I’m an overpronator. (Or, I roll my feet when I run.)

New shoes!

I never knew there were running shoes geared toward overpronators. Heck. I didn’t even know there was a such think as an overpronator, nor did I think I was one.

I started running a few weeks ago and much to the dismay of the runners in my circle, I was not wearing the proper running shoes. So, Monday afternoon I was on a mission to get a pair — and a pair of running shoes that work for flat feet. (My mom calls them Flintstone Feet.) A colleague recommended a running specialty store, Inside Track, which is located in the Lancaster Shopping Center.

En route, Joe asked me why we weren’t just going to the outlets. For starters, I like to support local businesses as much as possible. But second, any and every runner will tell you that you need the right running shoes. I did not want to put my trust in someone with an after-school job at the Tanger Outlets with my precious beginning running feet. I also didn’t want to NOT get help and be left to choose the “neatest” or “cheapest” pair of running sneakers. (Heck, last time I bought “running” shoes, they were actually aerobic sneakers. My waterproof trail sneakers I bought for the Olympic National Park trip? Way to heavy for running. See? I need guidance.)

Going to a store where the salespeople are also runners, where a shop was opened out of passion is the best bet for getting great service. Granted, with one person on staff during my visit, we had to wait a few minutes to be helped or acknowledged, a local store may not have the amount of people working as an outlet. But — when the athletic gentleman got to me, he was a great help.

I was asked to walk down a small hardwood track, and then asked to turn around and walk back. The salesman then informed me that my feet roll in when I walk. I knew I had flat feet, which has always been an issue when trying to buy slinky sandals or fancy heels (for the record, this is why I am always in “chunky” shoes.). After my walking style was identified, he selected two pair of shoes he said would work best, and then suggested a few “second best” choices. He turned all the shoes right for me slightly off the display to make choosing easier.

I selected a pair of Saucony ProGrid Stability, size 8 if you were wondering. They were $114.95. What makes these shoes better for my flat feet is that they are broader on the bottom, and support is further back. I wore them today, and what a difference! I didn’t break them in first, so my knees hurt a bit from a different way of moving, but I anticipate better days ahead on the asphalt.

running-shoes-wide-bottom flat feet runner

You can see how the bottom of these shoes are broader - there's not much of an arch. This supports my flat feet and prevents me from rolling.


I never really thought too much about my flat feet, but I did some researching. Flat feet is also called Pes Planus, and it’s the leading cause of shin splints. Having the right running shoes for flat feet will definitely help prevent shin splints. Also, people who have flat feet tend to roll their feet inward when they walk and run. I am more aware of that now. It’s amazing to realize the dynamics of our own bodies 32 years into our lives! So, this motion of rolling your feet inward while you walk is called overpronating. I Googled that today too. Actually, I searched for “running shoes for flat feet.”  That’s how I found out about overpronating. I followed a link to running shoes for overpronating, and guess what. The very shoes my running shoe salesperson suggested earlier this week came up as the best choice. And that my friends is why you should seek professional advice when purchasing running shoes.

Oh yeah. Joe, Mr. Outlet, was impressed and he, too, walked up and down the track. He rolls his feet, too. Our children are in for it.

Started Running… and at a good time!

A few weeks into my new job at E-town College, one of my new, awesome colleagues asked if I ran. Of course I laughed and mentioned how I could barely walk up stairs without gasping for air.

Despite my fear, I knew that at age 32 and having high cholesterol (for which I fill my Zocra prescription “when I feel like it”) I had to get more physical. I had woke up early and walked a few times since I’ve moved to a perfect walking neighborhood. I said that I would run with her twice a week during lunch.

So far, so good. She’s a wonderful coach; she knows I am new to this and, in fact, she taught a beginner’s running course, so she’s really making sure I get started right. We’ve been alternating one minute of running and one minute of walking for about 30-minutes, with a cool down walk and stretching and still finishing before our hour lunch is up. The truth is, I feel great when I am done. I guess I get a bit of runner’s high because I feel so clear-minded. My body physically recovered well after each run.

However, during the run I have trouble breathing. E. has taught me to use rhythmic breathing, but still, I sometimes have to stop the rhythm and gasp. So, I really need to work on that. The other issue is that I don’t have the right shoes, which every runner will tell you is the most important thing. I have NICE sneakers of many assortments and I’ve tried them all. After one week where I ran twice with E. and two times on my own and then a Sunday full of walking during a downtown excursion in my Converse, the next Monday I developed severe shin splints, just in my left leg. The pain was so excruciating that we had to stop. Tuesday is a rest day, and Wednesday I pushed through, but it still hurt.

