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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10: The Dietrich

And finally, my favorite picture of the year.  I took this one on the morning of September 12, shortly after the Susquehanna River receded.  Tunkhannock's Dietrich theater took on a lot of water.  Volunteers pitched in before and after the flood to make sure the Dietrich survived.

I hope you and your family have a happy and safe 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10: McDade Park

Today's offering is the coal miner's statue at McDade Park in Scranton.  It was taken January 5.

Here's why I like it, in addition to the cool statue.  The flag jumps out against the menacing, grey winter clouds.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 10: Wilkes University

Today's top ten offering is a little reminder of spring time on a cold, winter day.

I took this one the afternoon of April 27th at Wilkes University.

John Wilkes is keeping an eye on the green space and the clock tower behind the library.  As you can see, the leaves were just starting to appear on the trees.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 10: Flash Flood

I've been doing this broadcasting thing for more than thirty years now, and the July 4 flash flooding in Plymouth and Plymouth Township was among the worst I've ever seen.

Above is what happened when Coal Creek came roaring down Coal Street.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top 10: The Watres Armory

I love this building, and I'm worried about it.

The National Guard moved out of the ancient Watres Armory in Scranton, into a new building on Olyphant Avenue in the city.  The cornerstone on the Watres says "1877."

What do you do with an old, massive armory?  Even though it's on the National Register of Historic Places, I fear this story will not have a happy ending.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Top 10: Tunkhannock

Regular blog readers know that I like history, and this is among my favorite courthouses in the area.  This is the Wyoming County Courthouse in Tunkhannock.

The picture was taken on the spectacular, unseasonably warm, and clear afternoon of March 17.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I was doing some aimless wandering last week, looking for a Christmas blog item.  I decided to use this-- the nativity scene across from Carbondale City Hall.  You don't see many nativity scenes these days, so I thought it could use a little exposure.

It happens every year.  There are complaints about the season losing its meaning and political correctness being involved.  Apologies in advance for the lecture, but I look at it like this.  If you hear someone say "Happy Holidays," it's to include everyone-- not exclude.  If you think someone's taking the Christ out of Christmas, too bad.  That's their problem.  Holidays and religion are personal matters.  Celebrate the day the way you want it celebrated, and by doing that, Christmas traditions remain alive.
By the way, Carbondale has a lot of holiday charm.  It's small town America.  I hope your Christmas is a great one.

The Top Ten Photos of 2011 continues tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Top 10: Dushore

I thought this picture would be a good Top Ten offering for Christmas Eve-- two churches, on a hill, in Dushore.

This one was taken on the morning of July 26.

Dushore and much of Sullivan County got whacked by flooding in September, and I hope the joy of the season brings some comfort to those who suffered losses.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 10: Mellow Park

I learned a long time ago that one of the keys to surviving winter is to go out and do something fun in the cold.  Bad photography falls in to that category.

This picture was taken the morning of February 5.  It is a shot of the snow covered and abandoned basketball court at Mellow Park in Peckville, just waiting for spring time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top 10: Tamaqua

There are parts of our area that have a bad reputation.  When a lot of people hear "Tamaqua" they think "old coal town."

Think again.  It's actually a very nice little town, and proof of that is this photo from the morning of July 5.  A fountain, train station, park and gazebo really brighten up the center of the borough.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top 10: The Susquehanna River

A lot of organizations select a "Newsmaker of the Year."  My pick for 2011 is the Susquehanna River.

This is a shot of the Water Street Bridge in Pittston, looking west.  It was taken the morning of September 8, as the rain from Tropical Storm Lee was sending the Susquehanna to record levels.

It's amazing how a beautiful recreational asset one day can be a devastating menace the next.  As hard as we try, the best we can do is an attempt to contain it and minimize the damage.  The river always wins.  Nature is undefeated.

No one believed there could be another Agnes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top 10 Preview

Yes, it's that time of year again.  Get ready for the third annual "Top 10 Photographs of the Year" series of blogs.

As always, these are not necessarilly the best and most beautiful shots of the year, but they are my favorites-- even though some depict diffucult days here in our area.

It almost didn't happen.  I nearly lost my files due to a computer issue back in October, but a talented techie saved my butt.  He also saved my database of the times, places, and subjects of my photographs.

I learned my lesson.  The database is now a Google document, immune from local hardware issues.  I also promise to be a bit better at backing up my work.

