Sunday, July 31, 2011

He's Feeling His Cheerios!

   I found myself screaming a lot last night
as my son and grandson raced around the
track in front of me! I wasn't yelling at them.
I was cheering for them as they sped by.
   Both were aboard their cycles and came
ready to race.
   But before I go any further let me point
out that these 'cycles' are not Harleys or
Orange County Choppers
   They are bicycles where YOU provide
all the power!
    And this was a BMX race!
    For those unfamiliar with the term
BMX stands for 'Bicycle Motto Cross.'
    This is not a flat track where drivers,
or in this case riders, only turn left!
     A 'NASCAR' style track would be a
breeze in comparison.
     The track itself winds back and forth.
And there's nothing "flat" about it!
     You've got to ride or jump over
a series of hills and bumps while
racing against other riders trying
to negotiate the same obstacles as fast
as possible.
    Spectators, like me, get to enjoy the
thrill of the race (so long as riders don't
swerve off the track in your direction),
a burger and fries, and our own
serious competition as the nightly
50/50 ticket is drawn!
    Then there's that screaming I
mentioned. You can lose your voice
shouting "Go..Go..pedal..pedal!!!!"
    We had a bit of relief from the
tension of the race as everyone
cheered for one rider who was
actually in last place. He is 3-years-
old and went slow enough so that
everyone could see the huge smile on
his face as he pedaled by!
   My only concern was the possibility
they'd start the next race before
he finished and the next group of
riders would catch him!
    My son took a first place!
    My grandson came in 4th after
catching up with and passing a rider that
seemed to have him beat!
     I did not win the 50/50 though I felt
myself a serious contender having
purchase 6 tickets for three dollars.
    Both my son and grandson seem to
 love the thrill of the race.
     Both have good bikes. They've
got a lot in common though they're
separated by some 26 years!
     It was nice to see them competing,
each in his own class. And it was nice
to see all the families who come out
to support their sons and grandsons as
well as their daughters and grand
daughters who race!
    Here's hoping you're family is 'pedaling'
together in some activity...and that all
your NEWS is good!

He's Feeling His Cheerios!

   I found myself screaming a lot last night
as my son and grandson raced around the
track in front of me! I wasn't yelling at them.
I was cheering for them as they sped by.
   Both were aboard their cycles and came
ready to race.
   But before I go any further let me point
out that these 'cycles' are not Harleys or
Orange County Choppers
   They are bicycles where YOU provide
all the power!
    And this was a BMX race!
    For those unfamiliar with the term
BMX stands for 'Bicycle Motto Cross.'
    This is not a flat track where drivers,
or in this case riders, only turn left!
     A 'NASCAR' style track would be a
breeze in comparison.
     The track itself winds back and forth.
And there's nothing "flat" about it!
     You've got to ride or jump over
a series of hills and bumps while
racing against other riders trying
to negotiate the same obstacles as fast
as possible.
    Spectators, like me, get to enjoy the
thrill of the race (so long as riders don't
swerve off the track in your direction),
a burger and fries, and our own
serious competition as the nightly
50/50 ticket is drawn!
    Then there's that screaming I
mentioned. You can lose your voice
shouting "Go..Go..pedal..pedal!!!!"
    We had a bit of relief from the
tension of the race as everyone
cheered for one rider who was
actually in last place. He is 3-years-
old and went slow enough so that
everyone could see the huge smile on
his face as he pedaled by!
   My only concern was the possibility
they'd start the next race before
he finished and the next group of
riders would catch him!
    My son took a first place!
    My grandson came in 4th after
catching up with and passing a rider that
seemed to have him beat!
     I did not win the 50/50 though I felt
myself a serious contender having
purchase 6 tickets for three dollars.
    Both my son and grandson seem to
 love the thrill of the race.
     Both have good bikes. They've
got a lot in common though they're
separated by some 26 years!
     It was nice to see them competing,
each in his own class. And it was nice
to see all the families who come out
to support their sons and grandsons as
well as their daughters and grand
daughters who race!
    Here's hoping you're family is 'pedaling'
together in some activity...and that all
your NEWS is good!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Time Tunnel

   It has been 50 years since Newton Minnow,
one time Chairman of the Federal Communications
Commission, spoke before a convention of the
National Association of Broadcasters and
described commercial television as "A vast
   He described the programs as being
too violent, filled with comedies featuring
unbelievable families, and an endless
procession of game shows.
   He spoke of commercials many of which
were "screaming, cajoling, and offending."
   I don't profess to remember many of the
commercials that were on the air about
that time.
   But programs on the air back then included
"The Donna Reed Show, Bonanza, Leave
It To Beaver, The Twilight Zone, Truth
Or Consequences, and The Lawrence
Welk Show."
   There were plenty of 'Game' and
'Detective' shows too.
    Minnow called for more programming
"In the Public Interest."
    I remember Mr. Newton's name and
his "Vast Wasteland" comments. I was
just getting into broadcasting about that
time. have things changed?
   I don't know,off hand, who heads the
FCC right now.
   But I'm wondering what Mr. Minnow
would have to say about the programs
and commercials we see these days?
   I'm surfing the channels as I write.
   Two spots for weight reducing
products, a commercial for car
insurance in which one vehicle smashes
into two others, and one promotion
for a...................... Bob Dylan concert!
  WOW! He's been preforming since
Newton gave his speech!
   As for the programs...I'd love to
see his face as he watched promos
for "Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune,
Ghost Finders, and Two and a Half
   Looks like the game shows and
'unbelieveable family' programs have
either made a comeback...or never
   You don't have to look hard to
find the 'shoot em up shows.'
    But when it comes to TV
violence you'd have to wonder how
the shows from 1961 compare to
AMC's WWE wrestling offerings
or Spike TV's "Ultimate Fighting Cage
Matches. "
    As for programs "in the public
interest"..... I'll bet he can't wait to see
the premier of "Whisker Wars!"
    That one is bound to become a
    Seems  "The Vast Wasteland"
is alive and......well?
    Hope you're enjoying television
and that all your NEWS is 'in the
public interest' and good!

Friday, July 29, 2011


  You'd have to wonder what Monty
Python's talented players would do
with the subject matter offered in
my 'Spam file" over the course of
just an hour or so!
  I was about to delete the latest
emails in that file when that thought
crossed my mind.
  Taken singularly they've easy to
toss into my laptop's wastebasket.
  But as I scanned the list and
considered their combined
value some "Monty Python-
like" thoughts began to fill my
   Consider these 'opportunities!'
   I can 'Become a cop!' Tuition
will undoubtedly be covered by one
of the 'July Schlorships' that are
available to me. I can handle homework
on the 'Free Apple Ipad2' which will
probably be sent to me as soon as I
give the sender my email address.
   I won't starve as I'm getting
started because I've 'Won a free
Subway for a week.'  I'm assuming
they mean the sandwich rather than
the train! And, even if I'm wrong on
that one I can use my "Local
Restaurant coupons" that are now
available to me!
  I'm just a little hesitant to get
involved in a whole lot of new
things now because I'm waiting to
hear more from some lawyer
whose client was killed in a car
crash. The email indicated it
happened in some foreign
country. But somehow the victim's
fortune is being left to me.
  Lucky I spotted this alert since
it came in as 'Spam' too!
  Now look. 'Spam' is nothing more
than unsolicited advertising...and
most of it is junk!
   And it doesn't only come on your
   Have you really looked at some
of the stuff TV is offering as
commercials these days?
  Wow! There's so much to ponder!
  It makes me hungry.
  Think I'll open up a can of...... can probably guess
what! I've found that "Spam" is a
lot more enjoyable fried and with a
little mustard!
  Hope you're checking all
your opportunities and that all
your NEWS is good!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More...Days Of Our Lives

  I can't understand what's happened to
my former colleagues in the news media!
  They are usually up to date on ever
important event....especially those that
are scheduled ahead of time.
   Yet I've listened to the radio, watched
two television newscasts, and gone on
line to check several newspapers
(including the New York Times), and
have seen absolutely no mention of the
fact that July 28th is "National Milk
Chocolate Day!"
    Talk about missing the 'biggie!'
    According to my web source it is a
day when everyone, Chocoholics or not,
are encouraged to consume  Milk
Chocolate either in candy, baked goods,
or both!
    As WILK's John Webster reminds us,
"If it's on the Internet it must be true."
    We are also admonished not to be
dyslexic about this special day. It's a
day for Milk Chocolate...not a Chocolate
Milk Day!
    I will make a special effort to have
my wife observe the day although she
admittedly favors Dark Chocolate.
    I'm sure I'll have no problem
getting the grand kids to join the effort!
   The 'researchers' who reveled the
existence of Milk Chocolate Day report
they were unable to trace the origin of
the 'holiday' or whatever you want to
call it.
   But I'll bet there's a paper trail on
this one that leads straight to Hershey
   Anyhow I just began the celebration
with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup!
   Hope your day is sweet and that all
your NEWS is good!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Twist And Shout!

