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News from Ocean County, New Jersey
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    Robert Sachs points out one amendment to a list of demolished shopping malls that didn't include New Jersey sites.

    The Dec. 6 editorial "For N.J. mall, a makeover or Wreck-it Ralph moment," about the Echelon Mall in Voorhees Township, stated that a Wikipedia page about demolished shopping malls in the United States did not list a single New Jersey location. 

    That information is incorrect, since I visited on a couple of occasions earlier in my life a New Jersey mall that I consider to have since been demolished. It was the Seaview Square Mall, located near state Routes 35 and 66, at the northern end of Neptune Boulevard in Ocean Township.

    I've even edited the Wikipedia page about the mall, as anyone who has created an account on Wikipedia can do.

    A new shopping center also known as "Seaview Square" replaced the enclosed mall, and is currently anchored by such stores as Target and Big Lots. To date, I have only been in the Target store, yet I imagine I eventually will stop into some of the other stores there. 

    Robert Sachs, Bayonne

    Editors' note: The Wikipedia page apparently is not the ultimate authority on "demolished" malls, although Seaview Square's individual Wikipedia page classifies it as "repurposed." The same may be true of Wayne Town Center and Mill Creek Mall in Secaucus, which online commenters also say were demolished. 

    Send a letter to the editor of South Jersey Times at sjletters@njadvancemedia.com


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    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?

    Livingonthecheap.com 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.


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    A truly memorable decade.

    If you're not in your 40s or older, you likely don't remember Arthur C. Clarke, a British historian, inventor and writer who hosted a number of television shows in the 1980s. Clarke also co-wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

    In the 1960s, those who looked to what the future might bring tended toward "Jetsons" visions of 21st century America, complete with cities in the clouds and flying cars. Clarke made some of his predictions in 1964 as to what life might be like 50 years later and, unlike his contemporaries, many of his predictions were spot-on.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    While not naming them, Clarke foresaw both internet and cellular technology by noting that people of the future would have instant contact with anyone anywhere on earth and that business could be conducted from any location in the world. He saw what we call telecommuting as becoming available to many workers.

    Clarke predicted robotic surgery and noted that surgeons on one continent could treat patients on another. He saw people volunteering for cryogenic suspension and saw bioengineering, including cloning of animals, as scientific fact in the future.

    Clarke almost perfectly described 3D printers being able to "replicate" solid items and predicted that computers, barely out of the vacuum tube era in 1964, would eventually be able to start thinking for themselves ... artificial intelligence.

    Here's a look at the way things were in New Jersey back when those concepts were science fiction, not fact. And here are links to more galleries you might enjoy.

    Vintage photos of the 1950s in N.J.

    Vintage photos of N.J. in the 1960s

    Vintage photos of the 1970s in N.J.

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


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    Dogs and cat throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    If you're interested in helping homeless animals but aren't able to adopt one, there are a number of other ways you can be of assistance.

    Realistically, not everyone can adopt. People who live in apartments or developments that have no-pets policies fall into that category, as do people with allergies or disabilities that will not allow them to care for pets of their own. Adoptapet.com offers these suggestions for ways people who want to help can participate in caring for homeless animals.

    * Help out at a local shelter. It's not glamorous work by any means, but it's vital and will be very much appreciated. You can do anything from help walk dogs to bottle feed kittens, help clean kennels or cats' cages or even help with bathing and grooming. Contact your local shelter to find out their policies regarding volunteers.

    * If you're handy, you can lend a hand in many ways. Shelters usually need repairs of many kinds, so fixer-uppers can help out like that. If you sew, quilt or crochet, you can make blankets for your local shelter.

    * Help out at an adoption event. Many shelters and rescue groups participate in local events by hosting a table with pets available for adoption. They also hold these program at malls, pet supply stores and banks, and can always use a helping hand.

    * For galleries like this one and for online adoptions sites, often a shelter or rescue group doesn't have the time or equipment to shoot good photos of their adoptable pets. Something as simple as making yourself available to shoot and provide digital files of pet photos can be a big help.

