Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music

Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Subtle Changes To My Blog

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 2, 2018

Hi All,

I haven’t written a new blog post since the last one, but I’ve been working on updating my blog. I was nosing around some of my PAGES (as opposed to Posts) and was horrified at how out of date some of the information was. For instance, my beloved wife of five years was still listed as my “girlfriend!” Geez. That’s bad. So, I spent some time updating some of my sections, and I thought I would key in any of you who might be interesting in seeing or reading over the changes.

First of all, I changed the About section at the top (upper left) section of the page. While I retained some of the older material, I both updated it (from one cat to two) and added some newer relevant material (entrepreneur, audiophile, etc.). So, if you want an updated bio to find out where I’m at these days, there you have it.

I also added some books to my Favorite Books section. Two new novels, one new work of nonfiction, five new science fiction novels, and one I call a “Straggler,” that doesn’t fit anywhere else. I don’t have links for all of these books to Goodreads or Amazon, and maybe I should, and I really don’t think I have the time to do so, but it’s a good idea I just thought of, but in the meantime, there are some good books listed there that might appeal to a lot of people, so feel free to check them out.

One of the biggest changes I made was to my Find Me Here section. First of all, some of the websites and social media sites were outdated to the point of no longer existing, so I had to make some edits. Secondly, I had sites listed followed by hyperlinks. So 2013. I thought why not make the site words themselves the hyperlinks? That’s only the obvious thing to do. So that’s what I did! Check that page out, please!!! You’ll notice two Instagrams and two Twitters. That’s because I have an individual account for each and a music business site for each. They’re both listed separately to make it easy to know which you’d be accessing. I have 13 links/sites listed there at the moment, and while there are more I may add in the near future, I thought that was a good place to start. And I need followers on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter music business pages, so please feel free to drop by and follow me in those places. Also, feel free to make recommendations or requests, because I’m totally open to all.

Next, I briefly updated my Penguins Fan Page, although not by much. It essentially takes you to my website, to my Pens fan page there, but it also admits that it’s not up to date, and that I want and need to update it, and I plan to as soon as I find the time. Not too much there, and I won’t blame you if you don’t feel like visiting that page, although I’d be grateful if you would, obviously.

Finally, as far as my PAGES went, I made substantial changes to the My Sports Teams page. I made a lot of additions, with links to all of the teams I follow. I added an MLB team, three NCAA football “teams of interest,” two NCAA men’s basketball teams, a second women’s basketball team, a second women’s softball team, a second women’s volleyball team, and two NFL “teams of interest” as well. All in all, there are 25 teams listed for 10 sports, ranging from high school to college to the pros. If you enjoy sports at all, by all means, check that page out and feel free to leave comments!

Okay. Those are the changes I made to my PAGES at the top of my blog. But I didn’t stop there. I made more changes to the lists and widgets on either side of my main blog wall. On the left, I changed my Twitter feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak. So too, I changed the Instagram feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak also.

On the right side of my blog, I deleted some obsolete blogs in the Blogroll, added a couple of Bookstores, and made some significant changes to the Music section, where I deleted over a half dozen groups, such as Hungry Lucy and Unto Ashes, while adding over a dozen new groups, such as KMFDM, Rammstein, Pet Shop Boys, Within Temptation, Flora Purim, Neal Schon and others, AND I added a number of audio companies, largely audiophile-quality companies for those interested in such things, such as Bryston, Klipsch, Pro-Ject, Krell, Rega, and others. If you’re willing to spend the money, you can find anything from affordable entry level audiophile-quality turntables from Pro-Ject for $500 to Bryston amps for $6,500 to a Rega RP-10 turntable for $7,000 all the way to the new McIntosh XRT2.1K loudspeaker system for a small, little $130,000/pair. Yeah, you read that right. But hey, if you’re a REAL audiophile, you find ways to feed your obsession, right? Heh. Finally, I added a new section called Boutique Computers, listing some of my favorite custom designed and built computers and the companies that make them beneath the heading. It’s a long story and the subject for a blog post some time, but suffice it to say that after experiencing some unexpected tech disasters in the spring of 2017, I decided to go high end with the idea of very high end for a very long time with the goal of expandability, so I had a “boutique” computer custom built for me, realized I had been short sighted and that it wasn’t sufficiently expandable, returned it, had another with 34 drive bays started being built by the same company, but work on it got bogged down, I grew impatient with what I viewed as their ineptitude, so I cancelled our contract, and I went elsewhere. I ended up with a Xidax X-8 Glacier, the specs of which are pretty awesome. I could have gone even more awesome, and maxed out some rigs to see how much it would cost to go uber awesome. The Falcon Northwest Mach V maxed out at $24,000 while the Digital Storm Aventum was just about $30,000! For a tricked out PC. One that would still be tricked out five years from now. But the Xidax I got cost a great deal less and will still be a quality computer five years from now and has enough storage capacity to last me at least 10 years or more, and that’s what I was looking for after a quality processor and quality GPUs. Anyway, like I said, a story for a different blog post….

