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Monday, March 25, 2019

TMI + 40

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island.

I remember it like it was yesterday.  In 1979, we had one of those mini warm spells we often get in late March.  I was a senior in high school.  My best friend, Dave, and I skipped school and spent the batter part of the day taking pictures at Lackawanna State Park.  I was picking up the prints from a Photo Quick booth in Dunmore.  I had just turned my car on to the O'Neill Highway when I heard the first mention of TMI on my car's radio.

To get you up to speed, there was a time when photos were shot on film, and you had to take them to places to get developed.  Photo Quick booths were tiny little buildings in shopping center parking lots.  You would take your film there.  Someone would make a daily pick up at the booth, take the stuff to a developing lab, and you would get it back a couple of days later.

I also remember my history teacher, the next day, telling us plans were being developed to evacuate the city of Harrisburg.  Amazing.

Other memories from that week were Walter Cronkite devoting a huge hunk of time on the "CBS Evening News" to the accident.  Mike Stevens covered the accident for "Newswatch 16."  The station even had a Geiger counter in the backyard at the old building.  It did tick occasionally, but the station calmly explained that it was normal.  There is natural radiation in the environment.

Governor Thornburgh and Lieutenant Governor Scranton were in office only a few months at the time.  Outwardly, they were calm and they really did give you a sense of confidence they would make the right decisions.  But then again, there was no internet at the time, and no one constantly second guessing.  There are so many questions I've always wanted to ask them.

Did we learn a lot about nuclear power?  I certainly hope so.

The system worked, or it didn't work, depending on your point of view, and the debate will continue until the end of time.

I've passed Three Mile Island several times over the years.  It was the same reaction every time, a queasy feeling in my stomach, wondering how close we came to the unthinkable.





Sunday, March 24, 2019

Andy's Angles: Hazleton

I've featured Hazleton City Hall here before, but this is a fresh photo, from Monday morning.

A shooting brought photographer Jason and I to the city on the hill, and it always makes me sad.  Looking around-- some great buildings, beautiful homes, good people.  Not blaming anyone, but it troubles me how this city got off the track.    It does happen to people, to cities, to organizations.  It doesn't mean it's over.

I love city hall, especially at night.  It's one of our area's great buildings.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Andy's Angles: DER and TCT

There was a small fire at the Thomas C. Thomas building on North Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilkes-Barre a couple of weeks ago.  This was a produce terminal for many years, and there are still tomato coolers in the building.

It's a big building and there is plenty of office space upstairs.  For many years, the Department of Environmental Resources, now the Department of Environmental Protection was here.

An employee of one of the agencies was showing us the smoke damage, and I did a little wandering about.  My travels took me to an area where DER used to hold its news conferences.  Memories of one horrible afternoon came flooding back.

Once upon a time, there was a company called Pennsylvania Gas & Water has unprotected water sources. Beavers under stress, we were told, were using the reservoirs as their toilets, and the company was pushing contaminated water through its vast system.  At a news conference one afternoon, DER announced big sections of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, including my home, were under a boil water advisory.  Drinking the water could make you violently ill.

The news conference wrapped up.  Dilemma.  I was on the radio at the time, and WARM was never hesitant about breaking into programming for news bulletins.  We excelled at it, and this was an enormous story. 

What to do?  Call the family, or call the station?  If memory serves, and I could be wrong, I think I called the station.  I don't think anybody was home, anyway.

PG&W eventually built state mandated water filtration plants, and the state even gave you the pleasure of paying for them.  PG&W eventually sold out and no longer exists.  A lot of people made some big money as you kept running to the bathroom because the water made you sick.

Memories from the Thomas C. Thomas building.


Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Scrapple

I miss David Letterman any time I channel surf weeknights at 11:35 PM.  Watching him on "Ellen" yesterday only drove the point home.  The humor.  The sharp wit.  How I long for that every night.

There are few things more depressing than a cold rain.

It's "March Madness" time.  The Major League Baseball season is underway.  We've had some major golf tournaments.  The insufferably long NBA and NHL playoffs are approaching.  The NFL season is still five months away, and yet, NFL talk dominates radio.  We are a football nation.

Burger King has tacos!

I'm sorry, but I don't care about your brackets.  I will admit to liking CBS and Turner crews working together.  Love the change up.

The "National Enquirer" (yes, I know) reports Megyn Kelly has her sights set on "CBS This Morning."  She is a skilled and smart woman, but I don't know if this is a good fit.  I've been wrong before.

I have friends who are major DisneyWorld freaks.  Never been, and I just don't get it.  I'm not saying it's a bad thing.  Merely, I don't understand it.  I'm assuming I fail here because I'm cheap.  Plus, I'm not one for crowds and noise on my days off.

I can't remember the last time I purchased a Powerball ticket.  I did buy some scratchers as stocking stuffers a few years back.

The auditor general warns the Pennsylvania Turnpike faces bankruptcy.  Unbelievable!  Like the Scranton School District, why do we always get to the brink before the alarm goes off?

I don't know how I'm able to do it, but I have resisted the temptation to visit a donut shop or grab one out of the mini mart case.  It's not easy.

My heart broke for the Lady Bucks of Dunmore high school Thursday evening.  They never gave up.  There is a lesson for all of us.






Thursday, March 21, 2019

Follow Up Thursday


A while back, I wrote about encountering several college students who were oblivious to what was going on in their world.  I visited a high school the other morning, and it was a complete 180.  Nice, knowledgeable, polite students who were able to express thoughts and speak in complete sentences.  It should be the norm, rather than the exception.

The Los Angeles Angels, to keep him from going to the Phillies in two years, gave Mike Trout a huge new contract.  Great for Trout, and it's nice to see the Angels investing in its product.  On the other hand, the fans will pay in the form of higher ticket prices, higher food and drink prices, higher parking fees, etc.  I'm sure the team will also look for more for more advertising money and more money from local tv, cable and radio.  The little guy always pays, eventually.

Scranton School District:  criminal investigation, money problems, close to a state take-over, and now mice!  You wonder what will happen next.

