*

*

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Vietnam

Vietnam fell to the Communists 40 years ago, on this day, and the war was over.

Even though I was just entering my teenage years, I vividly remember the images on the network morning news-- helicopters being dumped into the ocean, the evacuation from the American embassy, people lined up on the roof, desperate to get out.

I was a news junkie, even as a kid.  I can still see Walter Cronkite giving the U.S. and Vietcong death totals every night at 6:30.  I can still see Kissinger and Nixon pushing for peace with dignity and getting us out of there.

As I've noted before, it was a great time to grow up-- the space program, trips to the moon, diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and China, places we'd never seen before, mystery lands.

Yet, that Vietnam cloud was always there.   Always on the horizon.  The protests ripped apart our cities and divided our country.  We all wanted out.  We couldn't agree on how to do it.

Eisenhower and Kennedy got us in.  Johnson got us in even deeper.  There are some who believe Vietnam wouldn't have happened if JFK had lived.  We'll never know.

To this day, just the word Vietnam means awful things.  Like, let's not make (name of conflict here) another Vietnam.

The word is still on our lips, in our memories, and in our hearts.  I hope we've learned something,

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Heart Breaking

I loved Baltimore and vacationed several times there.  If you're so inclined, do a blog search, several photos will come up, posted here when I was doing "classic photography" weekends.

There was a lot to do-- the Inner Harbor, Camden Yards, the Shot Tower, the BromoSeltzer Art Tower, the National Aquarium, the Science Museum, the Poe grave, shopping, entertainment, boats...

It was far, without being too far.  A nice and easy drive.  Affordable.

It breaks my heart to see the city ripped apart by violence and on fire.

I'm watching riots on streets I've been on.  I'm reading Tweets about destruction at places I know.

I know people want, and deserve, answers on the death of a man in police custody.  But, what does setting the city on fire prove?  What does it solve?

Before this, Baltimore had its problems, problems a lot of other American cities have-- crime, poverty, aging infrastructure, congestion, transportation issues...

Yes, most of the current problems are away from the tourist areas.  Still, I'm sure organizations considering convention locations, and families planning vacations are thinking twice about Baltimore today.  The economy will take hit, and the downward spiral goes in to high gear.

This isn't helping.  Days of violence can send Baltimore down a long slope, and it will be difficult, maybe impossible, to climb back up.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

C-

I have a degree from Marywood College, now Marywood University, and I'm proud of it.  It was a quality education on a safe campus and it was affordable.  I value lessons learned from esteemed professors like Perry, Lubniewski, Barrett, Chini, Persico, Donovan and Kurlancheek.  I think of what they taught me just about every day.  Zero regrets.

Having said that, I think Marywood has made many missteps in the past several years, going back to taking Joe McDade's pork barrel money, its reluctance to remove a felon's name from a building, the near implosion of the nursing program, a lack of live and local programming on the radio and tv stations, a misdesigned and misplaced new library, and the failure to develop the wonderful former School for the Deaf property.

I'm sure there are good things I don't know about, like the apparently successful architecture school and its art programs.

Having laid the foundation, consider this.  A copy of the student newspaper, the Wood Word made its way in to my hands.  The newspaper staff gave the University a grade, and it was a C minus.   C minus!  It was a plain, old C last year.

Black marks came for administration's lack of transparency.  I see nothing has changed.

The Wood Word's opinion piece dropped the bomb on the new library with the unsubstantiated line "It's unclear if the University actually has the funds to complete the project."

The editorial was balanced otherwise, noting what the staff sees as the good and the bad.

Be that as it may...

I wonder what happens when a prospective student reads the piece.  Would you attend a university where the students grade it as a C minus?  I wouldn't.

It's a pity the administration isn't more forthcoming with its students.  What kind of lesson are they learning?

I applaud the newspaper staff for its brutal honesty, and I also applaud Marywood's administration for keeping its hands off the paper.   However, I just wonder if there was a better way to say it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Murrow

Edward R. Murrow died 50 years ago.

