Monthly Archives August 2012

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Hurricane Irene, 1 year later

By M Davies   /     Aug 31, 2012  /     NEPA, Wacky PA Weather  /     0 Comment

 

A year ago, I didn’t have electricity for an entire week.  Well technically 5 days, but it may as well have been an entire week.  Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, but it was a big deal to me.  I live in the sticks, and my indoor plumbing (coming from a well) completely relies on electricity.  No electricity = No running water, no washing dishes or clothes, no flushing toilets, no drinking water, etc etc etc….  Maybe it wouldn’t have been as bad if we didn’t have 2 young children and pets, but we do.

 

You can read my posts about Irene here:  Post 1 | Post 2 | Preparing for the Next | Flickr Photoset

 

The local media had some good articles about Hurricane Irene this week.

 

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission recently released a report that contained some key findings I found of interest.

 

1.  It was soon apparent that there were major problems with the ability of the EDCs’ customer call centers to handle the high volume of calls on August 27 and 28, 2011.

Yep.

 

2.  While over 93% of customers out of service at the peak of the outages were restored within 72 hours, the remaining customers were not fully restored for 4 or more days.  As compared to similar storms from the EDCs’ recent histories (see page 27, below), full restoration for Irene appeared to take longer. Even if a day or two is removed from the restoration time, given that the tropical storm force winds lasted through much of the full day on August 28, 2011, the full restoration for Irene appeared to be extended.

Yep.

 

3.  All EDCs realized the potential of utilizing alternative communication methods such as text messaging, email, Twitter and Facebook to disseminate information and restoration estimates.

This one I have somewhat of a problem with.  How can Facebook, Twitter, Email, or Text Messaging be considered a primary form of communication when THERE IS NO ELECTRICITY?  The only way I was able to check any of those things was when I was at school, work or charging my cell phone from my car.  There needs to be another way.  I could not even try to buy a newspaper in the first few days because most local businesses were closed due to….YOU GUESSED IT….no electricity.  UGI’s answer was to have a public meeting nearly a week after the fact of the emergency.  Way to be timely, UGI.  I took this issue to their Facebook Wall.

(Click little picture for pop out)

I’d like to think that they understood what I was talking about, but I still sensed some thickness on their parts.

 

Anyway.  Here are the PUC’s recommendations:

 

Recommendations
Recommendation 1: EDCs need to improve their ability to handle high volume call periods during major outage events as well as implementing a procedure to prevent inaccurate or misleading restoration messaging during expected long-term outage events.

Recommendation 2: EDCs need to strengthen their relationships with local and county emergency management and elected officials.

Recommendation 3: The Commission and the industry should partner to study whether Pennsylvania is experiencing increased extreme/severe weather events. Particularly, more information is required on the recent long-term outages experienced by the EDCs: (1) Were the outages caused by the damage of the severe storms in more remote and hard-to-reach locations of circuits? or (2) Are these the same troublesome circuits that have experienced multiple long-term outages?

Recommendation 4: When performing major storm reviews, TUS should examine EDC crew movements not only for the external crews received, but also any internal crews moved outside of the affected EDCs service territories and whether it has a detrimental effect on restoration.

 

These are all common sense things.  I am particularly concerned about Recommendation #4, I seem to remember that several local crews were sent out of the area to help others further south with Irene.  I’m all for helping other areas, believe me, I am….however, don’t you think we could have used them, oh I don’t know, say locally?  Oh, if only I could have been a fly on the wall in that PUC meeting….

 

I also think that there should be a local radio channel that you could turn to for information in emergency situations.  I had the hand crank/battery operated going during the days with no electricity, and I could not find one channel with information that was remotely helpful to me.  TV or newspaper would have been helpful, but I had no access to either of those things.

 

One thing that did make me feel slightly better from reading the Citizen’s Voice article was the fact that the Back Mountain will be banding together in the event of another emergency.

