Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Taste Test

Apologies to friend and co-worker Kerry Brazen, who does the Taste Test on Newswatch 16 Tuesday evenings.

I saw this on the supermarket shelf, and I had to have it.

I like hot and spicy, but not the insane stuff

This salsa is hot and the heat stays with you for a while.  You can also taste the other ingredients.  There are times when the heat can overwhelm everything else, but not here.

The main plus was the texture.  Tostitos salsa can be watery, but this stuff was thick and chunky.

It's not the freshest tasting stuff,.  However, it's good enough.

Thumbs up!

Monday, September 25, 2017


A Newswatch 16 story by Carolyn Blackburne a few weeks ago got me interested.

Wilkes University just moved its communications program into a new building along South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, and I had to see it.  An e-mail to the radio station manager made it happen, and I thank Kristen Rock for her hospitality.

I didn't want to appear to be the wide eyed tourist that I was, so I didn't take any photos during my visit.  I lifted this one from the WCLH Facebook page.  This is the radio station.  The windows on then left look onto South Main.  The one on the right has a view of a very nice courtyard that connects the newer sections of the campus to what was already there.  There's a speaker outside to people outside can hear what's going on.  It's light and bright and airy, and being so visible affords the chance to build a connection to the community.

A television operation is down the hall, along with the student newspaper, The Beacon.

They have all the technology, and they have all the toys.  More importantly, I had the chance to talk with a few students-- and they're all thrilled with the opportunities presented in the new building.

Thanks to the Wilkes faculty I met during the tour.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Andy's Angles: Another View

Yesterday, it was the Wyoming Valley.  Today, the Lackawanna Valley gets its turn.

This is the view from the office/business park on top of the mountain in Jessup.  That's the Casey Highway in the foreground.  Jessup is on the left.  The shot looks to the south and west.  Scranton is off to the left.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Andy's Angles: Up High

Admittedly, this weekend's photos are far from great, but I hope you look past the shortcomings to see the nice parts.

This is the view from the 8th floor of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Plains Township.  The day will come when I will write about my adventures here, and believe me, I have a lot to say.

This is the view to the north and west.  The Kidder Street commercial corridor is on the left.  Downtown Wilkes-Barre is just out of frame, to the left.

Friday, September 22, 2017


I've written about this before, but it's been a while.

WalMart founder Sam Walton had a concept.  If you looked carefully, you could see an MBWA sign near the office area in his stores.  It stood for Management By Walking Around.  Walton didn't want his managers in the office.  He wanted them out on the floor, looking around, seeing what worked, what didn't, talking to customers, talking to employees...

I don't manage anything, but I do walk around, ride my bike, and observe...

Some recent mental notes include the following:

We love pizza.  It seems there's a constant stream of pizza delivery cars patrolling the streets, and the big boxes in the trash afterward.

An internet pet supply company appears to be exploding.  The package companies are always dropping off those boxes with the blue logo.  They are a frequent sight on area porches.

All my evidence is anecdotal, but it appears there's an uptick in homes for sale.

And if you're selling a house, off street parking is surely a plus.  Parking is at a premium in most neighborhoods.

We still haven't gotten a handle on the pothole problem.  There are some really rough streets out there.

Is fracking on the upswing?  A local hotel used to be filled with gas industry workers.  It was quiet for a long time.  Now, the parking lot is filled again.

I never get tired of seeing skunks and bunnies.  I can do without possums.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pleasant Surprise

I landed a fun assignment Tuesday morning-- preview the Triple A Championship Game at Lackawanna County Stadium.  Yes, I know it has a "paid for" name.

Photographer Jason and I pulled in at 4:00 AM.  The overnight clean up crew was on duty.  They had no problem with out presence.  The lights were on.  So were the sprinklers.

I was back for another report at noon, and for the first time, I had the time and the opportunity to wander up to the club level.  Impressive.  In fact, the stadium appears to be holding up well.  It's clean and well maintained.  From what I understand, the finances are being to hit that danger zone, putting it out of reach of some families.  That's another story for another time.

