Category Archives: Rant

The State of our State makes me angry

  • I’m angry that Sheldon Silver was given the courtesy of sitting in a position of prestige at this week’s State of the State address when the state’s teachers are not invited to sit at the table and truly participate in education reform and improvement.
  • I’m angry that Sheldon Silver, along with the governor and other elected officials, is responsible for the educational, social and financial policies of NYS, a task with which he doesn’t deserve to be trusted.
  • I’m angry that for the last 5 years or so my profession has been under constant attack while Speaker Silver has been profiting from illegal business deals for decades.
  • I’m angry that Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly maligned the teachers of this state while protecting those he promised to prosecute.
  • I’m angry that dedicated and experienced educators have been made to feel like criminals when, in fact, the real felons are drafting absurd policies to evaluate how we are doing our jobs.  I’ve been a librarian for nearly twenty years and the measure of how well I do job is going to be based upon a test that I give students who want to check out a book or need research help?  How about that facility I manage?
  • I’m angry that 7 of the 12 charter schools in my district have closed, yet the governor has tied an increase in educational state aid to an increase in the number of charter schools permitted, along with the removal of limitations regarding how many such schools can be placed in a particular region.
  • I’m angry that other sitting New York State Democrats have not expressed their commitment to eliminating corruption and ridding our government of politicians who think that holding public office means that they are somehow above the law.
  • I’m angry that more people don’t vote.

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Filed under Albany, Education, News, Observations, politics, Rant

Medicine makes me sick

About a million years ago I worked for a medical practice in NYC. The doctors I worked with were incredibly hardworking, professional and compassionate. Coincidentally, at this very same time my brother was doing his residency in emergency medicine and he can also be accurately described with those very same adjectives. I miss those days.

Because of various medical issues and ailments I sometimes think I have a team of doctors. Well, I’d like to think that. In reality, I have a number of physicians who independently contribute to maintaining my health. You see, when I asked my cardiologist a number of years ago if she could speak directly with my endocrinologist regarding her concern with my Synthroid dosage, she quickly asserted that medicine no longer works that way. Apparently there isn’t time for doctors to discuss mutual patients.

Early last fall I phoned my primary care provider’s office to schedule my annual physical. They were able to fit me in approximately 3 months later. Weeks before the scheduled appointment I received a letter in the mail from them canceling my appointment and requesting that I phone to reschedule. Maybe their phones only receive calls? I mean, why didn’t they call me? I rescheduled for 6 weeks later, appreciative of the fact that my insurance, unlike so many others, isn’t dependent upon my reaching a certain dollar amount prior to kicking in. It would have really irritated me to have been financially penalized for their inability to honor an appointment made months in advance.

A couple of weeks ago, I received another letter from them. It contained my anticipated lab work order since my doctor’s office prefers to have the results available to discuss during our appointment. This time, though, there were some additional tasks to take care of in advance. It appears that now, to expedite the visit, I was being asked to complete an intake form indicating any recent surgeries, hospitalizations, prescription changes, etc and return it to their office at least two weeks ahead of my appointment. There wasn’t even a stamped envelope included.

Frankly, this request pushed me over the edge. Since I see a clinician (generally a nurse practitioner and not the same one consistently) at this practice approximately once a year, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for me to expect to update my medical history during my visit. You know, as a part of a conversation? I’ve been a patient of this medical practice for close to 20 years and I don’t think I’ve ever been less happy to entrust my sometimes complex medical history with anyone. I’m not complying with their request and I am keeping my eyes open for a new health care provider.

On a somewhat related note, my own brother has semi-retired, which means he resigned his position and no longer is practicing but has not fully committed to retirement yet.  He said he was tired of practicing medicine for insurance companies and attorneys.

All of this makes me sick.

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“No” doesn’t mean I don’t love you (at least not in my house)

image: beautyparties.weebly

While it may be early in the new year, I think we have a real contender for most ridiculous statement of 2015. Did you see the article in Saturday’s NYT about the day spas for children which are popping up around the country? Well, I’m not even going to address that topic because folks are free to spend their money however they like, but a statement made by a Colorado mother who treated her children to a day’s worth of pampering may just explain the sad state (and future) of our country. Ready? Here it is:

“I don’t want them to feel that my saying ‘no’ means that I don’t love them.”

Go ahead – read it again. Really?? Is that truly something that a parent fears? Are adults afraid to tell their children “no” because they are concerned that their child(ren) will somehow interpret denial as a lack of love? Please say it isn’t so.

When I say ‘no’ it means that I believe something isn’t possible, necessary or deserved. When I say ‘no’ it is often more difficult than simply saying “yes.” When I say “no” I do so because I believe it is the right thing in the long run. When I say “no” it most certainly does not mean that I don’t love you.

If the people in your life, children included, believe that the word “no” is an indication of a lack of love, no amount of beauty products or treatments will ever make that situation pretty.

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Filed under beauty, love, moms, News, Rant, relationships

I think the cops are watching me…

…and I’m okay with that. My usual running route is a 5-mile loop around New Scotland Avenue and Whitehall Road. Often I see a police cruiser drive past, usually more than once, and I always feel reassured by their presence. It’s comforting to know that there are police officers around observing the neighborhood and keeping an eye on things. This is what I expect from public safety officers.

Image of properly parked car: alloveralbany.com

Sunday night, following the Ray Lamontagne show at the Palace, my friend and I returned to her car which was parked on North Pearl Street. It had been a long day and we were both ready to head home. Unfortunately, we couldn’t simply get in the car and go because Chrissy’s car was double parked in its space. She leaned on the horn, hoping the other driver was nearby, but there was no response. We waited.

After about 5 minutes, during which time 2 police cars drove past, I called 911 to explain the problem. I know, I know, it wasn’t an emergency, but it did seem the fastest way to get some assistance especially since the drive-by cops weren’t responsive. The dispatcher was pleasant and said they’d look into the situation. We waited.

I got out of the car to look around, noticing there were 3 police vehicles parked slightly down the block behind us. I gave the car next to us a second look and realized it was probably an unmarked police car. Hmmm. Looking to the nearby storefronts, I spotted the glow of flashlights in a nearby (closed) business, Buddha Tea House. I went closer and peeked in the window. Yep, lots of cops. I knocked on the window and got the attention of an officer. At the same moment, the man who owned the car behind us arrived and quickly pulled out, enabling us to do the same.

Okay, I know being trapped in a parking space isn’t tragic. There certainly are worse things that can happen, like this for instance. Still, it bothers me that our law enforcement officers thoughtlessly inconvenience residents and visitors. If the situation were an obvious emergency one, fine, but that did not appear to be the case.

So, the cops are watching me and maybe I’m watching them.

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Local, musings, Rant

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