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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

TrafficWatch

 


I was out doing a few errands the evening of December 21st.  I know that's not earth shattering news, but keep in mind, it was the time when I am usually asleep.

My travel and commute times are very late at night and very early in the morning.  When I see more than two cars on the highway, anxiety sets in and I think "traffic jam!"  This was an evening when the roads were packed.

After years and years of living and working at the opposite end of the clock from "normal" people, the amount of traffic was an eye opener.  I thought the economy was bad, more people were working from home, businesses were closed, schools were shut, and we were told by the health experts to stay home.

It looked like an average late afternoon/evening commute to me, maybe even worse.

What am I missing?

I am out during the occasional morning rush hour, and that seems to be the pinnacle of maniacal driving.  Most problems here can be solved by setting your alarm five minutes sooner.  You won't have to drive like an idiot, and the people who share the road would really appreciate it.

And one other transportation note this morning...

Next to the "Do Not Call" list, the law forcing drivers to remove snow and ice from their cars is the biggest fraud every inflicted on the fine citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Monday Scrapple

 

It's the first Scrapple of the new year, and the tradition of mediocrity continues...

The sound of a frying egg is one of the great joys of life.  If you ever make them for me, remember, I don't like my yolks too runny.

I finally have figured out how to schedule a Facebook post, and it came in handy around the holidays.  The blog will always be my baby.

Everyone went nuts to see 2020 disappear, and I get that.  While it was a horrible year, I just couldn't jump on that bandwagon.  It's a new year.  The problems haven't gone away.

Boscov's is closing the restaurants at its stores, blaming the current situation.  I get that, too  The restaurant business is tough to begin with.  A pandemic adds to the degree of difficulty.  Sad, nonetheless.

So much chaos in politics.  I'm not sure if that shows the system works, or doesn't.

The Tanya Roberts story is simply sad.  Dead.  Alive.  Dead.  Just 65.  She was great on "That 70's Show."

McDonald's is launching three new chicken sandwiches this month.  Outside of McNuggets, the chain is not known for its chicken skills.  I'll stick with my favorite, across the street.

You can never underestimate the positivity inspired by a sunny mid winter day.

Stumbling across a Three Stooges short on TV is still a major thrill. 

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War.  We all knew it was coming, but it was still a shock.  I remember coming home from my radio job, eating dinner with Dan Rather, and watching CBS swing into "war mode."


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Andy's Angles: The Library

 

This is Marywood University's relatively new library.  As I've said in the past, it's not a bad building.  It's just in the wrong place.

Anyway, I was playing with my camera here in late November.  The shutter stayed open for 30 seconds on this one.  Excessive?  A bit.  However, that longer exposure really lights up the place and gives it different look in the early morning hours.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Andy's Angles: Night School

 

This weekend, it's a couple of November photos that I just didn't have space for last year.

I was playing around with my camera at Marywood University on an early morning, a couple of days before Thanksgiving.

Night photography isn't new to me, but this was a different shot.  I kept the shutter open for 15 seconds, which gave the entrance to the Liberal Arts Center a nice glow.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Half

 

It's already time for that dead of winter blog tradition, called the half way mark.

Let's do the math.  Meteorological winter consists of December, January, and February.  That means winter is now half over!

We've already had plenty of snow and ice, but I do have to warn you that you shouldn't plant the onions just yet.

Statistically speaking, the last two weeks of January are the coldest of the year.  We've had some whopper snow storms in February and March.  April snow is not unusual.

But the days are getting longer and you can feel the sun getting a little stronger.

Half the battle is fought and won.



Thursday, January 14, 2021

Snow, Thaw, Rain, Flood

 

It was the most challenging day, and possibly the most rewarding day of my career.

Let's take you back to a Saturday morning at this time exactly 25 years ago.  We had two snow storms, followed by a quick thaw and some rain.  Rivers, creeks and streams were coming out of their banks.  Flooding everywhere.

Friday was a tough day, and we knew the worst was ahead.  I was working "down the street."  The news director, who I really liked and am still in touch with, was looking for people to work Saturday morning.  The news director had just made a series of personnel moves that were unpopular with many on the staff, so everyone had an excuse to avoid coming to the office.  It was pay back time.  I was unaffected by his moves and I understand why some were pouting.

I considered the news director a friend, then and now, so when he asked, I agreed.  My job was to do Saturday morning updates on the hour and half hour .  We started early and it was clear there was going to be trouble.  Part of the Wyoming Valley was being evacuated.  Sections along the Lackawanna River were already under water.

January/winter flooding is especially difficult.  A damaged furnace also means frozen pipes, and it's simply too cold to open the windows, hoping the fresh air dries out the house.

