Monday, January 30, 2012

Big game is not a big priority

I may not watch the Super Bowl this year.

The truth of the matter is I just don’t care that much about the game. The Patriots and the Giants are two of my least favorite teams ever. Add to that the fact that I can just watch the commercials on YouTube, and I’m not sure what the point would be of watching it.

I haven’t had — or missed — television since early October. I have high speed internet and Netflix. I haven’t had a TV show I felt I needed to watch every week since 2009. So the primary reasons for my satelite dish have always been sports — and Shark Week.

I didn’t watch the NHL All-Star Game this year, nor did I watch the NFL Pro Bowl. I feel like I should be upset about those revelations. But I’m not. I’ve seen but one Sabres game since the squabble between Time Warner and MSG began. That would bother me more if the Sabres were playing better. But they’re not — and I’m really not missing it all.

The entire planet almost missed out on the whole NBA season. In other parts of the country that’s a much bigger deal than it is here, although I like basketball, thanks — oddly enough — to two ex-girlfriends.
What I don’t like, however, are whiny millionaires, be they of the stock broker or athletic variety. The more I see sports contracts explode and the more often pro sports seasons are put in jeopardy by disputes over ownership of the pie, the less inclined I am to want to watch.

That said, I’m not boycotting the Super Bowl. I may watch it. Or not. I’m just very blase about the whole ordeal.

I went to church this week. My church. The church I used to go to when I lived in Lockport before. It was nice. The welcome was warm and the people — as always — were very friendly. I’ll be back.

Groundhog Day is Thursday. I’ve always liked Groundhog Day. I don’t care if it’s an early end to winter or if it goes another six weeks, personally. I am, however, reminded of the family vacation we took to Punxsutawney a few years ago to see Phil and friends. I was the only one that liked it. But I liked it enough for all four of us.

Groundhog Day means it’s February. Which means we somehow got through January. That’s absolutely astonishing in that I feel like it hasn’t hardly been winter yet this year — and here it is encroaching upon spring.

We did have some great snowball making snow on Sunday. US&J Sports Editor John D’Onofrio and I stood outside throwing snowballs at a sign. Maybe if I could have hit that stupid sign I’d care more about football. Or maybe if I cared more about football, I would have hit the sign. Or something.

But, hey, how can I be expected to throw snowballs and care about the Super Bowl. I have pink checks.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Who likes beige, anyway?

A new house means new checks. I can’t, after all, use checks that have the wrong address on them. Plus, I like buying new checks. I have no idea why, but I do.

The funny thing of the whole “new checks” thing is that I just used my last starter check — from a bank account that I opened up about six months ago. I think I use an average of one check per month. So, in truth, these aren’t new checks, per se. It’s more like I’m finally getting around to ordering checks.

I think the checks people use say a lot about them.

Some people are very standard — upright citizen types. They order the parchment or executive checks. Those checks say very loudly, “I’m an adult and there is nothing fun about writing a check.”

Other people go out of their way to bring attention to their checks. They might have sports logos on them or flashy cars. Hello Kitty also comes to mind in this category. That kitty sure has staying power, doesn’t she?

Personally, I like the happy medium. I like colors and shapes. Maybe polka dots. Maybe plaid. If I’m feeling daring, wavy lines. My last checks were pink. I’m not kidding. Pink polka dots and plaid. My daughters made fun of me for my pink checks. But I didn’t get them for them. I got them for me.

Several years ago, we painted the girls rooms. We let them pick the colors, if I recall correctly. The Big One chose purple and the Little One chose pink. Guess who hates purple and pink now?

When we lived in Tonawanda, the girls shared a room. With sharing came a necessary compromise on paint color. If I recall correctly, Big One wanted lime green and Little One wanted orange. The compromise was blue — a very vibrant blue. Personally, I like it. My old landlord, on the other hand, does not. She wants it back to beige, along with the rest of the rooms in the house. She has this theory that the new tenants will want the house to be beige. I bet she has parchment checks.