I railed against this when it happened a few years ago.  Oakland and Seattle began the Major League Baseball season in Japan yesterday.  Cute idea.  Expand the reach.  I still get the feeling that fans of both teams are getting short changed.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sports Geography

The Dunmore High School Lady Bucks basketball team is headed to the state championship game in Hershey tomorrow, and that leads us to today's starting point.

First of all, congratulations to the Dunmore girls.

I have always been fascinated how some very small towns in our area can consistently produce strong high school sports teams-- Dunmore, Old Forge, Berwick...  It seems just about every school district in our area has come home with a big trophy at one time or another, but it is the repeated success in those towns that just blows me away.

The school district where I grew up had plenty of success in basketball and baseball.  Football?  Not so much.  But,  immediately adjacent districts have enjoyed huge successes in football.  Do you forget how to play when you cross the border?   I'm sure a lot has to do with history, legacy, administration, execution, and a long list of other factors.  Some of it goes back to the days before some small districts combined into larger ones.  I'm sure someone with plenty of time and the research skills can figure it out.

It would really be great to watch Dunmore come home with a state championship.  Good luck!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Farewell

Today is the last full day of winter, and believe it or not, there are some things I will miss.

First of all, I will not miss snow, ice, wintry mixes and "kitchen sink" storms.

I will miss ice cold water coming out of the tap.

There is a certain charm to putting on a heavy coat and going for a walk, and then crawling under a heavy blanket for some sleep when you get home.

There is the comfort of hot chocolate, chili, and a bowl of soup.

I love the sting of the cold when you walk out of the gym, after an early morning workout, on a single digit day.

I will miss the faint aroma of smoke from a wood burner, because someone near my gym apparently has one.

Clear blue skies.  Starry nights.  Zero humidity.  The cold has an ability to wake you up and crystallize thoughts.  I'm thankful my work desk is only a few feet from the backyard door.

Winter:  it's not all bad.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Unfinished Monday


This college entrance cheating scandal fascinates me, and I think it's going to stay that way for a while.

First of all, if I had a kid, if I had the money, and if the kid needed help, of course, I'd grease some palms to make things work.  Yes, there is an ethics issue, but you just do things for your kids.  Having said that, there is something said to putting honesty over money.

The sad part about it is that there are so many greaseable palms out there.  If you're willing to hand out money, there are more than enough people willing to accept.

That's the problem.

I remember an elementary school teacher telling us about cheating on tests.  She said she would punish the "giver" more than the "taker" because you'd have to be crazy not to take the right answers.

So much for that early lesson in honesty and ethics.

This college thing raises the concept to a whole new level.  I can see where some parents did it because they wanted to give their kids the best education possible.  Ethics be damned.  While the middle man apparently was skilled in putting things over on the admissions offices, colleges and universities really need to take a long, hard look at how they do things, and how money is their ultimate God.

As I said last week, the true losers are the deserving students who were denied opportunity.

Big and prestigious colleges and universities aren't all they're cracked up to be.

I've met graduates from places with great reputations who bordered on incompetent.  On the other hand, I've worked with a lot of people from under the radar schools, who turned out to be great.

Some students thrive on a big campus.  I was very happy with my choice of a small school.  It was "me."

The only lesson that might come out of this is a realization there is a huge need  for system reform.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Andy's Angles: More Than One

Blakely has its big gold anchor near the Dickson City and Olyphant lines.

There is a smaller one in Old Forge.

The seas it's been in, the stories it can tell...

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Andy's Angles: Big Gun

This is the big gun that stands watch in front of the Old Forge Municipal Building along South Main Street.

Some might think it glorifies war.  I like to think it honorsd the men and women who fought.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Media Friday

ABC is reviving two old game shows, "Card Sharks" and "Press Your Luck."  I haven't seen any host names attached yet.  I see this as qualified good news.  ABC has done a nice job on "Pyramid."  Not so nice on "To Tell the Truth."  The last "Card Sharks" revival was simply awful.  I hope they stay true to the original.

Old news, but Jason Witten is leaving ESPN and going back to the Dallas Cowboys.  I caught some of his "Monday Night Football" work.  It wasn't very good, but not as horrible as the TV newspaper and internet critics made it out to be.  ESPN is still trying to capture that old ABC "Monday Night Football" magic, and it's not happening.

The Federal Communications Commission is still trying to figure out what to do with AM radio.  I've seen suggestions as to close the band.  Another lifts ownership caps.  Companies can own as many AM stations as they please.  I have a newsflash for you.  It's not far from that now.  I still like my idea best.  Offer tax incentives for letting failing and low powered AM stations go dark.  Take the ones that remain, space them out better and offer more power.

ABC reports another strong month for "World News Tonight" and "Good Morning America."

CBS is considering blowing up its morning broadcast again, according to industry publications.    John Dickerson is supposed to go to "60 Minutes."  Norah O"Donnell slides to the "Evening News."  Gayle King stays with a fat contract.  The broadcast lost its way when Charlie Rose was fired.  Ann Curry and Ashleigh Banfield are reportedly on the CBS short list.

Several big city stations have renewed their contracts with Rush Limbaugh.  Even after 30 years, he is the gold standard in talk radio.

Speaking of conservatives, and I know I've said this before, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is really good at TV, and he even has the onions to go on liberal networks, where he knows the questions will not be friendly.

The New York Post reports one of the woman involved in the Matt Lauer affair is shopping a book to the big publishing houses.  My Lauer question, and I don't have the answer,is how long will he have to stay in TV jail?  I was never a fan, but he did help keep the "Today" show afloat for a long time.  I'm sure he can help someone.

Rob Schneider is appearing at a resort in the Poconos Sunday.  He starred in a 1996 sitcom called "Men Behaving Badly."  Do you think a show with that name could get on the air today?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Fail

If it wasn't so tragic, it would be hilarious.  A bunch of rich people were busted the other day for allegedly paying big bucks to get their kids in to elite colleges and universities.

