Jennifer D. Wade Journal

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Blog posts February 2007

JetBlue = PennDOT?

Check THIS out.  Classic.  It's not true - is it?

Thanks to A BIG FAT SLOB for the link.

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Nothing's Ever Easy, Is It?

Ya know, you try to be effiicient.  You try to do the right thing in a timely manner.  You try to take care of business.  And, life just laughs in your face, doesn't it?

For example.  Yesterday, I filed the last of my tax returns.  Or, rather, I should say, I filed the last of my amended tax returns.  I actually filed the original returns about two weeks ago.  But, no sooner had I done that, than I found out that SOMEONE had asked for (and been granted) a two-week extension to send out a certain form.  Said form arrived a few days later, and I amended the returns as necessary.  Not major changes, but enough to be an annoyance.

Ummm, in the future, if you can't send out the actual forms by the end of January, how about the letters saying you can't send out the forms?  Can they at least be sent out by the end of January?

Another example.  One week ago today, I finished digging out from the Valentine's storm.  I figure it took me a total of seven or eight hours of shoveling over a three day stretch to clear off the sidewalk, the porch steps and the driveway.  Everything was great - until a couple days ago.  We had some warmer weather, and the melting process sent the snow from the little roof over my front porch crashing down onto the steps and the sidewalk.  Of course, all this happened while I was at work.  So, by the time I got home (after midnight), the temperature had dropped and the chuncks of fallen snow and ice had frozen to the steps and the sidewalk.  That's where they are now, so I guess I will try to get that cleared off today - so things will be ready for whatever snow and ice comes tomorrow night. 

The fun around here just never stops.

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Don't Let This Happen to You


HAMPTON BAYS, NY, FEB. 18 (UPI) -- Police on the east end of New York's Long Island found the body of a man dead more than a year sitting in front of his television, which was still on.

Vincenzo Riccardi, who was blind from diabetes, had apparently not been seen or heard from since December 2005, Newsday reported. But his neighbors, thinking he had been hospitalized or moved to a nursing home, did not think to check on him.

The body was found Thursday by officers in Southampton who were checking on a report that a pipe had burst.

Jeff Bacchus, an assistant at the Suffolk County morgue, said the body was well preserved because of a lack of humidity.

"You could see his face. He still had hair on his head," Bacchus said. "I've been on the job 35 years, and I've never seen anyone dead that long."

Riccardi had been a widower for several years. A neighbor told Newsday she used to read his mail to him and perform other tasks, but stopped when they had a fight in the summer of 2005, after Riccardi demanded that she stay and help him when she had to go to work.

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I Heart Snow - Not!

A woman named Brandi Senkus submitted this photograph to WNEP.  I believe it was taken Thursday or Friday along Route 11 in Berwick, Columbia County.  You can see the traffic back-up caused by the closure of Interstate 80.  Improper spelling aside, I think the sign says it all. 

For more pictures of the storm, go to WNEP.COM and look for the Valentine's Storm slideshow.

Here are my thoughts, in no particular order, on the storm and everything that went with it:

 - The height of the storm came on Wednesday afternoon, just as I was trying to make my way into work.  The 18 mile trip took me about three hours, which included some time stuck in a snow bank until a passing wrecker pulled me out.  That was on an entrance ramp to 81.  I also got stuck in two other spots along the way.  Fortunately, there were people around to push me out.  Thank you.

 - As harrowing as the trip to work was, overall, I was lucky.  I made it to work safely, vehicle intact.  And, thanks to my news director, I avoided getting stuck in the 17 hour backup along Interstate 81 by the airport.  Just after I got unstuck from the snowbank, the ND called to tell me that the interstate was being closed and I should get off at the next exit.  I did.  The rest of the drive was no picnic, and I had to stay at the station until the following morning, but at least I wasn't trapped on an interstate.

 - By the time I left for work on Wednesday afternoon, it was snowing steadily.  We had already had a few inches of snow, followed by sleet and freezing rain.  If the roads had been plowed at any point up to then, I couldn't see it.  So much for PennDOT's promise that they were prepared and would "keep up" with the storm.  It also seemed to me that there were a lot more vehicles on the road than there should have been.  Maybe the state should have closed the interstates sooner, or maybe some people should have used some common sense and stayed home!

