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Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Over

Today is the last day of February, and that means it's the end of meteorological winter-- the three coldest months of the year.

I look at it like this...  It's been colder than normal.  It's been snowier than normal.  At least here in the valley cities, there haven't been any crippling snow storms-- the kind of storm that brings life as we know it to a grinding halt, the kind of storm that sends us running to the Acme for milk, bread, eggs, frozen pizza, Pop Tarts, Spaghetti O's, and toilet paper.  Yes, my list is longer than that of most people.

I will admit that I've been looking forward to retiring my long underwear for the season.  I have several pair.  They all got a workout this year.

It's been said that time passes more quickly as you "mature," and I've found that to be true.  There is an "up" side.  Winter has sped by.  It seems like December 1 was yesterday.

We're not out of the woods yet.  We've had some big snow storms in March.  At least the sun is strong and the snow melts after a few days.  Then, there is the danger of ice jams and flooding from the melt.

The worst appears to be over.

Enjoy spring!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

Mellow Park in Blakely is a beehive of activity on a summer day.  In the dead of winter?  It's just the opposite.  There's about six inches of snow and ice on the basketball court.  It will be a long time before there's a game here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

I really can do without the snow, but if it's here, you might as well enjoy it.  This is the Lackawanna River at Mellow Park in Blakely.  The shot looks upstream, to the north.

Friday, February 25, 2011

JCP

Walmart went to a new logo a couple years ago.  Gap adopted a new logo, and quickly went back to the old one when shoppers complained.

Now, it's JCPenney's turn.  Or, it's now just jcpenney.

I'm sure the company researched this one 'til the cows came home.  No one asked me.  I'm underwhelmed.

The company's president says the new look is "clean, modern, and inviting."  The people who make a living writing about such things say half the logo in red and the other half in white shows jcpenney wants to portray the image that it's thinking outside the box.


In this case, I didn't think the box was such a bad thing.

Yes, I do have a jcpenney credit card.  Years of trial and error on my part shows the company makes a darn fine dress shirt, and they're reasonably priced.

The logo doesn't make much of a difference to me.  I'll still drop by from time to time.  Marketing geniuses say the logo is a big part of the image.  If jcpenney is to stay afloat in a difficult retail world, it has to show it's a hip and modern company.


I grew up with the black and blue Penneys logo, and I'm old enough to remember when the Viewmont Mall store had a candy department, records, tools, hardware, bikes, sporting goods, and even a restaurant.  The auto center was in a separate building in the mall's parking lot.

Now, jcpenney is clothes, shoes, cosmetics, and some things for the house.

I'm not saying one era is better than another.  Just different.

I guess a new logo should reflect that, or is it much ado about nothing?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Scrapple

Joe Bastardi has left AccuWeather after 32 years.  He was among the first of the "big personality" weather forecasters.  Bastardi did not believe in global warming.  Future plans unknown.

Walmart same store sales are down a wee bit, and retail industry analysts say the company had a lackluster Christmas.

Like it or not, we are a society fueled by gasoline.  The new price hikes will kick off an inflationary spiral.  Some fear we'll slide back into a recession.  I think it'll be tough to slide back into a recession when we never climbed out of it in the first place. 

I just don't get it.  We keep hearing how the economy is bad.  I was in a Best Buy on a recent mid week afternoon.  The store was packed.  Where are people getting the money?

I went for a walk yesterday morning.  The temperature was 13.  The sun was shining.  The wind was light.  It was actually comfortable.  Still, there's an awful lot of snow out there.

A TV news photographer told me the other day that he's going through "Ciavarella trial withdrawl."

Maybe it's because I haven't tried the right brand, but I don't get the thrill of Greek style yogurt.

Spring training baseball games start today!

Perhaps you've nticed that State Police have been getting tough on speeders lately.  How many trucks have you seen pulled over?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Va Va Voom

I wonder how the Wawa people feel about this?

