Wednesday, August 31, 2011

From a Different Era

New York City has a new FM all news station,  WEMP 101.9.  It streams on the internet, and you can listen to it  here, at  It's not a bad operation.  Plus, I'm in favor of anything that adds news to the radio dial, and keeps news people employed.

Like a lot of radio stations, WEMP has traffic reports.  In the biz, we call them sounders-- a little jingle or few musical notes that let you know a different feature has arrived.  WEMP uses a "ding ding" thing as the traffic report intro, the same sound you used to hear when you drove over the thin, black hose at the full service gas station.  Driving over the hose would trigger the ding ding bell inside the station, alterting the attendant that he (or she) had to go outside to pump some gas.

Here's my point.  Most full service stations are long gone.  WEMP is trying to appeal to a new generation of all news listeners.  Does anyone under 40 know what the ding ding is all about?

I have to admit, it did bring back some pleasant memories of my uncle's gas station, and the gas stations where I grew up, where I used to get air in my bike tires and a cold soda.  But then again, I'm not in WEMP's target demographic.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Time Passages

The news was disturbing.  One of my favorite churches is being torn down to make room for a parking lot.

Holy Family Church on North Washington Avenue in Scrantron had been closed for a while.  This is the view from the Gibson Street side, which was the most favorable sun angle during my early morning visit.

It's a beautiful building, with plenty of red brick, tiled roof, and a distinct, weathered steeple.
I liked this church for more than its architectural features.  It was a big part of the Scranton Slovak community for a very long time.  I made a few visits here during Holy Week because it was the distribution point for Easter baskets for families in need.  That's one of my favorite stories every year because the families were always appreciative of the help, and so many people volunteered to be part of the project.  When you get a regular diet of death and destruction, a positive story is a fantastic breath of fresh air.

I'm trying to look at this rationally.  The church was closed as part of the diocese's downsizing.  It was unlikely to be reopened, or for another organization to step in.  There isn't much you can do with an old church, and renovating it for another use is cost prohibitive.

When the church is gone, it will provide parking for the near by Commonwealth Medical College.  The College is our future, so anything that helps it survive and thrive is a good thing.

Some heavy equipment was being moved in during my picture taking expedition.  I'm glad I got there before it was too late, and I'm glad I spent some memorable mornings inside.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Notes

Observations from Hurricane Irene weekend...

I was in Walmart Friday morning, doing what I usually do-- stocking up on supplies for work.  The approaching hurricane was at the back of my mind, so I grabbed some extra diet soda and a box of oatmeal, in case I have to spend more time at the office than originally planned.

Saturday morning, before, during and after the broadcast, I watched meteorologist Noreen Clark's forecast, and the outlook put forth by others.  Everyone agreed our area was going to get hit.  The impact, however, differed widely.  Irene was going to be either a pussycat or a tiger.

There's a Price Chopper supermarket on my way home.  I didn't have to stop, but I did spy the parking lot from the highway.  Packed.  People were taking the forecast seriously and reacting, perhaps over reacting.  As we later discovered, it was the former and not the latter.

A light rain was falling as I drove in to work, around 10 Saturday night.  There was a lot of traffic on Interstate 81 and Montage Mountain Road.  I was surprised.

Just as I got to work, the skies opened, and it began to pour.  Meteorologist Ryan Coyle briefed me as to what to expect overnight and in the morning.  Thank you, Ryan, and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say good bye.  Good luck in Harrisburg, and I'm sure our paths will cross again.

One of my tricks to staying alert on the overnight shift is going outside for a breath of fresh air once in a while, even if it's the middle of winter.  Yesterday morning had a tropical feel-- windy, rainy, warm.

I swapped e-mails, in the middle of the night, with one of my former co-workers, a producer now working in Norfolk.  She's fine.  So is the family.  I was relieved.

Noreen arrived earlier than usual, trooper that she is.  We went over a few format changes for the Sunday morning broadcast.  I gave her extra time.  I knew she'd need it.  There was an awful lot going on.

