Not long ago, I attended a community event and was seated at a table beside an old friend and his wife.
The couple are climbing toward 80, and the husband asked about the Mirror and my family and then informed me that he was "writing my own obituary."
It sounded as if he intended to include most of his life's details when I informed him that the Mirror, and many newspapers, charge for obituaries. He didn't know that.
"You may want to start editing," I kidded him.
Charging for obituaries is a source of revenue while continuing to provide a public service. It also allows people to make their own decisions on how much of a life story they want their obituary to be. Obituaries can be 100 words or 1,000 words. But if they're all 1,000, we wouldn't have much room for other news.
Which brings us to one of the longer ones we've run lately.
Dr. Mark Holencik, formerly of Houtzdale, passed away at age 56 last week. He was extremely accomplished in all phases of his life, and a reader certainly gained an appreciation for his interests after reading the obit.
One thing that jumped out was his pride in being the only team physician - he served in that capacity for Dickinson College - to be thrown out of a game for an "overly enthusiastic critique" of a referee's call. Holencik completed his duties that day from the stands.
He was "proud and embarrassed as half the stadium cheered and half booed his antics."
Now that's a story worth telling ... even if you have to pay for it.
Back in action
Veteran reporter Phil Ray is back on the job after a six-week absence because of knee surgery.
Ray, who has kept himself in top shape by lifting weights after giving up racquetball, was injured when he dropped a barbell on his leg in the spring.
Even after all these years, no one is more enthusiastic about this job than Ray, and his return to the Blair County courthouse brought smiles and a lot of ribbing.
Commissioner Terry Tomassetti was among those playfully giving Ray a hard time.
The next day, Tomassetti, who has some knee problems himself, showed up to work with a cane.
The annual Wolf Furniture golf outing last month, which raises money for charity designated by respective Wolf stores, was marred by the image of the WTAJ-TV van having its back window shattered.
The van was parked about 30 yards behind the No. 18 green, an uphill par 4 that typically requires a short iron on the second shot.
The culprit hit a short iron, all right, but he "sculled" a line drive, knew it was trouble and opened the awards banquet with an apology, which WTAJ accepted.
After all, the remorse - and the errant shot - came from none other than Doug Wolf.
Here's hoping you've seen announced plans to make MirrorMoms.com a free glossy publication that will come out quarterly, beginning with a holiday focus in November.
The current tabloid will no longer be included with the Mirror but will be available at numerous sites such as hospitals, doctors offices, day-care and recreation centers.
If you'd like to subscribe via and receive by mail, call Dan Slep at 946-7426 (Dan's mother, our most loyal reader, was the first to do so.)
The Sept. 20 issue of Moms will be the final monthly issue before the publication morphs into its new and improved format. Of course, the MirrorMoms.com website remains a daily source for news and interaction.
And fear not, Scott Franco fans: Our Mirror "dad" will continue his column in the quarterly and, as a bonus, will jump into our Sunday rotation.
Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.