I am getting running shoes either today or Monday because my car is at the garage and Joe is away at Wilkes for class this weekend. I’m not stranded; a friend is coming to visit, so I may ask her to stop in at a running store.

Why it’s a good thing I started running

So, three weeks into my new running, I find out that it’s a good thing I’ve already got into the habit of exercising at a higher level than just a little stroll. E-town College offered it’s employees a discounted preventative health screening. Since I knew I had high cholesterol and have a sleep disorder and have trouble breathing while running, I decided to get checked out.

This particular package included four tests: pulmonary, thyroid, and three heart/artery tests. All were done with noninvasive ultrasound technology. The pulmonary was obviously a breathing machine. I got a print out the breathing results to take home, while a doctor reviews the other four and I get the results sent to me in two weeks. The breathing test – I am 32 and have the lungs of a 41 year old. That explains my breathing issues. The woman asked if I grew up around smokers (since I am a non-smoker myself) and I said yes. We both shook our heads in shame. Sucks when it’s not your fault.

As the other woman checked out my arteries and such, she did one test twice because she thought she got a misreading. Nope. Turns out, and I don’t know the details since I get the results, but whatever the measurement is, it should be 420 for my age, sex and weight. It’s in the 700s. I have the vascular age of a 50 year old. I’m at serious risk of heart disease. The woman told me this, but I know that the real results come in a few weeks, so I’ll hold tight. Either way, it’s a good thing I started to run. I already eat healthier. But, have to do better.

Women are from Venus, Chocolate is from Mars

Yesterday, I went with one of my new colleagues to E-town’s Convocation. She was taking pictures, and I was tagging along to experience the tradition. As she was taking pictures of the crowd before the procession began, I couldn’t help but inhale. After all, that’s part of surviving.

When I inhaled nasally, the smell of chocolate chip cookies spread throughout my olfactory cavity.

“Do you smell cookies?” I asked the photographer. The dining services staff was working on setting up tents for the All-College Picnic to follow the Convocation. Freshly-baked cookies for dessert, I thought to myself. But how did they get the ovens outside? I’ve seen tiny portable ovens before, but for hundreds of people? Would everyone get a cookie?

“That’s M&M/Mars. It always smells like that,” she replied with a smile.

It wasn’t cookies. It was chocolate. Being made. But it smelled just like cookies baking in the oven. I wondered what was being done at the moment. Was it the chocolate being made from the cocoa? Or, was a batch of Peanut Butter M&Ms (my favorite) being made? Joe and I had passed the manufacturing facility while we were exploring Elizabethtown, but I didn’t realize the chocolaty smell lingered all the way to campus. Mmm!

Today, on my way to campus I had my windows down (which I hand-rolled, by the way). As I turned on to Chestnut from High on onto to College Ave., I smelled that smell again. What a pleasant way to start each morning.

(As a side bar — chocolate bar in this case– I learned that Mars makes a lot more than I thought – Skittles and Altoids, for example. I also read in the latest Elizabethtown College alumni magazine that Frank Mars – a fourth generation of the family owners of the company — spoke on campus.)

When the time rolls around where I crave chocolate more than other times of the month, you may just find me at the edge of campus getting some respiratory therapy for PMS. Chocolate inhalers. Now there’s a good idea.

Please McDonald’s, leave my shake alone

Years ago, I slept over my friend Martha and Laura’s college apartment. Laura had to get up to go to work. I was in the same bed as Martha. I woke up fresh from a dream about a chocolate (not milk) shake from McDonald’s. I stopped at the nearest Golden Arches near their Penn State Hazelton place and fulfilled my dream-induced craving. That was 1997 or 1998.

I haven’t craved a shake like that in years, but yesterday I had to run an errand to AAA in Wilkes-Barre. There’s a McDonald’s across the street, which I passed to turn into the lot. I thought that since it was over 90-degrees outside and that I was stuck to my seat from sweat since I do not have air conditioning in my car that a nice chocolate shake would taste nice. So, all through the paperwork I had to do, I thought of nothing but the shake.

