Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Act in your own interest

Much noise has been made about a viral internet video featuring Wall Street professionals mocking protesters participating in the “Occupy Wall Street” campaign.

The video shows a hand full of well-dressed business types drinking champagne and taking photos of the protesters. Many have referred to it as “a slap in the face” of those on the streets picketing what they say are unfair market conditions that keep the rich rich, keep the poor poor and wipe out the middle class.

The war between the haves and the have-nots has gone on since the dawn of time and won’t end any time soon, but the current economic situation in the country, coupled with mass media alerting everyone to said economic situation makes it all the more heartbreaking.

While I think the Wall Street types’ actions are deplorable, I’m not in the “lynch them” crowd. From their perspective, their way of life is being attacked. In fact, from their point of view, they themselves are being attacked.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have much sympathy for them. I may even envy them, just like I imagine the protesters envy them, as well.

Most of us grew up learning that if we worked hard, we, too could have the American dream. And most of us believe that today. Some of us may have achieved that dream — with a house, two cars, a cat, a dog, picket fence, etc.

There are some people, though, who work hard every day and have less and less to show for it. In fact, right now, more Americans are slipping into poverty on a daily basis. They wish they could be drinking champagne and mocking the downtrodden. If only they could figure out a way to no longer be downtrodden.

It doesn’t help that right-wing talk radio and conservative news outlets have convinced us that the downtrodden are the problem. The people starving and homeless are what’s wrong with America, they’d have you believe. It’s almost social Darwinism. And it’s downright scary.

I’m certainly not saying storm the castle and take what you feel you deserve. That’s not what our republic is about. The revolution should be at the ballot box. But there will be no revolution if the people vote against their best interest.

Voting for someone who idolizes the rich because you idolize the rich is a path to your own destruction. Self loathing on account of your aspirations to be able to loathe the downtrodden from above is a huge mistake, to say the least.

So when it comes time to vote, vote for you or at the very least someone like you.

To paraphrase Niccolo Machiavelli, “deal with the situation at hand — not the situation you wish were at hand.” And the situation is that we’re empowering the destruction of the middle class.

Act in your own best interest. If you don’t, no one else will.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rangers/Flyers Winter Classic? Yawn!

I hate the Rangers. I hate the Flyers. And as much as I'm going to hate the Winter Classic this year, you know I'm going to watch it.

At least I will have been at the Sabres' game the night before.

Rangers to ring in New Year at Classic: The worst-kept secret in hockey is now as out in the open as the Rangers and Flyers will be on January 2, when they play in the NHL's fifth Winter Classic. "The Rangers-Flyers rivalry is one of our very best," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who finally made it official on Monday at Citizens Bank Park, site of the game.

Social network humor ...

epic fail photos - Failbook: Now Inciting A Rebellion With Just One Click!

That is NOT a spoon.

epic fail photos - I Think, Therefore I FAIL

Friday, September 23, 2011

So much for this being a football town ...

The following is from The Onion. Click the link to read in its entirety.

BUFFALO, NY—Following their thrilling 38-35 week-two victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday, the Buffalo Bills expressed confusion over what the hell they were supposed to do with their two wins now that they have them.

Buffalo Bills Don't Know What The Hell To Do With 2 Wins:

<3 The Onion.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Headlines FAIL

The funny thing is ... it's the same paper! Check the content. All the same. So why the difference in headlines?

epic fail photos - Obesity Study FAIL

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Buffalo ... a hockey town? Or a football town?

The following was originally published on the cover of the sports section of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal on Sept. 20, 2011.
Hello, hockey!
Sure, there was no Ryan Miller. Granted, there was no Thomas Vanek. And, yeah, there was no Derek Roy. But it was still the Buffalo Sabres.
For the next seven months, this is a hockey town. As the temperatures cool, it's like it's really Buffalo again.
Like the rest of the region, I'm happy to see the Bills off to a good start, but I know the best chance for a championship this year (or any year in the near-future) lies w/ the Sabres.
The Sabres looked good, beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1, Monday night. But I don't think anyone in the First Niagara Center cared what the score was.
It's hockey time. And this is a hockey town.
The "Leading Off" elicited the following response:
Hi Scott,
This is not a hockey town as much as it is a football town. If you had a poll on which the fans of Buffalo would rather have a Stanley Cup of a Super bowl Win, it would be hands down a Super bowl. I will say now that I am not a hockey fan as most people in this country are not. Woman's Softball has a higher TV rating than hockey does. We do have some of the best sport fans in the country but the difference between goings to a hockey game with 18,000 fans compared to 75,000 fans there is no comparison. Going to a Bills game is way more exciting. 
Bye now
Brian
So ... what do you think? I'm a hockey fan. I say this is a hockey town which happens to also have a football team people like. Brian is a football fan and says it's a football town.

