Friday, December 31, 2010
Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve.
With any luck, we'll all be around to do it again next year.
As I think back on 2010, I can't say it's been the greatest year. I've watched friends lose loved ones, and I've watched friends lose jobs. We're all struggling with this down economy. Intolerance seems to be on the rise. Partisanship increases by the day, and it transcends politics. I'm not sure if it was just a lousy year, or if this is the new normal.
Regardless, let's all try to make the best of 2011.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
When I spoke with Kanjorski that morning, I got the distinct feeling that he knew his run in congress was about to come to an end. He spoke from the heart that morning, and again that night in his concession speech. Maybe if we had seen "that" Kanjorski during the campaign, the outcome would have been different. Kanjorski and his handlers took a different path, and the rest is history.
Regardless of how you feel about his politics, Kanjorski has made a graceful exit from the stage.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Several people stepped forward in an attempt to save it. It was too little, too late, with too little money. Eventually, a plan was worked out to save the remaining section and move it to an adjacent park. It'll become a community center.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
As noted earlier this month, Marywood University moved its tree lighting to a Monday, and I couldn't make it. I vowed to get there, eventually, to take a few pictures, and I did that the other afternoon. Here it is-- one of the best trees in the area, in a spectacular setting.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Some bring back pleasant times. Others note just the opposite, and you'll see what I mean tomorrow.
While I spent most of my time photographing buildings, bridges, trains, and bodies of water, there are actually human beings on this year's list. I'm just as amazed as you are.
While the next ten days will be dedicated to my bad photography, there will still be a comment or two on the news of the day, as events warrant. However, this is usually a slow time in the news biz, so photographs will take center stage.
It's hard to believe another calendar is headed for the trash can. I know it's a cliche, but the time does fly by, and it seems to speed up as you age.
I hope you enjoy the look back. It begins tomorrow morning.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
The Nittany Lions play the Florida Gators, a pair of 7-5 teams. I'm old school, and I don't feel 7-5 is good enough for a bowl. Unfortunately, these days, there are more bowls than there are good teams to fill them, so just relax and enjoy it.
And, if that wasn't enough, the Big Ten has named its two divisions "Leaders" and "Legends." What's wrong with east and west? Or, north and south?
Clearly, the Big Ten over-thought division names, and under-thought its logo.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
A&P filed for bankruptcy protection a few days ago. What a sad story-- from the dominant eastern U.S. supermarket chain to nearly going out of business.
I did some mid afternoon Christmas shopping yesterday. Nothing major-- just a few odds and ends. The stores were packed. I still don't believe the economy has turned around, but people are still willing to spend, somewhat, on Christmas gifts.
My heart goes out to the 300 people at Cinram in Olyphant, who are losing their jobs a week before Christmas.
George "Goober" Lindsey is 75 today.
I refuse to get weepy over Larry King departing CNN. He accomplished a lot, but stayed at the party far too long.
I don't mind a little bit of cold weather, but this week was too much, too fast.
Kudos to FOX Sports for spectacular video of the collapse of the Metrodome roof.
Why are there so many problems managing our cities effectively? Scranton is having its yearly budget problems. Either the mayor was too pessimistic or council is too optimistic. Wilkes-Barre's mayor is looking for give-backs from some city workers. Good luck with that.
Harrisburg in the state's newest financially distressed city. We've seen how well it worked for Scranton. Good luck with that. Maybe a dreadfully unfunny NBC sitcom comes along with the package.
Time's Person of the Year is the guy who "invented" Facebook. Really? Is that the best you can do? Julian Assange, hands down. No wonder the big news magazines have lost circulation and have become irrelevant.
I actually ate some brussel sprouts the other day, and they weren't bad.
An unexpected Christmas card is always a special treat.
Two groups of public service announcements always rip my heart out-- anything with animals, and Toys for Tots. Concerning the latter, any time I see those spots, I realize how lucky I was.
See you tomorrow morning.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Tuesday morning's assignment involved a trip to Montrose. Our meterologists believed there was a good chance that parts of the northern tier would get hammered by several inches of lake effect snow. It turns out that snowfall amounts were much less than anticipated, but it still warranted mention. It doesn't take much to slick up the roads, and the storm hit overnight. That meant a potentially tricky morning rush hour.
