I Have a Gripe

March 13, 2017

Working through an “Emergency”

Filed under: General Annoyances,New Jersey,New York — alvb1227 @ 7:55 pm

So as the Northeast prepares for a late-winter blizzard, the discussion of “emergency” and what “non-essential personnel” really means.

Allow me to explain.

When the Governor gets on the television and tells everyone to “stay off the roads” and “only essential personnel” should be on the roads, what does that mean?

For the average person? Nothing.

Let me tell you the story of two managers.

The first manager I am going to tell you about would require everyone to work, regardless of the weather…on time. Then two hours after everyone would trudge in, he would let everyone leave only to have a harrowing ride home. The last time I did this when I worked at this particular company, the snow wasn’t plowed on the highway and it was up over the hood of my Jeep. I generally do not worry about driving, but that ride home terrified me. I truly hated this man. It was obvious he didn’t care about his employees.

The second manager I am going to tell you about worried about his employees. He used to tell us that it was up to us if we were comfortable driving in – and actually meant it! It wasn’t a “do what you think is best” passive-aggressive mind game. He would tell us to work from home. He didn’t want anyone to feel obligated to come in and wind up in an accident. He didn’t want it on his conscious. I didn’t fear for my job if I didn’t come in and as a result, I was happy and worked hard to do the best job I could!

So while the news reports tell you to say off the roads and the Governor has declared some type of emergency alert, remember that doesn’t protect you from your boss.

So I know it is hard, but resist the pressure and REALLY do what is best for you. Be safe. Remember, if you are on the road and need assistance, you put the lives of emergency staff in jeopardy. Be safe and help keep emergency staff safe as well!

September 11, 2016

15 Years Ago… Gone but not Forgotten

Filed under: New Jersey,New York,Shanksville,Terrorism,Washington D.C. — alvb1227 @ 4:13 pm
Tags: ,

Here we are again, fifteen years later. I sit and listen to the names, the memories from family members, and the music. It seems like it gets harder every year. I didn’t know anyone personally who lost their lives on that terrible day, but I feel like we all lost someone on that day. I feel like all the people lost became part of all our families. I was lucky, the father of one of my best friends from high school, who I have called “Papa Kane” since I was a young teenager, came home that day. He was my first thought after I heard what was

9-11-morrisplains

The 9-11 Memorial in Morris Plains, NJ that remembers two of our Cahners colleagues and the sister of a Cahners colleague.

happening. My other thought was for my two colleagues who were on a plane to Cleveland for business. As soon as we found their flight information and made sure they were safe, I immediately drove to the elementary school where my Momma Kane taught to be with her. I tried to get her to leave and come to my mother’s house, but she wouldn’t budge.

 

As I watch those who read the names, I am struck by all the children. I think about the generation that is growing up now who either weren’t old event to remember, or weren’t even born yet. For those of us who do remember, we are now entrusted with an important task; to help those children understand what happened that day and share our experiences.

When I was in high school and learning about the Vietnam War, one of our teachers invited in two veterans that were former students of Belleville High School. They told us stories and their experiences. I was struck by how different they viewed their service. One was proud. The other, I could still feel his anger. That time became real to me, rather than just facts in a history book. Maybe that’s what teachers should do today. Not talk about the politics of the time, but what we all felt and went through. Help make it a real event for the next generation instead of just facts in their textbooks.

9-11-memorial

My visit to the 9-11 Memorial in February, 2016.

In February, I went to Ground Zero for the first time since shortly after that terrible day. My Momma and Pappa Kane brought me to Ground Zero after The Pile became The Hole, shortly after Pope John Paul II came to visit and pray. I had been there countless times before the attacks, but it was hard to orient myself and imagine where the streets were and where the buildings stood. I saw the tower lights up close. It was overwhelming. I am forever grateful that they brought me to that sacred place so I could pray for those who didn’t come home and be thankful that Pappa did come home. The sheer size of the space the Memorial was overwhelming. While it sits in the middle of the city that  never sleeps, it is quiet there. People spoke in hushed tones and were caring and respectful.

 

I wonder what will happen as time marches on. Will the names stop being read? Every December 7th, I think about Pearl Harbor, but that generation is quickly leaving this world. We remember as Americans, but do we really remember? Will 9-11 face the same fate? I pray not. I pray we always remember. Not just the events of the day, but the people we lost and the people who came home.

July 2, 2016

Clean up!