I momentarily stopped thinking about the shake when I had to date a contract and asked what date it was, and found out it was already August ninth. Then, as I wrote out the numeric date, I laughed out loud, “Ha! 8, 9, 10!” She chuckled, but wasn’t sure if it was with me or at me. But, after that interesting finding, my thoughts wandered back to the shake.

The line was long. And, I was already in it and it was so backed up and with the parking lot designed like an upper level of Dr. Mario, there was no escape. So, I just waited. All I wanted was a shake, but after this pain, I figured I deserved a double cheeseburger too.

It was finally my turn. I ordered a medium chocolate shake and my burger and proceeded through two windows.

This is what I was handed.

new mcdonalds shake

This is not what I thought I would get.

Yeah. That. McDonald’s now puts its shakes in clear cups and tops them with whipped cream and a cherry. The whipped cream pretty much instantly melted in the heat, by the way. But aside from that, I was shocked at the way it was served. Why so fancy? I posted the image on my Facebook page and tweeted it before even leaving the parking lot. Others commented that McDonald’s is trying to be all artisan with its drinks.

No thank you.

If I want a good coffee – I go to Dunkin Donuts or even, yes, McDonalds. Sometimes Sheetz (local place in PA). If I want a fancier coffee drink, I go to Starbucks — the coffee is a bit strong for me, so if I go Starbucks, I go with an espresso drink.

And, when it comes to milkshakes, if I want somethings more milkshakey, I’ll go to an ice cream stand, to a Friendly’s or to somewhere known for desserts. If I want a really thick ice cream concoction that is like a shake, I will go to Wendy’s to enjoy a Frosty. This drink, pictured above, is the last thing I expected to come through the little window when I asked for a shake.

That’s right. A shake. Not even a milkshake. McDonald’s is trying too hard to be something it is not. The Quarter Pounder and the Big Mac are old standbys, and so are the shakes – vanilla, strawberry, chocolate and sometimes Shamrock. But alas, the traditional coffee and shake are now part of the McCafe line.

What do you think? Do you like the new way McDonald’s serves its shakes?

500 Favourite Words: I’m part of a cool, new chapbook and word cloud project

Those are a few words I like to say.




Everyone has a few favorite words, but how many of us share the same word choices? ChapbookPublisher.com‘s

Dan Waber is setting out to find just that with his 500 Favourite Words chapbook and word cloud series. And, I am so excited to be a part of it.

So far the line features over a half dozen mini chapbooks, each filled with the creative contributor’s 500 favorite words.

500 Favourite Words word cloud

A screen shot of the growing word cloud from ChapbookPublisher.com

The pocket-sized 500 Favourite Words chapbooks sell for just $2.00 each and are available here (and also 100-word snippets of each available title.) That’s less than a penny per fun word!

Bringing this series together, is a world cloud. This cloud encompasses all of the 500 words all in one spot, much like you see in a tag cloud on a blog. This visual representation gives a picture on the most popular words in the series overall. So far, I am not the only one who has the word discombobulate on the list. Or fart. And, jazz appears on the most, although it was not on my list.

My list is random. No real order. Some words that appear next to each other may rhyme or fit in the same category or have the same root. It just happened that way. Some were coincidences (<– that’s a word on my list!) and others were a clear stream of though, such as when I wrote cheese and then proceeded to write Muenster. These 500 words made the list for various reasons. Some are fun to say. Some I use a lot in my own writing. Some I like the meaning. Others, I just like how they sound.

And, in doing this, I noticed my own little trends in words. I like words that start with ‘c’ sounds (clever, crisp, kumquat) and words that have v’s (fizz, buzz, rendezvous) and q’s (quirky, kumquat) in them. I like words that have historic (parchment) or natural, organic meaning (igneous, metamorphosis) to them. I like words with lots of syllables (diabolical, participle, onomatopoeia) And, a lot of words I like also have cars with the same name (Element, Escapade, oh, and Rendezvous).

When I heard about Dan’s project, I jumped at submitting my top words. And, as I was compiling my list, at first I struggled with choosing the words I like best, but soon found myself crossing of words to replace them with “better” words. And even now that my list is complete, my chapbook done, I am rediscovering words that I love and would be worthy of a Volume II!

I also love the word cloud feature. It’s no doubt creative, unique types would be drawn to this project, so seeing so many common favorite words is just fascinating. We’ll all so unique and different, yet attracted to the sounds or meanings of the same words.

