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N.J. pets in need: Dec. 10, 2018

Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption.

Last week, I wrote about the money pet owners will spend on gifts for their furry friends this holiday season. But, what are the options for people on a budget -- or, for those, like me, who are just plain cheap? has some suggestions for low-cost, and even no-cost, pet gifts.

Some household items make great cat toys. If you were going to throw out old shower curtain rings, toilet paper cardboard tubes or just plain empty boxes, your kitty can have hours of fun with them instead.

A simple homemade dog toy can be made by inserting an empty plastic water bottle into an old sock, then tying a knot in the end. Dogs love the crunching sound.

If it's okay for your dog to have peanut butter, give him or her the old plastic jar before you throw it out; it'll provide lasting fun for your dog and for you watching.

Those little bell balls that were all the rage on shoelaces can be tied to a doorknob with string to make cat toys all around your house.

Finally, you can make a durable pull toy for your dog by braiding long strips of old clothes.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 11:30:00 UTC

This NJ congressman just changed how government works | Editorial

The goal is to restore a semblance of regular order. Imagine: conventional public hearings and committee deliberation, rather than bills produced in a locked room by a "task force." Watch video

During his noble but often futile pursuit of bipartisan lawmaking, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat, was occasionally pulled aside by a party elder and asked the kind of question that most House freshmen would find daunting: "Why are you helping the other side?" the colleague would sneer. "What benefit can come out of this?"

The co-founder of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is composed of 24 members from each party, would explain that it's more about practicality than politics: Nothing can be accomplished without collaboration, and as long as a bill is good for New Jersey's 5th District and the country, his own party is an afterthought.

How did they usually respond to this mantra?

"I'm not getting any flowers," Gottheimer says in full deadpan.

If Congress takes a credible step toward restoring democracy next session, someone should send Gottheimer a bouquet, because it probably will be the result of him helping Nancy Pelosi take a strategic step away from the massive prairie fire that is the legislative process.

Endlessly frustrated by the partisanship and obstructionism that torpedoes most meaningful legislation, Gottheimer leveraged the votes for speaker from his caucus to convince Pelosi that the rules of the House must change in the upcoming session to make it a more open and inclusive process.

He calls the initiative Break The Gridlock, quixotic as that may sound.

Among its eight provisions is the creation of a "consensus calendar," which allows for bills with 290 co-sponsors to automatically be sent to the floor after a certain time lapse. Why? Because if a bill has two-thirds support in the House, it should not be jammed by a committee chairman or by party leadership.

That's the big one, because there are "too many issues that have massive support off the floor among membership and the public," Gottheimer says, "but the obstructionists won't let it get to the floor."

He means issues such as infrastructure, gun safety, immigration reform, climate change, protecting entitlements, lowering health care premiums, education costs, and minimum wage -- all that frivolous stuff that isn't being debated now, which is why so many Americans want to trash the place.


Another provision guarantees a debate and a vote for all amendments with at least 20 cosponsors from each party, while another modernizes the discharge petition process, which is easily smothered under existing rules.

The new rules also make it more difficult to oust the Speaker: No longer can a single hardliner use the "vacate the chair" motion as a cudgel to keep certain pieces of legislation off the floor by calling for a new House speaker. That was used so often by Tea Partiers, it chased John Boehner into retirement. That threshold has been raised, so the speaker can now take legislative risks.

All these proposals won the support of Pelosi and the next chairman of the Rules Committee, Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

The Democratic majority will still have a clear advantage. But a House consensus - and minority access - gives a bill a better chance of getting past the Republican Senate and getting the president to sign it.

Re-elect Gottheimer. The last thing we need is another petty partisan | Editorial

Yes, Gottheimer knows he has a bullseye on his back. Some say he shouldn't be so eager to give Republicans such a soft landing after they were routed in the midterms. Even Democratic newbies such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that Gottheimer is "hold(ing) the entire 220+ caucus hostage if we don't accept their GOP-friendly rules."

