As I begin this, I want to own up to a couple of things.
First, I am a major Syracuse University sports fan and it comes to both basketball and football. I’m not big on all the other sports because I really don’t know them that well, but whenever Syracuse had the chance to win something I always pull for university. In essence I’m a “Homer”; I have no problem with that moniker.
Second, I am also a leadership consultant, as I’ve written a book on the subject and I’ve done several seminars on the topic over the years both locally and out-of-town. This doesn’t mean I know everything, but I like to think I know a lot. I also like to think that I can be unbiased when it comes to certain things; I just want to state that for the record.
A couple of interesting things have happened today.
The first news release came out saying that Daryl Gross, the athletic director of the university, had resigned and is taking a different role with the University. Whether that was his doing or he was encouraged to do it, I think this was a logical step. I will admit that since the days of Paul Pasqualoni I have always been cautious about his leadership of the athletic department, mainly because he didn’t seem trustworthy. That’s his fault, after firing the football coach when he lost a bowl game after he had said the coach was definitely going to be there for the next year. We know what we got after that.
The second news release came out saying that coach Jim Boeheim would be stepping down after coaching for three more years. This isn’t overly surprising since he is 70 years old, but coming right after the first news story the timing just seemed strange.
I didn’t like what the NCAA did by announcing the sanctions the Friday before this team played its last game of the season. In my opinion, doing it on that day was intentional and mean spirited, and showed them in a very bad light, as if trying to strong arm someone to show how tough they are. Some have said that you can’t blame the NCAA for its timing; I pretty much disagree with that. These guys know what they were doing, and they knew they would get the most press possible by doing it on that day.
I have never really trusted the NCAA and this goes way back to the days when Jerry Tarkanian was coaching the UNLV team. It always seemed like they were accusing him of things and trying to penalize him for something that they never could quite lock down. That we ended all these years later with nothing ever being definitive is testament to the fact that these guys really don’t know what they’re doing.
If we want to bring us closer to our time, we can look at the fiasco they ended up causing Penn State. Once again, I’m of the opinion that the NCAA had no jurisdiction in taking games away from Joe Paterno, which they eventually gave back. The Jerry Sandusky case was more criminal and really had nothing to do with the football team, per se. The state took care of Sandusky, and they added some of their own penalties against the university, and that should’ve been enough. The NCAA should have stayed out of it.
With that said, let’s take a better look at the penalties against Syracuse.
They have stated that there were some basketball and football players that didn’t do any work at a YMCA out of town and that they were paid by a booster, who wasn’t really a booster, just because they were on sports teams. However, they couldn’t prove that, and at least a couple of players have come out saying that they did work there and got paid for it, yet the university get penalized for it anyway.
They stated that there were some drug tests that showed some players might have failed because of marijuana. They never stated that the coach knew anything about those drug tests, and made anybody stay quiet because of them. They didn’t even imply that, and since they didn’t mention the players, which was probably one of the few fair things they did, to me it’s a non-issue at this point.
In my mind, if they didn’t go back and strip Villanova of their championship in the 1980s when one of the players admitted he was high on cocaine during the game, then this means nothing. I’ve never heard of any player being able to play sports better because of marijuana; doesn’t work that way from what I know (since I’ve never smoked it I have no experience with it, but I’ve seen its effects on others).
The Fab Melo story is an interesting one. In a weird way this is the only story they can really prove anything about.
This kid should have never been in college; it’s up to others to determine his academic standards beforehand and it wasn’t done. There were a lot of violations on this one, and indirectly the athletic director had a hand in this; that was enough for him to lose his job. However, the team sat him down for a lot of games, including before the NCAA tournament, and there shouldn’t be any extra penalties on the program after that. However, if there were any penalties against the program, this should be the only one that counts.
Let’s talk about leadership for a minute.
In my opinion, the best leaders need to know what’s going on. At the same time, they have to learn to trust the judgment of others that they put in charge of something and hope that they’re doing the right thing. That’s because true leaders can’t do it all; you need to have other people to help do things, especially if you’re running a large operation. If you make someone responsible for something and they do some things that are irresponsible, and they don’t tell you about them, there’s nothing you can do about it until afterwards.
