Monday, September 12, 2005

We've moved!

CentreSquawker has a new home!

Find it now, and from now on, right here.

Update those bookmarks.

Many thanks.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Solving an on-air mystery, or trying to

WBLF, the AM station at 970 in Centre County, was sold in recent weeks to Warren-based Magnum Broadcasting, which also holds WUBZ-FM.

Listeners tell us that WBLF, formerly the Bellefonte-based frequency of WRSC, has been playing National Weather Service broadcasts and "Yellow Submarine" repeatedly in recent days.

What's going on?

We're not sure. But Squawker has placed a call to Magnum. Will pass along more information when it's available.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Finding the right words -- continued

In a Sunday column that focused partly on word usage, I made an awfully ironic mistake.

I used the wrong word. In the first sentence.

That's where I called a man an American refugee.

Mark Bumgarner, of Pleasant Gap, wishes I hadn't.

In a well-thought-out e-mail, Bumgarner asked me to "stop referring to fellow citizens as refugees. The term demeans them and lowers them to a point that they may easily be dismissed....our federal government has already failed these people because they are mostly black and poor. Let's not add to their indignity by reducing them to some third world status.... Is there any doubt that if this tragedy had struck, let's say the Hamptons or Kennebunkport, the federal response would have been much more meaningful and timely."

The man raises an excellent point.

And it's one connected to an emerging national debate, as The Associated Press reported today.

I stand corrected.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Too much money for Philly mass transit? Awwww, shucks!

Was trying to get my sorry bum awake and to work this morning when I heard a radio ad for "The Other PA."

The campaign criticizes Harrisburg for sending millions in tax dollars to support Philly's mass-transit system. Most specifically, its target is the tax money collected at Pennsylvania gas pumps through levies on fuel.

Its implication is that our state's biggest city is sucking down gas-tax money that should be used to prop up road networks elsewhere in the state.

An interesting claim. But here, just for argument's sake, is some food for thought:

Many thousands of people use Philly's mass-transit system. If they were to become gasoline-chugging hogs like the rest of us, they would force the state's gasoline consumption higher. Demand drives price and scarcity.

Which means, if it weren't for mass transit in Philly, everyone would probably see higher prices at the pump.

Maybe I'm wrong. But for whatever it's worth ...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

ISO local ties to Katrina-affected areas

I generally avoid using this forum as a reporting tool.

Today's an exception.

For tomorrow's Centre Daily Times, I'm putting together an article that looks at central Pennsylvania ties to the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. I'm trying to talk with people who used to live down there, former central Pennsylvanians who live down there now, locals who have relatives or friends down there, and just about any other connection.

If anything springs to mind, please feel free to drop me a line. Send me an e-mail message at asmeltz@centredaily.com, or leave a comment -- anonymous or not -- at the bottom of this blog post.

Thanks a bunch.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Central Pa. hamlets the target of Grange Fair jokester

Dennis Heggenstaller, an announcer at the Grange Fair, sent this bad boy out over the speakers recently. Here's the unedited copy:

Mattel recently announced the release of 10 limited-edition Barbie Dolls for Central PA:

1
State College Barbie
This princess Barbie is sold only at high priced, high faluttin stores. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey, and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with an augmented version.

2
Bellefonte Mom Barbie
The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation or secondary education. Traffic-jamming cell phone sold separately.

3
Altoona Barbie
This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a Meth Lab Kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills) ...unless you are a cop, then we don't know what you are talking about.

4
Lemont Barbie
This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card, and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.

5
Snow Shoe Barbie
This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt, and Tweety Bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick Mullet-Haired Ken's butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.

6
Marsh Creek Barbie
This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased Beer-Gut Ken out of Beech Creek Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter-top. Also available with a mobile home.

7
Rails to Trails Barbie
This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, archless feet, hairy armpits, no makeup, and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two PSU Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.

8
Lock Haven Barbie
This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant doll. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant.

9
Howard Barbie
She's perfect in every way. We don't know where Ken is because he's always hunting.

10
Penn State Barbie/Ken
This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding or subtracting the multiple snap-on parts.....

Monday, August 29, 2005

E-mailers calling for gas boycott

An e-mail making the rounds is calling for a gasoline boycott on Sept. 1.

While neither endorsing nor condemning the plans, Squawker posts the e-mail here:

IT HAS BEEN CALCULATED THAT IF EVERYONE IN THE UNITED STATES DID NOT
PURCHASE A DROP OF GASOLINE FOR ONE DAY AND ALL AT THE SAME TIME, THE
OIL COMPANIES WOULD CHOKE ON THEIR STOCKPILES.


AT THE SAME TIME IT WOULD HIT THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY WITH A NET LOSS OF
OVER 4.6 BILLION DOLLARS WHICH AFFECTS THE BOTTOM LINES OF THE OIL
COMPANIES.


THEREFORE SEPTEMBER 1ST HAS BEEN FORMALLY DECLARED "STICK IT UP THEIR
@$$ " DAY AND THE PEOPLE OF THIS NATION SHOULD NOT BUY A SINGLE DROP
OF GASOLINE THAT DAY.


THE ONLY WAY THIS CAN BE DONE IS IF YOU FORWARD THIS E-MAIL TO AS
MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN AND AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN TO GET THE WORD OUT.


WAITING ON THIS ADMIINSTRATION TO STEP IN AND CONTROL THE PRICES IS
NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REDUCTION AND CONTROL IN
PRICES THAT THE ARAB NATIONS PROMISED WEEKS AGO?


REMEMBER ONE THING, NOT ONLY IS THE PRICE OF GASOLINE GOING UP BUT AT
THE SAME TIME AIRLINES ARE FORCED TO RAISE THEIR PRICES, TRUCKING
COMPANIES ARE FORCED TO RAISE THEIR PRICES WHICH EFFECTS PRICES ON
EVERYTHING THAT IS SHIPPED. THINGS LIKE FOOD, CLOTHING, BUILDING
MATERIALS, MEDICAL SUPPLIES ETC. WHO PAYS IN THE END? WE DO!


WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. IF THEY DON'T GET THE MESSAGE AFTER ONE
DAY, WE WILL DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN.


SO DO YOUR PART AND SPREAD THE WORD. FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO EVERYONE
YOU KNOW. MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND MAKE SEPTEMBER 1ST A DAY THAT THE
CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES SAY "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH"


PLEASE FORWARD THIS ON TO EVERYONE YOU CAN!!!!

An olfactory wonderworld

City folk crow about the farm smells at the Grange Fair.

Big deal. What's not to like?

Granted, I've always been a smell person. When I was wee, my aunts thought I was crazy because I'd smell magazines, books, newspapers -- anything that piqued my odor interests.

Little has changed. Much of my fairtime joy stems from my nostrils.

There are the diesel fumes at the tractor pull, the gently musty smell that wafts down the rows of Tent City, the sweet smells in the exhibit areas.

There are smells from barbeque, smells of monkey bread and funnel cakes, hot dogs and sausages.

Exhaust spills from the amusement rides, the dust smells roll upward from the paths and roads, and the barnyard smells cover a corner of the fairgrounds.

Then again, maybe the whole smell obsession is just me.

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