Going through a year's worth of photos is always a lot of fun.  I now spend a lot of my professional time behind a desk, but I do get out once in a while.  It was an interesting year, and there was never a shortage of subjects to photograph.  Reviewing the shots is a nice way to remember the places I've been and the things I've seen.

The Top Ten starts tomorrow.  You have been warned.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Working Christmas

I was doing some math the other day, and I figured out that I worked my first Christmas 30 years ago.

More math:  I've worked between 20 and 25 Christmasses over the years.

Don't cry for me.  When you take a job in broadcasting, you have to understand that working holidays is part of the package.  I'm continually amazed at the number of kids entering the business who just don't get it.  What are they teaching them in college?

Anyway, back to my first "professional" Christmas.  It was at WARM 590 in December of 1981.  The work wasn't difficult-- putting on a tape of Handel's Messiah at midnight, followed by hours and hours of pre recorded Christmas music on reel-to-reel tapes.  It was torture for someone who doesn't like Christmas music, but it was a job, and I was happy to have it.

Now, remember this was the time before massive broadcasting conglomerates.  The ownership cap was seven AM and seven FM stations-- total.  There are companies that now have close to those totals in one city.  I was locked in the WARM Building in Avoca, all night, all alone-- just me and the Carpenters singing every Christmas song known to man, with an occasional Feliz Navidad thrown in.

We had a Christmas tree in the lobby.  The office staff had a habit of unplugging it at 5 PM, the end of their day.  I had a habit of plugging the tree in again.  It gave the place some needed warmth, and it needed it badly.

The hours dragged, but finally, at 6 AM Christmas morning, my shift came to an end.  If memory serves, Vince Sweeney was my relief.  I stayed for a few minutes to chat with Vince, and then, I was on my way home, to sleep through Christmas.

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, so I'll be working and that's not a problem.  As I mentioned in previous blogs, I'm not a holiday guy.

Remember, if you are working on Christmas this year, you are not alone.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: Back at the Park

More reasons to like South Abington Park...  the path is paved and lit.  It's lined with benches, and there is shelter, including bathrooms, adjacent.

The one drawback-- the path isn't very long, but this is a place where the plusses far outweigh the minuses.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: The Park

It's called South Abington Park, and it runs along Leggett's Creek in Lackawanna County.  It was always on my list of places to visit, and Thanksgiving morning was my day.

Covered bridges over a pretty creek-- can't go wrong.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Scrapple

A look at the calendar shows 2011 is almost over, to it's time for a little scrapple and to tie up some loose ends...

The last days of the year will be dedicated to some of my favorite photos from the past twelve months.  I'll toss in a thought or two if and when something enormous happens.

I usually find December flies by, but it seems to be dragging this year, and I just can't figure it out.

My number of Twitter followers increases every few days, and once again, I thank you for that.  I feel obligated to Tweet more, but let's face it-- my life isn't that interesting.  Also, I pick up new Linked In contacts every few days.  I'm flattered.

Accused child molester Jerry Sandusky waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning.  Despite the comments of the defense, you can't help but think a plea deal is in the works.  90 per cent of the time, the end result of a preliminary hearing is the charges being forwarded to trial, but it does give the defense a good look at the proseuction's case, and a chance to see how witnesses react on the stand.  If there's no plea deal, waiving the hearing is a huge mistake.  You can't say precedence has been set.  The defense has made a lot of mistakes the last couple months-- including allowing Sandusky to open his yap.

By the way, please tell Mr. Sandusky's legal team that I've never required a lesson in how to shower.

The NFL has its shortcomings, but the big networks really like it.  It's simple-- big ratings.  There's a new TV contract.  CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN will pay a combined $ 2 billion a season.  There are some tweaks and changes, but things will essentially stay as-is, but with the NFL getting a 60 per cent bigger pay day.

I blew through one of the shopping malls yesterday afternoon, and it was extremely busy.  Every year, we hear dire predictions on consumer spending, and every year, people blow through a lot of cash and rack up credit card debt.

I can complain about anything-- except this year's November and December weather.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sunday Morning

Thank you, Roone Arledge.

Sunday mornings used to be a public affairs wasteland.  ABC used to have something called "Issues and Answers," a totally forgettable program.  When Arledge took over ABC News, he decided to change things.  David Brinkley was hired in the early 80's, "This Week" was born, and things started to move.

The increased competition caused NBC and CBS to up their games.  CBS had "Sunday Morning" in 1979.  Eventually, weekend editions of "Today" and "Good Morning America" were born. WNEP has been doing weekend morning news for around 20 years.  As someone who's been there for the last 13 and a half, thank you for watching.  Weekends are important.

