Monday, January 27, 2020

In Memoriam

Jim Lehrer died last week.  85.  PBS reporter and anchor.

I'm not going to pretend to be a "NewsHour"fan, but I was impressed that he moderated 12 presidential or vice presidential debates.  That's a tribute to the man's fairness and respect.

I did read Lehrer's book. "A Bus of My Own" when it was released.  Lehrer's father ran a bus company and then managed a bus station.  Lehrer loved buses, collecting signs and other memorabilia over the years.  He even bought and restored an old bus that he drove around his farm.  I'm sure you can find the book somewhere.  You'll enjoy it, even if you're not a news junkie.  The man had a fascinating career.

Lehrer, according to the Washington Post, was one of those journalists who never voted.  That makes me sad.   Lehrer believed it preserved his impartiality.  Voting is a privilege.  Use it.  if you're a journalist, be fair and leave your bias behind when you walk out of the polling place.

Shifting gears...

Friday was the 45th anniversary of the death of Larry Fine, by favorite Stooge.

I loved Larry for several reasons.  He reminded me of the guy who lived across the street.  My neighbor wasn't a stooge, but there was a slight resemblance, especially in the nose and the hair line.  I still look at the porch where my neighbor spent so many days after retiring, and I really miss him.

Larry always tried to be the peace maker between Moe and Curly or Shemp.  He always tried to do the right thing, the voice of reason, and he was always rewarded with a slap.

Few people know Larry was an accomplished violinist, and a Philadelphia native.

He made me laugh, and I am grateful for the gift.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Andy's Angles: Old and New

Regular readers know I'm a big fan of the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.

If I do have one criticism, it is that it doesn't change much.

Imagine my delight when I found this on a cold morning earlier this month-- an old and a new Reading engine side by side.  Again, regular readers know the one on my left is my favorite in the collection.  I just adore the black, green and gold.

Having said that, I really hate this shot.  The winter sun was not my friend, a very low angle.  It was impossible for this amateur to get the shot he wanted.

I will return.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Andy's Angles: Solitary Duck

He's tough to spot, in the middle of a cold Lackawanna River at Blakely.

It was a solitary duck, on a sunny but cold winter morning.

In all honesty, he wasn't so solitary.  Some friends were on the bank off to my left.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Heal Thyself

There was a fascinating guest editorial in the Times~Leader this week.  It was written by a doctor, who was alarmed over the increasing number of Americans who no longer have a primary care physician.

The writer blamed some of that on the increased appearance of walk in medi-clinics and the internet.  In a refreshing twist, he also placed some of the blame on the medical industry,  and primary care physicians who have become less responsive to patients' needs.

I've written about my issues with the medical industry in this space before.  I had one doctor, who I loved, close a practice with very short notice.  The medical group this doctor belonged to really didn't seem to care what became of the patients.

I called one doctor, who wanted me to apply to become a patient.  Pass.

Others seemed more interested in my insurance than my needs.  Pass.

I found a nice, little, small town practice.  There were a few years of happiness.  He then closed it, and moved in with one of the giant companies.  Pass.

I didn't drop my primary care physician.  He dropped me.

Thursday, January 23, 2020


A quick review:  I've made no secret of the fact that I hated 6th grade.  I was stuck in a horrible, decrepit old building.  No library.  No cafeteria.  A paved alley was our playground.  It was a fire trap that was condemned by the state a few years after I had moved on.  My teacher was an OK guy, but stuck in the past.  He was nearing retirement.  The passion and the fun were gone, and there was no joy in that classroom.  It reminded me of those black and white "Leave it to Beaver" classrooms, where smiling was outlawed.

Foundation established.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a blog entry about my follies in the school band.  Well, one thing led to another.  It started an exchange of several messages with my 6th grade music teacher, who was not connected to the band.

Let me tell you something.  This woman was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal and tear inducing  school year.

STEM is important, but she was living proof you do need arts in a school curriculum.   Those music classes got me through the year.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Swagger

The only thing I know about acting is "I can't do it."

I do pick up on little things now and again.  Acting is more than lines.  It's movement.

I've seen "The Fugitive" at least a dozen times, a vastly underrated film.  As I've said before, you know a movie is good if you know the ending beforehand, and it still captures your attention.  A fabulous piece of film making called "Quiz Show" is a perfect example of that.  So is "Apollo 13."

