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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

By the time you see this, the Susquehanna River through the Wyoming Valley will have crested.  I took these photos, around crest time, yesterday morning.
The old 8th Street Bridge, between Jenkins Twp. and Wyoming is the steel structure on the far right.  Its concrete replacement is adjacent.  I'm on the Jenkins Twp. side, looking east.  Below is the downstream view.
No matter how many times I've seen the Susquehanna above flood stage, it never ceases to amaze and frighten me.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Falls

Over the past couple days, on Newswatch 16, you've seen the destructive powers of water.  Today, the other side-- the beauty.  Above is what I found at Roaring Brook yesterday afternoon.  The view is from the Kanjorski Bridge at Nay Aug Park.
The photos don't do it justice, and the sound of the water was almost deafening.  Dangerous, but beautiful at the same time.  Above, the upstream view.  Below, downstream.

As pretty as it is, let's hope there are dry and tranquil days ahead.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

That Was Quick

Doesn't it seem like a heavy rain brings rivers up a lot faster than it once did?  We get one stormy day and BOOM!   We're running for higher ground.
I was blowing through Duryea yesterday afternoon when I stopped to look at the Lackawanna River at the Stephenson Street Bridge.

The river was running high and fast, but still well within its banks.  I should have shot the Susquehanna just downstream a bit.  It was above flood stage, and getting higher, and a disgusting shade of brown/orange.

I'll spare you the extensive lecture in favor of the short version.  High water can be dangerous.  Please be careful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eye on You

To no one's surprise, Katie Couric announced yesterday that she's stepping down from the CBS Evening News when her contract expires in June.  As I noted in a recent blog, I can't believe anyone would want to leave the Cronkite chair.  Couric was the face and voice of one of the most respected news organizations in history.  She's trading that for a talk show.

I'm sure books will be written about Couric's time.  Ratings slipped.  They tried to re-invent the evening news, with interviews and commentary.  Ratings slipped even more.  CBS went back to a traditional offering.  It wasn't enough to get viewers to switch.  Couric started in last place, and that's where she will leave in June.

It wasn't all her fault.  NBC is the model of stability.  ABC's ill fated Woodruff/Vargas team didn't last long.  Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer were enough to keep that network afloat.  Couric didn't get the lead in she had hoped for because a lot of CBS stations are struggling in the ratings.

At least, her pay checks cleared.

CBS is expected to name 60 Minutes correspondent, and former White House correspondent Scott Pelley as Couric's replacement.  That announcement should be made next week.  I never thought anchoring was Pelley's strong point.  However, from what I've read, he wants the job and will work to restore some of the luster to the CBS Evening News.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Still the One

A lot of people complain about it, but we still use it-- a lot.

I do check the blog stats page from time to time.  Hits and page views are up, thank you very much.

One of the thing that fascinates me is the browers you use to get here.  58 per cent of you use Microsoft's Internet Explorer.  Firefox comes in a distant second, with 22 per cent.  Apple's Safari has 10 per cent of the market.  Google's Chrome closely follows, with 8 per cent.  The Chrome thing surprises me.  I know people who love it, and who swear by it.  Yet, it has a small share of the market.

Even though it went away a long time ago, there are still a few people using Netscape.  It logs in at less than one per cent.

You have to stand in awe of all Microsoft has accomplished.  Even though its products have some flaws, it's the "go to" gold standard of the internet.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wedding Week

Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton get married Friday morning.

It's a big deal to the British, and judging by the amount of television coverage it will receive here in the U.S.A., it's a big deal to us.

As many of you know, I can get peeved off over the slightest things.  Surprisingly, the latest royal wedding is NOT on my list.

Shocked?  Me too!

I look at it like this.  The British people apparently want the royal family around.  It's their call.  If it's okay with them, it's okay with me.  They can always pull an Egypt and throw the royal bunch out of the country.  The royals don't seem to do much, other than burn through a lot of money.

As for those of you who still hold a grudge over the Revolutionary War, get over it.  The war ended in 1783.  Let me do the math for you.  That was 228 years ago.

The pull of tradition is a strong one, so sit back and watch the wedding.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter

On of of my favorite holidays, one of my favorite churches.  This is Sacred Heart in South Scranton.  The photos do not do it justice.  The twin steeples tower above the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, the usual problems of wires all over the place made it impossible to get a clean picture of the place.  WNEP veteran photographer Steve Smallwood once told me that if you shoot an object from a distance, the wires become less noticeable.  Steve is right.  The wires are still an annoyance, but less so when you walk down the block.
So why do I like Easter?  It's more than chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps.  There's a sense of renewal and springtime.  It's hard to describe, but you know the feeling.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday

Most of the buildings that wind up here on the blog are of the older variety.  After all, there aren't many new buildings out there that really grab your attention.