Even the NCAA acknowledges that when the university found out what some of these people had done, both in hiding drug testing results and some of the educational things, they lost their jobs. Frankly, I’m thinking that’s probably about as good a job of leadership as you can do under those circumstances.
Coach Boeheim has always been kind of a hands off leader. He hires people and brings in players with an expectation that they will know how to take care of themselves in an adult manner, even if they’re still young. Let’s face the fact that 18 to 21-year-olds basically do most of the fighting in wars for this country; they’re old enough to die for the country. So, they’re old enough to be considered as adults. True, they may not always make the best choices, but the responsibility is on them.
Had it been me, I would have suspended Fab Melo from the team after the assault on his girlfriend. I would have suspended Carter-Williams for a couple of games after the shoplifting.
So, I’m certainly not saying that I agree with everything the coach has done. I am saying that he has had his reasons for doing things the way he has done them, and things have gone pretty well for almost 40 years.
My overall opinion is that the NCAA has gone overboard in trying to send a message to other schools by putting a penalty like this on the Syracuse team that isn’t justified. I’m not the only one saying it. Not only have a lot of sports personalities said the exact same type of thing, but this article in the New York Times agrees with me that the report doesn’t come close to justifying the penalty.
Also, if the NCAA actually cared about academics as it applied to athletes, they would allow colleges to offer more help to them as it pertains to tutoring to make sure they can keep up with the classwork. Any other student in the university can get help so why can’t athletes? I’m not saying that anyone should have others doing the work for them, but all of us know that some athletes are not Mensa scholars when they show up at college, and that they might need a little more help with their class work.
With all the money these athletes help bring to the University, and with all the arguments going on as to whether players should be paid or not, I’m thinking this one here should be a no-brainer. Sorry but I’ve always been amazed that players who practice as much as they do and travel as much as they do can handle their coursework all that easily. Some can, some can’t; just like all the other students.
As it stands now Boeheim will appeal and the university will appeal, and based on history some of these penalties will be reversed. Once again, the NCAA has done a horrible job with an investigation. This seems to be a problem with them. What they probably should do is start contracting this work out to someone else who knows little bit about investigating things and leave it to them to do things right.
It will be interesting to see what happens with North Carolina, whose own school put together a report that they then tried to censor, showing all sorts of nefarious things with at least the basketball program over many years.
I support my coach, I support my local university’s football and basketball teams, and I expect that as things move forward things have been put into place to hopefully help alleviate the few things that did come up this time around. Things can definitely be better, but I don’t think they were overly bad in the first place.
This is the first post that’s not about something in central New York directly. However, indirectly this affects us as much as it does everyone else around the world.
Many models predict that if a lot of bad things happen around the United States, one of the last truly habitable places to live just might be this area of the country. Even though that sounds good, what it will probably mean is that everyone will come here and we’ll be fighting for our own existence.
That doesn’t sound good does it? So, let’s look at a few interesting tidbits I came across and see what we think of them…
In 2009, Scientific American magazine came out with a slide show that they called “6 Hidden Environmental Truths Revealed.” In the brief slideshow, they named some things that impact the environment the most. Here is our expanded version on some of their points.
1. The differentiation between the haves and have-nots. They determined that, based on comparable currency amounts, much of Asian and African countries exist on an income of less than two dollars a day. That statistic is compared to America, where more people than anywhere else average at least $200 a day. Americans are considered the best paid people in the world.
The study believes that you can’t take care of the environment legitimately unless you can take care of all the people in the world, and if there is as drastic a disparity as there happens to be, then one group of people will always be at the short end of the ecological scale.
2. There’s some very interesting information as it pertains to pollution in the United States. The common perception is that the large cities are filled with all sorts of nasty things that are getting into the environment.
That may be true, but it seems the biggest contributor of carbon dioxide to the environment actually occurs in suburban or rural areas. That’s because traditionally factories are not built directly in the cities, but usually in outlying areas.
