Friday, February 26, 2010

Random Thoughts on Random Subjects

I was looking through some back issues of the New York Times that I have stacked in my living room in an attempt to discard them and I came across three articles that piqued my interest. Here goes.

1. People and their preferred passwords
So I came across an article dated January 21, 2010 titled If Your Password's Still 123456, It Might as Well Be HackMe and it got me thinking about how people really must be gullible. I mean seriously folks, 123456? Really? Based on a study done on a list of passwords that was stolen by a hacker, 1234546 is the number one password chosen by users. Want to guess what is number two? 12345. Yes, 12345 is the 2nd most popular and until 123456 became the top password used, 12345 was the top password. What happened to originality people. Have people lost their imaginations and creativity? Oy Vey.

2. Invitation to shop via text
This article in the Business section of the New York Times dated February 23, 2010 titled Take a Step Closer For an Invitation to Shop goes into detail the efforts that retailer North Face is planning to undertake to keep customers up to date. By using Placecast, the North Face would be able to notify customers (who have opted to be in the program) about any sales and offers when the customers are within a certain range of stores via text. At first I thought about how annoying that would be. As it is, I get countless emails from online sellers that I have used in the past on my Blackberry. But as I pondered the technology, I must admit that it is rather intriguing.

Say you were thinking about getting a cup of coffee and you were signed up with Starbucks to get texts (in a similar fashion as North Face is intending to do with Placecast) when you were in the range of a store. What's the probability that you would just go into a Starbucks after you got the text as to not getting one. Honestly I wouldn't know the odds or percentages, but I'd wager that having gotten a text with a discount code would probably get me to go to Starbucks as opposed to another coffee seller. But that's just me. We'll see how that whole thing plays out.

3. Public Perception of Fathers
This article came from the Health section of the New York Times dated November 3, 2009 titled Fathers Gain Respect From Experts (and Mothers) and I have to admit, it struck a nerve with me. Allow me to elaborate.

The article went into how fathers have historically been deemed to be uninvolved and the methods that were consciously (and subconsciously) used by various groups including mothers, doctors and clinics to perpetuate that image. Now, I'll be the first to admit, fathers have made things difficult for themselves. The deadbeats have always made things difficult for those of us who are heavily involved with our kids. But old fashioned views and ideas of child rearing also play into it. Let me give you an example.

When my kids were infants I would drive to Hastings-on-Hudson to do my banking. Living in the Bronx, it was easier to drive into Westchester County than to cross over the Triboro Bridge twice to make a deposit (Astoria Federal Savings has a number of branches in Westchester County). So this particular morning, I walk into the branch with both kids in the double stroller that my wife and I labeled "The Cadillac" since it was so long. This older woman comes up to me and says "Aww, look Daddy took a day off to be with the kids". Not thinking much about what she said, I answered that I had them everyday. I wish I could have taken a picture of her at that exact moment, I'll never forget the look on her face.

I can only imagine her thinking that I was a deadbeat, a bum who chose not to work, living off of my wife. So I decided to answer her silent comment by telling her that I worked nights full time and took care of my kids every morning. I wasn't freeloading off of anyone as she may have thought I was. I told her it was ok, she couldn't help herself by thinking that way. But that is the way people think. They think that fathers worry about their careers over their kids. And its true, many fathers do feel that way. Allow me to tell you about another situation I was in.

A number of years ago I had a patron of Fraunces Tavern ask me why I was still working as a Bouncer/Doorman at my age instead of working towards a good career (like he was doing on Wall Street). Once again, here came the assumptions of people coming out into the open. I asked him if he had children and he said yes. I'm not sure of how many, but I phrased my comment as so:

I have kids as well, sir. Working nights has given me that chance to experience things with my children that most men never get to see since they are working so hard on their careers. Six figures, a suit and a tie will never replace the memories of seeing my kids walk for the first time, hearing their first words, and having them spend most of their daytime hours with me than with a stranger. Can you say that you experienced these things while cramped in your office 10 hours a day?

