Newbies need not apply

30 11 2009

I’ve always gotten a kick out of sentiments that people who haven’t lived their entire lives within a 2-foot radius of their birthplace for 68 years have no right to say anything about the community they live in now.
I am not a native of this area. In fact, the first time I had ever even heard of Amsterdam was during a track meet my junior year of high school.
I didn’t even know the Great Sacandaga Lake, Northville or Fulton County even existed until I met the beautiful temptress who eventually became my wife (Northville High School, class of 1991).
But I found this piece of earth. I liked it. In fact, I moved here, and lived in the general area (mosty in Broadalbin) for more than a decade when for some reason, we decided to leave.
But after two years in the Southern Tier (Corning to be exact) and two years in the South (Kinston, North Carolina), we wanted back in.
Why? Because I, and my wife and children, like it here.
But what kills me is that so-called “lifers” will complain that people who haven’t live their lives here are speaking out about what they want their community to look like.
Why is their opinion invalid?
The “lifers” seems to be stuck on how things used to be, and they want their communities to go back to way back when.
However, there’s a reason why “newbies” are moving and settling in around here. And these “newbies” are trying to get involved with their communties, running and getting elected to local offices.
Maybe it’s time to stop dimissing the voices of the “newbies” and start realizing that we’ve moved into the area, and are seeking to get involved, for all the right reasons.
Granted, having a knowledge of local history is important. Knowing the so-called rules of the game, who the players are, what or what not will be embraced by the community are all important, and should not be ignored.
And the “newbies” shouldn’t discount those who know local history and “how things work.” In fact, they should embrace that knowledge.
But I also think it’s time for these so-called “lifers” to understand that there is a group of civic-minded “youngsters” who have arrived and are simply looking to make their communities the best they can be.

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This is how we do it …

30 11 2009

No need to gloat too much over Sunday’s Bills’ butt-whupping of the Miami Dolphins. I do want to say that I may simply start caring about the outcome of any game when I go to 1 Bills Drive. I haven’t had this much fun at a Bills game since 2002 when the Bills beat the Dolphins in a blizzard.
The crappy cell phone camera picture you see above is at a post-game parking lot party. Nothing says “yay, we won!” like setting furniture on fire.





Has a new contender emerged?

28 11 2009

Obviously, the major goal of running a blog is doing what you’ve got to do to get page views. That’s what it’s all about.
This week, another local blog has popped up, called Amsterdam Revealed.
Allegedly, it’s run by a female who’s lived in the city for 10 years. But since the blog is run anonymously, who knows?
Anyhoo, I found THIS POSTING particularly entertaining because it starts with a pros-and-cons critique of the city’s elected (or appointed) officals before tossing in a couple of people who don’t serve the city in any official capacity but are very vocal in local affairs.
I’ve linked to the blog on the right column, and it’ll be interesting, if not entertaining, to see what kind of voice this blog will have and what direction it will take.





The Bills make me want to … ah, who cares?

