I’m In The Mood For ???

What AM I in the mood for? Hmmmm.

The above picture is a box of “mood rings”. These rings prove, above all else, that people will buy any crap. Mood rings started in the fad crazy 70’s and originally sold for up to $250. However as with all great fads, the king of 70’s mass market fads, K-Tel wound up selling its own cheaper version.

The mood ring worked on the theory that it could reflect changes in body temperature and those changes were in response to your mood. Scientific miracles like this were always scoffed at and relegated to the “what were we thinking” dust bin, like trolls and pet rocks.

If these worked, mine would have been really confused this week. To start, mood is a pretty way of saying “emotions”. While the Bee Gees sang about them and Smokey Robinson seconded them, they are moods. When you have them, you are moody. You can be in a sentimental mood, in a sullen mood, in an elated mood. However, when you show your emotions, you are “angry”, “ sad”. “upset”, “happy” and the ever popular “pissed off”.

Yep, moods are much fancier than plain old emotions.

I get moods a lot anymore. I can go through many of them in just a day. And I am not alone. Everyone gets them. They can manifest themselves as quick change artists, with mood swings caused by being told “all lines are busy, please listen to music on hold” or seeing a long line when you want to grab a quick breakfast at Wawa.

Adding in my lung disease, my moods take themselves seriously. They not only host themselves in me but they also delight in confusing those around me. The worst part is that no matter how you explain them, moods are yours and yours alone, and the reasons for them may not be easily explained or shared.

Back to me, my favorite subject.

The moods or emotions that I am going through are not that different from what I manifested when I was healthy and working. However, the triggers have changes, as have the anxieties behind them. Much of my moods come from what I now can or cannot hope to do with my new progressive limitations.

Envy becomes one of my buddy moods. Envy not of a particular situation but of the thought that similar opportunities may never be available to me again. When I was in the video business, I made numerous trips to various industry conferences where I got to network with a lot of great retailers and learn from them. My association with the VSDA/EMA, the industry trade groups also allowed me to meet movers, shakers, and stars of all types. (My greatest day was when I met both Jeff Bridges and Robert Duvall on the same day at the VSDA Convention in LV).

I got that same feeling while watching HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS yesterday. They were set up just outside of the Cruise Terminal in Miami and it was on a Monday. As they were broadcasting, a Royal Caribbean liner left port. I had cruised out of there in 2007 with about 100 other video retailers for a 4 day conference that also allowed me my first view of Mexico. It was also my first chance to test my weight loss and stamina from my gastric bypass that year. I was able to climb all over the ruins at Tulum Mexico like a kid, something I had not been able to do for years. Color my mood “giddy”

I don’t get those opportunities anymore since I no longer have that “connection”. I thought of that as I followed the exploits of some people that I met last year through our mutual love of the TNT series FALLING SKIES. SciFi and TV Bloggers all, they made a quick trip to Vancouver BC to visit the set and meet one of the most talented and most accessible cast ever on TV. They saw secrets that they cannot yet reveal and got to have the kind of shared experiences that I used to treasure.

While this could manifest itself in an emotion called “envy”, it actually had made me feel “pride” in that the opportunities still exist for people who I really appreciate as well as for people who have my work ethic, which is to do what you love and do it well. Yep, I am proud to say I know them and that I appreciate their work.

Of course, the melancholy mood cannot completely go away. It comes up when I realize that it has been over three years since I’ve had a vacation or traveled any farther than Harrisburg. It has been three years since I’ve gotten together with video retailers to share and learn. It’s been three years since I’ve been on a plane.

In short, it has been almost three years since I’ve felt relevant like in those melancholy days. However, it has given rise to a new mood best described as “determined”. Determined is a two headed monster, since it involved both taming and finding out more about my interstitial lung disease, as well as determined to find a new relevance.

While I keep plugging away at those moods, my emotions will get the best of me, mainly frustration and wistfulness , with a healthy helping of crankiness (a hybrid mood if there ever was one). That will trigger corresponding emotions in those I surround myself with and those I hope to surround myself with.

As I go forward, color my mood ring “hopeful”.

