Sunday, June 30, 2013

APAL's PhotoLink Sunday

A few more pictures of Friday morning's high water in Lackawanna County...  My version of PhotoLink Library.
A few Lackawanna River bridges are equipped with flood gates designed to keep the river within its banks.

This was the view around 7:30 AM Friday as workers in Olyphant prepared to wheel the flood gate off the road and re-open Lackawanna Avenue to traffic.  For perspective, downtown Olyphant is dead ahead with Blakely at my back.  The gate is on the Olyphant side.  If you live in Blakely or Dickson City, you're out of luck.  I would assume only the east side has a flood gate because the east side of the Lackawanna, the Olyphant side, is lower than the west side.
Moving upstream, this is the Lackawanna from the Blakely Borough Recreational Area.  The footbridge in the middle connects Blakely on the right with Olyphant on the left.

I ventured out on to the bridge for a downstream shot.  The current gave the bridge a nice wobble.  Needless to say, I didn't spend much time there.
The Lackawanna expanded to its shores.  A riverside path in Blakely was underwater, and there was no demand for a seat on the bench Friday morning.  Pay close attention to the trees.

I showed you the trees back in March.  They survived many a flood.  The river eroded the soil around the roots.  In spite of it all, the trees still stand tall today.
And finally, all that rain put the roar back into Roaring Brook.  This photo was taken around 8:30 AM Friday from the Kanjorski Bridge, over the brook, at Scranton's Nay Aug Park.

I hope you made it through the storm OK.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

APAL'S PhotoLink Saturday

Lackawanna County was hit by heavy rain and flash flooding Thursday night and Friday morning.

After things had calmed down, and after I was sure my sightseeing wouldn't get in anyone's way, I set out with my camera in search of adventure.

With apologies to Newswatch 16's Mike Stevens, I present my own version of PhotoLink Library, with all the photos coming from my own camera.

Let me back up a bit.  I got up about midnight Friday morning and as I always do, the police radio and computer were fired up.  Twitter was exploding.  The police radio channels were filled with activity.  The Lackawanna River was coming up fast.  Flood gates were closing.  Basements were flooding.  Homes were evacuated.

I decided to leave for the gym a little early, around 2:15 AM.  I live on the east side of the Lackawanna.  The gym is on the west.  The Olyphant bridge was closed, so I had to get on Interstate 81, head north to the Main Avenue exit, and take the road through Dickson City, to the gym.  Considering what some people were experiencing, it was nothing to complain about.

As I passed Rite Aid and "the anchor" in Blakely, I looked off to my right.  The Lackawanna River is usually low and out of the line of sight.  On this morning, I could see the street lights reflecting off the top of the water.  That's when I knew it was really, really bad.

Now, the photos.  Everything you will see today and tomorrow was shot roughly between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM Friday.

Above is the view of the Lackwanna River from the bottom of Sanderson Street in Throop.  The river is usually trickling between the trees.  Not on this day-- high and fast, but as you can see, well below the bank on the Dickson City side.
This photo was taken from Bellman Street in Throop, looking upstream.  The photo doesn't do justice to the water's brown color.
This photo puts it into perspective.  This is the Boulevard Avenue bridge.  Throop is on the left.  Dickson City is on the right.  As you can see from the water mark under the bridge, the water is down a few feet from its crest.
Different bridge and perspective-- This is the bridge that spans the Lackawanna between Olyphant and Blakely.  I'm on the Blakely side.  As you can see from the gauge on the bridge support, the river is at seven feet, down a couple from the crest.  The grey flood gate is closed.
And while I was standing on the bridge, why not take a picture?  This is the view upstream, with Olyphant on the right and Blakely on the left.

More flood photos tomorrow.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Mole

I promised a book review of "An Atheist in the Foxhole," and here it is...

