To think I may have been the top story on the news…

Probably not, but I don’t ever remember being as sick as I was yesterday. Lots of chills, coughing, phlegm. Especially the chills. You know the drill.

It happened months after getting my flu shot. I was able to listen to a webinar, but couldn’t think or read the rest of the day — just sleep. I want to especially “thank” the folks in my building for the fire alarm in the middle of my afternoon nap. The kids (cats) didn’t know what was going on with the sirens blaring and recorded announcements interrupting. How long? No clue. I do remember Casey under the covers when he probably had been on top. Why’d it happen? They never gave a reason.

But then I turned on the TV and the top story was the flu! Hospitals in Allentown and Bethlehem even set up tents as mobile emergency rooms, since so many people were showing up with contagious viruses! The story, unexpectedly to me, made the national news.

Luckily, I’m doing better today and am even able to think (somewhat). I hope the tens of thousands of others affected are feeling better, as well. Looking forward to less pressure over the weekend.

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As for my mother, who fell in the kitchen about a week and a half ago, today she learned she did not damage her eye! That’s great news because she landed on a blood vessel around there and bled a lot. It wasn’t until the hospital that she learned she’d broken her pelvis in three places.

So after three days in the hospital, she was taken to rehab where she’s undergoing physical therapy and practicing walking again. It started out very painful and difficult, and still is to some degree, but there’s no alternative to harder and harder work in order to get well.

Thanks to the amazing number of people who visited. Hopefully, she’ll get out next week, be able to manage at home, and MAYBE even be as nimble as her granddaughter, Frisky!

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Follow-up, fewer watching TV news, future president?

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First, I have to thank everybody who looked at Monday’s blog post. The analytics were incredible, the best ever (and that’s all that counts, right? 🙂). If you haven’t seen it yet, it gives a brief overview of the place I worked for 15 months until August. Feel free to comment below it, or on my Twitter page. You can also subscribe to these blogs with your email address and get an email automatically every time I post.

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One thing I left out was that during the long interview process, in early 2016, while I was working a great job in the Tri-Cities of TN/VA, the future boss asked me at the end of a Friday Skype interview to write up a critique of the station’s website. I was literally told it was “to see how smart” I am. Two other managers were sitting right there. I was given a week, but finished it that weekend because I was so excited about the possibility of returning to Philadelphia.

Look below and see, it was a very long and thoughtful critique, and included multiple pictures. During my interview at Fox 29 — coincidentally on Leap Day, Feb. 29, 2016 — the boss even joked about still reading it! I guess it was good. Too bad most of it was never implemented. That was a clue of what was to come, but it was too late. I had already moved and started the job. (The document is a slideshow. Click below to move forward, back, or to stop it.)

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That’s all I have to say here on the subject of that station.

Just this week, a Pew Research Center report announced fewer Americans rely on TV news, and what type they watch varies by who they are. It found,

“Just 50 percent of U.S. adults now get news regularly from television, down from 57 percent a year prior in early 2016.”

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That’s a 14 percent decline! Not only that, but the number takes into account local TV (still first place), cable TV (still second place), and also network TV (still third place).

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I think the demographics are even more interesting. According to Pew, college graduates and high-income people watch much less local TV and network TV news. Cable news varies little.

The research doesn’t say but perhaps these people are working longer hours or have more access to news on electronic devices. Or they find the product dumbed-down. The first two possibilities can’t be changed but the last can.

But I think the biggest finding has to do with age. Pew divided the population into four groups, from 18-29 through 65+. It found across all groups, the younger a person is makes them much, much less likely to watch local, network, and also cable TV news. That sounds ominous for the future.

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Again, the research doesn’t say, but I’ve learned from working with people young enough to be my children they have no history of getting the news from a scheduled TV newscast, or even cable. They were raised with technology that hadn’t been invented when the older people were growing up. They have no special tie to the TV set, having to watch on schedule, and probably can’t imagine watching in black and white.

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(To go along with that, a huge majority of my students — who were younger around the year 2010, plus or minus a few — hadn’t even heard of a typewriter!) Also notice radio and newspapers were not even considered in the research.

