Someeethinng Yoou Shouuuuld Kknow Abbout Mee

Have you ever heard of an Essential Tremor?

I hadn’t, until mine presented at age 14. The frequency of it was a telltale sign to the doctor that it is a benign tremor: I do not have Parkinson’s Disease or any diseases (of which I know) that cause involuntary movement. In most people who inherit the genes responsible for this neurological movement disorder, the symptoms don’t present until around “mid-life”.

When you and I meet, you may notice my hands tremble when I pick up a cup of coffee or a pen. You might think I’m a drunk, coming off of a drinking binge, or on illicit/illegal/dangerous drugs. My graduate school director, Steve Masiclat, thought I had a coke problem until I started presenting quality work at which point he asked me what is up with my hands. I always appreciated Professor Masiclat’s straight honesty: if you don’t want to know what he thinks, don’t ask him! He’s a smart man, so his initially silent conclusions probably represent what others think, but don’t say.

A common exercise for people with ET to demonstrate their condition is to draw a spiral.


The tremor doesn’t show in my everyday printing. We find ways to adapt and compensate.

I’ve had to to tolerate the spectacle of it. It is easy to forget I have it because it is just so very ever-present. I’m reminded when someone asks, “Are you okay?” I’m sure I was okay until they asked if I am okay. Typically, I give them a pat response about my disorder. If they are a Nosey Nellie I might make up an elaborate story just to mess with them 😉

March is Essential Tremor Awareness Month. I’m in a support group on Facebook for it; there are more groups for it than I could keep up with. That reflects the percentage of the population afflicted with the disorder. There are about 10 million of us in the U.S.

My late Grandma Ruth had this movement disorder. People take for granted that “old people shake” but she wasn’t elderly when I was a toddler. I remember watching her paint her artwork with a an unsteady but purposeful and determined hand. To my knowledge, I am the only descendant who won the genetic lottery on this … and I have a relatively large family.

Beta blockers, generally indicated for high blood pressure help keep the tremor to a minimum. Propranolol is the one many of us are on. Those of us with this affliction learn to adapt. When last I checked, I can still cue up a record, sign my name, and type at with blistering speed. But then, there are some days when, I cannot fill out official forms with any legibility. This is one reason I am a pro at document digitization and have pre-written signatures in my stationary folder.

I haven’t written this to complain or whine, simply to inform. It’s better knowing, going in, that I shake like an off-balance washing machine sometimes and it is for no reason but a differently-wired brain. I always say: “At least it doesn’t hurt!” 🙂

Keyboard keyhoarder

I grew up in a time when consumer keyboards were developing fast, and a musical streak happens to run through my family. I was hooked after my first keyboard, gifted to me on Christmas. It was a Realistic brand (re-branded Casio). RadioShack … memories. Despite having rhythms, didn’t have auto-accompaniment, which turned out to be a feature that fascinated me despite my pretty much all-classical training with regard to keyboard instruments. I was surprised and delighted last month to find this little guy at Goodwill in Coudersport for $3.99:

Yamaha PSS-470
Yamaha PSS-470

I could likely flip this board on eBay (there’s probably one for sale now, or will be soon, if not). When last I checked, they go for about up to $100. So, all the cumulative time I’ve spent on eBay stalking these old keyboards finally pays off. Of course, I didn’t know if this unit worked, but I used to work … at Goodwill! What’s more, I can reach the only outlets I’m aware of in the store, above the merchandise rack on the back shelf, because I’m 75 inches tall. The keyboard even came with a compatible adapter. How handy is that?!

About that auto-accompaniment I mentioned: I thought I’d do a demo of the various beats (pre-PCM drums). But, “What to play?” I wondered. I remember the demo song from yet another keyboard in the PSS line. Here’s a recording from my SoundCloud of each rhythm with two chord variations. Since the piano sound is the same on my PSR-36, which I keep hooked up regularly for practicing and other music applications, I used that to play the melody. It’s certainly nothing special, but is “curated” through comments — since “content curation” is a hot-ass buzzword now in content marketing.

The PSS-470 is one of the “SoundBlaster keyboards” featuring the same sound chip as the original Creative SoundBlaster. Check out some other demos on YouTube.

Second Cousin, Once Removed By Police

Now, do you want to hear some gossip about somebody you don’t know? Laughing is so important; I take it where I can get it. For the past few days I’ve gotten it from The Potter Leader-Enterprise. The 2/15/18 edition of runs a front-page bit from a report from Pennsylvania State Police at Mansfield about Skyler Williams, 26.

Williams entered an elderly couple’s home in Westfield, a relatively close-by hillbilly hamlet, whereupon she shed some footwear and outer layers. She left her cellphone behind so that police could identify her. This whole ordeal already of a precision strike.

She began cooking breakfast. The report doesn’t detail whether she finished, or ate any of it, but she did use the wrong burner so, you know, I think the success story here is that she didn’t burn the place down considering a wooden cutting board was in close enough proximity to done get burnt up. Plus, raw eggs? Bacon maybe? I’m not seeing that.

Here’s the thing that guarantees her fame: she proceeded to the couple’s bedroom, where they were asleep, I should imagine, and “… climbed into bed with them.” They called police. Williams (she, not me) fled the scene leaving her belongings behind.

It’s not like this never happens ( But it happened around here. That’s front page news, babe. That’s what some of us read and talk about. You’ll have to pick up a copy of the PLE or subscribe digitally at to find out about the legal troubles she faces now.

Police say she was inebriated, according to the article, but that doesn’t necessarily mean drunk. Alcohol may or may not have been involved. A friend heard she was, “tripping.” I’m not here to investigate, or stab in the dark. I’m just writing about someone with whom I share a surname doing something notably stupid.

It doesn’t seem fair to laugh so hard without making a disclosure of my own. When I was her age, when drinking was fun, I found myself locked out of a residence in an intoxicated state. With no regard for my hand, which remained uninjured, I punched through acrylic glass and opened the door. It was my residence of course, so there were no old folks in my bed, unfortunately.  Also, I’ve used the wrong burner multiple times since, but sober on each occasion. Most recently, I turned on the burner underneath a cheap cover; moments later I noticed the smell of paint burning off of steel. Decoration or safety feature? Perhaps both.

P.S. I’m kidding around in the title: she’s not my probably cousin. There are LOTS of Williamses even around here. If her first name were a little more common, like mine, she could take comfort in Williams coming in around third or fourth in the most common last names in these United States. We just blend with the Johnsons, Smiths, and Joneses.

P.P.S. Find out how common your name is or isn’t with a bit of research at Neat.