    * Donate. It doesn't have to be money; shelters need cleaning supplies, pet food, toys for the animals and often even things we don't think twice about getting rid of like old towels and newspapers. Every little bit helps.

    If you don't know where your local animal shelter or rescue group is, a quick online search will reveal a number of results. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to get involved but it provides immeasurable assistance.

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


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    Millville is home to the nation's largest holly orchard.

    By now, holiday music has been playing on the radio and in stores for weeks. Some people can't get enough; others can't wait until it's over.

    xmas1962vineland2.jpgLisa Hatala ready to rock out on her brand new Schroeder piano in 1964. 

    There was a time when it was almost an obligation for a top-selling artist to release a Christmas-themed single or album.

    Sometimes, it didn't represent the artist's best work. Esquire magazine ran an article in 2016 that included one writer's list of the worst Christmas songs of all time (by well-known artists, that is). The list includes "Wonderful Christmas Time" (Paul McCartney and Wings), "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (Bruce Springsteen) and "Oh Holy Night" (Christina Aguilera).

    How about the best? We'd have to base that on sales, and music sales have become a lot less simple to count.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    There was a time when sales simply meant the number of records purchased; now, with the internet, things have had to change. There are downloads instead of straight purchases and then there's streaming - according to new parameters set by the Recording Industry Association of America, for example, 150 streams of a song equals one paid download.

    So with that in mind, here are the top 10 Christmas songs of all time through 2017, according to Billboard:

    10.  "Last Christmas" (Wham!) 1984

    9.  "White Christmas" (Bing Crosby) 1943

    8.  "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) 1996

    7.  "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (Andy Williams) 1963

    6.  "A Holly Jolly Christmas" (Burl Ives) 1964

    5.  "Feliz Navidad" (Jose Feliciano) 1970

    4.  "Jingle Bell Rock" (Bobby Helms) 1956

    3.  "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)" (Nat King Cole) 1953

    2.  "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (Brenda Lee) 1964

    1.  "All I Want for Christmas Is You" (Mariah Carey) 1994

    Here's a gallery of New Jerseyans celebrating Christmas through the years. And here are links to more Christmas galleries you might enjoy.

    Vintage N.J. Christmas photos

    Vintage photos of celebrating Christmas in N.J.

    More vintage photos of celebrating Christmas in N.J.

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


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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption at shelters and rescues.

    Better Homes and Gardens (bhg.com) has some sound advice if you've ever felt the impulse to by a pet for the holidays.

    "Adding a pet to the family is a long-term commitment. It's a decision that needs input from everyone who would care for the animal. That's why pets should not be given as holiday gifts.

    The scene has been replayed so often in popular culture that it has come to symbolize the holidays as much as tinsel and candy canes: A shopper, with freshly wrapped packages bulging out of two different bags, casually walks by a pet store window as the snow falls gently around her. The puppies behind the glass, all floppy ears and paws, madly scramble over each other trying to capture the shopper's attention. The temptation is too great. The shopper whisks into the store and impulsively purchases an animal for her beloved.

    This season, many shoppers will buy a dog or cat to give to a friend or loved one. Their motivations can be as varied as the snowflake: Some will buy an animal on impulse, some because they're caught up in the spirit of the season, and some just because the doggie looks so darn cute in the pet shop window.

    None of them is the right reason to add a new pet to the family.

    Adding a pet to the family is a serious, long-term commitment. It's a decision that needs input from everyone who would be involved in caring for the animal. What type of animal would have a personality most compatible with a person or family? Who would be the primary caregiver of the pet? How much will it cost to feed and provide veterinary care? Who would look after the animal during trips? Could someone be allergic to the pet?

    Instead of buying a puppy or kitten as a gift, consider waiting to adopt a pet after the holidays. You could give a loved one a "gift certificate" from a local shelter, or a snapshot of a shelter pet, or even a stuffed animal representing a shelter pet-all which can be used as "passports" to adopt an animal later. This not only promotes responsible adoption, but provides a little fun, too.