I'm saving the best for last. I had it easy. All I had to do is stand there and talk-- working to hit the right tone. You have to warn people of potential weather related issues, but not get panicky and overly dramatic over two inches of snow and single digit temperatures. It's Pennsylvania. It happens in winter-- a lot.
Satellite truck operator Corey Burns and photographer Mike Erat were the ones who had the real hard jobs, and they deserve the bulk of the credit.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Apparently, people in northeastern and central Pennsylvania aren't the only ones who fly to the supermarket when snow is in the forecast.
I have to admit that I have been tempted to head to the store when the forecast turns ugly. Instead of bread and milk, it's caned soup, Pop Tarts and Diet Pepsi. Fortunately, I'm usually well stocked, so those storm prompted trips are few and far between.
We all make fun of the supermarket rush, but I can understand it-- especially for families with small children. You can run out of the staples rather quickly.
For the rest of us, even the worst of storms keeps you off the roads for only a day or two. There's no need to panic. The snow stops. It always does.
By the way, there's big snow possible for the weekend. Save me some Pop Tarts. Strawberry. Unfrosted, if you can. Thanks.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I've used Fed Ex many, many times. There's never been a problem. The company knows how to deliver a package.
I minored in public relations, and I've been in broadcasting more than thirty years. I know what I'm talking about.
Today's blog might be too "inside baseball" for many of you, but I'll do it anyway.
Now that those items are out of the way, let me tell you about my Monday.
I was assigned to do a story on Fed Ex because the company was shipping 16 million packages-- a company record.
I looked through our files for some Fed Ex video. None existed. The reason for that will be noted later.
We set up one of our microwave trucks at the Fed Ex building in Pittston Township just before 5:00 AM. Watching all those trucks and vans leave the bays was an impressive sight. Pictures tell only part of the story. I needed to speak with someone.
Early Monday mornings are not peak time at the customer service desk. Only a few people were dropping off packages, and only one had Christmas gifts. She declined to speak on camera.
I called the Fed Ex media relations office in Memphis, which didn't open until 9:30, eastern time. By the way, naming the office "media relations" is rather humorous. The first time I called, I was stuck on hold for seven minutes. I gave up and called back a few minutes later. This time, it was voice mail. I left a name and number. No one in Pittston Township, or the "Fed Ex Office" store in Wilkes-Barre Township could talk without permission from the home office. I waited and waited for the return call from the media relations office. Nothing. Peak shipping day must have been a busy one, with calls from tv stations, radio stations and newspapers from around the country. I can understand the demands on the time of the folks in Memphis.
For a while, Fed Ex has been sending out notices on its package shipment milestone. You think the company would have been ready for the media onslaught on the actual day. You would also think the media relations office knows something about television news and deadlines.
I realized why we had no Fed Ex video in our files. It's because the company has never cooperated in the past. The video we used for our morning broadcast came from one of the networks, who got "handout" video from Fed Ex.
My return call from Memphis came at 11:58 AM. The media relations person explained he tried to find a local to speak with us, but couldn't. How many people work for Fed Ex locally? Hundreds. He couldn't find one who could tell us what the Christmas rush was like? Just one?
I told him I had a deadline two minutes away and I already did the story-- with UPS.
Monday, December 13, 2010
The folks in Archbald have found a different way to display theirs.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
This is Lackawanna County's Christmas tree, on Courthouse Square in Scranton, on a recent morning.
It's a beautiful tree in a bad location-- tucked away in a corner and hidden behind the flagpoles. With all that room on the square, couldn't they find a better place?
Friday, December 10, 2010
First, there's nothing I really feel the need to say. Holiday stress and depression are setting in. Bad weather is on the way. A little eye candy seems an appropriate and pleasant way to begin a pre holiday weekend.
I was traveling through Archbald late yesterday afternoon when St. Thomas Aquinas Church on Church Street caught my eye. The sun was hitting it just right. The sky was clear and blue. I just had to grab my camera and fire off a few frames. There was no need to tweak the colors. This is exactly the way it was. It's a beautiful building.
Stay safe, and with any luck, I'll see you tomorrow morning.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
When the school district was designing the new Scranton High School near Memorial Stadium, it asked west siders if they'd like to be included. The answer was "no." They want their own high school, even if it's old and with a frequently malfunctioning boiler.
Having laid that foundation, what's going on up there? I was driving to work, early on a Monday morning, and noticed a lack of holiday lights on poles and over the streets.
