Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Life's most lasting gifts don't come in boxes

Sunday morning, children around the world woke up and ran to the Christmas tree, anxious to see what Santa brought them.

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

Merry Christmas ...

From our home to yours.

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.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

9-1-1 upgrade needed

I have a tendency to view most laws as either an incursion into our freedom, feel-good legislation created to make the lawmaker look good, or both.

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

Intelligent discourse?

Nah ... Just hate mail.
"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

Getting back to business

Check out the following on the Washington Post:
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.

Rick Perry adds hate to the mix

Last week it was Herman Cain. This week, we’re focusing our attention on the reincarnate of George W. Bush — Rick Perry.

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

Olive the other reindeer

Easily one of my new favorite Christmas specials. I've never seen it as a book before, but, of course, it makes sense that it is.

If you see this on TV this year, watch it. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Cain's departure makes GOP field less entertaining

The field of Republican presidential candidates narrowed slightly over the weekend as Herman Cain “suspended” his campaign.

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.

Happy Holidays.

From my family to yours, I hope you're having a great holiday season.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Excited about the season

This past weekend was one of my favorite weekends of the year — the weekend the world transitions to Christmas.

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

Happy Thanksgiving

My favorite part of the day is the parade. I'm watching it online. What an awesome world we live in.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to the people I love

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

Hate mail. Yay!

Hand written hate mail in response to this week's column.

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.

Giraffes are cool ...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Election night bloopers and jokes

I’ve mentioned before that politics is one of my favorite sports, and election night is my Superbowl.

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

Misplaced hero worship gets smacked down

I was an average teenage American boy.

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

Random scary thoughts for the day

The world got a little scarier Monday - and not because it was Halloween. Scientific projections estimate that planet Earth welcomed it 7 billionth concurrent citizen yesterday. That’s a whole lot of of people. Heck, 7 billion is a whole lot of anything. But especially people. 
Think of all those potential voters (and taxpayers)!
I read a piece by CNN’s Bob Greene the other day talking about addiction to electronic devices. He indicates that if your smart phone sleeps in the same room with you, you may have an addiction. I have to confess, I’m guilty of that. I think it comes from living alone.
You may recall about  year and a half ago, I wrote a column relaying my glee with having signed up for cable (actually satellite) television service. Recently we decided to take a break. We didn’t break up, really, but we’re seeing other people - or something like that. 
Having lived in my apartment in Tonawanda since last April, I finally decided I couldn’t live without dedicated internet service. I was using my cell phone as a modem when I needed to log on, but it got tedious and I needed something faster. Unfortunately, in order to do that, I had to scrap TV. I can only afford so many non-essentials, after all.
I’m going on a month without television. And I don’t miss it all that much. I’ve found other things to occupy my time and other ways to watch the things I absolutely don’t want to miss. I’ve also found that I have very little desire to watch the Bills. The Bills won 23-0 on Sunday and I missed every second of it. And I didn’t miss a second of it. 
Speaking of the Bills, I see they have a new idea on how to hold the area hostage, wanting  the state and Erie County to pay for significant improvements to their current stadium in Orchard Park in exchange for the team promising to stay in Orchard Park.
Gee, so they’ll stay our friend if we pay them? That’s what it sounds like to me.
Personally, I’d consider this deal if the team actually wanted to play in Buffalo. But the city has very little - if any - economic benefit to home games being played in the Southtowns.
I have nothing against the Bills. I’ve been a fan since birth. Kind of. But the economic blackmailing being done by one of the richest men in Western New York is atrocious. The fact that anyone is considering it, is worse.
This deal is exactly the type of thing that the Occupy movement is about. There should be no doubt that Ralph Wilson is one of the richest guys in the area. And he’s going to make sure to stay that way by forcing us to pay for his stadium upgrade. He gets to stay rich and we have the privilege of having a football team. 
I can’t wait for the politicians to tell us what a great deal this is for us. Thank God there’s 7 billion people on planet earth now to help us pay for it. 

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

     Join us as we take art right to the heart of the struggle!  Veteran Buffalo actor Keith Elkins once again takes on the role of the Father of Communism himself with an important message for the people of Buffalo.

