Tuesday, March 31, 2015
In our noon newscast yesterday, we led with a story on a man killed by a toppling tombstone at a cemetery in Throop. How sad. A man going to decorate the family plot for Easter is the victim.
Then, people were hurt and cars were damaged because some genius couldn't properly secure a ladder in the back of a pick up truck. The ladder came out on Interstate 81 and caused a chain reaction crash. Luckily, no one was killed. The careless ladder owner will be cited.
My story involved an animal rights activist who lost her home to fire. Everything inside was destroyed, including years of record keeping and evidence gathering to prove her contention that circus animals are mistreated. As I've noted here before, I'm always amazed when people who go through tragedies choose to share their stories. We tracked down the fire victim at a hotel. She agreed to talk with me. The bottom line is that she will start over again, and her mission will continue.
We need some better days ahead.
Monday, March 30, 2015
Friday's story that the Luzerne County Election Board warns that there might be mistakes in the upcoming primary election because the office doesn't have the bodies to do the job right is stunning. County Manager Robert Lawton disagrees. Like most things, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.
Look, there are some things government just has to do, no matter what the cost. Public safety is first. Reliable, responsible and accurate elections are on the short list. It is the foundation of a democracy.
Somebody had better look at this, and fast. I hope the story got the attention of the people in Harrisburg. It should step in for an independent view, and possibly take over the Voter Services office to make sure the election is done right.
It's amazing we're even having this discussion.
Sunday, March 29, 2015
However, you cannot argue with the fact that it is one of our area's signature buildings, and a true gem. I took this photo on a recent late winter morning.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
They sent me the wrong one. I won't mention the company, but let's just say it's a four letter word.
I called customer service, and was connected to a foreign land. The guy kept telling me I wasn't installing it right, and he kept trying to transfer me to tech support. Hey, I've had computers for decades. I even owned a Commodore 64. I know when I have the wrong battery.
This happened not once, but twice. The "customer service rep" couldn't get it through his head that I received the wrong battery. There was no way I was being transferred to tech support to prolong the agonizing process of dealing with poor service.
Out of frustration, I finally said I didn't want an exchange, I just wanted my money back. He sent me a link for a UPS return label, and that thing was out of my house in 15 minutes.
I'm in the market for a desktop. You probably know what brand I won't be buying.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Clearly, this isn't Craig Ferguson's The Late Late Show. Ferguson was outrageous as he took that show to new and different places. The Corden version is considerably more glitzy and show bizzy. It's clear CBS sunk some serious money into the production, which never happened for Ferguson.
Corden has added a few twists. Guests enter from the back of the studio, which appears awkward. The guests make their way through high fiving audience members. Mila Kunis clearly looked uncomfortable on opening night. Also, both guests are interviewed at the same time. It's great if there's chemistry. A disaster if they do not. I fear there will be more misses than hits.
Ferguson was famous for ripping up the note cards prepared by researchers and talent coordinators. Corden is glued to his cards, but he's new. I'm sure the interviewing will become better. Even Letterman couldn't ask a good question at the beginning.
The name's the same, and the talk genre is the same, but the Ferguson and Corden shows are two vastly different animals. You really can't compare the two. While I miss Ferguson and robot skeleton sidekick Geoff Peterson every night, Corden might grow on me.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
I've finally been able to shake the cold that's been bugging me for three weeks. Now, something new: the flu.
I started feeling a little off, slightly fuzzy, while getting dressed for work early Tuesday morning. I just attributed that to feeling a bit more tired than usual.
Left over and microwaved Chinese food was on my list of suspects. I later learned some friends and family members have been battling the bug as well.
The fatigue continued during our morning broadcast. Our vans all have carbon monoxide detectors. It never sounded, but it's always a concern.
Joint and muscle aches started checking in. Again, I attributed those to being more tired than usual.
Then, the nausea appeared. Let me till you something. Stomach and/or intestinal issues are a street reporter's worst nightmare. The reasons are obvious. Our vans have all the new and latest technology, but we haven't found the space to tuck in a rest room.