Filed under: New Jersey,Outdoors — alvb1227 @ 1:54 am
Tags: , , , ,

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my state; the great state of New Jersey. I love it so much I even have a blog about how great New Jersey is! Unfortunately, I have a gripe today about those who do not take care of the outdoors in this great, and often misunderstood, state.

When I finish my day and get off Rt. 80, there’s a section of the road I take home that is nothing but a wooded area. It is where I mentally switch from work to home. I usually turn off the radio, open all the windows and enjoy what is around me. Sometimes I’ll see some deer or a bear cross. Unfortunately, a few days ago I saw this:

Trash-roadside

Rockaway, New Jersey

I was disgusted.

How could someone with a bunch of household trash think this was a good place to illegally dump!?

Sadly, I see this from time-to-time when my husband and I are out enjoying the great open spaces in New Jersey.

Cigarettes

Saxton Falls

I remember some time ago Cory Booker had someone pulled over for littering when the driver threw something out the window.

CoryBooker

I thought it was great!

When my husband and I give lectures about fly fishing, we always remind people to “carry in, carry out.” The sad truth is that when we speak with people who enjoy the outdoors, they already know to take care of their trash. People who hunt, fish, hike, bird watch, and more, understand the importance of protecting resources like our open spaces.

So I ask my readers to make sure to not toss their trash out the car window or leave cigarette butts behind at the local park. Do what I do and keep a few plastic bags in the car and if you see some garbage while out enjoying the day pick it up and put it in the right place.

We have only a limited amount of open space. I ask that everyone takes the time to take care of it!

Sign

April 24, 2016

The Absurdity of Eminent Domain

I hate eminent domain.

There, I said it. In my opinion, eminent domain is the exact opposite of what this country means. Shockingly, this is part of the Fifth Amendment which gives the state of federal government or by delegation to third parties to take control of private property, who will devote it to public or civic use with “just” compensation. While Thomas Jefferson rejected its inclusion completely, James Madison included a compromise of the idea.

The concept of eminent domain is actually a “carry over” from Jolly old England. Eminent domain is a younger ancestor of English property law. As a result, Madison chose instead to require compensation explicitly, and he used the term public use rather than public purpose, interest, benefit, or some other term in an effort to establish a narrower and more objective requirement than such alternative terms might require (Jones 2000, 290). This is a very different approach from the original English concept.

Still, I think it is, to use a generally English term, bloody rubbish.

I understand the importance of sacrificing for “the greater good.” However, the concept that a government can take someone’s property just makes my blood boil.

This affects people – individuals who have no way to fight the government.

Years ago I saw a film “Greetings from Asbury Park,” highlighting Angie Hampilos’ fight to keep her home of 50 years safe from waterfront re-developer Asbury Partners. She should’ve been living out her final years enjoying her life tending to her garden. Instead she and her niece fought against her home being bulldozed. Due to health reasons, Mrs. Hampilos sold her  beloved home to the city of Asbury Park in 2014. She passed away in June of 2015. This is not how her life should’ve ended. She should’ve been able to live out her years in the home she loved and leave that house to her family.

Currently, residents of Clifton and Little Falls, New jersey are fighting against an expansion of Rt. 46. The Genardi Family is losing part of their yard and pool to eminent domain. These life-long residents of Clifton have invested thousands to improve their home. Now, the second phase of the highway improvement project includes plans for a 12-foot sound wall that will cut out 21 feet of their property line and run straight through the center of their pool.

According to the plans, about 1,900 square feet of yard will be taken from the property’s 7,800-square-foot lot.

An independent appraisal of homes on Normandy Road that are being affected determined that none of the property owners would experience enough “damage” following the project’s completion to warrant the purchase of the homes themselves. NJDOT officials confirmed the majority of the Genardi’s back yard was acquired in 2012 and that the homeowner was compensated $175,000 for land required for construction purposes.

Not enough “damage?” Really?

So living 11 feet from a sound wall isn’t damaging? Forget that they had no choice about losing their property. The property they have invested in and have been raising their children. Yes, they were “compensated,” but who will ever want to buy a house that close to a sound barrier? Given the choice, I am sure they would prefer to have their home in tact than offered money for part of their property.

The Great Notch Inn of Little Falls, NJ has been affected by this project as well. A Jersey landmark, the business has lost approximately one-third of its property under eminent domain.

Is this America?

How can people fight this level of government control?

There are organizations that support those in the eminent domain fight. But it will take a thorough understanding of the law and lots of support.

