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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Prince of Darkness

Let's review.

I tell you ad nauseum that I hate Black Friday, I don't like Independence Day noise, I'm not fan of Christmas and New Year's mayhem...  and the last two weeks in January are among my least favorite of the year.

Here's why January is on my "you know what" list..  Even though the days are getting longer and the sun is a little stronger, it's still pretty dark out there.  The Christmas decorations and lights are down.  It's dismal.

There is a little "light" at the end of the tunnel.  It seems like an increasing number of people decorate for Valentine's Day.  It's nice to see strings of red lights on front porches.  I've noticed a relatively new trend of light blue light strings on homes.  I assume that notes the snow, ice, and cold of winter.  I like it!  It's a tough time of year to find anything bright.

Speaking of lights, I see the city of Scranton and the newspaper have finally noticed what I've been complaining about here for months-- the darkness of downtown Scranton, especially Lackawanna Avenue.  Some fixes are on the way, and you need more.

There is another late January issue-- the cold and the snow.  All the lights in the world can't fix that.  The worst will soon be over.  The average daily highs and lows bottom out soon, and the climb begins February 1.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Listen and Learn

It happens Saturday, and it's one of the most important events of the year.

The League of Women Voters is holding its annual school on how to run a campaign.  You can find it at the University of Scranton.

I've been doing this a long time, and I am continually amazed at the number of candidates who run lousy campaigns.  Even more amazing is the number of so called political consultants and advertising people who have little or no clue as to that new news media needs.

I've never been to one of these schools, but I have seen extensive videos on the local cable TV public access channel.  It's good stuff.  Valuable information. 

It's not just a "candidate" thing.  I've seen so many who manage to get elected that just can't handle the news media.  We're not your friends.  We're not the enemy, either.  We're just out to get a solid story and inform our audience.  I've seen dozens of elected officials who are not pro-active and haven't the slightest idea how to keep their constituents informed.  Running a city or a county, a police department, a coroner's office...  are not 9 to 5, Monday through Friday jobs.  You want the big chair behind the big desk?  You want the power?  Get ready to shoulder the responsibility.

There is a new batch of elected officials in office.  Some have started off the wrong way.  they feel they are not responsible to the people who elected them.  They are trying to muzzle employees and stifle the free flow of information.  I've seen it many times before.  It never works.

Go to campaign school.  It's a decision you won't regret.

By the way, mixed results on my Championship Weekend picks.  I did predict a Kansas City vs San Francisco Super Bowl, but I didn't think SF would cover the spread.  It did.  As I write this, KC is a one point favorite.  I'll likely make a pick, here, the Friday before the game.

People will watch the Super Bowl regardless, but FOX has to be happy with the match-up.  Big population in the Bay Area.  Kansas City has a big star QB.  Both teams have powerful offenses, and scoring is what brings eyeballs to televisions.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Andy's Angles: They Even Took the Flag

Gander Outdoors, to the right of Staples, recently closed its Dickson City store, and several others.

When Gander Outdoors, formerly Gander Mountain, took over, it planted a huge flag pole and flag in the parking lot.

The flag was huge.  You could see it for miles.  Sadly, the flag disappeared when the store closed.  It's too bad the plaza's owner, Staples or the other store in the plaza, Best Buy, didn't assume responsibility.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Andy's Angles: Focus

I recently bought a couple of new lenses for a camera I've had for years.  Some rare down time during Christmas afforded me the opportunity to watch some "how to" videos on the internet.

Fast forward to the morning of January 2.  It was again some rare down time, and an even more rare sunny winter day.

One of my "go to" spots is a park in Blakely, along the Lackawanna River.

In the shot below, notice how the focus is on the tree branch hanging over the river.  The water is blurred.
In the photo below, it's just the opposite.
Okay, I'm not going to win any awards, but it's a start.

By the way, one video I watched showed how much shutter speed can influence how you photograph water.  I'll have more on that in the weeks to come.

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Sports Edition

ESPN is said to be prepared to offer Tony Romo $ 10 million to jump from CBS when his contract expires later this year.  Why?  Romo is good.  He's not great.  It's clear Monday Night Football needs changes.  There are better people out there. Romo talks way too much.

13 days between the national college football semi finals and the championship game.  Far too long, and I lost interest days ago.  The NCAA has to find a way to keep the championship game from getting lost in the NFL playoffs.  I listened to a fair amount of sports talk radio this week.  It was all NFL, all the time-- until the baseball cheating scandal hit.

There's speculation Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints will retire and go right in to the network television booth.

The Mad Dog sports talk channel on Sirius/XM has assembled a very entertaining line up.

Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher is going to the Hall of Fame.  This is the guy thought Kordell Stewart was the answer to the Steelers problems.  How did that work out for you?  Cowher was 2 and 4 in AFC championship games.  As I always say, it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Pretty Good.