The four hour long morning broadcast flew by.  Dave Bohman was in the rain in Honesdale.  Jim Murdoch was with his folks down at the Jersey shore.  Both had interesting stories to tell, and it was different every time.

There was a glitch in the air conditioning system Saturday and Sunday, and it was much warmer than normal in the studio.  People were losing their homes in a storm.  I had no reason to complain about a little bit of sweat.

Just as our broadcast ended, conditions really started to deteriorate.  Creeks were coming over their banks.  Homes were being evacuated.  I wanted to stay, but we had several fresh staffers in place.  The station could do without me, for a little while.  I needed some rest.  I have what they call a quick turnaround and today is guaranteed to be a busy day.

On the ride home, the roads were empty.  That Price Chopper parking lot was almost deserted.

I spun around the radio dial, looking for my information on the storm.  The only one who sounded interested in what was going on was the guy on Rock 107.  Yes, the rock station had quick weather and traffic updates.  The other stations were missing in action.  So sad.

After some microwaved Chinese food for breakfast, I had one eye on the computer and another on the television-- flipping around to see how the storm was being covered.  I was pleased.  No hysterics, but then again, I did avoid The Weather Channel.

What was up with that jacket on new Jersey's chief executive?  On the right side of the chest, in big letters, it was embroidered "Chris Christie, Governor."  No NJ state seal.  Just the lettering.  I think people know who you are, Governor Christie.  He's being criticized by some for going on national TV broadcasts BEFORE appearing on local NJ radio.  Hey, governor, it's local first.

I looked up while driving to work Sunday night.  The clouds are gone.  It was nice to see the stars.

First item on the Sunday night/Monday morning work agenda was reviewing the work of fellow staffers to see what would go into the Monday AM broadcasts.  I have the pleasure of working with a talented bunch of people.

I hope you made it through Irene unscathed, and thank you for watching.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: New Albany Church

It was a nice morning recently in New Albany, Bradford County, with the summer sun shining off the metal roof of the Baptist church.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: Laporte Church

It's another from the "rural churches collection."  This one is the United Methodist Church in Laporte.  Here's what I like the most-- the arched windows, and the arches in the roof over the front door and steps.

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's Only a Game

Yes, I've blogged about this before, but it's worth revisiting, especially in light of recent events.

You should have seen some of the e-mails that came in to the newsroom after the Keystone team from Clinton County lost its first game in the Little League World Series.  They were all nasty, and they all had the same theme:  the umpires screwed the kids.

Then, last weekend, the San Francisco 49'ers played the Oakland Raiders in an NFL exhibition game.  The game was marred by beatings, shootings, and assorted other violence.  The Niners are upping stadium security, including banning tailgating during the game.  They suspect a lot of the fan mayhem was fueled by alcohol.  The Niners have also asked the NFL to end the yearly tradition of playing Oakland in a pre season game.

What the heck is going on here?  Why do we take sports so seriously?

I'm sure you've heard the stories about how Philadelphia is no man's land if you happen to like the visiting team.

Alcohol plays a role, but it's not the only reason.  You'll never see an end to alcohol at sporting events.  Follow the money.  There is too much cash to be made from selling beer.

The bottom line is we are part of a less civil society, and sports, which are supposed to be fun, has become a mess.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


While I'm enjoying the cooler days and the even cooler nights, I'm in no hurry for a return to the icy darkness that is January.  Something tells me those cold days will be here sooner than I'd like.

I took my traditional after-work-walk Monday morning.  There are always a ton of squirrels on my route.  I noticed their tails are whiter and fluffier than usual.  Plus, several of the critters were greedily and ferociously grabbing what they could from a chestnut tree.

I'm not one of those people who studies wooly bear caterpillars for a long range forecast.  In fact, I really don't believe long range outlooks.  They are, at best, a guess.  Most of the ones I've seen in recent years call for a 50/50 shot of warmer or colder than normal.  It's your tax dollars at work.

