This is one of my favorite pictures.
That was at the CBA Mothers’ Review in 2006. It’s the JROTC’s major ceremony of the year, during which the students parade, command is passed to the younger class, and the mothers are invited onto the field to “inspect” their sons. In many ways it’s a more emotional and significant event than graduation.
And then there are the cigars.
I don’t know how it started, but it’s tradition for the seniors to light stogies after they toss their hats in the air at the end of the ceremony — except this tradition is now forbidden by the administration. Agree or disagree, no smoking on school property means no smoking, but that didn’t stop a herd of students from migrating across the street, where they lit up off school property.
I don’t know what’s sillier: smoking the cigars or telling the kids they can’t do it. There’s no harm really — except to that parent who wades into the cigar smoke to take a picture — he might walk away feeling a bit queasy.
Books are supposed to be on paper — and a printed book will never have its battery die on you. That was my rallying cry against ebooks — until I actually started reading them. Now I’m hooked.
After several months with the iPad Mini, I’m reading more than before. It’s not just the convenience of downloading the books, but the device itself improves the reading experience. For example, now when I fall asleep while reading, I don’t lose my place. How great is that?
There is one down side: if you’re like me, you like to pass along a book you enjoy to another reader — but there’s no doing that with ebooks. Now find myself buying books twice, once digitally and once on paper.
That said, allow me to recommend a few books you might like to buy twice.
I’ve read two great books, one after the other, by Mitchell Zuckoff: Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time. Both are true stories from World War II about plane crashes, survival, and daring rescues. Each book is filled with larger than life characters — and Zuckoff’s storytelling is terrific.
The third book is That’s That, a coming of age memoir by Colin Broderick about growing up in Northern Ireland. This is not the bleak stuff of Angela’s Ashes; Broderick’s book has its dark moments but it’s also very funny — and captures teenage angst better than anything I’ve ever read. It’s also really opened my eyes to The Troubles, something many Americans of Irish descent love to talk about, but really don’t understand.
So read on, and don’t be afraid to go paperless. Just be aware that you may find yourself buying more books, some of them twice.
My policy at home is if I find money in the wash, it’s mine. But the kids aren’t the only ones who don’t empty the pockets of their dirty clothes.
A while back I washed and dried a USB stick, and to my surprise, it worked just fine afterward. This week, I conducted another accidental experiment and ran an SD card through the laundry.
This one had me worried, because there were some important pictures on the card — and when I realized it was missing I knew exactly what had happened and raced for the basement.
It was in my shirt pocket, a very stupid place for an SD card, so it would have served me right to lose it or ruin it — but thank God it still worked. Somebody up there likes me.
I worry about digital media constantly and I’m trying to figure out the foolproof solution to keeping it safe. Sure, these little cards are precarious, but so are the hard drives where we keep things permanently. Do we trust cloud storage? Should we have a copy online and keep a hard copy? Who knows.
Nothing is is forever. Do what you can to protect things, to keep them from being washed away, but try not to let it make you crazy.
The death watch at St. Patrick’s church in Watervliet seems to go on forever.
Unwanted by the Albany Diocese, the St. Patrick’s property was sold off to a developer, and where people once prayed, they now will shop. Yes, I suppose it’s a little sad; the building holds many memories — and in terms of the environment, a nice old church has more eye appeal than a supermarket. By the time you read this, it will most likely just be a pile of rubble.
When it comes to buildings like this, everything’s relative. In our young country a church built in 1891 seems ancient. In Europe, something constructed in 1891 would not be thought of as terribly old. When I visited Transylvania, there were truly historic churches everywhere, like the Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral, which was completed in 1520. Now that’s old!
Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral
Naturally, the St. Patrick’s demolition has turned into a media orgy, with some stories bordering on the ridiculous, like apparation of a “face” on the wall. Could it be St. Patrick? We’ll never know.
One funny thing about all this, though: throughout the week, local news outlets have had to station photographers at the church, because nobody wants to be the guy who missed the bell tower coming down. Are we sentimental or do we just like watching buildings demolished. I’m voting on the latter.
There was once a meeting at the TV station where we talked about the changing way people view our product. This was more than three years ago, the prehistoric age of online viewing, and one mid-level manager blurted out, “Hell, my favorite show is 30 Rock. I’ve never watched a single episode on our station, just on Hulu and NBC.com!”
This was another one of those times when that mid-level manager should have kept his mouth shut, a practice he never adequately learned, and one that might have helped him advance his career.
Which brings us to Mad Men. For some reason I never watched the AMC hit, despite its reputation as one of televison’s best shows — until I recently discovered it on Netflix. Now I’ve covered something like 60 episodes in less than a month.
