Tag Archives: rants

Calling bullsh*t

image: myfont.de

While I was driving down to Kingston last night to meet a friend, I was impatiently scanning radio stations looking to hear something that wasn’t some nonsense about how I’ll “only miss the sun when it starts to rain.” When I landed on Pink Floyd’s Money, I hit the button to stop scanning and turned up the volume. Good stuff, right?

The answer is yes and no. While the bass line still rings true, the censored version I heard rang false. Is the word “bullshit” really so potentially damaging or offensive that it can no longer remain in a radio broadcast? Have these concerned censors seen what is on television these days?

I know I’ve mentioned the sanitization of song lyrics before – I believe it was in reference to Tom Petty’s lyric about rolling another joint, but the hypocrisy of it continues to irritate me. On a regular basis my children witness advertisements about erectile dysfunction, see sexualized children hawking clothing and glimpse various versions of “reality” which couldn’t be further from the truth. I really believe they can handle a song lyric that references smoking marijuana or uses a word that, quite frankly, is in my frequent rotation of utterances.

You know what?  I think it’s bullshit.

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Filed under Music, Rant, road trips

7 years without a raise is too long

image: qlik.com

Those of you who know me are familiar with my tendency to become irritated or even outraged over injustices.  When something bothers me, I am inclined to obsess about it or reference it repeatedly to draw attention to it.

We’re at a moment in time when there are an overwhelming number of things occurring in our world which I find outrageous or offensive or heartbreaking.  African girls being abducted, children dying in the sands of the Middle East, unarmed Black men being killed by the authorities in the Midwest, a beloved actor not able to love himself…these are some dark times.

Who do you look to for information about events like these?  For me, Twitter has become the spot to which I go first.  Within minutes I can get perspectives from dozens of sources, some of whom are affiliated with or representing print publications. I don’t necessarily have to subscribe to a newspaper because I can follow a writer.  Things have changed.

In the past couple of years, I’ve done some work for the Albany Times Union.  I shoot photos for some of their Seen galleries and had a writing gig that actually came with compensation.  I ended my relationship with Moms at Work following many months of being expected to do the work of two “Moms” but being paid for only one.  No, thank you. Because this was an income that was supplementary, I was in a position to simply walk away.  But what if that wasn’t my situation?

Each time I am subjected to evidence of the Hearst family’s generosity, their noblesse oblige, I feel a piece of my heart harden.  What ever happened to “charity” starting at home?  If one considers how much the price of daily essentials, things like gas, groceries, health insurance premiums, have risen in recent years, how can any employee of the Times Union sincerely celebrate the public unveiling of a new hospital wing or the purchase of a cutting edge printing press when they haven’t received a raise in 7 years?

When I browse my Twitter feed I see a lot of activity from the Schenectady Gazette – photos, articles and breaking news.  Their online presence, despite a paywall, is pretty remarkable and I find myself clicking through and reading some of their stuff even though it isn’t necessarily providing coverage of my neighborhood.  Some of the people I follow, for instance Mark McGuire, Jimmy Veilkind and Michael Janairo, once were TU newsroom employees. They, along with other writers, photographers and advertising salespeople have left the Times Union for new opportunities and, I imagine, the hopes of being better compensated for their talents and efforts.  I’m certain they are missed.

Those who remain at the Times Union, including Paul Grondahl who I consider to be the best newspaper writer in our region, continue to produce excellent copy, despite their lack of monetary appreciation.  They are professionals and as such, they continue to do their jobs writing, Tweeting and blogging, but it must be difficult to remain positive and committed to an organization which fails to reward their talents with more than lip service.

When I casually, and completely unscientifically, compare the online activity (specifically Twitter) of the TU and the Gazette I sense a difference in the level of eagerness present.  The employees of the Gazette seem to produce material which they know will be acknowledged and appreciated – both by the public and the corporation for which they work.  The Times Union folks seem to be driven to write because that is who they are – journalists, but there is also an underlying absence of  enthusiasm.  It must be hard to continue to produce, to in fact expand production to new forms of journalistic media, when one hasn’t had the benefit of a raise in 7 years.

Maybe Hearst can use that fancy press to print his employees some money – or at the least a new contract.  Shameful.

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Filed under Albany, Local, Moms@Work, News, Observations, Rant, SEEN

Hustle and Jive – or dancing for $$

Last week, as I emailed Matt Baumgartner an excel spreadsheet with my availability to work his World Cup Block Party, I thought to myself, “Silvia, you really hustle to pay your bills and afford to travel.” There’s the full-time school job, the night or two a week at the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark, shooting photographs for the TU and their Seen galleries, consigning my clothing and the occasional chaperoning gig. My calendar is definitely pretty full, but I’m not complaining. My car is paid for and I’ve got no debt other than my mortgage which has less than 9 years left to go. I’m doing okay.

