Columnists

At Large with Tom Williams > > It takes two to tandem

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Written by Tom Williams Tuesday, September 30, 2014 04:38 pm

Amanda Sheroff, left, and Annie Leslie use the pedal power of two to complete a leg in the City to Shore Ride. Amanda Sheroff, left, and Annie Leslie use the pedal power of two to complete a leg in the City to Shore Ride.  Friends – one with MS and the other recovering from a brain aneurism – use the pedal power of two to complete a leg in the City to Shore Ride 

We’ve all experienced it. When more than 7,000 bike riders descend on the area it can throw things off. You might be held up at an intersection waiting for the long line of bicycles to pass. You might not be able to park in front of your house. Maybe a parking lot you use is unavailable.

It’s the Bike MS: City to Shore Ride, which brings riders from miles away to Sixth Street and the Boardwalk in Ocean City. Last Saturday was the 34th year for the outing, which has raised millions of dollars to fight multiple sclerosis.

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The Mom’s Beat: An open letter to our sons about violence against women

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Written by Laura Stetser Tuesday, September 30, 2014 03:14 pm

The Mom’s Beat: An open letter to our sons about violence against women The Mom’s Beat: An open letter to our sons about violence against women

Dear son,

There are more headlines in the news lately than I care to read about the bad things that people who call themselves men do to women.

I have hidden these stories from you because most of them are too horrific for you to hear. But I must make the lessons of them clear to you so when you eventually start hearing them, you will already know they are wrong.

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Securing Social Security

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Written by Tom Williams Wednesday, September 24, 2014 03:55 pm

Nearly 1.5 million New Jersey residents receive some sort of Social Security benefits. That is only the 35th largest total in the country. A little more than 50,000 of them live in Atlantic County, less than 16,000 in Cape May County. These are not just old folks – like Joe Wilkins, Bud Rinck, Jim Schafer or Bob Derbyshire. People with disabilities and those unable to work can qualify. So can the blind and orphaned children. Supplemented Income is also available to those below the poverty level.

Almost everybody knows somebody who has benefitted from Social Security. The program was started by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 and has grown considerably since then. The first monthly check was issued in 1940 for $22.54. The average check is now around $1,200. The disability program was added in 1954 under the Eisenhower Administration. The early retirement option at age 62 was added in 1961 by John F. Kennedy. The Supplemental Income program was started in 1972 by Richard Nixon.

 

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The Mom’s Beat: What I have learned from being a room mom

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Written by Laura Stetser Wednesday, September 24, 2014 03:00 pm

The Mom’s Beat: What I have learned from being a room mom The Mom’s Beat: What I have learned from being a room mom

Well, it happened again. I was selected to be room mom by default for one of my children’s classrooms. While I am always happy to help out where needed, I did not sign up for the task because I know I cannot make all of the parties.

But because I did the job last year, also by default, and seemingly made it through unscathed, it looks like I am now on a very short list of parents who are either gullible enough to say yes or happy to take it on. (Apparently in another class, there is competition for the job, but I think that’s a fluke.)

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Joe's Take: Hero Campaign seeks to avert future tragedies

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Written by Joe Wilkins Monday, September 22, 2014 09:41 pm

It was not an interview I wanted to do. Talking to a father who lost his son rips at my own heart because I, too, lost a son. Mark was 33 when he died and would have been in his early 50s now, and I still cannot talk or write about him without choking up.

Bill Elliott has much the same problem. He has toughened up in order to publicize his successful Hero Campaign, but when he talks about the accident in which a drunken driver killed his son John, you can see him struggling. I admire his courage.

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Blissful Thinking: Should you coordinate your accessories with your outfits?

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Written by Melissa Trabbold Friday, September 19, 2014 01:02 pm

Should you coordinate your accessories with your outfits? Should you coordinate your accessories with your outfits?

In the fashion world, coordinating accessories to match particular outfits is referred to as “matchy matchy.” In my opinion, this does not sound like an appealing trend and for years it wasn’t very respected—until recently. In recent years, the trend is making its way back into the contemporary fashion census, as many are matching their bags to their shoes, and other accessories to their overall outfits. I’ve discovered that in recent spring and summer collections, many designers were sending models down the runway with their bags, shoes, and accessories all in matching fabrics. Clearly designers were trying to reinforce this “head-to-toe” trend. 

