Thursday, December 30, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowfall ... so cool

As one of the lucky ones who is on vacation this week, my daughter was able to snap a few -- well, a lot -- of photos out at our place on Monday after the snowstorm.
The snowfall looks so lovely on these photos ... I'm sharing a few here.
I wasn't feeling quite this appreciative, however, when we were shoveling and then when I was maneuvering the drifted roads on my way to work Monday morning.
But enjoy ... the snow always looks pretty on photos, doesn't it?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

the day after...

Hope you're enjoying the holiday weekend, despite the snow...


Saturday, December 25, 2010


Peace, love, kindness, compassion.
May all your Christmas wishes come true!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Simon's Cat in 'Santa Claws'

Anyone with a cat -- or multiple cats, as I do -- can relate to this scenario.
It's almost Christmas -- has your tree survived?
Sit back, relax and chuckle ... even if you don't have cats, you should love this!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wow... lunar eclipse on the winter solstice!

OK, so I admit I did not get up in the middle of the night to see the lunar eclipse. But I did catch the tail end around 4 a.m. today -- does that count?
Truly is cool that the full moon was on the winter solstice AND we had an eclipse!
Enjoy these Associated Press photos.
The huge moon photo shows the view from Stedman, N.C., taken with a 10-second time exposure.
The series of photos was taken over an hour-long period in Overland Park, Kan.

According to the AP, a total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth casts its shadow on the full moon, blocking the sun's rays that otherwise reflect off the moon's surface. Some indirect sunlight still pierces through to give the moon its eerie hue.
The totality phase — when the moon was completely immersed in Earth's shadow — lasted 72 minutes.

The last time a full eclipse occurred with the winter solstice was on Dec. 21, 1638. It won't happen again until Dec. 21, 2094, so I won't be around for that one!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Want to help stray cats?

It's so easy to do.
Stray Cat Blues, the local nonprofit, no-kill cat rescue, could possibly win $2,000 WITH YOUR HELP.
One of the Stray Cat volunteers works for Digitas, which is awarding $2,000 each week in December to charities with which their employees are involved.

Stray Cat Blues is one of the charities in the running to win $2,000 -- wouldn't that be a great Christmas present for the kitties! -- and you can help make that possible by voting for them.
It's easy... click here
to go to the Facebook page, click on POLL, vote, hit SUBMIT at the bottom -- and REPEAT!
Contest ends on Friday at 11 a.m. so spend some time every day putting in as many votes as you can! And spread the word.

And here's some info on the project:
Digitas has started what the company calls Group HUG (short for “Helping U Give”), to recognize their employees and the charities that they aid.

• You are invited to vote for your favorite charities under the “Polls” tab. Hit POLL, vote, go to bottom and hit SUBMIT.

• Each week, Digitas Health will award $2,000 to the charity with the most votes, for a total of $10,000 donated during December.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Everyone ready to air your grievances and perform feats of strength?
Have that festivus pole ready?
OK, me neither...
But in the spirit of the "holiday," let me wish you a Happy Festivus!
And just to lift your spirits on this day before Christmas Eve, here are a few photos of Christmas decorations brightening our house, graciously provided by my daughter.

Oh, Tannenbaum!

This year we decided to do something different and more personal when choosing our Christmas tree. When we visited my sister just after Thanksgiving (thank you, Mother Nature, for spoiling our actual Thanksgiving Day plans!), my brother-in-law was kind enough to cut down a "wild" tree for us.
First was the exciting ride on the back of a tractor to high atop a hill on their farm -- on a VERY cold day. But it was a lot of fun and we just love the tree.
And in the next photo, you'll see that our cat Zombie really loves it, too!
There was nothing quite like transporting it from Catawissa in the back of my Explorer -- the aroma was wonderful!
Hope we can do this again.
And if you're wondering what that is near the top of our tree, in the bottom photo, it's a Belsnickle ornament.
If you don't have any Pennsylvania Dutch in you, that may leave you scratching your head.
Hey, I'm sure you can Google it and find out the whole story!
As for this tree, we'll be sad to say goodbye after the holidays.
It may be our most favorite tree ever! Nothing cookie-cutter about it; totally natural.
You gotta love it!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pets like Santa, too

