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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Andy's Angles: Adventures in Retail

I won't mention the name, but you know what I'm talking about.  It's the big box retailer that's open all night.

I get caught in the trap on a regular basis.  About once a week, usually around 4 AM, every cash register in the entire store shuts down.  I was told it's for computer updating, and things like that.  Notice the big red null on the screen and my basket of stuff, with a soda bottle on the right.

This is simply bad business practice.  Can't they switch to a back up server?  Can't they do it in two batches?  Do they really need every cash register in the store to go off line?  People are waiting to give you money, and you can't take it!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Vacation

It's Sleeping Homer's last appearance of 2018.  Yes, I'm burning off my last vacation week of the year.  I still have a few scattered days off to exhaust, but this is the last hunk of time for a while.

Plans?  None.  Errands.  Maybe a little shopping.  Some photography.  Gym.  Lunches with friends.  Sleep.  Plenty of sleep.

The broadcast, once again, is in the very capable hands of Stacy Lange.

See you later.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sears

Sears declared chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.  Above is a picture of the old Wyoming Valley Mall store.  I've been reading quite a bit about Sears, trying to figure out what went wrong.

It seems to be a cluster of epic proportions.

First, Sears was becoming irrelevant, and it was a slide that started years ago.  Home Depot and Lowe's did tools, appliances and hardware better.  A dozen, at least, other stores did clothes better.  There wasn't much left for Sears.

Sears and KMart combined.  Stores looked tired and stale.  There was really no reason to go there.  Management didn't invest in the product.  Jobs lost.  Customer service suffered.  It just wasn't fun to shop there.

The company now has a fraction of the stores it once had.  It's tough to cut your way to profitability, and from what I read, no one in the financial or retail industry believes Sears/KMart will last long past Christmas.

It makes me sad.  Like most people my age, we have fond memories of Sears, especially the catalog, and especially especially the Christmas Wish Book.

Even more people are bound to lose their jobs because more stores are closing.  There will be a ripple effect.  Damaged malls will lose even more foot traffic.

A lot of blame is being placed on ownership, and that seems appropriate.  However, the Sears department store concept is just about shot, and I'm not sure anyone could have stopped it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sid

In this market, when you said or heard "Sid," people knew exactly who you meant.  Sid Michaels.  In politics, he was Sid Michaels Kavulich.

Sid died yesterday after a battle with heart issues, and I am sad.


Our paths crossed many times over the years, first as a competitor.  Always kind, always gracious.   He started in radio and moved to TV, much as I did.  He was part of the local fraternity.   Sid was one of those schtick-less sportscasters.  The athletes and the games were the stars.  As I said when Mike Remish died, kids were lucky to have Sid in their corner.  A true professional.

Sid was always on the phone when he went to the state house, looking for publicity, not for himself, but for some project or business in the 114th.

Here's what set Sid apart in my book.  I'd often run in to him, with my mom, at St. Peter's Cathedral or St. Ann's Basilica in West Scranton.  He was always exceptionally nice and complimentary to my mom, saying nice things about me, which made her feel like a million bucks.  He was great when mom was at my side.  He was great when mom was there with my sister, and I wasn't around.  If you're nice to my mom, you are number one in my book.

Sid left us too early.  My sympathy to his family, friends, fans and constituents.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Gone

Four Panama City, Florida FM radio stations are off the air because of Hurricane Michael, and the owner says they will stay silent.  It doesn't make economic sense to rebuild.

That's sad.  Very sad.

I don't know what the owner's insurance situation is.  I'm guessing, it's not very good.

According to published reports, the tower that handles the studio to transmitter link toppled and punched a hole in the studio roof.  You can imagine the wind and water damage inside the building.

I'm sorry for the people of the panhandle who are losing a source of entertainment, and I would hope, information.

I'm sorry for those radio people, now without jobs.

You have to wonder about the economics of a business where it's more advantageous to sell the licenses, or stay dark, rather than rebuild.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Drive Through

A USA Today story says research from a magazine shows Burger King has the fastest drive throughs.  McDonalds is among the slowest.

With rare exception, I'm not a drive through kind of guy.  It's been my experience that you can get in and out a little faster if you actually venture in to the building to place and receive your order.  Plus, I usually get my food and sit in the restaurant to eat it because I enjoy the decor.

The story did not explain the methodology used in the research-- but so many things can affect the speed of your order.  I'm usually stuck behind a huge family with tons of special orders.  On the inside, invariably, there is a trainee struggling with the process.

By the way, there is always job shaming when it comes to fast food jobs.  I don't get that.  It looks extremely difficult to me, especially when a bus load of hungry tourists arrives at the door.

