Friday, May 7, 2021

I'm So Embarrassed


I take a lot of pictures and I've been doing it for a long time.

For the past few years, I've fallen victim to the big scam where your storage people tell you you need more room and it will cost you $3 a month to get it.  I finally decided I was wasting my money and I canceled the additional storage.

My next task was to delete enough photos to get me under the limit.  I discovered it wasn't difficult.  

The photos that I really liked were backed up elsewhere, and I even burned some CD's back in the day.

Here is the embarrassing part.  It wasn't difficult to decide what to delete because so many photos I took were simply awful.  Back in the early days, I shot just about everything on "automatic."  "Automatic" doesn't mean perfect.  That's why there are other settings on the camera.  And, even "automatic" can't fix bad framing.

On the positive side, it was nice to see where I was, to see where I am today-- far from perfect, but a lot better than those early days.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Customer Service-Not


Today, it's a lesson in to how NOT treat a long standing customer and how NOT to make a sale.

I had to stop in a cell phone store the other day because I needed to make a change to my account.  I got one foot in the door when a "customer service" rep (word used loosely) met me at the door.  He asked what I needed.  I responded that I had to talk to someone about my account.  He handed me a paper and told me to call the number on the sheet.

Forget that I also wanted to walk around the store and check out new models.  The "customer service" rep just wanted me gone.  I do understand they are trying to limit store traffic during the current situation, but the store really wasn't busy during my visit.

I had some other errands to run, and I called the toll free number when I got home.  After being on hold for at least five minutes, I found someone who took care of what I needed, but not until I jumped through a bunch of hoops, including verification texts, and resetting pins and passwords.  It took longer than expected.  The man on the phone explained he was working from home and a major thunderstorm has just passed through Atlanta.  For some reason, it slowed computer traffic.

If I stayed in the store, I might have seen a model, I liked and I am long overdue for an upgrade.  Note to business people:  people spend money in stores, not while they are stuck on hold.

There is a better way to do things.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

This Diamond Ring


Where there is no need, you create one.  

Tiffany's is coming out with a line of engagement rings for men.  I'm sure other jewelers will follow suit.

How do I feel?  Why not!?

It's a nice way of showing commitment, and if it's good enough for one half of the couple, it should be good for the other.

Would I wear one?  Tough call.  I don't like jewelry.  I wear a watch, but only on work days.  Upon maternal insistence, I got a high school graduation ring.  I wore it once-- the night I graduated.  It's been in the box ever since.   I knew I would never wear it, and graduating from high school was no major accomplishment.  I thought the whole ring thing was silly, but I fell victim to convention.  I did get a chuckle out of my best friend on graduation night.  He loved his ring, and, of course, forgot to wear it to the ceremony.

College was a much more meaningful accomplishment.  I didn't buy a ring.  See paragraph above.  I knew I would never wear it.

There is no engagement on my horizon, so a new ring is a moot point.  I do give a lot of credit to Tiffany's for finding a new source of revenue.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Is It Too Much to Ask?


I don't go anywhere.

My trips are limited to work, the supermarket, and the mini mart on $1 Texas Weiner day.  I can go two weeks, maybe even a little more, between fill ups.

I think I'm like most Americans-- I have a few gas station branded credit cards that get you a few cents off a gallon.  Over the course of a year, it probably saves me enough to buy a peppermint pattie (small, generic brand).

Is it too much to ask gas station operators to maintain their pumps so they spit out a receipt the way it should.  Very few function the right way.  It means walking in to the store to get one from the clerk, and being forced to wait behind a line of people looking to pick up their Cash 5 tickets.  Or, you can just skip it, and write it down when you get home.

You see, I'm a fanatic about credit card receipts, and even clerks these days assume you don't want one.  They rarely ask.  Hey, I want mine!

I've done too many stories on skimmers at pumps, fraud and identity theft.  Retailers could help fight crime by getting their equipment working the right way.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Monday Scrapple


Last week, I was doing what I usually do on Sunday mornings-- listening to an old Casey Kasem show on the satellite 70's channel.  "Peaceful" by Helen Reddy came on.  I had forgotten what a nice song that was, and Reddy had a lovely voice.

I passed by a school the other day and saw children in a playground.  I hadn't seen that in a long time.  Sad times in which we live.

The asphalt plants have been open for weeks.  Why are streets still a mess?

Academy Awards ratings were in the tank this year.  Was anyone surprised?  Theaters were closed and no one heard of the movies up for Oscar consideration.

