*

*

Monday, August 31, 2015

Bad Timing

I hated to do it.

I had to make a trip to one of the big box office supply stores, at the worst time possible, back to school week.

It turns out, a relative's SD camera card was full.  She needed another one, and wasn't sure what to get.  Deleting old photos wasn't an option, so I was in the car Wednesday morning to head to the office supply store on the equivalent of the last minute Christmas rush.

I brought the old card with me, and found one that suits our needs.  I showed the old and new to an employee to make sure they matched.

Even though the store was packed and the staff was overwhelmed, I almost enjoyed the visit.  Parents seemed happy to have a one stop shopping destination.  The kids were thrilled and anxious-- happy with their new treasures.

We didn't have big box office supply stores when I was kid, but we had something close.  Sugerman's.  Miracle Mart, later King's was a close second.  Clothes and shoes came from The Globe.  Later, Jean King.  Notebooks, pens, paper, pencils and the other stuff meant a trip on Route 6 to that amazing and bizarre retail oasis.

By the way, I bought a card with a much larger capacity.  There will be no more trips to the office supply big box store at back to school time.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Andy's Angles: TrackSide

This is the view from the back side of the old DL&W station in Scranton.

You have to wonder how many people have seen this view over the last century+, especially when the trains were running.  People off to vacation, off to school, off to work, off to war...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Andy's Angles: Train Station Saturday

You can't do a photo series on train stations without including this place.

It's the old Delaware, Lackawanna and Western station, now a hotel.  Built in 1908.  The bottom floors were for passengers and freight.  Offices above.
The building nearly met the wrecking ball in the early 80's, and that would have been a shame.

Friday, August 28, 2015

It's Not Easy

It's harder than ever to be a sports fan.  Let's examine the evidence.

Football, cycling, and soccer have been hit by cheating scandals.

It seems like there's a daily report of shenanigans in college football, especially when it comes to players committing crimes.  College football doesn't have the monopoly on that.  The NFL has seen its share of arrests.

There are two events that are sticking in my craw lately.  We'll start with baseball.

Charlie Finley, who owned the Oakland Athletics started doing it in the 70's.  It seems to be a yearly thing now.  If you're not in contention by the All Star break, you sell off your best players to a team capable of winning.  In effect, a lot of teams give up after the middle of June.  It's criminal.  It's unfair to the ticket buying fan.  It detracts from the game.

If you remember one of Charlie Finley's fire sales, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided the transactions "in the best interests of the game."  It's a shame the sport no longer has a commissioner with backbone.
And then, there is Michael Vick signing with my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

To get you up to speed, Vick is a convicted dog killer who didn't think he was doing anything wrong.  He did his time.  He paid his debt to society.

However, my forgiveness has its limits, especially when you pick on kids, the elderly, and animals.

The Steelers used to stand for something, integrity, tradition, standards, morals.  Those days are over.

Michael Vick is a poor NFL quarterback, and an even poorer human being.  He has a one year contract.  Maybe I'll be a Steelers fan again a year from now.  Maybe.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

First Person: Bust and a Nugget

Line many stories, it started with emails and phone calls.

Assignment editor Lindsey walked over to my desk early Monday morning  and told me we were getting reports of significant police activity on Belmont Street in Carbondale.  She asked photographer Corey and I to drive over there to take a look.

My plate was clean.  No problem.

What we saw is above.  Carbondale Police and the FBI coming in and out of a home.  We kept our distance and stayed out of their way.  However, we were close enough to see marijuana plants and a handcuffed man coming out.

No one was talking, yet.  We report what we see and we saw a lot.  Eventually, some neighbors were interviewed.  Bad place.  Problems.  The city is deteriorating.

As law enforcement was wrapping up, I approached Carbondale's police chief.  He was polite and professional, but he punted to the feds.  I'm not surprised.

I then walked up to the lead FBI agent at the scene.  Again, professional and courteous, but there wasn't much he could say.  But, he did offer this outstanding nugget.  He told me they were in Carbondale for a reason he couldn't discuss, and the marijuana discovery was incidental.  In other words, an unexpected bonus.