 - The state needs to get its act together.  As a news organization, we tried to give viewers the most accurate information possible.  But, when PennDOT is telling you one thing, Emergency Management is telling you another, and drivers are calling from the road telling you something else, who do you believe?  What do you tell people?  Honestly, EMA and drivers were providing better information than PennDOT.  The people in charge of the roads don't know the situation on the roads.  How sad is that?

 - This situation underscores the need for Pennsylvania to have a capable and credible lieutenant governor.  According to the PA WEBSITE"Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll has been appointed by Governor Edward G. Rendell to chair the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council.  As chair of this Council, Lieutenant Governor Knoll leads the interagency taskforce as it seeks to prevent, prepare for, and respond to natural and human-caused emergencies in the Commonwealth."

 Basically, that means that the Lt. Governor should coordinate and be the "face" of the state's efforts to deal with a storm or any other kind of emergency situation.  So, where was she?  We didn't see her during the storm and we didn't see her during any of the other severe weather events that we've had recently.  In fact, when was the last time we saw Knoll doing anything in a high-profile, public capacity (and by that I mean, when was the last time she did anything newsworthy)?  What does she do?

If I recall, this emergency management facet of the lt. governor's job description was added about 10 years ago, during the Ridge administration.  Mark Schweiker was lt. governor then.  Later, when the coal miners were trapped in western PA, he was governor, but he was still out there as the unified voice.  The updates, the information came from him.  Pennsylvania needs someone to do now what Mark Schweiker did then.

 -  Pennsylvania is now a national embarrassment.  A check of surrounding states revealed that none of them had any interstates shut down for extended periods of time - a couple hours at most.  Even in Oswego, New York, where they have 12 feet of snow, traffic is moving and no one seems to be trapped in their homes because their streets haven't been plowed.

Yet, what do we have in Pennsylvania?  Drivers stranded on interstates for hours and days!  On Thursday night, the situation on I-78 was bad enough to warrant being the lead story on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson.  The lead!  A national news organization could find no more important story that day than the disaster that was Pennsylvania's highways.  They even had a reporter live in Berks County!  Everyone in the country now knows how poorly Pennsylvania managed this storm.  It is never good to be the lead on ABC's World News.

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Britney is Bald

And you thought I was going to talk about the winter storm, didn't you?  Don't worry.  I'll get there.  I have a few thoughts.  But, while I'm putting them in order, first things first. 


In this picture (that I took from, which got it from KABC), you can see that Britney has no hair.  I believe that this was in or near the tattoo parlor that she went to after she shaved her head, which was pretty much the first thing she did after enduring less than 24 hours of rehab.

Now, if you read the STORY on, it tells you that Britney told someone at the tattoo parlor that she shaved her head because she is tired of people touching her.

OK.  Here's my take.  If I were some sort of celebrity and had people following me around and taking my picture everywhere I go, I'd probably freak out, too.

As a member of the media, I suppose I share some of the blame for promoting the celebrity fishbowl culture that currently exists.  When Hugh Grant got busted several years ago, did I show his mugshot on my newscast?  Yep.  Nick Nolte?  Yep.  Paris Hilton arriving home after her arrest for DUI?  Yep.  I routinely put stories such as that in my newscasts.  I think they have a certain amount of news value:  well-known people breaking the law, or getting married, or getting divorced.  It's interesting.

What's not interesting, is a celebrity doing routine and mundane things.  For example, the aforementioned recently featured a brief video clip of one of the Olsen twins picking up her dog from the groomer.  The girl drove herself to the shop, got out of the car, walked into the shop, got her dog, walked back to the car, put the dog in the car, got into the car herself, and left.  And, she did it all while about 10 photographers snapped her every move.  Why?  Where is the news value in that?  As far as I know, this Olsen twin isn't making headlines for anything scandalous these days.  So, can't she pick up her dog in peace?