No flowers from trolls, either.

"I don't get that," Gottheimer says. "We can't meet in two years and still have Dreamers living with the same uncertainty. We can't leave Gateway unfunded. If we insist on all or nothing, then nothing will pass the president's desk. We can't use the next two years to obstruct."

True, that's a bad way to govern. And judging by the midterms, voters want Congress to put the nation's interests ahead of any party's agenda. How refreshing.

Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.


Mon, 10 Dec 2018 11:30:00 UTC

Vintage photos of supermarkets in N.J.

The food shopping experience hasn't changed a lot over the years.

We already have drones delivering online purchases in some parts of the country. You have to admit - you probably didn't think you'd live to see the day.

Yet it's interesting that supermarkets are remarkably similar today to the experience a succession of generations have had over the years.

Think about it. The manual cash register (and its almost musical sound) has been replaced by bar code scanners ... but the process of your purchases passing along a conveyor as you move through the thin checkout line is hardly different.

MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

Items are still arranged in rows of shelves that we push shopping carts up and down. The carts themselves may be made of plastic instead of metal but the design has barely been altered.

Fruits and vegetables are still open to be chosen individually; meats and fish are neatly arranged in refrigerated displays. It's an experience we had as children that our own children -- and likely their children - have been and will be able to share.

Here's a gallery of vintage photos of supermarkets in New Jersey. And here are links to more vintage photo galleries of supermarkets and food stores in the Garden State.

Vintage N.J. photos of supermarkets

Vintage photos of supermarkets and food stores in N.J.

Vintage photos of neighborhood food stores in N.J.

Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 11:30:00 UTC

N.J. pets in need: Dec. 3, 2018

A tiny sampling of the thousands of pets awaiting adoption in New Jersey.

It's that time of year again, when we spend enormous sums on pets that can't tell us they hate what we got them.

Here's just a sampling of some of the good, the bad and ... the other gifts available for your pets in 2018.


A 'medium dog bowl' from one company costs $32 plus shipping; it must be a water bowl because there's a molded bone sticking up in the middle of it around which the dog would otherwise have to eat. My dog enjoys her water just fine out of a 32-cent Tupperware bowl.

Another company is selling a 'Riviera Dog Bed' for only $398. The picture shows a dog that can't weigh more than 20 pounds taking up most of it. Meanwhile, a name-brand queen size mattress sells for $239, and your dog would prefer to be on a human mattress anyway, as you well know.

There's a pillow that has 'Santa, I've Been a Good Cat' stitched into it and selling for $68. No cat I've ever owned slept on a pillow and the last time I checked, they can't read anyway.

That doesn't mean all pet gifts are ... curious. I also found a beautiful embroidered pet Christmas stocking that comes with the pet's name for $29. And in the spirit of the season, there's a bag of rawhide bones that look exactly like candy canes for $15.99.

And before you picture a doting senior like me as the purchaser of such things, take note: according to a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and reported on, "people in the 17- to 21-year-old age group -- which PwC calls "mature Generation Z" -- will spend an average of $71 on their pets this holiday season."

"Urban dwellers in large cities will spend about the same," the article goes on to note, "followed by fathers between the ages of 22 and 35, who will spend $70 on their pets."

Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 11:30:00 UTC

Vintage photos of things made in N.J.

With apologies to the City of Trenton, "New Jersey Makes - The World Takes."

It's called the Garden State, but more than fruits and vegetables have their seeds planted and nurtured in New Jersey.

Innovative minds have always been some of the state's most valuable assets. And while we all know about Thomas Edison and his inventions, some people may not be aware of the host of other products and innovations that got their start in New Jersey.

MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

This list is incomplete; future galleries will cover even more of the wonderful things "Made in New Jersey."

Be sure to right-click on the links that tell more of the story about many of these 'Made in New Jersey' entries.

Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

Thu, 29 Nov 2018 11:30:00 UTC