*

*

Monday, February 29, 2016

One Leg At a Time

You knew it had to happen sooner or later.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio yesterday accused the media of hoping Donald Trump wins the nomination and becomes president.

I have news for Mr. Rubio.  The media is no different from the general public.  Our pants go on one leg at a time, just like yours.  We all have the same goal of wanting the best candidate to win.

There is disagreement over the identity of the best candidate.  I know many in the biz who still haven't made a choice.

I never did buy the "liberal media" thing.  Yes, there are a lot of liberals in American newsrooms.  There are also a lot of conservatives.  Most, as I like to put it, choose their issues a la carte.  Liberal on some issues, conservative on others.  I'd venture to say most are moderates.

The bottom line on this is to avoid the labels.

If and when we do choose candidates, it's in the privacy of the voting booth, and we take great care to prevent biased reporting.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Andy's Angles: Old and New

I'm not an architect or a designer, but I've long felt one of the hardest things to do is match old construction with new, and do it cost effectively-- especially in a public building.

Scranton Prep on Wyoming Avenue did a very good job.  The same can be said for what you see above-- the federal courthouse on North Washington Avenue in Scranton.  This was an early Tuesday morning camera phone shot.

The coolest feature is the atrium connecting the old and the new.  It's in the middle of the photo, near the streetlight.  It's neither a warm nor comforting building.  Plenty of stone, tile, steel, and glass.  Somehow, it all works together.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Andy's Angles + First Person

It's a bonus today-- two franchises in one.

Above is a photo of Main Street in Dupont, site of four water main breaks this week.  The leaks started Tuesday morning.

I don't think there's an area that covers water main breaks as extensively as this one.  First, it affects your life.  There's nothing worse than getting ready for your morning shower and finding dirty water, or no water at all.

Second, it's the legacy of the giardiasis crisis of the 80's.  If you are too young to remember, the water company at the time, Pennsylvania Gas and Water, specialized in sending water in to your home that would provide you with a lovely intestinal illness.

PG&W is long gone.  Its effects will remain for a very long time.  I'm convinced people with the company should have go to jail for negligence.  They knew unfiltered water supplies were a danger.  They thought chlorine could handle it.  The state stepped in and forced the company to build filtration plants, and they kindly gave you the task of paying for them.  Thanks.

Anyway, I was the closest person when the first main popped in Dupont.  A crew was on its way, but I was at the office, only a few miles away.  I was asked to get some still photos for WNEP.com.  There was a spare video camera handy, so I grabbed that.  A lot of what you saw at noon was stuff I shot.  I'm normally not a video guy, so it was a kick to see my stuff on the air.  I've shot video before.  It's nice to branch out.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Follow Up Friday

This week's radio nostalgia blog entries generated a lot of feedback.  Thank you.

1500 Twitter followers.  Thank you.  Thank you.

It's been an amazing winter, hasn't it?

I was driving to Wilkes-Barre yesterday morning, and witnessed two drivers with shredded tires after hitting a massive pothole along Interstate 81 south near the Avoca airport exit.  You know the interchange.  It's the one with the roundabouts no one, except Penndot engineers, want.  I was returning 90 minutes later, and saw three more cars, pulled over to the shoulder with flat tires.  There is no excuse for the situation lasting that long.  No excuse at all.

Underestimate Donald Trump at your own peril.

Academy Awards Sunday night.  Interest:  zero.  I'll probably watch Jimmy Kimmel's annual post-Oscar spectacular, one of his best shows of the year.

Antenna TV has been airing Johnny Carson reruns since 1/1.  I expected my interest to have waned after the novelty wore off.  It hasn't.  I continuously marvel at how easy Johnny made it look.

MLB Network starts airing spring training games next week.  The games don't count.  You don't know most of the players, but it's still baseball.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

That Season

I had two stops yesterday morning-- the barber shop and the car dealer.  The reason for the barber shop visit is obvious.  I was at the car dealer for an oil change and tire rotation.

They are two very different places.  Yet, they had something in common.

It seemed like everyone, in both places, was sick.

To say I was severely creeped out was an understatement.  I sat on my hands so I could avoid touching my face.  I washed every exposed part of my body when I got home, followed by a vitamin C tablet and a zinc tablet.

I'm not blaming one.  I've run errands and gone to work while sick.  You can't take a week off for a cold.  There is an illness going around the office, which, amazingly, I've been able to avoid.

There's really nothing you can do about it.  The germs are in the air.  Hard as you try, you can't avoid breathing.

