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Friday, May 31, 2013

The Great Outdoors

A couple of you remembered I bought a bike late last summer, and have asked if I've climbed aboard this spring.  The answer is "yes."

I pumped up the tires and took my first 2013 ride a little more than one week ago.  By the time I put the bike away for the winter, I had increased my pace and distance a little bit.  It was far, far from what the hard core riders do, but I was happy.  I was concerned I lost considerable momentum over the winter and long spring, in spite of my regular gym visits.

I was pleasantly surprised at my first ride.  I pulled off the same distance as I did when I peaked in November.  There was one concession.  I maneuvered around a hill I used to climb with ease.  I probably could have pulled it, but I didn't want to take the chance.

On my second ride, I got a little closer to taking the hill.  Once again, I worked my around it, in a slightly more difficult route than my first ride.

Trip three was the big one.  I pulled the hill, and it wasn't all that hard.  I probably could have done it on day one.

As noted here before, I joined a gym when the bike was stored for the winter.  My gym routine is longer than the bike ride, but a little less intense.  As it turned out, it kept me in "bike shape."  I'll now alternate bike rides and gym for the rest of the summer.

After all these years, I finally broke down and bought a tube of sun screen.  Heck, that stuff is expensive!  I received a bad burn at a RailRiders game last month, and more redness on election day.  It had to be done.  Unfortunately, as soon as I bought the sun screen, the weather turned cloudy, rainy, and cold.  There's plenty of sun season left.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jimmy Carter

Watching Jimmy Carter visit Luzerne County Tuesday brought back a lot of memories.

I was 14 years old when Jimmy Carter was elected president, and I have to admit I was happy about that.  Gerald Ford seemed like an OK guy, but we wanted something different, fresh, an outsider, someone who was going to change Washington.

Perhaps, we expected too much.  Jimmy Carter wasn't a very good president.  He had a lot go wrong on his watch-- the Iranian hostage crisis and the energy mess were two of the biggies.  I remember thinking Carter was more concerned about Israel and Egypt, when he should have been paying attention to the struggles of those here at home.  He pointed the blame for the energy cross at we Americans, and we hate to take responsibility for anything.

There were some good things, including attempts at a national energy policy.  He seemed like an honest man, and Jimmy Carter gets major points for that.  Carter brought an informality to the presidency.  Nixon was still fresh in our memories, so a president who carried his own bags and didn't like "Hail to the Chief" was a nice change of pace.

Unfortunately, Carter came off as a guy who couldn't get things done.  A lot of people were uncomfortable with the informality.  We want a certain stature to our presidents.  Jeans and sweaters in the Oval Office?  Too much, or not enough.  Ted Kennedy tried and failed to win the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination.  Carter was wounded and never recovered.

I remember a steamy summer night at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, when there was a rumor Carter would make a stop here on a national listening tour.  The airport was packed until almost midnight.  We then realized Carter was going elsewhere.

Election night, in November of 1980 had zero suspense.  Ronald Reagan was declared winner by 8:15 PM.  Say what you want about Reagan's policies, but he did get the country feeling good about itself again, and that was a major accomplishment.

Jimmy Carter went on to be a better ex-president than president.  Saying he's one of the most respected people in the country would not be a stretch.  He's still out there, at the age of 88, trying to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Top of the Morning

The incessant banging from a home improvement project ate in to my reading time, but I finally finished Brian Stelter's book on the AM TV wars called "Top of the Morning."

Stelter has a flowery writing style.  I didn't like it.  It seems to be an effort to appeal to non TV types, so in a way, I understand what he was going for.

The vast majority of the book is spent discussing the fight for first place between ABC's "Good Morning America" and NBC's "Today."  It's a fight ABC has been winning for the last nine months.

"Today" has been struggling.  Ratings began to erode in the last of the Meredith Vieira days, and there was an acceleration of that under the miscast Ann Curry.  The latter was thrown overboard last year, and "Today" is still a long, long away from recovering.  "Top of the Morning" goes into the Curry thing with great detail.  While I think she wasn't right for a morning TV anchor job, she was treated horribly.

There is more than enough blame to go around.  "Today" lost its focus.  What little charm Matt Lauer had faded under intense scrutiny.  Al Roker's act is tired.  "Good Morning America" simply found its stride, and the people there look like they're having more fun.  You want them in your home, rather than the dour "Today" bunch.  Yes, "GMA" is a little light for my tastes.  But then again, I'm not the target audience.

