Friday, April 22, 2011

More customer "service."

So I had to call National Grid today ...

I'd like to pay my bill, but I don't have my bill with me and I didn't feel like driving home just to get the bill so I could make my payment.

So I talked to some CSR. Mia, I think her name was. Or Mara. Something with an "M," at least.

She asked for my account number or social security number. As I don't have my bill (and don't feel it necessary to memorize my National Grid account number), I gave her my social.

Next question: My name. Then, address. And then she asked my phone number. At this point I stopped her. What in God's name could she possible need all this information for? I just want to pay my bill!!!

So I told her how silly it was that she had a parade of questions to ask and said, "If anyone ever calls and wants to pay my bill, just let them. Don't make them jump through all these hoops.

She told me it was "for security purposes."

I laughed. "The first thing you asked was my social securty number. They already had that. Plus my name and my address. They've already got all the good stuff. I'm not really worried if they also have how much my electric bill is for!!!!!"


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Man of many hats

Just one of many Sabres hats.
I wear a lot of hats.

That’s not a metaphor, although it is true in that sense, as well. No, I literally mean I wear a lot of hats.
I’ve had a love affair with baseball caps since a young age.

I don’t recall how old I was when it happened, but I was told in my youth that people in baseball caps never amount to anything. I decided then and there that I would be successful — while wearing a baseball cap.

The majority of my hat arsenal is comprised of Sabres hats. Blue and gold mostly, although I do have a few of the black and red variety. In all, I have nine Buffalo Sabres hats. Some were gifts, but most of them I bought myself.

I wear them during hockey season. And football season. And baseball season. I’m not sure when cricket season is, but I wear them then, too.

Yes, I wear other hats, but mostly, I like to stick to the Sabres ones. They’re the ones I’m the proudest of. My hockey runs deep.

I like to travel, at least to the degree my budget allows me to. I’ve worn my Sabres hats in almost every city I’ve been to. A week ago, it was Washington, D.C. And sitting in the Air and Space Museum having lunch, my girlfriend pointed out another guy in a Sabres hat. Instant connection. We ended up running into that guy and talking very briefly. The conversation went something like this:
“Nice hat. Go Sabres.”

A couple summers ago, I wore a Sabres hat to Toronto when I ran into a guy in a Maple Leafs jersey. Suffice it to say, he was not nearly as impressed with my hat as the guy in D.C. was. In fact, I recall getting into somewhat of a verbal altercation with Toronto guy. I generally try to steer clear of altercations, but he was speaking ill of my team. And, really? He’s a Leafs fan.

A few years ago, I wore my Sabres hats in Philly. Also, Boston, New York, and Cleveland. You get the picture. I'm a Sabres fan all the time. Everywhere I go.

I always find it interesting this time of year how many people have Sabres hats. Seems to be a lot more Sabres hats (and T-shirts and jerseys, etc.) in early to mid-April than there are in, say, mid-November.
Some people get upset with the “bandwagon” effect that comes with any playoff run. I don’t really mind at all. I like suddenly having something in common with almost everyone in Western New York.

I haven’t bought a new baseball hat in well over a year. It was a Sabres hat. A green one. Two, actually. I was at a game with a friend and I found a green Sabres “slug” hat, so I bought it. Then I found a green hat with the original logo on it. So I had to buy that one, too.

I'd like to buy a new one soon. I'd really like for it to say “Buffalo Sabres — Stanley Cup Champions.” Hopefully they’ll make one like that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another day - Another stupid press release.

Interesting that this isn't attributed to Jane herself. I imagine it's for deniability purposes due to the snide tone.

- SL -

Statement from the Corwin Campaign
WILLIAMSVILLE – Matthew Harakal, Communications Director for Jane Corwin for Congress, made the following statement today regarding Kathy Hochul's latest press release: 
"It's not surprising that career politician Kathy Hochul thinks bureaucrats are in a better position than small businesses to decide how much their workers should get paid. Jane Corwin believes that small businesses know best how to run their companies, not government bureaucrats.
"Maybe Kathy Hochul should stick to sending out promotional press releases about our local hockey team because she clearly knows nothing about running a small business or creating jobs."
Matthew Harakal
Jane Corwin for Congress

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

All aboard the crazy train ...

I cannot stop watching the train wreck that is the race for the 26th Congressional District.

I know I said a week ago that the four -ring circus that race has turned into had essentially turned my stomach on politics. And, truth be told, they continue to astound and confound me. But sometimes, things are just far too funny to not enjoy.

Take, for example, the email I got last week from Rus Thompson, party planner of the TEA variety; It said that TEA New York was having a candidates night in Wheatfield and all were invited. Well, all except the guy they didn’t like.

Rus told me personally that they had not invited Ian Murphy because Murphy had made some disparaging comments about the troops in a story he wrote for the Buffalo Beast a few years back. Apparently, TEA New York thinks the First Amendment is ranked way too highly.

So the TEA peeps had their little party.

