Living Near The Poorest Place in America!

Woe to Reading for being the poorest location the the United States…eh?  Maybe we are only talking about PA, but the dice are loaded folks.

Wait a second!  Reading is nice!  I’m not going to wring my hands over Reading!  Reading has a lot going for it which means I’m going to ignore what people think and I’m going to say out loud and for the record that if I have a choice between going to King of Prussia and Reading?  Well I choose Reading!

I know that there are lots of boarded up businesses.  And I know that there are unkept rowhomes. I know about the homeless types- but I insist from personal experience that you will find those symptoms of strain and decay up and down the East Coast!  Hell, I’ve been in a lot of these places!  And if you compare some of them to Reading?  I’m sorry but Reading wins!

I think Reading’s problem is it’s old.  It has lost manufacturing jobs that supported the residents in the city.  It’s made up of families that are in transition but it has a lot of beauty there.

Does that sound familiar?

This is what I see in Reading- shopping, museums, fine healthcare, a sports stadium, several colleges and universities, an arts community, active churches, beautiful scenic areas, historic residences and small tight communities.

Being the poorest place in America isn’t that bad if you ask me!

Now I know that  there is crime in Reading.  I agree that bad people who aren’t invested in where they live often wind up sharing the same living spaces with decent people who can’t move elsewhere.  THAT SUCKS, but it isn’t a reflection on the good folks who live in Reading and I insist that most of the people you’ll find on the streets in Reading fit into the decent human being category!

It’s ridiculous even talking about people as if they are a certain type of person because they live in a poor dated city.

Now if we talk about people who live in Allentown- well, that is a different story! 🙂

( I’m teasing!  I happen to love Allentown too.)

I guess my gut feeling as to whether  a city is a scary place or not is how much decay do you have to walk through in order to get to a half decent if not very decent area?  It’s sort of a boots on the ground thing.  You can’t drive through or around a place and offer a solid opinion on it!  You have to enter a church!  You have to be walking through the town at night.  You have to suffer a problem and find locals who support you!  You have to visit a local bodega, or a Mom and Pop corner store.  You have to hang out at a park and you have to sit in traffic.  If you see police driving calmly through town,  and you see business people going to and from work, and you see families laughing and playing and you see new construction, and you see folks decorating their homes then it’s a relatively nice place!

On the other hand, if you see row upon row of boarded up homes, and you see police flying through the streets with sirens wailing.  And if you see roads that are torn up and cyclone fencing keeping residents away from decaying buildings, and you see signs on stores that say “only one child allowed in at a time”.  Okay, those are bad places.  Without a strong community there is absolutely no life.

Or if you see block after block of strip malls, and car sales dealerships and you see truck centers and you see highways…and then there is a strip of homes that look like empty shells lit by harsh street lighting- that is a bad place!  Not because the people that live there are necessarily bad but because there isn’t any sense of community there!

Or if you see some broken down one story properties with lean to sheds that are dillapidated and falling down where bikes are strewn in the driveways and old cars sit on deflated tires….Oh wait a minute that is my house!  And I assure you, my house is truly just as the Beatles have sung ” a very, very, very fine house.”

Thanks for listening to my point of  view.  I appreciate it.




Melons Can Kill You!

Sure they can.  Like if you have a large bin of them hanging over your head and somehow they fall?  You are dead…maybe!

And, if you buy melons infected with Listeria…and you eat them and you are over 60, or you are pregnant, or you have a delicate immune system?  You are dead..maybe.

So we have to look out for a bunch of dangerous melons and throw them away and then we’ll all be safe right?

Well, no.

Unfortunately folks are being given the impression that if they toss out the offending Rocky Mountain cantaloupes that they’ll be safe and sound.  The reality is a little messier.  See, melons are good candidates for listeria growth.  Apples  work too but pineapples are lousy at growing listeria.  It has to do with the ph of the fruits.  But listeria is also known to us as one of those nasty gut bacterias.  It grows really well and sadly one strain is a killer! ( L. monocytogenes)  So what I’m trying to say is that we are surrounded by listeria- we just aren’t surrounded by the killing variety.  But those who are working near it are very likely to ingest it themselves thereby making it more prevalent in an environment and quite frankly it’s no one’s fault.  It’s just the behavior of the bacteria.