Come on, you know that your pets are part of your family.
So of course you want them to see Santa, right?
You have your chance again this year, thanks to Stray Cat Blues, the local no-kill cat rescue, which once again is working with PetSmart for an annual fundraiser.
For $9.95 you get a digital photo of your pet with Santa and a holiday frame. Five dollars of the price of the package is donated to Stray Cat Blues, a very worthy cause.
This year Stray Cat Blues volunteers will be covering this event in two locations on the following dates:
Dec. 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., plus Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at PetSmart at Witchwood Drive and Knapp Road, Montgomery Township; and on Dec. 11 and 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at PetSmart Providence Town Center, Arcola Road and Route 29, near Collegeville.
So gather up those cats, dogs, ferrets, snakes -- what have you.
Santa is waiting!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


OK, everyone has shopped on Black Friday (but me) and Cyber Monday (but me) and all those shoppers are in the holiday mood (me... a little).
And now it's Dec. 1 and the rain is pouring down.
Relax, enjoy the music and the fire ... snow will be here soon enough!
Happy December, Happy Hanukkah and an early Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where are the great decorations?

It's that time of year again -- time to deck the halls, the houses, the lawns, every square inch.
The Reporter wants to help you find the great places to view holiday lights -- and we need your help!
Let us know if you're creating a great display or know of one in the area.
Just email the details -- exact location, brief description -- to citydesk@thereporteronline; put LIGHTS DISPLAY in the subject line.
We'll post a map at our website,, and feature photos of some of the displays.
Hope to hear from you!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Decking the tree...

Tuesday night the grand tree at Rockefeller Center, NYC, will have its official lighting ceremony.
But this cool video shows how the tree was set up -- don't you wish we all could do it this quickly?
Check it out and get into the holiday spirit!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beatles come to iTunes at last

Yes, it's official. The Beatles are finally coming to the Internet.

According to an Associated Press story, Apple Inc. will sell music from the Fab Four through iTunes.
Apple Corps Ltd., which manages the band's affairs, had resisted, according to the AP.
The situation was exacerbated by a long-running trademark dispute between Apple Inc. and Apple Corps, AP said, but was resolved in 2007 when the companies agreed on joint use of the apple logo and name.

Most longtime Beatles fans probably already have plenty of their music on iPods, loading CDs into their iTunes library ... or through other, ahem, means.
But it's still great news.
Finally, everything has "come together."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you, veterans


Today is Veterans Day, and we should all show our appreciation to those who have served, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those who are serving today.
There are various local events today to honor our veterans.
Here is a sampling:
-- Warren Royer Post 234 of the American Legion in Souderton and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5308 in Telford will hold a flag retirement ceremony as part Veterans Day observance today. The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the Legion post home, 353 N. Main St., Souderton.

-- The Lansdale American Legion William E. Hare Post 206 holds the annual Veterans Day ceremony in Memorial Park, Main Street, Lansdale, at 6 p.m. today. Cub Pack 9 will present a wreath at the ceremony. The Rev. Sue Bertolette, of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Lansdale, will lead opening prayer and the benediction. Light snacks at the Legion post will follow the ceremony.

-- Hatfield American Legion Post 933 holds a Veterans Day ceremony at 7 p.m. today at the legion flagpole on Koffel Road. Civil War re-enactors from First Pennsylvania Reserves Company E Re-enactment Unit will appear to aid in the flag ceremony. Re-enactors and Boy Scout Troop 51 will help lower the colors and raise them at half-staff. Afterward, the public is invited to an open house at the Legion post home.

-- Applebee’s at Ralph’s Corner in Hatfield Township offers free meals to veterans from 10 a.m. to midnight today. To coincide with the promotion, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will give thank-you notes to veterans and talk with them about their experiences. There will be live bands outside playing patriotic music as well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

thank you, SAVE!

This photo shows a "beautiful" air conditioner, not unlike the few that I had hanging around my house until this past Saturday.
They weren't working, but I kept putting off calling our trash service to have them taken away, since they charge $60 apiece for that service.
Then, a bright ray of sunshine -- SAVE (Students Against Violating the Earth) at Souderton Area High School was holding a recycling day ... and taking air conditioners!
I loaded up all three ... and an old dehumidifier ... and was oh so happy to be able to get rid of them without that big price tag!
I was more than happy to give SAVE a donation that day ... after all, the group had saved me a lot of money!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cat abuse unfathomable

If you need yet another dose of how horrible some people can be to animals, just read this Associated Press story.
I don't understand how this can happen.
And it's more than scary that teens can be this callous and violent. AND THEY TAPED THIS! Just think what they might do to another human being some day...

