Monday, November 30, 2020


I grew up, and started working at a time when the government mandated that broadcasting companies couldn't own more than seven AM, seven FM, and seven TV stations at a time.  There are now companies that own more than one thousand radio stations and hundreds of television stations.

When I was growing up, you could advertise cigarettes on TV, but you couldn't advertise hard liquor.  It's now reversed.

Later, many broadcasters wouldnt accept condom ads, but they would allow shady operations, like psychic hotlines, to advertise.

You were forbidden to talk about gambling on the air.  Now, there are entire radio networks dedicated to placing bets.

Posessing marijuana was a crime.  Now, it's a state's way out of the financial hole.

Fireworks were banned.  Now, most neighborhood resemble war zones on Independence Day, the days before and the days after.  Follow the money.

What's next?  The imagination runs wild.

Times certainly have changed.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Andy's Angles: A Little Older


Different train than yesterday, but the same goal-- try to blur the background while shooting something big.  Needless to say, this shot didn't come out the way I had hoped, but it's still pretty to look at.

While I do love yesterday's black, green, and gold Reading diesel, this is also one of my favorites.  I can see this one under countless Christmas trees, or taking Uncle Joe Carson on a ride out of Hooterville.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Andy's Angles: Going Big


This is another shot from my mid October experimenting with depth of field and the kit lens that came with my camera many years ago.  The intent was a sharp front of the train with some blur in the back.  I wanted to see how it would work with a huge object.  The technique is mostly associated with portraiture.

Mixed results.  The front of the engine, one of my favorities in the Steamtown collection, was nice and clear.  You can see some deliberately out of focus in the distance, especially the buildings on the right.

I'm sure a better photographer could have done a better job, but it's a decent shot, nonetheless.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Black Friday


Regular readers will remember that Black Friday is always one of my most despised days of the year-- a day dedicated to crowds, noise, excess and stress.

I already heard it once this morning, on the radio.  The broadcaster said Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year.  False!  It's actually the last Saturday before Christmas.  Although, this year, nothing is for certain.

Having said all that, the door of the penalty box swings open this year.  A good Black Friday could provide a much needed boost to the economy and get people working.  I do know many families who view Christmas shopping as a togetherness sport, and we can all use a little more of that.  And during this difficult time, no one can turn down a bargain.

Whatever you do today, do it safely.  Think of all the people working in retail.  Those are tough jobs-- even more so this year.

Good luck.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020


This year has been beyond horrible and there is no need for a review of the details here.

All I ask on this Thanksgiving is to find one tiny thing for which to be thankful.

Make the best of the day.  Be safe.

I'll call you back tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Travel Day 2020


Today is the day before Thanksgiving, traditionally one of the busiest travel days of the year.

I'm sure the current situation will have an impact.  Most colleges and universities are shutting down for the semester, so you have to factor in that traffic.  The experts say to avoid large gatherings, but you can keep people cooped up for only so long.  That recommendation doesn't carry much weight.  It's been months of cabin fever and I do know a lot of people who say "enough."  Early anecdotal evidence shows crowded highways and airports.  In the days to come, we'll see if people actually stayed home and avoided large gatherings.

I'm lucky.  I don't have to travel.  If the weather cooperates, I'll play with my camera somewhere tomorrow morning, but that's a solo activity and in the great outdoors.  It's my Thanksgiving tradition.  I also expect to start working on the annual Top Ten photo countdown.  As of this writing, Thanksgiving morning looks rainy, so the camera might stay in the bag.

No lectures from me other than to say "make good choices."

In case you're wondering, today's photo is Interstate 81 in Dunmore, looking north.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Mine Was Green


I don't know if my folks bought mine at Samters, but I had one of these.

The ad is about fifty years old, and $34 was a bit much to spend on a winter coat.  Heck, with sales going on these days, a decent coat from Land's End isn't much more here in 2020.

I remember it vividly-- sort of a military-esque shade of green, with an orange lining.  It was warm, but bukly and uncomfortable-- and every kid had one.  It was at a transitional time in winter outwear.  Wool was on the way out.  Nylon and other synthetics were on the way in.

I do not recall wearing it long or often, perhaps it was because I was a kid and I outgrew it.

Having a survival jacket was as close as I ever got to the Air Force.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monday Scrapple


I miss the days when malls had fountains.