To get you quickly up to speed, it was written by FOX News Channel associate producer Joe Muto.  The book was written after Muto leaked insider secrets and videos to

Apparently, Muto left electronic fingerprints.  His bosses figured out he was "the mole" and he was bounced.  It was a dumb thing to do on many levels.  First, with the advances in information technology, it's easy to leave a trail.  Second, it was career suicide.  Why would you want to sabotage the company that provides your pay check?  Muto admits to being unhappy at FNC.  There were other ways to get through it.

Even though Muto has problems with FNC's conservative agenda, I thought the book was "fair and balanced."  Muto spent the majority of his FOX years working for Bill O'Reilly.  His portrayal of the most popular man in cable news is even handed.  Muto points out the bullying, the yelling, the love of free food buffets...  But, he also spends time talking about O'Reilly's talents and his charity work.  I was surprised to learn that even though Bill O'Reilly only spends about four hours a day at the office, he writes or dictates just about every word of every broadcast.

Another eye opener was time spent on FNC's conservative agenda.  Muto says there was never an open discussion of how they were going to slant the day's news to the right, but writers and producers  knew that was part of their mission.  Every word, every sound bite, every story idea went through that filter.

TV types will love " "An Atheist in the Foxhole."  There is enough here about the internal workings of a cable news network to keep you flying through the pages.  TV outsiders will enjoy how a broadcast day is put together, and it's written so even people outside the industry will understand it.

While I don't care for what Joe Muto did while working at FOX, he did put together a thoroughly enjoyable book.

This whole "mole" thing strikes a nerve with me.  Once upon a time, there was a local web site with tons of insider local TV information.  Much of it wasn't flattering.  It was clear someone was leaking secrets.  I understand, because I have the blog and am net savvy, I was on the list of suspects.  Guess what?  It wasn't me.  The author accidentally outed himself, and the web site went away.

I should also note  "An Atheist in the Foxhole" was my first e-reader book.  If you're considering buying one, I strongly recommend it.  I should have done it a long time ago.  We live in wonderful times.   Think about it.  You have the ability to have just about any book in the world, delivered in to your hand, in a matter of seconds.  As Jimmy Buffet says "Ain't life grand?"

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lightning Strikes

I saw it as I returned from a trip to the dentist Monday afternoon.  A lightning strike blew apart a section of the steeple atop the old St. John's Church on Sanderson Street in Throop.  A fire truck was still there.  I missed the storm by about a half hour.

Even though the church has been closed and vacant for several years, it was still owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton.  The experts say the steeple has to come down.  It's sad.  That part of my home town will now have a completely different character.

The church wasn't at the highest point in the little town, but it was close.  The dominant feature of the neighborhood is disappearing.

Talk surfaces from time to time that the church will be demolished.  I understand the borough was interested in the land-- for a parking lot.

Sorry to see it go.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Do No Harm

I respect doctors.

I don't respect the business.

Let me tell you about the last few years.

I had a doctor I liked a lot.  Unfortunately, he had some medical problems and closed his practice a few years ago.  The medical group gave me two days notice. I wrote a letter, noting the short notice.  There was no response.

I found a guy I liked in the next town over, and I've been with him for the past few years.  A letter arrived the other day.  He was affiliating with a big, big, big hospital group-- one that doesn't take my insurance.  Luckily, I received three weeks notice there.

After consulting my insurance company's web site, and talking with a gym friend, I settled on a woman near by.  I called to see if she was accepting new patients.  Yes, new patients.  No, no additional ones with my insurance.  A complaint was filed with my insurance company.

Okay, next on the list.  I found a doctor that was accepting new patients, and one who took my insurance.  His secretary told me they would send me an application, and I was to send it back.  I would receive the okay, pending the application.  Hello!?!  I had to fill out an application to give you my business?  Sorry.  I'm doing you the favor by giving you my money.  It's not the other way around.  I passed.

I succeeded in finding a doctor, new to a practice, who was accepting new patients, and with my insurance.  I have an appointment in a couple weeks.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Food for Thought

Paula Deen said some horrible things that cannot be defended.