Now, compare the Olsen twin to Britney Spears.  If Olsen is, pardon the pun, hounded when she does something as routine as picking up a pet, imagine what Spears must go through.  She's a much bigger star, so she probably has 20 photographers following her everywhere she goes.  Where is someone like Britney Spears supposed to go for some alone time?  Maybe if she keeps doing crazy stuff, she'll get some alone time whether she wants it or not.

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Did Someone Say Snow?

10:10 AM on Tuesday.  By this time tomorrow, there should be 6+ inches of snow on the ground with more to come.  Estimated totals say a about a foot before it's all said and done, with areas to the north getting more.  I guess I'll have some shoveling to do.  I also guess that I can't complain too much considering that we've only had a few inches all winter up to this point.  As far as I'm concerned, that's a lot better than upstate New York, where they now have so much so that it will probably be August until it all melts.  Yikes!

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There sure has been a lot of TWPATA going on this week.  In the world of news, TWPATA is an acronym for "That's What People Are Talking About."  Want to do a story that viewers will be interested in?  Find out TWPATA.

Currently, there are two news stories that have people talking all over the country.  One, of course is the death of Anna Nicole Smith.  The other is the astronaut accused of trying to kidnap and/or kill her romantic rival.  Personally, I can't get enough of either one.

It was Monday night when a story about the arrest of the astronaut first crossed the wire.  My newscast was pretty well set by that point.  But, after reading about the pepper spray and the steel hammer, and after getting a peek at the mugshot, I knew I had to squeeze it into the rundown.  So, I wrote a short version of the story.  Soon after that, I learned that an affiliate in Florida would be sending a longer, more complete story.  Ultimately, that's the one I aired, dropping another story of similar length to make room for it.  I could tell by the reaction of the people in the newsroom that I made the right call.

Three days later, it's clear that this astronaut has problems.  It's also clear that she will have a hard time living down the images - mental and otherwise - associated with the story:  the mugshot; the picture of her being escorted to and from various places with a coat over her head; and, of course, the obligatory phrase "wearing adult diapers so she could drive 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando without stopping." (Reminds me of the Texas Cheerleader Mom who "tried to hire a hitman to kill the mother of her daughter's cheerleading rival."  It also makes me hope that I don't have any "rivals" out there.)

Then, Thursday, Anna Nicole Smith died suddenly. Like the John "I confess to killing JonBenet Ramsey" Karr story, word of Smith's death made everyone in the newsroom stop and say, "WHAT?!?"  It's like, you know that the past 10-15 years of her life have pretty much been a highly publicized train wreck, but still, you didn't expect her to die.  At least, I didn't.

What I expect now is that it will take a long time to straighten out the mess that Anna Nicole left behind.  Who's the baby daddy?  Will the kid ever see a dime of the millions Smith was still trying to get out of her old, dead husband's family? And, what about this TrimSpa lawsuit?  That's what people will be talking about for years to come.  I feel so sorry for her baby girl.

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Super Bowl Recap

Here's how I spent Super Bowl Sunday:  I went to a friend's house for a party.  We were all rather appalled by Katie Couric's frizzy pre-game hair.  I had a couple of beers and a variety of snacks.  I defeated a 10-year-old in a game of air hockey (was that wrong of me?).  I thought Prince's halftime show was good, though I would have liked him to do all of his own songs.  I left midway through the start of the 4th quarter, when it was clear the Colts would win.

Overall:  Party - A; 
               Halftime show - B+
               Game - there was a game?

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Where's the Hype?

Is it just me?  Am I missing something?  Two days before Super Bowl 41 and you know what?  I'm not feeling it.  What I am feeling is that Sunday will be just another Sunday and there will be a football game on TV.  Also, it will be cold.  And, we might have a little bit of snow.  That's about it.  Colts?  Bears?  Who cares - unless you happen to live in those particular areas.

My station, as of this writing, has not done the usual "let's see who's rushing out to buy/rent big screen TVs for the game" story.  And, quite frankly, I don't know that anyone in this area is doing that.  Even the usual hype over the Super Bowl commercials seems to be downgraded.  The Doritos "do it yourself" ads seem to be getting the most buzz, but most of the other commercials I've seen?  Not impressed.

 On Super Bowl Sunday, I will be prepared to be underwhelmed.

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