Thursday, February 21, 2019
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
the new season of "Brockmire" on IFC begins in April. Don't miss it!
Sunday, February 10, 2019
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
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!
Friday, February 8, 2019
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I hit two colleges. The overwhelming responses were "I don't know anything about it." and "I don't have an opinion." I didn't sense much remorse over the lack of knowledge. They knew nothing, and didn't seem to care.
😢 I wept. I was going to keep my yap shut about this, but I cannot resist.
I know it's college and most students are worried about the big paper, the big test, the big game, the big date, the big tuition bill... But, you have to know what's going on in the world around you. Donald Trump is the most written and talked about president in American history. Remember, there was no social media during Nixon and Watergate. How can you NOT know what's going on? How can you NOT have an opinion?
The clock was ticking. I didn't have time to wait for a political science class or something similar.
I do realize I come at this from a different perspective. I was always a news junkie, even as a kid. I did my first radio newscast when I was 17 years old. It seemed silly at the time, but thank you to a junior high history teacher for dedicating a little time every week to "current events." I think it's safe to say there isn't nearly enough of that happening today, regardless of institution.
An informed electorate means a strong democracy. Let's get with the program.
And, while I'm on the topic of the State of the Union, I do know it is "We the People." I want to hear the speech, regardless of party. I want to hear the response, regardless of party. I don't care about the guests and the theatrics, regardless of party. This is one of those "toothpaste out of the tube" issues. I can't see going back to the way things were.
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Stan Lukowski wrote a column on the mid valley for the old "Scrantonian" newspaper. It was a must-read every Sunday. Stan really knew what was going on in his communities, and he is dearly missed. His words that day meant so much to my family.
Anyway, Stan learned I was receiving a couple of radio awards at the upcoming 1987 Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters convention. WARM's news director, Jerry Heller, made the entries. I was the winner and he allowed me to pick them up at the Philadelphia convention, including a night at a really nice hotel.
Let me refresh you on my "awards" policy. I was humbled that Jerry thought my stuff was good enough to enter. I didn't enter anything back then. I still don't. I know a lot of people enjoy the attention and the peer recognition. The validation. That's great, and I have no problem with it. I can live without it. My work speaks for itself. The great. The not so great. Everything in between.
The only thing I remember about the awards dinner was how much I didn't want to be there. I wolfed down dinner, went up to the stage when my name was called, picked up the awards, and was back in my room, watching the World Series before you knew it.
There are two awards I do cherish, and look for those stories here, some day down the road.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
|Scranton School District Administration Building, North Washington Ave.|
There are some crimes that inspire more outrage than others.
Case in point: last week's filing of charges against Gregg Sunday, the now retired business manager for the Scranton School District. Sunday is accused of having the school district's fleet manager work on his personal vehicles, with the bills going to the school district. The fleet manager faces his own set of charges.
Sunday didn't steal from the district. He stole from you. Taxpayers in Scranton took it in the shorts, and the pain extends beyond city limits. The school district is on its way to the state take-over, and people across the commonwealth will have to bail it out.
I should add that Sunday is innocent until proven guilty, but his lawyer says Sunday is cooperating in the investigation and he indicated a plea agreement could be on the way.
Let's go a little deeper. Taxes are going up. So many people struggle to make ends meet, to keep their homes, to pay their taxes. They're living paycheck to paycheck, shopping at dollar stores to help make ends meet. Kids out in the cold, going to school in inadequate winter clothing as the schools lay off teachers and cut programs.
At least someone had a nice car to drive to work.
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
A producer for KDKA in Pittsburgh was fired last week for creating the graphic you see above. Rather than note Tom Brady as "New England Patriots QB," the second line said "known cheater."
Whether or not it's true, people in this business, from the smallest towns to the major networks, need to keep their opinions to themselves. So many have lost sight of that. We are our own worst enemies.
Let's connect the dots. KDKA is owned by CBS, a network that has the rights to AFC games, including the New England Patriots. It was this year's Super Bowl network. CBS and the NFL have a business relationship. Would the punishment have been as harsh if that relationship did not exist? I have a feeling the answer is no. We will never know.