Now that I've built the foundation...  ABC announced Tuesday that Christiane Amanpour will leave "This Week" to become ABC's global affairs correspondent, and she will also report for CNN.  Great move!

I thought Amanpour was okay on Sunday mornings, but Washington politics clearly isn't her thing.  ABC tried to make the broadcast more internationally focused, but after all these years, viewers are accustomed to a Washington centered broadcast.  It wasn't bad, but it really didn't work.  On top of that, we're headed in to a presidential election year.  Politics will be huge.

I smelled something wrong Saturday night.  Amanpour was MIA at the Republican presidential candidates' debate in Iowa.  Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos handled it.  You would think the anchor of your Sunday morning Washington broadcast would play a role.  It didn't happen.

In an admirable display of common sense, ABC announced "Good Morning America" anchor Stephanopoulos is headed back to "This Week."  He'll continue to anchor GMA, but only four days a week.  Stephanopoulos had TW for eight years, and he grew as a broadcaster during that time.  I thought he'd bomb on GMA, but I was wrong.  The ratings are up.  While Stephanopoulos seems uncomfortable with the fluff, the rest of the broadcast is strong.  I'm sure TW will be a better broadcast because of Stephanopoulos' GMA experience.

CBS announced on Sunday that "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer will go to an hour for 20 weeks beginning in April, and possibly even longer.  You can't help but like anything Bob Schieffer does.

Throughout all of this, one thing is abundantly clear-- competition makes everyone stronger.  See you this weekend.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Power

It is perhaps my favorite line in politics and one of my favorite lines of all time.  It came from Governor Robert Casey.  "What did you do when you had the power?"

Casey knew politicians had the juice to get things done, and he hated to see that ability wasted.  Whether or not you agreed with his politics and policies, Casey's line is a great one.

Lackawanna County Commissioner Mike Washo, who did not seek reelection this year, now has some questions about the deal essentially turning over the local AAA baseball franchise to Mandalay Entertainment and the New York Yankees.  Washo went public with his questions just weeks before leaving office, and just days before control of the team passes out of local hands.

Mandalay is the organization that presided over huge drops in attendance, and anti-fan attitudes.

What did you do when you had the power?

Washo was one of the architects of the plan he now questions.  Admittedly, the Washo plan is better than one first drafted by then-commissioner Bob Cordaro.  It still leaves a lot to be desired, and lacks some essential guarantees.

Too little, too late.

What did you do when you had the power?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

LCCC Trees II

Photographing Christmas trees presents a challenge.  If you use the flash, you wash out the lights.  If you turn off the flash, the lights can be overwhelming, and the tree itself is too dark.

Be that as it may, here are "my" favorites at this year's Luzerne County Community Festival of Trees.


Above is first runner up.  It's the entry from the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

And below is my personal favorite.  It was done by the Cross Valley Federal Credit Union.
The pictures don't do justice to the trees, so I should explain my selections.  It's rather simple.  I went for the traditional look.

I know it's early, but Merry Christmas, and if you're in the Nanticoke area, stop by to see the trees in the Educational Conference Center at LCCC.

Monday, December 12, 2011

LCCC Trees I

I found myself with a little extra time off last week, and an itch to play with the camera.

A weekend newspaper story about a Festival of Trees tweaked my curiosity, so I drove down to take a look.

There are several trees on display inside LCCC's Educational Conference Center, each decorated by a different organization.  The trees will be on display until the 21st.  You can vote for your favorite.  Votes cost $1 each, and all the money raised goes to the American Red Cross.
I have absolutely no decorating skill, so I love looking at the work of others.  There are some really nice trees on display here, and it's even better because the money raised goes to charity.  Tomorrow, I'll show you my favorites.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: Diesels

A check of the list shows it's been a while since I've inflicted some train photos on you.

This one was taken shortly after sunrise on Thanksgiving morning.  The sun is low in the sky behind me, and that's my shadow in the foreground.

One of the engines was fired up.  The freight moves, even on a holiday.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: Freight Station

This is one of our area's treasures.  It's the old railroad freight station on West Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton.

It's also one of our area's tragedies.  The building has been empty for decades.  Plans to put something in it have repeatedly fallen through.

The building is in private hands.  Unlike Wilkes-Barre's Hotel Sterling and train station, this one is buttoned up and doesn't appear to be deteriorating.

Let's hope the old freight station gets developed into something spectacular one of these days.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Marywood & Me Again

It is my greatest yearly challenge as a bad amateur photographer-- the Marywood Christmas tree.

