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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Reminiscing: The Skyliner

I had to do a story on the spiking price of gasoline just before Memorial Day.  We chose the Pilot Travel  Plaza in Pittston Township for the location.  I like it there.  We set up in an elevated parking lot across the street.  It's well lit, with plenty of traffic, even at 4:30 in the morning.  Pretty pictures.

You might remember that this was the location of the Skyliner Diner and truck stop.  Plenty of parking for rigs in the back.  Service, area, mechanics, diesel fuel, etc.  The diner, one of those silver car deals, was in the front.  Good food.  Open 24 hours.

Back when I was on the radio, Skyliner ran commercials from midnight to 2 in the morning.  It made sense.  People out, traveling, listening to the radio, looking for a bite.  The audience was there.  Remember, there weren't a lot of 24 hour places back then.  I think we had Denny's, a few diners in Scranton, another couple in Wilkes-Barre.  Nothing in between.

I vividly remember the commercials-- a couple of guys, speaking in Arab accents, raving about this all night oasis called the Skyliner.  Creative.  Effective.

Think it could get made today?

It wasn't an offensive commercial, but in retrospect, I could see where some wouldn't like it.

The Skyliner closed years ago.  The diner was trucked to Moosic, to replace what the 1999 fire at Terry's Diner destroyed.

I'll always remember the Skyliner for a special late night dinner with a friend, and a creative commercial that would never make air today.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Funny Thing Happened...

I bought myself a Christmas present last year.  It was a smart watch.  It's not a high end model.  I just wanted to see what the buzz was all about.  I had no desire to track my steps, or the amount of time I sleep.  I didn't synch it with my phone so I could receive messages on my wrist.  I was looking forward to checking my route and mileage during biking season.

I should add that it's a darn fine watch, with nice big numbers.

When I sat down and thought about it, it was a waste of money.  I usually take the same route, and I already had a rough idea of that mileage.

Then, a funny thing happened.  I found myself varying my route a little with each excursion-- just to test the sensitivity of the watch, checking to see how far it is from here to there, and the time I needed to do it.  The watch has brought me a great deal of enjoyment, and it's added to my biking routine.

An unexpected benefit!

By the way, I do most of my biking in the dark.  As noted earlier, my bike has lights, a full set of reflectors, and I wear a reflective vest.  I showed Joe Snedeker the make and model of light I use.  Joe didn't think it was adequate, and he let me borrow one of his.  Holy cow!  It makes my route look like a night game at Yankee Stadium.  Thanks, Joe!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Attacked!

I was attacked Sunday morning.  I didn't see it coming.  I didn't hear it coming.  I didn't feel it during the attack, and it happened in my own newsroom.

The assailant?  A mosquito.  The remedy was almost as bad as the attack.

I was minding my own business and putting the finishing touches on Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning when I felt a bit of pain.  A mosquito got me, not once, but four times.  Two bites were on the back of my neck.  One on the chin.  One in the sideburn area.

Ouch!

So, what do do?

I was developing some swollen bumps.  Rubbing alcohol didn't help.  It was time for serious stuff-- an antihistamine.

It relieved some of the pain, and the swelling subsided.

As you probably know, antihistamines have side effects-- namely, dry mouth and drowsiness.  Both can be troublesome for a news anchor.

I kept a giant cup of iced tea under the anchor desk.  Sips of diet cola helped during the breaks.  I made it through the four hour broadcast.  It wasn't easy.

Mosquitoes are one of the worst parts of summer.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

I'll be brief. 

It's Memorial Day.

Please, remember what the day is all about.

Be safe.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Andy's Angles: Science!

This tree shrouded structure is the science building at Marywood University..  It was much smaller in my day. 

I can't say I spent much time here.  During my years, you had a choice-- two science courses and one math, or two math courses and one science.  As noted here earlier, I'm not a numbers guy.  I went for the two sciences.

One was a course called Matter, Energy, and Technology.  I can't say I remember much about it, but I do recall it was a scatter shot approach, hitting several science disciplines.  My other science course was Astronomy.  Dr. Brennan, and I do remember enjoying that one a great deal.

B+ in both courses!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Andy's Angles: Green Space

Apology in advance for what I think will be a long and convoluted entry.

One of the things I always admired about Marywood was its commitment to trees and green space.  It's a beautiful campus.  It was in my day.  It still is.  Let's get oriented.  The new library is at the left.  The old library was in the center.  You can see the corner of a relatively new arts building is on the right.  Architecture is in the building in the background.  That was the gym and pool back in my day.  The field at center right was always there.  Much of today's entry deals with that field.

One of my biggest college adjustments was getting used to late afternoon and evening classes.  I hated them.  The hate lasted until the day I left.  Unfortunately, there was no way around it.  I took as many early morning classes as I could.  Yes, I was a morning person even way back then.  Some classes were only offered in the late afternoon and evening.  I didn't like it, but that's college life.  It was the high school advantage.  You were out the door at 2:45.

