Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten: Jan's Run

This photo was taken the afternoon of September 8th in Jessup, on Route 247, near the Casey Highway.

Motorcycle riders taking part in Jan's Run passed beneath a flag suspended by ladder trucks from Blakely and Dickson City.  The "Jan" in "Jan's Run" is SGT Jan Argonish, a young man from Peckville killed in Afghanistan in 2007.

It was an unusually warm afternoon for early September.  Early morning clouds and mist gave way to sunshine, big puffy clouds, and a slight breeze.  People and nature came together for one of the best photos of the year.

Thanks for reading the blog this year. I appreciate it. Let's all hope for a happy, safe, and healthy 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top Ten: Nicholson and Why Not?

Some call it the Tunkhannock Viaduct.  Others call it the Nicholson Bridge.  Everyone calls is spectacular.

This shot was taken in mid April.

I love how one of the supports is reflected in the water of Tunkhannock Creek.

Moving on...

A Wilkes-Barre Times~Leader editorial was on the money yesterday. It questioned why a city the size of Wilkes-Barre doesn't have a New Year's Eve celebration. The "diamond drop" was canceled years ago because the city didn't have the money. The paper suggested a smaller scale, evening event-- something geared toward families, something that would have you home well before the new year arrives. Think of it-- some food and non alcoholic beverages on the square, a few fireworks at 8 PM-- a sentimental farewell to the old year rather than a wild party to start the new. It makes sense. Wilkes-Barre needs to start thinking big.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top Ten: Windmills

I am fascinated by the Waymart windmill farm.  Back in mid May, I finally found a road that took me close enough to get a good picture.

They are impressive from a distance, and awe inspiring close up.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top Ten: Horses

I set out in search of nature and serenity during my annual September vacation, and I found this happy bunch in a field near Factoryville.

The one in the middle apparently was curious about the strange man with a camera on an early fall afternoon.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Top Ten: Bee and More

As I noted several months ago, the artsy bug bites once in a while.

I was in the move to attempt something pretty as I walked around the University of Scranton campus back in late June.  It took me several minutes of sitting on a hot sidewalk before I got what I wanted.  It's almost like the bee posed for the picture.

Moving on...

As expected, John Miller is leaving CBS news for a job in the New York City Police Department.  The guy has great sources in the law enforcement and intelligence communities, and it showed in his reporting.  I always learned something when he was on.  Miller was by Peter Jennings' side during 9/11.  It was a great team.  Miller knows intelligence and terrorism.  Jennings spent years in the middle east.

What's the problem in the Luzerne County District Attorney's office?  An investigation into allegedly stolen gasoline in Wilkes-Barre has been underway for a year and a half, and it still isn't finished?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Top Ten: Reflections and UPS/FedEx

It's something I try to do every winter-- grab some photos that show the season does have its charm.  I took this one back in mid March.  A patch of clear water opened up in the ice covering the lake at Lackawanna State Park.  The still water reflected the blue sky and clouds.

If you'll remember several months ago, the winter of 12-13 wasn't severe, but it was long, and any sun was greatly appreciated.

Moving on...

UPS is catching a lot of heat because it didn't get all its packages to destinations before Christmas.  The company says it underestimated the package load.  Ya think?

I've used UPS dozens of times over the years and never had a problem.  I can understand how things like this can happen.  However, Christmas is the Super Bowl of the package shipping industry.  You have to get it right.  At a critical time of year, it's better to have too many employees than too few.  UPS, Christmas 2014 is only 364 days away.  Start planning.

Our friends at the Allentown Morning Call report FedEx plans to build a $ 175 million dollar facility near Lehigh Valley International Airport.  Outstanding!  Yes, it would have been nice in NEPA, but Allentown has a bigger airport and transportation system going for it.  It's not like Allentown is on another planet.  There is likely to be some indirect benefits to our area, and I'm sure some people from our coverage area will make the short trip to Allentown to work there.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Very Bynxy Christmas!

This isn't one of the Top Ten photos of the year, but it is fun, and fun is what Christmas is all about.

I'm holding Mr. Bynx, the winner of Snedeker's "Fat Cat Christmas" contest, and his owner, Ashley is by my side.  Bynx, Ashley, and Ashley's mom all stopped by the station Monday morning to claim their prize, and they seem like a really nice trio.

I have to be honest with you.  Mr. Bynx really isn't that fat.  He's a big cat, and most of what you see in my arms is fur.

In a strange twist, I will not be at the office today.  In years past, I volunteered to work Christmas, even if it fell on one of my days off.  I thought I needed a break this year, and there were others interested in the job.

Merry Christmas, and may your holiday be filled with fur, fun, and good times.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Ten: Friends

My schedule keeps me from attending most station events.  This was one of the exceptions-- the "Pennsylvania Outdoor Life" Expo that was held at the Lycoming Mall near Williamsport back in early April.

I got to hang with some really nice people.  From left to right, photographer Tom Durant, and reporters Jim Hamill, Julie Sidoni, Raegan Medgie and Nikki Krize.

I saved this one for Christmas Eve, a time when you realize how lucky you are-- and how friends are a big part of that.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Top Ten: Demolition and Target

The Hotel Sterling in Wilkes-Barre was demolished in late July.

The landmark was always in rough shape.  Years of bungling plans for redevelopment didn't help.  It was all so sad.

This photo was taken around 6:30 AM on July 27th, as a major part of the back of the building fell away.

Moving on...

Target was the victim of a massive security breach.  Millions of credit card numbers were hacked.  Target appears to be making an attempt to fix things.  I don't visit all that often, but I do enjoy my stops there.  I can understand how something like this can happen, but why did it take three weeks to figure out there was a problem?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Top Ten: Old/New Stadium

Baseball returned to Lackawanna County April 4th, with the opening of the revamped stadium at Moosic.

The Yankees spent the 2012 season on the road.  They returned with a new name, the RailRiders.  While they were away, the top got chopped off the ballpark and the lower bowl was re-done.

This photo was taken a few hours before the first pitch on opening night.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Top Ten: Railroad Bridges

My friend, Cara, took a picture of these railroad bridges in Olyphant years ago, and I always meant to try to duplicate the shot.

One day, in late March, I was driving through town, and I had my camera in the car.  The mid day sun was hitting the bridges just right.  The color of the blue sky and rust on the steel really popped.

I still like Cara's shot better, but this one is good enough for the Top Ten of 2013.

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Top 10 and Other Things

Golly.  Is it that time of year again?  2013 has flown by so it's time for my Top Ten photos of 2013.

It's a lot like last year.  They are not necessarily the best photos I've ever taken, but they are ones that mean a lot to me.  This year features more variety than other years.  There are actually living things, like animals and people.  I've branched out, pardon the pun, from trees, rivers, bridges, and buildings.  Tomorrow's countdown, however, begins with the tried and true.

The photo thing underwent a bit of a change in 2013.  The "Bad Photography" title went away.  It was replaced by "Andy's Angles," at the suggestion of co-worker Mindi Ramsey.

Number 10 on the countdown appears tomorrow.  I'll also add a line or two on issues of the day if and when the need arises.  I can't stay quiet for ten days.

Other than that, enjoy the holiday season, and I hope you like the photos.

By the way...

Katie Couric's talk show goes away after this current season is over.  Ratings were OK, but the show was expensive to produce.  Do the math.

Why the uproar over "Duck Dynasty?"  The "gentleman" was free to say whatever he wants.  A&E was free to determine what he had to say is not in the best interest of the company and its advertisers.  Once again, do the math.  Most tv and cable contracts contain a behavior clause.  He didn't behave.  Suspended.  How is this so hard to figure out.  I will never cease to be amazed by networks that hire outrageous people acting surprised and shocked when these individuals engage in outrageous behavior and make outrageous statements.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Christmas Letter

It's a yearly issue that I've been sharing with blog readers for quite a while now.

I receive a Christmas card and letter from an old college friend, and while I love hearing from her, it presents a challenge.  Her life is so wonderful-- great family, great kids, great job, great vacations, life in sunny California-- that I'm hard pressed to come up with a response.

As always, I'm sharing the first draft with you.

Dear Sue:

Once again, thank you for the card and letter.  The kids have really grown, and I'm tickled to see them doing so well.  It seems you're enjoying the California warmth, and that also makes me happy.

Things are okay back east.  The weekend morning broadcasts are going well, thanks to a loyal audience and some really good staffers.

There were more than enough interesting stories this year to keep me challenged, even though some were exceptionally tragic.  It's the holidays, and the sad details can wait for another time.

I said good bye to some co workers this year.  Bad.

I said hello to some new co workers this year.  Good.

Some video from a story I did showed up on ABC's World News.  I also appeared on sister stations in Huntsville, Harrisburg, and Kansas City.

Like 2012, I shopped for a smart phone and didn't buy one.  That new "sensitive" toothpaste purchase has worked out really well.  I also bought an e-reader, which I enjoy a great deal.  I can't say I'm thrilled with the vitamins that are supposed to clean out your liver.  My new watch keeps great time, and I renewed my Sam's Club membership.

My blog turned nine and gets a few hundred hits every day.

I'm still hitting the gym and riding my bike.

I wrote letters to the president and head of the trustees board at our alma mater, Marywood, on an important issue.  Neither bothered to respond.

Kohl's blessed me with many 30 per cent off coupons.

I watched trains.

I hope 2014 is a great year for you and your family.

Your friend,


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

First Person: Snow Day

OK, enough already.  Early winter has gotten off to a snowy start, and I'm beginning to feel my usual late winter frustration a little early.

