Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Our area, especially Monroe and Pike Counties was in the grips of a manhunt for a 48 days back in September and October. Heavily armed search teams scoured the woods in and around Canadensis, looking for an accused cop killer.
I took this photo, near a creek, just off Route 447, on a warm late September morning.
I hate to make a manhunt photo the top one of 2014, but it is the story that consumed our area for months. We've never seen anything like it.
Thank you for reading the blog this year. Have a safe and happy celebration. I hope 2015 is a great year for you. God willing, we'll all be back here at this time next year.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I took this photo of the bridges between Pittston and West Pittston, back on a January mid winter afternoon.
January was a brutally cold month, but the air was crisp, clean, and icy. The sky was blue, and it made for a nice afternoon wandering about the shore.
I took this photo with a lot of winter left. However, the strength of the sunshine made me feel the worst was behind us.
Monday, December 29, 2014
The speed limit on a select section of Interstate 380 went up to 70 mph. A crew had just taken down the 65 sign, and it was leaning against the truck. The new 70 sign was being bolted to a post. WNEP photographer is on the right, recording it all.
Lower speeds save gas and lives, and I can't say I'm thrilled with the state's decision.
PennDOT says it will study what happens here, with the possibility of expanding 70 MPH on other stretches of interstate. 2015 should be an interesting year.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
I took this photo the next day.
In its later years, there was a Chinese restaurant here. Before that, it was the Dickson A/G market, a place where I purchased many a junior high lunch time submarine sandwich.
It wasn't just a building that collapsed. It was history that collapsed, some of it in the form of memories, a can of cold soda, and a plastic wrapped sandwich-- a short walk to and from a deteriorating junior high school with a joke of a cafeteria. It wasn't just lunch. It was an escape.
Whispers and rumors say the Chinese restaurant owners will re-build. Makes sense. It's a big lot on a high volume corner. As 2014 ends, it's just an empty lot.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
A Jan's Ride photo was in the number one slot last year, and I mean no disrespect by dropping it to five. Simply, last year's photo of an enormous flag over a road in Jessup was a better shot. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it this year.
The line of motorcycles was impressive, and I hope I did it justice.
Jan's father, Mike is a friend. We go to the same gym, and I know he's active in veterans affairs and causes.
Friends, and even strangers were there-- all wanting to help the cause. There are times we get down on humanity. Thankfully, there are things like this to remind us there are an awful lot of good people out there.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Around Veterans Day, Marywood University students have been planting flags in a field on campus-- one for every service man and woman killed in recent wars. You wouldn't think a field of little flags can be so emotional. It is.
This year's display was moved to a field along North Washington Avenue in Scranton, due to construction at Marywood's Memorial Commons. I hope you got a chance to see it. I also hope you make a little time to remember those who sacrificed.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
I'm not in the business of preaching religion. To each, his own. But, I thought this picture of St. Peter's Cathedral, on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton, on a recent snowy morning makes a nice Christmas card.
Have a great holiday, and it's back to the Top Ten tomorrow.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
It was a beautiful morning, and the picture really doesn't do it justice.
The only interruptions on the glass like water were caused by birds and bugs.
I really admire those artists who can recreate scenes like this, using water colors or oils.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
A picture might not be worth a thousand words, and I got at least a couple hundred out of the giant bird in the chestnut tree.
The winter of 13-14 was long, dark, snowy and cold... but I doubt this bird would have made a stop in camera range, in better weather. Yes, winter does have its plusses.
The sight deserves mention in this year's Top Ten.
Monday, December 22, 2014
What you see here is natural gas rocketing out of a vent at a UGI compressor station just off Main Street in Dickson City. UGI explained the system worked as designed. For some reason, pressure in the lines became high. A pressure relief valve popped, and natural gas shot in to the air for a good 90 minutes.
The pictures and video were only part of the story. The gas release sounded like a jet engine, and you could hear it for miles.