Freshman year at Marywood.  French. Mondays and Thursdays, 4 to 5:15 pm.  Not only was it a course that wasn't in my wheelhouse, I sat at my desk and watched night time arrive, and the sun sink.  As it turned out, the sun wasn't the only thing sinking.  My grade was along for the ride.

I made it through that first semester with a C, and it was a major accomplishment.

There is a phenomenon called "summer slide."  Students often forget what they learned during the summer, so there has to be a bit of a review in the fall.  Back in my freshman year, Marywood had something called "Winterim."  Christmas break was extra long, and the school offered courses during the break, like it did in the summer.  My first year at Marywood was the last for Winterim.  The school then shortened the post Christmas vacation.  Instead, there were two different summer sessions.  I didn't participate in Winterim, but I did take courses during my three Marywood summers.  Note to college kids, present and future:  take summer classes if you can!

Second semester of French was a monumental struggle, the biggest of my college years.  There was one afternoon, after a particularly grueling class, when I was cutting across the field, on my way back to my car in the parking lot.  It was still cold, but spring was in the air.  Darkness was arriving, but you could tell the days were getting longer.  I encountered a robin during my cross field short cut, my first of the season.  I started at the bird.  The bird stared back.  For a moment, my French worries disappeared.

The respite was short.  Another French class was just a couple of days away.  As hard as I tried, I just couldn't get it.  My grade for that second semester of French, spring 1980, was a D, and I considered it a gift.  I smiled in tremendous relief when the report card came in the mail.

I cannot visit, or even pass, that field without thinking of that robin who made a tough time just a little bit easier.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Gone

Back when I was at WARM, in the mid 80's, the station used to put out a mailer a few times a year.  It went to people who signed up for something called a CashCard, later a RadioCard.  It enabled you to get discounts at stores and other little freebies.  The card thing eventually petered out.  So did the mailer.  So did the station.

Below is the back cover from a March 1985 mailer.  Several Wyoming Valley Mall stores decided to play along.  How many do you remember?  How many are out of the mall?  How many are out of business?
Just for laughs, here's the front.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thursday Scrapple

On a scale from 1 to 10, my interest in the royal wedding was barely a 2.  I will admit they Harry and Meghan are a great looking pair.

Note to State Farm agents:  I'm sure you have a fine product, but I'm very happy with what I have now.  STOP SENDING ME THINGS IN THE MAIL!

Last Indianapolis 500 on ABC Sunday.  I know it's a business, but it's still sad.

I am constantly amazed by the number of people who build LinkedIn pages, but never check them, never maintain them.  Delete and move on.  I will say that LionkedIn is one of the most useless sites-- ever.


Decorating the tops of mortarboards was cute for a while.  It's worn off.


I know I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.  the number of overdoses you hear every weekend on the police radio is terrifying.


I've been out on my bike several times this spring, and the roads are still terrible.


It appears the investigation into financial monkey business in the Scranton School District is accelerating.  Bravo!  It's clear something is wrong, somewhere.


The U.S. Supreme court has given states the right to conduct sports betting.  Why do I see trouble with this?


I honestly don't care if it's yanny or laurel.  Please stop it.  Stop it now.

Worst.  Spring.  Ever.

The NFL is taking steps to make kick offs less dangerous.  Isn't danger part of the game?    Moot point.  The NFL will soon exist as just something on which to gamble.

It's another changing of the guard at my gym?  Why don't employees stay?

I was driving in a downpour early Wednesday morning.  Holy Cow!  It was worse than driving in a snow storm.

I know he's been gone a long time now, but Dick Clark made hosting Pyramid look so darned easy.  I know he won Emmys for it, but I don't think Clark ever received his due for being a game show host.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

First Person: Rescued



The day started benignly enough-- a simple story on gasoline prices as we approach Memorial Day weekend.  My phone rang a little after 6 am.  There was a crash, a bad one, along Interstate 81 north in Wilkes-Barre Township.


Photographer Jason broke down our live shot location in Pittston Township and we headed south.  We found the crash scene quickly enough, but there was a major problem.  The we couldn't access the crash scene safely.  There was plenty of interstate between the wrecked tractor trailer and us.

Jason and I brainstormed for a moment.  We remembered a road, off Route 309, that cuts under the interstate, then snakes along it.  By the way, traffic on 309 was crawling because of the vehicles that jumped off 81.  Thank you to the people who let us cut in front of them.

We found a pretty good spot.  Great view of the wrecked tractor trailer, with its wheels up.  We were out of everyone's way and it was possible to do live shots safely.

An aside:  highway crashes are our worst nightmare.  We have to get there and not get caught up in the traffic tangle.  We have to get video without putting ourselves in danger.  First responders already have their hands full.  We take great steps to avoid getting in their way.


