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Disappointing.

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I just committed the ultimate sin against Apple by opening my three-month old MacBook Pro Retina and expecting the screen to come to life so I could be productive. To accomplish my objective of using the computer, I wiggled my fingers on the trackpad, I stabbed at a few keys and waited a few moments. I then closed the lid and opened it back up, hoping something in my computer would awake so I could use my computer because, after all, “It Just Works”.

After about 60 seconds of desperation, I held down the power key to force the computer to shut down and then powered up from scratch. Once logged in, I was reminded that I turned the computer off in an inappropriate manner and was asked if I wanted to restore my session. Historically, an answer to the affirmative has led to a round-robin of reboot gaiety, so I opted to just start from scratch.

I know this is First World Problem, but I have to say that I am rather disappointed in my latest MacBook Pro. This computer has been plagued with many quirks. For example, something prevents my name from rendering properly at log in (as seen in the screenshot above). Is it a cosmetic issue? Possibly, but cosmetic issues in the world of Mac are usually a symptom of an issue lingering under the covers.

My computer reliably wakes up from Power Nap or Super Slumber or whatever it’s called these days about 50% of the time that I try to use my computer. The close cousin of Unix that powers macOS is known for its long stretches of computer uptime, the amount of time that a computer can go without needing to reboot, restart, power cycle, etc. I’m lucky if my MBPr goes from sunrise to sunset.

The primary reason that I find this all disappointing is because when I purchased this computer, as a replacement to my three-year old MacBook Pro Retina that was stolen from my hotel room during a work trip, I purchased the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro Retina that was available at the time. I have the biggest hard drive, the most RAM, the fastest processor, etc. that was available in a laptop from Apple as of July 2016. The fact that I sank all this money into a computer and that “It Just Works” is a complete fallacy with this machine is very disheartening to me.

It’s not like I’m asking the computer to do things outside of the Walled Garden. I use iCloud services. I surf on Safari. I use the Apple-provided applications whenever possible because I like the idea of “It Just Works”.

When I fire up Apple’s “Photos” app my laptop takes on the persona of an Airbus A380 ready for departure. The fans blast so loud that I’m sure it can be heard by the neighbors, and remember, this is the maxed out laptop of its time.

The little gimmick of your Apple Watch unlocking your computer works about 45% of the time. When it does work I’m left staring at a “Please wait…” message on my screen when in reality I could have typed my password in half the amount of time that my watch and my computer had a conversation.

Now that I’ve typed that last paragraph I’ve decided to just turn off that feature and see what that does.

While out in the world I’ve noticed more Microsoft Surface Pro ultrabooks being used by folks. I have to admit that I’m very intrigued by the Surface Pro but moving to a Microsoft environment scares the beejeesus out of me. I’ve tried Windows 10 and it seems to be sort of cobbled together and I’ve read enough about the security implications of key logging, traffic monitoring, etc. that I really don’t want to go down that road. These are the same reasons I don’t want to switch to a Chromebook and I’m too tired to provide the care and feeding that a Linux laptop requires.

The truth of the matter is, the amount of mediocrity that passes as “It Just Works” from Apple today is still probably the best experience a computer user can get, we’ve just come to accept mediocrity as a new gold standard. When marketing runs the show the results can be disastrous. I’m sure that will be proven once again in 2017 in the political arena, but that’s a whole other blog entry unto itself.

So here I am trying to be my best in a world of low expectations. God help us all.

Choices.

Several women I know have been very vocal in their decision to vote for Trump. These particular ladies are from middle America, range from early middle age to late middle age and are white. They want to see change in the country and so they voted for that change by casting their vote for Trump.

I don’t quite get that.

You see, while on the campaign trail, Trump said many times that he would work to overturn Roe v. Wade. He actually said that he thought women that had abortions should be punished in some way.

I have more respect for women than that. Apparently, I have more respect for women than some women have for themselves. And honestly, that’s rather sad to me.

