Thursday, March 31, 2011

Top 10 Another Writing Opportunity

  1. For all those that said, “Aw shucks, I could have written a novel in November”, opportunity knocks again.

  1. The Challenge: Write a 100 page script during the month of April.  (Screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, and graphic novels are all welcome.)

  1. You can team it up or it is all on you.  The reward bragging rights and who knows, original dialogue used in the next winner of the Sundance Film Festival. Dream big and use that imagination.  Let it flow.

  1. The official rules can be found at scriptfrenzy.org.

  1. As an experienced winner in the National Write a Novel in a Month, I encourage everyone to give it a try.

  1. Everybody is eligible and has a story to tell I am sure.

  1. Cost: It is free but you are encouraged to download script writing software, some free and discounts offered on the paid subscriptions, but there is no obligation to buy.

  1. I recommend viewing the “how to format” section of scriptfrenzy.org it is different then just random writing.

  1. No need to beat yourself up over it if it is not perfect.  It is just a draft.

  1. Go to the website scriptfrenzy.com and sign up and April 1st start writing, good luck and have fun.

Honestly it is a commitment but it is also an accomplishment to be proud of. I personally enjoyed the encouraging emails that seemed to show up on the days you just didn’t want to play anymore.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top 10 Spring Cleaning, Recycling and Disposal of Hazardous Waste

  1. Toxic and hazardous materials should not be disposed of in regular trash collections. Google “Household Hazardous Events” to find one near you.  April is a big month for these events.
  1. April 9th 2011 is the first event in a series of special dates when hazardous materials will be accepted at specific locations in Pennsylvania. Come to this location 1700 Calcon Hook Road, (click on the link for a map) in Darby, PA 9AM-3PM. Computers. Printers, Fax Machines and TV’s will be accepted at this event.
  1. The 2nd annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will take place on Saturday, April 30, 2011, from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm.  This is a great opportunity for those who missed the first event or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of them. Find a location near you. I also included unused cold and allergy medications last year and they were accepted. It is not recommended to flush unused prescription medication down the drain.
  1. Saturday May 7th is another opportunity to dispose of household hazardous waste at The Marple Transfer Station (click for map) but computers, printers, fax machines and TV’s will NOT be accepted at this event.
  1. Preserve transforms yogurt cups into toothbrushes and those toothbrushes are sold in a recyclable self address sleeve to be returned. I just saw this product in the supermarket this week.  Check out preserveproducts.com for more information.  Whole Foods in certain locations is also a drop off point.
  1. Crayon Recycle. A national crayon recycle center crazycrayons.com will take your old broken crayons or you can create new ones out of old ones yourself with instruction found at ehow.com “how to recycle crayons”.
  1. I found a few listings that said they took old trophies to recycle but the information was outdated. If anyone knows of a location please share your knowledge.  One great idea I found was to remove the name plate from the trophy/trophies and add them all to a wooden plaque and then find a recycle/donation center for the rest of the materials.
  1. Old shoes check these websites Nike reuse a shoe, soles4souls.
  1. Don’t forget freecycle.com.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
  1. Visit EPA’s website for tips on “how to” and “what to” recycle along with the proper disposal technique.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top 10 Remembering Three Mile Island in 1979

Nowadays TMI means Too Much Information but in 1979 quite the opposite was true.

A first hand account of what it was like to experience TMI up close and personal from a friend living there at the time.


1. We had just returned to the Penn State Capitol Campus for our last trimester of senior year - March 1979. On the first day of classes, a few of us drove down to "Chickie's Rock" to watch the sunrise before our 8:00 classes. Chickie's Rock is a cool outcropping that overlooks the Susquehanna just south of Marietta. It's beautiful and serene and, back then, it was pretty natural. (Now, there are railings and benches and signs about how many people have died falling over the edge.) I don't recall ever feeling in danger while up there, but it's a whole new litigious world now :-)

2. So, the sun rose and we had about 40 minutes to get back to campus - which was doable. Normally. As we approached the TMI plant entrance along Rt. 441, the traffic was backed up. Traffic was never a problem on this road. We couldn't get through and our first reaction was angst because that was back in the day when attendance in college classes mattered :-) Then it occurred to us *where* we were and that something was going on at the plant.

3. By the time we finally got back to campus, being late for class was the least of our concerns. *Nobody* was going to their classes because the campus police were driving around Meade Heights (a student housing complex that is no longer in use) with megaphones to announce, "Stay inside. Close your curtains and pull down your shades." (Oh, that's almost as silly as "duck and cover.") Yup, those curtains will surely keep us safe! I'm sure they were just doing their jobs.

4. Evacuation was not suggested or required at first. But the students' reactions were hilarious to me then - and still hilarious now - 32 years later. Today, Penn State Harrisburg is a diverse campus. But in those earlier years, students were largely grouped into one of three majors: social sciences/humanities, business, or engineering. Well, the SS/humanities students reacted calmly and with faith in the authorities. The business majors tried to rationalize what was going on. The engineers (myself included) had a very different take - "Oh God, the 'fudge factor' backfired." The engineers bolted, not having any confidence that "everything was okay." Most of the other students also left campus by the end of the day.

5. We had just *been* home for term break and now we were all back home again. Many took the opportunity to bring friends home and it was an extended term break for us. Back home, we saw and heard what the media was reporting - a very different and far more grim, hysterical story than the locals in Middletown were getting.


6. Where we in danger? Was Middletown and the people very close to the plant in danger? No one knows for sure. All I know is that my friends and I were sitting high above the river, downstream and downwind from the plant when that radioactive gas was released. If anyone was exposed, surely we were.


