Sunday, September 30, 2018
Saturday, September 29, 2018
This applies to all school districts... good teachers should get good money and bad teachers should get bounced. There has to be a way to take politics out of the equation.
Pennsylvania has a severely broken system-- from the way we pay for education to the way we handle teachers. There appears to be a reluctance in Harrisburg to an overhaul, and I can't say I'm surprised.
Friday, September 28, 2018
As I say here every year, I know spring is on the way when skunks become active.
I have yet to see a wooly bear, but those who have seen the caterpillars say they indicate a mild winter is on the way.
I'm taking the opposite view, thanks to squirrels. I've noticed their tails are whiter and bushier than normal, for this time of year. If that isn't enough, the little buggers are going nuts, pardon the pun, on a chestnut tree in my yard. That spells a cold and snowy winter, in my book.
I hope the squirrels are wrong, but I don't think so. Looks for the squirrels' report card, in this space, in about six months.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
It happens every week in the NFL. Players get their knees ripped up and they need surgery. Out for the season. Aaron Rodgers of the Packers was taken off the field on opening weekend. Luckily, his injury wasn't severe, but it's clear that he is still hurting.
When you really think about it, the knee is an amazing joint. It moves hundreds, maybe thousands of time a day, and it supports your weight for life.
I do consider myself extremely fortunate. My knees don't give me any problems, even after long walks and bike rides. It is the one part (or two parts) of my body that doesn't hurt after a morning at the gym.
Borrowed time? Maybe. Knees do wear out and occasionally need to be replaced. I'm looking forward to keeping my original equipment.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Why roads at the tail end of construction season almost as bad as they were at the beginning?
Bachman Turner Overdrive has to be one of the biggest underrated rock bands of the 70's.
It will be interesting to see how Penn State handles a real challenge.
More and more people are realizing the Pittsburgh Steelers are a train wreck in progress, and managers have lost control of the team. A Monday night win, but they gave up 500 yards of offense to Tampa Bay. 11 penalties.
I've had an Amazon Echo for quite a while now, and I am still amazed by its capabilities.
I don't care what Bert and Ernie do with their free time.
Why can't someone make a good, fun, dependable smart phone at a reasonable price?
It's hard to believe we're heading in to the fourth quarter of the year.
The weather turned chilly Sunday morning, and I heard by first chimney fire of the season on the scanner. Carbon monoxide alarms won't be far behind as windows close and heating systems kick on.
Why do so many still have a hard time with the "wipers on = headlights on" rule?
I'm still using my metal reusable drinking straws.
More Sears doom and gloom stories are in the media this week. It appears the inevitable is near.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
I am a huge believer in flu shots, and I really don't understand the thought process of people who won't get one.
My doctor recently closed his small and absolutely wonderful practice to throw in his lot with one of the soulless conglomerates, so "Flu Shot 2018" would be my first experience with the new set up, and I considered it a test-- part of my probationary process.
I called earlier than usual for an appointment because I expected a two week wait, or something like that. Imagine my shock when I was told I could come in that day. I chose an appointment for the next morning.
It was odd. I received the shot before checking in because the person who does that was stuck in line at the donut shop down the street. It wasn't a good first impression.
I feel better, as always, after the shot. The jury is still out on the conglomerate. It seems the best way to deal with it is "don't get sick."
Get a shot. Just about any drug store will do it for you. Do it for yourself, your co-workers and your family. You won't be sorry.
Monday, September 24, 2018
Nostalgia aplenty. The class wasn't conducted by my alma mater, Marywood University, but it was held on its beautiful campus on the Scranton/Dunmore line.
A couple of things jumped out at me. First, I still have the ability to concentrate on one topic for several hours at a time. Second, I retain the capability to irritate instructors.
We had a decent sized lunch break, so I used the opportunity to stroll about campus on a beautiful fall day, grab a cold soda, and sit in one of the quiet lounges. As an aside, how many people are working, or not working, at Marywood these days? There was an enormous line in the new library snack bar, and the one in the book store wasn't much better. Slow. Inefficient. Frustrating. I was glad I wasn't in a hurry.
