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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Andy's Angles: Going, Going...

Well, that was fast.

Radio Shack went bankrupt a few weeks ago, and closed a bunch of stores, including this one in Taylor.  I snapped this camera phone picture at 3 AM yesterday, as I was stopping by the adjacent WalMart for cold medication.

Radio Shacks were always neat places to explore, but it became a niche retailer, and the niches now belong to the internet.

Some Shacks are still around, but I can't say I have much hope.  The success rate for troubled businesses like this isn't spectacular.

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Turn

It was only a matter of time.  I have the cold that's going around.

You take all the precautions-- staying away from sick people, cleaning computer keyboards and office telephones, taking vitamins...  And, it still happens.

Germs are in the air, and there's no way to avoid them, unless you stop breathing.

Symptoms started appearing late Sunday.  By Tuesday night, I was in the full blown cold mode.

Over-the-counter cold remedies are a multi billion dollar business in this country, and you know what?  Nothing works.  I've had the best luck with allergy relief pills, and the cheap store brand is as good as the very expensive name brand.

There's nothing you can do, except wait it out.  I think the worst has passed.  Getting rid of the last 20 per cent is always an annoyance.  Colds seem to linger and linger.

Famous last words:  at least it's not the flu.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

KO

I have a love/hate relationship with Keith Olbermann.  I hated the guy when he was with MSNBC and Current.  Too mean.  Too snarky.  Too biased.  Yes, I know his job was to be biased.

I reacted with glee when MSNBC fired him and the Current job fell apart.

I read all the negatives, that Olbermann is full of himself, he's difficult to get along with, and treats underlings with a lack of dignity.

Things began to turn around for me in July of 2013.  Keith Olbermann returned to the ESPN family with a sports show that played to all his strengths.  Commentary.  Interviews.  Highlights.  It's a fun show to watch, and it appeared Olbermann is actually having fun doing it.  It was a complete 180 from Mean Keith we saw on MSNBC and Current.  The show aired in late night.  It's now on in the late afternoon.  I catch the early morning replays at the gym, and it's must see TV.  Olbermann is at the top of his game when something big is going on, like the NFL's botched response to domestic violence situations and Ballghazi.  The bigger the story, the sharper the commentary.  I am in awe of his writing ability and the way Olbermann can dissect a story, using the subject's own words to make his case.

That brings us to today.  ESPN suspended Olbermann for the rest of the week after he got in to a Twitter war with some Penn Staters.

Let's move on to that for a moment.  There is significant evidence to indicate the former powers that be had the ability to put the screws to Jerry Sandusky a long time ago, but they were more concerned about football and image.  They could have prevented the abuse of children, some on Penn State's campus, and did nothing.  In fact, there's evidence to indicate a cover up.

The Sandusky affair is an indelible stain on Penn State.  A big one.  No amount of scrubbing can remove it.  It will be there forever and ever.  It is part of the school's legacy.  It is part of the football program's legacy.

I can understand Keith Olbermann's anger about Penn State and the people who ran it.  That includes the NCAA, who recently backed away from a long list of Penn State sanctions and penalties.  I'm angry myself.  Edmund Burke said it perfectly:  "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."  There can be some debate about what constitutes "good men."

However, engaging in a Twitter was with students who just raised $ 13 million to fight cancer in children is wrong.  Misplaced anger.  Stupidity.  ESPN saw that.  Olbermann eventually saw that.  Too late.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Fault Lies...

At a governors' conference, a reporter asked Gov. Tom Wolf what he sees as Pennsylvania's biggest problem.  Wolf's response was low self esteem.

Let's look at that for a moment.

There's some merit to the statement.  Pennsylvania is a rust belt state, and conventional wisdom is its best days are long gone.

There's corruption all over the place.  We saw it in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties.  We saw it on the state level.  A state treasurer killed himself in front of the cameras rather than go to jail.  An attorney general went to jail.  The current attorney general is under investigation, and the state needs a new treasurer because the old one admitted to attempted extortion.  The "Kids for Ca$h" documentary made the entire country knew about a shameful episode in local history.

Penn State, Sandusky, etc...  a former newspaper reporter called PSU "The Kremlin" on CBS's "Face the Nation" because it's a closed society and won't release information.