Jason had the live shot up and running quickly and efficiently.  There was enough time left to do a quick hit in Newswatch 16 This Morning.  It was a real drama.  It took about two and a half hours to cut the driver out of the wreckage.  We followed the progress during Good Morning America.

If highway crashes are our worst nightmare, rain is a close second.  One drop of water in the wrong place can put you out of business.  Jason kept the gear covered.  We didn't have a problem.  I wish I updated social media a bit more.  The station took care of most of it.  I really tried to avoid taking my phone out of my raincoat pocket.  The phone did get wet during my phone calls to the station.  It kept working.

The driver was finally rescued around 8:30 am.  We wrapped it up during the 8:56 am update, and it was back to the station.  My first stop was the make up room, where I used someone's hair dryer to dry my shirt.  My two coats are on chairs near my desk, getting some air.  My ball cap is being dried by the fan I keep on my desk.

My problems were minuscule compared to the issues faced by first responders, and of course the truck driver.  A truck, upside down, facing down an embankment.  A man trapped inside.  A steep slope.  Driving rain.  Mud everywhere.

I've covered a lot of crashes over the years.  This had to be one of the most challenging.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Settling Dust

It's been one week since the primary.  A few additional thoughts...

I had the Lackawanna County turnout percentage the day after the election.  It was bad.  Luzerne County also reported some lousy turnout figures.  It's not difficult to see why.  Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Bob Casey both ran for their nominations unopposed.  The bottom of the ballot races, while important, didn't excite people.

Only one in six voted in Philadelphia, according to the Inquirer.

If there's anyone who doesn't expect a bloody and bruising battle between Casey and Republican Lou Barletta, I'd like to meet them.  From what some insiders have said, Democrats think they will have an easy time against Barletta.  It remains to be seen.  As always, turnout will be key, especially in Philadelphia, where the Democrats have the registration edge.  Turnout there was weak two years ago, and it helped put Donald Trump in the White House.

According to PennLive.com, some big Republicans don't think Barletta can do it.  If there is no national money coming in, that race could be over fast.

Sen. Casey had a combination primary victory celebration and campaign kick off party Saturday night at a union hall in Dunmore.  Plusses:  Saturday night.  Plenty of people could attend.  Unions are important to the Democratic strategy.  Fun.  Informal.  Minus:  media exposure.  Not prime time.

The 112th was among the more fascinating races this year.  After a crowded primary, it's interesting to see if a party, usually Democrat, comes together to support the nominee.  After all, there are always bruised feelings, hurt egos, etc.  Kyle Mullins' vote total was so high, he might not need much help from the four people he defeated.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Dr. Perry

We'll begin the week with another Marywood memory.  Relax.  The month is almost over.  I'll be done soon.

Someone recently mentioned the name of Dr. George F. Perry in the comment section of my Facebook page.  Dr. Perry was head of the communications department during my stay.  I promised a blog entry, and here it is.

Let me describe The Doctor.  Soft spoken, well mannered, always looked great.  I don't think I ever saw him with a loosened tie.  To a long haired rock and roll disc jockey, my initial impression was stuffy and more than a bit intimidating.  He was my adviser.  I think we met once in the advisory role at the beginning of my four years, and again a couple of years later when I added a minor in public relations.    I never needed his services other than that.  Nothing personal.  Scheduling and related matters really didn't require a lot of help.

I did see Dr. Perry aggravated and annoyed only a couple of times (never at me).  I never saw him lose his temper.

Below is a very old George Perry photo I lifted from Marywood's Instagram site.



I had several Dr. Perry courses.  While I can't say they were great fun, I will say, without a doubt, that I learned.  That's what it was all about.  Conventional wisdom was that Dr. Perry merely tolerated the radio and TV people.  He really favored the theater majors.  While he might have liked them more, radio and television were never neglected.  He was always there for us.

Now, the really good stuff.  You had to do a senior project in order to graduate.  In my day, that was a 60 minute radio program, a 30 minute TV program, or a long paper.  I chose the paper, the only one in my class to do so.  I believe I was the only one to do that in years.  Why?  Well, self confidence was never my strong point.  Undertaking those other productions required the help of several classmates.  While that wouldn't be a problem, I preferred working by myself.  It was the paper for me.

Dr. Perry approved the topic.  I wrote it and submitted it.  It was more than 50 pages.  Typed.  Remember, this was the day before computers and word processors.  We met toward the end of my very last semester to talk about it.  The grade:  "A"  The talk was open and honest.  I will never forget it.  I said "Dr. Perry, a lot of people here think I took the easy way out by writing the paper."  His response was that I didn't,  and he added, "Some people took the easy way out in their projects, and I nailed them."  I nearly fell out of my chair in Dr. Perry's little office in the Fine Arts Building.
While it was a major compliment and I appreciated it, something bothered me.  It still bothers me to this day.  You finally discover how nice someone is, how cool, upfront, and honest they are, just as they are about to leave your life.  It's happened before.  It never fails to frustrate me.

