News, notes & opinions: October 2016

Trick or treat etiquette has gone the way of the dodo, the Pinto and (Han) Solo. Fellow parents, it’s up to us to stop the madness. As a public service, feel free to share this with parents all over the world.

Trick or treat 101

Trick or treat etiquette has gone the way of the dodo, the Pinto and (Han) Solo.

Fellow parents, it’s up to us to stop the madness. As a public service, feel free to share this with parents all over the world.

1. This is a children’s activity.
If your child is old enough to shave, chances are he or she is too old to trick or treat. Keep them home. Have them fill out job applications.

What can save the young adults who do show up at my family’s door is the quality of the costume. If he or she clearly has thought out his or her costume and put in some effort, we’re happy to share some good candy at our house.

Two smears of eye black, an old Tim Couch jersey and some Kleenex packed into the shoulders (actually happened) does not constitute such effort. A single Jolly Rancher for that teen. (But, the same outfit with a Johnny Manziel jersey and an inflatable swan? Great job! You get two Snickers!).

2. This is a walking (not driving!) activity.
I still remember the first time this happened in my neighborhood a few years ago: Instead of walking from house to house, one boy was hopping in and out of his mom’s minivan, all the way down the block.

The audacity of this child (and the mom, for that matter) was stunning to me. We live in an age where our children are too enabled, anyway. STOP THIS.

Last year, we counted about a dozen such drivers. They got the tiny, hard Tootsie Roll left over from five Halloweens ago.

3. Keep the kids off the grass.
Some homeowners actually take care of their lawn (and quite possibly deserve their own column like this, as they too seem like a dying breed). Please respect their property and don’t trample the grass.

So many kids don’t pay attention. The occasional kid will call up from the street, asking “Is it OK to walk in your grass?” Thoroughly impressed with their manners (and decidedly less impressed with my own efforts in making my lawn so pristine that a few footprints would really even matter), I’ve always told these kids to come on up to the door. They usually get an extra Kit Kat, too.

The last part of this column is just for the trick-or-treaters: Despite what this column might suggest, you won’t see me in a rocking chair on the porch, waving a stick and growling gibberish at passersby. I’ll smile and chat with you, but the quality and quantity of your candy is directly related to your manners and how much effort you’ve put into your costume.

Feel free to draw the parallel between how you approach trick or treat and how you approach life.
—Scott Brown

Top docs, health care facilities are all around us

It’s an oldie, but still a goodie:

“What do you call the person who graduates last in his/her class in medical school? … Doctor!”

Or as famed comedian George Carlin put it: “Somewhere out there is the world’s worst doctor. The scariest part is that someone has an appointment with him tomorrow.”

OK, I know what you’re thinking: Somewhere out there is the world’s worst editor, and I think I’m reading his column right now!

Now, I’m pretty confident I’m not the world’s worst editor, and I’m even more confident the world’s worst doctor is nowhere around Northeast Ohio. We are beyond blessed to live in a region with some of the world’s elite health care facilities and physicians.

You don’t have to travel to Cleveland for quality care, either. You can count on it at our local hospitals: Aultman, Mercy, Affinity, Alliance Community.

Have an emergency? There are urgent-care centers sprinkled all over Stark County. No matter where you live in this region, you’re never more than a few minutes away for livesaving help if you need it.

Becoming editor of GateHouse Ohio Media about 13 months ago brought with it a change of insurance and the need to find a new primary care physician. Taking a friend’s recommendation—himself a doctor based at Aultman—our family chose Family Medicine of Stark County, and we couldn’t be more satisfied with the friendly doctors and helpful staff. It doesn’t sound like it should be complicated, but there are some offices that struggle to get some part of that formula right.

At the urging of my new primary care physician, I even had “the exam” recommended for men my age. A good thing, too, as not all was perfect. Joy of joys, I’ll have the pleasure of a follow-up in a few years.

Maybe between now and then, one of our Top Docs will invent an elixir that works its magic without tasting as if you’re drinking from the garden hose. (Not that I would know anything about that.)

When I was a younger adult, my family doc told me, “If you don’t drink, don’t smoke and wear your seat belt, odds are you’ll live to be an old man.” But, as with any machine, which our bodies are, preventative maintenance can’t be dismissed.

