Saturday, January 31, 2015


Saturday, December 3, 2011
Living behind the Great Firewall

It seems cheap sneakers, iPads and iPhones, and a Christmas wish list of consumer goods won't be China's only exports arriving on America's shores. Censorship and government meddling in a free and open Internet might be turning up, too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Richard Ockenhouse is not quite sure how many kids he and his late wife, Mary, raised but he thinks it is between 50 and 60. He adopted 12 of them in one day.

Richard Ockenhouse is not quite sure how many kids he and his late wife, Mary, raised but he thinks it is between 50 and 60. He adopted 12 of them in one day.

Richard was born in Lehighton in 1929. He struggled in school with a type of dyslexia that initially had him writing backwards then developed into a short-term memory problem.

Saturday, November 5, 2011
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Jyneal Green pins the Eagle badge onto her son, Brent Green, during his Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony Sunday at St. John's Lutheran Church in Palmerton, while Brent's father, Mike Green, watches on.

He's climbed the highest of mountains and ascended to a level realized by few.

Joined by family and friends, Brent Green was honored last Sunday with an Eagle Scout Court of Honor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Palmerton.

During his speech, Brent thanked all those who assisted him with his project, whereby he installed the playground at the Stoney Ridge P.A.R.C. along Fireline Road in Lower Towamensing Township.

Saturday, October 15, 2011
CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Panther Valley Elementary School Principal William Lombardo, high school Principal Joseph Gunnels and middle school Principal Lisa Mace stand by a poster in the high school promoting positive values.

The Panther Valley School District is pushing back against cultural influences that lead to rudeness, bullying and a lack of responsibility with an upbeat method.

Administrators are welcoming students to a common-ground culture of civility, respect for themselves and others, and personal responsibility through a statewide program called Positive Behavior Support.

Saturday, August 13, 2011
PHOTO BY BRANDON TAYLOR Even fast food chains in China, like this Beijing Subway sandwich shop, have been targeted for improper food safety practices.

Four. That's the number of times I've had food poisoning since moving to China. I'm not talking about a little bellyache here and there, but stomach infections that induce Exorcist-like projectile vomiting. The kind of sick where Pepto Bismal and Immodium are the equivalent to sticking your finger in hole in a dam about to break brief relief followed by a deluge. On one of those occasions, I was thoroughly convinced that a small "Alien" creature would be bursting from my stomach any second.

Saturday, August 6, 2011
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Upon entering the room, Mark Davalos is quiet-a most mannerly Clark Kent or perhaps a Dr. Jekyll, who can turn around, and in an instant become a Mr. Hyde-in the guise of his ring persona, Bad Billy Walker.

Is pro-wrestling a sport or a performance? According to Mark Davalos of Lansford, pro-wrestling is both. Each match is a mythic performance of good versus evil set against a demanding feat of athletic punishment.

Davalos should know. He and his wife, Renee, have been pro-wrestlers since the 1990s as headliners in the Johnny Rodz World of Unpredictable Wrestling. Mark Davalos teaches up-and-coming wannabes the skills to become pro-wrestlers.

Saturday, June 25, 2011
At the Visitor Center at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Farmington, Pennsylvania, the story is told how a young George Washington led a regiment of Virginia frontiersmen into a skirmish with French troops that escalated into the French and Indian War.

In the rural southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, but much closer to the Maryland and West Virginia borders, is a site where George Washington surrendered, started the first world war, and sowed the seeds of the American Revolution.

Saturday, June 18, 2011
Travel companion Layla and I visit the Three Pagodas at Dali built in the Tang Dynasty about 1,200 years ago.

(This the final part of a series of articles about Taylor's recent trip to south China's Yunnan Province. More photos appear at


Standing amid a sea of yellow wheat, the tall golden grains waving ever so gently in the wind, I was just about as out of place as you could get. Wearing jeans and a fake black North Face jacket, I stood out from the Chinese workers in their iconic saucer-shaped field hats and torn pants.

Saturday, May 28, 2011
BRANDON TAYLOR/TIMES NEWS Dai residents gather for a re-enactment of a water splashing festival, usually held every April during the Dai's New Year celebrations In Dai culture, water symbolizes purity or the ability to wash away the past and start anew. Splashing water is a gesture of goodwill toward one's family, friends, neighbors or anyone who happens to get in the way of a water-filled bowl.

(Editor's Note: This is the first column in a four-part series on Taylor's recent trip to south China's Yunnan province.)

Yunnan, one of China's southernmost provinces, means "south of the clouds." It's a name fit for fairy tales and other childhood stories, one that hints at hiding something behind its cloudy veil. The name couldn't be more spot on.

Saturday, May 14, 2011
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Artists Victor Stabin of Jim Thorpe and Mary Kocher of Palmerton in front of a painting by Kocher of her daughter's wedding day discuss their common Oak Ridge, Tennessee history. Stabin's father and Mary and her husband worked there on the Manhattan Project.

Two Carbon County artists, who had never previously met and are a generation apart in age, have one thing in common.

They are both connected to the town that didn't exist.