Below is a day time shot, looking north on South Main Avenue. It looks like your average day in West Scranton.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I was like much of America that night, watching Monday Night Football on ABC. It was late, and I was drifting in and out of sleep, but I distinctly heard Howard Cosell break the news about the shooting, and how John Lennon was pronounced dead at a New York Hospital.
I was a sophomore in college at the time. I don't know if I didn't have a class the next day, or if I just had one early in the morning, but I do remember picking up my friend Mark in my 1978 Chevrolet Blazer and going for a long ride. Markie, as he was known in the 'hood, was back from a break in the U.S. Army. We spent a lot of time catching up and talking about what had happened the night before.
We wound up at the Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg. Hess's was one of the anchor stores back then. It had a decent record department, and I remember it was mobbed the day after the murder. Anything Beatles or Lennon was flying off the racks. I wasn't sure if people were showing their love for John Lennon or if they were just speculating the stuff would be worth a lot of money down the long and winding road.
There was a lot of radio listening on our journey that day. Of course, Lennon music was on every station. I was in the single digits during the height of the Beatles' popularity, so I really didn't appreciate their greatness, and Lennon's loss didn't hit me quite hard as it did some others. Sad, nonetheless. I always marveled at how the Beatles re-invented themselves a few times over the years. What you heard at the beginning was a lot different than what you heard at the end. That's talent. The Beatles' captivated a nation. Again, that's talent.
I was on the college radio station a couple times a week back in '80. Beatles, both solo and as a collective were usually part of my rotation. I remember playing a few selections that week, but not going nuts. I reasoned that there were others capable of doing a better job at looking back, and we were supposed to be an alternative radio station, anyway.
30 years later, emotions still run high, and that shows how important John lennon was to so many people.
Monday, December 6, 2010
For years, in an attempt to feel "Christmassy," I sent out a ton of Christmas cards. The Christmas card therapy, admittedly selfish, eventually stopped working, and except for a few, I gave up. Sorry.
My alma mater, Marywood University, was also part of the equation. Every year, I'd do the same thing-- get to the campus before the annual tree lighting, sit in the lounge for a while, walk around, visit the library, stop by the radio and tv stations, drop by the office of an old friend, then make my over to the rotunda for the tree lighting. If it's not the best Christmas tree in the area, in the best setting, it's on the short list. My yearly visits brought back a lot of memories, mostly good, and I really looked forward to it.
Scratch Marywood off my list. The tree lighting used to be held in the late afternoon of one of my days off. Not this year. The tree will be lit this afternoon at 4, well past my bed time on a work night. I severely doubt I can make it.
If you're in the neighborhood, stop by. Music, punch, cookies, and a spectacular tree. You can't go wrong.
I'll likely get up there to take a few pictures this week or next, but it won't be the same.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
This is a Thursday morning picture of the Lackawanna River-- swollen, but well within its banks. The picture was taken shortly after sunrise. I'm standing on the foot bridge between Blakely and Olyphant, looking downstream.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
There are on-line petitions aimed at saving Harry and the rest. Save your time. It's too late.
I really miss the old "CBS Morning News." It was a solid, hard news broadcast. The network morning shows are way too fluffy for my tastes. Cable is even worse. CNN is the best of a bad lot. Unfortunately, hard news, in the morning, on the network level is a tough sell. CBS gave up on hard news in the morning in the early 80's.
Can someone please explain Anne Hathaway to me? She's pretty and talented, and will co-host the Academy Awards next year. I just don't think there's enough star power and acting chops to bestow the title of Hollywood's current "it" girl. Anne Hathaway is adequate, at best.
Speaking of adequate at best, Ryan Seacrest just signed a $60 million, three year contract with Clear Channel radio. I can use an explanation for that, too.
Al Masini died this week. 80. He created "Entertainment Tonight." When I first saw it, I thought it would never last. That was 30 years ago.
I know it does well in the ratings, but all-Christmas music stations get on my nerves, and good luck to the staff who has to listen to that stuff all day.
Jon Miller, fresh from being booted off ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, has turned down an offer to do the Sunday night games on ESPN Radio. It's our loss.
I attempted to watch "Cougar Town" again the other night. It's almost as un-funny as "The Office."
The Capital One series of commercials featuring the Vikings continue to be among the best on television, and the Christmas version is especially well done.
A friend shipped me an internet item that says Billy Bob Thornton is interested in doing a "Bad Santa" sequel, as long as it's as dark as the original. I love that movie.
