Friday, December 30, 2011

NEPA Blogs year in review 2011

A year ago I was about ready to let NEPA Blogs die.

I had been letting the site drift into oblivion for a very long time. You can see that by looking at the number of posts each month on the "Blog Archive" on the sidebar. The site wasn't a priority for me.  It was difficult to locate blogs through brute-force searches alone.  The site showed no signs of approaching "critical mass" - the point where incoming links from linked sites would cause a sharp, sustained, and ever-rising increase in site traffic. I was disappointed with the site, and tired of putting effort into it. I wasn't planning to shut down NEPA Blogs, but I really didn't want to invest any more time into it.

Another "Blog Fest" was coming up in the Spring. I found about it by accident, while reading through some of the older posts on Dave Yonki's LuLac Political Letter. Dave's posts are titled more-or-less numerically, so the only way to have any clue as to what he's writing about is to go and read through each post.  So unless you're willing to put in the effort to pore over each post to see if there's anything that really interests you, it's very easy to miss something. Normally Gort would announce these get-togethers on his Gort42 site with much fanfare, but Gort was taking a break from blogging at the time. It turned out Joe Valenti had also announced it on his Pittston Politics site, but due to some coding bugs Joe's new posts were not appearing on the live updates sidebar on NEPA Blogs or anywhere else - so again, unless you were actively going to his site and checking it for updates, you weren't going to see anything.

That's when Michelle stepped in with some ideas for reviving and reestablishing NEPA Blogs. "Blog Fests" in the past had been less gatherings of bloggers and more opportunities for candidates for political office to get face-time with political bloggers, and vice-versa. Michelle wanted to try to bring in more non-political bloggers, many of whom might have been turned off in the past by the overwhelmingly political tone of the gatherings. She put considerable effort into publicizing the event, getting a notice published in The Weekender and a mention in Happenings magazine.  She contacted bloggers, posted notices, spread the word - and in the end the gathering was still mostly politicians trying to kiss up to political bloggers, and political bloggers letting them.  But the ball was rolling. Things were changing.

Michelle breathed new life into NEPA Blogs. Working together, she and I revised the look of the site for the first time in years. She worked out a way to replace the blog title with an image that incorporates the blog title. We started off with an image that had been gracing the site for several years, but then began rotating through different photos of various scenes throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Then Michelle took things to the next level. I believe she had created the NEPA Bloggers group on Facebook some time before, but she shepherded the group through one of Mark Zuckerberg's periodic catastrophic revisions, saving the group from the doom of being "archived." She also created a Twitter account for the site, and then brought us into the second decade of the twenty-first century by establishing a presence on Google+ as well.  Thanks to Michelle's efforts, NEPA Blogs was now sending out tendrils into all of the inter-tubes.

But Michelle wasn't content with achieving domination of print and online media. While rapidly adding blogs she was locating by scanning through the followers of the NEPA Blogs Twitter account, as well as tracking down and adding blogs the old-fashioned way (resulting in more blogs being added in the month of April than in the previous twelve months combined), Michelle was also making arrangements for NEPA Blogs to make inroads into other local media.

While she was working on that, we continued to add more and more blogs to NEPA Blogs, and more members to the Facebook and Google+ groups, and more followers to Twitter. I also came up with some simple button designs that people could add to their blogs to announce that they were listed on NEPA Blogs - and with the addition of a little bit of code, they could then link back to NEPA Blogs!  (Michelle wrote up very thorough instructions for doing this here.) I also created a basic set of instructions for submitting images for use as the NEPA Blogs header.

I was doing a brute force blog search in May when I came across something disturbing: a "scraper" blog that was reposting blog entries by bloggers throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and making it look like the blog entries had been written specifically for this other site. The newest entry was something I had just posted to my personal blog, but there were other entries by plenty of other people linked by NEPA Blogs - including, I think, NEPA Blogs itself. (Unfortunately, there were no blogs included on this scraper blog that weren't already listed on NEPA Blogs.) A few carefully-worded messages later and the problem (which is to say, the site) went away, but this got me thinking: if something is worth stealing, maybe it's worth having in the first place.