I have a news flash for you.  This is really nothing new.  Prominent families always make big donations, and the kids are welcomed in the front door, right after dad gets his honorary degree.

This scam brought things to a new level.  The alleged mastermind called it going in the "side door."  You can read better descriptions of how it all worked elsewhere.  It was a pretty slick operation, other than the part about getting caught.

And you thought athletic departments were the only dirty aspects of big time education.  Take a walk over to the admissions office.

I do feel sorry for all the working class kids who might have been denied slots because they were grabbed by the rich kids.  I'm sure they found another college university, and then were burdened by decades of debt.

I was lucky.  During my time, relatively speaking, college was a great bargain.  I set my sights on something close and affordable.  I did everything myself, without one iota of help from my high school's laughably horrible guidance department.  I worked hard for my degree and have been employed in my field of study for nearly 40 years.

It can be done.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Vote 19: The Special Election

There was a special election yesterday in the 114th legislative district, covering a big section of Lackawanna County.  The winner would fill the term of Sid Michaels Kavulich, who died in October.

The Democrats selected Bridget Malloy Kosierowski as their candidate.  The Republicans turned to Frank Scavo.

Reporter Sarah Buynovsky and I did something a little different for yesterday's Newswatch 16 This Morning broadcast.  We each took one of the candidates.  I had Scavo, and Sarah covered Kosierowski.  They both voted at the same time, and the locations were not close.  Sarah went to Waverly and I hit Old Forge.  We combined our material into one report at Newswatch 16 at Noon.

The outcome was evident early.  Kosierowski captured 62 per cent of the vote and goes to Harrisburg.

She ran a good campaign, latching on to health care as her big issue.  Kosierowski is a nurse and it makes sense, even though much of what she talked about is a national concern, not a state one.  The campaign was safe and smart.  Kosierowski stuck to the script.  She came across as friendly and warm on television.  She didn't make any mistakes.

Scavo repeated the themes of last year's unsuccessful state senate campaign-- elimination of property taxes, and that is a very solid base on which to build.  His campaign got off the track when some old social media posts popped up, perceived as anti Muslim.

This race made you wonder on many levels.  I've known Frank for a long time.  I've known his wife and her family even longer.  He's a smart guy.  They are good people.  The social media posts were astounding.  He should have known better at the time of the posting.  They should have been yanked long before the Scranton Times~Tribune went looking.  At the time the Republican party selected Scavo, didn't anyone ask  about anything potentially embarrassing in the past?    While Scavo can get elected to the Old Forge School Board, his popularity outside the town is questionable.  The Republicans could have made a bold move and opted for a fresh face, sans baggage.  It went for the tried and true.  As a result, the Democrats retain control of the 114th.

There was a school of thought the bashing Scavo took would energize the base and up the turnout.  Yesterday's turnout was 25 per cent and a lot of people were surprised it was that high.  I was at the polls from 7 am until noon, and turnout was severely anemic all morning.

So, what do we take from this election?  The Democrats might have found a rising star in Bridget Malloy Kosierowski.  It will be interesting to see what she does with her power, even though she is in the minority party in Harrisburg.

Frank Scavo says we haven't seen the last of him, and that's a good thing.  As long as he stops doing silly things on social media, there is a place in the Republican party for Frank and his ideas.  He participates.  The system needs that.

There is one other major takeaway from yesterday's election.  People really miss Sid.  He was exceptionally popular and well liked.  During my travels yesterday, people were talking about Sid as much as they discussed Scavo and Kosierowski.

I already know of two people strongly considering a run in the 114th in 2020.  This could be one of our area's more interesting districts in the months to come.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Time Warp

I keep telling myself to stop writing about it twice a year, but I just can't help it.

We came through another time change a couple of days ago.  Daylight Saving Time is back.  Standard Time goes away until November.

When you have to go go sleep in the afternoon, DST is not your friend.  I'll take the early sunsets.

Here's what really irritates me.  Twice a year, a bunch of politicians say it's time to end the archaic practice of adjusting time twice a year.  Nothing ever happens.  Never ever.  America, it's time to put up or shut up.

We could have winter sunrises well after 8 AM, and I could see some push back on that, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Stop yammering and do something.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Sleepy Time

A couple of weeks, I told you about my purchase of one of those 20 pound blankets, in an effort to improve sleep quality.

So, how is it going?

I really haven't noticed much of a difference.  After being under that blanket for several minutes, you really don't notice the weight.  It was great on those recent cold nights because they really seal in the heat.

Sleep better or worse?  Neither.

It was a grand experiment, and it will continue until hot weather arrives.

Speaking of sleep, there is another move in New York City to push the start of the high school day to 8:30 AM because the kids are too tired.  Proponents say they have the statistical and scientific data to back it up.

That's all well and good.  I still believe we have to prepare kids for real world jobs, and that includes getting up early.  We'd be better off if we stopped cramming their lives with after school activities of little significance, and get them to bed earlier.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Andy's Angles: About the Cover

This month's blog header is one of the big cats that guard the entrance to the Scranton Public Library at North Washington Avenue and Olive Street.

I can't say I'm overly thrilled with the header photo or the one you see here today.  It's a magnificent building, but I was here mid-morning and the sun was not my friend.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Andy's Angles: Kaboom!

A recently opened mini mart/gas station in the Scranton area features do-it-yourself soft serve ice cream, and that includes toppings. 

This was the view on a recent morning.

I'm disappointed customers can be such pigs.

I'm disappointed it took the staff so long to clean it up.

You have to wonder how long it will be before the ice cream station is a thing of the past.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Perfect Fit

A while back, I blogged about broadcasters who were the perfect fit in their jobs.  Katie Couric was made to be a "Today" host.  Megan Kelly killed it on FOX.  I don't blame either for jumping at big bucks offers, even though they turned out to be failures.

Alex Trebek hosted a lot of game shows before "Jeopardy" came along.  There were several while he handled "Jeopardy" duties.  I'll level with you.  I always he thought he was a stiff, but he was perfect at "Jeopardy."  One of the morning news anchors on WCBS radio yesterday compared Trebek to Walter Cronkite-- a man who you like and trust, and you welcome him in to your home every night. 