I asked the suspect's mother for her input.  She was very upset.  All she would say was she didn't know why police were there.  The marijuana wasn't a clue?

Let's get back to the "nugget."  I'll tell you something.  Anyone can report a general alarm fire.  It's the stories where you have only some video and a "nugget" that present the real challenges.  I discussed the story with Corey in the car on the way back to the newsroom.  It's what I always do.  The story is his as well as mine.  I shared my vision.  He offered what was his best video.  I got behind a keyboard, banged it out, got it approved by a manager, and we were on the air at noon with something no other news organization had.  Thank you, tipsters.  Keep them coming.

Let me go back to the "we can report what we see" line I introduced a couple of paragraphs ago.

Once upon a time, there was a cluster of old warehousey type buildings along Wilkes-Barre Boulevard in Wilkes-Barre.  I was on the radio when they caught fire one afternoon in the mid 80's.  As we say in the business, it was a cooker.  Huge flames.  Massive plumes of smoke.  It was among the bigger fires I've ever covered.

It was an odd sight.  The insides of the buildings were gutted.  The roofs had caved in.  The facades were still standing.  Beyond that, the fire destroyed everything.  It reminded me of those photos of London and Berlin buildings bombed out during World War II, and I said that on the air.

Our visiting operations manager, a mercenary from the home office in York happened to be in town, and he loved it.  I thanked him for the rare compliment, and added I was just describing what I saw.

Broadcasting isn't all that complicated.  Show the best pictures.  If you're in radio, there is no substitute for actually being there, and describing what you see.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trish

I didn't write a blog entry when Trish Hartman left WNEP because, honestly, we weren't all that close.  I always liked her, but we worked different shifts, different schedules, different assignments.  I never got to know her.

I will pass along this story from Trish's final night.  She walked over to where I was seated, all teary eyed and said "I'll never see you again."  To which I replied "This is a good thing."  We both got a laugh out of that, and we went our separate ways.

There was some contact over the last couple of years-- an occasional Tweet or e-mail.  I'm glad we kept in touch and I hope the feeling is mutual.

Trish recently started working at WPVI ABC 6 in Philadelphia, one of America's great television stations.  The station, obviously, has publicity photos.  Trish Instagrammed that hers had arrived.  I responded that I wanted an autographed copy, and it appeared in my mail box the other day.

I'll level with you.  A lot of people have gone through our town who have moved on to bigger things.  Many have baffled me.  I just didn't see it.  Not Trish.  She's major market caliber and WPVI realized that.

I'm glad we were on the same team for a while.

And, an APAL blog wouldn't be complete without some sass and snark.  Trish signed her first and last name.  Did you think I wouldn't recognize you?  And, thanks for the warm message, "To APAL!"  I'm touched and having difficulty holding back the tears.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Envy and Regret

I love this time of year, and one of the main reasons is the start of the new college semester.

A lot of memories came flooding back when I wandered the campus of my alma mater, Marywood, last week.  They're getting a new library, plus radio and television facilities.  The campus is being spruced up.  I can't say I like the design and location of the new library, but that's another entry for another time.

I really like reading and watching the stories on the new fall semester, especially the incoming freshmen.

Looking back on my first days, I resisted the barbecues and volleyball games, and other efforts at forced socialization.  I did the bare minimum on orientation weekend and got out of there.  I can find my own way around, thank you very much.

In retrospect, I should have given it a shot.

I followed my high school pattern-- a close circle of friends, and I was happy with that.  Widening the circle would have been advantageous, but I am what I am.

Regrets are an awful thing.  Yes, there are many, many, many things I would have done differently.  But, if my guardian angel were to bop me on the nose with her magic wand, and offer me the opportunity to go back and do it again, I'd politely decline.

I've seen a lot of happy freshman pictures on the internet.  That's good enough for me.