Today, Holy Saturday, is a bit of an exception.  I was driving through the Clarks Summit area recently when the United Methodist Church on the Morgan Highway caught my eye.  The sun was hitting it just right.
The church's web site says it dates back to 1894, but it says nothing about the current building.  The church historian saw this blog Saturday morning and dropped me a line to say the current building was constructed in 1967.  Ed, thanks for the information, and for reading the blog.

I hope you're enjoying your holiday weekend.  Tomorrow, it's back to the classics.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Dodgers

Major League Baseball took over operation of the Los Angeles Dodgers this week.  MLB Commissioner Bud Selig felt Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt is financially unstable.

McCourt is going through a rather protracted, nasty and costly divorce.  McCourt and his soon to be ex-wife reportedly diverted $ 100 million of Dodgers money to fund their extravagant lifestyle.  McCourt had to borrow $30 million to meet the first payroll of the season.

One of McCourt's underlings said Selig's move was unnecessary.  The Dodgers just sold broadcast rights to FOX for a ton of money.  The team was in good shape.

Bud Selig is conservative.  I don't think he would make such a drastic move unless it was absolutely necessary.

Isn't it sad that we got to this point?   The Dodgers were on the upper tier of American sports franchises.  It's a short list-- the New York Yankees, the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers.  Admittedly, I'm biased, but I'd also put the Pittsburgh Steelers on the list.

Frank McCourt made his money by owning and operating parking lots in Boston.  A parking lot is different than a baseball team.  You have to be smart to make money, but money doesn't necessarily make you smart.

As a baseball fan, I sincerely hope the Dodgers eventually wind up in the hands of someone who will treat the franchise as one of baseball's crown jewels.

Yes, I did say "crown jewel," even though this was the team ripped from its Brooklyn home more than fifty years ago.   There was more than enough blame to go around back then.  Walter O'Malley wanted out, and New York City could have kept the team if it gave O'Malley the land he wanted for a new stadium.

I should add that Commissioner Selig announced yesterday a plan to expand the playoffs from eight to ten teams.  Mistake.  Big mistake.  Baseball in unique in that only the best teams make the playoffs, unlike those free for alls that make the NHL and NBA regular season irrelevant.  The NFL playoffs have even become a bit much.  I hope baseball doesn't travel down that same path.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Saga Continues

For some reason that cannot be explained, I've become fascinated by a small chain of gas station/mini marts in the Scranton area.  To bring you up to speed, they were Shell stations that closed for a while.  They were re-born under the name "VaVa."  In past blogs, I wondered how the Wawa people felt about someone giving their business, in the same industry, a name close to yours.  I don't know if Wawa actually did get involved in the process, but the VaVa name disappeared from some of the gas stations recently.  After flying nameless for a few weeks, I noticed the new name and signs the other day.


Yep!  That's it.  Vamco.The new name opens up a whole new can of worms, or possibly two.  I wonder what happens when the Aamco Transmission people get wind of this, and the Amoco oil people.  I have a feeling it will be more business for the lawyers and the sign companies.  Vamco.  Don't get used to it.

So, if Vamco goes the way of VaVa, what happens next?  I was unable to locate the home office.  I'll sumbit my suggestions here:  CP, Funoco, Theetz, Balero (my personal favorite), and Pexxon.

The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

William Donald Schaefer

William Donald Schaefer died Monday.  He served five terms as mayor of Baltimore, and two as governor of Maryland.

Schaefer was a hands on public official.  He got things done, including the revitalization of the Inner Harbor and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The man was far from perfect.  He was short termpered and occasionally abusive.  Schaefer pushed people in his administration hard, urging them to get out from behind their desks to see what was going on in their city and state.

My first visit to Baltimore was in 1976.  I went on a bus trip to see the Orioles play the Milwaukee Brewers at the old Memorial Stadium.  It was Hank Aaron's last season.  He pinch hit, and walked.  I remember Baltimore as being exceptionally shabby, as many big cities were in those days.  Schaefer was in his second term at the time.  There were signs all over the place, saying "parking in Baltimore is no zoo."  It was an attempt to bring in the tourists.  Back in the 70's, it was a tough sell.  There wasn't much to see.  Schaefer changed that.

