Friday, March 31, 2006

Kick in the Groin...

A youth minister was charged with assault for allegedly knocking a 16-year-old boy down and kicking him in the groin after taking a head shot from the teen in a dodgeball game.

David M. Boudreaux, 27, was charged Wednesday with one count of third-degree assault. According to court documents, the incident happened in February at Crescent Lake Christian Academy.

Authorities said the teen missed Boudreaux with one throw but then knocked the youth minister's glasses off with the next. The boy apologized, authorities said, but Boudreaux pushed him backward, and when the teen got up again, Boudreaux kicked him in the groin and left.

Dudley on TD Celebrations


I was scanning GoErie this morning and I found John Dudley's blog. He keeps it up to date, but there are very few comments.

One of his recent posts is about NFL TD celebrations. His article, and my reply, appears below. I thought this might get some conversation going on our Blog (some of which might carry over to his).

It's all about synergies, baby.


No more post-TD skits?

By John Dudley

Just as Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Steve Smith are elevating post-touchdown celebrations to off-Broadway levels, the NFL has once again cracked down on the type and duration of theatrics players may engage in after crossing the goal line. This is an ongoing issue for the league, but it's back on the agenda at this week's annual meeting in Orlando because competition committee chairmen Jeff Fisher, coach of the Tennessee Titans, and Rich McKay, general manger of the Atlanta Falcons, believe enforcement hasn't been strict enough recently.

If you long for the days when Barry Sanders set the standard for the understated celebration by simply flipping the ball to the referee after he scored -- he had, after all, been in the end zone a few times before -- then you'll appreciate the fact that the league wants to penalize offenders' teams 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff.

Such penalties always seem to get the attention of coaches, who you can bet will be particularly vigilant about enforcing the celebration ban if they face unsportsmanlike calls. Naturally, the league will provide for some, uh, wiggle room, allowing that dances are permitted as long as they aren't too lengthy or involving too many teammates. (And that's just what we need -- NFL officials with more latitude on judgment calls.)

One curious portion of the proposal calls for players to come to their feet before beginning a celebration. Those who begin gyrating or dancing while still on the ground will be penalized.

So much, then, for the celebration I'd truly like to see -- T.O. writhing on the turf beneath a stampede of greased-up agents.

My reply:


So, are you for or against TD celebrations? Am I right to assume that you prefer the low-key Barry Sanders approach?

I must admit that the regulations against TD celebrations seem racist to me: White men behind desks telling black athletes that they can't jump and dance and more or less create inspired water fountain buzz for Monday mornings...basically because it's offensive to white audiences to watch a black man gyrating and proclaiming his physical dominance in the white world.

Personally, I don't care what the athletes do, as long as they keep their clothes on, avoid sexual innuendo, and it doesn't take more than 30 seconds. I love the creativity of it...and you gotta admit that whole cell phone routine was brilliant.



Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Baseball competitive balance

I think this story reflects a lot of the points I was trying to make about the competiveness of Major League Baseball with my post a couple weeks ago. Calling the Pittsburgh Pirates the Detroit Lions of baseball would not be that far off.

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend. Set clocks forward one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night.

This year, daylight time begins on April 2 and ends on October 29.

Next year, daylight time begins on March 11 and ends on November 4 due to a change in the law.

The idea is to save energy by shifting more of the sunlight from morning to evening.

Also: you can track the phases of the moon by clicking here.




I wanted to learn your thoughts concerning Linda Bebko-Jones. First, she said she was going to run for office, then her signatures were challenged by Dennis Iaquinto and she dropped out of the race. What's up with that? It suggests that at least some of the signatures may have been bogus and that she didn't want to fight.

So, she goes from champion of the East Side to private citizen. That surprises me because politicians typically don't shy away from a fight.

I think she might be feeling some of the fall out from Operation Clean Sweep. She's an incumbent and she voted for the "midnight pay raise" last summer. Maybe she felt she was doomed anyway.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Matthew Good. He may get bounced as well.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Here's my correspondence from yesterday with Pat Howard of the Erie-Times:


Don't you think you were beating a dead horse with Sunday's column?
Instead of throwing the final loads of dirt on our ex-mayor's political
grave, why aren't we talking about an even bigger potential scandal that
may have emerged out of the Filippi trial? That is Greg Rubino's influence with the state prosecutor's office. Did, in fact, he use his influence to cause the defendents to be charged with a crime that wasn't even a crime? And if so, how did he get such sway? What Rick and his friends may have done pales on the corruption scale in comparison to what Rubino, presumably with the backing of the Baldwin
Brothers, may have pulled off. Dare I ask if the Baldwins hold sway over
the Times?



Mr. *****,

Neither Rick Filippi nor Greg Rubino and Baldwin Brothers hold sway over our newsroom. The suggestion of the latter seems odd, in fact, given our coverage and commentary as it applies to Mr. Rubino's and Baldwin Brothers' interests in some recent high-profile issues. Trust me, Rubino and the Baldwins are no fans of ours. As I've written repeatedly since all this started, I make no judgment on the criminal case against Filippi. That's for the jury, and the jury has spoken. My point was to put the events in perspective -- namely that the tragedy of Filippi and what his decisions put himself, his family and this community through were larger than that case. The timing seemed apt to me. But opinions vary. Thanks for writing.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Beer Can Collection

This weekend I went up into my parents attic and retrieved my brothers beer can collection. He asked that I send these too him in Georgia. As I was looking through the collection my father noticed that back in the 70’s beer was still being sold in tin cans. It was interesting to look at the different labels and I wondered what happened to my collection.

