Sunday, September 30, 2012
On Friday afternoon I was at the Planet Fitness in Clifton Park. I was on the elliptical a few feet from the front desk. The twenty-something woman working the counter (and all she was doing) was nothing less than a jaw-dropping watch while I worked out.
I’m guessing she was about 22 years old, very tall, very attractive, but seemingly not interested in grabbing the gym’s employee of the month. As people came in to swipe their ID cards at the desk, they were made to wait several seconds if not minutes as this young woman finished her text messaging or cell-phone call. The whole time I was there she was glued to this phone like a drone. Then she decides it’s time to eat, and microwaves something that stank like old Chinese food and dirty socks. Um, this is a gym, honey, people are sweating it out. The nuked-garbage smell washed over the place like a tsunami, and she ate this foul-smelling grub, eyes on the cell phone, oblivious to anything around her, including the people waiting to get swiped.
How in-your-face unprofessional does it get? When did this start? All I ever hear is how nobody can find jobs, there’s no work, etc, but so often I see people lazy, unprofessional, and abusive of the work they’ve been given. I get it: the Planet Fitness counter isn’t a job in the West Wing. But you’ve got to start somewhere. That’s how success happens. The gym was full of members, could’ve been lawyers, doctors, business owners. I met the guy who kickstarted my career when I was washing cars at Hoffman. That's how it goes. She was so mindlessly locked on that phone, just shoveling Chinese food down her throat. It was awful. She has a great look, the kind that can open doors for her with people. But that entitlement combined with a comical work ethic isn’t going to go anywhere. People are always watching. Don't believe me? Bet this young woman has no idea I was watching and wrote about her here and now. Trust me, this wasn’t a onetime thing, I’ve seen her that unprofessional several times before. When did this start?
When did this start:
When did auto/life/home insurance company commercials become so darn witty and involved? From the Geico gecko, the cavemen boys, the Farmer’s Insurance team, and our fair-faced Flo, just to name a few, these commercials have become a bonanza of Barnum & Bailey’s circus characters, involved in arching stories that have inciting incidents, climaxes, and resolutions, all the while beating us over the head with “Fiddler on the Roof” witticisms. I literally cannot even follow half these insurance commercials. They have gone so far over the top. When did this start?
I watched a Geico gecko spot today where he runs into the Road Runner and that cartoon character that chases him in all those old cartoons. Then an ACME vault falls on that thing that chases the Runner, and the gecko says, “strange place,” and it ends. Um, what? That was an insurance commercial?
But they’re all like that now. It’s just thirty seconds of post-graduate, Silicon-Valley wit that has nothing to do with insurance. It’s getting entirely out of control. Just sell insurance at the lowest price, guys, and leave the character performances aside. When did this start?
When did this start:
I was watching a story on YNN yesterday about frat parties at Union. It seems that the school has decided to get directly involved, on a bureaucratic level, with the weekend activities of their student body. Of course it’s a “good” idea to regulate people at that young age, and it’s "important" to create a safe community, and it reads like a PR dream to parents, but when did this start? Isn’t partying and going to frats kind a rite of passage for college kids? I know I was the first to call for huge U Albany response after that St. Pat's mess on Hudson Ave a few years back. But this isn't that.
I don’t remember--when I was in college--school bureaucrats being so involved with what happened on the weekends in the bars or the frat houses. I remember foam parties, and fifty-cent nights, and Halloween blowouts at frats. Now there are rules, and periodical checks, and paperwork, and oh my God. Maybe this is the right approach by schools. It’s just this hyper-sized PR presence in all societal things now. One girl gets too drunk in Texas, cancel drinking in every college in the country. It’s like buttering your bread with a machete. It’s a good thought, I admit that, but there are some things in life that don’t work with a bureaucratic partnership.
College is the transition into adulthood where young people find their individuality and prepare to make a career, and one need not look further than the idiot fest on Hudson Ave to know college kids can be knuckleheads in a major way. But college is also Spring Break trips and twelve people packed in a cab on a Friday night. It is that too. And I don't remember school officials on my Spring Break plane or SUNY security personnel sitting with us in our Friday night cab. When did this start?
