18 April, 2014

How to Fix the Airline Industry

As I write this, I am sitting in my room in the Hampton Inn in Alexandria, VA. Why am I in Alexandria, VA? I’m glad you asked. My flight home from Reagan National airport yesterday was canceled and there were no more flights available back to Rochester, so US Air sprung for the room and put me on a flight leaving later this morning.

As part of my new job, I am doing a lot of traveling, and am on 4-6 planes a week. I also am flying on several different airlines.

I have spent the previous 15 years in one customer service role or another, so it is kind of engrained in me. I can’t help but look for high levels of customer service and notice when I’m not getting it. Most of the time, I don’t think much of it. Other times, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

In the past few months, I have been in 12 different airports on 6 different airlines. When you travel that much, it is unlikely that you won’t experience a problem. Sometimes, the airline personnel were helpful, others, left things to be desired.

For the most part, in my experience, the industry as a whole has taken on a very ‘oh well’ attitude when it comes to customer service. As with everything, there are exceptions. I know that margins are razor thin these days, and people are more careful on how they spend their money. I also understand that I am new to the industry, so I do not know all the regulations they have to deal with and the costs and expenses involved with these regulations, but good customer service is free.

It is like one airline dropped the customer satisfaction and people didn’t revolt, so the rest of the industry followed suit, and now there is no going back. It makes me wonder if someone were to come along and make an airline that had decent flight routes that concentrated on customer satisfaction, rather than on the bottom line. What would that be like? Sure, it would most likely be more expensive to fly, but would enough passengers value the higher costs in exchange for better service?

Then it hit me.. what if Disney started an airline? I’m not saying they would make it like the cruise line or the theme parks, Minny and Daisy wouldn’t be your stewardesses, but just if they took a Disney attitude to the industry. Would the other airlines follow suit? Since everything Disney does is symbiotic in nature, they could make MCO (Orlando) and SNA (John Wayne) or even LAX (Los Angeles) their main hubs. That way, most flights to Disney World or Disneyland would be direct flights on Air Disney.

Sure it would be more expensive than flying on Southwest or JetBlue. Nothing Disney does is cheap, but in my trips to Disney, you don’t feel ripped off (with the only possible exception being the quick service meals). I always felt that I was getting taken care of, and the cast members always give the impression that they are always willing to go above and beyond to make sure you have a ‘magical’ day.

There will always be the people that use cost as their primary determining factor when choosing many things, but there are also the people who are willing to spend a little extra to get that little extra experience.

12 March, 2014

My New Career

After almost 15 years in call centers, I have finally changed careers. I can’t really get into too many details because there is an element of undercover in my job, but it does involve a lot travel. I am about a week and a half into the new job and so far, I love it.

I plan on writing a little about my experiences. Places I go, restaurants I eat at, things I see etc..

Last week, I was in 8 different airports. While in the Buffalo airport, I saw a group of guys who just stepped off a plane from 1972. They were all dressed to the 9s, ready for a night at Studio 54. One guy had a powder blue puffy shirt, one had a patchwork sport coat, one had a hat. They all were different, but all were ready for a night on the town.

I took the chance to see a piece of American history, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. I walked Uptown Charlotte. I sat in the cock pit of a 767, the one that has the fold flat seats in first class the ones that make a little bed, so you can sleep on those long international flights.

I will be writing about future adventures, without going into too much detail about why I am there. I don’t want to blow my cover.

13 February, 2014

How to fix the NCAA

It comes up all the time, there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Should college athletes get paid?

On the one hand, major universities make millions off of these players. Everything from TV contracts to jersey sales to ticket sales and more.

On the other hand, if you pay them, who pays them? The university? Alumni? Sponsors/boosters? And if you do pay them, do they become employees of the university? If they are employees, and they get hurt in a game, do they get workers comp?

Recently, a group of football players, petitioned the court for the right to organize as a union.

First of all, let’s only consider men’s basketball and football for this. As much as you may love the women’s tennis team or the men’s lacrosse team, let’s be honest, the only sports that make money for the schools are Men’s BB and Football. The rest at best break even. The other day I saw part of an SU women’s basketball game, the stands were empty. A far cry in the Carrier Dome from when the men are playing.

Another complaint that people have about the ‘students’ that are just there as a stepping stone to the NFL or NBA. They play 1-3 years, go to class just enough to stay academically eligible. Oh sure, you hear stories about the Rhodes Scholar that played on the football team, or the point guard that graduated cum laude in engineering, but generally those are the exception, rather than the rule.

