Monday, February 28, 2011

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Just a reminder that March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.  Take some time out and remind that relative or friend, man or woman that is approaching age 50 to get screened. 

If you have a family history of colon cancer please consult your family physician.  Thanks to the mother of our model above from 2008 and a caste of characters, colon cancer screening is covered by all insurance companies in Pennsylvania.

Colon Cancer is treatable and curable with screening and early detection, however it still remains at number two of all cancer deaths in the US.

Also a big shout out goes to Molly and Erika.  Molly was the founder of Colon Club.   It is a non-profit organization started in 2003 dedicated to  raising awareness of colorectal cancer in out-of-the-box ways.  Since 2005, the organization has put out their edition of the Colondar since 2005.  Erika, a stage IV colon cancer survivor and former Snyder County resident has been brave enough to be on cover since it's inception.  The above picture is a personal favorite from 2008. Erika also sits on the board the directors of the Colon Club.

Once again, a big shout out to these amazing women and colon cancer survivors.

The Streak is Over

Well after taking up umpiring high school softball a few years and extending it to summer ball, it was a way of being part of a game I loved without getting back on a team.  The dome in Muncy, PA gave me the opportunity to umpire in the winter, that is, until it collapsed.

In January of 2010, I started of umpiring 13 straight months.  Well, as of tonight the streak is over. March will start a new streak.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Death, Taxes and Friends

This post was originally written last February.  With all the recent tragedy in our local area, we always need friends.  Here is the story of a 40-plus year friendship.  Enjoy!!!!

As the old say goes, there isn't much in life you can count on except for death and taxes.  Well, maybe we could start adding friends to the list.

I grew up in a small coal mining community in central PA and make my home nearby today.  While growing up the coal was pretty much gone but not the way of life.  While growing up the men worked some blue collar job, the women stayed home or worked in a garment factory and life was pretty much the same for everyone in the neighborhood.  School, church and several generations of family living close by were the norm.

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of attending a funeral for man that reached age 97.  I had been a family friend for over 30 years and time in a busy schedule gave me the opportunity to attend.  There is always something you could learn at funeral and yesterday wasn't any different.

Yesterday was about friendship.  Two friends were there for each other, but on the surface they couldn't be more different.  One ventured out and went to college.  The other sought employment after high school.  One never got married, while the other has been in with her high school sweetheart for over 30 years. (Does it seem that long.)  One has a child while the other has gone this far without a child.  Ironically, they went to different high schools in the same town.

You know people so long you forget how different people met.  Yesterday, I found out how these two life-long friends had the chance to meet.  It was something very simple like the first day of kindergarten.  To protect the innocent, I will not say who was crying and who wasn't.  One girl comes home from kindergarten and tells her mommy school is great but there is another girl in my class that cries all the time.  Mommy suggests to her little girl that maybe the other little girl needs a friend. 

"Maybe you could be her friend," says the mommy to her little girl?  In little time, they find out they live around the block from each other and the rest is history.  They remained friends despite forging two completely different trails in life.  Two people forging a friendship that has last over 40 years and being their in there in one's most time of need, the death of a loved one.

We can always count on death and taxes in this life, but a best friend can be forever!!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ciavarella Trial Fallout

Last Friday, Judge Mark Ciavarella was found guilty on 12 of 39 counts against him.  For the most part, it was an indictment of four men who made big money off the taxpayers of Luzerne County.  While Luzerne County signed a 20 year lease agreement for 58 million or 1.3 million a year, there was no stipulation that the detention centers had to be full or not.  The money was coming in regardless.

Now for the big question, what about privatization?  If certain people would have their own way, many government functions would be bid out and privatized.  While most counties in PA are not equipped to handle juvenile offenders in a treatment facility. 

In this scenario, you had two judges who get elected to 10 year terms hooking up with a greedy lawyer and greedy developer.  While money is tight in local budgets thread lightly when you think you might save a buck farming something out.

Adding to the Blogroll

It has been awhile since I added to my blogroll.  I have my reasons for reading them.  They are usually a good read, informative, and cover something in the news our corporate media outlets manage to miss with regularity.  Most are on the left side of the political discussion while a few are on the right and a one or two are for pop culture.

