Jennifer D. Wade Journal

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Blog posts February 2006

And Now, a Word About Anthrax

Anthrax.  In a world where, as far as I know, we still don't know who sent letters filled with deadly Anthrax to various people (including leading lawmakers) and some of those people died (not including leading lawmakers) in the weeks immediately following 9/11, is the following a story:  A professional dancer from New York City collapses following a performance at Mansfield University and is rushed to a hospital in Bradford County.  Several days later, it is announced that he is suffering from inhalation anthrax, contracted naturally from some goat skins that he brought back from Africa in December.  The initial medical reports are that he is doing well and that no one else is in danger of getting sick, although a handful of people who may have been exposed to the goat skins are taking Cipro as a precaution.  As of tonight, however, the man has reportedly "taken a turn for the worse."

OK.  It is a story.  I just told it.  The better question is, is it a story for TV in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market.  The answer is I don't know.  On two occasions, I have almost put the story in my newscast.  And, on two occasions, I have dropped it when stories which I considered "better" came along.  Thus far, my station has mentioned the anthrax story once, though I believe the story that I dropped tonight will get aired on the Saturday morning newscasts.  That will, at least, get us on board with the story so that if the man dies, any coverage won't come out of a total vacuum.

My reasons for downplaying the story and not really minding that I've dropped it twice are:  a) the victim, for lack of a better word, is from New York City, which is not in our viewing area; b) the victim collapsed at Mansfield University which is also not in our viewing area, though it is in Pennsylvania; c) the victim is being treated at a hospital in Bradford County, which is in our viewing area but on the fringe; d) by the time the inhalation anthrax was diagnosed, the man had already been in the hospital for a few days; e) it is a naturally-ocurring form of anthrax which the victim did not contract in the U.S.; f) he's not contagious, so no one in our area is in danger. 

My reasons for considering the story and feeling slightly guilty about dropping it are:  a)  people are interested because they hear the word "anthrax" and get freaked out; b) the stations in New York are making a big deal about it; c) a lot of people in our area have the ability to watch New York news and because stations there are covering it, a lot of people think it's a big deal.

So, again I ask, is it a story for TV in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market?  In the largest sense of "what is news", I suppose so.  I mean, every day, we air stories from all over the place about all kinds of things.  There's no rule that says "a case of naturally ocurring anthrax", no matter where it happens, could not be one of those stories.

Yet, I wonder if it would ever be one of those stories if the circumstances were different.  If, let's say, the man had collapsed in New York and were being treated at a hospital in New York,  I'm sure the New York stations would cover it, but would we?  Under those circumstances, I'm sure I would not include it in my newscast because who, in Scr/WB, cares about some guy they never heard of getting sick in New York City?  And, he's not even contagious!  Even with the New York hype, I wouldn't run that story.

But does the fact that he happened to end up at a hospital in our area make it newsworthy for Scr/WB?  Not in and of itself, I don't think.  But, it does improve the odds.  And, to use the opposite of my previous example, what if he had ended up in a hospital that was more centrally located than the one in Bradford County, say CMC in Scranton or W-B General or Geisinger in Danville.  Then would it be a story?  Not only do the odds increase, but I bet we'd do team coverage with as many angles as we could think of.

One more time.  Given the actual circumstances, is this case of inhalation anthrax a story for the Scr/WB market?  Maybe not at first, but it's getting to be one, and it will defnitely be one if the man dies.  Final answer.


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The Old-fashioned Way

If you're old like me, you'll remember those Smith-Barney commercials where John Houseman said in a raspy voice, "They make money the old-fashioned way.  They earn it."  Well, I'll just have to keep earning my own money, I guess.  No $365 million Powerball jackpot for me.  I did manage to match two of the numbers, but that doesn't even get me $2.  Oh, well.

I did get some money from Uncle Sam, though.  Thanks to Turbo Tax, I did my taxes a couple weeks ago in about an hour.  My refund came on Friday.  Right into my account.  Sweet!

I'm about 1/3 of the way through the final part of the tech writing project.  There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. 

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The End is in Sight

254 questions down, 46 (or maybe a few more) to go.  I just completed work on Section VI of the tech writing project.  One more section to go, and then maybe a few additions to things I overlooked in other sections.  Aaagh!  I cannot wait for this to be over.  My contact hasn't brought up the possibility of another project yet, and neither have I.  But, I don't think I want to do another one.  It's just too much.

One of the reasons it's too much is because of work.  Things just keep getting busier and busier.  This week, one of our producers (a woman) got fired and a director (a man) got suspended for a week.  The official reason was because of a "policy violation."  So that's what thery're calling it these days.  Anyway, it means Marisa is doing the 6 TFN, which means more work for me at night.

