Thursday, February 28, 2013
A subtle, rhythmic, "tap" came into our home
some time back. We're not really sure exactly
when it started. It could easily have been mistaken
for the quiet ticking of a clock. But it wasn't.
The sound was that of water slowly dripping
from the faucet at our Kitchen sink.
I didn't know something like that was catching.
But it soon became apparent the same symptom
had manifest itself in the Bathroom sink too.
Fearing we might drain one of our area
reservoirs my wife declared it was time to take
At this point I should probably explain
something my wife learned from the time we
were married. If she needed something
written I was the man to do the job.
If she needed something fixed she either
needed to call someone for help or learn the
"Do it yourself" technique.
Thus it is that my wife has become a carpenter,
a painter and a plumber.
I'd have about as much a chance of fixing a
leaking faucet as plugging the leak on the
After a quick visit to a local hardware store
and a search for a Phillips screwdriver and a
wrench she proceeded to take both faucets
apart, replace some worn washers and hardware,
and check to see if the leak had been repaired.
The leaks were instantly gone...although
there was now a stead flow of water from one
faucet. Seems one fixture was put in upside
down. I had actually guessed that possibility
from the comfort of the sofa as she rushed to
close the main valve.
That mistake corrected, she no longer has
to deal with a big drip....except, of course, for
the one on the sofa!
Hope you're handy too and that all your
NEWS is good!
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
They rolled out the old "Wintery Mix" weather
forecast yesterday with a call for snow and rain and
a little bit of sleet thrown in for good measure. It's
one of those storms where you've got to be
concerned about slick roads!
When I started driving, sometime after the
introduction of the Mustang and before the demise
of the Packard, Road crews used to take on snow
storms with plows, ashes, and cinders.
We used ashes from our coal fired furnace to
coat the sidewalk in front of our home. You didn't
slide on ashes. You didn't worry about lawsuits!
We carried a can full of ashes in the trunk of
our car. The weight helped us with traction and,
if we got stuck, the ashes helped us pull out of
a slick spot to get back on the road again.
Somewhere along the way the traffic guys
switched to a mixture of liquid calcium, that's
salt, to treat local and state roadways. You'll usually
see it being applied before the storm actually hits.
It's sort of like salting your plate before your
french fries are served!
It's good because it's there waiting when the
snow, or freezing rain, or sleet begins to fall.Once
applied it takes lower temperatures to turn the
highway into an ice skating rink.
But while you're not sliding....you're probably
Mechanics tell me the liquid salt mixture has
an appetite for brake and fuel lines! It ate both on
my late Suburban!
I guess ashes and cinders aren't considered
"environmentally sound' these days. But I remember
them working on the roads.... without eating my car!
So pass the salt if you must. I'll be trying to
find out where I left that old can of ashes!
Hope you're not slip sliding away and that all
your NEWS is good!
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Forget the Groundhog! Judging from the
mess we've see since February 2nd and the
latest weather forecast, Phil must need glasses
so he doesn't miss his shadow next time!
I've always looked to the sky for signs the
season might be changing. I don't mean what
the clouds look like.
That familiar "V" shape of Canada Geese
is often a barometer of a change in the
That's why I was anxious when I heard
the sound of geese in West Pittston yesterday.
I scanned the sky hoping to see a flight
of the birds. I hoped, of course, to see them
flying North. But there were none to be
When I heard their sound again I realized
they weren't in flight! They were standing
along the river bank. They must have
stopped to rest their wings.
I'm guessing they're part of an advance
scouting party. I suppose it's still a good
sign that Spring may be a little bit closer.
They must have flown in recently!
There were signs of their presence in the
grass all along the shoreline. I was careful
not to step in them! They can leave all they
want if it means they'll soon be sending
for their buddies camping out somewhere
south of here!
Darn thing is...when they did start to
fly....they were heading East. I have no
idea what that's suppose to mean!
I'm just hoping they haven't been
influence by any of the TV or radio
weather forecasts. They're enough to scare
I'm counting on those birds to bring
us some Spring. Otherwise, we'll all know
where we can get some refills for our
pillows and mattresses!
Hope we see them soon and that all your
NEWS is good!
Monday, February 25, 2013
My name was in the paper yesterday.