(UPDATE, 12/30/2011 10:40 PM: It was in the aftermath of this event that I mentioned to Michelle that someone else was effectively squatting on the domain name - a now-defunct "closed network" group of blogs that was started a few months after I created NEPA Blogs in 2006. Michelle immediately snatched up the domain and set it up as a redirect to While this was done as a precautionary move at the time, it turned out to be very useful later when we only had to give out the .org address rather than the full blogspot address.)

In June Michelle made the big announcement: NEPA Blogs would be featured in a half-hour segment of Blue Ridge Communication's ComputerWise TV. This was the biggest thing that had happened yet! We were very excited and did everything we could to prepare for the show. Despite nearly dying practically before we got on the road and then having a difficult time locating the well-hidden Blue Ridge Communication facility (even with a GPS!), the show went incredibly smoothly. George Roberts was an excellent host and made us feel extremely comfortable throughout the interview, which was broadcast live. Unfortunately, the show is considered a sort of premium for Blue Ridge Communications customers, so even online rebroadcasts are only available to subscribers. Maybe someday they'll change their policy...

The summer rolled by with plenty of blogs being added each month. Jessica Durkin of WFTE Community Radio contacted us and asked us to do a half-hour show with her! Despite the usual misadventures (I got us lost in the Hill Section of Scranton, and a scrambled address nearly led us to pound on someone's door and tell them we were there for the interview), the interview once again went very smoothly. We left with thoughts of turning this into a regular thing, if we could all coordinate our schedules. (Which meant, if my schedule could ever become stable enough to coordinate with everyone else's.)

And then the next big break: Local television station WBRE was creating PA Live!, a new hour-long lifestyles program focusing on Northeastern Pennsylvania. Once again, through Michelle's efforts we were going to be a part of it! They brought us in to "audition" at the studio. By then, of course, we were veterans of television and radio. Having just done two half-hour programs, one live and one recorded and rebroadcast without edits, doing a ninety-second spot would be no problem. Since my schedule allowed me the flexibility to appear in the afternoon every week, it was decided that I would be the NEPA Blogs spokesmodel. If everything went according to plan, the show would start the second Monday in  September. The NEPA Blogs Blog of the Week segment would run every Tuesday, starting with the second show. If everything went according to plan.

It nearly didn't.

Nature had other plans.  In late August an earthquake hit, one of the strongest east coast earthquakes known. Shortly afterwards Tropical Storm Irene scraped up along the east coast, saturating the ground with water and punishing the region with high winds. Trees fell everywhere, resulting in massive and sustained power outages. (Michelle was without electricity for many days.) Then, just a few weeks later, the ragged remnants of Tropical Storm Lee cut across Northeastern Pennsylvania by another path,  further soaking already saturated grounds. Then the storm parked itself in upstate New York and poured rain into the headwaters of the Susquehanna, much like Agnes did thirty-nine years earlier. And the flooding from this storm resembled that brought on by Agnes - except this time, things were even worse. And this time, parts of the Wyoming Valley were protected by an enhanced levee system.

But not everywhere. And suddenly, the once-in-a-lifetime flooding of Agnes in 1972 became a twice-in-a-lifetime event for anyone who had lived so long. And in the midst of it, Michelle took the initiative to use the networking power of NEPA Blogs and all of the social media associated with it to focus on giving help to those affected by the flood.  Immediately this became our most popular post ever, as people scanned through the extensive list of links to look for ways they could give (or even get) help.  This single post received thousands of hits.  Since that time NEPA Blogs has seen an increase in overall readership that continues to this day.

WBRE survived the flood unscathed, and PA Live went on as planned.  One thing changed - the first Blog of the Week was hastily revised to be the Susquehanna River Sentinel.  Fifteen more shows have come and gone since then as of this writing, and in just four weeks PA Live will be airing its 100th episode!