A small chain of gas station/mini marts popped up a few months ago.  They took the name Va Va.  The picture on the left was taken on Pittston Avenue in Scranton.  I know there's one on Business Route 6 in Dickson City and North Main Avenue and Oak St. in Scranton.  Another is on Moosic Street in Scranton.  Railroad Avenue in Scranton is another location, and I might be missing one or two.

I've never been to one.   Clearly, these aren't Wawa's.  They're stripped down outlets with generic gas.  Va Va does seem to sell its gasoline a few cents cheaper than everyone else, and no one can complain about that.  People work here, and jobs are always a good thing.

The name is clever.  I told someone about it recently, and she thought I was joking.

I can't help but think that when Wawa's lawyers get a whiff of this, a copyright infringement lawsuit or a cease and desist order is coming.

On the other hand, there are no Wawa's in Scranton (tragic).  If you've ever been to a Wawa, it's impossible to confuse it for a Va Va.  Maybe it doesn't bother the big guys.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Literacy City

A friend was in Borders in Dickson City the other morning-- after the chain declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but before a list of stores to be closed was released.  Borders is closing 200 of its 650 stores because the red ink is flowing.

My friend asked a store employee if the Dickson City store was on the list.  She was told no, and the Dickson City store is among the best in the entire chain-- in top top five per cent of sales.

I'm not doubting that, but it should be examined for a moment.  After all, at least to me, it is surprising.

Competition?  There are no other book stores inside or outside the Viewmont Mall, although Target, Wegmans, and Walmart are close by, and all have healthy book departments.

We have a high "mature American" population here.  They buy books at brick and mortar stores.

There are several colleges and universities within a short distance of Dickson City.  Students read.

Borders has a cafe.  I've never been to that corner of the store, but I've been told it's good.

You also have to factor in the cost of the lease, the labor, and the utilities.  The numbers have to work for the chain.

I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised that all local Borders stores were spared the Chapter 11 axe.  We keep hearing how this is a depressed area, both educationally and economically.  This could show the doom sayers are wrong.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why?

Okay.  It's clearly been established Mark Ciavarella didn't send kids to a privately run juvenile detention facility in exchange for cash.  The government didn't pursue that angle during the trial of the past two weeks.  Ciavarella denied it from day one.

That leaves the question "Why?"  Why did Ciavarella send hundreds of kids to juvenile detention facilities?  Many of those sentences were unwarranted.  Why didn't he let them speak in his courtroom?  Why didn't he inform them that they had the right to an attorney?

If he didn't do it for the money, why did he do it?

Admittedly, the vast majority of youthful offenders who appeared before Ciavarella did something to get them there.  They deserved to be punished in some form.  They also deserved what is guaranteed to them by law.

Sending kids away for money would have been wrong, but at least there was a motive. 

Why did Ciavarella do it?

One of my favorite lines of all time was uttered by Governor Robert P. Casey.  He once said "What did you do when you had the power?"  Casey said it to encourage people who had the juice to use it for good.  I wonder how Mark Ciavarella would answer that question.

If Ciavarella is Googling himself, killing time and thinking about his crimes, while appealing and waiting to be sentenced, I hope he comes across this blog.

I'll repeat the offer to the former judge that I made here months ago.  Any time he wants to talk, I'll be there.  Name the time.  Name the location.  I'm flexible.

The kids deserve an explanation.  Their parents deserve an explanation.  The people who trusted Mark Ciavarella, the people who voted for him, also deserve an explanation.

We're waiting.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

There is something about an evergreen, new snow, sunshine, and blue skies.  It can make you feel a lot better, even in the dead of winter.

This is another selection from the February 8, Susquehanna County collection.  Like yesterday's photo, it was shot at the Interstate 81 south rest area in Lenox Twp., not far from the Lackawanna County line.

This week's taste of springtime was nice, but we all know it was just a tease.  We really needed to get rid of some of the snow and ice.  I just checked the forecast, and more wintry weather is on the way.  What did you expect?  We're still in the middle of February.