Look, I am sharing my opinion from the cheap seats. I will never be in the position to father a baby much less having to decide on whether to continue a pregnancy. I get that and I can only assume that it is the most heart-wrenching decision a woman can make. In my eyes, terminating a pregnancy is the wrong choice 99% of the time. When the subject was first approached on television, during an early episode of “Maude” in the 1970s, the main character decided to have an abortion because she was pregnant late in life and she and her husband thought it was the best decision for them. Honestly, I don’t agree with their decision of termination but the truth of the matter is that it’s not my decision to make. I believe that women should have the right to that choice.

Women that voted for Trump, who has said that he will work to overturn Roe v. Wade, voted to negate the very right that they have enjoyed since Roe v. Wade was decided. I find that to be selfish and honestly, kind of weak. It’s like they’re saying, “I don’t trust myself to make this decision, the government should make it for me.” Is that what they really want? My gut tells me no. If they’re voting for Trump for other reasons, well, then they’re knowingly denying the same rights they’ve had since 1973 from future generations of women. You can’t say that you want your daughters and granddaughters to grow up to be strong women and then vote for a man that wants to take the right to choose away from them. There’s a disconnect there and I just don’t get it.

I like to think that the women I know are smarter than that. But for the past week I’ve decided that I don’t really know the people around me all that well. I’ve been embracing my loner tendencies big time since the election.

I will probably continue to do so.

I may not agree with the choice a woman makes but I don’t really think it’s any of my business. A woman should be able to do what she wishes with her body.

We should not be giving the government the horsepower to make that decision. We are stronger than that.

Patriot.

Earl and I sat together in my office and watched Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton deliver her Concession Speech from New York. I really needed to hear Secretary Clinton’s voice. I needed to hear a positive message. Last night I had slept for a total of 2 1/2 hours. This morning, after shedding tears in bed (something that I’m really not that keen on sharing, but I strive to be honest when I write), I dressed in all black and made my way downstairs for breakfast and to get to work. I have been surprisingly productive at work today. Losing myself in my work has given my mind a rest. I still have an incredibly persistent headache.

As I watched the poll results last night, while monitoring Twitter and Facebook all the while, I couldn’t help but feel emptiness, despair, rejection, but honestly the hardest emotion I felt was betrayal. To me it seemed like the American People had decided to betray the American way of life. Facebook, something that I tried really hard to give up but realized that it was the only way I was keeping touch with my bloody blood relations, had all sorts of mean spirited, negative vitriol flying by. It was particularly disheartening to see relatives on the in-law side, women no less, absolutely giddy about seeing Hillary defeated. Words like “Killary” and hash tags like “#LockHerUp” were appearing all over the place. Secretary Clinton will never be the President of the United States. The continuance of such negative behavior smacks of insecurity, projection and guilt. Donald Trump has said that he will ramp back the rights of LGBT Americans. Seeing bloody blood relations encourage this, despite their professions of being fully supportive of who I am and my marriage and my chosen family, felt like betrayal. Once I was dressed in black, shed a few tears and had a couple hours of sleep, I decided that I could absolutely handle Secretary Clinton’s defeat and that I would do what I could do to keep America strong and make it stronger. What I will not tolerate, glance over or sweep under the rug is gloating, ridiculous claims of proven lies as fact or keeping company with anyone that engages in that kind of behavior. It is obvious that they don’t need “the whole me” in their lives and I certainly don’t want to be around them. I welcome a hearty, intelligent political debate, but I will not tolerate disrespect and I will certainly not keep company with those that choose to disrespect me.

President-Elect Trump has a large task ahead of him. I have absolutely no idea what the future brings. I hope that with maybe just a few speed bumps along the way that we will be a stronger country and be better for it when another Presidential election plagues our country in 2020. I really hope that someone, anyone in Washington will come to the center to where the vast majority of the American Populace resides and will speak to us. I have a lot of trepidation that this will ever happen, but I will never lose hope. I will always respect the office of President of the United States and now that President-Elect Trump is headed to the Oval Office, I am anxious to see what he does. I have feared that if he became president that he would be the last President of the United States. I desperately hope that I am wrong.

Secretary Clinton’s words inspired me this morning and were a brighten beacon in a very dark day. Though I definitely don’t see eye to eye with her on several subjects, I believe that she was the best candidate for this election. I think she would have built upon that which we have now and I believed in her as President. The majority of Americans agree with me, as defined by the results of the popular vote. I hope that I will be able to shake her hand someday and thank her for her incredible commitment and achievements on behalf of the entire country. Until then, I share the transcript of her final speech.