At almost the same time that PA Live! made its debut, I was also scheduled to participate in a Bloggers' Roundtable discussion at the Vintage Theater in Scranton, representing both my own personal blog and NEPA Blogs. I appeared alongside bloggers Rich Howells, Justin Vacula, and Tom Borthwick.  Together we did an excellent job of communicating a broad view of blogging to the gathered audience. On a personal level this was an excellent networking opportunity that opened up new vistas of possibility for me.

Meanwhile, Gort resumed his blogging activities, taking a more active role in the Fall Edition of Blog Fest and organizing a smaller, more intimate bloggers' get-together in early November. He also got in on the TV thing in December, appearing as a featured guest on WYLN's Storm Politics show.

In October I realized that while posting our past header images to the NEPA Blogs Facebook page was nice, it didn't really make these images available to anyone who wasn't part of the Facebook group - and subjected them to the whims of Mark Zuckerberg. So I created a single post to which we would append each old header as the new header was activated. And as the weeks rolled by it became clear that the NEPA Blogs header image collection was gradually providing a complete photographic record of Northeastern Pennsylvania, in all its beauty and ugliness, in its mundane and sublime aspects, as seen by many different individuals from throughout the area. Scrolling through the images could really give you a sense of what Northeastern Pennsylvania is.

Thanks mainly to Michelle's efforts, we've added an enormous number of blogs to NEPA Blogs in 2011. And, as always, some of the blogs that we've linked to have soared, some have faltered, and some have drifted off into oblivion or simply shut down altogether. That's just the way of things in the blogosphere, and there's no reason NEPA's corner of the blogosphere should be any different. We still haven't reached critical mass, still haven't achieved a sustained chain reaction in which the traffic from linked blogs to NEPA Blogs and back out again to the linked blogs goes into an ever-increasing upward spiral. Maybe we never will. I don't let it get me down anymore. We've got a great team of co-administrators here, with Michelle keeping us on the cutting edge of all media, both old and new, and providing the necessary shots of adrenaline to the heart of NEPA Blogs, and Gort thinking about the politics so we don't have to. And me...well, I just do whatever it is that I do. Write pretty and talk pretty and look pretty on TV - all with varying degrees of success, I suppose.

So. Onward to 2012. I leave you with this video, created by Michelle, inspired by Mark Cour's always popular video flapdoodles. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Laughing At My Nightmare!

After I did my bit on PA Live! yesterday, Monica Madeja turned to me and told me excitedly about a remarkable blog she had read about in the Allentown Morning Call over the Christmas holidays.

Allentown Morning Call: "Happiness is always an option"

It's a blog by Shane Burcaw, a young man with a severe form of muscular dystrophy. His blog is called Laughing At My Nightmare!.

Laughing At My Nightmare!

I have a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy that will eventually kill me. I have been in a wheelchair since I was two. I love to laugh and my life is pretty funny. Allow me to share...

Now, I immediately thought of a recent minor controversy involving the precise definition of "NEPA" and how, by pretty much any definition, places like Allentown and Bethlehem are actually part of the Lehigh Valley and not included in Northeastern Pennsylvania. But Monica twisted my arm and persuaded me to make yet another exception to the "NEPA" requirement for NEPA Blogs. So once again we allow one of our neighbors from the wrong side of the Lehigh Tunnel to come and hang with the cool kids from Northeastern Pennsylvania.  (If this keeps up we'll need to spin off a new site called "Lehigh Valley Blogs!")

Let's all welcome Shane Burcaw of Bethlehem to the NEPA Blogs family!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pa Live! Blog of the Week: The Plastic Waffle

NEPA Blogs will be presenting a "Blog of the Week" on the WBRE's PA Live! every Tuesday. PA Live! airs weekday afternoons on WBRE from 4:00 to 5:00.