And L. monocytogenes grows at low temperatures!  That is right, if you stick it into your fridge and it isn’t perfectly chilly then that little bacteria is going to grow.  It grows at high temperatures and low temperatures.  The only bad thing about it growing at high temperatures is it changes it’s nature more at high temps.  At low temperatures the type of bacteria you started with is the bacteria you are ending up with.

So if you put an offending fruit in your fridge and it is a melon which is a great substrate for this bacteria- the bacteria will continue to grow and it’s likely to visit all of it’s neighbors and try to cling and grow there too.  Some foods will have their own protection against it- foods like sauerkraut and pickles, and other foods just won’t have enough food for the bacteria to live on.

Isn’t that neat?

Scientists have found that in fresh water there is something they are calling “bacteriophages”.  They are numerous.  These will eat bacteria.  So when you think you are just washing something off…you are literally blasting it with bacteria eaters.

The study that looked at bacteriophages also looked at glucobacter asaii.  The belief is that this bacteria is the thing that causes browning on apples!  ( And you thought it was just the air hitting the surface of a cut slice.)  Anyhow, mixing this possible browning agent and lots of fresh water and then pouring this stuff on cut melons reduced the listeria on the pieces.

So what is my point?  My point is that if you are elderly or if you have a weakened immune system  or you are pregnant that you may well need to follow the CDC’s instructions if you happen to have picked up some cataloupes from states that sold cantaloupes with L.monocytogenes.

BUT….listeria and perhaps lysteria monocytogenes is surrounding all of us.  It’s in meat products and mayonnaise and smoked fish salads and fruits and veggies and even human waste.  It’s in water and in soil.  But note that I also said bacteriophages are in water!  So that may explain why water with the very dangerous bacteria might be used in growing fruits and veggies!  No one is sampling the fresh water and getting any immediate signs of high bacterial content.  It isn’t till the bacteriophages die off that the Lysteria can grow handily.

I’m bringing this all to you because I think it’s eye opening.  Just because we can’t see bacteria doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  The world isn’t split into safe places with clean areas and unsafe places that harbor germs.  We are completely surrounded by germs!  It’s just that not  all of us are susceptible to the poisonous growth of certain bacteria.

In some people a bout with Lysteria will give them diarrhea, in others the bacteria will grow so fast in their body that it will actually start attacking other organs and their spinal column.    Lysteria can grow in humans for months before the person presents with a serious illness.

Now how do you feel about washing fresh fruit and veggies and washing your hands after touching bacterial laden items?

I have another suggestion although I have to insist that I am not a professional and I am only guessing here- but since melons both honeydew and cantaloupes seem to be excellent breeding grounds for Listeria and since it grows on both the skin and the fruit I am going to be extra careful about picking up the sliced melon packages I see in supermarkets.

My guess is that melons that have been pasteurized and are in salads are relatively safe and melons that are presented in some kind of alcohol are safe but melons in sugar water might be suspect!  Of course this won’t be forever…it will be until the fast growing L monocytogenes dies of natural causes.

Just keep in mind that it will be back!





Maya Rudolph as Shirley Bassey! Only in My Imagination.

If I were a Hollywood story writer I’d create a film about Shirley Bassey and the  star of my flick would be Maya Rudolph.  I’ve heard Maya sing several times and while she may have been playing around she has tremendous range and I think she could handle portraying Miss Bassey.

Shirley who is still living in Monte Carlo has had so many successes musically but I don’t think she’s been acknowledged as a performer in the US.

I wish I was a screenwriter!  Does anyone know anyone who is?







Stupid Paperbacks I’m Willing to Share!

I like reading.  I like reading signs at gas stations.  I like reading bus schedules.  I like reading prescription warnings.  If something has words, be they uplifting, inspiring, meaningful, or boring, tendentious and insipid I’m probably going to read them.

I read library books but I do not allow myself to take library books on vacation or to the pool.  I did that once and it was not a good idea.  Instead I pick up cheap paperbacks and I force myself to read them even though they suck.

This year I’ve got a treasure of books that sucked.  I am offering these slightly beat books to anyone who wants them.  I don’t expect big crowds to take me up on my offer.  But if anyone cares to read some dumb  books then here are some of my  recent selections that you are welcome to-

Elmore Leonard’s  Be Cool

Iris Johansen’s  Fatal Tide

John Saul’s  Midnight Voices

John Saul’s Nathaniel

Angela Thirkell’s Pomfret Towers

Pomfret Towers was actually interesting.  For those of you who enjoyed the Upstairs Downstairs series on PBS this might be right up your alley.