Let me go off a little bit on Matt Lauer.  I think he's OK.  Just OK.  He had the good fortune of taking over "Today" at a time when "GMA" was imploding.  Remember Kevin Newman and Lisa McRee?  ABC News didn't know whether it wanted "Good Morning America" to be newsy or fluffy.  Viewers never knew what they'd find at 7 AM.  While Lauer didn't do anything to screw it up, until recently, he was like the guy who was born on third base and thought he'd hit a triple.  In light of the Curry debacle, when people started to watch closely, viewers discovered there wasn't much to Matt Lauer.

The Lauer rehabilitation tour makes me chuckle.  He yukked it up with Leno and Ellen, trying to show he's a regular, nice guy.  The act is transparent.

There isn't much space devoted to CBS and its attempt to create a morning broadcast for the umpteenth time.  It's a less juicy story, but one that's far more interesting.

I did enjoy reading how the ABC cast came together, and how they all dealt with Robin Roberts' illness.  There was a lot I didn't know.  The rest of the ABC/NBC stuff has already been in the New York Post.

"Top of the Morning" is a breezy, easy summertime read.  Although, there are times it seems more like the National Enquirer than the work of a New York Times writer.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Time and Again

I was in or at six different polling places one week ago, and something really jumped out at me.

Most people involved in the political process-- the candidates, the election workers, the campaign volunteers, and even the voters are all old.  There were exceptions-- some young candidates and their helpers.  For example, a 26 year old ran for council in the town where I live.  A 23 year old is on his way to becoming a Scranton school director.  Those exceptions were few and far between.

So, that leads us to the question:  How do we get younger people involved in the process?  You can't follow my example.  I was always a news geek, staying up late at night to watch Tom Powell crunch the election numbers on the old WDAU.  Watching old network TV election nights is one of my favorite You Tube pastimes.  By the way, people raved about Cronkite and his team at CBS.  They were great-- but, John Chancellor over at NBC was as smooth and knowledgeable as they came.  Chancellor was always underrated. 

Are schools dropping the ball?  Probably.  I meet a lot of college kids and industry newbies who know very little about the political process.  Can we do a better job as broadcasters?  Likely.  We need to show more things people "need" to know, but will people watch?

Something else jumped out of me when I examined the tear off strip at the bottom of my paper ballot.  I was the first independent to vote in my ward, and I cast my ballot around 1 PM-- six hours after the polls opened.  The powers that be did an extremely poor job of letting non Democrats and Republicans know they could vote on ballot questions and members of the Lackawanna County government study commission.

Turnout, overall, was poor-- in spite of some very important things going on.

I really don't have a good feeling about the future of our system.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer.  It's a great time of year.

There will be barbecues and picnics, outings, swimming, parties, etc...

But, please to take a moment to remember what the day is all about.

This is one of the toughest days of the year in the TV news business.  We try to get to as many observances as we can.  Unfortunately, we can't visit them all, and there will be some bruised feelings.  Rest assured, what you do is noted and appreciated.

Be safe, and we'll see you back here tomorrow.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bad Photography Sunday: The Train Station

We have a couple more from the Nicholson collection before it's time to move on to other things. 

I'm always tickled when old buildings are preserved, and there's an effort to keep this one from falling apart.

It's the old train station in Nicholson.

As you can see, the buildings need a lot of tender, loving care, and that equals a lot of money.

Hey, it's been done elsewhere.  Why not here?  There's a long way to go, but at least the ball is rolling.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bad Photography Saturday: The Train

Today's photo is almost the opposite of the one in this space one week ago.

Once again, it's the Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson.  The business district is off to the left, and this photo contains a bonus.  A train was crossing, heading north, when the photo was taken.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Free

As with every election, there's enough material for days, and I even have another post mortem in the queue for next week.

We live in a great country, and today's blog is about free speech.  As a journalist, I'm thankful for that freedom every day, and it's distressing to see it abused and manipulated.

There was a hot race for Lackawanna County Sheriff.  Every candidate said they're the guy who's all for law and order.  Let's look at that a little more carefully.  Lackawanna County Sheriffs essentially transport prisoners, provide county building security, and issue gun permits.  There isn't much law and order to the job.  In fact, the current occupant of the position had no law enforcement experience when elected-- and we kept sending him back time after time after time.

