A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And so a decade ends

With the end of the year looming large in my sights and on the sites of the interwebs I am going to take the semi-obligatory look back upon the year that that was. Only with a twist. Herewith find the low hanging fruit that I found I couldn’t write about. Oh I could, but I did not. In other words here are some whines of 2009. Hey! It rhymes. These are the big stories that were on everyone’s minds and lips all year long. The ones that could not fail to bring a response from friends you know and anyone you meet. The ones that make me yawn.
The Luzerne County corruption polka. (To the tune of the hokey pokey) “You put your left hand in, you pull the money out, you put your right hand in, you pull more money out. You do the courthouse shakedown, you turn states evidence, that’s what it’s all about.” Honestly what more is to be said about a county so corrupt that even the prison barber was on the take. Hey folks, get over it. Corruption and government have been as close as white on rice since God was a boy. Check please.
It’s the economy, stupid. Yes it’s sucking worse than 10 thousand ORECK vacuum cleaners running all at the same time. Yes it is horrible to not have a job and run out of unemployment. Yes there are PHD’s flipping burgers and writers cleaning toilets. But this too shall pass. Sure the landscape will be littered with some hard cold places turned into smoke and ash, but we will survive.
Obama is a big disappointment. Many people thought “Yes we can” meant “Yes we will.” If will was all it took to fix the fix this country is in, then under every pile of horseshit would be a nest of ponies. Look on the bright side. This country survived Nixon for five years. Two times we elected him before it all came crashing down. We will survive.
Away with the manger or: How I learned to love the Crèche. I’d love to see what the Kings College student who brought the wrath of the ACLU upon the holiday decorations on the courthouse lawn has up in his dorm room. Or see him try to remove the flying Jesus from the Kings College building on River Street. Or didn’t he notice that? Honestly, on both sides of this issue, don’t we all have bigger three eyed fish from the Susquehanna to fry?

And finally…
Newswatch 16 is coming to WNEP 2. Even the News anchors and anchorettes are gritting their teeth when promoting this. Shoot me now!
I could be wrong.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's hard to digest, but true

I wanted to write something heartwarming for Christmas. Instead this is what came out. There is nothing even remotely funny about this. No redeeming characteristics’ that I can discern for the persons that have now been found guilty. This has to be the one of the most disgusting crimes I have ever heard of or even imagined. In fact I can’t for the life of me imagine how you put yourself in a mindset that would allow you do this. What makes this all the worse is that the crime was perpetrated on a person who had faith and trust but not much in the way of recognizing harm done to them. When you feed feces and urine to a care-dependent person you are lower than low. You are lower than the crap and pee you doled out, calling it pudding and lemonade. Two Tunkhannock women did this to a mentally challenged person entrusted to their care. They pleaded guilty to this. They admitted that they gathered shit and put it in a bowl and called it pudding. They pissed in a glass and gave the pale yellow liquid to this poor unfortunate victim. How could you? Why would you? Please consider the fact that these misanthropes walk among us. Share our air. It boggles my mind. For their crimes the two low-life scum are awaiting sentencing. They could get a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Knowing the state of our justice system it won’t surprise me at all if they get a lighter sentence. I have a sentence in mind and I am not trying to make light of the situation but I feel the proper sentence is contained in this little parable: This guy dies and goes to Hell. The Devil meets him at the gates and says "There are 3 rooms here and you can choose which one you want to spend eternity in".
The Devil takes him to the first room where there were people hanging from the walls by their wrists in agony.
The Devil takes him to the second room where the people are being whipped with metal chains.
The Devil then opens the third door, and the man looks inside and sees loads of people sitting around, up to their waists in shit, drinking cups of tea.
The man decides instantly which room he is going to spend the rest of eternity in and chooses the last room. He goes into the third room, picks up his cup of tea and the Devil walks back in saying "Ok, guys, tea break's over, back on your heads.

I hope the tea is warm piss.

Merry Christmas Northeast Pennsylvania.

Sleigh Bells Ring!

The week of the Christmas frenzy. The last minute whirlwind that clogs the roads like Orson Welles arteries and makes every trip outside of the Rising Ranch a slow motion ballet. For most of the year I rarely venture from these four walls after nightfall. There are as many good reasons for this as there are stars in the evening sky. However for reasons we will leave unsaid I was on the roads last Friday. It will put things into crystal clear perspective if you recall that Saturday there was to be a huge snowstorm. As soon as I turned from my driveway I was behind a huge yellow highway department truck. It was traveling along at a sedate 25 miles per hour, spraying anti-skid on the road surface. It preceded me at this turtle pace until it turned off, five minutes from my destination. At least the roads would be safe on the chance that it actually snowed. Now at the store I was faced with the prospect of finding an item in this retail behemoth the size of the town I grew up in. Three different answers from three different harassed store employees led me on a merry chase around the entire establishment. Eventually I stumbled upon the item. The last one in the store, evidently, because after waiting a dogs age to get to the checkout person she looked doubtfully at “it” and used ten minutes of my life to find a price, a process which involved the three previous employees who had put me on my magical mystery tour. At last back in my car, nose pointed home. But it wasn’t in the stars that night. Holiday time brings out people, like me, who rarely drive, let alone travel at night. I got behind one of these road hazards. It was a Pontiac Bonneville from the 1970’s, about the size and shape of a railroad switch engine. I know the make model and year because I was behind it for a human gestation period. For some reason the operator of this monument to automotive excess was stopping dead every other block. In the middle of the road. I had no way to get around as the other lane was filled with jet powered SUV’s with the afterburners on. After five of these mystery stops the traffic behind me was backed up like a constipated boa constrictor that had recently dined on a cow. Then the car behind me began leaning on his horn. And the one behind that. And the one behind that, until an unlovely cacophony ensued. You know the rest. Of course “it”, the purpose of the trip, was wrong. But then again so was I.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I NEVER post this stuff. Never say never.

The Return from Iraq - Return from Iraq

Next it will be the "After" Christmas ones

It’ll stop soon. I know it will. The first wave came in early November. Just a light one at the time. No real problem, we could pretty much just sweep it up. Towards the middle of the month it started to get serious. It seemed that it was steady every day. Then we went away over Thanksgiving and when we got back it was a deluge. Now every visit to the mailbox requires a wheelbarrow and several trips back and forth just to get the plethora of catalogues in the door. Yes it’s the time of the season for companies far and wide to break the mailman’s back and fill my garbage cans with shiny four color expensive profferings for pricey crap I will never buy. And you thought buying gifts was now done mostly on line? It’s to laugh judging by my stack from every vendor from Abercrombe & Fitch to Wine Enthusiast. It’s no secret how they get to me. I made a purchase with a credit card sometime, somewhere. That pretty much sealed my fate. My home address became the happy hunting ground for direct mailers of catalogs and it’s almost impossible to stop. Our address changed from an RR nearly ten years ago but I still get a catalog or two dozen sent to me that way. Let’s look at the Wine Enthusiast Holiday 2009 catalog. 65 pages of stuff. Oh look-something called a EuroCave wine cellar. STARTING at $6995. Just the thing for the cardboard box of wine I buy now and then. Abercrombe & Fitch? The largest size men’s jeans will fit ½ of me. They are “destroyed” and cost just $150. The “undestroyed” are only $90. I don’t get that at all and won’t get either. Here’s one that really threw me. In Bed Bath & Beyond’s offering (Motto: Beyond any store of its kind) they have two pages of kid’s toys. I guess that’s the beyond. One of the toys is a Kid ATM machine. I am not making this up. Features automatic bill feeder and coin counter-keeps a running total of savings and withdrawals and includes ATM Card. Only $19.99. That’s such a colossally stupid idea on so many levels it just blows my main circuit board to think about it. The caption about says it all: “Make your kid feel all grown up and in control of their money.” The slippery road to hell just got another coating of grease, I fear. One good thing about catalog season. Should we run out of oil for our furnace we can always make a bonfire in the yard with them. Kindling? L.L. Bean has a box of “Fatwood.” 10lbs for $39.95.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I have become somewhat germ-phobic. Part of this of course is the relentless media messaging about the swine flu. I am by no means obsessive compulsive about this ( I knew someone who was-his hands were the color of a cooked lobster’s shell and the texture of roofing shingles.) but I have become acutely aware of the dancing microbes among us. Most places I go I don't touch anybody or anything except what I absolutely have to. If I use the men’s room I use a paper towel on everything from the handles on the sink to the doorknob. I will even use my elbows to open doors if I can. This is because of an old joke. Did you hear about the constipated mathematician? He worked it out with a pencil. My version is-did you hear about the constipated finger painter? I need go no further. I don’t partake of buffets because I am not too sure about the personal hygiene of those in close proximity with my chow. But modern science has found a solution-or have they? By now just about everywhere I go there is a squirt bottle of hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizers-how did we ever get along without the ubiquitous little bottles everywhere? A quick pump and a splash in my hand and I am safe, right? But I have a sneaking suspicion that they actually make the spread of infectious disease worse. Let's think about this for a minute. How many others have touched that same little spigot, some with far worse than just DIRTY fingers? And to make things worse research shows that hand sanitizers do not significantly reduce the number of bacteria on the hand and in some cases may potentially increase it. Even the Food and Drug Administration recommends that hand sanitizers not be used in place of good old fashioned soap and water. By the way, the ingredients in hand sanitizer include water, isopropyl alcohol, glycerin, carbomer, fragrance, aminomethyl propinol, propylene glycol, isopropylmyristate, and tocotheryl acetate. Holy smokes! But of course I have a simple, cheap and effective solution. Literally. Hydrogen peroxide. Chemical formula H2O2. Right. One little molecule different than water. Comes in a brown bottle and costs half as much as hand sanitizer. This stuff has been used since the 1800’s for everything from mouthwash to disinfecting cuts and wounds. It can be used to treat acne and bleach hair (peroxide blonde). It’s only ingredients are hydrogen and oxygen. Get a small, cheap spray bottle and fill it up with the stuff and just spritz yourself when you feel less than fresh and it will actually do some good. And it makes a dandy rocket fuel. I could be wrong.