Dr. Perry retired in 1991, eight years after I graduated.  He passed away several years after that.  I think I've done some really good work over the years, especially in recent years.  Dr. Perry is partially responsible, and I'm sorry he's not here to see it.  I'm very sorry that I didn't say thank you.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Andy's Angles: My Least Favorite

This is supposed to be a celebration month, so I'm not going super negative on Marywood's new library.  It's only about two years old.  Long story short:  it's the wrong building in the wrong location, and it doesn't fit in with the rest of the campus.
This is a picture of the back side of the library.  The old library, which really needed to be replaced, was on the right.  One of my original criticisms was the new library sliced the campus in half.  The Great Wall of Marywood.  I suspected the "slice" effect would be lessened when the old library was torn down.

I was wrong.

Marywood needed a new library, and I'm sure there's  a "wow" factor when prospective students get a look, inside and out.   I realize what they were trying to do here.  Nudge the culture.  Go fresh and modern.  Show Marywood is a school of the future.  Totally understood.  Architecture is extremely subjective.  Traditionalists still have some issues, but that's all past tense.  The front photo was taken in May of last year.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Andy's Angles: My Favorite

My parade of Marywood University memories rolls along.  I've been showing campus photos this month to mark the 35th anniversary of my graduation.

This is my favorite building on campus, sort of.  This is Marywood's post office and printing center.  When I started in 1979, this building was much smaller and I loved it.  It looked like a building that would house Santa's elves at the North Pole.  It was a tiny brick building and it was adorable-- filled with charm.  Friend and classmate June Ann Greco dug up the photo you see below.  Thanks, Junie!


The building was expanded several years ago.  It appears the architects did their best to preserve some of the original flavor.  One of my most vivid memories of the place was burning out a printer here while making several copies of my thesis in 1983.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Swift One

There is a line from the theme to the incredibly forgettable, even though it was on for nine years, sitcom "Alice."  It goes "kicking myself for nothing was my favorite sport."

There was a recent epiphany while writing these, seemingly endless to you, blog entries about college.

After I graduated, I stopped at the college radio station to say good bye on my way back to my car in the parking lot.  I went home, took a nap, and went to work at midnight.  For years, decades even, I kicked myself for not going out and doing something fun to celebrate my new degree.  I'm sure my boss at WARM would have understood, and freed me from the midnight to 5:30 AM shift for once.

Then, I thought about it for a moment recently.  After four years of college, I had drifted away from my neighborhood and high school friends.  They're all great people, but you know how it is.  You go in different directions.  I envy those who are able to keep up friendships.  It wasn't easy for me.  I was usually working while my friends were sleeping and vice versa.  My best college friends were dorm girls, and they were gone-- some for the summer.  Some, forever.

I liked to work and I liked my job. Heading to WARM in Avoca made perfect sense.   Unfortunately, it took me 35 years to realize it. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Follow Up Thursday


One more thing I should have mentioned during yesterday's political analysis entry...  I visited four polling places in the 112th yesterday.  Only one candidate had someone handing out cards at every location-- Kyle Mullins.  Mullins won the race.  Connection?  Maybe.  No one likes being bombarded by candidate's surrogates as they enter the polls, and I'm convinced most people make up their minds before entering the building, it does show the strength of organization.  By the way, the regulation keeping those people away from the doors need to be enforced more rigorously, maybe even strengthened to keep them away.

Even FOX News admitted four or five of Pennsylvania's U.S. house seats could flip from Republican to Democratic in November.  It will be interesting to see how much money the national Democratic and Republican organizations pump in to Pennsylvania races.  Follow the money.  If the national organizations don't spend, it means they've given up on that particular contest.

Even though I have the boxed set, and several episodes are available on-line, I'm still disappointed Antenna TV no longer plays "Barney Miller" at 12:30 AM.  I never get tired of seeing them.

I'm not much of a cheerleader, but Kurt Aaron, John Hickey, and Ally Gallo did a great job during Tuesday's tornado warning.  Dozens of people you never see helped make it happen.  Hats off to them as well.  Proud to serve!  I was lucky.  Zero damage in my neighborhood.  Electricity never even flickered.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Numbers

The numbers are in.  Thank you to those of you who voted.  It was a frighteningly quiet day at the polls I visited yesterday.

Some thoughts...

Scott Wagner breezes to the Republican nomination for governor.  It should be a bruising campaign against Tom Wolf in the fall.  Some geniuses thought Laura Ellsworth would make a stronger showing.  She had little name recognition, less money than the others, and didn't make a push until late in the campaign.  As I write this, she has 18 per cent of the vote.  Not awful, but not near what some expected.  Ellsworth was impressive.  The Republican party should find a place for her somewhere.