Animal welfare officials in Philadelphia are alleging that two teenagers put a stray cat inside a microwave and tossed the appliance out of a third-story window.

Officials from the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals say the cat survived but was taken for evaluation by veterinarians. They say the teens recorded the entire episode on a cell phone on Wednesday afternoon in the Juniata section of the city.

George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania SPCA, told reporters that the teens had found the cat on the street four days earlier. He says the recording shows the events from start to finish, including the microwave hitting the ground. Bengal says officials hope the animal will survive. A dog was also taken from the home.

Luckily my "rescued" cats have nothing like this to fear.
This photo of Pokey basically sums up their "stressful" lives...

Monday, November 1, 2010

attack of the jacks!


If you missed heading to Gwynedd-Mercy College on Saturday, you missed a terrific Halloween display!
Here are just a few of the 300 craftily carved pumpkins that lit up the night.
It made for a great prelude to Halloween and benefited a good cause.
Absolutely worth the trip!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Harrisburg... worth the trip

ArtHouse Lounge in Harrisburg

I have to admit, Harrisburg was never exactly at the top of my "must tour" list. And I also have to admit that I still haven't seen a lot of it -- unless you count many, many trips to the Farm Show.
But during my time off last week... after that infamous trip to Shippensburg (see earlier blog post) ... I visited with that great friend who hosted us at his Cape Cod home this summer. Yes, that's his summer home; the rest of the year he lives just outside Harrisburg.
So after Ship, we stopped in for a visit and he treated us to an evening in the 'burg... a lovely walk along the river, a visit to an art show opening, a stop at another gallery called the ArtHouse Lounge, great food at a terrific place called Carley's and a truly dangerous stop at a huge used bookstore -- dangerous only because of how many books we already own.
But it was a great evening and I was pleasantly surprised at how lively and appealing Harrisburg turned out to be.
Definitely worth a return visit!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The Reporter streams from the press at Journal Register Offset, in this photo by online editor Chris Stanley.

The Reporter building, in early times...

Oct. 27 marks the 140th birthday of The Reporter!!
Don't miss our special section in print today -- and the great features on our website,

And, as a special treat, here's a song, just for The Reporter, from my boys...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ship happens

Some people say you can't go home again. Maybe they're right, at least where college is concerned.
I took last week off from work, and during that time I paid a visit to my alma mater, Shippensburg University. I hadn't been there for quite some time, and knew that a lot of things would have changed.
But at least I got one question answered. For some time, I've been wondering what the heck the new mascot was.
Back in the olden days when I was a student there, we were the Red Raiders and had as our mascot an Indian. That was replaced and now the logo is, I suppose, a pirate ship -- or some type of ship. It's annoying, to say the least. There's no ocean anywhere near Shippensburg.
In the alumni magazine, I'd see the new mascot from time to time, and figured it was a parrot. It was wearing a pirate's hat, after all.
But when I picked up The Slate, the student newspaper, last week, the mascot actually had a column -- and set the record straight. It's a red-tailed hawk, called Big Red.
OK... a hawk in a pirate's hat.
Yeah... Anyway, I had quite the time finding a shirt in the bookstore that didn't have a ship on it.
Finally found one that's quite fitting. It simply says: Ship Happens.
Yes, it does.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Join the 4-H alpaca fun!


As someone who always loved being a member of 4-H and, later, a leader, the news about a new club starting up caught my attention.
And it's not something you hear about every day -- its a 4-H Alpaca Club.
Yes, I've seen them at the fair as "displays" and we have a few farms in the area that raise alpacas.
Now youths will have a chance to work with them first-hand and, perhaps, they'll start raising them as well.
The first meeting of the club is set for this coming Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the 4-H Center on Route 113, Skippack. You don't have to own an alpaca to join, and there will be some alpacas at this first meeting.
Kids are advised to "come dressed for work around the animals" and it sounds like this should be both fun and informative. You have to be 9 to join in and there is an enrollment fee of $30, but it sure sounds worth it.
So consider joining up! Just call the 4-H Office at (610) 489-4315 and give your name, age, birth date, address and phone number. They can help you with the rest of the details.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thank you, Rotary of North Penn

