Opinion

Through My Kitchen Window: Meals out the box and into the skillet |Oct 15, 2014

Those skillet meals in a box that simply require a pound of hamburger and a cup of milk are so helpful on busy weeknights. Assuming you’ve thought ahead and thawed the hamburger.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Allegorical ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ is mind-blowing in more ways than one |Oct 15, 2014

In the eyes of popular culture, “Guardians of the Galaxy” will likely go down as the year’s most popular film, and you could do far worse than Marvel’s slightly offbeat hit.

Ask Steve energy & money saving tips from Steve Moyer: Can a new thermostat save you money? |Oct 14, 2014

As a service to you and our community, I want to answer your questions so you can make educated and more informed decisions when it comes to your energy, comfort needs and saving money.

A Look Back in History: Our Kutztown Community Library |Oct 14, 2014

Perhaps the longest overdue article I should have written for the last couple of years involves our Kutztown Community Library, located on Bieber Alley.

Auctions in action |Oct 14, 2014

Auctions can be a bummer or a blast! Please follow me as I go through a progression of three auctions that my wife, Barb and I attended. Our oldest son, Greg, was the star of the third one.

Welcome to my World: My country walks |Oct 13, 2014

I’ve been taking short and long walks since my childhood days on the farm. I still enjoy walking---sometimes it’s for exercise, to drop off my mail at a postal box, or to pick up a few grocery items.

Small Beginnings: These are a few of my favorite things |Oct 13, 2014

I don’t know if this happens to you, but every now and then in the middle of my ordinary day a burst of extreme joy will just well up inside me and begin to overflow. Depending on where I am and what I’m doing I may suppress this emotion, but if I’m alone I may burst into laughter or even tears of gratitude for the simple joys of life.

A Look Back in History: Culinary tricks and treats of the past |Oct 10, 2014

As we look back more than 250 years of American history, certainly nobody thinks about the history of bread, certainly not Colonial bread.

Focus on the Family: Son needs to be pulled away from video games |Oct 7, 2014

Q: Our teenage son is extremely intelligent. The problem is he only wants to play video games all day and night when he’s home. It’s a struggle to get him involved in any kind of physical activity or even just to read a book.

Reel Experiences with Rob Humanick: Hilarious and heartfelt ‘Obvious Child’ packs a contentious punch |Oct 6, 2014

“Obvious Child” is a deeply political film that is all the more potent for its subterfuge as a crowd-pleaser. Dealing with an inflammatory topic – abortion – the film is bound to provoke strong responses from women and men alike.

Small Beginnings: Mundane and profound questions, inquiring minds want to know |Oct 6, 2014

Interlaced haphazardly with the mundane questions I grapple with each week appear some profound ones that can be quite the stumpers. An example of the potential thoughts that pass through my mind on a given day may look something like this… Do these pants make me look fat(ter than I actually am)? Did I pay that bill or did I dream that? If I were an atheist, how would I view this news story? Can I truly know the will of God for my life or am I just guessing? Why is my dog barking at the ceiling for no apparent reason? Deep stuff, I know.

From the Item Editor: The trick to taking a successful, relaxing vacation |Oct 6, 2014

After this past week, I can safely say that I found the perfect way to take a vacation; visit old friends. Not only do you get to catch up with some of the people closest to you, but you can actually relax during your time-off.

Welcome to my World: My Letters to Paul---Newman, of course |Sep 29, 2014

Reprint: 2008 Lifestyles over 50

Small Beginnings: Technology and travel meet together for a better experience |Sep 29, 2014

I know that technology has an impact on everything we do and having just had a vacation I experienced the impact of technology during our trip as well. One significant way technology changed our travel plans was with the handheld GPS device we used to navigate among our many destinations.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Transformers 4: Giving sequels, robots, movies, and numbers a bad name |Sep 26, 2014

Whatever your opinion is on him, it’s probably not news to you that Michael Bay is someone who movie fans tend to have opinions about. A populist creator of excess that has managed to land two films in the Criterion Collection series, his movies make money no matter how much people hate them.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Less is more: wartime documentary overplays its hand |Sep 24, 2014

In 2008, CNN correspondent Mike Boettcher and his son Carlos were based with U.S. forces in Afghanistan, video cameras in hand, capturing award-winning footage of the ongoing operation. Despite some extraordinary subjects and harrowing circumstances, the documentary compiled from some of this footage, “The Hornet’s Nest,” is thoroughly ordinary, forgoing the intensity of verite cinema for something closer to propaganda, save for how dramatically inert it is.