I got a flu shot months ago, but that's not a 100 per cent guarantee of staying well.

All you can do is try to take care of yourself and hope for the best.

If I'm missing from your TV in the days to come, at least you know why.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Round and Round

Today, another radio memory, triggered by television.

Tonight, Newswatch 16's Nikki Krize is doing a special assignment report on the resurgence of vinyl records.  The medium was almost extinct.  Sales are up.  Way up.  There are many who believe vinyl sound is richer than anything the digital world has to offer.  Plus, there's the album cover art and the notes on the back.  I get that.

I literally was a disc jockey when I started in radio.  My Marywood College station had albums and turntables.  There were a few songs on tape cartridges and reels.  Not much.  Most of the big commercial stations had made the tape cartridge conversion by the time I walked in to Marywood in 1979.  My the way, Marywood College is now Marywood University.  The station was a ten watter at 91.5 FM during most of my time.  It's now more powerful and has moved up the dial to 91.7.

Again, part of Nikki's report deals with sound quality.  I'm not an audiophile.  I don't know much about the technical aspects of how things work.  I'm a content guy.

Still, I can vividly remember the sound and richness that came out of those big speakers in that small radio studio in the basement of Marywood's old library.  A few really jump out at me.  They sounded better than most.  Full. Rich.  You heard every note of every instrument.  Aerosmith's Dream On, and two by Elton John-- Lucy in the Sky and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.  Any time I hear one of those three, it takes me back to that little beige room, under all the books, back at college.  I don't know what it was about the recordings, the needles, the turntables, etc that made those songs, in particular, work so well.

Then, there are a couple that I call the headphone songs-- songs you have to hear on a great seat of headphones to fully appreciate them.  One of them is the title cut from Supertramp's Breakfast in America.  The other is Baker Street from Gerry Rafferty.   Do yourself a favor and try it one of these days.

One other turntable story...  my college radio station used to do an hour or two of classical music in the late afternoons.  Someone on the staff picked out the records.  All you had to do was put the records on the turntables, drop the needle, and read the notes off the back of the album cover, and pretend you were an expert on the genre.  A friend had to bail one day, and she asked me to fill in.  Being a nice guy, I said yes, even though classical clearly wasn't my thing.  I started the show, hit the switch on the turntable, and we were in business.  I walked in to the newsroom to check the wires and read the paper.   I listened to the station on the speaker out there.  The classical stuff chosen for me didn't sound bad.  Light, bouncy, nice.  After just a few minutes, I walked back in to the studio and noticed the album side was almost finished playing.  It was then that I noticed that I had the turntable on 45, not 33.  Oops.  I got  it straight for the rest of the show.

Am I going to rush out to buy a turntable, speakers and albums?  Never.  I enjoy digital too much, and really can't tell the difference.  It is so nice to tell my Amazon Echo what I want to hear, and Alexa magically plays it.

Still, I can appreciate the quality vinyl offers, and I fondly remember dropping the needle, all those years ago.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Snow Bunny

I have a couple of radio stories on tap for this week, and both have been triggered by television things.

Let me build my foundation.  We take skiing very seriously at WNEP.  It's a huge industry, pumping millions in to the area's economy.  Incomes depend on skiing and snow.  We get that.

During the early season snow drought and warm spell, we heard from a lot of skiers and people who depend on the ski industry to make a living.

We understand your problems.

Personally, I don't ski and I'm not a snow fan.  I don't like driving on it.  I constantly worry about family, friends, and coworkers who are out on slippery roads.  Don't give me the "Why don't you move if you hate it so much?" line.  I was born and raised here.  My family is here.  My job is here.  Let's move on.

Today's story is about community service and political correctness.  I worked in commercial radio from 1981 to 1991. WARM 590.   Loved it.

Every morning, during most of my time there, and it far pre-dated me, a woman from the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau would call in the ski conditions from area resorts.  Someone in the newsroom would record her report.  We'd play them on the air.  Remember, this was long before the internet.  There were many of these women over the years, and they all referred to themselves as "The Pocono Snow Bunny."

Could you imagine the politically correct uproar if The Pocono Snow Bunny reared her tail today?  I'd be hung by the toes if I called someone a "snow bunny."

The Bunny was around during a time when radio stations really cared about community service.  I don't remember, and I'm not sure if my station broadcast the ski resorts as a public service, or if money changed hands.  I suspect the latter.  I certainly hope so.  Nothing against The Bunny, but it was bad radio.  A woman, droning on about lifts, trails, bases and surfaces was rather boring.  It was done over a phone line, so the quality wasn't very good.

