Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Maybe they got toys. Maybe they got clothes. Maybe they got gift cards. Who knows. But surely they got memories. And over the years, they’ll get lessons. The toys they’ll forget. The lessons will stay with them.
A couple weeks ago, I was making Kool Aid. I got the Kool Aid packets, put them in the pitcher, added sugar and asked my girlfriend Heather to get me the wooden spoon out of the drawer.
Handing it to me, she asked, “Why wooden?”
I had no answer for her other than, “Because I always use the wooden spoon. I always have. I have no idea why.”
In short, I do it that way because I do it that way.
I asked my friends on Facebook if they had any similar oddities, explaining my wooden spoon Kool Aid story.
Oddly, most of them stirred their Kool Aid with a wooden spoon, too. More odd is that no one really knew why either. There were theories, but no hard science.
A quick Google search was sure to find me a reason that I always use the wooden spoon. I turned up dozens of search results for how to make Kool Aid. Almost all of them said “stir with wooden spoon.” None of them said why.
Thinking about it further, it occurred to me that my mom always made Kool Aid with a wooden spoon.
“Mom, why do I stir my Kool Aid with a wooden spoon?” I asked her.
She said she had no idea why I did, but said that she always used a wooden spoon when I was growing up.
“So why did you use a wooden spoon?”
“Probably because it was longest spoon that I had,” she answered.
So in essence, I use a wooden spoon because mom did. And no other reason.
It’s just one of many “gifts” that I’ve gotten from my mother over the years. I might not know when or why I got them, but they’ve stuck with me a lot longer than tinker toys or a “Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.”
Some of life’s best gifts aren’t wrapped. They aren’t given to you on your birthday or Christmas. And many you don’t even remember getting. But you keep them forever.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
|Liberty is excited for Christmas ... and wanted to see the Christmas cards we've gotten this season. Usually she's not allowed on the dining room table, though. :) Find me on Google+ for more Christmas photos.|
Friday, December 23, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Very seldom do I hear an idea for a new bill and say to myself, “How does this not already exist?”
But that’s exactly what happened Friday when I got an email from Congresswoman Kathy Hochul heralding her new bill before Congress, called the Allowing Local Emergency Response Technicians to Accept Cellular Texts Act, or A.L.E.R.T. A.C.T.
In short, when you send a text message to 9-1-1, it doesn’t go anywhere. It just heads out to the ether, never to be heard from again.
Hochul’s bill would push for cellular service providers to alert users who text 9-1-1 that their message did not go through, allowing the party in need to at least know that texting 9-1-1 doesn’t work and help is not on the way. This way, the person in need of help isn’t waiting for nothing.
The bill would also push for funding to go to improve existing 9-1-1 call centers to enable them to receive text messages, so that in the future help would come.
Considering the amount of communication done by the youth of the world, I can’t believe that it’s currently not possible to text 9-1-1. You can text in your vote to “American Idol,” but you can’t text for help if you’re in trouble.
I’m not an engineer, so I certainly don’t understand the complexity of the cellular industry or phone service. I’m sure, though, that 9-1-1 call centers are even more complex than cell phones.
However, it seems apparent to me that our nation’s emergency response infrastructure should get with the times and add texting capabilities so that people who are unable to call 9-1-1 could text the system and get the help they obviously need.
It’s not 1991 anymore. Cell phones are not an extravagance. They are the norm now. I know more and more people all the time who are forgoing their home phone service and going with cellular only.
I also know more and more people who use text as their primary means of communication. On any given day, I may get a handful of phone calls and more than 100 text messages.
So adding texting capabilities to 9-1-1 is a necessity. And until that happens, asking cellular providers to inform their customers that their text did not go through is something those cellular providers should do — with or without the A.L.E.R.T. A.C.T. in place.
The next step, in my opinion, would be to allow Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP, services to call 9-1-1. Anyone with a Magic Jack, Skype or Vonage phone simply can’t call 9-1-1.
Again, I’m not an engineer, so I don’t fully understand the difficulty, but I know that when people need help, we as society should make it possible for them to get that help.
I’m rooting for Kathy Hochul on this one. Her bill isn’t intrusive and it’s meaningful. Sure, it will cost money — to both local police departments and the cellular industry — but that money may actually save lives.
Monday, December 19, 2011
"I remember christmas trees in every school I went to and Wednesday afternoon early dismissal for religious education. I would say things have changed. Please don't reply, your an idiot."
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Production of commemorative coins scrapped to save money:
Are you waiting desperately for that dollar coin with the face of Warren G. Harding or Calvin Coolidge? It may now be harder to find.The U.S. Mint is suspending production of commemorative presidential one dollar coins as part of a government-wide plan to cut wasteful projects and reduce fraud.