7. Data was collected on some of us a few times, but no longitudinal study that I know of. As far as I know, I have no greater health risks than I would have naturally. No one really knows, but I still have my "I survived TMI" t-shirt and at least one former classmate still has his "I survived the Sooper Dooper Leaker" t-shirt - named for the Hershey Park Sooper Dooper Looper coaster which was cutting edge amusement park fun at the time.

8. Information Found at the United States Nuclear Regularity Website : Impact of the Accident. The accident was caused by a combination of personnel error, design deficiencies, and component failures. There is no doubt that the accident at Three Mile Island permanently changed both the nuclear industry and the NRC. Public fear and distrust increased, NRC’s regulations and oversight became broader and more robust, and management of the plants was scrutinized more carefully. The problems identified from careful analysis of the events during those days have led to permanent and sweeping changes in how NRC regulates its licensees – which, in turn, has reduced the risk to public health and safety.



9. Current Status Today, the TMI 2 reactor is permanently shut down and defueled, with the reactor coolant system drained, the radioactive water decontaminated and evaporated, radioactive waste shipped off site to an appropriate disposal site, reactor fuel and core debris shipped off site. to a Department of Energy facility, and the remainder of the site being monitored. In 2001, FirstEnergy acquired TMI-2 from GPU. FirstEnergy has contracted the monitoring of TMI-2 to Exelon, the current owner and operator of TMI-1. The companies plan to keep the TMI-2 facility in long term, monitored storage until the operating license for the TMI 1 plant expires, at which time both plants will be decommissioned. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating license for the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1, for an additional 20 years. The new license will expire on April 19, 2034.

10. The accident resulted in no deaths or injuries to plant workers or members of nearby communities. The reactor core of TMI-2 has since been removed from the site, but the site has not been decommissioned. According to the current owners website Exelon Corporation states, “the operation of Three Mile Island produces no greenhouse gas emissions and improves the air quality of the region”.


These are dated photos (1979) of my visit to TMI roughly a month after the accident in the blog,  I did not purchase one but I certainly remember the t-shirts, I survived the Sooper-Dooper Leaker and I survived TMI. In hindsight, you think you are invincible at an early age. Today, I am not so sure I would readily rush to the site of most dangerous nuclear power incident in the history of the United States.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Top NBA Leading Scorers and their Schools

Congratulations to the Chester High School Clippers of Chester, Pennsylvania who won the PIAA Class AAAA State Championship, Saturday March 26th in overtime. Senior Lamon Church had 14 points and also the game winning basket. Maurice Nelson, brother of Jameer Nelson, a member of the Orlando Magic was part of the winning team.


NBA Leaders

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder born in Washington, DC. Durant attended the University of Texas, after freshman year he opted to enter the NBA draft. He was selected 2nd overall by the Seattle Supersonics. He is 22 years old and on July 7, 2010, Durant announced on his Twitter page that he signed a 5-year contract extension with the Thunder. The extension is worth about $86 million.



2. LeBron James, born in Akron, Ohio now plays for the Miami Heat. He began his basketball career by being the number one pick in the NBA 2003 Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He joined the NBA right out of high school. He was also a standout football player at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Akron. He was on Forbes' 2006 Richest Young Celebrities List, it is reported he earned $22.5 million in 2005. He was the top earner on the list at age 21.



3. Amar’e Stoudermire was born in Lake Wales Florida. He plays for the New York Knicks. He attended six different high schools due to family difficulties. He graduated from Cypress Creek High School in Orlando Florida. He committed to the University of Memphis but never attended. He instead declared himself for the 2002 NBA Draft. He was picked ninth by the Phoenix Suns. On June 30, 2010, Stoudemire opted out of his contract with the Suns, which made him an unrestricted free agent. On July 5, 2010, Stoudemire and the New York Knicks agreed in principle to a contract estimated to be worth around $99.7 million over five years.



4. Dwyane Wade plays for the Miami Heat Wade attended Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, playing for the school's varsity basketball team. Wade chose to play college basketball for Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During Wade's freshman year at Marquette, he was ineligible to play with the men's team due to a violation of the NCAA's Proposition 48. Wade sought tutoring to improve his writing skills in order to regain eligibility. Wade became eligible to play the following year (2001–2002), Wade's performance during the Midwest Regional Final of the 2003 NCAA Tournament was highly publicized by the national press. Wade's exceptional play helped lead Marquette over the Wildcats 83–69 and into the Final Four; Wade was named MVP of the Midwest Regional. He elected to forgo his senior year at Marquette and enter the 2003 NBA draft. His 2010-2011 salary is $14,000,000. His teammate and #2 highest scorer LeBron James salary for 2010-2011 is $14,500,000. He was making $15,779,912?? Must be union everybody is taking salary cuts.



5. Carmelo Anthony was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Maryland around 8 years old. He previously played for the Denver Nuggets as of February 2911 he plays for the New York Knicks. Anthony attended Towson Catholic High School for three years and graduated from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. He played one season for Syracuse. He helped the Orangemen to their first NCAA Tournament Title in 2003. He abandoned his collegiate career and declared himself eligible for the 2003 draft.



6. Kobe Bryant plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was drafted 13th into the NBA in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets, and then traded to the LA Lakers. He was a standout basketball player at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania and recognized as the top player in the country. He decided to declare his eligibility for the NBA draft upon high school graduation. Bryant has stated that had he decided to go to college after high school, he would have attended Duke University. Bryant is the NBA’s top paid player. He signed a three year $83.5 million extension with the Lakers in April 2010.



7. Derrick Rose plays for the Chicago Bulls. Rose learned the game of basketball from his three older brothers. In high school, he won two state championships and was rated by scouts as the top point guard prospect in the country after graduation. He played for the University of Memphis Tigers and reached the NCAA national championship game in 2008. Shortly after, Rose declared for the 2008 NBA Draft and was selected first overall by his hometown Chicago Bulls and did not return to college.