Also, rural areas that depend on farming equipment and tending to livestock use more gasoline over short distances than automobiles do over long distances, and we all know about the methane that farm animals seem to produce. Adjusted for population numbers, Wyoming turns out to be the state that emits the most carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, while New York state and California are among the lowest.
3. Even though we’ve been going through a recession, the dollars being spent to help the environment have actually gone up. In 2008, more than $8.4 billion went towards green projects and companies that are working to create green products. Around 40% of all monies were spent towards trying to improve solar technology.
4. As much as large manufacturing companies are trying to convince us all that they’ve become more environmentally conscious, it turns out that there are at least 156 storage ponds of pollution in America. It is estimated that it would take at least 400 years to clean them all up by using today’s technology. And that assumes that these manufacturers would immediately stop dumping into these ponds.
Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never really been a chicken wings fan. I don’t like hot wings because I don’t like spicy food. Most of the time there doesn’t seem to be enough meat on the wings to justify the effort it takes to eat them properly. And of course the cost of wings has drastically inflated from the days when one could go to a bar on a Monday and get wings for 10 cents each.
Yet, here I am, talking about not only chicken wings, but possibly the best chicken wings in the Syracuse area. That might be hyperbole, or it could be because I haven’t eaten wings in a lot of places across the area, though I’m not a novice. And truthfully, a part of me isn’t sure whether I’m justified in defining the best wings.
So I offer two things.
One, I went a second time specifically to order the wings because I had a craving for them and that’s never happened before.
Two, my friend Steve, who I’ve gone with both times, proclaimed them the best wings he’s ever tasted, and he has had a lot of chicken wings.
The first time we went, we were actually heading for a different place in the Westcott area because others had told both of us independently that they had the best wings in town. We showed up at 2PM on a Saturday… and they were closed! I mean really, you’re a pizza and wings joint and you’re closed on Saturdays until 4PM? Scandalous!
Thus we were forced to look for a different place to eat, when he said that he’d heard of a place called Dorian’s Pizza and Deli (or maybe “gourmet pizza and deli”, as it seems they have two separate websites lol) at 534 Westcott Street and maybe we should try it out.
We went there only to find that we were going to be the only customers in there for a while. There were two guys in there; one a tall friendly guy, the other guy short who’s the antithesis of loquacious. Steve ordered a slice of pizza and the hot wings; I ordered the garlic teriyaki wings because all I had on my mind was wings. To be fair, there’s a lot of things they had on the menu besides pizza and wings. They have a major assortment of sandwiches, soups, and even pasta. They even have combination meals.
The inside will remind you of a bar; that’s actually where I thought we were going, but it’s not a bar. They have some tables in there and, well okay, a bar where you can sit and eat your food. They serve soda and some bottled beer, and they have a big screen TV… but that’s about a close to it being a bar as you can get.
They call out your order and you go get your food. I looked at my wings and immediately noticed how big they were; yeow! As you can see in the picture above, the color was wonderful and I found myself salivating because the aroma was enticing; that’s never happened before as it pertains to wings either.
Let me just say this; I felt really good eating these wings. I didn’t get the same type of euphoria I get when I’m consuming chocolate but this was pretty close. The wings are definitely a meal unto themselves; ten large wings was plenty of food. The first time Steve also had pizza and he admitted it was too much food later on but the second time he just had the wings and he said that was enough; and that they were still the best wings he’d ever had.
I can’t tell you about the hot wings because I’m not a masochist. My wings… all I might have wanted was a slight bit more salt but they were great without it. I have no idea how they put the combination together but the garlic wasn’t too hot and the teriyaki isn’t too sweet; it just works.
There you are, a recommendation for a place that’s kind of out of the way unless you know the Westcott Street area well. I know I’ll be going back again; give them a shot!
The picture you see below is of my mother and I. Next month Mom will turn 77 years old. These days that may seem young to some folks these days but unfortunately it’s not. My dad didn’t make it to his 71st birthday, and I think about that one almost every day.