28 11 2009

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a true-blue, die-hard, “Jeepers Crimey that was a FORWARD PASS” fan of the Buffalo Bills.
But for the first time in my life, I’ll be heading to 1 Bills Drive this Sunday not caring if they win or lose. And I think I’m a happier person because of it.
I haven’t missed going to at least one Bills home game a year in Orchard Park since 1992, culminating in 2005 when I went to six of the team’s eight home games.
Even in the two years that I lived in North Carolina, I managed to make it back north of Mason-Dixon line to be among the Buffalo faithful.
Over the years, I’ve stuck with this team through the years when they went 2-14, 2-14 and 4-12 over a three-year stretch. Hey, at least in 1986 they doubled their win total from the previous year.
I stuck by them when Ronnie Harmon dropped an easy touchdown in 1989, enabling the Cleveland Freaking Browns to win that playoff game.
I stuck by them after wide right in their first Super Bowl. Thurman Thomas misplacing his helment in the second. Being completely pimp-slapped in the third. Falling apart one play at a time in the second half of their fourth-straight Super Bowl after they actually had the lead at halftime.
Watching the team in turmoil during the whole Doug Flutie-Rob Johnson controversy, capped off by the Immaculate Deception (aka The Music City Miracle (barf)). Starting a season with a 31-0 win over the Patriots, only to lose to the Patriots in the last game of the season, 31-0. Making Dallas commit six turnovers, only to lose the game in front of a national audience. Losing to the Cleveland Freaking Browns the next year on Monday Night Football.
Fourth and stupid. J.P. Losman. Trent Edwards, Gregg Williams. Dick Jauron.
Losing 6-3 to the Cleveland Freaking Browns. At home. When their starting quarterback went 2 for 17 for 23 yards and a pick. For the entire game.
Where’s Jim Jones and a pitcher of Kool-Aid when you need him?
Still, up to this point, for each Bills game I’ve attended or watched on TV, I’ve gone in with a glimmer of hope that says “this is where we turn things around.” I’ve gone in completely convinced that MY team will be the superior one on the field.
Not this time. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be there clad in my Brian Moorman jersey (that’s right, the punter) whooping it up with the rest of them.
But win or lose? Who cares?
Not me.
This time, it’s all about the game day experience. It’s about the tailgate in the parking lot. It’s about simply going to see an NFL game, hoping that a good football game breaks out, but not caring if it’s a dud at the same time.
It’s about the kids walking along the rows in the lot selling overpriced candy bars so their tinymight hockey team can get sweaters that don’t look like they were made by 6-year-old Honduran kids after a hard night of drinking. It’s about the scalpers who walk behind them trying to convince you to pay $100 for a 50-yard, field-level seat while brandishing a ticket that looks like it was made of construction paper or for some reason looks like a decorated graham cracker.
It’s about the long-haired Canadian wearing nothing but Daisy Dukes and a hard hat drinking beer funnels from the top of a converted school bus (a short bus, by the way, and believe me, the irony of that isn’t lost on me) while shaking his (Canadian) bacon to CC & the Music Factory.
It’s about the random Bills fan jumping in your face screaming “Let’s Go Buffalo,” and me screaming back “Hopefully not to Los Angeles.”
It’s about the smells of the various linked meats cooking over grills. Vendors selling programs. A 65-year-old man accidentally peeing on your shoe and then yelling at you for not moving your foot.
It’s about Horseballs. It’s about Washers. It’s about parking lot bowling, complete with bumpers (we actually did that one year, and I don’t want to know how my cousin obtained them).
It’s all about being there. If the Bills lose, who cares? No one expects them to anyway, nor should they.
I still wouldn’t miss it for the world.





Separating my lives

27 11 2009

I knew when I restarted Krab-cakes and Football, it would be next to impossible to separate my voice here, which is simply Charlie Kraebel being Charlie Kraebel, from Charlie Kraebel, the news editor of a local paper.
But, with every problem comes a solution, so here it is.
After discussing the matter over with the so-called “powers that be” at my present place of employment, we’ve decided to launch a blog that falls under the umbrella of the paper and is solely meant to “raise the bar” when it comes to discussion of local issues.
Enter The Venner Vox, which you can view by clicking HERE or by clicking the link provided on the right-hand side of the page.
It’s not a blog intended to give me free reign to sound off on stories covered by the paper. Instead, it’s intended to give the community another avenue in which they can discuss local issues.
However, the blog is not intended to be a free-for-all, so make sure you read the RULES page before you jump into the fray.
Here’s hoping that you get on board, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Krab-cakes and Football will not, by any stretch of the imagination, stray too much from the local (although the wrestling and examples of state and national idiocy will also continue to reside here), but the discussions about stuff covered in the Recorder will likely take place on that site.

