Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Laughter is the best medicine

Monday night, my phone rings and I answer it.

It's my wife and she's flustered.

Not the normal level of flusteredness that comes from being my wife and mother to two little sometimes-more-than-you-can-handle girls. More than that.

"What's wrong?" I ask.

Emily has an earache and my wife wants to know if I can go pick her up from Daisy Scouts.

This job has some definite ups and downs, but one of the real ups is a flexibility that you just can't get from Mickey D's.

So I fly from here to pick up Emily and take her home, but we're out of ear drops, so I have to fly back out to the drugstore.

All the ear drops say they soften ear wax, not alleviate earaches.

Confused and bewildered (two states I live in), I make my way back to the pharmacist's den to ask her if they're the right ear drops.

She tells me earache medicine is prescription only.

"Cause we usually know ahead of time when we're going to get an earache?" I quipped.

The "you-little-S.O.B." look in her eye tells me she was serious.

She tells me that in order to get a prescription, I'll have to take Emily to the emergency room.

Yeah, for an earache.

"When I was little, my mother used to give me drops," I said.

"You must have had a prescription," she tells me.

For some reason, I doubt it.

Anyway, she said people could overuse their earache medicine and become immune to it.

So let me see if I can get this straight: You need a prescription for earache medicine, but beer and cigarettes are over the counter.

We're all going to go out and OD on earache medicine?

I can just picture the new fad. High school kids all around the country with cotton balls in their ears and heads tilted. What a rush.

While I'm on medicine, what's the deal with medicine commercials?

Let me set the scene: Flamingos playing in the background while two senior citizens dance in the foreground. Pink clouds fly by at light speed.

"Ask your doctor if Man-naise is right for you."

Then, "May cause nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, red eyes, pink eye, chlamydia, balding, excess hair growth, itching oily skin, and toe jam."

But what does it do?

They never say that.

If fast food companies had the same regulations that pharmaceutical companies apparently do, McDonald's commercials would be much less fun.

Let me set the scene: Kids playing on playground equipment while two middle-aged parents dance in the foreground. McDonaldland cookie-shaped clouds fly by at light speed.

"Ask your nutritionist if McSandwich is right for you."

Then, "May cause nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, red eyes, pink eye, chlamydia, balding, excess hair growth, itching oily skin, and toe jam."

But at least you don't need to go to the emergency room and get a prescription.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Ain't it grand?

As I drove down the Transit Street this weekend, I noticed a hot air balloon in the new Eckerd on the corner of Summit Street.

"Grand Opening!!!," it proclaimed.

As I recall, the store opened more than two months ago.

Isn't it a little late for a grand opening? Not to mention, who doesn't know that it's already open?

Now, I must point out that I didn't go in, so maybe I'm not the best judge on this, but I'm guessing the cheese is warm and the crackers are stale — since (oh, by the way did I mention) they opened two months ago.

I don't recall Eckerd having a "Grand Closing!!!" sale when it axed the downtown location and the one out in the town. Where were the balloons then?

You know what the worst is, though?

Stores that have grand opening after grand opening after grand opening.

How many times has Rosa's opened since it moved into the mall two years ago?

It opened in November, 2000, but it seems like every time I drive by, there's a banner hanging off that says "Grand Opening!!!" (Note that there's always exclamation points and balloons).

I know some chains of stores have grand openings every time another store opens within the chain. It's like celebrating the birth of a grandson or something.

It's like they think we're sitting around going, "Oh, there's a new Widgetmart opening in Boise, let's celebrate by stocking up on whatzits."

Or something like that.

Just in case you didn't smell the sarcasm, I'll let you know — it's there.

Then, of course, you've got stores claiming to be closing, moving or going out of business.

There's a golf store in Williamsville that has been closing for three years.

It actually closed once — only to reopen for its closing sale.

And don't forget good old Lerch & Daly.

Last I heard they were closing. Or was that moving?

Oh yeah, it was, "We've decided to move, downsize or even get bigger, we just don't know yet."

Thank you, Charlie Gray. Now, what does that mean?

Christine Pritchard of the state Attorney General's office told me at the time, "There is a law that requires a company to register ... for a going out of business sale."

I wonder if the same is true for a grand opening.

I hereby invite you to my "Welcome to the Union-Sun & Journal" party that I'm throwing myself since I've now been with the paper for nearly three years.

Or would you prefer to come to my engagement party? (I've been married more than six years.)

Both will be held at the newly constructed Wal-Mart out on the Transit Road. It should be having its grand opening any day now.

Keep your eye here for updates or watch for the balloons.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Bankrupt Dems checked by Hamister

Two fields were widened Monday.

The number of Democrats lining up to take pot shots and President Bush and the number of hockey teams taking pot shots at their fans.

Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said he was a "different kind of Democrat" in his bid to unseat the man who assured Lieberman's title would remain senator — not vice president.