It has been said that everything in life is timing, and yesterday was a perfect example.  The clipper storm that hit our area presented some challenges.  It would start during our morning broadcast, and it would race from west to east.  The snow wouldn't be widespread when we hit the air at 4:30 AM, so instead of waiting for the storm to come to us, we went to the storm.

The first order of business when I walked in to the shop at 2:15 AM was deciding where to go.  We knew it would be west, but exactly where was still undecided.  After looking at some maps and remembering visual, but safe locations, we decided on the parking lot of the Columbia Mall at Buckhorn.  It's safely out of the traffic flow, yet it gives you a good view of Interstate 80.
Above is the newest member of the Newswatch 16 team, photojournalist Jason Wolf.  He's been with the station for a few years.  The news department recently stole him from local programming and production.

I have to level with you.  This wasn't the biggest storm, so that left room for a little fun.
During our 6 AM segment, Jason and I gave viewers of our little home away from home, including what you see above-- a bike chained to a light post in the Quaker Steak and Lube parking lot.  It's a really nice bike, and it's unfortunate someone left it locked to a light post on a snow bank.

There was something else that caught my eye-- the grease dumpster.
I know they're a necessity and I also know why they're kept from public view.  Note the icicles on the front.  I'd never seen frozen grease before.

Jason and I got through the morning-- nearly a dozen live shots, plus some video for later.

There is something else that only TV geeks will care about.  We were able to do a mast down, microwave live shot from Hemlock Township in Columbia County.
 Why is that significant?  Snow and ice coated masts don't like to drop.  Less of the mast was exposed to the elements, making break down time a breeze.  As you can see, our truck is also equipped with a satellite dish.  Satellite time costs money.  Microwave is free.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Unfinished Tuesday

As I've noted here before, I've really been disappointed with the path the Food Network's "Restaurant Impossible" has taken in recent months.  The show now resembles Dr. Phil, with Robert Irvine helping broken families more than broken restaurants.  However, last week's holiday edition was nothing short of outstanding.  Irvine and his team rebuilt a pancake house and a volunteer fire station at the Jersey Shore.  I'm sure it will be on again.  Check it out.

I can't say how much I really enjoyed Bob Barker's appearance on "The Price is Right" Thursday morning.  Bob was back to celebrate his 90th birthday.  The man is a class act.  Trivia:  Bob was the third choice to host the show when it hit the air in 1972.  He stayed 35 years.  Not bad.  Drew Carey does a great job.

The head of CNN says he wants more shows and less newscasts.  Yikes!  Outside of the networks at 6:30 PM, is there any place to get a clean, solid, unbiased national newscast?

Time's "Person of the Year" usually sparks a lot of debate.  There doesn't seem to be much disagreement over the choice of Pope Francis.

It was nice seeing the "Murphy Brown" cast on a recent "Katie" episode.  The first few years were as good as any sitcom on TV.

James Spader and Jim Parsons received well deserved Golden Globes nominations.  Unfortunately, the snarky hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will render the awards broadcast unwatchable.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow Day and Peter O'Toole

We knew it was coming, and it didn't help.  A big snow was in the forecast several days ago.  It arrived Saturday morning and continued until yesterday morning.  The forecast became more refined with each passing hour, and finally the moment of truth arrived.  Should I travel or get a hotel room?

I don't live far from the station, but the drive can be a challenge at times.  I have a nice all wheel drive vehicle with good ground clearance.  The way I saw the forecast, I could drive home after work Saturday morning before the storm got wound up, and return Saturday night after it wound down.  I passed on the hotel room.

OK.  I miscalculated a wee bit.  The storm was still going strong Saturday night.  To compensate, I left for work an hour early.  There was another decision-- travel Interstate 81 or go through Dunmore and Scranton.  There's a spot, just before my entrance ramp, when I can look down on the interstate.  I didn't like what I saw Saturday night.  Snow covered.  Crawling traffic.  I take my time in the snow, and I've been terrorized by tailgaters.  Plus, I've been temporarily blinded when big trucks cover my vehicle with slush as they pass.  I opted for the city streets.  It was the right move.  The snow was deep in spots, but it was passable, and I could move at a comfortable rate.  I was one of the few vehicles out there.  I made it to the station in good time, and even had a moment to stop at a fast food restaurant for a spicy chicken sandwich and fries.

What I saw when I got to the station surprised me a bit.  It was a big snow, and it wasn't even the top story.  It wasn't even second.  An amber alert for a kidnapped child and a fire at a jail occupied the top two slots.

I started putting together the Sunday morning broadcast, and it fell together rather nicely-- updates on the aforementioned big stories, plus plenty of weather.

The snow wasn't "tops," but there's a lot of winter left.

Peter O'Toole died yesterday and it made me sad.

O'Toole will best be remembered for "Lawrence of Arabia," but I will remember him for my favorite movie, "My Favorite Year."

