Monday, March 25, 2019

TMI + 40

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island.

I remember it like it was yesterday.  In 1979, we had one of those mini warm spells we often get in late March.  I was a senior in high school.  My best friend, Dave, and I skipped school and spent the batter part of the day taking pictures at Lackawanna State Park.  I was picking up the prints from a Photo Quick booth in Dunmore.  I had just turned my car on to the O'Neill Highway when I heard the first mention of TMI on my car's radio.

To get you up to speed, there was a time when photos were shot on film, and you had to take them to places to get developed.  Photo Quick booths were tiny little buildings in shopping center parking lots.  You would take your film there.  Someone would make a daily pick up at the booth, take the stuff to a developing lab, and you would get it back a couple of days later.

I also remember my history teacher, the next day, telling us plans were being developed to evacuate the city of Harrisburg.  Amazing.

Other memories from that week were Walter Cronkite devoting a huge hunk of time on the "CBS Evening News" to the accident.  Mike Stevens covered the accident for "Newswatch 16."  The station even had a Geiger counter in the backyard at the old building.  It did tick occasionally, but the station calmly explained that it was normal.  There is natural radiation in the environment.

Governor Thornburgh and Lieutenant Governor Scranton were in office only a few months at the time.  Outwardly, they were calm and they really did give you a sense of confidence they would make the right decisions.  But then again, there was no internet at the time, and no one constantly second guessing.  There are so many questions I've always wanted to ask them.

Did we learn a lot about nuclear power?  I certainly hope so.

The system worked, or it didn't work, depending on your point of view, and the debate will continue until the end of time.

I've passed Three Mile Island several times over the years.  It was the same reaction every time, a queasy feeling in my stomach, wondering how close we came to the unthinkable.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Andy's Angles: Hazleton

I've featured Hazleton City Hall here before, but this is a fresh photo, from Monday morning.

A shooting brought photographer Jason and I to the city on the hill, and it always makes me sad.  Looking around-- some great buildings, beautiful homes, good people.  Not blaming anyone, but it troubles me how this city got off the track.    It does happen to people, to cities, to organizations.  It doesn't mean it's over.

I love city hall, especially at night.  It's one of our area's great buildings.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Andy's Angles: DER and TCT

There was a small fire at the Thomas C. Thomas building on North Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilkes-Barre a couple of weeks ago.  This was a produce terminal for many years, and there are still tomato coolers in the building.

It's a big building and there is plenty of office space upstairs.  For many years, the Department of Environmental Resources, now the Department of Environmental Protection was here.

An employee of one of the agencies was showing us the smoke damage, and I did a little wandering about.  My travels took me to an area where DER used to hold its news conferences.  Memories of one horrible afternoon came flooding back.

Once upon a time, there was a company called Pennsylvania Gas & Water has unprotected water sources. Beavers under stress, we were told, were using the reservoirs as their toilets, and the company was pushing contaminated water through its vast system.  At a news conference one afternoon, DER announced big sections of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, including my home, were under a boil water advisory.  Drinking the water could make you violently ill.

The news conference wrapped up.  Dilemma.  I was on the radio at the time, and WARM was never hesitant about breaking into programming for news bulletins.  We excelled at it, and this was an enormous story. 

What to do?  Call the family, or call the station?  If memory serves, and I could be wrong, I think I called the station.  I don't think anybody was home, anyway.

PG&W eventually built state mandated water filtration plants, and the state even gave you the pleasure of paying for them.  PG&W eventually sold out and no longer exists.  A lot of people made some big money as you kept running to the bathroom because the water made you sick.

Memories from the Thomas C. Thomas building.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Scrapple

I miss David Letterman any time I channel surf weeknights at 11:35 PM.  Watching him on "Ellen" yesterday only drove the point home.  The humor.  The sharp wit.  How I long for that every night.

There are few things more depressing than a cold rain.

It's "March Madness" time.  The Major League Baseball season is underway.  We've had some major golf tournaments.  The insufferably long NBA and NHL playoffs are approaching.  The NFL season is still five months away, and yet, NFL talk dominates radio.  We are a football nation.

Burger King has tacos!

I'm sorry, but I don't care about your brackets.  I will admit to liking CBS and Turner crews working together.  Love the change up.

The "National Enquirer" (yes, I know) reports Megyn Kelly has her sights set on "CBS This Morning."  She is a skilled and smart woman, but I don't know if this is a good fit.  I've been wrong before.

I have friends who are major DisneyWorld freaks.  Never been, and I just don't get it.  I'm not saying it's a bad thing.  Merely, I don't understand it.  I'm assuming I fail here because I'm cheap.  Plus, I'm not one for crowds and noise on my days off.

I can't remember the last time I purchased a Powerball ticket.  I did buy some scratchers as stocking stuffers a few years back.