Retired astronaut Michael Collins died Wednesday.  Cancer.  90.  He orbited the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin explored the lunar service.  Collins is called the "forgotten astronaut," and that is just sad.  He played a major role in the success of Apollo 11.

I tried, I really tried, to get in to the NFL draft Thursday night.  It wasn't happening.  Even on the radio, it all seemed so forced.

One of the great joys of life:  diet peach iced tea.

I've tried tri-fold wallets a few times over the years and I just don't like them.

Can "Jeopardy!" please just pick a host, already?

Dandelions on the lawn never bothered me.

I stumbled across "Bad Teacher" on one of the cable channels over the weekend, a movie I saw in a theater years ago.  it wasn't a great film, but it was darned entertaining.

Why does every sports highlight show think every clip has to have music behind it?

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Andy's Angles: Note to Self


I had the itch to do some light trail photography a couple of weeks ago.

Note to self:  If you want to scratch the itch, pick a time when there is actual traffic.

This is the 3:30 am view at Spruce and Jefferson in Scranton.  I had the shutter open for 30 seconds.


The expedition was not a total loss.  It looks like a great intersection to get some shots and I'll be back.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

About the Cover: Slow Ride


When it comes to shooting moving water, I like the fast shutter speeds so you can see every bit of motion, every bubble, every wave, every drop.

I seem to be in the minority.

Most photographers favor the slow shutter speeds, so the moving water takes on a smooth, silky,  and milky appearance.  I tried it at the Lackawanna River at Peckville a month ago, with underwhelming results.

You see, when you leave the shutter open on a sunny day, the photo gets overexposed, no matter how much you choke down the aperture.  

The solution-- get a filter, a version of sunglasses for your camera.  It allows less light in to the camera, so you can keep the shutter open longer.   I used my new filter for the first time a few weeks ago at a waterfall in Honesdale.  By the way, why did I never know this was here, and I've been in this part of Wayne County dozens of times?

The filter works nicely, and I will admit that I need more work with it.

It really doesn't take long to get the desired effect.  In the top photo, the shutter was open for five seconds.  In the middle photo, it was open for 1/5 of a second, and in the third, the shutter was open for six seconds.

You'll see the opposite, next week, in this very space.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Let's Review


The first vacation week of the year is in the books and it's tradition here for a little review before it's back to work tonight.

It was an average week off for me.  No complaints.  I got to play with my camera a few times, read a little, wandered a bit, and slept a lot.  There was also some bike time, and I forgot how much I missed it.

There was what I call "arts and crafts" time.  I recently had some favorite photos printed.  A short shopping trip produced some nice frames, and I finally got around to hanging them on a wall.

Thanks to Carmella Mataloni for filling in last weekend.  Back to work tonight.

Onward and upward.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Shake Down Cruise


I'm slightly late this year.

Regular readers know I like to ride my bike early in the morning, and when it's above 50 degrees.  Well, warm morning weather has been elusive so far this spring.

I got the itch the other day, aired up the tires, lubed up the chain and went for a daytime ride.  The bike is in fine shape.  I am not.

The first few journeys were in the five mile range.  I'll gradually increase the distance over the course of the spring and summer.

It was nice to be back on two wheels.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Down One


The census numbers are in and to no one's surprise, the south gets stronger and Pennsylvania gets a little weaker.

The state loses one of its 18 congressional districts, and our electoral vote counts drops from 20 to 19.  Pennsylvania peaked at 38 in the 1920's.  It was as high as 25 during the Reagan years.

Does the state lose some of its clout?  Of course.  Is it still one of the major prizes?  Indeed yes.

So, now it's up to the people in Harrisburg to re-draw the congressional district maps, and we remember what kind of debacle that was ten years ago.  Each party tries to protect its incumbents.  Each party looks for the advantage.  The goal is to split the state into 17 pieces, with roughly the same number of residents in each.  Add the political component, and you get some funky looking districts.

Last time, it would up in the courts and no one would really be shocked if it happens again.  There is a lot at stake here.

Equally as fascinating, Texas gets two more representatives and that means two more electoral votes.  Democrats have to be concerned about that.  Texas hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976.  Plus, blue state California loses one, and California hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since George HW Bush in 1988.

Florida jumps one, to 30, and that is a state that has gone Republican in seven out of the last ten presidential elections.

The path to 270, always treacherous, becomes even more challenging, for both parties in 2024.

If all goes as it should, you could see some different names, in different places, on the ballot  next year.