So, what would I have done if I was in KDKA management? If the violator was a good employee with a clean record, I might have ordered a long suspension. If this was the latest in a string of infractions, there's a good chance I would have shown the man the door.
Would I hire the guy if his resume crossed my desk? Tough to say without a meeting. If he is repentant and admits this was a massive failure, possibly. Judging from a recent story in one of the Pittsburgh newspapers, I don't detect a lot of remorse.
No matter how you look at it, this is something stupid that shouldn't have happened.
Monday, February 4, 2019
I predicted a New England win over the Los Angeles Rams, and the Patriots would cover. A win for me!
There were 11 post season NFL games. I nailed 8 of them. That's a 73 per cent victory rate. No, I have no plans to visit the sports betting parlor when it opens in Plains Township.
While I saw the New England win coming, I was like the rest of America. No one expected such a low scoring game, a Super Bowl record for least points scored. Also, like the rest of America, I don't like the Patriots, but I do respect the team's amazing accomplishments.
There is one other thing sticking in my craw today. For two years, I've been hearing and reading about CBS commentator Tony Romo's ability to correctly pick plays. Some newspaper reporters did an analysis, and Romo is apparently really good at it, better than sixty per cent. So were Dick Vermeil and John Madden when they became NFL broadcasters. Here's the issue. Predicting plays becomes more difficult the longer you are out of the league. Vermeil and Madden's play predicting ability severely diminished the longer they were off the field and in the booth. I expect the same to happen to Tony Romo. He does appear to be an entertaining and enthusiastic chap. I'll likely catch parts of his performance during replays this week on the NFL Network.
I look forward to the start of the Major League Baseball season. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training next week.
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Shortly after I hit the newsroom, I heard the commotion-- fire on Scott Street in Wilkes-Barre, at least two hurt, Red Cross needed for multiple victims.
I summoned photographer Jason from one of the edit booths, and we headed south. The Wilkes-Barre Fire Department did a great job in knocking down the flames quickly, but the damage was done. An apartment building severely damaged, and eight people needed new places to stay.
The lead, or the lede as we old timers spell it, was two children being forced to jump from a second floor window, caught and helped by people below. We quickly found one of the residents, who pointed out one of the heroes. Interviews done. Video shot. A quick chat with the chief tied up the loose ends. I called the producer and asked her to rearrange the lineup. We had an excellent story.
It was one of those days, for a change, when all of the pieces fell in to place.
Saturday, February 2, 2019
I took the photo you see above in July of 2012. 21 stories. 330 feet. It is the tallest building in the Lehigh Valley. Martin Tower was the headquarters of Bethlehem Steel, and you know that story.
The building was shaped like a big cross to maximize the number of corner offices. It's rather simple from the outside. Yet, it made a strong and bold statement: steel.
It's not the loss of the building that really bugs me. Every building has a beginning, middle, and end. A finite life span. A shelf life. A time when it outlives its usefulness. That time is apparently here.
What really annoys me is Martin Tower is another example of what this country used to be, and it will soon be just a pile of rubble.
Friday, February 1, 2019
Belechick, Brady and Gronkowski are the old horses. As much as I hate to say it, the New England Patriots will walk away from the stadium in Atlanta world champions Sunday night.
If I am wrong, I will be the happiest loser in America.
There is one red flag as I see it, and it's the Patriots' defense. It gave up 31 points to an overrated Kansas City Chiefs squad in the AFC championship game two weeks ago. As we have seen throughout the season, the Los Angeles Rams are capable of putting a lot of points on the board.
The Patriots had two weeks to fix the problem.
Always go with experience.
My plans are to sleep through the game. I'm not kidding. I haven't seen a Super Bowl since 1999. It just doesn't interest me. It starts too late.
What interests me less than the game is the commercials, and any discussion of said commercials.
If it's your thing, I hope you enjoy it.