I enjoyed the lounge experience. It was dead quiet, as it was most days during my time in school. Back then, I sat on a couch and went over notes between classes. Last week, it was checking e-mails and texting a few friends.
Times change. The subject material wasn't even close to being on the radar when I was in school, but I really did enjoy being back in an academic atmosphere.
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Today, let's look at another. This building was almost lost in the 70's. It's the Lackawanna train station in downtown Scranton, now a Radisson hotel.
The building was empty and falling apart in the 70's. We are all thankful some people got together to save the building and turn it in to a hotel. Great location-- the entrance to the city. It's one of our area's signature buildings and I'm happy it's still around.
Saturday, September 22, 2018
We have a horrible habit around here of neglecting old and historic buildings until they can no longer can be repaired and have to be torn down. I took this photo of the Nicholson train station a few years ago.
Below is the news release from the group spearheading the restoration.
NICHOLSON, PA – The Nicholson Heritage Association is excited to announce that renovations will commence on the Nicholson Tourism Center at the Historic Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W) Railroad Station. In late 2014, this historic transportation facility preservation and community economic revitalization project received a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant for preservation and rehabilitation of the historic train station.
The three bids received in response to the June 2018 call for bids were reviewed by PennDOT and Perry’s General Contracting, Dunmore, base bid of $1,154,000 was selected. While this is more than the original grant amount awarded, PennDOT is fully funding the project. The Nicholson Heritage Association is required to cover inspection costs.
Marion Sweet, the Nicholson Heritage Association’s Chair, said that “We couldn’t be more pleased! While it’s taken a long time to get to this point because of grant requirements that needed to be met, we look forward to work being done on the Historic DL&W Railroad Station.”
The Association purchased the station in June 2012, with donations from individuals, businesses, and a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant. In 2014, the Association held two public meetings, to present and discuss the results of the feasibility study, funded mainly in part by a grant from the Endless Mountains Heritage Region with PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources funds. The designs are complete and possible in part to a Tom E. Dailey Foundation grant. Reuther+Bowen, a highly accomplished and diverse engineering, design, and construction services firm in Dunmore, PA, has been working with the Nicholson Heritage Association on the project, including the designs.
The Nicholson Tourism Center at the Historic DL&W Railroad Station will revitalize the region by attracting tourists to the station, the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct (also known as the Tunkhannock Viaduct or the Nicholson Bridge), Nicholson, Historic Tunkhannock, Wyoming County, and the Endless Mountains. The station also will attract visitors to the region by linking to the area’s railroading and transportation attractions, including the Martins Creek Viaduct, Viaduct Valley Way Scenic Byway, Starrucca Viaduct, Steamtown, Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces, Electric City Trolley Museum, Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, D&H Gravity Railroad Depot Museum, and Honesdale: the birthplace of American Railroad (see infographic). It will also be used for community events.
While the TAP grant provides the funds needed to rehabilitate the station, donations continue to be needed and are greatly appreciated, either by mail to the historical group at or PayPal. Please visit http://www.nicholsonstation.org for more information, including a list of supporters.
Friday, September 21, 2018
A few thoughts...
90 episodes over five seasons. CBS never seemed to know what to do with it. The show was moved around the schedule several times. It was nearly impossible to find.
I always use the word "uneven" to describe the series. Some episodes were outrageously funny. The rest, just meh.
Personal favorite: "Baby, It's Cold Inside" from season three.
I always thought Jan Smithers was infinitely more attractive than Loni Anderson, who was nothing to sneeze at.
The Johnny Fever, Les Nessman, and Herb Tarlek characters were dead on accurate. I worked with all of those guys at one time or another.
I also worked for Art Carlson. He was president of Susquehanna Broadcasting, owner of WARM, during my time there.
Bucky the engineer was an underrated and under used character.
It's not Thanksgiving until I see the main scene from "Turkeys Away."
