Thursday, January 22, 2009

Medical Mart

I love Cleveland. When you live here, you never get bored reading about our *ahem* city leaders. For those not in the area, Cleveland has been talking about building a medical mart for a couple of years. I think every resident is still somewhat fuzzy on what a medical mart is but it seems to be a convention center type place that specializes in hosting shows focusing on sales of technology and equipment for the medical community. This is supposed to be the latest way to bring money into Cleveland.

Last year, the city enacted an additional sales tax to help pay for this thing. So far they've collected about $42 million and thus far, nothing of consequence has been done. Some lawyers and consultants have made six-figure salaries, but that's about it. The main thing they were trying to decide is a location. It was between Tower City, the complex of shopping, hotel, and rapid transit station under the Terminal Tower, and the old Cleveland Convention Center, and underused and abysmal building.

In the Plain Dealer a few days ago, they had an article about site selection. One person they cited was a guy who has been in the convention business his whole career. The Plain Dealer basically said this guy has forgotten more about the convention business than most people involved in the project know. He was quoted as saying that the old convention center is an absolutely horrible building in a horrible location and that building the new medical mart there would be an absolute disaster.

Can you guess which site our "leaders" picked? I'll bet you can. They picked the disaster site. Yes, projections indicate this may cost $100 million less than building at Tower City but what's the long term cost? The project will still cost $400 million (plus you know there will be cost overruns). If the mart ends up being a disaster and no one comes or it's hardly used, we will have wasted $400 million to save $100 million.

Granted, I wasn't part of the discussion. I haven't been in any of the meetings. Maybe these people know something I don't. But what I can say is that I have no faith in Cleveland leadership to get anything right. They screwed up the Euclid Corridor Project. They haven't managed to do anything to re-vitalize the city and if there's a wrong decision to make here, I'm sure they'll make it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Too Cold for Our Wittle Darlings

So the kids in my city had no school on either this past Thursday or Friday. Ostensibly this was because it was so cold (which it was). Apparently, it doesn't matter that fewer kids walk to school now than ever. Still, it was pretty cold and for those kids that do walk, I'm sure they appreciated it.

That being said, what's the longest walk any of these kids probably have? 20 minutes? Maybe 30? Again, not great given the weather but how serious is it really? Apparently not that serious.

The front page of the Saturday Plain Dealer had four photos of people dealing with or doing things on Friday. The bottom right corner was a 10 year old kid who spent the day at Boston Mills ski resort. So, seemingly it was far too cold for this kid to go to school, where he would have been in a heated building most of the day, but it wasn't too cold to go to a ski resort.

Such is the fallacy of "cold days" and "snow days" in school systems. The theory is that school is called off because it's too dangerous or treacherous to go. But go to any mall on one of these days and you'll see these same kids had no problem getting there. It must just be dangerous driving to school but the roads to the malls and ski resorts are apparently cleared. It's such absolute bullshit.

Here's my solution: change the school calendar. Instead of giving kids off the Summer, give them off the worst of the Winter. Suspend school from December through February instead of June through August. That way, our precious little darlings will be protected and the school system can save money by cranking down the heat in the buildings. AC in the Summer will be cheaper that heat in the Winter, and you only need air conditioning when it's really hot.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Miracle" on the Hudson

Okay, so yesterday a US Air jet crashed into the Hudson river after apparently flying into a flock of birds that took out both engines. Birds are actually pretty dangerous to airplanes. A significant minority of military plane crashes have been blamed on run-ins with birds. Since the pilot did such a great job of landing the plane in the water and no one was seriously hurt, he's being called a hero and the whole event labeled a "miracle."

Miracles aside, I think the pilot did a great job and definitely is to be commended. But does anyone notice anything funny about the picture I've posted here, and all the pictures of this crash?

I'll tell you what I notice. I notice that this picture looks absolutely nothing like the drawings of water landings on the safety cards in the seatbacks of any planes I've ever flown on. When you read the safety card for the plane, it almost always shows the plane serenely sitting on top of the water with the inflatable exits extended and apparently propping the plane up. Passengers in the drawings are smiling as they slide down what looks to be a pretty fun little ride. The flight attendant stands by the opening, cheerfully assisting passengers down the slide and into little inflatable life boats.

