Sunday, July 31, 2022
Saturday, July 30, 2022
Friday, July 29, 2022
I'm okay with that.
I hung out with friends, took walks, took pictures and got some rest. I washed the car, got a hair cut, and a dental check up. I grew a beard. I shaved off a beard.
Here's what disturbs me a tad. I manage to knock off a book or two every vacation week. It just wasn't in me this time around. Was it the heat? I really don't know.
Maybe I'll get back to reading when my next vacation week rolls around after Labor Day.
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Let me back up for a moment. Even though I had tremendous interest in the documentary on the 50th anniversary of the tropical storm Agnes flood, there was no way I could make to the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre for any of the showings. I did the next best thing, happily paying $20, plus shipping for the DVD.
Before I begin my review, here is something to consider. I viewed it as not only as an interested local resident, but also as a journalist and an editor.
Even though there was a lot of archival material that hadn't been seen in decades, there wasn't much new here. That's OK. It's difficult to uncover new territory in a story fifty years old, one that has been told hundreds, maybe thousands of times. It was great to see and hear local and national broadcasting legends. The images were stunning and powerful, even after all these years. The documentary had a solid beginning middle and end. It told the story from the first rain drops to the "new" Wilkes-Barre. The tears and the frustration of the flood victims are as powerful now as they were fifty years ago.
My main beef was with the contemporary interviews. I can listen to David DeCosmo tell flood stories until the cows come home, and his recollections added a great deal to the documentary. Meteorologist Tom Clark? None better. Unfortunately, other than Mike Stevens, I didn't get much insight or emotion from those new interviews, and some could have, and should have, been cut altogether. There was some emotion in the narration, but it was lost in the torrent of unnecessary facts and superfluous sound bites.
I wanted those "moments." What did it feel like when you knew the fight to hold back the river was over? What was it like seeing the disinterred bodies from the Forty Fort Cemetery? What did you think about during the helicopter tour, as the chopper came over the mountain and entered the valley?
The documentary is a first class work and an exceptionally important project. I'm glad we have it to show generations to come-- where we've been and where we're going.
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
Y'know, one day, Tito Puente will be dead, and you'll say, "Oh, yes, I've been listening to his work for years."
John Winger uttered that famous line in the movie "Stripes" in 1981.
Thankfully, Elton John is still with us and he is conducting his farewell tour.
John has become the Tito Puente of the 20-somethings, running to the concerts and acting like they are responsible for the man's stellar career.
I take you back to December 1979, and a little radio studio on the campus of Marywood College in Scranton. A terrified 17 year old was doing his first air shift, and one of the songs he selected that morning was Elton John's "Lucy in the Sky." For my money, it's just as good as the Beatles' version, if not better.
In case you haven't guessed by now, I was that terrified 17 year old.
As for Elton John, well, I've been listening to his work for years. I had the 45's and 8 tracks long before the 20-somethings were even thought of.
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
If the heat and humidity weren't bad enough, it's been dry. Very, very dry.
People who follow me on social media know I spent part of my Sunday off exploring the new section of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail. It's the part that goes from Parker Street in Scranton to the Throop line.
Some weekend blog and photo entries are in the pipeline, but to illustrate the drought, I took this photo looking upstream, and I'm standing on a large rock placed in the river as part of a pool for fish.
I could have walked across the Lackawanna, so we really can use some rain.
Monday, July 25, 2022
It appears Heinz will still have some advertising at the Pittsburgh football stadium. One of the giant ketchup bottles will remain. I still can't get over the sentimentality over a company that turned its back on Pittsburgh a long time ago.
The United States Postal Service is transitioning to a fleet of electric vehicles. All the postal service needs now is someone to visit my house once in a while to drop off the mail.
The first season of "Soap" was among the funniest ever to appear on American television. Season two was also very good. Rebecca Balding, who played Carol David, died last week. 73. Very pretty-- and funny.
Why is there a constant turn-over in Luzerne County government?
I've long complained about the state of local radio. Sunday, 4 am, a heat warning, potentially dangerous conditions, including storms, and the forecast I heard was more than a day old. #sad.