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Note the research was not done on web reading but following my train of thought, Americans will continue to use newer technology to get their news, which makes the web — whether desktop, tablet, phone, or whatever comes next — more and more important. We cannot continue to dumb it down, make mistakes, and hire cheap, good-looking but inexperienced people in big cities. We also need to root out the so-called journalists that lack ethics.

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Click here to see the results in a chart, which also divides the American population by gender, race, and politics.

The Radio Television Digital News Association — and we know its agenda — asks, “Is the news for local TV stations all bad?”

Its former chair Kevin Benz admits, “Stations are producing more newscasts because local production is cheap with higher payback potential from selling local advertisers.” Let’s not forget we’re coming off an election year with lots of ads.

The organization claims “profitability has been trending level or up since 2010” and “This is also far from the first time local news has been written off due to changing consumption habits … but newsrooms have been slow to adapt.”

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Back in the Tri-Cities, I was told many people get their news from their Facebook feed. That’s pitiful and of course, Facebook benefits but the publishers really don’t, other than a click to their own websites.

In the past year, not much has come out of the Facebook Journalism Project led by former news anchor Campbell Brown — who has since shown her true politics with The 74 Million, advocating for charter and private schools by taking money away from public schools. (I wrote about that in “Why teaching isn’t for me anymore” here, almost two years ago.)

According to Digiday, problems are that publishers have different business models and want different things from Facebook. And Facebook has mostly let publishers see new products before they launched, and listen to their feedback on various subjects at twice-annual meetings with nice meals. Subjects have included Instant Articles and starting a subscription product so you can’t read unlimited articles for free. There’s also discussion about separating factual news from somebody posting fiction.

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File: Oprah Winfrey

It didn’t help that NBC tweeted about Oprah Winfrey possibly becoming president in the future during Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards.

NBC’s website has now clips of her speech and this description:

“The media mogul received the Cecil B. DeMille award at the A-list event, and brought the crowd to its feet with a rallying cry for solidarity amid the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.”

The harassment scandals were huge. That’s what Oprah addressed. I’ve even written about it twice: here (“What is conscience? Elusive in the media, unfortunately”) and here (“Hey, you accused! Would Mom say, wait until your father gets home?”).

I’ve also tweeted about women who weren’t getting paid the same as men.

Variety reported, “Host Seth Meyers even joked about the prospect in his opening monologue. The tweet from NBC said, ‘Nothing but respect for OUR future president. #GoldenGlobes.’”

The next morning, the network put out a statement, blaming outsourcing. Of course, the first tweet was removed.

How horrible! Oprah hadn’t yet spoken at the time, she never mentioned anything about becoming president, viewers won’t know the difference between a tweet from NBC Entertainment or NBC News if it doesn’t say, and why would the network let a third-party vendor tweet on its account, especially without overseeing? The network has no competent employee in-house? Disappointing!

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The peacock isn’t proud

And late-breaking Thursday morning, we learned 18-year Fox News veteran James Rosen left the network – without Fox giving a reason – after eight of his former colleagues claimed he “had an established pattern of flirting aggressively with many peers and had made sexual advances toward three female Fox News journalists,” according to TVNewser.

Mediaite reports,

“One accusation involved him groping a female colleague in a shared-cab—an action she did not consent to. He then reportedly attempted to retaliate after his sexual advances were denied by attempting to take her sources, which would serve to damage her professional image.”

Also, the Washington Post says it suspended 28-year reporter Joel Achenbach for 90 days what it called “inappropriate workplace conduct” involving current and former female colleagues. He apologized in a statement, but the paper will continue to investigate.

I’m going to end on a better note, in contrast to what I wrote about Monday. Know I’ve been interviewing with different national and international companies here in Philadelphia. Tuesday, I found out I made it to the next round with one firm, and I’m obviously very happy about that. I told the woman on the phone who was simply following up on her morning email that everybody has been so supportive. We’d talked before and her response was simply that they are a partnership, rather than a corporation, and that there is no need for competition amongst (potential) employees.

That’s nice to hear, and it gives me hope.

P.S. On a personal note: Tuesday night in Florida, my mother fell in the kitchen. She hit her face on the floor. There was lots of blood, but no concussion. Turns out, she broke her pelvis in three places: two in the front, and one in the back. No surgery required, but she’ll have to spend another day or two in the hospital. The next two weeks are supposed to be very painful, and it could take her four months to get better. The doctor suggested time rehab since she can’t do much. Please keep her in your thoughts. 😦

Moving back to Philly!