I grew up with the great Art Fleming as "Jeopardy" host.  I loved his voice and his presence, and I thought he moved the game along a bit better than Trebek.  Be that as it may.  Alex Trebek is enjoying an amazing run on one of TV's more difficult shows to host.

Alex Trebek went public with his pancreatic cancer diagnosis on Wednesday.  Wow!  That's a tough one.  The odds are not the greatest.  Let's pray for the best.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Crinkle in Time

I started in television not long after film had disappeared.  My first stories were shot on 3/4 inch video tape.  There was a transition to High 8 and then Beta, which was an excellent format.

There is a part of a reporter story called the "stand up."  It's just what the name implies.  The stand up bridges between elements, or puts a nice ending on the story.  Back in the video tape days, you always did at least two takes on the stand up, in case you rolled over a flawed section of the tape.  It happened.

We dropped video tape years ago.  Out stories are shot on electronic video cards.

Old habits die hard.

To this day, I always do a second take on a stand up, even if the first one is flawless, and I always say the same thing to the photographer:  "In case there's a crinkle in the tape."  After getting strange looks from some of the younger people on the staff, I had to explain what you just read in the paragraphs above. 

The kids think I'm a crazy old man.  The veterans get a chuckle out of it because they remember those days.

I guess you had to be there.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It Makes You Wonder



By now, you know the story of the big box discount store chain that employed a man in the Selinsgrove area, with cerebral palsy, to be a greeter.   The company decided to change the requirements for the job, adding responsibilities the man could not physically perform.

The public cried "foul."  The company relented and created a new position-- self service check out host.  The man keeps working.  Happy ending.

Here's what gets my goat.  The same story was repeated at other locations around the country.  It's stunning to believe that in these days of social media and quick public outcry that a company can be so insensitive and tone deaf to the needs of its community.

The head of the company finally put out a directive that steps should be taken to make sure current employees still have a job, even if the duties change.  Why didn't you think of that in the first place?  Did you really think that kicking current employees with special needs to the street was a good policy?

I should add that the store closest to me recently installed even more self checkout stands.  I wonder if that will translate into fewer jobs.

I'm sure some good did come out of this.

I'm proud of the work done by WNEP's Nikki Krize, who helped bring the Selinsgrove story to light.  Many of entered the news business to help people.  Nikki's reporting was exceptional.

The big plus?  A big company learned to be less stupid in the future.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

I Read the News Today...

I love reading college newspapers.  First of all, there are a great source of story ideas.  Second, I like seeing what young people are thinking about, what concerns them.

I hasten to add that I would have loved to have worked on my school's newspaper, but I was a long haired rock and roll playing disc jockey.  The newspaper back then was under the domain of the English department, and the broadcasters were beneath them.  I am happy to report that it has changed.

A recent opinion piece left me shaking my head.  The school is irrelevant, and I'll explain that in a moment.  A student wrote a piece complaining about the food expense and the lack of grab and go breakfast sandwiches on campus.

If that's the most important thing in your world, then life is pretty good.  A little advice-- set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier and make your own sandwich.

Let me tell you something.  Our area has a dozen colleges and universities, probably more.  I've been reading student newspapers for decades.  Every week, you can find at least one story, in one of those papers, complaining about the campus food and the parking.

Enjoy it while you can.  The real world is coming.

Monday, March 4, 2019

In Memoriam

John Martinelli died last week at the age of 85.  For nearly 30 years, John did my taxes.

Early on, I filled out the paperwork myself.  My situation became a little more complicated.  I went to those pop up places for a couple of years.  One year, I encountered the height of incompetence, walked out, and never went back.  I wrote a letter to management.  The company offered me a free session with one of their best and most experienced people.  I passed.  You had your chance.

A coworker suggested John Martinelli, and it was a perfect match.

Let me tell you about our yearly meetings.  His office was on the second floor of a building on Court Street in Scranton.  You got there by walking up a long staircase.  John had a huge office.  He would always be watching something on the History Channel when I walked in.  The TV would go off so I had his undivided attention.  He was always in a suit, including the jacket.  I'd be on the other side of the desk, jeans, untucked shirt, scruffy.  I felt like a vagrant in comparison, but tax time is stressful for me and I had to be comfortable.  The office was always a little too warm for my tastes.  There were many February afternoons when I would feel the sweat dripping down my back and sides.  It could have been the stress, too.  My first stop, invariably, after one of our sessions, was the mini mart up the street for a huge bottle of water.  My fluids needed replacing.

Our meetings would never begin until he asked me a few personal questions, getting caught up on my life and my work.  John was all business, but he did care about the lives of his clients.  We'd exchange pleasantries over the weather, the world, politics...

While my finances are rather complex, I always had my paperwork ready to go and well organized.  He looked at what I had assembled in my briefcase one day and said "Why can't everybody do that?"  It was the highest compliment.

John would go over everything carefully, meticulously, entering the numbers, printing the forms, making copies, having me sign where necessary.  It was a thing of beauty.  It was neat, and perfect, and he had my complete confidence.  I subscribe to the Tony Kornheiser school of tax returns.  According to Tony, there is one rule:  "Keep me out of jail."  I am happy to report John did that for me, for a very long time.

John Martinelli was not an electronic filing guy.  I'd cut him a check, as well as one for the state and the school district.  The returns would be mailed.  Waiting a tiny bit longer for a refund was no big deal.  John's services were always exceptionally reasonable.  He would have been a bargain at twice the price.

John stopped doing returns just before last year's tax season.  I realized age and health were issues.  I panicked.  A survey of current coworkers put me in the hands of someone who does a fine job.  It isn't the same.  It never will be.

Martinelli family, I am very sorry for your loss.  I'm thankful John was in my corner.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Andy's Angles: Nanticoke Wind

As I noted yesterday, part of my Monday duties was chasing wind damage.  Photographer Paul and I were dispatched to Nanticoke, where there were reports of a building in danger of imminent collapse.

No, not really.

It turns out, some bricks fell from an empty beer distributor at Arch and North Walnut.  You can see the damage at the top of the building to the right of the chimney.  Part of the street was blocked off as a precaution.
One of the people here tipped us to even more damage near by, and that is the photo you see below.

The wind ripped part of the facade from the drive through of First National Bank.  The photo was taken from the Locust Street side.  East Main Street is off to the left.  The bank stayed open.  The drive through closed.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Andy's Angles: Windy Weekend

Sunday and Monday were two of the windiest days in recent memory.  As I said to meteorologist Valerie Smock, during Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning, it was like a tropical storm at the end of winter.
Part of my Monday duties was chasing wind damage, and this was the crown jewel in my travels.  The wind toppled a big sign that stood along Route 315 in Plains Township, at the entrance to the former Sunshine Market.

The sign consisted of heavy, steel girders, and it's amazing how the force of the wind and the weight of the sign snapped the bib bolts at the base.  The sign was too big to haul away in one piece, so a worker with a torch cut it in to pieces.  You can see the sparks next to the man in orange, in the center of the photo.

Friday, March 1, 2019

It's Over!

It's March 1, and that is the start of meteorological spring.  Yes, winter is over.

While our current winter feels awful, that really isn't reflected in the numbers.  Snowfall was below normal.  Temperatures were above normal.  We've only had one crippling snow storm, and that was before Thanksgiving.

March is here.  Signs of spring are everywhere.  Skunks, squirrels, bunnies, longer days, a stronger sun, Ash Wednesday is this week and the St. Patrick's parades are starting.  Daylight saving time begins on the 10th.

Having said, some of our area's biggest snow storms have hit in March, and spring is the start of severe weather season.  Winter still has some life.   As I bang this out, I am looking at some computer models that have a foot of snow possible for Sunday afternoon in to Monday morning.  One thing about a March snow storm-- it usually melts fairly quickly, and there are projections for above normal temperatures for the second half of the month.

In spite of it all, enjoy the day and the month of March.  Warmer weather is slowly approaching.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Mentality



I guess it's the new mentality in the Scranton School District.

Photographer Dave and I were set up across the street from the administration building on North Washington Avenue for Newswatch 16 This Morning.  It was a simple story on one new school director, and another one resigning.

People passing by wondered if there was another raid on the district, if another raid was coming, and if more criminal charges filed.

It's sad, but that is what we have been trained to expect in Scranton these days.

Stay tuned.  There will be more to come.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Seeing Stars

I do not know who said it first, but it really is true.  TV News should be a combination of what you "need" to know and what you "want" to know.  The wants were off the scale this weekend because we had tons of celebrity news-- Jussie Smollett, Robert Kraft, R. Kelly.  And, as you know by now, it wasn't because Smollett is in a new series, Kraft's team didn't win another Super Bowl, and Kelly doesn't have a new song.  They are all accused of behaving badly.  In all three cases, behaving criminally.

I'll be honest with you.  I'm not thrilled with celebrity news, but these stories were different.  By now, you know the allegations, so there is no sense repeating them here.

There is another factor.  All three got in trouble during a relatively slow news cycle.  That's always bad news for the accused.

It's not over yet.  We'll be following all three cases through the courts, and the court of public opinion.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Heavy Early

Let's establish a few things right off the top.  I like to sleep.  My schedule means sleep is exceptionally important.  When you work overnights and early mornings, every second you can spend with your eyes closed means a lot.  I'm not complaining.  This is the life I have have chosen.  I've been blessed with a great job, working with great people.  I've been doing this a long time and I'm still having fun.

I also hate trends and fads.  Yuk!  I don't jump on bandwagons.  I don't have to acquire the newest and the the best, and whatever people are talking about.

There is a rare exception.

USA Today recently did a story weighted blankets.  They are exactly what the name implies. A heavy, heavy blanket.  They are supposed to reduce anxiety and help you get a good night's sleep, or in my case, a good afternoon's sleep.

I checked them out on Amazon.  Great reviews.  I couldn't resist.  I hit the button.  My size comes in 15 and 20 pound weights.  You know my philosophy.  Go big or go home.  I went for the 20.  My now herniated package delivery guy dropped it off last week, and I've spent a few nights under that 20 pounder.

Yes, it does give you a feeling of security and tranquility.  It reminded me a bit of those heavy quilts my aunt had during childhood sleepovers.  In this case, the heavy quilt material and filling is replaced by 20 pounds of tiny glass beads.

It really seals you in, trapping heat.  That could be great on those below zero Scranton winter nights.  You can probably drop the thermostat a few degrees.  It was still a little too warm for me.  I'm a tosser and turner.  The heavy blanket kept me put, and I'm not sure I like that.

I've only had it for a week, so I will give it a lot more time.  I can see the blanket heading for the closet when the weather turns warm.

Am I sleeping better?  The jury is still out.  I don't think my sleep is better.  It certainly isn't worse.  More study is required.

By the way, today's blog title is another obscure old television reference.  There were a couple of episodes of "WKRP in Cincinnati" where Dr. Johnny Fever filled in on the overnight shift.  He used the name "Heavy Early."


Monday, February 25, 2019

Monday Scrapple

I know Jussie Smollett is innocent until proven guilty, but Chicago has a crime problem.  I just think police wasted a lot of time on this because Smollett needed some attention.

Manny Machado is getting $30 million a year from the San Diego Padres.  Good for him!  Always happy to see people get big paychecks.

Samsung is out with a foldable smart phone.  It starts as the regular smart phone size and doubles to tablet size.  NO!!!  I wanted it the other way around.  I wanted it to start the size of those old clam shell phones and expand to smart phone size.  I really miss the convenient size of the flip phones.  Starting price for the foldables is $2,000  I'll look, but the credit card will stay in the pocket.

