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Friday, September 30, 2011

Riddle Me This

What happened to September this year?

Why are there still some nimrods who refuse to obey the "headlights on while windshield wipers on" law?

How did Michael Simonson escape from the Lackawanna County jail, and why was someone with his track record still there?

Is anyone surprised the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees aren't talking about their proposed move to another city for the upcoming season?

I've been transferring some stock around lately.  Why can't they make those forms easy to understand and fill out?

When the the NFL pre game shows become "comedy first, information second?"

Why does every flavor, of every brand of those little energy shots taste like cheap perfume?

Wasn't this the best last day of the MLB season ever?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Media Notes

Andy Rooney hangs it up as a regulat "60 Minutes" contributor Sunday night.  He's been at it for 33 years, an amazing run.  In fact, Rooney is an amazing guy.  Read about his background, and you'll be impressed.

You have to read Harry Reasoner's autobiography, called "Before the Colors Fade."  Rooney's one shortcoming, according to Reasoner, was he never could figure out how to end a piece.

Yesterday, I mentioned how I'm currently fascinated with "Restaurant Impossible" on the Food Network.  I can't figure it out.  Robert Irvine is the kind of loud mouthed bully I hate.  Every episode is the same:  Irvine yells at the owners.  They cry.  He yells at the staff.  They cry.  He fixes the restaurant.  The owners cry again.  I'm sure I'll tire of it after a while, and I look forward to that day.

I'm a big James Spader fan, so I actually attempted to watch "The Office" the other night.  Big mistake.  The show is still as stunningly unfunny as ever.

Ratings for the CBS Evening News are 11 per cent higher than they were last year at this time.  America just did not take to Katie Couric as a news anchor.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Scrapple

I've been itching to get out with my camera, but the weather has been uncooperative.

I've been watching "Restaurant Impossible" more than I care to admit.

I really miss the overnight "Entourage" reruns on WGN.

It will be interesting to see how the Conrad Murray trial ends, but I really won't be glued to my tv during the proceedings.  It was a tragedy, but you can't escape the fact that Michael Jackson played a role in his own death.

The flood damage in Bloomsburg is among the worst I've ever seen.  By the way, thanks to BAHS principal Dan Bonomo for his help on a story a couple weeks ago.  I can imagine the difficulty of keeping kids focused on education while their homes are in ruins.

It's nice to see the Buffalo Bills doing well and the Indianapolis Colts doing poorly.  I try to avoid taking delight in the misfortunes of others, but I can't help but smile at the struggles of Michael Vick.

September has flown by for me.  For flood victims, I can see how the opposite is probably true.

Many people believe there's something fishy with the Conahan Florida real estate deal.  It's likely we'll never know the whole story.

I found a really good shave gel at the dollar store last week.

Is it just me or is there a bigger Joe Paterno disconnect every week?

So far, my Twitter 2.0 experiment is going okay.  Not great.  Not awful.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Conference Call

Williamsport played Stroudsburg in high school football a couple weeks ago.  Are you kidding me?  We sent kids on a bus, three hours, on a Friday night, to play high school football?  Some professional teams don't travel that long.

When I was growing up, my high school was in a conference called the Big 11.  Scranton Tech, Central, West, Dunmore, Valley View, Mid Valley, North Pocono, Old Forge, Riverside, Abington Heights and Tunkhannock.  Except for Tunkhannock, all were in Lackawanna County, and all were relatively close.  It made for some great rivalries.  Plus, you could go to a game, have a pizza afterward, and still be home in time for Johnny Carson.

 My school regularly got its clock cleaned.  There were far more losses than wins (including zero wins in my senior year).  In retrospect, my school was too small, too disorganized, too facilities challenged for the Big 11.

My point is someone really has to take a hard look at the high school football conference structure.  There is too much travel, and too few regional rivalries.  It's not good for the players, and it's not good for the fans.  How many of us can devote six hours in a car on a weekend night?

There has to be a better way.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"I Was Corrupt"

You know I couldn't let this little gem pass without comment.

During his sentencing Friday in federal court at Scranton, former Luzerne County judge Michael Conahan said the system wasn't corrupt, but "I was corrupt."

Let's get out the microscope and examine this one further.

