Thursday, November 30, 2023

Second Guessing, and Henry Kissinger


There have been times I've written blog entries just before midnight, but most of the time, they are done days in advance.  This program allows me to choose when they appear here.

Something has changed.

In the past, I'd write and go.  Now, it's different.

I'll go back and look at entries that are in the queue.  Change.  Adjust.  Tinker.  Tweak.  I'm not sure if it's just a phase, or if things will be different until this blog comes to an end.

It has been said that good books are edited, not written.  I'll go along with that, somewhat.  While this is not a book, it is a little chapter, with one appearing daily.  I've never seen a news story, even my own, that I wouldn't change-- at least a wee bit.

When I read, watch movies, tv shows, or documentaries, I am keen to things that would have improved the product by being deleted.

Yes, less is more.

And before I pad this entry with more useless words, it's time to hit the "publish" button.

We'll talk tomorrow.

But a late add...

Has an unelected official in this country ever wielded more power and influence than Henry Kissinger?  The former Secretary of State died yesterday at the age of 100.  And, yes, I know President Ford was unelected.  There is a very short list in that power category,  The Soviet Union, the Middle East, China, Vietnam.  The world would have been a very different place.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Wednesday Scrapple


Heinz is coming out with pickle flavored ketchup next year.  Color me intrigued.  I'm a fan of the Heinz habanero ketchup.  The heat cuts through the sickening sweetness of the regular stuff.

Every once in a while, I mention a song where you remember the lyrics, even if you haven't heard it in several years.  Today's entry:  Steve Martin's "King Tut."

I don't cook or bake, but I really love all the seasonal things that pop up in supermarkets at this time of year.

It is the yearly ritual in Pittsburgh. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is losing control of the team.  Nothing new here.  Move along.

Why do we bother to have speed limits?

Microsoft is really dropping the ball when it comes to catching phishing emails.

I am thankful for many things in life.  One of the big ones:  shots and needles never bothered me.

Presidential election polls, a year before the vote, really don't mean much, but they are fascinating.

The Grammy awards will be handed out in February.  Save the time.  Just give everything to Taylor Swift.

I do like cooler weather.  Still, the first time putting on a winter coat can be depressing.  The same goes for the first frosty windshield scrape of fall.

It sounds funny, but there is only one hair cut left for me before the start of the new year.

Even though it came out way back in 1986, I am shocked at the number of broadcasters who have not read Linda Ellerbee's first book, "And So It Goes."  It should be required reading for every college media student.

"Elf on the Shelf" was entertaining for about 14 seconds.

The Major League Baseball owners approved the Athletics moving from Oakland to Las Vegas.  That city never supported the team, but the weasel owner never gave them anything to support.

Les Nessman's "The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement" line always puts me on the floor.

Jimmy Kimmel is hosting the Academy Awards next year, his fourth time.  Is the talent pool in America really that shallow?

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Fat Cat Christmas


It made me smile.

Most of morning meteorologist Joe Snedeker's pointing themes come and go without much interest from me.  They're amusing, and I enjoy most, but they really don't have much of an impact on my life and work flow.

I will admit to having some input into the recent "Babushkat" pointer theme.

I like cats.  Every one is different.

That's why I was thrilled Joe is bringing back "Fat Cat Christmas."  It was one of the most successful pointing themes of all time.  It is just what the name says.  People send in photos of their overweight cats celebrating the holiday season.  This is the 10th anniversary of "Fat Cat Christmas," so this seemed like an opportune time for a return.

I had no suggestion into the selection, but this cat was chosen as the winner in 2013.  It is Mr. Bynx and Ashley.  Bynx wasn't really fat.  He had a really thick coat, and Ashley is a delightful owner.  Our news director at the time is also a cat lover.  He arranged for a gift pack from a pet store, so Bynx didn't leave that morning empty handed, or empty pawed.

So, get your photos ready.  Maybe I'll be around on the morning 2023's winner comes in for a visit, and there will be another photo to add to my collection.

Merry Fat Cat Christmas!

Monday, November 27, 2023



courtesy:  NY Times

I was a David Letterman fan even before the groundbreaking, but ill fated 1980 NBC morning show.  His appearances on the "Tonight" show were great, and Dave was hitting the game show circuit for a while.  It was young, but vintage Letterman-- wise and snarky, but he took the games, like Password and Pyramid seriously, trying to win money for the contestants.

Letterman left "Late Show" on CBS in 2015.  He's made sporadic appearances on talk shows and I've enjoyed every shot.  When Letterman retired, he said he was never coming back to The Ed Sullivan Theater because he didn't want to see other people living his life.  I can understand that.  I've made visits to old work places, with mixed feelings.

Letterman went back to his old show last week, and I'm sorry he did.  The NY Times speculates a recent podcast cleared the air between new host Stephen Colbert and Letterman.  There might have been some hard feelings in the past because CBS was talking to Colbert well before Letterman announced his retirement.

Be that as it may, Letterman lifted his embargo in a show that aired the night of November 20.