I had the privilege to speak to the Rotary Club of North Penn this week -- and I thank the group for both the opportunity to address them and for putting up with my not-so-polished public speaking skills.
I told them I usually limit my "public speaking" to making sure the reporters have plenty to do each day.
But since this is the 140th anniversary year of The Reporter, it was great to share some tales of our history and where we are headed as a multimedia news production known as The Reporter.
And it was interesting to chat with some of the members -- thank you, Mayor Andy, and all the others who were so hospitable.
Before I left the meeting, I was handed a little brochure about the club, which is always interested in having new members join.
The slogan, "Service Above Self," is something this club obviously takes to heart. For example, they are involved in Lansdale Day and Bike Night, working to raise funds for local organizations; they hold holiday fruit sales to raise money for scholarships; help to sponsor international student exchanges; and sponsor local high school juniors to attend a leadership camp.
The members also take part in other community activities and, in 2005, raised $225,000 and built the bandshell in Whites Road Park, Lansdale, to commemorate the Rotary centennial.
This only brushes the surface, but you get the idea.
And if interested in joining this group, you should check their website at
Thanks again, Rotary, for inviting me to speak. It was a great evening.

Friday, October 8, 2010

people you'd like to leave for dead...

Pet lovers, beware.
This story from The Associated Press is enough to make you cry, vomit and then hit the trail to track down these horrible fiends.
Read and see what you think:

The Associated Press
Police in Vineland are searching for whoever left four kittens to die inside an abandoned pet carrier in a parking lot.

The dead animals were found by a bus driver taking his afternoon break.

A veterinarian who examined the kittens, which were about 6 to 8 weeks old, says they probably died of hypothermia from the recent cold and rainy weather.

Animal control officers found an empty, upside-down food bowl, along with urine and feces inside the pet carrier.

Police tell The Press of Atlantic City that the animals had no visible signs of injury, but were soaking wet.

No video surveillance footage of the parking lot could be found.

miss you, john

It's hard to believe that John Lennon would have turned 70 on Oct. 9 ... and that he's been gone so long.
But a thank you to Google UK for this Google Doodle in his honor.
Thanks for the magical mystery tour that you added to my life, John; I hope the world you're in now is the one you imagined.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cancer: Tell us about it

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it's also the time when The Reporter publishes a special section on those both fighting and surviving cancer.
We are dedicating this section to people who have fought all types of cancer. We know some of the stories may not have ended happily, but the fight is no less important.
So we hope you will be willing to share your stories about battling and/or surviving cancer, and also allowing your photos to be taken.
You can share stories about yourself, a family member or a friend.
Please send your stories to with the words “cancer story” in the subject line, by Oct. 8, or mail to Nona Breaux, The Reporter, 307 Derstine Ave., Lansdale PA 19446.
Please share you stories so that others will know they are not alone in this courageous fight.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's that? Rain!


It seems like forever since we've had any appreciable rain.
Maybe that's why everyone was having a bit of a hard time navigating the roadways this morning.
There WAS a lot of water on the roads and that leads to the danger of hydroplaning.
Add the school buses, people who still refuse to turn on their lights when their wipers are in operation (hey, it's the LAW), and the commute this morning was even more fun than usual.
Let's hope everyone made it to their destinations safe and sound.
And please, use some common sense when driving ... not only when it rains, but even in perfect weather.
Let's keep everyone safe out there.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Come on, Mother Nature


OK, it's officially autumn.
I have frozen through the blizzards of winter.
I have sweated through the hottest summer ever.
This is the season I love best.
So what is with these HOT temperatures???
Enough, already. I want cooler days and crisp nights.
I want beautiful leaves.
I want to wear sweaters and drink hot chocolate.
I want to disconnect the air conditioners!
I don't ask for much.
Are you listening, Mother Nature?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's carnival time!