It was on the obituary page!
Before you jump to any conclusions,
I didn't die. But you probably realized
that as you're reading my Blog!
My name was included in an
obituary for an old friend. But that part
of the story gets a little confusing too.
That's because of my friend's name.
It's Harry West.
Many of you probably recognize
the name Harry West as the popular
D.J from the heyday of "The Mighty
590, WARM." But THIS WAS NOT
that Harry West!
My late friend liked to refer to
himself as "the real Harry West."
The Harry West of WARM fame had
his name changed to "West."
Since my friend got his name at
birth, 92 years ago, I think his claim
to being the real Harry West seems
My friend traveled with my wife and
me on a couple of tours we hosted for
WYOU TV. Someone decided to include
that information in his obituary although
they dug a little too deep in their memory
and listed the station as WDAU.
Harry was a great traveling
companion. He always had stories
about the many trails he traveled and
a smile to share with everyone on the
trip. He was a good friend.
In that sense the two "Harry Wests"
were a lot alike. Harry from WARM had
a million stories and brought a lot of
smiles to people too. Thankfully he's still
with us! He's a good friend too!
I think of both these guys a lot and the
thoughts always bring a smile to my face!
The late Harry West is probably smiling
too...knowing my name is in his obituary!
Hope you've got some good friends
too. If so, all of your NEWS is bound to
Sunday, February 24, 2013
A drive through the country took us to
My wife and daughter suggested a brief
stop at a Thrift Shop just ouside of town.
The term "brief," of course, is releative!
This particular shop is unique. It has
a strange assortment of goods and you
can be pretty sure you'll find something
to attract your attention if not your
It's one of the only places I've ever
seen that has a couple thousand old dvd's
arranged in alphabetical order. And most
are selling for about 5 dollars.
The books are set out that way too.
But is was a small collection of used
board games that attracted my attention.
One in particular.
They were set out on top of a shelf
which a lot of customers could easily
pass by. There, in the midst of several
Monopoly games, I spotted a board
with names I remembered from my
It turned out to be a customized
version of Monopoly apparently
designed specifically for people in and
Local business places were
substituted for the likes of Park Place
and the Boardwalk. Several of the
actual establishments have gone out of
business since this game was unveiled.
I suppose I shouldn't buy those spaces
should I ever end up playing the game!
I don't play a lot of board games. But
the connection to my old home town,and
the price tag,convinced me I had to
have it at least as a conversation piece!
So, while I did not pass "GO", I
shelled out the entire two dollars in cash
and bought the game!
My purchase complete I went back
to my car and listened to the radio until
the remainder of my entourage completed
its "brief"....... hour and a half long stop!
Here's hoping you don't go directly to
Jail and that all your NEWS is good.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I had to go to the Foot Doctor yesterday!
For some unknown reason my usual two mile
morning walk suddenly felt like the Bataan Death
I limped along. My left foot felt as though a
car was using it for a parking space. Being a
"trained observer" it occurred to me that something
I'm not quick to go to the doctor. That said, I've
probably seen as many physicians this year as
After trying to put up with the discomfort on
Wednesday I suggested my wife call her Podiatrist
to see if he might see me. She did and he said
When I got up yesterday I discovered that my
foot pain was very similar to a tooth ache. It never
seems to hurt quite as much when you're on your
way to the dentist! It's kind of like that knock you
hear in your car that disappears when you drive
into the garage!
Of course the discomfort wasn't completely
gone so I kept my appointment.
As I waited for the doctor I relaxed on his
examination chair. These recliners should be
made available to the general public. This thing
was so comfortable I'm considering having a
weekly pain just so I can get some rest!
The doctor carefully checked my foot for
the tender spots that were sensitive to touch.
"Does this hurt", he asked, as I stifled
a scream and replied "Oh Yes!"
He suggested an X-Ray to rule out a stress
fracture. I made my way to another room where
I expected to see one of those fluoroscope
machines like they used to have in all the Shoe
Stores back in the 50's and 60's.
The Doc had heard of them. I remember
using them! His machine was a bit more
modern...by about 50 years!
Anyhow, no fracture, just some inflammation.
The doctor found it, basically, underneath the
piggy that had roast beef!