I’ve painted every apartment I’ve ever lived in, primarily because I can’t stand beige. The Tonawanda apartment had a yellow bathroom, a gold dining room, a blue kitchen and a green living room. They’re all going to be beige now. Beige is really just gray with a hint of brown.

We haven’t picked colors for the new apartment yet. But the girls each have their own rooms here. I’m kind of hoping that they don’t pick the lime green and orange that they each wanted in the last house. I’m certain, however, that they won’t pick pink or purple — or beige.

Of course, even beige is better than the wallpaper in my new kitchen. But that’s another story for another day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Try, try again

Life is pretty awesome. More often than not, it allows you to try things over and over again until you get them right.

About 12 years ago, a previous version of myself — age 25 at the time — moved from Ashland, Ohio, back to Niagara Falls and, eventually Lockport, along with my wife and beautiful 3-year-old daughter. We were starting over. It wasn’t an easy move. We had to admit defeat in Ohio. As much as we loved it there, it just didn’t work out (Some things just don’t).

We picked Lockport primarily due to its spot on the map — about halfway between my parents’ house in the Falls and her parents’ Albion home. A few weeks before we moved home, my Dad passed suddenly. We would be starting over without him. And suddenly being closer to family seemed all that much more important.

If you’ve ever been to my website, you’ve likely noticed that it’s blue and gold. Sabres colors. But more importantly, Lockport colors. It always has been. In fact, a website I had prior to the current one was also blue and gold. I embraced Lockport long before we moved here.

About three years ago, I started over again — by myself this time. I moved to Tonawanda — via Snyder, Niagara Falls, West Seneca and Niagara Falls again.

Truth is, I’ve started over a few times in the past few years. Life just lets me keep trying until I get it right.

I’ve loved living in Tonawanda the past year and a half. Anyone who knows me has heard me crow about it. But something hasn’t been quite right. I’m in Tonawanda, and my daughters are all the way in Lockport. Yep, two of ’em now. We had a second one shortly after moving to Lockport — in the year 2000.

So as of this past Sunday, I’m starting over again. Again. Closer to work. But more importantly, closer to my girls.

Life just lets you keep trying until you get it right. It’s awesome like that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gov. Cuomo needs to stay on point

Governor needs to stay on point (suggested headline)

I want to like politicians. I really do.

Most election days, I’m disappointed, but hopeful that whoever it is we duly elected will do their job and save the world — or at least our small part of it.

Candidate Andrew Cuomo scared me. After all, he’s a Cuomo. He’s his father’s son. And truth be told, his father is one of the large reasons I went to school out of state — with no real plan to ever return.

Life’s funny that way and about 12 years ago, I moved back to New York. But that’s beside the point.

When Andy Cuomo was inaugurated as governor, I hoped that my earlier opinions on him were wrong. I hoped he would be a strong governor who would make good decisions and get us out from the fiscal mess that we were in and dysfunction that seemed prevalent in Albany.

Just over a year into the younger Cuomo’s first term, however, I’m beginning to think that either he doesn’t want to be governor or he has no idea what the job is supposed to entail.

Maybe I’m jaded, but from my perspective, the state of New York — with Andy Cuomo at the helm — accomplished only one thing in 2011. That accomplishment is the tax cap. And I say accomplishment in an ironic tone. The governor’s best idea of how to save us money in 2011 was to tell entities he didn’t control (school boards, towns, villages and cities) that they couldn’t raise taxes higher than 2 percent. That’s akin to petroleum companies holding a press conference to protest the price of milk and eggs. It would be laughable if it didn’t pass.

Last week in the governor’s State of the State address, Cuomo said he’s taking on a new job. He’s going to be an advocate for the kids. In fact, Cuomo went so far as to say that he’s going to be the only advocate that kids have.

According to the governor, school kids in New York state don’t have anyone looking out for their interest. Teachers are in it for teachers, he says. And school boards are in it for school boards. Thank goodness the kids have Andy to look out for them.

Understandably, this position was not favorably viewed by teachers and school administrators. In fact, many of them were rather irritated. And who could blame them?