   Once again I've taken a little liberty with the
title of today's Blog. After today's adventure
it should probably be "Twister....and shouts."
   My wife, daughter, and I took our four grand
kids to Knoebels Amusement Park in Elysburg.
   Knoebels has to be one of the best summer
destinations in all of Pennsylvania. There's no
admission charge. Parking is free. You buy
tickets to ride the rides. And those tickets are
good from one year to the next!
    I enjoy the free shows offered at several
venues throughout the park. But I spend most
of my time watching the grand kids enjoying
the amusement rides.
   That 'watching' used to be a lot easier.
    You could  take the kids to the 'Kiddy section'
of the park where they'd climb on board
rides that I probably rode myself a whole
lot of years ago.
    Some of them are classics! The little
fire engines and the whip are good examples.
    The Pioneer Train is another. It's tracks
run a mile and a half through the park.
    Then there's the Grand Carousel! It
was built the year the Titanic sank!
     I might hit the saddle of one of those
hand carved steeds from time to time and
ride with the grand kids.
     But now-a-days they're more likely to
head for something like 'The Twister!"
     It's a 102 foot high roller coaster with
a maximum drop of 90 feet and speeds of
60 miles per  hour.
    I don't ride roller coasters. That
decision dates back to the 1950's when my
Dad and brother talked me into going on
one on the Boardwalk in Wildwood, N.J.
    I was so scared I sat speechless as they
asked if I wanted to ride again. Inside I
yelled..''No, No!"  But they took my
silence for an OK and I suddenly found
myself on the 'terror train' again!
    The grand kids have no such fears.
    They took on the Twister, the
Phoenix, another of Knoebel's famous
coasters, and several other rides designed
to entertain riders by taking them, at high
speeds, to places where they twist, turn, and
are sometimes inverted!
       I watch rather than ride!
       Most of the amusements have a Height
Chart which requires riders to be 48 inches
tall. I explain that, since I exceed that
height, I don't believe I'm allowed to ride!
       But, I can always tell the grand
kids I went higher and faster than anybody
else a Knoebels a few years back.
       I flew overhead in our TV station's
Helicopter after doing a story at the park.
       And I did get a taste of the thrill the
kids enjoy as well! When I told our pilot
I didn't like roller coasters we said he
understood...and promptly did a quick
dive and pull up that would have made the
Twister seem like a Kiddy ride!
         These days I stick with the train,
the Antique cars, and the Grand Carousel!
          I can keep my stomach in place.
         And there's always a chance to get
the Brass Ring!
         Hope you have your tickets ready
and that all your NEWS is good!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Extra Added Attractions!

   I showed some video of my recent vacation
to some friends yesterday. It got me to thinking
about the things we bring back from these trips.
   It's always more than we went with!
   Pictures, or in my case videos, are one of the
obvious things. Everyone likes to have photos
of the sights and attractions they've seen along
the way. They'll help stimulate the memories
in the years ahead.
   But there are other mementos as well.
   Pamphlets, for instance. How many times
have you picked up those colorful brochures
of places you visited....or intended to visit....
and find them piled in with your luggage or
maps. And what are the odds you'll even be
able to find them when and if you ever
head back to the same vacation spot?
   Those small bottles of shampoo or
conditioner provided by most motels are
not designed to be shared by future guests
once you've used them. So we usually have
a nice supply to carry along on our next
    Then there are the things you bring back
you didn't know you had.
    Like the sand I found on the back seat
floor of my car. No problem. And kind of
a neat reminder of a stop at "Diamond
    A couple of unused Tram Car tickets.
    They'll still be valid next year so we
have an additional reason to make sure we
go back!
     Then there are the Lemonade cups that
allow us to get refills at only $2.50. We
won't throw those away!
      I did find one item that surprised me
after one of our road trips. I try to put
all of my re chargers or AC adapters in
my computer bag when we're vacationing.
      It's important, of course, to make sure
you put everything back before you leave.
      So, when I got home I checked
everything. There was the computer cord,
the cell phone charger, the video camera
charger and the.....hey....what's this?
     Oh oh!  There's one other item.
     So now, I sit here hitting all of the
buttons on a remote control held
together by electrical tape and wonder
in which New England community a
motel TV set is suddenly switching
channels!  Sorry guys!
    Hope you're still able to turn on the
set and that all your NEWS is good!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Family Rap

Toy Story!

   I've been getting a lot of reaction to the
video I posted on YouTube yesterday.
   It's called "Family Rap" and it shows
a lot of us gathered around the table in
our Wildwood 'Vacation House' as we
created a 'rap tune' on the spot.
   It's on my Blog page under 'Family
   I thought the tune was pretty good.
   But, like they used to say on
"Bandstand", it's the BEAT that's
getting most every one's attention.
    And that's what leads us to our
"Toy Story!"
   Actually, it's the source of the beat
that prompted most of the comments.
   It came from the rhythmic cadence
of two balls as they hit each other
while suspended at either end of a
   Most people recognized the toy as
   "Clackers" were popular toys in the
late 1960's and early 1970's. Kids
held the string in the middle, then lifted
their hand up and down, causing the
two balls to collide which created
the 'clacking' sound that gave the toy it's
    But there was a problem! The
original "Clackers" were made with
hard acrylic plastic. That made them
sort of a kid's version of the
Argentinian bolas. They were pulled
from the market because a lot of kids
were injured while swinging them
   I'm kind of wondering if a few TV
screens, mirrors and the like might
have ended up with 'Clacker cracks'
as well!
   Apparently the new models are
made from a lighter grade of plastic
making them a bit safer.
    I think I'd still keep clear of breakable
    Anyhow, let's give some credit to
my clan for turning the toy into a tool
for tunes!
    A few verbal sound effects,
a half dozen clapping hands, a lot
of imagination and a Boardwalk
bought "Clacker" were all it took to
turn an evening round the table into
'America's Got Talent!'
   We didn't even get any help from
"Woody"  or "Buzz Lightyear!"
    I can't promise a "Grammy" for the"
effort. But I know its already
become a "DeCosmo Classic!"
   And the beat goes on!
   Hope you've got it and that
all your NEWS is good!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points!

 We've been going to the Jersey shore just
about every year since I was a kid. That's
a lot of years!
  Over those years the route has varied a bit
from time to time. Basically you take the
Turnpike south, do your best to survive the
Schuylkill Expressway, then toss the dice when
you hit New Jersey. (And, no, that is not
meant to be a reference to Atlantic City,)
   Back 'in the day' my Dad would often
venture onto either the Black Horse or
White Horse Pike to take us into the
Wildwoods. I often prefer the scenic route
on a vacation trip. But there's something
about the journey to, and from, the Jersey
shore that makes me want to get there
with as few delays as possible.
   That 'something' is the TRAFFIC!
   Your GPS will undoubtedly send you
onto the Schuylkill, over the Delaware,
onto the Atlantic City Expressway, then
onto the Garden State Parkway for
the final leg of your journey.
   Those are the 'offcial names' of the
'fastest route' highways,
  They are, in reality, a combination of
the Indianapolis 500 and a Demolition
   Long about 10am on a summer
Saturday morning you will begin to
believe that every resident of the
United States is headed to the beaches
of New Jersey!
   We've come up with a system that
helps us avoid much of the rush. But
it comes at a cost!
   We try to be on the road by 6am.
Of course that means being up, and
packed well before that hour.
    I have a feeling that somebody
told others about our plan because,
even at that hour, there seems to be
more and more traffic.
     "Easy Pass" definitely helped
this year. There are some toll
plazas where you don't even have to
slow down. But it won't get
you through traffic jams!
     Hours before we left Wildwood
television news was showing a multi
mile, multi lane back up on the
'Schuylkill Expressway' because of
an accident. The heat index at the
time was 103 degrees!
     Neither Penelope (my GPS) or
Easy Pass would have helped us out
of that one! So, we waited till after the
highway cleanup, after the Philly's
game, after the Wildwood fireworks,
and after the late local news to begin
our trip home.
     3am may be a lousy time to get in.
     But at those hours even the
Turnpike looks like a wide open 'back
      Hope your route is clear and that
all your NEWS is good!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiederseher,Goodbye!