A sliver of warm weather at this time of year can be detrimental.  The cold, when it returns, feels worse than it did before, and there are times it feels like winter will last forever.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

Newswatch 16 Meteorologist Joe Snedeker called the February 8 snow "greasy."  I didn't like the word, but I did see what Joe was getting at.  The snow stuck to everything.  While it did present the danger of sagging and breaking tree limbs and power lines, it did have its beauty.

I took this picture late in the morning, back on the 8th.  It's some of the newly snow covered trees at the rest area along Interstate 81 south at Lenox in Susquehanna County.

If you don't have to drive in it, or shovel it, snow is a wonderful thing.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Another Year

If you heard a huge sigh of relief coming from north Scranton Wednesday afternoon, that was me.

It was time for a get together with my accountant.  The reason?  Income tax return preparation.

I can't say I was thrilled with the outcome, and that has nothing to do with the accountant.  He's extremely competent, and a good person on top of that.

There is one simple rule that I put forth for him, and it's one I borrowed from former newspaper columnist and current radio and TV personality Tony Kornheiser:  "Keep me out of jail."

It looks like there will be another year without a stay at the Greybar Hotel, but it will cost me dearly.

And, while we're on the subject of yearly occurrences, people who have been around the blog for the last 6+ years will smell my annual "ode to the skunk" post coming.

While I love seeing robins, I don't believe in that "harbinger of spring" nonsense.

I know spring is coming when I smell a skunk.  The little critters get active around this time of year.  They're looking for food and love, and not necessarily in that order.

My first aroma of spring came early Sunday morning, outside a Turkey Hill in Moosic.  The second, a day later, outside the Hanover Township Municipal Building.  The rest of the week was rather quiet.

The skunks are up from their winter slumber, and spring is on the way.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

State of Denial

My post Super Bowl "state of denial" successfully continues.  I've gone more than a week WITHOUT:  sports talk radio, SportsCenter, Pardon the Interruption, Tony Kornheiser's radio show, the NFL Network and every other web site, radio show or TV show that might discuss how the Steelers handed Super Bowl XLV to the Green Bay Packers.

Childish?  Guilty as charged, your honor.

So, what have I used to replace all the previously mentioned media?  It's mostly been Howard Stern and the XM 70's channel.  There's an all night radio show called "Red Eye" that's actually very good.  TV?  Scrubs and Entourage re-runs, and you can't go wrong with a classic episode of Match Game on GSN.

I'll eventually return to my old media viewing and listening habits.  What's surprised me so far is how easy it's been to make changes, and how little I really miss them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Borders and Mark Ciavarella

Today's topic is bankruptcy-- fiancial and moral.  Money is the common thread.

Published reports say Borders is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it might have already happened by the time you read this.  BORDERS FILED WEDNESDAY MORNING. The plan calls for closing 200 of the chain's 650 stores.  NO LOCAL STORES AFFECTED.  Year to year sales are down about fifteen per cent.  The nation's number two book retailer is struggling. 

The Wall Street Journal blames some of the problems on Borders' slow entry into the e-reader market.  I don't have one.  I don't want one, even though there's a good chance I'll like it.  There's just something about wandering around a good book store, finding something you like, taking it home, and savoring the words on a printed page.

I know the day will come when printed books and newspapers will no longer exist.  Johannes Gutenberg, please have mercy on our sorry souls.

One industry expert said the number of  traditional "bricks and mortar" book stores will drop by fifty per cent in two years, and ninety per cent in ten years.  What a tragedy.

Nothing can match the charm of picking up a good book.  An e-reader can't come close, can't get it done.  

Let's hope Borders uses Chapter 11 to straighten itself out, and stay in business.

Now, on to an unrelated topic-- the trial of former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella.  He faces a long list of charges, including bribery and tax evasion.

From Ciavarella's own testimony Tuesday, we know he's a liar, a thief, and a cheat.

Something continues to bother me.  Ciavarella allowed thousands of kids to come before him without legal representation.  That fact is not in dispute.  It wasn't talked about at the trial.  It's clear evidence that Ciavarella was up to something-- likely funnelling kids to a juvenile detention center developed and owned by his thieving pals, who are also admitted criminals, by the way.  Why wasn't Ciavarella's courtroom behavior and demeanor part of the record?