I'll level with you.  I didn't expect much of a crowd for the game Tuesday night, and that's where the "Pleasant Surprise" title for today's blog entry comes in.  9000+ to watch the Durham Bulls defeat the Memphis Redbirds for the AAA championship.  They did it right-- especially the Fan Fest before the game.

It tickles me to see our area support big events, and that means more down the road.

Enjoy the off season.  Baseball's back in April.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Scrapple

I saw 2018 calendars in the dollar store last week, and I understand Christmas decorations are going up in some stores.  I know that's not unusual, but the year really has flown by.

Why can't I keep the inside of my car windshield clean?

A business in Luzerne County is having a Middleswarth potato chip eating contest in November.  Big fan.

The only time I don't like above normal temperatures is in the summer.

Fall is a great time of year, but it does make me sad to see trees drop their leaves.

Sunday night's Emmy awards broadcast was full of political stuff.  Ratings were awful.  Connection?

One teachers' strike underway.  More to follow.  Not taking sides, but there has to be a better way.

Circle of Life:  Toys R US put the mom and pop stores out of business.  Now, WalMart and Amazon are crushing Toys R Us.  The company has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and it will remain in business, at least for a while.

Walgreens is swallowing up half the Rite Aid chain.  Can someone explain how life will be better?

Apple's new product announcements fail to excite me.

Major League Baseball set a home run record this season.  It's not hard to see why.  Stronger players, smaller ballparks, and there are those who swear the baseballs are wound tighter.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Food Fads

As I wandered through the supermarket, looking at pumpkin spice everything, I started thinking about food fads.  Before I move along, pumpkin spice does absolutely nothing for me.  I guess it triggers warm fall thoughts, and it's a nice comfort flavor.  Personally, I think it's overdone.

Then, a coworker and I were having an on-line conversation about bagel sandwiches.  We were both in agreement.  Bagels make every sandwich better.  Yes, a bagel is calorie laden and not necessarily the most nutritious thing-- especially when you throw in a fried egg, a slice of cheese, and a few pieces of bacon.  You can't deny the delicious.
There used to be a bagel shop in Kingston, near the site of the old Price Chopper.  I don't remember the name, but I do remember what I always ordered there-- chicken salad on an onion bagel.  The bagel, in and of itself, was awesome.  The chicken salad contained the standard ingredients, but the chicken was diced rather than shredded.  I had never seen anything like it before, and I have yet to find it anywhere else.  It was a tremendous combination.

Speaking of sandwiches and breads, whatever happened to the pretzel bun fad?  That one came and went quickly.  I remember having a ham and cheese with spicy mustard on a pretzel bun from a mini mart.  Words could not express my glee.  The ingredients worked so well with the pretzel bun.  I don't even know if the option is available these days.  I do know the advertising has stopped, and that's sad.  It was nice for a change.

Again, bread isn't the best thing for you, but I always believed the best part of the pizza is the crust and the most important part of the sandwich-- especially a submarine, is the bread or roll.

Food fads come and go.  That's why they call them fads, and once in a while, it gives me material for a blog entry.

Monday, September 18, 2017


One of the local newspapers that's having trouble getting its issues out on the streets has a new circulation manager.  I sincerely hope things improve.

While I envy young people, and all the technology they have available to them, I'm sorry they missed out on the newspaper glory days.  It was such a thrill to hear the thump on the front porch, signaling the arrival of the morning paper, or the one that used to publish in the afternoon.  The world was on your doorstep, plus the comics!

On a similar note, ABC's overnight broadcast, during Hurricane Harvey, played clips of its broadcasts from Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago.  Peter Jennings anchored World News Tonight.  Ted Koppel was the face of Nightline.  Pardon the pun, it blew me away.

