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Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Scrapple

When did St. Patrick's Day become St. Patrick's Month?

The dirtiest player in the National Football League is about to get a huge, new contract.  There's something wrong with that.

I'm really tired of "The Weather Channel" hysterics.

Our friends at public broadcasting got rid of a lot of the overnight self help shows on the digital subchannels.  Thank you.

Most overused word on ESPN:  meniscus.

Most overused word on Food TV:  caramelize.

It was nice to watch a little baseball on my days off.

Carrot Cake M&M's.  I kid you not.  They're surprisingly decent.

Ringling Brothers is phasing out elephant acts.  I'm very comfortable with that.  I hope the big cats are next.

Low gasoline prices were fun while they lasted.

I recently topped 1,000 Twitter followers.  Thank you.

It looks like a moderating trend is on the way.  However, I fear we haven't felt the last of winter.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tax Man

Raise your hand if you're surprised the new governor wants to raise a long list of taxes.

I thought so.

In a Wednesday budget message, the governor proposed raising the sales and income taxes, plus taxing things that had never been taxed before.

A lot of the money goes to education and property tax relief.

It should be noted the money to education is temporary.  The tax increases are not.

The governor was in the sweet spot of being able to blame a lot of his problems on his predecessor.  No one argues with that.  Also, no one will argue that the tax situation need to be made more fair.  Property owners need a break.

It's really not the taxing that raises the red flag.  It's the spending.  Especially because a lot of the money goes to an area that threw a lot of money into the governor's campaign last year.

The budget faces an uphill battle in the house and senate, chambers controlled by the opposition party.  I wouldn't be surprised by a long and nasty fight, and one that goes right to the start of the new fiscal year in July.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Iron Horse

I did something yesterday I hadn't done in 26 months.

I took a sick day.

Luck has been on my side lately.  I've had nothing more than an occasional cold for the last few years.  Most of the illnesses fell on my days off.  If I showed up at work sick, I was able to struggle through it.

A cold that came on last week was particularly nasty, and I can't shake it.  An extended weekend gives me the opportunity.

I know you get sick from germs, not the weather, but the winter of 14-15 can't be helping.  On top of that, it seems like everyone in the office has something.  It will be nice to get away from that, and keep my illness from spreading to others.

Now, off for a can of soup and a little rest.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Strike!

Teachers in the Riverside School District went on strike Monday morning.  The strike lasted all of one day.

I'm not going to debate the specifics of the dispute.  The teachers want more money.  The district claims poverty.  The average Riverside teacher salary in 2013 was more than $ 59,000.  I'll let you decide what's fair.

I've long felt good teachers should get good money.  Bad teachers should get fired.  Plus, teachers need to do more than teach.  They should inspire.  I've encountered far too many who were just going through the motions.  The students weren't the only ones with their eyes on the clock, watching the school day seconds tick away.

The entire system needs work, new thinking, new ideas, freshness, vision.  Learning should be fun.  Our system has turned it in to a chore.

Unfortunately, all I see coming down the pike is more of the same.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Unfinished Monday

Sorry for two consecutive weeks of Unfinished Mondays.  A nasty cold and some nasty weather still have me down.

I'm sorry I couldn't make it to former Scranton Mayor Jim McNulty's 70th birthday party Friday night.  He and I go back to 1980 or 1981.  McNulty agreed to come up to Marywood one night and help me with a TV production course project.  I didn't know him, but I always admired the way he did things.  I just called and asked for an interview.  If I remember right, I was too frightened and intimidated to be any good.  Jim was gracious and professional, as always.  I was in the TV studio when he arrived.  I remember a classmate calling me and saying "Mr. McNulty is here."  I nearly passed out.   It was my first big interview.   Jim gets a blog entry of his own someday soon.

I finally figured out what I hate about the new Odd Couple on CBS.  Jack Klugman's Oscar was more good natured and playful.  Even though Felix pushed his buttons, you could tell the pair shared friendship and affection.  Matthew Perry's Oscar seems more easily peeved, snarky and angry.  I really don't sense an emotional connection between the two.  Tony Randall's Felix was constantly pining for Gloria.  Has the new ex even been mentioned?

Thanks for watching the weekend morning broadcasts, and tolerating a raspy voice.  I think I underestimated my illness, and probably should have taken the weekend off.  As I write this, I still can't shake it.

Rest in Peace, Leonard Nimoy.  I'm not a sci fi guy, but I do have an appreciation for the draw of Star Trek and the Spock character Nimoy brought to life.  It would have been great to see Nimoy appear in a Big Bang Theory episode.  He did provide the voice for an action figure on a recent episode.  An in-person appearance would have been off the charts.

I'm no expert, but I'm mildly surprised accused killer Rockne Newell was judged mentally competent to stand trial.  If convicted, I'm sensing a George Banks style appeal ad infinitum.

It's March.  Please?  Just one nice day?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Classic Andy's Angles: Summer Morning

Winter show no signs of letting up, and I thought we could use a little summer.