If you are fighting against eminent domain, God’s speed.

January 27, 2014

The NEW JERSEY Super Bowl

I love football. And even though my team isn’t in it this year (they were robbed by bad calls in Seattle), I was looking forward to watching the game taking place in my home state. Note the use of the word “was.” My gripe? The fact is everyone from advertisers, to the news media to the NFL seems to have forgotten that the game is actually in New Jersey – not New York.

From the moment I saw the logo with “NY” listed first, I knew we were in for an uphill battle. The Verizon commercial deciding if Terry Bradshaw or the little girl will go to New York sent my blood pressure to the stratosphere. And as much as I love Bradshaw, I turned off the post-game activity the moment he asked about how Seattle feels about going to New York.

Um, you realize if they go to New York they will miss the game, right?

The teams are landing in NEW JERSEY.

The teams are staying in NEW JERSEY.

The game is being played in NEW JERSEY.

New York is shutting down Broadway for a huge NFL/Superbowl event. Meanwhile, the parties in New Jersey were denied use of the logo by NFL.

Seriously?

As expected, New York will gain the majority of the financial windfall that comes with hosting a Super Bowl, meanwhile, New Jersey will get stuck paying the bill for security and logistics. It reminds me of co-hosting a party where one person does all the work and the other person, just because he or she is an extrovert, gets all the credit. Meanwhile, you’re out a ton of money and are stuck cleaning vomit out of the carpet.

Just like Rodney Dangerfield often said, “no respect.”

December 8, 2013

Religious Music and Public Schools

When I was in elementary school, I loved how festive things were as we inched closer and closer to Christmas. Every class participated in decorating the school. I remember making “stained glass windows” in art class using black paper and brightly colored tissue paper. There were always two trees on either side of the stage. Each year one grade would put on a play of some sort and of course the concert.

Wow, have things changed…

Fast forward a few decades (not saying how many) and most auditoriums are bare. No trees or decorations. There was one principal I know of that would purchase poinsettia plants (using his own money, mind you) so there was something around the stage. After he retired? The stage was completely bare. Oh, and they are no longer called “Christmas concerts.” They are “holiday” or “winter” concerts.

To me, all these changes pale in comparison to the biggest issue in my opinion – the attempt to eliminate any religious music whatsoever from the concert.

When I went to high school, we ended every concert with the singing of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Once you graduated, you would be invited to join the chorus for the singing of the piece with the current students. I can’t imagine not having that experience either as a student or after I graduated.

More and more schools are asking music teachers to submit their program for review and approval. There is great concern by some that the concept of separation of church and state should include the elimination of all music with a reference to some type of religious reference. As I see it, there are two major issues related to this entire situation.

First, the separation of church and state today has been taken completely out of context. The original reason for this separation was to ensure the government does not endorse any specific religion. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Children playing and singing music with a religious tone does not count as an endorsement of a specific religion.

Second, just as religion is part of history, religious music is an important part of music history and education. Just like Handel’s Messiah and O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, these pieces have significant places in music and children should not just learn their words and music, but their histories.

As a result of the over-zealous attempt to eliminate this important genre of music from music programs across the country, organizations such as The American Center for Law and Justice have provided various documentation to help protect music teachers when planning their lessons and their concerts. Most music teachers I know keep a letter similar to the one linked here to protect their music programs. I also know of some districts where a letter like this is on file in their board office.

The fact that this needs to happen at all is amazing to me. When I first heard of issues such as these, it was in the South Orange/Maplewood, NJ School District. Since then, other towns have attempted to follow suit. Most have thankfully have lost. I remember a number of years ago when my husband was at doctor’s office he was asking him about his upcoming concert. He began to explain the situation just as many other teachers do, that he needs to produce his planned concert repertoire for approval. The doctor’s response? “That’s ridiculous. I was the little drummer boy for years in school and I wasn’t scarred for life.” This was in reference to his Jewish heritage. It made me laugh considering I had just recently read an article about how a Jewish man now in his 30’s said as a child he was incredibly uncomfortable with his experience as the little drummer boy as a child.

At the end of the day, all the festivities related to Christmas and Hanukkah should be celebrated as they have for generations. It is not an endorsement of a religion; it is an endorsement of valuing the importance of music education.

