Weather or not

As they say, everything is relative. Take the weather. Please.
We apparently have skipped from late summer to early fall, mid-August to
mid-October. No wonder I'm starting to see those Halloween shops start
to pop up again.
I first realized something was amiss on Saturday. Yes, it was a glorious
day. But I noticed a distinct chill in the air. Specifically, the heat
and humidity that had hugged the region like a wet blanket for much of
the week were gone.
Now, a confession here. I like hot, humid weather. My idea of a nice
night is when I can get home from work (much too late of course), throw
on a pair shorts and a T-shirt, and retreat to my little oasis, a
screened porch and sit in absolute comfort. Of course, all other sane
people are inside enjoying the air-conditioning. Not me.
My first inkling of what was to come arrived with the 6 o'clock news on
Saturday. The Sunday forecast was for another mostly nice day, followed
by clouds and some rain Sunday night.
I of course translated this into the likelihood that it would rain all
day Sunday. Sure enough, we exited noon Mass to a steady rain.
It has not stopped since.
Along the way, Mother Nature has messed with one of our late summer
traditions in these parts, our annual Champs 'n' Charity softball
tournament. Much of the action got rained out Sunday. We had hoped to
have the women's tourney start up again tonight. That's not going to
happen. The women will try to reconvene Wednesday night at Father Nall
The men's tourney will resume, and hopefully conclude, on Saturday.
As I said, this is all relative. Yes, it's miserable around here. Has
been for a couple of days.
But it could be worse. Much worse. You could be vacationing on the
Yucatan peninsula. It's kind of hard to imagine what is going to happen
there today when Hurricane Dean slams ashore.
We're talking about what is now going to be a catastrophic Category 5
hurricane with 165 mph winds.
And now another confession. Yes, I think it is the height of silliness
when you see these TV types standing on the beach hugging anything they
can get their hands on as they try to remain upright when these storms hit.
But it's something I've always wanted to try. I would like to be lashed
to a pole on the boardwalk in Rehoboth as the wind and rain roared,
Mother Nature at its fiercest.
I'll put it on the list, right up there with playing Augusta National,
attending a Super Bowl and being ringside for a heavyweight title fight,
on the things I'd like to do before I check out.
Come to think of it, that idea about being on the boardwalk amid one of
these storms just might hasten that process a bit.
I get lots of interesting phone calls at the newspaper every day. Most
times people are surprised that the editor of the newspaper answers the
Most of the time the people calling want to complain. They didn't like
something that was in the paper. They want to point out an error in our
reporting, or they are outraged that the item appeared at all.
As I said yesterday, our reporting on the Parkside fire and some of the
peripheral issues involved has sparked several phone calls.
Not everyone has been a big fan of how we've handled the story.
That changed a bit yesterday. I couldn't have been happier. Not because
someone was calling to thank us for our coverage and agreeing with what
we had done, but because of who it was that was calling.
Bill Connor was on the line. If you don't know him, you should. He's one
of those behind-the-scenes people who contribute so much to our public
safety, and asks so little in return.
Connor is president of the Delaware County Firemen's Association. He
called to thank me for the column I wrote Monday about volunteer
firefighters, and also to thank the paper for all the coverage we've
done on the Parkside fire.
But he also wanted to tell me a story. It's one worth retelling.
Connor told me how much he appreciated my mentioning in the column how
much I disagree with those who sometimes complain about fire whistles.
The argument usually goes that they are dinosaurs that serve no great
purpose amid all the new technology at our disposal to alert volunteers
to fire calls.
Connor begs to disagree.
And this saga proves his point. He is a member of both Oakmont Fire Co.
in Haverford and Lansdowne Fire Co. A few years back, he was returning
from a trip to the shore with his wife. He was wending his way through
West Philly and into Delco when he heard the distinct sound of a fire
"That's Lansdowne's whistle," Connor informed the Mrs. She did not seem
all that interested in a trip to the fire station. But I suppose she
knew they were going.
Once they arrived there, Connor learned that while they had a few
volunteers on hand, they did not have a driver. They did now. Connor got
behind the wheel.
The call was for a man down who had suffered a heart attack. They
managed to get him to the hospital, where he was revived. Connor wonders
what would have happened had he not heard that alarm.
That's something to think about the next time you hear one go off. As I
said on Monday, be glad there are men like Connor, and those two kids in
Parkside, who are still more than willing to answer the call.

<b>Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses:</b> <i>An occasional look at why it's so
difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia –
sports fan.</i> There's no other way to put it. Basically, it's crunch
time for the Phils. They are home for 10 games. After a set with the
Dodgers, they have showdowns with the two teams they are chasing,
specifically the Padres and Mets. San Diego leads the Wild-Card
standings; the Mets are atop the N.L. East. By this time next week we
should know whether it's football season yet.

<b>The Daily Numbers: 165</b> mph, the winds whipped up by monster
Hurricane Dean as it roars into Mexico this morning.<br><br>
<b>5,</b> as in Category 5, the most dangerous hurricane there is. And
that's what Dean is right now.<br><br>
<b>2</b> inches of rain expected to continue soaking the region here
today. That's on top of the inch and a half that already has fallen. A
flash flood warning remains in effect through tonight. <br><br>
<b>17,</b> the rating given by PennDOT to a span on Route 322 in Upper
Chichester over the CSX railroad tracks. That means it's 'structurally
deficient,' although officials insist it's in no danger of collapse.<br><br>
<b>82,</b> age of Brookhaven man charged in the beating of his elderly
wife back in June. She died Friday in a nursing home. <br><br>
<b>3</b> alarms, fire that roared through a business in Pottstown last
night. <br><br>
<b>46,</b> age of woman suspected of giving her hubby a lethal
concoction in the form of a drink laced with antifreeze. It's the second
such case in New Jersey. This time it happened in Cherry Hill. <br><br>
<b>80,000</b> dollars police say was left on the floor of a Wal-Mart in
Philadelphia during a robbery. It turns out it was an inside job plotted
by some workers. They got away with $350,000 in cash. That's all they
could stuff in their pants. The rest wound up on the floor. <br><br>
<b>25</b> bucks, what it will wind up costing you to drive across
Pennsylvania on I-80 once toll booths are put in place. The money is
part of that plan to raise transit funds. The state hopes to have 10
toll booths in place in three years. <br><br>
<b>2</b> cents less we're paying for gasoline as prices continue to dip.
Average price in the area now is $2.76. <br><br>
<b>5</b> games behind the Mets for the Phils this morning. They also
remain 1 game behind the Padres in the Wild-Card race. But they are now
tied with the Braves, who crushed the Reds last night. <br><br>
<b>10</b> straight games at home for the Phils against the Dodgers,
Padres and Mets. It likely will make or break their season.

<b>I Don't Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery):</b> First there
was the car radio. Then the CD player. Then the car phone, followed by
the cell phone. Then text messaging showed up, along with iPods. In
other words, drivers don't really need any more distractions. Brace
yourself for video billboards, which are being rolled out in the region.
Just what we needed. I don't get it.

Today's Upper: Good news from Parkside. Young firefighter Dan Brees has
been upgraded to fair condition. He's one of the two volunteers injured
when they were trapped in a burning townhouse. We hope we can soon say
the same for his pal, Chase Frost. They remain in our thoughts and prayers.

Quote Box: "The bridges on this list are safe; they are eligible to
maintain traffic."
-- PennDOT spokesman Charles Metzger, on the Route 322 span on the list
of bridges called 'structurally deficient.