Sunday, March 31, 2019

Andy's Angles: Twins

It's been a while since I've put a kitty picture here.

The two here are friends of  Nathan and Peanut's.  Jimmy is the red one on the right.  Melissa is the grey one on the left.  Yes, they are brother and sister.

As kittens, they were plucked off the streets of an adjacent town many years ago.  Jimmy is a good boy and Melissa is one of the most vocal cats I've ever encountered.  she really makes an announcement when she enters a room.

I'm glad I know them.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Andy's Angles: It Wasn't My Fault!

I was passing through Plains Township on a recent morning and I saw this.  It was sad, even though we all knew it was coming.  Jay Dee, the Sneaker King, closed its original store in the middle of Plains.  Other stores are still open and doing well.

I swear.  This closing wasn't my fault.

It's been a while since we've had an Uncle Apal's story time, so here goes.

Once upon a time, I was the "swing man" at WARM 590.  I did news when needed.  I ran the weekend overnight religion and public affairs programs.  I was even a disc jockey, mediocre, at best.  There was even the rare occasion when I had to record commercials.

I don't know why it fell to me, but I was the voice of Jay Dee, The Sneaker King during one season of Penn State football broadcasts in the early 80's.  I came to work on a Friday evening, and there was a page of commercial copy in my mail box.  I had to record it, cart it up, and make sure it ran in the next day's Penn State broadcast.

Simple, right?  Absolutely not!

Commercials in satellite programs and sporting events have to be strictly timed.  Too short, and you will have dead air at the end of the break.  Too long, and you will trample on the play by play or the re-join into the program.  And, yes, I know, this is all inside baseball, and many of you are already likely bored with the story.

As hard as I tried, and I can talk fast, I could not get that commercial to hit 30 seconds.  I was always over.  Next step, eliminate words.  I tried to cut as little as possible.  After several tries, I hit 30 seconds on the nose.  Success.  Not really.  I read so fast and cut so much of the copy, I don't think we sold many sneakers that football season.  It wasn't a very good commercial.  Perhaps I am being too hard on myself.  No one complained, not even the Sneaker King.

So, the flagship store is gone.  I swear, my ineffective commercial nearly 40 years ago had nothing to do with it.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Early Bird

It's perfect timing.

I usually stop for a diet soda on my way to work.  Not being a coffee drinker, I need the pick-me-up some days, even though it's mostly psychological.  It's a gift of perfect timing.  I usually get to the mini mart just as the morning newspaper is being delivered.

Even though I already know the headlines because I check the internet before my morning shower, I have to pause  to look at the headlines, the photos, what goes above the fold and what goes below.   The art of the composition.  What the editors think is important, what they think will entice you to buy.  There is a certain magic to a pristine and fresh stack of newspapers on the shelf, the ink barely dry.

It is one of the joys of being out and about,  even before the early bird.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Shared Experiences

I know I blogged about it Monday, but today is the actual 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island.

Something jumped out at me during the past few days.  It's been well established that I've always been a news junkie, even going back to my teenage years.  The Three Mile Island story hit when I was a senior in high school.  I've been talking with a lot of people around my age this week, and I was not alone.  A lot of us were really frightened by what was going on just outside of Harrisburg in March of 1979.  This was a game changer.

Every generation has its "moments," both positive and negative.  I was only 23 months old when President Kennedy was assassinated.  I vividly remember Apollo 11 and the triumph of man on the moon, the relief when Vietnam was finally over, the frustration over Watergate, the bigger frustration surrounding the Iran hostage crisis...

TMI was a wake up call.

I guess the next watershed moment of a terrifying nature was 9/11.

I like to think we learn from these things, but there are many days where I'm not so sure.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Fragile America

I am constantly surprised on how fragile America can be.  Today's blog entry deals with gasoline prices.

A hurricane in the gulf or a refinery fire can send gasoline prices up.  Way up.  A factor I heard the other morning was a new one on me.