Any time you see something like this, the word "explosion" travels through your mind. The Emergency Management Agency said we had the good fortune of the valve popping on a windy morning. The gas dissipated, and no one was hurt.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
This massive column of ice was photographed on a January afternoon in Taylor. I remember the challenge to photograph it. The ground was covered with a thick layer of ice. It was difficult to keep my balance. I didn't want to fall and break my hip-- or the camera.
I'm guessing it took a long time for this one to thaw out. It was a long and cold winter. The winter of 13-14 will be remembered for its below zero cold snaps. It was the frostiest one in quite a while.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Toy soldiers are once again standing guard outside the Cait Center on Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton. I took this shot during a flurrie filled Thanksgiving morning.
Friday, December 19, 2014
They may not be the best examples of the finest photography, but they are images that will bring back memories. Some, happy. Others, not so much. Once again, it's an interesting year. We all leave 2014 a bit different than the way we entered.
The countdown begins Sunday. There will be a break for Christmas. Occasionally, a thought or two on the news of the day will be tossed in.
Thanks for being here the past ten years of blogging, and six years of countdowns. Have a great holiday season.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
The Newsroom was one of those series where I kept saying "I'll give it one more week." Eventually I was hooked. I always wanted to work with a guy like Will McAvoy. I always wanted to work for a guy like Charlie Skinner.
Some scenes are on You Tube. I strongly suggest scene one from episode one-- the one where Will goes off on a college kid who asks a question at a media seminar. Outstanding writing by Aaron Sorkin. Talky, preachy, and long winded were some of the complaints. I got that. On the other hand, the stuff was so well written, you overlooked the lecture.
When The Newsroom was good, it was great. When it wasn't, it was merely okay.
The finale wrapped up the story lines and character arcs nicely, albeit occasionally trite. There were several flashbacks, explaining how characters first interacted, meetings, etc. It worked.
Jane Fonda as a media mogul was outstanding casting. She played the role to perfection.
I've become a big Jeff Daniels fan.
Sam Waterston stole every scene in which he appeared.
Olivia Munn is a striking woman, but not a great actress. On the other hand, she took every line she was given, many humorous, and delivered.
I'm sorry HBO and Sorkin decided to end The Newsroom after only 25 episodes. It was one of the good ones.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
But then again, there are grey areas.
I spent part of my Monday chasing down a report of a violence threat in an area school district. I finally tracked down someone who should know, and had two conversations. It turns out something was said by a student. It might have been misinterpreted. Thanks to the internet, the rumors took off. Those rumors refuse to die down because far too many people have the "If I saw it on Facebook, it must be true" mentality.
I can understand the fear of a parent. It has to be tough to see your kid walk out the door in the morning, and head in to an often violent world.
On the other hand, if people took the time to stop and think before they hit the enter or send button, we'd be better off.
Tuesday, another threat of violence. This one was at the Career Technology Center in Scranton. Administration brought in police and a metal detector. It was also very open about what it was doing. Sharing information helps parents and students make informed decisions, and the candor was refreshing.
Unlike Monday's story, there was a change in behavior at CTC, so the story got on the air.
Believe me, there were some vivid newsroom debates both days.
I often wonder if we're adding to the problem by giving credence to the rumors. As I said, the key difference between Monday and Tuesday was a change in a school's behavior.
There are no easy answers. This isn't the first time we've been through situations like these, and unfortunately, it won't be the last.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
CBS says David Letterman's last show is May 20. Craig Ferguson ends his 12:35 AM run one week from today. Colbert starts in the fall and has the potential to be great. Still, I'll miss Dave and Craig-- a lot.
McDonald's stock is sliding. Its answer? Trim the menu, but add touch screens where people can order customized, high end burgers. McDonald's has to battle the image it sells fat and salt laden junk. Younger customers are going elsewhere.
The company that owns Sears and KMart says it will close more than 230 stores next year. Do you get the feeling the end is near?
We're getting reports the downtown Scranton cineplex is on the way out. Like McDonald's, image is everything. People don't feel safe around the theaters, and there's not much reason to visit the mall.
The Christmas decorations on Courthouse Square look great-- the downtown's lone bright spot. For those of who grew up around here, did you ever think you'd see the day downtown's best lights are provided by a government body rather than retailers? The rest of downtown looks dark and sad. I should note, Penn Security's windows, at North Washington and Spruce are spectacular.
