Loretta, This Is The Utica I Know


The Urban Phoenix

Earlier today a friend turned me on to a blog referencing Utica, New York, an imperfect but rising city I have come to love and adore.  In this blog, the writer, now living in North Carolina, explains how Utica’s status as a refugee (and particularly a Muslim refugee) sanctuary is destroying the fabric of the city.

If you’re an urbanist that loves hard numbers (which I love as well), this one might not be for you.  If you’re someone who believes in the fighting spirit of our urban revivals through acceptance, diversity and understanding, then I urge you to read on.  My open letter to Loretta the blogger below is more personal and less informative than the content I typically post, though it addresses the very nature of how our perceptions of our cities often fail us.  I am an even-handed writer and always do my best to see…

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Night Kaep. 


CK photo

Sup Sundy Besters? Corey here.  How’s your week? Full of divisiveness and despair? Heard that.

Swear to god, when it comes to hiding out from political drama and hypocritically-butt-hurt-right-wingers,  you can’t even seek refuge in football anymore.

While Kaep tried his best to hold the peaceful protest that has been requested from the ever squawking  “don’t tread on me” bunch, it turns out that when they said “as long as it’s peaceful, we don’t mind if you protest”, what they really meant was “hey boy, the sand’s been scattered on the stage. Get to soft-shoeing or shut the fuck up!”

That’s right, Trumpites, Trumpateers, Pregame Trumps… Whatever y’all are calling yourselves. You’ve been exposed!

Respect the flag… but not people:)

Turns out, it’s not a peaceful protest you want from the black community. What has bothered you isn’t the outliers who (sadly) promote violence at BLM movements even though you’ve…

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That time I had a gun pointed at me in class

In the pre-Columbine days of the late 1990s, I attended a graduate program in a small town in upstate New York (didn’t finish, but that’s a story for another time).  For one class, each of us was assigned to bring in an object that was personally significant; I probably brought a doll since I’d done an internship in the doll collection of a museum and was in my glory. I’d probably remember what I had brought with more certainty if a classmate hadn’t brought a gun to show off.


There are definitely worse places for an untimely death, but I’d still rather avoid an untimely death.

There were two men in our class, both pretty unpredictable when it came to tempers, but fortunately, we women outnumbered them and so felt safe for the most part (and the two men in the class ahead of us were utter gentlemen). Not that we would have imagined anyone shooting up a classroom – having books thrown at our heads and physical intimidation were more the norm. And I doubt we would have imagined anything happening in a full classroom – we were far more wary of the parking lot or the computer lab in the wee hours.

And then the Unpredictable Mr. Smith decided to bring in his grandfather’s rifle. We had no idea if it was loaded, but we knew that he was pointing it at us. I remember the collective holding of breath and taking my eyes off the gun just long enough to check to see if the exits were accessible (one was, but if 15 people tried to get through it at once?) and consider the potential outcomes of jumping out the window (not good – we were high enough up that we’d probably break something in landing, if we were lucky enough not to hit our heads on the rocks and roll unconscious into one of the cleanest, loveliest lakes in the state). Had he decided to shoot, rather than just let us know that he could if he wanted to, there would have been casualties – “like shooting fish in a barrel” except that the fish were students and the barrel was the classroom. We had to – literally  – sit and sweat it out. It was terrorizing and terrifying.

And as for the “good guy with a gun” theory, had someone else been armed, the situation would have escalated, and it would have been really ugly. But again, this was a time when most of us wouldn’t fathom being in mortal danger while attending a class (and I’m of the opinion that we really shouldn’t have to worry about being in mortal danger while going about our daily business). We have no sanctuaries any more, and the gun lobby is okay with that. To millions of people, their right to  gun (which isn’t really a right – show me your militia, I’d love to come see a training session. The sheriff’s posse does it, and so can you!) is greater than the right of many millions more to go about their business peacefully.

Sure, guns are part of American culture, but there must be limits. Not everyone is qualified mentally or functionally to have firearms – why is that so hard to accept? On a no-fly list? No gun. History of violence? No gun. Law-abiding, responsible citizen with no history of violence? Here’s your gun – go forth and educate!