Eat healthy. (Chocolate is healthy.) Exercise. See your doctor for annual checkups. Get your recommended tests.
Not feeling it yet? Read on to hear from our Top Docs and also from some of our friends and neighbors who have overcome real health crises. Their stories provide real inspiration.
—Rich Desrosiers


I, for one, welcome our robot overlords

You don’t realize just how important technology has become in your life until you lose the remote.

Mine went missing the other day, and the realization of the fact came to me just after I had crashed on the couch. It was after a long day of helping my daughters battle evil monsters plaguing their kingdom, doing chores and spending an hour stuck in a traffic jam.

I thought for a moment about not watching TV.

“I’ll just enjoy the silence or maybe read a good book,” I said in a way that made either one of those unlikely things seem possible.

This lasted seconds. Then I got up and flipped all of the couch cushions and looked under all of the tables. Then I asked my older daughter, who said she saw her little sister disappear with it down the hallway.

Well, looks like I’m going to have to get a new TV, I thought to myself.

Eventually, it was located in a sock drawer.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a lazy person, but I am a fan of technology. And the better the technology, the increased likelihood of laziness.

And I’m not just talking about being able to change from one bad TV show to another from across the room. I am a fan of the “Internet of things.” It’s the idea that eventually all of the tools of our modern world will be customized for our lives and able to speak to each other.

When I was a kid, I thought about the rise of technology in more of a cool-robot-delivering-me-a-Tab than being able to unlock doors with a magical computer in my pocket.

But that’s where we are now. Imagine coming home at night and without lifting a finger, your home recognizes it’s you and unlocks the doors, turns on the lights and kicks on the air conditioning; because you like it a little cooler.

The idea is both foreign and weird. It seems more like something from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” than real life. But it is happening right now. This generation will be the ones to troubleshoot this mess for those who haven’t been born yet. You’re welcome, freeloaders.

When I bought my house and changed the locks, I was all about getting a futuristic door lock that could be opened with my phone. Then I realized the price was about 500 percent more than an average door lock and went the lock-and-key route.

Then I received a “smart” thermostat for a gift.

“Well, this is the end of society,” I said half-jokingly.

Again, I assumed this new piece of technology would be like HAL 9000 from “2001.” I’d try to turn on the air conditioning, and the thermostat would deny my request: “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Then, naturally, it would try to murder my family.

Well, this thermostat must not be the version that murders families. It just allows me to control it with my phone.

At the touch of a button, I can get a full weather rundown for inside the house. I’m talking humidity and temperature, and, well, that’s about all the weather inside the house.

Really, our new tool is mostly used as a passive-aggressive battle ground. My wife likes it a little hotter than I do. So this allows us to change the thermostat up or down by a degree throughout the day.

Basically, I think the “Internet of things” is all about allowing us to perform tasks from about 10 feet away.

And I, for one, welcome our robot overlords.
—Dave Manley


No more lazy summer days

This past summer, my son was enjoying his final day of summer vacation doing what I presume all high school seniors do on that day.


“Enjoy it,” I told him.

“I am,” he said.

And then it hit me.

This would be his last day of summer break.


He is 17 and will turn 18 in December.

It doesn’t seem possible. Has it really been 16 years or so since he fell asleep on my chest watching “Seinfeld” reruns?

After he graduates from GlenOak High School, he will be busy earning money for college and planning his future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there will be plenty of lazy summer days ahead for him.

But this was the last official day.

Then on the following day, the first day of school, it was the last time he would go to school with his sister. This was their last first day of school together.

I’m not sure I’m ready for this, let alone him.
—Todd Porter


Enjoy fall while it lasts

I love summer, don’t get me wrong. But this is my favorite time of year.

The night air is cool enough to sleep with the windows open. This is perfect walking and running weather. This final month before the leaves change and then fall to the ground, for me, signifies all that is great and awe-inspiring with our world.

Then November-December-January hit.

It is dark by the time we head home for work. It’s too cold to enjoy the night air.

And if the Farmer’s Almanac is to be believed, we’re going to be shut in the entire month of January with some of the worst cold weather ever.

The pool is closed.

Time to enjoy what’s left of the year before becoming hermits.
—Todd Porter