Never fear, I have the solution.

There should be a minor league set up. You can recruit or draft high school players to play in a 10-12 team league. They can play for as many as 4 years and get paid the equivalent of a college scholarship. Set up teams in mid markets, cities like Rochester, NY, Columbus, OH, Oklahoma City, OK, Amarillo, TX, etc.. once they have played in the league for 3 years, they are then eligible to be drafted into the NFL. Work with the NFL, not against it. We have seen what has happened to other organizations that tried to start a league to compete with the Shield.. (XFL, USFL, WLAF.. ). This league can also be a proving ground for coaches and coordinators.

For the basketball players, treat it more like the way MLB is set up. Let players who have the skill, go right to the NBA, for those who need a year or two, use the NBA-DL as a minor league. The players can get drafted into this league out of high school, play for as many years as they need to get ready to take the next step.

This way players who really don’t have an interest in college other than as a stepping stone to the NFL or NBA aren’t taking roster spots from real student athletes who want to have the experience of playing in college while they are working towards their real goal of a job that isn’t in professional sports.

There will be pushback from the big schools that have a lot of money tied up in the big time college athletics, but it will return the NCAA back to what it was intended to be, another activity available to the students who would like to participate, either as players or as spectators.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on this.. agree with me or tell me why I’m a moron.. or somewhere in the middle.. 

21 January, 2014

Another Week in the Most Magical Place in the World

We recently returned from another trip to Walt Disney World. When we borrowed DVC points for our last trip (see the write up for that trip here), we had enough left over for a week in a deluxe studio during the off-peak season, so we spent Kathy’s birthday at Saratoga Springs.

We wanted to go Saturday to Saturday, but due to the RunDisney events that weekend, every place we were looking at were booked up Saturday night, so we had to go Sunday to Saturday. Part of the reason we wanted to fly down on Saturday is because the Southwest flight (the only direct flight from ROC to MCO) on Saturday departs at 7.30a, whereas the flight on Sunday takes off at 2.55p. With a 2 ½ hr flight, it basically kills a whole day of your vacation.

On this trip, we were able to take advantage of the new Magic Bands and the My Disney Experience which includes pre-scheduling up to 3 Fast Pass+ (FP+) per day. We didn’t really have any issues. I was ready for there to be some glitches, especially after reading in the forums about other peoples’ snafus on their trips. The only real problem we had was that the finger that Kathy had used last time we were there to verify her fingerprint at the park entrance had a blister on it, and the scanner didn’t recognize it. When it didn’t work, the supervisor was able to reset the fingerprint and let us in. The next time we went into the park, it re-scanned the image, and we had no other issues. They had removed the legacy paper Fast Pass machines from Animal Kingdom in December, and they removed them from Magic Kingdom while we were down there this week. The plan is to remove them from Hollywood Studios and EPCOT next week.

Wishes Fireworks
We got to the hotel about 7. We dropped off our carry-on bags and headed to the Magic Kingdom. We arrived as the Wishes fireworks extravaganza was just starting. We made our way towards Main Street USA to watch the show. After the show, we headed towards Tomorrowland for something to eat. On this trip, we were looking for a low-key, (relatively) low-cost trip, so we didn’t set up any Advance Dining Reservations (ADR). We were just going to eat at the quick service places when we got hungry. Our first stop was at Cosmic Rays. This was a new place for me, I hadn’t eaten here before, and I wanted to watch Sonny Eclipse, the animatronic entertainer that sings and tells corny jokes. As we were standing in line, we found fellow Knighthawk fans! I got a cheeseburger, it was decent, but it was late in the day, so it wasn’t super fresh, it wasn’t bad.. I’ve had better burgers (and I’ve had worse). One thing I liked about this place is that they have the plastic cheese dispenser. Disney fries are good on their own, but add a healthy (?) dose of that hot gooey plastic cheese, and they are that much better!

We only had a couple hours in the park before they closed for the night, but we were able to get on a few rides, including one of my favorites, the Jungle Cruise at night. I love how the flood lights on the boat light up the jungle. We also managed to fit in the Haunted Mansion, Pirates and a couple others before the park closed at 10.