I had made up my mind to get into broadcasting long before WKRP appeared. It just erenforced my decision. This can be a fun business.
Thursday, September 20, 2018
When you steal from a school district, you rip off the taxpayers and deprive the kids.
What makes this situation even more sad is that there were people who knew what was going on, and did nothing to stop it. The enablers are just as guilty.
With any luck, and just a little bit of wisdom, the school district can move on from this sorry episode. So much of it seems like the old boys network, the way business around here is done, what passes for good governance.
We deserve better and we don't ask for better nearly enough.
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
It has been established here that I have a work and sleep schedule that is the opposite of most people. I was dozing the other day, when my phone's text alert went off. It was an organization, working on behalf of a congressional candidate, asking for my vote.
I can't mute the phone due to family and work responsibilities.
I won't mention the candidate of the organization's name, and I'll sanitize what comes next.
I texted back a few choice words and added the text would guarantee my vote for the candidate's opponent. I'm serious.
It's a lesson for telemarketers, candidates and other political organizations. Please, leave me alone.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
I've been biking for more than six years now. While I have expanded my route, there are parts I can travel blindfolded. The reason? The nose knows.
There is a section of my route where the stench from a landfill collects, especially on a hot and humid summer night. After passing through that part of town, the next aroma is from a sewage treatment plant.
There is one block in Scranton and another in Dickson City where people love to barbecue in the middle of the night.
I know exactly where I am when the smell of dryer fabric softener sheets hits me, and when I pick up the stale and smoky air coming from a corner bar.
A business that makes concrete and iron products is on my route. It's been closed for hours by the time I pedal by, but the smell of truck exhaust and diesel fuel hangs in the air.
This seems to have been a banner year for skunks. They are everywhere. I'm not complaining. That's part of the joy of living in northeastern Pennsylvania.
As I think of it, it's a great idea for a travel based map site. Instead of saying "turn left at the light" you can say "turn left when you smell burgers and dogs on the grill at 2 am."
Monday, September 17, 2018
This is probably too "inside baseball" for most people, and the rest will wonder why I care.
Let's establish a few things off the top. I love radio and I especially love those big, beefy, substantial top of the hour network newscasts. NBC and Mutual are out of business. UPI is gone. AP is greatly diminished. No overnight of weekend newscasts. CNN is also gone, but it does provide material to a company that produces radio news. That leaves ABC and CBS. Both are fine organizations.
I've been listening to hurricane Florence coverage-- and a lot of it. It seems the radio networks "go to" stuff is audio snippets from TV news reports. Really? It makes me so sad. Radio is a great medium. Put boots on the ground. Describe what's going on. Don't rely on the audio from the TV people.
Westwood One has a radio news service. In fact, the White House correspondent is former WNEP reporter Bob Costantini. Outside of reporters on some of the key beats, the rest comes from CNN TV.
I get the whole corporate synergy thing and getting the biggest bang for the buck.
Name the biggest star in radio. I'd say "Howard Stern." But, he's on satellite. Name another. Maybe Ryan Seacrest. Keep going. It's tough. Imus retired. Paul Harvey died. Casey Kasem left us long ago. Are there any big radio news stars?
ABC has some fine people-- Cheri Preston, Aaron Katersky, Chuck Sivertsen (who once worked in Scranton), Jim Ryan... The rest of the people on the ABC Radio web site are reporters and anchors who serve television first.
CBS Radio still has the rock solid Mark Knoller at the White House.
Here's my point. The remaining big radio news networks still do an outstanding job, but radio, if it is to survive and prosper, it really needs to develop some stand out talent of its own.
Sunday, September 16, 2018
I've been stopping by for the past six years. I never met Jan, but I do know his father. Dad had a great quote in a story by Newswatch 16's Chase Senior-- Jan's name will live on long after we're gone.
I've been stopping by for the past six years. I never met Jan, but I do know his father. Dad had a great quote in a story by Newswatch 16's Chase Senior-- Jan's name will live on long after we're gone.
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Below is the view from the same week in 2017.
