Sunday, April 26, 2009

Local Student Wants to Help Out in Haiti

To find the published article posted on the site, click here:
West Morris Mendham High School Junior, Fabian Bock, knows how bad it is in Haiti right now, as he’s been keeping an eye on it for years.

“If you watch the news, you’ll see that there have been hurricanes in Haiti,” Bock says, “[and] when hurricanes hit Haiti, there are landslides [because] there are no more trees in the forest, it’s just clear cut.”

The problem lies in the absence of trees, Fabian believes, as the trees are used as charcoal for a source of fuel in Haiti.

“In the places like the Dominican Republic, [these floods don’t happen],” says Bock, who is both the President of the International Club, as well as a member of the Environmentalist club at school, “it’s because they still have trees [in the DR].”

Bock is not just all talk though, as he actually plans to do something about it when he goes with the Dayspring Ministries in Chester for their trip over to Haiti for his first time, something the Ministry has been doing for years.

“We’ve been going to the Light & Peace Mission in Haiti for the past 11 years now,” says Dayspring Ministries Executive Director, Carol Hawthorne, “We work with seven schools, have an orphanage, a medical clinic, and also a nursery home for the elderly widows.”

Besides going there to help reforest, Bock will also be doing another good deed for all of the Haitian children who may have lost a home in one of the four hurricanes last year—start up a Haitian soccer camp.

“I find that soccer can not only help these people,” Bock says, “But it can also give them hope for the future.”

Bock, a soccer player himself, who, after an injury, had to stop playing for the high school team but now plays for the club team, has also been reaching out to people to gather up equipment such as soccer cleats, uniforms, shin guards, and soccer balls to take over with him when he goes to Haiti on the 18th of this month.

“We’ve received a tremendous amount of support,” Bock says, referring to the amount of donations he’s received thus far, “Much of it coming from soccer players, coaches, and teachers. We’ve received 60 jerseys already.”

Hawthorne thinks Bock is doing a great job getting the word out there.

“He’s quite the kid and very impressive,” Hawthorne says, “He’s gone to great lengths to advertise what he’s doing.”

And Bock is in awe of just how generous people can be.

“It’s great how people are trying to contribute,” Bock says, “by giving in their items from home.”

For questions on how to contribute, contact Fabian at 908-879-0332 ( or Carol Hawthorne, 908-879-6116 ( You can also sponsor a child for the soccer camp with a tax deductible donation of $25. The drop off locations are the containers near the entrance of Chester Schools (Dickerson, Bragg and Black River Middle School) and West Morris High School.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Wii Is For Girls, And That's Why Nintendo Is Screwed

Nintendo made the Wii for girls. Oh, and grandmas, too, who are like girls, except with more wrinkles and better oatmeal cookies. But you know who the Wii is NOT for? People who play video games consistently, i.e. guys, and that’s why the Nintendo Wii is doomed for failure in the long run.

Coming out the gate like a Meatloaf bat out of hell, the Wii is seeing a slight dip over in Japan, and it won’t be long before it starts realizing it over here, too, and that’s because the Wii is targeted to the kind of audience that might see it as a cute little fad now, but in the future, they’ll move on and forget why they ever thought Wii Sports was so great in the first place. Oh, yeah, because they got to make Mii’s that looked just like them and their friends, and who knows, even Michael Jackson, pre-scapel surgery, but that thrill could only last so long, you know?

Why the abrupt disdain all of a sudden from me, though? Because I just read that MadWorld, which I actually reviewed on this site, only sold 66,000 copies. Sixty-six THOUSAND! Come on, people, that’s pathetic! And this is a genuinely good game, too. If it had been on either the 360 or the PS3, I think it would have fared much better.

But do you know why the game is currently flopping all over the floor like a newly removed goldfish from its bowl? It’s because the audience that would actually PLAY a game like MadWorld on the Wii has already jumped ship. Out of the ten guy friends I know who actually once owned a Wii (Oh, and FYI, I actually have over 20 female friends who own a Wii), only ONE of them hasn’t already sold it for some 360 games and a bag of corn nuts, and that’s only because he’s holding out for ‘Lil Mac and Punch-out!!. So if it weren’t for that game, he would have sold his Wii a loooong time ago.

But you know what, I think I can be honest with you people. Remember that guy I was talking about just a moment ago who still owns a Wii (I should HOPE so, it was just in that last paragraph), that last guy was ME. Every other guy I know has already given up on the Wii, and it’s always for the same three reasons. One: Playing games online is a hassle, Two: All the system has is shovelware, and Three: They don’t have any games for ME. And it’s the third one that’s REALLY disappointing, because it’s just not true. But Nintendo wouldn’t have you believe that, oh no, absolutely not.

