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Monday, October 22, 2018

Surrender

Yes, I've surrendered to colder weather, and there are a few items to illustrate it.

First, I've mothballed my bike for the season.  As regular readers know, I ride early in the morning, and only when it's above 50 degrees.  Looks like our 50 degree mornings are over for a while, so my chain has been lubed and the bike is under cover for a few months.

It's been a mixed season.  I've ventured out on fewer rides, but for longer distances.  Most rides have been in the teens and twenties.  I topped out at 31.3 miles a couple of months ago.  On the other hand, the weather this summer was awful.  Too rainy.  Too hot.  Too humid. 

The stationary bike at the gym will have to do for a while.

I took the air conditioner out of my bedroom window last week.  Thanks to a little weight lifting at the gym, it was a breeze.  It goes in around primary election day, and it comes out around Halloween.  My bedroom gets the afternoon sun, and I have to sleep during the day, so a little air conditioning boost is badly needed.

Third, an internet work wear/outerwear company makes something called a "grab jacket."  It's light enough to be comfortable, but it provides winter style warmth.  I usually don't "grab" it until late November or December, but I wore it when temperatures dropped in to the twenties the other morning.  If you know the company I'm talking about and you're considering getting one, I strongly recommend it.  The sleeves are roomy.  The coat is cut long.  It's well made.  Love the coat.  Hate that I had to wear it so early in the season.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Andy's Angles: Nathan's Playground

What is it with cats and boxes?

Nathan had a great time with this one the other day.  It was more than a nest.  For some reason, he enjoyed chewing and clawing the cardboard.

Spend tons of money on toys, and the cat loves a box that was destined for the recycling bin.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Andy's Angles: Adventures in Retail

I won't mention the name, but you know what I'm talking about.  It's the big box retailer that's open all night.

I get caught in the trap on a regular basis.  About once a week, usually around 4 AM, every cash register in the entire store shuts down.  I was told it's for computer updating, and things like that.  Notice the big red null on the screen and my basket of stuff, with a soda bottle on the right.

This is simply bad business practice.  Can't they switch to a back up server?  Can't they do it in two batches?  Do they really need every cash register in the store to go off line?  People are waiting to give you money, and you can't take it!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Vacation

It's Sleeping Homer's last appearance of 2018.  Yes, I'm burning off my last vacation week of the year.  I still have a few scattered days off to exhaust, but this is the last hunk of time for a while.

Plans?  None.  Errands.  Maybe a little shopping.  Some photography.  Gym.  Lunches with friends.  Sleep.  Plenty of sleep.

The broadcast, once again, is in the very capable hands of Stacy Lange.

See you later.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sears

Sears declared chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.  Above is a picture of the old Wyoming Valley Mall store.  I've been reading quite a bit about Sears, trying to figure out what went wrong.

It seems to be a cluster of epic proportions.

First, Sears was becoming irrelevant, and it was a slide that started years ago.  Home Depot and Lowe's did tools, appliances and hardware better.  A dozen, at least, other stores did clothes better.  There wasn't much left for Sears.

Sears and KMart combined.  Stores looked tired and stale.  There was really no reason to go there.  Management didn't invest in the product.  Jobs lost.  Customer service suffered.  It just wasn't fun to shop there.

The company now has a fraction of the stores it once had.  It's tough to cut your way to profitability, and from what I read, no one in the financial or retail industry believes Sears/KMart will last long past Christmas.

It makes me sad.  Like most people my age, we have fond memories of Sears, especially the catalog, and especially especially the Christmas Wish Book.

Even more people are bound to lose their jobs because more stores are closing.  There will be a ripple effect.  Damaged malls will lose even more foot traffic.

A lot of blame is being placed on ownership, and that seems appropriate.  However, the Sears department store concept is just about shot, and I'm not sure anyone could have stopped it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sid

In this market, when you said or heard "Sid," people knew exactly who you meant.  Sid Michaels.  In politics, he was Sid Michaels Kavulich.

Sid died yesterday after a battle with heart issues, and I am sad.


Our paths crossed many times over the years, first as a competitor.  Always kind, always gracious.   He started in radio and moved to TV, much as I did.  He was part of the local fraternity.   Sid was one of those schtick-less sportscasters.  The athletes and the games were the stars.  As I said when Mike Remish died, kids were lucky to have Sid in their corner.  A true professional.

Sid was always on the phone when he went to the state house, looking for publicity, not for himself, but for some project or business in the 114th.

Here's what set Sid apart in my book.  I'd often run in to him, with my mom, at St. Peter's Cathedral or St. Ann's Basilica in West Scranton.  He was always exceptionally nice and complimentary to my mom, saying nice things about me, which made her feel like a million bucks.  He was great when mom was at my side.  He was great when mom was there with my sister, and I wasn't around.  If you're nice to my mom, you are number one in my book.

Sid left us too early.  My sympathy to his family, friends, fans and constituents.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Gone

Four Panama City, Florida FM radio stations are off the air because of Hurricane Michael, and the owner says they will stay silent.  It doesn't make economic sense to rebuild.

That's sad.  Very sad.

I don't know what the owner's insurance situation is.  I'm guessing, it's not very good.

According to published reports, the tower that handles the studio to transmitter link toppled and punched a hole in the studio roof.  You can imagine the wind and water damage inside the building.

I'm sorry for the people of the panhandle who are losing a source of entertainment, and I would hope, information.