Pulmonary Rehab Tales 9/7/11: Clout Vs. KLOUT

Note: At the end of this post are links to previous posts about my lung disease. I’ll keep these links at the end of each subsequent post or figure out how to add a Table Of Contents.

I got it, I got it … I ain’t got it

My award from the VSDA National Board Of Directors 2004

The award pictured above is from the VSDA (Video Software Dealers Association), which is now called EMA (Entertainment Merchants Association). For a brief time, they had a sub-group called iDEA (Independent Dealers of Entertainment Association)

Alphabet Soup.

The award was given to me for my three years of service on the National Board of Directors, a position I was elected to by hundreds of video retailers across the country. It followed years of working for the good of the home video industry since 1983, some of it done locally with other retailers in the Delaware Valley Chapter and much of it done nationally with many major chain directors and independent store operators uniting to bring our voices to both the entertainment industry as well as to the halls of government.

Our work made it possible for you to enjoy films and recorded product as you desired, both then and now.

You are very welcome.

I was elected to the National Board in 2001 and served three years until the iDEA was formed and split off from the mothership VSDA. Until the time of my layoff in 2009, I was on the iDEA National Board.

I had the honor of being parts of panels, presentations, seminars, interactive sessions, negotiations and development of both industry efforts to grow and improve as well as industry challenges to our livelihood. Many of the panels had major players from across the entertainment spectrum. My first panel, on the subject of music video, included RUSS SOLOMON, who founded TOWER RECORDS. Many of the people who called to sell us videos (VHS, Beta, LaserDisc and CED Disc) ascended to the top rungs of Sony, Warner, Disney, Fox, and Paramount, plus a ton of great independent film companies.

I have plenty of other stories and successes (and a few failures), but in essence…

I had clout with a “c”. That clout was a two way street. It allowed me the opportunity to have an impact on a growing industry. It allowed me to meet and influence people who needed my (and our) influence.

And it helped me learn a hell of a lot about this business.

It also allowed me to use and hone my skills and knowledge everyday, to both help my employer and to help my employers industry choice. I loved this business 24/7.


Members of the First Board of iDEA (and since that time, with the help of gastric bypass, I've lost over 140 lbs

All of that changed on 9/17/2009. That was the day that I was laid off from my job, an industry I had served for 27 years. The “brick and mortar” video industry was under attack from new forces and my company did not have the desire to continue the battle. As they downsized the stores division, they decided they no longer needed a “general manager” for them. I begged to differ because I felt the stores needed to be transformed uniquely, not just tweaked.

Company employee of the year 2007. Laid off 2009. Go figure.

That caused the clout to transform into a desire. The desire to leverage information and contacts into another rewarding position in the retail industry. Unfortunately, I was not alone. A number of great people who worked in the home video industry got kicked to the curb as well, and the openings grew scarcer.

Then came the lung biopsy.

That “rocked my world” to use a cliché. Being told that your left lung is at least 50% damaged beyond repair and that your constant companion when you are active is now a shoulder bag full of portable oxygen is not exactly Publishers Clearing House time. It affects you both physically and mentally, but abstractly, it also affects you socially. When you work, you have the social aspect of those working around you, of the salesmen and women, of the customers, of those you meet throughout the day.

And that social aspect is directly related to your clout. Without someone to interact with, “clout” is a five letter word. That became one of my many new fears: lifespan, day to day health, income, care, social and creative activity, and that thing called clout. I don’t believe it is egotistical to want to have an impact on an area of interest and importance to yourself. It is human nature. It is clout.

My "signature" for Dunder Mifflin Allentown

Then came Facebook and Twitter. There were other online activities that I stuck my toes in, such as running a virtual “branch office” of Dunder Mifflin, the paper company from NBC’s The Office. This was a yearlong online activity that revolved around each weeks episodes. We were the ALLENTOWN BRANCH and we lasted three years. The social aspect allowed me to meet a ton of new people from across the country, many of who remain great friends to this day.

That social clout is what I desire along with some form of clout like I used to possess in my old job. Let’s face it. If you don’t desire to have some sort of impact, you are wasting no one’s time but your own.