I miss the days when malls had stores.

My phones are blissfully quiet now that the election is over.

We had some great autumn days, but as always, fall doesn't last long enough.

That splash of green provided by the big bank sign high atop a downtown Wilkes-Barre building will be missed.

I've never traveled in an electric car.

It's always frustrating when you have the time and the itch to play with the camera-- and it's raining.

It happened at the beginning of September.  ABC' "World News Tonight" went back to a more traditional version of its theme music, and I'm thrilled.  Those four opening notes really get your attention.

Destructive?  Yes, but squirrels are fascinating to watch.

There is nothing like finding a jacket with a tek pocket big enough to hold a phone and a pair of glasses.

David Letterman was on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel.  Still wickedly funny.  How I miss him!

During a recent drive through Lackawanna, Wayne and Pike Counties...  there must be a Dollar General every two miles.

America's toasted sub fascination seems to have waned, but the salted caramel thing remains.

Why do we care about what Harry Styles wears?

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Andy's Angles: Man Made Stars

I was doing some test shots from the old Dickson City KMart parking lot in July, as I prepared to make an attempt at photographing a sunrise.

I choked down the f stop to cut down on the amount of light hitting the sensor.  When you do that, this happens.  Points of light become starbursts.  Round in person.  Spikey on camera.

Yes, it's a mediocre shot, but I do like the man made stars.  The scary part is, I'm beginning to recognize the technique in the work of others.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Andy's Angles: Skyliner

Scranton doesn't have much of a skyline, especially a night.  There are some beautiful buildings in the daylignt-- the Lackawanna County Courthouse, the train station, Bank Towers, The Scranton Times building, Community Bank at Lackawanna and North Washington, the Scranton Life building, the Mercantile Building...

At night, they disappear.  However, there is a nice selection lights in the valley as you look down from above.

As a point of reference, look for the three red vertical lights at the center of the photo.  That's the WEJL tower at Penn and Spruce.

This photo will not go down as one of my better ones.  It was taken in late July, so I have some summer time haze hanging over the valley, and the Business Route 6 utility lines don't help.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Andy's Angles: The Lake


It's a little break from trains for the next three days.

I'd hate to say a visit to Lake Wallenpaupack was a disappointment, but I hoped for more.

This is a shot from the observation area along Route 590.  I took it the morning of November 4.  I put some land in the shot, just for a little color and visual interest.

The lake was low.   No boats.  No birds and other assorted wildlife.  Quiet.

The trip wasn't a total loss.  It was a beautiful day and I hadn't been to the lake in several months.  It was nice to get away-- even if it was for a little while.

Thursday, November 19, 2020



I won't say I was wrong, but I will say I have changed my way of thinking.

When the weather turned cool, a couple of coworkers and I started talking about vests.  They were fans.  I wasn't.  My reasoning-- your extremities lose heat first.  Why leave them exposed?  The other side of the argument is that vests keep your core warm.

Being a fair and open minded individual, I ordered a couple of vests from that big on-line company.  One puffy, one fleece.  Black.  Basic black.

I have to admit I like them.  They are comfortable in which to drive.  I've worn them on photography expeditions.  Great mobility.  Big pockets.   I love that.

Of course, they work when the weather is moderate, not really freaking cold.  I'll have to layer something over them when it goes well below freezing.

I will have to call my initial vest experiment a success.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Last One


It's Sleeping Homer's last appearance of 2020, and that means another vacation week is starting.

Yes, I've had a lot of time off in recent months.  There are two reasons.  First, I didn't take off any time during the lockdown back in the spring and summer.  Second, our owner has a different way of configuring time off.  I'll spare you the details, but it all basically goes in one bucket and I have yet to take a sick day.  The end of the year is approaching, so I have to burn it all off, and in a hurry.

If things are close to normal next year, I'll space out my weeks a little better.

No plans for the time off.  I do have enough seniority to get Thanksgiving weekend off, but I'd rather see my coworkers who have to travel get the free time.

Elizabeth Worthington gets the anchor chair this weekend.  Thank you.

We'll talk later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

I Wear My Sunglasses At Night


I've used this space to rail against people who insist on using their high beam headlights at all times, even when it blinds the driver coming in the opposite direction, even when the beams bounce off your rear view mirror.  Plus, newer vehicles seem to have stronger headlights, even in the "low" setting.

Enough!  I do a lot of driving at night and I can no longer stand the frustration.  It's getting even worse because the nights are getting longer, and more people are becoming even more considerate, if that's even possible.

It was time to take action.  I invested in a pair of those night vision glasses, the ones with the strong yellow tint.

I am happy to report they actually work!  Yes, a product does as advertised.

The ultimate solution would be some common courtesy.

Monday, November 16, 2020

16 Years!


This blog is 16 years old today.

It started in 2004 as a way to get more original material in to  It's evolved over the years.  A little opinion.  A little analysis.  A little commentary.  A little behind the scenes.  A little venting.  A little explaining.  A lot of photography, and yes, a lot of trains.

We get a solid 250 hits just about every day.  Thank you.  A friend shares these posts to her Facebook page.  Thank you.  I get some nice comments when I meet people on the street.  Thank you.

There are days when I can bang out several entries at once.  There are days when it's a struggle doing one.  Everybody needs an outlet and this is it.  The writing is rather pedestrian.  I don't see a Pulitzer in my future, but I do get my points across.  The photos aren't going to win any awards, either, and that's OK.  I learned a long time ago that the best sentence is a simple one.  No one will ever complain if you make something too easy to understand.  The photos are average, at best.  I think and I hope you get the idea of what I was trying to show when you see the shot.

Thank you for being part of the ride for the last 16 years.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Andy's Angles: Smooth

I will admit that I adjusted this one a bit in post.

I changed the shutter speed to 1/4 of a second so I could deemphasize the movement of the water.

While that worked, the shot was overexposed.  I played with all the settings, trying to get the magic combination, and I still couldn't get anything that made me happy.

Thank heaven for editing software.

Like yesterday, these are the fountains in the pond in front of the Everhart Museum at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  It's a summer time shot.

I'll keep trying.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Andy's Angles: Choppy

As you might have guessed by now, I've grown very fond of shooting moving water with a fast shutter speed.

These are fountains in front of the Everhart Museum at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.  Clearly, it was taken during the summer.

Shutter speed:  1/250.  You can see every drop, every ripple, every bubble.

I've been making a lot of mistakes with this technique, sort of swinging for the fences.  I've been going too fast with the pictures I want to be choppy, and too slow with the ones I want to be smooth.  Live and learn.

You know what's coming tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Andy's Angles: Last Leaf


I am very hard on myself when it comes to photography.  It's rare that I get a shot and say "Jeez O'Pete, I really like that one."

Today, it's the exception to the rule-- blessed simplicity.  Yellow, sunlit leaf against a web of brown branches and a blue sky.  I like it.

The story?  I was shooting along the Lackawanna River at Archbald Tuesday morning, and I captured some very nice scenes.  I was walking back to my car when this caught my eye-- the last leaf on a tree, the branch just over my head.  The sun was hitting it perfectly.

I tried the shot a few different ways-- blurred and sharp.  Below is the "sharp" version.

I like the blurred background version a bit better.  The sharp is still pretty good.  Some might suggest it's better and I get that.  It seems more "alone" in the second photo.

 I'm not a big "supernatural" person, but I do think there are times when there are messages in the things we see around us.  Is this a sign to keep hanging on, and hanging in?

I'll be thinking about this one for a while.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Legal Eagle

It's happened to me twice in recent weeks, as I tried to take pictures of people rather than things.

Let's talk about the law.

I was taking pictures of people changing light bulbs in Christmas displays at Nay Aug Park in Scranton.

A couple of days later, I was taking photos of a network news set up at Nesbitt Park in Wilkes-Barre.

A man at Nay Aug Park thought I should have him sign a release for use of his image.

The network tried to kick me out of Nesbitt Park.

It all comes down to this.  It's called a "reasonable expectation of privacy," as the law defines it.

If you are in a public park, or on a street, or being led out of a police station in handcuffs, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

If you are in your home, if you are in a store fitting room, if you are in a mall rest room, you DO have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

In my hobbyism, if that's a word, and in my professional career, I've had a lot of people say "I'd rather not be photographed."  If it can be done, I will gladly accomodate.

I do know a few other people who take photos as a hobby, and it's safe to say we are all alike.  There is no intent to disrupt or cause problems.  We're just out to have a little bit of fun and document an event.  In my case, I'm simply trying to become a better photographer.

There is usually an introduction to the people involved before the first shutter snap.

Courtesy goes a long way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day


No pontificating today.  No lectures.  No silly photos.

Just a request.

Remember what the day is all about.


Thank you.

My alma mater, Marywood, did its annual Field of Flags along North Washington Avenue this week.  I took the picture you see above yesterday morning.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Make Me Smile


I feared the worst.

My last dental check up, scheduled for six months ago, was canceled because of the current situation.

My dentist called last week to reschedule, and Thursday was the day.

The office looked the same, but different.  It was always spotless, but there were new clear dividers everywhere.  It was just a wave from the dentist, rather than the customary handshake.  The staff, friendly and professional, as always.  We made our small talk from beneath masks.

So, after being away for a year, how did I do?  There were no issues.  No cavaties.  Some old fillings still solid as a rock.  Crowns are where they should be.  Nothing broke in the last year.


See you in six months.

I hope we can shake hands next time.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Alex Trebek


We knew this day would come.  It doesn't make it any easier.  Alex Trebek lost his battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday.  He was 80 years old/

A Canadian, Trebek had been on American television just about constantly since the 70's.  He hosted a string of game shows, most forgettable.  Who remembers "Battlestars" and "Double Dare?"  I have to be honest with you.  I always thought Trebek delivered a wooden performance, but I will give him credit for making the show the star, and not getting in the way of the contestants.  He did move a game along nicely.

A "Jeopardy!" remake came along in 1984, and it was the perfect fit.  For someone who grew up with the great Art Fleming behind the "Jeopardy!" podium, it was a difficult adjustment, but Fleming was deliciously old school.  Trebek was the perfect host for the updated version.  The proof:  "Jeopardy!" has been at or near the top of the ratings for nearly forty years.

When all is said and done, the ratings, the Emmy awards, the accolades...  It's all secondary.  Alex Trebek will be remembered for the dignified way he fought his illness.  He shared his story and his struggles, and I'm sure Alex Trebek will serve as an encouragement and an inspiration to others.

I also have to note the weekend passing of comedian Norm Crosby.  93.  His act centered around one thing, malaprops.  A one note comedian can be tiring, but Crosby always had the ability to make me laugh.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Andy's Angles: More Trains

You can never have too many trains, but there was a purpose to the expedition.

This was part of new 40 mm lens test day.

It's good with background blur.  I wanted to see how it did with landscape work.

f /11 here, and everything came out crisp and clear.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Andy's Angles: Diesels

It is one of my favorite blog lines, and here it comes again:  "It's been a while since I inflicted train photos on you."

I spotted this line of colorful diesels in Scranton, on a recent summer Sunday morning.  They were parked near the Steamtown National Historic Site.

A little more train action tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2020

About the Cover: The Bridge


It was a familiar trip, yet different.

First, the differences.  No matter how many times I have photographed the Tunkhannock Viaduct, also known as the Nicholson Bridge, I see something different.  Plus, this was my first trip there with my relatively new 24 mm wide angle lens.  I wanted to see what it could do, using a variety of settings and f stops.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning where I live, so I jumped in the car with my camera bag, looking forward to a great morning.  It started going down hill when I got off Interstate 81 north at Route 374.  Fog.  Low clouds.  This has happened to me before.  A nice morning in one county is a grey mess in an adjacent one.  It was still foggy when I made the turn on to Route 92 south.  I knew the trees were past their peak, but that was OK.  I was there for the bridge and that lens test.

The fog cleared a bit when I arrived at the location you see above, Route 1031.  I wish I had some blue sky to work with, but the reflection in Tunkhannock Creek was better than usual.  Thank you, drought.  Low water.  No movement.  It was like a mirror.

The actual header photo was taken from the Route 11 side of the bridge.  Again, blue sky would have been nice, but I was okay with what I had.

As for the 24 mm lens, it gets a passing grade here, not much different from the kit lens.  More tests ahead.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

It's Over!


The words I never thought I would say:  "I'm thrilled the baseball season is over."

The 60 game extravaganza was just a meaningless, soulless, sad experience.  Every at bat seemed to be a strike out or a home run.  Some good teams made the playoffs.  Some bad ones did, too.  60 games is not a true test of a team's talent and skill.

And we can't forget the silly automatic runner on second base for extra innings and seven inning double headers.

