The Black Friday experience December 6, 2013

UWW students share seasonal spirit with soldiers November 21, 2013

Jobs delivers inspiring commencement speech at Stanford October 21, 2013

Steve Jobs revealed his three secrets to getting through life to Stanford graduates in his commencement speech today.

The Apple CEO told students that it’s important to learn from every experience. He also emphasized the importance of finding a job they love and living every day to its full potential.

Jobs learned the importance of connecting his past experiences to his future ones while he was in college.

Jobs was a student at Reed College, a expensive and prestigious school in Oregon. He dropped out of college and continued to take classes for fun. He slept on his friends’ floors and collected soda cans for money.

One of the courses Jobs took for fun was calligraphy. It was completely unrelated to any of his other interests.

Ten years later, Jobs utilized his calligraphy knowledge to create typography for Mac computers. He realized that his experiences at Reed College had instilled a love of beautiful fonts that he would not have gained if he hadn’t dropped out.

“It was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college,” Jobs said. “But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later.”

Jobs told Stanford graduates that taking chances is risky and the results don’t come right away. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.

“Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference.”

The computer visionary also placed special importance on learning from all experiences, whether good or bad.

In 1998, Apple Computer Inc. hired PepsiCo CEO John Sculley. Jobs and Sculley’s different approaches to running the company led to clashing egos.

Jobs attempted to get Sculley fired from Apple Computer Inc.  His plan backfired and Jobs was fired instead.

Getting fired seemed like a negative consequence, but it allowed many successes for Jobs. He continued to explore the field he loved until his passions were fruitful.

Jobs said the period after he got fired was the most creative period of his life. During that time, he created the NeXT computer and produced Toy Story with Pixar Animation Studios.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do,” Jobs said. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Jobs’ final piece of advice was to live every day to its fullest. He said that being unhappy is a sign that something needs to change.

A few years ago, Jobs had a scare with pancreatic cancer. He was told to get his affairs in order and say his goodbyes. His doctor was able to cure him due to the rare type of cancer he had. It was a sobering reminder for Jobs and he takes it into his daily life.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

Jobs’ speech received a standing ovation from Stanford graduates and their families.

Burlington coffee house serves up talent October 13, 2013

A group of people huddles around a sign-up sheet, bouncing with nervous energy. For some, this is a new practice. For others, it will become tradition.

*Open Mic Night is held every Thursday night at 6:30 at The Coffee House at Chestnut & Pine, 492 N. Pine St in Burlington.

Susan Rubach began the Open Mic Night tradition a little more than a year ago.

Rubach said it was a good way to get exposure for local musicians and the coffee house. In just a year, Thursdays have gone from a handful of people to dozens.

Open Mic Night brings in as many as 25 musicians and groups every Thursday.  Rubach said the audience is usually around 50 people, musicians included.

Musicians are provided with a free beverage of their choice. The coffee house serves wine, beer and coffee-based drinks.

The musicians play 2 songs each, but they may play more on a slow night. At the end, the musicians all jam together.

“It’s been a very cool experience, “ Rubach said. “The musicians have made new friends and new bands have formed because of that.”

Rubach recruited Eric Erickson to perform and emcee during Open Mic Night. Erickson performs acoustic folk rock on the guitar, piano and banjo.

“I have always had music in me ever since I was born,” Erickson said. “I hear music everywhere, but I’ve never had a place like this to be able to consistently-along with so many others-get it out once a week and play.”

Erickson said Open Mic Night is a safe place for new performers to get comfortable with an audience. Many first-time performers become regulars.

A great audience keeps the musicians coming back.

“I played professionally for 8 years and having a place where the audience is cohesive to where you can play off of their emotions and relate to them is a rare thing and this place has it.”

Kellen Caldwell has been a regular performer at the coffee house since last November.

Caldwell plays the ukulele, piano and guitar. He returns to the coffee house every Thursday for the laid-back atmosphere.

“The crowd is very receptive to pretty much every kind of music,” Caldwell said. “We’ve had everything, acoustic to classical. We’ve even had rappers once or twice… We see a lot of people grow significantly as artists when they’re here.”

Open Mic Night is available to anyone with an interest in performing or listening to music. Musician sign-up starts at 6 p.m. and performances are 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m.

Podunk mayor victim of texting and driving October 9, 2013

Mayor Louis Brandeis was the victim of texting and driving car accident Thursday on the 300 block of North Main Street.

Police Chief Maryann Magarian said Justin J. Scalia, 19, entered oncoming traffic and collided with Brandeis’s vehicle. The mayor’s car spun once and entered the sidewalk, hitting the front of Henderson’s Hardware Store. No one on the sidewalk or in the store was injured.

Brandeis was bleeding from a cut to the face and told police officers he thought his leg was broken. He was taken to Podunk General Hospital.

Magarian said the mayor’s condition is not life threatening and he is expected to recover. Scalia said he was unhurt and refused treatment.

Police officers recovered a smartphone from the passenger-side floor of Scalia’s automobile. Analysis of the phone showed Scalia had been texting at the time of the collision.

When questioned by police officers, Scalia admitted that he was distracted while sending a text message.

“I have been in contact with John Jacobson, the District Attorney, who confirms that Mr. Scalia will be charged with inattentive driving,” Magarian said. “More serious charges, such as causing bodily harm by negligent use of a motor vehicle, are possible.”

At 7:30 p.m. nursing supervisor Anna Bechstein said Brandeis had surgery to repair a broken right knee and is resting comfortably at the hospital. His right leg is in a cast, and he will need to walk with crutches. The mayor is expected to leave the hospital Friday morning.

“This should send a message to everyone: don’t text and drive,” Magarian said.  “If used improperly, that little phone can be a deadly weapon.”