Beauty and the Beast Stage Show
Monday morning we headed over to Hollywood Studios. We had FP+ for Toy Story Midway Mania, Lights Motors Action! And the Great Movie Ride. We also caught the Indiana Jones stunt show, The One Man one dream exhibit about the life of Walt Disney, The Little Mermaid, The Beauty and the Beast Stage show and Fantasmic. This night was the extra magic hours at Hollywood, so after those not staying on property, we went on Toy Story again, a ride that during the day wait times in excess of 90 min or more are common, and only waited about 20 minutes. We ate lunch at the Backlot express, I had a cheeseburger that had onion strings and allegedly a horseradish sauce (I couldn’t taste it), but it was a good burger. Before we went into Fantasmic, I grabbed a Mickey pretzel with a cheese cup; Kathy got a Churro (and became a fan).

Tuesday took us to EPCOT. Our FP+ were for Spaceship Earth, Sorin’ and Finding Nemo. The EMH were early at EPCOT that day, so we were able to get on Sorin’ early, and I was able to get on Test Track. We tried the new flavors at Club Cool. I am a bit disappointed that they got rid of the lemon honey flavor from Israel, but am not really sad to see the rest go. There wasn’t a clear cut favorite in the new batch of international flavors, but it was cool to try Peru’s Inca Kola again. We have a new favorite snack at EPCOT, we split an order of fish and chips from the Great Britain pavilion. It would be a bit small to be a meal for someone, but it makes a nice snack for 2 people. We also tried the new Spice Road Table restaurant at the Morocco pavilion. It had just opened a couple of days prior. They will be taking reservations in the future, but since they are in the ‘soft launch’ phase, we were able to walk right in. It is a Tapas style place that serves food from all over the Mediterranean. I got a sampler plate that featured a chicken roll, a lamb slider and a sausage. It wasn’t a lot of food for $16, and I didn’t love the flavors, so we probably won’t be going back on future trips. I stayed for the Illuminations show and met a cool couple from Jersey who had honeymooned at Disney 10 years ago, and this is their first trip back. We chatted for a while waiting for the show to start.

The lions at the Kilimanjaro Safari
Wednesday took us to Animal Kingdom. In my opinion, it is a very underappreciated park. We had FP+ for the Safari Ride, Kali River, and Finding Nemo. The EMH was early that day, so we went straight for an extra run on the safari ride; it is one of my favorite things to do at Disney. I am always able to get some great shots of the wildlife, even with my phone! When it came time to do the River ride, Kathy didn’t want to ride it since it was a bit cool that day. I was still game, so I headed over. When I got to the entrance, the cast member told me not to waste a FP+ on it, since we only can have 3 per day, there was no line. I was able to walk right on and change our FP+ for a different attraction, we added the Bug’s Life show to our docket (which we didn’t need to use a FP+ for either, but you can’t use FP+ for the same ride 2x in the same day, otherwise, we would have gone on the safari ride a 3rd time).
Another attraction that I make sure to hit at least once each trip to Animal Kingdom is the Flights of Wonder bird show. It is very well done (even if it is a bit heavy on the ‘save the planet’ propaganda...). I’ve written before that I am not really a fan of roller coasters, but I wanted to try the Expedition Everest at least once, to say that I did, so I headed over by myself. The wait time wasn’t too bad, I was able to get on in about 30 min or so. The ride is very well done. The queue takes you through a travel office to board a train to the mountains, right through the sacred Yeti territory. It is a very fast, winding coaster that goes in and out of the Mt Everest, so it goes from light to dark and back very quickly. Would I ride it again? In a word, no. But I am glad I did ride it. When I
got off the ride, I needed to take a minute, so I found a spot in the shade to sit for a spell. After I recovered, we headed over to Dinoland USA for a meal at the Restaurantasorus. I wasn’t really up to the regular menu, so I ordered the corndog nugget meal. It included little corndog nuggets, fries, apple juice and grapes, all served in a plastic bucket with a shovel that you would take to the beach. It was pretty cool, and with the condition of my stomach, it worked out great! Since the park closes early (5p) in the winter, we headed back to the room to relax. We grabbed dinner at the Artist Pallet, and relaxed around the resort. We each got the Wednesday special, chicken parm. It’s tough to mess that up.. it was served with penne. I would have liked a little more pasta, but it wasn’t a bad meal. After eating, we wandered around the resort, looking at the community center, we walked by a couple of the pools on site, then back to the room to relax.