Vice President Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made the announcement Tuesday at a Cabinet-level meeting that touted the progress of the White House’s Campaign to Cut Waste, an effort launched at the height of the summer’s federal debt negotiations to demonstrate the Obama administration’s commitment to curtailing federal spending.
I'm confused. I thought the reason the mint was making these commemorative coins is because they made money doing it ... like the USPS does on commemorative stamps. Oh. Maybe the postal service isn't the model quasi-government agency to follow.
Personally, I'd like to see the mint do only what they have to. And I'd like them to scrap pennies. And I'd like the postal service's monopoly on mail to go away. And I'd like a million dollars. I'll probably get all those things at the same time.
I want to like the Texas governor for his folksiness. I want to like him because he’s simple and down to earth. But I can’t. He comes across as an unintelligent thug. And last week he added hate to the mix.
Perry’s latest campaign gimmick is his latest television commercial, which he entitled “Strong.” It’s a 30-second ad summing up what is wrong with America in the following fashion: Gays can openly serve in the military, and kids cannot openly pray in school or celebrate Christmas.
First of all, to think that the problem with America is that everyone, no matter their sexual preference, can serve in America’s armed forces is foolish. It’s also divisive and hateful.
The Republican mantra on gay marriage is that it shouldn’t be allowed because it affords homosexuals special privileges and everyone should be equal. If equality is the issue, then how can anyone say that gays should be barred from the military because of their sexual preference? It’s blatant hypocrisy.
The second problem with Perry’s ad is the imaginary war on Christmas. I’ve been complaining about the pretend war on Christmas for years. There seems to be a theory among the Bill O’Reillys of the world that inclusiveness is bad. Somehow asking people to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is an affront to their delicate nature.
Perry says that kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas in school. I know of no schools that bar children from saying “Merry Christmas” or wearing Christmas-related T-shirts, sweatshirts, whatever. I also am unaware of any public school in America that has school on Christmas. I’m pretty sure they all have the day off —even on years where it doesn’t fall on a Sunday.
Sure, maybe the school doesn’t put up a manger scene or even a Christmas tree. And I understand that some people — including Rick Perry — would have a problem with this. I don’t, however. My children get their religious instruction at home. And, frankly, that’s where I want them to get it. They go to school to learn. In theory.
Lastly, Perry’s claim that kids can’t openly pray in school is also hogwash. When I was in school, we didn’t have daily prayers. But there was plenty of praying. Silent pleas to God for good test grades, the right food to be served in the cafeteria and Friday night dates. The fact that those prayers were most often not answered tells me God didn’t want to be in school, either.
I’m pretty sure that kids still pray for exactly the same things. And even if it were illegal for them to do so (which it’s not), they’d still do it anyway.
Last week, the Cain Train derailed. This week it’s Rick Perry’s turn to find greener pastures. Anyone who so openly uses mistruths and divisiveness is not fit to hold the office of the presidency.
I wonder whose campaign will implode next week.
Friday, December 09, 2011
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
For Cain fans, don’t let that fool you into believing he may unsuspend it at some point. He’s done like dinner.
And honestly, that’s a shame. I liked Cain. He added some entertainment to this race, and in truth, I thought he had some good ideas.
But he also had some really bad ideas — like being “friends” with a woman for 13 years and giving her what amounted to an allowance for that period of time without telling his wife.
What is with these candidates and their inability to understand that they can’t have these “friendships” with women who are not their wives? You would think that after all the outrage displayed by both parties with the whole Monica Lewinsky thing, politicians would have learned that they just can’t get away with that sort of behavior — especially with the limelight that is cast upon them in a presidential race.
Personally, I’m inclined to believe that a politician’s personal life should be allowed to be kept separate from his or her public persona. As long as they can do their job, what they do when they’re not at work shouldn’t much matter — except their belief that they could keep anything like that hidden displays a delusion of grandeur that should cause concern.
With Cain officially out of the race, that makes Newt Gingrich the latest not-Mitt Romney. It’s hard for me to believe that as hard as Gingrich fell following the Contract with America, he was able to get back up. His rise should give hope to the Eliot Spitzers, John Edwards and Herman Cains of the world. In politics, apparently, nothing is unforgivable — with the appropriate amount of time.
That’s both heartening — knowing that in time, wrongs can be righted — and disheartening — knowing that there are apparently no better candidates than the ones we have before us.
Personally, I continue to have my eye on Ron Paul. Yeah, he’s quirky. And a lot of people don’t take him seriously. But he may be the only one of the lot that’s actually read the Constitution and has any plan to follow it.
The GOP primaries start in less than a month. And when they do, that list of candidates will whittle down quickly. I imagine it will whittle down to Romney and someone else. I don’t think it will be Gingrich. Nor to I imagine it will be Paul.