Would you rather have a Stanley Cup? Or a Vince Lombardi Trophy?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Had a great time at the game tonight ...


Check out the rest of the photos on Picasa. (Sorry, they're just pix I took w/ my BlackBerry) ... and check out the running commentary on my twitter: @scottleffler ...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sounds about right ...

political pictures - newt gingrich - zombies - World War N

Republican zombies scare me!

Struggling for power and fighting the future


Like many of you, I'd imagine, I have a cell phone charger at home and another at work.
Funny story. For some reason that escapes me now, I brought my home charger to work on Wednesday. And forgot it there. So Thursday morning, my phone had drained completely and I had no charger. I live in Tonawanda and work in Lockport, so it's not like I could just pop in and grab it. It's about a half an hour drive. Fortunately, my downstairs neighbor uses the same charger and I got through the day.
After work on Thursday, I remembered to bring home my home charger.
Friday, I get to work and find that I'm actually working out of our Tonawanda offices instead of the Lockport office, like I usually do. So in order to make sure I got through the night, I brought my work phone charger to the Tonawanda News with me ... and then home.
My girlfriend and her kids came over Sunday to spend time with me and my girls. She brought her home charger with her ... and accidentally left it at my place. (She lives in Lockport)
After dropping my kids off at their mom's (Lockport) following the weekend, I popped into work to grab the power cord for my laptop, as I'm off for a few days and won't have the juice to get through it without the power cord, should I need to use my work laptop.
I would have let my girlfriend borrow my work charger, since we use the same type and I won't need it for the next three days ... but I left it at home. Along with my home charger. And her charger. If you're keeping track here, on Thursday morning, I had no phone chargers at home. As I type this, I have three.
Also, it's not without irony that the reason I had stopped into work at all was to get the laptop cord/charger.
---

Every day that passes, I'm a little older – and hopefully a little wiser, but more importantly (and sadly) right now, we're a little closer to winter.

It's football season and the Bills are off to a great start, having won half as many games already as they won all of last year.

Last night started Sabres' pre-season. That excites me a lot more than football season, quite frankly. If spending means winning, then the Sabres should have a great year this year. Of course, spending doesn't always mean winning, but I'm hopeful anyway.

My neighbor across the street put scarecrows out over the weekend. I think they're Halloween decoration. I love Halloween more than most, but I think it's a bit early to start decorating. Of course, it's better than my neighbor down the street who still has Christmas lights up – and lights them. I'm sure they'd say they're not “Christmas” lights, they're just lights. But I'm not buying it.

We've only got a little over three months before it's 2012 – and there's just 14 months before the world is supposed to end … again. You may recall that the rapture was supposed to occur earlier this summer and didn't. Of course, I'm okay with the world not ending this summer. And I'll be equally pleased if it doesn't end next December. I have too many things left to do than I'll be able to accomplish in 14 months. One of them, apparently, is to invent a way to charge phones and laptops without cords.