Scranton is near bankruptcy.  Harrisburg flirted with insolvency.

We have a huge and highly paid legislature.  Yet, very little gets done.

Our voice in the Electoral College is weakening due to population shifts.  We have less influence on national politics.

On the other hand, it's a beautiful state with some quality higher education.

Somehow, the balance is out of whack, and I can totally understand where the governor is coming from.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

MallWatch

I find it odd how the Mall of America in Minnesota will allow cameras and reporters inside to talk about the touchy and frightening topic of terrorism, while the Mall at Steamtown in Scranton bars cameras from coming in and taking pictures of its closing stores.

Speaking of Scranton, there's been an internet move to turn the mall into a Philadelphia style Reading Terminal Market.  Boy, that would be nice.  Never been there, but I've looked at the web site and read the reviews.  Baltimore has something similar called Lexington Market.   Been there many times.  Wonderful place.  Fun atmosphere.  Great food and shops.

Let's take a closer look.

The Mall at Steamtown would require massive renovations-- especially to the dank underground parking garage.  NewsFlash:  people don't like using those.

Reading Terminal Market isn't cheap.  It might be too rich for the blood of locals.  Ever seen the crowds at discounters and dollar stores around here?  This area clearly has an economic and unemployment problem.

A Scranton Market would attract tourists, but there has something more to keep them here for a while.  You need something more than a roast pork sandwich and a milk shake.  Steamtown?  Coal Mine Tour?  The Pothole?  Options are severely limited.

Okay, we can scale it down a bit...  but, that turns it in to a flea market and we already have enough of those.

Sorry to be a downer, but I look at it as being more of a realist.  The mall's glory days of the early 90's are over.  It might be time to take a serious look at turning it into an open air shopping center and mixed use-- like offices and apartments.

At least, we're thinking about solutions.

One other note for the day.  Comcast is moving out of the Mall at Steamtown in favor of a new customer service center in Dickson City.  It's strange.  Any time I'm at the mall, the Comcast office seems fairly busy.  While a full blown storefront might be a bit much, the company should at least keep a bill paying kiosk in the mall.  Comcast owes the city that much.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Unfinished Monday

I watched  "The Odd Couple" remake the other night.  Meh.  I didn't love it, but it wasn't hideous, either.  I'll likely give it another shot or two.  For those of us who grew up on Matthau and Lemmon, and then Klugman and Randall, it's tough to accept other actors in the roles.  But then again, the intended audience likely saw the movie and the first series.  Few people remember ABC's "The New Odd Couple" with Ron Glass and Demond Wilson.  Canceled after 18 episodes in 1982 and 1983.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton won't seek a fourth term this year.  I wonder if he was hearing footsteps.  While violence seems to be down a bit, I sense a lot of voters were ready to hold Leighton responsible for a bloody 2013.

Lackawanna County is taking applications for a new county commissioner.  The usual suspects.  I'm sure they all have something to offer, but a little freshness wouldn't hurt, either.

Pothole season appears to have arrived early.  I'm taking careful notice.  A lot of the problem areas are places that were poorly patched last year.

An idea to turn the foundering Mall at Steamtown into a Scranton version of Reading Market is apparently popular on Facebook.  It's easy to hit the "like" button.  Show me the money.  It's not so easy now, is it?

Last week, I complained about the mediocre, at best, Late Late Show fill ins.  Will Arnett had the chair Friday night and did a really good job.  Having Jimmy Kimmel as a guest eased the burden.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Andy's Angles: The Courthouse

I really wish I had the time for an in-depth photo essay of the Luzerne County Courthouse.

I was shocked by what I saw this week-- a generally shabby building with water damage on the upper floors and the rotunda.

Now, this is a very old building, and old buildings need a lot of tender lovin' care.  Steps have been taken to reduce the water infiltration, but the damage has been done.  There's a net inside the dome to catch falling plaster.  some murals are badly scarred.

It will cost a fortune to fix, but is there any other choice?  The building is a gem.  Irreplaceable.  The county has to get a handle on these problems right now, before it becomes even more costly to fix.

