Albany


I snapped the picture below this morning while I walked to the bus. There was no particular reason for taking it and most of the images that I grab with my digital camera are quite random. Nevertheless, when I looked at it, it provided me a more profound thought than I anticipated.

Ever since I moved into my apartment here in Albany, for as long as I can remember there hangs outside of a barber shop around the corner from me, a broken barbers pole. Not too many barber’s have them anymore and I’m not entirely sure anyone really thinks about them, but the image of one of these contraptions will certainly always conjure up for me the thought of an old man with scissors in his hands, shaving cream warming on a counter and from a radio somewhere in the shop Glenn Miller.

An middle aged man from my parish runs the place on my corner and although he seems to do steady business, the candy-striped pole has never been fixed. It is shattered and its colors faded. I’m not sure its of any importance to him to ever have it fixed. Who does one call anyway for that sort of thing? Are there barber shop pole repairment? Parts dealers?

Personally, I don’t care if it’s fixed or not, but I wonder if the man says to himself that he’ll get around to fixing it. It’s like that with so many things from broken windows to fences in need of mending and buttons on jackets. We seldom get things done on time it seems. Instead, we procrastinate or simply put things at the bottom of our priorities. Making money is tantamount to this barber staying in business and before he replaces a contraption that will undoubtedly raise his electric bill, he’s gotta make the bottom line.

In the last three weeks I have neglected to clean my apartment as I should. I have been busy at work and organization of the place I live has taken a back seat. Who knows when I’ll pick myself up and do it. So many things never get done.

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More than four years after the invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation of a formerly sovereign–albeit corrupt and dictatorial nation–the United States has lost more than 3,100 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors in the conflict. Compared to the numbers of my father and grandfather’s conflicts, Vietnam and World War II respectively, the totals of American dead are much less. In comparison to the the combined combatant deaths of the American Civil War (1861-65), the amount of armed forces personnel is miniscule, less than 1 percent, in fact.

Taken into consideration that the total loss of American life in Iraq, which includes armed forces personnel, private contractors, public officials and journalists,  is relatively low, Americans who support the war tend to write off the sacrafice that is paid in life.

On their syndicated radio programs, both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have used the comparatively low armed forces deaths as a rebuke towards the anti-war movement.

Limbaugh cites scurilous statistics to conclude that an Army soldier is safer in Baghdad than he or she is in the streets of crime-plauged American cities such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Not only does this reasoning cheat Americans of a fair analysis of the War in Iraq, it is also wholly irrelevant. Our is a nation based upon the Enlightenment principles of reason and intellect, not simply emotion. Our joy and tears should take a back seat to the objective measurement of cost and benefit.

Wars are not fought with the consideration of the soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines fighting them, but of the compelling national interest that would motivate Congress to pay to send people into harm’s way–the Constitution in particular.

As long as a war in Iraq is fought the troops will and must be a consideration. The problem is however, that both sides treat armed forces personnel like children and until they stop doing that an objective analysis of the war and its costs will scarcely be considered.

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I suppose it can be. After a late night ice hockey game (I scored!), I still feel beat up and exhausted. Not really sure that there is much I can do right now.

I’m getting a little down about the whole situation as far as searching for jobs is concerned. There are a lot of really shitty jobs out there. Even in the Albany area, which can boast one of the best economies in the Northeast–outside of the major cities–there are just a lot of really boring, mind numbing jobs that are posted.

I see a counselor for anxiety and other issues and he is a career counselor as well. He works for the Diocese of Albany and is a really neat guy so far. Anyway, he’s suggested that I read What Color is Your Parachute on the side of another book he has assigned me.

Never have I been able to apply too well the wisdom doled out in those types of books, but as I know where to get a free copy, I’ll give it a shot. I deserve to help myself.

The last 18 months have been rough. I’ve been through a lot. I was laid off from my job as a newspaper reporter, which in itself wouldn’t have been so bad had it not hurt my chances of getting back in the field. I was going through a lot of anxiety unrelated to the job, when I began working there. I’d uprooted after graduating and basically said goodbye for good to a four-year relationship. Never did I have much guidance, as I was assigned to a field office. I just hated it in general. But I’d like to be a reporter again at some point.

I can get mad or see the situation for what it is. Some things aren’t meant to be and that’s alright. Maybe everything has a point and a purpose. I love to write but I love to write about things I love to write about, not village board meetings in shitkicker locales or whatever new thing an editor wants to exploit to stay hip.

This last year has been punctuated by shitty jobs. I made it to the third round of what could have been an awesome government job, but was passed over for a more qualified candidate. I’m going to send my resume over again in case. Just in case she’s moved on to greener pastures.

Well, maybe I can do something interesting tonight. Hell, when all else fails, just get loaded!