8. Monta Ellis plays for the Golden State Warriors. . Ellis entered the 2005 NBA Draft after graduating from Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi, all four of his high school seasons and was named Mississippi's "Mr. Basketball" by the paper in 2005 Drafted by the Warriors in the second round (40th overall) in the 2005 NBA Draft. On July 25, 2008, Ellis signed a six-year, $67 million contract extension with the Warriors, making him the highest paid player on the team.



9. Dirk Nowitzki plays for the Dallas Mavericks. He is a German professional basketball player who plays for the NBA. He was drafted 9th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1998 and immediately traded to the Mavericks where h has played every since. Dirk considered attending many different colleges, including Penn State but, his dreams of college were squashed when he was drafted into the civil service in Germany. Although he was allowed to play pro basketball on the weekends, he continued to serve in the German Military from September 1997 to June 1998. On July 5, 2010, he agreed to remain with Dallas by re-signing to a four-year, $80 million deal.



10. Kevin Martin played for Zanesville High School and was named to the All American team. He then received a full scholarship to Western Carolina University, where he majored in sports management. He ranks fourth all-time on Western Carolina's scoring list with 1,838 points. . Due to his success, he was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the 26th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. On August 28, 2007, the Sacramento Kings and Martin agreed to a 5-year, $55 million deal. The way I read this he is the only top 10 scoring player in the NBA to receive a college degree and it is in sports management.



Out of 10

1 out of 10 completed college on a full scholarship.

1 international player completed his civil service first.

4 players joined the NBA straight out of high school

3 players attended one year of college made it to the NCAA Tournament and signed with the NBA.

1 player attended 3 years of college made it to the NCAA Final Four and signed with the NBA.



The NBA Draft is an annual event in which the thirty teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can draft players who are eligible and wish to join the league. These players are usually amateur U.S. college basketball players, but international players are also eligible to be drafted. The Draft usually takes place at the end of June, during the NBA off-season. The Draft consists of two rounds with a total of sixty players to be selected.

In the past, high school players were also eligible to be selected. However, starting in the 2006 Draft, high school players were not eligible to enter the draft directly after graduating high school. The rules now state that high school players will gain eligibility for draft selection one year after their high school graduation and they must also be at least 19 years old as of the end of the calendar year of the draft.

Here is a cool website databasebasketball.com that will tell you NBA Players names and the college they attended for the more curious.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top 10 Does the Weather Affect our Moods?

We sure talk enough about it

  1. “She has a sunny disposition”, is said in an almost jealous, flip way. I need some sun!!!!
  2. That wind just blew me away. Is this going to last? I just did my hair and I am tired of putting the lid back on the trash can.  Whose lid is that anyway?
  3. I can’t take the cold anymore.  SNOW! You have got to be kidding me. Fear factor sets in, commuting will be a NIGHTMARE! Even if it snows while I am asleep. Do you think they will close the office? People do that, they revert back to those glorious days of school closings.

  1. It’s way too hot for me today. When will this heat wave break? A fantasy now but just wait, we will all be saying it.

  1. Is it going to rain AGAIN? It is so dreary and gloomy out today.  If the sun is going to hide I feel like doing that too.

  1. Temperature, wind, and sunlight were found to have an effect on negative mood. Sunlight seemed to play a role on how tired people said they were.

  1. Wind had more of a negative effect on mood in spring and summer than in fall and winter.

  1. Sunlight had a mitigating effect on whether people reported they were tired on days when it rained.

  1. People were so varied in how they responded that researchers write that a mood-weather link may still exist for individuals.

  1. When days become shorter, some people's moods mirrored that, while others actually felt more positive feelings.



Number 1 thru 5 comes from my own observation of people. Number 6-10 were the results of a study led by Jaap Denissen of Humboldt University in Berlin that I found in a WEBMD article, “How Weather Affects Our Mood”.

The temperature outside definitely affects my temperature inside. If the weather co-operates, I am not going to argue with that.

This just reminds me of this great song “Don’t Rain On My Parade”.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top 10 March Madness, I'm Still Happy

  1. I am experienced with bracketology. I have been in the game for over 20 years.

  1. I made a random pick out of the hat in 1999 and came up with Gonzaga an unknown who made it to the Elite Eight that year. They have made an appearance ever since and I will always pick them in the first round. So I now consider myself a pro in how it works.

  1. BYU did take Gonzaga out rather quickly.  Apparently the “no sex zone” does work.

  1. I am still going to the big dance after this weekend’s elimination.

  1. I always pick one team emotionally and this year it was Temple. I thought “maybe” it was their time but San Diego has proven to be a better scrapper.

  1. I enjoy watching the college teams because you can tell they want it bad.

  1. NCAA games are not as predictable as the NBA and the shockers are more fun.

  1. Besides my upset with The Pitts, the Butler did it; I still have teams alive in all divisions except the Southeast.

  1. I did play the grid with enthusiasm in corporate world for many years, but this year it is a little one on one.

  1. So far, I am ahead and if Cinderella (VCU) makes it to the ball and takes the crown, I will be sitting at home as the ugly step-sister that the shoe that doesn’t fit.  I picked Ohio to go the distance. If I win in total points, I will not have to do the dishes for a month. It is always worth the gamble.

March Madness is also a great way to hear about the up and coming draft picks for the NBA, especially when they are locals.  I am more inclined to watch an NBA game if I recognize a stand out name on the team from March Madness.