A volcanic eruption, a solar flare or two, and a warm spot in the Pacific can change things quite a bit.  Even a ten day outlook is a stretch, and I apologize to my forecasting co-workers.

Yet, I do believe the squirrels.  They know.   Make sure there's plenty of coal in the bin.  I fear we're in for a tough winter.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Felt It

I was sitting at my computer a little before 2 yesterday afternoon when I felt the house shake and sway.  It was the same feeling as a big truck passing by-- except this lasted for a few more seconds.

At the moment, it wasn't frightening.  Then, as I flipped on the TV and started fishing for information on the computer, it sunk in.  NEPA is no different than any other spot on the planet.  We can get earthquakes.

A major reason for concern is our communications system.  I was in the midst of a text thing with a friend, when service dropped out, and it stayed out for quite a while.  Imagine if this was the big one.

I read where earthquakes are actually quite common around here, but most are too small to feel.

This is actually the second I've experienced.  I was sitting in the WNEP newsroom on a weekend morning several years ago, when the windows shook for a brief moment.  I didn't feel the earthquake, but I saw it.

Earthquakes are strange.  I've always wondered what they felt like, yet I never wanted to be in the middle of one.

Now, I've had a taste, and that's more than enough.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


So, it appears the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees are destined to play their entire 2012 schedule on the road.

Realistically, I can't see any other option.  The stadium is slated for massive repairs, involving removal of the upper deck.  You can't do that kind of work and entertain fans at the same time, even if you could fit the average crowd into one tiny corner of the ballpark, and still have room left over.

The conspiracy theorists are already at work, and the scenario works like this.  The upper deck will be lopped off.  While working on the lower bowl, construction crews will discover the concrete is shot, requiring extensive, and expensive work.  It will be almost like building an entirely new stadium.  Of course, the condition of the concrete will be a surprise, and the additional money to fix it will not be there.  What comes next?  The temporary move out of town becomes permanent.

I dunno.

Potential temporary homes include Ottawa, Allentown, and Staten Island.  I'm betting on the latter.  In addition to the outrageous sweetheart deal to come here, the Yankees wanted something close, so they can keep an eye on the talent.  Staten Island fits the bill.

Is this anything to get upset about?  Hardly.  The Baby Bombers draw an average of 4,500 per game.  Remember, that's tickets sold, not butts in the seats, so the actual attendance figure is quite lower than the 4,500-- second worst in the International League.

I do feel sorry for the ushers and concession people, who have a nice little extra income from April to September.

This organization has done nothing to build a fan base and create excitement.   Weak promotions.  Few giveaways.   Little community involvement.  You can't blame all the attendance woes on bad weather and an unappealing stadium.  The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.

It's sad to say, when the Yankees leave-- temporarily or permanently, a lot of people will let out a big yawn.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Inside Baseball

A little inside TV stuff today...

Doing the news isn't enough these days.  You have to "brand" your coverage.  In other words, do something to make it stand out from the pack, do something to make viewers know who and what they're watching.

ABC today unveils new branding for its election coverage.  The network says it's for 2012 and beyond.  As you can see, it's called "Your Voice Your Vote 2012."

ABC says it's part of an effort to get the know the candidates, and help viewers understand the issues in the upcoming election.

I'll level with you.  Covering politics isn't easy.  Candidates restrict access.  They rarely deviate from the script.  Appearances are "made for TV" events rather than an opportunity to let the public see what's really happening.

The candidates who succeed are usually the ones who come across best on TV.  Call it the charisma factor.

Research shows politics bores the pants off people.  We do our best to make it relevant.

The first primaries are still months away, and political news is already coming front and center.  It looks like we're in for an interesting ride.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: Tamaqua Trains

Another photo from the Tamaqua collection today...