I'll have to cut the daily walk for about
5 days...or 3 to 4 extra pounds the way I've
got it figured. He said to come back if it
doesn't feel better by then. I may go back
anyway just for a nap in that examination
Hope your arches haven't fallen and that
all your NEWS is good!
Not my foot!
Friday, February 22, 2013
Chances are a lot of you had Monday off this
week. Most people figured they got to sleep
late because it was "President's Day." But most
people were wrong!
There is no national holiday called "President's
Day." It’s a myth, like the story about George
Washington chopping down a cherry tree.
The holiday we celebrated on Monday was,
officially, "Washington's Birthday."
Of course it wasn't Washington's actual
Birthday. That's today.
Back in 1968 Congress adopted the "Uniform
Monday Holiday Act." The law moved four
holidays, Memorial Day, Veteran's Day,
Columbus Day, and Washington's Birthday
from fixed dates to designated Mondays to
increase the number of three day weekends
for Federal workers.
Eventually Veteran's Day was moved back
to its traditional date of November 11th.
This whole "President's Day" thing is the
work of the Madison Avenue crew. They
figured you can promote a lot more sales
if you can tie merchandise to all the dates
between Washington and Lincoln's
I think the "Father of our Country" deserves
his own day! I always liked Washington best!
I had a cherry tree in my backyard when I
grew up. I didn't chop mine down either.
Although I'm not sure I would have admitted
it had I done so.
I had started a collection of dollar bills
because they bear George's portrait. Unfortunately
I never been able to keep any more than about
ten of them at any one time.
Don't get me wrong. Lincoln is OK too.
When I was in school, or at work, I would have
been very happy to take Lincoln and Washington's
In fact I would have gladly celebrated every
President's Birthday including Jefferson Davis!
But let's give old George the special
attention he deserves. Heck, take today off too!
Hope your teeth aren't wooden and that all
your NEWS is good!
Thursday, February 21, 2013
My TV Remote took me back a few years
last night. And I wasn't on the History Channel!
It was on the upper end of my television
spectrum. A place I seldom visit. Ch 631 to be
exact. That's an impressive place for a guy who
grew up with just three major networks and a
dozen cable channels!
Anyway, there it was. WWF Live!
When I was a kid I remember looking
forward to the day when the big names from the
World Wrestling Federation would make an
appearance at Saint Joseph's Gym in Hazleton.
Of course they were different names back
then. Chief Big Heart and Haystacks Calhoun
were a couple of my favorites.
My buddy's mother used to mock me for
going to the matches. "It's all fixed" she'd
I countered with the argument that the
end of movies were all arranged long before
I saw them. But, as long as I didn't know the
outcome in advance I was still entertained!
Year's later my son and some of his friends
started following the "sport." By then Chief
Big Heart and Haystacks had been replaced with
the likes of "Hulk Hogan" and "Rowdy Randy
He even had a collection of Wrestling Dolls...
excuse me...Action Figures!
That's kind of neat because just before the
match I caught way up there on Ch 631, the
announcers were selling a set of Dolls...I mean
Action Figures, that actually move and roll
around much like their real life counterparts
in the ring. See! The more things change the
more they stay the same!
Still I don't think I'll be buying those new
I can't name today's wrestling "stars." But
I'll bet some of you out there can! And when
it comes right down to it only the names have
changed over all these years!
Hope you've saved your old dolls...ah...Action
Figures....and that all your NEWS is good!
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Well my long awaited return to the world of
print is over! I used to write poetry for my
Junior High School newspaper. A few years
later I wrote an entertainment column for a
weekly newspaper in Nanticoke. Then, under
a nom de plume, I did a media column for a
paper in Wilkes-Barre. The "pen name"
probably saved my life a couple of times!
Anyhow, now, I'm back! And under my
My first column , under the banner "Today's
Grandparent", was published as part of the
"Today's Child" insert in yesterday's Scranton
Times. You can probably still find a copy
if you look hard enough!
As I believe I've mentioned in an earlier
Blog I seemed to meet at least a couple of
the editor's prerequisites. I am old and have
grand children. I'm two for two there!
They, the grand kids, provide an endless
supply of story material. I related, for
instance, how I got a call from school one
day because my grandson felt ill and his
parents were unavailable. So it was Grandpa
to the rescue! I was fine with him napping
on our sofa. My biggest concern was the
chance he might have to use that plastic
bucket I left by his side. You see....my wife
was out shopping!