Mom lives by herself and for the most part does very well. She still drives but never goes too far from where she lives. She stopped driving on highways many years ago, which means that if she wants to go further than 15 miles it involves one of her friends taking her or my driving up to see her. That’s problematic sometimes because I don’t live close, and when I’m working out of town I may not get to see her for a month or more.
In many ways I’m lucky that she doesn’t have major health issues. She had some episodes years ago based on her high blood pressure, and I not only got her off the medication she was taking (which was excessive) but I put her on the road to eating better by teaching her how to read labels. On that front she’s doing well.
On another front she scares me. Like most older people she does have some problems with memory, and she has problems staying focused here and there. We don’t talk every day (I know, bad son), but whenever we do talk she often begins with “Did I tell you…” When she begins with that she’s never told me. Other times she’ll start telling a story that she’s told many times over the past few years; sometimes I stop her, other times I let her go.
The focus thing is bothersome because sometimes it makes me think she doesn’t care about anything going on in my life. We’ll start talking about something she’s asked me about, I’ll start telling her, and suddenly she’ll break out with something else that has nothing to do with what we were talking about. And I’ll get upset; just telling it like it is.
Here’s the thing though. I know that memory is a dicey thing. Goodness, I have some issues of my own. There are people I’ve known for years that, every once in a while, I can’t remember their name for a few seconds. Actors and actresses from favorite movies or TV, singers of songs, I’ll remember all the details except their names. There are things in my house that one day I suddenly notice, ask my wife about and she’ll tell me it’s been there for years.
So, I keep telling myself that I have to learn patience. Mom doesn’t have anything like Alzheimer’s; she’s just getting older. I know it’s not personal; she loves telling all these stories about me when I was a little boy. It’s embarrassing sometimes, especially when we’re out and she starts telling strangers these stories, but I’m learning to just roll with the punches. I know I’m not the only person with a mother that does this sort of thing.
But it’s hard to deal with. Age is a scary thing because we see what’s going to happen to us here and there. Even if we live a long time we’re not gonna get out of this alive. How healthy will we be? Things can happen in an instant and our lives immediately change. If it happens to our family members and our friends, it’ll happen to us.
Of course we can work our brain muscles, if we want to believe scientists. I’ve started playing Sudoku over the last 9 months and I’ve gotten pretty good. I used to work crossword puzzles and I might get back into it. I play a couple of versions of Scrabble on Facebook. And I exercise, my way, to work on keeping my body at least a bit healthier than the norm.
I also have to remember one other thing. When I talk to Mom she says things are going well. She enjoys watching TV and her DVDs. She’s eating, which is a big thing for me. I wish she’d eat more but she now weighs what she weighed in high school, so who am I to take that away from her (because it’s not going to happen for me lol)? She enjoys the little girl and the baby across the street. And she goes to the hairdresser every other Wednesday with her one friend, who drives.
In a way, I guess that’s the best thing to wish for our parents as they get older, and as we have to deal with them. Mom pretty much doesn’t have a care in the world; I wonder when I’ll attain that kind of peace.
My name is Mitch Mitchell, and I live in Liverpool, NY. Come July of this year I’ll have lived in central New York for 40 years, though I’m a bit older than that. This is my home, and I can’t conceive of living anywhere else. I love this area more than any other area I’ve been to, and I’ve lived in and visited a lot of places. At this point in my life I can’t imagine living anywhere else, and I hope I’ve shown that in most of the articles I’ve written on this blog.
As a military kid, you move a lot. You move onto a new airbase and you’re immediately welcomed by lots of other kids. If you’re not a jerk, you’ll have friends for as long as any of you are around, because people move all the time.
When that kind of life is over and you move to a place where people grew up with each other and have already established their friendships, it’s hard to break into. I went to Liverpool High School for two years. I met lots of people; you go to a school of over 3,800 kids and try not meeting anyone. Most of the people I could take or leave; not that any of them cared. When I graduated, almost all of my friends were people who had moved to the area around the time I did. Even almost 40 years later, those are the people I talk to most often from that period.
