Why so unhappy?

23 02 2010

One of the things that I get a kick out of is listening to people who cannot, and will not, find anything positive about their lives.
Actually, it makes me want to pull my hair out.
I’ll admit, I’m a local news junkie, which is why I spend some Tuesday nights watching Amsterdam Common Council meetings on TV, watching other public access TV shows (when they’re actually on), and listening to local radio call-in talk shows.
Professionally, I tune in so I can get a better grip on what’s going on and what’s on people’s minds. Personally, I think the participants and hosts have one common theme:
Everything sucks. There’s nothing good about my life. There’s nothing good about the community I live in. And it’s all everyone else’s fault.
Really? If that’s the case, then I have a couple of questions for you people who think everything is so terrible.
Did you wake up this morning in a warm bed? Did you wake up wondering if you will eat today? Can you take a crap in a toilet that flushes?
Look, I get the concern about high taxes. I get it. It’s a problem, and one that has to be addressed.
I get the concerns about the migration of people from New York to other states. This isn’t a business-friendly or people-friendly state.
But it’s not all bad, although there are people out there who would like you to think it is. So I have to ask, why?
Easy. Here’s why I think so many people are so negative all the time:
1. They want things to go back to the way they were. Here’s a newsflash, they won’t. The mills and factories are not coming back to upstate New York. The people who were able to hold power during those times won’t hold that kind of power again because they’re either dead, too old, or so out of touch that they sound clueless when they publicly rant and rave about how things suck.
2. They fear change. They’re afraid of the fact that there are non-whites living in their community, or that the “good ol’ boys” aren’t running things, so their racist and sexist tendencies come out. Case in point: A former Montgomery County supervisor said the mayor of Amsterdam, who happens to be a woman, said she should “go back into the kitchen where she belongs.” Whenever the subject of public benefits and welfare pop up, all we hear about is “the Spanish,” except I didn’t realize Spain was the largest source of immigrants in this area. They probably mean Hispanics, but the fact that the naysayers can’t even get the nationality right shows their pure ignorance and stupidity.
What kills me the most is that there are media outlets that not only provide a forum that allows these types of sentiments to be spewed, they, in fact, encourage it.
3. They don’t want to get involved. A lot of these naysayers use various forums to bitch and moan about how things are so terrible, but ask them to get involved, and they won’t. In fact, most of them won’t even use their real names when they participate in online forums, and nearly every bitchy caller on local talk shows is allowed to keep their anonymity.
That’s because it’s easier to stand on the sidelines and gripe instead of getting in the game and making a contribution.

Is it any wonder that New York state is considered to be one of the most miserable states to live in?
Look, conditions in this state are not ideal. I understand that. People pay a lot of taxes and get little in return.
But it’s not that bad of a place to live and raise a family. Instead of constantly griping about how much things suck, how about offering solutions to make things better?

Or would asking you to think be too much for you to handle?


Grinding my gears

1 12 2009

I realize I just got done writing about how I liked this little piece of New York state, because I really do, but there are times when I wonder why I didn’t just stay away when I had the chance.
Since I’ve started buying cars, I’ve usually gotten them from dealers, who take care of all the papercrapwork that needs to be filed with the state Department of Maniacal Vultures Motor Vehicles, so I’ve never had much dealings with them outside of renewing registrations and licenses.
Earlier this year, I bought a truck in what was a private transaction, so I got a little taste of all the fees the state charges just to get a buggy on the road (filling out the paperwork? $5 pen fee. waiting in line? $3.50 occupation of state/county office space fee. adding personal effects to your vehcle. $9 plastic Jesus fee).
Sadly, this truck was to be short-lived, mainly because the transmission went and I wasn’t about to spend $1,100 in repairs on a tank I paid $1,200 for.
In order to get said vehicle off my insurance (I’ve since sold the truck), I have to surrender my plates, so I went to do so on Monday.
“That’ll be $1,” the clerk behind the window told me.
Really? I have to pay to get the plates from you, and now I have to pay to give them back?
Again, I realize this may be old hat to some of you, but understand this is the first time I’ve run into this.
I realize I’m harping on a dollar. A buck. Four quarters. You can’t even get bottled water for that anymore.
It’s not the amount, mind you. It’s the principle of the gol-darn thing.
The state charges you sales tax on the car. You pay to get the thing inspected, and pay again to register said vehicle with the state, and you have to pay to put two license plates on your car.
And then, when I’m done with the plates, you require me to “surrender” the plates in order to get the vehicle off insurance the state requires us to have … and you ask me for a buck to give them back?
Is it the DMV purposely trying to be a prick, or is it something that just comes naturally to them?