By the way, Jon Meyer did a story Friday at Keystone College in Factoryville.  Yes, Factoryville,  not LaPlume.  Anyway, the school is phasing out most textbooks in favor of iPads.  It seems like a good idea.  All your stuff in one neat little package.  Text books are expensive, even going back to my day.  I remember an enormous book I lugged around for a Psychology class.  As a freshman, I drove around a 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.  I upgraded to a big '79 Blazer during my sophomore year.  They were always filled with books.  Expensive books.  It's nice to see an alternative out there.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Modern Problems

I do not publicly complain about my job.  As those in organized crime say, "This is the life we have chosen."  Also, we have the greatest jobs in the world.  We're the first to know things.  We have the opportunity to go to places and meet people that others don't have.

However, the job does have its challenges.  "Inside" stuff generates blog hits, so here we go.

Let's take you back to Tuesday morning, and that huge water main break in Kingston.

It was one of the hottest days of summer, and fluid intake is vital.  But, when you're in an area without working toilets, it presents issues.  I usually have a bottle of diet cola close at hand.  It was tiny sips rather than slugs, and I made it through the morning, without having to run for "cover" behind a bush.

After one of my 16 live reports that day, Joe Snedeker remarked that I needed some short sleeved dress shirts.  According to most style guides, there is no such thing as a short sleeved dress shirt, because short sleeved shirts are not "dress" wear.  I was okay with my usual attire, long sleeved dress shirt, with the sleeves rolled up a tad.  I'm a "sleeve roller upper" even in the dead of winter.

Moving up a bit, my top button was done and my tie neatly knotted.  A friend noticed I looked  uncomfortable.  Heck, it was sunny and 90.  She texted me with the message "Pants are for losers."  It cracked me up, and it created a nice moment of relief during a difficult day.

I always remember what a letter carrier told me, while I was doing a hot weather story several years ago.  The letter carrier told me he likes the cold better because you can always put on another layer, but there's a limit to how much you can take off.

Keep your pants on.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Andy's Angles: Working Tracks

The tracks running adjacent to Tobyhanna's train station are still active.  This shot is adjacent to a propane business, so I'm assuming the tankers are filled with propane.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Andy's Angles: Train Station Saturday

Well, not really.

This is a signal tower, just across the tracks from the Tobyhanna train station.  Concrete and built to last.  It certainly has.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Hi, I'm Glen Campbell

Many years ago, there was a limit on the amount of commercial time radio and television stations could broadcast per hour.  During my radio days, it was 18 minutes.  There were many hours my station hit the limit.  I wasn't in TV at the time, so I can't tell you what the regulations were in that medium.

When the federal government deregulated much of broadcasting, the commercial limits went out the window, giving birth to the infomercial.  I don't watch many, but I have to admit there were a few that were entertaining.  A personal favorite was a British guy painting walls with pads rather than brushes and rollers.

The other night, I stumbled across a Glen Campbell infomercial on one of the Public TV station digital sub channels, and it entertained the socks off me.

For you younger folks, Glen Campbell was a country/pop singer in the 60's, 70's, and 80's.  There was a string of hits and some pretty good stuff.  I was a fan.  He had a CBS variety shows for a few years, beginning in 1969.

As I told a coworker, it was an oasis of wholesomeness in a tumultuous time.  Vietnam was going strong.  Violence in the cities after the MLK and RFK assassinations.  Watergate was just beginning.  The country was changing, and not in a good way.

For that one hour a week, on Sunday nights, Glen Campbell sang and laughed his way through the evening, with a strong supporting cast.  Watching that infomercial took me back to simply being a kid-- when your biggest worries were elementary school homework assignments, finding a lost Wiffle ball in the back yard, and getting your Frisbee out of the neighbor's tree.

No, I didn't purchase the DVD's, but it was tempting.   You can buy the music.  Unfortunately, there's no way to buy back your youth.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

First Person: Water Main Break

I walked in the office at 2:30 AM Tuesday.  Photographer Jason was already out on the road.  Producer Thomas told me he was at a water main break in Kingston, and it appeared to be a large one.