I lucked out and he was OK!
Now I'll start working on the next column.
It's not exactly like it used to be in the TV
My next deadline is April 1st. There's
something that seems especially appropriate
about that date!
Hope I can make it and that all your NEWS
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Another one of those dashboard warning lights
started lighting up in my van the other day! I hate
when that happens!
The "Service Engine" light has been glowing
for nearly a year now.
We made a couple repairs. Each turned the
light off....for about a day. But, each time, it came
I finally solved the problem by adjusting the
steering wheel just high enough so I can't see the
The latest warning to show itself is bright
red! It reads....brakes!
It suddenly appeared on one of our road trips
then, just as quickly, disappeared! A short time
later I noticed the warning light again. It's been
on again, off again ever since.
On Saturday evening the glowing red bulb
began to drive me crazy.
I don't usually use the "Emergency Brake."
But I thought, perhaps, it had somehow been
depressed just slightly causing the light to go on
I pushed it to the floor in the hope a solid pull
on the release would turn the light off once and
for all! But the peddle didn't move! Now I had
set the brake in what I assumed was a permanent
"locked on" position!
Fast forward to today! No glowing brake light
and no brake problem!
We solved the mystery and the problem. Well,
actually, my wife solved the problem. But she
cheated! She read that book that comes with each
car in the Glove compartment. I think it's called
an "Owner's Manual." She even informed me I have
a "Parking" rather than an "Emergency Brake."
Seems my vehicle has a duel system brake
fluid system and, when the fluid gets a little low
the warning light goes on. Go around a curve and
the fluid flows from one side to the other, thus
turning the light on and off.
The big problem, at least for me, is vehicle
Why is the lever closest to the Parking brake
the Hood Release while the lever closest to the
hood used as the Brake Release? Yes...I had used
the wrong one! Don't rub it in!
Any how the brakes are fine so there's no
stopping me now! That doesn't seem logical
Hope your "Parking brake" stops your car in
an "emergency" and that all your NEWS is good!
(P.S. My first "Grand parenting column"
is included in "Valley Child" in today's edition
of the Scranton Times Tribune. Hope you'll
get a copy and check it out!)
Monday, February 18, 2013
I ran into Batman yesterday!
I thought I was too late!
It seemed one of his many arch enemies, probably
"Mr Freeze", got to him first and left the Caped
Crusader frozen solid!
But first appearances can be deceiving!
After seeing a number of other Super Heroes and a
few well know villains similarly encased it occurred
to me that something else was afoot! And, indeed, it
You see I had stumbled upon the Annual Clarks
Summit Ice Festival!
Nine years ago this small community came up with
what I consider to be a brilliant idea. It decided to give
people something to do and to look forward to in
With no offense to Groundhog or Valentine's Day,
February's only claim to fame is the fact it's usually
only 28 days long. And, given the usual weather, they
are a long 28 days!
The business in Clarks Summit sponsor a 4-day
Ice Festival highlighted by ice carvings and entertainment
scattered throughout the town. February and ice seem to
go together like hats and gloves.
I needed both as I walked around taking in all the art
work. And make no mistake, these carvings are "art."
I can't even trace a good "Spiderman." But a couple of
these artists carved him out of huge blocks of ice!
This year's theme, as you may have already noticed,
was "Super heroes." But the theme is changed every
year to give the carvers a fresh challenge and the
public something new to see.
As a former "Mild mannered reporter for a great
metropolitan television station" I especially appreciated
the tribute to Super heroes!
Well, I've got to fly now. Hope I can find a telephone
booth and that all your NEWS is good!
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Quote the Second Amendment all you want. I
have come across the perfect example of why we
must have Gun control!
At the very least I believe it is iron clad proof
that some "weapons" should be banned!
It came to me during a visit to Cabela's in Berks
We like to go there from time to time to look
around and, in my case, sample taste treats like
Buffalo and Elk burgers that you can't get very
But Cabela's is also a very large outlet for
guns. The store offers all kinds of rifles, shotguns,
Yesterday the sound of shots could be heard
throughout the building. They never seemed to
end. It was enough to drive you nuts! They were
louder that the country western music that's
piped through the PA system.