The Inner Harbor, with shopping, the Science Center, and the National Aquarium eventually made Baltimore a cool place to visit.  It was a nice mix of historical stuff, which I love, and newer attractions.  A light rail system made getting around easy.  There used to be some huge, and relatively inexpensive parking lots downtown.  Many of those lots were eaten up by redevelopment.  I was good for a couple Baltimore trips a year.

My visits to Baltimore ended quite a while ago.  That's where I happened to be on 9/11/01.  I went back the next year.  There were too many bad memories, and I felt the area was sliding a bit.  Many of the Inner Harbor shops were closed.  The area had become run down.  I didn't feel comfortable.  The quiet suburban hotel I liked so much became surrounded by strip malls and mini marts.  It was time to move on.

Having said all that, you cannot ignore all the good things Schaefer did for his city and state.

William Donald Schaefer was 89.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Bad Taste


This one is a bit late, and I'm sorry.

Philadelphia based Tastykake last was sold last week to Flowers Foods from Georgia.  Tastykake has been in trouble for a while.  Profits were down.  A new bakery at the Philadelphia Naval Yards wasn't as beneficial as had been hoped.  The purchase price:  $165 million, including existing debt.

Flowers said nothing will change.  The Tastykake we know and love, the one we grew up with, will remain.  Pardon me when I say I've heard this speech before.  Many times.  Too many times.

Every new owner likes to put its stamp on things.

Look, the company wasn't making money.  Things had to change. I hope the bad parts of Tastykake disappear, not the good ones.  It's a popular brand with a good reputation.  I don't grab them as often as I once did, but the lemon pies are fantastic.  Lemony.  Not overly sweet.  Nice crust.  They're not dipped in a glaze like some others.

Tastykake employs 740.  Plus there are 413 independent sales distributors.  Flowers says it has a big network of its own, and that means Tastykake will be available in more places.  More sales is supposed to equal job stability for the employees and distributors.  A lot of workers and fans are depending on it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Changing of the Guard

ABC announced Thursday that it's cancelling two daytime sops-- One Life to Live and All my Children.  Replacements?  A food show, and a self help show.

The business is changing again.  Soaps are expensive and ratings are sliding.  Talk is cheap.  It really is.

Please pardon my "geezer" moment.  When I was a kid, TV was sitcom reruns, like Andy Griffith and Lucy, in the morning, and soaps in the afternoon.  There was a small scattering of game shows, but nothing major.   The stink of the 50's quiz show scandals was still fresh in the air.

CBS got back in the game show game in 1972, when it launched three on the same day, including The Price is Right.  It triggered a game show explosion, with the soaps still ruling a big section of afternoon real estate.

You can't forget about Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin in syndication.  Mike in the morning, and Merv in the afternoon.  They fell under the talk show umbrella, but they were almost variety shows.  Mike and Merv had comedians and singers-- not paternity tests, weeping overweight people and assorted other personal dramas.

Most of the game shows eventually went away.  Soaps expanded to an hour.  A few more talk shows entered the scene.

There will soon be only four network daytime soaps and two game shows.  The rest is talk, and the networks have given some time back to affiliates.  At one time, the networks programmed all the way to 4:30 PM.

TV is cyclical.  Talk is the thing now because it can draw a crowd and it's inexpensive to produce.  Soaps might return one of these days.  The same goes for game shows.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

Lots of water, and lots of Wyoming County during the last few weeks.  Sorry for the overload.  I hadn't been there in a while.

This is Bowman's Creek in Eaton Township, not far from Tunkhannock-- a nice shot on an early spring afternoon.  The trees seem to be one warm spring rain away from beginning to sprout leaves.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

This is a Civil War soldier standing guard over the back lawn of the Wyoming County Courthouse in Tunkhannock.
Our area played a big role in the Civil War, and many Underground Railroad stops were in the northern tier.  We're lucky to have so mush history in our back yards.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Good Night, Wachovia

Wachovia Bank, at least here in Pennsylvania, ceases to exist at the close of business today.

Wachovia and Wells Fargo have merged.  The deal actually went into effect at the end of 2008.  Wachovia branches have been flipping to Wells Fargo on a state by state basis.  This weekend, it's Pennsylvania's turn.