A few years ago, county legislatures in the area jumped on this “schools cost too much money” bandwagon. It was much easier for them to complain about other taxing entities than to try to rein in their own. That talk seems to have quieted somewhat and they’re back to complaining about state mandates — now that the state is focused on them.

My position with them was the same as my position with Governor Cuomo. If you’re so interested in how school disticts operate, give up your elected position and run for school board.
I’m not saying that our school system is perfect. But that’s beside the point.

There are more than enough problems that Andrew Cuomo could be focusing on that are actually under his control. Instead he’s doing nothing more than finger pointing in order to shift the focus away from the heart of dysfunction in New York state — Albany.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Must be a different Constitution

This story in the New York Daily News says that Dean Skelos, who leads the Senate Republicans in New York claims the moral high ground for a plan to add a 63rd Senate seat, saying, "the (state) Constitution told me to do it."

Personally, I have no problem with the Senate adding a 63rd seat. But claiming that it's called for in the Constitution seems a bit sketchy to me.

Of course, this could all be avoided if the legislative bodies which make up New York state would just have the district lines drawn independently instead of doing them themselves.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he'll veto any redistricting plan that doesn't appear to be impartial. I'd like to see that fight.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I remember the scream

If you’re sick of news of the run for the White House, I’ve got some really bad news for you: It’s about to get worse.

Today if the first step in the assumed coronation of Mitt Romney as the Republican standard bearer. The latest polls in both Iowa — with their caucus today — and New Hampshire, the next step in the primary process, have Romney in the lead.

After today’s assumed win, followed by the Granite State, Romney is expected to roll over the rest of his GOP counterparts on his way to the nomination.

I can’t help but recall eight years ago when a certain Democrat was expected to roll over competition on his way to his party’s nomination and then defeat George W. Bush in the 2004 general election.

I remember watching caucus returns on CNN or MSNBC or whatever, expecting to see Howard Dean win. I was a huge fan of the Vermont governor and genuinely excited about the future with him at the helm. In truth, he’s one of the few politicians I’ve ever been excited about.

But the returns didn’t come in as Gov. Dean — or I — had hoped. Dean came in third behind Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards. And in an effort to reinvigorate his base, Dean made a speech that would eventually derail his campaign. You may recall it.

“Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York ... And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!”

That “Yeah!” was broadcast on a loop, remixed, and made into songs, turning Dean into a joke.

What was assumed to be a sure thing turning into a disaster, and Kerry ended up the nominee, with Edwards his running mate. Dean became chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

So just because the pundits are telling you today that it’s a done deal and it’s Romney’s nomination to lose, doesn’t mean he can’t lose it.

His lead in the latest Iowa poll was razor-thin and, while his New Hampshire lead seems insurmountable, there’s no such thing in politics. Just look at who’s polling third in Iowa. Rick Santorum — dead in the water just a couple weeks ago and now running third.

Following New Hampshire are South Carolina and Florida — with Newt Gingrich leading the polls in both. If the former speaker can make a decent showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, his stock could skyrocket.

Of course, Ron Paul could win tonight and turn into the party’s front runner.

This is one of the reasons I love politics. It’s a huge game of chess. And it the match starts in earnest tonight.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

There's something magical about New Year's day. For a few brief hours, it's possible that this is going to be the perfect year ... the year you get the job ... or the girl ... or whatever it is you're hoping to do with your life.

Fresh off the high of Christmas, we go into an almost euphoric state of possibilities. I'll be honest, I have newfound hope for 2012. Of course, I had hope for 2011, too ... and truth be told, it wasn't all that bad. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but I don't really think 2012 will be either. But, hey ... there's still hope.

I know there are changes coming in my life ... in the very near future. I'll be moving ... again. Been hard to put down roots the last few years. I love living in Tonawanda. I absolutely adore my apartment and being so close to the river ... and the canal. But the commute to work is dreadful. Not that I mind the drive ... but the price of gas has gotten redic. And my girls are too far away ... so by the end of January, I'll be living in Lockport again. Closer to work ... and to the people I love.

I'm not one to make resolutions, usually. I just want to be the best me I can be. Hopefully we can all do the same ... and I hope your 2012 is flawless.

I love you all.