Saturday, July 30, 2016

Andy's Angles: Beer Me

I had been this building a few times over the years, but I never appreciated its history.

Luzerne County used to store its voting machines in this building along Water Street in Wilkes-Barre.  Any time there was a re-canvass, we'd all schlep over here as workers opened up the backs of those big old lever machines, and looked at the numbers once again.

This used to be the Reichard & Weaver bottling house.  A check of www.oldbreweries.com  shows Reichard & Weaver were in business for only four years, back in the 1890's, but Reichard was involved in other breweries around here for a long time.

I hope the new computerized machines are in a climate controlled environment.  The bottling house is still used for storage.  This is the view inside a first floor side window-- deed books stacked up.

For a very old building, this one seems neglected, but in decent shape.  There's a lot of history here, and I wonder if anyone appreciates its value.

Friday, July 29, 2016


Sleeping Homer means only one thing on this blog.  I'm on vacation!

I hope it's better than the week I had off in April.  I came down with the nastiest of colds, and I spent much of my time off in bed.  At least, I didn't have to burn off sick days to recover.

Plans?  None.  Sleep.  Gym.  Bike.  Photography.  Maybe KMart if I'm up to it.  I've gotten to the stage where I really enjoy doing nothing.

While I'm no social butterfly, there are a few open invitations I've left hanging for quite a while.  I can be a better friend.  I admit that.  It's possible I'll get to some this week.  Don't bet on it.  By the time I get out of the "sleep during the day and work all night" body clock mode, it will be time to come back to work.  I don't anticipate any radical changes this week.

Stacy Lange is kind enough to fill in for me this weekend.  The weekend morning broadcasts are in great hands.

I'll see you soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thursday Scrapple

Even though I'm on vacation, I'd be okay with a 60 degree rainy day.

I had a Big Mac the other day, the first one in several months.  It wasn't as big as I'd remembered.

It's nice to be a battleground state again.

I know John Hinckley has paid his debt to society.  The experts say he is neither a danger to himself nor others.  Still, I'm not comfortable someone who tried to kill a president is out on the streets.

Unbelievable amount of storm damage Monday afternoon, and a certain city around here can't even sweep the debris off the streets.

Is there anything as sad and as moving as a law enforcement funeral?  Unfortunately, we've seen a lot lately.

My razor/and shaving blog entries kicked off a lot of comments.  It seems most people hate it as much as I do.  Scratchy beards are even worse.  Yet, I grow a scruffy beard on just about every vacation.

My school experiences also generate a lot of interest.  I didn't like school, but I did like to learn (still do).  There's a big difference.

I actually ventured in to a shopping mall yesterday, something I rarely do around back to school time.  It wasn't that bad.

The Democrats and Republicans did a nice job of designing their convention sets and podiums.  However, the DNC basket weave background isn't really working.

I thought I would have to go to the hospital after this morning's moonlight bicycle ride:  skunk inhalation.  It's been an exceptionally strong summer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Where Were You...

...When the Storm Hit?

I was in my bedroom, checking some news sites on my iPad.  The lights flickered.  All power went out for a few seconds, and this was before the storm really roared in to my neighborhood.

It was then a trip downstairs to the kitchen, to make sure all the windows were closed and everything was tied down.  It got dark and windy.  Heavy fain followed.   I could barely see to the end of the property line.

Hail came next.  It was the size of marbles, the largest I've seen in quite a while.  Usually, hail comes and goes rather quickly.  This episode seemed to last for a while.  I was sure there would be home window and car damage.  Much to my surprise, all my property came through the episode unscathed.

I live on a hill, so it drains rather well.  From what I saw on the news, others areas were not as lucky.  Inches of rain in minutes.  It was more than the ground and storm sewers could handle.  There was flooding and a lot of it.  I saw deep water in areas that rarely flood.

My Tuesday morning ride to work showed some of the damage.  The water had receded, but you could see leaves and branches all over the place.  There is a big clean up ahead.

