Subways, Buses and Wheelchairs – Oh My!

by Dan Fogg

Have you ever taken a subway before? I have. Ever ridden a public bus before? I have. Ever gotten to where you’re going riding the bus or the subway? Rats, you got me there…

I rode the subway for the first time the other day. I was going to Brooklyn. To a party. To a meeting that would likely turn quickly into a party. I was supposed to take the bus, the N6, from my place to the train station, then a train all the way to Flatbush Ave, a quick bus ride, and hike it the last couple blocks. Well I took the bus, the first one, and I took it right past the train station. I went too far, and immediately, immediately I was lost.

This lady told me to get to Flatbush Ave I should hop on this other bus and go to this other station and get on this other train that I’d never heard of. And stupidly I did, because the train she told me to transfer to was a train that I actually had heard of, and I knew it would get me where I wanted to go. So I went.

Come to find out the train she was talking about wasn’t so much running that day as it, well… wasn’t. There was another train in its place, but it would go to the same places, so I hopped on – not easy to do in this thing – and I rode. And I got off where she told me to and I went to find the train I knew, but the problem was, there was no elevator at this station.

You can’t possibly have felt this feeling. The feeling of being trapped, of being lost, of being helpless and alone, all at the same damn time. Imagine being in a ballroom. You have to go the bathroom, desperately. And there’s people all around you, and they’re living their lives. And they tell you where the bathroom is. And you go. And when you get there you realize you’re three inches tall, and there’s no way, no way, no way you can reach the knob. And beyond that, beyond that no one can hold it open for you because there’s a gap in the floor six inches wide and you can’t make that jump.

Imagine that. Imagine it. That’s how I felt. That’s how I felt, lost in New York.

Hear Me, Hear Me

By Dan Fogg

A disability is a characteristic. It is an identifying feature. “My name is Dan, I have auburn hair, hazel eyes, I’m in a motorized wheelchair. I’ll be wearing a green shirt and jeans. I’ll meet you outside the restaurant around three.” But it’s still a disability. It’s still a basic human ability that a person happens to lack.

Advocates of deaf rights have latched onto a recent medical development called cochlear implants, devices implanted in a deaf person’s ear that makes them at least partially able to hear. The device should be implanted at a young age and destroys any residual hearing the person may have. The decision to undergo the procedure should be considered carefully. But the reasons some people give for not undergoing the procedure are confusing.

Advocates of deaf rights argue that being deaf is who they are and to correct their deafness would be to shun their culture. It’s impossible to go on without pointing out the absurdity of this. If you lack the ability to hear, that is a medical condition that severely affects your life. So when someone offers you a way to correct that, how do you say you don’t want it?

But you don’t have to understand or agree with a position in order to respect it. In the end it’s up to each individual to decide what to do with their hearing. The problem comes when the advocates start pushing their views in the media. They talk about the “deaf community” and the culture that they share, and they don’t realize what they’re doing to promote segregation and prejudice.

People of varying race, of varying age, of varying gender and sexual preference have fought and continue to fight to be treated as equals among other people. They fight against hate, against bias, and against the idea that they are separate. Disabled people fight the same things, and everyone tries very hard to be part of the whole that is the human race. But you can’t be equal to everyone else and segregate yourselves at the same time.

The “deaf community” is an idea that deaf people share a common bond and should help each other with support and friendship. But in lumping the deaf together like that, it perpetuates the idea that they should be separate. And if they’re separate because they’re different, shouldn’t all different people be separate?

All people should be treated equally, we try to teach that every day. Then we go home and separate ourselves into groups with common traits. In order for others to treat us as equals, we must treat ourselves as equals as well.

Clouded Judgments – Living With Fear

by Daniel Fogg

It was April 20, 1999. Lunchtime. Two teens walked into the cafeteria of a small Colorado high school and forever changed the world. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire, killed 13 people, and shattered a country’s delusions.

Schools are sanctuaries. Safe. Secure. Children are blessed. Protected. Immortal. These are fantasies we let ourselves believe time and time again. A tragedy tells us we’re wrong, we mourn the injured and dead, we move on with our lives. We survive. We forget.

Not this time. Columbine will not be forgotten.