While I'm a huge Letterman fan, I hate the direction of Colbert's "Late Show."  He had a great start, attempting a nice, down the middle talk show.  He seemed Carson-esque to me.  It turns out, Colbert didn't have the chops for that, so it was back to his old "Colbert Report" schtick, but with a new name.  Regardless of how you feel about the 45th president of the United States, a nightly 60 minutes of "Trump sucks" gets old, fast, and it's lowest common denominator television.  

I hasten to add that Colbert's ratings went up when he went back to all politics, all the time.

It was a solid appearance.  Colbert and Letterman avoided politics.  There was plenty of talk about the old days, which I enjoyed beyond belief.  Watching Dave sit behind the desk again brought a tear to my eye.  He is one of the greats.  Letterman had nothing to plug or promote.  He was just there to chat and share some memories.

Appearing on Colbert's "Late Show" meant Letterman gave it his blessing, which is undeserved.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Andy's Angles: I Didn't Cheat


Same fishing pier railing as yesterday, except in another direction, here at the Lackawanna River in Archbald.

There is a big difference.

Yesterday, I arranged the leaves myself.  Today, this is the way they fell.

It feels good to be honest for a change.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Andy's Angles: I Cheated


I've been a bad boy.

These are leaves on a fishing pier railing, along the Lackawanna River in Archbald.

They didn't fall that way.  I placed them here.

It's the recreation of a shot I do every year, and maybe I'll be honest in 2024.

Enjoy the final weekend of meteorological autumn!

Friday, November 24, 2023

Black Friday and the Steelers


Today is Black Friday, one of my least favorite days of the year.

It's filled with crowds, hustle, bustle, excess, and stress-- everything I hate.

Black Friday isn't what it used to be.  Many stores start Black Friday type specials and sales before Thanksgiving.  The internet also chipped away at the crowds you will see in stores this year.  One year, we will no longer refer to this day as "Black Friday."  It will simply be what it once was-- the day after Thanksgiving.  No work.  Football.  Relaxation.

As I always say, if you enjoy the day, go for it.  If you can save a couple of bucks battling the crowds, be my guest.  I know people who treat Black Friday as a family fun event, and I admire your pluck.

I'll safely be watching from home, and we'll visit again tomorrow.

Before I hit "publish" for the day, you might remember I was always a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.  I gave up on the team after they signed Michael Vick as a back up quarterback several years ago.  I was done, and I recall saying "I hope they never win another game.  Ever."  That is still true.

It's why I found this week's Pittsburgh problems most entertaining.  Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was fired after half a season of mediocre performances.  People are beginning to realize Kenny Pickett is no Terry Bradshaw.  The odd thing was they saw Ben Roethlisberger was aging, and they did not prepare for the future-- until it was too late.  They were stuck with Pickett and Mason Rudolph.

While head coach Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season, the Steelers haven't won a playoff game in seven years.  It's a safe bet to say the streak will go to eight.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!


There are some years, and believe me, this is one of them, where it is difficult to find something for which to be thankful.

Dig deep.  I hope you and I can find something.

Set aside a moment to think of good times.  Be thankful for what you have, even if it isn't much.

I usually issue a "drive safe" warning on the day before the holiday, but there was another item on yesterday's agenda.  It still holds true.  The roads will be busy through Sunday night.  Take your time.

I hope you and your family have a good holiday.

We'll talk tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

JFK 60


President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 60 years ago today.

I was 23 months old at the time, so clearly, I don't remember it.  As I grew a little older, I was like most kids.  I saw things through the eyes of my parents, and there was always profound sadness when the Kennedy name came up.  It became even more difficult after Sen. Robert Kennedy was shot to death in 1968.

I believe I'm like most people.  A curiosity about that day in Dallas remains, and I wish the government would open ALL the files and be done with it already.  Another part of me just wants the Kennedy family to be left alone.  They've suffered enough.

The Kennedy record will be debated until the end of the time.  He was in office at one of the most turbulent times in American history.  Kennedy had an ability to inspire, which few politicians had.  There were complaints Kennedy was slow to move on civil rights, and his foreign policy left a lot to be desired.  Kennedy is also blamed for getting the United States deeper in to Vietnam.  He had a commitment to the space program.  You know how I feel about that.  Astronauts were heroes at a time when we really needed them.

You can't help but wonder what the world would be like had JFK completed a second term.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Setting the World on Fire, NOT!


Yesterday's entry about the passing of Dr. John R. Zaums, my freshman year religion professor started me thinking about that first semester at Marywood, way back in the fall of 1979, and that's my report card you see above.  Back then, your grades came in the mail.  And yes, kids, we had mail back then.

As you can see, I didn't set the world on fire.  You can't say I didn't try.  That first semester was rough-- 18 credits.  I came from a bad high school and getting used to the college way of doing things was a major adjustment.  I'm not blaming anyone but myself.  At least, it wasn't a John Blutarsky zero point zero.

Notice that big "A" at the top in Dynamics of Speech Communication!  It is self explanatory.  I always could talk.

Next was Introduction to  Communication Theory.  It was dry, and I really didn't enjoy it.  The course was all classroom stuff, while I was itching to get into the radio and television stations.  It's another one of those courses that was a "must have" if you wanted that degree.  There was no escaping the "theory" courses.