And I guess that’s about it. For now. Next, I’m going to have to write another “real” blog post, eh? I’ll try to do so sooner than it took me last time. By the way, in my last post, I mentioned that I have seven online shops at the moment, although I’m trying to close two of them. I’m also considering opening my own e-commerce-based website, my own shop, and shutting down all but one of these shops (because this one, on an audiophile site, gives me lots of sales), but that would be a major commitment, both in time and money, and I’d lose the global audience that’s built into some of these sites for the uncertainty of people not ever knowing about or ever finding my own new site. So, it’s a bit of a gamble. But I wouldn’t have to pay all of these fees for transactions, I wouldn’t get banned from listing items because I’ve allegedly listed “too many” of a certain type — when I’ve never listed ANY of that type before! — I’d have complete control over my inventory and pricing, my marketing and promotion, and my social media sites could all point to my website instead of my Facebook site — which has not translated into sales at all — and ideally, if I could get people to jump to a “landing page” on my site and enter their email for a discount or a promotion of some sort, I’d be able to send out email newsletters on a semi-regular basis, maybe weekly or bi-weekly, offering both tips and promotions, which is what you’re supposed to be doing to get sales, according to all the data. So, if anyone reading this has any opinion on this gamble, I’d love to hear it. I think longterm, the good outweighs the bad, but upfront, it would be a massive timesuck, a hell of a commitment, and I’d have to work very hard to get people to notice this site. But it couldn’t be any worse than several shops I have right now, so I don’t see what I have to lose in that regard. I really only have 2-3 sites where I’m selling anything, really only two, and I’d be glad to dump the rest in exchange for full control over my own inventory, pricing, shipping, listings, promotions, everything. Lemme know your thoughts and thanks!

Okay, have a great weekend everyone. Cheers!

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An Overdue Overall Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2017


Hi. Last day of 2017 and I’ve blogged almost nothing at all this year. I regret that, but it’s been the toughest year, toughest two years, of my life and I haven’t had the ability to blog or even write book reviews like I once did. I started an “Update” blog about 6-7 weeks ago, but never got very far, and have been horribly ill for a week, and don’t have the strength to finish it, but I’m determined to write a blog post for 2017. I’m including what I had gotten done last month at the bottom of this post, but am just going to give a brief synopsis here to let those of you still reading this blog know I’m still alive.

2016: I had 8 minor surgeries, most on my back. I had at least 33 tests and procedures that were diagnostic tests for my stomach ailments alone, the final result being I was ultimately tested for the rarest of diseases into 2017 with no results, leaving the doctors to discard me and wish me the best. I also had at least two strokes in the fall, the second of which was pretty major and continues to impact me to the present. Before the strokes, I had lost the ability to drive, and became largely homebound except for 2-3 medical appointments a week, every week, for which I took either a city disabled van or taxis. I had to start walking with a cane in late spring. The strokes impacted me in various ways, as my memory started to fail, and I lost my balance and coordination, resulting in numerous, regular falls. I was also on 3 of the 5 strongest pain medications in the world, whose side effects messed me up, but none of which really helped me. I stopped responding to virtually all pain medications of any type around November 2015.

2017: This year, I’ve only had two minor surgeries for my back, both failures. I was scheduled for a third, but the surgeon refused to do it, saying it’d be useless. Gretchen and I later met with the chief surgeon who said even a major surgery would not only be ineffective, but counterproductive, and he refused to perform any. He recommended as my only realistic hope an experimental and dangerous brain surgery that is hard to find and obtain. More on that in a minute. Before that, I started to experience more falls and greater memory impairment and even total memory loss, progressively, day by day. We explored getting me a home health aide, part time, but can’t afford one. I’m now wearing one of those fall alert pendants. Gretchen’s worried she’s going to come home from work and find me at the bottom of the stairs with a broken neck. I started having bizarre “episodes” — don’t know what else to call them — beginning March 31, in which I woke up and started wandering around the house at 3 AM, disoriented and unable to control myself, resulting in 15 falls, the last of which Gretchen witnessed as I tripped in the dining room and fell face and head first onto our hardwood floors, breaking my nose, knocking me out, and busting the hell out of my head. The pain in my head was unreal. I didn’t care about the nose or anything else. I refused to go to the hospital, even though four paramedics were there when I regained consciousness, working on me, and trying to convince me to go to the hospital. I don’t go to ERs. I had a horrible experience in early 2016 and vowed to die at home with dignity than go back to another damn ER. I tried to get a CT or MRI for 10 days, but no one would refer me for one without my going to the ER. Finally, on the 11th day, I went, had a CT scan, was told I had a severe, probable long term concussion, had possibly experienced some brain damage, and that was a joy. According to multiple doctors, I had already experienced brain damage with each of my strokes. My nose bled 24×7 from then into June, and the incident screwed up my neck and back, forcing me into home healthcare PT. My memory impairment and losses became much worse from that point on. I experienced more “episodes” like these in August and September, and have watched my memory deteriorate badly, as well as seeing my forgetfulness increase exponentially. It was about two months ago when this orthopedic surgeon stated I need Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, which has a 4% mortality rate, and which is available for Intractable Chronic Pain possibly only at Mayo and the Cleveland Clinic. One of my doctors put me on a supplement for memory loss/retention two months ago, and earlier this month, my neurologist put me on a hard core medication for severe dementia and Alzheimer’s, while allowing it’s possible I may be in the early stages on Early Onset Dementia. I am 51. I no longer expect to live to see, say, 54. And this drug he put me on has caused a very serious adverse reaction, or reactions, so that over the past week to week and a half, the symptoms have been so bad, I’ve honestly felt I was going to die several times, and today is the first day I’ve had the energy and wits to actually get online and do anything. I’ve simply been lying here trying to survive during one of the most hellish and painful weeks of my life, sick to death.