To learn more about Dan’s 500 Favourite Words project and hist other projects (and, to support the project by picking up a chapbook or two, visit ChapbookPublisher.com. Other NEPA folks who are a part of this are poet Jim Warner and Andrea Talarico (no relation although she’d be an awesome cousin!) of Anthology Books.

Two Pubs: Wilkes Magazine & interviewed in Keystone Edge

Posted these two on my writing blog as separate posts, but figured I’d post them here as well:

I am super excited to share this publishing credit! I contributed an article to the Summer 2010 Wilkes magazine on the various ways social media is being used across the Wilkes University campus. From PR students using these newer mediums for their real-world clients to nature podcasts, students, professors and staff are going social. Read the store online here by downloading a PDF.

Wilkes Magazine Summer 2010 Going Social Donna Talarico

A few weeks ago at work I received a call from freelance writer Sara Hodon. She was working on a piece on technology companies for Keystone Edge, an online publication dedicated to the new economy of Pennsylvania. Sara’s piece was about Internet marketing. Her article is very comprehensive and includes quotes from me, as well as some other PA-based tech firms. Additionally, photographer Aimee Dilger took some fantastic photos around Solid Cactus.

This article, “Search No More: PA Companies Lead Online Marketing Revolution” is a true testament to the work we do at Solid Cactus as well as to the success of online marketing.

Solid Cactus Donna Talarico Keystone Edge Article

Screen shot of the Keystone Edge site, where we were the "cover" story.

Tornado Warning for Wilkes-Barre Brings Back OK Memories

Today is an odd weather day in Northeast PA. We have a tornado watch. That doesn’t happen too often. Sure, we get hail and damaging winds. But I believe the last time we had a really devastating tornado in Wilkes-Barre ish areas was in 1998 at Lake Carey. At any rate, I had one of my end of the world dreams last night. We were leaving town quickly and by the time the bus we were on got out of town, I overheard someone saying the town was gone. In my dream, I had to pee so I told someone that I was glad I didn’t stop to pee after all or else I may not have made it. (I don’t know what the end of the world came from in my dream.) So, like you may also experience, when you have to pee in your dream, sometimes you wake up and have to pee, too. So, I woke up. I grabbed my iPhone to see what time it was. It felt early. I have no windows in my bedroom, so it’s a dark dungeon and I never know what time it is. Oversleeping is a result. A welcome result. My iPhone though was as dark as my room. Died overnight. (Like all those people in my dream.) I plugged it in and ran downstairs to pee. The clock on the stove told me it was just after 11. I took a few swigs of apple juice from the jug and when I got back upstairs to return to bed, I saw my phone also got some juice. And several old texts from earlier in the morning popped up. They were from the weather channel.

Tornado Watch for Wilkes-Barre.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Luzerne County.

Shit, I thought. Is my dream coming true? I lay back down,heart still racing a bit from having a movie-like Armageddon dream (it wasn’t a nightmare – it was more like a movie) but maybe racing because fear of dying in a tornado in the waking world was setting in.

I lived in Oklahoma for three years and that’s when I first really learned about tornadoes. In my memoir, I wrote a chapter about aclimating to Tulsa. Here’s a small excerpt of that chapter. To bring you up to speed, this is almost halfway through the book – the first part is about growing up in the Poconos. Here, I was 13, it was the Spring of 1992 and I had just moved to Tulsa — this was my third school that year.


One of the first things I learned in my new school is that we may have made a tiny mistake in moving to Tulsa. I am not sure if my mom knew how much she was endangering our lives by bringing us to Oklahoma.

tulsa tornado
This is an image from the most deadly tornado in Tulsa. I also lived there for that, 1993 or 1994 I think. It destroyed a huge truckstop when it came up I-44. Image credit from bogoboo.com

I knew what tornadoes were: I’d seen the Wizard of Oz many times. But, I never thought I’d have to prepare for one. Since it was spring, which everyone in Tulsa called Tornado Season, we had tornado drills to practice how we’d survive if high, spiral-shaped winds hit Nimitz Middle School. Back in Pennsylvania, we only had fire drills, so this was quite scary. When the tornado drill bell sounded, we proceeded to the interior hallways and sat Indian-style facing the lockers. Being by the interior walls was safer, we were told. There were no windows, so we’d be protected from glass shards. We put our arms behind our necks and placed our heads down in our laps. This would shield us from the debris. After the first tornado drill, when we were back in the classroom, we were issued an informational packet with all sorts of safety tips and preparation techniques from an educational program Channel 8 News put together called Travis Meyer’s Wicked Weather Guide. Travis was a local meteorologist, so I trusted his judgment and studied his guide as if it were material for an exam.