     KARL MARX IN NIAGARA SQUARE is our lightly adapted version of MARX IN SOHO by recently deceased radical historian Howard Zinn.  This powerful, polemical one-man play suddenly seems more relevant than ever as activist around the Globe step forward to take back our world from the Corporate Elite.
     "Why have I returned?" Marx asks in this impassioned direct-to-the-audience filibuster.  "To clear my name" he bellows defiantly.  Don't miss the powerful words of one of history's most unforgettable revolutonary leaders performed right in the epicenter of the new wave of activism.
     Actor Keith Elkins first performed this role for Subversive Theatre's first-ever production back in 2002 under the title KARL MARX IN ALLENTOWN.  Since then we've presented the piece in Geneseo and in multiple locations throughout Buffalo. We're thrilled to now the opportunity to share this play's urgently-needed words with all our brothers and sisters in the struggle for a better world.
     Our presentation of KARL MARX IN NIAGARA SQUARE is Saturday, October 29th at 7pm in the Media Tent of the Occupy Buffalo Encampment in downtown Buffalo's Niagara Square.  This event is free and open to all.
     We look forward to seeing YOU in Niagara Square this Saturday!  All Power to the People!
     For more information, check out our website at www.subversivetheatre.org
or give us a call at 716-408-0499.
Where Dissent Takes Center Stage!
* = indicates members of the Subversive Theatre Collective

Happy Halloween

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+.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

For everything there is a season

I’ve always liked Halloween.

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

Everything counts in small amounts

The Occupy Wall Street movement continues to intrigue me. And I continue to research it.

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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

#OccupyBuffalo was more Occupy and less Buffalo than I expected.

With some free time at hand and an interest in the #Occupy movement, Heather and I went to Niagara Square, just in front of Buffalo's City Hall to see what all the hubub was about.

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.

Arriving at the square, I was surprised to see about a dozen people milling around. Frankly, that's about all the people I expected to see in total, especially given it was about noon on a weekday. This is Buffalo, afterall. We're not exactly known for our protests. But with the 30 or so people we saw marching and the dozen or so left behind, this group had about 50 people in all. Quite impressive, in my opinion.
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 of the criticisms that I've seen about the #Occupy movement is that there is no stated goal. I think that this could be detrimental to the group in the longrun, but this is what a real grassroots movement looks like. In 2009, I thought the Tea Party was a grassroots movement, only to learn that it was nothing of the sort. It was just a bunch of people who hated the Democrats. I was quite disappointed.

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.

The guy who was working security, by the way, couldn't have been nicer to the group. He seemed to understand their plight and they seemed to understand his. He was just doing his job.

While walking back from Chase, the group passed by a Bank of America office. There was security standing outside while they passed, talking on his phone. I overheard him say, "Yeah, they just walked right by ... headed to Niagara Square. No, they did not stop." He didn't give me the impression he'd be as pleasant as the guy at Main Place Mall.

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 know I'm not one of the 1 percent, which means I'm certainly one of the 99.

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

U.S. should surrender the war on drugs

As I edited tonight's police blotters for the Lockport and Medina papers, it occurred to me that about half of the arrests were misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests.

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 are the 1 percent?

I've been thinking a lot lately about this ongoing discussion of the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent.

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

Sounds about right ...

epic fail photos - Customer Service FAIL

Is a "Tea Party Occupation" in our future?

I can’t help but feel like Occupy Wall Street, now in its fourth week, is a movement without a cause.
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

I'm ready to give (something) up - Are you?

I'm not afraid of giving something up for the greater good.

Life is give and take. Sacrifice and reward. We've all been there, having to choose between going out to eat and paying the electric bill. Hopefully the electric bill won out.

Odds are if you're reading this column, you just can't have everything all the time – or in the words of Jagger, “You can't always get what you want.”

Actually, the sacrifices I'm thinking of today aren't even really things that I want. Maybe you do, which, of course, will make them bigger sacrifices. But for me? No big deal.

The United States Postal Service has thrown around the idea of eliminating Saturday mail delivery. Many people seem to be up in arms about this. For the life of me, I can't figure out why.

In my lifetime, I've had eight different addresses. That's eight different mailboxes in 36 years. I don't know that in all those years and all those mailboxes I've ever gotten real mail on a Saturday.