Of the three candidates they did invite, one (Jack Davis) had an engagement elsewhere, receiving the endorsement of the Tea Party Coalition. (Apparently, there's more than one Tea Party in Western New York.) Another (Kathy Hochul) was off doing something else, although I still don’t know what. Leaving only Jane Corwin having Tea.

At the end of their forum, TEA New York endorsed Corwin. Meaning, Jack Davis and Jane Corwin received simultaneous endorsements from the Tea Party, while Ian Murphy wasn’t allowed in and Kathy Hochul didn’t want in.

Then Sunday night, I get an email from the Hochul camp saying “Hochul congratulates Sabres. Calls on opponents to follow.” It added, “Hochul only candidate to support Sabres.”

As if that weren’t asinine enough, it goes on to specifically call on her opponents “Republican, Jane Corwin and Tea Party-endorsed candidate Jack Davis” to “join me in rooting for the Sabres in their run for the Stanley Cup.”

First of all, does Hochul not know about Murphy? Or was he just not worth the ink in her press release? Secondly, I was almost surprised that the press release spelled “Sabres” right. Is there a bigger non-issue than supporting the Sabres? Really?

Oddly, it seems to me that Murphy, the guy whom everyone else seems to be ignoring, has the most concise declaration of his views, clearly stated on his website. Of course, he also has a lot of bizarre statements and does some wacky things, like wearing a three-corner hat to the TEA New York event. I mean, I can understand why Rus Thompson doesn’t take him seriously. Who would do such a thing? Oh, right, Rus Thompson would. I think his three-corner hat is glued to his head.

Also, Ian has made an issue out of not having seen Corwin’s birth certificate. Of course, Corwin’s origin of birth isn’t really a matter of dispute, but it is a novel way of highlighting some of the craziness in American politics these days.

And right now, there is no better place to see craziness in American politics than in New York’s 26th Congressional District.

It’s like the crazy train derailed, and I just can’t stop watching.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I got the following email from the Hochul camp ...

Do I even have to comment? I think I will anyway ... Hmm ... It's conveniently my night to write a column ...

- SL -

Hochul only candidate to support Sabres
The following is a statement from Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York's 26th Congressional District:
"Now that the regular season is officially over, I congratulate the Sabres on an amazing 40th season and look forward to watching them in the playoffs.  Since my opponents – Republican, Jane Corwin, and Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Jack Davis – have refused to take a position on Congress's budget compromise, I now call on them to immediately join me in rooting on the Sabres in their run for the Stanley Cup."
More information about Kathy Hochul can be found at
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The politician who stole Christmas

All good things come to an end.

And so it was with my enjoyment of the race for the 26th Congressional District.

I said some time ago that this whole race was like Christmas. As it turns out, it was like that Christmas nightmare where you didn’t get any presents. Or that one birthday that went so wrong that you hate your birthday from then on.

I am so sick of hearing Jane Corwin whine. Even sicker with the knowledge that all that whining will likely land her a seat in Congress.

I’d love to hear what Corwin is going to do for us, but her camp is far too busy talking about the taxes that Kathy Hochul raised.

Now, to be fair, I don’t know anything about Kathy Hochul. I’ve never met her. And I doubt I’d vote for her.

I have, however, met Jane Corwin. And I liked her. She’s as smart as she is attractive. But the beauty she holds physically is matched by the ugliness in which she’s conducted herself in this campaign.
From day one, the Corwin camp has talked about Kathy Hochul being “Nancy Pelosi’s hand-picked candidate.” I’ve never heard Hochul mention Pelosi. Nor have I heard that Pelosi has mentioned Hochul — or for that matter, has any clue who she is.

And yet, it’s Corwin bringing in Speaker of the House John Boehner to stump for her. Hmm. Disingenuous, much?

Now, of course, it’s the Democrats complaining about Corwin’s plan to bring Boehner in. Frankly, that’s equally disingenuous. If there were a Democrat that was able to come save them, they’d surely bring that person in.

And to top it off, Len Lenihan and his ilk are claiming that the reason they’re opposed to Boehner coming to Western New York is because of Friday’s amendment on aviation safety that seems to be unanimously opposed by the families of the Flight 3407 tragedy. Also disingenuous. Lenihan opposes Boehner being in his backyard for purely political reasons and any other explanation looks petty … and is an affront to the families of the victims of that plane crash.

The thing that struck me the most is my genuine belief that the amendment passed Friday would not have come to fruition if Chris Lee was still in office. And whether Jane Corwin, Kathy Hochul, Jack Davis or Ian Murphy wins this special election May 24, the voters of that district will not have half the congressman they had in Chris Lee.

I’ve been looking forward to May 24 as though it were Christmas. Now I’m looking forward to it as though it were tax day, a day to get past.

It’s truly a shame that people couldn’t run for election based on what they’re going to do for us as opposed to scaring us about what their opponents might do.

If terrorism is the act of making people conform to your will through fear, what does that make politics lately?

All good things come to an end. And I fear that with this race, my love of politics does, too.
I can only hope I’m wrong.