 

“In the aftermath of Irene, Back Mountain Community Partnership members from Harveys Lake and Dallas, Jackson, Kingston, Lake and Lehman townships got together to form a regional emergency management agency, headquartered in the former Back Mountain Medical Center on Route 118 in Lehman Township. The goal is to provide a better response in the event of another tropical storm of Irene’s caliber.”

 

Lucky for us, we won’t be living through another Irene.  Her name was retired from the list of Atlantic Basin storm names back in April.   (Source:  NOAA)  She won’t be missed.

 

 

All that being said…..the generator arrives this week.

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Odd Google Whacks, August 2012

By M Davies   /     Aug 26, 2012  /     Google Whacks, Hilarity  /     1 Comment

I haven’t done this in a while, but there’s been some strange shit I need to comment on….and that is how people have been Googling for my blog.

 

Search Terms for 30 days ending 2012-08-26 (Summarized)

2012-07-27 to Today

(Search Term / Google Whacks #)

 

Barbies Baby / Barbie with Baby / Barbies of Wyoming / Drunk Barbie / Barbie’s Baby / Barbie Baby / Barbie ve Ken / Barbie Having A Baby / NEPA Barbies / NEPA Barbie / Dallas Barbies / Gangsta Barbie = 30

I have a post from 2007 that answers all of your questions about Barbie and Northeast PA – http://www.mhryvnak.net/blog/?p=17

 

encrypted_search_terms = 28

I was intrigued about what this actually meant.  Is the FBI and Secret Service after me?  No, it’s a WordPress thing..  Read this article:  http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/what-is-encrypted_search_terms-in-top-searches

 

What Does Exclamation Mark On Dashboard = 4

It means that shit is about to blow up any minute.  Kidding.  I don’t know what it means.  For me, it meant that my tire pressure was low.  I would recommend contacting a mechanic or Googling your specific car model to figure out what’s going on.

 

George Gumpert = 4

Don’t let good friends slip through your fingers.

 

WNEP Pocono Newsroom = 3

I don’t work there, but I hear it’s a lovely place.

 

Shitty Harriet Carter Type Shoes = 3

Invest your money in a pair of Nikes or Reeboks.

 

Wacky Wednesday Hot Dog Pictures = 2

I hate hot dogs, if you landed here looking for them, click your back button.  You will not find any lips and assholes on this blog.

 

I traded in my car for a golf cart = 2

Hopefully, you are referring to a Fiat and not an actual Go-Cart.

 

Santa Thong = 1

Wild thing, I think I love you.

 

www.harrietcarter.com/sextoys = 1

Um……….

 

Jeff Lamana = 1

Dear friend, read more about him here:  http://www.probaseballcentral.com/remembering-jeff/

 

 

To wrap up this post, if you are looking for sex toys or dead people.  According to Google, you’ve reached the right place.

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More WVNR

By M Davies   /     Aug 24, 2012  /     NEPA, TV Rants  /     1 Comment

I stopped down the Wyoming Valley Newsroom 3 additional times this week due to computer issues of the reporters and photogs stationed there, so I managed to snap a few more pics of the setup as an addendum to my last post. BTW, you can click any of these pictures below to pop-out a larger image.

 

     

 

Here’s the previous preview picture I posted above a picture I took on Sunday.  As you can see, there are two Newswatch 16 signs on the outside.  One facing the square and one facing those walking into the Bicentennial building.  I’m told they light up, but I haven’t really seen it happen.  There’s also a TV above the doors, although I’m not sure how well you can see it in the picture.  There are speakers mounted outside so that you can hear what’s on the TV mounted outside as previously mentioned.

 

 

When I tell people that I need to monitor what’s on WNEP & WNEP2 all day they tease me saying such things as “MUST BE NICE, YOU GET TO WATCH TV ALL DAY LONG”.  Um, no.  Actually we monitor what airs on TV to make sure none of the paid commercial sponsors that we have air in black.  If they do, we have to adjust their billing at the end of the month.  At the WVNR, there are 3 TVs on the wall in addition to desktop TVs for this purpose.  Also to catch any weird errors that may occur during news broadcasts.