365 Days with Jackie is fairly new.  Y102.5's Jackie Hoffman Wenrich of the morning show formerly of T-102 in Pottsville and a Pottsville native will write a daily journal of her life.  Good luck Jackie and looking forward to the read. Jackie is the female version of the Coal Region Voice.

A good start to reading about what going on or what is wrong with Marcellus Shale is the Susquehanna River Sentinel.  This blog along with Casablanca, Big Dan, Marcellus Maguires may land you on someones watch list. Although never meeting Dan, he looks to be a bad ass dude.

Circumlotion and Purebunkum will keep you on the right while Simply Left, PA Progressive,  and NCFE will get you back on the left all with great writing.

A big shout out goes to Nepartisan's Tom Bothwick who is putting his citizenship where is mouth his and running for the Scranton school board.

As Al Morganti would write in his hockey column, and where have you gone Gort42.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Toast to TPR (1966-2000)

Monday marks 11 years that our good friend Terry Reiley lost his battle with leukemia.  Those of us at Villanova who were part of his circle of friends could always remember the funny laugh and most of all the contagious personality.  Often when we would gather together whether it was day or night you didn't know where you were going, but somehow Terry would be leading the way.

Besides starting a business and graduating from law school, Terry was elected elected mayor of Pottsville all after his diagnosis in 1996. For me his battle was a source a source of strength when I had endure my own battle with cancer in 2003.  Terry always said, "Leukemia or not, I can't stop living my life."

Monday night I will lift a Black and Tan and watch the Villanova-Syracuse game.  Those of us that were at Villanova are still grateful for touching our lives.

Britney and the Judge

This past week was a tough one on children in Northeast Pennsylvania.  On what could be the fringe of Northeast PA Britney Tongel took her own life a result of being cyber-bullied while Mark Ciavarella was convicted in the "Kids for Cash" trial of the century.

In both cases, the children have lost their voice.  Ciavarella was a judge in Luzerne County presiding over the juvenile court system. Over the years, he teamed up with another judge, a lawyer and developer and took the Luzerne County taxpayers on a ride with for-profit detention centers.  Over the years, 5000 cases had to be turned over to judicial review and verdicts overturned.  Some good, some bad got hauled away to detention leaving both parents and offender scarred for life and in some cases death.

Ciavarella was convicted in federal court and faces 12 to 15 years, but somehow the in the trial not one parent was heard not one juvenile offender.  Their voice was silent.

The blog Pure Bunkum has two excellent posts about the trial and the hurt of a parent here and here. Ciavarella for now is a racketeer, but in a court of law the government could not tie him to "kids for cash."

Money was front and center for the trial.

This past Wednesday, Line Mountain student Britney Tongel took her own live as a result of cyber bullying.  The case touches off the same emotions the led to death of Brandon Bittner from nearby Midd-West in 2010. This writer never knew Britney but she was from Berwick and was a placement in foster care in Trevorton, PA at age 17.

Physical beauty and foster care are an unfortunate mix to put a target on most kids.  Unfortunately, things were so desperate she chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  In reports through the week Line Mountain officials denied they were aware of bullying while other reports conflict with their denial.  In either case Britney is not coming back.

Although some schools are better than others, most are not equipped to hand bullying.  I don't know if that's a fair statement or not, but schools are in the education business first and that is a big plate.  Childrens' family home life and juvenile and social justice often take a very distant back seat.  What is the answer???  Hard to say.  Amend the Child Care Protection Act to include bullying both cyber and physical?  Make it a hate crime?

In this case and the case of the judge people did not step up.  In both cases people knew what was going on but it is hard to join the juveniles or Britney on that lonely island of despair.

If you a teen and need help, try to find that one last friend you have.  Remember suicide is a PERMANENT SOLUTION to a TEMPORARY PROBLEM.  If you are and adult on the case, remember you could be that last lifeline.  Let us all not try to fail again.

I doubt this mother will ever lose her anger.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

War on the Employee

What is beginning to take place national and the state level is war on the worker especially the public sector employee.  What the politicians want to believe is that all the debt is the fault of the worker.  Their attack is not only against the employee but the unions.