Shehadi Appliance in Throop is closing-- one of the most famous WARM radio commercials of all time.
Christmas 2014 set the record for most catalogs mailed to the house.
I'm really not all that interested in the college football playoffs. Maybe I'll get in to it as the games draw near.
We're still months away from baseball. Winter meetings, and plenty of trades and free agent signings this week. I enjoyed thinking about a warm weather sport again.
Monday, December 15, 2014
To get you up to speed, I always get a Christmas card and letter from an old college friend.
Let me back up a moment. A lot of people hate Christmas newsletters. I love them. Even though many are mass produced, I like learning what my friends have been up to. It's a lot better than a plain old signature, or a pre stamped line at the bottom of a card.
My old college friend is one of the sweetest people God ever put on the planet. As I've noted here before, one of my great regrets in life is not getting to know her until our senior year. I'm thrilled to get the yearly note.
No one deserves happiness more, and it really looks like she's been blessed: great husband, great family, great kids, great job, great vacations, great adventures... My problem comes with the response. I'm happy and lucky to have when I do, but there's not much pizzazz. Writing a response is always a challenge.
Here's the first draft.
As always, thank you for the card and letter. It thrills me to learn everyone is doing so well, and it appears you had another great year. No one deserves it more.
Things are okay at my end. I'm still at WNEP. I still ride my bike and go to the gym. I still have good health. I still love going out and playing with my camera. I still enjoy what I do, and I still don't like the song "Still" by Lionel Richie.
Thankfully, my pen and baseball cap collecting has slowed. I still have way too many of both.
It's been a busy news year. Unfortunately, most of the stories have been sad ones. It kept us moving. We're all very tired, but any time you start to get a little down, you remember the people involved in the story who going through an even tougher time.
I didn't buy many ties this year, but I did get a new laptop, light jacket and a heavy coat from the station. I found some shoes I really like.
My last sick day was in December of 2012.
My blog hit its tenth anniversary.
I made some new friends and lost some old friends. A few passed away. Others did things to make me realize I was wasting my time.
My teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Athletics, broke my heart. But, hey, it's only a game.
My face appears in a film called "Kids for Ca$h." I still haven't seen it.
I've been stretched in a thousand different ways, but I've always found a moment or two to count my blessings. One of them is my continued friendship with you.
Stay well. Thanks again for the letter.
Your friend in Pennsylvania,
Sunday, December 14, 2014
I was in favor of the concept. Construction fuels the economy. The new building would attract more students to the U, and that means dollars for local businesses. This building replaces an old and rather unremarkable one. There was a bit of history, the old YWCA. Unfortunately, it was a brick box and few people noticed it.
Second thoughts erupted as the building started going up. At eight stories, it overwhelms the neighborhood. Looking at it recently, I must be getting used to it. It doesn't seem as imposing. I think a factor was a choice for tan stone for some of the outside. It blends in with what's already here.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
This is the old Globe store on Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton. It was a department store that seemed to have just about everything-- clothes, shoes, furniture, appliances, candy, stationery, books, records, a restaurant, and a lot of other stuff I'm sure I'm missing.
I cannot pass by, any time of year, without thinking of Christmas. The Globe always had the best decorations outside, the best window displays, and the best Santa inside. Toyland was really something special.
The Globe closed in 1994. Suddenly. Sadly. Employees were thrown out, and told to return in a few days for the start of the going out of business sale. Thanks for your service!
Even a bridge to the new Mall at Steamtown couldn't save it. By the end, the Globe was just a tired, old store that needed help, and no one had the money to give it. Department stores started becoming less popular, and the decline is still in effect today.
An information technology called the building home for a long time. It, too, is gone. The Globe is empty. The building is for sale. Unfortunately, I don't see a bright future. The retail days are done. Possibilities? Apartments/condos. Downtown living seems popular these days. Government. Lackawanna County has offices scattered all over the place. A central location, a big courthouse annex wouldn't be a bad idea, but the cost could kill it.
