Archive for December, 2005
At least someone had the gumption to hand it to the TWU today. A judge has imposed a $1 million per day fine on the strikers, and even the International TWU has disavowed support of this strike. I hope the TWU local members send their leadership packing the next time they have an election, because this current batch isn’t doing them a lick of good.
Nothing like the prospect of a transit strike to bring out the inner John Bircher in me. I really dislike how a bunch of misinformed people unhappy with their employer can hold an entire city of 8 million hostage. Transit workers are squealing about losing pension benefits and health care benefits when those issues are not even on the table. What they’re angry about having to contribute part of their salary toward their own health care benefits, like everyone else who works in America does these days. They’re also unhappy about the idea of raising the retirement age from 55 to 62. I have a really hard time feeling sorry for the transit workers.
When cops are unhappy with their contract terms, they don’t walk out. Neither do the firefighters. Whatever it is that makes the transit workers think they can defy the law, and walk out, I find it reprehensible.
Under the law the strike that now seems about 30 minutes away is, patently illegal. This time I hope the state and the city crack down on the union. Let them walk out. Every day they stay off the job, they sacrifice two days of pay. By my count, five days off will cost them a full pay period’s salary, and ten days will cost them a full month. Why not double the fines each day? The strikes third day would cost them eight days pay. The fourth, 16 days, or a full month in total.
It seems to me that it is an accident of history and geography that makes New York more reliant than any other in America on its intricate public transportation system, and therefore, transit workers have the power to walk of the job and bring the commerce and activity of this city to the kind of screeching halt that only Karl Marx and a chorus of marchers chanting “The Internationale” could consider a good thing.
In a strange fit of fascination with the Wikipedia Web site, I decided to write a pair of articles there about things I know. I expanded the article on Garmin, the GPS company. Then I found an old paper I wrote for a journalism history class in college and wrote an entirely new article on The Corvallis Gazette-Times, my old hometown newspaper, and the place where I started my professional career as a reporter in 1989. (I was a sports reporter in those days. Weird, no?)
It’s amazing what you can find out from this thing. I looked up “Yorkville” which is the name of the Manhattan neighborhood in which I live. Now I know the area was home to a lot of German immigrants, but yikes.
I’m a little late in getting around to posting these. I took them a month ago to the day. They’re a few samples from my latest explorations of Central Park.
For references here’s a link to an aerial view of roughly where I was. These three shots were taken around the area labeled “The Pool.”
Directly north of that, is an area known as “The Great Hill,” and while walking around certain parts there, I got the feeling that if you were dropped down there without so much as the slightest clue about where you were, you would not immediately be able to tell you were New York City. It was quiet, there was almost no sound of cars (though there was an intermittent noisy helicopter, it being Marathon Sunday at the time) and there were almost no people around. Accustomed to crowds, I found it a surprising respite from the city’s usual bustle. At first glance at least, it looks almost as wild as some of the places I used to hike out west, right down to the dead trees left to rot. There was almost no visual evidence that I was in a major metropolitan area, until I saw a sign that broke the illusion in a very New York kind of way.
This week I did a short appearance on CNBC. It’s the sort of thing that goes with the job. You write about technology, when TV shows want to cover technology, sometimes they call you to play the expert. But this week I happened upon a VHS tape from a dozen years ago that contains my first TV appearance, from the summer of 1993.
First here’s the setup: That summer I was an intern for the Chamber of Commerce in the tiny Central Oregon town of Bend. It’s primarily a tourist destination where in the winter you ski, and in the summer you play a lot of golf or go whitewater rafting. My internship involved writing a public relations plan for the Chamber. This in itself was unusual because while I was a journalism student at the University of Oregon, where the curriculum includes, among other things a section devoted to PR. I scored the internship despite not having taken a single PR class.
Anyhow, on the second day of the internship I volunteered to help write and research the copy of a brochure for “The Heritage Walk.” The Chamber had teamed up with the Des-Chutes County Historical Museum (the county is officially called Deschutes, pronounced deh-SHOOTS, but the museum for some reason insists on the hyphenated name) to create a walking tour of some of the historically notable buildings around town, including a few houses that were built in the early days, like the Sather House, the Allen Rademacher House, the Lara House and commercial and civic buildings like Pine Tavern and among more than 40 others.
My personal favorite was the O’Kane building, and sadly I can find no suitable link to good information about it. It was in my time, the home of Cafe Paradiso, a European style coffee house with couches and chess boards, and also of Stuft Pizza, a respectable Pizza joint and pub. Apparently the location of the old coffee house bears the obnoxious-sounding name “Soba Noodles” while the old Stuft Pizza location is now Bend City Grill having changed its name from O’Kane’s Grill after a dispute over the use of the O’Kane name with the clearly obnoxious McMenamin’s chain which apparently operates some arriviste establishment bearing the name.
Anyhow, I got involved with the effort to not only help draft the copy, and to help do some of the research on some of the sites, but also to promote the Heritage Walk itself by getting the local media interested, which was pretty easy given that it was August and there were no other major local stories going on.
So there I was, all of 22 years old, and the local morning gab fest “Central Oregon Today” — it was a short local segement that showed during a break-away from NBC”s Today Show — needed a few people to talk about the Heritage Walk “kick off” event which was taking place over the weekend. So here I am, on TV for the first time, with all the cheesy local TV production values and the host’s loud clothing preserved for posterity in Quicktime format.