First, the theme music.  Heavy on horns, and that signature four note opening that let you know ABC was on the air.  I'm so sorry the network has drifted away from that.  WNT and Nightline were big on solid story telling and light on theatrics.

How I miss those days.

I also miss going to the big box office supply stores and wandering through the software aisle.  Graphics programs, games, assorted other utilities...  Most of that, except for anti virus software is gone.  No more dvd's.  Everything is a download.  Much more efficient.  Much less fun.

By the way, Reminiscing has always been one of my favorite songs.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Andy's Angles: Boots

I'll give the organizers of the annual SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Ride credit for trying to do something a little different every year.  It takes it from a three hour event on a Sunday afternoon to a weekend filled with tributes and memories.

This year, it was this-- a memorial boot garden.  The boots came from veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The names on the boots represent men who served in Korea, and never made it home.

And, there was more-- a life sized tribute to those who served in Korea, called the forgotten war.

Admittedly, it's tough to be objective here.  My dad is a Korean War veteran and I know the Argonish family.  Even without the connections, it was a powerful weekend.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Andy's Angles: The Ride

It's something I've been doing for the past five years-- stopping by the SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Ride.  SGT Argonish was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.  Sunday's ride was the 10th annual.

I first met Jan's father when a park was dedicated in Jan's name several years ago.  Mike Argonish was already a member of the gym I joined in 2012.  We were frequently there at the same time-- the middle of the night.  I always looked forward to our conversations.  It was amazing that a man who had endured so much pain could always bring a smile to my face with a little story, or even something as mundane as small talk.

I put Mike on TV a few times over the years.  It was clear he didn't like the spotlight, and wasn't comfortable with it.  Yet, Mike knew the value of publicizing the cause.  He didn't go on TV for me.  He did it for Jan and all those helped by the charity.  Mike was more than kind and generous with his time.  The yearly ride raises thousands to help veterans.  This year's take was about $30,000.  That's impressive.

I didn't meet Jan's mother, Nancy, until late last year.  I was in the hospital with my father, who was having a procedure.  To say the least, it was an exceptionally difficult day, and a very long day.  Nancy's kindness and professionalism made it much easier on my father and I.  Like her husband, Nancy isn't fond of the spotlight, but fate had other plans.  I can feel the family's pride.  I can also see their pain.

I always remember something my old friend Kevin Jordan said close to twenty years ago.  A co-worker lost a son in a crash.  We were at the funeral home.   Kevin said something that horrible shouldn't happen to a family so nice.  The same could be said of the Argonish  family.

Although I'm sorry about the circumstances that brought me in to their orbit, I'm happy I know them.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Last Day

Another vacation is coming to an end...

Status report:  I slept a little, rode my bike, went to the gym, went for some walks, took some photos, and visited KMart.

I also read the book you see above.  Regular blog readers will know Allen Ludden, who died in 1981, is a hero.  The reason is simple.  Every time Allen Ludden walked out on stage, he looked like he was having the time of his life.  I admire the enthusiasm.  He also treated every contestant with dignity and respect-- having fun at the right times, always moving the game along, never forgetting the game was the star.

After reading the book, my assessment is correct.

Yes, he was exacting, fussy, and flashed temper at times (remind you of anyone?)  The positives far outweigh the negatives.  Ludden was a huge advocate for education, listening to young people, and he loved animals.

I consider myself an old game show geek.  Yet, I learned quite a bit by reading the book.

The book was enjoyable, even though you knew it wouldn't have a happy ending.

By the way, October 5 is the 100th anniversary of Allen Ludden's birth.

Hope to see you soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Take 2

Wow!  It's been a long time since I've done one of these.  So long, I couldn't find the old Take 2 logo, and I had to make a new one.

To get you up to speed, it's a little like "Unfinished Business" and "Follow Up File."  It's a revised opinion on a previous topic.  More often than not, I will admit when I'm wrong.

Today, it's Tony Romo.