After those two depressing paragraphs, there were other things that happened in my life. In 2016, Gretchen and I created a startup that I poured myself into far more than I should have and it badly impacted my health. We decided, due to having to delay opening for business indefinitely while suffering tremendous costs and state taxes, to start to shut things down this fall, and I’m still trying to tie up loose ends, as I’m able to. Additionally, both Gretchen and I have started new side businesses, just to see how they’ll do, part time. Just really getting underway, but who knows? Gretchen’s oldest son was married last month in Maryland, so we made a long car trip to the wedding, which was lovely, but it was hard on me. Still, it would have taken a lot to make me miss that, although we didn’t decide I would actually go until the last minute. It was touch and go. Nonetheless, it was a joyous occasion. It was also good to see the rest of her family and meet some new in-laws.

Gretchen is busting her ass holding down the fort, working full time, having to do all of the errands and chores I once did when I was mobile and more able, and still find time for her side projects and to look after me. She stays very busy. And as limited as I am, I stay busier than I want to, mostly with technological projects that would take too long to go into. I’m worn out now. Sorry. I wrote more than I intended, but I just wanted to say I haven’t forgotten you folks out there, and I miss interacting with you, and if my health ever improves sufficiently, I’d like to resume blogging and book reviewing, but I have no idea if or when that will be. I hope everyone has been doing well, has had a good holiday season, and here’s to a good 2018 for all of us. Cheers!

— Scott



Hi! I don’t even know where to begin. I haven’t posted a “real” blog post in nearly a year. It’s kind of stunning, because I’ve been blogging since 2003 and used to every day, but the past year and a half have worn me down until I no longer had the strength, energy, physical or mental abilities to continue doing so, and had to call a halt to it.

Lessee, for the past 3.5 years, my health has been unbelievably bad. Most of you know I have Trigeminal Neuralgia Type 2, a very rare, very, very rare, extremely painful head and facial pain disease, considered the most painful disease in the world, typically referred to as “The Suicide Disease.” I also have three other head pain disorders, including Cluster Headaches, which are also known as one of the most painful disorders in the world, and which I’ve also seen described as “the Suicide Disease” in some sources.

After having had a nice little break from that, my head and facial pain came back with a vengeance in the summer of 2014, but this time bilateral, which is unusual. I immediately had three minor brain surgical procedures, but I told my doctors they wouldn’t help, as this pain was different. I was right. Then, in early 2015, my back started giving me real problems again. Serious pain to match my head’s serious pain. I’ve had back problems on and off for six years, but like my head, it had been off for a couple of years, and this was an unpleasant surprise. I went back to my orthopedist and started seeing a rheumatologist, who told me I had “massive” amounts of osteoarthritis throughout my body and would need two hip replacement surgeries at some point in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, my orthopedist told me my DDD had gotten much worse, and I had other problems in my back as well, which I knew — spinal stenosis, a broken tailbone, nerve damage, etc. She sent me ultimately for six months of PT, but it didn’t help at all. In February 2015, sick of being far too overweight, I went on a massive low carb diet, ultimately averaging 6 carbs, then down to 4 carbs, per meal per day. I lost weight and it felt good. However, and I do think this was coincidental, about four months later, I started developing stomach problems that developed into a nightmare. At first it was just gas after meals, but then it was joined by nausea, and progressively advancing, stomach pain — incredibly severe stomach pain. So severe, it easily matched my back and head pain, each of which were at least a 10 on a 1-10 scale every day without a break. This happened over a period of months though, so I had no idea it would get so bad.

I suffered through the remainder of 2015, still losing weight from my diet, but my stomach was causing me to lose my appetite, along with my stomach shrinking from my diet. My back didn’t improve, my head didn’t improve. I had a new neurologist, who was trying things like Botox and steroid injections, as well as Trigeminal nerve blocks, but nothing helped. By November 2015, I stopped responding to virtually all pain medications, both OTC and prescription, with one exception that helped me so little, it was almost a non-issue. In January 2016, after two months of bugging her, my pain doctor put me on a new, much stronger pain medication with another strong pain medication to take for “break through” pain. The new ones had lethal side effects. I’m not joking. I had to be really careful about how and when I took them. And when I took the other one in conjunction with the first one. But they, too, didn’t really help, and their side effects seriously fucked me up in the worst way. I complained about both the low dose of the main one and the break through pain med, but my dose on the ER medication was not increased. The new IR literally almost killed me. Taking both, and a third to boot, almost killed me. Several times, I basically lost the ability to breathe and my tongue swelled up so much, it largely cut off my breathing passageways. Another time, I became paralyzed from the chest down, and Gretchen had to lie me down — I had been standing — where I lay for a couple of hours until it wore off. I thought it was going to kill me then for sure. Backing up a moment, in December 2015, I also lost the ability to eat. It’s hard to explain. I couldn’t eat, didn’t want to eat, got sick at the thought of eating. I’d go 3, 5, 7 days without eating anything, then take a couple bites of rice and a bite of chicken, and go vomit. I was nauseous when dinner was being made. My diet was thrown away; I now had some form of eating disorder, for all intents and purposes. I lost about 150 pounds…

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My Fifth WordPress Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 26, 2016