The big news yesterday was another firing, although this one didn't happen at my station.  The competition fired their news director Friday afternoon.  He happens to be the same guy who prompted me to leave NEPA several years ago when he was my boss.  Again, don't know the full story, but I could make several pretty good guesses.

Tonight, I'm going to Bloomsburg with Jill.  We're meeting Val at a Thai place we went to a couple years ago.  The owners are a little flaky, but the food is good - and I don't even particularly like Thai food!  We wanted Marisa to go, but she had other plans.

Oh, well.  My immediate plan is to make the bed and get as much cleaning done as I can.  then, I will pick up a Powerball ticket on the way to Jill's.  $365 million.  How sweet would that be!?!

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I Almost Died for Milk

OK.  I admit, the title's a little dramatic.  But, it's the truth.  Within the past hour, I almost died for milk.

Here's what happened.  At approximately 11:17 a.m., I went to Price Chopper (a.k.a. "the Chopper") for a list of stuff.  I didn't actually have a written list, but, if I did have one, milk would have been written somewhere near the top.  Right after salad in a bag and yougurt and before bananas. 

 Anyway, the store was mobbed - on a Tuesday morning!  I try to park next to one of the cart corrals, but this morning, I had to park at least 6 spaces away.  Then, before I could go into the store, I had to wait at least 30 seconds at a crosswalk for traffic to clear.  And then, when I got into the store, there were no big carts available.  Usually, there are at least 50, I'd say.  But today, none.  So, I had to settle for a little basket.  Which meant that, had I written down a list, T.P. would have been crossed off the bottom of it as I walked in the door.

OK.  So, I'm finally in the Chopper, basket in hand.  Before I can walk the 5 yards to the bags of salad, I realize that I couldn't find a cart because they're all in use.  By old people.  I don't know if the Social Security checks came today or it was triple coupons for seniors or what.  I don't know.  But, for some reason, at least 3 out of 4 shoppers were old.  And, every one of them had a cart.  And, by the time I got to the dairy aisle, all those carts were parked in front of the yougurt.

Fast forward to the checkout line which, all things considered, went well.  The woman in front of me did not even need a price check.  Although, there was a brief scare when, as she was moving away, and after my stuff was already being rung up, the woman realized she had forgotten to pay for a bag of pretzels!  Seems she opened them to keep the toddler quiet.  Anway, the checkout ladies took care of it at another register.  So, no harm, and I guess I should give the woman props for being honest.

Now, I'm ready - really ready - to leave the store.  I'm out the door and back at the crosswalk.  I stop momentarily, but realize that there are other people in the crosswalk, so I go ahead.  On my right, I see a car approaching.  I can see that it's a little old lady in a big brown boat of a car.  She has a stop sign.  Then, I realize that she's not looking at the stop sign and it doesn't look like she's going to stop!  So, I stopped - right in the middle of the crosswalk - and watched as the old lady in her big brown boat of a car sailed right on by.  As she passed, she was looking to her right, so not only did she not see the stop sign, I don't think she ever saw me!

And that is how I almost died for milk.

Note to self - avoid the Chopper on Tuesdays.

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She's Out!

As of this morning, the troll is out.  The woman who invented sick children for her own personal gain has been freed from the big house after a judge reduced her bail.  It'll be interesting to see where she goes.  I mean, people know where she lives, and people are pissed!

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Lower than Low

I'd like you to meet the children.  Not my children, of course.  I don't have any.  But, if you like, I could make some up.  I mean, that's what a woman in Wilkes-Barre did - allegedly, of course.  According to prosecutors, she invented more than a dozen sick children so that she could rip off a charity.

Here's basically what she's accused of doing.  For years, she ran the Make-a-Wish chapter in NEPA.  (In case you don't know, Make-a-Wish raises money so that terminally ill children can have at least one wish fulfilled in their lives).  Well, this woman apparently wasn't satisfied with helping out the real sick children.  She allegedly invented sick children - making up names, forging signatures - and then bought stuff for herself using money that was meant for them!  This supposedly went on for about 9 years, with her making up about 2 kids a year.  Back in December, cops raided her house and carted out everything from TV's to a hot tub!  The charges finally came yesterday, and we had a nice long shot of the perp walk as police hauled this woman (who is short and fat like a troll!) off to jail.  

After so many years in the biz, I've seen and heard people do a lot of sick, slimy things - abusing children, abandoning puppies, living in filth, murdering.  And, after so many years in the biz, not much of it gets to me; not much of it surprises me. In general, I've come to expect people to behave at the level of the lowest common denominator.  I'm often more surprised when someone goes out of their way to help others.  But, this woman, oooooh.  This one got to me.  She is going right to hell, maybe even below hell, if that's possible.  I certainly hope it is.

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Numbers Game

Powerball jackpot - $157,000,000

Amount I contributed - $5

Total number of numbers on my ticket - 30

Total number of numbers I matched - 1

Amount of luck I have - 0

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