 I think to an extent, matching your bag to your shoes is necessary and definitely fashion-worthy.   

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Joe's Take: The NFL and its women problem

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Written by Joe Wilkins Wednesday, September 17, 2014 09:28 am

In the turbulent aftermath of Ray Rice’s brutal punch at Atlantic City’s Revel casino I don’t know whether NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will still be drawing his pay of $35 million or $40 million a year by the time you read this. In the NFL as in politics, one PR disaster can hurt you, but a string of them is deadly. Given the culture of the NFL, sudden light being thrown into its darker corners will probably reveal much we didn’t realize.

None of that will initially bother the billionaires who own the teams and control the NFL. But in the long run, Goodell – and Rice’s – fate will depend on whether America’s women are mad enough about off-the-field domestic violence to boycott the sponsors who bring in the big bucks. Sports Business Journal reported in 2012 a sharp increase in the number of NFL viewers who correctly identified such sponsors as Marriott, Gatorade, Ford, GM, Verizon and Bud Light. Tie that to press reports that 45 percent of the NFL viewers are women and you see the problem, especially these days when strong and sophisticated advocacy of women’s rights is a major factor. Try to imagine a President Hillary Clinton or President Kelly Ayotte hosting the Super Bowl winners at the White House should guys like Ray Rice show up with bloody knuckles. The NFL and its sponsors, vendors, executives and players have a multibillion-dollar industry to look after so I think they’ll pay whatever it costs to get Goodell out the door.

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The Mom’s Beat: Things you shouldn’t have to say to your child

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Written by Laura Stetser Tuesday, September 16, 2014 12:19 pm

Submitted/The Mom’s Beat: Things you shouldn’t have to say to your child Submitted/The Mom’s Beat: Things you shouldn’t have to say to your child

This weekend I was chatting with a friend at the end of our children’s soccer game when we looked over and saw our two boys wrestling with each other just after they had been given their post-game treat.

“Don’t wrestle around with that lollipop in your mouth!” she quickly reminded her son while shaking her head.

We laughed because, after the kids reach the ages of 6 or 7, there are certain things that you shouldn’t have to keep saying to your child.

I can’t count how many times I have said “Don’t wipe that on the wall.”

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The Mom’s Beat: Keep an eye out for enterovirus respiratory illness

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Written by Laura Stetser Tuesday, September 09, 2014 11:22 pm

Enterovirus update New Jersey Enterovirus update New Jersey

 You know what’s coming. That sneeze you just heard means that cold and flu season is creeping up. But this time, the annual germ festival could be bringing along new friend that you should know about.

Meet enterovirus D68, a respiratory illness first identified in California in the 1960s that is making a comeback, sickening approximately 1,000 children already in other parts of the country.

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Joe's Take: Lessons from mastectomies

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Written by Joe Wilkins Tuesday, September 09, 2014 03:27 pm

“Don’t touch those breasts, boys!” Father McDonald thundered to our freshman prayer assembly at Holy Spirit High School in the days when it was still on Massachusetts Avenue in Atlantic City. “They’re for the babies!” 

The girls blushed furiously. The boys choked back giggles, snickers and hoots of laughter. For weeks afterward we greeted each other in the gym and the hallways with “Don’t touch those breasts, boys!” I think the girls would have cheerfully shoved us down the stairs. “Breast” was not a word openly used in those sensitive years, especially among highly suggestible teenage boys who had those very items on their minds and the girls who knew full well what we were thinking.

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At Large with Tom Williams > > Dealing with a police officer

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Written by Tom Williams Tuesday, September 09, 2014 12:47 pm

We’d all like today’s officers to handle every situation like Pete Malloy and Jim Reed on 'Adam-12.' But the times are different and the pressures are greater. Even Malloy and Reed, however, occasionally had to deal with a bad cop.   We’d all like today’s officers to handle every situation like Pete Malloy and Jim Reed on 'Adam-12.' But the times are different and the pressures are greater. Even Malloy and Reed, however, occasionally had to deal with a bad cop. It has been well established that bad news trumps good news in the media. Even though the overwhelming majority of police officers are protectors who treat the public with respect, it is the situation where an officer loses his focus that makes the news.