Jeff Bartos breezed to the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.  He was Wagner's choice, so no surprise here.

John Fetterman easily wins the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.  People really seem to like his style.  He's not a traditional politician.  That resonates with voters.  Current lieutenant governor, Mike Stack finishes back in the pack.  He caught heat for the way he treated staff and security.  Voters sent him to the bench, and let's face it.  Stack earned it.  The Stack people said geography did them in, and there is some logic to that.  Fetterman cleaned up in Allegheny County.  However, don't be naive.  Voters tired of the Stack act.

Lou Barletta cruised to the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.  He meets Democrat Bob Casey in November.  This should be a fun race.  Barletta told Newswatch 16 that this contest will be a referendum on the Trump presidency.  Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016.  Expect the president to campaign for Barletta, one of his early supporters.  Politico says Casey is on its vulnerable list.  This should be the fun race of 2018.  It was a respectable showing by Barletta's underfunded opponent, Jim Christiana.  At just 35 years old, you'll probably be seeing his name again.

John Chrin wins the Republican nomination for U.S. Congress in the 8th district.  He had the money for the ads.

Dan Mueser wins the Republican congressional nomination in the 9th district.  Again, a well funded campaign.

Tom Marino wins another Republican nomination in the 12th congressional district.  There was a cloud over Marino after the failed drug czar thing.  Voters in his district apparently didn't think that was a factor.

If there was a surprise last night, it was the size of Kyle Mullins' victory in the 112th state house race.  Big numbers.  I really thought this one would be closer.  Mullins was the favorite.  Plenty of signs, TV ads, smooth campaign.  Tom Carlucci of Dunmore finishes a distant second.  I think you'll see his name again.  Former Lackawanna County commissioner Randy Castellani loses another race.

Lackawanna County's turnout rate was 24 per cent, which was actually higher than I expected.  Polls were very quiet in the morning, and the nasty line of storms arrived in the afternoon.

Let's take a deep breath and get ready for the fall.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Election Day

It's finally here!  Election Day.  Polls open at 7 am, and they stay open until 8 pm.

Barring unforeseen events and circumstances, my day will go like this-- a fast food breakfast, tweaking of scripts when I get to the office, introducing some preview pieces from a polling place, and then doing a story for the noon broadcast on morning voter turnout.

I'll then hand off to the dayside reporters and photographers, and the people who will be around as the numbers come in.

After a nap, I'll be up during prime time to watch my coworkers handle the election returns.  A little analysis should be in this space tomorrow morning.  I have some ideas about what might happen today. We'll see if I was right.

There are those who are looking at the primary as an indicator of trends and possibilities in November.  I think there is some truth in that.  But, remember that Tip O'Neill said "all politics is local."

You might notice, I'm leaving something out-- voting.  I'm an independent, so I'm forced by law to spend this election day on the sidelines.

Check this space, plus Twitter @AndyPalumbo_ for some election day notes as we move through Tuesday.

Please vote.  It matters.

>>>2:45 AM UPDATE:  Election morning tradition of a spicy chicken sandwich and fries breakfast continues.  This particular fast food restaurant seems to have stabilized.  Good sandwich, average fries.  Decent service.  Much better than recent years, but still room for improvement.    Arrived at the office, double checked scripts.  WNEP election coordinator Brian Holmes informed me last night that two candidates I really wanted to speak with today will be out of town.  Official business.  I guess that's what happens when you don't have primary opponents.

>>>4:45 AM UPDATE:  First live shot of the day done, several more to go.  We chose Greenwood Hose in Moosic as our backdrop.  Why?  Why not?  It was a bit strartling when we arrived.  There is not one political sign outside the building.  I went on line to make sure it is still a polling place.  It is.  Really.  Trust me.  I'm a reporter.

>>>7:20 AM UPDATE:  Polls opened 20 minutes ago.  Light turnout in Moosic, but this is a heavily Democratic town and some of the big Democratic races have no opposition.  Poll workers tell me they don't expect to be very busy today.  I was here for the presidential election two years ago, and there was a line when the polls opened.

>>>10:40 AM UPDATE:  A flurrie of activity...  visited four polling places.  Very weak turnout, even in places where it was expected to be good.  As usual, there is traditionally a bump when people get out of work.  We did run in to a few people who wanted to vote before the rain hit.  Saw some old friends this morning in Olyphant!  Wrote my noon story, met with management on other topics, sweating profusely, almost ready for noon.

