Monday, July 28, 2014
     

When I was a kid, during summer vacation from school, just when I might have started to whine, "There's nothing to do," along came Vacation Bible School to save us.

My friends and I loved VBS. What's not to love about making crafts and playing games? And we'd get to spend the last day at the Palmerton Memorial Park and pool! Sure there was a lesson, but even learning Bible stories was fun.

By BOB URBAN rurban@tnonline.com Memorial Day. It's my favorite holiday weekend of the year. Everybody feels patriotic. The weather has finally warmed up. School's almost out and summer has unofficially begun. Enjoy it everyone. It only comes around...
Here's some mind twisters to help you keep aging gray cells active on a spring Saturday. Don't peek at the answers below until you're finished taking the quiz. 1. Johnny's mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child...
By BRUCE FRASSINELLI tneditor@tnonline.com (Editor's Note: Bob Urban, whose column normally runs in this space, is out looking for a Mother's Day gift for his wife, Mary. Substituting today is Bruce Frassinelli, a Summt Hill native and life-long...
By JIM ZBICK jzbick@tnonline.com Although there was no 24/7 news coverage and no social media outlets for people to offer their personal commentary, the 1912 presidential election offered some cutting edge technology for its day. The race featured a...
By jim zbick jzbick@tnonline.com In depressed times, sports can be a good tonic for lifting the spirits of a community. A good example is in Detroit where the baseball Tigers have been able to lift the morale of a city devastated by the collapse of...
By jim zbick jzbick@tnonline.com Tourism is the second leading industry in Pennsylvania, which is the fourth most visited state in the nation. Groups and officials have long used the natural beauty of our surroundings to promote the area. In an...
A dear childhood friend of mine reminded me of all the fun we used to have together. We were blessed with a childhood that was full of exciting playtimes, imaginative experiences and creative games. Looking back on those days, it is obvious that our...
TV newscasters have lately been accusing certain Americans of being "wusses" and "wimps." This name-calling attitude started when a high school ordered its students to stop wearing T-shirts or sweatshirts with the name of the college they plan to...
Let me start out by saying this no one is perfect. However, some parents would take issue with that remark. They have honestly convinced themselves that their offspring are perfect. A reader recently wrote this to me "I am so tired of listening to...
On a recent trip, my son, Paul, and I had just finished one of several of our long philosophical discussions when he turned to me and said, ``You know, Dad, for an old guy, you're pretty cool." I was startled, because I stopped worrying about...
When the European Parliament (EP) flouted the European Commission's (EC) proposed Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) by vetoing medicine regulation for electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) last October, American public health experts (myself included)...
Age has its prerogatives. One of the most profitable is saving money. Since turning 55, I have saved more than $27,000 taking advantage of senior citizen discounts and special pricing for seniors. That's an average of about $1,400 a year. How did I...
This past weekend was extremely gratifying cinematically as I was fortunate enough to find a few hours to screen "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." If you are into science fiction fantasy films, this one passes expectations.
One of the most important qualities a magician needs to learn his craft is his ability to carefully translate and follow directions. Most magicians get their start by studying magic books, and I was no different. I read and absorbed almost every...
I want to thank all of you who stop me and discuss items in my columns and provide suggestions to me for new columns. It means a great deal to me that so many of you spend some of your Saturday mornings reading my work. One of the questions that I...
When I was a kid, during summer vacation from school, just when I might have started to whine, "There's nothing to do," along came Vacation Bible School to save us. My friends and I loved VBS. What's not to love about making crafts and playing games...
By LINDA KOEHLER lkoehler@tnonline.com My good friend Connie has been a list-maker since ... well, forever. Which is probably why she is the most organized and efficient person I know. Me? Not so much. Which tells you that I'm probably the most...
We had a lovely Fourth of July weekend visiting my niece in Lititz and experienced some of why it is called, "America's Coolest Little Town." If you've never been there, plan a day trip. You'll love the scenery, and the charmingly quaint town offers...
It was the perfect weekend for a Civil War-themed salute, and the town of Danville knows how to do it right. Their annual Iron Heritage Festival emphasizes authenticity. The four-day showcase last week brought to town some of the big names in living...
About 15 years ago, I grew interested in something I saw in old-time photos. While looking through Victorian picture albums, I was intrigued by the sight of a bicyclelike contraption with a front wheel almost five feet high. So I decided to pursue...
Reporters try to be objective when covering news. But that doesn't mean they're devoid of feelings. It's easy to feel passion about a topic. News can be emotionally draining. It can be powerful, unsettling. And journalists aren't robots. That said,...
I've been spending the past week cleaning out closets, organizing drawers and finally putting some order to all my clothes. Normally, I would feel virtuous with all that effort. Instead, I feel ashamed. As I pack up boxes of clothes for Goodwill and...
By PATTIE MIHALIK newsgirl@comcast.net Sitting in my husband's yard is a new, sleek kayak. Well, it's not exactly new. I bought it for his birthday a full year ago. One of the reasons why David and I were attracted to each other is because we are...
When I was a teenager, my friends had a nickname for my mother. They called her radar ears. She did, indeed, seem to have radar ears. She was strict with me and liked it best when I was within eyesight. So my friends would hang out with me across...
When I began college in 2002, I had decided that I wanted to major in digital communications. It was a growing field, and the blend of English communications and the digital world intrigued me. At the time, my father, who is avidly against computers...
By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com It's a Sunday afternoon, and our old farmhouse is filled with the laughter and chatter of young people. The aroma of homemade lasagna wafts through the air as we set the table, arranging plates, cutlery and...
First came the decision to proceed with a proposal for a new elementary center. Then came the approval to move forward with the sports stadium. As a result, Lehighton Area School District finds itself caught in the cross hairs of the public's...