The rotunda of the Liberal Arts Building is relatively dark.  A flash washes out the LED tree lights.  The tree lights overwhelm the photo without the flash.  I always try a shot or two on every setting my camera has, and I usually get something barely passable.

The photo above was taken late Tuesday afternoon.  To quickly review, the Christmas spirit does not come to me easily.  The Marywood tree lighting gives me a nice little kick.  And, thank you Marywood for continuing to have the tree lighting AFTER Thanksgiving, as it should be.

For years, I wondered why I never attended the rotunda tree lighting as a student.  The answer finally appeared on Marywood's web site.  The tree lighting was an outdoor thing until 1982-- mid-way through my senior year.  I took an excess number of credits during my freshman and sophomore years.  I took at least one class every summer.  By the time my senior year rolled around, I wasn't spending much time on campus.  In fact, I wasn't even considered a full time student in the second semester of my senior year.

This year's tree lighting took place just three days after I chided Marywood, via blog, for a few things.  Several people spoke to me about it when I was on campus Tuesday.  Some agreed with what I wrote.  Some disagreed.  All were civil, and I can thank Marywood's culture for that.  I tracked a spike in blog hits on Friday, so I knew I was going to hear about it.

Part of Friday's blog dealt with the operation of the radio station.  I remarked on the lack of local content on a recent morning.  I was informed that the station is staffed with real live bodies beginning in the late morning, and continuing all afternoon and in to the night.  While I was relieved to hear that, it is still disappointing that all I heard was an endless stream of music.  Please, do something that reflects your city and your university community, even if it's recorded, and even if it lasts one minute out of every hour.  The station never sounded better, and in a lot of ways, that's a step backward.  Remember, owning a broadcasting license carries responsibility.

A few people encouraged me to visit more than once a year, and get involved in some alumni activities.  I'm not sure it will happen, but it was nice to be asked.  I'm not what you would call a "joiner."

I could tell there was some hurt and resentment over the Princeton Review "unhappy student" survey.  In some ways, it should be a wake up call to the Marywood community, even though the Princeton Review process appeared flawed.  Coming from one who doesn't bleed Marywood green, it even bothered me a bit.  It's been said many times, many ways.  A higher education is what you make of it.  My four years wasn't a barrel of laughs, but I was grateful my parents afforded me the opportunity.    I kept myself busy, on and off campus.  The time flew by, and I didn't regret choosing Marywood.  You wouldn't know it by reading the quarterly alumni magazine, but I've done okay.

In retrospect, Marywood was a good choice.  I'm from a small town, and I went to a small high school.  A relatively small college made sense.  Location and expense were the big issues at the time.  More things became clear after I received my diploma.

I won't pick apart last week's blog and Tuesday's visit issue-by-issue.  I do understand the blog was discussed and distributed in some Marywood offices.  It's possible absolutely nothing will change, but at least the university listened, and I thank the people there for that.

Same time, next year.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Long Ranger

With apologies to my friends in the weather office, I put very little stock in long range winter forecasts.  Weather patterns change every few weeks.  You might be able to spot a trend or two.  Accuracy?  It's just not happening.  I don't blame the meteorologists.  That's just the nature of the beast.  Seven days is about as far as it goes, and those last couple days are just a rough guide.

I noted earlier how the squirrels seemed more active this fall, how their fur was thick and it turned whiter earlier than normal.  That would seem to indicate a harsh winter is ahead.  The squirrels.  They know.

On the other hand, there's a big indicator this winter will be milder than normal.  I bought a new pair of boots a couple weeks ago.  The boots are in a box, in a closet.  They weren't cheap.  People who spend time outside in the winter know the value of a good pair of boots.  With my luck, my investment will remain in the box, and it won't pay off this winter.

I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

Okay, I was wrong about this one.

Last month, I wrote that Coke's plan to put its flagship brand in white cans for Christmas was genius.  A lot of people collect Coke items, and the cans really stood out on supermarket shelves.  I could see people buying the white cans to drink the contents, and to collect something unusual.  Coke has never appeared in a white can.

Well, things didn't go quite as planned.  Coke is pulling the white cans.  The problem?  Too many people were confusing the white with the silver Diet Coke cans.

I didn't buy the white cans, but I did look at them in stores.  I didn't confuse them for Diet Coke cans, but I can understand how that can happen.

Coke is the top selling soft drink in the USA.  You would have thought Coke understood not to screw with the brand after the "new Coke" debacle of the 80's.   We've now learned it applies to what's inside the can, and what's on the outside.