Remember, learn, avoid future heartache. Don’t let history repeat itself. Good. But how far are we willing to go? How much are we willing to sacrifice?

A 20-man task force was established to make the Greece school district in upstate New York safe. Superintendents have been brainstorming for months in Rush, a nearby school district. What makes kids open fire? What makes killers kill?

The blame shifted quickly from access to upbringing to plain old opportunity. Motive was all but ignored. The killers themselves were virtually blameless. Then it hit them. The parents, the officials, the task force experts. They all realized the truth. Killers kill because of what they wear.

Within days of the shooting black trench coats were banned from nearly every school in America. Then the overcoats were disallowed altogether, no matter the color. When two men were seen standing outside one building in the long attire, classes were canceled for the day. And then a girl sat on a bus and pulled a gun-shaped key chain from her bag and the authorities realized how wrong they were.

The girl was expelled, the key chain confiscated. The task force was reeling, the superintendents stunned. They hadn’t overreacted strongly enough. They hadn’t realized the scope. Killers don’t kill because of what they wear. Killers kill because they can.

Now the schools are pulling out all the stops. In Greece there’s a ban on all coats and jackets. Cold, sick, in bed with pneumonia is better than dead. Many schools will soon be using ID tags. Label the kids, makes it easier to identify the bodies. But the winner for the ultimate in safety goes to Rush-Henrietta, where a ban has been placed on all backpacks.

That’s right. Backpacks. Not to worry, though, it’s not like they’re overreacting. To show how reasonable they can be, the school board is willing not to ban them completely. Students can bring bags, sure. Why not? But the problem comes once they’re inside, so the bags must be emptied at the door and stored, empty, in the student’s locker. Wow.

Tragedy, violence, death; these things are a part of life. They’ll always be around, they can’t be avoided. Why should we drive ourselves crazy while we try? Why should we punish our kids for dead people’s crimes?

We shouldn’t. And yet we do.

The Vortex

What is the vortex?

A question I’ve been striving to answer for years.

So here’s the story…

A couple years ago, I’m driving (riding, my brother-in-law was driving) down to New York City for this student journalists’ convention Columbia puts on every year.  We’re following a map from MapsOnUs and it’s starting to get fairly dark.  We’re somewhere in Pennsylvania, and I’m getting in an evil mood, so I start talking about how weird everything looks.  How we could be entering THE VORTEX.

The vortex, I say, is an alternate universe made from evil, and the sky is green and the trees are blue.  And if we get sucked in we’ll never make it out.  Not alive, anyway.

The sky is getting darker and so is the mood, because we’ve been on this stretch of highway for awhile and it seems to extend into infinity.  And the map tells us to exit onto a highway whose number I can’t remember, then one mile later get back on the one we’re on.  That seems odd to us, but we follow the map because, hell, we’ve never driven to the City before.

As we near the exit we pass a billboard, blank and low to the ground.  I comment that it looks almost like an empty spot for a sponsor ad in some sort of NBC Miniseries.  And we take the exit and drive through this little town that’s not a highway at all, and we never reach the other side.

We drove.  And drove.  There was no on ramp.  We drove.  And drove.  There were no signs.

We stopped at this gas station and asked for directions from this guy who looked oddly like an ogre.  He was probably just an Oaf, though, cause his directions led us nowhere.

And I swear, in the dark, those trees were blue.

After awhile we turned around and got back on the way we came.  And we ignored the directions and stayed off the vortex highway and ended up exactly where we wanted to go.

I can’t tell you where the vortex was or recommend that you go there.  All I know is it’s a little stretch of road that serves no particular purpose.  The sky is green and the trees are blue and if you’ve got money you may be able to sponsor it.  And if you end up there, say hi to the ogre at the little gas station down the road.

I don’t want to ever see him again.

Spacial Relocation

MCC Front

Monroe Community College. A small college in upstate New York filled with astoundingly cool professors. I did my two years there before NYU, and it’s truly a wonderful place. But something about it’s a little freaky.

This is the outside of MCC.


It looks normal, right? It is, for the most part.

For the most part.

This one day, fairly warm, I’m waiting to meet Mom and the brother. They’re picking me up from class at 3:00. So three rolls around, and I go outside, and they’re not there yet. Mom’s usually (always) a little (incredibly) late, so I go back in and wait.