I've been a Wachovia customer for years.  Am I upset over this?  No.  Not at all.  Wells Fargo sent a huge packet a month ago.  It doesn't appear much will change.  As long as the people at my local branch remain competent, and they get me in and out in a hurry, I'll stick around.  If not, I'll be across the street in a heartbeat.

Seeing the red and gold Wells Fargo logo rather than the Wachovia "wave" will take a little adjustment, but it's not like we've haven't been through this before.

I've noted in the past that I opened an account at Third National.  It's changed hands several times-- Meridian, CoreStates, First Union, Wachovia, and now Wells Fargo.  The people at the sign companies are busier than the tellers.

Do we even care?  There have been so many bank mergers, acquisitions, and name changes over the years that we hardly bat an eye these days.

I was at the news conference, where one of the first of the "big deals" was announced.  It came shortly after Pennsylvania relaxed its banking regulations in the early 80's.  Pittsburgh based PNC bought Northeastern Bank, which used to be Northeastern National Bank.  It got people talking, people who feared bankers from out of the area would control who got the local loans and how much.  A lot of the worry was unwarranted, but that wasn't known at the time.

Good night, Wachovia, and you certainly won't be the last to disappear.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Losing Sleep

I'm losing sleep over "Entourage."  Let me explain.

I have an odd work schedule, and I'm usually up all night, even on my days off.

The HBO series "Entourage" has been in syndication since the fall.  It's on three different channels on my cable system.  Even though I saw them the first time on HBO, I'm hooked on the reruns.  If I'm up, I'm watching it instead of rolling over and getting a few more winks.  It doesn't make a difference what time it airs-- 10 PM, 1 AM, 2 AM, or 3 AM.  You see, I even know all the air times, and it frightens me.  Fear not.  I don't watch them all, but I'm usually awake for at least one.

I can't figure out my fascination.  Most of the characters are unlikeable.  When the history of TV is written, "Entourage" will not go down as one of the great series.  The acting, except for Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold, is average.  The syndicated version is cut to shreds to edit out the naughty material, and much of that stuff is essential to the story.  Yet, I watch-- again and again and again.

I have to get over this.  I need the sleep.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Almost Bought One

Cisco announced yesterday that it's shutting down its Flip camera division.  It's not selling it.  It's closing.  Done.  Out of business.

Cisco said that while Flip dominates the small camcorder market, the market is too small to make a profit.

What killed Flip?  Smart phones.  People have phones that can do it all, and a device that just shoots video is obsolete.

I considered buying a Flip last year.  They really came down in price, and they looked like fun.  I then realized there's nothing I really wanted to record.  A still camera is all I need-- and the still camera can shoot video.  So can my iPod.

It really is too bad.  We had a couple Flips around the office.  They're easy to use.  Getting the video in to a computer and doing basic editing is simple.

Cisco added that while it will no longer manufacture the cameras, it will still offer support.  You can still get a Flip type camera from a few other manufacturers.

About 500 people will lose their jobs when Flip shuts down.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Closing

So, four more Catholic elementary schools are closing.  The Bishop says the numbers just aren't there any more.

There's something I can't understand.  I preface this by saying I don't have access to all the numbers and studies commissioned by the Diocese.  But, can't it be reasoned that the elementary schools feed the high schools, and closing the elementary schools will eventually do serious harm to the high schools?  Will that lead to a system collapse, and the end to Catholic education in the area?

I'm a public school product, but I do know there are a lot of parents out there looking for alternatives to the public system, and that interest will be increasing because of state budget cuts.

Times are tough.  Money is tight.  Unemployment is high.  I'm sure it's getting more difficult for parents to pay for a Catholic education, and it's getting more expensive for the Diocese to keep schools open, schools with declining enrollment and increasing costs.

However, it would stand to reason that there is a serious market for a non public education, whether it be elementary or secondary, and the Diocese is dropping the ball when it comes to its opportunity to fill the void.

There are still several Catholic schools out there.  If it's a choice between a fairly close public school or a Catholic school miles away, I think a lot of parents will go for close.  I wouldn't want my kid spending half his day on a bus.

I just can't help but get the feeling the Diocese will eventually be out of the education business.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Masters

I can't say I'm a fan of The Masters golf tournament.  There are two basic reasons for that.  First, and foremost, they take themselves way too seriously.  Second, The Augusta National people dictate terms of the coverage to CBS, and CBS gladly accepts.

I didn't watch the final round yesterday for the above reasons.  Plus, it was past my bed time.