I remember my neighbor Ron, my brother John and I scrounging around the high school looking for the cans from the prior teenage party. I must admit that we had a good time doing it. I think that beer can collecting has faded into the past since I never hear much about it anymore.

A friend of mine said I should have a party with all of the beer cans on display, so next month I will be having a small party where we will sit around, swill good beer and reminisce about the “Good ol’ days”. After that the beer can collection will be put back in the box, taken to UPS and sent to my brother. His kids will get a kick at looking at the cans and I am sure it will bring memories back for John.

What's next in Filippi case?

Huge weekend for our ex-mayor Rick Filippi. Go Rick! Rick walks! All of the above. Interesting the way he fingered Rubino as the villian in this case from the beginning. I remember as soon as he was charged, one of his aides was standing outside Ambrose/Friedman's office holidng up a sign with Money To Rubino or some such stuff on it. Now, it would seem we need to investigate the practices of our state courts, if indeed Filippi was charged with something that was not even a crime in the first place.



Friday, March 24, 2006

NCAA Hoops

So, I know was kind of down on the tournament earlier, even though I saw some good action in the early games... but last night just blew me away. I was really looking forward to the 9:45 (late) games between WVU and Texas and Gonzaga and UCLA. And neither disappointed...Probably, the most amazing stat of the whole night was the fact that WVU was outrebounded 43-15 and still, by all means, should have sent the game into OT, if not for the great last-second shot, but Texas' only senior. It immediately followed a three-pointer by WVU's own senior leader, Kevin Pittsnugle, which tied the game with 5 seconds left. Dick Engberg called the whole final 13 second sequence beautifully, even suggesting that WVU, which was down by 3, needed to shoot quickly before Texas could foul them and send them to the line for two shots - pretty much killing their chances at winning.

A quick aside on WVU's style of play: Where did John Beilein learn to coach hoops like that? He apparently was at LeMoyne for about 10 years in the 80s and early 90s, and I always remember them having good teams when they played Gannon - and I guess they always had gunner guards - but WVU pretty much ignores much conventional wisdom surrounding basketball - such as the importance of rebounding - and just fires away three pointers and goes for steals on D. I guess it works well with the athletes Beilein recruits. Talk about meaningful differences.

The UCLA-Gonzaga game that followed was equally entertaining. Proved once again that you don't count out a Ben Howland (or Jamie Dixon) coached team when it fall behind early. Was a pattern at Pitt... main difference, and Howland pretty much said it himself a couple days ago, is that he is getting better players to come to UCLA than he could at Pitt, where he always came up a little short in the Tourney. Last night's win got him the farthest he's ever been.

As a super bonus last night, we got to see Duke lose as well. Those Mike Kzycheski (excuse the spelling) car commercials have been driving me crazy. Who the f$%# does he think he is talking about moral values and then trying to hawk you a car? Anyways, glad to see the Dukies out and J.J. Reddick absolutely embarrassed himself, not only with a pitiful performance, but by acting like a total asshole when things weren't going his way.

I'll probably try and catch the UCLA-Memphis tilt Sunday - but nothing else really jumps out at me.



Meaningful Differences


There's a notion that we've been chewing on in the band that I thought you'd get a kick out of. It's called the creation of "meaningful difference."

The idea is that, in life and in music, the attitude is to create meaningful differences so that daily experience is always fresh and new even as it is also part of a larger pattern.

It's a secret of life.

In music, it means attempting sounds and rhythms that nobody "is doing," because nobody else can be doing what you're doing at that particular time. So, you gotta "go for it" and create meaningful differences...the tender little caresses, the roaring drum rolls, the squealing all has to be part of the show.

Oh yes, and sex is all about meaningful differences, but you knew that already...

Carry on,



I've loved Carlos Santana for as long as I can remember. It all began when I heard the Moonflower album (on vinyl) back in the early 70s. It was the most beautiful music I had ever heard in my life and I wondered why everybody wasn't listening to it.

But everybody wasn't listening to it. I learned that most people didn't care much about it.

Fortunately, my friend Pat also understood Carlos, and since that time, Pat has gone on to emulate Carlos in many ways: Pat's style of playing and his love for percussion are only two similarities between the two. Then, not long ago, Pat purchased a Paul Reed Smith guitar, which is the same guitar that Carlos plays.

It's beautiful, and I hope you get the chance to see Pat play some time. He is the driving force behind a band called East Avenue and he's one of my good friends.

Oh yeah, Pat's other key influence is Jimmy Page, so you're gonna like his work either way.

For me, Carlos opened up the heavens. He gave me a thousand percussion sounds, most of which I try to emulate to this day in my own playing.

So, my message for today is this: Get your hands on some Carlos Santana and give it a good listen. It's absolutely amazing.

And if you're a real music hound, you should be sure to use this opportunity to fill in your Carlos Santana music catalog, because, as they say, "It's all good..."