Eventually, The Bunny went away, hopping off in to radio history.  Don't ask me why.  Again, this was pre internet, so it's not like she abandoned radio in favor of a new medium.

Bye bye, Bunny.  You are fondly remembered.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Shaping Up

We've had a couple primaries and a couple caucuses.  This year's presidential political picture is becoming clearer-- a bit.

Hillary Clinton has yet to deliver a knock out punch to Bernie Sanders.  There is a string of southern primaries coming up, and I suspect that punch is on the way.

Sanders has a strong, loyal following, but when Democrats ask themselves who is more electable, they will likely land in Hillary's camp.

There are still some who believe Clinton's biggest opponent is a potential indictment rather than Bernie Sanders, and that may very well be true.  However, at this point, Mrs. Clinton is in the driver's seat.

On the Republican side, here is something no one is talking about yet-- the electoral college.  The Democrats start with California and New York in their pockets.  84 electoral votes total.  For a Republican to become president, he has to hope for a solid south (including Florida) and Rockies.  Plus, he has to pick off more than a few Great Lakes and mid Atlantic states.  That's tough.  Can you picture Ted Cruz doing it?  I don't know.  Trump?  Maybe.  Rubio?  Possible.

Jeb Bush pulled out of the race Saturday night.  It was a bad campaign.  He was attacked.  The response was rather feeble.  Jeb is a smart guy, who probably would have been a better than average president.  It seems like he let Trump define him, and recovering was a lost cause.

A USA Today writer says Bush bombed because this is the year of the anti establishment candidate.  Okay.  That explains Trump.  Possibly Rubio and Cruz.  They haven't been in the senate long.  Clinton?  The Democratic front runner is as establishment as you can get, but her gender would be new to the Oval Office.  Bernie Sanders has been in congress since 1991.  There's a lot of "establishment" on the ballot.

I don't know of anyone who strongly dislikes John Kasich.  On the other hand...  Is anyone really in love with the guy?  Stephen Colbert on CBS said Kasich seems reasonable, and that's why he won't go anywhere.  He seems capable of getting some of those mid Atlantic and Great Lakes states, and building coalitions in the south would be difficult.

It has been said you capture Republican primaries by running on the right.  To win the general, you swing back toward the center.  I'm not sure if any of these guys can do that.  Democrats are faced with the opposite task. Primaries on the left.  Drift toward the center when you want to grab the moderates.  Again, a difficult task.

And, what if a third party guy gets in, like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or Donald Trump, if he feels mistreated by the Republicans?  We'll be longing for the good old days, of the two month Bush/Gore stand-off.  Hey, at least it made a great movie on HBO.

Super Tuesday is March 1, the biggest primary day of the season.  We should know the nominees March 2.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Andy's Angles: Spillway

Today, it's another perspective on Dunmore Reservoir Number 1.

This is the spillway below the "lake."  It was chilly, but no ice.  I suspect the water was moving too fast, and it really wasn't cold enough.

Beautiful, nonetheless.

It was a rare sunny afternoon, and I'm glad I had a chance to take advantage of it.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Andy's Angles: Reservoir

Dunmore Reservoir 1, off Tigue and Dunham Streets has been here before, but I believe this is the first winter shot.

I didn't have a lot of time to spare Thursday afternoon.  However, the rare sunny afternoon was too wonderful to resist.  I grabbed my camera and did some very minor wandering.  It doesn't get much better than this.  Blue Sky.  Ice covered water.

I'm not a huge winter fan, but it does have its beauty.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Saturday

Voters in South Carolina go to the polls tomorrow, a Saturday.  It's one of a handful of states that allows weekend voting.

Bravo!

Every election, we hear how turnout is awful.  This is a presidential year, so I'm sure turnout around the country will be better than decent.  The Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary already produced big numbers.

Maybe we should change them all to Saturdays.  There would be fewer excuses as to why people didn't do their duty.  Make an event out of voting, not a chore.

I hasten to add that I've never missed an election in which I've been eligible, but we have to reach the casual Americans.

Part of me says that if you can't take 15 minutes out of your day, twice a year to vote, we shouldn't bend over backwards to make things easy for you, but I'm sure there are some who want to vote, but can't on a Tuesday.

Let's try it.  At least once.