There was a "B" in a history course called Roots of the Modern World.  I love history, but this one went back a bit too far for me.  I do recall that I didn't dread walking into that classroom two afternoons a week.  During that first semester, a lack of dread was huge.

Next up was a French lab.  Welcome to the world of dread.  I would sit in a huge media center, usually alone, put on headphones, and listen to people speak in French on tape.  I was supposed to repeat and respond.  I never did.  Hey, they were speaking a foreign language!  As comedian Steve Martin once said, "The French have a different word for everything!"  I will admit never missing a lab day saved my butt.  My French professor, and we are still in touch 44 years later, said that if you attended all your labs, she would bump up your grade.  For example, a C would become a C+, a C+ would become a B, etc.  I had to take two semesters of a foreign language, and that second French semester, in the spring of 1980, was a tremendous struggle.  I knew I was failing.  As the spring semester came to a close, I reminded Sr. Mary that I went to every lab, so my F+ should be a D.  Imagine my glee when my grades arrived and I received my D.  It is among my greatest gifts-- ever.

Back to fall 1979...  Next is the actual French course.  I hadn't been in French class since my freshman year of high school.  I was lost here, and I was amazed that I came out of that first semester with a C.  It was another gift.

The Writing Skills course still bugs me to this day, and it taught me a valuable lesson in playing the game.  This was another one of those courses that everyone had to take, and that's fine.  We should all learn to write more gooder.  The major strike against me in that course was a research paper.  I used a few good sources rather than several mediocre ones.  Even though it was a perfectly written paper, the professor wanted quantity of sources, not quality and I got whacked for it.  Again, I take responsibility.  It's on me.  Live and learn.  Play the game.  Years later, I was reminded of that course when the waitress in the movie "Office Space" was penalized for the lack of "flair" on her uniform.  She was doing a good job.  It wasn't enough.  I feel compelled to add that there was an A in a news writing course a year later, and another A for my senior year thesis, a huge research paper.  Yes, I could write, sometimes with flair.

Don't laugh at the next one:  Bowling/Golf.  Two physical education courses were a requirement back then.  One had to be aquatics.  That didn't come until my junior year, and I'm not a swimmer.  I'm thankful I didn't drown.  My last time in a pool was that class in the summer of 1982.  Since then, it's been nothing larger than a hot tub.  While I regret not taking tennis, which always fascinated me, bowling and golf wasn't bad.  We golfed the first half of the semester, mostly using the fields on campus.  There was one adventure to a golf course in Taylor.  I'd killed a lot of days at a local driving range, so I was fair at launching a golf ball.  The instructor saw what I could do, so he made sure I wouldn't get the good clubs.  My hits came too close to a parking lot.  When cold weather arrived in the second half of the semester, we bowled at MBC Lanes in Dunmore.  It used to be beneath a department store on the O'Neil Highway.  Big Lots is there now, and there is a furniture store where the bowling alley used to be.  I bowled a lot with a high school buddy back in the day, so I knew my around the alleys.  Another A!  Yay!!

Sadly, that Marywood course was the last time I picked up a golf club.  The game didn't interest me.  I did bowl several more times, and that was a long time ago.

And finally, it was the Dr. Zaums course that started this two day blog odyssey.   Dr. Zaums was a good guy, but religion just wasn't my jam.  I was satisfied with a C in Modern Beliefs and Unbeliefs.

As I said at the top, I was exceptionally mediocre, at best,  that first semester, and I managed to turn it around.  More A's came when I was taking courses in my major, and my minor of Public Relations.  There were A's in some non communications courses after I learned the college way of doing things and I gained some confidence.  I was honorable mention for the Lynett Medal for "distinction in communication arts."  A public relations major won the medal, and deservedly so.  I was satisfied at being the best broadcaster.

Let me add a few words about my first two communications courses.  One was taught by a gentleman who came and left Marywood in one year.  It just wasn't a good fit.  I know.  The same thing happened to me at a job years later.  Strangely enough, we got along fine and I liked the guy, even though he put me in a horrible position one morning.  He knew things weren't gong well, and he wasn't very popular with my classmates-- especially the non freshmen.  He took me aside and asked what the other students thought of him.  How do you reply to a question like that?  I stammered that we never really discussed it, and I hadn't heard anything negative.  I lied.  I don't regret tap dancing around the truth.

The head of the communications department taught my other freshman comm course.  Friends, this is one of my great regrets about my Marywood years.  It seemed odd to me at the time, but radio/television and theater were under the same umbrella.  While both are performing arts, they are very different.  Those of us in broadcasting always believed the department head favored the theater people.  On top of that, I felt the man was a stiff, a stick in the mud, someone out of touch.  I was wrong.  Very wrong.  In order to graduate, you needed to produce a one hour radio show, a half hour television show, or write a lengthy research paper.  Only one member of the class of 1983 chose to write the paper:  me.    It made perfect sense.  I didn't have the time.  Scheduling production time, on top of my job at WARM, would have been impossible.  The other options required cooperation of classmates. I easily would have received it.  I didn't want it.  The paper was all "me."  I could do what I wanted, when I wanted.  Plus, the only thing I really had confidence in was my ability to write.  I wasn't the greatest performer.  I wasn't the greatest at all  the technical stuff, even though there were A's in television production, and I was already working in professional and paid radio.   The thesis received an "A" and it's my proudest Marywood achievement.  As the department head and I were in a meeting and discussing the paper, what was in it, how I reached my conclusions, etc., we launched on frank discussions of the school, the program, and ourselves.  I discovered the faculty member I never bonded with in three and a half years was the greatest guy.  Sensitive, smart, savvy, and simply a good person.  I'm sorry I learned that lesson too late, but at least I did have that epiphany.  