Must be Santa

I am not a particularly religious person. In the last few decades the times I have been in a church have involved either one person lying down or two standing up. Sometimes I not sure which one had the happier ending. I have faith of a sort that there must be a greater power than I, either hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin. But the idea of organized religion and all its attendant quirks and foibles (See: Catholic Priests and child molestation) for me-not so much. So knowing this you may find this little screed somewhat odd-a little out of place. But nonetheless I will let you in on something that I find very distasteful if not downright obscene. And that is the replacement of Christ in Christmas with an “X”. If there is a judgment day, and I do believe there will be, the people who put up signs and place ads in the newspapers eschewing the Christ for the X will be, in my humble opinion, hauled around by the short hairs and end up in the place run by the fellow with horns and a long tail. I can see St. Peter at the Pearly Gates quizzing them.
“You did what?”
“I wrote ad copy.”
“And at Christmas you used an X instead of the Bossman’s name?”
“Well, it took up less space.”
“You go to hell!”
But less space truly can’t be the sole reason why these heretics truncate the Hap Hap Happiest time of the year, can it? Think about it. C H R I S T M A S. Nine letters. T H A N K S G I V I N G. Twelve letters. You don’t see people writing Xgiving. Or Xster for Easter. Or Xanukkah for Hanukkah for that matter even if that wouldn’t exactly save any space. In point of fact the highest arbitrator of written style that I can think of, none other than the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times, is said to forbid the abbreviation. But a WIKI entry (And we can TRUST Wikipedia, right?) states: “Xmas comes to us from the Greek Xristos.-Christ. The X is standard usage in church symbology.” It goes on to state that X as an abbreviation for Christ has been in use since AD 1021. Well shut my mouth and call me Xim I still don’t like it, nor do I see the need. To me even the fact that John and Yoko wrote a song entitled “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” doesn’t give any one permission to be a copy cat. John Winston and Ms. Ono SANG Christmas in its entirety. I suspect the evil record company edited the title. I could be wrong.

Bad Timing

They say “timing is everything” and if they (whoever they are) mean bad timing I go to the head of the class. I have been cursed for my entire life with being just a minute too late, arriving right after the good part or worse yet, being right on time for the bad part. Mostly the latter. Let me give you some examples. I am driving along, making good time, digging on the radio and loving life. I hit a stop light. I am the first person at the light. Now comes the bad timing part. Turning onto the highway in front of me just as the light changes is a WIDE LOAD. It looks like a bulldozer with a gland problem on a flatbed truck the size of the Market Street Bridge. It is moving fast, for a glacier. There is no chance of passing. I am stuck behind this behemoth for the foreseeable future. But wait. It’s turning! It runs a red light but makes a turn off the highway. I am free, free at last. But no. To my richest horror an even larger WIDE LOAD turns onto the highway and I am once more traveling at a snails pace. If I didn’t think I would be found terminally paranoid (you know, you aren’t paranoid if people are REALLY out to get you) I would say that the operators of this heavy equipment slow motion parade are in cahoots with each other. That they communicate with each other to make sure they are in MY way. Nah. Couldn’t be. Right? But back to my bad timing. How about the time I asked for a raise and my boss just looked at me and said, “I’ll have an answer for you tomorrow.” Of course that would be the day I got fired. Or the many times I choose the shortest line at the bank only to have the person in front of me do a transaction that would confuse Einstein. Slowly. Or when I am grocery shopping and the item I want is behind a sumo wrestler sized person who apparently is really into reading labels. Slowly. If there are two waitresses in a crowded restaurant one will be Mother Teresa. I will get the other one. The one who is manic depressive, off her meds and hates men. Fortune cookies? You pick one and I will get the one that says: “You will inherit a large sum of money at the moment of your death” or worse. Late for work? That’s when the battery goes dead. If it wasn’t for bad timing, I wouldn’t have any timing at all. I could be wrong.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Clint Had It Right!

Sometimes I think I am developing “Clint Eastwood” Disease. More on that in a moment. It’s not that I mind kids. In fact I adore my grandchild. But he’s mine and in any case when he gets cranky and needs a retread I hand him to my son. Some kind of poetic justice there. But other peoples kids in public. Now that’s a different kettle of tantrums. Because that’s what they have. These little rug rats are having loud disagreements in grocery stores, parking lots and even restaurants with their keepers. And it’s spilling over onto me. I just want to do my thing and go home to the relative peace and quiet at the Rising ranch (quiet except for the goofy neighbor and his band of idiots but that is for another time) but these little ankle biters will have none of it. They scream they want this, or don’t want to do that. They tumble to the floor and kick and howl like they were being eviscerated, which doesn’t seem like too bad an idea. Now I understand the underlying psychology here. I remember enough of my Sigmund Freud to know that the insufferable brats are merely asserting their independence from their parents. Well here’s a news flash for you. Siggy was on COCAINE when he figured this stuff out. So how much stock can we put in what a 18th century blow snorting, cigar puffing named Schlomo (His middle name. Look it up.) had to say? Was Sigmund ever trying to buy a shirt at K-Mart with a small child screaming at the sound level of an AC/DC concert? I think not. Did Freud have to contend with a three year old throwing food at a restaurant like he was Tug Mcgraw? And where are the parents? They seem blissfully unaware, except that occasionally they will swat little Janey or Johnny and pump up the volume even more. Obviously they are so used to it that they probably don’t even hear it. Or they are just plain dumb. Choose one. “Clint Eastwood” syndrome? No not “Make my day.” I refer to Clint’s excellent flick “Grand Torino” where he tells the world but mostly kids to “GET OFF MY LAWN!” in his trademark menacing growl. I feel the same way about my personal space. As far as I am concerned we all have a bubble area around us that is ours. Don’t come into mine and I won’t get in yours. But these future generational misfits don’t know this and their useless parents don’t seem to be teaching it. What we need is an island for all kids between 2 and, oh I don’t know…22? I could be wrong.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What Happened To Summer?

It was early in the morning one day last week. I fumbled and stumbled from bed, did the bare necessary things to make myself presentable in only the most fundamental sense of that word and headed for the torture chamber some call the gym. As I was on my hind legs and not crawling on all fours as sometimes happens on these early morning outings I stopped to give the long suffering wife a kiss on my way out the door. A brief digression. In these doses of breathless prose and in my book “But Then Again I Could Be Wrong: The Book of Rants” (humorous tales from Scranton Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania writer for The Weekender) available for $9.95 at amazon.com makes a great Christmas gift buy several for friends and family- I refer to her in that fashion. Some reviewers question just what exactly she suffers from. The answer is Me. Anyone who knows Me knows why. End of digression. As I weaved down the path I noticed some spots on the wooden steps. A few more on the stone path. And as I waited for the garage door to creak its way up I saw a few more on the driveway. What the…my finely tuned mind thought. Birds? Fungus? Then it hit me. WHERE DID SUMMER GO? This was the summer that never was. The pool developed a motor problem that prevented its opening till late July. It never did get the cover removed. The window air conditioner never budged from the attic storage space. The little convertible car’s odometer barely turned any digits. The bottles of sunscreen are still tamper proof sealed. The swimsuits never got moist. Hell I never even broke a sweat. In other words the few brief moments that spell s u m m e r in NEPA have gone by the boards and I missed it. Maybe summer happened for you, but from my perspective yesterday was June and now it’s-how could it possibly be-November? The World Series- over? The leaves - down? Thanksgiving? Christmas stuff in stores? Storm windows are up? The furnace is burning dollar bills at a furious rate? Who hit the fast forward button? I don’t even think we had Indian Summer, whatever that is. And as I pondered all this stuff it began to dawn on my semi-conscious brain. The little spots were not bird droppings. The fungus among us that I suspected was no more than the first little hard pellets of the winter to come. Soon enough the shovel and plow. Soon enough the salt and cinders on the road. Soon enough the four wheel adventures on the icy streets. I kicked the first snow and thought dark thoughts.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Babel Fish

A couple weeks ago one of the biggest changes to how the World Wide Web is used was made and not many took notice. The guys who make such lofty decisions, the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” (ICANN) have decided for us that starting this Monday, November 16th, domain names will be available using non Latin characters. In layman’s terms what this means is that the part of an internet address that is after the dot has up until this point been limited to the letters A-Z. Now the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world will be available online for domain names. I don’t know if this is a good idea or not. First of all I don’t know about you but I get more than enough spam that is in characters other than A-Z already. A page full of something in the Cyrillic alphabet does nothing for me. I am fairly certain that I am being informed that I have won the Russian lottery or that I could share in a ten million dollar bank account if I will just provide my bank account number to deposit the loot into. But now, according to Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's President and CEO, this move could bring billions of more people online - people who have never used Roman characters in their daily lives. Great. Billions MORE filling the bandwidth of what I call the “World Wide Wait.” Here is the real issue. Short of buying a Farsi to English dictionary and a keyboard that has Farsi characters ($19.99 at http://ikbs-usa.com) how in the world will I communicate with these billion new users? I can’t even surf their websites because I don’t have the Hindi keyboard. I’ll never know if my Google search returns one of these non Latin sites if it’s germane ( Or even German, heh) to my search. In the bible book of Genesis there is a reference to a city and a tower built to reach heaven. The tower was miles high and was efficiently built because everyone spoke the same language. This evidently pissed off God who “confound (sic) their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.” The construction of the tower which most know as the “Tower of Babel” was halted because the builders were no longer speaking the same language. The parallel to the change just made to the World Wide Web to me is obvious. And the president of ICANN, Rod rhymes with God. I rest my case.