3:15. I go outside. I scan the parking lot. Nothing.

I wander around a bit, killing time, knowing they’ll be there eventually.

3:30. I go outside. I scan the parking lot. Nothing.

I go inside and wait. I look up at the ceiling and wait. I look outside and… wait, they’re there.

I go out and meet them and they ask me where I’ve been.

Here, I say, waiting for you.

Nut uh, they say, we’ve been waiting for you.

Well I’ve been checking since three o’clock, and you haven’t been around…

Not true. We’ve been here since about ten after. You must just not have seen us.

The view from the entrance to their parking spot.


The view from their parking spot to the entrance. Up there at the top of the ramp.


So here’s the thing… If I came outside and looked right where they were parked, and they were sitting there watching for me, but I didn’t see them and they didn’t see me, then where was I and where were they?

Now it’s quite possible they were lying through their teeth, but when that happens my brother is usually less than adamant. He’s very adamant that they were there. And I know I was there. So bottom line… that’s just freaky.

That’s Just Freaky



Human beings are sometimes – many times – endowed with a near perverse talent for stupidity.  That much we have established.

Technology, made by those humans who usually consider themselves the sharper knives in the drawer, is often instilled with a mind boggling ability to confuse and annoy.  That we’ve also established.

But what about the very world in which we live?  This place that we call Earth.  This place that many fight to protect from the stupidity of generations passed.  This place that others fight to destroy because saving it is just too hard.  The planet Earth, which we call home.  It has its quirks, too.

What do I mean by quirks?  Well, what’s this page about?  Weirdness.  Weirder than marshmallows.  Hard to explain, impossible to ignore.  In this case, any anomaly that you just don’t get, that doesn’t make sense, that makes you look up and say, That’s Just Freaky.

All right, an example.  I was in, I believe, seventh grade.  The local carnival was going on, and I went with my best friend, Emily.  My sister drove us, then left us to our own accord, with instructions to meet her at 8:30.  We wandered around, played some games, went on a couple of rides.  Then we checked our watch, and it was 8:15, or, you know, somewhere in a five minute span.  Cool, we said, just enough time for one more ride.  We just happened to be passing one of Emily’s favorites.

I don’t remember what this thing was called, but I’ll do my best to describe it.  It was a tall metal pole jammed into the ground with four – let’s call them branches – protruding from it.  Each branch in turn had four mini-branches, each of those housed a cart, which dangled from its end.  When it was going, the main branches turned to the left, the mini-branches swung the carts to the right.  So basically you were turning, at very high speeds, in two directions at once.  It was great.

So, you’re saying, where’s the weird part?  Hard to explain, impossible to ignore.  It’s coming, relax.

We rode this ride, and I can’t stress this enough, once.  Only once.  We didn’t say screw it and go again.  We didn’t have time, we had to go meet my sister.  So we got off after one ride and started to head to the parking lot.  About half way there, we met up with my sister, and boy was she fuming.  She’d just come to look for us, she’d been sitting there waiting forever.  Huh?  We checked our watches.  It was nearly 9:00.  Whoa…

Have you ever been on a ride that lasts forty-five minutes?  It sure didn’t go that long from where we were sitting.  More like five, from my best estimate.  Emily and I just looked at her, dumbfounded, then finally left.  What we should have done is stop, look at each other and say…

That’s Just Freaky.

Cranky Cat

Ever had a watch that just stopped working?  Sure, the battery goes dead, you go buy a new one, and presto, it works again.  Or you shove it in a drawer until you feel like buying a new one and end up getting a new watch instead.

My mom had this watch awhile back, a Garfield watch, with his arms as the hands.  And it stopped working.  And she shoved it in a drawer.

She was hardcore broken up about that watch, let me tell you.  She’s a rabid fan of that fat cat.  So she swore she’d get out and buy a new battery, but you know how it goes.  She never did.

Then one day she was looking through the drawer, and she notices the watch is ticking.  It’s working.  Perfectly fine.  So she takes it out and puts it on.

A few days later it stops again.  Dead.

She shoves it back in the drawer.

A couple days later she checks it again.  Working.

She puts it back on.  A day goes by.  It stops.