Perhaps it's time to change the law.  There are some very good men and women wearing deputy's uniforms.  They do have training.  We need the help.  Give them more to do.

I've whined about this before-- candidates for judge who stage phony courtroom scenes.  Pennsylvania doesn't allow cameras in the courtroom.  Either Pennsylvania should exit the dark ages, or candidates need to get straight with voters.  I'll have to do some checking to see if the county allows use of its courtrooms for free, as a favor to members of the bar, or if there's a rental fee.  I'm okay with either.  You paid for that courtroom, and you should use it... But, if it's going to be used as a stage for partisan political purposes, perhaps the taxpayers should get some cash for paying for the upkeep.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Scrapple Thursday

Alan O'Day died last week.  He had a hit, as a performer, in 1977 with "Undercover Angel."  Great song.  O'Day wrote many more.  Cancer.  72.

Of all the catastrophic weather events out there, tornadoes scare me the most.  Other than running for cover if you see one approach, there's nothing you can do about them.

Can someone please explain to me why Yahoo! thought Tumblr is worth $ 1.1 billion?  Do you know anyone who has a Tumblr account?

I'm glad I bought the big bottle of Benadryl a few weeks ago.

I didn't realize "Good Morning America" had been beating "Today" for nine months.

The only time I bought a Powerball ticket was when I was doing a story on the game several years ago.

More government scandals:  IRS, Benghazi, questionable eavesdropping...  Will the people we put in power ever learn?

Why does every high school and college commencement address sound the same?

At one time, I would have been thrilled Robin Williams is doing another sitcom.  Now?  Meh.  I'm mildly intrigued, at best.  I'll give it a shot in the fall.

I've been watching some old George Carlin routines on You Tube.  The man was a genius, and no one today even comes close.

Luzerne County's web site crashed Tuesday night, under the weight of election returns.  The election board's solicitor was quoted as saying he liked the results being posted the old fashioned way, at the courthouse.  Another county official refused to provide the numbers to television stations.  It's outrageous behavior, and what makes it even more sad is they will get away with it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Results

I went back and forth on the Scranton mayoral race.  At first, I thought there was no way Liz Randol could beat Bill Courtright.  Then, Courtright stumbled.  He never really expressed a vision for the city.  It was shown he wasn't following proper procedure in the tax collector's office.  Randol was peaking, in spite the "lost gun" controversy.  I really thought she had a great chance of winning Tuesday night.  Courtright wins, and it really wasn't all that close.

It appears Randol won the Republican write-in nomination, setting up a re-match for the fall.  In spite of Courtright's anemic numbers, he's the huge favorite.

A note to the Luzerne and Lackawanna county Republican parties:  there are several offices ripe for the picking.  The inability to field a substantial slate of candidates is sad.  Competition makes everyone stronger.

Patti Rieder's face was everywhere during the campaign.  There was apparently a lot of money to spend.  Rieder had volunteers at every polling place I visited yesterday.  It wasn't enough.  Jim Gibbons, a magistrate from the Abingtons, captured both the Democratic and Republican nominations in Lackawanna County Tuesday night.  Gibbons gets the black robe in January, possibly sooner.

Alleged wiretapper, Luzerne County controller Walter Griffith, survived his fight for the Republican nomination.  It was a little closer than a lot of people thought.  Whether he's electable in November is a much different story.

George Skumanick wanted his old job back.  He was hammered in the race for the Republican nomination for district attorney in Wyoming County.  Skumanick came under fire several years ago for bringing charges against some high school students in a sexting scandal.  He didn't have much of a choice if you carefully read the way the law was written.

Lackawanna County voters decided to form a government study commission, but rejected the move to get rid of some needless row offices.  They'll be talking about this one for a long time.  The government study commission is no surprise.  But, I didn't expect the row offices to remain.  They cost a lot of money, and they were formed back in the days of longhand entry into ledger books.  In a climate of change, voters chose the "same old."  It appears the governing factor is voters want a say in who works in county government, rather than power brokers rewarding the appointed few.

Luzerne County's web site crashed last night.  It did not affect the vote count, just the distribution of the numbers.  It's 2013.  This shouldn't happen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Election Day

Municipal Election Day is finally here, and please, get out and vote.