Years later, my parents told me how worried they were during that first Marywood year, fearing I would work myself to death.  It was not uncommon to hear me banging away at my typewriter long after midnight.  I'm grateful the family could afford a great education, and I thank them for their patience.  Being a college student is not a 9 to 5 job.  I was always out late at night, working at the college radio station, and at my WARM 590 job that I secured in my sophomore year.  There was a lot of time away from home, missing family events, weekends, and holidays.  They understood this is what I loved and there was never a complaint, even though I knew there were times the family was disappointed I wasn't around.

I've written thousands of blogs in the past 19 years, and this has to be among my favorites.  While that first semester was filled with fear and anxiety, there were more than enough plusses-- new locale, new friends, new challenges, a little independence, and a lot of growing up.  Reliving it brings a smile to my face.  As I've always said, as the years roll on, the bad stuff becomes less important and the good things take on a new shine.

Well, that ends today's trip down memory lane, and I really enjoyed giving you this peek at the way things were, 44 years ago.

Monday, November 20, 2023

It's Real


It is more than the cusp of the holiday season.  This is also the week when you realize that things are real.

When you are younger, it is the week the newness of the school year really wears off.  The long slog to summer is underway.  It's real.  Summer is a long way away.

That feeling is intensified after graduation.  Some college friends are home for the first time since August.  I went to a local college, so it was a temporary good bye to some friends who lived in the dorms.  Of course, I was helping run the college radio station, so I was still on campus during the holidays.  The silence of the campus was eerie, and oddly satisfying at the same time.

When you start working, and enter adulthood, thoughts turn to Christmas shopping, when you will be working, when you won't.  As I've stated here in the past, I was born without the holiday gene.  While the holidays were overwhelming and depressing, I managed to muddle through.

Beyond that, this is the time of life when you realize many things have changed, and they will never be the same.  Never.  Never ever.

There should be an extra day off during the holiday season to de-stress and do absolutely nothing.  I guess that's why we have January.

And speaking of the holidays, I'm getting tired of government and business types telling us how great things are.  The "good times" proclamations come at the same time every social service agency says requests for assistance are at all time highs, and the need for donations is greater than ever.

Yes, it's real.

And before I go,  and speaking of "real," I have to note the recent passing of Dr. John R. Zaums.  He taught religion at Marywood College/University for 39 years.  Dr. Zaums handled the "intro" course, the one every freshman had to take, and I was in his classroom every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday morning for my first semester, way back in 1979.  The name of the course was "Modern Beliefs and Unbeliefs."  Catchy!  I'd like to meet the individual who came up with that.  I'll be honest.  I thought Dr. Zaums with a fine chap and he was well liked by my classmates, but I can't list him among my favorites.  I think it was the subject matter more than the instructor.  A course on religion just wasn't my thing, and there would be two more religion classes before I was handed my Marywood degree.  It's on me.  My grade:  C+ and I was happy to escape with that.  I will say I admired Zaums' passion, and his enthusiasm.  I never saw him mail it in.   Zaums  made the material relatable to young people, and he made quite the impression.   "Intro" courses were your introduction to college life, and they were hugely important-- dry, but vital.   Dr. Zaums touched thousands of lives during his career.   As I said, Zaums taught the intro course, so the path to a degree went through his classroom.  I can't stress that enough.  He was there every day, and education was his joy, not a job.  Dr. John R. Zaums was 81.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Andy's Angles: A Wider View


I'm sure there was a good reason for it, but I don't know why that old engine was pulling a passenger car.  Both spent some time recently at the Von Storch shop in Scranton.

For rail enthusiasts, this place is Disneyland.  It's not far from home, so I can drop by frequently.  Plus, there is usually something interesting here to shoot.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Andy's Angles: Fall Colors on the Tracks


This one nearly wound up as this month's blog header.  Two reasons:  black and orange are colors closely associated with fall.  The other reason is that it's been a while since I inflicted a train photo on you.

This beauty was outside the Von Storch shop in Scranton last month.  The colors looked good against a perfectly blue autumn sky.  Plus, you know how I roll.  I like seeing units with a lot of mileage.

There will be a wider view tomorrow.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Right on Red, Death, and Two Broadcasters


There is a move afoot to ban drivers from making legal "right on red" turns at traffic lights.  The reason is too many collisions involving pedestrians.

I get that.

I've long used this space to complain about a lack of civility on the roads-- speeding, tailgating, no turn signals, no headlights during rain storms...

