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Monday, July 22, 2019

Fore!

Let's establish a few things off the top.  I have nothing more than a passing interest in golf, and I haven't picked up a club since college.  The folks like it, so I'll watch some TV coverage with them when I get the chance.

Something happened Thursday that blew me away.

British Open in Northern Ireland.  Rory McIlroy, and Irish kid, had an absolutely horrible round, finishing 8 over par.  It was a disaster from the first swing to the last, and in front of his home country fans.  Embarrassing, to say the least.

When McIlroy's round ended, he stopped to talk, live, with a reporter from The Golf Channel.  Most of us, myself included, would have uttered a three word phrase and walked away.  McIlroy didn't.

We are so used to seeing athletes at their worst.

This guy is a class act.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Hot!

It's hot.  Very hot.

Yes, it's dangerous and a nuisance, and darned uncomfortable.

Let's not panic.  We can use a little common sense and we can get through this.

It's been hot before.

My old friend, David DeCosmo, brought up something on his blog, what I call a "geezer" moment.  He didn't have air conditioning as a kid.  Neither did I.  We survived.  Don't ask me how.

All we had to look forward to was that first cool night.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

One Small Step

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.  It was one of my first "where were you when" moments.

I think the first was the RFK assassination in 1968.  It was a ritual in my house growing up:  "CBS Morning News" at 7.  "Captain Kangaroo" at 8.

I remember watching the black and white images of a wounded Kennedy on a Los Angeles hotel kitchen floor, but I remember the moment more from my parents reaction.  Sad.  Horrified.

The Apollo 11 landing was a much different story.  Awe.  You might find this hard to believe, but I was a geeky kid.  I was "in" to books, and listening to the radio, and watching television.  The
Apollo 11 mission was a week of unmitigated joy.

The Apollo glory moments were late at night and early in the morning.  I remember my parents allowing me to stay up late, watching the landing and moon walk sprawled out on the foot of their bed, viewing Armstrong, Aldren, and Cronkite on a black and white portable TV.  It was always Cronkite.  I can still see that TV.  It was big for a portable.  General Electric.  Blue case.  Antenna on top.

I don't remember how long I was able to keep my eyes open, but those awake moments were unforgettable.

Man's greatest adventure.  A kid's memory of sharing a special moment and history with the family.

Friday, July 19, 2019

I Still Don't Get It

I use the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport interchange all the time.  This week, I had my first experience with the new South Valley Parkway in the Nanticoke area.  Both feature roundabouts, and for the life of me, I can't figure out PennDot's fascination with these things.

Drivers don't like them.  They're confusing.  They take up a lot of space.  I see nothing wrong with a nice, clean intersection with a well timed and smart traffic light.  PennDot says the roundabouts are safer and they claim to have the statistics to back them up.

It seems to me the goal is to establish roads and intersections that make drivers feel comfortable and secure.  A roundabout is counter to that way of thinking.

In a stunning display of common sense, PennDot just announced it is abandoning plans for a roundabout along Route 118 in Luzerne County. 

Regardless, we're stuck with them and we have to get used to roundabouts being part of our lives.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Blackout

We saw it again Saturday night, and it's a subject I've prattled on about before-- the fragility of the American infrastructure.  In this case, it was the power grid.  One transmission line, at one substation fails, and a huge chunk of New York city falls in to darkness.  It took about six hours to fix the problem.

New York's governor was right when he said things like this shouldn't happen.

I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

The system is old.  It can be easily overwhelmed.  It can become unreliable.  A book written by Ted Koppel showed the American grid is prone to infiltration by unfriendlies.

A fix will cost trillions and no one wants a power generating station next door, and massive lines running overhead.

We will just have to learn to live with the danger.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Games and Greats

The recent passing of Arte Johnson started me thinking about a game show Johnson hosted on NBC for about nine months in 1977 and 1978.  It was completely forgettable.  To boil "Knockout" down to its essence, contestants were shown four items, and they had to guess which one didn't belong and why.  The show was nothing special.  It didn't last long, and I didn't think Johnson was very good.

It seemed like some of the essential elements were there.  Unfortunately, the show never gelled and and audience never took to it.  I wonder if Johnson would have been a better host if he had a better vehicle.

The same goes for another "Laugh In" alumnus, Dick Martin.  He hosted "Mindreaders" on NBC for 22 weeks in 1979 and 1980.  Martin was a funny guy.  Unfortunately, "Mindreaders" was a dog.  Contestants had to guess the way a celebrity would answer a personal question.  Again, Martin wasn't very good.  I think he would have been better if he had a better game on his hands.

Bottom line:  it's tough for a good host to save a bad show.

Peter Marshall of "Hollywood Squares" fame was asked for a few words after game show legend Bill Cullen died in 1990.  Marshall said Cullen's warmth, charm, and talent kept games on the air long after they should have been cancelled.   There is no higher compliment.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Park

Luzerne County manager David Pedri wants to see more people use Riverfront Park, along the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre.  That's admirable.  It's in a beautiful location and you paid $ 20 million for it.

The park held a concert Friday night.  Above is a screen grab from a Newswatch 16 story.

Good crowd.  Not a great crowd.

While the aesthetics are great, the park has some things working against it. 

There is no close and easy parking.

You have to cross that speedway known as North River Street to get there.

Wilkes-Barre has a perceived crime problem.

I don't know what you can do about the parking.  You can't establish a big lot for only a handful of events a year.

You can do better traffic control on North River Street.

You can increase police presence before and after Riverfront park events.

All in all, this area has a lot going for it.  It should work.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Jim Bouton

Jim Bouton died last week.  80.  He had a couple of great years with the New York Yankees in the early 60's.

Jim Bouton is best known for writing an inside baseball book called "Ball Four."  I read it.  I loved it.

On the other hand...

I don't know if they still do, but baseball clubhouses had a sign, which read "What you see here, what you hear here, what you say here, STAYS HERE."

Jim Bouton betrayed a trust.    Yes, it was just tales of drinking and carousing.  Worse things have been said and done, written about, gossiped about...

"Ball Four" was written and published a very long time ago.  Time passes.  Sins forgiven.

It's still a tough one.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Andy's Angles: The Base

The Scranton Nay Aug Park tree house was closed for months because it was attached to rotting trees.  Steel now holds it up, and I hope it's around for a very long time.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

About the Cover: Treehouse

The City of Scranton needs help in several areas, and there are plenty of projects worthy of attention.

I guess there are higher priorities than a tree house at Nay Aug Park, but I'm glad they came up with the money to fix it.  Everybody loves it.