Sunday, December 25, 2011

X-Mas 2011

I swear having children makes X-Mas even more fun than it was when I was little, if that's even possible. Audrey had so much fun these past two days. She pretty much passed out tonight when we put her in her new big girl bed tonight, much to our relief. We always pictured her first night in the new being her running around in her room and us having to put her back to bed 100 times. Luckily for us she's awesome and exhausted.

She is such a lucky little girl and we don't take that for granted. She already had more toys than she could play with and now it's had a significant percentage added to it. I think the real challenge as she grows older will be how to get her to truly appreciate what she has and to never take it for granted. We want to have her donate some of her things to charity and see that there are people less fortunate than her and show her how she can help them.

As for the big girl bed. We converted her crib into a toddler bed with a bumper rail on the side so she can now climb in and out. It's hard to believe she's there already. I know it's cliche to say that kids grow up fast but it's so shocking as an adult of static size and intellect to see how much and fast a person can change.

Well I am totally drained from the weekend's festivities and from playing Rocksmith so this entry will be brief. It was just some thoughts I wanted down for posterity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rubber Band Effect.

So I think with the Winnipeg Jets re-entering the NHL you are seeing an undeniable NHL rubber band effect. With the massive expansion of the NHL from 18 teams to 30, to the move south of a few teams in that time in the late 80's early 90's you are finally seeing where the NHL has overstepped its bounds.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do or donuts, there is no try.

So my daughter has a severe peanut allergy and thus cannot have any bakery goods, especially donuts, due to the proximity to loose peanuts. It's really sad; not only will she never be able to eat Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or PB&J, she can't have a Timmy Ho's donut.

Well we've decided not to let her live deprived of some of the tasty treats we all get to enjoy. So we bought a donut pan and last night I made some for the first time. I spent some time finding a good recipe to try. I settled on this recipe. It was a challenge since it involved using yeast, which I've never cooked with before. Jaime helped me out a lot figuring out some of the more confusing parts with the yeast and getting them ready for the oven.

I started the donuts after we put the baby to sleep, around 7:30 pm and didn't finish until 11:30. I made about three dozen. There was more dough but I figured how much more do we need? In the end I decided that the dough looked and tasted a lot like pizza dough so we may just wind up buying a ball of fresh dough from Wegman's next time and using that instead.

I did make them with organic flour and sugar plus there was not a lot of sugar in the recipe, so I felt better about them than most donuts. I did coat them in sugar glaze or cinnamon and sugar, so it's not like they were sugar free. But they're donuts so they can't be too good.

It was a very gratifying and educational experience and they baby devoured them in the morning which was awesome! Next time I make them I want to focus on presentation. These donuts were a little busted looking and had very plain toppings. Next time I'd like to try my had at something like this. I also want to make a gourmet cake, from scratch, for her birthday.

I have a fantasy to start a bakery that specializes in making goods for people with allergies so they can enjoy safe and delicious treats like the rest of us. As far as I know there is nothing catering to that niche in Western New York.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Brad Richards

This is going to be my first sports related entry. NHL free agency kicked off yesterday. In what is described as a "Weak free agent class" the Buffalo Sabres made three moves, 2 before July 1st. In picking up two veteran D-Men in Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff and budding Sabre-killer Ville Leino the Sabres showed they mean business in building a Cup contender.

Welcome to the Terry Pegula Era. Thank god almighty, Darcy Regier is free at last!

Gone are the days of signing Rob Niedermayer as the big move. Even further gone is losing both of your team captains within moments of the free agency start. The Sabres were bold. They went out determined to add veteran leadership, playoff experience and grit to their team. No matter how you feel about the moves they accomplished their goals.

All three additions have been to the Stanley Cup Finals, albeit all three lost in said Finals. That should keep them hungry though. Ehrhoff is an offensive addition to the blue line. Regehr a punishing defensive addition. They will add tons of experience to a very young defensive corps.

Are the moves perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination. As previously stated it was supposedly a weak class. The Leino move is a gamble. Can he be a #1 or even #2 center? Is $4.5 million a year too much for a guy with only 30 career regular season goals and never more than 19 in one season? These questions will be answered for sure.

This leads me ultimately to Brad Richards. Stanley Cup Champion and Conn Smythe winner with Tampa, Richards was the bona fide cream of the free agent crop. True to previous years the coveted free agent went to the ever free spedning New York Rangers. The deal is reportedly for 9 years and $58 million, an annual cap hit of $6.5 million or 10% of the salary cap this year.

