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Don’t Spoil Halloween

halloween-candyI’m all for dental hygiene and keeping my kids healthy and safe and all that, but I still want them to enjoy Halloween as much as the next person. That’s why I actually really respected what the Pennsylvania Dental Association did this year connected to Halloween.

Rather than issue some boring educational video on how bad candies are for you, the Dental Association encouraged kids to participate in the Halloween Candy Buyback Program. It’s really cool actually. The way it works is that the dentists hold an event at which they can purchase any Halloween candy a kid got that they didn’t open. They give the kid either: cash, coupons, toothbrushes or other goody bags.

And don’t worry; it’s not like they are keeping the candy for themselves or their kids. Once they’ve collected it all it gets sent to Operation Gratitude which is a Californian non-profit that thereafter ships it all out to soldiers’ and troops overseas.

So it seems that even when you’re big (a soldier) you can still enjoy Halloween thanks to this initiative by the Pennsylvania Dental Association!

Rabbi Tully Bryks on How to Find Your Soulmate

soulmatesSo the search is on again.  I just got dumped.  And I’m tired.  I really want to find my soulmate already.  Enough of just dating, or being married and then divorced.  I want to find THE ONE.

So rather than just go to my local bar, or sign up for a dating website, I thought I’d do some research into what “experts” have to say about how to find one’s soulmate.  During my research I found that Rabbi Tully Bryks had something interesting to say.  Now I’m not Jewish or anything but I figure if someone has some sound advice, who cares what religion they are from?

According to him, “one of the many beautiful Jewish concepts is the idea of a soul mate. Forty days before a baby is born, a proclamation in heaven declares the ideal future soul mate for that baby’s soul. When G-d created the first person, the verse says, ‘G-d created ‘Adam’ in His image, male and female He created them.’ The definition of the Hebrew word “Adam” is person. A careful reading of the text indicates that this 1st person was some sort of hermaphrodite. G-d then took from the rib of this dual-gender being and created two separate genders.”

Not wanting to confine myself to Jews’ opinion of soulmates, I then moved over to research the Buddhist attitude.  While Buddhism in and of itself does not promote soulmates (being a proponent instead of monasticism), there are still four areas one keen on finding their soulmates, should focus on.  According to an article by Tara Springett, these are: commitment to love and grow in love; law of an even deal(for satisfaction amongst both partners, they need to equally give and take); harmonious energies (romance) the intimate relationship.

Then there is the Christian approach.  Like Judaism, it takes a Biblical approach, quoting Genesis 2: 19: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” From the beginning, God designed the concept of companionship and created a picture of partnership in the first relationship between Adam and Eve, which is further evidenced throughout Scripture in the lives of Abraham and Sarah; and Mary and Joseph; and many others.”  True believing Christians also believe that they should trust God to find their soulmate.

I like that idea.  I like the idea of putting trust in a higher being (rather than a website!)  But I do believe I need to do a bit of work too and not just wait for God to rescue me.

So I may take a leaf out of Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity’s book – why not use all three – and see if that way, I can somehow find my soulmate quickly and smoothly.  Why not try religion? So far nothing else has worked!

City Kindness in Disasters

It was pretty dire when the tornado hit our city a few months ago.  Thankfully, although the boys and I heard the turmoil, we weren’t directly affected in any other way.  But I had work colleagues who lost their homes and our office took a pretty damaging hit as well, forcing all staff to work from home until the repairs were complete and the building declared safe-to-work in again.

But that’s old news.  I vaguely remember hearing at the time that there were a lot of individuals and groups banding together to try to help, with money and time.  But I pretty much figured that it would only last momentarily as these things usually do.  Once the initial shock and noise dies down, people usually get back to their day-to-day lives and those who are impacted by the disaster somehow need to work out how to get back to their lives too, although it’s usually nearly-impossible.

So that’s why I was so happy to learn that donations are still flowing in via various groups which are trying to help Harrisburg’s clean-up and recovery effort.  And thank G-d really, is what I say.  According to secretary of the Alton-Godfrey Kiwanis Club, Diane Horning, there are still “dozens upon dozens of homes with temporary tarp roofs.”  In addition, she is concerned that not all the homes which were totally destroyed will be rebuilt, at all.

But clearly Horning is doing her bit.  Her Kiwanis Club is one of around 20 of the groups which are raising funds to help put Harrisburg back together again.  But rather than just practical help (which of course is very much needed), what she’s doing now is really cute, and I think helps those people dealing with this kind of mass destruction, take their mind off it for a while.  Her Club planned a pancake breakfast, the proceeds of which will go towards the Harrisburg recovery project.  Now that’s cool.  And it’s thoughtful.  At least, this kind of news makes me proud to be a Harrisburg resident.  In the face of disaster, kindness is shown.

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.

Taking in Some Culture

And Perhaps Giving Something Back?

Yesterday morning as I was reading the Harrisburg Magazine, I was considering what to do with the rest of my weekend.  Friday and Saturday had been good but I didn’t welcome the idea of just sitting around in my lonely apartment the night before heading back to work with a microwave meal for one.  So I decided to check out one of the museums I keep reading about in Harrisburg.

I took the plunge, didn’t procrastinate, got up and found myself at The State Museum of Pennsylvania so that I could find out a bit more about the entire state of Pennsylvania and its heritage.  Truthfully I don’t think I’d ever studied this subject – our American history lessons back in school weren’t exactly memorable – so since having been given all this extra time on my hands, it’s the perfect opportunity.