WordPress was kind enough to notify me a few days ago, on the 20th, that it was my my fifth anniversary with them, blogging away the whole time. It’s hard to believe. I had come over from Xanga, a blogging site I had been on since 2004 and one I loved desperately. It’s just that friends were leaving that site in droves — I didn’t know why, no one told me — and I felt like the site was going to hell, so while I didn’t delete my Xanga account, I started searching for a new blogging home. I had friends on this place, Blogger, and TypePad, but it was WordPress that really stood out for me, and besides, this online literary journal I had recently become poetry editor for had an account here, so I decided to open my new site here. I did and never looked back. My first posts were unusual and designed to introduce myself to new people, let people get to know me. I didn’t start writing book reviews until about three years ago or so. I wrote about writing, creative writing, sports, health, politics, publishing, published some memes, some lists of favorite books, songs, bands, etc., had quite a few posts which weren’t easy to categorize, etc. But then I started to find my niche with my book reviews, which, much to my surprise, became my blog posts with the most hits by far, as well as the most likes, and even the most comments, when I got any, which is rare. Since then, most of my posts have been book reviews — I published hundreds — interspersed with some sports posts, the occasional political or spiritual/religious post, an occasional creative writing post, some health posts, and a few others that are hard to categorize. But it’s the book reviews that people read. I’ve tried to figure that out but I guess it’s as simple as that’s what people want to read. That simple, right?

Well, anyway, in honor of my fifth anniversary on WordPress, I’m going to provide a link to my blog post from five years ago today: 20 Questions. I hope some of you find it interesting and enlightening. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m just going to post the whole blog post here. It’s short and probably easier than having to click on the link and go to another page. Remember, this is from June 26, 2011. Here it is:


20 Questions

Delete my answers and substitute your own. Enjoy!

I’ve come to realize that… I have taken far too many things for granted in my life, even when I thought I was not doing that. It’s a tragedy & I’m trying to remedy that.
Reconciliation is… ideal, but not always realistic. This is exactly the opposite of how I have felt my entire life, but I have wasted way too much time over the years trying to reconcile (or even simply remain on the same friendly terms…) with various people for various reasons and I can count on one hand quite easily the number of times it was worth the effort. Move on.
I talk… more than ever, if you can believe that. I have a lot to say. I spent the last 7+ years living with someone who really didn’t like to hear me talk much, but who preferred watching TV. Like 24/7. For years. Yeah, good times. I’ve got a lot to say and a lot stored up, so sorry….
I love… one special individual more than anyone I ever have at any time in my life, to a shockingly higher degree than I ever knew was even possible. Yeah, I admit it. I also dearly love my parents, my kitties, and several of my good friends who have stood by me over the years. My list of friends I “love” has diminished greatly over the past two years. Pity.
My best friend/s… are fewer than I thought in number, but are critically important to me and people I feel confident I’ll remain loyal to forever and who will be there for me forever. I’m blessed in this regard.
Love… is a newly important word to me, as most of my life it was largely an abstract concept, outside of my loving family. In my middle years, I have been blessed to discover what I now believe “love” is and is meant to be, and I had no freakin’ idea this was a possibility.
Marriage is… hit and miss. Usually a mistake. Usually entered into too soon and without sufficient forethought. A business partnership. Yeah, I’m jaded.
Somewhere, someone is thinking… “I wonder what that whining, bitchy drama queen Scott is going on about now.” Seriously. You think I’m joking….
I’ll always… remember times, places and the special people who have gone out of their way to save my ass in the biggest and worst of situations. Foremost among these are my parents and my best friend, Marcy. Emily, Jim & Eunice, Arnold & Sarah, and Ami have been there for me too. Many thanks.
I truly relax… nowhere. I stopped being able to relax years ago and now I no longer know how to, which is pathetic, and I even feel tremendous guilt if I even make an attempt to relax! Therapy is clearly in order.
My cell phone… is my life. I store everything in my iPhone. I’m not kidding. If that ever disappears, I’m more screwed than if my wallet disappears.
When I wake up in the morning… I now thank God for allowing me to see the sun rise once more, to be able to draw a breath, to have friends and family (and kitties) who love me. I no longer take these things for granted.
Before I go to bed… I talk to my special loved one for as long as possible in order to end each day on a positive, loving and blessed note.
Right now I am thinking… that I have a lot more to be grateful for than I – or most other people – would typically realize, looking at circumstances.
Babies… make me break out in hives. I’m horribly allergic to them. Always have been, always will be. I find them quite distressing.
I am committed to… doing everything possible to survive. And to love and live more strongly and sincerely than I ever have in my life before now.
I miss… my cat Rocky, who died in August 2007. I also miss seeing and hanging with my best friends back out west, including Marcy, Celeste, Marc, Emily and Rachel.
Tomorrow… is a hope and a goal, but not a guarantee.
I really want to be… healthy enough to live long enough to have a quasi-“normal” life and a happy one, to whatever degree that is possible.
I hate… people who don’t understand and who don’t even try to make a serious damn effort to understand.