November 3, 2013

Conservation Area Fishing

Filed under: New Jersey,Outdoors — alvb1227 @ 9:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

Those of you who known me know I am a long-time fly angler and advocate of catch-and-release fishing. In New Jersey, less than five miles of the approximately 8,600 miles of streams and rivers are catch-and-release. I find that appalling and have long advocated for more conservation areas.

Well, New Jersey is finally listening.

New Jersey’s Fish and Game Council, and the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is proposing amendments to the 2014 – 2015 Fish Code. The proposed amendments include changes to conservation areas. The Big Flat Brook section to Roy Bridge currently has a liberal harvest limit of six trout with a minimum size of nine inches (yes, nine) from Opening Day to May 31 and four trout all other times.

Electrofishing surveys conducted during the summer of 2007, 2012 and 2013 indicate very few trout remaining by mid-summer. The low number of trout may be a result of one or more factors, including significant harvest by anglers and/or a variety of ecological conditions.

To determine the role harvest plays in limited trout availability, the Council proposes year round catch and release regulations for the 4.2 mile stretch, from the Route 206 stretch downstream to the Roy bridge. The regulations should result in an increase in trout abundance, improve catch rates, and ultimately enhanced angler satisfaction. As hooking mortality is higher with live bait than with artificial lures and flies, the possession or use of bait is proposed to be prohibited at all times. For similar reasons, artificially enhanced substances are also proposed to be prohibited. A 2012 Trout Angler Survey indicate that 11% of anglers who fish the first nine days of the season in the fly stretch use bait. The current gear restriction for fly fishing is also proposed to be amended to allow spin fishing and artificial lures and flies for the entire 4.2 mile stretch, including the Blewett Tract. The Division will continue to monitor the fisheries population in response to any regulatory change.

I just sent the follow comment to the state regarding the proposed change:

As a long-time angler of the Big Flatbook Roy Bridge region, I encourage the state to change the regulation to a year-round conservation area. I avoid the initial opening season time period as I find it quite crowded, but I have seen the number and size of fish anglers keep in that area and I am often appalled at how many and the size of fish are immediately taken from the region. As a result, there are very few fish left by the time I get to fish the area.

I have long advocated for more conservation areas in the state and always practice catch-and-release. There are very few conservation areas in the state as compared to the total number of miles of water available for fishing. As a result,I feel this change in regulation would not negatively impact those who practice catch-and-keep fishing. Additionally, I would like to see the state consider raising the minimum fish harvesting size to a minimum of 12 inches as opposed to the current nine. A nine inch fish provides very little meat. I see no reason why this shouldn’t be changed.

While I am a member of the East Jersey Chapter of Trout Unlimited, my opinion in no way has anything to do with my association. I have long advocated these positions far prior to my membership with TU.

I hope you will take my comments into consideration prior to making your final decision.

Respectfully,
Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten
Fly Angler and Catch-and-Release Angler

If you are an angler in New Jersey and would like to see more conservation areas, I encourage you to submit your comments to: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/news/2013/fishcode_proposal.htm by November 15th.

 

 

 

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 11, 2012

September 11th – 11 Years Later

Filed under: New Jersey,New York,Politics,Security,Terrorism — alvb1227 @ 1:58 am
Tags: , , ,

Tomorrow is the 11th anniversary of the day that changed America. Last year, on the 10th anniversary, the New York City memorial opened. It was an amazing structure and a beautiful way to remember so many on such a heart breaking day.

Well, since then, many have equated the memorial to an amusement park. People have been seen leaving their Starbucks cups, letting their children throw stuff in the reflecting pool, and my personal favorite, seating toddlers on top of the plaques holding the names of the fallen. To me that is like someone standing on a headstone in a cemetery. While I am sure this poor behavior is a minority, I think it is important for visitors to remember this isn’t a tourist spot. It is where 3,000 lost their lives and to treat it with the proper respect it deserves.

I think it is also important that during this year’s ceremonies politicians aren’t going to speak. I believe these events shouldn’t be politicized. No matter what a person’s political affiliation, this is an American event. Politics should stay out of it. When Usama Bin Laden was killed and the President, the New York and New Jersey Governors, and the New York City Mayor went to lay a wreath at the memorial, before the event began, and I am sure they didn’t know they were on camera, they were laughing and joking. The moment they realized they were on camera, they became serious. It left me feeling icky.

Many worry – and I am one of them – that as time progresses and people move forward, people may forget. I hope that isn’t the case. The moment we start to forget, the dragon goes back to sleep and we are vulnerable.

I pray we never forget.

 

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: