Friday, July 20, 2018

I Promise This Time, I Think

Apologies in advance.  Here comes another tedious blog entry on bicycle riding.

I've said it before.  I'll set a record, and then say "I proved my point.  I will settle back to a comfortable mileage, but still get a good work out."

Last week, I hit 23 and said "That's it."

I just can't help myself.  I pedaled for three hours and 31 miles yesterday morning.  Part of the key was finding a way to make it from my home to downtown Scranton without tackling any major hills.  Mission accomplished.  After tooling around downtown Scranton, I swung onto Main and up in to the mid valley, and then back home.

I was in pain when I finished but as many say, it was a good kind of pain.

Organized sports were never my thing.  Never ever.  Biking is a great way to get some exercise, and if you go early enough, it provides for some alone time.  Quiet time.  Think time.  I have a better understanding for the athlete's mentality-- always pushing for a little more.  By the way, I am NOT a serious athlete.  No Tour de France.  Maybe Tour de Olyphant.

The 31.28 record will stand for a while, I think.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I'm Tired of It

A new study came out.  Vitamin pills, tablets, capsules, etc. really don't do anything for you.

A former doctor, who passed away several years ago, once told me to take a daily multi and advised to buy the cheapest one, because they were all the same.  This is the same doctor, who I really liked, that diagnosed me with a severe vitamin D deficiency.  I was on prescription supplements for a while, and I eventually stopped taking them.

I should add that a recent check up gave me a clean bill of health.  Results of my blood work showed everything is generally where it is supposed to be.

I do pop a zinc once in a while.  Read up on it.  It's supposed to do a lot of good, and I haven't used a sick day in nearly two years.  I do a Berocca most mornings.  It's a fizzy tablet you drop in to water.  Vitamins, minerals, and some caffeine.  It's a nice little pick me up.  I don't drink coffee.

I do carry around those little 5 Hour Energy bottles, but those are for special occasions.

I guess the key to it all is to eat a balanced diet, but seriously, who has the time for that?  I assume I'm not alone because of the way the vitamin supplement industry has taken off in recent decades.

Maybe, one of these days, the science and nutrition people will get it right.  Take eggs, for example.  At one time, they were great for you, then they were poison.  Now, it's something in the middle.  The great Julia Child had it right.  She preached the philosophy of "everything in moderation."

I hope science will come up with a vitamin supplement that actually works.  But, really, why bother?  Americans are already gladly spelling billions on things that are just a waste of money.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Does It Really Work?: Shaving Pods

I'm a sucker for anything new, especially when it comes to shaving, because I hate it so much.

I stumbled upon this on Amazon.com

Shaving cream pods.  It's like those laundry detergent pods, only with shaving cream inside.
You wet your hand, and the plastic bag dissolves, leaving you with plenty of shaving cream.  Yes, they do work-- but not significantly better or worse than any of the gels that come out of a can.  Not much of a fragrance.  That can be good or bad.
 Most Amazon reviews were very positive.

The manufacturer touts it as good for travelers.  I'm not so sure.  The pods seem rather delicate, and a gentle squeeze could create a mess.

$ 12.89 for 40 pods.  I guess they make sense for some people.  I don't think will be a re-order.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

All Star Night

The Major League Baseball All Star Game was one of my summer highlights.

It hasn't been that way in years.

The reason:  TV.

The All Star Game used to be the place to see players from west coast teams, guys we rarely saw.  This is Phillies and Yankees territory.  Seeing a Royal, Astro, Giant, Padre or Angel was a treat.

Now, if you pay for it, you can see every game, every night.  I don't, but I regularly watch the MLB Network morning highlight program, which is one of the better sports TV shows.

All Star ratings have dwindled over the years.  I get that.  More stations, more choice, more competition.  We've become an NFL nation.

Thankfully, that gimmick of winning league getting World Series home field advantage is over.  bad move to start it.  Better move in getting rid of it.

There is a yearly situation and I will use Washington's Bryce Harper as an example.  Big name.  Great hitter.  Fans want to see him.  Unfortunately, Harper is having an awful 2018.  I'm inclined to say Harper is a fan favorite, it's the fans' game, so he should be on the team.  On the other hand, if a weak hitting Harper is on the All Star team, it denies someone else a shot.

Will I watch tonight?  Maybe.  If I'm up and around a television.  If not, I'll catch the highlights tomorrow morning.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday Scrapple

I had the oddest craving for Cheetos last week-- the crunchy kind, not the puffy variety, and that never happens  The urge hit while I was at work.  Fate smiled on me, and there was one bag left in the WNEP vending machine.

Sometimes, I really wonder if some radio programmers listen to their own stations.  I've been hearing a rash of sloppy execution lately, especially during the top of the hour network newscasts.