Fate smiled on me. We gathered all the information needed for a noon report rather quickly. We set up shop in the Wilkes-Barre City Hall and Police Headquarters parking pot. Porcelain conveniences were always close at hand, and I took advantage.
I strongly considered asking management to hand off the story to someone else, so I could get home early. It was already approaching deadline, so I just kept going.
While I was extremely thirsty and bordering on dehydration, I stayed away from drinking anything, for fear of splashing it up all over the city's parking lot. As I write this, early Wednesday morning, I had lunch Monday at 12:30 PM, some toaster pastries Tuesday morning at 2:30... and, that's it. Still nauseated. Not hungry at all.
I forgot to mention the chills. A cranked up thermostat and an extra blanket weren't much help.
I got my flu shot months ago, but as we've reported, it's not particularly effective. Still, I never regret getting flu shots, and this is my first experience with being sick in years.
Photographer Steve and I got into a "Blazing Saddles" discussion on the way back to the office, and it helped pass the time, and get my mind off my pain.
I know several people who have a lot more to worry about than I. This too shall pass.
AT 12:04 AM
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Sorry to say, Pennsylvania is not on the list. But then again, if the tide starts rolling, I can't see how Pennsylvania can continue to opt out.
The twice yearly time change is not the hassle it once was. Most of my clocks and watches set themselves. I work all night, and I've found that eases the adjustment.
The big reason to do away with time changes is it's no longer necessary. Moving to Daylight Savings Time doesn't save the energy it was designed to conserve. We're no longer an agricultural society, so that argument goes out the window as well.
Yes, if we stay on one schedule, there will be some weeks kids will have to wait for the school bus in semi darkness. That's the only downside.
Most people seem to hate the switch, whether they gain or lose an hour of sleep. It's simply a concept that no longer works for most Americans.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Baseball is on thin ice with me. The games are too long. Too many teams get in the playoffs, and it was nearly impossible to find the games. The return of Pete Rose could push me over the edge.
I'm not a basketball fan, but I do keep up on what's going on. It's part of my job. I see there were some upsets in the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament, and that always makes it interesting.
I worked for the CBS station in town for several years, and I used to mosey out to the outer lobby when CBS would blow out the afternoon soaps for basketball. I used to take a seat on the bench out there, and listen to our poor receptionist take calls from irate people who were missing "their stories." The woman was sweet and patient, and she explained time after time that it was a network decision, not a local woman, and "the stories" would pick up on Monday where they left off, before basketball.
Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim announced his retirement, three years from now. He presided over a dirty program. He should resign in three minutes, not three years.
The Indianapolis Colts have come up with a plan for a nine point play. If you make a touchdown and two point conversion, you can take a shot at a 50 yard kick for an eighth point. I'm a traditionalist, but color me intrigued. Dome and warm weather teams clearly have an advantage here. It was nice, this past season, see a return to a running game for a lot of teams. I suspect we'll see some kickers drafted in the first round if the plan goes through.
Chris Borland retired after his rookie season in the NFL. Reason? Fear of concussions and long term health damage. Look, every job has risks. Some more than others. Borland decided the money isn't worth the potential damage. I assume he has a "plan B" for making money, and he actually got an education during his college years. Some see this is a game changer for the NFL. The sport will be in decline because it can't keep its participants safe. I'm not so sure. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, out there willing to take Borland's place.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Take note of the contrails in the upper right of the photo. It's almost an asterisk or star.
I have a feeling this photo will make a return appearance in this year's Top Ten.
Friday, March 20, 2015
I've seen ice covered rivers before, but they are usually a solid sheet. The current ice jam features chunks from upstream, pushed against each other to form a mass. There wasn't much movement while I was here yesterday morning. I guess that's why they call it a "jam." You do hear a crack once in a while as pressure tries to force the chunks downstream.
This photo was just upstream from the Tunkhannock bridge, looking to the south.
I'm glad I visited when I did. The jam began breaking up a few hours after I left. Thankfully, there was no severe damage.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
It was strange that happened on my 25th anniversary in television news. Just when you think you've seen it all, something unusual and bizarre happens.
