Home › Monthly Archives › January 2012

Great City Project

I like it when I hear about projects aimed at improving the quality of life for the people of Harrisburg.  And it seems like – despite the problems the city encounters – there are many projects that develop with this aim in mind.  For example I just read that plans were approved for the Susquehanna Art Museum as long as people in the city share in employment opportunities.  This is great news, especially since the project is expected to be priced at $5.5m, so that will really provide jobs for people in our city.

So basically what is going to be happening is that all contractors working on the museum project will have to employ a certified compliance officer to make sure city residents and contractors are given some of the jobs.  I’m not looking for a job right now, but you never know; there is never 100% job security in any position, so it’s always good to know that there are more jobs being created in the city.

And of course, once jobs are created, the economy will improve and hopefully that will result in happier people, lowered crime rates and a better quality of life.  Well, at least in an ideal world!


Harrisburg’s Finances Getting into Shape?

It seems that there has (finally in my opinion) been an attempt on the part of my city to finally fix up its disastrous finances.  Harrisburg recently hired John Campbell, allegedly a 23-year-old financial whiz, to sort things out, earlier this month. I’m just hoping for one thing right now, that improved finances will lead to more services – or resumed services, like the reopening of the Post Office – for us Harrisburg residents.

I was a little concerned when I learned that the guy is still in school though. He is studying for a double bachelor’s in business admin and economics though, so let’s hope he’s a top-rate student.  That made me realize just how young he is…or, just how old I am!

Apart from my small little gripes (like the Post Office), crime is on the increase in Harrisburg and there just isn’t much money around for basic street repairs, so clearly things have to change. It just remains to be seen if Campbell is up for the task, having supported the city’s bankruptcy claim. Mind you, I’m not sure what other choice he had. I sure don’t know what I would have done; not that I’m a financial whizz.

At least the man is enthusiastic and positive; Harrisburg certainly could do with an injection of that right now. Let’s just wait and see.

Whoa! A Chocoholic’s Dream

You won’t believe what’s happening today…right here in Harrisburg!  It’s the 17th Annual Chocolatefest!  Now first, that means this event happens every year (I’ve only been here 8 months so I wouldn’t know) and second, it’s chocolate and lots of it!!!!  And I am such a chocoholic so it truly is a thrill for me.

I can get there in 10 minutes by car; it’s going to be at the Great American Hall (at Hershey Lodge), organized by Keystone Human Services.

There’s going to be tons of chocolate (of course), wine, champagne and lots of appetizers.  As well there will be a cake competition – hope I get to try some of the entries.  It’s a little pricey to get in – $50 – but Dani said she really wanted to go so I’m going to treat us both.

It actually started today but Dani was busy so I was fine with that. And it’s going to be a black tie event so I have to hire a tux!  So it’s not exactly going to be a cheap night out but I’m looking forward to it.  I’m also looking forward to seeing Dani in a cute little black dress…perhaps even more so than the event itself!

Wow all of my fantasies in one:  wine, chocolate and a lovely lady by my side. Things really are looking up thank God.

AirTran Airways Bids Farewell to Harrisburg

Of course, it doesn’t really affect me because it’s not like I’m a business traveler or anything. But the news that AirTran Airways is going to stop flying to and from Harrisburg airport, will be affecting my parents who try to come twice a year from Florida.  This is exactly the route that is being ceased.  The reason that has been given was “significantly higher fuel costs,” which didn’t surprise me but still irritated me.  I don’t know what my parents will do now.  As it is it is getting harder for them to travel due to the fact that they are aging.

But at least it’s not going to go into affect until the middle of August.  So we have a few months still.  And they were planning on coming in June next so we have that one covered.  After that we’ll just have to see.  No point in worrying about it now.

Where Shall We Go Tonight?

So Dani and I are meant to be getting together for dinner tonight. Only problem is, I just found out that Harrisburg hasn’t had an official restaurant health inspector in more than 6 months!  I didn’t know that until  now and was shocked to read about it.  Now I’m really nervous about going back to any of the restaurants we’ve been to in Harrisburg in the past.

Apparently it’s all to do with budgeting.  But there is a promise that the city will be getting a health inspector back. Currently around half of our 400 restaurants haven’t been getting a health inspection. No-one wants the job and, what’s even worse, Harrisburg City Council didn’t even budget for the vacancy for 2012!  Although there are promises it will.

It’s not all that bad though.  There have been some inspections apparently. Harrisburg code director Dave Patton has covered inspections since Heather Kreeger, who was paid $42,000 annually in the position, resigned to take another job last June. But Patton said he has only been able to inspect restaurants when he has had free time, which is why the city has encountered a backlog.

So I started thinking about where to go tonight and decided we should go back to the FireHouse Restaurant and Bar. Apparently the owner there, Donny Brown, said anyway that “health inspectors only come once or twice per year. If a place is not maintaining good safety standards, a customer is going to know it before any inspector,” That put my mind at ease a bit but I’m sure I’ll be scouring the place for signs of hygiene issues.