Mind Your Body: Quieting your mind leads to increased awareness |Sep 24, 2014

My primary teacher of yoga therapy used to say, “You can’t heal what you can’t feel.” This certainly offers a hint that awareness is an important key to our well-being.

Small Beginnings: Some helpful tips for flying the friendly skies |Sep 22, 2014

You’ll never guess where I am right now. I’m cruising along in the atmosphere at approximately thirty two thousand feet above the earth’s surface. Yes, I’m returning home from an adventure with my family and as I sit here in my seat on the plane, I am considering a number of things that may in fact make the experience of flying just a bit more pleasant.

Welcome to my World: A look at four-leaf clovers |Sep 22, 2014

“I’m looking over a four-leaf clover

Pickin’ in Pa: Rewarding the customer |Sep 19, 2014

When was the last time you were “rewarded” just for being a customer? I’ll admit it has been a long time since I felt special for shopping at a certain place. But, it wasn’t so long ago that merchants “rewarded” their customers with all kinds of gifts just for shopping in their store!

Up to Speed with David Barr: Keselowski starts Chase strong |Sep 16, 2014

Hello readers, Brad Keselowski dominated last week at Richmond to prove that he would be someone to watch in the Chase. In case anyone still doubted Keselowski as a serious title contender, Keselowski silenced his critics on Sunday.

A Slice of Life: Deep Fried Fare… |Sep 16, 2014

Resistance is simply futile. Despite the fact that the nutritional benefits of anything which is deep-fried is essentially zilch, the scent of funnel cake batter hitting hot oil is oftentimes too great a temptation to resist.

Ask Esther: Rent being raised; What do I do? |Sep 15, 2014

“Dear Esther, I graduated from college a few years ago and have a job I love. I’ve been renting a townhome and need to renew my lease. In so doing, I was told my rent is going to go up $100 per month.

Welcome to my world: Mom and the peacocks |Sep 15, 2014

Reprint: First Rights to Pennsylvania Magazine; local Kutztown Historical Newsletter

Small Beginnings: Some insight and history on the concept of vacations |Sep 15, 2014

Did you know that according to a recent survey, forty-seven percent of Americans took at least one vacation in the past twelve months? That is nearly half the country and quite an intriguing statistic.

Reel experiences with Robert Humanick: Hear him roar: ‘Godzilla’ ‘14 raises the bar on Hollywood monsters |Sep 15, 2014

The heck with beating around the bush: “Godzilla” was the best mainstream American release of the summer, with little serious competition. Those who complained that it didn’t have enough monster action weren’t by and large simply exhibiting impatience with the rare “popcorn” movie that actually cares about more than just giant things crashing into each other – they were clearly also not familiar with the dozens of Godzilla movies made in the last 60 years, many of which focus more on the humans than the monsters and some which barely include the big fella at all.

Thrivent Financial Column: September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, Think about your needs, protect your family |Sep 12, 2014

Think you don’t need life insurance? Think again!

From Arthur’s Policy Desk: President Obama: It’s in our national interest to return to Iraq |Sep 12, 2014

One of the first lessons in studying policy making is that a single event can change everything. Vice President Chaney and others in the Bush Administration wanted regime change in Iraq before they came to power but did not have the political means (opportunity) to implement that policy.

A Look Back in History: Early Americana weathervane was one of a kind |Sep 12, 2014

A couple weeks back, I was pleased to write about the rare Americana weathervane on the Levan barn in the Oley Valley. But ironically, Clarence Shirk had a local farm auction with an identical weathervane for sale at an Emmaus farm auction Sept.

Up to Speed with David Barr: Who will make it to the final four? |Sep 9, 2014

Hello readers, Brad Keselowski took most of the drama out of Richmond, leading all but 17 of the 400 laps in route to an easy win. With the win, Keselowski picked up his series-high fourth win of the season and will enter the Chase as the top seed.

WTIM: Music Around Town: Sept. 10 edition |Sep 9, 2014

What’s going on musically in the Berks-Mont Newspapers coverage area? A lot, and we want to help keep everyone in the know.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Beauty and horror co-exist in violent modern western ‘The Rover’ |Sep 9, 2014

“The Rover” is so bleak an experience that many viewers will understandably be forced to turn away. An opening title card informs us that the events depicted begin 10 years after a global economic collapse, and the Australian setting brings to mind the similarly desolate landscapes of the “Mad Max” films.

A dessert to savor summer |Sep 9, 2014

Fall needs to stop encroaching on Summer. Lately I’ve been thinking of Dylan Thomas’ poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and, specifically, it’s celebrated line, “Rage against the dying of the light.

