Saturday, July 22, 2017

Andy's Angles: Market Street Bridge

I know I'll get an argument from some people, but there are few structures here in our area prettier than the Market Street Bridge over the Susquehanna River, between Wilkes-Barre and Kingston.

Friday, July 21, 2017

I Don't Get It

I will admit that I'm out of the mainstream on several topics.  Food is one of them.

I'm happy with the simple things.  Case in point, I had some time to kill before an appointment last week.  I found myself near a Burger King, so I treated myself to a time killing, but delicious Whopper (no mayonnaise).  It was my first Whopper in a long time, and I loved it.  It will be tough to resist the temptation to try another.

CBS News did a piece on lobsters last week.  There is a record supply.  There is also a record demand, so prices stay high.  No matter.  I'm not a lobster guy.  In fact, I think it's one of the planet's most over rated foods.  I tried it.  It wasn't bad.  I found no reason to have more.

I do enjoy shrimp, which is similar to lobster, and also very expensive.  Unlike lobster, shrimp doesn't need to be dunked in butter.

And while I'm on the food thing, what's the deal with salt?   There is sea salt, kosher salt, and a dozen other variations.  It all tastes the same to me.  I know the cheap stuff has needless iodine and anti clumping additives.  It's supposed to taste metallic when compared to the pure stuff.  I don't detect a difference.  Maybe all those years of drinking diet cola has burned off my taste buds.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


I've been hearing a lot of people complain this summer that their backyard gardens are behind schedule.  I'm not surprised.  We had a lackluster spring.  However, it seems like a recent spell of hot and sunny days should make up for it.  It's the curse of the tomato.  They all seem to ripen at once.  No complaints there.  It means a better chance at getting free ones from friends and coworkers.  That excess had to go somewhere.

I know I yammered on about the weather Monday, so apologies for revisiting the topic too soon.

Farmers' markets are popping up all over the place.  While I have yet to visit one, I have seen the video on Newswatch 16.  It looks like there's a nice selection, so maybe the weather isn't as awful as we believed.

Another summer phenomenon is the lawn getting dry and brown.  Again, no complaints there.  A brown lawn doesn't need to be mowed as often.  Less mowing means a quieter neighborhood.  If you have to sleep during the day, as I do, you know what I'm writing about.

In spite of it all, there's something about the zucchini.  They seem to grow exceptionally well in our area.  I've long suggested a Zucchini Festival to go along with the Pittston Tomato Festival.  It's a tourist event, ripe for the picking.

Strange to say, but I smell fall.  Shorter days have become more noticeable, especially if you're an early riser.  The first of the county fairs, Lycoming, is underway-- and that's a sure sign fall is approaching.

Before all of that, the next highly anticipated event-- the yearly sweet corn explosion.  Increased supply.  Decreased price.  Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Text Book Case

If you want a perfect and shining example of why American brick and mortar retail is failing, and why people are flocking to the internet, this is it.

I stopped at a big box store at 2:00 AM Monday for a couple of cases of water.  Personally, I like tap.  The chlorine makes me feel clean inside.  I have family members who won't touch the stuff.

I grabbed a cart and wheeled it to the back of the store, threw in two cases, and headed for the self serve check out in the front.  I zapped the bar codes with the gun at the register, jammed my credit card in the slot, and headed for the door.

Before I got to the exit, a security guard stopped me and asked to see my receipt.  I replied that I checked out six feet in front of him, ten seconds ago!  He replied that he has to check everyone as they leave.  I supplied my receipt, but I wasn't done with the store yet.  

I told the guard there should be  security personnel in the parking lot because the place was crawling with shady characters.

That will never happen.  Here's why.

If someone steals from your car in the parking lot of the store, that's your problem.

If someone steals from the store, that hurts the company-- and the company feels it's more important than you, your shopping experience, and more importantly, your safety.

By the way, the security guard could not have cared less about my concerns.  Next time, the manager gets a visit.

I guess I can avoid those 2:00 AM shopping trips, but that's when I have time available.  I'm sorry the store cares more about loss prevention than safety preservation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

First Person: Theater Fire

I consult WNEP.com before I begin my short drive to the office every day, so I have a decent idea of what I'll face when I hit the door.  Yesterday, I knew I'd be working on the Middle Smithfield Township theater complex fire.  It doesn't mean the day was cut and dried.

We had a crew at the fire just after it broke out Sunday night, so I had some solid material with which to work, but the story was far from over.  There was a logistical challenge.  I could handle the newest details from our newsroom, or we could race the clock and drive to Monroe County.  Producer Kim and I weighed our options.  I always say "You miss 100 per cent of the shots you never take."  Photographer Jeff and I piled in a satellite truck for the trip to the Marshalls Creek area.  We made it with about 15 minutes to spare.
Today's photos were taken after sunrise, so let me describe the scene at 4:00 AM.  No fire trucks.  No firefighters.  Just a fair amount of smoke and a few small pockets of fire burning in the rubble.  Eerie is an understatement.  The smoke hung low to the ground, and I ate enough of it during my shift.  More on that later.

We spent the morning showing video from the height of the fire, plus live pictures of the aftermath.  Nearby residents started showing up to take a look, as well as a vendor.  They all shared their stories of the movie theater/shopping center/flea market complex.  Thank you.
The fire chief arrived with some new nuggets of information.  A fire truck followed to put out the hot spots.   Photographer Jeff and I took what we had gathered and headed back to the office.  My fingers hit the keyboard.  Editor Erich assembled the piece.  My friend and co-worker Carmella Mataloni was live at the scene on Newswatch 16 at Noon to introduce my piece and add what she had learned.  My day was finished.