PS-If you want two song recommendations, try Toussant L'overture or Europa (get them from iTunes).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Krauthammer vs. Tucker

Interesting to me that as we "celebrate" the third anniversary of our war in Iraq, that the best column Charles Krauthammer could come up with had to do with polygamy and comparing it to gay marriage. Gay marriage, polygamy, abortion, them conservatives love them "moral issues." Notorious liberal Cynthia Tucker, by contrast, actually ran a very intersting peace exploring the real reasons - that ones no one wants to talk about - for the our presence in Iraq. Tucker's reasons are intriguing. It's that damn "oil stuff" that we can't quit using. I remember discussing this with several people when the war kicked off, and oil was almost a dirty word - much like abortion, polygamy, and gay marriage. Leave it to those conservatives to keep everything above the board like that.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Jazz by Ken Burns

During the weekend, I watched the first five episodes of Ken Burns' Jazz. He directed the sprawling documentary for PBS back in 2000. I caught part of it a few years ago, and I knew at the time that I had to watch all of it at some point.

Well, that point has arrived. In a word, the work is awesome. It covers history, politics, race relations and, of course, music. If you are a music fan, you need to get your hands on this masterpiece and watch all of it. I was riveted.

It's available on DVD on Amazon for $180 or so, but you can also rent it from Blockbuster. Actually, I borrowed it from the Mercyhurst Library, so it is available in various places if you poke around for it.

It will change the way you see the world. It certainly has changed the way I view modern music.

That's the tip for the day.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Photos and the NCAAs

Okay. It took me about 45 minutes to figure out how to post a photo. Not a simple process...involves downloading software and such. Then there were size limitations, so I had to re-edit the original pic. Blah, blah, blah.

I seem to have the bugs worked out for now.

So, Ralph, what are your thoughts on the NCAA tourney? I see that Syracuse bit the dust.

Did Pitt win or lose?



Friday, March 17, 2006

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Vikings in Iraq

This is very odd. I tried to post this late last night and it caused my site to disappear for about 12 hours. I guess I could have included some words in here that got this post "flagged" or something. It happened fairly instantaneously, which leads me to think it may have been technical problems, instead. But it was kind of odd that the last time we had such as outage followed DoktorDee's Flight 93 post. (I've cleaned up the language a bit, maybe there's just a flag against offensive language. But here it is. I don't think it's anything too serious):

You know what bothers me so much about this current war in Iraq? As Country Joe and the Fish put is so eloquently over 35 years ago, "1-2-3-4 - What the hell are we fightin' for?"

I got to questioning my motives behind reading up on the Viking invasions of the Great Britain and Western France area during the Middle Ages (600-1000 AD). I was thinking, maybe I need a little violence. But no, that's not it. I have no desire to read about other wars, like the Civil War for example. Nor am I that interested in participating in the Iraq War.

Then, I got to thinking, what was the difference between these Viking wars and the Iraq war? And one answer came to mind - Plunder. Where's the plunder associated with today's war? Does it all go to Dick Chaney and his cronies? Is that really fair? Who wants to fight that kind of war? And these Iraquis, blowing themselves up for God? What's with that? What happened to gold and silver and land and women that you could take from your opponents and at least enjoy a little bit. This fighting for god and country - what a bunch of bull.

Carry on.


Barry Bonds

This guy probably does the best job expressing something close to how I feel about the whole Barry Bonds situation. My biggest beef has always been, why, Barry, why? Bonds was a great player, an MVP, in fact, before he started juicin'. And he was also a multi-millionaire. Story is that he was jealous of Sosa and MaGuire and all the attention they were getting. Apparently, he was too dumb to realize he was a far better ballplayer than either one of them - and that being a better player always wins out in the end over shortcuts. He was really fun to watch with the Pirates. Despite his painful playoff performances, I was always cheering for him becuase I got the impression, he was pressing, and trying too hard. Yeah, he may have always been a dickhead off the field, but I didn't know him off the field. On the diamond, he played a beautiful game. Sad now that he has become this cariciture, this joke, and probably cut 10 years off his life in the process.


Clam up?

Does anyone else find it preposterous that former Mayor Rick Filippi allegedly told Jeff Bucci to "clam up?" I mean, who talks like that? James Cagney? What, is Rick supposed to be a "wise guy" now? The more I'm hearing from this trial, the more I think Rick is going to walk.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wonder Boys

Did you ever see the movie Wonder Boys? Tremendous cast: Mike Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey, Jr., some guy that looks Little Richard, Katie Holmes, John Boy from the Waltons. Plus it's all about writing, which is one of my favorite topics. And there's a sub-theme in there too, which is also one of my favorite topics. Someone recommended it to me like four years ago, and I finally got around to watching it. That should give you some idea of the speed I'm operating at. Anyhow, good music, great acting, so-so plot, but great theme involving writing, and good underlying stuff involving cannibas. Plus Katie Holmes is kind of cute in the whole pre-Tomcat stage.

Anyways, that's all I can say for now. What motivated me to watch the flick finally. Well, I had some severe back pain that was lingering for over a week. Finally, I freed up some time and took something for it. I think it got me in the right frame.



Jon Kabat-Zin and the Viking Invasions

The following post began as a series of comments under Desperate Housewives Jumps the Shark. However, I thought few readers would see the comments there, so I decided to post them as a separate entry. Feel free to comment on any aspect. Doc.

Ralph: So, what have you been doing for kicks? I've become intrigued by the Viking invasions of England from about 500-1000 A.D. and have been doing some research on them...

Mike: I've been doing a lot of reading and meditating. I've been able to move to the next level of my meditation...this means my level of perception has changed and increased.

The more I do, the easier it becomes, and easier meditation means that things in life become easier. But I still have to put in the TIME in order to gain the results, so there’s still a lot of effort involved.

Time and focused meditation, along with Starbuck's, it the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

I managed to find a book on CD called, “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” by a dude named Zin. He rocks.