OK, so summer officially ends this week, but Mother Nature isn't taking notice anyway -- not with the blazing temps predicted for several days.
So it's the perfect time to head out to the carnival, and Upper Gwynedd provides just that opportunity.
If you want to ride the merry-go-round, play some carny games or just stuff your face, this is the place for you.
The Upper Gwynedd Township Carnival kicks off Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Parkside Place complex off Sumneytown Pike. And you can ride all the rides that day for $20! Or if you plan to go back a lot -- it DOES run through Sunday! -- a mega pass for $35 allows you to ride all the rides the entire carnival.
Fireworks are set for Friday and Saturday nights, weather permitting. Hours are Friday, 6 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.
So there's plenty of time for that one last blast of summer (even though it is autumn!).
For more info, call (215) 699-7777.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

ah, those autumn leaves

These cool nights have me dreaming of autumn.
Some leaves are starting to change and fall.
Enjoy this autumn preview ... and Roger's great tune!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

cat in the box

This is too funny ... and as any cat owner will avow -- myself included -- this IS a common, but hilarious, event.
Cats LOVE empty boxes. Sometimes the boxes have far fewer than nine lives, however.
Enjoy! And if you don't have a cat, be sure to adopt a few soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Calling all Beatles fans


Today is a great day for Beatles fans -- um, like myself.
Another DVD has been released, featuring their early appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and including the cool commercials that were featured during the show.
The Beatles, of course, need nothing to make the DVD even more of a must have, but hey, getting to relive a bit of that era is always fun.

So here is the review of the new DVD issue, as reported by David Bauder of The Associated Press:

A new DVD about the Beatles' initial appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" is like cracking open a time capsule.

Almost as interesting as the band making its musical introduction to America in 1964 is the context in which it is placed. The DVD presents the programs exactly as they appeared that night — complete with hapless magicians or comedians, commercials that would shame "Mad Men" and illustrations of how the pace of television has changed.

The first night, Feb. 9, 1964, is a landmark in television. An estimated 73 million Americans tuned in, the largest ever for a TV show at the time, or three times the amount of people who watched the latest "American Idol" finale, according to the Nielsen Co.

A generation of musicians can trace their career choices to that night. One was Dennis DeYoung, former Styx lead singer, who told the Montreal Gazette that he watched it while at a high school dance.

"I looked at that and I went, 'Oh, my God! What is that? And how do I apply for that job?'" he recalled. "That was it. There was never any doubt in my mind what I wanted in my life."

A similar DVD was made available in 2003, but without the commercials and with limited distribution. Tuesday's release of "The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring the Beatles" has some interviews and material that hasn't been seen since the 1960s. SOFA Entertainment, which owns the archive of Sullivan shows (a staple on CBS' Sunday-night schedule from 1948 to 1971), released the new package after getting the OK from the Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd.

Sullivan, the competitive old newspaper columnist, clearly knew the high stakes involved that night and gave the Beatles two showcases on the first show.

While the Beatles' appearance stands in memory like a thunderclap, their power seemed muted the first time they hit the stage. Their first two songs, "All My Loving" and "Til There Was You," were both Paul McCartney showcases and the band didn't really hit its stride until the powerful "She Loves You." Even then, the cameras seemed to shortchange John Lennon in favor of McCartney.

For all the attention paid to that first night in New York, their performances on the following week's show from Miami are much better. They had repeats: "She Loves You" was played both weeks.

Cutaways to the audience show young girls who can barely stay in their seats from the excitement of it all. Older people look bored, annoyed and clueless to the generational change staring back at them.

The Beatles' cheekiness, enthusiasm and talent was bracing.

"It's like they were in color and everybody else was in black and white," said Andrew Solt, CEO of SOFA Entertainment.

Watching the magician with the hard luck of following the Beatles to the stage that first night is painful. Fred Kaps' show biz career never really recovered from that moment, Solt said. It seemed his routine would never end.

The sense that television moves much more quickly today is one of the most interesting finds in the DVD time capsule. Mitzi Gaynor, who was once the princess of musical comedy, gave a sweaty performance from Miami, has enough time for costume changes. Comic Frank Gorshin's routine with movie star impersonations was interminable.

The comic team of McCall & Brill, with a punch line about an "ugly girl," would not have made it past today's taste police.

One other performance in that first week came from the cast of the Broadway show "Oliver," including a young Davy Jones, whose life was changed in the wake of the Beatles' performance in a way he couldn't have imagined. A few years later, he was cast as one of the Monkees, a prefab rock band that was a Beatles knockoff.

Sullivan "didn't spend too much money on talent that week because he knew he had the audience," Solt said.

Producers plainly believed people had an attention span then, certainly much more so than now. Perhaps the knowledge that viewers had to get out of their seats to turn the channel — and then had a couple of choices, not north of 100 other networks — was on their mind.

The same is true of the ads. Can you imagine a commercial break with only one commercial?