I went to college in Oswego; love Oswego with a passion. Many people complain about the weather; trust me, when you’ve lived in Limestone Maine for almost 5 years weather in Oswego means almost nothing; almost that is, since cold winds coming off a great lake are a different matter. Still, when all was said and done most of the friends I made from there lived in other places. I had a few friends, one whom I’d actually met in high school, Scott, who went to a different high school, and is still one of my best friends ever; go figure that one out.
For many years I worked in central New York and that was fine, but I can’t say that I made lots of new friends. I guess the pattern was already set for me from previous years. I don’t count people I work with as friends unless I do things with them, which was rare. I certainly can’t say I don’t have any good friends locally; that would be a lie. I treasure all of those folks, more than they might ever know.
When I decided to go into business for myself in 2001, I thought that I’d finally have the opportunity to know more people locally and make more friends via networking and such. I also thought I’d be working with more people locally, thus establishing a base locally would be the way to go.
You know what’s interesting? Almost no one locally cares all that much. This is one of four blogs I write. The other three blogs rarely have anyone locally that even sees them, let alone comments on them. The same with this blog. For that matter, when I was writing a newsletter on leadership and a newsletter on health care, and when I started marketing my book… almost no one locally ever subscribed or saw the stuff or bought the book. I used to speak all over town and never got paid, whereas I’ve spoken in 8 other states and got paid for all of them.
Then there’s this blog. It’s initial intention was to highlight things and events in the area that maybe no one else had done. I’ve mainly done restaurant reviews, but I’ve talked about many other things also. I’ve even interviewed some local people doing great things in my opinion. But other than the one post I wrote about something bad that happened to my friend Kelvin, which has garnered lots of attention, almost nothing else has interested almost anyone (except for Phil; thanks Phil!).
So, I figure that it’s now 2015, and it’s a year where I have to make some massive changes in my entire life. One is going to be the focus of this blog, for two reasons.
One, because for almost 2 years I was traveling back and forth to Memphis, I wrote very few articles on this blog. Since it’s focus was Syracuse and central New York, and since I wanted to have pictures for the posts, and I was out of town and thus missing lots of stuff, I felt like I didn’t have anything to write about. Thus, it wasn’t visited much before, and it was visited less after that.
Now I’m home, though I have no idea how long, but I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter all that much. Sure, I’m still going to write about local stuff; I love my area after all, the good and the bad.
But it’s time to change things up a bit. So, instead of it just being a blog about local stuff, I’ve decided to make it my personal blog as well. It’s always risky when someone decides to change the focus of their blog, but in this case there’s no risk whatsoever. This blog’s ranking is tanking, few local people seem interested in reading about things in their area and even fewer are commenting on it. So there’s nothing to lose.
Years ago, before I started blogging, I used to write these stories about my trips and escapades and send them to people via email. Many people loved those stories back in the day. These days fewer people are reading their personal email, so I haven’t made the effort in writing those stories.
But I have escapades and adventures that I’d like to talk about, without having to put everything into a video that no one locally is ever going to watch anyway. For instance, I didn’t have a place where I could talk about going to Orlando for a wedding, and then going to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter stuff; that was 8 hours of an adventure that I didn’t get to talk about anywhere.
I didn’t get to talk about going to San Diego and all the things that happened to me there. I didn’t get to talk about going to New Orleans and the things that happened to me there. The trip to Louisville, the trip to Tunica Mississippi & the casinos, meeting Jerry Lawler and seeing Rick Flair, visiting the Memphis Botanical Gardens and Beale Street and my first gay parade. The new fangled Detroit airport and the chocolate store at the Chicago airport and my first ever foot massage at the airport in Philadelphia. I did write about the overnight I spent in the airport in Washington DC, complete with video at least.
There’s lots of stories and thoughts I have that I don’t really have another place to share them on. My I’m Just Sharing blog was initially for that purpose, but it’s got a more specific purpose overall and putting stories and thoughts there that are of a more general topic just won’t work.
Thus, that’s what Syracuse Wiki will be for, a combination of personal stories and thoughts I want to share and different items about central New York life that I want to share and… well, we’ll see after that.
Of course, if all goes as normal almost no one will see this anyway, so it’s got a chance to be an anonymous blog; I can live with that also.