As is customary in situations like this, affected customers call the TV station rather than the water company.  We're happy to pass along what we know.  Water company customer service can be a difficult place to turn in the middle of the night.  Our calls were coming in from a wide area.  Plus, photographer Jason said there was a massive flow gushing out of West Walnut and Mercer.  The indications were all there.  This was big.

Jason returned to the station.  I looked at his video and listened to an interview he conducted at the scene.  After writing a couple of stories, photographer Corey and I jumped in a live truck and drove out to Kingston.  The water was flowing.  We were still hearing reports that the broken main beneath the street, which had yet to be exposed, was big.  A Kingston police officer dropped by the truck to tell us what he heard and knew.  There were problems across the river, in Wilkes-Barre.  We were still getting low pressure, cloudy water, no water reports from a wide area.

A side note:  in this day and age, you have to be very careful with anecdotal evidence.  You're never sure what is first hand information, and what is rumor spreading via Facebook and Twitter.  Unless I get it confirmed from two independent sources, or a water company official, it doesn't go on the air.  Lindsey, our assignment editor worked the phones-- getting information and handling rumor control.  Our Wyoming Valley Newsroom crew also started working their sources very early.



The water company spokesperson must have been roused from bed, because the information started flowing early and fast.  10 live reports during Newswatch 16 This Morning flew by, followed by four more during Good Morning America.  A big part of the west side of the Wyoming Valley was without water, and there was the potential for an outage lasting days rather than hours.  The Luzerne County Jail, in Wilkes-Barre was without water.  The Luzerne County Courthouse closed.
After 9 AM, Corey and I set out to take a wider look at the impact of a waterless 90 degree day-- a mom and pop luncheonette, the fire department, the high rise for the the elderly...

Corey and I worked the west side of the valley.  Matt Petrillo and photographer Mike took the east side.  Team coverage at noon.  A huge hunk of time was devoted to the story.  It was necessary.  Thousands of people were without water on one of the hottest days of summer.  I came back with a recap just before Newswatch 16 at Noon came to end.

My day was done.  The table had been set.  The rest of the crew took over for the afternoon, evening, next morning, and next day.

I was lucky.  I got to go home to a house with all the utilities.  It was a very tough day for people in the affected area.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sad Story

Something's bothering me, and maybe sharing it here will be good therapy.

I lost a job 19 years ago this week, but that's not the focus of this tale.  When I had that job in downtown Scranton, I was a frequent visitor to a little mini mart on the first floor of the Hotel Jermyn at Wyoming and Spruce.  I got to know the clerks.  Nice people.  I told one that I had just lost my job and I wouldn't be coming around any more.  She started to cry and said "But who will be nice to me?"  It broke my heart.  I promised to stop by from time to time.

The mini mart eventually closed.  My crying clerk started working in other downtown offices.  I'd bump in to her from time to time.  We'd exchange pleasantries.  Nothing major.  It was great to see a friendly face.

I saw her again the other morning, in tears.  She said her mother had just been diagnosed with cancer, and her cat had passed away.  My heart broke again.  We hugged.  I think it helped me more more than it did her.

Bad things happen to good people.  I wish I could change that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mean/Funny

Jay Leno said last week that Jimmy Kimmel would have more viewers if he was less mean.  Let's examine that for a moment, along with some of my favorites.

I don't watch Kimmel enough to have a strong opinion, but I can sort of see what Leno is saying.  As for Leno, he specialized for years in inoffensive comedy.  I did have have a problem with his OJ Simpson jokes.  Sorry Jay, a double homicide is not funny.

There's a difference between mean and biting/satirical.  David Letterman danced around the line for years.  There were times he fell over on to the mean side.  Ask Cher.  For the most part, I thought Letterman was great.

Jimmy Fallon seems to be following the Leno playbook.  The guy has talent, especially when it comes to music and impressions.  I still don't find him to be very funny.  The monologue is often painfully executed.

James Corden is another exceptionally talented performer.  Song, dance, and charm?  Yes.  The rest?  Not so much.

By the way, Fallon and Corden were recently rewarded with long term contracts by their networks.