You see where I’m going with this…

Watch batteries don’t recharge themselves, at least not normally, do they?  What about this watch made it so cranky?  So temperamental?  Was it just taking after the cat on its face?  Who knows… All I can say is, technology sucks.

(This was written originally in 2001, the watch worked off and on until Feb 2007… yup.. was cranky for a LOT of years… damn cat)

Push of a Button


This is a phone.

Simple.  Easy to use.

Push some buttons, call goes through, people you need to talk to answer.

That is, if technology didn’t suck.

I had a phone, not the one pictured above, but one fairly similar to it, and one day it decided it didn’t like me any more.  That’s right, that’s what I said, it didn’t like me any more.  And it liked the rest of my family fine, it liked guests and strangers fine, it just didn’t much care for me.  So to show me how much it didn’t care for me, it started playing tricks on me.

Tell me again how to use a phone… Push buttons, the call goes through, people you need to talk to answer.  Simple.  Easy to use.  This is a phone.  Until the buttons stop doing what they’re told.

I called a number one day, I was calling the local TV station, and the call went through, and someone picked up.  Hello, they said, which was odd since I was calling a business, not a home.  Usually businesses answer with their names.  So I asked if this was News 10 NBC, and the person said I had the wrong number.


So I dialed again, and I got a different person.  And they also said hello.  So I asked if they were who I was looking for, and they said no, I had the wrong number.


So I dialed again very slowly, checking each number as it went in.  And someone new, a third person answered.  And they also said hello.  And I asked if they were the right number, and they said no, they weren’t.

I had someone else dial for me, and the call went through perfectly fine.

And that miffed me off a bit.

Eventually I worked out that every time I dialed *four* the phone dialed something else entirely.  I don’t know what, a random number, and only when it was me.  So I worked around it, and the phone got pissed.  Then the six stopped working, and later the five, but still only when the dialer was me.

I have a new phone now, and it’s perfectly fine.  But I always make sure I’m nice to it.  Cause if you piss off your phone, it can be a real pain in the finkster.

Technology Sucks

Technology Sucks

Technology has become the basis of our civilization.  Computers, cell phones, copiers and the like are no longer optional, they’re mandatory.  Someone asked me the other day where she could fax something to me.  Not if.  Where.  If you’re planning on going anywhere in your life, technology is coming along for the ride.

But technology didn’t begin with the Atari and Commodore 64.  Computers and video games are high-technology, the pinnacle of the field, but we tend to think of them as the entire field.  We forget about electricity, cars, refrigerators, indoor plumbing, all the things that really are civilization as we know it.  That’s all technology, too.

What’s my point?  Technology is life.

Life sucks.

The problem with technology is you need a degree to understand how it works.  You can turn things on, use them, maybe even fix minor glitches.  But to really understand them, you have to be trained, and even then they’ll still manage to fool you.

The things technology does can’t be explained.  I stopped trying a really long time ago.  Computers break down for absolutely no reason, then come back on of their own free will.  Refrigerators stop refrigerating, automobiles stop mobilizing, lights stop lighting, and nobody can figure out why.  We don’t try.  If worse comes to worse, we get ourselves a new one.

Technology sucks.  This is the place to tell us all why.  What’s your car done to you that you just can’t figure out?  What appliances do you have that only work when they feel like it?  What does your television do if you turn it on too fast?  All these things are stories I want to hear.

Technology will always suck.  We may as well get a laugh out of it.

The Pickers

Ever heard of the Green Bay Pickers? Nah, me neither. Lucky thing, though, cause they almost became just that a couple years back.

Seems the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group got a bug up their butt (would that harm the bug?) about the name Green Bay Packers. The Packers, apparently, are shortened from meat packers (them football players are all packin meat anyway), and that means hurting cows and pigs and shit like that. So they made a stink.

You can’t call yourselves the Packers, they said. It’s mean and pointless and wrong. Why not call yourselves something more benevolent? Like the Pickers, as in fruit pickers! That would be okay. Plants suck ass, they deserve to die.

There really isn’t a whole lot to say about this in general. It’s just an example, really, so I can officially add PETA to the category of stupidity en masse.

(To any PETA members or advocates, of course I mean none of the above.)

(To any intelligent people, yeah, I totally do.)