    After the holidays, if your loved ones decide they are indeed willing and able to adopt a pet, you can bring them down to the local shelter where they can use their 'passport' to adopt their new friend.

    The alternative to this scenario can be sadder than the Island of Misfit Toys."

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


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    "You don't take a photograph, you make it." -- Ansel Adams

    I'm pretty sure I wasn't alone in giving a mental thumbs up to the TV screen when watching one of the installments in Rocket Mortgage's "Lingo" commercial series.

    In the installment, a couple is in an art gallery near a man who offers his interpretation of a painting of a gray dot. "And here we see the artist making an attempt to bare his soul," he says with emotion ... after which Keegan-Michael Key pops in behind the couple and translates for them: "It's just a gray dot."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    So, as the cliche says, art is in the eye of the beholder. And, it occurs to me -- someone who has combed through thousands and thousands of photographs shot by folks who do not consider themselves artists -- it's sad to think of all of the gallery-worthy art that will never be pondered. In the genre of photography, I can't possibly be the first person to think that if you took the work of everyday people -- those not considered artists -- and hung their pictures in galleries, art would be on display.

    We see photos taken by everyday people that, intentionally or not, mirror many of the things that we've been told make for great art. Here, we're providing a gallery of beautiful photos taken in New Jersey that are more than just gray dots.

    And here are some other vintage photo galleries you might enjoy.

    The vintage N.J. photos that touched us in 2017

    More vintage N.J. photos that are works of art

    Even more vintage photos from N.J. that are works of art

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


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    Consider a new pet in the new year from a shelter or rescue.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    If you're considering a new pet in 2019, think about adopting from one of these or the scores of other shelters and rescues throughout the state.

    We are now accepting dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com.

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


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    Everyone got vaccinated in my generation, and it seemed like we were well on our way to eradicating certain diseases from the face of the Earth.

    As mayor of Bridgeton, public health and community wellness top my list of issues. I imagine it is the same for most mayors in their respective communities. I include in this general category everything from crime prevention, to recreation opportunities, to rising obesity rates, to ensuring clean drinking water. 

    One area that gets less attention by local officials but speaks to health and wellness is vaccines and the illnesses they prevent.

    I know there is division these days on the subject of vaccinations. I come from a generation that didn't question the safety of vaccines, perhaps because my generation was the first to not live in dread of diseases like polio, tuberculosis, measles, mumps, and rubella. I don't know much about the history of vaccines, but things really got rolling in the post-World-War-II period. 

    My generation saw vaccines as an unmitigated good; something that allowed people to live healthier and longer lives. We viewed vaccines as evidence of the wonders of science and viewed the people responsible for them as heroes. Everyone in the developed world got vaccinated back then, and it seemed like we were well on our way to eradicating certain diseases from the face of the Earth. 

    Not so much today. We're going backwards. A growing number of people view all vaccines with great suspicion, believing that some cause unintended illnesses and conditions. I'm not a scientist or doctor, so I won't venture into the science. But I will say that as a mayor concerned with the health of my community, I am concerned by the confusion and division over vaccines and the U.S. reappearance of diseases that seemed well in hand years ago.

    What comes to mind obviously right now is the yearly flu vaccine. Each year, when cold weather comes, we hit flu season and we never know when the outbreak will morph into something unusually severe. Widespread influenza impacts businesses, schools, public services, transportation and everything else. Granted, flu vaccines are a bit of a guess from season to season, and they're not perfect. Sometimes, vaccinated people will still get sick, but chances are good that the shot will make the flu less severe, if you do get it.   

    In addition to the flu, there are increased outbreaks of measles in various places. In November, in Ocean County, more than a dozen people came down with the measles, and the figure has climbed to at least 24 cases statewide. This outbreak was linked to larger clusters of measles in Brooklyn and Rockland County, New York. Health officials traced the initial case there to an international traveler -- which suggests that just one person can trigger an outbreak wherever they encounter groups of unvaccinated people. 

