Christmas Run Amok

Posted by: on Nov 22, 2011 | 3 Comments

As a Jew, I need to start this by saying I’m not anti-Christmas. Many people will read this and think I’m just being anti-religious or howling at the moon. I like Christmas and have even tried to start my own cult – Jews For Christmas. I like the festiveness of the season, the spirituality and the joyfulness of the day. The great Jewish tradition of movies and Chinese food on Christmas Day. Actually, Christmas Day used to be my favorite day to ski. The slopes were usually empty and I always thought they should put blue dye in the snow guns and paint a big star of David on the slopes.

What I want to know is when did “tis the season” start the day after Halloween? Why are radio stations already playing holiday music 24 hours a day? Why have my neighbors already put out their Christmas decorations?  What the hell happened to the Christmas Holiday Season starting the day after Thanksgiving? And why is a Jew the one to point all this out when Christmas is supposed to be about religion, spirituality, family and lot of other things that have nothing to do with overblown commercialism that is now the focus of this very important day?

Speaking of overblown commercialism, let’s talk about Black Friday, which is now Black Thursday as some retailers are opening their stores at 10 PM on Thanksgiving day. Is making your employees show up for work on Thursday at 10 PM or midnight or even 4 or 5 AM on the Friday after Thanksgiving really part of the Christmas spirit? What happened to putting your family first at this joyous time of year? When did the almighty dollar take over Christmas from The Almighty? Why do I feel like this blog post is one big question?  Maybe I have so many questions is because I am Jewish and I’m trying to understand why this has happened.

Moving on, one of the major annoyances at this time of year is the multitude of really bad and obnoxious TV commercials.  Let me rephrase that. There are always really bad and obnoxious commercials on TV. What is really annoying about Christmas commercials as they have been running since Labor Day.

As as an example of what I’m talking about there, take a look at the ebay 12 Days of Christmas spot now running:
I just want to bitch slap that little brat.  I could list many others but you get the point.

Then there’s the car commercials. Oh yes, giving a $50,000+ luxury car is exactly in the Christmas spirit. I love the shock and awe when the person sees that big red bow wrapped around that shiny new (or certified used) car. Anyone out there ever wake-up on Christmas morning and have one of those babies parked in their driveway? Seen one parked on a neighbors driveway? Ever here of anyone getting a car for Christmas? Every seen a car given as a present with a big red bow on it at any time of the year? Just plain stupid.

Well, I gotta wrap (get it…wrap…oh forget it) this up. I could on forever but by that time, Christmas would have passed.  But don’t worry, Memorial Day Weekend is only 6 months away and the way things are going, it will be just in time to break out the Christmas decorations once again.

Old and Overburdened Infrastructure

Posted by: on Nov 3, 2011 | 3 Comments

Old and Overburdened Infrastructure

As many folks are aware and many are living through, a large section of New Jersey and other parts of the other northeast got hit by a freak October snowstorm last Saturday. With fall foliage at it’s peak and the leaves still on the branches, the wet and heavy snow wreaked havoc on trees, bushes and utility wires.  As of today, 5 days after the storm, many of my friends and neighbors are still without power, 2 of the 5 schools in the Millburn School District are still closed (and we’ve used up all our snow days), and things are generally a mess.

Ran into my high school friend Scott this morning, who told me his street in Livingston “looks like Beirut.”  My friend Jodi thinks we are beginning to look a lot like a third world country. Others have described their streets and neighborhoods as “a war zone” or “having been struck by a tornado.”  Coming just 2 months after our area got struck by Hurricane Irene, residents are angry, frustrated, angry, cold, angry, tired, angry and they are angry. If you don’t believe me, read this:

Folks are complaining about the utility companies, the local governments lack of response, the governor, whoever they can think of. As much as I think the utility companies and the government have definitely and completely screwed this whole thing up, I haven’t heard anyone say anything about what’s at the root (pardon the pun) of the problem – the fact that the infrastructure responsible for delivering these basic services to us is in a state of rapid decline. This all goes back to the IraSez philosophy of common sense when it comes to these types of issues.

When you build in a flood plain, it still floods. When you build more houses, offices and other commercial space without more roads and mass transit, you get traffic. When you don’t invest in aging utility poles and electrical wires (let alone new power plants), and you don’t take the time and effort to maintain the areas around those poles and wires, you get what we have now…a gargantuan pain in everyone’s ass! Nobody wants more taxes, nobody wants to spend money on infrastructure, and nobody wants to live through this kind of mess again, let alone twice in 2 months. But at what point do we become proactive instead of reactive? At what point do we say enough is enough? At what point do we start to realize that mother nature has played a big part in all these messes we keep getting into but the lack of investment in the basics that we take for granted will only make situations like this more and more common?

To me the answer is simple – invest in our infrastructure. Common sense, right? How to pay for that?  I’m not getting into that right now but I’m sure there’s a way. Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. Do you know what the name of our nation’s interstate system is? It’s the “Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” because it was built during his administration. Everyone once in awhile you will see a highway sign that says “Part of the Eisenhower Interstate System” or something along those lines. Think about this for a moment. Eisenhower was President in the 50s and there are probably large parts of our nations vital infrastructure that are that old, if not older. People, that’s over 50 years ago! Are the alarms going off yet? Now I’m not saying everything is that old but you gotta think that this is a symptom of the greater cause of our national infrastructure issues.

We all read the news and hear reports about other countries spending billions of dollars on their infrastructure. Economically these countries are leaving us behind, so for anyone who is screaming our government can’t spend more money because it’s going to kill the economy, again let’s think about common sense. Do we have a modern interstate highway system to transport people, goods and services? Do we have a modern national transit system to transport people and goods in a quick and environmental friendly mode (and alleviate the vehicular traffic)? Do we have a power/utility system that is properly maintained, uses the the latest technology and handles the needs of our citizens? Just my opinion but my answers are no, no and no.

What I’m really saying is our towns, our states and our country are beginning to show their age and it’s not a pretty picture.  Common sense tells me we need to do something and it needs to be soon. Common sense also tells me I could re-post this blog in another year and things will be the same…maybe even worse.  Common sense is also telling me it’s time to buy a generator.