Water issues aside, I saw a tired old building that wasn't as clean as it once was.  This place used to sparkle, with polished railings and shiny floors.  I don't know what happened and who is responsible.  It just makes me sad.

I checked with one of the courthouse veterans, a man who's in the building every day.  His feelings were the same as mine.  Neglect.  It has to be fixed, and in a hurry.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hugo Wrap

We haven't seen the last of Hugo Selenski.  We just won't be seeing him as often.

Selenski was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder last week.  Wednesday night, the jury decided life in prison is the appropriate penalty.

I applaud the jury for having the courage to serve.  It's not easy, especially in cases of life and death.

Always remember, it's a court of law-- not a court of justice and a trial is not a search for the truth.  It's a judgement of evidence.

My association with the latest Selenski trial was limited.  I popped in a couple of times to make sure our noon broadcast was covered.

I'll have to tell you, watching reporters with smart phones and lap tops "IN" the courtroom was an eye opener.  I've been in paid, professional journalism since 1981, and I'm still getting used to electronic devices in the courtroom.  The days of rushing to a courthouse pay phone after a verdict are over.

On one hand, it was nice getting new and fresh information in an instant.  However, I wonder if occupying reporters with banging out 140 characters at a time gets in the way of providing context and depth.

It's new territory.  Time will tell.

Visiting the Luzerne County Courthouse was also an eye opener, and I'll have more on that tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday Scrapple

I'm trying to avoid becoming part of the "I'm sick of winter" chorus.  It isn't easy.

Absolutely tickled that a beagle won best in show at the Westminster Dog Show.  She's a little cutie.

I have very little interest in the Odd Couple remake.  It's likely I'll check it out eventually.

Spring training is underway.  Baseball isn't what it used to be, but it's still nice to see players running around in the Florida and Arizona sunshine.

Jimmy Fallon just passed his first anniversary as Tonight Show host.  The man has talent, but I never thought he was Tonight caliber.  My opinion hasn't changed.

Some of the hosts who have been filling the void after Craig Ferguson and before James Corden have been simply awful.  Wayne Brady, Drew Carey and Judd Apatow were very, very good.

I didn't watch a second of the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary show, and I don't feel like I missed anything.  I strayed as soon as the original cast left, and I never went back.

For every prediction of a plunge in oil prices, I see a forecast of a spike on the way.

Even though the experts say it's a bad idea, I've jettisoned some little used credit cards.

It's amazing to watch former treasurer Rob McCord throw away a career.




Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mike

It takes a special breed to broadcast high school sports.  You want to give listeners and viewers an honest appraisal of what's happening on the field or on the court.  You must never lose sight that they are kids.  Don't be mean.  Don't take cheap shots.  Support and lift up.  Don't berate and beat down.

I was sideline reporter for a few years of TV high school football games in the early and mid 90's.  It was great fun, and I was so lucky to have the opportunity,  but it wasn't as easy as it looked.

Mike Remish did high school and college sports on the radio for decades.  He was also a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons announcer for several seasons.  Mike was one of the good ones.

Mike Remish died the other day.  68.  Far too young, with so much left to offer.

I'm not going to say I knew Mike well, but I did meet him on several occasions.  Always a gentleman, always a professional, always a handshake and a smile.

The passion separated Mike from the rest.  He really loved what he did.  A lot of kids were lucky to have Mike call their games and announce their achievements.  I'm sure there are plenty of families with cassettes of Mike's work.  Save them.  Treasure them.

My sympathy to Mike's family, friends, and fans.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cold Weather Journal

Just a few thoughts on the current blast of winter...

I got up early Saturday night so I could take my time going to work.  The snow was falling.  Streets and roads were slippery.  After traveling a couple of miles, I realized it wasn't as bad as I had feared.  To avoid getting to work too early, I stopped at a fast food restaurant for a burger and fries.

I'll give you a hint.  it wasn't at the golden arches, and it wasn't the place where the little red haired girl works.  I had the chain's signature sandwich and fries.  I hadn't been there in months.  The sandwich wasn't as good as I remembered and the fries lacked any real potato flavor.  the stuff was hot and fresh, but still disappointing.

