Sunday, April 27, 2008

Washington Square Park

"Stupid human tricks...", originally uploaded by shadowplay.

Dick Case featured the work of the Washington Square Neighborhood Task Force recently in his column. He's highlighted the North side several times recently, and always includes an interesting fact or two on the history of a neighborhood and it's people.

Syracuse's Washington Square is one block from the Police Center heading south on Park Street. It's an area of the North side that dates back to the Salt City's early roots.

The Task Force has been hard at work on various projects. The 100 year old monument in Washington Square is being restored, and other plans are under way to beautify the park. It should be looking great just in time for the Annual Picnic with Police and Fire this summer.

Bee Happy

"Bee Happy", originally uploaded by Somerslea.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Online Safety

originally uploaded by More Than A Model:: San Francisco.

"TV Turnoff/Screen Time Reduction Week" presents an opportunity for adults to raise their awareness of online safety risks and learn the tactics that keep children safe.

Kids are choosing the Internet over TV in large numbers, making screen reduction the larger issue. In the US, 45% of children use the Internet, representing 30 million under the age of 18.

Some have Internet access through cell phones, which are very prevalent among kids. According to the Wall Street Journal, 72% of teens between ages 13 and 17 have their own cell phones, and almost 30% of those consider Web access to be an essential feature for their next phone.

Awareness has been raised to many of the Internet dangers that exist, including receiving a sexual solicitation online, being sent explicit material, cyberstalking, and other risks.

Further, most adults are aware that other forms of electronic communication, including text messaging, chatting and using Social Networking web sites, present opportunities for kids to be exposed to or engage in risky or inappropriate communication with others.

Adults may not be aware, however, that tweens and teens are at a hgher risk of being solicited and exploited by online predators, not younger children. They're also more apt to become involved in incidents of online bullying (cyberbullying) and harassment. This age group is also more tech savvy, making it a greater challenge for adults who aren't as adept to rise to the safety challenge presented by the Internet and other electronic media.

Here are a few tips:
  • Begin with the basics: Know what actions are safe and what are not, and make good online habits a practice.
  • Be aware of potential privacy exposures: Know what information to share and what not to when using sites or interacting with others. Understand what happens to information you share when using different sites.
  • Be an example: Teaching others is more effective when you're practicing the essentials yourself, including using safe screen names and passwords. Descriptive names and words found in the dictionary are poor choices, respectively, as they are vulnerable to attack by hackers.
  • Be skilled: Take advantage of learning tools to bridge the digital divide between yourself and the kids in your life. iSafe offers an Internet Safety curriculum designed to be taken online at your own pace. It is customized to specific audiences who may be teaching kids how to be safe online, including parents, mentors and law enforcement.
Additional resources include:
  • NetSmartz 411: This site provides adults with Online Safety information and offers a searchable knowledge base on relevant topics. Learn about everything from MySpace to tracking your child's online activity. You can even ask questions to an expert using an online form or a toll-free number.
  • Take 25: Offers downloadable Safety Tips for parents, including ways to keep them safe at home, online and elsewhere.
If you don't have a computer at home, they are available at your local library.

Remember, always report any incidence of computer related crime to the police.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reducing Screen Time

"forsythia evening", originally uploaded by placeinsun.

When was the last time you took an evening walk with someone?

If you've done so recently, you've noticed how rapidly the outdoor scenery is changing. Aside from watching the spring buds evolve into blossoms, the sunsets have been spectacular. This photographer managed to capture both.

This week, some people are making efforts to reduce or eliminate all forms of screen time. "TV Turnoff Week" is part of a larger effort aimed at reducing the amount of time children and families spend in front of any screen.

Whether it's a TV, computer, cell phone, game, etc., screens are in our faces almost constantly. Activities involving screens, when taken to excess, are linked to serious health and learning problems in children.

Furthermore, interacting with screens tends to isolate people from one another. When not managed, these activities can reduce quality communication that is essential to building and strengthening relationships and, in some cases, also compromise trust.

Try turning off these devices in favor of family meals and other group activities, physical exercise, reading, walking the dog, experiencing nature or just enjoying the company of another person. We promise to have something interesting for you to read when you return.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Look Up

"Oh Magnolia", by Jude

(If you cannot view the video above, you may need to
install the latest version of Adobe
Flash, or
it may be something else.)

When the warm sun, that brings
Seed-time and harvest, has returned again,
'Tis sweet to visit the still wood, where springs
The first flower of the plain.