 

 

The last time I was at the WVNR, the signage on the pole (toward the front) was incorrectly placed and was in the process of being removed.  Originally the sign company centered the letters on the pole and in actuality it needed to go only so many inches down from the top (a.k.a. uncentered).  They have been back to fix it and it looks really good.

 

 

One of the cool things about the WVNR, that hasn’t really received enough attention in my opinion, is the mural on one of the back walls.  The pictures on the mural are from all around the area.  Andy Palumbo tells me that a few of his photos are featured on the mural.  This picture does not do the mural justice though, you kind of have to see it in person.

 

 

Something odd…as I was helping the Wilkes-Barre crew with computer issues on Monday, we received a flower delivery.  The address was wrong on the flowers, so the first time the guy showed up we sent him away.  He came back a short time later and showed us the card and we accepted the delivery.  The card had the incorrect address, but was addressed to WNEP-TV.  It said “Welcome to the Neighborhood, From all your friends at Eyewitness News”.  Awkward.  We aren’t sure if this a real thing or someone playing a prank, but either way we all had a good chuckle about it.

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Thoughts on gun control

By M Davies   /     Aug 17, 2012  /     Misc/Crap  /     0 Comment

I recently had to write a statement of position paper for Political Science 101.  I decided to write about gun control laws due to the recent shooting incidents and partly because I couldn’t think of anything else good to take a position on.  Below is the text of what I wrote.  I realize this is a touchy issue for some people, so I tried to keep it as PC as possible.  I got an 80%.  Meh.

 

I would have to say that most Americans do not pay any attention to gun control laws until after some kind of major tragedy occurs.  I’ve grown up in an environment of NRA card carrying avid sportsmen and must admit that gun control laws cross my mind more frequently then most.  Recently in the news, two incidents of domestic terrorism have occurred drawing attention to the topic of the second amendment and the freedoms associated with it.  This blog post will explore my position and the reasons behind my stance on the subject.

 
On July 20, 2012 a shooting occurred at a movie theater in Colorado during the first screening of the new Batman film.  The gunman, later identified as James Holmes, opened fire shortly after midnight killing 12 people and injuring others.  A few weeks later, on August 5, 2012 another mass shooting took place at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  Similar to the Colorado shooting, a single gunman opened fire killing 6 people and injuring several others.  The two crimes have a common thread:  both gunmen used semi-automatic guns.  Both men also suffered from mental health issues that clouded their judgment.

 
The second amendment dates back to 1689 when the right to have arms in English history was believed to have been regarded as a long-established natural right.  In modern times, the second amendment comes with limitations.  It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.  There have been laws created to place limitations on weapon ownership.  These laws include such issues as carrying concealed weapons, the need for background checks to own a weapon, and the location of where you could legally carry a weapon.  Based on the recent tragedies, it seems that weapons (specifically automatic and semi-automatic guns) still continue to get into the hands of irresponsible people.

 
Like any other system controlled by federal and state laws, there are loopholes that allow for abuse of “the system”.  James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado movie theater shooting, started to build and create his arsenal of weapons using the Internet.  James had a clean record to the point when he had a mental break.  The Internet website where he bought these items from had no reason to believe that the weapons would be used for catastrophic purposes so they sold him the guns, protective gear and ammunition he needed to commit murder.  Personally, I would not like to see anyone completely lose or have their second amendment rights locked down.  I do firmly believe that a gun or any weapon should not be lawfully allowed to be sold over the Internet.  I believe that if you are to purchase a weapon that could potentially harm someone or something that it should be purchased in person.  It is true that weapon dealers are not psychiatrists, but you can usually a good sense of someone’s personality by spending a short time with them.