I'm sorry for those radio people, now without jobs.

You have to wonder about the economics of a business where it's more advantageous to sell the licenses, or stay dark, rather than rebuild.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Drive Through

A USA Today story says research from a magazine shows Burger King has the fastest drive throughs.  McDonalds is among the slowest.

With rare exception, I'm not a drive through kind of guy.  It's been my experience that you can get in and out a little faster if you actually venture in to the building to place and receive your order.  Plus, I usually get my food and sit in the restaurant to eat it because I enjoy the decor.

The story did not explain the methodology used in the research-- but so many things can affect the speed of your order.  I'm usually stuck behind a huge family with tons of special orders.  On the inside, invariably, there is a trainee struggling with the process.

By the way, there is always job shaming when it comes to fast food jobs.  I don't get that.  It looks extremely difficult to me, especially when a bus load of hungry tourists arrives at the door.

And another aside, I marvel at the length of the lines at Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds in the morning.  Is a coffee really that important? 

McDonalds is experimenting with touch screen ordering, something Sheetz has had for years.  The McDonalds system is a little different, because you can pay at the ordering terminal.  I tried it out recently.  No issues.  But then again, I only ordered a diet soda, and the restaurant was empty at the time.  It would be nice if Sheets offered that option.  It eliminates one step in the process, and waiting in a Sheetz line is one of the major flaws in its operation.

I don't think drive throughs will ever go away, but the business is changing.  The pizza chains allow you to order and pay on your phone, and pick up your pies at the store-- or have them delivered.

I thought broadcasting and journalism were challenging because of the constant changes.  The food industry is giving us a run for the money.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Andy's Angles: Trains

It's front and back today.  Clearly, this is the front.
And this is the back.  Cabooses disappeared long ago.  I've noticed freight trains are now using a strobe on the last car to signal the end, and for safety.  It's not the same.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Andy's Angles: Steamtown

This weekend's photos have been in the queue for a while.  Other things jumped ahead of them.  They are from a recent trip to the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.  These photos are from the adjacent rail yard.
As noted in earlier entries, I do enjoy watching the diesels roll past.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday Scrapple

I don't need someone standing in the middle of a hurricane to tell me it's bad.

George Harrison's "Crackerbox Palace" is an underrated song.

I've been shopping for days, and I can't find a home office chair that I really like.

MLB Network has great coverage during the season.  Yet, I find misfires during the post season.  The same goes for TBS.

It didn't get a lot of attention, but Conan O'Brien recently ended his hour long shows.  He'll be down to a half hour after a three month hiatus.  I enjoyed O'Brien's evolution over the years.  He began as a nervous bloke, who did awful interviews, and tried to be funnier than his guests, rather than bringing out the best in them.  After 20+ hears, he learned to perform with a lot of heart.

I'm very happy cooler weather is back.

Banksy is on the verge of becoming more annoying than creative, and some will say he's already crossed the line.

What can you say about the video coming from the Florida panhandle?  Entire neighborhoods, wiped out.

I know we had a lot of rain in a short amount of time Thursday morning, but I shudder to think about the state of storm sewers in a particular city here in our area.  They overwhelm easily.

There are few things in life cuter than a chipmunk.

Silly me.  I thought the Giants had a shot last night.  So many teems have "out of control" players these days.  Fans notice.  Even though TV ratings have rebounded a bit this season, it has to hurt in the long run.  I enjoyed Howie Long's candor on the FOX pre game show.  Long is never mentioned as one of the sports TV stars.  Yet, he always has something interesting to say.

I could not name one Taylor Swift song.  Yet, I am in awe of the way she dominates the music industry and the awards competition.

Any time I see huge lottery jackpots, I'm tempted to buy a ticket.  And then, I think of the odds.  The money stays in my wallet.

A new Neil Armstrong movie is coming out.  Apollo 11 is one of the great stories of our lifetime.

Here we go again-- more proof that it's tough to hack your way to profitability.  Several organizations report Sears is nearing bankruptcy, and banks are pushing for a liquidation.

A woman at a furniture store yesterday asked me if I work for The Weather Channel.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Insanity

It has been said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.  I actually watched the second episode of the "Murphy Brown" reboot the other day.  Like the first, it was a relentless bashing of one side of the political spectrum.  While I enjoy the scenes with Murphy and her son, I'm done.  I'm out.  It's just not funny.  It seems to have worked for some cable networks, liberal and conservative, but I have to wonder about a business model that involves automatically alienating half of the audience.

Speaking of insanity, a TV news reporter in a small Minnesota town was recently fired for wearing a "Make America Great Again" cap to a Trump rally.  I don't know what kind of employee the reporter was, but if he was a good one, a long suspension would have been a more appropriate punishment.  Be that as it may, in what universe did this reporter think wearing that cap, on the job, was acceptable?  I have a news flash for you.  Every reporter has likes and dislikes when it comes to elected officials and political candidates.  The good ones leave their preferences at home.

How about the insanity of those who believe massive cuts can lead to profitability?  As I type this, Sears/KMart, a company that's closed HUNDREDS of stores, is said to preparing a bankruptcy filing.  The company hasn't made a profit in eight years.

And, one more before I hit "publish" for the day...  The New York Yankees were knocked out of the baseball playoffs Tuesday night.  That means I won't have to listen to John Sterling's obnoxious, un-funny and self aggrandizing home run calls until March.  Sterling is 80.  He's had a great career, and he deserves to orchestrate his own exit.  I hope it's time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Why?