I have less of a problem with former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson going to the Hall of Fame.  As someone who doesn't like the Cowboys, that is difficult for me to say.  Johnson has been on FOX for years, and in my opinion, he's the only one on the set who really has interesting things to say.  I wish FOX would give him more time.  Terry Bradshaw comes in second, but only when he's really riled up about something.

Both Cowher and Johnson were told of their selections on live TV.  I just have a feeling they would still be on the outside looking in if they didn't have high profile network TV jobs.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than a month.  Hallelujah!  I just can't get interested in the endless seasons, and even more endless playoffs of the NBA and NHL.

Kudos to the Houston Astros for firing their cheating manager and general manager.   I hope it sends a strong message to the rest of the league.  If a game loses its integrity, it loses everything.  The same goes for the Red Sox.

I'm going with the favorites, and I expect a Kansas City/San Francisco Super Bowl.  I am less confident about picking San Francisco to beat Green Bay.  If I was a gambling man, I'd be tempted to take Green Bay and the points.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Speech

I give variations of the same speech to every prospective journalist and broadcaster I meet.  It essentially entails:  Make sure this is something you want to do.  You will be here on weekends, overnights, early mornings, birthdays and holidays.  You will see many unpleasant things, and you will meet people on the worst day of their lives.  When your friends get the day off because it snows, you'll be coming to work.  You're not going home, either.  You'll be in a hotel for your safety and to make sure you can get to work.  We don't get "snow days."

Yes, it has scared away a few.  You simply have to know what you're getting in to.  when I hear complaints, I invariably say "What did you expect when you took this job?"

That brings us to Harry and Meghan.  Meghan Markle married a prince and seems to be uncomfortable with life in the spotlight?  Well, what did you expect when you married a prince?

Having said that, I think the media shouldn't hound the royals without mercy.  I have a NewsFlash for the foreign media.  The royal family isn't that interesting.

Harry and Meghan plan to move to Canada to get away from it all.  It's caused an uproar in the royal family.   Why?  Respect their wishes.  Let them go to lead their own lives.  Don't force Harry and Meghan to be miserable.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Already?

Even though we've been enjoying above normal temperatures this month, the dead of winter seems to last forever.

There is the occasional ray of sunshine and it arrived this past weekend.  Bakeries and supermarkets have started to fry up paczki.  It's a filled doughnut that arrives in winter and disappears the day before Lent.

The donuts are delicious, but I find what they represent even tastier.    It's "Spring" in the not too distant future.

The issue is getting from here to there.  Luckily, there are paczkis to make the days a little more tolerable.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Philadelphia Freedom

I've touched on this briefly before and the topic came up again when the Pennsylvania Turnpike hiked its tolls January 5th.

I always loved going on the turnpike as a kid, because it always meant a fun trip-- a Phillies game, Atlantic City, the big mall near Allentown, just some general wandering.

Clearly, things have changed.  The turnpike is a nice short cut from Clarks Summit to Taylor and Pittston.  I use it at work to get to stories in Carbon County.  Most of the joy is gone, but there are still fond memories.

Springboarding off that, part of the fun involved with heading south on the turnpike was listening to Philadelphia radio stations.  KYW was at the top of the list, but there were others.  Philadelphia was heaven for a radio and news junkie like me.

Well, some of that magic is gone, too.  There is someone you can blame.  Her name is Alexa.    I can listen to KYW, WOGL, WIP and WPEN FM any time I want, and I still do it most days. KYW is on my smart speaker most mornings of my off days.  It's still a kick and I still appreciate solid radio news and sports. 

The mystique has disappeared, but it has evolved in to something else.  I know people who work at KYW and WPEN FM.  It's a kick to hear them and I'm thrilled they are doing well.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Half

We are only a couple of days away from January 15, the day I consider to be winter's "half finished" point.  Meteorological winter is considered December, January, and February-- the three coldest months.  Half way through January means half way through winter.

As I see it, it hasn't been bad so far-- only a few minor show and ice events where I live.  Yes, I know our northern tier counties were hammered a couple of times.  We've had above normal temperatures, including some record breakers.

Even if you factor in "astronomical winter," Groundhog Day, the half way point, is only a few weeks away.

Yes, I know we've had some fierce cold in late January, and some major snow storms in February and March.  Still, we have made it over a significant hump.  Sunrises are late, but sunsets get a little later every day.  You can feel the sun getting a little stronger.

We'll be complaining about the heat and humidity before you know it.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Andy's Angles: First of the Year

It's 12 days in to the new year, and I still haven't inflicted a train photo upon you.

Your luck has run out.

This one was in the Steamtown National Historic Site roundhouse the morning of January 2.  As you can see, it was still decorated for Christmas, complete with wreath on the front.