Out of touch with the mortgage rates

Homeless people live under the Penn Street Bridge because the Sheraton and the Lincoln can’t touch the room rates.From my admittedly narrow perspective, the worst thing about being homeless is you can’t get home delivery of the Reading Eagle.I guess these people read the labels on empty beer cans while they’re eating breakfast.

Air to the throne?

Eagles fans, as you may have noticed unless you’ve spent the last 30 years immersed in the erotica of goldfish, have an extraordinary capacity to summon despair.Yep, Philly fans are single-minded and reactionary zealots who love to make short work of anybody they perceive as apologists for Eagles management. You can measure the patience of these Bird brains with an egg timer.Granted, I may be guilty of a pathetic oversimplification here, but probably not. After all, I do listen to WIP Sports Radio.The most egregious sin committed by Andy Reid and his Eagles draftniks yesterday? Trading out of the first round and plucking Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round.Granted, at a cursory glance, it was somewhat surprising considering the Eagles seem well-stocked at QB with the recuperating Donovan McNabb who hardly has reached his NFL dotage, and veteran backups A.J. Feeley and Kelly Holcomb.But then again, like leggy blondes and blended Scotch, one can never have too much of a good thing. McNabb has suffered more dings than a 30-year-old pickup truck. And all coaches love to scratch that itch also known as potential. Besides, a quarterback is the most important swan in the ballet. Kolb is no threat to McNabb’s job security — for now. Two years from now, we shall see.Kolb sat perched in the shotgun cocoon of a spread offense at Houston, which means taking a snap from center is sort of a foreign object to him. But he can throw the ball for production, spiraling 30 touchdown passes last season against just four interceptions. He averaged 259 yards passing in 50 games, which means the 6-3, 218-pound Kolb does have sufficient ammo in his gun. Apparently the Eagles had Kolb rated higher than Notre Dame glamour puss Brady Quinn, who spent most of Saturday in an agonizing free fall before crash landing in Cleveland with the 22nd pick of the first round. “With quarterbacks, if you have a good one that you feel good about, you don’t really care what anybody else thinks,” Reid said. “If he comes across your board, and you feel he’s the best, then you take him. Then you just let things happen. If he gets an opportunity to play, then he plays. If Donovan continues to play at the level he’s been playing at, then more power to it. It keeps you on top of the NFL and gives you a chance to win championships.” Reid evidently is not fretting over Kolb’s extensive and exclusive experience in a run-and-shoot scheme, which hardly mirrors the Eagles’ version of the West Coast offense. “What I saw in Kevin was somebody that was in complete control of his offensive scheme,” Reid said. “I didn’t care as much about the offensive scheme he was running other than he did it very well. I liked the way he was wired, his mobility and his movement in the pocket. I think he’s a good, solid person, and I think you can see he has good, solid leadership qualities.””It was a shock,” Kolb said of getting drafted so high by the Eagles. “Obviously, as an athlete, you feel you are as capable as anyone else on the board, but in the draft it has to be the right team, the right selection at the right time, and God was on my side today.”At least Kolb has God on his side. But he’ll have to earn the blessings of Eagles Nation. To do that he may need all the divine intervention he can muster. A posse of touchdown passes might work even better than a daily rosary. By the way, without dipping into the minutia of the Eagles’ entire first-day pickings, suffice it to say I liked their selection of Penn State running back Tony Hunt in the third round. The 6-1- 233-pound Hunt finally gives the Birds a big back, a guy who can stick his nose into the thunder between the tackles and not get it bent out of shape and mangled into his facemask.

A murder redolent with the musk of mystery

The murder at East Penn Manufacturing hopefully won’t be one of those unsolved mysteries that beg for resolution and retribution until the twelfth of never.State troopers, despite an around-the-block probe involving hundreds of employees at the Richmond Township battery-manufacturing plant, have no motive in the fatal stabbing of 62-year-old Kendrick Bogle.Bogle, a longtime and well-regarded East Penn employee apparently not known for putting dark spots on human hearts, died of multiple stabs wounds Tuesday.Plant workers found Bogle’s body in his car on a parking lot at the plant about 10 p.m. His murder obviously has rendered many people rigid with shock.Investigators said Bogle was trying to fend off his attacker before he was killed after 7 p.m. The manufacturing area where Bogle’s car was parked is surrounded by a fence and is restricted to employees. All vehicles must pass through a guarded gate to enter.Until troopers unearth some viable clues — and they may need help from Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Gil Grissom of CSI — the taut rubber band of suspicion is squeezing hundreds of employees.