The midwest has been hit by some horrible flooding.  Acres and acres of farm land are under water.  Buildings and equipment destroyed.  My heart breaks for the farmers.  It's a tough way to make a living and they are hugely important to the American economy.

Here is my point.  Gasoline prices will be going up, again, because the flooding is keeping ethanol from getting to market, and there is plenty of that in our gasoline blends.

It doesn't take much to send prices up and supplies down, and that really frightens me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Personal Investment

As hard as you try, there are times you just can't avoid it.

I used to cover plenty of high school sports back in the day, and I met some great kids.  It thrilled you when they won.  It broke your heart when they lost.

I watched Newswatch 16's coverage of the Lourdes Regional girls' basketball team last week.  I was extremely disappointed when they lost the state championship game Friday.  They handled that setback with a great deal of dignity and class.

The same goes for the Lady Bucks of Dunmore High School.   I interviewed a couple of players last week, after the semifinal victory in Pottsville.  They were a nice bunch, and I know the older sister of one of the players.

I stayed up well past my bed time Thursday to watch the championship game with Delone Catholic, and I was crushed when Dunmore lost.  I will give the kids tons of credit.  They fell behind early, but they made it close at the end.  They never quit.

There is an old saying in basketball:  "You can't teach height."  I think you can teach class, grace, and dignity.  The Lourdes Regional and Dunmore teams are proof of that.

One final note on the Dunmore telecast...  It was a championship game, but not a championship broadcast.  Frequently out of focus, missed baskets, disappearing graphics, slow score updates, cameras out of position, and the choreographed player introductions seemed to be a major surprise.  It was disappointing, to say the least.

Monday, March 25, 2019

TMI + 40

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island.

I remember it like it was yesterday.  In 1979, we had one of those mini warm spells we often get in late March.  I was a senior in high school.  My best friend, Dave, and I skipped school and spent the batter part of the day taking pictures at Lackawanna State Park.  I was picking up the prints from a Photo Quick booth in Dunmore.  I had just turned my car on to the O'Neill Highway when I heard the first mention of TMI on my car's radio.

To get you up to speed, there was a time when photos were shot on film, and you had to take them to places to get developed.  Photo Quick booths were tiny little buildings in shopping center parking lots.  You would take your film there.  Someone would make a daily pick up at the booth, take the stuff to a developing lab, and you would get it back a couple of days later.

I also remember my history teacher, the next day, telling us plans were being developed to evacuate the city of Harrisburg.  Amazing.

Other memories from that week were Walter Cronkite devoting a huge hunk of time on the "CBS Evening News" to the accident.  Mike Stevens covered the accident for "Newswatch 16."  The station even had a Geiger counter in the backyard at the old building.  It did tick occasionally, but the station calmly explained that it was normal.  There is natural radiation in the environment.

Governor Thornburgh and Lieutenant Governor Scranton were in office only a few months at the time.  Outwardly, they were calm and they really did give you a sense of confidence they would make the right decisions.  But then again, there was no internet at the time, and no one constantly second guessing.  There are so many questions I've always wanted to ask them.

Did we learn a lot about nuclear power?  I certainly hope so.

The system worked, or it didn't work, depending on your point of view, and the debate will continue until the end of time.

I've passed Three Mile Island several times over the years.  It was the same reaction every time, a queasy feeling in my stomach, wondering how close we came to the unthinkable.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Andy's Angles: Hazleton

I've featured Hazleton City Hall here before, but this is a fresh photo, from Monday morning.

A shooting brought photographer Jason and I to the city on the hill, and it always makes me sad.  Looking around-- some great buildings, beautiful homes, good people.  Not blaming anyone, but it troubles me how this city got off the track.    It does happen to people, to cities, to organizations.  It doesn't mean it's over.

I love city hall, especially at night.  It's one of our area's great buildings.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Andy's Angles: DER and TCT

There was a small fire at the Thomas C. Thomas building on North Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilkes-Barre a couple of weeks ago.  This was a produce terminal for many years, and there are still tomato coolers in the building.