I highly recommend checking out the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary series. I have only caught a few so far but they are great stories that many people don’t know or have forgotten about athletes from all sports.  They are fascinating human interest stories. HBO has also produced some good ones about the sports world.  You can also follow the fun in the Daily Times print edition, check you grid and status and comment at delcotimes.com in the blogs or play Slam Dunk.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top 10 Signs of Spring


  1. The first day of spring was March 20th 2011.  Honest it is here!

  1. The birds are chirping in the morning. It is not a dream. Wake up!

  1. Buds are appearing on the trees. I believe the Magnolia’s are the first to burst into full bloom.  Keep watching for updates.

  1. Spring bulbs are popping out of the ground and the crocus is in full view.

  1. Have you seen the yellow forsythia showing its winter makeover?  I’ve read somewhere that is a sign that it is the time to trim the roses. I now have work to do. I have found a reference to pruning if it is useful to you.

  1. Rita’s Water Ice had a constant stream on people in line all over Delaware County even though it was only 51º. I was hell bent on living up to my namesake Freebert but the chauffeur would not stop because the lines were too long.  We passed Eddystone, Brookhaven, Media and even couldn’t compete with the crowd at the Granite Run Mall. I should have gotten a rain check and stopped back today.

  1. There are still traces of lit fireplaces in the air, but the smell of the outdoor grill is coming alive again. Sears was handing out free hot dogs on a shiny Weber grill on Sunday and I just couldn’t resist.

  1. Landscapers are busy and home growers are planting the grass seed and fertilizing. I have always been fond of the clover but the husband is going to try again. It is a pride thing for a man, I suppose.  It sounds better to say, “I am going to cut the grass” then to say “I need to snip the clover”.

  1. Motorcycles, convertibles and downed car windows are making a comeback.  The streets are getting more crowded with walkers and runners as well. Everyone is looking for the fresh air.

  1. March madness, spring fever, or is it allergies.  Something is in the air and we can all feel the change is coming.

The April showers are a tad premature but it’s not snow.
Be grateful for the little things!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Top 10 Places to Visit in Ireland

 The traditional thatched roof home is simple yet just as note worthy as any castle, as it jumps out of the landscape.
Football is the popular sport in Ireland. The United States calls this European sport soccer and it has been a growing spot in the United States. Football in Ireland is just as heavily followed as "football" in the United States.  Observe the fans climbing the fence to attend.  Also observe the stadium, nothing elaborate yet it was a sold out event with standing room only all along the walls that outlined the area. The passion was just as intent.
The west coast of Ireland offers breathtaking views and I found it comparable to the sweeping rugged coastal views of California in west of the United States, only much greener.

 Sligo and Galway Bay and the Ring of Kerry stand out in my mind as the most picturesque areas in Ireland, yet you are constantly surrounded by open space and fresh air and an overabundance of "céad míle fáilte", which means a hundred thousand welcomes.
Kylemore Abbey was built in 1867 and is located in Connemarra in the west of Ireland.  You can visit Kylemore Abbey's website for the history and details of this beautiful structure.

Of course, nothing holds a candle to manhood then bellying up to the bar with the locals.  Pubs were closed on Sunday, however there were back door entrances that magically opened if you knew the correct combination of a knock once you attended Sunday mass.  Women were allowed in the back rooms with tables but not permitted to sit at the bar.

Sunday morning the Roman Catholics attend mass. I also had the unique experience of attending an Irish wake.  A beloved priest from the town had passed away and my newly acquainted family recommended I go.  The priest was laid out in a bed in the bedroom and mourners went in to that room and paid their respects.  The common chant was, "god rest his soul".  Afterwards regardless of the time of morning, visitors were offered whiskey or tea.  The following day the casket road in a car but the family and mourners walked several miles to the church for services.

A castle regally sits in the countryside.  Remnants and restorations can be found throughout Ireland.

Kissing the Blarney Stone is quite of an acrobatic and trusting fete. You must bend over backwards, slide down a few inches and kiss a very shiny and worn stone, a lot of lips have been on that stone.  You must rely on  the guide, who has a hold on to you, typically you belt loop and balance and brace yourself with an thin iron railing plavced on the wall behind you..  The safety bars are a few feet below but the distance and the drop below are noticeable even upside down.  It is believed who ever kisses the stone receives the gift of eloquence. There are many eloquent stories of its origin.


Our Lady of Knock Shrine is a pilgramage site in County Mayo. On August 21st 1879, several people witnessed the apparition of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and St. John the Baptist.

 Behind them and a little to the left of Saint John was a plain altar in th appearance. On the altar was a cross and a lamb (a traditional image of Jesus, as reflected in the religious phrase The Lamb of God) with adoring angels.


The Rock of Cashel, Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Top 10 Songs About Separation Anxiety

  1. She’s Gone Daryl Hall and John Oates
  2. Missing You John Waite
  3. Landslide Stevie Nicks
  4. I’m Gonna Miss You The Artistics
  5. Go Now The Moody Blues
  6. Reflections of My Life The Marmalade
  7. When I’m Away From You Kim Carnes
  8. I Will Always Think About You New Colony Six
  9. Miss You Tonite Kim Carnes
  10. Every Time You Go Away Paul Young
Community Blogging Expo March 19th at the Edgemont Country Club 10am-2pm. Come out and meet the bloggers and sign up for an opportunity of your own.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top 10 Touring My Roots in Ireland

 If it weren’t for love, I very well could be an Irish citizen.

