Archive for December 2013

Thousands left without power across US and Canada

<p>LITCHFIELD, Maine (AP) - Utility crews from Maine to Michigan and into Canada worked Wednesday to restore power to the more than half a million homes in the U.S. and Canada that were left in the dark by last weekend's ice storm and people slowly trickled out of shelters to spend Christmas Day at their finally-warm homes.

But not everyone was so lucky, including Ashley Walter, who was forced to spend Christmas at a shelter set up in a school in Litchfield, Maine, with her husband, Jacob, and their month-old daughter, Leah.

The family lost power Saturday, got it back temporarily then lost it again Sunday and have been without since. Ashley, 27, and Leah stay warm at the shelter while Jacob makes frequent trips home to check on their cats and water pipes.

"It's definitely kind of strange but we're hanging in there," she said Wednesday of the challenge of being forced out of their home at Christmas. "We did our Christmas together last night. I packed little stockings and gave them to my husband, sisters and my daughter."

The frigid temperatures that cloaked a region from the Great Lakes to New England meant that ice remained on power lines and limbs. Officials worried that wind gusts of more than 20 mph could bring down more branches and that 2 to 6 inches of snow in places on Thursday would hamper line crews trying to get to remote spots.

"We've had two beautiful, sunny days in Maine and the ice isn't going anyplace," said Lynette Miller, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency. "They're very concerned about more weight coming down on trees that are already compromised by ice."

The ice storm last weekend was one of the worst to hit during a Christmas week and repair crews were working around the clock to restore service. States that weren't hit were sending crews to help.

So far, authorities blame the storm for 27 deaths; 17 in the U.S. and 10 in Canada. Five people in Canada died from carbon monoxide poisoning from emergency generators powering their homes, while two people in Michigan, a man in Maine and a man in Vermont also died from the poisonous fumes.

In Michigan, police say a 73-year-old woman died Christmas Eve when she ran a stop light that was out of service because of the ice storm.

About 156,000 homes were still without power Wednesday evening in Michigan, down from more than 500,000 at the storm's peak.

In Canada, about 160,000 customers were without power Wednesday evening. There were 72,000 customers without power in Toronto, down from 300,000 at the height of the outages, and Mayor Rob Ford said some may not have power restored until the weekend.

Back in Maine, Trudy Lamoreau was supervising the emergency shelter where about 25 people stayed Tuesday night. Lamoreau, who's also the town manager, said they warmed the shelter with generators until the school got power back late Tuesday night. Maine still had about 60,000 people without power, down from a high of 106,000.

"People are doing quite well considering the circumstances," she said.

Volunteers tried to make the shelter homey, including cooking up a ham dinner with potatoes, vegetables, bread and pie for dessert for Christmas.

"They have been amazing," Walter said, adding that the volunteers set up a separate room for her and Leah so they wouldn't disturb others when the infant woke during the night. "They just try to make everything better for us."

___

Associated Press writers David Goodman in Detroit and Rik Stevens in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Posted by Adam Edelstein

Keep the cursive in Christmas!

As soon as the last plate of Thanksgiving turkey was cleared from the table it seemed the holiday cards began to arrive in my mailbox. Call me a dinosaur, but I still love writing and receiving Christmas cards- and I am not talking about the electronic kind. Besides looking at the beautiful pictures and sparkly scenes on the cards, I thoroughly enjoy reading the little notes and greetings that my friends and family write inside. I often find myself admiring, in addition to their words, the writers' beautiful or unique cursive handwriting.

I've been a fan of the art of cursive handwriting for as long as I can remember. I guess the seed was planted back in Catholic grade school when "Handwriting" was taught as an actual subject and we received a grade for it on our report cards. I was never an excellent handwriter (my grades were usually somewhere in the 80s), but I would aspire to have handwriting like some of the others in my class who garnered 90s in handwriting on their report cards or even won the coveted "Penmanship Award" at the end of the school year (dare to dream!). In my sharp crazy memory, I can still remember who those stellar handwriters were.

