Friday, February 22, 2013

Sinclair staffer in huff over sign, proves she is not fit for such a position

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

I was recently made aware of an issue that took place late last year at Sinclair Community College in Dayton.

Multiple stories from December, 2012 state that a construction project on the Sinclair campus was halted ... are you ready for this ... because the female Manager of Construction and Planning for the college was offended by signs that stated: Men Working

Never mind that it was an all-male construction crew. Never mind that stopping a construction project for a personal rant was wasting taxpayer dollars.

Elizabeth Verzi holds the position of Manager of Construction and Planning at the school.

One would think that someone in such a responsible position would care first that work is completed on schedule and budget, that construction quality is above quality standards and the job was done with safety in mind.

Instead, this woman is concerned about a sign? Or, should I say "this person"? I wouldn't want to be politically incorrect and offend someone.

According to a story published in Breitbart, and written by Lee Stranahan, J-Crane, Inc. owner, Jack Stull, whose company was the target of Verzi's tirade, wrote a letter that he would continue work but would not replace the sign. "I'm through with appeasing, I'm tired of political correctness, and I'm no longer fearful of their media or their lawsuits," Stull allegedly said.

Miss/Mrs. Verzi allegedly told a J-Crane foreman, "The sign is sexist and its not up for discussion." Really?

My thought on this is, lady, you work for a community college. Your job is to represent the school, not your own bias and corrupt opinion.

If this is the way that Verzi goes about her job, Sinclair should show her the sidewalk.

The Breitbart News story referred to a statement made by Sinclair. Adam Murka, Director of Public Information for the school, allegedly told the news staff member, "While it may not have been necessary to stop work, Sinclair stands by its commitment to providing an environment that  inclusive and non-discriminatory."

Now that sounds to me like a lot of public relations wimpy non-information.

All of this politically correct crap has cost countless millions of dollars over the decades. And, for what? So that someone doesn't get their feelings hurt? Awwww. Poor babies.

This sort of stuff is one of the contributing reasons why America has become nothing more than a laughing stock to others around the world.

In the grand scheme of things, just how important is it that a sign is gender sensitive on a construction site? Are passers-by going to use caution around male workers and then run over a female construction worker just because a sign was not gender-accurate?

When did common sense cease to be a desired characteristic in America?

I have a news flash for everyone — while no one likes getting their feelings hurt and everyone loves to feel recognized, getting your toes stepped on or your ego bruised occasionally will not hurt you. It might even make you stronger.

I can pretty much guarantee that if you work hard and are a consistent example of someone who gives a 100 % effort at work, you will not have the time or desire to worry about some stupid sign. I would also bet that with enough hard work, someone might make that sign include you if you show that you deserve it.

Should we all be sensitive to what we say and to whom? Absolutely. Can legislating and demanding that we do the right thing really make us more sensitive to issues? Not in a thousand years. All it does is create more hard feelings and cost more money.

To me, this begs the question, why does Miss/Mrs. Verzi still have a job at Sinclair? And, if she does, why would anyone want to attend a college that seemingly puts so little emphasis on what is truly right, instead of what some some left-wing feminist wants to push for her own political agenda?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cancer strikes out another friend. It is time to appreciate those around us while rallying for a cure

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

This week saw the passing of yet another friend from my youth.

Doug Fuge was a 1979 graduate of Miami East and a friend for many years. His death, like so many others, was due to cancer.

I lost my father to cancer in 1985 and, since that time, have watched so many others fight that dreaded disease that it makes me nearly physically ill to think about it.

I guess that the good news is that it seems that more and more people do seem to overcome and win the fight. Unfortunately, that number is not high enough.

My dad was a carpenter. I believe that his decades of working around and with asbestos and a hundred other chemicals probably contributed to his contracting the disease. My uncle, Bernie, who worked side-by-side with my dad for all those years, also died of cancer some years later.

In recent months, many of us have been involved in benefits for local friends, and children of friends, who are engaged in the fight of their lives, at too young an age. I see more and more how unfair cancer is.

So, I find myself asking, what is really being done about this disease?

I am sure that research companies are, and have been for years, in high-gear, working to come up with a cure for cancer of all types.

The proclivity of this disease makes me wonder its origin and cause. There is no doubt that we live in a toxic world.

Seeming innocuous items that people like my father worked with for years ... fiberglass insulation, various adhesives, asbestos siding, to name just a few, were later discovered to contain highly-toxic substances that can lead to cancer. But, who knew?

Today, anyone working around and with many of those items dresses in protective gear, including respirator devices in some cases, to avoid inhaling fumes and dust particles.

We are living in a world of toxins that we created. We spent decades creating and building things that we now have to find a way to get rid of — safely.

The foods that we eat are also subject to scrutiny. Chemicals that we designed to make one tomato larger and more juicy, have succeeded in making that one tomato larger, juicier and potentially toxic to eat.

I have always been fascinated by diet soft drinks. Even at a young age, it didn't take much to figure out that real sugar was less of a danger than artificial sweeteners.

Perhaps my fascination was more with people who consume those carbonated Molotov Cocktails. If you are really dieting, stop drinking soft drinks totally.

My trip to the Upper Valley Career Center and Willowbrook facility on Thursday was food for thought. I watched as one of nature's most natural products, sap, flowed from Maple trees and was harvested to create Pure Maple syrup. Nature has provided us with substances such as Maple syrup and honey, along with hundreds of other sources of food. And then we humans have to "improve" upon nature by altering, tweaking and preserving to the point where we are — poisoning ourselves.

As our doctors and scientists race to find a cure for cancer, a cure that I pray will come quickly, we need to step back and take a look at what we eat. We need to stop and think about the environment in which we live, work and play.