I'm currently enjoying my weekend.  I'll be producing and anchoring Saturday and Sunday.  It means the trial will be over by the time I get back out on the road next week.  I'm begging all the people covering the trial to ask the right questions after the jury reaches its verdict.

I'd also love to know the defense strategy of having their client confess to some of the charges on the stand.  Will the jury think because Ciavarella honestly admitted what he did wrong, the rest of his testimony will be credible?   Or will it show Mark Ciavarella is a thief and a thug who short circuited the judicial system to make a quick buck?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is That All There Is?

Is it just me, or did the prosecution in the Mark Ciavarella trial wrap up its case rather quickly?

To bring you up to speed, Ciavarella is the man, while a Luzerne County judge, who allegedly took millions in kickbacks in exchange for sending youthful offenders to a privately run juvenile detention facility.  Wow!  I think I can now type that sentence in my sleep.

The prosecution rested yesterday morning, after five days of calling about twenty witnesses to the stand.

Granted, a lot of testimony was damning.  There is evidence of a cover up, extortion, tax fraud, and giant wads of cash floating around the Luzerne County Courthouse.

Still, I was expecting something more.  I gather a lot of people feel the same way.  I wanted to see and/or hear the smoking gun.  I wanted someone to get up there and tell the jury how Ciavarella allowed hundreds of kids to come before him without legal representation.  It didn't happen.

Ciavarella's alleged partner in crime, Michael Conahan, will not testify.  Sources told the newspapers that the prosecution viewed Conahan as a liability.  If you can't get useful testimony from an admitted co-conspirator, how strong is your case?

There's something we're not seeing.  Ciavarella and his attorneys are smart people.  There has to be an exploitable hole somewhere in the prosecution's case.  There has to be a sliver of daylight somewhere, something that gave Ciavarella reason to take this to trial, reason to risk a big prison sentence.

All the defense has to do is show "reasonable doubt" to the jury.  It seems like the prosecution has left them an opening.  It will be fascinating to see if the defense can find it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shake Down Cruise

Well, my first weekend on the new set is in the books.  I was generally happy, but let's also say it's a work in progress.

I'm gradually learning what graphics and video looks better than others.  Some things work better in the big video wall rather than the smaller ones on the left and right side.

I'm sure the directors and tech people have their preferences as well.



There are tons of choices, and that's a good thing.  While this may be just an expensive pile of furniture and appliances to most people, it's much more to us.  The key here is flexibility.

We'll be learning much more about what we have to work with in the days to come.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

It's the middle of February, and spring really is right around the corner.  The snow will eventually melt away from these tables at Nay Aug Park, and they will soon be the site of afternoon gatherings.

They looked so sad and lonely during a recent visit.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

It's back to Nay Aug Park in Scranton this weekend.  There's not much color in the park on a snowy winter afternoon, but on a recent photographic expedition, the tree house and the ramp leading up to it jumped out at me.  The redwood really popped in the afternoon sunshine, and no, I didn't tweak the colors with a photo editing program.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New

 Now that it's been on the air, I can finally talk about it.  We have a new set. 

The old set was perfectly good and adequate, but it was time for an updating, and the new set is more HD friendly.  The switch to HD is in the near future.

Let me explain what's in the first picture.  The artsy looking walls are much more colorful than the old.    There's an easel with a "Newswatch 16" logo on the left of the first photo.  There's a monitor there now.  It hadn't been installed when I took the photo late last month.

The middle of the set features nine HD monitors.  There was a shot of the control room up when I took the photo.  We can put anything in there, and most of the time, it will be used to illustrate big stories.
The new and improved anchor desk is wider than the old because new TV sets have a wider screen.  There's also a monitor in the front of the desk.  It will show different things from time to time.

The news set was a work in progress when I took the photos.  The construction related items are now gone.  The wires and cables are hidden from view.  It looks nice.