It was the same with Breaking Bad, another incredible show that I’d never seen — and for weeks it was all I watched.
Much of this viewing has been done on the iPad — on my phone, even — at unconventional times and now and then in unusual places. Yes, in the bathroom. I know you’re wondering.
Watching online isn’t just about catching up; my favorite new show is The Americans — and I haven’t seen it when it was originally airing on FX.
It’s true that some shows are so compelling or popular that fans can’t wait to see what happens next and tune in for their first broadcast, but the age of appointment viewing is on life support. I’m not sure what this will mean for network affiliates and cable channels; some will figure it out, and others will fail.
The theory of six degrees of separation is alive and well.
Take this for example: yesterday I read in All Over Albany about a documentary project that will look at the neighborhood obliterated by the construction of the Empire State Plaza.
They ripped down a thriving section of town and carted it away; now it’s entombed in the area east of Frisbie Avenue. Me and my son, like amateur archaeologists, used to find bits and pieces of the demolition debris as we prowled the site of the former landfill near our house in Albany. We once discovered a half-buried doll’s head. Creepy!
Then, I read of the abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands who, as legend has it, inspired Governor Nelson Rockefeller to spruce up Albany by gutting a huge swath of the city and building the South Mall. She was visiting while still just Princess Beatrix, and Rocky was embarrassed by shabby old Albany, or so the story goes.
Queen Beatrix, directly linked to one of America’s most notorious urban renewal projects — and a new film!
I hope you’ll join me and throw a few bucks into the pot for the documentary, titled The Neighborhood That Disappeared. Among the filmmakers is the talented local actor John Romeo, who worked for years at the NYS Theatre Institute. John was also the voice behind the TV work I’m most proud of, things that would have been quite mediocre if not for his great talent.
If you ask me, the former queen should also pony up some money, wouldn’t you say?
Technology that you once read about in science fiction is now disposable.
Look at this RFID device I saw on the sidewalk. It wasn’t long ago that this would blow people’s minds: a small device that could fit nearly anywhere and track almost anything.
To quote Oscar Madison, “Now it’s garbage.”
And that RFID is a just a small thing. You probably have old computers, cell phones, game systems and things kicking aroung in your house – all miraculous stuff that’s now obsolete. Our trash is now better than any technology of twenty years ago.
When something as interesting as that RFID thingy is stuck to the sidewalk like an old piece of chewing gum, then we must really be going places.
Parents know what it’s like to rush from work to ball games and school events. Maybe you don’t have to be there, but it’s the right thing to do.
I was already destined to be late for a lacrosse game this week because it was all the way in Amsterdam and scheduled to start at 4:30. It didn’t help to get out of work an hour late, but I said I’d be there. After driving like hell to get there, I rolled in with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But my son’s team looked a bit smaller for some reason — and the coach, who can usually be heard from the parking lot, seemed oddly reserved. Maybe some of the kids couldn’t make it. Weird. And did the coach finally give himself laryngitis. Could be.
When the clock wound down and the PA announcer intoned, “And the final score… Amsterdam 6, LaSalle 9.”
Wait… LaSalle? I’m at the wrong game!
I’d been told early that morning that it was in Amsterdam — and don’t you know that Amsterdam’s uniforms are the same purple and gold as our own? It looked like I was in the right place, and I was so blissfully ignorant that I even took some pictures.
- I have no idea who this kid is…
So… eventually I figured out that the game was actually in Schenectady.
The take away here is always check and double check and check again. No big deal, though. I was at somebody’s game, and I guess that’s worth something.
Back when I marketed local TV news, I wrote that pithy little bit in today’s headline. It wasn’t the traditional sort of sloganeering you see from TV stations, but unlike a lot of branding statements, it actually said something. It was a tough sell, because people thought it was too long.
“It’s not that long,” I argued, “And it’s not long at all compared to what FedEx says: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
I always used to get a dirty look from my boss when I was right, and this was one of those times. Nevertheless, it didn’t take long for Nothing More Important to be killed off, largely thanks to our consultant at Frank N. Magid Associates. They didn’t like it. Magid, by the way, has done more to make news look exactly alike everywhere in America than anyone else.
Not that I need validation, but Ad Week did an interesting piece on the long vs. short slogan debate a few years ago. From the story by Al Ries:
In the 1920s, according to author Ken Roman, a London advertising agency (Mather & Crowther) created an advertising slogan to get consumers to “eat more fruit.” The eight unforgettable words they created were: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Today, of course, that same slogan would probably have been shortened to “Got Apple?”
Oh, well. All this is neither here nor there, except I couldn’t stop thinking about my slogan as the news was chock full of missteps and flubs by the media, reporting of an arrest in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Being first is good, but being right? There’s nothing more important.