The Dallas Cowboys' quarterback retired last year and took a job with CBS Sports.  The head of the sports division took the gutsy move and installed a rookie as part of the #1 NFL team.  Back when it happened, I said it was an unwise move.  Groom the guy.  Give him lesser games.  Learn the craft.  In a few years, he'll be ready for the top.

While I didn't see and hear Romo's regular season debut, I have read the reviews.  They are all consistently very good.  The head of CBS Sports now looks like a genius, and the hesitant crowd, including me, appear to be ninnies.

I was wrong-- to a limited extent.  Even though Romo's first game was good, I still would have taken the conservative route.

Although, I'm reminded of something Larry King once said about risk takers:  They're hurt more, but they're also rewarded more.

Bottom line:  CBS seems to have found itself a new star, and former #1 analyst Phil Simms has a nice new home in the studio.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Crazy Train

There is a lot about pop culture and social media I don't understand now, and probably never will understand.

I'll write what I believe is a thoughtful and interesting piece here, or on Facebook.  It won't move the needle.  Do something goofy, and hits go through the roof.

That's OK.  I've learned that's how things work.  While there is plenty of information available via social media, it's generally used for fun and entertainment.

There is a parallel to be drawn here.

I don't know when the WNEP Backyard train first appeared.  I don't know why it was put there.  I suspect it was a fun way to dress up the hill behind the waterfall.  Retired Chief Meteorologist Tom Clark likes trains, and so do I.  My desk is near the windows looking out in to the backyard.  In times of stress, I do glance out there and watch the train circle again and again.  Even in the middle of summer, a toy train takes you back to Christmas as a child.  I can still see it in my mind.  Part of it makes me sad because those days are long, long gone, never to return.  The majority, though, makes me smile.  Great times.  I was so lucky.  Still am.

That brings us to 2017.

We've provided accurate forecasts from the backyard for years, but once in a while, something flares up-- like decorations, or a plant.  We had a great debate over a weepy looking evergreen out there.  It all pales in comparison to the train.

Talkback callers apparently caught the eye and the ear of John Oliver and his HBO staff.  It's been a running joke for a while.  Oliver took it to the next level by building a fantastic train display, and offering to give it to the station.  Even though I'm on vacation, my Twitter and e-mail lit up.  Will the station accept the gift?  What will we do with it?

I can't speak for management, but we will take it.  One of our managers solicited staff suggestions, and it seems just about all of us are on the same page.   I can't go into detail because plans aren't in concrete.  All I can say is I believe a lot of good will come from this.

There is one other issue that needs to be addressed.  Many feel Oliver is making fun of our viewers for caring so much about the backyard train.  I stopped subscribing to HBO when "The Newsroom" ended production, but I have seen the clips from Oliver's show.  I can't mike up my mind.  Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  Yes, there might be an edge to Oliver's comments.  I honestly don't think it's that big of a deal.  We've been through worse.

John Oliver, thank you for the train.  I'm looking forward to its arrival here in our area.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Clowning Around

Like the turning leaves, colder weather and pumpkin spice everything...  there is another sure sign of fall-- horror movies.  The latest new one, "It," set box office records over the weekend.

America loves to be frightened.

Not me.

Real life is scary enough.

More than enough.

As I type this, images of damage from Hurricane Irma fill the television screen just off to my right.  Many of the cable channels have programs related to the 9/11 anniversary.  The head of North Korea is playing with atomic bombs.  Parts of the middle east are still under the influence of terrorist groups.  We can't get along with Russia, and vice versa.  Parts of Mexico have been devastated by an earthquake.  Big parts of the west are on fire.  It costs a fortune to fill your gas tank.  Sectors of the retail industry are collapsing.

I won't even begin writing about personal problems.  We all have them.  Some, more than most.

You can keep you horror movies.  At least, the fright is over when you leave the theater or turn off the television.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Unfinished Monday

When I was recently whining about the seemingly slow progress of some local construction projects, I forgot to include Blakely Street in Dunmore.  Traveling through the borough is never easy, even on a good day.  Close one of the lanes of the main thoroughfare, and you have a nightmare.  On the bright side, it looks like it's almost complete.