Every September when we would get our new text books for the year, we would receive a brand new Penmanship book. Along with that, we would have to purchase a "Palmer Method" pen. The pen, which came in yellow, red, black or blue, had a large bump around its center where students would learn to hold their fingers, strategically placed, to produce beautiful writing. In the books, we students would trace different letters and then connect them before writing the same words ourselves freestyle on empty lines below. If we "didn't get it," and still wrote the words sloppily, we might have to take out a sheet of loose leaf paper and write a whole page or two of the words or letters we had trouble mastering that night for homework. I remember having trouble with the letters z, k and f and capitals Q and X. But I practiced to score those 80s!

Fast forward some years and I remember sitting with my own children, helping them master the same handwriting skills and praising them when they took extra care to write their homework assignments neatly. I remember they felt so "grown up" to finally be in a grade that required them to write like their parents and older siblings or cousins instead of printing like those in the younger grades do. So, keeping all this in mind, it would come as no surprise to find out how devastated I was when over 40 states decided not that long ago to drop teaching cursive writing from the required core curriculum and replace it with keyboarding. According to my understanding, it is now the individual school districts that decide if they do or don't want to teach cursive handwriting. In other words, teaching cursive handwriting has become an option.

I understand that computers are taking over everything and we can sign banking, real estate and all legal papers electronically these days. But what about when we scribble a signed absence or lateness note to our child's teacher? Sign a permission slip for a Scout's field trip? Sit in a doctor's office signing our life away before getting treatment? We have to do all of this on our computers in the future?

If children do not learn to write and read cursive handwriting, how will they read the original documents on which our country was founded (not a printed version) or any primary historical sources or diaries in museums or historical sites? What about a simple letter from grandmom or an uncle in the service? What if a computer goes down while important papers are being signed? Or will mail carriers of the future be required to learn Handwriting as a second language?

Getting taught handwriting is a discipline, a skill we keep for a lifetime. Some may say learning to recite poetry or mastering algebra or calculus problems won't actually be useful in the course of life, but all together, these things orchestrate a good, solid education. Once a student has these skills in their bag of tricks, their foundation, they can blossom in many other ways educationally and later, professionally. In addition to teaching eye-hand coordination, mastering handwriting shows refinement and the ability to communicate successfully in a global world with or without a computer keyboard. Of course mastering keyboarding is essential and a necessary skill, but why can't children be taught both, as they have been in the last ten years or more? If it isn't broke, why fix it?

Last week I covered a Christmas party that the Knights of Columbus hosted for Religious Sisters in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. After snapping some photos, I was going to get the names of the photo subjects, but the music was playing and it was noisy. Afraid I wouldn't hear well and misspell names, I passed my notepad and pen around and let the Sisters write their own names. When I was back at the office, writing my photo captions, one of the things I was struck by, was how lovely each and every one of the Sisters' handwriting was. I didn't have to wonder if a letter was an "o" or an "a" or a "v" or a "u." Their writing was Palmer Method Perfect.

"No wonder," I thought. "The Sisters are the ones who taught so many of us how to write clearly and neatly." A dying art? I don't think so. I like to think of it as the hallmark of a civilized, educated society. Although just about everything we do is generated through our computers, I do believe there's still a time and place for cursive. Call me old fashioned, but I believe we can still have the best of both worlds.

I know resources are tight and all kinds of programs, even art and music, are being cut from core curriculums in schools to meet budgets. I realize students use iPads and laptops instead of pens and notebooks. I try to stay with the times so I get all that. But I also get those 123 christmas cards, some that even have letters enclosed, in the mail. I can't help but think how intimate and personal they are when they have handwritten notes in them and how much I would miss that human touch if they were merely churned out by a computer printer. Continued...

I can visualize my brothers' and sisters' handwriting with closed eyes, as well as my husband's my children's, my parents', my friends' and even some of my co-workers'. As you know from people's signatures, our cursive handwriting is our own, unique to only us. I would hate to think that in one holiday season in the future that all of my cards will be waiting to be opened in e-mails on my computer instead of delivered to the mailbox on my front porch.