There have been rehearsals on the new set for the past couple weeks.  The anchors and tech people needed to become accustomed to the new surroundings.  I had my turn last Saturday, after our regular broadcast on WNEP2 ended.  It was a little strange, at first.  After a few minutes and getting used to the new camera angles, it was actually a lot of fun.

On one hand, it's just furniture.  On the other, we have more tools now that will help us tell stories. 

Change is good.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

No Complaints

Please take careful note of this, and it is something that makes me very proud.  So far, I have not publicly complained about winter.  Not a word.  Not even a whimper.

It's Pennsylvania.  We get cold and snowy weather.  It's the norm.  I'm thankful that we have NOT had a crippling, devasting storm.  Nuisance storms every week?  Yes.  The big one?  No.


A long line of small storms does present a challenge for those of us in the TV news business.  There comes a time when you simply run out of things to say.  There really isn't much you need to know-- a quick look at the roads and the radar, does my kid have school, and that's about it.

Because the storms haven't been major gives you a little wiggle room.  You can forward the information and have a little fun at the same time.


It's snow.  You know what to do, and there's much more snow on the way before we say farewell to the winter of 2010-11.

Today's photos were taken Tuesday morning in Great Bend, Susquehanna County.  Thank you to the people who stopped by to say they enjoy the morning news, weekdays and weekends.  You might get tired of snow, but you never get tired of hearing compliments.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tonic for Losers

I never expected the Pittsburgh Steelers to make it all the way to the Super Bowl this year.  Their success, in spite of several on and off the field problems was nothing short of amazing.

Still, it hurts when you lose the big one.

So, what have I been doing the past few days?  How have I been coping?

I've been avoiding football altogether.  No sports talk radio.  No "Pardon the Interruption," the only watchable show on ESPN.  The MLB Network has replaced the NFL Network.  I cannot view or listen to anything where Sunday evening's game is discussed.

I will say this much.  Former Dallas head coach Jimmy Johnson had it right when he said the team that wins is the one that makes the fewest bad plays, not the team that makes the most good plays.  Pittsburgh made a lot of bad plays Sunday night. I didn't see the game, but that's what I read-- the small bit I can stomach.

It will take a while for the sting to go away.

At least the Puppy Bowl was outstanding.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Doors of Justice

Above is one set of doors at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Scranton.  They are the doors you and I would use to enter the building.

Former Luzerne County Judge and accused thief Mark Ciavarella got to use a secured back door when he entered the courthouse Monday morning.  It is a door a privileged few get to use, and I asked the head U.S. Marshal for Scranton why.

See if you can follow this.  The U.S. Marshal explained he and his office are officially neutral.  Even though he works for the government, he says he favors neither prosecution nor defense.

The Marshal added that his office frequently receives back door requests from defendants who are not in custody, and most are refused.

What made Ciavarella different?  The U.S. Marshal's office is in charge of security for the building.  They remembered the angry mob that greeted Ciavarella and co-defendant Michael Conahan during an appearance several months ago.  I inferred that the U.S. Marshal's office wouldn't be happy if there was an incident on government property-- an assault or worse, and what if an innocent bystander was hurt in the process?

By the way, the guy in charge seemed surprised someone would actually come knocking on his door to ask questions.  Hey, it's what I do.  After the initial surprise wore off, we had a nice talk about how things transpired yesterday morning.  Note to people who make controversial decisions:  Don't run.  Don't hide.  I don't bite unless you make me.  All you have to do is simply explain what you did and why.  That's all.  It's not hard.  If you truly believe in what you did, you should have no problem outlining the reasons.  I guarantee that you'll get a fair shake.

It would be very easy to tell Ciavarella & Co. to use the front door, just like everyone else, and I would be inclined to tell him that if I was in in charge.

However, you do have to look at this from all sides, and you have to put yourself in the shoes of the people who make the decisions.

A lack of sympathy for the man who allegedly unjustly sent kids away while lining his pockets is understandable.  On the other hand, it's easy to have a little sympathy for the individuals who have the responsibility of keeping everyone safe.  That includes lawyers, judges, jurors, spectators, people who work in that building, members of the media, and the defendant.