Seth Meyers has the potential to be really funny.  He still looks uncomfortable.

Kill me, but I thought Jon Stewart was vastly overrated.  Brilliant at times, but he screamed a little too much.  You don't like FOX News and Arby's.  OK, Jon, we get it.  Can you talk about something else?  Moot point because Stewart recently gave up The Daily Show.

I have high hopes for Stephen Colbert.  If anyone can be biting and still be funny, it looks to be Letterman's successor.  We'll find out for sure next month.

My favorite comedian of all time is George Carlin.  The man was more than seven dirty words.  He was a master at using his voice and expressions to illustrate a joke.  Yes, he did get a little mean toward the end-- the angry old man thing, but in his prime, no one was funnier.

I researched the "Dying is easy, comedy is hard" quote.  Looks like actor Edmund Gwenn was the first to say it, but that's in dispute.  What cannot be argued is Gwenn was right.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rainy Season

We're guaranteed to have a dry fall, and let me tell you why.  I just bought a new rain coat.

It arrived in the mail last week.

When you spend a lot of time outside, solid rain gear is essential.  I found this one in a work clothes catalog.  Serious stuff.  It wasn't super expensive, but it wasn't dollar store material, either.

It's got seams that reflect light, and it has plenty of pockets.  I'll be happy if it stays in the closet.

NOAA has already predicted a quieter than normal hurricane season.  As I look at the map of the tropics, nothing's on the horizon.  Not even close.

On one hand, I'd like to see if the coat lives up to its billing, but a monsoon means someone's property is damaged, lives are affected, and we all can do without that.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Andy's Angles: A Closer Look

A lot like last week-- a closer look at some old train station detail.  This time, Tobyhanna.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Andy's Angles: Train Station Saturday

Our tour of train stations takes us to Tobyhanna today.

Renovated, but it retains the old style look.

I so envy towns with train stations.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Big

When I changed my bicycle route last month, I started pedaling past the school where I attended kindergarten.  It's apartments now.

I remember being overwhelmed by the enormity of the building-- so many doors, windows, room, steps, people...  Now, it just looks old, small, and dumpy.

I can still see myself going in those front doors.  My kindergarten class was off to the right, back corner, first floor.  I don't remember loving it.  I don't remember hating it, either.  There were some things I was good at.  The teacher was big on having us regularly recite our addresses and telephone numbers, in case we ever got into trouble somewhere and needed help.  I was good at that.  Coloring-- not so much.  I was merely adequate at tying laces on a big practice shoe.  We were on half day sessions, and I remember we rotated-- morning to afternoon.  I don't remember how frequently.

I spent only one year in that building.  First and second grade were spent in an elementary school a little closer to home.

As I was pedaling on my circuit, I mentally counted the buildings where I attended class, K through 12.  Eight.  Six have been torn down.  I shed no tears over that.  With the exception of one, they were simply awful buildings, unfit for student habitation.  In addition to the kindergarten building, one other school of mine still stands.  It too is apartments.

I will admit that those old buildings had character, even if they were fire traps.  It seems today's schools are nothing but generic cement block rectangles.  But, a school is not just a building.  It's people.  I wonder if kindergarteners still walk through the front doors, intimidated by it all.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Experience

I don't know who said it first, but I've been thinking about the line "If experience means so much, who would we have first sent to the moon" a lot this week.

Critics seem to be blaming accused criminal and current attorney general Kathleen Kane's problems on her lack of experience.  She wasn't a high profile player as a Lackawanna County assistant district attorney.  She had no experience running a big and complex bureau, like the office of attorney general.  Some think Kane was in over her head.  She wouldn't have gotten in to so much trouble if she had more experience.

While experience is important, it's not everything.  It's okay to be a little on the green side, but you have to be savvy enough to surround yourself with smart people.  Maybe Kane did that, and then disregarded their opinions.  I'm sure insiders will talk eventually, especially at her trial.  Right now, we really don't know.