It's a big building and there is plenty of office space upstairs.  For many years, the Department of Environmental Resources, now the Department of Environmental Protection was here.

An employee of one of the agencies was showing us the smoke damage, and I did a little wandering about.  My travels took me to an area where DER used to hold its news conferences.  Memories of one horrible afternoon came flooding back.

Once upon a time, there was a company called Pennsylvania Gas & Water has unprotected water sources. Beavers under stress, we were told, were using the reservoirs as their toilets, and the company was pushing contaminated water through its vast system.  At a news conference one afternoon, DER announced big sections of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, including my home, were under a boil water advisory.  Drinking the water could make you violently ill.

The news conference wrapped up.  Dilemma.  I was on the radio at the time, and WARM was never hesitant about breaking into programming for news bulletins.  We excelled at it, and this was an enormous story. 

What to do?  Call the family, or call the station?  If memory serves, and I could be wrong, I think I called the station.  I don't think anybody was home, anyway.

PG&W eventually built state mandated water filtration plants, and the state even gave you the pleasure of paying for them.  PG&W eventually sold out and no longer exists.  A lot of people made some big money as you kept running to the bathroom because the water made you sick.

Memories from the Thomas C. Thomas building.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Scrapple

I miss David Letterman any time I channel surf weeknights at 11:35 PM.  Watching him on "Ellen" yesterday only drove the point home.  The humor.  The sharp wit.  How I long for that every night.

There are few things more depressing than a cold rain.

It's "March Madness" time.  The Major League Baseball season is underway.  We've had some major golf tournaments.  The insufferably long NBA and NHL playoffs are approaching.  The NFL season is still five months away, and yet, NFL talk dominates radio.  We are a football nation.

Burger King has tacos!

I'm sorry, but I don't care about your brackets.  I will admit to liking CBS and Turner crews working together.  Love the change up.

The "National Enquirer" (yes, I know) reports Megyn Kelly has her sights set on "CBS This Morning."  She is a skilled and smart woman, but I don't know if this is a good fit.  I've been wrong before.

I have friends who are major DisneyWorld freaks.  Never been, and I just don't get it.  I'm not saying it's a bad thing.  Merely, I don't understand it.  I'm assuming I fail here because I'm cheap.  Plus, I'm not one for crowds and noise on my days off.

I can't remember the last time I purchased a Powerball ticket.  I did buy some scratchers as stocking stuffers a few years back.

The auditor general warns the Pennsylvania Turnpike faces bankruptcy.  Unbelievable!  Like the Scranton School District, why do we always get to the brink before the alarm goes off?

I don't know how I'm able to do it, but I have resisted the temptation to visit a donut shop or grab one out of the mini mart case.  It's not easy.

My heart broke for the Lady Bucks of Dunmore high school Thursday evening.  They never gave up.  There is a lesson for all of us.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Follow Up Thursday

A while back, I wrote about encountering several college students who were oblivious to what was going on in their world.  I visited a high school the other morning, and it was a complete 180.  Nice, knowledgeable, polite students who were able to express thoughts and speak in complete sentences.  It should be the norm, rather than the exception.

The Los Angeles Angels, to keep him from going to the Phillies in two years, gave Mike Trout a huge new contract.  Great for Trout, and it's nice to see the Angels investing in its product.  On the other hand, the fans will pay in the form of higher ticket prices, higher food and drink prices, higher parking fees, etc.  I'm sure the team will also look for more for more advertising money and more money from local tv, cable and radio.  The little guy always pays, eventually.

Scranton School District:  criminal investigation, money problems, close to a state take-over, and now mice!  You wonder what will happen next.

I railed against this when it happened a few years ago.  Oakland and Seattle began the Major League Baseball season in Japan yesterday.  Cute idea.  Expand the reach.  I still get the feeling that fans of both teams are getting short changed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sports Geography

The Dunmore High School Lady Bucks basketball team is headed to the state championship game in Hershey tomorrow, and that leads us to today's starting point.