The stakes have never been higher.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Help Me, Ronda

It takes a lot to get me to feel sorry for Ronda Rousey.  She's gorgeous, with a killer body.  A world class fighter, and I'm fairly certain her bank account is a tad larger than mine.

But you know what, I actually pitied the woman this week.

In a teary interview on Ellen, Rousey admitted to a quick contemplation of suicide after she lost a bruising fight with Holly Holm, in November.  Oddly enough, I watched the clip, on a news show, while at the gym.

Rousey fell in to a trap that's ensnared a lot of us over the years.  She let her job define her.  Rousey feared that no one would be interested in her if she lost her fighting championship.

As hard as you try to avoid it, it does happen.  You become your job.  Your job becomes you.  It's tough to tell where one begins and the other ends.

Been there.

To back up two decades, there was a span where I lost three jobs in two years.  Two were economic.  The third was making a stunningly stupid choice in places to work.  It wasn't a good fit.  I wasn't happy about being out of a job, but leaving that stifling, soul crushing, mentally draining, stomach acid producing, toxic, nightmare inducing atmosphere was actually a relief.

I've said it here before.  One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was walk into a state office and sign up for unemployment compensation.  It was humiliating, and I felt like the biggest failure in the world.  I let myself down.  I let down my family and friends.  Unemployment compensation is no gift.  I paid in to the system.  I deserved to get some help when I needed it.

The whole out of work things does change you.  Even though it was a long time ago, some insecurity is always there.  I've become ultra sensitive when it comes to issues affecting jobs and the unemployed.  I'm always calling or writing friends when I learn of something that could benefit them, help them move up and on.  It's a major kick when I can play even a tiny role in helping someone do better.

I was lucky.  Things eventually worked out.  I've had a great job for a long time, and I hope I can keep it a while longer.

The experience made me wiser, and when Ronda Rousey takes the time to think about the past several months, I think she'll realize she too is smarter than she used to be.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

First Person: Ice Storm

It was like one of those storms you get early in winter, or late in winter.  An ice storm.  Temperatures at this time of year are usually fairly frosty.  February storms are usually all snow, but not in this most unusual of winters.

I caucused (election year jargon) with Joe Snedeker before I left for the day Monday.  We were trying to agree on the location that would get the most snow and ice.  The answer?  Everywhere.  Honesdale was in the target area, so we settled on that.

Well, the best laid plans...

My Tuesday photography partner, Jason, got tied up on other overnight projects, as it was exceptionally busy.  Even though I got to the office early, there wouldn't be enough time to travel to Honesdale on ice covered roads, and still make our 4:30 AM slot.

Let me back up for a moment, and tell you about my Tuesday morning ride to work.  I left 15 minutes early, and it was a good thing.  Roads were a mess.  This was a tough storm.  Freezing rain on top of snow and sleet.  My solution was to avoid the interstate, in favor of a slow and steady route consisting of back roads and side streets.  There is no way out if you get stuck on an interstate, as we saw Tuesday morning.  If you encounter a problem on a borough or city street, there are a dozen ways to work around it.

We agreed on the Dickson City/Blakely border for our live shot location.  "The Anchor" is a well lit location with plenty of traffic.  We set up in a drug store parking lot-- close to the road, but far enough away to be safe.

I took the photo above around 4 AM, and it was nearly 40 degrees.  A light mist was falling.  We were lucky.  The heavy raid didn't fall until after our broadcast was complete.

As we were getting set up, there was a multi vehicle crash that closed Interstate 81 in Scott Township.  Ryan Leckey and photographer Corey dropped their internal Tuesday project to cover that.  The two road crews, plus the studio news and production staff put together a solid broadcast, much of which was done on the fly.

At 7 AM, photographer Jason and I worked on a story for our noon broadcast, then headed back to the office.  I banged out a script.  Editor Steve put it together and we were in business.

I drove home in an exceptionally heavy rain, and my work week came to an end.

There's more winter to come, and we might have to do it all over again next week.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Taste Test

On the surface, Maple Bacon Pop Tarts sound disgusting, but infringing on the territory of coworker Carmella Mataloni, I decided to give them a try.

Maple dominates, with only a minor hint of chemical tasting, slightly salty bacon.  The bacon doesn't overwhelm, and if you weren't told about it, you might not even be able to detect it.  The filling is all maple.  The bacon comes from granules stuck to the frosting.

It's like having one of those giant breakfast platters at a restaurant.  The pancake syrup occasionally flows over the touches the bacon or sausage, and you don't mind.  I do knows tho dip their sausage in to the syrup.  I'm not in that crowd.