I should really add how sad it is to watch a theater burn, even one that had seen better days.  I bored Photographer Jeff in the truck with tales of growing up with places like the Center, the Strand and the Comerford in downtown Scranton.  There were summertime trips to the drive in in Dupont and Dickson City.  I rarely see movies these days.  The family memories are awesome.

Now, some side notes.  I skipped lunch when I got home.  The smoke played games with my stomach.  I headed right for the shower.  I couldn't wait to get out of those smokey clothes.  As I write this, the stench of the smoke is still lodged in my sinuses.  I've been covering fires for a long time.  Some hit you harder than others and this was one of those cases.

I'm very sorry for the people who lost jobs and businesses in the fire.  It would be nice to see the theater complex rebuilt.

Monday, July 17, 2017


I play this silly little game late in the year that helps get me through the long, hard, dark Pennsylvania winters.  The three coldest months of the year are December, January and February.  It means each week is eight per cent of the coldest season of the year.  Temperatures bottom out during the last week in January.  Then, it's the slow climb to something moderate.

I've found winter goes a little faster when you can tick off the time in manageable little bites.

Today, the summer version.  I don't enjoy the heat as much as I once did, and I can't wait for September.

The way I see it, summer is more than half over.  The hottest time of the year, according to records and averages, is July 13 to August 4.  The average highs and lows start slipping after that, but we have had some brutal Augusts.

If you like summer, relax.  There is plenty left.

If you don't, more comfortable temperatures are only a few weeks out.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Tower

Murgas and Marconi knew their stuff.  I've been in broadcasting for decades and I'm still fascinated how pictures get to your TV, and how sound gets to your radio.

This is the radio tower atop the Scranton Times building.  AM 630 and AM 910 come off this tower.

Sometimes, photography is dumb luck.  This is a camera phone shot, and I caught the flash of the aircraft warning strobes.  Neat!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Andy's Angles: Tranquility

I took this one just after sunrise on Independence Day.  It's the Bicentennial Building on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, with one of our mobile newsrooms parked out front.  Our Wyoming Valley Newsroom is on the first floor.

I love how sunrise is reflected off the windows-- a quiet morning with Independence Day mayhem only hours away.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Media Friday

The NBA is eliminating some late game time outs.  It should take the final minutes of an NBA game merely awful, rather than hideous.

Whether or not you agree with it, it was a great line.  Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway and CNN's Chris Cuomo got into a verbal sparring match the other morning.  Conway shot back that CNN has made a conscious business decision to be an anti Trump network.  Cuomo responded with his standard shocked, surprised, stunned, deer in the headlights look.

I read something fascinating the other day.  There will be fewer erectile dysfunction drugs advertised on NFL games because patents are running out, and generic forms will be available before the end of the year.  I'm sure there will be other ads, so networks need not worry.

Former NBC anchor Tamron Hall has hired people to get her a daytime talk show.  Many have tried and failed.  Hall has the charisma to pull it off.

The FCC is considering loosening up the rules for the way radio stations identify themselves at the top of the hour.  Why?  It's necessary and the current system works just fine.

I haven't been watching them, but it's nice to know that game shows are back on network TV for the summer.

My former co-worker, Raegan Medgie, is now working for the local FOX station in New York City.  "The Medge" is one of the good ones.

A while back, I mentioned WECK in Buffalo, an AM station that has returned to full service radio-- news, weather, information, music, disc jockeys, etc.  I've been listening, and I like what I hear.  Several bodies have been hired to make the format work.  Let's hope there is a positive listener and advertiser response to justify the expense.

Peyton Manning was very funny reading a TelePrompter at the ESPY's the other night.  I wonder if he'd be as good adlibbing as a color commentator during a football game.  The guy can write his own ticket.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Making Sense

My job is not to second guess juries, but I've been reading and hearing a lot about the jury's decision in the Jessie Con-ui case in federal court at Scranton.  Con-ui murdered a correctional officer four years ago.  There is no question.  There is video to prove it.  The defense did not contest that part of the trial.

The defense did put its muscle into the penalty phase, and an effort to keep the killer from getting the death penalty.  It worked.  A juror told us it was 11 to 1 for death, but the decision has to be unanimous.  Con-ui gets life in prison.  He was already serving a life sentence for a murder in Arizona.

Never forget, it's a court of law.  It's not a court of justice.  Big difference.

Continuing our law and order theme today...

Governor Wolf recently signed a law stiffening the penalties for animal abuse.  Bravo!  An animal welfare worker told me years ago that there are some people out there who view animals as disposable.  They are not.  That thinking has to change.  It seems like the new law doesn't go far enough.

One more note...

Governor Wolf made a big deal about signing the animal abuse law.  Another law was signed quietly and behind closed doors.  It deals with police body cameras.  The law makes it exceptionally difficult for the public to get a look.  The burden has shifted from the police to the public.  According to the American Civil Liberties Union:  "Now, the requester has to justify why it should be a public record as opposed to the burden being on an agency to explain why it is not."

Yes, not everything should be public record, especially if it would jeopardize an investigation or put officers at risk.  This is all about accountability and keeping everyone honest.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled you have the right to see body cameras.  The new law essentially reverses the court decision.

As I've said here many times before, bad things happen in the dark.

Remember, Pennsylvania is the state where many counties ban cameras in polling places.  Iraq doesn't even do that.