It’s An Old-Fashioned Barn Razing!

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It was a nice little shed. The kind placid suburbanites plant in the green carpet of their backyard lawns. Sort of a mini-barn. A testament to an older, quieter way of life. Back in the day when we worked the land because, well, that’s what we were born to do.

Such were the fancies of a young man about to embark upon the American life, the American Dream.

The official Town Permit was obtained on April 29, 1991. It’s signed by June L. Smith, Town Clerk. For those of you who don’t know, she was the mother of none other than Continue Reading “It’s An Old-Fashioned Barn Razing!”

Remember 9/11 Forever

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Photo by Yvonne Stepanow from FreeImagesIt was the kind of Tuesday that can’t make its mind up if it’s Summer or Fall. In that way, it was a textbook “on the cusp” day. The skies were clear and crisp that morning. If you woke up early enough, you could feel the dew, smell the moisture, and immerse yourself in a cocooning blanket of warmth.

You can’t imagine a more pleasant beginning to a practically perfect day.

In a moment, in a series of unbelievable moments, the world changed.

There are two seminal occasions in our lives that most late phase Baby Boomers finally felt accepted, recognized, and part of what this nation is all about. One was good, the other Continue Reading “Remember 9/11 Forever”

Ode To The Open Road

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Photo by Debbie Schiel from FreeImagesIn the minds of many, the fast-approaching Labor Day represents the metaphorical end of summer. Before we take that literary leap, however, let’s spend one final weekend basking in the glory of the sun and the freedom of endless fields of rolling hills, chirping nature, and fragrant wild flowers.

There’s more to it than that, though.

From the beginning of our lives, we’ve come to see summer as a 10-week break. It starts with the calendar of school. Out in June. Back in September. July and August became the Continue Reading “Ode To The Open Road”

The Real News About Kathy Hochul Being New York State Governor

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You’ve probably read the headlines about Kathy Hochul “making history” by becoming the first woman to hold the position of New York State Governor.

If you’re like me, you cringe every time you see the appellation “first” applied to anyone. With the clear exception of sporting events, landing on the moon, and a few others, the term “first” seems more like a back-handed compliment. In today’s world of woke, it makes people wonder if “token” wouldn’t be a better description.

And that’s not fair.

I know. I’ve lived with this designation. The “first” Italian-American to do this… The “first” Catholic to do that… The “first” graduate of Gates-Chili high school to…

Each time, despite the apparent good intentions of various speakers of those words, it always felt condescending.

While I’m proud of my heritage, I didn’t want to be remembered merely as an Italian-Continue Reading “The Real News About Kathy Hochul Being New York State Governor”

The Road All Runners Run

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Photo by Jennifer Marr from FreeImagesThe world is an imperfect place. And we are its imperfect inhabitants.

You shouldn’t, as the saying goes, allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. For all our imperfections, we all possess some ounce of good.

Like hating the sin and loving the sinner, it is that ounce of good that we should glorify, amplify, and dignify. It’s what gives us all hope in a world marred by inadequacy and faultiness.

So it was with A.E. Housman, the troubled poet of the 19th Century. If you’re on your toes, you may have caught that the title of this piece alludes to a line in Housman’s greatest work.

While Housman’s works reflect the tragic demons that tormented him, the poignant poem still contains that ounce of good that makes it memorable.

A behavioral economist might call it “reframing.” Us regular folk simply say it’s looking at Continue Reading “The Road All Runners Run”

Journey Beyond The Center Of The ‘Stacks’

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Science majors got their own libraries. These contained the specialized journals of their respective fields. Much smaller than expansive University-wide libraries, they offered cozier confines, their size based on the number of students majoring in that subject.

Yale’s Astronomy Library was also probably the smallest library on campus. I was the only Astronomy & Physics major in my class. (Back in my day, the only way you could major in astronomy was to double major in physics. It was a lot of classes, with precious little room for elective courses like philosophy, literature, history, and, well, just about everything else.)

My virtually personal reference room was a treasure trove of ancient knowledge. And by ‘ancient’ I mean the actual data is centuries old. Astronomy, for the most part, collects light data from distant stars, galaxies, and nebulae. The objects responsible for these traveling photons lie lightyears distant, sometimes thousands of light years away.

While a light year represents a measure of distance, it also tells you how long ago the Continue Reading “Journey Beyond The Center Of The ‘Stacks’”

Will Teenage Minimum Wage Hurt The Poor?

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Talk to any restaurant owner and you’ll immediately get two comments: “Covid was H-E-double toothpicks” and “We might not survive Albany’s minimum wage mandate.”

Of course, both points cover many different types of businesses, but it’s the latter sentiment that impacts businesses that rely on entry level workers to butter their bread, especially restaurants (yes, the metaphor was slyly chosen).

Interestingly enough, up until 100 years ago, the Supreme Court deemed minimum wage laws illegal. In 1923 the Supreme Court declared it “simply and exclusively a price-fixing Continue Reading “Will Teenage Minimum Wage Hurt The Poor?”

Hooray For The New Space Race!

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Photo by David Cowan from FreeImagesAn amazing thing happened in the course of a week and a half this month. Did you notice it?

On July 11th, Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic spacecraft, fulfilled a pledge he made decades ago to fly into space. He brought along five others in his rocket plane.

Nine days later, and on the anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, Jeff Bezos took a crew of four to the edge of space in his Blue Origin rocket. Aboard with the Continue Reading “Hooray For The New Space Race!”

Are The Russians The New Nazis?

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Photo by Michal Zacharzewski from FreeImagesHave you noticed this?

It seems like I can’t turn to a movie, TV show, or just about anything else produced by Hollywood without seeing the same thing over and over again.

No, I’m not talking about the plot. (That’s not a Hollywood thing, there are only three basic conflicts in all dramatic literature and that means a lot of repeated plots going all the way back to ancient Greece.)

And I’m not talking about the protagonists. (Yes, this superhero thing has gotten out of hand, but, hey, can you blame Hollywood? The more it sells the more they’ll make, at least until it stops selling.)

What I’m talking about is fast becoming a stereotypical prototype for the antagonist, the enemy of the protagonist, otherwise known as “the bad guy.” It’s not that they aren’t Continue Reading “Are The Russians The New Nazis?”

What (And Why) Is Greater Western New York?

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1779 map of Sullivan Campaign 6.18.1779-9.15.1779

1779 map of Sullivan Campaign

Believe it or not, we’re fast approaching a seminal anniversary in the history of Greater Western New York. At some point in the final days of August 1779, the first scouts of the Sullivan Expedition represented the first citizens of the new nation to step foot into what would become Greater Western New York.

They weren’t the first people in Greater Western New York. They weren’t even the first of European descent to enter the region.

They were, however, the first Americans to do so. And that is why Greater Western New York is often referred to as “America’s First Frontier.”

For those who were absent from school when they taught this, the Sullivan Expedition, Continue Reading “What (And Why) Is Greater Western New York?”