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Friday, February 21, 2020

Trash Talkin'

I haven't done an MBWA entry in a while, so it's best that I get you up to speed.

Walmart founder Sam Walton used to have a sign in his stores, near the manager's office.  It said simply "MBWA."  It stands for management by walking around.  Walton wanted his managers out on the floor, seeing what works, helping customers, assisting employees, etc.

I've adopted some of that on my daily travels through the universe.

I was on my way home from the gym yesterday morning, and it was apparently trash day in the neighborhoods I traveled through.  Three things jumped out at me.

The first is something I've mentioned before.  Northeastern Pennsylvanians love their pizza.  Just about every home had pizza boxes out for the trash or the recycling.

The second, it's clear that a lot of stores had television sales in advance of Super Bowl Sunday.  At least one home on every street had a new television box out with the trash.

The third kind of stunned me, but in reality, it shouldn't.  It was the amount of Amazon boxes at curbside.  The company appears to have a stranglehold on American commerce, and I will admit to being part of that.  It's not difficult to understand why Macy's is struggling, why Sears/KMart is circling the drain, why malls are empty.  People love Amazon.  I've found its prices to be average, but you can't beat the convenience.

I feel so trashy.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Really?

The new mayor of Scranton is soliciting ideas for a new city flag.

Let's back up a bit.

A mayor will be judged on safe streets, efficient firefighting, timely trash collection, nice parks and filled pot holes.  Financial solvency is also a plus.  Scranton is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and it's been that way for a while.  It is a problem inherited by the new mayor.  It's none of her doing, but it's now on her plate.

A flag isn't high on the list.

As I have noted here before, it's also a mayor's job to get citizens feeling good about themselves and their city.  Scranton's Jim McNulty was the best I ever saw-- master showman, fantastic promoter.  He thought big, and that is a rare commodity around here.

There is nothing wrong with the old flag.  A new one might be the first step toward a new image, and a symbol of new thinking.  It just seems to me there are other problems that need to be tackled first.  It's like slapping a fresh coat of paint on a house with a crumbling foundation.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sam

Most people outside the business yawn at journalism and media issues, but indulge me today.

There has been a big debate in the industry over something former ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson just did.  Sam blasted President Trump and endorsed Michael Bloomberg for president.

The Poynter organization, a group that overthinks media issues, believes Donaldson shouldn't have done it.  Once a journalist, always a journalist.  Below is a quote from Poynter.

Donaldson is free to do as he pleases, but it’s disappointing and damaging that he felt his endorsement of a presidential candidate was more important than preserving the integrity of the institution that he served so well for most of his life. With all due respect to Donaldson, I’m not sure his endorsement helps Bloomberg as much it hurts journalism.

I have news for Poynter, but this is not a new phenomenon.  Dan Rather regularly goes on CNN and bashes the current administration.  Rather hasn't endorsed anyone for president but you clearly know how the guy feels.

Anderson Cooper on CNN clearly doesn't like what is happening in Washington.  Yet, CBS allows him to freelance for "60 Minutes."

MSNBC allows Rachel Madow to coanchor political coverage, and that makes me cringe.

The Donaldson move does seem to reinforce the "liberal media" stereotype.

FOX News seems to do a better job of separating opinion and news programming, but you know about the network's agenda.

Okay, so where do I fall on the Donaldson issue?

Should he have done it?  No.

Is it a big deal?  No.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Philadelphia Freedom

The Plains Township casino is tweaking its food court.  One of the new main attractions is a cheese steak restaurant with its roots in Philadelphia.  Part of the tweak involves the installation of murals of Philadelphia landmarks and famous figures.

That's all well and good.  From the pictures I saw in the newspaper, the murals seem well done and perfectly fine.  The artist is very talented.

My issue is...  the casino is in Luzerne County.  Don't we have anything around here that's mural-worthy?  The Susquehanna River, Public Square, Luzerne County Courthouse, the mountains, the colleges, one of the last remaining KMarts, the airport roundabouts...

It's often said people around here have a poor self image.  Celebrating the good things in our area, in mural form, would be a nice start toward fixing that.  Let's stop living in the shadows of the big cities.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Business Monday

Macy's announced plans to close about 20 per cent of its stores.  Its brick and mortar stores are taking a hit from the internet.

It's not difficult to see Macy's problems.  Many of its stores in malls and malls are struggling.  I frequently pass through the Viewmont Mall Macy's.  Nice stores.  Nice merchandise, but just a touch on the pricey side.  The issue is the shopping experience.  There isn't one.  The place always looks the same.

The same can be said for Kohl's.  It's stores don't change much, but as a big box store, it can get away with that.  Kohl's is getting rid of a bunch of employees at the corporate office, a move the company says it needs to improve efficiency.

My heart goes out to all the Kohl's and Macy's people who are losing their jobs.

The same goes for the people at Wells Fargo.  A banking industry expert sees a round of cost cutting and layoffs this year.

A major American newspaper chain, McClatchy, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week.  People aren't buying newspapers.  Newspapers are becoming more successful at monetizing the internet, but they still have a way to go.  It appears the papers will stay in business, but this one really has me worried.

Do you know anyone itching to take a cruise these days?

Published reports have retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez interested in buying the New York Mets.  I can't see how this can be a bad thing.  The franchise has lacked direction for years.