Of course, I won’t be voting in the Republican primary. It may be hard for some of you to believe, but I’m not a Republican. I also won’t be voting for Obama. Because I’m also not a Democrat.
I’m always amused when those on the left tell me I’m a crazy right-winger. I’m equally amused when those on the right tell me I’m a crazy left-winger. This just goes to show that both extremes of the political spectrum agree on one thing: I’m crazy. And I’m OK with that.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Magically, the Friday after Thanksgiving, it’s OK to listen to Christmas music, and suddenly all those Christmas lights that I’ve been complaining about don’t seem so passé. I get this itch, wanting to decorate the house for Christmas and watch Christmas movies. Actually, Christmas fever, if you will, starts before Thanksgiving, and becomes just about unbearable during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. By the time Santa heads down the parade route, I’m about ready to jump out of my skin.
Many of you spent the morning after Thanksgiving waiting in lines for shopping deals at local shops and big box stores. For those who did it, good for you. That’s typically part of my Black Friday tradition, and it’s usually quite memorable, although I skipped it this year in favor of sleep. However, I have a video from one Black Friday of me walking from the entrance at the Target on Transit Road in Williamsville all the way to the end of the line. The video is about five minutes long as I kibitz with the people standing in line — all of them in front of me as I head to my spot at the rear. It was cold and wet, but everyone in line was excited to be there.
For the life of me, I can’t think of a single thing I’ve ever bought on Black Friday, but the experience itself was always fun. That may seem crazy to you, but those who get into it will surely agree. Different strokes for different folks, ya know?
Saturday, the kids and I got a pizza and — with the help of my girlfriend — started boxing up the decorations that adorn the house the 11 months out of the year that aren’t Christmas. We wrapped the photo frames on the wall in Christmas wrapping paper and put out the Christmas clock. We put up and molded the tree and decorated it with ornaments, some of which I’ve had since I was a tiny tot and some that we just got last year. Many of the ornaments mean something special, but they all mean it’s Christmas.
We watched “Home Alone.” And “Home Alone 2.” We watched the first few minutes of “Home Alone 3” and then decided it was stupid. We talked about the Christmas specials we all love — like “Charlie Brown” and “Rudolph.” And we listened to some Christmas jazz when we weren’t watching Christmas movies.
There’s just something about this time of year that turns people into kids. Or at least it does so for me. Although I’ve lived through Christmas 36 times before, it always seems so new, so fresh, so exciting.
So if you see me over the next month, and I’m all giddy and look like I won the lottery, odds are it’s just that I feel like I won the lottery. Because it’s Christmas.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Most mornings - and occasionally some afternoons - I wake up in my bed in my apartment in Tonawanda. I love where I live. It’s a stone’s throw away from the Niagara River, or it would be for someone who were better at throwing stones. It’s also not far from the Erie Canal.
Before I even get out of bed, I check my phone to see if I have any text messages. I almost always do. It might be simple “hello” or much a more pressing issue that needs to be dealt with, but before I was even awake, someone was thinking of me.
My phone sleeps on the pillow next to me. In truth, it sleeps very little. Because anyone that knows me knows that I sleep very little. I’m not sure if it’s the thoughts rattling in my brain or the gallons of coffee I drink every day, but I don’t get my recommended dose of sleep, I’m sure of that.
When I do decide to get out of bed, I stumble into the kitchen and pour myself a cup of that coffee. Always with sugar. Sometimes with milk. It depends on the temperature of the coffee. I like Folgers. Or Maxwell House. Or Hortons. Or whatever. As long as it’s coffee flavored.
I take that coffee into my living room and sit on my couch - or my gliding chair if the couch is occupied - and check my email and whatnot.
More communication. Emails from people I know. Messages from people I don’t know. Friend requests. And even the occasional hate mail, which, in all honesty, always puts a smile on my face. No, I’m not being facetious.
I think a lot. Happy thoughts. Sad thoughts. Simple thoughts. Complex thoughts. Always thinking. Sometimes I wish I could shut if off. Just like sometimes I wish I could sleep.
Some days I eat before going to work. Some days I don’t. For that matter, some days I eat. And some days I don’t. My oldest daughter will occasionally text me just to remind me to eat. I usually haven’t and thank her for the reminder.
My phone is constantly chirping. Text messages. Instant messages. Emails. Seriously, as I typed the word “emails,” I received one. It’s 3:19 a.m. as I type this. And I just got an email.
I don’t get many phone calls. But that’s because most people have figured out that I don’t usually like to talk on the phone. That’s got to seem odd, considering I talked for a living for seven years. Or maybe that makes it less odd. But people take into consideration that I’m usually more comfortable with email or text.
It astounds me that in a world with 7 billion people, anyone would take time out to consider me. But they do. Today I spoke with at least a dozen people who asked how I was - and genuinely wanted to know.