Thank you, Secretary Clinton. May your light continue to shine as a beacon for all of us.

Thank you.

Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.

This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I’m sorry we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.

But I feel pride and gratitude for this wonderful campaign that we built together –- this vast, diverse, creative, unruly, energized campaign. You represent the best of America, and being your candidate has been one of the greatest honors of my life.

I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too. And so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love — and about building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted.

We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America –- and I always will. And if you do, too, then we must accept this result -– and then look to the future.

Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.

Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things –- the rule of law, the principle that we’re all equal in rights and dignity, and the freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these things too — and we must defend them.

And let me add: Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear: making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top; protecting our country and protecting our planet; and breaking down all the barriers that hold anyone back from achieving their dreams.

We’ve spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American Dream is big enough for everyone — for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities.

Our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. And I know you will.

I am so grateful to stand with all of you.

I want to thank Tim Kaine and Anne Holton for being our partners on this journey. It gives me great hope and comfort to know that Tim will remain on the front-lines of our democracy, representing Virginia in the Senate.

To Barack and Michelle Obama: Our country owes you an enormous debt of gratitude for your graceful, determined leadership, and so do I.

To Bill, Chelsea, Marc, Charlotte, Aidan, our brothers, and our entire family, my love for you means more than I can ever express.

You crisscrossed this country on my behalf and lifted me up when I needed it most –- even four-month old Aidan traveling with his mom.

I will always be grateful to the creative, talented, dedicated men and women at our headquarters in Brooklyn and across our country who poured their hearts into this campaign. For you veterans, this was a campaign after a campaign — for some of you, this was your first campaign ever. I want each of you to know that you were the best campaign anyone has had.

To all the volunteers, community leaders, activists, and union organizers who knocked on doors, talked to neighbors, posted on Facebook – even in secret or in private: Thank you.

To everyone who sent in contributions as small as $5 and kept us going, thank you.

And to all the young people in particular, I want you to hear this. I’ve spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks -– sometimes really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your careers. You will have successes and setbacks, too.

This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.

To all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.

I know that we still have not shattered that highest glass ceiling. But some day someone will -– hopefully sooner than we might think right now.

And to all the little girls watching right now, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.

Finally, I am grateful to our country for all it has given me.

I count my blessings every day that I am an American. And I still believe, as deeply as I ever have, that if we stand together and work together, with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for this nation -– our best days are still ahead of us.

You know I believe we are stronger together and will go forward together. And you should never be sorry that you fought for that.

Scripture tells us: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”

My friends, let us have faith in each other. Let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. For there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.

I am incredibly honored and grateful to have had this chance to represent all of you in this consequential election. May God bless you and god bless the United States of America.

Hillary

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One More Week.

As I was out for my morning walk, I couldn’t help but notice the scurrying of children getting to their bus stop in complete darkness. It’s amazing to me that the American populace is content with ripping their pre-school and elementary school children out of bed when it’s pitch black outside so they can be thrust under artificial light, filled up with breakfast and shipped off to school before the sun rises.

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But that’s what we do today. As folks dance around because they get “extra sunlight” with Daylight Saving Time going on for way too long, they also stagger into the office, get into car accidents and drink extra amounts of coffee trying to stay awake in the morning.

I really think the United States would be a happier place if we tried to live in harmony with the planet instead of raging against it.

This is the last week of Daylight Saving Time for 2016. Back in 2005, George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act which instituted our current Daylight Saving Time requirements beginning in 2007. The timeframe was extended by several weeks, with DST starting the second Sunday of March and ending the first Sunday of November, all under the guise of energy savings. Studies since this law was implemented show that we now burn more energy than we used to, but you’re not suppose to notice that.

I am happy that Daylight Saving Time is coming to an end for the year this coming Sunday. I have been counting down the weeks to a time when I would no longer feel like I’m in a perpetual state of jet lag. I won’t try to force my body to go to bed earlier than I want to nor will I go for my morning exercise in complete darkness, though I will admit that the star filled sky at 6:30 a.m. this morning was quite beautiful.