You can't let emotion lead you to a bad decision.

Monday, February 7, 2011

100

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan.

There were Reagan tributes all over television this past weekend.  ABC News did a short piece on how today's Republican politicians are trying to channel the charisma of the 40th president.  I rebroadcast it on Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning.

Today's blog is politically neutral.  I'm not saying whether I agree or disagree with Reagan's policies, but while watching the video over the weekend, I was reminded of why Reagan was called the Great Communicator.  He was such a commanding presence in front of a camera and behind a microphone.  The man could deliver a line.  Yes, he was a Hollywood actor and some might argue that his presidency was just another role.  However, you can't dispute the fact that Ronald Reagan had the gift.  In a piece in the NY Daily News, former Tennessee senator (and actor) Fred Thompson wrote that Reagan said he succeeded not because he was a great communicator.  Rather, it was because he communicated great things. 

FDR led a nation through war.  JFK helped inspire.  LBJ tried to talk us through years of turmoil.  Nixon will be remembered for his resignation speech, and the "I'm not a crook" news conference.  I can still see Jimmy Carter, in the White House, in his sweater telling us to save energy.  Bush 43 had to get us through 9/11.  Reagan?  There a few speeches that come to mind.  "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"  is at the top of the list.  There was his address to the nation after the Challenger explosion, and his apology for the Iran/Contra scandal.  Then, there was the "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" line in the Carter debate.  And, how he wouldn't hold "youth and inexperience" against Walter Mondale four years later.

In my lifetime, Ronald Reagan has to be responsible for more "moments" than any other president.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

There can be great joy on a winter afternoon.  This is the band shell at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  The snow is fresh from the day before, reflecting the afternoon sun.  Except for a few dog walkers, the park was deserted.  It was a great afternoon for a walk.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

The squirrel at Nay Aug Park saw his shadow Thursday afternoon, so that meant it was time for me to emerge from my burrow and play with the camera for a while. 

There was plenty to see at the park, even though most of the attractions were covered with snow and ice.

To those who are sick of winter, consider this.  My car was parked in the bright sun.  When I returned from a circuit of the park, I didn't have to kick on the heater.  The sun is getting stronger, and it did a nice job of heating the car.

The days are getting longer.  Daylight Saving Time returns March 13 and that's only five weeks away.  Take a deep breath.  The end of winter is near.

Friday, February 4, 2011

XLV

I haven't seen a Super Bowl since 1999.

I like football, but the game is well past my bed time.  I love the Steelers, and I'm a horrible fan.  I'm usually too nervous to watch the black and gold in a big game.

I don't know how I wound up with the day after the game off in '99.  I do remember going to a party at a friend's house in Olyphant.  I got bored with the Falcons and the Broncos, so I spent most of the evening in the kitchen, with the girls, watching the movie "Clueless" on a small television.  I love that movie.  I also remember eating my body weight in chicken nuggets.

I was reminded of the good old days, while driving home from work the other morning.  A radio show was playing Super Bowl highlight clips.  There were a few with the broadcasting team of Pat Summerall and John Madden.  While Buck and Aikman, who will call this year's game, are very good, there was no better team than Pat and John in their prime.

I'm hoping for a Steelers win, but I'm not naive.  I know they're going in to Sunday evening's game as under dogs.  The Packers appear to be peaking at the right time.  The Steelers have a couple key injuries.

It would be nice to wake up Monday morning to find the Steelers have ring number seven.  If I was a gambling man, I'd likely take the Packers and give up the 2.5 points.