Mostly, the weather has been lousy and I've been down with a nasty cold, so today, a vintage photo.

It's not that old.  It was taken Memorial Day morning last year.  I was working out of our office in the Bicentennial Building on Public Square.  Sunny.  Warm.  Blue sky.  Not looking forward to excessive heat, but  a taste of spring would be delicious.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Andy's Angles: Going, Going...

Well, that was fast.

Radio Shack went bankrupt a few weeks ago, and closed a bunch of stores, including this one in Taylor.  I snapped this camera phone picture at 3 AM yesterday, as I was stopping by the adjacent WalMart for cold medication.

Radio Shacks were always neat places to explore, but it became a niche retailer, and the niches now belong to the internet.

Some Shacks are still around, but I can't say I have much hope.  The success rate for troubled businesses like this isn't spectacular.

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Turn

It was only a matter of time.  I have the cold that's going around.

You take all the precautions-- staying away from sick people, cleaning computer keyboards and office telephones, taking vitamins...  And, it still happens.

Germs are in the air, and there's no way to avoid them, unless you stop breathing.

Symptoms started appearing late Sunday.  By Tuesday night, I was in the full blown cold mode.

Over-the-counter cold remedies are a multi billion dollar business in this country, and you know what?  Nothing works.  I've had the best luck with allergy relief pills, and the cheap store brand is as good as the very expensive name brand.

There's nothing you can do, except wait it out.  I think the worst has passed.  Getting rid of the last 20 per cent is always an annoyance.  Colds seem to linger and linger.

Famous last words:  at least it's not the flu.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

KO

I have a love/hate relationship with Keith Olbermann.  I hated the guy when he was with MSNBC and Current.  Too mean.  Too snarky.  Too biased.  Yes, I know his job was to be biased.

I reacted with glee when MSNBC fired him and the Current job fell apart.

I read all the negatives, that Olbermann is full of himself, he's difficult to get along with, and treats underlings with a lack of dignity.

Things began to turn around for me in July of 2013.  Keith Olbermann returned to the ESPN family with a sports show that played to all his strengths.  Commentary.  Interviews.  Highlights.  It's a fun show to watch, and it appeared Olbermann is actually having fun doing it.  It was a complete 180 from Mean Keith we saw on MSNBC and Current.  The show aired in late night.  It's now on in the late afternoon.  I catch the early morning replays at the gym, and it's must see TV.  Olbermann is at the top of his game when something big is going on, like the NFL's botched response to domestic violence situations and Ballghazi.  The bigger the story, the sharper the commentary.  I am in awe of his writing ability and the way Olbermann can dissect a story, using the subject's own words to make his case.

That brings us to today.  ESPN suspended Olbermann for the rest of the week after he got in to a Twitter war with some Penn Staters.

Let's move on to that for a moment.  There is significant evidence to indicate the former powers that be had the ability to put the screws to Jerry Sandusky a long time ago, but they were more concerned about football and image.  They could have prevented the abuse of children, some on Penn State's campus, and did nothing.  In fact, there's evidence to indicate a cover up.

The Sandusky affair is an indelible stain on Penn State.  A big one.  No amount of scrubbing can remove it.  It will be there forever and ever.  It is part of the school's legacy.  It is part of the football program's legacy.

I can understand Keith Olbermann's anger about Penn State and the people who ran it.  That includes the NCAA, who recently backed away from a long list of Penn State sanctions and penalties.  I'm angry myself.  Edmund Burke said it perfectly:  "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."  There can be some debate about what constitutes "good men."

However, engaging in a Twitter was with students who just raised $ 13 million to fight cancer in children is wrong.  Misplaced anger.  Stupidity.  ESPN saw that.  Olbermann eventually saw that.  Too late.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Fault Lies...

At a governors' conference, a reporter asked Gov. Tom Wolf what he sees as Pennsylvania's biggest problem.  Wolf's response was low self esteem.

Let's look at that for a moment.

There's some merit to the statement.  Pennsylvania is a rust belt state, and conventional wisdom is its best days are long gone.

There's corruption all over the place.  We saw it in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties.  We saw it on the state level.  A state treasurer killed himself in front of the cameras rather than go to jail.  An attorney general went to jail.  The current attorney general is under investigation, and the state needs a new treasurer because the old one admitted to attempted extortion.  The "Kids for Ca$h" documentary made the entire country knew about a shameful episode in local history.

Penn State, Sandusky, etc...  a former newspaper reporter called PSU "The Kremlin" on CBS's "Face the Nation" because it's a closed society and won't release information.

Scranton is near bankruptcy.  Harrisburg flirted with insolvency.

We have a huge and highly paid legislature.  Yet, very little gets done.

Our voice in the Electoral College is weakening due to population shifts.  We have less influence on national politics.

On the other hand, it's a beautiful state with some quality higher education.

Somehow, the balance is out of whack, and I can totally understand where the governor is coming from.