I Have a Gripe

September 27, 2013

What Ever Happened to Loyalty?

Filed under: Celebrity,Economy,General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 1:38 am
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“I’m just enjoying being here, and I’m going to enjoy the last day, being here with all these guys. Nobody said I’m leaving; nobody said I’m staying. I haven’t decided anything yet.” ~Robinson Cano

I have enjoyed watching sports since I was a kid. Whether it was football on Sunday or sitting with my Uncle Sonny on Saturdays as we ate the olives that were supposed to be for Sunday’s salad while we watched baseball. But I really can’t believe what professional sports is now.

I grew up watching Bradshaw play for the Steelers and Mattingly play for the Yankees. They played for the same teams their entire careers. They believed in loyalty and fans rooted for a team and typical working-class people could actually afford to go to a game or two during the season.

Fast forward to today…

Now, there are mega-stadiums with ticket prices that are just beyond reality. Tickets for a NY Giants game run from $110 to a ridiculous $725 and the cost to just park your car starts at $30. And why not? You have professional sports players like Robinson Cano of the Yankees expecting a $305 million for a 10-year deal, and if the Yankees don’t cough it up, he’ll just go somewhere else. Period.

Um, any of these guys ever hear of loyalty?

My husband and I will on occasion watch a Yankees game and always discuss how many empty seats there are behind home plate.

Now the capitalist in me says that they should  be able to charge what they want for tickets and players’ salaries should be based on what teams are willing to pay. But I have to say this is just so beyond reality it is offensive.

A large number of these guys can barely put two sentences together intelligently and speak like they have marbles in their mouth. In the football off season this year NFL players were arrested or charged with crimes at least 37 times, including 10 players accused of driving drunk and a murder indictment for ex-New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, according to an article in USA Today.

Way to be good role models guys.

My beloved state will play host to the Super Bowl this season. I really wanted to get tickets figuring this is the closest I will ever get to see one in person. Do you know how much it will cost for nosebleeds? $3,000! So much for going to the game.

What happened to fathers taking their sons to a baseball game?  Can anyone afford this any more? I am guessing this is why minor league ball is becoming so popular. People can actually afford the prices.

There are lessons that can be learned from sports – being a good winner, a gracious loser, teamwork, fair play, work ethic, the list could easily go on. Unfortunately, all too many players today are about greed, excessive lifestyles, a lack of education, and a complete lack of respect for the law.

Oh yeah, and a lack of loyalty.

Like I said, way to be good roles models guys.

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September 14, 2013

We are Still Jersey Strong

“I Feel Like I Want To Throw Up” ~Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey

Gov. Christie said pretty much what many of us were saying on Facebook on Thursday. As I watched the coverage of the Seaside fire on the WABC website, I felt physically ill. All the work those businesses did to come back after the unthinkable damage from Sandy – most of it literally went up in smoke. Over 400 firefighters reported to Seaside Park and Seaside Heights to fight this unbelievable 10-alarm fire. It is a true miracle no one was killed or seriously injured.

 The Carousel Arcade

The Carousel from The Carousel Arcade in Seaside. Sadly, it was destroyed in the fire. (from the Facebook page of The Carousel Arcade)

Anyone who lives in Jersey knows summer down the shore is a right of passage as a teenager. As couples get married and have children, they head down to walk the boardwalk with the next generation and that right of passage continues. My day down the shore would always end heading south down the boardwalk. After playing skee ball at Lucky Leo’s, I would make sure to have a cheese steak and lemonade at The Midway, I walk down and play the wheel at the Union Jack, continue down the boardwalk to ride the antique carousel, and enjoy an orange creme cone from Kohr’s. Maybe hit the raw bar under the Log Flume or hang out at The Saw Mill. Then on the way out I would hit Berkeley Sweet Shop to get salt water taffy for Grandma.

It is all gone.

Just as all these businesses started to get back on their feet after Sandy, they are hit hard again.  How much can these business owners take?

Of course in Jersey’s typical dark humor, I heard people say we are being punished for allowing that nightmare of a television show “Jersey Shore” exist. There are some that wonder if it was intentionally set and it just got out of control.

No matter what, I think these business owners need time to take a breath, be allowed back into their location

Funtown Fire

Photo: WABC News

(they haven’t been allowed in yet), see what their options are, and consult with their families.