I have a lot of “things” that I could be thankful for this year, but that which I’m most grateful for is the people in my life. Some have been there since grade school. Some only became part of my life recently. And of course, my mother has been there since day one. But all have their role. Just as you have yours. And hopefully, I have a role in your life as well. Even if it’s just reading this column each week.
Happy Thanksgiving. I love you all.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Awesome. Basically, it says that the Democrats were right for not allowing us in their post-election party ... because the US&J is anti-Democrat.
Specifically, it says:
"What a bull shi---- you are. I remember the day when you were a Democrat and made it known loud and clear.
"I don't blame the Democrats for not allowing your photographer to invade them on Election Night. You, Boss Tucker (apparently says who, what, where and when is printed in the rag), Karen Keefe, Bob Confer, et al treat Democrats like crap, then expect to be treated respectfully when YOU CHOOSE.
"As I've said before, you straddle the fence and go where the grass is greener, so to speak.
"Just a lot of blubber."
Have I mentioned that I love hate mail? I'm giddy.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Just like the real Superbowl, no two election nights are the same. Sometimes things go exactly how you expect them, and sometimes there’s a wardrobe malfunction at half time or a wide-right field goal with time running out.
This year, I was quarterbacking election coverage for the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. We had our team in place and were in the typically boring part of the evening — the “now we wait” part.
In truth, there are several “now we wait” parts. We wait for polls to close. We wait for results to come in. And then we wait for candidates to talk to us. This was the second “now we wait” part, waiting for the numbers to come in.
I sat in the newsroom waiting for fresh numbers from the board of elections, and our team was out in the field waiting to talk to candidates and taking pictures of the evening’s candidates’ parties.
Our staff photographer, Joe Eberle, was popping back and forth from Republican headquarters at Danny Sheehan’s to Democratic County Clerk Candidate Pat Murphy’s headquarters at the Shamus Restaurant. Meanwhile, one of our freelance photographers, Heather Grimmer, had set up camp at Lockport’s Democratic headquarters, the Davison Road Inn.
The Davison Road Inn, or D.R.I., was the home to Democratic mayoral candidate Mike Pillot and candidate for alderman, Shirley Nicholas.
We knew the mayoral race was going to be tight and could go either way. The refuse and recycling issue in Lockport had made Mayor Mike Tucker vulnerable. It had done the same with 1st Ward Alderwoman Richelle Pasceri. In fact, she had lost the GOP primary to Nicholas for that very reason.
Potentially, we had two upsets on our hands, and we wanted to have a photographer on hand to snap pictures of the happy winners at Democrat headquarters, if that’s the way it played out.
Unfortunately, our photographer, Heather, was asked to stop taking photographs — and leave — by adherents to the Democrats’ campaigns.
“We don’t like the Union-Sun and we’d like you to leave,” is the paraphrase that was relayed back to me.
Heather — a professional photographer, but a novice at politics — called to ask me how to proceed. Me — not being a novice at politics — was rather upset at the lack of class and professional decorum on display by the Democrats. And frankly, I was a bit shocked. I mean, this just isn’t the way it works.
Side note for those who don’t know me well: The only thing I dislike more than Democrats are Republicans.
Heather had every right to stay at D.R.I., a point reiterated to her by the staff of the D.R.I. But I told her to leave the restaurant without taking any photos. If the candidates and their people didn’t want their pictures in the paper, then, by golly, they weren’t going to be.
And all I could think was, “If this is the way these people treat others, I hope to God they don’t get elected.”
They didn’t. Karmic justice, if you ask me.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
And like average teenage American boys of my time, I collected baseball cards. I also collected football cards, hockey cards and the occasional collectible cards associated with movies and TV shows. I’m not sure if they still make those, but I know they still make sports trading cards.
There is a huge industry related to the hero worship of athletes. Aside from the trading cards, there’s also shirts, hats, posters — you name it. We buy the sports stuff so we can feel like we’re “part of it.” The “it” of course, being something important.
The hero worship of athletes, alone, is a huge industry. Add in movie stars and television actors, and millions of Americans spend a large portion of their time and money trying to feel a “part of” something “important.”
Today is Election Day, of course, and that adds in another sector of the hero-worship industry: Politicians. Granted, I think it’s a much smaller scale, but I can confess to having a bumper sticker and pin collection from throughout the years. A few years ago, I was offered a pretty penny for a Ron Paul pin I was wearing at the time. I refused the offer, electing instead to keep my pin.
But what of society’s real heroes? Where is the industry to worship — or at least salute — them? Where are the trading cards for doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, and even teachers?
I was having a conversation with a friend on Sunday during the Bills game. We were discussing this oddity and imagining how strange it would be to see doctors wearing jerseys during live-to-air broadcasts of appendectomies or whatnot.
