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He earned the BIG Potty Sticker!

My 2 1/2 year old son Cole has been eyeing up the BIIIIG Froggy sticker for days like it's pure gold.  I told him that was the prize: The BIG Potty deserves the BIG sticker.  He earned it this week with a gleeful shout: "I GOT THE BIG POTTY STICKA MOMMY!!!"  

So easy to please my lil buddy.  Friends razzed me for not rewarding him with a "real" treat.  "Take him shopping for a new matchbox car!"..."Buy him REAL stickers!"  What?! Look at that face - he'd be thrilled with an empty box to play in.

Proud of ya, Buddy!  Toot your horn...that I made out of a discarded toilet roll!!!

 
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The most influential lesson I've ever learned...

On Wednesday I was sitting in the Lackawanna Trail Elementary school gym, listening to the principal Kelly speak to the parents of the incoming class of 2027, and I began to think of how awesome it was that I was going to be helping a little girl to become an adult. Man, what amazing changes have happened to my life.

If you’d have told me a decade ago that I would be in a “parental” position today, not to mention that I’d like it as much as I do, I would’ve laughed in your face. Piper and I have known each other for a little over 3 years now, but the alterations that she (and her mom) has made in the very man that I am have been astounding.

I remember well the “Things That I Absolutely Will Not Do… Ever” list that I had established for my life, it was written in stone and I would dictate the items on it verbatim to anyone who wished to hear them.
  1. I will never have a job that will force me to wake up at an unreasonable time… plenty of other employment options to choose from with a normal start time.
  2. I will never drive a pickup truck… I don’t need one
  3. I will never date a woman named Erika… too hokey.
  4. I will never work in radio… TV is more my style.
  5. I will never date a woman with a child… just because.
The items on that list seemed pretty concrete to me at the time, and I laugh to think of how I truly believed that they were going to remain the commandments that I’d live by…  but that was then.

As the years have slowly ticked off I have watched in disbelief as each so called concrete item of the “Things That I Absolutely Will Not Do… Ever” list began to fall, and my life became better as a result.

When you’re in your teens and early twenties you truly have the incredibly convoluted notion that you absolutely know it all, and there is nobody and no thing that will convince you otherwise; strangely it wasn’t until the day that I said to myself, out loud, “God, please help me, I really have no idea at all of what I’m doing in this world” that I began to learn any of the answers that would be of help. I am convinced it was on that day, when I uttered those words, that I began growing up.

Today I woke up at 3:10am, kissed my fiancé named Erika and her daughter Piper, and drove to my radio job… in my pickup. Astounding.

The lessons Piper will learn and the experiences she will be a part of in her school career are the things that will influence her entire life, and knowing that I had to share one of the most influential lessons that I have ever  learned, and hopefully one that she learns a lot sooner than I did: Never Say Never!
 
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Bye Bye Binky!

Lil over-dramatic? maybe. Waving "bye-bye" to a paci....priceless.
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The Most confusing thing ever

So here at Entercom, they ask us to blog.  It help keeps everyone in the loop for our lives.  A little intrusive sure, but it comes with the job.  Here is my problem.  Sharing my stories doesn't bother me, telling you about my personal life and drama, no big deal.  The biggest problem is I cant!  Sort of...

See we have this web service, Vortal 3.0 (don't let the number fool you, it's not fancy) and it may be the most difficult thing to figure out!   Honestly, I should go back to college and get my degree in computer engineering, because that is the only way this website will make sense. Maybe I'm being a bit too harsh on the system.  Maybe it's not difficult to master, but instead, maybe it just doesn't work at all!   For example, you want to post a picture?  Good luck!   It will either be bigger the the monitor, smaller than a quarter, and off to the far end of the screen, and cut off, or just not there at all!   

How about sharing a youtube video?  Forget it!  Unless you are ok with copying the link and then pasting it yourself, then yea, sure it works!  What I really can't understand it that we HAD a service that worked flawlessly five years ago!   It made blogging easy, dare I even say....fun?  No, I wont say fun, because blogging feels like a homework assignment, forced up me, but it would definitely be easier!   

As I'm typing this I just discovered that, my spelling has not been perfect, no I'm not some brain child, but simply, this program doesn't even support the little red squiggly line that lets you know you have spelling errors.  (Note:  I'm writing this after I finished this monstrosity, and figured out, you need to enable SCAYT, or as anyone else knows it the red squiggly line.  Why is this not enabled from the start?!) 

By now I have made this program look like a piece of Swiss cheese, and I could probably make it look like dust, but by this point, you have either stopped reading, or got the point that this program is trash.  Maybe in 5 years we will switch to something that actually works.... but I'm not holding my breath.  

 

                                                       Crockett 

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Envy My Paperweight Cellphone...