Ralph: Anyone named Zin...well, he should rock. Glad to hear the thoughts are going well. While I understand the power of meditation, the concept of life becoming "easier" is not one that I can readily grasp. As a heads up, I'd like to say, I've adopted Job's motto, which is also phrased quite eloquently by Nickelback: "Something's gotta go wrong,'cuz I'm feelin' way too damn good."


Mike: Gotcha. Well, it’s not so much “easier," because first of all, you have to put in the time. But maybe I want to say something like "more focused"...kind of a Zen "less is more" idea. You and I have spoken of this before: work smarter, not harder. I'm finding a lot of this richness at this point.

Also: I find that, as I age, I become less physic and more spirit. As a result, I am less and less consumed by worldly things. Therefore, I don't feel the pressure to work so much to have so much. I've been released from the bondage of material things (except, of course, for the basic requirements: home, car food, and Starbuck's).

I also found that the removal of alcohol from my life has made things easier to manage because I'm not fighting myself so much. In videogame language, I was able to increase one psychic level simply as a result of putting the bottle down.

Finally, I've found I've reached the point where the thoughts and visions of my heart translate quite readily into reality, which is amazing. As a result, I worry very little about anything these days because I understand that I really don't have anything to worry about. We seem to be caught in patterns that we have very little control over, and while we can’t alter them radically, we are also held in their benevolent grasp.

Tell me more about the Viking Invasions (or the Minnesota Vikings). It doesn't matter to me.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Desperate Housewives Jumps Shark

Sad to say, yes, somewhat sad to say that I actually used to enjoy this show, but even sadder to say, I think it has Jumped the Shark, and fairly quickly. Yes, I guess it was too much to ask that this one-time dark comedy remain strong for more than a year and a half. It's now turned into a uninteresting melodrama. I watched it last night (at least the last 45 minutes) and didn't laugh out loud once. I used to have four or five of those a show. Luckily, The Office has emerged to replace it as my only "can't miss" TV show of the week, otherwise I'd be tempted to toss my set out the window. Mind you, I only have the basic cable package - like 8 channels, so I'm clearly missing out on a lot of good stuff, but I really don't want to watch that much TV anyhow... so I have time to post to my blog.

What exactly has happened to Desperate Housewives? Let me first say, I thought when they kept the cast together for a second season, we were in for a good one, but it has quickly dropped off. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Rex's death. He was a great foil for Bree, much better than her son, who is too much like her.
2. Too much Teri Hatcher - she's just not very entertaining, unless her rival - Ede - the blonde chick - is on the screen with her = and I didn't catch Ede at all last night.
3. Too much Zack, Mike, and the Grandfather - none of them is funny - okay Mike maybe a little bit
4. Final straw - the last couple weeks Eva Loranger's character (Gabrielle) seems to have become a better person. She was a great villain and her battles with Carlos and the crazy nun were the final highlight of the show for me. Now the nun is gone.
5. Tom and Lynette's working together thing is not as funny as their struggles with their heathen children. While their workplace storyline is probably the best one going on right now - it's still not as good as their old storyline -which about sums it up.

Last night, my wife had to call me out of bed (where I was reading - not sleeping, honest) to come and catch the show. A couple weeks ago, I would have been there front and center for kick-off.

Do I think it can come back? No, and here's why (keep in mind, I've been known to be wrong). For some reason, I've always thought of Desperate Housewives as being akin to Guns and Roses' Appetite for Destruction album. Whenever you would read anything about the band or the cast of the show, it always sounded so dysfunctional that you knew it could never last. I'll never forget listening to Appetite for Destruction and discussing it with one of my friends who said, "I had to pick this up, because with a band like this, you never know if they're going to do anything else." That turned out to be a great call. I kept waiting for Desperate Housewives to fall apart in the traditional manner - cast members leaving - but it never happened. However, much like Guns and Roses, it kind of has fallen apart from within.

Maybe the writer just lost his edge and used up all his ideas and hasn't been able to generate new ones. I'm not going to blame him. Because I think dark comedy is one of the hardest genre's to pull off and I've only seen a handful of movies and read a handful of books that have done it successfully. And, aside from the Simpsons and Married with Children can't think of too many shows - Cheers I guess sometimes (and maybe Seinfeld), that have done it for a long time successfully. And Desperate Housewives was an hour-long show that brought a lot to the table in areas like drama and sexiness that added to its comedy and helped it appeal to a broad audience. It was really pretty ambitious, much like Appetite for Destruction, and could probably only be sustained for so long.

Oh well, it was a good run.



Saturday, March 11, 2006

baseball realignment

So, this argument started at like 1:45 this morning at Skeeters, so it may be a bit cloudy. But it went something like this: Myself (a Yankees fan) and another guy (a Bosox fan) are arguing with a Pirates fan about what needs to be done to make Major League Baseball more competitive. The Bosox fan and myself argued (I believe the Bosox fan took my side on this) that the weaker teams need to be eliminated and play triple A.

The Pirates fan said fine, fuck you, take your eight teams and have your league and I'll watch the other league with 24 competitive teams. He was also arguing for some better form of revenue such as they have in the NFL. My argument is that it's two different games - 162 game season vs. 16, the dynamics are different, and that MLB is the American Pastime and should reflect the free enterprise system - like it always has. Yankees have always dominated because they have a bigger market and spend more money.