Like yesterday, it was taken in an area adjacent to the train station.  Unfortunately, the station was closed during my visit and I couldn't learn how the engine and cabooses got here.

By the way, I did a search to see what is the plural of "caboose."  It really is "cabooses."  I was leaning toward "caboose," like the "moose" plural also being "moose."

No matter what you call it, enjoy the photo.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: Tamaqua Train

A couple more Tamaqua pictures this weekend...

This engine is adjacent to the train station in the middle of the downtown.  I was unable to receive an explanation as to how Reddy Kilowatt, the cartoon spokesman of the electric generating industry, wound up on the front of a locomotive.  I'm sure there's an interesting story there, somewhere.

I did learn something.  I always thought Reddy Kilowatt was a strictly PPL (or PP&L) mascot, but a search reveals that several utilities across the country used the character.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Scrapple

CBS is blowing up its Philadelphia classic rocker, WYSP, to simulcast an AM sports station.  While it's sad to see a legendary station go away, sports talk on FM is the new "in" thing.  CBS has done it, successfully, in a few other big cities.

The NFL has moved the kick off spot to the 35 yard line.  It's made the game safer, but boring.

I will be afraid to open my monthly financial statement in a couple weeks.

I've been reading a few more things about people concerned over the size and seriousness of the Little League World Series.

I'm not a fan of later sun rises, but the earlier sunsets don't bother me. Yes, I know I'm in the minority.

I know it was only for two days, but it was nice to see people excited about the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees for a change.

TLC has canceled "Kate Plus 8."  It's time for that woman to just go away.

Speaking of creepy, USA Today reports Burger King is ditching the "King" character from its commercials.  I like BK, but those ads did nothing to get me in the doors.

So, the Miami football program is dirty.  Is anyone surprised?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Happened?

Yesterday was a day off, and I found myself out on the road quite a bit earlier than usual. There was no time for breakfast at home, so I considered having a quick sandwich at a fast food restaurant or one of those 24 hour mini marts. Those options disappeared because I craved something different. I dropped by a place I hadn't visited in years: Denny's.

I pulled in to the parking lot in Dickson City just after 5 AM. It was deserted. The waitress was outside the front door having a smoke. I asked if it was open. The reply was "yes," so I parked the car and ventured in. I was the one and only customer.

The waitress told me I could sit wherever I liked. I looked around, and asked "What did you do with the counter?" Apparently, Denny's ditched the counters some time ago, and that tells you a lot about the last time I was there. I grabbed a small booth where the counters used to be.

Service was fast because it wasn't like the poor waitress had a crush of customers. I ordered the western omlette. It was on my table in a flash. I've had better. I've had worse. I've had less expensive breakfasts.

The reason I was out so early was to get some blood work. One of the Scranton hospitals has a 24 hour lab. The hunger came from the 12 hour fast necessary before the needle pokes your arm.

If I didn't have high cholesterol before, I certainly do now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It Never Changes

Let's take you back to this time in 1977.  ABC was about to premiere a new sitcom called "Soap."  It was a parody of daytime dramas, and some of the early eposides featured a cross dressing homosexual character.  People went nuts and condemned the show.  They tried to get ABC to cancel it, before the first episode aired, before anyone saw it.

"Soap" went on to become a creative and funny show, running for four years and 85 episodes.

Let's jump forward 34 years.  NBC is about to start running a drama called "The Playboy Club."  The title says it all.  It's about the Playboy Club back in the 60's.  Once again, some groups are screaming-- before the first show has aired.

Will I be a viewer?  Unlikely.  My schedule doesn't allow for much prime time television, and most dramas put me to sleep.  However, it will be nice to have a show in prime time that doesn't involve an autopsy.

I always look at these these things the same way.  If you don't like it, don't watch it.  If enough people don't watch it, the show goes away.   If it becomes a hit, so what?  No one forces you to tune in.  I was never a fan of the "I don't like it, so you shouldn't like it" school of thought. 