I do see the value in Facebook, especially for a broadcaster.  It's a great resource for story ideas.  It's an easy way to connect with viewers and listeners.  It really has become the way people communicate these days.  I've heard from old friends.  So many police and fire departments use it as their primary media communications tool.

On the other hand...  (and you knew that was coning)...

It's filled with false information, hoaxes, scams...  Facebook ownership has been caught selling your information to third parties.  The site is regularly hacked.  Pages are cloned, and things that are clearly incorrect spread throughout society like wildfire.  It's been a week filled with phony friend requests, people who think they've sent out phony friend requests, and people who think they've received phony friend requests.

How did a site so glitchy, balky, clumsy, ill secured, etc. get so popular?  Who do people sign up for it?

I cannot get the words "necessary evil" out of my mind.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Return

Curiosity got the better of me.  It always does.  I punched up the updated "Murphy Brown" premiere on my cable system's On Demand system the other day.

I was never a huge fan of the original.  I did watch from time to time, never a steady viewer.  It did provide a little charm, and an occasional laugh.  Candice Bergen can do comedy.  I liked the producer and network executive characters.  Murphy always seemed to be in trouble for something, and I really enjoyed that.

The reboot was pretty much as I expected-- a half hour of bashing one side of the political spectrum.  The parts about struggling with new technology were cute.  I can relate.  Miles, the producer, is still funny.

It was the heavy handed politics that got to me.  I could have withstood a tweak or two.  Carson tweaked.  Letterman tweaked.   Bob Hope tweaked.  Bashing, regardless of the target?  I'll pass.  It's just not fun.

I will admit that I'm in the minority.  Stephen Colbert bashes on a nightly basis, and he's ridden that to the top of the late night ratings heap.  FOX News channel bashes.  The same goes for MSNBC.  The attack different targets.  Both cable news networks are doing well.

It comes down to this.  When I punch up an entertainment shows, I want an escape, just for a little while.  It's possible to do a semi-reality based show like "Murphy Brown" without hitting me over the head with a political point of view for a half hour.  There are plenty of other options, like those zombie shows.  Drama isn't my thing.  I need a laugh.  It's just so difficult to find a good one.

Monday, October 8, 2018

TattleTales

I think of it often.  There was a game show called "TattleTales" back in the 70's and 80's.  It was a lot like "The Newlywed Game."  Celebrities answered questions and had to predict how their spouse or significant other would respond.  Good stuff.  Always entertaining. Some decent laughs.

There was one question I will never forget:  "Have you learned more from your successes or your failures?"  There was quite the debate among the six on the panel that day.  It was an easy one for me.  The failures.  No doubt.

I'm not taking sides in the melee over Brett Kavanaugh.  That's not my job.

I will say there has been more than enough failure to go around-- just about everyone involved, both parties.  This was not America's finest hour.  I think even the most partisan people, on both sides, will admit that.

I just hope we've learned something from the failure.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Andy's Angles: All You Wanna

The Iron Horse Movie Bistro, and a parking garage above, now occupies the coroner of Penn and Lackawanna in downtown Scranton.

Many, many years ago, there was other retail space here.  Part of it was occupied by a barber shop.  Another space was occupied by the Magical Garden Head Shop.  It carried supplies for smokers (nod, nod, wink wink) and rock and roll tee shirts and posters.  I do remember paying a visit to satisfy my curiosity.  I didn't buy thing.

What I remember most is the radio commercial.  The owner seemed to buy a lot of time on Rock 107.  The spot had a great tag line, which I still remember.  By the way, if I can remember it 30 years later, it was an effective commercial.  The line was "You can get all you wanna at Penn and Lackawanna."

There is a business called "Magikal Garden" in Exeter.  I wonder if its roots are in Scranton, where you can get all you wanna, at Penn and Lackawanna.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Andy's Angles: About the Cover

It's tough to find a train at Steamtown I haven't photographed before.

This was a new one, to me, on my last trip to the historic site.

I would have loved, back in the day, to see it in action.

another trip to Steamtown is in the offing to see if I can stumble across more treasures.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday Scrapple

It's the start of a long weekend for many.  I hope you enjoy it.  This is a great time of year.

Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers' new mascot is on the creepy side.  If this is the most important you have to worry about, it's been a good week.

I don't cook or bake, but I love the way supermarkets look in the fall.

One of the scariest times of the year, deer mating season, is here.  It breaks my heart to see so many dead animals on the road.

It's sad to see the Baltimore Orioles turn in to a dumpster fire.

I lucked out in the Tuesday storms-- just a few bursts of heavy rain.

Jeopardy host Alex Trebek is getting low marks for his handling of a gubernatorial discussion in Hershey this week.  I applaud everyone involved for thinking outside the box.  Most debates merely give candidates an opportunity to spew their prepackaged lines, anyway.

Regardless of your feelings on Penn State, its "white outs" are impressive.

Either the technology is improving, or I'm getting better at using them.  I'm experiencing fewer issues with self service store checkouts.  It's a shame they don't put those employees to work, getting rid of wayward carts in the parking lots.

Christmas catalogs have begun to invade my mail box.

Five eastern Pennsylvania October tornadoes in one day.  Amazing and fascinating.

Already purchased a 2019 calendar.  Dollar store.