When I thought about this subject a week or so ago, I quickly polled by Facebook friends to hear their thoughts. Maybe we are all dinosaurs, but like me, not one person thought cutting cursive from core curriculum had any merit. Everyone agreed that children should still be taught cursive handwriting.

If we allow computer generated cards to replace the handwritten oldie but goodie snail-mail type, who knows, in years to come if we may have to enjoy a virtual Christmas tree, stockings hung on the computer screen with care and our grandchildren skyping with Santa rather than visiting him at the local mall or firehouse. Let's stop this tech slippery slope before it begins and refuse to let go of the human, personalized touch- keep the cursive in Christmas (and every season)!

Readers can e-mail Peg DeGrassa at pdegrassa@delconewsnetwork.com or write her c/o DCNN, 1914 Parker Ave., Holmes, PA 19043.

As soon as the last plate of Thanksgiving turkey was cleared from the table it seemed the holiday cards began to arrive in my mailbox. Call me a dinosaur, but I still love writing and receiving Christmas cards- and I am not talking about the electronic kind. Besides looking at the beautiful pictures and sparkly scenes on the cards, I thoroughly enjoy reading the little notes and greetings that my friends and family write inside. I often find myself admiring, in addition to their words, the writers' beautiful or unique cursive handwriting.

I've been a fan of the art of cursive handwriting for as long as I can remember. I guess the seed was planted back in Catholic grade school when "Handwriting" was taught as an actual subject and we received a grade for it on our report cards. I was never an excellent handwriter (my grades were usually somewhere in the 80s), but I would aspire to have handwriting like some of the others in my class who garnered 90s in handwriting on their report cards or even won the coveted "Penmanship Award" at the end of the school year (dare to dream!). In my sharp crazy memory, I can still remember who those stellar handwriters were.

Every September when we would get our new text books for the year, we would receive a brand new Penmanship book. Along with that, we would have to purchase a "Palmer Method" pen. The pen, which came in yellow, red, black or blue, had a large bump around its center where students would learn to hold their fingers, strategically placed, to produce beautiful writing. In the books, we students would trace different letters and then connect them before writing the same words ourselves freestyle on empty lines below. If we "didn't get it," and still wrote the words sloppily, we might have to take out a sheet of loose leaf paper and write a whole page or two of the words or letters we had trouble mastering that night for homework. I remember having trouble with the letters z, k and f and capitals Q and X. But I practiced to score those 80s!

Fast forward some years and I remember sitting with my own children, helping them master the same handwriting skills and praising them when they took extra care to write their homework assignments neatly. I remember they felt so "grown up" to finally be in a grade that required them to write like their parents and older siblings or cousins instead of printing like those in the younger grades do. So, keeping all this in mind, it would come as no surprise to find out how devastated I was when over 40 states decided not that long ago to drop teaching cursive writing from the required core curriculum and replace it with keyboarding. According to my understanding, it is now the individual school districts that decide if they do or don't want to teach cursive handwriting. In other words, teaching cursive handwriting has become an option.

I understand that computers are taking over everything and we can sign banking, real estate and all legal papers electronically these days. But what about when we scribble a signed absence or lateness note to our child's teacher? Sign a permission slip for a Scout's field trip? Sit in a doctor's office signing our life away before getting treatment? We have to do all of this on our computers in the future?

If children do not learn to write and read cursive handwriting, how will they read the original documents on which our country was founded (not a printed version) or any primary historical sources or diaries in museums or historical sites? What about a simple letter from grandmom or an uncle in the service? What if a computer goes down while important papers are being signed? Or will mail carriers of the future be required to learn Handwriting as a second language?

Getting taught handwriting is a discipline, a skill we keep for a lifetime. Some may say learning to recite poetry or mastering algebra or calculus problems won't actually be useful in the course of life, but all together, these things orchestrate a good, solid education. Once a student has these skills in their bag of tricks, their foundation, they can blossom in many other ways educationally and later, professionally. In addition to teaching eye-hand coordination, mastering handwriting shows refinement and the ability to communicate successfully in a global world with or without a computer keyboard. Of course mastering keyboarding is essential and a necessary skill, but why can't children be taught both, as they have been in the last ten years or more? If it isn't broke, why fix it?

