Pre-Blogging Journal: 2001

31 December, 2001 Ken Editorial & DiscussionEveryday LifeFamily & Personal

Monday, September 10th

It’s the first day of Fall! Well, maybe not Autumn, officially, but while walking the dog, I noticed a lot of leaves on the ground. Now if only we could not need the air conditioning any more this year. Whew!

Tuesday, September 11th

Like the rest of us, I was amazed and disturbed by the news reports of the quadruple hijacking kamikazes on the East Coast. However, the most disturbing thing happened at the gym. On one of the TVs, there was a continuous list of college closings and cancelled school districts’ PM activities. Are the bad guys out to get Public School #11 or Daemen College? Was this symbolic, or just stupid cowardice? I don’t care if it’s your little girl at school. You’ve got to be a lower species to not use your brain and keep your head. But alas, humanity is not often more than a lower species these days, so let’s all declare the terrorists the winner and crawl under our beds, shall we? If we had a real war, I’d hate to see how pathetic the home front campaign would go.

Friday, September 14th

Yesterday we brought all the flags out — for our windows, cars, etc.. One of my best friends heard that his cousins went to a military recruitment office. Maybe it’s the being caught up in all the emotion, and the never-ending list of personal stories on TV related tot he tragedy, but I actually not afraid of the federal government infringing on our rights. It seems the administration and Congress have refused to give into fear. There is no invocation of martial law ANYWHERE. Laws have not been proposed (to my knowledge) that would limit our rights in the name of “protecting” the country. Maybe we have changed as a people, rising just above the mass-hysteria, ignorant-sheep mentality, at least in the majority of citizens. Maybe it was always like this, and my perspective was skewed by ultra-liberal press and education when I was younger.

My daughter asked me over and over if there could be a war where there would be fighting in the streets — our streets here in Buffalo and West Seneca. I believe and hope that Lincoln was right, and I told here that the only military action that could ever happen anytime in our lifetime would be between Americans, or between the government and the people. Could they take over New York? No, Christina. A few people sneaking over the Peace Bridge with guns just shooting at people? Maybe, but that’s not an army. That’s terrorism. We’re not going to war with Canada or Mexico anytime soon. A whole Navy of ships would be seen a thousand miles away would be seen by satellite and stopped before it reached us. One aircraft carrier alone has more firepower than almost any one country’s entire military.

Now a nuclear bomb — that’s another story …

Tuesday, September 19th

I was on the radio today. I couldn’t help it. Someone called in WBEN talk radio and asked if the “only real Americans” (Native Americans) ever fought for our country. It seemed more accusatory than inquisitive. I stumbled out of bed to get my cordless headset, and wandered about on hold, naked (thank goodness it wasn’t talk TELEVISION!), and finally got on the air with “Tom” the show-host.

“Hi, Ken.”

“Hi … howryoudin’. About that caller that asked if Native Americans served in the military -”

“Hold on — is your family Native American?”

“My stepfamily is Snipe Clan, Seneca.”

“Okay — go on …”

“Anyone who’s ever been to a Pow-wow will find out REAL fast that being a warrior in modern Native American culture means United States military service. Some of the most decorated regiments in the last hundred years were Native American, which is amazing considering they didn’t have the right to vote until the 50s.

“And as for Falwell [referring to Jerry Falwell’s apologies for blaming the national tragedy on all the groups of people in America he deems as sinners], I can forgive him all I want as a Christian, but you’ll know a tree by its fruit. That’s all I have to say.”

Unfortunately, Merry had the radio turned off to eliminate feedback, and I didn’t catch any reactions to the comments. The phone rang the next minute with a friend … “Was that you on the radio just now? …”

Thursday, September 20th

The President gave his big address today. Even though I was hoping for a more specific conclusion, such as a request to Congress for a declaration of war, I am amazed at the balance between intimidating resolve and controlled reaction. I no longer felt the word “vengeance” on his lips when he spoke of justice. Maybe we will not stoop to fight evil after all, and America has come of age.

(It seems like everyone is behind the Commander in Chief, except Hillary Clinton, who looked like she swallowed a cactus and it was coming to pass intact. Everyone else caught it too, with people on the radio calling in to call her “sour puss” and fake clapping “disgraceful”. I was tempted to call in and repeat the President, paraphrasing: “‘Whoever is not for us, is an enemy’, so string her up, and her traitor husband! hehehe)

After saying it with the guys over after we all watched the address, I have to write it down:

“The great experiment [of America] has become lukewarm, and somebody just lit a Bunsen burner.”