Thank heaven for the annual Steamtown Marathon.  It gives Scranton and other towns on the 26.1 mile route the incentive to parch potholes and get rid of trash.  We need a marathon every weekend.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Media Thursday

AM 1540 in Albany, New York is off the air.  Forever.  And ever.  It was through a string of formats and call letters.  At one time, 1540 was THE top 40 powerhouse in that part of New York.  The latest owner had money problems.  The station had technical problems.  It had been off the air for almost a year, and the owner recently surrendered the license.  There will never, ever be another AM 1540 in Albany.

It's sad.  The AM band is mightily struggling.  Dozens of stations have gone dark and most will never be back.

The could be a good thing.  If the Federal Communications Commission is smart, it will encourage more stations to go off the air.  Those are the ones that weren't serving their communities, anyway.  There won't be a huge job loss.  After the band thins out, the remaining stations, where feasible, should get a power increase.  Maybe that will overcome of the AM interference issues and make AM more listenable.

I've been meaning to mention the Emmy awards for a while now, and how I didn't recognize the names of most of the winning shows.  The streaming services, especially Netflix, have changed the industry.

Thank you, Major League Baseball, for once again making playoff games nearly impossible to find.

I saw the trailer for the Dick Cheney movie, "Vice."  It looks outstanding.  But then again, every trailer makes every movie look great.  I hope this one lives up to the hype.

Something scary happened yesterday.  I was on the way home from a long string of errands, most for other people.  "Escape" (the Pina Colada song) came on the radio, and I found myself singing along.  I'm so ashamed.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Try, Try Again

Cosmic Cinemas will try to do what at least three other companies have attempted-- run a successful movie theater operation at Penn and Lackawanna in downtown Scranton.

Cosmic is a relatively new outfit, and intends to follow, somewhat, in the same footsteps as its predecessor-- the Iron House Movie Bistro.  The plan is to offer more than a movie.  dinner and drinks is part of the package.

It's worked in other places.  Not here.  I never visited Iron Horse.  When I go to a movie theater, I want to see a movie.  When I go to dinner, it's in a restaurant.  Combining the two never appealed to me, but I can see where that would be a draw.  To be fair, I have spoken with people who have experienced the concept, here and elsewhere, and they loved it.

In my book, it comes down to location.  I just get the feeling that people don't want to watch movies in an urban atmosphere, and deal with parking garages-- even if you can park for free with a validated ticket.  It's way too easy, and some perceive much safer, to roll up to a megaplex, not deal with a parking hassle and watch a movie.  You can grab a bite, before or after, at one of the dozens of restaurants that surround the theaters.  You really have to consider location as a factor as to why all the others here failed.

I really hope Cosmic does something with the design.  It's a dark downtown corner.  There isn't a lot of color at the theater entrance, and that big hunk of corrugated metal isn't very inviting or visually interesting.  Jazz it up.  Brighten it up.  Make it a "must see" destination.  You can see movies in a lot of places.  Make this one special.

Iron Horse lasted nine months.  We'll see if Cosmic Cinemas can do better.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Funny

I was drawn in to the discussion, even though it was my day off.  During a story on "Newswatch 16 This Morning" on an auction of props from the TV series "The Office," Tom Williams remarked how I thought the series was "unfunny."

Tom was wrong.

"The Office" was stunningly unfunny.  I was never able to sit through an entire episode.  Every character was a weasel, and I didn't want them in my home.  I don't know how the show made it on to network television.  "The Office" is one of those sitcoms you either love or hate.  There is no middle ground, and you know how I feel.

OK.  So, what's funny?  Here's the way I see it.

My two favorites are "Scrubs," except for the awful last season, and "Barney Miller."  The latter was always clever, sharp, witty and well written.

I've never been able to sit through an entire "Seinfeld" episode.  Incessant whining by the main characters.  My record for viewing is about ten minutes.

"The Big Bang Theory" had some good early years.  It morphed into another bickering couples sitcom.

"M*A*S*H," but only the early years.  I thought "Cheers" went off the cliff after the early years, too.

Both Bob Newhart series had some funny moments.  The same goes for "Mary Tyler Moore."

 "All in the Family" broke some new ground, but I couldn't take the all the yelling.  Ditto for the other Norman Lear series of the time, "One Day at a Time" and "Good Times"...  and then, there's "Maude."

"WKRP in Cincinnati" showed flashes of brilliance, and more flashes of mediocrity. 

"Get Smart" hit it out of the park most weeks.  The opening and closing credit sequences are among the best of all time.

"Three's Company" had one good year, the first one.

"Mork & Mindy" got tired fast.  I respected the talents of Robin Williams, but I always considered him to be what I call "hot pepper flakes on the pizza."  A little goes a long way.

"Wings" was occasionally charming, and featured a great set of secondary characters.

"Drew Carey" and "Night Court" can still make me laugh out loud.

I never understood "Friends."  Perhaps I was too old.  It's another series where I could never make it through an entire episode.

"Dick van Dyke" was a little too sophisticated for my young eyes and ears.

Some "Odd Couple" plots strained credibility, but it was generally solid throughout its run.

"Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley" were overrated.

I tried "Modern Family."  I didn't get it.  The same goes for "How I Met Your Mother."

"Spin City" didn't work for me.

"Munsters" and "Addams Family" were always grouped together, but they were very different shows, and funny in different ways.  They had something in common.  I always loved how the Munster and Addams families never realized they were the strange ones.  They believed the others were the odd balls.  By the way, Grampa Munster and Gomez Addams are among TV's all time great characters.

