Tuesday, September 2, 2014
     

An old show business saying states that "It's not over until the fat lady sings." There can be a few different interpretations of that statement, but the one I choose to use is this: This fat lady is singing. My time as a newspaper columnist is over.

Yes, I tried everything to keep writing. No, it hasn't worked. The Dragon works a little, but it has become increasingly difficult for me to correct words using the program. I have knocked out entire columns after meticulously preparing them for publication.

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...
An old show business saying states that "It's not over until the fat lady sings." There can be a few different interpretations of that statement, but the one I choose to use is this: This fat lady is singing. My time as a newspaper columnist is over...
Dear Dr. Smith, Our daughter is going steady with a young man. They are both juniors in college, get good grades, and plan to spend the rest of their life together. My husband and I have a few concerns about the relationship. Some of the concerns...
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...
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...
Time flies so fast that we do not realize it until we reach milestones that remind us of the flowing river we all travel together. It was almost seven years ago my wife, Katie, and I greeted a little baby girl named Kathryn in the hospital when the...
This summer has been great for magic and magicians in general. Several are still in the running on "America's Got Talent" for the top prize, having auditioned with some mind-blowing magical effects ranging from the smallest close-up effects to the...
I did not think the loss of beloved celebrities could get any worse this year, but Monday evening was stunning for America and for me to learn of the death of multitalented, Oscar award winning actor and comic genius Robin Williams. He was not just...
If you have a squeamish stomach, or if the subject matter is too uncouth for you, then please read no further, because I'm going to talk potty. No, not dirty. Potty. Like in toilet. Latrine. Commode. The Head. Hopper. The John. Lavatory. Loo....
I open the drawer. As I search for a clean pair of underwear, I bypass the first two pairs because I know the elastic is all stretched out. I haven't thrown them out yet because they're good in a pinch. As I hit the bottom of the drawer, I realize...
Just so you know, I am not a hoarder. Well, I am not a hoarder if you compare me to someone featured on the TV show "Hoarders." Or like someone Frank and Mike might encounter on one of their picks on "American Pickers" when they think they've found...
Autumn begins one month from now and I can't wait. For me, it's all about the "F" words foliage, football and flea markets. Truth is, I really don't mind leaving summer behind. Summer isn't special to me. But fall brings the weather, sports and...
You're never too old to serve your country, even if you were born between 1893 and 1897. If you're in that age range, Uncle Sam wants you to register for the draft. Seriously. Here's how it happened. In June, the Pennsylvania Department of...
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...
While I was listening to a recent Chuck Swindoll "Insight for Living" radio broadcast, he cited a statistic about what we call "domestic violence." Two million cases of reported domestic violence involve some kind of weapon, he said. At first I...
Neel Kashkari made news last month when he wrote in The Wall Street Journal about "going homeless" to learn how the homeless live. Robert Friend doesn't have to read about the homeless to know how they live. Until four months ago, he was homeless...
Here I am sitting outside on our lanai during nature's light show. Most people call it lightning. Our lanai is covered so I can sit outdoors during most storms. Florida is the lightning capital of the world, and tonight it is claiming that...
It's 4 p.m. on a gloomy Tuesday afternoon, and I'm sitting in the dentist's office, waiting to have a crown installed over a broken molar. I'm pretty relaxed this dental practice is known for its gentle manner and I'm soon drawn in to the real...
I caught a television news brief recently about a wild dolphin which had been spotted ailing and swimming weakly in shallow coastal waters. The wild dolphin had been captured and taken to rehabilitate in a tank at Sea World.
I'll never forget the day my parents told me they were purchasing a cabin in Wyoming. What a waste, I thought. My stepdad had been flying there to hunt elk for years, but I had absolutely no interest in visiting myself. I was a senior in high school...

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 see those four words in my Facebook news feed every night.

Every night for over a year now.

It is a message to an angel in Heaven that my friend Jim posts each night since the passing of his beautiful daughter, because he misses her terribly and his heart still aches for her.

Thirty-year-old Jennifer, who had a smile that "brightened the darkest days," waged war against cancer for three years before her body succumbed to the disease.

I can't believe that the kids go back to school next week.

While waiting in line at WalMart this afternoon, I noticed several people with their shopping carts loaded with uniform clothing, binders, crayons, markers, organizers, colorful book covers, snazzy lunch bags, snacks and well, just everything, and I'm standing there thinking to myself "Well I think I have some leftover pens, pencils and paper from last year."

Summer seems to have just zoomed by me and the commencement of the new school year has caught me quite off guard and quite unprepared.

As I write this column the world is all aflutter over the "sudden" and "tragic" death of gifted actor and comedian Robin Williams.

Nearly every Facebook post I have seen has been about him and how sad it is.

Stories of his life and subsequent death dominate the media.

While my heart goes out to the family and friends that he has left behind, all of the hoopla makes me shake my head, especially when I read that people who never even met the man are crying and "beside themselves," and here's why: Mr. Williams was an adult man who made a choice to leave this place.

I consider myself to be a decent tipper.

I have held two waitressing jobs in my lifetime and know full well what is involved and what should be expected as a food server.

I also know the poor hourly wage that they are paid.

I don't understand why food servers are exempt from the minimum wage laws since they also spend some of their time making salads, refilling condiment bottles, making coffee, cleaning tables and the restaurant itself, but since they are, I tip.

You know the song.

It was released in 1979 by Rupert Holmes and was originally titled "Escape."

It became very popular, very quickly; however, people knew it as "The Pina Colada" song.

Mr. Holmes eventually agreed to change the title of it to: Escape (The Pina Colada song).

The song was basically about a guy who had become bored in his marriage and read the personal ads where he saw that a woman was looking for a man who enjoyed the same interests as she.

He responded to the ad and agreed to meet the woman at a bar.