 
I lived in my father’s house for several years, and he hunted several different types of sport legally.  He had a gun permit, hunting license and all of the guns that he owned were properly registered.  The Internet did not exist when he was fully dedicated to sporting (he now has medical issues that prevent him from hunting as he once did).  In order to make a weapon transaction it had to be done face to face.  The NRA and the PA Game Commission always preached “safety, safety, safety” in every meeting and demonstration I have ever witnessed or attended.  My Dad made sure his guns were locked up and the ammunition was kept separately locked up, and that the triggers had locks.  If there was to be an “accident”, there actually would not be an “accident”.  If you were able to get through that level of security, it was not an accident.

 
As cliché as it sounds, I am a firm believer in the old adage “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  If guns get into the wrong hands, specifically those that are not mentally stable, that they could injure or kill someone.  If you are insane or upset enough and your mind is set on causing harm to someone, it will happen, whether you use a gun, knife, paperclip, or pen.  In my opinion, in addition to the background check that you need to go through to weapon, you should also have submit to a drug/alcohol test as well as a mental health test.  Some may argue that this violates privacy laws, but I think that it would weed out any potential mentally unstable people that may be trying to obtain a weapon for the wrong reasons.  If a psych evaluation was ordered for the Sikh Temple shooting or Colorado Movie Theater shooting suspects we may have been able to save a few lives.

 
In closing, I think that the current gun control laws need to be reformed, but not in such a way that cause anyone to lose their basic second amendment rights.  I feel that with a little tweaking of the current laws weapon ownership could be more secure for all parties involved.  If we do not allow for weapons sales over the internet, require drug/alcohol and psych evaluations that we can get a true insight into who is purchasing a gun and why.  These changes, in conjunction with existing laws (background checks, and etc) we could eliminate some of the more problematic people form owning a weapon.  I think that the proper security and gun education may go a long way in educating the general public about weaponry.

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New Digs

By M Davies   /     Aug 16, 2012  /     Events, NEPA, TV Rants  /     1 Comment

Today marks the opening of the Wyoming Valley Newsroom for WNEP in the Bicentennial Building in downtown Wilkes-Barre.  Here’s a picture of it right after we announced that we were moving in:

 

 

I didn’t think to take a picture of the outside when I was downtown, but picture this office now with signage on the top on both sides, and the small window above the door houses a TV that shows what is currently airing on WNEP.  There are speakers mounted outside so that you can also hear the TV.

 

 

On Tuesday, I went immediately to the new newsroom to let a bunch of electricians in to run the cables for the audio and TV to work that is pointed outside.  This is what the inside looked like then, it was kind of in a state of disarray with tools, ladders and cables everywhere.  You can also see the sign guy working in the background.  The area that he’s in will be used for the “studio” section of the bureau.  Live shots will be done from that area.  Don’t worry, there was major cleaning that occurred yesterday afternoon to make the space presentable for our Grand Opening.

 

 

It’s kind of cool to know I had a small part in getting it setup – I hooked up and tested computers, desktop TVs and a printer/fax machine.

 

 

Oh!  I almost forgot!  When I was down there, my NEPA BlogCon squirrely girly Darling Stewie stopped by for a visit.  She brought me some nifty stickers!  We also had some other visitors that stopped by.  I must say that everyone that stopped by was enthusiastic about us moving downtown.  They wanted to know when we were opening officially, who would be working in the space, and I even had a college student stop in and ask about internships.  There was also a delivery person looking to drop off flowers for someone in the Matt Cartwright campaign.  Apparently, the Matt Cartwright campaign used to occupy the office space before we did.  I had to send the guy away not knowing where the Cartwright campaign moved to.  I’m sure Gort probably knows.  I wish he left the flowers…they were very pretty!

 

For the record:  Jim Murdoch, Bob Reynolds and Lara Greenberg will be stationed here, along with some photogs and the webmaster.