"I Dream of Jeannie" scored points for Barbara Eden's cuteness and Larry Hagman's physical comedy.

"Home Improvement" was the same story over and over again.  Anything with precocious children immediately goes to the "avoid" list.  Bill Cosby was able to draw a big crowd for years with the precocious children formula.

That's a list of the series I've seen.  There are dozens that never motivated me enough to watch.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Dunkin'

The company has been experimenting with, and toying with the idea for several months.  It made it official this week.  In January, Dunkin Donuts will drop the "donuts" from its name.

I cannot remember the last time I was in a store.  I'm not a coffee drinker.  Paying $2 for an iced tea that costs four cents to make doesn't thrill me.  I've had take out food on occasion.  They still make a fair donut and a good, if unauthentic, bagel.  Nice selection.  Most of the stores have given up 24 hour operation.  You might be lucky and find one on your nocturnal travels.

Dunkin Donuts says it's making the change because the bulk of its business these days is in drinks, not donuts.

There are places that make good donuts, if not better than Dunkin.  Some supermarket bakeries have really stepped up their game.  There are a couple big mini mart chains that do a great job.

Regular readers know I can become sentimental over the strangest things.  The building on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton is now a Subway.  Way back when, it was a Dunkin Donuts, one of the few in the area.  My father would take me there once in a while, getting seats at the long counter.  He'd have a coffee and a donut.  I'd have a hot chocolate and a donut.  We both would choose the same type, and I'm not sure if they still make them.  It was a plain cake donut with a little nub of extra dough that was supposed to keep your fingers out of the coffee while dunking.  The nub was irrelevant to me.  I wasn't a dunker-- but I really did love those donuts.  They had a crunchy, fried exterior, while remaining soft and moist in the middle.  Outstanding!

You can change the name.  You can replace the donuts.  You can't erase the memories of going out for a donut with your dad.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Andy's Angles: Dozing

There are times when we need a break from the divisive and troubling issues of the day.  It's been a trying week.

Submitted for your approval:  Peanut, the sleeping kitten.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Andy's Angles: Settled

Dallas teachers and the school board settled their lone running dispute this week.  The contract runs for the next five years, so 8th graders can breathe a sigh of relief.  They will have an uninterrupted education from now until the day their receive their diplomas.

This applies to all school districts...  good teachers should get good money and bad teachers should get bounced.  There has to be a way to take politics out of the equation.

Good luck.

Pennsylvania has a severely broken system-- from the way we pay for education to the way we handle teachers.  There appears to be a reluctance in Harrisburg to an overhaul, and I can't say I'm surprised.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Winter

Meteorologists and other experts will scoff, but I'm convinced animals can predict the weather.

As I say here every year, I know spring is on the way when skunks become active.

I have yet to see a wooly bear, but those who have seen the caterpillars say they indicate a mild winter is on the way.

I'm taking the opposite view, thanks to squirrels.  I've noticed their tails are whiter and bushier than normal, for this time of year.  If that isn't enough, the little buggers are going nuts, pardon the pun, on a chestnut tree in my yard.  That spells a cold and snowy winter, in my book.

I hope the squirrels are wrong, but I don't think so.  Looks for the squirrels' report card, in this space, in about six months.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ouch!

I was listening to the radio Sunday afternoon when I heard the news.  Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo wrecked his knee and is out for the season.  I'm not a San Francisco fan, but I was always pulling for Garoppolo.  He was rewarded with a big contract after sitting on the New England Patriots' bench for a few years.

It happens every week in the NFL.  Players get their knees ripped up and they need surgery.  Out for the season.  Aaron Rodgers of the Packers was taken off the field on opening weekend.  Luckily, his injury wasn't severe, but it's clear that he is still hurting.

When you really think about it, the knee is an amazing joint.  It moves hundreds, maybe thousands of time a day, and it supports your weight for life.

I do consider myself extremely fortunate.  My knees don't give me any problems, even after long walks and bike rides.  It is the one part (or two parts) of my body that doesn't hurt after a morning at the gym.

Borrowed time?  Maybe.  Knees do wear out and occasionally need to be replaced.  I'm looking forward to keeping my original equipment.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday Scrapple

I'm thrilled that some fall-like weather has finally arrived.

Why roads at the tail end of construction season almost as bad as they were at the beginning?

Bachman Turner Overdrive has to be one of the biggest underrated rock bands of the 70's.

It will be interesting to see how Penn State handles a real challenge.

More and more people are realizing the Pittsburgh Steelers are a train wreck in progress, and managers have lost control of the team.  A Monday night win, but they gave up 500 yards of offense to Tampa Bay.  11 penalties.

I've had an Amazon Echo for quite a while now, and I am still amazed by its capabilities.

I don't care what Bert and Ernie do with their free time.

Why can't someone make a good, fun, dependable smart phone at a reasonable price?

It's hard to believe we're heading in to the fourth quarter of the year.

The weather turned chilly Sunday morning, and I heard by first chimney fire of the season on the scanner.   Carbon monoxide alarms won't be far behind as windows close and heating systems kick on.

Why do so many still have a hard time with the "wipers on = headlights on" rule?

I'm still using my metal reusable drinking straws.

More Sears doom and gloom stories are in the media this week.  It appears the inevitable is near. 



Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Early Bird Gets the Shot

I am a huge believer in flu shots, and I really don't understand the thought process of people who won't get one.

