Thursday, January 31, 2008

Baby girl could have Giant impact on Super Bowl Sunday

Tara, my oldest stepdaughter, is pregnant and the baby apparently is in no hurry to come out. In fact, depending on which of her due dates you go by, she is either 6 days late or 3 days late.

We thought for sure Tara would deliver by now. But as the days tick by, it's possible Arianna could just be making a statement as to when she comes into the world.

You see, Tara's boyfriend and his family are HUGE New York Giants' fans. They have had season tickets for years.

It would have been funny had Arianna decided to make her grand entrance during the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 20. That was a possibility, since my wife expected Tara to deliver early. Tara joked that she was so excited at the end of the Giants' win over Dallas a week earlier that she expected to go into labor then.

But now, as the Giants prepare for Sunday's Super Bowl against New England, it's possible that is when Tara could give birth. Arianna may just use that day to make her appearance and show her parents just what kind of Giant impact she will make on their lives.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It took a coroner to rule on this?

In case you missed it, several trash bags of dismembered human remains -- including a severed head -- were found along interstates 80 and 380 in the Pocono Mountains on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the results of the autopsy were released and -- SURPRISE -- the death was ruled a homicide, according to state police.

Autopsy results show that the victim, whose identity has not been determined, suffered "multiple violent injuries, any of which caused her death," state police said in a statement.

I'm no forensics expert, but even I'm intelligent enough to realize that if someone's body parts are scattered along an interstate highway, they have probably been killed.

The odds of someone cutting off their own head, putting it in a trash bag and dumping it off on the side of the road are pretty astronomical.

Wrong again, TV news

Memo to Philly TV news stations: There is no such place as Pottsgrove, PA.

On Wednesday morning, a large tree uprooted and toppled onto the windshield of a tanker truck that was headed east on Route 422 near the Stowe exit. The driver of the truck managed to push back the branches and drive the rig to the side of the road before calling police. The incident happened in West Pottsgrove.

As I was looking at the CBS3 Web site later Wednesday afternoon, I saw a story on the incident and this headline stood out at me: Pottsgrove Tree Crashes Onto Tanker Truck.

There is only 1 thing wrong with that headline and the accompanying dateline: Pottsgrove doesn't exist as a place.

Pottsgrove is a school district, not a municipality. The district is made up of West, Lower and Upper Pottsgrove townships.

CBS3 isn't the only culprit of this error. I've seen it several times on the other local stations as well.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Odd news of the day

This guy should just use his lawn mower to cut the grass.

A man in Ardian, Mich., was charged with drunken driving after going through two bottles of wine, cutting through a snowstorm on his lawn mower and riding down the center of the street to reach a liquor store, authorities said.

According to the Associated Press, police found Frank Kozumplik, 49, homeward bound on a John Deere tractor Saturday night, toting four bottles of wine in a paper bag, officials said.

He told officers that his wife had taken their car to work, and that the mower was the only way he could reach the store, two miles from home.

His blood alcohol level was 2 1/2 times Michigan's legal driving limit of 0.08 percent, police told WLEN-FM. They arrested him and confiscated the mower.

Kozumplik declined to comment Monday night.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Go to church, save some money

Forget the attempt by President Bush and Congress to get the economy moving by giving taxpayers a rebate and other workers free money.

One Berks County diner has found another way to stimulate the economy.

An eatery near Wernersville on Sunday was offering a 10% discount to anyone who came to eat -- provided they had their church bulletin.

Imagine if other businesses tried this concept. Not only would people be able to save a few dollars on goods and purchases, but the declining morals of the country might improve, too.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One winner, three losers

I watched portions of the Miss America Pageant Saturday night. Yes, that's quite an exciting life I lead. The fun part was trying to find The Learning Channel, or TLC, on my cable system since it's not a channel I usually watch.
Pageant organizers and the network -- in its first year of broadcasting the pageant -- were trying to make the pageant more interactive this year. They did this by creating a 4-week reality series called "Miss America: Reality Check" as they tried to give the pageant a more modern look.
In fact, the last of the 16 finalists, Miss Utah, was voted in through text messaging by fans who watched the reality show.
I caught a bit of the swimsuit competition, then found better things to do for the next hour until returning to the pageant to see who would be Miss America 2008.
Now the last time I saw the pageant, only the final 5 contestants were on stage at the end. They each were a runner-up and got some scholarship money. This time, 8 young women were on stage in the final moments. I thought this was odd, since only 4 runners-up and Miss America would be chosen.
Much to my surprise, the three young women who weren't picked as runners-up weren't eliminated first. Of the final 4 contestants, shown above in an Associated Press photo by Jae C. Hong, three of them weren't getting anything. No scholarship money. No publicity. No tiara.
So as Miss Michigan, Kirsten Haglund, second from right in the above photo, cried when chosen Miss America, it should have been the other three women -- Miss Wisconsin, Miss California and Miss Texas -- who were shedding the tears. They were left standing on the runway with nothing except fake smiles and expensive gowns.

You never know where you will hear breaking news

I was out for dinner with my wife and daughter at 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon. We were at one of the Reading area's most popular restaurants, so the wait for a table at that time of day was at least 30 minutes.