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Switching Domains

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 4, 2016

I’m considering switching blog domains because I’m sick to death of all of the disgusting ads WordPress has been littering my blog pages with. I know why they are doing it and it’s working. They want me to upgrade from free to a paying premium account and that’s exactly what I’m probably going to do. I don’t intend to leave WordPress. I used to be on Xanga for a decade or more, but that’s a thing of the past. I have a book review blog on Blogger, but I’m unimpressed with that blogging site, so I have no interest in migrating there. Don’t care at all for Tumbler. Don’t like Typepad either. I’ve looked at a couple of others over the past several months, but WordPress seems like the only viable option for me and since I’ve been blogging here since June 2011, it would be a hassle to leave. So I’ll most likely upgrade to premium. Which means I’ll have a new domain name, one without “wordpress.com” in it. I assume it will be something like “hankrules2011.com,” unless for some strange reason that one is already taken, but I can’t imagine it is. Anyway, if for some reason you attempt to locate this site and cannot and if this site does not redirect you automatically to the new site in the next day or so, hopefully you will have read this and will be on the lookout for it. Just a heads up to save us all from those damn awful ads. Cheers!

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End of the Year Post 2015

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2015

I wrote this blog post quite early this morning and didn’t post it. I wasn’t sure about it. Since then, I’ve reread it twice and have had second thoughts about posting it. I usually post an End of Year post on the last day of the year, but this one is too depressing, too negative. I don’t think I want to be a downer for my readers. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to post it after all, although I’m not sure it’s a great idea. It does, however, describe my year, which is my intent. If you’re not interested in reading a depressing or negative post, feel free to skip this one. No hard feelings. If you’re interested at all, feel free to read it though. Hopefully 2016 will be better for me/us and hopefully all of you will have a good 2016. Happy New Year!


On the last day of each year, I write a year in review post. Here are the links to the 2014 Year in Review blog post and the 2012 End of the Year blog post. I had a lot going on in both years. If you read them, you’ll note I had some health problems, particularly last year. Well, I’m about to write an abbreviated post for 2015. It’s abbreviated because this year was largely a personal disaster due to hideous, nightmarish health and pain problems and I/we didn’t really get to do very much at all.

In January, my mother celebrated her 85th birthday. Although she’s had a couple of bad falls this year with broken bones, she still is relatively good health and living alone in a condo in Knoxville, TN.

In February, I developed severe back pain to accompany my head and facial pain, out of the blue. It took time, but over the course of the year, I sought treatment from my orthopedist and a rheumatologist, as well as physical therapists. It seems I have spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, massive osteo-arthritis throughout my entire body, and a broken tailbone. They’re recommending surgery to remove my tailbone, probable spinal fusion surgery, and down the road, two hip replacement surgeries. My pain has been at about a 9.6 out of 10 level every day this year and virtually no pain medication helps.

About the same time, my head pain increased and got worse. My Trigeminal Neuralgia was joined by at least one, perhaps two, other types of head pain, which I have been trying to have diagnosed and treated all year, with little help. My two types of head and facial pain have been at a 9.6 out of 10 level every day, virtually all day all year long with virtually no relief from any pain medication. Any pain medication that used to be helpful is no longer useful. I now have three new diagnoses for additional types of head pain disorders, all three of which can be extremely painful, one of which is supposed to be the most painful condition known to mankind. I don’t know. My wife and I are convinced there’s another undiagnosed condition that has yet to be treated, since I’m responding to no treatment.

Since this spring, my longtime insomnia has worsened. I am averaging about three hours of sleep a night and am now, in fact, waking up and getting up between 11 PM and 12:30 AM. It sounds insane, but it’s true. That means I go to bed early, but I still get only two to three hours of sleep. I also can no longer successfully nap. I started falling asleep at red lights while out driving, and in chairs sitting up, and at doctor’s offices, and at church dinners, and my wife and I suspect I may have narcolepsy so I have an appointment with my sleep doctor in a few weeks to discuss this.

During the spring, somehow I was able to get to some of the concerts I was able to buy tickets for 2014 Christmas for my wife. Because of my health problems, we unfortunately had to blow some off and waste that money, but we did get to see Lewis Black, Weird Al Yankovic, The Who (which was awesome), and Barry Manilow, which was pretty much the highlight of my wife’s life. We blew tickets to Chicago and a Pittsburgh Penguins game. Oh well. We had good times.

In April, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. It was pretty low key. It feels like we’ve been together for so much longer than that. We have a wonderful relationship and I’m very lucky to have Gretchen for a wife and best friend. April is also Gretchen’s birthday and so that was pleasant, although she’s not thrilled about getting older. I keep telling her she looks and acts infinitely younger than she is, looks at least 10 years younger than other women her age. I think she knows that intellectually, but still is annoyed with aging. I think she’s still sexy as hell. She always will be.

In July, I started going to a new neurologist who I didn’t like personally very much, but who, to his credit, did try some new things. He’s an egomaniac, but then many doctors are, I suppose. He’s given me a couple of Botox injection treatments so far and has tried a number of new medications on me, none of which have helped, but at least he’s trying.

Also, in July my head pain got even worse, if possible. Since I’m up 21 hours a day on average, it became 21 hours of pain a day, every day, without break. At a near 10 out of 10 scale, which combined with my back pain made life nearly unendurable. I applied to get into Vanderbilt’s Neurology Headache Clinic, which has a good reputation, thinking that after nearly six years of treatment in Chattanooga and only getting worse, I need to go elsewhere if I’m going to get better. July was also the second anniversary of my father’s death. It was a sad occasion.