Watch this episode on the PA Live! site:

Our PA Live! Blog of the Week this week is The Plastic Waffle (

Bob Merc grew up in the 1970's and music has always been a big part of his life.  Disabled with rheumatoid arthritis for the past nine years, he created his music blog, The Plastic Waffle, as a way to share music with the world - and keep his sanity. His blog covers bands from 10CC ("I'm Not in Love") to ZZ Top and everything in between - nearly five hundred bands so far! (The term "plastic waffle" comes from the song "An Elpee's Worth of Toons" by Todd Rundgren, one of Bob's favorite performers. It refers to a record album, made of plastic and full of little indentations.)

The Plastic Waffle features a new and different artist every day of the week. His posts contains facts and information, trivia, videos, and reviews about the artist. He also has links to take you to the best places to buy concert tickets, music equipment, and take music lessons.

While Bob can't get around as much as he'd like, he sees music as a way to bridge the gap between people, and his blog has attracted visitors from over eighty countries in the past few months alone. Blogging gives him a way to connect with the rest of the world that might not otherwise be possible, and it allows him to share his passion - his love of music - with people from all over.

So what's your passion? Do you enjoy art, or music, or food? Maybe you enjoy coin collecting, or setting up model trains, or geocaching? There are people all over the world who share your interest, and may have something to share with you. A blog is a great way to share your passion with the world, and connect with people from all over.  Why not give it a shot and see what people from the rest of the world have to say!

If you have a blog you would like us to link on NEPA Blogs, or know of a blog you think we should link, please let us know! You can always drop us a line at!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Unity Church Wilkes-Barre

This is another site that is not exactly a blog, though it does contain some bloglike features and may at some point incorporate a blog:

Unity Church Wilkes-Barre

From the "Welcome" part of their front page:

We are a spiritual haven in the greater Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area and beyond. We welcome all individuals who are seeking a spiritual path and a spiritual home. Our doors are open to all who seek to find their oneness with God and with all life.

Unity is considered more a way of life than a religion. It seeks to apply the principles taught by Jesus in a practical way to enhance our way of living in the world today. May you find the joy of unconditional love, the blessing of inner peace, and the inspiration to become all that God created you to Unity of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania!

Our Mission Statement:
Unity  is a spiritual community built on Love. We offer positive, practical, spiritual ideas to assist people to heal and prosper their lives.

We'll be adding this site to our sidebar list of NEPA Companies & Organizations.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

PA Live! Blog of the Week: The Nest Effect

NEPA Blogs will be presenting a "Blog of the Week" on the WBRE's PA Live! every Tuesday. PA Live! airs weekday afternoons on WBRE from 4:00 to 5:00.

Watch this episode on the PA Live! site:

Our PA Live! Blog of the Week this week is The Nest Effect (

NEPA Blogs doesn't just focus on blogs written by people living in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We also look at blogs written about Northeastern Pennsylvania, and blogs written by people who were originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Nest Effect falls into this last category. It's written by Tiffany, who describes herself as a "a wife / blogger / teacher / organizer / deal-seeker / list-maker / and DIYer." As she tells on her "About" page, she is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania but moved out to Salt Lake City, Utah a few years ago with her high-school sweetheart - who became her husband earlier this year.  But it's clear from Tiffany's posts that she still carries a love of Northeastern Pennsylvania in her heart. She even came back to NEPA to get married, and returns to the area whenever she can.

The lines of one Christmas classic remind us that "there's no place like home for the holidays."  Sadly, not everyone can be home for the holidays. This will be Tiffany's first Christmas not spent in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Like many people who grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania but now live elsewhere, she will find the words of another, more melancholy song apply: "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams."

Not everyone from Northeastern Pennsylvania spends their entire life here. Some move out and make their way in the big wide world. If you're originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania but now live somewhere else, or if you're originally from somewhere else and now live in Northeastern Pennsylvania, you should consider staying in touch with your roots and keeping in contact with friends and family back home through the use of a blog.

To read about all of the blogs that we link to that are written by people who were originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania but now live elsewhere, click here.

If you have a blog you would like us to link on NEPA Blogs, or know of a blog you think we should link, please let us know! You can always drop us a line at!

Monday, December 19, 2011

NEPA Freethought Society

Here's another site that isn't exactly a blog.