Last week I covered a Christmas party that the Knights of Columbus hosted for Religious Sisters in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. After snapping some photos, I was going to get the names of the photo subjects, but the music was playing and it was noisy. Afraid I wouldn't hear well and misspell names, I passed my notepad and pen around and let the Sisters write their own names. When I was back at the office, writing my photo captions, one of the things I was struck by, was how lovely each and every one of the Sisters' handwriting was. I didn't have to wonder if a letter was an "o" or an "a" or a "v" or a "u." Their writing was Palmer Method Perfect.

"No wonder," I thought. "The Sisters are the ones who taught so many of us how to write clearly and neatly." A dying art? I don't think so. I like to think of it as the hallmark of a civilized, educated society. Although just about everything we do is generated through our computers, I do believe there's still a time and place for cursive. Call me old fashioned, but I believe we can still have the best of both worlds.

I know resources are tight and all kinds of programs, even art and music, are being cut from core curriculums in schools to meet budgets. I realize students use iPads and laptops instead of pens and notebooks. I try to stay with the times so I get all that. But I also get those beautiful Christmas cards, some that even have letters enclosed, in the mail. I can't help but think how intimate and personal they are when they have handwritten notes in them and how much I would miss that human touch if they were merely churned out by a computer printer.

I can visualize my brothers' and sisters' handwriting with closed eyes, as well as my husband's my children's, my parents', my friends' and even some of my co-workers'. As you know from people's signatures, our cursive handwriting is our own, unique to only us. I would hate to think that in one holiday season in the future that all of my cards will be waiting to be opened in e-mails on my computer instead of delivered to the mailbox on my front porch.

When I thought about this subject a week or so ago, I quickly polled by Facebook friends to hear their thoughts. Maybe we are all dinosaurs, but like me, not one person thought cutting cursive from core curriculum had any merit. Everyone agreed that children should still be taught cursive handwriting.

If we allow computer generated cards to replace the handwritten oldie but goodie snail-mail type, who knows, in years to come if we may have to enjoy a virtual Christmas tree, stockings hung on the computer screen with care and our grandchildren skyping with Santa rather than visiting him at the local mall or firehouse. Let's stop this tech slippery slope before it begins and refuse to let go of the human, personalized touch- keep the cursive in Christmas (and every season)!

Readers can e-mail Peg DeGrassa at pdegrassa@delconewsnetwork.com or write her c/o DCNN, 1914 Parker Ave., Holmes, PA 19043.

Saturday, December 14, 2013
Posted by Adam Edelstein

Victor Cruz Says Jay Z Just Getting Started With Huge Robinson Cano Deal

(AllHipHop News) "Scott Boras, you over baby. robinson cano jay z Cano you coming with me. These n***as like rotary phones. It's a new day. Hit up KD," rapped Jay Z on the Magna Carta Holy Grail track "Crown." Jay was essentially telling established sports agent Scott Boras and the rest of the world that his new Roc Nation Sports agency was going to be major force whether they liked it or not.

[ALSO READ: Jay Z Ranks His Own Catalogue From Best To Worst Albums]

While there were many critics who believed that the Brooklyn mogul could not effectively make the transition from music to athletics, the recent 10-year/$240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners Jay secured for Cano seems to be proving the naysayers wrong for the moment. Another one of Roc Nation's athletes expressed his view that the third largest contract in baseball history was just the beginning for Jay and Roc Nation.

"It's just a stepping stone," said New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz. "It's a true testament to the way [Jay Z] does his business, and the way he goes about it - the right way."

Roc Nation/CAA is now home to Cano, Cruz, NBA superstar Kevin Durant, New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, and WNBA player Skylar Diggins. On the music side, there is talk that Jay is about to add L.A. rapper Nipsey Hussle to the Roc Nation roster after recently signing separate deals with Young Jeezy's CTE imprint and producer DJ Mustard.