I slid once on the way to work.  Otherwise, it was an uneventful trip.  when storms hit, I avoid the interstates.  There have been too many close calls with speeding trucks over the years.  the leisurely pace of going through city and borough streets is more to my liking.

Yesterday's blog entry was about Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning, so I'll jump ahead to the ride home.  The wind was horrendous, and it was blowing snow all over the road.  I did take the interstate.  The main lanes were great.  The exit ramp was simply awful.

I have a habit of laying out my Monday work clothes on Sunday afternoon, but I didn't do it this week.  I think it was denial.  If I didn't gather my extreme cold weather gear, the cold really didn't exist.  Nice try.  Fortunately, my extreme weather clothing is always close at hand, and it didn't take long to assemble the needed garments before I showered and headed to the office.

When I got to work Monday, I discovered my first assignment would to wrap up weekend electricity issues.  Frankly, I'm surprised it wasn't worse.  High winds, snow, ice...  Thousands lost power for a while Sunday, but most were back on line Monday.

As soon as my morning broadcast duties ended, I grabbed photographer Jason and set off in people out in the sub zero cold.  It wasn't hard-- utility company workers, people n Scranton's Nay Aug Park, Marywood students scurrying to class.  The story came together quickly and nicely.  I was only outside for an hour, but that was more than enough.  There are never enough layers when it's below zero and windy.

My day ended at noon, and it would soon be time to do it all over again.

At least, we're one day closer to spring.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Lonely Backyard

It was a case of "practice what you preach."

We're always telling people to limit exposure and stay out of the cold.  It would have looked strange doing that in a snow covered, wind whipped backyard, so management made the decision to do the weather indoors Sunday morning.

The choice was easy.  It was dangerous to be outside in wind chills of 20 below zero.
We're already set up to go live inside in case of emergencies, like tornado warnings.  We even set up an extra camera yesterday so Noreen could make use of our big screen monitor.

My only adjustment was keeping myself from tossing to "Noreen in the backyard."  It slipped a few times.

I can remember doing the weather inside in severe thunderstorms, but in my 16 and a half years on the weekend morning "dawn patrol." I think this is the first time wind chills kept us inside.

I hope it's another 16 and a half years before awful weather forces us to do it again.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Andy's Angles: Cold Morning

Even a bone chillingly cold morning can have its charm-- as long as you don't have to stand outside for long.

Like yesterday's photo just upstream, it was two degrees when I took this.  It's The Water Street Bridge, over the Susquehanna River between Pittston and West Pittston.  You're looking toward the west.

Blue sky.  Bright, white snow, chunks of ice floating downstream.  Winter has its beauty, but I'm ready for a warm up.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Andy's Angles: Icy River

I love playing with my camera long the Susquehanna River in Pittston.

Even though it was two degrees yesterday morning, I still had the itch to go out and take a few shots.

I expected a little more ice.  I'm guessing the influx of some mine water, plus the current prevented an icy crust from forming.

The shot was taken just north of the Fort Jenkins Bridge, looking upstream, toward the railroad bridge.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Unfinished Friday

I hate to hear people complain about Valentine's Day.  Be thankful there's someone special in your life.  A box of candy, a card or flowers is a small price to pay.

CBS News correspondent Bob Simon was killed in a Wednesday night New York City car crash.  An elegant man in a horrible business.   I've watched his work for years, and in viewing the retrospectives yesterday, it was clear that Simon never made himself bigger than the story.  A lot of people should learn from that, including those who find themselves with six months of free time.

After reading and watching the Hugo Selenski trial reports for the past two weeks, it's clear the jury came to an appropriate decision.  It was a fascinating trial.  The penalty phase should also be interesting.

Philadelphia gets the 2016 Democratic Convention-- a good choice.  Philadelphia is one of America's great cities, even though corruption always threatens to bring it down.

Tiger Woods is stepping back from the PGA tour.  He fell so far, so fast.

Jon Stewart is leaving Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" later this year.  I was an occasional viewer, at best...  and only for a few minutes at a time.  I couldn't take the constant yelling.  For me, Stewart didn't wear well.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Half Empty?

I had a few minutes to kill yesterday morning, and I remembered a recent Tweet from one of my co-workers.  During a recent story on Goodwill stores selling items on line, he snapped a photo of a WNEP 50th anniversary cap, plus a cap with an old California Angels logo.