Having written that, how long should we punish people for saying stupid things in the past?

Plus, there is the matter of intent and context.

Deen lost her Food Network job.  She'll likely lose millions of dollars worth of endorsements.

It appears there's more to the story.  If you believe the allegations in a court case, she condoned some mean and sloppy behavior at one of her restaurants.

We are a country of second chances.  Ask Don Imus, Anthony Weiner, Mark Sanford, Charlie Sheen, Kristen Stewart, Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Tiger Woods, and Ray Lewis.  There are a thousand others.  I'm sure we haven't seen or heard the last of Paula Deen.

I never liked Paula Deen because she appeared to be a big phony.

I can't help wondering if the punishment fit the crime.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unfinished Monday

James Gandolfini died Wednesday night.  He was only 51.  Heart attack.  It's a shame he didn't live long enough to enjoy all the money from the HBO series "The Sopranos."

I'm in the minority here.  "The Sopranos" was regarded as one of the best acted and written series in history.  I watched several episodes and thought it was just one big anti Italian cliché.

That doesn't diminish the talents of James Gandolfini.

By the way, they made all of 86 episodes of "The Sopranos."  86!  Note to Hollywood:  It's best to leave too early than too late.

I'm nibbling my way through my first e-book.  I chose "An Atheist in the Fox Hole."  It's an insider's view of the FOX News Channel.

The e-reader experience is actually rather pleasant.  The book loaded in seconds and it was a lot less expensive than the print version.  Reading on a screen really isn't that different from paper and ink.

As for the book itself, I'm really enjoying it.  Look for a full review upon completion.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bad Photography Sunday: The Dam

If I'm channel surfing, and I come across a Science Channel, History Cahnnel, or Discovery Channel show about dams, I invariable stop and linger for a while.  They are amazing structures, and thinking about the force one of these holds back is awe inspiring.

This is the dam that made Lake Wallenpaupack happen.  Do yourself a favor.  Do a Google search and read about the lake's beginning, and how the whole thing came about.  There's a lot of history under water in Wayne and Pike counties.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bad Photography Saturday: The Lake

I'm not one for being on or in the water, but I do enjoy looking at it.  This is a shot of Lake Wallenpaupack last month.  It was a cool and breezy day, but the water wasn't that choppy.  I've seen photos and video of a rough looking lake, but on this day, it seemed quite manageable.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Scrapple

The AHL and NBA seasons ended this week.  The NHL season isn't over yet.  The playoffs are stretched out, and the seasons in general are far too long.

CNN revamped its morning news, again, this week.  Don't go out of your way for it.  It's more fluff, and Chris Cuomo continues his streak of looking horribly uncomfortable and out of place wherever he goes.

Why is Interstate 81 still in such horrible shape, and why do we continue to tolerate it?

I read where Ford is listening to customer complaints.  It's putting buttons and knobs on its radios, rather than touch screens.  Yay!  I test drove a vehicle from another manufacturer last year.  I needed a PhD to work the radio.

Don Rickles was on Letterman Tuesday night.  At 87 years old, the guy is still sharp.  We should all be so lucky.

Is something new pollenating?  I've been reaching for the Benadryl this week.

When did America become so allergic to gluten and peanuts?

Happy first day of summer!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Job Fair

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs' new hotel opens this fall, and the company held a "career fair" Tuesday to look for workers.

"60 Minutes" was built on the premise of "tell me a story" and I try to do that whenever possible.

I met two interesting people at Tuesday's "career fair."  They were people who really need a job.  I tried to tell their stories.

One was the young lady who had to drop out of college because she lost her job.  The other was a single mother of two teenagers.  She works part time at a big box discount retailer, and the company recently reduced her hours.

Both stories broke my heart.  I hope they both find what they want.

There are few things worse than being unemployed.  Yes, I know what it's like.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Library

That's the new North Pocono Public Library you see above, and I was there when the doors opened for the first time Monday morning.

