mom came out and quickly eased the tension by simply saying that the glass could easily be repaired. The next day it was and only cost a few weeks of our combined allowances.
Positive example 
Her example often taught me how to respond to life's unexpected situations and to other people's overreactions.
Vacations often create good memories. Because of my Mom's personality, the image and sound of that window breaking actually became one of ours.

My dad and I bought a car for $75 on a bitterly cold December day in 1985. The 4-door, hard top, is still the best investment that we ever made.

A few years later, we transplanted the engine of our 1966 Plymouth Valiant into the body of the 1966 Dodge Dart that we had purchased. That action set me up with a reliable, very inexpensive, set of wheels for many years to come.
I drove the Dart to high school, on dates and took it with me to my first job out of college when I worked for the Philadelphia Phillies minor league team in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Engine
This dandy of a car had a Slant Six, 101 horsepower, engine. It ran for 253,000 smooth miles between 1966 and 2001, averaging approximately 16 miles per gallon.
Despite having rear-wheel drive, this warrior would make it through snow storms due to its weight and sheer inner determination.
In its later years it also started to burn some oil, but always kept chugging along.
Air conditioning and AM radio
The car came standard with the four-fifty-five air-conditioning that many vehicles of that era had. When you were on highway and were going fifty-five miles an hour with the windows down, the outside air cooled the inside of the car excellently.
It had an AM, push-button, radio that worked for many years. One day, some neighborhood kids were playing by the car and broke the antenna off. No problem, my Dad and I just ran the wire inside the vehicle and attached the antenna to the top of the dash. It continued to play like a charm.
Upgrades
The front and back seats were both in bench style. They wore out over time and we had them reupholstered.
We had shoulder belts installed, as only lap belts were included during the era when that car was assembled.
Some parts, like the radiator and master cylinder lasted for decades. But, eventually they had to be replaced.
Local junkyards served as good sources of inexpensive parts that lasted for the life of the car after they were installed.
Repaint
One night I backed into a short, dark brown metal pole that was in a restaurant's parking lot. The minor bump slightly dented my rear fender. That incident spurred a re-paint process which transformed the Dart from a period color of blue to a classic white.
My dad's thought process was exactly on the mark, as that shade was always cool to the touch during every hot summer. The change, along with the installation of a tinted front windshield, noticeably reduced the inside temperature of the car.
To the end
The Dart's basic components remained fine throughout it's life. Eventually, body rust caused the suspension weaken.
The cost of repairing the suspension spelled the end of this beloved vehicle. So, the car was retired in May, 2001.
Having come off the assembly line in the fall of 1965, our old friend lived for nearly thirty-six solid years.
Logic verses emotion
This car served as modest transportation for a younger person like myself. Inexpensive possessions of any type are generally ideal for people of any means.
My 1966 Dodge Dart was obviously no show piece and it wasn't meant to be. I found that people who shared a grounded view of the world responded favorably to it. Those who were shallow often exhibited opposite reactions.
People's comments about your car, or about any possession that you own, are always reflective of their inner egos.
I loved the Dart because of its connection to my dad. It represented one element of our always good relationship. That 1966 Dodge Dart was real, just like us.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

My illustrated children's book: Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile officially became a Top 10 Amazon best-seller as of January 29, 2014. The print and ebook editions were initially released in August, 2014.

Children's Alopecia Project

50% of all proceeds from the sale of our book (in both print and ebook forms) are being donated to the Children's Alopecia Project (CAP).

What a ride

This incredible and unexpected ride began in the spring of 2011. By August 2013, the book was published by the Children's Alopecia Project in print form. We have been very pleased with sales of that edition. Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to purchase the printed book directly from CAP.

I published a special ebook edition within weeks of the print book release. After starting in the tens of thousands (in terms of Amazon's children's book rankings), Maddie broke into the Top 50 just prior to Christmas. It climbed through the 30s and settled in the upper 20s before breaking into the Top 10.  

Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to see a 'free-view' of the special ebook edition. I've included extra bonus features in this version that provide background information, extra photos, and illustrations. Each item helps to tell the complete story of this book's birth. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here's a link to this great (print and online) article that the Reading Eagle recently published about our story Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile: Book chronicles Wyomissing teen's journey since being diagnosed with alopecia

Thank you to Stacey Stauffer (Fox 29 Philadelphia). She interviewed Madison Woytovich, her parents (Jeff and Betsy Woytovich) and me about the latest chapter in this inspiring story. Here's a video link to Stacey's wonderful feature. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Amazon.com is the number 1 online publishing platform in the world. That's why I used it to publish my first ebookFast Fiction and Other Stuff.
This mini-tome is a collection of stories and poems for readers who don't take themselves too seriously. I hope that you enjoy it and am always interested in your feedback. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Waltons Revisited: 5 Interesting Facts



*This feature remains among the most popular in the Insight's nearly four-year history. It's being re-posted for all new reader's to enjoy. :-)

The Waltons' was one of my favorite shows when I was growing up in the 1970s for a variety of reasons. Tens of millions of people joined my family and me every Thursday night at 8 p.m. to watch the latest episode. Today, the iconic television show can still be seen in reruns, or online, which has helped to create a new generation of fans. 