The problem with MLB today is that there are simply too many teams. Unlike the old days when teams would pick up and move to a more lucrative locale, all sort of litigation threats have prevented teams in bad markets - such as Miami, for example, from moving. So, you end up with expansion teams in places like Denver, instead of Denver enticing a small-market team like the Royals or Pirates to move out there. (Does anyone think the Expos moving to Washington was bad for baseball?) As it typically does, litigation has helped stifle the natural forces of free enterprise. Also, some of the expansion cities -like Tampa Bay for instance, were just bad ideas, and probably the result of some political largesse.

Anyways, one of my main points of contention with my Pirate friend's argument (and by the way, do you know how the Pirates got their nickname in the first place? yup, by signing players away from teams with less money), is that there are certainly more than eight teams that can compete with the Yankees and Bosox. So, this morning I took at look at the standings and came up with my realigned and paired down version of the major leagues that I think would be optimzed for competition and entertainment value.

Here it is:

East Coast Division

Great Lakes



And that's it. Simple straight forward - eight playoff teams - all first and second place teams qualify and have your playoff tournament. I've done away with American and National League distinctions because they're obsolete - I think the success of interleague play has shown that - and tried to consider both natural and traditional rivalries when putting the divisions together.

Let me know what you think.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Back online

Apologize for that outage over the past day and a half. Finally, figured out that "re-publishing" the blog - whatever that means, would get us back online - or able to be viewed I guess as the controls remained active even while the front page appeared down.

Yesterday kind of sucked from a technological standpoint. My router - a Dell (never buy a Dell wireless router) went down. It was the second time it died - the first time I got a new one cuz I was under warranty. This time I had to go out and purchase a new NetGear device (they actually support Windows ME - God bless them) - and I got it up and running in 20 minutes (as the box promised.) The Dell thing took me hours of fucking around with to get online the first time and was always touchy and a pain in the ass. It didn't really support ME, but they told me it did - and I bought it when I bought my laptop (which has been fine), which I got cheap, etc. etc.

Anyways, my fears that we were shut down over our posts about Flight 93 or Dr. Garvey appear to be unfounded.

Carry on.



I'm glad to see in this morning's paper that the officials from the City of Erie are talking with the Leaders of Millcreek. That makes a lot of sense. So, rather than forcing a merger between the two at this stage, let's begin finding ways to work together to make the region a better place to live. I support such cooperation and I still think that Lawrence Park and Wesleyville need to be included in the dialogue.

Now, as this all moves forward, one of the issues that the City of Erie still needs to address is its traffic woes. Years ago, the City invested lots of money into a study and into the subsequent installation of hundreds of "pressure pads" at just about every intersection in the City. The "pressure pad" idea is based on the notion that, if a vehicle pulls up to the pad, the light will sense the presence of that vehicle and turn the light green.

While this concept may have worked for Erie in the past, when there were fewer cars, it clearly no longer works today. First of all, it's based on the idea that you have to stop a car before you allow a car to pass, and that idea is inherently flawed. The reason they did this in the first place is because Old School Erieites complained about sitting at a red light when there was no opposing traffic. So, to solve that problem, they came up with the pressure pad idea.

But there are far too many vehicles in Erie for such a patchwork approach to continue. For example, on Wednesday of this week, I had to drive into the City. It was "go a block, stop...go a block, stop...go a block, stop..." the entire time. I'm not exaggerating. It was infuriating.

Then, yesterday, I drove from my mom and dad's on the lower East Side to my home in Millcreek. I encountered 15 lights and "made" only two of them. It sucked. It makes me want to avoid going into the City of Erie at all costs. I feel like my life is being sucked out of me as I sit at all those lights.

The best way to solve this issue is for the Mayor and City Council to declare "Rights of Way in the City of Erie" and to synchronize the lights along those routes. Pick 'em: 12th Street, 26th Street, 38th Street for east/west traffic; East Avenue, Parade, State, Peach, Liberty for north/south traffic.

People would alter their driving patterns to adjust to the Rights of Way, because they would know that as soon as they got onto one of those routes, it would be fairly smooth sailing. Lots of green lights in the City of Erie! Can you imagine it?

However, as it stands today, drivers want to take all kinds of shortcuts to avoid routes like 12th Street, because they know they will sit at light after light all the way from East Avenue to Pittsburgh Avenue. With this scenario, we have a situation where these cars are sitting on the "pressure pads" at such ridiculously minor intersections as 12th and Wayne---stopping 100 cars so that a single car can enter 12th street. It's insane and no way for a City that is trying to attract new people and new business to behave.

And if there is a school on the Right of Way, the lights should only be active during those times when students are coming to or leaving school. Otherwise, the lights should be green.

So, we need to find a way to create more green lights in the City of Erie. I've traveled all over the US and I've never seen so many red lights in my entire life. In fact, people in other cities refer to these lights as "traffic lights," whereas in Erie, people tend to refer to them as "red lights."

How about that?

Anyway, this has been a problem for some time and it needs to be addressed. No more studies, no more bullshit. Instead, the leaders need to step up, identify the Rights of Way, and synchronize the lights so that traffic can move across town. Cars might have to sit for a while to access the Rights of Way, but the payoff will be worth it.

Believe it or not, the free movement of traffic is a good thing for a city, not a bad thing. We want newcomers to be able to have free and easy access to all things Erie; we don't want them to be sitting at light after light saying, "What the hell is going on in this town?"