  1. My grandmother came over on the boat to Ellis Island from Ireland in the early 1900’s but she was not supposed to.  The ticket was for her older sister Catherine, the eldest sibling. Her sister ran away and married the boy she was in love with and my grandmother was the next in line and was stuck with the ticket. There were 11 children in the family; her father was not wasting the money or the opportunity.  She was 18 years old and alone when she came into this country under her sister’s name.
A letter from Mary to her sister Cassie that was never sent yet it display's her unhappiness with the situation.
    1. My paternal grandmother, Mary Anne became a prearranged maid for a nice family in New Jersey when she arrived in the United States.  She later met and married my grandfather and raised 7 children in Chester, Pennsylvania. I remember hearing that Catherine who remained in Ireland had 18 children, some died very young, Years later, I personally got to meet 7 of them and saw pictures of 2 other daughters and a son. My grandmother corresponded but never returned to Ireland. One of my grandmother’s younger brothers, James traveled to Australia and made a new life there, because of his adventurous spirit, his grandson, Paul later traveled the world to connect with his long lost relatives.  Paul and I met nearly 22 years ago and still keep the family connection alive. We are Skype buddies. Amazes me really, one family in three continents (Oceania, America and Europe) and five countries (Ireland, England, Canada, United States and Australia) and over 11 states in the United States (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Colorado, Louisiana, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York and Virginia) and there very well may be more.
    Mary and Sam her American husband.
      1. Fifty years later a reunion was arranged between the two sisters.  They had not seen each other for all those years. One of Catherine’s children now living in Canada had been in touch with our family for many years.  Eddie just showed up on my grandmother’s doorstep one day and he and my father bonded and became close relatives.  He and his sisters, that were also living in Canada arranged for their mother to visit them in Canada and then bring their mother to the United States to see her sister. The local newspaper, the Delaware County Daily Times covered the story but they did not quite get the whole story.  I was very young at the time but I was there when they met after 50 years.  The very first thing my grandmother said to her sister was, “How could you have done that to me?”  The words were stunning and striking and I never forgot them. I was a little young to comprehend the full impact, but I did realize had things gone according to plan, our whole families destiny would have been different. My grandmother passed away only a few years later.  Cassie died ten years later.  I hope that trip bridged a gap and the forgiveness was felt.
      The Carolan sisters are third and fourth left side in the back row. I am the goofy looking kid next to the pooch in the back row.  This is roughly 2/3rd's of three generations of Irish-American relatives that had been born at this time and the numbers just continue to grow.
        1. My father kept in touch with the Irish Canadian and traveled back with him to their roots in Ireland on several occasions, which made the connection for future generations or I am sure because of the distance and no direct tie it would have been lost.  He enjoyed spending time and visiting with his cousins who remained in Ireland. I loved hearing the stories.

        1. I traveled to Ireland for my honeymoon in the late 80’s and got to meet this whole other branch of relatives for the very first time.  It was quite an experience.  I did not spend my entire honeymoon with them but a great bit.  They are gracious and most hospitable people and didn’t want us to leave.  The core of the family live in Northern Ireland and some of the sisters have moved to the south, Cavan and Dublin and one lives in England.  They are all Roman Catholics.  Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to get to Dublin, my only regret, but we got to see a lot of this beautiful country in just 2 short weeks. I never saw a big city with the exception of Enniskillen. We spent most of our time in the smaller villages and towns. I will include some of those highlights in pictures in the blog.

        1. It was 25 years ago so I am sure it is much different now and even then relations have improved so much but there was a very evident difference between Northern Ireland and Ireland.  First of all the money was different, Irish money and English money.   I arrived in the south; we flew into Shannon Airport and spent a few days there before traveling north.

        1. There was a definite distinction on the day we traveled north.  We had to pass through a guarded gate and present our passports and our intentions on entering the country.  It was like it was a different world.  It was something unique to me I had gone through customs before but this was very different.  It was an armed soldier asking the questions.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t friendly it was his uniform and gun that were so intimidating. After we were cleared to pass through, it wasn’t long down the road when we were halted by another soldier.  He was walking along the road and held his gun up and pointed at us to stop.  We did of course, and there were other soldiers walking behind him and two on each side of the road lain down in sniper position also pointed guns at us.  We were again asked to produce identification and state where we were going and why. This was the last time we were stopped while driving before reaching our destination in County Fermanagh.

        
        Security checkpoint in Northern Ireland
        1. It was hard for me to grasp exactly the reason for these troops.  I was a Catholic and I had Protestant friends.  Was an army really necessary to keep the peace?  I only remember hearing on the news in the United States that there was another bombing in Northern Ireland and the IRA was usually responsible.  I had no concept of what it was like to live in a country so beautiful and friendly yet so divided. It was not until July 2007 that the British Army left, thirty-eight years after they came as a peace keeping force between two religious oppositions. It just makes you wonder, all the lives that lived in fear and danger and the many lives that were lost.  Who won that conflict?

        1. I had one more encounter with the British military. They were seen daily patrolling the town of my relatives.  They would patrol once in the morning and again in early evening.  On one particular day they seemed to be off schedule.  I was in a very small town and a big football (soccer in the US) game was being played that day. After the game when the crowd was thinning, thousands had come into the town; a patrol of soldiers came through.  I happened to have my camera in my hand from the game and went to take a picture of the soldiers.  I never got the snapshot because the butt of a rifle was in my face.  I was told it was against the law to take pictures of the soldiers for security reasons.  They did not know who I was and what my business was but taking a picture of these soldiers and those pictures getting into the hands of the wrong person put these soldiers’ lives at risk.

        1. I was on my honeymoon and saw many beautiful places in Ireland, so I will share a few photographs in the blog but I couldn’t resist sharing that experience. It wasn’t my intention, the story just developed.  I was told I should do a list on the best places to drink on St. Patrick’s Day in Philadelphia because that is what the day is all about but actually, it a celebration of a man who bought Christianity to Ireland and he was born in Roman Britain in the 4th century. The holiday is celebrated in many countries around the world when every one is Irish for the day.


        I call myself Irish but in truth I am an American with Irish roots who really has no idea of the hardships that they have suffered.  I was spared by one person’s decision many years ago. It is a beautiful country, if you’d like to see some photos taken 25 years ago click on my link delcotopten.blogspot.com to see highlights.  It is a country rich in culture, people, landscape and history.