First of all, congratulations to the Dunmore girls.

I have always been fascinated how some very small towns in our area can consistently produce strong high school sports teams-- Dunmore, Old Forge, Berwick...  It seems just about every school district in our area has come home with a big trophy at one time or another, but it is the repeated success in those towns that just blows me away.

The school district where I grew up had plenty of success in basketball and baseball.  Football?  Not so much.  But,  immediately adjacent districts have enjoyed huge successes in football.  Do you forget how to play when you cross the border?   I'm sure a lot has to do with history, legacy, administration, execution, and a long list of other factors.  Some of it goes back to the days before some small districts combined into larger ones.  I'm sure someone with plenty of time and the research skills can figure it out.

It would really be great to watch Dunmore come home with a state championship.  Good luck!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Today is the last full day of winter, and believe it or not, there are some things I will miss.

First of all, I will not miss snow, ice, wintry mixes and "kitchen sink" storms.

I will miss ice cold water coming out of the tap.

There is a certain charm to putting on a heavy coat and going for a walk, and then crawling under a heavy blanket for some sleep when you get home.

There is the comfort of hot chocolate, chili, and a bowl of soup.

I love the sting of the cold when you walk out of the gym, after an early morning workout, on a single digit day.

I will miss the faint aroma of smoke from a wood burner, because someone near my gym apparently has one.

Clear blue skies.  Starry nights.  Zero humidity.  The cold has an ability to wake you up and crystallize thoughts.  I'm thankful my work desk is only a few feet from the backyard door.

Winter:  it's not all bad.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Unfinished Monday

This college entrance cheating scandal fascinates me, and I think it's going to stay that way for a while.

First of all, if I had a kid, if I had the money, and if the kid needed help, of course, I'd grease some palms to make things work.  Yes, there is an ethics issue, but you just do things for your kids.  Having said that, there is something said to putting honesty over money.

The sad part about it is that there are so many greaseable palms out there.  If you're willing to hand out money, there are more than enough people willing to accept.

That's the problem.

I remember an elementary school teacher telling us about cheating on tests.  She said she would punish the "giver" more than the "taker" because you'd have to be crazy not to take the right answers.

So much for that early lesson in honesty and ethics.

This college thing raises the concept to a whole new level.  I can see where some parents did it because they wanted to give their kids the best education possible.  Ethics be damned.  While the middle man apparently was skilled in putting things over on the admissions offices, colleges and universities really need to take a long, hard look at how they do things, and how money is their ultimate God.

As I said last week, the true losers are the deserving students who were denied opportunity.

Big and prestigious colleges and universities aren't all they're cracked up to be.

I've met graduates from places with great reputations who bordered on incompetent.  On the other hand, I've worked with a lot of people from under the radar schools, who turned out to be great.

Some students thrive on a big campus.  I was very happy with my choice of a small school.  It was "me."

The only lesson that might come out of this is a realization there is a huge need  for system reform.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Andy's Angles: More Than One

Blakely has its big gold anchor near the Dickson City and Olyphant lines.

There is a smaller one in Old Forge.

The seas it's been in, the stories it can tell...

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Andy's Angles: Big Gun

This is the big gun that stands watch in front of the Old Forge Municipal Building along South Main Street.

Some might think it glorifies war.  I like to think it honorsd the men and women who fought.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Media Friday

ABC is reviving two old game shows, "Card Sharks" and "Press Your Luck."  I haven't seen any host names attached yet.  I see this as qualified good news.  ABC has done a nice job on "Pyramid."  Not so nice on "To Tell the Truth."  The last "Card Sharks" revival was simply awful.  I hope they stay true to the original.

Old news, but Jason Witten is leaving ESPN and going back to the Dallas Cowboys.  I caught some of his "Monday Night Football" work.  It wasn't very good, but not as horrible as the TV newspaper and internet critics made it out to be.  ESPN is still trying to capture that old ABC "Monday Night Football" magic, and it's not happening.

