Month: April 2010

Weekend Wanderings: April 30, 2010

SOTA tent w-walkwayOn a warm, soft, spring evening, the Society of the Arts, known as SOTA, premiered their 2010 Show House to an appreciative audience. The house, located on 28th St., in the West End of Allentown, less than a block from the city’s beautiful Rose Garden, was once The Morning Call’s very own model home which has certainly helped to gain publicity for the project. Designed to bring hope to a struggling public during this country’s last great depression, the house was originally toured by thousands of people looking for a glimmer of a brighter future.

The crowd at the Friday night opening looked like they had no such concerns. The hospitality tent where jazz played and wine flowed was a lively place, made all the more attractive by its setting next to the newly renovated Malcolm Gross Garden.

The SOTA Show Houses are one of my favorite local outings. I haven’t missed one in years, and I urge you not to miss this one. It’s simply beautiful, inside and out, and what I like best is that it highlights the fact that Allentown can be a wonderful place to live. 

A Quick Observation From The Peanut Gallery

girl-scout-red-flag-sash-scouting1921 Honoring one’s social obligations is not always convenient but as my mother used to say, “Good manners is what separates us from lesser creatures”.  (My mother was one-of-a-kind)

Tonight, despite lots of work and a pressing deadline, such an obligation required my attendance, so I washed off the writer’s grime of the past few days, covered the sleep-deprived circles under my eyes with makeup, and went off to the Girl Scout “Take The Lead” dinner at Lehigh Country Club.

The evening began with a reception that included the usual sponsor thank you remarks, followed by a group of really cute little Girl Scouts singing a song. The entire time all this was going on, Allentown’s Mayor Ed Pawlowski sat in the middle of the room, not in the back or off to the side, reading his Blackberry…other than when his and his wife’s name were called, he never looked up once.

Call me old fashioned but I think when you’re in the room, you should also be in the moment…we’re only talking about a span of 15 minutes.

Once seated for dinner, the color guard marched to the stage, presented the flags, and everyone rose to say the Pledge of Allegiance and to sing God Bless America. It was right at about “Land that I love” that Mr. & Mrs. Mayor got up and walked out. Yes, you read this correctly. They couldn’t wait two minutes till the song ended. They got up from their table in the center front of the room and walked out.

When the emcee began to acknowledge the politicos who were in attendance, and the Mayor was no where to be found, the woman said, “Oh someone just told me he had to go to a city council meeting”. She looked perplexed when some people started laughing.

It’s a shame my mother is not here; She could make a lot of money as a consultant to politicians who obviously have no concept of “good manners”…or good politics either.    

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Blu Arial view For the past six months I’ve been working sporadically on a “commission” for the Haycock Township Historical Society. The original assignment was to contribute several chapters to a book documenting what  life was like before the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania decimated the township to build Lake Nockamixon.

What started as a professional writing project soon turned in to a labor of love: Labor because it has taken so much more time and energy than originally anticipated and love because Haycock is where I was born and raised. To me it has always been a mystical “Brigadoon”. When I tell people about it, they don’t believe me…they think it’s the softened, rounded remembrances of childhood.

I might believe so myself if it weren’t for all the old friends and neighbors who have come forward to offer their own stories and photos that mirror my own. Memories come into sharper focus when seen through the prism of a friend with whom you have not spoken in 40 years.

Now the deadline nears and there are still many tales to tell. So I’ll be gone for a while on a lovely but sad walk down memory lane, as I try to resurrect a time and place from its watery grave.

Welcome to Allentown: ASD Names New Superintendent

Effective  July 1, the Allentown School District will have a new Superintendent, Gerald L. Zahorchak, D.Ed.,, who currently serves as the Secretary of Education of Pennsylvania. Quite impressive to land such a well-connected high ranking official. 

The press release announcing Dr. Zahorchak’s appointment, lists his many credentials and qualifications, not the least of which are…

** His documented ability to coalesce diverse groups of educators and community leaders to reach strategic goals

** Leading the Commonwealth’s educational community so that each individual can grow into an inspired, productive and fulfilled lifelong learner

** Restructuring the focus on workforce development education to increase student placement into high-demand, higher paying jobs

** Working closely with local school board officials and superintendents to provide property tax relief to Pennsylvanians

Zahorchak’s salary will be $195,000 a year plus benefits, for the length of his five year contract. It was not specified whether a flack jacket and personal security detail were included.

Considering the news reports coming out of Allen High School this past week that ranged from a slashing incident to the disappearance of a female student who told her parents she was terrified of the violence at school,  it seems  Dr. Zahorchak has his work cut out for him.

Welcome to Allentown. Good luck. And could you please focus on that property tax relief thing?

Worse Case Scenario

Technology is not my thing; I’m fairly adept at operating my computer and my smartphone…as long as they work the way they’re supposed to. But the minute there’s a problem, I need to call in the experts. As the regular readers of this blog know, I just recently rejoined the blogosphere. Happy to be back and proud of my pretty new blog, I should have known things were going too well.

Last week, as I went to put up a post, my virus alert went off, and I mean it went off…I have a system that literally blares out a loud alarm. I decided to pack it in for the night and try again the next day. When I booted up in the morning, there was a message from a friendly fellow blogger, telling me that when he went to read my blog, he received a warning that the site was corrupted. Now it was time to panic.

I called in my very smart, very nice “blog guru”: It has taken six days to get it all straightened out.

In the midst of this meltdown, my husband and I had dinner with some dear friends that we affectionately refer to as the “international club”. For both business and pleasure, they spend much of their time traveling the world. They are well read, well informed, and very interested in politics.

