Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Only A Couple Of Minutes

Two things I hate: liars and bad service.

Two weeks ago I stopped in to Hobie's Sports bar in downtown Plattsburgh for a pizza slice.  It wasn't too busy that evening.  They told me they didn't have any slices to go  but a pie was in the oven and would be ready "in a couple of minutes."

I waited. And waited.  Half-an-hour later the slice was ready.

This evening I stopped in at Hobie's to grab a slice and go.  Two plain slices were sitting  behind the counter window but I was told they were promised to someone else. They said a pie was in the oven and slices would be ready "in a couple of minutes."

Three different pies come out of the oven for delivery and in-house eating.  Apparently there was no pie in the oven that would provide slices "in a couple of minutes."  I wait over fifteen minutes and leave.

I've gone to many pizza places and they were honest about how long it would take.  Usually they had slices ready to go in a few minutes after being warmed up in the oven.

Hobie's is the first place to ask me to pre-pay for my pizza but I declined.  I'm glad I did or I would be waiting "only two minutes" for a refund.

Next time I'll get a supermarket frozen pizza and toss it in the microwave oven.  The directions on the box don't lie about how long it actually takes.  Also the microwave oven provides good service.

Monday, July 27, 2015

ADA: 25 years Later The Struggle Continues

© 2015 Luke T. Bush

NCCI Executive Director Robert Poulin uses a computer program to enlarge screen details, an important feature for people with visual impairment.  (Background photo-edited to fix distracting elements.)

Impasse.  Sidewalk seating for restaurant diners blocks your way.  One option: back up your wheelchair and bypass the obstruction by riding in the street, an unsafe choice.  Or jump the curb, a really unsafe maneuver.

But you take the option of standing up for your rights.  Able-bodied restaurant employees and owners might be annoyed but you ask for the seating and the perimeter chains to be moved back, creating a wide enough space.  You now can now pass through.  There’s enough room for everyone.

But later the seating and chains are moved back to their previous locations: the barrier remains.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted way back in 1990.  This civil rights bill was to bring about equal access for all people with physical and mental disabilities.  So why do the same problems exist?

In a word: inertia.  The tendency for communities like Plattsburgh City to stay at rest, a tremendous weight ignoring change.  The greatest barrier to the disabled.

But it’s not just private businesses that aren’t ADA compliant.  Local public officials also resist change, saying the required modifications for governmental properties are too expensive. 

But after 25 years that excuse shouldn’t be an issue says Robert Poulin, Executive Director of the North Country Center for Independence (NCCI).

“Part of [the problem] is an unfunded mandate,” he says.  Laws are created, requirements are made, but without the needed funding to back them up.

“If you have to put an elevator in your structure,” he explains, “that’s a major capital project.”

While acknowledging the expense Robert points out that there has been enough time for the responsible entities to build such projects into their budgets.

“They didn’t do that,” he says, “and they still use the same excuse [cost].  It can’t go on forever.”

He points out that tax credits can defray the expense.

“I think there is a real fatigue in the disability community,” he continues.  “It is running out of patience when it comes to the same tired arguments.”

Another factor besides advocacy, says Robert, is an aging population.  More baby boomers will end up disabled in their later years.  They’re aware of the challenges they will encounter. 

He observes: “The disability community is the one minority group where there’s a likelihood that you’re going to end up in it.”

In a recent press release NCCI calls upon the Plattsburgh City Mayor and Common Council to order an ADA accessibility audit of all municipal properties, programs and services.  This survey should be completed in a year.  

It would include a look at workplace accessibility, Robert adds.  This is a problem for people in the disability community who want to be employed but face barriers hindering their employment.

The press release states: “It is time to stop making excuses and start obeying the law.”

Something to think about when dining comfortably outside, your seat an impasse to a person in a wheelchair just trying to safely move along.

*  *  *

The offices of the North Country Center for Independence are located at 80 Sharron Avenue, Plattsburgh City, NY.  More info: .  Phone:(518) 563-9058 .

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Kill The Hippie Protesters!

(Click on image to enlarge.)

(C) 2015 Luke T. Bush


Civil disobedience brings out the love in some people.  Especially the conservative types.

I scanned the comments at pertaining to the news story about activists chaining themselves to fuel delivery trucks, protesting the use of fossil fuels in general and fracking in particular.  [ ]

The hateful comments against the protesters are probably hyperbole but you wonder how far someone might go if he "could get away with it."

Of course the WCAX-TV site was probably one of many that had similar comments posted. But after reading the over-the-top comments at I felt I needn't go further to find such vehemence elsewhere.

For example:

   -- Francis B. Callahan: "I wouldn't stop for a bunch of idiots in the middle of the road" 

   -- Steve Farrow:  "Run them over, drag them! you want to play stupid then stupid things should happen!"

   -- NEK Snowmobile trail updates:  "Cut these bastartds (sic) arms off,... then next time their legs... waste of human skin these morons."

Can you feel the love?

To be fair allowed a variety of comments, especially from those defending the protesters.  One pro-protester took one right-winger to task for his extreme comment, saying that if the right-winger wasn't being humorous then he should be reported to the police.

But don't take my word for it.  Below are more screencap excerpts of the angry anti-protester comments.   Note that there weren't any implied threats of violence from the liberals or moderates.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Remembering The 47

(C) 2015  Luke T. Bush


The picture was held up for all to see.  The name of the deceased was spoken.

The participant then read the text attached to the back of the photo, a short paragraph providing key details about a life taken too soon.

Each of the 47 victims was remembered at the memorial held Monday evening at 30 City Hall Place.

Two years ago on this date a runaway train hauling oil tankers derailed in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec.  Explosions obliterated the town center.  The erupting fireballs were so intense that five bodies were never found.  Vaporized into nothingness.

The train had been carrying Bakkan crude, a dangerous cargo because explosive gasses remained in the mix.  The same cargo that passes through our area, the North Country, every day.

A speaker at the memorial pointed out the window at the nearby railroad tracks just across the river.  Mary-Alice Shemo, a member of the local activist group People for Positive Action, said downtown Plattsburgh would be in the blast zone if a derailment resulted in a Lac-Megantic disaster.   

She invited people to share their perspectives on the bomb train problem.  "Everyone knows something," she said, "but nobody knows everything."

Mary-Alice said that people had to come together, not act as separate individuals.  

"None of us can solve the problem with our little Superman selves," she continued.  Group, not individual, action could be more effective because everyone had something helpful to offer.

John Andrus, retired director of the Clinton County Public Health Department, spoke about the dangers of the oil tankers.   He had watched a YouTube video by the National Transportation Board that downplayed what really happened at Lac-Megantic.  The video implied that fire, nothing else, caused all the death and destruction.

He disagreed.  "[Each tanker] was a bomb, an oil bomb, a gas bomb."

He compared to how a tanker could explode with the analogy of a soda bottle being shaken, the CO2 gas creating pressure.

But the oil tankers weren't carrying CO2, he said, but gasses such as methane, ethane, and butane.  So why weren't these gasses extracted before shipping? 

"It takes time," Jack explained, "to fractionate out the gasses. And time costs money on the production end of the cycle." 

One solution, he said, was divesting from any stock in the companies responsible for the danger, railroads and Big Oil.  "That is one way to get their attention to make it safer."

The bottom line, he concluded, was getting off the carbon cycle.

Later the group gathered next door at Macdonough Monument for a candlelight vigil.

City and railroad police officers were monitoring the vigil from across the street.  As if any peaceful activist posed a threat.  A matter of paying attention where it wasn't needed.

The real threat: an oil tanker explosion obliterating downtown Plattsburgh.

And the bomb trains keep rolling along.