As I said two weeks ago, every election is important.  Off year elections traditionally have low turnout and that's just sad.  The people on the ballot are your neighbors-- your council members, mayors, and school directors.  Like it or not, they have a big influence on the way you live your life-- especially when it comes to the amount of taxes you pay.

In Lackawanna County, where I live, voters have the capability of reshaping their government with several questions on the ballot.

It looks like a busy day.  A couple "big race" preview stories were written last week.  They were tweaked and edited over the weekend.  You'll see them on Newswatch 16 This Morning beginning at 4:30 AM.

I'll likely do a turn out story for noon, and vote on my way home from work.

The night crew has the task of getting the numbers and the reaction on the air.  There's a special prime time broadcast on WNEP2, and a wrap up on Newswatch 16 Wednesday Morning.

Don't forget about our Twitter feed, @wnep and WNEP.com.

If I get a moment or two, there will be blog updates today, and a wrap up some time tomorrow morning.

I have my thoughts on what I think will happen today and tonight.  I'll keep them to myself today, and critique my predictions tomorrow.

Again, vote.  It's important.

>>>10:40 AM UPDATE  I visited polling places in Scranton, Moosic, Olyphant, and two in Jessup.  Turnout is light.  The Lackawanna County ballot questions seem to be generating the most interest among the few people at the polls.

The "Fix Lackawanna" people seem extremely well funded and organized.  I stopped by their downtown Scranton headquarters this morning.  It looks like they have everything they need to make it work.  "Fix Lackawanna" volunteers are at every polling place I visited.

My noon piece has been edited, and it's back on the road in a few minutes.

>>>3:30 PM UPDATE  Photographer Paul and I went to Taylor for our noon live shot.  It didn't look busy, but poll workers said turnout was "okay." My noon story was focused on the government study question-- a tough one to explain in a minute and a half.  At times like this, I envy my friends in print.  I spoke with Corey O'Brien, Lackawanna County Commissioner this morning.  He thinks passage of the referendum is fait accompli, and O'Brien hopes the commission gives all options a fair shake.  I spoke with a member of "Fix Lackawanna" afterward.  I got the feeling she just wants to toss out the current system, before the first meeting.

 I voted on the way home.  Being an Independent, I could vote only for the ballot questions and government study commission members.  I was voter 124 in my ward.  Turnout was a little heavier than I thought, but my little town has hotly contested mayor, council and school board races.

I've complained about this before, but I really hate running the gauntlet of candidates and their volunteers, bombarding me with cards and assorted other paper.  My mind was made up long ago.

Let's take a break and wait for the numbers.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Again

There are renewed efforts to strengthen the state's anti smoking law.

Casinos can still have smoking sections.  You can still smoke in bars that make less than 20 per cent from their revenue from food.  If some in the legislature have their way, those exceptions go away.

First, it's an issue of fairness.

Second, it's clearly a health issue.  It's a proven and indisputable fact that second hand smoke is hazardous.  No one is trying to stop you from smoking.  All you have to do is engage in your habit where it doesn't hurt anyone.  What's so bad about that?

A Scranton diner fought the smoking ban.  It's still there.  A couple downtown bars closed.  That had more to do with a bad economy, competition, and mismanagement than a ban on smoking.

Other states have anti smoking regulations that are more strict than Pennsylvania's.  Show me the economic collapse.  You can't because it never happened.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bad Photography Sunday: The Creek

Nicholson has three creeks flowing through it, and this is one of them.  It's Martin's Creek.  The photo was taken on a cool mid April morning.  The trees had yet to sprout their leaves, but I've said before, brown and grey can be just as interesting as a photo full of brighter colors.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bad Photography Saturday: Tunkhannock Viaduct

The Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson is perhaps my favorite thing to photograph.  There are interesting angles from both sides.  The concrete changes color in the sun, depending on the time of day.

Something recently occurred to me.  I upgraded my camera in September of 2011, and I still hadn't made a trip to Nicholson to photograph the bridge.

That changed in the middle of last month.

This photograph is taken from the east-- looking toward the town of Nicholson itself.

After looking at the photograph for a while, I realized this photo is more about the creek than the bridge.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Over



The long, national nightmare has come to an end.  "The Office" aired its last original episode last night on NBC.

I tried to like this show.  I really did.  It just wasn't funny.  The characters were horrible, slimy people.  I didn't want to spend time with them.  The situations were joyless.  I wasn't one of the people who tuned in just to hear a Scranton reference, or spot a Froggy 101 bumper sticker.