The man was a giant, practically inventing radio news reporting during World War II.

He tried to right wrongs on "See It Now."

Clearly, I was too young to note his work as it was happening, but I've read enough about it.  Edward R. Murrow was simply a fascinating individual, who wasn't afraid of taking on his bosses at CBS or corporate America.

There's some good work going on today, but Murrow was one of a kind.  President Johnson said Murrow dedicated his life to an "unrelenting search for the truth."

In spite of his journalistic genius, I read where Murrow was never really comfortable on TV.  It just wasn't his thing.  Then CBS made its television push, it was Douglas Edwards and Walter Cronkite leading the way.

I'm sad that a lot of broadcasters today know so little about him.  I'm also sorry Murrow died young.  57.  His New York Times obituary said Murrow smoked 60 to 70 cigarettes a day.

There are lessons here-- don't be afraid to broadcast the truth, and don't smoke.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Andy's Angles: Construction Weekend

I've written about Marywood's new library in the past.

My feelings haven't changed.  The school needed a new one, and I'm trying very hard to like the new building.  I've looked at it several times.  I can't get past the feelings that it's an inappropriate design and wrong for the site.

It's right across the street from the famed Liberal Arts Building.  You know, the one with the dome and the knee weakening art work inside.

While there are some brick and stone, there's also a lot of glass and steel.  A lot.  It's a big modern sore thumb in the middle of a lot of history.

Maybe, I'll feel differently when it's finished and the landscaping is in place.  It needs softening up.  As I see it now, it's way too harsh.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Andy's Angles: Construction Weekend

I've flip flopped on this building a few times.  It's the new University of Scranton center for rehabilitation education at Jefferson and Linden.

I wasn't opposed to the concept.  Colleges and universities, along with dollar stores seem to be driving the local economy lately.  New facilities make those colleges and universities more attractive to students.  They spend money here, and you know the rest.

It looked good on paper, but as all eight stories rose up toward the sky, I was concerned the building would dominate the neighborhood and dwarf what's already here, including and especially Elm Park United Methodist Church.
As you can see, Elm Park still has a height advantage, and it's still very noticeable, although not as much as before.

Workers were inside the U's building, even on a recent Sunday morning.  It's supposed to be ready this summer.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Let's Review

Including weekends, I've been off the last ten days.  Here, in a nutshell, is my vacation.

I had my car's tires rotated and oil changed.  I had my bicycle tuned up.  I went for a bicycle ride.  I took tons of photos.   I visited the gym several times. I listened to the radio and worked on my blog.  I had my first Taco Bell breakfast.  I had my last Taco Bell breakfast.    I shopped a little and slept a lot.

That's about it.  That's my vacation.  Average stuff, and I was more than happy.

Thanks to Newswatch 16's Jackie DeTore for filling in for me.  Those hours are tough if you're not used to them.

See you tomorrow morning.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

TWIB Notes

I was wandering through a book store the other day, and I saw a new book on Billy Martin.  New York Times writer Bill Pennington authored it.  He was interviewed on Olbermann Tuesday afternoon.

I've read other books on Billy Martin, and I know all I care to know about the man.  He was a great manager for Detroit, Texas, Oakland, and the Yankees.  Unfortunately, he had his demons.  Namely, alcohol.  Martin won games and turned teams around.  He had a nasty habit of being difficult to deal with, and there are times he hurt more than he helped.

Here's what fascinates me.  Billy Martin died nearly 26 years ago.  Yet another book has been written about him, proving he's still a fascinating character nearly three decades after his death.

FOX Sports has hired Pete Rose.  Friends, that's why your TV remove has an "off" button.

Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price went nuts on the media the other day.  During a tirade, he dropped the F bomb 77 times in five minutes and 34 seconds.  I support free speech, but here's what really gets me.  Price was angry at reporters for daring to ask questions and be critical of the team.  Price was way off base.

