Drive – mental mcnuggets from a lengthy commute


When you have a lengthy commute to work as I do, it gives one plenty of time to sort out a myriad of issues that might creep into the cerebral cortex and not leave…

I notice Amazon isn’t taking the bait from the President. I think he is attacking the company because the owner also owns the Washington Post.  The Post covers news. The President is frequently is in same. He doesn’t appear to like that. Maybe he shouldn’t have run. Pretty sure that when a public figure runs down a public traded company that it is a form of securities fraud.

Different towns in Western New York have decidedly different approaches to snow removal. When you cross through a variety of townships, the care and patterns do shift a bit. I guess that is a good thing, keeps me alert during the drive.

Everytime one of our weatherforecasters has said a storm is “nothing we can’t handle,” I see multiple evidence the next morning that we apparently cannot. From spinouts to rollovers, this winter has seen them all.

Is there a right way to protest? That seems to take over debates than the actual matter being debated. A tv show host busts a student advocate about getting rejected from colleges instead being at all concerned that he got shot at. He’s too wrapped up in her and is losing site of his original cause, noble as it was. I say was because it sure looks like nothing is really going to change, except for Stoneman Douglas will take a few elements of high school that are already prominent in many urban schools already.

What should change? Hey, glad you asked. Make all gun transactions the same. Make background checks universal. Let ATF databanks be electronic so they digitally track potential trouble spots so it can be a little more difficult for a whackdoo to be an armed whackdoo. That’s a pretty decent objective, no? The fact that we might never completely eradicate doesn’t mean we need to necessarily not try anything. Responsible gun owners lives don’t change at all. And, oh yeah, let the appropriate agencies full enforce what is already there on the books. That would be good. See, simple, let’s move on.

Good of the guy in graphics to be on top of what we truly need to know.

Last guy to perpetuate such a relentless and pointless press attack was Nixon. That worked out well.

We have become so touchy about issues, especially ones involve political figures or ideology that we don’t necessarily agree with. When Roger Waters and U2 played shows in the region, people groused on Facebook about those acts “turning political.” It makes me wonder what they’ve been listening to as both artists have always had a concern in the political arena.

The restart of “Roseanne” has people talking about politics and of all people, Kareen Abdul-Jabbar has it right. Check out his article on what is really playing out: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kareem-abdul-jabbar-dont-be-fooled-roseanne-is-tvs-anti-trump-show-1099170?utm_source=twitter

If you are taking your cues from a sitcom character, that might be an issue. That’s never been good, be it Roseanne or Archie Bunker. Can they spark debate and thought? Sure, and we can certainly use more of that.

I wonder if more folks are going to the final home Buffalo Sabres’ game for the Dominik Hasek bobblehead than the actual game. They are and always will be my team, but my team is broken.

The Cuban flag dates back into the 1800’s and is not symbolic of Castro and Communism. It needed to be said.

I really liked the NBC production of Jesus Christ Superstar. It had a few flaws but as a whole was pretty great. I enjoyed Alice Cooper as King Herod, but a friend of mine posited how cool it would have been to see what David Bowie could have done with that assignment. That would have been something to see.

This was pretty good, however.

So a local congressman is afraid to meet with students out of fear they might not agree with him? What a world. That’s how you win over voters, by showing up. That’s how a grownup behaves, or do those kids not matter until they are donors?

Social Security and Medicare? We’ve been paying into them all our working lives. Left to their own devices, the programs are self-maintaining. Don’t be fooled when they are talked of as entitlements. It’s a misleading word. These are programs that literally have been funded by taxpayers, our money that is getting mismanaged and is under assault by those who don’t represent us.

I wish the Sabres weren’t so terrible.

Time for a walk.

 

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Drive, he said


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There was an article published recently that talked of how lousy western New York drivers take to the roads.