But, I wasn’t at school the first time a tornado threatened my new city.

One Thursday in mid-May, Joe, Theresa, Michelle, Dan, and I were planning on going to the movies, New Jack City I think.   It was raining and I was getting petrified. I knew that rain in the heat could cause a thunderstorm and that thunder and lightening could bring a tornado. Our television had been on all day and, on the little ticker beneath the show, there was a tornado watch for Tulsa County. A watch, according to Travis Meyer’s Wicked Weather Guide, meant there was a possibility a tornado could form. But, a little later in the day, that watch transformed into a warning, which meant there were actually tornadoes on the ground. There was no way I was going outside.

“I am not going!” I yelled to Joe, even though going to the movies was one of my favorite things to do. Not much could tear me away from the prospect of Reese’s Pieces and hot, drizzly butter, but dying in a tornado did the trick.

He just laughed at me and continued watching TV. I called my mom at work. The mall management was instructing all employees and shoppers to head to the mall’s tornado shelter but, yet, she assured me everything would be fine; it was just a precaution. I’d be safe at the movies. My aunts and Dan had gathered at our apartment for the family outing. They saw I was freaking out.

“What’s the matter with you, Gutt?” asked Dan. He’d nicknamed Theresa and I “Butt and Gutt.” He even drew stick figures to represent this duo. Mine had a bubble in the front; Theresa’s bubble was in the back. I hated it.

“Don’t you watch TV? There’s a freakin’ tornado,” I cried from the hallway, the interior hallway.

“Well, a huge movie theater is safer than this place,” he said.

I didn’t care. I did what Travis Meyers said to do when severe weather struck. I pulled my twin foam mattress into my bathroom and told my family I was climbing in what was dubbed the safest place in the house, the bathtub. A video we watched in school showed totally destroyed houses with toilets and tubs still standing admist the debris.

“Oh, Jesus Fucking Christ, Donna. Stop your happy horseshit. Let’s go,” Joe said.

“We’re gonna die. Don’t you care?” I said getting into the tub. “Oh, I forgot my radio.”

I got out of the tub and went across the hall to my bedroom to grab my AM/FM alarm clock, which had batteries inside as a back up. This way, I would be aware of all the destruction and find out when it was safe to come out of the tub.

“I can’t believe you’re gonna miss the movie,” yelled Theresa. I was leaving her alone with all adults. She liked being with the adults anyway; she always sat at the adult table on holidays while the boys and I had more fun at the kids’ table. “You’re such a wuss.”

Wuss, I thought. I had the guide, in black and white, right here. Meteorological professionals don’t call it a tornado warning for no reason. There was a serious threat. She asked me one last time if I was really going to sit in the bathtub while they went to enjoy a movie.

“Yes. I told you guys. I’m staying here. You guys are crazy.”

She left the bathroom and I heard the front door slam. I could hear thunder and rain. I read and reread Travis Meyer’s Wicked Weather Guide in the bathtub until I became bored. The weather had calmed down. I put the mattress back on my bed. I plugged back in my alarm clock. I survived my first tornado. I waited for my family to come back from the movie theater, secretly wishing Joe got caught up in the winds like the cows in Wizard of Oz. But, the tornado had passed our part of Tulsa — this time. In fact, the Tulsa World the next day called it an F0 tornado, only causing some tree branches to fall.

A Barrom Brawl: Digital Jukeboxes vs. CD Jukeboxes

Touch Tunes Digital JukeboxGone are the days where you can say, “I love that bar. It’s got a great jukebox.” Now, most bars have the same freaking jukebox.

There’s an award or two hanging above the “jukebox” of my favorite bar. That’s right. Hops & Barleys won Best Jukebox in NEPA in the Weekender’s Readers Choice Awards a time or two. Or more. But, I originally put jukebox in quotes here because the jukebox that won those awards is no longer there. I miss the old, REAL, jukebox. It’s replacement is not very cool At all. Here are reasons why I don’t like digital jukeboxes as much as the old ones that played CDs. Hops joined the digital jukebox bandwagon and I still love the place, but I long for old one.