The Pop Tart thing has become a bit of an inside joke here on the blog and at the station.  I'm good for a couple of packets a week, mostly when I arrive for work on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Personal favorites are unfrosted brown sugar/cinnamon and unfrosted strawberry.  I'll indulge in the others on occasion.  Smores is pretty good.  Peanut butter.  Chocolate.  Never blueberry.

Pop Tarts might not be the healthiest things for you, but they're more than adequate reporter food.  Inexpensive.  They stay fresh for a long time.  No cooking required.  Thanks to the foil packets, they stay dry when you're out covering snow storms, monsoons, and flooding.

Will I get them again?  Possibly.  There's a narrow window of opportunity.  Maple Bacon is a limited flavor.



Monday, February 15, 2016

Follow Up Monday

Today, a follow up to some recent news stories and blog entries:

WILKES-BARRE SCHOOLS:  The school board voted to buy or lease the Times Leader building.  It will house 11th and 12th graders from Coughlin while the old school is torn down and the new one is built.  The Times Leader is currently moving all of its operations into what used to be the Sunday Independent building on East Market Street.  The Times Leader option seems to be the most costly one, but at least it keeps kids off split schedules.  The board actually listened to parents and students.  I wonder what the reaction will be when the tax bills come.  The thing that sticks out at me after covering this story, and it's not just a Wilkes-Barre thing, is how alarmingly uninformed students are about the world around them.  They have access to more information than ever before, and use it less.

NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY:    No surprises.  Trump and Sanders win big.  Hillary Clinton is regarded as the Democratic front runner.  Yet, there are many days it appears she's down by a ton.  Maybe that's the way to do it.  Run hard.  Try hard.  Don't rest on what's perceived to be a lead.  The odds were stacked against her in New Hampshire.  Bernie Sanders is referred to as the state's third senator.  The pundits believe Trump is more vulnerable as the field is whittled down, so now it's the race for second.  It seemed people were settling on Cruz and Rubio, but Kasich's second place finish caused some to sit up and take notice.

COLD:   It happens.  It's only mid February.  We've had some huge snow storms and cold snaps in February and March.  Take a deep breath.  It will be over soon.

CAM NEWTON:    Big talent.  Short on maturity.  I'm willing to cut him some slack.  He's just a kid.  Read my pre Super Bowl blog entry.  I saw his problems coming.  Based on feedback, I was not alone.  There's a champion in there, somewhere.

DRIVING AND TEXTING:   A reader wonders if increasing fines is the answer.  It wouldn't hurt.  However, police are already stretched thinly.  There is a lot on their plate, in addition to texting and driving.  I'm constantly amazed at the lack of speed enforcement on Interstate 81 between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.  Let's start there.

WRONG WAY DRIVERS:  State and local police got together Friday morning to close Interstate 81 in Lackawanna County after a report of yet another wrong way driver.  There has been a rash of wrong way crashes lately.  You wonder how many lives could have been saved if the state and local cooperation existed earlier.  As for those who favor treadles and/or spikes as a way to stop wrong way drivers, drop that idea now.  Emergency vehicles often have to enter the interstates from the opposite direction to reach crash scenes faster.  Bad idea.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Andy's Angles: Stadium

I happened to be passing through Peckville the other morning, right after a snow squall blew through.

When you look at a cold, empty, and snow covered football stadium, it seems that winter will last forever.

Check the calendar.  It's mid February.  The Valley View Cougars will be back before you know it.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Andy's Angles: Diesels

I'm on one of those strange streaks.  When the weather is nice, I don't have the time to go out and play with the camera.

This one was taken on a recent grey morning, outside the Steamtown National Historic site in Scranton.

As I've noted here before, the diesels give me as much joy as the government collection.

Friday, February 12, 2016

I Smell Spring

This seems like a strange time to be posting this, but spring is on the way.  I can smell it.

It's one of the rites of spring, and one of the rites of the blog.  Every year at this time, I write about an increase in skunk activity.  More than the robin, more than the groundhog, the skunk tells me more about the change of season.

As spring approaches, the aromatic critters go looking for love and looking for food.  I first noticed it back on February 1.  I was driving to work, and noticed a skunk was unsuccessful in his attempt to cross South Keyser Avenue in Taylor.  No, I didn't do the deed, but I saw the aftermath.  It wasn't pretty.