From the earth's loosened mould
The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives;
Though stricken to the heart with winter's cold,
The drooping tree revives.

- From An April Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, April 21, 2008

TV Turnoff Week: Now What?

"Wanna play?", originally uploaded by Patrick Q.

If you've decided to participate in "TV Turnoff Week", there are lots of alternative activities for kids.

Board games are always a good option because they provide an opportunity to learn while interacting with others. Select carefully, and you'll find a game that's a great learning tool for the kids while providing an opportunity to engage with them.

Getting a good brain workout is possible with some board games. Studies show that exercising your gray matter through mentally stimulating activities can ward off dementia, so join in.

If you're bored with the familiar boards, check this source.

Looking for a great game that is a lot of fun for a mixed group of tweens, teens and adults? Try Apples to Apples. It provides a unique way to open communication with kids that have hit the separation phase, and is a real crowd pleaser at family gatherings.

Skeptical about turning off the tube? Here are some reasons to give it a try.

New or gently used board games are sometimes available through donations to the Police Center Thrift Store. Stop by or give us a call at (315)471-3257.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Good morning, Starshine

"Good morning starshine", originally uploaded by Evilangelica.

...the Editor says "Hello".

No offense to Colonel Titan, but we needed something different to look at, although the caption above the sunrise is a throw back to a really hairy time in history. Be glad it's 2008.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Military Genius

"You WANT me on that ball....... you need me on that ball. We use words like honor, code, loyalty, and fetch. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something.....our homes, families, and balls. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to those who rise and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom and enjoyment that I provide, and then question the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said 'thank you', and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you either pick up a weapon, stand a post, or buy a Mastiff. Either way, I don't give a darn what you think you are entitled to."

"A FEW GOOD DOGS", by Yankees Man

I wonder if the Colonel's got coup d'oeil, too?

Monday, April 14, 2008


"Resilient", originally uploaded by ooki_op.

"Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries." - James A. Michener

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Juggling: A Metaphor for Life

"Six at Once.", originally uploaded by chefranden.

Kids are resilient.

They'll try something difficult regardless of the reasons adults may not. If they look silly, get bruised, have setbacks or fail while learning and adjusting, they roll with it as being part of the process, learn from it and bounce back. The reward of getting it right is worth the effort.

The greater the challenge, the more difficult it is to try and keep trying to get it right. Some challenges can be more like juggling swords rather than little wooden blocks. But we don't go from one level of ability to the next in an instant. It's a process.

In "Lessons from the Art of Juggling" Michael Gelb and Tony Buzan suggest that if we want to grow we need to step out intentionally toward challenges, and do so with a model of excellence to guide us. With the benefit of wise instruction, we minimize the risk since we're shown how to avoid pitfalls and mistakes. We learn from mistakes by recognizing where we can or did err, and following the right way. An excellent guide inspires to keep moving forward.

"When we do the best that we can,
we never know what miracle is wrought in our life,
or in the life of another." ~ Helen Keller

Syracuse Libraries and WiFi Hotspots

"CBR001041", originally uploaded by mrcapnfatpants.

Question: What's read and White and hot all over?

Answer: The White Branch library on Butternut Street.

It's the place to be this week if you've got kids who are off from school. On Sunday, "National Library Week" begins, with events for children and adults taking place at Onondaga County Library locations across the city.

On the North side, the White Branch at 763 Butternut Street offers extended hours and WiFi. They're open M/Tu/F 9am-5pm, W/Th 8:30am-8:30pm. On Saturdays, White is open 9am-5pm. In addition, the Northeast Community Center Library is located at 716 Hawley Avenue. Hours are: M/Tu/F 9am-5pm, W/Th 10am-5:30pm. There are no weekend hours.

On weekdays, you can always stop in to the Northside Community Police Center. We have a supply of books, internet access and WiFi available. The coffee is always on, and we'll make a fresh pot just for you. We usually have snacks and beverages that kids like, too.

On Weekends, many other library branches are open on Saturday. Two city branches are open on Sunday from 9am-5pm: Betts, 4862 S. Salina Street, and Soule, 101 Springfield Road.

Suburban libraries open Sunday 1-5pm include:
Baldwinsville, DeWitt, Fayetteville, Manlius and Solvay. Liverpool is open 12-5pm and Marcellus is open 2-4pm.