I also read some books by Janet Evanovich but  I’m not offering her books to anyone unless they trade me something worthwhile.  I really like the Stepahanie Plum novels and I’d recommend them to anyone who has spare time.  Naturally you can’t have mine!

I wasn’t overly thrilled with Joseph Finder’s book Vanished but it wasn’t a bad read. I’d give it away for another  decent read.

I loved a book by Maryann McFadden called the Richest Season.  I probably liked it because it’s heroine is a character that I can identify with.  You know, beautiful, sensitive, powerful. Really,  It’s me all over.  Sadly, no one can have that book because they might not agree that the main character is just like me!

I read at least several others but I can’t see them from where I’m typing so you’ll have to wait for my next post on book giveaways.













A BIG Hairy Spider Almost Ate Me!

Okay, that isn’t quite true.  I’ll try to retell this story but with less drama…

OMG it was so big!  It had a head and it was like 2 inches wide and it was fast and I almost died.

Perhaps I should try again…

I was lying in my bed feeling that languid pleasure that comes before sleep when suddenly I felt a slight tickle on my lower thigh.  I was too relaxed to brush it away, it was such a slight sensation it could have been nothing…until I felt it again.  It was then with the speed of lightning I whipped the coverlet off my legs and stared  at my bed’s bright white sheets that were reflecting the moonlight outside.  A small 2 inch  black shape scurried across the mattress towards my pillows.   At that, I bit back a scream and bolted out of bed.   My hand shot towards the bedside table lamp and the room was flooded with a warm yellow light.


My first conscious thought was there aren’t many venomous spiders native to PA.  My second thought was a question..I wondered. why I didn’t  have a spider killing death ray gun when I needed one?!  My third thought was I had to get that spider if I wanted any sleep.  My fourth consecutive thought was I wasn’t touching it!  So I literally ripped my nightgown  over my head in a brash display of machismo.  It  was like I was a bull fighter!  I had my prey in sight and just like a raptor I captured it in the pink froth of a light cotton nighty.

But then I had  problem.  Several actually.  My first problem was I was sans clothes.  My second problem was I was holding a small pink ball of spider!  My third problem was I didn’t want to crush that horrid creature inside my pretty pink shift.

So I gathered all my courage and I allowed myself to stop gripping the pink ball with both hands so that I could open a window and ease up the screen and then I threw the spider out the window still encased in my gown.  Then I tore all the bed linens off my bed and shook them mightily.  And then I remade the bed and looked around the bed on the floor to see if there were any other horrible hairy creatures lying in wait.

There weren’t.

Okay, so why am I telling you about this?  Well,  there are a couple of reasons.  First I want you to know how brave I am.  Second I want to warn others that the spider I came into contact with is a native of Pennsylvania.  I believe that it was a “wolf spider”.  Which is a pretty scary name for a spider isn’t it?

A scary name though isn’t any indication about it’s danger level.  Wolf spiders are pretty lame when they are in competition with humans.  They can bite, but it probably won’t kill you unless for some reason you are allergic to spider bites.

Wolf spiders are hunting spiders.  They don’t make webs and they like hanging out in or near trees.  Pennsylvania has trees.  Wolf spiders like moisture, but unfortunately  they don’t like drowning.   It’s been a little wet around Pennsylvania lately and even though  I wish they’d just accept that it’s their life to live outdoors in the sodden ground, they like the cozy warmth of our homes!  Those hairy ugly beasts!

Entomologists say that spiders are one of man’s best friends.  They are what keeps smaller insects from ruining our crops and our lives.  Still they are too ugly for me to love.  I was therefore looking for ways to kill them when they entered my home.

Turns out that there may be a couple of very simple ways to get them.  The first method involves a glue board.  I don’t know where to get a glue board but I’ll bet ACE has them.  Anyhow, the spider walks across the gluey surface and it gets stuck.  End of menace.

The second option is to lay a line of diatomaceous earth which is the stuff used in pool filters, around your basement windows or around door thresholds.  This is kind of freaky but when the spider walks across the stuff it’s body is sort of torn- and it dies from “bleeding out”.

I’m not thrilled with the idea of seeing weak leaking spiders!  I’m also not thrilled with using chemicals to poison them in the same house my family lives in. But  I’m absolutely freaked out about having them anywhere near me though so I’m thinking I might have to go with the glue boards and Diatomaceous earth.

