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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Classic Andy's Angles: Elephant

Once upon a time, Scranton had a zoo.  It was at Nay Aug Park, and it had big cats and monkeys, and an elephant.  Unfortunately, it wasn't a pleasant place for the animals.  They slowly went away.  The elephant was among the last to leave, and she was trucked away in 1989.  This photo was taken shortly before Toni was transferred to a much bigger and better place, a zoo in Washington, DC.  Toni is no longer with us.  The memories of family Sundays at Nay Aug Park will be with me always.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Morning Meeting

We're heading in to a holiday weekend.  The last days of summer are upon us.  Let's take a break from the weighty issues of the day and have a little fun.

I was on Maple Street in Wilkes-Barre last week, near General Hospital, when I happened to look up.  A line of birds was on the parking garage, enjoying the late summer morning sun.
Enjoy the day and the weekend.  I'll see you later.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Year Two

Today marks my second anniversary of being a bicycle owner (and rider).

As I said last year, on the last Thursday of August, my only regret is not doing it sooner.

It's a great way to burn off a few calories and tone the legs.  Snedeker warned me of another benefit.  My rides aren't nearly as long as his, but Joe said I'll enjoy the solitude, and I really do.  When you're out there, it's just you, the bike and the road.  The situation is elevated a bit in my case because I ride before the sun comes up.  Other than the occasional drunk driver and stray cat, I generally have my small town streets to myself, and it's a nice feeling.

If you've been kicking around getting a bike, do it.  You can probably find some end of season deals.  Buy it from a store where the employees know what they're talking about.  You might pay a bit more in the beginning, but it's worth it in the long run.

See you on the streets.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday Scrapple

A credit union is owned by its members.  I wonder how the people involved in a local credit union feel about paying $500,000 for the naming rights to a high school football stadium.  Yes, it's nice to do things for the community, but this one carries a hefty price tag.

Never saw "Breaking Bad," so I don't know if it deserves all the Emmys.  I did see the Robin Williams tribute at Monday night's broadcast, and I thought it was well done.

The Craig's List Killers have pleaded guilty in Northumberland County.  Now, they will go to jail and we'll never have to look at them, ever again.

A national pizza chain is coming out with a pretzel crust pizza.  Intrigued, but I don't think the chain has any stores around here.

Burger King and Tim Horton's are merging.  I've never been in a Tim Horton's.  I read where it's like a Canadian based Dunkin' Donuts.  The combination sounds interesting.  Maybe it can get BK off the under-performing list.

Labor Day is coming, and that usually signals the start of the fall campaign season.  Candidates take it up a notch.  In the Pennsylvania governor's race, it never really slowed down after the primary.

I've been looking at new cell phones again, and I'm far, far from pulling the trigger.  Why do cell phone companies make the process so complicated?

There's been sports talk radio chatter that this year's Little League World Series will help youngsters think baseball is cool again.  I'm not sure, but I hope so.

I regret not picking up a tennis racket when I had the chance to, in college, many years ago.  It seems to be one of those sports that's a thousand times more fun to play than it is to watch.

CNN is getting rid of hundreds of employees.  One of the bosses said the will do "less with less."  It's so sad.  CNN used to be THE place to turn to get the news and a serious newscast.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back

My Monday morning assignment was a "back to school" story.  It's one everyone in the business has done several times, and it's always fun.  Kids are anxious and nervous.  The same goes for the parents, teachers and administrators.

Thanks to Pittston Area for access to the middle school.  It's nice to be known and trusted.  When I said we were doing a feature, they knew they weren't being tricked just to get a camera in the building.

After giving it some thought, photographer Dave and I came up with an unusual hook-- a teacher who is retiring in June, making this her "last first day."  We had a nice talk.  My story went two minutes and five seconds, an eternity in TV time, but it flowed nicely.

Watching those kids enter school yesterday triggered my "first day" thoughts.

I hated going back in elementary and junior high.  As I grew older, I couldn't wait to get the school year started.  I liken it to a prison inmate anticipating his release date.

We always, always went back after Labor Day, and I'm sorry most school districts have gotten away from that.  I understand the reasoning.  School districts seem more willing to pull the trigger on snow days in this modern area, so this keeps the school year from stretching in to mid and late June.

Our time was spent at Pittston Area Middle School, and it really is true.  Girls develop faster.  Boys have to wait a bit longer for their growth spurt.

What's up with the enormous backpacks?  I never had that much stuff to carry, and some of the backpacks appeared larger than the children.

Some things haven't changed.  Most of the kids were struggling with their locker combinations.  I was never good at combination locks, either.