Lieberman, of course, was Al Gore's vice presidential candidate in the fun and exciting 2000 presidential election that was eventually decided by the Supreme Court (although it has been widely reported that the people of Florida had something to do with it).

Lieberman, in his announcement on Monday, reminded students at his old high school in Stamford, Conn., that he and Gore got a half-million more votes than Bush and Cheney.

Cheese with your w(h)ine? Would you like your sour grapes peeled?

Lieberman said he wouldn't run unless Al Gore didn't run. Gore, of course, dropped out in a blaze of comedy, practically calling the rest of the Democratic Party a bunch of whiny know-it-alls.

That left Lieberman open to possibly run, something I thought would make me happy.

Unfortunately, you can add Sen. Lieberman to the long line of Democrats who just don't impress me.

Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, and now Lieberman.

Yeah. Like I said. Unimpressed.

The sad thing is George W. "I am my daddy's son" Bush should be more beatable than this year's Sabres.

With no viable Democrats, though, I'll be forced to vote for a third-party candidate (never let anyone convince you that minor parties are worthless).

Harry Browne, here I come.

Speaking of the Sabres, by the way, "our team" sought bankruptcy protection on Monday, joining the Ottawa Senators as NHL teams that can't or won't pay their bills.

But the NHL and the Sabres are presenting the bankruptcy — which I've always viewed in a negative light — as a positive thing.

"It will enable the Sabres to secure financing that will allow them to continue to operate in the ordinary course, subject to league supervision, while the sale process is completed," NHL Commish Gary Bettman told the media Monday.

So let me get this straight: The Sabres declare bankruptcy and that allows them to "secure financing."

That in turn could allow Mark Hamister — the Sabres' suitor — to pass go and collect $33 million from the state.

Let's review.

The Sabres can't pay their bills, so they say they're broke and that gives them access to money.

Meanwhile, a Buffalo businessman says he'd like to buy the Sabres but only with $33 million worth of the good people of the state of New York. And if he doesn't get it, he's going to take his puck and go home.

I say, "Mark, get the puck out of Buffalo."

Here's my solution to the whole thing in two easy steps:

1) Hamister can run for president — not that I'd vote for him, but that would get him out of the Buffalo area and assure that he wouldn't become the Sabres' new owner (apparently politicians' bids aren't counted).

2) The National Democratic Party can declare ideological bankruptcy, giving them the cash flow to take down George W. "I got less votes" Bush in the 2004 election.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

May the best candidate win

I have a strange habit.

Several of them really.

But this one I do always gets looks.

When I'm at a store, I'll ask a clerk, "If I was (product), where would I be?" rather than just saying, "Where's the (product)?"

Stupid, I know, but habits are hard to break.

Well, if I was a jury, I would still be "out" over this whole police department hiring deal.

If you haven't already read the story on today's front page, do that now, then come back.

Okay, we all caught up?


First off, I think that Phyllis went about it the right way.

Hiring two police officers at the earliest convenience is a necessity for the city.

The fact that we had to "skirt" the Civil Service list, and as such pass by a reportedly qualified black candidate, is a shame.

What it isn't, though, is a conspiracy.

For the sake of speed — and speed is needed — we had to hire the "laterals" instead of going by the Civil Service list, which we normally follow.

That will get us two patrolmen in just a few weeks. Those patrolmen can get out on the pavement and keep you and me and my family safe from the would-be bad guys of the world.

Now that that's solved, let's get back to the Civil Service list and hire the best candidates.

That's B-E-S-T. Not B-L-A-C-K.

Now, I'm not saying to NOT hire a black candidate. I'm just saying don't hire her — or him in this case — only because he's black.

"He has to be the best candidate," said Police Board President James "Jimmy G" Gugliuzza.

Well said, Jimmy.

I would hate it if we hired this guy and he is led to believe that he was hired just because of the color of his skin.

I would hate it even more if we really did hire this guy just because of the color of his skin.

Discrimination is discrimination even when it's reverse discrimination.

Here's another bad scenario: (Candidate) reads the news reports and concludes that the only reason he's being considered is because he's black, opts out because he wants to be considered on his merits, not the color of his skin, and we're back to square one.

Unfortunately, I don't think that any of those scenarios are going to play out.

Here's how I see this happening:

The Police Board will make its recommendation at noon today to hire two additional candidates using the Civil Service list.

Alderwoman Green will take that recommendation to the Common Council next Wednesday.

It will get held up, delayed, or otherwise misplaced and tabled until the meeting on Feb. 5.

The Common Council will grandstand their own respective views and in the end ...

We won't see a vote on the issue because Schrader and Green will know that they haven't made their case to Cercone that the city can afford it and it will end up stuck in a 3-3 tie.

(Candidate) will remain an officer at the Fairfax, Va., Police Department, laughing come December when we're stuck in the Blizzard of '03, the police department is begging the Common Council for extra manpower, and he's still basking in the glow that is Virginia in winter.

Scott: If I were a happy police officer, where would I be?

Clerk: Fairfax, Va.