Let's all decide for ourselves.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Media Notes

The Weather Channel is at it again.  Why is it that any time I want to see the temperature and the forecast, The Weather Channel is running one of its "documentaries."  It's always the same-- someone running away from a flood, or someone running toward a tornado.  At least the first part of hurricane season has been quiet.  We haven't been subjected to The Weather Channel's drama kings and kings, telling us to get out of the storm while they're standing in the middle of it.

TBS has canceled the George Lopez Show.  I was an occasional viewer.  It wasn't great television, not even close.  But, it was fresh and different.  TBS will inflict a couple episodes of "The Office" on us as a replacement.

The Indianapolis 500 will be on ABC through 2018.  It's nice to see a major sporting event still on boradcast television.

What is it with the Scranton area public access cable channel?  It seems like it's in black half of the time.  When it's "on," the audio is bad.

I know two NASCAR broadcasts will be shorter next year.  Both races at Pocono have been trimmed by 100 miles.  A shorter race equals less advertising.  Other than "this will make the races more exciting," I've yet to hear a good reason.  I've also yet to hear who made the call-- the locals or NASCAR.

Radio sports talk host Tony Bruno, one of the best out there, recently was suspended for a week after calling a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants an "illegal alien."  Bruno apologized.  Even smart people say dumb things once in a while.

FOX and CBS have re-shuffled some NFL broadcast teams.  Positive:  CBS has added the great Marv Albert.  Negative:  Screamer Gus Johnson will call some games for FOX, when his FX college schedule allows.

Why does every ad for peaches, print or broadcast, include the word "juicy?"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Medical Update

Relax.  This is likely my last blog on my adventures in the field of medicine.

I had my first check up with my new doctor the other afternoon.

All in all, it wasn't bad.

First, there was a stack of forms that needed to be filled out.  I then handed over my records from my ex-doctor, who closed his practice at the beginning of August.  A nurse and I went over some history.  The doctor and I went over some more history.

While I'm suffering from a little separation anxiety, I think I can deal with the new guy.  His office does things a little differently.  It's nothing major and I can easily get used to it.

After a flu shot and a tetanus shot (hadn't had one of those in decades), and a slip for some blood work, I was on my way.  I'll have the blood drawn at a lab in a couple days.  With any luck, there's nothing bad swimming around in there, like excessive cholesterol.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: Waymart History

The Gravity Railroad, between Carbondale and Hawley, also had some passenger service, and one of the the cars is still around.  It's under a roof, beside the Gravity Railroad Depot in Waymart.

The cars were open, and there were no seats-- just benches.

Comfort took a back seat.

More on the history of Wayne County can be found at the historical society's web site.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: Waymart History

If you love small towns with a sense of history, Waymart in Wayne County is your place.

Today, we're looking at the old Gravity Railroad Depot.

The Gravity Railroad was used to haul coal between Hawley and Carbondale.  It began operation in 1850.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Have We Learned?

Former Luzerne County judge Mark Ciavarella has been sentenced and will be in prison for the next 28 years.

So, let's try to sum up the last three years.

>>Luzerne County is the "pay to play" county, and it's not what you know.  It's who you know.  The old boys network was in high gear.  Some red flags went up during the process of closing the old juvenile detention center and the leasing of the new one, but no one knew enough, or cared enough to ask the right questions.  Apparently, there was a sliver of light someone saw somewhere, and that kicked off the investigation that led us to this point.

>>The system is a disaster.  Too few judges, and a few others, got too powerful, and the law allowed them to operate in secrecy.

>>The media, in general, could have done a better job in keeping an eye on these rascals, but also, please note the previous statement.

>>Thousands of kids went before Ciavarella without legal representation.  No one cared, and that was backed up by the state panel that investigated this mess.  No one has been held responsible for that, and that is criminal in and of itself.