His lack of a response was more than sufficient. So what am I trying to accomplish by all this. Maybe you'll think that I have a chip on my shoulder. I'll be the first to admit that I do. Sure it pisses me off when the school nurse will call me on my cellphone and ask for my wife when I am listed as the main emergency contact on the school's contact sheet. I know that old habits die hard but we need to change folks. I'll get off of my soapbox now folks.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tiger Woods and the Media

So Tiger Woods made his first public appearance to apologize for the whole affair situation. I've said since day one, the only people who should have been interested in this situation was his family and again, the only people he needs to apologize to are his family. Not the media and not the public, only his family. To me, the media jumped on this story like the pack of jackals that they often show themselves to be. I know some say that since Tiger is a public figure all bets are off. To that I say BULLSHIT. He's still a human being whose kids had to deal with the throngs of photographers taking continued pictures of them. They get scared as any kids would when surrounded by a crowd. I know mine would. So with that in mind, a certain part of his speech stood out to me. Here it is:

I have always tried to maintain a private space for my wife and children. They have been kept separate from my sponsors, my commercial endorsements. When my children were born, we only released photographs so that the paparazzi could not chase them. However, my behavior doesn't make it right for the media to follow my 2.5-year-old daughter to school and report the school's location. They staked out my wife and they pursued my mom. Whatever my wrongdoings, for the sake of my family, please leave my wife and kids alone.

Tiger's right. No matter how many women he slept with behind his wife's back, the bloodthirsty behavior by the media towards his family is unacceptable. Didn't the paparazzi learn from the death of Princess Diana? Didn't they learn of the dangers that can come from following someone excessively? The problem is that the media is selfish, only looking at their by-line and nothing more. Let people live and deal with their issues and problems on their own. Billions have done so without media intervention for centuries. Just report the news that needs to be reported.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tea Party and Carpetbaggers

I'm going to take a bit of a political bent with this post. Now for those of you who don't know me very well, I'm not one to really discuss politics in public. But for this I'm going to make an exception.

1. The Tea Party Movement
Regardless of the points that the Tea Party tries to make and the methods that they use to bring their points to life is irrelevant at this moment. What I want to focus on is how important this movement is to changing the political landscape of this country. I believe that the American political process has become monopolized by the two party system thereby stagnating said system. What I believe that we need are multiple parties represented in both the Senate and the House of Representative at the Federal level and among the State and Local houses of government. As it is, many people feel that their views and thoughts aren't being addressed by their representatives, who use their power and influence to push through their own agendas. Also, voters would rather not vote Republican or Democrat since they feel that either party isn't looking out for their best interests. So what to do?

I think people forget that as this country started to grow and develop the political process grew to represent different views. As with the examples of the Congessional Elections from 1828 to 1866 you had a minimum of three parties represented in Congress with the Congressional election of 1850 and 1858 having five parties (not including independents) gaining seats in Congress. Even the Congressional Elections during the Depression Era were marked by four or five different parties gaining seats. So why not now. Why should the American people in this country feel that their vote is being wasted and their voice is being ignored by their representatives. Is the Tea Party the model? To be honest I'm not sure. But hopefully they are the beginning of the shift from the two party system standard.

2. Carpetbaggers
This is something that has always bothered me. It seems that in the last 50 years or so that New York State has become the stepping stone to higher political office for people from other states rather than resident New Yorkers. This is currently being seen in the example of former Representative Harold E. Ford, Jr. of Tennessee. Though he has yet to decide to throw his hat in the ring for the Junior Senator seat of New York in the U.S. Congress (currently being held by Congresswoman Kirsten E. Gillibrand) the debate is raging about what makes a New Yorker. You kiddingly hear from those who have emigrated from other states into New York that it takes five years of living here before you officially become a New Yorker. I'm not sure what qualifications the state uses before declaring someone a New Yorker, but just setting up shop here with a mailing address should not be enough. Take Hillary Clinton as an example.