Kids Missing Snow

Despite the fact that I felt like the boys and I had all had a fun weekend, when they got back to their mom, they discovered they’d missed the snow.  In Beaver Falls (where they live most of the time), there was snow on Saturday.  My kids LOVE the snow. I mean, I know that kids generally love snow but my kids are just crazy about.  So it kind of put a damper on the time they spent with me as they weren’t happy they’d missed it by being with me. Of course, their mother wasn’t too pleased either because it didn’t make for top driving conditions; indeed, in western Pennsylvania traffic accidents shut down Interstate 70 and Interstate 279 South lanes.  The city thus got up to 7 inches of snow!

But, alas, by the time they got home, it was all gone.  There were just some light showers left which didn’t make anyone happy.  So of course they blame me. And that obviously makes my ex happy.  Still, I’m trying to tell myself that kids will be kids and they’re just a bit frustrated for now and by the time I see them again they’ll be over it.  Here’s hoping.

Farm Show Freebie Fun

The kids were with me over the weekend which is always a little bittersweet.  I mean, of course I look forward to seeing them, but I usually get a bit stressed before they come as I worry if they are going to have a good time and what kind of mood they will be in.  And then I get sad as Sunday night approaches and I know it’ll soon be time for them to leave.  Still, we had the Farm Show at least to look forward to so I had a planned activity with them.

The show was incredibly kid-oriented. First, there was a guy running around with a bag of goodies and freebies for everyone – that sure put a smile on all my kids’ faces.  If you’re a bargain-hunter (which I’m not) you can really find a ton of great stuff.  Zach picked up a funky Superman ruler so he was happy.

Once we got home, the kids were comparing all the free stuff they got which kept them busy for ages.  Then it was time for pizza!  We ordered two large pies from Mama’s Pizza and then set down to watch a movie that, surprisingly, we actually all enjoyed – Home Alone 2.  So, all in all it was a fun weekend which went down very smoothly; I was incredibly grateful for that.  Now I just have to see how I can amuse myself tonight so that I don’t wallow in my sadness that they’ve left.

The Harrisburg Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial


So I just heard from an ex-colleague that a couple of days ago it was the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  In commemoration of this event, there was a breakfast with a full program at the Harris-Pruett Building.  I wasn’t able to participate but Derek – my ex-colleague who is currently out of work – went and he said it was really good.


This year’s theme was “With Faith We Are Going to Make It,” which Derek said was incredibly inspirational.  I guess the fact that they provided a yummy fry-up breakfast wasn’t too bad either.  Although, truthfully, I thought the city was meant to be focusing on healthy eating and exercise in its “Race to the Moon” program that I mentioned last week.  So when I heard what he ate – bacon, sausages, eggs, biscuits and gravy with some fruit (which seemed to me like a bit of a token gesture rather than anything else) – I was a bit perturbed.


Still, I’m glad the event was so successful and that Derek was inspired. But, while he might have left with food-for-thought he probably also exited the event with a few more clogged arteries!  Come on Harrisburg, let’s get back on target with healthy eating and good workouts.


Harrisburg Hiking with Dani

Since Dani and I have now been on quite a few dates, I figured it might be time to do the hiking date.  It was suggested to me by my other friends who are dating, that hiking should be reserved for at least the fourth date as it could get a little intimate. So I figured – since Dani told me I’m her boyfriend – the timing was perfect.

We went to Bridal Veil Falls State Park.  It was my choice.  I have learned how important it is that I take initiative and so I’m trying to arrange as many of our dates as possible.  Dani seems to like that too.  So I packed us a nice picnic (one of the things Joanne and I never used when we were married was a lovely picnic hamper) and off we went.

It was absolutely stunning. There’s a lovely waterfall and a great view of the Columbia River that we took in before we set out on the hike.  We both decided we wanted to do a bit of a walk since that was really what this was all about – getting in some fresh air and exercise.  There were a few rocky spots along the way but that enabled me to hold Dani’s hand – she put it out for me – and I feel that created some intimacy that, so far, has been somewhat amiss in our romance.

Once we had walked a while and seen what we wanted to see, we sat down and started on the picnic.  When I had picked up Dani she said she had put something else into the hamper for me, and to my delight, it was a lovely chilled bottle of one of my favorite white wines – perfect for our picnic, hiking day out.

Harrisburg Opera

Last night my girlfriend – yes the lady I’ve been seeing for the past few weeks informed me of our new titles for each other – went to hear the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra.  By the way, I don’t think I mentioned this in my previous post, but her name is Danielle, Dani for short.    Anyway she was telling me all about it and I realized that if I want to keep this relationship going then I’ll have to boost my culture a little to keep her impressed.

So the star of the opera was a woman called Di Wu who played Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concert through her very own interpretation.  Dani told me she loved it.   Apparently this has been played over and over again since it was first created 144 years ago, but Di Wu had something outstanding to add.  It was said that she didn’t play the piece, but she “flow[ed] through it.”  Dani said it was a real treat and she would have loved me to have been there.

Well, that of course made me happy – the part about her wanting me to be there – but I was a bit concerned about how much she seems to know about opera and how many gaps there are in my culture knowledge.  Still, I guess I can try to show enthusiasm and then see where that goes.  As long as I show an interest in my “girlfriend’s” hobbies that should be enough.  At least, I hope it is.