Thursday morning found us back at the Magic Kingdom. EMH were early that morning, so we
The Haunted Mansion
headed over to Peter Pan, since that ride often queues up lengthy wait times during the day. Our FP+ that day were for Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid and the Jungle Cruise. We took a leisurely day around the park, having done most of what we wanted to do. We made sure to hit up the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, our old standby Carrousel of Progress, and of course the People Mover. Our dining choices this day took us to Gaston’s Tavern for the cinnamon roll (this has become a ‘must do’ for me, ranking right up there with the Dole whip float), we had lunch at the Village Haus (I had the chicken ceaser salad and we ate on the balcony overlooking the main dining floor) and dinner at Pecos Bills (I had the taco salad). After dinner we headed over to the Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary for the exclusive Top of the World Lounge.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Admission to this lounge is limited to members of the DVC. I had just found out about this place a couple of weeks prior to our trip. It was Kathy’s birthday, so I wanted to do something special. The lounge was busy, but not packed. We ordered the soft pretzel and the 7 layer cake. By the time we finished eating the snacks, it was time for the fireworks to start, so we headed out to the balcony, 16 floors up, with a clear view of the Kingdom. It made for a great view of Wishes, especially since they play the music from the show over the sound system on the deck. The park was open for another couple hours after the fireworks, but we were ready to call it a night, so we headed back to the hotel. One thing we had done most days this trip is take a break in the mid afternoon and head back to the room to relax before heading back to the park. On this day, while waiting for the bus to go back to the Magic Kingdom, we decided to see if there was a table available for breakfast the next morning. Using the My Disney Experience app on my phone, I was able to secure a reservation for breakfast ‘Ohana.

We started Friday off at breakfast at ‘Ohana. We took the bus from Saratoga Springs to the Magic
Kingdom; we then boarded the Monorail to the Polynesian. We were a bit early because we wanted to make sure we allowed enough time for transit. We walked down to the lagoon and checked out the pool, beach, and the docks where the boat rentals are (something to keep in mind for future visits). By this time, it was time to check in for breakfast. They offer the chance to have your picture taken, that they will then try to sell you, we skipped that part. We didn’t want to pay $35 for a 5x7 of us. We had eaten dinner at ‘Ohana on our last trip and I didn’t love it, but I wanted to try it for breakfast, and I’m glad we did. It was a lot of fun. The format for breakfast is an all you can eat feast, served family style. It isn’t a buffet; they bring the food to you, similar to the way dinner is at the Liberty Tree Tavern. They sat us down with a basket of sweet breads and took our drink orders. Moments later, out comes a platter of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and potatoes along with a plate of fresh cut fruit (pineapple, raspberries and melon) and their special juice. It is a blend of orange, mango, guava and papaya. It was very tasty. They also bring out Mickey waffles (small Belgian waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse). They keep bringing the stuff out as much as you want. This is also a character breakfast, which normally isn’t a big deal for me, but it was fun to have pictures with Lelo and Stich as well as Mickey and Pluto. Our general rule is to not repeat a dining experience, until w
e have tried all of the ones that interest us, but we do have an exception (Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner), I think that this one will be added to the ‘no duplicate exemption’ list. After a few pictures with the Tikis and Maoris, we rolled ourselves to the Magic Kingdom for our last day in the parks for this trip.

Friday was originally scheduled to be an EPCOT day, since that is where the EMH hours were, but we figured we had done everything we wanted to do at EPCOT, so we decided to change all of our FP+ over to the Magic Kingdom. We had the Jungle Cruise, Mickey’s Philharmagic and Buzz Lightyear. Since we had such a large breakfast, we really didn’t need to eat much else until later that day. We did make sure to hit up Aloha Isle to get a Dole Whip float. It isn’t a trip to Disney without having at least 1 of those bad boys. We made sure to hit all the attractions that we wanted to, since it will be a while before we are back. Around dinner time, we hit up Pecos Bill’s again for a taco salad. After a quick run through the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, we hunkered down for the castle light show and Wishes. We picked a spot towards the end of Main Street USA inside a taped off ‘viewing’ area. We had a slightly obstructed view of the castle, so we couldn’t see the light show all that well, but it was a great spot to watch the fireworks. There were people coming and going, and a whole lot more not moving, waiting and watching. There was a single cast member trying to direct traffic and
Wishes Fireworks
fighting a losing battle. After the show ended, there was a mass exodus out of the park, despite it being open for another 2 hours. When the crowd thinned, we headed back into the park to hit those last few attractions we wanted to make sure we got in. As we were heading back into the park, they played the announcement that they were going to be starting the light show in 10 minutes. I wasn’t sure if they were really going to, or if someone hit the wrong button. Turns out, they did play it again. This time, we had a prime viewing spot and most of the people had already left for the night, so we got a great view of the show. It is a very cool effect. It really brings the castle to life. At the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, I was picked to play Sully, and was up on the big screen.