That's not what I saw in the Hudson yesterday. I saw no inflatable life boats and one inflatable slide. I did not see friendly flight attendants helping gleeful passengers calmly exit the plane. I saw a plane nearly fully submerged. I saw people in frigid water and on stretchers.

Again, the flight crew did a great job and what we saw on TV yesterday was exactly what we'd expect to see. But it highlights the sheer stupidity of the in-flight safety cards. The plane yesterday was barely off the ground and still basically sank when it landed in the water. Hitting the water from a couple thousand feet in the air is like landing on concrete. So both from low altitude and higher altitude, I think the safety cards are wildly optimistic about your chances. Then again, I suppose it might not make people too comfortable if the drawings depicted what really happens.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Elevator Etiquette

I've now worked in a downtown highrise for 3 years and there's something I've watched consistently over that time that bothers me and is inexplicable. Women always get to get in the elevator first. I don't understand this. I was never taught this as a child. It seems to be some unwritten rule that everyone simply abides by.

Now, I know what you're thinking. It's merely a chivalrous act. A holdover from the days when men always opened doors for women, etc. Of course this is what's going on. I understand it from that point of view. But as a symbolic act, it just doesn't make any sense to me. Opening a door for a woman makes sense. Doors can be heavy and awkward. Even if a woman is stronger than the man she's with, historically we wanted women to appear to be the weaker sex. I still generally open doors for women, if they allow it.

But the elevator makes no sense. By letting women board first, I'm not easing any physical burden for them. In my building, the elevators are awful. On any given week, at least one is broken. So, when you come to work in the morning, you may have to wait several minutes to get on one.

This morning when I came in, I arrived at the elevator bank simultaneously with 5 other men. One pushed the button and we waited. The elevator came about three minutes later and by then, another 2 men and 4 women had shown up. As soon as the light when on for the elevator that arrived, all the women moved to be right in front of it and, sure enough, got on first when the doors opened. One of the guys who initially got there when I did didn't even make it on. He had to wait for the next elevator. This is ridiculous. Aren't we all supposed to be equal now? I mean, we're all trying to get to work. Opening doors and paying for dinner is one thing but I don't understand why women should be given preferential treatment to elevators.

I guess what bothers me is not that men step aside and let women board first. It's that women now expect this, as if it is some inalienable right. Like the women this morning. They didn't wait until the door opened and a man asked them to please go first. They simply cut right in front of all the men who had been there longer and assumed they should get on first. It reminds me of driving. In the old days, if a person wanted to come into your lane they would signal and you'd slow down to let them in or flash your lights to let them know. Then they would wave to you to acknowledge the gesture. When I drive now, most people don't even signal their intentions and if you do take action to let them get in front of you, they almost never give an acknowledging wave anymore. It's as if people feel they simply have to right to get in front of you if they want. They don't acknowledge that you have taken an affirmative step to exhibit a small act of kindness. Frankly, this has led me, and I suspect others, to exhibit fewer acts of kindness. I don't need anyone to praise me, but if I'm going to do something nice for someone, there's nothing wrong with at least a simple acknowledgement. I guess I also believe that if people want equality, then they should be reticent to accept preferential treatment.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My New Baby

Some people get excited over a new relationship. Me? I get excited over a new guitar. This year, I decided to spend some of my yearly bonus on myself. I usually put all my money in the bank but this year I decided to spend some. So, the first thing I bought was this sweet red Jackson guitar. I was looking for another Ibanez but after playing this one, I was sold. It has EMG pickups and while I've always maintained that a good guitarist can make even a cheap guitar sound good, these pickups definitely make a difference. My finger tips are sore from playing it already and I have to admit, she's a sexy little thing.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Little Holiday Driving Advice