When all is said and done, the TV ratings for the World Series will be an all-time low.  The series went six games.  The Series still did better than normal programming.  Don't cry for our friends at FOX.  The network made money.

Congratulations to the new world champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Having said all that, I do understand why things played out as they did.I just wish I had a better feeling for 2021.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Day After


Well, here is is, just after midnight and I wish I had more to talk about.

Here is what we do know.  

Outside of Lackawanna County, Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania appears to be Trump Country.  The Democratic party had better sit up and take notice, regardless of who becomes president.  Has the Democratic party gone too far left for middle America?

Bridget Malloy Kosierowski defeated James May in the 114th.  I am not alone in saying I'm surprised the media savvy May didn't run a more active campaign.  It appears he was hoping President Trump's popularity would carry him over the top.  As it turns out, Trump didn't do well in Lackawanna County.  I'm sure being the face of the organization you love to hate, Penndot, didn't help James May.

Tim Twardzik used great name recognition to launch to victory in the 123rd.

Tara Toohill crushed the political comeback of Todd Eachus in the 116th.  Impressive vote total.

Everything else, as I write this, looks too close to call, or there aren't enough numbers in yet.

I will say this:  Was this election a surprise?  The early morning hours were filled with calls about polling places and machinery, throughout the area, being down.  You deserve better.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day


It's finally here!  Election Day 2020 has arrived.

My plans?   Nothing really out of the unusual.  After work, I'll visit my polling place, go home, have lunch, take a long nap and get up in time to watch my colleagues report the results.

My body clock has been thrown off a bit.  It's because of the time change and pulling an extra overnighter yesterday.  I hope I can stay up.  It's something a few extra Diet Pepsi's can cure.

There should be updates here and other social media platforms throughout the morning.  I hope for a little analysis and a few thoughts tomorrow morning.   One thing learned in recent years-- the unconventional is now the convential.

I hope there are results to report.  Mail in voting and counting, in huge numbers, presents a big set of challenges.

Stay safe.  Vote!

And, happy birthday to ABC's "Good Morning America."  It aired for the first time 45 years ago today.

>>>12:45 PM UPDATE:    I voted after work and was number 180 in my precinct.  High.  I expected higher.  Of course, that doesn't factor in mail-in ballots.  There was no line.  I breezed in and out.

Good luck to poll workers, the people back at the all the county offices around the area,  and my colleagues.  We are in for an interesting night.

Be well and stay safe!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Breaking Point


I've become one of those people who screams at the radio, television, and computer monitor.  Most of my recent ire is aimed at alleged political analyists.

Here is what's causing my BS/fraud detector to sound lately.

"This is the most important election of our lifetime."  Of course it is.  They all are.  In many cases, the off year elections are important than the presidential contests.  That's when we elect the "locals."  Those are the men and women who control our municipal services, our schools, our taxes, our public safety...

"This election depends on turnout."  Of course it does.  Every election depends on turnout.

"This is a referendum on..."  You think?  Every election is a referendum on the incumbent and the party in power.

"Voters want change."  Yes.  Sometimes.  Look at the people we keep sending back to city halls, courthouses, state houses, and Washington every cycle.  More often than not, we settle for the status quo.  One exception to the "change" thing jumps out.  George Bush was elected president in 1988 because people wanted a third Reagan term.  Plus, the Democrats nominated a weak candidate who ran a lousy campaign.  The "change" thing came back around four years later.

Even presidential "rout" years, like 64, 72, 80, and 84 were fascinating.  How big would the margin be?  Why was one candidate loved and the other so soundly rejected?

Vote your head.  Vote your heart.  Pay no attention to those who think they know what they're talking about.

And I should note that commercial radio began in the United States 100 years ago tonight, when KDKA in Pittsburgh broadcast presidential election results.  As a story in Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette read, it was the night that Pittsburgh transformed the world.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Andy's Angles: Curved


Above is another shot from a recent attempt at improving light streak techniques.

The shot was taken along Route 315 in Pittston Township.  This has become one of my "go to" locations.  First, you're in a parking lot, safely above the road.  Second, it's near a truck stop, busy 24/7.  Third, tractor trailers make great light streaks because they have so many lights, and at different levels.

I wouldn't call this a particularly great shot.  There wasn't much traffic at the time, but I do like the curved streaks, hanging in mid air.