Hey, when I got this beauty, it was the hottest phone to have....back in '09.  Yes, I've had my cell for THAT long.  Now it's almost a game to see how much life this quirky lil pup still has in it.

I have no apps; even Facebook will no longer accept the archaic process of texting status updates and pictures.  That was the only way I could connect with the digitally social world.  I basically have become “THAT GIRL” who would never get a cell phone back in the 2000’s (damn, writing that made me feel old!)  Now, “THAT GIRL” has a phone, but she can’t do anything cool with it!
However, there is a plus side.  Since my phone doesn’t do all those neat things, I still try to have a conversation -- wait for it --face-to-face.  Do teens even know how to do this? 
I’m not on the phone while driving…mostly to dodge other drivers that are face down in their cell. (thank you, sis, for having a “designated txtr” while driving…initially thought it was funny, but now realizing this could be a life-saver).
 My phone is not a drug that I can’t put down.  Look around … how many people can you find NOT staring at their phone?  Sad.
It’s that “Her” Phenom (see the movie – eerie future prediction?) that scares me away from taking the plunge into updating my phone.  Isn’t it interesting how impersonal the means of social media is becoming?   I guess until I accept it, keep a lookout for my status updates via smoke signals…
 
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What I learned... from a whisper.

When Harrison Ford in an interview was asked about how he dealt with fame he had an interesting answer: “You seldom see or hear it in front of you… you hear it around you, and behind you”. To me that was an odd response, but I remember the day that I found out exactly what he meant.

We had been invited to a fundraising event as guests, not “celebrity guests” or performers, and that was a bonus to me. It was to be an evening out that had nothing to do with my work. Don’t get me wrong I love what I do, and I do a lot of it, but when we are given a chance to just chill and simply enjoy a night out (without a work commitment of any description) it’s a rare gift!

The event was in the backstage area at the Scranton Cultural Center, and as we entered we did so with a relaxed sense of peace. Our friends had held a couple seats for us, and our timing was unusually perfect. The crowd, however, in the entry way was oddly large and rather dense, so getting from the door to our table would pose a challenge of sorts.

As we pierced the outer edge of the massive herd of party goers to head towards our seats I said “excuse us please”… in response three people turned to look with a sort awareness in their glace. They said nothing but slid gently apart and held their gaze as we passed. I will admit that most of their attention was focused on Erika, as it should be, but the mood of the moment had changed somehow as we pressed on.

Then it happened, my moment of clarity… the three lookers were behind us and as we were moving briskly away from them I heard one of them say to the other two “That’s the morning guy from Froggy”, and just like he’d described in the interview, the small amount of fame I have attained revealed itself to me… not from in front of me, but from the side and behind me.

We stopped, said hello, took some pics and spent several minutes chatting up a trio of great people.  I came away from that brief interaction feeling like I’d made a couple of new friends… but I couldn’t help but wonder what it must be like for a guy like Harrison Ford, who’s attained worldwide fame, to attempt a date night and fail at every attempt.

I am more grateful than you can understand for every ounce of recognition I receive. I never find it an inconvenience to say hello or shake a hand with a listener of the show, or any Froggy fan for that matter… ever, but I did learn what it feels like to have a person briefly hold you in a higher place, to be somewhat intimidated to speak to you directly, and to hear the background voice of fame talking… but this time it was about me.
 
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The "roads to hell" are here in NEPA!!!

There are few things on this earth that I claim to hate… but one of them is the roads of NEPA!

The driving in this state is abhorred, and year after year, as I continue sailing down the byways of the Keystone State I am less and less inclined to believe it’ll ever be anything but that!

From the potholes to the heaving concrete, the crumbling road shoulders to the dilapidated signage, there is no joy in traveling from place to place here; but this week I saw  the last straw thrown onto the camel’s back… the state approved the install of my personal favorite road pain in the ass: “tar & chips”! Let me explain.

The stretch of road that separates Erika house from mine (Rt. 107) was a road that could have easily fit in well to a war zone! Regular air raid bombings could only produce more damage than was visible on that 14 mile stretch of highway for the past 8-10 years. Well a miracle happened, as the macadam God’s smiled on us and a crew of yellow trucks delivered miles of fresh black smoothness to the gateway to my fiancé’s house, and Rt. 107 got a new and flawless layer of paving last year. Sadly, that was LAST YEAR!

Fast forward to yesterday and the disaster that is Rt.107 now… (see the attached picture).

“Tar & chips” is a process where by a huge spray truck applies a generous layer of hot sticky tar to the flat (usually flawless) road surface and then another truck spills an equally massive amount of crushed gravel (dusty, dirty and most of it not adhering to the tar) on top of it. It then is brushed over by a vehicle that I can only describe as a street sweeper from hell that pushes the excess to the ditch. In about a week the street sweeper from hell does an additional pass, and the job is considered complete.

