Category Archives: Rant

Pay attention

On more than one occasion, I’ve listened to people complain about how much money teachers get paid. Maybe you’ve been part of such a conversation – it usually involves noting the short work day teachers enjoy, the health insurance and other benefits they’re given, and the excellent calendar which allows me them to have summers and holidays off. I’m familiar with the litany of complaints about teachers, even without the governor leading the chorus, thank you very much. I have a Master’s Degree along with nearly 20 years in the field and I just broke the $60,000 mark last year. Does that really sound excessive?

There have been a couple of things I’ve read or seen recently that make me a little insane when it comes to income or salary. For instance, the 14 wealthiest Americans increased their net worth in the last two years by $157 billion. That increase is equal to the entire holdings of the bottom 40% of Americans. Does that even seem right?

Did you know that Disney CEO Robert Iger made almost $44 million last year? The median salary for Disney workers is less than $20,000 a year, but I’m sure that he does 2,238 times more work than everyone else, right? How is this ok?

I’d love to share the income of one of our local billionaires, George R. Hearst III, but since his family business is privately held, that figure is impossible to determine without a subpoena or peek at his tax returns.  Suffice it to say, his family’s worth is estimated to be in the area of about $35 billion.  And, yes, this is the same guy/corporation that hasn’t given their local employees toiling away at the Albany Times Union a raise in more than 7 years.  Really??

I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand why a small percentage of our population holds such a disproportionately large share of the wealth.  How much do they need?  How can anyone justify a CEO-to-worker compensation ratio (in 2013) of to 295.9-to-1?   All I can say is Bernie Sanders.  Enough.

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Filed under Education, politics, Rant

No safe harbor – Mariner’s Harbor, Kingston

imageYou’ve probably considered at least once what defines a restaurant experience as a positive one. Was it the menu? The presentation of the plates? The value? Maybe location or ambience? Or was it the service and attention to detail? While we all may have personal opinions about which components of dining out are most significance, I’m here to provide you with an example of the incredible importance of having an educated, competent and polite front of the house staff.

Last night I met my girlfriends for a dinner in Kingston’s Rondout district. Post-dinner we decided to find a place for an after dinner drink and found ourselves at a well established place none of us had ever ventured in before – Mariner’s Harbor. It was about 8:15 when we arrived and, after consulting with the accommodating hostess, we elected to take a high-top table at the bar where we would be able to enjoy our drinks after ordering and purchasing them at the bar. This is where things got bizarre…

I asked the young bartender if she had port. She looked puzzled. I asked again this time adding the word “tawny” as if that was going to get me somewhere. She shook her head with confusion. I spelled P-O-R-T and explained what it was to no avail. Realizing the futility of my quest, I asked for a wine/drink list. That, at least, she was able to provide.

My friends ordered a couple of cappuccinos and a Sambuca while I came to terms with the limitations of the list I had been handed. I asked if maybe they might have specialty coffees or cordials. Her eyes lit up with a glimmer of life and she dashed away to retrieve a different version of the wine list. Or so it seemed. In actuality, it was the very same offerings I had previously perused, only this time they were in a more elegantly bound list. Sigh.

I stepped away from the bar and asked my friend to order a sombrero for me, explaining that it was Kahlua and milk. The bartender apparently went right to work searching for guidance as to how to make a sombrero. When my friend, Lisa, interrupted her research and described the drink’s ingredients, she was rewarded with a muttered “Why didn’t you just say ‘Kahlua and milk?'” Um, I don’t know. I wouldn’t order a vodka and o.j., I’d order a screwdriver, right? Was it really unreasonable for me to order a drink by its proper name?

My friends and I moved on from our head shaking about the attitude and incompetence at the bar and spent some time visiting. At about 9:00, Virginia and I decided to hit the bathroom before hitting the road. When we approached the bathroom (which was directly across from the kitchen doorway) there seemed to be a crisis of sorts. It appeared that a number of servers had been congregating and then subsequently disbursed at our approach. Kind of like cockroaches when a light goes on.

We entered the bathroom where we were immediately confronted by the sight of a woman vomiting in the sink. She was being consoled by a friend and reassured that she was just fine. I beg to differ. It is not “just fine” to vomit in the (only!) sink of a public bathroom. If you’re sick (or have been over served) and vomiting is unavoidable, the spacious stall would be the more appropriate venue for your regurgitations.

During the few minutes we were in the bathroom, taking turns with one of the two stalls since the other stall was occupied by a server, as evidenced by her black apron on the stall floor, no employees addressed the situation. For all we know, that woman is still prone in the sink, thong exposed and mumbling. We won’t be back to check. Ever.

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, friends, Rant, road trips, Uncategorized, upstate New York

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