450 words!

Many people ask me how I get the ideas for these alleged columns. The other question I sometimes get is how I manage to write one every week. At the risk of exposing how the sausage is made I will give you a peek into the exciting world of big time tabloid newspaper column writing. This week, like so many weeks, I have no firm idea of what I am going to do until I sit down at the computer. I will bang out a few sentences to get warmed up. Then I will check the most important device in column writing. The word count. One hundred and five. Goal is four hundred and fifty. Hmmm…what now? Beverage break. Now with a cup steaming beside me ideas will surely come, right? Nope. I know. I’ll surf the internet for inspiration. Why do we call it surfing, anyway? I’ll google that. Back in a minute. Well the short answer seems to be that someone called changing the TV channels with a remote “Channel Surfing” and the term was sort of borrowed for the internet. I found ten people who take credit for this. One hundred ninety five words in case you are wondering. This week is the one where we set the clocks back an hour. I could write something about that. Nah. Been there done that. Bitch about having to rake my leaves? Well, truth be told I haven’t raked them this year. The excuse being that I am waiting for all of them to leave the tree. Waiting for the leaves to leave. Get it? Heh. I love the English language. I mean how you can use a word to mean different things. I am not a mean man but the end justifies the means. And the mean count is three hundred and four. Home stretch. Speaking of home stretch I could write about the World Series. I suggested as much to the long suffering wife. “Shouldn’t you wait until it’s over next week?” she asked. But I could write it like I did for the election, where I was so vague that either side could have been the winner. I got the patent pending “look.” No sale. Sometimes I just sit and think. Other times I just sit. Sometimes the columns just write themselves. Then there are times like this where they have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of wherever they come from. Four hundred and thirty nine. If I was a horse I could smell the barn. Sprint for the finish line. Last lap. Checkered flag. Victory lane. Four hundred and thirty eight. Close enough for government work. But then again… I could be wrong.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Frack You!

What I know about geology and mining could be carved on the head of a pin with a dull butter knife. I am pretty sure that I was probably taught something about it in school. If I was it didn’t stick. I do however know when I am being fracked. And I think I am. Well not me personally. But I think our area is being bent over. Whether you spell it with an “a’ or a “u” I think the end result is the same. Something is inserted, fluid is deposited and then a withdrawal is made. The mess is left for the penetrated to clean up. In case you have no idea what the frack I am talking about, here is my limited understanding. Very similar to the discovery that you could burn coal and that there was a lot of it in the ground of NEPA the folks that know about such things have discovered another rock in our dirt here that they think can make them money.
Marcellus Shale. Trapped inside these rocks is more natural gas than you would encounter at the Plymouth Kielbasa festival. Obviously the big natural gas guys want it.
What is being done is directional drilling underground to reach the rocks and then water is pumped into the rock under high pressure in a process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking to release the gas. It’s sort of a one cheek sneak done to Mother Nature. More than a few things bother me about this. First-this area was without a doubt screwed by the extraction of coal from the ground. Ugly piles of culm, pollution and a generation of men with Black Lung are the results I see. Would you not be a little suspicious of strangers from out of town who want to do basically the same thing? Secondly-they are offering to make people, landowners, rich. All you have to do is let them drill and pump and everything will be fine. Strangers who want to make me rich make me go hmmmm. And thirdly-I don’t think that it’s an accident that the process involved is one or so letters away from words I can’t use in this column. I have seen lots of press about this. Little of it is positive. Already there was a spill of fracking fluid. Fish died. A creek was polluted. The Frackers said “ooops.” And yet landowners are signing up and big trucks with lots of pipes are barreling down our highways. The gas guys say “Trust us.” I dunno about you but when someone says “trust me” I tend to hear we will “Frack you.” Or words to that effect. I could be wrong. Hope so.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It was Macy's

I’ve always disliked it. I can understand why they do it but nonetheless it makes me uneasy to think that the work of genius can be reduced to a technique to shill a product. In general anytime art meets advertising I think it’s a bad idea but especially when its music. Lucky for Picasso and Monet or god forbid Dali their work doesn’t readily lend itself to selling deodorant or feminine hygiene products. The works of the immortal Bard and even Edgar Allen Poe have upon occasion been used to make products more attractive. But music and Madison Avenue have always seemed to go hand in hand. Up until now I have just sort of gritted my teeth and put up with it. Even the Beatles songs haven’t been spared from this aural assault. As long ago as 1985 the first Beatles song was used in a commercial, "Help" (sung by the Beatles themselves) was used in a commercial for Ford. But last night hearing John’s “Come together” as the background music for a department store featuring ninnies cavorting around like they were inflicted by St. Vitus dance syndrome was just too much for me. Now I am sure this is a fine department store. The models dancing looked very stylish. But they should all rot in hell for taking money for prostitution of a song. Is that a law? Could it be? It should be. I know, Beatles songs have been used to pitch everything from diapers to sneakers. But it still bothers me. It bothered the Beatles too.” If it's allowed to happen, every Beatles song ever recorded is going to be advertising women's underwear and sausages. We've got to put a stop to it in order to set a precedent. Otherwise it's going to be a free-for-all. It's one thing when you're dead, but we're still around! They don't have any respect for the fact that we wrote and recorded those songs, and it was our lives." -George Harrison November 1987. Other than decomposing George must be spinning in his grave like a lathe. I am sure there are moments when Paul McCartney must wonder what circle of hell he stumbled into that let Michael Jackson control his songs. I’ve always admired what Jim Morrison did when the Doors were asked to lend “Light My Fire” to a car commercial. Buick proffered $75,000 to hawk a car. As the story goes the other band members agreed while Jim was out of town. He came back and went nuts. He called up Buick and said that if they aired the ad, he'd smash a Buick on television with a sledgehammer. I would have paid to see that. Or then again…

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Casino Blues

“Well, I've never been to England
But I kind of like the Beatles
So I headed for Las Vegas
Only made it out to Lido's” - Hoyt Axton-“I’ve Never been to Spain”

Myself, I’ve never been to England, Las Vegas or Lido’s which I think is in San Jose California. I have been in Plains Township, Luzerne County. In fact I have passed through the home of about 10,000 NEPA souls quite a few times on my way to work. I have even been in the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino. Twice. As I write this it seems a safe bet (Heh, pun intended) that table games of chance will be approved and up in running in the Mohegan Sun casino soon. Cool. Plains Township will now be just like Las Vegas, right? Well, maybe so, maybe not. Let’s make some quick comparisons. The weather. In January the average day time high in NEPA? Colder than a witches brassiere made of brass. Vegas? 57 Degrees, No snow. Score Vegas. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? I guess so, I don’t know what happens there but I have heard rumors. What happens in Luzerne County stays in Luzerne County? Well, Hugo Selinkski’s daring bed sheet escape from prison and our proud tradition of corruption in government have garnered us national if not worldwide attention. Score Vegas. Vegas has Barry Manilow, Bette Midler and Wayne Newton. This month at the Breakers lounge at Mohegan Sun they have “Peat Moss and the Fertilizers.” I kid you not. Score Vegas. In Vegas each casino is next to another that is bigger, better, gaudier and flashier. In Plains Township there is a heavy equipment dealer near to Mohegan Sun. A hot dog stand. And the ASPCA. Score Vegas. Wait a minute here. There must be something Plains Township has that Vegas doesn’t. I mean something positive. Wait, I know. I bet you can’t get a decent peirogi, bowl of haluski or a hunk of kielbasa anywhere in Vegas. I know they have all sorts of famous Chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck but they can’t hold a spoon of horse radish to our homegrown ethnic traditions. Why I bet they don’t even have Stegmaier or Yuengling on tap in their fancy casinos. Score Plains. And we have the Susquehanna. No smelly river in Vegas. Score Plains Township . And here is the best part of Luzerne County vs Las Veags. Comedy teams. In Sin City you have the Smothers Brothers and Penn and Teller. Martin and Lewis were a big favorite there. Here we have Ciavarella and Conahan. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Eat your heart out Vegas.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