Anyway, back to my point.  Just watch the way Tommie Lee Jones moves throughout "The Fugitive."  Such confidence.  I call it the "swagger."  If you want another example of that, watch my all time favorite movie, "My Favorite Year."   Just watch the way Peter O'Tole glides from scene to scene.  Here is a man who lives on the edge.  His world can crumble beneath him at any minute, and he walks with supreme elegance and confidence.

A tiny part of me was always curious about the performing arts.  Maybe some day, I'll give The Swagger a try.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Prince of Darkness

Let's review.

I tell you ad nauseum that I hate Black Friday, I don't like Independence Day noise, I'm not fan of Christmas and New Year's mayhem...  and the last two weeks in January are among my least favorite of the year.

Here's why January is on my "you know what" list..  Even though the days are getting longer and the sun is a little stronger, it's still pretty dark out there.  The Christmas decorations and lights are down.  It's dismal.

There is a little "light" at the end of the tunnel.  It seems like an increasing number of people decorate for Valentine's Day.  It's nice to see strings of red lights on front porches.  I've noticed a relatively new trend of light blue light strings on homes.  I assume that notes the snow, ice, and cold of winter.  I like it!  It's a tough time of year to find anything bright.

Speaking of lights, I see the city of Scranton and the newspaper have finally noticed what I've been complaining about here for months-- the darkness of downtown Scranton, especially Lackawanna Avenue.  Some fixes are on the way, and you need more.

There is another late January issue-- the cold and the snow.  All the lights in the world can't fix that.  The worst will soon be over.  The average daily highs and lows bottom out soon, and the climb begins February 1.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Listen and Learn

It happens Saturday, and it's one of the most important events of the year.

The League of Women Voters is holding its annual school on how to run a campaign.  You can find it at the University of Scranton.

I've been doing this a long time, and I am continually amazed at the number of candidates who run lousy campaigns.  Even more amazing is the number of so called political consultants and advertising people who have little or no clue as to that new news media needs.

I've never been to one of these schools, but I have seen extensive videos on the local cable TV public access channel.  It's good stuff.  Valuable information. 

It's not just a "candidate" thing.  I've seen so many who manage to get elected that just can't handle the news media.  We're not your friends.  We're not the enemy, either.  We're just out to get a solid story and inform our audience.  I've seen dozens of elected officials who are not pro-active and haven't the slightest idea how to keep their constituents informed.  Running a city or a county, a police department, a coroner's office...  are not 9 to 5, Monday through Friday jobs.  You want the big chair behind the big desk?  You want the power?  Get ready to shoulder the responsibility.

There is a new batch of elected officials in office.  Some have started off the wrong way.  they feel they are not responsible to the people who elected them.  They are trying to muzzle employees and stifle the free flow of information.  I've seen it many times before.  It never works.

Go to campaign school.  It's a decision you won't regret.

By the way, mixed results on my Championship Weekend picks.  I did predict a Kansas City vs San Francisco Super Bowl, but I didn't think SF would cover the spread.  It did.  As I write this, KC is a one point favorite.  I'll likely make a pick, here, the Friday before the game.

People will watch the Super Bowl regardless, but FOX has to be happy with the match-up.  Big population in the Bay Area.  Kansas City has a big star QB.  Both teams have powerful offenses, and scoring is what brings eyeballs to televisions.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Andy's Angles: They Even Took the Flag

Gander Outdoors, to the right of Staples, recently closed its Dickson City store, and several others.

When Gander Outdoors, formerly Gander Mountain, took over, it planted a huge flag pole and flag in the parking lot.

The flag was huge.  You could see it for miles.  Sadly, the flag disappeared when the store closed.  It's too bad the plaza's owner, Staples or the other store in the plaza, Best Buy, didn't assume responsibility.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Andy's Angles: Focus

I recently bought a couple of new lenses for a camera I've had for years.  Some rare down time during Christmas afforded me the opportunity to watch some "how to" videos on the internet.

Fast forward to the morning of January 2.  It was again some rare down time, and an even more rare sunny winter day.

One of my "go to" spots is a park in Blakely, along the Lackawanna River.

In the shot below, notice how the focus is on the tree branch hanging over the river.  The water is blurred.
In the photo below, it's just the opposite.
Okay, I'm not going to win any awards, but it's a start.

By the way, one video I watched showed how much shutter speed can influence how you photograph water.  I'll have more on that in the weeks to come.