By now, you've read another story on how Joe Paterno knew Jerry Sandusky was up to no good, long before his crimes were made public.  I really can't see how the pro Paterno forces can mitigate this.  There are two sides to every story, and Joe isn't around to tell his.  Still, you can't avoid the evidence.

Another NFL season is here, and that's always fun.  I still don't get "fantasy football" and my eyes glaze over when the topic comes up.  National radio networks devote a lot of time to it, so I dive for the dial.  However, if you enjoy it, have a great season.

Most of the Hurricane Irma reporting was responsible.  A few grandstanders were out with their "Hey, look at me" antics.  The storm had to hit the U.S. when some commentators tried to spin the recent rash of hurricanes into something political.  There is a time for that.  It's not now.

I do have to note that the networks have some fantastic big screens to help with their maps and their story telling.  Great technology.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Andy's Angles: Remembering and Helping

It's another pre dawn Friday photo from the traveling Korean War memorial set up behind Jessup Hose Company #2 in Jessup.

Today, the 10th annual SGT Jan Argonish Memorial Ride is set to begin at noon.  SGT Argonish was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.  I never met him, but I do know his father, and I'm proud of that fact.  I can see his pride, and I can also see his pain.

There is food and entertainment before and after, so you don't need a motorcycle to help.

All the information you need is right here.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Andy's Angles: Remembering

A memorial to the Korean War is up this weekend behind the Jessup Hose Company # 2 in Lackawanna County.

This is a photo from well before sunrise yesterday morning.  It's moving, and if you're in the area, I strongly recommend stopping by for a few minutes.  It's open around the clock, until 5 tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, September 8, 2017


Regular blog readers know that a sleeping Homer appearance means I'm on vacation.  My time off actually began Labor Day at noon.

Ever since I've been earning vacation time, in the early 80's, I've taken a week or so in September.  It's a great month.  The weather cools off.  Kids are back in school.  Nothing is crowded.

There is a down side.  The news business usually picks up after the summer doldrums.  As I'm locking up my desk, there is always a story or two I'm sorry I won't be doing.  As I write this, teachers in a few school districts are on the verge of striking.  A major hurricane, one of the strongest ever, is headed for the U.S. mainland.

I've already accomplished a few of my vacation goals, including a visit to KMart.  It's not a happy place.  I've been on my bike.  I've visited the gym.  But then again, those are things I do every week.

The weekend morning broadcasts are in the very capable hands of Stacy Lange.  I'll see you on the internet until I'm back at work.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

First Timer

Never been to Spain, but I've been to Oklahoma.
--Three Dog Night

I was exchanging internet notes with my friend, Shauna recently.  I asked about her recent trip to Olive Garden, and I admitted I had never been to one.  She was shocked.  That prompted me to list the chain restaurants I've never visited.  It's nothing against these places.  I just never had the desire or opportunity.

--Buffalo Wild Wings
--Texas Roadhouse
--Lone Star
--Old Country Buffet
--Bob Evans
--California Pizza Kitchen
--Cheesecake Factory
--Ci Ci's Pizza
--Dave & Buster's
--Eat n Park
--Golden Corral
--Logan's Roadhouse
--Planet Hollywood
--Hard Rock
--Shake Shack
--Steak n Shake
--Tilted Kilt

And, this is only a list of chain restaurants with outlets in the northeastern United States.  I'm sure I've missed more than a few.

While this list is long, so is the list of places I HAVE visited.

I'm sure all these places are perfectly fine, but as I look at the list, nothing jumps out at me as a restaurant I MUST try.

I'm sure the list will be whittled down, ever so slightly, in time.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Time Flies

Patience is a virtue. I get that.  I understand that.