They are pretty scary looking. Sort of a cross between a spider and a cockroach. Way too many legs for me and the little bastards can even fly. Plus they have a self defense mechanism that gives them their name. I refer of course to the Halyomorpha halys better known to you and me as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Now we here at the Rising Ranch have had a few of these obnoxious critters over the years. The rule seems to be you see one, you see another, they travel in pairs. Not this year. We are infested with the bugs that stink. If you have never run into one of these useless insects that you cannot imagine the smell they give off when you bother them. It’s enough to gag a maggot. And it’s the kind of smell that, like a dead deer in the hot summer sun, just lingers in the back of your throat. I did a little googling on the nuisances. First of all homeland security must have been asleep the day they arrived from China, Japan, Korea or Taiwan we aren’t sure. They are not natives and are most certainly terrorists. They eat and spoil fruit crops. They also munch on flowers. They love to hang around houses because they seek shelter and warmth and will set up camp inside for the winter. For reasons unknown to entomologists they are increasing in numbers especially here in NEPA. Even though they are scary looking they are pretty stupid and it’s not a hard task to catch them in a tissue. If you are gentle they don’t release the stink and can be sent to oblivion via the commode. But if you aren’t careful they will gas you and you will wish you were never born. Speaking of gas there is very little in the way of pesticides that discourage these menacing little bugs. It seems all you can do is try to prevent them from entering your house. As I sit here I count four on my window screen. They sort of remind me of another pest that has taken up residence and is thriving in NEPA. These other bugs are different in that when you squeeze them they don’t stink. They squeal and cash drops out of them. I refer of course to the Luzerne County Judgeus Corruptus and their close relative the County Employeeus Theifter. Known also as the Handsinthetillus. From what I see in the news these also seem to be increasing in numbers. I wish we could flush them down the toilet, but they would probably thrive in cesspools. Not so different then what they are used to, if you ask me.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not fair at all

It looked like we would miss the Bloomsburg Fair for the first time in several dog ages. It’s a bookend of the year for us and I was kind of bummed out by the prospect of not eating my way into oblivion around the 234 acres and 20 buildings. But then a narrow window opened up in my schedule. Sunday morning I could spare a few hours if we arrived at gates open time, which we were sure was seven AM.
The long suffering wife had childhood memories of arriving that early and being greeted by a bustling, busy and more importantly, cooking fair. So we skipped breakfast and made tracks west.
We arrived just before 7am. Bonus number one for early birds – Free Parking. We headed for the ticket booth and got bonus number two – free admission before 7am! This is something I am sure the fair would rather not advertise but there you go. It seemed too good to be true. And like most things in life that seem that way, there was a catch. The Bloomsburg Fair at 7am on Sunday resembles nothing so much as a refugee camp. Lots of tents, many booths shuttered with colorful canvas and no signs of life. We walked all of the 234 acres and only found a handful of food vendors open. None of them the horrible for you greasy cholesterol infused ones I wanted. Wait what’s this? A stand opens and advertises Jambalaya, my idea of fair food. The lady behind the counter just looked at me and said “Try back at eleven.” We heard that a lot. After an hour of this it began to rain. Not hard rain, just the kind that makes you miserable walking around 234 acres. Walking around hungry. Did I mention we had no breakfast? We ended up eating bean soup at a sit down joint. Bean soup? It was good but it wasn’t greasy in the least. Finally around nine the place began to act like it was open. The buildings with the thousand pound squashes and guys selling wonder mops gave us brief but welcome shelter. A few food vendors that had actual unhealthy junk got our business. But too soon it was time to go. The list of things we didn’t get to force down our throats includes too many items to mention here. I never got my jambalaya, not to mention we had to rush through the agricultural exhibits so fast that I didn’t get to truly appreciate the rows of jewel-like glass jars with preserved everything in them. I love the Bloomsburg Fair, but like fine greasy wine, it takes time to savor it. Or then again…

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thank you Aldous Huxley

It’s a brave new world, folks. Every day we are breaking new ground, discovering new things, learning more about the universe and in general improving the human condition. I am told that soon we will have the internet wired directly to our toenails. Yeah, it’s grand time to be alive. And it’s especially good to be alive in the good old US of A. This is after all the greatest country in the world. A country so great that you can stand up and call the President a liar, offer to shove a tennis ball down a referee’s throat and interrupt an acceptance speech on national TV to act like a spoiled child that didn’t get his way. Whew! And that was just last week. I am of course referring in order to the shout out of “You lie!” to President Obama. by Rep. Joe Wilson R-(SC), the threat by Serena Williams "I'm going to shove this ball down your f------ throat", and the rapper Kanye West storming the stage at the VMA’s grabbing the mic from Taylor Swift and protesting in support of Beyoncé. Rep. Joe Wilson was of course only using our right to freedom of speech, albeit in a somewhat crude fashion. He had every right but he is lucky he lives here in the US. He should think about Muntadhar al-Zaidi’s fate. Muntadhar al-Zaidi is the Iraqi broadcast journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference. Al-Zaidi was sentenced to three years of prison for assaulting a foreign leader. He served nine months and said he was tortured in prison. But of course Joe didn’t throw anything but insults. He was punished by getting a "resolution of disapproval." Oooooh. Slap my wrist. Serena on the other hand had a tennis ball and racquet in her hand. In her possession those are deadly weapons. Serena Williams has been known to hit the ball around 129mph. She probably should have been arrested for a terroristic threat because if you saw her interaction with the referee you could clearly see she had murder on her mind. She got a fine and lost the game. But Kanyne West, after ruining the night of Taylor Swift and generally behaving like he was raised by wolves, Kanye got to go on Jay Leno’s new show. He made a pathetic attempt at an apology and then mumbled something about how he was going to “take some time off and just analyze how I'm going to make it through the rest of this life, how I'm going to improve.” Good idea. Take a long vacation. May I suggest an Iraqi resort? Or then again I could be wrong.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Howard Stern?

The woman probably was just having a senior moment. I have many myself. I walk into a room and for the life of me I can not remember why. Or things that should not go into the refrigerator end up in there. So far not my shoes but occasionally the car keys. But I digress. Also a part of that whole deal, digressing. In any case she looked at my t-shirt and said “Who is that on your shirt?”

I had to think about what I had on. Summer uniform for me is t-shirts and shorts and I have a lot of shirts. I am particularly fond of my Dale Earnhardt shirts, Junior and Senior so I thought maybe she was not a NASCAR fan. But on this day I had another shirt on. While I was looking down to see whose face was on my chest the woman said “I know! It’s Howard Stern. Right?” Um… well no. The lady had confused the famous photo of John Lennon wearing a New York City t-shirt for “How Weird.” Now I have nothing against Howard Stern. I would certainly enjoy sharing the numbers on his paycheck. But mistaking John Lennon for him? Just not right. The Beatles have been around since 1963. That’s 46 years if my weak math skills don’t fail me. Certainly enough time to know and recognize John Winston on sight. Lately the Beatles have been pushed back up the top of public consciousness. First of all the CD’s that were horribly made 20 years ago have finally been remastered. They sound so good that there is every good chance that the Beatles will top the sales charts again. At Amazon.com during the release day the entire top-10 list of bestselling music was Beatles albums. I think it’s great. I never thought that Beatles ever sounded as good as they did on my record player. Now I know it’s not just nostalgia. The other big Beatle news is that they have now released the Fab Four as a Rock Band title. I don’t know how to feel about that. I have never played Rock Band. I am not sure that if I ever do the first thing I would choose to fumble around with would be one of their songs. I still don’t particularly like it when someone covers a Beatles tune. Seeing a ten year old take on “I am the Walrus” just seems inappropriate. Goo goo gajoob ga goo goo ga joob indeed. But I guess if it turns another generation on to the magical mystery tour that is the Beatles collected work, then maybe it’s alright after all. Am I wrong?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tears of rage

It will be eight years this Friday. Eight years since the thousands perished, some in an instant, some that lived to die in unspeakable agony. Two thousand nine hundred and twenty two days if you want to count it, and that includes a couple of leap years that have passed. Almost a day for each life lost.
Remember what that day felt like? Do you? Do you really? It still brings a lump to my throat when I see a picture of the towers enveloped in smoke. It still pisses me off. I can’t help it. I just get consumed with rage when I think about. So I do what I guess most people do. I don’t think about it much. But this week I have to pick at that scab of a memory for a just a bit. There is a school of thought about the grieving process. Perhaps you have heard of this? Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote about it in a book called On Death and Dying. Without going into great detail it involves five stages: #1. Denial ,# 2. Anger, # 3. Bargaining, #4. Depression and # 5. Acceptance. Some people have said that you don’t go though all the stages. There is also the possibility that you can get stuck in one stage or go back and forth between stages. I’ll tell you this about me. I have gotten past denial. I was deep into that for a while but a visit the New York City and a look at ground zero fixed that up for me. As far as bargaining and acceptance that isn’t in the cards for me. I will never be able to accept what happened that day. NEVER. Now the last two. Depression. Yeah, that’s for sure. I think in some ways the whole country has been depressed since that day. The basic feeling for me is one of shame, helplessness, the sick feeling that we haven’t learned our lesson and that we will never be safe again from madmen with evil intent. And then there is anger. Forgive me if I say that every time I hear Toby Keith sing “Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue (The Angry American)” when he gets to the part that says “we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way” I end up pounding the air with my fist.
Impotent rage.
Another person once told me that time heals all wounds. I guess in a way that is true. I don’t think about September 11th 2001 every day. But I know I will take a few minutes
This Friday at 8:46 to think about it. I can’t help but not.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I have been in a sort of funk lately. It just seems like things are not going so well. Oh not for me personally. Actually things in my life are pretty much ok. Sure I haven’t hit the lottery yet (Lottery: A tax on the stupid) and I still have to work. But without work I wouldn’t know when I was on vacation so it all evens out. Sort of. But what has me worried is that the good old US of A seems to be slipping. At least if you pay any attention to the news. I keep hearing about how we are no longer a world leader. That our health care system is all messed up. That we are so deep in debt as a nation that it will be they year 2525 before we figure out just how much in debt we are. That our bridges and roads are falling apart. That our judges and other leaders are as crooked as…well pretty crooked. That last part seems to be true. But the other day while I was mulling over all this stuff I was on a tour of local drug stores. The long suffering wife was on some sort of a scavenger hunt. I was bored. So I looked around. I guess they aren’t called drug stores anymore. It’s no wonder. Of the ones we visited less than 20% is devoted to pharmacy. The rest is an almost indescribable collection of everything you can imagine. It’s almost quicker to list what you can’t buy at a drug store these days. Beer, at least in PA. Tires. That’s about it. Forget something at the grocery store? It’s there. Neglect to buy what you needed at Radio Shack? Everything from cell phones to multi USB hubs. Motor oil? Check. Lawn Furniture? In assorted colors. Refrigerator? Well, small ones but still…there they are. Need plastic skulls and foam gravestones for Halloween? Stacks of them. So much back to school stuff that you could equip several schools grades 1-6 with plenty left over for Junior High. Tools? Yup. Reading material? So many different magazines that you furnish every doctors waiting room in NEPA and never duplicate a title. By the way did you know that MAD Magazine is still published? Figures. Now that I can buy it without my parents yelling at me I don’t want to. But my point? In just my little town you can’t throw a rock without breaking a window at one of these mutant department stores with a Pharmacy counter. It just seems to me that a lot has to be going right for us to have such freedom of choice. But then again…