Yesterday he lead a media frenzy from his agent's office in Mississauga, ON in a reported bidding war only to sign with the Rangers who were supposedly the front runner all along. He strung out teams and ran the price up. Respected hockey reporter Darren Dreger reported on twitter that the Calgary Flames offered 9 years $65 million. So in the end Richards didn't sign for the highest amount possible, nor did he make the Rangers match the offer.

In my opinion Richards was doing one of, or both of two things. Either he was putting on a show while never intending to sign anywhere else besides the Blue Shirts, in which case Darcy made the smart choice in not driving to Ontario. This point should be troubling to Rangers fans. If he truly believed they were the best choice should he have even negotiated with anyone else? That leads into; maybe he was waiting to see if a team could truly blow the Rangers offer away which would definitively defeat his claim that he wanted to go to "a hockey market with an opportunity to win." Already the Rangers are loaded with an annual cap hit of $20.875 million between Gaborick, Lundqvist and Richards alone.

Had the Sabres taken part in and won the bidding war they would almost certainly have damaged the future of the franchise. That contract signed by Richards in Buffalo could have meant Tyler Myers being traded or allowed to be snatched up to an offer sheet next year. In my opinion Myers is the franchise. He may someday win the first Norris Trophy in team history. Only three of the last 11 Cup winners did not have a Norris winner on their roster. In contrast only one Cup Champion since the end of the lockout has had a Vezina winner between the pipes.

The future may prove me wrong but the Rangers will be lucky to make the playoffs let alone win the Stanley Cup with that team. Don't forget they owe Chris Drury $5 million to never play for them again. How much will they owe Brad Richards, who is 31 now and will be 40 at the end of the contract, when his body begins to degrade and they have to buy him out.

I think Darcy Regier is to be commended on the moves. In the end they may not work but the franchise won't be crushed if that happens and Buffalo is closer to being a destination for Cup hungry hockey stars.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


A reply I posted on another site tonight:

I lean left. To a tea partier though I might look like a commie. I think there is a problem with people in the media like Rush that have been pushing the debate further to the right making the center look left. I blame Clinton, a pro corporate consolidation, free trade Democrat. He signed laws allowing for media consolidation. If Republicans truly had their eyes open they would have loved Clinton. It’s the anti-regulation, pro-greed Republicans that hated him and spread ideas that he was a leftist.

I’m more convinced now than ever that Republicans in congress WANT to return us to the Gilded Age or 1920, all wealth and power in the hands of the very few. They complain about wealth redistribution while simultaneously lowering taxes on the most wealthy amongst us and cutting social programs and laws meant to protect workers from abuse. The sad part is that corporate media is complicit in the robbery. Corporate media doesn’t have an interest in reporting unbiased news, they want ratings which equal profits. Plain and simple. Republicans claim to want to balance the deficit but when they’re in power they have shown time and again they want no such thing! Perfect example: right now they want to cut spending but military spending is off the table. How else are all those munitions manufacturers and private security firms supposed to make unfettered profits on death and destruction?

I am sick and goddamn tired of the lies spread in our media where middle class workers and union members are disparaged by billionaires or people speaking on their behalf (knowingly and unknowingly). Do you know how high a 1 billion dollar stack of cash would be? Over a mile high if it was a stack of $100 bills! And these are the people lobbying congress for lower taxes, offshore tax havens, free trade and bank bailouts! They fire workers by the thousands and increase profits and still get multi-million dollar bonuses when their companies fail. It’s infuriating.

I do not dismiss the Tea Party. I think they are dangerous in two ways. 1. They are wildly misinformed people being whipped into a frenzy and a lot of them own guns. 2. They vote.

Everyone is so damn greedy and concerned about what programs poor people can access they don’t see the profits of their hard work swallowed by corporate executives. And if I hear one more person say that our corporate taxes are too high I might vomit.

Another bit that might cause me to retch: lower taxes = higher jobs. Not true. A company making profits having to pay less taxes means more profits for shareholders, not more jobs. 10 years of the Bush Tax cuts have shown us this. “Tax cuts may comfort the comfortable, to quote consultant Robert Shrum, but there’s not a convincing case that they result in new jobs.”

They claim to be supply and demanders but if that’s true the market sets demand and demand requires jobs, in spite of taxes. Greed and no tariffs will send the jobs to the places where corporations and pay people the least. Do we want to compete with workers in China or Vietnam on a level playing field?

Friday, March 18, 2011


In the 140 character, sound bite society we live in today I doubt anybody will read the things I write here. That's not my purpose, though if someone did read this and appreciated my ideas, great!

This blog is more for personal reasons. I have a lot of thoughts that I sometimes need to feel out. When I put thoughts to paper, as it were, I sometimes find it easier to organize them and find insights I otherwise wouldn't.