The New Year is almost upon us and it's my sincere hope that all drivers out there can make a few resolutions about how they'll handle their vehicles in the upcoming year. The following are a sample of some resolutions that I'd like to see people embrace that would make my life easier:

1) When it snows on you car, please clean the snow off of more than just a one square foot spot on the front windshield in front of your own face. It doesn't take much more time to brush the snow off the back window and it may actually help you to see what is going on in the other dimensions in which you car travels. While you're at it, brush off the snow on top of your car as well. This will be appreciated by those traveling behind you so that they don't have to deal with the whiteout created by your car. If you're too goddamn lazy to brush off your car, clean some shit out of your garage so you can use it for its intended purpose, parking your car.

2) People need to make several resolutions regarding turn signals. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
a) Please actually use a turn signal. If you're going to yell at me or give me the finger, it would be helpful if I at least knew your intentions so that I could better assess the grievous error I've apparently committed.
b) Understand that just because you put your turn signal on, I am not obliged to let you cut in front of me. It is a courtesy for me to do so, not your birthrite. If I do allow you in, it would not kill you to give an appreciative hand wave.
c) Do not put on your turn signal after you've already started cutting in front of me. That does not make it okay, nor does it in any way lessen my desire to cave in your skull with a Louisville Slugger.
d) If you are stopped at a light and intend to turn, do not wait until the light turns green to turn on your turn signal. The whole point of a turn "signal" is to signal people as to your intentions so that they can take appropriate action. Not using the device in advance really misses the whole point and confirms that you have an IQ at least one standard deviation below the mean.

3) If there is no one in front of you and traffic lights are green, there is no reason to hit your brakes. We all know these people. They incessantly tap their brakes every few feet as if maintaining some sort of vigil for the imaginary deaf child at play who never materializes. You do not have to hit your brakes because something is happening on the side of the road traveling in the opposite direction. You do not have to hit your brakes beause the person in the next lane traveling in the same direction has hit his/her brakes. Just drive the fucking car. If no one stops in front of you and the lights are green, there is no reason to apply your brakes.

4) Okay folks, ostensibly we all passed driver's ed. Apparently, however, some people need a refresher. On a 4 lane road, you do not have to stop for a stopped school bus traveling in the opposite direction from you. I know the little darlings are our future and we're all trying to be hyper-safe but you are a menace if you stop when you're not supposed to. Keep in mind that all the people who passed driver's ed without writing the answers on their palm are not expecting you to stop. If you decide to make up your own laws when driving, don't be surprised if someone follows you home and covers your car with feces.

I could easily go on and on but in the spirit of the holidays, I'll just leave it at these few notions that have been particularly distressing to me in 2008. I doubt anyone will change. We all think we're phenomenal drivers just as we think everyone else is fat, or a bad parent, or not good in bed. All I know is that every time I drive I'm grateful that I haven't yet obtained my concealed carry permit.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Warning!!! Invasion!!!

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm not given to hyperbole. However, I feel it is my duty to alert America to a frightening reality. Not unlike the old sci-fi movie 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,' our television journalists in America are slowly being replaced with supermodels. Or at least some form of pod creature that looks like a supermodel (see photo of CNBC business honey Erin Burnett below).

I'm not exactly sure when this happened but it is definitely an insidious trend. Local news anchorwomen have typically been somewhat comely lasses but lately they are increasingly stunning. I then started noticing that even on the "serious" national news shows, on-site reporters began being replaced with women who could model for Victoria's Secret. Now even sports channels, like ESPN and the NFL network, those bastions of testosterone encumbered reporters, have succumbed. More and more of there on-field reporters are freakishly beautiful women.

I'm not sure of the ultimate plan of these obviously alien lifeforms. For now, I just think we need to be vigilant. There is no doubt they are taking over. However, at this point, they simply seem to be replacing formerly unattractive anchor women and puppet-headed men. I think we can peacefully coexist if that is their only aim. But I for one am going to keep a careful eye on these stunning women bringing me my news and entertainment. In fact, I think I may even need to enroll in journalism school. Befriending these women may be dangerous, but I'll do it for my country.