Some libraries have either extended or shortened hours in the summer. Be sure to check before heading out.

The availability and type of technology varies in the different branch locations.

If you have a library card, you can access the library's resources online. Designate a library as your pickup location and anything you check out will be sent there. You can choose to be called or emailed when your item comes in.

There are WiFi hotspots all over the area, and many are free.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Singin' in the Rain: Five Ways to Deal With April Showers

Five things to do with a kid over a rainy weekend:

1. Have an indoor picnic.

2. Visit the library: Check out books, movies or music.

3. Bake cookies, or try a new recipe.

4. Take a walk in the woods or a nearby park: Dress for mud puddles. Collect leaf, bark and branch samples and identify trees.

5. Learn to juggle. Yes, juggle. Here's an inexpensive way to make your own bean bag balls. Gather supplies and make them on Saturday, and you'll be juggling by Sunday. Then again, there's always the bean bag fight option.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Scenes from the North side II: Little Italy

"Little Italy", originally uploaded by cinnamon girl 71.

The north side is populated with historic structures that date back to the 19th century. Many of them housed businesses that were started by German and Italian immigrants who settled here during this period.

The Police Center is located in an area that was the center of brewing in the city until Prohibition. One of the largest, the Kearney Brewery, was located down the block at the corner of Wolf and North Salina.

South of this location, buildings that formerly housed clothing and shoe manufacturers and small retailers in Little Italy are in the midst of a renaissance.

Scenes from the North side I: Penfield Manufacturing

The Northside Community Police Center is located on the ground floor of the red brick building that formerly housed Penfield Manufacturing, a mattress factory. The business has been closed for more than a year and the building is currently on the market.

On the roof (behind the sign) is a small house that always intrigues passers by. It's a shell that holds the building's mechanicals.

We've been allowed to stay in this location until the building is sold or longer, depending on the terms offered by the new owner. Real estate in Syracuse is considered by industry watchers to be undervalued, and prices have not declined at the same rate as they have nationally. The area is attractive to investors.

For example, Royal Electric, who has been located across the street for many years, is going out of business due to the owner's retirement. They haven't closed shop yet and the building is already sold, with plans for a combination of commercial and residential development. Dick Case has captured these and other facts in his recent column with interesting historical information about the area, our neighbors and this building.

255 Wolf Street is at the northern edge of a business district that spans several miles along North Salina Street, near residential neighborhoods and parks. It's within an Empire Zone, offering significant tax advantages to businesses, and in proximity to acreage designated within the Lakefront Development Master Plan that is directing revitalization of the area.

Our generous donors have made it possible to stay in this location, providing the resources needed to adjust all the mechanicals for this space. This has made it possible to use the facility while the rest of the building is vacant. Changes to the lighting, HVAC, and water systems were all completed thanks to donors who supplied the funds, materials and labor.

The space features a reception and office area, one private office/storage area, and a large room used for events. There is a kitchenette and single stall bathroom. We have a Thrift Store set up in a storage room.

When events are held, every inch of the space is utilized. Families who register for the events, such as our Christmas party, come at appointed times throughout the day so that we can accommodate everyone. We typically have about 1,000 people in attendance at Christmas over the course of the event.

The Center is located near Interstate 81. We're on the busline and within walking distance to:

We are just a skip away from Hancock International Airport.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Life is about using the whole box of crayons.


Did you know that our capacity to learn is virtually unlimited? Most people underestimate the capabilities of themselves and others and believe that potential is limited. While we may have strengths in certain areas, our capacity is not fixed at birth.

Michael Gelb explores the potential for human capacity to improve through training in "How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci". While his book focuses on thinking, he cites research indicating that intelligence is found in areas beyond those that are traditionally measured by standardized tests. Seven or more areas exist, including:

  • Logical-Mathematical
  • Verbal-Linguistic
  • Spatial-Mechanical
  • Musical
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic
  • Interpersonal-Social
  • Intrapersonal

These were later spliced by the same researcher into twenty-five subintelligences, including moral and spiritual.

We may think of these areas for potential growth as being our box of crayons.

You are unique among the six billion people on the planet with something to contribute. Why not use all your crayons?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Courage: Alferd Williams Lives a Dream

"A Rainbow, bursting though....", originally uploaded by Right Eye.

Alferd Williams kept his word.

At the age of 70, he's fulfilling a promise that he made to his mother years ago: He is learning to read.