I was shocked that I found it pretty interesting!  I’d never exactly been the best History student at school but there you have it; perhaps a leopard can change its spots.  I saw some cool exhibits spanning geologic time all the way to the Native American experience, revolutionary beginnings and more. I also got a lot more information on the Civil War battleground via the industrial age, which I don’t think I knew anything at all about before.  It seemed to be that the museum is insinuating that “Pennsylvania’s story is America’s story,” so that made me feel like a pretty proud Pennsylvanian.

After my tour, I looked around some more and considered the possibility of – on those all too lonely long weekends – volunteering as part of the State Museum’s Volunteer Corps.  I could get to know a lot more about American history (and pass that onto my kids) and feel good about actually doing something for my new community.  I’ve not volunteered in years; this could be just what my self-esteem needs after the divorce.

So I asked around and it seems I have four options: I could get involved with educational programs and tours (that would require a fair amount of training); work on the events and hospitality sector (I can’t really see that being my thing) find out more about special projects (a possibility) or work in the State Museum Store (I think that appeals the most).  So it’s definitely something I intend to look into.  Anyway hope your first day back at the work week starts off on a positive spin.

Great Art Possibilities in Schools

It’s only ever really been my oldest kid – Matthew, who is now 11 – who has ever taken any real interest in art. So Joanne and I were delighted when we heard about the extra capital being injected into the art program at the Downey School where he attends.  In fact, it’s probably one of the first things we’ve agreed on in months!

His art teacher – Shannon Lippy – just received $400 worth of sketchbooks that he believes might begin to reveal some of their hidden talents.  Just last week he actually WANTED to go to school (he had art that day) and I don’t recall any of my kids ever actually being enthusiastic in the mornings.  The teacher is encouraging the kids to really create something on their own and I know that has to be good for self-esteem building.  So this teacher is purchasing 200 sketchbooks for his grade, seventh and eighth grade.  The money came from the Harrisburg Schools Foundation; it’d be great if we see more such incentives in other creative endeavors like those in the realm of physical education, such as judo or martial arts. It’s a great way for boys to get out their frustrations in a positive way and I’m always up for that kind of thing.


Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

Harrisburg Education Takes Financial Responsibility Seriously

Throughout America, there is a serious college debt issue.  Indeed, recent figures show that the nationwide debt is approaching $1 trillion.  As well, it seems that now, higher education is also going fueling this educational financial crisis. But in Harrisburg, the city does not appear to be falling into that same trap.  Indeed, the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (HU) seems to be going in quite the opposite direction which will enable all those in the finance sector of the city to breathe a sigh of relief, especially given Harrisburg’s other monetary issues as of late.

Next month, the school will be marking the founding of its decade anniversary.  Last month, Jeff Selingo (from The Chronicle of Higher Education), mentioned the institute in a series on those bodies that “defy stale, burdensome academic traditions.”  What HU should be proud of, is how it has really focused on its academic and educational core, rather than getting side-tracked by all the extra-curricular activities that ultimately seem to lead educational institutes into debt.  It did this through a few different measures such as: getting rid of tenure, academic departments, dorming options and sporting teams; and encouraging corporate involvement as a money-saving educational-focused effort.  Through this, the HU has been successful in focusing on its education and “fulfill[ing] its mission as an economic driver in the heart of Harrisburg.”

Veteran’s Day in Harrisburg

Last week the American Legion descended on Harrisburg in commemoration of Veteran’s Day.  A short event – that lasted approximately 10 minutes – was held in the city for the fallen soldiers.  It especially commemorated the soldiers who had fought during the war from Harrisburg.

Teresa Bartimus-Pankey (a.k.a. ‘Mama T.’) sang the National Anthem at the event.  Thereafter the Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all in attendance, led by one of the many Boy Scouts who graced the event.  Next came a prayer recited by all, and that was followed by a short, moving speech presented by the Rev. Lambert, Albert Parlich.  He thanked all those who had served and were serving in the military.  The ceremony ended with a free spaghetti lunch that was held at the legion.

Harrisburg: Less Construction, Less Elevators?

When construction is down, what are those in the elevator business meant to do to protect their income?  Clearly if no-one is building (as seem to be the case recently in the city of Harrisburg), no-one is going to be needing the service of an elevator company.  Well, that was the fear of an elevator company working in the city of Harrisburg amongst other place.  But Kone Corp decided to get savvy and creative and came up with the idea of purchasing the elevator maintenance and service companies dotted around the nation that work with close to a million elevators!

Good for Kone Corp.  The Finland-based company recently announced that it had bought Quality Elevator Sales & Service Inc., of Pennsauken.  According to the company, this recent purchase will “solidify” the company’s business presence in the Harrisburg and Philadelphia areas.  The new company acquisition marks Kone Corp’s second acquisition in the Philadelphia area; its first being FairWay Elevator Inc., which has 45 employees.

Insane Growth of Harrisburg School District

It seems that there just isn’t enough room for all the Harrisburg kids to get an education as the situation stands right now.  The schools are literally bursting at the seams in Harrisburg and its middle and elementary school are really close to full capacity; hence they won’t have any room for expansion. As would be expected in such a situation, monies are needed once more.  In fact, the district is now asking its electorate to say “yes” to a $38 million bond.

As Rich Schneider, the school principal for the city’s Middle School pointed noted that once capacity is reached, either portables will have to be used or add-ons, both of which require finances.  According to Jim Holbeck, the city’s Superintendent, there is even the thought of bussing kids between schools but this would only “be a one-year fix and then we’ll be right back at the same place.”  Thus, as he concluded, “There’s no good plan B.”

It’s good news for Harrisburg of course, on the one hand, that the city is expanding so much as this suggests it’s a good place to live and especially to raise kids since so many of the people have school-age kids.  But clearly it’s a problem that warrants a solution, and, as in most of these instances, finances are needed and cue to Harrisburg’s recent flooding issues, not something that is so readily available.