As I move forward with pulmonary rehab, maintenance, and education, and learn more about what I have (It is classified as an ILD Interstitial Lung Disease, or more specifically as NSIP Non-Specific Interstitial Pneumonitis), I also desire to move ahead mentally, socially and creatively. While I am not sure what work I can do in the future (or even if I can ever work again) , I can use my computer (badly sometimes). So that becomes my portal to new clout.

Or maybe it is “KLOUT”.

Over the summer, I was part of an online effort to promote the new TNT series FALLING SKIES. I was one of 600 chosen because of what my online conversations seemed to show as to my ability to talk entertainment, science fiction, and television. Or to just talk. This effort was organized through KLOUT, which is like a social media scoring service that attempts to find people who actively show a connection to a particular topic. We would receive weekly mailings of fun little items that related to the show plus one Tweeter (Hokuboku) won a trip to the set and a walk-on role for Season Two.

If you look back through my blog over the Summer of 2011, you’ll find my many blog posts on FALLING SKIES.

Falling Skies

This KLOUT (www.klout.com) program allowed me to meet another great group of people to fill that social void that exists over the last two years, as well as allowed me to bring some of my skill sets of promotion and creativity back into play. Damn, it felt really good.

Through things like KLOUT, I am trying to mentally and socially get back to the learning and learned experience that I have enjoyed for over three decades, even if I won’t achieve the physical abilities that I used to have. That makes me focus forward, to have hope, to have pride, to have friends. To both cope with my new limited abilities and to find ways to defy those limits.

I have a lot to learn and a long way to go. When I was working, the ultimate goal was successfully reaching retirement age. Now it is simply reaching tomorrow with a strong enough will and desire to reach the day AFTER tomorrow and so on, God willing. However, without a social base to share what I know and love, my clout is all “out”.

I invite you to try KLOUT and see how you measure up, but also see how I can help you and you can help me and we can help others. Ask me if you need more convincing. Find me there under @adimike55.

While I hope that my real world “clout” can find a way to enhance my new life “KLOUT”, I also hope that my KLOUT is able to provide something that you can use, not just a mailing containing SKITTER FINGERS.

The fingers of a alien skitter


Pulmonary Rehab 9/1/11: Earthquakes, Hurricanes, And Steps To Climb

Pulmonary Rehab 8/19/11: When We Last Left Our Hero…

Pulmonary Rehab 8/17/11: Adrian Is Doing Well. Give Him A Sticker.

Birthday Wishes And Pulmonary Dreams 8/11/11

Pulmonary Rehab Tales 8/10/11

Pulmonary Rehab 101: 1 Of the Future

Tomorrow Starts The Next Phase: Pulmonary Rehab And Education

Expecting Expectation, Getting Ramblings

Those Three Words

Pulmonary Rehab 9/1/11: Earthquakes, Hurricanes, And Steps To Climb

Note: At the end of this post are links to previous posts about my lung disease. I’ll keep these links at the end of each subsequent post or figure out how to add a Table Of Contents.

What a week, what a week.

Maybe you’ve heard? My first earthquake, and you knew it was one. We get to joke about it, sounding like a huge truck coming up the street and a flower pot ringing out but let’s face it, we are glad it wasn’t worse (though the speed of the local stations to develop over-the-top graphics and music for it was amazing).

Then came Hurricane Irene and another chance to Twitter and joke about it, but only because the worst we had around my neighborhood was a 14 hour power outage. Irene caused the most damage just when you started to think that the whole storm was a big overreaction. If you don’t believe me, just look north to Vermont.

Of course, all the blowing and shaking coincides with some updates on my pulmonary rehab and my lung disease. While nothing out of the ordinary occurred during it, much good stuff actually happened.

As of now, I am completing my 4th week of pulmonary rehab. It is starting to approach what I hoped it would accomplish. The odd thing might be that while a physical goal was part of the plan, the more abstract goal was what I really wanted the most: to be able to get some real life feel for what my limitations and abilities would be going forward.

I wanted my confidence back.

One of my biggest fears and concerns revolved around how this would affect what I used to do and experience. While I was not a world traveler by any means, I was an active participant in my professional life and a good fun friend in my personal life. I knew my stuff, I am not bashful to say. I shared that knowledge and wanted more. I shared my experiences and wanted new ones. I shared my friendship and wanted even stronger ones.