>>In a statement to the judge yesterday, the prosecutor quoted the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice report that said Ciavarella sold kids "wholesale." Mr. Prosecutor,  I sure wish you would have tried to show that during the trial.

>>I read some of the victim impact letters sent to court.  A few, from people in power, complained about the media scrutiny this has brought upon Luzerne County.  Too bad.  If you did your job in the first place, this never would have happened.

>>Ciavarella admitted being a hypocrite yesterday.  What took you so long?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Inspiration Series

A while back, I wrote how game show host Allen Ludden was one of my inspirations as a broadcaster.

Today, another-- and one you might view as rather strange-- Bob Vila.

He started doing PBS's This Old House when I was in high school.  Even though I can't drive a nail straight to save my life, and power tools frighten me, I always watched.  Bob Vila made wood working and home improvement simple and entertaining.

I watched some old Bob Vila shows on the internet over the weekend.  He's the best at the genre that ever was.  Vila's enthusiasm sets him apart.  Every season, there was at least one show where Vila installed dry wall, and no matter how many times he did it, Bob Vila had the joy of the first.

Bob Vila is no longer a regular on television.  His TV series went out of production a few years ago.  You do see him from time to time selling Amish heaters on infomercials, and that's just sad.   The man knows how to communicate.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Going Around in Circles

I almost couldn't believe what I was reading.

Former judge Mark Ciavarella will be sentenced tomorrow morning in federal court at Scranton.

In a pre sentence brief, one of his attornies asked for a reasonable sentence, saying Ciavarella's "unusual collateral employment circumstances" leave him susceptible to abuse while behind bars.

Let me get this straight.  The guy is going to jail because he was a dirty judge.  Yet, the defense asks for a break because the guy was a judge.

Mark Ciavarella is a lucky man.  He has lawyers.  Thousands of kids who went before him didn't.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The Verizon strike fascinates me, and aspects of it can be debated for days.

Verizon is a hugely profitable company, yet it's asking union workers for give backs.  Among the things requested by management are the ability to outsource some jobs and have employees pay for some of their benefits.

The union counters that there's no reason for the concessions because Verizon makes money-- a lot of it.

The company says technology is changing.  Its telephone monopoly ended long ago.  The internet has added a new dimension.  There's no longer a need for that land line.  It has to evolve to stay alive.

But, Verizon has its hands in more pies these days-- wireless, television, fiber optics, satellites...

Verizon is profitable and wants to stay that way.  It says it has to prepare for an even more diverse future.
Unionized workers want job protection.  We all do.

Unionized workers say they only want to share in the company's success.

Verizon says it needs concessions from workers to stay successful.

It will be interesting to see how this one turns out, and I'm sure a lot of other communications companies eagerly anticipate the outcome.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Yorkers

There are very few entertainers who are instantly known just by their first name.  One of them, Lucille Ball, was born 100 years ago, this past Saturday, in Jamestown, NY.

I was too young to fully appreciate Lucy's early days, but I did grow up on her second series, "The Lucy Show."  The formula was simple-- silly and funny, with plenty of guest stars.  Chemistry with co-stars Gale Gordon and Vivian Vance played a huge role.  And, then there were the special appearances.  I'll always remember the episode where Lucy assured Jack Benny his money was secure at her bank, with a tour of a high security vault.  The John Wayne show was another highlight.

Prime time wasn't enough.  CBS used to show reruns in the morning, before it got back in the game show business in 1972.

There were tons of celebrations in Jamestown over the weekend, as it should have been.  I visited Jamestown once, on my way back from Erie and Buffalo.  Unfortunately, it was early in the morning.  The Lucy Museum was closed.  I had to settle for a Burger King breakfast.

I'll always remember the day Lucy passed-- April 26, 1989.  It was also opening night of Lackawanna County Stadium in Moosic.

The word "legend" is over used.  It fits here.  Lucy was a legend.

Plus, former New York governor Hugh Carey dies yesterday at the age of 92.  Carey was credited as the guy who put together the deal to lead New York City out of its 1975 financial crisis.