According to the New York Times, an early episode was so bad, NBC considered exiling "The Office" to its Bravo cable network.  I suspect people around here gave "The Office" more credit than it deserved because it was set in Scranton.

The ratings, meager as they were, peaked years ago.

I cringed when a Lackawanna County "official" referred to "The Office" as a "hit" show.  The reality is "The Office" was far from a hit.  A newspaper headline called "The Office" "iconic."  Are you kidding me?  Reality check:  This wasn't "MASH."  Many of my print and broadcast brethren lost all objectivity.

It was never really much of a hit.  "The Office" stayed on the NBC schedule because the network has severe problems generating watchable shows.  Plus, NBC owned the show and got to keep all the profits.  At best, it was a mid level show on a fifth place network.

"The Office" will be relegated to the late night dust bin of mediocre re-runs.

Its demise gives NBC a chance to put something that's actually funny in that time period.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Unfinished Thursday

We're learning more about Sunday night's fire in Pottsville that killed six.  The family was living in substandard conditions.  There were no smoke alarms.  A city officials says the family was warned months ago.  They never had a chance.  A tragic story has become even more sad.

She wasn't the first to do it, and she will not be the last, but I could not imagine what it would be like to be confronted with an Angelina Jolie type decision.

The networks are putting together their fall schedules.  No new show has jumped out as "must see."  The only cancellation that made me sit up and take notice was NBC canning its Brian Williams anchored news magazine "Rock Center."  In spite of Williams' wordiness, I was pleased with the few editions I saw.  Plus, two of my favorites, Kate Snow and Harry Smith, were contributors.  The programming geniuses bounced "Rock Center" all over the schedule.  It was never able to find an audience.

My cell phone company offered me $ 100 off a smart phone yesterday, and I have a month to decide.  The company will not waive the $ 30 upgrade fee.  I politely told them they can keep their smart phone.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

30

I graduated from Marywood College 30 years ago today.

Memories of the time?  I remembering not wanting to go through the ceremony hassle, but the parents paid for most of my education, and I did the ceremony for them.  It was an expression of gratitude. 

May 15, 1983 was a drizzly day.  Rather than hold the ceremony outside in the Memorial Commons, it was moved inside to the theater in the Fine Arts Building.

The commencement speaker talked about world hunger.  It was a speech that had little relevance for a bunch of kids who were about to go out to find jobs, so they could feed themselves.  I will give the speaker credit for being ahead of the curve.  No one was talking about world hunger in those days.

It seemed like an eternity, and when it was finally over, I posed for pictures with a few friends, said good bye to others, and my college days were over.

On my way back to my car in the parking lot, I stopped by the college radio station for a last look around.  For obvious reasons, the radio station was my favorite place on campus.

There was no celebration.  I went home and went to sleep because I had the overnight shift at WARM.  After 30 years, some things haven't changed.

I've complained a lot about Marywood in this space over the years, but overall, I'm happy I went there and I'm extremely grateful my parents gave me the opportunity.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Bad Day

I knew it was going to be a bad day from the second I set foot in the WNEP newsroom yesterday morning.  Usually, our morning broadcast producer, Thomas, gives me a chance to put down my brief case, take off my coat and sit down before we discuss the day's possibilities.  He pounced on me the second I came into view around the corner.

Yesterday, there was only one story.  When I arrived yesterday at 2:30 AM, one of our photographers was on his way back from Pottsville.  At the time, we knew there was a very bad fire on Pierce Street. There were six people unaccounted for and feared dead.  Four of those were children.

Photographer Corey and I quickly loaded up one of our satellite trucks and headed south.  Photographer Dave and Ryan Leckey got in a news car and also went to Pottsville a few minutes later.  Corey and I arrived just before 4:30 AM.  As he set up the truck and positioned the satellite dish, I set out in search of information.

A lot of fire departments and coroner's offices can learn a few things from the people in Pottsville and Schuylkill County.  It was solid crisis management.  They confirmed what they could.  It was enough information for us to get on the air and leave them alone for a while.  They offered what additional information they had throughout the morning.  There were regular updates, mini news conferences.  We got our information, and it saved the official types from constant and repeated pestering.