Friday, July 22, 2022
It is a familiar refrain. No plans. Maybe a little shopping, reading, exercise and photography, and a lot of sleep. There are tentative plans to get together with some friends, and that's always a treat.
The weekend morning broadcasts are in good hands.
I'll call you back later.
Thursday, July 21, 2022
I listen to Tony Kornheiser's podcast, when he does one, about three times a week. He attended summer camp in Wayne County as a kid. From the e-mails Mr. Tony receives, a lot of people, many famous, did the same thing, and also in Wayne County. It appears to be the summer camp capital of the world.
Me? No. Never. Zero desire. I was happy riding my bike around the neighborhood when I was kid. Back yard wiffle ball games. Walking to the corner store for a can of soda and a bag of potato chips. Watching Match Game.
A close friend had a yearly camp experience. The neighborhood wasn't the same while he was away. By the way, he hated it.
Rush Limbaugh used to tell a story about his one and only camp experience. I don't know where it was. There was one unforgettable line in Limbaugh's story: "All I could think about was how much I didn't want to be there."
I'm sure camp is a wonderful thing, but it's not for everyone, and Kornheiser has some very nice things to say about his summers in Wayne County.
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission says unpaid tolls last year totaled $ 155 million, and that's a 48 per cent increase. The state explains away the increase by saying turnpike tolls have increased, as well as the number of drivers using the highway.
No matter how you look at it, nearly seven per cent of the people who drive the highway don't pay tolls.
It's not the first time a problem has cropped up.
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
I'm beginning to feel the same way about heat. No, it's easy to drive in. But, there are other dangerous. Overloaded electrical circuits. Heat stroke. People who overestimate their swimming skills. Serious sun burns.
There is a heat wave in this week's forecast. You know what to do. Stay out of the sun. Stay hydrated. Keep an eye on kids, the elderly and pets. Limit exposure to hot cars. Even though its common sense, there will be a good deal of problems this week.
Bring on autumn.
Monday, July 18, 2022
Who cares? The Steelers will still be there several times a year.
Let's face some facts about Heinz. The company abandoned Pittsburgh a long time ago. While it still has a presence there, the ketchup is made in Iowa and Ohio--not Allegheny County. Most of the corporate functions, since the merger with Kraft, are in Chicago.
Heinz was a Pittsburgh company. Those days are over. The stadium name change is just another sign of that.
Move on. There are more important things to be concerned about.
Sunday, July 17, 2022
It was a tough day for an amateur to shoot. The sun angle wasn't the greatest. Bright sky and black train gave me some issues, but you get the picture. This is a nice locomotive.
Saturday, July 16, 2022
Friday, July 15, 2022
The three warmest months of the year are June, July and August. It means today marks the end of the first half of summer.
Apologies to summer lovers, but the season is not the best for those who work overnights. Heat and light are not our friends. Good air conditioning and dark curtains get me through the summer months, but nothing beats the solid sleep helped by a cool, dark, rainy day.
There are already some hints that we're on the back end of summer. You can feel the days getting a wee bit shorter. It really accelerates when we roll in to August. The days are still hot, but an earlier sunset means the evening cool arrives a little faster.
It won't be long before I'm complaining about the snow.
Thursday, July 14, 2022
Nancy Free died yesterday, and she was my friend.
We met while I was doing a story in Carbondale several years ago, one of those people you instantly liked. We had a lot in common. Brother Gene, who left us several years ago, was in radio. Brother Jim is in radio in upstate New York. She wrote for newspapers and was an avid photographer. I was in radio and I'm a bit of a shutterbug myself.
Nancy was famous for photographing eagles and posting them on Facebook. That's one of her photos above. She also was in Carbondale for every Independence Night celebration and that's one of her photos below.
No one knew more about Carbondale, and no one loved it more. Nancy frequently sent messages tipping me off to something happening in the city, and it was always good news. Nothing negative. That is the type of a woman Nancy was.
There were a few times I stopped in to the Eynon Burger King that she managed before moving on to other challenges. Most of our contact was on-line. Nancy read this blog every day and put a link to it on her Facebook page, providing me with hits I ordinarily wouldn't have.