   There's a line in Roger Whittaker's ballad
'The Last Goodbye' where he sings.....
"When they begin the overture, they start to
end the show."
   It was on my mind as I faced our last day in
Wildwood.... for this summer that is.
   I remember arriving, sitting on the front
porch of the vacation house we've used for
the last few years, and thinking.... I know we
have a full week here. But the day we have to
leave will seem to be here faster that we can
imagine! Time really does fly by when you're
having fun!  And we had plenty!
    Fun on the Boardwalk, fun at the beach, and
fun at our 'Vacation house' with puzzles, colorful
drawings, and watching the grand kids enjoy
themselves. Of course there's the 'sounds' of
vacation too!
      One grand daughter picked up a device
with two plastic balls joined with a cord.
    Hold the cord in the center, allow the
spheres to hit together and the resulting
"Click, click, click" will stay in your head
for approximately an hour.
    Always looking at the positive side
of things the rest of the family chimed in
and used her cadence to make a rap song!

     The boy's competition for highest
decibel rating in speech, song and shout
remains unsettled. But I'm sure we will
HEAR more about that time goes on.

    The other grand daughter was content to
play with a doll that came equipped with
crutches and a wheelchair. Given her (the
doll's) condition we didn't hear very much
from that corner!
     This year's vacation has been especially
     The weather has been frightfully hot. But
there's air conditioning in our vacation house
and the Atlantic ocean water, with the
exception of one unusual day, was cold enough
to counter heat indicator temperatures in
triple digits!
     Injuries were at a minimum. My grand
daughter did pick up a splinter on the plank
walkway leading too and from the beach.
     One of the other 'kids' slipped on the rocks
we warned the grand kids about and probably
pulled a muscle. Our son is in his 30's
now but doesn't listen anymore than the
other kids.
     Maybe the sound of the wind and surf
just makes it hard to hear. It must have been
very windy when we told our son-in-law to
put on sun tan lotion. Our son didn't hear
that warning either. At least everyone will
know they were at the shore!    .
     My mind is still buzzing about the really
great week we've had...and drifting a bit...
back to other days..other vacation houses...
and great memories of those with whom we've
enjoyed ....'Those Wild..wild..Wildwood Days!'
     I hope you share and are still making
similar memories and that all your NEWS is

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Fog!

   A strange sort of thick fog enveloped Wildwood
Wednesday and Thursday morning. It reminded me
of the movie "The Fog" in which ghostly Pirates come
out of the thick mist to take revenge on the
inhabitants of a island community.
    Wildwood, of course, is an island community!
    But it wasn't the thought of Pirates that had me
    There are certain 'treasures' to be found here that
could be obscured by such a dense fog!
     With visibility limited to just two blocks or so
one had to wonder if the 'Curly Fries' stand' was
still there offering its buckets and barrels of those
tasty artery cloggers that have become one of my
      Perhaps the famous yellow lemonade cups
filled with a quarter measure of drink, three scoops
of sugar and about 20 ice cubes would be bright
enough to lead us back!
       My cousin Lisa reminded me that you've got
to search for Fudge at the shore
just seems better there than anywhere else. At least
there are so many Fudge shops that the fog
couldn't possible hide them all!
       But the real hero of our 'Fog story' has to be
my son-in-law Josh!  He, rather than any band of
pirates, made his way through the 'pea soup-like
mist' to find the treasure of treasures.....Wildwood
Sticky Buns!
      For our family no trip to the shore would be
truly complete without one 'breakfast offering'
of these tasty calorie packed pastries that do, in
fact, stick to you taste buds, fingers, and tummy!
      Years ago you would have been hard
pressed to find a Wildwood area bakery that
didn't offer Sticky Buns. But, somehow, most of
those corner, family owned shops, have
      There's no shortage of people who want them!
At least not at our vacation house.
      My nephew Tony once told of a bakery
that had a sign in its window pointing out that
       I, like he, had to wonder. If so many people
are asking for Sticky Buns....might it not be a
good idea to start selling them ?
     Anyway, fog or not, Josh found Sticky
Buns! Some with raisins. Some with nuts!
     We will be sure to write the address
of that bakery somewhere prominent so
that we can find it in any weather next
summer. We've got to insure a supply for
future generations! Perhaps my niece Patty
and her daughter Megan, who have their
own receipt for Sticky Buns, can be
enticed into opening their own Bakery
at the shore!?
      I'd walk through any Fog for that
     Hope you've got the butter handy and
that all your NEWS is good!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Up The Lazy River!

   A visit to the Water Park has become
part of the family's Jersey shore
   There are several to choose from
along Wildwood's Boardwalk. But they
all offer similar attractions that let you
cool off in the summer sun.
    The kids love those giant slides that
send them sailing into a huge pool of
water! There's a rope set up above
another pool like you might have found
at your own old swimming hole. One of
the play areas has squirt guns the kids
can use while waiting for a big overhead
bucket to fill with water then pitch and
dump its contents on everyone who
happens to be below.
     But one of the things you won't find
at the water park is a swimming pool!
     The attractions take up too much
space to allow for an area where you
can just swim.
     Still, there are options for those of us
who aren't intent on waiting in a long
line to slide down a steep incline into
the deep end of a pool where, seconds
later, another human will be landing.
     There is, for instance, "The Lazy
River." This constantly moving stream
of water follows a channel that circles
the rest of the water park. The idea is
to board an inflated tube and simply
go with the flow.
     Of course 'boarding the tube' is an
ability many of us have yet to master.
     You see, when you push the tube
underwater to get your body aboard,
the tube has a tendency to shoot
away...sometimes at great speed.
     You can attempt to lift the tube
then pull it down over your head. I've
found, however, that the circumference
of the tube is usually somewhat
smaller that the required clearance for
my shoulders. Not to mention the rest
o me!
     I usually end up with one of my
chins on the side of the tube as I hold
the built on handles and let the float
lead me around the river's bends.
     On my last visit boarding the tube
was not an immediate problem. There
were no tubes to be seen except for
two already occupied by others.
     One of the park's lifeguards
indicated there were several just
ahead in the channel. So I finally
got an actual 'swim' in as I
pursued a tube half way round
what they still call the 'Lazy River.'
    It was a fun day for all!
    And there were two really great
benefits for me.
     First, Seniors get in for free. So
the price is right.
     Second, if chlorine really kills
germs, I suspect there was enough
in this park to keep me free of colds
for the next four years!
     Hope your water wings are ready
and that all of your NEWS is good!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Under The Boardwalk

   There's really not a lot to see under
the boardwalk in Wildwood, New
Jersey. A lot of sand and an
occasional quarter that's fallen
through the cracks from someone
walking above or change that's
dropped from the pockets of
those whose vacation relaxation
includes an inverted loop on one
those multi G-force roller coasters!
   Some of the boards provide
cover for parking spots used by
workers from boardwalk shops.
   Most of the action, as you'd
suspect, is above the boards.......
even though it doesn't always seem
to be 'above board' at those games of
chance I've mentioned before!
   In the morning thousands of
visitors ride the boardwalk on
  There are bicycles, tricycles,
and even peddle powered
buggies designed to carry an
entire family.
   You can rent the vehicles
at a host of shops set up just
off the boardwalk and you're
allowed to ride there till 11 am.
    We, like many other
vacationer, carry a load of
bicycles as part of our
luggage for the trip.
   I decided to borrow one to
visit an old friend who works
at the boat launch in North
Wildwood. It's about 6 miles
round trip.
   But this is Wildwood. I mean
it's all level around here. What's
a few miles when there are no
   Yep. No hills. But have you
ever heard of a "head wind?"
    How I managed to get one in
every direction I rode I'll never
know. But add to that 90%
humidity and temperatures in the
same digits and my 6-mile ride
suddenly began to seem like the
Tour de France!
    Being no Lance Armstrong I
gave some thought to heading
under the boardwalk in a desperate
search for shade and rest.
     In the end though I made my
destination and, after an
extended visit with my friend,
set out for the return journey.
    I'd like to say going back was
easier. But, by then, the hot
breeze had shifted and was,
again, facing me head on!
     A good shower and nice nap
made my day.
     And, I'm proud to say, I was
able to answer the call when my
8-year old grandson asked me if
I'd like to ride around the block with
him that evening.
     I'm thinking of leaving a suggestion
with the Vacation Bureau here. I'd
like to see them set up a bike trail
under the boardwalk. It's really
shady there and, maybe, you can
pick up a quarter here or there!
     Hope your feet are on the
peddles and that all your NEWS is

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Luck is his companion,Gambling his his game."