That came into my mind over a recent errand into Canada for work. It’s a different world for border crossings in recent years obviously enough and the worst thing to do is get unnecessarily worked up as that solves little. In returning from the errand via the rainbow bridge, a predictably long line filled the bridge and the near by side streets. It was a nice day and little to do but roll down the windows and be patient. Most folk took that in spirit, people let each other in, except one grouch in a Lexus, who cut people off, changed lanes like it was important that he and he alone make it to America with his purchases. For his trouble, he got an extended chat with the good folks in customs,

This popped back into my mind this morning negotiating the highways that envelope Toronto. This is not for the squeamish. A lot of things happen, all at 75 to 90 miles an hour. There’s a reason the Canadians go slower on Buffalo roadways as the pressure is off. My gps couldn’t draw the directions quick enough to keep up with the vicissitudes of the 401 to 400 to 427 highway exchange,

That said, driving isn’t the mad max movie that is Wny highways. While walking from my hotel just now, I did see the aftermath of an accident where the participants said a rare thing to each other

“Soory”

Beautiful Day


I missed both “Breaking Bad” and the Bills game for a real good reason. I got outside. At this risk of this seemingly appearing to be a post featuring vacation shots, shaddup and behold the wonder of nature. You, you’re not beholding…..behold, dammit. (Okay, missed the Simpsons too).

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This is the opening you see once you enter Watkins Glen State Park from the lot.

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Nice to unplug for a bit, wander, and wonder

Rain


A few years ago, this area started summer with a lot of rain. Warm weather, but the better part of 10 day period, downpours were the order of the day. I, secretly being five, paid it no heed. I was at Target picking up a few things, and from the register, I could see that night’s downpour cranking up. My rounds for done for the night, so no big deal. The umbrella’s in the car, but I didn’t care. I was done, what’s a little water, it comes right out. I took my purchases and stopped to locate my car and just watch the water for a moment. Slightly to my left, I could hear a guy wound up, upset, calling the rain names, his car was on the other side of the lot, gonna effin drown, etc. None of this was the rain’s fault, but I did have a little bit of sympathy for the person on the other end of the  phone. To complaining boy’s left was a woman watching the rain and trying to hid her amusement at the complainer.

Before I said something stupid, I did the wise thing: secured my purchases and leapt off the sidewalk into the biggest puddle I could get to and strode off to my car. He cursed, she laughed and I think did the exact same thing as he continued to weave a tapestry of obscenties that loitered in the moist air over the store entrance.

It’s only water, dude, lighten up.

This came back to me the other night as we got some localized rain and one of the downpours hung over my apartment. I walked out onto my porch and just listened, let it rain, didn’t watch anything in particular, just let nature do its thing. Know my mental remote control has never settled on any one channel for very long, but it was the closest I’ve ever come to a mediative state. I had yoga teachers maintain that such states were possible, but I think they were just overselling exhaustion. It was just a calm, warm rain, just loud enough to drown everything out. Despite being three stories over one of my city’s busier streets, things disappeared. A raft of thoughts and worries stopped.

Refreshed inside and out.

Try it, you’ll like it.

Woot! Woot!


Canal, that is.

A recent round of dental treatment culminated in Monday’s first root canal for me. That is just how I pronounced it the rest of the day.

I am, without hesistation, coming out as a big baby when it comes to dental procedures beyond cleanings. We, the small mouthed, have a bit of a reaction when it comes to multiple power tools hanging from our mouths. Only so much room in there, and when too many things pop in without explanation, your system panics a bit. It was hard enough to not hear Bill Cosby talk about how “they place all this stuff in your mouth…and then they want to talk to you.”

Smboke!

After receiving a dental dam, bite guard and assorted other appliances, I nearly gagged and the dentist wanted to why I think that happened? I believe I said something profound like “DFASDph!” which might be latin for only so much room in there. In a room filled with a myriad of equipment, it was if they knew I was trouble and was best tended to out of sight of the regular clientele.

So, the longest 85 minutes of my l life went, with me trying to balance a piece of pool liner (the damn) in my mouth, while holding the right pose to ensure a successful completion of this fresh hell as well as guard against any sudden lobotomies. You can tell the dentist had a tough day, when all this was placed without so much an explanation, as more of a reprimand. The folks working on me were great, but I can tell I was the cherry on the cake of a long day for the lady doing all the real work. But showing me what was going in my mouth was a little easier on my delicate psyche than just ramming stuff in there.

I don’t know if it was the noise that the drills make, combined with the battle of making sure you stay in your breath through your nose, but it was exhausting. In my travels, I’ve been in front of a few fights, been thrown from a couple of bikes, and even forced into a wall, but walking out of the office and getting into the car, I spilled into the driver’s seat and thought fondly of the aspirin I had at home.