The Federal Communications Commission is still trying to figure out what to do with AM radio.  I've seen suggestions as to close the band.  Another lifts ownership caps.  Companies can own as many AM stations as they please.  I have a newsflash for you.  It's not far from that now.  I still like my idea best.  Offer tax incentives for letting failing and low powered AM stations go dark.  Take the ones that remain, space them out better and offer more power.

ABC reports another strong month for "World News Tonight" and "Good Morning America."

CBS is considering blowing up its morning broadcast again, according to industry publications.    John Dickerson is supposed to go to "60 Minutes."  Norah O"Donnell slides to the "Evening News."  Gayle King stays with a fat contract.  The broadcast lost its way when Charlie Rose was fired.  Ann Curry and Ashleigh Banfield are reportedly on the CBS short list.

Several big city stations have renewed their contracts with Rush Limbaugh.  Even after 30 years, he is the gold standard in talk radio.

Speaking of conservatives, and I know I've said this before, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is really good at TV, and he even has the onions to go on liberal networks, where he knows the questions will not be friendly.

The New York Post reports one of the woman involved in the Matt Lauer affair is shopping a book to the big publishing houses.  My Lauer question, and I don't have the answer,is how long will he have to stay in TV jail?  I was never a fan, but he did help keep the "Today" show afloat for a long time.  I'm sure he can help someone.

Rob Schneider is appearing at a resort in the Poconos Sunday.  He starred in a 1996 sitcom called "Men Behaving Badly."  Do you think a show with that name could get on the air today?

Thursday, March 14, 2019


If it wasn't so tragic, it would be hilarious.  A bunch of rich people were busted the other day for allegedly paying big bucks to get their kids in to elite colleges and universities.

I have a news flash for you.  This is really nothing new.  Prominent families always make big donations, and the kids are welcomed in the front door, right after dad gets his honorary degree.

This scam brought things to a new level.  The alleged mastermind called it going in the "side door."  You can read better descriptions of how it all worked elsewhere.  It was a pretty slick operation, other than the part about getting caught.

And you thought athletic departments were the only dirty aspects of big time education.  Take a walk over to the admissions office.

I do feel sorry for all the working class kids who might have been denied slots because they were grabbed by the rich kids.  I'm sure they found another college university, and then were burdened by decades of debt.

I was lucky.  During my time, relatively speaking, college was a great bargain.  I set my sights on something close and affordable.  I did everything myself, without one iota of help from my high school's laughably horrible guidance department.  I worked hard for my degree and have been employed in my field of study for nearly 40 years.

It can be done.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Vote 19: The Special Election

There was a special election yesterday in the 114th legislative district, covering a big section of Lackawanna County.  The winner would fill the term of Sid Michaels Kavulich, who died in October.

The Democrats selected Bridget Malloy Kosierowski as their candidate.  The Republicans turned to Frank Scavo.

Reporter Sarah Buynovsky and I did something a little different for yesterday's Newswatch 16 This Morning broadcast.  We each took one of the candidates.  I had Scavo, and Sarah covered Kosierowski.  They both voted at the same time, and the locations were not close.  Sarah went to Waverly and I hit Old Forge.  We combined our material into one report at Newswatch 16 at Noon.

The outcome was evident early.  Kosierowski captured 62 per cent of the vote and goes to Harrisburg.

She ran a good campaign, latching on to health care as her big issue.  Kosierowski is a nurse and it makes sense, even though much of what she talked about is a national concern, not a state one.  The campaign was safe and smart.  Kosierowski stuck to the script.  She came across as friendly and warm on television.  She didn't make any mistakes.

Scavo repeated the themes of last year's unsuccessful state senate campaign-- elimination of property taxes, and that is a very solid base on which to build.  His campaign got off the track when some old social media posts popped up, perceived as anti Muslim.