Advances in LED lighting technology are great, but I still think they make lousy street lights-- unless your town invests in the really big ones.

I've been using my smart watch on my little bike trips for a few months now.  I'm still fascinated by how it works-- and my model isn't even high end.

This is kind of "inside baseball," but remember that old saying that "money goes to money?"  It has been especially true in recent days.

Why does the first half of the month go by more quickly than the second half?

Any list of underrated sings needs to include "Vienna" by Billy Joel.

Why is Camp Bisco tolerated?

I was watching a professional golf tournament on TV the other day, and I had no idea who those people were.

Is the World Cup over yet?

Scranton City Hall needs $ 8 million in repairs.  The building is a gem.  There are no other options.

If you get a chance, go to YouTube and watch some of the interviews with David Brinkley.  He talks about the Nixon years.  Nixon didn't like the media, and reporters really didn't like Nixon.  Brinkley said the media's job is not to love or hate.  It's to report what happens.  We've lost sight of that.

I'm about done with summer.

My weekend highlight was ordering shredder lubricating sheets.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Andy's Angles: The Cathedral

It is the mother church of the Catholic Diocese of Scranton.  This is a recent pre dawn shot of St. Peter's Cathedral in Scranton.  The church is closed for renovations.  It's scheduled to reopen in the fall.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Andy's Angles: Stained

I try to avoid things religious here, but occasionally something catches my eye.  I was doing a story in front of St. Peter's Cathedral in Scranton on a recent morning, and I really liked the way the light came through the huge stained glass window in the front.

Friday, July 13, 2018

I Want One!

This was unveiled this week at a trade show in Germany called Eurobike.  It is a chainless bicycle that uses 21 ceramic bearings to transfer power.  The bike is said to be so efficient that 99 per cent of the pedaling effort goes to moving the bike forward.

It's only a prototype.  No one knows if it will ever make it to market.  If it does, I'm guessing it will be enormously expensive and I'll be dead before the price comes down.

It was a good week for me and my six year old bike.  Two rides.  41 miles total, including moving in to some new territory.  Sore leg muscles, but a great feeling overall.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Let it Be

I recently came across some You Tube video of my work at one of the stations in town from 22 years ago.  My experiences there were among the unhappiest of my career.  I grabbed some stills, shared them with friends, and we all had a good laugh.  I looked so young back then.  Other than the chuckle, all I could think of was months and months of misery.

My expended biking route takes me past the site of my old junior high school.  The site of one of my elementary schools and my high school is also part of the new journey.  Once again, all I can think of is the unhappiness.

It's not just one sided.  There have been plenty of people over the years who deserved better from me.  Several have received apologies.  The list isn't all that extensive, but let's just say there is more work to be done.

I know our experiences, good and bad, make us who we are.  I've learned more from my failures rather than my successes.

Those with the ability to "Let it Be" have my envy.

But, most days, I stare at the ceiling, wishing there were so many things I could just forget.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

I Lied

Last month, as I was gradually increasing my cycling length and testing my smart watch, I said I was going to hit 20 miles, just to see if I could do it.  Afterward, I would scale back to something in the mid and upper teens.

As you probably know from my endless yammering about it, I hit 21.5.  The next few rides were a little shorter.  I was out for only 45 minutes on one morning during the heat wave.  It was brutal.

Something funny happened Tuesday morning.

The weather was absolutely perfect.  Starry sky.  Temperatures in the mid and upper 60's.  Empty streets.  Aired up tires.  A freshly lubed chain.  A wonderful planetary alignment.  The only thing that was less than perfect was a crescent moon.  There is nothing like pedaling around with your path lit by a giant full moon.

Anyway, I looked down at my watch after being out for a couple of hours.  I was surprised to see I was getting close to record territory.  The ride had been relatively effortless so far, so I thought, why not keep going?   The last couple of miles were tough, but there was a great deal of satisfaction when I topped 23 miles on my last block.

So, what's next?  Some friends are pushing for 25.  I'm not sure.  We're headed into a couple of months of warm and humid nights.  I might give it a shot as we approach fall.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

World News Tonight @ 40

July 10th is the 40th anniversary of the first World News Tonight on ABC.

I can yammer on for days on the genius of ABC News president Roone Arledge. He couldn't attract a big star like Rather or Brokaw to ABC, so he went with three anchors. Arledge had to do something different. He was left with the smoldering rubble of the ABC EVening News with Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters.

He didn't want Barbara Walters to anchor, even though her contract specified it. Arledge got around it by saying his new broadcast wouldn't have anchors. It would have desks-- a national desk with Frank Reynolds in Washington, a domestic desk with Max Robinson in Chicago, and a foreign desk with Peter Jennings in London.