Talking about money is awkward. Unless you’re my brother or one of my closest friends, you’ll never hear me complain about being broke. I wish other people had the same impulse about finances and privacy because I really don’t know how to respond when someone says, “Oh, we can’t take a vacation because we can’t afford it.” Um…sorry? Am I supposed to feel guilty because I do have a trip or two planned?

We all have priorities.  We each make decisions about how to make and spend our money.  For me, being able to travel is paramount and I will pick up odd jobs to be able to afford 2 weeks at the beach, occasional weekends out-of-town and an annual “Mom and Me” trip with one of the guys.  It is important to me and I think of it as an educational investment.  Other people may choose to only work part-time in favor of remaining home with small children or perhaps give up a regular income to pursue artistic endeavors.  Whatever works, not my business or concern.

I respect an individual’s personal (and family’s) decision, but I refuse to be made to feel guilty because some folks may not have the funds to spend a couple of weeks frolicking in the ocean.  I work hard to make that happen.  It’s not my problem and I don’t appreciate anyone trying to bring me down because of their own life choices.  I’ll just keep paying my own way and dancing to my own tune.  It would be nice if others would do the same.

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Filed under Random, Rant

Up a tree

image: John Carl D’Annibale/Albany Times Union

I’m sure you’ve heard the saga of the Albany Bear.  A young black bear, with a history of repeatedly wandering into populated areas, was a deemed a “nuisance” and euthanized yesterday.  The last 24 hours of the bear’s life included being struck by a car, shot with both a shotgun and a tranquilizer gun and falling approximately 60 feet from the tree in which he had sought refuge.   It makes me so sad.

Have you ever seen a bear outside of a zoo?  I’ve been lucky enough to see one twice, both times from the safety of the car in which I was driving.  The first time, in a rural area of Massachusetts, the dog in our vehicle sensed the bear’s presence before we did.  When I saw the bear loping along, my heart lifted.  I had always hoped to see a bear and the glimpse I had of this one affirmed my belief in nature and all the wonders which she often holds secret.  I was elated.

A couple of years later, in a more densely populated area in Orange County, N.Y., I noticed a dog on the right side of the road barking furiously at something on the opposite side of the road.  The dog was maintaining a respectful distance, rather than approaching whatever it was that had attracted its attention.  I looked to my left and immediately saw it – a black bear lumbering through the underbrush, more than likely heading towards the nearby orchard.  Hours before this occurred, I had returned to the States after some time spent in Europe, a place I always feel is devoid of wildlife.  Seeing this bear was one of the best “welcome home” experiences I’ve ever had.  I was thrilled.

I understand the perceived threat of a wild animal in a residential neighborhood and the need for authorities to address the situation, I really do.  My struggle with what happened yesterday (just blocks from my home) stems from my sense that that bear wasn’t dealt with respectfully.  His tagged ears indicated he had prior experiences in local communities, but I can’t help but wonder how much effort was put into relocating him to a new home at a substantial distance.  We like to brag in New York State about our 6+ million acres of “Forever Wild” land in the Adirondack Park.  Couldn’t that bear been taken farther away from settled areas during one of his previous visits?

Was this really necessary?     image: http://alloveralbany.com

Why wasn’t there a more humane plan in place after 24 hours of officials monitoring the situation?  Was it really necessary for the bear to fall 60 feet to the ground?  How do we prevent another tragedy like this in the future? The bear may be the one to have fallen from the tree, but the authorities are really the ones who dropped the ball here.

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Filed under Albany, Local, News, Observations, Random, upstate New York

A pass and a fail

I had my car inspected this week.  It passed without any issues.  I was a couple of weeks late on taking care of things, but my reasons were understandable.  At least that’s what I hoped the police officer would think should I have been pulled over.

I initially delayed the process because I wanted to wait until the calendar turned to March. That way I would have gotten 13 months from my previous year’s inspection, a real “stick it to the man” move, right?  Of course, I screwed myself because days before the end of February (such a short little month!), a bulb went in my headlight necessitating a trip to the auto parts store and the efforts of three well-intentioned adults to successfully remove and replace the little halogen beauty.

A few days later, I left my car at the place around the block, Delaware Tire and Service,  for them to take care of the annual requirement.  I was a bit surprised to learn when I returned 90 minutes later that my car had a “few bulbs out” and also needed a new rear windshield wiper blade.  “Bulbs?” I asked, thinking how odd that I should have nonfunctioning bulbs, yet not have received a dashboard message light informing me of this deficit.   I mean, the reason I knew my headlight was out a couple of weeks ago was because my dashboard told me.  Were we now in a fight, my dashboard and I, and no longer talking?  I didn’t think so.  I thanked him for his time and drove home still without a valid inspection.