All of the other countries in the world, save for Canada, because Canada is a copycat, have ended their versions of Daylight Saving Time for the year, but not the United States. Like the metric system, the rest of the world is wrong thinking that a normal day should be between sunrise and sunset and that noon should be around when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. We, the American People, are here to control the world and we’ll say when it’s dark and when it’s light and don’t you worry about what your body is telling you.

My dislike for this foolish practice runs deep.

I Love NY. This Space For Rent.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of advertising. Not only do I not like advertising, I actually despise it. I realize that in today’s economy advertising is basically what keeps the United States afloat, but I think that we, the public, are better than dancing purple pills, people screaming “Huuuuuuuuuge”, men that call themselves Crazy Eddie and long lists of side effects that usually include “explosive diarrhea”, even though the medicine being hawked is suppose to make us feel better.

New York State Governor Cuomo (I like to call him “King Andy”) looked around The Empire State, realized the economy was not doing well and decided to fix the situation by inviting tourists to come take a look at all New York State has to offer. He recently launched a $25 million ad campaign that involves celebrities saying how much they love New York and more importantly, signs telling everyone how lovely New York State can be.

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs.

Usually when one crosses a state border they are greeted by a sign of some sort welcoming them to the state they have just entered. “Welcome to Connecticut, Full of Surprises”. “Welcome To Pennsylvania, State of Independence.”

Crossing into New York State you are now greeted with a succession of FIVE welcome signs. But that is only the beginning of the frivolity, as the state border is not the only place you can enter the Empire State.

You’ll see the same five signs coming out of the airport as you try to figure out how your rental car works.

You’ll see the same five signs if you’re leaving the New York State Fairgrounds.

You’ll see the same five signs if you’re entering the New York State Fairgrounds.

You’ll see the same five signs if you’ve traveled more than 30 miles on the New York State Thruway.

You’ll see the same five signs in the geographic center of the state.

You get my point.

Yes, there are signs 200 miles from the closest state border welcoming you to New York State. Over one third of the bridges might be structurally deficient, we might have the only interstate exits in the country that are still numbered sequentially (for example, 20-21-21B-21A-22), you might lose a wheel or two in one of the wide selection of potholes we offer in any given mile, but by god, we have signs welcoming you to the Empire State.

Think I’m kidding? Here’s some screen caps of the signs, 260 miles from the state border.

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Monotonous, ain’t it?

Please note that all the signs are encouraging you to download the ILoveNY app, apparently while you’re driving. At the very least, visit the website. Never mind that we spent a million or two a few years ago renaming all the Rest Areas to Text Stops (with more signs counting down the miles to the next “Text Stop”). Oh! And speaking of advertising, all of our Rest Areas Text Stops are now sponsored by Geico.

With more signs advertising this fact.

To keep with the theme of banging motorists over the head with advertising, there are now miniature versions of these signs mounted to the toll booths as you enter the New York State Thruway.

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I was especially disheartened to see these new toll booth advertisements because I was kind of proud of the fact that we didn’t pimp out toll booth space for advertising like the surrounding states did. But apparently what’s good for the goose is good for the gander or the very least to get my dander up.

I wouldn’t be nearly as bothered by all these signs (and the money associated with them) if they were installed and left as is, but apparently they did please the aesthetic sensibilities of someone and they have been moved around (by a mile or two), replaced (because the color was off in the original version) and re-angled in relation to the roadway on the weekend, in the dark of night, during prime overtime hours. Driving home from a late flight into Syracuse on multiple occasions in the past couple of weeks I saw the crews installing, uninstalling and such under the cover of darkness.

Advertising is in it’s prime. In glorious overtime. I Love New York. Sigh.

Competition.

Twenty years ago, back when I was the Program Director of a small Top 40 radio station, I used to dread “book months”. These book months were the ratings period for radio, the timeframe when select listeners would write down what radio stations they listened to, how often they listened and for how long they listened. It was during these times that we would formulate promotions that would dazzle listeners, for example, nearly impossible to win $100,000 giveaways, free trips to New York to see “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and chances to win vacuum cleaners for Mom as a gift for Mother’s Day. We knew how to impress.