The week has been filled with super hype.  One of the more interesting stories involved former Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw and current Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.  Bradshaw, on the FOX pre game show at the beginning of the season, blasted Roethlisberger for his off-the-field behavior.  Roethlisberger's issues have been discussed elsewhere, and there's no need to go in to them here.  I will say that Roethlisberger's actions are indefensible.  What stuck in my craw is Bradshaw on a high moral horse.  Granted, he never took advantage of drunk college girls in a bar.   I'm reminded of a Bradshaw appearance in Wilkes-Barre, in the early 90's.   He was speaking at a banquet.  Bradshaw worked for CBS at the time, and I was working for the local CBS affiliate.  He couldn't have been more difficult.  It was clear he didn't want to be there.  A news conference was a tortured experience, complete with angry, terse answers.  While we did get Bradshaw to sign a football for a sick child, he refused to do a quick promo for the station, which would have taken all of two minutes.  If he was a cur here, I'm sure he pulled the act in other places.

Bradshaw and Roethlisberger got together for an interview that will air before the game Sunday.  It looks like they've come to an understanding.

Enjoy the game, and Go Steelers!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Retail Architecture


In the past, I've written about the change in architecture at McDonald's.  The double sloped roof of the 70's is gone, replaced with a hip and trendy look.  I was sorry to see the old design go, and from what I read on the internet, a lot of people felt the same way.

I shop at Walmart.  I admit that freely.  It's not known as the friendliest company in the world, but it has what I want.  It's cheap.  It's always open.  As James Taylor would say, "that's why I'm here."

Walmart has also gone a transformation in the last couple years.  I tried hard, but I couldn't find anyone with the warm fuzzies over the look on the left-- bright colors, big sign, big squares.  The new look is on the right, even though the sketch still has the old logo.  Earth tones, curves, friendlier, more inviting, less menacing.

The outside might have changed, and even the inside has been modified somewhat.  Aisles are wider.   Health & beauty is closer to groceries.  Studies show people like the proximity.  Go figure.

I'm trying to discover why people are more sentimental about McDonald's than Walmart.  Could it be because food is fun, and shopping at Walmart can be torture?   McDonald's has Happy Meals, and a clown, and games, and fried stuff, and Egg McMuffins.  Walmart has thirty cash registers, but only two people to run them, weekend crowds, and a lot of other issues.  I do respect that Walmart is America's largest retailer, so it must be doing something right.

I guess the bottom line is that it's tough to get emotionally attached to a big concrete box filled with cheap stuff, no matter what the exterior looks like.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Week One

It's been a little more than a week since I signed on to Twitter.

Before I get into today's blog, I have to tell you to relax.  I won't bore you with regular Twitter updates here.

I am flattered that a lot of people have decided to "follow" me, and I thank you for that.  The elusive Trish Hartman signed on yesterday.  I was beginning to worry about her.   Leckey "followed" early, and that's a major coup.

Here's what I've learned in the last week.  Twitter has not turned out to be the newsy and informational bonanza I'd hoped for.  An occasional nugget drops in, and it is nice to hear from some friends.

PennDOT, not surprisingly, is disappointing.  It ships out Tweets like "Make sure you remove snow from your car." and "If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on.  It's the law."  Gee.  Thanks.  It makes no mention of the tractor trailers that continue to spew snow over freshly cleaned highways.  PennDOT's 511PA Tweets are much more informative.

One of the local newspapers, last week, sent out a Tweet that the Shenandoah Police corruption trial had gone to the jury.   It had been on TV three hours earlier.

A newspaper also Tweeted "breaking news" that Will Ferrel is going to guest star on "The Office."  Thank you for that.  I didn't think it was possible to make "The Office" any un-funnier than it already is.

PPL appears to be the best of the bunch.  The advisories are timely and the information is actually useful.

To be fair, I haven't written anything that was worth Tweeting home about.

While hitting the "deactivate my account" line is extremely tempting, I'm reminded of something Bluto told the freshmen in one of the opening scenes of "Animal House."  "Grab a brew.  Don't cost nothin.'"  Twitter is free, and it's worth every penny.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

About the Cover

It's a new month, and a new blog header.  February's selection is the Waverly Community House in Lackawanna County.  It's a beautiful building, with an extensive history.  It comes along with a rather well done web site, which you can view here.
I took these photos back in early December, before there was snow on the ground.

As I always say, if you're in the neighborhood stop by and take a look for yourself.  You won't be disapponted.