Once I was laid off and then diagnosed with NSIP, those all seemed to move far away from me, on that very uppermost shelf that you never think you can reach. The chance to experience these again seemed to no longer be an option. Confidence, focus, desire, ambition, and ability all hazed over out of the lack of understanding of exactly where I am and where I go next.

The rehab was in my sights because , while I did not think I would get every answer every written, I did hope that it would point me in the right direction. The rehab is starting to do that.

Take the treadmill. When I started, I did 3 minutes at 1 mile per hour, with my oxygen level at 4 BPS. My blood oxygen level would dip low to 87-88. Three and a half weeks later. I am at 15 minutes at 1.6 miles an hour, oxygen level at 6 BPS. My blood oxygen is 91-92 % . One big difference: my therapist has turned the monitors away from my sight. I therefore have to depend on how I feel instead of how the monitors tell me I feel. That knowledge will help me immensely.

Also helping me is that the gym has Good Morning America on for the 8 AM hour, so I get all the annoying faux-celebrity news and make up tips that even a clown would laugh at, instead of the newsworthy 7 AM sgement. So maybe I am trying to walk away from the TV.

Next up the what I’ve called the “fantasy ice cream making machine”, which I’ve learned is a UBE (Upper Body Ergometer ). This is very similar to when I was a wee lad and would turn my tricycle upside down and spin the big wheel with my hands. There is much more resistance now, except for when I would turn my brothers tricycle upside down. Then all hell would break loose.

I’ve increased from 5 to 9 minutes with increased resistance as well. In this room, there are only the walls and some inspirational posters that are definitely less annoying than HANG IN THERE KITTY posters. There are no monitors, all my breathing and body effort are measured on a self-scoring numbered scale. This causes the least feeling of tiredness and shortness of breath and the most instances of daydreaming since I’ve memorized those posters and every inch of the wall.

The exercise bike is back in the main room and therefore back in view of Good Morning America. Josh Elliot is riding a camel, some woman has 15,000 pairs of shoes and a reporter tells me that dollar stores are cheap. News you can use.

I’ve gone from 5 minutes to 9 minutes on the bike and increased wattage resistance. There is much more visual stimuli in main room but I still manage to stay away from looking at monitors.

The hand weights have gone from 3-4lbs per arm and will be increased to 5 lbs Friday. We have gone from 5 to 8 minutes and I’ve gotten better at not looking like a cartoon drawing while following the cartoon instructions.

Wednesday, we attacked a flight of stairs. Yes, that is a fear, a barrier, and a goal. While I went up one flight and back down again, I was able to do four steps at a time with normal strides before feeling a bit winded. Since this was the first time, my old friend apprehension came back to visit, the fear of what I could not do before I tried to do it.

I did learn that the pursed lips breathing is much more effective than the habitual panting that I have done when out of breath. Pursed lips bring the blood oxygen level up more quickly. Again, nothing earthquaking, or shaking, but a hoop that needed to be stepped through.

One of the great fears and sadness for me has been the thought that I am not only stagnant on what I can do physically, but that I am also stagnant on what I can earn and monetarily help with. I have no desire to be a burden but I do have a desire to contribute on my own when needed. Having the disability check means that there is income every month. Having the ability to cover the expenses can be tough.

I will be meeting with a local foundation tomorrow to see about some help with the medical expenses. I can use the help and support and hope that this is also the step that allows me to find a way to contribute and organize my finances more effectively.

I have a few really great angels in my life right now and right now I can use one more.

My ultimate goal is to be an angel in return when needed. Clarence, I can use some wings.

More to come…


Pulmonary Rehab 8/19/11: When We Last Left Our Hero…

Pulmonary Rehab 8/17/11: Adrian Is Doing Well. Give Him A Sticker.

Birthday Wishes And Pulmonary Dreams 8/11/11

Pulmonary Rehab Tales 8/10/11

Pulmonary Rehab 101: 1 Of the Future

Tomorrow Starts The Next Phase: Pulmonary Rehab And Education

Expecting Expectation, Getting Ramblings

Those Three Words

FALLING SKIES: Yeah, I’ve Been Watching The “SKIES”

A quick note about all my FALLING SKIES:

I have become hooked on FALLING SKIES on TNT (This Sunday is the Season Finale at 9 PM). However, my love of the way the show works comes directly out of my past experiences.