The building and its contents cost $ 3 million.  In this age of technology and the internet, you might think it's a waste of money.  Thanks to relatively inexpensive computers, we all have massive libraries in our own homes.

Part of me thought the money could have been better spent elsewhere, but you had to look at the faces of the kids and the moms who were there for the opening.  I would have killed for something like this close to me when I was growing up.  I was lucky.  My parents made enough to buy books for me, and I read a lot.

When I got older and more mobile, there were frequent trips to Penn State's library in Dunmore because my high school's library was embarrassingly and criminally horrible.

While I have joined the e-reader revolution, there's still nothing like a good book in your hands.  Judging by the early visitors to Moscow, the people appreciate what they have.  I was amazed to learn 75,000 people visited the old, cramped library last year, and this new library should do much better.

Keep reading.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Not Here

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Were you watching MSNBC over the weekend?  Iran had a presidential election.  The government allowed cameras in to polling places.

Pennsylvania doesn't do that.  The state handed down an edict a couple years ago-- no cameras allowed to watch democracy in action, elections you paid for, a freedom men and women died for.

What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, June 17, 2013


Today is my 15th anniversary at WNEP.

I've been lucky to work with and for some top flight people over the past decade and a half.

Every day is a challenge in some way, and I like it.  It's never dull.

I still enjoy getting up in the morning, no matter how early, powering up the computer and seeing what's new in the world.

Thank you for being part of it.  I've been extremely fortunate.

Below, me, in my natural habitat, taken by friend and co-worker Stacey Toy.

Onward and upward.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bad Photography Sunday: Wayne County Courthouse

There are certain towns in our area that remind me of Mayberry, and in the best possible way.  One of them is Honesdale.  It has that small town feel, and you can find everything you want without leaving the borough.

The Wayne County Courthouse remains one of my favorite places.  As you can see, it's a pretty building.  What you can't see is the modern annex, which they had the good sense to hide in the back.  It doesn't detract from the looks of a great, historic building.

On top of that, the first story I covered as a radio street reporter was here in 1982-- a homicide trial.  Small world.  The district attorney back then was Ray Hamill.  You know his son, Jim-- a WNEP reporter and anchor.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bad Photography Saturday: Honesdale Trains

I've photographed these rail cars in Honesdale before, but this was the first time with my newer camera.  They're just off Main Street and unless you know they're there, you might not find them.

Passenger cars always get me thinking about who rode them, and when, and why.  If those seats could talk...  Looking at those cars also makes me sad because we no longer have passenger rail service in this area.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Scrapple

Davy Jones has been gone for more than a year, and I still become sad when I hear "Daydream Believer" on the radio.  By the way, it's one of radio's great "sing along" songs.

I haven't clicked on my air conditioner in a week, and I'm not complaining.

I had my mind set on a bike ride yesterday morning.  I started at 2:30 a.m. to beat the rain.  Mission accomplished.  I finished just as the drizzle started.

I don't understand how Tim Tebow continues to find work.

You won't find me at the new Superman movie this weekend.  The only summertime movie that looks mildly interesting is "We're the Millers."

I'm not a hockey fan, but I was glued to the TV during Wednesday night's triple overtime game between Chicago and Boston.

I'm really, really tired of the overuse of the word "iconic."

Please don't forget that today is Flag Day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I don't remember what elementary school or junior high school teacher it was, but I do remember one of them saying that if you got caught cheating on a test, the answer giver would be punished more severely than than the taker.  The reasoning was that if someone was giving you the answers, you'd be crazy not to take them.

No.  I never got caught, on either end.  But then again, I did very little cheating.

That brings us to today.  New York Representative Peter King wants reporters prosecuted for publishing or broadcasting classified information.

Mr. King should do a little reading, and I strongly suggest the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

I've read of many cases where reporters declined to go with classified information due to national security concerns.  They didn't want to say or do anything that would place U.S. troops and citizens in jeopardy.