Saturday, September 22, 2012
I’m about to turn 33. When I was 20 years old, my uncle, Dave Barden, was 32, and in October he was diagnosed with lymphoma. It was a horrible time in the history of our family. I worked with him every day at Orange Ford in Albany. He was a mentor to me. I connected with him like no other. Which meant I had to sit front row for the whole thing, ten feet away as he faded from the world. When my friends were away at college, I was in an attic office seeing what death looked like when it’s still upright and walking, learning WAY too soon the ugly side of life. That fall, the chemo started, the hair fell away, along with the body weight and energy, and I had no idea how this was going to end, but I hoped against hope.
When he came to our family house on Christmas, and my mother saw him for the first time since Thanksgiving, she insisted that we take a family picture, she demanded it, because she knew this was it, this was the final Christmas for Dave. He watched the Millennium from a hospital bed. Then, on March 3, 2000, he went into Albany Med and never came out. He died on March 21, 2000. He was 33 years old. That final Christmas picture still hangs in my mother’s house, and there’s Dave in a denim shirt and baseball hat, eyes empty, skin translucent, four months from the end.
I slipped into a yearlong depression after his death. I lost my job, didn't go to school. I woke up at noon, sat in a dark apartment all day, then dreamed of him at night. The concept of the dream was always the same: He came to me and said he wasn’t really dead, and I had to tell him that he did in fact die, and could never come back. I must’ve dreamed some variation of that dream a million times. One time I dreamed he told me to go to his camel-colored suit coat and search the pocket. I went to my aunt’s house, searched the coat, and found a dollar bill with the word Lazarus written all over it in blue pen. Lazarus, the biblical leper who died then came back to life. That’s what the dollar bill said around the side, “Lazarus” Lazarus” “Lazarus.” That sadness went on. But soon I realized I had to put my life back together. Had I learned nothing from Dave’s death? Life was short. I had to live it. So I did.
I earned a B.A. then a Master’s at St. Rose. I got a girlfriend when I was twenty-four, learned that you brushed your teeth BEFORE using the mouth wash. I exercised like a mad man, eight days a week and twice on Tuesday. I lived fast and never let up on anything. There was no time. When I got my degrees, I took jobs sixty, seventy miles from Albany, whatever it took to keep my professional life moving. Have to work. There wasn’t time to stop and smell the roses. Have to build it now! Hadn’t I learned anything from Dave’s death? But still I lived with this dark cloud overhead. That my clock was tick tocking like his was. So I was working twice as hard as everyone, but was still so far behind. I couldn’t keep ahead. I took jobs, lost them. Bought cars, crashed them. Saved money, lost it.
Then I met my wife and got married (believe me, it wasn't that quick of a process). And all that darkness went away. She is the only good thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life. And all the success I have ever had is with her. We grew together, bought a house, helped each other, everything that I always heard life could be but never saw myself. But still, I dream of Dave, always dream he’s not really dead but he is. And as I approach my 33rd birthday, the root of what I am, what I might really be, is tugging at me again, harder than it has in years. And despite all the positive change in my life over the last thirteen years, I’m still quasi convinced that I’m somehow linked with Dave on a level I can’t understand, and 33 is destined to be my end too. Will I outlive Dave? Will I now be the older man when I dream of him? It doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem possible.
A few weeks back, a radiating pain in my chest and down my left arm brought me awake in the middle of the night, snapped me up from another Dave dream, and I knew instantly that I was having a heart attack, and I was going to die right there in that bed. There was no time to call for help or drive to the hospital. The pain was crippling and constant. Despite my clean EKGs and perfect blood tests, I was going to die at 32 and eleven months, and hadn’t I sort of known that since I was 20? My wife was asleep next to me. I didn’t wake her. I was alone with this, alone with Dave now. I lay in that bed at 3AM, begged for my life. I wasn’t ready to die yet. I wanted kids, gray hair, arthritis, all those things Dave never had himself.
I did not die that night. My first experience with Heart Burn. But now it’s almost October and I’m 32, and it’s a place in my life I’ve feared for the last thirteen years. But I have to tell myself I’m not Dave. His destiny is not my destiny, and my road will not end at 33. I’m only in the beginning of my life, and there’s much left. And in the end, I’ll have that gray hair and all that arthritis, and a whole family around me as I grow old, all the things that Dave never had himself. But maybe he helped me find it, maybe that’s the cosmic link between us. Maybe it's life not death that binds us.