I'm really tired of the Colin Kaepernick saga.  He has the right to protest and he did shed light on a bad situation in this country.  On the other hand, the protest was viewed as disrespectful and he wasn't very good at his job.

What is it with the recent spurt of "kitchen sink" storms?

There are few things better in life than a toasted bagel.

Those outdoor NHL games are no longer a novelty, but I still enjoy them.

The lieutenant governor is coming to our area this weekend as part of his legalized recreational marijuana listening tour.  The state needs the money.  It seems like the lieutenant governor and his boss already have their minds made up.

I didn't think a Nike athletic shoe could explode like that.

February always moves along faster than January.

I'd like to offer some perspective on last night's Academy Awards, but I haven't been to a theater since 2012.

Scranton Times columnist Chris Kelly wrote a column about his alcoholism yesterday.  I can't say I know him well, but I enjoy his work.  We all wish him the best.




Sunday, February 24, 2019

Andy's Angles: Hot Stuff

We've lost a lot of the old firehouses here in our area.  On the other hand, we are fortunate that many are still around.  A great building, still in use, in Mount Carmel, was featured here several weeks ago.

This one is on Scott Street in Wilkes-Barre.  Oddly, I took this picture while I was at a fire at the building next door.  It was taken out of service long ago.  I think a construction or plumbing contractor uses it now.

Many of these buildings were built when horses pulled the apparatus.  It was tough to tell on this one.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Andy's Angles: Synchronicity

This one was taken on a recent snowy and icy morning on Broad Street in Hazleton.  Green lights as far as you can see.  It's nice to see things synced up.  Save time.  Save gasoline.  I love the reflection on the wet pavement and the quiet street, in the middle of the night.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Media Friday

It looks like more consolidation in the broadcast television industry is on the way.  Nothing signed yet.  Stay tuned.

Speaking of signed, ABC and George Stephanopoulos agreed to a new, four year deal.  Same duties and responsibilities, just more money.  I will admit that I didn't think Stephanopoulos would be a good fit at "Good Morning America."  I was wrong.  CBS denies it, but a few published reports say CBS was a serious contender for the former Clinton aide's services.  ABC was right to hang on to George.  In this ever changing landscape, continuity is important and he does have a solid track record.

Speaking of CBS, more published reports say Jeff Glor will be out at the "CBS Evening News," and Norah O'Donnell will be in.  Glor does a very good job, and the broadcast has solid content.  It appears CBS is looking for more star power and O'Donnell will provide that.  The broadcast is allegedly moving to Washington so O'Donnell can be closer to her family.  It really isn't all that radical.  ABC's "World News Tonight" came mostly from Washington during the Frank Reynolds days.

On the other side of the coin, O'Donnell's departure from "CBS This Morning" really hurts that broadcast.  And that's on top of the damage suffered after Charlie Rose was fired.  O'Donnell will be tough to replace in the morning.

David Horowitz, former KNBC Los Angeles consumer reporter, died this week.  81.  Horowitz had a syndicated show, called "Fight Back" for a while, and I always found it entertaining and informative.  Horowitz was an occasional guest on Johnny Carson's "Tonight" show.  Horowitz was always ultra serious.  Carson had that patented twinkle, and liked to have fun with the segments.  It was a good match.  Horowitz advanced the genre and contributed much to the industry.  He also empowered people and saved individuals a lot of money.

Peter Tork died yesterday.  An original Monkee.  77.  The Monkees, known as the pre fab four, might not have been the most respected musicians of all times, but there was some memorable music along the way, and I am sad.

Academy Awards coming up Sunday night.  I do have a bit of curiosity over "best picture" this year.  I'll be asleep during the ceremony.  I just hope it doesn't become three hours of Hollywood's take on politics.  People tune in to celebrate the industry and the art, not get CNN and FOX News.

Regardless of how you feel about President Trump, he has provided a huge boost to the American publishing industry, and it's not over yet.

There is industry speculation that ESPN will move "Monday Night Football" back to ABC.  The network wants better games and a slot in the network Super Bowl rotation, which it can't get on cable.  It sounds like good reasoning.

Spring training baseball on TV this weekend!  You might not know the players, but it will good to see baseball again.

Happy Birthday to my friend, Al, who was the photographer for my first TV news story that ever aired.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Storm Roulette

I was on a roll for a while.  The last spurt of winter storms happened on my work days.  The latest broke my way.  It fell on one of my days off.

There is a certain serenity to look out the window, watch the flakes fall, and know you don't have to go anywhere or do anything.  I made a big box store run after the gym at 4 AM yesterday for some essentials.  Luckily, the store had the printer ink cartridge I needed.  That meant I didn't have to hit the big office supply store during the daylight hours.  There are a few things I really should do, like a trip to the bank and the drug store.  They are not urgent.  They can wait.

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay, watchin' the tide roll away.

Not quite, but you get the idea.

There are some give-backs.  I'm sure cabin fever will set in.  I will get that feeling like I've wasted a day off.  I might have to skip the trip to the gym, and that will make me antsy.

I did get a few things done, nothing major.  Just some straightening and organizing.  It was enough to keep me busy.  I also did get in a little extra sleep, and that is a blog entry down the road.

It's only February 21.  There is still plenty of winter left.  I'm sure I'll be standing in a parking lot, in a snowstorm, somewhere, telling you about what we hope will be winter's last blast.

If you do have to go out, please be extra careful.

Otis and I will be here when you get back.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Cruel Shoes

I think I've only purchased a few pair of shoes from Payless over the years.  Still, its "going out of business" makes me sad.  People lose jobs.  Malls and shopping centers lose a tenant, and that has a domino effect.  Customers lose a place to get a decent pair of shoes at a low price, although there are many other options these days.

I remember grabbing a pair of boat style shoes at Payless that I really liked.  They didn't last long, but I expected that.  You really do get what you pay for.

I gave up on expensive work shoes a long time ago.  The news business puts a strain on footwear.  I've had expensive shoes wrecked by that unexpected snowfall, those puddles at fires, trudging through a swamp to see where a criminal dumped a body...

