Friday, March 27, 2015

Customer Disservice

My home laptop kept sending me messages that my battery was nearing the end of its useful life.  Even though I rarely run off the battery, I ordered a new one, to the tune of $ 150.

They sent me the wrong one.  I won't mention the company, but let's just say it's a four letter word.

I called customer service, and was connected to a foreign land.  The guy kept telling me I wasn't installing it right, and he kept trying to transfer me to tech support.  Hey, I've had computers for decades.  I even owned a Commodore 64.  I know when I have the wrong battery.

This happened not once, but twice.  The "customer service rep" couldn't get it through his head that I received the wrong battery.  There was no way I was being transferred to tech support to prolong the agonizing process of dealing with poor service.

Out of frustration, I finally said I didn't want an exchange, I just wanted my money back.  He sent me a link for a UPS return label, and that thing was out of my house in 15 minutes.

I'm in the market for a desktop.  You probably know what brand I won't be buying.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I've been watching James Corden's first week as host of The Late Late Show, and I'm pleasantly surprised.  Corden is warm and funny.  He has charisma, and it really looks like he's having a good time.

Clearly, this isn't Craig Ferguson's The Late Late Show.  Ferguson was outrageous as he took that show to new and different places.  The Corden version is considerably more glitzy and show bizzy.  It's clear CBS sunk some serious money into the production, which never happened for Ferguson.

Corden has added a few twists.  Guests enter from the back of the studio, which appears awkward.  The guests make their way through high fiving audience members.  Mila Kunis clearly looked uncomfortable on opening night.  Also, both guests are interviewed at the same time.  It's great if there's chemistry.  A disaster if they do not.  I fear there will be more misses than hits.

Ferguson was famous for ripping up the note cards prepared by researchers and talent coordinators.  Corden is glued to his cards, but he's new.  I'm sure the interviewing will become better.  Even Letterman couldn't ask a good question at the beginning.

The name's the same, and the talk genre is the same, but the Ferguson and Corden shows are two vastly different animals.  You really can't compare the two.  While I miss Ferguson and robot skeleton sidekick Geoff Peterson every night, Corden might grow on me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


We're only three months in to 2015 and it's already been a bad health year.

I've finally been able to shake the cold that's been bugging me for three weeks.  Now, something new:  the flu.

I started feeling a little off, slightly fuzzy, while getting dressed for work early Tuesday morning.  I just attributed that to feeling a bit more tired than usual.

Left over and microwaved Chinese food was on my list of suspects.  I later learned some friends and family members have been battling the bug as well.

The fatigue continued during our morning broadcast.  Our vans all have carbon monoxide detectors.  It never sounded, but it's always a concern.

Joint and muscle aches started checking in.  Again, I attributed those to being more tired than usual.
Then, the nausea appeared.  Let me till you something.  Stomach and/or intestinal issues are a street reporter's worst nightmare.  The reasons are obvious.  Our vans have all the new and latest technology, but we haven't found the space to tuck in a rest room.

Fate smiled on me.  We gathered all the information needed for a noon report rather quickly.  We set up shop in the Wilkes-Barre City Hall and Police Headquarters parking pot.  Porcelain conveniences were always close at hand, and I took advantage.

I strongly considered asking management to hand off the story to someone else, so I could get home early.  It was already approaching deadline, so I just kept going.

While I was extremely thirsty and bordering on dehydration, I stayed away from drinking anything, for fear of splashing it up all over the city's parking lot.   As I write this, early Wednesday morning, I had lunch Monday at 12:30 PM, some toaster pastries Tuesday morning at 2:30...  and, that's it.  Still nauseated.  Not hungry at all.

I forgot to mention the chills.  A cranked up thermostat and an extra blanket weren't much help.

I got my flu shot months ago, but as we've reported, it's not particularly effective.  Still, I never regret getting flu shots, and this is my first experience with being sick in years.

Photographer Steve and I got into a "Blazing Saddles" discussion on the way back to the office, and it helped pass the time, and get my mind off my pain.

I know several people who have a lot more to worry about than I.  This too shall pass.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


According to FOX News, ten states are considering legislation to out an end to daylight saving time.

Sorry to say, Pennsylvania is not on the list.  But then again, if the tide starts rolling, I can't see how Pennsylvania can continue to opt out.

The twice yearly time change is not the hassle it once was.  Most of my clocks and watches set themselves.  I work all night, and I've found that eases the adjustment.

The big reason to do away with time changes is it's no longer necessary.  Moving to Daylight Savings Time doesn't save the energy it was designed to conserve.  We're no longer an agricultural society, so that argument goes out the window as well.

Yes, if we stay on one schedule, there will be some weeks kids will have to wait for the school bus in semi darkness.  That's the only downside.

Most people seem to hate the switch, whether they gain or lose an hour of sleep.  It's simply a concept that no longer works for most Americans.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Sports Scrapple

Pete Rose had applied for reinstatement to major league baseball.  No.  A thousand times, no.  He bet on baseball, the mother of all sins.  He lied about betting on baseball.  He only admitted to betting on baseball when he had a book to sell.  Pete Rose is an awful person, and the game is far better off without him.  Sadly, there's a new baseball commissioner, and I think the bum actually stands a chance this time.