Tuesday, 25 September

At my daughter’s open house this evening, we were informed that a new and graded requirement for all students is 20 service hours toward the parish. Slave labor in the name of religious education. How cute. There were many speaking points that evening people had to be reminded to applaud. Free snacks almost made it worthwhile. I do enjoy talking to her teachers, though, and I ran into Pete Clancy, the father of some of Christina’s friends.

I couldn’t stay for the social afterward, as I had to go vote. They couldn’t find my name anywhere and I had to use a special ballot. My wife voted an hour or so earlier, and they found HER information. What party? Are you sure? Where do you live? Does you wife have the same last name? I wasn’t irritated, and we all took it with good humor. I even volunteered to be an election worker if they need me. I suppose it’s strange, considering this is the second time in my life that I actually voted. My wife got me started on that habit, and it is almost a matter of principle only. I didn’t really know anyone on the ballot (except from propaganda about one of the judges from a few years back), and so like most people, I could have done more harm than good casting my vote in ignorance. Ah, the virtues of democracy!

Lastly, before going to bed I finally checked QuickBooks to find if I had any end-of-the-month billing, only to find that it had NOT faithfully reminded me of invoices to be mailed in the last 45 days! No wonder I’m having a cash crunch at the moment.

Saturday, 29 September

Yesterday and today was Homecoming, where I went for my theoretical 10 year reunion at D’Youville. I was the only one there from the class of ’91. At least I got to tour the new academic building (with it’s automatic, motion-sensing lighting system) and sing the Alma Mater at the end of mass in the Sacred Heart Chapel.

Sunday, 30 September

I saw Shrek at the Regal Cinemas by Eastern Hills Mall, with Christina, her best friend Lizzy, John (a friend of theirs from Camp Turner), his father, and his football teammate. Loved it, probably more than they did. I can’t wait to see it with MerMer.

Later I watched the “rerun” of the first episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. (I watched it the day after it aired Wednesday, taped by Mike as we still can’t find our remote to program the VCR!) Loved it, and like Shrek, probably more than anyone else. Mer, Jeff and Mike thought it was okay, with some promise at best.

Saturday, October 6

I had my first Tai Chi (Chi Kung) class at the Pathways to Wellness center in North Collins, but hardly anyone showed. We’re expecting more next week. I’m glad I left ESPECIALLY early, as I mysteriously got off Route 62 and had to read the sun and a general map to find my way there. It seems no matter how early I leave to go there, the time is taken up by travel.

Afterward, I went to Arcade to work with Michelle on fixing up an old barn for Kim, the owner of the property they use for LARPing (Live Action Role-Playing). On top of a hill, there were gusts up to 60 mph, sporadic frozen rail, and temperatures 10 or more degrees below the predicted 50 or so degrees. I should have dressed warmer, and felt lazily unmotivated to measure, cut, and nail planks in all the unfinished sections of the second floor walls. Michelle spent the whole time up on the scaffolding, putting on sections of the aluminum roof. It was still nice to meet her friends, and get a little experience on how NOT to build a barn. Under the circumstances, we did alright, though.

Sunday, October 7

We went to the Ellicottville Fall Festival. It seemed smaller than previous years, in part because we didn’t take our time as much with the below-freezing wind chill. It was still great to go do it with Mer, as we had missed it last year.

We heard about the air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan when we got back, and otherwise had a lazy evening with the guys over. Everyone is still tense about possible biochemical terrorist attacks here in the states, but the reality is that we are ready for the sake of being ready only.

Thursday, October 11th

Christina started cheerleading practice today. Unfortunately, it coincides with “my time” (visitation) and after a half hour, I was a bit restless. I was also the only parent there (for now). She’ll hear next week who makes the team. She seems right on with the cheers, much better than some of the others.

Wednesday, October 10th

I met with Sid (the landlord) to go over the possibility of me becoming manager of our apartment complex (30 units). He called me the other night out of the blue, and was surprised when I told him we had thought of such an arrangement for some time.

The arrangement is great, and I will have use of the downstairs apartment for both a rental office and an office for my business! Now I have a lot of work cut out for me, already being busy from switching all my sites to another web hosting provider.

Friday, October 12th

I met with a physical therapist this morning to discuss having Tai Chi classes at his facility in Orchard Park. It sounds like a great idea, but the real clincher is the possibility of lecturing the PT students at Daemen College. I would feel right at home, more than anyone could imagine.

Sunday, October 14th

I’ve Been Fired! Gold’s gym decided there wasn’t enough interest for my Tai Chi class Monday nights. There was little advertising, and half the students were from my other classes anyway. I WILL miss the free use of the machines though. My favourite was the “elliptical” machine, but I also used the treadmill to cool down, and occasional 20 minutes on a cycling machine, which gave me time to catch up on my tech-business magazines. Recently, I even started trying out the various weight equipment.