Finally, just before 9:30 AM, the news director said simply "keep going."  What followed was a two and a half hour plus newscast without a script.  At the risk of offending people by forgetting who did what, I will name some of the key figures.

Eileen Kennedy produced from the control room, and I would have been lost without her directions in my ear.  Derry Bird was our forecaster that morning.  Derry knew weather, and he also  knew news and history.  We sat on the newsroom set together to talk about why things were happening, after the round up of numbers.  Barry Finn, who we lost last year, Melissa Becker Sgroi, and David DeCosmo were live in the field.  Producer Chris O'Rourke, was phoning in reports from the Danville area.  We also had a fantastic control room staff, who pushed all the right buttons at the right time.  I can't leave out the photographers, who captured amazing images.

The same was true even way back then-- I drank a lot of diet cola that morning.  When the river stabilized  just after noon, I signed off and turned things over to the evening news staff.  My first order of business was to make the long dash down the hall and up the stairs to the men's room.  Made it!  Barely!

Right after taking care of business, I was sure to thank my coworkers who helped me look really good that morning.

It was a tough day here in our area-- damaged homes, cars and businesses.  I hope we all made it a little better 25 years ago by giving you the information you needed to make it through the experience.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Early Bird

 

If I didn't have so much other stuff to write about, I would have posted this on January 1.

I walked out to my car at 3 AM on New Year's Day, and there it was-- the unmistakable and pungent odor of skunk.

As I note every year, forget about the robin.  The skunk is the true sign of spring.  When they become active, looking for food and love, warmer weather is on the way.

New year's morning wasn't a one-time-only whiff.  I've detected the aroma a few times in recent days.

Part of me likes to believe an early spring is on the way, but as I look at the long range forecast, there are some frosty mornings ahead, including some single digit temperatures.  There is a lot of winter left.

The skunk as barometer might not be perfect, but a little nose hair curling stench is better than none at all.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Fraud

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers got their arses handed to them by the Cleveland Browns Sunday night, and I smiled.

I was a Steelers fan for years, and then, the team made a horribly poor choice in a backup quarterback. My days as a Steeler fan were done.

Writing a fair amount of sports stories for work forces me to keep an eye on what's going on, in all leagues, so here is a quick take on the Steelers.

The team just didn't show up Sunday night.  They weren't prepared.  It was sloppy play.  They have reversed the trend, but for a few recent years, the Steelers were in the top tier of most penalized teams in the league.  That shows a lack of discipline and inadequate preparation.  Bad coaching.

The Steelers started this season with eleven straight wins.  Many were squeakers against bad teams.  This is an over rated squad.  There is no running game and the offense is led by a quarterback who can't throw down the field.  The Steelers had a horrible time with back up quarterbacks last year.  They went in to the 2020 season with an aged and injury prone quarterback, and management did nothing in the last off season to beef up the bench strength.  Mason Rudolph is not the answer.

The Steelers are known for their consistency and it has been one of the league's more successful franchises.  However, a team is more than a won and lost record.  It's time for changes, and a lot of them.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Now It Can Be Told

 

The two principals in this tale are now gone, so it's safe to tell the story.

Back in the early 80's, when the Phillies actually fielded winning teams, my radio station, WARM 590, sent its legendary sports director, Ron Allen, to Philadelphia to do his radio show from Veterans Stadium.  At the time, ABC was using Dodgers' manager Tom Lasorda on its post season coverage.

Lasorda has a local connection.  He grew up in Norristown, right outside of Philadelphia.  He used to referee youth basketball games in Hazleton.

Lasorda left us Friday.  Ron died in 2008, and you should have heard him tell the story.  There was no greater story teller in the business, on or off the air.

The way Ron told it, Lasorda graciously gave him an interview before a playoff or World Series game, saying how wonderful it was to be back in Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania, and he had fond memories of Hazleton.

Once Ron's microphone and tape recorder were off, Lasorda launched in to a four letter tirade over the City of Philadelphia, and how the Phillies had no business being in the post season.  Ron's telling of the tale was a thing of beauty and the words, raunchy as they were, still echo on my head.  I think Lasorda used more obscene words than clean ones.

It was no secret Lasorda liked to swear.  His words will live on forever on You Tube.  He will be remembered as a good baseball manager and a great ambassador for the game.  He loved baseball and he really loved the Dodgers.  Tommy Lasorda was 93.  

I wrote a blog entry after Ron's death in September of 2008.  He might not have been the easiest person to get along with and you cannot deny his talent  I will forever be grateful that Ron gave me a job in March of 1981.  I will also be grateful I heard those wonderful stories.


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Andy's Angles: Nathan's Nap

 

My last few cat photos here have been of Peanut.  My other one, Nathan, is rather aloof and camera shy.

Nathan's luck ran out recently, when I caught him snoozing.