The problem is that during the week that spans from application day to the final sweep day, it is up to the cars and trucks that travel that road to compact the chips into the tar, and during that process your vehicle is treated to a covering of dust, clanking gravel smashing under your fender wells, slippery stone filled travel lanes, and a shower of the same gravel flying over your vehicle from the drivers (just as pissed as you are) traveling the same road at a speed that sprays your car with military precision!

May I now ask: What in the name of the good Lord almighty above are you doing PennDot?! Why, when you do your best work, do you find it necessary to cover it? Why have you ever so consistently done this on the roads I frequent?  Why is it that you have no respect for those of us who own black vehicles and wish them to remain clean and free of paint chips?!! WHY?!!!!

Dang it!
 
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Ugh! The White Marks!!

I had to laughed - I was just talking to friends about the painstaking steps we take to avoid getting deodorant marks on our shirts ... "...well, you have to get your WHOLE torso into the shirt by digging your arms into it up to your elbow and stretching it out so the bottom of the shirt doesn't fold into your armpits, wiping the deodorant off...." It works. Sometimes. "...you HAVE to wipe the deodorant off IMMEDIATELY with a damp towel. NOT tissues, otherwise it's a WHOLE MESS.." Nothing like white streaks AND wet spots on your shirt. Classy. "Well, just don't pick up your arms all day and no one will see it...." Ever try this:
 
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The last "pretty place" left in NEPA...

There’ has been a ton of chatter this past week (maybe a lot longer) about the lists that rank the Scranton metro area as “unhappy”… not mention unemployed, hung over and massively corrupt, so it might seem awkward for me of all people to write a blog about a happy place here in NEPA,
but I will,
because I own it.

I was padding through the back lawn of my family’s home in Dalton when it hit me… I felt at peace.  It was strange feeling these days, seeing as how I haven’t felt peaceful at all for a time frame that I can only describe as: “as long as I can remember”.

It was warm, very warm in fact, and the swarming bugs were intense, but that didn’t detract a thing from the peaceful calm that settled over me in that moment. The breeze blew through the trees that hung heavy over me, and the sky pushed a series of foreboding clouds around that gave you the sense of a pending storm at any given moment, but the world seemed strangely right somehow as I toured the grounds.

In my eyes, during the last ten to fifteen years, NEPA has become a place that sadly lacks an abundance of true beauty. I know there will be people who sharply disagree with me but I have traveled enough to know how we live surrounded by a landscape of mediocre architecture and landscape design. The detail work of creating true beauty is lost here for the most part… it’s like we take no pride in our area or the things that we create here any longer.

Many formerly magnificent places in NEPA suffer from anything from basic neglect, to the problem of having been abandoned years ago and never fixed. Trees grow over clum dumps (drive the Casey Hwy), beautiful city buildings that represent our former glory are allowed to deteriorate to a level where razing them is the only option (The Sterling Hotel), it’s become routine to pass rotting cars in the front yard of a see through house and soon pass a development of estate style homes… sad, sickening, not to mention downright depressing.

I know that you’re saying that “of course your family home is your favorite, it's a place where your memories are and of course you’ll have a prejudice to it” but I’m not alone in feeling it’s soothing effects… Erika feels it too (and not because she drank any Kool Aid either).

Maybe I just love what I have; maybe I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the property itself, or maybe it really is as awesome as I think it is, but in all honesty, the combination of location and convenience plus the somewhat uppity neighbors that surround it make it a safe, quiet, and sort of “Eden-istic” type of place. It’s pretty place, and honestly there’s not too many of those left here… trust me I’ve looked.
 
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My own personal time machine....

As I was humming along on the lawn mower the other evening a realization suddenly occurred to me… I love cutting the grass.

As a teenager I used the family mower as my primary means of income, and as a supplement to it for several years after that as well. When I circle the lawn these days that old familiar vibration from the whirling blades is like a sort of time machine, and in my mind (for a brief moment) I'm back in high school on my summer break working for gas money, or home from college putting a fresh cut on the grass for some extra beer bucks, or maybe just doing what my mom no longer could in her later years... it's amazing what places that mower can take me in my imagination.

Maybe it’s the accumulation of hours spent making laps in most of the neighborhood lawns, or the familiar and welcome smell of fresh cut grass combined with the exhaust of a Tecumseh engine, or possibly it’s the gentle roll of the mowers tires upon a well fertilized field of green that is so inspiring to me… who knows, who cares, whatever it is I love it!

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t choose it as a career change, but I do completely enjoy the simple pleasure of making the lawn look like a golf course every week… almost as much as I enjoy the beer that awaits me when I’ve returned the mower to its spot between our cars in the garage.

Ah!
 
 


 


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