My doctor recently closed his small and absolutely wonderful practice to throw in his lot with one of the soulless conglomerates, so "Flu Shot 2018" would be my first experience with the new set up, and I considered it a test-- part of my probationary process.

I called earlier than usual for an appointment because I expected a two week wait,  or something like that.  Imagine my shock when I was told I could come in that day.  I chose an appointment for the next morning.

It was odd.  I received the shot before checking in because the person who does that was stuck in line at the donut shop down the street.  It wasn't a good first impression.

I feel better, as always, after the shot.  The jury is still out on the conglomerate.  It seems the best way to deal with it is "don't get sick."

Get a shot.  Just about any drug store will do it for you.  Do it for yourself, your co-workers and your family.  You won't be sorry.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Back to School

I went back to school for one day last week.  It was for a class on emergency preparedness, and I hope to write volumes on that class one of these days.

Nostalgia aplenty.  The class wasn't conducted by my alma mater, Marywood University, but it was held on its beautiful campus on the Scranton/Dunmore line.

A couple of things jumped out at me.  First, I still have the ability to concentrate on one topic for several hours at a time.  Second, I retain the capability to irritate instructors.

We had a decent sized lunch break, so I used the opportunity to stroll about campus on a beautiful fall day, grab a cold soda, and sit in one of the quiet lounges.  As an aside, how many people are working, or not working, at Marywood these days?  There was an enormous line in the new library snack bar, and the one in the book store wasn't much better.  Slow.  Inefficient.  Frustrating.  I was glad I wasn't in a hurry.

I enjoyed the lounge experience.  It was dead quiet, as it was most days during my time in school.  Back then, I sat on a couch and went over notes between classes.  Last week, it was checking e-mails and texting a few friends.

Times change.  The subject material wasn't even close to being on the radar when I was in school, but I really did enjoy being back in an academic atmosphere.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Classic Andy's Angles: Lackawanna Station

Yesterday, this space featured a success story-- the old Nicholson train station, on its way to getting fixed up.

Today, let's look at another.  This building was almost lost in the 70's.  It's the Lackawanna train station in downtown Scranton, now a Radisson hotel.

The building was empty and falling apart in the 70's.  We are all thankful some people got together to save the building and turn it in to a hotel.  Great location-- the entrance to the city.  It's one of our area's signature buildings and I'm happy it's still around.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Andy's Angles: Nicholson Update

Finally, a little good news.

We have a horrible habit around here of neglecting old and historic buildings until they can no longer can be repaired and have to be torn down.  I took this photo of the Nicholson train station a few years ago.

Below is the news release from the group spearheading the restoration.

NICHOLSON, PA  The Nicholson Heritage Association is excited to announce that renovations will commence on the Nicholson Tourism Center at the Historic Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W) Railroad Station. In late 2014, this historic transportation facility preservation and community economic revitalization project received a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant for preservation and rehabilitation of the historic train station.

The three bids received in response to the June 2018 call for bids were reviewed by PennDOT and Perry’s General Contracting, Dunmore, base bid of $1,154,000 was selected. While this is more than the original grant amount awarded, PennDOT is fully funding the project. The Nicholson Heritage Association is required to cover inspection costs.

Marion Sweet, the Nicholson Heritage Association’s Chair, said that “We couldn’t be more pleased! While it’s taken a long time to get to this point because of grant requirements that needed to be met, we look forward to work being done on the Historic DL&W Railroad Station.”

The Association purchased the station in June 2012, with donations from individuals, businesses, and a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant. In 2014, the Association held two public meetings, to present and discuss the results of the feasibility study, funded mainly in part by a grant from the Endless Mountains Heritage Region with PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources funds. The designs are complete and possible in part to a Tom E. Dailey Foundation grant. Reuther+Bowen, a highly accomplished and diverse engineering, design, and construction services firm in Dunmore, PA, has been working with the Nicholson Heritage Association on the project, including the designs.

The Nicholson Tourism Center at the Historic DL&W Railroad Station will revitalize the region by attracting tourists to the station, the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct (also known as the Tunkhannock Viaduct or the Nicholson Bridge), Nicholson, Historic Tunkhannock, Wyoming County, and the Endless Mountains. The station also will attract visitors to the region by linking to the area’s railroading and transportation attractions, including the Martins Creek Viaduct, Viaduct Valley Way Scenic Byway, Starrucca Viaduct, Steamtown, Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces, Electric City Trolley Museum, Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, D&H Gravity Railroad Depot Museum, and Honesdale: the birthplace of American Railroad (see infographic). It will also be used for community events.

While the TAP grant provides the funds needed to rehabilitate the station, donations continue to be needed and are greatly appreciated, either by mail to the historical group at P.O. Box 496, Nicholson, PA  18446 or PayPal. Please visit http://www.nicholsonstation.org for more information, including a list of supporters.

Friday, September 21, 2018

WKRP

WKRP in Cincinnati premiered on CBS 40 years ago this week.  Coincidentally, it happened at the same time I entered college as a fledgling broadcaster.

A few thoughts...

90 episodes over five seasons.  CBS never seemed to know what to do with it.  The show was moved around the schedule several times.  It was nearly impossible to find.

I always use the word "uneven" to describe the series.  Some episodes were outrageously funny.  The rest, just meh.

Personal favorite:  "Baby, It's Cold Inside" from season three.