Now don't misunderstand me. No one was
physically injured because the guns were
fired. It was just all that darn noise!
This gun must be banned!
I ask all of you to join me in this campaign!
The gun in question is made of wood. When
pumped, it expels a small cork that's attached
to the barrel. Pump it again and the cork
is pulled back in to be ready for the next shot.
Each shot emits a loud "Poping noise." And,
with practically every kid stopping to try the
thing, the noise is never ending!
"Pop! Pop! Pop! Over and over...all day!
If we can't get rid of this infernal gun we
must, at least, conduct an inquiry as to why
parents allow their kids to keep trying the
thing! Remember...Guns don't pop guns,
kids pop guns!
Hope we all get some peace and quiet and
that all your NEWS is good!
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Planet Earth has had a couple of visitors from
outer space over the past few days!
Yesterday an asteroid flew within 17,200 miles
of Earth and passed safely by. But earlier in the
day a meteor flared through the skies over Russia's
Chelyabinsk region triggering an atomic bomb-sized
shock wave that injured more than a thousand people,
blew out windows and caused some Russians to fear
the end of the world!
And you've got to wonder!
Remember "The Blob?" That creepy, crawly
substance that ate everything in its path came out of
a meteor! And it ended up threatening Steve McQueen
in the basement of a diner right here in Pennsylvania!
The Downingtown Diner has been replaced with a
newer model. But the basement where McQueen and
his girl were holed up against the Blob is still there.
Now you're probably saying..."It's only a movie."
But I keep thinking about how they quarantined
all those Moon rocks the Astronauts brought back.
Weren't they afraid they might have some kind of
germs that could spread around the planet?
And now I'm worried about my old home town!
Many years ago....in fact many, many years ago....
my brother took me to the Museum of Natural
History in New York. I remember buying a little
book that had an actual piece of meteor attached to
the cover. Who knows to what I might have been
exposed! And, somewhere over the years, I lost it!
Maybe there's a little Blob that's lose somewhere
And I'd be to blame!
After all, it was my meteor..rite?
Sorry about that!
Hope your sky is clear and that all your NEWS
Friday, February 15, 2013
They say timing is everything.
That's why I kept looking at the clock
with one eye yesterday and watching our
Municipal garbage bag with the other!
For as long as I can remember our
dependable waste pickup crew, aka
Garbage men, have circled through our
development late on Thursday mornings
as though they were scouting the waiting
trash to make sure they'd have room.
On their second pass one of the guys
who hangs off the back of the truck would
jump off and toss our bag into the huge
compactor where it would begin its
journey to the landfill.
I liked the schedule. It allowed me to
gather up our household wastes in the
evening and keep them, bagged, on our
porch and away from cats and other
varmints throughout the night.
But, yesterday, something smelled!
Yesterday waiting for my weekly
pickup was like waiting for the "check in the
My next door neighbor was in the same
boat. Both of us scanned the street, our eyes
looking for the compactor, our ears
listening for it's unmistakable loud engine,
and our noses.....well......after all.....it is a
Morning came and went. Noon, and
nothing. Our bags were still sitting there
at 5 o'clock and since my neighbor and I
don't know any municipal workers who clock
out after 4 we pretty much decided nobody
We were right.
Turns out somebody changed the schedule
and the crew came by before we took the trash
out! Like they say...timing is everything. And
somebody's, either ours or theirs, was bad!
Thanks to a very helpful Township official
the pick up crew will make a special pass again
this morning. I wonder if the wildlife will
lay off the leftovers till they get here!
Hope you've got your own disposal unit
and that all your NEWS is good!
Thursday, February 14, 2013
OK Guys. The big day is here! I thought I'd better
remind you so you don't get in trouble.
On the other hand, who needs to be reminded?
I'm sure everybody out there knows it's February
14th. And that, of course........is Ferris Wheel Day!
What? Oh yes. It's also Valentine's Day.
I guess when you stop to think about it these
days have a lot in common.
Valentine's Day is about love which, as we all
know, can have its ups and downs and spin up
round in circles. And, almost everybody loves a
February 14th was selected as Ferris Wheel
Day because it celebrates the birth date of George
Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., the creator of the first
Ferris Wheel. Seems logical right?