I consider myself lucky.  Others were not as fortunate.  I'll be very happy when the heat wave ends and things are back to normal.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Razor's Edge

A few people have commented on a recent blog post about my razor situation.  To make a long story short, I wrote that I have a horrible habit of using a razor blade cartridge one day too many.  I leave home bleeding and irritated.

There have been suggestions I go with one of those internet/mail order businesses that ship you inexpensive cartridges on a regular basis.

I tried two:  Harry's and Pace.  Both were okay.  Not great.  I've found that they don't last as long as the big name brands.  So, there's a choice.  Use the cheaper blades and get fewer shaves, or stay with Schick and Gillette.  Pay more and have them last longer.

After trying them all, I'll keep using the more expensive blades.  They simply do a better job.

By the way, Unilever just bought Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion.  Yes, ONE BILLION DOLLARS.  They have to be doing something right.  From what I've read, Unilever needs help building customer loyalty, and Dollar Shave Club is apparently very good at that.

See you at the drug store, stocking up on blades and lotion to soothe my wounds.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Tappan Zee

There was a crane accident last week on the Tappan Zee bridge.  It spans the Hudson River between Rockland County and Westchester County in New York.

It brought back awful memories.

As a kid, I was on the Tappan Zee all the time.  My mom's family had relatives in Bridgeport, CT.  The interstate highway system wasn't complete, so you had to take the Tappan Zee to get there.  It was three miles of terror.  I'd keep my eyes closed for the entire journey across the Hudson.

I don't have many phobias.  Long bridges over big water is one of them.  It's not paralyzing.  I've driven many Hudson crossings over the years.  I've been on those big bridges in Baltimore and Annapolis.   I'll do it, but I don't like it.

While I liked my Aunt Mary and Uncle Al, the trip to get there was always taxing.  In retrospect, it didn't take all that long to get there, but it always seems longer when you're a kid trapped in a car.  On top of that, Bridgeport was not a pretty place.  It wasn't a safe place.  I can still remember walking up all those steps in their Pembroke Street apartment building.  Grey paint.  Park in the back.

I read why the Tappan Zee was built at one of the widest points of the Hudson.  Governor Dewey wanted it far enough away from New York City so the state would keep all the tolls, not the Port Authority.  Thank you, Governor Dewey.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


This school opened a couple of years after I graduated.  It's about 35 years old, but people around here still refer to it as the "new school."

As has been noted here many times in the past, I attended class in horrible, old buildings.  A couple were even condemned by the state-- while they were in use!

Looking back, there were plusses.  There was no high school cafeteria.  We were allowed to wander about at lunch time.  That changed when what you see above was built.  I probably would have gone nuts being locked up for six hours a day.  I need air.

Design?  It looks to be a nondescript brick box.  In all fairness, it's what's inside that counts, and I've never been past the lobby here.  You don't have to be in a Taj Mahal to learn, and I think I proved that back in the decrepit old buildings I was sent to.  However, being comfortable and decent facilities does have its advantages.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Andy's Angles: Prison

Luzerne County, good luck handling this one.

Above is the Luzerne County jail, along Water Street in Wilkes-Barre.  An inmate and a guard died in what's described as a freak accident Monday evening.  They hit an elevator door during a fight.  It opened.  They plunged five floors to their deaths, and the same thing nearly happened to a second corrections officer.

It's triggered a new round of debate over building a new jail.  The one you see above, even though it has a relatively new tower, is more than 100 years old.  Yes, there have been renovations.  When you total up all the recent problems, it appears to be a series of Band Aids on a festering wound.

Off the record, corrections officers have said, in published reports, that the jail features unsafe and inefficient designs.  The new county manager wants to build a new one.

Here comes the tough part.  How do you pay for it?

A full report on the deadly fall still isn't in.  It could be staffing issues and just bad luck played a bigger role than design.

But, if fingers are pointed toward a severely flawed and badly outdated building, how can you not pony up the money to pay for a new building?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cycling Through

This is part bicycling, part life lessons blog entry.