 If you recognize those lyrics you must have been
a fan of the TV show "Maverick" staring James
Garner. He played a gambler in the old west.
  The tune came into my mind as my grandson and
I walked along the boardwalk in Wildwood
  He seems to have inherited my fascination with
what we used to call the "Penny Arcade."
  The term "Penny" hasn't been used around
these parts for 50 years or so. But the "Arcades"
continue to flourish, luring the 'Marks' inside with
bright flashing lights, loud music, and the chance
to win some sort of fancy prize with a little skill,
some luck and, of course, a few quarters...or a
couple of bucks.
   The machines inside don't change very much
from year to year. One of the most popular is
a 'crane-like' device that hangs over a glass
chamber filled with prizes.
  The idea is to navigate the three pick up
arms over the prize of your choice within
30 seconds, then watch as the arms drop
down to pick up the prize and deliver it to
a slot where it's dropped for your pick up.
 Each year the operators have to come up
with prizes that will attract the paying customers.
  (Here again you could substitute the term
  This year, for instance, there are stuffed
dolls painted to resemble the comic book
character 'The Green Lantern' which is
the theme of a recently released movie.
  But my grandson, and many others,
all seem out to get a novelty they call
"The Angry Bird"
  This fuzzy-ball-like sphere has he
features of ..well sort of..I
angry bird's face. The most popular
model seems to be about the size of a
softball although smaller versions are
  For just $5 you can get three tries at
snaring an "Angry Bird" from the
chamber with the movable arms of
your crane.
   I watched at least twice as my
grandson skillfully grabbed one of the
'Birds" and lifted it nearly into the
'drop zone' before it fell back among
the rest of the flock to await his, or
somebody else's try.
   I wondered if the person who
designed this contraption used
calculus or physics to compute
the exact weight to lift ratio
needed to make sure the
bulk of these 'Angry Birds
would remain in their 'nest.'
  About that same time my
daughters left for a trip to
Atlantic City.
  That's when I realized that the
time I, and my kids, and my
grand kids spent in the "Penny
Arcades" was not at all wasted!
   Those dens of lights and sounds,
are just a of  sort of a 'Triple A
Affiliate for the Big Games'
a little further up the coast!
    New Jersey is a pretty clever
   I'm hoping the girls will come
back with a little more than
'Angry Birds!'
   Hope you've got all your
quarters ready and that all your
NEWS is good!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Old Man and The Sea

  Just in case you haven't already
guessed...'The Sea' in today's
story is portrayed by the Atlantic
  'The Old Man' is me.
  There are hundreds of things to
do along the seashore and one of
the options includes a walk to the
beach to swim in the ocean.
   In Wildwood you've got to do
some thinking and planning for
such a venture.
   The beach there is big!
   From the time your toes touch
the sand you've got about a half
mile to walk before they'll touch
   Up until a year or so ago that
scene was similar to the one
with the guys walking on
hot coals! Sand can get
extremely hot!
    An improvised walkway
made of wooden planks has
eased the way...especially for
those you see carrying
bags and blankets, beach
chairs, a lunch box, sun tan
lotion and, often, a two-year-
old on Daddy's shoulders.
    These days I only have to
lug my towel and, usually, my
camera bag.
   I also walk a little slower!
   Next the trick is to find
exactly the right spot. You
don't just plop down anywhere!
   Put your blanket too close
and...when the tide changes...
you're likely to see your camera
case floating towards England.
    But don't ignore the wind
direction! An error like that
could put you just feet away
from a child who's digging a
hole to China and tossing
sand into a breeze that's
heading right for your face
and all your equipment.
    Then, of course, there's
the walk....the slow...slow
walk...into the water.
     When your surrounding
air is about 80 degrees....the
ocean water often seems to be
somewhere just above
freezing. You  quickly
realize what happened to the
Titanic passengers that didn't
make the lifeboats!
    That's why I was so very
happy with my visit to the
ocean's edge this year.
    It's the first time I can
remember the ocean water
actually feeling warm!
   Maybe it's 'Global warming.'
   If so..bring it on!
   This 'old man' can handle
temps like this...IF....I remember
to put on the sunblock!
    You can cook as quickly as a
lobster with the sun's rays hitting
you from above and its reflection
from the salt water.
    But once you're prepared
there's nothing like riding the
'floaters' and watching for
the dolphins that frequent
this section of the Jersey
    It's fun to watch the people
too! They come in all shapes
and sizes and I've heard more
languages than you'd detecct
outside the United National
Building in New York.
   But they all seem to
understand the call.....
"Fudgy Waugy Man!" and
seldom let the portable
ice cream vendor pass
without sampeling his products!'s vacation time.
    Hope you'll enjoy yours and
that all your NEWS is good!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Oh Those Wildwood Days!"

  For me summer vacation has to include a
visit to Wildwood, New Jersey.
  My earliest vacation memory was being
allowed to blow the car horn over and
over and getting the biggest spaghetti
dinner I ever had!  I was 3-years-old.
  I now know it happened in Wildwood
on VJ Day when World War Two
officially came to and end.
  There have been very few years
when I haven't come back at least for
a couple of days. I'm still looking for
the place where I got that spaghetti!
   A lot of things seem the same at this
seaside resort.
   The Boardwalk still attracts thousands
of visitors every summer. There are the
piers with amusement rides, the fudge
shops, the pizza stands, and an
endless number of stands where
'Barkers'  taunt vacationers to try
their hand at knocking over the
milk bottles or sinking three
basketball shots in a row in order to
win some sort of over stuffed
novelty monkey or bear or the
   I've lost a small fortune over the
years with not one stuffed monkey
to show for it!
   There's the constant blare of
a portable speaker calling out the
warning..."Watch the Tram Car
Please."  It almost seems like the
same recorded voice I remember
from 1945!
    The smell of the salt air here
seems unique to this island although
nearby towns like Cape May and
Avalon probably get exactly the
same scent.
   There are Volleyball Tournaments
right on the beach and colorful
kites flying high above the sand.
   They still hold a "Baby Parade"
on the Boardwalk every year.
    They've also preserved a lot of
buildings with the  '50's style
architecture' which was big during
Wildwood's Heyday!
    Chubby Checker first preformed
"The Twist" at a night club here!
    Of course some things have
    One of my buddies used to judge
the economy by the slice of a piece
of pizza here. That was back when
you could get a cut for about 60
cents. The same size cut will cost
you over a buck now. And that's
without any toppings.
   The area teens who used to
work those pizza stands and
game booths were replaced
by kids who came in from
Ireland a few years back.
  Now the Irish summer imports
have been replaced by young
men and women from places
like Azerbaijan.
  I don't know what happened
to the local kids.
  Maybe they're up in the Poconos!
  The vacationers have changed
some too.
   Instead of a book at the beach
you're just as likely to see a
laptop or a Kindle.
   But mostly a visit to Wildwood,
especially with he whole family,
is like a trip back in time....and
a 'good time' at that.
   Hope you're enjoying your
summer and that all your NEWS
is good!