As I've noted here before, a free press is vital for a functioning democracy.  Representative King apparently has problems with that.

Perhaps Representative King should focus his efforts on having the government doing a better job of keeping secrets, or having fewer secrets in general.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Ear Hears

The federal government's spying program seems to be THE big story in the news lately...

I can't say I like it, but the U.S. government has been spying on its own citizens for years.  FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover is said to have accumulated massive files on the famous and not so famous over the years.

The same thing is still happening, but it's done electronically now.  Cell phone calls, land lines, e-mails...  it's all subject to somne looking in or listening in.

I just hope the right people are doing it for the right reasons, and they're targeting the right people.  Something tells me that, with the government's stellar track record, things aren't going the way they were intended.  Abuse?  Likely.  I really don't like it when laws are broken in the name of national security.

At times like this, I am reminded of what Benjamin Franklin said:  "Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Days Gone By

The week is starting with a lot of nostalgia, and it's totally unintentional.

I read something in yesterday's Scranton Times~Tribune that made me a little sad.  Attendance at this year's Olyphant Queen City Days was down.

In the town where I grew up, we had three volunteer fire companies, plus a few churches, and an organization that ran the town's youth sports program.  They all had picnics every summer.  It was one of the really nice things about small town life.  They were all within walking distance, and they were all great fun.

One of the things I had to give up when I started working weekends and overnights was fireman's carnivals and church picnics.  I miss them.   On occasion, I will stumble across one that starts on a Thursday.  I'll drop in, have a hot dog and a soda, and do a little people watching.

There is a lot of competition for your entertainment dollar-- movies, restaurants, races, casinos, baseball games, etc., but there's nothing like getting out and experiencing a little small town charm.

Queen City Days benefits one of Olyphant's volunteer fire companies, and it will have to look for an additional source of revenue.  Do yourself a favor.  If there's a picnic or carnival close to you, stop by.  Meet your neighbors.  Help a charity.  Have a good time.  Celebrate summer.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Everything Old...

I was killing a little time yesterday afternoon by engaging in one of my favorite pastimes-- looking at old game shows and news broadcasts on YouTube.

It started me thinking how much today's young people have missed, and how the world has changed.

Saturday night, two people were shot after a fight in Hazleton.  Two more were shot Sunday morning in Wilkes-Barre, but police won't tell us what started that incident.

Back in the day, the worst thing that could happen after a fight was a bloody nose or a busted lip.  Now, you get an all expenses paid flight to the nearest trauma center to have lead removed from your body.

Young people have it good.  They literally have the world in their pockets with smart phones and tablets.  On the other hand, that world is a much more dangerous place.

For the longest time, I couldn't figure out the older generation's fascination with Andy Griffith.  Then, I realized it was simply a reminder of a gentler time.  They had Gomer and Goober.  I had Allen Ludden and Gene Rayburn.

I wonder what today's generation will see as their "good old days."

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bad Photography Sunday: White Haven

Today wraps up the White Haven series...

This is a shot of the borough, with the Route 940 bridge over the Lehigh River in the center.  It's taken from East Side.

Admittedly, there's not a lot of charm from a distance.  This is a place that needs and deserves an up close visit.

You really have to love a place that has a caboose sitting in the middle of town.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bad Photography Saturday: The Lehigh

Okay, a break from the trains for a while (a little while)  This is the spectacular Lehigh River at White Haven.  This shot above is from the Route 940 bridge, looking downstream.  That's the Interstate 80 bridge in the distance.

Below is the view looking upstream.  As you can see, there were more clouds on the southern side.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Scrapple Friday

You can tell if someone works the overnight shift if they express glee at a cool and rainy forecast.

The government has been caught doing a lot of snooping recently, and the IRS scandal gets more nauseating by the day.