It seemed as if she moved to Chappaqua, New York and immediately announced her intentions to run for the same seat that Congresswoman currently holds. The same can be said about former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Give Harold Ford credit, he's been living in New York City for three years paying taxes before anyone even heard of his wanting to run for the Senate. What happened to the days of Al Smith and Thomas Dewey working here in the city, earning their names walking, working and sweating on our streets. The last person to do so in that manner was Rudolph Giuliani who a U.S. Attorney and Mayor of New York City. Like the Frank Sinatra song says "If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere". I guess it is easier for some to just add New York to their resume so they can move on up the ladder rather than trying to make it "anywhere"

Monday, February 15, 2010

A couple of funny Valentine's Day stories

Funny Story #1

While taking the A train down to work (I know. I live nowhere near the A train. How I got to the A train is not a funny story) this young couple gets on the train. The young lady proceeds to take a baking dish covered with aluminum foil from her bag and opens it. It is full with homemade cookies. She begins to ask people on the train (yours truly included) if we wanted some Valentine's Day Chocolate cookies that she baked earlier today. Umm, doesn't she know that the residents of NYC who ride the subway have learn the art of looking through people on the subway and not make any eye contact let alone take cookies from a stranger on the subway? When everyone (including your humble narrator) politely declined to take a cookie, she looked genuinely surprised and disappointed. Ah, the naivete of some people.

Funny Story #2

So this guy comes into the bar with this chick. Now this guy has come in before and he is a major ballbuster. He never tips and he never asks for his drinks with any kind of courtesy. He always says "I want a" or "gimme a", so to return the favor of his "courteous" behavior, I make it a point to ID him and whomever he comes in with. So I proceed to ID him and his date. He's born in 1971. No issues there, but she was another story. She shows me an ID, It says that she's a student from Bronx Community High School. Umm, I'm not sure if they realize but High School ID cards are not a proper form of ID to try to get into a bar. And the dude has the nerve to get upset. I mean really fool, she's showing me a High School ID. HIGH SCHOOL!!!!

So after they leave they try to come back in and she shows me a New York State Learners Permit. It says she was born in 1991. 1991!!!! I was a sophomore in college in 1991. I mean to each his own but damn, the girl, who by the way didn't look 18 was 18. 18!!!!! So let's do the math, shall we. He was born in 1971, and she was born in 1991. So that means he's 20 years older. Dude, can't you find a woman who's of legal age to drink? Do you have really to troll around High Schools to find a woman? C'mon now.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Yorkers have become Snow Wimps

You know, I have to agree with my friend Dorie and her Facebook status update. Here it is:

Just because it is snowing does not mean this is a blizzard. Have we as New Yorkers been so pampered in these last years that one flake of snow sends us screaming and flailing in fright?? Come on!! I'm embarrassed to share a city with you. GIVE. ME. SNOW.

So the wife, the kids and I go to Pathmark yesterday to buy things in case the snow gets too bad and to be honest, our shelves were somewhat bare. And yes, the schools were already slated to be closed due to the impending snow but never did I expect to see what I saw. As I entered the supermarket, I see lines everywhere...and I mean everywhere. It seemed as if the "stout" and "strong" people of the Bronx were dealing with the end of the world. It was utter madness. I should have just turned around and gone back home. But since we were there, why not just go through with it. What a mistake.

The shelves were ransacked with merchandise and produce just thrown around all over the place. People were jockeying for positions on lines, yelling, cursing and it was getting rather brutal. I sent my wife and the kids to McDonalds to wait for me while I waited to use a self-service line. Here's where it gets "funny".

So it seems that instead of using a service entrance/aisle to bring merchandise in, the Pathmark employees chose to bring shopping cars full of stuff through the front of the store asking to cross through all of the aisles full of shoppers. And of course they chose right where I was standing to navigate. For those of you who know me I'm not a small person. I take up space and if someone is trying to get by, I just can't nudge myself over. I have to completely move out of the way. And I do so.