Conahan blamed his father for a lot of his problems.  Stop that!  No one had a Norman Rockwell childhood.  Having an abuse father is no reason to steal millions and help lock up kids, who didn't have the benefit of legal representation.

Dear old dad was a grand chap while Michael Conahan was pocketing millions and living the high life in Florida.  The late papa Conahan became an SOB after sonny got caught.

There was ample time to say "Whoa, stop the clock" and go on the straight and narrow.  The epiphany came after the feds came knocking at the door.  Please!  I was born at night, but it wasn't last night.

The money was too good, too much, too easy.  Michael Conahan abused his power right under our noses.  That's not my assertion.  He admitted to it.

Conahan might have been right when he said the system wasn't corrupt.  First of all, he railroaded the closing of the county's juvenile detention center and the leasing of a private one past the commissioners, who weren't on the ball enough to ask the right questions and who had no regard for the taxpayers.  One of those commissioners was current federal inmate Greg Skrepenak, and considering his track record, every decision made while he was in office now has a huge cloud over it.

Then, there was the district attorney's office, who did nothing as all this was happening, plus all those kids were appearing in court, before co-conspirator Mark Ciavarella, without representation.

The system might not have been corrupt, but it was lazy and incompetent and broken and filled with apathy.  Again, not my assertion.  An investigation into the "Kids for Cash" scandal lays it all out.  It's unfortunate the things mentioned in this paragraph are not federal crimes as well.  If they were, Conahan  and Ciavarella would have a lot of company in the lock up.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: More Diesels

A few more diesel shots today...  same location, behind the Radisson in downtown Scranton.
You can always find a variety of steam engines over at Steamtown, and plenty of diesels.  For some strange reason, I'm drawn to the latter.  Maybe it's the color.  Maybe it's the spartan, no nonsense nature of the beast.
And, even though some look awful, they always get the job done.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: The Diesels

It's been quite a while since I've inflicted train photos upon you.

I was driving in downtown Scranton on a recent rainy morning when a string of diesels, parked behind the Radisson, caught my eye.  Luckily, the camera was close at hand.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wynegar Update

One candid, and one posed.

A couple weeks ago, I blogged that I interviewed Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees hitting coach Butch Wynegar for a Labor Day story.  It involved the last Yankees home game until 2013, due to stadium reconstruction.

A Wynegar fan took some pictures and sent them to me.

Below, from left to right, me, Bill Marosevitch from White Haven, Wynegar, and photographer David Engh.

Doing the interview was a kick, and so were the photos.  Thanks.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"The End"

It's time for a temporary break from serious issues.

The "Entourage" series finale aired September 11th.

My review:  meh.

Things moved a little too fast, and were a little too cute and sweet for my tastes.  The series always had a bit of an edge.  Unfortunately, it disappeared for the finale.

I won't go in to specifics, in case you haven't seen it.  I will say that I never saw what Eric saw in Sloan and vice versa.  Vince fell for the writer in record speed, and she gave in-- totally out of character for her-- and him.

Ari's actions did surprise me a bit.  I didn't buy in to it.

I'm disappointed some characters from the past didn't make return appearances, but I do realize it would have been a lot to cram in to a half hour..

Overall, it wrapped up enough plot points for a series ender, but still left a few open for that alleged "Entourage" movie we've been hearing about.

When the history of television is written, and the list of great series is compiled, "Entourage" will not be there.  However, for eight seasons, it was pretty darn entertaining.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Great Bend

The Great Bend shopping center parking lot, where I did live shots in the February snow, was a swamp in September.
When I stopped by last week, it was a sea of dumpsters and water logged furniture, drying in the morning sun.  It's not the first time this shopping center has been flooded.  Unfortunately, the people here know the drill.  Wash off what you can.  Throw out what you can't.  Hope and pray for the best.
As Newswatch 16's Raegan Medgie reported last week, many of the business owners here say they will not give up.  Unfortunately, I fear they'll have to go through this again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bowman's Creek

Above, Bowman's Creek, near Tunkhannock last week-- after Irene and Lee.