Parenting is the world's toughest job

Alec Baldwin was blatantly wrong for berating his daughter as a “rude, thoughtless little pig” on a voicemail message.And now the star of “30 Rock” and former husband of Kim Bassinger is being pilloried in the press. The media has been tar thick in broad-brushing Baldwin as the poster child for an abusive father. The story has been pure catnip to the TV and print tabloids.But I think, to create a phrase here, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.What parents among us (including yours truly) hasn’t said something inappropriate to our children in a flash of anger?And when we do so, we immediately feel as if somebody sucked the wind out of us as it whooshes from us like a balloon emptying. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love our kids. Of course, a pattern of verbal abuse is a whole other matter. But a random phrase or two that hisses from our lips every now and then while trying to discipline our children is a byproduct of parenthood.Again, I’m not defending Alec Baldwin. I’m simply saying we should put his awful words to his daughter into some sort of perspective.

I'm feeling a draft

One of THE most important days on the calendar this year is Saturday, April 28.That is the day when yours truly will be named King of the Universe.OK, just kidding. Nothing quite that galactic in scope.But almost.The first day of the NFL Draft is Saturday. Nothing that will happen on that particular day can transcend it in importance. Trust me, it’s a really, really big deal.Which is why countless newspapers, magazines and Web sites have been publishing mock drafts almost daily for about the past two months. As of 3:45 p.m. this afternoon, a Google search unearthed exactly 121.6 trillion published mock drafts.Hey, nobody loves the drama, the intrigue, the gamesmanship and the ramifications of the NFL Draft more than I do. I was a draft junkie even before it was televised on ESPN, even before Terry Bradshaw invented the Internet.But I think all these mock drafts are absolute nonsense — a colossal waste of time.Nobody in the universe can tell you how the draft will unfold. The draft has a domino effect. How the pieces, er, players fall is dependent on who was plucked previously. One hiccup in its biorhythms can render a mock draft as useless as Andy Reid in a limbo contest.Speaking of Andy Reid, his Philadelphia Eagles — assuming they don’t trade up or down — have the 26th pick in the first round. The odds are that Reid will select a lineman — he does most years. He has affinity for big, fat guys. Surprise, surprise.Anyway, not even Reid at this juncture knows who will strike his fancy at No. 26.But the mock drafters do. But these alleged draftniks have little consensus. For instance, various mock drafts have the Eagles taking one of the following:Safeties Reggie Nelson of Florida, Michael Griffin of Texas, Brandon Meriweather of Miami, Sabby Piscitelli of Oregon State, Eric Weddle of Utah.Defensive ends Anthony Spencer of Purdue, Jarvis Moss of Florida, Charles Johnson of Georgia.Cornerbacks Aaron Ross of Texas, Darrelle Revis of Pittsburgh, Marcus McCauley of Fresno State.Linebackers Lawrence Timmons of Florida State, Jon Benson of Miami.Bloggers Al Walentis, Jason Weitzel, Dana Hoffman. I was only kidding about the last group.I think.

The trash cometh and cometh

It’s amazing how some people never seem to be on the same page. These are the nitwits who never seem to get the memo. Or who are out to lunch even before breakfast.For instance, Saturday was the Great American Cleanup. Hundreds of volunteers, who on a postcard-perfect day could have been playing golf or strolling along Blue Marsh or walking at Gring’s Mill or even drinking beer in their rec rooms if they were recluses — fanned out in Reading to pick up trash.Mighty nice of ’em, if you ask me.Meanwhile, simpletons that very same day were illegally dumping tons of trash near Sixth and Pike.Nobody knows how this all got started. Nobody was caught with their hands in the cookie jar, oops, in the mounds of trash.Apparently some folks took advantage of the cleanup date and intentionally dumped all their garbage and spare kitchen sinks. Others evidently saw all the heaping trash and just assumed it was the place to deposit waste.Trash begat trash until city public works employees wound up filling five commercial-sized garbage containers with junk. By the way, each container can hold as much as 2.5 tons. If my trusty calculator is counting correctly, that was 12.5 tons of unforgivingly hideous crap.Even the loaves and fishes didn’t multiply that quickly. Even rabbits don’t multiply that quickly.Talk about the incalculably ridiculous!What is it about our city that makes us prone to train wrecks? Perhaps we are cursed by having a railroad snake right through the center of town.