Well check this out fellows. Valentine's Day
falls on February 14th because that marks the
date Saint Valentine was burned at the stake! Guess
he forgot to buy flowers for somebody!
My wife has spent the past few days doing a
puzzle that features a Ferris Wheel. She probably
could have finished a lot sooner but somebody, a
daughter and several grand children are the prime
suspects, decided to mix some of the pieces from
one puzzle into another.
I, on the other hand, spent a similar amount of
time trying to figure out what to buy for Valentine's
Day. Every year this Valentine guy,we don't even
know his first name, has left males all over the
planet faced with decisions about gifts, and cards,
and roses. He probably never gave his first name!
And, certainly, not his address!
Hopefully, by now, all of you have picked out
and delivered your goodies. If not, you could end
up in the fire too!
Hey, there's still time to buy a nice puzzle!
Hope you've got all the pieces and that all your
NEWS is good!
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Mary and Joseph probably should have been
heading to Wyoming Valley instead of Bethlehem.
Oh.....that was a different Bethlehem?
Well, anyway, there's no reason anybody should
be told "there's no room at the Inn" around here.
I've been watching an unofficial race for the
past couple of months as two new Hotel/Motels
are being constructed within two miles of my
The folks at Mohegan Sun Casino are building
a Fifty million dollar 7-story Hotel and Convention
Center. It's suppose to have 238 rooms! I guess
the idea is you stay and play!
Just across the street developers are constructing
a Microtel Inn & Suites and two fast food restaurants.
It will be 4-stories high and have 97 rooms. It's going
up on a hill so visitors can see the casino. The
windows on the North side are limited to a stairwell
so they won't have to look at the auto junkyard next
I might mention that both those new facilities
are being built within about 5 miles of a half dozen
In fact, according to the Luzerne County Visitors
and Convention Bureau, there are more than 44
hotels in Luzerne County now with some 3,400
rooms! We must be getting a lot of visitors!
Norman Bates could have made a good living
Now that somebody has actually published a book
called "Kids For Cash" they may be coming to see
our Courthouse. If that's the case let's hope they
park legally in Wilkes-Barre so they don't get towed!
But....that's another story!
Admittedly most of the buses I see are headed
towards Mohegan Sun so I'll bet most visitors are
going there. Soon they'll have more places then ever
so sleep over! Guess I won't have to add an extra
room at my place!
Check my bags..leave my eyes!
Hope you High Rollers have made your
reservations and that all your NEWS is good!
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
I had to fight the snow as I drove to Scranton
on Monday. It was flurries for most of the trip.
But every so often it came down like an
Now you're probably saying there was no snow
on Monday. And you would be correct.
Let's back up.
You'll remember the snow that fell last Friday.
We had about 3 to 5 inches in Wyoming Valley
and most of us faced a big cleanup Saturday
One of the hardest parts, for me, was cleaning
the snow off the top of my van. There are spots
you just can't reach with the usual snow brush.
I had to use a broom to get all the snow off.
But it had to be done! According to the State
Vehicle Code (Chapter 37, .3720) you could face
a fine ranging from $200 to $1,000 if snow or ice
from your car hits somebody else and causes
injury or death.
Somebody has got to get a copy of that law
to the Tractor Trailer driver that managed to stay
right in front of me for nearly my entire drive to
The snow on the top of the trailer he was
hauling had to be at least a half foot deep. The
only clear spots were where snow had already
blown or broken off landing....you guessed it....
right in front of anybody behind or right next
to the big rig!
I managed to dodge a few landslides as I
drove and wondered if everybody else was as
If cleaning my van roof was tough you've
got to think cleaning the top of that trailer
was a big job. But snow coming off my roof
would be like a snowball. This guy had a
potential avalanche on his rig!
Of course, maybe he was hauling snow.
Was somebody short changed in Friday's
storm? Maybe he was taking it home for his
kids to make a snowman. A very big snowman!
I was just glad he continued to head north
as I got off on the Scranton Expressway
Have a nice trip buddy. And don't worry
about that snowstorm in your rear view
mirror. It's very "local."
Hope the guy in front of you has cleaned
his car and that all your NEWS is good!