Aren’t you glad I shared?

Look, it isn’t my fault it’s been rainy lately.  It isn’t my fault big ugly spiders live in PA.    It also isn’t my fault if you feel anxious or itchy when you get into bed tonight!

The good news is once October’s chilly evenings get here we won’t have to worry about them so much.  Most of them will find their own safe harbors outdoors and once they are settled they won’t be swarming our homes.  Also, I won’t be quite so hot then because from now on I’ll be wearing two sets of jammies.  And maybe a wet suit.










I hope my regular readers will understand when I say that I’m incapable of expressing coherent thoughts when my life is out of whack! And lately that is exactly how I’d describe things for me.

I’ve been a less scrupulous about posting regularly and I’ve been spending a lot of time doing all the other things that a busy life entails.  But I’m still here and I know I’m not alone in feeling rushed and pressured at certain times during the year.

For me it’s the back to school time that feels tight, but for you it might be the holidays, or heck, you might feel pressured every single week so I thought maybe I could share some tips I found helpful in combatting unecessary pressures. I  know I’m going to incorporate some into my life.   See if you can use any of them yourself?!

Tip One:  IN/OUT

This tip is for those of you who keep finding yourselves awash in clutter.  Think of your life as a space/time event that you have some control over.  Go on!  Think about it!  There are things you like and there are things you think, and there are activities you must do.  In short, there are things you need to accomplish that make you you.

So what are they?  Who are you?   You see, once you’ve thought about the things that are important to you, then you can begin to decide the value you should place on items in your life.

That would be step one.  It’s pretty simple isn’t it?  And from that first step we can move to step two- and that is a simple rule.  If you bring something into your life, you have to delete something from it.  We only have so much space and time to deal with.  New things excite us, but they also distract us and can cause anxiety because we then have to figure out how they fit into our lives.

Please note that I’m not talking about deleting people, although some of you may have to do that as well, I’m specifically  talking about deleting items.  This simple rule is if we are going to add one thing to our lives then we remove one thing that is unnecessary or unused.  That is it!  You can trim more waste from your life if you remove several things when you bring a new thing into it.  If you choose  to dispose  4 things  each time you bring in 1 new thing then you’ll be cleaning up your life a lot quicker!

Tip Two:  DID ANYONE DIE?  If not, move along!

This tip is for all of you who like me suffer from enormous guilt.  The tip  is pretty cold, but some of us need a bucket of ice water in our faces to get that we can’t control some things.  We have to do the best we can and move along.  Guilt is dreadful and it weighs a body down.  So if you find yourself feeling worried and anxious about things you might not have done quite right, or if you wish you had done something just a little  better then really, you need to wash your brain out!  Let all the nonsense rinse away.

. Let’s keep things simple… If you didn’t kill anyone in doing anything you did then just move along.  WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES….move along.  Life is a process not a product.

Tip Three:   First Breathe

There are all kinds of  breathing exercises that you can find out about here online.  It’s such a natural thing that we probably don’t put any thought into it, but breathing enervates you.  It energizes you.  It inspires you.  So build some breathing time into your life.

Of course you don’t have to schedule it but it might be a good idea to start a habit of thinking about it.  Breathe after getting into the car, or breathe thoughtfully prior to brushing your teeth, or take a few moments for some concentrated inhalations  before you pick up the telephone to make a call out.

Breathe in one nostril and out the other, or breathe with three fast inhalations and follow that with a slow exhalation.  Find what works for you!  Just breathe!

Tip Three: Sketch it

Draw out what you are thinking by sketching it.  No one is expecting a Rembrandt, or a Picasso from you.  You don’t even have to show your work.    It’s just that we tend to use our ” thinking mind”  as opposed to our “sensing mind” but we need both aspects to be alive  in order to  make sense of our surroundings and our place in them…

Try this.  Draw  a small child with oversize shoes and an adult’s hat.  Now give them something you’d like to have played with as a child.   How does that feel?

Or draw a heart and surround it with lace.  How does that sketch make you feel?

Now try to draw a problem and then link it to a possible solution.  Your solution doesn’t have to work in the real world,  your sketch just has to set your brain on a path of problem solving.

Tip  Four:  Time it!