Imagine how surreal it would be if your kids were talking about the statistics of successful operations or graduating rates or arrests or — well, I think you get the picture.
I’d love to see a local hospital start this trend. I’d love to see someone go out on a limb to try to start this trend of appropriately placed hero worship. Or at least respect.
Sure, people directly affected by the successful operations show their respect. Yes, people silently appreciate criminals being arrested and kids learning their multiplication tables. But isn’t it bizarre how little importance is given to these things that actually matter.
Now, I’m not saying this to bash sports figures, actors or even politicians. I have a very healthy appreciation for the morale boost that can be given to a city by a big win by their football team. But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter how few championships Buffalo has. And save for a few millionaires and those who lost bets this weekend, the Bills loss to the Jets this Sunday doesn’t truly affect many people in Western New York. And yet, we act like it does.
I am an average adult male. And like most average adult males of my time, I have a T-shirt with an NFL logo on it.
I’m guilty of misdirected hero worship. But I’m wondering why. Are you?
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Got this press release from Subversive Theatre. Love those guys ...
Marx is back with a special message for the demonstrators of Occupy Buffalo. Don't miss this rare event as we take political art right to the heart of the new movement!
Saturday, October 29th @ 7pm
in the Media Tent of the Occupy Buffalo Encampment in Downtown Buffalo's Niagara Square
or give us a call at 716-408-0499.
Where Dissent Takes Center Stage!
FORWARD THIS MESSAGE ONTO PARTISANS EVERYWHERE!!!
You may notice that the profile photo on the right side of the website (under the twitter feed) is a little greener than usual. There's two reasons for this:
1) It's almost Halloween and I thought a zombie look would be fitting.
2) The profile link now takes you to my profile on Google+.
While the updates on the website might happen every couple/few days ... or weeks as is sometimes the case, I typically post updates on Google+ several times a day. Take advantage of that link to see more frequent thoughts, links, etc.
While I'm on the topic of Google+, I know I've heralded it here before, but you really should check it out if you're the least bit interested in social media. In other words, if you have a Facebook, you should have Google+. If you enjoy Twitter, you can easily enjoy Google+.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
As a kid, Halloween gave me an excuse to eat as many Snickers bars as possible in a very short period of time. I’m almost surprised I made it through the Halloweens of my youth, given the amount of sugar I consumed.
Also as a kid, I always enjoyed the Halloween parade at my school, Military Road Elementary School, which is now just a big abandoned building. Some say it’s haunted. Of course, some say every big abandoned building is haunted. They have overactive imaginations.
As a teenager, it was my love of scary movies that took over. I have no idea why it is people enjoy being scared, but they do. Many of my favorite movies are of the horror variety.
When my kids were younger, I enjoyed Halloween vicariously through them. They got excited about the costumes — and no doubt, the candy. I enjoyed walking around the neighborhood with them and hearing everyone comment on their costumes.
As an adult, my favorite part about Halloween is the costumes. It’s amazing some of the things that some people wear out in public. I’m not sure when Halloween made the transition from “wear something scary” to “wear almost nothing,” but I’m not complaining.
I also enjoy carving pumpkins. I’m not particularly good at it, but I have fun doing it anyway. I’m usually a bit of an overachiever when it comes to jack-o-lantern carving. I have some great pictures throughout the years.
I find it funny that the same holiday has meant so many different things over the years. I guess that’s called growing up.
Another thing that Halloween means these days is that it’s almost election time. This has been a rather hum-drum election year. There are no major statewide races. There are no Congressional races. And despite the fact that there are stories about the race for the White House in the news every single day, that’s not this year either.
I’m looking forward to the end of election season, nonetheless.
Election season is almost a Halloween of its own. Normal people change into something different to bad-mouth perfectly good citizens and make the rest of the world think they’re sinister and scary.
After Halloween (and election season), it’s a mad dash to the end of the year — and Christmas.
Stores used to wait until after Halloween to start putting up Christmas displays. That tradition seems to have been changed. This year, I saw Christmas stuff and Halloween stuff go out at the same time.
I love me some Christmas, but I do wish it would wait until after spooky season.
It’s funny how fast the last two months of the year always go. The calendar gets from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 in what seems like a couple days. But Jan. 1 to March 1, on the other hand, take much, much longer.
For now, I’ll just enjoy the season we’re in — with the candy and the movies and the decorations and the costumes. And the political fliers and the commercials and the lies and the propaganda.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Thursday, I went to the Occupy Buffalo protest to talk to some people about the group, their goals, their thoughts, etc. I did very little talking, frankly, but quite a bit of listening. And from what I gathered, I'm still a fan.
