Cumberland Times-News

November 14, 2009

They’re sure to sell out soon

Jan Alderton, Managing Editor

Zhu Zhu pets — fuzzy, battery-operated hamsters on wheels that sell for less than $10 in most places — may be the hottest toy this Christmas season. But it appears the toys will be hard, if not impossible, to find.

Retailers report selling out of the toys as soon as they hit the shelves. And online retailers like Amazon also are seeing the product sellout. If you can find Zhu Zhus on Ebay, it is often with highly inflated prices. The pets come with a dozen accessories, including a carrying case, a house with a kitchen, connecting tubes and an exercise ball and wheel. There are even Zhu Zhu cars.

Toys”R”Us recently released its list of “hot” toys this holiday. Among the offerings are Disney Netpal; Disney Princess: Just One Kiss Princess Tiana Doll; Wii Sports Resort; Mindflex; Laugh & Learn Learning Farm, and Star Wars Fan’s Choice Anniversary Edition Home One Mon Calamari Star Cruiser. A related story about Christmas toy shopping appears on page 1E today....

By the way, Christmas is just 40 days away today. And for those who like the warmer weather and thoughts of spring, Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers will report 96 days from today and spring officially arrives 125 days from now....

While the economy is beginning to look up, the recession will last another year for West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, according to economists at West Virginia University.

A report on the outlook for Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties was presented in Martinsburg last week. It shows residential construction in the region during the first eight months of 2009 fell by 86.6 percent from its peak level during the same period in 2006. The report predicts the region’s unemployment rate will be 8.5 percent in 2010 and then decline to 6.5 percent by 2013....

A Cumberland native was one of five new aldermen elected by Frederick voters last month. Carol (Mullen) Krimm won the seat running as a Democrat candidate.

Krimm has lived in Frederick for nearly 30 years. She is a graduate of Bishop Walsh High School, Frostburg State University and the University fo Maryland. For the past 10 years she worked as a legislative staffer for Delegate Galen Clagett and Delegate Sue Hecht. She and her husband, Alan, are the parents of two grown children, Jennifer Boothe and Kevin Krimm. They also have two grandchildren....

While the spotlight now is on the brand new Western Maryland Health System’s hospital on Willowbrook Road, another new hospital will be opening in another year or so. A new regional medical center on Robinwood Drive in Hagerstown will replace the current Washington County Hospital building on East Antietam Street.

According to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, the old hospital may be demolished once the new center opens. In Cumberland, the city is attempting to finalize a lease with Ridgecrest Investment of Frederick for the old Memorial Hospital. What happens to the former Sacred Heart complex is still uncertain...

An astonishing 44 percent of the members of Congress — or 237 senators and congressmen — are millionaires, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The findings were reported last week by the political Website Politico.

The center said California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is the richest lawmaker on Capitol Hill, with a net worth estimated at $251 million. Other top wealthy lawmakers are Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), $244.7 million; Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), $214.5 million; Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), $209.7 million, and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), $208.8 million.

Senators’ estimated median reportable worth decreased to about $1.79 million from $2.27 million in 2007. The House’s median income is $622,254, down from $724,258 in 2007.

With wealth like that, no wonder many in Congress seem to be out of touch with how difficult it is for many Americans to simply get by paycheck to paycheck....

The Associated Press reports there will be fewer rest stops open for travelers on interstates this Thanksgiving weekend because some states have closed the facilities as part of budget cuts.

In Maryland, the stop along Interstate 70 on South Mountain near the Washington-Frederick county line has been closed since last year and will not reopen until this coming spring. The Bay County Welcome Center on US.301 in Queen Anne’s County has been closed altogether.

Closer to Cumberland, the Sideling Hill Interpretive Center was closed this summer, but the restrooms remain open....

Seen on the Internet — Quotes from famous people:

• “I can resist everything except temptation.” — Oscar Wilde

• “Like everyone else who makes the mistake of getting older, I begin each day with coffee and obituaries.” — Bill Cosby

• “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.” — Erma Bombeck

• “You’ve got to be honest; if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” — George Burns

• “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” — Mark Twain

• “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” — Yogi Berra.

Jan Alderton is managing editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Contact Jan Alderton at jpalderton@times-news.com.