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Yes, you read correctly! I’m headed back after more than 12 years. I didn’t really think it was going to happen, especially considering the roller coaster my life has been over the past several years.

I left Philadelphia for family issues back in 2004. Got a good deal on my house. (But would’ve never expected real estate prices to skyrocket! That’s another story.)

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May 2002: Not expecting this picture to be taken. The old KYW building was torn down for the National Museum of American Jewish History. I’ll be working a block away.

Several good things followed. I got to do the web full time and loved that. I tried and succeeded in a whole new teaching career, and still can’t believe that ever happened! I met several wonderful people I would’ve never met had I not returned to Florida, and worked for one who took a chance on me in a place I’d never heard of.

I was asked not to put this news on social media until well after it became official, but I can tell because it’s only days away. I’m going to be a web producer at WTXF-Fox 29 and work with people I’ve already worked with twice, and some I watched and admired all those years ago. (So please take a moment. Click here to like the Facebook page and click here to follow on Twitter. They’re already doing great! Click here for the news, just out today.)

I leave work in the Tri-Cities on Tuesday, pack and have everything taken on Wednesday, and make the move Thursday. Hopefully everything will be delivered Friday!

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Casey and Yeti’s bye-bye

Garry and Yeti moved to New York over the weekend.

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Yeti REALLY made an impression in the Tri-Cities!

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The house I just got six months ago, and had so much work done on (see bathroom and kitchen), is up for sale. It’ll get a good much-needed cleaning right after I leave.

I’m going to downsize and rent a one-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia, a block-and-a-half from where I used to live. I’m also going to put stuff in storage.

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2001-2004: Lombard Street at 11th
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Open the gate…
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walk down the stairs…
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and take a load off!

I really enjoyed working in the Tri-Cities, getting to run the digital operations at the number one station in the market. Changes will be coming to the desktop and mobile websites over the summer but I was the one who helped set up the migration to a new CMS.

I helped train new people out of school who know how to do SO much, took part in daily management meetings and was listened to, and learned the culture of a place that was very foreign to me.

But Philadelphia and the Tri-Cities are different places, and opportunities like this don’t come along often. It’s the only place I would ever consider moving and I have to do what’s best long-term.

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My last promo for News 5 WCYB

So please wish me luck and I’ll let the Realtor know if you know anyone who wants to buy a house in far southwestern Virginia.

Kitchen complete! At least for now…

The kitchen is done so it’s blog time again!

You’ll remember, we had to do the work because the new dishwasher went a few inches past the edge of the counter. It took this long because the backsplash was delayed. Luckily, that wasn’t a big deal. It’s wasn’t like going without a shower.

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On the first day, early last week, Bob the contractor got the counters done. You may also notice he took the air conditioner out of the window, so the room is brighter. Now, check out the sink. We avoided getting a new one because Bob scoured it with steel wool and let it sit overnight.

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The new counter covers the edge next to the dishwasher, so nobody can see insulation on the side.

 

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Before the second day, we decided to replace the small microwave with a built-in across the room, above the stove. You see it installed. Also, Bob finished the sink. Now, it has the faucet Garry wanted. There are “fancy” knobs on the cabinets that look more like the doors upstairs. Similar handles had to wait because Bob had to drill new holes on the drawers.

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Yesterday, the backsplash came. Bob installed it and covered the electric outlets, including some new ones. You can’t see it here but there’s a fluorescent light right above the windows. It was there but didn’t work, and I never knew it. (Surprise?) Actually, the switch for it was inside the cabinet,  left of the windows. I don’t know why anybody would’ve put it there. Now, Garry won’t have to deal with shadows from the light above following him at that counter.

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This is the area where the microwave used to be, between the tiny half-bath and the breakfast nook area where we have the refrigerator, washer and dryer. We’re keeping those appliances where they are, for now.

I wish we could’ve done the floor, as I posted last time. There’s some nice inexpensive tile that’ll go great, but too expensive at the moment.

We’re also not replacing the fluorescent lights on the ceiling with LED lights. There’s simply too much work involved.