The ultimate reason for dazzling the listener was to generate more ratings during book months, which would then in turn make our little radio station more appealing to ad buyers. This, in turn, would give us more commercials to play, causing us to drop more songs per hour but would guarantee we would have enough revenue coming in to paint the studio in gaudy blues and golds, fulfill payroll requirements and allow us to do nifty things like put up billboards to remind folks how great the radio station was. 

One of the many things I didn’t like about this process was the sense of competition. We were one of two Top 40 radio stations in the area and I was told to keep the radio station aggressive. Push the limits with music, reach fringe listeners if possible and more importantly tell them how bad the other radio station was. We had to fight, Fight, FIGHT our way to the top for that ad revenue. The trouble was, the other radio station, Kiss 102, had a bunch of great ideas, had a good team for the most part and played the same music we did. Heck, the Program Director of Kiss 102 was a friend of mine. We had worked together at another station. We “grew up” together in radio. But I had to make the Mr. Voice say clever, snarky things about them all in the name of promotion.

Competition. Why?

I can’t help but roll my eyes when people start chanting and screeching and carrying on about the United States of America being the Greatest Nation on Earth. Now, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here. I believe that as an American citizen that I’ve got it pretty good. The water is clean, the air is breathable, I can get food for myself with the utmost of ease and I feel mostly safe. I can conduct my life as I see fit, for the most part, without interference, censorship or fear of being killed for just being me. And as an American, I believe that the opportunities that I am afforded should be available to anyone in the world that is willing to come here, work hard, be true, be honest and stand shoulder to shoulder with me as an American citizen. Honestly, I don’t care if you’re black, white, brown, yellow, mauve or drink vodka for breakfast.

We just need to humble about it.

A good portion of the American populace gets off on war. We thrive of competition. Video games, movies, television shows, all of it is about strife. Reality shows are about discord. We are adrenaline junkies and we are not happy unless there’s a threat of a zombie attacking us at any moment. Bad guys lurk everywhere, even if we have to remind you that there’s an impossibly small chance that you’re going to have a bad guy come after you at any given moment. We build huge stadiums next to overcrowded high schools that are falling down, just so we can scream and make other noises that our school is the best at (insert sport here). Apps on our little technological wonders of communication (smartphones) match us up against strangers when we do something as simple as take a morning walk. We earn points, likes, stars, hearts, retweets and shares to stoke our ego. You, too, can go viral!

I often wonder what it is like to live somewhere where folks have more security in themselves. Where they don’t need to be told how great they are at every given turn. Where there are no trophies for participation. Where they don’t need to be constantly reminded that they live in the greatest country on the planet. What is that like? Does it still exist?

Last night I watched Donald Trump give his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. His speech was filled with many buzzwords, a bunch of catch phrases and a whole lot of sound bites that will be perfect for the news burps that are designed for the average American with the attention span of a gnat. His name was projected in outrageously gold letters, his skin had a strikingly similar hue and his words, while plentiful, struck hollow. Apparently there’s a lot he’s going to do as President, right from Day One, but no one has a clue as to how he’s going to accomplish this, what with the three branches of the United States government and whatnot. There was much praise, USUALLY IN CAPS, about how great his speech was, especially because he uttered the letters, L-G-B-T-Q.  He is going to keep the gay folks safe. However, if the GOP Platform is realized, we can’t get married, our jobs are always in jeopardy and God forbid we buy a cake in Indiana, but Trump is going to do right by us and be wonderful.  WONDERFUL!

Please people, please calm down. And don’t get me started about that damn wall along the southern border.

Can we find our place back to humility? Can we go back to being the greatest country on the planet without constantly beating our chests screeching about it, wearing red, white and blue war paint on our faces and telling the rest of the world they suck? And can we start listening? Has substance given way to sound bites? Is there a chance that common sense will become common again?

Can we just do what we do, as best as we can, without screaming “oh my god look at me I’m awesome!” all the time?

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Insert Witty Eye Catching Title Here Because I Don’t Really Care.

I need to just turn off social media today. I need to turn off anything that purports itself as a news station for the foreseeable future. Hell, I need to turn off the television, period.

I have grown so weary of stupid people trying to get themselves into power and stupid people trying to put stupid people into power. Let’s face it, I’m just tired of stupid people, and unfortunately, being stupid is très chic in these here United States.