NEPA Freethought Society

From their front page:

The NEPA Freethought Society is community of non-believers (atheist, agnostic, freethinker, humanist, secularist, skeptic, bright) in Northeastern PA. Our members come from Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, East Stroudsburg, Hazleton, and the surrounding area.

This site isn't exactly a blog per se, though it does include a news stream and intends to link to members' blogs. It also lists the group's podcasts, including "Discussion on Morals," "Discussion on Religious Faith," "Race & Religion," and the most recent debate, "Does the Christian God Exist" (not yet posted to the podcast page as of this writing.)

More information on the NEPA Freethought Society can be found through their FAQ page and their "Learn More" link.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Here's another blog sent to us via email! It's called justjacq, and it's written by Jacquelyn. Here's a little bit of what she has to say on her "About" page:

I’m a 25 year old girl from Pennsylvania who sees everything, thinks about everything, and reads. What I’m trying to be? A 25 year old girl from Pennsylvania who does all those things and incorporates a healthy living. I’m inspired by those who effortless eat healthy and stay fit. I guess my people watching and book habits don’t really fit that mold. But hey, I’m single, young, and kid-less. I should be able to do it all! So what will you find here?

- My thoughts
- My eats
- My day
- My reads
- My loves
- My friends
- My stories

I want to write about the things I see, the things I think about, what I read, eat, and do. I want to write about those who inspire me and those who need some inspiration. I want to write about everything.

...and things just go from there.

For a blog about everything and more, be sure to check out Jacquelyn's justjacq!

TECHNICAL NOTE: We're being a little fuzzy about the definition of the term "NEPA" here. Jacquelyn's email states:

I recently moved to NEPA (living in Bethlehem) and would love for my little blog to be added to your site. 

Bethlehem is technically in the Lehigh Valley, outside of Northeastern Pennsylvania by most definitions of the term.  But since she asked so nicely, I'm willing to allow our neighbor from the other end of the Lehigh Tunnel to come and hang with the cool kids from NEPA!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Congratulations to Bill Thomas!

Congratulations to Bill Thomas of Cinema Cyclops for being voted Best Local Blogger in Diamond City's Best of Luzerne County poll! Not too shabby for a blog that's only been around since October and has (as of this writing) eleven posts to its credit. Be sure to check out all of Bill's movie reviews!

Don't forget, you can continue to vote for NEPA Blogs for the Best Blog in the Poconos ("People" category, item #7) once per day per IP address through December 31!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's a Keeper

From the NEPA Blogs mailbag:

My name is Christina Hitchcock and I'm a food blogger. On my site, It's a Keeper (, I'm blogging my way through my recipe pile (ala Julie and Julia style). I started with a pile of 300 + recipes that I've collected and decided to cook my way through them and report the results back to my readers.

I've been featured a number of times (see my I've been Featured page - in The Times Tribune, Happenings Magazine and on WNEP. Plus, my husband and I have 2 cookbooks.

Christina is from Madison Township. It's very exciting to know that someone like her is right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania! Be sure to check out her blog, and all the recipes that have gotten her stamp of approval, at It's a Keeper!

If you blog in Northeastern Pennsylvania, blog about Northeastern Pennsylvania, or used to live in Northeastern Pennsylvania and have a blog, please contact us at so we can list you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

PA Live! Blog of the Week: We are: clamco

NEPA Blogs will be presenting a "Blog of the Week" on the WBRE's PA Live! every Tuesday. PA Live! airs weekday afternoons on WBRE from 4:00 to 5:00.

Watch this episode on the PA Live! site:

Our PA Live! Blog of the Week this week is We are: clamco (

We first learned of this blog by tracking back a comment that they left to a post on NEPA Blogs a few months ago. When I told them I wanted to add them to our links list, they said they had thought about submitting their blog to us but didn't think they would fit in since their blog wasn't actually about anything specific. But that's the beauty of "life" blogs: you don't have to write about a specific topic, or have a specific theme. You just blog about whatever you want! We are: clamco is a blog by a family in Northeastern Pennsylvania - Chris, Lorraine, and Megan (the "c", "l", and "m" of "clamco", as explained here) along with a dog and three cats. Their blog documents their day-to-day adventures, whether it's Megan's art, or selling things on eBay, or running in a half-marathon, or taking a family vacation, or preparing for Christmas, or just celebrating the joy of a sunrise.