I took this picture on a recent morning, but I'm frequently in the area before the sun rises. It's a dark and dismal block. It's too bad the cash strapped, idea void city can't put something here, like a big tree or some holiday lights to brighten up the area, and help people feel good about Scranton. It might be time for the downtown business community to step up and make the former downtown hub attractive again.
Friday, December 12, 2014
I was a freshman at Marywood. I'm not sure about the current policy, but way back then, freshmen weren't allowed on the college radio station, WVMW. In my day, it was a little ten watt station at 91.5 FM. It's now considerably more powerful and has moved up the dial a wee bit, to 91.7.
During my time, the radio station was on the air for 12 hours a day, 1 PM to 1 AM. However, a few times a year the station did what it called "Rock Weekends." 24/7. Friday afternoon to Monday morning.
For whatever reason there weren't enough student dj's to go around in December of 1979. I'm not sure if it was because of finals, or winter break. WVMW needed bodies and voices. I appealed to the station's student manager for a shot, and I got one, reluctantly. Sunday morning. 2:30 AM to 4:00 AM. Mary Jo, was there to keep an eye on me. I don't remember if she was a sophomore or junior, but it was nice to have someone experienced to guide me through.
By the way, I should point out that 35 years later, I'm still working weekend mornings. No complaints. This is the life we have chosen.
What do I remember about that morning? First song: "The Stranger" by Billy Joel. I also remember being terrified and simply awful. Beyond hideous. But, that's why college radio stations are there-- to learn the craft and make mistakes. The fact that Marywood had a real radio station was one of the things that attracted me to the place. Affordable tuition (at the time) was also a major factor. That's another story for another blog entry.
The 90 minutes on the air flew by, and I started getting regular WVMW time after that. Even though I had to weasel my way in to that first shift, I was thrilled that I was the first member of my class to get on the air. While I'm thrilled to be doing what I'm doing now, I always enjoyed radio. Even though I haven't been behind a radio microphone in eons, I still love it.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
However, I didn't think that would be Time's selection. If I had to bet, I would have said the Ferguson rioters. A case could also be made for Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Please note that Time's criteria is, loosely defined, someone who has inflicted change. Hitler, Stalin, and Khrushchev were past winners. Putin got the title in 2007, and the case could be made for a second shot.
When it comes down to it, "Person of the Year" will be forgotten about tomorrow, but the work of the Ebola fighters cannot be diminished, underestimated, or anything like that. These people slogged through filth to save strangers, and maybe even save countries, continents, the planet...
Some Time choices, over the years, have been questionable. The editors got it right this time.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
First, I don't like driving in snow and ice. Second, the story presented a number of news related challenges.
Strangely, I enjoy my drive in to work, and I often take the long way, using the opportunity to gather some thoughts and enjoy some quiet time. I left for work early Tuesday morning. On the way, some mist started hitting my windshield. A couple of turns put me on the short route to the office. Quiet time wasn't worth sliding in to a tree.
When I got to the office, producer Thomas and I discussed our options. We checked the forecast maps and looked at the radar. This looked to be a high elevation event, at least at the beginning. We settled on Mount Pocono as the place to be. A shopping center parking lot off Route 940 is one of my preferred locations. You can safely be off the road, but still be close enough to see what's going on. There's enough activity to make for a decent background.
Then, there's the story telling. It's hard to see cold, changing temperatures, and ice. I grabbed a big thermometer from the newsroom wall and taped it to a tree when I got to Mount Pocono. That would help tell the temperature story.
Strangely enough, I carry a regulation size and weight, but orange, hockey puck in my bag. In ice storms of years past, I slid a soda bottle across the ice to demonstrate the effect of freezing rain. The last time I did that was an ice storm in the Bear Creek area back in February of 2013. I vowed that day to try something different. An online search turned up the orange hockey pucks. I placed the order, and this was the first time I had the chance to slide one across a glazed parking lot.