My usual bike route takes me past the homes of two former teachers.  They were among my favorites.  It's an exceptionally short list.

It's the strange thing about the system.   In high school, you spend 45 minutes with a teacher, once a day, five times a week (maybe), for about eight months a year.  By the time you get to know them, it's time to move on to the next grade, or in the cases of the two I mentioned, graduate.

I think of them often, things they used to say, their way of doing things-- and not just when I pedal by their former homes.  Both passed a long time ago.  I sent notes to the families whey they left us.  Those two touched a lot of lives, in very positive ways.

There was something similar when I was in college.  I really didn't get to know my department head until just before I graduated.  Yes, I had him for a few classes.  There was always a little resentment among the radio and tv people.  This faculty member also oversaw the theater department.  We thought he liked them more.  Anyway, he and I had some meetings before and after I wrote my thesis.  Yes, I liked to write, even back then.  I discovered he was a really cool guy.  Unfortunately, the epiphany came just before cap and gown time.  Too late, and our paths never crossed after I received my diploma.  I've been gainfully employed in the biz for more than 35 years.  Some awards.  Good ratings.  I guess that's my way of saying "thank you."

On a lighter note, I recently whined that my wardrobe didn't include lighter clothing for cycling.  I have the warmer stuff, plus tee shirts and shorts.  Nothing in between.  Thanks to the world wide web, that changed recently.  It was neither hot nor cold during my last bike ride, so I donned a windshirt for my journey.  Yes, warmth without the weight.  Unfortunately, it doesn't breathe all that well.  Overall, more positives than negatives.  I also purchased a light weight nylon jacket.  I'll test that one on a future ride.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Unfinished Thursday

A new co-worker asked about the "Scrapple" title for potpourri blog entries.  I don't know how it came to me, but scrapple is a little bit of everything, much like a potpourri.  I can't say I've ever tried it.

I spent most of my Thursday in a hospital waiting room.  No worries.  Everything turned out OK.  Anyway, I was flipping around and watching convention coverage on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX.  I thought the daytime coverage would be fairly straightforward.   The opinion shows come on at night.  Uh uh.  There really is a difference in tone and slant.  I really should mention names, but a lot of what I was was not network caliber broadcasting and reporting.  It all looked great.  Content was a different story.

Many think too much is being made out of the Melania Trump speech plagiarism issue.  Maybe so.  It's so hard to believe such a dumb mistake can be made at such a high level.

James Corden on the CBS Late Late Show took plagiarism to a new level Wednesday morning.  He stole bits from other late night comics for his hour, including a Lettermanesque Top Ten List (including intro), Leno's Jaywalking, and Fallon's thank you notes, and Kimme3l's mean Tweets.  Corden isn't known for clever comedy, but he really hit this show out of the park.  I should Reggie Watts did a pretty good Paul Shaffer impression, and they did a good job of playing Letterman's Late Show theme rather than the usual Late Late Show theme.  I don't know if Corden got to all he teased.  I had to leave.

I recently said I was tired of summer.  Still goes.  On the other hand, I took a moonlight bike ride in the heat last week.  Shorts, tee shirt, and reflective fest.  Exquisite.  I don't wear those space age sweat wicking fabrics.  I like peeling a plain old cotton sweat soaked shirt off my body after a ride.  It smells like victory.  I will say again that heavily padded shorts have changed my life.

A vacation begins at the close of business July 26.  I look forward to more sweat.

The Roger Ailes/FOX thing bothers me.  If true, he should have known better.  He should be punished.  If not true, that's just sad.  Once a reputation is shot, rightly or wrongly, it's nearly impossible to get it back.

Cleveland looked really good this week.  I hope Philadelphia looks even better.  So much history here.  It was always one of my favorite places to visit. Turnpike toll hikes will put a dent in future trips to the land of liberty.

Family and I were hungry on the way home from the hospital, so I stopped at a near by supermarket, with a great reputation for hot and yummy take out entrees.  Maybe I caught them on a bad late afternoon.  Tolerable, but barely.  There are other chains that do it better.