Saturday morning, we made arrangements for bell services to pick up our luggage. We checked into our airline then shopped in the gift shop for a couple of last minute souvenirs. At 10, we boarded the Magic Express back to the MCO to await our journey home. Disney provides a nice service, you can check into your airline and check your bags at your hotel, that way when you get to the airport, you just have to go through security, then to the terminal and get on your plane and go home. I do like the new videos they play on the Magic Express busses. They show parts of the park that you may not already be aware of. On our return flight, the plane was equipped with Wi-Fi. The planes that have this feature allow you to stream live TV on several channels, courtesy of Dish Network. It is a nice way to pass the time while you are in the air.

All in all, it was a good trip. We hit everything we wanted to. We got a good Disney fix. Hopefully it will be enough to hold us over until our next trip, which looks like it won’t be until the fall/winter of 2015 or the spring of 2016.

More of the pictures I took can be found here.

31 December, 2013

Another Year in the Books...

This time of the year, it seems that there are only 2 types of stories out there. We have the ‘Year in review’ and we have the ‘What to look forward to in (insert new year here)’

People wax poetic on this -gate, or that –palooza, then they put on their best Carnac the Magnificent to predict what will happen in the next 52 weeks.

Some of the ‘Best/worst (fill in the blank) of (fill in the year)’ reports are well done. They are researched, well produced and have valid arguments for why this made it and that one didn’t.

Others are superficial. They are hastily thrown together to fill time or space. They are filled with things that most people wouldn’t consider legitimate contenders.

I have difficulty writing these sorts of lists off the top of my head, because I don’t always remember what happened this year.. Did it happen this year, or last.. was it significant enough to remember? When it comes to movies, I can’t write a good one, because I don’t see that many new movies. I can’t do best song, because I am old and boring, and only listen to talk radio, so I couldn’t tell you who sang what because I probably on heard a 15 second clip of the song at the last Knighthawks or Amerks game. I have no idea what the fox said.

That said, in no particular order, the best movies that I saw from 2013 are American Hustle, Hunger Games, and The Way Way Back. Movies worth seeing: Now You See Me, Thor, RED 2, Enders Game, and Hangover 3. Don’t waste your time: Anchorman, Superman, GI Joe. I am probably forgetting something.

Some personal highlights (again, in no particular order) of the year include a trip to Disney, on a drive to America to get props for our 4th of July, we stopped at the Corning glass museum, (definitely worth a trip if you are within driving distance.) We spent a day at Stony Brooke State Park, we spent a few days in Niagara Falls, The Knighthawks won a 2nd consecutive championship, a new nephew was introduced. Oh yea, I found out I am going to be the father of a new baby girl in May.

Things to look forward to in the coming year would be another strong season for the Knighthawks (including an expanded regular season, and a new play-off format). We will be going to Disney for a low-key trip, last one for a while (we don’t plan on getting back down there until late 2015 or early 2016). I think that the growing distrust of Big Government (particularly Obamacare) will lead to some changes in the Mid-Term elections this fall. NY will continue to become the nanny-state of all nanny states until it snaps. There will be a growing call for the state to split NYC off into its own state (but it won’t happen any time soon)

What do you think will happen in 2014? What were your highlights of 2013? Share them in the comments!

19 December, 2013

Hockey at Frontier Field???

If you have driven down Plymouth Ave or 490 through downtown Rochester during the last week, you probably saw something a bit curious, lights on at the baseball stadium. Did they start playing winter ball up north?

Nope, they are playing outdoor hockey! It is the Frozen Frontier. It is a 10 day festival that kicked off with an Amerks (AHL) game, and includes 3 college games, an Amerks/Sabres alumni game, several high school games as well as rec-league games and blocks of time sold to sponsors for open skate time. This is a joint venture between the Red Wings, Amerks and Sabres.

I had the opportunity to go to the Amerks game Friday night, it was the kick-off of the outdoor hockey festival. As you can imagine, December in Rochester isn’t exactly balmy.. The scoreboard thermometer showed a game time temp of 20, and it only went down from there.