And the shot you see below is from October of 2016.
Even though the power plant is functioning, it remains a controversial issue and a sore spot around here. It will be that way long after I'm gone.
Friday, September 14, 2018
I really didn't do anything out of the ordinary, other than squeezing in a little extra sleep-- which was badly needed.
Gym, bike, photography, reading, errands... Grew a beard. Shaved off a beard.
Highlights included losing my old glasses on the trip to get a new pair of glasses, and successfully backing up files from an old laptop computer.
One more vacation week to go, and I'll burn that off next month. I still have some scattered single days off to take. It's amazing how much of the year has disappeared. It's almost time to start thinking about holiday schedules.
I'll see you at work.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
The letter informed me that I hadn't used my card in 41 months, and if I don't use it by the end of October, it will be deactivated. It's a common practice, and it's happened to me before.
It's safe to say our relationship has reached the end of the road. The company has closed almost every store in my part of the state, and I'm not going to travel a long distance to shop there.
The Sears and KMart web sites are still options, but there are other companies that do it faster and better. More merchandise. Cheaper shipping.
Looks like I'll soon be dead to Sears and KMart.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
When are people going to figure out Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is a fraud? The playoff game versus Jacksonville last year was an embarrassment, and Sunday's tie with the lowly Cleveland Browns wasn't much better.
The networks have done some minor tinkering with their broadcast teams. Former Arizona head coach Bruce Arians on CBS wasn't bad. Buck/Aikman and Michaels/Collinsworth remain the cream of the crop.
I didn't catch the new ESPN team during the pre season, or Monday night.
There was a time where if you didn't catch one of the network pre game shows, you felt like you were missing something. Those days are gone. Has CBS used the same studio crew two years in a row since the network regained football rights 20 years ago?
The national anthem controversy didn't appear to be a big deal Sunday, and that's a good thing.
It's too early to really judge if the NFL's new contact rules are having an impact on the game, but week one wasn't as bad as I had feared.
A few teams have tweaked their uniforms and helmets. Nothing jumped out at me as good or awful.
Ratings for the season opener in Philadelphia were down from last year. It's too early to cry or celebrate. It will be fascinating to see what the trends show.
Betting on the NFL is legal in more places this season. It seems to have taken some of the steam out of the fantasy leagues.
15 more regular season games to go.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
It was nice to sleep under a substantial blanket. It was nice to root through the closet for a light jacket to wear outside. It was nice to turn on the car heater for a quick blast of warmth. It was nice to watch a leaf fall from the top of a tree and slowly drift to the ground. It was nice to turn on the television and watch pennant chase baseball, and football. It was nice to turn off the fans and air conditioners, and open the windows. It was nice to look at fall clothes in the Land's End and L.L. Bean catalogs. It was nice to be able to breathe.
I'm not "in" to "pumpkin spice" anything, but if that's your thing, enjoy it while you can.
As I have said here many times before, there are two big problems with fall. The first is it doesn't last long enough. The second is, it's always followed by winter.
Monday, September 10, 2018
I never thought Burt Reynolds, who died last week, was much of an actor. However, he was an outstanding movie star. The man was box office gold in the 70's. There were television appearances before that. There were few guests who were more entertaining while sitting next to Johnny Carson.
Burt Reynolds was 82.
Bill Daily died September 4th. He was the perfect second banana to Larry Hagman on "I Dream of Jeannie." Daily played airline navigator Howard Borden, the wacky neighbor on "The Bob Newhart Show." Newhart Tweeted: "He was our bullpen guy - you could always go to him."
When the series work ended, Daily hit the game show circuit and was always funny-- even when he inherited the Richard Dawson chair on "Match Game." It was a tough act to follow.
Bill Daily was 91.
Sunday, September 9, 2018
Saturday, September 8, 2018
It was really nice-- discount department store. Off to the left of this photo was a Shop Rite. I'll always remember it as the only place in town where you could buy Canfield's diet chocolate fudge soda. There were a few smaller stores-- including a Radio Shack, Carvel, and a pizza shop.