Monday, August 24, 2009


I haven’t been to the Mall at Steamtown in probably ten years. I think I have been in Scranton about twice in that time frame. Make no mistake; I have nothing against the “Electric City.” I worked there for about seven years and it has some great memories for me. It’s just that I have everything I want or need south of the Lackawanna county line. I guess I am becoming like so many in NEPA-never venturing outside of their community.

In any case I worked in Scranton well before the Mall at Steamtown was constructed. I have been watching with interest recent news reports that things are not going so great there. The recent closing of the Ground Round, the low occupancy level and the fact that the food court could be used for cannon practice without any injury all seem to me to be somewhat telling.

Down the street a joint named Molly Ringwalds or Branigans or something like that also closed up. The new mall and all the “urban renewal” associated with it were heralded as a renaissance for downtown Scranton. Looks like it’s not quite worked out that way. Before they imploded the area to make room for the mall there was a bar about where the Ground Round now stands shuttered. I don’t think it had a sign out front. It was known to everyone as “Bordi’s” because the owner was a gentleman named Pete Bordi. Bordi’s was not a fancy place. It did have some things that made it an “experience”, chief among them the restroom which was well…horrifying. But, in spite of the fact that it was a pretty big place (the circular bar could hold 75 seated) it was packed every day and every hour it was open, and it opened at 7am. It was a safe place for two reasons. One because every other bar stool might have an off duty police officer or fireman enjoying a beverage. But the real reason was if you caused any trouble you were banned and for life if you really got out of hand. And that was the worst imaginable fate because at Pete’s the beer was 15 cents a glass. Of course the catch was you had to buy two at a time. The glasses were six ounces so for 12 ounces of golden bubbly refreshment you paid 30 cents. A five dollar bill would leave you in need of a designated driver, Pete Bordi made a nice living, had a nice house and vacationed in Florida. Grown men wept when his doors closed forever. My suspicions are that if Bordi’s was still there, it would still be thriving. But then again…

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bap bap bap bap bap bap bapuh. Beep beep beep beeeeeep

Bap bap bap bap bap bap bapuh. Beep beep beep beeeeeep. For the last two months the reasonably quiet Rising ranch has been a cacophony of construction sounds. Normally it’s pretty quiet here. Oh sure the goof that lives on the hill next to my property runs his chain saw while riding his ATV around with a loud portable radio strapped on his back. All at the same time. But not all the time. And usually not all day long. Its quiet enough on a good day that I can hear the hummingbirds arrive at the feeder, sounding like a very large bumblebee.
But not lately. Bap bap bap bap bap bap bapuh. Beep beep beep beeeeeep. For the last month they have been installing big yellow pipes on the side of the road. Gas will run through them I am told. This process apparently involves a machine that sounds like a jack hammer (Bap bap bap bap bap bap bapuh) and a construction vehicle backing up for hours at a time (Beep beep beep beeeeeep.) It also involves traffic on the roadway to be stopped for long periods of time on the street in front of my house so I get to enjoy the motorists tastes in listening pleasure. I have also noticed a large increase in the quantity and variety of trash being ejected from said vehicles. So it’s all good. Like living in a cement mixer filled with marbles. Very relaxing. Not at all designed to make me crazy as a rat in a coffee can.
Soon they will be directly across from my house. Since I work mostly from home there really is no escape. Bap bap bap bap bap bap bapuh. Beep beep beep beeeeeep. I notice all the construction workers are wearing ear protection. I am not so lucky.
But I said in the first part of this that it’s been going on for two months. But the gas pipeline guys have been at it only a month. So what about the month before? Well the road crew from the township was busy patching the many potholes and fixing up the road. They did a great job too. The pothole right by my driveway that I watched an SUV drive into and I am not sure ever came out is now smooth as a baby’s posterior. They did this all up and down the same road that the gas pipeline guys are now digging up. Somehow, somewhere this makes sense. I am guessing when the gas guys go the pavers will be back. Bap bap bap bap bap bap bapuh. Beep beep beep beeeeeep. Or then again I could be wrong.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


It just seems wrong to me. I know all the environmentalists will probably come after me with a thousand green reasons why I am way off base. I know that economically it probably makes sense. But it doesn’t help me understand. Or like it. There is song by John Hiatt called “Perfectly Good Guitar” which talks about how heartbreaking it is to see rock stars smash their instruments. I feel the same way when I see the destruction of engines in the so called “cash for clunkers’ deal. As a person who has owned some clunkers in my time I can remember vividly what it takes to keep one running and on the road. Blood, sweat and tears along with Valvoline. Sometimes by the case. It seems to me as an American male (hell as an American, let me not be accused of being sexist) that to own and keep running a POS car is a rite of passage. How else do you learn to take care of a good car except by the experience gleaned from breakdowns of your crappy old car at the most inopportune times? I drove an old ex-military jeep while I was in high school. It ran fine, if slow but about every tenth time you tried to start it all you would get was a click. The solution? You had to roll it down hill to jump start it by putting it in gear and letting the clutch out when it was going good. Try that with your Prius! My point is not so much that you could do it, it’s the fact that there was a solution that didn’t involve calling Triple A. Environmentally sound because no gas guzzling tow truck had to be dispatched. Economically sound because I didn’t have to shell bucks out for previously mentioned tow. Personally sound because I was no doubt off-campus and needed to get back pronto! Win, win, win as far as I can see. There were hundreds of lessons taught by owning a clunker, both of a mechanical nature and of the life-lesson variety. Even when gas was far less than a buck a gallon you had to be smart about your travel in a gas guzzling clunker. You learned the value of a buck and how to ask the question “Is this trip necessary?” Now the clunkers that could have been someone’s first car or a car for someone who really couldn’t afford a better one are all destined for the scrap yard. I guess in some universe it makes perfect sense; crush perfectly good drivable cars in order to stimulate the economy to sell new ones. But then again I could be wrong.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Everyone needs to recharge their batteries now and then. Last week was my time. While it may not sound like a vacation to some, the long suffering wife and I journeyed over 1,200 miles in less than a week, mostly poking around the New England states. A few days of it spent visiting family were fun but the real fun was a lack of agenda later on in the week on the seashore. Something there is about being next to a large body of salty water that makes me, anyway, dissolve into relaxation mode better than any other place on earth. It became a routine of eat, drive around, eat, drink, sleep, lather, rinse, repeat. I could get used to it. But you need pain to know pleasure, or so I am told, so we headed back from bliss. You see a lot of drivers in 1,200 miles. Amazingly enough in nearly 1,100 of those miles I didn’t run across any highway rage, stupidity, or just plain rude driving. We drove alongside visitors from up Canada way, eh? Notorious bad drivers, Canadians. The rumor is that in Québec the driver exam consists of learning how to fill out the accident report. But we had no problem. In fact until we re-entered the Commonwealth of PA upon our return our journey on the highways was unremarkable.