Fortunately, I will get some exercise before the holidays go full swing by moving into the new office. I can’t wait to see the look on Christina’s face when she realizes she has her own room all to herself!

Sunday, October 20th

We didn’t have an anniversary this year — we had an Anniversary SEASON. We started with all-you-can-eat crab legs at Dynasty II in the Southgate plaza on Wednesday. Then we had some quiet time Thursday, but Merry had to go to a vet class at UB in the evening.

Saturday, we went to Bennet Beach to watch bits of Haley’s Comet crash into the thermosphere, but in spite of intermittent star-filled skies, we saw no meteor shower. We got a fire going with almost no wood available, lighting in just after dusk on the second try. Of course we forgot a flashlight/lantern, kindle, etc., and got there late because we got lost, but in the end, it was a cozy evening.

Today we went to Vidler’s 5 & 10 after mass. We spent some of the time talking about wonderful ideas Merry has to decorate Christina’s room. “It would drive me crazy, so I know she will like it” is Merry’s basic guideline for the design: Beaded window curtains and closet; lightly painted flowers on the walls; a disco-like multi-colored light-ball for complete effect. If only we can make the time to pull it off.

Thursday, October 25th

I faxed Dr. Laura today about David Horowitz being on her show. She’s horrible to listen to now that she’s gone political activist. This was sort of the last straw. Wasn’t this the “Fight Back with David Horowitz” consumer advocate when I was growing up? What a flake.

Saturday, October 27th

Christina went to a writer’s workshop this morning at the Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, paid for by her step-father. I am really glad Jim is her step-dad. He has her best interest at heart, and that’s all I can ask for.

Last night, there were water problems in the “plaza”. I had to grab a wet-dry vac from Home Depot and lend it to a basement tenant, Jenn. (She’s been here for about two months, but I don’t recall seeing her before because she’s really shy. Shy for a bartender anyway!) It seems I’m already playing manager.

Sunday, October 28th

Got our pumpkins today (at the last minute) and even carved them before I had to take Christina back to her Mom’s.

Hallowe’en

Mer left for Houston early today. Without her or Christina, I spent the evening at the Dembskis, which we usually do every year. Di (Merry’s Dad) won the pumpkin contest by a landslide, as usual. I think he only lost ONCE, to Christina’s “cat face” pumpkin last year.

Too much chocolate.

Friday, November 2nd

I’m “Livin’ on Lunchmeat”. Actually, I LIKE lunchmeat, so it’s not so bad. I just miss Merry. I even had the radio on at night a few times, as I think I’m finally getting used to it. Merry “can’t fall asleep without it”, but I just end up having dreams about whatever the news stories or night talk shows are about.

I didn’t hear from her yet, but all the flights got there — early in fact. Thank God for the internet!

Sunday, November 11th

Before JAM / Phantom Plastics closed, I bought a plant. I made it symbolic of our business survival. I felt as if I could take care of it and it did well, business would survive as well.

Merry presented it to me today to put in my office. It was still alive, although I forgot about it. It had actually gotten quite big lately, and it may even start to bud.

Tuesday, November 13th

Another JAM Dream last night. Many times I dream that a bunch of the old crew get together in a new office for a little while to stir up some business again. I think it has something to do with my having an office again.

Sunday, November 18th

The Leonids were out. Christina stayed up the wrong night, but then had Jim wake her up for them this morning. Merry and I stayed up as late as we could, painting Chrissy’s room, but we crashed around 3am (about 2 hours from peak). We did see one streak though, and it was cool, with a long tail.

Friday, November 23rd

The Moment of Truth — Christina was dumbstruck after opening her bedroom door. She said the first thing she saw was her “disco” light ball, and then noticed the office divider was “transparent”. Once she realized it was gone, she saw her hew furniture, freshly painted walls, and anything else we snuck work on between her last few visits.

Monday, November 26th

First Day at Work — finally settled into the office, but nothing exciting otherwise. I keep joking about having a reception area with no receptionist.

Saturday, December 8th

Christina has her yearly Christmas sleepover this weekend. I never did the “Cloud Nine” experience as a child, and between that and “Seventh Heaven” (levitation?) really wanted to be initiated into the pre-pubescent Shamanistic rituals. Merry advised against it, and so it remains in the realm of mythos.

Sunday, December 9th

We had Fr. Matt Nycz from our parish over tonight for the Office Blessing. He even blessed Tiger. My wife cooked pierogi and golombki, and then we spent the evening “talking business” about WNYPolonia.Com.