But the bourbon was good (i was out of tylenol)

Takin’ It to the Streets


I’ve done it before, shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s just been awhile. That’s all. But the layoff can do things to your mind. I know people who for insane distances, who sport the body hugging ensembles for their 60 mile jaunts. I respect those people. They battle terrific elements in conquering sometimes unforgiving surroundings. I am not one of those people. I’ve been riding a bike casually since I moved into the city, but a combination of age, stupidty and other factors had me off last summer. I don’t go for distance or speed past anybody. I like it for the sake of the fresh air and what not.

But a cool windy day seemed as good as any for the Irish Great Gazoo (check out the helmet) to turn a simple run to the bank into a primer of getting reoriented again to riding into the city, where more car, bus, motorcycle, scooter and pedestrian traffic spends more time staring at their phones then watching out for one another.

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Toughest task for an apartment dweller is getting the bike out of the basement. That being done, a little stretch for this short cruise and away we went. Elmwood Ave on a Saturday isn’t jammed with traffic as you get closer to Allentown, but traveling down the incline on Utica into the lake breeze makes you think this will be no problem coming back as you keep an eye for any bumps in the road that could turn the bike seat into a surgical instrument. A turn onto Elmwood heading downtown and I hear Sean Connery‘s voice from the Untouchables in my head: “Everybody’s gotta die of something,” and I hit the actual bike lane. You get reacclimated and it starts to feel good. It’s like the old pool warning “C’mon in, once you get used to it, the traffic’s fine.”

And you remember to keep your wits about you and all’s good. How those folks travel with the ear buds in, I’ll never know. I get down to City Hall for my errand in decent time, take care of business, and because there is part of me who apparently has a little self loathing going on, the new paving job of Niagara Square proves tempting. So, I and a large assortment of cars hit it. A brief moment of “what the hell was I thinking” and I’m 3/4 of the way around the traffic circle of the damned and on Delware headed back to my place.  Remember in the last paragraph where I said the wind would be no big deal on the way back, well, dear reader, in the short time frame that transpired, our lovely Western New York winds shifted a bit. Great! Terrific! Fantabulous!

I take the hill that is Delaware and make it back still able to speak English like it is my mother tongue. So, that will have to settle for today’s big accomplishment.

I have to go back to the site of my errand, by I think I’ll take the car.

Dome on the Range


After years of craning our necks at Blue Jays games at Exhibition Stadium, my dad and I took in a game at the Rogers Centre a few years back. While its corridors are posh by ballpark standards and there are some pretty amazing feats of engineering, the place and words like pretty, beautiful, and the like don’t often enter the conversation. The last memorable photo for me was when Joe Carter hit that homer to end the 93 baseball season. But I don’t know who the photographer was, but this picture from last month’s concert by Bruce Springsteen (yeah, I know) was worthy.

Chicken and Olympic Biscuits


So, never been to a chik fil a outlet and I am unlikely to venture into one anytime soon. But the debate surrounding the comments of their CEO is already getting twisted to the point that you wouldn’t want to stop by. Personally, I have a high regard for a well-prepped Chicken and Biscuit sandwich, but those folks need some p.r. assistance. I don’t agree with the CEO at the center of this, but his views are his and he’s unlikely to listen to me anytime soon. He is certainly entitled to his views on marriage and again I don’t agree with him on that, but that matters not. It was sort of dumb to weigh into a marriage definition discussion when you have a post like that as wouldn’t you want EVERYBODY to come to your restaurant? Instead, one interview as there is a market segment going up in smoke, fueled more by talking heads like Mike Huckabee and the like who believe that “It’s a freedom of speech” issue. It’s not, everybody has the right to believe what they chose, but when you are a CEO there isn’t a downtime when it comes to you and microphones.  Course, why interviewers are looking for that opinion?

Beats me.

The Olympics are all over the place at the moment and like many, I watched the amiable mess that was the opening ceremonies. Aside from Meredith Viera singing along, Kenneth Branagh‘s awesome hat, hardly any Led Zeppelin in the british music segment, as well as the Queen as a bond girl, what was up with NBC deciding to overlook the terrorist remembrance in favor of Ryan Seacrest‘s hard hitting interview with Michael Phelps? It’s always bothered me a little that when actual british shows are imported here (Top Gear, Kitchen Nightmares to name two recent ones), the results have their bars lowered so to speak. It’s bad enough that a news program like “Today” is sort of unwatchable during the games for news, but it is kind of discouraging to think “we can’t take it” so we get an interview from a personality who have never done sports of a personality who doesn’t want to be there. Not exactly riveting television, but neither is having hosts pretending that stuff didn’t happen hours ago. That needs a rest. In the age of information shooting through in real time, pretending like you have a hot secret is pretty silly. People will still watch the race between Lochte and Phelps. Someday TV executives will think better of us. Speaking of which, who needed Seacrest doing sports? What is lacking from your life that gets satisfied with that scene?