But, as soon as we crossed the border…well our first clue should have been the rain. Not just rain. This was like driving through Niagara Falls sideways. It was unrelenting. And no one even slowed down. I was cowering on the extreme right hand side of the road trying not to hydroplane, going well under the speed limit while trucks the size of houses hurtled past me, throwing geysers of water up. Wipers were useless. It was like Stevie Wonder driving Ray Charles. The only time we slowed was for the accident. We knew that’s what it was because there was a man with a large, worn, wooden sign that in hand painted letters said “ACCEDENT” standing by the side of the road. Sure enough a few miles up the road there was an “accedent.” Some poor unfortunate with the right side of their car mangled beyond recognition on the left side of the highway. The final miles were on the Cross Valley Expressway. People take that “expressway” thing serious. Especially the guy who waited until I tried to pass him before he pulled over in my lane with no turn signal. I just about rolled my car over to avoid him and what was his plan? He went almost ½ mile before once more changing lanes without signaling to immediately exit. There is no place like Home!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Farmers Market

The folks at my grocery store gave me a calendar. It says something about food for all seasons and sure enough there are loads of pictures of scrumptious looking foods. Of course I know the real reason for the largesse on the part of my food vendor. The thing is stuffed full of coupons, dated so I have to visit often to take advantage of the big savings. That’s ok. I would have stopped in anyway. But the calendar is really a work of art. The pictures are somewhat coordinated with the seasons. Back in January it was soup being pictured. February it was a big bowl of chili. I must admit I paged ahead to look at the perfect golden brown turkey on the November page. But right now there is fruit being pictured. In June there were plump juicy looking peaches and July features watermelon. Nothing against my local supermarket. They do a great job and now even have beer for sale, if you can stand the price. And the fact that you can only buy 12 cans at a time. But honestly, one of the true joys of living here during our short span of summer (94 days from June 21st to September 22nd if I counted right) is eating stuff that is pulled out of the ground near where I live. Now I don’t care to get into a discussion with anyone from Pittston about tomatoes. I am sure they are great there but I don’t really know. That’s because I go to the farm stands close to my house in Dallas. I also visit the farmers market that appears this time of year in the parking lot of the Back Mt. library. The tomatoes there are just perfect for me. If there is a better meal than homemade bread, salt and a big ripe local tomato I have yet to find it. In the middle of deep and dark December I dream about baby yellow squash, dark sweet cherries and blueberries bursting with juice. And now it’s here, but it’s like the days are in fast forward mode. Blink and no more good stuff from the dirt. Soon enough it’ll be apples and pumpkins and then it’s back to eating tomatoes that taste like the packing material they came in. I think the local stuff costs a little more. I am not too sure because, well I really don’t care. If I pay a little more to keep my supplier

(read: farmer) in business so he can grow vegetables that taste like they should, then I am fine with that. I saw a bumper sticker that said; don’t curse the farmer with your mouth full. Works for me.

Not with a bang but a fizzle

It was sort of almost anti-American. The very thought of it smacks of the days when missiles were pointed at us from just across the ocean in Cuba, when Khrushchev pounded his shoe on the table at the UN and shouted “we will bury you.” When we lived in fear of the big one and were taught to hug our knees under our desks in the event the Russians put the hammer down. Except in this case we have done it to ourselves. Or more importantly we haven’t done it. But let me explain what has me all lathered up this week. Last year at this time on the Fourth of July a good friend took me and the long suffering wife out to PNC field to see the Yankees of local repute play and lose and then the oh and aw of the fireworks show. We had a great time on a perfect warm summer’s night. Entertainment that wasn’t overly stimulating but still pleasant. Food in quantities sufficient to stuff a Palomino. A feeling that we were part of something that was clean and wholesome and fun. As American as apple pie, hot dogs and baseball. We didn’t go this year. And I am pretty sure we would have, if we could. The day was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky on the fourth of July when the corn was as high as an elephant’s eye. But no one two three strikes and you’re out for us at the old ball game. Mighty PNC field had struck out. It seems that when the Yankees came to town they wanted, no demanded, to play America’s pastime on blades of real grass, not some plastic compound cooked up in a scientists laboratory. And sort of like the homeowner who opts for the new roof over the old shingles they got grass, planted, so I understand, on top of the plastic turf. And this year the athletic cup overflowed and turned the outfield into a swamp but with poorer drainage. Waterfront property on the first base line. And so the long string of great Fourth of July celebrations with baseball and fireworks at the once named Lackawanna County Multi-Purpose Stadium came to end, not with a bang or even a fizzle but with dead silence. And I have to wonder if we will ever see one again. For now that all the cracks and leaks and soggy outfields of the 20 year old facility have come to light, it won’t surprise me if the Yanks, yank out like the Phillies fled before them and leave us with a decaying field of dreams. And not much more. But then again, I could be wrong.

Yard Sales Redux

It’s been a while since I have written about flea markets and yard sales. But it isn’t because I haven’t been visiting them. Far from it. The long suffering wife has the plans mapped out for weekend scrums like a field general. And this year I have noticed more than an uptick in other folks trying to do the same thing. Find something that you need and they don’t for less money than you would normally pay for it. Bargaining comes into play on the paying less for it part. I have perfected the art of picking up an item and looking perplexed. This will bring on a price that will cause me to take in a breath like I am suffering a myocardial infarction and I will put the item down like it was burning. I’ll pretend to walk away and then, Columbo style, turn back at the last moment and say those words that every seller hates to hear. “Would you take less for it?” On a good day I can bring in the deal for at least one third off, more often half. And you find an often bewildering array of stuff, much of it in still sealed brand new condition. Piles and piles of stuff. But as a public service to flea market and yard sale operators everywhere I have a list of things that I always see that are never gonna sell. First and foremost 8 track tapes. I don’t care if they are sealed. I don’t care if it’s 10$ for a box of a hundred. You’ll be keeping them. Along that line-Cassette tapes and VHS tapes. Magnetic tape as a storage medium was an iffy proposition when it was new technology. And it was new technology when Bing Crosby was on the charts. About 60 years if you are counting. Tape deteriorates. It stretches and breaks. And cassettes were hissy. Take them to the landfill. And take the cassette machines and old VCR’s with them. It’s buggy whip technology. Because you have a DVD player do you think I want your old VCR? They make fine boat anchors I am told. And last but not least. Readers Digest Condensed Books. If I had a penny for every teetering stack of those badly edited albatrosses of literary shame I have walked by I would not be searching flea markets for bargains. Oh yes, I almost forgot. Encyclopedias. Folks, there is this new thing out called the internet. As Homer Simpson says, they have it on computers now. I looked at an encyclopedia the other day. No matter what I did it wouldn’t boot up and let me search Google. But then again I could be wrong.

"¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!"

I just never took to her. Oh I mean she was cute and all. But as an endorser for something I was supposed to eat, no it didn’t make sense to me. And don’t get me wrong. I love to eat. In particular I love the type of food that the cute little 15 year old was hawking. It’s just that because she could speak the language didn’t mean she was going to convince me to try her brand. There were those who claimed that she was nothing more than a thinly veiled cultural stereotype. They were in my opinion way off base. And she had, as they say in the ad business, legs. She was able to last almost four years in a field where sometimes a job could last a week. Remember Herb? Sales for Burger King didn't just stagnate during the Herb campaign, sales went down. But Gidget, the real name of The Taco Bell Chihuahua, not only had longevity but her ads coined a few catch phrases which outlive her. "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" ("I want Taco Bell!" or "I love Taco Bell!"). "Drop the chalupa!" “Viva Gorditas!," meaning "Long live Gorditas!" and who can forget "Here, lizard lizard lizard...?" Of course the dog was voiced by a voice actor named Carlos Alazraqui who was also Mr. Weed on Family Guy. But as I said before I just have a problem with a dog endorsing something to eat. I have owned a few dogs. Dogs eat, well dog food. They also will eat almost anything. My dog ate, and I am not making this up, a skunk. Dogs also lick themselves in places that just can’t taste good. And they lick other dogs there too after they have a sniff or two. So having a dog suggest what’s for dinner is just not something that I ever bought into. I would even buy into that creepy Burger King guy before letting a dog lead me into a fast food restaurant. Gidget was by all accounts a pretty mellow dog, preferring to sleep. She ended up costing Taco bell 42 million dollars in the end when the fast food purveyor was sued by the alleged originators of the Taco Bell Chihuahua concept and lost. 42 million is a whole lot of burritos, don’t you think? But Gidget lived a long doggy life. 15 years in dog years is 105 human years, right? That’s even older than Manny Gordon, may he rest in piece with his catch phrase intact as well. It’s not a bad legacy to leave I guess. A catch phrase. “Enjoy, enjoy!” "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" And “…but then again I could be wrong.”
Here Lizard, Lizard, Lizard

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I was kind of sad to read the news about the Chrysler bankruptcy. While I never owned a Chrysler branded car per se I have several Plymouths in my past. Remember Plymouth? They went out of business in 2001. Beat the curve so to speak. I have a long history of making poor choices when buying cars. I inherited this tendency to buy P.O.S. cars. When I was a kid my Dad bought a Corvair.

This is how we learn. My first real big boy car when I got out of college was a Plymouth Fury III. It was approximately the size of a railroad switch engine and came with two men to walk in front of you as you traveled with red lights and loud bells to warn people of your arrival. It had the turning radius of an aircraft carrier.

Later on I became the proud owner of Plymouth Volare’ station wagon with real wood grain decals on the side. Very classy.

Still not having learned my lesson I bought a Plymouth Trailduster SUV. It was so big it wouldn’t fit in my garage. I think it got 1 mile per gallon. If you turned on the air conditioner you could watch gas gauge move down.

But my crowning achievement in unwise car purchases was a Plymouth Horizon TC3. I bought it new in 1981. They only made three of these cars and two blew up in the factory before they could ship them. I got the third. Even though it was front wheel drive it was so low to the ground that it would get stuck if the forecast called for snow. It was great on gas because it had a top speed of crawl. With a tailwind. I left it parked in front of my workplace while I was on vacation. With the keys in it. Mercifully an alcoholic co-worker borrowed it and totaled it. He called me to break the news and I am sure he thought I would freak out on him. I couldn’t thank him enough.

