Archive | February, 2008

New stuff and Old stuff

27 Feb

Three things:

1. Congratulations to the Geek family for the announcement of kid number two.

2. Congratulations to the Punaro family for the announcement of kid number one.

3. Geek has a post up soliciting your Buffalo story:

If you left, why did you leave?

Are you planning to move home or have you already taken the plunge? If so, why?

Did you move away and close the book on a future in Buffalo? If so, why?

If you are here and thinking of leaving, why?

If you never lived here before, why did you move here?

In August 2005, I posted this story, which explained in detail why I moved to Western New York. Here it is again, updated for 2007. Continue reading

Yes, but Are they Anti-Semantics?

27 Feb

Before last night, I respected Tim Russert as a legitimate, objective journalist. But last night he was pissing me the eff off.

First, it was the endless hypotheticals. Mrs. Clinton, let’s make-believe that Iran and North Korea conspired to take over Jordan and thereby launch a zweifrontenkreig with Iran against Iraq. Do you have a plan for that? It would have been nice for Tim to hit on actual, genuine issues. He did get in a Buffalo reference, asking Clinton how she plans to create 5 million jobs as President when she couldn’t create 200,000 for Buffalo. Clinton gave her standard response about how she made that promise in 2000 and expected Al Gore to be President; since Bush’s economic program was different.

Then there was were the Farrakhan questions.

Russert’s questions were significantly longer, to my ears, than Obama’s answers, but Russert challenged Obama to react somehow to Farrakhan’s endorsement. Obama, I thought, gave an excellent answer, saying he didn’t solicit or appreciate Farrakhan’s support of him, and denouncing Farrakhan’s long history of anti-semitic remarks. Then, wanting fireworks, Russert started to quote some of Farrakhan’s most despicable comments. Obama handily cut him off and repeated his denunciation.

Then, it was Hillary’s turn. She explained that she rejected the endorsement of New York’s Independence Party when she first ran because there were anti-Semites involved with it; she knew that she might take a hit for that, but thought it important to stand on principle.

It was a classless hit on Obama, and it was comparing apples to oranges.

Obama, to his credit, handled the question beautifully. He chuckled at Clinton’s semantics and said that, if it made everybody feel better, he would both “denounce” and “reject” Farrakhan’s support, and that he “conceded the point”. In other words, Tim – take your stupid question, and Hillary – take your stupid semantic argument, and shove them up your collective recta.

The apples and oranges? Well, Farrakhan is a retired anti-Semitic preacher who once led the Nation of Islam, but doesn’t anymore. He has no political organization, and his endorsement doesn’t amount to a whole lot.

On the other hand, the Independence Party is a political party. Minor thought it may be, it has influence through New York’s unique and anachronistic system of electoral fusion. If the IP didn’t back Hillary, it would have backed Lazio in a tight race.

I thought Hillary’s callback to the SNL skit last week where the press is treating Obama with kid gloves fell flat. You’re a candidate, not a comedian. Spare us the attempts at humor.

I thought the final question, where Brian Williams asked each candidate what the other needed to prove before they’d be qualified to be nominated, was trite and jejune. Each candidate handled it with aplomb, singing the other’s praises.

TPM was really incensed with Russert;
Andrew Sullivan disagrees, and thinks Obama didn’t handle the Farrakhan questions well.

What Is Your Buffalo Story?

27 Feb

As we prepare for Buffalo Homecoming 2008 (nee Buffalo Old Home Week), I thought it would be interesting to perform a completely unscientific and anecdotal research project. Each year, I endeavor with my cohorts to celebrate Buffalo. In years past, I think we spent too much time accentuating what Buffalo was and what we hope it can be in the future. This year, it’s a celebration about what Buffalo is today.

Our event lineup will be a bit different and there will be a lot of details coming out in the next few weeks regarding organizational changes, sponsorships, registration, and a host of other issues.

Today, I want to ask you a question that someone posed to me when they discovered my involvement with Buffalo Homecoming, “Why did you leave Buffalo and why did you come back?”

I’ll get to my answers in a bit, but there are some other questions as part of this “research project” as well.

  • If you left, why did you leave?
  • Are you planning to move home or have you already taken the plunge? If so, why?
  • Did you move away and close the book on a future in Buffalo? If so, why?
  • If you are here and thinking of leaving, why?
  • If you are thinking of leaving, what has to change for you to consider staying?
  • If you never lived here before, why did you move here?

On to my Buffalo Story…
I left Buffalo in 1996 after college to make my own future. I joined the US Air Force and wandered the nation and the world. I wanted to live beyond the horizon of my youth and explore new experiences. I never really considered coming home, it was just a place to reference as where I was born.

After a decade of working and living around the country, we settled in Chicago and prepared to make it our permanent place of residence. After two years in Chicago, I was presented with an opportunity to transfer home. Why? Because my company couldn’t find anyone to do what I do locally and they knew I about the only guy in the company who would consider a move to Buffalo. We weighed our options, figured it was a unique opportunity and thought we would leave after a year or two if things didn’t work out.