It wasn't a huge hit back in 1982, but I just loved it.  I can still remember-- I saw it with some college friends, one evening, at the old Ritz Theater on Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton.  "My Favorite Year" was a film about many things-- coming of age, friendship, love, hero worship, facing your shortcomings, fear, a triumph in a situation you have no business being in.  And, it was just plain funny.

Peter O'Toole played a fading movie star, Alan Swann, and he did it with an unmatched swagger and style.  He was larger than life, and in the end, you learn he was just like the rest of us.

I should also note the wonderful performances of Mark Linn-Baker and Joseph Bologna.  Dennis Palumbo wrote the screenplay.  No relation.

Peter O'Toole turned down an honorary Academy Award several years ago because he felt there was still a chance he could win one in a film role.  He later accepted.  There were many nominations over the years, but he never got the trophy.  Sad.  If anyone deserved one, it was Peter O'Toole.

There will never be another.  Peter O'Toole was 81 years old.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Andy's Angles: Water Hazard

I wonder how many golf balls this pond at Rock Creek in Susquehanna County claimed over the years.

I haven't picked up a club since college, and there are times I regret not staying with it.  It was a warm, and colorless day when I took this photo.  Still, it looked like a good morning to play 18.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Andy's Angles: Fore!

Golf courses often provide a green oasis in the grey late fall.  As you can see here at Rock Creek, near Lenoxville in Susquehanna County, the grass still has color-- and that's about it.  I'm not sure what's in the barn and silo, but it sure does look good with the green foreground and the grey background.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Unconventional Wisdom

Every once in a while, something comes along to shake your faith in conventional wisdom, and it makes me happy because it keeps you on your toes.

Let me take you back to last Friday morning at 4:30.  I was in line at Walmart.  I had just come from the gym and what's left of my hair was still wet from the shower.  I hadn't touched a razor in a few days, and I was likely looking a little tired.

A couple got in line behind me.  The female was heavily tattooed and very pretty.  The male had a facial piercing and spikey hair.  They were returning a car battery.  Both were in their early 20's.

The young man looked at me and said "Hi, Andy."  I replied with "You look familiar."  He responded by saying we had never met.  He recognized me from TV.

Now, the experts tell us this isn't the group that watches TV news, let alone weekend morning TV news.  It could be they watch via internet or cell phone, but I didn't get that impression.

Traditional TV is viewed as a medium for middle aged (and older) adults.  It's nice to see the younger crowd is curious about their world and tunes in from time to time.  They're out there.  Thank you.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Trailer

The Kids for Cash documentary trailer has hit the internet, and there's an embed above.

Based on the trailer, it looks like compelling stuff.  Having covered it for the past five years, it didn't look like there's much new information, other than former Judge Mark Ciavarella continuing to deny reality and engaging in revisionist history.

As I've written about ad infinitum, there are still a ton of unanswered questions, and I'm looking forward to see if they're addressed in the documentary.  What about the county commissioners who signed off on the lease of the new detention center?  What about the district attorney, the first assistant district attorney and all those who assistants, who did absolutely nothing as hundreds of kids were appearing in court and going to detention without the representation they are entitled to under the U.S. Constitution?  How could so many be so stupid, lazy, and/or incompetent for so long?  No one has ever been able to provide a good reason.  Maybe it's because there is no good reason.

The feds came in, did their thing, and went away.  Thank you for prosecuting the case and sending bad men to jail.  Unfortunately, you left with more work to do.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

About the Cover II

Last week, I cautioned I'd change the blog header if something better tickled my fancy.

Well, it happened early Saturday morning.  The WNEP backyard had a coating of fresh snow, and the tree was just asking to be photographed.

It might be a little askew, but show me a perfect Christmas tree.  They don't exist, and it's that uniqueness that makes Christmas special.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

First Person: The Ice Station

It had to happen sooner or later-- my first Road Dog day of the 13-14 winter.  I saw the forecast days ago, and Noreen raised the possibility over the weekend.  Knowing it was coming didn't make it less pleasant.

I'm not a huge road report fan.  Most of it is common sense, but we are in the picture and information business, so we do the show and tell.  It's good to see what's going on out there.  It's what we do.

Let me back up a bit.  This whole thing started with a phone call from the boss right after I got off the set Sunday morning.  The station is great about getting hotel rooms for us when the weather is nasty.  I declined.  I don't live that far away, and my dog would miss me.

The ride to work wasn't all that bad.  My town's road crew does a good job, and most of my trip is via interstate.  It was salted and good to go.  I did leave home a little early to be on the safe side.

When I got to the office, we kicked around live shot locations.  We wanted something in the higher elevations and Mountaintop did the trick.  A little secret-- we wanted a place where we could establish a microwave signal without extending the truck's mast all the way.  Ice coated masts don't like to come down.