That ugly incident was followed by several more sightings and smellings.  They've had a busy couple of weeks.  I'm guessing the skunks will sense the current set backs-- brutal cold, and this is the longest time we've had prolonged snow cover, at least in the Scranton area, so far this winter.

Regardless of the animal kingdom, you can sense winter is on its way to becoming history.  More daylight, a slightly stronger sun, spring clothes for sale at the mall, the new LL Bean catalog...

Thank you, Mr. Skunk, for offering a little bit of hope-- and clearing my sinuses.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Loser

Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers had a bad Super Bowl Sunday night.  There was a lousy news conference following the game.  80 words.  He was not gracious in defeat.

A few days later, Newton Said, show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.

You know what?  He's right.

Having said, Newton could have handled the post game news conference more professionally.  He was upset.  Naturally.  Newton needed to man up and answer the questions.

Losing is a fascinating subject.

Ben Maller of FOX Sports Radio always says the best stories are in the losing locker rooms.  More people are talking about Cam Newton this week than Broncos QB Peyton Manning.  Did he have anything interesting to say after the game?  Nope.  Cliches and a plug for Budweiser.

While I have covered a lot of sports, I've done more politics.  Losing candidates are infinitely more interesting than the winners, but no one wants to hear the losers.

I often think of that old 70's and 80's CBS game show, Tattletales.  If you don't remember it, or are too young, it was like a celebrity Newlywed Game, only it was with celebrities and they weren't necessarily newlyweds.  One question stuck with me.  "Have you learned more from your successes or your failures?"  For me, it was the failures.

Hillary Clinton said something after getting slammed in the New Hampshire primary the other night, and I'm paraphrasing.  She said stumbling and falling isn't important.  Getting back up, is.

I've had my stumbles.  Who hasn't?  I've gotten back up.  Some of it was perseverance.   Some of it was talent.  Some of it was just dumb luck.  Some of it was help from friends in the business.

Cam Newton has talent.  He might be lacking in the maturity department.  A lot of us were in that boat when we were in our mid 20's.  It will be interesting to see what the new season holds, beginning in September.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday Scrapple

"The Big Bang Theory" has turned into another average bickering couples sitcom.  There is still the occasional flash of wit and humor.  However, it is no longer "must see tv."

The new CBS Sports logo is underwhelming.

Winter goes by much quicker when there's no snow on the ground.

One of my former WARM program directors, John Hancock, has been working in Charlotte for several years.  He spent last week in San Francisco, for the Super Bowl.  John Instagrammed several photos last week.  It was nice to check in with an old friend.  Yes, John Hancock is his real name.  You can catch him 3-6 PM on WBT-1110.  Yes, they stream.

Hey, I was right about the Super Bowl.  And, also as predicted, I didn't watch a second of it.  I go back to my mantra:  defense wins games.

I don't eat chicken wings.  I like chicken.  I like spicy.  However, I don't want to fight to get a little greasy piece of meat un-stuck from a bone.

The New York newspapers say John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman have signed on to do the Yankees games on radio for another two years.  Guess what I won't be listening to.  These two are simply awful.

I actually had a guy call me Monday and demand we investigate Lady Gaga allegedly mispronouncing a word during the Super Bowl national anthem.  He said he saw it on Facebook, and we all know everything on Facebook is absolutely true.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not So Smart

It has reached epidemic proportions and it shows no signs of slowing down.  It has to stop.

I've experienced a rash of drivers lingering at traffic lights, long after the light has flipped to green, because they're busy playing with their phones.

Having to deal with distracted drivers, because people were talking and driving at the same time was bad enough.

Now, drivers feel the need to check texts and e-mails at red lights.  They're not ready to go when the light turns green.

Hey!  Stop that!  Stop it now!

Whatever it is, I'm sure it can wait.  If it can't wait, pull over and play with your phone in a parking lot.

Stop wasting my time.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Time On Your Side

If all goes as planned, the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board will decide on half day sessions for Coughlin High School students.  Some would start earlier and get out around noon.  The rest would be in session for the afternoon, leaving around 5.

It should never have reached this far.  It's no secret the buildings in the district have been deteriorating.  It's reached crisis stage.  Kids and parents suffer because no one took the bull by the horns years ago.

The plan is to close Meyers, combine it with Coughlin, and put up a new building near North Washington and Union.  Of course, that takes time.  Buildings are falling apart.  A short term solution is necessary because previous school boards kicked the can down the road instead of making the tough calls.