Dr. Robert Reich puts things in perspective:

Last year, America’s top thirteen hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion each. One of them took home $5 billion. Much of their income is taxed as capital gains – at 15 percent – due to a tax loophole that Republican members of Congress have steadfastly guarded.

If the earnings of those thirteen hedge-fund managers were taxed as ordinary income, the revenues generated would pay the salaries and benefits of over 5 million teachers. Who is more valuable to our society – thirteen hedge-fund managers or 5 million teachers? Let’s make the question even simpler. Who is more valuable: One hedge fund manager or one teacher?
Who is screwing who?  Who got the bail out?


Benefit for Ashley

Ashley Frederick is trying to enjoy her senior year at North Schuylkill High School.  However, this future nursing student suffers from a severe stomach disease making inbound school almost impossible. A benefit will be held this Saturday at the Ryan Township Fire Company in Barnesville. 

Read Ashley's story here.

For more information on the fundraiser for Ashley Frederick, call (570) 645-3930 or (570) 645-7462.

Saturday, February 19 · 11:00am - 10:00pm
Ryan Township Fire Co. - Rt. 54, Barnesvillle
More Info

Sponsored by the Gutsy Gang
Doors open 11 am - $5 cover charge (Includes beverages and DJ)
CORN HOLE TOURNAMENT beginning at 1 pm
- $10 entrance fee for tournament (Random teams will be picked)
BASKET AUCTION begins at 4 pm
MUSIC by STEVE NEY THE DJ GUY starting after auction
FOOD and BAKED GOODS for sale

Phillips Back in the Game????

At the end of his term last year, 108th State Rep Merle Phillips decided to step down and retire from Harrisburg.  Before the ink was signed on his retirement papers, he was appointed Commissioner of Northumberland County to fill the unexpired term of Kurt Masser who won election in the 107th.

He may be back in the game.

At the time of appointment, Phillips was chosen by the judges over 25 candidates due to the fact he would be a citizen legislator.

Sacavage said he's choosing to vote for a candidate who won't seek election to the four-year seat in November 2011 because he doesn't want the appointment to give a "leg up" to a single candidate and require the interim commissioner to campaign soon after beginning their new duties.

That lasted long.

Of late, at this stage of his politcal career, Phillips seems no different to what is wrong with the system.  Back in December, Phillips was questioned about his pension

Phillips was asked Wednesday about his pension.

“I’m not getting into that,” he said.

He said he doesn’t know what his pension amount will be.

With a final salary of  $89,300 his pension started at $120, 621.

Any public employee weather an elected official or not KNOWS what his or her retirement will be.  In the end an official only has their word and record.  Why now start to tarnish a positive career?  If Phillips decides to seek election to the Northumberland County Board, the electorate will make the ultimate decision.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lance Armstrong Cycles into the Sunset

It was announced today by Armstrong's Foundation Livestrong that Lance Armstrong will retire from competitive cycling and focus on raising his five children and devoting his time to the foundation.

From the press release:

"Today, I am announcing my retirement from professional cycling in order to devote myself full-time to my family, to the fight against cancer and to leading the foundation I established before I won my first Tour de France. "
Back in 2005, I raised money for the fight against cancer being a colon cancer survivor.  Everything went great until that October weekend when it rained 6 inches and the bike ride was cancelled.  Click here to look at the 2005 Tour of Hope.

My hope was to meet George Hincapie that day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Federal Budget and the "New" PA Legislature

With over a month into the new regimes in Washington and Harrisburg, there has been much talk centered around cutting spending.  However, there seems to be a word missing from both the state and federal vocabulary and we will get back to that later.

This week President Obama published his 3.7 trillion spending plan.

You can see from the video not much is taken from the Big Two: Entitlements and Defense.  Think of the over 2 billion a month that has been spent in Iraq since 2003.  Think of the money in Afghanistan since 2001.  Most of it was borrowed and not on budget.  Egypt's government fell in 18 days with Facebook.

The GOP who promised 100 billion in cuts.  So far great promise has come up with 61 billion.

As long as both sides don't address these two issues, the banter is simply bullshit.