   I can't let this day pass without
a quick comment on what was
probably the toughest story I
ever had to cover. It wasn't the
biggest or the most dangerous.
   But the crash of TWA Flight
800 on July 17th., 1996,
with the deaths of 16 students
and five chaperons from
Montoursville among the 230
total killed brought
challenges many reporters never
have to face.
   I was assigned to Montoursville
for weeks and weeks following
the tragedy. Some people
welcomed the opportunity to
express the grief publicly.
  Others truly hated the
reporters who were sent to their
   I walked on the 'egg shells'
and did the best I could to tell
the stories while,often, holding
back tears.
  It's easy to 'blame the mesenger'
when we have trouble with the
  I still think of the people of
Montoursville and their loss
to this very day!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

There's A Summer Place

  They man their boats early in the
morning, often sailing off into a
fog you can actually see rolling in
from the sea.
   They look a lot like the guys
you've see on History channel's
'Deadliest Catch.'
   But the men we saw on the boats
in the waters around Vinalhaven
Maine are "Lobstermen!"
    Vinalhaven is an island 12 miles
off the coast which boasts Maine's
largest Lobster boat fleet.
    We spent a couple of days there
last week as part of our road trip
through New England.
    Around here kids take to
fishing like most kids take to
video games.
  In fact the first lobster we saw
caught was captured by two young
boys, around 9 or so, who set their
trap right off the town dock!
  I was impressed with both the
size of their catch and their ability
to handle the crustacean without
loss of fingers on either hand!
  Heck it's tough enough to
hold them properly when they're
the main course on your menu!
  Thank goodness for bibs!
  There are 1200 year round
residents here and several
thousand tourists or 'Summer
people' who spend a month or
so around June or July.
  Things are 'different' on
Vinalhaven.  I guess they have
to be when you're a dozen miles
away from the rest of
  You might want to consider
that when you get to thinking
about 'getting away from it all.'
   For instance, there's one car
repair shop on the whole
   It's not associated with the one
place where you can buy gas...IF
you can get there before the
owner closes for the day around
3 or so.
   There's also a motel. And it's
good to know just where it's
located. You see getting off the
island requires getting in line early
to catch one of about six Ferry
boats sailing to the mainland.
  People who miss the ferry are
called 'overnighters.'
  And don't count on calling
home if you missed the boat.
  We found one spot on the
entire island where your cell
phone might work...occasionally.
  The 'benefits' of living on or
visiting Vinalhaven include
peace, quiet, tranquility, and
some of the best sunsets you've
ever seen!
  There are concerts nearly
every weekend where the town
band entertains.
  There's a small 'downtown'
where nearly everybody knows
everybody else.
  Everyone waves
when they pass each other driving
along the island roads
  There are two quarries for
swimming. They use bathing
suits in one of them.
  And don't forget the lobsters.
  We saw the boats unloading.
  The guys were tossing lobsters
into crates as fast as farmers
pick apples off their trees!
   Bottom can eat
lobster nearly every day
uninterrupted by constant
calls, and watch the sunset
while swimming with a
friendly neighbor at....well
the choice of quarry is yours!
  Hope you never miss the
boat and that all your NEWS
is good!

Friday, July 15, 2011

To Tell The Truth

 The name of that old television show
came to my mind as I ended a week
long trip to New England.
  I've come up with some tips based
on my experiences. I'm calling them
"Travel Truths."
  I figured I'd share a few with you
just in case you're planning to head
out on the road yourself.
  You should first go to one of those
Interstate Rest Stops and pickup one
of the coupon booklets you'll find in
those racks just inside the doors.
  There are some really great hotel
deals. But there's a trick to using
them. So here's Truth # 1.
  When you go into the motel of
your choosing DO NOT tell them
you have the coupon! Just ask if they
have rooms available.
  If the answer is 'yes' you then present
the coupon. That's because those
'special offers' are based on room
  Ironically we got turned down at
one motel because, we were told, it
was full. The clerk did suggest a
nearby facility which proved to be
one of the best we ever stayed at!
  And the desk clerk there gave us
their special rate even though we
didn't have a coupon for his hotel!
  Where ever you stay there are
some 'truths' you must remember!
  Truth # 2:
  If you want to take a bath there
will only be a shower!
  Truth # 3: Where there is a
tub there will be no plug for the drain.
  Truth # 4: If there seems to
be a lever to block the drain and you
throw will instantly train a
steady flow of cold water on your
  Then there are the showers with
two heads (sounds like a dragon
right? And in a way it is!)
  Truth # 5:
   If you're holding the movable
shower head in your hand and turn
on the water will usually come
gushing out of the fixed head which
will probably be behind you. The
water is likely to be freezing cold
so you will, at least, be awake!
  And that leads to Truth # 6:
  The following morning, after
learning your lesson, you will
carefully face the fixed head before
turning the spigot.
    You will then be doused with cold
water from the portable head which
is in it's holder to your left.
    Truth # 7: If you expect
the cold water it will be near the
boiling point!
     Truth # 8: If you are in need of a
soda and have only a dollar bill the
machine containing the beverages
will only take quarters.
      Truth # 9: If you have the correct
change or are dealing with a machine
that accepts both bills and change you
will likely see a warning light  reading
"Sold Out" on the brand of soda you
have chosen.
      Truth # 10:  If you cannot retrieve the
beverage of your choice the machine
is not likely to return all of the money
you inserted.
       Truth # 11:  If you kick the machine
you will likely hurt your foot. That will
probably require going to the ice machine
and that's the subject of another whole
list of truths!
       Hope you have a nice time, get a
warm shower, a cold drink, and that all
of your NEWS is good!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Circle The Wagons!"

  We found something on our trip to
New England that we had not seen
for years. Not since the old 'Black
Hose Pike' in New Jersey!
 Maybe it's because this area is
so steeped in tradition.
 Or maybe it's because they knew
drivers from Pennsylvania would
be coming.
 Whatever the reason you will
still find a lot of "Traffic
Circles" in places like New
Hampshire and Maine!
 For those who might not know
a traffic circle is a place where
two highways, one east to west,
the second north to south, come
together in one spot.
 In most places we would call it
an intersection.
 At an intersection one either
drives through to the other side
or turns left or right to change
  But at an intersection there is usually
some sort of traffic control.
 At best the flow is controlled
by traffic signals.
 At worst it's a usually accepted
tradition to let the person to
your right go through first.
 (Admittedly that gets a little
hairy when 4 cars all stop at
their separate corners at the
same time and everybody is on
some body's right!)
 But even that seems far more
sane than the system that feeds
each of those directions into a
common circle!
 All traffic in the circle goes in
the same direction...then tries
to spin off onto the highway that
fits the driver's need.
 By the way even Penelope, my
faithful GPS guide, had me going
in circles when she described
the impending mad merger of cars
and trucks as a .."Roundabout!"
 And, in Massachusetts, the circles
are called  'Rotarys."
 Once in the circle you must
negotiate your vehicle to the
escape...excuse me...the exit
that will take you the way you
want to go.
 The drivers we've come across
on our recent trip seem intent
on keeping drivers 'new' to the
circle system on the inside
 That, of course, can result in
what you might call  'The Merry
Go Round Effect.'
 Just imagine trying that for
the first time in a British
"Roundabout" when you're on
the wrong side of the road to
begin with!
  I have seen the opposing drivers,
eyes glaring,speeding up to make sure they
got into the lane I needed. I suspect
they might have even glanced at my
license plate.
 Perhaps, at some time in the past,
they've been in traffic jams on
Interstate 81 or gotten up close and
personal with a Pennsylvania pot hole.
  Maybe it's their way of  trying to
' get even'  with any driver from the
'Keystone State.'
 Anyhow New England is a really
great area and it's a nice place
to visit.
 If I ever get out of the circle
I intend to see a lot more.
 Hope you're not dizzy by now and that
all your NEWS is good.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My 'Faithful Indian Companion!'

 I've told you about my good friend before.
 He's the one who takes pictures of
everything and everybody!
 We spent some vacation time with he and
his wife recently.
 After that visit I have come to the
conclusion that,somewhere in his family
tree, there were Native Americans!
 I've made this deduction after trying
to walk with him from a small town
parking lot into and out off a grocery
store located just across the street.
 Most of us would pass other individuals
coming from or going to the same
destination. We might very well raise a
hand and exchange a quick 'Hi' or "Good
 That is unacceptable to my friend.
 Something inside his being demands that
he make conversation with nearly everyone
within a few feet! It's an exchange
that usually ends up with information
about their age,their reason for being
there, the length of their stay, the
number of their children and/or
grandchildren,their address, the year
they graduated from high school,
and, of course, a photograph!
 It's  a well intended human
exchange that usually stops life for
a few minutes for my friend,his wife, the
new acquaintance,and anybody else who
happens to be in his company.
  I am now convinced this stems from
a Native American tradition that seeks
to preserve people's stories not by
written word but, rather, by word of
mouth. It was often the tribe's
Chief or Medicine Man who was
responsible for telling and
retelling these tales over the
  In my mind that would make my
friend the Crazy Horse or
Sitting Bull of today's world.
  Standing by and listening I can
see how the terms 'Crazy' or 'Bull'
might be applied to his actions!
 There's a lot of each for those
of us who stand helplessly by
waiting to complete our tasks!
  If his wife were Catholic she
would undoubtedly qualify as a
Saint if only for her patience!
  I would identify my friend
but odds are you probably have
already met him and that he's got
a photo of you somewhere in his collection!
 Hope all his and your NEWS is good!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Shop At Home Network!