When I regaled them with the tale of the cyber attack that had taken down my blog along with many other websites hosted on the corrupted server, the story brought forth a unanimous consensus from the group, and in the case of one member who is an international businessman, some inside knowledge, that the physical terrorist attack we all fear, is not the real threat: The true danger lies in the bad guys launching a massive cyber attack that shuts down power grids, ATM machines, Wall Street…the list goes on, succeeding in paralyzing the country.

Apparently, this is not so far-fetched. Turns out that just two months ago, the U.S. government participated in a simulation complete with “operations center” to deal with just such a cyber attack. I guess the good news is that they’re trying to be proactive. The bad news is such an operation is an indication of just how serious the threat must be.

Oh good, another thing to worry about. Well at least my blog is up and running again…for now. 

Stop To Smell The Apple Blossoms

Jody's Srping Lunch

In the middle of a very hectic day, in the middle of a very busy week, the world slowed for just a moment as I shared a picnic lunch with a dear friend, in a treehouse surrounded by apple blossoms. May I never be too busy or too sad to appreciate such gifts.

Blogger’s Note: This post was created six days ago just as the server that hosts my blog went down due to a cyber attack of some kind. Luckily WordPress caught it and saved it. It’s such a lovely photo and warm reminder of a wonderful interlude, that I want to post it even though the moment has passed.

Technical Difficulties….

Having some serious technical issues with the blog. Thought at first that it had been hacked , which may still be the case. There also seems to be technical issues with platform; not sure if the two things are related.

The “Blog Guru”, that’s not me, it’s a real blog guru who does this for a living, is trying to straighten it all out.

Hope to be back up and running, “soon”. Thanks for checking in.

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The Mystery Poll

I previously posted about an extensive phone poll I had received that focused on the race for the Lehigh Valley’s 15th Congressional District between Charlie Dent and John Callahan. I summarized, incorrectly as it turns out, that the poll was most likely conducted by the Dent campaign or the RCCC.

I’ve received both official confirmation from the Dent campaign’s manager, Shawn Millan, and unofficial confirmation from a source close to the campaign, that it was NOT a Dent poll nor was it paid for by the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. Millan believes it was a Democratic poll, although that is an opinion only. The unofficial source, a professional political operative, agreed with Millan, sighting  the extensive questions about union membership.

My theory was that the union questions were the R’s looking for any weakness in union support that they could leverage. The operative thinks it’s the exact opposite: The Dems are worried that the unions are so mad over the healthcare bill that they’ll run to the Republican side of the ballot. The poll is meant to reassure the “D” hierarchy that that’s not true, or motivate them to start shoring up that part of the base.

Blogger’s Note: I would have posted this information two days ago, but someone tried to hack in to the blog rendering it unusable for 48 hours.

A Different Kind Of Conversation…

Blogging is a very unique, personal, form of communication. We bloggers get to sit in front of our computer screens at all hours of the night and day, in all forms of dress or undress, and pontificate about anything that interests us, in the hope that someone will read our pearls of wisdom, and even better, post a comment.  

WGPA studio Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14, I get to up the ante by being part of WGPA’s morning program, “Daybreak” from approx. 8:15 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The show is streamed  live online at http://www.wgpasunny1100.com and the call-in number is 610-866-8074. 

We won’t be discussing politics, at least not local politics. We will be discussing the status of women in the developing world and the economic impact women are beginning to have on the global economy…from America to Afghanistan.

I hope you’ll be listening, and most of all, I hope you’ll call in to say hello, share your thoughts, and join the conversation, because after 9:00 a.m., this radio Cinderella turns back in to a blogger pumpkin, stuck behind her computer screen once again.

Press 1 If You’re Ready For Politics 2010

telephone ringing There are certain markers in politics. Across the country, fall elections begin in earnest after Labor Day; in Pennsylvania, where our spring Primaries usually don’t happen till May, this year it’s May 18, everyone gets serious right after Easter. So it wasn’t surprising to pick up my phone and hear an automated message telling me they weren’t selling anything, that my political opinions were very important, and I should press 1 if I was willing to take a survey.

The questions focused mostly on the 15th Congressional race between Charlie Dent and John Callahan. On a sliding scale, how favorable was my opinion of each candidate. Was I definitely going to vote for one over the other or was I only “likely” to vote for one of them. And did I feel aligned with how Dent voted on the issues.

There were some “coattail” questions, too, from the Statehouse to the White House. Was I likely to vote for Corbett or Onorato for Governor, and what kind of job did I think President Obama was doing, including rating my opinion about healthcare. I answered very calmly and professionally, relieved that they didn’t get my husband on the phone instead of me.

When it came time for the stats, I was surprised at two things, how much emphasis there was on race: I must have been asked three different ways if I was Caucasian or Hispanic. And another three questions about labor unions, from was I a member, was a spouse or next of kin a member, down to “Is anyone living in your household a member?”.

There was no mention of Dent’s Tea Party Primary opponent, so it appears he’s been dismissed as not even a factor. And from the emphasis on unions, it looks like siphoning off their members, who have made no secret of their anger over the healtchare bill, away from the Democrats, may be a new strategy for this mid-term election. 

The poll was so well done that I can’t be exactly sure who paid for it. If I had to bet, I’d say the Dent campaign or the National Republican Congressional Committee. I called Dent’s headquarters for comment, but my call was never returned. I guess they don’t know about political markers…Easter is over, Press 1 to talk to your constituents.

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