The auditor general warns the Pennsylvania Turnpike faces bankruptcy.  Unbelievable!  Like the Scranton School District, why do we always get to the brink before the alarm goes off?

I don't know how I'm able to do it, but I have resisted the temptation to visit a donut shop or grab one out of the mini mart case.  It's not easy.

My heart broke for the Lady Bucks of Dunmore high school Thursday evening.  They never gave up.  There is a lesson for all of us.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Follow Up Thursday

A while back, I wrote about encountering several college students who were oblivious to what was going on in their world.  I visited a high school the other morning, and it was a complete 180.  Nice, knowledgeable, polite students who were able to express thoughts and speak in complete sentences.  It should be the norm, rather than the exception.

The Los Angeles Angels, to keep him from going to the Phillies in two years, gave Mike Trout a huge new contract.  Great for Trout, and it's nice to see the Angels investing in its product.  On the other hand, the fans will pay in the form of higher ticket prices, higher food and drink prices, higher parking fees, etc.  I'm sure the team will also look for more for more advertising money and more money from local tv, cable and radio.  The little guy always pays, eventually.

Scranton School District:  criminal investigation, money problems, close to a state take-over, and now mice!  You wonder what will happen next.

I railed against this when it happened a few years ago.  Oakland and Seattle began the Major League Baseball season in Japan yesterday.  Cute idea.  Expand the reach.  I still get the feeling that fans of both teams are getting short changed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sports Geography

The Dunmore High School Lady Bucks basketball team is headed to the state championship game in Hershey tomorrow, and that leads us to today's starting point.

First of all, congratulations to the Dunmore girls.

I have always been fascinated how some very small towns in our area can consistently produce strong high school sports teams-- Dunmore, Old Forge, Berwick...  It seems just about every school district in our area has come home with a big trophy at one time or another, but it is the repeated success in those towns that just blows me away.

The school district where I grew up had plenty of success in basketball and baseball.  Football?  Not so much.  But,  immediately adjacent districts have enjoyed huge successes in football.  Do you forget how to play when you cross the border?   I'm sure a lot has to do with history, legacy, administration, execution, and a long list of other factors.  Some of it goes back to the days before some small districts combined into larger ones.  I'm sure someone with plenty of time and the research skills can figure it out.

It would really be great to watch Dunmore come home with a state championship.  Good luck!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Today is the last full day of winter, and believe it or not, there are some things I will miss.

First of all, I will not miss snow, ice, wintry mixes and "kitchen sink" storms.

I will miss ice cold water coming out of the tap.

There is a certain charm to putting on a heavy coat and going for a walk, and then crawling under a heavy blanket for some sleep when you get home.

There is the comfort of hot chocolate, chili, and a bowl of soup.

I love the sting of the cold when you walk out of the gym, after an early morning workout, on a single digit day.

I will miss the faint aroma of smoke from a wood burner, because someone near my gym apparently has one.

Clear blue skies.  Starry nights.  Zero humidity.  The cold has an ability to wake you up and crystallize thoughts.  I'm thankful my work desk is only a few feet from the backyard door.

Winter:  it's not all bad.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Unfinished Monday

This college entrance cheating scandal fascinates me, and I think it's going to stay that way for a while.

First of all, if I had a kid, if I had the money, and if the kid needed help, of course, I'd grease some palms to make things work.  Yes, there is an ethics issue, but you just do things for your kids.  Having said that, there is something said to putting honesty over money.

The sad part about it is that there are so many greaseable palms out there.  If you're willing to hand out money, there are more than enough people willing to accept.

That's the problem.

I remember an elementary school teacher telling us about cheating on tests.  She said she would punish the "giver" more than the "taker" because you'd have to be crazy not to take the right answers.

So much for that early lesson in honesty and ethics.

This college thing raises the concept to a whole new level.  I can see where some parents did it because they wanted to give their kids the best education possible.  Ethics be damned.  While the middle man apparently was skilled in putting things over on the admissions offices, colleges and universities really need to take a long, hard look at how they do things, and how money is their ultimate God.

As I said last week, the true losers are the deserving students who were denied opportunity.

Big and prestigious colleges and universities aren't all they're cracked up to be.

I've met graduates from places with great reputations who bordered on incompetent.  On the other hand, I've worked with a lot of people from under the radar schools, who turned out to be great.

Some students thrive on a big campus.  I was very happy with my choice of a small school.  It was "me."

The only lesson that might come out of this is a realization there is a huge need  for system reform.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Andy's Angles: More Than One

Blakely has its big gold anchor near the Dickson City and Olyphant lines.

There is a smaller one in Old Forge.

The seas it's been in, the stories it can tell...

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Andy's Angles: Big Gun

This is the big gun that stands watch in front of the Old Forge Municipal Building along South Main Street.

Some might think it glorifies war.  I like to think it honorsd the men and women who fought.