Ah, nostalgia.

I remember going to Hops for the first time, and loving the jukebox. In fact, when I turned 21 and started going out to bars, I almost enjoyed seeing the selection of songs as much as the beers on tap. A bar’s jukebox in a way defined the bar, created its typical atmosphere, drew a certain crowd. The jukebox at Hops had the token Bon Jovi. It even had a standards variety CD that had Happy Birthday and the Star Spangled Banner. I knew my jukebox picks by heart:

  • Tom Petty’s “Don’t Do Me Like That” (from Greatest Hits) was 2006.

  • CCR’s “Down on the Corner” (from Chronicle) was 2808.

For those reasons and more, I wish bars still kept their own jukeboxes where they selected the songs/albums from the vending company from which they rented the machine. Sure, digital jukeboxes save a little room and cost less to make/ship/store/maintain, but I think there are more negative aspects of digital jukeboxes.

cd jukebox

I miss these. Dearly.

Reasons why I don’t care too much for digital jukeboxes:

1. No full albums

You may at first say, “Wow! Digital jukeboxes are great. You can search for ANYTHING!” Yes, you can. Mostly. However, even on an album full of hits, like the White album, two or three songs will show up. If you want a deep cut, you pay more. No. This doesn’t work for me. First of all, album cuts never really got airplay. So, being able to experience them opens you up to new songs. If you don’t even KNOW what other songs are there other than the hits, you would NEVER know to search for them. So, in a real jukebox, you may flip to a CD and see the whole list. Maybe one time, you’ll stray from the norm and play something from the album you didn’t know, or forgot about. With the digital jukeboxes, you get to choose from a few songs when you touch CD cover on the screen. Not cool.

2. Play next? No. Wait your turn, jerk!

The reason I am writing this post today is because I almost cried last night. I felt like I was on a Fox News TV debate (only I was the only head talking) as I proclaimed my distaste for the Touch Tunes digital jukebox at Hops. It was my graduation and I was celebrating. I arrived at 8:00 p.m. and the bar was not packed at all. I put $5 in. I think that got me 18-20 songs. I started with Tom Petty’s “Don’t Do Me Like That” and ended with Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” In the middle, Joe and I picked songs from Violent Femmes, Bon Jovi, O.A.R, Gin Blossoms, John Mellencamp and others. But, the starting and ending with a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers song was my little trick so I knew when my songs began and ended. I’ve been doing that 10 years, no matter where I go. (Because coincidentally, nearly every single jukebox I have encountered always had Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits.)

And that leads me to the worst button known to mankind (next to that big, red detonation button on a nuclear bomb) – PLAY NEXT. In the four hours we were at Hops, we heard two of my songs. TWO.

People continually hit PLAY NEXT. I spent $5. I should be able to hear my songs. Why should someone else’s song get played before mine? I think that money-making tactic is a little unfair. If the beer line is long at a concert, I never shout, “Hey! I’ll pay you $1 extra – $11 total – for this Miller Lite if you serve me NEXT!”

We are taught since nursery school to wait in line for our turn. Old jukeboxes played songs in a row. None of this PLAY NEXT option nonsense. I left at midnight, still wanting to stay to hear my songs. It was not to get my $5 worth. It was because it was a special night and I wanted to create my own little soundtrack. All the impatient play nexters won.

3. No spontaneity & a need for ginko biloba. No more randomness.

Everyone has their few favorite songs and artists. But, when faced with making jukebox decisions with digital jukeboxes, you must know exactly what you are looking for. Sure, if I want to hear Tom Petty, I can hit the “P” button and scroll through the albums and songs. However, what if I am not sure what I want to hear? I have to make mental notes of all the people I like and search for them. It is very hard to just FIND something at random because to look through the entire jukebox would mean scrolling through an entire freaking alphabet. How time consuming!

In the old days, like me, I had my fave songs memorized, but I enjoyed flipping through the pages and seeing what the jukebox had to offer. So often, I would accidentally stumble upon an artist I liked but always forgot about. Case in point, I love “Fat Bottom Girls” from Queen, but I always forget about Queen, so I never hit “Q” on the digital jukebox. However, if I am casually flipping through a real jukebox, I may see it and say, “Oh wow! Queen! I forgot.”