And if you don’t agree with me, then tell me THIS, you jaded gamer, you. How many commercials have you seen for MadWorld since it came out? I’ll wait. Well, if you can’t come up with a figure, I can, and I can do it with only one hand. But do you know what I’m DOING with that one hand? I’m curling my thumb into my forefinger and making a big, fat zero, because I haven’t seen a single commercial for it, and that’s a crying shame. I know there MUST be one (Even though, I can’t seem to find one on YouTube to show you), but if there really isn’t, then that just PROVES that Nintendo is trying to hide that mature games actually EXIST on their console. In other words, sure, they want to make it SEEM like they still cater to the hardcore crowd with games like MadWorld and No More Heroes, heck, they’ll even PROVE it by giving a thumbs up for a second No More Heroes even though the first one didn’t sell for pinto beans. But they won’t advertise these games at all, hoping that word of mouth will be strong enough to carry them through.

Well, all I have to say to this idea is will you just get OFF it already, Nintendo? As much of a fan as I am of you (And believe me, my love for you is dwindling by the microsecond), even I have to call you out on abandoning your true fans on this one.

I mean, yeah, the Nintendo DSi is fine and good for a more casual crowd, as handhelds have ALWAYS been more about being an accessory and a travel tool than anything else (I even bought my girlfriend a pink DS, and she can’t put it down). But a home console means so much more than just that, and to just give it to the girls and the grandmas seems like so a terrible marketing plan. I mean, come on, Nintendo, you guys once had a commercial for making Mii’s Making Mii’s! What guy is going to want to do THAT for more than ten minutes? And if there ARE guys like that out there, then there’s always Animal Crossing to fill the void (Hey, don’t diss Animal Crossing, that game’s the shiznit).

So, yeah, the Wii is for girls and grandmas and that’s why it’s going to fail. If you don’t agree with me, the comment box is below.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nintendo Worried About Its Future

In a recent article on Kotaku, they comment on how the Wii may be losing its grip on the precipice that is the console war in Japan. Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, said that the Wii is in a very “unhealthy condition,” right now, and that the PS3 is actually outselling the Wii for the first time ever in 16 months. That’s a big deal!

The article also goes on to say that the one thing Nintendo DOESN’T want to do is have a price cut, as a price cut in a economicly vulnerable time like today wouldn’t really bare any fruits in the long run, so it’s not even worth doing. They might be right on that one.

People on the message boards have been jumping on Nintendo for making their games too casual, alienating the hardcore crowd that’s crucial to maintaining a staying audience. I agree about that point on many levels, but have to put the brakes on a bit here before we start saying things that don’t entirely add up.

While it IS true that the Wii is pretty much lopsided when it comes to hardcore games to shovelware garbage, the games that ARE hardcore aren’t selling like apple fritters, either. Madworld, a game I reviewed on this site, isn’t posting up Wii Play like numbers, and neither was No More Heroes (In fact, with the latter, it’s amazing that they’re even making a sequel AT ALL for that one, as the first game didn’t do well). I mean, seriously, even a tried and true franchise like Resident Evil wasn’t posting big boy figures on the Wii. Granted, it was a game that was a couple of years old already, but still. Nintendo has TRIED its hand with the hardcore and has landed smack dab on its nosebone. In other words, my girlfriend, who doesn’t really like video games unless they have the words, “Cooking,” and “Mama” in them, did not buy a Wii to impale people on a moving train in Madworld. She bought it for Wii Sports and Wii Resort and any other trash with the words Wii and, add your own word for monotony here.

The Wii might be faltering, but I don’t think it’s because of a lack of hardcore games, as those don’t sell anyway. Really, all Nintendo has to do is make their casual games better. Only then will they retain their grip on the edge that they seem to be slipping from.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Walking to Keep Kids Smiling

To see the article on the site it was published on, click here:

Kaitlyn Shannon Cross is a cute kid. With mid-afternoon blue eyes, frenzied, curly hair, and a playful smile, she might be mistaken for any other child. But she’s not just like any other child. Kaitlyn was born six weeks premature with a congenital kidney defect and a diagnosis of End Stage Renal Disease, something that has been addressed and rectified with the most urgent and loving care.

Kaitlyn received a kidney from her mother, Kelly Cross in a life saving transplant procedure when she was just 17 months old. “Another transplant, perhaps two, are likely in her lifetime,” said a close family member.