Maybe it was what they were hawking, but the ads are stunningly unimaginative. What were the Madison Avenue pitch men of the day thinking? Then again, even an image of waves lapping up on a tropical shore couldn't save an instant pineapple upside down cake that was stocked in a supermarket freezer. Cold water detergent All was called "revolutionary."

The DVD also contains Sullivan shows from Feb. 23, 1964 and Sept. 12, 1965 when the Beatles also performed. Twenty songs in all are performed, including three versions of "I Want to Hold Your Hand." The DVD also has a short interview Sullivan did with the Beatles in London in May 1964 that hasn't been seen since the day it aired.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

silly start to september

OK, August is over, September is here.
Kids either have headed back to school already or will next week.
Perhaps you'll get one last weekend in at the shore...
So sit back and take in something totally silly as September makes its debut...

Monday, August 30, 2010

summer grows shorter


OK, let’s all say it.
How the heck did it get to be the end of August already?
You can hear the chorus of anguished voices of area kids, as they lament the end of their summer vacation.
You can hear the joyful sighs of parents who have run out of things to keep those same kids busy.
And you can hear the cash registers humming away at all those back-to-school shopping sprees.
I, for one, don’t mourn the end of August.
As hot and humid as this summer has been, I simply hope that September cuts us a break and ushers in slightly cooler days.
I do lament not having anyone to take shopping for school supplies, though.
My days of taking a youngster to buy crayons and pencils, choose a few new outfits or pick out a bookbag or Trapper Keeper are long, long gone.
And I have to admit, that was a favorite time of the year for me.
There was something about heading to the store for a new lunchbox, colored pencils and notebook paper that just felt so comforting.
Not to mention the wave of nostalgia that would hit when you breathed in the aromas that those supplies seem to emit.
It took me back to my own childhood somehow, and even though school days weren’t always idyllic, the intervening years dimmed the unpleasant memories and seemed to highlight the happy ones.
Yes, I did love back-to-school shopping.
But no, that’s OK; you don’t have to offer to lend me your children. I have my memories.
As others may, as noted, be bathed in disbelief that August is drawing to a close and the start of school is nigh, I am simply basking in anticipation of autumn.
I can’t wait to pull out some sweaters; put away summery home decor and create a feeling of fall instead; enjoy the turning leaves and, if lucky, breathe in the unbeatable aroma of those same leaves being burned (much more difficult now, with so many regulations).
And of course once fall arrives, Halloween can’t be far behind.
So enjoy these fleeting days of August and the upcoming Labor Day holiday.
I, for one, will be dreaming of autumn.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

too many doomed animals


I hope every person around here who has cats -- or dogs -- that they refuse to spay or neuter reads this Associated Press story. It it a long story and very upsetting. But it must be read.
And it could be anywhere, not just in northwestern Pennsylvania.
To all those who think their pets should "have at least one litter," read this.
To all those who are so sure people will want to adopt puppies and kittens, read this.
We have many wonderful rescue groups in this area that try to save as many animals as possible.
Our SPCA does its part, too.
But here is the grim reality for far too many precious animals.
Read it. Cry. Take action.

Erie Times-News

ERIE — There is reverence in this room.

For the difficult task performed. For each cat or dog, treated with calming compassion until the very end.

The euthanasia room, tucked away inside the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania, has little in it. The walls are bare and painted light purple. An examination table is placed near the middle.

A staff member, wearing long rubber gloves, removes the animal from one of the clinic's cages and carries it into this room.

Another worker often apologizes to the cat or dog, and then injects it with a dose of sodium pentathol.

The animal is dead within three or four seconds.

But on Thursday at the Humane Society, one animal was followed by another, and another, and another.

Officials said 20 cats were euthanized that day, 15 of which were healthy and at the shelter for less than two weeks.

Euthanasia, predominantly of cats, is soaring at area animal shelters — a crisis, officials say, brought on by a drop in adoptions and a sharp rise in drop-offs of stray and abandoned cats that local clinics are calling an epidemic.

The culprit, shelters believe, is the bad economy matched with the expenses of having a pet, making the sad rise in euthanized animals — many of which are healthy and adoptable — one of the more startling fallouts of the recession.

The Humane Society euthanized 73 percent of its cat intakes between April 2009 and this past July. The clinic projects it will euthanize more than 1,600 cats in 2010, its highest number in at least a decade, said Joe Grisanti, the shelter's executive director.

