Tag Archives: life of geek

Catching Up On The News

4 Feb

So, I am once again delinquent in my blogging duties.  Aside from a significant uptick in job duties due to massive layoffs at my day job, I am in the final stages of initial funding for a startup and am working with Marc to develop a new website.  I’m also married and have two kids.  KTHXBAI!!#@#

So, I’ve been busy.

A quick rundown on stuff I would have blogged about last week and this week if I had more time.  Perhaps I will revisit some of these things in a week or two.

New WNYMedia blog which focuses on upstate issues and recommends upstate secession.  Cool stuff.

– Along with a couple of other local techies, I am planning the first Buffalo BarCamp.  What is a BarCamp?  Glad you asked!

BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants. The first BarCamps focused on early-stage web applications, and related open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats. The format has also been used for a variety of other topics, including public transit, health care, and political organizing.

Essentially, smart people get in a room, set a loose agenda, break into groups and discuss/plan technology and ideas.  We’re hoping to use this as an early stage incubator for local tech startups.

– The Cleveland Common Council did something that is kind of unheard of around Buffalo, they got together and set an agenda for the year.  They laid out in measurable terms what they wanted to collectively accomplish in 2009.  Setting a strategic vision, laying out milestones of achievement and measuring progress is something that every governmental entity ought to do each year.  Legislators should be focused on big picture ideas and not focused on whether Mrs. Kaziejorski on Sobieski Street has a recycling bin.

With a set agenda, the Common Council can collectively work towards accomplishments with the state and federal delegations.  It’s also a step towards public transparency and accountability.  Win.

– We’ve spent and are spending over $100,000,000,000 on the reconstruction of Iraq.  The good news?  Well, there isn’t much.  The bad news?  Well, lots.

There are 154 open criminal investigations into allegations of bribery, conflicts of interest, defective products, bid rigging and theft in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, said Gimble, the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general.

Contracting scandals have happened for decades, but the scale of the dollars stolen from the US Government is beyond anything in history.  First thing the Obama Administration should look into is killing off Cost Plus contracts and forcing contractors to stay on budget with transparent accounting mechanisms.

Michael Steele as Chairman of the RNC?  As Jon Stewart put it on The Daily Show the other day…if Barack Obama is Tickle Me Elmo, Michael Steele is Giggle Time All-Mo.  A cheap knockoff.  In fact, he has been a steady failure at everything he has ever done before being elected to an office he wasn’t really qualified to occupy.  Kinda like George W. Bush.  Hope and Change!

– How much can the City of Buffalo and Erie County save by migrating away from desktop PC’s, Microsoft licenses, and proprietary desktop application software?  Well, the Army Intelligence Center saved $31MM by doing so.  Perhaps it’s an idea worth considering.  When we talk about cost cutting at the government level, we focus on the cutting of services, not reducing the cost of provisioning those services.   Sure, unions and onerous public employee contracts interfere with discussions about savings in personnel, but we can save money by reducing licensing and maintenance costs, lowering power consumption, enabling web services and virtualizing.

Jim Heaney at The Buffalo News (whose blog kicks a serious amount of ass) did a great job at detailing the inherent conflict of interest between public employee unions and state government.   I believe that state employee unions should be abolished or banned from lobbying or making donations to political campaigns.  No questions asked.

– Also, if you want to fix the problems in America, you need to fix the systemic infection, not the secondary systems.  Change Congress.

http://blip.tv/play/gbNQ0sRBiuYz

Monday Morning Kid Photos

26 Jan

I just felt like starting the week off on a positive note rather than delving right into the weekly political FAIL.  Here’s a couple of photos of the Baby Geeks.

Cole making the most awesome snowman ever.

Josie loves her exersaucer…

Baby Geek 2: Electric Boogaloo

14 Aug

Last week, I announced (with limited and mild fanfare) that I would erturn to active blogging.  About five days later, Mrs. Geek delivered our second child two weeks early.  So, blogging has been a bit light while we all attempt to find a new version of normal.

On August 6th, Josephine Charlotte Smith was born at 11:09PM.  All the right parts in the right places and both her and Mom are well.

Here’s her first blog appearance:

She had a visit in the hospital from her big brother Cole.  He was very excited to share the contents of his travel bag with her.

Here is Josie getting ready to go home

Cole was anxious to get her home

All snug at home in her bassinet

With her tiny little Big Bird feet

Josie gives us a half smile

Cole is adjusting well, he even got a new sippy cup from a friend

Did I ever mention how much he loves Brobee and Yo Gabba Gabba?

So, things are settling down at Casa Geek and I’ll be back to blogging in a few days.

What’s This? The Geek Is Gonna Blog?

29 Jul

 karate_kid.jpg

I announced my semi-retirement from long form blogging a few months back and moved into the short form blog world of Twitter and other lifestreaming applications.   I also said that I would write to the portal at wnymedia.net and that most of our other writers would be following suit.

Yeah, so that worked out pretty well.  /sarcasm

Anyhow, I’ll continue to write at this page, buffalopundit and the wnymedia.net frontpage just to keep you guessing as to where my content will show up.