WNEP broadcast live updates twice a half hour from 4:30 AM all the way until Good Morning America ended at 9:00 AM.  We even found a few minutes to deliver a live report to our sister station in Huntsville, AL.  Ryan and I had a system that worked rather well.  I'd handle the official part of the story.  He would do the neighborhood reaction.  We took different elements of the story and combined them to make sense, without encroaching on the other's territory.

Still others back at the office updated WNEP.com, Twitter, and made sure the video got on the air and on-line.  Tom and Mindi easily and calmly adapted to several last minute changes back at the anchor desk.

Several people e-mailed and Tweeted positive comments.  Thank you.  We did what we could.

Some asked what it's like covering such a tragedy.  I don't know if other journalists are the same, but when I'm out on something like this, a different mode kicks in.  Yes, I'm trying to be as humane and sensitive as possible, but I'm also thinking about logistics, technical issues, content for the next update, how I'm going to construct my noon story, what the later follow up crews need to know...

The horror always sinks in when I'm on my way home in the car, and moments like this-- when I'm in front of my computer keyboard and monitor, in the quiet of my home work space.


I guess being in the work overdrive mode, at the scene, is a defense mechanism.  It keeps you from breaking down and crying, and believe me, it's not hard to cry at stories like this.

There are other ways of coping.  Mass media events are opportunities to see people from other stations, both locally, and Philadelphia and Harrisburg.  I've competed against, and worked with most over the years.  It's nice to see old friends, and you really appreciate familiar faces on a bad day.  Plus, you make new friends and ask about old ones who work other shifts or who are back at the office.

You try not to complain, because you know there are those who have it a lot worse-- the families of the victims, their friends, the neighbors, the first responders...

As an aside, let me tell you a little bit about Pottsville...  It's a pretty city, but it can be a television logistical nightmare.  It's hilly.  The streets are narrow.  Many are one way.  There are wires all over the place.  Add closed streets because of fire trucks and hoses, and you have a really difficult situation.  Making our way to the fire scene was line maneuvering through a maze.  Plus, the satellite truck finds its target easier when it's parked on a flat surface.  Flat was at a premium.  We found a small parking tray off Pierce street, and to the person whose space we stole, a belated thank you.

Thanks for reading this glimpse into a day in the life.  Check the smoke alarms, keep an eye on the kids, and be thankful for what you have.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mello Yello

It was one of those bizarre, stream of consciousness conversations you have in the newsroom in the middle of the night, when the rest of the world is asleep.

One thing led to another, and we wound up wondering if the Coca Cola Company will change the name of Mello Yello because of the disgraced, thieving former state senator from Lackawanna County.

Of course, we were just being silly.

A web search shows Mello Yello came out in 1979, to compete with Pepsi Co.'s Mountain Dew.  I would have guessed it was earlier, but as you know, if it's on the internet, it must be true.

I saw it available as a Wendy's choice earlier this week.  I forgot to look for it during a Friday morning big box store.  There is a sugar free version, and I'd like to try that.  Mello Yello came out just as I was leaving high school, and I remember liking it.  That was a long time ago.  While Diet Pepsi is my drink of choice, sometimes you want to do something different.  "Different" usually consists of diet root beer, and there are a few really good brands out there.

Mello Yello's web site has a search feature, where you can find stores near you that carry the product.  The number within a 60 mile radius of my home?  Zero.  I'll keep looking, and if you see it, especially the diet version, drop me a line.

By the way, Jessup borough council voted last week voted to remove the felon's name from a road.  Jessup follows Blakely, Keystone College, Lackawanna College and Marywood University in removing Mellow's name.

Get this-- the only one left is the Boy Scouts.  Its Scranton office is on Bob Mellow Drive in Moosic.  If anyone doesn't live up to the Boy Scout ideals, it's Bob Mellow.

Drink up.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bad Photography Sunday: The Campus


Those new movie theater complexes are great.  The seats are comfortable.  The view is perfect.  The sound blows you away.

However, you can't beat the charm of a small town movie theater.  This is the Campus Theater in downtown Lewisburg.  Bucknell owns it, so that means it will be around for a while.

Be thankful.  There aren't many places like this left.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bad Photography Saturday: Wow!

There are a handful of structures in our area that cause you to sit back, stare for a while, and simply say "wow."

One of them is off Railroad Street in Danville.  It's the tower at St. Cyril Academy.  I couldn't find a lot of information on line, but I do know it's 170 feet tall, and the people of Danville are lucky to have it in their community.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not Me




It's a question I get from time to time.