Critics hated the new World News Tonight. It was unusual for its time-- a lot of bouncing around, faster paced than NBC and CBS. I get that part. What the critics didn't notice was the better story telling, the increased use of graphics to help the presentation. It took a while, but ABC was catching up on Cronkite, and CBS noticed.

The three desk really didn't last all that long. Max Robinson left and returned to local TV. Frank Reynolds died. Peter Jennings returned to the United States and became sole anchor.

World News Tonight revolutionized TV news. Happy 40.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Monday Scrapple

That July 4th hot dog eating contest used to mildly entertaining.  Now, it's just plain disgusting.  Stop it.  Stop it now.  Note to the people at Nathan's:  Do you really want your product associated with such nauseating behavior?

The July 4th Statue of Liberty protester succeeded in ruing the holiday for hundreds of people.  Congratulations!  On the other hand, she was all over television.  I'm assuming she considers the endeavor a success.

Fireworks is suspected in a few house fires here in our area.  One left 25 people looking for new places to live. Some neighborhoods were like war zones.  Complaints filled the newspapers and social media.   Fireworks regulations were loosened this year.  Clearly, the state has to rethink this.  It will never happen.  When the regs loosened, taxes went up.  The state has found a new cash cow, and once that happens, the ball game is over.  It will probably take a death or two to force a change, and I'm not sure it will happen even then.

I'm thrilled the heat wave has ended.

I know supermarkets have become all things to all people-- beer and wine, pharmacies, auto supplies, school supplies, etc.  One supermarket actually sells bicycles for children.  How I miss the days of Sears and American Auto.

I'm so happy LeBron James has finally made a choice.

What can you say about the Thailand cave rescue?  Despite all our technology, nature always has the upper hand.

I think I've visited Toys R Us twice in my life.  Still,  a viral photograph of Geoffrey the Giraffe with a going away suitcase was exceptionally sad.

Has Oscar Mayer stopped making jalapeno cheese hot dogs?  They were outstanding.

The days of blaming the freeze/thaw cycle are over.  Why do we still have so many potholes?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Andy's Angles: Demolition

Demolition is underway at the old Scranton Lace Factory.  The project was only a few days old during my visit, so I was disappointed that I couldn't see the guts of the building.
While I am very sorry to see it go, I'm anxious to see what the demolition reveals.
Updates to follow.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Andy's Angles: Scranton and Old Lace

Demolition on the old Scranton Lace factory recently began.  While it makes me sad, I do get.  Our heavy duty industrial days are over.  The buildings are massive, and there will never be enough money to restore and reuse them.  Never ever.
The place was a city unto itself, and I hoped getting a look at the demolition would expose some of the long unseen guts of the operation.  My July 1 visit was a little too early.  Some demolition photos tomorrow, and I promise to return when the project moves on.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Under the Strawberry Moon

One of the reasons I like riding my bike early in the morning is it offers plenty of alone time, plenty of think time.

As I pedaled through the streets on a Friday morning last week, I was thinking about the old days.  Here's the trigger.  I've been running in to one of my childhood friends quite a bit really.  I think you call it a route salesman.  He delivers bread to stores in the early morning hours.  Great guy.

I was entering a big box store as he was leaving one morning last week.  He remarked that he sees more of me now than when we were kids.

Not really.

We were just about daily companions during junior high and high school.  Riding bikes.  Going bowling.  Wiffle ball.  Sandlot hardball.  Just plain old walking around town and hanging out in the local playground.

I replied I'd kill for one more wiffle ball game.

It's safe to say, it will never happen.  I work odd hours.  Other than my salesman friend, I've lost touch with a couple of other members of the neighborhood group.  Still another has passed away.

Is there a moral to the story?  Maybe.  First, it's great to ride your bike on quiet streets during a full moon.  Second, it might seem like mindless time wasting when you're a kid, but there will come a day when you realize they were some of your happiest years.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

5th of July

I hope you had a happy and safe Independence Day, the first with the state's new relaxed fireworks sales laws.  Simply put, we can buy bigger stuff, and more dangerous stuff.  I don't know one person in law enforcement, one firefighter, or one medical services person who thinks this is a good idea.

But, money talks.  When the state relaxed the laws, it also hiked the fireworks tax by 18 per cent.  You pay it when you go to the store.  Fire departments also pay the tax when they hire someone to do the shows at summer time carnivals.  Always remember, businesses don't pay taxes.  They just pass that on to you.

We've already seen a few fire companies cancel carnivals.  Expenses are up.  The number of volunteers is down.

The phenomenon is not new.  When I was a kid, my church stopped its yearly summer carnival.  It was a ton of work, and it just didn't pay off.  The priest then concocted a special summer time collection.  He wanted you to take the money you would have spent at the carnival, stuff it in an envelope, and give it to the church.  I know it takes a lot of money to run a church, and even though it was done with the best of intentions, I thought the summer carnival collection was just a bad idea.  The church closed long ago.