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.

Is the party over?

14 11 2009


Anyone who knows me will tell you I love a good party … except when it comes to politics. Anyone who knows me will also tell you that I love observing politics, and the results of this off-year election have really made me wonder if we’re witnessing a new trend.
For a long time, I’ve felt that party affiliation shouldn’t come into play on the local level. In fact, I wrote about it two years ago when working for The Free Press in Kinston, N.C., when the issue of non-partisan voting there was a source of local conversation.
What’s interesting to me is the number of local candidates who actually lost their major party primaries in September but went on to win this month’s general election.
In Amsterdam, incumbent 2nd Ward Supervisor Barb Johnson lost the Democratic primary to Jeffrey Stark but was re-elected running on the Conservative Party line.
In Gloversville, Dayton King won the mayor’s seat as an independent after losing the Republican primary. Ironically, his GOP opponent, JoAnn Clear, finished second in that four-way race.
In Broadalbin, Joe DiGiacomo won the supervisor’s race on the Conservative line after losing to George Walters in September’s Republican primary. Same with Linda Kemper, who was re-elected as Northampton Town Supervisor on the Conservative Party line after failing to secure the GOP nomination against Northville Mayor Jim Groff.
Interestingly enough, in the town of Mohawk, Conservative Party candidate Gregory Rajkowski easily won the supervisor’s post there, beating out Republican Ray Tylutki and Democrat Wayne DeMallie.
Let’s also not forget the 23rd Congressional race in New York (I happen to live in this district) where Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman came out of nowhere, knocked the GOP candidate out of the race and came within a shorthair of beating the Nov. 3 winner, Bill Owens. As it turns out, that race may not be over, as a recount shows Hoffman gaining ground, to the point where Owens, who was already sworn in as this district’s congressman, may eventually have to be removed if Hoffman pulls this thing off.
For years, most of the calls for a viable third party have come from pundits and prognosticators who normally would be dismissed as being “on the fringe,” which is frankly a nice way of calling someone a kook.
But given the results of this latest election, I can’t help but think that maybe a move, albeit slight right now, away from the Republican and Democratic parties is starting to take wings.
Not that I would be opposed to that. I’ve always believed that real change starts at the local level, and I think the results of this last election show that major party politics isn’t necessarily a deciding factor in campaigns.
I’m well aware that there are other factors that come into play on the local level, such as who knows who and members of a certain party getting behind an “outsider” and the like. In politics, whether it’s local or national, there are always deals being made to keep certain people out of office, no matter what.
But I also think the seeds have been planted to move away from the traditional two-party system at all levels. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in years to come.

Saratoga Soo-peer-ee-or-i-tee?

10 11 2009

This afternoon, I had some errands to run in Saratoga Springs, and I came across this lovely house near Franklin Square:


Forgive the quality of the picture, it was taken with a crappy cell phone camera.

I guess Saratoga’s not perfect and has issues with blight and boarded-up homes as well. Someone alert the authorities.

Something cool to think about

8 11 2009


On Saturday, the Navy commissioned the USS New York, which was built using steel salvaged from the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Think about this: It’s very likely that this ship will be used to go after the very people responsible for toppling the WTC towers. How awesome is that?
It would even be better if they painted Uncle Sam flipping the bird on the front of the warship. Just for the dramatic effect.

Sidebar: The ship was built near New Orleans by survivors of Hurricane Katrina. If this ship isn’t a symbol of the reslience and strength of Americans, I don’t know what is.