That's all I have for today.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Flight 93

Wow, I just got done reading the headlines for today, and I came across an article by Ted Rall that suggests Flight 93 was not taken down by heroic passengers, but was instead shot down by the US Air Force.

Rall quotes reports from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette filed shortly after the accident that say debris from the plane was found 2.5 miles from the crash site.


[Begin quote] The September 13, 2001 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, for example: "In a morning briefing, State Police Major Lyle Szupinka confirmed that debris from the plane had turned up in relatively far-flung sites, including the residential area of Indian Lake [two and a half miles from the crash site]."

Flight 93 "headed down...rolled onto its back," and crashed, leaving a smoldering crater. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette again: "[Indian Lake marina employee John] Fleegle said he climbed on the roof of an abandoned cabin and tossed down a burning seat cushion that had landed there. By Wednesday morning, crash debris began washing ashore at the marina. Fleegle said there was something that looked like a rib bone amid pieces of seats, small chunks of melted plastic and checks." Seats and bones don't fly two and a half miles from a crash. Their location could indicate an initial explosion, such as that from a missile hitting a plane. [End quote]

Rall also points to the secrecy surrounding the cockpit voice recorder, the contents of which have never been released to the public.

Now, I'm not a big believer in conspiracy theories, because I think that people are typically too incompetent to sustain such endeavors. But Rall raises some good points here. First, why have the contents of the voice recorder been kept under wraps? If this is really a story about heroism, then there should be no conflict.

Plus, I have no trouble believing that the Bush administration would rather allow a self-serving fable about a passenger calling out "Let's roll" and other stories of heroism to take the place of truth (Like most politicians, Cheney and Bush really seem to struggle with the truth when it might run contrary to their agenda). If the plane was shot down, then say so. If it was really a story of heroism, then release the contents of the cockpit recorder.

We may never know what actually happened that day in skies over Western PA, but, for me, it's just another item in a long line of items of repressed and distorted information churned out by an administration whose supposed leader (Bush) was elected because he allegedly had more "character" than Bill Clinton. Character, in this context, means telling the truth and being forthright, where most of what I see is secrecy and self-interest.

I'm keen to hear other opinions about Rall's story. It's a question of whether we, as a people, want to cling to the fairy tale or whether we want to pursue the truth.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gamble, Clinton, Jefferson, and St. Paul

Well, it's official. Erie native Thomas Gamble took office as president of Mercyhurst College on March 1 and a reception was held in his honor at Mercyhurst North East today...I just got home from the event.

Everything I've seen about Dr. Gamble has been positive. He seems very capable and knows Mercyhurst well. Plus, he is an Erieite, which I think is cool. He will do well in the job.

During his inaugural address, Gamble cited Thomas Jefferson and epistle writer St. Paul. The Jefferson quote was from Jefferson's inaugural. I found the speech on the Web and it's worth reading . It's particularly interesting to see how opposed Jefferson's thoughts are to the current Bush Administration (he was certainly more like Bill Clinton [whose middle name was "Jefferson"] than anybody else in politics these days).

First off, I don't think that Dick Cheney or George Bush could write as well as Jefferson, at least I haven't seen anything to suggest that they could. Maybe I'm wrong, but don't they have speechwriters do that these days? That, in itself, is fairly devious--certainly ingenuous--and it goes on all the time in both parties.

And this is not to attack Cheney and Bush; I don't hold any hatred for them personally. I just think that most of the men governing the United States in 2006 are not particularly great men. Cheney is a heck of businessman (a 21st Century robber baron), but he's not a great statesman, and Bush has received help at every step of his life. If Bush was born to an average, middle-class family, he would have amounted to very little in life. He may have been killed in Viet Nam, he wouldn't have been accepted to Yale, and he certainly would not be president. So there it is: power is everything (except in Clinton's case, as he was born to humble beginnings).

But this entry is about Gamble, not Cheney and Bush and Clinton. So far, Dr. Gamble has spoken of his plan for the "first 1000 days." As part of this plan, he plans to take the school from a trimester schedule to a semester schedule, and he plans to put his weight behind the development of the Mercyhurst West County campus (MWC?).

I support the move to a semester schedule, particularly at Mercyhurst North East, because it is an opportunity school. Let's face it, the real learning in a college course takes place between weeks 10 and 15. That's when the students finally understand the teacher and the teacher understands the students. To chop it down to ten weeks---no matter how long the classes are and how often they meet---just doesn't have the same effect.

I have to sign off for now, but I want to take this up again. I want to dig out that quote from St. Paul that Dr. Gamble cited, but my notes are at school and I'm at home.

More later,


Rielly's context

Well, it finally came today, the first defense that Gannon basketball coach John Reilly's comments regarding this year's team were "taken out of context." It came in the form of a Letter to the Editor written by former SportsLook editor, Gannon hoopster, and GU basketball announcer Jim Roddy. As I think I have discussed with DoktorD, what context could have possibly made Reilly's throwing his players under the bus more palpable?

Roddy attacks Times reporter Duane Rankin for writing a story based on the quotes which were "taken out of context." I read John Dudley's column where the quotes were first reported and could find no redeeming context for them. So, why didn't Roddy attack Dudley as well? I am not going so far as to accuse Jim of being racist, but I am going to call him a bully. Jim has known both Dudley and Reilly for a long time and seems to be taking his shots at the new guy, which I think is unfair. I thought Rankin's article where he interviewed the two Gannon players about Reilly's comments was some of his best work with the Times and he deserves kudos and not blame for it.