I next scheduled an appointment with my regular mechanic, the folks I’ve bought 4 cars from and relied upon for more than 15 years to maintain my vehicles.  Naturally, the day before my scheduled appointment, my Check Engine light randomly appeared.  I canceled the appointment and waited for the light to go off, as it reliably does.

I noticed Tuesday that the light was off and yesterday took advantage of an early dismissal to stop at Hoffman’s on my way home for an inspection.  Obviously, I didn’t mention or suggest any issues with my bulbs until after the new inspection sticker had been affixed to my windshield.  At that point, I questioned the technician to see if he had seen anything wrong with bulbs or wiper.  Not surprisingly, all was fine – nothing needed to be addressed or replaced.

So – my while my well maintained vehicle passed inspection with flying colors, Delaware Tire and Service gets a huge fail.  Wonder how many other innocent drivers have been victimized by this unscrupulous business?  You’ll want to give that garage a big pass.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Local, Observations, Recommendations

How much is that doggie in the window?

I’ve been stressing about getting a puppy.  There were the usual considerations, of course.  When?  What type of puppy?  From where?  Added to my dilemma was the criticism I received from a number of my friends on Facebook. Apparently, wanting a dog from a breeder rather than rescuing a dog from a shelter makes me a selfish person.  My response to that?  I’m sorry, but, bite me.

I do what I can to make the world a better place.  I don’t intentionally hurt anyone, nor do I thoughtlessly consume from, or sully, our planet.  When I have a pet, I take care of it – veterinarian visits as necessary, quality food, belly rubs and baths.  All of it.

That being said, I accept the fact that I can’t save the world.  It just isn’t possible.  I donate my time and money to charities which are important to me, and I respect those who work tirelessly for the less advantaged, be they humans or other living creatures.  I say that with complete sincerity.

There may be a point in time when I am in a position to offer a home to a dog who needs to be saved, but I’m not there right now.  I’m sorry but I don’t want an animal who has been abused or malnourished or neglected.  I’m not interested in rehabilitating or attempting to socialize a dog who has  been mistreated.  I’ve done that already, before I had children, and it was satisfying and wonderful, but this is not the right time in my life to do that again.

I reconnected yesterday with the lovely woman who provided us with Cassidy and the angst I felt about getting a new pet, and all the related questions, disappeared.  When I shared with her the life we had shared with the puppy she had entrusted to us, she cried.  The fact that I paid her for the privilege of raising an animal she brought into the world with intention, does nothing to minimize the importance of the relationship there was between our family and a special pet.

The reality is this: adopting a dog from a shelter or a rescue outfit can cost hundreds of dollars.  While the decision is far from purely fiscal, I’d rather spend $200 more and welcome a pet who has known nothing but love into my house.  If you’re offended by that, it isn’t my problem. It’s yours.

There’s a litter of puppies due next month and I am hopeful that Happy Brady Lilly will be joining our family later in spring.  I don’t believe the fact that (s)he will come with papers is really a reason for you to write them, or me, off.

In closing – “Dogs never bite me.  Just humans.”  Marilyn Monroe

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Filed under Boys, family, musings, Rant

Keeping up with the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty – reality?

I don’t really watch a lot of television, but when I do it’s either a series like Mad Men or Downton Abbey, or sports. The only reality TV I watch, other than American Idol or the occasional episode of The Amazing Race, is on the Home and Garden channel.

I remember first becoming aware of the Kardashian family 5 or 6 years ago while having a manicure in a nail salon in the mall.  If I remember correctly, they were at some ski resort and there was all sorts of drama – fighting between the sisters, lying to one another, and lots of conspicuous consumption.  The sisters had a tendency to pose with the ever-so irritating duck lips  Yuck.  Keep up with them?  No, thanks.

Since that time I’ve become increasingly more repulsed by this family who makes a business of creating an impression of desirable beauty when in reality they are nothing more than exploiters of all things ugly.  It’s hard to tell which is more disturbing – the fact that this family is eager to sort their personal laundry on air or that millions of people are enthusiastic spectators to the mess that is their lives.  What does this say about our culture?

I’ve never seen Duck Dynasty, but I think I understand the premise – it’s the antics of a family who have created a family business of actually selling a product, some sort of duck caller, unlike the Kardashians who merely sell their souls.  From what I’ve seen in the media, the patriarch of the family has alienated some viewers with his outrageously homophobic opinions, which he presents as originating in his religious beliefs.

Here’s the thing – I don’t really know anything about this guy or his family. I honestly don’t care if he really believes that homosexuals are going directly to hell.   It doesn’t matter to me at all because his opinion holds no value in my world.  You see, my reality is populated with people who both maintain personal boundaries and value diversity, rather than exhibitionist mediawhores and judgmental conservatives.

Duck, duck, gross.  I’ll pass.

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Filed under News, Observations, politics, Rant, television