Keith Olbermann has signed on to do post season baseball for TBS.  The man has tons of talent, but he's difficult to deal with.  In the end, the latter far outweighs the former.

It didn't take long for the first named Atlantic storm of hurricane season to appear.

McDonalds is making noise about a limited breakfast menu beginning at midnight.  I'm guessing it will do very well.

The spring allergy season seems to have lasted longer than ever before.

Major League Baseball is in the middle of yet another performance enhancing drug scandal.  The latest seems bigger than most.  Why does this continue?  I'm guessing stiffer penalties will help, but the game will suffer if the big stars are kept "on the bench."

A federal judge has dismissed the governor's lawsuit against the NCAA over the Penn State sanctions.  Isn't it time to move on?

Hugo Selenski and Ray Musto had their trials delayed again.  I'm a firm believer of "let's do it once, and let's do it right," but I smell a massive manipulation of the system in both cases.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


What's wrong with Pennsylvania?

State officials banned journalists from polling places last year.  A Pittsburgh newspaper appealed.  The state supreme court went along with the ban.  The U.S. Supreme Court decided against hearing the case, so the Pennsylvania ruling stands.

You pay for those elections.  A free press is vital to a working, functioning democracy.  Bad things can happen when they're done out of public view.  What are state officials afraid of?

The state legislature can push through a bill allowing access.  I can't see that happening any time soon.

Other states, and even some foreign countries with less than friendly regimes allow cameras and journalists in polling places.

Pennsylvania is an embarrassment.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Ten members of congress have sent a letter to Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, urging him to change the name of the team.  Snyder says he won't do it.

Some feel the name "Redskins" is an anti Native American slur, and there's some merit to that argument.  Those who want to get rid of the name are apparently a small and not so vocal minority.  How else can you explain Snyder's stance?

Most colleges and universities have jettisoned Indian derived nicknames.  The pros have been slow to adopt the concept.  The Cleveland Indians,  Golden State Warriors, and Atlanta Braves are still around, although both sound less offensive than Redskins.

We still have the University of Miami Hurricanes and the Carolina Hurricanes in the National Hockey League.  Should we still have teams named for killer storms?

While I can't say I'm thrilled with "Redskins," a big part of me still thinks we, especially congress, have bigger things to worry about.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Stop It!

For the past few weeks, our television and computer screens have been filed with amateur and professional tornado video.

Are we really learning anything here?  Is the video an attempt to study the storms, or have storm chasing yahoos achieve their moment of fame.

Three died, and few got hurt over the weekend.  A  crew from the Weather Channel-- the bunch that seems to enjoy it when hurricanes slam in to the U.S. coast, is among the injured.

I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner.

I suppose the video can help us study how tornadoes form and move.  I'm okay with that.  The problem is tornado chasing has turned in to a sport, a game, and this one has deadly consequences.

Tell the fun seeking storm chasers to put down their cameras, and do what reasonable, sensible people do when a tornado approaches-- seek shelter.

Monday, June 3, 2013

About the Cover

After considerable trial and error over the past few years, I finally found a road that takes you close enough to the Waymart windmills to get a good photograph.

They are fascinating pieces of machinery from a distance, and even more so close up.  Although, I'm not sure I'd like to live near one.

If we are to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, we'd better get used to them.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Today, the home of that diesel engine you saw yesterday.  You can see it to the right of this photo, below the TV towers of Penobscot Knob in Hanover Township.

Many of the train stations and freight buildings along the track in our area are gone.  Others have been adapted for other uses.  A web search shows Reading & Northern has offices in this building in Fairview Township.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bad Photography Saturday: Another Train

As noted weeks ago, I made a trip to White Haven for a social event.  There are several ways to get there from where I live.  They're all scenic, so I made sure to take a camera.

Yes, I like trains, and I spotted this one near the intersection of Route 437 and Gracedale Avenue in Fairview Township.  The track is adjacent to Crestwood Industrial Park, so I'm sure the track and the engine see a lot of work.