We found a nice spot in a Rite Aid parking lot.  It was safely close to Route 309, without being ON 309.  Food, drink, and a bathroom were close by.  Those are essentials because we had a live hit every 15 minutes, and we knew we'd be tethered to the truck for hours.

Our last hit was 7:56 AM.  It was then out to gather fresh video and interviews for our noon broadcast.  I'm a big White Haven fan.  It's a pretty town, filled with friendly people, and it has a nice little commercial district.  Ice coated everything.  The story was there right in front of us.  We got what we needed and hustled back to the office.

It was a beautiful, but dangerous morning.  I'm glad we made it through unscathed, and I hope we gave you some good information in the process.

Road Dog Day 1 was in the books, and I'm sure there will be many more to come.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Tree

It is the one day filled with holiday tradition for me, and it takes place weeks before Christmas.

Marywood University lit the Christmas tree inside its rotunda Wednesday afternoon.  As always, I give Marywood tons of credit for waiting until AFTER Thanksgiving to get the season going.

They started doing a tree inside the rotunda when I was a senior, many, many, many years ago, and I didn't go that first year.  However, I've been returning for the past several years for a quick shot of the Christmas spirit.  In spite of the heat and the crowd, it's a nice afternoon-- a little music, a little song, and a big tree in the middle of the room.  It's also a chance to reconnect with old friends and wander about the campus that was my second home for four years.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Andy's Angles: Courthouse Square

Another ill fated attempt to be artsy, and a mid fall shot from Courthouse Square in Scranton...

That's the Mitchell statue on the left, with the courthouse behind it.  The Scranton Electric Building is in the center, and the spire you see on the right is City Hall.

I love a sunny morning.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Andy's Angles: Scranton Life

This is a new photo of a place I've shown you, here, before.

It's the Scranton Life building at Spruce and Adams.  If I have a favorite downtown Scranton building, this is it.  Retail on the first floor.  Offices above.

It's bright.  White.  Clean.  And it looks great on a sunny morning.

Friday, December 6, 2013

First Person: Strike

We knew it was coming.  The union provided plenty of notice.  Unionized nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital said they were walking off the job Tuesday morning and it was my job to be there when it happened.

The first step was to prepare a couple short pieces for Newswatch 16 This Morning, giving viewers a brief idea of the issues that brought us to this point.  Done.  Photographer Dave and I jumped in to one of our mobile newsrooms extra early for the trip to the hospital.

If you're familiar with the area around the hospital, parking is at a premium-- especially if you're in a big van, with a mast that rises in the air.  You not only have to find room on the street.  You have to avoid wires above.  One of the hospital's parking lots was a simple solution, but the hospital didn't want us on their property.

The morning broadcast went smoothly.  Then, the appointed hour arrived.  7 AM.  The start of the walk out.
Yes, I know the shot isn't the greatest.  I used the spare camera I keep in my bag, and it's not good  in low light.

The union really had its act together.  The walk out was visual, with plenty of signs.  It was also filled with the sound of striking nurses chanting.  The union's public relations person made sure nurses were available.  It provided human faces to go along with the facts surround the strike.

The hospital's owner went a different route.  No one was available to go on camera.  We were issued a polite warning about photographing and interviewing on hospital property.  The hired security guards knew the sidewalk is public property, and we weren't bothered as long as we stayed on the concrete.  Security didn't complain when we cut across the parking lot to take a short cut back to our truck. Management provided several news releases, so we had the hospital's point of view, and both sides were presented.  Still, I have to say the first round in the public relations war went to the union.  I have a feeling the PR aspect of this really doesn't concern management all that much.  Two big companies essentially control health care around here, and when you have a guaranteed customer base, public relations is not among your primary concerns.

I produced a balanced report for our noon newscast.  Bill Wadell introduced it from the noon union rally, and he continued coverage fore the rest of the day.

I noticed the buses used to transport the replacement nurses lined up in front of the Hilton on Adams Avenue in Scranton.  I'm sure the replacements are spending some of their off hours wandering about the Electric City, so in a strange way, it's a boost to the economy.

As with every labor dispute, it's sad it had to come to this, and I'm not taking sides.  It's time for reason, common sense, and just plain decency to jump front and center.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Are You Kidding Me?

I've been a broadcaster since 1979, and for the most part, I'm proud of my profession.  As someone once said, we comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  We inform.  We can make lives better.

It's a given in the business.  We keep an eye on the competition.  In recent years, that included watching new media try to eat a slice of our pie.  However, there are times when we are our own worst enemies.

Submitted for your disapproval, KXMB in North Dakota.  It allowed talentless goof Will Ferrell to anchor a real newscast as character Ron Burgundy this past weekend.

I heard his co anchor, KXMB's Amber Schatz on the radio the other morning.  She said they didn't want Ferrell/Burgundy to go to far because they'd "lose their credibility."  Really!?  I have a newsflash for young Amber.  You lost all credibility the second you put that witless oaf on the set.