  A somewhat unique birthday request
had my wife and I heading for a
popular big box store near Wilkes-
Barre recently.
  One of the grand kids had seen
something there that became our
answer when we asked 'What do you
want for your birthday?'
  Problem was...between the time it
was seen and the time we began our was gone.
  There was an alternative idea.
  But the second item involved a
particular color.
  While I am not color blind my
wife will insist I'm 'color
  We were looking for lavender.
  I hate to admit it ...but I
had a car that was lavender!
  Before you laugh too loud
let me tell you that it also
had a Corvette engine and a 4-
speed Hurst shifter on the
floor! It was also a convertible!
  OK. It was lavender.
  Every time I came up
with something I though would
fit our gift needs my wife would
tell me I picked out something more
pink or more purple than
lavender!  Come on now! Those
three are all pretty close.
  Anyhow we couldn't find either
item we were looking for. And the
search was further complicated by
the fact my wife kept stopping
to check other items that weren't
on the 'request list.'
  Men may not know lavender. But
generally they go right to where ever
the thing they're looking for should it if it's there...and walk
out if it's not!
  We headed to another big box store
and searched, in vein, again.
  Then we were off to a speciality
store that didn't have the 'special'
item we were looking for but told us
they could special order something
like it at a cost that didn't seem
very special to us!
  My wife doesn't like to come
anywhere near the computer so,when
we got home, I 'Goggled' the original
item we wanted and found one at
a third big box store in a nearby
  Score one for the Internet!
  And, yes, the item we found is
  I identified the color personally!
  It looked just like myold car.
  Hope you've got your colors
straight and that all your NEWS
is good!

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Welcome To The Hotel California!"

 Sorry. I had to take some liberty with the
title because this commentary is about
hotels but none of them are in California!
 As most of you know by now we've been
doing a little traveling lately.
  After doing so we hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all hotels (or in this
case motels) are not created equal!
  Some, in fact, make it really hard for
travelers to enjoy life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness!
  Of course unless you've stayed at a
place before or are willing to fork
over $150 or more for a place to rest
your head you pretty much have to
take your chances based on Internet
photos, brochures, or location.
  When you've been driving for eight
hours or more location is often the
factor that figures in the most.
  We hit a couple of places on our
recent trip that wouldn't cut it as
"Holiday Inns."
  Most have signs offering 'Free
WiFi' these days. That caught my
attention at a place just outside
Augusta, Maine.
  A young man and woman with their
child were sitting out front as we
pulled up.
  They seemed really pleased. And
maybe even surprised. That should
have been a sign!
  They turned out to be the son and
daughter-in-law (and grand child) of
the owners who had gone into town.
  I asked if they had a room available.
  Judging from the choice they
offered most of the entire motel was
available. I picked a number, at
random, and got the key.
 That, perhaps, should have been another
sign. You see most hotels and motels
haven't used keys for several years!
  Electronic cards are the preferred
method for opening doors these days.
  But card or usually get two.
  I just got one, plus a free bottle of
water that's made available to the guest
(at least to one of the guests).
  I can't say the place was dirty. It was
just 'old.' It had an old look and an old
feeling to both the structure and the
  I tried to use my computer but couldn't
get on line. I finally went back to the
office (the owner and his wife had
returned from civilization) and learned
that the signal was sometimes poor in
my section of the motel. If only I had
know that when I was picking a number
for a room!
 I was allowed to use the office area
for awhile since there was a signal
  Then I went in the bathroom to wash
my hands. You know how motels have
little bottles of shampoo and body
lotion that most people take with them
when they leave? Well you couldn't do
that at this place because they're weren't
 In fact there were no towels! I mean
 I realized I'd have to go back to the
office again if I wanted to dry my hands.
 I figured that could put me in a bad
situation the following day after my
morning shower so I asked for a complete
set during my second visit.
  Two other places on our recent trip were
better than the one I described. But each
fell short of Howard Johnson's old
  Maybe I just picked too quickly because
I needed the rest.
  Or maybe Norman Bates just has
different names on the places in his
  Which ever, I hope you're resting well
and that all your NEWS is good!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

" Happy Days!"

  It was the vintage Mustang
convertible that grabbed my
attention first!
 We were traveling through
Maine when we spotted the
place they call "Fast Eddies."
 It was like a vision out of
the 50's still welcoming
customers along Route 202
in a small town called
 We picked a motel close by,
unpacked the car, and beat a
path back to the ice cream and
burger joint for an evening
 And what a treat is was!
 A thunderstorm had pretty
much wrecked "Cruiser Night"
so some of the classic cars
we saw when we first passed
were gone.
 But everything else was
pretty much the way I
remembered it from back in
the day!
 First off, for those who
choose, there is curb service.
 Pay attention kids! Flash your
headlights and a waitress comes
to your car, takes your order,
and brings it back to your car
when it's ready.
 We decided to go inside which
allowed us to enjoy a great
collection of photos,toys,and
objects like movie projectors,
model cars, and such that brought
back memories from my own teenage
 There are Drive In Movie
speakers (ask your parents kids)
at each booth. And they work! The
volume control raises or lowers
the sound of rock and roll 45's
(ask your parents kids) playing
from somewhere inside the
combination restaurant/ice cream
 There was a whole series of
photos of 'Alfalfia, Donna, and
Spankey' from the 'Our Gang
Comedies.' (Ask your grandparents
 There's even a statue of James
Dean standing in the corner. A
young lad was looking it over
when his parents took his hand
to lead him out. I couldn't help
but wonder if he asked them who
the guy was and why he warranted
a statue in a place like this.
 Much of it, I'm sure, goes right
over the heads of the youngsters.
 And that's too bad. Because a
place like this truly does
represent 'Happy Days' to an
older generation. And we can all
use a few days like that!
 Hope our day is happy and that
all your NEWS is good!  

Friday, July 8, 2011

The 'MAINE' Attraction!

    If you're looking for a vacation spot
that has the best nature has to offer it's
hard to beat the state of Maine.
   We spent a couple of days in the area
of Acadia National Park near Bar
Harbor, Maine.
    We didn't see any bears (although one
large black dog coming down the highway
had us looking twice). But we did see some
unbelievable sights!
    Take Cadillac Mountain!
    At 1532 feet it's the highest point
along the North Atlantic seaboard!
    You can see for miles and miles
over the Bays and Harbors where
Lobster Fishermen set their traps.
    There is beautiful forest and
hiking trails.
     And there's another amazing sight!
     It's the men and women riding
bicycles up the steep and
winding road that leads to the
summit!  I got tired just watching
     I don't know the grade of the climb.
     But cars usually go up in first
or second gear and my ears popped twice
as I drove up in the car.
    I noticed, however, that none of
the cyclists seemed to  peddle at all on
the way back down!
    In fact, now that I think of it, I wonder
how they stop when they get to the bottom!
    Anyway in addition to the fantastic
scenery of Acadia National Park
the big attraction in these parts is
   And you will find it everywhere.
   Lobster bakes are featured in most all
the restaurants.  There are lobster rolls,
and lobster wraps! Getting lobster on
your pizza is as easy as getting pepperoni
back home.
   Lobster Ice Cream, however, was one
attraction we decided to skip.
   You can also get postcards featuring
lobsters. Or hats and shirts with logos
of the tasty crustaceans.
    There's even a cap that actually looks
like a lobster. I decided to stay away from
that 'attraction' as well.
   Of course however it's offered the actual
 lobster is a little cheaper to buy in Maine.
   But before you start the car and head
northward please note that everything
but the lobster has to travel to get here!
   So bargain prices for gas and other goods
are not a 'Main' attraction in Maine!
   Hope you're enjoying whatever
flavor of ice cream you've selected
and that all your NEWS is good!

