Friday, July 3, 2015
     

When I was a kid, I loved Walt Disney. I loved his television shows like "Disneyland," "Walt Disney Presents" and "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color."

I was a huge fan of all his cartoons and characters.

When I learned about Disneyland in California, it was a dream of mine to someday go there. I especially wanted to visit Tomorrowland … a vision of the future as far into 1986. I could see his vision of a world with buildings that looked like spaceships and futuristic trains that ran in the sky. Oh, what a world it would be!

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...
One of my recent college students turned in an opinion paper where she had intended to say, "From the get go, it was obvious that the speaker was going to tell it like it is with no holds barred." What she wrote, however, was, "From the gekko, it...
Football saved my life. At a time when many parents are evaluating whether the health risks of playing football are worth the societal rewards, I reflect on the fateful decision I made 60 years ago to go out for football in my junior year of high...
As my wife, Marie, and I were cruising down the superhighway of a picture-perfect retirement, our lives slammed into a brick wall and were turned upside down and inside out. It was Valentine's Day 2012 a day synonymous with romance, flowers and an...
Twelve and a half years to be exact, I was working in my office on a project for my full-time job as a business consultant when the phone rang. On the other end was a familiar voice with whom I spoke occasionally, Times News editor Bob Urban. While...
We are bombarded by so many events in our lives that it is a wonder we are able to function. Because of all this continual stimulation that is magnified by the frenetic pace of today's society, one wonders how we cope with this never-ending stream...
Sometimes it is interesting how two random events could intersect with each other at just the right moment to make one think, even if it's just a few minutes. I will begin with a question: What does the Garden of Eden and a research paper from the...
When I was a kid, I loved Walt Disney. I loved his television shows like "Disneyland," "Walt Disney Presents" and "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color." I was a huge fan of all his cartoons and characters. When I...
Harry has many titles. He is my Hunter Man, my Fisher Man, my Honey Man … and now he has a new title. He doesn't like to sit idle for too long. It's just not in his nature. So if he has spare time, he'll still find something to do. Case in point: We...
How hard could it possibly be to find a good beanbag? Well, I'm living proof of how hard it can be. I grew up with a family of beanbaggers. On any given summer Sunday at my Wernett grandparents' home where many of the clan gathered, some of the men...
It takes a lot of courage to say the obvious. "Guilty of first-degree murder with a sentence of life in prison without parole." The decision of a Lehigh County jury on Tuesday summed up the feelings of many observers over the past 16 months. The...
Achoo! Anybody suffering from allergies knows 2015 is the worst year for symptoms since maybe 2006. Sneezing, headache, runny nose, postnasal drip, inflamed sinuses and itchy eyes. Experts said all along the prolonged winter would come back to haunt...
Dear graduates, Karen Carpenter isn't around to give your commencement address. But if she were, she'd likely say you've only just begun. White lace and promises. A kiss for luck and you're on your way. And that's a scary thought after having spent...
By PATTIE MIHALIK newsgirl@comcast.net One afternoon while my husband and I were kayaking together on the bay, I was following him through shallow channels that were dotted with mangroves. When anyone is following David, it's essential to keep an...
By PATTIE MIHALIK newsgirlcomcast.net Decades ago when I started writing this newspaper column, publisher Fred Masenheimer made the decision to run the column in the form of a letter to a friend. We started the column each week with the salutation:...
By PATTIE MIHALIK newsgirlcomcast.net A few years back, I wrote a column about needing to believe in "Someday." I need to believe the day would come when I would get around to all my good intentions my do it "Someday" projects. I need to believe...
As you're reading this, I am in a place far, far away. No, I'm not basking in the Caribbean sun, or downing martinis on a beach in the Bahamas. Nevertheless, it is a location where I'm quite comfy, and best of all, void of any restrictions. Perhaps...
By LISA PRICE lprice@tnonline.com And just like that, one day it was time for them to go. I dangled my fingers into the nest to make sure, and for a couple days I kept a lookout for the straggler I'd put back into the nest a couple times. But none...
By CHRIS PARKER cparker@tnonline.com It's a perfect Friday afternoon, and my beloved and I are sitting in rocking chairs on our front porch, taking a break from mowing, mulching and weeding. As we sip water and chat, what we at first think is a...

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?

As I pulled into my parking space after being at work on Monday, all I wanted to do was take a nap in front of the air conditioner.

I had not really slept all that well over the weekend and my body cried out for some solid sleep time.

After getting out of my car, I was informed by a family member of one of my neighbors that the power was out and wouldn't be back on until 5:30.

Considering that it was 4:50, I didn't think anything of it and went upstairs to claim my nap regardless.

I was sitting outside on my porch trying to decompress after a very long and stressful day when I noticed a bird land on one of the telephone wires in front of my house.

It was a very drab brown and black and looked kind of dirty to me.

Its feathers were a little ruffled and I thought to myself, "that is one ugly bird."

As if that bird read my mind, it scooted itself about a foot and a half further across the line and promptly pooped on my car window.

Ugly, telepathic AND mean-spirited.

I had to do a bit of a double take when I first read the headline. Surely this had to be some satirical piece disguised as actual news.

Nope. It's real.

"Pentagon deploys 'May I kiss you?' training."

I read it again and shook my head in disbelief.

It would seem that last week, the United States Air Force awarded a $10,000 contract to a company known as The Date Safe Project to provide three training sessions to servicemen and women to instruct them on consent and the prevention of sexual assault including bystander intervention. Each session lasts 60-90 minutes.

I love to be able to get away every now and again, even if only for a couple of days.

I enjoy the change of scenery and waking up someplace different, whether at the home of a friend or family member or even on an air mattress in my tent.

I am, however, really leery about staying in hotels and motels.

Over the years I have had some rather unpleasant experiences that make me cringe to even think about.

As a kid, my mom and I always spent a week "down the shore."

I remember the first time I used a computer.

I was quite intimidated by the thing and thought for sure I would break it.

The woman who was instructing me on its use assured me that there was no way, aside from hitting it with a hammer, that I could break this wonderful and mysterious piece of office equipment.

I don't remember much of what I was taught that first day, except for one thing she said decades ago: "Garbage in, garbage out" or GIGO.

GIGO is an acronym used in computer science that means that bad input will result in bad output.