I did read about it before I got up to come to work.  It was nice to see an unknown, Charl Schwartzel, come out of nowhere to win.  I'm glad Tiger Woods didn't win, and my heart broke for 21 year old Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy was leading going in to the final round.  Yesterday, he collapsed.  McIlroy was eight over par Sunday.  The kid is a heck of a golfer, and I hope he has a long career filled with wins.  It would be awful if he is most remembered for one really bad round of golf at The Masters.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

It's another view of Buttermilk Falls, in Wyoming County today.  This view is looking to the north, with the Susquehanna River at my back.

The area is beautiful every day, but even more so when the falls are running fast.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

You have to respect nature's beauty and stand in awe of its power.

This is Buttermilk Falls in Falls, Wyoming County.  The view is to the south, toward the Susquehanna River.

The falls were running fast with recent rains and the snow melt.

Tomorrow, another view.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Scrapple

A little late, but is there anything more tired than an April Fool's joke?

Also a little late, but the person behind the Bronx Zoo Cobra Tweets is a comedic genius.

There's an old Italian saying:  "April borrows a week from March."  I hope that week is over.

I can get a free cell phone if I extend my contract two years.  The offer has been on the table for a few weeks, and I still haven't pulled the trigger.  I have no interest in a smart phone, and I can't find a regular phone that's better than what I have now.

Marywood University and the University of Scranton share a channel on my cable system.  Programming coming from these institutions?  Almost zero!  Why are they wasting such a wonderful resource?

What's behind America's new fascination with cupcakes?  It reminds me of the Great Toasted Sub Craze of 2005.

The Baltimore Sun recently did a story on how WBAL radio increased its ratings-- by upping the amount of news.  News is expensive, but as WBAL proves, it's worth it.

Published reports say Meredith Vieira will leave NBC's "Today" show in the fall.  Vieira allegedly said she wants out because of the grueling hours, and to spend more time with her husband, who has been battling a variety of health problems.  Every morning anchor, network or local, should remember something Bryant Gumbel said when he left Today.  A reporter asked him about the hours.  Gumbel said he wasn't going to complain because there are a "whole lot of people who get up a lot earlier, for a lot less money."  Gumbel gets it.

Matt Lauer is allegedly leaving "Today" at the end of 2012.  Add him to the list of people I've never understood.

Why doesn't the excess surrounding the "Royal Wedding" bother me?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Old Pop Culture

Music is such a wonderful thing.  It serves as a fantastic memory trigger.

Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" is on my iPod.  It came around in the shuffle as I was walking the beagle on a recent morning.  It's a great song.  Yet, the first thing I think of, any time I hear it, is Garrett Morris' Tina Turner impression on "Saturday Night Live" in the mid 70's.  It was absolutely perfect, and quite daring.  Other than Flip Wilson, there wasn't a lot of cross dressing on TV at the time. 

I'd point you to a link, but NBC guards its stuff seriously.  All I could find is one bad still, and it isn't worth posting here.

On a totally unrelated note, "The Waltons" has popped up on a couple cable channels in recent weeks.  You might be shocked by this, but I have spent a little time watching those old episodes.  I didn't realize it in the 70's, but after taking a good look now, all those kids really look like they came from the same family.  I'm sure it was no easy trick.

Kudos to the casting director!

An IMDB.com search reveals they made 213 Waltons episodes, and that's an amazing number.

Reelz has been running NewsRadio episodes for quite a while, and I manage to catch one every so often.  It was clever TV at its finest.  However, seeing Phil Hartman makes me sad-- the life of a talented man cut so short.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Katie

So, Katie Couric is apparently leaving the CBS Evening News.

She was paid lots of money.  No ratings.  Don't cry for CBS.  I was told long ago that no company ever agreed to a contract it couldn't afford.  There's evidence she drove viewers away, rather than attracting them to the broadcast.

There was a time that if you had a network evening news anchor job, you were at the pinnacle of your profession.  I still believe that's true.  Katie feels otherwise.  She wants out, in favor of a syndicated talk show.

Katie Couric is a gifted communicator.  Journalist?  I'm not so sure. 

Before you accuse of me of being on a high horse, an evening news anchor gig isn't for everyone.  The evening news hole is about twenty minutes long.  Couric and CBS tried to re-invent the broadcast, with interviews and commentary.  There wasn't enough time to do it right.  It didn't work, but I do give Couric, the producers, and CBS credit for trying.