Actually, we’re working on Version 16.4.2 of the WNYM online gameplan and we’re moving in some new and interesting directions.  Wait, who are we kidding?  We’ll start moving in a new direction, get distracted with a shiny object and change our minds again.  That’s how we roll around these parts.

As you now know, Alan and I created a bit of a dustup last week when we dared question the anti-casino opponents about their motives, organization, and cash flow.  Clearly, this means we hate Buffalo, we’re Pro-Seneca, love to gamble, are being paid through nefarious pro-casino backchannels, and any other sort of insult that has been thrown our way.

As you might imagine, this dustup has inspired me to again put fingers to keyboard on a regular basis.  This time around, it will be less about politics and more about local business, technology, and Old Buffalo’s hold on the region.  It should be fun.

In case you’re wondering about the title of the post, I watched The Karate Kid last night and it’s still in my “Top Five Terrible Movies That I Watch Regardless of Time, Place, Or Point In The Movie”.  Also on the list is Roadhouse, Tommy Boy, Bloodsport, Rocky III, and Rocky IV.  Yes, I know that’s six movies.  So what?

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What’s This? The Geek Is Gonna Blog?

29 Jul

karate_kid.jpg

I announced my semi-retirement from long form blogging a few months back and moved into the short form blog world of Twitter and other lifestreaming applications.   I also said that I would write to the portal at wnymedia.net and that most of our other writers would be following suit.

Yeah, so that worked out pretty well.  /sarcasm

Anyhow, I’ll continue to write at this page, buffalopundit and the wnymedia.net frontpage just to keep you guessing as to where my content will show up.

Actually, we’re working on Version 16.4.2 of the WNYM online gameplan and we’re moving in some new and interesting directions.  Wait, who are we kidding?  We’ll start moving in a new direction, get distracted with a shiny object and change our minds again.  That’s how we roll around these parts.

As you now know, Alan and I created a bit of a dustup last week when we dared question the anti-casino opponents about their motives, organization, and cash flow.  Clearly, this means we hate Buffalo, we’re Pro-Seneca, love to gamble, are being paid through nefarious pro-casino backchannels, and any other sort of insult that has been thrown our way.

As you might imagine, this dustup has inspired me to again put fingers to keyboard on a regular basis.  This time around, it will be less about politics and more about local business, technology, and Old Buffalo’s hold on the region.  It should be fun.

In case you’re wondering about the title of the post, I watched The Karate Kid last night and it’s still in my “Top Five Terrible Movies That I Watch Regardless of Time, Place, Or Point In The Movie”.  Also on the list is Roadhouse, Tommy Boy, Bloodsport, Rocky III, and Rocky IV.  Yes, I know that’s six movies.  So what?

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Hey, I’m over here!

4 Jun

Buffalo_Geek.jpg

In case you’re wondering where I’ve gone, you can now read my posts, articles, blatherings, etc. on the frontpage of this fine website.

WNYMedia

We have about ten people contributing to the portal and as always, we’ve got the latest videos from around Buffalo and WNY.

If you don’t wish to read other people’s ramblings and would prefer your browser be filled with all Geek, all the time…well, you can head over to my dedicated page on WNYMedia.net which has my archives. I will be slowly porting my archives from this page to the frontpage over the next couple of weeks.

See ya on WNYMedia!

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.

Random Musings For A New Year

31 Dec

Buffalo1877.JPG

With the holiday season nearing it’s closure and a new year upon us, I thought it was time to cobble together a random musings post which details where my mind is at right now as both a blogger and Citizen of Buffalo. It’s one part recap of 2007 and one part resolutions for 2008…

