Handicapping the Already Challenged

High on the list of very enjoyable presentations at the conference in Lake Placid a couple weeks ago was “How to Work with Differently-Abled Clients”, given by the NYS SBDC’s Mike Soufleris, who I warned I might put in my blog. Mike’s a great guy, but he’s had trouble holding on to vehicles; they tend to get stolen from him. Don’t ever park next to him.

One of the exercises involved listening to a tape where certain sonic qualities were lost. People asked to have it turned up, but it didn’t help much. It was a great demonstration about how the hearing-impaired have to deal. Another activity involved putting a headset on one person so that she couldn’t hear at all, and for two others to try to figure out how to communicate with her. (Hint: getting up close and yelling doesn’t work.)

The discussion about the barriers that those who are physically impaired have to deal with was also intriguing. But when I participated in the discussion, it touched off a very raw nerve. I’m sure it was because it reminded me of the inconsiderate things I see in my neighborhood almost daily. They’ve been bugging me for a while.

There are a couple people who park their cars so that it blocks the sidewalk. I can get around if I’m on foot. But if I’m pushing a baby carriage or a cart for transporting groceries, I have to go back to the PREVIOUS driveway, ride in the street, and come back the NEXT driveway. It CAN be a busy street. And what of someone in a wheelchair or a walker? Or a blind person?

Another regular irritant involves the people who stop at the local bagel shop “for just a minute” and stop in the crosswalk, because “there’s nowhere to park.” I’ve seen this when there was a good spot two or three car lengths away. One time, I saw a blind man walk across the street; his cane hit the car, and he was totally disoriented. (I was too far away from him to help.) Fortunately, someone closer came to his aid. But it oughtn’t to have necessary.

Fantasy #1: I “key” them. The reality: I was raised too well – Mom and Dad’s fault, no doubt. Also, I don’t know if that would be commensurate with their rude act. Also, I believe that it’s illegal.
Fantasy #2. The reality: Oh wait, I may DO Fantasy #2 someday. It doesn’t cause damage, and I don’t THINK it’s illegal. It’s definitely commensurate with their behavior. Yeah, maybe I will…

What’s in a (Band) Name?

I went to see the Funk Brothers and the Family Stone Experience in Washington Park back on May 14. It was great, but it got me to thinking: When personnel changes in a rock group, can it still be considered that group? There were, last I knew, TWO splinter groups from Sly and the Family Stone, both with original members. Since NEITHER includes Sly, there’s no issue of being the real thing. But there have been other bands during the years that have had more complicated issues.

The Beatles: When the Beatles broke up in 1970, it was considered “Paul’s fault” in some circles. After all, he had the audacity to put out his first solo album at about the same time as Let It Be. (Even though the others had all released solo discs earlier.) And he had different management (the Eastmans, Linda’s kin) than the others (Allen Klein). There was a widespread rumor at the time that the Beatles would re-form with Lennon, Harrison, Starr, Billy Preston (keyboardist on Get Back) and Klaus Voorman (designer of the Revolver album cover) on bass. Would they have been accepted as “The Beatles”? I seriously doubt it. They could survive the switch from Pete Best to Ringo Starr on the cusp of their stardom, but as the icons they became, there could be no substitutes.

The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman was the line-up, with Ian Stewart as session and tour keyboardist. In June of 1969, guitarist Jones quit the group, quickly replaced by Mick Taylor. (Jones died a month later.) Taylor left in December of 1974; Ronnie Wood played (on loan from the Faces) on the 1975 tour, and the following year is installed as a permanent member. Bassist Wyman calls it quits in 1994. It seems that the Rolling Stones will survive as long as the Glimmer Twins (Jagger, Richards) continue to perform. With a new album and tour in 2005, it is still very much an active band.

The Beach Boys: Brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine (replaced briefly in 1962 and 1963 by David Marks) were the band. Brian quit touring in 1966, replaced briefly by Glen Campbell, and more permanently by Bruce Johnston. Dennis drowned in 1983. When Carl Wilson, Alan Jardine, Mike Love, and Bruce Johnston toured as the Beach Boys through 1997, there was a real legitimacy. But Carl died in 1998. [I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shortly after Carl’s death, where they had a nice tribute piece to him and to another Carl who had died recently, Carl Perkins.] Mike Love and Bruce Johnston regained the legal right to use the Beach Boys name and have been touring as “The Beach Boys” ever since. Even with short-timer David Marks, it’s hard for me to accept this band as the Beach Boys. Maybe if Mike & Bruce kissed and made up with Brian & Al (who was a respondent in a lawsuit for using the Beach Boys’ name in his “Al Jardine’s Family & Friends Beach Band”, featuring Al’s sons, Brian’s daughters, and several former Beach Boys’ backing musicians), then THAT would be the Beach Boys.