This race made you wonder on many levels.  I've known Frank for a long time.  I've known his wife and her family even longer.  He's a smart guy.  They are good people.  The social media posts were astounding.  He should have known better at the time of the posting.  They should have been yanked long before the Scranton Times~Tribune went looking.  At the time the Republican party selected Scavo, didn't anyone ask  about anything potentially embarrassing in the past?    While Scavo can get elected to the Old Forge School Board, his popularity outside the town is questionable.  The Republicans could have made a bold move and opted for a fresh face, sans baggage.  It went for the tried and true.  As a result, the Democrats retain control of the 114th.

There was a school of thought the bashing Scavo took would energize the base and up the turnout.  Yesterday's turnout was 25 per cent and a lot of people were surprised it was that high.  I was at the polls from 7 am until noon, and turnout was severely anemic all morning.

So, what do we take from this election?  The Democrats might have found a rising star in Bridget Malloy Kosierowski.  It will be interesting to see what she does with her power, even though she is in the minority party in Harrisburg.

Frank Scavo says we haven't seen the last of him, and that's a good thing.  As long as he stops doing silly things on social media, there is a place in the Republican party for Frank and his ideas.  He participates.  The system needs that.

There is one other major takeaway from yesterday's election.  People really miss Sid.  He was exceptionally popular and well liked.  During my travels yesterday, people were talking about Sid as much as they discussed Scavo and Kosierowski.

I already know of two people strongly considering a run in the 114th in 2020.  This could be one of our area's more interesting districts in the months to come.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Time Warp

I keep telling myself to stop writing about it twice a year, but I just can't help it.

We came through another time change a couple of days ago.  Daylight Saving Time is back.  Standard Time goes away until November.

When you have to go go sleep in the afternoon, DST is not your friend.  I'll take the early sunsets.

Here's what really irritates me.  Twice a year, a bunch of politicians say it's time to end the archaic practice of adjusting time twice a year.  Nothing ever happens.  Never ever.  America, it's time to put up or shut up.

We could have winter sunrises well after 8 AM, and I could see some push back on that, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Stop yammering and do something.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Sleepy Time

A couple of weeks, I told you about my purchase of one of those 20 pound blankets, in an effort to improve sleep quality.

So, how is it going?

I really haven't noticed much of a difference.  After being under that blanket for several minutes, you really don't notice the weight.  It was great on those recent cold nights because they really seal in the heat.

Sleep better or worse?  Neither.

It was a grand experiment, and it will continue until hot weather arrives.

Speaking of sleep, there is another move in New York City to push the start of the high school day to 8:30 AM because the kids are too tired.  Proponents say they have the statistical and scientific data to back it up.

That's all well and good.  I still believe we have to prepare kids for real world jobs, and that includes getting up early.  We'd be better off if we stopped cramming their lives with after school activities of little significance, and get them to bed earlier.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Andy's Angles: About the Cover

This month's blog header is one of the big cats that guard the entrance to the Scranton Public Library at North Washington Avenue and Olive Street.

I can't say I'm overly thrilled with the header photo or the one you see here today.  It's a magnificent building, but I was here mid-morning and the sun was not my friend.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Andy's Angles: Kaboom!

A recently opened mini mart/gas station in the Scranton area features do-it-yourself soft serve ice cream, and that includes toppings. 

This was the view on a recent morning.

I'm disappointed customers can be such pigs.

I'm disappointed it took the staff so long to clean it up.

You have to wonder how long it will be before the ice cream station is a thing of the past.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Perfect Fit

A while back, I blogged about broadcasters who were the perfect fit in their jobs.  Katie Couric was made to be a "Today" host.  Megan Kelly killed it on FOX.  I don't blame either for jumping at big bucks offers, even though they turned out to be failures.

Alex Trebek hosted a lot of game shows before "Jeopardy" came along.  There were several while he handled "Jeopardy" duties.  I'll level with you.  I always he thought he was a stiff, but he was perfect at "Jeopardy."  One of the morning news anchors on WCBS radio yesterday compared Trebek to Walter Cronkite-- a man who you like and trust, and you welcome him in to your home every night. 