The stunt gave KXMB tons of free publicity.  Clips of the Burgundy newscast were on stations across the country and the internet.  Was it worth it?  Was it worth damaging your image for the attention you got from a silly stunt?

Sadly, there are a lot of people in the business who will say "yes."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

About the Cover

I'm not sure this one will remain for the entire month, but it's a start.

December presents the biggest blog header challenge.  I aim for something with a holiday theme.  A lot of the big holiday displays don't get rolling until later in the month, as it should be.  The older I get, the more I dislike displays more than a couple weeks before the holiday.

This is the front entrance to the Scranton School District Administration Building on North Washington Avenue.  I snapped the photo, well before dawn, on my way to work on a recent morning.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Heard, But Not Seen

My friend and co-worker Tom Williams has taken off the last few Mondays after Thanksgiving.  I got to anchor and avoid doing the "opening day of rifle deer season" story.

Tom changed his schedule this year, so there I was, on the road, with a photographer, in search of hunters and their prey.  It was a cold and rainy Monday morning.  A long drive through Lackawanna and Wayne counties showed a lot of cars and trucks parked along roads, but few hunters dragging out their trophies.

It was time for plan B-- go to a processing shop and have the hunters come to us.  It worked.  We met a very nice and polite teen from Scranton and his father.  The younger got a deer on his very first day of trying.  It was a good story, and we made our noon deadline with plenty of time to spare.

I know you were waiting for this part.  I know there's ample reason to thin the herd.  Deer cause crop and property damage.  They're all over the highways.  Having said that, I don't like looking at dead animals-- no matter how good the reason, and yes, I do eat beef.

Hunting is a tradition thousands of years old.  It seems to work well.  Still, way deep down, I have a feeling there might be a better way to control the deer population.  Do I know what it is?  Absolutely not.

I thought it was just me, but the number of hunters seemed down this year.  I spoke with others.  They agree.  The old timers say fewer young people are taking up the activity.  That's easy to see.

A state representative has drafted a bill, asking the state game commission to move the opening day of deer season to a Saturday, just like bear season.  The bear move appears to be a success.  The state rep reasons that people can't skip weekday work because they can't afford to.  The economy is weak.  I don't see a problem with a move to Saturday, but you know Pennsylvania is slow to change.  Let's at least give it a try for a few years, and see how it goes.  Kids can actually go to school on Monday after Thanksgiving and get an education.

Happy hunting, and stay safe.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Unfinished Monday

The beating death of a 97 year old woman in Nanticoke is a horrible act.  What threat did she pose to the burglar?  Did she recognize him and the burglar felt the need to silence her?  We may eventually know what happened.  We will never understand why.

It's widely believed that Black Friday will eventually creep further into Thanksgiving.  Most stores opened at 7 or 8 Thursday night.  I expect 4 or 5 pm starts next year.  Face it.  Holidays as we know them are over.

Authorities say a six year old boy, playing with a lighter, started a fire that displaced dozens.  I know you can't watch a kid every second of every day, but you can make it difficult for them to get themselves, and others, in harm's way.

I've already grown weary of the Christmas hype.  The endless commercialism breeds cynicism. 

It's nice to see the puppies abandoned in Luzerne County back in October getting good homes.

You have to wonder how the financial markets keep rising.

Meteorological winter has arrived.  I know it's only three months.  It seems longer.

Hazleton has joined the growing list of municipalities in serious financial trouble.  I fear it will be a very long list when all is said and done.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Andy's Angles: Live Here

Downtowns are different these days.  They're no longer the major retail center they were when we were growing up.  A lot of people choose to live downtown, and that's a nice concept.

The building at the middle of the picture is the Connel Building on North Washington Avenue.  At one time, it was filled with stores and offices.  I remember walking into a lawyer's office there, one of the few remaining back in the day.  It was a trip back in time.

After millions and millions of dollars worth of renovations, businesses and offices are back on the lower floors.  Apartments above.

It's apparently a vibrant place.  I've spent many a morning on courthouse square.  People and their dogs are always coming and going early in the day, walking around the square, grabbing a coffee (the people, not the dogs).

I miss the big downtown retail days, but they're not coming back.  Living downtown appears to be the answer to a city's survival.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Andy's Angles: A Federal Case

Generally, I'm not a fan of modern structures being tacked on to historic, old buildings.  There are exceptions to every rule. 

Scranton's federal courthouse on North Washington Avenue is one case where it was done right.  The new portion is on the left.  The old section is to a right.  An industrial looking atrium connects the two, and it's fun to gaze upward at the steel and stone.

At the time the addition was considered, there were two options.  One was going out the back, and tearing down some very old and non historic buildings.  The other was the one the feds chose-- tear down a filled apartment building with office space on the first floor.  As is the feds' habit, they chose to take down the more productive of the two buildings.