And when I dream my Dave dreams now, I’ll be the older man and he’ll be the younger, a once-impossible dynamic in my mind, and when he tries to convince me he’s not dead, like he always does, I won’t say “yes, you are dead,” I’ll say, “As long as I’m alive, Dave, you’ll be alive too.” And as I write this, on my wall hangs a picture of Dave at 27. He's young and his head is full of hair. He stands behind a Rusty Wallace car on the Orange Ford lot, and he smiles. As long as I'm alive, he'll be alive. Lazarus, see? Maybe that's what he's been trying to tell me all along. Maybe he's been telling me to stop and smell the roses.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
10. Stuyvesant Plaza: It seems like some kind of hoity-toity place with all these specialty shops. I would never really go there, and the few times I have, it was not my scene. I don’t care about being uppity. Uppity doesn't work in Albany. If I want to shop, I go to Colonie Center. The end.
9. The Great Escape: This place used to be ah "great," but the infusion of Six Flags really sucked the charm and romanticism from the park. Now it’s all corporate and chainy feeling. Plus, I feel like the class of people that populate it on a daily basis has gone way down. It now feels like a lot of beer guts and denim-jean shorted guys crossing that walkway thing when I drive by.
8. Lodges: If you don't know what B. Lodge's is, it is an oddities store (men's/women's clothing, socks, underwear, bras, etc) and the oldest store in Albany. It is across from the Kenmore and the Blue 82 Bar on Pearl Street. I don't understand WHO goes to Lodge's. When the economy is seemingly crumbling around us everday, this old, musty store, filled with all these grandmaish clothes and oddities, still stands? Really? Who goes to Lodge's? Please, tell me who you are. I know, I know, when you needed a poncho on the spot, Lodge's saved the day. But how often does that happen? A business can't survive on that craziness, can it?
7. Lark Fest/Tulip Fest: I used to love going to these two events in Albany’s Washington Park. Now? I wouldn’t be caught dead. Same goes for Alive at 5 or Rocking on the River. Maybe I’ve aged out of this, I don’t know, but any event with FEST at the end doesn't appeal to me any longer.
6. Jumping Jack’s: Why is this little place in Schenectady so celebrated? I’ve been a few times. It’s OK. I don’t think the news needs to send a camera crew to cover its annual summer opening. But, hey, that’s just my opinion.
5. SPAC: This venue gets a lot of great acts, I’ll grant that much, but my God, the work that is involved with going to any event at that joint. First: the traffic. It’s always insane on the way up there. Then: getting inside. It takes an eternity. Get a beer: yeah right. Finally when the concert starts you get to watch on a hill crushed between a million people. At the end of the night: another two hours of traffic and your body feels like crap from standing at an angle for three hours. It’s just too much work.
4. Trader Joe’s: People, it’s not the crucifixion of Jesus. It’s Hannaford with a different colored sign. We went there, gave it a try. Everything we bought was pre-packaged junk. Well, savor the favor, Capital Region, because Trader Joe’s will be out of business in eight months. Ah, manias.
3. NY Giants Training Camp: As a diehard Big Blue Fan this is my saddest submission. But honestly, it’s not that much fun going to training camp. Of course I love watching Coughlin and Eli work, but you don’t get to be close to the action, and the team moves around the field a lot, from drill to drill, which means you have to move. The idea of training camp is exciting, and I always say I’m going to go, but when it comes down to it, I rather just watch the clips on Giants.com.
2. Latham: To be honest, Latham is kind of crappy. It’s crowded as heck, the roadways are a mess, it’s overpopulated with apartment complexes and a rotating battery of businesses. I hate the Latham Circle. And Latham Circle Mall, is there anything more depressing than that place? Don’t get me wrong, Loudonville is great, where I want to live, but Latham is kind of terrible. Plus, no good places to eat, none.
1. The Saratoga Track: This is probably the most overrated place in all of America. Again, I understand the "idea" of the Track is a great one, but actually doing it is such a pain in the butt. Plus, nobody (relatively) ever wins. I’m just not a Saratoga guy in any regard. I don’t know what to say. The Track is everything I hate about summer. When it’s Track Season, I get kind of depressed. Not a fan of the Track
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
From the Mohawk-Hudson Humane Society: Pit Bull Puppies Abused and Abandoned
On Saturday, September 8th, railroad workers discovered three young puppies on railroad tracks in Albany. When they picked up the puppies, the men soon realized something horrible had happened.