Comfort is the number one factor there says.  There can be long hours waiting for police to bring out an alleged criminal, pacing that hard courthouse floor, waiting for a trial to begin, keeping watch on a cold sidewalk, anticipating a candidates arrival...

I haven't been to one in ages, but I'm happy there are still a few shoe repair shops out there.  I do remember the days when you got a great pair of expensive shoes, and you kept them going by getting new heels and soles.  My last visit was to a place on Drinker Street in Dunmore.  I bought a belt that was too large, and I needed some extra holes punched.  The operator was a fan of the weekend morning broadcasts, and he did it for free.  I still give him a few dollars for a coffee.

My recent favorite pair of shoes finally wore out and had to be retired.  Believe it or not, Crocs made regular looking shoes, and they were designed for people in the food service industry.  They lasted for a very long time, light as a feather and exceptionally durable.  As luck would have it, Crocs discontinued that line.  I've searched every web site imaginable.  It's over, and I wish Crocs would bring them back.


By the way, "Cruel Shoes" was the title of a 1979 Steve Martin book and comedy routine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

I Smell Spring

A couple of people have pointed out that my springtime skunk blog entry is a little late this year.

Yes, there has been an uptick in skunk activity recently, and as I always note, when skunks become more active and looking for love, spring is in the air.

This has been an odd winter.  While we have had some brutally cold days. I detected skunk in the air for just about the entire winter.  Yes, the activity and the scene become more pronounced as spring approaches.  It seems like the critters haven't had much down time.

It won't be long until the critters are out in full force, ripping up your lawns and tearing through your trash bags.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Going, Going, Gone!

It was the Valentine's Day Massacre.  Amazon announced it was giving up on building a facility on Long Island.  Thousands of jobs will never materialize.  Some city and state politicians balked at giving the richest company in the world billions in financial incentives.

I get that.

On the other hand, think of all those people who are being denied chances at good paying jobs, and all those businesses that would benefit from a new and huge employer in the area.

In a way, it reminds me of what we had around here-- politicians artificially keeping unneeded entities up and running.  The jobs were great, but your kids and grand kids will pay for it in the long run.

The Amazon case was a little different, in that Amazon is a private entity.

Big business chooses locations based on cheap labor, cheap utilities and cheap land.  It doesn't look like Queens has any of that.  That's where the incentives come in.  An educated work force and a favorable tax structure is icing on the cake.

Financial incentives for businesses are nothing new.  After the Amazon debacle, it looks like the practice is coming to an end.

Shifting gears, it's over for Payless Shoes.  A second bankruptcy filing came last week.  No buyer could be found.  The only option was liquidation.  I visited on occasion.  It wasn't a bad place.  Others did it better and that is always the path to ruin.  I'm sorry for the thousands who will lose their jobs, and all those shopping centers that will take a hit due to an additional vacancy.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Andy's Angles: Attire

OK, technically not a photo, but rather a screen grab.

This was the way I dressed for Tuesday's snow and ice storm that I covered from the Hazleton area.

I swapped out the liner that came with my company provided jacket for one of my thinner puffy coats.  I prefer baseball caps to knit hats, and the wind forced the addition of ear muffs.  The muffs had an added benefit.  I wear a thing called an IFB that allows me to hear the station.  It's made of flexible plastic that become less flexible in the cold.  The muffs keep it comfortably seated in my ear.

The ensemble worked nicely.

I wrote about puffy coats a while back, and how I have become fond of them.  I'm not thrilled with the bulk, but the light weight is fantastic.  On my days off, when the wind stopped and the temperature came up, I traded my puffy coat for a standard nylon coat with a fleece lining.  In comparison, it felt like it weighed a ton.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Andy's Angles/First Person: I Gotta Get Out!

I've written about this phenomenon before.  I call it "truck claustrophobia.  The truck you see above was my office from 3 am to 1 pm Tuesday.  Photographer Corey and I were covering the snow and ice storm in Hazleton.

Outside of stepping out to do live hits and interviews from time to time, this was my home for ten hours.  I don't know how astronauts aboard the International Space Station stay cooped up for a year.  A trip to Mars will take years.  Good luck with that.

Corey and I finished out duties for Newswatch 16 This Morning and our Good Morning America updates.  We did a story for our noon broadcast.  Corey ducked into McDonald's while I looked at video, listened to interviews, and wrote my script in the back.  The finished script was transmitted back to producer Teresa for approval.  When it was green lighted, I asked Corey to drive over to the near by Laurel Mall.  I wanted to get out and walk around while Corey edited the video.  It was a temporary respite from truck claustrophobia.  I should note that in an era when malls are struggling, the Laurel Mall was an exceptionally pleasant place to spend a few minutes.  After a few loops and a quick sandwich break, it was back in the truck for our noon broadcast, and the drive home.
Truckers take a lot of heat, especially in snow storms, and some of it is deserved.  But I do respect those who can spend long hours in a metal or fiberglass box.  I couldn't wait to get out.

By the way, old timers will get the title reference.  In the early 80's, Solomon Roth conducted a going out of business sale at his Wyoming Avenue, Scranton furniture store.  An announcer gave the details.  Spaced in between were little snippets of Mr. Roth saying things like "Listen to me," and "I gotta get out."  They were among the most memorable radio commercials ever aired in this market.

"I gotta get out!"

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Scrapple

I get tired of Valentine's Day complaints rather quickly.  Buy the candy and roses.  Go out to dinner, and be thankful you have someone in your life.

The food wasn't great, but it was fun and comfortable.  I miss Howard Johnson's/

I did a little malling this week.  I won't mention the place.   Dead.  Tired.  Shabby.

I'm expecting a huge pothole problem this year.  Poor patching in 2018 rears its ugly head in 2019.

It's that horrible time of year.  After football.  Before baseball.

We had some nastiness so far, but overall, we've had worse winters.

The handwriting was on the wall.  Rocky's Bar in Scranton agreed to close for six months.  There have been a few shootings outside it in recent months.  We'll see the next trouble spot that develops.