If you're unhappy in a job, if you don't feel you're being used in the best way, it is okay to step away-- even if you're leaving one of the best jobs in the business. 

A talk show is a better use of Couric's talents.

Still, I have a hard time wrapping my head around someone walking away from the Cronkite chair.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

~ 30 ~


I started my first commercial radio job 30 years ago today.

I've blogged about it before, but here's a quick refresher.  I was the Sunday morning guy at WARM 590.  It's not as glamorous as it seems.  It took a while to get on the air.  My first job, back in 1981, was to run the religion and public affairs shows.  Every half hour, 1 AM to 9 AM, I'd put a new tape on the machine and press "play."  There were a few other things-- transmitter readings, switch from night time transmission pattern to day time at the appropriate moment, keep the newsroom tidy, etc.  Computers weren't around back then.    The Associated Press teletype machine spit out miles of paper.  Someone had to keep it under control.

I spanned the time from RJ Harkins late at night to Vince Sweeney on Sunday morning.  WARM devoted a lot of time to religion and public affairs back then, six+ hours.  It seemed excessive at the time.  I now realize how important all that time was.  Some of the religion broadcasts were sponsored, so it was a small source of revenue for the operation.

My first two hours consisted of playing a couple hours of music RJ taped in advance.

My pay?  $4/hour.

For those of you too young to remember, WARM was THE local radio station, a legend-- plenty of listeners, and filled with history.  Even being a tiny, tiny, tiny part of that was a major rush.

One of my favorite moments took place a few days after I started.  I was a sophomore at Marywood at the time, and I told a senior friend about the gig.  His comment:  "You're now a paid professional."  I always remembered that line, and I use it on the kids entering the business today.  By the way, the original author is now running a bunch of radio stations for CBS in Philadelphia.

It wasn't much, but I still took the job seriously-- always on time, always organized.  Eventually, management started giving me more hours, and I moved up the ladder.  My last position there was doing news in the morning, the most important time of day in radio.  Total time on the WARM payroll:  10.5 years.

I felt extremely lucky to have the little Sunday morning job back then, and I still feel that way.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Red Flag Warning

It's an issue we in the news biz wrestle with all the time.

I was watching the "Today" show last week, and there was a huge examination of a fashion controversy.  Abercrombie & Fitch is selling a little girl's bikini with a padded top.  Everyone agreed that it was a bad idea.  "Today" trotted out expert after expert.  Meredith Vieira did that fake outrage thing she does so well.

All I could think of, as I watched this, was how happy Abercrombie must be with all the free advertising.  Even though a padded children's bikini top is an insane idea, I'm sure the "Today" coverage increased sales.  "Today" was out to bury Abercrombie.  Instead, it did the company a favor.  Was this a controversy better off ignored?

On the other side of the coin is the synthetic drug known as "bath salts."  They make you do bad things.  Bath salts put users in danger, and it also hurts all the people around the abusers.  The public should know the dangers.  But, are we pulling a Four Loco-- increasing use by doing stories on bath salts?

I guess it comes down to this.  A padded bikini might be a bad idea, but no one was put in physical danger by wearing one.  Bath salts can kill you.

There are now several efforts to ban the sales of bath salts, and you know that wouldn't happen if the dangers weren't exposed.

And just as one way to get high exits the stage, another one enters.  I read a story where kids are soaking tampons in vodka and inserting them rectally.  They get the alcohol buzz, and the parents are none the wiser because there's no alcohol on the breath.  I wonder how many kids went out and tried it after reading the story.  The practice is extremely risky, and the story should not be ignored, but will exposing the danger lead people into temptation?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

More photos today from Scranton's Iron Furnaces, off Cedar Avenue.

As I noted yesterday, the stone work and masonry here is absolutely amazing.  Remember, this place was built around the time of the Civil War.

Could you imagine what it would take to construct something similar today?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

If you live or work in Scranton, chances are you've passed it a thousand times.  It's the Iron Furnaces off Cedar Avenue.

I've always had mixed feelings about this place.  It's wonderful resource, full of history, and on the National Register of Historic Places.  Yet, I rarely see people there.  Amazing stone work.  It shows that Scranton played a huge role in building's the nation's industrial foundation.

Underutilized resource? Absolutely. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

About the Cover

As always, a new month brings a new blog header.

April features the Wyoming County Courthouse in Tunkhannock.

All you need to know is on the Wyoming County web site.

There's a relatively new addition in the back, and unlike many courthouse additions I've seen over the years, this one seems to fit.