I saw a headline on a website the other day talking about the organization's "Anti-capitalist protest." Whoever wrote that headline does not know what the majority of the Occupy movement stands for. They are not anti-capitalist.
Another headline said "Group protests greed." That's considerably more accurate. I didn't hear a single person say that people shouldn't make money. I didn't hear a single person say that people shouldn't be allowed to amass wealth. They did, however, feel that the banking industry had taken advantage of the government when it was bailed out, and by taking advantage of the government, it took advantage of the people. That coupled with the fact that homes are still being foreclosed upon and loans are hard to obtain makes the Occupy folks (or the 99 percenters, if you prefer) to feel as though something needs to be done.
One of the groups greatest selling points is also its biggest weakness. They are an organization without a leader. There's no one "in charge" despite what you might hear on right-wing radio or Fox News. They aren't taking marching orders from Nancy Pelosi or George Soros. In fact, they aren't taking marching orders from anyone.
From what I've seen and heard, they're just as upset with Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama as they are with the Republicans. They feel as though there's very little difference between the two major parties.
Republican front-runner Herman Cain (when did that happen) seems to think that they're anti-GOP and should focus their ire on the White House. Many Democrats, I think, are hopeful that this is a left-wing response to the Tea Party. It's not. And I hope it never is.
It seems to me that the Occupy movement is what the Tea Party never was but should have been. It's a grass roots populist group made up "of the people" - the regular people. The 99 percent of us working paycheck to paycheck. I hope it stays that way.
The Wall Street protest began its second month yesterday. I can't help but wonder how long they plan to stay there and what will happen in the meantime.
Random side note: I wrote a piece about Occupy Wall Street on my personal blog the other day. I linked it to Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Somehow it got shared by someone or someones leading to me getting an email Saturday that I didn't expect from
a very old friend of mine who I had lost contact with nearly 20 years ago.
You never know what effect your work will have on the world. If a blog post I wrote in Tonawanda could get shared with someone in the middle of Pennsylvania, who knows what your actions might result in.
Everything counts in small amounts.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Not sure what to expect, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised when we got off the NFTA Metro Rail at Lafayette Square and were immediately greeted with a throng of marching protesters headed our way. We weren't sure where they were going or what they were up to, but they were headed away from Niagara Square. We figured they'd circle around and make their way back to the square (which, of course is really a circle), so we headed there. She figured she'd be better off getting shots of them coming back to the square than shots of their backs as they walked away from us.
The folks that were marching had made their way to the Chase offices at Main Place Mall, we learned ... so we headed there to find them protesting in front of the mall, taking turns to speak and chanting. The group had grown slightly in numbers, I assume because onlookers formed a ring outside the protesters.
The speakers each took a few minutes to bemoan Chase's greed and explain what the #Occupy movement meant to them.
One thing that I noticed was that the group was a pretty decent cross section of America. Yes, there were girls in tie-dyed shirts. But there were also guys in suits and ties. This was not a collection of hippies ... or homeless people. They were not all 20. And they weren't union activists. These were people who took some time out of their day to protest corporate greed and the government that allows it.
Many people have said that the #Occupy movement is a Democratic movement. I think that the Republicans would love to tie this to the Democrats ... and the Democrats would love to think that they actually had grassroots support. This does not seem to be the case to me, though. The people I saw and heard in Buffalo spoke out against government as a whole - not one party or the other. They were just as upset with Obama as they were at Boehner. This is what I had hoped the Tea Party would be.
One thing that I found really interesting was that everything the group did, they did by vote. At one point, they voted to go inside Main Place Mall to deliver a letter to Chase. They were denied by security and then voted to go make copies of the letter and deliver them individually.
I read the results of a survey the other day that said 82 percent of Americans were aware of the #Occupy movement. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but a lot of people stopped and asked what the protest was about. Each protester gave his or her own version, of course, but the main theme was "corporate greed and the government allowing it - to the detriment of the 99 percent."
Saturday, the group is holding a general assembly in front of Buffalo's City Hall at noon. They expect hundreds of people. I'll be there. I'm still not sure if I'll be part of the group ... or an observer again like I was today. I can tell you this, though: Upon "meeting" the Tea Party in 2009, I was immediately turned off. This group did not give me that feeling.
I have more photos online. Check them out there.
Heather took some great photos, by the way. Hopefully she'll get them online soon. She said she'd link to them on her twitter: @hngrimmer
For more on #OccupyBuffalo, click here.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
That's a lot of time, effort and money that the police spend dealing with something petty, that they could use to actually investigate, track and solve what I would consider to be "real crimes."
You may have heard that Topeka, Kansas - under a budget crunch - actually decriminalized domestic violence. For a time being (they've since fixed it), it was legal to physically abuse your spouse or domestic partner because Topeka didn't want to deal with misdemeanors any more.