In the ensuing three years, my love affair with Buffalo has been a cruel mistress. Filled with hope and excitement about pending change, getting involved with organizations that were making a difference in the community, discovering that the pace of progress would be incredibly slow, and finding myself troubled by the lack of career options in a shrinking city. It’s been a roller coaster ride and I often wonder if I made the right decision to move home. On the flip side, we bought our first home, grew closer to our families, had a child, and met dozens of people who I know will be friends for life. We’ve also grown despondent about the economic future of our hometown and often wonder if we’re “settling” by staying here. It’s conflicting and I think the schizophrenic nature of this blog over these three years has detailed that journey…

So, I stay in Buffalo because I am hopeful. It is a hope that is grounded in reality with a healthy dose of pessimism about those who would promise to deliver solutions to our troubled region. I am disdainful of those who believe we can simply wish our problems away or that the renaissance is upon us. After all, we’re a couple hundred miles drive from a renaissance and our car is burning oil and the engine is making a loud knocking sound…

I stay in Buffalo because I want my children to understand the context of their family and learn about their roots. I believe that children need proximity to their extended family and be grounded in an understanding that where you are from is a significant part of the person you become. I want to show them where I grew up and learn about life as I knew it. To see the humble beginnings of the Clan Geek and to learn many of the lessons that living in a town like this can teach.

I stay in Buffalo because I have a good job. If that job ever goes away, all of that which I described in the previous paragraphs will have to be pushed aside. See, there just isn’t a big market for senior level information system architects in this town and when openings do develop, well, the salaries are below market value and not sustainable for me. So, I’d have to scurry back to Chicago or Boston to make a living or start my own company in Buffalo which would require too much personal risk when one is supporting a young family.

So, I am a tenuous believer in Buffalo and stay while completely ignoring my potential for career growth. Am I crazy? Probably. But for some reason, this city is a part of who I am and it’s where I belong right now. I took the risk to move home and the rewards have so far outweighed the costs.

I’d love to hear your personal Buffalo story…

Baby Geek 2: Electric Boogaloo

27 Feb

That’s right, Mrs. Geek and I were not satisfied with only one child, we’re upping the ante and going for two. Being environmentally friendly parents, this should complete our collection of children as we try to stay carbon neutral on contributing people to the planet…

Baby Geek 2:  Electric Boogaloo premieres August 23rd.

Baby Geek is a little unsure as to what this means for his role as King of the Castle and primary sipper of Dad’s beer.

BuffaloGeek and WNYMedia, re-populating Buffalo, one baby at a time.

Guy From Channel 7 Doesn't Believe in this Oscar Bullshit…

26 Feb

Embedding doesn’t work, so you’ll have to click through.

Elevated Expressways

26 Feb

Toronto will be sponsoring a public art competition that might make some in Buffalo cringe. Because they don’t think creatively.

Though it’s possible for one to interpret its blue-green turquoise underbelly as reference to the clean and sparking waters that attacking American ships sailed in on during the War of 1812, the City of Toronto has initiated a public art competition to better mark the shoreline, and the winning and short-listed entries are on view this Thursday during an open house.

Most remarkable about this competition is that the Gardiner itself is being used in the selected artwork. Though it may send shivers down the engineering and roads departments from a technical point of view, this is a major first step in activating the underside of the Gardiner and hopefully more sections will follow. Once that happens, and the underside of the expressway is made pedestrian friendly and welcoming, we might just forget it’s up there

The winning entry, called “Watertable” will be unveiled on Thursday:

The concept WATERTABLE reveals the original shoreline of Lake Ontario and creates the look of shimmering water, appearing to float under the surface of the Gardiner Expressway. It is a beacon not only for the new entrance to Fort York, but also for the revitalization now underway of its entire underdeveloped 43-acre site in anticipation of the Bicentennial celebrations of the War of 1812. Fort York, the birthplace of Toronto, is being restored and redeveloped to reflect its enormous importance as a national historic site and to provide much needed parkland for the communities rapidly emerging around it.

I’m still astonished how Toronto can grow and thrive in spite of that “scar” Gardiner on its waterfront. Premier McGuinty, tear down this wall! *Sniff*

Property Auction

26 Feb

Here’s a place you can pick up near Santa Barbara, if you’re so inclined.

Bad News and Hope

26 Feb

Between the Studio Arena shuttering and going into bankruptcy, American Axle workers striking, DeJac’s lawsuit, there seems to be a dearth of good news here in the Buffalo area. Studio Arena is hit with a shrinking, aging population that doesn’t have the disposable income to go to shows all the time. It’s also competing for philanthropic dollars along with every other non-profit in town. American Axle? Lucky to still be in business and manufacturing in the US. This strike won’t do much to perpetuate either.

So, look north. The Niagara Falls Reporter’s David Staba talks with new mayor Paul Dyster. That’s a city that has a smart, hard-working Mayor who isn’t beholden to special interests and isn’t filling posts with patronage appointments. He figures that whole “merit” thing counts for something. Politically, Niagara Falls is head and shoulders above Buffalo when it comes to a real possibility for change in the near and far term.

Obama in Foreign Garb – Everybody Panic!

25 Feb

Hillary Clinton’s campaign today circulated this photograph of Barack Obama, and they call it the “dressed” photo.

The photo was taken in Kenya in 2006 during Obama’s 5-country trip to Africa, and he’s dressed as a Somali elder. The Obama campaign reacted:

“On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election. This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world.

They’re referring to the email that had been circulated earlier in the campaign, alleging that Obama is a Muslim “Manchurian” candidate.

The Hillary Clinton campaign then said:

If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.

“This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry. We will not be distracted.”

K.

So why, pray, did the Clinton campaign circulate it?

Sam Hoyt on Al Coppola

25 Feb