I have way too many baseball caps, and I'm still drawn to odd and unusual ones.  The Angels cap had a lower case "a" with a halo above it, a rare find.

While I was waiting for my tax guy to arrive at his office several blocks away, I stopped at the Scranton Keyser Oak Center Goodwill store to see if the cap was still around.  It wasn't.  I should have jumped right after I saw the Tweet a couple of weeks ago.

That's not what today's blog is about.

I noticed the Goodwill store was filled with merchandise.  It made me happy.  It showed people are donating, and that's always a good thing.

I also noticed the store was packed with shoppers, and this was 10:30 AM on a Wednesday morning.

What does this tell us?

Let's start with the positive.  People are buying at Goodwill stores, meaning the organization has more money to provide services to its clients.

And, now the troubling.  Were so many people shopping here because they can't afford to go elsewhere?

As I've said in this space before, forget what the experts and the chamber of commerce types tell you.  The economy is still struggling, and there are a lot of people having trouble making ends meet.  Spend a day with a news reporter to get a feel for what it's really like out there.

As I have also said in this space, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.  I'm sure some of the Goodwill customers were there to simply look for a bargain.  For others, second-hand was the best they could do.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Foot in Mouth

I'm pretty good about shooting off my mouth when it concerns people in other industries.  It's only fair that we examine a problem with one of our own.

By now, you know Brian Williams of NBC is in hot water for exaggerating his involvement in a military operation in Iraq more than a decade ago.  Williams has taken himself off the air while NBC conducts an internal investigation and the heat dies down.

A little perspective...

Several years ago, and I don't recall the ABC and CBS anchors at the time, there was an anchor face time study done.  Brian Williams was on camera the most.  He had more video-less stories, often referred to as "readers."  His introductions to reporter pieces were the longest of the Big 3.  Red flag 1:  I smell a pomposity issue.

Red Flag 2:  The guy likes to talk about himself.  Brian Williams frequently appears on non-news entertainment shows.

Okay, it's clear he lied, or as Brian Williams put it, "mis-remembered."

Would I fire him?  Tough call.  I'm sure NBC is looking at a lot of research this week.  The network put itself in a pickle with no heir apparent.  I almost understand that.  Brian Williams is 55.  He has several good years ahead.   NBC didn't think it had to face successor issues any time soon.

I'd like to say the "body of work" argument is in Williams' favor, unless more lies come out.  He's been a rock for years, and you'd hate to throw that away.  But then again, Dan Rather over at CBS made an error so huge, and an apology so weak, that he had to go.  Brian Williams is in that ballpark.

I talked about this with a former news director, one of the smartest people I've ever worked for.  He thinks Williams will survive, but NBC needs to ban its people from crossing the line and appearing on entertainment shows.  Remember, Williams got in trouble not on NBC Nightly News, but in non news venues, like David Letterman.  The lies eventually infiltrated NBC's signature broadcast.

I'd also like to say that TV news people are human.  Mistakes are made.  We are a forgiving society.  On the other hand, this was not a one time shot.  Brian Williams "mis-remembered" over and over again, during a period of several years.

But then again, if this was a low or mid level reporter or producer, they would likely be out the door-- quick, fast, and in a hurry,

NBC Nightly is a big cash cow for the network.  This is a really tough call.  Brian Williams is permanently damaged.  I think he'll survive because the Iraq chopper story didn't involve his actual reporting or anchoring.  I'd probably keep him in the anchor chair, but I'm still not totally comfortable with the decision.

Late yesterday, NBC suspended Brian Williams, without pay, for six months.  He's lucky he wasn't fired.  There are some whispers that NBC can still pull that trigger if more "mis-remembering" pops up.  It's a strong move by the network.  I'm sure it will take a ratings hit, which means a financial hit.  When it comes right down to it, NBC really had no choice.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Business Tuesday

It's interesting to watch once great corporations lose their way and struggle to be relevant again.

McDonald's is changing management, and reducing the size of its menu.  It makes sense.  The restaurant chain tried to be too many things to too many people.  It appears to be concentrating on burgers and fries.  On one hand, that makes sense.  On the other, McDonald's has to overcome years of people saying its food will kill you.