Below, the view from March 17.
And, below, some of the debris that washed up along the road and the bridge over the creek.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The National Guard

They don't get thanked nearly enough.  The National Guard was out in force the last couple weeks-- guarding flooded areas against looters, directing traffic, and generally keeping people out of trouble.  Above the view last Monday, on the road near the Wyoming County Emergency Managment Agency building near Tunkhannock.  I just missed several trucks pulling out.

Below, a guardsman keeps people off the Water Street Bridge in Pittston.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday

Here's another from the country church collection.

This is the First Baptist Church, along Route 11 in New Milford, Susquehanna County.

The clapboards are white, but they have a bit of a yellowish hue because of the early morning sun.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday

Sometimes, we need to be reminded that the Susquehanna can be a beautiful river.  This is an early morning shot, looking north, from the bridge that links Great Bend with Hallstead in Susquehanna County.

The water is down and tranquil.  The leaves on the trees are beginning to pick up some color.

Enjoy your weekend.  I'm sure it will be better than the last.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Duryea

This is the Monday morning view of Main Street through Duryea.  Notice the letter board in front of the church on the left.
The Lackawanna River backed up, flooding dozens of homes.
Holy Rosary Church and school on Stephenson Street were flooded.  Items were drying on the sidewalk during my visit.  It's likely most of what you see here will be thrown out.
And, waterlogged trash was everywhere, including here on Watt Street.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pittston

More of Monday's tour...  Today, it's Pittston.

You might ask why I head to Pittston for high Susquehanna shots.  The answer is easy.  There's plenty of places to park, where you can stay out of the way.  Plus, the bridges add perspective.  You can see the depth of the water by looking at the bridge deck.

Below, a shot taken Monday morning.


And below, a shot from Thursday morning, when the river was on the way up.  The Water Street Bridge was closed during both my visits.                                                                                                           


And, any discussion of the Susquehanna in this part of Luzerne County has to include West Pittston, a community that got hit hard last week.  Beloe, the view from east to west.  As you can see, there's no flood protection.



Several years ago, the people in West Pittston tod the federal government thanks, but no thanks when it came to levee raising.  A higher levee would block the view of the river.  Common sense would tell you that those higher levees downstream would force higher crests in the Pittston area.  Now that we've had a record flood, some people in West Pittston are having second thoughts.  The story even made the New York Times.  The feds say there's a chance a levee will be built here.  Live and learn.

A county official says the "view" thing is an urban myth.  The real story is the feds were interested in raising levees where they already existed-- not extending them to unprotected areas.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wilkes-Barre

Traffic was a mess Monday morning.  Some streets in Wilkes-Barre were still closed.  Trucks were everywhere.  I couldn't get close to what I really wanted to see, but that's okay.  I didn't NEED to be there.
There was a severe back up on the Pierce Street Brudge, heading from Kingston to Wilkes-Barre Monday morning.  The courthouse was open for business, and if you look carefullly, you can see workers on the dome.
The Susquehanna is below flood stage in this photo, but it still looks menacing.  This is the view upstream from the Pierce Street Bridge.
And, in the distance, the Market Street Bridge.  Kingston is on the right, Wilkes-Barre on the left.  Bridges undergo a tremendous amount of stress during floods, and it was great to see the Market Street Bridge, one of our area's most interesting, is still there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tunkhannock

I just had to see for myself.  Camera in hand, I made a quick tour areas affected by the flood, making sure it was AFTER the immediate emergency had ended, and making sure to stay out of the way.  First stop, Tunkhannock.


Above, a scene repeated over and over again-- water logged furniture and other items, out for the trash.  I took this along Business Route 6.
Volunteers helped remove the seats from the Dietrich Theater, and helped pump water from the building.  It's clear the efforts were appreciated.

This is a shot into the Dietrich lobby.  You can't hear the hum of the fans and smell all the disenfecting chemicals.
This hardware store is near a creek and the river.  It got whacked over the weekend-- with items now out front to dry in the September breeze.
And, behind the building, water and mud covered lawn mowers and tractors.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Re Tweet

Okay, I'm back, and let me get you all up to speed.

I conducted a six month Twitter experiment back in January, and to say the least, I was underwhelmed.  It was cute and mildly informative.  At the end of the six months, I decided I could live without Twitter.