Friend and co-worker Dave Scarnato took this photo last weekend in Pittsburgh.

No, I do not have relatives, at least that I know of, in western Pennsylvania.

A man named Antonio Palumbo gave a lot of money to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.  A business school there bears his name as well.  There's also a Palumbo building at Gannon University in Erie.

A web search shows Mr. Palumbo made his money in mining.

Even though he isn't related, I think it's cool that the family name is rather well known out there.  Go, Dukes!  I can't even get my alma mater, Marywood, to answer my letters.

I'm also not related to the Palumbo family that owned a club in Philadelphia for decades.  Many comedians, including David Brenner, got their starts at the club.

It seems we have most of the state covered-- the Palumbo name in Pittsburgh, Erie, Philadelphia, and here in the northeast.

Thanks.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thursday Scrapple

Is "The Office Wrap Party" over yet?   The amount of time and ink dedicated to a third rate sitcom on a fifth rated network was mind boggling.

It's nice to see some perennial cellar dwellers, like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals, doing well in the young baseball season.

Bob Newhart guested on a recent episode of "The Big Bang Theory."  At 83, the man can still deliver a laugh.

Penn State is naming its Dunmore baseball field after Matt McGloin.  I'm sure he's a nice guy, and he's accomplished quite a bit, but it isn't it a little premature?

Crisis management people should study Wilkes-Barre.  It's one problem after another, and they drag on and on.  I don't know how you can function and effectively govern with all those distractions.

I know we need to learn everything about what they did and how they did it, but I can no longer look at the Brothers Tsarnaev.

Even after 139 years, the Kentucky Derby still looks like a lot of fun.

How's that liquor store privatization thing coming along?

Several Linked In contacts recently endorsed me for "skills and expertise."  Don't ask me why.  Thank you, nonetheless.

I still can't warm up to the porcupine.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Detour

A story in last week's Pocono Record made my blood boil.  While I wasn't directly affected by last weeks' events, I've been stung in the past.

Construction crews are fixing Interstate 80 in the Stroudsburg.  No problem there.  It's an old stretch of road.  It's used heavily.  It needs work.

When 80 goes down to one lane, drivers use Route 611 as an alternate, and that's where the problems lie.  Commercial activity on 611 has exploded in recent years.  Traffic craws on a normal day.  Add all that 80 traffic, and it turns in to a nightmare.

The problem is compounded by poorly timed and malfunctioning traffic lights, and a road that simply cannot meet the traffic demand.

The Pocono Record contacted State Police, local police and PennDOT to see who is interested in helping solve the problem.  All I read was a bunch of finger pointing and "hey, it's someone else's issue."  Police say they don't have the manpower to station an officer at every intersection.  Understandable.  PennDOT gives us the standard "we're monitoring the situation."  Translation:  We don't have a clue as to what to do about it.  Get used to sitting in traffic.

Monroe County is not alone.  There's currently an Interstate 81 patching project between Avoca and Scranton.  The interstate is frequently down to one lane.  There's a new round of patching because several shoddy previous attempts.  Drivers are using thoroughfares like Route 11, Davis Street, Pittston Avenue, Birney Avenue and Main Avenue as alternates.  Do you think anyone is there keeping an eye on traffic?  Not a chance.

I'm not sure government would allow it, but I wonder if some entrepreneur could start a company that goes in to trouble spots with trained traffic control personnel,  Construction crews hire "flag people."  We could also hire people to direct traffic when the need arises.

I know it won't be cheap, but it's still less expensive than having thousands of cars and trucks wasting gas by sitting in traffic.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Two Weeks

The primary election, also knows as the municipal election is two weeks from today, and you can tell that we're in the home stretch.  Yard signs are everywhere.  Television commercials are beginning to appear.  There are knocks on the front door and literature in the mailbox.

I admittedly have a Lackawanna County bias, because that's where I live.  This election is a big one around here.  There are ballot questions on changing the form of government and eliminating row offices.  As I have noted here before, I do not belong to any political party, but I can vote on referenda, and I intend to do just that.  I have never missed voting in an election where I've been eligible.

I'm fond of saying every election is important, and that still goes for a municipal primary.  You're voting for local offices-- the county officials, the council people, the mayors, and the school directors.  They are the people who really affect your life.