Having said that, doesn't it seem like it's taking a horribly long time to complete the Harrison Avenue bridge project in Scranton and the bridge project along Interstate 81 in the Pittston area?

I realize that both are still within the parameters announced by PennDot when both projects started.  Still, it seems like an eternity.

I've seen bigger projects completed in less time.  Yes, I do know that fixing a road like Interstate 81, while it is still open, is like changing a flat tire on a moving car.  Yet, I can't get over the fact that it takes a long time, a very long time, to get things done around here.

I went to a liberal arts school.  I'm a broadcaster, not an engineer or construction worker.  But, even I can see that there has to be a better and more efficient way.

Staying with our time theme of the day, I was talking with a neighbor the other day.  I've known this guy since kindergarten, and that's 50 years.  As he pruned a tree he severely cut back just a few years ago, we noted how quickly the tree grew back, and how quickly time has passed.  When we were in school, the time between the start in September, and the end in June seemed like an eternity.  Now, it passes in the blink of an eye.

And, I think I've reached a strange stage in my life.  When you work overnights, summers aren't fun.  They're filled with heat, noise, and bright light.  I tend to sleep better in fall, winter, and early spring.  As Simon & Garfunkel once said, "Hello darkness, my old friend."  I never thought I'd say this, but winters pass more quickly than summers.

No matter what the month, the pages of the calendar flip far too quickly.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

About the Cover

This used to be the Dickson City KMart.  It closed several weeks ago, one of several the Sears/KMart chain has been shuttering recently.

It's clear the company is in big trouble.  It seems there's a story a day in the business trade publications/web sites.

I remember watching them build this place, carving a plateau out, just off Route 6.  I could see it from my home, occasionally getting out binoculars for a better look.  It was a cool little plaza at one time-- KMart, supermarket, movie theater, sub shop.  The only thing left is the movie theater building, now a church.

It will be interesting to see what becomes of the property.  Traditional brick and mortar retail is shrinking.  The store is an island.  Most of the retail activity has moved down the road.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day

I've really done a turn around on Labor Day.

When I was a little kid, Labor Day meant dread-- the end of the summer, the beginning of school.

When I hit my teens, Labor Day meant anticipation.  I still wasn't thrilled with going back to school, but I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  There was a definite "Let's get this over with" attitude.

Labor Day in college didn't mean much.  Yes, new semester, new classes.  But, I attended class every summer, so it really wasn't much of a change.  School was a year-round thing.

After college, and when I began working, I always managed to schedule a vacation week for September.  This year is no different.  More on that later in the week.

Remember what the day is all about.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Andy's Angles: Watch Cats

Cats have this thing about boxes and window sills.  They love them.

This is Nathan, on the right, and his friend, Jonah, keeping an eye on the kitchen and the back yard.

No worries when the cats are on duty.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Andy's Angles: Steamtown

It's another video today, actually shot last week at Steamtown. It's a passenger excursion train backing in to the yard.

And a reminder that it's RailFest Weekend at Steamtown. My work schedule prevents me from stopping by, but I read where there are some neat displays on hand. I'm sure a web search will turn up plenty of photos and videos.

Enjoy the rest of Labor Day weekend!

Friday, September 1, 2017


Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial start of summer, so that means Labor Day is the unofficial start of fall.

We all say it every year...  summer flies by, and it gets faster with every passing year.

It's amazing, and a little sad, how quickly things cool off.  There was a big chill in the air during one of my early morning bike rides this week.  It won't be long before the bike is put away for the season, but I hope for another stretch of weather like we had two years ago.  I was riding right up to the week before Christmas.

Fall is a great time of year-- cool, without being cold.  My only beef with autumn is it doesn't last long enough.  The leaves hit their peak and fall away.  Those light autumn jackets give way to things heavier.  Windshield frost becomes thick and heavy.  You have to scrape it off rather than just let the defroster and windshield do the trick.

Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.  Enjoy the fall.  We'll be shoveling snow before you know it.