Don't forget about Julie Sidoni and Scott Schaffer on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?!" this afternoon at 4:30 on WNEP.
I've pointed out bad reporting in this space, and in the interest of equal time, the Times~Tribune did an excellent story the other day on Scranton's useless surveillance cameras. $220,000 wasted on a system that isn't monitored and doesn't work. It's a shame.
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" never gets old.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I didn't want to write about this until I had some accompanying photos, and Tuesday afternoon, I slipped down to the Mall at Steamtown to take another look at Miniature Memories.
It's a huge model train collection, owned by Don Clark, and put together with the help of volunteers. The whole thing started in 1977 at Keyser Oak Center, then the Scranton Marketplace. Mayor Jim McNulty helped Miniature Memories move into the old Oppenheim building, when it was empty in the early 80's. McNulty was desperately trying to get people to visit the downtown, and his showmanship is dearly missed.
When Oppenheim's was redeveloped, Miniature Memories found a home in the Gertrude Hawk chocolate store in Dunmore, until that store closed earlier this year. Next stop, back to downtown Scranton and the mall.
When I visited, the adults seemed to be enjoying it as much, if not more, than the children. I thought about that for a moment. It has to be because trains bring back wonderful childhood memories and thoughts of the way Christmas used to be-- when your biggest worry as a kid was getting your homework done in time so you could watch Gilligan's Island. We had vibrant downtowns. Window shopping was fun. We actually hung out and talked with our friends instead of Twittering and texting.
As you might have heard by now, Don Clark passed away last week. Thankfully, there are other volunteers to carry on his work, and they are willing to share their gift. It appears Miniature Memories is open during normal mall hours. There's no charge to get in, but please think about slipping a dollar or two into the collection box. The money goes to St. Joseph's Center and the Christmas Holiday Bureau.
Miniature Memories hasn't changed much over the years, and that's a good thing. In an era when so much comes and goes so fast, it's nice to know there's something close that can remind us of happier times.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
This is one of the big toy soldiers that guard the front of 417 Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton. My broker is in this building, so I hope the soldiers do a good job of guarding my assets.
Below is the wider view, from the Mall at Steamtown parking garage.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Living the nightmare isn't funny.
I had a minor issue with the XM/Sirius satellite radio people. I called the "listener care" center Saturday, and it was abundantly clear that I reached a foreign land.
Outsourcing jobs is bad in and of itself. It's even worse when the person on the other end of the telephone has no idea what you're talking about. If you're going to outsource customer service, at least make sure your call takers know how to service the customer. After going around in circles for a while, I asked for a manager. "Bob" informed me that none were available. I gave up and decided to call another day.
A second try came Monday afternoon. The two people I got on the phone were a little more helpful, but not by much. I was ready to cancel the service, but I do like it so much, so I mustered up every ounce of patience I had.
It appears my problem was resolved. I can't say for sure because I have zero confidence in the XM/Sirius "listener care" people.
Why do I have this horrible feeling I'll be dealing with that outsourced call center again in the not-too-distant future?
Monday, November 29, 2010
As noted earlier, I covered the four alarm fire on South Franklin Street Tuesday morning. The nice people across the street, at Central United Methodist Church were kind enough to open their doors to the fire victims and the firefighters. It gave them a chance to get out of the morning chill, a place to sit down, and clean bathrooms.
Regular blog readers know I'm addicted to Diet Pepsi, and church personnel didn't turn me away from their porcelean facilities, even though I was neither firefighter nor fire victim. Thank you.
That was "mysterious way" number one.
"Mysterous way" number two appeared when I walked into the church, and saw this sign on one of the doors. It provided a much needed smile on an awful morning, and let me tell you why.
I had the pleasure of working with and learning from the legendary Kevin Jordan at the old WYOU. He was a friend long before that, during my radio days. Even though Kevin had a unique way of pushing your buttons back in the day, I'm glad I know him.
One of Kevin's favorite phrases was "walk with Jesus." Seeing the sign in the church Tuesday morning brought back some pleasant memories. When you're covering a morning of misery, every bright moment counts.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I had a few spare moments to do a little wandering in Wilkes-barre the other day. This is the Stegmaier Mansion, a bed and breakfast on South Franklin Street. The porch looks a little cluttered due to renovations currently in progress.
There is so much to say that I'll just let their web site do the heavy lifting. Below, the mansion's fantastic gate.