    The list of vaccine-preventable diseases is growing, but the most common are measles, mumps, polio, whooping cough, rubella and diphtheria. When you consider high rates of international travel, combined with the growing number of people who refuse vaccinations for themselves and their children, it is possible that we will soon experience large outbreaks that our great-grandparents would have given anything to avoid.  

    Additional worries come from new and emerging diseases that we're just finding out about now. Something called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is floating around several states, including New Jersey. First diagnosed in 2014, its symptoms are similar to polio, and it mostly impacts younger children. Doctors don't know exactly what causes AFM or how to prevent it. Who knows what's next on the horizon?

    My point is that we need to control those diseases we can control. When it comes to being vaccinated, we should make our decisions for ourselves and our children on objective, verifiable data as opposed to anecdotal evidence and misinformation. 

    I don't have a specific dog in this fight, except that as a mayor, I want residents in my community to be healthy and well. I want them to be able to go about their daily lives so that businesses are open, customers are shopping, students are in class, teachers are teaching, buses and taxicabs are running, public offices are open, police are on patrol and health-care facilities are not overwhelmed. 

    We've got enough challenges these days as we start the new year. Diseases that can be prevented with vaccines shouldn't be among them.

    Albert B. Kelly is mayor of Bridgeton. Contact him by phone at 856-455-3230 Ext. 200.


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    "Get your motor runnin', head out on the highway."

    Asphalt is a naturally occurring building material found in both asphalt lakes and in rock asphalt (a mixture of sand, limestone, and asphalt).

    According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, the first recorded use of asphalt as a road building material was in Babylon around 615 BC, in the reign of King Nabopolassar. Its first appearance as a historical marvel in popular literature might be in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" when she wrote about arriving in Topeka, Kansas:

    "In the very midst of the city, the ground was covered by some dark stuff that silenced all the wheels and muffled the sound of hoofs. It was like tar, but Papa was sure it was not tar, and it was something like rubber, but it could not be rubber because rubber cost too much. We saw ladies all in silks and carrying ruffled parasols, walking with their escorts across the street. Their heels dented the street, and while we watched, these dents slowly filled up and smoothed themselves out. It was as if that stuff were alive. It was like magic."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    New Jersey, first in so many things when it comes to things we sometimes take for granted, was also part of a first for asphalt. In 1870, Belgian chemist Edmund DeSmedt laid the first true asphalt pavement in the Unites States in front of the City Hall in Newark.

    NAPA notes that today asphalt covers more than 94 percent of the paved roads in the United States.

    Here's a look at street scenes from throughout New Jersey, many on roads paved in asphalt. And here are links to other galleries you might enjoy.

    More vintage photos of N.J. street scenes

    More vintage photos of streets and roads in N.J.

    More vintage photos of street scenes in N.J.

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


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    The year 2018 is over, but the drive to 'Clear the Shelters' goes on.

    'Clear the Shelters' is an annual pet adoption drive sponsored by NBC- and Telemundo-owned television stations across the country. More than 91,900 pets were adopted since the 2018 event was launched in July, over 26,000 on August 18 alone. By year's end, a total of 102,686 pets found homes as part of the drive.

    The program began in North Texas in 2014 as a partnership among the NBC and Telemundo stations in Dallas-Fort Worth and dozens of North Texas animal shelters. More than 2,200 homeless animals were adopted that first year, the most in a single day in North Texas.

    The need remains great to find homes for the millions of homeless animals in the United States. The number of animals entering shelters each year is about 6.5 million, 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Though the number has declined from about 7.2 million in 2011, with the biggest drop in the number of dogs, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals end up being euthanized each year.

    On the happier side, about 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted annually and another 710,000 are returned to their owners.

    Clear the Shelters began in North Texas in 2014 as a partnership among the NBC and Telemundo stations in Dallas-Fort Worth and dozens of North Texas animal shelters. More than 2,200 homeless animals were adopted that first year, the most in a single day in North Texas.

    For more information, go to cleartheshelters.com.

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


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    When you least expect it ....