  • I thought 2007 would be the year in which Buffalo made some tremendous strides both politically and economically. Unfortunately, it was a lot like 2006, 2005, and 2004; Iterative progress which doesn’t amount to much of a “revolution”. Positive developments can be found if you look hard enough. However, when I look back on 2007, I don’t see much progress made on addressing the massive problems of poverty, urban blight, racism, vacant properties, and failing public education system that engulf vast swaths of our urban environment. I also see little progress being made on the statewide level to address our overbearing business costs, over regulation, excessive personal tax rates, corruption, abuse of taxpayer monies, unaccountable authorities, and unresponsive elected officials. It doesn’t inspire much hope for 2008. Hey, way to kick things off with a tidal wave of optimism, eh?
  • I can’t decide which politician has been a bigger disappointment to the people of Buffalo, Byron Brown or Eliot Spitzer. Frankly, I voted for neither, so I can’t say I’m surprised they have been massive disappointments. It seems as if Mayor Brown is looking to create as little ruckus as possible while he waits for Rep. Louise Slaughter to retire. Congress is calling, don’t want to rock the boat too much and piss off any potential constituencies! Spitzer seems to lack the ability to lead or build consensus. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who was an observer of his behavior as Attorney General. State Senator Joe Bruno has effectively neutered Spitzer and without a massive Mea Culpa, I don’t see a way for Spitzer to rebuild political capital to fight back or accomplish any of his ambitious agenda.
  • The proxy war for the Democratic Party in the City of Buffalo continues unabated between Sam Hoyt and Byron Brown. Shifting allegiances in party politics, control of the Common Council, control of district committeemen, control of patronage power, control of party messaging and candidates…all of it up for grabs as Hoyt and the Party square off against Byron and Grassroots. What does any of this matter in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely nothing and is a total distraction from the business of the people. See my first point about why 2007 was like any other year…
  • Tell Bashar Issa to give me a call when he gets something significant done over at the Statler. Until then, I’d like it if he’d stop with the grand proclamations about his massive design plans to reinvigorate the entirety of Buffalo proper. He is a walking silver bullet plan to the denizens of “New Buffalo” and it is growing execeedingly tedious. To belabor his efforts and support him vociferously every time he farts in our general direction makes us look small and insignificant.
  • Piggybacking on that, I’d like to define the difference between “efforts” and “results” for people in this town as it seems as if we are so disconnected from someone actually getting something done that we often confuse the two…
    • Results – Something tangible that comes from the conscious application of effort. Something to be celebrated.
    • Efforts – The work done to achieve a particular end. Not worth celebrating.
  • The reason that Niagara Falls has failed to derive any tangible benefits from their Casino has little to do with the actual casino itself. It has everything to do with incompetent and corrupt elected leadership and a lack of planning to build anything around the casino. How is it Barry Snyder’s problem that NFR and Cordish have done absolutely nothing with the property they own? People might go outside the casino if there was a place for them to go or something for them to do! The casino has generated millions in tax revenue for the city and they have done nothing with it to build or promote spinoff businesses around it.
  • Buildings, museums, and a “sense of place” do not create economic development. Pro-business policies, lower tax rates, and increased density do create economic development. It is not a chicken v. egg argument…the artistic culture and beautiful buildings we celebrate here and declare as our meal ticket are a vestigial tail of our early economic boom times. When we again increase density by luring people into our region with the promise of decent schools, lower taxes, and jobs…I’ll give a shit about curb cuts, mixed use retail, faux two story buildings, and the constant cycle of business openings/closings on two streets in Buffalo.
  • My Buffalonian of The Year award goes to Michael Gainer of Buffalo ReUse, not sure if his inclusion in this list of rants is a good or bad thing for him. However, each time I get the opportunity to catch up with Michael, I am impressed by his enthusiasm, energy, leadership skills, and results driven organization. He leads a talented group of volunteers who are bound and determined to take the communal liability of vacant properties and turn them into a model for job training, community pride, leadership development, and sustainable reuse. He stays out of the politics and focuses on results. However you can, please support their mission with a tax deductible donation, purchase of building materials at their new showroom, or volunteering your time.
  • I am optimistic about Chris Collins. I will not be holding him to an arbitrarily high standard of “non-politician” nor will I be troubled if his first year in office is spent getting his feet wet and he makes a few missteps. I voted for him as I thought he would bring a “think different” approach to the office of Erie County Executive. If he is going to be successful, he’ll have to play the game of politics on some levels to accomplish anything. He is dealing with a partisan and entrenched legislature that the citizens resoundingly support (based on vote totals) and he is going to need to work with an overbearing and uncooperative Control Board to create some semblance of progress. It’s gonna be a tough year.
  • I’m going to spend more time in 2008 documenting progress in Buffalo’s suburbs and the region as a whole. I am exhausted by the endless discussions and debates with the “creative class” when it comes to issues of progress, preservation, and economic development in our urban core. However, if someone wants to talk about a regional master plan for the waterfront, economic development, consolidation of IDA’s, rapid transit, abolition of the BMHA, regional housing plans, regional governmental consolidation of services and operations, count me in.
  • I’m hoping 2008 is the year in which we all stop trying so hard to agree and we start demanding tangible results from our legislators, councilmen, elected and non-elected leaders, and community activists. Everyone should be open to criticism and we should all demand better.
  • I’m hoping more people call me an asshole. I’m already on several political and cultural blacklists in this town due to my opinions and actions…let’s close that loop and make me persona non grata anywhere stupid ideas are thrown about.
  • Finally, something I’ve been wanting to say to the citizens of Buffalo for a long, long time…inspired by the words of Tyler Durden.  Buffalo, you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying northeastern urban city as found elsewhere. We do not have the market cornered on beautiful architecture, sense of place, good food, or anything else. We all love the shared context of having grown up here and we are proud to call our city home. It may be news to you, but the people of Chicago, Austin, Portland, Memphis, Louisville, Indianapolis, Dallas, and hundreds of other cities feel the same as you do…except for the fact that they are building, growing, and economically relevant to contemporary America. Meanwhile, we spend our time here looking to copy how other cities do things (ignorant of our own political/economic realities) and/or looking backward to a time when things were “good”. We need to shed this feeling that we are facing some sort of special situation and focus on creating wealth and looking ahead instead of behind. That is what will create a “New Buffalo”.

    Merry Christmas

    24 Dec

    Even bloggers need a day off…

    Today and tomorrow will be filled with Christmas tidings around Casa di Geek. Thus, I will most likely not be updating until Wednesday. In the meantime, enjoy some photos of Christmas cheer from our family to yours. Have a wonderful Christmas!

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