Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Not About You

Those who know me know that those opening words in Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, hold quite a bit of meaning for me. In my own personal experience, they represent a recurring lesson that I long resisted. They serve as a daily reminder to remain focused on what really matters.

Earlier posts have alluded to my growing fascination with the Democratic candidate for President, Barack Obama. I’m certain that last night’s convention speech cemented any lingering doubts I may have harbored. That surprises even me, though it probably shouldn’t, and is sure to alienate many of my closer associates who know me as a conservative Republican.

I don’t think anyone disputes that Barack Obama is a powerfully eloquent speaker. What many conclude though is that it is just fancy talk…and perhaps that will turn out to be true if and when he gets elected and fails to deliver. I’ll concede that. I’ll also concede that many of his initiatives give me pause because I’m not sure if he’ll be able to pay for them. What I won’t concede is that this country needs to be redirected…on multiple fronts. Historically, we occasionally encounter crossroads. Like Mr. Obama, I believe we are at one. I hope he is the one who can lead us to where we need to arrive.

His fancy talk resonates with me. Not because I am lulled by its promises. I believe great initiatives begin with that kind of talk, in fact, they require it. In my own experiences of trying to motivate people to be better than they believe they can be (myself included), to achieve the seemingly unachievable, to make a difference, to simply not accept what every other fiber of their being is telling them cannot be done, the essence of success can only be embodied in that kind of fancy talk. Achieving begins by doing, and doing begins by believing. Knowing the obstacles and eliminating the doubts is not the same as pretending they don’t exist. I believe solutions and improvements always exist, even when they might not necessarily be apparent. Because something is behind a wall, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Finding the way over, under, around or through the wall is the challenge. It can always be done with the right belief, determination, and perseverance.

I’m sure many of you watched Mr. Obama’s speech, as I did.
I’ve provided a link to the transcript and recommend reading it again even if you saw it, paying particular attention to the latter half of it. Some of the passages that stick out for me and illustrate what I’ve written above are:

“Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility – that’s the essence of America’s promise.”

“What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose – our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.”

“I know there are those that dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what – it’s worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn’t work, all it’s promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it’s best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. … But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you.”

I offer my view not so much to influence your vote but to hopefully get you to consider alternatives to what you may have accepted as unchangeable. If you want better, than you have to demand it. Even more important, you have to believe it can be achieved and then actually participate in the efforts to achieve it.

Fancy talk? Absolutely. But I also believe. And I’m prepared to do my part in achieving an even better America.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


The Town of Rotterdam finally acknowledged that the sewage treatment plant needs an upgrade. Project after project has gotten approval on the misleading supposition that there is plenty of capacity at the treatment plant, but Justin Mason’s article in the Gazette on August 16th ( plainly makes clear the case I’ve been making for some time. The plant is maxed out.

Add up the reported numbers. The plant receives 1.1 million gallons against a total capacity of 1.5 million gallons daily. That leaves 400,000 gallons to play with. But when the Helderberg Meadows project, which required sewers as a condition of approval is built, that will generate an anticipated 150,000 gallons daily, leaving 250,000. Also, if the dry sewers in Eldorado Estates are connected, a logical connection considering the sewer pipe is existent, that would eat up roughly 200,000 of the leftover capacity.

Cause for alarm? Depends on your viewpoint, for sure. The town thinks they are being proactive by commencing a study to examine energy costs as they contemplate adding capacity. As far as that goes, fine. My concern lies in the fact that meaningful sewage treatment upgrades can be multi-million dollar projects. The level of concern rises when you try to reconcile that with the town’s record of inaction after conducting these studies and their unbridled approval of new development.

Not convinced? Consider the additional 300,000 gallons that a Burdeck Street / Route 7 sewer line is estimated to generate, not to mention the combined load of all the other smaller unmentioned approved development that takes place in town. This is an issue we should all be paying close attention to.

Once again, I think it bears noting that a town-wide moratorium would be a good tool to aid the commendable effort now being made to finally address this matter. Lowering energy costs and doing it right is good. Study is good, but only if what we learn is implemented in a timely fashion. A moratorium would reflect a responsible approach to what is shaping up to be a very sizable problem.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mercury Rising

We’re off to a spectacular fund-raising start! The Pink Floyds have already raised $350 towards the fight against breast cancer. That’s 35% of our goal…all in just a few days! Thanks to everyone who donated to this worthwhile cause. Your generosity is truly appreciated.

We’re just getting started and there is still plenty of time before the Walk. Please take a moment to visit our webpage, to make a donation or to learn more about the meaningful difference your involvement can make.

Hope starts with us.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Pink Floyds

Is your name Floyd? Neither is mine, but for one day, Sunday, October 19th, 2008, it can be when we walk in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Please join us to help raise awareness and advance breast cancer research by joining our team, The Pink Floyds!

As many of you are aware, my family and friends annually participate in this event but it has taken on ever-increasing importance since the passing of my dear sister-in-law, Mary O’Connor. We walk for many survivors but especially for Mary, who is my personal inspiration for my strong belief in the phrase, No Excuses…ever. Mary battled passionately, many times seemingly getting the upper hand, only to have the pendulum swing hard the other way. Yet despite the hardships endured and the pain suffered, I rarely heard her complain. She became an example to me of what hope and faith is all about. Sadly, Mary lost her battle but others don’t have to with your help.

This year we are formalizing our fundraising effort by creating The Pink Floyds. We hope you’ll donate to this very worthwhile endeavor. Just as importantly, we hope you’ll join us the day of the walk too. The links below to either our team page, or my personal page, make it easy.

Hope starts with us!


I thought I'd take a moment to mention some noteworthy service I received lately from some businesses here in Rotterdam. I hope I have occasion to do so again.

The first is Adirondack Tire on Curry Road. I have been there twice and received exceptional service both instances. I used to go to Sears for my tires but found their level of service deteriorating consistently past a point I could continue to tolerate. Adirondack Tire, on the other hand, surprised me...twice. They have earned my future business with their pleasant and competent customer approach.

The second is Dunkin Donuts on Curry Road. Admittedly, I am a coffee-holic and with the dependable, consistent service I have been receiving for several years, I'm not likely to break my addiction. I will gladly continue to navigate the dangerous parking lot for my future caffeine fix.

There are many businesses that provide competent, efficient service but I mention these two as standouts. Their emphasis on satisfying the customer is exceptional and I highly recommend both of these outstanding Rotterdam businesses.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


It seems that Change is now the new buzz word for every single candidate for office from the national to the local level. I’m giving the credit to Barack Obama for starting it, though President Bush is probably the most deserving catalyst. When Hillary Clinton realized her approach wasn’t working, she tried unsuccessfully to reinvent herself as a candidate of change. Even John McCain has adopted the mantle of change in his campaign rhetoric.

It didn’t stop there. Candidates of every ilk on the local level are casting themselves in the garb of change too. The most memorable is Assemblyman Amedore who invokes, “Change is Coming.” Let me know when it arrives because I’d love to see it. Speaking of Mr. Amedore, I noticed he’s also using a slogan of “Promises made, promises kept.” I thought he ran last time on a platform to lower my property taxes and prevent Thruway tolls from rising? I’m pretty sure he didn’t succeed on that score in his short time in office, so now instead of promising change, we’re getting a promise that change is coming. I’m not reassured.

But thankfully, some things never change. For instance, the quality of music that The Police produced last night at SPAC was as good as it was 25 years ago when they last graced the stage. Elvis Costello wasn’t too shabby either. And after shelling out for tickets, beer, water, coffee, and a souvenir T-shirt, I had no change.