I grew up with the great Art Fleming as "Jeopardy" host.  I loved his voice and his presence, and I thought he moved the game along a bit better than Trebek.  Be that as it may.  Alex Trebek is enjoying an amazing run on one of TV's more difficult shows to host.

Alex Trebek went public with his pancreatic cancer diagnosis on Wednesday.  Wow!  That's a tough one.  The odds are not the greatest.  Let's pray for the best.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Crinkle in Time

I started in television not long after film had disappeared.  My first stories were shot on 3/4 inch video tape.  There was a transition to High 8 and then Beta, which was an excellent format.

There is a part of a reporter story called the "stand up."  It's just what the name implies.  The stand up bridges between elements, or puts a nice ending on the story.  Back in the video tape days, you always did at least two takes on the stand up, in case you rolled over a flawed section of the tape.  It happened.

We dropped video tape years ago.  Out stories are shot on electronic video cards.

Old habits die hard.

To this day, I always do a second take on a stand up, even if the first one is flawless, and I always say the same thing to the photographer:  "In case there's a crinkle in the tape."  After getting strange looks from some of the younger people on the staff, I had to explain what you just read in the paragraphs above. 

The kids think I'm a crazy old man.  The veterans get a chuckle out of it because they remember those days.

I guess you had to be there.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It Makes You Wonder

By now, you know the story of the big box discount store chain that employed a man in the Selinsgrove area, with cerebral palsy, to be a greeter.   The company decided to change the requirements for the job, adding responsibilities the man could not physically perform.

The public cried "foul."  The company relented and created a new position-- self service check out host.  The man keeps working.  Happy ending.

Here's what gets my goat.  The same story was repeated at other locations around the country.  It's stunning to believe that in these days of social media and quick public outcry that a company can be so insensitive and tone deaf to the needs of its community.

The head of the company finally put out a directive that steps should be taken to make sure current employees still have a job, even if the duties change.  Why didn't you think of that in the first place?  Did you really think that kicking current employees with special needs to the street was a good policy?

I should add that the store closest to me recently installed even more self checkout stands.  I wonder if that will translate into fewer jobs.

I'm sure some good did come out of this.

I'm proud of the work done by WNEP's Nikki Krize, who helped bring the Selinsgrove story to light.  Many of entered the news business to help people.  Nikki's reporting was exceptional.

The big plus?  A big company learned to be less stupid in the future.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

I Read the News Today...

I love reading college newspapers.  First of all, there are a great source of story ideas.  Second, I like seeing what young people are thinking about, what concerns them.

I hasten to add that I would have loved to have worked on my school's newspaper, but I was a long haired rock and roll playing disc jockey.  The newspaper back then was under the domain of the English department, and the broadcasters were beneath them.  I am happy to report that it has changed.

A recent opinion piece left me shaking my head.  The school is irrelevant, and I'll explain that in a moment.  A student wrote a piece complaining about the food expense and the lack of grab and go breakfast sandwiches on campus.

If that's the most important thing in your world, then life is pretty good.  A little advice-- set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier and make your own sandwich.

Let me tell you something.  Our area has a dozen colleges and universities, probably more.  I've been reading student newspapers for decades.  Every week, you can find at least one story, in one of those papers, complaining about the campus food and the parking.

Enjoy it while you can.  The real world is coming.

Monday, March 4, 2019

In Memoriam

John Martinelli died last week at the age of 85.  For nearly 30 years, John did my taxes.

Early on, I filled out the paperwork myself.  My situation became a little more complicated.  I went to those pop up places for a couple of years.  One year, I encountered the height of incompetence, walked out, and never went back.  I wrote a letter to management.  The company offered me a free session with one of their best and most experienced people.  I passed.  You had your chance.

A coworker suggested John Martinelli, and it was a perfect match.