Staples is buying Office Depot, which also owns Office Max.  If the deal goes through, it will leave just one big box office supply retailer.  Staples thinks the take over/merger can get past federal regulators because you can buy the stame stuff at places like Walmart and on-line.

Office Depot used to have stores around here.  I found it had newer items before its competitors, but the prices were on the high side.  Office Max stores were kind of boring and tired.  Staples does a nice job.

Radio Shack filed for bankruptcy last week and it appears the chain is on the way out.  Radio Shack stores were always fun to explore, and I used to look forward to its catalog years ago.  Times have changed.  You can get the same stuff elsewhere, and at better prices.  RS employees didn't seem as knowledgeable as they once were.  The company lost its way, and it will soon be gone.  Some stores will remain open, but it will be tough sledding for a tiny company to go against the big guys.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Resolved

A lot of people use the ground hog and robins as signs spring is approaching.  I use the size of the crowd I see at the gym, but this year was different.

I joined a gym in November of 2012, so this was my third New Year in my baggy shorts and tee shirts.

In '13 and '14, I noticed larger than normal crowds right after the first of the year.  I assume those were the New Year's resolution people.  They do their thing for a month, maybe two, and gradually drift away.  I know spring is coming when the New Year's resolution people stop showing up.

This year, there was no post New Year burst of activity.  It was just me and the early morning regulars.  Is America's gym craze over?  Did a lot of people get home exercise units for Christmas?

Looking out the window, and peering at the thermometer, it's tough to say spring is on the way, but it really is.  Look for my usual skunk activity/sign of spring blog in the next few weeks.

Speaking of animals, can we leave the ground hogs alone?  We're pestering these animals, all over the country, for cheap photo ops.  The ground hogs look miserable.  The last thing they want is to be dragged out of hibernation for some weak entertainment.  The mayor of New York accidentally killed one last year.  A ground hog in Wisconsin bit a guy's ear.  Give the ground hogs a break.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Classic Andy's Angles: Nicholson

I thought we could use a little taste of spring time, and I could use a little pat on the back.

If you come here from time to time, you know I love photographing the Tunkhannock Viaduct, a.k.a the Nicholson Bridge  I notice something different during each visit, and there have been several.

I took the photo you see above about ten years ago, on early spring day.  It was still chilly, and the trees had yet to turn green, but at least the snow was gone.

It's a reminder that we're in the second half of winter, and spring is on the way.

By the way, the station uses the photo you see above in its Facebook rotation.  I don't have a Facebook site,   We use the shot in a promo, plugging Facebook, and I get a kick every time I see it.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Classic Andy's Angles: They Never Learn

I'm glad someone is finally beginning to sit up and take notice.

Newswatch 16 did a few reports this week on snow removal in downtown Scranton, or the lack of it.

The photo you see above was from a blog in January of last year, and the archives show I've done a similar blog every year for the last several.

You see, curb-to-curb snow plowing in Scranton is a foreign concept.  Business owners are complaining customers can't reach their front doors.  The meters are snowed in.  Thanks to waiting to plow, the accumulated snow is now accumulated ice.  It's harder than concrete.

A clean up is scheduled for this weekend, and I'm guessing it will take twice as long and cost twice as much than doing it right the first time.

Scranton seems to be the only city of its size to lack alternate side of the street parking.  Tiny boroughs and townships here have it.  Get the cars off the streets, and give the plows room to work.

A lot of people now call downtown Scranton "home."  That's great.  Some big vacant old buildings now house some really snazzy apartments.  Cut a deal with the parking garages for a low rate during storms.

Better yet, have the Mall at Steamtown offer free night/overnight parking during storms.  It would be a wonderful gesture of good will, thanking the community for its support, in good times and bad.  Let church groups and boy scouts offer free coffee and snacks (for donations) like they do along highway rest areas on long holiday weekends.  Make it an event.

Oh, I'm sorry.  Scranton doesn't think "big."  It doesn't think "progressive."  It doesn't think "different."

The thing that is most disappointing is we go through this every year, and the same mistakes keep being repeated.  I smell a pattern.