I was doing live reports for Newswatch 16 This Morning on a flipped trailer along Interstate 81 at the Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport exit. While I was describing the crash scene, another tractor trailer nearly crashed.
From looking at the video, it was clear that second truck was traveling far too fast. Flashing lights were all over the place, yet the driver chose to barrel through and nearly created a second crash. I suspect the second would have been worse than the first because there were emergency service workers and clean up people all over the place.
It all happened so quickly. I was referring to my notes when I heard the loud noise of the near hit behind me. There's a bright light in my face. By the time I turned around to see what was happening and my eyes adjusted, it was over.
Photographer Jason Wolf told me what had happened as soon as I wrapped up. The whole thing was caught on live TV. A worker with the hazardous materials clean up company asked if it was captured on video. We replied that it was. I suspect someone is searching for that driver as you read this.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
I'm amazed at how many people are still fighting colds. It's not just your run of the mill sniffles. It seems nastier than normal this year.
College basketball doesn't interest me, and I found people talking about their brackets to be exceptionally boring. Having said that, I'll watch the NCAA basketball tournament if a Cinderella team develops.
Wandering through a dollar store is one of the great joys of life.
A great thing about this time of year: Irish soda bread.
The Android versus Apple debate consumes way too much of my time. I still can't make a decision.
I don't watch enough television to pay for a streaming service.
Ben Roethlisberger signed a huge contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm okay with that.
Gene Gene the Dancing Machine from the Gong Show passed away last week. The show was a classic, and when it was hitting on all cylinders, there was nothing funnier.
The Bill O'Reilly alleged war story lie controversy seems to have run out of steam.
A presidential or vice presidential visit to the area still generates a lot of buzz.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I was in radio for ten years, and loved it, but I saw that my station was on the decline, and there was less of an emphasis on news. It was time to move on. I tried and failed to get a couple of TV jobs. In March of 90, something I was suited for came my way, a foot in the door. It was an opportunity to do little 30 second updates Saturday mornings and in to the early afternoon.
One thing led to another. I was offered a full time job six months later, and turned it down. In an amazing display of bad judgement, the station offered another full time job a year later. I thought about it for a long time and took it. I never regretted the move.
There were some career setbacks along the way, but every time something bad happened, something better soon followed. I've been lucky beyond words, lucky beyond belief. I've had some great teachers and some people who really believed in me. We should all be so fortunate.
Thanks for a great 25.
Monday, March 16, 2015
I was driving through Jessup on a recent morning, and the AM sunshine was hitting the old Jessup train station rather nicely. The early days of Daylight Saving Time are not my favorites. I hate those late sunrises and harsh early morning sun angles.
Jessup is a lucky community. It still has its old train station and I hope it really becomes a focal point of the town.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
I always experience an emotional tug of war when it comes to these things. It's great that we remember the miners contributions and sacrifices. But, the mines closed a long time ago, leaving behind a scarred environment. We still pay the price for that.
It's a fine balance to remember the miners, but remind people outside the area that we are more than a bunch of old coal towns.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Friday, March 13, 2015
As I write this, the parade is still on, in spite of a rainy forecast.
As I write this, downtown Scranton is being cleaned up, flags hung, potholes filled.
I get that. Parade Day is a huge economic engine for the troubled city. Put your best foot forward. Show visitors a clean city. With any luck, we'll get them to come back.
Drunken louts excluded, it's doubtful they'll see a city as nice on the return trip, and that makes me sad.
If we can clean up a city for Parade Day, there's no reason we can't do it for the other 364.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Clinton admits to using a private e-mail server for work related correspondence while she was secretary of state.
Are you kidding me? Other than president and vice president, secretary of state is one of the most important positions in the country, dealing with delicate issues, life and death, national security, war, peace...
At a Tuesday news conference, Clinton said she used one account out of convenience, but it would have been "smarter" to use two.
It shows a lapse in judgement. Carelessness, maybe. Clinton insists secure communications was never compromised.