Scalia was placed under arrest and taken to Podunk County Jail, where he was booked and fingerprinted. A relative posted $500 bail and Scalia was freed at 5:47 p.m. He will report to the Podunk County Courthouse Friday morning.

New budget would cut police and raise taxes October 5, 2013

Budget Changes

Mayor Petykiewicz proposed a budget Monday that would reduce the police force, cut garbage collection and increase taxes.

There is “pain for everyone in this budget,” said Petykiewicz.

The budget cuts are a response to the loss of a furnace at Susquehanna Steel Corporation. Six hundred Kittatinny residents were left unemployed after the furnace was decommissioned.

More than $100,000 would be cut from the budge for police wages. The police force would be reduced from 10 officers to 8.

Police Chief Roman Hruska said that the officers would be fired in the order they were hired. The cost of keeping a full-time officer with benefits is about $70,000.

Kittatinny officers would no longer staff the slowest shift of the day. Schuylkill County sheriff’s deputies would handle emergency calls from 4 a.m. to noon on a contract basis.

“I cannot stand idly by and watch city be deprived of regular police protection for one-third of each day,” Hruska said.

Hruska said the Schuylkill deputies would do the best they could, but they already have a job protecting Schuylkill County. He also said that the response time would likely increase.  Petykiewicz said he was unsure how much slower response times would be.

Bjarne Westhoff, president of the local police union, echoed Hruska’s feelings. Westhoff said that he feared the Kittatinny Police would end up doing two jobs at once. Westhoff said that the police could end up with paperwork and booking to do from the previous shift. He feared the system would be less efficient for the people as well as the officers.

The budget also proposed a tax increase of 4.3 mills instead of 4. The increase means that for every $100,000 in property value, an extra $30 would be owed yearly.

Petykiewicz said that the increase not serious, and he understands that people will only accept so much taxing.

Garbage collection would also be removed from the tax levy in Petykiewicz’s budget.

The city is in negotiations with Tioga Sanitation Company to continue providing weekly garbage pickup and to add this charge to city water bills.

Other budget changes include:


  • Two AFSCME union city workers laid off
  • Parking meters raised 10 cents to 25 cents per hour
  • New cruiser for the Police Department
  • New riding mower for Parks Department
  • New weed-removal vehicle for White Deer Lake
  • New dump truck/snow plow for Streets Department
  • Additional legal counsel



“Spirit of Shared Sacrifice”

Members of AFSCME Local 644 will get a 3 percent raise unless they make concessions. The AFSCME Local 644 and the Police Association Local 34 are willing to negotiate contracts before the budget is finalized.

Martha Mittengrabben, president of AFSCME Local 644 said they would consider forfeiting the 3 percent raise in the “spirit of shared sacrifice.”

City Council members are paid $50 per meeting attended, no matter the length. City Council President Denelda Penoyer said they would consolidate meetings, consider multiple issues at a time and work longer for the same pay in the “spirit of shared sacrifice.”

Hruska challenged Petykiewicz to contribute to the budget by taking a 10 percent pay cut instead of a wage freeze. Petykiewicz said that if all non-union workers took a 10 percent pay cut, he would too. Petykiewicz said that even if 4 or 5 employees took a 10 percent pay cut, it would be “just a drop in the bucket.” He agreed it would be done as a symbolic gesture to say, “we’re all in this together.”


Mom, I’m joining the circus September 28, 2013

         Joining the circus seems like a childhood dream or an empty threat of a rebellious teenager. For Julie Marshall, being a circus performer gave her a career path.

Circus performer suspending on silks

Julie Marshall on aerial silks.

Marshall’s upbringing set her up for abnormality from the start. She was homeschooled by her artist mother and her father, a weight loss blogger.

Looking at Marshall, it is hard to believe that she was not always active. She was “the kid who would sit on the sidelines and look nervous,” Marshall said.

At age 17, Marshall realized her habits of sitting on the sidelines and smoking weren’t helping her slow metabolism. She tried jogging and basic exercises, but still didn’t see drastic results.

Marshall started art school at SAIC with the intent of being a performance artist. She was disappointed that the school didn’t advance her skills as a performer.

“The issue with art school was that they didn’t consider what I was doing art a lot of the time,” Marshall said. “A lot of the times the connection between meaning and making weren’t always placed together very well. If you wanted to do something, they wanted the why, not the how.”

Around the same time, Marshall was looking for a way to maintain her fitness in college. She found a studio that offered a $10 taster class for aerial silks.

It’s only been a year since Marshall’s first class, and she now teaches the same taster class that got her started.

Marshall is currently in a 9-month training program that teaches skills to become a hirable performance artist. The program covers everything from contortion to character work.

Marshall finds it easy to integrate performance art with her circus skills.

“Performance art is using your body, meaning you have to train your body to do things,” Marshall said. “If you’re gonna do a physical performance you have to practice….You learn the rules so you can break them.”

The circus life requires a lot of discipline and practice: it’s more about physical control than wearing skimpy costumes and riding elephants.

A crash course in retro fashion September 8, 2013

The model wears a circle skirt and headscarf.

Pinup girls have long been heralded as sex icons. Their distinctive style has slowly crept into the mainstream, especially with the advent of retro-inspired websites such as Modcloth  and Unique Vintage. In modernizing pinup style for everyday use, there are a few essential pieces:

  • Head scarves
  • Circle skirts
  • Cat-eye sunglasses
  • Skinny jeans
  • Cardigans
These pieces can be easily integrated into a modern wardrobe, such as pairing a cardigan on top of a graphic t-shirt. The important thing is not to be afraid to experiment and research.