Carey got people in Albany, New York, and Washington to work together to fix the problem.

Scranton could use a Hugh Carey today.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bad Photography Sunday: Dunmore

Today, it's another view of Dunmore # 1 reservoir, just off Tigue St.  Yesterday, it was the spillway.  Today, it's the reservoir itself.

The picture doesn't do it justice, but the water was exceptionally still and glass like during my visit.  A duck was paddling around when I was there.  He's not visible in the picture.

This is no Lake Scranton.  The trail isn't paved.  There's not much room to park.  It's much smaller, only 1-5 miles.

However, it is a nice place to get out for a little while, a place for a moderate walk instead of a major expedition.

Congratulations to the volunteers who made it happen.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bad Photography Saturday: Dunmore

I've been meaning to get here for a while, and my mission was partially accomplished a few weeks ago.  I say "partially" because I didn't have time to walk the entire 1.5 mile trail.
Volunteers, several months ago, established a trail around Dunmore # 1 reservoir near Tigue Street.  The trail isn't paved, and that's okay.  There are a few signs about area wildlife, plus picnic tables, benches, and a small parking area.

Above, the spillway, which is closest to the entrance.

Tomorrow, another view.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Choice

I think I've settled on a new doctor, and let me tell you how I did it.

To bring you up to speed, my former doctor closed his practice.  I had two days notice.  No one from his medical group seemed interested in helping choose a successor, so I was on my own.

By the way, I'd really love to mention names here.

Anyway, I thought I'd stalled long enough, so I logged on to my insurance company's web site.  There was quite a list of doctors in the insurance company's network.  I started with the doctors closest to home, NOT affiliated with my former doctor's group.  The group had done nothing to retain my business.

If I called and was hit with a long list of automated operator options, that doctor was instantly disqualified.  The first voice I hear when I call my doctor should be that of a live human.  Three got knocked out of the box in a hurry.

One potential doctor wasn't accepting new patients.

I finally got a nice woman on the phone, relatively close to home, who was actually interested in helping.  She walked me through the process of switching, and I got an appointment right away.

Of course, I could hate the guy.  I remember when my financial consultant retired.  I went through two replacements, with the same company, rather quickly, before settling on someone I really like.

There's some unfinished business.  I still have to send a letter to the medical group, outlining its poor patient relations.  When I went to the main office to pick up my file, I was asked to sign a release form and was questioned about my new doctor.  There was no "thank you."  No "sorry you're leaving us."  Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.

I really liked my old doctor.  I hope the new one is just as good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

This Bud's for You

Anheuser Busch said yesterday that it's giving its Budweiser cans a new look, and the redesign is on the left.

The company says the new cans are bolder and sleeker, and it's part of making a Budweiser a global brand.

It's also meant to do something else-- reverse a trend in sales.  A down economy and high unemployment have taken their toll on Budweiser.

I had a stock broker I loved back in the 80's.  She's been retired for a while now.  During the recession back then, she suggested I buy stock in Pepsi.  Pepsi also owns snack food company Frito Lay.  My broker said her company's reserach showed that even in tough times, people will still spend a couple bucks on the simple comfort of a bottle of pop and a bag of chips.  She was right.  I recall making a few bucks on Pepsi stock.  It wasn't a fortune.

I suspect people are still buying beer, and the lower priced brands are doing well.  Budweiser, apparently, needs a boost.

Help the economy.  Have a beer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday Scrapple

My heart goes out to the family of SSGT Patrick Dolphin.

I had Saturday off, so I took the opportunity to do some aimless morning wandering.  Try to find a local radio newscast on a Saturday morning.  It's just sad.

One of the joys of living in our area is the variety of sandwich shops, but there are just times you crave the Subway consistency.