But then again, conspiracy theorists think this was just a plan by Coke to limit shelf time, and make the white cans even more valuable.

Live, learn, and drink.

By the way, I'm proud that one of my photos has been chosen "header of the week" at www.nepablogs.org.  Thank you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bowling

I wouldn't have complained if Penn State declined bowl invitations, but I'm okay with the Nittany Lions going to the January 2 TicketCity Bowl in Dallas.

Staying home would have shown some respect to the alleged victims of the sexual abuse scandal.

On the other hand, I didn't want to see team members punished for the bungling of the coaching staff and PSU administration.

Penn State is giving $1.5 million from the bowl to charities that benefit abused children-- also a good idea.

The following is a train of thought I borrowed from Steve Czaban at Yahoo Sports Radio.  The people who run the TicketCity Bowl have to be praying that there are no new revelations in the sex abuse scandal between now and game time.  I'm sure they'll have to deal with some scandal related distractions.  Another shoe dropping, something new, could send the distraction meter off the charts.

The bowl will be on ESPN U.  I had to check my cable system line-up.  It's there, on channel 272.

The battle with the University of Houston could be a really good game, and I'm sure the TicketCity Bowl people will be very relieved when Penn State gets on the jet to go home, right after the final gun sounds.

Monday, December 5, 2011

?

What's the deal with Herman Cain?

When you toss your hat in to the presidential ring, you have to know that every aspect of your life, past and present will be under the microscope.  Your opponents are looking for black marks.  The media will be digging.

Cain pulled out of the race Saturday, dogged by allegations of sexual harrassment and an extra marital affair.  Either he was arrogant to believe he'd get away with it-- or he didn't do it.

Can someone please explain Jerry Sandusky to me?

Sandusky gave another interview.  The latest was to the New York Times.  I really don't understand what he has to gain.  Like the NBC interview a few weeks ago, Sandusky comes off as just plain creepy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: Pergola

Today, another one of my patented ill fated attempts at being artsy.  This is the pergola at South Abington Park in Lackawanna County.  It was empty on a recent November morning.  The greenery is dormant.  There's no need for shade on a cold day.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: River Street

Today, more proof of why I call it "Bad Photography."

I was in downtown Wilkes-Barre, at the Market Bridge, in late October, when this scene caught my eye-- a cluster of colorful trees, with the courthouse rotunda in the distance.

So, on this cold December day-- a recent memory of a sunny fall morning.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Marywood & Me

Consider this the definitive blog entry on Marywood University.  I am a 1983 graduate, back when it was Marywood College.

The Princeton Review says its survey shows Marywood students are among the unhappiest in the nation.  If a Marywood student is unhappy, it is because he or she didn't do their research before deciding to attend.  Marywood is a conservative and sleepy community.  You will never hear "fun" and "Marywood" in the same sentence, and that's okay.  You're there to learn.  If you want to party, go somewhere else.  I will say that there are more than enough activities at Marywood and in the Scranton area to keep you busy.  You can also do what I did when I was a sophomore-- find a job.  Quit your whining.

Why did I go there?  It was close and it was cheap.  End of story.

My education was adequate.  I knew I wanted to be a broadcaster, so I made sure I was active at the radio and television stations.  More about those later.

Marywood has done some things that have angered me.  High on the list was taking Congressman Joe McDade's porkbarrel money for something called the "military family institute."  Thousands of your tax dollars was spent to produce a few paragraphs.  I was ashamed of my college.  While the military family institute is long gone, my disgust remains.  Marywood, you're better than that.  You never should have taken that money.

Marywood and I have been estranged for some time.  I've never attended a reunion, and I've never given it a dime, other than tuition.  If Maryood likes you, it really loves you.  In a fit of childish pique, I made the university take me off its mailing list several years ago.  I grew weary of reading about the same six graduates in every edition of the quarterly alumni magazine.  I had enough.  The university gives the distinct and unmistakeable impression there is an elite class, and the rest of us are chattel.

I try to go back every year for the Christmas tree lighting.  I will give Marywood a lot of credit for holding off on most of the Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving.  The campus remains a thing of beauty.  Most of the new construction has been on the edge of the campus.  The heart remains as-is, and as it should be.  Marywood bought the Scranton State School for the Deaf property for a song, and I'm okay with that, too.  Marywood will be a great care taker of the land and buildings.  You won't see a Turkey Hill built there.