 

(Click above image for full sized pop-out)

 

Then one of the workers from Circles on the Square stopped by.  She was asking the same questions as everyone else was, but for a much different reason.  You see, Circles is kind of eccentric.  Everyday, they create a menu of specials, but the specials are named after current events.  Check out the menu above to see what they came up with for today (all WNEP themed)!  If you are in the neighborhood today, be sure to explore Circles vast menu.  I recommend the #54 Martha’s Perky Turkey.  However, Jackie’s “Whats the Meal!” does sound pretty yummy.  Lots of good stuff here, folks!

 

 

In the meantime, tune into WNEP at noon, there should be a live broadcast from the new bureau and lots of other fun surprises.

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My new luxury golf cart

By M Davies   /     Aug 06, 2012  /     Annoyances, The WTF File  /     0 Comment

Welp.  My suspicions were correct.  Something was majorly fucked up with my Versa.  A day or two after this post, a co-worker and my husband both noticed that my car was leaking oil in a major way.  Fan-fuckin-tastic.  I had even less time to work with trading my car in than I had initially thought.

 

As you know, I put down a deposit on a car at Wyoming Valley Motors.  In the meantime, I decided to shop around.  I stopped at a Fiat dealer after work on that Wednesday.  Car shopping all day Tuesday left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I had a slight attiude when I walked into the car dealership.  The sales person seemed uninterested in my business.  I responded by threatening to walk out of the damn place.  After the pissing match between the two of us was over, I decided to test drive a Fiat 500 through Archbald.  I ended up really really liking the car.

 

Since it was getting late, the dealership decided to work up some numbers and check my credit and call me back the next morning.  The next morning, I received a call to let me know that my crappy-ass credit qualified me for 0% financing at 60 months or 1.9% financing at 72 months.  Honestly, I think I was paying about 8% financing on the Versa.  It was already a win in my book.

 

Now it was just a matter of finding the model and color I wanted.  Easy enough right?  Wrong.  There are seriously about 8 million different colors (interior and exterior) and models to pick from.  I finally found a gray model with dark leather, a sunroof, rims, and a back-up cam.  It soooooo reminds me of my old VW Bug.

 

(side by side)

 

      

 

I signed the papers on Thursday night, I ended up sticking around at the dealership until well after they closed (9pm).  They were very accommodating and helped me move the contents of my car over to the new one.  I forgot that I left the sledgehammer in the trunk.  That was interesting to explain, believe you me.  The guys invited me to have a beer with them in the parking lot in celebration and soon after I pulled away in my new “luxury golf cart” (my friends words, not mine).

 

Friday was the day I was scheduled to pick up the VW Jetta I had picked out at Wyoming Valley Motors.  I called to let them know I purchased a vehicle elsewhere.  I had no remorse as I got a better deal (1100 more dollars for the trade-in) and better financing.  However, WVM was very upset.  All that I really cared about was getting my deposit on the Jetta back.  They were more than happy to take to take the deposit over the phone, but were making a huge issue out of refunding the money back to me over the phone.  “You have to come in to get it back on your card.”   Working an odd shift and living 30 miles away from the dealership does not allow me that luxury, sorry.  After playing phone tag for 4 days, I finally had enough and put in a dispute with my bank.  I received the money back.  Jerks.  Avoid Wyoming Valley Motors like the plague, if you can.

 

I still enjoy the car.  The only thing I’m (slightly) upset about is the fact that I was not told that the sunroof in the Fiat was not “a power sunroof”.  Basically, I have a large window in my roof that doesn’t move.  The gas MPG on it is exactly the same as the Versa, thankfully.

 

Also, another update.  Remember that big accident that happened right near my house?  They cut down the large pine tree that the car crashed into.  The unfortunate thing is now I have a direct view into the trailer park.

 

 

The word on the street in Sweet Valley is that the kid that crashed into the tree has life altering injuries.  My husband said that he noticed a change collection container in a local business that made mention of injuries to his brain stem.  A quick search of Google makes me sad to think that this could have all been avoided if he wasn’t speeding.

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