I finally had a chance to watch "Ebert Presents; At the Movies" on PBS, and I have to say I was disappointed.  The hosts were overwhelmingly snarky and negative.  Even when they were reviewing bad movies, Siskel & Ebert showed a joy and a passion for the craft.  Gene is gone.  Roger lost his voice.  No one has been able to replicate the chemistry.

Did anyone come out of the recent debt ceiling crisis looking better than they did going in?

The pilot episode of "WKRP in Cincinnati" is avaialble on Hulu, and I watched it again the other day.  WKRP was uneven, at best, but when it was "on," it was a scream.  The pilot is great TV.  Usually, TV shows and movies about broadcasting bear no resemblance to the real thing.  WKRP was one of the few exceptions.  I worked with a few Johnny Fever types over the years.  Smarmy salesman Herb Tarlek nailed it.  I've worked with dozens of Herb Tarleks over the years.

Isn't it nice to see the Pittsburgh Pirates doing well?  It's too bad the Baltimore Orioles are such a train wreck.

Now that plans to replace the Dickson City Borders with another book store have fallen through, how about a Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or some competition for Staples?

Sporting News Radio morphed into Yahoo Sports Radio Monday morning.  It remains the smallest of the big 3 radio sports networks, but some shows are a lot better than what you hear on ESPN Radio and FOX Sports Radio.

People who need a raise:  cab drivers and overnight Turkey Hill employees.

I'm ready for fall.

The federal government has banned 100 watt incandescent light bulbs.  Cigarettes and alcohol are still okay.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News

I go to the doctor once a year, for a flu shot.  That's it.  Luckily, I'm in good health.  There was an exception last year.  I needed my primary care physician to check me out and sign off on mole removal surgery.  And, there was a minor episode a couple years ago.  My doctor said "I would assume that because I see you only once a year, you're feeling okay.  But, do me a favor.  Go get some blood work, so if you have a problem I can see it coming."  The blood tests showed a vitamin D deficiency, and I was put on prescription supplements the size of a horse's arse.  I work at night and sleep all day.  I never see the sun.  Plus, vitamin D deficiencies are common among people in the north.  I stopped taking the supplements after reading that no one can really agree how much vitamin D you actually need.  I do try to pop a standard drugstore multi vitamin, once in a while.

Anyway, I love my doctor.  He's a great guy who doesn't pester me.  Straightforward.  No nonsense.  His staff was top notch, as well.  Unfortunately, my doctor has had some health problems recently and decided to close his practice.  I recieved a letter notifying me of this Thursday afternoon.  The practice is gone as of August 1.  Yes, two business days notice.  Two!

Here's where it really gets bad.  The letter came from my doctor's umbrella group.  There were two phone numbers on the letter.  The first was that of the local medical society, so I could get a list of doctors who are accepting new patients.  I called.  The person could not have been less helpful.  She said she didn't know how her organization got on the letter.  They've been getting plenty of calls, and they want nothing to do with the whole thing.  Thanks for your help and professionalism.

The second number was for a list of other physicians in the group.  That woman was only slightly more helpful than the first.  I then made a third call-- the umbrella organization number on the letterhead, the administrative office.  I was transferred to someone who offered a little information, but not much.

I asked if my doctor is making a reccommendation.  The answer was no.  In other words, I'm on my own, but I have to notify them of my choice so they can forward my records, with my permission.  By the way, I did receive a nice pitch for staying with the group.  I have to admit, with such shoddy service and customer relations, it's not looking good.

My health insurance company has a web site that lists local doctors who accept my insurance.  It's a crap shoot.  I've asked family and friends.  Everyone has a different answer.

The whole situation-- the late notice and the lack of people willing to step up and help, to actually do their jobs-- made my blood boil.  Perhaps, I should see a doctor.

Monday, August 1, 2011

About the Cover

This month's blog header comes from Laporte, the seat of Sullivan County.  This is the courthouse in the middle of town, built in the 1890's.

It's not just the building-- it's the setting and the area around it, and it's worth a visit.