Power: A tale of three chargers

Like most of you, I'd imagine, I have a cell phone charger at home and another at work.
Funny story. For some reason that escapes me now, I brought my home charger to work on Wednesday. And forgot it there. So Thursday morning, my phone had drained completely and I had no charger. I live in Tonawanda and work in Lockport, so it's not like I could just pop in and grab it. It's about a half an hour drive. Fortunately, my downstairs neighbor uses the same charger and I got through the day.
After work on Thursday, I remembered to bring home my home charger.
Friday, I get to work and find that I'm actually working out of our Tonawanda offices instead of the Lockport office, like I usually do. So in order to make sure I got through the night, I brought my work phone charger to the Tonawanda News with me ... and then home.
My girlfriend and her kids came over today to spend time with me and my girls. She brought her home charger with her ... and accidentally left it at my place. (She lives in Lockport)
After dropping my kids off at their mom's (Lockport) following the weekend, I popped into work to grab the power cord for my laptop, as I'll be sitting in the press box for tomorrow night's Sabres game. 
I would have let my girlfriend borrow my work charger, since we use the same type (Micro-USB) and I won't need it for the next three days ... but I left it at home. Along with my home charger. And her charger. If you're keeping track here, on Thursday morning, I had no phone chargers at home. As I type this, I have three.
Also, it's not without irony that the reason I had stopped into work at all was to get the laptop cord/charger.
It's all about power.
Long story short, there's got to be a better way to power small electronic devices. 
I'd imagine that most of you have a calculator in or on your desk. The percentage of those calculators that are solar is probably stellar. Calculators can be powered by the sun (or your office lights). But almost nothing else is, save those Malibu lights that seem to putter out in the short winter days.
I actually have a solar charger for small electronic devices (photo at right). It has several interchangeable tips. But not one for my current phone. My old phone used a mini-USB plug. I don't understand, frankly, why the industry standard seems to have changed from mini-USB to micro-USB. I don't really see a difference in size. Just shape ... but that's another thought for another blog. Worth noting, of course, is you still need a cord to go from the solar charger to the phone or whatever you want to power.
There's some small electronic devices that are powered by kinetic energy. You move, it adds power. There's a line of watches that are like this. I think they're cool. Like bow ties.
I was at the grocery store this afternoon. Everything I touched shocked me. There's lots of static electricty in the air. I wonder why we can't find a way to harness that electricity and use it. Or solar. Or kinetic. Or ... anything. We are just as addicted to plugs as we are to oil. There's got to be someone out there to fix this. 
Please ... be that person. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Music Is Art a great time ... as always

The girls and I went to Music is Art again this year - for the third year in a row in the Albright Knox "neighborhood," although this year it was across the street in Delaware Park.
It seemed to us that the event doubled in size this year. Awesome. It's a great idea and a great time was had by all.
The photo at right is Free Henry, a band I had on WLVL back when I was doing "Music Fridays," and one which I've dealt with personally and professionally a number of times. They sounded great in their 15 minute set. For more photos, click here.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Danger: Crazy alert!

So ... apparently they left the doors open again on the crazy barn.

I just got off the phone with a guy who complained that we ran photos of the hijackers in our 9/11 coverage and in doing so have made them martyrs, which is "what the Muslims want."

Obviously, we did this, he said, because we are "a left-wing news organization." He added that no other newspaper in New York would have had the audacity to publish the photos of the hijackers. I told him to offer terms and I'd gladly make him a wager on the issue. He declined.

I asked him if every photo and video he's seen of Lee Harvey Oswald were shown for the purpose of making him a martyr.

He said, "He didn't kill 3,000 people!"

I pointed out that he did kill the president and some people thought that was kind of a big deal.

I knew I was going no where with the guy as soon as he said, "the Muslims." I offered to let him talk to my boss, but he declined and hung up quite curtly.

Oh, the crazies.

A world I can understand ...


Sept. 11th took a toll on all of us - and still does


I'll be honest, I wanted to avoid writing about Sept. 11th. You've already read so much about it in the last couple weeks and I've heard so much about it myself. I just wanted to stay away from it.

But I can't.

This weekend was hard for all of us. Every single person I know over the age of 20 has a “where were you when” story. Everyone has a story about how it affected them. Everyone knows someone they were worried about, whether it was a friend or colleague in New York or D.C., or whether it was someone local that they just couldn't stop worrying about.

My day was not unlike anyone else's. I got the news on my computer, went to the television and watched in horror as the day's events unfolded. From the instant the second plane hit, all I could think about was how badly I wanted my wife to come home.

It all seems almost silly now that we'd be worried about people in Buffalo or, in my case, Niagara Falls. But we had no idea how things would play out and given the degree to which the day already didn't make sense, who could blame us for not thinking clearly.

