Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The PAWS That Refreshes - PR for a Good Cause

     Since I've had some free time on my hands lately I've been volunteering at a local animal shelter called PAWS.  Trina has been working there too- taking pictures and posting them on the shelter's web site.  As you can see I've included some of Trina's photos.   It's amazing how many cats and dogs need homes.  We have dozens and dozens of animals in cages and hundreds more are on a waiting list to get in.  I never thought I'd want to adopt an older pet- but most of these dogs and cats are just wonderful.  I can't imagine how they ended up here- they are gorgeous, affectionate and fun.  I guess the recession has something to do with it- And of course there are plenty of people who throw away pets when they get tired of them.  I'd take them all if I could- the pets I mean.  Fortunately, this is a no-kill shelter.  I can't imagine how anyone works in a shelter where they routinely euthanize the pets.  Can't be a very good feeling for the animals either.
     PAWS never has enough money or enough volunteers- but they manage to do impressive work.  I've been walking dogs and mowing the lawn- Last weekend I chaperoned a group of nine college freshmen who stopped by to do some community service work.  We always hope they'll become regular volunteers- and some do.  But I think most of them come hoping it's a good way to meet people of the opposite sex.
      Lately I've been working on a PR campaign to promote a big cat adoption event.    After 30 years, they've found homes for 5,000 cats and who knows how many dogs.  This kind of PR is harder than I thought it would be.  We're holding a tailgate party because football is a big deal in our area.  Penn State's stadium is just down the street.  Finding sponsors is a battle.  You have to get lots of people to sign off on advertising, flyers and press releases.  I was hoping to sign up a local radio station to do a live shot but their on-air people aren't available.

   I was hoping to raffle off a pair of tickets to a PSU game- but I can't find anyone willing to donate seats.  I can't even get coach Paterno to sign a football so we could give it away.  And we still have to find donors willing to pay for the tailgate supplies.  At least we already have a couple of grills.  It's all kind of a hassle.  One thing for sure- you couldn't pay me to do this kind of work.

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Copyright 2010
all rights reserved by the author

all rights reserved
photos copyright Trina Bauer photography

Monday, August 30, 2010

You Can Go Home Again - But It's Never the Same

For years I've been telling Trina about this wonderful place up in the Pennsylvania mountains called The Haystacks.  I used to go to there when I was a kid.  It's a place where the Loyalsock Creek runs over a solid bed of rock.  Over the years (eons) the creek has carved out a natural water slide.  And yesterday, we finally had time to go do it!  It's a bit of an adventure because we had to drive 2 hours just to get there.  Trina hauled all of her camera gear down there to take photos of this natural wonder.


reality: you have to hike downhill (on a goat path) and it's a couple of miles.


reality: the water sort of pushes you forward (a little)


reality: it's about 50 feet long and there are lots of jagged rocks that scrape your private parts


reality: I did it once.  That's enough.

Final reality: Trina says from now on she's planning our adventures.


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Friday, August 27, 2010

The Friendly Skies???

     Okay class, today we're going to talk about customer service and the airlines.  Yeah, I guess that's a pretty good example of an oxymoron.

     You've seen the stories about people trapped for hours on planes stranded out on the tarmac.  

     You've heard about the countless flight delays.

     And you've heard about the flight attendant who wigged-out, cursed a passenger, grabbed a beer and escaped via the emergency slide.  According to witnesses the flight attendant said he couldn't take it anymore.  You'd think by now we'd have seen stunts like that performed by PASSENGERS.

     I recently flew Delta to Italy for a family vacation and it was a great experience.  At least it was AFTER we left New York's JFK Airport.  The terminal area was small, dirty, noisy and filled with hundreds (if not thousands) of people- standing in lines snaking in several directions.  It was chaos.  There were no airline reps available to tell us what to do.  And there were no signs indicating which line to join.  I had to fight my way up to the counter to ask for directions.  And as luck would have it- because we had checked-in on the internet, all we had to do was turn over our baggage.  But we still had to wait in line because they were frantically trying to process people whose flights were leaving ahead of us.  The Delta people were extremely nice- just hopelessly overwhelmed.  One counter person told me that staffing levels had been cut.

     All this is happening as Delta is blowing its horn about terminal upgrades at LaGuardia.  They've opened swanky restaurants, staffed by fancy-pants famous chefs.  Why is JFK the pits?

     Coming home, the Delta terminal in Rome was spotless, airy, huge- wonderful.  They rushed us through check-in and got us to the gate in a flash.  And to be fair, the Delta planes were new, clean and the actual flights were terrific.
     If a Delta executive flew out of JFK I imagine that person would be outraged by the conditions in that terminal.  And I can't believe that Delta's top brass hasn't been there.  So why aren't they doing something about it?

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Copyright 2010
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Man Suffers "Shooting" Pains- Now Hangover Cured!