I had my birthday in September. I suppose it was low key, as I remember nothing about it. This fall has been largely a blur, due to my pain status. I’ve been super focused, while also at the same time, largely oblivious. If that makes any sense. I particularly enjoy September and October because of sports. You have college football, the NFL, baseball, hockey just starting, college basketball just around the corner. It’s pretty awesome. I enjoyed watching my Pirates make the playoffs for the third straight year, watching my Tennessee Vols have a frustrating but ultimately successful 8-4 bowl year and my UCLA team have a winning bowl year, my Steelers have a injury-plagued year in which they still have a minor chance of making the playoffs and the hockey season, in which we paid for a year of NHL Gamecenter Live, in which you can watch any game you want – not on national TV – live for a one time set price. So I get to watch my Penguins quite often. If only they were playing up to their expectations and potential. It’s been disappointing so far. Of course, the UT Lady Vols are doing well so far, but they’ve had so many injuries, they’ve only been able to dress seven players lately, so it’s only a matter of time until they start losing many games and the men’s Vols basketball team has a great new coach, but not much talent while my Long Beach State team is having a rough year getting beat up by major teams like Duke.

In October, I finally got to go to Vandy. I was instructed to bring my medical records, so I spent two weeks and hundreds of my own dollars getting them, Gretchen took a vacation day, we drove six hours two ways, went to Nashville and met with a doctor who didn’t even want to look at my records, said they weren’t important, didn’t want to discuss my background with me, spent perhaps 15-20 minutes with me, prescribed a useless migraine medication for me, said I needed Botox immediately (so they scheduled me for three and a half months away) and, when Gretchen asked if we couldn’t just get this done in Chattanooga, reacted angrily and said it had to be done there. We left pretty ticked off at what waste of time and effort that was. I haven’t canceled my next appointment there yet, but I will. There’s no point in going. Meanwhile, my mom has stepped up to the plate and said she’ll pay for me to go anywhere to help get me fixed, cured, whatever. So, I’ve been researching Mayo, Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA, etc. So far, Johns Hopkins would be convenient because that’s where Gretchen’s family lives, but Mayo seems most impressive by far. I’m not going to pursue it just yet though. Want to exhaust things here in town first.

In November, we traveled to Maryland to visit Gretchen’s parents, sons, and friends. It was a difficult trip for me health wise, but she had been wanting to go for months and we hadn’t been up there for a year and a half, so it was time. And we had a good time over Thanksgiving. It was good to see everyone. We also celebrated our one year anniversary of getting our kitten, Ace, who has become Gretchen’s baby. He’s now about 16 months old, and Henry just turned 10 years old, which is unreal because I can remember when he was just a month old, but they get along much better now and Ace is calming down a little bit finally. But just a little bit. Ace is also the most social, codependent cat I’ve ever seen in my whole life! He needs to be with people like nothing I’ve ever seen. He needs to be held. When we went to Maryland, we hired petsitters to come to the house twice a day to help mostly Ace. Henry is pretty independent and I’ve left him by himself for a good three days or so, but Ace couldn’t take even one day, I’m sure. It’s kind of sad. Cute, but sad. Nonetheless, we love them both and they add to our lives tremendously.

This month, we celebrated our five year anniversary of when we started dating. That’s always an exciting occasion for us and fun to remember. We also had a very subdued Christmas, which was somewhat anticlimactic. My pain was so severe and I was on so much pain medication, it was virtually impossible for me to function at all. My mother drove down from Knoxville to be with us on Christmas day and we exchanged a few gifts, nothing like last year. We couldn’t put up our tree this year like we’ve done in the past because of Ace. He goes wild. We put up a mini-tree we bought, with some lights and ornaments. That was destroyed the first night. We put up an old ceramic tree with plastic lights I’ve had for decades, but Gretchen thought better of it, so she got a little wooden tree with a string of lights and that was our tree. We didn’t even put presents out until the night before because Ace would destroy them. We try to control him, but we really can’t.

One year-long note. Early this year I was forced to drop my Obamacare and start using my Medicare I got last year when I went on disability. I had no idea how that would change my life. It’s been a nightmare. Medicare Part D is a freaking nightmare from hell! With Obamacare and BCBS, my monthly medical bills came to roughly $400 a month. With Medicare, I was quickly paying up to as much as $2,800 a month in medical bills, almost all of it prescriptions. One of my prescriptions alone had a co-pay of $800! That’s fucking insane! That total is more than double my disability check. How the hell am I supposed to pay for that? And I have no choice. As long as I’m on disability – and there’s no way I can work – I have to be on Medicare and as long as I’m on Medicare, I’m stuck paying thousands a month for medical/prescription bills. It’s unfair and cruel and I resent it like hell. It’s practically ruined my life even more. Thanks for the added stress, government. Thanks for practically bankrupting me. Appreciate it.

Well, I guess that’s about it for 2015. It was truly a horrible year. Probably worse than 2011, perhaps. I don’t know that 2016 will be any better, but I’m hoping it will be because we intend to aggressively pursue medical treatments for my back and head and solutions and ways to diminish and end my pain. I don’t know if that’s possible or reasonable, but dammit, we’ve got to try. My wife, meanwhile, has her good job, although without insurance, and Obamacare just doubled her premium, so we can no longer afford it, so that’s just great. So she’s actually thinking about looking for a new job next year, which would mean leaving her nice, cushy job that’s so great otherwise. Pity. I hope anyone reading this has a pleasant New Year and a wonderful 2016. Cheers!