Now, let's talk about broadcasting.  I listened to the college radio station for more than an hour the other morning.  In that time, I didn't hear one live voice, and the university should add that one to the "ashamed" list.  No disc jockey.  No weather.  No news.  Nothing to reflect the university and the community.  The radio station should be a tool to train tomorrow's broadcasters.  It should be a place to make mistakes, and learn the craft.  I was lucky to have done my time there.  Now, it's just a computerized, automated music machine, and that's plain wrong.

I vividly remember my first broadcast, in December 1979, and my last one, in January of 1983.  My first song was also my last song-- "The Stranger" by Billy Joel.  I treasured the opportunity.

Marywood has a channel on my cable company's line up.  Pardon a "geezer" moment.  Back in my day, we did four news broadcasts a week.  Now?  No news.  All I see is an occasional basketball game and a scrolling list of public service announcements.  A few of those on a recent evening were outdated.  Again, shame on you.  The university has a marvelous resource, and it's being wasted.

Yes, there is more to broadcasting than being a disc jockey and doing news.  DJ work hones your timing and adlib skills.  If you can handle the discipline of news, you can do just about everything else in the industry.

Way deep down, I wonder if the choice of an institute of higher education really makes a difference.  I've seen kids from obscure schools who were fantastic journalists and broadcasters, and I've seen students from allegedly great broadcasting/journalism universities who couldn't write a succinct and clear news story to save their lives.  They might have excelled in the college world.  The real world is an entirely different story.  I've discovered that colleges might not be places to learn, but rather develop what you already have in you.

If you're unhappy at Marywood, transfer out.  Last time I checked, there isn't a wall around the campus.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

About the Cover

Since I've been chainging blog headers, monthly, for the past couple years, December has always been the hardest.

I want to do something with a holiday theme.  The big Christmas displays aren't up and running until later in the month, and I'm not complaining.  I refer you to an earlier blog post about Christmas decorations going up far too early.

Anyway, this one almost fell right in to my lap.  As you will remember, there was a big snow storm Halloween weekend.  The Saturday night WNEP production crew built a massive snow man in the back yard, and I snapped off a photo before he melted.

What I really should do is take some extra Christmas photos this month, and save some for next year.

Regardless, have a great December.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Underappreciated





I'm not a good holiday person, so I usually find things to occupy and distract me.  I'm lucky this year, in that I've already found this year's candidates.

The first is the underappreciated 70's TV series "Barney Miller."  It was a series where clever writing and well developed characters led the way.  I founds the boxed set of all seven seasons on-line recently, and I've been enjoying a couple episodes just about every day.

I also found the first two seasons of the NBC sitcom "Wings" on DVD at one of those indoor flea markets.  I'll dive in to that as soon as I finish "Barney Miller."  It's a line I've used many times before-- when the history of TV is written, "Wings" will not be on the list of great sitcoms.  However, it was consistently funny and cute, and a solid performer for NBC every week.

The third seasonal diversion is a new biography of Howard Cosell.  I'll nibble away at that from time to time.

Bring on the holidays!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Inspection

It is my yearly ritual, and here is this year's version.

My car has to be inspected before the end of the month, and the day before Thanksgiving was my day.

I dropped off the car at the dealer in the morning.  The dealer's shuttle gave me a ride home.  When the car was ready in the early afternoon, the dealer offered a ride back to the shop, but I politely declined.  I wanted to take the bus.

Walmart founder Sam Walton had a concept called "MBWA."  It stands for management by walking around.  In other words, he wanted his managers out of the office and out on the sales floor.

It's a great idea.  I've stolen it as a way to get story and blog ideas.  You see a lot more outside than you do sitting in front of a computer at a desk.

Once again, I have to give a positive review to the COLTS system.  The bus was clean and warm.  Our route took us through a supermarket parking lot on the day before Thanksgiving, and I was impressed with the driver's patience.  The parking lot was packed, and some drviers were darting all over the place.  If that wasn't enough, we also passed Regional Hospital and Moses Taylor Hospital.  The streets are narrow, with cars parked on both sides.  Driving the bus in that environment is like threading a needle, but the driver did it.  The trip cost $1.25, and that's a bargain.

The closest bus stop is about four blocks away from the dealer.  My walk was over dirty streets and busted up sidewalks.  That is a constant every year, and it's unfortunate.

By the way, the car passed the inspection-- no problems detected.

Monday, November 28, 2011

McStrange

It took me a year and a half, but I finally ate in one of those redesigned McDonalds.

The food was the same.  My Big Mac was good.  The fries were solid, albeit over-salted.