I haven't talked about right on red until now.  Right on red saves time, gasoline, and money.  But, what is the cost of a human life?  How are much are we saving as people are struck down in intersections?

Remember, the law says a right on red is legal AS LONG AS YOU COME TO A COMPLETE STOP FIRST!  All too often, I see drivers slow down slightly, and keep moving through the intersection when the light is red.  Some don't even bother to slow down.

Perhaps the solution is more enforcement at intersections before we toss out the law.

But, if it's a choice between saving a few seconds and saving a life, the choice is clear.  Hit the brakes and stay put until the light turns green. 

And, while I prattle on about traffic violations...  A 13 year old was shot in the head and killed in Wilkes-Barre Monday night.  Homicide, says the coroner.  Police haven't given many details on this one, but they do say another juvenile is the suspect.  There are so many unanswered questions on this case, and we really do deserve answers.  The biggest include the source of the gun and how a child that young became indifferent to the value of a human life.

Charissa Thompson admitted to making up things while she was a sideline reporter on NFL games.  This doesn't rise to the level of Brian Williams, who embellished news reports during his NBC days.  Thompson deals in the playland known as sports.  Still, there is no excuse for this.  A lie is a lie.  If Charissa Thompson worked for me, she wouldn't be working for me.  Thompson showed blatant disrespect for her employers and the viewers.

And Ken Squier died this week.  88.  He broadcast NASCAR for CBS and TBS.  Squier was the embodiment of dignity and respect.  He helped NASCAR grow to where it is today.   Squier's biography should be required reading for Ms Thompson.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Hey, 19!


The blog is 19 years old today.  Old enough to vote, not old enough to drink.

As I thought about today's entry, I looked for an anniversary story or tidbit that I hadn't offered up before.  After all, there have been many, many anniversary day entries.

Two words come to mind:  restraint and loyalty.

There are a lot of things I'd like to say here, but it still says "journalist" on my income tax return, so I can't offer up opinions on controversial topics.  Believe me, it's been tempting.  Tony Kornheiser says the new most dangerous word in the English language is "send."  When it comes to the blog, it's "publish."  The last 19 years have taught me the value of thinking twice.

It's given me a creative outlet, which we all need.  For example, I'm working on an entry for next week, where the topic is my first semester as a college student, complete with my actual report card!  Stay tuned for that one!!  I really enjoyed putting that entry together.

And there is the loyalty.  I don't get caught up in numbers.  I know the blog is never going to set the world on its ear.  That's okay.  It gets between 250 and 300 hits a day, and I thank you for that.  The number might seem small, but the fact that a few hundred people drop in to see a photo, or read what I have to say warms the old man's heart.

We moved to this blogging platform in April of 2008, so the early years are lost, but since the move, this blog has received about 1.6 million page views.  It is amazing, and astonishing, and I cannot thank you enough.

And, year 20 begins!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023



What?    Again?

Yes, I'm on vacation.

It's poor planning on my part.  I didn't take much time off in the first half of the year, so there is a lot to burn off in the second.  I was holding some days back for personal reasons.

It's all good.  I don't mind the chilly weather.  I'll take 40 degrees over 90.  Chilly has a charm.  Coat.  Brisk walks.  Hot soup, warm blankets, and a cuddling cat when you get home.

There is still ample photographic opportunity.  I do like taking pictures in the leaf-deprived starkness of late fall/early winter.  Plus, Christmas decorations are starting to appear.  I'll need a new blog header in a couple of weeks.

It also gives me a little time to ponder this year's Top Ten photographs.  At least 15 are in the running, so there will be a few honorable mentions before the Top Ten begins.  It's strange this year.  There is no clear cut number one in my mind.  The decisions traditionally come down on Thanksgiving weekend.

As always, I'll be around and the weekend morning broadcasts are in good hands.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Horse Trading


The yearly ritual actually took place a couple of weeks ago.  It is the horse trading involved in making sure every shift is covered during the holidays.

As I've said many times before, working holidays comes with the territory.  It never bothered me.  When you take a job in news, you know holidays are part of the deal.  As an aside, I'm amazed at how many kids entering the business don't realize that.  What are they teaching in college?  I suspect it's a surprise to the young ones because college faculty is so detached from the real world.

I've been lucky.  There is no travel for me during the holidays.  I'd prefer to see the people with no family here have the opportunity to get home, at least for a little while.  I took on some extra holiday week duties.  It's all good.  I'll get an extra day off in January.

So, you might see some different people in different places, on different days in the weeks to come.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 13, 2023

Holding On to Yesterday, and Frank Borman


A recent blog entry about Baltimore triggered some memories, aromas, and other observations.

To get you up to speed, I used to vacation frequently in Baltimore in the 80's and 90's.  It was close and affordable.  Fun.  I'd visit friends in Harrisburg on the way down, or on the way back.

It was the same thing every time.  I'd grab a hotel room in a suburb just north of Baltimore.  I'd spend one day wandering about the Inner Harbor and downtown.  Another day would be devoted to shopping malls around the city.  Back then, places like Baltimore had a lot of stores that we didn't have up here.   Malls were cool back then, not the ghost towns they are today.   If I stayed for another day, which I occasionally did, I'd venture down to Washington.