The NRA should be glad to know that the student who brought (and pointed) the gun at his classmates faced no consequences other than being asked to not bring firearms to class again. That did nothing to help the rest of us sleep or feel comfortable in the same room as this guy, but unfortunately that’s par for the course for people on the receiving end of threatened and actual violence.

“It’s all in how they’re raised.”

Excellent piece, and after working in shelters and veterinary hospitals, I completely agree.

Paws Abilities

“All puppies are blank slates.” “If you do everything right with your puppy, you’ll have a great adult dog.” “If dogs have behavioral issues, we should blame the handle end of the leash.”

These are common misconceptions I hear as a trainer, and they make me so very sad. Behavior is a combination of nature and nurture, and if we could just take a moment to look logically at these myths, we would see just how silly they are.

Photo by Tavallai Photo by Tavallai

Genetics influence behavior. This is part of the reason we have breeds: if you want a dog to work your sheep, you’re going to choose a Border Collie, not a Brittany Spaniel. Even though the two dogs have the same basic size and shape, one is more likely to have the instinctive motor patterns to do the work than the other. Getting a Border Collie whose parents…

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The end of summer is nigh: Keep your cat-loving kids entertained

Saturday is August 1. AUGUST 1. How did this happen, and where do I lodge a complaint? I remember summers of babysitting when i was young, and keeping the youngsters entertained got to be a challenge, even those in those days, we played outside a lot. Here are some suggestions that may help parents, grandparent, babysitters and other caregivers avoid hearing the chronic whine, “But, I’m BORED!”

  • Judy Schachner is the author of the contemporary and entertaining Skippyjon Jones series, about a small cat with a big imagination. With more than 10 Skippyjon books available, there are plenty of adventures to keep children in grades kindergarten through 3rd Grade entertained.
Skippyjon Jones

Skippyjon Jones

  • Many adults will recognize author Amy Tan from her literary fiction, but children can also enjoy her work in the tale of The Chinese Siamese Cat. The book is out of print, but can be found at libraries or purchased in audio formats (of course, you can always find copies for sale, but they are not exactly bargains). PBS Kids also produced a  Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat animated series, which is available on DVD for those rainy days stuck inside.
  • There are also several books for more advanced readers, such as the fantasy Warriors series, Tailchaser’s Song, and Catalyst and Catacombs.
  • On those days when the children just can’t get outside, there are many family-friendly movies that feature cats. The Adventures of Milo and OtisCats and DogsThat Darn Cat, Alice in Wonderland, and Homeward Bound are all available for purchase, streaming, or download. If you have an especially sensitive child in the mix and you aren’t familiar with the movie, do a little homework or view the movie ahead of time to make sure that nobody will get emotionally overwhelmed (we all have stories of that one book, movie, song, or cartoon that traumatized us!).
  • Encourage children to express themselves by drawing, painting, taking photos of, singing songs about, and writing about cats. For aspiring young writers, his is an opportunity to teach them how to research and the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Other artists can learn what paints, colors, and methods they like the most.
  • Older students may wish to volunteer (sometimes for community service credits) with a humane society or cat rescue. Most of these organizations have strict rules for the safety of both animals and volunteers, beginning with age requirements (usually, people must be at least 16 – if not 18 – to volunteer). Volunteers must be mature, responsible, and willing to do a number of tasks; in addition to giving cats and kittens attention, volunteers may also be responsible for cleaning cages and litter boxes. It may not be glamorous, but it is certainly necessary!


  • More and more these days, we see children asking for donations for shelters and cat welfare organizations instead of gifts. If your child doesn’t have a summer birthday, but would like to do something like this, they may enjoy something traditional and entrepreneurial such as a lemonade stand, or they can have an un-birthday party!
  • Children who enjoy arts and crafts need go no further than the local craft store for supplies they can use to decorate t-shirts, embellish picture frames, or maybe participate in a pottery class where they can make cat-themed bowls and other items.
  • When hosting a group of children, put a feline spin on traditional games. Pin the Tail on the Donkey becomes Pin the Tail on the Kitty, Musical Chairs becomes musical Cat Beds, and Red Rover becomes White Whiskers. you can also create an age-appropriate game of cat trivia, or pick up a kitty-shaped pinata at a party supply store.

Summer is nearing it’s end, so encourage those young cat lovers now so they will become cat-loving adults!