As I'm trying to get back, a woman starts to berate me. She says that everytime I move, people cut into her line and in front of her. I say what do you want me to do, the Pathmark people are coming through here where I'm standing. She says don't move. What am I an animal? I'm going to say I'm not moving? C'mon now. So as I try to explain myself to her, she's like don't raise your voice to me. Now I've already had a real bad week and the last thing I need is for someone to dance on this frayed last nerve I have. So as I usually do (and it won't happen too many times in the future) I take the high road and apologize (for nothing that I did wrong) just to shut this woman up before I do something that I would otherwise regret. In a smug tone she says "Good and have a good night" as the other people on the lines yell out "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" a-la The Jerry Springer show. Really, I can't make this up people. Now you see why I complain about the area where I live.

Yeah, in her ghetto donkey mentality she got one over on me. F$ck you and the high ghetto horse you rode in on. To make a situation worse, a few minutes later, another woman started yelling out to the people on the lines "Lets all just leave with our stuff. Pathmark can't stop all of us from taking what we want". Damn woman, that is how riots get started and people get trampled. Luckily no one was stupid enough to take her up on her offer though as I looked around, some people seriously contemplated it.

I have to tell you. I deal with @ssholes all day at work and for me to deal with it on my free time just pisses me off. I treat people with respect at all times (even when I throw them out of the bar or not let them in) so I expect the same. Last night was the last straw. Never again will I place myself in that predicament. Pathmark on Bruckner Boulevard will never get my money. Ever! I rather overpay at the Associated down by Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place and shlep it all the way home on the train burdened by shopping bags and know that I'll be treated with respect as I always have been there.

And all that was due to was to a little bit of snow that we have gotten today. F'n wimps.

Friday, February 5, 2010

To Print or Not to Print

I have a saying I like to use every so often. History is doomed to repeat itself. Ok, I didn't come up with this little pearl of wisdom. But I do stand behind it. I firmly believe that humans are likely to repeat the failures of the past rather than the successes. Why? I believe that it is easier to fail and fall back on the mistakes rather than being proactive and blaze a new path towards success. So what does this have to do with printing or not printing as how my title suggests. Allow me to elaborate.

In today's New York Times, there was an article called Rebuffing Scholars, Germany Vows to Keep Hitler Out of Print by Nicolas Kulish. The article describes the upcoming situation with the expiration of the copyright on Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. Copyright law allows for the rights of the copyright to be valid 70 years after the death of the author. Which puts the date of expiration of Mein Kampf's copyright at the year 2015. The Bavarian government has held possession of the copyright since Hitler's suicide at the end of World War II. In essence there are two schools of thought on the topic. One side is the government who is vehemently opposed to the printing of the book in Germany both out of respect to those killed by the Nazis duing the Holocaust and in respect to German law which prohibits the dissemination of Nazi theories, ideologies and images (among others). The other side is led by The Institute of Contemporary History which is located in Munich. Their stance is that there should be a critical, annotated version of the book which would be printed after the copyright expires. By printing a scholarly version, the institute looks to oppose any volumes that would be printed by Neo-Nazi forces. So what does this have to do with me. Allow me to elaborate.

Going back to my original statement of "History is doomed to repeat itself", I believe that by prohibiting the publication of this book, Germany is prone to repeat the mistakes of the past rather than curbing them. Why not use the book as a teaching tool. The book is easy to find through many outlets here in the United States such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So if someone in Germany wanted to get the book badly enough they can. Why let people sneak around to get a book when the Bavarian government can make a statement of printing a version that can be educational and at the same time respectful of the dead. To be honest, the book's printing will undoubtedly offend someone. The materials can be spun to reflect the opinion of any group. That can be said about any book. But with a book of this nature, it is imperative that if it is published, it should be through an educational lens.

I read Mein Kampf during my undergraduate years for a class (which one I don't remember) and I have to admit that it was downright scary. But I believe that the banning and censoring of books and knowledge is scarier.