        Community Blogging Expo March 19th at the Edgemont Country Club 10am-2pm.  Come out and meet the bloggers and sign up for an opportunity of your own.

        Wednesday, March 16, 2011

        Top 10 More Fundraisers and Awareness to Support in March and April 2011

        Japanese Earthquake Victims I always find the American Red Cross the safest
         place to donate funds for such a large disaster but there are others ways to give, prayers are also beneficial.

        The "Philly Elvis" at the Note in West Chester, March 20th, the performance will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

        David’s Run April 10th Wilson Farm Park, Chesterbrook, Wayne, PA, proceeds benefit The David Gallagher Foundation benefits learning disabilities and epilepsy. 

        Legs Against Arms April 10th at St Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA.  The run honors loved ones lost to gun violence.

         Run for Jake April 10th proceeds to benefit the Physical Ed Department and Athletic programs at Cheltenham HS and Back On My Feet.

         5K Run for Clean Air April 16th Starts at the Philadelphia Art Museum.

         Gener8tion 8 K Run Philadelphia Navy Yard April 16th event benefits Students Run Philly Style.

         Dash For Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness April 17th Philadelphia Art Museum.

         Valley Forge Revolutionary Run/Walk April 17th at Valley Forge Park.  Proceeds benefit recreation preservation initiatives at the historic Valley Forge National Historic Park.

         Sandy Sprint 5K Run/Walk and Canine Sprint April 23rd at the Please Touch Museum honoring women who have fought ovarian cancer.

         UCP Life Without Limits April 28th at the Philadelphia Art Museum open to runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes of all levels.

         Sunflower Run April 30th at Ridley Creek State Park proceeds will benefit the Academy of Notre Dame Aimee Willard ’92 Scholarship.

        Safe from the Sun 5K Run/Walk April 30th at Villanova University benefit the International Melanoma Foundation.


        Community Blogging Expo March 19th at the Edgemont Country Club 10am-2pm.  Come out and meet the bloggers and sign up for an opportunity of your own.



        Tuesday, March 15, 2011

        Top 10 Beware the Ides of March

         
        Is it all bad?

        1. The saying originated in the Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar.  “Beware the Ides of March” was the message from a soothsayer warning Caesar of his death. Julius Caesar was murdered later that day in 44 BC.

        1. Months of the Roman calendar were arranged around three named days and these were reference points from which the other (unnamed) days were calculated: Kalends (1st day of the month). Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months). Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months). 

        1. It was a bad day for Julius Caesar, but history also has recorded good things has happened on the ides of March.

        1. In 1783, George Washington put an end to the Newburgh Conspiracy and stopped an uprising from the army against Congress over a pay dispute.

        1. The band Ides of March performs their hit “Vehicle”. The song was used nationally in advertising by General Motors. The band split and some members formed the band Survivor.  Ides reunited in 1990 and still tours today.

        1. The Ides of March is the name of an upcoming movie of a play originally titled Farragut North, loosely based on the campaign of Howard Dean.  The film is scheduled for release in December 2011 and is directed by George Clooney that can’t possibly be bad news.

        1. In 1972 The Godfather opened in theaters. Director Francis Ford Coppola was only 31 years old at the time and the movie remains legendary.  In 2007 it was listed behind Citizen Kane as 2nd by the American Film Institute in a list of greatest movies of all time.

        1. On March 15th, 1970, hockey great Bobby Orr became the first defensemen in NHL records to score 100 points in one season.  He actually finished the season with 120 points and earned the status of the best offensive defensemen in NHL history. He signed a “C” form with the Boston Bruins making him their exclusive property at the age of 12. Of course in 1974, The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup (smile) but that was another great day in history.

        1. March 15, 1913 was the first regularly scheduled presidential press conference.  Woodrow Wilson began the practice of allowing the reporters to ask questions as opposed to just feeding them information.

        1. In 1971, Chatrooms made their debut on the Internet.

        Monday, March 14, 2011

        Top 10 Are there any other Charlie’s?

         
        1. Sorry Charlie the Tuna is the mascot for Starkist Tuna.  Charlie just wanted to get caught for his “good taste” but Starkist was looking not looking for a tuna with good taste they were looking for a tuna that tastes good.

        1. Good time Charlie well I have heard that he’s got the blues. Some gotta win some gotta lose, lyrics written by Danny O’Keefe.

        1. Charlie Brown, “You’re a Good Man”. Who doesn’t think he’s the best guy around?  Well maybe Lucy doesn’t but she is just cranky and has he own issues.

        1. Charlie Chaplin very popular silent film star and most would recognize him in old movies and pictures as “The Vagrant” with the moustache.

        1. Charlie Wilson was best known for leading Congress into supporting Operation Cyclone, the largest-ever Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covert operation, which under the Reagan administration supplied military equipment, including anti-aircraft weapons such as Stinger antiaircraft missiles, and paramilitary officers from their Special Activities Division to the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. His behind-the-scenes campaign was the subject of the non-fiction book Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile and a subsequent film adaptation starring Tom Hanks as Wilson.

        1. Charlie’s Hamburgers If you didn’t grow up in Delaware County you may have never had the pleasure of a Charlie’s hamburger with or without. Their original small building was located in Springfield and you would park your car in the lot next to it on a slope and that is where you dined in.  Today Charlie’s is located Folsom, PA.  I hear it is the same grill and that is why they still taste so good. I have seen other Charlie’s Hamburger’s listed on the web in other states but I do wonder, “Are they as good”?

        1. Choo-choo Charlie says, Love my Good n Plenty, Charlie says really rings a bell was a famous advertisement for Good and Plenty candy back when I was a kid.  The licorice candy appealed to me even more because, Charlie said.