Just too damn many bullets flying in town

The figures, according to Mayor Tom McMahon, show serious crime in the city is down 35 percent during the first three months of this year compared with last year.Still, the court of public perception still sees Reading as a town riddled with violence.And that view will continue to cling like lint to our city as long as we have gunfire erupting outside child care centers, which transpired yesterday afternoon near the Second Street Learning Center.The hail of bullets forced a nearby resident to seek shelter for himself and four children. “It’s scary, man,” he said. “They were running and shooting while children were out here playing. These guys don’t care who they shoot and all it would have taken was one loose bullet.”Amen.Perhaps the only solution is to take a cold, hard wrecking ball to all the lowlifes who harbor not a shred of sanctity for the value of human life.Much easier said than done, of course.Sadly, transforming Reading into a safe place to live, work and play might be a dream with cold fingers.

Bottoms up!

There are a lot of folks and organizations toiling like coal miners in howling against the dangers of drunk driving.Nevertheless, some people still insist in turning their bloodstreams into huge, brimming reservoirs of booze.A 54-year-old woman recently registered a .47 blood-alcohol content, six times the legal intoxication threshold and possibly the state record in Washington. The thirsty lady was arrested after colliding with two vehicles in quick succession. Her reflexes apparently were more shot than George W. Bush’s chances of leaving a good legacy.By the way, if you’re wondering what the highest recorded blood-alcohol level is in the country, it’s .74. That person must have been drinking Scotch by the keg.

Demons poaching on the mind

Sanity obviously had oozed through the seams of Cho Seung-Hui’s mind sometime ago.The diatribe, photos and videos he mailed NBC News graphically and sadly portray that his mind had been reduced to a doughy substance before he slaughtered 32 people at Virginia Tech on Monday.Neither Freud nor Dr. Phil nor Dr. Melfi could have sealed the ruptures in his ravaged brain. And now there can be no retribution for the families and friends of the victims since Cho opted to snuff out his own twisted life.In his wake, this madman has left hot emotions boiling over in Blacksburg and beyond. It will take considerable time for those emotions to develop calluses.May his victims rest in peace. But not him.

What the hell was this guy smoking?

Perhaps this guy is smarter than the average rock, but the odds are he must be dumber than a rhino. Then again, perhaps he simply was more wasted than Keith Richards.Whatever his issues, the 35-year-old guy was the focal point of a pitch-black tale early Sunday in some place called Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He apparently was intoxicated when the cops found him passed out in a bathroom stall at a Ramada Hotel. He was fully clothed and sitting on a toilet. It obviously was a moment clumsier than wrestling with a crab claw for the dude when he finally responded after officers shook him several times. When asked for identification, the whole incident really morphed into a comedy skit.The guy, perhaps soaked in the smoke of burning grass, didn’t fork over his driver’s license. Instead, he pulled out a yellow and gray marijuana pipe and handed it to a cop. The poor stupidity of it must have jiggled the officer’s Adam’s apple.Perhaps it was then that the poor sap perched on the john realized it was much too late to apply a tourniquet to the hemorrhage of trouble suddenly geysering into his life. So when the officer again asked him for some ID, the guy ripped out a check and handed it to the cop.The officer then asked the guy to exit the bathroom. So he promptly walked out of the hotel and began strolling down the street — all the while ignoring the officers’ orders to stop. So they used a Taser gun on him, arrested him and threw him in jail.By the way, he told police he’d never seen the pot pipe before.The moral of the story: Never pass out in a hotel bathroom stall because you run the risk of somebody stuffing a marijuana pipe in your pocket.Yeah, right. P.S.: Perhaps the dude had his pants on while seated on the toilet because he had once read about a young guy whose unzipped fly gave police a bird’s-eye view of the pot pipe and drugs stashed in his underwear.A guy can never be too careful, I guess.