It is indeed a scary world in which we live today.

In spite of all of the dangers that lie in wait for us, we still need to live each day to the fullest. Enjoy, appreciate and love those around you.

We never know how much time we have to spend those we care about.

So long, Doug. If God has a baseball team, I am sure you will be in the lineup in time for spring training.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Newspapers are dead ... Long live the newspaper

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Will you still be reading a newspaper, I mean a newspaper printed on paper, five years from now? How about 10 years from now or two years from now?

Newspapers as we know them are going through some very scary times these days. Daily papers that have been around for many decades announce they are closing their doors, all too frequently.

I know. Newspaper employees are not at all alone in worrying if they will still have jobs in these uncertain times. We truly are all in this together.

In continuing efforts to stay afloat, newspaper publishers have cut back on everything from the number of employees to the physical size of the paper.

In spite of all of the negative aspects of our news world, I see many reasons for optimism.

Granted, the future of a pulp-originated paper page newspaper might be in question, the need to provide readers with professionally-gathered news is stronger than ever. Everyone wants to know what is going on with their world and who better than your friends and neighbors, your own hometown friends and neighbors, who work at your local paper, to keep you up to date with accurate information on what is happening around your town?

There are a number of old fogies, myself included, who would hate to ever see a newspaper go away. I sincerely hope that it never does.

We need to understand though that times are changing. Our children and grandchildren spend more time on a computer and their smart phone with each passing year.

If news breaks around town, or if there is a big rivalry game going on, today’s generation doesn’t want to wait a day to read about it. They want to know — now — what happened, or is happening, in the game.

News gathering is evolving. Not that many years ago, the news world revolved around getting stories ready for either a morning or afternoon deadline. By and large, that deadline restriction is going away and being replaced with a reporter with a laptop or cell phone whose mission is to get the story posted online while, in many cases, the incident is still unfolding.

As members of an older generation, many of us sit back and talk about how we love our daily paper and wish that things could revert back to the way they were in the “old days.” Yet, a majority of us are out perusing the web and looking for the latest news on our iPads and Smart Phones, just like our kids and grandchildren.

We need to face facts. The Internet gives us amazing possibilities that just do not exist with a paper product. From my standpoint, I love the fact that I can showcase more photographs from an event than just one or two that we can get in the paper.

Advertisers have so many more options these days. In addition to the traditional newspaper, web-based ads have brighter, more vibrant color. They can flash or scroll or rotate, the possibilities are nearly endless.

I don’t mean to sound like I wish to hasten the demise of a paper newspaper. I hope that they, and especially ours, are in your hands for many years to come.

I do hope that any of you out there who might be scoffing at the newfangled technology that is over-taking, or possibly taking over, our world, will look at the changes and give them a chance.

From our standpoint, we are the same dedicated staff, working to bring you news as accurately and promptly as possible. Learning about and embracing the web is just one more way we can help you stay informed.

As they would probably say in England … “The newspaper is dead. Long live the newspaper.”

Friday, February 1, 2013

Computers ... friend and foe

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Computers! Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them, especially in this 21st century.

I arrived at work earlier this week to find a new computer sitting on my desk. I'm not sure if it's a guy thing or a gadget-geek thing but I was like a little kid on Christmas morning as I unpacked Macintosh iMac and began the task of setting it up.

This is the first column written on this new system so, if there are any misspelled words or grammar faux pas, I get to blame the computer, this week only.

I frequently think about computers and how they affect our lives.

Many of us marvel at how quickly the world of aviation developed and grew. From Wilber and Orville Wright's first flight in December of 1903 to Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon in July of 1969, very little of that was accomplished with the power of a computer.

The Wright brothers, through the use of science and math, not to mention a lot of trial and error, became the first men to accomplish heavier-than-air sustained powered flight.

Computers were in use during World War II. These were analog computers that I won't say more about, lest you discover that I really have no idea how they worked.

I do know that a battleship's ability to train its guns and hit a moving target some 20 miles distant or a bombardier's use of a then-top secret Norden bombsight to put bombs "right in the pickle barrel" from his B-17  Flying Fortress was due to analog computers in which the information was cranked in and the machine calculated a solution.

Computers did play a large part in the history of NASA. The point has been made though that the total computing power aboard an Apollo spaceship was about that of some of today's hand-held calculators.

I remember very well the first home computer that my family purchased. After much research, we purchased a Magnavox PC. It had an amazing 64mb hard drive. The operating system was "GeoWorks." I also recall the relaxing naps that I was able to take as I waited — and waited — for the dial-up modem to stop making noise so that I could "surf the net."

That was well before the first digital cameras hit the market. As a side note, I was working at BK Photo & Gallery in Troy at that time. When we were introduced to digital cameras, the first one I saw, manufactured by Olympus, had a whopping resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. I can recall standing at the counter at BK Photo and telling a customer, "It will be cold day in h#!! before I ever use a digital camera. Yes, I have eaten those words for breakfast, lunch and dinner — several times.

The computer sitting in front of me, rather than a 64mb hard drive, has a one terabyte hard drive, nearly one million, million times larger than my first computer, and eight gigabytes of random access memory (RAM.)

What does all of this mean and where will it go from here? I have no idea. I grew up in a world of slide rules and having to calculate and reason problems. My success at that could be part of the reason why I am a photographer and not a rocket scientist.

All I can say is, first of all, thank you to our bosses here at the Piqua Daily Call/Civitas Media, for the computer upgrade. It is much appreciated, and I can't wait to see where the computing world leads us from here.

I only hope that our future generations don't forget how to use their brain. A mind really is a terrible thing to waste.