        1. Charlie’s Angels this Charlie was a mystery man. It wasn’t until after several episodes you learned the identity of the voice of Charlie.  It was that of actor John Forsythe.

        1. Charlie Manuel is a former Major League baseball player and currently the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.  He led the team to back to back National League Championships and a winning World Series in 2008. Charlie has a contract with the Phillies through the 2013 season.

        1.  Charlie Horse is a painful spasm and if you ever had one you know it will not last forever but you have absolutely no control over how to stop it.  It can also be painful to watch some one else go through it.  This is called sympathy pain as in watching the latest episode of Charlie Sheen.

        Friday, March 11, 2011

        Top 10's list of James Taylor Songs

        1. Fire and Rain James Taylor and Sherly Crow
        2. Mockingbird (classic) James Taylor and Carly Simon
        3. Carolina in my Mind JT
        4. Don’t Let me be Lonely Tonight JT
        5. Cooperline James Taylor (a song dedicated to his father)
        6. Oh Susanna James Taylor and Johnny Cash
        7. Country Road James Taylor (Paul McCartney helped to discover JT)
        8. Up On The Roof
        9. You’ve Got a Friend James Taylor and Carol King
        10. Shower The People James Taylor and the Dixie Chicks
        11. Hard Time Come Again No More James Taylor and Yo Yo Ma
        12. I’ve Got To Stop Think ‘Bout That JT
        13. Never Die Young JT
        14. Smiling Face JT sings to Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street
        15. How Sweet It Is
        16. Song For You Far Away
        17. Love the One Your With CSN and JT
        18. Secret of Life JT
        19. Her Town Too JT & J.D Souther
        20. Long Ago and Far Away
        21. Blossom 
        22. Sweet Baby James 
        23. You Can Close Your Eyes
        24. Steam Roller Blues


        Interview with Ben Taylor (son of James Taylor and Carly Simon)

        James Taylor lived one floor up from John Lennon, he met the Lennon’s assassin the day before hear him speak of it in this interview.

        Grammy Awards

        In 2010 James Taylor was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

        Other recognition



        2009 — Honorary Doctorate of Music from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts

        Thursday, March 10, 2011

        Top 10 Facts About James Taylor

         
        1. James Taylor was born March 12th, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the 2nd eldest of five children, three brothers and a sister. He was raised in Carrboro, North Carolina.

        1. His mother was a classically trained soprano and his father was a doctor and dean of the medical school UNC, Chapel Hill.

        1. He is part of one of the most famous and successful musical families in America. All of his siblings Alex, Kate, Livingston and Hugh possessed musical talent and have recorded albums.

        1. Livingston Taylor is the only one who is still active in the musical profession besides James; he is also a professor at the Berklee College of Music. I correct myself, Kate returned (view her website) to the music scene after raising her daughters in 2003. There are 10 separate interviews with Livingston on YouTube as he discusses growing up Taylor. I found the one about his deceased brother Alex to be the most moving. Follow and click on #7 out of 10 also very interesting are his comments about the freedoms in the music industry and other digital advancements or are they disadvantages to the musician. Hugh and his wife run a bed and breakfast in Massachusetts.

        1. James was admitted into a mental hospital in Massachusetts at the age of 17 for severe depression. He discusses that and his addiction to heroin and how he was fortunate to survive on this link found at YouTube. He wrote many of his songs while he was institutionalized, including “Fire and Rain”. I have read that his brother Livingston and sister Kate also were patients at the hospital at one time.

        1. Taylor speaks of “Fire and Rain” in a 2005 NPR interview with Simon Scott explaining the song was written in three parts. The first part was indeed about Taylor's friend Suzanne, who died while Taylor was in London working on his first album after being signed to Apple Records. Friends at home concerned that it might distract Taylor from his big break, kept the tragic news from him, and he only found out six months later. The second part details Taylor's struggle to overcome drug addiction and depression. The third part deals with coming to grips with fame and fortune, looking back at the road that got him there. It includes a reference to James Taylor and The Flying Machine, a band he briefly worked with before his big break with Paul McCartney, Peter Asher, and Apple Records. I do not think that there is anyone on the planet that has lost some one can not relate to the lyrics “but I always thought that I’d see you again”. What powerful deep feeling words.

        1. Paul McCartney was instrumental in discovering James Taylor.  He first signed with Apple Records in London in 1968. He became the first non-British act to sign with Apple. McCartney and George Harrison guest on "Carolina in My Mind", whose lyric holy host of others standing around me made reference to the Beatles

        1. Sweet Baby James was written by James Taylor on his way North Carolina to meet his brother, Alex’s son named James for the first time.

        1. James Taylor has been married three times. His first marriage to singer-songwriter Carly Simon lasted for ten years and they had two children together, Sally and Ben who both have musical talents.  Ben resembles his father in looks and voice very much so in my opinions. You can view an interview with Ben praising both his parents. Taylor was married to Philadelphia native and actress Kathryn Walker from 1985-1995.  He is currently married to Kim Smedvig, the director of public relations and marketing for the Boston Pops Orchestra.  They began dating in 1995 and married in 2001 and have twin boys, Rufus and Henry, born in April 2001 to a surrogate mother via in vitro fertilization.

        1. James Taylor lived in a building one up from John Lennon during the time an assassin took Lennon’s life. James Taylor came across Mark Chapman one day before the shooting.  Listen to his retelling of that story. I had never heard that before.


        James Taylor is an icon in the music industry.  His words and music along with his life struggles are an inspiration. Owning his music and seeing him in concert should be on every ones bucket list.  I had the pleasure of seeing him at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania a few years back.  He is a gracious and appreciative man to his audience and leaves you feeling you have just seen one of the best.

        His life is just as interesting as his music.  Tomorrow I will list my favorite songs by James Taylor that have helped me along the road.