We don’t hear as often about the officers who found two children sleeping on the floor in their apartment and collected money from the force to buy them bunk beds. Then they started Beds for Kids in association with Ikea and have provided dozens more kids in poverty with beds. And we don’t hear often enough about the good work done behind the scenes by the Ocean City PBA and other similar groups.

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Joe's Take: But first, a pause to catch your breath

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Written by Joe Wilkins Saturday, September 06, 2014 12:00 am

They make a big fuss about New Year’s Day as a time for big changes in our lives. But for me it’s the week after Labor Day that turns the calendar. Summer ends and school begins. Sandals and flip-flops give way to shoes and socks. Schedules tighten up and the alarm clock gets louder. School buses pop up at the corner where shy little kids with brand new backpacks wait to climb aboard and enter the big, wide adventure of life beyond their front yard. There’s no mistaking the quickening pace of life that sets the tempo of the world on our side of the equator.

We have a grace period of September — a time to catch our breath after the rush of end-of-summer picnics and barbecues and family get-togethers. A time, after the summer visitors have headed back to the cities, for friends and neighbors who have been hard at work making the most of the season to come up for air, look around, and say hello to one another again.

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The Mom’s Beat: Play it safe and check your child’s device

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Written by Laura Stetser Wednesday, September 03, 2014 12:00 am

The Mom’s Beat: Play it safe and check your child’s device The Mom’s Beat: Play it safe and check your child’s device

This week, there are headlines in nearly every news outlet about leaked nude pictures of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence. What happens to adult celebrities is not really a concern of mine, but the startling uptick in the nude photos that pre-teens and teens are sharing willingly with their peers should be a concern for all of us.

Surely most of these situations uncovered have been handled quietly among parents and the children or through administrative meetings in the school districts.

But in August, a Virginia family made headlines after the parents chose to take an uncommon action in protecting their daughter from inappropriate content between her friends by reporting her to the local law enforcement.

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At Large with Tom Williams: How police are trained

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Written by Tom Williams Tuesday, September 02, 2014 04:28 pm

Police are under fire across America.

An unarmed teenager was shot six times and killed in Missouri, setting off weeks of demonstrations that were met with tear gas and armored vehicles. A man was choked to death on the streets of New York. A man in Ohio was shot and killed in a Walmart while carrying a toy gun. There are too many more to list.

Considering all of the recent headline-making stories, it is hard to believe that a study estimated that 71 percent of police officers never fire their weapon on duty during their entire career.

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Blissful Thinking: Get the best fall looks with great layering choices

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Written by Melissa Trabbold Tuesday, September 02, 2014 12:32 pm

Fall fashions Fall fashions

In my opinion, there is no better season to coordinate your outfits with than fall. With this season right around the corner, it’s almost time to break out the jeans and leggings, denim jackets and boots. I think you can have the most fun putting outfits together in this particular season because the crisp cool temperature allows for lots of layering – one of my favorite looks.

 The thing with wearing lots of layers is that you can turn any plain outfit into something with some flair and edge to it. Take a pair of leggings, for instance, and match it with a flowy tank top – how plain. Now add some layers. A coordinating cardigan or sweater, a plaid button-up worn open, or a denim jacket can turn that formerly plain and boring look into a fashionable fall look that anyone can pull off.

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Joe's Take: New thinking needed for local economy

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Written by Joe Wilkins Wednesday, August 27, 2014 02:36 pm

Here in South Jersey, we are winding up the most perfect summer of good weather anybody can remember. There were long strings of perfect days of sunshine, temperatures in the 70s and mid-80s, and just enough rain to keep the grass green and the corn growing. Every weekend has been a shore businessman’s dream, with the TV weathermen and women looking for ways to spice up the delightful monotony of reports that keep repeating “sunny, warm and getting better.” Hunting up old hurricane footage is the best they can do for now.

Such perfect days breed laziness. Even the squirrels beneath my windowsill are taking their time hiding the food they’ll need next winter. Usually they scurry around, busily hiding away their supplies to be dug up in February’s snows. They’re doing it now, but are downright lackadaisical about it.

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