It seems impossible that no one ever sends a bill or a letter or anything of any importance on whatever day it would need to be sent to reach my address on Saturday, but I don't think it's ever happened.

This past Saturday, for instance, I got two bulk mail things with coupons and whatnot. I think that's exactly what I got last Saturday. In fact, I think that's what I've gotten every Saturday for the past year and a half that I've lived in Tonawanda.

I recall thinking this to myself a few years ago – the last time the postal service discussed eliminating Saturday delivery. I think all I was getting then was junk mail, too.

Frankly, even if I were getting “real mail” on Saturday, I can't think of an occasion where I couldn't have possibly waited two days to get that mail. Can you think of a time when you've gotten emergency Saturday mail that you had to respond to or react to immediately?

As far as I'm concerned, they can do away with Saturday. Maybe another day, too. In fact, if the USPS mail delivery was Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I think that would be just fine.

We only have garbage pickup once a week. Somehow we manage.

My second sacrifice is also small. In fact, it's mere pennies. Literally. Let's get rid of pennies. They cost more to produce than they're worth. They clog up my changeholder in my car and they're kind of a pain to deal with.

I say in cash transactions, we just round everything to the nearest nickel and call it a day.

Sure, we might “lose” a couple cents on some transactions here and there, but what were you going to do with those pennies anyway?

So we give up Saturday mail and pennies. And the richest one percent give up a little extra in taxes. We all feel the pinch and the world keeps spinning.

What do you think?

Monday, October 03, 2011

60 seconds.

I used to be amazed at what I could accomplish during a 60-second commercial at WLVL. Here's an infographic that shows some things that happen on the web in just one minute.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Act in your own interest

Much noise has been made about a viral internet video featuring Wall Street professionals mocking protesters participating in the “Occupy Wall Street” campaign.

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

Rangers/Flyers Winter Classic? Yawn!

I hate the Rangers. I hate the Flyers. And as much as I'm going to hate the Winter Classic this year, you know I'm going to watch it.

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.

Social network humor ...

epic fail photos - Failbook: Now Inciting A Rebellion With Just One Click!

That is NOT a spoon.

epic fail photos - I Think, Therefore I FAIL

Friday, September 23, 2011

So much for this being a football town ...

The following is from The Onion. Click the link to read in its entirety.

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

Headlines FAIL

The funny thing is ... it's the same paper! Check the content. All the same. So why the difference in headlines?

epic fail photos - Obesity Study FAIL

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Buffalo ... a hockey town? Or a football town?

The following was originally published on the cover of the sports section of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal on Sept. 20, 2011.
Hello, hockey!
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.
The "Leading Off" elicited the following response:
Hi Scott,
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. 
Bye now
So ... 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?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Had a great time at the game tonight ...

Check out the rest of the photos on Picasa. (Sorry, they're just pix I took w/ my BlackBerry) ... and check out the running commentary on my twitter: @scottleffler ...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sounds about right ...

political pictures - newt gingrich - zombies - World War N

Republican zombies scare me!

Struggling for power and fighting the future

Like many of you, I'd imagine, I have a cell phone charger at home and another at work.
Funny story. For some reason that escapes me now, I brought my home charger to work on Wednesday. And forgot it there. So Thursday morning, my phone had drained completely and I had no charger. I live in Tonawanda and work in Lockport, so it's not like I could just pop in and grab it. It's about a half an hour drive. Fortunately, my downstairs neighbor uses the same charger and I got through the day.
After work on Thursday, I remembered to bring home my home charger.
Friday, I get to work and find that I'm actually working out of our Tonawanda offices instead of the Lockport office, like I usually do. So in order to make sure I got through the night, I brought my work phone charger to the Tonawanda News with me ... and then home.
My girlfriend and her kids came over Sunday to spend time with me and my girls. She brought her home charger with her ... and accidentally left it at my place. (She lives in Lockport)
After dropping my kids off at their mom's (Lockport) following the weekend, I popped into work to grab the power cord for my laptop, as I'm off for a few days and won't have the juice to get through it without the power cord, should I need to use my work laptop.
I would have let my girlfriend borrow my work charger, since we use the same type and I won't need it for the next three days ... but I left it at home. Along with my home charger. And her charger. If you're keeping track here, on Thursday morning, I had no phone chargers at home. As I type this, I have three.
Also, it's not without irony that the reason I had stopped into work at all was to get the laptop cord/charger.