Baseball is on thin ice with me.  The games are too long.  Too many teams get in the playoffs, and it was nearly impossible to find the games.  The return of Pete Rose could push me over the edge.

I'm not a basketball fan, but I do keep up on what's going on.  It's part of my job.  I see there were some upsets in the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament, and that always makes it interesting.

I worked for the CBS station in town for several years, and I used to mosey out to the outer lobby when CBS would blow out the afternoon soaps for basketball.  I used to take a seat on the bench out there, and listen to our poor receptionist take calls from irate people who were missing "their stories."  The woman was sweet and patient, and she explained time after time that it was a network decision, not a local woman, and "the stories" would pick up on Monday where they left off, before basketball.

Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim announced his retirement, three years from now.  He presided over a dirty program.  He should resign in three minutes, not three years.

The Indianapolis Colts have come up with a plan for a nine point play.  If you make a touchdown and two point conversion, you can take a shot at a 50 yard kick for an eighth point.  I'm a traditionalist, but color me intrigued.  Dome and warm weather teams clearly have an advantage here.  It was nice, this past season, see a return to a running game for a lot of teams.  I suspect we'll see some kickers drafted in the first round if the plan goes through.

Chris Borland retired after his rookie season in the NFL.  Reason?  Fear of concussions and long term health damage.  Look, every job has risks.  Some more than others.  Borland decided the money isn't worth the potential damage.  I assume he has a "plan B" for making money, and he actually got an education during his college years.  Some see this is a game changer for the NFL.  The sport will be in decline because it can't keep its participants safe.  I'm not so sure.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands, out there willing to take Borland's place.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Andy's Angles: The Other Side

I switched sides of the Susquehanna River for this shot.  I'm now facing the borough of Tunkhannock.  This picture gives you a better idea of the texture of the jam, and the depth of the river.  As you can see the ice and water is fairly high up on the piers.  It was still quite a distance from causing flooding, at least near downtown Tunkhannock and the businesses on the Eaton Twp. side of the river.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Andy's Angles: Ice 2

Today, the second in a series of ice jam photos, taken Thursday morning at Tunkhannock.  I'm in roughly the same area as yesterday's shot, except the view is upstream.

Take note of the contrails in the upper right of the photo.  It's almost an asterisk or star.

I have a feeling this photo will make a return appearance in this year's Top Ten.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Andy's Angles: Ice Weekend

I had to see it for myself.  I saw the video of the Susquehanna River ice jam centered around Tunkhannock, and I wanted an up close look.  I got some good photos, so I'm starting a day early.

I've seen ice covered rivers before, but they are usually a solid sheet.  The current ice jam features chunks from upstream, pushed against each other to form a mass.  There wasn't much movement while I was here yesterday morning.  I guess that's why they call it a "jam."  You do hear a crack once in a while as pressure tries to force the chunks downstream.

This photo was just upstream from the Tunkhannock bridge, looking to the south.

I'm glad I visited when I did.  The jam began breaking up a few hours after I left.  Thankfully, there was no severe damage.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Near Miss or Near Hit?

It was strange that happened on my 25th anniversary in television news. Just when you think you've seen it all, something unusual and bizarre happens.

I was doing live reports for Newswatch 16 This Morning on a flipped trailer along Interstate 81 at the Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport exit. While I was describing the crash scene, another tractor trailer nearly crashed.

From looking at the video, it was clear that second truck was traveling far too fast. Flashing lights were all over the place, yet the driver chose to barrel through and nearly created a second crash. I suspect the second would have been worse than the first because there were emergency service workers and clean up people all over the place.

It all happened so quickly. I was referring to my notes when I heard the loud noise of the near hit behind me. There's a bright light in my face. By the time I turned around to see what was happening and my eyes adjusted, it was over.

Photographer Jason Wolf told me what had happened as soon as I wrapped up. The whole thing was caught on live TV. A worker with the hazardous materials clean up company asked if it was captured on video. We replied that it was. I suspect someone is searching for that driver as you read this.

Slow down!!!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Unfinished Wednesday

We're nowhere close to spring weather, but at least, it's better than it was.

I'm amazed at how many people are still fighting colds.  It's not just your run of the mill sniffles.  It seems nastier than normal this year.

College basketball doesn't interest me, and I found people talking about their brackets to be exceptionally boring.  Having said that, I'll watch the NCAA basketball tournament if a Cinderella team develops.

Wandering through a dollar store is one of the great joys of life.

A great thing about this time of year:  Irish soda bread.

The Android versus Apple debate consumes way too much of my time.  I still can't make a decision.

I don't watch enough television to pay for a streaming service.

Ben Roethlisberger signed a huge contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I'm okay with that.

Gene Gene the Dancing Machine from the Gong Show passed away last week.  The show was a classic, and when it was hitting on all cylinders, there was nothing funnier.

The Bill O'Reilly alleged war story lie controversy seems to have run out of steam.

A presidential or vice presidential visit to the area still generates a lot of buzz.