The snow and ice eventually turned to rain. It warmed slightly, and road conditions approved. We moved to Mount Cobb for our noon broadcast, put together a quick video tour of conditions, including the whopping one inch of accumulated slush, and we were good to go. It was a relief to hand off the story to others. I was cold and wet. It felt good to go home and change in to some dry stuff.
The ride home was uneventful. It was foggy and the road was wet. No problems, other than the drivers who still refuse to obey state regulations and turn on their headlights when it rains.
The snow isn't over, but at least it falls on my off day, when I can watch and not get behind the wheel.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
East Stroudsburg University is eliminating its music program. It's not a money maker.
You can probably guess that I'm okay with one of these, and not the other.
There was great uproar over the UAB football decision. Students, current and past, are upset. I can understand some of that anger. Football and university life often go hand in hand. Unfortunately, all too often, we've seen problems from a "football first" mentality. It's not just a Penn State thing. Countless other programs have run afoul of the NCAA for a variety of infractions. Some players, including last year's Heisman Trophy winner, have been in the news for their antics more than their abilities.
I can understand East Stroudsburg's "if it don't pay, it don't stay" mentality, but it is difficult to support. I've always been a "meat and potatoes" education type of guy. Serve me the basics, and do them well. However, even someone like me appreciates the value of the arts. It might not be my thing, but I know it's important.
Look, there are lots of colleges and universities besides ESU and UAB. It shouldn't be hard for interested students and "student athletes" to find what they want. I just can't escape the feeling that ESU is the one really dropping the ball here.
Monday, December 8, 2014
The trip traditionally begins with a stop by the sleepiest student center and book store on the planet, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
My next stop is usually the library and the radio station in its basement, WVMW.
In the past, I've railed about the excessive use of voice tracking and automation here. WVMW should be training broadcasters, not computer programmers. Open up the mic. Live. Learn your craft.
What to my wondering eyes should appear, at 3 PM on a Wednesday? A live body behind the mic! Matt and I had a short chat about the business. He seemed like a nice kid, interested in both radio and music. He'll go far.
Many know Marywood is building a new library, and the old one, the one housing the radio station, will be torn down. The radio station moves to the basement of the new building. Yes, back in the basement. Bottom line: this might have been my last visit to the radio station in its current location.
The floor plan for the new building is on the internet. It looks like they'll have as much space, if not a little more, in the new building. However, Marywood is missing a golden opportunity to show off an asset other colleges and universities would kill for-- a 2,000 watt radio station with a good reputation and a loyal following. Why hide it in the basement? The radio station can be a focal point, a show piece, the heart of a vibrant and active university community.
It pains me that WVMW was MIA during the recent flag protest controversy. Radio has unmatched immediacy.
Remember that VWM stands for Voice of MaryWood. Maybe it's hard to see and be heard from the basement.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
The Tuesday of Thanksgiving week was affected by the frenzy, as people tried to get out of town or hit the supermarket early.
Anyway, by the time Thanksgiving morning rolled around, about a foot was on the ground, and it was still snow showering.
President William McKinley, who watches North Washington Avenue in Scranton from the front of the federal building, doesn't seem happy.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Labor leader John Mitchell has been standing watch over Adams Avenue for decades. On this morning, he seemed to be using his right hand to gauge how much show had fallen.
Friday, December 5, 2014
I attended Marywood University's Christmas tree lighting Wednesday afternoon. They started putting a giant tree in the rotunda of the Liberal Arts Building back when I was a senior. I didn't see it.
I don't know what triggered it, but I started going back for the tree lighting several years ago. First of all, it's a shot of the much needed and often elusive Christmas spirit.
It was a nice hour-- a little music, and a lot of tree. Plus, I saw some old friends, and that's always a treat.
I also wandered through my old radio station, and there will be more on that next week.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
|courtesy: The Wood Word|
A small group of students protested the Ferguson decision Tuesday. They were upset a grand jury in Missouri did not recommend charges against the white police officer who shot and killed a young black man.
Part of the Marywood protest involved the hanging of the flag you see above, inside Marywood's signature building, the Liberal Arts Center.
I admire that the students feel passionately about something, and chose to act.