Here's today's strange bit of news: A man in Germany is finally over a nasty hangover- one that had its genesis in a drinking binge that happened five years.  It all began on New Year's Eve in 2005.  Robert Chojecki was reportedly drunk and partying out on the streets when he suddenly felt a sharp blow to the head.  But it wasn't until recently that Chojecki had his head examined.  An X-ray revealed a 22 caliber bullet lodged in the back of the 35-year-old man's skull.  Apparently, Chojecki was struck by a stray bullet.  According to the AP Chojecki suspected something was wrong when he started having headaches last year.  Doctor's have removed the slug.  And they say Chojecki should be feeling better now.  They do not say WHAT this guy was drinking.  There could be a demand for booze that strong.  Is a beverage maker missing out on a marketing opportunity?

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Copyright 2010
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gun Un-control

Chalk one up for the second amendment.  In Florida, an elderly man and his wife ended up as the innocent victims of an un-crime.  It happened while Arnold and Patricia Morris were holding a "robbery drill" at their home in Melbourne.  According to the AP,  the couple was practicing how to respond to an intruder- when Pat got shot.  After smoking his bride with a shell from a 380 caliber pistol Arnold called 911.  Pat was airlifted to a hospital and is expected to survive.  Not surprisingly, police say the Morris' had little experience with guns.  Investigators are calling the incident "clearly accidental". 
It appears the bad guys aren't the only ones who appear to be armed and dangerous-

Over the years I've written a lot of stories about misfired weapons.  Usually it's a clumsy robber who shoots himself in the leg.  Although I do recall a cop who shot himself while teaching a gun safety class.  Pat Morris is probably the first I've heard of to be shot while actually pretending to be a crime victim.  Just goes to prove you don't need to be a professional to get the job done.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It Sure Aint Old School

     Today, the weather turned cooler for the first time since last May.  And that can only mean one thing- NO not football.  Okay, it can only mean two things.  Football and Back To School.  We live in a college town and you can tell the University is back in session.  The place is overrun with students who look like they've just crawled out of bed- even though it's mid-afternoon.  And of course, a rising tide of  broken beer bottles is filling the gutters.

   I know a lot of public school teachers who're already back in the classroom.  They're getting ready to welcome back hordes of juice-box-toting elementary kids- or in the higher grades, gun-toting teens.

Mom always took pictures of us before we left for the 1st day of school.  Some of my back-to-school outfits were pretty comical.  I especially love the pants with 3-inch stripes I wore as I entered the 6th grade.  I think I also wore a brown leather vest with fringe that hung down to my butt.  (that was during the counter-culture 60's)

Compared to when I was growing up, little kids these days already seem so grown up.  They might be in the 1st grade, but they have their own cell phones, computers & TV sets in their bedrooms.  They twitter!  News flash: I wonder if kids get twitters like the one that just now popped up on my computer: "Lady Gaga Reigns Supreme On Twitter Over Britney Spears."  Thank the Lord!

When I was going into the 1st grade, I was totally clueless.  Okay, so I'm still clueless.  But back then it was even worse.  Right before 1st grade started my family moved across town.  On the first day of school Mom took me to class and dropped me off.  It was tough.  We immediately started learning to read.  These days you have to know how to read to get into preschool.  Did you see that most college freshman this year do NOT even KNOW how to write in cursive?  Anyway, after the grueling first day of 1st grade, I walked out the door and suddenly realized I didn't know where I lived.  So, I sat down on the curb and waited.  And waited and waited.  Eventually, Mom came and got me.  She figured out her clueless boy was hopelessly lost.  If I were in 1st grade today, I would have GPS on my smartphone.  Of course, knowing me, I still wouldn't know my address...

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Decision 2010 -or- When you Sleep with Dogs You Get Fleas

     As we gear up for the fall elections you can bet the entire nation is focused squarely on the important issues- the economy, jobs & wars in two countries.  What, are you kidding?  We're Americans.  We're squarely focused on mudslinging and muckraking!  Will Sarah Palin attend her daughter's wedding?  Will there even be a wedding?
    Normally, the Bauer household would be caught up in this great debate.  But not now.  Instead, we're going to the dogs.  Trina and I are trying to 'adopt' a Golden Retriever puppy- and it's taking all of our intellectual resources. By adopt, I mean we're trying to talk a breeder into letting us pay an obscene amount of money to take one of their precious pups home with us.  Let me tell you, when it comes to puppy shopping, it's a dog eat dog world.  And I'm starting to feel like the fire hydrant at a turnpike rest stop.
    Here's how the game is played.  
1)  Locate reputable breeder.
2)  Find out if breeder has pregnant dog. If yes, go to step 3.  If not, go back to 1 and start over.
3) Set up date to meet & greet with the pregnant dog.  Bring suitable gifts for mother-to-be (squeaky toys or meat are always good choices)
4)  Make nice with breeder.
5) If breeder doesn't like you see step 1.
6) Ask how much they charge for a puppy.
7) Quietly take a Xanax.
8)  A few weeks later you visit again to meet the newly arrived puppies.