After Master's moved out, it because a flea market type space, called the Independent Merchants Association. That morphed in to factory outlets-- a concept I really liked. It was not unusual to see several out of town license plates in the parking lot. The factory outlets did increase traffic. In came Burlington, and that brings us to today.
I do remember a deep discount, second run movie theater here. It's where I saw "Dave," one of my all time favorite movies. Movies for a buck, eventually increased to $1.50. It was an interesting set up. All seats were at the same level-- flat on the floor. Small screens. Hey, what do you want for one dollar?
Now, all that remains is a Big Lots and a Dollar General. I don't know how a shopping center can survive with just two stores and a ton of empty face. I wonder what happens next.
Friday, September 7, 2018
Ever since I started earning vacation time, in the early 80's, I've taken time off in September. Great month. Cooler. Usually dry, except for the occasional tropical storm or hurricane. Quiet. No crowds.
My time off actually began Labor Day at noon, and that cooler weather I hoped for still really hasn't materialized. No worries. I have a little more time off next month.
The weekend morning broadcasts are in the very capable hands of Stacy Lange.
We'll talk soon.
Thursday, September 6, 2018
We'll start in Scranton, where the district faces massive debt, and it appears the district is one step away from a state take-over. Scranton laid off 16 teachers last week. Physical education, the arts, and librarians were cut. It reminds me of a struggling retail store. Workers lose their jobs. Customer service struggles, and the downward spiral accelerates. Remaining teachers will have to pick up the slack.
On the other hand, what are your options? Taxpayers are maxed out. The debt isn't going away.
It's easier said than done, but we have to find new and different ways of doing things. The old model isn't working.
In Wilkes-Barre, there is considerable resistance to combining the city's three high schools, and constructing a new building in Plains Township.
Neighborhood schools are great, and I feel very sorry for children who never had that experience. Schools add quite a bit to the areas they serve.
Again, what are your options? Wilkes-Barre's three existing buildings are old. They need plenty of work. I will repeat it: Taxpayers are maxed out. While a new building will be hugely expensive, and transportation costs will go up, there are many who believe it will be more efficient in the long one. Kids get modern facilities-- all in one place.
It's not an easy call. The Scranton and Wilkes-Barre stories will be in the news for years to come.
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Fast forward to 2018. Credit card payment is a breeze. You don't even have to sign! By the way, that process was deemed silly a long time ago. When was the last time you saw a cashier check a signature?
Checks? No one uses them.
The current scourge of the check out line is paying via smart phone app. Great idea. Bad practice. I don't do it, but I've watched others. It never seems to work on the first try, and the poor kids behind the counter, especially in mini marts, seem overwhelmed by the process. The ice in my drink is melting and my blood pressure is shooting up while I wait for the guy in front of me to pay for his Camels using his phone!
Like anything else, I'm sure technology will improve. Smart phones will get even smarter, and paying by app will be a speedy process. It can't happen soon enough.
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
I am sorry for those who lost their hobs, and for people who liked to shop there. I am reminded of the words of game show host Peter Tomarken. On the last episode of his first network show, NBC's "Hit Man," Tomarken thanked the viewers and added "Unfortunately, there weren't enough of you."
Bon Ton was done in by a number of factors. The chain struggled for years. Debt. No traffic. A changing retail landscape. Those are just a few reasons. I occasionally visited the Wyoming and Wilkes-Barre Township stores. They were seas of grey and beige. Tired decor. Not much reason to shop there.
Monday, September 3, 2018
As you can see from the header photo, the cupola has seen better days. Rust. Rot. It remains an interesting feature.
As regular blog readers know, I try to have an education theme for the September blog header. While many schools, colleges and universities open in August, I'm old school and view September as THE big back to school month.
Sunday, September 2, 2018
Yes, the Susquehanna here floods, and several people have left their homes along the river. The creek also has its issues. Water backs up when the Susquehanna gets high, and this part of the borough gets flooded.
However, it's a nice little feature when the weather is tranquil.