I love sports, politics, movies, gadgets, gardening, and most of all my family. All of these topics and more will most likely make appearances here. If you're reading this feel free to leave comments.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Losing Faith in Humanity

I've been into politics for nearly my entire adult life. I have followed closely the debates of the day. I have developed my opinions through thoughtful introspection. I believe my current thinking has matured though that journey and I have a solid grasp on what we are dealing with as a society. I don't like what I'm seeing.

Let me start by saying that I do think this country is great. There are few places on Earth where a person has the potential and quality of life we enjoy here. That is not to say that I think our country is perfect. Far from it. But it's still a great place to live, for now.

Being a student of history I know that our country has a long and colorful history with contentious political debate. That political debate while usually peaceful has too often gotten violent. Nasty debates born from entrenched ideology, religion and in certain cases bigotry often have negative effects on society. Economic class warfare and how our economy should operate have been fought since the founding of our nation. The fights often take decades or longer to resolve themselves due to a constitutionally limited government that makes such changes slow. This is sometimes a good thing and at other times frustrating and slow.

Disclaimer: What follows is not cited. I may decide at some point to cite references and clarify the few numbers I've used. The numbers I use are from statistics I've read in that past but didn't feel like looking up. They are not meant to be taken literally, but to be used to make a point. That's the nice thing about this blog, it's not an academic paper.

At two periods in our history the debate moved too slow to prevent catastrophe. The debates over slavery started during the founding of the nation, continued through the writing of the constitution and were not settled until the Civil War took over 600,000 lives. Our civil debate was so polarized that we could not come to the right solution to end slavery without war. This was and remains the worst stain on our nations history.

The second period is less apparent today. The Gilded Age was an era of massive economic expansion in America that saw the United States rise to near super power status and had nearly all the wealth concentrated in the hands of a very few. Where corporations enjoyed nearly unlimited power and the wealthy prospered the poor languished in destitution. Tenements abounded as the poor struggled to feed their families and keep their children clothed and out of factories. The middle class was a small minority of white collar workers and managers enjoying neither immense wealth or poverty. It took the Great Depression and The New Deal to solve these systemic problems.

What I can't understand for the life of me is how we cannot seem to remember the lesson of the Gilded Age and the Great Depression. The country was rescued by liberal policies and government spending. Security was put in place for the masses. Monopoly was outlawed. A graduated income tax ensured that if you were lucky enough that you could afford it you paid more.

I know that the wrecked economies of Europe and Asia Post World War II gave us an amazing advantage. But the fact of the matter is that in the 1950's, a period of amazing prosperity, a family could afford a house on a single income and union membership was well over 25% and at it's highest level ever. The rich still prospered but a CEO made 20-40 times what a worker made, not nearly 500 times like they do today.

Let's get one thing straight, I'm no communist. I don't begrudge a smart risk taking businessman his or her payday. But is there no limit to greed and wealth hoarding?

Since then business motivated by greed has constantly attacked working people. Lobbyists work non-stop to gain more tax loop holes and lucrative trade deals for their already obscenely wealthy clients. That this happens is almost not debatable. Why educated and patriotic Americans do the bidding of people and corporations actively trying to outsource their jobs and steal their pensions is absolutely beyond me.

Our trade barriers are gone. We are shipping our national wealth to Middle Eastern dictators and Chinese communists. We are shipping the jobs out of Americans to South America and Asia so we can buy cheaper T-shirts and so the corporations can keep more profits. How do people not see this? Of course union represented workers can not compete with poor laborers in China and Viet-Nam.

As I see it we can have it one of two ways. Either we have free trade where the American worker has to compete head to head with the third world worker. Guess who business will hire, Bob Smith for $25 per hour or Bao Xian in Vietnam for $2 per day? Or we have fair trade where we pay more for imports but they pay tariffs and the American worker gets his or her job with union benefits and a living wage. Oh this scenario also means American CEO's don't have to sell their declining businesses to overseas conglomerates.

Union membership is well below 10% today and the largest remaining groups of union members, civil servants, are under attack. The top 5% and especially the top 1% of wealthiest Americans control increasing more wealth (48.4% in fact) leaving less and less for the rest of us. People on the right like to talk about wealth redistribution to scare the uninformed but it is happening only in the opposite direction, middle to the top. We are living in a trickle up economy and to quote Ted Kennedy "When does the greed stop?"

This is in my opinion the biggest threat to America today. I just hope we solve it before it leads to bloodshed or a Second Great Depression. We got close the last two years. Remember there were smaller depressions and recessions before the last Great Depression.