Blog Archive

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Island Story

How many time have you played the game with friends about what you would take with you to a deserted island?  Probably a few times, at least.   Recently, while watching an episode of "Naked and Afraid" I wondered about the question again. 

One of the concerns left out of the "What three things would you take to a desert island?"  is how to survive without shelter, food, and the basic necessities we enjoy.  Back in my early 20s I had formally training in what is called "bush craft" - being able to survive outdoors in various conditions.  My uncles had this kind of training and I heard stories about how well they did out in the elements for a period of training.  Bush craft includes being able to build a shelter in any condition, how to build a snow cave if you find yourself stuck outdoors in the winter, how to search/hunt for food, what you vegetation you can eat, and so on.  I have not done it in a long time but I used to be able to light a fire using sticks and rocks. 

In my family, the men and the women of my grandparents generation were taught how to fend for themselves and perform basic things for themselves and around the house.  They were taught the same things.  The men knew how to sew and cook.  The women were taught these things as well but also learned how to perform basic maintenance on their cars, change tires, defend themselves if attacked.  No one batted an eye when I announced I wanted to take a course in bush craft.  I was already proven to be the type of person to go on impulsive road trips and travel when the opportunity presented itself.  Such things were sometimes done in the dead of night.  This wanderlust was fraught with potential danger.  What if the car broke down?  What if someone tried to rob/attack me?  I was encouraged by family members to pursue the bush craft lesson just as I had been encouraged to take classes in Krav Maga (a self defense system originally developed for Israeli soldiers).  I believe that every woman should take this class a self-defense class.  Men are physically stronger and usually the ones who attack.  Learning how to defend yourself from an attack is just a common sense thing to do.    I would feel confident I could survive if I was cast off on a deserted island, just in case the trees uprooted and tried to chase me.  Yes, sir, I'd show them!

Well, a deserted island is just that - deserted so I would have no need for Krav Maga, knowledge of car maintenance, etc..  There is nothing to attack me except maybe some nasty bugs.  I like to engage in the fantasy of what I would take with me if I could take anything (nothing electronic).  What would I have to occupy me? That's a fun thing to talk to friends about: what would you take with you?  

I have over 1,000 books.  I would probably take those.  The books feature a variety of subjects but a good number include tomes on the history of organized crime and biographies of the players in the underworld.  Other subjects that dominate my book collection are ghost stories and studies of the supernatural, the history of Ireland, its literary and national rise to world prominence in the early part of the 20th century,  psychology and a host of Norton Anthologies.  I read and re-read many of the books I own.  One of the greatest things in the world is the Kindle and being able to download and read books from many applications.  I have built up a substantial collection on Kindle.  But, the rules are no electronic devices on the deserted island.  Sad, 

Would being alone be an issue for you?  Personally, I enjoy being with friends.  I love going to parties but I am just as glad when I go home.  I am the type of person who will deliberately go to a movie or even a restaurant alone simply because I only want my company or I just don't want any conversation.  I would miss human contact on the island but I would not go crazy without out.  At least I don't think so - guess it depends how long I would be on the island.  Hopefully I would not get to the point of talking to a volleyball with a smiley face drawn on it.

So, I am curious as to what my readers would take with them? How would you fare on an island do you think? 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rocking the Ages

Wow - three years since my last post.  I have gotten in the writing frenzy once again - barring writing a play.  What to do, what to do.  I think I will ramble about age.  My age.

Life has changed so much in the intervening years.   I don't choose to dwell on the negatives (a house fire, lay off).  I'm damn lucky that I have been able to launch a new career at my age.  In fact, my age is part of the reason I got hired in my current position as a Videoconference technician.  A part of the job requires customer service savvy and being able to make judgement calls.  I am still learning many aspects of the AV world but one thing I do have is life experience.  The man who hired me is only a few years younger than myself.  I also work with individuals (men and women) who are my age or older.  I felt my age and lack of certifications kept me on the shelf for about two years when I was looking for a permanent position in this field.  The fact that I am a woman in a field dominated by men did make me wonder if being a middle aged woman factored into hiring decisions. 

Whatever it was, I am past it.

My new employer wants me to have certifications and its on their dime.  My first certification will be Certified Technology Specialist (CTS).  This certification proves that I know about audio and visual systems, environmental issues affecting presentations, how to configure a room and a host of thing tech components relative to my field. I don't believe I am going to be sent out into the field as I am being trained to set up and monitor (remotely) video conferences around the globe and assist as needed when things go wrong.  This kind of work interests me.  I am not stopping with the CTS certification; I intend to move forward and get as many certifications as I can.  My ultimate goal is to get certified in Networking and Networking Security.