I have always been a huge TV and Movie fan. That may be the reason why I spent 27 great years in the home video industry. It was great while it lasted and it was great to have an impact on an area of creativity that you personally love.

Much of what I did for 27 years was creative, as well. While the stores were retail based, the business always required showmanship. The business always required knowledge. The business always required love of product. And the business always required a personal need to share something you love with so many others.

I got to do that from early 1983 until late 2009. In that time, I met many stars and creatives (Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall, Ted Turner, Roy Disney, Robin Williams, Jennifer Connelly, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Selma Hayek, Barry Manilow, Barney, Henry Winkler, Steven Weber, Charleston Heston, Ice-T, and many others).

I also wrote for a video trade publication called VIDEO INSIDER, my stock in trade being Children’s Entertainment. I conducted interviews with MisterRogers, Shari Lewis, Raffi, Frank Zappa, Ithzak Perlman and many others who had family videos out.

I loved writing, but retail was my main profession. It also allowed me to attend annual VSDA conventions for retailers that put the Sand Diego Comic Cons to shame. The studio events were spectacular and the people I met were and are amazing.

Now that I can no longer work due to lung disability, I find the need to discover a way to continue these conversations about things that I love. Hello, Twitter (and Facebook).

One thing I’ve always loved is intelligent sci-fi. While I am a big fan of the 50’s sci-fi genre, much of the more recent sci-fi strikes me as too intent on overwhelming us. A great sci-fi story doesn’t hit us over the head with action because the story gets room to breathe and to involve.

That is why my favorite TV Show has been the original TWILIGHT ZONE. I was able to have a brief Twitter conversations with Colin Cunningham (John Pope on FALLING SKIES) about this, since he too shares a love of all things Rod Serling. In our “chat”, the importance of story and writing comes to the forefront. I don’t care how spectacular the visuals are, if you do not have the bedrock of great writing in place, you have nothing more than bright flickering lights.

That is what has struck me about FALLING SKIES. As you view it, there are so many nuances in the show and all of these nuances are well-thought out in the script and executed by the cast. Many of these are overt, many of them are under the surface, and many may be conclusions I’ve drawn based on past movies and shows. The intelligence of the writing allows for entire episodes like SANCTUARY PART 2 to unfold without ever showing a gooey alien. That is my favorite episode.

To go along with this, TNT TV has partnered with KLOUT to work out a social media campaign to drive conversation and promotion of FALLING SKIES through Twitter. This involves that hashtag that you’ve seen: #fsincentivized. This allows for tracking of tweets and is attached to an ARMY OF INFLUENCE LEADERBOARD. The Top Person at the end of Season One wins a walk on role for Season Two.

In addition, each week, items have been delivered to advance the story. These SURVIVAL KITS were sent to a limited number of people for this effort. I’ve had a blast doing it because I get to talk a lot, but also because I get to learn more about these social media campaigns and hopefully find a way to use my now limited abilities to get involved in these as a profession.

The top prize would be cool, but I’m having a blast talking with new friends like Hokuboku, NZRobFL. Sookietex, kimmyxoxo, DieselBT, jgraziani, Gizmotastic, and many more, plus cast members MphoAK, RVRocket, ConnorJessup, CunninghamColin, PeterShinkoda, TheStevenWeber, and others. In case you haven’t guessed, these are their Twitter names but these are also how I know them and love talking with them.

So, there is a brief reason why Skitters, Mechs, and harnessed kids are in my time line, along with the Phillies, Flyers, politics, sports, music, etc. And judging from the fun I am having with my new friends, I cannot wait to bring the rest of you into the 2nd Mass Resistance


FALLING SKIES: Ep. 8 What Lies Beneath

FALLING SKIES: Ep. 7 Sanctuary PT. 2


FALLING SKIES: EP. 6 Sanctuary Pt. 1

FALLING SKIES: Ep. 5 Silent Kill

FALLING SKIES: Silly Questions

FALLING SKIES: Separated at Birth


FALLING SKIES: Ep. 3 Prisoners Of War

FALLING SKIES: Ep. 1-2 Premiere

Hope you enjoy them all.