I am so drained from the sheer idiocy being displayed by “my fellow Americans” that I can’t even begin to figure out how I’m going to make it through the next four months of these stupid dog and pony shows that pass themselves off as the “American Electoral Process”.

Plastic faces. Stolen speeches. Stupid ideas. Hateful words.

I am better than this. We are better than this. Electing the next leader of “The Greatest Country In The World”™ should not parallel the likes of your standard, bottom-feeding, scrub grubbing reality show. And this is exactly what we have, a reality show that caters to the stupidest people in the country.

Look, I get that I’m different. I think differently. I see things in a different light. I don’t have a lot of tolerance and I’m often short on patience. And it’s my observation from this far off the beam that makes me realize I just need to shut down the computer and tune out the sheer lunacy, stupidity and idiocy that has gripped this nation.

Either that or we need to move.

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Safe.

The first time I stepped into gay bar it was November 1986. The bar was called “Doc’s”. It was located in the basement of a pediatrician’s office in Jamestown, N.Y. I was a freshman in college at the time. I had met a guy at the college production of “The Normal Heart” and he thought we could meet up for a drink. He was 21, I was 18. Below drinking age and having never stepped foot in a bar on my own, I made the drive and walked in, ordering a Coca-Cola from the bartender. The bar wasn’t really big; it could probably hold 75 without everyone feeling overly cramped. There were three rooms once you descended the stairs into the basement: a room with a pool table, a room with some couches and chairs and other relaxation areas and the main room which had the bar, a decently sized dance floor and a few tables in chairs at the end opposite the bar.

The bar had about 40 people in it when I walked in and I felt everyone’s eyes on me; I was a new face. Having grown up in a small town where my contact with gay men was very minimal, I was probably quite skittish and didn’t strike up conversation with many folks. I just wanted to meet the guy I had met a few nights before.

I was always uncomfortable in unfamiliar social situations because I was always worried that I would be “found out” and subsequently be taunted for being gay. After a few moments of standing by myself, I came to the realization that this wouldn’t be a concern for me at Doc’s, everyone else there was gay. For the first time in my life, I relaxed and let my guard down. In that space at that moment, it was OK to be me. For the next couple of years going to a gay bar would be the only place where I could really be myself. Of course I was still socially awkward, that’s just part of my modus operandi. But I was less socially awkward there. If I was going to be taunted it would be due to my cheesy mustache or my poor fashion choices, not simply because of being gay.

The folks at Pulse in Orlando last weekend were just out for a fun night with friends in a space they considered safe. Now, 2016 is much different than 1986 when it comes to being gay in public, however, I imagine for many the gay bar is where they still felt like they were in a safe space. They could be themselves and let their guard down.

Except a man decided that he wanted to go in and kill as many “perverts” as possible. Whether he was indoctrinated, taught or just came up with the belief that gay folks are perverts is not relevant. The fact of that matter is he made the conscious decision to go into a gay bar and massacre as many gay folks as possible.

They just wanted to dance, have fun and feel safe.

Politicians have been quick to politicize the event. This massacre has been labeled a terrorist attack, presumably due to the assailant’s allegiance to ISIS. The fact of the matter is, this was a hate crime. This was a deliberate attack on individuals that are wired differently than many. People that are still demonized, ostracized and beat over the head with Bible verses for being sick, perverted, etc.

A couple of the victims were friends of a coworker and his family. Reports are showing screenshots of children writing to their parents moments before they were shot dead. This is the biggest mass shooting in the history of “The Greatest Country On Earth”.

I really wish we’d start acting like our grand declaration of “The Greatest Country On Earth”. We hear that a lot, don’t we. “Number One!” “Number One!” “Number One!”. When are going to start living up to our own hype and getting beyond stupid prejudice acts of killing like this? When are we going to start enacting sensible gun control? We all have to take our shoes off at the airport because one idiot decided to hide a bomb in his shoe but how many mass shootings will it take before someone says, “hey, we need to do something about guns.”

Just to be clear, I don’t believe that we should take away everyone’s guns. As I mentioned yesterday, that’s not going to solve the problem. But I do believe that we need to add another layer of security to the process of obtaining a gun.