Now, three years old, Kaitlyn is in good health, due in part to the volunteers who have been working with the non-profit, Children’s Organ Transplant Association (C.O.T.A.) in raising funds in the greater Long Valley, NJ area, as the cost of any transplant can cost upwards of $500,000.

One such volunteer is Long Valley resident Mike Gaskill, who is organizing a Walk-A-Thon to acquire donations for families like Kaitlyn’s with medical costs that are not covered by insurance.

“All of us are fairly new at this,” Gaskill says of organizing the event with three others, “But I have to say, so far, we’re having great success.”

The Walk-A-Thon, which will be held on April 26th from 1 to 5 PM in Rock Spring Park, East Springtown Rd. in Washington Township, is just one of many activities to raise money for children in need of organ transplants. Last year, there were both a quilt raffle and a golf outing that were both very successful events. This year, there will be another golf outing on June 8th at Minebrook Golf Club in Hackettstown.

“I’ve just tried to stuff together,” says Tom Cross, who has been acting as a campaign coordinator for all of the C.O.T.A. for Kaitlyn events thus far, “I’ve been fortunate enough to recruit good people to help.”

Those good people often make up the entire community, though, as emphasized by Mike Gaskill’s outreach to local stores and schools around the area to get as many people involved as possible.

“We got ShopRite here in Mansfield and Sam’s Club [to help us out with goods], Gaskill says, “We’re also getting ambassadors for Kaitlyn.”

These said ambassadors are actual students from all four elementary schools and one middle school in the area who will be going door to door to ask for donations and sponsorship for the Walk-A-Thon. Gaskill is currently in talks with the high school, as well.

“Our goal is to raise $7,500 dollars,” says Gaskill, who is also trying to get the parents of the ambassadors involved, too, so they can acquire more funds and also go with their children when they go door to door in the neighborhood, “[and while] We don’t quite know the number of ambassadors yet, our hope is to get [at least] 5% support, so we should be looking at 150 kids.”

At the Walk-A-Thon, there will also be family entertainment, carnival games, and also refreshments to raise some money.

“I met Kaitlyn as a bundle of energy at 18 months,” Gaskill says, whose main focus in all this is to make sure that Kaitlyn stays like that for the rest of her life, “But she still requires medical attention and support.”

If you are interested in helping children like Kaitlyn, visit the C.O.T.A. website at And if you want to help Kaitlyn directly, visit her personal page at

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Long Valley Girl Scout Gives Back To The Troops

To see the edited version as it appears on the site (With a picture!), click here:

Eighteen year old West Morris Central High School student, and Girl Scout, Jessica Lynn Hughes, only needed to put in 65 hours of community service to acquire the highest honor a Girl Scout can attain—the prestigious Gold Award. But Jessica’s project, which involved donating DVDs, gift cards, cookies, and a video game system to a Kentucky Fischer House, which is a not-for-profit foundation that houses the families of patients who have been injured in war, took a whole year to complete hers.

The reason: “There was a lot of paperwork involved,” Hughes says.

Hughes, who is also the Captain for the RelayForLife at her school, which is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and is a walk for those who either have cancer or have already died from it, did all of the paperwork on her on, but the rest of the fundraiser—attaining the materials and making the cookies, all came from help from the community.

“[When choosing my project], I knew I wanted to do something with kids,” Hughes says, who enlisted scouts in her troop to help, “I wanted to involve the younger girl scouts.”

Outside of her troop, though, who helped make the cookies, she also enlisted another person to aid her in her cause—her Weichert Associate mother, Kim Hughes, who got coworkers to chip in and donate money for the troops.

“I thought it was a worthwhile cause,” says Kim Hughes, “and she [Jessica] just rolled with it.

Outside of the parents of the Girl Scouts who donated most of the DVDs, and Kim Hughes’ business partners who raised the money, Jessica also reached out to Walmart for help, as she heard that they were up to donate materials if it was all for a good cause.

“[Walmart] donated $50,” Jessica says, who got the idea to donate to the Fischer House from her advisor.

This isn’t the first time Jessica has worked for the betterment of others, though. For her silver award, Jessica ran a day care around Christmas for parents to leave their children there so they could go buy presents for the holidays. And for her bronze award, she wrapped presents for kids in a foster home. But neither of those was as big as this recent one, which had the soldiers so grateful for her offering that they wanted to thank her personally.

“After my project was over, some of the soldiers contacted me and wanted to visit to talk at our school,” Hughes said, “but our schedules conflicted.”

Even so, her contributions were felt, and her mother knew she had it in her all along.
“I’m blessed,” Kim Hughes says, “She’s a very community minded person.”