I feel sorry for families where some kids will go in the morning, others in the afternoon.  It won't be easy.  Extracurriculars will be a challenge, but let's not lose sight that education comes first.

Having built the foundation, let me launch in to the reason for today's entry.

I went to school for half days beginning in February of my sophomore year, and all of my junior year.  Two buildings in my very sorry excuse for a school district were condemned.  They were fire traps. We were crammed in to one building.  Classes were held in every square foot of free space, including a disgustingly smelly weight/workout room.  I was lucky.  I went in the morning, and I was always a morning guy.

That year and a half of half days was fantastic.  The reason?  Well, it was less time exposed to incompetent administration and disconnected, lazy, uninspired  faculty.  (Yes, there were a few exceptions.)  I used my afternoons to go to real libraries, with real reference materials and real books.  I wasn't confined to that closet my school district called a library.  It was almost like an independent study program.  I probably spent as much time at Penn State's Dunmore campus as some of the college students, and I also bopped into Marywood's library once in a while.

Coughlin students, you have the Ousterhout, plus Kings and Wilkes.  Don't rely on the school district for your education.  Be aggressive.  Go out and learn something with your new found free time.  You could come out of this with a better education than you ever could have imagined.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Andy's Angles: Big Boy

I've had better trips to Steamtown.  It was no one's fault.

A camera itch struck me last week.  It was a grey morning.  Not much was going on at the park.

Big Boy is perhaps Steamtown's signature piece-- one of the largest, if not the largest, ever to pull duty here in the USA.  It's an amazing piece of machinery, and you really should stop by to see it in person some day.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Andy's Angles: The Courthouse

It is one of our area's signature buildings, especially if you're in the news business.  This is an early morning shot of the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

If you've spent any time in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton media, chances are, this building has been home for weeks, months, years.

There is always something going on here-- trials, warring commissioners, Kids for Cash, budget problems, personnel issues, a new county council, costly renovations...

The building, while spectacular from the outside, needs some attention to the inside.  Water's leaked.  Murals need restoration.  a top to bottom cleaning wouldn't hurt.

Friday, February 5, 2016

50

It's time for my annual Super Bowl pick.

I preface this by saying I'm the guy who predicted a New England/Arizona Super Bowl a few weeks ago.

Offense is sexy.  Defense wins games.

I've looked at several sites.  Most have installed Carolina as roughly a 5 point favorite.  That's a lot.

I'm not sold on Peyton Manning.  He's not the QB he used to be.

Cam Newton is exceptionally talented.  His excessive celebrations trouble me.  It shows a lack of discipline.  Plus, those who celebrate wildly often struggle greatly when things don't go their way.

I like the way Denver shut down New England in the AFC championship game.

Carolina demolished Arizona in the NFC game, and that was impressive as well.

Statistics rank Denver as the stronger defense.

I'm taking Denver and the points.    Carolina is clearly capable of winning this game, but if they do, they will squeak by.

As always, my Super Bowl disclaimer:

The game is after my bed time.  I won't watch.  I don't care.  I'll probably watch a replay on the NFL Network.  CBS Sports is changing its logo and graphics.  I'd like to see that, although I'm not impressed with the logo that's leaked out.  CBS is using 62 cameras, and it will be interesting to see what the network does with that arsenal at its disposal.   Nothing bores me more than a discussion of Super Bowl commercials.  If you see me coming, change the subject, or advise me to keep moving.  The only funny spot from the last 50 years was the Letterman/Leno/Oprah thing several years ago.  I can watch Cindy Crawford drink a Diet Pepsi all day.  That's it.  That's the list.

Enjoy the game.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

About the Cover

My photography queue was running low.  There are a few "go to" areas when that happens:  Lackawanna State Park, the Pittston riverfront, Blakely Park, and of course, Steamtown.

It was a grey morning, and I really had the goal of shooting a colorful train.  The yellow and maroon Lackawanna Railroad engine was on my list, but it was nowhere to be found.

So, I walked over to the Trolley Museum, to get a shot of the red and blue SEPTA trolley.
The trolley has been on the blog before, but never in the prized header area.

According to Frank Dutton's blog, the trolley was built in 1931, and retired in 1995.

Scranton area trolleys were long gone by the time I came around.  They must have been great fun.  I wonder if people will say the same thing about COLTS buses fifty years from now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Unfinished Wednesday

Scranton is having some parking garage structural issues.  As the city sees it, the mostly likely solution is cutting off the top decks and reducing capacity.  Isn't that typical Scranton?  Think small.