All these folks wanted yesterday was to be in a safe place to have a great night out with friends.

Words can not express how terrible it is that they had to do die for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Answers?

Earl and I were at the Central New York Tour de Cure bright and early this morning. Earl volunteered to help coordinate the breakfast tent and I was one of many participants in the cycling event. I rode the metric Century, which was actually 65.5 miles (100 km = roughly 62 miles). The ride went well and I completed it in four hours 39 minutes of riding time. There were five rest stops along the route.

It was at the first route that I posted a photo or two on Facebook and that’s when I saw the news of the mass shooting at the gay bar “Pulse” in Orlando. A gunman armed with an AR-15 assault rifle shot at least 50 people dead and wounded at least 53 others. It’s the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States.

Words cannot describe how much my heart aches as I watch the direction our country is headed. This type of horrific event is becoming entirely too commonplace “from seas to shining sea”. There are reports of the gunman’s possible ties to terrorists groups in the Middle East. Many news outlets are accordingly calling this an act of terrorism.

It was an act of hate.

I have no answers. I have many questions but I have no answers. Yes, stricter gun laws should be in place but I know that’s not going to slow down killers that are intent on killing. I toyed with the idea of making biometric triggers mandatory on firearms but 1. I don’t know what that would really do and 2. Any firearm already out in the wild could easily be looked over for meeting that requirement.

The only answer I can come close to is that we need to stop the American fetishization of firearms and we need to ramp back the depiction of consequence free killing in the media. Honestly, I don’t know that either will help the cause but it’s a start.

I refuse to be afraid. I refuse to be intimidated. The only thing I fear is the direction the U.S. is heading. I read some comments on Twitter from popular politicians and it just increased my desire to vomit. Trump was being Trump, others are touting the virtues of the Second Amendment.

I have no answers. I’m sick and tired of asking the same questions over and over.

Infrastructure.

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Earl and I were riding around the area in the Jeep this afternoon when we got into a discussion about the crumbling infrastructure of Upstate New York. While I haven’t heard any reports about water issues like the atrocities in Flint, Mich., one can’t help but notice that Upstate New York municipalities, as well as the NYS Department of Transportation, is having a hard time keeping up with one component of our critical infrastructure, and that’s maintenance of our roadways.

In order to move goods to and fro around the area we need to have a good highways with safe bridges and road surfaces that aren’t going to ruin a vehicle. As we bounced along a state maintained highway, I remarked to Earl that in my nearly 48 years of living in the Empire State I have never seen the roadways in such disrepair. And I have been very attentive to roads my entire life.

Back in 1987 a bridge on the New York State Thruway over Schoharie Creek collapsed, killing ten people. It was a very big deal when this happened nearly 30 years ago and measures were taken to avoid the situation again. Money was poured into our highway infrastructure throughout the Upstate counties and the roads were beautiful. But Mother Nature can be quite hard on asphalt around here and the constant scaling back of construction projects due to budgetary concerns is really start to show the wear and tear on our highways.

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On a recent road trip, I was startled by the condition of the main thoroughfare in the Jamestown area. The picture above was taken along NY Route 394 in the Town of Busti. This busy road serves the majority of commercial interests in the area. I can’t help but wonder how many cars get beat up on this roadway as residents try to do something as simple as go to the mall.

Businesses that might consider moving to the area must look at the condition of our roads and buildings and bridges and wonder if the state is really as committed as they claim to be when everything seems to be in disrepair.

I know this all falls on the shoulders of the budget and the fact that there’s just not enough money to go around. I hear the word “entitlements” being thrown around quite a bit. Some like to blame welfare, others like to blame the “lack of taxes” on the rich. I think it’s a mix of everything.

I wish I could suggest a solution to the faltering economy in the Empire State, but I don’t have answers. All I know is that what we are doing isn’t working. With weekly reports of politicians being hauled off to jail I suspect that corruption is part of the problem as well but the populace seems too lazy to vote to get some new blood in Albany.

This is disappointing.

I’m hoping that someday I’ll be around to see the Empire State live up to its name once again. I just hope I don’t lose the Jeep in a pothole while I’m trying to get to the grocery store.