>>>2:30  PM UPDATE:   Noon story and accompanying live shot went well.  Photographer Jason handled my morning stuff.  Photographer Dave edited the nmoon piece and handled the live shot.  Thank you.  Saddened by weak voter turnout in Lackawanna County.  I hope it's better elsewhere.  Finally arrived home after a whirlwind of family responsibilities and errands.  I can relax and breathe for a moment.  I've been up since 9:30 last night, and let's just say I've had better days.   Time for a little sleep, and watching the returns later on.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Primary Concerns

Part of the fun of an election is doing the research in the days leading up to the vote-- looking for the big races, the issues, the candidates, the history...

I've been tinkering with the scripts for some election morning previews for several days now.  They are almost ready to go.

Once again, I am stunned and saddened by the races with no competition.  The system won't improve until there is some real choice, and I feel sorry for the voters.

I also checked the numbers from the last mid term election, four years ago.  Those numbers were anemic, and that too makes me sad.  Every election, I hope this is the year things turn around.  Every election, I am disappointed.

Hope to see you at the polls tomorrow.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Andy's Angles: Diploma

I never framed it.  I never displayed it.  It doesn't mean I'm not proud of it.  I received it on the third Sunday of May, 35 years ago.

You may ask why I never pursued a higher degree, and there are times regret not doing that.

The reason is simple.  After 12 years of public school and another four of college, I wanted to get out and DO something.  I guess it was possible to have a job and get an advanced degree, but, for me, it was time to get to work.  On top of that, no local institution had what I wanted, and this was before you could do much of your advanced degree work on-line.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Andy's Angles: Graduation Weekend

The actual 35th anniversary of my college graduation is the 15th, which falls on a Tuesday this year, so I'm considering this "graduation weekend."

There is something I'd like to draw your attention to today.  Above is the front cover of the graduation day program.  Below is the back.
Take a look at the left column, about half way down.  I was honorable mention for the Lynett Medal for distinction in communication arts.  Mark Weigel won the award-- a great, hardworking guy.  I'm sorry I've lost touch with him.  No one nicer, and no one more deserving.  Mark majored in public relations.  I was a Radio and TV guy, so I consider myself the top broadcaster of the class of 1983.  Petty?  Yes!  But, it's kept me going all these years.

What did I get?  Other than standing at graduation when my name was read, absolutely nothing!  I really shouldn't say that.  There was a great deal of self satisfaction and accomplishment, which remains to this day.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Follow Up Friday

I've told you in the past how I feel old Johnny Carson shows on WNEP2 are better than any of the current late night offerings.

It's funny how Carson introduced so many comics as the "next big rising star" had a "Tonight" show appearance-- and then disappeared.  To be fair, there were more than a few successes.

In a similar vein, I still marvel at the production values of the old "American Top 40" shows, hosted by Casey Kasem.  There were so many songs that hit the charts, stayed there for a little while-- and failed to become enduring hits that we still hear today.

Getting back to late night comedy for a moment, TBS is cutting Conan O'Brien's show to 30 minutes next year.  More pre recorded comedy, fewer interviews.  It took me a long time to warm up to Conan.  He always tried to be funnier than his guests, a major sin.  The act has matured, and there are many nights Conan is very fun and watchable.  I think if he had the "Tonight" show now, Conan would hit it out of the park.

A new book about the life and death of Robin Williams is coming out.  I've read excerpts.  Just when you thought the story couldn't get more sad...   If you haven't seen it already, check out David Letterman's 2014 tribute to Robin Williams on YouTube.

Last week, I told you how I botched my first bike ride while wearing a GPS watch.  I didn't hit the right button.  Well, I got it figured out this week, and it did a nice job of tracking my route and my mileage.  I had a rough idea of the mileage because I tracked the route with my car a few years ago.  The watch backed up what I learned in the car.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sinclair



No, not THAT one!


Once upon a time, when I was a wee lad, my uncle Tom owned a gas station.  He sold Sinclair branded gasoline.  Green is my favorite color.  The Sinclair mascot was a brontosaurus.  It adds up to the fact that I loved my rare visits to the gas station.  First of all, I really liked my uncle Tom.  Plus, there was an old time soda machine and a snack machine.  I had no interest in being a mechanic, but I did enjoy having a candy bar or cheese and crackers, a cold soda, and watching him work.

Eventually, Sinclair and that cool dinosaur gave way to BP.  You know how the corporate world is.  I grew older and had a new set of concerns.  The visits to uncle Tom's gas station because even more rare, and I was sorry about that.

While pondering this blog entry, I did a little research.  I was tickled to learn that Sinclair gas exits.  There are still stations out west, and they even sell tee shirts via mail order.  I'll be ordering a couple.

A few years ago, I was in one of those big box hobby stores.  They had metal signs that were replicas of old ads.  You know, beer companies, soft drinks, and gas stations.  There was a Sinclair in the stack.  Reasonably priced.  I didn't buy it.  Regret.  I don't get to that store often.  To be honest, I don't know why I was there in the first place.  I'm not a hobbyist, crafter, or decorator.  I think I was just killing time, and the store was new to the area.  On my next visit, Sinclair and the rest were gone.