The decor?  Earth tones, wood, glass, upholstered seats, tile, a little carpet.

No garish colors.  No plastic and chrome overload.

And, no Ronald McDonald.  Where was Ronald?  I need my Ronald.  It wasn't a trip to McDonalds without the clown.  I want my clown!

Having said that, no one ever chose a fast food restaurant based on the decor.  It's the location, and the ability to get decent food, at a reasonable price.  Most of all, you have to get me in and out in a hurry.

New look.  Same old lack of "fast" in "fast food."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: Cannon

There's something very Andy Griffith/Mayberry about canon in a park, and that's not a bad thing.

These two beatuties guard the Battle of Wyoming monument in Luzerne County.

Like yesterday's photos, it was shot late last month.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: Repairs

The Battle of Wyoming monument was nearly spilt in half by a bolt of lightning a few years ago.  Repairs have been made, and it looks spectacular-- no signs of damage.

If you look carefully, running down the left side in the photo above is the ground that leads from the lightning rod at the top, into the earth.

There's still a lot of color on the trees.  The photos were taken late last month.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Unfinished Business

I keep trying to move on from the Penn State scandal, and it keeps pulling me back.  The Wall Street Journal published a story on Tuesday detailing how Joe Paterno fought his players being held to the same behavioral and disciplinary standards as other students.  First, he recruited thugs who repeatedly got in to trouble on campus.  Second, it's further proof that the sainted Joe Paterno is a hypocrite.  I'm sure a lot of other college coaches have pulled the same stunts, and I've even seen it on the high school level.  However, it's more proof that the sanctimonious Paterno is a fraud.

I'm also trying my best to avoid going on an anti Black Friday rant.  I think time will take care of that one.  Black Friday will become Black Thursday within the next few years.

CNN Radio anchor Stan Case was killed in a car crash Tuesday in Alabama.  Great voice.  Great delivery.  He also voiced some pieces for CNN and was an anchor when Headline News actually did news.  I'm saddened by the loss.

I'm also saddened by the loss of disco singer and actress Andrea True.  She had one big hit:  "More, More, More."  Heart failure in Kingston, NY November 7.  She was 68.  As noted previously, some disco wasn't bad.

A member of the Cincinnati Bengals was penalized for hair pulling during a tackle in the game versus the Baltimore Ravens.  Hey, if you wear your hair that long, you run the risk of having it pulled, and it shouldn't be a penalty.  It is difficult for me to type this paragraph because I'm a huge Troy Polamalu fan.  It's time for the NFL to ban excessive hair length, except on the cheerleaders.

Tim Tebow could turn me in to a Denver Broncos fan.  I hate to see someone undeservedly kicked around so much.  Is he the NFL's greatest talent?  No.  He pours on the religion a bit heavy, but he won games in college, and he's helped the Broncos this year.

Blog visits, Linked In connections, and Twitter followers are all up.  Thank you!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Creep

I've resigned myself to the fact that the Christmas season begins just before Halloween.  While it might seem earlier every year, it really isn't.

There is something new we now have to endure.  Thanksgiving used to be a day off from the commercial Christmas rush.  Then, Black Friday started at midnight Thanksgiving.  Now, Black Friday starts around 10 Thursday/Thanksgiving night, and that's just plain wrong.

I recognize the need to save money and hit the Black Friday sales.  I also recognize not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving. 

It happens a little more every year.  Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle, and I fear we're on a slippery slope.  The sales that start Thanksgiving night will move a bit earlier every year.  Thanksgiving is well on its way to becoming just another day. 

Whatever you do today, and no matter how you feel about what I've just written, please take a little time out to give thanks for what you have.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Bird

Retro usually works for me.  There is an exception to every rule. Case in point:  The Baltimore Orioles.

Last week, the Orioles announced the return of the cartoon bird to caps and uniforms.  It's part of the Camden Yards stadium 20th anniversary.

The cartoon bird never quite worked for me.  I preferred the ornithologically correct feathered critter, even though it was the symbol during several horrible losing seasons.
Looking on the bright side, it's still better than what the Miami Marlins will wear next year.

It's going to be a long winter.  Spring training games begin March 2.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Again

Growing up, we were always a Cronkite household.  I later worked for a CBS affiliate for about seven years, so I've always been a CBS follower.  Even to this day, when I'm up late, I'll watch the CBS Evening News.  It seems to be the newsiest of the three evening broadcasts.  Sorry, Diane.