In 2008, the Millcreek Township agency took in 1,258 cats, adopted out 624, and euthanized 467. In 2009, intakes nearly doubled, to 2,114 cats, while adoptions dropped to 518. The clinic euthanized 1,436 cats.

The Humane Society — which euthanizes for medical reasons, behavioral issues and shelter space, according to its executive director — is on pace in 2010 to see its cat intakes surpass 2009's total.

Grisanti said the shelter, which typically holds about 150 animals, cannot keep up with the pace of strays and abandoned cats being dropped off given the low number of adoptions.

"Everyone thinks this is an adoption agency, but it's a euthanasia agency. And the public doesn't want to know that, and isn't able to digest that," Grisanti said. "People think that this special cat is going to get a wonderful home when dropped off here, but they give little consideration to what will really happen. And that reality is very hard on us because we put to death animals we love, admire and respect every day."

The shelter also has seen more signs of neglect, abuse and significantly diminished health in the drop-offs, leading to a rapid spread of illness throughout the clinic and the harsh consequence of having little chance of being adopted.

Grisanti said he and his staff of about 20 are "frustrated, saddened and angry" at what he calls "an outrageous display of behavior by irresponsible pet owners and the public who contribute to this very serious crisis."

Shelter officials believe there are tens of thousands of stray and abandoned cats roaming the Erie region, overloading animal enforcement officers this year with nearly twice as many cats as officers collected in 2009.

The recession, which began in late 2007, placed a crunch on pet owners' wallets, officials say, and still continues to make them less likely to spay or neuter and more likely to leave their pet outdoors. That habit has spurred a massive spike in mating and led to more unwanted litters.

The poor economy also created a larger number of transients: people faced with new landlords not accepting of pets, and more pet owners with less money eventually giving up on those animals.

"I'm getting bogged down with strays. I've never seen it this bad," said Kris Watkins, manager of the A.N.N.A. Shelter, 1555 E. 10th St., adding that her clinic has seen a 20 percent spike in cat intakes from 2009.

The shelter receives most of its cats and dogs through contracts with several animal enforcement agencies, including the city of Erie, Erie County and Lawrence Park Township.

Watkins said her agency accepts drop-offs from the public by appointment only.

"I have to be selective. I don't have a lot of space," she said. "If we opened our doors and let anyone come in and drop off a cat, the numbers would be astronomical."

The shelter, which opened in 2004, tries to keep its cat population at about 60, said its director, Ruth Thompson Caroll. Last week, A.N.N.A. had 119 cats, and at times this year has taken in three times as many kittens as normal.

Caroll said the shelter euthanized more cats between October and December of 2009 than any three-month period in its history.

"The public needs to be educated on what has become a cat epidemic," she said. "People think they're doing the good-Samaritan thing by feeding and sustaining these stray cats. But they don't spay or neuter, and if the cat doesn't come back, they just do the same thing for the next one to come along."

Shelters take various steps to spare a cat or dog the finality of euthanasia.

Community lost-and-found lists are checked.

Ads are run in newspapers.

Clinic staff scan the animals for microchip implants and any identification that would link a pet to its owner.

Lately, at the Humane Society, those efforts have been futile.

On Thursday, a short-haired black cat was curled up toward the back of a cage inside what the shelter calls its "known-history" room. The 6-year-old, dropped off at the clinic on Aug. 10, had goopy discharge around his watery eyes, and he couldn't stop sneezing.

The room, as big as a walk-in bedroom closet, had 15 cats inside 12 cages, including two litters of kittens on Thursday. Sounds of meowing and an occasional hiss filled the space, which is directly next door to the shelter's "unknown-history room."

In here, there is little hope.

One cat wheezed with respiratory failure. Another cat had physical wounds and open sores.

In a bottom corner cage was a gray 2-pound stray, picked up by Millcreek Township animal enforcement after he was found in the parking lot.

On this day, this will be the last morning 20 of these cats see.

Once euthanized, they are individually wrapped in a plastic bag, stored in a freezer for a day or two, and then taken in 400-pound batches to a crematory inside the building.

Hurricane Katrina, five years later


If you're planning a trip to Washington, D.C., put the Newseum on your "must visit" list.
Starting Friday, the museum that highlights news and First Amendment rights will open a yearlong special exhibit commemorating Hurricane Katrina and what has occurred -- or not occurred -- in the five years that have passed since the devastating storm hit the Gulf Coast.
It focuses specifically on how journalists covered the disaster.
It most definitely is not geared just to journlists, but to every American.