Click here for the rest of the “before” pictures.

So until next time…

And now, the kitchen!

This blog was not supposed to be about home improvement, but we all go through phases.

The bathroom is done and we’re happy with it. In fact, I took two baths over the weekend!

Now, onto the kitchen.

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The main reason for this work is that the dishwasher we had installed in the fall goes a few inches past the edge of the counter.

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There’s insulation showing, and the house can never be sold or rented until that’s fixed. May as well get it done when Bob the contractor has the time.

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So we’re going to get the counters replaced. We’ll extend it those few inches and use the end piece of wood from before the dishwasher to cover up that side.

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This will be the backsplash. Late update: Home Depot has to order more of it.

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The nook with the microwave is included.

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We’re going to keep the sink, but get a new faucet.

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And change the knobs and handles on the perfectly fine cabinets to reflect the house’s long history and look more like the doors upstairs. (This part was obviously Garry and Bob’s decision!)

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That’s it for now. We were also thinking about redoing the floor.

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And maybe changing the fluorescent lights to LEDs. They would be brighter, eliminate the buzzing sound and lower the electric bill very slightly.

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Work is getting started today.

We’ll keep you posted.

 

Big bathroom news!

It’s not the most appetizing title, but I realized you were craving pictures of the house before the first major renovation.

 

I should also point out it’s before the first major cleaning of the house. That can’t come soon enough. Neither can the rest of the unpacking.

 

Tomorrow morning, workers are going to come and completely redo the bathroom. You may notice, it looks like something out of the 1950s or 60s. Won’t be easy to manage for the week to 10 days of construction. Having a half-bath downstairs will help a little. I’m waiting to hear from any of you locals who can invite me over for a shower, especially those of you I work with really closely.
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The new bathroom will be much more modern, with both a shower, big bathtub and new floor. Also, a much larger vanity and much better lighting. And there will continue to be space for Casey.

 

The house was built in 1930. This is the outside on closing day in September…
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… and Yeti marking her new territory in front.
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Below is the living room. Pretty comfy. Only the loveseat in the back, and the cocktail table, are new. Eventually, the TV set will be replaced by a big flatscreen above the fireplace.12The other side of the living room, with the front door.11
This is the dining room. Pictures are only temporary, where pictures had previously been. Will have to hang up all my stuff at once. Kitchen is to the right.13
The dining room and kitchen have perfect windows to see Yeti downstairs in her yard.
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More of Yeti in her yard. I’ve only been down there twice.
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That’s an alley, a neighbor and Holston Mountain in the back.holston mountain.png
The first snowfall we saw in Bristol was when “Sheddy Yeti” got raked, brushed, or whatever you want to call it.
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The bedroom. Yes, the walls have to be redone. They are what they are. At least the boy on the bed doesn’t seem to mind. The headboard, nightstand and chest of drawers are new.14
The bedroom leads to the closet, and closet within a closet. 15
It also has stairs leading up to the attic.atticattic2
Then there’s the office where so much brilliance takes place. Also convenient for work. I can do anything here that I can do there. Again, I had nothing to do with any paint on any walls here.
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We call this Casey’s room because it’s blue and has checkered flag racing curtains. He also likes to relax in the box in the lower right. There should be a bed in here by the time you visit.
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And this is the basement, getting into shape, where I’d like to spend more time. We finally made space in the middle, and got rid of a ton of boxes and packing paper, so it’s walkable. And Garry finally finished putting the cover on the couch (from Bob’s Discount Furniture in another Bristol, this one in Connecticut) that Casey clawed thoroughly before he learned his manners.
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The basement leads to the garage.garage.png
And the only other real work done already has been installing a dishwasher. See before, then after. That’s the half bath in the back.
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I’m thinking about moving the table to where the refrigerator and washer/dryer are. That’ll let a lot more light in. Then, the fridge would go where the table is, and there’s a hook-up for the washer/dryer in the garage. What do you think?5
The dishwasher sticks out a few inches, but that preserves everything else. Eventually, the counters will be redone and a few inches added. Everything else in here is fine.
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So lots more work to do. One last thing: This is a neighbor’s door, a few blocks away. Not mine. Happy Hanukkah!