Nancy had a few health problems over the years. Cancer was a recent diagnosis, and the disease took her quickly. I hope her last days were peaceful and pain free.
Nancy Free loved her family, her pets, her friends, trips to Merli-Sarnoski Park, photography expeditions in the country-- where she enjoyed shooting old barns, and so much more. I am lucky she was part of my life.
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
Sears did the same thing. At least, that company had a good excuse. It closed almost all of its stores.
I've always been a "cash" guy, especially for small purchases. Unfortunately, my favorite mini mart is constantly understaffed, forcing me to head for the self service machines, more often than not. I hate whipping out the card for a $ 1.69 soda, but if it gets me out the door faster...
You never know when a Big Mac attack will strike, and I found myself driving through at 2:30 AM on a recent morning. Apparently, Ronald was having computer and/or internet issues. The disembodied voice over the speaker asked if it was okay to pay cash. Of course it was. By the way, the Mac was awesome.
I've had a few gas station credit cards, even before the current situation arrived. Being a frugal lad, saving a few cents on a gallon was appealing. By the end of the year, I will have saved enough for a stick of gum. Juicy Fruit!
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
That brings us to the Pittsburgh situation.
Heinz is not renewing the deal to put its name on the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The new organization to pony up the cash is Acrisure. It's a financial services company based in Michigan.
I do realize what organizations get out of stadium and arena naming rights-- the name gets plenty of exposure to people who go to the games, and those who watch on television.
It comes down to this. I never bought Heinz ketchup because its name was on a stadium. My choice of a bank was never influenced by naming rights. Ring Central is on the old Oakland Coliseum. That is a product marketed to businesses.
No doubt that a business that buys naming rights thinks its a good deal. I'm skeptical.
Monday, July 11, 2022
What can you say about James Caan? Comedy and drama. Movies and television. He was a giant. If you need a laugh, check out his appearance in an episode of "Newsradio." James Caan was 82.
Larry Storch died at the age of 99. His role as CPL Randolph Agarn on "F Troop" lasted for only two seasons. Great show. Fantastic theme. Everyone was funny, but Storch had the tough job of being second banana. As I have said here many times before, getting laughs in a secondary role is tough.
Unfortunately, this one might have slipped through the cracks, and that's too bad. Adam Wade died last week. He was a singer, musician and actor. Wade also hosted a game show for a few months in 1975. It was called "Musical Chairs." No, it wasn't like the kids game. It was a test of musical knowledge with a band and live performers on stage. CBS taped the show at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. I'll level with you. The show wasn't very good and CBS yanked it after about four months. Regardless, Wade made history as the first Black network game show host. Adam Wade was 87 years old.
Sunday, July 10, 2022
This one is still creepy, but a little less so than the one in the header and featured here yesterday.
I pass by Colfax and Mulberry in Scranton all the time. There is an empty lot where the school used to be, and it's controlled by the adjacent hospital.
When the school closed, the school district said it would cost too much to get rid of the mold and make other necessary repairs.
Saturday, July 9, 2022
I was wrong.
Stone gnomes taken from the school are on display at Nay Aug Park, just a block away from the school that closed in 2010.
Friday, July 8, 2022
Let's go back to late last year. I whined at how a local hardware store chain repeatedly advertised a color changing red, green and white Christmas light bulb. Yet, when you visited the store, and I stopped by more than one, they were never in stock. What made it even worse, the staff didn't give a rat's behind. They were unapologetic and unprofessional. As you might remember, I eventually found a few and the story had a happy ending. At the time, I also purchased a color changing red, white and blue light bulb. I stashed it away, and I actually remembered where I put it. I had one of the most festive front porches in the area. I wish more people bought the bulbs rather than fireworks.
That brings us to our second item. The state is trying to fix its bad fireworks law. Every mayor, police chief, and fire chief in the state thinks the fireworks need to go. The amended law gives local municipalities more control. The amended law and the current one are laughable. Enforcement is non existent. The situation is out of control. Follow the money. Fireworks bring in tax revenue. So what if someone's house burns down?