Unfortunately, they went about it the wrong way, it it will ultimately wind up doing more harm than good.
First, students have to learn it's a court of law, not a court of justice.
Second, "Ethics" is course option in Marywood's philosophy department. Perhaps it should be mandatory.
The "free speech" argument holds no water here. Marywood sets the rules. There's a student handbook. Plus, Marywood is private property. Sr. Munley has more power than all the Founding Fathers combined.
Marywood says the students involved will not be punished. I see both sides. I'm sure the school looked at intent, and the students might not have realized the full impact of their act. I don't think they should expelled, either, but there should be some consequences for an over the top demonstration.
I was on campus yesterday for the annual Christmas tree lighting. Pictures coming. Things didn't see the same. I sensed shock and embarrassment. The people here seemed wounded in some way.
We can use this is a teaching moment, for the reasons listed above. A little more learning and some change aren't bad things.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
By the late 1980's, I was becoming a bit restless and started looking for new opportunities. I don't remember how it came about, but I landed an audition for a reporter's job at the old TV 22. I'm guessing the year was 87 or 88. It might have been as late as 89, and it was right around this time of year. The reason I remember is because my audition story was my all time favorite of deer season.
I was sent out with reporter Joan Murray, and the chief photographer, Jim Keenan. Joan is now working for the CBS station in Miami. She was great, helping me with the construction and writing of the piece.
Jimmy was also fantastic. He took as much care with the shooting and editing as he would have if the story was being done by one of the station's real employees. It came out a lot better than my talents at the time reflected. Jimmy, also known as "The Chief," retired several years ago.
My audition story was ok. Just ok. Not great. No one's fault but my own. My performance was rather stiff and wooden. Deer season was not in my comfort zone. I've since learned a great deal about the activity-- television and deer. One of the producers liked it, and wanted to air it. However, my radio bosses at the time wouldn't have been thrilled with that. The tape was likely trashed shortly after the news director at the time viewed it. I didn't get the job.
One of my team of physicians and specialists wanted some routine blood work. No cause for alarm. I'm fine. I walked into a lab in Dunmore yesterday morning, and who was sitting in the waiting room? The great Jimmy Keenan. It was one instance where I didn't mind the lab was running slow and there were several people ahead of me. It gave Jimmy and I time to catch up. I've always said, the photographers were the ones who really showed me how to do TV, and I owe so many of them so much. Jimmy never failed to go above and beyond the call for me-- when I auditioned, and when I later hooked on at the station, part time in March 1990 and full time in September of 1991.
My Monday story for Newswatch 16 was deer season. Jimmy saw it and jokingly said yesterday "25 years later, and you're still doing deer stories!" He remembered chapter and verse of audition day, even though it was eons ago.
Yes, I'm still doing deer stories. The Monday WNEP story was well done, even if I do say so myself. Photographer Corey did a great job with it.
However, few stories mean more to me than the one on deer season, a long,long time ago, that never aired.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Deer season is not one of my favorite stories, but that was my Monday assignment. I'm a professional, and I set out to do the best job I could do. The effort was solid.
We talked with some hunters at the start of their day, and one man who was lucky enough to shoot a button buck. The successful hunter was in the Thornhurst area, near the top of Suscon Road. The others were in the Francis E. Walter Dam area, not far from Bear Creek.
I know and understand there is a need to thin the herd and control the population. I get that. I don't like looking at dead animals, and I hope you get that.
I tried to accentuate the positive. I spent a good part of my morning in one of our area's coolest locations. This is the view from the top of the dam. Spectacular. Check it out if you get the chance.
Monday, December 1, 2014
December presents the biggest blog header challenge of them all. I'd like to do something holiday related, but the big displays don't appear until after December 1. I have no problem with that. In my book, Christmas decorations go up way too early.
In case you haven't figured it out, it's the Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton. Loyal blog readers know Courthouse Square is not my favorite place. While it did need a sprucing up, the current incarnation has too much concrete, too much granite, and too many monuments. Many are inappropriate for the site.
A site survey was recently completed. We'll see if there's the time, money and fortitude to make some meaningful changes here.