One thing has improved with age - my ability to study and retain information.  I wish I could remember more the first time I read material while studying.  I am looking for ways to improve my memory.  Knocking down my daily sugar intake is one step.  Too much sugar affects memory.  I was diagnosed over a decade ago by a specialist in adult ADHD and some learning disabilities which made studying a nightmare when I was a kid and even as a college student.  Dyslexia caused me to struggle with math and words.  I have found ways to cope with that and press on.  Age has brought much awareness and skill in dealing with these struggles.  Most of my friends don't even know how hard I have struggled with these issues in the past and even now.  Medication has helped along with dietary changes.  Getting older has allowed me to gain self-acceptance.  I still worry about not being able to "get" a new program or concept in a normal span of time.  However, now I tell those I must interact with I have to study longer than the average person and why.  I am concerned about learning math formulas related to CTS work and Networking.  I suck at math.  That said, I have gone back and purchased such and such for Dummies books about math and continue to work at understanding things I did not growing up.  I can't even tell you how many times I have been embarrassed because I did not understand something everyone else did.  That doesn't exactly build confidence.  It makes you feel stupid.  I don't feel that way anymore.  I have geared my life towards what I want to do and what I do best, for the most part.

I have far more confidence now even though I am going into a field that is quite exacting.  I love this stuff and can study for hours on end.  One good thing about age is that you learn to know yourself, what you can do, and how to cope with it.  My getting older (and some medication) has assisted me in self-discovery and understanding complex concepts.  ADHD is very real.  It's been a curse many times.  I dread having to deal with the more complicated math that will be upcoming when I take advanced courses.  I'll find a way to get through it.  Still, it makes my eyes cross at the idea of it coming down the road.  I have to work twice as hard as everyone else to succeed with the math.  If that is what it takes, so be it.  I need to get to my goals.

This delving into more and more AV-related work has left me little time to do much else.  I'm studying so much - literally hours every day.  I miss reading.  I used to read one book at week.  I still get in some reading time but not much.  Focusing on dry technology all day has kick-started my writing once again.  I need to clear my head and be creative in intervals.  I sneak in some reading on breaks.  I get some writing done as well.  The aforementioned activities has, in a strange way, helped with ADHD.  I suppose that is because I am doing several things at one time.  There's no boredom.  There is only the desire to have more time in the day.  As I am not likely to get that, I have to settle on utilizing my time the best that I can to balance work, writing, study, reading and play. 

Play how? You may ask.  Well, one thing not too many middle-aged women do is play video games. 

I do.  Lots.  Sometimes too much and stuff like housework gets put off.  When I go into the video game stores, the 20somethings think I am there to buy a video game for my grandchild.  After I finish slapping the one who said that, I get down to business.  At any age you can have great fun.  Playing Halo, Call of Duty, Rage, Batman, Fallout and other games is a great release.  Now I go into a particular video game store and the sales guys are quick to tell me about new "shooter" games that I might like.  They know my game preferences.  I'm sure they know me because not many middle-aged women go into the store and buy video games for themselves.  I have told some of the young 'uns it's a mistake to assume things about someone because of their age.  I am very good at video games and I play at the advanced levels.  I do get a certain amount of pleasure when I break the stereotype (which is often) of who and what I am supposed to be at my age.  I have no problem with how old I am; it's what others do with that information. 

And that's why I was terrified no one would hire me again.  Not only did I get a job but my employer is already investing in me by "sending me to school."  Certifications can do much for marketability and salary. 

So here I am - in a better place than I was when I last wrote a piece for this blog. 

That's a good thing.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Father Sean McManus

In what now seems like a lifetime ago, I am reminded about my days in the 1980s when I was involved in the Irish nationalist groups in New York and Philadelphia that was promoting freedom for Catholics in British-occupied Northern Ireland.  I wrote for a Philadelphia-based monthly called The Irish Edition (which still exists) covering everything from book and play reviews to feature stories, a visit by James Cagney and political news.  I traveled with groups to Washington D.C. and met up with a priest named Father Sean McManus who was leading the Irish National Caucus, an effort to get Washington involved with the Northern Ireland issue.  Tricky dice that - Britain being one of America's prime allies.  I recently discovered that not only is Father McManus alive and well but still very active.  He has even written a novel --

Father McManus' involvement was initially very personal.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Forgiving Judas

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remembering Jonathan Frid book

We are now taking PRE-ORDERS for the "Remembering Jonathan Frid" book. This publication is expected to be due out in the fall 2013. This book will include remembrances and stories by many of JF's long time friends, colleagues, family members and some fans who worked with JF at the festivals over the past few decades. There has never been a book like it. The book will sell for $30.00 but if you choose to pre-order between now and June 30th, you can get it for $20.00 and be one of the first to get it. (If you are contributing to the book, you do not have to order a copy.) 

Portions of the proceeds will go to the John H. Frid Fund in Canada. 

Send your $20.00 to Helen Samaras via paypal at Please remember when ordering via paypal ensure that you are paying for any fees associated with sending the $20.00. If you need to pay by check or money order, please make payable to Helen Samaras and mail to Helen Samaras, 541 Birch Street, West Hempstead, NY 11552.  

Remember, this offer only good through June 30th.  After June 30th, the purchase price will be $30.00.