I mentioned last week that Back to School sales start right after Independence Day. During a visit to a big box store Wednesday morning, the staff was filling the shelves with pens, notebooks and backpacks. That sight used to make me sick to my stomach as a kid. But then again, in my day, the sales didn't start until mid August.
Our friends at the Allentown Morning Call reported the last Long John Silver's in the Lehigh Valley closed. Holy cow! That chain was everywhere at one time, and we are down to only a few stores here in our area. I admit to liking it, but it's a treat for only a few times a year. Delicious, but on the heavy and oily side.
And one last food issue, before I hit "publish" for the day. Wendy's decided to try breakfast again, and then the pandemic hit. There is a Wendy's across the street from the Golden Arches on a highway near my home. McDonald's would have a line of cars around the building while Wendy's was a ghost town. I couldn't figure it out. I thought the Wendy's food, albeit heavy and salty, was quite a bit better. During a recent errand mission, I noticed Wendy's was generating a lot of traffic. Maybe, it just took people a while to notice the new breakfast menu.
Thursday, July 7, 2022
The last time was in a pool was for that swimming class my college inflicted upon us. I passed. Barely. I wasn't a water person before, during, or after.
I do like looking at it. I really enjoy photographing it. Jumping in? Boating on? Pass.
I'm happy reading a book, and I hope to a crack one or two during my time off toward the end of the month.
By the way, today's graphic is the alchemy symbol for water.
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Are you kidding me? Oakland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Washington can't, or won't field, competitive teams. The talent pool will be diluted even more. The league should be contracting rather than expanding.
Follow the money. Expansion is another way to get more money out of the television networks and streaming services.
On a similar note, USC and UCLA join the college Big Ten conference in a couple of years. It doesn't make geographic sense, but it does make economic sense. It puts the network in the top three media markets in the country. That translates into a much fatter television contract the next time around.
I remember when the Indiana people flipped out when Penn State wanted to join. Administration reasoned that State College is impossible to reach easily. An expanded airport fixed that. How about the new travel mode, when Rutgers has to fly to Los Angeles?
Of course, it would make sense if the Big Ten can fill in some schools between the current westernmost team, Nebraska, and Los Angeles. I fully expect that to happen, and there will probably be more west coast teams jumping in.
For the record, and there are very few who agree with me, I always wanted to see Penn State in the ACC. Games against Syracuse, Pitt, Virginia, North Carolina and Boston College would be a lot of fun. With a new round of conference realignments on the way, it looks like the ACC is headed for extinction.
The roar of the crowd will be drowned out by the ring of the cash resister.
And before I go for the day, some might consider competitive eating a sport, like the July 4th hot dog eating contest. I consider it disgusting.
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Back in the day, politics would take the summer off. We would have the May primary, and it would be quiet until Labor Day. then, the campaigning and the commercials would ramp up until the November general election.
My friends, those days are over and, they are never coming back.
Campaigning for the general election began right after the last votes were counted after the primary. There are no more election season and election cycles. It's become a 24/7/365 business.
Expect to see the first presidential candidates dipping their toes in the water after we see the make up of the new house and senate on election night in November.
It never ends.
Monday, July 4, 2022
This is a reminder that maintaining freedom never ends. It's the Nay Aug Park, Scranton monument to some men who never came home from the War on Terror.
Enjoy the day, but the holiday is more than barbecues and fireworks.
Sunday, July 3, 2022
Saturday, July 2, 2022
This is one of the park pavilions, a little weather worn, but still looking pleasant and old fashioned on a summer morning.
The park is a great resource, albeit underutilized. It's now mostly a parking lot for a hospital. However, a swimming area renovation is in the works. Plus, there are concerts and shows here on most summer weekends.
On this Independence Day weekend, think of family time and pleasant summer days.
Friday, July 1, 2022
Ukraine has been pushed off page one by high gasoline prices, a faltering economy, violence and Supreme Court decisions.
Those are all important things, but don't let this one drop off the radar.
The photo above was taken Tuesday morning on North 7th Avenue in Scranton.