Herman’s Hermits: There’s the group headed by Barry Whitwam; it also featured Derek Leckenby before he died in 1994. Then there’s Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone, which at least has the original Herman. The two groups create an unfortunate dilution of legitimacy.

Bob Dylan: No, wait, he’s solo artist. He’s just had so many phases in his career. He is 64 today – happy birthday to the “unwilling counterculture icon.”

I liked what Cream did. They break up, the name’s done, even though 2/3s of them (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker) end up in Blind Faith. And when there’s a Cream reunion this year (with Jack Bruce), there’s no question of their legitimacy.

Say, this is FUN! Think I’ll do it again with some more groups some other time.

A lap around the lake

Reflections about Lake Placid:

The hotel where we stayed was on a short but steep hill; taking it slowly was advisable. It wasn’t too onerous, though I broke a sweat pushing the baby carriage up on the one hot day we had.

Right at the bottom of the hill is Mirror Lake. It’s called that because when you’re on the far side of the lake, you can see the buildings of Main Street reflected in the water as though it were…you get the idea. The conference presenters, including myself, received a framed photo of the lake, which is quite lovely. The path around the lake is a 2.7 miles of red brick.

There is a Kate Smith library (which is but one room) in the hotel, and a couple blocks from the hotel, a Kate Smith Avenue. Several other places are named for the singer as well. She summered there for 40 years and was baptized in the village in 1965. For more about Kate (and to hear “God Bless America” in an interminable loop), you can go here.

One afternoon just off the hotel lobby, there was some kid hitting on a stuffed seven-foot (or so, it was seated) bear that was perched on a bobsled from the 1932 Olympics (or a good replica of same), while his mother watched, seemingly unconcerned. I was quite annoyed until I realized what a great headline it would make: “Belligerent Boy Beats Bobsled Bear.”

There was a bakery that had THE most annoying sign on its wall – 35 “stupid” things that their customers have asked, and their “clever” responses:
“Do you bake everything here?” “No, we have it flown in from Chicago. The plane lands right on Main Street to deliver daily.”
“Aren’t you hot in here?” “Yes, but we can eat what we want and sweat it off.”
“What’s a Snickerdoodle?” “There is a sign in the showcase. It is in front of a Snickerdoodle.”
“Is that ALL you have?” “No, we keep the really good stuff for ourselves to eat later.”
And my personal favorite:
“Do you have any water?” “No, we lick our dirty dishes clean.”
My wife wouldn’t go back there because of this rude “humor” (and despite the quality of its pastries), and I absolutely agree with her on this. Telling your customers that they’re stupid is a bad marketing plan.

That sign is much worse than the one I saw in a Lake Placid restaurant a couple years ago. I’m paraphrasing the first part, but the second is a direct quote: “We cook your food to order. Not responsible for overcooked meat.”

I’ve been here twice in the past three years, and I’d come again any time. (But I’ve never been here in the winter, nor during the notorious black fly season, so maybe not ANY time.)

Our driver on the way home, the Hoffinator, warned us to expect a roadblock on Interstate 87 so that officials could check for illegal immigrants. This is not at the Canadian border crossing, but some 20-25 south of there. She had made the trip up to Lake Placid and back to Albany several times in helping to plan the conference. But, surprise – no checkpoint. We were oddly disappointed.

What was it that Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, while she clicked the ruby slippers?

The RULES (Part 1 of 37)-The Name Game

You’ve got a lot of rules for somebody from Binghamton.

No, not THOSE Rules. MY rules. I don’t mean like “Follow the Golden Rule,” (which I try to do). It’s more like, “When I get a new album, I must play it at least three times before I file it away” or “When I play racquetball, and the score gets into a rut, I must find arcane ways to recite the score” or “Almost any song can be done in chicken, the more bombastic, the better. Ode to Joy and Smoke on the Water are good examples.”

I knew I had rules, but until we got into naming Lydia, I don’t think that Carol was aware of my naming rules. *I* wasn’t aware of my naming rules. When you’ve never had a child, naming is more a conceptual thing, as it were.