Don't ask me what triggered it, but I recently thought about uncle Tom and Sinclair.  I went on line and found the signs.  They were cheap.  I bought two round ones, about the size of a small pizza pan.  They arrived this week.  One is on my wall at home.  I might display the other in a different area.  I'm sure it will be a conversation starter.

Uncle Tom left us many years ago.  The gas station is still there.  The gas days are over.  It's just a garage now.

There is a round piece of thin green and white metal on my wall now, and a fierce dinosaur gives me a great deal of comfort.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Just Because

I really don't pay attention to those "National ______ Day" things.  In fact, I find them exceptionally tedious.

Last week was some day noting the accomplishments of journalists.  I'm not sure if it was a conicidence, but a friend asked me if going to work is still fun.  After all, I have been doing this for a while.  The answer was "yes."

There are frustrations-- like technology and the business side of things.  I occasionally run out of things to say about snow.  The foundation, show and tell, remains the same.  It's really a rush to learn about things first, take a breath, and decide how to tell the world about it.  Choose the words, the pictures, the emotions...

Sometimes, I'm jotting notes on a legal pad out in the field.  There are other times when I have the luxury of sitting at a keyboard to tap it out.  As noted here earlier, there is still self doubt and I think it will remain.  At times. I wonder if I can do a story justice, if I can match the words and the pictures to make it work.  I will admit to worrying for nothing.  When a story flows, when a story really works, you know it-- and it still feels good, even after decades on the job.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

On Second Thought...

A few weeks ago, I noted here how I was actually happy Brett Favre botched his Monday Night Football audition because being a broadcaster, news or sports, isn't as easy as it looks.  I have no animosity toward Brett Favre.   I was just trying to illustrate a point.
ESPN found another rookie for its MNF booth in the fall, Jason Witten.  He retired from the Dallas Cowboys Thursday, and signed with the TV network.

It seems to be the trend.  Sign a big name.  Roll the dice.  CBS struck gold when it hired Tony Romo last year, and made him part of the number one team.  Romo worked out well, but I'm the conservative type.  I would have kept him away from the top games until he learned his craft.  ESPN was looking for a name.  Peyton Manning turned them down.  The move creates a lot of buzz for a package of games that doesn't draw the interest it once did.  

I hope it works out.  Jason Witten seems like a decent guy, and let's face it.  It's a football game-- not the nightly news.  I just can't get away from the belief that there are hundreds of people out there who have paid their dues and deserved the shot.
 

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Week Late

My bike usually comes out of storage in mid or late April.  I ride early in the morning, but not if it's below 50 degrees.  A bundled up bike ride isn't much fun, and springtime temperatures have been elusive this year.

That changed last week.  It was a taste of summer in early May, so there I was, pedaling about town.  Fresh batteries in the light, back in Spandex and a reflective vest, dodging potholes, skunks and bunnies, hitting those little pockets of cool air, feeling my thighs burn.  Good times.

I have a tendency to overdress, but I went light this time.  Smart move.

Observations:  nothing really out of the ordinary.  Unless you put big ones on every pole, LED street lights are useless, roads are still a mess, most drivers are courteous, an amazing number of people barbecue and run their clothes dryers in the middle of the night.

This was my first bike ride with a GPS watch.  Had it charged and ready to go, paired via Bluetooth with my phone.  The watch found the satellite easily, but I hit the wrong button and it didn't record my trip.  You could have heard me scream two towns away.  I'll get it next time.  It looks like I'll need my glasses when I ride, so I can see what's going on with my watch.

Even though I regularly peddle ten miles on a bike at the gym all winter long, it's quite a bit different when you're on the street.  I intended to start small, but I would up going my usual route-- and even a little more.  Unfortunately, there is no proof.

This is the start of my seventh season on the bike.  It's still as much fun as the first.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Arch


The way I see it, there are two defining elements of my alma mater, Marywood University.  There is the dome of the Liberal Arts Center and what you see here-- the arch on North Washington Avenue, topped by what everyone calls "Electric Mary."  Yes, the halo is electrified and it glows.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Rotunda

I've told this story here before, but a repeat is in order because it's the 35th anniversary of my Marywood graduation.  This is what you see when you look up as you enter the Liberal Arts Center.

I will never forget my first time here.

Thanks to my own stupidity and a non existent high school guidance department, I applied to Marywood without ever taking a tour or talking to anyone here.  Yes, there were several visits, as a high schooler, to the library and that was about it.  I didn't know you could visit before you committed.  Yes, that seems absurd.  I knew Marywood had a radio station, and I was sold.