The 7 AM broadcast used to be called the "CBS Morning News."  I liked it.  It was "the news."  Then, in an effort to catch the other guys, CBS dropped "news" from the title because it reasoned that people were frightened and turned off by "news" in the morning.  In came cooking, fashion tips, and celebrity babble.  Anchors rotated in and out on a regular basis.  You never knew who you'd see in the morning.  There was some real talent in there-- Harry Smith, Forrest Sawyer, Paula Zahn, Bryant Gumbel, Jane Clayson, Bob Schieffer, Diane Sawyer...

Nothing worked.

Last week, CBS announced it was blowing up its morning show yet again.  Beginning in January, Charlie Rose, Gayle King, and Erica Hill will lead a newsy MSNBC "Morning Joe" style discussion show.

I admire CBS for trying something different.  Rose is a skilled interviewer.  I'm not sure if he's morning material.  King had a talk show that died from low ratings.  She's now on her pal Oprah's network.  Like most of America, I haven't seen it.  Hill works the morning show now, and I think she's okay.

From what I've read, CBS has realistic expectations for the new morning broadcast.  The network hopes to draw an affluent, intelligent audience.  It reminds me of the 80's NBC series "St. Elsewhere."  The medical drama never got huge numbers, but it attracted upper socio economic groups, and advertisers loved it, so NBC kept "St. Elsewhere" on the schedule for six years and 137 episodes.

How times have changed.  CBS went the anti news route in 1987 with something called "The Morning Program" hosted by actress Mariette Hartley, possibly one of the worst shows in the history of television.

I'll give the new CBS morning show a try next year, but I fear I'll go back to my normal morning routine-- channel surfing from broadcast to cable until I find some real news.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Too Much, Too Soon

I hate to see Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving.

First, Thanksgiving has now become lost in the shuffle-- just another day to eat and the beginning of the shopping frenzy.

Second, a long Christmas season diminishes the experience.  More is not necessarily better.

Get ready.  Here comes a "geezer" moment.

When I was a kid, most people didn't turn on their lights until mid December.  Part of the reason for that was to save money.  Back in the day, outdoor Christmas light strings consisted of bulbs that were bigger than your thumb.  They threw a lot of heat and sucked a lot of power.  I'm surprised there weren't more fires. 

Anyway, a favorite pre holiday activity for my little friends and I was to wander about town, looking at house decorations and lights, and discussing amongst ourselves how things looked.  Most homes, including mine, went the multi colored route.  Some did just red and green lights.  A few used just blue and green.  My friends didn't care for that last one.  I did.  It was different.  Remember, this was the time before those tiny, twinkly clear lights, and long, long before icicle lights.  Those inflatable monstrosities were decades in the future.

We have more decorations these days, and they're visible earlier in the year.  Unfortunately, the Christmas season has lost a lot of its charm.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: One More from the Park

One more shot from Lackawanna State Park...  You have to admit, the park system is one thing the state got right.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: A Walk in the Park

November can be a grey and colorless month.  Let's remedy that with another shot from a visit to Lackawanna State Park a few weeks ago.  I love the reflection of the trees in the perfectly still water behind the dam.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Scrapple

What was Jerry Sandusky thinking when he gave that interview to Bob Costas Monday night?

As bad as the Penn State riot was, the candlelight vigil and demonstration of humanity at the Nebraska game was off the charts.  The pendulum swings both ways.

I can't think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving and we're in to December. 

It seems like there's a different Republican front runner every week, and that makes the race interesting.

The low turnout in the election was not surprising, but still sad.

I know a few of the winning Luzerne County judicial candidates, and I have no doubt they will make fine judges.

I love listening to Joe Paterno's defenders, especially those who say "He was only the football coach."  That's like saying a tsunami is only a wave.

Misbehaving "occupy" protesters do nothing for their cause.

Scranton is getting another Irish pub.  Just what we needed-- an Irish pub on every corner from Green Ridge to Minooka, from Keyser Avenue to East Mountain.

Regis Philbin leaves "Live!" today.  The man wasn't my cup of tea but I do respect his longevity and the fact he is so well liked.  I do like the way he did "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?!" and "Million Dollar Password."  Regis didn't make himself bigger than the games.

When you hear people blaming the media for their problems, it usually means they can't think of anyone else to blame.

I'm really enjoying watching Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles struggle this year.  It's time to realize Andy Reid is an okay coach, but not a great coach.

"2 Broke Girls" on CBS isn't a great sitcom, but it has its moments and some witty, albeit crude, dialog.