I was away from a TV during Kane's "news conference" yesterday.  By the way, a news conference involves reporters asking questions.  Kane read a statement and left.  Her media guy did the rest.  Consensus is that her "everybody's out to get me due to the dirty e-mail scandal" might hold some water, but does it excuse and explain Kane's behavior?  That will be up to a jury.

The experience discussion got me thinking about my first full time TV job, back in 1991.  I was part time for a year and a half.  A full time job opened up.  It was posted.  I saw the requirements for the full time position.  I met some of those, but not all.

Luck smiled on me.  The news director believed I could do it.   He gave me the chance, but to ensure the arrangement would work, he paired me with a veteran photographer.  There were regular critiques and discussions.  A quarter century later, I'm still at it, so I guess it worked out rather well.

Radio was a different animal.  I had been doing college radio for about a year before my first commercial job rolled around.  I was part time, off-air, for a year before I got a break and slowly moved up through the ranks.

I know a broadcasting is a lot different than a government office.  The bottom line is experience matters.  Common sense matters more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Second Banana

In my view, it's often harder to be the second banana than the lead guy.  You have to be the master at the art of the set up.  You have to know when it's time to step back.  You have to learn when to load the gun, only to let someone else pulled the trigger.

Frank Gifford died Sunday.  He was best known for his role on ABC's Monday Night Football.  Most of his 27 years there was spent in the play by play chair.

Gifford will never go down as one of the industry's greats, but he was a darn fine set up man.  He got the crew in and out of commercials, down, distance, time left.  Frank Gifford knew how to get out of the way of  Howard Cosell and Don Meredith.  It's not as easy as it looks.

While Gifford as an individual might never be remembered as a stellar broadcaster, the Monday Night team will go down in history as one of the most popular of all time.  ABC Sports president Roone Arledge knew he had to make Monday Night Football a spectacle, rather than just a football game, if it was to succeed.  Those three made the evening interesting, even if it was a bad game.  In fact, the bad games made for a better TV show because it gave Cosell and Meredith more room to talk.

Frank Gifford should get a lot of credit for making the whole thing work.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Days Gone By

It was a story dozens of miles from where I grew up, but it really hit home.

The Humane Fire Company in Pottsville held its last block party Friday night.  One of its trustees says the tradition ends after 65 years because the numbers no longer add up.  When you look at the man hours and expenses, versus the money a block party brings in, it's no longer worth it.

I don't blame them.  Yet, it makes me very sad.

Growing up in my little town, there must have been a half dozen picnics every summer, each lasting three or four days.  Fire companies had them.  Churches had them.  There must have been a half dozen within walking distance every summer.

Food and fun.  You got a chance to meet your neighbors.  Maybe we'd have fewer problems if we knew the rest of the people in town.

Like Humane, the people in my town eventually realized the numbers no longer make sense.  There are still a few summer activities, but nothing like those home town picnics.

For a while, my church held what was called a "summer festival collection."  The priest canceled the picnic, and asked us to stuff the money we would have spent at the picnic into an envelope, and put it in the basket on Sunday.  What's the fun in that?

You know, everything old is eventually new again.  I doubt it, but there could be a day when the picnics make a comeback.  If it happens, it will be a long wait.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Amazing

The attorney general of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Kathleen Kane, is charged with leaking secret grand jury information, lying about it, intimidating witnesses, and having an underling snoop on the investigation.

Wrap your head around that for a second, if you can.

The state's top law enforcement officer is an accused criminal.

Wow!

If that isn't enough, the governor and other members of Kane's own party want her to quit.

Remember that Ms Kane is innocent until proven guilty, and the filing of charges is only half the story.  She has yet to present a defense.

Guilty or not, the whole affair further erodes the public's trust in government.

Guilty or not, Kane should have known better and steered clear of the whole situation.  Prosecutors allege Kane was trying to get back at someone who embarrassed her.

Guilty or not, Kane should have realized that she's no longer working in Scranton, taking guilty pleas and handling minor cases.  Welcome to the big time.  Develop a thick skin.  Forgive, but never forget.  Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer.