If your poor, this budget isn't for you.  If you think your middle class, hang on for dear life.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a different type of problem.  A 4 billion dollar budget hole exists and of course no clear plan has been presented.   Once again the PLCB has a for sale sign on it.  If you look at legislation introduced in the first month there are 3 Senate Bills that are scary.

With everything going on in the Commonwealth, Senate Bill 1 has to do with school vouchers.  The idea has had merit for years, but doesn't attack the real problem, poverty.

PA Senate Bills 305 and 447 brick-by-brick try to take down our environmental laws in order to give the gas drillers a free pass.

SB305 - Feel free to pollute unless you plan to pollute.

SB447 - GOP Rape of PA.

Check out this little ditty buried in 447:

§ 3492. Trade secrets.

(a) Right to privacy. Confidential proprietary information or trade secrets submitted by parties during proceedings under this chapter may not be disclosed by the commission or any other parties privy to such information or secrets. The information may be submitted under seal for review by the administrative law judge only and shall be exempt from the act of February 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the Right-to-Know Law.
Why do we need to know what's going on?

We are glad Newt Gingrich is coming to the rescue to abolish the EPA. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati had a little explaining to do. Although perfectly legal to do in Pennsylvania, but not anywhere else in the country,  Mr. Scarnati had his Super Bowl trip paid for by Consol Energy Inc.

Thank goodness for Mr. Scarnati, Tom Corbett is not the AG.  Oh wait, it's perfectly legal anyway.

After all the BS you have heard from both side of the aisle, the missing word of the month is JOBS. Again, let's spell it out loud, J-O-B-S.  Are you not surprised the last two letters are "B" and "S".

Sunday, February 13, 2011

18 Days in Egypt

It is amazing!!! No battle, no war, but new regime on the horizon.  Power vacuums can be dangerous.  The military is in charge and their past president was a military man.  It will be interesting how the US plays a role in this change.  We haven't had a very good record in this department over the past four decades.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Sunday and the Winner Is..................?

I don't like diving into professional football too much to off a winner, but for the last time in what looks to be a long time, here it goes.  With an extension of the last collective bargaining agreement, Super Bowls have turned out to be great games and not super bores.

I am not looking at any kind of great stat or match up.  For some reason, I like the Green Bay Packers today.  Here is the main reason why.  The Packers had to go on the road and beat the best the NFC had to offer.  The only team they didn't face was the Saints who were up and down most of the season.  The Pack made it look easy dominating Philadelphia until Michael Vick nearly pulled the game out of the fire, beating up on Atlanta, and easily handling Chicago.  Chicago is dreaded Baltimore game for those of you from Steeler Nation.  Have you noticed the Pack running the wishbone down opposing teams throats?

As far as point spreads, there have been two double-digit underdogs in the last 10 years.  The Patriots and Giants both won outright.

The Steeler fans do celebrate their six Lombardi Trophy's.  For crying out loud, the last two were against Seattle and Arizona.  Both make it into the top 10 as worst Super Bowl teams of all time.

I am on record in today's Daily-Item print edition.  As of this writing it did not make the online edition yet.  My pick is the Pack winning 23-17.

After today, who know when the next Super Bowl will be played.  The owners will be trying to slash 18% from players payroll....good luck.  For all you Cowgirl fans out there, thank Jerry Jones.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Terry Pegula Buys Buffalo Sabres

Terry Who????  If you remember last year, Terry Pegula donated 88 million to Penn State to fund a men's and women's Division I hockey programs.  Also included in the donation is a plan to build a brand new arena for hockey in State College.

Pegula has reached an agreement to buy the Buffalo Sabres for 190 million according to the New York Times. 

Pegula sold his natural gas drilling company East Resources to Royal Dutch Shell for 4.7 billion in 2010.  The move gave RDS a footing in the Marcellus Shale Formation.

According to the Susquehanna River Sentinel, good ole PSU is becoming "shill university" for the gas industry.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Susquehanna River Sentinel: The Republican Rape of PA Begins

Susquehanna River Sentinel: The Republican Rape of PA Begins: " PA Senate Bill 305...sponsored by none other than PA's own environmental Antichrist, Senator Mary Jo White (R), along with d..."