Wendy's starts serving breakfast early next month.  Competition makes everyone stronger.  There are a lot of places where you can get an egg sandwich.  In my book, service makes the difference.  Get me in and out-- fast.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Andy's Angles: The Fast Lane

This is a wider view of the area you saw yesterday. It's the Lackawanna River, looking downstream from Blakely.

I used a fast shutter speed here to better capture the motion of the water.  While your eye is naturally drawn to the "rapids" in the middle of the shot, take a close look at the lower left.  You can practically see every drop move.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  I've been watching You Tube photography "how to" videos and I bought a book.  2020 is the year I try to up my photography game.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Andy's Angles: Fast Weekend

Last week, it was an experiment with slow shutter speeds.  This week, something completely different.

The shot above isn't a wave crashing in to the Pacific coast.  It's the Lackawanna River at Blakely.

Unfortunately, I can't remember the shutter speed, but it was exceptionally fast.  I used a 50 mm prime lens.

I went with the fast shutter speed because I read that it will accentuate the chop of the water.   You see every drop.

It's true!

A wider view will be featured here tomorrow.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Friday Scrapple

It was record low ratings for Sunday night's Academy Awards telecast.  It's not hard to see why.  Once again, there was no host.  The broadcast needs a compelling and interesting host to draw eyeballs to the screen.  On top of that, there were really no big blockbuster films that captured interest.  It was a bunch product from streaming services that no one ever heard of.  And the icing on the cake, you knew many of the acceptance speeches would be filled with partisan political material.  You are automatically turning off half of the country.

The Major League Baseball commissioner has to be out of his mind.  His playoff expansion plan will make the game a joke-- like the NHL and NBA, where everyone gets in to the playoffs and the regular season means nothing.

Weekend number 2 of the XFL is coming up.  The league has its roots in wrestling, and I'm not a fan of that.  I didn't watch any of the opening weekend games.  Still, I hope the league succeeds.  There is room for spring time football.

Jim Carrey is in trouble for crude remarks to a reporter.  It seems like Carrey was just trying to get noticed, which hasn't happened much lately.

The Scranton School District lead and asbestos contamination issue is headed for federal court.  A lawsuit was filed this week.  A lot of people need to answer the question "What did you know, and when did you know it?" Several people, including some big names, dropped off the radar screen this week.  They will have to emerge sooner or later.

I know they are relatively minor events, but the words "winter weather advisory" make me cringe.

Presidents Day weekend is here-- the last three day weekend of winter..  It's been a mild winter but it still feels like the longest of the four seasons.

Tourist trains have returned to Jim Thorpe.  I'm glad the amusement tax issue was worked out.  Jim Thorpe is nice-- and even better with trains.

Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope it's a good one.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Early Contests



It's been a while since I've analyzed presidential politics.  We've had two early contests, so it seems like the perfect time.

First of all, I thought Kamala Harris and Cory Booker brought a lot to the process, especially Harris.  I was a little surprised when neither caught fire and both dropped out of the race relatively early.  Months ago, Newt Gingrich predicted Harris would be the Democratic nominee, and I saw the wisdom in that.  Her campaign never caught fire.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have to be smiling after strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Sanders' age and recent heart attack don't seem to be issues, at least during this early stage of the campaign.  There are concerns about Buttigieg's ability to draw minority voters, but that's not a factor in states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is struggling.  She has to show some traction, and fast.  It seems like many of her followers drifted over to the Sanders camp.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar impressed many with her performance during last week's debate on ABC, and she pulled decent numbers in New Hampshire, but not enough to really be a factor. That could change, if and when voters seek a moderate Democrat.  If Klobuchar stays in the upper-middle of the pack, she has to become a prime pick for the second place spot on the ticket.  I could see her getting a major boost if Joe Biden continues to struggle.  More on that in a moment.

And then there is Scranton native and former Vice President Joe Biden.  Poor showing in Iowa.  Poor showing in New Hampshire.  If you remember, he showed very strong in the early polls and a certain blogger said that was simply due to the fact he had the most name and face recognition.  It was bound to change as the campaign heated up and the other candidates became better known.

So, what is Biden's problem?  He's still in the center as his party moves left.  Biden and his campaign seem to lack vitality and energy, and there are still unanswered questions over his son's business interests in Ukraine.  The New York Post called it a "spectacular collapse."  Joe Biden talks about the past a lot when voters seem more interested in their futures.

Look, this is far, far from over.  South Carolina and Nevada are on the horizon, both states where Biden can do well.  He needs a win, badly.  A Yahoo! politics story had Biden struggling with fund raising.  I can't see how it gets any better after New Hampshire.

There is one name that's been absent so far-- Michael Bloomberg.  The former New York mayor was essentially on the sidelines in Iowa and New Hampshire.  That changes.  He will become a factor simply because he's a billionaire and has the willingness to spend it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Spring!

This is the 16th "spring" I've had this blog and every year, I think I've mentioned the first sign of spring is not a robin sighting or what Punxsutawney Phil has to say.  It's the arrival of, and the aroma of the first skunk of the new year.

Skunks get hungry at the end of the winter, and they go looking for love when spring arrives.

This year is something out of the ordinary.  The skunks never went away, at least in my neighborhood.  They were a constant presence because the weather never really cooled off,  and temperatures never went below zero.  I smelled.  I saw. 

I really think we're in for an early spring, in spite of some really cold weather predicted for the end of the week and the start of the weekend.    The skunks know.