Once upon a time people sent out annual Christmas letters, detailing the changes in their family's life in the previous year. But with a family blog, you give friends and family a ringside seat to your life as it happens. And someday you may be glad to have a document of your family's life so you can look back and say "Remember when...?" For a great example of a family blog, be sure to check out We are: clamco!

If you have a blog you would like us to link on NEPA Blogs, or know of a blog you think we should link, please let us know! You can always drop us a line at!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mama's Cool Things

Here's a local blogger I found out about through her appearance on PA Live!: Karon Rehrig of Mama's Cool Things ( She's a single mom in Northeastern Pennsylvania whose blog is targeted at moms and specializes in product reviews. From her "About Me" page:

Karon graduated from Penn State and into the world of single mommyhood. After her second child and second career, she discovered the world of blogging. She shares her adventures of trend-hunting for herself and her daughters and their love of traveling. She has worked with many brands and serves as an ambassador for Chevy Girls, TrashCanKidz, Mom Pact, Claritin Mom Crew, Saline Soothers/Boogie Wipes, UbiSoft, Juno Baby and many others.

Check out the cool products Karon is reviewing, and see how you could get in on the act as well, by visiting Mama's Cool Things!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Congratulations to Mike Stevens and Tom Flannery!

Congratulations to Mike Stevens and Tom Flannery, who were jointly voted Best Local Bloggers in Electric City's "Lackawanna County Best Of 2011" poll for their blog Riding Both Rails. Hooray!

Don't forget, you can continue to vote for NEPA Blogs for the Best Blog in the Poconos ("People" category, item #7) once per day per IP address through December 31!

The Nest Effect

Brute-force searches for blogs are getting harder and harder to do. Maybe we've picked all the low-hanging fruit. Maybe we've made this task harder for ourselves, since so many searches for "NEPA blog" or "Northeastern Pennsylvania blog" point back to NEPA Blogs.

But after quite a bit of searching, I found one I haven't seen before. The Nest Effect ( is a blog written by Tiffany, who describes herself as "a wife / blogger / teacher / organizer / deal-seeker / list-maker / and DIYer." As she tells on her "About" page, she is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania but moved out to Salt Lake City, Utah a few years ago with her high-school sweetheart - who became her husband earlier this year.

I love blogging and started back in February of 2009 with Real Simple Saving Methods. That blog became way too much work when couponing exploded into a new way of life for many. I became uninterested in what I was doing and felt like there was way too much competition out there, always posting the same content as me, therefore not making my blog unique. In April 2011 I decided to begin The Nest Effect because I knew I had so much to share (about everything) and wanted to feel like I could post about whatever I want. The Nest Effect is such a blast to write/run because my readers are amazing and keep me inspired. I never feel like my writing is a chore; I love doing it. I only post what I want to and keep it real 24/7.

For a fascinating blog by someone originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania who is making her way out in the Big Wide World, go and visit The Nest Effect!

Are you a blogger originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania who now lives somewhere else? Well, don't be a stranger! Reconnect with your NEPA roots here at NEPA Blogs! Get in touch with us at and we'll be happy to list you!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Eddie Donlin

When Michelle first sent me a frame grab of this site from her iPhone, I was a little taken aback.

Ed died online? What the heck kinda name for a blog was that? And why was it spelled wrong?

It wasn't spelled wrong, it turns out. This is the personal blog of Berwick's Eddie Donlin: photographer, father, and newbie beer-maker!