The actually got it right during a panel discussion on the FOX News Channel the other night. If you love Hillary, you still do. If you hate Hillary, you still do.
I will add that I wonder if all those in the middle really care.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
I've always been a Syracuse fan. The school's media program is considered one of the best in the country. I saw a football game there several years ago. I liked the campus and the city.
Basketball coach Jim Boeheim seems like a nice guy, so it always made me happy with the basketball team succeeded on the court.
Storm clouds started forming several months ago, with the word of an investigation. The school took itself out of consideration for post season basketball play.
The bomb dropped last week. The NCAA found a lack of institutional control, deficient monitoring systems, drug policy violations, academic fraud... It's a long and shameful list.
Syracuse has been hit with several penalties. It might not go far enough.
Coach Jim Boeheim refuses to resign. He should quit-- or be fired. Now.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
I worked with a lot of people over the years, and Ray was the workhorse of the WARM staff. He co-anchored the early morning newscasts, and worked solo until noon.
Ray's baritone was unmistakable. His writing style was simple, crisp and clean. The story was the star, but the delivery was tops.
I was just a pup when I started at WARM. Ray wasn't the kind of guy who took you by the hand to teach you things. You just listened and learned. I do remember Ray once telling me "don't clutter a story with facts." He was the master of giving you the essentials without the minutiae. I like to think I have some of those qualities, and I can thank Ray.
I've mentioned Ray in this space in the past. It was the story of how radio management wanted us to tag the forecast with the current temperature and say it was 50 "WARM degrees." When it got really cold, Ray refused to say the "warm" part. He got away with it.
After several years, Ray got burned out. He left for a management job at WEJL, and the station was never really the same. We lost a rock solid newsman.
We lost touch over the years, but I understand Ray worked in the extermination and snack food industries. He was up for a job as Red Barons public address announcer when the team started, a job he should have received. I could imagine how wonderful it would have been to hear that voice booming from the speakers at Lackawanna County Stadium.
I was lucky to work in the same newsroom as Ray. My sympathy to his family and friends.
Monday, March 9, 2015
I haven't been on a Monday through Friday, daytime schedule since 1996, and even then, I was doing a lot of fill in work on the dawn patrol.
Do not cry for me. This is the life I have chosen.
I remember what a big deal it was, when the first 24 hour stores started popping up in the Scranton areas. We always had 24 hour diners scattered about, but the actual 24 hour mini mart in my orbit was a 7-11 at Moosic and Meadow in Scranton. At the time, I was pulling all-nighters on a radio station, so a place for a soda and a snack on the way to work was a gift from heaven.
24 hour Price Choppers started appearing... followed by a list of others, including the store seen above, Walmart.
I guess I can arrange my life to get things done, on a normal person's schedule. Shopping during the overnight hours is a wonderful convenience, and I'm thankful I have the opportunity.
There are advantages-- no crowds, no traffic jams, and the store workers seemed a lot less stressed.
And, I'm not alone. There is usually a scattering of shoppers-- some with full carts, others with just the odds and ends.
We stopped being a 9 to 5 society a long, long time ago.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Now, it's just darkness as far as the eye can see.
The era of big downtown department stores is long gone, and Scranton will never be the city that never sleeps. However, one would hope for a little life and activity once the sun goes down.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
It's just a blank and unattractive corner. An empty movie theater on one side, an empty office building (Samter's) on another corner.
I hope someone traveling through sees the potential.
Friday, March 6, 2015
The dirtiest player in the National Football League is about to get a huge, new contract. There's something wrong with that.
I'm really tired of "The Weather Channel" hysterics.
Our friends at public broadcasting got rid of a lot of the overnight self help shows on the digital subchannels. Thank you.
Most overused word on ESPN: meniscus.
Most overused word on Food TV: caramelize.
It was nice to watch a little baseball on my days off.
Carrot Cake M&M's. I kid you not. They're surprisingly decent.
Ringling Brothers is phasing out elephant acts. I'm very comfortable with that. I hope the big cats are next.
Low gasoline prices were fun while they lasted.
I recently topped 1,000 Twitter followers. Thank you.
It looks like a moderating trend is on the way. However, I fear we haven't felt the last of winter.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
I thought so.
In a Wednesday budget message, the governor proposed raising the sales and income taxes, plus taxing things that had never been taxed before.
A lot of the money goes to education and property tax relief.
It should be noted the money to education is temporary. The tax increases are not.
The governor was in the sweet spot of being able to blame a lot of his problems on his predecessor. No one argues with that. Also, no one will argue that the tax situation need to be made more fair. Property owners need a break.
It's really not the taxing that raises the red flag. It's the spending. Especially because a lot of the money goes to an area that threw a lot of money into the governor's campaign last year.
The budget faces an uphill battle in the house and senate, chambers controlled by the opposition party. I wouldn't be surprised by a long and nasty fight, and one that goes right to the start of the new fiscal year in July.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
I took a sick day.
Luck has been on my side lately. I've had nothing more than an occasional cold for the last few years. Most of the illnesses fell on my days off. If I showed up at work sick, I was able to struggle through it.
A cold that came on last week was particularly nasty, and I can't shake it. An extended weekend gives me the opportunity.
I know you get sick from germs, not the weather, but the winter of 14-15 can't be helping. On top of that, it seems like everyone in the office has something. It will be nice to get away from that, and keep my illness from spreading to others.
Now, off for a can of soup and a little rest.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
I'm not going to debate the specifics of the dispute. The teachers want more money. The district claims poverty. The average Riverside teacher salary in 2013 was more than $ 59,000. I'll let you decide what's fair.
I've long felt good teachers should get good money. Bad teachers should get fired. Plus, teachers need to do more than teach. They should inspire. I've encountered far too many who were just going through the motions. The students weren't the only ones with their eyes on the clock, watching the school day seconds tick away.
The entire system needs work, new thinking, new ideas, freshness, vision. Learning should be fun. Our system has turned it in to a chore.
Unfortunately, all I see coming down the pike is more of the same.
Monday, March 2, 2015
I'm sorry I couldn't make it to former Scranton Mayor Jim McNulty's 70th birthday party Friday night. He and I go back to 1980 or 1981. McNulty agreed to come up to Marywood one night and help me with a TV production course project. I didn't know him, but I always admired the way he did things. I just called and asked for an interview. If I remember right, I was too frightened and intimidated to be any good. Jim was gracious and professional, as always. I was in the TV studio when he arrived. I remember a classmate calling me and saying "Mr. McNulty is here." I nearly passed out. It was my first big interview. Jim gets a blog entry of his own someday soon.
I finally figured out what I hate about the new Odd Couple on CBS. Jack Klugman's Oscar was more good natured and playful. Even though Felix pushed his buttons, you could tell the pair shared friendship and affection. Matthew Perry's Oscar seems more easily peeved, snarky and angry. I really don't sense an emotional connection between the two. Tony Randall's Felix was constantly pining for Gloria. Has the new ex even been mentioned?
Thanks for watching the weekend morning broadcasts, and tolerating a raspy voice. I think I underestimated my illness, and probably should have taken the weekend off. As I write this, I still can't shake it.
Rest in Peace, Leonard Nimoy. I'm not a sci fi guy, but I do have an appreciation for the draw of Star Trek and the Spock character Nimoy brought to life. It would have been great to see Nimoy appear in a Big Bang Theory episode. He did provide the voice for an action figure on a recent episode. An in-person appearance would have been off the charts.
I'm no expert, but I'm mildly surprised accused killer Rockne Newell was judged mentally competent to stand trial. If convicted, I'm sensing a George Banks style appeal ad infinitum.
It's March. Please? Just one nice day?
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Mostly, the weather has been lousy and I've been down with a nasty cold, so today, a vintage photo.
It's not that old. It was taken Memorial Day morning last year. I was working out of our office in the Bicentennial Building on Public Square. Sunny. Warm. Blue sky. Not looking forward to excessive heat, but a taste of spring would be delicious.