Every day that passes, I'm a little older – and hopefully a little wiser, but more importantly (and sadly) right now, we're a little closer to winter.

It's football season and the Bills are off to a great start, having won half as many games already as they won all of last year.

Last night started Sabres' pre-season. That excites me a lot more than football season, quite frankly. If spending means winning, then the Sabres should have a great year this year. Of course, spending doesn't always mean winning, but I'm hopeful anyway.

My neighbor across the street put scarecrows out over the weekend. I think they're Halloween decoration. I love Halloween more than most, but I think it's a bit early to start decorating. Of course, it's better than my neighbor down the street who still has Christmas lights up – and lights them. I'm sure they'd say they're not “Christmas” lights, they're just lights. But I'm not buying it.

We've only got a little over three months before it's 2012 – and there's just 14 months before the world is supposed to end … again. You may recall that the rapture was supposed to occur earlier this summer and didn't. Of course, I'm okay with the world not ending this summer. And I'll be equally pleased if it doesn't end next December. I have too many things left to do than I'll be able to accomplish in 14 months. One of them, apparently, is to invent a way to charge phones and laptops without cords.

Power: A tale of three chargers

Like most of you, I'd imagine, I have a cell phone charger at home and another at work.
Funny story. For some reason that escapes me now, I brought my home charger to work on Wednesday. And forgot it there. So Thursday morning, my phone had drained completely and I had no charger. I live in Tonawanda and work in Lockport, so it's not like I could just pop in and grab it. It's about a half an hour drive. Fortunately, my downstairs neighbor uses the same charger and I got through the day.
After work on Thursday, I remembered to bring home my home charger.
Friday, I get to work and find that I'm actually working out of our Tonawanda offices instead of the Lockport office, like I usually do. So in order to make sure I got through the night, I brought my work phone charger to the Tonawanda News with me ... and then home.
My girlfriend and her kids came over today to spend time with me and my girls. She brought her home charger with her ... and accidentally left it at my place. (She lives in Lockport)
After dropping my kids off at their mom's (Lockport) following the weekend, I popped into work to grab the power cord for my laptop, as I'll be sitting in the press box for tomorrow night's Sabres game. 
I would have let my girlfriend borrow my work charger, since we use the same type (Micro-USB) and I won't need it for the next three days ... but I left it at home. Along with my home charger. And her charger. If you're keeping track here, on Thursday morning, I had no phone chargers at home. As I type this, I have three.
Also, it's not without irony that the reason I had stopped into work at all was to get the laptop cord/charger.
It's all about power.
Long story short, there's got to be a better way to power small electronic devices. 
I'd imagine that most of you have a calculator in or on your desk. The percentage of those calculators that are solar is probably stellar. Calculators can be powered by the sun (or your office lights). But almost nothing else is, save those Malibu lights that seem to putter out in the short winter days.
I actually have a solar charger for small electronic devices (photo at right). It has several interchangeable tips. But not one for my current phone. My old phone used a mini-USB plug. I don't understand, frankly, why the industry standard seems to have changed from mini-USB to micro-USB. I don't really see a difference in size. Just shape ... but that's another thought for another blog. Worth noting, of course, is you still need a cord to go from the solar charger to the phone or whatever you want to power.
There's some small electronic devices that are powered by kinetic energy. You move, it adds power. There's a line of watches that are like this. I think they're cool. Like bow ties.
I was at the grocery store this afternoon. Everything I touched shocked me. There's lots of static electricty in the air. I wonder why we can't find a way to harness that electricity and use it. Or solar. Or kinetic. Or ... anything. We are just as addicted to plugs as we are to oil. There's got to be someone out there to fix this. 
Please ... be that person. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Music Is Art a great time ... as always

The girls and I went to Music is Art again this year - for the third year in a row in the Albright Knox "neighborhood," although this year it was across the street in Delaware Park.
It seemed to us that the event doubled in size this year. Awesome. It's a great idea and a great time was had by all.
The photo at right is Free Henry, a band I had on WLVL back when I was doing "Music Fridays," and one which I've dealt with personally and professionally a number of times. They sounded great in their 15 minute set. For more photos, click here.