Here are 5 surprising facts about this timeless TV show:

1. Earl Hamner is widely known as the author, whose book Spencer's Mountain inspired a movie and the subsequent television show. 

But, that marvelous writer also developed the idea for the 1981-1990 CBS nighttime soap opera 'Falcon Crest'.

2. 'Spencer's Mountain' was released in theaters in 1963. Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara portrayed John and Olivia Walton. 

3. 'The Homecoming' was a Christmas special that served as the series pilot. Andrew Duggan and Patricia Neal portrayed Clay and Olivia Spencer. Edgar Bergen (a famous ventriloquist, whose radio show included his most popular pupped 'Charlie McCarthy) portrayed Grandpa Walton.

Each of the actors who portrayed the Walton children (Richard Thomas, as John-boy, etc.) remained in the cast when the pilot was greenlighted for a regular television series.

4. 'The Waltons' ran on CBS from 1971 through 1981. CBS believed that the show wouldn't succeed, so it slotted it on Thursday night at 8 p.m. against 'The Flip Wilson' Show (NBC) and 'The Mod Squad' (ABC). 

'The Waltons' not only beat those two popular series, it went on to become television's most highly-rated show for many years.

5. After 221 episodes, the series was canceled in 1981. However, NBC picked up 'The Waltons', releasing three 2-hour TV movies in 1982. The show returned to CBS for an additional three TV movies (1993, 1995 and 1997). 

According to current information, none of the major networks have interest in creating any further reunion movies. 

Goodnight John-boy and good morning

'Hollywood' believed that a show based upon so-called 'traditional values' wouldn't be accepted by the public. But, 'The Waltons' proved that flawed ideology to be wrong. 

More importantly, Earl Hamner's message (based upon his family life in Virginia during the 'Great Depression') has been, is and will always be lived by good families across the globe.

(Photo courtesy of tvtroupes.org)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

My illustrated children's book: Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile officially became a Top 10 Amazon best-seller as of January 29, 2014. The print and ebook editions were initially released in August, 2014.

This amazing real-life story remains within Amazon's Top 100 rankings this month (April, 2014). The book previously appeared within Amazon's Top 50, 40, 30, 20, and 10 illustrated children's books during the past five months. 

I couldn't be more pleased at the worldwide response to this story. Every connection helps to raise awareness about an important children's cause. 


Children's Alopecia Project

50% of all proceeds from the sale of our book (in both print and ebook forms) are being donated to the Children's Alopecia Project (CAP).

What a ride

This incredible and unexpected ride began in the spring of 2011. By August 2013, the book was published by the Children's Alopecia Project in print form. We have been very pleased with sales of that edition. Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to purchase the printed book directly from CAP.

I published a special ebook edition within weeks of the print book release. After starting in the tens of thousands (in terms of Amazon's children's book rankings), Maddie broke into the Top 50 just prior to Christmas. It climbed through the 30s and settled in the upper 20s before breaking into the Top 10.  

Use, or share, this link --->>Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile to see a 'free-view' of the special ebook edition. 

I've included extra bonus features in this version that provide background information, extra photos, and illustrations. Each item helps to tell the complete story of this book's birth. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here's a link to this great (print and online) article that the Reading Eagle recently published about our story Maddie: Teaching Tolerance with a Smile: Book chronicles Wyomissing teen's journey since being diagnosed with alopecia

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you to Stacey Stauffer (Fox 29 Philadelphia). She interviewed Madison Woytovich, her parents (Jeff and Betsy Woytovich) and me about the latest chapter in this inspiring story. Here's a video link to Stacey's wonderful feature. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Visit my Examiner Contributor Pageor my Yahoo Contributor Page.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Let's connect on Twitter @SeanyOB, through Facebook, or on LinkedIn.


Feel free to click on any of my interviews with famous athletes and sports' personalities...

Martin Brodeur: Discusses His Record-Setting Shutout Total and Key Rivalries 
Jaromir Jagr: Current NHL Forward and Future Hall of Famer
Philadelphia Flyers' Bernie Parent: Postgame reflections 
Bobby Clarke: Philadelphia Flyers' Legend Talks Hockey
Ron Hextall Recalls His Greatest Season
Kerry Fraser: NHL Referee is Still Making the Right Calls

Vince Papale: Former Philadelphia Eagle/Subject of the Movie "Invincible"
Kevin Turner: Former Philadelphia Eagle Discusses ALS-Concussion Link

Ron Meyer: Blessed2Play Sports Talk Show Has Global Reach
Allison Baver: US Olympian Facing Every Challenge



Here's a selection of my interviews with broadcasters, actors, models and more...

This mini-tome is a collection of stories and poems for readers who don't take themselves too seriously. I hope that you enjoy it and am always interested in your feedback. 

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