I always thought Jan Smithers was infinitely more attractive than Loni Anderson, who was nothing to sneeze at.

The Johnny Fever, Les Nessman, and Herb Tarlek characters were dead on accurate.  I worked with all of those guys at one time or another.

I also worked for Art Carlson.  He was president of Susquehanna Broadcasting, owner of WARM, during my time there.

Bucky the engineer was an underrated and under used character.

It's not Thanksgiving until I see the main scene from "Turkeys Away."

I had made up my mind to get into broadcasting long before WKRP appeared.  It just erenforced my decision.  This can be a fun business.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Theft

I will start by saying Daniel Sansky is innocent until proven guilty.  The mechanic and garage owner faces a long list of charge for allegedly overcharging the Scranton School District and billing the district for work never performed.

When you steal from a school district, you rip off the taxpayers and deprive the kids.

What makes this situation even more sad is that there were people who knew what was going on, and did nothing to stop it.  The enablers are just as guilty.

With any luck, and just a little bit of wisdom, the school district can move on from this sorry episode.  So much of it seems like the old boys network, the way business around here is done, what passes for good governance.

We deserve better and we don't ask for better nearly enough.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Off Limits

Is there any privacy left in this country?

It has been established here that I have a work and sleep schedule that is the opposite of most people.  I was dozing the other day, when my phone's text alert went off.  It was an organization, working on behalf of a congressional candidate, asking for my vote.

I can't mute the phone due to family and work responsibilities.

I won't mention the candidate of the organization's name, and I'll sanitize what comes next. 

I texted back a few choice words and added the text would guarantee my vote for the candidate's opponent.  I'm serious.

It's a lesson for telemarketers, candidates and other political organizations.  Please, leave me alone.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

On the Scent

I've been biking for more than six years now.   While I have expanded my route, there are parts I can travel blindfolded.  The reason?  The nose knows.

There is a section of my route where the stench from a landfill collects, especially on a hot and humid summer night.  After passing through that part of town, the next aroma is from a sewage treatment plant.  

There is one block in Scranton and another in Dickson City where people love to barbecue in the middle of the night.  

I know exactly where I am when the smell of dryer fabric softener sheets hits me, and when I pick up the stale and smoky air coming from a corner bar.

A business that makes concrete and iron products is on my route.  It's been closed for hours by the time I pedal by, but the smell of truck exhaust and diesel fuel hangs in the air.

This seems to have been a banner year for skunks.  They are everywhere.  I'm not complaining.  That's part of the joy of living in northeastern Pennsylvania.

As I think of it, it's a great idea for a travel based map site.  Instead of saying "turn left at the light" you can say "turn left when you smell burgers and dogs on the grill at 2 am."

Monday, September 17, 2018

Stormy Weather

This is probably too "inside baseball" for most people, and the rest will wonder why I care.

Let's establish a few things off the top.  I love radio and I especially love those big, beefy, substantial top of the hour network newscasts.  NBC and Mutual are out of business.  UPI is gone.  AP is greatly diminished.  No overnight of weekend newscasts.  CNN is also gone, but it does provide material to a company that produces radio news.  That leaves ABC and CBS.  Both are fine organizations.

Except...

I've been listening to hurricane Florence coverage-- and a lot of it.  It seems the radio networks "go to" stuff is audio snippets from TV news reports.  Really?  It makes me so sad.  Radio is a great medium.  Put boots on the ground.  Describe what's going on.  Don't rely on the audio from the TV people.

Westwood One has a radio news service.  In fact, the White House correspondent is former WNEP reporter Bob Costantini.  Outside of reporters on some of the key beats, the rest comes from CNN TV.

I get the whole corporate synergy thing and getting the biggest bang for the buck.

Name the biggest star in radio.  I'd say "Howard Stern."  But, he's on satellite.  Name another.  Maybe Ryan Seacrest.  Keep going.  It's tough.  Imus retired.  Paul Harvey died.  Casey Kasem left us long ago.  Are there any big radio news stars?

ABC has some fine people-- Cheri Preston, Aaron Katersky, Chuck Sivertsen (who once worked in Scranton), Jim Ryan...  The rest of the people on the ABC Radio web site are reporters and anchors who serve television first.

CBS Radio still has the rock solid Mark Knoller at the White House.

Here's my point.  The remaining big radio news networks still do an outstanding job, but radio, if it is to survive and prosper, it really needs to develop some stand out talent of its own.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Ride

It happened one week ago-- the 11th annual motorcycle run honoring SGT Jan Argonish.  He was killed in Afghanistan.  There is more information on Jan and the cause.here.

I've been stopping by for the past six years.  I never met Jan, but I do know his father.  Dad had a great quote in a story by Newswatch 16's Chase Senior-- Jan's name will live on long after we're gone.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Andy's Angles: Status Report

For some strange reason, this has become a yearly thing.  Above is a photo of the new power plant, just off the Casey Highway in Jessup.  I took it on Sunday.

Below is the view from the same week in 2017.


And the shot you see below is from October of 2016. 

Even though the power plant is functioning, it remains a controversial issue and a sore spot around here.  It will be that way long after I'm gone.






Friday, September 14, 2018

Let's Review

It's the last hours of another vacation week, so let's review.

I really didn't do anything out of the ordinary, other than squeezing in a little extra sleep-- which was badly needed.

Gym, bike, photography, reading, errands...  Grew a beard.  Shaved off a beard.