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Annual WordPress Report

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 30, 2015

Here are my 2015 WordPress blog statistics. Some interesting things. Thanks to all of you who have visited my site and who have commented as well. I hope to see you in 2016!



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My First WP Post Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 20, 2015

Today is my fourth anniversary of my first WordPress blog post! Yay! I migrated over from Xanga to WordPress, a little unsure of things, but eventually found my way around and the rest is history. I’m going to post my first post from June 20, 2011. It’s short.



Hello world!

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 20, 2011

Hi there! My name is Scott Holstad. I’ve been blogging on Xanga since February 2004, and while I am still there, I have decided to try a new, different blog over here on WordPress.

Let’s see … what should I say about myself? I was born in Boston and have lived in several states and two countries. I have moved roughly 26 times. My favorite place I have lived has been Los Angeles. I’m now living in the Chattanooga TN area. (I moved up here from an island I was living on. By the beach. Across the street from the bar I frequented every night. Sweet living. Good times….)

I’m a professional student and teacher. Thirteen years of college at six academic institutions, resulting in three (underused) degrees. Taught at three academic institutions.

More importantly, I’m a professional writer and editor, with decades of experience to my credit. I have experience in the newspaper, magazine (print and online), and book publishing industries. While I have authored 15 published poetry collections over the years, I have generally supported myself through technical writing and editing, project and program management, and consulting.

I am currently serving as the poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review, an excellent online literary journal founded by a fantastic fiction writer named Chris Duncan. He is also serving as the fiction editor. Please stop by the site and read. If inspired to do so, submit as well. We’re eager and open to submissions.

I guess that’s enough for now. If anyone stumbles across my new blog and wants to say hi, please leave some comment telling me about yourself. It’d be greatly appreciated. Cheers!


There! That was it. Not very impressive, was it? Still, my first effort. My first effort on Xanga back in 2004 was even worse. My next effort was better. I might reprint that in another day or so. Thanks for reading.

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A Review of The Veteran

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 18, 2015

First of all, I want to mention that this is my 500th blog post here on WordPress. That’s a lot. Thanks to all of you who have been reading me all this time. I guess I’ll continue on. Next….

The VeteranThe Veteran by Frederick Forsyth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Veteran is a book of five longish short stories by Forsyth, some of which are quite good, some of which are less so. Nearly all of them have somewhat surprising plot twists toward the end which give the reader a pretty good jolt.

The first story, “The Veteran,” is about the murder of an unidentified old man by two young thugs. The police search everywhere for his identity, but to no avail. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the best defense lawyer in London takes these thugs on and wins their case. Then … plot twist.

The second story, “The Art of the Matter,” is a delightful and heavily researched story on the art world and how a young art professional at an auction house gets royally screwed by a big wig there and his story of ultimate revenge. It’s pretty sweet.

The third story, “The Miracle,” is about an American tourist couple in Italy who happen upon an Italian of German origin in a town there who tells them a miraculous story, only to have, ta dah, a plot twist at the end. *** SPOILER ALERT *** I don’t view this story as plausible after thinking about it though. To think that this man and his accomplice could set up their scam in a specific courtyard out of the way in this town and just expect suckers, like these tourists, to happen along and listen to a lengthy tale, only to give up their cash, is beyond belief. Just not realistic.

The fourth story, “The Citizen,” is about drug running, with a mega plot twist at the end.

The final story, “Whispering Wind,” is the one everyone raves about. Everyone seems to love it. I hated it. I couldn’t stand it. It’s novella length and I just couldn’t finish the final 50 pages. I gave up. I was so bored. The story is about the life of the only white man to survive Custer’s last stand, and you would think, interesting premise, right, especially as written by an upper class Englishman. But Custer hardly appears in this story and it turns into a fantasy story, and I hardly view Forsyth as a master of fantasy. Stick to the spy/thriller genre, Mr. Forsyth. Please. I hated this story.

All of this said, it’s a pretty solid book and if you’re a fan, you must read it. If you’ve never read any of his work, this really isn’t representative of most of his work, but it’s not bad. Somewhat recommended.

View all my reviews

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Posted by Scott Holstad on February 18, 2015

Before I launch into today’s post, I want to acknowledge my last post and what happened with that. In my last post, I whined pretty pathetically about not getting comments or likes from my 406 followers. So I was stunned to get tons of comments AND likes on this post, most all of them from people who didn’t follow me! Including my own responses to various comments, there were 73 comments and dozens of likes on this post. And not too many took me to task. Most made the point that I needed to be more interactive in order to gain comments, as in I needed to make the rounds of other blogs and make more comments myself in order to get people to my site. And that’s probably true. So point taken. I shall try to do that. It was also nice to hear from some other ex-Xangans. And instead of offending followers and losing bunches of them, I actually gained some new ones. Bizarre! I wondered how people found my post. Apparently several people found it, somehow, and re-blogged it and people found it that way. I’m not sure why they felt compelled to re-blog it, but there you have it. So that’s the story. Thanks.