There's more to the soundbites about the humble man who sits in classroom of first graders on a stool that is meant for someone a quarter of his size. Alferd has faced unusual circumstances, the kind that would make most people shy away from such an idea.

But he's not like most people. He seems neither concerned with what people think, nor interested in the fame and recognition he's received. He's simply focused on fulfilling a promise, motivated by a deep, lifelong need within to learn and grow. So when Alferd saw that the possibility to realize his dream was within reach, he pursued it.

Still, it wasn't easy. Alferd had to overcome obstacles that mounted over the years. After Alferd's father died, his mother needed him to work in the fields of their family farm, harvesting cotton, in order to help feed his eleven siblings. He had to forego a formal education, but always wanted to learn to read. Over the years, there had been other times when Alferd reached out for someone to help him, but he was unsuccessful. He needed someone who wouldn't make him feel stupid, foolish or inferior.

As he kept walking to and from school with the children in his care, Alferd noticed how their teacher spoke to them. He wondered whether she would be willing to teach him. But the history of failure and confronting obstacles had taken their toll.

It took a long period of observation before he got the courage to seek her out. "In two years, I never heard her treat a kid bad,” Williams said. “I thought, ‘This is a person who could teach me to read.”

When Alferd finally asked, he didn't receive an immediate "yes". But the very next day, she agreed. By volunteering in a first grade classroom, Alferd has become a servant-leader, teaching the children lessons as he learns with them.

The kids show enthusiasm and gratitude that Alferd is with them. The teacher says he's a role model, whose presence is an inspiration. She notes that he "has a never ending smile", adding, “Alferd has totally changed the way I think about teaching school.”

Friday, April 4, 2008

Character: Not The Outside

"Character: Not The Outside", originally uploaded by ErinsWorld.

"If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Syracuse Chief's Season Opens

Now that the Chief's baseball season is underway, it's time to get outdoors for an afternoon of watching a ballgame with a child. This can be a fun activity for tweens, before they lose interest in doing much of anything with parents.

The stadium is a nice facility, the seats are comfortable and the new turf will add to the experience. Parking is plentiful, good views are available and the facility is accessible by bus. General Admission tickets are $10, and $4 for youth under 12.

From time to time, we have complementary tickets available to the Syracuse Chief's games, thanks to the generosity of area business owners and others who donate them for the use of neighbors and supporters.

If you're planning an outing, give us a call at (315)471-3257. And if you'd like to take a child along with your family, let us know.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Become a Subscriber: The 411 on RSS

Thank you, Subscribers, who read the blog regularly.

Since we thrive on reader recidivism, we want it to be easy for you to connect with us. A bright orange button (right margin) is now available for one click access to the blog's RSS feed.

If you're still typing our address in the search field of your browser, you're working way too hard. There's a solution that's easier than Bookmarks. You can have our updates come to you as soon as they hit the blogosphere. Subscribe to our blog using a Feed Reader.

Perhaps you're wondering what a Feed Reader is and why you should care. Or, you need a step by step guide to subscribing. Your help is here.

You can either keep Googling things the hard way, or take time out and listen carefully to this "geek speak" about the subject using screen shots and plain language. If that's not enough to aggregate you, he can be made to repeat himself, as he is already aggregated and believes you ought to be, too.

Then go forth and get yourself a Reader, reader.

If you are so not a morning person, but feel you must be newsworthy while semi-comatose, consider changing the default Home Page in your browser. Make your Reader show up when you turn your computer on. Every site you regularly check can be at your fingertips.

And if you have one of those little PalmBerries, there's a Reader designed just for it.

So, after a few swigs of your morning java, you'll be ready to impress your friends with your newfound technical prowess. When they stop by your desk to distract you, distract them right back, you newsjunkie. (Sweet.)

Now you're a Subscriber. Tell us what content you prefer to read.

Our unscientific mini poll (right margin) is waiting for the 411 on you. Don't worry, the thing won't destroya when you vote. And there are no swinging Chads hanging around. So if you're feeling disenfranchised, no whining about how nobody explained your Reader Rights to you. Just do as we ask and give us the facts, please.

If you're still not aggregated, please leave us a comment. We're here to help you.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tag, Ur It!

"The Wall At Central Square", originally uploaded by blue socks.

We'd like to give a big shout out to the donor who responded to our call for help cleaning up outside the Police Center.

Please stop by and see Officer Clarke so that he can properly acknowledge your contribution.