Highlights included losing my old glasses on the trip to get a new pair of glasses, and successfully backing up files from an old laptop computer.

One more vacation week to go, and I'll burn that off next month.  I still have some scattered single days off to take.  It's amazing how much of the year has disappeared.  It's almost time to start thinking about holiday schedules.

I'll see you at work.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Dead Man Shopping

The news came in an official looking letter last week.  It was from the company that handles Sears/KMart credit cards.

The letter informed me that I hadn't used my card in 41 months, and if I don't use it by the end of October, it will be deactivated.  It's a common practice, and it's happened to me before.

It's safe to say our relationship has reached the end of the road.  The company has closed almost every store in my part of the state, and I'm not going to travel a long distance to shop there.

The Sears and KMart web sites are still options, but there are other companies that do it faster and better.  More merchandise.  Cheaper shipping.

Looks like I'll soon be dead to Sears and KMart.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

First Week

The first weekend of the NFL season is in the books, and a few thoughts...

When are people going to figure out Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is a fraud?  The playoff game versus Jacksonville last year was an embarrassment, and Sunday's tie with the lowly Cleveland Browns wasn't much better.

The networks have done some minor tinkering with their broadcast teams.  Former Arizona head coach Bruce Arians on CBS wasn't bad.  Buck/Aikman and Michaels/Collinsworth remain the cream of the crop.

I didn't catch the new ESPN team during the pre season, or Monday night.

There was a time where if you didn't catch one of the network pre game shows, you felt like you were missing something.  Those days are gone.  Has CBS used the same studio crew two years in a row since the network regained football rights 20 years ago?

The national anthem controversy didn't appear to be a big deal Sunday, and that's a good thing.

It's too early to really judge if the NFL's new contact rules are having an impact on the game, but week one wasn't as bad as I had feared.

A few teams have tweaked their uniforms and helmets.  Nothing jumped out at me as good or awful.

Ratings for the season opener in Philadelphia were down from last year.  It's too early to cry or celebrate.  It will be fascinating to see what the trends show.

Betting on the NFL is legal in more places this season.  It seems to have taken some of the steam out of the fantasy leagues.

15 more regular season games to go.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Falling

We just came through the first autumnal weekend of the season.

It was nice to sleep under a substantial blanket.  It was nice to root through the closet for a light jacket to wear outside.  It was nice to turn on the car heater for a quick blast of warmth.  It was nice to watch a leaf fall from the top of a tree and slowly drift to the ground.  It was nice to turn on the television and watch pennant chase baseball, and football.  It was nice to turn off the fans and air conditioners, and open the windows.  It was nice to look at fall clothes in the Land's End and L.L. Bean catalogs.   It was nice to be able to breathe.

I'm not "in" to "pumpkin spice" anything, but if that's your thing, enjoy it while you can.  

As I have said here many times before, there are two big problems with fall.  The first is it doesn't last long enough.  The second is, it's always followed by winter.


Monday, September 10, 2018

In Memoriam

In the movie "My Favorite Year," Alan Swann, played magnificently by Peter O'Toole says "I'm not an actor.  I'm a movie star."

I never thought Burt Reynolds, who died last week, was much of an actor.  However, he was an outstanding movie star.  The man was box office gold in the 70's.  There were television appearances before that.  There were few guests who were more entertaining while sitting next to Johnny Carson.

Burt Reynolds was 82.

Bill Daily died September 4th.  He was the perfect second banana to Larry Hagman on "I Dream of Jeannie."  Daily played airline navigator Howard Borden, the wacky neighbor on "The Bob Newhart Show."  Newhart Tweeted:   "He was our bullpen guy - you could always go to him." 

When the series work ended, Daily hit the game show circuit and was always funny-- even when he inherited the Richard Dawson chair on "Match Game."  It was a tough act to follow.

Bill Daily was 91.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Classic Andy's Angles: Snow

I've really had it with the heat.  Enough already!

While I'm not a snow person, I do like it on the cooler side.

This was taken on a snowy morning in Tamaqua, in January of 2015.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Andy's Angles: The End

Burlington is closing its store in Eynon to be closer to Lackawanna County's retail center-- a shopping center relatively adjacent to the Viewmont Mall in Dickson City.  The sign in Eynon was coming down Tuesday morning.
At one time, this shopping center was a big deal.  My memory is a little fuzzy, but this opened as a discount department store in the 70's.  I could be wrong, but I think the name was Master's.  I do remember this is where I bought my first tube of that multi colored toothpaste, Aqua Fresh here.

It was really nice-- discount department store.  Off to the left of this photo was a Shop Rite.  I'll always remember it as the only place in town where you could buy Canfield's diet chocolate fudge soda.  There were a few smaller stores-- including a Radio Shack, Carvel, and a pizza shop.

After Master's moved out, it because a flea market type space, called the Independent Merchants Association.  That morphed in to factory outlets-- a concept I really liked.  It was not unusual to see several out of town license plates in the parking lot.  The factory outlets did increase traffic.  In came Burlington, and that brings us to today.

I do remember a deep discount, second run movie theater here.  It's where I saw "Dave," one of my all time favorite movies.  Movies for a buck, eventually increased to $1.50.  It was an interesting set up.  All seats were at the same level-- flat on the floor.  Small screens.  Hey, what do you want for one dollar?

Now, all that remains is a Big Lots and a Dollar General.  I don't know how a shopping center can survive with just two stores and a ton of empty face.  I wonder what happens next.