The man accused of robbing several businesses in the Pittston area admits he's a drug addict.  Heroin.  Cocaine.  Raise your hand if you're surprised.

I knew people outside of New England don't like Tom Brady, but the depth of the hatred is amazing.  He's an exceptionally talented man, but also a cheater and a whiner.

It is so nice to go through major stretches of winter without pre storm anxiety.

Presidential candidates have already debated several times, and there are more to come. Bravo!  Everyone benefits from an exchange of ideas   But, does anything new really come out of all those debates?

Pot Hole Season has arrived early.

An OJ Simpson mini series/movie is in the works.  It's dredging up memories of one of the sorriest episodes in American justice history.  Inept prosecutors.  A judge who lost control of his courtroom, and defense attorneys who took full advantage of it.

MSNBC apparently thinks Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams will made a good political anchor team.  NBC is trying to rehabilitate Williams into a trusted and impartial anchor.  Why saddle him with someone so opinionated and biased?

It's 2016, and some Iowa caucus results were decided by the flip of a coin.  Are you kidding me?  There has to be a better way.  I've been reading a lot of stuff that already anoints Ted Cruz as the Republican presidential nominee, based on one state.    Marco Rubio, who finished in third place, could be the big winner here.

It's strange to drive down on Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton and not see COLTS buses.  The hub is now at the new station, way out of the way, on Lackawanna Avenue.

We lost former state representative Tom Tigue the other day. Always nice to me.  Very professional.  Tigue served his country and his district.  My sympathy to family and friends. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hot Potato



The supermarket is full of impulse buy temptations.  If you want to avoid issues, maneuver your way around the sugary cereals, the ice cream, the frozen pizzas, and just about everything in the bakery.

You never associate the produce section with an impulse buy.  "Hey, there's some juicy looking kiwis." SAID NO ONE EVER!

There is a first time for everything.

I was making the pre dawn rounds at near by expansive supermarket last week when I saw baking potatoes that were the size of Buicks.  I couldn't resist.

Even though it was well before sunrise, I popped one in the microwave as soon as I got home.  And, yes, purists, I know they're better in a conventional oven, but I didn't have the time.  There are times when microwaving a giant potato is a challenge.  The ends cook before the middle.  I found you should take it out of the oven a few minutes early, and let it sit for a few.  The internal steam finishes it off quite nicely.

A little butter.  A little salt.  A lot of fresh ground black pepper.  Heaven.

If I was going to buy something on impulse, I'm glad it was something moderately healthy, even with a little butter.  It was filling.  Guilt free.  I could have made a worse choice.

The potato thing is out of my system for a while.  I can go through the produce section without fear of impulse.

I wonder what my next choice will be.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Start

And so it begins...

Iowa caucuses tonight.  Presidential campaigns will be on the road to success or ruin, based on one small state, on one cold winter night.

Fates will be sealed in eight days, when New Hampshire goes to the polls.

It's a refrain we hear every four years.  Two tiny states have far too much influence over the process, and it's a valid argument.

A national primary, or even a series of regional primaries every four years seems to make more sense, be more fair.

However, this country was built on states' rights, and this is clearly an example of that.

Regardless, that's our current system.  It's not a surprise.  Candidates have to work in that framework, and the rest of us will deal with the fallout.

The Pennsylvania primary is April 26.  Ed Rendell, when he was governor, wanted to move it up so Pennsylvanians would have a louder voice in the process.  Tell someone in Potter County they could be voting in a snow storm in February or March.  It wasn't feasible, and the proposal went nowhere.

Perhaps the solution is for an end to the super early voting and get everyone on the same page, a later page.

Surprises so far?

Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz is stronger than I thought.

Marco Rubio is on the "almost breaking through" list.  I still think he'll be the vice presidential nominee.  John Kasich would also be a solid second.

Even though they are very different people, I thought Rand Paul would inherit some good will from his father's followers.

Rick Santorum won Iowa four years ago.  Now, he's barely a blip.

I always felt Bush would struggle, but I didn't think he's be so far back in the pack.

Chris Christie:  ditto.

Hillary Clinton can't knock off a 74 year old Socialist.

A 74 year socialist has such a strong following.

John Kasich can't get noticed.

I do enjoy watching the networks go whole hog on Iowa coverage-- building sets, dragging out the big anchors, tons of graphics, interviewing every candidate and citizen who moves.

It will be a fascinating day and night-- and it will all be picked apart tomorrow.

On to New Hampshire February 8.