Even though the school had its share of high tech stuff, learning is still learning

I told the staff at the school that I'll be back in June.  Here's to a happy, safe, and fast moving school year.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Monday in August

Today is the 35th anniversary of my first day as a college freshman.

I guess, it was technically yesterday, but I don't count orientation.  I blew off most of that stuff, especially the forced socialization.  It was a waste of time.  Just point me toward the big classroom building and tell me where to park.  Oh, and where's the men's room and the soda machine?

I was exceptionally grateful my parents gave me the opportunity for a higher education, but looking back, the overwhelming emotion of the day was terror.  Intense, intense terror.

Back then, the college handed you your schedule for that first semester.  I was blessed with 18 credits.  I didn't know you could make adjustments.  I just swallowed hard and tried my best with that difficult schedule.

Now, you have to remember, I came from a public school, and a horrible one at that.  This was my first exposure to foreign language courses in three years.  Plus, there was the new territory of religion, hard core psychology, philosophy, and literature.  Literature?  The only poetry I read was on the bathroom walls of my old high school., and it was some fairly creative stuff.  I doubt the people at my college were interested in having me share it.

I was itching to get involved in my major, but you know how freshman years are.  It's all theory.  No "hands on."  I was bored to tears, but I did realize to get to the good stuff, you have to sit through the tedium of theory classes.

Luck was on my side during those early days.  There was a high school friend at the same college who provided a familiar face and plenty of laughs.  We were in the same boat.  We always asked each other "How did we land here?"    I did become friends with several of those in the communications department.  They were a good bunch, and I'm still in touch with a few, even after all these years.  And, no, these aren't shallow, cheap, and easy Facebook friendships.

The freshman year was the toughest.  You learn the routine.  You learn how it works, and the last three years fly by.  I was glad I had those 18 credits.  It meant a much lighter schedule in later years.  I think I stayed at 18 credits through my sophomore year, and I took classes every summer to get ahead of the game.  By the time my senior year rolled around, I was barely on campus.

I can still remember that first day, vividly.

I felt out of place, but I suspect just about everyone else there was going through the same thing.  That's what being a freshman is all about.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Andy's Angles: More Diesels

The green, black, and gold color combination has always been one of my favorites.  Imaging my glee when I spotted this engine in the yard off Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton on a recent sunny morning.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Andy's Angles: Working

I was wandering around Steamtown a few weeks ago, when I drifted over the working tracks at the edge of the years.

As you know, I love the diesels, and this bunch was getting ready to pull out.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Okay, Now What?

For a long time, New Jersey and Pennsylvania looked at the casino industry as free money.

Was there another option?

Atlantic City was a disaster.  It needed something, and for several years, it was the Las Vegas of the east. Now, the bloom is off the rose.  The economy is struggling.  NJ has competition from PA and NY.  Two Atlantic City casinos close this fall, and more might be on the way.

Pennsylvania was a little smarter.  It had the good fortune of sprinkling the casinos across the state, while NJ was stuck with rehabilitating a city on the verge of collapse.  PA gambling proponents said casinos would save the horse racing industry and provide property tax relief.  The horses are still here.  Property tax relief is another story.

It's inevitable.  Gambling revenue is destined to level off, and then dip a bit.  The novelty will wear off.  Casinos are upping their game by providing entertainment and other diversions to supplement the wagering.  Smart move.  It's a tough business.

It makes me wonder what the next cash cow will be.  Some states are experimenting with recreational marijuana.  Money is coming in, but a big hunk of it is spent on hiring more police officers to get those driving under the influence off the road.

It's a lesson we've learned over and over again.  There is no free lunch.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday Scrapple

The Little League World Series is a marvelous event.  Yet, I'm still concerned the intense media spotlight is putting too much pressure on the kids.

I'm ready to switch to fall, but not winter.  If there's one flaw in our climate here, it's spring and fall don't last long enough.

We are only two weeks in to the NFL pre-season, and I'm already tired of Johnny Football.

There's not a lot on the fall tv schedule that excites me.  Tea Leoni as secretary of state looks interesting.  However, I'm really not in a mood to invest time in another series.

22 baseball stadiums were built during Bud Selig's 22 years as MLB commissioner.  He still can't figure out what to do with Oakland.

Steamtown is admission free on Monday.  Parents, if your children aren't back in school, visiting Steamtown will be a nice treat.

Ferguson, MO shows we are still a deeply divided country.

SWB Railriders:  fourth from the bottom in International League attendance.  Can someone tell me why?

Thoughts and prayers to the family of James Foley, a journalist who lost his life getting a story.