But back to Chrysler going wheels up. The funniest thing I read was that President Obama said “Chrysler’s warranties would now be backed by the United States government. If you are considering buying a car, I hope it will be an American car… buy a Chrysler, your warranty will be safe.” The leader of the free world is now a car salesman? The second funniest thing I read is that Chrysler will make what has been characterized as “a lifesaving alliance with the Italian automaker Fiat.” Or maybe that was the funniest. Fiat, in case you don’t know is said to stand for “Fix it again Tony.” Ask any Fiat owner.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Welcome to Warmland

We first met some 30 years ago. I was a youngster just getting my feet wet in my chosen profession. Every morning while I headed into work we would spend the drive together. I learned a lot. The things I was taught just by listening lasted me a lifetime. I was a country boy in the wilds of Vermont. This was a big city powerhouse that just reeked of professionalism. This was my first job right out of college. If I recall correctly I was paid the princely sum of $85 a week. I know that I worked far more than 40 hours back then so my hourly rate was probably well under $2. But my new friend made me sure that better times could be at hand. I thought to myself as I listened and learned that someday, maybe someday I would be good enough to be on the air at WARM.
Because, you see, WARM was legendary in those days. Hundreds of miles and several states away I heard the booming signal of 590 in my crappy car as I headed to my crappy low paying on air gig. I am going to use a radio term. WARM came into Springfield Vermont like a “Local.” It was one of those huge flamethrower radio signals that blanketed the country. For various reasons we will never see it’s like again. But more than just a huge coverage area WARM was, for a radio guy, the ultimate in professionalism. Listening in the small farm community in Vermont I learned what big time slick radio sounded like. It seemed that WARM did everything right. The news was crisp and authoritative. The music was spot on. The disc jockeys sounded, well, they sounded warm. Friendly and funny and like you had a friend in your car. It was something to aspire to.
A few years later I moved to this place. I would like to say it was to work at the legend. Instead it was my mission to put the legend out to pasture. The station I put on the air in 1980 knocked WARM out of first place in very short order but truth be told the wheels had already started to come off. FM was eating AM’s lunch. I was just in the right place at the right time. Not that it wasn’t heady stuff at the time. WARM was on life support by the end of the 80’s and if it was a horse it would have been shot by the new millennium. And now it’s gone. Not worth fixing say the fat cat owners who pulled the plug. Another radio term. WARM is now “dark.” Kind of says it all.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hurry Spring!

There it sits. In a shaded corner of the yard, in a spot where I have to walk by it every time we go out.
It’s a small thing, maybe three feet long and a foot or so wide. And yet it has a power over me that goes way beyond its small stature. I hate looking at it. I want to do it in and yet I am unable to make a move at it. This place that the sun refuses to shine on has the last patch of snow in my yard. It’s decrepit and foul looking snow. A crust of black obscuring the white that once was. It crouches there on the dead grass and mocks me for thinking that winter has finally succumbed to the power of the calendar and we can enjoy the brief season of temperate weather that we get here in NEPA.
I should go out right now and kick it, spread it out so it just melts away like the memories of the long hours on the wrong end of the shovel so recently passed. But I am scared. I fear that if I do it will retaliate with an early spring storm and call its snow buddies back for one more round. It is, after all, just barely April and cruel month that it is here in NEPA it isn’t unknown for us to get clobbered by a huge nor’easter that will eradicate thoughts of crocus and daffodil in a big hurry.. Watching the weather the other day on WNEP-Ch16 I saw that Montage Mountain still has snow on the ski trails. It made me sad. My older brother lives in East Overshoe Vermont. He told me on the phone the other day that close by his house there are still 6 foot snow drifts. And the folks in the Dakotas where it snowed more than half a foot last week can assure the rest of us that while old man winter is bent and bowed he still has his teeth. I am more than ready for April showers that bring the flowers that bloom in May. It’s the season of “taint.” It “taint” winter and yet it ”taint” spring yet either. It’s the limbo of seasons and my little patch of snow just sits there. Biding it’s time. Thinking its snowy thoughts of the glories of storms long ago. The snow shovel is still within easy reach. The storm windows are still down. And I still have that dark feeling that just over the horizon something lurks that will once more call the snow plow to my driveway. And without a doubt I hope I am wrong.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quiet you!

My hearing is not as acute as it once was. I have gone to literally thousands of loud concerts. One time, at a Ted Nugent show somebody threw an M-80 (for those of you who don’t know, an M-80 is a firecracker with the explosive power of a ¼ stick of dynamite) next to me. I felt it but never heard it. While living at home I got tired of my parents yelling at me to turn the GD music down so I bought headphones. Several pairs, because I would melt the elements out of them. But in spite of this aural damage I have done to myself I can still hear pretty well. Hear enough that the amount of sound rudeness I hear everyday gets on my auditory as well as other nerves. First of all, modern cell phones have very sensitive microphones. Why is it then that people in cell phone conversations in public places feel they have to SHOUT? This usually takes place in a crowded restaurant where the noise level already exceeds that of a 747 taking off. Oh and about conversation. Sometimes in grocery stores I learn more than I really care to about the lives of others. Does anybody remember the difference between indoor voices and outdoor voices? But the biggest offenders in the noise sweepstakes are motor vehicles. I live next a road that is busy during the day but less so at night. With the windows open we can hear deer moving in the woods surrounding our home. That is we can when there is not a car going by with the steady LOUD bass thrum from an overly loud stereo. Hey, as I mentioned, I like loud music too, but not at 3am. Oh and then there is the newspaper delivery guys muffler. It wakes me up every morning. For the past five years. Any chance you could visit Midas there, pal? But by far the worst offense to my battered ear drums is when I am walking in a parking lot, minding my own business and someone locks the car. When I’m not expecting it, and I never am, the loud chirps of the alert mechanism or horn can make me jump three feet in the air and drop the groceries. When you lock or unlock the car with the little remote the lights flash, the horn blows and generally everyone in a three block radius knows about it. There is a setting that allows you to silence it. The lights flashing will confirm the action and anyway you can hear the loud click of the locks going down. How about it? I think you can hear what I am saying. Or then again…

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oh Deer!

I guess that I am a country boy at heart. I have always loved being out doors. Given the choice I would probably sleep outside in weather that permits it. Just being out in the wind and hearing the sounds of birds, squirrels and other wild-life would put me to sleep better than any lullaby or a double shot of Old Grand Dad. Of course here in NEPA we have not had that kind of weather in recently, but now as the air gets warmer we can once more journey into Mother Nature. It seems somehow proper and fitting that on the second day of spring I got to enjoy something in the woods that I have never seen before. Just about a mile as the crow flies from the Rising ranch I watched in absolute wonder as a piebald deer materialized before my eyes. And I hadn’t had any Old Grand Dad. Yet. You may never have heard of this type of deer but I am told it’s more common than an albino one or even an all black one. Still they are almost unbelievably rare with this genetic condition typically present in less than one percent of white-tailed deer. At first glance it looked like a dog or a baby cow but it was in the company of several other normally pigmented deer. Its buddies didn’t seem to take notice that something was very different about this deer. Piebald deer are colored white and brown similar to a pinto pony. I have seen a lot of deer in my life. When I was young and even dumber than I am now I used to chase them with a rifle or a bow and arrow in my hands. I bet the deer found this very amusing as I was not much of a threat to them. Of course living here in NEPA you see more deer than you can shake an antler at, usually trying to run into your car. But I have never seen a deer colored like a Holstein cow. As I stood there frantically trying to snap its picture with my crappy camera phone I thought how lucky this particular deer must have been to make it this far in life. It seemed fully grown but how it ever escaped some hunter is a mystery to me. As the other deer blended into the woods this one might as well have been wearing a flashing neon sign saying “Shoot Me! Shoot Me Now!” But there it was and I like to think that in some way it’s a testament of a sort to individuality. But then I thought…deer don’t use mirrors. Or then again I could be wrong.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I just finished a 2000 mile plus road trip. Driving anyplace that long a distance is a trial but the fact that I had to do some of it over the worst roads in civilization made it even more of a trial. I went south and my trip included roads in Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. Those roads in those states were fine. It was the several hundred miles of pot hole filled, litter fouled, almost impassable miserable excuses for roads in Pennsylvania that were tough. I live and therefore mostly drive here in NEPA. Because of this I must have become immune to what passes for infrastructure in the Keystone state. Once I noticed that my car was no longer vibrating like a jackhammer, my teeth were no longer so on edge and I didn’t have to swerve every ten feet to avoid road kill or worse I knew that I was in another state. It was almost eerie to ride along and not see dead things along the side of the road. Mile after mile we logged and no rotting deer with entrails stretched yards on the highway did we see. Nary a skunk to assault our eyes and make us swoon with stink. And clean? You couldn’t find so much as a tissue on the shoulder never mind the discarded piano cases and the like you see around here. And the road surface? Driving while tired and sleepy in NEPA is no problem. You are kept awake by the constant explosions of your tires hitting potholes big enough to house families. And where there are no potholes there are patches for those holes that are so poorly executed that you feel like your car is trying out for Olympic ski jump competitions. Why bother with alignment? Your steering will be out of true before you can say “bent rims.” Many excuses are made why the roads are so bad in Pa. The money is not there to fix them. The amount of truck traffic chews them up. The dog ate our road crews. All I know is that in Tennessee, a state where as near as I could tell there are more cows than teeth, the roads were clean, smooth and a pleasure to drive on. In fact I found the roads in the “Volunteer” state to be the most hazardous on my journey. Why? Because they were so good I had a very hard time staying awake while traversing them. And about that roadside litter. Swarms of men wearing orange vests that stated “Correctional Department” scoured the roadsides . A nice concept. Free labor and a day in the sun for the convicts. But then again I could be wrong.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Written in Murfreesboro Tenn