Guilty or not, Kane should have realized she's not the most experienced prosecutor and office manager.  Pick your fights.  Carefully.  Very carefully.  She gave her adversaries the ammunition, and that's beyond the self inflicted wounds.

Guilty or not, Kane has damaged herself and her party.  A Lackawanna County lawyer on Newswatch 16 Thursday, and I'm paraphrasing, said Kane's political career was already over, before the charges.  Now, her liberty is in jeopardy.  The law license goes along with that, so say good bye to earning a lucrative living for quite a while.

Guilty or not, Kane vows to fight, as is her right.  It should be interesting.  And costly.  And lengthy.

You may be wondering about today's graphic.  The dust over the initial filing of the charges has settled, but this one will be dusty, dirty, and extremely muddy for a very long time.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Andy's Angles: A Closer Look

They don't build them like they used to.

Today, a closer look at some of the detail at the Gouldsboro train station.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Andy's Angles: Train Station Saturday

Today, it's Gouldsboro, and one of the area's best looking old train stations.

Here is the info.

We're so lucky people stepped in to keep the building from rotting away.

Friday, August 7, 2015

10 Years

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Peter Jennings.

Several months prior, it was clear something was wrong.  Jennings was missing from big events, like the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami, the death of one pope, and the selection of his successor.

Then, Jennings made the announcement in April of 2005.  Lung cancer.

I walked in to the office early in the morning of July 8.  I asked Producer Heather what was new because I hadn't turned on my home computer that morning.  She replied that Peter Jennings had died the night before.

I watched the network morning broadcasts with mixed emotions.  I love old TV news, and Jennings had quite the resume-- anchor, a failed morning show, foreign correspondent, anchor again...  It was a celebration of his work, and it was excellent stuff.  However, there was one reason we were looking at it.  The man responsible was dead.

Sad to say, but I didn't fully appreciate Peter Jennings until after he was gone.  Read his life story.  After two anchor failures-- one on the evening news in the 60's, the other on AM America, the predecessor to Good Morning America, he set out to learn the world.  It was clear on major stories.  Peter Jennings had a head full of information on how Europe functions.

His delivery was smooth and relaxed.  Very easy to watch.  He had all that knowledge, but Peter Jennings didn't come off as haughty and pompous.

Born in Canada, Peter Jennings became a dual citizen in 2003.  What impressed me the most-- he carried a small copy of the U.S. Constitution in his pocket.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Razor's Edge

I do it every vacation, even though I say I won't.  I grow a beard.  There are advantages.  There are times your face needs a break from a daily scraping with a surgically sharp piece of steel.

I really shouldn't.  It comes in grey.  It makes me look old.  It itches, but the big problem occurs when it's time to come back to work and take it off.

I always find the beard is too long for a razor, but too short for a clipper/trimmer.  The vacation that ended last week was the worst.  I hacked myself up pretty good.   Thank heaven for my styptic pencil and the laundry treatment spray that got blood stains out of one of my towels.

Vacation weeks are coming up again in September and October.  I hope to find a happy and bloodless medium, like shaving every other day or every third day.  We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New Owner

I've held off on yammering away about the new Mall at Steamtown owner John Basalyga.  I wanted to hear something concrete about what he has planned for the struggling, putting it mildly, shopping center in the middle of downtown Scranton.

So far, all we've heard is the mall will remain a mall.  It's privately owned, so Basalyga doesn't have to divulge chapter and verse on how he intends to make the mall viable again.

It has one department store, Boscov's, and a handful of smaller stores, a library branch, a train display, a tax office, a sub shop, a pizza stand and some empty space.  A whole lot of empty space.

The mall is a fixer upper.  The parking garage really needs work, and you have to find tenants in a building dozens of retailers have deserted, for various reasons.

I keep reading where Americans no longer like malls.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  There are other choices.  Bad malls go away.  Good malls thrive.  Wyoming Valley, Stroud, Lehigh Valley and Viewmont are nearly full.  Lycoming does well.  Columbia and Schuylkill have struggled for years.