At least, they designed it well.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Scrapple

I'll spare you the usual anti Black Friday rant.  If you feel the desire to shop today, go nuts.

Always remember, if you hear a reporter say, or read "Today is the biggest shopping day of the year," the reporter is lazy and uninformed.  The biggest shopping day is actually the last Saturday before Christmas.

I swear this is true:  I was in a mini mart Monday morning.  Two employees were wondering what day Thanksgiving falls on this year.  I kid you not.  Thanks to Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving is on the last Thursday of November.  Maybe the mini mart workers skipped school and missed that lesson in history class.

I went to the gym very early Thanksgiving morning.  The temperature had dropped.  Roads were icy.  It was in the midst of a snow shower-- and I was more worried about encountering a drunk driver.

I love going to a supermarket on Black Friday.  First, it's empty.  Second, I enjoy watching employees try to make some dense out of the post holiday disarray.

I'm really tired of the discussions centering on the mediocre Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys always getting Thanksgiving games.  It's tradition.  Deal with it.  I'd rather see the NFL spread around Thanksgiving games, but the Dallas/Detroit thing is really nothing to get upset over.

Alec Baldwin has lost his MSNBC show.  Who didn't see that coming?

"The Blacklist" really has to tone down the violence.  Blood was splattered everywhere Monday night, and there's apparently a lot more to come.  The show is clever.  It doesn't need the gore.

It's too bad that comet didn't totally survive its trip around the sun.  As I write this, there is conflicting evidence.

Mike Huckabee's radio show goes away in mid December.  It was on 200 stations.  I'm assuming they were not market leaders.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


There are some years it's harder than others. 

But, if you look hard, we all have something for which to be thankful.  It can be tiny, but it's there.

I am far luckier than I deserve to be,

Thank you for stopping by every day, and I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Thanksgiving

When you take a job in broadcasting, it's with the understanding that you'll be working odd hours, nights, weekends, overnights, and yes, even holidays.

I'm surprised how many newbies don't grasp that concept.  What are they being taught in college?  However, that's another story for another time.

I'm wondering if the same covenant applies to retail.  If you sign on to work at the typical mall store, you pretty much assume you'll be working somewhere between 10 AM and 9 PM.  Do they now tell you you're going to drag your butt away from Thanksgiving dinner to head to the store?

Yes, I know not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving.  Yes, I know that in a down economy, saving money is more important than ever.  Yes, I know a lot of companies/stores depend on a strong Christmas season to remain viable.

Still, the thought of shopping on Thanksgiving really doesn't work for me.

To each, his own.

Just remember to be kind to the person on the other end of the cash register tomorrow night.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Movie Star

I've done it again-- my second role in a major motion picture.

The first was a few years ago.  My voice was in Michael Moore's "Capitalism:  A Love Story."  It wasn't much, just a quick clip from one of our weekend morning broadcasts.  It dealt with another court appearance by crooked Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan.

To refresh your memories, Ciavarella and Conahan were key figures in the "Kids for Cash" scandal.  While the pair of thieves was never directly accused, nor pleaded guilty, nor convicted of DIRECTLY taking money for jailing juveniles, I remind of you of Judge Edwin Kosik's ruling when he threw out Ciavarella's plea agreement.  Kosik ruled Ciavarella, wrongly,  never took responsibility for the quid pro quo.  Ciavarella called his payments a "finder's fee, even though Kosik reasoned the government's evidence strongly showed otherwise.

And that brings us to my latest role-- a short appearance in the new "Kids for Ca$h" documentary.  It premiered in New York November 10th.  While I didn't see it, I'm told there is a scene with me doing a live report in front of the Federal Courthouse in Scranton, and chasing Ciavarella when he was given permission by the feds to sneak in the back door.

I remember the day vividly.  There was a well equipped video crew wandering around the area in front of the courthouse.  I inquired where they were from.  One guy mumbled an answer I couldn't hear because he apparently didn't want me to hear it.  He later asked if he could tape me doing my job.  I replied it's a free sidewalk.  Have at it.

And, that's how I wound up in the documentary.

Seeing it is not a burning desire, though I'm sure I'll take a look when it's shown up this way early next year.  I do wonder about the content.  It seems, rightly, to be focused on the thieves in black robes.  I wonder how much time is devoted to the incompetents who let it happen-- the enablers, who allowed the crime of the century to take place under their noses.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Unfinished Monday

"Enjoyed" isn't the right word, but I was thoroughly fascinated by all of last week's JFK coverage.

The Dan Rather saga has been documented earlier-- sloppy reporting at CBS, an insincere apology, a parting of the ways, Rather sued CBS, a judge tossed it out.  Still, it was sad CBS didn't use him on its Kennedy coverage.  It was even more sad to see Rather on NBC.

Another Scranton council meeting, another call for solutions, another week of blaming the usual suspects, and another week of not one good or new idea.