I arrived on a summer day to pick up a new student packet from the admissions office, which was at the back of the building.  You had to pass through the rotunda to get there.  I remember looking up, in absolute awe, and thinking I was in big trouble.  I was a kid, albeit with pretty good grades, from a lousy public high school.  I didn't belong here.  It wasn't too late to turn back, but I didn't feel that way at the time.  I wondered if I had made one of the biggest mistakes in my 17 years.

My packet was waiting.  I took it home to give it a good going over.  More terror.  This wasn't skating through high school.  This was serious stuff- and my parents were paying for it.

There was what might have been a defining moment.  As I had the catalog and all the other paperwork spread out on my bed, I had the radio on.  The song playing:  "Yesterday" by the Beatles.  All my troubles were not far away.  They were in black and white, right in front of me.

August rolled around.  Orientation.  New classes.  New surroundings.  Trying to make new friends.   I was so happy when that first semester came to an end.  As I tell kids today, that first one is the most difficult.  The college makes that first semester schedule for you.  They handed me 18 credits, based on my high schools grades and my SAT's.  That was the upper limit.  Dumb bunny me didn't know you could drop or modify the schedule.  I didn't touch it and it was a good thing.  I went heavy my first couple of years, so my last two were a breeze.  More on that at another time.

The moral of the story:  You never fully know what you can do until you actually try, and you might even surprise yourself.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Friday Scrapple


Sonic at the Wyoming Valley Mall closed.  Published reports say the restaurant owner and the mall could not agree on a new lease.  I've been at the mall.  This is not the time to be fighting with tenants.

I was never a huge Bill Cosby fan, but I respected his ability to draw a crowd.  There is no joy in watching his fall.  My heart goes out to the victims.

It is simply amazing to see the leaders of the two Koreas talking.

I attempted to make a bitmoji, but as hard as I tried, it just didn't look like me.

Save my retinas.  What is it with the rapidly increasing number of people who cannot drive WITHOUT their high beams on?  There is a time and place-- but not on city streets and in small towns.

Diet Pepsi is now available in skinny cans, like Diet Coke.  The shape of the can makes absolutely no difference to me.

"The Price is Right" won an Emmy Sunday evening.  Well deserved.  The show has evolved over the years, and while I miss the Bob Barker days, Drew Carey is doing a great job.  The show is hitting on all cylinders.

I never thought I'd quote Megyn Kelly, but she is right:  "You don't know what you don't know."

I read an interesting story on how Walmart is gearing up to grab all the customers left by the Toys R Us closing.  Face is.  It's going to be a Walmart and Amazon world.  Nothing lasts forever.

There was considerable ink recently concerning the death of the man who composed those very catchy and informative "Schoolhouse Rock" songs.  Deservedly so.  At the same time, CBS was doing little newsy items between cartoons, called "In the News."   They were voiced by the great Christopher Glenn.  "In the News" ran for 15 years.  I loved those things.  I will admit to a lack of knowledge on childrens' television.  I do remember Nickelodeon was doing news for young people.  Is any of that left?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Button Down

It was driving me insane.  One of my cameras wasn't saving the day, date and other settings.  I'd have to reenter them every time I powered up the camera, only to have them disappear when I turned the camera off.

I consulted the internet for the solution, and discovered my camera has a little button battery inside that preserved the memory.  Easy access.  I saw the battery type and number and headed for the store.

CVS and Walmart had at least a dozen sizes of button batteries, but not the one I needed.  Radio Shack, how I miss you!

I went home and did what I should have done in the first place-- ordered the battery on-line.

It's one of the reasons why brick and mortar retailers are failing.  I didn't expect CVS and Walmart to have every type of battery ever made.  Specialty stores have just about disappeared.

Face it.  It's an internet world.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

UnFunny

Alleged comedian Michelle Wolf was the guest speaker at Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington.

Is that the best they could do?

I have to admit, I had never heard of Michelle Wolf before Saturday night.  Now, I've heard too much.

Not only was her routine unfunny, it was mean and filled with hate.  It's okay to tweak those in power.  Comedians have been doing that for decades.  This crossed the line.  Ms Wolf has to remember the people she savaged have feelings.  So do their families and friends. It's easy to be vulgar.  It's tough to be clever.  The good ones can do it.

The dinner raises funds for the association's scholarships, awards, and activities.  It's time to find another way to pick up the money.

I doubt I'll ever cover the White House. or become a member of the organization.

But because Wolf's garbage was sponsored by an organization of journalists, it makes us all look bad.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

About the Cover: 35

May marks the 35th anniversary of my graduation from Marywood College, now Marywood University, in Scranton.  I wandered about the campus, camera in hand, during my recent vacation.  I'll be passing along some stories and photos this month.

Marywood, now would be a good time to contact your attorneys.

I'm just kidding.  I'll be honest, as always, but it's nothing really bad.

Above is one of the nicest buildings in the area.  Heck, the nicest in the country.  It's the Liberal Arts Center.

Let the stories begin.