"On The Road..Again!"

 Wow! I'm amazed by all the reaction to my
blog about our GPS!
  I thought I was the only person who
actually named the voice that so often screams
"Recalculating' to us as we're trying to find
out where we are and where we should be
  But most of those who commented or
emailed me after the blog admit to
naming their electronic Indian guide!
  And most have also admitted to a sort of
love/hate relationship with their unit.
  I thought I'd share just a few of the
responses and comments.
  Sue, who named her GPS Sue, said she
just returned from a trip on which she used
the unit for the first time. She wrote..."Sue
kept yelling at me..I was so sick of it I put
it in the glove box."
  Bill calls his GPS "Dubya." He says
"It tells me to bear right. But then isn't
sure if it's a  black bear or a brown
bear."  (It's  probably a polar bear Bill.)
  Kathleen's unit is named  'Hilda."
  She wrote..."It tried to kill us last year.
Took us to the edge of a river and told us
to 'Proceed straight ahead!"  Thanks to
Kathleen's note we know she choose to
ignore those directions!
  Bill just calls his GPS "The Girlfriend."
  He says he continually tries to prove
her wrong .."but of course she always
  Maria writes..."I long for a Penelope"
(My name for our Garmin GPS). But, she
says her husband.."gives me many reasons
why he doesn't want one."
  My own wife and a close friend keep
reminding me about the time they used
a GPS to find their way home from a camp
in upstate New York. They found
themselves was on a dirt road that
seemed to go nowhere!
  Still, isn't it pleasant to hear that
soothing voice telling you to be
prepared for a right or left turn just
one half mile ahead?
  Maybe future units will include
improved directions and more voice
options to fit your situation.
  I can think of one that might have
helped Kathleen as she approached
a river....."DANGER, WILL
 Thanks for all the responses.
 I hope "Sue, Dubya,Hilda, and the
Girlfriend" all know where you are
and where you're going and that all
your NEWS is good!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I've Got A Secret!

 Our recent travels have been enjoyable for
the most part.
  But sometimes it's difficult to travel through
an area you don't know as well as your own
home town!
  We would usually rely on Penelope in
cases like that. That's the name I assigned
to the 'British voice" I set up in my GPS
  But Penelope spent much of our trip in
the glove compartment. That's because my
wife preferred the more scenic back roads
to the Interstate highways Penelope always
  To navigate those secondary roadways the
Mrs. came up with some huge, folded,
colorful sheets of paper with lines drawn
everywhere. I believe she called them
  They do, in fact, allow you to choose
various routes to reach your destination.
   But to do that you've got to match the
number highways on the map with the
numbered signs posted along those
   There are plenty of signs. But often
they've been placed in spots that are
nearly impossible to see!  In Maine
the numbers on the signs are white
and the background is green. Great
for placement among trees!
   Others have the route number
marked somewhere on the right
hand side of the highway and you
find yourself in the left lane of two
headed in the same direction. You
think you're OK till you make your
turn and then find out your lane is
branching off to some other route.
  No advance warning!
  It's as if the State Highway
Department wants to keep directions
a secret. If so, it's doing a great
  Thanks to a few understanding
motorists and, in some cases, rapid
acceleration, we managed to guide
our car along the back roads we
   Penelope is probably having a
good laugh inside that glove
   Hope you know where you're
going and that all your NEWS
is good!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On The Road

 Rod Serling, the guy who created 'The
Twilight Zone,' was from upstate New
  That fact came to mind after noticing
a couple of strange things as we headed
out on the road this week.
   It was 'top down weather' so we pointed
the Miata north into New York choosing
to use back roads wherever possible.
  The Empire State offers some
spectacular scenery. We found much of
it along Route 20 which is an east/west
highway with Albany on the eastern
  The New York State Thruway, just
to our north, heads the same way.
   It's 'limited access' and higher speeds
seems to make it the choice of most
   That became apparent to us as we
got hungry!
    A friend recommended a diner in
a small town along the way. We had
no trouble finding it. It looked
nice enough. But we quickly found
it had one thing in common with many
other restaurants and food stands on
the highway. It was closed!
   I guess, like the old  'Route 66',
New York's Route 20 isn't as busy
as it was 'back in the day.'
   But it still offers that beautiful
scenery we were seeking.
   Like that covered bridge we
spotted! We love covered bridges.
   So we pulled the Miata off of the
paved highway onto the narrow
dirt road leading to the historic
and romantic span from days
gone by.
   We had actually started to
cross when we noticed the
sign. Hand crafted above a half
dozen mailboxes set up on the
bridge was a notice that
'Tresspassing Beyond This
Point was Forbidden!"  It
included a warning that those
who proceeded ran the risk
of being 'Held until Law Enforcement
   Given the rural nature of this
environment and the lack of
general traffic on this stretch of
Route 20 it seemed possible to
us that 'Law Enforcement' might
take weeks to arrive.
   Since we already had reservations
at our destination we felt it
advisable to back out, turn around,
and continue our journey before
any of those mailbox owners could
apprehend and 'hold us' indefinitely!
   It wasn't until we turned around
that we noticed two  'For Sale signs'
that seemed to be for properties on
the other side of that bridge!
   We wondered if any potential
buyers had gone on beyond our
stopping spot and might currently
be held somewhere near or at the
property they were seeking.
   Perhaps they're stuck there The Twilight Zone?
   At least we got to visit the
covered bridge. If its owners are
reading this I'd like to appologize
for the intrusion and tell them I hope
all their, and your, NEWS is good!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

   Many will recall the lyrics of the tune
that signaled the opening of the popular
kid's show "Mr Roger's Neighborhood."
  I got to thinking about that song today
while reading some Facebook comments
from people who aren't too happy with
their neighbors.
   They weren't real specific. But some
of their feelings may have something to
do with folks who seem to have bought
enough fire crackers to celebrate
Independence Day for about two weeks.
  Usually it's between 7pm and 2am.  
  Well let's face it. Neighborhoods
have changed a lot since I was a kid.
  First of all, back then, we knew
all the neighbors! People seemed to
stay in one place longer then.
  They also used their porches more!
  Mine had solid walls so you could
pretend it was a fort or a ship or
  People even SAT on them and said
hello to neighbors who passed by on
their daily stroll.
  At the very least you'd probably
see the mailman who came by twice a
  I've seen a lot of huge porches
lately. But I don't often see
people sitting on them!
  We know some who couldn't
sit on their front porch.
  The junk was taking up all the
   As for knowing the neighbors,
it's a little harder for me than
it used to be. More are of the
'come and go' variety.
  Some, as those Facebook comments
might suggest, you're not sure you
want to know.
  And some you know all too well
even if you don't know them because
their shouts are loud enough to
seem like they're already in your
living room.
  The mailman doesn't always come
to your home anymore. A lot of
developments have mailbox banks
and you go there to pick up you
bills. Those that do get home
delivery are likely to see it
vanish, like the porch sitters,
on Saturdays.
  It's times like that when you
wish Mr Rogers were living next
door and that Mr. McFeeley was
providing his 'Speedy delivery'
on behalf of the U.S. Postal
  Well, if you happen to see
your neighbor, please pass along
my hope that all of his, and your
NEWS is good!

Monday, July 4, 2011

"The Bombs Bursting In Air!"