As we approached the stadium, they had frozen the specially designed throw-back jerseys for each team into blocks of ice as well as a logo ice sculpture of the logo of the festival. They also had those mobile spotlights that are used at special events to draw attention to the location. When I got there, it was lightly snowing, which made for the coolest effect of the snow in the spot beams. It was a nice touch.

Special sweaters worn by the Amerks
They had set up a warming station tent down the walk way on the 3rd base side, that had a pre-game party with a band. They had also brought in several port-a-potties, since when they built the stadium 15 years ago, they didn’t predict having a winter event, so the plumbing is turned off at the end of the Red Wings season.  Lucky for me, my tickets were in the Perch suite, so we were ok, the suite level bathrooms were good to go.

In the Perch
My brother and I
The game had an announced attendance of 11k+, and it was a great atmosphere. From where we were sitting, we could see the lines of cars on both Plymouth and State St coming to the game, and could see cars parking on the very top level of the WXXI garage at High Falls. The traffic was steady through most of the first period.

The Colors were presented in a very respectful manner and the national anthem was sung in a very powerful way by a very talented young girl who is no stranger to singing before large crowds. She sang the anthem at a Sabres game that was nationally televised. The pre-game festivities included fireworks timed to the ‘rocket’s red glare’ line of the Star Spangled Banner.

The game turned out to be exactly the type of game you’d hope for in this sort of event. It featured division rivals that flat don’t like each other and had had a rather feisty game just a couple days prior. Early on, the gloves were dropped and that just got the crowd going. The Amerks jumped out to an early lead, only to see that go away and then turn it into a 3-1 deficit. The Amerks went to work in the 3rd, and not only tied it, but pulled ahead 4-3.

The game seemed all but over when the Lake Erie Monsters took a penalty with about 3 minutes left, down a goal, but they didn’t give up. They fought off the power play and then got one of their own with about 50 seconds left. They then pulled the goalie and skated 6 on 4 for the rest of regulation. The Amerks did the best they could to keep the puck out of their zone, but being out numbered, the visitors managed to put the puck in the back of the net with what appeared to be no time on the clock. The officials gathered, and they went to the review, and it was determined that the goal was scored with .1 on the clock to tie the game.

5 minutes of overtime were scoreless, so they went on to the shoot out. The goalies both prevailed in round 1, the Monsters scored in both round 2 and 3, leaving the Amerks down 2-0, with only 2 skaters to go. The 4th Monster skater comes up, if he scores, game over. He doesn’t. Now it’s the Amerk’s turn. If they don’t score, game over. They do.

Same scenario for round 5, The Monsters don’t and the Amerks do. Now we are tied at 2 after 5 rounds. This time Amerks captain Matt Ellis is not to be denied. He nets the game winning shot and sent the Rochester fans home happy, after the fireworks, that is. From the sounds in the crowd, there were more than a few who made the drive up I90 from Cleveland to root on their Monsters.

I haven’t had the chance to make it to any of the other games, and with my schedule, probably won’t. I would have liked to have gone to the RIT men’s game, but it wasn’t to be. I can’t imagine the experience it would be for those high school players that got to change in the Red Wings locker room, then play in that venue. It is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

I am glad I got to be a part of this, even if just as a fan. I hope that they don’t do it every year. It is something that should be kept as a special event, and not repeated too often. Maybe next time, they can do it at Sahlen’s stadium. It would have provided better sight lines for the fans.

16 December, 2013

Who Dropped the ball?

By now you have heard about the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral last week. Here in Rochester, home of the NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf), all of the local reporters went out and found anyone they could stick a microphone in front of to say how offended they were at the nerve of this guy who had the stones to fake his way through the service.

I think that people have a right to be upset and outraged, but not for the reason everyone is getting upset at. First of all.. how do we know that it isn’t a different sign language? It might be that the rest of the world doesn’t use ALS (American Sign Language). Perhaps, he is using a different version of sign language.

The thing that gets me upset at this is how did this guy get that close to our President? This guy has been arrested for burning someone to death, and the courts declined to prosecute because he was mentally unfit to stand trial. Those of you who know me, know that I am among the last to say anything good about Obama, but this is bigger than that.

Someone dropped the ball on this one. Probably several someones. First of all, how did the agency that picks and assigns the interpreter pass this guy? Did he have the right credentials to be in the pool? Also, doesn’t our Secret Service validate the people who are going to be that close to the President? What would have happened if someone got to him and got him to wear a vest? He would have been able to take out several of the world’s leaders in one shot. Then we would be talking about something other than a guy who was faking his way through signing some speeches at a funeral.

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