Unless, of course, someone can explain to me what the "context" of Reilly's quotes was. Once again, not to pick on Reilly here, because from all accounts, he's not a bad guy, but I think he made a mistake and should own up to it. Hats off to Mr. Rankin for calling him out.


Monday, March 06, 2006


Been meaning to get to a post on the whole Erie-Millcreek merger thing, and now appears to be the time. My post follows Pat Howard's excellent editorial in the Sunday paper (why is it I can link directly to Pat's columns and nothing else on Don't know.) As usual Pat does a nice job summarizing several recent events/stories. I like it when he accuses Barry Grossman of being petulant and "taking his ball and going home." I've heard from many people what a powerful and dynamic person Barry is, and I really thought he presented very well during this past year's mayoral debates, but I agree that he seems to be acting like a baby here, and I think Pat is maybe even a little too easy on him. Anyways, I'd be more than happy to take his spot on this Greater Erie Unity Committee thing. Does anyone know how I can do this? I tried to a do a search for their Web site and the closest thing I came upon was another blog post that said - "clueless and have no Web site." Of course, if this means I'd have to work with Dr. Garvey, another guy people can't say enough great things about - well, except for a few people, I don't know if I'd want to do it. Not that I don't respect, well, maybe I don't. I really don't know what to make of this guy...

Anyhow, the biggest shortfall with this whole Erie-Millcreek thing seems to be convincing Millcreek people to go along with it. Now, I am friends with two well-informed, educated, and civic-minded Millcreek residents, who are both in favor of a merger - as I think almost everybody from Erie is. But, still I would like to see some solid, tangible evidence that could be used to convince the rank-and-file - Joe NASCAR six-pack Millcreek resident that this is a good thing for the community.

Howard makes some nice surface arguments - stuff about Millcreek being built on the back of the city infrastructure and it, itself needing similar help in the future - but I don't think the numbers are there and that these arguments are solid enough to convince Republican Millcreek residents with the "what's in it for me" attitude. I'm sure there is stuff in it for them, I just can't put my finger on it.

So, since we've aready determined the city is in favor of this, let's get some city residents to put together a grass roots efforts to pitch this to the rest of the county-including Millcreek. We need to determine exactly what kind of leverage the city has here. If Millcreek and friends want to play hardball, the city needs to get tough as well and start threatening these townships if they don't play ball. I'm not talking about organizing our paid police and firemen into a militia, but something more realistic - I'm not sure what, would do.

I guess I'm saying, if this is such a good idea, let's prove it the best we can, even without some outside study. We've got enough smart people around here where we can figure at least something out on its own. And if Millcreek doesn't want to participate, they lose their voice in the grass roots effort and let things fall as they may.

Alright, that's enough of a rant. If anyone wants to get busy on this, let me know.



Friday, March 03, 2006

Deep Blue

"I screamed your name out baby, but didn't roll my windows down."

Next song:
"Don't look out at the weather, because I believe it's goin' to rain."
I gotta check up on my baby, I believe she's gone with another man."

Yes, it's Friday night, and for the first time in a long time, I'm enjoying it with the musical accompaniment of Jason Gibbs and his Deep Blue show ("where we keep the talk to a minimum") on WQLN. Good stuff...

I just threw a couple pieces of wood on the fire, have a couple in reserve and a half a growler of beer from the Six Pack Shop in the fridge. Life is good. Kids are in bed, so is my wife, who is starting to make a comeback.

Looking forward to a solid weekend.


Gladwell on sports

Sorry to beat you over the head with sports posts, but things have been pretty quiet around here lately, my wife is very ill with congestion/cold stuff, so I've got to keep myself entertained. Sports is a good way to do that. "Think about baseball," I think is the line from the Naked Gun movie. (I remember seeing it in the theatre and everytime O.J. made an appearance on screen, one of my friends, who is also a Bills fan, would chant "Juice! Juice! Juice!) Speaking of which, have I ever told you my O.J. pen story? This is probably the best story that I own. I haven't had the occasion yet to post it online and actually told someone a couple weeks ago that I wouldn't, because I was afraid of making it part of the public domain and its losing its value. I was afraid, I'd end up like Kramer after he sold his stories to J. Peterman...

I'm coming up the elevator with O.J. after the Bills beat the Oilers in that all-time comeback game of 1992. I was at the game on the Times press pass, because the regular writer was out of town, knew I was a Bills fan and offered me the pass to go watch the game. I tailgated and had a good pregame experience and watched the game from the press box. (I was working part time for the paper, so I wasn't totally illegitimate.) Well, I wanted to leave at halftime, but had no idea where my cohorts (my brother and a friend) were sitting, so I stayed put and witnessed history. After the game, I had to go down to the lockerrooms just to check out the scene. I don't remember too much from the Bills lockerroom, except that everyone was mildly excited, but also somewhat in a state of shock, so it wasn't completely unrestrained celebration. Plus, it was only the first round of the playoffs and the Bills had been to the Super Bowl the two previous years.

The Oilers lockerroom, however, was very memorable because of the sheer silence. I've seen such silence in high school lockerrooms, because, well, they're high school kids and the games are very important to them on an emotional level. But for a pro lockerroom to be filled with that kind of pall (I think that's the right word) was fairly unique I think. And then Jack Pardee, the Oilers coach, was literally in tears as the press surrounded him outside the lockerroom doors. I guess they didn't have an interview room set up for him.