It would be nice if the Pittsburgh Penguins agree to keep their AHL team in Wilkes-Barre Township, but if they leave, another team will take their place.

Another huge bank merger recently announced:  SunTrust and BB&T.  The latter has a small footprint in our area.  The merged bank will have a new name, yet to be announced.

Academy Awards coming up.  I'm no expert.  Best Picture looks wide open to me.

It's been ages since I've had a really good onion ring.

Katie Couric is writing her autobiography.  It'll be out in a couple of years.  I doubt I'll read it, but the chapter on walking away from one of the best jobs in broadcasting, the Cronkite chair, should be interesting.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Trucked

It is rare that you will find me in agreement with a state and/or Penndot policy, but here it is.

The state has been quick to pull the trigger on truck bans during snow and ice storms this winter.  Bravo!

I do feel sorry for the men and women who earn a living by driving these things.  It's hard work.  The vast, vast majority are decent and honorable people.  But, let's face the facts.  Trucks don't do well in ice and deep snow.

I put on a lot of miles during Tuesday's snow and ice storm.  It was a relief not having to worry about a jackknifed tractor trailer blocking the road.  It was wonderful not having your vision diminished by a big rig splashing slush all over your windshield.  Yes, I know that's unavoidable.

The ban wasn't all that long, but it did go an enormous way toward keeping our highways safe and open.

Keep it up!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Thank You!

It has long been established here that I work odd hours and live at mini marts.  There aren't a lot of food and drink choices at 2 am.  I have also repeatedly pointed out that a tiny gesture can make a huge difference in your day.

I felt the need for a giant soda on my way to work yesterday morning, as if my stomach needed more acid due to worry about the approaching snow and ice storm.  I ducked in to a store I've hit several times before, but it wasn't one of my usual stops.  I filled my cup with icy caffeinated goodness,  and made my way to the counter, cash in hand, along with my loyalty card.

The clerk, a mountain of a man I had never met before, scanned my card and told me to keep my cash in my pocket.  I had earned enough points for a freebie.  This has happened many, many, many times before, because of my diet soda addiction, and I gave him my standard response:  "That's the best thing that's going to happen to me today."  I'm not lying of exaggerating.  Often, a free soda is the overwhelming highlight of my day.

The clerk responded:  "No it won't be.  Something better will happen to you today."  I said I hoped he was right.  I thanked him for the free soda and made my way toward the door.  He added a "bless you."

I thought about it on the way to work.  I love my free soda, but I do have a lot for which to be thankful.  A cat who is happy to see me.  A roof over my head.  A great job with fantastic people.  Some people close to me are battling health problems, so every day is an enormous gift.

Mr. Mini Mart Clerk, thank you for the free soda.  Thank you even more for helping me count my blessings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Not Again!

Weather always fascinated me.  I abandoned it as a career choice eons ago when I realized all the math it involves.   I'm not a math fan.

It is one of those weeks where I envy meteorologists and pity them at the same time.  A really interesting storm is approaching-- one that brings with it just about every type of precipitation.  So much involves timing and location-- when and where the snow will turn to sleet, freezing rain, and rain.  It seems the forecast changes and it refined every hour.  Snow totals go up, and they come back down.

This is reminiscent of a storm we had in mid January.  Big snow totals that were in for forecast never materialized because the warm air arrived a little early.  That is the storm that kept me in a hotel next to the station for the weekend, and I'm still trying to catch up on my sleep after that little adventure.

I'm taking all the precautions.  My car's gas tank has been topped off.  All of my electronic devices have been charged.  There are extra Power Bars in my work bag.  Hats and gloves are ready.  I will be very happy if this storm is like the last one, and we don't get all that snow that was in the original forecast.  Of course, sleet and freezing rain are no picnic either.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Unfinished Monday

I watched some of the Super Bowl LIII replays on the NFL Network.  Nantz and Romo are no Summerall and Madden, but they were fine.  Photography and camera work were excellent.  Graphics didn't get in the way.

Ratings were down, and I can see why.  Defensive struggles don't get numbers.  People are sick of the Patriots.  I'm sure CBS made a fortune.  FOX has the Super Bowl next year, so it has to sell those low numbers to advertisers.  I think it's safe to say FOX will do okay.
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So far, we haven't had many snowy days, and just a few really cold snaps.  It really felt good to say "good bye" to January.
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CNN's coverage of the State of the Union address came in dead last.  If that's not a clear message to corporate headquarters, I don't know what is.
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A bankruptcy judge has okayed a take over by the guy who helped run the company in to the ground in the first place.  Mall owners and creditors pushed for a liquidation.  Sears/KMart keeps about 425 stores open.  I'm sure the employees are thankful, but I just get the feeling that this is a major uphill battle.
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the new season of "Brockmire" on IFC begins in April.  Don't miss it!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Andy's Angles: Stop the Presses

I was yammering on recently about newspapers and "blue streak" editions.  Many of those blue streaks came out of this building.  For years, it was the headquarters of the Sunday "Scrantonian" and the daily morning "Tribune."

The building is on North Washington Avenue in Scranton right next to city hall.  As you can see, Fidelity Bank is here now.

I remember going inside the day the newspaper closed, watching so many friends and people I people cleaning out their desks.  It was so sad. 

It was a strange set up back in the day.  The Tribune and the Scranton Times did the heavy lifting when it came to vote totals on election nights.  My station, WARM 590, bunked with the Tribune.  I'd be given an office to work out of for the evening.  I don't remember his first name, but it was always the work space of Mr. Sheposh.  I think he was controller or something like that, and I enjoyed my nights there.

To this day, I cannot look at this building without thinking of all the history produced here.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

About the Cover: City Hall

This is a recent early morning shot of Scranton City Hall, or Municipal Building as the stone work in front says.  It is one of our area's most grand buildings, and it's sad it's fallen into disrepair.

The newspaper pointed it out-- there are apparently criminal investigations underway at the city level, the Lackawanna County level and in the Scranton School District.  What people outside this area must think of us!