Michael Carbone, owner of The Beachcomber who had to be dragged out after trying to protect his place by fire fighters, is absolutely determined to rebuild. Others, may be too beaten down.No matter what they decide, they will definitely have the support of everyone who have made memories down the shore.

But you know what? We are Jersey Strong. And we’ll rally like we always do and we’ll be back.

September 11, 2013

Are we Forgetting?

Filed under: New Jersey,New York,Terrorism — alvb1227 @ 8:00 am
Tags: , ,

As we as a nation face another anniversary of 9-11, I have an overwhelming feeling of sadness and worry. And unlike previous years, they go hand-in-hand for a different reason. I worry that we are forgetting and that makes me incredibly sad.

Living in north Jersey and having seen the smoke rise from the pile, I remember every previous year there was a lot of coverage leading up to the anniversary. This year? I have hardly seen anything about planned events or how they will be covered on the news. I hate going to work on 9-11. I would much rather stay home and watch the coverage on television or go to a local memorial service. I am sure just like many others, I play that day’s events over and over in my mind.

I first heard about it from a confused report on 104.3 as I was just reaching my office that there was some kind of “fire or accident at the World Trade Center.” By the time I parked the car, made it inside, and launched the Internet, I saw a still of the second plane just before it crashed into the South Tower. My head was full of confusion and stunned silence.

The President of our division came over the PA system and said “it is obvious something is going on today, if anyone needs to leave, just go.” I immediately thought of two colleagues who were flying out of Newark that morning. We all scrambled to find their flight information and find out if they were safe.

The Internet was painfully slow and we had no television access. I went up to the local Radio Shack to see if I could get some cables to rig up a local television channel. No luck. We drove up the hill from my office to see if we could see anything. I was stunned by the amount of smoke you could see all the way to Morris Plains, NJ. We went back to the office and I called my mother and she held the phone up to the television. I put my office phone on speaker and people crowded into my cube to listen. I suddenly thought of my best friend from high school. Her father worked at the WTC. Her mother was a teacher in my hometown. I could feel the blood drain from my face. I asked my mother if she heard anything yet and she said no. I grabbed my purse, ran up to the division president’s office. Gave him my colleague’s flight information, told him no one had heard from my friend’s father and that I was leaving for the day.

9-11 memorial

Plaque from the Reed Business Information 9-11 Memorial, Morris Plains, New Jersey

I drove straight to the school where my friend’s mother worked. When I approached the school and rang the bell, I heard the familiar voice of the principal. I told him that it was me and who I was there to see. He buzzed me in and I ran to his office. I found my friend’s mother clutching a paper plate with a phone number scribbled across it. I knelt down next to her and asked how she was doing. She looked truly frightened. I will never forget the look on her face. She just said “this is where he is supposed to be today, but there’s no answer.” I asked her to come to my house and sit with my mother, but she didn’t want to leave. The principal also suggested she go with me, but she refused. I just went home and sat in stunned silence. I really didn’t know what to do.

Well, thankfully for us, my two colleagues and my friend’s father were all safe. But that wasn’t the case for two employees from a different division and the sister of a colleague. They all perished at the WTC site.

I remember every minute of that day. I play it in my head like a video. And I am sure I am not the only one. Sadness doesn’t even describe…

But I am also worried.

I am worried as time passes, the dragon will once again return to slumber. I worry that the politics related to this horrific event are beginning to overshadow the event itself. And what truly disgusts me is that there are some trying to profit from it – like a golf course in Wisconsin.

Does the “Day of Service” help us remember? I honestly don’t know. I understand the idea behind it, but I am not sure about the correlation between thousands of innocent civilians being murdered with cleaning up a local park. Maybe I am looking for something too deep or something that just isn’t there.

I pray we never forget.

I have a friend who is working with her small band of loyal New Jerseyans to identify and clean up small cemeteries where Revolutionary War Veterans are buried. Over the hundreds of years since their sacrifice, their final resting places have often become overgrown, forgotten, and lost to time. That is, until she found them and reminded everyone of their sacrifice.

I hope the memory of that horrible day and those souls that were lost do not become forgotten like an overgrown cemetery.