        Wednesday, March 9, 2011

        Top 10 Things To Give Up For Lent

        1. Cursing


        2. Alcohol

        3. Smoking

        4. Chocolate

        5. Candy

        6. Ice Cream

        7. Caffeine

        8. Being a Hater

        9. Texting (especially while driving)

        10. Here’s a new one…Facebook. Now for some that is a true sacrifice.



        I think every one should at least try to be a better person. It’s only 40 days!

        Tuesday, March 8, 2011

        Top 10 Fat Tuesday “Mardi Gras Day”


        1. Mardi Gras means fat Tuesday in French.  The Carnival begins January 6th and the celebration ends the day before Ash Wednesday an observance in the Roman Catholic religion.  It is the last day to over indulge before fasting for Lent.


        1. New Orleans, Louisiana is not the only place in the United States or the World to paint the town but it is one of the more popular spots. Mardi Gras is a legal holiday in Louisiana, Alabama (Mobile and Baldwin Counties) and not an official legal holiday but a paid off day for state employees in Florida.


        1. The celebration was first bought to the area by French settlers celebrating the Catholic observance in the 1700’s. The first record of the holiday being celebrated in Louisiana was at the mouth of the Mississippi River in what is now lower Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, on March 3, 1699.


        1. The Mystick Krewe of Comus held its first parade on Mardi Gras in 1857.  Comus is the oldest continuously active Mardi Gras organization. It started a number of continuing traditions. It is considered the first Carnival krewe.


        1. In 1875 Louisiana declared Mardi Gras a legal state holiday. War, economic, political, and weather conditions sometimes led to cancellation of some or all major parades, especially during the American Civil War, World War I and World War II, but the city has always celebrated Carnival.


        1. In 1991 the Krewe of Comus withdrew from the parade festivities due to the passing of a city ordinance that required groups to disclose their member’s to certify that they did not discriminate. This would have required them to abandon their code of secrecy. They still hold a Mardi Gras Ball but have not returned to the parade.

        1. Costumes and masks are seldom publicly worn by non-Krewe members on the days before Fat Tuesday (other than at parties), but are frequently worn on Mardi Gras Day. Laws against concealing one's identity with a mask are suspended for the day. Banks are closed, and some businesses and other places with security concerns (such as convenience stores) post signs asking people to remove their masks before entering.


        1. In 1979, the New Orleans police force went on strike and the National Guard maintained order.  Fewer tourists came that year and The Guardsmen protected against crimes to people and property but made no attempt to enforce laws against morality or drug use. Recalling some from the French Quarter community as one of the best Mardi Gras ever.


        1. Inexpensive strings of beads and toys have been thrown from floats to parade-goers since at least the late 19th century. Until the 1960s, the most common form was multi-colored strings of glass beads made in Czechoslovakia. These were supplanted by less expensive and more durable plastic beads, first from Hong Kong, then from Taiwan, and more recently from China. Lower-cost beads and toys allow riders to purchase greater quantities and throws have become more numerous and common. In the 1990s, many people lost interest in small, cheap beads, often leaving them where they landed on the ground. Larger, more elaborate metallic beads and strands with figures of animals, people, or other objects have become the sought-after throws. David Redmon's 2005 film of cultural and economic globalization, Mardi Gras: Made in China, follows the production and distribution of beads from a small factory in Fuzhou, China to the streets of New Orleans during Carnival. With the advent of the 21st century, more sophisticated throws began to replace simple metallic beads. Krewes started to produce limited edition beads and plush toys that are unique to the krewe. Fiber optic beads and LED-powered prizes are now among the most sought-after items. In a retro-inspired twist, glass beads have returned to parades. Now made in India, glass beads are one of the most valuable throws.


        1. The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in late 2005 caused a few people to question the future of the city's Mardi Gras celebrations. The economics of Carnival were, and are, too important to the city's revival. The bankrupt city government, pushed for a smaller celebration to limit strains on city services. Many krewes insisted that would be ready to parade, so negotiations between krewe leaders and city officials resulted in a compromise schedule. It was scaled back. Most of the locals who worked on the floats and rode on them were significantly affected by the storm's aftermath. Many had lost most or all of their possessions, but enthusiasm for Carnival was even more intense as an affirmation of life and survival. The themes began to make statements, with commentary on the trials and tribulations of living in the devastated city. In 2006, a Knights of Chaos float satirizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for the failed levees in New Orleans. In later years, references included MREs (meals ready to eat), Katrina refrigerators and FEMA trailers, along with much mocking of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local and national politicians. By the 2009 season, the Endymion one of the major features on Fat Tuesday parade had returned to the Mid-City route, and other Krewes expanding their parades Uptown.  This year, the band Train, Pat Benatar, Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos will be the Grand Marshalls for Endymion.  Many celebrities have participated in the celebration and have the desire even more so now to help the people bring resurgence to the area.


        I have never been to a Mardi Gras celebration, nor have I ever been to New Orleans but I have heard there is nothing like it.  This link provides a live webcam of the festivities. It is probably the closest I will ever come. I did enjoy following the HBO miniseries “Treme”.  It gave a personality to the people of New Orleans to me and their great contribution to music. This link to the http://www.novareinna.com/festive/krewes.html website lists the krewes and gives a brief description of each one.

        What is your idea of Mardi Gras?  I think of bare breasts, beads and booze and one crazy time. Maybe I am wrong.  It is hard to believe it is suppose to be part of a religious observance.

        Mardi Gras in New Orleans at one time attracted tourists from around the world.  Perhaps this tradition will eventually help restore the economic devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 still so evident today.

        The majority of this information was found at
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Orleans_Mardi_Gras and the links listed. The webcams are interesting but I am not sure how long they will be available.