Let me tell you about our yearly meetings.  His office was on the second floor of a building on Court Street in Scranton.  You got there by walking up a long staircase.  John had a huge office.  He would always be watching something on the History Channel when I walked in.  The TV would go off so I had his undivided attention.  He was always in a suit, including the jacket.  I'd be on the other side of the desk, jeans, untucked shirt, scruffy.  I felt like a vagrant in comparison, but tax time is stressful for me and I had to be comfortable.  The office was always a little too warm for my tastes.  There were many February afternoons when I would feel the sweat dripping down my back and sides.  It could have been the stress, too.  My first stop, invariably, after one of our sessions, was the mini mart up the street for a huge bottle of water.  My fluids needed replacing.

Our meetings would never begin until he asked me a few personal questions, getting caught up on my life and my work.  John was all business, but he did care about the lives of his clients.  We'd exchange pleasantries over the weather, the world, politics...

While my finances are rather complex, I always had my paperwork ready to go and well organized.  He looked at what I had assembled in my briefcase one day and said "Why can't everybody do that?"  It was the highest compliment.

John would go over everything carefully, meticulously, entering the numbers, printing the forms, making copies, having me sign where necessary.  It was a thing of beauty.  It was neat, and perfect, and he had my complete confidence.  I subscribe to the Tony Kornheiser school of tax returns.  According to Tony, there is one rule:  "Keep me out of jail."  I am happy to report John did that for me, for a very long time.

John Martinelli was not an electronic filing guy.  I'd cut him a check, as well as one for the state and the school district.  The returns would be mailed.  Waiting a tiny bit longer for a refund was no big deal.  John's services were always exceptionally reasonable.  He would have been a bargain at twice the price.

John stopped doing returns just before last year's tax season.  I realized age and health were issues.  I panicked.  A survey of current coworkers put me in the hands of someone who does a fine job.  It isn't the same.  It never will be.

Martinelli family, I am very sorry for your loss.  I'm thankful John was in my corner.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Andy's Angles: Nanticoke Wind

As I noted yesterday, part of my Monday duties was chasing wind damage.  Photographer Paul and I were dispatched to Nanticoke, where there were reports of a building in danger of imminent collapse.

No, not really.

It turns out, some bricks fell from an empty beer distributor at Arch and North Walnut.  You can see the damage at the top of the building to the right of the chimney.  Part of the street was blocked off as a precaution.
One of the people here tipped us to even more damage near by, and that is the photo you see below.

The wind ripped part of the facade from the drive through of First National Bank.  The photo was taken from the Locust Street side.  East Main Street is off to the left.  The bank stayed open.  The drive through closed.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Andy's Angles: Windy Weekend

Sunday and Monday were two of the windiest days in recent memory.  As I said to meteorologist Valerie Smock, during Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning, it was like a tropical storm at the end of winter.
Part of my Monday duties was chasing wind damage, and this was the crown jewel in my travels.  The wind toppled a big sign that stood along Route 315 in Plains Township, at the entrance to the former Sunshine Market.

The sign consisted of heavy, steel girders, and it's amazing how the force of the wind and the weight of the sign snapped the bib bolts at the base.  The sign was too big to haul away in one piece, so a worker with a torch cut it in to pieces.  You can see the sparks next to the man in orange, in the center of the photo.

Friday, March 1, 2019

It's Over!

It's March 1, and that is the start of meteorological spring.  Yes, winter is over.

While our current winter feels awful, that really isn't reflected in the numbers.  Snowfall was below normal.  Temperatures were above normal.  We've only had one crippling snow storm, and that was before Thanksgiving.

March is here.  Signs of spring are everywhere.  Skunks, squirrels, bunnies, longer days, a stronger sun, Ash Wednesday is this week and the St. Patrick's parades are starting.  Daylight saving time begins on the 10th.

Having said, some of our area's biggest snow storms have hit in March, and spring is the start of severe weather season.  Winter still has some life.   As I bang this out, I am looking at some computer models that have a foot of snow possible for Sunday afternoon in to Monday morning.  One thing about a March snow storm-- it usually melts fairly quickly, and there are projections for above normal temperatures for the second half of the month.

In spite of it all, enjoy the day and the month of March.  Warmer weather is slowly approaching.