For the most part …





Giving thanks

26 11 2009

(Warning lots of sap ahead)
A lot of people take the time on Thanksgiving to reflect on the various blessings and good things they have in their lives.
I’m spending this Thanksgiving thanking God for the butt-whooping he’s given me in 2009.
I won’t lie to you … 2009 has been a tough year for me. Some of the struggles might seem minor compared to some, but there have been challenges all over the place.
There have been two biggies that really threw me for a loop, but I’d like to think I came out of them a stronger person, and dare I say a better person.
The first was my son’s suicide attempt earlier this year brought on by a constant stream of bullying and abuse that largely went unnoticed and unreported for months before it came to that.
I couldn’t believe it when I was forced to deal with it. Aside from the obvious feelings of being crushed and hurt and worried for my boy, I also could relate to what he was going through.
You see, I have two suicide attempts under my belt as well. Both of them happened at ages not much older than my son.
The blessing that came out of this ordeal is that not only am I a dad who would walk barefoot through the very fires of hell to pull my boy out of his darkest moment, as most fathers would do, but I could truly look my son in the eye and say “I know how you feel.”
And those wouldn’t be empty words, because I truly can imagine how he felt. I could relate. I could connect.
And he can connect and relate with me. And for that, I am truly blessed because not only do I get to be the dad to my son that will always be Zeus, but I’m the imperfect dad who can learn as much from my son as he can learn from me.
Me being there for my son didn’t just help him become a stronger person.
It helped me be a better person, and a better father to my daughters who are truly the apples of my eye, and to a better husband to my wife, who has been my rock and best friend in more ways (not the Quagmire way, you pervs!) than you can imagine.
The other visit to God’s woodshed happened just a few months ago.
I found myself on a hospital bed with all sorts of tubes and montiors after experiencing the worst chest pains I’ve ever had in my life. In fact, my wife and I rolled into the hospital thinking I was in the midst of a heart attack.
At the ripe old age of 35.
I remember it was about 2 in the morning, and there I was, awake after the vampires nursing staff took the umpteenth vial of blood, looking up at the sterile, impersonal ceiling telling God, “OK you wanted my attention, you’ve got it.”
As it turns out, it had nothing to do with the ticker, but with the fact that I’d pumped way too much crap into my system in the form of processed meat products, cheese, grease, malt and grain-based beverages and what have you that my innards were having a tough time handling it all.
I’d forgotten that I’m not forever stuck at 22, the invincible age. I never bothered to think that continuing to live like I was 22 meant I’d be dead by 42.
It was the wake-up alarm that I couldn’t risk hitting the snooze button on.
I won’t say I’ve been perfect since that day, but I have said goodbye to 20 pounds since then, and even though I’ve kind of leveled off and have cheated from time to time, and I know I’m on the right path and will eventually get to where I need to be.

It’s because of these struggles and challenges that I’m thankful. A lot of people like to use this time to focus on the good in their lives, and that’s OK, because I think all of us should realize that not everything is as horrible as others would like you to believe it is.
But for me, I’m focusing on two very bad experiences, because out of those tough times, I think God has helped me become a wiser man, a smarter man, and a better man. Lessons that have not only helped me do better for me, but to do better for those who depend on me.

And for that, I’m thankful.





Do it for mom and pop

25 11 2009

So, my least favorite day of the year, Black Friday, is coming up.
Overzealous shoppers re-enacting the Battle of Shiloh over the last Tickle-Me-Elmo while coming out of post-Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing hangovers is not my idea of a good time. In fact, I think I’d rather attend a seminar on alternative power sources for the hospital food service industry while semi-trained rhesus monkeys jab forks into my sides for eight hours than go anywhere near a commercial shopping center the day after Thanksgiving.
However, if you simply have to go out and shop on this day, I’d like to encourage you to consider locally owned and operated businesses.
A short while ago, I went ga-ga over an effort to keep local dollars local. The cause is called the 350 project, and it’s there to tell you why spending your local dollars on local businesses will serve your local community in the long run.
So here’s what I’m going to do. In this thread, I’m going to allow local businesses, particularly in Fulton and Montgomery counties but I’m willing to include Saratoga and Schenectady counties, to advertise what they’ve got going on for the holiday season.
Here’s the deal. You must be a locally-owned business and employ local people. You can’t be a part of any franchise or national chain. You business must have started locally, and it must operate locally. Basically, the definitions of an “independent” business, as defined by The 350 Project, apply here.
As long as you meet these guidelines, feel free to list your holiday shopping season deals here. I’d rather see the dollars spent here stay here.

NOTE: Also remember that this blog only reaches a limited audience, so please remember to advertise in your local paper, too 🙂 )