It happens far too often.  Beat writers turn into "homers."  There's fear and intimidation.  If you don't toe the line for the team, there will be consequences.  One of the reasons I have problems with Penn State, long before Sandusky, is a little incident in the early 90's.  I was covering a game for an independent production company.  A veteran warned me, knowing I have a reputation of being a hard butt, that those who ask critical questions get frozen out of future media opportunities.  I bit my tongue and couldn't wait to get out of there.

And, yes, it happens in news.  I've seen reporters get too cozy with those they cover, and they won't pull the trigger when it's time to hold feet to the fire.  Sorry for the cliches, but it's a quick and effective way to get a point across.

In case you're wondering, "TWIB" notes was the "round up" feature on the old This Week in Baseball TV show.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Little Late

I should have commented on a couple of events earlier, but the best laid plans...

Sunday was the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.  For me, it was one of those "where were you when..." events.  For me, I was in the old channel 22 newsroom on Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton.

It was the computer age.  Old teletypes had bells that went off for bulletins or urgents.  The old 22 computer system had a chirp.  I heard it go off, looked at the screen, and read about a massive explosion at the Oklahoma City federal building.  The Oklahoma City CBS affiliate was really on the ball, and had a live picture up quickly.  The image was stunning.  Half of a rather large building was gone.  The network turned it around fast, and put it on the closed circuit feed, before the network broke in with the bulletin.

Of course, we all gathered around the monitors and wondered what caused it.  Terrorism in Oklahoma City?  Really?  I was skeptical.  My first thought was a natural gas explosion.  That was ruled out rather quickly when witnesses mentioned an exploding truck.

Like the rest of America, foreign terrorists were suspected.  It turned out to be far from the truth.  An American did it.  We shared in the horror, the outrage, and the shame.

Spinning 180 degrees, pardon the pun, Saturday was National Record Store day.  I thought of it yesterday, while wandering through a book store.  The book store was disappointing.  Computers and e-readers killed the book stores.  Most of those that remain are underwhelming.

I haven't been in a record store in years.  First, there aren't many left.  Second, my internet radio fills my music needs.  Information, too.

I'm glad there are still some record stores left, and we celebrate their existence.

The last original episode of WKRP in Cincinnati aired 33 years ago yesterday.  Four seasons.  88 episodes.  I found the series to be rather uneven, but when it was on its game, nothing was funnier.  More hits than misses.  Antenna TV recently stopped airing it, but it will be back somewhere.  Some episodes are on the internet.  The DVD set has been improved.  Playing the original rock was out because securing the rights was too expensive.  I've read where most of the original rock hits have been restored.  The most expensive tracks are still out.  I'm really considering a purchase.  As some may remember, I spent about 11 years in radio.  WKRP characters, especially Herb the sales manager, were dead-on accurate.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Season Four

I bought a bicycle four years ago, and it's one of the best decisions I ever made.  I really don't do much, just some short rides around town, when the weather gets nice.

Fresh from a tune up at the bicycle shop, I climbed aboard the Sunday morning for the first ride of the season.  I'm an early morning rider.  50 degrees is my cut off point.  I checked the thermometer.  51.  It was "go" time.

Thanks to some gym time, a bike ride wasn't a shock to my system, or my legs.  I completed a couple of loops around my little town, even taking some hills I usually avoid at the beginning of the season.  Riding a stationary bike in a nice warm gym is a lot different than sucking 51 degree air into your lungs.  That part was a tad uncomfortable.

My legs had that jelly like feeling at the end of my ride, but I really didn't mind.  The sense of accomplishment overcame that.

Unfortunately, some very chilly mornings are in the forecast, so I won't be on the bike for a while.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Drink Up

State Representative Jordan Harris of Philadelphia wants to extend alcohol sales until 4 am.  Part of his reasoning is as follows:

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and cities in between are world-class cities of higher education, and we need to create an environment where the nightlife encourages young people who become educated here to stay in our Commonwealth to live, work and play.”

Do we think alcohol is the reason  young people will stay in Pennsylvania?

Really, Representative Harris?

How about affordable educations and jobs once they graduate?  How about a tax climate that encourages home ownership?  How about safe cities and towns, nice places to raise families?

I have no problem with the responsible use of alcohol, but this sounds like a simple, shallow, and possibly dangerous solution to a problem that needs a bigger fix.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Andy's Angles: More Demolition

Yesterday, sadness over the demolition of an old elementary school.  I doubt people feel sad about the old steam heat building on North Washington Avenue coming down.  It's been an eyesore for years.

There was practically no chance of it being turned in to something useful again.  I'm sure it could have been something cool, but no one has that much money.

It's easier to sell a vacant lot a than a brick and concrete monstrosity, so the chances of something nice here are going up dramatically.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Andy's Angles: Demolition Weekend

The old Audubon Elementary at Mulberry and Colfax in Scranton is coming down.

The school district pulled the kids out of there five years ago because of mold.  Geisinger bought the space two years ago.  No firm plans yet, but at the rate hospitals are expanding around here, it's safe to say you'll see something on the lot soon.

It's sad.  It looks like the students left just yesterday, and they could be back tomorrow.

I was lucky to be in a couple of decent neighborhood elementary schools (and an awful one), and it's too bad children today don't have that opportunity.
It really is a marvelous piece of architecture, unlike the prison like boxes we slam our children in to these days.

Every building has an expiration date.  The Audubon School has reached the end of its life, but you can't help but feel it had some good years left, if we cared about it a little sooner.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Vacation!

Sleeping Homer is making an appearance, and you know what that means.  It's vacation time-- my first of the year.

As always no plan-- maybe a photographic expedition or two, and a lot of sleep.  I already accomplished something-- an oil change and a tire rotation.

And there's more:  the bicycle was delivered to the shop for a spring tune-up, and I activated my new Subway rewards card.

I love my job, but it will be nice to avoid razors, neck ties, and make up for a week.

JackieDeTore is in the big chair this weekend.

I'll see you soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vote '16


Even if you hate Hillary Clinton, there's no excuse for knocking over her father's tombstone at Washburn Street Cemetery in Scranton.

I thought Clinton's Sunday announcement was rather weak and too low key.  I can't say I'm a fan of social media based announcements.  There's no excitement generated, no buzz, no interest, no momentum generated.  Clinton then jumped in an unmarked black van and traveled from New York to Iowa.

There are a few Republicans in the race.  More to follow.  As for the guys currently in, I see people who can capture the nomination by appealing to the "right" of the party.  I have concerns about them being "middle" enough to win in November of next year.

I watched about 45 minutes of CNN's morning show while I was waiting for an oil change yesterday morning.  There was some political reporting.  I wasn't impressed.  Shallow.  Trivial.  It's going to be a long campaign.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln died 150 years ago today.

Could you imagine the man's courage?  Making decisions he knew would anger half the country.  American fighting American to bring the country together.  Working his way up from nothing.

I don't have a list of favorite presidents, but if I did, Lincoln would be at or near the top.

Having been a journalist for nearly four decades (yikes!), I do have a mental list of presidents I would have liked to have interviewed and why.

FDR always fascinated me.  Hyde Park is a short distance away.  I've been there, and I really recommend a trip.  The man led a nation through war while fighting his own health problems.

There are a million things I'd ask JFK.

LBJ, and living with the Kennedy legacy, plus Vietnam and civil rights would be a fascinating talk.

Ben Maller on FOX Sports Radio says the best stories are in the losing locker room, so that puts Nixon on top of my list of interview subjects.  The man was a foreign policy genius.  He reached out to the Soviets and the Chinese.  Yet, his own paranoia and, dare I say, stupidity, brought him down.

Staying with the losing locker room theme, I'd love to sit down with Jimmy Carter for a while.  A good man.  A bad president.

Bush 43 just for the 9/11 story and that decision to go to war.

David Brinkley called Bill Clinton a "bore."  I'm not sure I'd agree.  It's been said many times, many ways, everybody has a story.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Apollo 13

Today is the 45th anniversary of the explosion that crippled Apollo 13 on its way to the moon.  The mission began April 11, 1970, annd the first couple of days were smooth until that awful moment.  Days of drama followed.

I was too young to remember the Apollo 1 disaster, so this was my first experience with an accident in the space program.  It was always smooth sailing.  Walter Cronkite never underestimated the danger on the risks, but it all looked so easy to a kid watching on TV, so perfect.

I was a geeky kid (surprised?), so I was glued to the TV as the scenarios played out.  They were all dangerous, and nothing was guaranteed.

I vividly remember my third grade teacher leading us in prayer, and this was a public school.  That behavior would get her suspended or even fired today.

Apollo was called America's most successful failure.  I usually catch some of the movie when it's on.  It remains interesting, even though you know the ending.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Scrapple

I know the vast, vast majority of police officers are decent and honest people.  It's still exceptionally distressing when you encounter a bad one, like in South Carolina.  An entire generation is learning disrespect for police officers, and the officers themselves play a role in that.

I was wrong about the new 102.3 FM format.  I predicted something skewing very young.  Instead, it's classic rock hits of the 80's and beyond.  I've been listening.  Meh.  I'm not the target demographic, and I'm really not a fan of the music of that era.  I wonder how Max102 stands out in a very crowded marketplace.

Any time I see sparse crowds at the ballpark in Moosic, I can't help but think of the days when the stadium was sold out on a regular basis-- and it was a bigger park back then.  I know, the weather last week was lousy, and things usually don't pick up until summer weather arrives and the kids are out of school.

John Dickerson has been named moderator of Face the Nation on CBS.  Bob Schieffer retires this summer.  Dickerson has the credentials, but does he have the star power?

I'm detecting an uptick in skunk activity.  Regulars know, I view an active skunk population as the true sign of springtime.

A Scranton fire station is closed due to mold.  My question is, it's clearly not an overnight condition.  Why was it allowed to deteriorate?

I'm a big Troy Polamalu fan, and I'm very sorry to see him retire.

I have no desire to watch anything on Netflix or any of its cousins.

Hey, PENNDOT, the big overhead lights at the Davis Street interchange of Interstate 81 have been out for a month.

It's one thing after another for Attorney General Kathleen Kane.  You wonder how she's able to effectively administer the duties of the office and have the public retain faith in the organization.

I was sorry to learn Ken Prewitt passed away Saturday.  He was a business news reporter for CBS, ABC, and several radio outlets.  There isn't much to say, other than he was really, really good.  Brain cancer.  68.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Andy's Angles: The River

Today, another from the batch of Lackawanna River photos I took April 2.  I did a no no and tried to get artsy here, by shooting in to the sun.  I was attempting to get a nice sunny reflection off the water.

Not great, but not awful, either.

A visit to the park along the Lackawanna at Blakely is always pleasant, especially for those of who marvel at how clean the Lackawanna has become.  It was an open sewer when I was growing up. It's now turned in to one of our area's better natural resources.  It will be a lot better if we can get rid of the acid mine run off downstream.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Andy's Angles: Field of Mud

I'm not sure who plays here, but I do know the infield was a mud pit and the outfield was a swamp when I visited on a recent morning.  It's nothing a dew dry, sunny days won't cure.  Play ball!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Business Friday

Raise your hand if you're surprised at this one.  Genpact, with an office in Hanover Township, is moving jobs to India.  The company won't give the number, but we hear it's substantial.

When Genpact took over some business from Kraft last year, it denied the India rumors, even after an internal document telegraphing the deal was leaked.

Genpact took state money for an expansion.  The company says it plans to make good on its word.  So far, the track record is questionable.

KMart closes its Mount Pocono store this summer.  It's surprising.  Mount Pocono is a growth area, with a couple of big water parks opening soon.  To me, having a store in an area with a solid economy makes sense.  I don't know what the store's lease deal is like.  It might be crushing.  I also don't know the internal financial situation.  KMart and its sister company, Sears, are closing stores all over the place.  You really have to wonder about the future.

The Mount Pocono KMart isn't that old.  I was in there a few weeks ago.  Other than ripping out a snack bar/pizza area, the store hasn't changed much.  Therein lies the problem.  No investment.  Tired stores.  Customers shop across the street, literally, at Walmart.

Walgreens is closing 200 stores.  That sounds like a lot.  It's not.  It's only two per cent of the chain.  Walgreens newer stores are really nice-- big bright, well stocked.  However, it seems to be the most expensive of the drug store chains, and you can get the same stuff a lot cheaper if you want to brave the big box stores.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders are now charging $2 for parking.  The team says it needs the money for parking lot improvements.  The stadium and the team wouldn't be here if the public didn't pony up for the project.  Throwing them a bone in the form of continued free parking would be a nice thing to do.  Food and drink are already through the roof, as you would expect at an entertainment venue.

Speaking of food, I stopped in a fast food sandwich shop the other day.  12" turkey sub, small chips, small soda:  $9.70.  It was my main meal of the day, and it was tasty, but it's a growing problem in the fast food industry.  They're pricing themselves out of the market-- especially for the lunch crowd.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Media Notes

Q102
Rebel Radio
Kiss102
Buzz 102
The Mountain
Sports Hub 102
Next?

After about a year and a half, management pulled the plug on Sports Hub 102.3.  With the exception of three local hours per day, the rest of the schedule was NBC Sports Radio.

The mid day local talk show never really caught on.  I'd listen on occasion.  No phone calls.  Not much interest.  The NBC programming was decent, but if you're a CBS Sports Radio, FOX Sports Radio, or ESPN Radio listener, there was no reason to  twist the dial.  It was nothing special.

Yes, there were Yankees games and some other national play-by-play packages.  Yankees on the radio are unlistenable.

This station switches formats every few years.  The sports thing was never really given an opportunity to catch on.  I didn't sense a big promotion budget after the initial splash in 2013.

I don't have access to the books, but there were already two all sports station in town before The Sports Hub joined the fray.  A fourth was added last year.  The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area is now down to three.  All sports radio rarely attracts a huge audience, but it does get a young male demographic that advertisers like-- if the format is done right.

Fun fact:  I was at WARM during a massive studio and control room remodeling project, in the mid 80's.  Our old furniture went to the new Q102 at its first home, the Insalaco Building along North Main Street in Pittston,

RadioInsight.com predicts a variety hits or rock format.  Someone anonymously registered the domain Max102 and Max102FM.  I have a gut feeling it will be rap and hip hop.  I'm probably wrong.  We'll see tomorrow morning at 7.

Moving on...

One of the industry trade publications says cable operators no longer see The Weather Channel as a "must have" network.  No kidding.  When smart phones ate The Weather Channel's lunch, the response should have been to do the weather better.  Instead, The Weather Channel added a bunch of forgettable and tiresome reality shows.  DirectTV dropped the channel for a while.  Fios booted it a few weeks ago, in favor of channels that actually give you useful information.

It's a moot point, because he's leaving next month, but David Letterman really takes off a lot of time.

Bob Schieffer of CBS announced yesterday that he will retire this summer.  He's always been a class act.  Schieffer is 78.  I wonder who takes over Face the Nation.

Stan Freberg died this week at the age of 88.  He made funny radio commercials, among other things, and used the medium to its fullest.  Ads don't have to be boring.  Freberg proved that.

And, Milton DeLugg died Monday.  He was the Tonight Show band leader before Doc Severinsen.  He wrote the Munsters theme, and he led the band on the Gong Show.  96 years old.  We should all be so lucky.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gun Week

I'm not the first person to say this, and I won't be the last.

Wilkes-Barre had seven people shot in one week, five incidents, two died.  There were assorted other incidents of shots fired, where no one was hit.