There is no element of surprise. No hidden nuggets. No spontaneity. Digital jukeboxes have nothing on the oldies. People always say “browse” the web. It’s a term, yeah, but it’s not true. People really “search” the web. Unless you know exactly where you want to go and directly type in the address or use a bookmark, you search the web. This is the same thing for digital jukeboxes. You can’t just randomly run into a cool sale item on a clearance rack… nope. You need to look for something specifically. Ugh.

4. Super Search does not mean you can hear ANYTHING you want

I won’t name names, but there are a few NEPA bars that program their Touch Tunes digital jukeboxes to exclude certain genres. For example, one bar in a “bad” neighborhood blocked rap. Another classier bar blocked hair metal. So, even though at its heart it seems as if the Super Search function opens bar patrons to a world of music, it doesn’t always work that way. In fact, this does in a way make it similar to the real jukeboxes where the albums are what is there, and that’s that – the owner can control what CDs are in a real jukebox, just as a bar owner can choose to exclude a song or an entire genre in his own playlist on his digital jukebox. I do happen to like this feature, however I list this here as a negative because people have the misconception that you can find anything. Seriously. Do a search at some bars and you will find a very popular band may not show up at all. That could crush or frustrate users who are under the illusion they can choose any song.

These are four reasons I don’t like digital jukeboxes. I could seriously go on, but I think I’ve said enough. I get that they make more money for the bar because they are based on some great sales techniques. But, let’s not forget that places that have bars probably make most of their money from food and beverages — however, it’s the great atmosphere that keeps people also coming back. It truly makes me sad that four hours can go by and I don’t hear more than two of my songs. I don’t find the same joy in picking my songs because I have to search for songs and then always end up playing the same ones because under the pressure I can’t always remember all the bands that I have ever liked. I much prefer to scroll through and pick the best songs from a set selection in a real jukebox.

You know what NEPA bar still has a good jukebox? Dugan’s in Luzerne. I know a few wonderful people go there specifically for the jukebox. It is a reflection on the owner and on the crowd. It’s great little place with good food, good beer selection, and even though I said it, I’ll say it again – a good jukebox.

Other Hops and Barley jukebox memories to show you how much that old machine meant to me:

1999- I met a past long-term boyfriend at the jukebox. I mean, it ended up not working, but there were years of memories and that’s where we met.

2001- An old review I wrote of Jessica Andrews, Who I Am CD, where I worked in hanging out at Hops and the jukebox.

2003 – I reviewed Hops on a then-new local review site, Barmesier. My review mentioned the killer jukebox.

2007 – An interview with Doug Cosmo Clifford, CCR drummer, where I pay tribute to the old Hops jukebox.

Wilkes University MFA Graduation — Bittersweet.

In January 2010, I completed the MFA in creative writing from Wilkes. Since there is no winter ceremony, my cohorts and I had to wait until the May 2010 graduation. We all joked yesterday that it was as if we were milking this graduation thing. In fact, some of my acquaintances thought I maybe went back for more. “Didn’t you graduate in January,” they would ask. In a way, I guess we did get two celebrations out of the deal since we had a banquet at the January creative writing residency at Wilkes!

At any rate, the MFA is certainly a great accomplishment. I could not be more proud of my friends and fellow cohorts. It’s been an incredible journey, but it’s not over. The great thing about the creative writing program at Wilkes is that it is a true creative writing community where alumni always come back to visit at residencies. I will always be part of this program.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday’s ceremony:

Wilkes MFA January 2010

7 of the 14 graduating MFAs walked at the ceremony.

Wilkes MFA graduation Donna and Mom

Presenting this week at May’s Cocktails & Connections Event: Blogging for Business

cocktails and connections logo

Cocktails and Connections is a monthly mixer for NEPA professionals.

A few months ago, Catherine Shafer of CDS Creative invited me to present on blogging for business at May’s Cocktails & Connections. Cocktails and Connections is a monthly networking event held at the Woodlands. Professionals can get together to relax, network and learn. Pretty cool concept.

May’s event is slated for this Tuesday, the 25th and runs from 6:00-8:00 – my presentation is at 6:30 and will last less than an hour.

My blogging for business presentation will cover topics such as:

  • Why every business needs to have a blog
  • How to set up a blog
  • What you should and shouldn’t blog about
  • How to promote a blog
  • Blogging best practices

The event has a Facebook page. For information or to RSVP, you can visit the Cocktails and Connections page here.