OK, so today is our beloved late cat Toby’s one year anniversary of his death. We still sometimes can’t believe he’s gone. We still miss him so much. We still feel like he was cheated out of a good life. You may remember that he was only six. That he died of kidney failure. That we had to have him “put to sleep,” which is a nice way of saying we had him killed. He had been getting sick and we were getting concerned. We took him to the vet as early as the preceding October. She put him on a special diet, but it was too little, too late. He really went downhill his last two weeks. It was really sad to see. During his last 24 hours, I thought he could be saved, as he had perked up a bit, so I took him home from the animal hospital and he seemed better, but that didn’t last long and he was obviously ill again within hours. So the next morning, I took him to the vet and my wife later told me she thought that would be the last time she’d ever see him. I can still remember him looking at me as they took him in his kennel into the back room. When they called me later to recommend euthanasia, I was devastated, but not horribly surprised. We had him cremated. We keep his jar of ashes next to my old cat, Rocky’s, ashes.

Toby used to like water. A lot. He liked to take showers with us. He’d drink out of the bath water with my wife every night. He’d get in the sink and drink out of the faucet every morning. He also used to like to get us up in the morning. It didn’t seem to matter that I have insomnia. He’d hang out with me in the office from 1 or 2 til 4 or 5 and then start wailing at the bedroom door, trying to get my wife up. I’d have to chase him up the hallway to try and quiet him down. He could also sleep with the best of them. Never met a cat that could relax so much. He really loved Gretchen’s Ravens blankie. He made it his own. He also loved shoes and loved sleeping with his face in them. I know — gross. Still, it was cute. He was a big cat — 22 pounds. He was tubby. He loved to eat. We’d put him on diets, but they never worked. Our other cat, Henry, is 15 pounds. Henry always let Toby eat first. Heh.

Toby died the week we were supposed to move. It was very stressful. We were moving from a crime-ridden neighborhood, to a nice peaceful neighborhood where we’d all be happier. We felt cheated that Toby never got to see the new house, never got to run around it, see the new neighborhood. Time went on. Meanwhile, Gretchen wanted a new pet, one to call her own since Henry is sort of my cat. He’s been with me since he was a tiny little kitten and often seems to favor me over others. It’s always been that way. Gretchen wavered between a dog and a cat and we went to adopt a dog one day, only to find it had already been adopted. We took that as a sign, so the day after Thanksgiving, we went to the local shelter and adopted a four month old tabby Gretchen named “Ace,” who’s a real cutie, albeit a crazed little monster who beats up on poor Henry constantly. Gretchen really seems to love him and I’ve even grown somewhat attached to him, although he’ll never take Toby’s place in my heart.

So I guess I’ve said enough. I just wanted to commemorate Toby today. It’s been a year since he died. That was an awful day. A lot has happened since then. We’re in a new house now, Toby. You would like it here. You’re sorely missed. RIP.

Toby and me

Toby and me











Toby on a scale

Toby on a scale











Toby in a scarf

Toby in a scarf












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Why Bother?

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 15, 2015

You know, I’m becoming pretty discouraged blogging here on WordPress. I used to blog on Xanga all the time for years. In fact, it is where I met my wife many years ago. And there was a real sense of community there. You looked forward to getting on Xanga to see what everyone was up to that day, what had been going on. That doesn’t happen on WordPress. At all. It’s a totally different format. And so I’ve adapted my blogging practices in an effort to change. But I’m afraid it’s been for no good cause.

As of right now, I have 406 followers here on WordPress. Not the most, by far, but still, a decent number. And you know how many hits my posts get? 20 or 30. How many likes? Three or four. My excellent blog post I wrote on our new floors complete with pictures got one the other day. WTF??? What the fuck is wrong with you people??? Two years ago, when I had half the followers, I was getting 10 or 11 likes, so what am I doing differently now to get no likes? And comments? My wife has commented on about a quarter of my 472 posts. Another blogger has commented on 50 posts. The next highest is 13. In four years. In four years of writing blogs, the third best I can do is 13 comments? WTF? I happen upon all of these blogs by all of these teeny bopper girlies who are self published and self important “authors” dispensing writing advice with hundreds of comments and I just shake my head in amazement. Now I’ll admit, I’m not a very good commenter on other people’s blogs, so I’m willing to cut some people some slack, but I almost never get comments.

So my question is, what the hell are you people doing? Why are you even following me if you’re not remotely interested in reading my posts, or liking them, or commenting about them? Why not do me a big favor and stop following me? In fact, after reading this post, I expect to see about half of you flee and I expect to lose followers in droves, or then again, maybe not. Since most of you don’t even see what I write, perhaps you won’t even see this post. I don’t know. And I’m not sure I care. However, just because I’m somewhat curious, I’m going to post a little poll and I challenge you to answer it just to give me some feedback so I know what’s going on. If you do, a big thanks to you.

  1. I read your posts somewhat regularly, but never feel inspired to like or comment on them.
  2. I read your posts somewhat irregularly, but never feel inspired to like or comment on them.
  3. I like your book reviews, but don’t feel compelled to comment on them.
  4. I don’t like your attitude.
  5. I don’t like or comment on anyone’s posts. Don’t feel so special.
  6. You don’t write enough non-book review posts.
  7. Other.

I don’t know what else to include. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to realize that I write about a lot of things. It seems to me that something would appeal to most everyone. Among the topics I’ve written about include book reviews, Christianity, creative writing, depression, family, health, hockey, life, music, NHL, Philip K. Dick, Pittsburgh Penguins, poetry, politics, publishing, religion, reviews, science fiction, sports, and writing. Surely there’s something there to interest most people, right? I guess not. Not if you go by my stats. Well, here’s to no one reading this post.

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