There are also candidates for the court of common pleas in some counties here in our area.  I had to chuckle.  I saw some television commercials where judicial candidates fake being in the courtroom.  They're okay with phony courtroom footage, but Pennsylvania remains in the dark ages when it comes to the real thing.

The polls open 7 AM May 21st.  I'll see you there.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Smart

I've been in broadcasting for a long time.  I minored in public relations and advertising in college.  I've always been interested in business, and I can be fascinated by little things.

Now that I've built the foundation, the person who designed Riccardo's market in Dunmore is a diabolical genius.

The Shur Save chain of supermarkets had a sale on Diet Pepsi last week, so I dropped by Wednesday afternoon to pick up a couple cases.  Riccardo's moved in to a new building a few years ago, and it's very nice.

To get into the major part of the supermarket, you first have to pass through a delicious bakery, deli, and ready made meal section.  It took every ounce of willpower to avoid loading up the cart.  Don't ask me how, but I managed to do it.  A Boston creme cake provided the biggest challenge.

I grabbed my soda and headed for the door, happy with myself, and silently applauding the work of a very savvy store designer.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bad Photography Sunday: New Use

There are few things that thrill me more than when an old building, filled with history, gains new life.

Bucknell University recently acquired the old Federal Building in downtown Lewisburg.  The U.S. Post office remains in the first floor, but the University now has offices on the floors above.

It's another reason why Lewisburg is one of our area's great small towns.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bad Photography Saturday: Old Bridge

Last week, I noted that I couldn't remember the last time I had been in Danville.  Ditto for Lewisburg.  These are shots of an old railroad bridge going over the Susquehanna River.
I'm glad the bridge is still around.  It adds a lot of character to the neighborhood.

Friday, May 3, 2013

JT

Jim Thorpe's widow was okay with his body being entombed in Pennsylvania.  His children are not, and a recent court ruling appeared to clear the way for Thorpe's body to be taken back to Indian territory in Oklahoma.

Jim Thorpe's council can still appeal.  As of this writing, we don't know if that will happen.  A decision will likely be made in the next week.

It's a tough call.  The people of Mauch Chunk welcomed Jim Thorpe when his own people would not.  On the other hand, Jim Thorpe should be home, in Oklahoma.
A woman in Peggy Lee's Wednesday night Newswatch 16 story got it right-- the town of Jim Thorpe is more than a body.  It's the scenery, the trains, the state park, the river...  Jim Thorpe will be okay if the body leaves.

By the way, today's photos are from my archives-- October 2009.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Yes!

After a lot of recent whining, today's blog entry is dedicated to some of the good things out there.

The first is a documentary that recently ran on the Discovery Channel.  You can still see it for another couple weeks if your cable system has the "On Demand" feature.  It's called "All the President's Men Revisited."  It's Robert Redford's look back at the movie and the Watergate scandal that consumed the Nixon presidency.

It's 90 minutes of great TV.  You hear from the people who were there at the time, and there are snippets of today's journalists and commentators looking back on the early 70's.  You'll like it if you're a movie fan, especially a fan of Redford and Dustin Hoffman.  If you're a history buff, like me, you'll be in heaven.

"All the President's Men Revisited" takes you back to a fascinating time and place in American history.  There are those who say Watergate shows the strength of the United States constitution and that the system of government we have actually works.  Pay close attention to the comments of political strategist James Carville, who alleges Watergate taught us nothing, and there will likely be an even bigger scandal sometime in our future.

I recently suffered a nasty sunburn.  It was my own fault.  I sat through a three and a half hour baseball game unprotected.

I tried everything to find some comfort, and the best thing I used was plain old Bactine.  I don't remember when and why I bought it, but I found a bottle in my bathroom.  It took away some of the heat and the sting.  It helped the nasty, old, burned skin dry up and flake off.  Heavy moisturizers, creams and ointments only caused the burned skin to stick.  They did nothing to aid healing, and there wasn't much pain relief.

You never see Bactine advertised, and that's too bad.  It's a good product.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

About the Cover

I grew up a few miles from these twin railroad bridges in Olyphant.  I must have passed them hundreds of times over the years, and I never appreciated their beauty until my friend Cara took a photo a few years ago.

Replicating Cara's picture was always on my list, and I took a shot a couple months ago.  Hers is still better.

The framing is not ineptitude on my part.  I just wanted a little more spring time blue sky in the picture.