Small Beginnings: the rural commuter’s worst nightmare |Sep 8, 2014

Come with me folks, as we travel down the scenic back roads of rural Berks County. As we journey along the winding way, passing bucolic farms and quaint homesteads, spying furry little woodland creatures and yielding to the occasional pedestrian or cyclist, every now and then our peaceful serene sojourn is interrupted by one of the most terrifying sights known to man.

Welcome to my World: The Eagle Point School |Sep 8, 2014

Reprint: 1986 Pennsylvania; 1993 in Kutztown Historical Society newsletter; 2012 in Berks County TV web site.

From the Item editor: Enjoying my second Taste of Hamburg-er Festival |Sep 8, 2014

Last year it was all about surviving. This year it was all about enjoying. With my second Taste of Hamburg-er Festival under my belt, I can say that I certainly see why people get so excited about it.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: ‘Venus in Fur’ offers sexual politics worth submitting to |Sep 3, 2014

“Venus in Fur” is a movie that revels in deception, a conceit that extends from the filmmaker to the subject matter to the audience, and back again. Suggesting the sexual role-playing equivalent of a Russian nesting doll, the film was adapted from the eponymous stage play by David Ives, which was itself inspired by the controversial Austrian novel “Venus in Furs” – and that’s only the start of the mysterious intrigue at play.

Who makes it in? |Sep 3, 2014

Hello Readers, It all comes down to this. One 400-lap race at tiny Richmond International Raceway to determine the final few drivers that will make up the 16-driver field for the new format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Welcome to my World: Remembering visiting family and friends |Sep 1, 2014

Reprint: Published locally 2009 in Lifestyles over 50 and Berks County TV web site 2011; 2014 Country Magazine

From the Item editor: Taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge |Sep 1, 2014

We’ve seen it just about everywhere. On the various social media sites and on television when it comes to celebrities. We’ve seen the positive reactions and of course the negative reactions.

Small Beginnings: Feeling grateful for our beautiful country |Sep 1, 2014

We are a little behind the vacation curve as we are just gearing up for our getaway. Most folks have already gone to the beach or done a theme park or two and they have the suitcases all nicely stashed away and the hotel soap is already melted down the drain.

Through My Kitchen Window: Avoid the school lunch slump |Sep 1, 2014

Are you packing multiple lunches, or need a fast lunch for your preschooler or homeschooler? Here are a few quick and easy lunch ideas to keep you out of the school lunch slump.

A Look Back in History: Colonial weathervanes of Oley Valley |Sep 1, 2014

When the early Pennsylvania Germans purchased their farming tracts from William Penn, these proud immigrants built agrarian farmsteads that rivaled their European counterparts, which naturally caused these Americans to place artistic weathervanes atop fashionable farm homes and gigantic Swiss bank barns, once the prerogative of European nobility.

Letter from AARP: ‘Maintain good health as you age’ |Aug 30, 2014

Preventative care is the most important thing someone can do to maintain good health as they age. As an AARP volunteer and member, I have had the privilege of being educated on how my insurance can help me prevent illness and avoid being sick.

WTIM: Music Around Town: Sept. 3 edition |Aug 28, 2014

What’s going on musically in the Berks-Mont Newspapers coverage area? A lot, and we want to help keep everyone in the know.

Reel Experiences with Robert Humanick: Look-alikes Eisenburg and Simon take to the screen in ‘The Double’ |Aug 25, 2014

Richard Ayoade’s film noir-infused take on Dostoyevsky’s “The Double” is successful in enough of its individual parts that it proves almost doubly disappointing in its missteps, as if a gentle, sublime spell had been abruptly broken.

From the Hamburg editor: How to contact the Item and submit |Aug 25, 2014

As a community newspaper, we receive many submissions from our readers. It is something that I myself look forward to as it’s a way to get to know those in the community better and also see what they have been up to.

Welcome to my World: Anita, the Riveter |Aug 25, 2014

Reprint (2012 Berks County TV web site)

Slice of Life: Mixing Up A Pie That’s Key For Summer |Aug 24, 2014

Retailers’ use of interesting descriptions to depict ordinary things has always intrigued me. For instance, the color green is simply not called “green” it’s often called “hunter” or “kiwi” or “moss.

On The Record with Carol: The Wolf’s at the Door |Aug 22, 2014

Monday, Aug. 19, President Barack Obama urged the Iraqis to unite because ‘the wolf’s at the door’ and the U.S. air strikes can only accomplish so much, http://www.ndtv.com.