Scroll through his blog to see examples of his work, plus stories of his travels and his photo shoots. It's always interesting to see Northeastern Pennsylvania through somebody else's eyes, and this is your chance!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Scranton #BlueKey Tweetup

On December 14, one of our fellow NEPA bloggers, Mandy Boyle, will be hosting a #BlueKey Campaign Tweetup at The Vintage Theater in Scranton. It's a fundraiser, but more importantly, it's a chance for you to network with Twitter users from NEPA.

What is The Blue Key Campaign?
The Blue Key Campaign is part of USA for UNHCR, an organization dedicated to helping refugees worldwide. The symbol of the campaign is a "blue key" pin or pendant; a key, because it's the one thing that refugees may never hold in their hands again.

Purchasing your own key for just $5 is a great way to show support for refugees, as well as for the tireless work of more than 6,000 UNHCR staff worldwide, who work 24/7 to provide the protection, food, shelter and relief refugees need.

To learn more about The Blue Key Campaign and the work of USA for UNHCR, visit

Why a Tweetup?
Tweetups are great ways to meet people from the community, both locally and on Twitter. So, if you're an active participant on Twitter and want to meet some of your fellow tweeps, this event is a great opportunity for you to introduce yourself, network, and have great conversations with some of NEPA's Twitter glitterati (or just really nice people who happen to be social media geeks). Plus, it'll be an opportunity for you to show your support for The Blue Key Campaign.

What are the Event Details?
The #BlueKey Tweetup will be held on Wednesday, December 14 at The Vintage Theater in downtown Scranton from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Vintage Theater Cafe will have some delectable goodies and beverages available for purchase during that time, so stop in for a nice cup of tea and some conversation.

In the meantime, you can register and purchase your very own blue key by checking out the event on EventBrite:

The cost to register is $6.12 and it includes your very own blue key pin or pendant to be picked up at the event, as well as EventBrite's service fees.

Any questions? Contact Mandy Boyle at boyle(dot)mandy(at)gmail(dot)com.

~Michelle (although, this post was written in it's entirety via Mandy)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

If You Can Play Scranton

If You Can Play Scranton: A Theatrical History, 1871-2010 ( is a blog that's also a tie-in to a book of the same title by Nancy McDonald. From the entry "About the Book":

If You Can Play Scranton is a theatrical history of America as seen through the famous performers who came to Scranton, Pennsylvania. It discusses performances by the best known actors and actresses of the tragic and comic stage, ethnic performers, vaudevillians, musical comedy, concert, orchestra and band performers from 1871-2010. At the turn of the 20th century, Scranton was one of the most famous try-out towns for legitimate stage productions. The sophisticated taste of its audience, created by extensive exposure to world renown talent, continues to this day.

If You Can Play Scranton captures yet another aspect of the rich history of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The book can be purchased directly through the blog (in six different formats!), but the blog also provides a wonderful sampling of what lies within. If you're not familiar with Scranton's long history of theatrical and vaudeville performances, pay a visit to If You Can Play Scranton and see a world you might not believe was once right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania - and still is!

If you've written a book about a topic of interest in Northeastern Pennsylvania and don't have a blog tie-in, you're missing an excellent opportunity for promotion and sales! Create a blog for your book, and then let us know about it at so we can list it!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

PA Live! Blog of the Week: Scranton Christmas Windows, 1938 - 1960

NEPA Blogs will be presenting a "Blog of the Week" on the WBRE's PA Live! every Tuesday. PA Live! airs weekday afternoons on WBRE from 4:00 to 5:00.

Watch this episode on the PA Live! site:

Our PA Live! Blog of the Week this week is Scranton Christmas Windows, 1938 - 1960 (

This remarkable blog is a time capsule preserving and sharing images from a bygone era. I'll quote the site itself:

In 2009 Gene Giancini was cleaning out a building on Scranton’s West Side. His family had operated a business in the building for 60 years, and he was in the process of selling it. He found, stacked in the corner, old photos of Christmas window displays from Household Outfitting Company, 306-314 Lackawanna Ave. Mr. Giancini generously donated the photos to the Albright Memorial Library. We will be presenting them through this web site.