Monday, December 10th

Michelle did the voice mail recording today, now that I have two lines. My cordless headset wire is going though, and it can’t be replaced. It cost about $90, but it lasted a long time under heavy abuse. I’ll squeeze a little more life out and then get another.

Friday, December 14th

My first business meeting was at the office tonight. It was for the parish’s website (OLSHOP.Org) and only two people showed up. Fr. Matt was late back from NYC and other people either forgot or couldn’t find the place in the rain and dark. I got soaked swinging a lantern at the edge of the parking lot.

Tuesday, December 18th

Back to a “normal” schedule with Christina, I had her here today, at least until just before her Christmas play at school. She played a wood percussion instrument for a Chanukah song.

I showed her my earlier poetry (late high school) and she liked it — she even read it to her “boyfriend”, John. I guess I was pretty obsessed with love poems, death, and other abstractions.

Monday, December 24th

It’s hard to believe Christmas is tomorrow. Saturday, I finished Christmas shopping with Christina at the Galleria Mall. It wasn’t that crowded.

The “plaza” is being renovated, namely painting the hallways and basements. The lighter colors in the halls took getting used to, but I’m starting to like them and other people have given a positive reaction as well. I only hope they go through and spackle and touch up all the places they should have earlier. I’m just glad they didn’t do B Building yet, where people would have had to take down lots of decorations right BEFORE the holidays.

Christmas Day

Yesterday, we had Vigilia for the whole family (in-laws). Nowinski’s Pierogi and Golomki (like Mer’s Mom makes it, with rice) made for a nice dinner.

Went to Merry’s parent’s house today after singing at 9AM Mass. We received praise for the “Choirlette” of Merry, a cantor, and myself. Kate, (the cantor), who usually hates Haugen’s Mass of Creation, really likes the harmonies Merry and I used as taught by Tony Kunz, our choirmaster at SS. Peter & Paul.

After an hour of opening gifts, there was so much still under the tree, it looked like we hadn’t even started! I got model airplanes, excessive chocolate, a couple of CD-ROM games (Roller Coaster Tycoon & Star Trek Away Team), and really nice dress shirts, including a couple of silk ones!

Snow was getting bad in Cheektowaga, only a light dusting here. We left early, as a growing cold finally won out, spending a quiet evening at home.

Boxing Day

Lake Effect. Those two dreaded words, where an unfrozen lake means business in vertical inches of snow. MANY inches. At five in the morning, Merry got up and called the plowing contractor, Ed Christy. He was called yesterday after church about having just enough snow to make a run, but he never returned the call. By 9am, it was a mess.

The town plows were on their third run, but getting to the street was not in the cards for a while. <Fisher Park Parking Lot Images>

I left an answering machine message for “maintenance”, and

Everyone came together, and Merry served Hot Chocolate. We had beaten it. Or, at least the first round was over.

Friday, December 27th

Round Two. The lot looks just like it did early yesterday, but surrounded by tall snowbanks. It would have been a flat plane of snow with an invisible lot of cars underneath if we hadn’t done what we did yesterday. And we were expecting MORE snow. <Fisher Park Parking Lot Images>

We busted out a few cars, but it didn’t make any sense. There was a driving ban. The county declared a State of Emergency. The National guard was called in. The guy who plowed yesterday busted his universal joint when he hit his own driveway, and can’t find a mechanic open to get HIM towed and on the road.

I called an Disaster Control meeting at 2:30 and half the tenants showed up. We took stock of needs and supplies. People shared groceries. We sent out “three brave young men” on a two hour journey to TOPS and back to get toilet paper, milk, and a much needed prescription. Best of all, people who didn’t know they were neighbors met for the first time and found strength in unity.

The evening ended with a nearly-full gibbous moon shining down on some tenants (Ernie from A Building, Rich from B Building, and Dawn from C Building) and myself making the paths clear down to the cement. A shovel I bought at the flea market for farming came in REAL handy for cracking the thicker snow and ice. I “day-dreamt” of digging potatoes or loosening a small plot by hand on my someday farmland.

Sunday, December 30th

Yesterday, we flagged down a 4×4 with a 2×6 blade (“Bob and Dave” from Gowanda searching for plow work) to do another few hundred dollars of plowing. Everyone pitched in again, but there were a few spaces that still couldn’t be worked on because of both volume of snow and incline of the end of the lot, by C Building. It looks really well considering. The icicles are getting big though, and I’m knocking them off every chance I get so the gutters don’t get torn down like last year.

Mike came over with his computer, which is now set up in the reception area. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it to file share, so we had to swap a half-dozen ZIP disks to burn a CD for Larry. For the life of me, I haven’t been able to burn a CD with any software since I upgraded to ME. I can use the CD-ROM drive, but the system won’t recognize it as a writable device.


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