As we stood in the waiting area, a woman near us was on her cell phone. I'm not one to eavesdrop on conversations, but the woman was only a few feet from us and what she said piqued my interest.

She was telling her friend about the black smoke she saw while driving past Pottstown. Heading north on Route 100, she said she saw several firetrucks from Boyertown heading toward Pottstown. She mentioned the fire started at Levitz furniture -- I knew that couldn't be right -- and the damage was pretty bad.

As soon as we returned home from dinner, we logged onto A video from photographer John Strickler was already uploaded showing the devastation.

So when you are out and about, keep your ears open. You never know what you might find out.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What has happened to my Sicks-ers?

My love for basketball began as a teenager when I would watch the 76ers with Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Doug Collins, Lloyd (not yet known as World B.) Free and Darryl Dawkins. When Bobby Jones and Maurice Cheeks joined the team, they always challenged for the title, eventually winning in 1983 when Moses Malone was added to the core.
But that was a long time ago. Great players like Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson have come and gone, but the team hasn't come close to matching the standards of the late 70s and early 80s. And the last few years, they've been among the worst teams in the league.
And guess what? It doesn't bother me if I don't watch them on TV. I have better things to do now.
At least when the Sixers had All-Star players. I'd turn on the TV just to watch them play. But now, it's a bad product and I have no desire to waste my time watching them lose.
Having a starting power forward like Reggie Evans (shown above in an Associated Press photo taken by Eric Gary during a game against San Antonio), whose scoring average is just a few points higher than mine, is part of the problem. And having 5 or 6 guys who play the same position is another factor.
Firing Billy King as president and general manager in December was a move in the right direction, though it came at least a year or two too late. He made bad trades, gave out bad contracts and made bad draft picks -- a trifecta no GM should be proud of.
Of course, my dislike for King goes back nearly 20 years, when he and his Duke Blue Devils shut down Mark Macon and my Temple Owls in the NCAA East Regional final and prevented the Owls from going to the Final Four. I just can't seem to let that go.
I hope new GM Ed Stefanski, who grew up in the Philly area and played college ball at Penn and came over from the New Jersey Nets, can turn things around. When the Sixers are lousy, it makes for a long winter.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I never knew dogs were so jealous

It's only natural for humans to be jealous -- of others' jobs, wealth, success and relationships.

But dogs?

I know dogs are loyal. My two -- Disney, a black labrador, and Tinkerbell, a yellow lab -- follow me everywhere. But I've found out they are also the jealous type.

My wife and I can't sit on the couch to watch television without our labradors getting offended. Disney, who will be 7 years old in June, will just look at us until we slide closer to make room for her on the couch. Tinkerbell, a 2-year-old puppy, takes the less subtle approach: she'll just climb on us and lay her 70-pound body on our laps.

And the dogs are just like kids: you can't treat one any different than the other. If one gets a belly rubbed, they both do.

This morning I had to take Tinkerbell to the veteranarian to get treated for an ear infection and I knew this would make Disney .. well, jealous. So before I left, I tried to distract Disney by giving her some food. I thought that if she was eating, she wouldn't notice that Tink and I were heading out the door.

I should have known better. As soon as I put the leash on Tinkerbell, Disney pulled her body away from the bowl and looked at me as if to say, "Why aren't you taking me along, daddy?"

Disney loves car rides, and several times she's run out of the house to the car when we're walking out the door to go away. She had that same look in her eye when Tink and I were ready to leave today, so I quickly opened the front door, left little space for Disney to race out, and closed the door behind me.

I expected to hear a bark or two in protest as I walked to the car, but Disney must have just gone back to eating. She needn't worry, though. The next time she has to go to the vet, Tinkerbell will be the one being jealous at home.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The perils of parenting a new driver

In October, my 17-year-old stepdaughter got her first car: a 1992 Geo Prism. It's not a great car, but it's better than having my wife and I drive her to work, school, boyfriend's house, etc.

But Kelly didn't get her driver's license until May, so as winter approached, my wife and I got nervous about her driving in the snow and the ability of her car to handle it. The car is light and has no front-wheel drive. So each time a wintry mix was forecast, we warned our daughter about the perils of driving in snow and ice, especially with her car. She didn't care much for our advice and told us not to worry about it. And sure enough, the forecasted precipitation never came.

Until last week, when a few inches of snow fell while Kelly was at work. When a normal 20-minute drive to the newspaper took me 35 minutes, my wife immediately contacted Kelly and told her how horrible the roads were and to be careful. This time, she heeded our advice and had no problems on the road.

Now, if we can just get her to keep her room clean.

What am I doing in the blogosphere?

In our Web-loving world, it seems as if everyone is sharing their opinions on-line. So why not me? I love to write, but doing a regular column for The Mercury Sunday edition had become very time consuming.

Having my own blog is a great opportunity to keep writing, and to possibly write about subjects I wouldn't tackle in a column. A few paragraphs will do nicely, as opposed to writing enough to fill an 18-inch space in the Sunday Living section.

So welcome to my blog, Open Mike, as I add my name to the growing list of Mercury bloggers: Tony Phyrillas, Nancy March, Diane Hoffman, Don Seeley and Chris March.