Being a newsie, and pre internet, I always made sure to check out the local TV newscasts.  Outsiders see things differently than the locals.  My favorite afternoon/evening newscast was on the station that was in last place.  The number one station was fine, but I thought the last place station was doing a better job.

Parenthetically, the number one station's morning newscast was a thing of beauty, an absolute joy.  It was a low key anchor and a vibrant weather man.  It worked.  It was one of the best combinations in the history of local television, anywhere.

I'd always watch the 6 pm news, then head out to a mall just down the street for a really good pizza, or Chinese, or a chicken sandwich.  There was also a delicious Italian restaurant in a strip mall across the street from the hotel.

You Tube has a wonderful collection of news intros from this last place station.  Some were very good.  Others, fair.  There was a catchy theme for several years, almost a rip off of the number one station.  I have the same reaction any time I see and hear and see the theme on the internet: I can still smell the hotel room!

I know that sounds totally bizarre, but you know how hotel rooms smell-- a combination of air freshener and disinfectant.  This chain hotel had a unique aroma, not unpleasant at all.

Times change.  Even though the last place TV station is still in last place, it's quite a bit different now.   My favorite mall has been torn down.   The hotel has switched franchises.  I wonder if it smells the same.

One other note today...  retired astronaut Frank Borman died last week.  95.  Borman was aboard Apollo 8.  It was the first manned spacecraft to circle the moon.  The Apollo 8 astronauts were famous for many reasons, including that breath taking shot of "earthrise."  Apollo 8's mission took place during Christmas week of 1968-- a horrible year in this country.  The men of Apollo 8 helped end the year with a little promise.  Frank Borman is among the people to thank.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Andy's Angles: Flaws and All


The sun wasn't my friend when I took this shot of the Lackawanna River at Archbald on a late October morning.  I had a bad sun angle, and even tweaking in editing didn't help much.  A filter would have helped, and I had one in my bag.

Still, there are a few things here to like and I didn't have the heart to dump it in the trash bin.

And before I hit "publish" for the day, it's one more Marywood University "Field of Flags" shot and a word about amateur photography.

I really wasn't happy with my shots along the Lackawanna River a few weeks ago.  I did get some good close ups.  Most of it wasn't very sharp.  After thinking about it for a moment, my ISO was too low (100) when I was shooting in AV.  The camera compensated for the low ISO by slowing the shutter speed, and that resulted in camera shake.  I should have known better.

I took my Marywood University photographs on an overcast, drizzly morning.  I still shot in AV, but I switched the ISO to auto, and everything worked fine.

The camera stayed on ISO 100 for the wide shots.  When I zoomed in for a shallow depth of field, my ISO's ranged between 250 and 500.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Andy's Angles: About the Cover


I had several options for this month's header, and nothing really jumped out at me.  When in doubt, go simple and basic.

Sweeping vistas of fall foliage are nice, but so is a close up of a leaf, a little foliage, and the last of the green, blurred in the background.

I guess the location is irrelevant, but it was snapped along the Lackawanna River at Laurel Street in Archbald, one of my few remaining happy places.

I'll use tomorrow's entry for a few words about the craft and learning from mistakes.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Veterans Day Weekend and Marywood University


Is there an observance on the calendar more important than Veterans Day?

Tomorrow is the day set aside to honor those who served.

There will be no lecture from me, other than to say please say "thank you" and remember what the day is all about.

It's another year for the Marywood University tradition of establishing the "Field of Flags."  It's one flag for every life lost in recent conflicts.

The field is behind what was called the Fine Arts Building back in my day.  It seems more cramped this year.  The flags are closer together than I've ever seen here.

There is no problem with the North Washington Avenue site, but I thought the display had a bigger impact when it was up on the main part of campus, across from the Liberal Arts Center.  The flag display moved several years back because of construction of the monstrosity called the Learning Commons.  There is plenty of green space up that way now. Move the flags.

Be that as it may, I'm always very proud of my alma mater when it takes time to honor veterans.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Thursday Scrapple


When does Pumpkin Spice season end?  I suspect it's right after Thanksgiving.  Then, Peppermint season takes over and I like that one much more.

Ecstasy is when you nail a Final Jeopardy question and all three contestants miss it.  It's happened twice in recent weeks.  Little things like that make my day.

I'm sure NFL games in Europe make financial sense for the league, but I don't like them and will never like them.

One of my happiest days on the calendar is the day after Halloween.

The Texas Rangers are world champions.  I rooted for the underdog, the Arizona Diamondbacks, but I can live with this.  I'm just sorry the series didn't go seven games.

World Series television ratings were awful.  I didn't watch any of the live TV broadcasts, but I did catch a few innings on the overnight replays.  There was no energy.  Radio, which I caught live on a few occasions, was even worse.  Even though it was the lowest rated World Series in history, it still had more viewers that most shows on broadcast television that week.

The end of the World Series is one of the definitive sign that winter is here.