Now, look, I'm all for there being less laws. And if you want to do away with laws, doing away with misdemeanors is probably the way to go ... but the fact of the matter is that in Topeka, the vast majority of the misdemeanors in the court system were DV arrests.
I say if Topeka, Kansas (and every other American city) wants to do away with laws to save money, get rid of the Rockefeller drug laws. Stop arresting 20-something year olds for having a baggie of weed and a pipe.
The U.S. government spends $500 per second on the war on drugs. Every 19 seconds, someone is arrested on a drug possession charge. And 25 percent of people who do any amount of jail time, do it for violating drug laws.
Let's be clear here: I hate drugs. I've seen them ruin people. I've seen credit cards do the same thing, though. And there's no movement to ban them. Nor should there be.
I don't want drugs sold to children. Especially not my children. But if an adult wants to smoke a joint in their basement while they watch That 70s Show, who am I to stop them? And in order to get that joint to their basement, it's going to have to be on them in a car somewhere, most likely.
If I had $1 for every arrest report that involved a guy in a car with a joint getting arrested, I'd have a whole lot of dollars. And, frankly, there's just no point.
There's real crime to deal with - like assholes that beat their wives.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Who exactly are the 1 percent? And I don't mean what do they represent. I mean WHO are they. I know damn well I'm in the 99 percent. Odds are pretty high - since you're reading this - that you are, too.
I was wondering how many of the 1 percent (the uber-rich) live in Western New York. A dozen? Less? I know some people with some money ... lots of money, in fact. Well, lots of money by *my* standards. But the 1 percent would probably laugh at them in the same manner than anyone from Los Angeles laughs at Buffalonians who complain about traffic problems. Or how Western New Yorkers laugh at the folks down South who cry when they get an inch of snow.
The only WNYers that I can think of who *may* fall into the 1 percent category are Tom Golisano (although he lives in Florida now, doesn't he?) and Terry Pegula (who, I think still lives in Pennsylvania).
And, honestly, would any of you care if their taxes were raised?
So why is it, then that more than 1 percent of the country is opposed to the tax increase on the super-wealthy? Not that I'm saying that the majority should gang up on the minority and take what's theirs. That's democracy gone ugly and I do not condone such behavior.
Why would any member of Congress oppose a tax increase on the 1 percent? I know that some Congresspeople are wealthy ... but are any "1 percent wealthy?" I really don't know the answer to that ... which gets back the title of today's blog post: "Who are the 1 percent?"
There's that great Tumblr showing photos and letters of us 99 percent-ers. It puts faces and stories with the movement. The faces of the downtrodden, if you will. It humanizes the story that the main stream media seems to so badly want not to be humanized. Maybe if we could see the faces and hear the stories of the 1 percent, it would further enrage the masses and make them call out for justice even greater.
I truly believe that the #OccupyWallStreet movement will continue to grow before it shrinks. I think every story told of someone in New York or Chicago or Atlanta being beaten and arrested for carrying signs and singing Kumbaya will only serve to recruit more to the cause.
In the end, it will take political action to right the economic wrongs of this country. And many people have said that the #OWS movement incorrectly attacks the 1 percent when they should be focusing their efforts on Congress. I disagree, however, because Congress doesn't listen to the 99 percent. They listen to dollars, so only the 1 percent can make Congress act. For this reason, I think the pressure is being put in the right place.
If only we knew who the 1 percent were ...
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Sure, I’ve seen their list of grievances — and most of what they find objectionable about the current state of our capitalist system, I find objectionable, myself.
They’re upset that the super rich have gotten increasingly more wealthy with the help of government and to the detriment of the working class. They’re upset that the super rich seem to have their own rules and flaunt that fact, despite the fact that it hurts the economy, the environment and our Constitutional rights.
They haven’t, however, come up with a list of demands. That’s somewhat understandable because, while it may be easy to point out what’s wrong, it is more difficult to come up with solutions.
They’ve been labeled as anarchists, slackers and lowlifes. Photos and videos that I’ve seen would indicate that they are overwhelmingly not those things.
What began on Sept. 17 as a protest in Manhattan has spread to a series of international protests about the plight of the working class, an increasing number of which is not working. And of those who are working, an increasing number aren’t making enough to stay afloat.
About two and a half years ago, I went to a Tea Party rally in Buffalo. The Tea Party movement was in its infancy, and I thought I agreed with some of their ideals. They opposed government intervention in their lives and wanted a return to days when government was controlled by the people.
It only took me one Tea Party rally, however, to realize that the Tea Party wasn’t for me. The fact that they invited an elected member of the New York State Senate to speak told me everything I needed to know. The Tea Party movement was just a bunch of disgruntled Republicans who weren’t so much upset at government as they were at Democrats.