A summer picnic or carnival is more than a money raiser.  It's a chance to get out, meet your neighbors, and bring communities together.  I really miss that.  I spent many a summer night with a ketchuppy cup of fries and a slice of pizza.  It was part of small town life, and it's unfortunate that in many places, those things no longer exist.

Churches and fire companies are the same as every other business.  If it don't pay, it don't stay.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day

On this day when we celebrate independence and freedom, a picture of the memorial on the Walk of Honor outside the Wayne County Courthouse in Honesdale.

Please, celebrate safely, and remember what the day is all about .

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tuesday Scrapple

Planter's is bringing back its cheese balls.  Why?

Scranton is adding 50 downtown apartments, in the old county administration building.  Where are these people going to park?

Wilkes-Barre is arguing about its parking issues-- again.  You get 8 minutes for a quarter at a meter.  That can't be helping downtown businesses.

Wilkes-Barre now wants the state to call it "financially distressed."   I know times are tough.  Residents are taxed out.  Cities have massive pension obligations.  I see the whole thing as simply sad.

What happened to Wendy's chili?  Watery.  Zero flavor.

Looks like a prolonged fight over a U.S. Supreme Court nominee is on the way.  And we wonder why people lose faith in government.

It's tough to top long, cold and dark January, but July is becoming one of my least favorite months.  Too hot, too noisy.  A vacation week at the end of the month lessens the blow.

A couple of people actually responded to messages left on LinkedIn!  Amazing!

It appears all the Toys R Us stores are now closed.  It's so sad how a good thing, with a decent share of the market, got off the tracks.

I can listen to "Peg" by Steely Dan all day long.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette will publish only five days a week beginning in the late summer.  The newspaper is transitioning in to a digital world.  It's also teaching people how to live without a fresh newspaper on your doorstep every morning.  How many newspapers will follow?  How long will they last?

It appears so many in state government are looking to create headlines rather than do good jobs and craft good policy.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Match Game 45

Match Game 73 made its debut on CBS 45 years ago today.  The debut was actually delayed a week or so because of the Watergate hearings.

Back in March,  I wrote about the 45th anniversary of the debut of the $10,000 Pyramid and called it a game changer-- the return of big money to daytime TV.  Match Game, too, was a game changer, but a different type.

It was filled with double entendres and risque humor.  Host Gene Rayburn was the first to call celebrities' and contestants' responses as "rotten" if the shoe fit.  In several interviews, Rayburn said he had to emphasize the humor because it was such a lousy game.  Let's face it.  It all came down to dumb luck and choosing the easier question.  Responses were common sense, and when in doubt, just make a boob joke.  By the way, the Buzzr network recently replayed premiere week, and it took only a few days in to the run for the boob jokes to appear.

Weak game play aside, Match Game 73 was sheer genius.  First of all, Johnny Olsen was the best game show announcer.  Ever.  The fun music would start.  The light rack with the logo would illuminate then fly out of the screen. Gene would make some sort of goofy entrance.   It might be one of the best game show openings in TV history.  Rayburne started using that long, skinny, telescoping microphone a few years in to the run.  Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly were underratedly funny.  The set was a burst of orange.  Contestants would rotate in and out on a turntable.  Producer Mark Goodson loved his sets to feature bright colors.  His reasoning that while channel surfing, you would stop on something bright, colorful and visually interesting.

It was the show you rushed home from school to see, and the one you talked about with your friends the next day.

Match Game lasted 7 years on CBS and another few in syndication.  There was a night time version, and you were able to watch 10 new episodes a week.  All those shows took a toll.  By 76 or 77, you could see much of the energy was gone.  Everyone burned out.

I still manage to catch a few episodes a week, and it still makes me laugh

Sunday, July 1, 2018

About the Cover: Wayne County Courthouse

This month's blog header is one of my favorite buildings in one of my favorite towns-- the Wayne County Courthouse in Honesdale.

As noted earlier, this is where I covered my first outside news story as a young radio reporter, in March 1982.  I had been with WARM nearly one year when the news director thought I should take the next step.  It was a homicide trial.  I was in over my head, but Terry McNulty was afternoon news anchor during that era, and he guided me through.  I couldn't have done it without him.

In the past, I've described Honesdale as one of those places you expect to see Andy Taylor walking out of the courthouse and Opie riding his bike around town.  That is not an insult.  Honesdale has some small town, old style charm.

On the other hand, PennDOT really needs to do something about those speedways running through the borough, and the county needs to embark on trimming back the trees that hide the front of the courthouse.