I love the Beatles, but the new "Now and Then" does nothing for me, and the video is just plain creepy.

I become tired driving 26.2 miles, so a huge congratulations to my coworker, Chelsea Strub, who completed the New York City Marathon earlier this month.

I toured the Citizens Voice in Wilkes-Barre shortly after the newspaper moved in, in 1984.  It is sad to see the North Washington Street, Wilkes-Barre building up for sale.

If Twitter is now X, why do you still access it by typing in

The new chili lime Sun Chips aren't bad.

Please, big box stores and supermarkets, go back to 24/7 operation!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Numbers


The major statewide contest was the race for Supreme Court justice, between Republican Carolyn Carluccio and Democrat Daniel McCaffery.  Republicans usually do well in statewide races, even though Democrats control the cities.  It was a good night to be a Democrat.  That party took all of the major court races.

The contest for Lackawanna County commissioner was generally considered a race for third.  Matt McGloin and Bill Gaughan racked up impressive numbers in the spring.  Plus, they have the registration advantage.  While the Democratic party did have a lot of baggage here, including reassessment and prison scandals, the incumbents were not on the ballot.  McGloin and Gaughan didn't have that cloud over them because Debi Domenick didn't run for reelection and Jerry Notarianni didn't make it past the primary.  McGloin and Gaughan cruised here, and it wasn't even close.  No surprise.  Chermak retains his minority seat.

Incumbents win on city council in Scranton, and it was no surprise there.

In fact, it was a night of few surprises.  Mayor Brown in Wilkes-Barre and Mayor Cusat in Hazleton breeze to easy victories.

Lackawanna County, where I live, had a 37 per cent voter turnout, just about where it was two years ago and four years ago.  People simply are not interested in off year elections.  You will likely see that number double next year when we elected a president, one third of the senate, and all members of congress.

On to Vote 24!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Election Day!


Election Day is finally here.  For those of us in the news business, it's our equivalent of Super Bowl Sunday.  Stories have been produced, logistics considered, graphics readied, the web site checked and double checked.  All we need are the numbers, plus the reaction from the voters and the candidates.

I compare working election mornings to being a pin setter in a bowling alley.  I set them up.  Someone else knocks them down.  My day will be over long before the polls close and the results trickle it.  No complaints.  It's what I do.

My day will consist of some preview stories for the morning news broadcasts.  I might visit a few polling places to gauge turnout, especially in areas with hot contests.  I'll put together something for noon, vote, go home, have lunch, take a nap, and watch the numbers come in tonight.

Of course, there will be a few updates here as the day progresses, and a few election thoughts tomorrow.

One footnote on this Election Day...  Today is the 23rd anniversary of the election that ended with Al Gore and George Bush virtually tied in the contest for the presidency.  It all came down to the Florida vote, and the whole thing was decided by the Supreme Court December 12th.  No matter how you felt about the election, the process, hanging chads, and the outcome, it was an amazing night/morning to watch television and simply a fascinating moment in American history.

>>>3:00 AM UPDATE:  A fast food spicy chicken sandwich used to be my election morning ritual.  Covid 19 did away with that.  That 24 hour fast food restaurant stopped being 24 hours long ago, and I'm sad.  Even though most of my election morning work was done days ago, I still arrived at the office early today.  Nerves.  Anticipation.  I checked and re-checked my stuff.  We're good to go.  Now, all I have to do is wait for photographer Bonnie to arrive in a few minutes, and it's off to a polling place for Newswatch 16 This Morning.

>>>9:00 AM UPDATE:  I spent the morning at Scranton High School, where eight precincts now vote.  It seemed roomy and organized.  People who voted didn't seem to have any issues inside.  Outside, it's a different story.  While there is parking for the handicapped close to the building, it could be a long walk from the parking lot for everyone else.  After that, it was a quick atop at the Lackawanna County Government Center on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton to watch the mail in votes counted.  It looked organized and trouble-free.  There are 14-thousand mail in ballots in house, with more coming in today's mail and the drop box in the lobby.  By the way, early turn out was light.

>>>10:30 AM UPDATE:  Anecdotal evidence from friends and coworkers still shows a light turnout. #sad.  Photographer Bonnie finished putting together our noon story.  It was one where I didn't know where it would go when I sat down at the keyboard.  The fingers still work.  It flowed.

>>>12:03 PM UPDATE:  My day is done.  My story aired.  It's time to power down at work, and power up at home.  I'll vote between the two.   I hope you do the same.   It was a long day, and an interesting one.  Let's do it again in the spring!

>>>1:05 PM UPDATE:  I voted, and I'm home.  I was voter 80 in my small town's ward, and that wasn't too bad.  We have tight contests for council and school board, so I expected a little more.  Be that as it may, that's all for today.  Thanks for reading, and it was nice meeting so many people this morning in Scranton.  You make the system work!  Thank you.  Time for a little sleep and I'll watch the numbers, with you tonight.  I'll call you back later.

Monday, November 6, 2023

One More Day, and Ken Mattingly


Apologies for an excess of election yammering lately, but I feel this stuff is important-- especially this year.