People will shop at good malls.  Basalyga has to find that magic formula.  Viewmont has the big department stores locked up.  I can't see them abandoning their space there.  BonTon tried downtown and it didn't work.  What's left?

John Basalyga has a good track record.  He's taken old factories and turned them in to apartments.  His Olyphant and Dickson City projects are really nice.  We're all just wondering if he can work some magic on a much bigger scale.  Good luck.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

462/16

The presidential election is 462 days away, and I fear people will be sick of the process long before we reach Tuesday, November 8.

I know candidates have to jump in early to raise the massive amount of money needed for a run.

Thanks to Donald Trump's statements, and the constant could over Hillary Clinton, political news has been dominating the headlines recently.  I'm okay with that because I find politics a fascinating sport.

However, it probably turns off the casual observers.  We have 17 months of speeches, glad handing, debates, and commercials.

You'll see a spurt early next years for the early primaries and caucuses.  We'll likely see some candidates withdraw when the money dries up.  Momentum is a cruel mistress, and those who stumble out of the starting blocks are sunk.

Recent history has taught us the parties will have settled on nominees well before the summer conventions.  The parties would hate for messy scenes, broadcast to the world, from Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Then, it's the sprint to November 8.

It would be nice to see Pennsylvania remain in play.  Candidates would actually have to stop here to plead their cases.  Even though the peak of 38 electoral votes in the 1920's is ancient history, 20 is nothing to sneeze at.

It's disturbing to see that most of the recent election news centered on polls.  I fear many in the media say "There's nothing happening this week.  Let's do a poll."  Even my eyes tend to glaze over at endless polling data, unless something interesting jumps out, like the Trump surge.

There's a long time between today and election day.  Let us inform you, but not overwhelm you.  Please, stay interested and stay informed.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Victory Tour

I preface this by saying this certainly isn't "Go Joe."  Nothing on that level.  Not even close.

Ever since I bought my bike four summers ago, I've been essentially traveling the same circuit-- two mile loops through my little town.  The number of loops depended on how I was feeling on that particular morning.  It's a nice route-- a lot of it is flat, but there are some hills and slopes.  There's enough variety to keep me entertained and the blood pumping.

However, there was something I wanted to do for the past four summers-- recreate the bike trips through a few little towns that I used to take during my early teen years.  They were great fun.  Pals Markie, Frankie, and Bobby, and I getting out of the neighborhood and out of our comfort zone.

I got in the car last week to scope out the route and the mileage.  The mileage was do-able.  A couple of hills frightened me.  My early teen years are ancient history.

Tuesday morning, I finally decided to do it.  I've driven that route hundreds of times.  You get a different perspective on two wheels.  So much commercial development.  The roads are in awful shape.  Drivers were courteous.  There appeared to be an early morning police convention at Dunkin Donuts.  Hey, they deserve a break once in a while.

That daunting hill is on the last quarter of my trip.  I took a deep breath when I saw it ahead of me.  Andy 1  Hill 0.

I made it, in less time than anticipated.  Unlike the early teen years, there were no breaks.  I surprised myself.

Other than the trip to KMart, it was the highlight of last week's vacation.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Andy's Angles: The Other Building

This is building is adjacent to the Moscow train station.

An internet search failed to turn up information.  I suspect it was for freight and/or storage, and I know some rail fan will enlighten me.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Andy's Angles: Train Station Saturday

We'll be featuring train stations on the next few Saturdays.  There is no particular reason.  I just happened to come across a few during some recent wandering.

Today, it's Moscow in Lackawanna County.

Below is a paragraph I lifted from the borough's web site.
The construction of a rail line from Scranton to the transportation hub of Hoboken, New Jersey increased the importance of the area not only for commerce but also as a destination for vacationers, who used the rail lines to visit the numerous local hotels built in this beautiful country setting. By the early 1900's there was even a daily commuter train called "the accommodation train" bringing workers from Moscow to Scranton. Today, the Victorian-era Moscow railroad station is a reminder of the profound influence rail transportation has had on this area.