September 6, 2013

Schools “Under Pressure”

Filed under: Education,General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 12:46 am
Tags: , , ,

Just like many stores, Target has been running a “back to school” ad campaign. They are all set to popular music seemingly played by a bad elementary school band. While they are cute commercials, sort of, I find them incredibly frustrating.

You see, for those of you who read my blog regularly, know that I have very strong feelings about the arts and music in public schools. I am the person I am in due in large part to the music program in my school system. And while some of you may not think that is so great, I do. The music department helped me with confidence and I found a place where I was comfortable.

Now? Well, thanks to the constant barrage of required testing, the arts and music are “under pressure” and getting kicked out of school in many places. That is an absolute travesty.

I wonder if Target realized the irony.

September 4, 2013

The Nuances of Syria

Anyone who knows me knows I do not do subtle. I am about as subtle as a truck. I am guessing this is why I am so confused by all the nuances of the Syrian issue that has hit a boiling point this week.

Anyone with a brain knows what al-Assad has done to his own people is reprehensible. And I think as Americans we will always side with those seeking freedom. I once heard the comment “freedom from tyranny is in the DNA of Americans.” I would say that pretty much hits the nail on the head.

I also think after Iraq and Afghanistan, we have learned the importance of avoiding “mission creep” and having an end-game and goals in mind at the beginning of any campaign.

This is where my confusion starts.

If we stick our nose in Syria’s issues – essential a civil war – what is our goal? Is it to take out al-Assad? Is it nation building? If the answer is “yes” than I suggest you take a good look at Egypt and see what that got us. Utter chaos.

In my opinion, this has been handled poorly from the get-go. The moment President Obama went off the teleprompter and made an off-the-cuff comment about crossing a “red line” we as a nation basically dared this guy to go batty. Well, mission accomplished.

Then our President has all kinds of tough talk about “going it alone” and then he once again changes course and asks for Congressional approval. Even the UK isn’t touching this one. Don’t sweat it though – France is going to cover us. Um, what? France??? Seriously?

Again, confusion for me.

Then we have Israel. The one staunch ally we have in that part of the world, which I am honestly stunned they still stand by us. How can Obama continue to treat Israel they way he does while trying to suck up to the rest of the Middle East, which basically wants to blow them off the face of the map? If we strike Syria, does this bug Iran enough to hit Israel? I swear, following this mess is worse than the plot of a daytime soap.

On the way home from work yesterday I listened to the debate between Senator Rand Paul and Secretary John Kerry and was thankful that the Senator was hitting on a lot of the questions that have been rolling around in my head. After all that, however, I still had no idea what the right answer should be for this cluster. And while I love that our issues are debated for our citizens  in public, I am sure our enemies are watching us and laughing. We are basically giving them the playbook before we hit the launch button. I’m sorry, but if you have to really define “declaration of war” versus “military action,” versus “isolated strike,” I feel like we are going down the road of Korea again. Remember, that was a “police action.”

While I am pleased he decided to seek Congressional approval, as I thought he kind of needed approval, I have learned since he has Constitutional authority to take action. He seems to take action on plenty of things that he shouldn’t, so why the hesitancy now? I believe it gives him an easy out to not act and blame Congress for something else. I mean, right now Congressional approval and likeability is somewhere around the same level as used car salesmen and lawyers, so it makes a nay vote makes it easy for him personally to back down. But there’s more to it than that.

Again, more nuances.

To my understanding, we can’t actually bomb chemical weapons because all it will do is disperse them into the air potentially killing even more people. If we provide weapons to “the resistance,” who are they exactly? Anyone remember the Afghan “freedom fighters” of the 1980’s? Fast forward a few decades and you will quickly remember.

The President also keeps saying that Syria won’t be another Iraq or Afghanistan. How do we know? Again, what will a “strike” get us? We are being told there won’t be any “boots on the ground.” Wait, weren’t we told that about Pakistan? Oh yeah, that was never made official. This whole thing screams powder keg. Do we really want to put more of our military into situations where they can’t tell who the enemy really is?

According to Einstein the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. After looking at Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, and more, this definitely seems like the textbook definition of insanity to me.

So now we sit and watch the political theater that is Washington. See why I’m confused?

Welcome to a nation of nuances.

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