It's a society problem.

There's an entire generation with no regard for human life.  Their world is turf and drugs and theft and guns.  Seeing the problem is simple.  The solution is not.

The police department does the best with what it has.  More police officers would be great, but at a time when property owners are taxed to the max, it's not a practical solution.  The so called war on drugs has its victories and losses.   As soon as there's a bust, there are others moving in to capitalize on the arrest.  It's nice to cut off the flow and jail the suppliers.  However, it all seems to temporary, at best.

It really is a shame.  I walked around a public housing project Monday morning.  There are a lot of kids there.  I feared for their safety.  I feared for the potential to be desensitized to violence because it's all around them.

At least, at this point, it appears to be bad guy on bad guy crime.  There are no innocent bystanders hurt-- yet.  The odds have to be catching up with us.  Let's hope the police catch up with the violence first.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

About the Cover: The River



I have a few "go to" places when I feel the itch to take photos-- Nicholson, Steamtown, the Susquehanna River at Pittston, Lackawanna State Park, and the park along the Lackawanna in Blakely.

The header photo looks downstream.  Olyphant is on the left.  Blakely is on the right.  I really like the header photo, and I have a feeling you'll see it again in this year's Top Ten.  I'm usually a "center up" guy, but this one is composed better than most-- sky, water, pedestrian bridge.

I have a very soft spot for the park.  I used to walk it daily, several years ago, when I was "between jobs."  It helped me keep my sanity.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Overnights, the Work Ethic, and the American Dream

I've been doing overnight TV and radio for a very long time, and there's something unique about overnights.  There's a special bond with the listeners and the viewers.  The overnight pace, most nights, isn't is frantic.  You know them a little better.  They know you.

I had all the regulars calling me when I was on the radio.  There are a few who ring me up at the office now just to say hi.  I'm sorry I can't talk long.  The weekend morning news waits for no one.

I keep roughly the same "up all night" schedule on my days off.  It's the same in person.  You get to know the people at the gym a little better, Turkey Hill, Sheetz, Sunoco, WalMart...

I make at least one WalMart stop, in the wee hours, every week.  The staff knows me.  I see the same faces stocking the shelves and manning the registers.  Many mornings, a man of Indian or Pakistani descent is at the check out.  Great guy.  Friendly, efficient, personable, professional...

Thursday morning last week, he was behind the register at one of the big box home improvement stores when I was buying my flowers.  Friday morning, at 4 AM, he was checking out customers at WalMart.  I asked how many jobs he has and why.  The reply was he has a child entering college, and another who will be graduating from high school in two years.  He's working multiple jobs to help them get through school.

I wanted to cry.

First, I thought of my parents, who helped me get through school a long time ago.  Thankfully, it was much cheaper then.  I will never forget their help and sacrifice.  There was no way I could have done it on my own.

Then, I thought about the immigration debate in this country, and how people who look different often get a hard time.

It is every parents' wish to have their children do better than they did.

You can have the American dream, even if you weren't born in America.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Andy's Angles: Easter

As is my habit on Easter, a church photo goes up on the blog.  This year, it's St. Thomas Aquinas in Archbald.  There's no special reason.  It's a pretty church and I was in the neighborhood.
Easter was always one of my favorite holidays-- new clothes, eggs, chocolate, ham, raisin bread-- and chocolate.  Plus, it is the first (most years) of the warm weather holidays.

If you're observing, make it a great day.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Andy's Angles: Oil House

I was wandering around on a recent morning, looking for inspiration, when I stumbled upon this.  I couldn't find much information, other than the sign in front,.
Apparently, there's a lot of history here, and I'm glad there's a marker here.  Unfortunately, it's more congratulations than information.  I hoped for something more.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Easter Quest

It's become Holy Thursday morning tradition-- schlepping from store to store, trying to find nice Easter flowers.  It's usually a lily and tulips, with an occasional third variety thrown in.