When you listen to experts talk about getting things done you’ll often hear them suggest you break jobs into bite sized pieces.  Well that is sort of tough to do when you don’t know how much of a mouthful you can handle at a time.

So this tip is to use a timer to help.  If there is anything you have in mind that you want to do then choose an amount of time you’d feel comfortable working on it.  Then allow yourself an equal amount of time to clean up, and to put things away, and to see where you are at and what you need to do next.

This also works in the other direction.  For example let’s say you only have so much time…that might  make you put off activities.  But using this half and half tip would allow you to break down your time.  If you only have a half an hour to spare then that is 15 minutes of actual time that you can do something  and that leaves you 15 extra minutes of clean up/ support or follow up planning time for the next opportunity to continue a project or a routine.

Tip Five:  Bottom’s Up

When you are problem solving you are very likely to want to try to do it using a “top down” method.  Unfortunately this method isn’t likely to actually fix much.  You’ll find yourself meandering on nonessentials.  No! When you’ve got a problem you have to go to the source!

But what actually is the source of most of our “problems”?  Well, some as I’ve mentioned before are totally out of our control, but others might fit into the category of “within our control”.  We all know that there are  times that we  actually feel good about solving problems!  The only tough part is knowing which problems are hopeless tasks and which are worthwhile efforts!

The tip here is always start at the bottom!  I know that sounds overwhelming at first.  But if you consistently work from the bottom on upward then your bottom will improve.  You will be solving problems all over the place. And if you take a longer view you’ll see that you’ll be upgrading your problems.  While that may sound like a bad idea it’s actually the only idea that will help you feel more like a fully functioning player in the game of life!

If you’ve got stuff hiding in the recesses of your brain, or in the attics  or basements of your home then you can’t use that space for more useful and pleasing activities.  So  buckle down and start at the bottom in lightening your load.

Tip Six: Be Afraid Then Lick it!

We’re all afraid of things.  We all could create lists of our fears.  Fear is healthy!

Now for the bad news: Fear  has a dark side too.  Fear can be mind numbing.  Fear can drive all significant thought from your brain.  You can be hobbled with fear.

So why am I talking about fears?  Well, I’m afraid my tip here is to face  fears!

NO, we aren’t talking about a fear of heights, or a fear of spiders,you can hang onto them if  you want, instead we are talking about our fear of failure, or our fear of speaking, or our fear of handling something effectively.  If you hide from those sorts of things you are literally crippling yourself.

Hell, I’m afraid all the time…but I’m finding that when I do something I’ve been holding back on out of fear that I have a new thrilling memory that gets burned into my gray matter.  I remember my success with a sense of pride that far outweighs the sense of fear I had been carryiing along with me.

So that’s it!  Stress goes away when you are actively engaged in handling it.  Don’t try hiding- it won’t work.  And please know that I’m working on all of these tips myself!  I’m no sage.  I’m sometimes a total mess!  But like I said life is a process.  I’m here.  I’ve got lots to do!

Okay, to  wrap it all up here are all the tips once again in short form…

If you add something new to your life, you have to take something away!

Keep moving forward unless you’ve killed somebody!

Just breathe!

Sketch it!

Time it!

Bottom’s Up

Be Afraid then Lick it!

Have a great day!











Liquor Tax For PA Floods? Why Not?

Here is an interesting article that I thought I’d bring to your attention.  It’s from the Tunckhannock Times and it talks about using tax from liquor sales to help in flood mitigation and relief.  Take a look-

A western Pennsylvania lawmaker is proposing to divert some of the moneyfrom the “Johnstown Flood Tax” on alcohol back to its original purpose — flood and other disaster relief.

click image to enlarge

An array of cordials sits on the shelves at the George Avenue Wine and Spirits Store in Wilkes-Barre. The local store is one of 620 state liquor stores in operation throughout Pennsylvania.

Don Carey/The Times Leader

Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria, is proposing to use one-fifth of the 18 percent tax to create a fund to provide relief from disasters such as flooding.

Wozniak said he recognizes the irony of proposing such a fund, since he hails from Johnstown.

But since repealing the tax has proven to be politically impossible, he said, efforts might be better directed to trying to divert some of it back toward its original purpose.

The tax now generates some $200 million each year for the general fund, and lawmakers have been reluctant to give it up, rejecting repeal efforts in 2001 and 2003.

Wozniak has proposed similar legislation in the past without success, but he said he hopes the recent flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee will spur support for the idea now.