I’m no fan of the Democrats, but we need them to keep the Republicans in check, in my opinion. And we need the Republicans to keep the Democrats in check. It’s a vicious cycle.
I can’t help but wonder, though, what would happen if the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement ever got together and realized that there’s a lot they could agree on.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has been improperly branded as a leftist organization. First, it’s hardly an organization. Ask any three protesters what they’re fighting for, and you’re likely to get different answers. Second, they’re just as upset with the Democrats and President Obama as they are with the Republicans.
So the Tea Party is upset with government. And the Occupy Wall Street movement is upset with a system that rewards bad behavior. It seems to me that if they got together and found some real worthwhile candidates for office, they might both get their way.
I don’t think either movement is going to go away any time soon. I just hope that they realize that they can accomplish more together than separately. Frankly, we need some change around here.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Monday, October 03, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The video shows a hand full of well-dressed business types drinking champagne and taking photos of the protesters. Many have referred to it as “a slap in the face” of those on the streets picketing what they say are unfair market conditions that keep the rich rich, keep the poor poor and wipe out the middle class.
The war between the haves and the have-nots has gone on since the dawn of time and won’t end any time soon, but the current economic situation in the country, coupled with mass media alerting everyone to said economic situation makes it all the more heartbreaking.
While I think the Wall Street types’ actions are deplorable, I’m not in the “lynch them” crowd. From their perspective, their way of life is being attacked. In fact, from their point of view, they themselves are being attacked.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have much sympathy for them. I may even envy them, just like I imagine the protesters envy them, as well.
Most of us grew up learning that if we worked hard, we, too could have the American dream. And most of us believe that today. Some of us may have achieved that dream — with a house, two cars, a cat, a dog, picket fence, etc.
There are some people, though, who work hard every day and have less and less to show for it. In fact, right now, more Americans are slipping into poverty on a daily basis. They wish they could be drinking champagne and mocking the downtrodden. If only they could figure out a way to no longer be downtrodden.
It doesn’t help that right-wing talk radio and conservative news outlets have convinced us that the downtrodden are the problem. The people starving and homeless are what’s wrong with America, they’d have you believe. It’s almost social Darwinism. And it’s downright scary.
I’m certainly not saying storm the castle and take what you feel you deserve. That’s not what our republic is about. The revolution should be at the ballot box. But there will be no revolution if the people vote against their best interest.
Voting for someone who idolizes the rich because you idolize the rich is a path to your own destruction. Self loathing on account of your aspirations to be able to loathe the downtrodden from above is a huge mistake, to say the least.
So when it comes time to vote, vote for you or at the very least someone like you.
To paraphrase Niccolo Machiavelli, “deal with the situation at hand — not the situation you wish were at hand.” And the situation is that we’re empowering the destruction of the middle class.
Act in your own best interest. If you don’t, no one else will.
Monday, September 26, 2011
At least I will have been at the Sabres' game the night before.
Rangers to ring in New Year at Classic: The worst-kept secret in hockey is now as out in the open as the Rangers and Flyers will be on January 2, when they play in the NHL's fifth Winter Classic. "The Rangers-Flyers rivalry is one of our very best," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who finally made it official on Monday at Citizens Bank Park, site of the game.
Friday, September 23, 2011
BUFFALO, NY—Following their thrilling 38-35 week-two victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday, the Buffalo Bills expressed confusion over what the hell they were supposed to do with their two wins now that they have them.
Buffalo Bills Don't Know What The Hell To Do With 2 Wins:
<3 The Onion.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Hello, hockey!The "Leading Off" elicited the following response:
Sure, there was no Ryan Miller. Granted, there was no Thomas Vanek. And, yeah, there was no Derek Roy. But it was still the Buffalo Sabres.
For the next seven months, this is a hockey town. As the temperatures cool, it's like it's really Buffalo again.
Like the rest of the region, I'm happy to see the Bills off to a good start, but I know the best chance for a championship this year (or any year in the near-future) lies w/ the Sabres.
The Sabres looked good, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1, Monday night. But I don't think anyone in the First Niagara Center cared what the score was.
It's hockey time. And this is a hockey town.
This is not a hockey town as much as it is a football town. If you had a poll on which the fans of Buffalo would rather have a Stanley Cup of a Super bowl Win, it would be hands down a Super bowl. I will say now that I am not a hockey fan as most people in this country are not. Woman's Softball has a higher TV rating than hockey does. We do have some of the best sport fans in the country but the difference between goings to a hockey game with 18,000 fans compared to 75,000 fans there is no comparison. Going to a Bills game is way more exciting.
BrianSo ... what do you think? I'm a hockey fan. I say this is a hockey town which happens to also have a football team people like. Brian is a football fan and says it's a football town.
Would you rather have a Stanley Cup? Or a Vince Lombardi Trophy?