[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE Hip-Hop Rumor: Guess Who Is Joining Roc Nation?]
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Posted by Adam Edelstein

'Howl-iday' activities

The aspca christmas cards lab, face sprinkled with sugar-like white, lay quietly in his kennel. His struggle to stand and walk didn't go unnoticed. Staff at the Casper Humane Society (CHS) estimated the dog's age to be between 11 and 13. They waited for his owner to come looking for him. Henry, as the staff later called him, came in as a stray. But no one claimed him. Henry's sweet, gentle spirit touched the hearts of both CHS staff and volunteers. His physical pain was evident, but his friendly, gentle demeanor didn't waver. Henry was given treatment for the arthritis captivating his body as his temporary caregivers waited for a new family to adopt him.

Nearly two months passed. On Nov. 3, Henry received not just a new human family, but a whole new life, sharing a country home with people, four other dogs, and a few horses. A member of his adoptive family posted on Facebook: "He is kind and loving and just grateful to be here with us ... He is a treasure - a gift." It was a story celebrated on the CHS Facebook page.

"Henry's story was seen by more people than any other Facebook posting - 10,944 in fact - more than any other animal since I've been here," said Angela Letz, CHS shelter director. "His [adoption] story had 617 likes and 57 comments. It was incredible!"

Adoption stories have transpired for the CHS for nearly 60 years. The organization started in 1956, according to CHS Board President Sally Adams-Reinhart. The history and positive stories continue because the community supports the organization.

The CHS receives no city, county, state or federal funds; it relies on the generosity and care of Casper's citizens and also works with other organizations in the community. For example, the Hector Foundation awarded money to the CHS to help purchase sliders for the Bunkhouse, a building addition that still awaits completion in order to house more dogs and cats.

"We still need fencing and sliders," Reinhart stated, "and we're still short of funds to complete the project."

Community members will have an opportunity to help support the CHS during a few upcoming events. On Saturday, Dec. 7, Grant Street Grocery will host "Happy Howl-iday," a wine and cheese tasting featuring four or five different wines and cheeses. Various vendors will be on hand selling wares with part of the proceeds being donated to the CHS. The event runs from 12-4 p.m. and features handcrafted jewelry and at least one author with inspirational dog books. Tickets for several raffle items also will be sold, said Reinhart. Those items include a $500 meat package from Grant Street Grocery, a $100 VISA gift card, a custom-made dog bed, a bottle of Wyoming Whiskey, and a home visit from Santa Claus.

"All proceeds from the raffle go to the Humane Society, and vendors will give some sale proceeds back to us," she said.

Twelve different raffle items are available. Drawings will be held weekly through Dec. 20, the final day of the raffle, Reinhart added.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, Pet Photos with Santa takes place at Market Square in downtown Casper. From 10 a.m.-2 p.m., people can get photos of their pets taken with Santa Claus; a portion of the photographer's $10 sitting fee will go to the CHS, Reinhart said. This event is held in conjunction with Tails of the City, a pet supply store in Market Square, which will be hosting an open house.

The CHS's annual Giving Tree began Nov. 29. A decorated Christmas tree provides tags by which potential donors can give a variety of supplies, meeting many of the shelter's needs, Reinhart explained. Items such as cleaning supplies, paper goods and pet food are daily requirements, and community members can help the shelter help the animals in its care by donating these items.

"We especially need Purina Cat Chow," said Reinhart. "We've got so many cats; we go through it like crazy."

The Giving Tree, located in center court at Eastridge Mall, will be up until Christmas Eve.

Pictures and descriptions of some of the adoptable pets will be available at the events, and at times on weekends some of the available dogs will make an appearance at the Giving Tree, Reinhart said.

One of the dogs hoping to find a home during this holiday season is Snipe, a 9-year-old male Pointer mix. Like Henry, Snipe suffers from arthritis, but his friendly personality doesn't waver as this older boy awaits his forever home. Perhaps, like Henry, Snipe will receive that special gift of a new, loving family so he, too, could have a "Happy Howl-iday."

To learn more about the upcoming events or the pets available for adoption, call the CHS at 265-5439 or go to www.chswyo.org.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Posted by Adam Edelstein

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