Here is the Associated Press story, written by Brett Zongker, detailing the exhibit:

Jarring headlines from the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina said it all: "Catastrophic," ''Hitting Bottom," ''Help Us, Please."

Five years later, the Newseum on Friday will open a special, one-year exhibit, "Covering Katrina," that explores and explains how journalists reported on the disaster and its aftermath.

The Newseum assembled the accounts and belongings of journalists, newspaper stories and artifacts from the Louisiana State Museum for what curators believe is the first major exhibit on news coverage of Katrina.

About 80 front pages from around the world show how the story unfolded as the storm bore down on Louisiana and Mississippi — and what followed. At the time, newspapers and TV reporters were the only link between the people needing help and the government that could provide it.

"It puts you right there in the middle of the storm," Newseum chief executive Charles Overby said of the exhibit. "As you recall, the government was slow to respond, but the media wasn't."

The museum also produced a film offering reflections from TV journalists as well as two newspapers that shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for public service for their Katrina coverage — the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Sun Herald of Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss.

The exhibit includes a Gulf Coast map from the Sun Herald newsroom with pins confirming the dead in Mississippi, an anti-looter sign from a New Orleans shop and a rusty ax used by a journalist to break into a colleague's home to rescue pets.

There's even a kayak deployed by a photographer to navigate flooded New Orleans streets and two bicycles used by reporters to first discover the levees had been breached.

"In that flash of a moment, they both realize that we're doomed," Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss said in the Newseum film. "The water has broken through the flood walls and that the oceans are rushing into this city."

Editor Stan Tiner at the Sun Herald explains on film that Katrina brought an urgent demand for information. He recalled people leaving a water line when the newspaper truck arrived to clamor for a paper.

"One of the most righteous jobs we did was to deliver the paper," Tiner said.

Much of the exhibit focuses on how journalists at the two prize-winning papers overcame enormous challenges and risks to inform the public and hold government accountable.

"Even when their families were in peril and their homes were being destroyed, they continued being journalists," said Susan Bennett, the Newseum's exhibit chief.

The exhibit includes reflections from such familiar journalists as NBC's Brian Williams, Shepard Smith of FOX News and ABC's Robin Roberts, who went searching for her mother and family while reporting from Mississippi's coast.

A longer, 30-minute film will play in the museum's Documentary Theater with sounds from inside the Louisiana Superdome as the storm beat down and later, the crowds chanting, "Help! Help! Help!"

For more, check

Monday, August 23, 2010

remember the thunderbolt?

If you remember Willow Grove Amusement Park, you must remember the Thunderbolt, that great old wooden coaster.
I love those coasters, but have to admit I never rode the Thunderbolt. Why? Our dad deemed it too dangerous. Supposedly, someone had stood up when the ride was flying along, fallen out and died.
True? Who knows...
So even when I was a teen and would go there sans parents, I'd still get that directive: "Don't ride the Thunderbolt."
I never did, figuring that with my luck, I'd fall off, die and then my dad would kill me. Great reasoning, right?
I guess it never hit me that he'd never know if I actually rode the coaster.
Sigh. Now the whole park is gone. But I didn't disobey dad ... at least when it came to the Thunderbolt.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Festival-goers need help??

If you are driving around Upper Salford this weekend, you'll see lots of extra signs that tell you things like:

In case you think Upper Salford residents need all this extra help, take heed: They are posted by the Philadelphia Folksong Society because of this weekend's Philly Folk Fest. Apparently festival-goers need extra help figuring out the already posted road signs.
For future reference: Yes, a lot of our roads are narrow and winding. But they do have lines down the middle and you are warned about curves and such.
Just drive carefully. You'll save the Folksong Society a lot of time putting up all these annoying signs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

going to the philly folk fest?

The Philadelphia Folk Festival kicks off Friday in Upper Salford, and of course The Reporter will be there. We'll be providing all sorts of coverage -- on our Web site at, in print, stories, photos and videos, plus check out the blogspot at
What about you -- are you heading out to the fest? If so, we'd love to have you send in folk festival photos or videos, which will be posted on the blog during the weekend.
Just send you submissions to

Come on, join in the fun and turn this into YOUR blogspot for the Philadelphia Folk Festival!