Turnout usually lags in odd years.  The voters will be back next year to elect a president,  a United States senator and members of congress..

But today is also huge.

Tomorrow is the day we pick mayors, supervisors, council members, school directors, commissioners...  These are the men and women who control our schools, our taxes, public safety, public works, and a myriad of other local issues.  It can be argued that these people hold more influence over your life than anyone in Harrisburg and Washington.

Please, vote tomorrow.

And before the "publish" button is pressed for another day...

This item might have become lost during last week's tributes to the boorish Bobby Knight, but Ken Mattingly died October 31st.

Mattingly was supposed to fly aboard Apollo 13, but he was taken off the mission because of exposure to Rubella.  Instead, he stayed home and helped come up with the plan to get the Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to earth.  He orbited the moon as part of the Apollo 16 mission, and Ken Mattingly was on two space shuttle flights.

If you want a hero, look no further than Ken Mattingly.  He wasn't on a basketball court.  He was in the sky.  

Ken Mattingly was 87 years old.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Andy's Angles: Lucky


It is the mark of the amateur photographer.

I'll snap something off, and not think much of it.  Then, I'll load the photos in to my computer, and I'll realize, "Hey, this one is actually pretty good."  I don't realize what I have at the time of the photograph.

Yes, it's another shot from the Gardens of Cedar in south Scranton.  There have been a  lot of photos from the Gardens here recently.  As I said before, it is a lot packed in to a small space.

I played with the framing a bit, and by the way, there was no editing here.  Both shots you see above are direct from the camera.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Andy's Angles: Amber Waves


I've always believed ornamental grasses don't get the respect they deserve.

Grass in the foreground.  Mums adding color to the background, and another shot from the Gardens of Cedar in south Scranton.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Time Is On My Side, and Bobby Knight


Today is the last Friday of Daylight Saving Time.  Clocks go back one hour Sunday morning.  Standard time returns at 2:00 am.


No big deal.

While I think we should stay on one or the other forever and ever and ever, I'm just tired of the twice yearly discussion.  I've had enough.  Thank you.

Much like the constant yammering over open primaries in Pennsylvania, I've reached my fill when it comes to the debate.  Change it, or stop talking about it.  To quote someone who once broke my heart, "Give it up."

As someone who works nights and sleeps during the day, the return of Standard Time doesn't bother me.  In some ways, I look forward to it.  Earlier sunrises benefit me more than late sunsets.

Regardless, make the best of it, and I'll see you in the morning.

And, before I hit the "publish" button for the day...

Famed basketball coach Bobby Knight died Wednesday.  83.

Look, I've always been honest with you here.  Today is no exception.  I didn't like Bobby Knight.  He was crude, a bully, and a boor.  Knight racked up more than 900 wins during his career.  Does the end justify the means?  

Absolutely not.

Thursday, November 2, 2023



Dan Patrick and Rich Eisen are both former ESPN "SportsCenter" anchors, and both now do radio shows.  Patrick is on from 9 am to noon.  Eisen has the noon to 3 pm slot, and I like them both.  Patrick and Eisen both have the ability to transition from serious sports news to the lighthearted-- plus they occasionally hit on some entertainment and pop culture topics.

What I especially enjoy is when Patrick and Eisen appear on each other's shows.  It's just two media veterans swapping stories and having laughs.  Both admitted to having dreams, maybe nightmares, about their ESPN days.  Patrick and Eisen both said the dreams usually center around something troublesome-- like not making it to the studio on time, unfinished scripts, disappearing video, etc.

I've bored you with my old radio stories here several times in the past.  I spent nearly eleven years at WARM.  Good times, and bad.  I value the experience, and I often say "If I knew then what I know now..."

Yes, I often dream about my old WARM days.  It is generally variations on a theme.  I go back.  The layout of the building in Avoca is basically the same.  Most of my former co-workers are there.  The building has expanded a bit, becoming a dizzying maze of offices, studio and technical areas.  There is some old equipment there.  There is plenty of new stuff.   The common denominator is I don't know how to operate any of the gear, new or old.  I'm lost in the building.  I'm lost when it comes to performance.

From what I've read on web sites, radio people dreaming about past or present work is nothing new.  Many of the dreams appear to center on records running out and nothing going out over the air, being accidentally locked out of the studio, being late for work, etc.

I'm sure some dream analyst can tell me what it all means.

Even though the dreams can be disturbing, I really don't mind.  It's nice to visit an important part of my past, without leaving my bed. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Law and Order


You can't write comedy like this...

Scranton Police recently arrested a young man from Wilkes-Barre, who advertised on the internet that he had weed for sale.  I stress the suspect is innocent until proven guilty, but he did give police a statement admitting to the crime.

This next item isn't funny...

Local schools recently went through another round of swatting.  Bomb threats in via the internet.  Schools closed, searched, children sent home, education disrupted, parents inconvenienced, and just a major headache all around.

Why is this still happening?

What does it say about our safety?  My email inbox is filled with phishing every day.  It goes far beyond that.  If we can't catch the swatters, how do we protect our electric grid, bank account records, voting, defense systems, medical records...

It makes me sad, and very, very afraid.