Then, along come Irene and Lee, and I dipped back into the Twitter scene to see what was going on.  It knocked my socks off.  Twitter really exploded.  All the information came to me, rather than having to manuever my way around the internet for the latest on the storms and the flooding.  It was a good way for fast information, while doing other things during my vacation.

Several media outlets, and yes, that includes our competitors, used Twitter to its fullest, and I was impressed.  Governments and PennDOT also stepped up to the plate rather nicely.

So, I'm back.

The blog, nearing its seventh birthday, will continue to be my primary outlet for yapperage, but there will be a tweet once in a while.  It's best to give as well as receive.

There might be a name change down the road, but for the time being, you can find me @apal16.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11

Others can write about 9/11 better than I, so I'll defer to those people today.

As we remember the sacrifices of first responders, here's a look at the firefighters memorial along Kennedy Boulevard in Pittston.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

FloodWatch 2011

I took my river pictures Thursday morning, before it got really bad.  I didn't venture out in the afternoon, because it was best to keep the roads clear for those who really HAVE to be out.

This is the Lackawanna River from the Stephenson St. Bridge in Duryea.  It's looking south, toward the junction with the Susquehanna.

It's tough to tell from the photograph, but the Lackawanna was moving swiftly at the time.  Wise, old river watcher Kevin Jordan taught me that a swift moving river is a good thing.  If it slows, that's a sign it's backing up, and that's trouble.

I'm sure the view changed quite a bit as the day wore on.





Friday, September 9, 2011

The Unthinkable

The only word I can think of is "unthinkable."

We were told Agnes was once in a lifetime.  The levees were raised.  We felt safe.  Guess again.  Nature always has the upper hand.

I took these pictures Thursday morning in Pittston.  That's the Water Street Bridge above, looking west.

Below is the view from the same area, looking downstream.  It's frightening.

If you're in the flood zone, good luck, and please be careful.









Thursday, September 8, 2011

Harold Delano Wynegar, Jr.

I frequently use this space to point out what's going wrong.  Today, it's the opposite.

Monday, I was assigned to the "last Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees game at the stadium" story.  It was time for a fresh angle, and I gazed around the rain soaked stadium for an idea.

There was a coach talking to a couple of fans.  I said to the photographer, "That looks like Butch Wynegar."  A fan confirmed it for me.

Wynegar is the Yankees' hitting coach.  He played for the Minnesota Twins, the New York Yankees, and the California Angels.  I approached for an interview, to ask what it will be like for the team to play the entire 2012 season on the road.  He said yes, but only after he finished with the fans, which I thought was a nice touch.

One of the fans told me that Wynegar is a Pennsylvania boy.  He grew up in York.  I told Wynegar that I once freelanced for channel 43, on South Queen St., right next to the bowling alley.  He knew exactly what I was talking about, and he added that he spent a lot of time at those lanes.

We did the interview.  He gave me exactly what I was looking for, in terms baseball fans and non fans would understand.  Wynegar put a good face on the organization, and he also pointed out the difficulty of playing in an empty ballpark where the hum of the lights is louder than the noise of the crowd.

I don't get starstruck, but it was a kick meeting him.

A fan took a picture of the interview, and I'm still waiting for it to arrive in my e-mail, unless I already accidentally blew it away.  It's something I'd like to keep.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

DWTS

I will never cease to be amazed by people who just don't get it.

The latest case in point is Dancing with the Stars.  Chaz Bono will be part of the upcoming season's cast.  To get you up to speed, Chaz says he's a man who used to be a woman, and that has a lot of people torqued off.  A controversy has erupted, and all that does is create more publicity for the show.  The producers are laughing all the way to the bank.  People upset over Bono's inclusion are actually doing the producers a favor.

Don't you get it?

Personally, I could not possibly care less.  I'm not a fan of reality television and competition shows.

If you're upset over the Bono thing, consider yourself lucky if that's all you have to worry about.  Then, ignore it.  Don't watch it.  That's the worst thing you can do to a television show.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Turn Out the Lights

I've bashed the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees organization, and its manager, Mandalay, in this space several times over the last few years, so I'll keep it short.