And another aside, I marvel at the length of the lines at Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds in the morning.  Is a coffee really that important? 

McDonalds is experimenting with touch screen ordering, something Sheetz has had for years.  The McDonalds system is a little different, because you can pay at the ordering terminal.  I tried it out recently.  No issues.  But then again, I only ordered a diet soda, and the restaurant was empty at the time.  It would be nice if Sheets offered that option.  It eliminates one step in the process, and waiting in a Sheetz line is one of the major flaws in its operation.

I don't think drive throughs will ever go away, but the business is changing.  The pizza chains allow you to order and pay on your phone, and pick up your pies at the store-- or have them delivered.

I thought broadcasting and journalism were challenging because of the constant changes.  The food industry is giving us a run for the money.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Andy's Angles: Trains

It's front and back today.  Clearly, this is the front.
And this is the back.  Cabooses disappeared long ago.  I've noticed freight trains are now using a strobe on the last car to signal the end, and for safety.  It's not the same.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Andy's Angles: Steamtown

This weekend's photos have been in the queue for a while.  Other things jumped ahead of them.  They are from a recent trip to the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.  These photos are from the adjacent rail yard.
As noted in earlier entries, I do enjoy watching the diesels roll past.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday Scrapple

I don't need someone standing in the middle of a hurricane to tell me it's bad.

George Harrison's "Crackerbox Palace" is an underrated song.

I've been shopping for days, and I can't find a home office chair that I really like.

MLB Network has great coverage during the season.  Yet, I find misfires during the post season.  The same goes for TBS.

It didn't get a lot of attention, but Conan O'Brien recently ended his hour long shows.  He'll be down to a half hour after a three month hiatus.  I enjoyed O'Brien's evolution over the years.  He began as a nervous bloke, who did awful interviews, and tried to be funnier than his guests, rather than bringing out the best in them.  After 20+ hears, he learned to perform with a lot of heart.

I'm very happy cooler weather is back.

Banksy is on the verge of becoming more annoying than creative, and some will say he's already crossed the line.

What can you say about the video coming from the Florida panhandle?  Entire neighborhoods, wiped out.

I know we had a lot of rain in a short amount of time Thursday morning, but I shudder to think about the state of storm sewers in a particular city here in our area.  They overwhelm easily.

There are few things in life cuter than a chipmunk.

Silly me.  I thought the Giants had a shot last night.  So many teems have "out of control" players these days.  Fans notice.  Even though TV ratings have rebounded a bit this season, it has to hurt in the long run.  I enjoyed Howie Long's candor on the FOX pre game show.  Long is never mentioned as one of the sports TV stars.  Yet, he always has something interesting to say.

I could not name one Taylor Swift song.  Yet, I am in awe of the way she dominates the music industry and the awards competition.

Any time I see huge lottery jackpots, I'm tempted to buy a ticket.  And then, I think of the odds.  The money stays in my wallet.

A new Neil Armstrong movie is coming out.  Apollo 11 is one of the great stories of our lifetime.

Here we go again-- more proof that it's tough to hack your way to profitability.  Several organizations report Sears is nearing bankruptcy, and banks are pushing for a liquidation.

A woman at a furniture store yesterday asked me if I work for The Weather Channel.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Insanity

It has been said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.  I actually watched the second episode of the "Murphy Brown" reboot the other day.  Like the first, it was a relentless bashing of one side of the political spectrum.  While I enjoy the scenes with Murphy and her son, I'm done.  I'm out.  It's just not funny.  It seems to have worked for some cable networks, liberal and conservative, but I have to wonder about a business model that involves automatically alienating half of the audience.

Speaking of insanity, a TV news reporter in a small Minnesota town was recently fired for wearing a "Make America Great Again" cap to a Trump rally.  I don't know what kind of employee the reporter was, but if he was a good one, a long suspension would have been a more appropriate punishment.  Be that as it may, in what universe did this reporter think wearing that cap, on the job, was acceptable?  I have a news flash for you.  Every reporter has likes and dislikes when it comes to elected officials and political candidates.  The good ones leave their preferences at home.

How about the insanity of those who believe massive cuts can lead to profitability?  As I type this, Sears/KMart, a company that's closed HUNDREDS of stores, is said to preparing a bankruptcy filing.  The company hasn't made a profit in eight years.

And, one more before I hit "publish" for the day...  The New York Yankees were knocked out of the baseball playoffs Tuesday night.  That means I won't have to listen to John Sterling's obnoxious, un-funny and self aggrandizing home run calls until March.  Sterling is 80.  He's had a great career, and he deserves to orchestrate his own exit.  I hope it's time.