I am one thousand miles away as the crow flies and a million miles away in my head on a road trip as I write this. I have left the 13 degrees and piles of ice and snow in my driveway in NEPA and headed south for reasons that will be explained towards the end of this. Today it’s 40 degrees warmer where I am. It’s spring here. The grass is green and the flowers are in bloom. The pansies nod their colorful heads in the soft breeze. The silly daffodils bend and bow and brighten up the landscape with their improbable yellow. I write this not to make you jealous for the spring that I am in and you are not. I write to give you hope that soon you too will be walking around again in a t-shirt instead of layers of sweaters and coats. You will be able to grasp objects made of metal out of doors without gloves. Your feet will be in flip flops instead of clod hops. And you can drive with your window down and your elbow out. Heck I even ran the air conditioner for a few minutes just for the feeling of it. It’s nice down here and the only problem is I know that soon enough we will be headed back the land of ice and snow and courthouse woes.
I am near Nashville Tennessee in a town called Murfreesboro. It’s 13 hours by car from my driveway in NEPA and took me two days to get here. It was well worth the trip. Not just for the break in routine that I needed after a long cold hard winter. Not for the fried okra and other southern cooked delicacies that seem as foreign to us as haluskie would to these slow talking southerners. And not just for the rebirth that my soul felt when I stepped out into this sunny southern weather although that surely is one of the trips pleasures. No, I am here for a birth of another sort. Late at night last week or I guess I should say early in the morning my oldest son and his wife brought a new Rising into the world and though some may question if another one was necessary or even wise I myself am over the moon with joy. He is a tiny thing, just under 6 pounds and about 18 inches from toes to dark haired head but so full of life and bringing all around him so much happiness that he might as well be six foot three. So go ahead. Call me Grampa. Haven James Rising and I don’t mind a bit. And keep a shovel warm for me.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More TV Tales

More to the previous post….
The solutions to the problem of the in-laws wanting to see Channel 7 (analog) but using digital converter are:

1. Cable. Father in law (FIL) just says no. Won’t let me pay for it. End of discussion.
2. An “A-B switch to interrupt the antenna feed and bring it to the box or the TV.
3. A Digital box with analog pass thru.
4. A new Digital ready TV. See #1.

Current TV is a 1990’s vintage CONSOLE Zenith.

Here’s what happened.

Revisit the in-laws. I love them but…..two times in one week in the severely overheated house is a bit much. Plus the Father in-law is, well…a little hard to explain the finer points of new technology to. It’s partly a communication problem and partly my lack of patience in testing for understanding. When I used my cell phone there the other day he wanted to know if I could hear his landline. Also what was the range?

The box in question bought with the Government coupon is a Magnavox TB100MW9. It cost, if I remember right, about $10 with the coupon. It works fine but:
The remote control is the biggest POS I have ever seen and I have looked in an open cesspool before. It’s tiny. About the size of a deck of cards. Offers NO universal capabilities. And the most important buttons, THE ONES THAT CHANGE THE CHANNEL are, no exaggeration, not only the SMALLEST buttons on the unit but they are the size of grains of rice.
Come on! Who is the genius that designed that? The market for these converters has to be mainly people who can’t afford or don’t want cable. They probably live rural. They are probably OLD. So why build something they can’t see to operate with and make it tough to use with old arthritic hands. Bastards!

How would I know this when I bought the damn thing? And how did I know there would still be an analog channel that the In-Laws want to see?

I read the manual until it fell apart but I could not find any mention of analog pass through. With unit powered down no joy.
A 1 800 call to tech support got the usual foreign accent.
“Does this unit have an analog pass through?”
“No we are not having analog pass through.”
“Is there a universal remote control available for the unit?”
“No we are not having…”
“Put a supervisor on, please.”
“This is Akmal. How can I be helping you?”
“Akmal, I know this is not your fault but your unit sucks. It’s designed badly, has no analog pass through and is in general a piece of….”
At this point I am getting daggers looked at me from the long suffering wife so I give up and hang up on Akmal.

It should be said here that I have limited amounts of patience when dealing with tech support. I am getting pissed off and my usual method of decompressing is to shout and swear at the top of my lungs. This will NOT go over big in the In-Laws house with the Blessed Virgin Mary statue (near life size) next to the TV. I am a pressure cooker.

First of all I am ENRAGED that our government has made such a mess of this. And I am burning with shame that I can’t make it work for my In-Laws.

I am ready to kill. Plus I am tired and hungry.

So now we go to Radio Shack.

I am angry and beyond rage with this whole situation. My finely tuned brain is seething. I am hungry Did I mention I am on a diet? I can’t for the life of me figure out the signal path standing in the aisle.
The antenna lead must go to the box. And the TV. The box must feed the TV. Ow! Ow! Ow! My head hurts.
I finally decide on a small “A-B” switch. $5.98.
Previously I have found some cables and a splitter at the house.
Just out of curiosity ask the kid behind the counter if they have a box.
Yup they do. An Access HD DTA 1080 U-and it has the words “Analog pass through” in bright red on the side. It’s footprint is one third the size of the POS Magnavox.

It also has a Universal Remote Control. It lists a code number for Zenith.

It costs $69.

We have no coupon.

This really sucks.

Can we return it if it doesn’t work? Yes He guesses so.

We do have a discount coupon for $10.

He can’t figure out to use it. This takes half an hour with phone calls to store manager before we get out.

We are now out $64.80. Plus the ten for the Magnavox box. $74.68 if you are keeping score at home.

I am ravenous now. Did I mention I am on a diet? When am I not? Breakfast was at 5am and was….small. It’s now 1:30pm.

Lunch sucked. We went to this cutesy little place that had vase centerpieces filled with candy hearts. I love soup. The only soup was Clam Chowder. I don’t eat fish. No soup for you! Chicken Caesar, hold the Caesar. Literally one cup of greens, one teaspoon of Asiago cheese and about 2 oz of chicken sliced paper thin. $7.98. I could have had a seven course meal for that price. A foot long hoagie. And a six pack.

I am not in a good mood.

Back to the In-laws. While we were gone FIL had stoked the plutonium reactor in the basement so it was now 100 degrees in the house. It’s cold out so I have a heavy shirt under a sweatshirt. I am sweating as soon as I come in the door.
Good news…FIL is taking a nap. Bad news. I am not.

New box fires up and seeks stations. Five minutes later it has all available. Better picture than POS Magnavox. Plus on channel change it doesn’t have to search each time like POS. Channels come right up.

The remote control programs for the Zenith and works the volume, on off and the function menu flawlessly. The menu is important because FIL wants the brightness turned down when he watches at night. Something about burglars. You can see my problem communicating here? He also loves the color set to green. See?
It does not change TV channel. Only the Box channel no matter what mode you are in. Hmmm.
Shut box off and tune TV to Channel 7. Success.
But you have to tune TV with old remote control. The whole point of Universal remote was to 86 one control.
Work with Mother in law (MIL) to explain new control. You have to switch modes to control the TV or the Box. She can get the TV on and switch to the box mode (labeled STB the RC) but the unit will not power for her. I try and it only powers up every third try and in fact locks up so you have to pull the plug to get it to work again.

I am not having a good day.

The acronym is “Halt”

Hungry, Angry Lonely and Tired.

I am angry, tired and hungry. The only thing I am not is lonely.

This box will not cooperate. It locks up and no matter what I try will not change channels on the TV.

It is no good. I call 1 800 and am told via recording that they don’t work weekends. I have only one option. Cue shark theme from Jaws.”

Back to the POS.

Now I have to figure out how to make the A-B switch work.

After long thought I come up with it.

Here is how you do it. The antenna goes into a splitter. One lead goes to the “A-B” switch. One lead goes to the box. The output of the box goes to the other side of the “A-B” switch then the switch feeds the TV.

My brain is squirming like a toad.

I am short one cable. The Access HD DTA 1080 U has one. I need it. Now I can’t return it.

I make it work. It’s an ugly snarl of cables. The long suffering wife asks “Do you need all those wires?” I don’t know how to answer that.

I write out instructions in large block letters.

The A-B switch I set so to see Channel 7 is “A”. Channel 7 as mentioned below is Catholic TV. I explain that “A” will be for Angels. MIL has trouble with switch. It’s stiff and new and unfamiliar. Eventually she gets it and can navigate the changeover flawlessly.

I decide to tidy up the wires. This is a near fatal mistake.

The cable from the A-B switch to the TV is the shortest one so I replace it with a longer one to get the switch closer to the front of the TV. Then I wrap the cables and secure them with ties to keep down the snarl and avoid the Long Suffering wife’s question about so many cables. In the process the box gets moved around.

I try the deal out one more time before we leave. The box WILL NOT POWER ON. But it was working fine just a minute ago.


I try changing out the power. I try new batteries in the RC.

My blood pressure is now 300 over 300. I am so close to stomping my feet and screaming that I am literally lightheaded. I can contain my anger no longer.

I pick up the POS box to throw it on the floor so I can stomp it to death and notice….there is a rocker switch on the side. Why would they do that? You turn it on with the RC and they go to the added expense of adding a master power switch? Huh? It must have gotten shut off when I was frigging around with the wires.

Breathe. Breathe deep.

It was all working when I left. I went to the website for the Access HD DTA 1080 U and searched to no avail for the answer to the channel changing dilemma. Wrote them an email because I still want to believe it’s a better unit and can do what I want. Plus I so want to take the POS Magnavox and hit it with a hammer until it’s mostly black residue and mail it back to those sons a bitches.

More updates to come, I am sure.