All three puppies had terrible injuries to their left rear paws. One puppy's paw had been completely severed, apparently by a sharp implement. Another had the two middle digits of her left rear paw torn off, and a third had a hole piercing through her left rear paw. Our veterinarian and cruelty investigator agree this was an intentional and depraved act by a person; there is no way this was an accident. The puppies are only three weeks old.
The men who found the puppies rushed them to the Humane Society where our veterinary staff treated their wounds in addition to their dehydration and malnutrition. Even healthy puppies at this age would struggle to survive. Sadly after struggling to hold on to life for three days, one of the puppies died from the trauma.
We are looking for information that may lead to the person or people who committed this horrible act. The puppies were found on the railroad tracks where North Pearl Street passes under a railroad bridge. They were likely left there Friday evening or Saturday morning. Anyone with information should contact the Humane Society.
The two survivors have a long recovery ahead and may need orthopedic surgery. We hope you will help support their recovery by donating to the Guardian Angel Fund. You can donate online through our website or by mail with a note designating your gift to the fund.
Than you for your support and please help us find the person responsible for this heinous act. Any donations over and above the cost of the puppies' medical expenses will remain in the Guardian Angel Fund for the next special animal who needs a little extra help to live out a happy, healthy life.
UPDATE: There's been a $7,000 reward offered for the piece of trash who did this. If we can raise 300K for the "bullied bus monitor" we can raise more than $7,000 for this. Even if this guy's never arrested, I'm not worried, someday Karma will get him. One day he'll be in an alley or back way, and a pit bull will bust a chain and tear him to shreds. Nothing's more powerful than Karma.
Read/Watch More: http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_2989.shtml
Sunday, September 9, 2012
After seeing one of the FIFTY SHADES books in front of every woman I know this past year, I am now seeing all those same women are with child. I’m wondering if there’s a connection. Most women in my circle are between the ages of 28&34, and I understand that this is a very common period to get pregnant. But literally EVERY SINGLE woman is pregnant it seems, or working on getting pregnant, or has just given birth.
I know one woman pregnant with twins, several women pregnant at the same time as their sisters and best friends, pregnancies that are wiping out whole departments at jobs with maternity leaves. All those women who were once engrossed with the adventures of Anastasia and Christian are now engrossed in WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING. Look around at your own circle. Isn’t EVERYONE pregnant? Maybe it’s just my group. It seems like women are going for it in record numbers.
Whether you’re a FIFTY SHADES fan or not, you have to admit the book(s) has been a significant piece of popular culture in the last year. Record sales, the rescuing of a major retail chain, and now maybe a second baby boom. The only question left: Who will play the hunky Christian Gray in the movie that is no doubt in the works. I think you gotta go with Rob Schneider, right?
Sunday, September 2, 2012
* NE Patriots: 12-4
NY Jets: 9-7
Miami Dolphins 3-13
* Baltimore: 14-2
* Indianapolis: 10-6
* Tennessee: 10-6
* San Diego: 11-5
* Denver: 10-6
WC: Denver over Indy, San Diego over Tennessee
DIV: Denver over NE, Baltimore over San Diego
AFC CHAMP: Denver over Baltimore
* NY Giants: 11-5
* Philly: 10-6
* Green Bay: 12-4
* Detroit: 11-5
* Atlanta: 9-7
New Orleans: 9-7
Tampa Bay: 4-12
* St. Louis: 10-6
San Francisco: 9-7
WC: Detroit over Saint Louis, Philly over Atlanta
DIV: Detroit over NY Giants, Green Bay over Philly
NFC CHAMP: GB over Detroit
SUPER BOWL: Denver over Green Bay (MVP Peyton Manning)
Regular Season MVP: Eli Manning, NYG
Coach of the Year: Jeff Fisher, STL
Rookie of the Year: Andrew Luck, IND
Defensive Player of the Year: Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG
Coaching Firings: Marvin Lewis, CIN, Ken Whisenhunt, ARZ