So the rules were:

  • No name in the top 10 in the Social Security list of most popular names for the most recent year available. There will be enough Emmas in her kindergarten class (but Emma IS a lovely name).
  • No naming after any family member, living or dead. I want her to have her own identity. And I didn’t want, “Oh, you named her after Aunt Hortense!” We’ll call her Little Horty!” No, you won’t.
  • No unisex names: Terry, Madison, e.g. This comes directly from the fact that my father AND my sister were both named Leslie. Confusion ensued, and often at my expense. Since my father had a child named Leslie, it was ASSUMED it was his ONLY son, i.e., me. “Hey, little Les,” one guy from church constantly called me. “That’s NOT my name,” I’d mutter under my breath (but never aloud, for that would have been considered rude.)
  • It had to have two or more syllables, to balance off the shortness of Green.
  • No names that easily went to the nickname. Elizabeth is in the top 10 anyway, and which variation (Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Betty, Betsy, or several others) would ensued? No thanks.
  • It should have a recognizable spelling. While a few people have spelled her name as Lidia, most have opted for the more traditional option.
  • No names beginning and ending with A. This is a practical consideration. I have a niece named Alexandria. Carol has nieces named Adrianna and Alexa. One of Carol’s best friends has a daughter named Ariana. And there are several others. Having but one child, I didn’t want to run through a litany before I found hers.

    So, Lydia it was, named in part after a woman in Acts who was rich even to put up the apostle Paul and this cohorts. It was only later that a friend pointed out that the church I attended as a child, Trinity A.M.E. Zion, was on the corner of Lydia and Oak, and that I walked down Lydia Street every day on my way to school. Obviously, I knew this to be factually true, but never crossed my consciousness.

    The only downside to her name has been those streams of choruses from Marx Brothers’ fans of “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”, a song that had TOTALLY slipped my mind.

    So, even with RULES, tattoos happen. But so do encyclo-pidias.

  • JEOPARDY! Part 0

    I had fully intended to talk about my JEOPARDY! experience from 1998, starting today. Unfortunately, I’ve had limited computer time recently, and moreover, I have little time at home to do the research. (It was only seven years ago; you’d think I’d remember every detail as though it were yesterday. But, NO. Memory cells lie gasping on the side of the road.) SOON.

    So, I thought I’d write about…JEOPARDY!
    First off, I haven’t watched it since last Tuesday, May 10. So, PLEASE don’t ask me what I’ve thought about the end of the “Ultimate Championship”. In due course, I will watch these shows IN ORDER. I almost always watch the show IN ORDER. If I happen to catch that some person had won the game I’ve not seen, it diminishes the enjoyment somewhat. (I’ve also taped World Series games, and some “March Madness” basketball games”, and as long as I don’t know the outcome, it a great watching experience – better because I can zap through the commercials, and close basketball games tend to have coaches using all of their timeouts, which means a LOT of commercials, near the end.

    On the other hand, during the first round of the JEOPARDY! tournament, I watched some games out of order, because it didn’t inform who won a previous match that I didn’t see. Likewise, in some of the other tournaments with 15 players, I’ll watch the first week Monday-Friday shows in any order so long as I avoid the end of Friday’s “who makes it to the next round” segment. The following week, M-W in any order, with the same caveat. The final two days IN ORDER.

    The other rule is that you oughtn’t to call me between 7:30 and 8 pm, Eastern time, because I’m not likely to answer. Indeed, there were folks over at my house, and someone wanted to take a picture of Lydia, Carol and me DURING Double JEOPARDY! I was not accommodating. (In other words, I ignored him.) If he’d asked three minutes later, which was during that four minute gap between Double and Final JEOPARDY, I would have posed gladly.

    Finally, I never mock players on the set for not knowing an answer. I AM surprised (and REALLY PLEASED) when I get Final when none of the constants do. I WILL, however, mock bad betting. If one’s in first place, one has to bet enough to win if the person in second place bets it all. Conversely, Second only really has to bet enough to be ahead if he/she gets it right and First gets it wrong (assuming that Third is in as distant third. If Third’s close, Second should bet similar to the way First bets in relation to Second. (Wha?)

    OK, say, at the end of Double Jeopardy!, the totals are $14,000, $10,000 and $9,000. First should bet twice what Second has (2 X 10,000=20,000) less First’s score (-$14,000) + 1, or $6,001. Second will have to bet $8001 to protect against Third. BUT if Third has only $6000, Second can bet $4001, enough to win if First gets it wrong, quite possibly even if Second gets it wrong as well. Being in First is great because, if you get it right and bet enough, you can’t lose. Being in a close second is great, because you can win if it’s a really tough Final.

    On the other hand, if you REALLY hate the topic, bet little and hope for the best.