Attendance this year broke a record for lowest ever, and I'm tired of hearing it all blamed on an old stadium, bad weather, and a down economy.  Promotion is weak.  Mandalay is not media and fan friendly.  Remember, this is the bunch that declined to say anything, good, bad or indifferent when George Steinbrenner died, and there are other instances I can list.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's attendance is the second lowest in the International League.  You can't tell me the economy and the weather are that much better in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

A down economy is actually an opportunity.  Position yourself as a family friendly, relatively cheap way to spend an afternoon or evening.  There were some newspaper ads touting some really nice ticket and food packages.  Clearly, it wasn't enough.
It's quite likely yesterday's home game will be the last until 2013.  The stadium is due for a massive renovation.  It can be done faster, cheaper and easier if the team plays somewhere else next year.  I have no problem with that.
I just hope that if and when the Yankees come back, Mandalay has a new attitude and a new outlook.  See you in 2013.  I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hi There!

I had some strange experiences with the recognition thing lately, and the people I encountered were very nice about it.

I was walking through the mall Thursday morning when a worker in one of the anchor stores said something like "Day off today?"  I explained that I have a couple weekdays off because I work weekends.  She then asked if being recognized gets annoying.  I replied that it doesn't bother me.  You get concerned when you're NOT recognized because that means they don't watch you on the news.

A few minutes later, I was at the other end of the mall, in another anchor store, when another worker tried to sign me up for a credit card.  I politely said no.  I have enough credit cards, which is true.  Most are stashed away in my AlumaWallet, and I rarely carry them with me.  When I shot her down, she said "Oh, come on, Andy."  So, now, this could go two ways.  She either knew me in person, or from TV.  As it turned out, both were true.  She interned with us several years ago, but not in the news department.  I apologized for not recognizing her because I do remember most interns.  She was a peach, and let me off the hook.  She asked about some staffers and we chatted for a while-- nice woman.

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  I was getting out of the car, at home, after work.  An attractive woman was walking a couple yappy dogs.  She asked if I was Andy.  I gave my standard reply.  "Sometimes."  She told me who she was and added we used to play together as kids.  Huh?  The last name was familiar, but I think she had me confused with my older brother.  The woman's younger sister was in my high school class, and she married my godfather's son, if that makes any sense.  Once again, I apologized for not remembering.  I added that "I don't remember what I did yesterday."  Of course, that's far from the truth.  It was just my lame attempt to win forgiveness from the yappy dog woman.  It worked.  She too let me off the hook, and could not have been nicer.

I wish there was a moral to today's story.  There really isn't.  It was just odd that I had three similar situations in a short amount of time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: PVF

This is a shot from the same parking lot as yesterday's photo.  The view is to the west.

One of the joys of late summer is patchy valley fog.  What you see above is over the Lackawanna River in Scranton.  The picture was taken around 8 AM.  North Washington Avenue is at my back, and the lights of Memorial Stadium are in the lower right corner.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: Sasquatch

He's seen better days, but Sasquatch still keeps an eye on the parking lot of a North Washington Ave., Scranton restaurant.

Notice, Sasquatch is chained to a utility pole from keeping him from retreating back in to the woods and making bad beef jerky commercials.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

3 Day Weekend

Yes, it's Labor Day weekend already.  As I was walking through the mall and doing a some other errands yesterday morning, I got a few of those small talk "It seems like yesterday was Memorial Day" comments.  I'm not sure about that.  I usually go along with those, but this year, three months seems about right.

Like most summers, the heat was a little hard to take at times.  It's refreshing to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows.

Once again, the SWB Yankees turned into another yawn.  Attendance is the second worst in the league, again.  It's likely the team will play somewhere else next year.  Unlike recent years, the record in 2011 isn't good enough for the playoffs.

High school football season starts tonight.  I have a couple fall weekends off, including next weekend.  I keep meaning to get to a game.  I haven't been to one in a very long time.  Maybe this will be the year.

Sunrises are late.  I don't like that.  Sunsets are early.  That, I do like.

The new fall TV season is just about here.  I scanned the offerings and was underwhelmed.

The summer driving season ends Monday.  Gasoline prices are supposed to come down, but don't bet on it.  A hurricane is spinning this way.  It could shut down gulf rigs and refineries.

I hope your weekend is a happy and safe one.

About the Cover

This month's blog header is the monument at the Gravity Railroad site in Carbondale.


The monument is tucked into a tiny park, and it's easy to miss.