I got choked up a couple times this weekend. Try as I may, I couldn't help but go “back there” mentally, revisiting the fears that I had on the day.

For a male, I'm pretty big on dates. I remember birthdays and anniversaries. I remember what happened a year ago most days. I recall the dates of significant things that happened in my life. The closing date on my house, the day I bought my car, first dates, last dates, etc. I'm not sure why. If I were a computer, I would try to turn this feature off. Frankly, it's a hassle. 

No matter whether you're big on dates, though, Sunday was probably a big one for you. You could “feel” it around town. The quiet that cried out — people trapped in their own minds.

I went to a Sept. 11thmemorial Sunday at Lockport's VFW post 2535. “Quiet” was the word that summed it up. No one was on their cell phone. No one was texting. And the conversations that were happening were all in very hushed tones.

State Sen. George Maziarz was there and gave a very short speech. I've known the senator for several years. He never shies away from talking. But Sunday he said what he had to say in just a couple minutes, thanking the heroes of 10 years ago — as well as the heroes of today, and stepping away from the microphone.

For anyone that knows George Maziarz, you know he's a very outgoing person, always working the crowd, shaking hands, laughing. There was none of this on Sunday. He was quiet. Reserved. Maybe it was simply out of respect. Or maybe he was just like the rest of us, trapped in thought, thinking about the things that were important to him.

In truth, I'm glad to have the anniversary pass. It took an emotional toll, one I don't want to deal with again for a while. 

As I said, I didn't want to write about Sept. 11th. I'd rather focus on something else. But for better or worse, these past few days, nothing else existed.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Are we missing the obvious?

Another summer has come and passed. I hope you all got out there and took advantage of all that Western New York has to offer.

I spent most of the unofficial last weekend of summer eating, first at a family gathering and then at the 10th Annual National Buffalo Wing Festival.

I've gone to the chicken wing festival for several years now. And it always amazes me that there are these businesses around the world that make money – and lots of it – off of chicken wings. An entire industry, if you will, exists because of something that happened right here in Buffalo. And although wings remain a “Buffalo thing,” there are restaurants all across America that make Buffalo (and our wings) their specialty. 

Each restaurant seems to have their niche. Many seem to go for the hottest wing possible. Others go for different and unusual flavors. But they all recognize that Buffalo is the chicken wing capital of the world. 

For decades, people have recognized Buffalo as the birthplace of chicken wings. In fact, many parts of the country refer to them as “Buffalo wings.” 

But it took a somewhat obscure movie starring Bill Murray – who went to a fictional chicken wing festival in Buffalo - and a newspaper column asking why said chicken wing festival didn't really exist to make Drew Cerza, AKA the “Wing King,” stand up and say, “Why don't we celebrate this birthright of ours? Why don't we have a festival dedicated to chicken wings?”

And so, 10 years ago the National Buffalo Wing Festival was born. It's grown each year, attracting more and more media attention to one of the things that we do right. TV cameras from every major news organization were in town, showing Buffalo on a hot summer day instead of the standard blizzard footage they all seem to show every time Buffalo is mentioned.

For the fifth year in a row, yesterday, Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas won the chicken wing eating championship. This year she did it in style, eating 183 wings in 12 minutes, setting a new world record. I couldn't eat 183 wings in a week, let alone 12 minutes. 

Thomas' feat will no doubt bring even further attention to Buffalo. 

Good for us.

The whole thing makes me wonder, though; If we were so oblivious to not have a chicken wing festival one of the things we're most famous for, what else are we forgetting? What other obvious highlights, attractions and local oddities are we forgetting to promote? 

The rest of the world thinks of Buffalo as “the place where snow comes from.” But we have so many things to offer the world. From art and music to architecture and industry, Western New York has so much to be proud of. 

Which of you will be the next Drew Cerza? Which of you will be the next person to realize that there's something we need share with the world – and bring it to fruition?

* A side note: There was a “Ridiculously Hot Wing Eating Championship. The winner ate 20 of them in the least amount of time. I tried one of those hot wings from Hurricane Grill and Wings. My ears literally hurt and I was dizzy. They were impressive. And painful.