I can't say I'm an Alex Rodriguez fan, but I do like how he's defending himself.

Wilkes-Barre's mayor is the latest to join the "blame the media" club.

I had a talk with a friend in retail the other day.  Thanksgiving and Black Friday are still a few days away, and I can already see the pain in her eyes.

I'm sure you've seen and read the latest "nuclear" developments in Washington...  as if we need more reasons to shake our heads in disgust over our dysfunctional government.  This crosses party lines.  There's more than enough blame to go around.

The weapons deal with Iran might not make President Obama as many friends as he'd hoped.  Obama joins the group of presidents who started with great promise and popularity, only to see the wheels come off.

Sears and KMart are still losing money.  It's not hard to see why.

It's one area where Joe Snedeker and I are in complete agreement:  long term winter forecasts are useless.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have five wins.  Back in September, I would have been happy with a 4-12 season.  The mediocrity of a .500 season is within their grasp.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Andy's Angles: Animals

It's a couple more from last month's visit to Merli Sarnoski Park near Carbondale before we move on to other things.  This is where Lackawanna County Sheriff's Department keeps its horses, and these guys were taking it easy on a fall morning.

They weren't alone.  A goat was in a near by pen.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Andy's Angles: Boats

November can be a color-less month, so this weekend, it's a reminder of the recent past-- when the trees were filled with color.

Above is another from the Merli Sarnoski Park collection, and even though it was taken in mid-fall, it reminds me of winter.  The boats are out of the water, and this is likely where they'll stay for the next several months.

The boat launch won't see much activity until spring.

Friday, November 22, 2013


I was 23 months old when President Kennedy was assassinated, so I can't offer anything to the "Where you when..." discussion.  I'm guessing I was napping in my crib.

I will say that I continue to be fascinated by the events of that day, and the way television covered it.  There is a ton of material on You Tube, and if you have a moment or two, take a look.  Cronkite is regarded as the star of the day, but watch David Brinkley's 1 AM commentary.  There was none better.

I tend to follow the Bob Schieffer handbook.  The long time CBS correspondent was a newspaper reporter in Fort Worth that day.  He says no one has ever been able to prove to him that there was more than one man involved in Kennedy's murder.  CBS and other organizations have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars conducting their own investigations.  They all came to the same conclusion.  The conspiracy theories, however, will not die.

Former CBS correspondent Dan Rather pointed out that uncovering a conspiracy would have been the story of the century. Many reporters and organizations tried. Tried hard. None succeeded. It's likely there was no conspiracy.

I tend to side with the "lone assassin" theory.  I'm not totally sold on it.  If you look at the time, speed, accuracy and skill it took to fire those shots, I'm not sure Lee Harvey Oswald was the guy.  Arlen Specter's "Magic Bullet" theory, the one that has a single bullet bouncing all over Dallas County, also adds doubt to the official version of the events of 11.22.63.  On top of that, there was a lot of cloak and dagger stuff at the time, involving Cuba and the Soviet Union.

For every flaw in the investigation, there is something that backs it up. The flaws can be explained away.

Even if there was a lone gunman, I doubt we'll ever know everything about the Kennedy assassination, and that's a tragedy in and of itself.  It's been fifty years.  Open the books.

You wonder what would have happened if Kennedy had lived.  Would Vietnam have been better-- or worse?  He did exercise questionable judgement at times.  Case in point:  the Bay of Pigs.  There were questions surrounding his personal life.  JFK was no saint.  He was a proponent of the space program.  Kennedy had the ability to inspire, which is a trait few elected leaders have.

ABC News, during a Sunday morning discussion, pointed out that there was no mention of civil rights in Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address. I couldn't believe it. I read it for myself. It's true. It seems like Kennedy really saw the threat of a third world war. He might not have seen the discontent in his own nation.

For me, the most haunting video of the day is not the Zapruder film of the actual shooting.  It was the film made as John and Jackie got off Air Force One at Love Field.  The looked so happy, and it was all about to come to an end.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Past Tense

I had camera in hand while wandering around Scranton Sunday afternoon, and I stumbled across this scene-- railroad tracks with the old Erie Lackawanna passenger station, now a hotel, in the distance.  You can also see the General Dynamics plant back there, formerly a locomotive shop.  You have to marvel at the hundreds of thousands of people who witnessed this view over the decades.

Scranton was a prosperous, thriving city at one time.  Industrial.  Jobs.  You wonder what it would take to return to those days.  The answer is simple:  a miracle.

Our industrial past is gone for good.  We are a service economy.  Scranton has to embrace what it can do-- jobs in health care, education.  Taxes not withstanding, a reasonable cost of living and it's relatively safe to live here.

As noted earlier, there is no magic wand.  Scranton is in deep trouble.  Deep, deep trouble.  On the other hand, as Ronald Reagan used to say, there's such a huge pile of manure, there has to be a pony in there somewhere.