Friday, February 6, 2015

TechnologyWatch

Once upon a time, frozen pizza was your pizza of last resort.  It was the awful stuff you kept in your freezer in case of a hunger emergency.

In the past, I've used this space to rail against pizzerias using inferior cheese,  It's getting tougher and tougher to find a quality pie.  And the bad cheese danger isn't enough.  I'm tired of encountering those square, mass produced cardboard squares masquerading as crust.

I've been slowly experimenting with frozen pizzas lately, and I've encountered some really good ones.  The industry has really done a 180, and some frozen pizzas I've tried come very close to what you get at a quality corner pizzeria.

It's what makes America great.

Speaking of food technology...

They've been around for a while, but soda vending machines that take credit cards are popping up everywhere.  Friday morning, I found myself with a craving while shopping.  I didn't have any small bills and change, so I paid for my pop with a credit card.

If we can conquer the frozen pizza thing, and credit cards at vending machines, the sky is the limit.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Unfulfilled Promise

Our friends at the Scranton Times~Tribune report Marywood University is slapping a "for sale" sign on the old Scranton State School for the Deaf.

The Marywood purchased the property a few years ago.  Other than some landscaping and lighting, Marywood, my alma mater, didn't do a darned thing with it.

I wandered about the property, and took these pictures in September of 2013.

The buildings are old.  They're filled with lead paint, asbestos, and other horrible things.  It will cost a fortune to get them up to today's standards.  I get that.

Still, it makes me sad to see Marywood give up on a gem.  It's a spectacular property, filled with promise and possibilities.  Please, Marywood.  Start small.  Fix one building.  Do another in a few years.  And then another.  I'm sure there are programs on the main campus that need more room.  The land and buildings are too good to sell.

According to our newspaper friends, there's a chance Marywood will keep the SSD property.  I hope that someone in the university community has the vision to see the what can be done here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I Miss...

Those really cheap big box stores, like Hill's, Zayre, Ames, Kings, Grants...  and the granddaddy of them all, Sugerman's.

When TV shows had cool theme songs.

Pay phones.

Fountains in malls.

Turning on cable TV and getting real news.

Turning on radio and getting real news.

The days before expansion diluted talent in Major League Baseball and the NFL.

When it took more than six inches of snow to cause real concern.

When you could walk to school.

The ability to walk in to a government building without going through a metal detector.

The Red Barons.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers.

When it didn't take an hour to read a fast food menu.

When you could talk to an elected official or a business person, without having to go through a myriad of public relations people, handlers, flacks, and consultants.

When those elected officials had some real vision.

Howard Johnson's.

Big Boy.

Receiving a nice card, letter or note in the mail.

St. Elsewhere.

Brent Musberger's pre game show, followed by any NFL game with Pat Summerall and John Madden.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shield Me

Let's talk about the Shield Law for a moment.

The grand jury investigating the Kathleen Kane debacle recommends weakening it.

That's a bad idea.  A bad, bad idea.

The Shield Law protects journalists from revealing sources.  Therefore, it protects whistleblowers.  Whistleblowers let journalists know when there's something wrong in the system, be it government or private industry.

If this information is revealed secretly, it's obviously the source fears reprisal. 

If I reveal a source, no one will trust me ever again.  I'm essentially putting myself out of business and doing great harm to my employer.  No one should ever be forced to do that.

A free press is essential to a functioning and responsive democracy.  A free press is vital to an informed electorate.

Keep the Shield Law as strong as possible.  You might not be a journalist, but you still benefit from it.

Monday, February 2, 2015

About the Cover: Fountain

Tamaqua has a pretty park in the middle of the borough, where Routes 209 and 309 meet.  You have to love a town with a park at the main intersection.

One of the park's features is a fountain, which is shrink wrapped for winter.  It looks like a big, white Christmas tree.  In fact, it is decorated for the holidays.  I got here too late.

I hope to return when the sound of trickling water fills the park.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Andy's Angles: Tamaqua Train

Yesterday, I mentioned a lot of good things Tamaqua has going for it.  I left out one.  There are train tracks in the center of town, and I was lucky enough to be there when a Reading and Northern train rumbled through Monday morning.