I'm picky.  I try to find plants pre-peak, hoping to time it right and have a house filled with blooms Easter morning.  The way things usually go, I find plants in the bud stage, and they usually bloom on about the Wednesday AFTER Easter.

The whole thing started several years ago.  Believe it or not, the local Acme supermarket was my store of choice.  If you remember Acme during its final days here in our area, it did nothing well-- expect Easter flowers.  The chain must have had a good supplier.  Nice stuff, cheap.

Acme is long gone.  I shifted to the big box home improvement stores.  They were good for a few years, and then there was an abrupt turn downhill.  What you saw in stores on Thursday morning was usually at peak, or slightly past.  More often than not, I left disappointed and empty handed.

I've had decent luck at the flower tents, and another supermarket chain.  The supermarket flowers were pricey, but great quality.

My Holy Thursday trip this year began a little early.  I had some extra time.  The flower tents were still a couple of hours from opening, so I hit one of the big box home improvement stores because they open early.  I didn't expect to leave happy.  Shocker.  I found a nice lily and some daffodils in a watering can as a pot.  I was in and out in minutes.  However, its tulips were weak, so I hit the other big box home improvement store just up the street.  Tulips-- still days away from bloom.  They were in my hand, and I was home in record time.

I don't know if my good fortune at the big box home improvement store was a fluke, or if they've really upped their game.  We'll see next year.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Unfinished Thursday

Is there anything more tired than an April Fool's Day prank?

It appears Attorney General Kathleen Kane is in some serious trouble.  A grand jury decided there's enough evidence to prosecute on a few charges.  Kane's lawyer tried an end run in the state Spureme Court.  The court ruled a special prosecutor's appointment was legal and just.  It's now up to Montgomery County's district attorney to pull the trigger on filing charges.

Not a basketball fan.  Can't get excited in the Final Four.  Kentucky's win seems fait accompli.

What a mess in Indiana!  I'm not going to say if the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is a good law or not.  That's up to you.  However, Governor Mike Pence did a lousy job of defending it, starting Sunday morning on ABC's This Week.  Pence is always mentioned on the short list of Republican vice presidential candidates.  I doubt you'll hear his name in 2016, unless he gets this fixed and comes off as a true consensus builder and fence mender.

McDonald's, trying to reverse weak sales, is testing ways to do breakfast around the clock.  Being an all nighter, and as I have noted in this space before, I'd rather nave a Big Mac at 5 AM than an Egg McMuffin at 5 PM.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Broadcast Blues

I love my TV job, but radio is what first drew me to the business decades ago.  I still have a huge interest in it, and I actually spend more time listening to radio than watching television.  After the news and Scooby Doo, there really isn't much out there.

I've been following the Bucknell University story.  Three students were expelled this week for racist and violent comments made over WVBU 90.5 FM a couple of weeks ago.  Their exact words have not been released.  Someone listened and complained.  Suspensions were handed out during the investigation, and when it was through, administration dropped the hammer.  Expelled.

Times are changing.  You would think we've become more tolerant.  Not true.  Mel Brooks recently admitted there would be no way he could get "Blazing Saddles" made today.

I'm not advocating racist and violent material on the radio, or racist and violent behavior.  It just seems there was a way to fix this-- apologies, sensitivity remediation, etc.  However, I didn't hear the broadcast.  I'm not at Bucknell, and I was not present to judge the impact this has on the college community, as well as the general population.

An alleged Bucknell insider wrote in the comment section at WNEP.com that the comments might have been alcohol fueled.  They were meant to be a parody of the Oklahoma fraternity racist incident, and they were never meant to broadcast.  Be that as it may, the damage is done.  Once those words leave the transmitter, they're not coming back.  By the way, alcohol and radio do not mix.  It's a major sin, and it could be one of the driving reasons behind the expulsions.

Voltaire first said "With great power comes great responsibility."   Holding a microphone is great responsibility and great power.  Use it wisely.

One simple guideline could have avoided all of this:  "When in doubt, don't."