9)  You're bombarded with fur balls- sort of like the Tribble episode in the original Star Trek series!
10) One puppy chews on your pants leg while another works on your ears.  And you always have to keep a sharp eye out for the missing puppy who's about to lift his leg on your shoes. (Just so you know, this is the fun part)
    So we've met our mother-to-be and played with her puppies. (in this litter there are 12 of them!)  But the real work is just beginning.  It's Decision 2010!  Now you have to pick your puppy.  But keep in mind that lots of other dog-loving idiots just like you are also playing the game.  And they all want the same puppy you do- the one that's attractive, super playful, intelligent, and in general the most Lassie-like.  Our breeder is going to have all the prospective puppy parents come back on the same day.  And when it's our turn to pick, we have to hope that our dream puppy is still available.  Otherwise we'll have to move on to Plan B or in this case Puppy B.  So keep your fingers crossed for us!

Coming soon.  Puppy names!
Followed by more Puppy games.  Moccasin Munching, Sofa Shredding & Poop-A-Scooping.  We can't wait!.

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Copyright 2010
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Monday, August 2, 2010

Bikini Bombshells

 It's been a 'revealing' beach season to say the least.  A couple of weeks ago I'm sitting surf side in Ocean City, MD, reading a book.  This summer's project is an epic bio of Andrew Carnegie.  At the turn of last century Carnegie sold his steel mills for what would be about $120 billion in today's money.  By comparison I'd say Bill Gates is a piker!  What's Gates got- a measley 40-50 billion?  Of course, Gates isn't a tight-fisted, union-busting, robber baron- at least not that I know of.
   So I'm sitting in my beach chair reading when a middle-aged woman walks up with a couple of kids.  They throw down some towels in front of me.  And I'm thinking it's odd that this woman is wearing a house dress on the beach.  And then she hikes up her dress and starts fumbling with her bathing suit.  The suit- she's in the process of putting it ON.  She's just standing up there in front of about 2 million beach-goers, calmly changing outfits.  And suddenly, just for a second, I thought I saw the whole 'South 40'- if you know what I mean  The view lasted just a second and I'm sure it was just a beach blanket bingo hallucination.  I'd been out in the sun for quite awhile.
    Sadly, the men were definitely NOT hallucinations.  What is it with these overweight guys wearing speedos?  I saw one guy who was so large, you couldn't even SEE his suit.  yewwwww!
    And then, yesterday, I'm at a swimming hole called Whipple's Dam.  The Dam was built during the great depression- the one in 1930 not the one we have going on right now.  Anyway, a young woman in a too-tight bikini was sunbathing right in front of me.  When she got up for a swim, she tugged on her bottom.  You guessed it- she tugged too hard- and I'm staring at an early evening full moon.  What is it with all this exhibitionism?  And why is it that the least attractive people are the ones who always want to show off?

     Back to Ocean City.  As my wife and I walked to the dunes-

Trina: "Did you see that woman in front of us?"
Me:    "You mean..."
Trina: "Oh yeah, that was quite a show."
Me:   "Whimper."

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Copyright 2010
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Going, Going, Gone...

     Change.  Not loose change.  Just plain old 'nothing-ever-stays-the-same' change.  And these days, change is working overtime- nearly as fast as Joan Rivers' plastic surgeon.  I'm just back from a retirement party for an old friend named Eddie Foote.  Eddie spent four decades working for the same TV station in New York City.  You can look it up.  Eddie's picture was in the New York Daily News.  The blurb says Eddie was retiring after 45-years. What the newspaper didn't say was that things had changed.  The TV station had changed- longer hours, shorter paychecks.  More work.  Less fun.  

     When I first met Eddie I was part of a crowd of new hires.  Just out of college- freshly-minted journalism grads- we were ready to change the world.  And in some ways we did.  Or more likely, the world changed us.  Eddie was the voice of experience- a friendly, smiling presence- always willing to help out the new kids.  He taught us a lot.     
     A bunch of us showed up to wish Eddie a grand retirement.  His going away party was held in an Irish pub overlooking 45th and Third Avenue.  As I looked around the room at all of my former colleagues- the changes were unmistakable.  Gray hairs, crows feet, some bulging waistlines...  You could see that everyone was older, wiser (we hope), more sedate.    This party was a luncheon.  We washed down crab cakes with white wine.  In the old days we'd have our parties in wild New York City clubs.  We'd stay out all night- dancing, drinking and dreaming. 

Those days are long gone.  So much has changed.  But at least a few things are still the same.  Eddie's still a hell of a guy.  And Friendship.  That hasn't changed a bit.

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