Claire:

Once upon a time, watching television was for Philistines. The uncultured masses would tune in to watch the latest sitcom every night, blissfully ignorant, while the intellectuals would sit in their ivory towers reading books, or at the very least saving their money for a subscription to a network like HBO or Showtime, where all the "artsy" television supposedly dwelled.

That's how the joke goes, anyway. These days, though, a few shows have me questioning the old adage that television is just for dummies and couch potatoes.

Jim:

Our most faithful fan does not live in Lehighton or Jim Thorpe or Tamaqua, or anywhere in the hard coal region.

No, he lives on the other side of the world. Dan Bloom is a freelance writer and ex-patriot, who resides in Taiwan where, he says, he is "buffeted around by Pacific typhoons every summer." Maybe that's why he worries a lot about climate change.

Jim:

There's an old saying: "They treat me like a mushroom. They keep me in the dark and feed me B.S." I know I'm a mushroom and hope that, at least, I may be a Portobello.

First off, there's the cosmic mystery. Where did the universe come from? If it's expanding, what is it expanding into? These questions give me butterflies in my stomach. I try hard never to think about them. I have butterflies right now. Let's change the subject.

Claire:

Writing down one's dirty secrets and posting them all over the web is de rigueur these days. It's hardly edgy or shocking to read the intimate details of a person's sex life, mental issues, or weight problems.

Heck, not too long ago a woman live-tweeted her miscarriage yup, that means she was writing about it on the Internet literally while it was happening.

JIM:

So Bradley Manning wants to be called Chelsea. I wonder how Chelsea Clinton feels about that.

Fort Leavenworth prison officials say he'll get no hormones and no surgery. Manning's lawyer calls this cruel and unusual punishment and vows to sue.

Advocates of transgender convicts claim (per recent news reports), "Self-castration, suicide and waves of desperation are byproducts of the denial of sex hormones to inmates yearning to switch genders." Sounds pretty grim, doesn't it?

I have a tattoo above my ankle.

It's a teddy bear holding a heart with my husband's name in it.

My husband sports one just like it on his arm with my name in the heart.

We had them done the week after we got married and I was 28 years old at the time.

I don't know what we were thinking.

I guess I was just giddy in love and thought it would be "cute" and he just wanted to make me happy.

While I do not regret getting a tattoo, I do wish I would have thought about it a little more so that I could have picked something different or designed my own.

I ran away from home this week, sort of.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, I took a vacation without a child or a husband (or both) in tow.

It was a fairly last-minute decision and one made out of necessity rather than luxury.

As I've said before, I'm always on the go, often taking on more than I can handle, while at the same time getting a rush from the challenge of it all.

It's worked out pretty well for most of my life, but during the past year, it's really started to take a toll.

My body is falling apart.

My insomnia is worse.

The sun is shining and the birds are chirping at Mauch Chunk Lake as I sit in the parking lot waiting for people to arrive for Good News Camp.

Good News Camp is a faith-based, weeklong summer day camp that gives children the opportunity to learn about Jesus in a fun, outdoor setting.

My teenager volunteered (or rather was volunteered, by me) to assist with the children at camp for the week.

I got my very first dog when I was in my 30s.

Not because I didn't want one before that, but because it was the first time in my life I was able to do so.

Zosia was part rottie and part shepherd.

She was very good with other people (especially children), but hated other dogs.

When my youngest daughter was an infant, Zosia would sleep under her crib. Should my daughter begin to stir or whimper in the middle of the night, Zosia quickly came into my room to alert me.

Just days before the official start of summer, my daughter reminded me that we needed to make a trip to the mall to purchase a "cute" swimsuit for the summer.

The idea of going to the mall made me cringe.

First there is the one-hour drive to Allentown, which, after a full day at work is most unappealing.

Then there is the large crowd of people which seems to cause me more and more anxiety as each year passes.

However, after some pouting and procrastination, I decided to compromise with her and head on up to the Schuylkill Mall in Frackville.