Who knows?

The scuttlebutt in my little town is that Panera Bread is thinking about moving into the Elmwood area once Blockbuster Video finishes swirling round the drainpipe. After careful consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t care. Another sandwich and coffee place which I guess is good since there are so few of those in the vicinity. While I do my best to eat locally, I think we should look at this rumored marketing decision, shake our heads and go about our business. A chain coming to Elmwood? Gasp! Hey, Spot’s a chain now too. I’ll chalk it up to somebody wants to invest in the area. If it is with their dimes, that’s fine. Let em learn.

But it does make your head shake a bit.

Back to the Olympics for a second, a twitter user smarter than me wondered during the opening ceremonies what they would be like in Buffalo, a few folks have already reported this, but if you are on twitter, look up ##BuffaloOpeningCeremonies and enjoyed the Western New York snark. I was proud I made WGRZ’s recap of the wisecrackery.

Find the best stuff. I love the upshot of this speech.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGzyvFm2FI4

Reminds me not to go through the motions.

 

Further On Up the Road


Continuing my car-ma theme from a couple of blogs ago, I did find a nice one. But if I didn’t really like and I do, I might have walked away again. I went to recent used car warehouse sale at Eastern Hills Mall, largely to just see what parked out there behind the food court. There were some vehicles parked in the mall, but I took a “what the hey” stroll to see what was out and about. Now, it should be said, that volume used car shopping is bound to be a little bleah, beige, exciting as watching paint dry, etc. And going to one of these sales is something I don’t intend to repeat.

Anyway, nestled among some overpriced SUVs, Rav4, and other oversized trucksters, I found an immaculate 2006 Toyota Corolla. It looked great, inside and out. You knew it would be worth taking a swing at, so I flagged down a Sales rep to talk more. I had him go get the key after hearing his platitudes. He returned after disappearing to an “office” the dealership set up in an empty store front. I railed at him about all the stuff I wrote about in the “carma” blog two entries ago, so why surprise him with being a jerk later, might as well let him know where I stand from the get go.

We did a couple of laps of the mall and the car and I bonded. This is where the fun stops. I tell my new best friend, Tim, that this car and I are a good match. Let’s go talk to those who need talked to

We journey into the mall “office” where more sales reps, credit people are strewn across a network of card tables and water bottles. We start the ball rolling where an hour of waiting, while furious typing breaks out buying out the rest of my existing loan, evaluating the grand am that I was driving, and the dealership deciding where they will meet me on price. Where I screwed up was telling them to give me the best you can do from the start. Forgot to check on that, but learn from me dear reader.  Tim reappears and advises me to follow down Transit Road to his actual office where we will get the papers signed, he’ll get the car inspected, detailed, and ready to go.

I get to meet the finance woman. Prior to arriving, I called my dad who was the wingman on my older sister’s recent lease from the same firm. I wanted to check when his finely honed b.s. detector went off. It was at this conversation. The finance “Expert” showed my deal. Then, the “genius” revealed all these other options available for my protection to further protect my car and my investment, since “Toyotas are complicated and foreign.” That sadly is an exact quote. This car was built in the exotic foreign land of…..Kentucky (thank you Car Fax). I managed to hide my contempt for this financial whiz kid, didn’t even ask her if when her boyfriend blows in her ear, does she remember to thank him for the refill. If she was the first person I met, this wouldn’t have happened.

With most of the staff at the mall, it seemed forever to get the paperwork done, a mere four hours after I stopped by, automotively six years and 40,000 miles younger. Not a perfect transaction, customers shouldn’t have to be on guard and reps shouldn’t be like vultures, and more importantly, the dealer’s staff shouldn’t have such contempt for clients that they barely mask their misinformation to get a deal done. Positives outweigh the negatives, but there shouldn’t be negatives.

Is that so wrong?

But it is a nice ride