  Let's face it. Fireworks and the
4th of July are like ham and eggs,
hot dogs and picnics, love and
marriage. As the song reminds us
"You can't have one without the
 Of course the very best way to
enjoy fireworks is to let
somebody else set them off!
 Lest you think this is just some
old newsman who's done too many
stories about fireworks accidents
or police busts of illegal sales
let me tell you that I've had
some first hand dealings with
these explosives over the years.
 The first was really fun.
 Back in the days when my friends
and I used to play 'Army' I had
a toy that looked like one of
those machine guns that mount
on a small tripod to mow down
the enemy when they charge.
  A bunch of us kids were in
a wooded area playing our game.
  Each had to simulate the
sound of a gun going off as we
pretended to fire at each other.
  I was on top of a small hill when
the others came to get me.
  They didn't know much about
my model machine gun. And they
sure didn't know about the row
of firecrackers I was lighting
as they ran towards me!
 I never saw the other kids jump
so high or hide so quickly!
 Yea, those fireworks were fun.
 On the other hand...there was
another holiday when I lit the
'Cherry Bombs' inside my Mom and
Dad's house then slipped them out
through the mail slot onto the
front porch.
 None of the neighbors could
tell when the celebratory
blasts were coming from.
 That was cool too...until the
door to the slot closed while
I was trying to toss the bomb
 As I calculate the story by way
of my memory it takes about
1.4 seconds to reopen a hinged
mail slot door and about 1.3
seconds for a cherry bomb fuse
to burn to the detonation point.
  You can do the math.
  I nearly got it open again
before it went off!
  The key word here is 'nearly.'
  It was, at least, a few inches
out of my hand when this 'bomb
bursting in air' burst in the
air of our dining room!
  The smoke cleared after a few
minutes and the hand healed after
a few days but other than an
occasional sparkler I don't
actually handle fireworks
   As they live and
   I hope you'll have a happy
4th of July and enjoy a professional
fireworks display a safe distance
from any fuse you have to light
  I'm also hoping, as usual, that
all your NEWS is good!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Car Talk"

 I was listening to "Car Talk" as I went
for my walk yesterday. For those
who might not know, the program
features two brothers who try to
diagnose your car problems and
suggest solutions from what you tell
them when you call in.
  The guys usually know what they're
talking about and offer their comments
with a lot of humor.
   What struck me on that particular
program was something they said about
a survey which suggested that only one
in five of us could pass the written
portion of our Driver's Test if we had
to take it again.
   I know what they were talking about!
   Years ago my son actually got his
motorcycle license before getting his
regular driver's license.
   I thought it would be a good idea to
get one too.
   We had a small scooter-like Honda
that could nearly turn on a dime.
    The hardest part of the test, we were
told, was to go through three 'figure 8
turns' without touching your feet to the
    I knew the Honda was easy to handle
in turns so I showed up at the State Police
Barracks with the bike and a helmet
ready to take on the course.
   First, however, they put in in front
of some computer to answer a series of
multiple choice questions.
   Now I know you can't park near a fire
hydrant. But it's been a lot of years since
I knew exactly how far away from the
hydrant you have to be. I got that one
wrong. Then I got another one wrong.
   I believe you were allow three
incorrect answers in all.
  It suddenly dawned on me that I might
not only fail to get my motorcycle license,
but could have my regular license taken away!
   Prayer does help! It must because I did
before I answered the rest of the questions
and  got them all right!
  A couple of those answers were
    After that the road test was a breeze!
    It seems to me it's the over the road
test that's important. But maybe it should
be more realistic!
    Examiners could watch to see that
applicants are able to spell properly
as they text while driving!
    Dog owners would be expected to
demonstrate their ability to hold their
pet on their lap while steering along
municipal streets. Owners of Saint
Bernards would be given extra
    One could also get extra points
for handling a hair brush, makeup,
cigarette, and cell phone...switching
from and to each from block to block!
    Applicants might even be asked to
identify the pictures painted on road
signs. It's harder when there are no
    We have one near our home that
shows an arrow pointing Left with a
Red Line through it.
    A lot of drivers don't seem to
know that one.
    I thought about asking local
police to watch the spot so they
could explain the concept of
'No Left Turn' to those who
don't understand the sign.
    I changed my mind when the
last person I saw making the turn
was a police officer driving one
of our Township cruisers!
    I wonder if he can text or knows
how far you have to park from a
fire hydrant?
    Hope you're driving safely and
that all your NEWS is good!

"You can always go...Downtown."

  Petula Clark had a big hit with the song
'Downtown' in 1964.  But 'downtowns'
were different back then.
  I did my exercise walk through center
city Pittston the other day.
  There's a small shop on the main drag
that has some paintings on display in
its front window.
   I could almost hear Petula singing as
I looked at the art work. Each depicted
the very street where I stood. But each
was set in either the late 40's or early
  One showed a long line of people waiting
to get into the American Theater to see
Debbie Reynolds as 'The Singing Nun.'
  Cars were crowded into every
available parking spot while others
traveled back and forth on Main Street.
  A smiling policeman held one hand in
the air and the other on his whistle as
he happily directed traffic on the
thoroughfare. The sidewalks were
filled with shoppers headed towards
Woolworth's or any one of the other
shops pictured in the painting.
  Then I looked up!
  Main street still has some very good
looking business places, And they're
easy to find because of the way they're
tucked in between vacant stores and
buildings that I like to call "used to bes."
  Near as I can tell there's a parking lot
where the old American Theater once
  And speaking of's when
downtown Pittston really shines. You
pull up to a meter...get your quarter
ready...then realize the meters are just
shells! There's no 'insides' place to
deposit any coins! Yep...parking is 'Free!'
  And there's usually plenty of it.
  The crowds that waited in line for
movie tickets or to go shopping are
apparently lined up  somewhere else
these days.
  I walked about a mile and a half and
probably saw about two dozen people.
  As far as the policeman directing
traffic....when was the last time you saw
any policeman doing that?
  Heck there was a time in downtown
Wilkes-Barre when one of the
patrolmen actually made the news
occasionally as he did a sort of dance
routine while keeping the cars moving.
  Of course traffic on Main Street in
Pittston has been 'One Way' north for
many years. And since you can't drive
south many people never see the
fading, painted sign on the side of the
city's tallest commercial building.
  It reads WPTS. An old ad for a truly
local AM Radio Station that once
served a once busy city.
  But it's also a sort of sign that
reminds us the 'good old days'
downtown are long gone!
 Sorry Petula. There are no movie
shows in this downtown anymore.
  The 'noise and the hurry' are pretty
much gone too.
   And if you try to 'linger on the
sidewalk where the neon signs are
pretty' you'll likely get cited for
loitering by one of those cops who
aren't directing traffic any more.
   Of course Pittston isn't unique!
   Nanticoke's theater was ripped
down years ago.
   Mr, Peanut vanished from the
streets of Wilkes-Barre even before the
'Agnes Flood' of 1972.
   And the Department store where I
used to see Santa in Hazleton now
stands halfway demolished waiting
for somebody to finish the job.
  Guess that's why I like looking at
the paintings of downtown Pittston
the way it used to be. It's nice to let
your imagination take you into the
canvass for a moment or two.
  You can almost hear Patula singing
'Downtown, you're going to be alright
  Hope you have some happy downtown
memories and that all of your NEWS
is good!

Friday, July 1, 2011

"Project Runway"

  We didn't have school uniforms when I
went to school. At least we didn't have
any 'official' school uniform.
   The boys usually wore shirts with collars
and nice slacks. The girls all wore
skirts. The closest we came to uniforms
were the blue jeans worn by all the
guys taking Vo/Tech courses.  And you
didn't question anybody from Vo/Tech
about their apparel. Most of them were
like 'The Fonz' before anybody ever
heard of the 'Fonz!'
   These days more and more schools
are adopting school uniforms or, at
least, dress code policies.
   My grand kids go to schools with
rules about dress and, from what I've
seen the students all look pretty
    I think it may be time for the rest
of us to catch up!
   That thought was prompted by
a trip to a local Target department store
the other day.
  My wife called my attention to
a woman about 20 yards away who
had just entered the store with her
small daughter. I wish my wife
hadn't done that!
   This lady, and I use that term
very loosely, was on the heavy
side. In fact she had fallen over
the heavy side into the extremely
large size.
   But it wasn't her weight that
bothered us.
   It was the short shorts she was
almost wearing!
   I don't know if she was a
professional 'mooner' or was walking
in public under the delusion she was
  She apparently didn't walk by any
  Add to that, as my friend Donna
reminded me, the gals shopping at
Walmart in their 'jammies!'
   Then there was the clerk at Hershey's
Chocolate World.
   Now this young man WAS in uniform!
   But that uniform was either made for
the woman we saw in Target or
the young man seemed to feel
it necessary to wear his slacks below
his waist.
    He was working the check out line.
    Had anybody bumped his belt
buckle with their pound box of
Hershey Kisses he'd be singing
 'The Great American Chocolate Bar'
as a soprano!
     I used to be bothered by the sight of
women shopping in curlers.
    These days they'd seem almost formal
compared to  the outfits some shoppers
are determined to model for us.
    Maybe we need a 'Dress Code for
    Or a lot more mirrors!
    Hope what you're wearing fits and
that all your NEWS is good!