Upon leaving that carnage I had to take an elevator to get out of Rich Stadium (now known as "the Ralph.")And O.J. who was working for NBC at the time, gets on the elevator with me. I think he has an entourage of maybe one other guy. We ride up in silence one floor and door opens and we get out. A couple kids are standing there and immediately recognize O.J.
"Can we have your autograph, O.J.?"
"Sorry, don't have a pen."
Before O.J. can walk away. "Here, man, I've got one," and I offer him my Bic. (I was pretending I was a reporter, after all.)
O.J. takes it and signs the autograph -and then, here's the crux of the story - instead of handing the pen back to me, or even to the kids, he tosses it nonchalantly on the ground and walks away. I have to bend over and pick up the Bic that O.J. just threw on the ground - that I had given him two minutes earlier. Clearly a psychopathic move by O.J. (and I know nothing about psychology), so it didn't surprise me at all when he killed his wife a few years later. There, that's the main gist of my O.J. story - hope you enjoyed it. (there is a sequel that involves drinking Dos Equis on my neighbor's porch during the car chase, but like most sequels, it pales in comparison to the original.)

Basically, that's a long introduction to this link to an e-mail exchange between two of my favorite current authors: Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Simmons. Gladwell is a Bills' fan from Toronto and an accomplished author. I'm almost done reading The Tipping Point, which is kind of a psychological study of markets. He brings this psychoanalysis approach to his sports commentary, so you may enjoy this, even if you're not a dyed-in-the-wool sports fanatic.



Thursday, March 02, 2006


A song from my past...

the ancient hemlock in the yard
gently nods its head
branches tossing in the wind
can it hear what has been said?

much time has passed since last we met
can’t even remember the date
were we standing in the garden?
or talking by the gate?

the ancient hemlock in the yard
gently nods its head
branches tossing in the wind
can it hear what has been said?

you said our time had ended
and that you were moving on
I understood your meaning
so I packed it up and gone

the ancient hemlock in the yard
gently nods its head
branches tossing in the wind
can it hear what has been said?

today our paths are not the same
but the hemlocks remain sacred
walking the paths of my favorite wood
I stop and reach for a magical branch

turn the green leaf
see the two white stripes:

one for day
the other for night
one for summer
the other for winter
one for me
the other for you

I say a prayer in my heart
and release the bended branch,
"I hereby release my love for you
and trust now my luck to chance"

the ancient hemlock in the yard
gently nods its head
branches tossing in the wind
can it hear what has been said?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Some Hoops

Saw a great McDowell-Prep game tonight. McDowell was huge underdogs, which may have accounted for the less-then-stellar turnout. Two years ago, you couldn't find a seat in the Aud. when Prep and McDowell played. Now it was three-quarters full. McDowell came out all fired up and really passed the ball beautifully and hit open shots and built a 10-12 point lead.

The only other game I have seen Prep play under the current "Bump" Flanagan staff was his first game, and like this game Prep got off to a miserable shooting start. The team held together and never panicked and came back and lost that game, but won tonight. Their defense really jacked things up toward the end of the third quarter and McDowell stopped getting the open shots and folded. Prep outmuscled them over the long haul. It was an interesting contrast in styles, as McDowell moved the ball brilliantly for most of the game with quick passes hitting the open man, while Prep relied mainly on slashing and driving and individual skills. In the end Prep had the horses, while the Trojans proved to be but foot solidiers that couldn't hold off the cavalry. (Aw, some good old fashioned sportswriting, what do you say? Where's Chaneable Sue when I need her?)

Also, do you believe what Gannon basketball coach John Reilly was quoted as saying the other day in John Dudley's column? This was after the team had pulled out a close win over arch-rival Mercyhurst in its final game of the season: "This season is over. We didn't bring in these guys. We brought in forward Aurimus Truskauskas, and he epitomizes what this team is going to be like in the future." Hold on a second there chief. First off, what baskebtall coach uses the word "epitomizes?" Second of all, why would you castigate (how's that for a word?) your team like that after they just came up with a huge win - one that you can at least lean on a little for the next six months.

Now I know Rielly has to be upset after finishing 12-15, and Gannon fans, and Rielly himself are used to better. Reilly, after all, was an assistant under the legendary Tom Chapman. But, he also been coaching in the all-Kentucky league or something for the last 10 years. Not that they don't play good ball in Kentucky... but at least, let's give your D-II players some respect. I attended several of the games, and it sure didn't look like they weren't trying... alright, maybe they weren't trying up to Reilly's expectations and when he gets his own players in there, they'll win 25 games and go to the D-II finals and all that... but maybe not. Not every coach is successful on the next level. Look at Chapman at Bonnies. I guess all I'm saying is can't we at least be a little kinder here? It's just a game. (And you just won one.)

Last thought on this, (quickly, because the whole story has already been played out in the paper including an interview with a couple senior, one being Damondi Johnson who came back from an enlarged heart to play for Reilly this year), but Truskauskas really was not all that great of a player. Yeah, he seems like a stand-up guy (after I game where I saw him leave several of these little jump hook things short, he had the insight to admit "I didn't go up strong enough") and got some good rebounds, but he didn't seem like much of an inside defender and he missed a lot of short shots and hit only like 50% of his free throws. Maybe he'll be better, as he, like Reilly, was stepping up a level in play this year, but really, based on his performance this year, I don't think you were winning much with five Truskauskases in the line-up.

I think I'm ready for bed.

Night. Night.