There are just 23 posts on this blog, but the images they present are remarkable, a record of a time long past, an era with a style and grace that are too often lacking today, when Christmas was a season of magic even in the storefronts on Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton.

But these posts are also filled with historical mysteries gradually solved through careful detective work.  The photos themselves are records of places that have long since disappeared. How many of us have stacks of old photos sitting around, tucked away in boxes in basements or attics? How much of the history of Northeastern Pennsylvania is captured on these photographs, just waiting to be noticed?  Most communities have libraries and historical societies that would be happy to accept these treasure troves. Don't let these photographs end up in a landfill somewhere!

As Christmas fast approaches, it's good to pause for a bit and take a look at the way one Northeastern Pennsylvania business decorated itself for Christmas during the middle third of the last century. Be sure to check out Scranton Christmas Windows, 1938 - 1960!

If you have a blog you would like us to link on NEPA Blogs, or know of a blog you think we should link, please let us know! You can always drop us a line at!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Flavor of the Med

A submission via e-mail:

I own an online business based in Tobyhanna that has a blog online:

At first I thought this might, a company that made flavorings for medicine? But, no! The "Med" in "Flavor of the Med" is the Mediterranean, and it's a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Online Grocery. Go through the entries and see if you don't find yourself wishing that Flavor of the Med had a bricks-and-mortar presence where you could visit and smell and taste the foods!  If you're a fan of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking and are looking for some recipe ideas or an online source of ingredients, stop by Flavor of the Med and have a look around!

Do you own a business in Northeastern Pennsylvania? Have you considered using a blog as part of your business model? It's a great way of connecting with current and future customers, and letting the world know about what you have to sell. If you're in NEPA and have a business blog, contact us at and we'll list it here at NEPA Blogs!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Two by Brent Pennington

Northeastern Pennsylvania is home to many excellent photographers, both amateur and professional. Here are two blogs by Brent Pennington, a professional photographer who also captures images for his own enjoyment:

Brent Pennington: Photographer

From the "About" page:

I’ve been behind the camera for over 6 years and I have to say, it’s an exciting journey. It’s more than a hobby for me, more than a career – it’s a passion. I’ve been a photojournalist, worked for major universities & trade schools, sold fine art photographs, and recorded graduations, weddings, and families.

But most of all, I’ve worked with people. That’s the rewarding part. Getting to step inside the moment and see people as they truly are, capturing their feelings and their essence. I’ve been able to tell their stories.

Let me tell yours.

Brent also has another photography site, which has a very different focus:

The Roving Photographer

From that site's "About" page:

I specialize in portraiture and wedding photography. I get a thrill out of meeting people, getting to work with them, getting to peer just a little ways into who they really are, and make an image of it. But when the clients are gone and the light stands are put away, I retreat to nature and make images for myself.

It lets me forget the daily concerns and focus on the world around me, instead. The activities of the wildlife, the life cycles of the plants. It’s something I’m passionate about, and take great pleasure in doing. And that’s enough.

So if you’re looking for stunning models and beautiful brides, check out my professional site: Brent Pennington: Photographer. You won’t find any of that here on display here (although you may get to see some behind the scenes)… But what you will find are songbirds and eagles, mammals and wildflowers, and a taste of the landscapes across which I roam. You’ll also find info on the gear I use, a well as the gear that I build for myself.

Be sure to check out both of Brent's sites to see two sides of a photographer's work!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Dominick at WBRE

Well, here's one so recursive it may bend space-time...while engaging in a frustrating brute-force search for NEPA band blogs, I came across a reference to a NEPA band - and to myself! It was on the blog of Dominick, one of the interns at WBRE who helps out with PA Live! Among his many, many other duties at the station, he escorts all of the guests on and off of the set, gets us anything we need, and makes sure we're ready when it's our turn to go on. His blog serves as an excellent record of the goings-on at PA Live!, though he hasn't mentioned anything about The Cobra Incident yet (yes, having an angry venomous snake on the set is a fine idea, especially when the only person who knows how to deal with it is the person most likely to be bitten!)

Dominick at WBRE