    What's a "candid" photo? Pretty much anything that hasn't been staged. By "staged," I can mean anything from a publicity photo to a group shot of family all standing in the same pose.

    candid-2016003-capemay.JPG 

    Why do we like candid photos so much? A friend of mine explained it, and I can't possibly do any better:

    "There is something compelling about pictures where the subjects don't know they are being photographed. A sort of invitation into a moment in time unfettered by vanity or awareness that just captures a split second of life."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    And even when the subjects are aware of the camera, simply going about living and enjoying life make these photos priceless.

    Always one of our most popular galleries, here are split seconds of life from New Jersey's past, with a few classic photobombs thrown in for good measure.

    And here are link to other similar galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage candid photos from N.J.

    Vintage N.J. candid photos

    Vintage candid photos in N.J.

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


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    Consider a shelter dog or cat for your next pet.

    Petfinder -- an online, searchable database of adoptable animals -- compiled a list of common misconceptions about pet adoption in the hopes that if myths are debunked, more people will adopt dogs and cats from shelters and rescues.

    "I don't know what I'm getting."

    There is likely more information available on adoptable animals than pets for purchase in pet stores. Many of the pets from rescue groups are in foster care, living with their fosterer 24/7; information on their personality and habits is typically vast. Even shelters have a very good idea about how the dogs and cats in their care behave with people and other animals.

    "I can't find what I want at a shelter."

    Not only are their breed-specific rescue groups, but some rescues and shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds. There are even means on Petfinder.com to be notified when certain breeds are posted for adoption.

    "I can get a pet for free from a friend or acquaintance; why pay an adoption fee?"

    The "free pet" from a source other than a shelter or rescue group isn't necessarily free. Adoption fees usually cover a number of services and treatments including spay/neuter and veterinary checkups. Covering these costs on your own would call for spending the following estimated amounts:

    * Spay/neuter: $150-$300
    * Distemper vaccination: $20-$30, twice
    * Rabies vaccination: $15-$25
    * Heartworm test: $15-$35
    * Flea/tick treatment: $50-$200
    * Microchip: $25-$50

    "Pets are in shelters because they don't make good pets."

    Here are the main reasons animals end up in shelters or with rescue groups:

    * Owners have to move, pets not allowed
    * Allergies
    * Owner having personal problems
    * Too many, no room for littermates
    * Owner can no longer afford a pet
    * Owner's health does not allow for pet care

    While no one can say that every pet adopted from a shelter or rescue will work out perfectly, it's important to remember that misinformation about these homeless animals often keeps them from finding loving homes.

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


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    Checking out the Garden State from the sky.

    Although drones and Google Earth may have taken the novelty out of aerial photos, it wasn't all that long ago when one of the more attention-getting illustrations a business could have for a postcard was a picture of its location captured from an airplane. But it was photography from an even higher vantage point that went from eye-pleasing to humankind-helping.

    NASA's earliest satellites in the 1960s provided photos of weather systems allowing meteorologists to more accurately track and predict hurricanes and typhoons. According to nasa.gov, advancements in technology (and its miniaturization) allowed future satellites "to measure the 3-D properties of clouds, smoke and other pollutants in the atmosphere; the speed and direction of wind near the ocean surface; the precise elevation and shape of Earth's surface; and changes in Earth's polar ice sheets."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    The site goes on to note that "airborne observations conducted by NASA played a critical role in helping scientists understand why the Antarctic ozone depletion was occurring - through a connection between meteorology, aerosol/cloud chemistry, and industrially produced chlorine. These findings dramatized the significance of environmental change." The 1988 Montreal Protocol, an international agreement requiring the signatory nations to employ nondestructive alternatives to CFCs, was one of the important results of this research.

    While not taken from quite so high, these vintage photos provide a look at New Jersey from above from years gone by. And, here are links to some other galleries you may enjoy.

    Vintage photos of N.J. from above

    Vintage aerial photos of N.J.

    Vintage N.J. photos that deserve a second look

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


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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We are now accepting dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com.

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